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Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Dawn Eden Goldstein, "Was the Pope Wrong to Compare Refugee Centers to Concentration Camps?": Holocaust Trivialization Given a Platform by The New York Times

On Tuesday, in a speech commemorating Holocaust Remembrance Day, President Trump declared, "Today, we mourn, we remember, we pray and we pledge: Never again."

Meanwhile, in a guest New York Times op-ed entitled "Was the Pope Wrong to Compare Refugee Centers to Concentration Camps?" published on Tuesday, Dawn Eden Goldstein sought to rebuff criticism by The American Jewish Committee of Pope Francis's comparisons of migrant and refugee holding centers in Europe with Nazi concentration camps. Goldstein, who tells us that she is "a Jewish convert to Catholicism," declares:

"[A]re parallels between Europe’s treatment of migrants and the Nazis’ treatment of Jews and other persecuted populations during World War II really such a stretch? In late 2015, The Times reported that, while the migrant crisis “is no genocide,” not since the “Jews were rounded up by Nazi Germany have there been as many images coming out of Europe of people locked into trains, babies handed over barbed wire, men in military gear herding large crowds of bedraggled men, women and children.”

The situation today is no less distressing. In January, Moria saw a spate of deaths as tents collapsed under heavy snowfall at the overcrowded camp."

As regards "a spate of deaths," Goldstein provides a link to a January 30, 2017 Reuters article entitled "Third migrant dies in a week in harsh Greek camp conditions" by Karolina Tagaris, which states:

"The third migrant to perish in a week was found dead in his tent on Monday on Greece's Lesbos island, raising alarm about the grim winter conditions in overcrowded camps that critics have denounced as deplorable.

. . . .

The death at the island's Moria camp follows those of a 22-year-old Egyptian and a 46-year-old Syrian who shared a tent and died days apart. Greek media reported they had inhaled fumes from a heater, but authorities would not confirm or deny that."

As regards "tents collapsed," Goldstein provides a link to a January 11, 2017 New York Times article entitled "Wintry Blast in Greece Imperils Refugees in Crowded Camps" by Liz Alderman, where, in a caption above the article it is stated: "Freezing conditions in Europe threaten thousands of refugees and migrants. Four deaths have been attributed to the weather in the last week, according to the United Nations migration agency."

Indeed, the seven deaths in these camps are deplorable and to be regretted, but how can they be compared with the 6,000 Jews who were gassed each day at Auschwitz (not taking into account those murdered each day at the Chelmno, Belzec, Sobibor and Treblinka killing centers)? How can they be compared with the some 3,000,000 Jews who died during the Holocaust in Nazi concentration camps from gassing, starvation, disease, shooting and hanging?

Abraham Foxman wrote in a 2014 article entitled "Inappropriate Comparisons Trivialize the Holocaust":

"Now that 69 years have passed since the liberation of Auschwitz, the danger is that an overuse of words — and inapt comparisons — will contribute to a lessening of the true impact and meaning of the Holocaust.

It must be our commitment to remember and to constantly speak out against those who would trivialize, distort or deny the Holocaust and to inoculate the public against trivialization through education."

By giving a platform to Goldstein, The New York Times chose to ignore Foxman's warning.

Monday, April 24, 2017

New York Times Editorial, "Asking for Trouble on Iran": How Do You "Demonize" a Country That Stones to Death Women and Hangs Gay Men?

In an editorial entitled "Asking for Trouble on Iran," The New York Times would have us know (my emphasis in red):

"As with other foreign policy issues, the Trump administration’s approach to Iran has been full of mixed messages. Yet amid the confusion, there has been an ominous tendency to demonize Iran and misrepresent the threat it presents. This could lead to an unnecessary and risky confrontation."

Query: How is it possible to "demonize" a country that stones to death women for alleged adultery and hangs gay men? A country that savagely discriminates against Baha'is, Kurds, Sunni Muslims and Christians? A country that executes poets for "moharabeh," i.e. enmity to God? A country that leads the world in per capita executions?

The editorial continues (again, my emphasis in red):

"The administration’s various and conflicting responses to the 2015 Iran nuclear deal are a case in point. The deal, one of the Obama administration’s major triumphs, requires Iran to curb its nuclear activities in return for a lifting of economic sanctions. During the campaign, President Trump called it 'one of the worst deals I’ve ever seen' and promised to tear it up or renegotiate it if he won the election. Last week, however, a letter from Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to the House speaker, Paul Ryan, signaled Mr. Trump’s intention to stick to the deal.

The letter certified that Iran was complying with the agreement, negotiated by five world powers in addition to the United States and Iran. The International Atomic Energy Agency, which monitors the agreement with on-site inspectors and advanced technology, reached the same conclusion in its most recent report."

"[O]ne of the Obama administration's major triumphs"? Extending, by way of an unsigned agreement, Iran's nuclear breakout time from three months to one year, while conceding to Iran the right to advance its ballistic missile capabilities, is a major triumph?

More to the point, notwithstanding the assurances of John Kerry and friends that Syria's chemical weapons stockpiles had been 100 percent eliminated, we now know that this was not the case. How naive must you be to believe that Iran, Assad's abettor in crime, is scrupulously honoring the unsigned nuclear deal?

With triumphs like these, who needs failures?

By the way, this is the conclusion reached by a June 28, 2014 New York Times editorial entitled "They Said It Couldn’t Be Done," subtitled "The Fate of Syria’s Chemical Weapons":

"President Obama’s critics excoriated the deal, but they have been proved wrong. The chemical weapons are now out of the hands of a brutal dictator — and all without firing a shot."

Yeah, right.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Marwan Barghouti, "Why We Are on Hunger Strike in Israel’s Prisons": The New York Times Editorial Page Editor's Reply

In response to my prior blog item, "Marwan Barghouti, "Why We Are on Hunger Strike in Israel’s Prisons": The New York Times Again Omits the Truth," James Bennet, editorial page editor of the Times, sent me the following email:

"Dear Mr. Grossman -- As you say, we should have taken note of the specific crimes of which Marwan Barghouti was convicted. We've published an editor's note providing that information (while acknowledging our original omission). It can be found with the piece, here. Thank you for your note. Sincerely, James"

The "here" to which Mr. Bennet refers:

"Editors’ Note: April 17, 2017
This article explained the writer’s prison sentence but neglected to provide sufficient context by stating the offenses of which he was convicted. They were five counts of murder and membership in a terrorist organization. Mr. Barghouti declined to offer a defense at his trial and refused to recognize the Israeli court’s jurisdiction and legitimacy.

