Archive for January 1, 2018

I wish the Iranian people success in their noble quest for freedom

January 1, 2018

I wish the Iranian people success in their noble quest for freedom, Israeli PM via YouTube, January 1, 2018

Protesters march toward residence of Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei

January 1, 2018

Protesters march toward residence of Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, Al Alaribya, January 1, 2018

(They probably weren’t seeking his blessing. — DM)

Anti-government protesters demonstrated in Iran on Sunday in defiance of a warning by the authorities of a tough crackdown. (Supplied)

[T]here were orders for military commanders to “take all measures to prevent the demonstrators from reaching the house of the Supreme Leader”.

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Several media outlets have reported that a crowd of protestors began marching toward Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei’s residence on Pasteur St. on Sunday night in the capital Tehran.

Sources have confirmed security forces and members of the Revolutionary Guards were heavily deployed in nearby streets Khamenei’s residence.

According to Shahrvand-Yar, a non-profit institution that advocates for democracy and change in Iran, said on its channel on Telgram app that the crowds of protesters began marching toward’s the house at exactly 19:50 Tehran time.

(A video is at the link. — DM)

They added that there were orders for military commanders to “take all measures to prevent the demonstrators from reaching the house of the Supreme Leader”.

Anti-government protesters demonstrated in Iran on Sunday in defiance of a warning by the authorities of a tough crackdown, extending for a fourth day one of the most audacious challenges to the clerical leadership since pro-reform unrest in 2009.

If The Islamic Republic is Falling, it’s Because of Trump

January 1, 2018

If The Islamic Republic is Falling, it’s Because of Trump, FrontPage MagazineRobert Spencer, January 1, 2018

Confronted with those 2009 demonstrations that did not go as far or demand as much, Barack Obama betrayed the demonstrators to every grisly fate that the mullahs could devise for them in their torture chambers. Bent on concluding the disastrous nuclear deal that lined their oppressors’ pockets with billions and set the world on a path to a catastrophic nuclear attack, Obama ensured that the U.S. government didn’t lift a finger or offer a word of support for the protesters, even as they were being gunned down in the streets.

But now the man who is setting the tone is a different man. Trump has come out strongly in favor of the protesters, tweeting: “Many reports of peaceful protests by Iranian citizens fed up with regime’s corruption & its squandering of the nation’s wealth to fund terrorism abroad. Iranian govt should respect their people’s rights, including right to express themselves. The world is watching!”

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In 2009, Iran was swept by demonstrations, just as it is now. But at that time, the protesters were shouting “Allahu akbar,” and there was no indication that they wanted anything but reform of the Islamic regime, not the end of the regime itself. This time, however, the protesters have been chanting: “We don’t want an Islamic Republic!” “Clerics shame on you, let go of our country!” Some have even chanted: “Reza Shah, bless your soul!”

What has changed? Donald Trump.

Reza Shah was the Shah of Iran from 1925 to 1941 and the father of Mohammed Reza Pahlavi, the Shah who was overthrown in the Islamic Revolution in 1979. Reza Shah admired Turkey’s Kemal Ataturk and set Iran on a similar path of Westernization and secularization. In chanting this, the protesters are emphasizing that they do not just want economic reforms, as has been the line of the establishment media in the West. Nor do they want an Islamic Republic that is less corrupt. They don’t want an Islamic Republic at all.

Now why would Trump have anything to do with this? Because he has been singular among the leaders of the world, and the Presidents of the United States since 1989, in demonstrating his readiness to stand up to violent intimidation. President Trump has already made it clear in so many ways, most notably by recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Clinton, Bush, and Obama all spoke about Jerusalem being the capital of Israel, but backed off from recognizing the fact as official U.S. policy, for fear that Muslims would riot and kill innocent people, and that such a recognition would jeopardize the chimerical and fruitless “peace process.”

So should terrorists decide where our embassy should be? Trump was not willing to concede this point. And when one man shows that bullies can be confronted and stood down by people with courage, others are inspired to make the same kind of stand. This new Iranian uprising came just weeks after Trump’s Jerusalem announcement, after the threatened rage and riots of Muslims worldwide in response to that announcement proved to be largely a fizzle.

Is it a coincidence that the Iranian people have stood up to the forces of jihad intimidation just after the President did so? Maybe. But if so, it’s a marvelous one, and in either case it’s illustrative of the power of courage in an age of cowardice.

