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A reader notices that an old acquaintance from decades ago now has her own blog: Bad Rachel. A fairly representative post is here.
Rachel Abrams of the Weekly Standard is the daughter of Norman Podhoretz and Midge Decter, and half-sister of John Podhoretz.

Her husband Elliott Abrams was, according to his biography at the Council of Foreign Relations where he now hangs his hat, “Former senior director for democracy and human rights, senior director for the Near East, and deputy national security adviser handling Middle East affairs in the George W. Bush administration.”

In other words, Rachel Abrams is a diplomat’s wife. A diplomat assigned, presumably, to bringing peace and reconciliation to the Middle East.

Mrs. Abrams, however, gives us the less diplomatic version of the family feud.

I always wondered about Bush putting Elliott Abrams in charge of Middle Eastern diplomacy. Do you think it was at all possible that people in other countries thought that Mr. Abrams, during his Bush Administration career in charge of Middle Eastern diplomacy, was something less than a completely fair-minded neutral facilitator? Perhaps something Mrs. Abrams said at diplomatic cocktail parties might have given the rest of the world reason to doubt the good faith of Mr. Abrams

Of course, if other diplomats ever did doubt the objectivity of Mr. and Mrs. Abrams, that would just prove they’re hateful bigots and probably should get cruise-missiled. (We’re looking at you, Luxembourg.)

By the way, a commenter has asserted that Midge Decter is the original for fussbudget Lucy van Pelt in Charles M. Schulz’s Peanuts cartoons. Is there any truth to that?

(Republished from iSteve by permission of author or representative)
• Tags: Neoconservatives 
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From the Wall Street Journal’s editorial page:

Will Obama Bring Home the Neocons?
On immigration, the family, even defense, there is common ground.

by Gabriel Schoenfeld

“Neoconservative” and “neocon” have become terms of abuse, denoting right-wing extremism. But the original neoconservatives began mostly as left-leaning intellectuals who only deserted the Democratic Party after it fell under the influence of the counterculture during the Vietnam War. With Barack Obama about to become president, is there any chance neoconservatives will finally return to the roost?…

Don’t let the doorknob hit you on the way out.

Now that seething hostility toward immigrants and the heartless work-place roundups of illegal aliens carried out by the Bush administration have brought the GOP low, neoconservative intellectuals will find little common ground with those Republicans who helped drive away Hispanic voters and marched their party off the electoral cliff. If Mr. Obama pushes for immigration reform that balances humaneness with respect for the rule of law, he will almost certainly draw in some neoconservatives.

Oh, so that’s why the co-author of the McCain-Kennedy amnesty bill lost!

It is too early to say which way Mr. Obama will really swing in foreign affairs. But if it is toward resolve in the war against Islamic terrorism — with an occasional humanitarian intervention thrown in — he may well garner waves of support from quarters that were avidly tearing him down right up until Nov. 4.

“Waves” is putting it grandly — Republican-voting Jews must have accounted for less than half a percent of the vote in 2008.

On the other hand, if he extends an olive branch to the neoconservatives … he might pick up some surprising allies. He might also fracture the opposition’s idea machine and help turn the Republicans back into the stupid party for years to come.

Yeah, without neocon brainpower, the poor dumb bastards won’t come up with any more great ideas like starting a needless land war in Asia.

As a convenience for all the neocons out there, here’s the District of Columbia form you have to fill in to change your party registration from Republican to Democrat.

(Republished from iSteve by permission of author or representative)
• Tags: Neoconservatives, Politics 
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From Slate:

Big Love

Why Americans swoon for the former Soviet Republic of Georgia.

By Ilan Greenberg

American Georgia boosters may not boast the same numbers and history as, say, lovers of Paris. But what they lack in size and tradition they more than compensate for with depth of feeling. In fact, it is hard to overstate the level of passion felt by Americans in thrall with Georgia. Love for Georgia is uncompromising and consuming. …

Scenes of sullen Slavs hammering vodka shots give way in Georgia to boisterous celebrations of copious wine, joke-telling as bloodsport, and supreme hospitality. …,

As Mitchell said to me, “There’s no other post-Soviet government with a president everyone calls by first name who can argue about where to find the best Indian food in New York.”