Marwan Barghouti, "Why We Are on Hunger Strike in Israel’s Prisons": The New York Times Again Omits the Truth

Recently, in a guest New York Times op-ed entitled "Israel’s Next War Is Always ‘Inevitable’," Larry Derfner observed:

"Hezbollah and Syria are well and truly deterred, and if Israel were to simply let them be, they would have to be crazy to strike first."

As I noted in a previous blog entry, at the bottom of the op-ed, the Times described Larry Derfner as "a journalist" and "the author of the forthcoming memoir 'No Country for Jewish Liberals.'" There was no mention by the Times that Derfner was fired by The Jerusalem Post after writing in his blog in August 2011, following a terrorist attack outside of Eilat, "...I think the Palestinians have the right to use terrorism against us..."

Well, it should come as no surprise that The New York Times is back to its old tricks today. In a guest Times op-ed entitled "Why We Are on Hunger Strike in Israel’s Prisons," Marwan Barghouti writes:

"Having spent the last 15 years in an Israeli prison, I have been both a witness to and a victim of Israel’s illegal system of mass arbitrary arrests and ill-treatment of Palestinian prisoners. After exhausting all other options, I decided there was no choice but to resist these abuses by going on a hunger strike.

. . . .

Israel has established a dual legal regime, a form of judicial apartheid, that provides virtual impunity for Israelis who commit crimes against Palestinians, while criminalizing Palestinian presence and resistance. "

At the bottom of this op-ed, we are told: "Marwan Barghouti is a Palestinian leader and parliamentarian." Needless to say, we are not told what is reported by The Jewish Virtual Library:

"On May 20, 2004, the Tel Aviv District Court convicted Barghouti of three terror attacks in which five Israelis were murdered, and also of attempted murder, membership in a terror organization and conspiring to commit a crime. He was acquitted of 33 other murders with which he was charged, because of a lack of evidence. On June 6, 2004, Barghouti was sentenced to five consecutive life terms and 40 years.

The court said in its verdict that 'Barghouti was responsible for providing the field units with money and arms….' The judges said that the attacks were sometimes 'based on instructions' from Yasser Arafat.

The court found Barghouti responsible for a June 2001 attack in Maale Adumim, in which a Greek monk was murdered, a January 2002 terror attack on a gas station in Givat Zeev, a March 2002 attack at Tel Aviv's Seafood Market restaurant, in which three people were murdered, and a car bomb attack in Jerusalem."

Barghouti is the innocent victim of Israel's apartheid justice system? Yeah, right.

On the masthead of The New York Times, we are told "Truth. It has no alternative." Perhaps this is true, except as it relates to the unrelenting campaign of the Times to smear Israel. I can only wonder if the Times would provide op-ed space to Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, who, together with his brother, perpetrated the infamous Boston Marathon Bombing...


Saturday, April 15, 2017

Nicholas Kristof, "President Carter, Am I a Christian?": Coffee in Hell With Gandhi

In his latest New York Times op-ed entitled "President Carter, Am I a Christian?," Nicholas Kristof tells us of a recent "email conversation" with Jimmy Carter. (Which of these two Israel bashers do I despise more?) Kristof asked the former president:

"One of my problems with evangelicalism is that it normally argues that one can be saved only through a personal relationship with Jesus, which seems to consign Gandhi to hell. Do you believe that?"

And Carter answered:

"I do not feel qualified to make a judgment. I am inclined to give him (or others) the benefit of any doubt."

Translation, I'm f*cked.

Which brings me to one of my favorite jokes: A man, who recently died, descends to hell and is met there by Satan. Satan says to the man, "We don't pretend that this is summer camp, but we like to provide choices to those who have come to spend eternity with us. As such, you can pick option number one..." Satan points at millions of hapless souls walking over searing hot coals. "Option number two..." Satan points at millions of sinners whose limbs are being torn apart on the rack. "Or option number three..." Satan points to a multitude of wrongdoers standing waste-deep in excrement and drinking coffee.

The new arrival thinks for a moment and declares, "The smell of that cesspit is overwhelming, but I do like to drink coffee."

"So be it," responds Satan. "A cup of coffee, please, for our friend."

An imp comes running over and pours a cup of coffee for the newcomer, who wades into the sea of sewage, whereupon an announcement is made over the intercom system: "Coffee break over, back on your heads."

Coffee? Yes, at least five cups each day. Mahatma, I'm on my way.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Thomas Friedman, "Why Is Trump Fighting ISIS in Syria?": A Question for Tom

In his latest New York Times op-ed entitled "Why Is Trump Fighting ISIS in Syria?," Thomas Friedman writes:

"This is a time for Trump to be Trump — utterly cynical and unpredictable. ISIS right now is the biggest threat to Iran, Hezbollah, Russia and pro-Shiite Iranian militias — because ISIS is a Sunni terrorist group that plays as dirty as Iran and Russia."

Friedman concludes:

"[W]here is Trump’s Twitter feed when we need it? He should be tweeting every day this message: “Russia, Iran and Hezbollah have become the protectors of a Syrian regime that uses poison gas on babies! Babies! Russia, Iran, Hezbollah, Assad — poison gas enablers. Sad.”

Do not let them off the hook! We need to make them own what they’ve become — enablers of a Syria that uses poison gas on children. Believe it or not, they won’t like being labeled that way. Trump needs to use his global Twitter feed strategically. Barack Obama never played this card. Trump needs to slam it down every day. It creates leverage.

Syria is not a knitting circle. Everyone there plays dirty, deviously and without mercy. Where’s that Trump when we need him?"

"Barack Obama never played this card"? In fact, Obama folded even before the cards were dealt.