For here again, even if the Iranian freedom movement has nothing to do with Trump, it is certain that these demonstrations would already be over, and may never have begun, if Hillary Clinton were President of the United States right now. Confronted with those 2009 demonstrations that did not go as far or demand as much, Barack Obama betrayed the demonstrators to every grisly fate that the mullahs could devise for them in their torture chambers. Bent on concluding the disastrous nuclear deal that lined their oppressors’ pockets with billions and set the world on a path to a catastrophic nuclear attack, Obama ensured that the U.S. government didn’t lift a finger or offer a word of support for the protesters, even as they were being gunned down in the streets.

But now the man who is setting the tone is a different man. Trump has come out strongly in favor of the protesters, tweeting: “Many reports of peaceful protests by Iranian citizens fed up with regime’s corruption & its squandering of the nation’s wealth to fund terrorism abroad. Iranian govt should respect their people’s rights, including right to express themselves. The world is watching!”

In a similar vein, State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert said: “Iran’s leaders have turned a wealthy country with a rich history and culture into an economically depleted rogue state whose chief exports are violence, bloodshed, and chaos. As President Trump has said, the longest-suffering victims of Iran’s leaders are Iran’s own people.” Press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders added: “There are many reports of peaceful protests by Iranian citizens fed up with the regime’s corruption and its squandering of the nation’s wealth to fund terrorism abroad. The Iranian government should respect their people’s rights, including their right to express themselves.”

For the people of Iran, with help from Donald Trump, this could just possibly be the dawning of a new era of freedom. Even if the regime remains in power this time, it has been shaken to its core. It cannot afford to be as openly repressive and bloodthirsty as the Chinese at Tienanmen Square. Not, we can hope, with Donald Trump in the White House.

Shalom: U.S. Visitors Show the Way as Israel Books Record Tourist Numbers in 2017

January 1, 2018

Shalom: U.S. Visitors Show the Way as Israel Books Record Tourist Numbers in 2017, BreitbartSimin Kent, January 1, 2018

THOMAS COEX/AFP/Getty

Jerusalem was a destination for 78 percent of tourists in 2017. Other favourites included Tel Aviv-Jaffa, the Dead Sea and the Galilee region.

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Despite endless reports of violence in other parts of the troubled Middle East, a record 3.7 million foreign tourists descended on Israel during 2017 with U.S. visitors showing the way.

The figure represents a 25 percent year-on-year increase, the Israeli business daily Globes reported, citing statistics supplied by the Ministry of Tourism.

By far the largest number of visitors to the Jewish State, close to 700,000, came from the United States. Tourists from Russia represented the second largest group, with some 307,000 tourists.  Then came France, with 284,000, Germany with 202,000 and the United Kingdom with 185,000.

Some 59 percent of the tourists were visiting Israel for the first time, according to Globes. Another 25 per cent said they were there for  religious reasons or a pilgrimage. Some 24 per cent said they were visiting relatives and friends, while 23 per cent said they were planning on touring and hiking. Six percent came with an organised tour package.

Jerusalem was a destination for 78 percent of tourists in 2017. Other favourites included Tel Aviv-Jaffa, the Dead Sea and the Galilee region.

Minister of Tourism Yariv Levin said, “The all-time record number of tourists visiting Israel this year is no accident; it is the result of a clear policy. The actions taken by my ministry since I took up my position have brought Israel an unprecedented peak in incoming tourism.”

The tourism spend was just as healthy, according to the ministry. It reported that tourism contributed some £4.2 billion ($5.8 billion)  to Israel’s economy over 2017, a boom that closely follows last year’s numbers.

As Breitbart Jerusalem reported, a record-high 2.9 million tourists also visited Israel in 2016, of whom 54 per cent were Christians.

It is Time to Pull The Plug on Never-Trumpism

January 1, 2018

It is Time to Pull The Plug on Never-Trumpism, Power LineJohn Hinderaker, December 31, 2017

In short, Never Trumpism can make sense only if you don’t take seriously the importance of the issues with which the president grapples, and on which President Trump has made, I think, remarkable progress in the last 11 months. If the outside world had no meaning, and the pages of the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post encompassed the only, or even the most salient, political reality, then it probably would be reasonable to wish that Hillary Clinton were president. How much simpler things would be!