I got to know Georgia—and Saakashvili—when I profiled him for the New York Times Magazine. For almost two months I shadowed Misha. In Slovakia for a regional summit, walking next to Saakashvili along Bratislava’s cordoned streets, the Georgian head of state hooked his arm on my elbow and offered to trade gossip about his senior staff. In Tbilisi, Saakashvili gave me carte blanche access, not once ordering me out of his office. In a region where governments routinely conflate tribe with nation, Saakashvili pointedly switched languages to inclusively address ethnic minorities. One evening I answered my cell phone to hear the cackling voice of the then 37-year-old president, who called to tease that his evening was more interesting than mine. I had been crank-called by the president. Stockholm Syndrome was inevitable.

Georgia’s charm doesn’t end with Saakashvili. Few sights are as beguiling as barrel-chested Georgian men greeting each other on the street with the traditional cheek kisses. …

Of course, at the government level, assiduous courting of Americans is all part of the plan. Saakashvili has been reaching out to American politicians, especially Republican ones, since he took office. When I spent time with the president, he was obsessive about influencing American opinion-makers in the press, and his chief of staff complained to me he was spending more time dictating responses to articles in American newspapers than governing Georgia.

For Westerners, Georgian cultural idiosyncrasies can be intoxicating. But for Russians, Georgia is also innerving. The two peoples are badly handcuffed. Russian women falling for Georgian men is a stereotype in both countries, and ethnic Georgians populate the upper reaches of Russian pop culture as celebrated singers and actors.

Actually, Americans don’t love Georgia. (A lot of Americans aren’t even that crazy about the Georgia that Ray Charles sang about.) What percentage of adult Americans do you think could find Georgia on a globe within 15 seconds? 10%?

Here’s the double-sided irony, though: We here in the land of the free and the home of the brave aren’t supposed to even notice the links among various interests in Israel, the ex-Soviet Union, and the NYC-DC axis, causing Americans to underestimate their power. And that leads to nasty surprises for Americans, like when one of our client states suddenly invades a Great Power’s protectorate. A week and a half later, 90% of the press is still baffled by why Georgia thought it could get away with it. (And another 9% is still pretending Russia struck first — see today’s Washington Post where their Editorial Page Editor asks “Who Made Russia Attack?“).

On the other hand, the rest of the world tends to overestimate the power of these Jewish-centric networks, which brag constantly about their power, except when somebody mentions their power. Foreigners shake their heads and ask: If they weren’t so powerful, then more people in America would be allowed to talk about them, right?

The truth, not surprisingly, turns out to be in-between, but since we’re not supposed to talk about it, nobody knows what they are talking about.

In particular, there are large parts of the world where “conspiracy theory” isn’t a pejorative — the way you prove you’re the smartest guy in the room is to come up with the most complicated conspiracy theory. A lot of these conspiracy theorists are anti-Semites, but some of the conspiracy theorists, such as the government of Georgia, are pro-Semites.

And while that global impression of Jewish network omnipotence helps various American and Israeli individuals make a nice living for themselves as pretend powerbrokers, it also leads to tragic/farcical events like Georgia’s recent attack.

For example, Saakashvili, a former New York lawyer, apparently figured that if:

- he appointed ex-Israelis to his two crucial cabinet positions (“Both war and peace are in the hands of Israeli Jews,” he recently joked);

- bought enough Israeli and American weapons;

- sent 2000 troops to fight in the neocons’ war in Iraq;

- hosted an oil pipeline;

- and if he relentlessly massaged the egos and cultural biases of Jewish writers from Jewish-owned American media outlets, portraying Georgians as lovable surrogate Italian-Americans in natural alliance with Jews, with himself as their Rudy Giuliani;

Then America would have to help him out in his little invasion of Russian-defended turf. After all, evidently reasoned this ex-New Yorker, The Jews run America, right? Or maybe the world? So America would have to come to his aid in his war against the New Czar and his Armored Cossacks.


