Archive for the ‘Democrats’ category

If the President Is Not the Subject of a Criminal Investigation, Then Say So

May 19, 2017

If the President Is Not the Subject of a Criminal Investigation, Then Say So, PJ Media, Andrew C. McCarthy, May 19, 2017

Succeeding Louis F. Freeh in Washington, DC. Robert Mueller named special prosecutor for Russia probe, Washington DC, USA – 17 May 2017 (Rex Features via AP Images)

Thus, to the extent it involves the president, the investigation announced to the public is a counterintelligence probe. That matters because it would mean the president is not a criminal suspect. A counterintelligence probe is not intended to build a criminal prosecution. It is intended to collect information. Its purpose is to uncover the actions and intentions of foreign powers to the extent they bear on American interests.

To this point, after months of congressional and intelligence-community investigations, there appears to be no evidence, much less strong proof, of a crime committed by Trump. But Democrats calculate that the assignment of a prosecutor implies that there must be an underlying crime — an implication that Sen. Graham’s comments reinforce. That is why they pushed so hard for a special counsel. It fills a big hole in their narrative. They can now say, “What do you mean no crime? They’ve appointed a prosecutor, so there must be a crime — collusion, obstruction, Russia … it’s a crime wave!”

******************************

Well is he, or isn’t he?

Almost everything in a counterintelligence investigation is classified. And much of what goes on in a criminal investigation is secret, kept confidential by investigators and prosecutors. But there is one thing that need be neither classified nor otherwise concealed from the American people: the status of the president.

Is the president of the United States the subject of a criminal investigation?

If he is not, then the Justice Department and special counsel Robert Mueller owe it to the country to say so. There is no reason to be coy about it. In fact, because a president under criminal suspicion would be crippled, his inability to govern detrimental to the nation, it is imperative to be forthright about his status.

Instead, political games are being played and the public is forming an impression — which I strongly suspect is a misimpression — based on semantics. There is no guaranteed outcome in an investigation, but the government should not be able to keep from us the precise nature of the investigation when it involves the president and when the fact that there is an investigation has already been disclosed publicly.

We’ve been told that the main investigation, the one that deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein has appointed special counsel Mueller to conduct, is a counterintelligence investigation. That is what former FBI director James Comey revealed (with the approval of the Justice Department) in House testimony on March 20:

I have been authorized by the Department of Justice to confirm that the FBI, as part of our counterintelligence mission, is investigating the Russian government’s efforts to interfere in the 2016 presidential election and that includes investigating the nature of any links between individuals associated with the Trump campaign and the Russian government and whether there was any coordination between the campaign and Russia’s efforts. (Emphasis added.)

In appointing Mueller on May 17, Rosenstein issued an internal Justice Department order stating:

The Special Counsel is authorized to conduct the investigation confirmed by then-FBI Director James B. Comey in testimony before the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence on March 20, 2017, including (i) any links and/or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign of Donald Trump[.]

Thus, to the extent it involves the president, the investigation announced to the public is a counterintelligence probe. That matters because it would mean the president is not a criminal suspect. A counterintelligence probe is not intended to build a criminal prosecution. It is intended to collect information. Its purpose is to uncover the actions and intentions of foreign powers to the extent they bear on American interests.

Yet the New York Times reports that Rosenstein, in briefing the Senate Thursday:

 … affirmed that the Justice Department’s inquiry was focused on possible crimes.

This portrayal of the purported “focus” of the investigation was echoed by several senators, including Republicans Lindsey Graham and John Cornyn.

To be clear, I don’t believe Graham and Cornyn are trying to create a misimpression. To the contrary, I think they are hoping to scale back high-profile congressional hearings about the controversy. Hearings that are paralyzing the administration and frittering away the legislative time needed to push forward the Trump agenda of addressing Obamacare’s ongoing collapse, tax reform, border enforcement, the confirmation of executive officials and judges, and so on.

Yet, listen to Sen. Graham:

You’ve got a special counsel who has prosecutorial powers now, and I think we in Congress have to be very careful not to interfere.

What he means is that once a Justice Department investigation gears up, Congress should back off. But his choice of words would lead any reasonable person to infer: “Ah-hah! Now we have a serious criminal investigation. People are going to be prosecuted.”

On the Democrats’ part, this conflation of intelligence and criminal investigations is quite intentional.

If the probe of Trump’s campaign is about crimes (rather than intelligence about Russia), then they move much closer to the ultimate goal of impeachment, to say nothing of the immediate goals of derailing Trump’s agenda and reaping an electoral windfall in 2018.

This has been one of my main objections to the appointment of a special counsel. To this point, after months of congressional and intelligence-community investigations, there appears to be no evidence, much less strong proof, of a crime committed by Trump. But Democrats calculate that the assignment of a prosecutor implies that there must be an underlying crime — an implication that Sen. Graham’s comments reinforce. That is why they pushed so hard for a special counsel. It fills a big hole in their narrative. They can now say, “What do you mean no crime? They’ve appointed a prosecutor, so there must be a crime — collusion, obstruction, Russia … it’s a crime wave!”

