Archive for March 17, 2017

‘You Are Europe’s Future’: Erdogan Tells Turks in Europe Have Five Kids, Not Three

March 17, 2017

‘You Are Europe’s Future’: Erdogan Tells Turks in Europe Have Five Kids, Not Three, Breitbart, March 17, 2017

(Please see also, King: “we can’t restore our civilisation with someone else’s babies” — DM)

Pakistani students of the Pak-Turk International school chant slogans during a protest against the deportation of their teachers, in Islamabad, Pakistan, Friday, Nov. 18, 2016.  (AP Photo/Anjum Naveed)

ANKARA (AFP) – President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Friday urged Turks resident in Europe to have five children, telling the millions strong diaspora community “you are Europe’s future.”

Turkey and Europe are locked in a bitter spat after Germany and the Netherlands blocked Turkish ministers from holding rallies to campaign for a ‘yes’ vote in next month’s referendum on expanding Erdogan’s powers.

Erdogan has repeatedly accused EU states of behaving like Nazi Germany over what he sees as discrimination against Turks, in comments that have caused outrage across the continent.

“From here I say to my citizens, I say to my brothers and sisters in Europe… Educate your children at better schools, make sure your family live in better areas, drive in the best cars, live in the best houses,” said Erdogan.

“Have five children, not three. You are Europe’s future.”

“This is the best answer to the rudeness shown to you, the enmity, the wrongs,” he added in a televised speech in the city of Eskisehir, south of Istanbul.

Some 2.5 million Turkish citizens resident in Europe are eligible to vote in elections in their homeland. But millions more people living in EU states have Turkish origins.

Erdogan, a father of four, has previously urged women in Turkey to have at least three children to help boost the population, in comments denounced by women’s rights activists.

Leon Panetta enters the ‘No Spin Zone’

March 17, 2017

Leon Panetta enters the ‘No Spin Zone’, Fox News via YouTube, March 16, 2017

As the blurb beneath the video states,

Former CIA Director discusses U.S. troops in combat and American surveillance controversies on ‘The O’Reilly Factor’

Top UN Official Resigns Over Pressure to Withdraw Report That Accused Israel of Imposing ‘Apartheid Regime’ on the Palestinians

March 17, 2017

Top UN Official Resigns Over Pressure to Withdraw Report That Accused Israel of Imposing ‘Apartheid Regime’ on the Palestinians, AlgemeinerBarney Breen-Portnoy, March 17, 2017

(Did having a new American ambassador to the UN who does not hate Israel help? Probably. — DM)

Rima Khalaf. Photo: Chatham House via Wikimedia Commons.

As of Friday, a link to the report could no longer be found on the front page of the ESCWA website.

US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley welcomed the news, saying in a statement, “When someone issues a false and defamatory report in the name of the UN, it is appropriate that the person resign. UN agencies must do a better job of eliminating false and biased work, and I applaud the secretary-general’s decision to distance his good office from it.”

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The head of the UN Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) has resigned over pressure she said she received from Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to withdraw a report published earlier this week that accused Israel of establishing an “apartheid regime” that “dominates the Palestinian people as a whole,” according to Reuters.

Under Secretary-General and ESCWA Executive Secretary Rima Khalaf made the announcement on Friday in Beirut, Lebanon — where the 18-member ESCWA is headquartered.

As of Friday, a link to the report could no longer be found on the front page of the ESCWA website.

US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley welcomed the news, saying in a statement, “When someone issues a false and defamatory report in the name of the UN, it is appropriate that the person resign. UN agencies must do a better job of eliminating false and biased work, and I applaud the secretary-general’s decision to distance his good office from it.”

Israeli Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon also praised Guterres, stating, “The secretary-general’s decision is an important step in ending the bias against Israel at the UN. Anti-Israel activists do not belong in the UN. It is time to put an end to practice in which UN officials use their position to advance their anti-Israel agenda.”

“Over the years,” Danon continued, “Khalaf has worked to harm Israel and advocate for the BDS movement. Her removal from the UN is long overdue.”

On Wednesday, after the publication of the report — which was authored by Richard Falk and Virginia Tilley — Haley slammed it, saying, “That such anti-Israel propaganda would come from a body whose membership nearly universally does not recognize Israel is unsurprising. That it was drafted by Richard Falk, a man who has repeatedly made biased and deeply offensive comments about Israel and espoused ridiculous conspiracy theories, including about the 9/11 terrorist attacks, is equally unsurprising.”

