Thursday, July 7, 2016

Not A Pleasant Hobson Choice But Not Difficult Either In View of My Contempt For Hillary.

Trump Continues to Bobble Lay Ups!

Your commentary left out what may be the most devastating indictment of the American judicial system ever uttered, especially by the highest ranking investigative officer in the land, when Comey said, “To be clear, this is not to suggest that in similar circumstances, a person who engaged in this activity would face no consequences. To the contrary, those individuals are often subject to security or administrative sanctions. But that is not what we are deciding now.” This sentence says very clearly to all who can read plain English that Hillary Clinton is, indeed, above the American law, that anyone else doing the same things would be subject to “security and administrative sanctions.” In other words, punished. Or in other words, this is tacit admission that there is one set of laws that apply to Hillary Clinton and another that apply to all other persons. I can’t think of any more clear cut statement that gives Hillary Clinton carte blanche to do what ever she wants to do without regard to any explicit or implicit law notwithstanding what punishment others of her citizens may experience as a consequence of identical actions. If you will, it amounts to a “Get Out of Jail Card Free” issued by the Director of the FBI. I can see no other interpretation of Comey’s own words than this.

If there is one, enlighten me. Please! Because I now have no respect whatever for either the FBI, the U.S. Department of Justice, the U.S Code or any other supposed form of legal protection from predators of whatever kind. And that’s a terrible way to end my life, having no trust at all in my own government that I will be treated exactly like any other citizen with respect to our laws. That trust has been shattered in one sentence by the Director of the FBI, of all people. E-

Via-a-vis the Comey decision-all Americans should lower their flags to half-mast to mourn the death of a country of laws, or at least turn them upside down to signal extreme distress at the same prospect...S-----
I was doing some work on personal matters last night and had the TV on  a Chanel that was devoted to Trump's speech - I don't even know where he was. I believe it was in Ohio. 

Comey's decision  gave Trump a lay up and Donald spent the entire time talking nonsense.The man is a egoist and huckster of the first order.

That said, I blame the Republican Party for Trump because they failed to stand up and be counted.  Now these same weaklings are taking a holier than thou position because they finally discovered they have a conscience. How many times have these politicians asked voters to hold their noses and vote for them.  Not because of what they accomplished, not because they stood up to the opposition  but out of party loyalty. 

Where is their loyalty now?  Hiding behind their conscience? 

Like it or not we have two choices.  Life, like Hobson, does not always serve up easy choices. I refuse to throw my vote away on a lying incompetent crook who cared more about her personal comforts than the nation. Who used her office to enhance her personal wealth and power in derogation of serving our nation.

Trump is the personification of much that is wrong with our society, the level to which our culture has sunk but Hillary sickens me.  I have nothing but contempt for her and her husband.  Everything and everyone they touch is besmirched.

Hillary is a Trojan Horse for more Obama and his destructive policies so the choice for me is not what I call an easy one but neither is it that difficult. (See 1 and 1a below.)
Trouble for Israel? (See 2 below.)
Bleeding hearts never stop.  This from a friend of mine and fellow memo reader. (See 3 below)

Why Comey Blinked

It is galling the day after July 4th to be greeted by yet one more official at the highest level of government, who has declined to respect the rule of law in favor of giving a free pass to the Obama Administration.

 FBI Director Comey indicted Hillary Clinton in the court of public opinion by laying out before the TV cameras, step by step, her gross negligence in handling classified material, including Top Secret information that would compromise our national security if made accessible to our enemies.  He told us Clinton sent classified information over servers not as safe as a simple gmail account.  He told us it is impossible for the FBI to ascertain what foreign hostile actors may have accessed her account, but there is good evidence to believe that the information was hacked.
We do assess that hostile actors gained access to the private commercial e-mail accounts of people with whom Secretary Clinton was in regular contact from her personal account. We also assess that Secretary Clinton’s use of a personal e-mail domain was both known by a large number of people and readily apparent. She also used her personal e-mail extensively while outside the United States, including sending and receiving work-related e-mails in the territory of sophisticated adversaries. Given that combination of factors, we assess it is possible that hostile actors gained access to Secretary Clinton’s personal e-mail account.
He told us that it is a federal felony “to mishandle classified information …in a grossly negligent way.”
He told us a second statute makes “it a misdemeanor to knowingly remove classified information from appropriate systems or storage facilities.”

