Execution Saudi style 7

(Continuing from the post immediately below)

Stories of horrific torture are commonly told in the Levant and the Middle East. They are often untrue, the expression of fear rather than fact. But then again, they often are true.

If a “Turkish source” is to be believed, Jamal Khashoggi was dismembered while alive and conscious. Nasty as he was, he cannot have deserved that horror. It’s hard enough just to think of it.

What had he done to offend the Saudi rulers so much that they ordered such a punishment for him?

This report by David Hearst comes from the Middle East Eye:

It took seven minutes for Jamal Khashoggi to die, a Turkish source who has listened in full to an audio recording of the Saudi journalist’s last moments …

Khashoggi was dragged from the consul-general’s office at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul and onto the table of his study next door, the Turkish source said.

Horrendous screams were then heard by a witness downstairs, the source said.

“The consul himself was taken out of the room. There was no attempt to interrogate him. They had come to kill him,” the source told MEE.

The screaming stopped when Khashoggi – who was last seen entering the Saudi consulate on 2 October – was injected with an as yet unknown substance.

Salah Muhammad al-Tubaigy, who has been identified as the head of forensic evidence in the Saudi general security department, was one of the 15-member squad who arrived in Ankara earlier that day on a private jet.

Tubaigy began to cut Khashoggi’s body up on a table in the study while he was still alive, the Turkish source said.

The killing took seven minutes, the source said.

As he started to dismember the body, Tubaigy put on earphones and listened to music. He advised other members of the squad to do the same.

“When I do this job, I listen to music. You should do [that] too,” Tubaigy was recorded as saying, the source told MEE.

That can only mean that he often does it. Often cuts up people while they are still alive. And calmly prepares himself not to be troubled by their screams.

That, then, is the Saudi way. 

A Turkish source told the New York Times that Tubaigy was equipped with a bone saw. He is listed as the president of the Saudi Fellowship of Forensic Pathology and a member of the Saudi Association for Forensic Pathology.

In 2014, London-based Saudi newspaper Asharaq al-Awsat interviewed Tubaigy about a mobile clinic that allows coroners to perform autopsies in seven minutes to determine the cause of death of Hajj pilgrims.

The newspaper reported that the mobile clinic was partly designed by Tubaigy and could be used in “security cases that requires pathologist intervention to perform an autopsy or examine a body at the place of a crime”.

These are the first details to emerge of the Saudi journalist’s killing. Khashoggi was last seen entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on 2 October to retrieve paperwork.

The paperwork was for his divorce from his Saudi wife. He planned to marry a Turkish wife.

To date, Saudi officials have strongly denied any involvement in his disappearance and say that he left the consulate soon after arriving. However, they have not presented any evidence to corroborate their claim and say that video cameras at the consulate were not recording at the time.

But, says the Middle East Eye –

Saudi Arabia is preparing a report that would admit missing Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi was killed as the result of an interrogation that went wrong.

And “that would be a sharp reversal of earlier statements in which Saudi officials said they had nothing to do with the journalist’s disappearance and said he left the Saudi consulate minutes after he first arrived on 2 October.”

Lying is an art. Some do it well. The Saudi rulers do it badly.

Posted under Arab States, Muslims, Saudi Arabia, Turkey by Jillian Becker on Wednesday, October 17, 2018

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The gains of Helsinki 1

What actually was discussed by the presidents of the US and Russia at Helsinki on July 16, 2018?

Was anything achieved, anything agreed between them that will have an effect in reality?

Were the leaders of these two powers, who together have more than 90% of the world’s nuclear weapons under their control, able to find common cause in at least some troubled areas where their militaries are or might be engaged?

Angelo Codevilla writes at American Greatness:

The high professional quality of Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin’s performance at their Monday press conference in Helsinki contrasts sharply with the obloquy by which the bipartisan US ruling class showcases its willful incompetence. …

Having taught diplomacy for many years, I would choose the Trump-Putin press conference as an exemplar of how these things should be done. Both spoke with the frankness and specificity of serious business. This performance rates an A+.

Both presidents started with the basic truth.

Putin: The Cold War is ancient history. Nobody in Russia (putting himself in this category) wants that kind of enmity again. It is best for Russia, for America, and for everybody else if the two find areas of agreement or forbearance.  

Trump: Relations between the globe’s major nuclear powers have never [since the Cold War? – ed] been this bad — especially since some Americans are exacerbating existing international differences for domestic partisan gain. For the sake of peace and adjustment of differences where those exist and adjustment is possible, Trump is willing to pay a political cost to improve those relations (if, indeed further enraging his enemies is a cost rather than a benefit).

In short, this was a classic statement of diplomatic positions and a drawing of spheres of influence.

As Putin listed his agenda, he showed that today’s Russia is a status quo power, whose primary objective is stability. Having come to power over a country diminished and dispirited, he sought to recover as much as possible of what Russia had lost in the Soviet break-up. He forcibly took back parts of Georgia and Ukraine. In doing so, he pushed against open doors.

Today, no other doors are open. Now being ahead, he wants to stop the game. He knows that this is possible because nobody is going to wage or even risk war against Russia to try disgorging Abkhazia and Crimea. He wants Trump to acknowledge that. Warning against extending NATO to Ukraine and Georgia, he signaled that all else is negotiable.

He also has rebuilt Russia’s military and wants to protect its edge by persuading Trump to keep US missile defense in its current dysfunctional mode. This is an inflexible demand that deserves an equally inflexible rejection. Trump had already delivered it by ordering the establishment of the US Space Force.

By securing his naval and air bases in Syria, Putin succeeded in returning Russia to warm-water sea power. That required backing the Shia side in its intra-Muslim war against the Sunni in Syria, while the United States backed the other side. Today Iran, Syria, Iraq, and Turkey are much as Putin wants them. He wants Trump’s acknowledgment of this statusRussia continues to argue to Americans that both countries have suffered far more from Sunni terrorism — ISIS and the Muslim Brotherhood — than from the Shia version.

The two made clear that their commitment to stability in the Middle East outweighs support for either side, and signaled wider cooperation, especially on military matters.

Trump, leaving no doubt that America’s commitment to Israel’s security is absolute, faced Putin with the choice of partnering with America in restraining Iran or of being drawn into an Israeli-American war against an Iran with whose forces Russia’s are interwoven. Putin, for his part, seemed to concur with Trump’s priority. That along with tripartite security consultations with Israel is likely to cool Iran and Hezbollah’s ardor for war.

Trump signaled that America’s interest in Eastern Europe lies in re-establishing peace there, and in safeguarding the independence of its states. Poland and the Baltic States are not just NATO members, but also close to the American people’s hearts. By stressing peace, he made clear that America does not intend to make its defensive commitments there the occasion for a war at or beyond the extreme reach of American power.

Though Russia has backed North Korea in the past, Putin signaled that he is not happy with its acquisition of a modern nuclear force that is effectively China’s pawn. He seemed to promise pressure on North Korea to denuclearize — something that would displease China. Though that was a minor part of both sides’ press conference, it may well signal both sides’ recognition of their mutual interest in not letting China become the Western Pacific’s overlord. Such an understanding would be no minor achievement.

The American ruling class’s attribution of the 2016 election to Trump-Putin collusion, which has characterized US-Russia relations for two years, provided the press conference’s fireworks. Both denied any such thing and insisted there was no evidence of it. In response to a question about whether Putin would make available the 12 Russian state intelligence employees indicted for interference in that election to Special Counsel Robert Mueller, Putin pointed to the existence of a treaty of cooperation on criminal matters and promised Mueller that access to the accused through the treaty.

This led to the final flourish. The Associated Press reporter demanded that Trump state whether he believes the opinions of US intelligence leaders or those of Putin. It would be healthy for America were it to digest Trump’s answer: The truth about the charge that Russia stole the contents of the Democratic National Committee’s computer server is not to be found in the opinions of any persons whatever. The truth can be discovered only by examining the server in question—assuming it has not been tampered with since the alleged event. But, said Trump emphatically, those making the accusations against Russia have refused to let the server be examined by US intelligence or by any independent experts. What is the point of accusations coupled with refusal of access to the facts of the matter?

The classic texts of diplomatic practice teach that diplomacy advances the cause of peace and order only to the extent that its practitioners avoid contentious opinions and stick to demonstrable facts.

