Inside The U.S. $38 Billion 10-Year Gift to Israel

by James M. Wallobama-at-un

It is no surprise that the guaranteed $38 billion gift from U.S. taxpayers to Israel over the next ten years was not discussed Wednesday when President Obama and Prime Minister Netanyahu met at New York’s Lotte New York Palace Hotel.

The $38 billion gift was not discussed in the meeting because it was already a done deal, which Netanyahu hated.

Because the U.S. mainline media does such an ineffective job of covering anything to do with what Israel likes or dislikes, the $38 billion ten-year deal was made to look like Obama had caved in to Netanyahu.

That was not the case. Nehemiah Shtrasler wrote in an opinion piece in Ha’aretz that far from being an Israeli triumph, the $38 billion agreement was not that big a deal. It was, instead, filled with caveats Netanyahu fought against.

Shtrasler explains that both leaders were smiling through their pro forma meeting, “but Obama will be enjoying the last laugh. He has waited a long time for this moment, and now he’s ready to serve his revenge to Netanyahu, cold as ice.”

[Obama] can’t — and doesn’t want to — forget Netanyahu’s insults, from failing to fulfill his promises to resume negotiations with the Palestinians, to continuing to build in the territories in order to torpedo any possibility of a two-state solution, to that boorish speech in Congress last year against Obama’s Iranian nuclear deal. Now Netanyahu is paying for all of that, big time.

To an American public fed a steady pro-Israel diet, this sounds, well, impossible.

Anticipating this incredulous response, Shtrasler writes:

Let’s start with the numbers. In the last 10 years, Israel has received $3.1 billion a year from the United States, plus the cost of developing anti-ballistic missiles. Altogether, the aid has come to $3.5 billion a year. The new amount, $3.8 billion a year, is significantly lower in real terms.

It’s not worth more than $3.2 billion a year, according to a capitalization rate of 20 percent over 10 years. Therefore, in real terms American aid to Israel has diminished, not increased — in contrast to what Netanyahu says.

Israel was not getting the massive payout the U.S. media claimed, with stories that sent conservatives into ecstasy and progressives into apoplexy. Netanyahu was demanding a much larger annual gift, which his rich Daddy would not give him.

Then there was an even heavier blow. Netanyahu and his negotiating team delayed accepting the U.S. ten-year offer because of a more obviously distressing clause that affected Israel’s arms industry, a major money-maker for Israel’s economy.

The bigger blow lies in the exclusion of Israel’s defense industries. Until now, Israel could convert 26 percent of the aid into shekels (which worked out to about $800 million a year) and use the money to order equipment from Israeli military companies. The new agreement phases out that agreement, which is a rough deal for the big defense companies, and a deathblow for dozens of smaller companies and the subcontractors of the big companies.

The third clause that angered Netanyahu is the one that Shtrasler describes as the one “designed to be personally anti-Netanyahu: the humiliation.”

This is the article forbidding Israel to ask Congress for any more aid, of any type, for two years. If Congress does decide to add some, Israel will have to repay the money posthaste.

A clear Israel supporter, Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham (S.C.) asked Netanyahu how he could agree to an agreement that “neuters” Congress. Netanyahu didn’t answer. He knew he not only had to neutralize all his friends in Congress: he had to shear the locks of the AIPAC lobby and ambassador Ron Dermer. Look how far Obama’s vengeance has reached.

Wait, there is even more, a final humiliating blow demanded by Obama.

Yet all of this pales compared with the strategic damage inherent in the agreement. It has no accords on cooperating against Iran, which will have the capacity to manufacture nuclear bombs in 10 years’ time. It does not expand the collaboration on science, technology and intelligence.

It does not provide Israel with advanced fighting systems to preserve its qualitative advantage in the region. That is why it’s a bad deal. Clearly, a better one could have been achieved if Netanyahu hadn’t bitten the hand that feeds us [Israel], time and again.

The ten-year agreement is new. Previously, a three-year agreement has been renewed automatically by a subservient Congress. This new ten-year agreement was negotiated for ten months and signed well before Obama arrived in New York to address the UN.

UPDATE: This week a group of U.S. Senators announced they had introduced new legislation to remove the tight controls which President Obama included in the agreement. Reuters reports:

Senators Lindsey Graham, Kelly Ayotte, John McCain and Ted Cruz {all Republican senators] told a news conference they had filed a measure to give Israel an additional $1.5 billion in military aid, while renewing U.S. sanctions on Iran.

Republican Senators Mark Kirk, Marco Rubio and Roy Blunt also co-sponsored the bill introduced on Tuesday.

The Obama speech demands an exegesis. Ha’aretz provides one in an analysis of the speech by Chemi Shalev:

Barack Obama’s farewell address to the United Nations General Assembly Tuesday was starkly anti-Israeli, or at least the antithesis of the current Israeli zeitgeist. Not because of his praise for the Iran nuclear deal or his token words of condemnation of settlements and occupation, but in the deeper layers of his speech; in his shameless promotion of universal values, in the presentation of his vision as the presumptive leader of the free world, with emphasis on the word “free.”

It was an optimistic and hopeful speech that dwelled on the cup half-full, which Israeli politicians prefer to portray as 90 per cent empty.

Cheri Shalev concluded his analysis of Obama’s UN speech on an upbeat note:

Obama said that deep religious convictions should not sanctify discrimination against women or prevent children from learning mathematics and science, (as they do throughout Israel’s independent ultra-Orthodox school system.) When he spoke about authoritarian leaders who foster division and understand only force, our analysts told us, without batting an eyelid, that he meant Vladimir Putin.

And when Obama coined the sentence for which the speech will be remembered, “A nation ringed by walls will only imprison itself”, the commentators said, without a hint of self-irony, that he was talking about Donald Trump.

Was he speaking of Trump’s wall or, far more likely in a speech to the United Nations, was he referring to Israel’s “security” wall?bbc-news-co

Barack Obama will have seven weeks and three days left in office between November 8 and January 20, 2017. What will he do with that time?

Barak Ravid, suggests in Ha’aretz, that Netanyahu fears that President Obama has one final speech he will give to the United Nations.

It is the speech in which Obama will try to leave a lasting legacy on the Israeli-Palestinian issue by laying down principles for resolving all the core issues: borders, refugees, security and, above all, Jerusalem.

Netanyahu’s fear is that once such a speech is given, the road to turning it into a UN Security Council resolution will be short.

That is why the pro-Israel lobby AIPAC has worked hard over the past few weeks, apparently at the urging of Israeli ambassador to the U.S. Ron Dermer, to recruit senators from both parties to sign a letter to Obama on this issue.

