Day: January 12, 2018

Israel Tries Its Hand at a Travel Ban


Commenting on President Woodrow Wilson’s “long overdue ” decision to enter World War I, Winston Churchill wrote that if the president had acted earlier, it would have meant abridgement of the slaughter, sparing of the agony, and prevention of ruin and catastrophe.  Even if the parallel is not exact, Israeli authorities are acting to prevent further harm to their country by imposing a travel ban blocking members of organizations supporting BDS, the Palestinian-led boycott, divestment, and sanctions movement, from entering the country.

Mark Twain in his book Innocents Abroad wrote that travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness.  Unfortunately, as Israel has found, hostile activists can also encourage those qualities.

The travel ban implements the intention of the law passed in March 2017 that bars entry into the country by groups that actively promote anti-Israeli boycotts.  The ban is virtual recognition of the adage, “Oh, I have taken too little care of this.”  Israel has now taken the offense against those who are not simply rational critics of Israeli policies and actions, but either implicitly or explicitly refuse to acknowledge the legitimacy of the State of Israel or seek its elimination.

By banning any foreign activist who has knowingly signed a public call to boycott Israel or pledged to take part in a boycott, Israel is preventing harm to its citizens. 

On January 7, 2018, Israel issued a ban on 20 worldwide organizations, including 11 European and six U.S. groups, that are involved and active in BDS activities.  They include the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC); Code Pink; the U.S.-based Jewish Voice for Peace; the U.K.-based Palestinian Solidarity Campaign; of which Labor Party leader Jeremy Corbyn is a patron; the British group War on Want; and BDS organizations in France, Italy, Norway, and the Netherlands.

It is worth looking, if only as illustration of hypocrisy, at War on Want, an organization founded in 1951 in London as an antipoverty charity.  It supported liberation movements in Africa.  For a time, the anti-Israeli George Galloway was its general secretary; during that time, there were accounting irregularities, and reports were “materially misstated.”  In 2006, War on Want launched its Palestinian Rights movement and advocated BDS, calling for an embargo on arms to Israel.

One controversial incident resulting from this policy of banning occurred in 2016, when Isabel Phiri, a Malawian citizen living in Switzerland, the assistant general secretary of the World Council of Churches (WCC) in Geneva and former professor of African theology in South Africa, was refused a visa by Israel.  Israeli authorities maintained that she has been involved in BDS, and it was the first time a foreign national was refused for that reason.  Though the WCC has not formally called for an outright boycott against Israel, it believes that the “Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories is a tragedy for the Palestinian occupied.”

Let us be straightforward on this controversial issue.  The argument against the travel ban is that it violates freedom of expression, and of course, to some extent, this is true in a democratic country such as Israel.  The problem with this is that not only does the freedom to call for a boycott exist everywhere, but much of the expression on Israel is based on falsehood and misrepresentations and the Palestinian Narrative of Victimhood. 

Taking two examples illustrates the point.  The AFSC that won a Nobel Peace Prize in 1947 announced extravagantly on January 8, 2018 that “for 51 years Israel has denied Palestinians in the occupied territories their fundamental human rights in defiance of international law. ”  Then there is the absurdly disproportionate announcement issued on February 13, 2015 by over 100 British artists, including some well known personalities such as film directors Ken Loach and Mike Leigh, explaining their cultural boycott of Israel as based on the fact that “Palestinians have enjoyed no respite from Israel’s unrelenting attack on their land, their livelihood, their right to political existence.”

The BDS campaign calls for economic, cultural, and academic boycotts against the State of Israel and Israeli citizens.  But its real intention is not to advocate measures to alleviate the condition of Palestinians, but to implement the Palestinian campaign for the academic and cultural boycott of Israel, founded mainly by Omar Barghouti, to refuse to recognize Israel as a legitimate state. 

What is important is that boycott activity is counterproductive, against peace.  It results in increasing hatred, and as Israeli president Reuven Rivlin has remarked, it symbolizes all that stands in the way of dialogue, debate, and progress.  It is against cooperation toward a peaceful solution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

A reminder of the past may be helpful in understanding the Israel travel ban.  On November 9-10, 1938, Kristallnacht occurred in German cities, with a pogrom against Jews, involving murders; beatings; and destruction of Jewish property and businesses as well as synagogues.  At the core and the call to German citizens was a boycott of Jews in all forms.

Obviously, actions such as calling for Israel to be excluded from international oganizations such as the world soccer governing body FIFA and the insistent commands by rock star Roger Waters to fellow performers not to perform in Tel Aviv are not on a par with the Nazi Holocaust, but it would be foolish to ignore the implications of BDS.  Implicitly if not explicitly, it promotes anti-Semitism as well as tolerating terrorist activity against Israel.

It does this by not criticizing the funds that the Palestinian Authority (P.A.), through its Martyrs’ Fund, gives to terrorists in Israeli prisons or to the families of those terrorists killed by Israel.  It is encouraging that the U.S. Senate by the Taylor Force bill is considering the issue in an appropriate way.  Named after the American citizen, a former U.S. army officer and a Vanderbilt University student, murdered in March 2016 by a Palestinian terrorist in the West Bank, the Taylor Force Act, introduced in 2016, aims to stop all U.S. economic aid to the P.A. as long as it continues to pay those salaries to terrorists and families.

Israel is proposing to prevent foreign supporters of BDS from entering Israel, although ministers have the right to deny individuals entry on a case-by-case basis, as in the case of Omar Barghouti, one of the founders of BDS, who is married to an Israeli citizen of Palestinian origin.  On January 7, 2018, Israel announced it plans to establish a task force to identify the hundreds of activists already in Israel and deport or deny entry to individuals who support BDS.

The Israeli travel ban might be considered in the context of the continuing war on Jews.  It is three years since Hypercacher, the Jewish Paris supermarket, was attacked by terrorists.  Four were killed.  Coinciding with the Israeli travel ban, on January 9, 2018, an arson attack burned down a French kosher grocery store in Creteil, a suburb of Paris, and the store was completely gutted by fire.  Six days earlier, two stores in the area were targeted with paintings of swastikas.

Hatred and anti-Semitism: this is the real essence of the boycott of Israel and Jews.

Commenting on President Woodrow Wilson’s “long overdue ” decision to enter World War I, Winston Churchill wrote that if the president had acted earlier, it would have meant abridgement of the slaughter, sparing of the agony, and prevention of ruin and catastrophe.  Even if the parallel is not exact, Israeli authorities are acting to prevent further harm to their country by imposing a travel ban blocking members of organizations supporting BDS, the Palestinian-led boycott, divestment, and sanctions movement, from entering the country.