The AP reporter, who should be ashamed, is beyond shame. Then again, so are the ruling class representatives who have redoubled their animus against Trump. Cheap partisanship is not all that harmful. It is the transfer of domestic partisan animus to international affairs, however, that has the potential to start wars. …

What that ignorant “journalist” was demanding of Trump — precisely what the credentialed experts should know better than to have demanded — was that the president of the United States scream at the president of Russia for all his evils. Competitive “virtue signaling” has become the way of political life in America. To the extent that it bleeds into America’s foreign policy, we are all in big trouble.

It did not, and will not, “bleed into America’s foreign policy” through President Trump. Though his style of negotiating is to be frank and straightforward, he knows, through long experience, how to maintain an atmosphere of amicable goodwill which makes agreement easy where it is possible.

Contrast this meeting with the silly performance that a giggling US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, put on with her failed “Reset” act when she met the Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov on March 6, 2009, in Geneva; a farce which simply signaled to the Russians that Obama’s America was a push-over.

From the Obama-Clinton “reset’, Russia made all the gains. The US agreed to reduce its nuclear arsenal by a third (which Vice-President Biden hailed as a victory for the US!). Obama broke a US promise to Poland and the Czech Republic to provide them with missile defense systems and radar stations because the Russians were furious at the very idea. The Russians proceeded to destabilize Ukraine, shoot down a civil aircraft in Ukrainian airspace – and annex the Crimea. Though Obama drew a “red line” against the Syrian dictator, Bashar Assad, using chemical weapons against his own people, he did nothing about it when Assad crossed the line by gassing the population of Ghouta, an area in southwest Syria, in August 2013. In the following month, the egregious John Kerry, successor to Hillary Clinton as secretary of state, claimed to have reached  an agreement with the Russians whereby they would reign Assad in, to prevent such a horror being perpetrated again. Russia, he was confident, would oversee the destruction of Assad’s arsenal of sarin and mustard gas and the facilities for their manufacture. Needless to say, Russia did no such thing.

True, we have yet to see the long-term results of any understanding reached by the two presidents at Helsinki. But of this this we can be sure: Vladimir Putin will have understood that Donald Trump is not a man to be trifled with.

About the mass destruction of populations 69

Moral clarity is needed on the question of whether the Syrian dictator Bashar Assad can be allowed to get away with using gas against the Syrian people in the civil war over which he presides year after year.

The answer is NO. He cannot be allowed to.

Gas was delivered on to the Syrian town of Douma from the air. No rebel faction has aircraft. It could only have been delivered by Assad, or his Russian allies at his behest.

There is no defense against chemical and biological weapons. They can be used against large numbers of civilians. That is why they are called “weapons of mass destruction”.

So yes, it is worse to kill off whole populations with gas or anthrax than to engage an army with conventional weapons.

If Assad or anyone else in a position to develop and deliver mass-murdering gas gets away with doing it, others will do it too, such as the mullahs of Iran, the despot of North Korea.

And if gas is re-introduced as a weapon of war, no one anywhere will be out of its reach.

Bad actors hesitate to use biological weapons – the spreading of diseases, such as anthrax – because the stuff can kill the attackers as easily as the attacked. Disease is wholly impartial and no respecter of persons. But gas, dropped from the air as it was over Douma, kills only those below, not those who drop it or send it. It is the cheapest weapon of mass destruction an immoral government with an air force can use.

Elliot Friedland writes at the Clarion Project:

[President] Trump was on the phone with the leaders of France and Britain, the only two other Western powers with serious force projection capabilities, although their militaries pale in comparison to that of the United States. …

The question is whether the United States and her allies will wage war on Syria.

Many pundits and politicians from both sides of the aisle feel the question has already been decided. Of course the President should act in the face of such immorality. America has a responsibility to lead, to not let tyrants commit atrocities with impunity. Despite the partisan rancor that normally characterizes Washington, there is remarkable unity around the idea that Trump ought to authorize at least some military action in Syria.

There are many good reasons to support such a position. Clarion Project’s Ryan Mauro forcefully argued the case against Assad on Fox News, highlighting the vital importance of maintaining deterrence against chemical weapons attacks.

But opposition to the war is bringing a strange medley of personalities from across the political spectrum together.

Tucker Carlson, one of the most watched right-of-center talk show hosts on American television, delivered a blistering rebuke of the pro-war crowd on his show. He said that even if Assad did order a chemical weapons attack that killed children (which Carlson acknowledges he is perfectly capable of doing), to remove him would only bring further chaos at the expense of American lives and billions more dollars.

In this opinion, he is joined by none other than Jeremy Corbyn, leader of Britain’s Labour party, who called for restraint and a multilateral solution brought by the United Nations.

The iniquitous United Nations, that does much harm and no good! (It must be abolished.)

Corbyn has links to Islamist figures, has called Hamas and Hezbollah his “friends” and is embroiled in an on-going anti-Semitism scandal. In the UK, Corbyn’s position was supported by none other than Nick Griffin, former leader of the far-right British National Party. Griffin tweeted that he would vote Labour and support Corbyn if he stopped U.S. airstrikes in Syria.

Left-wing journalist and self-described “anarcho-psychonaut” Caitlin Johnstone wrote in Medium “We All Need to Unite Against War in Syria Regardless of Ideology.” She cites Intercept founder Glenn Greenwald, who got famous breaking Edward Snowden’s Wikileaks as also being against the war.

Patriarcha, an ultraconservative Christian Facebook page even shared her article, calling it “compulsory reading”, despite that page’s longstanding visceral hatred for anything emanating from the left.

The prospect of war is uniting people who normally couldn’t stand to even be in the same room without screaming at each other. The conventional partisan alignments are breaking down in the face of the ever-changing political reality.

Fortunately, the person who will decide what to do is not Tucker Carlson, or Jeremy Corbyn, or Nick Griffin, or Caitlin Johnstone, or Glenn Greenwald, or some “ultraconservative Christian” …

Gas 5

Did the dictator of Syria, Bashar al-Assad, attack a town with lethal gas (in April 2018)?

President Trump says he did, so it has to be expected that the “Resistance” will deny it. Reuters and the New York Times, however, have both reported it as if, on the whole, they believe it. (See here and here.)

As  for foreign news channels, you cannot get more anti-Trump than the BBC, and they also say it happened – while casting doubt on the trustworthiness of the White Helmets organization which is one of the sources of the report.

At least 70 people have died in a suspected chemical attack in Douma, the last rebel-held town in Syria’s Eastern Ghouta, rescuers and medics say.

Volunteer rescue force the White Helmets tweeted graphic images showing several bodies in basements. It said the deaths were likely to rise.

There has been no independent verification of the reports.

Syria has called the allegations of a chemical attack a “fabrication” – as has its main ally, Russia.

The US state department said Russia – with its “unwavering support” for Syria’s government – “ultimately bears responsibility” for the alleged attacks.

What do we know about the attack?

Several medical, monitoring and activist groups reported details of a chemical attack.

“Seventy people suffocated to death and hundreds are still suffocating,” said Raed al-Saleh, head of the White Helmets. An earlier, now deleted tweet, put the number dead at more than 150.

The pro-opposition Ghouta Media Center tweeted that more than 75 people had “suffocated”, while a further 1,000 people had suffered the effects of the alleged attack.

It blamed a barrel bomb allegedly dropped by a helicopter which it said contained Sarin, a toxic nerve agent.

The Union of Medical Relief Organizations, a US-based charity that works with Syrian hospitals, told the BBC the Damascus Rural Specialty Hospital had confirmed 70 deaths.

A spokeswoman said there were reports of people being treated for symptoms including convulsions and foaming of the mouth, consistent with nerve or mixed nerve and chlorine gas exposure.

Continued shelling overnight and on Sunday was making it impossible to reach victims.

As the allegations emerged, Syria’s state news agency Sana said the reports were invented by the Jaish al-Islam rebels who remain in control in Douma.

“Jaish al-Islam terrorists are in a state of collapse and their media outlets are [making] chemical attack fabrications in an exposed and failed attempt to obstruct advances by the Syrian Arab army,” Sana said.

So Russia and Sana deny there was any such attack. That is not surprising.

But what we find surprising is the resistance to believing the reports to be true by some of our own regular Facebook commenters. There seems to be an unwillingness among a number of our otherwise like-thinkers to believe that Assad would do such a thing. We find that strange. Some say that whether the reports are true or not, America should take no part in the Syrian civil war no matter what Assad does. 

And Tucker Carlson on Fox is deploring the possibility of the US using force against Assad as this is being written. He asks how the US would become safer if there were regime change in Syria.

But Russia and Iran are deeply involved in it, and they both threaten US interests.

