Day: July 2, 2017

Like Haman Being Hung on the Scaffold He Built for Mordechai


An online friend watching the week’s events observes that they remind her of the villain Haman being hung on the very scaffold he had built to hang Mordechai in the biblical Book of Esther. That sums up the week in which the federal investigators are themselves under investigation and the press is forced to recant the lies it has been publishing about the administration. Having watched the deep state eviscerate gentleman G.W. Bush and his administration on the Plamegate fiction, this turn of events warms my heart. It’s long overdue.

1. The Attempted “Russian Collusion” Coup Fails

The Plotters Are Under Scrutiny

Loretta Lynch,  Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, and James Comey — not President Trump — have more to fear from the ongoing investigations than does Trump, against whom not a shred of evidence of illegal or improper conduct of his campaign has turned up in a year of searching for one .

Even Comey’s replacement, as acting head of the FBI Andrew McCabe, is under investigation — three separate inquiries into his behavior are, in fact, ongoing.

Circa reported Monday that former supervisory special agent Robyn Gritz, a decorated counterterrorism agent, has filed a sexual discrimination and retaliation complaint that names McCabe and other top FBI officials.


That is working its way through the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and is awaiting a review by an administrative law judge in the Office of Federal Operations.


Gritz also filed a complaint against McCabe with the main federal whistleblower agency in April, alleging social media photos she found show he campaigned for his wife’s Virginia state senate race in violation of the Hatch Act.


FBI employees are held to a higher standard than other federal workers under the Hatch Act and may not “endorse or oppose a candidate for partisan political office or a candidate for political party office in a political advertisement, broadcast, campaign literature, or similar material if such endorsement or opposition is done in concert with a candidate, political party, or partisan political group.”


The OSC told Circa that complaint is still being actively investigated.


In addition, the Justice Department Inspector General is investigating allegations from Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, that McCabe may not have properly disclosed campaign payments to his wife on his ethics report and should have recused himself from Hillary Clinton’s email case. 

Investors Business Daily concludes that the worm is beginning to turn on “the conspiracy mongers”:

Over the weekend, the New York Post reported that the firm behind the infamous Trump dossier — Fusion GPS — has been stonewalling the Senate Judiciary Committee, which has been trying to get information on who paid the firm to produce it and how it was used by government officials.


It has been publicly known since at least early January that Fusion GPS was behind the discredited dossier, which claimed that Russia had blackmailable information on Trump, and that it was a notorious opposition research firm that was often enlisted to dig up dirt on Republicans, including a 2012 smear campaign against a donor to Mitt Romney’s campaign.


As the Post notes, one of the Fusion’s founders, Peter Fritsch, contributed “at least $1,000 to the Hillary Victory Fund and the Hillary for America campaign.”


The Post story has sparked renewed interest in this dossier, most of which has been discredited, but which appears to be serving as a “road map” to various investigations.

John McCain, who peddled the dossier story, knew better — some of the same figures were involved with him in his presidential campaign, and the claims were proven groundless.

The press, which megaphoned the plot, has lost all credibility.

As my online friend Thomas Lipscomb notes, the press has to keep up its ad revenue in order to print all the corrections it has to publish.

CNN has been hurt the most for its around-the-clock promotion of the claims against Trump.

This week it forced the resignation of three of its employees for running a fake story based on an “anonymous” source. Mollie Hemingway details the sordid history of fake news at CNN:

But taking responsibility for just one of the many flawed stories CNN has been pushing is nowhere near sufficient a response to the institutional problems plaguing the media outlet. The serious problems with CNN’s approach to the Russia-Trump collusion conspiracy are much deeper than just one story, go back many months, and involve several stories and larger themes that no one at CNN has bothered to sufficiently explain. 


[snip]


But whether it’s the embarrassingly false Comey story, the discredited dossier hit job, the retracted collusion story, or any of the other thinly sourced and overhyped collusion stories, all of these problems are similar. The journalists are getting bad information from anonymous sources, not being transparent about what has gone wrong when sourcing fails, and generally being too credulous with anonymous — always-anonymous — sources.


Yes, letting three employees go is a good first step. But more needs to be done to restore credibility. 

Sometimes, the errors are not even the result of bad sources as much as mindless reliance on the claims of those they endorse. This week, the NYT printed this correction to a long-repeated lie:

Correction: June 29, 2017


A White House Memo article on Monday about President Trump’s deflections and denials about Russia referred incorrectly to the source of an intelligence assessment that said Russia orchestrated hacking attacks during last year’s presidential election. The assessment was made by four intelligence agencies — the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, the Central Intelligence Agency, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the National Security Agency. The assessment was not approved by all 17 organizations in the American intelligence community.

The Associated Press followed on, eating crow as well:

WASHINGTON (AP) — In stories published April 6, June 2, June 26 and June 29, The Associated Press reported that all 17 U.S. intelligence agencies have agreed that Russia tried to influence the 2016 election to benefit Donald Trump. That assessment was based on information collected by three agencies — the FBI, CIA and National Security Agency — and published by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, which represents all U.S. intelligence agencies. Not all 17 intelligence agencies were involved in reaching the assessment.

My online friend JMH notes how dumb was the assertion that all 17 organizations in the American intelligence community had concluded Russia hacked the DNC:

It only took one look at the Intelligence Community roster to figure that out. Did anybody really think that National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency weighed in on Russian hackery, or that Coast Guard Intel confirmed it? The patent risibility of the claim is what drove me crazy. All it takes is for something to appear in print once, and the left will run with it forever, no matter how thoroughly or often it gets debunked.

In the meantime, the administration just continues to drain the swamp while the press goes bananas over the President’s tweets.

Our own editor explains the significance of the President’s tweets

Can anyone argue that “pretending we are all Good Friends” when the other side doesn’t works to Trump’s (or conservatives’) best interest? The norms associated with it need to change. There will be unpleasantness along the way. President Trump is setting about it in his own way and in his own style, which almost always occasions outrage, as it did in the presidential election. It turns out that the norms of the Beltway elite are not universal, and that a culture far larger than the media-political elite also has a voice in the end.

As Ken Masugi at American Greatness said:

If a candidate won’t defend his own interests, using all weapons at his command, why should the public think he will zealously defend their common interests, especially against pseudo-aristocratic racial/ethnic claims of privilege? It is scarcely egomania, let alone “white nationalism,” to defend oneself from fire coming at one from a safe space. Why are low blows and insults tolerated when they are directed at Republicans, but “unpresidential” and “beneath the dignity of the office” when they are repulsed in equal measure? In fact, Aristotle makes it clear that permitting an injustice to oneself is a vice. [snip] Just as the left makes every attack on the administrative state an attack on the 1964 Civil Rights Act, so every Republican Administration becomes for the media and Democrats a replay of Nixon and Watergate. Nixon tried to rollback the Democrats’ successor to the New Deal, the Great Society. Republicans still haven’t learned the meaning of Watergate, which was far more a political crisis engineered by partisan Democrats than a constitutional crisis brought about by Nixon. Republicans have yet to recognize that their Machiavellian enemies in the bureaucracy, media, and politics brought about Nixon’s demise. Trump has seen that crisis early on in his presidency, embodied in James Comey, and is gamely fighting it. 

Iowahawk is also on target. David Burge‏ @iowahawkblog  June 29

“Washington is now just a bunch of kittens with laser pointers stapled to their heads.”