He then described in clear, specific detail how Sect. of State Clinton knowingly removed classified information from appropriate systems and storage facilities.  He concluded “there is evidence that they were extremely careless in their handling of very sensitive, highly classified information.” 
According to former New York Mayor Giuliani the legal definition of gross negligence is to be extremely careless.
The definition of gross negligence under the law is extreme carelessness…the FBI clearly found a direct violation of 18 United States code section 793 which does not require intent -- it requires only gross negligence in the handling of anything relating to the national defense.  …It's the first definition that comes up in the law dictionary…It's the definition the judges give to juries when they charge injuries on gross negligence. Negligence equals carelessness. Gross negligence equals extreme carelessness. So that is a clear absolutely unassailable violation of 18 United States Code, section 793, which is not a minor statute, it carries ten years in prison.
And then, in an act of great cynicism, FBI Director Comey looked the American people directly in the eye and told us that no reasonable prosecutor would bring a case against Hillary Clinton.
His build up as to why the FBI decided to recommend no criminal charges: 
In our system, the prosecutors make the decisions about whether charges are appropriate based on evidence the FBI has helped collect. … we frequently … engage in productive conversations with prosecutors about what resolution may be appropriate, given the evidence.
This is the tell:  “We …engage in productive conversations with prosecutors about what resolution may be appropriate.”
Comey is telling us he spoke to the Obama DOJ about “what resolution may be appropriate.”  It is obvious he was told that no criminal charges would be brought against Hillary Clinton.  DOJ refused to even charge her on the misdemeanor level that she did “knowingly remove classified information from appropriate systems or storage facilities.”

Unlike the men we honored the day before, on July 4th, who pledged their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor to defend liberty and the rule of law, FBI Director Comey was not willing to put anything on the line.  He wanted us to know Hillary was guilty as hell.  But he was not willing to pit the FBI against Obama’s DOJ, so he let the guilty walk free without even at attempt at insisting she be charged.
Everyone has known from the start Obama would never prosecute Hillary.  So Comey looked us in the eye and told us no reasonable prosecutor would take action on the gross negligence and betrayal of our national security that Hillary Clinton ordered as Secretary at State.
It depends on the meaning of reasonable.