President Trump asks:

If they’re innocent, why aren’t they allowing people to go in and prove it? Because as you know, they’re claiming they didn’t make the attack.

Since he believes it happened, the big question now is: What will he do about it?

What do our readers think about all this?

Posted under Arab States, Civil war, Iran, Russia, Syria by Jillian Becker on Monday, April 9, 2018

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Trump, Trumpism, and THEM 2

It’s altogether too much for THEM to bear! The man is a billionaire who loves life, lives well, and enjoys himself tremendously both at work and at play; has a wife who is one of the most beautiful women in the world, and is also graceful, gentle, intelligent and competent; has handsome successful children and bright charming grandchildren; and, on top of all that, has become the most powerful man in the world. To add a final insult to THEM, he is perfectly healthy at the age 0f 71; immensely energetic and strong; and fully capable of continuing to do what he wants to do.

And then, try as THEY might to find something he has done terribly wrong to blot his intolerably immaculate escutcheon, THEY cannot find anything!

Actually, it is even worse for THEM. Far worse. Because not only is he victorious, THEY are defeated. Probably (with luck) irrecoverably. He has risen to power at a moment when THEY had  almost conquered the world; almost made it poor; almost brought the nations – possibly even including the USA – into universal homogeneity at the lowest level of subsistence in subjection to THEM running a world communist government (in order to “save the planet” from people using cars and making things in factories); almost destroyed Western civilization.

We are enthusiasts for Trumpism because we are warriors against THEM.

As such, do we exaggerate his achievements? If so, by how much? Overlook his flaws? If so, what are they?

As a corrective to our possibly overindulgent judgment of the president, we reproduce an article by Victor Davis Hanson; surely a reasonable and fair assessment of the Trump presidency thus far and prospectively. It is also necessary to know that it appeared at the mostly, persistently, and emphatically anti-Trump National Review:

As President Trump finished his first full year in office, he could look back at an impressive record of achievement of a kind rarely attained by an incoming president — much less by one who arrived in office as a private-sector billionaire without either prior political office or military service.

As unintended proof of his accomplishments, Trump’s many liberal opponents have gone from initially declaring him an incompetent to warning that he has become effective — insanely so — in overturning the Obama progressive agenda. Never Trump Republicans acknowledge that Trump has realized much of what they once only dreamed of — from tax reform and deregulation to a government about-face on climate change, the ending of the Obamacare individual mandate, and expansion of energy production.

Trump so far has not enacted the Never Trump nightmare agenda. The U.S. is not leaving NATO. It is not colluding with Vladimir Putin, but maintaining sanctions against Russia and arming Ukrainians. It is not starting a tariff war with China. The administration is not appointing either liberals or incompetents to the federal courts. A politicized FBI, DOJ, and IRS was Obama’s legacy, not Trump’s doing, as some of the Never Trump circle predicted. Indeed, the Never Trump movement is now mostly calcified, as even some of its formerly staunch adherents concede. It was done in by the Trump record and the monotony of having to redefine a once-welcomed conservative agenda as suddenly unpalatable due to Trump’s crude fingerprints on it.

On the short side, Trump has still not started to build his much-promised border wall, to insist on free but far fairer trade with Asia and Europe, or to enact an infrastructure-rebuilding program. Nonetheless, Trump’s multitude of critics is unable to argue that his record is shoddy and must instead insist that his list of achievements is due mostly to the Republican Congress. Or they claim he is beholden to the legacy of the Obama administration. Or they insist that credit belongs with his own impressive economic and national-security cabinet-level appointments. Or that whatever good came of Trump’s first year is nullified by Trump’s persistent personal odiousness.

At the conclusion of Trump’s first year, the stock market and small-business confidence are at record highs, and consumer confidence has not been higher in 17 years. Trump’s loud campaign promises to lure back capital and industry to the heartland no longer look quixotic, given new tax and deregulatory incentives and far cheaper energy costs than in most of Europe and Japan. Trump has now ended 66 regulations for every one he has added. Few believed a Republican president could cut the corporate-tax rate from 35 percent to 21 percent while capping state- and local-tax deductions for mostly high earners to $10,000. Those are the highlights of a comprehensive tax-reform and -reduction agenda that will likely accelerate the economy to an even more rapid growth rate than Trump’s first two full quarters of annualized increases in GDP of more than 3 percent. Dozens of large companies are already passing along some of their anticipated tax cuts to employees through increased wages or bonuses — dismissed as “crumbs” by House minority leader Nancy Pelosi. Rising workers’ wages and anticipated tax credits and savings for the lower and middle classes for now are rendering almost mute the age-old fights about state-mandated minimum-wage laws.

The mostly unheralded nixing of the Obamacare individual mandate — once the great ideological battlefield of the Affordable Care Act — will insidiously recalibrate the ACA into a mostly private-market enterprise.

Domestic oil production is slated to exceed 2017 record levels and soon may hit an astonishing 11 million barrels a day. “Peak oil” for now is an ossified idea, as are massive wind and solar Solyndra-like government subsidies and the mostly unworkable Paris Climate Accord. Gas, oil, and coal production are expected to rise even higher with new Trump initiatives to open up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge field in Alaska, encourage more fracking on federal lands and offshore, and complete needed pipeline links while encouraging coal exportation.

For all the political horse-trading over extending or ending the Obama executive orders on DACA, illegal immigration has declined according to some metrics by over 60 percent. It is now at the lowest levels in the 21st century — even before the ending of chain migration and enacting of new border-security initiatives. Abroad, the ISIS caliphate is for all purposes now extinct. Its demise is in part due to Trump’s outsourcing of the conflict to Secretary of Defense James Mattis, who liberated ground commanders from Obama-administration-era legalistic rules of engagement. Trump’s appointees, such as Mattis, National Security Adviser H. R. McMaster, U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley, CIA Director Mike Pompeo, and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, have worked in concert to restore U.S. deterrence.

Variously called “principled realism” or a new “Jacksonianism”,  the Trump doctrine has now replaced the “strategic patience” and “lead from behind” recessionals of the prior administration and not emulated the neoconservative nation-building of the George W. Bush administration. New pressures on nuclear North Korea have prompted the toughest U.N. trade sanctions in history on the rogue state. After Trump’s fiery and erratic rhetoric and muscular displays of U.S. naval and air power in the Pacific, Pyongyang has agreed to landmark talks with Seoul. China is slowly beginning to pressure North Korea to stop launching missiles. Beijing’s Asian neighbors are beefing up missile defense and growing closer to the U.S. For now, the bad cop Trump and the good cops Mattis and McMaster have encouraged friends and frightened enemies, although the shelf life of such diplomatic gymnastics is limited.

Trump almost immediately voiced support for mass demonstrations in Iran, in a manner Obama failed to do in 2009. An ironic fallout of the disastrous 2015 Iran deal may be that the theocracy so hyped its cash windfalls from American relaxation of embargoes and sanctions that it inadvertently raised Iranians’ expectations of a rise in the standard of living. Then it dashed just those hopes by squandering hundreds of millions of newfound dollars in subsidizing Hezbollah, conducting a costly expeditionary war to save the genocidal Bashar al-Assad regime, and likely continuing an exorbitantly costly nuclear-weapons program. What is different about Iran’s internal unrest this time around is twofold. The Trump administration is not invested in any “landmark” deal with Tehran that requires ignoring protesters in the street. Trump also does not envision revolutionary and terror-sponsoring Iran as a “very successful regional power” with “legitimate defense concerns”. Rather, he sees Tehran, along with ISIS and al-Qaeda, as the chief source of Middle East unrest and anti-Americanism.

Moving the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, in line with past congressional mandates, along with threatening to curtail Palestinian aid, only reifies what is now widely accepted. The new Middle East is not the old. There are no longer any ongoing and viable “peace plans”, “road maps”, or “summits”.  America is becoming energy-independent and immune to oil boycotts. There are new and greater threats than Israel to Arab regimes, from nuclear Iran to the scourge of Islamic terrorism in Iraq and Syria. Patience is wearing thin as after 30 years the Palestinians still cannot create transparent and consensual government. Seventy years after the birth of Israel, the Palestinians still insist on being called “refugees” — when most of the world’s millions of displaced persons decades ago moved on.

