Wednesday, February 28, 2024

The Banish Jews Caucus

Representative Moskowitz's post followed a panel discussion with Anderson Cooper in which the CNN host wanted to discuss the implications of the "uncommitted" vote in the Michigan Democratic primary rather than the Mideast policy of the Biden Administration. The larger point, however, is suggested by a predictable tweet from leftist activist Nina Turner, to which the proper response is "Would you prefer "Nazi-like?"


Not all opposition to Israel's war in Gaza against Hamas is rooted in anti-Semitism or anti-Jewish animus; maybe not even a majority. Nonetheless, "would you prefer (to be called) Nazi-like," while a little extreme, is more than snarky.  The San Francisco Chronicle reports

Hundreds of anti-Israel student protesters broke down the door of UC Berkeley’s Zellerbach Playhouse on Monday night, smashing a window and preventing an Israeli speaker from addressing a few dozen Jewish students.

Danielle Sobkin, one of the organizers who invited Israeli lawyer Ran Bar-Yoshafat, said the mob grabbed a sophomore who tried to attend the event, called him a “dirty Jew” and spat on him. She said that protesters also shoved a senior into the auditorium door as she tried to check in attendees, and that they grabbed a freshman by her neck.

“This isn’t an isolated incident. This is a continuous trend that’s persisted my entire time on campus. Jewish hate. The targeting of Jewish students,” said Sobkin, co-president of Bears for Israel, one of three Jewish groups that invited Bar-Yoshafat.

“For a lot of us, this was the tipping point. The last straw,” she said, noting that she’s seen anti-Israel graffiti for years on campus, and said that for nearly two weeks, anti-Israel protesters have partially blocked the iconic Sather Gate broadcasting the sounds of war...

(Dan) Mogulof, the campus spokesperson, said the university is investigating the Monday incident, in which many students covered their faces with masks and Palestinian scarves known as keffiyehs.

The Not Anti-Jewish protestors evidently passed on the Courage 101 for Human Beings Course. John Lewis, they're not. The incident had its genesis (if it's not genocidal to use the term beginning the Scripture accepted by Jews and Christians) when

The Israeli lawyer was originally supposed to speak at Wheeler Hall, home of the English department. Roughly 50 students sent in their required RSVPs, and about 30 students “liked” the Instagram invitation from the three groups, Bears for Israel, Tikvah and Students Supporting Israel.

But more than 2,200 other students “liked” a post from Bears for Palestine that urged: “Shut it down: Genocidal murderers out of Berkeley,” and featured a photo of the speaker labeled “murderer.”

A huge crowd gathered outside Wheeler Hall at 5 p.m. Monday chanting so loudly that students inside told Sobkin they couldn’t hear their professors.

The event shifted to Zellerbach Playhouse, and the university sent what officials thought would be enough police to protect attendees.

“We had a significant number of police at the event — a number we believed to be sufficient based on past experience — and that clearly was not the case,” said Mogulof, noting that the university doesn’t disclose how many officers it deploys.

Meanwhile, the university — and students who support Israel — may have more to contend with next week.

Bears for Palestine has announced a schedule of events for its annual “Apartheid Week,” condemning Israel and speaking out on the history of the Palestinians.

During the Apartheid Week, the pro-Palestinian students are expected also to denounce apartheid, or what has been labeled "apartheid," in Mainland China, India, Myanmar and Sudan. I'm kidding, of course.

It will be only Israel and at those events or at riots, they will continue to hold American Jewish students responsible for the actions of the Likud government of Israel, more than 7,000 miles away. Not anti-Semitic or anti-Jewish in any way. Nope, not a chance.



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Monday, February 26, 2024

Time to Relinquish the Stage

Senator John Fetterman is funny; also, wrong when he says

Like I said, my man [Carville] hasn’t been relevant since grunge was a thing. And I don’t know why he believes it’s helpful to say these kinds of things about an incredibly difficult circumstance with an incredibly strong and decent and excellent president.

Fetterman was miffed when, appearing in September on Bill Maher's podcast, longtime Democratic strategist James Carville stated that if the election were two months later, President Biden would lose to Donald Trump. He added "and so somebody better wake the f_ _ _ up."

And earlier this month, Carville

said President Biden not sitting for an interview before the Super Bowl is a “sign” of his administration having little confidence in him.

“It’s the biggest television audience, not even close, and you get a chance to do a 20, 25-minute interview on that day, and you don’t do it, that’s a kind of sign that the staff or yourself doesn’t have much confidence in you, there’s no other way to read this,” Carville said in a recent interview on CNN’s “Smerconish.”

This will be the second year in a row that the president has not sat for an interview before the big game. Biden’s decision not to participate comes as he’s been facing bad press in the wake of the release of a special counsel report on his handling of classified documents.

Shortly after the interview with Carville, and after he had spoken to him, Ezra Klein expressed similar, much more detailed, concern about Biden's chances. In his opinion piece in The New York Times, Klein was fairly effusive about Biden's performance in office and conceded that the President may be "in command, strong, energetic, compassionate (and) thoughtful." However, he argues "whether it is true that Biden has it all under control, it is not true that he seems like he does." Further

I was stunned when his team declined a Super Bowl interview. Biden is not up by 12 points. He can’t coast to victory here. He is losing. He is behind in most polls. He is behind, despite everything people already know about Donald Trump. He needs to make up ground. If he does not make up ground, Trump wins.

The Super Bowl is one of the biggest audiences you will ever have. And you just skip it? You just say no?