They keep chasing that red dot and ignore the fact that the EPA can no longer claim the puddle in your driveway gives them jurisdiction over your property. Your son will no longer have to face a university star chamber if some gal claims he invaded her safe space. The military halted endorsing the recruitment of transgenders. No longer will energy sources be locked up from exploitation, or our allies be left hanging while we send a plane with pallets full of cash to the murderous mullahs. NATO members are paying more of their share of defense costs.  Abbas has stopped paying terrorists in Israeli jails. 

A real revolution is underway which is knocking the arrogant incompetent elites off their feet. They can scamper about all they want. There’s no catching that red dot at the end of the laser beam.

An online friend watching the week’s events observes that they remind her of the villain Haman being hung on the very scaffold he had built to hang Mordechai in the biblical Book of Esther. That sums up the week in which the federal investigators are themselves under investigation and the press is forced to recant the lies it has been publishing about the administration. Having watched the deep state eviscerate gentleman G.W. Bush and his administration on the Plamegate fiction, this turn of events warms my heart. It’s long overdue.

1. The Attempted “Russian Collusion” Coup Fails

The Plotters Are Under Scrutiny

Loretta Lynch,  Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, and James Comey — not President Trump — have more to fear from the ongoing investigations than does Trump, against whom not a shred of evidence of illegal or improper conduct of his campaign has turned up in a year of searching for one .

Even Comey’s replacement, as acting head of the FBI Andrew McCabe, is under investigation — three separate inquiries into his behavior are, in fact, ongoing.

Circa reported Monday that former supervisory special agent Robyn Gritz, a decorated counterterrorism agent, has filed a sexual discrimination and retaliation complaint that names McCabe and other top FBI officials.


That is working its way through the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and is awaiting a review by an administrative law judge in the Office of Federal Operations.


Gritz also filed a complaint against McCabe with the main federal whistleblower agency in April, alleging social media photos she found show he campaigned for his wife’s Virginia state senate race in violation of the Hatch Act.


FBI employees are held to a higher standard than other federal workers under the Hatch Act and may not “endorse or oppose a candidate for partisan political office or a candidate for political party office in a political advertisement, broadcast, campaign literature, or similar material if such endorsement or opposition is done in concert with a candidate, political party, or partisan political group.”


The OSC told Circa that complaint is still being actively investigated.


In addition, the Justice Department Inspector General is investigating allegations from Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, that McCabe may not have properly disclosed campaign payments to his wife on his ethics report and should have recused himself from Hillary Clinton’s email case. 

Investors Business Daily concludes that the worm is beginning to turn on “the conspiracy mongers”:

Over the weekend, the New York Post reported that the firm behind the infamous Trump dossier — Fusion GPS — has been stonewalling the Senate Judiciary Committee, which has been trying to get information on who paid the firm to produce it and how it was used by government officials.


It has been publicly known since at least early January that Fusion GPS was behind the discredited dossier, which claimed that Russia had blackmailable information on Trump, and that it was a notorious opposition research firm that was often enlisted to dig up dirt on Republicans, including a 2012 smear campaign against a donor to Mitt Romney’s campaign.


As the Post notes, one of the Fusion’s founders, Peter Fritsch, contributed “at least $1,000 to the Hillary Victory Fund and the Hillary for America campaign.”


The Post story has sparked renewed interest in this dossier, most of which has been discredited, but which appears to be serving as a “road map” to various investigations.

John McCain, who peddled the dossier story, knew better — some of the same figures were involved with him in his presidential campaign, and the claims were proven groundless.

The press, which megaphoned the plot, has lost all credibility.

As my online friend Thomas Lipscomb notes, the press has to keep up its ad revenue in order to print all the corrections it has to publish.

CNN has been hurt the most for its around-the-clock promotion of the claims against Trump.

This week it forced the resignation of three of its employees for running a fake story based on an “anonymous” source. Mollie Hemingway details the sordid history of fake news at CNN:

But taking responsibility for just one of the many flawed stories CNN has been pushing is nowhere near sufficient a response to the institutional problems plaguing the media outlet. The serious problems with CNN’s approach to the Russia-Trump collusion conspiracy are much deeper than just one story, go back many months, and involve several stories and larger themes that no one at CNN has bothered to sufficiently explain. 


[snip]


But whether it’s the embarrassingly false Comey story, the discredited dossier hit job, the retracted collusion story, or any of the other thinly sourced and overhyped collusion stories, all of these problems are similar. The journalists are getting bad information from anonymous sources, not being transparent about what has gone wrong when sourcing fails, and generally being too credulous with anonymous — always-anonymous — sources.


Yes, letting three employees go is a good first step. But more needs to be done to restore credibility. 

Sometimes, the errors are not even the result of bad sources as much as mindless reliance on the claims of those they endorse. This week, the NYT printed this correction to a long-repeated lie:

Correction: June 29, 2017


A White House Memo article on Monday about President Trump’s deflections and denials about Russia referred incorrectly to the source of an intelligence assessment that said Russia orchestrated hacking attacks during last year’s presidential election. The assessment was made by four intelligence agencies — the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, the Central Intelligence Agency, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the National Security Agency. The assessment was not approved by all 17 organizations in the American intelligence community.

The Associated Press followed on, eating crow as well:

WASHINGTON (AP) — In stories published April 6, June 2, June 26 and June 29, The Associated Press reported that all 17 U.S. intelligence agencies have agreed that Russia tried to influence the 2016 election to benefit Donald Trump. That assessment was based on information collected by three agencies — the FBI, CIA and National Security Agency — and published by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, which represents all U.S. intelligence agencies. Not all 17 intelligence agencies were involved in reaching the assessment.

My online friend JMH notes how dumb was the assertion that all 17 organizations in the American intelligence community had concluded Russia hacked the DNC:

It only took one look at the Intelligence Community roster to figure that out. Did anybody really think that National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency weighed in on Russian hackery, or that Coast Guard Intel confirmed it? The patent risibility of the claim is what drove me crazy. All it takes is for something to appear in print once, and the left will run with it forever, no matter how thoroughly or often it gets debunked.

In the meantime, the administration just continues to drain the swamp while the press goes bananas over the President’s tweets.

Our own editor explains the significance of the President’s tweets

Can anyone argue that “pretending we are all Good Friends” when the other side doesn’t works to Trump’s (or conservatives’) best interest? The norms associated with it need to change. There will be unpleasantness along the way. President Trump is setting about it in his own way and in his own style, which almost always occasions outrage, as it did in the presidential election. It turns out that the norms of the Beltway elite are not universal, and that a culture far larger than the media-political elite also has a voice in the end.

As Ken Masugi at American Greatness said:

If a candidate won’t defend his own interests, using all weapons at his command, why should the public think he will zealously defend their common interests, especially against pseudo-aristocratic racial/ethnic claims of privilege? It is scarcely egomania, let alone “white nationalism,” to defend oneself from fire coming at one from a safe space. Why are low blows and insults tolerated when they are directed at Republicans, but “unpresidential” and “beneath the dignity of the office” when they are repulsed in equal measure? In fact, Aristotle makes it clear that permitting an injustice to oneself is a vice. [snip] Just as the left makes every attack on the administrative state an attack on the 1964 Civil Rights Act, so every Republican Administration becomes for the media and Democrats a replay of Nixon and Watergate. Nixon tried to rollback the Democrats’ successor to the New Deal, the Great Society. Republicans still haven’t learned the meaning of Watergate, which was far more a political crisis engineered by partisan Democrats than a constitutional crisis brought about by Nixon. Republicans have yet to recognize that their Machiavellian enemies in the bureaucracy, media, and politics brought about Nixon’s demise. Trump has seen that crisis early on in his presidency, embodied in James Comey, and is gamely fighting it. 

