Thursday, April 18, 2024

Overwrought Reaction

Take the "L" and just move on.

 162 Democrats joining Republicans to attack free speech and condemn a phrase that advocates one thing—freedom—is what voters mean when they say Democrats aren't working for us.

After twenty-nine invocations of "whereas,"  the House of Representatives resolved that

the slogan, "from the river to the sea, Palestine will be free," is outrightl (sic) Anti-Semitic and must be strongly condemned; this slogan is divisive and does a disservice to Israelis, Palestinians, and all those in the region who see peace; this slogan rejects calls for peace, stability, and safety in the region; this slogan perpetuates hatred against the State of Israel and the Jewish people, and anyone who calls for the eradication of Israel and the Jewish people are Anti-Semitic and must always be condemned.

The phrase is "From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free" is not a call for a pluralistic society. The Palestine national movement aims for a Palestinian state, not for intermingling of races, nationalities, or for individuals of varied religious faith. It is a fairly explicit call for the land of Palestine to be strictly for those supporters consider Palestinian, for a land which is judenfrei. It is clearly anti-Jewish or, in the words of the House of Representatives, anti-Semitic.


Words have meaning. In asserting that the phrase "from the river to the sea, Palestine will be free" must always be condemned, the House is not demanding that any individual must be stopped from using the slogan nor punished for doing so. It is not an abridgement of "free speech." The resolution is inconsistent with the cause of free expression but the First Amendment is silent on the issue of "free expression," mandating only free speech. If freedom of expression were constitutionally protected, a lot of public colleges and universities would be in more hot water than they are.

Fortunately, the use of the noxious- albeit clever and rhythmic- phrase cannot be prohibited or penalized with this resolution. The legislative action is non-binding. It is tantamount to an expression of support for Israel as a Jewish state against those who would like to see it eradicated. .There are bigger fish to fry for the radical left, including attacks on colleges and universities in the name of combatting anti-Semitism.

Merely symbolic and virtually meaningless, it is at worse, it is virtue-signaling; at best, it is virtue-signaling. Yet, Justice Democrats choose to blow smoke up the rear end of the public and claim the phrase merely calls for "freedom" which, ironically is in greater abundance for Palestinian residents of dreaded Israel than for Palestinians virtually anywhere else in the Middle East. The organization should have given the House resolution only the attention- none- it deserves, suck it up, and reserve their dishonesty and hatred for something substantial.

Monday, April 15, 2024

The Simpson Verdict Was a Manifestation of Inequity

On Friday's Real Time with Bill Maher, the conversation eventually was steered (abruptly) to the death of Orenthal J. Simpson. The host made a few remarks, a couple of them dangerously misleading, reflecting conventional wisdom..

Bill Maher remarks (at 41:30 of the video, if it were still available) 

I think what it was, I think black folks knew very well that he did it and I don't blame them one bit for cheering him on. I mean, when you're on the wrong end of the justice system- first of all, as they have been, when they finally got one, even though he was not exactly the best recipient of that.

For what it's worth, poll(s) at the time indicated that most blacks believed Simpson was innocent. Through the years, more blacks (as most whites) came to realize that the Hall of Famer was guilty as charged. More whites did so, also, though both at the time of the trial and years later, more whites than blacks believed Simpson committed the two murders.

The unchallenged belief that blacks "got one" is inaccurate. And Maher was correct that Simpson was not "the best recipient" of the mercy extended, not only because he was guilty but also because he strove to represent himself as not black. "I'm not black, I'm O.J." he would famously assert.

Maher continued

I mean, of course, when we saw that split screen of white people going (mock horror expressed) "oh, my God, oh my God, justice has not been done" and black people screaming in joy- totally understandable. You can't have two completely different histories in American and then expect people to have same reaction to that.

Understandable, yes, the way it's understandable that (some) individuals devoted to Donald Trump believe that the insurrection/riot of 1/6/21 was an inside job, a set-up by the FBI to entrap patriotic Americans so they could be tossed into jail.  By all indications, the protesters acted on their own, resisted by law enforcement officers who were overwhelmed by the numbers and anger of the crowd.

Similarly, the evidence against Simpson was so overwhelming that rational dissenters could have realized they were exposing themselves as ignorant by expressing their joyful exuberance at the verdict. Instead, this should go down (but won't) as the beginning of the "all exuberant emotion is good, especially if it will be filmed" movement in society.

Conceding that the defendant was in fact culpable, Maher added "It was a miscarriage of justice but for white people to be that upset about the one time, the one time a black guy gets off, I thought that was the gross part about it."  Asked by guest panelist Gillian Tett whether "it's different now," Maher said

it is different now. Everything is different now. There's a whole complete different generation that never experienced the kind of racism that the people alive in 1994 who were born in whatever, 1964, 1954, anything like that, they did experience. So would there still be a lot of that reaction? Of course, for understandable reasons.

A moment later, he clarified 

It was payback and on a very larger scale, that's happening in America and will happen for decades to come because the legacy of our despicable racial past doesn't go away in a generation. It takes a very long time. Even people today, younger people, maybe they didn't have anything terrible to happen to them but they're like "yeah, but I know what you did to my grandfather and that was some s_ _ _ and I love him so I'm mad for him. That's not going to go away in my lifetime or yours.

