You Can’t Deny that Venezuela Is a Socialist Calamity by Steven Horwitz

As Venezuela descends into a nightmare of starvation and violence, the long-standing debate over the feasibility of socialism takes on new relevance. Years of explicitly socialist policies from the Chavez and Maduro regimes have taken their toll, as nationalization and a variety of other attempts to abolish or subvert market processes have destroyed what was once one of South America’s richest countries.

Even with the wealth of their oil reserves, redistribution and price controls have brought production, and therefore consumption, to a halt. Once they exported grain to the rest of the world, now they can’t even feed their own people.

Who Is at Fault?

This humanitarian disaster has raised the question of who or what to blame. That question puts self-proclaimed socialists and their progressive sympathizers in a difficult spot. After all, one can easily find lots of examples (from Michael Moore to Bernie Sanders) of people on the left praising or endorsing Chavez’s economic policies. So what can people who took that position say in the face of this disaster? And what can the defenders of free enterprise say as well?

Many on the left will start by denying that socialism is at fault. Sometimes they’ll deny that the Chavez-Maduro policies were “real” socialism. In other cases, they’ll argue that while their intentions might have been good, corruption and poor implementation doomed good policies to failure.

Both of these arguments have real problems.

If those policies were not “real” socialism, then why did so many sympathetic to socialism express so much support for them and argue that they would be transformative in ways socialists value? Chavez himself made such claims.

Do all of them not understand what socialism is? The variety of attempts Chavez made to prevent markets and prices from working and to substitute some form of economic planning in the name of the people have been broadly consistent with socialism since Marx. If that’s not socialism, what exactly is meant by that word anymore?

Real Socialism

For many on the left, the answer to the last question is “the Scandinavian countries.” The problem, however, is that the Scandinavian countries have, by some measures, freer markets than the US, which the left sees as the archetype of capitalism. At the very least, they are not significantly different from the US in their degree of economic freedom.

Historically, socialism has broadly been defined as the elimination of the private ownership of the means of production and the substitution of common or public ownership and economic planning for what Marx called the “anarchy of production” of the market.

Doing away with private ownership, exchange, prices, and profits would, in Marx’s view, end the alienation, exploitation, and crises that characterized capitalism. In addition, rationalizing production through planning, rather than leaving matters to the trial and error method of the market, would eliminate waste and bring on a burst of productivity that would enrich us all.

Abolishing markets does not describe the Scandinavian countries, though it does capture a lot of what was going on in Venezuela. Socialism, at least historically, did not simply mean “a large welfare state” as we see in Scandinavia. In fact, the only way countries can afford larger welfare states is to have economies productive enough to produce the wealth that can be taxed away to support such programs. This is why the Scandinavian countries deregulated (and lowered tax rates) so much in the last decade or two: only through freer markets could they afford their transfer programs.

If you love the Scandinavian model, you don’t love socialism. You love market capitalism, because that’s what makes that model possible. (Whether large welfare states are necessary or desirable is a matter for another column.)

What of the argument that well-intentioned policies were frustrated by corruption and poor implementation? The problem here is that this seems to happen every time socialism has been tried. The Bolsheviks began to implement Marxian socialism within a year of taking power and a decade later they had Stalinism. Cuba quickly turned to a dictatorship. China. North Korea. The list goes on. At what point are these not all coincidences?

Every. Single. Time.

Economists have long understood the dynamic at work here. Marx and other socialists thought that those in charge of the planning process, and for Marx that was the whole community, could rationally determine what to produce and how best to produce it in the absence of markets, exchange, and prices. Since Mises’s famous essay in 1920, however, we have known that doing so is not possible.

Genuine market prices are necessary for people be able to make determinations of value in anything larger than a household. Without prices, there is no way to know, not just what people value but (more importantly) how to make what they value using the least valuable resources possible.

In other words, rational production decisions are impossible without market prices, and market prices can’t exist without exchange and therefore there has to be private ownership, especially of the means of production.

Markets are like weeds in that they will grow in the cracks left by the failures of planning.

But what happens when those given the power to make such decisions realize they cannot achieve their perhaps well-intentioned goals? The power does not go away. More often than not, the first reaction is precisely what we’ve seen in Venezuela: crack down harder on producers for not living up to impossible demands and ration goods to punish consumers for “hoarding.” And when that doesn’t work, go to more draconian authoritarianism, and do whatever it takes to hold on to power.

After a while, these exercises of brute power have consequences. They attract those with a comparative advantage in exercising such power (and perhaps those who have a high consumption value for doing so) into positions of power. Marxism is not Stalinism, but the inability of Marxian socialism to live up to its promises creates the conditions that make Stalinism possible and likely. In other words, Stalinism is an unintended consequence of Marxian socialism.

In addition, as state control becomes more clearly ineffective, people start to work around it by establishing distorted forms of market exchange. Bribery of politicians and bureaucrats, threats to producers, cronyism, and nepotism all become the ways of getting things done. Scarce resources have to be allocated somehow, and markets are like weeds in that they will grow in the cracks left by the failures of planning.

Intellectual Negligence

To the outside world, corruption and poor implementation caused socialism to fail. But that gets matters completely backward: corruption and ineffective political actors are not the cause of socialism’s failure, but a result of that failure. When you make real markets illegal and when your attempts at planning inevitably fail, what you get is the bribery and corruption of black markets. Once again, these are not what Marxism intends, but they are an inevitable unintended consequence.

So what does this say about those who supported the policies of Chavez and Maduro? It’s easy to say that they are evil for wishing starvation and destruction on the Venezuelan people, but I think that’s too easy. I do believe that many who supported those policies genuinely believed they would have good results. In that sense, they did not act immorally.

However, they are guilty of a severe intellectual error that has real moral consequences. Though they may not have intended the humanitarian disaster that we now see, they do bear responsibility for not being aware of the long-standing criticisms of socialism that have given us reasons to expect such a disaster.

Our friends on the left who supported Chavez’s policies are by and large not guilty of the intentional evil we broadly call “vice.” What they are guilty of is something more like intellectual “negligence.” They didn’t mean “that” in the case of Venezuela, but there’s no doubt that they should have known better.

Those of us who understand the power of markets to improve the lives of all of us won’t be very effective in persuading others of that truth if we write off those sympathetic to socialism as evil-doers. It’s better to engage them gently and intellectually, and offer them an alternative narrative, than to write them off as irredeemable.

Moral condemnation ends productive dialogue – offering an alternative narrative can start it. The human cost of socialism is too high to not engage those sympathetic to it in the most effective ways possible.

Steven Horwitz

Steven Horwitz is the Schnatter Distinguished Professor of Free Enterprise in the Department of Economics at Ball State University, where he also is a Fellow at the John H. Schnatter Institute for Entrepreneurship and Free Enterprise. He is the author of Hayek’s Modern Family: Classical Liberalism and the Evolution of Social Institutions and is a Distinguished Fellow at FEE and a member of the FEE Faculty Network.

Stand Strong Dear Trump Americans

An extremely disheartened American emailed me documenting all the factions committed to removing Trump from office. She concluded,

“I don’t see how President Trump is going to overcome this onslaught of negativity which is waging upon him by those who are casting aspersions upon him for destroying the legacy of our nation’s so-called “first black president” and the detestable woman, “Crooked Hillary” who wanted to continue his failed policies! I pray for his protection and perseverance!”

I encouraged our patriot sister to keep the faith. Remarkably, Trump does not appear to be deterred by his enemies in both parties. Though under-reported, Trump continues to dismantle Obama’s horrific legacy.

I believe Trump draws strength from the support of We the People.

When Moses grew tired, Aaron and Hur held his hands up, one on each side, to encourage the people. As long as we continue to hold Trump’s hands up, he will perform God’s purpose. Our continuous prayers and support are the keys, strengthening our God given emancipator.

The Washington DC establishment is advising Trump to stop tweeting, stop following his instincts and function more within their traditional norms. I respectfully say Washington DC norms are what got us into our current mess; a nation in cultural, moral and economic decline.

When Obama was in office, fake news media threw out the rule books; the Constitution and the law. They paved the way for their Leftist messiah to take whatever immoral, unlawful and unconstitutional actions he deemed necessary to implement what they decreed the greater good. To push through Obama controlled health-care, fake news media allowed Obama to lie to us 29 times that under his plan, we could keep doctors we liked. To insure Obama’s reelection in 2012, fake news media supported Obama sacrificing the lives of Ambassador Chris Stevens and other Americans in Benghazi and lying about it. I won’t spend time rehashing all the numerous times fake news media applauded Obama breaking laws.

Now that Trump is in office, suddenly fake news media are stickers for the rule-of-law. Fake news media is in full-court-press-mode to impeach Trump on a sinking-sand foundation of anonymous sourced accusations and lies. They are attempting to criminalize Trump not crossing every “t” and dotting every “i” according to their rules. Every day the airways are filled with more much ado about nothing accusations against Trump.

In war, the aggressor sets the rules for battle. Fake news media’s battle rules says Democrats are free to lie, cheat and do whatever necessary to achieve their transformation of America. Meanwhile, Republicans must function within whatever we (fake news media) decreed to be legal.

Too many folks on our side still do not understand the evil we are dealing with. Republicans and Conservatives are still advising Trump to moderate his tone. They want Trump to stop tweeting, stop following his instincts and play by rules set by his unethical dishonest enemies. In essence, they want Trump to bring an olive branch to a gunfight.

I am not offended by a little unconventional-ism in Trump’s efforts to undo Obama’s illegal messes. Note, I am not saying I would support unlawful actions by President Trump.

It was frustrating hearing Republican Mitch McConnell say he would like to see a little less drama coming out of the White House. What part of fake news media is going to spin everything Trump says and does to create drama does Senator McConnell not understand? Meanwhile, these same fake news despicables pandered to by Sen McConnell gave Obama a pass to do whatever he pleased.

Frankly, I would hate to see Trump become more guarded in his words and actions. No, I am not advocating that the president say stupid things. But on the other hand, it is extremely refreshing and empowering to hear a Republican speak boldly and fearlessly; not walking on eggshells to appease fake news leftists. Thank God, John Wayne stand-up-for-what-is-right, tell-it-like-it-is maleness has not been totally castrated in America. We hired Trump to get things done. I do not care that his process does not meet Washington DC establishment and fake news media approval.