The most famous "just say no" was the campaign, ultimately unsuccessful, of then-First Lady Nancy Reagan to persuade young people to reject illegal drugs. The Biden team's "just say no" campaign is rooted more firmly in reality.

Recently, Nate Silver wrote "Personally, I crossed the Rubicon in November, concluding that Biden should stand down if he wasn’t going to be able to run a normal reelection campaign — meaning, things like conduct a Super Bowl interview.” The President's handlers aren't trying to sabotage the boss if they believe their their guy shouldn't conduct the kind of interview that's done under such friendly circumstances. They believe it would be a risk for him to do so, a greater risk than running a normal re-election campaign.

This does not bode well for keeping Donald Trump out of the White House. Nonetheless, the Democratic establishment, as Carville protests, refuses to consider an alternative. Some, like Fetterman, at least understand that Biden has been an effective President worthy of re-election. Others do not want to block the path of the first black and first female Vice-President. That's a truly awful reason to stick with a likely loser in November, especially when blacks such as Georgia senator Raphael Warnock and Maryland mayor Wes Moore and women such as Michigan governor Gretchen Whitmer could be convinced to stop Donald Trump.

Many Democrats have promoted the "but Trump, too" defense of Biden's age. However, as noted in an opinion piece in TIME

A Reuters/Ipsos poll   found that three quarters of Americans, including more than half of Democrats, think Biden is too old to work in government, with only half of voters and a third of Republicans saying the same thing about Trump. A January NBC poll found nearly identical numbers saying they had  concerns about Biden’s health, while less than half of respondents said the same thing about Trump.

And this is without the Secret Service sandbagging Mr. Biden for a second time.

A second Biden term would be unlikely to end on January 20, 2029 because Trump and Biden are not "similarly OLD." One is 77 and the other is 81 and would be 86 on 1/20/29. There typically is little difference between 37 and 41 or 47 and 51. There is a difference between 77 and 81.

Aside from Silver, Klein, and Carville, there are few prominent individuals who would vote for the incumbent who will acknowledge both the difference in age and its importance to voters. There may be enough Democrats and liberal Independents to pull Biden-Harris across the finish line in November. But it is a huge risk to take with the future of the country and its representative democracy.


Saturday, February 24, 2024

The Natural Rights of Christian Nationalism

He's right, you know.
In 2021, the conservative author of "The Good Constitution: A Moral Account of U.S. Constitutionalism in Clarence Thomas's Political Thought" approvingly noted that the Associate Justice in his memoir had written

I led my staffers (especially Ken Masugi and John Marini) in discussion of the natural-law philosophy with which the Declaration of Independence, America’s first founding document, is permeated. “All men are created equal,” Thomas Jefferson had written in 1776. “They are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights.” That’s natural law in a nutshell: if all men are created equal, then no man can own another man, and we can only be governed by our consent.

His "unalienable Rights" work accomplished, Mr. Jefferson returned to the plantation and tended to his slaves.

If basic human rights are endowed by the Creator, someone forgot to tell the rulers of the 167 countries which today practice slavery. Admittedly, this includes not only slavery in the classic sense but also forced labor, sexual exploitation, forced marriages, and human trafficking.

Though abiding in Asian countries, in a surprise to all those who smear western civilization as oppressive and decadent, slavery is more prevalent per capita in African and Middle Eastern nations. Wherever, it exists.. 

The Creator- or God, as Jefferson presumably meant- did not intend to endow some individuals with the right to own other individuals, nor the right to be owned by other individuals. Slavery is not an expression of individual freedom. (Sorry, Nikki Haley.) If all men (and women) are created equal and slavery is a real thing, clearly mankind has gone asunder. Where there is no slavery, rights obviously were created by man, even if God the Creator gave mankind the ability to establish those rights. Ultimately, the choice was bequeathed to human beings.

As Przybyla (a great name, if you don't have to go through life spelling it) suggests, Christian nationalism is a thing apart from Christianity. It is not exclusive of Christianity but is in tension with the religion because it contorts theological belief to try to validate political ideology.  And radical Islamism has taught us anything, it should be that extremism fueled by religious fanaticism is not a recipe for individual freedom.

Thursday, February 22, 2024

And "Genocidally" is Not an Adjective

Respectfully, councilwoman, you've been punked, as the tweeter may have been.

I was, too, when I saw the tweet with the associated video:

The exchange, which was

caught on video as the activist approached Ogles in Washington, sparked pushback from local Nashville officials and the Nashville-based American Muslim Advisory Council....

In video of the incident, the activist walks alongside Ogles and staff members as she has a back-and-forth with the congressman about mounting civilian deaths in Gaza. Ogles asked the activist if she'd seen footage of dead Israeli children.

"I've seen footage of shredded children's bodies, and that's my taxpayer dollars going to bomb those kids," the activist said.

“I think we should kill them all, if that makes you feel better," Ogles replied.

Representative Ogles' comment, as shown in the video, was not met with applause and as the Tennessean adds

At-large Metro Council member Zulfat Suara learned about Ogles' comments while at Tuesday night's council meeting, where the council was discussing a resolution condemning the display of Nazi symbols, chants and hate speech in downtown Nashville on Feb. 17.

Suara said rhetoric like Ogles emboldens people "to march and preach hate."

"In the conflict overseas, I have been very mindful of what I say and how I say it because I want to make sure that my Jewish friends are not hurt in what I say, and to make sure that my Palestinian families are taken care of," Suara said, noting she represents both in her constituency.

"But when legislators at the federal level and the state level continue to demonize people, continue to only look at one side and not the other, that's the result that we see on the streets. And I hope that we will continue to do better. This otherization, this demonization, this 'Kill them all' is only breaking us apart."

