Patterico's Pontifications

5/24/2024

Weekend Open Thread

Filed under: General — Dana @ 9:22 am



[guest post by Dana]

Let’s go!

First news item

Spot-on:

Call it anomie or call it airsickness—we find ourselves in a land of confusion. Trump pays off a porn star and yet is hailed as a champion of Christian values. He mocks prisoners of war and calls dead soldiers “suckers,” and his MAGA base is thrilled by his patriotism. And, as Tom Nichols notes in The Atlantic today, Trump brags about his tight relationship with America’s implacable adversary, Vladimir Putin, claiming that the Russian president will release detained Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich “for me, but not for anyone else.”

To hear conservative Christians argue that personal character doesn’t matter, or to witness self-described constitutional conservatives defend a relentless attack on the rule of law, is disorienting. To see advocates of law and order embrace rioters who attacked the Capitol and beat police officers is baffling. To watch the party of Ronald Reagan embracing isolationism and following Trump in truckling to the Butcher of Ukraine, Putin, is bewildering. Mind-bending, also, is that, despite Trump’s fire hose of lies, 71 percent of Republicans describe him as “honest and trustworthy.” Recent polls suggest that Trump is leading President Joe Biden in the swing states that will decide the November election.

Maybe that’s why following the news these days feels like swallowing crazy pills. You don’t have to be a particularly cynical observer of American politics to recognize that, past a certain point, no norms endure that cannot be abandoned, and that any position can be flipped if doing so is expedient.

This is a gift article. Make sure to read it

Second news item

Rep. Ilhan Omar went after UCLA Chancellor Gene Block at a hearing today, blaming him for the violence that erupted on campus. In part:

You [Block] could have prevented this when an anonymous group funded and constructed a giant video with loudspeakers to play vile and disturbing footage.’

The pro-Israel camp set up screens outside the pro-Gaza camp to play footage from the October 7 Hamas attack.

I’m glad that Rep. Omar considers the images of the October 7 attack by Hamas as “vile and disturbing,” because the images were vile and disturbing, as was the attack itself. However, pretty sure her point wasn’t to condemn Hamas for their barbarity but to blame Block for allowing the protesters to be traumatized by the video.

Third news item

California Democrats shame themselves:

“Democrats don’t want the public to know they’re protecting pedophiles, that’s why they cut my mic on the Assembly Floor! This is not democracy–it is tyranny.” That is what Assemblyman Bill Essayli said after attempting on Tuesday to get his bill heard to require law enforcement to deport convicted illegal alien child sex offenders. Essayli tried to force a vote on AB 2641, to end sanctuary protections for illegals convicted of sex crimes against minors.

Assemblyman Essayli’s legislation was inspired by Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) announcement that an illegal alien who raped an American child was released from California state custody. He says this is a direct result of California’s Sanctuary State laws for illegal immigrants.

A vote was taken, and not a single Democrat in the Assembly voted in support of hearing Essayli’s bill.

30 elected officials chose not to vote.

Offending the Latino voting bloc vs. protecting children? Should be an easy choice, but sadly, it’s always only about politics. The 30 who didn’t vote should have had enough backbone to do the jobs they were elected to do. Shame on California.

Fourth news item

JVW points out the absurdity of what is happening in Maine:

This is absolutely nuts:

A Maine city is weighing an ordinance to accommodate a large influx of homeless people—the vast majority of them migrants—with multiple housing options, including private single-family homes.

The migrants, described by one Westbrook city official as “new Mainers” who receive between 90 and 95 percent of the city’s welfare benefits, would be housed in private homes, churches and community centers under a proposed ordinance presented to city officials on Monday.

However, private residences and churches would not have to take in homeless individuals unless they expressed a desire to do so.

Well, you know the Third Amendment only prohibits the mandatory quartering of troops in private homes, so I guess the leaders of Westbrook are being mighty generous in not forcing their fellow “old Mainers” to quarter migrants. Moving right along:

Harison Deah, director of general assistance, made the comment about migrants making up just about all of the “new Mainers” requiring housing assistance, The Maine Wire reported.

He told officials on April 9 that his office has had to instruct migrants on how to do relatively basic tasks when housed, like using a thermostat. Those receiving tax-sponsored benefits are also taught how not to anger fellow tenants and neighbors.

The average client is on general assistance for between one and two and a half years, Deah said.
Assistance would come out of the pockets of both statewide taxpayers and those in Westbrook, the latter of whom would be on the hook for approximately 30 percent of the costs.

“I do not believe the entire homeless shelter proposal is beneficial to the property taxpayers and residents of the city of Westbrook,” resident Martin Malia said during a May 7 Planning Board meeting, according to The Maine Wire. “Last year, the property taxpayers were burdened with an 8.8 [percent] tax increase.

He also expressed concerns about migrants coming to the city to take advantage of a system paid for by citizens already there.