“The United States stands with our ally Israel and will continue to oppose biased and anti-Israel actions across the UN system and around the world,” she continued.

A number of top US Jewish groups — including the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, World Jewish Congress, B’nai B’rith International and the Anti-Defamation League — also issued strong condemnations of the report.

The West has finally woken up

March 17, 2017

The West has finally woken up, Israel National News opinion, Dr. Mordechai Kedar, March 17, 2017

Erdogan was insulted personally, as it suddenly appeared that the Dutch have their own will, and even worse, a sense of self-worth! They actually refused to continue their obeisance to the Sultan!

Holland is not alone: Germany, Denmark, Austria and Switzerland do not support Erdogan’s desire to become all-powerful, and have also applied limitations to the arrival of his spokesmen to their territories. Erdogan is now calling for international bodies to punish the Netherlands.

Are we witnessing the beginning of a struggle for the soul of Europe, fought between the newly-strengthened Right and those trying to effect an Islamic takeover? 

Is this the beginning of a change in the process of Europe’s Islamization?

Does Europe have a European future?

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Holland’s current ruckus with Turkey is only the tip of the European iceberg, most of which is already under water.

Sometimes it’s a good idea to take a step backwards, look at reality from a distance, and see the larger picture, taking in the whole forest rather than just the individual trees. If we attempt to review what has been going on in the world since the British decision to leave the European Union and since Donald Trump’s November 16th election victory, it is just possible that the picture emerging is that of a West beginning the fight against Islam after 8 years of submission disguised by a fragile mask of political correctness.

A not insignificant number of factors add up to a wide and inclusive picture: the fact that it is now permissible to say the words “Islamic terror” in the USA, the attempts to limit Muslim immigration to that country, Trump’s decision to finish off ISIS, the strengthening of rightist parties in Europe, the unsuccessful but serious possiblity that Geert Wilders might have been elected in Holland, the discovery of a gigantic weapons cache in Spain – these are only a small example of the issues that have been part of public discourse over the last few months.

It seems that the West has decided to wake up and shake off the Muslim takeover of the public and political agenda. More and more anti-Islamist phenomena are being seen in Europe and America, those called “Islamophobic” by Muslims and their support groups, who define them as irrationnal fears of Islam and Muslims. Opponents of Islam are not only members of shaven-headed gangs, neo-Nazis, tattoo-covered beer drinkers, but ordinary people, upstanding and honest citizens, who have become seriously anxious about what is happening in Europe and the USA.

They observe the cultural change flooding Europe with troubled eyes, noting the immigrants, many of whom come to live off government benefits, the increase in violence, the abusive and negative attitude towards European women in particular, the damage to the younger generation. The average European is very disturbed by Muslim women’s face-coverings, he sees that custom as a cultural red line. Western culture is based on revealing oneself in interpersonal contacts and covering one’s face contradicts this basic premise. In the West’s perception of things, those who hide their faces are criminals – like bank robbers or murderers with face masks – and this is the reason for the instinctive dislike Europeans have for seeing Muslim women wearing face-coverings in public places.

A good many Europeans have developed intense antagonism towards Islamists because of the behavior of some Muslims, mostly young ones, in the public space: noise, wild driving, male and female Islamic apparel, street prayer, mosque construction, muezzin calls to prayer in the middle of the night, burqinis at the beach and swimming pools, media reports of bigamy and polygamy among the immigrants, honor killings of girls and women, influences on school curricula and the food served to  pupils – and much more. Each one of the items listed above might have passed without making waves, but the combination of all of them draws a worrying impression of an alien culture that is increasingly threatening to overpower the West’s culture and way of life.

What can be observed in Europe and the USA today, is a counter-reaction, perhaps the shaking-up of a Western society which has succeeded in removing the mask of political correctness and has set out to battle this troubling development, in an attempt to recover its Western lifestyle, character and the once dominant public expression of that lifestyle. Will this necessarily lead to violence? Maybe not, but what not a few Muslim immigrants are about to discover is that Western socities are changing their attitudes to Muslim immigration and to Muslim demands whose purpose is the creeping Islamization of the European environment.