Iran is dirty, devious and without mercy? You don't say! But here's a quick question for you, Tom. Syria did not eliminate its stockpiles of chemical weapons as we were told by John Kerry, Susan Rice and Obama's other toadies. Do you really think Iran is playing by the rules and abiding by the terms of that other Obama legacy achievement, the unsigned nuclear deal?

Go ahead, Tom, card player that you are, give us the odds!

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Larry Derfner, "Israel’s Next War Is Always ‘Inevitable’": Hezbollah and Syria Are Not Crazy?

In a guest New York Times op-ed entitled "Israel’s Next War Is Always ‘Inevitable’," Larry Derfner observes:

"Hezbollah and Syria are well and truly deterred, and if Israel were to simply let them be, they would have to be crazy to strike first."

Got it: Hezbollah and Syria (that is to say, what is left of Syria) are not crazy. It obviously doesn't matter to Derfner that Syria's Assad is a mass murderer and a war criminal willing to gas his own people, as per those hotbeds of right wing thinking, New Republic and The New Yorker.

It also doesn't matter if Hezbollah's head, Nasrallah, has repeatedly called for the annihilation of Israel in his rabidly anti-Semitic diatribes. After all, sticks and stones can break my bones, but words will never hurt me. (Now if only you could tell that to the Jews in Europe who refused to believe what Hitler wrote in Mein Kampf.) Moreover, a rational Nasrallah would of course never launch his 100,000+ missiles at Israel's ammonia plant in Haifa and its nuclear facility in Dimona, notwithstanding his threats to the contrary. And even if instructed to do so by his masters in Tehran, who are also sane, notwithstanding their savage persecution of Kurds, Sunni Muslims, Baha'is, Christians and homosexuals and calls to annihilate Israel, Nasrallah would refuse, notwithstanding the fact that he sent his fighters to be slaughtered in Syria's civil war at Iran's behest.

Yeah, right.

Larry Derfner? At the bottom of the Times op-ed we learn that "Larry Derfner, a journalist, is the author of the forthcoming memoir 'No Country for Jewish Liberals.'" No mention by the Times that Derfner was fired by The Jerusalem Post after writing in his blog in August 2011, following a terrorist attack outside of Eilat (my emphasis in red):

"But if, on the other hand, we were to say very forthrightly what many of us believe and the rest of us suspect – that the Palestinians, like every nation living under hostile rule, have the right to fight back, that their terrorism, especially in the face of a rejectionist Israeli government, is justified – what effect would that have? A powerful one, I think, because the truth is powerful. If those who oppose the occupation acknowledged publicly that it justifies Palestinian terrorism, then those who support the occupation would have to explain why it doesn’t. And that’s not easy for a nation that sanctifies the right to self-defense; a nation that elected Irgun leader Menachem Begin and Lehi leader Yitzhak Shamir as prime minister.

But while I think the Palestinians have the right to use terrorism against us, I don’t want them to use it, I don’t want to see Israelis killed, and as an Israeli, I would do whatever was necessary to stop a Palestinian, oppressed or not, from killing one of my countrymen. (I also think Palestinian terrorism backfires, it turns people away from them and generates sympathy for Israel and the occupation, so I’m against terrorism on a practical level, too, but that’s besides the point.) The possibility that Israel’s enemies could use my or anybody else’s justification of terror for their campaign is a daunting one; I wouldn’t like to see this column quoted on a pro-Hamas website, and I realize it could happen."

Derfner subsequently removed the post and apologized, saying in part:

"My intention was to shock people into recognition, but I ended up shocking many of them into revulsion, and twisting what I wanted to say into something I didn’t and don’t mean at all."

All of which raises the question what it takes to get a guest opinion piece published by The New York Times. If you are Jewish, or better still Israeli, and write something horrible about Israel, does this increase your chances exponentially? As pointed out by Israeli ambassador to the US Ron Dermer and by others, it sure seems this way.

Monday, March 13, 2017

The Fed Opts for Suicide

Have a look at the US Debt Clock, which informs us that US national debt is just a hair under $20 trillion and growing by the second. US total debt now stands at more than $825,000 per family. Yup, that's unsustainable.

As reported by The New York Times in a lead article entitled "Trump Wants Faster Growth. The Fed Isn’t So Sure." by Binyamin Appelbaum:

"Mr. Trump and Janet L. Yellen, the Fed’s chairwoman, appear to be headed toward a collision, albeit in slow motion. Mr. Trump has said repeatedly that he is determined to stimulate faster growth while the central bank, for its part, is indicating that it will seek to restrain any acceleration in economic activity.

On Wednesday, the Fed plans to make a first move in the direction of restraint. The central bank has all but announced that it will raise its benchmark interest rate at the conclusion of a two-day meeting of its policy-making committee."

Raise interest rates and slow the economy? Not a bad idea if national debt was significantly less than $20 trillion; however, given what it is, higher interest rates mean a slowing of US government income from taxation and higher amounts of interest to be paid on American debt, thereby compounding the problem.

Plain and simple, the Fed has opted for suicide.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

New York Times Editorial, "Israel Says Dissenters Are Unwelcome": More Israel Bashing

I sent the following email to Liz Spayd, the public editor of The New York Times, today. Let's see if she responds.

Dear Ms. Spayd,

Editorial Headline: "Israel Says Dissenters Are Unwelcome"
Date Published: March 9, 2017

My Concern: This editorial already needed to be corrected on March 10 ("An earlier version of this editorial incorrectly stated the United States’ position on settlement building in the occupied territories. It has been highly critical of the activity, but has not consistent [sic] held it to be illegal."), which in and of itself is indicative of the Times's bias and further evidences the Times's preoccupation with and hostility to Israel.

More to the point, the editorial states:

"No doubt there are haters of Israel among B.D.S. supporters. But there are also many strong supporters of the Israeli state, including many American Jews, who ardently oppose the occupation of the West Bank and who boycott products of the Israeli settlements in occupied territories."

"Many strong supporters of the Israeli state" among B.D.S. supporters? Excuse me, but where are the facts to back up this claim?

And if there are haters of Israel among B.D.S. supporters, shouldn't the Times provide data explaining whether these "haters" compromise the majority or even an overwhelming majority of B.D.S. supporters/leaders?