Houston, we have a problem.  Ogles after the word "better" added "everybody in Hamas."  His spokesperson noted in an email to the paper "The Congressman was not referring to Palestinians, he was clearly referring to the Hamas terrorist group."

And so he was. However, that did not deter a United States Representative from the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania area from jumping to a conclusion: 

This is bad. When I saw the tweet, I assumed the extremely conservative Ogles had in fact asserted, in toto, "kill them all," implying all Palestinians. But he was not. In understandable frustration, he had blurted out the remark "... kill them all, if that makes you feel better." Instead, in adding "kill everybody in Hamas," Ogles was making a comment which, to all opposed to terrorism, is uncontroversial. 

I could suggest that would not include Representative Summers and like-minded individuals. However, that would be making a similar mistake as did the congresswoman, assuming something without definitive evidence. In her case, it was taking as face value a video, which is not only dangerous, but has become increasingly common.

So we should beware, not assuming any video, wherever it's seen, is completely accurate and not intended to misinform. As Democrats, we must hold ourselves to this standard, lest our credibility as a Party, like that of Republicans, further diminish. And that would include not using terms such as "genocide" or "genocidally" without understanding fully the facts of a complex regional situation.

Wednesday, February 21, 2024

The Ignominious Thirteen

Say their names.

There are fifteen members of the United Nations Security Council, of which five are permanent: China, France, Russia Federation, the United Kingdom, and the United States of America. There are ten temporary members: Algeria, Ecuador, Guyana, Japan, Malta, Mozambique, Republic of Korea, Sierra Leone, Slovenia, and Switzerland.

Name them because 13 of the 15 now have voted to continue the war in Gaza. Those 13 have sided with Hamas. And those 13 have endorsed hostage-taking. The USA vetoed the resolution at the UN Security Council which demanded an immediate cease-fire while the United Kingdom abstained.

There is an alternative to the Algerian-sponsored resolution which gained overwhelming support in the Security Council but failed upon the veto of a permanent member. As reported by CNN, last week a meeting in Cairo which included top-level intelligence chiefs from the US, Israel (and) Egypt and the Qatari prime minster... failed to achieve a breakthrough." The USA opposed the terrorist-friendly resolution because, as White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby explained after the vote, "we just weren't able to support a resolution today that was going to put sensitive negotiations in peril- and that's what we believe this resolution would do."

The USA has circulated a draft of a resolution which has circulated an alternative draft resolution which NBC explains "instead calls for a temporary pause in the fighting as part of hostage negotiations and opposes any ground operation in Rafah."

That would not represent a surrender by Israel, only an acknowledgment of defeat, a far less reprehensible outcome.  By contrast, the resolution vetoed by the USA demanded that Israel lay down its arms and rest on the goodwill of bloodthirsty terrorists to release the hostages they hold. It would in effect have stopped a democratic nation from ridding itself of the greatest threat to its existence. 

Diplomacy is continuing and there is at least a possibility of the return of a significant number of hostages.  It is, as the United Kingdom seems to understand, to permit the world's greatest superpower to forge with Egypt, on whose doorstep hundreds of thousands of Gazans sit, a deal not completely one-sided. We now know that, left to their own devices, the Contemptible 13 would have none of it.  

Israel is not satisfied to play the victim. Yet to much of the world, Israel is acceptable only when it is the victim. If it responds in the same manner any other nation would to an effort to wipe it out, that's going too far and the men, women, and children held hostage become mere irritants whose lives are expendable.

Monday, February 19, 2024

Reid's Skewed Perspective

In the video below, Joy-Ann Reid can be seen answering (at 14:04) a question (at 13:33) about "the ways that black people through time have been treated." In the following lengthy portion of the extremely lengthy response, she advocates reparations (a truly bad idea) for blacks while properly speaking in the third person rather than the first person. Daughter of two professionals, a father from the Democratic Republic of Congo and a mother from British Guiana, Reid comes from a reasonably privileged background. Presumably, she understands that any rationale for reparations does not apply to someone of her ancestral background as she remarks

I mean, to be a black person in- you know, in 2024 in America is to be a state of complete perplexed confusion about what is wrong with a country that hates your history to this day can't admit even the basics of what was done to your ancestors, won't accept any responsibility for the fact that has carried throughout the entirely of the existence of you in this country and thins 60 years of relative freedom is enough.

Now blacks who can't get into Harvard, now blacks who can't get any more loans, you can't even give each other loans of $20,000 unless white men who get 99% of funding for their businesses. We want a hundred.


The "loans of $20,000 appears to be a reference to President Biden's student loan forgiveness program, although it's unclear, understandable because the MSNBC host evidently is not in a field in which she is expected to speak clearly and cogently. The program, now suspended by the courts, was not sold as racial preference tool and whites (and others) were eligible for it. If there has been racial bias- uh, er- preference- Reid should have explained it. And if banks are giving all white men 99% of the loans requested for their businesses- and rejecting all black applicants- she needs to expose this extreme racial discrimination. She is, after all, a journalist (supposedly).

Reid employs the general term "blacks" rather than of the smaller universe of "African-Americans. This is especially significant as pertains to individuals being refused admission to Harvard, whose affirmative action program was struck down by the US Supreme Court last June. Three years earlier, the Harvard Crimson explored the changing demographics at the university, which prompted creation of the Harvard College Generational African American Student Association. The writer noted that generational African-American is "a label for the community of Black folk who trace their lineage in the United States back for centuries." Therefore

Within Black communities at Harvard, there’s an overarching belief that GAA representation is disproportionately low, that “we’re in the minority,” as (then-student Samantha C.) O’Sullivan explains. Every Black student I interviewed — GAA or not — expressed this as common knowledge.

