Friday, December 08, 2017

Trump Puts Fact Ahead of Fiction in Israel

The only reason recognizing Jerusalem as the Jewish State’s capital is controversial is that the world has been pretending it’s not for decades.

By Jonah Goldberg
December 8, 2017

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(Getty Images)

The most exhausting thing about the Middle East — except for the bloodshed, poverty, tyranny, etc. — is that it refuses to conform to how it’s described in the West.

It’s like journalists, diplomats, and politicians want to announce a football game, but the players keep insisting on playing rugby. The field looks similar. The scoring isn’t all that different. It’s just a different game. But don’t tell the gang in the booth. They get furious when you point out that the facts don’t line up with the commentary.

Consider President Trump’s momentous (though for now mostly symbolic) announcement that the United States will recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Before you can debate whether this was a good move, you must acknowledge one glaring fact that the chatterers want to ignore or downplay: It’s true. Jerusalem is the capital of Israel. The Knesset, Israel’s parliament, convenes there. Israelis call it their capital for the same reason they claim two plus two equals four. It’s just true.

What makes the decision controversial is that everyone had agreed to pretend it wasn’t the capital in order to protect “the peace process.”

That’s another term that doesn’t quite correspond with reality. There is no peace process. Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president finishing the twelfth year of his four-year term, has refused to meet with the Israelis to discuss anything since early in the Obama administration.

Part of the blame for that, of course, belongs with Obama, who built an entire foreign policy around what he wanted to be true rather than what was actually going on. Obama sought to distance the U.S. from Israel on the assumption that Israel was the unreasonably stubborn party in the “peace process.” That’s why, on the way out the door, the Obama administration broke with precedent and opted not to veto a U.N. Security Council resolution declaring East Jerusalem “occupied territory.”

This implied that, as a matter of international law, the Western Wall and the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem itself really belong to the Palestinians — which is an insane fantasy.

But denying reality is how this game has long been played. In his speech after Trump’s announcement, Abbas talked at great length about Jerusalem’s history as a Muslim and Christian city. He made no mention of the fact that it’s also a famously Jewish city, having been established as the capital of ancient Israel 1,000 years before Jesus was born.

Trump called his decision “a recognition of reality.” People invested in irreality insist the move will worsen “the Middle East conflict.”

Here, too, we have mislabeling. Whole books are dedicated to the Middle East conflict, as if the Israel–Palestinian issue were the only conflict in the region. Tell that to the hundreds of thousands of dead Syrians or the millions displaced by the civil war there. Tell it to those dying in Yemen, site of a proxy war between Iran and Saudi Arabia.

It’s been this way for decades. The Palestinians and their Arab patrons insisted to gullible Westerners that the Israel–Palestinian conflict was the source of all the region’s problems. Was the Iran–Iraq War, which cost more than a million lives, a fight over Palestinian statehood? What about the Lebanese Civil War? Turkey’s campaign against the Kurds?

The only people who bought the idea that the Middle East conflict began and ended with Israel were those guys in the control booth describing the wrong game — i.e., Western experts and activists deeply invested in the “peace process.”

In a sense, that’s understandable. If you’ve dedicated your entire professional life to a moveable feast that covers your airfare and lodging in Paris or Geneva while you discuss grave matters, it’s probably hard not to cling to fictions.

But those fictions are losing their hold, ironically thanks in large part to the Obama administration. By working on fantasy rather than facts, Obama threw the balance of power in the region heavily in Iran’s favor, lifting sanctions and giving Iran hundreds of billions of dollars. He thought the Iranians would join the community of nations or some such twaddle. Instead, they pocketed the money and are now on a surer path to a nuclear bomb.

As a result of this new reality, the old fictions are a luxury that Iran’s regional adversaries can no longer afford. That’s why Saudi Arabia, a longtime Palestinian patron, has been moving steadily closer to Israel: because Israel is a more valuable friend in the new Middle East conflict than the Palestinians are — or Obama was.