Taking up to 95% of the town’s welfare spending, and remaining on public assistance for one to two-and-a-half years? Remember when the pro-illegal immigration crowd tried to tell us that immigration (including unlawful immigration) was a win/win for our economy? These people are complete frauds. And anybody who voted for these clowns deserves to be hit with an 8.8% property tax increase as a consequence of their own stupidity.

Fifth news item

This, by the UN General Assembly, is indefensible:

The President of the UN General Assembly has called a meeting of the assembly to pay tribute to Ebrahim Raisi, the president of Islamic Republic, or as we Iranians used to call him, the Butcher of Tehran.

Imagine the irony: honoring the man in New York who sent killers here to assassinate me. I’m alive and well, and proud to be honoring his demise instead.

Once again another disgraceful event honoring autocratic regimes at the UN.

…I strongly condemn the actions of the President of the UN Assembly.

This action not only betrays the Iranian nation but also undermines the values of democracy, dignity, and human rights that the global community holds dear.

Raisi, who personally lashed, tortured, and exploited thousands of innocent people, symbolizes the brutal oppression faced by countless Iranians. Honoring such a dictator is an affront to every single victim of his regime and to the principles of justice and humanity.

Sixth news item

Making a strong case as to why appeasement won’t work with Putin:

Mr. Biden and aides believe there’s a red line that would unleash a more severe reaction from Mr. Putin. They just don’t know exactly where that is, or what the reaction might be, says NYTimes

There is no way to win the war with such beliefs.

These beliefs shape a policy of containment. The problem is that it is Ukraine that is contained, not Russia.

An example of such a policy is a ban on Ukraine to use the US weapons to strike Russia.

Zelensky to NYTimes. Key points.

1. The U.S. policy of no strikes on Russia

Zelensky: I have asked Blinken, I have asked Sullivan, I have asked everyone … let’s us strike Russians when they gather at the border to attack us.

NYTimes: But the consensus around that policy is fraying

Indeed, what we saw yesterday was a serious pushback from the House

First, Ukraine President Zelensky. Now, House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman McCaul!

They demand Biden administration finally lets Ukraine strike Russia on its territory.

McCaul says it is Sullivan behind the flawed policy.

Just recently Zelensky said that he has asked Sullivan and Blinken to let strike Russians gathering just across the border to attack.

But the U.S. says no…

During his recent visit to Ukraine, Secretary Blinken made a remark that was interpreted as a change in policy. But Pentagon and the White House were quick to rectify that perception. This is a long standing policy that puts Ukraine at disadvantage.

Zelensky actually went further and said that the U.S. is afraid of Russia losing. But the implication of this policy – the war will go on.

Nevertheless, the U.S. administration has asked Ukraine not to hit Russia at all, even with Ukrainian made weapons.

Can you win a war without hitting hard enemy strongholds?

Why does the administration believe that Putin can be reasoned with?

When has Putin ever shown that there is a red line for him that he will not cross?

Seventh news item

No backsies. The emotional damage to this family is already done:

American Airlines is changing direction after saying that a young girl was negligent after being recorded by a flight attendant in the lavatory.

In the filing on May 21 the airline claimed that one of the plaintiffs, a 9-year-old girl, was recorded in the bathroom through her “own fault and negligence.

“[The] Plaintiff’s use of the compromised lavatory, which she knew or should have known contained a visible and illuminated recording device,” American Airlines response to the petition said.

In a statement to USA TODAY, American Airlines said that there was an error in the filing.

“Our outside legal counsel retained with our insurance company made an error in this filing. The included defense is not representative of our airline and we have directed it be amended this morning,” an American Airlines spokesperson said in a statement. “We do not believe this child is at fault and we take the allegations involving a former team member very seriously. Our core mission is to care for people — and the foundation of that is the safety and security of our customers and team.”

Have a good weekend.

—Dana

5/23/2024

Oregon Ousts Progressive DA: Enough is Enough

Filed under: General — Dana @ 7:59 am



[guest post by Dana]

When voters have had enough…even in Portland:

Centrist district attorney candidate Nathan Vasquez has ousted the incumbent progressive prosecutor in Oregon’s Multnomah County, home to Portland, after running a campaign in which he vowed to be tough on crime.

One of District Attorney Mike Schmidt’s deputies, Vasquez was endorsed by several police groups. He won Tuesday’s nonpartisan primary election after returns showed him receiving more than 50% of the vote. While there was a write in option, Vasquez and Schmidt were the only two candidates in the race.

According to the report, Schmidt had vowed to reform the criminal justice system. He was responsible for initiatives “to review wrongful convictions and prison sentences and focus prosecutions on violent crime rather than low-level offenses”. He had also supported a ballot measure to decriminalize possession of small amounts of drugs. That measure has since been rolled back, in light of the number of overdoses.

Upon his win, Vasquez said:

“I am committed to ending open air drug dealing and drug use while helping connect individuals to treatment, to rebuilding the broken relationships between the DA’s office and the community, and to ensuring that victims are the number one priority of my office,” he added.

