Tuesday, October 31, 2023

A Party In a Bad Place



In the fall of 2020, President Donald Trump ran for President against former Vice-President Joe Biden. So I hate to defend the press secretary to Mr. Biden when she says "Remember, when the President decided to run for President...." but here we are. 


Krystal Ball is lying.

The Israeli government has not imposed a siege on every civilian in Gaza. It is not mercilessly bombing civilian targets. The IDF is bombing military targets which Hamas has strategically placed amongst civilians. That somewhat discourages Israeli bombing raids and when Israel proceeds nonetheless, considerable civilian casualties ensue.  For Hamas: a win-win.

The people displaced "forcefully" have been directed by Tel Aviv to go south because Israel is concentrating its attacks in the north of Gaza. And the massacre? The massacre occurred on October 7 in an attack which Ball will not acknowledge. The word "massacre" has lost all meaning if it doesn't mean rape, burning babies, beheading adults, and slaughtering everyone in your way. But for opponents of the State of Israel, "massacre" is just an eight-letter word to be thrown around recklessly. 



 

Asking "does President Biden believe the anti-Israel protestors in this country are extremists?"Peter Doocy was being diplomatic, wherein he could have replaced "extremists" with "anti-Semitic" or "pro-Hamas."  Jean-Pierre avoided answering the question directly, yet accurately equated them with the Charlottesville protests. 

Jean-Pierre cited President Biden's repeal of Trump's "Muslim ban" and effort to address 'Islamophobia,' anti-Semitism, and related forms of bias and discrimination." In the context of recent events, she could be slammed for equating the danger of "all forms" of hatred with that of anti-Semitism, which is growing exponentially and threatening the political viability of the President's defense of Israel.

And yet, .for Nina Turner, the problem evidently is that the press secretary noted that candidate (or as she inaccurately stated, "President") Biden condemned the violent Unite the Right rally and will not tolerate hate as President.

Or maybe that was not really Turner's concern. I suspect that noting that the left- or, rather, ethnic groups the left favors- in its most extreme form present a threat to our basic values is offensive to her.

So maybe Karine Jean-Pierre, in her faltering and barely coherent fashion, desires a measure of credit. There are bigots such as Turner and Ball on her far left condemning her for defending standard, traditional moral values. There are Democratic politicians and pundits who see protests of "From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free," know that means the elimination of Israel, and turn mute. Representing President Biden, the press secretary decried prejudice. Other Democrats now must step up and denounce the people who would like the Israelis to sink into the sea and vanish from history.



Monday, October 30, 2023

And Imagine Such a President


Someone here is very naive, and someone not. The first Indian-American woman to serve in the United States House of Representatives, she is not vile and pro-terrorist, unlike fellow progressives Ilhan Omar, Cori Bush, and Rashida Tlaib.  And appearing on Sunday's Meet the Press, Washington State's Pramila Jayapal explained

Well, look, Kristen, first of all, nobody has any love for Hamas. Hamas is a terrorist organization that has deprived the Palestinian people, absolutely, of many, many things in the time of their rule. And let's not forget that the last election, where Hamas was elected, was 16 years ago. Half of Palestinians are children. They were not part of that. And Hamas is not Palestinians. And Palestinians are not Hamas. We have to be very clear about that.

"Hamas is not Palestinians." Not only is that accurate, Jayapal she is one of very few people- politicians, pundits, journalists, whomever- who will acknowledge that. The people of Gaza are not the Palestinians of Israel proper, nor of the West Bank, nor of Jordan, the nation more than half of whose residents are ethnic Palestinians. There is a difference between the Gazans and the other peoples, unless all of life now is race and genetics, with no account for citizenship, national lineage, or anything else.

It is true, moreover, that the misguided individuals who voted Hamas into power did so many years ago and many changes occur over time, including the death of individuals and the birth of so many more.

However, reality mourned when Jayapal remarked (moments earlier)

.... we need immediate sustained humanitarian aid to flow into Gaza. We need the bombings – and, you know, you can call it a humanitarian truce, as 140 countries said in the resolution that was passed at the United Nations. The United States was one of only 14 countries to oppose that resolution. Call it a humanitarian truce. Use that time to make sure we get the hostages out, both American hostages and Israeli hostages....  And I think this is the moment for us to de-escalate, to call for cessation of hostilities, and to allow humanitarian aid through and the negotiators to work to get the hostages released.

Calling a truce, then expecting hostages to be released and Hamas to cool its heels is almost as naive as John Lennon's "Imagine," in which bad music was paired with lyrics so unrealistic as to be silly:  "Imagine no possessions. I wonder if you can. No need for greed or hunger; a brotherhood of man."

Without regard to Lennon or Jayapal, a wise and balanced remark: 

She also proposed a Public Health Rapid Response Fund to deal with pandemics... in 2016. But oh, those emails!



Saturday, October 28, 2023

Heading Into a Racial Buzzsaw


In a candidacy that is equal parts bold and bizarre, United States Representative Dean Phillips of Minnesota has announced a run for the Democratic nomination for President.

"The irony," as William Conrad intoned at the beginning of each television episode of The Fugitive, "(is) Richard Kimble is innocent." The irony here, after eight years of Barack Obama and four of Donald Trump, the country has had the benefit of almost three years of a productive and effective presidency. And unlike the last Democratic President, Joe Biden is being challenged- sort of- from within his own party.

As this article by Tim Alberta in The Atlantic suggests, Phillips, a member of the centrist, bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus, is not challenging Biden on ideological grounds. Nor is he running because he believes that the incumbent has been a bad President. Interviewing Phillips at the latter's Virginia farmhouse on October 20, Alberta found a congressman fearful that Joe Biden is dead man walking, a clear underdog to Donald Trump.

After spending portions of 2022 "cultivating relationships with powerful donors, from Silicon Valley to Wall Street, who had offered their assistance in recruiting a challenger to Biden," Phillips was still undecided, with Democratic heavyweights warning him that a challenge to the incumbent would only impede the latter's re-election in 2024.  This summer, he

began asking House Democratic colleagues for the personal phone numbers of governors in their states. Some obliged him; others ignored the request or refused it. Phillips tried repeatedly to get in touch with these governors. Only two got back to him—Whitmer in Michigan, and J. B. Pritzker in Illinois—but neither one would speak to the congressman directly. “They had their staff take the call,” Phillips told me. “They wouldn’t take the call.”