— Jonah Goldberg is a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and a senior editor of National Review. © 2017 Tribune Content Agency, LLC

Thursday, December 07, 2017

Trump's truth-telling on Jerusalem marks an all-new Middle East

By John Podhoretz
December 6, 2017
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American and Israeli flags displayed in the old city of Jerusalem. (Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)

‘This is nothing more or less than a recognition of reality,” President Trump said in announcing America’s recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Never have truer words been spoken, and they were delivered in the best speech Trump has ever given.
What Trump did was stunning. He could just have signed the waiver of the law passed in 1995 compelling the executive branch to move America’s embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. He did it six months ago, just like his three immediate predecessors did every six months since 1996. Or he could have not signed the waiver and simply said he was going to start the process of building the new embassy.
Instead, he called the international community’s seven-decade bluff and ended a delusion about the future that has prevented Palestinians from seeing the world and their own geopolitical situation clearly. It is a bold shift.

The idea that Jerusalem is not Israel’s capital has been a global pretense for decades, including here in the United States. It’s a pretense because Jerusalem has been Israel’s capital from the moment the new country secured a future by winning a bloody war for independence waged against it by Arab nations after they rejected the UN partition of the old British mandate into a Jewish state and an Arab state.
Under the plan, Jerusalem was to be an international city governed by the United Nations. But the Arab effort to push the Jews into the sea — an effort no other nation on earth intervened in to prevent — left a divided Jerusalem in the hands of the Jews in the West and Jordan in the East.
There would be no “international” Jerusalem because the Arabs made sure there could not be one.
So, in 1949, Israeli Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion moved the government from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. “The people which faithfully honored for 2,500 years the oath sworn by the Rivers of Babylon not to forget Jerusalem — this people will never reconcile itself with separation from Jerusalem,” Ben-Gurion told the United Nations at the time.
After Israel’s triumph in the Six-Day War in 1967, Jerusalem was unified and became, in the words spoken by every Israeli prime minister, the “eternal and undivided capital” of the Jewish state.
And yet the international fiction that Jerusalem is not only not Israel’s capital but isn’t even to be considered formally part of Israel has persisted for 50 years now.
Nominally, the idea is that Palestinians need to be allowed to believe they’ll secure sovereignty over at least a part of Jerusalem for them to pursue a final peace deal with the Israelis. And so most of the world has chosen to act as though Israel has no legal dominion over any part of Jerusalem.
That is, in a word, insane. Jerusalem is now home to 860,000 people — 10 percent of Israel’s population, nearly double that of its second city, Tel Aviv. Every one of them, Jew and Arab, is a citizen of the state. (The city is 60 percent Jewish and 35 percent Muslim.) It is the locus of Israel’s government, where the parliament sits, where the prime minister lives and where most government agencies are located.
The pretense has been allowed to continue for two reasons. The most rational reason is this: There has always been fear that any change in Jerusalem’s status might ignite a violent Palestinian response, retard peace efforts and inflame the “Arab street” throughout the Middle East. So why create a crisis when the status quo is at least stable?
Then there are those who simply believe Israel is a bad actor deserving of international scorn and isolation and should not be allowed to get away with it — it, in this case, being Jerusalem.
Trump rightly scorns the latter view and has an answer for the former: “This is a long overdue step to advance the peace process. And to work towards a lasting agreement.”
The Palestinians need to accept reality. They continue to act as though they will get what they want through rejection and resistance and rage. “It is time,” Trump said, “for the many who desire peace to expel the extremists from their midsts. It is time for all civilized nations and people to respond to disagreement with reasoned debate, not violence.”
The Palestinian refusal to accept Israel for what it is and what it has become has been the greatest bar to peace. And there are reasons to believe the so-called Arab street has bigger problems to concern itself with right now than Israel’s capital.
And not just the street — the capitals as well. Trump’s act comes at a time when there is a tectonic shift in the Middle East. If I had told you 20 years ago that Israel would one day find itself in a de facto alliance with Saudi Arabia and Egypt, you would’ve had me committed. But two weeks ago, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman reportedly urged Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to sign on to a peace deal Israel actually likes. MBS isn’t happy about Trump’s move, but that doesn’t change the fact that the sands are shifting rapidly after decades of stagnation.
In the end, as Trump said, “Israel is a sovereign nation with the right, like every other sovereign nation, to determine its own capital.” Indeed it is. Indeed it does. Bravo.

The Courage of Larry David

December 6, 2017

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Salman Rushdie and Larry David (HBO)
In the new season of HBO's Curb Your Enthusiasm, Larry David – and I'm speaking here of the character, not the real-life guy – doesn't waste any time getting into one of his trademark unpleasant run-ins with a total stranger. In the opening scene of the first episode, the stranger is a butch dyke for whom he doesn't hold a door open because, he tells her, she looked to him like the kind of woman who wouldn't want him to do that. Later, he explains to her and her fiancĂ©e, a lipstick lesbian, that, their plans to the contrary, the latter should be the “bride” at the wedding, and the former the “groom.”