And shouldn't the Times examine whether the B.D.S. movement has been known to publish falsehoods and disseminate grotesque anti-Semitic remarks?

And shouldn't the Times have noted that there has not been a new Israeli settlement in almost 20 years, and that whereas existing settlements have grown, territorial swaps involving existing settlements have been a principle underlying all negotiations between the Palestinian Authority and Israel?

As reported by The Jerusalem Post on December 7, 2016:

"[Angela Merkel's Christian Democratic Union] likened BDS to the National Socialists who boycotted Jews in the 1930s. BDS dresses up antisemitism in the 'new clothes of the 21st century' as anti-Zionism, the party said.

'The German CDU declares with this motion its disapproval and rejection of every form of BDS activity and condemns these activities as antisemitic. The CDU will decisively oppose every hostile action that Israel faces. The CDU professes its deep friendship toward Israel and continues to work toward a peaceful solution to the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians,' the resolution read."

I would appreciate your thoughts on this matter, but first, as a favor, I would be extremely grateful if you might be willing to read the following article that I recently published, "New York Times Editorial, "Donald Trump’s Answer to Anti-Semitism? You Don’t Want to Know": Look Who's Talking!"


Friday, February 17, 2017

New York Times Editorial, "Donald Trump’s Answer to Anti-Semitism? You Don’t Want to Know": Look Who's Talking!

In an editorial entitled "Donald Trump’s Answer to Anti-Semitism? You Don’t Want to Know," The New York Times derides President Trump's response at a news conference with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to a question concerning "the rise of anti-Semitic incidents in the United States." The Times would have us know:

"For a normal American politician, the moment offered a perfect opportunity for a home run. Condemn the behavior and make a sincere pledge to do everything possible to stop it. There is no question that hate crimes and malicious speech have accelerated since the presidential campaign, with Jews among the prime targets. The Anti-Defamation League says anti-Semitic talk in the United States has reached levels unseen since the 1930s. And there have been bomb threats against Jewish centers across the country."

Got it: The Trump presidential campaign is to blame for the heightened level of anti-Semitic talk in the US, and the Times is innocent of any involvement in the reawakening this horrifying phenomenon. Rubbish!

As Dr. Phyllis Chesler wrote in a July 2014 article entitled "Incitement to Genocide: How NY Times' Coverage and UN Complicity Breed Anti-Semitism":

"The twenty-first century coverage of Israel and Zionism in the paper of record far exceeds its twentieth century pattern of mere dismissal. In the last fourteen years—in the last year-- in article after article, photograph after photograph, and especially when Israel has been under attack, this paper has systematically put forth an Islamist and pro-Hamas agenda with malice aforethought. If not 'malice,' then the level of willful journalistic ignorance and blindness is hard to believe."

New York Times double standards involving Israel? As observed by CAMERA in 2014:

"We found that 6 out of 7 NYT editorials addressing the Arab-Israeli conflict were negative toward Israel, while none were positive. Opinion columns by NYT staff followed the same pattern of condemning Israel: 5 out of 6 were negative toward Israel, while none were positive. As for invited Op-Eds on the topic, 15 out of 20 were negative toward Israel, while only one was positive."

You might also want to have another look at Ron Dermer's December 2011 letter to The New York Times, denouncing perpetual criticism of Israel by the Times:

"I discovered that during the last three months (September through November) you published 20 op-eds about Israel in the New York Times and International Herald Tribune. After dividing the op-eds into two categories, 'positive' and 'negative,' with 'negative' meaning an attack against the State of Israel or the policies of its democratically elected government, I found that 19 out of 20 columns were 'negative.'"

More evidence of anti-Semitism at the Times? Perhaps you recall New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman's declaration:

"I sure hope that Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, understands that the standing ovation he got in Congress this year was not for his politics. That ovation was bought and paid for by the Israel lobby."

Then there was Roger Cohen's New York Times op-ed "Obama in Netanyahu's Web," whose title was painfully in keeping with the anti-Semitic tradition of depicting Jews as voracious spiders. As Andrew Rosenthal, who was then editorial page editor of the Times, later acknowledged to me, this "was not a good headline."

In addition, let's not forget the retweet of a message by Nicholas Kristof, referring to AIPAC as one of "the 2 Most Pig Like Lobbies" (see: "Nicholas Kristof Retweets "OBAMA Told the 2 Most Pig Like Lobbies, AIPAC & NRA, to Drop Dead in Same Month": Is Kristof an Anti-Semite?"). We never received an explanation concerning this abomination from Nick, who soon thereafter took book-writing leave from the Times. Nicholas Kristof and anti-Semitism? You might want to have at look at my article entitled "Nicholas Kristof, Israel, and Double Standards" in The Journal for the Study of Antisemitism.

In this regard, the US Department of State writes (my emphasis in red):

EXAMPLES of the ways in which anti-Semitism manifests itself with regard to the state of Israel, taking into account the overall context could include:

  • Using the symbols and images associated with classic anti-Semitism to characterize Israel or Israelis

  • Drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis

  • Blaming Israel for all inter-religious or political tensions

And as noted today, in an Algemeiner article entitled "New York Times Uses Antisemitic Imagery to Describe Israeli Academy" by Ira Stoll:

"The New York Times has an article about Beit El, a West Bank settlement that has been supported by David Friedman, who is President Trump’s nominee to be ambassador to Israel.

'The yeshiva complex is a multitentacled enterprise,' the Times reports.

Tentacles? When the National Rifle Association’s magazine depicted Mayor Michael Bloomberg of New York on its cover as an octopus, the Times described it in a headline as 'an Anti-Semitic Symbol,' noting, accurately, that “the image has been used in anti-Semitic propaganda, from the Nazis to the modern Arab world.” Now it is the Times portraying religious Jews in Israel using the same negative imagery."

Finally, let's also not forget the persistent willingness of New York Times "moderators" to permit the publication of vulgar expressions of anti-Semitism (see: "Why Is Antisemitism Permitted in Online Comments "Moderated" by The Times? Open Letter No. 2 to Clark Hoyt, Public Editor of The New York Times").

