Day: September 12, 2018

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Quits for Huge NETFLIX Deal…


The Emmy-nominated showrunner details the battle all of Hollywood has buzzed about, including the Spike Lee-narrated episode that led to his departure, clashes with Disney’s Ben Sherwood, “monster” Roseanne and the anxiety of high expectations with his massive streaming deal: “I’m f—ing terrified.”

When Kenya Barris sat down last fall to write an episode of his ABC comedy Black-ish, titled “Please, Baby, Please,” he had a sense it might stir up trouble.

The setup was relatively simple: Dre, the Johnson family patriarch played by Anthony Anderson, was telling his infant son, Devante, a bedtime story that reflected on the events of his first year on the planet. It was, per multiple sources, a mix of political allegory (an animated fairy tale about a character named The Shady King) and actuality (news footage of Donald Trump, the Charlottesville attacks and the NFL kneeling protests). “When you’re putting a baby to sleep, you’re trying to soothe whatever anxieties they’re having,” says Barris, speaking for the first time about the controversial episode. “So, this was about me trying to pat the butt of the country and soothe people.”

“Please, Baby, Please,” which was supposed to air in the back half of the Emmy-nominated series’ fourth season, was shot in wide angle, with very little score. Production is said to have upped its usual episode budget of $3 million or so, spending handsomely on rights and clearances for such things as the Sam Cooke ballad “A Change Is Gonna Come,” which Barris personally met with Cooke’s goddaughter to secure. He enlisted a high-profile illustrator, too, and hired his hero Spike Lee to do voiceover, since the episode took its title and inspiration from a children’s book written by Lee and his wife. Rather than focus on the entire Johnson clan, as Black-ish typically does, the episode centered primarily on Dre and his interpretation of real-world events presented to his son as a form of catharsis. As a father of six, Barris has had plenty of experience calming children at bedtime.

“We approached it with the network and the studio as, ‘This is different,'” says the 44-year-old showrunner. “We certainly knew people would talk about it.”

The episode did, in fact, get people talking, if not for the reason Barris anticipated. Mere days before its scheduled Feb. 27 air date, “Please, Baby, Please” was mysteriously and indefinitely shelved. While Barris is strategic with his choice of words — careful never to utter the phrase “censorship” as others throughout the industry do — the move turned out to be the last straw in his long-standing and already complicated relationship with The Walt Disney Co. “I don’t know that I would have been as useful to them as they’d need me to be after that,” he offers. Those in his cast are far less diplomatic. Tracee Ellis Ross has called the decision “frightening,” while Anderson suggests it was a personal affront. “He’d given his blood, sweat and tears to [the episode], which they had signed off on every step of the way — from the outline, to the script, to the table read, to the point where they actually spent the money and made the episode,” says the actor, who’s also an executive producer. “And I don’t know what those conversations were, but we entered into this partnership with the understanding that we would be able to tell the stories that we wanted to tell.”

Anderson was first informed of the decision by Barris and his manager only four or five days before the episode was supposed to run. He, like much of the cast, was shocked, and more than a little confused. What Barris hadn’t told his actors was that he’d been quietly locked in battle over the episode’s fate for weeks. There’d been a flurry of back-and-forths with executives as high up as CEO Bob Iger, who called Barris from home, sick with laryngitis, and, per two sources, had a reasoned conversation with the showrunner about the political sensitivities of being a broadcast network in 2018. Executives at ABC, more than any other network, have been forthright about their desire for more red-state programming since Trump’s win — and with Barris’ latest episode, they feared they’d be alienating the very population they’d tried so hard to court. That Disney brass wouldn’t want to poke Trump himself just as the company was seeking Justice Department approval of its acquisition of most of 21st Century Fox is widely believed to have been a factor as well.

What becomes clear in Barris’ presence is how loath he is to piss off a group of executives with whom he still has plenty of business. “I know there was some concern about partisanship,” he says, “and the way the episode was angled and the balance in terms of some of the stories. On network TV, one of the things I’ve learned is that you have to talk about things from both sides.” He still refers to many of those Disney execs, including ABC Studios chief Patrick Moran and the network’s entertainment president Channing Dungey, as “family,” and praises Iger, the “best CEO in the world,” for expertly handling him during the episode and the ensuing imbroglio. “The boss doesn’t have to explain himself, but he explained enough — and he [did so] in a way that really gave light in a different way. And more than that, he spoke to me as a person.” Barris is considerably less laudatory of Ben Sherwood, the man Iger put atop Disney’s TV assets — though Sherwood’s days in that position, incidentally (or not), are said to be numbered as the post-merger structure takes shape. It was the executive’s style at which Barris bristled: “The way that [Ben] chose to deal with me in this particular episode, I felt a way about it and I still do. He’d make it seem like it was an open environment but really it wasn’t, and those are things I see very clearly. Everyone wants to say it’s open arms, but just tell me it’s not and I’ll respect you more.”

At ABC’s urging, Barris had his editor test a few of the suggested cuts — but it wasn’t as easy as a nip here or a tuck there, and the sheer tonnage of anti-Trump material rippling through the episode ultimately made the exercise futile. Barris hated what came back. “What it ended up being, and I think the network would agree, was not a true representation of what we intended to do,” he says. “Because if it was, we would’ve shown it.” Unable to reach a compromise, they collectively decided to scrap it. Not long after, Barris and his team would begin conversations with those same executives about being let out of his four-year contract, which he’d entered into only a year earlier. The creator also began talks with other high-profile suitors looking to elbow their way into the Kenya Barris business. And who could blame them? He’s been heralded as a modern Norman Lear — “One of the most flattering things I can hear,” says Lear himself — with his groundbreaking comedy giving way to a spinoff, Freeform’s Grown-ish, and a growing cadre of films including the 2017 summer smash Girls Trip, which he co-wrote. By mid-August, it was all done: Barris had exited ABC Studios and entered into an agreement with Netflix, joining a roster of heavyweights like Ryan Murphy, Jenji Kohan and his mentor, Shonda Rhimes. The deal is said to be in the high eight figures.

“If I was going to step out, I wanted to do something where I could take off all the straps and really hang out of the plane,” he says on a late-summer morning in Malibu. “I want to be Netflix with attitude — loud, bold and unapologetic.”

***

Barris is eager to focus on his next chapter, but Hollywood is still buzzing about the tightly guarded details of his last one. The script for “Please, Baby, Please,” after all, is all but impossible to find — “wiped from the planet,” says one top rep — and even key castmembers can’t get their hands on a completed episode. Anderson says he’s desperate for it to get out, if for no other reason than he believes it’s a powerful 22 minutes of television, but Barris insists it never will. “And honestly,” he says, “I hope it doesn’t because I’ll be looked at as the blame for it and I’ll fucking get sued.”

His decision to move on, however, wasn’t just about the shelved episode. It was an accumulation of realizations about the limitations of network TV and frustrations about his own inability to penetrate. While he was being lavished with plaudits and honors — to say nothing of being invited to dole out keynotes and speak at college graduations — not a single one of Barris’ other projects moved forward at ABC.

The one that hit hardest was a 2017 comedy pilot titled Libby & Malcolm. It was the timeliest of Barris’ offerings, centered on an interracial couple of two political pundits on opposite ends of the spectrum, played by Emmy winners Felicity Huffman and Courtney B. Vance. After multiple reshoots, at ABC’s request, the network passed. The decision coincided with another of his pilots, a dramedy starring Toni Collette, not going forward; his spinoff Grown-ish being pushed to Disney’s lesser-watched cable network; and Black-ish being moved out from behind Modern Family. The quadruple blow left Barris incensed.

“I’m aware when my things aren’t good,” he says now. “But I’d [gladly] have a forum and show these pilots to the world. If I’m crazy, judge me. I’ve done things where I’m like, ‘Ugh, that wasn’t right,’ these were not that. And it just becomes so frustrating.”

In late 2017, he finally got a series order for an Alec Baldwin comedy only to see Baldwin change his mind and bail a few months later; not long after, a pilot that ABC had shown little interest in was dropped by another network. Meanwhile, Black-ish got parked behind Roseanne, which gave it a significant ratings boost but a caustic association. Had ABC not canceled the revived series when it did, Barris was prepared to speak out. “Because fuck Roseanne,” he says. “She’s a fuckin’ monster. And they were like, ‘Why is this monster killing villagers?’ And I was like, ‘Because that’s what a monster does.'”

“Please, Baby, Please” was Barris’ breaking point. He’d been inspired to tell the story after reading an article about how Americans hadn’t been this anxious since the Vietnam War. “There’s this P.C. culture that’s been created where people feel like not talking about things makes it better,” he says, “but I think it makes it worse and that’s why I wanted to talk about the last year.” So, with an assist from Peter Saji, he wrote the episode and then decided he’d direct it, too. He had no way to know then that it would be his last time doing either.

Disney’s decision to let him walk wasn’t so simple. At a time when Netflix is vacuuming up creative and executive talent, doing so risked signaling to the community that contracts at its studio don’t carry much weight. But, ultimately, that concern was trumped by the realization that the relationship had run its course. According to insiders, the company saw little upside in holding him captive, particularly since he didn’t come cheap and it was unlikely they’d get much more out of him. Though Barris and several others flatly deny he got out by threatening that ABC had somehow breached his contract, as some in town had hypothesized, ABC sources say his reps did test variations on “We can’t control what he’s going to say.” Says one company insider, “It wasn’t worth it.”

With Barris suddenly on the market, Warner Bros. made a play that’s said to have been even richer than Netflix’s, but he had reservations. “I worried that at the end of the day I was still gonna have to do pilots and I was still gonna have to do network television,” says Barris. “It was the hardest decision for financial reasons because it was an amazing, generous offer, but if I was leaving ABC to go to Warner Bros. I feared I might be dancing to the same [song].” Netflix was an easier sell. He loved its “artist first” mantra, and the freedom to be able to tell other types of stories.

Still, he isn’t sure he would have made the leap had it not been for Rhimes. The Grey’s Anatomy creator, who famously got out of her ABC Studios deal with a year left on her contract, has been a role model to Barris. “I’m doing what I’m doing because of her. She’s a black writer but she wrote shows and that opened up the door for the types of things I wanted to do,” he says. “And for someone who was that successful at network TV for that long to make that move [to Netflix] made me understand the atrophy that can happen.” Put another way: If Rhimes — who had an entire night of programming named after her at ABC — could bail, so could Barris.

Though Disney’s top executives declined to comment for this story, Dungey told THR this summer: “Things are cyclical and Kenya is at a point in his career where he wants to explore some different things narratively that he didn’t feel he could do in broadcast.”

***

Before Black-ish, Barris was another angsty staff writer — on The Keenen Ivory Wayans Show and Soul Food, among others — trying to get his own show. He penned pilot after pilot, 18 in total. A few of them got made; none of them were ordered to series. It took No. 19, the first built wholly on autobiography, to understand where he’d been going wrong.

“I kept trying to make things for everybody else,” says the L.A. native, whose hardscrabble upbringing with an overworked mom and abusive dad is hard to play for laughs. “If I was writing about my family, I’d change the names to, like, Asher and Dillon.” Barris even had a go-to outfit to ensure he fit in when he’d go in to pitch. There was a button-down white shirt, cuffed a few times on each heavily tattooed forearm. He’d dress it up with khakis or down with a boot-cut jean, and he’d finish off the look with a pair of Rod Lavers or a Puma slide. His close-cropped hair was almost always hidden under a baseball cap; some days it was the Red Sox, others it was the Yankees. The choice was strictly sartorial but Barris was prepared to feign loyalty to either team if questioned.

“I called it my cloak of white acceptance,” he says now with a laugh. But he’d done his research. The cuffs came up or down depending on what type of white person was sitting across from him. “I was living so much for the notion of assimilation ’cause you want to be the safe black guy.”

That guy got work in white writers rooms, Barris reasoned, and that’s where he wanted to be. Or rather, it’s where he felt he needed to be. He’d tried the other route, writing on traditionally black shows like The Game, which at its height was shattering cable records on BET. “I’d walk into a staffing meeting and I’d say I’m on The Game and they’d be like, ‘What’s The Game?'” he says. “One of my better friends — he’s a white guy, and he wasn’t in any way trying to be a dick — said to me, ‘Yeah, but those were black people watching.’ I was like, ‘What the fuck did you just say? Like, what, those numbers don’t count?'”

Barris couldn’t help but internalize the blank stares. So much so that when he’d be asked by bosses if he’d rather have his own show on BET or be a supervising producer on a series like Modern Family, his answer was always immediate and definitive: the latter. “Everybody would be like, ‘Why?’ Like, ‘That’s just you pandering to the white man,'” he says. “I was like, ‘Yes, but at the same time I understand that I’m in this business to be in this business.’ And I knew that the only way that I could really make those voices relevant was I had to cross over.”