When open drug use with minimal or no consequences increases, as well as an increasing homeless population puts businesses and tax paying residents at risk while impeding a city’s ability to function, more of these surprise outcomes will happen. See: San Francisco, Seattle.

–Dana

5/22/2024

Nikki Haley Voting For Trump

Filed under: General — Dana @ 3:43 pm



[guest post by Dana]

I guess I’m not surprised that Nikki Haley will be voting for Trump. She made a political calculation and because she wants a future in the Republican Party, she will suck it up and vote for someone that she called “unhinged” and “not qualified to be the president of the United States.” Party first:

Former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley plans to vote for Donald Trump, she said Wednesday in her first public remarks since exiting the Republican presidential primary more than two months ago.

Haley said Trump “has not been perfect” on policies important to her, including foreign policy, immigration and the economy, but President Joe Biden “has been a catastrophe.”

“So I will be voting for Trump,” said Haley…

I don’t know if this means she will be fundraising or stumping for Trump, but given the numbers she has been pulling (16% in Pennsylvania, and nearly 13% in Wisconsin), I think she’s right to exort him to reach out to her supporters and not assume they’ll just follow her lead (and move to Trump). Of course this won’t make a bit of difference to Trump, but she’s right to say it:

“I will be voting for Trump,” she said in a response to to a question from a moderator at an event. “Having said that … Trump would be smart to reach out to the millions of people who voted for me and continue to support me and not assume that they’re just going to be with him.”

The one thing Haley has been absolutely consistent on, and a point in which I strongly agree, is the war in Ukraine:

“Sending weapons to Ukraine and Israel isn’t foreign aid,” she said. “It’s an investment in a world in which authoritarian dictators cannot run roughshod over free countries.”

So, do we think that she will be a possible contender for VP? (Personally, I don’t think so. I don’t believe Trump wants someone smarter, more experienced, and vastly more knowledgeable to show him up.

–Dana

More EU Members To Recognize A Palestinian State

Filed under: General — Dana @ 7:08 am



[guest post by Dana]

Three member-states of the United Nations have announced that they plan to recognize a Palestinian state:

Ireland, Spain and Norway announced on Wednesday that they would recognise a Palestinian state on May 28, saying they hoped other Western countries would follow suit, prompting Israel to recall its ambassadors.

The individual leaders explained their reasoning for the decision:

Spain’s Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said the move was aimed at accelerating efforts to secure a ceasefire in Israel’s war with Hamas in Gaza.

“We hope that our recognition and our reasons contribute to other western countries following this path, because the more we are, the more strength we will have to impose a ceasefire, to achieve the release of the hostages held by Hamas, to relaunch the political process that can lead to a peace agreement,” he said in a speech to the country’s lower house.

Ireland’s Prime Minister Simon Harris…added that Ireland was unequivocal in recognising Israel’s right to exist “securely and in peace with its neighbours”, and calling for all hostages in Gaza to be immediately returned.

In Oslo, Norwegian Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Store said the only possible political solution between Israelis and Palestinians is “two states living side by side in peace and security”.

Both Norway and Ireland referenced the 1967 borders.

As you can imagine, Israel was less than pleased with the decisions.

And speaking of a “two-state solution,” I read this with great interest:

So you want to recognize the state of Palestine? By all means. Go ahead. Just make sure to note that since Palestine is a state, no-one living in it is or can be or will be recognized by your country as a “refugee from Palestine”, that you are therefore defunding UNRWA, that there is no such thing as a “right of return” into another sovereign state in which one has never been a citizen or ever lived.

If you’re not ready to so as a package, then please don’t pretend that the purpose of recognizing Palestine is to promote “a two state solution”. Given that there was never a moment in the last century when there was an Arab Palestinian vision of peace and two states where one of the states is Jewish – which means acceptance that no-one is a “refugee from Palestine” when already living there or as citizens of Jordan and other countries, and that there is no such “right of return” into the territory of the sovereign state of Israel of people who were never its citizens – then now might be a great time to start clarifying that.

A recognition of a state of Palestine is a great way to finally clarify – is the other state in the “two state solution” the Jewish state of Israel? Or, is it, as Palestinians continue to believe, a temporary aberration that will revert to being Arab in due course?It is high time to ensure that any vision of peace by two states means that one of these two state is Jewish. And if not, it would be nice to finally know that your country recognizes Palestine because it believes that “from water to water Palestine will be Arab” – the original Arab version of “From the River to the Sea” – and that there is no room for Jewish sovereignty anywhere. Precisely the vision that animated Hamas October 7th attack and the continued support it enjoys among Palestinians. If this is why your country is recognizing Palestine, it would be a good time for Israel to finally know that.

If not, if you genuinely believe in a two-state solution where one of the two is Jewish, then get off your bum and make it clear – that recognition of Palestine comes with a strong declaration and policy that no-one living in it is or can be or will be recognized by your country as a “refugee from Palestine”, that you are therefore defunding UNRWA, that there is no such thing as a “right of return” into another sovereign state in which one has never been a citizen or ever lived. Then we’ll know you’re serious. Anything else is lazy virtue signaling, worthy of an Anthropology student in the US, not a government of a proper country.