The "understandable reason(s)" that there still would be "a lot of" blacks who now would celebrate a similar outcome in a similar case is perception, not reality. The perception- in the media and among the power elite- seems to be that the common "miscarriage of justice" in the USA is predominantly racial in nature. Maher cites the "two different histories in America" as explaining the discrepancy in reaction of whites and reaction of blacks to the not guilty verdict.

The two different histories extend to treatment by the criminal justice system (and policing, which came into play in the trial, courtesy of the infamous Mark Furman). It was "the one time a black guy gets (got off" because black guys, even less than white guys, have enough money to get off.  The discrepancy in history was not, ultimately, the reason Mr. Simpson was not convicted.

The defendant's "dream team" of attorneys included eleven lawyers, four of them prominent- F. Lee Bailey, Johnnie Cochran, Robert Kardashian, and Alan Dershowitz. No one- even a white, Christian, land-owning male- is able to hire so much talent without being very, very wealthy. A typical defendant cannot afford to hire even one private attorney and if he is able, she probably is someone not at the top of the legal heap. Although no one who would know for sure is talking, estimates are that Mr. Simpson's defense cost approximately five million dollars.

That is the numeral "5" followed by 7 digits. Without deep pockets- earned by being a phenomenal professional football player, effective celebrity pitchman, and mediocre actor- Simpson would not have been able to sniff an effective defense. And he did so while being black because- in the world of criminal justice as in most of society- black or white is far less important than green.

Thus, it's not only Bill Maher who is mistaken. A professor of Afro-American Studies was quoted by The Washington Post soon after Simpson's death maintaining that racial divisions persist "because we haven't repaired the social fabric in a way that we like to pretend we have because we fall back on race and racism at the drop of a hat or a drop of the glove in this case."

Nonetheless, that's not the only reason racial divisions persist. We also fall back on race and racism because we fail to acknowledge the impact of other, more important factors in some matters.  The jury, including eight blacks and only one white,  did (as Maher noted) believe that the acquittal of OJS constituted a rare victory for a black man in a system beset by racial prejudice. However, the verdict was less an aberration or correction than it was reinforcement of the most significant feature of the criminal justice system;  not white makes right, but money can buy most defendants out of most of the trouble they face. 

The vast majority of whites, and an even greater percentage of blacks, are not wealthy enough to put on an effective defense. And so while we can join Bill Maher in debating whether racism will prevent blacks from getting a fair shake in the future, most will not because they lack the financial resources to put on a fight. Marc Watts, who covered the trial for CNN and is now with the African American Leadership Forum, has stated "many African Americans believed that O.J. Simpson was the revenge verdict. It was the one black people had won in response to some of the ones black people had lost."

No, sorry; black people, few of them in the same universe as Simpson financially, lost rather than the almost universal view that they won one. The video (from seven years ago) below, portrays the trial, as has been typical, as being about race. There is a lesson, as Bill Maher might put it (if he understood), of "happening in America and will happen for decades to come." However, the lesson is less about the importance of race than of the importance of class. 


Saturday, April 13, 2024

Shedding Tears Over the Death of Orenthal James Simpson

Orenthal James Simpson has died, and he leaves behind an impressive, in a manner of speaking, record of misbehavior.

In 1964, Simpson as a juvenile had his first run-in with the law. In 1989, he was arrested after wife Nicole Brown Simpson, who went to the hospital with severe bruising and cuts, told the police "he's going to kill me, he's going to kill me." Orenthal pled guilty to spousal abuse and was fined and placed on probation.

The year after Orenthal and his wife divorced in 1992, Mr. Simpson broke into the rental home occupied by Nicole and the (ex-) couple's two children. Nicole called the police and reported "he always comes back."

In June of 1994 Mr. Simpson stabbed to death Mrs. Simpson and an acquaintance, Ron Goldman, who was in the wrong place at the wrong time. Orenthal immediately fled to Chicago, then promptly returned to Los Angeles, dumping somewhere along the line the knife he used. Simpson failed to appear after the L.A. Police Department, through the suspect's attorney, offered Orenthal a chance to surrender. Simpson was arrested after the famous "white Ford Bronco" chase.

Simpson in October, 1995 was acquitted, as is almost universally believed, because a majority of the jury was black. However, in February of 1997 a civil court jury found him liable for the murder of Goldman and responsible for beating Nicole on the night of the murders.

Over the next dozen years, Simpson is accused of a burglary and theft at a girlfriend's house, with no charges filed; acquitted of a felony; had his home searched by federal law enforcement in response to a drug-smuggling scheme; lost a civil suit filed by DirecTV over signal stealing' and arrested after he broke into a Las Vegas hotel room to steal memorabilia which he later claimed was his own  property. For that he was ound guilty of weapons, robbery and kidnapping, sentenced to thirty-three years in prison and granted parole in 2017.

So what in the Almighty was this all about?


So I'll say this.  Our thoughts are with his families during this difficult time, obviously with his families and loved ones. And I'll say this- I know they have asked for some privacy and we're going to respect that. I'll just leave it there.

There is little doubt that the abomination known as Jean-Pierre wanted to "leave it" at sympathy for the Simpson family, which had issued a tweet which included "his family asks that you please respect their wishes for privacy and grace."  By contrast, the father and the sister of Ron Goldman, in neither their statement to NBC News nor a subsequent statement sent to reporters, asked the public for privacy or anything else.