With Black-ish, he finally got that opportunity. He’d workshopped the idea over drinks with Anderson — the two had never met, but a mutual manager, Brian Dobbins, had a sense they’d get along. As one drink turned into several, they learned that they had more in common than they didn’t. Both hail from Los Angeles — Anderson from Compton, Barris from Inglewood — and both are first-generation success stories. “We’re also both the only African-Americans who live in our respective neighborhoods, and we talked about what that’s afforded us in life and, more importantly, what that’s afforded our children,” says Anderson. “How we’re giving them a different and better upbringing than we had. Then a week later, Kenya reached out to me and said, ‘I think I have our show.'” By then, Barris — whose own financial trajectory changed dramatically in 2003, when he helped his childhood pal Tyra Banks sell America’s Next Top Model — had worked in more of his own family life. He included characters like Rainbow, the biracial anesthesiologist mother, played by Ross, who’s modeled after his high-school sweetheart, now wife.

It was important to both men that this creation of theirs be given the biggest possible stage. They flirted with the idea of FX for a time but feared it could be perceived as a niche show on cable. “We wanted to make sure that it felt big and noisy but also very mainstream,” says Barris, who was ultimately struck by then-chief Paul Lee’s passion and the significance of telling this story on “America’s Broadcasting Channel.” Once Black-ish was ordered to series, he assembled a room that reflected the world he was portraying — a polyglot of age, gender and race. Collectively, the staff mined subjects, including the N-word, police brutality and postpartum depression, that were not previously considered broadcast fare. Says his collaborator Jonathan Groff, who’s white, “Kenya’s always trying to get those different voices together and have everyone really surprise each other without worrying about offending each other.”

The ABC marriage was never perfect, however. There famously was pushback on the title (the network preferred The Johnsons), and an initial round of testing yielded notes like, “Do you have to talk about so much black stuff?” Even as the series was scooping up Emmy nominations (13 to date) and a Peabody, ABC’s standards and practices division remained in almost perpetual panic. Vicki Dummer, the head of ABC’s current department whom Barris says he “loves to death,” once approached him with test results that expressed concerns about his “Juneteenth” episode making the series’ sizable white audience uncomfortable. “I was like, ‘Vicky, you mean the episode about how talking about slavery makes white people uncomfortable makes white people uncomfortable?’ And we laughed at the fuckin’ irony of it,” he says. “We ultimately showed it and it was a well-received episode, but she was doing her job and that’s a network fight.”

***

When Barris arrives for breakfast at the Chateau Marmont in late August, there’s no Red Sox cap or white button-down shirt. Instead, he has a few diamond chains dangling from his neck and a thousand-dollar pair of Louis Vuitton sneakers covering his feet. His loose-fitting jeans are held up by a Vuitton belt, his wrist is wrapped in a diamond-studded Apple watch and his inked-up arms now are almost entirely exposed.

“I don’t want to be gaudy,” he says, “but I do want to stand out.”

The morning’s locale was his choosing and he seems to know everyone who walks through the door. “At least everyone who is black,” he says with a laugh. But the decision to spend time at places that border on cliche, like the Chateau or the Soho House, another Barris haunt, is a conscious one on his part. “It’s important to make our presence known because it is tenderizing the meat of what’s to come,” he explains. “Because the next thing you know, my daughter and her friends feel comfortable coming and Lena [Waithe] feels comfortable coming and then there’s no longer a side-eye from people because it starts to become …” Normalized? “Yeah.”

Barris is acutely aware of the racial breakdown in every room he inhabits, even occasionally roping his kids into a game he calls “Count the Black People.” (When he took them to see Hamilton on Broadway, they counted Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Oprah Winfrey.) It’s a broader topic that he loves exploring through his art, but he shudders at the notion of being some sort of poster child for Hollywood’s diversity push — and he’s not particularly interested in sitting on any more panels to pontificate on the subject, either. In fact, he’s so tired of talking about “diversity” that he once broke down in tears on an industry stage. ” ‘Diversity’ became this catchphrase for the easing of liberal guilt and I felt like there was starting to be an overcorrection, which often happens, and overcorrections tend to re-correct themselves,” he says. “Plus, I didn’t want to be a part of a moment; I wanted to be a part of a movement.”

He’s hopeful that Netflix will allow him that. He got to know chief content officer Ted Sarandos through a Shaft reboot he’s penning for Samuel L. Jackson, which Netflix will distribute internationally. Sarandos was impressed not only by the strong point of view in Barris’ work but also by his volume, particularly in film, where he parlayed early successes writing Girls Trip and an installment of Barbershop into at least a half-dozen other opportunities. With the aid of Adderall and very little sleep, he’s co-authored scripts for reboots of Shaft, Cheaper By the Dozen and White Men Can’t Jump along with a Russell Simmons biopic that’s now shelved because of the sexual assault allegations against its subject. Still to come: a Bob Marley animated film and, ideally, a Last Dragon reboot, which he’d like to write and direct.

The fact that Barris has had considerably fewer scores on the TV side, where his Netflix pact is focused (for now, anyway), is of little concern to his new employer. Sarandos suggests that it speaks more to the narrow parameters of broadcast than it does Barris’ ability. “And Netflix isn’t [in the business of] having creators spinning their wheels on shows that are never going to get made,” Sarandos says. “We’re in the programming business to make programming.” He expects his latest hire will be working across the company’s many divisions, from scripted to stand-up.

In recent weeks, Barris has settled into his new offices at Raleigh Studios in Hollywood, and enlisted several pals — a mix of writers and writing assistants — to join his collective. He used to say he wanted to be “the black Judd Apatow,” a mentor and magnet to aspiring creatives; but after watching a recent documentary on Alexander McQueen, he’s now drawing inspiration from the fashion designer, too. “When McQueen went to go run Givenchy, he was like, ‘I’ll do it, but I gotta bring my boys.’ And I was like, ‘That’s exactly what I want to do. I want to be in my salon with my crew.'” There’s already a lengthy list of collaborators, including Grown-ish showrunner Julie Bean, who say they owe their careers to Barris. “There’s no other man in this town who was willing to give me a show,” Bean says. “But that’s who he is. If the UPS delivery guy came up to Kenya and said, ‘I have an idea for a show,’ he’d listen and he’d probably go, ‘Oh yeah, you should develop it,’ and then he’d help him do it.”

There is, of course, a safety in numbers, too. Collaborators can help shoulder both the workload and the pressure, and Barris has plenty of each. “I don’t know if it’s scary for Ryan or Shonda, but I’m fuckin’ terrified,” he says. He insists he doesn’t need ratings to know whether he’s succeeded or failed — and neither will his bosses or peers. The way he figures, Netflix has about eight to 10 shows that people actually talk about, and his will need to be No. 11, 12 and 13 to be considered a success. He adds, “One of my fears at Netflix is that there are so many shows, so it’s my job to make sure in that huge bundle we somehow find a way to be noisy.”

The company’s 130 million subscribers won’t need to wait long. The prolific idea generator — who was still passionately pitching projects at ABC Studios even as he was negotiating his way out the door — is already hurling out new ones: a comedy special from Black-ish‘s Deon Cole; a potential series adaptation of Between the World and Me, Ta-Nehisi Coates’ searing meditation on what it means to be black in America today.

Barris keeps coming back to this idea of turning the family comedy on its head, too. He’s cagey about what exactly he has in mind, though it’s clear his family could be a treasure trove of material for the not-fit-for-Disney version, as it was for years on Black-ish. He shares a few Barris family doozies he’d love to mine for laughs, like the time he took his oldest, college-aged daughter with him to Coachella and he found her high as kite. “I’m like, ‘Kaleigh, are you smoking fucking weed?’ And she goes, ‘Oh shit.’ I’m like, ‘What’s wrong with you?'” he says. “It ended up being this breakthrough for us because after it, she talked to me about other things and it caused such a tighter bond between us. But in that moment, I wanted to be a parent and I wanted to react but, like, I’m high, too. And that’s a thing I’d love to show but just by the nature of network television I could never do it.” Until now.

This story first appeared in the Sept. 12 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.



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Rat in Broth Wipes $190 Million Off Restaurant Chain's Value…


HONG KONG — At hotpot restaurants in China, most of the ingredients are relatively inexpensive. Customers dip pieces of raw meat and vegetables into a big vat of simmering broth until everything cooks and bubbles to the surface.

For one Chinese restaurant chain, however, an item found by a customer at one of its outlets has proved to be particularly costly: a rat.

A video of a small, dead rat — boiled, gelatinous and with its stunned arms outstretched — fished out of a vat of bubbling broth has shocked China, and sent shares of a popular restaurant chain plummeting.

The rat was found last week at a branch of the chain, Xiabu Xiabu, in Weifang, a city in the eastern province of Shandong. A local newspaper reported the incident on Friday and video footage of the customer picking the rat out with chopsticks circulated on Chinese social media all weekend.

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A small rat was discovered last week in a hotpot restaurant in eastern China. Images and video were widely shared on Chinese social media.

By the close of trading on Tuesday, shares in the chain’s parent company, Xiabuxiabu Catering Management, had fallen almost 12.5 percent, at one point dropping to their lowest in nearly a year. In all, the discovery of the rat had knocked about $190 million off the market value of the business, which is publicly traded in Hong Kong. The company’s shares recovered somewhat on Wednesday, gaining around 3 percent.

The rat appeared when hotpot has been enjoying something of a moment in China. Traditionally eaten as a family meal in winter, hotpot is a national favorite, and chains selling it are growing in popularity. Xiabu Xiabu and one of its rivals, Haidilao, have reported surging sales and an expanding network of restaurants.

The cuisine’s setup is similar to fondue, with customers sitting round a table centered on a large vat of simmering broth, which adds flavor to the toppings, and can be concentrated to the point of being opaque.

It was under such circumstances that the rat was dredged from swirling, red-hot broth.

Xiabu Xiabu initially released a statement Saturday night saying that it had “ruled out the possibility that an unhygienic environment has caused the rat to appear,” but that statement was later deleted and no new one has been issued. A company representative later said the chain had always taken great care over the quality and safety of its food.

The market supervision bureau, an official watchdog organization, in Weifang has ordered the Xiabu Xiabu branch to suspend its services for “improvement.” In a statement published on Sunday on the Chinese messaging platform WeChat, the bureau said that while it found no traces of rats, the restaurant had committed violations related to stagnant water and buying food from unlicensed suppliers.

Though hotpot has gained in popularity in recent years, customers across China have complained about questionable hygiene standards at hotpot chains, particularly over restaurants reusing hotpot broth with new customers.



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Presidential Chaos


The Oval Office is in chaos.  Donald Trump is mercurial, scatter-brained, given to changing his opinion every few minutes.  Talks all the time.  Doesn’t listen.  Is opinionated.  Often wrong.  He is interested only in today, not tomorrow.  He lacks caution.  It all adds up to a president who clearly is mentally deficient – insane even.  Or so some say.  They say it is vital for the Nation’s future that Donald Trump be relieved of his office – or at least tightly controlled.

All of the above may, or may not, be true.  Only those in a day-to-day working relationship with the president know the reality, and publicly they say only positive things about the man.

Whatever the truth, the simple fact is that Donald Trump is, thus far, perhaps the most productive president in American history.  Only Teddy Roosevelt is a productive rival, and chaos surrounded him, as well.  How can Trump’s purported chaotic insanity produce such positive results?

The simplest explanation is simple:  Donald Trump may be a genius!  Don’t laugh.  He may be the real thing.  He jokes about it, which suggests he doesn’t realize that he really is (see the Dunning-Kruger effect).  His career record certainly suggests he is a major creative talent – and a gutsy one at that.

Perhaps President Trump is the kind of genius who thrives on turmoil.  If so, that explains the chaos.  In my profession of physics, there have been several brilliant notables with exactly that characteristic.  It is not to say that Donald Trump lacks self-discipline.  He wouldn’t be where he is today if discipline was lacking.  His discipline is probably very different from the norm, but it clearly works.

Creative people understand chaos.  They especially understand it if they have collaborated with other talented people on a difficult problem.  Creative chaos is the norm in such an environment.  Without that chaos productivity can vanish.

More than half a century ago, equipped with a fresh physics degree, I attracted the attention of a group of professional inventors and was hired.  Most of the time the work was routine.  The real fun came, most days, when things were winding down.  Then a few of us would gather together for exercises in pure invention.  We were led by the group’s technical boss, a master inventor.  It was in these sessions that I received my training as a professional inventor.  The most noteworthy things about these sessions were their chaos and their entertainment value – they really were fun.

A problem would be posed.  It didn’t matter what kind of problem as long as there was no known solution.  Then came a great deal of discordant, often simultaneous, often loud, back and forth.  Chaos.  Then, sometimes popping out of the blue, a solution magically appeared.  Almost always these sessions would produce at least one patentable invention (and often more than one).  We usually didn’t file patent because the invention was seldom relevant to our business and patents are expensive.