Iowahawk is also on target. David Burge‏ @iowahawkblog  June 29

“Washington is now just a bunch of kittens with laser pointers stapled to their heads.”

They keep chasing that red dot and ignore the fact that the EPA can no longer claim the puddle in your driveway gives them jurisdiction over your property. Your son will no longer have to face a university star chamber if some gal claims he invaded her safe space. The military halted endorsing the recruitment of transgenders. No longer will energy sources be locked up from exploitation, or our allies be left hanging while we send a plane with pallets full of cash to the murderous mullahs. NATO members are paying more of their share of defense costs.  Abbas has stopped paying terrorists in Israeli jails. 

A real revolution is underway which is knocking the arrogant incompetent elites off their feet. They can scamper about all they want. There’s no catching that red dot at the end of the laser beam.



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GOP bill targets law aimed at keeping politics out of churches


Churches should have the right to endorse political candidates and still keep their tax-free status, say House Republicans targeting a law that prohibits such outright politicking from the pulpit.

Republicans repeatedly have failed to scrap the law preventing churches and other nonprofits from backing candidates, so now they are trying to starve it. With little fanfare, a House Appropriations subcommittee added a provision that would deny money to the IRS to enforce the 63-year-old law to a bill to fund the Treasury Department, Securities and Exchange Commission and other agencies.

The subcommittee passed the bill Thursday.

Republicans say the law is enforced unevenly, leaving religious leaders uncertain about what they are allowed to say and do.

“I believe that churches have a right of free speech and an opportunity to talk about positions and issues that are relevant to their faith,” said Rep. Jim Renacci, R-Ohio.

Some Democrats say the measure comes too close to mixing church and state. They say religious leaders already have First Amendment rights, just like anyone else. But if they want to get political, they don’t have a constitutional right not to pay taxes.

Some also worry that the measure could upend the system of campaign financing by allowing churches to use their tax-free status to funnel money to political candidates.

Rep. Richard Neal, D-Mass., recalled a speech that President John F. Kennedy gave to religious leaders when he was running for president.

“He said the pope wouldn’t tell him what to do, and the people in that audience shouldn’t be telling people on Sunday morning who to vote for,” Neal said. “I don’t think churches should be endorsing.”

Many nonprofit groups want to avoid politics. In April, 4,500 nonprofit groups signed onto a letter to congressional leaders asking them to preserve the law.

The law prohibits tax-exempt charitable organizations such as churches from participating directly or indirectly in any political campaign to support or oppose a candidate. If the IRS determines that a group has violated the law, it can revoke its tax-exempt status.

The law doesn’t stop religious groups from weighing in on public policy or organizing in ways that may benefit one side in a campaign.

The bill specifically forbids the IRS from spending money to enforce the law against “a church, or a convention or association of churches,” unless the IRS commissioner signs off on it and notifies Congress.

The bill doesn’t mention other types of nonprofit groups, or even synagogues or mosques, said Nick Little of the Center for Inquiry, which promotes secularism.

“All they care about is the Christian groups, and in particular, it will end up as the extreme religious right Christian groups,” Little said. “If this goes through, this would add just another way in which unregulated dark money could be used.”

Religious leaders have been weighing in on political issues for generations, whether it’s the debate over abortion or advocating for the poor. But periodically, the IRS has stepped in when religious leaders explicitly endorse or oppose candidates.

The law is called the Johnson Amendment after former President Lyndon Johnson, who introduced it in 1954 when he was a Democratic senator from Texas. Johnson was upset because a few nonprofit groups attacked him as a communist in a Senate campaign.

The law was signed by a Republican president — Dwight Eisenhower — but Republicans have been attacking it in recent years.

House Republicans have pledged to repeal the law as part of a tax overhaul. President Donald Trump signed an executive order in May discouraging the IRS from enforcing the law.

Rep. Pat Tiberi, R-Ohio, says the law has been enforced unevenly.

“Some churches, including my own, have been very concerned about appearing political in any way shape or form,” Tiberi said. “Churches I went to that were primarily in Democrat areas, that I would go to because I had a Democrat district, the local candidates on the Sunday mornings before the election would be introduced, would speak from the pulpit about the campaign and why the congregation should vote for them.”

The full Appropriations Committee will consider the measure after the July 4th congressional recess.



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Car bombs rock capital, multiple casualties, Syrian state TV says


A series of car bomb explosions, including a suicide attacker who blew himself up after being surrounded by security forces, rocked the Syrian capital on Sunday, killing at least eight people and wounding a dozen more, state TV reported.

State media said security forces intercepted the two other car bombs, suggesting they were controlled explosions.

Footage on state TV from the scene of one explosion, along the road to the airport, showed at least two scorched vehicles. The closed-off street was littered with debris, while security men roamed the area. Footage from Tahreer Square in central Damascus showed the facade of one building badly damaged, and mangled vehicles parked in the small roundabout.

State TV said security forces detected two car bombs at an entrance to the city, and foiled a plot to target crowded areas on first day of work after the long Muslim holiday that follows Ramadan. The state news agency SANA said the security forces detonated two car bombs at the airport road intersection.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, an opposition-run monitoring group, also reported the three explosions. It put the death toll at 12, including the suicide bomber.

Such attacks have been relatively rare in Damascus, the seat of power for President Bashar Assad. Pro-government forces have been fighting to drive rebels from Ain Terma, one of their last strongholds on the eastern outskirts of Damascus.

 



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Hands Cross the Ocean: Trump and Macron


According to Casablanca, a kiss is just a kiss, a sigh is just a sigh, but is a handshake just a handshake? Or is there a correlation between a handshake and character? Does a handshake tell you anything about the personality, political attitude, or feelings of the participant? A handshake may not be a weapon, but is it a declaration of policy?

In recent years some handshakes have been significant signals of sensibilities. The one in September 1993 between Yitzhak Rabin and PLO leader Yasser Arafat was marked by discomfort on the part of the then Israeli p[rime minister, as was that on October 14, 1997 in Belfast between Gerry Adams, president of Sinn Fein, and British Prime Minister Tony Blair. One the other hand, that on June 27, 2012 also in Belfast between Martin McGuiness, former commander of the IRA, and Queen Elizabeth I, both symbolically wearing green, illustrated a change in attitudes, a more moderate policy of the part of the Irish Republican movement.

Since the election of Donald Trump to the U.S. presidency, the U.S. media has created a virtual cottage industry examining his handshakes with foreign leaders, and any meaning to be found in them. The most scrutinized and notable of them is that on May 25, 2017 at the NATO summit meeting with Emmanuel Macron, the newly elected President of France.

The pictures of the event with the U.S. and French flags in the background are revealing. While the two leaders are grimacing at each other, the handshake was unusually long with each demonstrating strength to the degree that white knuckles were shown by both. Whether Macron actually intended to crush Trump’s hand physically is not clear, but evidently it was a show of power. Indeed Macron stated it was not innocent, it was deliberate, intentional, a “moment of truth.”

Macron, new on the international scene, is ambitious, showing in his remarks and physically posture he is in control, eager for France to be strong economically and to play an increasing role internationally. Already, he is preparing to cut government spending in order to meet requirements of European Union budget deficit limits and restore French financial creditability. It is more than likely that he views himself in the image of Charles de Gaulle, saving France from petty partisan quarrels and glorifying the role of a strong and independent France.