Yet as Trump heads into the 2018 midterms, his favorability ratings are unimpressive. Because of loud Democratic threats of using impeachment proceedings to undermine the Trump project, the 2018 fight for the House is taking on historic importance. It is not just a referendum on the Trump agenda, but likely a means to seek to discredit or remove Trump himself — even if the prosecution in the Senate would likely never find the necessary 67 votes. In sum, an embattled Trump now finds himself in a war on all fronts. The first and most important conflict is one of favorability. Trump’s actual approval ratings, as in 2016, are probably somewhat higher than the low 40s reported in many polls. But Trump’s image is still astonishingly dismal in relation to his unappreciated achievements. For congressional Republicans to survive the midterms and retain majorities, Trump perhaps has to hope that the economy will grow not just at 3 percent but even more robustly — with marked rises in workers’ take-home wages due to tax cuts and labor shortages. Is it really true that politics can be reduced to “It’s the economy, stupid”? Obama failed to achieve 3 percent growth per annum over his eight years. As a result he may have lost both houses of Congress, but he also was reelected. More likely, no one quite knows the exact political consequences of economic growth. Between November 1983 and November 1984, the economy grew at 7 percent and ipso facto ushered the once “amiable dunce” Ronald Reagan into a landslide reelection victory over a previously thought-to-be-far-more-impressive Walter Mondale. Yet this time it may be that 3 percent GDP growth will not mitigate Trump’s personal negatives but 4–5 percent would.

It is said that Trump is also at war with himself, in the sense that his tweeting alienates the key constituencies of women voters and independents. Conventional wisdom assures that Trump’s off-the-cuff invectives only fuel his critics and overshadow his achievements. In the heart of immigration negotiations, Trump was quoted secondhand as having called Haiti and other formerly Third World countries “sh**hole” countries and thus undesirable sources of mass immigration to the U.S. Whatever the reliability of reports of the slur, Trump is certainly not the sort of politician to have said instead, “It would seem wiser to encourage diverse immigration, including immigration from the most developed countries as well as the least developed” — even as many people privately agree with Trump’s earthy assessment that immigration should be far more selective and include a far greater variety of countries of origin.

Both Trump’s spoken and electronic stream-of-consciousness venting can be unorthodox, crude and cruel, and often extraneous. But can anyone measure whether and to what degree his Twitter account energizes and widens his base more than it loses him supporters otherwise sympathetic to his agenda? The orthodox wisdom is that Trump should let his achievements speak for themselves, curb his raucous campaign rallies, and restrict his daily tweets to expansions on his agenda and achievement and leave the feuding to subordinates. When Trump has avoided ad hominem spats, and been filmed conducting policy sessions with his cabinet and congressional enemies and friends, he has looked and acted “presidential”.  How good then must Trump’s record become to overshadow both the prejudices against him and his own inner demons to achieve favorability ratings that will provide coattails for his congressional supporters and fuel an even more ambitious second-year agenda? Again, time is running out, and in the next ten months the economy must boom as never before or Trump must learn to sound more like a Ronald Reagan than a Howard Stern.

Trump is simultaneously at war with Special Counsel Robert Mueller. Once again, the critical element is time in the sense of the looming midterm elections. So far, after months of media speculation and press leaks, there is no evidence of Russian–Trump collusion. Robert Mueller’s investigative team has been riddled by charges of conflicts of interest, workplace unprofessionalism, and political bias. The basis of the entire writ against Trump, the Fusion GPS–Steele dossier, is now mostly discredited. The file’s lurid sexual accusations alone likely won it notoriety in 2016 among journalists and Obama-administration enablers. The more that is learned about the Steele opposition-research file — paid for by the Clinton campaign, polluted by Russian rumor-mongering, peddled to the FBI, manipulated by the Obama administration to justify FISA surveillance, likely leaked to pet reporters by Obama-administration and Clinton-campaign officials — the more apparent it may become that Mueller is investigating Russian collusion in entirely the wrong place. Another irony is that pushback against the Mueller fishing expedition may prompt reinvestigations into the earlier election-cycle-aborted inquiries about Clinton email improprieties. The Obama administration also likely acted improperly in ignoring the Clinton–Uranium One connections and Hillary Clinton’s violations of agreements with the Obama administration to report the sources of all private donations to the Clinton Foundation during her tenure. So far resistance at both the Department of Justice and the FBI to releasing documents pertaining to all these avenues of interest has stymied House and Senate inquiries. If the Republicans lose the Congress, these investigations will shut down entirely. Democratic majorities will give Mueller a free hand to do as he pleases without worries about past complaints over the ethical shortcomings of his investigation. Select Intelligence and Judiciary Committee hearings will likely give way in the House to impeachment proceedings. But if within the next nine months there are new explosive revelations about the improper or even illegal uses of the Steele dossier and the Clinton scandals, while the Mueller team settles for face-saving indictments of former Trump subordinates for transgressions that have little to do with the original Mueller mandate to investigate Russian–Trump collusion, then Trump will win the legal war. In that case, Trump finally will not only weather the collusion crisis but find himself a political beneficiary of one of the most scandalous efforts to subvert a political campaign and improperly surveil American citizens in recent American history.

Trump wages a fourth war against the proverbial mainstream media, whose coverage, according to disinterested analyses, runs over 90 percent anti-Trump. Negative Trump news fuels Trump-assassination chic in popular culture, the rants of late-night-television comedians, the political effort to grandstand with impeachment writs, calls to invoke the 25th Amendment, and lawsuits alleging violations of the emoluments clause. The threats of a Madonna, the raving of Representative Maxine Waters, the boasts of the “Resistance,” the efforts of blue states to nullify federal immigration law or to dodge compliance with unwelcome new federal tax statutes, and the conspiracy fables of Representative Adam Schiff are all fueled by media attention and preconceived narratives hostile to Trump. The anti-Trump news is still determined to accomplish what so far the Clinton campaign, Obama holdovers, and deep-state bureaucrats have not: so discredit Trump the messenger that his message becomes irrelevant. Trump apparently fights his war against the media in the fashion in which toxic chemotherapy battles cancer. His personal and electronic rants against “fake news” and “crooked” journalists are intended to exhibit media biases and thus discredit negative coverage just before the public tires of Trump’s own off-putting venom. On the one hand, Trump’s anemic approval ratings might suggest the media are winning in their 24/7 efforts to portray Trump as a Russian colluder, rank profiteer, distracted golfer, tax cheat, sexual predator, trigger-happy warmonger, or senile septuagenarian. On the other hand, the media are polling worse than Trump. And his battle has nearly destroyed the credibility of CNN, which has fired marquee journalists for false anti-Trump narratives, been embarrassed by hosts mouthing scatological venom, suffered employees’ hot-mic wishes for Trump’s death, and seen its anchors and special correspondents reduced to on-air rants. For now, no one knows whether Trump’s war against the media is pyrrhic, in that he may defeat his journalist enemies and even render their entire networks discredited, but at such costs that he is no longer politically viable.

Trump is waging a fifth and final war against Democrats. So far Trump has sucked all the oxygen out of the Democratic atmosphere. Politicians and operatives are so obsessed with proving Trump a liar, a cheat, a pervert, a con artist, or an incompetent that they have offered so far no viable opposition leader or alternative agenda. But will just being not-Trump make Democrats preferable? The centrist Democratic party of the 1990s no longer exists. It has become instead a coalition of patched-together progressive causes. The redistributionism and neo-socialism of Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren are now Democratic economic mainstays. Barack Obama’s lead-from-behind legacy remains Democratic foreign policy. Identity politics still constitutes the culture of the party establishment.

In more practical terms, for all the animus against Trump the person, his agenda — tax cuts, deterrence, reindustrialization, middle-class job growth, closing the borders, the melting pot — is increasingly polling well. In many cases, Trumpism is more popular than Democratic signature issues such as tax hikes, larger government, more entitlements, open borders, more identity politics, and European Union–like internationalism.

The idea of Oprah Winfrey as the 2020 Democratic nominee and the unwillingness of Democrats to secure the border reveal what can happen when a party is reduced to defining itself as not being the incumbent president. The Republicans learned that lesson in their four-time failure to defeat the hated Roosevelt. Democrats in the 1980s had little to offer the country other than not being the supposed buffoon Ronald Reagan. Shutting down the government is also rarely a winning strategy for an out party — as the Republicans learned in their politically disastrous 1995–96 showdown with Bill Clinton. In 2018, it may be enough for congressional candidates to run on anti-Trump invective without expressing strong views on the issues or identifying with any particular national leader. But it won’t be so in 2020, especially if the Trump agenda grows more popular and Trump allows it rather than himself to become his signature message.