(As any believing Christian will tell you, "grace" is "unmerited favor." Why the Simpson family would suggest that the favor of privacy is unmerited is curious.)

This incident bears a similarity to the occurrence in 2024 of International Day of Transgender Awareness on the same day as Easter Sunday. The President could have merely signed a standard proclamation recognizing transgender day, but he went much further. He attacked "extremists" for "proposing hundreds of hateful laws that target and terrify transgender kids and their families" while decrying "the bullying and discrimination that transgender Americans face." Biden blamed these unnamed individuals for "worsening our Nation's mental health crisis," described the Administration's efforts on behalf of the transgender community, and pledged "my entire Administration and I have your back."

All on Easter Sunday, which the President later realized he had to acknowledge, thus issuing an anodyne statement of recognition. 

As of this writing, the Administration still has not noted the murders of two innocent people, Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman. Those murderers were, beyond of a shadow of doubt, committed by Orenthal James Simpson. As longtime sportscaster Bob Costas, a friend of Simpson until the latter slashed two people to death, put it

If I could give him the benefit of any doubt, I would. And I'm sorry I have to say this on the day that he passed away, but someone asked me once "do you think O.J. did it"? I said "yes." They said "why"? I said "because I live on this planet."

Joe Biden and Karine-Jean Pierre live on this planet, as do the Republicans, who criticize the President for a weak economy which is very strong, declining oil production which has risen to record levels, and  the rising crime in cities which is not occurring. Of course, expressing sensitivity for the death of a convicted felon rather than to the families of two individuals he earlier murdered is not in their wheelhouse.

But that doesn't absolve the President of responsibility for considering Transgender Visibility Day more important than Easter, nor for being more concerned about the death from chronic disease of an elderly criminal than for his victims.  Something is askew in the values at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, and at some point someone will notice. 

Thursday, April 11, 2024

Blind Obedience

Some day, somewhere a reporter or news host will ask Representative Mike Lawler of New York why he is so fond of Benjamin Netanyahu.

In his speech in the House chamber on March 14, Majority Leader Schumer

-called on "the Israelis, the Biden Administration, the Qataris, the Egyptians, and anybody else at the (negotiating) table" to "continue doing everything possible to get to a deal" which would include freeing every hostage;

-encouraged the USA to "provide robust humanitarian aid to Gaza and pressure the Israelis to let more of it get through to the people who need it;"

-urged the Israeli government to "prioritize the protection of civilian casualties when identifying military targets;"

-noted "Hamas has heartlessly hidden behind their fellow Palestinians by turning hospitals into command centers and refugee camps into missile-launching sites" whose "soldiers use innocent Gazans as human shields"- and berated "most media outlets covering this war and many protesters opposing it" for placing "the blame for civilian casualties entirely on Israel;"

-recommended "a negotiated two-state solution- a demilitarized Palestinian state living side-by-side with Israel in equal measures of peace, security, prosperity ,dignity and mutual recognition;"

-criticized as "a fatal impediment to progress" those Palestinians who "don't acknowledge how their insistence on an unequivocal 'right of return' is a fatal impediment to progress;"

-lamented that "many people, especially on the left, seem to acknowledge and even celebrate this right to statehood for every group but the Jews;"

- recognized that "Israel moving closer to a single state entirely under its control would further rupture its relationship with the rest of the world, including the United States;"

-noted that the "four major obstacles to peace" are "Hamas and the Palestinians who support and tolerate their evil ways; radical right-wing Israelis in government and society; Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas; Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu;

-urged "all sides" to "reject from the river to the sea thinking;"

-suggested "there is enough strength in the Arab world to get President Abbas to step down and to support a gradual succession plan for responsible Palestinian leaders to take his place;"

-advocated "normalization with Israel" by "Saudi Arabia and other Arab nations" as "the foundation of a grand bargain in the Middle East that will finally make meaningful Palestinian statehood a reality;"

-proposed that the USA "demand that Israel conduct itself with a future two-state solution in mind;"

-asserted that "holding a new election once the war starts to wind down would give Israelis an opportunity to express their vision for the post-war future"- but that the USA should not try "to dictate the outcome."

It's a long list- but that's the point. All you hear from Republicans such as Lawler is that Chuck Schumer wants the Israelis to interfere with the affairs of another nation and remove Benjamin Netanyahu. To some, recommending that Israel have another election- after the war starts to wind down- is to overthrow a legitimate leader and 1/6/21 was a mere riot. And what you hear from the media when Republicans simply and trivialize this speech in this manner is.... nothing. No correction or even a follow-up question.

The speech of Majority Leader Schumer was not anti-Israel, as Mike Lawler and some other Republicans have portrayed it.  The government of Benjamin Netanyahu facilitated the funding of Hamas by Qatari for several years. it obtained more than a year before 10/7/23 what The New York Times terms a "blueprint" which was followed "with shocking precision."  Last July, Israel's signal intelligence agency "warned that Hamas had conducted an intense, daylong training exercise that appeared similar to what was outlined in the blueprint."

That warning was rejected by the military as Qatar continued to prop up the government in Gaza. However, Netanyahu was obsessed with hatred of the Palestinian Authority and the possibility of creation of a Palestinian state.

