Day: March 8, 2017

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HUNT IS ON: FBI seeks mole who released CIA secrets to WikiLeaks


Manning. Snowden. Whose name is next to be added to the notorious list of government leakers?

The CIA is trying to answer that question right now.

A day after WikiLeaks released what it alleged to be the “entire hacking capacity of the CIA,” the focus Wednesday began shifting to just who gave the stunning surveillance information to the anti-secrecy website.

“There is heavy s— coming down,” said a veteran cyber contractor for the intelligence community who previously worked in the breached unit, the CIA’s Center for Cyber Intelligence.

WIKILEAKS RELEASES ‘ENTIRE HACKING CAPACITY’ OF CIA

The contractor told Fox News that CCI has long maintained an internal database of information — accessible to anyone with proper credentials or security clearance — that seemed to be dumped in total to WikiLeaks. In its news release on the disclosure, WikiLeaks said CCI had more than 5,000 registered users, a number alternatively referred to as “absurd” and “a bit high” by security experts who spoke to Fox News.

The FBI was currently preparing for a mole hunt, The Washington Post reported on Wednesday, though it was unclear if the CIA had officially reported the leak to the Justice Department. The CIA declined comment to Fox News.

When the FBI does start its likely probe, however, experts said there’s a typical incident response playbook they would use to narrow down the massive pool of suspects.

“They’re going to try to do some forensic work because those documents probably have been changed [over time], so that enables them to narrow down the period to when they were taken,” said Alex Yampolskiy, the CEO of SecurityScorecard. “Once you say ‘this seems like it was a snapshot from this particular time,’ then they can look at audit logs of who had access to the document during that time frame.”

Yampolskiy said analysts would likely target the most sensitive documents that were revealed during their forensic work, as only those with a higher security clearance would have had access to them – again, shrinking the group of suspects.

Once a core group is established, investigators would institute behavioral profiling.

“They’ll run certain types of analytics – what websites did they access? What are the emails? How many people are still working there?” Yampolskiy said.

Regardless of the results of the inquiry, Brian Vecci, a technological evangelist for cybersecurity company Veronis, said the secret trove revealed by WikiLeaks illustrates the pervasive issue of another “major data breach of a major government organization tasked with security.”

“What’s clear to me — and this is true of pretty much every big data breach — the preventive controls were broken, or the detective controls were broken,” Vecci said. “Meaning, either too many people had access to the information, or the people that had access weren’t being recorded and analyzed. Or both.”

Last year SecurityScorecard ranked 18 industries by their cybersecurity performance. Information services, construction and food ranked 1, 2 and 3, respectively. Government was dead last.

But there was a twist, Yampolskiy said.

“The CIA was specifically one of the top performers in the government,” he said. “An ‘A’ letter grade.”

Fox News’ James Rosen contributed to this report.



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Meet the Weapons Wizards


Yaakov Katz and Amir Bohbot, authors of The Weapon Wizards: How Israel Became a High-Tech Military Superpower (St. Martin’s Press 2017), prove themselves to be far more than experienced and skilled military journalists.  (Mr. Katz is now the editor of The Jerusalem Post).  They keep readers engrossed with prideful descriptions about Israel’s arsenal of masterful weapons of war and defense.  Most captivating are accounts about the ingenuity and chutzpah of the wizards creating the weapons, and the Israeli culture that nourishes ingenuity and imagination.  The package is wrapped in a sorrowful but realistic fixation on impending doom and annihilation.

The book is an important contribution to modern anthropological literature written by social researchers.  The authors convey the point that first and foremost, Israel’s weapons wizards consider the group (Jews)’s destiny beyond the importance of any individual.  A former Defense Ministry director general told the authors, “We have innovative people, combat experience to know what we need and immediate operational use for what we develop since we are almost always in a state of conflict.”  Another wizard describes how living in “the shadow of the guillotine sharpens the mind.”

Israel relies on science, military technology, engineering, mathematics, and psychology for two reasons.  First, it is a military program of deterrence with nuclear capabilities, America the superpower as its “go-to” defensive backup, and Israel’s enormously successful conventional military capabilities.  University of Chicago professor Hans Morgenthau called it maintaining a “balance of terror” during the Cold War.   

Second, Israel lacks allies and defense pacts guaranteeing its existence, as NATO countries do, though it is more a democracy, more stable, and better friend to the West than, for example, Turkey.  Knesset member Yair Shamir told me in 2015 that Israel must be weapons independent, with a homemade high-tech arms industry, because it cannot rely on vacillating allies.  Their interests are not always Israel’s best interests.  The whims and agendas of others have resulted in loan freezes, arms embargoes, withholding of intelligence, and most recently temporarily terminating domestic airplane flights into Ben Gurion Airport to punish Israel.

Key to Israel’s success is a deep and abiding nationalism, and a culture that accepts and even encourages breaking rules.  Twenty-three-year-olds are officers in the IDF; they are ten years younger than those with equal rank in other militaries, “leaving the young soldiers with no choice but to make key decisions on their own.”  That’s exactly what an American Marine officer visiting an Israel Defense Force base told my nephew with a tone of wonderment when he asked the age of the Israeli officer leading the tour.

Several factors incubate IDF wizards.  The General Electric motto, “Imagination at work,” is a meme taken to heart throughout Israeli society.  The IDF is a melting pot for youths from a dozen different cultures and countries.  Multi-disciplinary education is encouraged.  Criticizing authority and decisions is accepted.  The wizard behind the Iron Dome rocket defense system made a career in the air force but took a leave to earn a doctorate in business management and electrical engineering.  The story behind Iron Dome is his story.  The highly successful rocket defense system is a product.

The authors share a feel-good story how Israel’s reliance and respect for all citizens serves Israel so well.  Every citizen has the potential to contribute, and military leaders are on the hunt to find and harness the contributors.  Gathering intelligence relayed from satellites requires unusual patience and persistence as images are beamed to command headquarters.  “The IDF created a subunit of highly qualified soldiers who have remarkable visual and analytical capabilities. The common denominator among its members is just as remarkable: they all have autism.”   

The stories behind other weapons told in the book are not at all different.  There is the story of an ingenious wizard who solved an existential problem confronting the IDF: inadequate intelligence about Egyptian military Suez deployments in the 1960s.  He adapted a toy airplane for longer flight with a camera attached, thus building the first military-use spy drone.  The U.S. military ordered 175 Pioneer drones for use in 1991 against Saddam Hussein’s army invading Kuwait.  Thinking the drones were going to drop bombs on an Iraqi unit, they waved their white shirts skyward.  “It was the first time in history that a military unit surrendered to a robot.”

The wizards adapted armor for tanks against enemy rockets.  An Istanbul-born (1939) officer came up with tech solutions like satellites for operational strategies.  They designed new tactics to warn civilians of impending attacks other militaries later adopted in urban warfare.  Wizards created worms and cyber-viruses used against Iran’s nuclear arms development program, and sabotaged key component parts.  Meir Dagan kept a picture in his Mossad office, where many imaginative super-secret intelligence actions were birthed.  The picture is of his father kneeling, about to be killed by Nazis.  “I look at this picture every day and promise that the Holocaust will never happen again.”  That promise motivates an entire nation having suffered so long and cruelly by others.   

The Weapon Wizards is a great companion read to the 2009 Senor and Singer book Start-Up Nation: The Story of Israel’s Economic Miracle.  The latter describes how Israel established itself as a major worldwide player in high-tech and biotech, with many of the business founders being former military technology wizards.  Katz and Bohbot discuss this military-industrial partnership, and how it underpins Israel’s economy through foreign sales.

The most important message Katz and Bohbot deliver in The Weapon Wizards is not about Israel’s admirable technological achievements.  Israel’s current war is not going to be won or lost with weapons technology, warfare strategies, or military intelligence.  Israel must win on the diplomatic front.  She faces an onslaught of delegitimization by leftists, Muslim cabals, and world leaders with other agendas.

Weapons are “meaningless if Israel’s operations lack the international stamp of legitimacy.”  Katz and Bohbot infer geopolitical implications that forefend a blissful future.  Rather than bask in the glow of a supportive administration in the White House, as Israel’s government leaders and sycophant pundits are doing, hopefully Israel’s leaders can employ the same chutzpah, ingenuity, and penchant for improvisation to win peace with her neighbors during these next four years.  “For a country like Israel, legitimacy is not trivial … [nor is] particularly American support.”