Given the creative ferment there it is little wonder that the group produced a series of engineering masterpieces.

Later, after several uninspiring years in graduate school, I found myself working directly for one of the aerospace industry’s great geniuses.  Chaos again.  I was back in my element.  People change, personalities change, but the creative chaos is always the same – provided the talent is there.

Trump faces a problem: the Government.  The Government is not, by its nature, a creative institution.  When it tries to be it almost invariable gets it wrong.  Just consider all the failed social programs if you doubt this.

Government is good at routine.  Routine minds are repelled by the kind of turbulence that surrounds Donald Trump.  Which, of course, is the reason they have routine minds in routine jobs.  Government is process oriented and rule bound.  Once a routine is established things tend to go smoothly for a while.  Unfortunately routine breaks down in stressing situations.  Then, creative thinking is required.  But the creativity is usually not there.  Creative people just don’t fit comfortably in a process oriented organization.

The aerospace industry has many examples where process breaks down.  One program, where I was involved at a senior level, suffered from excessive process.  The program manager was a retired Lieutenant General who had had great success managing a key part of the first Gulf War.  He was highly intelligent and accessible.  But he did not understand the creative chaos required for success in this kind of program.  What he did understand was process.

Key decisions were to be made according to a detailed schedule, not for technical merit.  After an expenditure of more than a billion dollars of government money, and hundreds of millions of dollars of corporate investment, the program was canceled.  Process had killed the program.

The people who thrive at upper levels in Government are mostly highly intelligent conventional thinkers.  Put them in the service of someone like Donald Trump and they may do outstanding work.  Or, they may rebel and engage in subversion.  Such rebellion seems to be a problem today.

According to the notorious 9/5/18 New York Times op ed piece by Anonymous,  there exists an informal Steady State conspiracy at high levels in Trump’s administration.  Reportedly, this group has interfered with the president’s decision process.  It has done so by pilfering documents that were put in front of him to sign.  Implied, this group also biases the information going to the president.  Is this editorial factual?  Or, is it just malicious disinformation from the swamp?  If it is real then substantial housecleaning is in order.  In any case, among a cast of hundreds, or even thousands, there inevitably will be those who will be disaffected.

In time the mix of the people around the president will have evolved to be a buffer between the productive conventional thinkers and their highly unconventional boss.  In engineering terms, Trump’s senior staff should serve as an efficient impedance matching device.  Given Donald Trump’s major talents, and with such a mature staff around the president, we can expect this administration to go down as one history’s greatest.

Graphic credit: Pixabay

The Oval Office is in chaos.  Donald Trump is mercurial, scatter-brained, given to changing his opinion every few minutes.  Talks all the time.  Doesn’t listen.  Is opinionated.  Often wrong.  He is interested only in today, not tomorrow.  He lacks caution.  It all adds up to a president who clearly is mentally deficient – insane even.  Or so some say.  They say it is vital for the Nation’s future that Donald Trump be relieved of his office – or at least tightly controlled.

All of the above may, or may not, be true.  Only those in a day-to-day working relationship with the president know the reality, and publicly they say only positive things about the man.

Whatever the truth, the simple fact is that Donald Trump is, thus far, perhaps the most productive president in American history.  Only Teddy Roosevelt is a productive rival, and chaos surrounded him, as well.  How can Trump’s purported chaotic insanity produce such positive results?

The simplest explanation is simple:  Donald Trump may be a genius!  Don’t laugh.  He may be the real thing.  He jokes about it, which suggests he doesn’t realize that he really is (see the Dunning-Kruger effect).  His career record certainly suggests he is a major creative talent – and a gutsy one at that.

Perhaps President Trump is the kind of genius who thrives on turmoil.  If so, that explains the chaos.  In my profession of physics, there have been several brilliant notables with exactly that characteristic.  It is not to say that Donald Trump lacks self-discipline.  He wouldn’t be where he is today if discipline was lacking.  His discipline is probably very different from the norm, but it clearly works.

Creative people understand chaos.  They especially understand it if they have collaborated with other talented people on a difficult problem.  Creative chaos is the norm in such an environment.  Without that chaos productivity can vanish.

More than half a century ago, equipped with a fresh physics degree, I attracted the attention of a group of professional inventors and was hired.  Most of the time the work was routine.  The real fun came, most days, when things were winding down.  Then a few of us would gather together for exercises in pure invention.  We were led by the group’s technical boss, a master inventor.  It was in these sessions that I received my training as a professional inventor.  The most noteworthy things about these sessions were their chaos and their entertainment value – they really were fun.

A problem would be posed.  It didn’t matter what kind of problem as long as there was no known solution.  Then came a great deal of discordant, often simultaneous, often loud, back and forth.  Chaos.  Then, sometimes popping out of the blue, a solution magically appeared.  Almost always these sessions would produce at least one patentable invention (and often more than one).  We usually didn’t file patent because the invention was seldom relevant to our business and patents are expensive.

Given the creative ferment there it is little wonder that the group produced a series of engineering masterpieces.

Later, after several uninspiring years in graduate school, I found myself working directly for one of the aerospace industry’s great geniuses.  Chaos again.  I was back in my element.  People change, personalities change, but the creative chaos is always the same – provided the talent is there.

Trump faces a problem: the Government.  The Government is not, by its nature, a creative institution.  When it tries to be it almost invariable gets it wrong.  Just consider all the failed social programs if you doubt this.

Government is good at routine.  Routine minds are repelled by the kind of turbulence that surrounds Donald Trump.  Which, of course, is the reason they have routine minds in routine jobs.  Government is process oriented and rule bound.  Once a routine is established things tend to go smoothly for a while.  Unfortunately routine breaks down in stressing situations.  Then, creative thinking is required.  But the creativity is usually not there.  Creative people just don’t fit comfortably in a process oriented organization.

The aerospace industry has many examples where process breaks down.  One program, where I was involved at a senior level, suffered from excessive process.  The program manager was a retired Lieutenant General who had had great success managing a key part of the first Gulf War.  He was highly intelligent and accessible.  But he did not understand the creative chaos required for success in this kind of program.  What he did understand was process.

Key decisions were to be made according to a detailed schedule, not for technical merit.  After an expenditure of more than a billion dollars of government money, and hundreds of millions of dollars of corporate investment, the program was canceled.  Process had killed the program.

The people who thrive at upper levels in Government are mostly highly intelligent conventional thinkers.  Put them in the service of someone like Donald Trump and they may do outstanding work.  Or, they may rebel and engage in subversion.  Such rebellion seems to be a problem today.

According to the notorious 9/5/18 New York Times op ed piece by Anonymous,  there exists an informal Steady State conspiracy at high levels in Trump’s administration.  Reportedly, this group has interfered with the president’s decision process.  It has done so by pilfering documents that were put in front of him to sign.  Implied, this group also biases the information going to the president.  Is this editorial factual?  Or, is it just malicious disinformation from the swamp?  If it is real then substantial housecleaning is in order.  In any case, among a cast of hundreds, or even thousands, there inevitably will be those who will be disaffected.

In time the mix of the people around the president will have evolved to be a buffer between the productive conventional thinkers and their highly unconventional boss.  In engineering terms, Trump’s senior staff should serve as an efficient impedance matching device.  Given Donald Trump’s major talents, and with such a mature staff around the president, we can expect this administration to go down as one history’s greatest.

Graphic credit: Pixabay



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209026.png

The Once 'Golden State' Is Badly Tarnished


With crime soaring, rampant homelessness, sanctuary state status attracting the highest illegal immigrant population in the country and its “worst state in the U.S. to do business” ranking for more than a decade, California and its expansive, debt-ridden, progressive government is devolving into a third-world country. In cities such as San Francisco, public defecation is legal, drug use is flagrant, and tent cities are designated biohazards. In once pristine San Diego, contractors have been spraying down homeless encampments with household bleach to stave off a hepatitis A epidemic. The so-called “Golden State,” which now has the highest poverty rate in the nation, is tarnished beyond recognition with such serious problems that the sublime climate and striking coastline may no longer be enough to sustain its reputation and cachet. With laws that benefit criminals and illegals, big government that endeavors to control every aspect of residents’ lives from plastic bags to straws; sanctioned street, tent, and vehicle dwelling; and an unaffordable overhyped bullet train boondoggle that will cost taxpayers almost $100 billion, California is headed for economic disaster.

Rising Crime

In the past few years, California has instituted criminal justice reform legislation and initiatives, ostensibly to reduce budget expenditures and prison overcrowding, which has led invariably to the release of more criminals into the state’s population.

  • Proposition 47, a referendum passed in 2014, reclassified certain drug possession felonies to misdemeanors and required misdemeanor sentencing for theft when the amount involved is $950 or less. Drug possession for personal use is now considered a misdemeanor.
  • Proposition 57, a statewide ballot proposition passed in 2016, changed parole policies for those convicted of nonviolent felonies. But the proposition failed to define “nonviolent crimes”. The result was that those committing “nonviolent” crimes such as rape of an unconscious or intoxicated person, assault of a police office, domestic violence, hostage taking, drive-by shootings, and human trafficking of a child became eligible for early parole based on a paper review in lieu of a parole hearing.
  • Assembly Bill 1448 and Assembly Bill 1308 allow for the early release of prisoners who are 60 years or older who have served at least 25 years of their sentence and prisoners who committed crimes at least 25 years or younger who have served at least 15 years, respectively. Both were signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown in 2017.
  • In June this year, Gov. Brown signed into law AB 1810, that gives defendants a chance to have their charges dismissed and evidence of their arrest erased from the record if they can convince a judge that they suffer from a treatable mental disorder. Such defendants could be offered a pretrial diversion of two years to undergo mental health treatment.

As may have been expected with lenient policies, violent crime and property crime rates in the state increased and will mostly likely soar in the aftermath of some of the newly implemented measures.  An FBI study of crime rates from 2014 to 2015 found that 48 California cities saw overall increases with 24 experiencing increases in the double digits for property crime, an increase directly attributable to Prop. 47, according to Marc Debbaudt, past president of the Association of Los Angeles Deputy District Attorneys.

Homelessness

As of 2017, California had a homeless population of over 134,000, or one quarter of the nation’s homeless. UCLA researcher William Yu noted that 26% of California’s homeless are severely mentally ill, 18% are chronic drug abusers, 9% are veterans and 24% are victims of domestic abuse. Orange County Supervisor, Tod Spitzer attributes much of the problem to legislation signed by Governor Jerry Brown over the past few years that markedly decreased the penalties for drug use, possession, and petty crimes, thereby reducing arrests and eliminating mandatory treatment for drug abuse and mental health treatment.

Where other states have successfully instituted welfare-to-work programs, California’s liberal government has resisted pro-work reforms and retained a system of cash disbursements with no strings attached. This has led to a state bureaucracy that continues to grow and expand its budget, staffing, and client base. Inordinately high housing prices, somewhat driven by restrictive land use and environmental regulations, have exacerbated the problem.

Civil rights organizations such as the ACLU have made the homelessness issue a difficult one to tackle. In 2003, the ACLU filed a lawsuit, Jones v. City of Los Angeles, on behalf of homeless people who were ticketed and arrested for sleeping on public sidewalks at night. In 2006, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled on the lawsuit by striking down the Los Angeles ordinance that made it a crime for homeless people to sleep on the streets when no shelter is available. Not only is it permissible to pitch a tent in many areas in the state but also vehicle dwelling is allowed in Los Angeles residential areas from 6:00 a.m. to 9 p.m. and in business and industrial areas from 9:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m.

Illegal Immigration

California, a sanctuary state, is home to at least 4 million illegal immigrants and their children. National Economics Editorial, a website that covers economic issues, has estimated that those in the state illegally contribute $3.5 billion in taxes while costing California approximately $30.3 billion annually, or 17.7% of the state budget. According to the Migration Policy Institute (MPI), more than half are unskilled, uneducated, and lack English proficiency.

Services to illegals include welfare, food stamps, meal programs, free immunizations, low-cost housing and in-state tuition rates. In addition, children of illegals make up 18% of the public-school population, straining the already burdened school system by increasing student-to-teacher ratios and by impeding the learning process with supplemental, English-language instruction.

Unchecked illegal immigration comes with a marked increase in crime rates. Those who have broken the law to come to the United States are overrepresented in murder charges, drug trafficking, and gang violence. Increased policing, court, and incarceration costs put additional strain on the justice syste. In 2014, the U.S. Department of Justice and U.S. Sentencing Commission reported that illegal immigrants committed over 13% of all U.S. crime, and a particularly high level of violent and drug-related crimes, according to criminologist and law enforcement expert Ron Martinelli. A substantial illegal immigrant population coupled with a policy signed by Governor Jerry Brown in 2014 that protects criminal illegal immigrants by reducing their sentences to fall below federal standards for deportation further aggravates the problem. This, at a time when 59% of Californians want to increase deportations of illegals.

