Archive for March 6, 2017

Russian Roulette

March 6, 2017

Russian Roulette, PJ MediaRoger Kimball, March 6, 2017

(Rex Features via AP Images)

It may be about time to add a new chapter to Charles Mackay’s Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds. Mackey dilated on scams like the South Sea Bubble and wild speculations like Tulipmania in 17th century Holland, when a single tulip bulb could sell for more than a mansion.

There was the distinct aroma of fraudulence, abetted by naïveté, about most of the enterprises Mackay described. And so it is with the new chapter I am proposing. It might be called “Russian Roulette.” I am thinking not of the messy game with a revolver, but rather the insinuation sweepstakes currently being deployed against Donald Trump by the Democrats and their pets in the media.

Since the game is still in process, we cannot quite finish the chapter. But we know how it starts. It starts with groundless accusations that Donald Trump and/or his surrogates somehow “colluded,” had illicit ties with, the Russians. Maybe he helped them “hack the election.” Maybe he is Putin’s puppet. We don’t quite know. But this calls for a “special prosecutor” (even though such a thing doesn’t exist), a criminal investigation, the impeachment or at least the delegitimization of Donald Trump and all his works.

Last week, Holman Jenkins had an excellent, sobering-up piece on the Left’s “Putin Fantasies.” He quickly dispatches all the usual suspects: Paul Manafort, Roger Cohen, Carter Page, et al. He quotes “veteran foreign correspondent Susan B. Glasser,” who treats readers of the New York Times to this breathless animadversion:

Mr. Trump’s rhetoric and actions as president bear more than a passing resemblance to those of Mr. Putin during his first years consolidating power. The similarities are striking enough that they should not be easily dismissed.

Oh, yes: “The similarities are indeed striking,” Jenkins observes. “Mr. Putin and Mr. Trump both have arms and legs. When it comes to distinguishing noise from signal, however, two men could not be less alike”:

Russia was a country in chaos. Its president was a drunk seeking a successor to protect his daughter and friends from corruption investigations. Mr. Putin, a former KGB agent and head of the secret police, ran one of the few, after a fashion, functioning institutions in Russia, albeit arm in arm with organized crime.

Mr. Trump’s rise couldn’t be more different. He’s a reality TV star and brand manager. To an unusual degree, he’s a president who lacks even a party. Meanwhile, the courts, the bureaucracy, the media, the political parties all continue to function as they always have.

“Striking similarities” underwritten by categorical differences.

No, when it comes to this new game of Russian Roulette, Ted Cruz got it right: it is a “nothingburger.”

Well, not quite nothing. So far, there is no evidence of malfeasance, of anything improper or illegal. But there is plenty of anchorless animus directed at Trump by the Democrats and their media pets. So far, it amounts to what William Jacobson at Legal Insurrection has called “The fact-free Intelligence Community-Media trial of Trump by innuendo.”

Here’s how it works.  You start with a lurid — but totally unsubstantiated — allegation. To wit: Senator Chris Coons (D., natch) to Dem. pet Andrea Mitchell March 3:

There are transcripts that provide very helpful, very critical insight into whether or not Russian intelligence and Senior Russian leaders, including Vladimir Putin, um, were cooperating, were colluding, with the Trump campaign at the highest levels to influence our election.

Yikes! Transcripts and evidence of collusion at the highest levels to influence our election. Andrea Mitchell sure liked that:

Actually, it’s holy smoke and mirrors.

On March 3 it was “transcripts,” Russians “colluding” with the Trump campaign “at the highest levels to influence our election.” But by March 5 it was “I have no hard evidence of collusion.

No “hard” evidence, of course, means no evidence of any kind.

I adduce the example of Chris Coons, but remarks by Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer, et al. — not to mention the yapping of any of the pack of chihuahuas that is the Democratic pocket press — would do just as well.

Take a damaging allegation: the infamous “dossier” against Trump, for example. It doesn’t make any difference that it is totally unsubstantiated. Just run with it.

All Democratic outlets — CNN, MSNBC, Washington Post, New York Times — echo it. Is it untrue? Doesn’t matter. It might still have the desired effect of undermining public confidence in Trump even if it is eventually exploded.

But what if you are Donald Trump? Well, that’s different. Let’s say you make allegations that the Obama administration conducted surveillance against you in the final months and weeks of the election.

Not so fast! Where’s your proof?

Actually, there’s plenty of proof. Andy McCarthy noted a few days ago:

[T]he Obama Justice Department and the FBI sought FISA warrants against Trump insiders, and potentially against Donald Trump himself, during the last months and weeks of the presidential campaign.

Even the New York Times admitted as much, if inadvertently, in a story about various investigations in Trump’s alleged “Russia ties”:

The investigators have accelerated their efforts in recent weeks buthave found no conclusive evidence of wrongdoing, the officials said. One official said intelligence reports based on some of the wiretapped communications had been provided to the White House.