Eventually "feeling hopeless," Phillips made a few last-ditch phone calls, pleading and praying that someone might step forward. No one did and in the first week of September

several major polls dropped, the collective upshot of which proved more worrisome than anything Phillips had witnessed to date. One survey, from The Wall Street Journal, showed Trump and Biden essentially tied, but reported that 73 percent of registered voters considered Biden “too old” to run for president, with only 47 percent saying the same about Trump, who is just three and a half years younger. Another poll, conducted for CNN, showed that 67 percent of Democratic voters wanted someone other than Biden as the party’s nominee.

The Minnesota congressman, who appears to lack the ego of a US Senator, governor, or celebrity who might seek the presidency, seems to be the ultimate reluctant candidate. "In the run-up to his launch," Alberta remarks, "Phillips tried to speak with the president—to convey his respect before entering the race. On Thursday night, he said, the White House got back to him: Biden would not be talking to Phillips." Moreover, as Alberta interviewed him

the less energized Phillips seemed by the idea of dethroning Biden. He insisted that his first ad-making session focus on saluting the president, singing his opponent’s praises into the cameras in ways that defy all known methods of campaigning. He told me, unsolicited, that his “red line” is March 6, the day after Super Tuesday, at which point he will “wrap it up” and “get behind the president in a very big way” if his candidacy fails to gain traction. He repeatedly drifted back to the notion that he might unwittingly assist Trump’s victory next fall.

Despite an effective President, voters believe the recovery is faltering and the incumbent is too old to serve a second term. Nonetheless, signaling that he is expecting to quit the race before the spring equinox is no way for Phillips to run a campaign if he is determined to win. Yet, as bizarre as this effort is, it is equally bold.

So believing that President Biden's message has not been heard by voters and that he is hampered by age, a somewhat unknown member of the U.S. House has launched a campaign extremely treacherous for a Democratic hopeful. Alberta writes

In a year’s worth of conversations with other party leaders, Phillips told me, “everybody, without exception,” shares his fear about Joe Biden’s fragility—political and otherwise—as he seeks a second term. This might be hyperbole, but not by much: In my own recent conversations with party officials, it was hard to find anyone who wasn’t jittery about Biden. Phillips’s problem is that they refuse to say so on the record. Democrats claim to view Trump as a singular threat to the republic, the congressman complains, but for reasons of protocol and self-preservation they have been unwilling to go public with their concerns about Biden, making it all the more likely, in Phillips’s view, that the former president will return to office.

In the past fifteen months, Alberta explains, Phillips

name-dropped some Democratic governors on television and made personal calls to others, urging someone, anyone, to jump into the Democratic race. What he encountered, he thought, was a dangerous dissonance: Some of the president’s allies would tell him, in private conversations, to keep agitating, to keep recruiting, that Biden had no business running in 2024—but that they weren’t in a position to do anything about it.

In an underrated irony

What made this duplicity especially maddening to Phillips, he told me, is that Democrats have seen its pernicious effects on the other side of the political aisle. For four years during Trump’s presidency, Democrats watched their Republican colleagues belittle Trump behind closed doors, then praise him to their base, creating a mirage of support that ultimately made them captives to the cult of Trumpism.

Phillips made clear to Alberta that he found no equivalence between Biden and Trump. Certainly, there is no cult of Bidenism to rival Trumpism or even Obamism, the latter the Democratic Party's irrational fealty to President 44. Nonetheless- and despite the incumbent seemingly headed for defeat in twelve months- no Democrat stood up to challenge Biden even as, according to Phillips/Alberta, the Minnesotan was told "to keep agitating, to keep recruiting."

This would be baffling, if it were. But it is not, because the answer is hiding in plain sight.  While having written an otherwise excellent article, neither Alberta nor the courageous (if misguidedly centrist) Phillips will even mention, let alone acknowledge, why no Democrat who believes Biden is going to get beaten will challenge him.  In an important, conveniently ignored piece in early September, two NBC reporters found

Biden allies have not been shy about getting the word out that it would be self-defeating for ambitious white male candidates like Newsom to try to snatch the nomination away from Biden and Kamala Harris, who made history as the first woman and person of color to become vice president.

Consider the past: A string of Democratic candidates who failed to lock down Black voters went on to lose the race for the party's nomination — including Bernie Sanders in 2016 and Hillary Clinton in 2008.

“When you had people who were trying to test the waters” for a presidential bid, “the party rose up and made it clear to those individuals — who were mostly white men — that to disrespect the vice president would not be well received by women and people of color within the party,” said Karen Finney, a longtime Democratic strategist. “They got a little bit of a smack in the face.”

In the words of the legendary broadcaster Paul Harvey, "now you know the rest of the story."  Potential candidates were reluctant to stand up not because they adore the incumbent, nor only because it might hurt him in the general election. The major reason has been race.

Let's clarify: R-A-C-E. (Gender is playing a secondary role.) Karen Finney warned "the party rose up and made it clear to those individuals — who were mostly white men — that to disrespect the vice president would not be well received by women and people of color within the party. They got a little bit of a smack in the face."

She said the quiet part out loud and no one responded publicly. Cenk Uygur has claimed that he asked prominent Democrats to challenge Biden and no one took the bait. Dean Phillips evidently did all he could to get someone interested but found no takers. Uygur is now in the race, despite being ineligible for the office. Phillips declared for the office on Thursday, but reluctantly. His chance of being nominated is only slightly better than that of Uygur, not the least because he's more committed to defeating Trump than he is to his own candidacy.

Dean Phillips did not get the memo. To Finney and the party hierarchy, Kamala Harris is no more and no less than a black woman- so proceed with caution. Every Democratic politician has responded as required. Do not pass go, do not collect $200, and don't even think about getting in the way of Kamala Harris. The rather brave Dean Phillips has made his future as a Democrat extremely precarious, even more so than Joe Biden's future as a President.