Mark Twain in his book Innocents Abroad wrote that travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness.  Unfortunately, as Israel has found, hostile activists can also encourage those qualities.

The travel ban implements the intention of the law passed in March 2017 that bars entry into the country by groups that actively promote anti-Israeli boycotts.  The ban is virtual recognition of the adage, “Oh, I have taken too little care of this.”  Israel has now taken the offense against those who are not simply rational critics of Israeli policies and actions, but either implicitly or explicitly refuse to acknowledge the legitimacy of the State of Israel or seek its elimination.

By banning any foreign activist who has knowingly signed a public call to boycott Israel or pledged to take part in a boycott, Israel is preventing harm to its citizens. 

On January 7, 2018, Israel issued a ban on 20 worldwide organizations, including 11 European and six U.S. groups, that are involved and active in BDS activities.  They include the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC); Code Pink; the U.S.-based Jewish Voice for Peace; the U.K.-based Palestinian Solidarity Campaign; of which Labor Party leader Jeremy Corbyn is a patron; the British group War on Want; and BDS organizations in France, Italy, Norway, and the Netherlands.

It is worth looking, if only as illustration of hypocrisy, at War on Want, an organization founded in 1951 in London as an antipoverty charity.  It supported liberation movements in Africa.  For a time, the anti-Israeli George Galloway was its general secretary; during that time, there were accounting irregularities, and reports were “materially misstated.”  In 2006, War on Want launched its Palestinian Rights movement and advocated BDS, calling for an embargo on arms to Israel.

One controversial incident resulting from this policy of banning occurred in 2016, when Isabel Phiri, a Malawian citizen living in Switzerland, the assistant general secretary of the World Council of Churches (WCC) in Geneva and former professor of African theology in South Africa, was refused a visa by Israel.  Israeli authorities maintained that she has been involved in BDS, and it was the first time a foreign national was refused for that reason.  Though the WCC has not formally called for an outright boycott against Israel, it believes that the “Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories is a tragedy for the Palestinian occupied.”

Let us be straightforward on this controversial issue.  The argument against the travel ban is that it violates freedom of expression, and of course, to some extent, this is true in a democratic country such as Israel.  The problem with this is that not only does the freedom to call for a boycott exist everywhere, but much of the expression on Israel is based on falsehood and misrepresentations and the Palestinian Narrative of Victimhood. 

Taking two examples illustrates the point.  The AFSC that won a Nobel Peace Prize in 1947 announced extravagantly on January 8, 2018 that “for 51 years Israel has denied Palestinians in the occupied territories their fundamental human rights in defiance of international law. ”  Then there is the absurdly disproportionate announcement issued on February 13, 2015 by over 100 British artists, including some well known personalities such as film directors Ken Loach and Mike Leigh, explaining their cultural boycott of Israel as based on the fact that “Palestinians have enjoyed no respite from Israel’s unrelenting attack on their land, their livelihood, their right to political existence.”

The BDS campaign calls for economic, cultural, and academic boycotts against the State of Israel and Israeli citizens.  But its real intention is not to advocate measures to alleviate the condition of Palestinians, but to implement the Palestinian campaign for the academic and cultural boycott of Israel, founded mainly by Omar Barghouti, to refuse to recognize Israel as a legitimate state. 

What is important is that boycott activity is counterproductive, against peace.  It results in increasing hatred, and as Israeli president Reuven Rivlin has remarked, it symbolizes all that stands in the way of dialogue, debate, and progress.  It is against cooperation toward a peaceful solution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

A reminder of the past may be helpful in understanding the Israel travel ban.  On November 9-10, 1938, Kristallnacht occurred in German cities, with a pogrom against Jews, involving murders; beatings; and destruction of Jewish property and businesses as well as synagogues.  At the core and the call to German citizens was a boycott of Jews in all forms.

Obviously, actions such as calling for Israel to be excluded from international oganizations such as the world soccer governing body FIFA and the insistent commands by rock star Roger Waters to fellow performers not to perform in Tel Aviv are not on a par with the Nazi Holocaust, but it would be foolish to ignore the implications of BDS.  Implicitly if not explicitly, it promotes anti-Semitism as well as tolerating terrorist activity against Israel.

It does this by not criticizing the funds that the Palestinian Authority (P.A.), through its Martyrs’ Fund, gives to terrorists in Israeli prisons or to the families of those terrorists killed by Israel.  It is encouraging that the U.S. Senate by the Taylor Force bill is considering the issue in an appropriate way.  Named after the American citizen, a former U.S. army officer and a Vanderbilt University student, murdered in March 2016 by a Palestinian terrorist in the West Bank, the Taylor Force Act, introduced in 2016, aims to stop all U.S. economic aid to the P.A. as long as it continues to pay those salaries to terrorists and families.

Israel is proposing to prevent foreign supporters of BDS from entering Israel, although ministers have the right to deny individuals entry on a case-by-case basis, as in the case of Omar Barghouti, one of the founders of BDS, who is married to an Israeli citizen of Palestinian origin.  On January 7, 2018, Israel announced it plans to establish a task force to identify the hundreds of activists already in Israel and deport or deny entry to individuals who support BDS.

The Israeli travel ban might be considered in the context of the continuing war on Jews.  It is three years since Hypercacher, the Jewish Paris supermarket, was attacked by terrorists.  Four were killed.  Coinciding with the Israeli travel ban, on January 9, 2018, an arson attack burned down a French kosher grocery store in Creteil, a suburb of Paris, and the store was completely gutted by fire.  Six days earlier, two stores in the area were targeted with paintings of swastikas.

Hatred and anti-Semitism: this is the real essence of the boycott of Israel and Jews.



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Soros and the Exploitation of Women


George Soros, 86-year-old multibillionaire hedge fund-operator, is famous around the world for promoting far-left causes.  Or, as his website puts it, he is “a prominent international supporter of democratic ideals and causes for more than 30 years.”  His “philanthropic organization, the Open Society Foundations (OSF), supports democracy and human rights in more than 100 countries.”

To date, Soros has given away close to $14 billion to various leftist “progressive” causes.  He works for the decriminalization of both prostitution and drugs and helped kick-start America’s medical marijuana movement, was an early proponent and major funder of the initiative to redefine marriage, underwrites numerous leftist think-tanks, and works assiduously for left-wing policy changes.  OSF has nearly fifty offices around the world and more than 1,600 full-time staff members who are activists in numerous arenas, with particular attention to judicial decisions and supporting far-left judicial candidates.  Soros recently gave $18 billion to OSF, establishing one of the richest foundation endowments ever and guaranteeing that his work will continue after he is gone.