In advancing this storyline, Democrats have gotten plenty of help from the FBI and the Justice Department.

In his March 20 testimony, Comey elaborated:

As with any counterintelligence investigation, this will also include an assessment of whether any crimes were committed.

With due respect, this is a heavy-handed way of putting it. As is well-known throughout the FBI and Justice Department, it is not permissible to use counterintelligence investigative authority to conduct what is in reality a criminal case. It is true enough that if, in the course of a counterintelligence probe, FBI agents incidentally discover that crimes have been committed, they are not required to ignore those crimes. But the agents do not go into a counterintelligence probe with an eye toward collecting criminal evidence. If the point is to build a criminal case, you do a criminal investigation.

Rosenstein’s clumsily worded order also contributes to the confusion. The Comey testimony cited by Rosenstein made it clear that there is a broad investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election, and that examining the nature of links and coordination — if any — between the Trump campaign and the Russian regime is just a part of it. Rosenstein’s order, by contrast, describes the investigation as if its sole focus is ties between the Trump campaign and Russia. For the life of me, I don’t understand why he framed it that way; he could simply have referred to “the investigation confirmed by” Comey and left it at that. Why would the Trump Justice Department gratuitously highlight the notion of Trump-Russia ties when, so far, none have been proved?

Moreover, Rosenstein’s memo goes on to explain that Mueller’s investigative jurisdiction includes any “matters” that arise out of the investigation. This is unavoidable: it needs to be clarified that the special counsel has authority to prosecute any crimes he may stumble upon while conducting the counterintelligence investigation. But the expression of this happenstance reinforces the notion that crimes have been committed.

And of course, crimes may well have been committed … but not, so far as we know, by Trump.

We might think about the main investigation, the counterintelligence investigation, as the mother ship. Attached to it, but not part of its core, are barnacles. There is the investigation of Michael Flynn, which is known to be a criminal probe — there is a grand jury issuing subpoenas, which is not something that happens in a counterintelligence investigation. There have also been suggestions of a barnacle, potentially criminal in nature, related to former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, related to shady dealings with Ukrainian pols tied to Putin, in the years prior to the campaign.

Evidence of this (potentially) criminal activity came to light because the FBI and Justice Department were conducting the main counterintelligence investigation. Consequently, the activity comes within the special counsel’s jurisdiction — he is authorized to investigate and prosecute it. But this does not convert the main investigation into a criminal investigation. It is still a counterintelligence investigation.

So notice the cynical game: the public statements of the FBI, the Justice Department, and Democrats exploit the fact of the counterintelligence investigation as a basis for saying that agents are investigating Trump. But they are not investigating him as a criminal suspect — the subject of the counterterrorism investigation is Russia; Trump is relevant only to the extent that people connected to his campaign may have ties to Russia.

In tandem, the public statements of the FBI, the Justice Department, and Democrats exploit the fact that the activities of Flynn and Manafort are part of the investigation in order to describe the investigation as “criminal.” But the criminal aspects of the investigation are tangential to the main event, Russia and any potential ties to Trump, which is not criminal.

See the trick? Trump is part of the investigation, the investigation is part criminal, ergo: Trump must be a criminal suspect.

Such word games should not happen.

No one appreciates more than I do the importance of discretion in official public announcements about investigations. But when officials choose to make highly unusual public acknowledgments that an investigation is taking place, they should never create a misimpression. If they have done so, however inadvertently, they must clarify the record.

It is very simple, if President Trump is the subject of a criminal investigation, the Justice Department owes it to the American people, and to Trump, to say so. If he is not the subject of a criminal investigation, they should say so — and they should cease and desist suggestions to the contrary.

A Coup Attempt, Not a Constitutional Crisis

May 19, 2017

A Coup Attempt, Not a Constitutional Crisis, PJ MediaDavid P. Goldman, May 18, 2017

Trump won by calling attention to the errors of his opponents and by dominating the news cycle. He played continuous offense. At the White House, by contrast, Trump has appeared cautious in stating his foreign policy goals, and defensive in responding to attacks on his performance and propriety. The policy issues that stood out clear during the campaign and helped Trump outflank the Republican Establishment have become fuzzy, especially after the firing of Gen. Flynn.

With the policy issues out of focus, Trump has lost control of the news cycle, and risks letting the news cycle control him. His opponents won’t succeed in dislodging him. But they have succeeded in distracting Trump from his policy agenda.

***************************

A ranking Republican statesman this week told an off-the-record gathering that a “coup” attempt was in progress against President Donald Trump, with collusion between the largely Democratic media and Trump’s numerous enemies in the Republican Party. The object of the coup, the Republican leader added, was not impeachment, but the recruitment of a critical mass of Republican senators and congressmen to the claim that Trump was “unfit” for office and to force his resignation.

