Archive for September 7, 2017

Why Did Trump do a Deal with the Democrats on Funding the Government?

September 7, 2017

Why Did Trump do a Deal with the Democrats on Funding the Government? Investment Watch Blog, Mark Angelides, September 7, 2017

President Trump has been painted by the media as someone caught between two parties that hate him. And whilst this is probably true, he has shown the Republican critics (who have refused to support him) that he can get along without them. By not being partisan in this, he has reduced their power over him. The GOP would like to believe that the president can only act with the GOP consent, but they are so mired in the idea of partisan politics, that they forgot that there was another party waiting.

This decision may not be popular with anyone, but at the very least, he is showing that he can break deadlocks and get things moving. I say give him a chance.

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On Wednesday, an agreement was made between President Trump and leading Democrats Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi on a “short-term bump” in raising the debt ceiling. Major Republican players are extremely annoyed that the president seems to have completely cut them out of this and just gone his own way.

And here’s the thing, Trump was most likely right to do this. He has not had much support from Republicans for his policies and he has had zero support from Democrats or the MSM. He may just have found a way to deal with both in one small meeting.

The deal was cut ostensibly to allow funds for Hurricane Harvey relief efforts, but there is a much bigger picture behind this.

Firstly, Trump has been lambasted by the press for not getting things done, he just has, and it’s for funding that not even the most anti-Trump anchor can give him criticism for. By being the guy to “take the hit” for getting relief money out there, he has become “bullet proof” from media attacks (at least on this decision). It is the Democrats and the Republicans who now look like obstructionists on necessary relief funds.

Secondly, Trump was elected, in part, because he is seen as a “deal maker.” Well, he’s made a deal alright. He went in with his own agenda and did what he thought was best. Republicans may not like it, but then they don’t like anything that does not give them the overall power, anyway.

Thirdly, this was most likely not about just the relief efforts. Trump wants Tax Reform on the table and with participants in the discussion who “owe him a favour.” Marc Short, the White House legislative director, said that “We believe that it’s something to clear the deck,” and would allow Congress to “focus on tax reform for the American people.”

And finally, President Trump has been painted by the media as someone caught between two parties that hate him. And whilst this is probably true, he has shown the Republican critics (who have refused to support him) that he can get along without them. By not being partisan in this, he has reduced their power over him. The GOP would like to believe that the president can only act with the GOP consent, but they are so mired in the idea of partisan politics, that they forgot that there was another party waiting.

This decision may not be popular with anyone, but at the very least, he is showing that he can break deadlocks and get things moving. I say give him a chance.

Wife of Israeli PM to be indicted on charges of misusing public funds

September 7, 2017

Wife of Israeli PM to be indicted on charges of misusing public funds, DEBKAfile, September 7, 2017

(Indictment for ordering “expensive meals? Insanity. — DM)

Israel’s attorney general, Avichai Mandelblit, informed the prime minister’s wife Sara Netanyahu Thursday evening that he will indict her on charges of misusing public funds by ordering meals from expensive restaurants costing tens of thousands of shekels.

The Netanyahu family later issued a statement saying that the claims are absurd and false, calling her a brave and honest woman who had not done anything improper.

Beware of narratives and misinformation

September 7, 2017

Beware of narratives and misinformation, Washington Times, , September 6, 2017

Illustration on government agency deception by Linas Garsys/The Washington Times

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

There is not much left to the media myth of James Comey as dutiful FBI director, unjustly fired by a partisan and vindictive President Trump. A closer look suggests that Mr. Comey may have been the most politicized, duplicitous and out-of-control FBI director since J. Edgar Hoover.

There is also a media fantasy about the Antifa street protesters. Few have criticized their systematic use of violence. But when in history have youths running through the streets decked out in black with masks, clubs and shields acted nonviolently?

Antifa rioters in Charlottesville were praised by progressives for violently confronting a few-dozen creepy white supremacists, Klansmen and neo-Nazis. The supremacists were pathetic losers without any public or political support for their odious views, and they were condemned by both political parties. Yet Antifa’s use of violence was compared perversely by some progressives to American soldiers storming the beaches on D-Day.