For now, all that is certain about Trump’s first year is the 2016 truism that past prognostications and current polls are irrelevant. The jester candidate, Donald Trump, destroyed, not just beat, his 16 primary rivals. The doomed candidate Trump defeated the most well-financed, experienced, and media-favored Democratic candidate in memory. The inept President Trump’s first year was not liberal or directionless, but marked the most successful and conservative governance since Ronald Reagan’s. Trump’s critics insist that his comeuppance is on the horizon. They assure us that character is destiny. Trump’s supposed hubris will finally earn an appropriately occasioned nemesis. But in the meantime, nearly half the country may be happy that the establishment was not just wrong but nearly discredited in its non-ending, prejudicial dismissal of the Trump agenda and, so far, the successful Trump presidency.

So: HOWL globalists, socialists, warmists, feminists, Muslims, and Democrats.

He is impervious to your insults.

He is charitable and generous. Yes, he is.

He is not a “racist” or “anti-woman”. Certainly not.

He does not take drugs, drink alcohol – or even coffee.

He has not colluded with the Russians, or any other foreign power. (Obama did with the Russians and the Iranians. Hillary Clinton did with anyone who would pay her.)

He flourishes, he laughs, he acts, he wins.

Hamas, Abbas, PLO – good-bye to all that? 1

Yet another badly needed change has been accomplished byPresident Trump, one that will change political alignments and actions all over the world – for the better. 

DebkaFile reports:

The White House has decided to quietly withdraw from all its ties with the Ramallah-based Palestinian Authority and Mahmoud Abbas.
DEBKAfile’s exclusive sources report that the Trump administration has resolved to scrap all ties with the Palestinian leadership in retaliation for its campaign against US President Donald Trump and his Jerusalem policy. Several warnings to Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) of what was in store if he did not desist from castigating the US president fell on death ears.
Last week, two Arab crown princes, Saudi [Crown Prince] Muhammed bin Salman and UAE Sheikh Muhammed bin Zayed, summoned Abbas to their capitals and urged him strongly to back away from his attacks on President Trump. He got the same advice from the ruler of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim Al Thani, who conferred with Washington on the subject – all to no avail. The Trump administration has therefore set out an eight-point program of sanctions, which is first revealed here:

  • The Israeli-Palestinian peace plan under preparation in Washington will not be submitted to Ramallah – only to Israel and the relevant Arab governments.
  • US-Palestinian interaction is to be suspended – not just at the senior levels but in day-to-day interchanges. The administration has notified Palestinian and other Arab parties to stop addressing queries on political and economic matters to the US consulate in Jerusalem, because they will not receive answers. The status of the PLO office in Washington will be reevaluated with a view to shutting it down.
  • Palestinian officials will no longer be invited to Washington by the US government, including the State Department and Department of Treasury.
  • Above all, they will not be welcome at the White House or the National Security Council where US Middle East policy is designed. Senior US officials congratulated the senior Palestinian negotiator Saab Erekat, who also holds the PA’s American portfolio, on his recovery from illness, at the same time warning him that he would no longer be received at the White House. [That’s witty – ed.] 
  • The Trump administration will not make any public announcement of the cutoff of financial aid to the Palestinians. Since the funds are mostly earmarked for specific economic projects, each allocation will simply be held back on the pretext of the need for a “reappraisal”.
  • The US will halt its contributions to the UN Work and Relief Organization, an estimated one billion dollars per annum.
  • The US administration moreover intervened with the governments of Saudi Arabia, Abu Dhabi and Qatar with a request that they freeze or slow their economic aid to the Palestinian Authority.
  • According DEBKAfile’s sources, Palestinian officials in Ramallah were devastated by news of the sudden cutoff of the main sources of the PA’s revenue. Even the Qatar ruler, whom Abbas visited last week as a last resort to save the PA from economic meltdown, refused to release any more funding.

 

(Hat-tip Cogito)

How and why Obama protected a global crime syndicate 1

Obama protected Hezbollah drug ring to save Iran nukes deal.

Here’s the New York Post’s report on yet another scandal from Obama’s cuckoo-occupation of the White House. We choose it because it is a short account of a very long story.

The Obama administration protected members of notorious terror group Hezbollah from prosecution to save the Iran nuclear deal …

A team at the Drug Enforcement Administration had been working for almost a decade to bring down the Lebanon-based militant organization’s sophisticated $1 billion-a-year drug ring — which it found was smuggling cocaine into the US and laundering the profits by buying used cars stateside and shipping them to Africa for resale …

But the departments of Justice and Treasury delayed and rejected prosecution and sanctions requests from the team that had exposed the Iran-backed criminal network because the Obama White House feared “rocking the boat” with Tehran ahead of the deal … .

The taskforce, named Project Cassandra, worked for eight years out of a top-secret facility in Virginia with help from 30 American and foreign security agencies, unraveling the global crime syndicate that was funding Hezbollah’s Jihadi operations, the site reports.

Among those the team sought to bring to justice were Abdallah Safieddine, the group’s envoy to Tehran and a shadowy operative nicknamed “Ghost”, who it considered one of the biggest cocaine smugglers in the world.

But the administration repeatedly stymied efforts to prosecute Safieddine — even though the team had eyewitnesses willing to testify that he’d overseen big weapons and drug deals — and ultimately shut Project Cassandra down once the nuclear deal was settled

A  long report on the whole horrible story may be found here at Politico.

It includes this:

The man who would become Obama’s top counterterrorism adviser and then CIA director, John Brennan … recommended in a policy paper that “[Obama] has the opportunity to set a new course for relations between the two countries” through not only a direct dialogue, but “greater assimilation of Hezbollah into Lebanon’s political system”. 

By May 2010, Brennan, then assistant to the president for homeland security and counterterrorism, confirmed in a speech that the administration was looking for ways to build up “moderate elements” within Hezbollah.

“Hezbollah is a very interesting organization,” Brennan told a Washington conference, saying it had evolved from “purely a terrorist organization” to a militia and, ultimately, a political party with representatives in the Lebanese Parliament and Cabinet …

That was his spin on Hezbollah’s coup d’état by force. Brennan shared Obama’s warm feelings for Islam.

Obama was willing to pay any price (with tax-payers’ money), make any concession or sacrifice, bow as low as he could bend to the ayatollahs, to get a “deal” that permitted Iran to develop nuclear weapons and accumulate a nuclear arsenal, under the guise of a “deal” that it would not do so – for ten years.  After which, it would be equipped and free to attack the United Sates and destroy Israel and Saudi Arabia – its Sunni rival for power in Islam.

It could not be writ more large and clear on the Obama years that he wanted the victory of Islam in its jihad against the rest of the world.

A nuclear armed Iran was the most likely to achieve that high objective.

Meanwhile Iran’s proxy, Hezbollah, now the ruling power in Lebanon, grows in strength and threatens the Arab states as well as Israel.

Iran and Hezbollah need to be disarmed – and that can only be done by force.

Posted under Arab States, Iran, Islam, Israel, jihad, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Treason, United States, War by Jillian Becker on Monday, December 18, 2017

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The stench of corruption 3

The Left has only one value: power. It does not value honesty, honor, probity, or truth itself.

During the disastrous government of the leftist Barack Obama, every government agency was corrupted, including – dangerously – the US intelligence services.

All  the perfumes of Arabia will not sweeten the reputations of Susan Rice, James Comey, John Brennan, and James Clapper. In fact, Islamic Arabia was one of the sources of the noxious moral filth they rolled in.

Victor Davis Hanson writes at American Greatness:

Rarely has an intelligence apparatus engaged in systematic lying — and chronic deceit about its lying — both during and even after its tenure. Yet the Obama Administration’s four top security and intelligence officials time and again engaged in untruth, as if peddling lies was part of their job descriptions.

So far none have been held accountable.

What the heck is Attorney-General Jeff Sessions doing? We conservatives who are not handicapped by the stricture of Christian forgiveness want revenge on the Obama leftist crooks. We looked to President Trump’s Department of Justice to deliver it to us. But we are not getting it.

Those exemptions are likely because, in hubristic fashion, all four assumed their service to progressive noble agendas would justify any odious means felt necessary to achieve them.

In part their liberal credentials were seen as guarantees that the media either would ignore or excuse their dissimulation. And in part, untruth was innate to them as lifelong and now seasoned Washington bureaucrats. Their reasons to be in Washington were largely a quest for media exposure, government sinecures, revolving door profiteering, and maintaining a host of subordinate toadies at their service. A harsh assessment, perhaps — but lying to the American people earns them such disdain.