—Dana

5/17/2024

Weekend Open Thread

Filed under: General — Dana @ 11:10 am



[guest post by Dana]

Let’s go!

First news item

As Russia’s military attacks Ukraine’s second largest city, Khariv, and Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced an additional $2 billion military aid package, there are grim consequences when that aid is delayed by politics, as it was for 7 months:

“Every delay of supply results in setbacks on the front line. This is the general rule,” Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba told reporters Wednesday, speaking alongside Blinken after the two met each other. “When a Ukrainian infantryman or artilleryman has everything that he or she needs, we are winning,” he said. “Every time there are delays in supplies and insufficient supplies, we are not winning. The law of war is cruel but very clear.”

Additionally, Secretary Blinken reiterated that the U.S. has “not encouraged or enabled strikes outside of Ukraine… But ultimately, Ukraine has to make decisions for itself about how it’s going to conduct this war, a war it is conducting in defense of its freedom, of its sovereignty, of its territorial integrity.”

Second news item

Trump camp laying groundwork to contest presidential election results. (dovetails with RNC co-chair’s lead):

In recent interviews, Trump has refused to commit to accepting the election results. At his rallies, he has portrayed Democrats as cheaters, called mail-in ballots corrupt and urged supporters to vote in such large numbers to render the election “too big to rig.”

He also backed a new Republican-sponsored bill aimed at keeping foreigners from voting, seeking to link his false election fraud claims with the issue of illegal immigration….Rather than being cowed by looming criminal trials over his conduct in the wake of the 2020 election, Trump is repeating the falsehoods that polls show resonate with his supporters while readying the legal firepower needed to launch a similar challenge to the validity of the vote this year…Trump has instructed the Republican National Committee, now led by his daughter-in-law and a close ally, to prioritize building out a team of poll watchers and lawyers to monitor the vote and litigate potential post-election challenges, according to a person familiar with the matter. As part of that effort, the RNC announced in April that it will recruit 100,000 volunteers and attorneys – double the figure promised during the 2020 cycle. It called the effort “the most extensive and monumental election integrity program in the nation’s history.”

Third news item

Much needed aid to Gaza delivered via newly built pier:

The first trucks carrying critical deliveries of humanitarian aid began flowing into Gaza Friday via a newly finished temporary pier, the U.S. military announced Friday.

Why it matters: The U.S.-built pier provides a desperately needed aid route into the enclave, where the Israel-Hamas war has exacerbated an already dire humanitarian situation.

Fourth news item

It was bound to happen, given the increased spike in crime:

Mayor Karen Bass ordered a “surge” of law enforcement inside the region’s hundreds of buses and miles of subway system, saying Metro riders don’t feel safe after a spate of violent attacks that have roiled an agency already struggling to improve safety and increase ridership.

The move by Bass, who heads the board of the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority, marks a significant departure for the agency, which opted not to beef up law enforcement’s presence to reduce drug use, crime and disruptive behavior. Critics are coming from all sides. Some say the move is too little too late; others call the tactic doomed to fail and say it will only criminalize people who have drug addictions, serious mental illness and no housing.

Fifth news item

Is the West being forced to plan for worst case scenario?:

The signs coming out of Moscow are far from encouraging, with Putin sacking his combat generals to replace them with “bean counters”. Presumably to ensure the economy is on a total war footing and capable of taking on Nato and outlasting it on the battlefields and in the parliaments of Europe. If Trump comes to power, he may only need to hold tight until January 2025; not long.

At the same moment, Russia appears to be making significant gains towards the second city Kharkiv, possibly catching the defenders on the hop and no doubt trying to unbalance the Ukraine army before the US heavy weaponry and the F16s arrive in numbers. The Ukraine Security Service believes that Russian forces are also massing in the northeast for another strike into Ukraine. In the worst case scenario, Russia could make significant gains this summer and terminally unsettle Ukraine’s defence. The fact that Volodymyr Zelensky has just cancelled visits to Spain and Portugal underwrites the seriousness of the current situation for those Western leaders not paying attention.

The US and Nato’s indecision and procrastination have helped strengthen Putin and given him the confidence to go on the offensive. Putin appears undeterred by Western leadership, believing many of our politicians are not up to the fight. Yet few who study this conflict believe Putin will stop at Ukraine: in order to prevent a major escalation between Russia and Nato, therefore, Ukraine must prevail. That will only happen with Nato’s indirect and direct support now.

Sixth news item

The perfect metaphor for our dysfunctional Congress as a whole. I have watched the video of the House catfight several times and find myself in agreement with Sen. John Fetterman:

Here is what happened:

God help us.

Have a good weekend.