Just to parse that a bit: by “no conclusive evidence” the Times means the same thing that Senator Coons meant by “no hard evidence,” i.e., no evidence at all.

And although Nancy Pelosi responded to Trump’s allegation that Trump Tower had been secretly wiretapped by saying “We don’t do that,” it turns out, as the Times acknowledges, that they do.

Holman Jenkins noted in passing that Donald Trump is “a reality TV star and brand manager.” That’s right. He’s cut from a different bolt of cloth than the Democratic (and most of the Republican) confraternity. That’s one reason they so despise him.

Another, and deeper, reason is this: If Donald Trump is successful in draining the swamp of Washington, D.C., if he can effectively take on the unions, secure our Southern border, cut wasteful regulation, neuter the EPA, substantially dismantle the administrative state, and achieve 3-4% growth, all of those swamp creatures will be out of a habitat.

In other words, Trump represents an existential threat to their way of life. Hence their angry and hysterical war against him. Mostly, it is true, their attacks are self-refuting. But make no mistake. The Left is out to cripple Trump.

As I said in this space Saturday, he needs to fight back, and hard. The Left has declared war on Donald Trump. I am glad to see that he has woken up to that fact and is responding in kind.

The European Left’s Israel-Hate

March 6, 2017

The European Left’s Israel-Hate, Front Page Magazine, Joseph Puder, March 6, 2017

There seems to be a conundrum in Israel with regards to European nationalist parties. Top level officials at Israel’s Foreign Ministry are determined to continue the boycott of right-wing European parties, whether or not they have distanced themselves from anti-Semitism or are pro-Israel.  Yet, in a recent Likud party faction meeting in the Knesset (Israeli parliament), the question was asked of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who serves as Foreign Minister as well, why officials of the Foreign Ministry are preventing Likud MP’s from meeting with leaders of pro-Israel European nationalist parties such as Heinz-Christian (HC) Strache, leader of the Freedom Party of Austria (FPO), and to a much lesser extent with Geert Wilders, the leader of the Netherlands Freedom Party, and one of Israel’s foremost advocates.  Both Geert Wilders and HC Strache have a good chance to become prime ministers of their respective countries, and both are staunch supporters of the Jewish state.

What seems to be inexplicable is why Israel’s Foreign Ministry is willing to boycott pro-Israel right-wing parties, but not the anti-Israel European leftist parties. True, the Austrian Freedom party was once led by a neo-Nazi named Jörg Haider who had a long public record of defending the policies of Nazi Germany and of justifying individual actions during those years.  That however, is not true about its current leader, HC Strache, who took over leadership of the party in 2005.

In commemoration of the International Holocaust Day in January, Strache wrote a letter to PM Netanyahu saying: “Today, my colleagues and I bend our heads down with respect for the memory of the Six Million Jews murdered by the Nazis during the Shoah.”  He added that this was the most horrific crime in the history of humanity.  He also wrote that as a lesson from the Shoah (Holocaust) it is imperative to wage war against all manifestations of anti-Semitism, and that “anti-Zionism and anti-Israelism is no different from anti-Semitism.”

Strache expressed his position on the Israeli-Palestinian issue, saying that “Any peace agreement must include security arrangements that will insure Israel’s security and well-being.” He quoted the late Israeli Foreign Minister Abba Eban who described the “Green Line” as “Auschwitz Borders.”  Strache has visited Israel many times and especially Yad Vashem, Israel’s Holocaust Memorial, and promises to do everything in his power to help Israel.

It would be wrong to assume that all right-wing nationalist parties in Europe have suddenly become pro-Israel and are rejecting anti-Semitism.  Hungary and Greece are a case in point.  The right-wing Jobbik party describes itself as a principled conservative and radically patriotic party whose fundamental purpose is protection of Hungarian values and interests. Jobbik, the third largest party in the Hungarian parliament, rejects global capitalism, European integration, and Zionism.  Greece’s Golden Dawn party is a far-right nationalist political party led by Nikolaos Michaloliakos, who described his party as “racist.”

Left-wing parties in Europe have pressed for boycotts of Israel over the alleged treatment of Palestinians.  In numerous EU countries, the left-wing parties and socialists in general are allied with Muslim radical interests groups in their countries.  In France, the socialist party and its leftist allies led the way toward a parliamentary recognition of a Palestinian state.  In Sweden, it is also the socialist leftists’ government being the first western state to recognize Palestine.

In Britain, the leftist Labor Party has been in the news over anti-Semitism pervading its leadership and rank and file, and its party leader Jeremy Corbyn is well known for his pro-Palestinian stance.  Britain’s leftist Labor Party has empowered the far left for whom support for the Palestinians is uncritical. Unfortunately, the words, “That which the demonological Jew once was, demonological Israel now is” expressed by British political theorist Alan Johnson, ring true.