As a first-year, I once heard from a teaching fellow of the Introduction to African American Studies course that GAA students make up 10 percent of Harvard’s Black population. For the Class of 2022, that would mean roughly 17 students.

Brown used to joke “that there were only a few of us on campus.”

Within Harvard’s GAA population today, O’Sullivan has noticed a seemingly large percentage of biracial students and students who come from socioeconomically-privileged backgrounds. “If we were to count the number of GAA students at Harvard who were descended from enslaved people, came from low income backgrounds, first generation, four grandparents descended from enslaved people, I feel like that number would be so low — like, maybe one person. It’s just so, so, so low,” she says.

The demographics seem to have shifted from what they were decades ago. Professor Cornel R. West ’74 says that, when he was the co-president of the Black Students Association in the early 1970s, “about 95 percent of the Black folk in the association were Black people from the United States who had been enslaved in Jim and Jane Crow.”

He continues, “So you [have] a fascinating expansion of what we mean by Black people, what we mean by African Americans"....

“I don’t have the statistics and the University doesn’t release them, but a large percent of the Black students in the College are descendants of recent Africans as opposed to being descended from African-Americans who were enslaved in North America,” says African and African American Studies professor Henry Louis Gates Jr.

In such a context, "black" takes on a slightly, but significant, meaning than "generational African-American."  Harvard fought hard at the Supreme Court, with Reid and the similarly ideologically inclined, cheering it on. Unable to trace her lineage in the USA over a long period of time- and thus not GAA- Reid would be particularly partial to the program at Harvard, which did not broadly embrace black applicants. 

The university enthusiastically accepted blacks who do not trace their lineage in the USA back for centuries. Individuals whose descendants were brought to this land as slaves and whose progeny faced segregation, lynching, and other atrocities in this country need not apply. Harvard still would boast of its racial diversity while largely shutting out the victims of what has been termed "America's original sin." 

Consciously or not, Reid did not explicitly place herself within the cultural group which has endured what she described as "a state of complete perplexed confusion about what is wrong with" the USA. However, she descends into- as she would put it- "a state of complete"- ignorance or bigotry when she claims

And to find out literally Barack Obama's two terms as President are your reparations and Juneteenth, which you already celebrate anyway, is your reparation. And yet, you built this country. You literally, physically, built this country and yet the attitude toward you from a lot of your peers and your fellow citizens is just "shut up" and be grateful.

Whites either accept Juneteenth as appropriate recognition as an historical event or don't consider it important in any way.  And the whites whom Reid believes consider Obama's two terms as President as reparations don't see Obama's election as payback or righting a wrong. Rather, they think of it as vindication, as hard evidence that the USA isn't the land of bigotry and racism which many individuals such as Reid believe it is.

Those conservatives, similar to many on the left, fooled themselves into thinking that the election (finally) of a black individual to the presidency was more significant than it was. Ironically, they bought into the myth of the left- and of the center- that electing Obama was historic in a pertinent way. Election of a black man did not concretely change anything in this country, and was due to events particular to the time. They included his long-time opposition to an unpopular war coupled with opposition from a candidate apparently quite comfortable with a permanent wartime footing- and who put onto his ticket a truly ridiculous first-term governor. Race was less of a factor than commonly believed and revealed little about the fundamental character of the nation. Sometimes an election is just an election.

Far worse is Reid's contention that "you"- by which she means blacks and only blacks- built this country.

It was blacks. It also was whites, with contributions from other ethnic groups. We built this- all of us. One wishes Reid would take the more inclusive and expansive view Tom Paxton recognized several decades ago:



Saturday, February 17, 2024

Apropos Comparison

If the MSNBC host is using "wild" as a synonym of "accurate" and, especially, "apt," his is an insightful tweet.


New York governor Kathy Hochul in the video above says

.... call out Hamas for what it is. It is a terrorist organization that must be stopped. No- no country should live with that specter over them. And for those who don't understand this dynamic, their own stake in their own country, I'll give you an example. 

I'm from Buffalo.... if Canada one day were to attack, I'm sorry, my friends, the next day there would be no Canada. I love Canada. We did have the War of 1812. They did burn Buffalo, so there might be a little conflict here. But think about that. There's a natural reaction. You have a right to defend yourself and make sure it never happens again and that is Israel's right. 

To give Hayes his due- and to be quite generous- the analogy is a little weird because the government of Canada never would allow, less encourage, much less be a party to, such an attack. It is not only an ally of the USA but is a civilized and peaceful state.

Nonetheless, Hochul's analogy is accurate because Canada and Buffalo are adjacent to each other, as Gaza is adjacent to Israel. Moreover, the attack of October 7 was not carried out by a bunch of rogue terrorists but by members of the ruling party, Hamas, of Gaza.

And if recent American history- or common sense- is a guide, we know that what the New York governor is saying is prima facie accurate. It is hard to exaggerate the enormity of the mass murder of Israeli citizens because 

The October 7 attack is the deadliest per capita terrorist attack since the Global Terrorism Database started data collection in 1970, with a rate of slightly over one person killed per every 10,000 Israelis. This metric adds context for the national impact of the attack and sense of loss for Israel. As President Biden invoked in his reaction to the attack, it is as if 40,000 to 50,000 Americans had died on 9/11. 