One of his less publicized causes is “helping sex workers.”  He promotes the idea that decriminalization of prostitution would remove the stigma, social exclusion, violence, and fear of violence associated with the sex trade industry.  Now, thanks to Jody Raphael, DePaul University College of Law, in an article for Dignity: A Journal on Sexual Exploitation and Violence (I serve on the editorial board), we have an accounting of Soros’ support for the full decriminalization of the sex trade industry, long an issue for utopians who think making it legal to exploit women will somehow “free” them from their pimps and the criminal networks who make millions by trafficking and exploiting women.  Raphael’s Dignity article is 24 pages of careful research with eight pages of references.  For instance, she reports that in 2015, OSF published two reports, “10 Reasons to Decriminalize Sex Work” and “Understanding Sex Work.”  Experts panned both as simplistic and criticized them for misreading the research and downplaying the inherent coercion, violence, and abuse of the industry.

As I noted when I debated this issue at the Oxford Union Debates, the first clue that decriminalization will not help prostituted women is that the pimps and criminal networks enthusiastically support the effort!  The pimps know that decriminalization will make their exploitation easier and more profitable.  Decriminalization will enable them to “explain” to vulnerable girls and women that what they want the girls to do is perfectly legal, strengthening the coercive potential.

More significantly, decriminalization does not work.  As I have written and as research clearly reveals, the truth is that everywhere prostitution has been legalized or decriminalized, illegal prostitution has increased dramatically, along with corruption, sex-trafficking, the drug trade, and other undesirable and criminal activities.  This is true in Australia, where illegal brothels increased 300 percent; in New Zealand, which considers itself a model for the rest of the world; and in the Netherlands, which neighboring countries call a “failed experiment.”

The real tragedy, though, is that pimps control and reap the profits from 80-95 percent of all forms of prostitution.  No wonder most prostitutes (90 percent) desperately want out.  One study found that 80 percent of prostituted girls and women were assaulted by their pimps, and over one third received death threats against themselves or their families.  A majority of the girls and women end up drug-addicted, bruised, and battered; they get older, worn out, infected with STDs, and used up.

When advocates wax eloquent about the career option of prostitution, they fail to mention that nearly 70 percent of those in prostitution enter before age 16 – hardly old enough to make a reasoned choice of life direction.  In the U.S., the age of entry is typically 12 years old!  In fact, legalization creates a greater demand for younger girls, who are thought by clients to be less likely to have an infectious disease.  Legalization throws open the floodgates for child prostitution.

As is typical of the savvy George Soros, he gives relatively little directly to the grassroots sex worker groups, where the impact would be local and limited.  Instead, the Open Society Foundation gives huge grants to large, international groups with broad, international influence.  As the Dignity article shows, there is sympathy between the groups: the think-tanks produce slanted “research” that is then publicized and popularized by the grassroots organizations.  Media are full of advocates promoting decriminalization of prostitution, claiming that it will eliminate HIV or prevent trafficking.  Raphael tracks the money to find that many of the advocates are funded by Soros’s OSF.  In effect, Soros has created an “alternate universe about the sex trade industry that ignores known facts.”  In that “alternate universe,” trafficking is understated, girls and women are represented as voluntarily choosing prostitution, and problems – such as coercion, abuse, and violence – are not inherent, but are caused by law enforcement and security personal at shelters.  Conclusion: There are no ill effects in prostituting women; the problems come from enforcing the laws.

Raphael’s research covers the links between OSF and the Gates Foundation; faults in The Lancet research on decriminalization; and the lack of evidence that OSF knows about major research on problems faced by New Zealand, Australia (Victoria), Germany, and Nevada.  Instead, Raphael shows how that evidence is ignored in favor of an “alternate reality based on conclusions that rest on unproven assumptions.”  Then, millions of dollars are spent promoting that “alternate reality” throughout the world.  Soros has identified ten “anchors” that are “effective proxies” and thus received major institutional funding.  These organizations publish each other’s reports and help expand each other’s influence.  Human Rights Watch, an OSF anchor, receives a basic $10 million annually for operating expenses, plus funding for special projects.  Others among the top ten include the Center for American Progress, the NAACP, and the ACLU.

Sadly, as Dignity reports:

OSF’s rationale for full decriminalization fails to consider violence and coercion in the sex trade industry, misreads research, and does not include research from venues where full decriminalization of prostitution has occurred.  Thus, OSF and its grantees have created a partial view on prostitution that they advocate to the public.  Those concerned with trafficking for sexual exploitation, violence, coercion, and abuse in prostitution should be cognizant of these strategies used by decriminalization advocates funded by OSF and be prepared to point out the unsupported assumptions and meet OSF’s allegations with proven facts.

Raphael concludes that Soros’s prostitution policies have become the vision of many of the major nongovernmental human rights organizations.  Raphael shows how this vision has permeated even the DOJ, and how philanthropists escape public influence over their activities.  She quotes one professor who maintains, “Quite literally, every American who pays taxes today is subsidizing the attempt of fabulously rich people to dominate our public policy.”

We’ve long recognized that the war against pimps and traffickers is the slavery issue of our time.  The pimp culture – so glorified in the entertainment industry – corrupts societies around the world and ruins the lives of countless young people.  Now we understand that funding exists to empower organizations to promote an alternate reality about prostitution.  Those who truly want to help girls and women will avoid the simplistic, utopian ideology of decriminalization of prostitution and, instead, join the abolition movement of today – end the demand – in order to end the scourge of modern-day sex slavery.

Janice Shaw Crouse received the “Abolitionist Award” from the George W. Bush State Department.  She helped write and lobby for the original legislation and subsequent reauthorizations of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act.  She has authored white papers, presented testimony before Congress, written briefs, and written dozens of articles on human trafficking.  She serves as a senior adviser to the Demand Abolition Coalition and is on the editorial board of Dignity: A Journal on Sexual Exploitation and Violence.

George Soros, 86-year-old multibillionaire hedge fund-operator, is famous around the world for promoting far-left causes.  Or, as his website puts it, he is “a prominent international supporter of democratic ideals and causes for more than 30 years.”  His “philanthropic organization, the Open Society Foundations (OSF), supports democracy and human rights in more than 100 countries.”