But for those who take seriously the world that exists outside of newspaper op-ed pages, it is a very good thing that Donald Trump is our president. It is time for the Never Trumpers to gain a sense of perspective, to throw in the towel, and to acknowledge reality.

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As President Trump’s first year in office draws to a close, even the Democrats have been forced to admit that he has accomplished quite a lot. While it pains Democrats to acknowledge Trump’s successes, those successes probably pose more of an existential crisis for the Never Trumpers. They, too, have had to re-examine their premises in light of the president’s track record through (almost) one year. From InstaPundit:

BRET STEPHENS IN THE NYT: “I admit it gives me pause. I agree with every one of the policy decisions mentioned above. But I still wish Hillary Clinton were president. How does that make sense?

And this:

Let’s go back to Never Trumper Bret Stephens. He does a pretty good job of itemizing the administration’s successes, from a conservative point of view:

Tax cuts. Deregulation. More for the military; less for the United Nations. The Islamic State crushed in its heartland. Assad hit with cruise missiles. Troops to Afghanistan. Arms for Ukraine. A tougher approach to North Korea. Jerusalem recognized as Israel’s capital. The Iran deal decertified. Title IX kangaroo courts on campus condemned. Yes to Keystone. No to Paris. Wall Street roaring and consumer confidence high.

And, of course, Neil Gorsuch on the Supreme Court. What, for a conservative, is there to dislike about this policy record as the Trump administration rounds out its first year in office?

That’s the question I keep hearing from old friends on the right who voted with misgiving for Donald Trump last year and now find reasons to like him. I admit it gives me pause. I agree with every one of the policy decisions mentioned above. But I still wish Hillary Clinton were president.

How does that make sense?

Stephens goes on to explain why he is still a Never Trumper. I agree that from a particular point of view, a conservative can rationally be a Never Trumper. It requires a belief that the tone of our politics is important, and that the president contributes greatly toward setting that tone. I am fine with those views. But it requires something more: a belief that the tone (or style) issue is so important that it outweighs all of the policy fronts on which the Trump administration has moved the conservative ball forward.

To come to this conclusion requires, I think, a certain disconnection from reality. The Never Trumper cannot take seriously the possibility that North Korea might drop a nuclear bomb on San Francisco. He cannot find much to worry about in Iran’s potential domination over the Middle East. He must be blind to the critical difference between 1.5% economic growth and 3% economic growth, not to the nation’s elites, who will be fine either way, but to the middle class. He must fail to apprehend the dire threat to the rule of law posed by politicians, professors and–most important–judges who despise the Constitution and believe that law is merely another avenue for the exercise of power. The list goes on.

In short, Never Trumpism can make sense only if you don’t take seriously the importance of the issues with which the president grapples, and on which President Trump has made, I think, remarkable progress in the last 11 months. If the outside world had no meaning, and the pages of the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post encompassed the only, or even the most salient, political reality, then it probably would be reasonable to wish that Hillary Clinton were president. How much simpler things would be!

But for those who take seriously the world that exists outside of newspaper op-ed pages, it is a very good thing that Donald Trump is our president. It is time for the Never Trumpers to gain a sense of perspective, to throw in the towel, and to acknowledge reality.

The Regime Chants “Death to America”, Iranians Chant “Death to Mullahs”

January 1, 2018

The Regime Chants “Death to America”, Iranians Chant “Death to Mullahs”, Gatestone InstituteMajid Rafizadeh, January 1, 2018

(Please see also, Anti-government protests grow more violent in Iran. — DM)

Protesters, risking their lives, have been chanting, “Death to Khamenei” — a serious crime according to the clergy, and punishable, according to the Sharia law of the regime, with death.

People are also chanting, “Death to Rouhani”, “Shame on you Khamenei, step down from power”, “Death to the Dictator” and “Death to the Islamic Republic”. Protesters are tearing down the banners of Iran’s Supreme leaders, Khomeini and Khamenei.

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Now, people in Iran are demanding not just limited reforms but regime change. The government has been doing all it can to stoke the flames of hatred, but has been trying to deflect it to “Death to America” and “Death to Israel”.

The Trump administration is taking the right side by supporting the Iranian people; they are the principal victims of the Iranian regime and its Islamist agenda.