 


Thursday, October 26, 2023

As Plain As He Can State It


We have a Donald J. Trump. We have a George Santos. Now it appears that the United Nations has an Antonio Guterres. CNN reports that at a meeting of the United Nations Security Council, Secretary-General Antonio Guterres

called for a humanitarian ceasefire on Tuesday amid the deepening crisis in Gaza, and told the Security Council that “clear violations of international humanitarian law” are being witnessed.

He called Hamas’ October 7 murder and kidnap rampage “appalling,” and said “nothing can justify the deliberate killing, injuring and kidnapping of civilians, or the launching of rockets against civilian targets.”

“It is important to also recognize the attacks by Hamas did not happen in a vacuum,” Guterres said. “The Palestinian people have been subjected to 56 years of suffocating occupation. They have seen their land steadily devoured by settlements and plagued by violence; their economy stifled; their people displaced and their homes demolished.”

“But the grievances of the Palestinian people cannot justify the appalling attacks by Hamas. And those appalling attacks cannot justify the collective punishment of the Palestinian people. Excellencies, even war has rules,” he added.

The war in the Middle East does not pertain to "the Palestinian people" and clearly "the Palestinian people" are not being collectively punished. Israel is not bombing the West Bank which, before October 7, was home to those who were referred to as "the Palestinians." Were Israel to punish Palestinians collectively, there would by now be very few Palestinians still alive for Arab leaders and UN executives to feign concern about. 

Advising people to migrate from the area which a nation's military is planning to bomb is a very strange way of inflicting "collective punishment." Guterres should know better- and does. After strong criticism from Tel Aviv 

In an effort to “set the record straight,” Guterres said Wednesday he was “shocked by misinterpretations by some of my statement yesterday in the Security Council – as if I was was justifying acts of terror by Hamas.” 

“This is false. It was the opposite,” he told reporters, restating his condemnation of the October 7 attacks.

But Guterres did not back away from his Tuesday call for a ceasefire, or from his nod towards the historical treatment of Palestinians.

Guterres is "shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on in here"- and that he was accused of justifying acts of terror by Hamas after he rationalized acts of terror by Hamas. He was accused of justifying terrorism because that is precisely what he had done, having criticized the group before adding "The Palestinian people have been subjected to 56 years of suffocating occupation. They have seen their land steadily devoured by settlements and plagued by violence; their economy stifled; their people displaced and their homes demolished."

Those Palestinian people whose land is occupied live in the West Bank, not in Gaza. Were Gaza occupied, Hamas would not have been controlling the area for sixteen years and there would be no need for the invasion Israel is contemplating. 

According to CNN, the Secretary-General did not, as CNN put it, back away from his nod toward the historical treatment of Palestinians. The slaughter by Hamas was terrible, Guterres admitted, but there was good cause for it, he insisted while excusing the massacre.

If you're looking for George Santos to admit to serial deceit; Donald Trump to declare "I am a racist," or John Bolton to slip and say "I want war with Iran," And Antonio Guterres won't say "I hate Jews." It's not going to happen. This is not your corner bar. Men and women- even Mr. Trump- in the public eye understand the need not to be explicit.

Guterres wants us to recognize that "Hamas did not happen in a vacuum." After Israel withdrew from Gaza in 2005, Hamas won an election against  Fatah in 2006 and has ruled since then without an election- because, of course, they care so much about "Palestinians." They

“developed the capability to tax and extort,” said Matthew Levitt, who worked as a senior Treasury official focusing on countering terrorist financial networks. Hamas began to rake in taxes and kickbacks from salaries, sale of goods and smuggling, a sum that now reaches up to $300 million to $450 million a year, said Levitt, now at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy think tank.

Although the U.S. and the European Union have designated Hamas as a terrorist organization, “they’re not effectively cut off from the international financial system,” said Hans-Jakob Schindler, senior director of the Counter Extremism Project. “They actually are able to invest funds in companies and in real estate.”

Hamas’ leadership has invested its income in an international investment portfolio worth $500 million in real estate and other assets from companies in Algeria, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates, which it uses to conceal and launder its money, according to a Treasury announcement.

Cryptocurrencies have helped the group invest its money while bypassing international financial sanctions according to a report by the Counter Extremism Project. To combat those efforts. “Hamas was an early adopter of fundraising in crypto starting in 2019,” said Ari Redbord, a former federal prosecutor and global head of policy and government affairs at TRM Labs, which is working to track Hamas funding. “They were using Telegram channels to solicit donations. They then stood up website infrastructure to solicit donations.” Yet, experts, including Rebord, emphasize that cryptocurrency remains a small piece of the group’s financial strategy.

To some extent, Hamas also supplements its income with various criminal enterprises, experts said. “All large-scale terror groups, such as Hamas, have to ensure that they have multiple, overlapping financing streams, because there is international pressure on its finances,” Schindler said.  

Hamas may be merciless, barbaric, and running international criminal enterprises but at least they're killing Jews, a redeeming quality to Antonio Guterres.  And  the United Nations will offer only condemnation of Israel coupled with support for Hamas, couched in dishonest language parroting its deeply dishonest Secretary- General.


 




Tuesday, October 24, 2023

Uncomfortable Reality



Israel is losing the war- the messaging war. (Fortunately, messaging is a major battle, not the war itself.)  This is reflected in Cenk Uygur's response expressing an opinion held by tens of millions of Americans and more abroad:

Innocent "Palestinians?"  The tweeter to whom Uygur was replying did not mention Palestinians. This would be inconsequential were it not the primary framing of the war Tel Aviv is engaged in with Hamas.

It's a framing both prejudicial and so inaccurate that the conclusion that it is dishonest is almost inescapable. 

Mosab Hassan Yousef was raised in the West Bank as the son of one of the founders of Hamas and at one time a member of the group.. However, he became an undercover agent for Israel's Shin Bet security force, serving from 1997-2007. (Although it is difficult to determine whether he actually converted, Yousef clearly is very sympathetic to Christianity. 