–Dana

5/16/2024

RNC Co-Chair Provides Trump With Excuse to Back Out of Debate

Filed under: General — Dana @ 2:24 pm



[guest post by Dana]

We now know that President Biden and Donald Trump have agreed to participate in two debates. The first will take place on June 27, with CNN’s Dana Bash and Jake Tapper moderating the event. Surprisingly, the debate will take place without an audience in attendance. I don’t see this as being the best steup for Trump. He thrives on bullshit, and he thrives on bullshitting an audience. As for President Biden, he can easily lose his train of thought, so we’ll see what happens. But I suspect this will be more to Trump’s disadvantage. You can read CNN’s qualifying requirements here.

Here’s how the contenders responded to the debate invitation:

“It is my great honor to accept the CNN Debate against Crooked Joe Biden,” Trump posted on his Truth Social site. “Likewise, I accept the ABC News Debate against Crooked Joe on September 10th.”

“Trump says he’ll arrange his own transportation,” Biden wrote on X. “I’ll bring my plane, too. I plan on keeping it for another four years.”

Two rich, old white guys with memory issues trying to best each other might be entertaining if the stakes weren’t so high. But fighting for the presidency isn’t a laughing matter, despite what Mitt Romney said about the old coots:

With that, here’s a sound observation:

The swiftness with which the matchups came together reflects how each of the two unpopular candidates thinks he can get the better of his opponent in a head-to-head showdown. Trump and his team are convinced the debates will exacerbate voters’ concerns about Biden’s age and competence, while Biden’s team believes Trump’s often-incendiary rhetoric will remind voters of why they voted him out of the White House four years ago.

It sure didn’t take long for RNC co-chair Lara Trump to complain that the debate is rigged against Trump:

It’s rigged so heavily in Joe Biden’s favor, but everything always is! You’ve got Hollywood against Donald Trump. You’ve got the music industry against Donald Trump. Mainstream media. Despite that and even the judicial system at this point, he is beating Joe Biden in every poll out there. It’s amazing to see. So, if Joe Biden shows up on June 27th and doesn’t come up with an excuse like he has to wash his hair or something, I have full confidence that Donald Trump will outperform him.

What’s funny is, it’s Lara Trump who has provided an excuse for Trump to either bomb or back out. If he bombs, it was a rigged debate! If he backs out, it was a rigged debate!

So. I think if anyone is going to be washing their hair on the 27th, it’s not going to be the guy who hardly has any left.

P.S.

–Dana

5/13/2024

The Biden Administration’s Stupid Middle East Game

Filed under: General — JVW @ 12:54 pm



[guest post by JVW]

The Jerusalem Post had a fantastic piece last Thursday on what they believe the Biden Administration is doing in the Israel-Hamas War. Naturally, it’s infuriating. The author of the piece, retired Israeli professor Gerald M. Steinberg, suggests one idealistic reason for the administration’s betrayal, and one rather sinister reason. First the naïve idealism:

Did Biden suddenly do a 180 degree flip, and if so, why? Were the humanitarian concerns for the innocents in Gaza (as well as the many Hamas supporters who cheered the brutal October 7 slaughter and rape) the reason, as indicated by Secretary of Defense Austin? Or was Team Biden spooked by the campus mobs into caving-in to their demands?

Most likely, the correct answer is “none of the above.” A look at the details suggests a carefully planned strategy, under the heading of a Grand Bargain for the Middle East. This dream scenario has been in the background (and at times, foreground) of Administration policies for months. The essential elements include “irrevocable commitment” to Palestinian statehood and “end of conflict;” large-scale Israeli withdrawal on the West Bank, and a formal Saudi-Israeli peace agreement echoing the Abraham Accords.

And here comes the selfish ulterior motives:

In other words, Biden and Secretary of State Blinken are aiming for the diplomatic equivalent of a moon shot, the Nobel Peace Prize, and, not incidentally, victory in the November elections. The script for redrawing the map was written by Tom Friedman, the veteran New York Times columnist who has been promoting versions of this for decades.

Tom Friedman. Un-frickin’-believable. It comes as no surprise to any of us that U.S. Presidents — and especially Democrat Presidents — place a great deal of prestige in winning a Noble Peace Prize. It’s been pretty well known that Jimmy Carter was deeply disappointed not to have been included in the prize shared by Menachem Begin and Anwar Sadat after completing the Camp David accords. Bill Clinton, desperate to salvage a foreign policy legacy in the final months of his desultory Presidency, bullied poor Ehud Barak into accepting more than the Israeli public was willing to countenance then watched as Yasser Arafat walked away from the deal and started the Second Intifada. Barack Obama had the happy fortune to win a Nobel Peace Prize a mere nine months after having been given the key to the Executive Washroom, and spent the next eighty-seven months of his Presidency trying to justify it by pursuing a ridiculous rapprochement with Iran.