Doubts about official narratives of the DNC leaks and the errant behavior of James Comey, and misinformation about the violent extremists of Antifa, illustrate media bias — not to mention entrenched government bureaucracies that are either incompetent, ethically compromised or completely politicized.

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U.S. intelligence agencies said Russia was responsible for hacking Democratic National Committee (DNC) email accounts, leading to the publication of about 20,000 stolen emails on WikiLeaks.

But that finding was reportedly based largely on the DNC’s strange outsourcing of the investigation to a private cybersecurity firm. Rarely does the victim of a crime first hire a private investigator whose findings later form the basis of government conclusions.

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is many things. But so far he has not been caught lying about the origin of the leaked documents that came into his hands. He has insisted for well over a year that the Russians did not provide him with the DNC emails.

When it was discovered that the emails had been compromised, then-DNC Chairman Debbie Wasserman Schultz weirdly refused to allow forensic detectives from the FBI to examine the DNC server to probe the evidence of the theft. Why did the FBI accept that refusal?

That strange behavior was not as bizarre as Mrs. Wasserman Schultz’s later frenzied efforts to protect her information technology specialist, Imran Awan, from Capitol Police and FBI investigations. Both agencies were hot on Mr. Awan’s trail for unlawfully transferring secure data from government computers, and also for bank and federal procurement fraud.

So far, the story of the DNC hack is not fully known, but it may eventually be revealed that it involves other actors beyond just the Russians.

There is not much left to the media myth of James Comey as dutiful FBI director, unjustly fired by a partisan and vindictive President Trump. A closer look suggests that Mr. Comey may have been the most politicized, duplicitous and out-of-control FBI director since J. Edgar Hoover.

During the 2016 election, Mr. Comey, quite improperly, was put into the role of prosecutor, judge and jury in the investigation of Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server while she was secretary of state. That proved a disaster. Mr. Comey has admitted under oath to deliberately leaking his own notes — which were likely government property — to the media to prompt the appointment of a special counsel. That ploy worked like clockwork, and by a strange coincidence it soon resulted in the selection of his friend, former FBI Director Robert Mueller.

Mr. Comey earlier had assured the public that his investigation of Mrs. Clinton had shown no prosecutable wrongdoing (a judgment that in normal times would not be the FBI’s to make). It has since been disclosed that Mr. Comey offered that conclusion before he had even interviewed Mrs. Clinton.

That inversion suggests that Mr. Comey had assumed that whatever he found out about Mrs. Clinton would not change the reality that the Obama administration would probably drop the inquiry anyway — so Mr. Comey made the necessary ethical adjustments.

Mr. Comey was also less than truthful when he testified that there had been no internal FBI communications concerning the infamous meeting between Mrs. Clinton’s husband, former President Bill Clinton, and former Attorney General Loretta Lynch on an airport tarmac. In fact, there was a trail of FBI discussion about that supposedly secret rendezvous.

Before he fired Mr. Comey, Mr. Trump drafted a letter outlining the source of his anger. But it seemed to have little to do with the obstruction of justice.

Instead, Mr. Trump’s anguished letter complained about Mr. Comey’s private assurances that the president was not under FBI investigation, which were offered at about the same time a winking-and-nodding Mr. Comey would not confirm that reality to the press, thus leaving the apparently deliberate impression that a compromised president was in legal jeopardy.

There is also a media fantasy about the Antifa street protesters. Few have criticized their systematic use of violence. But when in history have youths running through the streets decked out in black with masks, clubs and shields acted nonviolently?

Antifa rioters in Charlottesville were praised by progressives for violently confronting a few-dozen creepy white supremacists, Klansmen and neo-Nazis. The supremacists were pathetic losers without any public or political support for their odious views, and they were condemned by both political parties. Yet Antifa’s use of violence was compared perversely by some progressives to American soldiers storming the beaches on D-Day.

Later, Antifa thuggery in Boston and Berkeley against free speech and against conservative groups without ties to white supremacists confirmed that the movement was fascistic in nature.

