November 13, 2008

Jeffrey Goldberg of The Atlantic tells Tel Aviv audience: "the guy who will be running the White House is essentially an Israeli"

Here's a quote that has gotten little play in the press over the last week. (I was going to say "remarkably little play," but then I realized there's nothing remarkable about it.) From the website of the Israel Policy Forum (via Philip Weiss who read about it via Richard Silverstein):

On Thursday, November 6, IPF National Scholar Steven L. Spiegel moderated a discussion with Jeffrey Goldberg, national correspondent of The Atlantic and Alon Pinkas, President of the U.S.-Israel Institute at the Yitzhak Rabin Center in Tel-Aviv. The following is a summary of their remarks.

What effect did the election rumors about President-elect Barak Obama have on the Jewish vote? What may the impact be of the Chief of Staff appointment of Rahm Emanuel, whose parents are Israeli?

Jeffrey Goldberg: The rumor about Obama’s “Jewish problem” was one of the non-stories of the campaign. Approximately 78 percent of the Jews who voted went for Obama. Obviously, they didn’t buy it. It is interesting, however, that if you had been able to tell people that “the guy who will be running the White House is essentially an Israeli,” it may have quieted some people down.

Rahm Emanuel’s appointment might be proof that Obama is going to come out of the gate to try and work on Middle East peace issues almost immediately. Emanuel is emotionally tied to Israel in ways that very few politicians are, and is unyielding on Israel’s right to exist. However, his low tolerance for nonsense and his willingness to get into people’s faces should give caution to those who think he will be some sort of “rubber stamp” to all of Israel’s policies. At the same time, it is going to be hard for people to argue that he is anti-Israel.

I have a hard time getting very interested in Israeli-Palestinian disputes, but let me mention something more general: You keep hearing about how Barack Obama's election has raised America's image abroad (apparently on the theory that the Chinese, the Indians, the Russians, the Japanese, and the Arabs are extremely pro-black, which, I must admit, I haven't ever noticed much evidence for). What nobody has mentioned is that much of the anti-Americanism around the world is related to the view that America and Israel are too closely linked. How Obama's appointing Emanuel as Chief of Staff will solve that problem is unclear, to say the least.

Now, let me change the subject to my own country:

Something nobody has thought much about yet is whether or not this kind of obeisance to Jewish political power that Barack Obama displayed by making Rahm Emanuel his first appointment after his election is so pre-financial catastrophe. Has the political donor landscape shifted in the last month with the collapse of so many speculative financial institutions?

The biggest single reason, for example, that the American Enterprise Institute was both so influential and so extreme in the run-up to the Iraq Attaq was not that its idea were so hot but that its chairman of the board, commodity trader Bruce Kovner, was #106 on the Forbes 500.

As a glance at the names on the Forbes 400 shows, Jewish people tend to have a lot of money. And they are famous for being much more likely than anybody else to donate it to politicians and public policy organizations.

But, is this kind of discretionary wealth drying up?

For example, a year ago, there was much speculation about how many hundreds of millions of dollars would Sheldon Adelson, the Las Vegas Sands casino owner who was ranked as the 3rd richest man in America, was going to funnel through his new Freedom Watch organization to buy ads for neocon Republican candidates in 2008. Well, John McCain got the nomination, but Freedom Watch just remained a shell, not spending much of anything for McCain. Now we know why. From Bloomberg yesterday:

During this period [2004-2007], Adelson got rich faster than anyone in history, “making just under $1 million an hour,” said Peter W. Bernstein, co-author of “All the Money in the World,” a study of billionaires on the Forbes list out in paperback next month.

Forbes recalculated its rich list for the Oct. 27 issue and found Adelson’s fortune dropped $4 billion from Aug. 29 to Oct. 1, the steepest decline for any American who lost at least $1 billion. At his present pace, the one-year loss may rank as the largest ever for a U.S. billionaire in percentage terms, according to Bernstein.

Since Las Vegas Sands stock peaked, Adelson lost about $3.5 million an hour, counting just the value of his stake. [The stock is down 95% from its peak.]

Adelson expanded at “the worst possible time,” said Travis Sell, a consumer-industry analyst at Minneapolis-based Thrivent Asset Management, which doesn’t own shares in Las Vegas Sands.

Gaming revenue for Las Vegas Strip casinos fell for the eighth straight month in August from a year earlier, the longest streak of declines since records began in 1983, according to the Nevada Gaming Control Board in Carson City. Macau felt the contraction as the number of visitors was off 10 percent in September.

Adelson bet more heavily on Macau than any other U.S. casino, pledging $12 billion for new hotels, casinos and condominiums to create a mass-market tourist destination like Las Vegas. The Sands Macao was the first Vegas-style casino to open there in 2004, followed three years later by the Venetian Macao. Work has started on five other developments, among them a tower called the Shangri-La.

