June 05, 2004

Modern Anti-Semitism

Modern anti-semitism and George Soros. Kevin Drum has comments:

The Washington Monthly: SOROS AND ANTI-SEMITISM....I don't pay much attention to conservative reaction to fiery liberal speeches anymore. As Avedon Carol put it last week after Al Gore's speech:

The right side of the Blogosphere was pretty much in lock-step with the RNC talking points: He's lost it. He was anti-American and full of rage. He was frothing-at-the-mouth. He was crazy. And (this is getting so original) he has officially lost it. He has careened off the rails. In other words, they had nothing to say.

That's the basic reaction to any liberal who expresses any passion these days, so why bother? It's obviously just manufactured outrage and doesn't really deserve to be taken seriously.

Still, the reaction to George Soros' recent speech stands out for sheer repugnance. Max has the details on how blatantly conservatives twisted Soros' words to pretend he said things he plainly didn't, and Media Matters has the story on Washington Times editorial page editor Tony Blankley's odious bloviating on Sean Hannity's show:

Look, if he wasn't a multi-billionaire, he'd just be another ignored left-wing crank....This is a man who has blamed the Jews for anti-Semitism....This is a man who, when he was plundering the world's currencies, in England in '92, he caused the Southeast Asian financial crisis in '97....He said that he has no moral responsibility for the consequences of his financial actions. He is a self-admitted atheist, he was a Jew who figured out a way to survive the Holocaust.

Translation: he's a Jew-hating Jew, he's a greedy Jew, he's a conniving and heartless Jew, he's an atheistic Jew, and he's a Jew who must have been (if you get my drift, wink wink) a Nazi collaborator. Anyone who's not a child knows perfectly well what Blankley was saying here.

Conservatives routinely jump on every alleged piece of anti-Semitism out of France as proof of European moral decrepitude, and here at home they can get seriously bent out of shape by nothing more than liberals using Jewish names as examples of neocons (i.e., Kristol, Feith, Perle, Wolfowitz). But Blankley's transparently racist imagery hasn't caused much of a ripple. Eugene Volokh has an extremely mild rebuke, but that's about it....

While we are at it, another thing from Sun Myung Moon's empire worth denouncing--for it is a remarkably strong invocation of classic Nazi modes of expression, with Communist Jews named Rubin and Soros using clever financial trickery to cause impoverishment and panic--is this:

Will George Soros Panic the Market? - Insight on the News - Politics: Posted Jan. 23, 2004 By Kenneth R. Timmerman

The idea was floated first by former Treasury secretary Robert Rubin, now the chairman of Citigroup. Unless Congress scales back the Bush tax cuts, he argues in a new study, U.S. government budget deficits could lead to a crisis of confidence in the dollar and the stock market and potentially staggering losses for investors.

To conservative economist Bruce Bartlett, Rubin was "laying the groundwork for a political assault on President George W. Bush over his budget policies, hope[ing] to give the Democratic presidential candidate an issue to run on that could propel him into the White House."

But Wall Street sources say Rubin may have had other designs as well. A consummate insider who talked the market up when he was working for Bill Clinton, Rubin today could be trying to talk the market down. "This market is thin enough that if you made a big move all of a sudden you could move it," Bartlett tells Insight. "At some point, something could happen on its own, and then someone like George Soros could turn a minor blip into something else."

The Hungarian-born Soros is one of the world's richest men, with a fortune estimated at $7 billion earned in part from brazen assaults on world currency markets. He has gained political notoriety for providing $18 million to support a change in the U.S. campaign-finance laws and then using that change in recent months to offer more than $15 million to radical organizations dedicated to defeating Bush this November [see "Soros Resolves to Bring Bush Down," Dec. 9-22, 2003]. Asked recently by the Washington Post whether he would trade his $7 billion fortune to unseat Bush, Soros thought hard. "If someone guaranteed it," he said finally.

Investment adviser and author Don Luskin (www.poorandstupid.com) thinks investors should watch Soros carefully but calmly. "At least two of three conditions must be met for a speculative attack on the market to succeed," he tells Insight. "First and foremost, the speculators have to be right." When Soros sought to break the British pound by massive currency trades, he played into a market that knew the existing exchange rates were unsustainable. "So he speculated against the Bank of England, not against the whole damn world," Luskin says. "You can influence the market by the very act of betting."

Ideally, Luskin says, there should be technical market conditions that force other players "to take action triggered by what you did, independent of wanting to help you." Such was the case during the Oct. 19, 1987, stock-market crash, when computer-driven selling accelerated as the market went down, driving prices down even further. By the end of the day, prices had plunged by 20 percent. Since then, the New York Stock Exchange has installed "circuit breakers" that cut off trading to prevent panic selling.

"Soros believes that if he can force the market down, he will have an effect in the real world," Luskin says. "If it happens on Oct. 31, people might go into the voting booth with fear in their hearts."

Insight put two questions to Luskin and to private investment adviser Jim Klima of Klima and Associates in Ellicott City, Md. Should Soros decide to make a power play on the eve of the November 2004 elections, how would he do it? And what is the likelihood he would do so?