In a measure that would add to costs and incentivize illegal entry, California gubernatorial candidate, Gavin Newsom, plans to issue an Executive Order to grant universal healthcare, if elected. Former governor Pete Wilson warns that a system that removes all market-based competition could produce annual budget shortfalls of $40 billion, add six million illegals to the healthcare rolls, encourage medical tourism, and restrict the range of care and increase waiting times for California citizens. The resulting elimination of competitive private sector health care options would mean that more businesses and sources of tax revenue will leave the state.

Poor Business Climate

In 2014, Chief Executive magazine quoted CEO comments like  “California goes out of its way to be anti-business,” “California continues to lead in disincentives for growth businesses to stay,” and “The regulatory, tax and political environment are crushing.” California’s reputation as the worst state to do business has a lot to do with its high tax rates.  In addition to having the highest state income tax in the nation, it has the highest sales tax rate, the 9th highest corporate income tax rate, one of the highest property tax rates and the highest gasoline tax rate. Yet, with a shortfall of $612 billion when future pensions, bond repayments and other debts are added to the budget shortfall, the state is drowning in debt, more than twice as much debt as any other state. In addition, the cost of living is 36% higher than the national rate, and, at 23.4%, California has the highest poverty rate in the nation, according to former California Assemblyman Steve Baldwin. 

California, a world leader in technology, entertainment, agriculture, and a past global trendsetter in culture and innovation, has been dominated for decades by a government made up of far-left ideologues. These so-called “progressives” have supported an ever-growing and onerous regulatory climate that effectively redistributes wealth by adding to an already burdensome rate of taxation and expanding entitlement programs. Given the current business environment and policies on crime, homelessness, and illegal entry that are likely to continue, the once “Golden State” could become a failed state in short order if left unchecked.  In the words of Steve Baldwin, “A state cannot chase away the producers and attract the takers year after year without economic consequences.” 

With crime soaring, rampant homelessness, sanctuary state status attracting the highest illegal immigrant population in the country and its “worst state in the U.S. to do business” ranking for more than a decade, California and its expansive, debt-ridden, progressive government is devolving into a third-world country. In cities such as San Francisco, public defecation is legal, drug use is flagrant, and tent cities are designated biohazards. In once pristine San Diego, contractors have been spraying down homeless encampments with household bleach to stave off a hepatitis A epidemic. The so-called “Golden State,” which now has the highest poverty rate in the nation, is tarnished beyond recognition with such serious problems that the sublime climate and striking coastline may no longer be enough to sustain its reputation and cachet. With laws that benefit criminals and illegals, big government that endeavors to control every aspect of residents’ lives from plastic bags to straws; sanctioned street, tent, and vehicle dwelling; and an unaffordable overhyped bullet train boondoggle that will cost taxpayers almost $100 billion, California is headed for economic disaster.

Rising Crime

In the past few years, California has instituted criminal justice reform legislation and initiatives, ostensibly to reduce budget expenditures and prison overcrowding, which has led invariably to the release of more criminals into the state’s population.

  • Proposition 47, a referendum passed in 2014, reclassified certain drug possession felonies to misdemeanors and required misdemeanor sentencing for theft when the amount involved is $950 or less. Drug possession for personal use is now considered a misdemeanor.
  • Proposition 57, a statewide ballot proposition passed in 2016, changed parole policies for those convicted of nonviolent felonies. But the proposition failed to define “nonviolent crimes”. The result was that those committing “nonviolent” crimes such as rape of an unconscious or intoxicated person, assault of a police office, domestic violence, hostage taking, drive-by shootings, and human trafficking of a child became eligible for early parole based on a paper review in lieu of a parole hearing.
  • Assembly Bill 1448 and Assembly Bill 1308 allow for the early release of prisoners who are 60 years or older who have served at least 25 years of their sentence and prisoners who committed crimes at least 25 years or younger who have served at least 15 years, respectively. Both were signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown in 2017.
  • In June this year, Gov. Brown signed into law AB 1810, that gives defendants a chance to have their charges dismissed and evidence of their arrest erased from the record if they can convince a judge that they suffer from a treatable mental disorder. Such defendants could be offered a pretrial diversion of two years to undergo mental health treatment.

As may have been expected with lenient policies, violent crime and property crime rates in the state increased and will mostly likely soar in the aftermath of some of the newly implemented measures.  An FBI study of crime rates from 2014 to 2015 found that 48 California cities saw overall increases with 24 experiencing increases in the double digits for property crime, an increase directly attributable to Prop. 47, according to Marc Debbaudt, past president of the Association of Los Angeles Deputy District Attorneys.

Homelessness

As of 2017, California had a homeless population of over 134,000, or one quarter of the nation’s homeless. UCLA researcher William Yu noted that 26% of California’s homeless are severely mentally ill, 18% are chronic drug abusers, 9% are veterans and 24% are victims of domestic abuse. Orange County Supervisor, Tod Spitzer attributes much of the problem to legislation signed by Governor Jerry Brown over the past few years that markedly decreased the penalties for drug use, possession, and petty crimes, thereby reducing arrests and eliminating mandatory treatment for drug abuse and mental health treatment.

Where other states have successfully instituted welfare-to-work programs, California’s liberal government has resisted pro-work reforms and retained a system of cash disbursements with no strings attached. This has led to a state bureaucracy that continues to grow and expand its budget, staffing, and client base. Inordinately high housing prices, somewhat driven by restrictive land use and environmental regulations, have exacerbated the problem.

Civil rights organizations such as the ACLU have made the homelessness issue a difficult one to tackle. In 2003, the ACLU filed a lawsuit, Jones v. City of Los Angeles, on behalf of homeless people who were ticketed and arrested for sleeping on public sidewalks at night. In 2006, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled on the lawsuit by striking down the Los Angeles ordinance that made it a crime for homeless people to sleep on the streets when no shelter is available. Not only is it permissible to pitch a tent in many areas in the state but also vehicle dwelling is allowed in Los Angeles residential areas from 6:00 a.m. to 9 p.m. and in business and industrial areas from 9:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m.

Illegal Immigration

California, a sanctuary state, is home to at least 4 million illegal immigrants and their children. National Economics Editorial, a website that covers economic issues, has estimated that those in the state illegally contribute $3.5 billion in taxes while costing California approximately $30.3 billion annually, or 17.7% of the state budget. According to the Migration Policy Institute (MPI), more than half are unskilled, uneducated, and lack English proficiency.

Services to illegals include welfare, food stamps, meal programs, free immunizations, low-cost housing and in-state tuition rates. In addition, children of illegals make up 18% of the public-school population, straining the already burdened school system by increasing student-to-teacher ratios and by impeding the learning process with supplemental, English-language instruction.

Unchecked illegal immigration comes with a marked increase in crime rates. Those who have broken the law to come to the United States are overrepresented in murder charges, drug trafficking, and gang violence. Increased policing, court, and incarceration costs put additional strain on the justice syste. In 2014, the U.S. Department of Justice and U.S. Sentencing Commission reported that illegal immigrants committed over 13% of all U.S. crime, and a particularly high level of violent and drug-related crimes, according to criminologist and law enforcement expert Ron Martinelli. A substantial illegal immigrant population coupled with a policy signed by Governor Jerry Brown in 2014 that protects criminal illegal immigrants by reducing their sentences to fall below federal standards for deportation further aggravates the problem. This, at a time when 59% of Californians want to increase deportations of illegals.

In a measure that would add to costs and incentivize illegal entry, California gubernatorial candidate, Gavin Newsom, plans to issue an Executive Order to grant universal healthcare, if elected. Former governor Pete Wilson warns that a system that removes all market-based competition could produce annual budget shortfalls of $40 billion, add six million illegals to the healthcare rolls, encourage medical tourism, and restrict the range of care and increase waiting times for California citizens. The resulting elimination of competitive private sector health care options would mean that more businesses and sources of tax revenue will leave the state.

Poor Business Climate

In 2014, Chief Executive magazine quoted CEO comments like  “California goes out of its way to be anti-business,” “California continues to lead in disincentives for growth businesses to stay,” and “The regulatory, tax and political environment are crushing.” California’s reputation as the worst state to do business has a lot to do with its high tax rates.  In addition to having the highest state income tax in the nation, it has the highest sales tax rate, the 9th highest corporate income tax rate, one of the highest property tax rates and the highest gasoline tax rate. Yet, with a shortfall of $612 billion when future pensions, bond repayments and other debts are added to the budget shortfall, the state is drowning in debt, more than twice as much debt as any other state. In addition, the cost of living is 36% higher than the national rate, and, at 23.4%, California has the highest poverty rate in the nation, according to former California Assemblyman Steve Baldwin. 

California, a world leader in technology, entertainment, agriculture, and a past global trendsetter in culture and innovation, has been dominated for decades by a government made up of far-left ideologues. These so-called “progressives” have supported an ever-growing and onerous regulatory climate that effectively redistributes wealth by adding to an already burdensome rate of taxation and expanding entitlement programs. Given the current business environment and policies on crime, homelessness, and illegal entry that are likely to continue, the once “Golden State” could become a failed state in short order if left unchecked.  In the words of Steve Baldwin, “A state cannot chase away the producers and attract the takers year after year without economic consequences.” 



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209024.png

Our Lefty Friends' 'Spartacus Illusion'


For the last three years I have been developing a theory about the left’s “activism” culture. But I have failed miserably to come up with a catchy title for the whole thing.

Thank you, Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ). You are a champ!

I am here to say that the whole culture of left-wing “activism,” starting not later than Marx and Engels, is a “Spartacus Illusion,” the fantasy — or conceit, or outright lie — of little lefty rich kids from the ruling class thinking they are slaves taking it to The Man.

When a United States senator, protected by Capitol Hill police, says “I am Spartacus” he is delusional. When Good Little Liberal Girls get up in Handmaid’s Tale cosplay outfits they are not sex-slaves of the ruling class: they are the ruling class.

(Hey Handmaid girls! Have you ever thought that the sexual revolution plus abortion plus no-fault divorce plus hook-up culture has made you into sex-slaves? Didn’t think you had.)

As Mary McCarthy said of Lillian Hellman: Everything she writes is a lie, including “and” and “the.” I know this is true because I once went to a performance of Hellman’s “Watch on the Rhine,” at the Berkeley Repertory Theater, no less. McCarthy has it exactly right. About “and” and “the.”

Everything the left says is a lie, including “I am Spartacus.”

It started with Marx and Engels declaring that heaven for the workers would be the government owning the means of production. Yeah, right. It led to poverty and starvation every time it was tried. Marxism is not justice, it is neo-slavery.

It continued with the Brit-kid Fabians and their plan for a welfare state. I don’t know what you call a state that spends 40-50 percent of GDP on government programs. The welfare state is not freedom from want, it is neo-feudalism.

Then the Frankfurt School rich kids came up with the cool idea to organize women and minorities in fake tribes all the better to divide and conquer the peoples of democratic capitalist states. Identity politics is not emancipation, it is neo-tribalism.

And don’t get me started on the Sixties Kidz and the “Resistance.”

The lefties call this progress. Or bending the arc of history. I call it the Great Reaction.

(By the way, the straight scoop on little rich kids is still War and Peace. Yeah. Poor little rich kid Pierre Besukhov. But at least Besukhov was shy and mild-mannered. And he got the girl.)

While all these rich kids have been acting out with their activism and their “I am Spartacus” delusions the market economy, unheralded and unplanned, merely increased real per capita income by 30 times in 200 years. I showed a nice liberal lady my Great Enrichment page the other day. She had no idea. How come, NPR and New York Times? How come nice liberal ladies have no idea about the most important fact of our time?

Hey I know! How about a Ken Burns documentary series on PBS featuring Ms. Great Enrichment herself, Deirdre McCloskey, taking the part of Shelby Foote. McCloskey is transgender so we could pile on anyone that criticized her and get xem thrown off social media as transphobic!  Whaddya say, Zuck’n’Jack?

Let me lay it to you straight, lefties.

When your side figures it can make a mockery of a U.S. Senate hearing, complete with staged “protests” from the back row and Spartacus moments from an elected senator, it means you are the ruling class. Republicans would never dare do such a thing.

When your side treats the assault on a government office, like ICE in Portlandia, OR, as a minor peccadillo, it means that your side is the ruling class. Imagine the panic if some alt-right tiki-torchers tried that with You Know Who at 8th Avenue and 42nd Street! Anonymous would be the least of it.

When a former President of the United States stands next to the most notorious racists in the USA at a celebrity funeral, it means that those racists are tolerated — nudge-nudge, wink-wink, know what I mean — by the ruling class.  Imagine any former president ever standing next to David Duke.