So naturally Joe Biden, a man whose foreign policy has thus far been associated with humiliation, weakness, and fecklessness, thinks nothing about further sacrificing American prestige in order to get out from between the rock and a hard place which his vacillating has led him to. I think Professor Steinberg’s evocation of a moon shot is accurate here: the only way this seems to remotely have a chance for success is through a miraculous turn of events in which Israel restrains from finishing off Hamas in Rafa, Hamas itself determines that armed struggle is not a viable way to secure a Palestinian state, both sides agree upon definitive borders and a mutual non-aggression policy, and neighboring Arab states accept a poor and backward Palestinian state on its borders which will be subject to Iranian meddling and which will probably seek to destabilize regional leadership once it gets tired of targeting Jews. None of these seem likely to happen; a confluence of all three is pretty much unfathomable. Prof. Steinberg addresses this fantasy:

The problem (and it is a very big one) is that the entire scenario is built on a foundation of wishful thinking, not history and political realism. Similarly, the triumphant 1993 Oslo “peace” plan was based on the same illusions, and ended in the disaster known as the Second Intifada, in which over 1000 Israelis were murdered in mass bombings, and thousands more died on the Palestinian side. It turned out that Yasser Arafat and the PLO, as well as Hamas leaders never bought into the “shared interests” that were taken for granted by the optimistic Israelis and the Clinton administration.

And in trying to keep Iran and Hezbollah from interfering in this conflict, the administration’s muzzling of the IDF likely has the opposite effect:

Watching closely, Iran and its proxies also see these developments as weakening the IDF’s capability to use its military superiority offensively. And as long as Hezbollah’s terror squads remain in southern Lebanon, the 50,000 or so Israeli civilians that were evacuated from their homes after October 7 will continue to be “displaced.” In Tehran, regime leaders draw strength from the very visible American constraints placed on Israel, including after the Iranian missile attack on the night of April 13. Thus, instead of encouraging restraint and cooperation, as the dream scenario envisions, greater instability and violence are far more likely. As with Oslo, when this happens, Biden, Blinken and the others will be gone.

[. . .]

Israelis, including Netanyahu’s most vocal critics, know that withholding munitions to prevent the IDF from entering Rafah and recognizing a virtual Palestinian state will not end 76 years of Palestinian rejectionism. More likely, the determination to attack Israel will increase, accompanied by Iranian support. The addition of a Saudi-Israeli peace package will not change this reality.

The Biden Administration has glommed on to one of the more witless conceits of the left, that isolating Benjamin Netanyahu will magically clear the way for a “more moderate” Israeli leader to emerge and deal with Hamas and the Palestinian people with a more deft touch, which will in itself somehow end up in a lasting peace deal between the two sides. That is more magical thinking from the usual crew of overambitious but underwhelming twenty-somethings who influence the professional political hacks who in turn tell Joe Biden what he is supposed to believe. But Professor Steinberg reminds us that “peace between Israel and the Palestinians will only come when the expectations overlap with political realism. Until then, Israel, under Netanyahu and whoever comes next, will do what is necessary to defend its citizens.” [Bolded emphasis added by me.]

And this very much should include the eradication of Hamas.

– JVW

5/10/2024

Weekend Open Thread

Filed under: General — Dana @ 9:55 am



[guest post by Dana]

Let’s go!

President Biden stuck between a rock and a hard place:

President Biden has become increasingly critical of Israel — and some of his campaign’s biggest pro-Israel donors are becoming more critical of him…Whether he is aiding or criticizing Israel, every move Biden makes has potential negative political consequences.

…Democratic megadonor and Israeli American Haim Saban emailed senior White House officials Wednesday asking them to pass along his criticism of Biden’s recent move to pause bomb shipments to Israel over a possible ground operation in Rafah.

“Bad, Bad, Bad, decision, on all levels, Pls reconsider,” he wrote in a message obtained by Axios and other news outlets…Let’s not forget that there are more Jewish voters, who care about Israel, than Muslim voters that care about Hamas.”

…”There are a lot of people in the pro-Israel community who are very worried, very upset and very angry. We don’t know what the consequences are going to be politically.”

Second news item

Democrats move to support border security:

“Some House Democrats are leaning into border security on the campaign trail after years of playing defense against Republican criticism, hoping to defuse a top political liability headed into the fall elections,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

“The party now argues that Democrats in competitive races can run on fixing the border, while painting Republicans as obstructionists for rejecting the Senate’s bipartisan border deal, according to a memo from House Democrats’ campaign arm. Republicans currently have a 217-213 majority in the House, and the fight for control of the chamber is seen as a tossup.”

Related:

Third news item

Russia launches major offensive:

Russian troops on Friday launched a major attack on Ukraine’s Kharkiv region, forcing Ukrainian troops to reposition and defend against a new front.

Russian forces appear to have launched the offensive from the Russia’s Belgorod region and are moving toward the town of Vovchansk, which lies north of Kharkiv, the second-largest city in Ukraine.

The Ukrainian Ministry of Defense reported that forces were defending strongholds in Kharkiv after Russian forces launched airstrikes and artillery fire ahead of an early morning armored vehicle offensive.

“As of now, these attacks have been repelled; battles of varying intensity continue,” the Ministry of Defense wrote on X. “Reserve units have been deployed to strengthen the defense in this area of the front. The Defense Forces of Ukraine continue to hold back the enemy’s offensive.”