Some on our side are outraged that Trump has threatened to cancel White House daily press briefings. I say, why not? The press is not who they pretend to be. The press is a foaming at the mouth behemoth leftist monster seeking to devour America as founded. Reporting the truth is not on their agenda. So why grant gotcha opportunities to anti-American zealots whose sole intention is to lie and spin. They seek to impeach our president to stop the implementation of our agenda; even at the cost of American lives and the best interest of our country.

Be of good cheer folks. Do not underestimate the power of We the People. Despite the Left’s billions of dollars worth of articles, fake news stories and 24/7 anti-Trump/pro-Hillary campaigning, Trump defeated their candidate in an electoral landslide. The daily fake news pounding of Trump “ain’t” going away.

My wife Mary and I are in Montana with the Conservative Campaign Committee working to defeat Pelosi’s extreme liberal candidate for congress, Rob Quist. In essence, we are fighting the Democrats’ and fake news media’s impeach Trump scheme

All Trump has is us. We must stay engaged, ignore fake news media, support and pray for President Trump, our liberator.

Gay Effort to Reintroduce Slavery in the South Fails

Blaine Adamson

Blaine Adamson is the owner of a T-shirt shop in Frankfort, Kentucky, Hands On Originals. He is also a sincerely devoted follower of Jesus Christ. So naturally when he was approached in 2012 by a local homosexual activist group to print a shirt promoting The Lexington “Pride” Festival, he politely declined, and courteously referred them to a nearby shop who would be happy to provide the service.

In fact, a quick look at the Frankfort area Yellow Pages lists no less than 21 different businesses which cater to the T-shirt printing crowd, so there was simply no need for Adamson to be forced under the threat of fines and worse to do a job which would have caused him to violate his conscience. Plus, the gay activists wound up getting their shirts for free from another vendor.

But for politely exercising his First Amendment right to the free exercise of religion, Adamson was promptly sued. His case finally made it to the Court of Appeals in Kentucky.  (The Court of Appeals is one step below the state supreme court). In a surprising move, given the almost total obeisance of judges to the bullies and bigots of the homosexual lobby, the court actually ruled in favor of religious liberty and freedom of speech.

The opinion, written by Chief Judge Joy Kramer, pointed out that Adamson had not been guilty of discrimination at all. There is no evidence, she wrote, that Hands On Originals had “refused any individual the full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, and accommodations it offered to everyone else because the individual in question had a specific sexual orientation or gender identity” (emphasis in original). In fact, Adamson has routinely done business with members of the LGBT community and even employs them.

The issue, in other words, was not about sexual orientation at all but about speech. It was about whether an American can be compelled by government force to communicate a message which violates his conscience and deeply held religious belief.

Section 5 of the Kentucky constitution is quite clear, unambiguous, and emphatic on the issue (emphasis mine):

“[T]he civil rights, privileges or capacities of no person shall be taken away, or in anywise diminished or enlarged, on account of his belief or disbelief of any religious tenet, dogma or teaching. No human authority shall, in any case whatever, control or interfere with the rights of conscience.”

As further proof that the issue for Adamson is one of conscience and religious scruple, and not an expression of some kind of hate-filled homophobia, he has also declined to print T-Shirts that use the word “b**ches” or that featured Jesus dressed as a pirate.

What should not be missed here is that there are two larger issues involved, as lesbian writer Tammy Bruce pointed out some time ago. For the government to force someone to do work that violates his conscience is nothing less than tyranny. And for a man to be compelled under threat of punishment to perform work against his will is slavery.

The reality is that the LGBT lobby is the reincarnation of some of the worst elements of the mindless prejudice of the Old South in its irrational venom toward people (Christians) who are not like them. The rainbow flag is the new Confederate flag. It is as much a symbol of bigotry as that flag ever was in the minds of the left.

Bottom line: in Frankfort, Kentucky, homosexual activists tried to reintroduce slavery to the Deep South. They failed in the attempt. And the Constitution’s protections for religious liberty and freedom of speech were upheld. Let’s pray that this court will be just the first of many to protect our first freedom against the tyranny of the left.

Alt-left: ‘Rioting … or physically attacking a conservative speaker are not enough’

Now the Left is trying to kill us. And more is to come. A good piece from my friend Thomas Craughwell in the American Spectator on my being poisoned last week in Iceland:

“Ecstasy on Ice — But Not the Good Kind,” by Thomas J. Craughwell, American Spectator, May 19, 2017:

Somebody just tried to poison one of my friends.

You may know him. He’s Robert Spencer, the director of the news-and-commentary blog JihadWatch and author of two New York Times bestsellers, The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades) and The Truth About Muhammed. He appears pretty regularly on cable news as an expert on Islamist terrorism, and he’s led seminars on jihad for the FBI, the United States Central Command, and the Joint Terrorism Task Force, among others. Robert also gets a lot of speaking engagements. His most recent event was in Reykjavik, Iceland, and that’s where someone laced his drink with something nasty….

Art Moore, writing for World Net Daily, reports that doctors at the Reykjavik hospital found Robert tested “positive for amphetamine and MDMA.” MDMA is a synthetic drug commonly known as Ecstasy or Molly. A high dose of MDMA can cause liver, kidney, or heart failure and may even be fatal. The drug is commonly available in tablet or capsule form, but it is also available as crystals, a powder, or a liquid. Those last three options would be the easiest to slip into someone’s drink….

Among our friends on the left, Robert Spencer is not a popular guy. For years, he has been exposing Islamist extremists who have launched terror attack after terror attack across the globe. And he has made the case that in the eyes of the terrorists, they are doing Allah’s work because there are verses in the Koran and other sacred Islamic texts that approve of attacking infidels. Christians and Jews and every other non-Islamic religion fall into the infidel category. But as we continue to see in Iraq and Syria, ISIS also targets Muslims who, from the terrorists’ point of view, are the wrong kind of Muslims.Nonetheless, Robert has been denounced as a hate monger by the Southern Poverty Law Center, his books are banned in Muslim-majority nations, and in 2013 the British Home Office barred Robert from traveling to the U.K. for any speaking event. When he appealed the ban in court, the British Court of Appeals dismissed his case, arguing that “this was a public order case where the police had advised that significant public disorder and serious violence might ensue from the proposed visit.”

It’s only May, but already we’ve seen some ugliness directed at conservatives who were invited to speak at various colleges. At Middlebury College in Vermont, protesters mobbed conservative social scientist Charles Murray, injuring a professor who was trying to escort him to safety. At NYU, provocateur and actor Gavin McInnes was rushed by protesters who physically tried to stop him from holding a seminar for College Republicans (police arrested about a dozen demonstrators). And at Berkeley, chaos erupted, even before conservative commentator Milo Yiannopoulos got to the university. Berkeley’s administrators blamed the riot, which caused $100,000 worth of damage, on “150 masked agitators,” who egged on about 1,500 anti-Milo demonstrators.

It appears that rioting, or howling down, or physically attacking a conservative speaker are not enough. Now we have to worry that some “progressive” might slip an overdose into a conservative’s drink.

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VIDEO: We finally have proof of inappropriate financial dealings with Russia

In The Sovereignty Project column and video titled We finally have proof of inappropriate financial dealings with Russia reports:

And it’s not what you think!

Hypocrisy is the Left’s favorite weapon against the American people. Liz [Wheeler] has gathered together many examples of Leftist cronyism and downright corruption in connection with Russia. Trump evidence – it’s looking thin while we wait for Robert Muller to get to the bottom of the furor in Washington.

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Montana special Congressional election on May 25th, 2017 heats up

Hi Folks. Lloyd here, checking in from Montana with Conservative Campaign Committee working to defeat extreme liberal Rob Quist for congress.

Mary has fallen in love with the Prairie dogs running around everywhere with their cute babies following them. I told her to forget about it. We are not taking Prairie dogs home on the plane to add to our 8 birds, two cats and greyhound.

Democrats have spent millions flooding the airways with ads lying about the Republican candidate Greg Gianforte. These people are despicable. Meanwhile, their candidate, Quist is nothing more than another Pelosi hand puppet to help fake news media’s impeach Trump scheme.

Mary and I stuffed envelopes for two hours yesterday. CCC is sending bumper sticks and letters to Montana Republicans urging them to get to the polls on Thursday, May 25th.

Mary ordered the 3 ft by 8 ft “GIANFORTE FOR CONGRESS” banner she and I hold on street corners during our CCC team’s numerous sign waving sessions. Response from Montana motorists honking their horns have been overwhelmingly in favor of Gianforte.

Conservative Campaign Committee is running get-out-the-vote radio ads on several stations. Miss Lulu is managing our phone-from-home initiative.

Folks, I am talkin’ old school, grassroots, do everything you can think of to push your candidate over the finish line campaigning. While it is grueling, Mary and I enjoy working with our CCC team, making a difference for our country.

The Bible says faith without works is dead. In other words, while we should pray for God’s blessing, it is crucial that we work toward what we want; putting legs to our faith.

The theme of our Montana get-out-the-vote effort is “All that is needed for evil to prosper is for good men to do nothing.”

Republicans outnumber Democrats in Montana. But if they don’t vote, we are toast! Please call your Uncle Joe or whomever you know in Montana and tell them to get to the polls THIS THURSDAY

I always try to taste the most popular local dish. Chicken fried steak is high on the list; flour battered and deep fried; placed on a bed of mashed potatoes and smothered in gravy. Sounds awesome. For health reasons, I ate a bit of cooked medium/plus rib eye. Delicious!

Five Scandals That SHOULD Have a Special Counsel

The Special Counsel law is a bad one. It essentially creates a temporary fourth branch of government that is unaccountable to anyone.

But if it is going to be used — and the Democrat/Media establishment have been howling for it for months — then there are some real, known, evidential scandals and crimes for which it should be used. Of course, those happened in the Obama Administration, and Obama could act with virtual impunity with the media curled up, purring in his lap.

First, the Trump “collusion” charge does not require a special counsel because collusion is not actually illegal. It’s unethical, but there is no law against it. So what would actually be prosecuted? It is meant to undermine, distract and provide ammo for impeachment.

Second, and more importantly, there is no evidence of collusion. At all. There is billowing dust spun up from the media doing donuts in the dirt that looks like smoke — and where there is smoke there is fire! Right?

Yes. But not where there is dust. And right now, there is zero evidence of collusion. Just media spinning up dust that everyone is choking on.

