“Soft despotism is a term coined by Alexis de Tocqueville describing the state into which a country overrun by "a network of small complicated rules" might degrade. Soft despotism is different from despotism (also called 'hard despotism') in the sense that it is not obvious to the people."

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Should Rick Sanchez Have Been Fired?

I would fire Rick Sanchez because I don't like him, but I can hear nothing in this interview that should have had him fired by CNN. Can you?


Not So Hidden Influences

Is it so offensive to note the effectiveness of the Jewish lobby?

By Christopher Hitchens Slate
Posted Monday, Oct. 4, 2010, at 12:39 PM ET

I wasted a little time before writing this article, to see if I could produce a satire or a parody. This would have consisted of a fundraising letter from the American Israel Public Affairs Committee to a potential donor. "Dear Leo," it might begin. "We are asking you, even in these straitened times, to make the largest contribution you can afford. The security of the state of Israel is threatened as never before, and your help is urgently required. Alas, we can offer you nothing in return for your donation. Our representatives are still treated with scorn and contempt in the halls of Congress and by the White House. The news media remain deaf to our entreaties. If you choose to attend our annual conference, we can offer you nothing by way of 'access.' As usual, the secretaries of state and defense and the leadership of the Joint Chiefs of Staff will find plausible reasons to be absent. So will the speaker of the House and the Senate majority leader. Try to think of your contribution as a mitzvah: a private good deed that may not even go unpunished."

I had to give the thing up. It just didn't have that ring of near-truth that a successful satire or parody demands. You may conceivably wonder what provoked this folly in the first place. Two separate fusses, one in Europe and one in the United States, have raised the awkward question of Jewish influence. Recently, the European Union commissioner for trade, Karel de Gucht, a Belgian, made some remarks about the resumption of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations in Washington, in the course of which he said:

Do not underestimate the Jewish lobby on Capitol Hill. That is the best-organized lobby, you shouldn't underestimate the grip it has on American politics—no matter whether it's Republicans or Democrats.

In the ensuing uproar, this statement was described by the editor of the British magazine Standpoint (a monthly that ingeniously manages to unite both Zionist and Roman Catholic conservatives) as "blatant anti-Semitism" and a voice "from Europe's unspeakable past."

Then, last week, Cuban-American TV anchor Rick Sanchez, apparently maddened by the taunts of Jon Stewart, made some rather heavily sarcastic remarks about the power of the American Jewish minority and the sharing of its liberal assumptions by many at the networks. He was fired from CNN almost before he had finished getting this off his chest.

Now, of course, some Jews will detect the usual anti-Semitic "fork" here: the followers of the ancient faith being simultaneously indicted for being too conservative and establishment-oriented and too liberal and left-wing. But what has to strike the eye about both sets of remarks is how uncontroversial they are.

To take an example near to hand: A few months ago, I wrote here that the recent sharp deterioration in Israeli-Turkish relations was at least partially explicable by a single fact: This year, a key House committee voted to refer to the Turkish massacre of the Armenians in 1915 as genocide. In previous years, that vote had gone the other way. The difference, I pointed out, was this: Until recently, the Israel lobby on the Hill had worked to protect Turkey from such condemnation. But after the public quarrel between Turkey's prime minister and Israel's president at Davos, the lobby was in no mood to do any more favors. In other words, a vote with major implications for U.S. foreign policy—positive ones in my opinion—was determined by the supporters of a single power. I did not receive a single letter of complaint for making this observation, and I know nobody in Washington who would have quarreled with its obviousness.

It's not that long since the late Yitzhak Rabin was complaining that groups like AIPAC had too much influence on Israeli policy. Is there any other lobby that exerts a comparable influence? Perhaps the National Rifle Association. And, of course, on the single issue of the maintenance of a failed embargo, the Cuban-American caucus and its funding base in Florida and New Jersey. (I wonder if Rick Sanchez would offer me an argument there.)
Coming to Sanchez, then, I ask myself if the world in which I have worked for so many decades—the intersecting and overlapping world of the news media, publishing, the academy, and the think-tank industry—is even imaginable without the presence of liberal American Jews. The answer is plainly no. Moreover, I can't think of any other "minority" of which this is remotely true, unless it were to be the other minority from which I can claim descent: people of British or Anglophile provenance.