Of the 100 senators, 88 ultimately signed the letter, which was sent to Obama on Monday. To achieve this impressive number of signatories, it was necessary to make the letter’s wording sufficiently vague.

No letter will deter this outgoing President who has demanded that Bibi Netanyahu accept U.S. conditions to continue to receive essentially the same annual gift the tax-payers have been sending him.

In a final UN speech Obama will find a receptive audience of nations eager to end a senseless occupation that has stirred so much anger, suffering and hatred in the Middle East.

Knowing this, Barack Obama is acting like a President who “will not go gentle into this dark night”.

The picture above is President Obama speaking Tuesday at the United Nations General Assembly. It is from Ha’aretz, taken by Kevin Lamarque of Reuters. The wall picture in Palestine is from bbc.news.co.

Posted in Israel, Middle East, Middle East Politics, Netanyahu, Obama, Palestinians, United Nations | 13 Comments

Syrian Truce Holds During Islamic Eid al-Adha

by James M. Wall

al-adha-eid-hamouria-2nd-day-ceasefifre-afp

Syria’s cease-fire, brokered by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, began Monday night on Eid al-Adha, the Islamic festival which commemorates the willingness of Ibrahim (Abraham) to follow Allah’s command to sacrifice his son Ishmael.

The agreement, reached last Friday, began under a cloud of opposition within the U.S. and Israeli governments. The plan would lead to American and Russian forces jointly targeting terrorist groups. 

The New York Times reported that the cease-fire exposed “an increasingly public divide between Secretary Kerry and U.S. Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter”.

Secretary Carter “was among the administration officials who pushed against the agreement on a conference call with the White House last week as Secretary Kerry, joining the argument from a secure facility in Geneva, grew increasingly frustrated”.

In the end, Secretary Kerry prevailed. After hours of debate, on Friday President Obama approved the cease-fire, even as Pentagon officials “remained unconvinced”.

The Australian Broadcasting Company reported that under the truce agreement, the United States and Russia would reduce violence over seven consecutive days before moving to the next stage of “coordinating military strikes against Nusra Front and Islamic State militants, which are not party to the truce”.

Secretary Carter and Israel’s right-wing government are united in their opposition to this “coordination”. 

In an appearance on The Real News Network, Lawrence Wilkerson, former chief of staff to U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell in the Bush Administration, said:

A lot of what’s going on in Syria, indirectly or directly, has impact on Israel.  I think what the Israeli leadership is thinking right now is that the longer this war goes on, the safer Israel is, because it can do as [Prime Minister] Netanyahu has said, for example, in regard to the Golan Heights: they’re ours forever; we’re never going to give them up.

Wilkerson added that, in his opinion, anything else Israel can grab away from Syria “while this turmoil is going on is [Israel’s]” increasing the distance an enemy would have to come to invade Israel”.

From Wilkerson’s perspective, Netanyahu opposes the current cease-fire because “all these powers are occupied killing one another, as it were, and so they can’t take on Israel”. 

Wilkerson “begs to differ” with Netanyahu, insisting: 

I think strategically this [fighting in Syria] is dynamite for Israel. We are looking at the potential for things to start falling apart for Israel quickly and dynamically and dramatically. .  .  .

The United States [has] some really serious choices to make about this. . . That is another element we don’t like to talk about much in the United States, but it is intrinsic to this situation, and certainly to an ultimate solution to it.

A retired army officer now teaching at Georgetown University, Wilkerson is that rare U.S. public figure willing to point to Israel’s influence over U.S. policy.

In spite of this U.S.-Israeli military opposition to the cease-fire, the Wall Street Journal reported that “Syria’s cease-fire appeared to take firmer hold on its first full day Tuesday, with the main opposition monitoring group reporting calm in major provinces. .  .  .  the battlefields were noticeably quieter, according to residents and activists on the ground.”

Through Thursday morning, the cease-fire was holding. Diplomacy is working.

In the AFP picture above, young men and children celebrated Eid al-Adha Tuesday on a street in Hamouria.

Posted in Israel, John Kerry, Middle East, Middle East Politics, Netanyahu, Obama | 2 Comments

Veterans Forum Staged With Show Biz In Mind

by James M. Wall150629163249-donald-trump-apprentice-780x439

The Commander-in-Chief Forum, with Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, was televised Wednesday night. The Iraq Afghanistan Veterans of America, a veterans organization based in New York City, joined NBC and MSNBC in hosting the event.

Billed as a precursor to three presidential debates and one vice-presidential debate, starting September 26, the Forum was described by The New York Times as “a high-stakes political moment, far from the chummier confines of the Today show and, for Matt Lauer, NBC’s stalwart of the morning, a chance to prove his broadcasting mettle on the presidential stage.”

The Times adds, “The consensus afterward was not kind.” Among the harsher criticism of Lauer came from New York magazine’s Jonathan Chait’s evisceration of Lauer’s performance entitled, “Matt Lauer’s Pathetic Interview of Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump Is the Scariest Thing I’ve Seen in This Campaign”.

Chait explained what scared him about the Forum:

I had not taken seriously the possibility that Donald Trump could win the presidency until I saw Matt Lauer host an hour-long interview with the two major-party candidates. Lauer’s performance was not merely a failure, it was horrifying and shocking. The shock, for me, was the realization that most Americans inhabit a very different news environment than professional journalists. . . . . Most voters, and all the more so undecided voters, subsist on a news diet supplied by the likes of Matt Lauer.

Jonathan Chait is right to be scared. We should all be scared at the prospect that Donald J. Trump might actually be elected president of the United States.

But don’t blame Lauer for not digging deeper into this danger.

Complaints about Matt Lauer miss the point. The Forum was not a news event. It was a staged television performance put on by NBC, utilizing an audience of veterans on a set built at the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space museum aboard the decommissioned aircraft carrier Intrepid.

Lauer has co-hosted NBC’s morning Today Show since June, 1997, a span of 19 years entertaining America with feature stories, interviews with star entertainers and news stories.

NBC has an impressive team of news anchors and reporters who might have served as moderator of the Forum on the deck of the Intrepid Wednesday night. But Lauer has a morning audience and he is an NBC star.

What he did with Clinton and Trump was to interview them as the stars they have become, catching them off guard when possible.  

Lauer has his share of news coverage experience but he was hardly the best interviewer to probe the candidates on ISIS, the Middle East, veterans’ health care, and the rising tensions around the world, all issues that affect the military and veterans.

