Wednesday, February 27, 2019
This isn't going to be one of my more fully-developed posts—I may rework it later—but here goes. I didn't vote for Donald Trump (or the evil monster who got the Dem's 2016 presidential nomination). Trump has long struck me as dishonest, greedy, manipulative, opportunistic, and unguided by few, if any, principles except his own perceived self-interest.
As I wrote to some friends in April 2016, Trump: "strikes me as a clever businessman-showman who is adeptly exploiting the well-founded grievances and misplaced hopes of many Americans ..." Days after the 2016 election, I wrote: 'Trump, like Obama, embodies the worthy hopes and dreams of a lot of people. I just don't see a lot of reason to believe that those dreams will be realized."
I think it is no coincidence then that, for decades, he has surrounded himself in his business, family, and political life with a reprehensible collection of Jewish Israel partisans. One wit managed to turn even this against Trump, writing: "I noted recently that virtually all the lawyers working for Trump are Jews, which I consider to be part of his soft anti-Semitism ..."
It is no coincidence either that Trump's only real, known solid ties to Vladimir Putin are via the hardline Zionist Chabad Jewish orthodox movement. In 2017, Politico described the Chabad as "The Happy-Go-Lucky Jewish Group That Connects Trump and Putin". Slate reported on the Putin-Chabad connection in 2014. Chabad has proven influential inside and outside of the Jewish community.
First daughter Ivanka and her family attend a Chabad synagogue in DC. Not coincidentally, Sholom Rubashkin, a Chabad rabbi, was the first recipient of a presidential commutation from Donald Trump.
So, now Michael Cohen (who does not seem to be a member of Chabad himself)—Trump's "Political 'Pit Bull' "and "Jewish Wingman"—has turned against Trump after being convicted, by his own admission, of lying to Congress and committing tax evasion (but not being charged or convicted of anything involving alleged Trump campaign collusion with Russia). Now, this admitted liar is a credible witness to give Congressional testimony which, in truly shameless partisan form, KUOW and National Public Radio preempted regular programming to broadcast.
I read Cohen's written statement and listened to some of the Q & A during the hearings today. What a sad, sad state of affairs Democrats and their ilk have descended to. I generally have a low regard for politicians of all stripes but today I witnessed a new low in the ongoing destruction of the Republic and civil society. It also worthy of note that, again, Cohen's testimony today like his criminal convictions had little or nothing to support allegations about Trump collusion with Russia.
At one point, one of the Dems questioning Cohen today kept hammering on about Trump's association with a known Russian mafioso, Felix Sater (an Israeli citizen, according to Ha'aretz). That Dem was Rep. Harley Rouda, who twice referred to him as "Mobster Felix Sater".
Curiously, I did not hear it mentioned that Sater was a boyhood friend of Cohen's who maintained his relationship with Sater long after Sater's convictions in US courts for violence and fraud. Sater is also a Chabadnik and appears to be a key player in any connection between Trump and Russia. The Russian-Jewish-Israel nexus to Trump has been largely buried in the US media.
I don't claim to know if Trump illegally colluded with Russia to influence the 2016 election. I very much doubt it but I don't completely deny the possibility. It does seem clear Trump has a lot of other skeletons in his closet he wants to hide, including his apparent relationship with Felix Sater.
In any case, I think what we saw with the election of Trump is a reflection of the well-earned distrust and contempt many Americans have for the Democratic and Republican elites who have continuously betrayed them and the country for decades. These elites have declared war on Trump (and the everyday people who naively elected him).
Democrats are especially incensed that Trump is in the White House for a whole host of reasons I won't belabor here except to say it's not because he's crooked. Many, if not most, establishment Republicans are anti-Trump, too, although, his role as the Republican POTUS constrains them more than the Dems. However, in all but a tiny handful of cases opposition to Trump is not driven by any loyalty to the people of this country and any high principles; rather, it is driven by pique and ambition and none of them oppose him for his pro-Israel policies (except tactically).