His decisions went against the grain of other casino operators, who were pulling back. As the subprime credit crisis worsened, Adelson was opening a 50-floor tower called the Palazzo adjacent to the Venetian in Las Vegas, making the 7,093- room complex the largest hotel and resort in the world.

Steve Wynn, chief executive of Wynn Resorts Ltd., delayed expansion of the Wynn Macau after the Chinese government began restricting visas in April 2007. Adelson called Wynn’s decision “wrong” in August 2007.

“If Steve Wynn is so smart, why isn’t he richer than I am?” Adelson said in a Bloomberg TV interview. “I’ve proven it over 50 times in my life: You change the status quo, then you’re going to win.”

Wynn Resorts has withstood the dip in gambling revenue better than the Las Vegas Sands and replaced it as the largest casino operator by market value last month. Adelson’s hotel slipped to third place, behind Wynn and MGM Mirage.

Adelson’s company said Nov. 10 it would leave the Macau developments half-finished as it focuses on completing a new casino in Singapore.

But don't worry too much over poor Sheldon:
“If the world came to an end, there would be cockroaches and Sheldon,” said David Kaminer, 64, a former vice president at an Adelson operation that ran the Comdex computer trade show in Las Vegas. “And Sheldon would immediately be smart enough to open a pest-control company.”

The big kahuna in terms of political throw-weight, however, is not Las Vegas but Wall Street. If the total wealth of financial industry figures contracts by, say, 50%, that will make bankrolling political activism harder to justify.

On the other hand, maybe the opposite is true. With the government quasi-nationalizing much of the financial industry (and who knows how much else), maybe investing in think tanks and public intellectuals offers a higher return on investment than ever. I've long felt that the real question is not why wealthy Jewish people contribute so much to public policy institutions but why everybody else who is rich doesn't contribute much at all.

Lots of people have been donating money to Harvard in the hopes of getting their kid into Harvard so he can then get a job at an investment bank and get rich. Well, guess what? There aren't any investment banks now! So, why not invest in a think tank that will come up with ideas for what the government should do with all the trillions it's printing up and handing out. As I wrote in 2007, Harvard has an endowment of $35 billion, while the American Enterprise Institute has an endowment of $76 million. You get more bang for the buck donating to public intellectuals than to universities (literally in the case of AEI):
So, $76 million is just a little over 1/500th of Harvard's $35 billion. Now Harvard has lots of things that AEI doesn't have, but, let me ask you this: Does it have its own war?

25 comments:

Truth said...

Hiring an Isreali lapdog as a chief of staff?

Well, so much for that whole "he's a black Muslim" thing!

anony-mouse said...

1/ Harvard hasn't had a war? What about Vietnam and the 'Best and the Brightest'?

2/ Isn't it just possible that Emmanuel is actually a good political organizer? Seems to me that the Obama and Clinton campaigns never really wanted for fundraising, and yet they both wanted Emmanuel on their side.

testing99 said...

Steve --

You ignore:

*Saudi and Gulf money that poured in to Obama's campaign.
*Robert Malley, George Soro's guy in Obama's campaign, met during, and after the campaign, with Hamas, Hezbollah, Syria, and Egypt to promise Obama would ditch Israel and support it's dissolution.
*Obama's closest pals: Wright, Farrakhan, Khalidi, all hate Jews.
*The endemic anti-Semitism among Blacks as "Black Values" and Obama's embrace of that.

Goldberg is just promising stuff Obama won't deliver. Particularly since it seems Hamas (raised money and votes for Obama, illegally of course) has more influence with Obama than Emmanuel. And Obama's campaign has reached out to Hamas and Syria and Egypt promising to help dismantle Israel (echoing Campaign advisor Samantha Power's desire to send US troops to dismantle Israel and install Hamas).

Moreover, the US is not "hated" because of ties to Israel (who the heck cares about that in South Africa, or Brazil, or Pakistan) but rather because we are weak.

No nation was more anti-Israel and anti-Semitic than Yeltsin's Russia and early Putin. They got Beslan and various other atrocities, all one after another, supported by AQ and Islamists all over the world.

AFTER Putin made a deal with the Iranians, and leveled Grozny, those attacks stopped. People respect strength and fear retribution. All else is bs in international relations.

Wanting people to "love us" is the mark of weakness.

And the greatest influence is Saudi/Gulf money which dwarfs everything else and is the greatest amount in DC among both Parties.

Anonymous said...

"(the) reason that the American Enterprise Institute was both so influential and so extreme...was not that its ideas were so hot but that its chairman...was on the Forbes 500."

Good for you, Steve, for recognizing that it's really all about the money. Most all bad ideas can be made politically acceptable if enough money is thrown at the problem.