Yaakov Katz and Amir Bohbot, authors of The Weapon Wizards: How Israel Became a High-Tech Military Superpower (St. Martin’s Press 2017), prove themselves to be far more than experienced and skilled military journalists.  (Mr. Katz is now the editor of The Jerusalem Post).  They keep readers engrossed with prideful descriptions about Israel’s arsenal of masterful weapons of war and defense.  Most captivating are accounts about the ingenuity and chutzpah of the wizards creating the weapons, and the Israeli culture that nourishes ingenuity and imagination.  The package is wrapped in a sorrowful but realistic fixation on impending doom and annihilation.

The book is an important contribution to modern anthropological literature written by social researchers.  The authors convey the point that first and foremost, Israel’s weapons wizards consider the group (Jews)’s destiny beyond the importance of any individual.  A former Defense Ministry director general told the authors, “We have innovative people, combat experience to know what we need and immediate operational use for what we develop since we are almost always in a state of conflict.”  Another wizard describes how living in “the shadow of the guillotine sharpens the mind.”

Israel relies on science, military technology, engineering, mathematics, and psychology for two reasons.  First, it is a military program of deterrence with nuclear capabilities, America the superpower as its “go-to” defensive backup, and Israel’s enormously successful conventional military capabilities.  University of Chicago professor Hans Morgenthau called it maintaining a “balance of terror” during the Cold War.   

Second, Israel lacks allies and defense pacts guaranteeing its existence, as NATO countries do, though it is more a democracy, more stable, and better friend to the West than, for example, Turkey.  Knesset member Yair Shamir told me in 2015 that Israel must be weapons independent, with a homemade high-tech arms industry, because it cannot rely on vacillating allies.  Their interests are not always Israel’s best interests.  The whims and agendas of others have resulted in loan freezes, arms embargoes, withholding of intelligence, and most recently temporarily terminating domestic airplane flights into Ben Gurion Airport to punish Israel.

Key to Israel’s success is a deep and abiding nationalism, and a culture that accepts and even encourages breaking rules.  Twenty-three-year-olds are officers in the IDF; they are ten years younger than those with equal rank in other militaries, “leaving the young soldiers with no choice but to make key decisions on their own.”  That’s exactly what an American Marine officer visiting an Israel Defense Force base told my nephew with a tone of wonderment when he asked the age of the Israeli officer leading the tour.

Several factors incubate IDF wizards.  The General Electric motto, “Imagination at work,” is a meme taken to heart throughout Israeli society.  The IDF is a melting pot for youths from a dozen different cultures and countries.  Multi-disciplinary education is encouraged.  Criticizing authority and decisions is accepted.  The wizard behind the Iron Dome rocket defense system made a career in the air force but took a leave to earn a doctorate in business management and electrical engineering.  The story behind Iron Dome is his story.  The highly successful rocket defense system is a product.

The authors share a feel-good story how Israel’s reliance and respect for all citizens serves Israel so well.  Every citizen has the potential to contribute, and military leaders are on the hunt to find and harness the contributors.  Gathering intelligence relayed from satellites requires unusual patience and persistence as images are beamed to command headquarters.  “The IDF created a subunit of highly qualified soldiers who have remarkable visual and analytical capabilities. The common denominator among its members is just as remarkable: they all have autism.”   

The stories behind other weapons told in the book are not at all different.  There is the story of an ingenious wizard who solved an existential problem confronting the IDF: inadequate intelligence about Egyptian military Suez deployments in the 1960s.  He adapted a toy airplane for longer flight with a camera attached, thus building the first military-use spy drone.  The U.S. military ordered 175 Pioneer drones for use in 1991 against Saddam Hussein’s army invading Kuwait.  Thinking the drones were going to drop bombs on an Iraqi unit, they waved their white shirts skyward.  “It was the first time in history that a military unit surrendered to a robot.”

The wizards adapted armor for tanks against enemy rockets.  An Istanbul-born (1939) officer came up with tech solutions like satellites for operational strategies.  They designed new tactics to warn civilians of impending attacks other militaries later adopted in urban warfare.  Wizards created worms and cyber-viruses used against Iran’s nuclear arms development program, and sabotaged key component parts.  Meir Dagan kept a picture in his Mossad office, where many imaginative super-secret intelligence actions were birthed.  The picture is of his father kneeling, about to be killed by Nazis.  “I look at this picture every day and promise that the Holocaust will never happen again.”  That promise motivates an entire nation having suffered so long and cruelly by others.   

The Weapon Wizards is a great companion read to the 2009 Senor and Singer book Start-Up Nation: The Story of Israel’s Economic Miracle.  The latter describes how Israel established itself as a major worldwide player in high-tech and biotech, with many of the business founders being former military technology wizards.  Katz and Bohbot discuss this military-industrial partnership, and how it underpins Israel’s economy through foreign sales.

The most important message Katz and Bohbot deliver in The Weapon Wizards is not about Israel’s admirable technological achievements.  Israel’s current war is not going to be won or lost with weapons technology, warfare strategies, or military intelligence.  Israel must win on the diplomatic front.  She faces an onslaught of delegitimization by leftists, Muslim cabals, and world leaders with other agendas.

Weapons are “meaningless if Israel’s operations lack the international stamp of legitimacy.”  Katz and Bohbot infer geopolitical implications that forefend a blissful future.  Rather than bask in the glow of a supportive administration in the White House, as Israel’s government leaders and sycophant pundits are doing, hopefully Israel’s leaders can employ the same chutzpah, ingenuity, and penchant for improvisation to win peace with her neighbors during these next four years.  “For a country like Israel, legitimacy is not trivial … [nor is] particularly American support.”



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Statue of Liberty goes dark due to 'unplanned outage'


For a few hours, Lady Liberty didn’t shine so brightly.

The famed The Statue of Liberty went dark for a couple of hours Tuesday night — but it was most likely an accident, the National Park Service told Fox News on Wednesday.

‘DAY WITHOUT A WOMAN’ STRIKE SHUTS DOWN SCHOOLS AS TEACHERS BOLT

A spokesman said somebody mistakenly may have set the timer to shut off the lights at the wrong time. The NPS plans to turn off the lights next week to work on a new emergency generator, one of the last remaining fixes in response to Superstorm Sandy. 

The lights came back on around 11:30 p.m., The New York Post reported. Lights on the torch and crown never went off.

The outage sparked conversation on social media that perhaps it was done deliberately for Wednesday’s “A Day Without Women” protest of economic and social inequality

National Park Service spokesman Jerry Willis said the official cause of the “unplanned outage” will be determined Wednesday when crews return to work on the generator project.

Fox News’ Kathleen Foster and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Click for more from The New York Post.



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Can Trump Bring Black Voters Back to the GOP?


Americans of African descent voted overwhelmingly Republican from the end of the Civil War to the 1930s, but they became almost totally Democrat by the 1970s.  No single event brought about this tectonic shift, but the change in black voting patterns began with Franklin Delano Roosevelt.  During the Depression, Roosevelt’s Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) gave starving men work, food, and shelter.  My father, a black American, lived and worked in a CCC camp for six months and he was forever grateful.

As a result, he became a passionate Democrat and disdained the Republican Party as the exclusive club of the heartless rich.  When Truman became president, he ended racial segregation in the military, furthering the image of Democrats as the party of compassion and justice.

Then came John Kennedy, the inspiring symbol of the future.  His famous call to Coretta Scott King while her husband was held in a Georgia jail created an emotional bond with black voters.  Most historians agree that Pres. Kennedy was reticent at best, fearing that he would alienate Southern Democrats.  Nevertheless, he made the call and reinforced the idea that Democrats care and Republicans do not.  That single gesture caused Martin Luther King, Sr. (“Daddy King”) to switch his support from Nixon to Kennedy, and many black voters did the same.

After the Kennedy assassination, Lyndon Johnson – the former segregationist known to use the N-word in private – became the public champion of Civil Rights.

The last Republican to receive a significant percentage of the black vote was Richard Nixon with 32%.  It was the dying gasp of a century-long love affair between black voters and the GOP.  They have now been estranged for half a century.

How did Republicans allow a constituency once firmly in their camp to make a wholesale exodus?  Or to put it another way, how did Democrats wrench the black vote from the GOP’s grasp?

A common misperception held by black voters today is that as the Democratic Party became more sensitive to the needs of black citizens, Dixiecrats switched to the Republican Party.  In other words, the parties reversed roles.  While it is true that many Southern whites became Republicans, there were other political re-alignments that disprove the role reversal theory.