Bottom line: Left-wing anti-Semitism is no better than right-wing anti-Semitism, and the Times indeed helped lay the groundwork for the current groundswell of anti-Semitism in America.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Maureen Dowd, "Trump’s Gold Lining": Sales of Female Pelvic Protectors Skyrocket

In her latest New York Times op-ed entitled "Trump’s Gold Lining," Maureen Dowd informs us that Donald's election has reinvigorated the Times's circulation stats:

"Every time our daft new president tweets about the 'failing' New York Times, our digital subscriptions and stock price jump, driven by readers eager for help negotiating the disorienting Trumpeana Oceana Upside Down dimension rife with gaslighting, trolling, leaking, lying and conflicts."

Well, the Times is not alone in reaping the economic benefits of the Trump presidency. My understanding is that sales of pelvic protectors for female genitalia are going through the roof among women visiting the White House, given Trump's leaked "grab them by the pussy" declaration.

Will federal taxes on profits from the sale of female pelvic protectors make a dent in America's $20 trillion debt, i.e. some $808,000 per family, thereby making America great again?

Will America devolve into a dystopian Clock Work Orange society in which pelvic protectors are de rigueur?

Back to my dogs, who are impatiently waiting for a walk.

Friday, February 10, 2017

David Brooks, "A Gift for Donald Trump": Fraternity? How About a Slice of Moose Turd Pie?

In his latest New York Times op-ed entitled "A Gift for Donald Trump," David Brooks tells of the gift he would like to bestow upon Donald Trump. Brooks concludes:

"So, upon reflection, the gift I would give Trump would be an emotional gift, the gift of fraternity. I’d give him the gift of some crisis he absolutely could not handle on his own. The only way to survive would be to fall back entirely on others, and then to experience what it feels like to have them hold him up.

. . . .

I doubt that Trump will develop a capacity for fraternity any time soon, but to be human is to hold out hope, and to believe that even a guy as old and self-destructive as Trump is still 0.001 percent open to a transformation of the heart."

Fraternity? Heck, David, the man suffers from a severe narcissistic personality disorder and is incapable of change. That being the case, I would personally prefer to give the gift that keeps on giving: A freshly baked, steaming hot, moose turd pie (click on the link and listen, if you're in need of a laugh - we all are, these days).

And I would like to invite Barack, Hillary and Bill to the banquet, provided, of course, that I didn't run afoul of the Foreign Gifts and Decorations Act.

Back to my broccoli and dogs ...

Saturday, February 4, 2017

New York Times Editorial, "A Poison Pill for the Recovery": Alternative Facts

In an editorial entitled "A Poison Pill for the Recovery," The New York Times attacks Donald Trump's order yesterday to roll back Dodd-Frank. Don't misunderstand me: Trump's directive is a disaster in the making, but let's take a closer look at the Times editorial, which continues to pay homage to Obama:

"[Donald Trump] has been lucky enough to inherit an economy that added 11.5 million jobs during President Obama’s tenure, the fourth-highest tally of the 12 administrations in the post-World War II era. There is, of course, much work still to be done: Growth in wages is not yet strong, and too many people are able to find only part-time work. But the foundation on which to build — economic growth, financial stability, monthly job tallies and low unemployment — is firm."

Ah yes, "the foundation on which to build" ...

But now consider what Andrew Soergel had to say in a July 16, 2015 U.S. News & World Report article entitled "Where Are All the Workers?":

"Americans are actually trickling out of work at an alarming rate. The country's labor force participation rate – which measures the share of Americans at least 16 years old who are either employed or actively looking for work – dipped last month to a 38-year low, clocking in at an underwhelming 62.6 percent.

Unemployed individuals who haven't actively looked for a job in the last four weeks, for any number of reasons, actually slip away from the Labor Department's unemployment calculations. So although the unemployment rate ticked down to a seven-year low of 5.3 percent in June, that number didn't do justice to the 640,000 individuals who exited the labor market last month and the nearly 94 million people who were neither employed nor looking for work."

Also consider that Obama left the United States with a crippling national debt of $20 trillion, or some $800,000 per family. Moreover, seven percent of that debt is held by China, a country with respect to which Trump's chief strategist Steve Bannon declared in March 2016:

"We’re going to war in the South China Sea in five to 10 years, aren't we. There’s no doubt about that."

Do you laugh or cry? Me? I'm headed back to my dogs and vegetable garden.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

David Ignatius, "What does Israel want from America?": What Ignatius Isn't Telling Us

You will recall that in a March 31, 2015 Washington Post opinion piece  entitled "Deal or no deal, the Iran talks have borne fruit," David Ignatius wrote:

"Whatever the endgame produces, it’s useful to focus on the process of negotiation itself, which is nearly as important as whether there’s a sustainable deal.

First, there is the fact of U.S.-Iranian engagement. For more than 18 months, Iran has been in direct talks with a power it once demonized as the 'Great Satan.' Iranian hard-liners certainly remain, but the nation that chanted in unison 'Death to America' is probably gone forever."

When I sent emails to Ignatius and provided evidence that he was wrong, he wrote back to me and declared:

"You miss my point entirely. What I said was that the NATION will never again chant it in UNISON. There will still be fanatical hardliners but they are beginning to be outliers."

Well, as we were informed last month by Majid Rafizadeh in a Gatestone Institute article entitled "Iran to Trump: Death to America Will Live On":

"Ideologically speaking, Iran's hardliners, primarily Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and senior officials of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) who enjoy the final say in Iran's domestic and foreign policies, have made it clear that Iran will not change the core pillars of its religious and revolutionary establishment: Anti-Americanism and hatred towards the 'Great Satan' and the 'Little Satan', Israel.

Supporters of Ayatollah Khamenei and the IRGC enthusiastically shouted 'Death to America' in response to a recent speech that Khamenei gave, applauding the 1979 hostage-taking and takeover of the US Embassy in Tehran.

Iran's major state newspapers carried anti-American headlines this week, quoting the Supreme Leader. In his latest public speech to thousands of people, which was televised via Iran's state TV, Khamenei made it clear that Trump's presidency will cause 'no difference' to Iran-US relationships. Khamenei pointed out that, 'We have no judgment on this election because America is the same America'. In his speech, Khamenei attacked President-elect Donald Trump and the American people. The Ayatollah called the US election 'a spectacle for exposing their crimes and debacles.'"