Hell, the Bolshevik revolution was all about the money. Many millions in gold was sent to Russia from New York City in order to effect "change". The neocon takeover of National Review and the neutering of American conservatism was at its core a financial attack.

Through the mechanism of large strategically targeted donations any committed group can elbow aside its political competition.

Example: The former Russian oligarch now residing in London, Boris Berezkovsky, who is overtly working to get Putin out of power, was quoted in the press: "to get a new regime in Russia mostly just takes a lot of money"...

Anonymous said...

I would think Harvard has its fingerprints over just about every American war, and probably more than a few that didn't involve us.

RobertHume said...

testing99:
"Moreover, the US is not "hated" because of ties to Israel (who the heck cares about that in South Africa, or Brazil, or Pakistan) but rather because we are weak."

The only people who want to destroy our cities are the folks who are upset over our support of the settlements. That's what matters and that's why we are spending lives and treasure in Iraq and Afghanistan.

You're right about the others, they look at our people with pity; they don't want to kill us.

i am the walrus said...

"No nation was more anti-Israel and anti-Semitic than Yeltsin's Russia and early Putin."

I'm not sure how anti-Semitic and anti-Israel Yeltsin's Russia could have been considering that most of the oligarchs running the countries were Jewish, in the case of Berezkovsky, a dual citizen of Russia and Isreal. As a result, of course Putin's Russia is very anti-Semitic.

It will be interesting to see if Obama retains Robert Gates as Secretary of Defense. Gates, who is a Russian expert, auditioned for the role today by critizing Putin on missile defense. Picking a fight with Putin is probably the worst possible move Obama could make at the moment.

Anonymous said...

bruce kovner is going to be just fine, and probably AEI. Caxton Global + 7.25% for the year.

David said...

evil neocon has gone off the deep end.

Mysterious Israel-destroying Hamas agents are not funding the Obama Administration.

Obama's speeches are written by David Alexrod, a Jew. His Chief of Staff is Rahm Emmanuel, a Jew. He is financed by Pritzkers and Reskos. He genuflected to AIPAC.

But according to EC (or "testing99"), Barry is a Jew-hatin' agent of bin Laden and that notorious Hitlerite, George Soros!

Oy.

Fire up your Islamic, Allah-powered speedboat, EC, and ride off into the nuclear sunset, m'kay?

David said...

Not mysterious Muslims. Here is who raised money for Obama:

Click.

Yeah, Penny appealed primarily to Jew-haters and most of the money she accepted was from them.

Penny is a Mormon, of course.

ben tillman said...

So, $76 million is just a little over 1/2000th of Harvard's $35 billion.

1/500th

ben tillman said...

...commodity trader Bruce Kovner, was #106 on the Forbes 500.

As a glance at the names on the Forbes 400 shows....


400 or 500?

Anonymous said...

"On the other hand, maybe the opposite is true. With the government quasi-nationalizing much of the financial industry (and who knows how much else), maybe investing in think tanks and public intellectuals offers a higher return on investment than ever."

Why waste time donating to think tanks when you can just make a former U.S. Vice President a partner in your venture capital firm and get ready to stand in front of a flood of government 'investment'.

D.

richards1052 said...

Thanks for linking to my post about Jeffrey Goldberg's bizarre comments. Here's the link to the post I wrote in case anyone's interested.

I also have followed Adelson's career, political bankrolling, & financial tumble with great interest. In addition to the neocon activism he funds, he's doing his damndest to screw up Israeli politics by supporting Bibi Netanyahu's bid for prime minister. Rumor has it if Bibi wins that Sheldon will bring in Dick Cheney to be vice-premier.

eh said...

Das nennt man "Change".

Tsoldrin said...

The "Israeli Question" will solve itself. Even with the utmost chaos, violence and suppression thrown at them, Palestinians are outbreeding their enemies at a fairly swift pace. Israel has to either genocidally kill them all or find a way to (I don't even know what), or cease to be a Jewish state within ten years.

It's simple math and genetics.

Mr. Anon said...

"testing99 said...

Moreover, the US is not "hated" because of ties to Israel (who the heck cares about that in South Africa, or Brazil, or Pakistan) but rather because we are weak."

Nonsense. The U.S. is hated by muslims because we have military bases (large bases, too) in arab lands, and specifically in Saudi Arabia, home of Islam's holiest shrines. Osama bin Laden said as much prior to 9/11. If we withdrew our military forces from the mideast we'd dry up a lot of muslim animosity, whether we supported Israel or not (we were friendly to Israel in the 70's and had relatively little grief from muslims then).

matra said...

They got Beslan and various other atrocities, all one after another, supported by AQ and Islamists all over the world.