As Northeastern Democrats embraced Civil Rights, they were also adopting abortion as a central tenet.  Furthermore, the Democratic Party supported the 1962 and 1963 Supreme Court decisions that ruled in Engle v. Vitale, School District of Abington Township v. Schempp, and Murray v. Curlett that prayer and Bible-reading in public schools violate the First Amendment.  Republicans were opposed.

In 1982, Ronald Reagan proposed a constitutional amendment to restore prayer to schools.  That issue solidified the platforms and images of the two parties – the Democrats as secular liberals, the Republicans as evangelical conservatives.  As secularism and identity politics became more influential among Democrats, they lurched to the far left.  As evangelicals became more powerful in Republican ranks, the party became more decidedly Christian.  However, the GOP never became the party of segregationists, as is wrongly thought.  It became the party for people of faith, and I, a black American, was one of the people who left the Democratic Party to become a Republican in the early eighties.

The more Republicans took on a religious persona, the more the Democrats shunned religion.  No one will ever forget the infamous moment when Democrats at their 2012 national convention took God out of their platform, and then clumsily and over objections tried to put Him back.  It was telling.

The Democratic Party brand as champion for black civil rights has also been weakened by the creation of new classes of “victims” – gays, illegal immigrants, Muslims, transgenders, and the list goes on and on.  The problems of the inner city are complex and horrifying, but fighting to allow the Caitlyn Jenners of the world to “be who they were meant to be” and use the bathroom of their choice makes for a simpler, more hip rallying cry.  The only message Democrats have had to the black community for the last forty years boils down to “Republicans are racists.  Vote Democrat.”

In truth, black voters no longer have a political home.  Democrats take them for granted, and Republicans consider them unreachable.  Suddenly appears Donald J. Trump, a white New York billionaire-turned-Republican politician, directly appealing to black citizens and expecting to get their votes.

“What the hell have you got to lose?” he asked again and again on the campaign trail.  He repeatedly promised to do something about the crime and violence plaguing the inner cities.  He has committed to give children of poor black parents an opportunity for a quality education through school choice.  The election results showed that 13% of black men voted for him, a staggeringly high number in light of recent voting history.

Are we witnessing an anomaly, or is this the beginning of another seismic shift in the black vote like what took place from Roosevelt to Johnson?  The jury is still out, but if President Trump delivers on his promises of jobs, education, and safe streets, he may separate black voters from the Democrat coalition and bring them back to their original home in the Party of Lincoln.

Americans of African descent voted overwhelmingly Republican from the end of the Civil War to the 1930s, but they became almost totally Democrat by the 1970s.  No single event brought about this tectonic shift, but the change in black voting patterns began with Franklin Delano Roosevelt.  During the Depression, Roosevelt’s Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) gave starving men work, food, and shelter.  My father, a black American, lived and worked in a CCC camp for six months and he was forever grateful.

As a result, he became a passionate Democrat and disdained the Republican Party as the exclusive club of the heartless rich.  When Truman became president, he ended racial segregation in the military, furthering the image of Democrats as the party of compassion and justice.

Then came John Kennedy, the inspiring symbol of the future.  His famous call to Coretta Scott King while her husband was held in a Georgia jail created an emotional bond with black voters.  Most historians agree that Pres. Kennedy was reticent at best, fearing that he would alienate Southern Democrats.  Nevertheless, he made the call and reinforced the idea that Democrats care and Republicans do not.  That single gesture caused Martin Luther King, Sr. (“Daddy King”) to switch his support from Nixon to Kennedy, and many black voters did the same.

After the Kennedy assassination, Lyndon Johnson – the former segregationist known to use the N-word in private – became the public champion of Civil Rights.

The last Republican to receive a significant percentage of the black vote was Richard Nixon with 32%.  It was the dying gasp of a century-long love affair between black voters and the GOP.  They have now been estranged for half a century.

How did Republicans allow a constituency once firmly in their camp to make a wholesale exodus?  Or to put it another way, how did Democrats wrench the black vote from the GOP’s grasp?

A common misperception held by black voters today is that as the Democratic Party became more sensitive to the needs of black citizens, Dixiecrats switched to the Republican Party.  In other words, the parties reversed roles.  While it is true that many Southern whites became Republicans, there were other political re-alignments that disprove the role reversal theory.

As Northeastern Democrats embraced Civil Rights, they were also adopting abortion as a central tenet.  Furthermore, the Democratic Party supported the 1962 and 1963 Supreme Court decisions that ruled in Engle v. Vitale, School District of Abington Township v. Schempp, and Murray v. Curlett that prayer and Bible-reading in public schools violate the First Amendment.  Republicans were opposed.

In 1982, Ronald Reagan proposed a constitutional amendment to restore prayer to schools.  That issue solidified the platforms and images of the two parties – the Democrats as secular liberals, the Republicans as evangelical conservatives.  As secularism and identity politics became more influential among Democrats, they lurched to the far left.  As evangelicals became more powerful in Republican ranks, the party became more decidedly Christian.  However, the GOP never became the party of segregationists, as is wrongly thought.  It became the party for people of faith, and I, a black American, was one of the people who left the Democratic Party to become a Republican in the early eighties.

The more Republicans took on a religious persona, the more the Democrats shunned religion.  No one will ever forget the infamous moment when Democrats at their 2012 national convention took God out of their platform, and then clumsily and over objections tried to put Him back.  It was telling.

The Democratic Party brand as champion for black civil rights has also been weakened by the creation of new classes of “victims” – gays, illegal immigrants, Muslims, transgenders, and the list goes on and on.  The problems of the inner city are complex and horrifying, but fighting to allow the Caitlyn Jenners of the world to “be who they were meant to be” and use the bathroom of their choice makes for a simpler, more hip rallying cry.  The only message Democrats have had to the black community for the last forty years boils down to “Republicans are racists.  Vote Democrat.”

In truth, black voters no longer have a political home.  Democrats take them for granted, and Republicans consider them unreachable.  Suddenly appears Donald J. Trump, a white New York billionaire-turned-Republican politician, directly appealing to black citizens and expecting to get their votes.

“What the hell have you got to lose?” he asked again and again on the campaign trail.  He repeatedly promised to do something about the crime and violence plaguing the inner cities.  He has committed to give children of poor black parents an opportunity for a quality education through school choice.  The election results showed that 13% of black men voted for him, a staggeringly high number in light of recent voting history.

Are we witnessing an anomaly, or is this the beginning of another seismic shift in the black vote like what took place from Roosevelt to Johnson?  The jury is still out, but if President Trump delivers on his promises of jobs, education, and safe streets, he may separate black voters from the Democrat coalition and bring them back to their original home in the Party of Lincoln.



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The Democrats and the Left Are Pursuing a Clever Strategy


Like other opponents of the Left, I am annoyed by the obstructionist tactics engaged in by Senate Democrats and the often hysterical reaction of the media to just about anything done by President Trump. I’m also appalled by the way Democratic and Obamaite operatives in the intelligence service and in other federal agencies leak sensitive information to their buds at the Washington Post and New York Times. And I’m sick of how the anti-Trump protest demonstrators scream and vandalize; and I’ve no doubt that both former President Obama and George Soros have played significant roles in recruiting and funding the demonstrators. Finally, I’d hardly be surprised if Obama and his friends were not directly involved in wiretapping Trump Tower in the month before election. The Obama administration played dirty games of this kind even on its media critics, and it did manage to obtain (on its second try) judicial permission to tap phones in Trump Tower during October of last year.

Having indicated my orientation, it would be impossible to ascribe this analysis to my sympathy for Trump’s enemies, whom everyone who knows me knows I abhor. But these unlovable people may be following an effective strategy for discrediting someone they hate. They hit him over the head almost hourly with crises and scandals, most of which are made up or vastly exaggerated. These damaging or distracting revelations emanate from the media and are then repeated by Democratic politicians, the entertainment industry, and academics. For example, it makes no difference that not a scintilla of evidence has been uncovered that shows Trump and his staff “colluding” with the Russian government in order to steal the presidential election from the supposed frontrunner Hillary Clinton. But the charge continues to be made; and it has already led to the forced resignation of General Michael Flynn, who met with the Russian ambassador in December but who, from the evidence, did absolutely nothing illegal.

