Sunday, May 27, 2018

Democrats Against Israel


For reasons that do not need too much explaining, Israel has become a partisan political issue in America. Caroline Glick outlines the problem, a problem made especially acute as most Democratic politicians turn away from Israel.

They do so for two reasons, Glick argues. First, they despise Trump and will oppose anything he does. Second, they love Obama and want to follow his anti-Israeli policies. Anything that Trump does that makes Obama look bad makes them look bad. Ergo…

Glick begins with the Trump aspect:

Never in US history has a president been demonized and delegitimized by his political opponents as Trump has been by Democrats. Since the day he was elected, Democrats have sought to overturn the election results.

Every policy Trump enacts is subjected to immediate delegitimization. Democrats attack every position Trump adopts as morally defective, somehow treacherous and utterly illegitimate.

In the past, recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital has been bipartisan American policy:

Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem and move the US Embassy to Israel’s capital is case in point. In 1995, Democrats and Republicans joined together to overwhelmingly pass the Jerusalem Embassy Act mandating the transfer of the US Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem. It passed the Senate 93-5.

Every year since lopsided majorities in both houses have voted in favor of resolutions enjoining successive administrations to follow the law and move the embassy. In the past four presidential elections, the Democrats’ party platform has recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and supported moving the embassy to Jerusalem.

Given that most American Jews are Democrats, this is hardly surprising. And yet, there has been a sea change. Glick saw it first in the way that Democrats boycotted the Jerusalem embassy opening:

Given this background, dozens of Democratic lawmakers could have been expected to come to Jerusalem for the embassy opening last week and still more could have been expected to put in an appearance at the Israeli Embassy’s bash in Washington.

Instead, with some notable if constrained exceptions, Trump’s move was met with stony silence by the vast majority of Democrats. And several powerful lawmakers, including House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, and prominent senators Dianne Feinstein, Dick Durbin, Chris Murphy and Bernie Sanders condemned the move.

The only possible explanation for their abrupt abandonment of a policy they had dutifully followed for 23 years is Trump. They revile him and reject him to such a degree that they prefer to abandon long-held positions than admit that he did exactly what they have wanted the president to do for the past 23 years.

Glick also blames it on identity politics. After all, why should Democrats go to the mat for Jewish voters when there are so few? And why should they alienate their primary voting blocks, especially minority communities that are notably anti-Semitic.

Of course, Barack Obama led the Democratic Party to this impasse: 

Obama’s hostility towards Israel, his repeated intimations that Israel is a colonialist outpost while the Palestinians are the indigenous people of the land of Israel were part and parcel of his across-the-board effort to enable the radical Left to take over the party. Obama’s efforts laid the groundwork for socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders’ surprisingly strong challenge to Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton in the party’s presidential primaries. It also set the stage for the rise of radical leaders like Congressman Keith Ellison and Sen. Elizabeth Warren in the post-Obama Democratic party. Feinstein, who supported a bipartisan Senate resolution just last year calling for the implementation of the Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995, is now facing a far-Left primary challenger.

Now, Democrats are threatening Israel. They do not want that nation to praise Donald Trump and do not want to see the American/Israeli alliance improved. They want Israel to join the Resistance. They tell Israelis that as soon as Democrats regain control over of American foreign policy, Israel will face a reckoning:

Democrats advise Israel to do two things. First, they say, the government, and the public more generally, should keep Trump at arm’s length. We should stop supporting him and applauding and thanking him for his support for Israel.

Second, they say, the government should maintain faith with Obama’s pro-Palestinian, anti-Israel policies. Among other things, this means that Israel should permanently deny Jews the right to exercise their property rights in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria. Israel should also prop up Hamas and the PLO.

Glick advises her nation to turn away from the Democrats and to pursue its own self-interest:

The second problem with the advice that Democrats are providing is that if Israel listens to them, it will be at even greater risk of being harmed by a hostile administration in the future. Given the ascendancy of the radical Left in the party, and its intractable, impermeable hatred of Israel, Israel needs to secure as many of its long-term strategic interests as it can with the friendly Trump administration lest those interests are imperiled by a hostile Democratic White House in the future.

She concludes:

The Democrats who are saying that by supporting Trump, Israel is turning itself into a partisan issue, are themselves responsible for turning support for the Jewish state into a partisan issue. By denying that Israel has a right and a legitimate interest in standing with a president that is supportive of and takes concerted steps to advance the US-Israel alliance, they are saying Israel has no right to be supported by its supporters.

The Democrats are right that Israel has a vested interest in preserving and expanding bipartisan support. But contrary to their position, there is only one way for Israel to achieve this goal, and happily, the government’s policies indicate that this is the path that Israel is following today.