Holland as a test case: Enough of Erdogan

The background to what is happening today between Holland and Turkey is to be found in over 400 years of diplomatic relations between the two countries; Holland is one of the largest investors in the Turkish economy; over 2000 Dutch companies function in Turkey; trade between the two countries surpasses 10 billion dollars annually and at least a million Dutch tourists visit Turkey every year. At least 400,000 Turkish citizens, 2.5% of the Dutch population, live in Holland. Sounds good, even great, so far.

But what is happening now is the result of long years of European submission to Erdogan’s outlandish behavior, his impulsivity, crude manners and speech, and his flooding Europe with Syrian refugees and other, mostly Muslim, migrants. The Dutch were the first to protest, but the dispute has spilled over into other European countries.

The last round of bad blood between Turkey and Europe began a few days ago, when Erdogan attempted to send government ministers to Europe to encourage the millions of Turks living in Europe and who have the right to vote in Turkey, to endorse the changes in Turkey’s constitution that will strengthen his position. He intends to turn Turkey into a country where the president is not simply a symbolic figure as Erdogan is supposed to be today, but an executive holding the reins of the legislature, on the lines of the USA.

Holland is going through a process of reflection, one that has strengthened the radical right and its leader, Geert Wilders. A short five years ago, he was considered an untouchable racist, but recently, he became a serious candidate for leadership of the country. The Dutch have realized, somehwat belatedly, that their warm acceptance of Muslim migrants turned their country into a preferred destination, and are turning solidly to the right, trying to backtrack and save their homeland from an ever-growing Islamic invasion.

Despite the tense atmosphere and this growing anti-Islamism, Erdogan – head of an Islamist, Muslim Brotherhood-style party – decided to send his ministers to Holland in order to achieve even more power for himself. Did he go mad? Not at all, he simply doesn’t take Europeans into account in the slightest, has ignored them for years with impunity – after all, they let him get away with whatever he wanted to do from the day he gained power in 2002. The Dutch have decided that they have had enough of this and refused to allow the Turkish ministers to enter Holland and speak to their voters. The ministers’ intention, it should be stressed, was to reach the industrial port city of Rotterdam, which has a Muslim majority.

Erdogan was insulted personally, as it suddenly appeared that the Dutch have their own will, and even worse, a sense of self-worth! They actually refused to continue their obeisance to the Sultan! They refused to allow the plane bringing the Turkish foreign minister to land in Holland and stopped its family minister’s car at the border. They were unimpressed by Turkey’s threats of economic sanctions and the preventing of Dutch airlines from landing on Turkish soil. Erdogan compared them to Nazis and fascists, although Holland was a victim of the Nazis. At this point, the weapon chosen by both sides is that of recalling ambassadors.

Holland is not alone: Germany, Denmark, Austria and Switzerland do not support Erdogan’s desire to become all-powerful, and have also applied limitations to the arrival of his spokesmen to their territories. Erdogan is now calling for international bodies to punish the Netherlands.

Are we witnessing the beginning of a struggle for the soul of Europe, fought between the newly-strengthened Right and those trying to effect an Islamic takeover?

Is this the beginning of a change in the process of Europe’s Islamization?

Does Europe have a European future?

Time will tell, as will elections, but along with the political and public struggle, it is worthwhile for Europeans to consider having children. Without more children, the Europeans are marching proudly towards becoming a museum exhibit.

Written for Arutz Sheva, translated from the Hebrew by Rochel Sylvetsky.

In-House Hizballah Missile Factories Could Add to Massive Arms Buildup

March 17, 2017

In-House Hizballah Missile Factories Could Add to Massive Arms Buildup, Investigative Project on Terrorism, Yaakov Lappin, March 17, 2017

This does not mean Hizballah is seeking a conflict with Israel now, but it does mean that should a new war erupt in the future, Israel’s civilian population will face unprecedented threats.

Israel’s defense establishment is making its own preparations accordingly, based on the understanding that this Iranian agent has developed into a full-fledged terrorist army.

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A recent report saying that Iran constructed underground missile factories in Lebanon for Hizballah would, if accurate, indicate a disturbing boost in the Shi’ite terror organization’s ability to self-produce weapons.