The Forum was billed on the Iraq Afghanistan Veterans of America web site as a program where the candidates would answer questions from veterans in the audience.

Lauer did not even get into foreign affairs for the first 12 minutes of his opening 30 minutes with Clinton. Instead, no doubt with the blessing of his bosses, he rehashed the email “controversy” which NBC thought would interest its viewers.

He also allowed Trump time to repeat his campaign lies against Clinton. Questions from military veterans were sparse in each half of the NBC Forum. It was not until Rachel Maddow took over the Intrepid stage for her MSNBC show following the Forum, that veterans asked their questions.

This presidential quadrennial event is supposed to allow American voters to evaluate opposing candidates and select the one person best equipped to serve as U.S. President. It has worked fairly well since the first selection of George Washington.

The election of 2016, however, has degenerated into a reality show designed to attract advertising sponsors, viewers, listeners and readers. The unexpected rise of Donald Trump entertained America in 2015 and 2016 with the encouragement of the media which profited from the reality show that is Donald Trump.

The Republican Party was so weakened by the presence of a virus called the Tea Party, that it could not coalesce around one, two or three sensible candidates for President until the day the nomination was seized by a messenger of hatred and fear.

They laughed when he first emerged. A few wise souls feared the worse, souls like Minnesota Congressman Keith Ellison who appeared on ABC’s This Week, with George Stephanopoulos,  July 26, 2015.

The presidential campaign was discussed. Ellison ventured his concern over the possibility that Donald Trump, with his campaign of hatred and fear, aimed especially at Muslims and Mexicans, might be elected president.

Stephanopoulos thought such an assertion was ridiculous. Another guest on the show laughed in protest.

After more than a year in a campaign for President of the United States, Donald J. Tump has displayed one talent: The ability to touch a strain of the American spirit which has fallen to a level of nativist distrust, hatred and fear of “others” of different races and colors.

Our national media joined in the laughter in July, 2015.

But true to its collective nature, that same national media could not resist allowing a man of such limited abilities to conduct a campaign of such deep fear and hate. The media knew a ratings winner when it smelled one.

Pretending to be dismayed, the media gave Trump his stage to race to the White House. His lies were outrageous, but they were rarely sufficiently challenged. 

Ronald Reagan was a movie performer for many years before he became governor of California. Donald Trump, who is now close to being the second media performer to be president, does not have Reagan’s film and television stature.

His career led him to one level of pop culture, as star of the television “reality” program, The Celebrity Apprentice, for 14 seasons. during which he “claims” to have received  precisely $213,606,575.

Trump was still under contract to NBC when he announced on June 16, 2015, that he would run for the Republican nomination for president.

News of his termination by NBC appeared on August 13, 2015 in a CBS story, under the headline, “Donald Trump officially fired from ‘The Celebrity Apprentice'”.

NBC’s entertainment chairman, Bob Greenblatt, announced Thursday while at the Television Critics Association Press Tour that the show would not be back next season, but will return in the future with a new host.

NBC cut ties with Trump in June after Trump made comments about Mexican immigrants and NBC canceled its airing of the Miss USA pageant.

“Due to the recent derogatory statements by Donald Trump regarding immigrants, NBCUniversal is ending its business relationship with Mr. Trump,” NBC said in a statement, adding, “At NBC, respect and dignity for all people are cornerstones of our values.”

One election away from the presidency, Donald Trump is asking America, “What have you got to lose”? The answer to that question should empower us all between now and November 8. 

Posted in Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, Media, Politics and Elections, Television | 8 Comments

Israel Remains The Untouchable Election Issue

by James M. Wallspotlight

In recent weeks, I have studied Spotlight, a film that should explain why our current presidential election is about none of the critical issues facing our nation.

This Clinton-Trump campaign, is, most certainly, not about the critical foreign policy issue of Israel’s expansive and repressive grip on Palestinian freedom. 

Spotlight is the 2015 Academy Award winning real-life examination of a team of journalists working to uncover, and identify, those at fault in a massive church cover-up.

The title comes from The Boston Globe‘s investigative team of reporters, which spent eight months examining the role of the Boston archdiocese hierarchy in covering up sexual abuse of children by priests.

Early in the film, two men, Boston Cardinal Bernard F. Law (Len Cariou) and Martin Baron (Liev Schreiber), the editor of The Globe, are in a quiet conversation.

The Cardinal says to the editor, “The city flourishes when its great institutions work together.” The editor politely dissents, arguing that the paper should stand alone.

Their conversation, New York Times critic A.O. Scott, wrote, “sets up the film’s central conflict”. He continues:

The image of two prominent men talking quietly behind closed doors, haunts this somber, thrilling movie and crystallizes its major concern, which is the way power operates in the absence of accountability.

Directed by Tom McCarthy from a script he co-wrote, Spotlight is in the rich tradition of an earlier investigative newspaper story, All the President’s Men, which exposed White House involvement in the Watergate Scandal. Globe-movie_FotorSpotlight won the Academy Award for best picture. McCarthy won the Academy Award for best original script, which he co-wrote with Josh Singer. McCarthy is currently one of our finest film-makers.  See his The Visitor for his creative take on immigration.

Spotlight will remind you that our media, at its best, does not cower before the institutions that shape our nation.

What the mainstream media does at its worst, however, which it is demonstrating during the present campaign, is to “work together with its institutions” to satisfy the demands of those institutions.

Little on the political front, for example, approaches the evil conduct of Israel in its repression of Palestinians, a repression that could not continue without American financial and political institutional support.

A presidential campaign should explore how to confront such conduct. This one does not. 

Fortunately, there are a few journalists, like Glenn Greenwald, who understand how the institution of mainstream media serves as one of Israel’s major enablers in Israel’s addiction to American power and money.

Greenwald appeared recently on the web site, Democracy Now, hosted by Amy Goodman. At one point in the interview, Goodman asked Greenwald about Trump. His answer began:

[Donald Trump], the person the Republican Party has nominated, on a personal level, is extraordinarily unstable and vindictive and dangerous and narcissistic, in a way that you really wouldn’t trust him to occupy any minor political office, let alone command the military of the United States and the entire executive branch.

Goodman also asked Greenwald about his recent essay, “As Israel Prospers, Obama Set to Give Billions More in Aid While Netanyahu Demands Even More.”  His response:

One of the things that happens during the election campaign is that all the focus of the media, and therefore the American public, goes to the personalities of the two candidates, and the U.S. government does incredibly important things, consequential things, that get ignored.