It was recently disclosed that the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security had warned the Obama administration in 2016 that Antifa was a domestic terrorist organization that aimed to incite violence during street protests. That stark assessment and Antifa’s subsequent violence make the recent nonchalance of local police departments with regard to Antifa thuggery seem like an abject dereliction of duty.

Doubts about official narratives of the DNC leaks and the errant behavior of James Comey, and misinformation about the violent extremists of Antifa, illustrate media bias — not to mention entrenched government bureaucracies that are either incompetent, ethically compromised or completely politicized.

‘Big fish’ Debbie Wasserman Schultz watches as ‘small fish’ start to cut deals

September 7, 2017

‘Big fish’ Debbie Wasserman Schultz watches as ‘small fish’ start to cut deals, American ThinkerThomas Lifson, September 7, 2017

It’s starting to look as though Imran Awan and his wife Hina Alvi are making plea deals and incriminating people above them in the food chain.  Both of them were I.T. staffers for Democrats in the House of Representatives, earning substantial multiples of customary wages, raising intense suspicions of blackmail.

Ms. Alvi reportedly has already made a deal and will be returning to the U.S. from her native Pakistan, where she earlier fled.  Her husband was arrested at Dulles Airport, attempting to do the same.  Todd Shepherd reports in the Examiner:

A document filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia indicates that federal prosecutors have struck a deal with Alvi that would allow her to return to the U.S., but would also require her to surrender her passport and afterwards not book any international travel. The deal only surrounds how Alvi will turn herself in, and is structured so that she can avoid being arrested in front of her children when she returns to the U.S., “during the last week of September 2017.”

Alvi, and Awan in particular, are the focus of investigations by the FBI and Capitol Police regarding irregularities for purchases of some computers and other equipment which was later discovered to be missing. The pair, and their associates, could have had access to sensitive government information over the years.

We don’t know if Awan has made a deal yet, but his wife would not be returning if that were unlikely.  In fact, thanks to the work of Luke Rosiak of the Daily Caller, we have to consider the possibility that Awan has been playing a double- or triple-game since last April.

A laptop that Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz has frantically fought to keep prosecutors from examining may have been planted for police to find by her since-indicted staffer, Imran Awan, along with a letter to the U.S. Attorney.

U.S. Capitol Police found the laptop after midnight April 6, 2017, in a tiny room that formerly served as a phone booth in the Rayburn House Office Building, according to a Capitol Police report reviewed by The Daily Caller News Foundation’s Investigative Group. Alongside the laptop were a Pakistani ID card, copies of Awan’s driver’s license and congressional ID badge, and letters to the U.S. attorney. Police also found notes in a composition notebook marked “attorney-client privilege.”

This happened four months after Awan had been banned from the House I.T. network, so he had realized he was in trouble for quite some time, even if DWS kept paying him his salary and he was able to get access to the network via her office.  It was enough time for him to plot and plan.  And it does look as if the material was intended to be discovered, not somehow accidentally left behind:

The laptop was found on the second floor of the Rayburn building – a place Awan would have had no reason to go because Wasserman Schultz’s office is in the Longworth building and the other members who employed him had fired him. (snip)

Leaving important items there accidentally would seem extremely unlikely, according to Rep. Louie Gohmert, a Texas Republican, former prosecutor, and member of the House Judiciary Committee.

“Imran Awan is a calculating person who made great efforts to cover his tracks, both electronically and physically,” Gohmert told TheDCNF. “Placing that laptop with his personal documents, which may well incriminate him, those he worked for, or both, in the dead of night in a House office building, was a deliberate act by a cunning suspect, and it needs to be investigated.”

If Awan thought he was better off with his crimes documented, that suggests he feared something worse than prison, that this was a matter of life insurance.

There are signs that DWS is panicking.  Wasserman Schultz first claimed that the laptop was hers and notoriously harangued the Capitol Police to return it to her on that basis.