It’s helpful to fan away the psychedelic fumes of allegation and innuendo and clarify just what Trump might have done wrong. Trump will not be impeached, and he will not be harried out of office. But he faces a formidable combination of media hostility—what the president today denounced as a “witch hunt”—and a divided White House staff prone to press leaks. The likely outcome will be a prolonged dirty war of words that will delay Trump’s domestic agenda and tie down his loyalists with the chores of fire-fighting.

One thinks of Gulliver tied down by the Lilliputians. Trump was elected by campaigning against the Republican Establishment as well as Obama, ridiculing their policy blunders in Iraq and Afghanistan and questioning their credibility. In the flurry of personal attacks, the underlying policy issues have faded into the background, and that gives the initiative to Trump’s enemies.

Nothing that has been alleged, much less proven, about President Trump comes close to the threshold for impeachment, as Prof. Jonathan Turley of George Washington University’s law school explained in a May 17 comment in The Hill. Even if Trump asked then FBI Director James Comey to go easy on Gen. Michael Flynn, Prof. Turley notes, “Encouraging leniency or advocating for an associate is improper but not necessarily” illegal. The charge of obstruction of justice presumes that there is an issue before the bar of justice, but as Turley adds, “There is no indication of a grand jury proceeding at the time of the Valentine’s Day meeting between Trump and Comey. Obstruction cases generally are built around judicial proceedings — not Oval Office meetings.”

The appointment of respected former FBI Director Robert Mueller as special counsel to look into allegations of Russian interference in the November 2016 election strongly suggests that the Trump team feels it has nothing to fear from a thorough review. In this case Trump’s detractors appear to be bluffing. Press reports of contacts between Trump’s campaign and Russian diplomats and businessmen appear to reflect the sort of conversations that every presidential campaign conducts with important foreign governments. It is not clear that Russia was responsible for the delivery of embarrassing Democratic National Committee emails to Wikileaks, moreover. Pro-Trump media report that DNC staffer Seth Rich was Wikileaks’ source. Rich was murdered on a Washington street in July 2016, and a counter-conspiracy theory is circulating about his death.

Then there is the alleged leak of highly classified intelligence on the laptop bomb threat to airliners, of which Wall Street Journal editors intoned, “Loose Lips Sink Presidencies.” Exactly what the president told the Russians is under dispute, but the salient fact in the case is that presidents and cabinet members frequently leak classified information without prompting the condemnations that piled up on Trump. Obama’s then Defense Secretary Leon Panetta leaked the role of Pakistani physician Shakil Afridi in locating Osama bin Laden’s lair, and President Obama himself revealed that Seal Team 6 had killed Osama, making the unit a subsequent  target for terrorists. Apart from inadvertent leaks, the Obama administration deliberately leaked British nuclear secrets to Russia, over bitter protests from London.

Why did Obama get a pass while Trump got the bum’s rush? Apart from the antipathy of the major media to a candidate who campaigned against them, there is the hostility of the intelligence agencies. That, the Wall Street Journal editors said, is Trump’s own fault: “Mr. Trump’s strife and insults with the intelligence community were also bound to invite blowback,” their May 17 editorial scolded. “In that case the public leaks about Mr. Trump’s actions, if true, will do more damage than whatever he said in private.”

The Journal editors imply that disaffection in the intelligence community is the result of Trump’s obstreperousness, but the source of the dispute is policy and accountability. Trump’s first national security adviser, Gen. Michael Flynn, was fired by Obama as head of the Defense Intelligence Agency for claiming that U.S. intelligence agencies bore some responsibility for the emergence of ISIS. The CIA funded Sunni rebels against the Assad regime including many from a branch of al-Qaeda, the al-Nusra Front, in its campaign to overthrow Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Trump has shifted America’s priority to stopping the bloodshed in Syria rather than forcing out al-Assad, and is willing to work with Russia to achieve this—provided that the result doesn’t give undue influence to Iran, a senior administration official explained.

A shift to peacemaking and the limited possibility of a regional deal with Russia away from the covert war operations of the CIA under the Obama administration represents a major policy change. It threatens the credibility of Sen. McCain, the Wall Street Journal editorial page, and the Republican Establishment, not to mention the CIA officials who made their careers on collaboration with Syria’s Sunni rebels.

During the campaign, candidate Trump delivered an effective message that he would abandon the costly and unpopular nation-building campaigns of his predecessors and focus instead on America’s own security. He attacked not only Obama but the George W. Bush administration and the Republican Establishment which had fostered a failing policy in the region.

Trump won by calling attention to the errors of his opponents and by dominating the news cycle. He played continuous offense. At the White House, by contrast, Trump has appeared cautious in stating his foreign policy goals, and defensive in responding to attacks on his performance and propriety. The policy issues that stood out clear during the campaign and helped Trump outflank the Republican Establishment have become fuzzy, especially after the firing of Gen. Flynn.