Once he started the war, all that Saakashvili got for his years of schmoozing were a lot of credulous articles in the American press forgetting to mention who invaded whom first, and a little rhetorical sabre-rattling from American pundits and Presidential candidates, one of whom, John McCain, has a chief foreign policy adviser who was on the Republic of Georgia’s payroll until May 15.

So, Saakashvili’s got that going for him, which is nice.

But when it came to actual tank warfare with Russia, well, the idea that these motley networks of hustlers and blowhards whom Saakashvili had cultivated in Israel and America could and would force their countries to ride to his rescue turned out to be just a fantasy in his head.

The Israeli Foreign Ministry has been trying to cut Georgia loose ever since they got wind of the fine mess various ex-Israeli military men had gotten Israel into.

And there was never any way in hell that U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates (who, by the way, is not 29-years-old) was going to send American troops to fight the Russian Army 600 miles south of Stalingrad. The American public wouldn’t put up with it. Americans don’t know much about history, but we have heard of Hitler and Napoleon, and we more or less know that fighting a ground war with Russia is what brought them down.

By the way, if the Georgian government had any sense, they would haven’t turned to American and Israeli advisers for military consulting against Russia, since those two countries’ experience and expertise is in tank vs. tank warfare when they have the upper hand. To learn how a little country can hunker down and outlast a big country, Georgia could have hired Swiss experts, or Albanians, or Hezbollah for advice on how a little country can dig in and resist attack from superior armor and air power.

But, the Georgians weren’t interested in defense.

(Republished from iSteve by permission of author or representative)
• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: Neoconservatives 
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I’ve just started reading They Knew They Were Right: The Rise of the Neocons by Jacob Heilbrunn, a senior editor at The National Interest. It traces neoconservatism back to the storied Trotskyite alcove at the CCNY cafeteria in the 1930s, but this section on p. 11-13 jumped out at me:

“The neocons claim to be an intellectual movement with no ethnic component to speak of. But neoconservatism is as much a reflection of Jewish immigrant social resentments and status anxiety as a legitimate movement of ideas. Indeed, however much they may deny it, neoconservatism is in a decisive respect a Jewish phenomenon, reflecting a subset of Jewish concerns. …

“As the children of immigrants who came to the United States from Central and Eastern Europe, the original neoconservatives were steeped in the ideological feuds of the past and present. As Jews, they were exquisitely attuned to the social exclusion and WASP snobbery that their fathers experienced in the early part of the twentieth century — an attitude they carried with them through the debates of the cold war and the halls of power after 9/11. …

“At the same time, the neocons are apoplectic about the allegiance of American Jews to liberalism. Irving Kristol made a useful distinction in 1979, trying to account for why so many American Jews, as he saw it, retained lingering socialist sympathies. His explanation was that they were drawn to the prophetic mode of Judaism rather than the rational one that emphasized adherence to orthodox laws. Socialism became a secular prophecy, the new civic religion of American Jews, who embraced secular humanism. … But Kristol’s conceit can also be turned on the very movement that he himself has headed for several decades. The neoconservatives themselves have veered between the prophetic and the rational schools. A good case could be made that they have now gone astray in indulging their own prophetic tendencies. …

“That [neoconservative] mentality is ineluctably Jewish, immigrant, and conditioned by a highly selective and moralistic view of history as a drama of salvation and idolatry. …

“[N]eoconservatives are less intellectuals than prophets. They tend to be men (and women) of an uncompromising temperament who use (and treat) ideas as weapons in a moral struggle, which is why the political class in each party regards them with a mixture of appreciation and apprehension, even loathing.