Let us not be on the side of history that would remain silent in the face of such crimes against humanity, let us not join the ranks of other dictators, terrorists, and criminals, that turned a blind eye to violence, and the will of brave, innocent people.

Protests have grown and have spread across Iran in cities such as Tehran, KermanshahShirazRashtQomHamedanAhvazIsfahan, Zahedan, Qazvin, and Sari.

The political nature of the protests has been made clear from the outset and the regime is experiencing a political earthquake. The regime’s gunmen have been out in full force. Despite the brutal power being deployed to crush these peaceful demonstrators — four protestors have already been reported killed — more people are flooding the streets in defiance of the regime.

The scale of these sudden protests is unprecedented during the last four decades of the Islamic Republic of Iran’s rule.

These demonstrations, however, are different from other protests in Iran since 1979, when the theocratic regime was established. In 2009, during the popular uprising in the name of the “Green Movement,” people were protesting against rigged elections and the presidency of the anti-Semitic politician Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Chants echoed through the streets, “Where is my vote?” while the government ratcheted up its power to silence the protestors.

Pictured: People in Tehran, Iran, protest against rigged elections during the popular uprising in the name of the “Green Movement,” on June 16, 2009. (Image source: Milad Avazbeigi/Wikimedia Commons)

Now, people are demanding not just limited reforms but regime change. After almost four decades of living under a theocracy — with Islamist mullahs controlling them, rampant corruption, and the regime’s persistent dissemination of propaganda — the people have reached the boiling point. The government has been doing all it can to stoke the flames of hatred, but has been trying to deflect it to “Death to America” and “Death to Israel”.

Protesters, risking their lives, have been chanting, “Death to Khamenei” — a serious crime according to the clergy, and punishable, according to the Sharia law of the regime, with death.

People are also chanting, “Death to Rouhani”, “Shame on you Khamenei, step down from power”, “Death to the Dictator” and “Death to the Islamic Republic”. Protesters are tearing down the banners of Iran’s Supreme leaders, Khomeini and Khamenei.

Chants being heard all over the nation are, “Forget about Palestine, forget about Gaza, think about us”, “Death to Hezbollah”, “The people live like beggars / [Khamenei] lives like a God,” and “Leave Syria alone, think about us instead”.

The outcry leaves no question about the needs of the people, and the real voice of Iran. Demonstrators are making a clear distinction between the Iranian people’s desired policies and those being carried out by the regime. All political and economic indications are that protests in Iran will continue to grow.

The Trump administration in the United States is taking the right side by supporting the Iranian people; they are the principal victims of the Iranian regime and its Islamist agenda.

US President Donald Trump tweeted:

“Many reports of peaceful protests by Iranian citizens fed up with regime’s corruption & its squandering of the nation’s wealth to fund terrorism abroad. Iranian govt should respect their people’s rights, including right to express themselves. The world is watching! #IranProtests”

In another statement, the U.S. State Department said:

“On June 14, 2017, Secretary Tillerson accurately testified to Congress that he supports ‘those elements inside of Iran that would lead to a peaceful transition of government. Those elements are there, certainly as we know.’ The Secretary today repeats his deep support for the Iranian people.”

Let us be clear. The fault lines are completely visible. If you are on the side of justice, freedom, and basic human rights, and if you respect humanity, you will not be able to remain silent. Let us at least give moral support, if not more, to the Iranian people. Justice and truth need to prevail. This is what history has repeatedly shown us. Let us not be on the side of history that would remain silent in the face of such crimes against humanity, let us not join the ranks of other dictators, terrorists, and criminals, that turned a blind eye to violence, and the will of brave, innocent people.

Dr. Majid Rafizadeh, is a business strategist and advisor, Harvard-educated scholar, political scientist, board member of Harvard International Review, and president of the International American Council on the Middle East. He is the author of “Peaceful Reformation in Iran’s Islam“.

Trump: The American Churchill?

January 1, 2018

Trump: The American Churchill? NEO, January 1, 2018

(An excellent article by my friend NEO. — DM)

Gates of Vienna

Too soon to say, but I think he’s going to be a very good president, and great is not out of the question. Yes, that sound is liberal heads exploding all over the world. That’s an unexpected benefit.

Trump may just be our Churchill.  They certainly share some personality traits.  Churchill’s love of England saved England.  Trump’s love of America may save us as well.