With the policy issues out of focus, Trump has lost control of the news cycle, and risks letting the news cycle control him. His opponents won’t succeed in dislodging him. But they have succeeded in distracting Trump from his policy agenda.

Is Trump Derangement Syndrome curable?

May 17, 2017

Is Trump Derangement Syndrome curable? Bill Whittle Channel via YouTube, May 16, 2017

 

Trump’s “Muslim Ban,” Obamacare and Sally Yates

May 12, 2017

Trump’s “Muslim Ban,” Obamacare and Sally Yates, Dan Miller’s Blog, Dan Miller, May 12, 2017

(The views expressed in this article are mine and do not necessarily reflect those of Warsclerotic or its other editors. — DM)

President Trump’s initial executive order imposed a temporary ban on refugees from seven countries where terrorism is endemic and information on potential refugees is scant, pending development of a workable vetting procedure. He later vacated the initial order and replaced it with one affecting only six countries and making other changes not relevant to the points addressed in this article. 

The initial executive order was rejected as unconstitutional, apparently because in violation of the First Amendment (freedom of religion), by several district court judges and the replacement order has had the same fate. The rulings were based, not on the text of the orders, but on Candidate Trump’s campaign references to a “Muslim ban.” Both orders applied equally to non-Muslims and Muslims from the subject countries. Neither mentioned, nor banned, nor applied to anyone from, any other Muslim majority country. According to the Pew Research Center, in 2010 there were “49 countries in which Muslims comprise more than 50% of the population.”

On May 11th, law Professor Jonathan Turley wrote an article titled Sally in Wonderland: The “Curiouser and Curiouser” Position of The Former Acting Attorney General. It deals with the testimony of now-former (fired) acting Attorney General Sally Yates concerning her refusal to allow the Department of Justice to support President Trump’s initial executive order. Ms. Yates was a hold-over from the Obama administration.

Professor Turley opined on Ms. Yates’ decision in the context of this graphic:

Sometimes congressional hearings bring clarity to controversies. Many times they do not. Controversies can become “curiouser and curiouser,” as they did for Alice in Wonderland. That was the case with the testimony of fired acting Attorney General Sally Yates before the Senate Judiciary Committee this week discussing her unprecedented decision to order the entire Justice Department not to assist President Trump in defending the first immigration order. Yates was lionized by Democratic senators as a “hero” and has been celebrated in the media for her “courageous stand.” However, for those concerned about constitutional law and legal ethics, there is little to celebrate in Yates’ stand. Indeed, her explanation before the Senate only made things more confusing. It was a curious moment for the new Alice of the Beltway Wonderland: “Curiouser and curiouser!” cried Alice (she was so much surprised, that for the moment she quite forgot how to speak good English).”

There has been considerable speculation on why Yates would engineer such a confrontation, but what is more important is her justification for ordering an entire federal department to stand down and not to assist a sitting president. Yates’ prior explanation fell considerably short of the expected basis for such a radical step. She dismissed the review of the Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) by insisting that those career lawyers only look at the face of the order and did not consider Trump’s campaign statements and his real motivations. Of course, many question the use of campaign rhetoric as a basis for reviewing an order written months later by an administration. Most notably, Yates did not conclude that the order was unconstitutional (in contradiction with her own OLC). Rather, she said that she was not convinced that the order was “wise or just” or was “lawful.” She does not explain the latter reference but then added that she was acting on her duty to “always seek justice and stand for what is right.” That is a rather ambiguous standard to support this type of obstruction of a sitting president. [Emphasis added.]

. . . .

Sen. John Kennedy, R-La., asked, “Did you believe, then, that there were reasonable arguments that could be made in its defense?” In an astonishing response, Yates said no because she decided on her view of Trump’s real intent and not the language of the order. However, many judges disagree with implied motive as the appropriate standard for review, as evidenced by the oral argument this week before the Fourth Circuit. More importantly, at the time of her decision, many experts (including some of us who opposed the order) were detailing how past cases and the statutory language favored the administration. It is ridiculous to suggest that there were no reasonable arguments supporting the order. [Emphasis added.]

I agree with Professor Turley’s analysis and posted the following comment arguing that there is Supreme Court precedent for ignoring politically oriented campaign rhetoric such as Candidate Trump’s reference to a “Muslim ban.”

Ms. Yates testified that substantially the same standards of review apply to executive orders as to acts of Congress.

When Obamacare was under discussion prior to enactment and when it was enacted, its basis was claimed to be the Commerce Clause of the Constitution. Those who wrote Obamacare and those who voted for it rejected the notion that it was a tax because to accept that classification would have been political suicide. President Obama did not suggest to the public that Obamacare was a tax. He claimed that it was appropriate under the Commerce Clause. As I recall, counsel for the Government rejected classification as a tax during oral argument, relying instead on the commerce clause.