And even though 40,000 Americans were not killed on 9/11/01, the Watson Institute of International & Public Affairs of Brown University has explained

.... we know that between 280,771-315,190 have died from direct war related violence caused by the U.S., its allies, the Iraqi military and police, and opposition forces from the time of the invasion through March 2023. The violent deaths of Iraqi civilians have occurred through aerial bombing, shelling, gunshots, suicide attacks, and fires started by bombing. Many civilians have also been injured.

Because not all war-related deaths have been recorded accurately by the Iraqi government and the U.S.-led coalition, the numbers are likely much higher. Several estimates based on randomly selected household surveys place the total death count among Iraqis in the hundreds of thousands.

Several times as many Iraqi civilians may have died as an indirect result of the war, due to damage to the systems that provide food, health care and clean drinking water, and as a result, illness, infectious diseases, and malnutrition that could otherwise have been avoided or treated.  The war has compounded the ill effects of decades of harmful U.S. policy actions towards Iraq since the 1960s, including economic sanctions in the 1990s that were devastating for Iraqis.

Despite more than $100 billion committed to aiding and reconstructing Iraq, many parts of the country still suffer from lack of access to clean drinking water and housing.

Unlike the attack of October 7, the horrific attack of September 11, 2001 was not launched by one government or state actor upon another's people. The Bush Administration and its supporters claimed a close relationship, now generally seen as widely exaggerated, between Al Qaeda and Iraq President Saddam Hussein. By contrast, Israel was attacked by the governing authority of an antagonist, Gaza. We weren't attacked by Iraq, yet (justifiably or not) started two wars; Israel was attacked by Gaza.

It has responded with ground forces and with bombing, preceded by recommending that Gazan residents in the line of fire to evacuate. These warnings are inadequate but undoubtedly have saved thousands of lives.. These are not numbers reported by the media, let alone taken at gospel truth, as are the numbers of Palestinian lives lost according to the Gaza-based Ministry of Health, an agency in the Hamas-controlled government. (The phrase "according to" or word "says" is uncommon in the centrist and liberal portion of the media.) 

As the Watson Institute acknowledges, "no one knows with certainty how many people have been killed and wounded in Iraq since the 2003 United States invasion." But we are expected to swallow whatever number is next spouted by Hamas as casualties in the current war.

If agents of the Canadian government slipped across the northern border and murdered 1,000 or so Buffalonians- let alone 40,000- the governor (whomever she or he might be) would call on the federal government to retaliate. And it would, with massive force, probably beyond what the Netanyahu government has done.

So Chris Hayes should suck it up. He may- apparently won't- promote the idea that tit for tat (or tit for much more than tat) is ineffective or does not effectuate world, or regional, peace. But if Hayes wants to argue that we'd take lying down an attack such as that conducted by Hamas, he's ignoring evidence and common sense. And on this matter, exposing himself as a fool.

Thursday, February 15, 2024

"Voters Have Outright Rejected Dean Phillips"

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez believes she is making sense, telling Jake Tapper

Right now, when it comes to the President's age, folks are talking about how he's 81 but first of all we have to look- first of all, Donald Trump is around the same age- he's 77 years old, they could have gone to high school together.

They didn't. Middle class Joe was in Delaware and attended a private (Roman Catholic) preparatory school in Delaware  and Donald J. Trump attended New York Military Academy, a private boarding school 60 miles north of NYC.  If they had gone to the same high school, Trump probably wouldn't have been even a freshman while Biden was a senior. Today, they are both seniors. And a lot can happen to an individual between age 82- when Trump would be completing a second term- and age 86, when Biden would be completing a second term. A lot.

The New York congresswoman continues

.... and beyond that, Donald Trump has ninety-one indictments.  And I know who I'm going to choose. It's going to be one of the most successful Presidents in modern American history, that passed the Inflation Reduction Act, that got us the American Rescue Plan, that ensured we could pass one of the largest investments in climate change in U.S. history.

(Sarcasm ahead.) It's heartening to learn that Ocasio-Cortez is going to vote for Joe Biden over Donald Trump. Hopefully, it's not a close call for her. She deserves no argument on assessing Biden "one of the most successful Presidents in modern American history." No doubt, justifiably, she would not suggest a Republican President has been more successful. Therefore- depending upon her definition of modern- the young congresswoman may be comparing the incumbent against Barack Obama, Bill Clinton, and Jimmy Carter. If so, she could have omitted "one of" from her evaluation.

That may be nitpicking but it's not nitpicking to inform the congresswoman that Donald J. Trump is facing nor 91 indictments but four indictments. Presumably, she was referring to the 91 total counts with which he is being charged. By going with ninety-one indictments, Ocasio-Cortez was off by nearly 2300%. A rudimentary understanding of criminal justice is not one of the strong points of the congresswoman who, not coincidentally, was one of the most prominent and ardent supporters of the misguided Black Lives Matter movement.

Ocasio-Cortez added

And as far as we know, as we know, virtually all of the filing deadlines have passed. There's already been a primary, voters have outright rejected Dean Phillip. President Biden is going to be the Democratic nominee.

Well, of course, they have done so. The Democratic National Committee, in defiance of tradition (and why would tradition matter to a 77-year-old who has spent his entire career in politics), moved the primary in the Republican state of South Carolina. ahead of votes in Iowa, New Hampshire, and Nevada. President Biden explained that race was the explicit rationale for the move when he wrote the DNC

For decades, Black voters in particular have been the backbone of the Democratic Party but have been pushed to the back of the early primary process. We rely on these voters in elections but have not recognized their importance in our nominating calendar. It is time to stop taking these voters for granted, and time to give them a louder and earlier voice in the process.

This is what can happen when individuals, including the President of the USA, prioritize race over everything. The will not level with the public.