It's not clear that the likes of Lawler and Donald Trump are particularly fond of Israel. But Benjamin Netanyahu is indicted for fraud, breach of trust, and accepting bribes in three separate instances. And he has been trying to limit the power and oversight of the judiciary in order to centralize power in the office of Prime Minister. And he laid the groundwork for the worst terrorist attack in Israel's history.  

The Senate Majority Leader had the temerity to suggest that the Israeli voters have a chance- sometime in the near future- to render their judgement on their Prime Minister. However, many Republicans are fiercely loyal to Netanyahu, who undoubtedly reminds them of their own party's beloved leader.  That may not fully explain the fondness toward the Israeli Prime Minister but it certainly seems to be a worthy point of inquiry.


Tuesday, April 09, 2024

No Joke

Following the the weekend fundraiser for Donald Trump in Palm Beach, Florida, New York Jets owner and multi-billionaire Woody Johnson honed his skills at stand-up. Appearing on Jesse Waters' Fox News show, Johnson remarked

It will be a safer, better pace. There will be less crime. He's extremely compassionate. People don't know that. He's extremely funny. I think people are starting to appreciate his sense of humor. And, uh, he just impressed all of us once again. I think that the overwhelming thought was, yea,  this is just the beginning for us. Everybody in that room was ready to step up hard.

And they allegedly did step up hard, to a reported tune of over fifty million dollars donated by a group justifiably confident that a President Trump would cut its taxes substantially.

A President has virtually nothing to do with crime, though if Trump unleashes local and state police as he promises, crime may drop a little in the short run and increase considerably in the long run, as a view of police as the enemy of the neighborhood is reinforced.

Johnson may not have recognized the irony of his his claim that the 45th President is "extremely compassionate." Evidently oozing compassion is the President who willfully separated children of immigrants from their parents; referred to deceased American veterans as "losers" and tortured prisoners of wars "suckers;" significantly curbed access to food stamps for hungry Americans; implemented policies which eliminated health insurance for hundreds of thousands of children; and told police "when you see these thugs being thrown into the back of a paddy wagon, just just seen them thrown in, rough. I said 'Please don't be too nice. When you see these thugs being thrown into the back of a paddy wagon, you just seen them thrown in, rough. I said, ‘Please don’t be too nice." And who could forget this demonstration of compassion for handicapped individuals?

If Donald Trump were compassionate, he wouldn't now be the GOP's presumptive presidential nominee, would not have become President, and would not even have been his party's nominee in 2016. The lack of compassion is his brand- he alone will figuratively bash in the heads of liberals and, as the 1/6/21 insurrection displayed, perhaps physically. I am your retribution.

Nonetheless, Woody Johnson's portrayal of Trump as compassionate crime-fighter, soft but tough, was not his most dangerous assertion. Worse, if voters are to buy the act, is his assessment of Trump as "extremely funny. I think people are starting to appreciate his sense of humor." Let us not forget one of the most telling of Trump's comments when in a rare burst of honesty on June 23, 2020 the President

insisted he was serious when he revealed that he had directed his administration to slow coronavirus testing in the United States, shattering the defenses of senior White House aides who argued Trump’s remarks were made in jest.

“I don’t kid. Let me just tell you. Let me make it clear,” Trump told reporters, when pressed on whether his comments at a campaign event Saturday in Tulsa, Okla., were intended as a joke.

“We have got the greatest testing program anywhere in the world. We test better than anybody in the world. Our tests are the best in the world, and we have the most of them. By having more tests, we find more cases,” he continued.

Administration officials as high ranking as Vice President Mike Pence have scrambled in recent days to clean up Trump’s statements from his weekend rally, where he reprised his dubious logic regarding testing rates before an arena of supporters.

“When you do testing to that extent, you’re going to find more people,” Trump said during the rally. “You’re going to find more cases. So I said to my people, ‘Slow the testing down, please.’”

I don't kid. Die-hard Trump voters know that; it's one of the reasons they're not Haley or Pence or Tim Scott or Doug Burgum voters. They're confident he says what he will do and will do what he says. He's authentically loud, mean- and serious. 

When Donald Trump says he'll be a dictator on Day One. Steve Bannon asserts "this is just not rhetoric. We're absolutely dead serious." Kash Patel, undoubtedly on Trump's short list for Attorney General, states "yes, we're going to come after the people in the media who lied about American citizens, who rigged presidential elections.." And Trump himself has made clear his intention to weaponize federal law enforcement and prosecute political opponents, Joe Biden and others.

Take Donald Trump literally and seriously. He's not joking.

Sunday, April 07, 2024

Ceding Leverage

Rachel Goldberg-Polin, mother of a 23-year-old man held hostage by Hamas since October 7, 2023remarked on Sunday's Face the Nation on CBS

Well, you know, this is such a painful, staggeringly indescribable odyssey that we are on. And, as you said, you can't imagine. I often say, oh, I also can't imagine what we're going through. And, yes, we are going to be returning to Washington tomorrow to have meetings with different people in the administration. And we really want to understand what is happening to ensure that these people - and remember, Margaret, we have eight American citizens who have been held for 184 days, and we are feeling extreme desperation, despair. And we've had wonderful access and sympathy and open doors and lots of hugs from everyone in the U.S. government, but this is a very binary situation. We want our people back. Period. And that's what we're going to be talking tomorrow about is, what is actually going to be happening? What leverage? What levers need to be pulled in order to make this happen? Because six months is actually a complete failure on everybody's part.