Now she is claiming that it was Awan’s and that she had never seen it.  Yet:

Wasserman Schultz has hired an outside counsel, William Pittard, to argue that the laptop not be examined. Pittard argued that the speech and debate clause – which only protects a member’s information directly related to legislative duties – should prevent prosecutors from examining the laptop’s contents, TheDCNF has learned. Pittard did not respond to requests for comment.

Pittard, a partner with KaiserDillon, is the former acting general counsel of the House. Hiring an outside counsel to argue the speech and debate clause on behalf of Wasserman Schultz is highly unusual, because the general counsel of the House offers opinions on speech and debate issues for free.

That can’t be cheap. There must be material on that laptop that that is incriminating.  Very incriminating.  Perhaps of DWS, perhaps of some of the other House Democrats who hired the Awan gang.

Debbie is already distancing herself from Awan:

Conservatives in America — Like Marranos in Medieval Spain

September 7, 2017

Conservatives in America — Like Marranos in Medieval Spain, Front Page MagazineDennis Prager, September 7, 2017

(It’s real. My wife and I have both experienced it. I have lost friends by vocalizing my support for President Trump and my wife generally remains silent when with friends and relatives in California. Talking with them would not change their views on President Trump or conservative principles in general. — DM)

Had anyone predicted that in America — the land more renowned than any other for liberty and free speech — the word “Marrano” would ever accurately characterize citizens, let alone close to half the voting population, that individual would have been regarded as a charlatan.

But given the intolerance and hatred on the left, and its dominance over almost every area of American life, that individual would have been a prophet.

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For those unfamiliar with the term, Marranos was the name given to Jews in medieval Spain and Portugal who secretly maintained their Judaism while living as Catholics in public, especially in the 15th century during the Spanish Inquisition.

There is, of course, no Spanish Inquisition in America today — no one is being tortured into confessing what they really believe, and no one is being burned at the stake. But there are millions of Marrano-like Americans: Americans who hold conservative views — especially those who hold conservative positions on social issues and those who voted for Donald Trump for president.

Millions of Americans who hold conservative and/or pro-Trump views rationally fear ostracism by their peers, public humiliation, ruined reputations, broken families, job loss and the inability to work in their field. Under these circumstances, they have decided that coming out as conservative or pro-Trump is not worth the persecution they would endure.

In terms of the percentage of the population effected, there is no parallel in American history. Coming out as a homosexual prior to the 1960s and 70s, or publicly announcing oneself as a member of the Communist Party in the 1950s would have often led to similar dire consequences in one’s social, work and family life. But gays and Communist Party members comprised a tiny percentage of the American population. And Communists supported true evil.

I wish I could share all the emails sent to me from professional musicians who play in some of the premier orchestras in America. They wrote to me following the nationally publicized attempts by left-wing members of the Santa Monica Symphony Orchestra and the Santa Monica city government to prevent me from conducting a Haydn symphony at the Walt Disney Concert Hall three weeks ago. These people publicly called on members of the orchestra to refuse to play and members of the public to refuse to attend.

These people wrote to encourage me and tell me how they are compelled to hide their conservative views — how, in effect, they live as Marranos.

A violist with one of the most prestigious orchestras in the country (I figured out which orchestra using the internet; she was even afraid to tell me ) wrote to me last week about how quiet she is about her conservatism. While she could not be fired for it, she said, she would be socially ostracized within the orchestra for which she has played for decades.

A middle-aged professional musician told me that he wears his hair very long in order to appear hippie-like and camouflage his conservative politics. He is no more likely to tell fellow musicians that he supports President Trump than a Marrano in medieval Spain would have been to go public with his Jewish beliefs.

One musician in Minnesota wrote to me: “I was a professional musician from the age of 17. I wanted you to know that I, too, lost my career because of my views. My choice, actually; I just could no longer take the abuse.”

I’m fortunate. As a radio talk-show host and columnist, I’m paid to express my opinions. As for my avocation of conducting orchestras, I’m lucky there, too. Because the permanent conductor of the Santa Monica Symphony Orchestra and the orchestra’s board remained principled, and because so many people support me and my values, the efforts to thwart me failed. The Disney hall, with 2,000-plus seats, was sold out — a first for a community orchestra in that venue.