Related: It is being reported that the U.S. will announce a new $400 million military aid package to Ukraine today.

Fourth news item

Hahaha:

Republican National Committee co-chair Lara Trump declared that father-in-law Donald Trump is down with accepting election results on Thursday in a wild claim that ignores the former president’s frequent election denialism.

Lara Trump, in a Newsmax interview aired Thursday, was asked about former President Barack Obama, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and President Joe Bidensaying “something to the effect” that Donald Trump — if he were to lose in November — won’t accept the election results.

“Is that coordinated?” asked “The Balance” host Eric Bolling.

“I think, isn’t it all coordinated?” replied Lara Trump, the wife of Eric Trump.

She continued, “Isn’t all of this stuff coming from one place? It’s pretty obvious that Donald Trump does accept election results even despite the fact that it was a very questionable election in 2020 because Joe Biden is, unfortunately, sitting in the Oval Office today.”

Stay golden, RNC!

Fifth news item

Unsurprising, given that the school district is 75% White, 18% Hispanic and 3% Black: :

School board members in Virginia’s Shenandoah County voted early Friday to restore the names of two schools that previously honored Confederate leaders – four years after those names had been removed.

The 5-1 vote came after hours of public comment during a meeting that began Thursday evening from people speaking on both sides of the issue. Vice Chairman Kyle L. Gutshall was the sole opposing vote.

“I ask that when you cast your vote, you remember that Stonewall Jackson and others fighting on the side of the Confederacy in this area were intent on protecting the land, the buildings and the lives of those under attack,” said a woman urging the board to restore the Confederate names. “Preservation is the focus of those wishing to restore the names.”

Gene Kilby, the last surviving son of James Wilson Kilby, a Virginia civil rights activist who helped desegregate schools in Virginia, criticized the move to keep the names.

“Why are we here tonight to go back to a time in history that was very cruel, where hatred and racism continued throughout this county and throughout the United States?” Kilby said. “Is this the type of legacy that you want to put in Shenandoah County’s public school buildings?”

The schools had been named after Confederate Gens. Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson, Robert E. Lee and Turner Ashby…

Sixth news item

Donald Trump has a Nikki Haley problem that doesn’t seem to be going away:

On Tuesday night, Indiana Republican primary voters unsurprisingly awarded Trump all 58 of their delegates. But somewhat surprisingly, more than 20% of them voted against him. While he handily won 78.3% of the vote, the 128,000 Republican voters who instead pulled the lever for Nikki Haley sent the presumptive nominee a serious message: “We are not with you.”

Lest you think that an anomaly, late last month 83.4% of Republicans in Pennsylvania voted for Trump. But significantly, 16.6%, or roughly 158,000, voted for Haley.

There’s more. In Washington State, Haley won 19.3% — 150,832 votes — of the Republican primary vote. In Arizona, she won 17.8%. In Illinois, she won 14.5%. In Ohio, she won 14.4%.

This was all after Haley had officially dropped out of the race.

Seventh news item

They made us do it!:

Seventeen Princeton students began a hunger strike last Friday until the university agreed to meet with them to discuss divestment from Israel and the dropping of charges against students who had occupied a campus building.

According to The Daily Princetonian, student Sameer Riaz said he believed he and his comrades “were forced into” their hunger strike by school officials.

Eighth news item

I can think of any number of politicians who appear to have suffered the same malady as RFK:

The Times reported Wednesday that doctors noticed a dark spot in brain scans for Kennedy after he experienced memory loss in 2010 and concluded he had a brain tumor, according to a 2012 deposition. He received a call from another doctor who believed that it was not a tumor, and was instead a dead parasite.

The doctor believed the abnormality “was caused by a worm that got into my brain and ate a portion of it and then died,” Kennedy said in the deposition, per the New York Times.

Kennedy told the Times he was also diagnosed with mercury poisoning likely from ingesting too much fish containing the heavy metal at the same time he learned about the parasite.

From Kennedy’s campaign:

The press team added: “Questioning Mr. Kennedy’s health is a hilarious suggestion, given his competition.”

Heh.

Have a great weekend.

–Dana

5/8/2024

President Biden Pressures Israel

Filed under: General — Dana @ 5:10 pm



[guest post by Dana]

Squeezed on all sides, both in and out of his political party, President Biden has opted to put pressure on Israel:

“I made it clear that if they go into Rafah – they haven’t gone in Rafah yet – if they go into Rafah, I’m not supplying the weapons that have been used historically to deal with Rafah, to deal with the cities – that deal with that problem,” Biden said.

This of course begs the question: if Hamas terrorists are holed up in Rafah (as Israel believes), is Israel expected to just look the other way, or are they to start a ground invasion with subpar weapons, thus increasing the likelihood of many civilian deaths which would lead to further accusations of genocide? Because with a million civilians taking refuge in Rafah, there can be no doubt the civilian casualties would be devastating, no matter how careful Israel might be.

