Thursday, December 8, 2016

Time Will Tell As It Always Does. Let's Hear It From Ellison.

One of the reasons most Liberals get reality wrong is because they repeat their own lies so often they begin to believe them. Bless their souls.

I connect the telling of lies to the firestorms happening on our campuses and universities.  How come? 

 First, it is a fact that most of academia are Liberals.  

Second, much of the funding of Islamic Departments is by the radical Wahhabi element within the Saudi Royal Family.  

Third, much of what is taught in these departments is biased and abject lies but academics are susceptible to embracing lies first, because of their own bias and second, because of their own cowardice and willingness to tolerate lies under the self-delusion of free speech.

Fourth, the attacks on American campuses, the punishment of those opposed to the spread of hate, deceit and lies, the intolerance by those of other's rights to that which they falsely demand for themselves is a subtle but effective effort to destroy our Republic from within. Yes, chaos is an effective tool of anarchists.

Fifth, once something is repeated often enough it begins to take on a life of acceptability and when it is not crushed and exposed for what it is, it spreads and this is what has taken root and is happening in America and on our campuses.  

This is what McCarthyism was all about in the '50's and it had a terrible effect on our nation and caused Americans to turn on each other, to destroy reputations and ruin lives. 

Some 50 years later we are re-living McCarthyism and it also begins with an M - radical Muslimism.
Will another Joseph Welch save us? If so where is he? (See 1 below.)

I find it amazing when free "progressive" women, who talk about breaking glass ceilings, tolerate and even support radicals who deny women their rights, dress them as if they are non-persons etc.

Sixth, yes Time Magazine is correct.  We are a divided nation and Obama is part of the equation as to why.  Trump asserts he is getting along famously with Obama. Remember GW and his love affair with Putin's blue eyes? 

Trump tells us how much Obama loves America.  Perhaps he does but it is not my America, It is Obama's vision of his America and the two, I submit, are vastly different countries. My America is rooted in the Constitution, is a nation that has sought to live down its more sordid history and truly become a shining light of tolerance for the rest of the world.  However, our tolerance is not radical and intolerant tolerance. It is genuine tolerance within the restraints and application  of our Bill of Rights, our adherence to The Rue of Law and this is why, I personally, was offended by the Clinton's, why I oppose Obama's disregard of our Constitution and his efforts to turn us into Germany, France etc. and Bernie Sander's appeal to failed Socialism

I am no student of history but I have lived long enough to understand the blessings and benefits of strength and the ability to rely upon a"mailed" iron fist and the benefits of Capitalism, with all its faults.  Trump understands strength  as well and probably this is why he has selected three Marine Generals to serve - Semper Fi!  

That said, I also am concerned by his possible self-delusion believing he can lay down with liberal lions and convert them to his side under the rubric of healing. Obama's former connections and associations and belief that America must atone for its sins, his sick need to apologize for this country he professedly loves  is something I reject and never bought.  I have judged Obama not by his silky words but his coarse actions and I intend to apply the same method of measurement to Trump.

I fear the tyrant as much as I do the self deluding romanticist. Hell is paved with good intentions and those who succumb to the siren song of fairness and togetherness because they are blinded by their own egos and believe they know best and their personalities are so awesome they can , yes, drink their own bath water, are also capable of bringing about great tragedy thinking they are healing.

The professedly Liberal anti-Trumpers, anti-Bannoners are lamentably fanning the campus flames by tagging them racists.  Donald may be excessively inured with his ability to narrow our divide but he is no racist, He truly cares about America, the blessings he and his family have been allowed to create and enjoy and intends to and believes he can make America Great Again.

Time will tell as it always does. (See 1a and 1b below - Pomerantz is a friend.)
Now let's hear it from Ellison. (See 2 below.)


A " 'uge" proposed letter from The New York Sun;
Long but could not resist sending at last moment before I leave for Orlando and you will have over a week to digest without any memos.
June 9, 1954
"Have You No Sense of Decency?"

Wisconsin Republican Senator Joseph R. McCarthy rocketed to public attention in 1950 with his allegations that hundreds of Communists had infiltrated the State Department and other federal agencies. These charges struck a particularly responsive note at a time of deepening national anxiety about the spread of world communism.