To date, Soros has given away close to $14 billion to various leftist “progressive” causes.  He works for the decriminalization of both prostitution and drugs and helped kick-start America’s medical marijuana movement, was an early proponent and major funder of the initiative to redefine marriage, underwrites numerous leftist think-tanks, and works assiduously for left-wing policy changes.  OSF has nearly fifty offices around the world and more than 1,600 full-time staff members who are activists in numerous arenas, with particular attention to judicial decisions and supporting far-left judicial candidates.  Soros recently gave $18 billion to OSF, establishing one of the richest foundation endowments ever and guaranteeing that his work will continue after he is gone.

One of his less publicized causes is “helping sex workers.”  He promotes the idea that decriminalization of prostitution would remove the stigma, social exclusion, violence, and fear of violence associated with the sex trade industry.  Now, thanks to Jody Raphael, DePaul University College of Law, in an article for Dignity: A Journal on Sexual Exploitation and Violence (I serve on the editorial board), we have an accounting of Soros’ support for the full decriminalization of the sex trade industry, long an issue for utopians who think making it legal to exploit women will somehow “free” them from their pimps and the criminal networks who make millions by trafficking and exploiting women.  Raphael’s Dignity article is 24 pages of careful research with eight pages of references.  For instance, she reports that in 2015, OSF published two reports, “10 Reasons to Decriminalize Sex Work” and “Understanding Sex Work.”  Experts panned both as simplistic and criticized them for misreading the research and downplaying the inherent coercion, violence, and abuse of the industry.

As I noted when I debated this issue at the Oxford Union Debates, the first clue that decriminalization will not help prostituted women is that the pimps and criminal networks enthusiastically support the effort!  The pimps know that decriminalization will make their exploitation easier and more profitable.  Decriminalization will enable them to “explain” to vulnerable girls and women that what they want the girls to do is perfectly legal, strengthening the coercive potential.

More significantly, decriminalization does not work.  As I have written and as research clearly reveals, the truth is that everywhere prostitution has been legalized or decriminalized, illegal prostitution has increased dramatically, along with corruption, sex-trafficking, the drug trade, and other undesirable and criminal activities.  This is true in Australia, where illegal brothels increased 300 percent; in New Zealand, which considers itself a model for the rest of the world; and in the Netherlands, which neighboring countries call a “failed experiment.”

The real tragedy, though, is that pimps control and reap the profits from 80-95 percent of all forms of prostitution.  No wonder most prostitutes (90 percent) desperately want out.  One study found that 80 percent of prostituted girls and women were assaulted by their pimps, and over one third received death threats against themselves or their families.  A majority of the girls and women end up drug-addicted, bruised, and battered; they get older, worn out, infected with STDs, and used up.

When advocates wax eloquent about the career option of prostitution, they fail to mention that nearly 70 percent of those in prostitution enter before age 16 – hardly old enough to make a reasoned choice of life direction.  In the U.S., the age of entry is typically 12 years old!  In fact, legalization creates a greater demand for younger girls, who are thought by clients to be less likely to have an infectious disease.  Legalization throws open the floodgates for child prostitution.

As is typical of the savvy George Soros, he gives relatively little directly to the grassroots sex worker groups, where the impact would be local and limited.  Instead, the Open Society Foundation gives huge grants to large, international groups with broad, international influence.  As the Dignity article shows, there is sympathy between the groups: the think-tanks produce slanted “research” that is then publicized and popularized by the grassroots organizations.  Media are full of advocates promoting decriminalization of prostitution, claiming that it will eliminate HIV or prevent trafficking.  Raphael tracks the money to find that many of the advocates are funded by Soros’s OSF.  In effect, Soros has created an “alternate universe about the sex trade industry that ignores known facts.”  In that “alternate universe,” trafficking is understated, girls and women are represented as voluntarily choosing prostitution, and problems – such as coercion, abuse, and violence – are not inherent, but are caused by law enforcement and security personal at shelters.  Conclusion: There are no ill effects in prostituting women; the problems come from enforcing the laws.

Raphael’s research covers the links between OSF and the Gates Foundation; faults in The Lancet research on decriminalization; and the lack of evidence that OSF knows about major research on problems faced by New Zealand, Australia (Victoria), Germany, and Nevada.  Instead, Raphael shows how that evidence is ignored in favor of an “alternate reality based on conclusions that rest on unproven assumptions.”  Then, millions of dollars are spent promoting that “alternate reality” throughout the world.  Soros has identified ten “anchors” that are “effective proxies” and thus received major institutional funding.  These organizations publish each other’s reports and help expand each other’s influence.  Human Rights Watch, an OSF anchor, receives a basic $10 million annually for operating expenses, plus funding for special projects.  Others among the top ten include the Center for American Progress, the NAACP, and the ACLU.

Sadly, as Dignity reports:

OSF’s rationale for full decriminalization fails to consider violence and coercion in the sex trade industry, misreads research, and does not include research from venues where full decriminalization of prostitution has occurred.  Thus, OSF and its grantees have created a partial view on prostitution that they advocate to the public.  Those concerned with trafficking for sexual exploitation, violence, coercion, and abuse in prostitution should be cognizant of these strategies used by decriminalization advocates funded by OSF and be prepared to point out the unsupported assumptions and meet OSF’s allegations with proven facts.

Raphael concludes that Soros’s prostitution policies have become the vision of many of the major nongovernmental human rights organizations.  Raphael shows how this vision has permeated even the DOJ, and how philanthropists escape public influence over their activities.  She quotes one professor who maintains, “Quite literally, every American who pays taxes today is subsidizing the attempt of fabulously rich people to dominate our public policy.”

We’ve long recognized that the war against pimps and traffickers is the slavery issue of our time.  The pimp culture – so glorified in the entertainment industry – corrupts societies around the world and ruins the lives of countless young people.  Now we understand that funding exists to empower organizations to promote an alternate reality about prostitution.  Those who truly want to help girls and women will avoid the simplistic, utopian ideology of decriminalization of prostitution and, instead, join the abolition movement of today – end the demand – in order to end the scourge of modern-day sex slavery.

Janice Shaw Crouse received the “Abolitionist Award” from the George W. Bush State Department.  She helped write and lobby for the original legislation and subsequent reauthorizations of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act.  She has authored white papers, presented testimony before Congress, written briefs, and written dozens of articles on human trafficking.  She serves as a senior adviser to the Demand Abolition Coalition and is on the editorial board of Dignity: A Journal on Sexual Exploitation and Violence.



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Fusion GPS Gets a Rude Awakening


In the wake of the ruling, Fusion’s lawyer vowed to keep fighting, but the transfer since then of the 70 documents at issue mooted any possible appeal.  While the dispute is now resolved, in an age of “notional accuracy” in reporting, Judge Leon’s decision bears emphasis.  For a refreshing change of pace, it stands as a mini-case study in the fecklessness of flash.  It is a little jewel of a decision in a grand tiara of legal maneuverings that sparkles with the value of nerdy lawyering over media-driven cant.