And that's only the beginning. In later episodes, Curb mines for humor the fact that Larry's friend Marty Funkhauser has a daughter who's “transitioning” into a son. One running joke involves a girlfriend of Larry who attributes her son's brattiness to Asperger's. (These days, complains Larry, “any bad behavior can be written off as being on the spectrum!”)

In short, Season 9 does a neat job of catching up with some of the social phenomena that have come to the fore since Season 8 wrapped up six years ago. Although the tyranny of political correctness has grown more oppressive since then, Larry David (the character) hasn't shaken off his habit of cluelessly breaching social taboos at every turn and Larry David (the real guy) hasn't let himself be cowed by the PC police.

Proof positive of this is the season's truly sensational story arc. As noted, it's been six years since Season 8 of Curb. What has Larry (the character) been doing since then? It turns out he's been writing Fatwa!, a musical comedy about the Ayatollah Khomeini's 1989 fatwa against the author Salman Rushdie. When his manager, Jeff Greene (Jeff Garlin), sends the script around to potential backers, everybody wants in. This, of course, is supremely implausible: one overarching cultural reality of the post-9/11 era is that, with extremely few exceptions, book publishers, movie studios, museum curators, and opera and theater producers aren't eager to be involved in any project that touches even remotely on the negative side of Islam.

I devoted a whole chapter to this topic in my 2009 book Surrender: Appeasing Islam, Sacrificing Freedom. In it, I listed several cases of cultural self-censorship driven by fear of Muslim retaliation: the Deutsche Opera cancelled a production of Mozart'sIdeomeneo because one prop represented the severed head of Muhammed; a Rotterdam performance center dropped an opera about Muhammed's child wife, Aisha; the Barbican Centre in London bowdlerized Marlowe's Tamburlaine the Great to avoid offending Muslims. In the year since my book was published, the examples of cowardice in the face of Islamic intimidation have kept on coming.

The exceptions to this rule stand out for their rarity. For several years, the Showtime series Homeland was admirably blunt about the Islamic threat – until its latest season, when the producers finally capitulated to the media critics who kept calling it Islamophobic. Mandy Patinkin, who stars in the series as CIA honcho Saul Berenson, approved heartily of the series' change of tune, blaming Hollywood for making “Muslim 'terrorists'...the bad guys” and promising that viewers of Homeland's new season would “see who the bad guys really are.” Patinkin, reported Fox News, said that it's the fault of “white male politicians and 'the military establishment'” that Islam has such a bad reputation in the U.S.

Anyway, back to Curb. After clinching a Broadway deal for Fatwa, Larry talks about it on The Jimmy Kimmel Show. The next day, the Ayatollah issues a fatwa against himfor having “disparaged the beliefs of Muslims.” Larry is quick to cower: “I'll convert! I'll become a Muslim!” He proposes going back on the Kimmel show to apologize – but he's told that Kimmel “wants nothing to do with you.” All the backers have fled, too. (Now, that's realistic.) Terrified, Larry hides away in a hotel and starts drafting an apology in longhand: “Dear Ayatollah....”

He also seeks out a female Muslim friend, who, it turns out, knows the Iranian consul. He's surprised. “Are you a....plotter?” he asks. “Are you one of the plotters? Do you plot?” She replies: “I've plotted before.” They go to bed. (She's turned on by the sin of sleeping with an infidel.) “Blaspheme to me, Larry!” she insists as they go at it. “Blaspheme like you blaspheme the nation of Islam!” In compliance, he screams out the names of members of the Trump administration. Later, Larry skypes with the Iranian consul, who discusses his favorite Seinfeld episodes. (Larry, of course, was the co-creator and executive producer of that series.) “I must tell you, Mr. David,” the consul says, “the Ayatollah himself is a bit of a close talker.”

It's a laugh riot. I think so, anyway. You may not. But one thing that's unarguable is that it's pretty damn brave. The Larry of the show is a spineless coward – trembling in terror like a Bob Hope or Woody Allen character. But the Larry David who conceived this story arc and put it on HBO is one gutsy son of a bitch.