When Good Little Girls are showing up all over with cutesy-wootesy protest signs just like they were taught in Activism class, they are not speaking truth to power. The are rich kids strutting the latest fashion.

Real protest is the Captain Swing rioters in Britain in 1820 smashing the threshing machines that were taking away their livelihood. And nobody cared.

Real protest is the protesters you never hear about in Venezuela protesting against starvation. ‘Cos nobody cares.

Here is how to tell real protest from fake protest. The real thing is reactive, far too late, unheralded, the last futile punches of a punch-drunk boxer, And nobody cares.

Kinda like the original Spartacus Rebellion.

As opposed to the fake one, starring Cory Booker as Kirk Douglas.

Christopher Chantrill @chrischantrill runs the go-to site on US government finances, usgovernmentspending.com. Also get his American Manifesto and his Road to the Middle Class.

For the last three years I have been developing a theory about the left’s “activism” culture. But I have failed miserably to come up with a catchy title for the whole thing.

Thank you, Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ). You are a champ!

I am here to say that the whole culture of left-wing “activism,” starting not later than Marx and Engels, is a “Spartacus Illusion,” the fantasy — or conceit, or outright lie — of little lefty rich kids from the ruling class thinking they are slaves taking it to The Man.

When a United States senator, protected by Capitol Hill police, says “I am Spartacus” he is delusional. When Good Little Liberal Girls get up in Handmaid’s Tale cosplay outfits they are not sex-slaves of the ruling class: they are the ruling class.

(Hey Handmaid girls! Have you ever thought that the sexual revolution plus abortion plus no-fault divorce plus hook-up culture has made you into sex-slaves? Didn’t think you had.)

As Mary McCarthy said of Lillian Hellman: Everything she writes is a lie, including “and” and “the.” I know this is true because I once went to a performance of Hellman’s “Watch on the Rhine,” at the Berkeley Repertory Theater, no less. McCarthy has it exactly right. About “and” and “the.”

Everything the left says is a lie, including “I am Spartacus.”

It started with Marx and Engels declaring that heaven for the workers would be the government owning the means of production. Yeah, right. It led to poverty and starvation every time it was tried. Marxism is not justice, it is neo-slavery.

It continued with the Brit-kid Fabians and their plan for a welfare state. I don’t know what you call a state that spends 40-50 percent of GDP on government programs. The welfare state is not freedom from want, it is neo-feudalism.

Then the Frankfurt School rich kids came up with the cool idea to organize women and minorities in fake tribes all the better to divide and conquer the peoples of democratic capitalist states. Identity politics is not emancipation, it is neo-tribalism.

And don’t get me started on the Sixties Kidz and the “Resistance.”

The lefties call this progress. Or bending the arc of history. I call it the Great Reaction.

(By the way, the straight scoop on little rich kids is still War and Peace. Yeah. Poor little rich kid Pierre Besukhov. But at least Besukhov was shy and mild-mannered. And he got the girl.)

While all these rich kids have been acting out with their activism and their “I am Spartacus” delusions the market economy, unheralded and unplanned, merely increased real per capita income by 30 times in 200 years. I showed a nice liberal lady my Great Enrichment page the other day. She had no idea. How come, NPR and New York Times? How come nice liberal ladies have no idea about the most important fact of our time?

Hey I know! How about a Ken Burns documentary series on PBS featuring Ms. Great Enrichment herself, Deirdre McCloskey, taking the part of Shelby Foote. McCloskey is transgender so we could pile on anyone that criticized her and get xem thrown off social media as transphobic!  Whaddya say, Zuck’n’Jack?

Let me lay it to you straight, lefties.

When your side figures it can make a mockery of a U.S. Senate hearing, complete with staged “protests” from the back row and Spartacus moments from an elected senator, it means you are the ruling class. Republicans would never dare do such a thing.

When your side treats the assault on a government office, like ICE in Portlandia, OR, as a minor peccadillo, it means that your side is the ruling class. Imagine the panic if some alt-right tiki-torchers tried that with You Know Who at 8th Avenue and 42nd Street! Anonymous would be the least of it.

When a former President of the United States stands next to the most notorious racists in the USA at a celebrity funeral, it means that those racists are tolerated — nudge-nudge, wink-wink, know what I mean — by the ruling class.  Imagine any former president ever standing next to David Duke.

When Good Little Girls are showing up all over with cutesy-wootesy protest signs just like they were taught in Activism class, they are not speaking truth to power. The are rich kids strutting the latest fashion.

Real protest is the Captain Swing rioters in Britain in 1820 smashing the threshing machines that were taking away their livelihood. And nobody cared.

Real protest is the protesters you never hear about in Venezuela protesting against starvation. ‘Cos nobody cares.

Here is how to tell real protest from fake protest. The real thing is reactive, far too late, unheralded, the last futile punches of a punch-drunk boxer, And nobody cares.

Kinda like the original Spartacus Rebellion.

As opposed to the fake one, starring Cory Booker as Kirk Douglas.

Christopher Chantrill @chrischantrill runs the go-to site on US government finances, usgovernmentspending.com. Also get his American Manifesto and his Road to the Middle Class.



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209004.jpg

The Use of Poison in International Politics


The pellet with the poison’s in the vessel with the pestle; the chalice from the palace has the brew that is true.  This tongue-twisting line, uttered by Danny Kaye in the 1956 film The Court Jester, grounds perhaps the funniest scene in Hollywood movies, but it is also relevant to past and present attempts and actions to commit murder by operatives of the Russian regime.

Hamlet’s father knew of the vial of poison poured into his ear that moved like quicksilver though the veins and curdled the blood.  British officials during World War II were successful in preventing a similar poisoning of the well known writer, artist, gardener, protector of the Barbary Apes in Gibraltar, 1953 Nobel Prize winner for literature, and smoker of 3,000 cigars a year and 250,000 in his lifetime, Winston Churchill.

We now learn from documents recently revealed that the prime minister was protected by the British secret service in extraordinary fashion.  All his cigars, bought or given to him by well wishers, were tested on mice to ensure they were not poisoned with cyanide by Nazi spies.  The head of MI5’s counter-intelligence, Victor Rothschild, believed there might be “tiny explosives” in the cigars, which would detonate when lit.  In addition, MI5 tested, and no doubt tasted, a case of 1798 Armagnac given Churchill by a French general he met in Parliament Square, close to the House of Commons.  The expensive liquor was tested on a cat, who survived, as did Churchill.

None of the cigars was poisoned.  They remain valuable.  Likewise, various exhibitions have indicated the value of objects associated with Emperor Napoleon.  A baton used at his ceremony to become emperor at Notre Dame in 1804 was sold for 100,000 euros and his first wedding certificate for 25,000 euros.  Objects of the less majestic Churchill, if not equally valuable, are sought.  At an auction in Boston in March 2018, the two-inch butt of a La Corona Habana, said to come from the cigar smoked by Churchill in 1947, was sold for $12,000.

The use of poison has claimed the lives of prominent individuals throughout history.  Among those murdered or suspected of having been poisoned are Alexander the Great; Emperor Augustus; Emperor Claudius; the victims of the Borgias, Medicis, and Viscontis; and the Venetian Council of Ten.

More immediately relevant is the legacy of the Special Office, “The Cell,” created in the Soviet Union in 1921, the first poison laboratory of the Soviet secret services that became an institute in the KGB.  Among its actions were assassination of critics of the regime: Georgi Markov, the Bulgarian writer working for the BBC in London, killed in 1978 by a poisoned pellet shot from an umbrella, and Alexander Litvinenko, former officer of the KGB and FSB, the Federal Security Service, on November 23, 2006 from a drink poisoned with Polonium-210 after meeting with two Russians in the Millennium London hotel.

Litvinenko had accused his superiors of murdering Boris Berezovsky, had held that Vladimir Putin’s rise to power was the result of a coup organized by the FSB, and accused Putin of ordering the murder of Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya.  She, who had criticized Russian military and governmental actions in Chechnya, was murdered on October 7, 2006 in the elevator in her apartment house.  It needs no explanation that Garry Kasparov, former world chess champion, now a political activist opposing the policies of Putin, drinks only bottled water, eats food prepared by his bodyguards, and lives in New York City.

In 1997, the Chemical Weapons Convention outlawed the production and use of chemical weapons but was disregarded by President Assad in Syria.  Now, as a result of murders and attempted murders of Russians in Britain, especially the attack on Sergei Skripal in Salisbury on March 4, 2018, the issue of poison has become an important one, if not the central one, in Western relations with Russia as two announcements show.  One by Prime Minister Theresa May is that two Russians, Alexander Petrov and Rusian Boshirov, probably aliases, alleged members of the GRU, were charged with murder in Salisbury.  They are unlikely to come to trial and probably were killed in Russia to hide traces of their alleged crime.  The second is the announcement by the British home secretary, Sajid Javid, that the government is reopening the investigation of the deaths, said to number 14, of ex-Russians suspected of having been murdered by poison and other methods in the U.K. in recent years.

An investigation of this kind will take some time, considering the number of victims.  Among them is Nikolai Glushkov, found on March 12, 2018, strangled in his home in New Malden, southwest London.  Glushkov, who had been deputy director of the Russian state airline Aeroflot, was accused in Russia of criminal conspiracy and sentenced in 1999 to five years in prison for “money laundering and fraud.”  He sought asylum in U.K. in 2006.  He had previously got no kick from champagne, but in the company of two Russians in a Bristol grand hotel, he drank a glass of the liquid that had been poisoned.  His problem was he was a friend of the oligarch Boris Berezovsky, who was found hanged in his bathrobe in his house near Ascot in Berkshire on March 23, 2013, but who, Glushkov said, was murdered by Russians.

Those Russians are to be found, but the two involved in the attack on Skripal have been identified as individuals with official passports and alleged to be affiliated with the GRU military agency (Main Intelligence Directorate), linked in the past to the Cheka, the NKVD, and the KGB, and which changed its name in 2010 to the G.U. (Main Division).  The stated offense is spraying, through a perfume bottle, the nerve agent Novichok on the front door of the house in Salisbury of the 63-year-old former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his 33-year-old daughter, Yulia.  The two Skripals survived, but others died from exposure to the nerve agent.  What is important is that the GRU gets orders from the highest level of Russian government, the military, the defense ministry, and the Kremlin, possibly including Putin, but it does not report directly to the president.

In the constellation of Russian agencies, the FSB is viewed as the domestic intelligence and counter intelligence body and the SVR as the foreign intelligence service.  More attention must be paid to the GRU, the main directorate, formed as the intelligence agency of the armed forces, competing with the KGB security service.  Its head, Igor Korobov, reports to the chief of the General Staff and the defense minister. 

Most recently, the GRU has participated in hacking, using malware called X Agent, and in cyber-warfare aimed at U.S. military facilities.  It was active in the seizure of Prague’s airport in 1968, leading to the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia; the assassination of the Afghan president in 1979; the end of the Malaysian passenger airline in July 2014, killing all 298 aboard; the attempted coup in Montenegro in 2016; and the Russian invasion of Crimea.  It is a highly disciplined organization, essentially more aggressive and more secretive than other Russian institutions, able to strike at British and U.S. facilities.

It is a useful start that the U.S. Department of Justice on July 13, 2018 indicted 12 Russians for attempting to hack U.S. emails and computer networks.  All responsible were operatives of GRU.  It is time that Congress pay more attention to and take action against the GRU menace.  Perhaps Special Counsel Robert Mueller might more profitably turn his attention to this rather than to the seemingly endless search for a mole in the 2016 electoral campaign of Donald Trump.  More important is an answer to this question: are the actions of the GRU directly linked to the Kremlin and the office of President Putin?

The pellet with the poison’s in the vessel with the pestle; the chalice from the palace has the brew that is true.  This tongue-twisting line, uttered by Danny Kaye in the 1956 film The Court Jester, grounds perhaps the funniest scene in Hollywood movies, but it is also relevant to past and present attempts and actions to commit murder by operatives of the Russian regime.

Hamlet’s father knew of the vial of poison poured into his ear that moved like quicksilver though the veins and curdled the blood.  British officials during World War II were successful in preventing a similar poisoning of the well known writer, artist, gardener, protector of the Barbary Apes in Gibraltar, 1953 Nobel Prize winner for literature, and smoker of 3,000 cigars a year and 250,000 in his lifetime, Winston Churchill.

We now learn from documents recently revealed that the prime minister was protected by the British secret service in extraordinary fashion.  All his cigars, bought or given to him by well wishers, were tested on mice to ensure they were not poisoned with cyanide by Nazi spies.  The head of MI5’s counter-intelligence, Victor Rothschild, believed there might be “tiny explosives” in the cigars, which would detonate when lit.  In addition, MI5 tested, and no doubt tasted, a case of 1798 Armagnac given Churchill by a French general he met in Parliament Square, close to the House of Commons.  The expensive liquor was tested on a cat, who survived, as did Churchill.