I missed Ignatius's point entirely? Yeah, right.

In any event, Ignatius is back again today with more rubbish in a Washington Post opinion piece entitled "What does Israel want from America?" Ignatius would now have us know:

"President Trump’s embrace of Israel poses an unlikely dilemma for leaders of the Jewish state: They have to decide what they want from America, and on that question, there’s sharp disagreement.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu moved to seize the Trump moment Tuesday by announcing that Israel plans to construct 2,500 housing units in West Bank settlements. Just two days before, he and Trump had what the new president called a 'very nice' phone conversation. 'We’re building — and will continue to build,' an emboldened Netanyahu proclaimed Tuesday."

But what isn't Ignatius telling us? As reported today in a Jerusalem Post article entitled "Israel Announces Plans to Build 2,500 New West Bank Housing Units" by Herb Keinon:

"Most of the new units will be inside the major settlement blocs, with [Israeli Defense Minsiter Avigdor] Liberman saying that only 106 are outside the blocs.

. . . .

Liberman said that, in parallel to these moves, he will bring for the security cabinet’s approval plans to establish a Palestinian industrial zone near Tarkumiya, south of Hebron. According to the statement, this will be one of the largest industrial areas in the territories."

Or stated otherwise, the overwhelming majority of the new units are inside existing settlement blocs that will remain with Israel in any deal involving land swaps.

And then there is that small matter of a new Palestinian industrial zone, which Ignatius fails to mention.

Yes, I know, these are inconvenient truths, and I am hardly surprised that they don't find expression in Ignatius's op-ed.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Donald Trump's Inauguration: Alternative Facts for an Alternative Universe

Kellyanne Conway, adviser to President Donald Trump, gave birth to a new sound bite, i.e. "alternative facts," when justifying White House press secretary Sean Spicer's declaration on Saturday that "this was the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration, period, both in person and around the globe."

In fact, Spicer was correct, period ... if you include the protesters. Apparently unbeknownst to Washington Post Fact Checker Glenn Kessler, "Facts are in the mind of the beholder."

Alternative facts for an alternative universe.

And now back to my dogs and my vegetable garden.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

New York Times Editorial, "The Untimely Death of an Iranian Pragmatist": Duplicitous or Just Plain Stupid?

In an editorial entitled "The Untimely Death of an Iranian Pragmatist," The New York Times writes about the passing of Iran's Ayatollah Rafsanjani:

"The death on Sunday of Ayatollah Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani has increased this uncertainty. A moderate in Iran’s factional political struggles, Ayatollah Rafsanjani worked hard to soften its anti-Americanism and encourage constructive engagement with the West."

Rafsanjani "worked hard ... to soften Iranian anti-Americanism? Fascinating. But consider what Michael Rubin writes in a Washington Examiner article entitled "Deceased Iranian President Rafsanjani was no moderate":

"Rafsanjani was a master strategist and an initiator of Iran's game of good cop-bad cop, but he was no moderate. He was well known for his corruption, affluence, and commitment to the Islamic Republic's genocidal ideology.

He was the father of the Islamic Republic's nuclear weapons program, having lobbied for it while chairman of parliament and then worked, alongside Hassan Rouhani, then-secretary of the Supreme National Security Council, to divert the peace dividend that Iranians might have enjoyed following the end of the Iran-Iraq War, channeling it instead into a covert nuclear weapons and ballistic missile program. For Rafsanjani, deterrence may not have been the end goal. On Dec. 14, 2001, for example, he suggested that Iran could use nuclear weapons to eradicate Israel, arguing that Iran had the strategic depth to absorb any second strike."

And as the Islamic Republic News Agency reported on July 6, 2015 in an article entitled "Rafsanjani: Forged Israeli regime to be wiped-off map one day":

"The chairman of the Expediency Council made the comment in an interview with Al Ahd news website affiliated to the Lebanese Hezbollah Movement.

In response to a question why the Zionist regime has done its best to prevent the path for reaching a nuclear agreement between Iran and the West, Ayatollah Rafsanjani said that even Tel Aviv knows well that Iran is not after acquiring nuclear weapons.

'By doing so the Zionist wish to keep Iran engaged in problems permanently, knowing that the Islamic Republic's political, economic, cultural and propagation status will all improve after such an agreement,' he said.

Asked about the future of the Palestinian nation, Rafsanjani said that he still believes that eventually one day the forged and temporary Israeli entity, which is an alien existence forged into the body of a nation and a region be wiped off the map."

Concerning Rafsanjani's attitude toward the US, have a look at Ali Alfoneh and Reuel Marc Gerecht's January 9, 2017 article entitled "The Death of Ali Akbar Hashemi-Rafsanjani, a Machiavellian Prince" in The Weekly Standard:

"In the mid-1980s, Rafsanjani directed the Lebanese Hezbollah to engage in the hostage-taking of Americans and Europeans; with Rouhani again his point man, he used the hostages to acquire arms and spare parts from the United States. In his published daily journal, Rafsanjani mused over America's 'helplessness.'

Following the end of the war in 1988, and the death of Khomeini in 1989, Rafsanjani engineered Khamenei's succession as the Guardian Jurist. Lacking charisma and a clerical network, Khamenei seemed harmless and dependent. For a time, the arrangement worked: Rafsanjani got the credit for post-war reconstruction and the initiation of the then-secret nuclear-weapons program, while Khamenei remained a figurehead."

Rafsanjani also refused to countermand the death decree against author Salman Rushdie.

Rafsanjani was a moderate or pragmatist? Road apples!

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Maureen Dowd, "White House Red Scare": Pre-Traumatic Stress Disorder

You can usually count on Maureen Dowd for a few laughs, at least when she's not visiting Saudi Arabia, and in her latest New York Times op-ed entitled "White House Red Scare," she doesn't disappoint. Informing us that with the advent of Trump, Washington "is suffering pre-traumatic stress disorder,"Dowd observes:

"Can you imagine a scenario where two Republicans in a row lose the popular vote but win the White House with a shady helping hand? Can’t the G.O.P. win fair and square? Was it the Russians who turned Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania truly red?"