“That temperament is hardly confined to Jews, and it is often objected that not all neocons are Jewish. That is, of course, quite true. … Despite the fervent protestations of its founders and adherents, then, it is anything but an anti-Semitic canard to label neoconservatism a largely Jewish movement. I hope it’s clear, however, that I am talking about a cultural proclivity specific to America Jews of a certain generation, not about something that is “essentially” Jewish in either a religious or a racial sense. The best way to understand the phenomenon may be to focus on neoconservatism as an uneasy, controversial, and tempestuous drama of Jewish immigrant assimilation — a very American story. At bottom, it is about an unresolved civil war between a belligerent, upstart ethnic group and a staid, cautious American foreign policy establishment that lost its way after the Vietnam War.”

(Republished from iSteve by permission of author or representative)
• Tags: Neoconservatives 
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A friend points out:

A note on neo-nepotism: One difference between Norman Podhoretz and by serving in the armed forces, alongside guys they otherwise wouldn’t and anti-semitism among the masses were overblown. The GIs he rubbed shoulders with were actually fairly respectful of the brighter guys, and they were more curious than hostile about his religious/ethnic background. Kristol learned another lesson: there was so much corruption and racketeering going on among his fellow soldiers that he lost his socialist faith that putting lots of government property in the hands of The People was a wonderful idea. My impression (I could be wrong) is that John Podhoretz and William Kristol haven’t had this range of social experience. The great theme of The Bell Curve is that a cognitive elite is increasingly cut off from the rest of the population. The end of conscription may be part of this trend.

(Republished from iSteve by permission of author or representative)
• Tags: Neoconservatives 
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From the neocon vanity newspaper, the New York Sun:

Commentary’s Transition

New York Sun Editorial

October 16, 2007

While the Republicans are arguing about the meaning of their party and their philosophy, one of the clearest-thinking journals in America, Commentary magazine, is signaling that its own transition will be true on matters of principle. It announced yesterday that its next editor will be John Podhoretz, who will take over the monthly in January 2009. Mr. Podhoretz will be only the fourth editor of Commentary in the magazine’s 61-year history, succeeding one of the finest editors in journalism, Neal Kozodoy, who has been with Commentary since 1966, served as editor since 1995, and made the magazine the gold standard of what has come to be called neo-conservative thinking — and a showcase of enterprising journalism, offering scoop after scoop on the beat of ideas.

… Mr. Kozodoy also guided the magazine to its independent ownership in a new not-for-profit corporation, leaving its long-time home in the American Jewish Committee. In John Podhoretz, who has been writing a brilliant column for the New York Post, Commentary is turning to a leading voice of the younger generation at the same time that it continues its connection to the intellectual tradition that has brought so much to our city and country. It’s an inspiring transition for those of us who cover the battle of ideas, and who recognize the enormous impact that a relatively modest publication can have. It is something to think about for a Republican — or any — Party that is trying to find its footing in a turbulent time.

JPod is, of course, the son of former Commentary editor Norman Podhoretz.

This tradition of giving magazines to the offspring of first generation neoconservatives is getting out of control. I mean, William Kristol, who runs The Weekly Standard, may not be quite right in the head, but he at least looks presentable. John Podhoretz, in contrast, is a notorious buffoon. If the younger Kristol is evidence for the theory of regression toward the mean, JPod represents regression below the mean.

Charles Murray, the last of the neoconservative data-crunchers, should begin looking for a new outlet.

So, who exactly made this decision? Didn’t the Board watch “Gladiator,” which teaches the usful lesson: Don’t give power to malign oafs just because they are related to the old boss?

I wonder how Commentary’s Managing Editor Gary Rosen feels today?

By the way, Podhoretz’s brother-in-law is convicted criminal Elliott Abrams, who during the first term of the current President, “filled the post of Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director on the National Security Council for Near East and North African Affairs.” In other words, he was the President’s adviser on Israel. “At the start of Bush’s second term, Abrams was promoted to be his Deputy National Security Advisor for Global Democracy Strategy” — Wikipedia.