The season goes on. There are other plot lines. But it all keeps coming back to the fatwa. Because Larry has a target on his back, his friends peel off, canceling poker and golf games. Finally Larry decides there's only one person who can help him: Salman Rushdie himself. And yes, in the next scene, there he is, Rushdie, in the flesh – who turns out to have some of the most hilarious lines in the whole season. Rushdie assures Larry that while a fatwa is no joke, it does have its advantages. For one thing, some women will be attracted to Larry precisely because of the danger. (“Fatwa sex,” he confides, is “the best sex there is!”) For another thing, a fatwa is a great excuse: “You don't have to go to anything you don't want to go to. So like, your cousin is giving a reading of his lousy poetry book. You say, sorry, can't make it, fatwa! Somebody calls you and says, 'Can you pick me up at the airport?' Sorry, can't make it, fatwa.”

Again, I laughed out loud. It was the Ayatollah Khomeini, remember, who pronounced that “there is no humor in Islam.” It's precisely for this reason that jokes are the very best weapon in the war against it. No, I don't know the specifics of the real-life Larry David's politics when it comes to the Religion of Peace. (I don't know what he thinks, for example, about Trump's “Muslim ban.”) I know he's supposed to be a big lefty; his ex-wife Laurie David is an environmental activist, one of those rich celebrities who take private planes halfway around the world to scold people for using the wrong light bulbs. But while Larry has sometimes seemed to support her cause (his Curb ex-wife, Cheryl David, played by Cheryl Hines, shares Laurie's real-life politics, and the National Resources Defense Council, of which Laurie is a trustee, featured prominently in one Curb episode), he's also seemed to mock it (in one Curb episode he tries to skirt Cheryl's ban on “environmentally unfriendly” toilet paper).

Certainly neither Larry nor his former TV partner Jerry Seinfeld was ever afraid to give offense. Various Seinfeld episodes found Kramer stomping out a fire on a Puerto Rican flag; Jerry making American Indian jokes in the presence of a woman who, unbeknownst to him, is an American Indian; Elaine wondering whether her new boyfriend is black or white; and George trying to find a black guy to pretend to be his friend so he can prove to his black boss that he's not racist. Jerry made headlines not long ago when he complained that the ultra-PC atmosphere on campuses made them virtually off-limits for comedians. For all I know, Larry is a fan of Bernie Sanders, but his impression of him on Saturday Night Live (“We're doomed!!!”) perfectly captured the senator's fatuous radicalism and the utter impracticality of his policy ideas.

In the final analysis, however, I don't really care what Larry David's politics are. What matters to me is that he's funny and he's fearless. The Fatwa season of Curb Your Enthusiasm is exactly the sort of thing that's been all but entirely missing from American pop culture since 9/11. Three cheers, then, for Larry David. May his courage be infectious.

Wednesday, December 06, 2017

Jerusalem: Trump and Congress Challenge the Palestinians to Grow Up

December 5, 2017

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The president's decision to move the U.S. embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem to be announced Wednesday is already sending the usual suspects into a tizzy.  The famous Arab Street, we are told, will be erupting.  The despicable fascist that runs Turkey has warned of imminent disaster.  And the president of France is doing what the French usually do vis-a-vis the Jews -- well, not quite that bad.

But the real question is how the Palestinians themselves will react once the dust has settled. Will they continue decades of self-destructive violent protests that have led many of us to believe they never had an interest in a two-state solution in the first place, that it was all posturing for handouts? Or will they grow up and realize the time has come to negotiate to a conclusion and accept the responsibility of their own state and the adult compromises that would naturally entail?

By finally moving U.S. policy at least two degrees off years of unimaginative stagnation, Trump has forced the Palestinians  to face some measure of reality.  But he is not alone. They are also being challenged forcefully by Congress.  From the Algemeiner:

The Taylor Force Act passed the US House of Representatives by unanimous consent on Tuesday, confronting the Palestinian Authority with the prospect of a massive cut in US aid for as long as it maintains its policy of paying monthly salaries and other benefits to the families of slain or convicted Palestinian terrorists.

Named in memory of Taylor Force – the former American army officer stabbed to death during a knifing spree by a Palestinian assailant in Tel Aviv in March 2016 – the legislation prevents the transfer of funds “that directly benefit the Palestinian Authority” for a six-year period beginning in 2018 unless the PA verifiably ends its so-called “martyr payments” policy. The Taylor Force Act also requires the PA to repeal any laws enabling or favoring the payments policy, as well investigate terrorist acts for the purpose of “bringing the perpetrators to justice.”