Which chronically retold lies or misunderstandings caused Fusion’s fall last week from the constitutional-defensive moral high ground it took in protesting the handing over of its bank records with clients who, according to the House Intel Committee, had Russian companies as their clients?  They are simple.  They relate to the original formation of the House Intel Committee’s probe into Russian collusion, as well as of the House Ethics Committee’s investigation of committee chairman Representative Devin Nunes.

The latter ethics investigation was brought last April in response to accusations filed against Nunes by “several left-wing activist groups” with the Office of Congressional Ethics.  The complaints, of which Nunes has since been cleared, alleged that he had made unauthorized disclosures of classified information.  These related to his briefing of the White House and press, before he spoke to the committee, about certain documents provided to him by administration officials purporting to show evidence of questionable unmasking by Obama administration officials.  In response, Nunes volunteered to temporarily relinquish the running of the Russian investigation.

Afterward, he stepped away, as promised.  But in the months that followed, Dems complained that the Republican-dominated committee probe was tainted, despite Nunes’s “recusal,” due to his continuing interference in the investigation.  What was the nature of this interference?  He continued to issue subpoenas on tributary matters – for instance, those relating to emerging new reporting on the Uranium One deal.  All this happened before the showdown last week over the Fusion subpoena, but what is noteworthy is that the motion attempting to block the subpoena reprised Democrats’ version of committee events.

Indeed, Fusion swallowed whole the Dems’ negative propaganda from last spring in its effort to thwart the committee’s examination of its financial transactions.  Specifically, it contended in its motion to the district court that the committee never collectively passed the required formal public resolution authorizing its investigation into Russian collusion.  Further, since Nunes had “recused” himself from the investigation, such as it was, in issuing the subpoena to TD Bank, he acted ultra vires, or “outside the scope of his authority.”

Now, compare this legal theory to the exact wording of Nunes’s April 2017 announcement of his stepping aside in the wake of the then newly filed ethics charges:

Despite the baselessness of the charges, I believe [that] it is in the best interests of the House Intelligence Committee and the Congress for me to have Rep. Mike Conaway, with assistance from Reps. Trey Gowdy and Tom Rooney, temporarily take charge of the committee’s Russia investigation while the House Ethics Committee looks into this matter.

And then this all-important fillip:

I will continue to fulfill all of my other responsibilities as [c]ommittee [c]hairman, and I am requesting to speak to the Ethics Committee at the earliest possible opportunity in order to expedite the dismissal of these false claims.

That is exactly what happened.  But as already mentioned, the Dems, and in particular California’s Rep. Adam Schiff, continued to assert that Chairman Nunes (a) recused himself from the committee’s probe and (b) continued to “disrupt” the committee’s work by “issuing subpoenas on his own,” though he had relinquished his authority as committee chairman.  Both of these characterizations were expressly wrong, based on the exact wording above of Nunes’s public announcement – wording, it turns out, that was not in the least haphazard or empty political-speak, but rather a precise roadmap of the powers Nunes would retain.

But this was not spelled out – until last week.  Without apology, Nunes continued to issue subpoenas, including a new and more expansive one to Fusion based on the news that had been emerging in the press in the months since the committee had begun investigating.  When this hit home, Fusion regurgitated the Dems’ misstatements to the court.  The catch was that such allegations must be referred to and compared against the set of rules governing the matter to which they relate.

This, Judge Leon pointed out, could be found in the rules of the House of Representatives, which devolve authority, including subpoena authority, upon each committee to set its own rules over the areas over which it has oversight.  Since the House Intel Committee’s responsibilities include oversight of “the activities of the intelligence community,” its own committee rules controlled.  These, in turn, plainly required two things: first, for the formation of any investigation, the approval of the chairman and the ranking minority member, and second, for the exercise of the subpoena power, the authorization and signature of the chair.

It now becomes obvious why Nunes formulated his temporary absence from the investigation the way he did.  By specifically not recusing himself, and by explicitly retaining the chairmanship, he ensured in one fell swoop the retroactive validity of the formation of the investigation and its continuing subpoena issuances.  Since the ranking minority member was Adam Schiff, who at the time of the investigation formation was calling for blood, both the chairman and the ranking minority member were on record as proffering the required approval.  And by issuing subpoenas in his capacity as chair (from which he had not recused himself), Nunes guaranteed the enforceability of the committee’s subpoenas, a status they would not have had if he had allowed himself to be cowed.

Why and how Fusion thought it could convince a judge of Nunes’s lack of authority to issue the contested Fusion subpoena is a bit of a wonder.  A good guess is that it never read the pertinent sets of black-letter rules.  Either that or the principals were so smitten with their role in the grand scheme of all things Russian that they brought this action without fully grasping that the rules actually matter.  On the contrary, the rules, like the public record of Nunes’s completely kosher temporary abdication, not only mattered, but were dispositive.  As Judge Leon wrote in his ruling, “[i]ndeed, the Subpoena would be invalid without Chairman Nunes’s signature[.]”

It is also conceivable that Fusion’s motion, with its easily dispatched grounds for a preliminary injunction, was just part of a larger stonewalling pattern that is only now coming to an end.  If so, a pattern within the pattern of delay and obfuscation recently noted by Chairman Nunes in a letter to Rod Rosenstein regarding the DOJ and FBI is suggested here, where shopworn legal theories seemed to have been recycled from the Trump administration’s enemies.  But he who laughs last…  And it is surely worth a guffaw or two that Fusion’s last argument, that its “confidential client relationships” would be leaked by the committee, thereby violating its First Amendment freedom of association, was rejected by the court on the basis that Fusion had no proof that the committee was responsible for past leaks.

A final word about Fusion’s First Amendment and due process claims.  These are noteworthy because the defense of “privilege” was raised repeatedly during Glenn Simpson’s compelled testimony, the transcript of which was just released by Senate Judiciary Committee member Dianne Feinstein.  (See in particular here and here.)  Again, Judge Leon made mincemeat out of this prong of the preliminary injunction motion asserting that the subpoena was impermissibly broad.  He cited a completely different and harder to meet standard applicable to judicial review of congressional investigations (versus general subpoenas) than was cited in Fusion’s letter to Senator Grassley erecting its First Amendment and due process bulwark.  According to the judge, the committee had more than established the required nexus.