The United States already is by far the biggest benefactor of the Israeli government. We already give $3 billion a year in taxpayer money, in military aid, all sorts of other forms of aid, including diplomatic cover as they bomb Gaza, as they occupy the Palestinians, as they violate international law.

It’s because the U.S. government enables this. And we transfer all this money to Israel, even though, in many ways, Israel is more prosperous and thriving and its citizens enjoy more benefits than American citizens do, including universal healthcare and free college, which Israelis enjoy but the U.S. doesn’t, as we transfer billions of dollars to them.

One of the things that President Obama is doing, with almost no attention, is he has negotiated a deal with Israel to significantly increase the amount of money that Israel gets for 10 years, so no government, no future Congress can even reverse it, to give them many, many billions more than we’re already giving them.

The idea is to keep Israel militarily superior to its neighbors to ensure that they can continue to dominate the region without challenge, and also domestic political reasons, for the Democratic Party to show voters who care about Israel, namely evangelical and Jewish voters, that they are doing even more for Israel. And it’s incredibly consequential. 

Gideon Levy, the Israeli Ha’aretz columnist, continues to inform the world and remind his own government, that “what Israel does to the Palestinians, is incredibly immoral”.  

In a recent column, Levy cited population numbers that should shame Israel and its American enablers.

A state where half the subjects are denied rights can’t be democratic. In a state that doesn’t intend to change its borders or the nature of its rule, this discussion is merely part of the delusion of perpetually parading around naked but feeling fully clothed.

Two peoples equal in size live under Israeli rule: about 6.3 million Jews and 6.3 million Arabs. Half and half. That’s the outcome of 50 years of life in a binational state, not Jewish and not democratic. To the 1.8 million Arab citizens, you have to add the 2.7 million Palestinians living under direct Israeli rule in the West Bank, and about 1.8 million living under indirect Israeli rule in Gaza.

The fate of all these subjects, from registration at birth to the currency they use and most of their rights, is set in Israel. They are subject to its rule; they are part of the state.

Presidential candidate debates will soon begin. One question that should come up, but will not, is this:

Should the U.S. government continue a guaranteed increase of its current three billion dollars a year to the prosperous nation of Israel, even as Israel continues to oppress half of the population under its control?

The picture of Boston Globe staff members is from the film, Spotlight.

Posted in Movies, Politics and Elections | 8 Comments

Israel Defends Its False Narrative Against BDS

by James M. WallMinister of Public Security Gilad Erdan. (Yonatan Sindel:Flash90)

On one of my earliest reporting trips to Israel/Palestine in the early 1980s, I was assaulted by an Israeli government official wielding a wicked instrument called hasbara, Hebrew for propaganda.

I had latched on to a group of tourists who were being lectured to by an Israeli government official. I asked the official a question about the West Bank.

He whirled around to face me, his face contorted in a condescending smile.

“I know nothing about any West Bank”, he answered. “We have a Bank Leumi branch near here, but no West Bank”.

We both knew he was lying when he threw that verbal bomb at me, a weapon that Israel uses constantly to preserve a false narrative.

To sustain its invading colonial project, Israel constructed its own narrative history, utilizing a steady outpouring of hasbara (propaganda).

Hasbara tolerates no attack on Israel’s false narrative. My encounter in the 1980s was with an official who did not want “West Bank” to enter the minds of the tourists he was busy brain-washing.

This official was a soldier in the hasbara army. My question revealed that I was an enemy combatant who must be silenced.

This narrative has infected the world, most especially in the United States, where all centers of power adhere to the false narrative. Those who fail to embrace the narrative are  branded with that ultimate mark of shame, “anti-Semitism”.

BDS was created to combat the occupation the false narrative sustains. BDS is a non-violent tactic of boycotts, divestments and sanctions against corporations profiting from Israel’s occupation.

It was created by secular and religious groups who knew in time it could work to end the occupation just as a similar campaign brought down South Africa’s apartheid system.

BDS was not intended to eliminate Israel (a favorite Israeli false claim) but to call the world’s attention to the oppressiveness of the occupation.

Is BDS working? To use a Sarah Palin assertion, “you betcha”.

To measure its effectiveness, we need only take note that Israel has launched a massive effort to squelch BDS.

The latest Israeli government response came in July when Israel formally turned to other nations to shore up their war against BDS.

Israeli Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan (pictured above) warned a group of foreign diplomats, according to a report in The Times of Israel, that BDS “is a danger not only to Israel but to the entire free world”, a not-so-subtle linkage to terrorism.

“BDS should not be seen as a threat only to Israel — it is a threat to the international community, to your own countries, and to all who value human rights and freedom.”

Minister Erdan is a member of Israel’s high-level security cabinet. He is also minister for strategic affairs and public diplomacy (hasbara) and is responsible for the government’s efforts to fight the BDS movement.

Speaking to the diplomats, Erdan accused BDS proponents of taking “advantage of the freedom of expression to intimidate opponents and silence debate”.

That method of attack is designed to enlist other nations onto Israel’s “side” because if BDS works to “eliminate Israel” (a false claim), “similar methods will soon be used against other targets as well.”

“What starts with Israel will not end with Israel. Just as tactics perfected by Palestinian terrorists, such as airplane hijackings — and I don’t need to say more today — quickly spread to terror organizations around the world, BDS tactics will quickly spread to other groups.”

If that sounds familiar, it is because Minister Erdan is a master con man using classic con man tactics. He is the Middle East personification of Professor Harold Hill, from Meredith Wilson’s Music Man, conning the River City, Iowa, locals into believing danger lies ahead. 

MV5BNjA4NjUxNDk4M15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwNjc1Mjk3OA@@._V1_UY268_CR9,0,182,268_AL_Harold Hill: Mothers of River City, heed that warning before it’s too late! Watch for the telltale signs of corruption! The minute your son leaves the house, does he rebuckle his knickerbockers below the knee? Is there a nicotine stain on his index finger? A dime-novel hidden in the corncrib? Is he starting to memorize jokes from Captain Billy’s Whiz-Bang?

Ladies and gentlemen, either you are closing your eyes to a situation you do not wish to acknowledge, or you are not aware of the caliber of disaster indicated by the presence of a pool table in your community!

Minister Erdan would have the world believe there is a looming danger they are not seeing. BDS is described as a giant pool table in our communities, determined to destroy all that we hold dear. 

Nations that yield again and again to Israel’s false narrative have stood by since 1947, looking the other way as Israel marches across Palestinian land, eliminating or constraining an entire indigenous population.