Trump Squanders Comey’s Gift


2)Why Bibi’s Visits to Moscow Mean Bad News for Israel 
Last month, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu traveled to Russia for yet another meeting with president Vladimir Putin—his third such trip (and fourth meeting) since Russia began its bombing campaign in Syria last September. While Israel is clearly concerned about the possibility of entertaining Iranian proxies, advisers, and weapons in the Golan Heights, in addition to the existing concentrations of Hezbollah troops and rockets in Southern Lebanon, Russia’s leanings are presented as something of a mystery. Is Russia using Syria as a forward base to fight Chechen jihadists? Are there important gaps between the Russian and Iranian positions? Have Israel and Russia reached important operational understandings that define who can act where inside Syria?
The lavish speculation on these and other such points is compounded by the demands of information warfare campaigns being run by all sides, which often seek to convince particular audiences of things that are wildly untrue. This form of gamesmanship reached a fevered pitch following the mysterious killing in Damascus of Hezbollah’s top military commander, Mustafa Badreddine, in May. At the farthest end of the spectrum is the rather elaborate suggestion that it was the Russians who may have dispatched Badreddine—a move that should supposedly be read against the backdrop of Russia’s competition with Iran for primacy in Syria. If this sounds far-fetched, then another reading, only one step removed from the suggestion of direct Russian involvement, has found some mainstream appeal. Briefly put, this reading maintains that since Russia dominates Syrian airspace and has stationed the anti-access/area denial S-400 missile system in Latakia, then any Israeli operation in Syria must have had at least an implicit Russian green light. Some will go even further and contend that such strikes are indeed coordinated with Russia as part of an alleged “coordination mechanism” that the Israeli government has been busy negotiating with the Kremlin.
In truth, while there’s much talk about the Israeli-Russian “coordination” mechanism, there’s no real information about the details of any such arrangement, which appears to live in a conceptual realm that is at least somewhat removed from physical reality. How Russia views this quasi-theoretical “coordination” that has been defined largely by public statements from Israeli officials is completely unknown.
What is clear is that the Russian intervention has only added to the new opportunities and new threats arising from Syria’s implosion. The strategic benefits of the conflict for Israel are quite real: Hezbollah is embroiled in a costly and consuming war of attrition with the Sunni rebels, who have killed well over 1,000 of its fighters, including many veteran field commanders. The war in Syria has also undercut the group’s strategic depth. Prior to 2011, Israel had mostly avoided striking arms convoys to Hezbollah on the Syrian side of the border, resorting instead to sabotage operations in Lebanon. Since the outbreak of the war, the IAF has been targeting Hezbollah assets and commanders in Syria at will.
On the other hand, despite Israeli efforts, Hezbollah had managed to increase its arsenal and had acquired some advanced weapons systems. In his address to the U.N. General Assembly last October, Netanyahu specified that Hezbollah had smuggled a Russian-made Yakhont anti-ship cruise missile system (in early 2014, it was said that Hezbollah had acquired components of it), and SA-22 anti-air missiles into Lebanon. It’s not known for sure if it has also managed to smuggle the SA-17 system, which it had tried to in the past and failed, thanks to IAF strikes. Iran has also upgraded the group’s Fateh 110 missiles, which are capable of hitting deep in Israel with added precision. As a result, IDF officers now regularly acknowledge that a future conflict will see hundreds of missiles raining down on Israeli cities every day. Still, former Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon recently downplayed these threats: “If there is something that I lose sleep at night about, it’s not the truckloads of weapons in Syria and Lebanon or Iran’s attempts to wage terror—Israel has the capabilities to deal with these forcefully and with sophistication.”
Left out of Ya’alon’s assessment of the dangers posed by various new weapons systems, however, is the fact that Washington has been lending cover to Iran’s ambition to make its presence in Syria a permanent one. As Ya’alon said in a different context, “Iran determines the future of Syria, and if it leads to perpetuation, Iranian hegemony in Syria will be huge a challenge for Israel.” The Syrian crisis has crystallized the fact that Israel and the United States are on opposing sides when it comes to the Iranian role in the region, including directly on Israel’s borders. President Barack Obama has recognized Syria and Lebanon as Iranian zones of influence and Tehran as a legitimate “stakeholder” in Syria.
The strategic significance for Israel of Iran’s new status as an American-backed regional power isn’t hard to fathom. It’s also why Netanyahu began traveling to Moscow. Since Russia was partnered in Syria with Iran and Hezbollah and the other Shiite militias operating under the command of the IRGC, there was no telling how the Russians would behave and what restrictions would be imposed on Israel’s freedom to operate in Syria.
When Netanyahu paid his first call on Putin in Moscow, he publicly laid out Israel’s position and red lines. “Iran and Syria have been arming … Hezbollah with advanced weapons, which are aimed at us,” Netanyahu said. He added, “Iran, as the benefactor of the Syrian army, is trying to build a second terror front against us from the Golan. Our policy is to thwart the flow of these weapons and to prevent the establishment of a new terror front and attacks against us from the Golan.” The mechanism that was discussed with the Russians, Netanyahu disclosed, was simply “to prevent misunderstandings between IDF forces and Russian forces.”
Israel quickly made good on its word and struck again inside Syria in October. Reported strikes continued apace throughout November as well. It was important for Israel to establish its determination to continue operations and not allow the perception that Russia’s entry had afforded Hezbollah and Iran a protective umbrella—which is how initially Hezbollah propaganda portrayed the new reality following the Russian intervention. Israeli official statements about finding Russian “understanding” for Israel’s position or comments playing up the “coordination mechanism” were intended to put a damper on such propaganda. Continued Israel operations gave such Israeli public statements credibility, even as the Russians remained silent.