As a result of Trump’s rejection on June 1, 2017 of the Paris Climate Change Agreement on carbon emissions  he has been criticized by French leaders. Macron teased him by transforming Trump’s familiar battle cry into “Make the planet great again.” Immediately, Macron in English made two offers of refuge to American scientists who were disappointed by Trump’s views on climate and who he held would find a second homeland in France.

Following Trump’s remark that his friend named “Jim,” refuses to visit the French capital because “Paris is no longer Paris,” the Mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo showed a video of Mickey and Minnie Mouse at the Eiffel Tower celebrating Paris that was “doing well and was a resilient city.” 

Trump will now see the city, having accepted the invitation from Macron to visit Paris on July 14, take part in the traditional Bastille Day parade, to witness fireworks at the Eiffel Tower, and to commemorate the 100th anniversary of American entry into World War I. It is meaningful that U.S. soldiers, though not under the leadership of their commander in chief, will take part with French military in the parade. It is even more memorable that the entrance of those U.S. troops in 1917 was a turning point in U.S. relations with Europe, a rejection of isolationism and the policy of no foreign entanglements, and the beginning of U.S. efforts at hegemonic stability in Europe. 

Foreign dignitaries have been invited on Bastille Day in the past. In retrospect, the most unwise was in 2008 when President Nicholas Sarkozy hosted Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. It is not necessarily the best of times nor the worst of times for President Trump to go to Paris. But the visit is politically shrewd for both countries. The Trump visit is opportune and provides an opportunity for conciliation between the two sides and  discussion of  meaningful issues, starting with counterterrorism and economic partnership.

It is time to overcome past mistakes or misunderstandings on both sides. It was unwise for Trump to have suggested implicit endorsement of Marine Le Pen, whom he termed “the strongest candidate,” and who was the main opponent of Macron, in the first round of the French presidential election in April 2017, and who had visited Trump Tower in January 2017 though she did not meet Trump at the time. It was equally unwise for Barack Obama, on April 20, 2017, to have spoken on the phone to Macron, a few days before the first round, even if he did not explicitly endorse Macron.

Macron may find echoes of French history in Trump’s visit. It was Napoleon, a strong ruler with no clear political agenda, who wanted to emphasize law and order internally and to make France great again internationally. Trump is not likely to storm the Bastille, the former royal fortress and prison, as did the revolutionaries on July 14, 1789 to remove the symbol of authority and oppression, but he is like the French emperor an advocate of law and order.

Trump and Macron share certain values. Macron has already appeared tough, and competent to deal with Russian President Putin and German Chancellor Merkel as well as President Trump. He is prepared, like Trump, to act against terrorists, increasing tough measures including house arrests and property searches without warrants and even preventing protest marches on grounds of security. Like Trump he is using executive orders to get economic changes.

Internationally, Macron has attempted to act as a conciliator in the dispute between Saudi Arabia and Qatar, has spoken strongly to Putin regarding both the use of chemical weapons in a future attack by Syria as well as the alleged Russian intervention in the French election, and the lying propaganda of the Russian media.

Macron resembles Trump in some other ways. He will not have a news conference on Bastille Day because his “complex thoughts” are not appropriate. He has, perhaps in jest, spoken of his rule as a “Jupiterian” presidency, echoing the Roman king of gods.

Trump has not yet fully outlined a foreign policy but he is prepared to act, to defend the U.S. and to limit immigration, if unwilling or careful to intervene or participate in quarrels elsewhere, though he is not an isolationist. Macron is aware that the U.S. is no longer willing to be the gendarme of the world, though it is prepared to act if US security is threatened. Paris is better in April, when chestnuts are in blossom, but July is the month for American-French entente.

According to Casablanca, a kiss is just a kiss, a sigh is just a sigh, but is a handshake just a handshake? Or is there a correlation between a handshake and character? Does a handshake tell you anything about the personality, political attitude, or feelings of the participant? A handshake may not be a weapon, but is it a declaration of policy?

In recent years some handshakes have been significant signals of sensibilities. The one in September 1993 between Yitzhak Rabin and PLO leader Yasser Arafat was marked by discomfort on the part of the then Israeli p[rime minister, as was that on October 14, 1997 in Belfast between Gerry Adams, president of Sinn Fein, and British Prime Minister Tony Blair. One the other hand, that on June 27, 2012 also in Belfast between Martin McGuiness, former commander of the IRA, and Queen Elizabeth I, both symbolically wearing green, illustrated a change in attitudes, a more moderate policy of the part of the Irish Republican movement.

Since the election of Donald Trump to the U.S. presidency, the U.S. media has created a virtual cottage industry examining his handshakes with foreign leaders, and any meaning to be found in them. The most scrutinized and notable of them is that on May 25, 2017 at the NATO summit meeting with Emmanuel Macron, the newly elected President of France.

The pictures of the event with the U.S. and French flags in the background are revealing. While the two leaders are grimacing at each other, the handshake was unusually long with each demonstrating strength to the degree that white knuckles were shown by both. Whether Macron actually intended to crush Trump’s hand physically is not clear, but evidently it was a show of power. Indeed Macron stated it was not innocent, it was deliberate, intentional, a “moment of truth.”

Macron, new on the international scene, is ambitious, showing in his remarks and physically posture he is in control, eager for France to be strong economically and to play an increasing role internationally. Already, he is preparing to cut government spending in order to meet requirements of European Union budget deficit limits and restore French financial creditability. It is more than likely that he views himself in the image of Charles de Gaulle, saving France from petty partisan quarrels and glorifying the role of a strong and independent France.

As a result of Trump’s rejection on June 1, 2017 of the Paris Climate Change Agreement on carbon emissions  he has been criticized by French leaders. Macron teased him by transforming Trump’s familiar battle cry into “Make the planet great again.” Immediately, Macron in English made two offers of refuge to American scientists who were disappointed by Trump’s views on climate and who he held would find a second homeland in France.

Following Trump’s remark that his friend named “Jim,” refuses to visit the French capital because “Paris is no longer Paris,” the Mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo showed a video of Mickey and Minnie Mouse at the Eiffel Tower celebrating Paris that was “doing well and was a resilient city.” 

Trump will now see the city, having accepted the invitation from Macron to visit Paris on July 14, take part in the traditional Bastille Day parade, to witness fireworks at the Eiffel Tower, and to commemorate the 100th anniversary of American entry into World War I. It is meaningful that U.S. soldiers, though not under the leadership of their commander in chief, will take part with French military in the parade. It is even more memorable that the entrance of those U.S. troops in 1917 was a turning point in U.S. relations with Europe, a rejection of isolationism and the policy of no foreign entanglements, and the beginning of U.S. efforts at hegemonic stability in Europe. 

Foreign dignitaries have been invited on Bastille Day in the past. In retrospect, the most unwise was in 2008 when President Nicholas Sarkozy hosted Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. It is not necessarily the best of times nor the worst of times for President Trump to go to Paris. But the visit is politically shrewd for both countries. The Trump visit is opportune and provides an opportunity for conciliation between the two sides and  discussion of  meaningful issues, starting with counterterrorism and economic partnership.

It is time to overcome past mistakes or misunderstandings on both sides. It was unwise for Trump to have suggested implicit endorsement of Marine Le Pen, whom he termed “the strongest candidate,” and who was the main opponent of Macron, in the first round of the French presidential election in April 2017, and who had visited Trump Tower in January 2017 though she did not meet Trump at the time. It was equally unwise for Barack Obama, on April 20, 2017, to have spoken on the phone to Macron, a few days before the first round, even if he did not explicitly endorse Macron.