None of the cigars was poisoned.  They remain valuable.  Likewise, various exhibitions have indicated the value of objects associated with Emperor Napoleon.  A baton used at his ceremony to become emperor at Notre Dame in 1804 was sold for 100,000 euros and his first wedding certificate for 25,000 euros.  Objects of the less majestic Churchill, if not equally valuable, are sought.  At an auction in Boston in March 2018, the two-inch butt of a La Corona Habana, said to come from the cigar smoked by Churchill in 1947, was sold for $12,000.

The use of poison has claimed the lives of prominent individuals throughout history.  Among those murdered or suspected of having been poisoned are Alexander the Great; Emperor Augustus; Emperor Claudius; the victims of the Borgias, Medicis, and Viscontis; and the Venetian Council of Ten.

More immediately relevant is the legacy of the Special Office, “The Cell,” created in the Soviet Union in 1921, the first poison laboratory of the Soviet secret services that became an institute in the KGB.  Among its actions were assassination of critics of the regime: Georgi Markov, the Bulgarian writer working for the BBC in London, killed in 1978 by a poisoned pellet shot from an umbrella, and Alexander Litvinenko, former officer of the KGB and FSB, the Federal Security Service, on November 23, 2006 from a drink poisoned with Polonium-210 after meeting with two Russians in the Millennium London hotel.

Litvinenko had accused his superiors of murdering Boris Berezovsky, had held that Vladimir Putin’s rise to power was the result of a coup organized by the FSB, and accused Putin of ordering the murder of Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya.  She, who had criticized Russian military and governmental actions in Chechnya, was murdered on October 7, 2006 in the elevator in her apartment house.  It needs no explanation that Garry Kasparov, former world chess champion, now a political activist opposing the policies of Putin, drinks only bottled water, eats food prepared by his bodyguards, and lives in New York City.

In 1997, the Chemical Weapons Convention outlawed the production and use of chemical weapons but was disregarded by President Assad in Syria.  Now, as a result of murders and attempted murders of Russians in Britain, especially the attack on Sergei Skripal in Salisbury on March 4, 2018, the issue of poison has become an important one, if not the central one, in Western relations with Russia as two announcements show.  One by Prime Minister Theresa May is that two Russians, Alexander Petrov and Rusian Boshirov, probably aliases, alleged members of the GRU, were charged with murder in Salisbury.  They are unlikely to come to trial and probably were killed in Russia to hide traces of their alleged crime.  The second is the announcement by the British home secretary, Sajid Javid, that the government is reopening the investigation of the deaths, said to number 14, of ex-Russians suspected of having been murdered by poison and other methods in the U.K. in recent years.

An investigation of this kind will take some time, considering the number of victims.  Among them is Nikolai Glushkov, found on March 12, 2018, strangled in his home in New Malden, southwest London.  Glushkov, who had been deputy director of the Russian state airline Aeroflot, was accused in Russia of criminal conspiracy and sentenced in 1999 to five years in prison for “money laundering and fraud.”  He sought asylum in U.K. in 2006.  He had previously got no kick from champagne, but in the company of two Russians in a Bristol grand hotel, he drank a glass of the liquid that had been poisoned.  His problem was he was a friend of the oligarch Boris Berezovsky, who was found hanged in his bathrobe in his house near Ascot in Berkshire on March 23, 2013, but who, Glushkov said, was murdered by Russians.

Those Russians are to be found, but the two involved in the attack on Skripal have been identified as individuals with official passports and alleged to be affiliated with the GRU military agency (Main Intelligence Directorate), linked in the past to the Cheka, the NKVD, and the KGB, and which changed its name in 2010 to the G.U. (Main Division).  The stated offense is spraying, through a perfume bottle, the nerve agent Novichok on the front door of the house in Salisbury of the 63-year-old former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his 33-year-old daughter, Yulia.  The two Skripals survived, but others died from exposure to the nerve agent.  What is important is that the GRU gets orders from the highest level of Russian government, the military, the defense ministry, and the Kremlin, possibly including Putin, but it does not report directly to the president.

In the constellation of Russian agencies, the FSB is viewed as the domestic intelligence and counter intelligence body and the SVR as the foreign intelligence service.  More attention must be paid to the GRU, the main directorate, formed as the intelligence agency of the armed forces, competing with the KGB security service.  Its head, Igor Korobov, reports to the chief of the General Staff and the defense minister. 

Most recently, the GRU has participated in hacking, using malware called X Agent, and in cyber-warfare aimed at U.S. military facilities.  It was active in the seizure of Prague’s airport in 1968, leading to the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia; the assassination of the Afghan president in 1979; the end of the Malaysian passenger airline in July 2014, killing all 298 aboard; the attempted coup in Montenegro in 2016; and the Russian invasion of Crimea.  It is a highly disciplined organization, essentially more aggressive and more secretive than other Russian institutions, able to strike at British and U.S. facilities.

It is a useful start that the U.S. Department of Justice on July 13, 2018 indicted 12 Russians for attempting to hack U.S. emails and computer networks.  All responsible were operatives of GRU.  It is time that Congress pay more attention to and take action against the GRU menace.  Perhaps Special Counsel Robert Mueller might more profitably turn his attention to this rather than to the seemingly endless search for a mole in the 2016 electoral campaign of Donald Trump.  More important is an answer to this question: are the actions of the GRU directly linked to the Kremlin and the office of President Putin?



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209027.png

Global Debt Soars to $169 Trillion: Will We Ever Learn?


Ten years have passed since the 2008 subprime mortgage crisis, the worst financial panic since the Great Depression.  Now it seems that some of the lessons learned back then are being forgotten.  Growing debt burdens in emerging markets are igniting new fears of a crisis that could shake economies everywhere.

This time, the debt is not mortgages or deficit spending.  The new crisis involves corporate debt and bonds.

What is setting off alarms is the recent collapse of the Turkish lira, which has lost more than forty percent of its value.  Turkish banks and companies borrowed heavily over the past few years to finance infrastructure projects and even a mammoth cruise ship terminal.  The lira’s collapse makes it hard to repay loans or bonds made in dollars and euros.

Turkey is not alone in its dollar- and euro-delineated debt burden.  Similar loans and corporate bond issues can be found in Brazil, South Africa, Argentina, Russia, and other nations.  They have taken advantage of cheap money to bolster their national economies and build infrastructure.  Investors have likewise shifted their money to these markets, ignoring risks and creating a massive bubble.

As a result of such policies, the McKinsey Global Institute reports that total world debt load is an incredible $169 trillion as compared to $97 trillion in 2007.  This burden amounts to nearly two and a half times the size of the total global economy.

Perhaps it is in the frantic nature of modern finance and economy.  There is the great tendency to detach investment from firms that produce things.  Too many investors look for the short-term profit instead of waiting for the often greater long-term yield.  They look for any higher return on investment, especially in times of low interest.

Throughout it all, there is the frenetic intemperance of transactions, where the desire is to have everything now, instantly and effortlessly. 

Sooner or later, the bills come due.  Borrowers scramble to pay.  Speculative investors then rush to unload failing stocks and start the cycle again by looking for new bargains.

The foreign crisis could not have come at a worse time.  A strong dollar, rising interest rates, and weaker local currencies come together for a perfect storm.

In these emerging countries, the strong dollar and sinking local currencies combo makes it difficult and expensive to repay loans.  The panic also sends capital out of the countries and triggers inflation at precisely the time when loans are coming due.  Default or refinancing is looming on the horizon for many companies.

Global economies tend to globalize problems.  Any crisis rarely stays local these days.  Failing economies reduce a nation’s ability to import now more expensive goods from the U.S. and Europe.  Many banks, especially Spanish ones, extended loans to Turkey and will be impacted by its collapsing economy. 

Many argue that corporate debt in emerging markets will not lead to a deep recession like that of 2008.  Nevertheless, the situation is causing unease.  The world is very different today.  Other factors of instability can enter into the equation and cause significant damage to the global economy.  Europe and the United States depend upon emerging markets, which stimulate growth needed to keep their economies prosperous.  Plunging exports to these countries will have a negative impact on the stock market.

The foreign corporate debt burden comes at a time when American corporate debt is also at an all-time high.  Over the last ten years, quantitative easing (Q.E.) programs increased the money supply and pumped trillions of dollars in liquidity into global markets.  American corporations responded by splurging on bond offerings.

Many attribute the booming stock market to the increased use of low-interest bonds to arrange buybacks, mergers, and increased dividends.  Such artificial measures increase share value but do not encourage long-term expansion and investments.

The tightening of monetary conditions and rising interest rates are likely to burst America’s corporate debt bubble.  The situation threatens to add to economic woes since U.S. corporate debt is now over 45% of GDP.

Virtue has a great role to play in the economy.  One lesson to be relearned from this new financial crisis is the need for restraint.  A sound economy is based on measured and calculated risks.  Investors need to be concerned about the long-term health of the markets.  Central bank money meddling is no substitute for wise and prudent business practices.  The present generation should not burden later generations with its mistakes.

All these things need to be relearned the hard way.  However, the worst part is that the errors are not solved, but only accumulate.  Over everything, there is the towering and growing figure of $169 trillion in debt.  It weighs heavily upon the world.

John Horvat II is a scholar, researcher, educator, international speaker, and author of the book Return to Order, as well as the author of hundreds of published articles.  He lives in Spring Grove, Pennsylvania, where he is the vice president of the American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family and Property.

Ten years have passed since the 2008 subprime mortgage crisis, the worst financial panic since the Great Depression.  Now it seems that some of the lessons learned back then are being forgotten.  Growing debt burdens in emerging markets are igniting new fears of a crisis that could shake economies everywhere.

This time, the debt is not mortgages or deficit spending.  The new crisis involves corporate debt and bonds.

What is setting off alarms is the recent collapse of the Turkish lira, which has lost more than forty percent of its value.  Turkish banks and companies borrowed heavily over the past few years to finance infrastructure projects and even a mammoth cruise ship terminal.  The lira’s collapse makes it hard to repay loans or bonds made in dollars and euros.

Turkey is not alone in its dollar- and euro-delineated debt burden.  Similar loans and corporate bond issues can be found in Brazil, South Africa, Argentina, Russia, and other nations.  They have taken advantage of cheap money to bolster their national economies and build infrastructure.  Investors have likewise shifted their money to these markets, ignoring risks and creating a massive bubble.

As a result of such policies, the McKinsey Global Institute reports that total world debt load is an incredible $169 trillion as compared to $97 trillion in 2007.  This burden amounts to nearly two and a half times the size of the total global economy.

Perhaps it is in the frantic nature of modern finance and economy.  There is the great tendency to detach investment from firms that produce things.  Too many investors look for the short-term profit instead of waiting for the often greater long-term yield.  They look for any higher return on investment, especially in times of low interest.

Throughout it all, there is the frenetic intemperance of transactions, where the desire is to have everything now, instantly and effortlessly. 

Sooner or later, the bills come due.  Borrowers scramble to pay.  Speculative investors then rush to unload failing stocks and start the cycle again by looking for new bargains.

The foreign crisis could not have come at a worse time.  A strong dollar, rising interest rates, and weaker local currencies come together for a perfect storm.

In these emerging countries, the strong dollar and sinking local currencies combo makes it difficult and expensive to repay loans.  The panic also sends capital out of the countries and triggers inflation at precisely the time when loans are coming due.  Default or refinancing is looming on the horizon for many companies.

Global economies tend to globalize problems.  Any crisis rarely stays local these days.  Failing economies reduce a nation’s ability to import now more expensive goods from the U.S. and Europe.  Many banks, especially Spanish ones, extended loans to Turkey and will be impacted by its collapsing economy. 

Many argue that corporate debt in emerging markets will not lead to a deep recession like that of 2008.  Nevertheless, the situation is causing unease.  The world is very different today.  Other factors of instability can enter into the equation and cause significant damage to the global economy.  Europe and the United States depend upon emerging markets, which stimulate growth needed to keep their economies prosperous.  Plunging exports to these countries will have a negative impact on the stock market.

The foreign corporate debt burden comes at a time when American corporate debt is also at an all-time high.  Over the last ten years, quantitative easing (Q.E.) programs increased the money supply and pumped trillions of dollars in liquidity into global markets.  American corporations responded by splurging on bond offerings.

Many attribute the booming stock market to the increased use of low-interest bonds to arrange buybacks, mergers, and increased dividends.  Such artificial measures increase share value but do not encourage long-term expansion and investments.

The tightening of monetary conditions and rising interest rates are likely to burst America’s corporate debt bubble.  The situation threatens to add to economic woes since U.S. corporate debt is now over 45% of GDP.