And all this while, I thought it was Comey.

The Russians turned Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania? Nah. In fact, I think it had more to do with the fact that only 11 percent of voters thought Hillary was honest and trustworthy. Or stated otherwise, the Republican party all but gave the Democrats the election by nominating Trump, but the Democratic leadership dropped the ball.

Speaking of balls dropping, did you happen to be in Times Square on New Years Eve and watch the ball drop? I wasn't there. You see, I'm waiting for another ball to drop, and sorry, progressives, it has absolutely nothing to do with my advancing age.

Do you recall Obama telling us on July 3, 2008:

"The problem is, is that the way Bush has done it over the last eight years is to take out a credit card from the Bank of China in the name of our children, driving up our national debt from $5 trillion for the first 42 presidents - #43 added $4 trillion by his lonesome, so that we now have over $9 trillion of debt that we are going to have to pay back -- $30,000 for every man, woman and child. That's irresponsible. It's unpatriotic."

Well, America's national debt now stands at $19.94 trillion (more than $61,000 for every man, woman and child), and it is rising by the second. When does it hit $20 trillion? Any day now, and when that ball drops and the US dollar effectively becomes toilet paper, we can silently watch as Washington bureaucrats, who should be suffering from "pre-traumatic stress disorder" from this one Obama legacy that can't be voted away, attempt to paper over the mess.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Griff Witte, "Israeli settlements grew on Obama’s watch. They may be poised for a boom on Trump’s.": Witless

In a Washington Post article entitled "Israeli settlements grew on Obama’s watch. They may be poised for a boom on Trump’s.," Griff Witte writes of Israeli West Bank construction "in these sacred, militarily occupied hills [almost makes you want to cry]":

"[E]very day they become a more entrenched reality on land that Palestinians say should rightfully belong to them. As the parched beige hilltops fill with red-tiled homes, decades of international efforts to achieve a two-state solution are unraveling.

. . . .

Today, about 400,000 Israelis live in approximately 150 settlements scattered across the West Bank. That’s up from fewer than 300,000 when Barack Obama was elected. An additional 200,000 Israelis live in East Jerusalem, which Palestinians want as their future capital."

However, as observed last week in a Washington Post editorial entitled "On Israel, we’re right back where Obama started" (my emphasis in red):

"In fact, the two-state solution remains entirely viable, as even the settlement statistics cited by Mr. Kerry demonstrate. The administration asserts that the Jewish population in the West Bank has increased by 100,000 since 2009 — but by Mr. Kerry’s account, 80 percent of that growth was in areas Israel would likely annex in any settlement. In eight years, 20,000 people have been added to communities in territory likely to become part of Palestine — an area where 2.75 million Arabs now live. That growth of about 3 percent per annum, the product of a restraint for which Mr. Netanyahu received no White House credit, means that the Jewish population outside Israel’s West Bank fence may have decreased as a percentage of the overall population even as Mr. Obama and Mr. Kerry have made it the focal point of U.S. policy."

Similarly, Rick Richman wrote in a December 28, 2016 Commentary article entitled "It’s Not the Settlements, Stupid":

"The figure of 100,000 sounds significant until you realize that 80 percent of it has been in the settlement blocs 'everyone knows' Israel will retain in any conceivable peace agreement. The 20,000 person increase east of the separation barrier, established to stop the wave of Palestinian mass murders against Israelis, translates into less than one percent of the population in the disputed territories, over a period of eight years."

Witte also fails to take into account what was acknowledged by Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat: Israeli settlements have been built on only some 1.1% of the West Bank. Additionally, he does not make mention of past Israeli evacuations of Sinai and Gaza.

Witte goes on to say:

"'Everyone who talks about a Palestinian state today knows it will not happen,' said Naftali Bennett, Israel’s education minister and leader of the right-wing Jewish Home party.

. . . .

It’s not clear whether Netanyahu will be willing to go as far as his education minister, an ally at times but a fierce rival at others. Netanyahu is still on record supporting a two-state solution, albeit grudgingly."

Netanyahu supports a "two-state solution, albeit grudgingly"? Netanyahu last month declared on 60 Minutes:

"I’m willing to negotiate with [the Palestinian Authority] at any moment. I haven’t reversed my position. I’ve said, ‘Look, we will solve this because we want two nation states at peace and with the proper security arrangements.’ Two states for two peoples…. that’s where I’m focused."

And whereas Witte is happy to quote Bennett, he avoids mention of the position taken by Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman, who lives on the West Bank and has stated "I even agree to vacate my settlement if there really will be a two-state solution." More recently, as reported by The Times of Israel in a November 16, 2016 article entitled "Liberman open to building freeze outside settlement blocs," this right-wing firebrand said that he is "ready to freeze building outside the blocs in exchange for an American agreement to expand settlement building in Efrat, Ma’ale Adumim and other areas widely expected to remain under Israeli sovereignty in the event of a future peace deal."

Bottom line: Witte's "news" item is devoid of balance, but why should we be surprised?

Monday, January 2, 2017

Paul Krugman, "America Becomes a Stan": What About the Clintons, Rosatom and Uranium One?

In his latest New York Times op-ed entitled "America Becomes a Stan," Paul Krugman would have us know that "America is rapidly turning into a stan." Claiming that James Comey's "intervention almost surely swung the election," Krugman writes (my emphasis in red):

"I know that many people are still trying to convince themselves that the incoming administration will govern normally, despite the obviously undemocratic instincts of the new commander in chief and the questionable legitimacy of the process that brought him to power.

. . . .

Everything we know suggests that we’re entering an era of epic corruption and contempt for the rule of law, with no restraint whatsoever.

. . . .

People tend to forget how much of the 2016 playbook had already been used in earlier years. Remember, the Clinton administration was besieged by constant accusations of corruption, dutifully hyped as major stories by the news media; not one of these alleged scandals turned out to involve any actual wrongdoing."

Give me a break! Obama was Mr. Clean? Have another look at his real estate deal with Tony Rezko.