Roger Cohen, writing in the New York Times (March 7, 2016) about the leftist anti-Semitism in the guise of anti-Zionism, suggested that, “What is striking about the anti-Zionism derangement syndrome that spills over into anti-Semitism is its ahistorical nature.  It denies the long Jewish presence in, and bond with the Holy Land.  It disregards the fundamental link between murderous European anti-Semitism and the decision of surviving Jews to embrace Zionism in the conviction that only a Jewish homeland could keep them safe. It dismisses the legal basis for the modern Jewish state in the United Nations Resolution 181 of 1947. This is not “colonialism” but post-Holocaust will of the world: Arab armies went to war against it and lost.”

Alan Johnson, writing in Fathom Journal, outlined three components to left-wing anti-Semitic anti-Zionism. First, “the abolition of the Jewish homeland; not Palestine alongside Israel, but Palestine instead of Israel.” Second, “a demonizing intellectual discourse” holds that “Zionism is racism” and pursues the “systematic Nazification of Israel.” Third, a global social movement to “exclude one state — and only one state — from the economic, cultural and educational life of humanity.”

Nigel Farage, leader of the United Kingdom Independent Party (UKIP) pointed out in December, 2014, that, “what is fueling the rise of anti-Semitism in the UK and across the EU (European Union) is that there are many more Muslim voices, some of them are deeply critical of Israel, some of them question Israel’s right to exist.”  Ostensibly, there is an unholy alliance between the European political-left and radical Muslims.

The European political-left has been calling for unlimited immigration, and for a post-national world, using the slogan “united in diversity.”  Islamic terrorism throughout Europe has not fazed them in any way.  They also never liked Jews in particular, so it was natural for them to work together with local Muslim communities and the Arab states.

The Israeli Foreign Ministry must carefully consider its friends and foes, and the time has come to welcome Israel’s friends in Europe, especially individuals and parties such as Geert Wilders and his Freedom Party for the Netherlands.  Wilders said about Israel, “I have visited many countries in the Middle East from Syria to Egypt, from Tunisia to Turkey, but nowhere did I have a special feeling of solidarity that I always get when I land at the Ben Gurion International Airport.”

Wilders has told Dutch audiences that, “We in the West are all Israel,” and he called Israel “The first line of defense” against what he perceived to be a threat posed by Islam.  He also stated that “Jordan is Palestine” echoing Ariel Sharon’s longtime slogan.  He advised Israel to ignore the recent anti-Israel UN Resolution 2334.

Contrast that with the leftist Labor Party leader Jeremy Corbyn’s anti-Israel rants.  BBC-News reported on July 1, 2016 that “Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has been accused by the Chief Rabbi of making offensive comments at the launch of a Labour party probe into anti-Semitism.”  The former Chief Rabbi of Britain, Lord Jonathan Sacks said Corbyn appeared to compare the State of Israel to the so-called Islamic State (IS), calling it “demonization of the highest order, an outrage and unacceptable.”  Rabbi Sacks added, “The comments showed how deep the sickness is in parts of the left of British politics today.”

Israel today can no longer find friends in Europe’s political-left; it must therefore embrace the honest friends it has on the European political right.

US armored column at Manbij to block Russians

March 6, 2017

US armored column at Manbij to block Russians, DEBKAfile, March 6, 2017

But now, as Russian units geared up to enter Manjib, the Trump administration warned Russian President Vladimir Putin that if they did move in, they would face American forces.

The Trump administration has thus taken its first direct military action in Syria to cut off the expansion of Russian forces in the North.

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The Pentagon announced Tuesday, March 6, that a US armored convoy was deployed around the disputed northern Syrian town of Manbij, and in an unusual move, released a video depicting the convoy and its men.

A US military spokesman tweeted that the US deployment was a deliberate action taken to assure that forces within the US-led coalition deterred aggression and kept the focus on defeating ISIS.

Affirming that the US-led coalition was aware of the location of Russian-backed Syrian forces, Pentagon spokesman Captain Jeff Davis told reporters Monday.

“They are certainly aware of where we are, and we are aware of where they are. There is no intention between the two of there being any conflict against any party other than ISIS.”

DEBKAfile’s military sources report that the US armored force landed in the middle of a complicated crisis around the important town of Manjib, ever since a mixed Kurdish-Syrian Arab force captured it from ISIS last year with US air and military support.

A few days ago, the Kurdish YPG militia handed over some of the villages and military positions around the town to Russian and Syrian army units, as we revealed in an article (Monday, March 5) on ramped-up Russian-Iranian military cooperation in Syria, in the absence of American moves.