It's not a failure on Hamas' part. The terrorist organization has played very well its role as hostage-taker, to hold on to individuals until it believes it has squeezed from the victimized party the maximum it's likely to achieve. Hamas did this when in 2011

Gilad Schalit, a former IDF soldier, was released from Gaza after being held captive there by the terrorist group, Hamas, for five years. He was only released when Israel agreed to a prisoner swap that involved the release of 1,027 Palestinian prisoners, including those responsible for killing Israelis in terror attacks.

On the day of his release, Egyptian military officials received Shalit from Hamas control on the Gaza side of the Rafah crossing and updated the IDF command post at the Kerem Shalom crossing of the transaction earlier on Tuesday morning.

As a result, Israel transferred all the Palestinian prisoners to be released to Gaza and the West Bank to Red Cross buses.

Upon passing into Israel, Shalit was guarded by soldiers of the Israel Air Force's 669 unit, who accompanied him until he was home safe in Mitzpe Hila.

As part of a carefully orchestrated prisoner swap, Israel freed 477 Palestinian prisoners on that day, with a further 550 set for release at a later date.

It was not vey long before the deal started paying dividends- for Hamas. As we learned in July of 2015

The suspected mastermind behind a deadly West Bank terror attack last month was among 1,027 Palestinian inmates freed by Israel in exchange for the release from Gaza of the captured Israel Defense Forces soldier Gilad Shalit in 2011.

On Sunday, the Shin Bet announced it had detained four members of a seven-member Hamas cell who allegedly opened fire on a car near the settlement of Shvut Rachel in June, killing Malachy Rosenfeld, 25, and wounding three others.

Rosenfeld was the sixth Israeli to be killed in attacks carried out or planned by Palestinians released under the Shalit deal since April 2014.

And that's not all because

Yahya Sinwar, the leader of Hamas in the Gaza Strip, is widely believed to have helped mastermind the unprecedented Hamas attack that changed the course of Israeli-Palestinian history.

He spent more than two decades behind bars in Israel, before being freed 12 years ago in a hostage ransom deal his brother helped negotiate. In early October, Sinwar outsmarted Israel with the same hostage-taking tactic — resulting in Israel's deadliest day on record.

Israel believes in the value of human life, to the extent of releasing 1,027 terrorists, criminals, and those suspected of violent behavior in return for one human being.  Hamas believes in death, destruction, and and annihilation. That's not merely annihilation of the Jewish state- if the Muslim nation-state of Gaza, is completely demolished, all the better to the terrorist group.

There is in Israel a growing movement to get the hostages, not all of them Israeli, back with or without defeat of Hamas..  "We want our people back. Period," says Rachel Goldber- Polin, reflecting the mounting sentiment.

It is also dangerous. When Hamas hears this, they justifiably hear "anything you want; period." When the Israelis gave up 1,027 prisoners for one Israeli in 2011, they bought themselves more terrorist attacks.  After the remarks noted above, Goldberg-Polin added

And I include myself in that as a parent, that I have not been able to save my son. And I don't know – I think that you're a parent, anyone who is a parent, can appreciate our job is to keep our children safe. And when they get in a situation when they're not safe, our job is to save them. And I feel that I have failed and I feel that our governments have failed and I feel that all the parties at the table have failed to get these 133 souls back home.

The job of the parents is "to keep our children sage" and otherwise "to save them." But that is not the sole job of a government, especially one that accepts not only the importance of making whole the families of 100+ hostages but also the short-term and long-term welfare of the nation itself.

Goldberg-Polin probably is not naive. She is focused on what she needs to be focused on. However, the military and political establishment has a broader mission. This includes return of the hostages, an aim hampered throughout this war by global pressure for a lasting ceasefire, the hostages whatever. More obviously, if a permanent ceasefire is imposed prematurely, Hamas will live to fight another day.

Friday, April 05, 2024

Pigeonholing Palestinians

In the badly edited video below, ignore the right-wing charlatan psychiatrist, Phil McGuire. Instead, consider the message of Mosab Hassan Yousef, a son of the co-founder of Hamas, who defected to Israel in 1997 and became an undercover agent for Shin Bet, and who has since moved to the USA.

Aside from condemning Hamas, Yousef at 2:22 contends "since October 7, I personally don't differentiate between Hamas and so-called Palestinians and a minute later, "Palestine depends on the destruction of Israel. This is not acceptable and we are not going to agree with it."

Asked by one of the two Muslim women present whether Palestinians "are the same, one and the same," Yousef replied "after October 7, yes. There's no difference. The vast majority of the Palestinian people support Hamas. That is a fact. This is proven by statistics and...."

Thursday on Morning Joe, host (co-host?) Joe Scarborough spent a few minutes bashing the very vulnerable Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for actions taken (or not taken) to keep Israel safe. He noted, as The New York Times put it, "Israeli officials obtained Hamas' battle plans for the October 7 terrorist attack more than a year before it happened." 

Additionally, beginning at 1:38 of the video, Scarborough asks rhetorically "What about Benjamin Netanyahu? What about him- has he always looked upon Hamas as Nazis?" After the response, the former Florida congressman noted

So- so let me ask you this question. I can't get an answer. Maybe we're just not covering it in the press. Maybe you can help me out. Why did Benjamin Netanyahu send the head of Mossad to Doha three weeks before the worst attack on Jews since the Holocaust and told Qatar to continue funding Hamas?