Virtue has a great role to play in the economy.  One lesson to be relearned from this new financial crisis is the need for restraint.  A sound economy is based on measured and calculated risks.  Investors need to be concerned about the long-term health of the markets.  Central bank money meddling is no substitute for wise and prudent business practices.  The present generation should not burden later generations with its mistakes.

All these things need to be relearned the hard way.  However, the worst part is that the errors are not solved, but only accumulate.  Over everything, there is the towering and growing figure of $169 trillion in debt.  It weighs heavily upon the world.

John Horvat II is a scholar, researcher, educator, international speaker, and author of the book Return to Order, as well as the author of hundreds of published articles.  He lives in Spring Grove, Pennsylvania, where he is the vice president of the American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family and Property.



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209025.png

Student Activism Destabilizes Society


The latest issue of the Harvard Graduate School of Education magazine focuses on “student activism.”  This activism rubric is a euphemism for student disturbance, student malaise, student ingratitude, student impulsivity, distracted student hypermoralism, and acting out of their unconscious death wish and free-floating libidinous unrest.  Abusing the constitutional right of freedom of assembly, students step far outside the boundaries of their experience and competencies to demonstrate, threaten, condemn, and sometimes destroy the social order as well as the dreams and property of others. Freedom to disagree and publicly express said disagreement becomes an excuse for screaming, foul language, hysterical episodes, making ugly faces, and feverish gesticulations, and in many ways acting like deranged morons.  Moreover, it is increasingly common for conservative speakers not to be allowed on campuses or to be met with raucous demonstrations when they are allowed to appear.  The line between freedom of assembly/peaceful protests and campus “demonstrations,” antifa mayhem, and Ferguson or Baltimore riots and looting is still somewhat intact, but that line is increasingly frayed, tattered, and diluted. 

The capstone article in the magazine is entitled, “Student Activism 2.0.”  Like Howard Zinn’s Peoples’ History of the United States, which is a widely used textbook in college American History courses, or such progressive tomes for high schools as The Americans (1360 pages), published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, this article focuses on activism (sic) as the quintessence of American democracy.  Activism to its left-wing supporters reveals the flaws not only of U.S. history but of contemporary patriotism which is deemed by the activists to be too resistant to seeing the massive flaws of American culture, and has mistakenly brought the USA to the point of even thinking of itself as exceptional.  Their main thought is that we are so deeply flawed that we barely deserve to exist, let alone consider ourselves to be moral or just. 

Further, these student activists, immature, unstable, and easily manipulated, see themselves as advocates for “the people.”  “The people” for them are all those on the well-known progressive list:  homosexuals, people of color but especially blacks and Hispanics as opposed to Asians, workers, the elderly, transgenders, women, students, people who are HIV positive, native Americans, illegal immigrants, high school dropouts, incarcerated felons, and drug addicts.  For the progressive activists, these are not only people with needs to be addressed, but these groups are “the people” who have been dispossessed by our selfish society. They are victimized groups and support for them is a natural extension of the populism that began with the farmers in the 19th century as well as with women in the suffragette movement.  To their ahistorical minds nurtured on progressive propaganda, populism extended through progressivism through the New Deal up to the present.  Thus, they consider themselves the true populists.   For this reason, they are doubly enraged that they are now facing a conservative backlash that claims to be the “new populism.”  They are incensed. They ask: weren’t we the ones originally against the robber barons, the capitalist moguls of the 19th century who were ripping off Americans and destroying society while claiming to build it?  Are we not the ones who, in that same tradition, descry the top 1% or .1% who are the contemporary heirs of the robber barons?

However, a new populism is emerging, and it makes their blood boil.  It is a populism that realizes that Henry Ford, John D. Rockefeller, Andrew Carnegie, Cornelius Vanderbilt, and other scions — despite their limitations and biases — did in fact build this country into the mega-economic superpower it is. The new populism identifies with workers who, despite certain areas of mistreatment, had found a measure of economic security and opportunity in America that they never knew in the entire history of post-industrial growth.  But those workers who had risen to new levels of economic security and opportunities have seen themselves over recent decades as increasingly dispossessed in the name of a progressive, elitist globalism.  The old populism/progressivism has morphed into a system for dispossessing the workers and telling them to shut up, get into a job retraining program or move to a more prosperous area of the country.  The students thus have become pawns in the leftist/globalist challenge to American prosperity.  Their rage is being stoked as they are persuaded to think that they are the true voices of “the people,” but in fact they are against the interests of the people.

The workers are now the new populists who do not identify with the ruthless and immature outbursts of student indignation with its leftist/progressive face.  Thus, ironically, the socialist New Deal forgotten man referred to by President Franklin D. Roosevelt is now the forgotten man referred to by President Donald Trump in our present political and economic renaissance. Further, there is a vast middle class which, despite the extreme bias of the textbooks often being used in our high schools and colleges, is mainstream. It is composed of small business owners, managers, stockholders, pension fund managers, white collar workers, independent professionals, and creative thinkers and writers who are immersed in a spirit of gratitude for the USA, and not in a spirit of wounded victimization.  Real grievances of course must be addressed, but is it constructive or even decent to spend one’s life picking at the scabs of so-called injustice and reopening wounds?

The author of the Harvard article revels in reviewing the history of student protests.  To him, student protests are where the rubber meets the road.  Young people are finding a voice to express their concerns about significant social issues, and their voices point the way to a better future for all.  He completely avoids any reference to the excessive hostility that has emerged in these protests, especially since the 1960s.  He avoids asking the extent to which student protests are manipulated events by political zealots in the Democratic Party or other organizations that have an interest in destabilizing our society.  He fails to consider the psychology of these protests and the extent to which they mask inner student helplessness and fear of the future.  He fails to consider the sense of individual isolation that is bred by the student generation’s engrossment in virtual reality leading to collective expression and its attendant excesses.  The sense of alienation and anomie described so beautifully by David Riesman, Nathan Glazer, and Reuel Denney in their book The Lonely Crowd published in 1950 is so much deeper and more far-reaching today than it was then.  The social isolates of the 1950s would be borderline deranged today. 

In short, idolization of protests and public expressions of outrage are outrageously devoid of perspective.  Perspective is necessary for balanced thinking and balanced living.  And balance is necessary for maturity and wisdom to flourish.  These in turn produce real problem solving at the highest level.

E. Jeffrey Ludwig has taught at Harvard, Penn State, Juniata College, City University of New York, and Boston State College, and was selected numerous times for inclusion in Who’s Who Among America’s High School Teachers.  He is author of The Catastrophic Decline of America’s Public High Schools, and is a born again Christian.

The latest issue of the Harvard Graduate School of Education magazine focuses on “student activism.”  This activism rubric is a euphemism for student disturbance, student malaise, student ingratitude, student impulsivity, distracted student hypermoralism, and acting out of their unconscious death wish and free-floating libidinous unrest.  Abusing the constitutional right of freedom of assembly, students step far outside the boundaries of their experience and competencies to demonstrate, threaten, condemn, and sometimes destroy the social order as well as the dreams and property of others. Freedom to disagree and publicly express said disagreement becomes an excuse for screaming, foul language, hysterical episodes, making ugly faces, and feverish gesticulations, and in many ways acting like deranged morons.  Moreover, it is increasingly common for conservative speakers not to be allowed on campuses or to be met with raucous demonstrations when they are allowed to appear.  The line between freedom of assembly/peaceful protests and campus “demonstrations,” antifa mayhem, and Ferguson or Baltimore riots and looting is still somewhat intact, but that line is increasingly frayed, tattered, and diluted. 

The capstone article in the magazine is entitled, “Student Activism 2.0.”  Like Howard Zinn’s Peoples’ History of the United States, which is a widely used textbook in college American History courses, or such progressive tomes for high schools as The Americans (1360 pages), published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, this article focuses on activism (sic) as the quintessence of American democracy.  Activism to its left-wing supporters reveals the flaws not only of U.S. history but of contemporary patriotism which is deemed by the activists to be too resistant to seeing the massive flaws of American culture, and has mistakenly brought the USA to the point of even thinking of itself as exceptional.  Their main thought is that we are so deeply flawed that we barely deserve to exist, let alone consider ourselves to be moral or just. 

Further, these student activists, immature, unstable, and easily manipulated, see themselves as advocates for “the people.”  “The people” for them are all those on the well-known progressive list:  homosexuals, people of color but especially blacks and Hispanics as opposed to Asians, workers, the elderly, transgenders, women, students, people who are HIV positive, native Americans, illegal immigrants, high school dropouts, incarcerated felons, and drug addicts.  For the progressive activists, these are not only people with needs to be addressed, but these groups are “the people” who have been dispossessed by our selfish society. They are victimized groups and support for them is a natural extension of the populism that began with the farmers in the 19th century as well as with women in the suffragette movement.  To their ahistorical minds nurtured on progressive propaganda, populism extended through progressivism through the New Deal up to the present.  Thus, they consider themselves the true populists.   For this reason, they are doubly enraged that they are now facing a conservative backlash that claims to be the “new populism.”  They are incensed. They ask: weren’t we the ones originally against the robber barons, the capitalist moguls of the 19th century who were ripping off Americans and destroying society while claiming to build it?  Are we not the ones who, in that same tradition, descry the top 1% or .1% who are the contemporary heirs of the robber barons?

However, a new populism is emerging, and it makes their blood boil.  It is a populism that realizes that Henry Ford, John D. Rockefeller, Andrew Carnegie, Cornelius Vanderbilt, and other scions — despite their limitations and biases — did in fact build this country into the mega-economic superpower it is. The new populism identifies with workers who, despite certain areas of mistreatment, had found a measure of economic security and opportunity in America that they never knew in the entire history of post-industrial growth.  But those workers who had risen to new levels of economic security and opportunities have seen themselves over recent decades as increasingly dispossessed in the name of a progressive, elitist globalism.  The old populism/progressivism has morphed into a system for dispossessing the workers and telling them to shut up, get into a job retraining program or move to a more prosperous area of the country.  The students thus have become pawns in the leftist/globalist challenge to American prosperity.  Their rage is being stoked as they are persuaded to think that they are the true voices of “the people,” but in fact they are against the interests of the people.

The workers are now the new populists who do not identify with the ruthless and immature outbursts of student indignation with its leftist/progressive face.  Thus, ironically, the socialist New Deal forgotten man referred to by President Franklin D. Roosevelt is now the forgotten man referred to by President Donald Trump in our present political and economic renaissance. Further, there is a vast middle class which, despite the extreme bias of the textbooks often being used in our high schools and colleges, is mainstream. It is composed of small business owners, managers, stockholders, pension fund managers, white collar workers, independent professionals, and creative thinkers and writers who are immersed in a spirit of gratitude for the USA, and not in a spirit of wounded victimization.  Real grievances of course must be addressed, but is it constructive or even decent to spend one’s life picking at the scabs of so-called injustice and reopening wounds?

The author of the Harvard article revels in reviewing the history of student protests.  To him, student protests are where the rubber meets the road.  Young people are finding a voice to express their concerns about significant social issues, and their voices point the way to a better future for all.  He completely avoids any reference to the excessive hostility that has emerged in these protests, especially since the 1960s.  He avoids asking the extent to which student protests are manipulated events by political zealots in the Democratic Party or other organizations that have an interest in destabilizing our society.  He fails to consider the psychology of these protests and the extent to which they mask inner student helplessness and fear of the future.  He fails to consider the sense of individual isolation that is bred by the student generation’s engrossment in virtual reality leading to collective expression and its attendant excesses.  The sense of alienation and anomie described so beautifully by David Riesman, Nathan Glazer, and Reuel Denney in their book The Lonely Crowd published in 1950 is so much deeper and more far-reaching today than it was then.  The social isolates of the 1950s would be borderline deranged today. 

In short, idolization of protests and public expressions of outrage are outrageously devoid of perspective.  Perspective is necessary for balanced thinking and balanced living.  And balance is necessary for maturity and wisdom to flourish.  These in turn produce real problem solving at the highest level.

E. Jeffrey Ludwig has taught at Harvard, Penn State, Juniata College, City University of New York, and Boston State College, and was selected numerous times for inclusion in Who’s Who Among America’s High School Teachers.  He is author of The Catastrophic Decline of America’s Public High Schools, and is a born again Christian.



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Will Trump's Deal of the Century Solve the Middle East's Problems?


In a recent interview, Jason Greenblatt, a special representative of the president, said, “Our plan begins with reality.  It recognizes the history of the conflict, of course, but [other plans] were always relying on tired notions of what it should be.  Instead, it focuses on what it could be.”

Thus, I assume that the Palestinian narrative that has driven the peace process and world opinion for fifty years will be severely undermined and replaced with reality and history, starting with the Palestine Mandate.  Greenblatt is mindful of the fact that this narrative was outlined by the KGB in its consultations with Yasser Arafat in the sixties and afterward.  They invented the Palestinian people as a means to cast the Arabs as the oppressed and the Israelis as the oppressors.