He has remained extremely hostile toward Hamas and supportive of Israel. Recognizing that this war is not a struggle between Israel and the Palestinian people, he told (beginning at 4:08 of the video below) Fox News' Brian Kilmeade

You know, Hamas is not a national movement ,it's a religious movement. They don't care for nationalism. Actually, they're against nationalism. With that said, my understanding- they are using the Palestinian cause only to achieve their goal. So the long term goal, you know, transforming the Middle East and the world into an Islamic state. This is Hamas' agenda and they are not hidden, by the way.





Lately, that goal has been hidden, disappeared by both the traditional and non-traditional media, which will only extremely rarely mention "Islamic" or "Islamic fundamentalist" and never, ever utter the word "Muslim." 

It's as if Hamas selection as its immediate target the planet's one Jewish state was by accident. However (as Yousef didn't mention but undoubtedly understands well), Hamas made clear at its inception its agenda.  Its 1998 charter is called "The Covenant of the Islamic Resistance Movement," which states "Israel will exist and will continue to exist until Islam will obliterate it, just as it obliterated others before it."

That's not Hamas obliterating it or Palestinians obliterating it. it's Islam which will obliterate it, in the name of "The Marty, Imam Hassan al-Banna,of blessed memory."  Of course, they are radical, fundamentalist Muslims, not representing all Muslims or all Palestinians. Nonetheless, if a Christian organization were to declare its intention to obliterate Iran, Saudi Arabia, or Qatar in the name of Martin Luther, John Calvin, Pope Francis, or Jesus Christ, the world would not write it off as inconsequential, merely the work of an extreme, violent wing of the religion. Everyone would be justifiably horrified.

Yet, that may not be the most significant promise of the charter. Article 27 reads

That is why, with all our appreciation for the Palestinian Liberation Organization- and what it can develop into- and without belittling its role in the Arab-Israeli conflict, we are unable to exchange the present or future Islamic Palestine with the secular idea. The Islamic nature of Palestine is part of our religion and whoever takes his religion lightly is a loser.

Loosely (but not very) translated, that would be "the future Palestine will be Islamic, will not be secular, and whatever Palestinian and/or Muslim individuals who don't accept our version of Islam better watch their back."

CNN's Jake Tapper asked Yousef "What are the leaders of Hamas like? What do they want?" Yousef at 6:01 of the video below can be seen stating

They are a religious movement. And this is what everybody is afraid to say. If Hamas were a political movement, then we can satisfy their political ambition But Hamas is a religious movement that does not believe in political borders. 

You know, they want to establish an Islamic state on the rubble of the state of Israel. They want to annihilate the Jewish people and the Jewish state. They want to kill everybody who supports Israel, then establish an Islamic state. But this is not the end because their ambition is global. They want to establish eventually an Islamic state, a global state. So this is what's on their mind.



 

The media needs a narrative to report a story which if told accurately and honestly, would be highly controversial. So Mosab Hassan Yousef must do what no others will do, reveal the ugly reality that this fight is not between Israel and the Palestinians but between Israel and Hamas, the latter composed of fundamentalist Muslims who "want to establish an Islamic state on the rubble of Israel." 


Monday, October 23, 2023

Especially on Gaza, Prescient



As long as Joe Walsh says he agrees with "every single word that Hillary Clinton spoke here," let's go the videotape to unveil her entire statement.


In a primary debate on April 14, 2016 in Brooklyn, New York, CNN's Wolf Blitzer asked Senator Bernard "Bernie" Sanders"

Senator, let’s talk about the U.S. relationship with Israel. Senator Sanders, you maintained that Israel’s response in Gaza in 2014 was, quote, “disproportionate and led to the unnecessary loss of innocent life.” What do you say to those who believe that Israel has a right to defend itself as it sees fit?"

Sanders agreed that Israel had a right to defend itself (bold!) but asserted that the Israeli attack was indeed "disproportionate."  The argument (with the applicable remark in italics and bold) continued

Blitzer: Thank you. Secretary Clinton, do you agree with Senator Sanders that Israel overreacts to Palestinians attacks, and that in order for there to be peace between Israel and the Palestinians, Israel must, quote, "end its disproportionate responses"?

Clinton: I negotiated the cease-fire between Israel and Hamas in November of 2012. I did it in concert with President Abbas of the Palestinian authority based in Ramallah, I did it with the then Muslim Brotherhood President, Morsi, based in Cairo, working closely with Prime Minister Netanyahu and the Israeli cabinet. I can tell you right now I have been there with Israeli officials going back more than 25 years that they do not seek this kind of attacks. They do not invite the rockets raining down on their towns and villages.

They do not believe that there should be a constant incitement by Hamas aided and abetted by Iran against Israel. And, so when it came time after they had taken the incoming rockets, taken the assaults and ambushes on their soldiers and they called and told me, I was in Cambodia, that they were getting ready to have to invade Gaza again because they couldn't find anybody to talk to tell them to stop it, I flew all night, I got there, I negotiated that.

So, I don't know how you run a country when you are under constant threat, terrorist attacks, rockets coming at you. You have a right to defend yourself.

That does not mean that you don't take appropriate precautions. And, I understand that there's always second-guessing anytime there is a war. It also does not mean that we should not continue to do everything we can to try to reach a two-state solution, which would give the Palestinians the rights and the autonomy that they deserve. And, let me say this, if Yasser Arafat had agreed with my husband at Camp David in the late 1990s to the offer then Prime Minister [Ehud] Barak put on the table, we would have had a Palestinian state for 15 years.

Blitzer: Thank you, go ahead, Senator.

Sanders: I don't think that anybody would suggest that Israel invites and welcomes missiles flying into their country. That is not the issue.

And, you evaded the answer. You evaded the question. The question is not does Israel have a right to respond, nor does Israel have a right to go after terrorists and destroy terrorism. That's not the debate. Was their response disproportionate?

I believe that it was, you have not answered that.

Clinton: I will certainly be willing to answer it. I think I did answer it by saying that of course there have to be precautions taken but even the most independent analyst will say the way that Hamas places its weapons, the way that it often has its fighters in civilian garb, it is terrible.