Already, the Israeli defense establishment sees Hizballah as a powerful and radical army rather than a ‘mere’ terror organization due to its deep and sophisticated weaponry (which surpasses that of most states), and its hierarchical command structure.

An ability to manufacture destructive rockets and missiles would mean that the militant Islamist Lebanese-Shi’ite organization is no longer entirely reliant on arms trafficking from its patron Iran and ally, the Assad regime in Syria.

The report, made available by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), was published in the Kuwaiti daily Al-Jarida. It cites an aide to the commander of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) as its source. The IRGC’s Quds Force is an elite unit that runs Iran’s extensive overseas operations to arm, finance, and strengthen Iran’s regional proxies.

According to the Kuwaiti report, the IRGC built the arms-making facilities more than 50 meters underground and fortified them against air strikes before handing control of them over to Hizballah three months ago.

The report is well within the realm of the possible, Ely Karmon, a Hizballah expert and a senior research scholar at the International Institute for Counter-Terrorism in Herzliya told the Investigative Project on Terrorism. He pointed to a 2015 statement made by the IRGC’s Aerospace Force commander, Brigadier General Amir Ali Hajizadeh, boasting that Tehran has provided “Syria, Iraq, Palestine and the Lebanese Hizballah resistance group with the needed know-how to produce missiles.”

“The IRGC’s Aerospace Force has developed to a stage in the field of missile industries that it can mass-produce different types of short- and mid-range missiles,” Hajizadeh said.

Assessing the latest Kuwaiti report, Karmon said that it is “possible that these Hizballah military factories are in the Quseyr area in Syria, and not in Lebanon.” Quseyr is an area of western Syria near Lebanon which has come under Hizballah control in recent years after being seized from Sunni rebel organizations.

Israel bombed targets in the area in the past, Karmon noted, likely as part of Israel’s covert program to selectively disrupt of Hizballah’s force build-up.

In November, Hizballah paraded its heavy weaponry in Quseyr – including tanks, armored personnel carriers, artillery guns, and missile launchers.

The Kuwaiti report also claimed that “a special department has been established at the IRGC’s Imam Hossein University [in Tehran] to train Lebanese and other experts, and hundreds of experts have already been trained… The manufacture of the missiles does not take place in one factory; different parts are built in different factories and then assembled together.”

The missile factories reportedly can produce surface-to-surface missiles with a range of over 500 kilometers – in other words, capable of hitting anywhere in Israel – surface-to-sea missiles, perhaps intended to hit Israeli ships and Israel’s offshore gas rigs in the Mediterranean Sea, armed drones, anti-tank missiles, and other weapons. The production sites can also be used to make machine guns, mortars, and anti-aircraft guns.

Since the end of the 2006 war with Israel, Hizballah stockpiled an arsenal totaling 120,000 missiles – one of the largest of its kind in the world. The vast majority of these arms were manufactured in Iran and Syria and smuggled into Lebanon. A growing number are guided rockets and missiles, which Hizballah could use to try to use to overcome Israeli air defenses and target sensitive targets.

Iranian weapons transfers continue regardless of whether Hizballah has access to its own missile factories. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu provided details on “the ongoing Iranian attempt to transfer weapons, advanced weapons, to Hizballah, via Syria,” when he visited Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow earlier this month.

Reports say that Israel targeted such weapons again overnight, triggering Syrian surface-to-air missile fire at Israeli jets. At least one of those missiles reportedly was intercepted by Israel’s Arrow defense system.

Hizballah also is training elite terror cells to infiltrate Israel during the next war, and to temporarily ‘conquer’ northern Israeli communities in a bid to demoralize Israelis.

These preparations, it is safe to assume, are being closely monitored by Israel.

Hizballah’s deep involvement fighting for the Assad regime in Syria for four years also has boosted its power. The best form of training is combat itself, and its operatives have been exposed to Iranian commanders and technology on the battlefields of Syria.

Meanwhile, back in Lebanon, Hizballah has embedded the vast majority of its bases, rocket launchers, and command posts in civilian regions, including a massive maze of underground tunnels and subterranean compounds.

Yet all is not well in Hizballah’s camp despite its clear and growing power. Hizballah is facing a dramatic economic crisis due to a shortage of cash flow from Iran, which itself has not yet received all of the funds it was expecting to get after signing the nuclear deal.

