Keizer Public Square

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Shafik had correct response at Columbia


The Israel-Hamas war over Gaza has landed on these shores. Protesters on college campuses demand their universities divest themselves of stocks in companies that profit from Israel’s tactics, that have killed up to 34,000 Gazans.

The protesters cite freedom of speech rights when told to dismantle their tent communities on campus. Some of the protesters are pro-Gaza, which leaves some fellow students of the Jewish faith uncomfortable and feeling threatened.

The president of Columbia University, Minouche Shafik called in New York Police to quell the protest and dismantle the tent community. A number of student protesters were arrested but quickly released.

Law enforcement’s involvement did not sit well with many people. Protesters said the hard-handed tactics were extreme for a “peaceful” protest. Some called for Shafik to step down, saying that calling police on the protesters was against all the ideals a college stands for. 

The Columbia University protest was a wisp of what an earlier generation did in the 1960s to protest the unpopular Vietnam war. Then, students stormed and took over the chancellor’s campus office. It can be argued that a larger percentage of Columbia students at that time stood on the anti-war side. 

The Israel-Hamas war does not elicit such virulent and passionate protests. These days, the protesters themselves can be protested against, some people think the protest is anti-Semetic because it attacks Israel.

How the war over Gaza will be resolved is unknown. A few hundred students protesting from their tent city will not bring the war to a close. 

To the nation at large, the student protesters are elitist, progressive people who pay $90,000 each year to attend Columbia. Tuition does not buy the right to take over part of the campus that is used by all the other students.

The medium is the message. If some Jewish students feel unsafe by a conceived anti-Semetic protest, that certainly can not be the outcome the protestors envisioned. There is something wrong with your message if the target audience of that message is offended.

College is the place to for a frank exchange of opinions; college should be the place where young people learn how to do that without rancor or violence. The right of free speech is always the first stop for people who don’t have a message that resonates with the public. 

President Shafik was right to call in the police to clear the protest. A university campus should be the place where ideas are debated, not be an obstacle course for heads-down students trying to get to class.

(Lyndon Zaitz is Editor and Publisher of the Keizertimes.)

If not now, when?


The horrific scene going on in Gaza is not new to the region as mangership has fallen onto first the British, then the Egyptians and now finally to Israel and the Netanyahu administration. 

Regardless of who occupies the space though, it cannot be denied that for the millions of Palenstinans living in what some have called an open air prison, life likely resembles a proverbial hell-on-earth. 

Despite Israel’s occupation and slow colonization of Gaza happening over several decades, the pace of that has quickened since the Oct. 7, attack by Hamas fighters as they made their way over the wall that fences Palestinaians in near the Kibbutz of Kfar Aza, where around 1,200 civilian residents and Israeli Defense Force (IDF) personnel were killed. 

Israel, led by a polarizing Bibi Netanyahu, then proceeded to retaliate in an effort to “wipe out Hamas,” in a somewhat one-sided fight that currently has taken the lives of upwards of 34,000 Palestinians, with more than two thirds being women and children, according to reporting from AP. 

This continuing campaign, which currently has no end in sight and instead could continue to grow (see current issues with Iran), has claimed Hamas fighter lives but at what point do we as Americans make a greater call to our president, a self-avowed Zionist, to actually pressure a cease-fire?

The easy answer is now, but to make that call more effective it is first important to divest the movement from what many say is anti-semitism and clearly denote what Israel is, a fascist ethnostate that does not care much for its Jewish and Arab population as evidenced by the flailing support Bibi now has. 

Those who support Gaza do not do so as a way to fly the flag of anti-semitism but instead to represent anti-Zionism, a growing sentiment among a plurality of Americans. 

According to a recent Gallup poll, only 38% of Americans approve of the fight continuing as is in Gaza, while 55% disapprove.

Considering that support all around is waning, why don’t more government officials speak up against what the U.S. has blithely supported now for years. 

Perhaps now is the time. 

(Quinn Stoddard is a reporter for the Keizertimes and shares his opinion frequently on the Public Square.)

“Stop it now, Joe!”

By Gene H. McIntyre

A couple of decades ago, when Joe Biden was Senator Biden, he got on George W. Bush’s case for failing to act on the Darfur genocide and humanitarian crisis. Biden wanted the White House to demand a stop to what he characterized as needless loss of life and property. One can argue that Darfur and Gaza are not the same atrocities yet similar enough to prompt a “Where is Joe now?” question.

Meanwhile there is no question, but that Gaza has become that proverbial albatross weighing down on Biden’s stature as a compassionate human being and caring president. Gaza has become Biden’s war almost as much as Benjamin Netanyahu’s. Things there, with full-blown famine and violent anarchy, reported as the order of the day, are already as bad as anything can get in today’s world. Then, too, are the reports that tell of bombs dropped on a compound in Gaza used by the International Rescue Committee, other bombs dropped from American-made F-16 fighter jets to kill innocent women and children and other daily events to stir into a frenzy, one’s conscience and humanitarian instincts.

Any American could argue that this is not Biden’s war in the way former President Lyndon Johnson chose to pursue Vietnam or war by Bush in Iraq. Biden has not sent American troops into Gaza, and he has not directed this war. Further, Biden is not comfortable whatsoever with the civilian toll of this war and would prefer Israel conduct it with more caution and restraint. Yet, and here’s where the rub becomes an open wound, Biden continues to underwrite this war. Yes, Biden’s words on the subject have become more and more critical but actions have not changed.

Of course, rationalizations abound. Standing by Netanyahu with weapons in hand to turn over to him has been to ensure Israel is ready should war break out between it and Iran or Hezbollah in Lebanon. Arming Israel with more means of war also enables Netanyahu to aggressions for an expanded war that enable him to stay in power as Israel’s Prime Minister. After all, if Netanyahu looks weak and vulnerable to any noticeable extent an election could happen in Israel, likely ending his regime, while widening the war into Iran could keep him longer in his current position.