The Russian intervention did introduce some important restrictions on Israeli activity. For instance, whereas Israel struck a shipment of Yakhont missiles in the port of Latakia in 2013, all reported Israeli strikes since September 2015 have been south of the city of Homs, near Lebanon’s eastern border, and in and around Damascus. Unlike in 2013, Latakia now houses Russia’s military base and its formidable S-400 anti-air missile system. So, as things stand, there is an effective delineation of territory where Israel still executes missions against Iranian weapons shipments and Hezbollah and Assad regime targets. This area covers the length of Lebanon’s eastern border with Syria. The adjacent areas on the Syrian side, south of Homs and in the Qalamoun region, as well as on the road to Damascus, now mostly under Hezbollah control, house weapons storage depots for the group, as does the Damascus Airport. The Golan area, which Israel regards as a red line, is part of this area of continued Israeli operations.
Israeli operations went beyond intercepting weapons shipment to assassinations of Hezbollah cadres. In December 2015, Israel reportedly took out Samir Kuntar, the Lebanese Druze terrorist, in a strike in a Damascus neighborhood. Kuntar was said to have been working on behalf of Hezbollah with the Druze of southern Syria, recruiting them for Hezbollah’s Syrian franchise. Golan Druze were used to plant IED’s for Hezbollah, as well as for other missions. Iran’s drive to establish an operational infrastructure on the Golan is repeatedly cited by Netanyahu as a red line. A few weeks before the Kuntar assassination, Netanyahu went so far as to acknowledge Israeli action to prevent it: “We are working against the opening of an additional terror front that Iran is trying to open on the Golan, and in order to mitigate the transfer of deadly weapons from Syria to Lebanon. This is something which we will continue to do.”
Interestingly, the pro-Hezbollah TV station al-Mayadeen claimed at the time that the Kuntar strike was actually executed from within Israeli air space. It is possible that the Badreddine strike followed the same modus operandi. Indeed, one Arabic language report, quoting Syrian military sources, claimed that Badreddine was killed with a precision-guided SPICE glide bomb and that the method was identical to the Kuntar operation. If true, this adds another Israeli adjustment to the Russian presence in Syria. Hardly implying the kind of deep understanding and coordination between Moscow and Jerusalem, it rather suggests that Israel has proceeded with caution, if also with resolve, firing from outside Russian-protected Syrian airspace. It’s not likely that Russia would target Israeli jets flying inside Israel’s own airspace, or even over the Mediterranean.
There is a wider context for Israel’s prudence—beyond the presence of the S-400—which suggests that it hasn’t been all smooth sailing with the Russians in Syria, despite all the talk of “coordination” and top-level visits to Moscow. In a January meeting with members of Congress, Jordan’s King Abdullah supposedly revealed how testy things had been with the Russians in southern Syria. In a leaked account of the meeting, Abdullah reportedly disclosed that at one point, Russian jets in southern Syria were met with Jordanian and Israeli F-16s. “The Russians were shocked and understood they cannot mess with us,” Abdullah allegedly said.
Abdullah’s comments came during an Iranian-led Hezbollah and regime offensive in the Deraa province in southern Syria, under Russian air cover. Abdullah was particularly alarmed and reportedly felt betrayed by Putin, with whom he thought he had an understanding that Russia wouldn’t operate near the Jordanian border. Just as the Israelis had sought to keep the Iranians away from the Golan, the Jordanians, too, had pushed out the IRGC and Hezbollah from near their border. The prospect of the Iranians and their Shiite militias returning under Russian cover, to say nothing of a potential massive flow of refugees, was alarming for Amman and also for Jerusalem. It made sense for both Israel and Jordan to draw a firm line.
This was not a singular incident. Last April, ahead of Netanyahu’s second trip to Russia, Israeli media reported that one or more Russian jets were scrambled to meet an Israeli squadron flying along the Syrian coast. The already scant details of the incident varied from one outlet to the next, which makes drawing conclusions difficult. If the Israeli jets were near the Syrian coast (and not, as one outlet reported, operating near the northern border), was this a Russian delineation of territory for Israeli operations? Or did it carry no such significance at all?
Although nothing serious resulted from the encounter, it nevertheless served as another reminder of the rudimentary and vague nature of the “understanding” between Israel and Russia, several months into the Russian intervention. Indeed, Netanyahu admitted that his second trip to Russia aimed to achieve more clarity between the two sides. “I set the goal of the meeting as strengthening coordination between Russia and Israel to prevent mishaps,” Netanyahu said. “I think we clarified some matters, and that is very important.” Israel, in other words, was still feeling its way around, while trying to avoid a serious incident.
Operational issues aside, Israel had to contend with the broader matter of Syria itself. What’s more, it had to do so on its own, as its traditional American ally was seemingly more concerned with protecting the Syrian “equities” of Israel’s foremost enemy, Iran. As Russia and the United States were discussing Syria’s fate, Israel was left out by the United States, which did not consider Israel to also be a “stakeholder” in Syria, a country with which it shares a border and has fought two large-scale wars. Therefore, Netanyahu used his second trip to Russia to raise the issue of permanent Israeli sovereignty over the Golan—a conversation that the Israeli prime minister continued with Putin during his June trip. “The countries that surround (Israel), especially Syria, some of them have fallen apart and need a new arrangement,” Netanyahu said. “I spoke about this at length with President Putin, and the important thing is that what will take their place … won’t threaten (Israel).”
That Netanyahu was now forced to petition Russia about the Golan highlighted that the United States under Obama was gone. America’s absence means that Israel must now find an accommodation with Russia to ensure its interests.
The dilemma, however, is that the Russian enterprise in Syria is a partnership with Iran; its success is also Iran’s success. While Russia has firepower, and a seat at the Security Council, the Iranians own the ground in Syria. It is their forces and their IRGC-run Shiite militias that hold regime territory, and fight to expand it. Without these fighters, Assad, who has a massive manpower problem, would not be able to survive. And without those forces on the ground, there would be no one to guard the areas around Russia’s bases, or to take advantage of Russia’s air and artillery assaults, which is why Hezbollah and Iranian officers have worked together with Russian officers in recent months planning operations.
There is no other possible partner for Russia in Syria besides Iran. And for all the talk about the divergence between Iranian and Russian objectives, the fact is that they agree on a fundamental point: the survival of the Assad regime. That’s the pivot around which both their strategies revolve. Put differently, the Russian endgame is geared to ensure the victory of the Assad regime. In turn, that victory ensures the preservation of Iran’s position and strategic objectives in Syria. And that spells long-term trouble for Israel.
Tony Badran is a research fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.