Of course, American conservative Marranos don’t just live in the world of music. They are in every profession. We know about the high-profile cases, the conservatives whose careers have been ruined by saying the “wrong” thing, or supporting the “wrong” candidate or ballot proposition; we know about the conservative speakers who have been physically attacked and prevented from speaking on college campuses. But we don’t know about the millions who are just afraid to speak up, who remain silent in a business meeting or at a dinner party when someone casually expresses a view with which they strongly disagree. These Americans live in fear, legitimately so in many cases, that if they do speak out, there will be severe consequences — a job lost, a promotion not given or even a child who will no longer speak to them.

This is all new in our country.

Had anyone predicted that in America — the land more renowned than any other for liberty and free speech — the word “Marrano” would ever accurately characterize citizens, let alone close to half the voting population, that individual would have been regarded as a charlatan.

But given the intolerance and hatred on the left, and its dominance over almost every area of American life, that individual would have been a prophet.

With alleged airstrike, Israel punctuates opposition to Syria ceasefire pact

September 7, 2017

Source: With alleged airstrike, Israel punctuates opposition to Syria ceasefire pact | The Times of Israel

Bombing of Syrian precision missile, chemical weapons facility sends clear message to world: We’ll take action when necessary, no matter what

A poster bearing an image of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad (R) and Hassan Nasrallah, head of Lebanese Shiite movement Hezbollah, is seen in Damascus on September 7, 2017. (AFP/LOUAI BESHARA)

The timing of the airstrike allegedly carried out by the Israel Air Force against a Syrian advanced weapons development facility early Thursday morning could not have been more apt.

The aerial attack came nearly 10 years to the day after Israel allegedly destroyed a Syrian nuclear reactor; a few weeks after Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah visited Damascus; two weeks after a meeting between Russian and Israeli heads of state; a day after a United Nations report formally blamed the Bashar Assad regime for a sarin gas attack earlier this year; and in the midst of the IDF’s largest exercise in nearly two decades, in which tens of thousands of soldiers are simulating a war with Hezbollah, a key part of the Syrian-Iranian Shiite axis.

In addition to whatever tactical value was gained from destroying such a facility, the early Thursday morning bombing run also presented a message to Syria, Iran and Hezbollah, as well as to the United States and Russia, that Israel would continue to act in the war-torn country if necessary — ceasefire between the regime and rebels be damned.

The target was a Scientific Studies and Research Center (CERS) facility, which reportedly produces and stores both chemical weapons and precision missiles, located outside the city of Masyaf, in Syria’s northwestern Hama region, nearly 300 kilometers away from Israel’s northernmost air base.

Amos Yadlin speaks at an IsraPresse event for the French-speaking community at the Menachem Begin Heritage Center, Jerusalem, February 22, 2015. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

“It targeted a Syrian military-scientific center for the development and manufacture of, among other things, precision missiles which will have a significant role in the next round of conflict,” wrote Maj. Gen. (res.) Amos Yadlin, a former head of Israel’s Military Intelligence, on Twitter.

Maj. Gen. (res.) Yaakov Amidror, a former national security adviser, also noted that the rockets fired by Hezbollah at a Haifa train station during the 2006 Second Lebanon War, which killed eight people, were manufactured at the Masyaf facility.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he told Russian President Vladimir Putin explicitly that Israel would act in Syria, during their meeting last month in the Russian city of Sochi.

Russian President Vladimir Putin (L) greets Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ahead of their meeting in Sochi on August 23, 2017. (AFP Photo/Sputnik/Alexey Nikolsky)

“We will act when necessary according to our red lines,” Netanyahu told reporters after the meeting. “In the past, we have done this without asking permission, but we have provided an update on what our policy is.”

But while declaring a policy publicly might send a message to Israel’s allies and enemies about its intentions, nothing can state that position more clearly than a missile.

Yadlin noted that Russia and the US, which are helping negotiate and maintain a ceasefire in Syria, have been “ignoring the red lines that Israel has established.”