As for Fusion’s related assertion that it had the First Amendment freedom-of-association right to protect its client list, Judge Leon blew this away with his own line of cases.  These distinguished among political, economic, religious, and cultural groups like the NAACP, who are entitled to First Amendment privacy, and the vendors that transact with groups, who are not.  So much for Fusion’s “privilege.”  (The released Simpson testimony raises separate questions about whether Fusion internally treated the subpoenaed information confidentially, but that did not come up.)

One thing is for certain: now clarity has been reasserted.  Even so, congressional Dems will continue to insist that Nunes “recused” himself and is obstructing the Russian collusion investigation.  That’s about as correct as the Washington Post piece, published five days before Judge Leon’s decision, confidently prognosticating that Nunes’s investigation of Fusion was “destined” to remain tied up in court.  Does anyone in the MSM ever admit when he is wrong?

Note to Fusion GPS: If you’re going to mouth off to the media and ignore the public record, you’d better be prepared to have your confidential documents subpoenaed.

That’s the takeaway from last week’s ruling by Judge Richard J. Leon, district court judge from the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, denying Fusion GPS’s request for a preliminary injunction against TD Bank.  The injunction would have stopped the bank from complying with a subpoena for bank documents served by the House Intelligence Committee relating to the oppo research firm’s financial transactions with media and political clients from the period coinciding with its retention of Christopher Steele to compile the Russian dossier.  The judge rejected the firm’s arguments, in no small part because grandstanding by its principals and by prominent Democrats directly contradicted the firm’s claims to be a victim of First Amendment and due process violations.

In the wake of the ruling, Fusion’s lawyer vowed to keep fighting, but the transfer since then of the 70 documents at issue mooted any possible appeal.  While the dispute is now resolved, in an age of “notional accuracy” in reporting, Judge Leon’s decision bears emphasis.  For a refreshing change of pace, it stands as a mini-case study in the fecklessness of flash.  It is a little jewel of a decision in a grand tiara of legal maneuverings that sparkles with the value of nerdy lawyering over media-driven cant.

Which chronically retold lies or misunderstandings caused Fusion’s fall last week from the constitutional-defensive moral high ground it took in protesting the handing over of its bank records with clients who, according to the House Intel Committee, had Russian companies as their clients?  They are simple.  They relate to the original formation of the House Intel Committee’s probe into Russian collusion, as well as of the House Ethics Committee’s investigation of committee chairman Representative Devin Nunes.

The latter ethics investigation was brought last April in response to accusations filed against Nunes by “several left-wing activist groups” with the Office of Congressional Ethics.  The complaints, of which Nunes has since been cleared, alleged that he had made unauthorized disclosures of classified information.  These related to his briefing of the White House and press, before he spoke to the committee, about certain documents provided to him by administration officials purporting to show evidence of questionable unmasking by Obama administration officials.  In response, Nunes volunteered to temporarily relinquish the running of the Russian investigation.

Afterward, he stepped away, as promised.  But in the months that followed, Dems complained that the Republican-dominated committee probe was tainted, despite Nunes’s “recusal,” due to his continuing interference in the investigation.  What was the nature of this interference?  He continued to issue subpoenas on tributary matters – for instance, those relating to emerging new reporting on the Uranium One deal.  All this happened before the showdown last week over the Fusion subpoena, but what is noteworthy is that the motion attempting to block the subpoena reprised Democrats’ version of committee events.

Indeed, Fusion swallowed whole the Dems’ negative propaganda from last spring in its effort to thwart the committee’s examination of its financial transactions.  Specifically, it contended in its motion to the district court that the committee never collectively passed the required formal public resolution authorizing its investigation into Russian collusion.  Further, since Nunes had “recused” himself from the investigation, such as it was, in issuing the subpoena to TD Bank, he acted ultra vires, or “outside the scope of his authority.”

Now, compare this legal theory to the exact wording of Nunes’s April 2017 announcement of his stepping aside in the wake of the then newly filed ethics charges:

Despite the baselessness of the charges, I believe [that] it is in the best interests of the House Intelligence Committee and the Congress for me to have Rep. Mike Conaway, with assistance from Reps. Trey Gowdy and Tom Rooney, temporarily take charge of the committee’s Russia investigation while the House Ethics Committee looks into this matter.

And then this all-important fillip:

I will continue to fulfill all of my other responsibilities as [c]ommittee [c]hairman, and I am requesting to speak to the Ethics Committee at the earliest possible opportunity in order to expedite the dismissal of these false claims.

That is exactly what happened.  But as already mentioned, the Dems, and in particular California’s Rep. Adam Schiff, continued to assert that Chairman Nunes (a) recused himself from the committee’s probe and (b) continued to “disrupt” the committee’s work by “issuing subpoenas on his own,” though he had relinquished his authority as committee chairman.  Both of these characterizations were expressly wrong, based on the exact wording above of Nunes’s public announcement – wording, it turns out, that was not in the least haphazard or empty political-speak, but rather a precise roadmap of the powers Nunes would retain.

But this was not spelled out – until last week.  Without apology, Nunes continued to issue subpoenas, including a new and more expansive one to Fusion based on the news that had been emerging in the press in the months since the committee had begun investigating.  When this hit home, Fusion regurgitated the Dems’ misstatements to the court.  The catch was that such allegations must be referred to and compared against the set of rules governing the matter to which they relate.

This, Judge Leon pointed out, could be found in the rules of the House of Representatives, which devolve authority, including subpoena authority, upon each committee to set its own rules over the areas over which it has oversight.  Since the House Intel Committee’s responsibilities include oversight of “the activities of the intelligence community,” its own committee rules controlled.  These, in turn, plainly required two things: first, for the formation of any investigation, the approval of the chairman and the ranking minority member, and second, for the exercise of the subpoena power, the authorization and signature of the chair.

It now becomes obvious why Nunes formulated his temporary absence from the investigation the way he did.  By specifically not recusing himself, and by explicitly retaining the chairmanship, he ensured in one fell swoop the retroactive validity of the formation of the investigation and its continuing subpoena issuances.  Since the ranking minority member was Adam Schiff, who at the time of the investigation formation was calling for blood, both the chairman and the ranking minority member were on record as proffering the required approval.  And by issuing subpoenas in his capacity as chair (from which he had not recused himself), Nunes guaranteed the enforceability of the committee’s subpoenas, a status they would not have had if he had allowed himself to be cowed.