The Democratic Party does not rely on South Carolina in elections. The last time a Democratic nominee captured So. Carolina in a presidential election was in 1976 (remember disco? bell bottom jeans?) and Joe Biden lost the state in 2020 by 11.7 percentage points. Knowing he won't win it in 2024, he won't campaign there in the general election. Democrats do not "rely on these voters in elections" nor have they "not recognized their importance in our nominating calendar." Biden gained the nomination in 2020 because of South Carolina's voters, and only because of South Carolina's voters. If he- like most of the Party movers and shakers- didn't recognize that, they wouldn't have maneuvered the state into first place in this cycle's process.

Joe Biden is going to be re-nominated (unless he expectedly withdraws) the Democratic nomination. However, it's not going to be because of the impressive record cited by Ocasio-Cortez in brief. As he realizes, he was nominated in 2020 because of African-American voters and, whatever his mental state now, he was smart enough four years ago to buy himself insurance against rejection by Democratic elites or Democratic voters (of whatever race). Vice-President Kamala Harris may have been a mediocre Senator and bad state Attorney General (both) and is very unpopular but her status as first in line to the presidency has scared away Democrats otherwise considering a challenge to Joe Biden.. Veteran Democratic strategist and Harris supporter Karen Finney was quoted by NBC News last September as warning

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.

Notwithstanding the congresswoman's claim to the contrary, Joe Biden could, and would, be replaced on the ballot if the Party's power brokers wished. They do not, and it's not because of whatever filing deadlines have passed, because he has governed far better than the last Democratic President (never acknowledged), or because he won big in a Democratic primary against a United States Representative no one outside of Minnesota has heard of. Party establishment could replace Joe Biden on the ballot if it chose but the affront to the vice-president is more important than defeating Donald Trump. 

The reason is fairly obvious but cannot be uttered in polite company. Joe Biden appears to be (politically, anyway) dead man walking. But to many Democrats, some things are more important than defeating Donald Trump. 

Tuesday, February 13, 2024

The Risk of Multiplying Obama's Mistakes

Whenever Donald Trump tells a story which includes an anonymous person addressing him as "Sir," he is lying. However, we're being told here of plans to encourage Vladimir Putin when

Former president Donald Trump ramped up his attacks on NATO on Saturday, claiming he suggested to a foreign leader that he would encourage Russia to do “whatever the hell they want” to member countries he views as not spending enough on their own defense.

“One of the presidents of a big country stood up and said, ‘Well, sir, if we don’t pay and we’re attacked by Russia, will you protect us?,’” Trump said during a rally at Coastal Carolina University. “I said, ‘You didn’t pay. You’re delinquent.’ He said, ‘Yes, let’s say that happened.’ No, I would not protect you. In fact, I would encourage them to do whatever the hell they want.”

Finally, under President Joseph R. Biden, the USA is taking action to stem the threat posed by the world's second greatest superpower. This is occurring after four- no, twelve- years of disregarding the threat posed by Putin's Russia.  During Donald Trump's term, in February of 2018 in a commentary on the Brookings website, the Atlantic's Benjamin Haddad and Alina Polyakova of the Center for European Policy Analysis wrote of our 44th Chief Executive

Throughout his presidency, Obama consistently underestimated the challenge posed by Putin’s regime. His foreign policy was firmly grounded in the premise that Russia was not a national security threat to the United States. In 2012, Obama disparaged Mitt Romney for exaggerating the Russian threat—“the 1980s are now calling to ask for their foreign policy back because the Cold War’s been over for 20 years,” Obama quipped.

The zinger was "The 1980s are now calling to ask for their foreign policy back because the Cold War’s been over for 20 years." It was a mistake in judgement easily made, and I personally fell for the line. Haddad and Polyakova continue

This breezy attitude prevailed even as Russia annexed Crimea, invaded eastern Ukraine, intervened in Syria, and hacked the Clinton campaign and the DNC. Obama’s response during these critical moments was cautious at best, and deeply misguided at worst. Even the imposition of sanctions on Russia for its invasion of Ukraine was accompanied by so much propitiation and restraint elsewhere that it didn’t deter Russia from subsequent aggression, including the risky 2016 influence operation in the United States. Obama, confident that history was on America’s side, for the duration of his time in office underestimated the damaging impact Russia could achieve through asymmetric means.

Obama’s cautious Russia policy is grounded in three conceptual errors: a failure to grasp the true nature of the Russian threat, most clearly visible in his administration’s restrained response to Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014; a “long view” of historical trends which in his view inexorably “bent” toward liberalism; and the perception that formidable domestic political obstacles stood in his way when it came to crafting a response to Putin’s assault on the elections in 2016.

Haddad and Polyakova acknowledge

Obama’s much-ballyhooed “Reset” with Russia, launched in 2009, was in keeping with optimistic attempts by every post-Cold War American administration to improve relations with Moscow out of the gate. Seizing on the supposed change of leadership in Russia, with Dmitry Medvedev temporarily taking over the presidency from Vladimir Putin, Obama’s team quickly turned a blind eye to Russia’s 2008 war with Georgia, which in retrospect was Putin’s opening move in destabilizing the European order.

The twelve years of failure may have been more like twenty years because

Like George W. Bush before him, Obama vastly overestimated the extent to which a personal relationship with a Russian leader could affect the bilateral relationship. U.S.-Russia disagreements were not the result of misunderstandings, but rather the product of long-festering grievances. Russia saw itself as a great power that deserved equal standing with the U.S. What Obama saw as gestures of good will—such as the 2009 decision to scrap missile defense plans for Poland and the Czech Republic—Russia interpreted as a U.S. retreat from the European continent. Moscow pocketed the concessions and increasingly inserted itself in European affairs. The Kremlin was both exploiting an easy opportunity and reasserting what it thought was its historic prerogative.