(Republished from iSteve by permission of author or representative)
• Tags: Neoconservatives 
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A reader points out that Tamar Jacoby, the leading spokesperson for the Cheap Labor lobby, married the legendary Eric Breindel in 1988, although the marriage famously didn’t last long. (Here’s the NYT’s article “Miss Jacoby Is Affianced” and here’s the wedding notice.)

Due to his personal magnetism, energy, and ambition, Breindel is an extremely important figure in the development of the neocon stranglehold on public debate in America, even though he’s little known today outside of the NYC-DC axis. His funeral after his death in 1998 at age 42 from non-Hodgkins lymphoma was attended by all the Great and Good of the New York media and political elites of all political persuasions.

A 1998 New York magazine article called “The Connection Man” by Craig Horowitz explains:

‘As a writer, Breindel was unexceptional, producing mostly the joyless prose of an ideologue. And as an ideologue, he was more effective working the back channels than he was at publicly taking issues and ideas into new territory. But Breindel understood power in a way few people do. He recognized early in his life that personality is more important than ideology. It’s all about proximity and access. If you have someone’s ear, you can make things happen.”

Breindel, among much else, was crucial to the election of Rudy Giuliani as mayor of NYC in 1993 by persuading Rupert Murdoch to have the New York Post back Rudy in its attack-dog style rather than the Conservative Party candidate.

Despite his soaring New York success, however, the last thing Breindel would have expected — given his unmistakable early promise — was that he’d have to settle for a career as an editorial writer for a tabloid newspaper. The defining moment of his life, the episode that gives his story its tragic-heroic arc, occurred when he was 27. In the early months of 1983, after receiving a high-level security clearance from the FBI, Breindel went to work as Senator Moynihan’s aide on the Senate Intelligence Committee. For someone interested in a career in government, it was a dream job. But on May 16, only eight weeks after he started, Breindel was arrested in the parking lot of a Washington, D.C., motel for buying five bags of heroin from an undercover cop. Two and a half grams for $150. The arrest report said he had tracks on his arms. He was a junkie.

It was, of course, a big story at the time. The coverage portrayed him as a “golden youth” — Harvard Phi Beta Kappa, Harvard Law School graduate, doctoral candidate at the London School of Economics — who had squandered his promise.

As Moynihan was vice-chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Breindel had a heavyweight security clearance, so the revelation that he was consorting with heroin dealers was a much bigger deal than if he was an aide to the vice-chairman of Ways & Means. Breindel’s Harvard roommate was Bobby Kennedy’s son David, another druggie.

Breindel’s life was the sum of his obsessions, and chief among them — quite naturally, given his background [as the son of wealthy Holocaust survivors] — was the fate of the Jews. It was the locus from which all of his other political positions flowed. He believed that most of the world’s evil took place under totalitarian regimes, and from this came his obsession with communism. …

But there was also an upside, a positive view provided by this prism through which he saw the world: his lack of cynicism about America. Unlike most of his contemporaries, he was the child of immigrants. America was the country that saved his parents. “In a strange way, he was a throwback,” says the Observer‘s Peter Kaplan. “In his politics, in the quality of his thought, in the intensity of his passions and his delight in America. It was our parents’ experience, not ours. We were dulled by the success of America and everything that came along with it. But he was experiencing this country the way people who are now in their seventies did 40 or 50 years ago.” …

When Breindel got to Harvard, his obsessions served him well. They were the foundation on which he built what would turn out to be the seminal relationships of his adult life — those with Moynihan, Peretz, and Podhoretz.

After his arrest shattered his ambitions for high government office,

He continued to write the occasional piece, and he asked his friend Christopher Buckley to make contact for him at the New York Times. He’d written a piece about Whittaker Chambers that he wanted to get placed on the op-ed page.