Right now Trump’s enemies are going after Attorney General Jeff Sessions for both “colluding” with the Russians and committing perjury. It seems that Sessions in responding to a convoluted question by very liberal Democratic Senator Al Franken about his possible Russian involvement said more than he should have. He not only underlined that he had not colluded with the Russians as a “Trump surrogate.” He also denied having any dealings with Russian leaders. But it seems that Sessions did have some dealings, in his capacity as a Senator, but in a situation that had nothing to do with Trump’s campaign. Clearly Sessions misspoke in trying to deal with Franken’s utterly incoherent, accusatory question, but there is absolutely nothing to suggest that he was hiding information about his dealings with the Russians, aimed at causing the defeat of Hillary Clinton.

Since this anti-Trump behavior is so relentlessly vicious, Republicans and Trump-sympathizers tell us that the other side is shooting itself in the foot. Supposedly there is no way the Democrats and the Left can regain power if they continue to conduct themselves like “spoiled children.” But there is no reason to think the Left is shooting itself in the foot. In fact it may be doing itself a favor by behaving like “spoiled children,” given our political and cultural divisions.

The Left is appealing unmistakably to its base, which comprises culturally radical whites, racial minorities, government workers, and college students. These target groups are hardly disturbed by the antics they see. According to a recent Rasmussen poll cited in Breitbart, as much as 30% of those polled believe that universities should keep conservative speakers from addressing them. 41% approve of the direction in which Trump is moving the country, while 48% disapprove. Even a thoroughly honest, dispassionate jurist such as Neil Gorsuch, whom Trump nominated to the Supreme Court, has 50% disapproval and only 41% approval ratings. Although Breitbart rejoices that Trump has turned some corner in winning general acceptance, this happy talk may be questioned.  We may assume that leftist sympathizers inhabit the U.S. roughly in about the same number as those who identify as Trump loyalists. Let’s not forget that in the recent presidential election, Hillary Clinton won about two million more votes than Trump, even while losing the Electoral College and about 90% of the counties in the U.S. Chuck Schumer, Rachel Maddow, and Bill Maher may be speaking for tens of millions of American voters when they blast Trump with reckless abandon. Behind them also stand the mainstream media in Western Europe and the Anglosphere, who push roughly the same leftist views as our media.

Our side is battling to come from behind; and that situation has not changed decisively because of the election in November. What the Left is now demonstrating is that it can use its assets to inflict continuing hurt on the electoral victors, indeed so much hurt that the winners won’t be able to take advantage of their victory. They can also wreak so much havoc that the “undecideds” and even former Trump supporters may turn to the Left to restore order. Such a reaction does not only occur in far-off countries without constitutional traditions. It can also happen here.

But President Trump does have a way to combat the Left’s tactics. He should be cautious about what he tweets (lest he strengthen the impression that he’s reckless about his words.) Tweeting may be a means for a populist leader to reach the “people” without having to go through enemy territory, but it only works well if the communicator is disciplined in making his thoughts known. He must also go after treacherous bureaucrats who are compromising his administration by leaking confidential information to the Trump-averse media. And he must not only remove these enemies from their posts but also bring criminal charges against them where possible. Finally, he must “drain the swamps” by purging as much of an overwhelmingly hostile bureaucracy as he can and then replacing them with friendlier civil servants.  Without these measures there is no way he can run a government that the “deep state” is working to undermine. Unless he can gain control of what is supposed to be his administration, other problems will continue to mount.  

Like other opponents of the Left, I am annoyed by the obstructionist tactics engaged in by Senate Democrats and the often hysterical reaction of the media to just about anything done by President Trump. I’m also appalled by the way Democratic and Obamaite operatives in the intelligence service and in other federal agencies leak sensitive information to their buds at the Washington Post and New York Times. And I’m sick of how the anti-Trump protest demonstrators scream and vandalize; and I’ve no doubt that both former President Obama and George Soros have played significant roles in recruiting and funding the demonstrators. Finally, I’d hardly be surprised if Obama and his friends were not directly involved in wiretapping Trump Tower in the month before election. The Obama administration played dirty games of this kind even on its media critics, and it did manage to obtain (on its second try) judicial permission to tap phones in Trump Tower during October of last year.

Having indicated my orientation, it would be impossible to ascribe this analysis to my sympathy for Trump’s enemies, whom everyone who knows me knows I abhor. But these unlovable people may be following an effective strategy for discrediting someone they hate. They hit him over the head almost hourly with crises and scandals, most of which are made up or vastly exaggerated. These damaging or distracting revelations emanate from the media and are then repeated by Democratic politicians, the entertainment industry, and academics. For example, it makes no difference that not a scintilla of evidence has been uncovered that shows Trump and his staff “colluding” with the Russian government in order to steal the presidential election from the supposed frontrunner Hillary Clinton. But the charge continues to be made; and it has already led to the forced resignation of General Michael Flynn, who met with the Russian ambassador in December but who, from the evidence, did absolutely nothing illegal.

Right now Trump’s enemies are going after Attorney General Jeff Sessions for both “colluding” with the Russians and committing perjury. It seems that Sessions in responding to a convoluted question by very liberal Democratic Senator Al Franken about his possible Russian involvement said more than he should have. He not only underlined that he had not colluded with the Russians as a “Trump surrogate.” He also denied having any dealings with Russian leaders. But it seems that Sessions did have some dealings, in his capacity as a Senator, but in a situation that had nothing to do with Trump’s campaign. Clearly Sessions misspoke in trying to deal with Franken’s utterly incoherent, accusatory question, but there is absolutely nothing to suggest that he was hiding information about his dealings with the Russians, aimed at causing the defeat of Hillary Clinton.

Since this anti-Trump behavior is so relentlessly vicious, Republicans and Trump-sympathizers tell us that the other side is shooting itself in the foot. Supposedly there is no way the Democrats and the Left can regain power if they continue to conduct themselves like “spoiled children.” But there is no reason to think the Left is shooting itself in the foot. In fact it may be doing itself a favor by behaving like “spoiled children,” given our political and cultural divisions.

The Left is appealing unmistakably to its base, which comprises culturally radical whites, racial minorities, government workers, and college students. These target groups are hardly disturbed by the antics they see. According to a recent Rasmussen poll cited in Breitbart, as much as 30% of those polled believe that universities should keep conservative speakers from addressing them. 41% approve of the direction in which Trump is moving the country, while 48% disapprove. Even a thoroughly honest, dispassionate jurist such as Neil Gorsuch, whom Trump nominated to the Supreme Court, has 50% disapproval and only 41% approval ratings. Although Breitbart rejoices that Trump has turned some corner in winning general acceptance, this happy talk may be questioned.  We may assume that leftist sympathizers inhabit the U.S. roughly in about the same number as those who identify as Trump loyalists. Let’s not forget that in the recent presidential election, Hillary Clinton won about two million more votes than Trump, even while losing the Electoral College and about 90% of the counties in the U.S. Chuck Schumer, Rachel Maddow, and Bill Maher may be speaking for tens of millions of American voters when they blast Trump with reckless abandon. Behind them also stand the mainstream media in Western Europe and the Anglosphere, who push roughly the same leftist views as our media.

Our side is battling to come from behind; and that situation has not changed decisively because of the election in November. What the Left is now demonstrating is that it can use its assets to inflict continuing hurt on the electoral victors, indeed so much hurt that the winners won’t be able to take advantage of their victory. They can also wreak so much havoc that the “undecideds” and even former Trump supporters may turn to the Left to restore order. Such a reaction does not only occur in far-off countries without constitutional traditions. It can also happen here.

But President Trump does have a way to combat the Left’s tactics. He should be cautious about what he tweets (lest he strengthen the impression that he’s reckless about his words.) Tweeting may be a means for a populist leader to reach the “people” without having to go through enemy territory, but it only works well if the communicator is disciplined in making his thoughts known. He must also go after treacherous bureaucrats who are compromising his administration by leaking confidential information to the Trump-averse media. And he must not only remove these enemies from their posts but also bring criminal charges against them where possible. Finally, he must “drain the swamps” by purging as much of an overwhelmingly hostile bureaucracy as he can and then replacing them with friendlier civil servants.  Without these measures there is no way he can run a government that the “deep state” is working to undermine. Unless he can gain control of what is supposed to be his administration, other problems will continue to mount.  



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Connecticut man allegedly destroys Kim Kardashian selfie books at store


A Connecticut man’s distaste for the Kardashians has landed him in jail.

Carl Puia, 74, was arrested on Monday for destroying several of Kim Kardashian’s “Selfish” books at a Barnes & Noble in Glastonbury, Connecticut.

In a typed note left behind, he explained to the staff his contempt for the reality TV star and “people like her,” news station WVIT reported.