The rationale for the plan will start with the signing of the Palestine Mandate in 1922.  This mandate split Palestine into two mandates under British rule – namely, the Arab Palestine (Transjordan), which received 78% of the land, and the Jewish Mandate (Israel), which received the remaining 22%.  Britain tried to further divide the 22%, most notably in the U.N. Partition Plan of 1947, without success.  True, the UNGA passed the resolution, and Israel was created, but the Arabs rejected it, thereby ending their opportunity to create an Arab state on the part allocated to them.

International law recognizes Israel’s right to claim sovereignty over the entire 22%.  In addition, Israel cemented this right by its victory over the Arabs in the ’67 war.

No doubt, this history will inform the design of the plan.

Greenblatt went on to articulate a red line, if you will, saying, “We will not put forth a plan or endorse a plan that doesn’t meet all of Israel’s security issues because they are of extreme importance to us.”  Furthermore, “Israel is going to have to be comfortable that what we put forth in the plan does not put Israel at risk.”  The Palestinians must accept this as fundamental to the plan and be “comfortable” with it.

In explaining why he is putting all this effort into achieving peace when there are bigger problems in the Middle east – namely, Syria and Iran – Greenblatt says:

We think that there are unique circumstances now that warrant an attempt at trying to see whether or not we can do this.  President Trump, as devoted and dedicated to the State of Israel and the Jewish people as he is, he’s also dedicated to trying to help the Palestinian people, and the way we can marry those two ideas is by trying to reach a comprehensive peace agreement.

Thus, he is guided by two goals.  He wants to strengthen Israel, and he wants to help the Palestinian people.  As he said, “we do believe that many Palestinians want to live in peace, and they want to see their lives improved.”

So how can he marry these goals?  He says, “We must abandon all the old formulae and focus on what is doable.”

Taking all the foregoing into account, I believe that the plan will recognize the original division of Palestine into Jordan as the Palestinian state and Israel as the Jewish state.  These states already have a peace agreement in which the agreed border is the Jordan River.

So far, so good.  But what will happen with the two million Palestinians, all of whom have Jordanian citizenship, living west of the Jordan River?  Presently, these Palestinians live for the most part in Areas A and B (1.4 million), Area C (100,000), and Jerusalem (350,000).

According to a well informed source, the administration of the A areas, as agreed to in the Oslo Accords, will pass from the P.A. to Jordan.  The B areas will be absorbed into the C area in order to remove the Swiss cheese effect.  Hebron, on the other hand, will be administered by a joint local council made up of Israelis and Palestinians.

This means that the P.A. will be done away with, because its primary function is to wage war against Israel’s legitimacy.  All Palestinians living west of the River will be seen as both Jordanian citizens and foreign residents.  There will be no need to give them citizenship.  Israel will then be free to build without restraint in the expanded Area C and in other ways exercise its sovereignty on all lands west of the Jordan River.

In effect, all Arabs will remain where they are and will continue to work in Israel.  The only difference will be that they have to give up their aspirations for a Palestinian state west of the Jordan River and accept that Jordan is the Palestinian state.

Jordan and Israel will negotiate separate agreements dealing with joint economic relations and joint military arrangements.

Job-creating joint ventures will be set up in Jordan.  These jobs will be available to all Palestinians who emigrate to Jordan.  Expectations are that many Palestinians living west of the river will avail themselves of these jobs.

As for my idea that a new city should be built in Jordan to house a million people, I am informed by the source above that Jordan is a welfare state that guarantees housing to all citizens.  Jordan will start with building an extra 500,000 units to accommodate the influx of citizens.  This too will induce many Palestinians to emigrate to Jordan.

It should be made clear that Israel will not be party to forced ethnic cleansing.

There is also talk about joint military planning between Israel and Jordan.  In effect, Jordan will be an extension of Israel.  Jordan may also be the buyer of the 100 F-16s that Israel now wishes to sell.

UNRWA will be scuttled.  The Palestinian refugees in Lebanon, Syria, and Iraq will be invited to move to Jordan as full citizens, thereby ending their refugee status.

Many Israelis will not be happy with the fact that the Arabs will remain, but at least there will be no obligation to offer them a path to citizenship.  Furthermore, this deal will do away with the Palestinian narrative, which is the cause of so much disloyalty among Arab Israelis.

As Greenblatt said, the Palestinians and the Israelis must decide, “Will we be better off with this plan or continuing without it?”  I believe, on balance, that both the Israelis and the Palestinians will accept the plan if it looks like this.  The Israelis hunger for an end of conflict agreement, and the Palestinians are sick and tired of living under the P.A. rule and under the king’s rule, as the case may be.  They are hungry for change and normalization.

As for the Arab world, Greenblatt said, “We’re also hopeful that we can count on their support, and I use the word ‘support’ rather than ‘approval.'”  Thus, he doesn’t expect them to publicly accept the plan, but he does expect them not to undermine its acceptance.

Both Abbas and King Abdullah have publicly rejected any such plan.  Assuming no change of heart, they will be replaced.  Mudar Zahran is waiting on the sidelines.  He most certainly accepts such a plan.

Conventional wisdom has it that Israel would never agree to ousting Abdullah.  After all, as the theory goes, the border has been quiet for 30 years.  But increasingly, Israel sees Abdullah as an obstructionist just like Abbas.  I think Israel is ready for change, especially if change leads to a resolution of the conflict.

Conventional wisdom also suggests that if Mudar Zahran becomes the leader of Jordan, the Muslim Brotherhood, whose world headquarters is in Jordan, will oust him from power within 24 hours.  In this, it is wrong also.  Within the said 24 hours, Zahran would ban the Muslim brotherhood and designate it a terrorist organization.  In this, he would have the support of Israel and the U.S.

I believe that this deal will be accepted and will thus be the Deal of the Century.

Ted Belman is the editor of Israpundit.com, which he started 16 years ago.  Together with Mudar Zahran, he spear-headed the plan, in the spring of 2017, to replace King Abdullah, as the leader of Jordan, with Mudar Zahran, the head of the Jordan Opposition Coalition.  This plan was dubbed The Jordan Option.  Many if not all the principles set out in the plan are reflected in the Deal of the Century.

In a recent interview, Jason Greenblatt, a special representative of the president, said, “Our plan begins with reality.  It recognizes the history of the conflict, of course, but [other plans] were always relying on tired notions of what it should be.  Instead, it focuses on what it could be.”

Thus, I assume that the Palestinian narrative that has driven the peace process and world opinion for fifty years will be severely undermined and replaced with reality and history, starting with the Palestine Mandate.  Greenblatt is mindful of the fact that this narrative was outlined by the KGB in its consultations with Yasser Arafat in the sixties and afterward.  They invented the Palestinian people as a means to cast the Arabs as the oppressed and the Israelis as the oppressors.

The rationale for the plan will start with the signing of the Palestine Mandate in 1922.  This mandate split Palestine into two mandates under British rule – namely, the Arab Palestine (Transjordan), which received 78% of the land, and the Jewish Mandate (Israel), which received the remaining 22%.  Britain tried to further divide the 22%, most notably in the U.N. Partition Plan of 1947, without success.  True, the UNGA passed the resolution, and Israel was created, but the Arabs rejected it, thereby ending their opportunity to create an Arab state on the part allocated to them.

International law recognizes Israel’s right to claim sovereignty over the entire 22%.  In addition, Israel cemented this right by its victory over the Arabs in the ’67 war.

No doubt, this history will inform the design of the plan.

Greenblatt went on to articulate a red line, if you will, saying, “We will not put forth a plan or endorse a plan that doesn’t meet all of Israel’s security issues because they are of extreme importance to us.”  Furthermore, “Israel is going to have to be comfortable that what we put forth in the plan does not put Israel at risk.”  The Palestinians must accept this as fundamental to the plan and be “comfortable” with it.

In explaining why he is putting all this effort into achieving peace when there are bigger problems in the Middle east – namely, Syria and Iran – Greenblatt says:

We think that there are unique circumstances now that warrant an attempt at trying to see whether or not we can do this.  President Trump, as devoted and dedicated to the State of Israel and the Jewish people as he is, he’s also dedicated to trying to help the Palestinian people, and the way we can marry those two ideas is by trying to reach a comprehensive peace agreement.

Thus, he is guided by two goals.  He wants to strengthen Israel, and he wants to help the Palestinian people.  As he said, “we do believe that many Palestinians want to live in peace, and they want to see their lives improved.”

So how can he marry these goals?  He says, “We must abandon all the old formulae and focus on what is doable.”

Taking all the foregoing into account, I believe that the plan will recognize the original division of Palestine into Jordan as the Palestinian state and Israel as the Jewish state.  These states already have a peace agreement in which the agreed border is the Jordan River.

So far, so good.  But what will happen with the two million Palestinians, all of whom have Jordanian citizenship, living west of the Jordan River?  Presently, these Palestinians live for the most part in Areas A and B (1.4 million), Area C (100,000), and Jerusalem (350,000).

According to a well informed source, the administration of the A areas, as agreed to in the Oslo Accords, will pass from the P.A. to Jordan.  The B areas will be absorbed into the C area in order to remove the Swiss cheese effect.  Hebron, on the other hand, will be administered by a joint local council made up of Israelis and Palestinians.

This means that the P.A. will be done away with, because its primary function is to wage war against Israel’s legitimacy.  All Palestinians living west of the River will be seen as both Jordanian citizens and foreign residents.  There will be no need to give them citizenship.  Israel will then be free to build without restraint in the expanded Area C and in other ways exercise its sovereignty on all lands west of the Jordan River.

In effect, all Arabs will remain where they are and will continue to work in Israel.  The only difference will be that they have to give up their aspirations for a Palestinian state west of the Jordan River and accept that Jordan is the Palestinian state.

Jordan and Israel will negotiate separate agreements dealing with joint economic relations and joint military arrangements.

Job-creating joint ventures will be set up in Jordan.  These jobs will be available to all Palestinians who emigrate to Jordan.  Expectations are that many Palestinians living west of the river will avail themselves of these jobs.

As for my idea that a new city should be built in Jordan to house a million people, I am informed by the source above that Jordan is a welfare state that guarantees housing to all citizens.  Jordan will start with building an extra 500,000 units to accommodate the influx of citizens.  This too will induce many Palestinians to emigrate to Jordan.

It should be made clear that Israel will not be party to forced ethnic cleansing.

There is also talk about joint military planning between Israel and Jordan.  In effect, Jordan will be an extension of Israel.  Jordan may also be the buyer of the 100 F-16s that Israel now wishes to sell.

UNRWA will be scuttled.  The Palestinian refugees in Lebanon, Syria, and Iraq will be invited to move to Jordan as full citizens, thereby ending their refugee status.

Many Israelis will not be happy with the fact that the Arabs will remain, but at least there will be no obligation to offer them a path to citizenship.  Furthermore, this deal will do away with the Palestinian narrative, which is the cause of so much disloyalty among Arab Israelis.

As Greenblatt said, the Palestinians and the Israelis must decide, “Will we be better off with this plan or continuing without it?”  I believe, on balance, that both the Israelis and the Palestinians will accept the plan if it looks like this.  The Israelis hunger for an end of conflict agreement, and the Palestinians are sick and tired of living under the P.A. rule and under the king’s rule, as the case may be.  They are hungry for change and normalization.

As for the Arab world, Greenblatt said, “We’re also hopeful that we can count on their support, and I use the word ‘support’ rather than ‘approval.'”  Thus, he doesn’t expect them to publicly accept the plan, but he does expect them not to undermine its acceptance.

Both Abbas and King Abdullah have publicly rejected any such plan.  Assuming no change of heart, they will be replaced.  Mudar Zahran is waiting on the sidelines.  He most certainly accepts such a plan.

Conventional wisdom has it that Israel would never agree to ousting Abdullah.  After all, as the theory goes, the border has been quiet for 30 years.  But increasingly, Israel sees Abdullah as an obstructionist just like Abbas.  I think Israel is ready for change, especially if change leads to a resolution of the conflict.

Conventional wisdom also suggests that if Mudar Zahran becomes the leader of Jordan, the Muslim Brotherhood, whose world headquarters is in Jordan, will oust him from power within 24 hours.  In this, it is wrong also.  Within the said 24 hours, Zahran would ban the Muslim brotherhood and designate it a terrorist organization.  In this, he would have the support of Israel and the U.S.

I believe that this deal will be accepted and will thus be the Deal of the Century.

Ted Belman is the editor of Israpundit.com, which he started 16 years ago.  Together with Mudar Zahran, he spear-headed the plan, in the spring of 2017, to replace King Abdullah, as the leader of Jordan, with Mudar Zahran, the head of the Jordan Opposition Coalition.  This plan was dubbed The Jordan Option.  Many if not all the principles set out in the plan are reflected in the Deal of the Century.



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