Macron may find echoes of French history in Trump’s visit. It was Napoleon, a strong ruler with no clear political agenda, who wanted to emphasize law and order internally and to make France great again internationally. Trump is not likely to storm the Bastille, the former royal fortress and prison, as did the revolutionaries on July 14, 1789 to remove the symbol of authority and oppression, but he is like the French emperor an advocate of law and order.

Trump and Macron share certain values. Macron has already appeared tough, and competent to deal with Russian President Putin and German Chancellor Merkel as well as President Trump. He is prepared, like Trump, to act against terrorists, increasing tough measures including house arrests and property searches without warrants and even preventing protest marches on grounds of security. Like Trump he is using executive orders to get economic changes.

Internationally, Macron has attempted to act as a conciliator in the dispute between Saudi Arabia and Qatar, has spoken strongly to Putin regarding both the use of chemical weapons in a future attack by Syria as well as the alleged Russian intervention in the French election, and the lying propaganda of the Russian media.

Macron resembles Trump in some other ways. He will not have a news conference on Bastille Day because his “complex thoughts” are not appropriate. He has, perhaps in jest, spoken of his rule as a “Jupiterian” presidency, echoing the Roman king of gods.

Trump has not yet fully outlined a foreign policy but he is prepared to act, to defend the U.S. and to limit immigration, if unwilling or careful to intervene or participate in quarrels elsewhere, though he is not an isolationist. Macron is aware that the U.S. is no longer willing to be the gendarme of the world, though it is prepared to act if US security is threatened. Paris is better in April, when chestnuts are in blossom, but July is the month for American-French entente.



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A Bridge to Nowhere in Israel


The Mideast is full of stupid ideas, each one more ridiculous than the previous.  The newest confabulation comes this time from Israel.  Israel is seriously considering building an artificial island off Gaza, which it can police, in order to supply the strip.

Many members of the security cabinet favor building an artificial island off the Gaza Strip to serve as its port but due to opposition from Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman, no decision was made when the forum discussed the idea Sunday night[.] …


The proposal … calls for the artificial island to be under international control. In addition to serving as a seaport, the island would contain infrastructure facilities that would provide water and power to Gaza residents.

The idea is that Israel can allow supplies into Gaza, filtered through security inspections.  It would also have a drawbridge in case the natives get restless and decide to storm the facility.

The island is predicted to cost $5 billion, which means that before it is finished, it will cost $10 billion.

Katz, who is also the intelligence minister, said he also told the security cabinet that building the island would cost around $5 billion, all of which would come from international donations.

From international donations?  It is bad enough that the idea is ridiculous, but Minister Katz thinks the world should pony up for this.  Of course, it would be built chiefly by Israelis, and one has to wonder if this is not also a government employment scheme.

No one is going to pay for this.  Those who love Israel will see it for the absurdity it is.  Those who hate Israel will see it as nothing more than Israel retaining control over Gaza at someone else’s expense. while pretending to care for the Gazans – which in a way it is also.

If Israel wants to send supplies to Gaza, she can do so now through the Erez crossing on the north of Gaza.  Why does Israel need to build a $5-billion artificial island?

The article says it would be under international control.

Would Israel be so foolish as to allow it to remain under international control?  Would the French, Norwegians, or Chinese really police the island and the supply chain the way Israel would like?  Of course not!  It would become an open channel for war supplies.  Nor would any nation volunteer to participate in such fantasies, since none wants to be seen helping Israel.

Such an island would have to be run by Israel, not international control.  Therein lies a rub.

The left will say it is just Israel continuing to control Gaza, which it would be – not that Gaza does not need to be controlled.  The left will claim that Israel will be supplying water and electricity from the island rather than let the Gazans build their own facilities as a means of controlling the Gazans, which in a way is true.  The Israelis know that any supplies to the Gazans would be diverted to make weaponry.

The left will claim that any power and water from the island will be used to blackmail the Gazans with a cutoff should they get uppity, which in a way would be true.  This island idea will spark international outrage and serve only to convince the world that Israel has not left Gaza, as Israel claims she has.  It will just give the left more ammunition to call Gaza the world’s biggest open-air prison.

Finally, this project will require Israeli troops to set foot in Gaza in order to build the land end of the causeway.  Does anyone seriously think the Gazans will not start shooting?  And even if the landing is secured, does anyone doubt that the Gazans would sabotage it later on?

The Gazans want total access to the sea, not a bridge to nowhere.  Avigidor Lieberman was right to oppose this.  It is folly.

But let’s take a further look at what could be done with $5 billion, which in actuality would run up to $10 billion.

A Gazan family of five could be given $250,000 – $50,000 per member – to relocate somewhere else on the planet.  In most of the world, this would set the family up for life.

If Arab countries will not accept them – and they probably won’t – then African, Asian, or South American nations would accept them, if these Gazans came in with that much cash.  Five billion dollars could relocate 100,000 Gazans.  Ten billion could relocate 200,000 Gazans.

This would be money better spent.

To those who say the Gazans will not accept it, of course, you are right.  As a group, the Gazans will not accept it, but many individuals will accept it, and these should be presented with that opportunity.  If only 10% of Gazans accepted it, it would be an improvement.  Every little bit helps.

Rather than spending money on idiocy, spend the money on alleviating the problem.

Now, as for donations: The Israelis are insane to think the world will voluntarily donate money to make Israel’s life easier – whether that means building an island or paying Gazans to leave.  If the Israelis are not going to pay for it, then it will not get done.  Here the principle of cui bono applies.  It will benefit Israel, so Israel will probably have to pay.

Israel could tell Europe that rather than supporting NGOs, a buyout of the Gazans will be the only monies allowed to be spent in their service.  That might be an idea.  It might generate some money, but more likely, Europe will just cease funding Gaza and let the population starve in the hope of embarrassing Israel into doing what Europe wants.

Clearly, the only real and permanent benefit can be realized when the Gazans leave.  So Israel must offer to pay the Gazans to leave.  The Arabs will not pay.  The Asians will not pay.  The left will not pay.  I have no idea where Israel thinks these donations will come from, if not from Israel.

There is always a chorus who will cry: Drive the Arabs out into the desert.  It is not Israeli’s problem.  Maybe not!  But these are the same people who get upset when people criticize Israel, and what do they think will happen when Israel drives the Arabs out into the desert?

More criticism.  BDS would become unstoppable worldwide.

There is no easy or happy solution.  But if any money is spent on Gaza or Judea and Samaria – the West Bank – it must be spent only to pay the Arabs to leave.  Anything else is a waste of time and money.  And if one thinks Israel should not pay, then tell us who will pay.  Not who should pay, but who will.

Mike Konrad is the pen name of an American who wishes he had availed himself more fully of the opportunity to learn Spanish in high school, lo those many decades ago.  He writes on the Arabs of South America at http://latinarabia.com.  He also just started a website about small computers at http://minireplacement.com.

The Mideast is full of stupid ideas, each one more ridiculous than the previous.  The newest confabulation comes this time from Israel.  Israel is seriously considering building an artificial island off Gaza, which it can police, in order to supply the strip.

Many members of the security cabinet favor building an artificial island off the Gaza Strip to serve as its port but due to opposition from Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman, no decision was made when the forum discussed the idea Sunday night[.] …


The proposal … calls for the artificial island to be under international control. In addition to serving as a seaport, the island would contain infrastructure facilities that would provide water and power to Gaza residents.

The idea is that Israel can allow supplies into Gaza, filtered through security inspections.  It would also have a drawbridge in case the natives get restless and decide to storm the facility.