Though the embassy move may be more superficially dramatic in a part of the world rarely governed by logic, the congressional action might just be more persuasive to a Palestinian leadership that has been living off global largesse since the Oslo Accords of 1993.  There's nothing like taking the money out of the hands of kleptocrats. (The U.S. is the PA's biggest donor to the tune of approximately $700 million per annum, directly or via the UN. The PA, in its turn, paid out $355 million to terrorist -- or, as they say, "martyr" -- families in 2017.)  At the very least, two branches of the American government seem to be working together for once.

Of course, their attempt  may produce nothing.  Those Hamas and PA billionaires may have enough stashed away to continue their sadistic games, seducing their own impoverished people with dreams of martyrdom over nothing, but for once the dial has been moved.

It will be interesting to see what happens.  The global chess game has changed.  Saudi Arabia, as we all know, is terrified of the Iranians and has found itself a covert ally of Israel against the mullahs.  The Palestinians are aware of that and not happy about it.  They are in a box.  Trump and Congress have chosen an auspicious time to make a move.  Various players will undoubtedly yell and scream in public and say something totally different in private.  That is the way of the Middle East (and America, unfortunately, these days).

The irony is that anyone who actually cares about the Palestinians as people should welcome what America is doing now.  It is perhaps the last best chance for the Palestinians to grow up, break free of their endless pattern of self destruction, and give up looking for excuses for another pointless intifada.  Unfortunately, too many of those players enjoy the status quo, profit from it, or resist change in general, like the self-righteous European leadership.

Nevertheless, progress.  And Trump has honored another campaign pledge.  He may be going for a record.

Roger L. Simon is an award-winning novelist, Academy Award-nominated screenwriter and co-founder of PJ Media.  His latest book is I Know Best:  How Moral Narcissism Is Destroying Our Republic, If  It Hasn't Already.