The analysis has application to the ongoing war Russia initiated four years later in eastern Europe because

Though Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in 2014 was the final nail in the coffin of the Reset, President Obama remained reluctant to view Moscow as anything more than a local spoiler, and thought the whole mess was best handled by Europeans. France and Germany spearheaded the Minsk ceasefire process in 2014-2015, with U.S. support but without Washington at the table. The Obama administration did coordinate a far-ranging sanctions policy with the European Union—an important diplomatic achievement, to be sure. But to date, the sanctions have only had a middling effect on the Russian economy as a whole (oil and gas prices have hurt much more). And given that sanctions cut both ways—potential value is destroyed on both sides when economic activity is systematically prohibited—most of the sacrifice was (and continues to be) born by European economies, which have longstanding ties to Russia. In contrast, the costs of a robust sanctions policy have been comparatively minor in the United States; Obama spent little political capital to push them through at home.

"Obama spent little political capital...." can be applied to much of his time as President. But in their balanced evaluation of the President's actions toward Russia, the analysts add

The Obama administration also sought to shore up NATO’s eastern flank through the European Reassurance Initiative (ERI), which stationed rotating troops in Poland and the Baltics while increasing the budget for U.S. support. Nevertheless, the president resisted calls from Congress, foreign policy experts, and his own cabinet to provide lethal weapons to Ukraine that would have raised the costs on Russia and helped Kyiv defend itself against Russian military incursion into the Donbas. As Obama told Jeffrey Goldberg, he viewed any deterrent moves by the United States as fundamentally not credible, because Russia’s interests clearly trumped our own; it was clear to him they would go to war much more readily that the United States ever would, and thus they had escalatory dominance. Doing more simply made no sense to Obama.

This timid realpolitik was mixed up with a healthy dose of disdain. Obama dismissed Russia as a “regional power” that was acting out of weakness in Ukraine. “The fact that Russia felt it had to go in militarily and lay bare these violations of international law indicates less influence, not more,” Obama said at the G7 meeting in 2014. This line has not aged well. Obama’s attitudes on Russia reflected his administration’s broadly teleological, progressive outlook on history. Russia’s territorial conquest “belonged in the 19th century.” The advance of globalization, technological innovation, and trade rendered such aggression both self-defeating and anachronistic. The biggest mistake for America would be to overreact to such petty, parochial challenges. The 2015 National Security Strategy favored “strategic patience”. But was it patience… or passivity? As its actions in 2016 proved, Russia is very much a 21st century power that understands how to avail itself of the modern tools available to it, often much better than we do ourselves.

"Disdain" is a fitting term given that Barack Obama nonetheless managed to get re-elected, in part because of the disdain many of us voters have for the importance of foreign policy. His term in office, however, made it far more difficult for a Democrat to succeed him in office as

The same intellectual tendencies that shaped Obama’s timid approach to Ukraine were reflected in his administration’s restrained response as evidence of Russian electoral interference began to emerge in the summer.

Statesmen were inadvertently and intentionally sacrificed, Hillary Clinton and Mitt Romney respectively, for President Obama's foolishness.  His was a good faith stumble into bad foreign policy, though with ramifications continuing to this day.

However, naivete about Russia's intent is reaching a whole new level. Donald Trump long has made his intent clear. At the NATO summit in Brussels in 2018,  President Trump had the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Defense Secretary draw up orders for the USA to withdraw from NATO despite their opposition and only at the last minute pulled back.  In a video on his campaign website, Trump promises to "finish the process we began under my administration of fundamentally reevaluating NATO's purpose and NATO's mission."

From a generally insightful author comes an opinion is that Trump's policy is grounded less in ideology than in self-interest:

Eastern Europe became more dangerous because of President Obama's policies, though the impact has been felt only the last couple of years. The effect of the approach, whether impelled by self-interested or misguided principle, in the second term of a Trump Administration would be devastating not only to Ukraine- and thereafter, probably to its neighbor(s), It also would open a new front in east Asia if mainland China is emboldened to invade Taiwan.

Until then, we have a President, old and accused of senility, who understands the world better than the last Democratic President and infinitely better than the guy who wants to beat him in November.

Sunday, February 11, 2024

Tiny Step Forward

At a Get Out The Vote rally at a Coastal Carolina University in Conway, South Carolina

“Where’s her husband? Oh, he’s away. He’s away,” Trump said, appearing to imply Haley was having challenges in her marriage that would explain her husband’s absence. “What happened to her husband? Where is he? He’s gone.”

At her separate rally in Gilbert, South Carolina, Haley addressed Trump’s comments head on, and again challenged the former president to a debate.

“I need to start with the fact that Donald Trump had a rally today, and in that rally, he mocked my husband’s military service,” she began.

“I have long talked about the fact that we need to have mental competency tests for anyone over the age of 75. Donald Trump claims that he would pass that — maybe he would, maybe he wouldn’t. But if you mock the service of a combat veteran, you don’t deserve a driver’s license, let alone being President of the United States.”

I don't know where in the US Constitution competence tests are listed as a qualification for federal office but my guess is that Nikki Haley would have Americans for Prosperity administer those tests.

Last July, the same Nikki

Haley, a former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations and former governor of South Carolina, said in an interview on CNBC’s “Squawk Box” Monday that the country needs a “new generational leader” but added she would back Trump if he wins the primary.