"[T]he questionable legitimacy of the process that brought [Trump] to power"? Care to be more explicit, Paul? Comey? Russian hacking? The electoral system?

None of the Clinton administration's scandals "turned out to involve any actual wrongdoing"? Oh really? What about Monica Lewinsky, or was this just a "vast right-wing conspiracy," as Hillary told the nation. In fact, Bill was disbarred from practicing law before the Supreme Court.

Let's get real. Hillary was not elected because she was distrusted, and rightfully so. She lied about her emails, and the Clinton Foundation took donations from countries just as bad as the "stans." Moreover, as reported in an April 23, 2015 New York Times article entitled "Cash Flowed to Clinton Foundation Amid Russian Uranium Deal" concerning Rosatom's acquisition of Uranium One," Jo Becker and Mike McIntire wrote (my emphasis in red):

"At the heart of the tale are several men, leaders of the Canadian mining industry, who have been major donors to the charitable endeavors of former President Bill Clinton and his family. Members of that group built, financed and eventually sold off to the Russians a company that would become known as Uranium One.

Beyond mines in Kazakhstan that are among the most lucrative in the world, the sale gave the Russians control of one-fifth of all uranium production capacity in the United States. Since uranium is considered a strategic asset, with implications for national security, the deal had to be approved by a committee composed of representatives from a number of United States government agencies. Among the agencies that eventually signed off was the State Department, then headed by Mr. Clinton’s wife, Hillary Rodham Clinton.

As the Russians gradually assumed control of Uranium One in three separate transactions from 2009 to 2013, Canadian records show, a flow of cash made its way to the Clinton Foundation. Uranium One’s chairman used his family foundation to make four donations totaling $2.35 million. Those contributions were not publicly disclosed by the Clintons, despite an agreement Mrs. Clinton had struck with the Obama White House to publicly identify all donors. Other people with ties to the company made donations as well.

. . . .

The path to a Russian acquisition of American uranium deposits began in 2005 in Kazakhstan, where the Canadian mining financier Frank Giustra orchestrated his first big uranium deal, with Mr. Clinton at his side.

The two men had flown aboard Mr. Giustra’s private jet to Almaty, Kazakhstan, where they dined with the authoritarian president, Nursultan A. Nazarbayev. Mr. Clinton handed the Kazakh president a propaganda coup when he expressed support for Mr. Nazarbayev’s bid to head an international elections monitoring group, undercutting American foreign policy and criticism of Kazakhstan’s poor human rights record by, among others, his wife, then a senator.

. . . .

Amid this influx of Uranium One-connected money, Mr. Clinton was invited to speak in Moscow in June 2010, the same month Rosatom struck its deal for a majority stake in Uranium One.

The $500,000 fee — among Mr. Clinton’s highest — was paid by Renaissance Capital, a Russian investment bank with ties to the Kremlin that has invited world leaders, including Tony Blair, the former British prime minister, to speak at its investor conferences."

Bottom line: Enough of the sour grapes, Paul.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Brent Scowcroft and Thomas Pickering, "Speaking truth to our ally Israel": What About Speaking Truth to Pickering?

In a Washington Post opinion piece entitled "Speaking truth to our ally Israel," 91-year-old Brent Scowcroft and Thomas Pickering appear to take issue with last week's WaPo editorial entitled "On Israel, we’re right back where Obama started," which excoriated America's lame duck president and John Kerry (see my prior blog item, "Rashid Khalidi, John Kerry and Israel: 'Too Little and Too Late': More Israel Bashing From The New York Times"). Scowcroft and Pickering write in their op-ed:

"In recent days, the Obama administration has undertaken two significant actions regarding the Israeli-Palestinian issue. It refrained from vetoing a resolution at the U.N. Security Council that, among other things, detailed the devastating impact that Israeli settlement expansion is having on the prospects for a two-state peace agreement. And in a landmark speech, Secretary of State John F. Kerry warned that the trend toward a one-state reality is becoming increasingly entrenched, and he set out principles for a lasting peace based on a two-state solution."

"Devastating impact"? Needless to say, no mention by Scowcroft and Pickering of the fact acknowledged by Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat that Israeli settlements have been built on only some 1.1% of the West Bank. However, there is something else missing from Scowcroft and Pickering's opinion piece, and I have just dashed off the following email to Fred Hiatt, WaPo's editorial page editor:

Dear Mr. Hiatt,

At the bottom of The Washington Post opinion piece by Brent Scowcroft and Thomas R. Pickering, entitled "Speaking truth to our ally Israel," The Washington Post describes Pickering as follows:

"Thomas R. Pickering is a retired United States ambassador. Among his many diplomatic appointments, he served as U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations from 1989 to 1992."

The Washington Post's description fails to mention that Pickering today is prominently listed ("top billing") by the National Iranian American Council, which is anything but friendly to Israel, as a member of its Advisory Board.

I kindly ask that The Washington Post's description of Pickering be corrected to reflect his membership on the Advisory Board of the National Iranian American Council, which is highly relevant to the substance of this opinion piece.

It is also worth noting that both Scowcroft and Pickering actively urged approval of the P5+1's nuclear deal with Iran.

Yours sincerely,

It's worth reading The Daily Beast article entitled "Boeing’s Man Pushed for the Iran Nuclear Deal—and Now the Company Is Selling $25 Billion Worth of Planes to Tehran," which informs us (my emphasis in red:

"Boeing is grabbing headlines for its first-of-its-kind, $25 billion deal with Iran Air, Tehran’s state-owned airline.

But the American aerospace giant isn’t exactly publicizing the fact that it paid a lobbying firm to “monitor” the nuclear agreement that made its $25 billion sale to Tehran possible. Or that Boeing has on its payroll a former top Clinton administration official who used his clout to garner support in the corridors of powers for the Iran deal.

Thomas Pickering, one of the country’s most respected diplomats and a and former ambassador to Israel and the United Nations, has been quietly taking money from Boeing while vocally supporting the Iran nuclear deal—testifying before Congress, writing letters to high-level officials, and penning op-eds for outlets like The Washington Post."

Let's see if Mr. Hiatt gets back to me.