Susan Rice’s lies:

Former Obama United Nations ambassador and National Security Advisor Susan Rice was rarely credible in any of her major public statements. Her dissimulation bordered on the pathological. Indeed, it went beyond even the demands put upon her for partisan spinning.

On five occasions, Rice lied to the media that the murder of Americans in Benghazi, Libya by al-Qaida affiliated-terrorists was a result of spontaneous rioting — in response to an obscure, rogue, and right-wing Coptic filmmaker. She later attributed such dissimulation to a lack of information, when we now know that the truth of Benghazi — and the larger landscape of events that ensured something like a Benghazi — were only too well known. The video was a canard.

Rice assured the nation that the AWOL and traitorous Bowe Bergdahl was a hostage taken during combat and had served nobly (“with honor and distinction”). In fact, the renegade Bergdahl likely was exchanged for terrorist prisoners for two reasons: one, to diminish the number of terrorists held at the Guantanamo Bay detention facility as promised by Obama during his campaign, and two, to highlight the humanitarian skills of Barack Obama in bringing home an American “hero”,  especially defined as one who was so loudly aware of his own country’s foibles.

Rice also assured the nation that her administration, through its diplomatic brilliance, had eliminated Bashar Assad’s arsenal of weapons of mass destruction. “We were able to get the Syrian government to voluntarily and verifiably give up its chemical-weapons stockpile,” she lied. That supposed coup was worth the price of inviting in the Russians to the Middle East after a 40-year hiatus.In fact, almost immediately after entering office, President Trump was forced to bomb Assad’s WMD depots to prevent Syria’s air force from dropping more nerve gas on civilians. 

Once House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) announced that key administration officials illegally might have unmasked and leaked the names of U.S. citizens on government intercepts connected to the Trump campaign and transition team, Rice issued a blanket denial (“I know nothing about this”). That assertion predictably was untrue, as Rice herself was forced to concede when she altered narratives to later justify rather than deny her role in such improper leaking.

Rice assured the nation there were no hidden side-deals in the Iran Deal, such as a prisoner-swap concession. “And we were very specific about the need not to link their fate to that of the negotiations, because we had no idea for certain whether negotiations would succeed or fail. We didn’t want to give the Iranians a bargaining chip to use against us in the negotiations,” she fibbed. In response, Americans knew almost immediately by her disavowals that there were quid pro quo hostage-prisoner trades that put the United States at a disadvantage.

Rice displayed an eerie habit of broadcasting her lies by preemptive denial that she was about to lie. In her case, the privileged Rice sometimes fell back on the boilerplate victimhood defense of racism and sexism. More likely, as with many Obama officials, she felt certain she could deceive with impunity out of contempt for the American non-elite and, like her associate Ben Rhodes, with full confidence in the obsequiousness and incompetence of the “know-nothing” media.

James Comey’s lies:

Former FBI Director James Comey long ago lost his carefully crafted Boy Scout image of a truth-teller, buffeted in a sea of Washington deception. Like Rice, when Comey signals he cannot lie or that others are lying, we know that his own duplicity is forthcoming. The list of his untruths and unprofessionalism is growing, as continuous disclosures cannot be synced with either his congressional testimony or his public statements.

Comey did not interview Hillary Clinton in his supposedly exhaustive investigation of her alleged crimes before he cleared her of any wrongdoing.

Comey did know of an FBI communications trail surrounding the stealthy June 2016 meeting of Obama Attorney General Loretta Lynch and former President Bill Clinton on a Phoenix tarmac.

Comey did accede to Lynch’s cover-up by altering the official nomenclature of the investigation to an innocuous “matter.”

Comey misled about the actual contents of Clinton confidante Huma Abedin’s email communications; the versions that he gave at various times and in different venues cannot be reconciled.

In his habitual lies of omission, Comey made no effort to correct a false public impression that he had helped foster and yet knew was a lie—namely that the FBI was investigating Trump on charges of Russian collusion at the very time he was assuring the president of just the opposite.

Comey was not fully candid about the full extent of his selective note-taking of a confidential conversation with the president; his use of government time and resources in preparing his carefully crafted notes; and his deliberately leaking his notes to the press in violation both of FBI protocols and likely the law as well.

Comey had obfuscated or masked the FBI’s role in the acquisition and dissemination of the infamous Steele-Fusion fake dossier. He was likely less than honest as well about his full knowledge of Obama administration reverse targeting, unmasking, and leaking related to U.S. citizens — both before and after the election.

Whereas Rice lied to cover up Obama Administration incompetence and to advance left-wing agendas that otherwise without deception would be unpalatable to most Americans, Comey dissembled to retain his job and his image of being a sensitive moral soul.

Comey’s self-inflicted tragedy was that he never quite knew whether Obama trusted him to keep out of Hillary Clinton’s scandals and would reward him accordingly; whether Hillary Clinton would implode amid provable felonies or would survive to become president and conduct the necessary retaliations; or whether Trump could be cajoled by Comey’s charm — or might implode and be removed, or settle down and become a powerful president worth serving.

Rather than telling the truth and thereby gaining a reputation even among his enemies as transparent and honest, Comey simply told the perceived stronger party of the day what it wished to hear in hopes of careerist gratitude to come.

John Brennan’s lies:

Similar was the serial lying of CIA Director John Brennan, before, during, and after his CIA tenure. Brennan had a weird habit of becoming outraged at any who quite accurately alleged that he was mendacious, such as when he deceived the Senate Intelligence Committee officials that he had never unlawfully surveilled the computers of particular U.S. senators and their staffs (e.g., “beyond the scope of reason in terms of what we would do”).

Brennan also misled Congress when he assured that U.S. drone strikes had not killed a single civilian — a preposterous claim that was widely and immediately recognized as deceptive before he was forced to backtrack and admit his untruth.

When the careerist George W. Bush-appointee Brennan sought to recalibrate for the incoming progressive Obama Administration, he ritually denounced what he had previously asserted under Bush.

Bush’s former National Counterterrorism Center Director Brennan almost immediately disowned his prior loud support for enhanced interrogation techniques once he saw a chance for continued employment with Obama.

Brennan also told a series of whoppers to establish his new politically correct bona fides, among them that jihad was “a legitimate tenet of Islam, meaning to purify oneself or one’s community”.  Tell that to the incinerated victims of self-proclaimed jihadist Mohammed Atta or those beheaded by ISIS.

In his third incarnation, as a post-election stalwart opponent to Donald Trump, the partisan former “nonpartisan” intelligence chief Brennan has publicly denied that U.S. intelligence agencies ever improperly surveilled and unmasked the identities of Trump campaign and transition officials.

Even on his last day of office, Brennan was still busy reviewing intelligence surveillance of U.S. citizens and later deceiving Congress about it.

His part in preparing the Benghazi talking points, and in the creation of the Russian collusion mythos, are still not known fully. Nor understood is his apparent background role in the rather strange and abrupt post-election resignation of his immediate predecessor David Petraeus.

James Clapper’s lies:

It is hard to mention Brennan without bookending the similar careerist trajectory of Obama’s former Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper.

Indeed, it is uncanny how Clapper emulated the Brennan model: the former Bush appointee reinventing himself as an Obama partisan after assuring the country that Saddam Hussein’s WMD depots were transferred to Syria; lying about the rise of ISIS and pressuring others in military intelligence to mimic his pre-planned deceptions; not being forthcoming about surveillance of the Trump campaign and transition; becoming a loud and partisan accuser of Trump’s supposed mendacities on cable television, while finding himself increasingly exposed at the center of the growing unmasking scandal.

If Brennan lied about surveilling U.S. senators and the drone program, Clapper, in turn, lied to Congress about the National Security Agency’s illegal monitoring of U.S. citizens.

If Brennan assured Americans that jihadism was not a violent effort to spread radical Islam, Clapper topped that by assuring Congress that the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood was “largely secular”.

Rice is bad, but Comey, Brennan and Clapper are worse:

The deceptions of Comey, Brennan, and Clapper are perhaps far more disturbing than the partisan untruths of Susan Rice, a chronic political appointee who calibrated her national security fictions with Obama’s efforts to ensure reelection and later a presidential legacy.

But what extenuating excuse do the supposedly nonpartisan trio of intelligence and investigative directors offer?

They would like us to believe that only their nonpartisanship ensured subsequent tenures with the Obama Administration. In fact, their willingness to reinvent themselves and deceive were precisely why Obama retained and promoted them as sufficiently malleable and useful careerists—and why their post-government careers are today characteristically partisan and deceptive.