Security camera footage from October 2016 showed Puia pouring red liquid over the books, which are a collection of Kardashian’s favorite selfies. Six of the coffee table books were “destroyed in the massacre and could not be revived,” according to police.

The 74-year-old turned himself in to police on Monday. He was charged with criminal mischief and released on a $2,500 bond.

Click for more from the New York Post.



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K-12: Constructivism Is a Big Fat Con


Public schools are so jam-packed with fake pedagogies, it’s hard to pick a champion.  Certainly, Sight-words would seem to be the poison pill without equal.  But that program’s greatest impact occurs in the first few years; its destructive force is plainly visible to the public; and if our community leaders, newspapers, and education officials would do their job, they could stop the thing in no time flat.

Constructivism, while not quite so dramatically evil, is more widespread, more hidden, and more insidious.  It now appears in every grade from kindergarten to college.  It is used in every subject.  So one can say that Constructivism, in total havoc caused, is on a par with Sight-words.

My goal is to show that Constructivism, despite dominating and indeed destroying our school culture, is a flimsy bit of nothing.  It pretends to be pedagogical imperatives sent down from heaven.  In fact, Constructivism is nothing more than a truism (i.e., when you learn something for yourself, you really know it).  Similarly, Piaget, a French biologist, opined that children don’t know new information until they have recreated it in their own brains.  Where else?  On these threadbare beginnings, professors of education spun an amazing technicolor dream coat.

The basic trick was to pretend that the learning process can happen in only one way: all or nothing.  Children, we were told, must create their own new knowledge.  They must?  Or they do?  Everything gets murky even at the outset.  The Education Establishment implies two separate things: children acquire new knowledge by constructing it, and this is really the only way it can happen.  So, of course, every schoolroom must be 100% Constructivist. 

But wait a minute.  What does it mean to create or construct new knowledge?  You see information in a book – for example, Paris is the capital of France.  This knowledge may be new for you, but it’s hardly new for the world.  So what has the child created?

Furthermore, can we make a useful distinction between the child reading something in a book and the History Channel informing the child, or a teacher telling the child?  The child announces: “Paris is the capital of France.”  Is this knowledge more deeply learned in one scenario over the other?

Yes, according to the Constructivist vision.  There is a weird sort of pedagogical imperialism here.  Individual students must, by looking at various source materials, generate new facts.  The student does all the work.  If someone else tells you the fact, it doesn’t count.  But stop and think for yourself how many thousands of times somebody has given you information (for example, where the nearest bank is).  Apparently, you don’t truly know where the bank is because you haven’t learned it in the approved manner.  That is the exact point at which sophistry obliterates common sense.

Now let’s cut to the chase.  Why did the Education Establishment confect and promote this little bit of nothing?  Can you guess?

The deeper purpose of Constructivism is to discredit anything the student acquires from someone else.  Constructivist theory stigmatizes knowledge learned from parents, from friends, from school, from teachers.  None of those is an approved conduit for new knowledge.

So we arrive at the dark heart of this gimmick: discrediting the role of teachers and teaching.  Everywhere there is elaborate emphasis on students being engaged in their own learning.  We are told that teachers are now facilitators.  They are by decree “guides at a student’s side.”  But they are – and this is the tragic fraud – no longer allowed to be teachers.  By this illogical jiu-jitsu, the Education Establishment decimates intellectual activity throughout the school.

So here you see reductio ad absurdum in action.  The adult, the mature person, the only educated person in the room, is no longer allowed to speak.  This sophistry is breathtaking in its comical audacity.

Let’s look at what typically happens.  Children are told to do their own research, to find their own facts – in effect, to function as adult researchers.  Indeed, college students are often expected to do just this.  But what about the third-grader or the sixth-grader?  Children, with little foundational knowledge, have no idea how to judge the importance of new information.  What is France?  What is a capital?  The idea of France having a capital means little to ignorant children.  That’s why they’re in school.  They desperately need skilled teachers and direct instruction.

The proper approach is to teach more facts than in the past, and to teach them more efficiently.  Instead, our perverse Education Establishment has managed to impose a moratorium on teaching altogether.

In practice, the essence of Constructivism is that children must organize, motivate, and supervise themselves.  Predictably, children tend to feel abandoned and frustrated. 

Constructivism is bossy.  It claims that you have to construct all knowledge for yourself.  Only that is real knowledge; everything else is illegitimate and inauthentic.  A second claim is that teachers serve no useful function in this construction.  So if a teacher mentions that the South Pole is located in Antarctica, students should apparently pretend they didn’t hear it.  That information, gained illegally as it was, cannot be allowed in the modern constructivist classroom.

But once this new fact is in your mind, where do we see any proof of its inferiority?  If you didn’t know where the South Pole is, you do now.  You have been taught!

There may be times when a person struggles with something and finally has an epiphany.  You could say, hey, that’s a Constructivist victory.  Typically, however, one learns hundreds of facts about, for example, the American Revolution.  You can’t have an epiphany for each of those facts.  The whole process is going to be cumbersome and slow.

If a good teacher tells you information in the most coherent way, that will be top speed for most people most of the time.

Trump and DeVos seem to be focused mainly on financial and administrative options.  Hopefully, they will be successful.  Phony theories and methods, such as Constructivism, are a different set of problems.  These are often buried deeper and cause more damage.  The key to fixing K-12 is to eliminate all the bad ideas – i.e., drain the educational swamp.

Bruce Deitrick Price explains theories and methods on his education site, Improve-Education.org.  For info on his four new novels, see his literary site, Lit4u.com.

Public schools are so jam-packed with fake pedagogies, it’s hard to pick a champion.  Certainly, Sight-words would seem to be the poison pill without equal.  But that program’s greatest impact occurs in the first few years; its destructive force is plainly visible to the public; and if our community leaders, newspapers, and education officials would do their job, they could stop the thing in no time flat.

Constructivism, while not quite so dramatically evil, is more widespread, more hidden, and more insidious.  It now appears in every grade from kindergarten to college.  It is used in every subject.  So one can say that Constructivism, in total havoc caused, is on a par with Sight-words.

My goal is to show that Constructivism, despite dominating and indeed destroying our school culture, is a flimsy bit of nothing.  It pretends to be pedagogical imperatives sent down from heaven.  In fact, Constructivism is nothing more than a truism (i.e., when you learn something for yourself, you really know it).  Similarly, Piaget, a French biologist, opined that children don’t know new information until they have recreated it in their own brains.  Where else?  On these threadbare beginnings, professors of education spun an amazing technicolor dream coat.

The basic trick was to pretend that the learning process can happen in only one way: all or nothing.  Children, we were told, must create their own new knowledge.  They must?  Or they do?  Everything gets murky even at the outset.  The Education Establishment implies two separate things: children acquire new knowledge by constructing it, and this is really the only way it can happen.  So, of course, every schoolroom must be 100% Constructivist. 

But wait a minute.  What does it mean to create or construct new knowledge?  You see information in a book – for example, Paris is the capital of France.  This knowledge may be new for you, but it’s hardly new for the world.  So what has the child created?

Furthermore, can we make a useful distinction between the child reading something in a book and the History Channel informing the child, or a teacher telling the child?  The child announces: “Paris is the capital of France.”  Is this knowledge more deeply learned in one scenario over the other?

Yes, according to the Constructivist vision.  There is a weird sort of pedagogical imperialism here.  Individual students must, by looking at various source materials, generate new facts.  The student does all the work.  If someone else tells you the fact, it doesn’t count.  But stop and think for yourself how many thousands of times somebody has given you information (for example, where the nearest bank is).  Apparently, you don’t truly know where the bank is because you haven’t learned it in the approved manner.  That is the exact point at which sophistry obliterates common sense.

Now let’s cut to the chase.  Why did the Education Establishment confect and promote this little bit of nothing?  Can you guess?

The deeper purpose of Constructivism is to discredit anything the student acquires from someone else.  Constructivist theory stigmatizes knowledge learned from parents, from friends, from school, from teachers.  None of those is an approved conduit for new knowledge.

So we arrive at the dark heart of this gimmick: discrediting the role of teachers and teaching.  Everywhere there is elaborate emphasis on students being engaged in their own learning.  We are told that teachers are now facilitators.  They are by decree “guides at a student’s side.”  But they are – and this is the tragic fraud – no longer allowed to be teachers.  By this illogical jiu-jitsu, the Education Establishment decimates intellectual activity throughout the school.

So here you see reductio ad absurdum in action.  The adult, the mature person, the only educated person in the room, is no longer allowed to speak.  This sophistry is breathtaking in its comical audacity.