Saudi Arabia Shuts Down Business with German Firms

When President Trump canceled President Obama’s Iran nuclear deal Western European leaders were horrified. They were almost as horrified as the American progressive media.

For Germany’s Angela Merkel, it was all about business. Like her confreres in Paris and London, she wanted to preserve business deals with Iran. To hell with the rest of it. These countries assume that the big boys in the schoolyard, i.e. the United States will deal with Iran’s support for terrorism, its ballistic missile program and its yearnings for nuclear weapons.

Fair enough… if you want to define yourself as junior partners in an alliance.

Now, we read in Der Spiegel, another country has expressed its serious displeasure at Iran’s bias toward the JCPOA and against America. That country is… Saudi Arabia.

We all suspected that Trump would not have canceled the Iran deal and even the move of the American embassy in Israel to Jerusalem without some sense that the Saudis did not object too strenuously. Now, on the Iran deal, Saudi Arabia has told Germany that it could do business with Iran if it liked, but it could not also do business with Saudi Arabia. Poof.

Der Spiegel reports on how this is effecting a German business called Detlet Daues:

Detlef Daues is a pioneer of the German small- and medium-sized companies that have made Germany what it is today: a prosperous nation with good international relations that stretch to even the farthest-flung corners of the world.

His Hannover-based virtual department store for original replacement parts, V-Line GmbH, services customers in countries like Mexico, the United States, Qatar and Oman in addition to others in East Asia. But 65 percent of Daues' revenues come from Saudi Arabia.

Quietly, Saudi Arabia has shown its displeasure with German policy:

But currently, the once-positive relationship between Saudi Arabia and Germany has worsened. Six months ago, Riyadh withdrew its ambassador from Germany and he still hasn't returned. There has been little open discussion of the reasons behind the conflict, but for people like Daues in the business community, the rift is as plain as day. "For Germans, the doors in Riyadh have suddenly been closed," says one experienced businessman in the Saudi capital. Meetings with delegations from Germany that were set up before the crisis are being canceled. "That hurts," says Oliver Oehms of the German-Saudi Arabian Liaison Office for Economic Affairs in Riyadh.

More specifically:

But now the "German government has succeeded" in "upsetting the country so badly that German firms are being excluded from being awarded contracts," the entrepreneur wrote in a letter to Bernd Althusmann, the economics minister for the state of Lower-Saxony, where his company is located. He wrote that he had been deliberately excluded from contracts for the first time.

Evidently, the chill has been a long time coming:

Young crown prince Mohammed bin Salman, known as MBS for short, appears to be "deeply offended" by the German government, says Daues, who adds that his information comes from confidants in Riyadh. Relations between the two countries began souring last November when then-German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel spoke of spreading "political adventurism" in the Middle East, a remark many thought was aimed at Saudi Arabia. The impression was widespread at the time that Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri was being held against his will in Riyadh and that he was being strong-armed by the rulers there to step down.

But the canceled Iran deal has deepened Saudi distrust of Germany:

Berlin is determined to stick with the nuclear deal despite U.S. President Donald Trump's announcement he will withdraw from it, whereas there is deep-seated distrust of the government in Tehran in Riyadh. It may be that the Saudi crown prince views Germany's conduct as criticism of his governance. Sources close to him say that a relaxed attitude toward differences of opinion is not one of the prince's strong points.

It gets worse for Germany. Der Spiegel has the details:

Germany remains Saudi Arabia's most important European trading partner. Some 800 German companies are active in the country, and 200 have offices in Saudi Arabia with a total of 40,000 employees. In 2017, the volume of German exports to Saudi Arabia was 6.6 billion euros. But the mood is shifting.

Well-informed observers in Saudi Arabia are reporting that even larger German companies like Daimler have been affected. The Saudis, for example, threatened to temporarily postpone the delivery of several hundred Mercedes buses. Officially, the company has vehemently denied the reports, with Daimler saying it cannot confirm any delay. The bus project, the company insists, is proceeding on schedule.

The Saudi Health Ministry, which has worked closely together with medical equipment supplier Siemens and pharmaceutical companies Bayer and Boehringer for years, has also distanced itself from its German partners recently. "The business is tougher," a spokesman for Siemens says in a cautious formulation. "We don't want to comment on the matter," spokespeople for Bayer and Boehringer stated. No one wants to further rile the government in Saudi Arabia. Recently, Riyadh's city development authority ADA issued a contract for the construction of a major bike path that will run through the capital city's green belt to the American architecture firm Coen+Partners. But only a year ago, it had planned to award the contract to the German firm AS+P Albert Speer and Bödeker Landscape Architects.