McCarthy relentlessly continued his anticommunist campaign into 1953, when he gained a new platform as chairman of the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations. He quickly put his imprint on that subcommittee, shifting its focus from investigating fraud and waste in the executive branch to hunting for Communists. He conducted scores of hearings, calling hundreds of witnesses in both public and closed sessions.

A dispute over his hiring of staff without consulting other committee members prompted the panel's three Democrats to resign in mid 1953. Republican senators also stopped attending, in part because so many of the hearings were called on short notice or held away from the nation's capital. As a result, McCarthy and his chief counsel Roy Cohn largely ran the show by themselves, relentlessly grilling and insulting witnesses. Harvard law dean Ervin Griswold described McCarthy's role as "judge, jury, prosecutor, castigator, and press agent, all in one."
In the spring of 1954, McCarthy picked a fight with the U.S. Army, charging lax security at a top-secret army facility. The army responded that the senator had sought preferential treatment for a recently drafted subcommittee aide. Amidst this controversy, McCarthy temporarily stepped down as chairman for the duration of the three-month nationally televised spectacle known to history as the Army-McCarthy hearings.
The army hired Boston lawyer Joseph Welch to make its case. At a session on June 9, 1954, McCarthy charged that one of Welch's attorneys had ties to a Communist organization. As an amazed television audience looked on, Welch responded with the immortal lines that ultimately ended McCarthy's career: "Until this moment, Senator, I think I never really gauged your cruelty or your recklessness." When McCarthy tried to continue his attack, Welch angrily interrupted, "Let us not assassinate this lad further, senator. You have done enough. Have you no sense of decency?"
Overnight, McCarthy's immense national popularity evaporated. Censured by his Senate colleagues, ostracized by his party, and ignored by the press, McCarthy died three years later, 48 years old and a broken man.
Related Links:
U.S. Congress. Senate. Executive Sessions of the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations of the Committee on Government Operations(McCarthy Hearings 1953-54), edited by Donald A. Rtichie and Elizabeth Bolling. Washington: GPO, 2003. S. Prt. 107-84. Available online.

Reference Items:
Griffith, Robert. The Politics of Fear: Joseph McCarthy and the Senate. Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 1970.
Oshinsky, David M. A Conspiracy So Immense: The World of Joseph McCarthy. New York: Macmillan, 1983.
U.S. Senate, Committee on Government Operations, Special Senate Investigation on Charges and Countercharges Involving Secretary of the Army Robert T. Stevens, John G. Adams, H. Struve Hensel and Senator Joe McCarthy, Roy M. Cohn, and Francis P. Carr, 83rd Cong., 2nd Sess., part 59 (Washington: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1954), pp 2429.

1a)The Son-In-Law Also Rises       
Jared Kushner (Jamel Toppin for Forbes)

It's been one week since Donald Trump pulled off the biggest upset in modern political history, and his headquarters at Trump Tower in New York City is a 58-story, onyx-glassed lightning rod. Barricades, TV trucks and protesters frame a fortified Fifth Avenue. Armies of journalists and selfie-seeking tourists stalk Trump Tower's pink marble lobby, hoping to snap the next political power player who steps into view. Twenty-six floors up, in the same building where washed-up celebrities once battled for Trump's blessing on The Apprentice, the president-elect is choosing his Cabinet, and this contest contains all the twists and turns of his old reality show.

Winners will emerge shortly. But today's focus is on the biggest loser: New Jersey governor Chris Christie, who has just been fired from his role leading the transition, along with most of the people associated with him. The episode is being characterized as a "knife fight" that ends in a "Stalinesque purge."

The most compelling figure in this intrigue, however, wasn't in Trump Tower. Jared Kushner was three blocks south, high up in his own skyscraper, at 666 Fifth Avenue, where he oversees his family's Kushner Companies real estate empire. Trump's son-in-law, dressed in an impeccably tailored gray suit, sitting on a brown leather couch in his impeccably neat office, displays the impeccably polite manners that won the 35-year-old a dizzying number of influential friends even before he had gained the ear, and trust, of the new leader of the free world..

"Six months ago Governor Christie and I decided this election was much bigger than any differences we may have had in the past, and we worked very well together," he says with a shrug. "The media has speculated on a lot of different things, and since I don't talk to the press, they go as they go, but I was not behind pushing out him or his people."