Let’s look at what typically happens.  Children are told to do their own research, to find their own facts – in effect, to function as adult researchers.  Indeed, college students are often expected to do just this.  But what about the third-grader or the sixth-grader?  Children, with little foundational knowledge, have no idea how to judge the importance of new information.  What is France?  What is a capital?  The idea of France having a capital means little to ignorant children.  That’s why they’re in school.  They desperately need skilled teachers and direct instruction.

The proper approach is to teach more facts than in the past, and to teach them more efficiently.  Instead, our perverse Education Establishment has managed to impose a moratorium on teaching altogether.

In practice, the essence of Constructivism is that children must organize, motivate, and supervise themselves.  Predictably, children tend to feel abandoned and frustrated. 

Constructivism is bossy.  It claims that you have to construct all knowledge for yourself.  Only that is real knowledge; everything else is illegitimate and inauthentic.  A second claim is that teachers serve no useful function in this construction.  So if a teacher mentions that the South Pole is located in Antarctica, students should apparently pretend they didn’t hear it.  That information, gained illegally as it was, cannot be allowed in the modern constructivist classroom.

But once this new fact is in your mind, where do we see any proof of its inferiority?  If you didn’t know where the South Pole is, you do now.  You have been taught!

There may be times when a person struggles with something and finally has an epiphany.  You could say, hey, that’s a Constructivist victory.  Typically, however, one learns hundreds of facts about, for example, the American Revolution.  You can’t have an epiphany for each of those facts.  The whole process is going to be cumbersome and slow.

If a good teacher tells you information in the most coherent way, that will be top speed for most people most of the time.

Trump and DeVos seem to be focused mainly on financial and administrative options.  Hopefully, they will be successful.  Phony theories and methods, such as Constructivism, are a different set of problems.  These are often buried deeper and cause more damage.  The key to fixing K-12 is to eliminate all the bad ideas – i.e., drain the educational swamp.

Bruce Deitrick Price explains theories and methods on his education site, Improve-Education.org.  For info on his four new novels, see his literary site, Lit4u.com.



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Trump's New Immigration Order Is Still Not a 'Muslim Ban'


Among many of Donald Trump’s campaign promises was a plan to reform a chaotic immigration system with better methods of vetting immigrants. Those who do not support the U.S. Constitution, American values or who desire to bring violence to our shores through terrorism would be screened out. Trump released his initial executive order on Jan. 27 called “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States.”

 

Predictably, an activist judiciary tried to stop the order. First a U.S. District Court Judge in Seattle, then the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. This week he released version two. More about that in a bit.

 

Since “fake news” has been a popular theme within the mainstream media, let’s see if fake news applies to Trump’s first executive order. The New York Times, in a Jan. 28 editorial, ran a headline, “Donald Trump’s Muslim Ban Is Cowardly and Dangerous.” The Washington Post, on Feb. 28, ran a similar headline, “Trump’s Muslim ban is about to make a comeback.” The Guardian, a British version of the two above newspapers, had a Jan. 31 headline, “Is this a Muslim ban?”

Guess the news is settled that Trump’s executive order is a “Muslim ban.” Or is it? I found the actual executive order on the White House web site and read it. I did not see the word “Muslim” once in the text of the order.

So why did these papers of record, paragons of honest journalism, call the executive order a “Muslim ban”? The order stipulated a 90-day pause in immigration from seven specific countries. Not a ban, just a temporary pause. These seven countries happen to be Muslim majority countries, so to the always-accurate big media, this must be a Muslim ban.

Not explained is the fact that many other countries are majority Muslim and not on the list. Indonesia is 87 percent Muslim, Pakistan 96 percent, Turkey 98 percent and Saudi Arabia almost 100 percent. If Trump’s executive order was a “Muslim ban”, why weren’t these and many other countries included in the list?

And where did this list of targeted countries come from? Is it a creation of the vast right conspiracy? Or from “White Supremacist” Steve Bannon? Was this Trump’s idea during a late-night tweeting session? No. Actually, these seven were labeled as “countries of concern” by the Department of Homeland Security in 2015-16 through the visa waiver program. Back when Barack Obama was president running the show and Trump was campaigning against Little Marco and Crooked Hillary.

Trump’s initial executive order applied only to these “countries of concern” for the simple reason that it is not possible to perform background checks or vet immigrants from these countries. These countries have chaotic governments unable to supply their residents with the equivalent of an FBI background check that Americans would need to emigrate to most other countries.

The executive order stipulated that the various agencies responsible for immigration take a breather and figure out how to determine which immigrants are a threat to the U.S. Or directly from the order a mandate that, “Procedures are adequate to ensure the security and welfare of the United States.”

Not a Muslim ban. Instead, bolstering Obama’s visa waiver program. Same countries. Same concerns. But trying to get it right. Think San Bernardino, Mall of America, Orlando. Not to mention Europe. Would these have been prevented? Who knows? Why not at least try?

Now to the new and improved executive order issued this week. The fake-news media still didn’t get it right. The Hill calls it, “Muslim ban 2.0”. The New York Times says, “Trump’s New Muslim Ban Is Still Illegal.” Twitter, as expected, is exploding with the “Muslim Ban” meme. Yet the new executive order, just like the original one, doesn’t contain the word “Muslim.”

The updated executive order seeks to identify those who support “violent extremism”, subjecting them to further vetting and scrutiny. Radical Muslims support violent extremism, but so do some conservatives, according to the New York Times which claimed, “The main terrorist threat in the United States is not from violent Muslim extremists, but from right-wing extremists.” Meaning that this executive order is as much a Muslim ban as it is a Republican ban.

What else is new in version 2.0? Iraq is now off the list of seven “countries of concern.” Why? Because Iraq is working with the U.S. in fighting ISIS and they have a functional enough government to assist in vetting immigrants to the U.S. Green card holders are also excluded from version 2.0 of the executive order.

The future of Trump’s new order is uncertain. The activist courts will surely get involved and try to block it. The media and their Democratic Party allies will howl in protest, led by whiner-in-chief Senator Chuck Schumer. The usual rent-a-mob insta-protests will play out in a city near you.

Despite that, a majority of Americans will more than likely support the new immigration order just as they did the original one last month. President Trump is keeping his campaign promises. And that’s what has the media and the left so upset.

 

Brian C Joondeph, MD, MPS, a Denver based physician and writer. Follow him on Facebook  and Twitter.

 

 

Among many of Donald Trump’s campaign promises was a plan to reform a chaotic immigration system with better methods of vetting immigrants. Those who do not support the U.S. Constitution, American values or who desire to bring violence to our shores through terrorism would be screened out. Trump released his initial executive order on Jan. 27 called “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States.”

 

Predictably, an activist judiciary tried to stop the order. First a U.S. District Court Judge in Seattle, then the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. This week he released version two. More about that in a bit.

 

Since “fake news” has been a popular theme within the mainstream media, let’s see if fake news applies to Trump’s first executive order. The New York Times, in a Jan. 28 editorial, ran a headline, “Donald Trump’s Muslim Ban Is Cowardly and Dangerous.” The Washington Post, on Feb. 28, ran a similar headline, “Trump’s Muslim ban is about to make a comeback.” The Guardian, a British version of the two above newspapers, had a Jan. 31 headline, “Is this a Muslim ban?”

Guess the news is settled that Trump’s executive order is a “Muslim ban.” Or is it? I found the actual executive order on the White House web site and read it. I did not see the word “Muslim” once in the text of the order.

So why did these papers of record, paragons of honest journalism, call the executive order a “Muslim ban”? The order stipulated a 90-day pause in immigration from seven specific countries. Not a ban, just a temporary pause. These seven countries happen to be Muslim majority countries, so to the always-accurate big media, this must be a Muslim ban.

Not explained is the fact that many other countries are majority Muslim and not on the list. Indonesia is 87 percent Muslim, Pakistan 96 percent, Turkey 98 percent and Saudi Arabia almost 100 percent. If Trump’s executive order was a “Muslim ban”, why weren’t these and many other countries included in the list?

And where did this list of targeted countries come from? Is it a creation of the vast right conspiracy? Or from “White Supremacist” Steve Bannon? Was this Trump’s idea during a late-night tweeting session? No. Actually, these seven were labeled as “countries of concern” by the Department of Homeland Security in 2015-16 through the visa waiver program. Back when Barack Obama was president running the show and Trump was campaigning against Little Marco and Crooked Hillary.