Of course, the story has been ignored. The American media has gotten its knickers in a twist over the supposedly deteriorating relations between Trump and Merkel. As often happens, given its blinders, it is missing important aspects of the larger story.

Saturday, May 26, 2018

Your Local Starbucks Homeless Shelter


If this doesn’t make your day, nothing will make your day.

Apparently, the woke company called Starbucks is having a problem with its new open-doors policy. As you know Starbucks, in a paroxysm of guilt over the fact that a manager in Philadelphia called the police to remove two non-customers and who refused to leave the café. 

The result, a new policy. Starbucks now allows anyone to drop by and to hang out. They can all use the facilities without buying anything.

It’s a calamity in the making. The Zero Hedge blog has the details, which, as it happens date to before the new policy:

Starbucks is having a terrible time adapting to its new "inclusive" public restroom policy, as employees contend with blood spattered walls, used drug needles, and face-melting waftings from deuce-dropping vagrants filling the store. 

Oh, and all that was happening before the new homeless shelter bathroom policy

The stores have always had needle removal equipment:

A former Starbucks facilities manager who oversaw several urban stores on the East Coast said those cafes had special kits on hand with rubber gloves, tongs and a box that store employees could use to dispose of needles... –WSJ

Customers are decidedly unhappy… which eventually will be bad for business. Zero Hedge reports:

As we reported on Thursday, Starbucks' new "inclusiveness" policy is sparking outrage in customers who just want to get a $6 latte without running into the new bathroom inhabitants. 

“It sounds like Starbucks is turning their stores into homeless shelters. Their coffee is strong but their management is weak,” said Ron Raduechel, a 64-year-old retired supply chain executive from Waukesha, Wis., who said he would no longer go to Starbucks. -WSJ

As the reactions from viewers of CBS LA's recent story about Starbucks' new policy suggest, customers are fed up...

“If you go into a business and you just sit there and you don’t buy anything you are taking up space at the table,” said Melrose Larry Green.

You could end up having a squatters problem where you just have people coming and staying. I mean if they are going to do that they need to limit how long people can stay in there,” said Joe Selva.

Call it the free market at work. Those who want to impose their ideology on the rest of us ought at least to pay for it.

The Noise That Never Stops


The New York Times reports on a gigantic Brazilian wind farm. The farm is located in an area where the wind never stops… surely a good thing in the wind farm world.

It just shows you what we can do when we can harvest the wind as what the Times calls “a natural resource:”

At night, blinking red dots fill the sky, and the sound of whooshing rotating blades is everywhere — constant reminders of the wind’s abundant presence here on Brazil’s Atlantic coast and its harvesting as a natural resource.

At daybreak, towers rising nearly 400 feet peek out high above the canopy of palm trees, like gigantic dandelions.

Here is the good news:

On this part of the Atlantic coast, the wind blows constantly and in one direction consistently, giving Brazil a steady stream for energy production. The country is now the world’s eighth-largest producer of wind power, according to the Global Wind Energy Council, a trade association, with wind farms operated by Weg, Siemens Gamesa, Wobben Windpower, among other companies.

Among the benefits are these:

A mile from the beach, the view of the turbines reminds the rural area’s residents of both the possibilities and the impact of the industry.

At Morro dos Martins beach, about 80 miles northwest of Natal, Damiao Henrique, 70, plugged electric cables to a pump so he could water his bean plants. A fisherman and farmer, he was removed from his old strip of land and sent a few yards closer to the shore to allow space for a wind farm.

“But I am O.K.,” he said. “As compensation, I received energy from the company, and now I can water my beans more easily.”

Surely, it’s a good thing that Henrique can water his beans more easily.

Other residents have been disappointed:

Other local residents said the promised benefits had not appeared.

“The mayor said there would be schools,” said Maria Venus, 47, who owns a grocery store in Morro dos Martins. “They opened a music school for the community, gave us some guitars and after a year all was put on hold.”

But there is a problem:

And then there is the noise.

“Oh yes,” she added, “they also left this noise that never stops.”

It’s a trade-off. You get cheap energy and you save the planet. On the other hand, the noise never stops. We have heard these stories before. These wind turbines are expense. They are rotted by the salt air. And they damage your health by subjecting you to the “noise that never stops.”

Do you want that in your backyard?

Alleged Corruption in the Broward County Sheriff's Department


You recall the shooting at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, FL. You know that disaffected students blamed it all on the NRA and initiated a children’s crusade for more gun control. The notion of out-of-control children calling for more control smacks of irony.