Luskin believes Soros could choose to sell stock index-future contracts massively. If Soros succeeded in driving the market down and keeping it down for several days or more, then his early trades would make a profit. "With this strategy you only lose at the bottom," Luskin says. But when the market turns, Soros could lose big, just as he did during the October 1987 crash.

Klima thinks Soros would be more inclined to stick with what he knows best, which is the currency market. "By playing the futures market, he could win whether the dollar slides further or whether it recovers," Klima explains. But Soros could have the most devastating impact on the U.S. economy by betting the dollar higher, not lower. "A dramatic rise in the price of the dollar would dramatically hurt U.S. exports," Klima says.

These advisers say concerned investors should be watching for increased market volatility, starting in the futures pits, and for futures trading at a discount.

But for all his Bush-bashing bluster, Soros will be thinking long and hard before throwing real money at this market. "George Soros has gotten his tail burned badly in the U.S. market when he's been a big seller," Luskin says. "If he's wrong, it could cost him several billion dollars."

But if he's right, and Howard Dean gets elected president in a panic, his doomsday trading could become a self-fulfilling prophecy as U.S. financial markets collapse. And that would leave Soros even richer than he is today. "In the end, it could be a pure financial play, not a political play," Luskin says. Place your bets.

Posted by DeLong at June 5, 2004 04:37 PM | TrackBack | | Other weblogs commenting on this post

"This market is thin enough that if you made a big move all of a sudden you could move it," [Bruce] Bartlett tells Insight.

- US Treasuries? - The forex market? - THIN?

I know, I know... The post was about anti-Semitism, and the point is well taken. But this casual, make up whatever you need for the argument attitude is astounding, even after all the experience we've had of it. The little lies are as revealing as the big smears.

Posted by: Dave L on June 5, 2004 05:06 PM


It's Don Luskin, people. A rightwing pseudo-economist wearing a tin-foil hat. It's sad that most newspapers don't follow the "fit to print" rule anymore. Next, Lyndon Larouche opines on Anglo-Saxon conspiracies.

Posted by: ch2 on June 5, 2004 05:25 PM


Moon is theologically on record as saying the the Holocaust was God's punishment. He also advocates extermination of gays, IIRC.

But in a genuinely serious faux pas, he's also said that he outranks Jesus, and tnhat his image should replace the cross on altars, etc.

Why do the Bob Jones people, the Catholic bishops, Pat Robertson, and the Mormons work with someone who is obviously not only loony (not always a problem with those guys) but also a certifiable, burnable heretic by every Christian standard that there is or ever has been?

$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$ is why. Moon has squeezed around ten billion out of his zombies, and he throws it around very generously.

If David Ehrenstein had that kind of money to throw around and wanted to be a Republican too, he could declare buttfucking to be a sacrament of his church and get both George Bushes, Frist, Tom DeLay, Trent Lott, Dick Armey and all the rest of them to attend his conferences. Tough luck, David!

Posted by: Zizka on June 5, 2004 05:44 PM


I don't want to come off as a crank, but I find the rising tide of anti-semitism to be pretty troubling. I hope blogs like this one will continue to nail people for it.

But it is something that's happening on the left, too. People are talking about how Jewish neocons dragged us into war for Israel's benefit. There's no proof of that, but hey, they're Jewish and the war doesn't seem to have been in our interests, so let's assume there's a massive conspiracy.

I don't know if it's particularly helpful to focus on the fact that Wolfowitz and Soros are Jewish. They're both Jewish, and they're both people who have had big effects on our politics, but they both see the world in very different ways, and are pulling in completely opposite directions.

It would be great if we could get to a point where everyone would distance themselves from anti-semitic comments, even if they were made by people who tend to agree with you politically. Right now we have right wing bloggers complaining about left wing anti-semitic comments, and left wing bloggers complaining about right wing anti-semitic comments. It would be great if we could start to cross political lines and agree to condemn all of it.

If it matters, I'm not Jewish, but this stuff scares the hell out of me. I think we have to stomp it out before it gets any worse.

Posted by: Alex S on June 6, 2004 08:01 AM


From Blankley: "He is a self-admitted atheist."

What's the difference between being a "self-admitted" atheist (or anything else) and an "admitted" one?

Posted by: Batavicus on June 6, 2004 10:55 AM


"Self-admitted" is like "card-carrying". It's a more or less meaningless adjective designed to make the subject sound more sinister.

Posted by: lux on June 6, 2004 12:53 PM


Zizka, that was truly beautiful. God bless you.

Posted by: godoggo on June 6, 2004 11:28 PM


This is the wierdest piece of "financial analysis" I've ever seen! Luskin needs help, badly, if he thinks that this is some kind of drive by Soros to profit from a stengthened dollar and plummeting market. Which, in itself is internally inconsistent.

I'm not even sure how to respond to this swill.

But, maybe I'm somehow blind to this stuff because I too am a "Self-admitted atheist Jew".

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