But now, as Russian units geared up to enter Manjib, the Trump administration warned Russian President Vladimir Putin that if they did move in, they would face American forces.

The Trump administration has thus taken its first direct military action in Syria to cut off the expansion of Russian forces in the North.

Our military sources reveal that the Russian units assigned to Manjib consist mainly of a Chechen commando brigade brought over by Moscow three months ago.

Our sources added:  Tuesday afternoon, President Donald Trump phoned Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu while he was being questioned by the police at his residence. That call almost certainly dealt with the possibility of a US-Russian military clash in Manjib, two days before Netanyahu sets out of Moscow for talks with the Russian president.

Full Measure: Sunday, March 5, 2017: War on ISIS

March 6, 2017

Full Measure: Sunday, March 5, 2017: War on ISIS via YouTube, March 6, 2017

 

Arab Foreign Ministers Discuss Blocking U.S. Embassy Move to Jerusalem

March 6, 2017

Arab Foreign Ministers Discuss Blocking U.S. Embassy Move to Jerusalem, BreitbartDeborah Danan, March 6, 2017

(There have been credible reports that, when PM Netanyahu met with President Trump, he asked Trump to delay his largely symbolic move of the American embassy to Jerusalem because an otherwise likely and more important agreement with the Arab nations on combatting Iran’s involvement in their spheres of influence could well be jeopardized. — DM)

JACK GUEZ/AFP/Getty Images

TEL AVIV – Ahead of the Arab League Summit later this month, foreign ministers of member states gathered in Cairo on Sunday and Monday to discuss how to prevent President Donald Trump from going through with his promise to move the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, the Hebrew news site nrg reported.

The “Palestinian issue,” along with the embassy move to “occupied Jerusalem,” were among 28 items on the agenda, according to a press release from the Arab League’s Deputy Secretary-General Ahmed Bin Hali.

In January, the League’s Assistant Secretary-General for Palestinian Affairs Said Abu Ali urged Trump to “reconsider” the embassy move or else the U.S. will be in danger of losing its status “as an objective sponsor of the peace process.”

Bin Hali said that another item to be discussed by representatives of member states is the “Arab League’s plan to curb the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East.” He added that ahead of the summit in Jordan on March 23, the representatives will discuss the terrorism spreading in the Arab world, and the role of Turkey and Iran in regional conflicts.

Bin Hali also told reporters that Iran’s meddling in other states’ affairs must be stopped and that the member states of the Arab League must view this, as well as Tehran’s nuclear aspirations, as a shared interest. According to Bin Hali, the lack of a “unified stance” on the part of Arab world was its biggest problem.

He said that despite efforts to that end, “there are still Arab officials who remain divisive and who seek to provoke tension in relations between Arab states.”

“We are all in the same boat. We are all affected by the regional security issues and therefore we must work towards resolving our internal strife,” he added.

CIA, DOJ Sued Over Leaks of Classified Info About Former NSA Flynn

March 6, 2017

CIA, DOJ Sued Over Leaks of Classified Info About Former NSA Flynn, Washinton Free Beacon, March 6, 2017

(Here’s a link to the Judicial Watch press release on the suit. — DM)

The CIA and Departments of Justice and Treasury are being sued by a prominent legal organization for their role in leaking highly classified material as part of an effort to undermine the credibility of former Trump administration national security adviser Michael Flynn, according to an announcement.

Judicial Watch, known for its role in exposing former secretary of state Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server, announced on Monday that it has sued several federal agencies for information related to Flynn’s discussions with Russian officials before he officially entered the White House.

Flynn was forced to resign from the White House for apparently misleading President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence about the substance of these conversations.

However, the Washington Free Beacon and multiple other news outlets have reported on a campaign by former Obama administration officials and loyalists to spread highly classified information in a bid to handicap the Trump administration.

In addition to Flynn, Attorney General Jeff Sessions and White House adviser Sebastian Gorka have been the subject of multiple leaks aimed at jeopardizing their positions in the administration.

Judicial Watch sued multiple agencies after they failed to respond to Freedom of Information Act requests, which must legally be handled by these agencies in a timely fashion.

The lawsuit moved to unearth “any and all records regarding, concerning, or related to the investigation of retired Gen. Michael Flynn’s communications with Russian Ambassador to the United States Sergey Kislyak between October 1, 2016 and the present,” according to a statement by Judicial Watch.

“In its complaint Judicial Watch asks the court to order the agencies to search for all records responsive to its FOIA requests and demonstrate that they employed reasonable search methods; order the agencies to produce by a specific date all non-exempt records and a Vaughn index of all withheld records; and instruct the agencies to cease withholding all non-exempt records,” the organization explained in its statement.

Cartoons and Video of the Day

March 6, 2017

JoeDanMedia via YouTube

 

H/t Vermont Loon Watch

 

H/t Freedom is Just Another Word