Anyway, if you read this blog regularly, you know that the man most responsible for failing to stop Nikolas Cruz was the Broward County Sheriff: Scott Israel. In a better world, Sheriff Israel would have handed in his badge and taken responsibility for the manifest failures of his department. Not only did his deputy, Scot Peterson, assigned to duty at the high school that day, run away from the shooting, but Israel’s deputies had investigated Cruz dozens of times before he set about to murder his classmates.

We also know that many people have called for Sheriff Israel to resign, and that his own department cast a vote of no confidence in his leadership. Israel has refused to go peacefully.

In the follow-up, you have also heard that Deputy Peterson has now retired from his job and is receiving a very generous pension. I mention these facts to bring you up to date and to prepare you for what is coming.

The story was reported by a Miami local news station and by the Daily Wire. As it happened, one of Israel’s sons was arrested four years ago for sexually assaulting a boy in his high school. The incident was allegedly covered up by no other than Scot Peterson.

Here is the Daily Wire account:

A local Miami news station released an explosive report on Thursday night about a "disturbing assault" that happened at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School four years to the day before the tragic shooting in February. The alleged incident involved one of the sons of Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel and was allegedly "covered up" by Officer Scot Peterson, the resource officer who infamously failed to confront the Parkland shooter.

WPLG Local 10 investigative reporter Bob Norman reported Thursday that two 17-year-old students at the school allegedly bullied a 14-year-old freshman boy, with one of the 17-year-olds holding down the student while the other 17-year-old kicked the victim, grabbed his genitals, and then grabbed the victim's own baseball bat and began shoving it against his buttocks "simulating rape" through the boy's clothes.

The father of a shooting survivor, a man by name of Royer Borges, has called for an investigation:

"Now I ask you: If this wouldn't have been the sheriff's son, would a sexual assault have been reduced to a simple battery?" Borges asked in his statement. "Was deputy Peterson allowed to retire with his pension because he protected Sheriff Israel's son from having a felony arrest? These are the questions that I and I'm sure many people from this county want answered."

Friday, May 25, 2018

Trump Cancels North Korean Summit


Did you ever get the impression that you are living in a confederacy of dunces? Did you ever get the feeling that the #GetTrump crowd does not care about success or failure. No matter what Trump does they will always find fault.

Their greatest fear of late has been that Trump might negotiate a deal for North Korean denuclearization. Thus, when Trump pulled out of a June 12 meeting in Singapore, the #GetTrump group was elated.They could not restrain themselves from declaring Trump to be an incompetent negotiator and a general all-around failure.

It was a pathetic spectacle. It signaled an absence of patriotism, a failure to understand that Trump, like him or not, is the president of the United States. Rooting for a president to fail because you believe it gives you political advantage is ignoble. End of story.

One thing we do know, canceling the meeting was a move in a game. We do not know the outcome of the game. We do not know how it will proceed and we certainly do not know how it will end. Thus, all speculation about whether it was right or wrong, good or bad is fatuous. If our own dunces are honorable they will admit that there is more to life than their own propaganda and that, if they do not know the outcome, they should not jump to conclusions.

One other thing we know is that North Korea had not responded to administration efforts to negotiate the framework for a meeting. Secretary of State Pompeo said so yesterday in front of a Senate committee. As opposed to some other administration officials,  Pompeo seems to be in charge of his mouth. In truth, if you cannot reach your prospective negotiating partner, you are receiving a clear signal. And that is: he is more interested in the theatrics of the ceremony than any substantive agreements.

You have no other choice but to postpone the meeting. If Trump had not done so his detractors would have been rushing to the microphones to explain that he had been had.

In addition, you will note that Trump, diplomatically, had been speaking of Kim in very respectful tones. And Trump has expressed great admiration an gratitude for Chinese president Xi Jinping. His rhetoric has been exemplary. 

And yet, National Security Adviser John Bolton declared that he was looking for a Libya-like solution… which brings to mind the fact that after Libya gave up its nuclear weapons, the Obama administration rewarded Col Qaddhafi with a bayonet up his butt. I prefer to think of Bolton as having made a rookie mistake. Trump quickly walked back the remark. But then, Vice President Pence—another rookie?—repeated the same analogy to Libya, apparently not knowing how this would sound to Kim Jong-un.

The North Koreans reacted with insults and invective against Mike Pence… which also made it impossible for Trump to continue. I cannot speculate about Pence's tactics, but he is not covering himself in glory here. If he is speaking for the administration it is, within the White House, incoherent and unnecessarily provocative. A bad move.