Turning the spotlight on Israel and away from River City, Iowa, we must see that Israel’s hasbara is a classic con man tactic, deceiving the world by disguising their Palestinian occupation as essential to “security” for Israel, the occupiers.

In its creation of a false narrative, Israel follows the example of its sponsor and empirical mentor, the United States. In a performance in Australia, Pete Seeger, below, sings Tom Paxton’s children’s song, “What Did You Learn In School Today”. Click arrow to play.

 

Posted in Folk Music, Israel, Middle East Politics, Movies, Palestinians | 5 Comments

In The Beginning Was Trump’s False Birther Tweet

by James M. WallSworn in 09 Wikipedia

In the beginning was Donald J. Trump’s false birther tweet, posted four years ago.

The Los Angeles TimesMatt Pearce remembers: “On Aug. 6, 2012, the Twitter account @realDonaldTrump posted an important public announcement: “An ‘extremely credible source’ called my office and told me that @BarackObama’s birth certificate is a fraud’.”

Donald Trump’s presidential campaign began with that false statement from an “extremely credible source”.

The birther allegation was so obviously false that it should have fallen into the trash heap of absurdity. Instead, an alarming number of Republican voters took the birther nonsense seriously enough to launch Trump’s campaign for president, a campaign one final election away from placing “birther” Trump in the White House.

Trump’s style of short falsehoods embellished with insulting adjectives (“crooked Hillary”), is tailor-made for Twitter. The Times‘ Mike Pearce points to August 6, four years ago, and asks:

Who was the source? (Why was “extremely credible source” in quotation marks?) Donald Trump didn’t say. Nor did he offer evidence to back up his claim. But out it went to his millions of Twitter followers.

Trump’s style has not changed. His tweets and public speeches continue with the same misleading bellicosity with the hashtag ‏@realDonaldTrump. Here is one recent 2016 tweet:

The failing @nytimes has become a newspaper of fiction. Their stories about me always quote non-existent unnamed sources. Very dishonest!

The polls, state by state, show that Trump is headed for a blowout defeat. In a normal campaign this would be a call for shift in strategy. Trump, however, is not running a normal campaign.  Why won’t he change?

Peter Danou, former advisor to both Hillary Clinton and John Kerry, writes in his Blue Nation Review:

Donald Trump is not running a campaign to win the American presidency. Rather, he is using his presidential run as a vehicle to achieve a larger personal ambition: To be seen as the leader of a “white [nationalist] awakening” — the term David Duke used to describe his campaign.

Accustomed to political campaigns run to be won, Danou’s proposition appears far-fetched. But is it? Danou again:

By accident or design, Trump is now seeking what he sees as a greater glory than the mere presidency. His strategy could be described as “lose at all costs.” That’s not to say he wants to lose. Far from it. He’d happily advance his agenda from the Oval Office.

That makes more sense. Trump wants to win. He is gambling that his twitter style campaigning could put him in the White House. If he loses?

Peter Danou suggests that Trump. . . 

. . . is willing to pay the price of defeat, denunciation and even disgrace to become a (darkly) transformational figure in American history, organizing and empowering the extreme right, mainstreaming their views with the help of a timid national media, and fully awakening the forces of bigotry and intolerance that lurk in the shadows of American society.

We’ve seen this movie before. The modern state of Israel was founded on the certainty that only Jews should control their state. Ethnic/racial nationalism is another form of white nationalism.

Since 1947, succeeding Israeli governments have marched behind their ethnic nationalism, playing on western guilt to emerge as the last remaining white colonial empire. Non-Jews, the indigenous Palestinians, were to be systematically removed.

The most recent obscene removal action was reported Sunday by Ha’aretz: Efrat would expand

Israel is conducting a land survey between the settlement of Efrat, (right) and the area to its east with an eye toward declaring state land there, according to a document submitted by the state to the High Court of Justice last week. According to the document, the survey has been undertaken “in a manner that will create contiguity of state lands.” 

Meanwhile, in the U.S. political campaign which ignores Israel’s oppressive occupation, the latest (August 14) count on Electoral Vote finds Hillary Clinton leading 368 to 164, with six states too close to call.

This movement to Clinton virtually guarantees the election of one of Israel’s favorite politicians. Old war hawks likes neoconservative John Negroponte see in Clinton a kindred spirit:

In the 1980s, [Negroponte] served as the U.S. ambassador to Honduras. In addition to (at best) covering for that country’s murderous autocrats, he also served the Reagan Administration by helping to turn Honduras into a staging area for American-trained death squads in places like El Salvador and Guatemala.

The Republican establishment, aware of the danger to its own brand and vulnerable down-ballot candidates, moved to soften Trump’s tweeter style. Matt Pearce found a more conventional tone in some of Trump’s tweets.

Trump has gotten in trouble several times for retweeting images linked to white supremacists. But Trump’s addition of veteran communications advisor Jason Miller to his campaign in June has corresponded with a somewhat calmer-seeming social media presence. This has led outsiders to scour Trump’s tweets to figure out which are sent by his staff and which are fired off by Trump himself.

One of those outsiders was data scientist David Robinson of New York, who was curious about the professionalization of some of Trump’s recent Twitter feeds. 

“A lot of Americans are fascinated with the raw Donald Trump, not the image the campaign puts forward,” said Robinson.

Compiling data from Trump’s tweets, Robinson published a deep analysis this week that showed Trump tweets originating from different devices — both iPhone and Android — and which showed that Android Trump is quite a bit more belligerent than iPhone Trump. . .”When Trump wishes the Olympic team good luck, he’s tweeting from his iPhone. When he’s insulting a rival, he’s usually tweeting from an Android,” Robinson wrote.

The “raw Donald Trump” uses an Android phone to send out his “dog whistle” political language tweets. His staff uses an iPhone. Trump’s Android coded tweets convey “white nationalism”.  His political adherents hear his meaning the way a dog hears a whistle humans cannot hear.

The congratulation and thank-you tweets are conventional messages that mean what they say. 

 From his earliest campaign speeches and tweets, Trump’s warning of Mexican immigrants “flooding across our borders” sends his racist message to those who long for just such a message.

Trump is also preparing his followers with rationale for losing by using a phrase like “rigged election” or a word like “cheating”, a term he employed this weekend in Pennsylvania. 

To conclude this journey into the dark side of a possible Trump victory, one spontaneous incident offers hope.

In his Sunday column, which is concerned that Trump is making the U.S. a “meaner nation”, New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof reported one example of America at its best.  