Buckley hooked Breindel up with Tamar Jacoby, who was then the deputy editor of the Times‘s op-ed page. “As soon as we met, we knew there was something there,” says Jacoby, whose most recent book is Someone Else’s House, a look at race and the struggle to achieve integration in America. “He was smart, he was funny, and he cared about the same things I cared about. I knew he’d been through a lot, but that often makes someone stronger and more interesting. I fell in love with him, and his problems certainly didn’t get in the way.” …

With her help, and recommendations from Podhoretz, Peretz, and Moynihan, Breindel landed a job writing for the editorial page of the New York Daily News…

Breindel and Jacoby decided to marry at the beginning of 1988, four years into their relationship. The wedding was at the Harvard Club, and the guest list was, of course, eye-opening. “We both knew a lot of people, and we took some mischievous pleasure in Elliot Abrams having to shake hands with Anthony Lewis and Norman Podhoretz having to shake hands with Bob Silvers,” Jacoby says, laughing at the memory. “Eric and I joked about having to have different rooms to accommodate the various ideologies.”

The relationship, which had always been combative, deteriorated not long after the wedding, and their split yielded one of the most often told and heavily embellished breakup stories in the history of New York‘s chattering class. The tale begins when Breindel and Jacoby embark on a two-week trip to Europe with Breindel’s parents to visit the concentration camps. … They were, in fact, in Europe with his parents when they decided to split up. They were in Hungary, not Poland, and she had always planned to stay on in Europe — without Breindel — to visit her sister in London. When she got home, the apartment was not empty, and Breindel was staying with his parents. Jacoby was, according to people who know her, extremely bitter and angry after their split. Still, the funeral was difficult for her. “When I married Eric, I had all kinds of expectations and hopes about life. I’m a different person now, but at the funeral I spent a lot of time thinking about those two people.”

Even without the apocryphal rendering of the breakup, the cynical view is that Breindel chose women the same way he chose his friends — based on who could help him the most. Tamar Jacoby was the right woman for him at the right time, and when times changed, he found Lally Weymouth, [Washington Post owner] Katharine Graham’s daughter, far more useful.

A general lesson for our era is that cyberspace is far overrated as a way to influence events compared to personal contacts and behind the scenes machinations.

(Republished from iSteve by permission of author or representative)
• Tags: Neoconservatives 
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My new column:

The Axis of Amnesty Is Back, But So Is David “Unpatriotic Conservatives” Frum

By Steve Sailer

As Dr. Frankenstein used to say:

“It’s alive!”

Just as I warned last week, the Kennedy-Bush-McCain Axis of Amnesty reanimated their patched-together monster in the Senate … although it’s definitely not back by popular demand.

If this bill were a horror movie, it would be House of Wax II … and not a sequel to the Vincent Price original, either, but a remake of the recent Paris Hilton remake.

Or maybe:

Aliens 4
In Washington, no one can hear you scream.

We’re going to have to scream loud enough this week before the crucial cloture votes to be heard even in Washington.

The politics of amnesty, however, would make a natural suspense thriller film:

Establishing Shot: Ted Kennedy drives a blushing Republican Party girl down a moonlit dirt road.

Cut to: His car lurches off a bridge.

Pan: Senator Ted swims away while the bubbles from the sunken car die out.

Amnesty is so unpopular these days that even President Bush’s old speechwriter David Frum has lately gone on the immigration restrictionist warpath after years largely missing in inaction. In the June 25th National Review, Frum explains “How I Rethought Immigration” way back during the first Bush Administration of 1989-1993. (You can read it online here.)

Frum is wonderfully lucid writer—except, unluckily, on those topics that most engage his personal passions—so it’s quite a fine article….

Still, while this is all well and good, it does raise the question: If Frum was so expert over 15 years ago, why was he essentially a no-show in the immigration debates back when his influence was at its peak in the first half of this decade?

(Hint: It’s VDARE.COM’s fault!)


(Republished from iSteve by permission of author or representative)
Steve Sailer
About Steve Sailer

Steve Sailer is a journalist, movie critic for Taki's Magazine, columnist, and founder of the Human Biodiversity discussion group for top scientists and public intellectuals.

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