So why the fuss? I think it has to do with the tone of voice in which these facts are stated. Karel de Gucht, for example, prefaced his comments by saying: "There is indeed a belief—it's difficult to describe it otherwise—among most Jews that they are right." How untrue is this? Self-criticism among Jews, on matters of religion and statecraft, is actually rather noticeable. But anyone who has ever had a dispute with some of the spokesmen for the holy state may possibly have detected a whiff of righteousness here and there. (I pause to ask myself what it's like to be a Belgian, if there is such a thing. Too proud? Too masochistic? Difficult to decide. Like the mule, it seems to be a country without pride in paternity or hope of posterity.)

In the manner in which Sanchez spoke, also, there was something like a buried resentment. He didn't descend into saying that there was Jewish control of the media, but he did imply that liberalism was linked to a single ethnicity. Still, there is nothing criminal about this, and the speed of his firing, like the other recent abrupt disappearances of Laura Schlessinger and Octavia Nasr, seems to suggest a network system that cares only about playing safe and avoiding "offense." The best way to demonstrate the hidden influence of the chosen people would be for Jon Stewart and others to join me in calling for Rick Sanchez's reinstatement. If it then didn't happen, it would help us understand who really pulls the strings around here.


  1. Rick Sanchez is a dick.

  2. an unemployed dick.

  3. A New Bid to Prop Up Economy Brings Shrugs in Japan
    TOKYO — Critics expressed skepticism that interest rates near zero and other measures would bolster the economy

    Idled NATO Supply Trucks in Pakistan Are Attacked Again
    ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — New attacks hit trucks in Pakistan carrying supplies for NATO troops while truck owners said that the government had not provided protection.

    Chinese Civilian Boats Roil Disputed Waters
    BEIJING — The number of Chinese civilian boats operating in disputed territory and the run-ins they have with foreign vessels are on the rise.

  4. Stockholm Needs a visit by a Bunkerbuster:

    "The Wikileaks whistleblowing website has reportedly moved its server hosting to a Cold War bunker deep under the streets of Stockholm.

    According to a Norwegian magazine that broke the story (credit to Forbes blogger Andy Greenberg), Wikileaks' servers are now housed 30 metres (100 feet) underground in the 4,000 metre square Pionen White Mountains data centre, famous for a studied 'James Bond' design blasted from solid rock in the 1960s.

    Said in its heyday to be able to withstand an H-bomb, with entrance doors made from 40cm (16 inch) steel, Pionen was remodelled by Swedish ISP, Banhoff, two years ago.

    The hosting arrangement was brokered by Swedish political party, the Pirate Party, some weeks ago, which is believed to be covering costs."

  5. Thinking about the video, I think it was the liberal lobby that Sanchez pissed off, not the Jewish lobby.

    I believe CNN simply used this as an opportunity to sack Sanchez and offer him up as a sacrifice at the same time.

    From my perspective, the left has seemed a lot less intolerant than they would have you believe.

    Re: dick Hitchens. He is near death and I shouldn't speak ill of the man but suffice it to say that...

  6. Consider yourself warned.

    NEW YORK – The Pakistani immigrant who tried to detonate a car bomb on a busy Saturday night in Times Square accepted a life sentence with a smirk Tuesday and warned that Americans can expect more bloodshed at the hands of Muslims.
    "Brace yourselves, because the war with Muslims has just begun," 31-year-old Faisal Shahzad told a federal judge. "Consider me the first droplet of the blood that will follow."

  7. .

    31-year-old Faisal Shahzad told a federal judge. "Consider me the first droplet of the blood that will follow."

    Well, as long as it is their blood, I guess I could live with that.


  8. They're not the sharpest knife in the drawer...that's for sure.

    Crafty though, with a fatalistic "Insha Allah" attitude.

  9. Here's a story that evokes a reaction or two.

    Wall Street Sees World Economy Decoupling From U.S.

    Essentially, the story is that while the US has walking pneumonia, the BRICs keep on truckin'. The article points out that factory orders in China and India have increased for the second consecutive month. Pots and pans.