There are other relevant factors that subtly or directly influence Joe Biden on Israel. First and perhaps foremost is Biden’s age. Holocaust news stories provided a heavy dose of sympathy to the American psyche. Then, too, there were movies like Exodus and The Diary of Anne Frank that reinforced a need to help and support the Jews of the world to establish a homeland now within reach by Great Britain’s Belfour Declaration. One does not want to establish excuses for Biden’s reluctance to get “tough” with Netanyahu and his conservative supporters but some of history does provide a background for Biden’s foot dragging and general reluctance to demand a change in Gaza tactics by Israel’s army. Then, too, the most recent influence on Biden’s sympathies, the murderous Hamas raid into Israel on October 7, 2023.

Other facts on the subject beg for attention and have attracted the attention of tens of thousands of Americans: the war in Gaza has killed about 34,000 people, including 13,000 children. Also, 484 health workers, 100 journalists and 200 aid workers have died on that battlefield. Damaged and destroyed have been 57% of the territory’s buildings. Meanwhile, there is no end in sight and Biden is strongly encouraged by this writer and a whole lot of other Americans to pursue a fundamentally tougher and more independent path in Gaza. Biden must stop the flow of offensive weapons as that halt will get the attention of the Israel Defense Forces and all of Israel’s current leaders.

Biden should be encouraged to listen in particular to one close advisor who’s as anguished over Gaza as she is correct and right in doing so. “Stop it!” Jill Biden recently said to her husband, “Stop it now, Joe!”

(Gene H. McIntyre shares his opinion regularly in the Keizertimes.)

The nation flies past another trillion dollar milestone


This nation, tobogganing swiftly down a steep slope of fiscal irresponsibility, barely notices a blur of alarming milestones. Last week, we sped past this one: A $1.1 trillion deficit in the first six months of fiscal year 2024 that began Oct. 1 resulted in almost as many dollars spent on debt service ($429 billion) as on defense ($433 billion).

This, at the most menacing geo-political moment since 1945, makes one hope that JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon was radically wrong in saying recently that interest rates could reach 8% or more in coming years. If they do, deficits will explode even before the Social Security and Medicare trust funds are exhausted, within 10 years.

The Federal Reserve was instrumental in igniting inflation with too- cheap money for too long, and then was serene about inflation’s supposedly “transitory” nature. In 2012, the Fed announced its hubristic plan to achieve its aspiration of exactly 2% inflation. Even if evidence indicated the Fed capable of such precision (evidence does not), Joseph

C. Sternberg’s question in the Wall StreetJournalis apposite: “Who elected these folks to aim for a 50% loss in purchasing power of a dollar every 35 years?”

In a recent report, the Manhattan Institute’s Dan Katz and Stephen Miran argue that “the Fed’s current  governance has facilitated groupthink that has led to significant monetary-policy errors while allowing the Fed the flexibility to unwisely expand its remit into inherently political areas such as credit rationing and banking regulation.” Here is groupthink: “Despite the biggest monetary errors in four decades,” Katz and Miran write, none of the nine recent appointees to the Board of Governors was on

record as having made accurate predictions about inflation’s path. Mission creep: The Fed has moved beyond its traditional technocratic role and “pursued a much more expansive monetary and regulatory agenda that is more consistent with an explicitly political institution.”

This  has  included  allocating credit, thereby picking private-sector  winners  and  losers;  urging Congress to favor the Democrats’ stimulus proposal (10 times the size of the Republicans’ proposal) a month before the 2020 presidential election;  allowing  racial  inducement in its operations; and inject- ing environmental considerations into financial regulations. What the Fed calls “climate-related financial risks” are fictitious. This column has previously noted that the Hoover Institution’s John Cochrane is correct: Measurable climate risk to the financial system’s “resilience” in the time frame that regulation can foresee and control—five years or so— simply does not exist

In July 2019, Fed Chair Jerome H. Powell said: “We don’t have authority … to lend to state and local governments.” Nine months later the Fed did that. Randal K. Quarles, leaving as the Fed’s vice chair for supervision in 2020, said, “Those whose plans are grand and whose patience with democratic accountability low” will ask “why the Fed can’t fund repairs of the country’s aging infrastructure, or finance the building of a border wall, or purchase trillions of dollars of green energy bonds.” Perhaps it could. Who would stop it? Congress cannot even budget but is a geyser of opinions about everything. As government institutions fail at their primary missions (the Fed’s is to preserve the currency as a store of value), the institutions pursue grandeur through mission creep. This is perhaps partly for the

pleasure of being where political fashion locates excitement (today, “equity” and climate change).

Katz  and  Miran  recommend shortening the terms of members of the Fed’s Board of Governors, and making them removable by the president. The authors would balance this increased democratic control by nationalizing the reserve banks, which are privately owned by local banking consortia.

Katz and Miran say, somewhat puzzlingly, that making the reserve banks government institutions subject to political accountability would somehow make them a counterweight to the Board of Governors whose members would be removable by the president.

It is counterintuitive to advocate more direct political control of the Fed amid accumulating evidence that politics is the problem. That the biggest threat to American democracy is American democracy. The fiscal incontinence propelling the nation toward an utterly predictable crisis reflects the majority’s preference: Let’s make unconsenting (because unborn) future taxpayers— debt is taxation, including the tax of inflation, deferred—pay for a significant portion of our consumption of government services. Institutional tinkering with the Fed is no substitute for mature politics.

In recreational toboggan rides, the exhilaration of synthetic danger subsides as the sleds glide to a stop. Today’s fiscal plunge will not end so tranquilly.

(Washington Post)

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