Wanting to emphasize his point, at 2:41 he added "We were always angry that Qatar founded Hezbollah and Hamas. I want to know- why did Benjamin Netanyahu do that? Let me ask you this. Why did Benjamin Netanyahu and Donald Trump know in 2018 the sources of Hamas' illicit funding and they still did nothing? They wanted that money to get to Hamas. I'd like to know because we in America- has there been any investigations in Israel to this point? 

In the annals of poor judgement displayed by government leaders, the collaboration of the Israeli prime minister with Hamas ranks high. In December, we had learned

In a series of interviews with key Israeli players conducted in collaboration with Israeli investigative journalism organization Shomrim, CNN was told Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu continued the cash flow to Hamas, despite concerns raised from within his own government.

Qatar has vowed not to stop those payments. Qatari minister of state for foreign affairs Mohammed bin Abdulaziz Al-Khulaifi told CNN’s Becky Anderson on Monday that his government will continue to make payments to Gaza to support the enclave, as it has been doing for years.

“We’re not going to change our mandate. Our mandate is our continuous help and support for our brothers and sisters of Palestine. We will continue to do it systematically as we did it before,” Al-Khulaifi said.

Israeli sources responded by pointing out that successive governments had facilitated the transfer of money to Gaza for humanitarian reasons and that Netanyahu had acted decisively against Hamas after the October 7 attacks….

In 2018, Qatar began making monthly payments to the Gaza Strip. Some $15 million were sent into Gaza in cash-filled suitcases – delivered by the Qataris through Israeli territory after months of negotiation with Israel.

The payments started after the Palestinian Authority (PA), the Palestinian government in the Israeli occupied West Bank that is a rival of Hamas, decided to cut salaries of government employees in Gaza in 2017, an Israeli government source with knowledge of the matter told CNN at the time.

The PA opposed the Qatari funding at the time, which Hamas said was meant for the payment of public salaries as well as medical purposes.

Israel approved the deal in a security cabinet meeting in August 2018, when Netanyahu was serving his previous tenure as premier.

Even then, Netanyahu was criticized by his coalition partners for the deal and for being too soft on Hamas.

Palestinians are not all the same, not even now, though most do appear to support Hamas. They couldn't be expected to do otherwise; Hamas is fighting the war against Israel, whose bombs have killed something north of 20,000 Gazans. (Exact figures would be difficult to come by, even if they were not supplied by the Gazan Health Ministry.)  No doubt opposition to Hamas would be interpreted by many neighbors of Gazan residents as support for Israel.

It didn't have to be this way. And those Palestinians who have rallied to the side of Hamas in response to Israeli attacks prompted by the 10.7/23 terrorist attack upon Israelis are actually a little late to the game. Someone beat them to it.

The PA opposed the Qatari funding at the time. If Netanyahu at the time recognized that Israel was facing two major enemies in the West Bank and Gaza, he did not appreciate that Israel had no choice but to come to an accommodation of sorts with the lesser evil and less deadly adversary- the Palestinian Authority.  Instead, he actively facilitated the transfer of resources to the Hamas regime in Gaza.

Yousef now believes that there is no difference among Palestinians. Netanyahu seems all along to have believed the same. Alternatively, he may have thought that the PA was more dedicated to a Palestinian state and thus posed a greater threat to Israel.

He did so, at least in part because he believed, as Yousef does now, that there is no difference- none- among Palestinians. Ironically, this is something Benjamin Netanyahu has in common with most of the anti-Israel world, whether actually pro-Hamas or not. Israel is said to be bombing Palestinians, killing Palestinians, trying to exterminate Palestinians when it is exclusively Gazans, most of them Palestinians, who are the victims in the Israeli assault.

The emphasis on "Palestinians"- a distinction never defined and rarely understood- has prolonged the war by emboldening Hamas. Soon after October 7, Israel in the eyes of the world was no longer fighting Hamas or Gazans. It was not defending itself against a brutal, terroristic entity but against, in popular perception, a whole race of people. As the global community thus became ever more critical of Israel, Hamas has had no need to return the hostages it has held.

Benjamin Netanyahu has reinforced that perception.  He enabled Qatar to finance Gaza, thus Hamas, and disregarded the growing military threat posed by the terrorist group while encouraging Jewish settlements on the West Bank. While he- finally- views Hamas as the mortal enemy of Israel it always has been, he refuses to recognize other representatives of Palestinians as legitimate.  The irony of the Israeli right and of Palestinian sympathizers perceiving Palestinians as one undifferentiated mass is lost on both sides and does not bode well for regional peace.

Wednesday, April 03, 2024

We've Seen This Play Before

A Puerto Rican, Sonia Sotomayor is the first Latina to serve on the United States Supreme Court. But as Mehdi Hasan understands, that's simply not good enough.

In the article in The Guardian, Hasan writes is time to remember Ruth Bader Ginsburg. To recall how RBG, who had survived two bouts of cancer, refused to quit the court despite calls to do so from leading liberals during Barack Obama’s second term office. To hark back to her insistence, in multiple interviews, that it was “misguided” to insist she retire and that she would only stand down “when it’s time”. To recollect how, on her deathbed in 2020, she told her granddaughter that her “most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed” – and how it made no difference whatsoever! Donald Trump nominated Amy Coney Barrett as RBG’s replacement just eight days after her death, and Senate Republicans confirmed Barrett to RBG’s vacant seat just eight days before election day.