Government bipartisan intelligence service … was supposed to be an atoll of professionalism and honesty in a sea of political narrative fiction.

In truth, Obama used Rice as a political hatchet-woman masquerading as an elite thinker and strategist. Clapper, Brennan, and Comey were partisan careerists playacting as disinterested public servants sworn to put our security above politics.

Instead, they said what was necessary for their own agendas and so naturally too often what they peddled was simply untrue. And it is now not surprising that all three ended up orphaned and discredited — once their obsequious utility to their masters was exhausted.

The FBI under Obama had the duty to investigate the criminal activities of Hillary Clinton and give the evidence against her to the Department of Justice so that she would be prosecuted. Instead the FBI under James Comey exonerated her.

For that, James Comey himself needs to be investigated, and the evidence against him given to President Trump’s Department of Justice so that he will be prosecuted.

But will he be investigated? Will he be prosecuted?

Are any efforts being made by the Trump administration to dispel the stench of corruption?

Will Susan Rice ever have to answer for her offenses? Or John Brennan? Or James Clapper? To name just a few of the many Obama toadies who broke the law and lied to the American people.

If not now, when?

Is the Swamp swallowing Trump? (2) 1

We continue our discussion, started in the post immediately below, of the Swamp swallowing President Trump, now looking at changes in his avowed foreign policy towards Israel, Egypt, Iran and North Korea.

This is from an article by Ryan Mauro at Clarion Project:

Israel and its supporters in the West are seeing danger signs coming from parts of the Trump Administration. Since taking office, the camp that views Israel as a liability and “root cause” of Islamic extremism has been gaining ground. That camp is at odds with those who view the Islamist ideology as the root cause and believes it must be defeated for there to be peace in the Middle East.

The biggest danger sign for America’s best ally in the Middle East came with the recent release of the State Department’s annual Country Reports on Terrorism. It blamed Israel for sparking terrorism while applauding the Palestinian Authority’s counter-extremism efforts.

The report frames Palestinian terrorism as a response to Israeli misconduct, with no attribution to an Islamist ideology or culture with a genocidal desire to wipe Israel off the map. Palestinian terrorism is essentially presented as a form of “resistance” motivated by legitimate grievances against Israeli actions. In other words, the terrorists are misguided freedom fighters.

The identified “continued drivers of violence” are listed as a “lack of hope in achieving Palestinian statehood, Israeli settlement construction in the West Bank, settler violence against Palestinians in the West Bank, the perception that the Israeli government was changing the status quo on the Haram Al Sharif/Temple Mount, and IDF tactics that the Palestinians considered overly aggressive.” The treatment of the Palestinian Authority, on the other hand, was mostly positive. The report lauded its efforts in combating extremism and claimed that it had minimized the incitement of violence by Palestinian Authority officials and institutions. It went so far as to say that incitement is now “rare” and “the leadership does not generally tolerate it.”

The State Department report undermines President Trump’s position on Israel.

The report by Tillerson’s State Department is even more hostile to Israel than the one issued under [Obama’s Secretary of State] Kerry, who furiously blasted Israel on his way out of office.

In fact, the State Department report spends more time assigning blame for terrorism to Israel than to Qatar, a massive sponsor of terrorism and extremism. One cannot help but wonder if Tillerson’s pro-Qatar position and business ties to the Qatari regime had something to do with it.

While the State Department plans a 28% cut in foreign aid to places around the world, State is planning to increase its aid to the Palestinian Authority.

State Department documents leaked to the media in April show it plans a 4.6% increase to the West Bank run by the terrorism-inciting Palestinian Authority and the Gaza Strip run by Hamas. A total of $215 million in aid is allotted for 2018.

The Palestinian Authority uses half of the foreign aid it receives to sponsor terrorism. It is increasing its compensation for terrorists in Israeli prisons by 13% and its financial aid to families of killed terrorists by 4%. The total amount of these two allotments is $344 million. …

On June 1, the Trump Administration backtracked on his vow to move the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, at least for the time being. No firm commitment to moving the embassy was made, despite Trump’s campaign promise.

Secretary Tillerson’s influence is widely seen as being responsible for the flip-flop. In May, Tillerson set off alarm bells for friends of Israel by refusing to commit to fulfilling Trump’s campaign pledge. He said that Trump’s promise has to be weighed against the considerations of the parties involved in the peace process. 

The “peace process” that has never advanced one inch towards peace and never could, but has become a ritual ceremony with implications of mysterious magical potency that will produce a sweet splendor at the end of days when a trumpet shall sound, and is not seriously expected by anyone ever to produce a result in reality.

In other words, Tillerson would rather upset Trump’s voters whom he made the promise to than upset Israel’s enemies, who are also America’s enemies.

Tillerson makes it sound as if an Arab government that genuinely gave up its genocidal ambitions would resurrect its genocidal ambitions because of where an American diplomatic facility is positioned. If that’s all it takes to trigger an Arab regime into a genocidal frenzy, then that regime was never truly interested in peace in the first place.

There are also danger signs in the staffing of the State Department.

In June, Tillerson appointed Yael Lempert as the Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary for Egypt and the Maghreb. According to her bio, she was previously in the Obama Administration’s National Security Council from 2014 to May 2017, serving as the Senior Director for the Levant, Israel and Egypt and a Special Assistant to President Obama.

This means that Tillerson’s high-level appointee served as an official involved in the tension between the U.S. and Israel that reached its peak as the Obama Administration came to an end. She also was centrally involved in the Obama Administration’s policy towards Egypt that favored the Muslim Brotherhood.

One report quoted a former Clinton official as saying:

Lempert is considered one of the harshest critics of Israel on the foreign policy far left. From her position on the Obama NSC, she helped manufacture crisis after crisis in a relentless effort to portray Israel negatively and diminish the breadth and depth of our alliance. Most Democrats in town know better than to let her manage Middle East affairs. It looks like the Trump administration has no idea who she is or how hostile she is to the U.S.-Israel relationship.

In December 2014, when Lempert was on the Obama Administration’s National Security Council, she met with anti-Israel activist Michael Sfard. He has been paid by the Palestinian Authority to act as an expert witness in terrorism trials in its defense. He also works in an organization that seeks to put Israeli officials and soldiers on trial for war crimes.

Under Trump, Lempert was involved in putting pressure on Israel to suspend its settlement construction.

Another State Department official to watch is Michael Sfard, who was Secretary of State John Kerry’s consul to Jerusalem. In March, Jordan Schachtel broke the story that Tillerson appeared to have chosen Ratney to oversee the Israeli-Palestinian portfolio.

Ratney is currently the Special Envoy for Syria, so his reassignment either hasn’t happened yet or the administration has changed its mind. He is, however, currently involved in talks with Israel regarding Syria for the Trump Administration.

National Security Adviser General H.R. McMaster was asked twice whether the Western Wall is part of Israel and he refused to answer. He replied, “That’s a policy decision”. 

The peculiar non-answer appears significant in light of how the National Security Council is being staffed as McMaster shapes the office to his liking.

Kris Bauman was chosen in May as the top adviser on Israel for the National Security Council. Tellingly, the person he was replacing was the aforementioned Yael Lempert.

Daniel Greenfield reviewed Bauman’s 2009 dissertation and found highly disturbing content.

He blamed Israel and the West for failing to see “Hamas’s signals of willingness to moderate” and turning Gaza “into an open-air prison” instead of engaging Hamas. He advocated a policy that includes “Hamas in a solution,” dismissing Hamas’ oft-stated pledge to destroy Israel and kill Jews

Bauman cites The Israel Lobby, a book that purports to disclose how Israel secretly manipulates the U.S. institutions of power from behind-the-scenes. He says the Israel Lobby “is a force that must be reckoned with, but it is a force that can be reckoned with.”

Bauman  … blames the peace process for failing on Israel and the West because each offer “overwhelmingly favored Israeli interests.” Prime Minister Netanyahu is blamed for “inciting Palestinian violence” and deliberately undermining the prospects for peace.

A consistent theme appears in Bauman’s thesis: Israel is the instigator of terrorism. To defeat terrorism, stop Israel. And now he is in a strong position in the National Security Council to try to make that happen.