Trump’s initial executive order applied only to these “countries of concern” for the simple reason that it is not possible to perform background checks or vet immigrants from these countries. These countries have chaotic governments unable to supply their residents with the equivalent of an FBI background check that Americans would need to emigrate to most other countries.

The executive order stipulated that the various agencies responsible for immigration take a breather and figure out how to determine which immigrants are a threat to the U.S. Or directly from the order a mandate that, “Procedures are adequate to ensure the security and welfare of the United States.”

Not a Muslim ban. Instead, bolstering Obama’s visa waiver program. Same countries. Same concerns. But trying to get it right. Think San Bernardino, Mall of America, Orlando. Not to mention Europe. Would these have been prevented? Who knows? Why not at least try?

Now to the new and improved executive order issued this week. The fake-news media still didn’t get it right. The Hill calls it, “Muslim ban 2.0”. The New York Times says, “Trump’s New Muslim Ban Is Still Illegal.” Twitter, as expected, is exploding with the “Muslim Ban” meme. Yet the new executive order, just like the original one, doesn’t contain the word “Muslim.”

The updated executive order seeks to identify those who support “violent extremism”, subjecting them to further vetting and scrutiny. Radical Muslims support violent extremism, but so do some conservatives, according to the New York Times which claimed, “The main terrorist threat in the United States is not from violent Muslim extremists, but from right-wing extremists.” Meaning that this executive order is as much a Muslim ban as it is a Republican ban.

What else is new in version 2.0? Iraq is now off the list of seven “countries of concern.” Why? Because Iraq is working with the U.S. in fighting ISIS and they have a functional enough government to assist in vetting immigrants to the U.S. Green card holders are also excluded from version 2.0 of the executive order.

The future of Trump’s new order is uncertain. The activist courts will surely get involved and try to block it. The media and their Democratic Party allies will howl in protest, led by whiner-in-chief Senator Chuck Schumer. The usual rent-a-mob insta-protests will play out in a city near you.

Despite that, a majority of Americans will more than likely support the new immigration order just as they did the original one last month. President Trump is keeping his campaign promises. And that’s what has the media and the left so upset.

 

Brian C Joondeph, MD, MPS, a Denver based physician and writer. Follow him on Facebook  and Twitter.

 

 



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Senate unanimously calls on Trump administration to take action against threats to Jewish centers


The U.S. Senate on Tuesday called on the Trump administration to take a more aggressive approach to counter the growing number of anonymous bomb threats against Jewish organizations across the country.

All 100 senators said in a letter addressed to Attorney General Jeff Sessions, FBI Director James Comey and Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly that the incidents are becoming more frequent and failure to take swift action places innocent people at risk.

“We write to underscore the need for swift action with regard to the deeply troubling series of anonymous bomb threats made against Jewish Community Centers (JCCs), Jewish day schools, synagogues and other buildings affiliated with Jewish organizations or institutions across the country,” the senators wrote.

The letter came as the Anti-Defamation League and several Jewish community centers across the U.S. received a new round of bomb threats, adding to the scores that have been plagued with since January.

Federal authorities have been investigating more than 120 threats against Jewish organizations in three dozen states since Jan. 9 as well as a wave of vandalism at Jewish cemeteries. Over the course of Monday evening and Tuesday, there were eight emailed or phoned-in bomb threats in six states plus Ontario, the JCC Association of North America said.

Bomb threats were made to Jewish centers in upstate New York, Wisconsin, Oregon, a synagogue in Rhode Island and a school in Illinois. The Anti-Defamation League received threats to its offices in New York, Atlanta, Boston and Washington D.C., as well as other offices in Florida and Maryland.

On Friday, Missouri resident Juan Thompson was arrested on a cyberstalking charge and accused of making at least eight of the threats nationwide, including one to the ADL. Authorities said Thompson was trying to harass and frame his ex-girlfriend by pinning the threats on her.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.



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Donald Trump and the Flouting of the Goldwater Rule


In 1964, Fact Magazine produced a special issue entitled “The Unconscious of a Conservative: A Special Issue on the Mind of Barry Goldwater,” specifically addressing the mental health of then-Republican presidential candidate Sen. Barry Goldwater.  As would be expected, the magazine did not pronounce Goldwater with a clean bill of mental health.  Rather, it essentially pronounced him unfit for office and speculated into the inner workings of his mind.  Goldwater sued the editor of the magazine for libel and was awarded $75,000.

In response to this incident, in 1973, the American Psychiatric Association (APA) produced a code of ethics specifically applicable to psychiatrists that contained a provision that is now widely known as the Goldwater Rule.  This rule states that it is unethical for a psychiatrist to speculate about the mental health of a public figure unless the psychiatrist has examined the public figure personally and has permission from the public figure to share his opinions.  The rule reads:

On occasion psychiatrists are asked for an opinion about an individual who is in the light of public attention or who has disclosed information about himself/herself through public media. In such circumstances, a psychiatrist may share with the public his or her expertise about psychiatric issues in general. However, it is unethical for a psychiatrist to offer a professional opinion unless he or she has conducted an examination and has been granted proper authorization for such a statement.

This rule remains in effect today.

The rule technically applies only to psychiatrists who are members of the APA, but by convention it has applied to all psychiatrists and to mental health professionals in general.  While not formally codified, the general sentiment also conventionally applies to all physicians and health care professionals in general with regard to all medical conditions, not just mental health conditions, although mental health conditions are often understandably more sensitive.

There was a lot of speculation during the campaign about Hillary Clinton’s medical condition, some of it coming from professional sources and not just armchair diagnosticians, and I was not comfortable with that, either, even though I was not a Hillary supporter.  I had a few people who know I am a physician asked me what I thought was wrong with Hillary after her much publicized collapsing episodes, but I refrained from making any statement publicly.

Non-mental health medical professionals can perhaps be forgiven for their oversight, because the rule is not emphasized as greatly outside mental health circles, although it seems to conform to an intuitive sense of propriety even without a formal rule.  But mental health professionals have no such excuse, because the Goldwater Rule is not an obscure guideline in our circles.

The existence of the Goldwater Rule notwithstanding, the candidacy and election of Donald Trump has brought out the crazy (in the non-professional sense, of course) in some of my fellow mental health professionals, and I have been alarmed by the blatant flouting of the Goldwater Rule that I have observed.

 

Most conspicuous, perhaps, is Dr. John Gartner, a psychologist, who, in addition to his private practice in psychotherapy, speaking, and consulting, bills himself as a psycho-journalist, a term he coined “for his innovative method of combining investigative journalism with psychological expertise.” He even wrote a “psychological biography” of Bill Clinton.

Dr. Gartner has been vocal in his public speculations about Donald Trump’s mental health and has even started a Change.org petition, and encouraged other mental health professionals to sign it, asserting that President Trump is mentally ill and should be removed from office under the provisions of the 25th Amendment.  The petition reads as follows:

We, the undersigned mental health professionals (please state your degree), believe in our professional judgment that Donald Trump manifests a serious mental illness that renders him psychologically incapable of competently discharging the duties of President of the United States. And we respectfully request he be removed from office, according to article 4 of the 25th amendment to the Constitution, which states that the president will be replaced if he is “unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office.”

This is not just violating the Goldwater Rule; this is throwing it on the ground and trampling all over it and encouraging others to do so as well.  As of the time of this writing, 29,542 have overstepped their ethical bounds, assuming they are all actually mental health professionals, and signed the petition.  I tweeted my concerns about the Goldwater Rule to Dr. Gartner, but he did not reply.

Dr. Gartner might object that he is not covered by the Goldwater Rule because he is a Ph.D. psychologist, and he would be technically correct, but the Goldwater Rule has traditionally been applied to other mental health professionals in the same way it has traditionally been applied to psychiatrists who aren’t dues-paying members of the APA.  Most mental health professionals are not psychiatrists, and most psychiatrists are not members of the APA, so technically, the Goldwater Rule applies to only a minority of a minority of mental health professionals.

But is this really the way we want to apply ethical rules?

It should be noted that speculating about the mental health of high-profile political figures is not confined to the left.  People on the right speculated about Barack Obama and Bill Clinton’s mental health and the mental health of liberals in general (see second review).  Some amount of this is likely the inevitable product of our modern culture, which is both highly polemicized and highly psychologized.  In addition, the internet allows everyone to become an expert in his own mind, and blogs and social media give people a platform to let the world know what they think on any given matter.  However, the speculations about Clinton’s and Obama’s mental health seemed more confined to non-professionals engaging in armchair diagnosing, which is tacky but not ethically prohibited.  I do not recall a significant organized effort by mental health professionals to label Clinton or Obama mentally ill and invoke the 25th Amendment.