I'm not saying it's anything other than terrible. It would be great -- remember, Israel left Gaza. They took out all the Israelis. They turned the keys over to the Palestinian people.

And what happened? Hamas took over Gaza. So instead of having a thriving economy with the kind of opportunities that the children of the Palestinians deserve, we have a terrorist haven that is getting more and more rockets shipped in from Iran and elsewhere.

Later in the transaction, Sanders would note "There comes a time- there comes a time when if we pursue justice and peace, we are going to have to say that Netanyahu is not right all the time." Clinton had never suggested or implied that the Israeli prime minister was right all the time, but Sanders' words should reverberate when he recognize the role of Netanyahu's self-centered, possibly even corrupt, leadership, that helped enable Hamas to commit the massacre of 10/7/23 massacre.

The Vermont senator remarked also "all that I am saying we cannot continue to be one-sided. There are two sides to the issue." However, as recent events have demonstrated, there is only one side and, if anything, American foreign policy 

As recent issues have demonstrated, there are not the two sides- Israel and the Palestinians/Hamas- which Sanders thought there were. There are three sides- Israel, Hamas, and the Palestinians who are not part of the ruthless terrorist group ruling Gaza. Clinton obviously understood this when recommended the USA

continue to do everything we can to reach a two-state solution, which would give the Palestinians the rights and... the autonomy that they deserve. And let me say this,if Yasser Arafat had agreed with my husband at Camp David in the 1990s to the offer then-Prime Minister Barat (sic) put on the table, we would have had a Palestinian state for 15 years.

When "Israel left Gaza," the then-Secretary of State explained, "they took out all the Israelis. They turned the keys over to the Palestinian people" and now "we have a terrorist haven that is getting more and more rockets shipped in from Iran and elsewhere."

That's the current situation- laid out over seven years ago- in a nutshell. And prior to the Middle East, Clinton had been asked about the reliance upon the USA of funding for NATO and replied

.... we have to work out the financial aspects of it, but let’s not forget what’s really happening. With Russia being more aggressive, making all kinds of intimidating moves toward the Baltic countries, we’ve seen what they’ve done in Eastern Ukraine, we know how they want to rewrite the map of Europe, it is not in our interests. Think of how much it would cost if Russia’s aggression were not deterred because NATO was there on the front lines making it clear they could not move forward.

In the 2016 primary, I voted for Sanders over Clinton, for reasons completely unrelated to foreign policy. Moreover, Clinton never actually has claimed to be psychic. But she evidently understood, better than Senator Sanders and President Obama, the threat posed by Vladimir Putin's Russia. And on the matter of Palestinians, the terrorist subset known as Hamas, and of Israel, she told us in 2016 what was going on. It's not only unfortunate but dangerous that even now, so many people across the world cannot see, or refuse to see, what she saw then.



Saturday, October 21, 2023

Iran Nuclear Reality



The 10/13/2023 episode of Real Time with Bill Maher featured a smart discussion and some disagreement between two sharp fellows, Center for International Policy executive vice president Matt Duss and Center for Humane Technology cofounder and executive director MTristan Harris. On this one point, the tweeter and Harris are wrong and Duss is right (well, left really, but right):

In an article on the Foreign Policy website in May, postdoctoral research scholar Jane Darby Menton reminds us

Five years ago on Monday, then-U.S. President Donald Trump withdrew the United States from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), a 2015 multilateral agreement that imposed restrictions on Iran’s nuclear program. Although both the Trump and Biden administrations promised to find a better solution, the Iran nuclear crisis has only gotten worse. Economic pressure and external sabotage have not stopped Tehran from steadily increasing its uranium enrichment capabilities. Today, the regime is only weeks, if not days, away from the ability to produce enough fissile material for a nuclear weapon, should it choose to take that step.

Menton explained "the deal rolled back Iran's nuclear capabilities n two main ways," by "removing stockpiles of fissile material" and "by impeding future activities."  "Part of the JCPOA's strength," she notes, "came from Iran accepting limits that are harder to reverse," including "surrendering access to equipment and materials."

While praising "the comprehensiveness of the Iran deal's monitoring and verification program" Menton concedes "some of the JCPOA's limitations, including its failure to address Iran's other concerning behaviors at home and abroad."

However, because of withdrawal by the Trump Administration from the deal with Iran

In the past five years, the prospects of peacefully resolving the Iran nuclear crisis have gone from bad to worse. Tehran is once again on the precipice of breakout, and addressing proliferation concerns through diplomacy has only gotten harder. In addition to the technical hurdles, political conditions have deteriorated significantly. Trump’s withdrawal undermined confidence in the reliability of U.S. commitments. Engaging with Iran has only gotten more complicated since 2021, when the Hassan Rouhani government was replaced by the hard-line Ebrahim Raisi administration, which is more skeptical of diplomacy with the West. Meanwhile, consensus among the rest of the deal’s original signatories (the United States, the United Kingdom, France, China, Russia, Germany, and the European Union) has eroded, and Iran has deepened and diversified its ties with other autocracies, including Russia.

Whenever a Republican presidential candidate endorses Israel in its campaign against Hamas- or even if he is a little ambivalent- the Biden Administration's policy toward Iran must be condemned. Doing otherwise evidently is disqualifying, a little like GOP candidates in the past always promoting lower taxes or deregulation.

They are wrong. Of course, Iran has armed Hamas, probably helped train their militants/terrorists, and possibly knew of, or encouraged, the invasion of Israel. Further,  I dislike commending the Obama Administration- which negotiated the deal- because BHO is generally overrated and extraordinarily overrated among Democrats.  However, withdrawal took the shackles off Tehran, allowing them to proceed with their program of nuclear enrichment.

It made the world, especially the Middle East, less safe. Yet, it has been a political winner for Republicans, who are rarely if ever asked about the consequences of discouraging nuclear weapons development by Iran.

This is a fail by the media but especially by the Democratic Party. The latter has a choice of strategy: 1) defend and celebrate the deal; or 2) turn the tables on the GOP by asserting that Iran has been emboldened by the Trump Administration's withdrawal and the world made much more dangerous.