Well, yeah, there are similarities, not least that both have outsize personalities and neither is afraid to express themselves colorfully. It doesn’t denigrate Trump to say he is not Churchill anymore than it would to say Churchill is not Trump. They are each their own man, and the better for it.

History is doing a bit of rhyming here, but as usual, it is not repeating, not even as farce.

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First things first. Good morning and Happy 2018. Hopefully, we are all wise enough that our heads don’t hurt too badly. :P, In any case, it looks like a warm one here today, my thermometer says it’s all of -2°F here, so it’s probably not the day for me to wear my shorts and sandals to the beach. Beached whales everywhere are no doubt grateful!

Patricia McCarthy over at American Thinker had a radical thought, Could Donald Trump be our Sir Winston? Sounds rather laughable on the surface, but I think she has a point. Let’s see what you think.

Comparing the late Prime Minister Winston Churchill to President Donald Trump is guaranteed to elicit scorn from intellectuals, for one was a prolific man of letters, while the other speaks in the vocabulary of the common man.  One was a journalist and scholar, while the other is a builder, deal-maker, and master persuader (as Scott Adams argues).  And one smoked and drank prolifically, while the other abstains from both. […]

Chamberlain resigned, and Churchill accepted King George VI’s appointment to the position of prime minister, but the king, and both parties of Parliament, loathed Churchill.  They, both sides, also knew he was the only man to lead at that moment in time.  Neville Chamberlain’s unfortunate good-will gesture at Munich had been a disaster. Only Churchill realized and had incessantly warned about the evil that was Hitler’s regime.  FDR, hoping to avoid U.S. intervention in the war, was not helpful or forthcoming with military aid just yet.  Roosevelt eventually rose to the occasion but had not fully discerned the evil that Hitler represented to the world.  Churchill did.  FDR was not the wartime leader Churchill was.

Her remarks about FDR are quite a lot more charitable than I would be. Still, there are two points, the American people were in no mood to intervene, nor was Congress, any more than the British were ready to go to war at the time of Munich. In both cases, while hindsight is 20/20, it simply wasn’t possible. The other thing is that Roosevelt, while sympathetic to Britain and Churchill, was both an American patriot, not a British one, and was always anti-Empire. Most Americans were, in fact. While we may be fine with the people of the Empire, and in fact were, and are, the fact of the Empire, always troubled us. But FDR was by no means the leader that Churchill was. FDR was a man of words, the closest he came to combat was as Assistant Secretary of the Navy. He could marshall words very well, although Churchill was better, but lacked personal experience to make them ring true. Churchill had that experience and it matters.

To the horror of our 2016 establishment, Donald Trump was elected.  He has been as loathed as Churchill was when he took on the P.M. job as the catastrophe at Dunkirk was unfolding.  Like Churchill, Trump is a bit reckless with his opinions and his speech.  Churchill regularly offended people on both sides of the political spectrum, as does Trump.  Churchill was innovative, imaginative.  He devised the civilian boat rescue of all those soldiers at Dunkirk.  It worked.  Trump has, in a year, defeated ISIS, although the media are loath to report that.  Trump has revitalized the economy beyond anything Obama was able to do.  He has successfully rolled back the restrictive regulations Obama put in place that have strangled the economy and suppressed GDP growth to 2% for eight years. […]

I think we are going to find that Trump’s years in the cutthroat world of New York Real Estate is going to stand the US in very good stead as we negotiate around the world. The fact that he seems to understand how to give orders and let people execute them also helps. It fascinates me to watch him effortlessly outmaneuver Theresa May for example. Like the media, he trolls her effortlessly, leaving her looking stupid at best.

Too soon to say, but I think he’s going to be a very good president, and great is not out of the question. Yes, that sound is liberal heads exploding all over the world. That’s an unexpected benefit.

Trump may just be our Churchill.  They certainly share some personality traits.  Churchill’s love of England saved England.  Trump’s love of America may save us as well.

Well, yeah, there are similarities, not least that both have outsize personalities and neither is afraid to express themselves colorfully. It doesn’t denigrate Trump to say he is not Churchill anymore than it would to say Churchill is not Trump. They are each their own man, and the better for it.

History is doing a bit of rhyming here, but as usual, it is not repeating, not even as farce.