While both sides can play this game, attempts to portray politicians as mentally ill should especially concern conservatives, because the mental health professions trend liberal.  As an openly and vocally conservative psychiatrist, I know this all too well.  While I was insulated from this reality to some degree in my training, since I did my psychiatric residency in the Air Force, it is a dynamic that has certainly not been lost on me since leaving the Air Force and joining the “real world.”

This tendency toward liberalism is evident among rank-and-file mental health workers but is likely worse among academic mental health professionals who are more likely to be called upon to speculate publicly about the mental health of political figures.  The liberal media are also more likely to countenance questions about the mental well-being of conservative politicians.  With the media’s undisguised hostility to Trump throughout the campaign and since his election and its willingness to openly advocate for its anti-Trump agenda, it is no longer credible to claim that the press is just a disinterested third party in these matters.

The left also has a disturbing history of attempting to use psychology to smear its opponents on the right.  A notorious example is the 1950 publication of The Authoritarian Personality, which essentially attempted to demonstrate that everyone who isn’t a leftist is an incipient fascist.  The first author of The Authoritarian Personality was Theodor Adorno, who wasn’t a trained mental health professional or psychometrician.  He was a philosopher and a composer who was perhaps best known as a music critic before the publication of The Authoritarian Personality.  Notably, Adorno was a member of the Frankfurt School, which arguably brought us the phenomenon of Cultural Marxism.  The publication of The Authoritarian Personality is perhaps ground zero in its genesis.

So again, while both sides can and do call the other side crazy, because of the nature of the mental health professions and the existence of a hostile media willing to amplify the left’s narrative, dueling charges of crazy are a numbers game that it would be unwise for the right to play.  The right, and civil discourse, for that matter, would be better served by a renewed respect for the wisdom of the Goldwater Rule and holding leftist mental health professionals accountable to it.

In 1964, Fact Magazine produced a special issue entitled “The Unconscious of a Conservative: A Special Issue on the Mind of Barry Goldwater,” specifically addressing the mental health of then-Republican presidential candidate Sen. Barry Goldwater.  As would be expected, the magazine did not pronounce Goldwater with a clean bill of mental health.  Rather, it essentially pronounced him unfit for office and speculated into the inner workings of his mind.  Goldwater sued the editor of the magazine for libel and was awarded $75,000.

In response to this incident, in 1973, the American Psychiatric Association (APA) produced a code of ethics specifically applicable to psychiatrists that contained a provision that is now widely known as the Goldwater Rule.  This rule states that it is unethical for a psychiatrist to speculate about the mental health of a public figure unless the psychiatrist has examined the public figure personally and has permission from the public figure to share his opinions.  The rule reads:

On occasion psychiatrists are asked for an opinion about an individual who is in the light of public attention or who has disclosed information about himself/herself through public media. In such circumstances, a psychiatrist may share with the public his or her expertise about psychiatric issues in general. However, it is unethical for a psychiatrist to offer a professional opinion unless he or she has conducted an examination and has been granted proper authorization for such a statement.

This rule remains in effect today.

The rule technically applies only to psychiatrists who are members of the APA, but by convention it has applied to all psychiatrists and to mental health professionals in general.  While not formally codified, the general sentiment also conventionally applies to all physicians and health care professionals in general with regard to all medical conditions, not just mental health conditions, although mental health conditions are often understandably more sensitive.

There was a lot of speculation during the campaign about Hillary Clinton’s medical condition, some of it coming from professional sources and not just armchair diagnosticians, and I was not comfortable with that, either, even though I was not a Hillary supporter.  I had a few people who know I am a physician asked me what I thought was wrong with Hillary after her much publicized collapsing episodes, but I refrained from making any statement publicly.

Non-mental health medical professionals can perhaps be forgiven for their oversight, because the rule is not emphasized as greatly outside mental health circles, although it seems to conform to an intuitive sense of propriety even without a formal rule.  But mental health professionals have no such excuse, because the Goldwater Rule is not an obscure guideline in our circles.

The existence of the Goldwater Rule notwithstanding, the candidacy and election of Donald Trump has brought out the crazy (in the non-professional sense, of course) in some of my fellow mental health professionals, and I have been alarmed by the blatant flouting of the Goldwater Rule that I have observed.

 

Most conspicuous, perhaps, is Dr. John Gartner, a psychologist, who, in addition to his private practice in psychotherapy, speaking, and consulting, bills himself as a psycho-journalist, a term he coined “for his innovative method of combining investigative journalism with psychological expertise.” He even wrote a “psychological biography” of Bill Clinton.

Dr. Gartner has been vocal in his public speculations about Donald Trump’s mental health and has even started a Change.org petition, and encouraged other mental health professionals to sign it, asserting that President Trump is mentally ill and should be removed from office under the provisions of the 25th Amendment.  The petition reads as follows:

We, the undersigned mental health professionals (please state your degree), believe in our professional judgment that Donald Trump manifests a serious mental illness that renders him psychologically incapable of competently discharging the duties of President of the United States. And we respectfully request he be removed from office, according to article 4 of the 25th amendment to the Constitution, which states that the president will be replaced if he is “unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office.”

This is not just violating the Goldwater Rule; this is throwing it on the ground and trampling all over it and encouraging others to do so as well.  As of the time of this writing, 29,542 have overstepped their ethical bounds, assuming they are all actually mental health professionals, and signed the petition.  I tweeted my concerns about the Goldwater Rule to Dr. Gartner, but he did not reply.

Dr. Gartner might object that he is not covered by the Goldwater Rule because he is a Ph.D. psychologist, and he would be technically correct, but the Goldwater Rule has traditionally been applied to other mental health professionals in the same way it has traditionally been applied to psychiatrists who aren’t dues-paying members of the APA.  Most mental health professionals are not psychiatrists, and most psychiatrists are not members of the APA, so technically, the Goldwater Rule applies to only a minority of a minority of mental health professionals.

But is this really the way we want to apply ethical rules?

It should be noted that speculating about the mental health of high-profile political figures is not confined to the left.  People on the right speculated about Barack Obama and Bill Clinton’s mental health and the mental health of liberals in general (see second review).  Some amount of this is likely the inevitable product of our modern culture, which is both highly polemicized and highly psychologized.  In addition, the internet allows everyone to become an expert in his own mind, and blogs and social media give people a platform to let the world know what they think on any given matter.  However, the speculations about Clinton’s and Obama’s mental health seemed more confined to non-professionals engaging in armchair diagnosing, which is tacky but not ethically prohibited.  I do not recall a significant organized effort by mental health professionals to label Clinton or Obama mentally ill and invoke the 25th Amendment.

While both sides can play this game, attempts to portray politicians as mentally ill should especially concern conservatives, because the mental health professions trend liberal.  As an openly and vocally conservative psychiatrist, I know this all too well.  While I was insulated from this reality to some degree in my training, since I did my psychiatric residency in the Air Force, it is a dynamic that has certainly not been lost on me since leaving the Air Force and joining the “real world.”

This tendency toward liberalism is evident among rank-and-file mental health workers but is likely worse among academic mental health professionals who are more likely to be called upon to speculate publicly about the mental health of political figures.  The liberal media are also more likely to countenance questions about the mental well-being of conservative politicians.  With the media’s undisguised hostility to Trump throughout the campaign and since his election and its willingness to openly advocate for its anti-Trump agenda, it is no longer credible to claim that the press is just a disinterested third party in these matters.

The left also has a disturbing history of attempting to use psychology to smear its opponents on the right.  A notorious example is the 1950 publication of The Authoritarian Personality, which essentially attempted to demonstrate that everyone who isn’t a leftist is an incipient fascist.  The first author of The Authoritarian Personality was Theodor Adorno, who wasn’t a trained mental health professional or psychometrician.  He was a philosopher and a composer who was perhaps best known as a music critic before the publication of The Authoritarian Personality.  Notably, Adorno was a member of the Frankfurt School, which arguably brought us the phenomenon of Cultural Marxism.  The publication of The Authoritarian Personality is perhaps ground zero in its genesis.

So again, while both sides can and do call the other side crazy, because of the nature of the mental health professions and the existence of a hostile media willing to amplify the left’s narrative, dueling charges of crazy are a numbers game that it would be unwise for the right to play.  The right, and civil discourse, for that matter, would be better served by a renewed respect for the wisdom of the Goldwater Rule and holding leftist mental health professionals accountable to it.



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