Why and how Fusion thought it could convince a judge of Nunes’s lack of authority to issue the contested Fusion subpoena is a bit of a wonder.  A good guess is that it never read the pertinent sets of black-letter rules.  Either that or the principals were so smitten with their role in the grand scheme of all things Russian that they brought this action without fully grasping that the rules actually matter.  On the contrary, the rules, like the public record of Nunes’s completely kosher temporary abdication, not only mattered, but were dispositive.  As Judge Leon wrote in his ruling, “[i]ndeed, the Subpoena would be invalid without Chairman Nunes’s signature[.]”

It is also conceivable that Fusion’s motion, with its easily dispatched grounds for a preliminary injunction, was just part of a larger stonewalling pattern that is only now coming to an end.  If so, a pattern within the pattern of delay and obfuscation recently noted by Chairman Nunes in a letter to Rod Rosenstein regarding the DOJ and FBI is suggested here, where shopworn legal theories seemed to have been recycled from the Trump administration’s enemies.  But he who laughs last…  And it is surely worth a guffaw or two that Fusion’s last argument, that its “confidential client relationships” would be leaked by the committee, thereby violating its First Amendment freedom of association, was rejected by the court on the basis that Fusion had no proof that the committee was responsible for past leaks.

A final word about Fusion’s First Amendment and due process claims.  These are noteworthy because the defense of “privilege” was raised repeatedly during Glenn Simpson’s compelled testimony, the transcript of which was just released by Senate Judiciary Committee member Dianne Feinstein.  (See in particular here and here.)  Again, Judge Leon made mincemeat out of this prong of the preliminary injunction motion asserting that the subpoena was impermissibly broad.  He cited a completely different and harder to meet standard applicable to judicial review of congressional investigations (versus general subpoenas) than was cited in Fusion’s letter to Senator Grassley erecting its First Amendment and due process bulwark.  According to the judge, the committee had more than established the required nexus.

As for Fusion’s related assertion that it had the First Amendment freedom-of-association right to protect its client list, Judge Leon blew this away with his own line of cases.  These distinguished among political, economic, religious, and cultural groups like the NAACP, who are entitled to First Amendment privacy, and the vendors that transact with groups, who are not.  So much for Fusion’s “privilege.”  (The released Simpson testimony raises separate questions about whether Fusion internally treated the subpoenaed information confidentially, but that did not come up.)

One thing is for certain: now clarity has been reasserted.  Even so, congressional Dems will continue to insist that Nunes “recused” himself and is obstructing the Russian collusion investigation.  That’s about as correct as the Washington Post piece, published five days before Judge Leon’s decision, confidently prognosticating that Nunes’s investigation of Fusion was “destined” to remain tied up in court.  Does anyone in the MSM ever admit when he is wrong?



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Fire and Fury: Wolff's Gossip Tome No More than Smoke and Mirrors


The Fire and Fury tell-all tabloid currently flying off bookshelves is nothing more than smoke and mirrors, an illusion that relies upon the confirmation biases of President Donald Trump’s most enduring critics.  Muckraker Michael Wolff stands to become fabulously wealthy by simply rehashing the most salacious and unconfirmed rumors to dog the Republican outsider since he unexpectedly ascended to the White House one year ago.

Repeat a lie often enough, and it becomes synonymous with the truth.  “The 322 pages don’t provide a lot of ‘new’ news,” notes Los Angeles Times columnist Jackie Calmes, before arguing that “the picture of mayhem is mostly familiar to readers who have followed the daily reporting of White House correspondents.”

In the case of the president’s mental fitness, gossip gradually turned to gospel as Democrats recycled duplicitous allegations that should have died soon after Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein first advanced this narrative on the campaign trail.

“You know, I don’t pretend to be able to do TV diagnosis,” offered Stein, a Harvard-educated internist, before doing exactly that.  “But I think the guy has a problem.”

After the election, a third-party candidate’s desperate plea for attention became a partisan plot embraced by the left as a precursor to a DNC Plan B: a psychiatric coup based on the 25th Amendment.  MSNBC Morning Joe co-host Joe Scarborough was soon comparing the president’s “confused mental state” to his own mother’s chronic dementia before warning later that “we are headed towards [sic] a nuclear showdown.”

The New York Times, The Washington Post, and the New York Daily News all agreed: Trump is a “madman” who will kill us all.  Ultimately, it did not matter that the House voted overwhelmingly to table a resolution to impeach the president last month in the same way that the veracity of Wolff’s reporting is inconsequential – the damage from their Democrat spitballing is done.

With the authority of an Oval Office insider, Wolff gave credence to not just these charges of insanity, but the entire collection of recurring Beltway scuttlebutt on the president.  From White House sleeping arrangements to the president’s gluttonous obsession with McDonald’s, the Hollywood Reporter columnist succeeded in convincing readers that information acquired from Trojan Horse reporting came straight from the horse’s mouth.

Calmes calls this rumor restoration “the power that comes from tying together in one place the dizzying events of Trump’s initial year plus [Wolff’s] ability to write – as his subtitle proclaims – that his account comes from ‘Inside the Trump White House.'”  By virtue of having parked his rear end on a West Wing sofa for many months, Wolff validated every progressive conspiracy theory from 2017 and adapted these fantasies into a single pretentious potboiler that is as fallible as it is unoriginal.

These documented distortions are precisely what Trump’s detractors want to hear: regurgitated politics-porn supported by journalism practices that were previously acceptable only when writing about sensitive national security secrets.  The use of multiple anonymous sources to substantiate particularly licentious gossip started with the Russian collusion delusion and was sloppily adopted to provide a veneer of legitimacy to Wolff’s own sell-all.

By virtue of his propensity to embellish the truth, the liberal media establishment argues that Trump invited his own character assassination.  A Washington Post piece by senior reporter Aaron Blake exposes the factual inconsistencies of Fire and Fury before concluding that “this is the tell-all that Trump’s post-truth presidency deserves.”

In other words, Trump had it coming.  Ten pages into Wolff’s revisionist saga, the professional gossip-monger admits that his chronicle is built upon lies.  “Many of the accounts of what has happened in the Trump White House are in conflict with one another; many, in Trumpian fashion, are baldly untrue.”

Similarly, New York Times White House correspondent Maggie Haberman tweeted that “even if some things are inaccurate/flat-out false, there’s enough notionally accurate that people have difficulty knocking it down.”  The use of terminology like “notionally accurate” is anti-Trump-speak for confirming the left’s inherent suspicions without actually presenting any proof to support them.

The mainstream press is determined to treat Fire and Fury like the infamous Christopher Steele dossier.  Progressives contend that the merits of this Clinton-funded hit piece should not be challenged just because of one unsubstantiated story about prostitutes, a hotel bedroom, and a “golden shower.”