Voters already are grumpy, negative about wars abroad, inflation, an increasingly dangerous world, high interest rates, transsexual students playing in women's sports,  Trump, Biden, Trump and Biden.  You may recall that many pundits believed (and I thought plausible) that the relatively sunny Tim Scott would emerge as Trump's chief rival for the nomination. Instead, his campaign has nearly burst into flames.

Most probably buy the GOP slander that the $6 billion of unfrozen by the Biden Administration is taxpayer money, rather than Iranian money unfrozen by the Biden Administration and held in a bank in Qatar to be distributed for human purposes. And so, the way to a voter's heart on Iran  is not to be positive and boastful, but to warn about the possibility of nuclear war if Republicans have their way.

It's impossible to determine now what the major issues will be in twelve months. However, Democrats need to be ready to strike back at the GOP and if foreign affairs is a factor in the next election cycle, Iran will be on the lips and in the social media platforms of Republicans.



Thursday, October 19, 2023

Say Her Name



You're halfway there, Senator.

He's halfway there, and a former Republican (still fairly conservative), anti-Trump and anti-Republican Party ex-congressman knows where he should go and why.



It may happen. There were very few Democrats who uttered the term "defund the police," which literally means "end all funding of all police." (That may not be what was meant but is the literal definition of the phrase.)  And there were only two prominent Democrats- U.S. Representatives Cori Bush and Rashida Tlaib- who advocated actual defunding of the police. Yet, Republicans and media conservatives hanged the tag like an albatross around the neck of Democrats. defunding the police.

And now they are the most virulent of opponents in Congress of the State of Israel. Approximately 24 hours after the slaughter of Israelis by Hamas began, Missouri's Bush stated "As part of achieving a  just and lasting peace, we must do our part to stop this violence and trauma by ending Us government support for Israeli military occupation and apartheid." This would be awful policy to enunciate at any time. Spoken as it was, it was tasteless, vile, and awful.

Tlaib has not limited herself to reprehensible words. The day after the invasion, she called for ceasing aid to Israel and proposed :lifting the blockade, ending the occupation, and dismantling the apartheid system that creates the suffocating, dehumanizing conditions that can lead to resistance." She claimed to " grieve the Palestinian and Israeli lives lost yesterday, today, and every day," somehow without mentioning anything about an invasion, terrorism, or Hamas. Her sincerity was as empty as a Donald Trump promise.

Now, she has taken her bigotry and narrow-mindedness a step further.  On Wednesday, she reacted hysterically to the war initiated by the the Gazan butchers, just as ordinary Americans react hysterically in moments of extreme irrationality.




In response, hundreds of demonstrators organized by the anti-Semitic, anti-Israel Jewish Voice for Peace entered (as they are legally entitled to do) the Capitol, then broke the law by chanting slogans of opposition to Israel. Once some sat down, peaceful arrests ensued.

Thus, despite howls of bitterness from conservatives on Twitter, this bore little resemblance to the events of January 6, 2021. The former were not filled with violent rage, intent on trashing the building,, killing the Republican Vice President or Democratic Speaker of the House, attacking anyone in their way including law enforcement officers, and creating general mayhem.

Nonetheless, they stormed and (temporarily) protested in a building in violation of federal law, and did so upon invitation of a member of the body which meets there. 

This is a member whose actions have followed words, both on Wednesday and in the past, which are offensive and contrary to fact and reason.  Additionally, as Joe Walsh points out, they encourage Republicans to tag Democrats with the charge that they are anti-Semitic and/or pander to the most ridiculous members of their coalition.

The backlash may come soon or, as with backlash against the perception that Democrats were pushing "defund the police," at a later date- perhaps 10-12 months from now, in time for the elections of November, 2024,

There are many Democrats who proclaimed- or at least proclaimed in the first few days after the war began- their support for Israel in bland and uncontroversial fashion. There are few, such as John Fetterman, who are willing to defend Israel when it is being unfairly criticized by not only Tlaib, but by others whose opposition to Israel is couched in much more diplomatic language.

There are even fewer who are not intimidated by their Democratic colleagues who view the ongoing Middle East crisis as a conflict between the the always evil Israelis, and the others, whose actions and interests are perceived as always benign. In the internal politics of his Party, bluntly asserting "the tragedy at the Gaza hospital was not caused by Israel," is, disturbingly bold and uncommon. 

Fetterman was the first Senate Democrat to call for the resignation of New Jersey senator Bob Menendez. If he were publicly to criticize- not call for the resignation or even censoring (let's not be greedy or unrealistic)- of Rashida Tlaib, he would be serving two purposes. He'd be adding to a reputation of someone willing to call out fellow politicians while forcefully supporting Israel and helping establish the Democratic Party where it once was, and should be- as an opponent of ethnic bigotry.



Tuesday, October 17, 2023

Distinction Without a Difference



British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) News has apologised after one of its presenters, Maryam Moshiri, described people taking part in marches in support of Palestine as backing Hamas.

Thousands of people marched in solidarity with Palestine on Saturday, demanding an end to Israel's relentless bombing of the besieged Gaza Strip, which has so far killed at least 2,750 Palestinians, including over 1,000 children.

Moshiri said on X, formerly known as Twitter: "Earlier we reported on some of the pro-Palestinian demonstrations at the weekend.

"We spoke about ‘several demonstrations across Britain during which people voiced their backing for Hamas.

"We accept this was poorly phrased and was a misleading description of the demonstrations."




This was apparently not enough for (apologies for a journalist and MSNBC host (alas, contradictory roles)


To argue that many of the protestors were not voicing their support for Hamas would be to suggest that they are extraordinarily stupid. They had been warned that to express overt support for the terrorist group would be to subject themselves to arrest. Thus, and rationally, they instead virulently protested Israel and enthusiastically promoted "Palestinians.

But as is fully understood by anyone paying attention- any attention whatsoever- to what is happening in the Middle East, the war to which the marchers were responding is not taking place between Israel and Palestine or between Israel and the Palestinian people.

It is between Israel and Hamas. Period (or .).  Support for the group outlawed in Great Britain was replaced, wisely, with chants about Israel and the Palestinians, as if all Palestinians were alike or this conflict pitted the Palestinian Authority against Israel. No one believes it does, not even Hasan.