Even famed Pulitzer Prize winning Watergate reporter Bob Woodward, one of the few careful journalists left in Washington, said on Fox News Sunday: “There are, you know, a thousand questions and they should be answered, but there’s no evidence President Trump at this point was somehow involved in collusion here. That’s important,” Woodward said. “This is not yet Watergate — not a clear crime.”

But there have been many recent scandals where we know crimes were committed — and continue to be committed — and there was not only no special prosecutor, there was no serious investigation.

Here is the short list of those.

IRS targeting conservative groups

In 2013, the IRS inadvertently revealed that they had been targeting conservative groups trying to get non-profit designations ahead of the 2012 elections. Groups with Tea Party and Conservative in the title were among those targeted. While most groups get their designation within a few months, these took years and effectively blocked them from being a part of the election process. Truly election tampering.

Further, there were overt violations of federal law, including leaking confidential taxpayer information to partisan liberal groups.

But to no one’s surprise, the Obama Justice Department investigated the Obama Internal Revenue Service and concluded no charges should be filed. This came after a series of shifting stories from the White House first denying, then blaming a rogue office in Cincinnati and eventually finding no criminal wrongdoing.

The Obama Justice Department said former IRS official Lois Lerner and others were merely guilty of “mismanagement, poor judgment and institutional inertia.” Of course, she and others were obviously supporters of Obama and their actions materially helped his re-election campaign. It would be untoward to charge such loyalists.

Naturally, the media had no real stomach for the chase in this scandal — a recurring theme. It was their man in the White House and it was Tea Party conservatives being targeted. Just perfunctory coverage.

A classic case of an administration investigating itself. Congress found much more, but Democrats uniformly opposed anything. This really could have used a special prosecutor.

“More flexibility” and Obama’s gifts to Russia

In 2012, President Obama infamously — well, for those not purring on his lap — told Russian President Medvedev that after the November election, he would have more flexibility to negotiate with (cave to) the Russians on missile defense.

After asking generally if his mic was hot, Obama apparently thought it was not and spoke truthfully:

Obama: “On all these issues, but particularly missile defense, this, this can be solved but it’s important for him to give me space.”

Medvedev: “Yeah, I understand. I understand your message about space. Space for you…”

Obama: “This is my last election. After my election I have more flexibility.”

Medvedev: “I understand. I will transmit this information to Vladimir, and I stand with you.”

Turns out it was not about negotiations with the Russians. It was unilateral disarmament on Obama’s part — something Americans would never have gone for. He reduced and continued to reduce spending on research and implementation of missile defenses, thereby making us militarily weaker vis-a-vis Russia.

This was overt collusion with Russia, caught on mic, and then followed with actions.

But not only was there no special prosecutor, the whole episode and following created barely a ripple of interest among the press corps. Yes, we are all shocked. Recurring theme.

In fact it was so little covered that a recent interview by MSNBC anchor Katy Tur revealed in February Tur didn’t even know what a Congressman was referring to when he mentioned the “more flexibility” affair. Tellingly, her ignorance has since been pulled down from the Youtube channel where it was being shared.

Stuxnet leak endangers national security

In a scandal that also received almost no media coverage, the Obama administration leaked information about a computer virus called Stuxnet that had been developed to destroy Iranian nuclear centrifuges. And it was successful, setting back Iran’s nuclear ambitions for years.

This was a hugely damaging leak because it meant that not only could the U.S. never use it again, it may have risked the lives of operatives within Iran. The huge question is what did the U.S., or the Obama administration, have to gain from the leak?

Further however, the Obama administration later negotiated (which means giving the Iranians everything they wanted) the nuclear deal with Iran that set them on the path to creating a fully functioning nuclear weapons program. It also lifted sanctions on Iran and flushed their terrorism coffers with at least $400 million — cash.

This was a horrific scandal when taken altogether. But the Stuxnet leak alone was a felony and an overt threat to national security.

True to form, the White House rejected calls for a special counsel or special prosecutor. Retired Marine Corps General James E. Cartwright was eventually found guilty, but a pardon came from President Obama during his lame-duck period.

There is every reason to think that this set a dangerous example for those who want to leak national secrets for political gain — as we are seeing right now.

In the Stuxnet scandal, where the Obama administration again was making decisions on investigating itself, no special counsel was appointed.

Fast and furious gun smuggling

Early in the Obama administration, Attorney General Eric Holder (the same one who later did nothing on the IRS) ran a program to smuggle weapons across the Mexican border. The idea was to trace their path through drug cartels.

That is a thin pretext, it is still illegal even if the true motive. The Obama administration was not particularly interested in the Mexican drug cartels. Many people see the program as a pretext for pushing gun control laws as the weapons would inevitably make it into the U.S. in the hands of criminals — which some did.

If that was not enough, Obama used executive privilege to cover up related documents. Holder was held in contempt of Congress in relation to an illegal operation that killed a U.S. border agent  But it was Holder’s assistant at Justice that announced there would be no charges against his boss.

Obama covered up all details, presumably damning details, with executive privilege and the media quickly moved on in search of a real scandal — hopefully one involving a Republican.

Unmasking Political Opponents

Most recently, we discovered that Obama loyalist, partisan, serial liar and National Security Advisor Susan Rice was busy in 2016 requesting the unmasking of Americans, apparently fishing for Trump associates in hopes of finding enough to damage Trump’s transition — which has successfully occurred.

Unmasking is when an American is at the other end of a phone call or email from someone national intelligence is surveilling — from Russia, China, Iran, ISIS or wherever. The Americans are typically caught up in the surveillance incidentally and their names are masked because they are not a target and Americans cannot be surveilled without court warrants. Unmasking them reveals their names and often times much more personal information and is expected to be done rarely.

This is exactly the abuse of power Americans feared with domestic surveillance; that powerful politicians would use it for their advantage.

According to a chart in the National Intelligence Agency’s “Statistical Transparency Report Regarding Use of National Security Authorities” released in April, there was a 200 percent increase in unmasking of Americans last year.

The identities of 1,934 Americans were unmasked upon requests made by the Obama administration in 2016. That was nearly triple the 654 that were unmasked in 2015. Of course, 2016 was an election year.

Former FBI Assistant Director James Kallstrom said “the unmasking could be one of the biggest scandals ever in the United States.”

You’d never guess that from the utter media disinterest. No special counsel was appointed and precious little media coverage after the first round of obligatory stories.

And still more scandals…

There are still more scandals that could rise to the level of a special counsel to investigate:

  • Holder (again) was under oath before Congress when he lied about whether he had discussed or even thought about prosecuting journalists, after he had signed the order to wiretap Fox News reporter James Rosen.
  • Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper also lied to Congress about data collection on U.S. citizens, claiming under oath it was not being done. Edward Snowden’s leaks revealed it was being done on a mammoth scale.
  • The Obama administration targeted media members using the state surveillance apparatus, named Fox News reporter James Rosen a “criminal co-conspirator” under the Espionage Act of 1917 to gain access to his personal emails and phone records, and subpoenaed phone records from the Associated Press.
  • Benghazi…

Obama’s Department of Justice declined to appoint a special counsel to investigate either of these.

Total lack of Washington interest

The fact that none of these were deemed important enough to warrant special prosecutors just demonstrates how justice in Washington is an actual sham, of how the law is not equally enforced — generally when it comes to Democrats and specifically when it came to Obama.

This is driven and enabled by a dishonest media. They are not dishonest for being biased. They are dishonest by claiming they are not biased. It is not hard to imagine the media coverage had Trump done any one of these — let alone all of them. But most people barely remember any of these other than perhaps Benghazi.

Democrats will always be Democrats. They are the opposition party and in a real sense are supposed to act in opposition. Understood. But not the media.

Let’s go to Woodward, the dean of the D.C. press corps, one more time. He told MSNBC that too many members of the press are “binge drinking the anti-Trump Kool-Aid,” and that they need to “dial it back.”

But instead, they are engorging themselves on Kool-Aid and now we have a special counsel investigating something which according to a mountain of evidence did not happen, and is not a crime if it did.

A swamp, indeed.

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared in The Revolutionary Act.

Harvard Study: Media coverage of Trump’s first 100 days ‘set a new standard for negativity’

“The press is your enemy. Enemies. Understand that? . . . Because they’re trying to stick the knife right in our groin.” – President Donald J. Trump.

A new report from Harvard Kennedy School’s Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy analyzed news coverage of President Donald Trump’s first 100 days in office. The report is based on an analysis of news reports in the print editions of The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and The Washington Post, the main newscasts of CBS, CNN, Fox News, and NBC, and three European news outlets (The UK’s Financial Times and BBC, and Germany’s ARD).

Thomas E. Patterson, Bradlee Professor of Government and the Press,  in the Introduction and Methodology section of the report writes:

Trump’s dislike of the press was slow in coming. When he announced his presidential candidacy, journalists embraced him, and he returned the favor.  Trump received far more coverage, and far more positive coverage, than did his Republican rivals. Only after he had secured the Republican nomination did the press sharpen its scrutiny and, as his news coverage turned negative, Trump turned on the press.

[ … ]

The media have been fascinated by Trump since the first days of his presidential candidacy. Our studies of 2016 presidential election coverage found that Trump received more news coverage than rival candidates during virtually every week of the campaign. The reason is clear enough. Trump is a journalist’s dream. Reporters are tuned to what’s new and different, better yet if it’s laced with controversy. Trump delivers that type of material by the shovel full. Trump is also good for business. News ratings were slumping until Trump entered the arena.  Said one network executive, “[Trump] may not be good for America, but [he’s] damn good for [us].”