The majority opinion written by Chief justice Roberts held that although violative of the Commerce clause, Obamacare was permissible instead under the powers granted by the Constitution to impose taxes and was, therefore, compliant with the Constitution. Even after the decision was released, President Obama continued to claim that it was not a tax.

Chief Justice Roberts cited the Congressional power to tax the non-purchase of gasoline — something the Congress had never done as to gasoline or any other commodity or service. He did not suggest how it could be done: tax everybody who fails to purchase gasoline, only the owners of automobiles, only the owners of gasoline reliant automobiles, only those owning such automobiles but failing to purchase specified quantities, and so on. As I recall, Prof. Turley wrote an article questioning the majority opinion’s reliance on the taxing powers of Congress. [Professor Turley wrote about the decision in an article title Et tu, Roberts? Federalism Falls By The Hand Of A Friend.– DM]

The evident basis of the Obamacare decision was the notion that acts of Congress are to be upheld if there is any Constitutional basis for doing so — despite politically motivated statements by members of Congress who had voted for it and despite assertions by the President and others that it was not a tax. Under the standard applied by Ms. Yates to President Trump’s executive order, such statements would have rendered Obamacare unconstitutional and obligated her, as Acting Attorney General, to refuse to support it in court. [Emphasis added.]

Ms. Yates was asked neither about the standard applied by the Supreme Court in upholding Obamacare nor her application of an apparently different standard to President Trump’s executive order.

The judges who have thus far rejected President Trump’s initial and second executive order adopted the same rationale as Ms. Yates. The judges who upheld the orders obviously did not.

It is probable that the Supreme Court will eventually decide on the constitutionality of President Trump’s revised executive order, particularly if (as seems likely) there is a split in the circuits. Justice Gorsuch will likely be among the justices who decide the case and the executive order will very likely be held constitutional. There will probably be more than five votes for its affirmation.

In the meantime, America will continue to receive substantial numbers of unvetted and potentially dangerous refugees whose admission the executive orders were intended to prevent. Oh well. What’s a few more American deaths by jihadists? What difference at this point does it make?

Democrats vs. Free Speech

May 1, 2017

Democrats vs. Free Speech,  Power LineJohn Hinderaker, April 30, 2017

It’s happening all across the country, not just at bastions of photo-fascism like Berkeley and Middlebury. The University of Arkansas one of many recent instances. Wherever Democrats predominate, they enforce orthodoxy. I seriously believe they would shut us all up, if they could get away with it.

The way Michael Ramirez portrays Berkeley goes for the entire Left. Click to enlarge:

“Now I can sit down, relax, and burn a good book.” Heh.

A Test for the Anti-Trump Movement

February 28, 2017

A Test for the Anti-Trump Movement, Tablet MagazineBari Weiss, February 28, 2017

(Please see also, Perez, Ellison and the Meaning of Anti-Semitism. — DM)

A movement that has so much to say about the value of black lives, of transgender lives, of women’s lives, of Latino lives, of Muslim lives, of the lives of the disabled and the poor and the weak, but becomes mealy-mouthed and contingent about the lives of Jews when those Jews happen to live in the land of Israel should make any person of conscience question the sincerity of that movement.

Indeed, what’s perhaps even more disturbing is the increasing tendency on the part of Jews to silence themselves on these fundamental moral matters to fit in or to avoid accusations of being soft on Trump. On this, our leaders must do better, even though it will surely mean fewer likes and retweets from popular progressives. It’s incumbent upon those who assert themselves as representatives of the Jewish community not to paper over this disturbing hypocrisy—especially if what they are trying to do is convince amcha that it’s still in their best interest to be at the anti-Trump table.

Somehow it seems that Jews are always the ones being asked to check their identity at the door in movements driven by identity politics. We may assiduously follow the “two-thirds and 51 percent” rule, but our partners often do not. If asking for something so minimal—to disassociate and condemn a woman who murdered innocent Jews—seems impolite or greedy, then perhaps the compromise we have made is rotten.

*************************************

In the week leading up to the presidential election, like hockey players who refuse to shave during the playoffs, the women of the Weiss family lived in their “Pussy Grabs Back” T-shirts. For months, our family texts had buzzed day and night with emoji-laden reactions to the latest Trump outrage, while my mother waged a very personal campaign against the Republican candidate. When the first Tuesday in November was upon us, my dad, who has a giant poster of William F. Buckley in his office, bowed to shalom bayit and wrote in Steph Curry.

All of this camaraderie put me in a strange position. Since the crucible of my college years—in which being an outspoken Zionist made you fascist, supporting the war in Iraq made you an imperialist, and believing that some cultures are indeed more enlightened than others a hegemon—I’ve gotten used to feeling politically homeless. I’m typically the hardass among the squishes. All of a sudden, I found myself making common cause with those whom I disagree with vehemently on, say, the Iran deal (bad), the necessity of teaching Western Civ. (good), and most certainly Israel. It is the difference on the Jewish state that has been the starkest and the most painful, as anyone who has paid any attention to the increasingly leftward tilt of the Democratic Party will not be surprised to learn.