Hizballah’s expenses are not only military and terrorist. They include many civilian and political activities in Lebanon, for which it is now struggling to pay. Additionally, the fact that it has sustained more than 1,500 casualties in Syria has demoralized sections of the traditional Lebanese Shi’ite support base.

Nevertheless, Hizballah is pushing to build up its massive offensive capabilities against Israel.

It seeks more accurate rockets and missiles, while its leader Hassan Nasrallah has repeatedly threatened to strike Israeli strategic targets such as ships carrying industrial ammonia to the Israeli city of Haifa, and Israel’s nuclear reactor in Dimona.

This does not mean Hizballah is seeking a conflict with Israel now, but it does mean that should a new war erupt in the future, Israel’s civilian population will face unprecedented threats.

Israel’s defense establishment is making its own preparations accordingly, based on the understanding that this Iranian agent has developed into a full-fledged terrorist army.

‘Strategic Patience’ Is Over: Tillerson Floats Military Action in North Korea

March 17, 2017

‘Strategic Patience’ Is Over: Tillerson Floats Military Action in North Korea, Breitbart, Frances Martel, March 17, 2017

(Might Secretary Tillerson also have intended to give a “hint” to The Islamic Republic of Iran? — DM)

SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA – MARCH 17: (L to R) U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson shakes hands with South Korean Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se during a press conference on March 17, 2017 in Seoul, South Korea. (Photo by Song Kyung-Seok-Pool/Getty Images)

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told reporters in Seoul on Friday that the Trump administration is open to military action against North Korea as a last resort, and that the Obama-era policy of “strategic patience has ended.”

“The policy of strategic patience has ended. We are exploring a new range of diplomatic, security and economic measures. All options are on the table,” Tillerson told reporters at a press conference with South Korean Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se. “If North Korea takes actions that threaten South Korean forces or our own forces, that will be met with an appropriate response.”

“If they elevate the threats of their weapons program to the level that we believe requires action, that option is on the table,” Tillerson added. He emphasized that the United States would attempt to avoid to the extent possible any military actions against North Korea, particularly those that may put North Korean civilian lives in danger. “We hope that that will persuade North Korea to take a different course of action. That’s our desire,” Tillerson concluded.

Tillerson also took the opportunity to once again call for China to take on a larger role in containing North Korea’s escalating belligerence and objected to China cutting economic ties with South Korea over the deployment of the America Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile defense system. “While we acknowledge Chinese opposition, its economic retaliation against South Korea is inappropriate and troubling. We ask China to refrain from such actions. Instead, we urge China to address the threat that makes that necessary,” Tillerson said.

Tillerson is currently in the middle of a three-nation trip to Asia, having left Japan on Thursday and scheduled to meet with leaders in China on Saturday.

The Secretary of State’s remarks regarding potential military action against North Korea follow remarks in Japan that emphasized a “different approach” to the rogue government in Pyongyang. “Part of the purpose of my visit to the region is to exchange views on a new approach,” Tillerson noted on Friday in a press conference with his Japanese counterpart, Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida.

The Trump administration has hinted at a change in America’s approach towards Pyongyang in other venues, as well. Earlier this month, UN Ambassador Nikki Haley told reporters in New York that the White House is “not ruling anything out” to keep North Korea from developing and using nuclear weapons. Haley described the THAAD system as a necessary response to Pyongyang’s insistence on violating UN sanctions with missile launches that could threaten Japan and South Korea. “We are not going to leave South Korea standing there with the threat of North Korea facing them and not help. The reason for THAAD is because of the actions of North Korea,” she said in response to Chinese and Russian opposition.

Following Tillerson’s remarks Friday, President Trump himself issued a warning to North Korea on Twitter:

Tillerson’s message towards China was also similar in Japan: as its largest trading partner, take a more prominent role in containing North Korea. “We look to China to fulfill its obligations and fully implement the sanctions called for,” he said. Anticipating Tillerson’s visit, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang told reporters Wednesday he was “optimistic about the future of China-US relations” and anticipated a positive outcome from Tillerson’s visit. President Donald Trump is reportedly working with Chinese officials to plan a U.S. visit by President Xi Jinping next month.