    Also, one wonk said:
    the U.S. share of global GDP has shrunk to about 24 percent from 31 percent in 2000.

    I'm not an economist, do not play one on television and did not sleep at a Holiday Inn Express last night. Anyone care to enlighten me about how that 7 point decrease translates to our national GDP? Disabuse of the notion that the US GDP contracted more than what is being talked about. For example, if we were by some accounts, a $14 trillon economy at the zenith of our hubris, then what are we now?

    Anyone heard recently?

  10. One wonk recently said that as the whirled moves away from the $ reserve, he expects gold to easily go to $2,000 per ounce.

    It's sad to think about your life's work reduced to a small pile of one ounce bars. Even if most of us liquidated everything and bought have to ask, "Is that all there is?"

  11. .

    "Is that all there is?"

    Waxing philosophic this morning Whit? I'm glad Bob is in Vegas otherwise we would have already been launched into an argument on Humanism and the transcendental.


  12. Haven't read the article, but if US GDP idled while China roared, India grew, and Germany rebounded, etc. might not that account for quite a bit?

  13. ...don't forget poetry and freezing balls.

  14. .
    Just saw a guy on CNN that said that $2,000/oz on gold looks a little high based on the time frame mentioned.

    However, he did say he could see it going to $1700 in the next 24 months.

    I stopped philosophizing about investment when I lost my shirt in the bubble.

    I don't like to wear jewelry of any kind. I don't even wear a watch. Gold is nothing more than an asset, like a Reit or an ETF.


  15. .
    ...don't forget poetry and freezing balls.

    The poetry I can live with. The 'freezing balls' not so much.

    However, there are some among us that actually find them 'comforting'.

    No accounting for taste.


  16. hey doug, I believe you're a podcast man, if I'm not mistaken. Have you been listening to the John Batchelor Show?

    If not, give it a listen. IMO, probably the best radio talk show on the air. Batchelor selects the stories and delivers them with just the right amount of "drama", has a variety of sources around the whirled, takes no calls and is low on the histrionics level. Every Saturday evening is devoted to books and their authors.

    I think Deuce listens at night over the airwaves.

    This has been a paid endorsement. ;)


  17. Just remember, Quirk.

    Bitterness is ugly.

  18. "I believe CNN simply used this as an opportunity to sack Sanchez and offer him up as a sacrifice at the same time."

    Out of touch with reality:
    He saw himself as a victim of prejudice, as if his monumental ignorance and stupidity were not the true source of sarcasm and criticism.

    ("Iceland has volcanoes?
    I thought it was too cold for volcanoes.

    Annals he pronounced as "anals")

  19. Duty calls.

    As we in the south say, "have a good one."


  20. Hadn't heard about the Batchelor podcast.
    Didn't he used to be a mainstream news guy?

  21. .
    Just remember, Quirk.

    Bitterness is ugly.

    True enough Whit.

    One must adjust and move on.



  22. .
    The rising cost of income inequality

    ...The biggest problem with runaway inequality, however, is that it undermines the unity of purpose necessary for any firm, or any nation, to thrive. People don't work hard, take risks and make sacrifices if they think the rewards will all flow to others. Conservative Republicans use this argument all the time in trying to justify lower tax rates for wealthy earners and investors, but they chose to ignore it when it comes to the incomes of everyone else.

    It's no coincidence that polarization of income distribution in the United States coincides with a polarization of the political process. Just as income inequality has eroded any sense that we are all in this together, it has also eroded the political consensus necessary for effective government. There can be no better proof of that proposition than the current election cycle, in which the last of the moderates are being driven from the political process and the most likely prospect is for years of ideological warfare and political gridlock...

    Income Inequality - The 1% Solution?

    As I get older, I don't know if I am becoming more of a socialist or if it's just having worked with some of these people I am amazed they are given millions for the actual work that they do.

    Beyond that, you have the recent phenomena of those who brought us to the brink of ruin being rewarded with even more millions.

    However, I have been reminded that bitterness, albeit on another subject, is ugly. Therefore, I will skip the second coffee, take my pain pill, and try to catch another couple hours sleep.


  23. .
    "Is that all there is?"

    By the way, Whit, the answer to your question is 42 (ref: Hitchiker's Guide To The Universe).