It looks like President Biden has chosen to give Hamas cover with his denial for artillery, and has essentially given the terror group the upper hand. Certainly Hamas leaders and other villains on the world stage are feeling pretty good about the President’s decision.

It should be noted that President Biden did reassure Israel that the U.S. would continue to provide them with defensive weapons:

Biden said while the US would continue to provide defensive weapons to Israel, including for its Iron Dome air defense system, other shipments would end should a major ground invasion of Rafah begin.

“We’re going to continue to make sure Israel is secure in terms of Iron Dome and their ability to respond to attacks that came out of the Middle East recently,” he said. “But it’s, it’s just wrong. We’re not going to – we’re not going to supply the weapons and artillery shells.”

I don’t know what the answer is, but tying Israel’s hands while strengthening Hamas’s, and limiting their ability to eradicate the terrorists in their midst – let alone rescue the hostages – doesn’t seem the way to go. But the reality is, with that many civilians squeezed into the region, it makes sense that the President would be hesitant to provide Israel the weaponry. An extreme loss of civilians would be awful, as would the optics of the United States having supplied the weapons. After all, there’s an election coming up.

—Dana

5/7/2024

MIT Faces Down the Protesters

Filed under: General — JVW @ 4:25 pm



[guest post by JVW]

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology had been doing okay for itself rebounding from the fairly weak testimony of its president, Sally Kornbluth, in that disastrous House hearing back in December which derailed the careers of Claudine Gay and Liz Magill of Harvard and Penn respectively. President Kornbluth had given, at least in my partisan eyes, a slightly better performance than her two colleagues, being far more inclined than they to acknowledge calls for Israel’s destruction are anti-semitic. Still, she failed to placate all of the Institute’s alumni, but given the fact that she had not yet been in her role for a full year, the MIT Corporation resisted calls to remove her.

To address some qualms that alumni had over the prospect of MIT becoming yet another way station for the anti-Israel radical left, the Institute took some concrete steps to show that they would not tolerate intimidation or discrimination. In response to pro-Hamas students blocking access to a main lobby of the major academic building on campus, MIT suspended the rancid Students for Justice in Palestine organization, decertifying it as an official campus organization and not allowing its members to hold events on campus. The administration also very clearly outlined what constituted legitimate protest protected by First Amendment rights, versus what constituted unlawful assemblies and harassment. They were not so forthcoming about potential consequences for violating these policies, beyond the typically banal invocation of “resolution pathways” and the other administrative gobbledygook so popular in academia.

And so when the various building takeovers, lawn encampments, disruptive marches, and the like started sprouting out around campus, MIT found itself once again dealing with how to adequately respond. Interestingly enough, during this period MIT made the surprise announcement that they would be dropping required “diversity statements” for potential faculty hires, a move which no doubt chapped the hide of the campus crybullies.

But that small measure was swamped in the campus news cycle when pro-Hamas students and local community agitators did their thing and over the weekend set-up an encampment in an area called Kresge Oval which is surrounded by Kresge Auditorium, the student center, the MIT Chapel, and some dormitories. On Monday, the administration said “no, no” and gave the students until 2:30 pm to evacuate the area or else face disciplinary action. By the time the deadline had arrived the majority of students had voluntarily left, though some hardcore students remained, risking suspension according to official policy. Once a nearby pro-terrorist street rally ended a few hours later, however, the students broke down barriers and reentered the encampment. The administration estimates that about 150 students are now camped out on Kresge Oval, and there doesn’t seem to be much impetus to remove them. Commencement is still three weeks away.

MIT now finds itself in a difficult situation partly of its own making. Previously, the administration had announced the penalties for students who failed to leave the encampment in a timely manner. They consisted of an immediate suspension from all MIT activities including classes (final exam week begins May 17) and commencement ceremonies for any students who were not previously involved in a disciplinary issue. These students would be allowed to remain in campus housing and to use the campus dining facilities. Students who were already involved in a campus disciplinary proceeding would also be banned from MIT activities and they would further be required to immediately vacate any campus housing and prohibited from eating in campus dining. They would be effectively banned from campus (with the exception of the health services center) until their case is adjudicated.

It seems to me that there is simply no way that MIT can go back on this threat, no matter whose ox is gored. Certainly not all of the 150 unhappy campers are students or even affiliated with the Institute, but the student presence will no doubt be significant enough that at least a few dozen students will not be able to take final exams or defend their theses, and some who had planned to graduate will thus find their status imperiled. It would be the easiest thing in the world for the MIT Administration to be exceedingly lenient and cut these students some slack, but they absolutely should not do so. It will also be tempting for sympathetic faculty to decide to waive the final exam or to perhaps move the thesis defense off campus, but the administration needs to clamp down on that nonsense too. This is the message that I, as an alumnus, will be relaying to the administration. The acronym FAFO is being used quite a bit these days, and I think it is imperative that it be firmly applied at my alma mater.

– JVW

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