Read the full report of President Donald Trump’s first 100 days in office

The report found:

  1. Although journalists are accused of having a liberal bias, their real bias is a preference for the negative.
  2. Once upon a time, the “honeymoon” period for a newly inaugurated president included favorable press coverage. That era is now decades in the past. Today’s presidents can expect rough treatment at the hands of the press, and Donald Trump is no exception (see Figure 4 below). Of the past four presidents, only Barack Obama received favorable coverage during his first 100 days, after which the press reverted to form.
  3. Trump’s coverage during his first 100 days set a new standard for negativity. Of news reports with a clear tone, negative reports outpaced positive ones by 80 percent to 20 percent.
  4. Trump’s coverage was unsparing. In no week did the coverage drop below 70 percent negative and it reached 90 percent negative at its peak (see Figure 5 below).
  5. Trump’s attacks on the press have been aimed at what he calls the “mainstream media.” Six of the seven U.S. outlets in our study—CBS, CNN, NBC, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and The Washington Post—are among those he’s attacked by name. All six portrayed Trump’s first 100 days in highly unfavorable terms (see Figure 6 below).
  6. CNN and NBC’s coverage was the most unrelenting—negative stories about Trump outpaced positive ones by 13-to-1 on the two networks. Trump’s coverage on CBS also exceeded the 90 percent mark.
  7. Trump’s coverage exceeded the 80 percent level in The New York Times (87 percent negative) and The Washington Post (83 percent negative). The Wall Street Journal came in below that level (70 percent negative), a difference largely attributable to the Journal’s more frequent and more favorable economic coverage.
  8. Trump’s coverage during his first 100 days was not merely negative in overall terms. It was unfavorable on every dimension. There was not a single major topic where Trump’s coverage was more positive than negative (see Figure 7 below).
  9. Immigration was, at once, both the most heavily covered topic in U.S. news outlets and the topic that drew the most negative coverage. The proportion of negative news reports to positive ones exceeded 30-to-1.
  10. Health care reform and Russia’s election involvement were also subject to starkly negative coverage—in each case, the breakdown was 87 percent negative to 13 percent positive.

Figure 4. Tone of President’s News Coverage during First 100 Days. Sources: Stephen J. Farnsworth and S. Robert Lichter, The Mediated President (2006), p. 37 for Clinton and Bush; Center for Media & Public Affairs for Obama; Media Tenor for Trump. Percentages exclude news reports that were neutral in tone, which accounted for about a third of the reports.

Figure 5. Weekly Tone of Trump’s Coverage. Source: Media Tenor. Sunday through Saturday was the coding period for each week. Percentages exclude news reports that were neutral in tone, which accounted for about a third of the reports.

Figure 6. Tone of Trump’s Coverage by News Outlet. Source: Media Tenor, January 20-April 29, 2017. Percentages exclude news reports that were neutral in tone, which accounted for about a third of the reports.

Figure 7. Tone of Trump’s U.S. Coverage by Topic. Source: Media Tenor, January 20-April 29, 2017. Percentages exclude news reports that were neutral in tone, which accounted for about a third of the reports.

Alt-Left calls for violence against conservatives

“It is a hard to read a newspaper these days without encountering extreme rhetoric from liberals that can reasonably be construed by their followers as a call for violent action against conservatives.”

Indeed. They can’t refute us, so that assassinate our character. If that doesn’t silence us utterly, then they will move to do so physically. Here is a good summary piece from PowerLine on my adventure in Iceland last week.

“Robert Spencer Poisoned In Iceland,” by John Hinderaker, PowerLine, May 17, 2017:

I had been scheduled to attend an event tomorrow night with Robert Spencer, a prominent anti-jihadist, who was to be in Iceland until shortly before his visit to Minnesota. I got word that the event was canceled because Spencer had fallen ill, and then learned that he had, in fact, been poisoned.

Spencer describes what happened at PJ Media

Spencer was able to deliver his speech to an audience of around 500 in Reykjavik, pretty impressive for a country whose population is only around 300,000. The press didn’t cover the speech, but rather focused on a handful of protesters. But Spencer was nevertheless pleased, and went out for dinner after his appearance.

I was quickly recognized: a young Icelander called me by name, shook my hand, and said he was a big fan. Shortly after that, another citizen of that famously courteous land likewise called me by my name, shook my hand, and said “f*** you.”…

Spencer believes that the young man who claimed to be a “big fan” poisoned his drink. At the link, he reproduces a copy of the police report (which, however, is in Icelandic). Spencer thinks he has been able to identify the poisoner through video from the restaurant, Facebook, etc. He comments on the climate of violence that the Left is fomenting throughout the West:

I learned my lesson. And the lesson I learned was that media demonization of those who dissent from the Leftist line is direct incitement to violence. By portraying me and others who raise legitimate questions about jihad terror and Sharia oppression as racist, bigoted “Islamophobes” without allowing us a fair hearing, they paint a huge target on the backs of those who dare to dissent.

Those who paint the targets, and those who shoot at them, think they’re doing something great. Not only does the Left fill those whom it brainwashes with hate, but it does so while portraying its enemies as the hatemongers, such that violent Leftists such as the young man who drugged me feel righteous as they victimize and brutalize for the crime of disagreement.

He is right. It is a hard to read a newspaper these days without encountering extreme rhetoric from liberals that can reasonably be construed by their followers as a call for violent action against conservatives. Where will it all end? I don’t know. But at some point, conservatives will have no choice but to fight back.

RELATED ARTICLE: The Left in action: Icelander says “Be kind, always, to everyone,” then says to Robert Spencer “Go f**k yourself”

Bloomberg’s Everytown Creates ‘Authors Council’ to Push Anti-Gun Propaganda

As if the country’s media weren’t already sufficiently co-opted by anti-gun advocates, this week, Michael Bloomberg’s Everytown for Gun Safety announced an effort to pervert an additional facet of American entertainment. The billionaire bank-rolled interest group has developed the Everytown Authors Council. According to Bloomberg’s astroturf campaign, “The Council is designed to harness the power of the literary community to amplify the gun safety movement.”

Such efforts to influence an already biased entertainment sector are nothing new for Everytown. An April 2016 Variety article detailed how the gun control group worked hand-in-hand with writers for Netflix’s “House of Cards” to push their anti-gun agenda.

That same month, NRA-ILA’s Grassroots Alert informed readers of the extent of Everytown’s involvement in trying to distort television programming. It explained that an Everytown employee has the position of “Director of Cultural Engagement,” who, “oversees Everytown’s storytelling efforts, partnerships with the creative community and develops cultural assets that mobilize Americans to support common sense reforms…”

Much like with their efforts to pervert television, Everytown’s Authors Council will reportedly “use its collective reach and cultural influence to support common-sense solutions…” In providing comment for an Everytown press release, author Jodi Picoult seemed to express a willingness to create agitprop for the anti-gun group, stating, “It is because of this that authors are singularly suited to speak out on the need for common-sense gun laws, and to tell the stories of those who have been devastated by gun violence in this country.”

One would hope that shameless shilling on behalf of a statist billionaire would be derided in any artistic community. Unfortunately, many in America’s “creative” class appear all too willing use their “art” in service of Bloomberg’s vanity project. As such, the gun-owning public should do their best to apprise the general public of the gun control movement’s propaganda techniques, and consider their own consumption of media accordingly.

RELATED ARTICLE: From My Cold Wet Hands: Humorless Scold Targets Squirt Guns

The Temple Mount is in our Hands: The Legacy of the 1967 Six Day War

The 28th of Iyar in the Hebrew Calendar falls on May 23, 2017. It marks the 50th anniversary of the June Six Days War in 1967 that resulted in the incredibly swift victory by Israeli forces against the massed armies and air forces of the United Arab Republic led by charismatic Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser. Nasser had led the creation of the secular Pan-Arab movement encompassing Egypt, Syria, Jordan, Lebanon and Iraq. He was playing off Moscow versus Washington. He sought to ‘erase Israel from the Map of the World’ in revenge for the defeats in both the Israeli War for Independence in 1948-49 and the abortive Suez Operation in 1956 with the UK and France.

Nasser was seeking a secular socialist Arab empire. That is in sharp contrast to Israel’s current nemesis, Iran, that adopted the same slogan. It is seeking a Pan Islamic conquest of the Middle East and beyond with the aid of nuclear weapons, missiles and proxy fighters, Shiite Hezbollah in Lebanon and the Houthi in Yemen.

Nasser ratcheted up his game plan in May 1967, demanding that UNEF troops withdraw from the Sinai so that his mobilized Army could replace them. He created a causus belli with the closing the Straits of Tiran, at the mouth of the Red Sea., to Israeli navigation. That prompted US President Johnson and British Prime Minister Harold Wilson to consider forming an international  flotilla to break the impasse.  Israel’s Defense Minister Moshe Dayan and IDF Chief of Staff Yitzhak Rabin had other plans.  The country mobilized its reservists, deployed its forward forces, girded for possible action.

On the morning of June 5th, Israel launched virtually its entire air force of French made Dassault Mirage fighter bombers, Fouga close air support aircraft and US A-6 fighters in a brilliant attack from the Mediterranean Sea. It caught and destroying the Egyptian air force unawares at breakfast time. Later Syrian and Jordanian air forces would be similarly decimated. That enabled a breakthrough in Gaza and the Sinai passes that facilitated armored units reaching the Suez bypassing struggling Egyptian forces. Israeli forces in the north fought their way up and took the strategic Golan Heights from Syria aided by intelligence from Israeli spy Eli Cohen who had penetrated their military. His identity discovered he was executed in 1965, after providing Israel with key information on Syria’s forces.

What to do about Jerusalem was initially left undecided. The immediate question was what to do about the Jordanians who had occupied east Jerusalem illegally for 19 years following the 1949 Armistice. Initially concerned about the opposition it would meet from the Jordanians and in response to shelling of West Jerusalem, the decision was made on June 5th to send the 55th Parachute and Jerusalem Brigades to enter the fray. That culminated in liberating Israel’s ancient capital on the morning of June 7, 1967 with a radio message from paratroop commander Col. Mordechai “Motti” Gur, “the Temple Mount is in our Hands.” The Six Days of War ended on June 10, 1967. Israel had increased its territory by more than three times. Much of that would be returned in subsequent disengagement agreements and peace accords with both Egypt and Jordan in 1979 and 1994.

50 years later there is a legacy of unresolved issues: the question of Israel’s sovereignty over its eternal capital, the fixing of ‘secure and just’ borders under UN Security Council resolutions 242 and 338, Israel’s legal rights to “close settlements on the land” under International law, and the impasse over a possible peace agreement between the Palestinians and Israel. Also outstanding is the matter of a possible move of the existing US Embassy in Tel Aviv to Jerusalem enabled under a 1995 Jerusalem Embassy Law passed by the US Congress. However, it has been but waived every six months by four US Presidents because of ‘national security issues’, meaning resolution of the Palestinian- Israeli conflict.

On the cusp of the 50th anniversary of the June Six Days of War, President Trump is making his first major overseas trip to the Middle East and Europe starting on Friday, May 19th. His first stop will be in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia where he will be addressing a summit convened by King Salman with 50 Muslim Countries, members of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation. Separately, he will be discussing possible military aid to the Saudis and the Emirati members of the Gulf Coordination Council concerned over the threat from Iran across the Persian Gulf. He may come away from that encounter with possible proposals for reigniting the moribund peace process between the Palestinians and Israel.