Now, I want to bring this back to the alleged Russian collusion and simply say that most while most of the reporting on the matter has been driven by Trump Derangement Syndrome there has been a tiny bit of worthy reporting on it from the Left. Most notably it has come from Aaron Maté, writing for the The Nation and The Intercept.* Maté has written: "Trump didn't get to the White House via Russia, but by falsely portraying himself as a populist champion. The only con he will be undone by is his own." Aside from the glaring omission of the role of Trump's pro-Israel Jewish associates in his rise, I think this is about right.
It bears saying that Trump is not unique among politicians in his alliance to the Jewish elite (and don't forget the $$$). Obama was beholden to and, after diligently comporting himself to them, was eventually lionized by Jews but he generally aligned himself with less openly reactionary elements of the Jewish elite. What makes Trump unique is his high-profile, undisguised, and tight association with the smaller (in the US) population of the most openly reactionary elements of the Jewish elite.
* Glenn Greenwald has also had a couple of decent pieces in The Intercept ("The FBI’s Investigation of Trump as a 'National Security Threat' is Itself a Serious Danger. But J. Edgar Hoover Pioneered the Tactic" and "Beyond BuzzFeed: The 10 Worst, Most Embarrassing U.S. Media Failures on the Trump-Russia Story")
What follows are links on Chabad, Russia, & Felix Sater and, below that, on Trump's Jewish/Israeli ties and positions. Links embedded in the text above are not generally also listed below (I have flagged the three that do appear in both places with a (☀)).
Chabad, Russia, & Felix Sater
- "Former Mafia-linked figure describes association with Trump" (May 2016; Washington Post)☀
- "The Original Russia Connection" (Aug. 2017: The New Yorker)☀
- "Who Is Felix Sater, and Why Is Donald Trump So Afraid of Him?" (Sep. 2017; The Nation)
- "The Odd Chabad Connection Between Putin and Trump" (Nov. 2017; Washington Monthly)
- "A Brief History of Michael Cohen's Criminal Ties" (Apr. 2018; Rolling Stone)
- "Michael Cohen Gets a Special Visit" (Apr. 2018; Washington Monthly)☀
- "The Countless Israeli Connections to Mueller's Probe of Trump and Russia" (May 2018; Ha'aretz)
- "Active Measures director says Trump's Russian mob ties are his biggest legal vulnerability" (May 2018; CBC)
- "Mueller Finally Starts to Target Trump's Israel Ties" (Jun. 2018; Observer)
- "Trump Has Strongest Jewish Ties of all GOP Candidates" (Aug. 2015; The Forward)
- "Donald Trump meets with billionaire Sheldon Adelson" (Dec. 2015: Business Insider)
- "Read Donald Trump's Full Speech to AIPAC" (Mar. 2016; Time)
- "In meeting with Orthodox, Trump reveals Israel advisers: His Jewish lawyers" (Apr. 2016; Jewish Telegraphic Agency)
- "Donald Trump insists Israel should keep building West Bank settlements" (May 2016; Daily Mail Online)
- "Trump Names Jewish Financier, Fixer to Major Campaign Positions" (May 2016; The Forward)
- "Trump vs. Clinton: Battle of the Jewish sons-in-law" (May 2016; Jewish Telegraphic Agency)
- "Trump's Jews" (Jul. 2016; Tablet Magazine)
- "Meet the Jews in Donald Trump's inner circle" (Nov. 2016; The Times of Israel)
- "Trump is headed to the White House. Did we just elect our first Jewish president?" (Nov. 2016; Fox News)
- "Trump's Jews and Obama's Jews" (Jan. 2017; Frontpage Mag)
- "Know your oligarch: A guide to the Jewish billionaires in the Trump-Russia probe" (May 2018: Ha'aretz)
- "Robert Mueller's Israel problem" (Jun. 2018; Conservative Review)
- "Trump's Jews" (Dec. 2018; Forward)
Monday, February 25, 2019
Sunday, February 24, 2019
Tuesday, February 19, 2019
She reminds me a bit of Ron Paul's 2012 campaign.