AFTER Putin made a deal with the Iranians, and leveled Grozny, those attacks stopped


The Beslan attack along with the Chechen bombings of Russian planes came after Grozny was leveled.

Anonymous said...

"The "Israeli Question" will solve itself. Even with the utmost chaos, violence and suppression thrown at them, Palestinians are outbreeding their enemies at a fairly swift pace."

The Palestinians can breed like rabbits and it won't make any difference. They are already 70% of Jordan and they don't run that country. Arabs are only 20% of Israel proper. All Israel has to do is give the Palestinians most of the West Bank unilaterally and be done with them. Then the Palestinians can continue to sulk on UN welfare or they can try to build a decent society for themselves. Israel will move on.

James Kabala said...

By Steve's own standards (once you say it in print you can never take it back), Emanuel has attained "folk hero" status:

http://rahmfacts.com/dossier.html

David Davenport said...

The U.S. is hated by muslims because we have military bases (large bases, too) in arab lands, and specifically in Saudi Arabia, home of Islam's holiest shrines.

Wrong on the facts. US mil. has been gone from your beloved Saudi A. for five years:

Last Updated: Tuesday, 29 April, 2003, 15:16 GMT 16:16 UK

Email this to a friend Printable version

US pulls out of Saudi Arabia


The US was not allowed to carry out air strikes from Saudi Arabia

The United States has said that virtually all its troops, except some training personnel, are to be pulled out of Saudi Arabia.

The decision was confirmed by US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld during a joint news conference with Saudi Defence Minister Prince Sultan.

Both men stressed that there were no differences between their countries and their co-operation would continue.

Ever since the 1991 Gulf war, the US has had about 5,000 troops stationed in Saudi Arabia - a figure that rose to 10,000 during the recent conflict in Iraq.



http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/2984547.stm

Mr. Anon said...

"David Davenport said...

"The U.S. is hated by muslims because we have military bases (large bases, too) in arab lands, and specifically in Saudi Arabia, home of Islam's holiest shrines."

Wrong on the facts. US mil. has been gone from your beloved Saudi A. for five years:"

You are wrong on timing. Five years ago? When was that? 2003. Well we had no problems before that, did we? When we were attacked in 2001, we DID have soldiers in Saudi Arabia. And, as per the article you cite, there are still training personnel there. More importantly, there are big freaking military bases that we built in the 80's and which we could reoccupy within a few weeks (that's why we built them).

And don't attribute "beloved Saudis" to me. I don't love them - I don't even like them. But I recognize that people can have grievances which won't go away just because you want them to.

Perhaps you can join Testing99 in some kind of freedom brigade to bring our righteous civilizing mission to the heathen of the world. I would like to see you neo-conservatives actually put your own lives at risk in the service of the ideals you espouse.

Big Bill said...

The Israeli question will solve itself"

I don't worry so much about the Israeli/Arab conflict, but the secular Jew/religious Jew conflict that is always simmering just below the surface. The penis-waggling gay pride parade seculars don't breed and the money-grubbing conniving religious don't fight. That is a bad combination for Israel.

Sheer numbers suggest the religious will win and ultimately reestablish the Old Yishuv. Currently, the religious are duking it out with the Arabs for who can breed the most kids. Seculars aren't even in the running. Liberalism is destroying Israel as well as the USA and Europe. Such a shame.

Captain Jack Aubrey said...

The Adelson story reminds me of another Jewish empire that imploded during the last big real estate crash in the early 90s - Olympia & York, owned by the Reichmann family of Toronto, who are ultraorthodox Haredi Jews. At one time the 3 Reichmann brothers were estimated to beworth over $10 billion (back when $10 billion...)

As for why wealthy non-Jews don't give as much to politics or think tanks? Well, they do.

The CATO Insititute is well-supplied with funds by three non-Jewish billionaires - David Koch, Fred Smith, and John Malone. Rupert Murdoch reverses the roles by being a non-Jew who packs his "think tank" (The Weekly Standard) with lots of Jews. And Salon.com for a long time was (is?) propped up by John Warnock of Adobe Systems.

headache said...

testing99 wrote:
"..Moreover, the US is not "hated" because of ties to Israel (who the heck cares about that in South Africa.."

Yea that's an interesting development. Israel was closely cooperating with Apatheid South Africa, under the radar of course. Afrikaners were generally known to be staunch Zionists, sort-of.
That's the official reason many blacks hate Israel and Jews.

Anyway, since Jews in South Africa supported the ANC even though the Afrikaner governments supported Israel (reminds me of the GOP), and now that black policies are working their way through to daily life, Jews are ditching the country. Now both Afrikaners and blacks dislike Israel and Jews, the former because they feel betrayed, and the latter because they feel betrayed.

Even Oppenheimer has had to start selling off mines because the black gov. threatened him. So much for smart policy decisions.