His 26 hours in Jerusalem will include the first American Presidential visit to the Western Wall of the Temple Mount. He will lay a wreath at the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial and hold a private dinner with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu. Present at that dinner will be the new US Ambassador to Israel, the Hon. David Friedman, who in contrast to the President’s 2016 election campaign promises, has taken up his seat in the existing Tel Aviv Embassy and the official residence in Herziliya.

Against this background, we convened another in the periodic 1330am WEBY Middle East round table discussions hosted by Mike Bates of “Your Turn” with  Shoshana Bryen, senior director of the Washington, DC-based Jewish Policy Center and Jerry Gordon, Senior Editor of the New English Review.  The Center’s Spring 2017 Quarterly edition of inFocus, “Six Days and Fifty Years“, was devoted to a review of historical documents and analysis of the legacy of that significant conflict

Mike Bates overlooking Kotel and Dome of the Rock Mosque on Temple Mount 3-2014

Mike Bates

Mike Bates:  Good afternoon and welcome to Your Turn. This is Mike Bates. This hour is one of our periodic Middle East round table discussions and I have with me in the studio Jerry Gordon, Senior Editor of the New English Review and its blog, “the Iconoclast”. Jerry welcome.

JBG headshot 1-26-14 SMALL

Jerry Gordon

Jerry Gordon:  Glad to be back.

Bates:  And joining us by telephone Shoshana Bryen. She is Senior Director of the Jewish Policy Center in Washington. Shoshana welcome.

Shoshana Bryen 2017 headshot

Shoshana Bryen

Shoshana Bryen: Thank you Mike.

Bates: So a lot is happening in the Middle East always but this week particularly it seems like it’s even more active than usual. President Donald Trump will be visiting Israel on the eve of Jerusalem Day commemorating the liberation of Israel’s capital during the Six-Day War.  As we approach the 50th anniversary, Monday the 22nd, the President will be in Israel. Shoshana, what’s your overall take?

Bryen: Mike it’s not actually his first foreign visit because his first visit is to Saudi Arabia and I think that’s great. I’m really pleased that the President is going to go to Saudi Arabia. He is going to meet with the leaders of other Arab countries and bring that information to Israel and I think that’s terrific. The largest problem in the region is Iran. We get fixated on Palestinians but the problem is Iran. This will help them bridge some of the gaps between the Gulf State positions and the Israeli positions and could lead to very interesting things in the future.

Bates: Do you expect any activity, anything significant on the big elephant in the room and that is the Palestinian-Israeli conflict?

Bryen: No. I think the Presidents take a position saying let’s start working on this. Let’s think about this. Let’s talk about this. I don’t think you will see anything major pop up regarding the Palestinians.

Gordon: Shoshana, what is this spat that has popped up in the press between Netanyahu and Trump? How manufactured is that and really what is the background for it?

Bryen: How about a hundred percent manufactured.  The first question was, is Jerusalem in Israel? Does Israel have control over Jerusalem and somebody said no; Jerusalem is not in Israel. The White House very quickly put out a statement that saying this was “not authorized communication and comments about the Western Wall do not represent the position of the United States and certainly not of the President.” That was probably the fastest White House statement I have ever seen, so I think you have people who are trying to look for trouble and if they can’t find any they will make some. There was also another comment that didn’t quite make the same level of press. Secretary of State Tillerson said something about “Israel and Palestine.”  So the Palestinians said, “Oh wow, this is great!” Immediately Tillerson said, “No that wasn’t meant to do that.” That was a mistake. So, I don’t think the problem is with the President and I don’t think the problem is with Secretary Tillerson. I think the problem is looking for ways to embarrass the President or ways to embarrass Israel.

Bates: Many of these communication mistakes are coming from within the administration. Do you see the White House as being undisciplined?

Bryen: No, I don’t think it’s undisciplined. I think they still have an awful lot of holdover personnel particularly in the case of Israel are not going to be friends of either the President or Israel.  If it was up to me I would ask for the resignations of every single person that worked there in the prior administration.

Bates: What is the symbolism of the visit, specifically to the Western Wall? Do you anticipate and that it probably will occur, do you anticipate that Donald Trump will visit the Western Wall? If so I understand that he would be the first sitting President to do so and if he does, do you expect him to be accompanied by Prime Minister Netanyahu?

Bryen: On the first one, yes, I do think he will go to the Western Wall. I think he will set that precedent and be the first sitting President to do so. Whether he is accompanied by the Prime Minister is very hard for me to tell. By previous common understanding, American officials are accompanied by the Chief Rabbi of Israel. This is a decision that will be made by the President and the Prime Minister and you can second guess it but I won’t.

Bates: Can you give us some insight on what the pros and cons of a dual versus simultaneous visit would be? Why do it, and why not do it?

Bryen: There are people who say that if he goes with the Prime Minister of Israel who is a political figure, it’s like asserting Israeli sovereignty at that space. It’s as if the President accepts Israeli sovereignty there. There are people who don’t want that. There are people who do. There are people who will say, no, President Trump hasn’t agreed that Israel is the sovereign authority in Jerusalem. However, you can’t ignore the fact that this is the holiest place in the Jewish world and so the President has visited a holy Jewish place with a Jewish Prime Minister so you can play it either way.

Gordon: Shoshana there was a very interesting op-ed in  The Wall Street Journal by Northwestern University Law School Professor Eugene Kontorovich. He is the architect of a very successful anti-BDS law that has been passed by several states.  He drew attention to Russia’s recognition of Israel’s capital in West Jerusalem.  What were his arguments to support U.S. recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s eternal capital.

Bryen: Essentially Kontorovich said if a major power in the world can do that then the United States can do it as well and he is correct. However, the Russian statement is not as definitive or as positive I think as Kontorovich paints it in The Wall Street Journal. The Russian statement says, “We reaffirm the U.N. approved principles for a Palestinian-Israeli settlement which include the status of East Jerusalem as the capital of the future Palestinian state. At the same time, we must state that in this context we view West Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.”

The problem here is that if you see East Jerusalem as the capital of the Palestinian state in those kinds of blunt terms you are essentially making a case to re-divide the city. If you re-divide the city all the Jewish patrimony stays on the wrong side. I think the Russians were making a statement of principle. West Jerusalem for the Jews, East Jerusalem for the Palestinians, that’s probably not the best way to deal with Jerusalem. At the end of the day the Jewish people need to have access and control of Jewish holy places, so I’m not thrilled with that statement.

Bates: Do you anticipate that the United States Embassy will move to Jerusalem?

Bryen: No.

Bates: Ever? Well, maybe ever is too long a time, I mean in the next five years

Bryen: Yes, right, never. You know I don’t know about five years. I do believe the President will use the waiver this time. I would point out that President Trump used the waiver process in the case of Iran a few weeks ago to buy himself some time on the specifics of what he wanted to do with Iran.  Several people in Washington went crazy and they said,” Oh, he’s not going to get rid of the nuclear deal and he is caving on Iran.” No he wasn’t. He used it as an opportunity to have the Secretary of State and the Secretary of Defense begin pointing out other bad things Iran does. It’s not just the nuclear deal. So the waiver is a mechanism for deciding how you want to handle a sticky situation. In the case of Iran, it was well used to begin a process of pointing out that Iran is just basically a bad country.

In the case of Israel which is a friendly country and an ally, it still gives you an opportunity to push off the decision and do other things. What I want to know is, what are the other things? My greatest hope is he will use the time to talk to the Palestinians honestly about their behavior and make them understand that their behavior is incompatible with peace. If he uses it that way  – give one take one,/take one give one – he’s probably on the road to something useful.

Gordon: Shoshana, Trump met with the infamous PA President Mahmoud Abbas in the Oval Office. Among other things he criticized him for doing was paying stipends to Israeli jailed Palestinian terrorists like Marwan Barghouti and their families estimated at over four hundred million dollars annually. Are any of these funds coming from U.S. taxpayers and what evidence do we have of the Administration and Congress trying to stop such abuses?

Bryen: I must say the money that goes to terrorists does not come from U.S. distributions.  We are very clear about it because one hundred percent of our money is tied up in  projects. We have projects for economic development, improving water access, healthcare and education. We also pay Palestinian creditors certain of them directly. The United States pays the Israeli Electric Authority because the Palestinians don’t pay their bills. So U.S. money is not going to terrorists. That’s point one. Point two is that in the meantime there are bills in the House and Senate to cut off U.S. funds to the Palestinians. There is one by Texas Senator Ted Cruz, there is one by Lindsay Graham, there is corresponding legislation in the House. The issue that I see here is that if we cut off our money and we stop those programs in infrastructure, water access, and health, the Palestinian Authority is unlikely to fund them so they will wither on the vine. They will die. Maybe that’s good maybe it’s not good, those programs will go away. The Palestinian Authority will continue to use its other money – UNWRA money, EU money, Saudi, Qatari, PLO, direct tax money, any other way that they get money.  That money will continue to  go to terrorist salaries so we may be cutting off our noses here despite our faces.

Gordon: Shoshana there was news in The Wall Street Journal about a Gulf Cooperation Council plan based on the 2002 Saudi plan for recognition of Israel. Why is that a nonstarter?

Bryen: It’s a nonstarter because it’s backwards. It inverts the process. UN Resolution 242, which is the cornerstone of Israel’s security emanating from the ’67 war, requires that the Arab states go first because they were the ones who waged three wars in 1948, 1956 and 1967. They are required, according to the UN, to terminate their states of belligerency and respect the legitimacy, sovereignty and territorial integrity of all the states in the region. The only one that matters in that context is Israel. After that there are supposed to be boundaries drawn. The Saudi plan says that if Israel withdraws from all the territory it acquired in ’67 – which by the way would include the Golan Heights today.  Can you imagine what would happen if the Syrians were on the top of the Golan Heights today? If Israel would withdraw from all the territory acquired in ’67 including Jerusalem and the holy sites, the Arab peace plan says, after that, the Arabs will consider their 242 obligations. It’s backwards. It won’t do.

Bates: Are you seeing any forward progress in the peace process at all?

Bryen: What’s the peace process?

Bates: Now that’s a good question.