The Latest Progressive Political Publicity Stunt? The Feminist Campaign for “Menstrual Equity”

A giant step forward for women, or an empty publicity stunt meant to soothe the souls of New York progressives? That’s the question when it comes to the latest “victory” in what’s known as the war for menstrual equity.
When New York City became the first in the country to mandate free tampons in public schools, prisons, and homeless shelters, supporters were thrilled. “New York City made history for menstrual equity with the passage of this legislation—and the rest of the country, and the world, should follow,” wrote Jennifer Weiss-Wolf of the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU Law School. “Periods have been stigmatized for far too long,”explained Councilwoman Julissa Ferreras-Copeland, a Queens Democrat who sponsored the legislation.
The argument for menstrual equity has been around since at least the late 1970s when Gloria Steinem wrote a satiric look at “true” menstrual balance—as in, imagining that men bled once a month, just like women. You see, there is a cosmic injustice at work in the world when women are “afflicted” with a monthly period and men are not, the argument goes. Since feminists haven’t figured out a way to change human biology, they now argue that the affliction is financial since in many places in the United States, women are taxed for the privilege of using sanitary napkins and tampons. Advocates declare the need for redress since there is an alleged tax inequity since products like adult diapers, Viagra, and Rogaine are not taxed. And so we have dozens of states pushing legislation to reduce or remove taxes on “pink” consumer goods like feminine hygiene products.
Lowering taxes on any goods is a victory for all consumers, regardless of whether they are purchasing tampons or tapioca. But the argument that women endure a special burden because they have a period every month and therefore need special treatment under the law—namely, free feminine products—is another indication of how far the women’s movement has strayed from tackling genuine problems of discrimination.
There are women in countries and cultures outside the United States dealing with bigotry and bias—female genital mutilation, honor killings, rape as a weapon of terrorism, slavery, denial of a basic education, and forced conversion, to name a few. The so-called inequity of women having to spend money to stem their monthly flow doesn’t even make the list of real world problems for most women. And yet, American feminists’ focus remains firmly on their #firstworldproblem of “menstrual equity”.
When New York City makes tampons and pads available for free in public schools and prisons and homeless shelters, the city is treating a natural occurrence as a unique political category. All women bleed once a month (except if you are pregnant or post-menopause), and yet it is only minority women, women of color, disadvantaged or poor women who are treated like children who can’t be trusted to take care of themselves. As for eliminating the “Tampon Tax,” feminists aren’t getting rid of anything—they are merely redistributing the tax burden by ensuring that other people’s taxes will have to be increased to pay for the free goods and services feminists want to provide for supposedly helpless women. That might be good P.R. for feminist groups, but it’s not good for women

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