And then there is the China angle. Readers of this blog know my theory—namely that Trump and Xi made a deal. By the terms of the deal Xi would corral his ally in North Korea and Trump would reciprocate. We did not know what the precise terms of the quid pro quo would be. We suspected that it had something to do with the American government’s sanctions against Chinese telecom firm, ZTE. When Xi asked Trump to intervene in the matter, Trump instructed his Commerce Department to solve the problem.

But then, Congress got in the act and both Republicans and Democrats decided that it was time to get tough on China. Led by famed grandstander Marco Rubio, the Senate Banking Committee passed a resolution that will make it far more difficult, if not impossible, for Trump to fulfill his end of the bargain.

Some have argued that President Xi never wanted North Korea to be denuclearized anyway. And yet, if we assume that he was pursuing his national interest, he would certainly have wanted to receive signals from the United States that he would receive something in return. If not, the chances are that he will not allow the summit to go on.

An alternate theory would have it that the world was starting to see Kim as Xi’s puppet. This would have caused Kim to lose face. And, to save face he needed to assert himself… to make it appear that he was in charge. As of now, he seems not to have reckoned with the possibility that Trump would withdraw from the summit and has stated that he will meet with Trump anywhere anyhow.

The Case of the Childless 40-Year-Old Single Woman


It’s a good example of how a seasoned therapist misses the point. A 40-year-old single woman writes to therapist Lori Gottlieb. Her problem, according to her is that she cannot get her ex- out of her mind. He seems to have been her one and only true love. She wanted a home with children. He did not. 

She doesn’t quite say it but she has clung to the hope that he would come around. She broke up with him. She hooked up with him a few times. It did not work out. She is alone and bereft and she asks a therapist how to stop thinking about him.

Here is the letter:

I’m a 40-year-old single woman. Never married, no children, and I’ve been struggling for years to get over my ex. He was my first love and we met when I was in my early 20s. It was a very immature relationship that culminated in me breaking up with him finally (for about the third or fourth time), mostly because of a growing fear that I knew I would want kids and was worried that I was wasting my time with someone who wasn’t willing to work on a future with me.

This was more than 10 years ago, and although my ex and I have occasionally stayed in touch, been intimate, and reconnected after a few years of separation, we have not been able to have a healthy relationship. I’ve tried to be honest about my wanting a different type of relationship with him, but he doesn’t seem to want that. I have tried moving on by ignoring my feelings for him, ignoring him when he has reached out to me, and repeatedly reminding myself that ours is not the kind of relationship that I want. But it all feels like a lie.

The truth is, here I am, thinking about the last person I had the strongest romantic relationship and potential with. And I feel like a fool. I tried blocking him on my phone, but I still saw his calls. I have avoided his social media since it just triggers sadness instead of happiness and joy. I need some practical help to get him out of my mind.

Anonymous

Therapist Gottlieb responds reasonably that the woman will need to give up her hopes for a future with this man and move on. It is self-evident. She correctly points out that most therapists want their patients to live in the past, not the future. And that Anonymous is living in the lost past.

If she moves on and develops new dating habits, Gottlieb continues, perhaps she will find true love.

It sounds unobjectionable. And yet, I am happy to offer an obvious objection. At age 40 Anonymous has a much bigger problem than finding true love. Her problem is: to have or not to have a child.

Since we know nothing about Anonymous’s living conditions, her family, her career or any other relevant details about her life, we cannot evaluate her options realistically. I have often remarked that letters written to advice givers rarely give anything close to the amount of detail that you would need to offer decent advice. They seem to be suffering from too much therapy; they see themselves as a bundle of mental or emotional processes.

And yet, in this case we do know one salient fact. We know, because it has been widely publicized, that Gottlieb herself had a child at age 39 through the aid of a sperm donor. Now, we do not expect that Gottlieb will go all Ask Polly here and fill up an endless stream of pages by oversharing about her own very personal experience. It would not be very professional.

And yet, as long as the information is public record, it would have been more constructive to say a word about single parenthood, to address this woman’s manifest desire for a child, before droning on about Freud’s idea of the repetition compulsion. The truth is, the time that it takes to find a new man, to develop a relationship, to marry and to start a family will probably decide the issue.

Having a fatherless child is certainly the exception. Naturally, a woman who is contemplating such a move would want to know how it has worked out for someone who has done it. And she would ask a woman who has undergone the experience, who knows what it's like to be pregnant and alone, to have or not to have family support, to explain the situation to the child... who it is working out.

Unless of course Anonymous has simply given up on the prospect of having a child of her own. I suspect that she has not. But, at the least, a savvy therapist should raise the issue and discuss the different options. A therapist who had undergone the experience would have some direct personal knowledge of the issue.

On this score, therapist Gottlieb misses the point completely. For all the fancy psycho theories about repression, this therapist has a rather large and obvious blind spot.