With Joe Biden trailing Trump in several swing states and Democrats also in danger of losing their razor-thin majority in the Senate, are we really prepared for history to repeat itself? Sotomayor will turn 70 in June. Of course, only Sotomayor knows the full status of her health, still it is public knowledge that she has had type 1 diabetes since she was seven; had paramedics called to her home; and is the only sitting justice to have, reportedly, traveled with a medic. To be clear: she could easily – and God willing – survive a potential Trump second term and still be dishing out dissents from the bench come 2029.

But why take that risk? Why not retire now? Why not quit the bench at the same age that justices in Belgium, Australia and Japan are forced to do so?

Unfortunately, Sotomayor could not announce a retirement effective January 1, 2025 or January 7, 2025, the day after Congress presumably will certify the presidential election results, reserving the option to withdraw her resignation if Trump prevails. There is nearly a 50% chance that Biden will be re-elected while the math for Democrats holding on to the Senate is clearly absent.

Also unfortunate: Sotomayor is unlikely to retire, in part because there will be little pressure on her to do so. Hasan notes

In 2021, the progressive group Demand Justice sent a billboard truck to circle the supreme court building with the message: “Breyer, retire.” I joined in, too. “Retire, retire, retire,” I said in a monologue for my Peacock show in 2021. “Or history may end up judging you, Justice Breyer.”

So why is it okay to pressure Breyer to retire but not Sotomayor? 

There is no good reason, but thee is a reason and

This time round, Demand Justice isn’t taking a position on whether an older liberal justice should quit while a Democratic president and Senate can still replace them and, as HuffPost reports, “on the left, there is little open debate about whether she should retire.”

Well, of course, there isn't. And the reason there isn't echoes the reason why there is no push at all for Kamala Harris to step down. Karen Finney, the Democratic strategist who is quite pleased this state of affairs, believes that the risk of losing the presidency is an acceptable price to pay to maintain demographic purity. Citing an initial interest in a presidential bid

When you had people who were trying to test the waters, 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.

There are powerful figures in or about the Democratic Party who are less concerned with turning over the presidency to Donald Trump- or losing another Supreme Court seat to a selection made by a President Trump- than they are to the idea of losing a first. That would be the first black Vice President or the chance of the first black female President, and the first American of Latin descent to serve on the USA Supreme Court.

As Hasan advocates, Ginsburg might make the courageous and patriotic decision to step down. But Ruth Bader Ginsburg didn't, Kamala Harris won't, and it's not likely that Sonia Sotomayor will, either.

Monday, April 01, 2024

Whomever You Are, Please Stand Up

Will the real Joe Biden please stand up? On March 31, the Office of The White House issued a Statement maintaining

Jill and I send our warmest wishes to Christians around the world celebrating Easter Sunday. Easter reminds us of the power of hope and the promise of Christ’s Resurrection.

As we gather with loved ones, we remember Jesus’ sacrifice. We pray for one another and cherish the blessing of the dawn of new possibilities. And with wars and conflict taking a toll on innocent lives around the world, we renew our commitment to work for peace, security, and dignity for all people.

From our family to yours, happy Easter and may God bless you.

With "the promise of Christ's Resurrection" and "Jesus sacrifice," the President couldn't have gotten any more Christian without risking the praise of even his sycophants on MSNC. But not to worry because

Created by a Michigan-based transgender activist, Rachel Crandall, in 2009, International Transgender Day of Visibility (often shortened to Trans Visibility Day) falls on March 31 every year. In 2024, that date coincidentally falls on Easter Sunday, which is determined annually by marking the first Sunday after the full moon occurring on or after the Spring Equinox.

President Joe Biden marked the push for transgender rights with a statement recognizing Trans Visibility Day on Friday that immediately set off alarm bells on the far right.

Left-leaning reporter Rachel Dobkin at right-leaning Newsweek wrote "On Friday, the White House sent out an announcement proclaiming March 31, 2024, as Transgender Day of Visibility. This announcement is just a formality as the date of this annual event has already been set and is a way for the Biden administration to celebrate the holiday." Yet midway through this "formality," the President took a sharp left turn as he proclaimed

extremists are proposing hundreds of hateful laws that target and terrify transgender kids and their families — silencing teachers; banning books; and even threatening parents, doctors, and nurses with prison for helping parents get care for their children.  These bills attack our most basic American values:  the freedom to be yourself, the freedom to make your own health care decisions, and even the right to raise your own child.  It is no surprise that the bullying and discrimination that transgender Americans face is worsening our Nation’s mental health crisis, leading half of transgender youth to consider suicide in the past year.

Acknowledging International Transgender Day of Visibility would be a formality, much as it was when Biden acknowledged World Hearing Day on March 3, World Obesity Day on March 4, or International Client's Day on March 19. You may have missed the President's proclamation issued on those days. We all did.

His statement on Easter Sunday was not a mere formality but a hearty endorsement. Nor was, to be fair to the President, the blessing he bestowed upon Easter.  So on the same day that Biden referred to Christ's resurrection and sacrifice, he spent five paragraphs (before the standard "Now, therefore, I") issuing brazenly political remarks. 