Thursday, February 14, 2019
Yesterday, National Public Radio ran a short piece where they went to bat for poor, besieged AIPAC against US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN). It was titled "Unpacking What The American Israel Public Affairs Committee Does".
It may not seem self-evident why NPR's defense of AIPAC is misleading, at best. It's true that AIPAC doesn't make direct donations to political candidates.
However, in 2017, AIPAC had an annual income of $229,098,693 with a "Form 990 Revenue Amount" of $107,755,186 on top of assets of $125,102,348. That's a lot of "Benjamins" and they're doing something with that money. I'm guessing they aren't planting daisies.
As NPR reporters and editors undoubtedly know, there are plenty of ways to use money for political lobbying other than direct campaign donations. And AIPAC is at the center of the network that constitutes the Israel Lobby. Moreover, it is a testament to AIPAC's influence that they have NPR shilling for them against Rep. Omar.
Here's how Mearsheimer and Walt described AIPAC's influence in 2006 (emphasis added):
A key pillar of the Lobby's effectiveness is its influence in Congress, where Israel is virtually immune from criticism. This in itself is remarkable, because Congress rarely shies away from contentious issues. Where Israel is concerned, however, potential critics fall silent. One reason is that some key members are Christian Zionists like Dick Armey, who said in September 2002: "My No. 1 priority in foreign policy is to protect Israel." One might think that the No. 1 priority for any congressman would be to protect America. There are also Jewish senators and congressmen who work to ensure that US foreign policy supports Israel's interests.As an aside, the NPR piece also falsely positions J Street as some positive alternative to AIPAC when in fact they are a Zionist Trojan Horse that supports the apartheid two-state solution.
Another source of the Lobby's power is its use of pro-Israel congressional staffers. As Morris Amitay, a former head of AIPAC, once admitted, "there are a lot of guys at the working level up here" – on Capitol Hill – "who happen to be Jewish, who are willing … to look at certain issues in terms of their Jewishness … These are all guys who are in a position to make the decision in these areas for those senators … You can get an awful lot done just at the staff level."
AIPAC itself, however, forms the core of the Lobby's influence in Congress. Its success is due to its ability to reward legislators and congressional candidates who support its agenda, and to punish those who challenge it. Money is critical to US elections (as the scandal over the lobbyist Jack Abramoff's shady dealings reminds us), and AIPAC makes sure that its friends get strong financial support from the many pro-Israel political action committees. Anyone who is seen as hostile to Israel can be sure that AIPAC will direct campaign contributions to his or her political opponents. AIPAC also organises letter-writing campaigns and encourages newspaper editors to endorse pro-Israel candidates.
There is no doubt about the efficacy of these tactics. Here is one example: in the 1984 elections, AIPAC helped defeat Senator Charles Percy from Illinois, who, according to a prominent Lobby figure, had "displayed insensitivity and even hostility to our concerns". Thomas Dine, the head of AIPAC at the time, explained what happened: "All the Jews in America, from coast to coast, gathered to oust Percy. And the American politicians—those who hold public positions now, and those who aspire—got the message."
AIPAC's influence on Capitol Hill goes even further. According to Douglas Bloomfield, a former AIPAC staff member, "it is common for members of Congress and their staffs to turn to AIPAC first when they need information, before calling the Library of Congress, the Congressional Research Service, committee staff or administration experts." More important, he notes that AIPAC is "often called on to draft speeches, work on legislation, advise on tactics, perform research, collect co-sponsors and marshal votes".
The bottom line is that AIPAC, a de facto agent for a foreign government, has a stranglehold on Congress, with the result that US policy towards Israel is not debated there, even though that policy has important consequences for the entire world. ... Or as Ariel Sharon once told an American audience, "when people ask me how they can help Israel, I tell them: 'Help AIPAC.' "