Moreover, the problem between the PA and Israel has been existed for decades. These protests broke out only after the war began, quite clearly demonstrating that the passion felt by the demonstrators for the Palestinians of the occupied territories is exceeded by their enthusiasm for Israel's current enemy, Hamas.

The irony in this instance is twofold, however.  One is that Richard Kimble is innocent, which I typically note when the matter of irony appears. The other is that Mehdi Hasan (and two other colleagues at MSNBC) should recognize more than others that a reporter indirectly suggesting support for one side against the other should not be fired, penalized, or in any way demeaned by his employer.

Speculation abounds that MSNBC has sidelined- as hosts- Hasan, Ayman Mohyeldin, and Ali Velshi, who in the past ten days have expressed anti-Israel sentiment from their anchor chairs. (Each also is a Muslim, which is irrelevant because the likelihood that corporate behemoth MSNBC/NBC/Comcast would discriminate against a Muslim runs between 0% and 1%, with 1% heading out-of-town.) MSNBC denies this because if its viewership gets wind of it being pro-Israel, there would be a severe backlash among its followers.

But if the cable news network does believe one or more of its show hosts is unacceptably pro-Palestinian, pro-Hamas, or anti-Israel, there is a much better way to handle it, albeit one antithetical to its journalistic culture. These guys could interview someone with a starkly different perspective on the war, and engage him or her with a series of challenging questions. This would be entertaining, and probably, informative television, which appears to be something the network wishes to avoid.

Nonetheless, here is Mehdi Hasan figuratively slapped down for presenting a different perspective on the war. Or (less likely) he has not been downgraded, in which case he can appreciate that the network he works for is maintaining an open mind. Yet, Hasan believes the BBC should apology a full-throated, more assertive apology for what he (naively) believes is a prejudicial tilt against the anti-Israel protestors.  Self-awareness is not his strong point. (Neither is modesty.)

As an American, I believe open expression of support for Hamas should be permitted. But in view of Alliteration Tuesday, it should be understood that this terrorist force should be destroyed, demolished, and decapitated.



Monday, October 16, 2023

Take Them (Politically) Out


This university associate professor obviously is reprehensible. .


Nonetheless, having at a major university one or more instructors who believe the West, and the values of the West, are responsible for all the past and present ills of the world, is not unusual.  With a long-held animus toward whites, Rickford once boasted that he has chosen "to link anti-racism with anti-colonialism, anti-imperialism, and anti-militarism," because for some academics, there is nothing that cannot be attributed to an ill-defined "white supremacy."

So we cannot be surprised about the rabid anti-Semitism of some college professors. Moreover, students can choose not to take one of Mr. Rickford's classes, and he represents no one besides himself and, arguably, other bigots in his profession.

The same cannot be said about the members of the United States House of Representatives who 

called for an end Monday to the nine-day-old war in Israel with a resolution that referred to the Oct. 7 Hamas terror attack as “armed violence” and made no mention of American hostages held in the Gaza Strip.

The “Ceasefire Now Resolution,” — introduced by Reps. Cori Bush of Missouri, Rashida Tlaib of Michigan, Andre Carson of Indiana, Summer Lee of Pennsylvania and Delia Ramirez of Illinois — demands that the Biden administration “immediately call for and facilitate deescalation [sic] and a cease-fire to urgently end the current violence” and “promptly send and facilitate the entry of humanitarian assistance into Gaza.”

Aside from not condemning Hamas for the mass murder of innocents nor for the Israelis and Americans they stole, the signers neglected to recommend Hamas not use Palestinian Gazans as human shields or block civilians from migrating to safety, as Tel Aviv has urged Gazans.  They could have called for Egypt to open the pass which would allow Palestinians, whom the group claims to care about, to escape to safety. But then, as such individuals consistently imply, full responsibility for mistreatment of Palestinians lies with Israel while the Muslim (Arab or Persian) nations of the region stand idly by.

The timing of the resolution is curious- or rather, not curious at all. It was introduced on Monday, October 16, fully nine days after Hamas launched its War of Massacre. Though Hamas has gotten in its licks by killing any Israeli it could, Tel Aviv has not begun its widely-expected invasion of Gaza in the effort to rescue stolen human beings and destroy a genocidal terrorist group. So now, of course, hoping to turn the global community against Israel and stymie its effort to crush a governing and military organization bent on destroying it, a clique in the House of Representatives issues its call for a cease-fire. They're among US Representatives who rightly decry the insurrection of 1/6/21 as an attack on democracy while hostile to the one democracy in the Middle East.

Say their name(s): ringleaders Cori Bush of Missouri; Rashida Tlaib of Michigan; Andre Carson of Indiana; Summer Lee of Pennsylvania; Delia Ramirez of Illinois; the others, Ilhan Omar of Minnesota; Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts;  Bonnie Watson Coleman of New Jersey; Jesus Garcia and Jonathan Jackson of Illinois; Jamaal Bowman, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Nydia Velaquez of New York.

Sadly, that group includes Democrats- and only Democrats. Associate professor Russell Rickford probably has tenure and thus cannot be cancelled- fired- and that may be a good thing. But the five Democrats who initiated the resolution and the eight additional ones who signed on to it can be cancelled. They should be challenged in a primary- and not be financially supported by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee- after supporting a one-sided proposal inimical to the interests of Israel, the USA, and to justice.

If they are not challenged in a primary or if they are supported by the party apparatus, a very clear message about the Democratic Party will be sent.  It would not be a pretty one.



Saturday, October 14, 2023

Marketer for the GOP


The operative term is "shill."

Who's going to tell him?



On the heels of the Republican Party's second loss to Barack Obama, the GOP conducted an "autopsy," resulting in a 100-page report called the Growth and Opportunity Project, which was comprised of

an extensive plan the RNC believes will lead the party to victory with an extensive outreach to women, African-American, Asian, Hispanic and gay voters. Among the plans: hiring paid outreach staffers across the country in a $10 million push that begins right away; backing "comprehensive immigration reform"; abbreviating the presidential primary process with fewer debates, specifically saying the party would like at least half the 20 there were during the 2012 cycle; and moving the convention to June or July, as well as improving the data and digital effort.