Bryen: Look if you are talking about Palestinians and Israelis, no there is no peace process because the Palestinians will be the last people to make concessions to Israel. They need the backup of the Arab states who pay their salaries so they will never go first. Now, if you are talking about the broader region, where Israel fits in, how the Saudis, the Emirates and Jordan feel, there  may be some movement. There is movement because the Gulf states see their primary enemy as Iran, and on that subject Israel is a potential source of assistance on intelligence,  weapons, tactics and training. There is a place for Israel in the region if you leave the Palestinians out of it for the moment.  That was the suggestion we got when President Trump stood with Prime Minister Netanyahu in Washington and it was a very good vibe. They were going to lift their eyes, they were going to look at the region, they were going to see where the spaces were for movement and I think they will still do that.

Bates: Specifically with the Palestinian issue there was a recent revision to the Hamas Charter that allegedly recognized the Israel.  People have touted it as a complete reversal of the position of the Palestinians.  Specifically, Hamas,  who previously had called for the destruction of Israel.  Their revised Charter isn’t calling for that anymore.  The Palestinians want peace.  So, if peace doesn’t happen,  it’s now the Jews’ fault.  After those headlines Hamas came back and told their people, “We said that but we didn’t really mean it.”  How do you interpret this revised Hamas Charter?

Bryen: You know what Mike? I don’t require interpretation at all. Go straight to the text of the new document.  Forget about statements afterwards. In the new document it says:

Hamas rejects any alternative to the full and complete liberation of Palestine from the river to the sea without compromising its rejection of the Zionist entity and without rejecting any Palestinian rights. Hamas considers the establishment of a fully sovereign and independent Palestinian state with its capital in Jerusalem along the lines of the June 4th, 1967 Armistice line with the return of the refugees displaced from their homes in 1949 to be the formula of national consensus.

In other words, no Israel. If the Palestinian Authority wants to talk to the Jews and if they accept a fully independent Palestinian state as a temporary measure that’s okay.  They are agreeing to accept Palestine wherever it gets liberated but “river to the sea” means all of it.  Anyone who is looking for anything else it’s not in there. It’s pretense, it’s all made it up. Hamas was making a single pitch to the Palestinian Authority saying, “If you want to negotiate with the Zionists you can, but it won’t be the end of the war.”

Bates: What is so striking about that is the new Charter is overt deception. It wouldn’t be deception at all to those who are paying attention, so why was this celebrated?

Bryen: Because people see what they want to see and hear what they want to hear and nobody who read it said any of those things. All they heard was you could have a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Jerusalem and it’s not the end of life. It’s not, it’s a stage in the destruction of Israel and I think the Israelis take that extremely seriously. You know you can’t account for people who read into these things what they want to. You really should go to the text and the text is clear.

Gordon: Shoshana, the Jewish Policy Center, where you are Senior Director published a rather interesting monograph. I commend it for our listeners to obtain a copy. It’s all about the commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the June Six-Day War, 1967. One of the more important documents included was written by the late Professor Eugene Rostov of Yale Law School who formerly was a Senior State Department Official during the Johnson Administration. He had a hand in drafting the provisions of UN Security Resolution 242. What were his basic arguments about Israel’s international legal rights for “secure and just borders” and “close settlement on the land”?

Bryen: His single most important point was the British mandate. A mandate is a mission to do something. In this case, the mandate was for the establishment in Palestine, in their historic home. The British got the mandate to do that and the Mandate called for “closed settlement on the land” by Jews.  It was an invitation to Jews to settle in Palestine. A lot of places became states in the 20th century became states because they consolidated territory by war or by political means.  There are lots of reasons the places became states, but only one place in the world is a state because the countries of the United Nations wanted to make it one. Because of the mandate; the UN invited Jews to come and live in Palestine as their national home.  The Jews relied on that promise that the UN wanted them to come to Palestine and create the national homeland for the Jewish people.

Rostov feared that if the UN and the West  betray those commitments, “it would take a long step toward dissolving the world’s community as organized by the United Nations.”

The UN didn’t give the Jews their interest in Palestine. Palestine is the return of indigenous people to their homeland.  The UN wanted it and they helped to create it and they invited the Jews and made promises to the Jews.

The third point which is a little different than the other two,  is the League of Nations and then the United Nations did not see the territories as “Arab.” They are not “Arab territories” so anyone who says the Jews “came to the Arab territories” or the UN “took Arab territories for the Jews”, this is not correct. The territories in that region have been occupied by the non-Arab Ottomans for five hundred years and in those five hundred years all kinds of people lived there. Kurds, Jews, Turkmen, Baluchi, Yazidi – all kinds of people lived there.  Israel was not created out of  “Arab land”  in the eyes of the UN.  It was created out of the remnants of an empire that was dissolved, and that strengthens the Jewish claim to the piece of land that they have or to other lands that they wish to have.

Bates: Jerry, we are rapidly approaching the 50th anniversary of the Six-Day War, June 5th through June 10th, 1967. As a result, Israel expanded their country significantly having captured the Gaza, the Golan Heights, the Sinai and the West Bank.  We understand there is a documentary that will be playing in theaters across the country on Tuesday night, May 23rd. What do you know about that documentary?

Gordon: It is a docudrama produced by CBN and it focuses on the struggle and breakthrough into Jerusalem of the 55th Parachute Brigade of the IDF headed by then Colonel Mordechai “Motti” Gur.  I want to read an excerpt out of a book about Jerusalem and the breakthrough that will give you a sense of the drama that occurred. Simon Sebeg- Montefiore’s book, Jerusalem: The Biography captures the climactic moment of liberation during the June Six days of War in June 1967.  Note this excerpt published by the National Post, “The Temple Mount is in our Hands”:

First the Israelis bombarded the Augusta Victoria ridge using napalm, the Jordanians fled. Then Israeli paratroopers took the Mount of Olives and moved down towards the Garden of Gethsemane. We occupy the heights overlooking the old city. Paratroop Commander Colonel Motti Gur told his men in a little while we will enter it the ancient city of Jerusalem where for generations we have dreamed of and striven for we will be the first to enter. The Jewish nation is awaiting our victory. Be proud and good luck.

At 9:45 a.m. the Israeli Sherman tanks fired at the Lions Gate smashing the bus that blocked it and blew open the doors. Under raking Jordanian fire the Israelis charged the gate. The paratroopers broke into the Via Dolorosa and Colonel Gur lead a group onto the Temple Mount. ‘There you are in a half track after two days of fighting with shots still filling the air and suddenly you enter this wide-open space that everyone has seen before in pictures,’ wrote Israeli Intelligence Officer Arik Ackmon, ‘and though I’m not religious I don’t think there was a man who wasn’t overwhelmed with emotion. Something special had happened.’ There was a skirmish with Jordanian troops before Gur announced over Israel radio the Temple Mount is in our hands”, hence the name of this docudrama. The docudrama portrays what occurred in the battle for Jerusalem through recreations and interviews with many of the surviving paratroopers who made that assault and liberated Jerusalem.

Bates: This docudrama that Jerry is talking about In Our Hands-The Battle for Jerusalem will be playing in Northwest Florida at the AMC Bayou 15 theatres which is on Bayou Boulevard between 9th Avenue and Davis Highway at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, May 23rd and it’s one night only.

Bates: Shoshana, speaking about the Six-Day War and specifically the capture of the Old City,  I have three questions which I will ask all at once so that you can answer them however they need to be answered. 1) Why were the Israeli forces originally forbidden from entering the Old City, 2) why did they then decide they would go into the Old City,  and  3),after capturing the Temple Mount why did they give it back?

Bryen: There are three questions that are really one question.  The answer to the big question is remember that Israel didn’t think it was going to win that war and they didn’t think the Jordanians were going to enter the war. The Israelis were telling the Jordanians from the beginning don’t do this, don’t get involved, stay home.  The Jordanians for their own reasons began shelling Western Jerusalem from Eastern Jerusalem.  But before that, if you  remember  May of 1967 the Israelis believed they were going to lose. Twenty-five years after the Holocaust they believed this could be it for the remaining Jews. Rabbis were talking about mass graves.  So the reason they didn’t want to go into the Old City was they hadn’t planned on it.  Plus,  they were afraid that it was booby-trapped and that there would be greater destruction of holy places. And number three they just didn’t think about it.

Now, by the time they got to it was clear, they had destroyed the Egyptian Air Force, they were rolling in the Sinai, they were rolling on the Golan, they were going to roll in Jerusalem so they did it. They found it was not booby-trapped. The Arabs surrendered the city with not very much destruction.

To your third question. They didn’t give it back.  What they said was,  “The mosque on the top must be ruled by Arabs, by Muslims; it is not our space. Unlike the Muslims who in ’48 and ‘49 took all the Jewish spaces and they destroyed them. Forty-seven synagogues they destroyed, not to mention the Mount of Olive Cemetery. When it was the Jewish turn they said,  “No not us. We are not going to destroy it and we are not going to rule it.”  They went to the Waqf, the Muslim o, religious authority in the city of Jerusalem, which was under the control of King Hussein of Jordan, who is the guardian of the mosques of Mecca, Medina and Jerusalem. They made a deal that religious people would take care of religious space. It’s an amazing thought that having returned to the space of the Western Wall they looked on top and they saw someone else’s religious patrimony there and they respected it.

Bates: What they got for that respect was continued violence and even the Temple Mount you say that they didn’t give it back and I suppose arguably you are right. On the other hand, it’s being managed by this Waqf and Israeli police control the entry points to the Temple Mount. Muslims, with rare exceptions when violence is feared, can enter any time they want and can pray. Non-Muslims are limited to very specific entry times from very specific entry points and are prohibited from overtly praying on the Temple Mount.

Bryen: Well that’s a quirk. Because Israel’s Rabbinate did not want people praying on the Temple Mount and the Israeli Government took that as their signal – which was the answer the government wanted; a rare case of the Rabbinate making the government’s life easier rather than harder.  The Rabbis were concerned that people could find themselves praying in the space that was originally the Holy of Holies and you can’t and that’s a religious issue. The Israeli government said the Rabbis don’t want it, the Arabs do want it so we don’t want it. I don’t know what would have happened if the Rabbis had said the opposite. I don’t know where it would have gone.

Gordon: Shoshana one of the allied problems has been that the Waqf has been the perpetrator of excavating what is the archeological Jewish provenance under the Dome of the Rock and much of that has been scattered in the debris in the City of David scree pile. That doesn’t indicate that in respect of what the Israelis did to grant control over the Dome of the Rock and the Al-Aqsa Mosque that it respects Jewish heritage there.