Nearly one year from the first leak of this document, a Newsweek headline asks, “Is the Trump ‘Pee Tape’ Dossier True?,” demonstrating how even the boldest mistruths are slow to die.  Wolff’s rumor-mongering is cut from the same cloth as Russiagate

Wolff’s fiction has already produced dividends for the left, turning mainstream news cycles into a never-ending psychoanalysis of the POTUS.  In Western Europe, where an apology tour-averse President Trump has never been popular, Europeans woke up to front-page headlines questioning the sanity of the leader of the free world the day following Wolff’s pre-emptive publication.  Even a media outlet from the tiny archipelago of Tonga is trending in the U.S. by asking, “Can Trump prove his sanity,” as if the onus is on the president to disprove a psychiatric diagnosis rendered from social media posts and press conferences.

The good news for out-of-work tabloid-writers and underachieving White House correspondents is that there is plenty of demand for more Trump family fiction into 2018 and beyond.  A new, fresh-faced presidential embed can settle on his own version of the truth to prove that Trump is not a billionaire, the first lady is a prostitute, and poor little Barron has autism.

Benjamin Baird is a senior staff writer with the Conservative Institute, a widely published political and Middle East analyst, and a U.S. Army infantry leader who battled insurgents for over 1,000 days in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The Fire and Fury tell-all tabloid currently flying off bookshelves is nothing more than smoke and mirrors, an illusion that relies upon the confirmation biases of President Donald Trump’s most enduring critics.  Muckraker Michael Wolff stands to become fabulously wealthy by simply rehashing the most salacious and unconfirmed rumors to dog the Republican outsider since he unexpectedly ascended to the White House one year ago.

Repeat a lie often enough, and it becomes synonymous with the truth.  “The 322 pages don’t provide a lot of ‘new’ news,” notes Los Angeles Times columnist Jackie Calmes, before arguing that “the picture of mayhem is mostly familiar to readers who have followed the daily reporting of White House correspondents.”

In the case of the president’s mental fitness, gossip gradually turned to gospel as Democrats recycled duplicitous allegations that should have died soon after Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein first advanced this narrative on the campaign trail.

“You know, I don’t pretend to be able to do TV diagnosis,” offered Stein, a Harvard-educated internist, before doing exactly that.  “But I think the guy has a problem.”

After the election, a third-party candidate’s desperate plea for attention became a partisan plot embraced by the left as a precursor to a DNC Plan B: a psychiatric coup based on the 25th Amendment.  MSNBC Morning Joe co-host Joe Scarborough was soon comparing the president’s “confused mental state” to his own mother’s chronic dementia before warning later that “we are headed towards [sic] a nuclear showdown.”

The New York Times, The Washington Post, and the New York Daily News all agreed: Trump is a “madman” who will kill us all.  Ultimately, it did not matter that the House voted overwhelmingly to table a resolution to impeach the president last month in the same way that the veracity of Wolff’s reporting is inconsequential – the damage from their Democrat spitballing is done.

With the authority of an Oval Office insider, Wolff gave credence to not just these charges of insanity, but the entire collection of recurring Beltway scuttlebutt on the president.  From White House sleeping arrangements to the president’s gluttonous obsession with McDonald’s, the Hollywood Reporter columnist succeeded in convincing readers that information acquired from Trojan Horse reporting came straight from the horse’s mouth.

Calmes calls this rumor restoration “the power that comes from tying together in one place the dizzying events of Trump’s initial year plus [Wolff’s] ability to write – as his subtitle proclaims – that his account comes from ‘Inside the Trump White House.'”  By virtue of having parked his rear end on a West Wing sofa for many months, Wolff validated every progressive conspiracy theory from 2017 and adapted these fantasies into a single pretentious potboiler that is as fallible as it is unoriginal.

These documented distortions are precisely what Trump’s detractors want to hear: regurgitated politics-porn supported by journalism practices that were previously acceptable only when writing about sensitive national security secrets.  The use of multiple anonymous sources to substantiate particularly licentious gossip started with the Russian collusion delusion and was sloppily adopted to provide a veneer of legitimacy to Wolff’s own sell-all.

By virtue of his propensity to embellish the truth, the liberal media establishment argues that Trump invited his own character assassination.  A Washington Post piece by senior reporter Aaron Blake exposes the factual inconsistencies of Fire and Fury before concluding that “this is the tell-all that Trump’s post-truth presidency deserves.”

In other words, Trump had it coming.  Ten pages into Wolff’s revisionist saga, the professional gossip-monger admits that his chronicle is built upon lies.  “Many of the accounts of what has happened in the Trump White House are in conflict with one another; many, in Trumpian fashion, are baldly untrue.”

Similarly, New York Times White House correspondent Maggie Haberman tweeted that “even if some things are inaccurate/flat-out false, there’s enough notionally accurate that people have difficulty knocking it down.”  The use of terminology like “notionally accurate” is anti-Trump-speak for confirming the left’s inherent suspicions without actually presenting any proof to support them.

The mainstream press is determined to treat Fire and Fury like the infamous Christopher Steele dossier.  Progressives contend that the merits of this Clinton-funded hit piece should not be challenged just because of one unsubstantiated story about prostitutes, a hotel bedroom, and a “golden shower.”

Nearly one year from the first leak of this document, a Newsweek headline asks, “Is the Trump ‘Pee Tape’ Dossier True?,” demonstrating how even the boldest mistruths are slow to die.  Wolff’s rumor-mongering is cut from the same cloth as Russiagate

Wolff’s fiction has already produced dividends for the left, turning mainstream news cycles into a never-ending psychoanalysis of the POTUS.  In Western Europe, where an apology tour-averse President Trump has never been popular, Europeans woke up to front-page headlines questioning the sanity of the leader of the free world the day following Wolff’s pre-emptive publication.  Even a media outlet from the tiny archipelago of Tonga is trending in the U.S. by asking, “Can Trump prove his sanity,” as if the onus is on the president to disprove a psychiatric diagnosis rendered from social media posts and press conferences.

The good news for out-of-work tabloid-writers and underachieving White House correspondents is that there is plenty of demand for more Trump family fiction into 2018 and beyond.  A new, fresh-faced presidential embed can settle on his own version of the truth to prove that Trump is not a billionaire, the first lady is a prostitute, and poor little Barron has autism.

Benjamin Baird is a senior staff writer with the Conservative Institute, a widely published political and Middle East analyst, and a U.S. Army infantry leader who battled insurgents for over 1,000 days in Iraq and Afghanistan.



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