For instance, last week, the Arabic daily Asharq Al-Awsat reported that the US agreed to let Iran-backed militias take positions within 10 kilometers of Israel’s border with the Syrian Golan Heights, a troubling notion for the Jewish state as it would open up yet another potential front for terrorist groups in a future conflict.

According to Yadlin, the overnight airstrike also served to show that the presence of Russian troops — and their advanced air defense systems — “do not prevent actions, which are attributed to Israel, in Syria.”

Israeli airstrikes in Syria, while not quotidian, have been a fairly common occurrence over the course of the country’s civil war, which began in 2011. The Jewish state has long-held a public policy of maintaining “red lines” and taking action if they are violated.

A Syrian facility reportedly attacked by Israeli aircraft early on Thursday, September 7, 2017 (screen capture: Twitter)

Yet Thursday’s strike also represented a change in tack for Israel, Amidror said during a phone briefing with reporters organized by the Israel Project.

Yadlin wrote that the attack was “not routine.” Indeed, it was the first airstrike apparently conducted by the IAF since the Russian-American brokered ceasefire went into effect earlier this summer.

Israel has cast doubts over the agreement, which it says allows Iran to entrench itself near the Golan border in southern Syria.

Former Israeli national security adviser Yaakov Amidror. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

According to Amidror, the strike on the CERS base was the first time Israel targeted not a Hezbollah weapons convoy nor a Hezbollah warehouse on a Syrian base, but an Assad regime production facility.

The former national security adviser connected the airstrike to Nasrallah’s visit to Damascus last week. He said that during the terrorist leader’s visit to Syria, he likely secured a deal in which Assad would either “transfer the facility to Hezbollah or at least supply weapons to Hezbollah.”

Amidror noted he did not have access to intelligence to confirm that estimation, but said the “only logical explanation for this attack” was that weapons from the Masyaf base were going to be given to the terrorist group, in violation of one of Israel’s “red lines.”

He added that the target of the strike was likely the missile production facilities on the base, not necessarily the chemical weapons. While Hezbollah is believed to have a stockpile of over 100,000 missiles, Amidror said he was unaware of the terrorist group having significant quantities of chemical weapons in its possession.

Some aspects of the timing of the strike are more than likely coincidence. The 10-year anniversary of Operation Orchard, as the strike on the Syrian nuclear core is known, and the publication of the UN report accusing Assad of a war crime were likely non-factors in conducting the bombing.

According to Amidror, the massive IDF exercise might have served as a certain degree of back-up for the strike, but was probably not a consideration either.

But intentional or not, these factors drive home the point that while Thursday night’s airstrike attributed to Israel might have adhered to the established “red lines” policy, but it was not just more of the same.

 

 

 

Ancient Hebrew Seals From Judean Kingdom Unearthed in Jerusalem Excavations

September 7, 2017

Ancient Hebrew Seals From Judean Kingdom Unearthed in Jerusalem Excavations, Algemeiner, September 6, 2017

First Temple-period seals discovered during excavations in Jerusalem’s City of David. Photo: Eliyahu Yanai, City of David.

JNS.org – A collection of First Temple-period seals has been discovered during excavations in Jerusalem’s City of David.

Several of the seals are emblazoned with Hebrew inscriptions, and dozens of the ancient seals reference the names of officials from the Judean kingdom who lived before the Babylonian destruction of Jerusalem, including “Pinchas” and “Achiav ben Menachem.”

The seals, which are small pieces of clay used to close letters, were well-preserved due the raging fires ignited in the holy city by the invading armies of Babylon thousands of years ago.

The findings were discovered during excavations overseen by the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) in the City of David National Park. The excavations were funded by the Ir David Foundation. The artifacts will be displayed at the City of David’s annual archaeology conference this week.

“Through these findings, we learn not only about the developed administrative systems in the city (Jerusalem), but also about the residents and those who served in the civil service,” said Ortal Chalaf and Dr. Joe Uziel, excavation directors for the IAA.