The issue is not whether Biden's remarks reflected good policy or values but one of context, especially when it's likely transgender day was set intentionally to fall periodically on Easter Sunday or Good Friday.. When it occurs on almost any other day on the calendar, the timing of Biden's remarks would have been more appropriate.

But it didn't, and they weren't, no matter the President's habit of inserting "God" into speeches. Conventional wisdom would argue that the "Easter" Joe Biden is the real Joe Biden, a good, traditional Catholic and Christian, who periodically must pander to woke progressives. Alternatively, the real Joe Biden is the one who told transsexual- uh, er, transgender- Americans yesterday "you are America" rather than "you are as American as anyone else" or "you are America, just as all of us are." In that case, the Joe of faith and religious conviction is the man of deception and diversion.

The devout and dedicated Catholic he usually presents as would not have delivered a slap to the face of committed Christians that he did early yesterday- unless he was coerced into the transgender statement or didn't know what was being issued in his name. It's only fair, then, in the face of an election pitting himself against a candidate who is not physically and mentally well, that we ask who the real Joseph Robinette Robinette Biden is.


Sunday, March 31, 2024

All Lies Are Not Created Equal

Some say "it is what it is." However, as Bill Maher understands, sometimes it isn't what it appears to be. 

A misguided tweet prompted by Friday's Real Time with Bill Maher:

Maher responded (bad audio on the video, with relevant portion beginning at 17:53)

Also, when you say "a third of the country." It' a third of the country that thinks the election was stolen. But it's another, something like 14%- almost half that thinks the election was stolen and doesn't care because they're still going to vote for Trump,. So it is almost half the country. For that reason, I'm with you. 

But I don't agree with you on the idea that a lie is a lie. Bill Clinton's lie, Obama's lies, whoever lies, is different that that the election doesn't count when our guy doesn't win. That is a separate thing- - I totally get that point of view.

Zakaria then stated that he had once interviewed (or tried to interview) Gus Hall, once a Communist Party candidate for President of the USA, inferring that would have been analogous NBC putting Ronna McDaniel on the air. However, this point was mute. NBC's issue was not whether the former RNC chairperson should be a guest, but instead a $300,000 a year contributor.

A lie is a lie but one lie differs in magnitude and effect than another. Or as another tweeter explained, "Clinton lied about an erection. Ronna lied about an election. Very different things."


                                              HAPPY EASTER

Friday, March 29, 2024

Uplifting the Hostile Workplace

In October 2021 Charlotte Bennett, a health policy aide in the administration of New York governor Andrew Cuomo- forced out of office after a series of sexual abuse allegations- stated that

what emboldened her to come forward — and bolster the claims of an earlier accuser — was also the feeling that she was part of a community of survivors who had each other’s back.

“I was really scared to come forward,” Bennett said. “But something that reassured me even in that moment of fear was that there were women before me … (it wasn’t) Charlotte versus the governor, but a movement, moving forward. And I am one small event and one small piece of reckoning with sexual misconduct, in workplaces and elsewhere.”

Because things- especially in the workplace- can change dramatically in less than four years. 

An attorney for Lizzo’s former backup dancers, Arianna Davis, Crystal Williams and Noelle Rodriguez, is fuming that the Democratic National Committee hired the “Good As Hell” singer to headline the Dem’s big fundraiser Thursday night at Radio City Music Hall.

“It’s shameful that Lizzo would be chosen to headline an event like this amid such egregious allegations,” Ron Zambrano told me. “Without getting into the politics, I can’t imagine why anyone would want Lizzo representing them in any way given her reprehensible behavior. It’s just a terrible look."

Lizzo is facing accusations of sexual harassment and discrimination by Davis, Williams and Rodriguez who sued Lizzo last August, accusing her of “creating a hostile work environment through a wide range of legal wrongdoing, including not just sexual harassment but also religious and racial discrimination,” according to Billboard. The women allege Lizzo forced them to attend sex shows and eat a banana protruding from a woman’s vagina, among other allegations. Last month, a judge denied Lizzo’s request to toss the lawsuit, allowing the majority of the case to proceed to trial later this year.

Last October, two years after Charlotte Bennett's account, Holly Corbett noted in Forbes "While some people may argue that #MeToo is dead or is not needed anymore, the truth is that change with any social movement is slow, nonlinear, and doesn't all the time." Yet she misleadingly added "The #MeToo movement of 2017 and 2018 grew with survivors finding community and resulted in holding hundreds of powerful men accountable."

Powerful men, arguably; influential women, not a chance. The performer of such classy and traditional lyrics as "Woo child, tired of the bullshit Go on dust your shoulders off, keep it moving Yes Lord, tryna get some new shit In there, swimwear, going to the pool shit" is not being held accountable. Ron Zambrano is trying to do so- but the last three Democratic presidents have not only given her a pass, but have now celebrated her, honoring her with prominence at the New York City gala.

This is what the #MeToo movement has come to. While many Americans flounder as victims of the vagaries of life, moral outrage vanishes when the alleged offender is a wealthy celebrity.  It turns out that if the wrongdoer is not among the "hundreds of powerful men," three of the most powerful Americans of the last quarter century can't be bothered. Perhaps the #MeToo movement should acknowledge it no longer serves a useful purpose and simply call it a day.


Overwrought Reaction

Take the "L" and just move on.  162 Democrats joining Republicans to attack free speech and condemn a phrase that advocates one t...