These statements represent a nearly complete shift away from what former Secretary of State and twice-failed presidential candidate Hillary Clinton described as “strategic patience“: a policy of waiting for the North Korean economy to implode and Pyongyang finding itself no longer able to afford to ignore UN sanctions and the rejection of the international community. This policy largely failed because China continued to trade with North Korea, providing the fellow communist regime a vital lifeline.

The response in Seoul to the new, robust U.S. policy is largely divided along partisan lines, according to the South Korean news agency Yonhap. Conservative leaders have expressed gratitude for Tillerson’s strong support for their country. “We highly appreciate his comments as he expressed a strong willingness to respond to North Korea’s reckless behavior,” Liberty Korea Party spokesman Rep. Choung Tae-ok told Yonhap.

One left-wing leader, in contrast, told Yonhap: “We are supporting the U.S.’s move to strengthen the effectiveness of sanctions against the North through cooperation with relevant countries, but we cannot help expressing concerns about the U.S. stance that there will be no dialogue until North Korea gives up (nuclear weapons).”

North Korea appears to have responded to Tillerson’s presence in the region with the publication of a “human rights white paper” condemning the United States as a serial violator of human rights, condemning the presidential election itself as a human rights violation against the American people and labeling the nation a “human rights desert.”

Freedom Is Eating Steak Well Done With Ketchup

March 17, 2017

Freedom Is Eating Steak Well Done With Ketchup, Washington Free Beacon, March 17, 2017

(Has there been any media suggestion that President Trump’s ketchup fixation proves that he is a secret admirer of former Secretary of State John Ketchup Kerry? Nope. That would be viewed as good, and saying anything good about President Trump is unfashionable.– DM)

Trump eats at the 21 Club in Manhattan

In a market where residents can practically point to a spot on a globe and find a nearby dining room that serves its cuisine? In a city where some of the country’s best contemporary Greek, Indian, and, hello, even American restaurants are about as close to your door as the steakhouse in the Trump International Hotel? (Not that the president has to wait in traffic.)

I have not read a more snobbish and self-congratulatory and clueless paragraph in some time. It portrays the city of Washington precisely as it exists in the minds of Trump’s supporters: a cosmopolitan metropolis whose gluttonous, affluent, and power-mad residents dine out each night on fare prepared and served by low-wage immigrant labor, where you can find “even” an American restaurant, where manners are not only about holding properly a knife and fork but encompass the entirety of the restaurant you patronize, what you order, what sauces you dip your entrée in. The eye-rolling and fake outrage over such a meaningless topic says far more about the self-absorption and entitlement of the critics than it does about the president.

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There really was a liberal media bubble, Nate Silver reports, and the only thing wrong with his assertion is that it’s in the past tense. The lack of diversity among journalistic ranks—even the sort of racial and sexual diversity championed every day in the pages of the Washington Post and New York Times—makes it easy for consensus to form and harden into unshakable groupthink. The media is a crowd without wisdom. There is hardly any variety of opinion, independence of mind is mocked and ostracized, and reporters increasingly are twenty- and thirty-year-olds living in either New York City or D.C. who are addicted to Twitter, where they out-snark each other to determine who can assume the best pose of knowingness. “As a result,” Silver concludes, “it can be largely arbitrary which storylines gain traction and which ones don’t. What seems like a multiplicity of perspectives might just be one or two, duplicated many times over.” Perspectives that Donald Trump is an oaf or Hitler or an oafish Hitler and Republicans are, in a word, awful.

The remarkable thing is the bubble did not pop or even tremble after the election was over and the unthinkable had occurred. Instead it hardened into a shell, an impenetrable dome of the sort that walls off Chester’s Mill, Maine, in the novel by Stephen King. We moved effortlessly from a world in which Brexit would not happen and Donald Trump could not win to a world in which Putin colluded with Trump’s henchmen to influence the election and the Trump presidency was on life support after only 50 days. The hysteria and mob-like denunciations that greet every utterance of this president, each step taken by his team, have become routine. What has been normalized in these first two months is not Trump but the paranoid bad faith imputed to him.

In Washington under Trump even so rudimentary an activity as eating has become politicized, weighted with aesthetic and class significance, put under the jurisdiction of social arbiters who declare what is woke and what is haram. “Actually, How Donald Trump Eats His Steak Matters,” proclaims a contributor to Eater.com. “The president of the United States insists that his steaks be cooked well-done. Unfortunately, that’s a big problem.” But why is it a problem, Eater.com? Why should so trivial a detail impress itself on the average person’s consciousness for even a microsecond? Aren’t there far more important subjects that warrant reflection and criticism and debate: health care, trade and tax policy, missile threats, the men and women dropping dead from heroin?