Review: ‘The Shape of Water’ Is Altogether Wonderful

By A.O. Scott
November 30, 2017
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“The Shape of Water” is partly a code-scrambled fairy tale, partly a genetically modified monster movie, and altogether wonderful. Guillermo del Toro, the writer and director, is a passionate genre geek. Sometimes his enthusiasm can get the better of his discipline, producing misshapen (but never completely uninteresting) movies like “Pacific Rim” and “Crimson Peak.” At his best, though — in “The Devil’s Backbone,” “Pan’s Labyrinth”and now, at last, again — he fuses a fan’s ardor with a romantic sensibility that is startling in its sincerity. He draws on old movies, comic books, mythic archetypes and his own restless visual imagination to create movies that seem less made than discovered, as if he had plucked them from the cultural ether and given them color, voice and form.
The most obvious reference point for “The Shape of Water” is “Creature From the Black Lagoon,” a Cold War-era camp-horror classic about a strange beast, quasi-fish and sort-of human, discovered in the rain forests of the Amazon. In Mr. del Toro’s update, such a creature is brought to Baltimore in the early 1960s and kept in a tank at a government research lab, where he is subjected to brutal torture in the name of science and national security.
“The Asset,” as his minders call him, poses no threat to anyone. He is, as wild things tend to be in movies nowadays, an innocent at the mercy of a ruthlessly predatory species, which is to say us. His particular nemesis is Richard Strickland, a government-issue, square-jawed square played with reliable menace by Michael Shannon. Strickland lives in a suburban split-level with his wife and two kids, drives a Cadillac, reads “The Power of Positive Thinking” and is into mechanical missionary sex (and workplace sexual harassment). His favorite accessory is an electric cattle prod, a detail that links him to the Southern sheriffs occasionally shown terrorizing civil rights demonstrators on television.
A caricature? Maybe. But also a perfectly plausible villain, and in his diabolical all-American normalcy a necessary foil for the film’s loose rebel coalition, a band of misfits who come to the Asset’s defense. The most important of these is Elisa (Sally Hawkins), a member of the laboratory’s nighttime cleaning staff, who plays jazz records for the piscine captive, feeds him hard-boiled eggs and before long falls in love with him.
You may marvel at just how far Mr. del Toro takes this interspecies romance — all the way, basically — and also at how natural, how un-creepy, how pure and right he makes it seem. And why not? Folklore is full of frog princes, beauties and beasts. Classical mythology has its satyrs and centaurs, its shape-shifting gods and metamorphosing nymphs, whose commingling and canoodling is part of the human heritage.
Elisa’s interest is stirred less by curiosity than by recognition. Because of her muteness, she is looked at by others — and sometimes regards herself — as “incomplete,” something less than fully human. Her two best friends are Zelda (Octavia Spencer), an African-American woman who works with her, and Giles (Richard Jenkins), a gay man who lives next door. The understated, intuitive sympathy among these outcasts gives this fable some political bite.
Bigotry and meanness flow through every moment like an underground stream, but kindness is always possible, and so is beauty. “The Shape of Water” is made of vivid colors and deep shadows; it’s as gaudy as a musical (and briefly turns into one), bright as a cartoon and murky as a film noir. (The cinematographer is Dan Laustsen. The score is by Alexandre Desplat.) Its busy plot moves swiftly — the presence of Russian spies never hurts, especially when one is played by Michael Stuhlbarg — except when Mr. del Toro lingers over a moment of tenderness, a delicate joke or an eruption of grace.
Ms. Hawkins and Doug Jones, soulful and gorgeous beneath his shimmering carapace of blue-green scales, supply most of those. Since neither Elisa nor the Asset possesses the power of speech, they communicate through gestures and, since both can hear, through music. Ms. Hawkins, giving a silent performance in a sound film, will perhaps inevitably evoke Charlie Chaplin, and she moves her body and her facial features with Chaplinesque elegance, narrowing the distance between acting and dancing, turning physical comedy into corporeal poetry.
Mr. del Toro, though he has dabbled in large-scale, franchise-ready filmmaking, has never succumbed to the authoritarian aesthetic of the Hollywood blockbuster. He is a reflexive democrat whose underdog sympathies haven’t curdled into glum superhero self-pity. The most welcome and notable thing about “The Shape of Water” is its generosity of spirit, which extends beyond the central couple. Zelda and Giles, an artist whose advertising career has been derailed, are not just supporting players. They have miniature movies of their own, as does Mr. Stuhlbarg’s scientist-cum-spook. And so, for that matter, does Strickland, though it isn’t a movie anyone else would want to be in, not least because it feels the closest to reality.
In Mr. del Toro’s world, though, reality is the domain of rules and responsibilities, and realism is a crabbed, literal-minded view of things that can be opposed only by the forces of imagination. This will never be a fair or symmetrical fight, and the most important reason to make movies like this one — or, for that matter, to watch them — is to even the odds.