The island is predicted to cost $5 billion, which means that before it is finished, it will cost $10 billion.

Katz, who is also the intelligence minister, said he also told the security cabinet that building the island would cost around $5 billion, all of which would come from international donations.

From international donations?  It is bad enough that the idea is ridiculous, but Minister Katz thinks the world should pony up for this.  Of course, it would be built chiefly by Israelis, and one has to wonder if this is not also a government employment scheme.

No one is going to pay for this.  Those who love Israel will see it for the absurdity it is.  Those who hate Israel will see it as nothing more than Israel retaining control over Gaza at someone else’s expense. while pretending to care for the Gazans – which in a way it is also.

If Israel wants to send supplies to Gaza, she can do so now through the Erez crossing on the north of Gaza.  Why does Israel need to build a $5-billion artificial island?

The article says it would be under international control.

Would Israel be so foolish as to allow it to remain under international control?  Would the French, Norwegians, or Chinese really police the island and the supply chain the way Israel would like?  Of course not!  It would become an open channel for war supplies.  Nor would any nation volunteer to participate in such fantasies, since none wants to be seen helping Israel.

Such an island would have to be run by Israel, not international control.  Therein lies a rub.

The left will say it is just Israel continuing to control Gaza, which it would be – not that Gaza does not need to be controlled.  The left will claim that Israel will be supplying water and electricity from the island rather than let the Gazans build their own facilities as a means of controlling the Gazans, which in a way is true.  The Israelis know that any supplies to the Gazans would be diverted to make weaponry.

The left will claim that any power and water from the island will be used to blackmail the Gazans with a cutoff should they get uppity, which in a way would be true.  This island idea will spark international outrage and serve only to convince the world that Israel has not left Gaza, as Israel claims she has.  It will just give the left more ammunition to call Gaza the world’s biggest open-air prison.

Finally, this project will require Israeli troops to set foot in Gaza in order to build the land end of the causeway.  Does anyone seriously think the Gazans will not start shooting?  And even if the landing is secured, does anyone doubt that the Gazans would sabotage it later on?

The Gazans want total access to the sea, not a bridge to nowhere.  Avigidor Lieberman was right to oppose this.  It is folly.

But let’s take a further look at what could be done with $5 billion, which in actuality would run up to $10 billion.

A Gazan family of five could be given $250,000 – $50,000 per member – to relocate somewhere else on the planet.  In most of the world, this would set the family up for life.

If Arab countries will not accept them – and they probably won’t – then African, Asian, or South American nations would accept them, if these Gazans came in with that much cash.  Five billion dollars could relocate 100,000 Gazans.  Ten billion could relocate 200,000 Gazans.

This would be money better spent.

To those who say the Gazans will not accept it, of course, you are right.  As a group, the Gazans will not accept it, but many individuals will accept it, and these should be presented with that opportunity.  If only 10% of Gazans accepted it, it would be an improvement.  Every little bit helps.

Rather than spending money on idiocy, spend the money on alleviating the problem.

Now, as for donations: The Israelis are insane to think the world will voluntarily donate money to make Israel’s life easier – whether that means building an island or paying Gazans to leave.  If the Israelis are not going to pay for it, then it will not get done.  Here the principle of cui bono applies.  It will benefit Israel, so Israel will probably have to pay.

Israel could tell Europe that rather than supporting NGOs, a buyout of the Gazans will be the only monies allowed to be spent in their service.  That might be an idea.  It might generate some money, but more likely, Europe will just cease funding Gaza and let the population starve in the hope of embarrassing Israel into doing what Europe wants.

Clearly, the only real and permanent benefit can be realized when the Gazans leave.  So Israel must offer to pay the Gazans to leave.  The Arabs will not pay.  The Asians will not pay.  The left will not pay.  I have no idea where Israel thinks these donations will come from, if not from Israel.

There is always a chorus who will cry: Drive the Arabs out into the desert.  It is not Israeli’s problem.  Maybe not!  But these are the same people who get upset when people criticize Israel, and what do they think will happen when Israel drives the Arabs out into the desert?

More criticism.  BDS would become unstoppable worldwide.

There is no easy or happy solution.  But if any money is spent on Gaza or Judea and Samaria – the West Bank – it must be spent only to pay the Arabs to leave.  Anything else is a waste of time and money.  And if one thinks Israel should not pay, then tell us who will pay.  Not who should pay, but who will.

Mike Konrad is the pen name of an American who wishes he had availed himself more fully of the opportunity to learn Spanish in high school, lo those many decades ago.  He writes on the Arabs of South America at http://latinarabia.com.  He also just started a website about small computers at http://minireplacement.com.



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Trump the Junkyard Dog: Poke Him and Expect to Be Bitten


Remember Bad, Bad Leroy Brown?  He was “Badder than old King Kong and meaner than a junkyard dog.”  Junkyard dogs are good in a fight, mean and nasty when provoked.  They’re often docile when treated decently, with respect and kindness.  But don’t poke them with a stick or kick them unless you want to be attacked with bared teeth and a nasty bite.

President Donald Trump is a junkyard dog.  Raised in New York City, he spent his entire working life dealing with N.Y. politics, graft, regulations, backstabbing, and aggressiveness.  A true junkyard.  It’s not the lunch room at Bergdorf Goodman on Fifth Avenue; it’s the trenches of political warfare and bureaucracy of building hotels and managing real estate.

Trump is generally kind and gentle.  Ask his employees or his family.  For all the thousands of people he has interacted with over the years in his personal and professional life, few have been critical of Trump.  Except for a handful of women who piled on, accusing him of unwanted affections just after the Access Hollywood video release.

Morning Joe co-hosts Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski “fawned over Trump” during much of the presidential campaign, to the dismay of Media Matters and other left-wing groups.  Treating him with respect, they had pleasant and informative interviews.  And good ratings.  Discussions and challenging questions regarding policy were fair game for a presidential candidate.  It wasn’t personal or nasty.

Post-election, Joe and Mika spent New Year’s Eve at Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago, enjoying their cordial relationship with and proximity to the president-elect.

Fast-forward to the Trump presidency.  Joe and Mika, perhaps responding to their MSNBC viewers and corporate masters, decided that petting the junkyard dog was no longer appropriate.  Instead, throwing rocks and poking him with a stick would be more suitable for the MSNBC audience.

How did they provoke the junkyard dog?  Mika accused him of “lying every day” and “destroying the country.”  She also referred to his “teensy” hands.

Remember Marco Rubio commenting on Trump’s hands?  Early in the primary season, Rubio remarked, “And you know what they say about guys with small hands.”  Poking the junkyard dog with a stick.  Trump hit back against “Little Marco” with a new nickname, and during the next debate, he defended his manhood: “I guarantee you there’s no problem.”

Ted Cruz learned a similar lesson after a Cruz-linked super-PAC posted nude photos of Melania Trump from 2000.  Trump hit back hard with a side-by-side photo of Heidi Cruz and Melania Trump.  Poke a junkyard dog with a stick and expect to be bitten.

Joe and Mika learned a similar lesson this week when poking Trump, calling him a liar and questioning his manhood – not privately, but to the world on their morning news show, three hours a day, five days a week on a major network.  It was not for the first time, either.  Their show, network, and the entire mainstream media have been throwing rocks at Trump.  Incessant criticism.  Name-calling and worse.  Did they expect Trump to just ignore it?

Were they expecting a George W. Bush response of turning the other cheek – of repeatedly not reacting to criticism, content to “let history be the judge of what he did”?  How did that work out?  The Bush approach reflects the refined highbrow world he grew up in, not the rough-and-tumble world of New York City, where Trump cut his teeth.