One of the rising stars of this new generation of progressive politicos is Linda Sarsour, who was honored as a “champion of change” by the Obama administration and is now one of the anti-Trump movement’s most visible leaders. Sarsour, a longtime Arab-American community organizer, was one of the heads of the Women’s March in Washington and is the named plaintiff in the high-profile lawsuit against Trump’s immigration ban. The image of her, hijab-clad and flashing a defiant smile, rivaled the pink knitted hat as the unofficial symbol of the march.

She is also a proudly outspoken supporter of BDS. “Nothing is creepier than Zionism,” she has tweeted, a remark that, along with the fact that in December she posed for a photo with a former Hamas operative, stirred a series of critical pieces on right-wing websites in the days following the march on the capital. Within hours, Sarsour’s newfound friends and supporters—do I even need mention that Mark Ruffalo and Susan Sarandon were among them?—burst forth with a social-media-driven campaign dubbed #IMarchWithLinda, in which the stories about her background and views were presented as vicious hatchet jobs by pro-Trump legions determined to slow the momentum of the anti-Trump brigades. Indeed, how could a woman who last week made headlines for organizing a fundraising drive that raised more than $56,000 to repair the desecrated Jewish cemetery in St. Louis harbor hostility to Jews?

Among those who have pledged allegiance to Sarsour are prominent Jewish leaders and rabbis. Criticism of the Muslim activist was nothing but “a deliberate smear campaign from the far right to delegitimize the march itself,” said Los Angeles Rabbi Sharon Brous, expressing the view of many other anti-Trump Jews. “This is a time for serious coalition-building, for standing beside other minority populations that are targeted. It is time for people to stand for and with each other. There will be in the mix a number of different perspectives. I don’t feel at all uncomfortable about that,” Brous has said. “A much greater problem would be if the Jewish community stepped out of activism because we’re afraid that someone on the stage has a position on BDS different than our own.”

This was something of a dodge, because, as Brous and others must know, Sarsour’s odious views aren’t limited to BDS, and stretch particularly into issues that directly relate to the systemic oppression of women. “You’ll know when you’re living under Sharia Law if suddenly all your loans & credit cards become interest-free. Sound nice, doesn’t it?” Sarsour tweeted about the Islamic law code that justifies beating women and considers the testimony of a woman half that of a man. She has also denigrated the anti-Islamist feminist Ayaan Hirsi Ali in astonishingly vulgar terms, insisting that Hirsi Ali is “not a real woman” and joking that she wishes she could take away Ali’s vagina—a particularly vicious bon mot, given that Hirsi Ali was well-known as a victim of genital mutilation in her native Somalia.

Still, anti-Trumpers argued, Sarsour’s personal imperfections didn’t come close to forcing Jews to disavow her and her movement. Echoing Brous, Yehuda Kurtzer, president of the Shalom Hartman Institute of North America, pushed back against those who use support of Israel as a single-issue litmus test. In a piece in the Jewish Journal, he made the case that American Jews should stick to what he dubbed the “two-thirds and 51 percent” rule: “We identify in political communities, or organize for particular causes, with people who share, or at least do not operate in contradistinction to, two-thirds of our core moral imperatives, and with whom we agree on a minimum of 51 percent of our moral concerns,” he writes. By this standard, Sarsour’s leadership role is not a deal breaker. “Rotten compromise, the kind we must not do,” wrote Kurtzer, “entails making common cause with evil.”

So what does boundary-crossing evil look like? Is it OK, for example, to support the civil rights of Palestinians, undocumented immigrants, and women who wear hijab while also calling for the denial of the national and indigenous rights of Jews, and rejecting the rights of women in Muslim-majority countries to control their own bodies? Is that a fair definition of Kurtzer’s 51-percent rule? If you call for the death of Zionists but support Palestinian nationalism, is being against Donald Trump the moral tie-breaker that makes you a legitimate ally of American Jews like me—and immune from our criticism? Kurtzer doesn’t say, but the assumption was that nothing had thus far emerged in the anti-Trump movement to meet the rotten compromise test.

That logic resonated with almost all the anti-Trump Jews I know, who either actively rallied around Sarsour, or—like me—held their tongues. I justified it by telling myself that no political movement is perfect, no coalition entirely pure. Opposing this president, I reasoned, is too critical a priority.

Now, unhappily, the anti-Trump movement has produced a leader far worse than Sarsour: a woman whose actions must surely qualify as evil. If they don’t, the problem doesn’t belong to Zionists or Jews, but to the movement itself—and even more so to the spiritual health of the political party angling to benefit from it.