In Georgia, an India-born Muslim named Malik Waliyani bought a gas station and convenience store a few months ago and was horrified when it was recently burglarized and damaged. He struggled to keep it going. But then the nearby Smoke Rise Baptist Church heard what had happened.

“Let’s shower our neighbor with love,” Chris George, the pastor, told his congregation at the end of his sermon, and more than 200 members drove over to assist, mostly by making purchases. One man drove his car around until the gas tank was empty, so he could buy more gas.

Our hope at this moment is that those Smoke Rise Baptists, from Stone Mountain, Georgia, represent more southern voters than those Trump can rouse with his racist “dog whistles”.

The picture at top of Barack Obama being sworn in for his first term in January, 2009, is from Wikipedia. The picture from the illegal Efrat settlement is from Ha’aretz.

Posted in Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, Politics and Elections | 8 Comments

Trump Goes Off Script In Worst Possible Way

by James M. Wallla-1470263827-snap-photo

How long, O Lord, must we suffer outbursts of dangerous rhetoric from Donald J. Trump? The latest example, this time in Wilmington, North Carolina, is reported in the New York Times:

The Republican nominee, reports the Times, “appeared to raise the possibility that gun rights supporters could take matters into their own hands if Hillary Clinton is elected president and appoints judges who favor stricter gun control measures to the bench.”

The candidate then “warned that it would be ‘a horrible day’ if Mrs. Clinton were elected and got to appoint a tie-breaking Supreme Court justice.”

“If she gets to pick her judges, nothing you can do, folks,” Mr. Trump said, as the crowd began to boo. He quickly added: “Although the Second Amendment people — maybe there is, I don’t know

Kayleigh McEnany, a surrogate for Trump, spoke with CNN with her “spin”, saying her candidate was referencing the National Rifle Association (NRA).

Here is her “spin” and the clip of Trump’s threat:

During the reign of England’s King Henry II, in December 1170, Thomas Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury, was murdered.  

A United Kingdom Learning site records that history this way:

When Becket asked the pope to excommunicate the Archbishop of York who had taken sides with the king [Henry II], it was a very serious request and a very serious punishment for someone who could claim that he was only being loyal to the king.

Henry was furious when he found out what Becket had done. He is said to have shouted out “will no-one rid me of this troublesome priest?”

Four knights heard what Henry had shouted and took it to mean that the king wanted Becket dead. They rode to Canterbury to carry out the deed.

The knights were Reginald FitzUrse, William de Tracey, Hugh de Morville and Richard le Breton. On December 29th 1170, they killed Becket in Canterbury Cathedral. After killing him, one of the knights said “Let us away. He will rise no more.”

History never repeats itself in precise ways. But history sends echoes through the centuries to remind us of consequences that flow from men of power speaking irresponsibly, carelessly and foolishly.

History records that King Henry II walked on his bare feet to Canterbury to repent of his role in the murder of Thomas Becket. The death of Becket, and its consequences, are captured in the movie, Becket. 

Donald Trump shows no sign of repenting of his statement, that some commentators have said was a thinly-veiled call for assassination.

That is probably not the case. It was most likely not intended as an actual threat. but merely the exaggerations of a bully who thinks he is being subtle in front of his gang. 

Trump is not walking in bare feet anywhere, unless he is relaxing in a spa in one of his hotels. Instead Trump left it to his campaign spokesman, Jason Miller, to provide the campaign explanation to this latest outburst.

Miller tried to “spin” Trump’s outrageous language by saying the candidate was referring to the “power of unification”.

Miller claimed Trump was speaking of “Second Amendment people”, who “have amazing spirit and are tremendously unified, which gives them great political power. And this year, they will be voting in record numbers, and it won’t be for Hillary Clinton, it will be for Donald Trump.”

The response to Trump’s outburst has been overwhelmingly negative. The Times looked for some of them.

The implied threat against Clinton prompted a reaction from a Secret Service spokesman, who refused to identify himself, who said the agency was “aware of the comments”. He did not elaborate.

The Times also reported:

Senator Elizabeth Warren, Democrat of Massachusetts, wrote on Twitter that Mr. Trump “makes death threats because he’s a pathetic coward who can’t handle the fact that he’s losing to a girl.”

Mr. Trump’s campaign events have grown increasingly vitriolic, with angry chants and jeers directed at Mrs. Clinton. People at his rallies have, with greater frequency, loudly called for violence against Mrs. Clinton — catcalls that Mr. Trump has generally let pass.

We have to assume that Trump will go off-script on many occasions, leaving surrogates to clean up behind him.

His staff has tried to clean up his act. But performers like Trump don’t change under command. He operates the way a comedian riffs when performing before a rowdy nightclub audience, responding to the emotional and value level of his audience.

Good judgment is not in his makeup. A crying baby serves him as a foil like a character in a silent movie. He tolerates the crying, saying he loves babies. Within minutes he orders his minions to boot the baby out of the hall.

This is a man who craves adulation and affection and whose communication skills are sadly limited to that of a schoolyard bully.

Trump will continue to belittle his betters with whatever language he dregs up from decades of business battles, many of which he lost.

Each time he dips into his pool of irrational thoughts and blurts them out to others, exposes him as untrained, uninformed and utterly incapable of holding any government position where he has any power over human lives. 

Some Republican officials have been reported in search of a way to usher Trump out of the nomination. They nominated him; they now desperately need a way to de-nominate him.

Polling shows him headed downward in states he needs to win in November. But do these polls accurately reflect the passions of his angry followers?

If the polls are wrong, and Trump actually wins in November, then we are headed for the sort of national calamities Ghostbuster Bill Murray described as those of “biblical proportions”. 

Trump has promoted his name brand in business and on reality television. He rode his brand through the Republican primaries. Now, facing the actual task of running the nation, he may be preparing to leave the stage.

Why else would he be talking of the general election being “rigged” against him. Could this be his strategy for a brand-saving exit?

On Tuesday, Rep. Paul Ryan won his Republican primary race to retain his Wisconsin congressional seat. Ryan had earlier “reluctantly” agreed to be House Speaker.

Is it possible Ryan will now “reluctantly” step in to save his party and save the nation from the embarrassment of more Trumpian outbursts?

The clock is running.

 

Posted in Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, Politics and Elections | 5 Comments

Republicans Panic While Neo-Cons Rush to Clinton

by James M. WallMartin Niemöller

As the November 8 election looms larger with each passing day, Republican party leaders are now in a “panic mode”.