Bryen: The Waqf does not respect Jewish heritage and I would suggest that the Israeli government made a mistake in allowing them to do excavation. It wasn’t necessary. You must remember there is a difference between what happened in the days shortly after the Six-Day War when first there was certain euphoria because they had not expected to survive.  In those first days after the Six-Day War the Arabs of Jerusalem were not threatening people. They surrendered the city rather than have it be blown up. They worked with the Israelis. They understood that they were occupied.  Things that happened immediately thereafter were in the context of decent relations. Over time those relations didn’t stand up for exactly the reason you said. The Waqf and the Arabs do not fundamentally respect the Israeli position vis-a-vis Jerusalem at all and the Temple Mount specifically. They’re not quite as nice as they used to be.  They continue to permit the Arabs to have a great deal of leeway on the Temple Mount and perhaps they shouldn’t.

Bates: I agree with that. I was in Israel in 2014 and I had a fair amount of difficulty getting to the Temple Mount. Ultimately we did get in and had a private tour from one of the Imams which is somewhat interesting itself.  I was shocked by how exclusive it is against non-Muslims. Non-Muslims don’t have decent access to the Temple Mount.  I just find that to be incredibly unjust. If there is any point of validity to the charge of apartheid it is the Temple Mount where the Muslims have it and the infidels don’t.

Bryen: Absolutely, but the Muslims will tell you don’t need to go to the Temple Mount because you are not a Muslim.  So what difference should it make to you if you don’t have free access?

Gordon: That means that infidels or Kufr as people call them in Islam.

Bryen: Yes.

Gordon: Or Dhimmi, subjugated people under Sharia law.

Bryen: And not entitled to the same rights and privileges as Muslims.

Gordon: That’s correct.

Bryen: Which is to say Muslims can go there when they want but you don’t need to and so you can’t.

Bates: If  I may editorialize for just a moment Shoshana and Jerry, Jerusalem isn’t really a holy place for Muslims anyway. They just want it so the Jews can’t have it and their claim is that Jerusalem is the third holiest site in Islam behind Mecca and Medina. This is based on the false story that the prophet Mohammed rode the winged horse from Mecca to Jerusalem on his night journey.  They claimed that he ascended into heaven from the location of what is now the Al-Aqsa Mosque accompanied by the angel Gabriel.  The problem with that nonsensical story is obvious to those who study history and just don’t take at face value what they are told. The night journey to Jerusalem referred to in the Hadith as the farthest mosque supposedly took place in 621. However, there was no mosque in Jerusalem in 621. It was Umar bin al-Khattab who built the first mosque in Jerusalem during the Rashidun Caliphate which didn’t begin until 632  following  the death of Mohammed.  Jerusalem wasn’t conquered by Muslims until 637! The likely date for construction of the first mosque in Jerusalem was 637.  That is sixteen years after Mohammed’s night journey..  If I may be so bold as to say it, Islam’s claim to Jerusalem is a myth and not based on fact!

Bryen: There you go making sense because you are not supposed to be reading the dates of conquest and things like that. You are supposed to take it on face that this is what they say it is. It is a problem, I mean I’m laughing a little bit but I’m not laughing. They will tell you that the calendar doesn’t matter. What matters is faith and we believe this and if we believe it then you must treat it as if it’s true. Here you get to something that you will see in the political sphere as well.

It is not just religion; what they call their “narrative.” That means the history that they make up. Saeb Erekat once said that he was a Canaanite and someone said if you are a Canaanite you can’t be an Arab, because Arabs and Canaanites were different people.  He said, “ Don’t tell me what my narrative is.” In other words, don’t tell me what my truth is. My truth is whatever I make it and so you are exactly right. If the dates of construction don’t match the reality of history and we care about that you’re supposed to say, “Oh well too bad, it doesn’t. It’s the narrative.”

You find a lot in the political sphere.  This is what the Palestinian text books do. They tell you things that are not true.  They say, “That is our narrative, that is what we teach our children because that is what we want them to understand.”

Bates: My motto is “truth above all” and whichever side that truth falls on that’s where I want to be.  That’s why it bothers me so much when people tell and subsequently believe lies.

Gordon: Shoshana, Charismatic, Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser triggered the crisis that lead to his and the so-called United Arab Republics defeat in the 1967 War. What were his objectives, how did he treat the Palestinians and why does that resonate today given the Iranian threats to Israel’s existence?

Bryen: Nasser was not interested in Palestine or Palestinians. Nasser was an Arab nationalist and he had only two goals. First was to be the leader of the Pan Arab Nationalist movement and second to play Russia and the United States against one another. Yes, he wanted to destroy Israel because he thought it was important for his nationalist Pan Arab goals.  Occasionally, it was important to mention Palestinians, but the goals were always something else. The goals were always Pan Arab. How does it relate to Iran today? Iran is not Pan Arab obviously, however it is Pan Islamic and Pan Islam is a bigger and more expansive problem than Pan Arabism, but it has the same goal. It is the control of large stretches of territory and people.

Bates: And the re-establishment of an Islamic Caliphate.

Bryen: Nasser was not exactly Caliphate oriented because he was a secular nationalist. Now, the Iranians are looking for the Caliphate. ISIS is looking for the Caliphate. Al Qaeda is looking for the Caliphate.

Gordon: Erdogan is looking to create another Caliphate.

Bryen: Erdogan wants the Ottoman Empire back.

Gordon: Right.

Bates: Shoshana, you recently had the opportunity to interview Michael Oren, former Israeli Ambassador to the United States and the author of an outstanding book titled, Six Days of War – June 1967 and the Making of the Modern Middle East. What are your major takeaways from your interview with Michael Oren?

Bryen: Oren spent a fair amount of time talking about the difference between Pan Arabism and Pan Islamism.  But the biggest point he made was without the Six Day War Israel would not be the country that it is today and he means that in positive ways. The Six Day War made the borders of Israel much more defensible.  It made Jerusalem again the heart and soul not only of the State of Israel but of the Jewish people. The Six Day War brought religious freedom to Jerusalem. It gave the Jews a sense twenty-five years after the Holocaust, that they could compete in this modern world. They could live in this modern world.

What came out of that is the strategic alliance with the United States.  Plus, Israel is in the top tier of countries in terms of scientific and educational development. Other kinds of development include computers, music, agriculture and water technology.  All of that comes from the confidence to be who you are and to know that you can survive in the world. That is my favorite part of the interview which was also his biggest point.

That confidence has made Israel the only country in the modern world that has a birth rate that is above replacement. Israeli women have between three and five babies each and that is secular women. The Arab birth rate in Israel has gone down as Arab-Israeli women have more opportunities for education and professional opportunities, their birth rate has declined.  The birth rate for Orthodox Jewish women has declined for the same reason. More education, more opportunities in the secular world. The birth rate for secular Israeli women is going up and it is over three babies per woman which is more than replacement. It is the highest number in the developed world.  That is from optimism.

According to Ambassador Oren the Six Day War was itself a terrible trial of fire for the Jewish state, but what came out of it is a very positive optimistic and confident Israel which in his view and in mine can figure out how to solve their remaining problems.

Gordon: Shoshana on the back of your InFocus Spring 2017 Quarterly issue is a document you call your final thoughts entitled, “Back to the Future”. What are they?

Bryen: You cannot solve the current problems without going back to the fact that the Arab states have never ever recognized the legitimacy of Jewish sovereignty in the Middle East. To solve the problem, they have to do what they failed to do since ’48. If they do that everything else is possible.

Bates: Any closing thoughts, Jerry?

Gordon: For our listeners in Pensacola you ought to come and watch this terrific docudrama called, In Our Hands-The Battle for Jerusalem. It will be shown the AMC Bayou 15 on May 23rd, the eve of Jerusalem Day in Israel at 7 p.m.  It’s the only showing and you ought to take someone with you and go see it.

Bates: Jerry and I will both be there and we hope to see you there as well. So, thank you Jerry Gordon from the New English Review and Shoshana Bryen with the Jewish Policy Center in Washington for joining us as well. Always enjoy these Middle East round table discussions. We thank you for listening today to Your Turn on 1330 WEBY.

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared in the New English Review. Listen to the 1330am WEBY interview. Download the Jewish Policy Center, inFocus Spring 2017 Quarterly, Six Days and Fifty Years .

Eritreans top list of Muslim ‘refugees’ entering the U.S.

But, are they really persecuted refugees or are they economic migrants from yet another African country whose government is a mess?

Somali and Eritrean migrants on the run as they try to escape from a police station in Pordenone, Italy while being round up for identification.

And thus the fundamental question for us, as always, is: So why are they our problem?

I did my usual end-of-the-week look at Wrapsnet just now. If you are following my updates in the right hand side bar here at RRW, note that as of today we have admitted 44,888 refugees this fiscal year (the FY ends on September 30th).

Checking the numbers this week I was interested to see that only a little over a quarter of the 813 admitted since last Friday are Muslims.  The Syrian numbers are way down (18 of the 22 admitted this week are Muslims).  We did admit another 57 Somalis, but of the 49 Iraqis admitted, the vast majority (38) are Yezidis. There were zero Iraqi Christians admitted this past week.

I was also interested to see that our Burmese Muslim numbers are growing with 35 admitted this past week (from 5/12-5/19), but of most interest to me was the large number of Muslims admitted during the week from Eritrea (68!).

I have to admit, I’ve never really paid any attention to the flow of Eritreans to the US.  We know they are one of the larger groups flooding in to Europe mostly passing through Hillary’s failed state of Libya, but apparently our US State Department is scooping up a fair number of them as well.

They have an African “authoritarian government,” but why is that our problem? 

Eritrea and Ethiopia have been on-again, off-again at war forever.  Why is that our problem?

One of the ‘human rights’ complaints about Eritrea is its mandatory conscription to military service, so,again, why is that our problem?

Felix Horne

Indeed, many question whether the Eritreans are legitimate “refugees” or are they “economic migrants.”

“In refugee law, it can be tricky to draw the line between an economic migrant and someone who is fleeing persecution,” says Felix Horne, a researcher at Human Rights Watch. “Eritrea is the best example of that…”

Admissions of Eritreans are on the rise in the US

I explored Wrapsnet a bit to see what we have  been doing for about the last ten or so fiscal years with Eritreans and sure enough, the numbers we admit are on the rise.