***

The names Leon Kaner and Edward Jaffe are now lost to history, but Rasmea Odeh surely remembers them well. Kaner and Jaffe are the 21-year-old and 22-year-old who went to a Jerusalem supermarket on Feb. 21, 1969 to pick up food for a trip and were blown up thanks to a bomb that Odeh and an accomplice had placed there. Nine others were injured in the blast. Four days later, a second bomb that the duo planted exploded at the British Consulate. Odeh was sentenced to life in prison by Israel but was released in a prisoner exchange in the early 1980s.

This convicted terrorist has surfaced since the march on Washington as a new leader of the women’s movement, announcing its next global action in the pages of the Guardian: a worldwide women’s strike on March 8. Along with Angela Davis and several others, Odeh called for a day of “striking, marching, blocking roads, bridges, and squares, abstaining from domestic care and sex work, boycotting, calling out misogynistic politicians and companies, striking in educational institutions.” And the organizers of the Washington March followed Odeh’s lead, recently announcing their participation in this international “day without women.”

The political stupidity of embracing Odeh is plain. What better ammunition could there possibly be for a White House all too keen to dismiss a genuine grassroots movement as paid professional protestors and anti-American anarchists than the public participation of a bona fide terrorist? If the anti-Trump movement is going to stand for tolerance, genuine liberalism, civility, and decency—everything we disdain Trump for disdaining—Odeh and her ilk can have no place in it.

But there is a deeper, darker point here beyond strategy: It concerns the alarming cheapness of Jewish blood. A movement that has so much to say about the value of black lives, of transgender lives, of women’s lives, of Latino lives, of Muslim lives, of the lives of the disabled and the poor and the weak, but becomes mealy-mouthed and contingent about the lives of Jews when those Jews happen to live in the land of Israel should make any person of conscience question the sincerity of that movement.

Indeed, what’s perhaps even more disturbing is the increasing tendency on the part of Jews to silence themselves on these fundamental moral matters to fit in or to avoid accusations of being soft on Trump. On this, our leaders must do better, even though it will surely mean fewer likes and retweets from popular progressives. It’s incumbent upon those who assert themselves as representatives of the Jewish community not to paper over this disturbing hypocrisy—especially if what they are trying to do is convince amcha that it’s still in their best interest to be at the anti-Trump table.

Somehow it seems that Jews are always the ones being asked to check their identity at the door in movements driven by identity politics. We may assiduously follow the “two-thirds and 51 percent” rule, but our partners often do not. If asking for something so minimal—to disassociate and condemn a woman who murdered innocent Jews—seems impolite or greedy, then perhaps the compromise we have made is rotten.

Perez, Ellison and the Meaning of Anti-Semitism

February 28, 2017

Perez, Ellison and the Meaning of Anti-Semitism, Front Page MagazineCaroline Glick, February 28, 2017

perez

Originally published by the Jerusalem Post

While America as a whole will suffer from the radicalization of the Democratic Party, perhaps no group will suffer more from the far Left’s takeover of the party than the American Jewish community. The vast majority of American Jews give their partisan allegiance to the Democratic Party and their ideological allegiance to the Left.

With each passing day, the Left becomes more open in its embrace of anti-Jewish voices. If Sarsour’s leadership role last month in the anti-Trump women’s protests constituted a new low in progressive politics, a month later the bar has dropped even lower. At the next round of women’s protests, Ramsea Odeh is one of the announced organizers.

Whereas Sarsour simply supports the terrorist murder of Jews, Odeh is an actual terrorist murderer of Jews. Odeh participated in a PLO terrorist attack at a Jerusalem supermarket in 1970 in which two Jews were murdered.

****************************

Was former secretary of labor and assistant attorney-general Tom Perez’s victory over Congressman Keith Ellison over the weekend in the race to serve as the new chairman of the Democratic National Committee a victory of centrist Democrats over radical leftists in the party? That is how the mainstream media is portraying Perez’s victory.

Along these lines, Prof. Allen Dershowitz, a lifelong Democrat who promised to quit the party if Ellison was elected due to his documented history of antisemitism and hostility toward Israel, hailed Perez’s election. Speaking to Fox News, Dershowitz said that Perez’s election over Ellison “is a victory in the war against bigotry, antisemitism, the anti-Israel push of the hard Left within the Democratic Party.”

There are two problems with Dershowitz’s view. First, Perez barely won. Ellison received nearly half the votes in two rounds of voting.

Tipping his hat to Ellison’s massive popularity among the party’s leadership and grassroots, Perez appointed the former Nation of Islam spokesman to serve as deputy DNC chairman as soon as his own victory was announced.

There is a good reason that Perez is so willing to cooperate with Ellison in running the DNC. And this points to the second problem with the claim that Perez’s election signals a move toward the center by Democratic leaders.

Perez is ready to cooperate with Ellison because the two men have the same ideological worldview and the same vision for the Democratic Party. As Mother Jones explained, “There’s truly not much ideological distance between the two.”