“I would support him because I am not going to have a President Kamala Harris. We can’t afford that. That is not going to happen,” she said.

( In  September 27, 2023, the debate stage at the Reagan Presidential Library, Simi Valley, California, co-moderator Dana Perino asked ".... And candidates, it’s now obvious that if you all stay in the race, former President Donald Trump wins the nomination. None of you have indicated that you’re dropping out. So which one of you on stage tonight should be voted off the island....?  Nikki Haley responded "Are you serious?"

In January

Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley said in an interview on Fox News that if elected she would pardon former President Trump only if he were found guilty and would not consider preemptively pardoning him.

“I think you only do it if someone’s found guilty. So, you know, what I’ll say is this is about moving the country forward, and the last thing we want to see is an 80-year-old former president sitting in jail,” she told the network when asked if she would pledge to pardon Trump preemptively or only if he was found guilty.

The former President will not be "sitting in a jail," even if he is convicted and sentenced to a period of incarceration. It would be prison- not jail- and he would be much more likely to serve such a sentence with electronic monitoring or some other punishment; so, straw man. She would not pre-emptively pardon Trump, in part because he might not accept a pardon because it comes with an assumption of guilt.

Yet just as President, Trump lied about veterans; rhetorically asked "I don't get it- what was in it for them?" while at the gravesite of the Homeland Security chief John Kelly's son, killed in Afghanistan; objected to the presence of maimed veterans at a military parade because "nobody wants to see that;" and cancelled a visit to Aisne-Marne American Cemetery near Paris while remarking "Why should I go to that cemetery? It's filled with losers."

But now the former President has questioned the military service of Nikki Haley's husband, and her criticism finally has gone beyond derogating Trump- and Joe Biden- as "grumpy old men," a stereotype which would be beneath Nikki Haley if anything were.

However, no one has asked the candidate if she still would support the former President if he is nominated for a second term. Nor has anyone asked whether she still believes that Trump should be pardoned if and when he is found guilty of a criminal offense.

No one, even at Americans for Prosperity, knows when Nikki Haley will drop out of the presidential race. Nor does anyone know for sure what she will do thereafter. However, we do know that it will be whatever benefits Nikki Haley, and there will be no other consideration.

Friday, February 09, 2024

Not Too Late

As Fox News White House correspondent, Peter Doocy is often an annoyance to President Biden or his press secretary, past or present. He was no different on Thursday night when, following up on the President's  response to a question of his, Doocy asked "how bad is your memory and can you continue as President?"

The President sarcastically responded "my memory is so bad I let you speak."

What in the name of the Almighty was he talking about? No one laughed because, obviously, it was neither funny nor clever. And it made no sense.

Biden was responding to yesterday's release of the Special Counsel, who has investigated the classified documents found in the President's Delaware home (garage, offices, and basement den) and his office at Penn Biden Center in Washington, D.C. in December of 2022 and the following month. Robert (not Ben) Hur, appointed to the position by Attorney General Merrick Garland, had served as US Attorney in Maryland during the Trump administration. Recommending that Biden not be prosecuted

"It would be difficult to convince a jury that they should convict him-by then a former president well into his eighties-of a serious felony that requires a mental state of willfulness," Hur wrote. In the report, he said that during interviews Biden couldn't remember when he was vice president, and had to ask when his first term ended and began. The report added that Biden did not remember, "even within several years," when his son Beau died of brain cancer in 2015.

Still, Democratic Party operatives were anxious to spin furiously:


This matter is substantively, significantly different than Comey/Clinton. Hur is not the Attorney General, but a special counsel who was given the task of investigating the retention of documents and making a recommendation to the Attorney General. He

"uncovered evidence that President Biden willfully retained and disclosed classified information after his vice presidency when he was a private citizen," the report said.

"These materials included (1) marked classified documents about military and foreign policy in Afghanistan, and (2) notebooks containing Mr. Biden's handwritten entries about issues of national security and foreign policy implicating sensitive intelligence sources and methods," said the report.

The FBI reviewed 33,000 Clinton emails individually and found only three emails- later corrected to one- which contained a lower-case "c" in the middle of a paragraph. Not even classification experts would recognize that as "classified" without a header which would immediately expose the report as classified.

Nonetheless, Comey announced to the nation on July 5, 2016 that "Hillary Clinton and her colleagues" were "extremely careless in their handling of very sensitive, highly classified information." As of that date, every Democratic primary (or caucus) had been held and Mrs. Clinton already had, safely, declared herself winner of the nomination. She was the presumptive- and certain- Democratic nominee. Whether or not there was interest, there no longer was the opportunity for any primary voter to change his or her vote.


By contrast, this is only January and only one party-sanctioned primary (South Carolina) has been held. There is still plenty of time to prevent the Hur report from having a significant effect on the general election- if the candidate is not Joe Biden.

He has mistaken Mexico for Egypt and the deceased Helmut Kohl for Angela Merkel, failed to recall when he became Vice-President or vacated the office, confused the war in Ukraine and Iraq, forgotten the year of death of the beloved son he often refers to with great pride... and more. It doesn't suffice that he will be running against Agent of the Devil Donald Trump, with his own, severe, cognitive problems.

Opinions of Donald Trump are largely baked-in. Therefore, if the President's condition gets progressively worse- as is likely- and Trump's condition also declines, voters will be alarmed only by Biden's deterioration. Moreover, in the unlikely event Biden is re-elected, it he probably would not be able to finish out his second term, either through death or incapacitation. And given the 25th Amendment, that would be a tragedy.


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...