Donald Trump is who he is.  We have been watching him daily for the past two years.  He doesn’t pick fights, but he certainly responds when someone picks a fight with him.  First Lady Melania Trump set the stage for how this sort of thing goes: “When her husband gets attacked, he will punch back 10 times harder.” 

So why the shock and outrage from the media and #NeverTrump Republicans?  This is who Trump is.  Call him a pig or a fascist or a Nazi incessantly.  Tell the world he is mentally ill and that he is ill endowed.  Claim that he wants to kill people and destroy the country.  Call him a liar – and this is not some small market talk radio host, but instead a prominent national network morning news show.  Even Carl Bernstein, still surfing his Watergate wave from 40 years ago, said we have “a malignant presidency.”

Kick the junkyard dog and expect blowback.  Other presidents may have ignored this, but not the scrapper from Queens.  Poke him with a stick, and expect to be bitten eventually.

Spare us the high-horse indignation from the #NeverTrumps – whether it’s Senator Ben Sasse saying, “This isn’t normal and it’s beneath the dignity of your office” or Senator Lindsay Graham saying, “Your tweet was beneath the office,” these same paragons of virtue didn’t seem to have a problem when Barack Obama weaponized the FBI, DOJ, CIA, and IRS in pursuit of political opponents.  But let Trump punch back, and it’s the apocalypse.

Time for a new nursery rhyme for the media and everyone else outraged over President Trump.  “Ring around the Rosy” needs an update.

New version: Diss Trump around the rosy; get punched in the nosey.  Fake news, fake news, they all fall down.

Brian C Joondeph, M.D., MPS is a Denver-based physician and writer.  Follow him on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter.

Remember Bad, Bad Leroy Brown?  He was “Badder than old King Kong and meaner than a junkyard dog.”  Junkyard dogs are good in a fight, mean and nasty when provoked.  They’re often docile when treated decently, with respect and kindness.  But don’t poke them with a stick or kick them unless you want to be attacked with bared teeth and a nasty bite.

President Donald Trump is a junkyard dog.  Raised in New York City, he spent his entire working life dealing with N.Y. politics, graft, regulations, backstabbing, and aggressiveness.  A true junkyard.  It’s not the lunch room at Bergdorf Goodman on Fifth Avenue; it’s the trenches of political warfare and bureaucracy of building hotels and managing real estate.

Trump is generally kind and gentle.  Ask his employees or his family.  For all the thousands of people he has interacted with over the years in his personal and professional life, few have been critical of Trump.  Except for a handful of women who piled on, accusing him of unwanted affections just after the Access Hollywood video release.

Morning Joe co-hosts Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski “fawned over Trump” during much of the presidential campaign, to the dismay of Media Matters and other left-wing groups.  Treating him with respect, they had pleasant and informative interviews.  And good ratings.  Discussions and challenging questions regarding policy were fair game for a presidential candidate.  It wasn’t personal or nasty.

Post-election, Joe and Mika spent New Year’s Eve at Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago, enjoying their cordial relationship with and proximity to the president-elect.

Fast-forward to the Trump presidency.  Joe and Mika, perhaps responding to their MSNBC viewers and corporate masters, decided that petting the junkyard dog was no longer appropriate.  Instead, throwing rocks and poking him with a stick would be more suitable for the MSNBC audience.

How did they provoke the junkyard dog?  Mika accused him of “lying every day” and “destroying the country.”  She also referred to his “teensy” hands.

Remember Marco Rubio commenting on Trump’s hands?  Early in the primary season, Rubio remarked, “And you know what they say about guys with small hands.”  Poking the junkyard dog with a stick.  Trump hit back against “Little Marco” with a new nickname, and during the next debate, he defended his manhood: “I guarantee you there’s no problem.”

Ted Cruz learned a similar lesson after a Cruz-linked super-PAC posted nude photos of Melania Trump from 2000.  Trump hit back hard with a side-by-side photo of Heidi Cruz and Melania Trump.  Poke a junkyard dog with a stick and expect to be bitten.

Joe and Mika learned a similar lesson this week when poking Trump, calling him a liar and questioning his manhood – not privately, but to the world on their morning news show, three hours a day, five days a week on a major network.  It was not for the first time, either.  Their show, network, and the entire mainstream media have been throwing rocks at Trump.  Incessant criticism.  Name-calling and worse.  Did they expect Trump to just ignore it?

Were they expecting a George W. Bush response of turning the other cheek – of repeatedly not reacting to criticism, content to “let history be the judge of what he did”?  How did that work out?  The Bush approach reflects the refined highbrow world he grew up in, not the rough-and-tumble world of New York City, where Trump cut his teeth.

Donald Trump is who he is.  We have been watching him daily for the past two years.  He doesn’t pick fights, but he certainly responds when someone picks a fight with him.  First Lady Melania Trump set the stage for how this sort of thing goes: “When her husband gets attacked, he will punch back 10 times harder.” 

So why the shock and outrage from the media and #NeverTrump Republicans?  This is who Trump is.  Call him a pig or a fascist or a Nazi incessantly.  Tell the world he is mentally ill and that he is ill endowed.  Claim that he wants to kill people and destroy the country.  Call him a liar – and this is not some small market talk radio host, but instead a prominent national network morning news show.  Even Carl Bernstein, still surfing his Watergate wave from 40 years ago, said we have “a malignant presidency.”

Kick the junkyard dog and expect blowback.  Other presidents may have ignored this, but not the scrapper from Queens.  Poke him with a stick, and expect to be bitten eventually.

Spare us the high-horse indignation from the #NeverTrumps – whether it’s Senator Ben Sasse saying, “This isn’t normal and it’s beneath the dignity of your office” or Senator Lindsay Graham saying, “Your tweet was beneath the office,” these same paragons of virtue didn’t seem to have a problem when Barack Obama weaponized the FBI, DOJ, CIA, and IRS in pursuit of political opponents.  But let Trump punch back, and it’s the apocalypse.

Time for a new nursery rhyme for the media and everyone else outraged over President Trump.  “Ring around the Rosy” needs an update.

New version: Diss Trump around the rosy; get punched in the nosey.  Fake news, fake news, they all fall down.

Brian C Joondeph, M.D., MPS is a Denver-based physician and writer.  Follow him on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter.



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Revisiting Churchill: Where are the statesmen today?


The English Oxford Dictionary defines a statesman as “a skilled, experienced, and respected political leader or figure.”  To be viewed as a statesman one must have principles, courage, and vision.  These are the qualities that make a statesman respected. 

Why does it seem so difficult to find politicians that possess these qualities today?  One of the last great statesmen, Winston Churchill, was recorded by Richard Langworth in his book Churchill by Himself as stating: ‘How hard to build. How easy to evacuate. How hard to capture. How easy to do nothing. How hard to achieve anything. War is action, energy & hazard. These sheep only want to browse among the daisies.’

Young Winston was expressing his frustration at being replaced as Lord of the Admiralty in the middle of World War I.  Churchill proposed a risky beach landing at Gallipoli which proved to be a huge defeat for the allies, leaving 46,000 Allied troops dead and 250,000 casualties.  While many leaders ran from the ill-fated plan, Churchill took complete responsibility.  Churchill believed “the price of greatness is responsibility” so as the Lord of the Admiralty he would accept his fate.  Despite the many politicians and military leaders who supported this military action, Churchill would almost exclusively carry the blame.  Churchill would be forced from his post, and the Dardanelles Commission would be launched to hold Churchill culpable.  The Commission would go on to find that many of the problems with the Gallipoli Campaign lay with the commanding officers themselves. It was the execution of the plan that caused its failure. 