This 1,800-word piece begins with the admission that “for almost every person in the world, it’s totally okay to prefer your steak cooked all the way through.” Except if his name is Donald Trump. In that case, “a person who won’t eat his steak any doneness but well is a person who won’t entertain the notion that there could be a better way; a person who blankets the whole thing in ketchup (a condiment that adds back much of the moisture, sweetness, and flavor that the overcooking removed in the first place) is always going to fix his problems by making them worse.” What a wonderful example this sentence is of baseless, aimless generalization. Cooking a steak well and dipping it in ketchup is just the hook for an extended and self-indulgent riff into “this calculus of trust and risk” that ends, as all such riffs do, in an affirmation of the superior morality and taste of the writer. In this Manichean universe there are ketchup people and aioli people and the aioli people are, needless to say, ascendant.

When the Times first reported last year that President Trump prefers his steak “so well done” that, in the words of his butler, “it would rock on the plate,” I took it as another unusual detail in the unusual life of an unusual man. Let it not be said that Donald Trump lacks conviction: on matters of cuisine and decoration and foreign trade he is wedded to his beliefs, will not deviate from patterns established decades ago. Well-done steak with ketchup is an entrée from childhood, a comfort-food recipe Trump clearly has seen no reason to abandon in his 70 years of life on this planet. That’s his business. No more important to his life, or to the life of this nation, than his tendency to wear white baseball caps when he is happy and red baseball caps when he is annoyed.

Over the last year however the press has fixated on the steak and its accompaniment, returned to them again and again, fetishized them, contorted them into a metaphor for the childishness and vulgarity and gaucheness that Trump’s opponents so despise. “Putting ketchup on his $54 steak drives a wedge between Trump and his fans,” reports Marketwatch.com, citing a silly PPP poll in order to expel Trump from the in-group. Does Trump put “Bernaise? Chimichurri? Peppercorn?” on his steak? Negative. “Instead, Trump went with ketchup, that most pedestrian of all condiments.” Lock him up!

I am fascinated by the condescending use of “pedestrian,” with its connotations of déclassement, to describe one of America’s most popular condiments. What it suggests is that the fixation with Trump’s manner of eating is in reality a fixation with the persistence of habits and attitudes and trends that the over-schooled and undereducated metropolitan producers of news and opinion do not like, deem retrograde, wish would recede into the past as humanity progresses toward its gender-neutral, multicultural, borderless, medium-rare steak au poivre future. “For real, Mr. President?” asks the Washington Post‘s food critic when confronted with Trump’s menu choices.

In a market where residents can practically point to a spot on a globe and find a nearby dining room that serves its cuisine? In a city where some of the country’s best contemporary Greek, Indian, and, hello, even American restaurants are about as close to your door as the steakhouse in the Trump International Hotel? (Not that the president has to wait in traffic.)

I have not read a more snobbish and self-congratulatory and clueless paragraph in some time. It portrays the city of Washington precisely as it exists in the minds of Trump’s supporters: a cosmopolitan metropolis whose gluttonous, affluent, and power-mad residents dine out each night on fare prepared and served by low-wage immigrant labor, where you can find “even” an American restaurant, where manners are not only about holding properly a knife and fork but encompass the entirety of the restaurant you patronize, what you order, what sauces you dip your entrée in. The eye-rolling and fake outrage over such a meaningless topic says far more about the self-absorption and entitlement of the critics than it does about the president.

“Trump eats $50 steak with ketchup, foodies aghast,” reports SFGate.com. It is hard to read stories like these without coming to the conclusion that so much of our elite’s abhorrence of Trump is a matter of aesthetics, of his not fitting in, of his stubborn devotion to practices and ideas deemed retrograde by opinion leaders but that still appeal to, oh, about half the country. As I read these stories I want nothing more than to run to the nearest steakhouse, order the filet well done, and dunk the bites in a raft of condiments, from ketchup to Tabasco to relish to mustard. Why not? It’s still a free country. Just so long as you can find a way out of the bubble.