On Wednesday, the Los Angeles Times reported, “Donald Trump’s relations with the Republican Party – and his political fortunes – worsened dramatically  as party leaders fretted openly about the inability of his campaign staff to control him and even began to discuss what to do if their unpredictable nominee suddenly quit the race.”

Donald Trump bulldozed his way to the Republican nomination for president in a campaign in which the “unfit” charge was raised and ignored by an alarming majority of Republican voters.

So it comes down to the final bout between Trump and Clinton.

Pause, for a moment if you must, and ask the question about the third-party option. I repeat my answer that a third-party vote is a wasted vote. Movements don’t win elections until they enter the ring for the final bout.

Progressives came close to entering this year’s final bout behind Bernie Sanders. They lost, which means they must turn their zeal and energy toward building a successful progressive political party that will keep alive the ideals espoused by Sanders in his unsuccessful race against Hillary Clinton.

The Progressive option now is to look ahead to 2020 and mount another progressive campaign for the nomination.la-1470263827-snap-photo

Meanwhile, there is the vote on November 8 between a militaristic Hillary Clinton and her opponent Trump, who is not just filled with unclear and uncertain policy ideas, but has been described by no less an authority than President Obama as “unfit” to serve in the office.

Which candidate poses the greatest danger with his or her fingers on buttons of mass destruction? If you vote for Trump, or a third party, then you are exercising your freedom to select someone who is not only unfit for the office, but dangerous.

The case against Clinton as a neoconservative militarist is massive. It is just not massive enough to give the White House to a man Joe Scarborough reported on MSNBC who asked a foreign policy expert, three times, “Why can’t we use nuclear arms?”

Paul Jay on Real News Network said, during an interview with Lawrence Wilkinson, that Clinton or Trump offers a horrible choice.

Wilkerson is a retired United States Army officer and former chief of staff to United States Secretary of State Colin Powell. He is now an adjunct professor at the College of William and Mary where he teaches courses on US national security.

In his interview with Jay, he said, “I would say in her first term she will get us into a war”.

In These Times was out this week with a piece on neocons for Hillary, identifying an all-star team of neocon heavyweights this way:

Concerned that Trump would “destroy American foreign policy and the international system,” author Max Boot told Vox that Clinton would be “vastly preferable.”

Historian Robert Kagan has also come out in favor of Clinton, saying he feels “comfortable with her on foreign policy.” Eliot Cohen, a former Bush administration official who has been called “the most influential neocon in academe,” declared Clinton “the lesser evil, by a large margin.”

She may be the lesser evil to many. She is also the first woman to come this close to the presidency in U.S. history. Her preference, as shown in many instances, for the military option over diplomacy, remains disturbing.

Her devotion to Israel and her willingness to explain away the many sins of the current right-wing Israeli government is in line with heavy majorities in Congress, though not in the US public.

It is not a good choice, but it is our only remaining choice. Clinton may surprise us with wise decisions on foreign policy. Certainly her appointive powers over the judicial branch would be a huge gift to this democracy. 

She remains the best available option for the presidency. Looking back, it would be wrong to link Trump to the rise of Adolph Hitler. Such historical parallels are always imprecise.

But the actions of any dictatorial-minded president may be seen as akin to what happened to the German people.

Remembering that era is to be reminded of what may happen to a nation when it votes for a leader because of ignorance, hatred and fear.

On November 25, 2015, the Washington Post ran a story about a TV ad from presidential candidate and Ohio Governor John Kasich, which paraphrased a warning from German Protestant Pastor Martin Niemöller (picture at top).

Kasich was one of the opponents vanquished by Trump as he won the Republican nomination with a campaign built on fear and hate.

Niemöller’s original warning came in a sermon he delivered on January 6, 1946, to the representatives of the Confessing Church in Frankfurt, Germany.

The Kasich ad features a paraphrase of Niemöller’s famous statement which reminded his German audience of what led them into World War II horrors.

Niemöller said in Frankfurt, in 1946, a few months after the war ended::

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

In the video ad for John Kascih, Colonel Tom Moe, United States Air Force, and a former prisoner of war in Vietnam, paraphrased Niemöller:

You might not care if Donald Trump says Muslims must register with the government, because you’re not one. And you might not care if Donald Trump says he’s going to round up all the Hispanic immigrants, because you’re not one. And you might not care if Donald Trump says it’s OK to rough up black protesters, because you’re not one. And you might not care that Donald Trump wants to suppress journalists, because you’re not one.

But think about this. If he keeps going and he actually becomes president, he might just get around to you, and you better hope that there’s someone left to help you.

The picture of Protestant Pastor Martin Niemöller at top, is from https://ghufrang.wordpress.com/tag/pastor-martin-niemoller/

The picture of Donald Trump is cropped from an AP photo by Evan Vucci,

Posted in Bernie Sanders, Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, Israel, Politics and Elections | 11 Comments

“Boundless Confidence In America’s Promise”

Screen Shot 2016-07-29 at 5.20.08 AM

UPDATE: Initially, I wrote in this posting that “presumably the ‘very little guy’ in Trump’s diatribe is Senator Tim Kaine, of Virginia, Clinton’s choice as her vice-president.”

Two days later, Trump tweeted that he was referring to former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, a speaker at the convention.

News of that tweet arrived from Forward, a Jewish publication and the New York Daily News.

Is this the first of many moments in the Trump so-far “non” campaign, when the Republican nominee builds a case that he is not really serious about winning the election? 

by James M. Wall

On August 18, 1920, the U.S. Congress ratified the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, granting women the right to vote. 

On Thursday night, July 28, 2016, just short of 96 years later, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was nominated by the Democratic National Convention to become the next president of the United States. 

Almost a century after women gained the right to vote, a woman is now one election away from becoming president.

As the Raw Story website explained, her nomination delivered a “competing — and compelling — vision to the dark, dystopian fantasy served up last week by [the Republican nominee] Donald Trump”.

Clinton accepted her party’s nomination “with humility, determination, and boundless confidence in America’s promise,” adding, “tonight, we’ve reached a milestone in our nation’s march toward a more perfect union.”

It was her convention, a four-day televised production, that, as Raw Story wrote, wove  “traditionally conservative themes, such as patriotism, military service, small-town values and the virtues of hard work, into an inclusive and socially liberal narrative lauding shared sacrifice and civic virtue”.

The election campaign, which includes races for the presidency and for congress, will be a significant chapter in American history, which History.com puts in context:

The 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution granted American women the right to vote—a right known as woman suffrage. At the time the U.S. was founded, its female citizens did not share all of the same rights as men, including the right to vote.