Because it was an official plan of the Republican Party, Sean Hannity was all in. Slamming the project a decade later, the Commentary Editor of the conservative Washington Examiner wrote

That document did actually have useful things to say about modernizing how Republicans used data, but in its one foray into policy, the document recommended, “We must embrace and champion comprehensive immigration reform.”

Many Republicans took this advice to heart, including 14 Republican senators who voted with Democrats to give amnesty to over 10 million illegal immigrants. Fox News host Sean Hannity and former House Speaker John Boehner jumped on the amnesty bandwagon as well.

Less than three years after the autopsy which urged the GOP to open its door to voting blocs cool to the party and to enact comprehensive immigration reform, reality television actor Donald J. Trump rode down an escalator and announced his presidential candidacy while infamously declaring

When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. They’re not sending you. They’re not sending you. They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.

So much for that autopsy. A harbinger of his party's turn to the left on the cultural front, Hannity had begun to alter his anti-immigration stance days after the 2012 election. Yet by March of 2018 he was falsely claiming that Donald Trump supported the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.

During the 2020 presidential campaign

"The media has accused me of going soft in interviews on Republicans," the Fox News host said on his radio show last month. "I plead guilty. I absolutely plead guilty. You know why? Because I want one of them to win."

The admission came after Hannity spent weeks being accused of shilling for Donald Trump. In a rare moment of media bipartisanship, the liberal site ThinkProgress called his show a serialized Trump infomercial, and the conservative site RedState endorsed that characterization. Even Sen. Ted Cruz had accused Hannity of asking pro-Trump questions.

Hannity still is on the Trump train. That will continue as long as the ex-President is on a glide path to the GOP nomination in 2024. But if someone else soars at Trump's expense, the Fox anchor will pivot away from the ex-President. When he accuses Vivek Ramaswamny of not being qualified to be President because he lacks experience in public office, it seems to be an exquisite example of lack of self-awareness. However, Sean Hannity's only principle is expedience, the ideal job qualification to be a shill for a political party itself lacking a legitimate moral code.

 

Friday, October 13, 2023

She Meant "Non-Jewish Lives Matter"



In a statement on Instagram on Saturday, October 7, U.S. Representative Rashida Tlaib, a Democrat from Michigan and charter member of the "Squad" remarked

I grieve the Palestinian and Israeli lives lost yesterday, today, and every day. I am determined as ever to fight for a just future where everyone can live in peace, without fear and with true freedom, equal rights, and human dignity.

The path to that future must include lifting the blockade, ending the occupation, and dismantling the apartheid system that creates the suffocating, dehumanizing conditions that can lead to resistance.

The failure to recognize the violent reality of living under siege, occupation, and apartheid makes no one safer. No person, no child anywhere should have to suffer or live in fear of violence. We cannot ignore the humanity in each other.

As long as our country provides billions in unconditional funding to support the apartheid government, this heartbreaking cycle of violence will continue.

 

Joe Walsh is right on both counts.


The House Minority Whip is right, also- up to a point.

Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) put his support behind Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) on Wednesday amid criticism over her flying a Palestinian flag outside her Capitol Hill office and a statement she made about the war.

Criticism has mounted against Tlaib after the Palestinian militant group Hamas attacked Israel on Saturday, starting a war that has killed more than 2,000 people on both sides. Tlaib is of Palestinian heritage.

“She’s Palestinian. It doesn’t mean she’s a terrorist. It doesn’t mean that she condones this,” Hoyer told a Fox News reporter in the Capitol. “I fly a Danish flag at my house.”


 

According to The New Republic, Tlaib has been displaying the flag since January, an understandable choice given her ethnic background. However, the defense by Hoyer, who is Danish-American on his father's side, of Tlaib included his statement "she condemned terrorist attacks."

That's objectively inaccurate but off-point. Blaming Israel for the war of terrorism launched by Hamas, as Tlaib clearly and brazenly did, is utterly reprehensible.  However, the congresswoman's response was less reprehensible than pathetic when she was confronted by Fox News correspondent Hillary (Hillary- on Fox News; really?) Vaughn and a cameraman. They

followed Tlaib and her staff as they walked through a hallway.

“Congresswoman, Hamas terrorists have cut off babies’ heads and burned children alive. Do you support Israel’s rights to defend themselves against this brutality?” questioned Vaughn as Tlaib ignored the reporter.

After one of Tlaib’s staffers said, “Excuse us. We’re just gonna go through here,” Vaughn repeatedly asked:

You can’t comment about Hamas terrorists chopping off babies’ heads? Congresswoman, do you have a comment on Hamas terrorists chopping off babies’ heads? You have nothing to say about Hamas terrorists chopping off babies’ heads? Do you condone what Hamas has done chopping off babies’ heads, burning children alive, raping women in the streets? You have no comment about children’s heads being chopped off?

As Tlaib and her staff entered an elevator, Vaughn continued, “Congresswoman, why do you have the Palestinian flag outside your office if you do not condone what Hamas terrorists have done to Israel? Do Israeli lives not matter to you?”

Served a hanging curve at the end, Tlaib could have replied "I hung the Palestinian flag outside my office some time ago because I am Palestinian as well as an American." She might have added something such as "I'm opposed to all terrorism." Neither would have been particularly controversial. Neither would have conflicted with her pro-Palestinian views, nor in itself would have suggested anti-Semitic or even anti-Israel sentiment. It would have gotten her off the hook, at least for this confrontation with Fox, which instead brought her significant criticism.

Alternatively, when  Representative Tlaib was asked "do Israeli lives not matter to you," she could have responded "All lives matter."  It is completely valid and should be difficult to argue with.

On second thought, according to the gospel of roughly 40 months ago, that comment is insensitive, racist, and smacks of white privilege. 

 

One of Our Own, Or So He Says

So do your thing ,Charles! Stephen A. Smith on Fox News on Wednesday night commented I got to tell you something. As much as people may ha...