December 6, 2017
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Cheryl Mills and Hillary Clinton
“There's always conflicting recollections of facts,” FBI Director Comey said.
It was a year ago and Comey was explaining why Hillary’s close aide, Cheryl Mills, not only received an immunity agreement in exchange for turning over her laptop, but a pass on lying to the FBI.
The FBI Director claimed that Mills had to receive immunity because the laptop might be protected by attorney-client privilege. Mills, like Hillary Clinton, had worked as a lawyer. But they were both government officials working for the State Department. Hillary wasn’t Mills’ client. The government was. 
Comey and his people knew the law. They chose to ignore it to protect a key Hillary aide from rolling over. Mills was the woman Hillary would send in to clean up her dirty laundry. Mills had taken point on the email server cover-up. If anyone knew where the bodies were buried, she did. Instead not only did she get an immunity agreement, but the FBI also agreed to destroy the computers after the search.
Mills had told the FBI that she didn’t know about Hillary’s email server. But the FBI had notes and emails proving that Mills was lying. And when Comey was asked about it, he came out with, “There's always conflicting recollections of facts.”
No doubt. 
That is what the lawyer of the woman who had been caught lying to the FBI might have been expected to argue. But there were no charges, instead the FBI Director was presenting her defense.
George Papadopoulos and Michael Flynn were charged with lying to investigators. But lying to investigators isn’t a crime when you’re Hillary Clinton. 
Or one of her associates.
Hillary Clinton had told the FBI that she had no idea that the “C” stood for confidential. Instead of laughing in her face or arresting her, the FBI boss testified personally to her truthfulness.
Hillary Clinton, Mills and Huma Abedin made what appear to be false statements to the FBI.
Had Mills been working for Trump, the same number would have been run on Mills as on Flynn and Papadopoulos. But the men interviewing Mills didn’t want her to sing. They wanted her to keep quiet.
Mills and Abedin were interviewed by the FBI's Peter Strzok and the DOJ's David Laufman. Strzok was exchanging pro-Hillary and anti-Trump messages in an extramarital affair with a woman working for FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe. McCabe’s wife had received a sizable amount of money from a Clinton ally. Laufman, whose counterintelligence section was heading the investigation, is an Obama donor
Mills’ lie made it more urgent to hand her an immunity agreement on any pretext. The immunity agreement wasn’t leverage for her testimony. It was leverage to keep her from testifying. The obstruction of justice was coming from the inside.
Strzok received input on the Comey letter exonerating Clinton. The Mills interview killed two birds with one stone. A key Hillary aide got immunity and the evidence would be destroyed.
This wasn’t an interview. It was a cover-up.
It’s why Comey sounded like Mills’ lawyer. And why so many Clinton associates got immunity agreements. Why the FBI agreed to destroy evidence. Why there were no recordings of Hillary’s testimony. And why lying to the FBI wasn’t a crime when it came to Hillary and her aides.
But the double standard kicked in when the Clinton cover-up crew went after Trump.
While Mills received an immunity agreement based on an imaginary attorney-client privilege that didn’t exist, Manafort was denied attorney-client privilege with his actual attorney
The double standard isn’t surprising when you look at who was doing the interviewing.
Strzok and Laufman had also interviewed Hillary. No recordings were made of the session. But Comey testified that it’s a “crime to lie to us”. 
Not for the Clintons and their associates.
Hillary had told her interviewers that she hadn’t received training on handling classified information, but she signed a document testifying that she had. Hillary claimed that she hadn’t carried a second phone, but an aide, Justin Cooper, who made the server possible, testified that indeed she did.
Huma Abedin and Cheryl Mills told the same lie. 
These are the kinds of misstep that Team Mueller would have used to hang a Trump associate. But Comey testified that Hillary Clinton did not lie.
And that meant he was lying.
Not only did Clinton’s people lie to the FBI. But the head of the FBI had lied for them.
The fix had been in all along. 
Comey had drafted his letter exonerating Clinton before the interviews even took place. Strzok had been copied on the next email. His contribution had included changing the description of Clinton's actions from "grossly negligent" to "extremely careless."  Strzok is now in the spotlight because Team Mueller’s stonewalling of the reasons for his removal have been exposed. 
Strzok, a Hillary partisan, had given his favorite politician a pass and signed the document opening the Russia investigation. The Steele dossier, provided by a Russian intelligence operative and paid for by the Clinton campaign, was funneled through to Strzok’s team. And Strzok had interviewed Flynn.
Team Mueller resisted discussing Strzok. Alongside the constant leaks to favored media outlets like the Washington Post, Mueller’s people have worked to maintain a monopoly on information.
Judge Beryl Howell, an Obama appointee, a friend of Loretta Lynch, Obama's DOJ boss, and of Andrew Weissmann, Mueller’s deputy, decided to seal the Papadopolous case. Howell also decided that Manafort isn’t entitled to attorney-client privilege. These actions took place at the behest of Weissmann. The latter had sent an email praising Sally Yates, the disgraced former acting Attorney General, for refusing to stand by the law on the Trump travel ban.
Weissmann, like the rest of Team Mueller, wasn’t there to get at the truth, but to stop President Trump. The Mueller deputy is one of two Obama donors on the team. There are also five Clinton donors. One of whom had represented the Clinton Foundation. Another had represented Justin Cooper, the Clinton adviser, who helped run Hillary's email server and claimed to have destroyed some of Hillary’s devices.
It’s hard to imagine how this investigation could have been any more partisan or tainted.
The endgame for this is to go after President Trump on obstruction of justice. But you can’t obstruct a justice that was already obstructed. Both the Clinton and Trump investigations were tainted by blatant partisanship. While the Clinton investigation did everything possible to protect her and her aides, regardless of the evidence, the Trump investigation did everything possible to destroy him and his associates without producing a single charge relevant to the actual investigation. 
The Clintons and their allies have obstructed justice. And it’s time for a real investigation.