Far from being a victory for the centrist forces in the party, Perez’s win marks the solidification of the far Left’s control over the party of Harry Truman. Only hard leftists participated in a meaningful way in the race for leadership of the second largest party in America – a party that less than a decade ago controlled the White House and both houses of Congress.

The implications of this state of affairs are disastrous for the US generally. It is inherently destabilizing for a nation when one of the parties in a two-party political system is taken over by people who have a negative view of the country.

While America as a whole will suffer from the radicalization of the Democratic Party, perhaps no group will suffer more from the far Left’s takeover of the party than the American Jewish community. The vast majority of American Jews give their partisan allegiance to the Democratic Party and their ideological allegiance to the Left.

While Perez made a name for himself by fighting the enforcement of US immigration and naturalization laws against illegal immigrants, and Ellison rose to prominence for his activism in radical African American and Islamic circles, thanks to the so-called intersectionality of the far Left, that makes the cause of one faction the cause of all factions, today Perez is as much an apologist for Israel bashers as Ellison.

Perhaps in response to the danger that the far Left’s takeover of the Democratic Party represents, Malcolm Hoenlein, the long-serving professional head of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations called on Sunday for the convening of a global conference on antisemitism. In a meeting with The Jerusalem Post’s editorial board, Hoenlein said that one of the goals of the proposed conference would be to reach a universally accepted definition of antisemitism.

At the same meeting at the Post, Hoenlein insisted that “we can’t afford a split” on Israel among the Republicans and the Democrats.

On the surface, Hoenlein’s position makes sense. Israel and the Jewish community in the US are both endangered by the partisan split. If a broad consensus can be reached on the definition of antisemitism, in theory, such a move could force the radical Left, which now controls the Democratic Party, to eschew Jew hatred.

The problem with Hoenlein’s view is that to get everyone on board, it is necessary to pretend that even antisemites oppose antisemitism.

This sad state of affairs has been on prominent display in the wake of the recent spate of antisemitic attacks against Jewish cemeteries in the US. Muslim Americans with records of antisemitism have been quick to condemn the attacks.

On the face of it, statements by Ellison, Hamas supporter Linda Sarsour and others condemning the attacks on Jewish cemeteries are welcome. Sarsour’s support for Palestinian mass murderers of Jews and open calls for Israel’s destruction have been ongoing for more than a decade. It’s nice that she is suddenly raising money to repair broken Jewish graves in St. Louis.

The problem is if Sarsour and her Jew hating comrades are viewed as legitimate partners in fighting antisemitism, when they themselves are abetting and popularizing antisemitism, then the notion of fighting antisemitism is destroyed.

If Sarsour, who wrote in 2012 that “nothing is creepier than Zionism,” is a legitimate voice in the fight against anti-Jewish discrimination and violence, then the fight against anti-Jewish discrimination and violence is reduced to farce.

Sarsour, like Ellison, is no fringe figure on the Left. She has become a major mover and shaker in the second party in America. Sarsour was one of the organizers of the anti-Trump women’s protests the day after the president was inaugurated.

Sarsour’s rising prominence in progressive and Democratic circles despite her open support for Hamas shows why it is important today to draw a line in the sand and reject the notion that antisemites can suddenly become defenders of Jews.

With each passing day, the Left becomes more open in its embrace of anti-Jewish voices. If Sarsour’s leadership role last month in the anti-Trump women’s protests constituted a new low in progressive politics, a month later the bar has dropped even lower. At the next round of women’s protests, Ramsea Odeh is one of the announced organizers.

Whereas Sarsour simply supports the terrorist murder of Jews, Odeh is an actual terrorist murderer of Jews. Odeh participated in a PLO terrorist attack at a Jerusalem supermarket in 1970 in which two Jews were murdered.

According to Politico, the radical Left’s takeover of the Democratic Party apparatus through Perez and Ellison isn’t enough to satisfy the party’s young activists. They also want for long-serving Democratic lawmakers in Congress to retire and clear the path for their takeover of the Democratic congressional roster.

Following my column last week, where I harshly criticized Senator Robert Menendez for questioning the loyalty of David Friedman, Trump’s ambassador designate to Israel, a number of prominent American Jews insisted that in asking the question Menendez was not embracing the antisemitic dual loyalty slur. He was trying to protect Friedman from his more radical Democratic colleagues.

There is good reason to accept their argument. Menendez has a long record of standing up for Israel and he has paid a political price for that support.

The problem is that such justifications of Menendez’s actions indicate that American Jews have already lowered the bar on what constitutes antisemitism too far and made defending their own interests all but impossible.

The Democrats are in a dangerous place for themselves, for the US and for the American Jewish community. They will not move back to the center if standards for judging what it means to be antisemitic are lowered. The only chance that they will return to their senses is if they are made to choose between the Sarsours of the world and the Dershowitzes. And this cannot happen by looking for a consensus on what antisemitism means. It can only be done – if it can be done at all – by drawing a line and demanding that it be respected.