In FY2008 we admitted only 251.  That number jumped to 1,571 in Obama’s first year. In 2016 it was 1,949 and, in the first seven and a half months of this fiscal year, the number stands at 1,307.

In the past week, ending this morning, we admitted 90 Eritreans and 68 of those are Muslims. That was the highest ethnic group of Muslims in the week. Are they getting “extreme vetting?”

If we continue to admit 90 a week*** for the remaining  weeks of the fiscal year, the Trump Administration could reach 3,000 by September 30th (well above any year during the Obama Administration).

Since FY2007 we admitted 16,897 Eritreans to the US.

There is a lot of useful information in the article I linked above and here from the Council on Foreign Relations if you want to learn more about the Eritrean tide spreading to Europe and America.  One of the points that jumped out at me is one we discussed, here, recently.

Note that US dollars sent out of the US economy prop up Eritrea’s economy:

Eritreans in the diaspora also contribute to Eritrea’s economic survival by sending their families remittances, which provide the country with foreign reserves and keep families afloat.

So, as Syrian and Somali refugee numbers decline slightly, we are seeing an increase in Burmese Rohingya Muslims to the US as well as the Eritreans we have featured in this post.

*** Here is the breakdown of the Eritrean refugee admissions for the week of May 12-May 19, 2017 from Wrapsnet:

Russia Special Counsel Mueller Worked with Radical Islamic Groups

Now that Robert Mueller has been appointed special counsel to investigate if Russia influenced the 2016 presidential election it’s worth reiterating his misguided handiwork and collaboration with radical Islamic organizations as FBI director. Judicial Watch exclusively obtained droves of records back in 2013 documenting how, under Mueller’s leadership, the FBI purged all anti-terrorism training material deemed “offensive” to Muslims after secret meetings between Islamic organizations and the FBI chief. Judicial Watch had to sue to get the records and published an in-depth report on the scandal in 2013 and a lengthier, updated follow-up in 2015.

As FBI director, Mueller bent over backwards to please radical Islamic groups and caved into their demands. The agency eliminated the valuable anti-terrorism training material and curricula after Mueller met with various Islamic organizations, including those with documented ties too terrorism. Among them were two organizations— Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) and Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR)—named by the U.S. government as unindicted co-conspirators in the 2007 Holy Land Foundation terrorist financing case. CAIR is a terrorist front group with extensive links to foreign and domestic Islamists. It was founded in 1994 by three Middle Eastern extremists (Omar Ahmad, Nihad Awad and Rafeeq Jaber) who ran the American propaganda wing of Hamas, known then as the Islamic Association for Palestine.

The records obtained as part of Judicial Watch’s lawsuit show that Mueller, who served 12 years as FBI chief, met with the Islamic organizations on February 8, 2012 to hear their demands. Shortly later the director assured the Muslim groups that he had ordered the removal of presentations and curricula on Islam from FBI offices nationwide. The purge was part of a broader Islamist operation designed to influence the opinions and actions of persons, institutions, governments and the public at-large. The records obtained by Judicial Watch also show similar incidents of Islamic influence operations at the Departments of Justice and State, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the Obama White House.

Here are some of the reasons provided by Mueller’s FBI for getting rid of “offensive” training documents: “Article is highly inflammatory and inaccurately argues the Muslim Brotherhood is a terrorist organization.” It’s crucial to note that Mueller himself had previously described the Muslim Brotherhood as a group that supports terrorism in the U.S. and overseas when his agency provided this ludicrous explanation. Here’s more training material that offended the terrorist groups, according to the FBI files provided to Judicial Watch: An article claiming Al Qaeda is “clearly linked” to the 1993 World Trade Center Bombing; The Qur’an is not the teachings of the Prophet, but the revealed word of God; Sweeping generality of ‘Those who fit the terrorist profile best (for the present at least) are young male immigrants of Middle Eastern appearance;’ conflating Islamic Militancy with terrorism. The list goes on and on.

Mueller’s actions have had a widespread effect because many local law enforcement agencies followed the FBI’s lead in allowing Islamic groups like CAIR to dictate what anti-terrorism material could be used to train officers. Among them are police departments in three Illinois cities— Lombard, Elmhurst and Highland Park—as well as the New York Police Department (NYPD). In the case of the Lombard Police Department, CAIR asserted that the instructor of a training course called “Islamic Awareness as a Counter-Terrorist Strategy” was anti-Muslim though there was no evidence to support it. Like the FBI, Lombard officials got rid of the “offensive” course. The NYPD purged a highly-acclaimed report that’s proven to be a critical tool in terrorism investigations after three New York Muslims, two mosques and an Islamic nonprofit filed a lawsuit.

Considering Mueller’s role in much of this, it makes him a bizarre choice to lead the heated Russia investigation. The goal, apparently, is to determine of Russia interfered in the 2016 presidential election and if President Donald Trump’s campaign colluded with Russian officials. In the Justice Department announcement, Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein describes Mueller as person who qualifies to lead the probe because he exercises a degree of independence from the normal chain of command. “Special Counsel Mueller will have all appropriate resources to conduct a thorough and complete investigation, and I am confident that he will follow the facts, apply the law and reach a just result,” according to Rosenstein.

Mark Steyn on the poisoning of Robert Spencer

“The social-justice crowd are moving toward the same point as the Charlie Hebdo killers, and for the same reason: They’re too stupid to argue.”

Yes.

Here is an excellent take on what happened to me in Iceland and its larger implications.

Mark Steyn

“The Poisoning of Robert Spencer,” by Mark Steyn, May 18, 2017:

For years now I’ve said that anti-free-speech leftists and the men who slaughtered the staff of Charlie Hebdo, shot up Lars Vilks’ event in Copenhagen, etc, are merely different points on the same continuum: They’re both in the shut-up business: both groups find it quicker and easier and more satisfying to silence you than to debate you.

There were those who found the comparison offensive – to whom I would on good-humored days grant that the two points on the same continuum were nevertheless some distance apart.

Well, they got considerably closer in Reykjavik last week.

Robert Spencer, the author of several bestselling books on Islam, a brave crusader against the dopier multiculti illusions and the proprietor of the indispensable Jihad Watch, gave a speech at the Grand Hotel, went to unwind at dinner afterwards, and was poisoned by a social-justice warrior. Here’s Robert’s account of what happened

That’s quite a sophisticated operation – a two-man team, the first a fake fan, the second a post-kiss-of-death gloater.

Before the banking crash of ’08, Iceland was flush, and celebs like Elton John were flown in for gala bashes. But it’s all quietened down a bit since then, so the Spencer event was a big deal. He drew an audience of 500 – which in a town of 125,000 and a nation of 300,000 is pretty impressive. There was lots of coverage of his visit – none of which actually quoted him or excerpted his speech or interviewed those who were interested in hearing what he had to say. Instead the media preferred to cover the few dozen protestors of his trip. In all the column inches devoted to Robert Spencer, no journalist thought to seek a comment from Robert Spencer. There are two sides to every story – except this guy’s story: he doesn’t deserve a side.

This kind of dehumanization sends a message – and the man who poisoned Robert got it loud and clear:

Those who paint the targets, and those who shoot at them, think they’re doing something great. Not only does the Left fill those whom it brainwashes with hate, but it does so while portraying its enemies as the hatemongers, such that violent Leftists such as the young man who drugged me feel righteous as they victimize and brutalize for the crime of disagreement.

I have no doubt whatsoever that whoever poisoned me in Iceland went away feeling happy over what he had done. If he told anyone what he did, I’m sure he was hailed as a hero. I’m also aware that many who read this will crow and exult in knowing that someone who hates my opposition to jihad terror and Sharia oppression made me seriously ill. This is how degenerate and evil the Left has become.

I don’t know how I’d stand up to a cocktail of Ritalin and Ecstasy. I do know there’s at least one person in my modest entourage it would kill. And I have no doubt that had the fellow in the restaurant switched on the radio the following morning and heard that Robert Spencer had died in hospital overnight he would have celebrated.

Like the guns at Singapore, the social-justice mob’s fingers are pointing in the wrong direction: They accuse their opponents endlessly of “otherization”; yet they are the ones who so deny the humanity of “the other” that it seems cool and heroic to attempt to kill a chap who gave a speech you object to – even though you never heard the speech, and, even if you had, are incapable of articulating what exactly in it you take issue with.

Douglas Murray and I noted after the tenth anniversary of the Mohammed cartoons how strangely controversial the post-event dinner has become. In Copenhagen, the restaurant panicked at the sight of the PET – the Danish security-service agents – and canceled our booking. As Douglas wrote:

Ten years ago, you could publish depictions of Mohammed in a Danish newspaper. Ten years later, it is hard for anyone who has been connected with such an act to find a restaurant in Copenhagen that will serve them dinner.

For those in Robert Spencer’s line of work, these events are undeniably stressful. There are security precautions, of course, but you never know, from the Vilks event in Copenhagen to Robert’s in Garland, Texas, whether some jihadist will succeed in breaking through. There’s a sense of relief when you exit the stage and it’s all gone off without incident. You’re looking forward to a drink and a bite to eat in convivial company. And you’re on your post-performance high, so you’re generally bonhomous when people approach professing to be fans and seeking a selfie or an autograph. And there’s three or four and they’re all around you, and you put your drink down on the table – as Douglas and I did again and again in the bar we wound up in late that night. And the fans move on, and you pick up your glass without a thought…

Robert Spencer will never do that again.

The social-justice crowd are moving toward the same point as the Charlie Hebdo killers, and for the same reason: They’re too stupid to argue. For the Islamic imperialists, debate is a largely alien concept. For the left, it’s simply too much effort. As I said here many years ago, the great appeal of multiculturalism is that it absolves you from having to know anything about other cultures: If they’re all equally valid, what’s the point? Slap on the CO-EXIST bumper sticker and off you tootle. No need to worry whether the “C” might have a bit of a problem with some of the other letters, and that indeed, if not for the “C”, you wouldn’t need a bumper-sticker admonition to CO-EXIST in the first place. But, after two generations of social engineering, of the substitution of attitudes for education, it would require too much effort to equip yourself to argue against the difficult questions a man such as Robert Spencer raises. It’s literally easier to kill him.

Not yet in the blood-lusting exultant scimitar-raising style of the decapitators of French priests. But just through whatever you’ve got in your stash that might ensure he’ll be flying out of Reykjavik by the handles. So for the moment there is still a continuum. But it’s narrowing, and will narrow still.

Get well soon, Robert.

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