Tuesday, December 05, 2017

Sanctuary city politics killed Kate Steinle

By John Kass
December 1, 2017
Image result for kate steinle trial
In this July 17, 2015 file photo, flowers and a portrait of Kate Steinle remain at a memorial site on Pier 14 in San Francisco.(Paul Chinn/AP)
The photograph is of a lovely young woman, with a warm smile on her face, a woman who loved and was loved in turn.
Her name was Kate Steinle.
The last words she said to her father before she died were “Help me, Dad.”
So look at that photo. See the promise in her face.
Some are calling her a symbol now of what’s wrong with illegal immigration. I’m not so sure. My parents were immigrants.
I grew up in this country desperate to become an American. So immigration isn’t some political exercise for me. It’s been part of my life.
But so has been my understanding of what binds us together, all of us, so many different people, with our different ethnicities and habits and foods and languages.
It is the belief in the rule of law. And without that, we’re nothing.

Making Kate Steinle a symbol doesn’t do her justice. She wasn’t a symbol of anything when that bullet took her. She was just a young American woman, walking with her dad.
When you look at the photo, you might want to fix the light of her eyes in your mind. But do it quickly, because Kate Steinle is in the way of politics, and she’s fading from view.
She’s being muscled out of the news.
The guilty plea of retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn in the Russia investigation of President Donald Trump’s administration demands attention. The Republican tax cut demands attention.
And more allegations of sexual misconduct by political and media elites will get attention.
But before she fades from the news cycle, please consider this.
Kate Steinle isn’t merely a casualty of a senseless act of some habitual criminal who was cleared of murder charges in San Francisco the other day.
Kate Steinle is a casualty of American politics, of sanctuary city politics.
And that makes her a political problem. That makes her an irritant to Democratic politicians and the open-borders types who use sanctuary city policies to bend immigration law and win Mexican-American votes.
You might not like it, but that’s what it is. They defy federal law to satisfy their local politics.
So yes, she’s a problem, because it was sanctuary city policy that protected Jose Zarate, a career criminal who had already been deported five times and was in this country illegally.
Zarate had been in local custody on a drug charge. And rather than bow to a detainer request of federal immigration authorities and hold him, Sanctuary San Francisco let Jose Zarate go.
There was a stolen gun in his hand as Kate Steinle and her father walked along Pier 14.
He initially told police he’d been shooting at a sea lion.
But if he had killed the sea lion, Zarate would have been convicted of something.
The bullet killed Kate Steinle instead. And a jury acquitted him of all the serious charges, from murder to manslaughter.
A charge of murder requires proof of direct intent and there were no witnesses to intent. I’ve seen it argued that local prosecutors overreached in charging murder in the first degree. I wouldn’t disagree.
Yet he also walked on manslaughter charges. And how a man can fire a gun and kill someone and not be convicted of manslaughter? That is beyond me.
I wasn’t in that courtroom. Her family was, though. And her father, Jim Steinle, told the San Francisco Chronicle that the family was shocked and saddened by the verdict.
“There’s no other way you can join it. Justice was rendered, but it was not served,” he said.
And justice still isn’t being served, as long as sanctuary cities allow local political warlords to buy votes by bending federal law.
The politics of this are smart, and effective, which is why so many big cities with large Mexican populations have adopted sanctuary city policies.
But under the law, immigration is the province of the federal government. And without the law, what are we? A collection of squabbling city-states?
Why do we even have a federal government at all, if only to allow each state, each city and the local warlords to make their own separate immigration policy?
Only the people of a sovereign nation have the right to decide what to do about their own borders. And their will is expressed by Congress.
A nation without borders isn’t a nation. It’s just land that can be grabbed by whoever is tough enough to grab it.
And releasing criminals onto the streets to satisfy your political goals isn’t policy. It’s dangerous.
But all that wasn’t on the mind of Jim Steinle or his daughter Kate when they were walking along that San Francisco pier.
“Kate was beautiful, kind, happy, caring, loving and deep in faith,” Jim Steinle said in testifying before Congress in 2015. “Kate had a special soul, a kind and giving heart, the most contagious laugh, and a smile that would light up a room.
“… The day she was killed, we were walking arm in arm on Pier 14 in San Francisco, enjoying a wonderful day together. Suddenly a shot rang out, Kate fell, and looked at me and said, ‘Help me, Dad.’ Those are the last words I will ever hear from my daughter,” he said.
In America, we say that justice is blind because we know that without justice under the rule of law, we’re finished.
What happened to Kate Steinle wasn’t justice.
A bullet took her life. But it was politics that killed her.
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