A cut in aid to Egypt must have been Tillerson’s decision, again apparently out of harmony with President Trump’s preference. (We are against all foreign aid, but if it’s going to be handed out, Egypt under President al-Sisi is a far worthier recipient than the Palestinian Authority which uses it to pay Hamas and imprisoned terrorists.) President Trump is friendly towards al-Sisi –  for the right reasons, that he is against the Muslim Brotherhood – the major jihad promoters whom Tillerson is strongly for! Trump spoke to al-Sisi to re-affirm their friendship, after Tillerson and Jared Kushner had completed their awkward visit to Egypt  and moved on to disturb and dismay the Israelis.

On North Korea, Tillerson contradicts Trump on US policy.

Vox reports:

On Tuesday, President Donald Trump said North Korean threats to respond to a US strike with nuclear weapons “will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen,” rhetoric that no previous American president has ever used with North Korea. On Wednesday, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson tried to cool things down, saying “nothing that I have seen and nothing that I know of would indicate that the situation has dramatically changed in the last 24 hours”.

“Americans,” the secretary said, “should sleep well.”

That soothing rhetoric lasted all of a day. On Thursday, top Trump aide Sebastian Gorka said … that Tillerson was not actually speaking for White House. Trump’s threats, Gorka said, were deadly serious.

“You should listen to the president,” Gorka said. “The idea that Secretary Tillerson is going to discuss military matters is simply nonsensical.”

Gorka got major reinforcement later in the day from President Trump, who said that his past statement “maybe wasn’t tough enough.”

But Gorka is gone from the White House and Tillerson remains.

On Iran, Tillerson has maneuvered the President into keeping the unsigned agreement that Obama made with that evil regime; the “deal” that allows the mullahs to become a nuclear armed power after a few years. Candidate Trump promised during his campaign for the presidency that he would dismantle it. He has re-certified it, albeit with reluctance.

To be continued …   

A European vision of ISIS as the new utopia 8

Europe – a term that sometime includes Britain and sometimes does not, and this time does – has gone much further towards voluntary dhimmitude, or even (yikes!) mass conversion to Islam, than pessimistic observers such as ourselves had imagined possible until now.

Dhimmitude? Conversion to Islam? Actually, there is something even worse, and to that European eyes are lifting in rapture.

It is now acceptable to present a TV series that promotes – not just Islam, no … wait for it … ISIS as an ideal society.

Yes, truly. It just happened in Britain.

It’s not acceptable to everyone as this review of the offering by a sane and civilized critic, Christopher Stevens, for the Daily Mail shows:

Pure poison … it’s like a Nazi recruiting film from the 1930s

The State

Channel 4

A really super-cool club. That’s how a young black British doctor describes Islamic State [ISIS] in tonight’s episode of The State, her eyes shining as she records a YouTube message urging other young women to follow her example and defect to Syria.

‘A really super-cool club.’ There’s no irony in her voice. Dr Shakira Boothe (played by Ony Uhiara) is a single mother from London who claims to be part of the first generation of Muslims building a religious paradise on earth.

This, then, is how Channel 4, a publicly owned British broadcaster, depicts Islamic State five days after a terrorist attack in Barcelona that killed more than a dozen people – during a year that has seen British children killed by a suicide bomber at a Manchester pop concert.

Do not assume that the true nature of the Islamic State is concealed, its terrible tortures and appalling executions kept off the screen. No. The atrocities are a feature, a vital part of what commends ISIS as an ideal.

A four-part drama screening on consecutive nights, The State is supposedly based on real events in Syria and Iraq, seen from the viewpoint of several British recruits who fled their homes to join the jihad or Holy War. It showcases graphic footage of torture and dismemberment.

The second episode tonight includes an appallingly callous tableau of dead babies in an incubator ward, after a bomb strike on a hospital.

It is sickening. But it isn’t the gore and scattered limbs that leave a tight knot in the stomach: it is the moist-eyed adulation as The State pleads with us not just to sympathise with the British jihadis but to love them. All the women are elegant but strong – independent heroines making a positive choice to sacrifice their freedom for the sake of their pious religious convictions. Joans of Arc, every one. All the men are sensitive and soft-spoken – driven to fight in God’s army for their love of their families. Everyone is deeply intelligent and multi-lingual, with extensive knowledge of the Koran.

And they are all ridiculously good-looking of course, with the occasional Poldark moment for the boys as they strip off their uniforms to reveal waxed chests with moulded six-packs. The soundtrack is all swelling orchestras and throbbing drums, with moments of sad Spanish guitar when a character dies.

No one will be surprised to discover that the writer and director of The State, Peter Kosminsky, is not a veteran of the civil war in Syria. He did not carry out research missions to Raqqa and Aleppo.

In fact, middle-class film-maker Kosminsky is 61 years old and Oxbridge-educated, the epitome of the London media luvvie who is desperate to demonstrate that he is less racist than anyone else at his Hampstead dinner party. …

The dialogue of The State gives him away at every moment. It’s Dad-speak, a middle-aged man’s failed effort to sound ‘down with the kids’, which parrots comical slang last used in the 1970s by the Bay City Rollers – words such as ‘super-cool’.

In tonight’s opening scene, one fighter waves his AK47 and shouts: ‘This is better than flipping burgers!’ It’s meant to be a victory shout – but instead, the line is fake, patronising and, in its assumption that well-educated British Asians like him are destined to work at McDonald’s, dismissively racist.

Kosminsky’s dead ear for dialogue is matched by his inability to smell out lies. Because all the scenes are based on second-hand research, they mirror the propaganda videos that cascade on to the internet, showing life under Sharia law. Much of the series consists of the director’s attempts to capture the camera angles common in phone videos of battlefields and marketplaces.

It’s baffling that a man who knows how the television world works … seems blind to the crass manipulation of Islamic State’s official videos. Kosminsky believes that the choreographed beheadings and the carefully curated aftermath of bombings are true and accurate depictions of ISIS life.

For fear of imposing his own opinions on viewers (good liberals never do that) he offers no comment on the medieval morality of Islamic State. Racism is endemic: the leading characters soon learn to sneer openly at the pathetic white fighters, who are mostly fat, tearful, closet homosexuals.

All of the characters have left their homes without saying goodbye to their parents, though Kosminsky is at pains to point out that this doesn’t mean they are ungrateful or unloving – it’s just that they didn’t dare risk alerting the forces of government oppression.

The men practise dismantling their assault rifles with their eyes shut, and learn the basics of misogyny: ‘A woman in this life is defective!’

And when the bomb strikes that baby ward, there is no hint that any blame lies with the ISIS cowards using the hospital as their shield. If anything, the fault is with the unseen hand, presumably American, that fired the missile. The only explanation for the characters’ betrayal of Britain is summed up in one line: ‘I ain’t never going back to that kuffar dump, bruv.’ Kuffar, as the constant scroll of Arabic dictionary definitions tells us, means dirty, foreign and unholy.

ISIS is a death cult, and the new recruits are expected by their commanders to die quickly and needlessly. But even if the idealistic characters we met last night are killed off later this week, that does not affect the message of the first two episodes. Many people will watch only the first hour or two, and it’s the initial impressions that count for most. Kosminsky cannot be incapable of understanding how most viewers will regard his perverted vision of ISIS. But he only cares about the opinions of his peers in a deluded bubble. Any decent human being, anyone who has felt despair and heartbreak at the terrorist attacks sponsored by Islamic State, will feel nothing but revulsion for his characters. They are traitors to their families and friends. Society has provided so much entertainment and education to enrich their lives, and they are turning all of it to the most evil uses.

But what if  the “deluded bubble” he lives in includes the entire international Left as well as most of 1.5 or so billion Muslims?

The State is no sort of truthful drama, as it claims to be. This is a recruitment video to rival Nazi propaganda of the Thirties calling young men to join the Brownshirts.

Kosminsky celebrates the camaraderie and sense of purpose that he imagines to be the fuel of ISIS. …

Every frame of this film is a lie. It is poison.

It is poison offered to millions of viewers in Britain and beyond. The decision makers at Channel 4 surely approved it for screening in expectation of its having mass appeal. It is quite likely to be shown in many other countries, including America.

Our civilization is moribund. Too many among us believe that no lives matter; that life itself, human existence, does not matter.

But against what is it measured? There is nothing to compare it with. There is nothing else. Out there is a universe of data, incoherent without the human consciousness to order it and invest it with value and meaning.

And if Western man is giving himself over to a cult of cruelty and death, perhaps the human species is after all an evolutionary failure.

Posted under Arab States, Britain, Ethics, Europe, Islam, jihad, middle east, Muslims, United Kingdom by Jillian Becker on Wednesday, August 23, 2017

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