After being removed from office Churchill would accept the official rank as Captain and fight in the trenches in France. Churchill’s political courage would not be forgotten. For the rest of his life the “ghosts of Gallipoli” would haunt him as displayed by jeers from critical crowds. However, Churchill’s vision of an enormous sea to land invasion would later make the Allied invasion of Normandy possible.  His actions after the failure at Gallipoli also displayed his political courage. A courage that would be displayed time and time again.

It is difficult to imagine this scenario playing out in modern day:  a politician who accepts the blame of a policy which turned out to have flaws in its implementation;  a leader willing to go from leading an entire branch of the military to the frontlines of a World War.  Today it would seem more likely to be a plot in a movie.  We see politicians more concerned with “browsing among the daisies” than achieving something great.  We see leaders more concerned with polling and sound bites than action.  At a time where the challenges are great, we need courage, we need vision.  We need a statesman.

 

Ryan Walters teaches world history, U.S. history and government at McAlester High School in McAlester, Oklahoma. He was a finalist for the Oklahoma Teacher of the Year Competition in 2016.

 

 

 

The English Oxford Dictionary defines a statesman as “a skilled, experienced, and respected political leader or figure.”  To be viewed as a statesman one must have principles, courage, and vision.  These are the qualities that make a statesman respected. 

Why does it seem so difficult to find politicians that possess these qualities today?  One of the last great statesmen, Winston Churchill, was recorded by Richard Langworth in his book Churchill by Himself as stating: ‘How hard to build. How easy to evacuate. How hard to capture. How easy to do nothing. How hard to achieve anything. War is action, energy & hazard. These sheep only want to browse among the daisies.’

Young Winston was expressing his frustration at being replaced as Lord of the Admiralty in the middle of World War I.  Churchill proposed a risky beach landing at Gallipoli which proved to be a huge defeat for the allies, leaving 46,000 Allied troops dead and 250,000 casualties.  While many leaders ran from the ill-fated plan, Churchill took complete responsibility.  Churchill believed “the price of greatness is responsibility” so as the Lord of the Admiralty he would accept his fate.  Despite the many politicians and military leaders who supported this military action, Churchill would almost exclusively carry the blame.  Churchill would be forced from his post, and the Dardanelles Commission would be launched to hold Churchill culpable.  The Commission would go on to find that many of the problems with the Gallipoli Campaign lay with the commanding officers themselves. It was the execution of the plan that caused its failure. 

After being removed from office Churchill would accept the official rank as Captain and fight in the trenches in France. Churchill’s political courage would not be forgotten. For the rest of his life the “ghosts of Gallipoli” would haunt him as displayed by jeers from critical crowds. However, Churchill’s vision of an enormous sea to land invasion would later make the Allied invasion of Normandy possible.  His actions after the failure at Gallipoli also displayed his political courage. A courage that would be displayed time and time again.

It is difficult to imagine this scenario playing out in modern day:  a politician who accepts the blame of a policy which turned out to have flaws in its implementation;  a leader willing to go from leading an entire branch of the military to the frontlines of a World War.  Today it would seem more likely to be a plot in a movie.  We see politicians more concerned with “browsing among the daisies” than achieving something great.  We see leaders more concerned with polling and sound bites than action.  At a time where the challenges are great, we need courage, we need vision.  We need a statesman.

 

Ryan Walters teaches world history, U.S. history and government at McAlester High School in McAlester, Oklahoma. He was a finalist for the Oklahoma Teacher of the Year Competition in 2016.

 

 

 



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Pacquiao loses WBO welterweight title on points to Horn


Manny Pacquiao lost his WBO welterweight world title to Jeff Horn in a stunning, unanimous points decision in a Sunday afternoon bout billed as the Battle of Brisbane in front of more than 50,000 people.

The 11-time world champion entered the fight at Suncorp Stadium as a hot favorite but got more than he bargained for against the 29-year-old former schoolteacher.

Still, Pacquiao dominated the later rounds and the result could have gone his way.

Pacquiao’s long-time trainer Freddie Roach predicted the fight would be short and sweet but Horn — unbeaten in his 17 previous professional fights — applied pressure by winning some of the early rounds and Pacquiao needed treatment during the 6th and 7th rounds for a cut on the top of his head that resulted from a clash of heads.

The judges scored the fight 117-111, 115-113 and 115-113, with Horn immediately calling out Floyd Mayweather Jr., after the fight, declaring himself “no joke.”

Roach had said earlier in the week that he’d think about advising Pacquioa to retire if he lost the fight, but that would depend on how he fought.

Pacquiao’s camp had talked about a rematch with Mayweather if he got past Horn, hoping to avenge his loss on points in the 2015 mega fight. That seems to be a distant chance now.

Pacquiao, who entered the fight with a record of 59-6-2, 38 knockouts, was defending the WBO title he won on points against Jessie Vargas last November



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Israel's ex-PM Ehud Olmert released from prison


Israel’s Prison Service says former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has been released after serving time for corruption.

Spokesman Assaf Librati says Olmert was freed early Sunday morning.

Last week the parole board granted the 71-year-old Olmert early release from his 27-month corruption sentence.

Olmert was convicted in 2014 on charges of accepting bribes to promote a real-estate project in Jerusalem and obstructing justice. The charges pertained to a period when he was mayor of Jerusalem and trade minister before he became premier in 2006.

Olmert was a longtime fixture in Israel’s hawkish right wing when he began taking a dramatically more conciliatory line toward the Palestinians.

His imprisonment ended the last major Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts and ushered in the era of Benjamin Netanyahu in 2009.



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'Parks and Recreation' alum Natalie Morales comes out as 'queer'


In honor of Pride Month, Natalie Morales has taken a brave step.

The “Parks and Recreation” alum came out as “queer” on Friday in a touching essay posted on her former colleague, Amy Poehler’s, Smart Girls website. 

MORE: JAY-Z’s Mom, Gloria Carter, Comes Out as Lesbian in New Duet on Rapper’s Latest Album

“I’m coming out. I want the world to know,” the 32-year-old actress wrote on a tweet linking to the post.

“I am a very private person … I’m about to blow that all up. Hopefully, for a good reason.,” Morales writes in the note. “I don’t like labeling myself, or anyone else, but if it’s easier for you to understand me, what I’m saying is that I’m queer.”

MORE: Pink Shares Adorable New Photos of Son Jameson: See His Pride Month Outfit!

“What queer means to me is just simply that I’m not straight. That’s all,” she continued. “It’s not scary, even though that word used to be really, really scary to me.”

Her entire piece, which walks through her lifelong personal journey of sexuality leading to her decision to come out, can be found here.

MORE: Miley Cyrus Releases ‘Inspired’ in Honor of Pride Month — Listen!

And it’s been a big day for pride! On JAY-Z’s new album, 4:44, the rapper candidly raps about his mother’s sexuality.

“Mama had four kids, but she’s a lesbian, had to pretend so long that she’s a thespian,” the Brooklyn, New York, native rhymes on “Smile.” “Had to hide in the closet, so she medicate. Society shame and the pain was too much to take. Cried tears of joy when you fell in love. Don’t matter to me if it’s a him or her. I just want to see you smile through all the hate.”

Happy Pride Month!

EXCLUSIVE: Amy Poehler Says She’s ‘Old School’ When it Comes to Parenting: ‘I’m the Boss’



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