It was not until 1848 that the movement for women’s rights launched on a national level with a convention in Seneca Falls, New York, organized by abolitionists Elizabeth Cady Stanton (1815-1902) and Lucretia Mott (1793-1880).

Following the convention, the demand for the vote became a centerpiece of the women’s rights movement. Stanton and Mott, along with Susan B. Anthony (1820-1906) and other activists, formed organizations that raised public awareness and lobbied the government to grant voting rights to women. After a 70-year battle, these groups finally emerged victorious with the passage of the 19th Amendment.

Clinton’s major opponent for the nomination, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, graciously conceded and called for a unanimous affirmation of her nomination. Some of his delegates were not so gracious, threatening to cast their votes on November 8 for someone other than Clinton.

That reluctance to get behind the party nominee is not a new phenomenon in American politics. It is the story of democracy.

But with Donald Trump as the only major option available to voters, it is time for the Sanders’ supporters, many young and new to politics, to view the consequences of their refusal to support their party’s nominee.

In the official count for the 1968 presidential election between Richard Nixon, Hubert Humphrey and George Wallace, Nixon won over Humphrey by less than one percent of the popular vote. 

Five years later, after winning a second term, Nixon was forced to resign over the Watergate scandal.

In that 1968 election independent candidate and segregationist hero, George Wallace, won 46 electoral votes with 13.53% of the total popular vote.  

Reflect on these returns from 1968 and ponder what happens when a third party throws a proverbial “monkey wrench” into a presidential race:

Screen Shot 2016-07-25 at 1.32.02 PM

Almost ten million votes were cast for racial segregation adherents in a presidential race forty-eight years ago.

Would a Hubert Humphrey presidency have been superior to the Richard Nixon presidency? That is a “what if” question for history to ponder. What is pertinent to this year’s presidential election is that in 1968, a vote for a third party might have been a statement, but how did it affect the final result?

Votes for third parties in November could give Donald Trump the White House. And what would that mean?

ABC News described one reaction from Donald Trump to the Democratic convention:

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump said Thursday afternoon he wanted to “hit” some of the Democratic National Convention speakers “so hard” while watching them last night, including a “little guy. . .so hard his head would spin”. 

“You know what I wanted to. I wanted to hit a couple of those speakers so hard,” Trump said. “I would have hit them. No, no. I was going to hit them, I was all set and then I got a call from a highly respected governor.”

Trump didn’t immediately clarify what he meant, but he said he was made particularly upset by an unspecified person he called a “little guy.”

Presumably, the “very little guy” in Trump’s diatribe is Senator Tim Kaine, of Virginia, Clinton’s choice as her vice-president.

In the campaigning 100 days before November 8, we should expect more of these bombastic bar room outbursts from Trump. Is this man a potential Commander in Chief? Does he fit the mold of an American president?

The answer is obviously, no.

The picture of Hillary Clinton and the 1968 election results, are Screen Shots.

 

Posted in Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, Politics and Elections | 8 Comments

Big Brother or Hillary: A Final Muddled Choice

Carolyn Kasteer:AP Daily Beast

By James M. Wall

George Orwell’s 1984 is now dangerously close to reality. In the picture above, Donald J. Trump looms on the large screen behind the nominee, bringing an ominous reminder of Orwell’s “Big Brother”.

The acceptance speech Trump gave on the closing night of the Republican National Convention was filled with emotional shouts designed to engender fear. 

Donald John Trump’s speech echoed a tone across the years, a reminder of four of Orwell’s oft-quoted slogans from his 1949 dystopian novel, 1984: “War is peace; Freedom is slavery; Ignorance is strength; Big Brother is Watching You.”

The Democrats will nominate Hillary Clinton this week. On Friday, she announced Virginia Senator Tim Kaine as her vice-presidential choice, a decision which could stir a negative convention response from Bernie Sanders’ delegates.  

It is, however, an establishment choice her delegates and donor base will embrace. 

Vote for Jill Stein’s Green Party or Gary Johnson’s Libertarian Party if you like. But remember, a third-party vote is a feel-good protest. Save it to vote for next year’s Homecoming Queen and King.

The harsh reality is that we have reached a moment of serious choice where we have the power to give the White House to Orwell’s “Big Brother” or to the Establishment’s Chosen One.george-orwell-6

Choices of this magnitude are never easy. Not to choose, however, is to hide in fear in a fox hole on our national political battlefield.

Donald Trump’s acceptance speech gave us more than enough reason to stay with the Establishment, as distasteful as four more years of neoliberal militarism will be.

Molly Ball, in The Atlantic, offered her analysis of the convention that pushed this nation to its penultimate decision for president. She began:

And so it came to pass, in the year 2016, on a sunny day in America’s heartland, in a hall smelling of sweat and popcorn and filled with a seething, roaring crowd, that Donald Trump—builder, shocker, demagogue, smasher of certainties, destroyer of the Republican Party, winner—accepted his party’s nomination, with a vow to restore order.

“Americans watching this address tonight have seen the recent images of violence in our streets and the chaos in our communities,” Trump proclaimed, his hand slicing the air, his pompadour gleaming with the reflection of hundreds of lights. “I have a message for all of you: The crime and violence that today afflicts our nation will soon—and I mean very soon—come to an end,” he added. . . .

Trump exploits the senseless deaths of police officers, to create fear in his listeners. It was a simplistic, bombastic Trump “toe in the water” dip into a complex domestic crisis. He promises to “restore order” to the nation “very soon”.

Does he not know? Has he not been told? Cities and states are responsible for law enforcement, not the federal government.

Trump moved deeply into his fear and hatred diatribe with many facts that were wrong. Juan Cole identified one of many distortions (he has others):

AP’s Fact Check found that as usual Donald Trump’s statistics in his GOP acceptance speech are way beyond the ‘damned lies’ level. So here are some illustrative graphs to suggest the level of his duplicity: “Homicides last year increased by 17 percent in America’s 50 largest cities. That’s the largest increase in 25 years.” (Statistica)

Actually violent crime including murder has fallen precipitously in the US since 1990. The murder rate is historically low, which means that year to year statistical fluctuations can easily be exaggerated. . . .

Trump not only gave voters a display of how tyranny is born, but in so doing, he has damaged the Republican Party as the preserver of conservative values. For some, “the party died” in the Cleveland convention.

That death is painfully described in this interview with Nicole Wallace, a veteran Republican party professional:

The picture at top is by Carolyn Kasteer. It is an AP photo that appeared in the Daily Beast.

Posted in Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton | 4 Comments