The speculation was well-founded, given the story's Shakespearean twist: As a U.S. attorney in 2005, Christie jailed Kushner's father on tax evasion, election fraud and witness tampering charges. Revenge theories aside, the buzz around Kushner was directional and indicative. A year ago he had zero experience in politics and about as much interest in it. Suddenly he sits at its global center. Whether he plunged the dagger into Christie--Trump insiders insist the Bridgegate scandal did him in--is less important than the fact that he easily could have. And that power comes well-earned.

Kushner almost never speaks publicly--his chats with FORBES mark the first time he has talked about the Trump campaign or his role in it--but interviews with him and a dozen people around him and the Trump camp lead to an inescapable fact: The quiet, enigmatic young mogul delivered the presidency to the most fame-hungry, bombastic candidate in American history.

"It's hard to overstate and hard to summarize Jared's role in the campaign," says billionaire Peter Thiel, the only significant Silicon Valley figure to publicly back Trump. "If Trump was the CEO, Jared was effectively the chief operating officer."

"Jared Kushner is the biggest surprise of the 2016 election," adds Eric Schmidt, the former CEO of Google, who helped design the Clinton campaign's technology system. "Best I can tell, he actually ran the campaign and did it with essentially no resources."

No resources at the beginning, perhaps. Underfunded throughout, for sure. But by running the Trump campaign--notably, its secret data operation--like a Silicon Valley startup, Kushner eventually tipped the states that swung the election. And he did so in manner that will change the way future elections will be won and lost. President Obama had unprecedented success in targeting, organizing and motivating voters. But a lot has changed in eight years. Specifically social media. Clinton did borrow from Obama's playbook but also leaned on traditional media. The Trump campaign, meanwhile, delved into message tailoring, sentiment manipulation and machine learning. The traditional campaign is dead, another victim of the unfiltered democracy of the Web--and Kushner, more than anyone not named Donald Trump, killed it.

That achievement, coupled with the personal trust Trump has in him, uniquely positions Kushner to be a power broker of the highest order for at least four years. "Every president I've ever known has one or two people he intuitively and structurally trusts," says former secretary of state Henry Kissinger, who has known Trump socially for decades and is currently advising the president-elect on foreign policy issues. "I think Jared might be that person."

JARED KUSHNER'S ASCENT from Ivanka Trump's little-known husband to Donald Trump's campaign savior happened gradually. In the early days of the scrappy campaign, it was all hands on deck, with Kushner helping research policy positions on tax and trade. But as the campaign gained steam, other players began using him as a trusted conduit to an erratic candidate. "I helped facilitate a lot of relationships that wouldn't have happened otherwise," Kushner says, adding that people felt safe speaking with him, without risk of leaks. "People were being told in Washington that if they did any work for the Trump campaign, they would never be able to work in Republican politics again. I hired a great tax-policy expert who joined under two conditions: We couldn't tell anybody he worked for the campaign, and he was going to charge us double."

Kushner's role expanded as the Trump ticket gained traction--so did his enthusiasm. Kushner went all-in with Trump last November after seeing his father-in-law pack a raucous arena in Springfield, Illinois, on a Monday night. "People really saw hope in his message," he says. "They wanted the things that wouldn't have been obvious to a lot of people I would meet in the New York media world, the Upper East Side or at Robin Hood [Foundation] dinners." And so this Harvard-educated child of privilege put on a bright-red Make American Great Again hat and rolled up his sleeves.

A power vacuum awaited him at Trump Tower. When FORBES visited the Trump campaign floor in the skyscraper a few weeks before Kushner's Springfield epiphany, there was literally nothing there. No people--and no desks or chairs or computers awaiting the arrival of staffers. Just campaign manager Corey Lewandowski, spokesperson Hope Hicks and a strategy that centered on Trump making headline-grabbing statements, often by calling in to television shows, supplemented by a rally once or twice a week to provide the appearance of a traditional campaign. It was the epitome of the super-light startup: to see how little they could spend and still get the results they wanted.

Kushner stepped up to turn it into an actual campaign operation. Soon he was assembling a speech and policy team, handling Trump's schedule and managing the finances. "Donald kept saying, 'I don't want people getting rich off the campaign, and I want to make sure we are watching every dollar just like we would do in business.'"
That structure provided a baseline, though still a blip compared with Hillary Clinton's state-by-state machine. The decision that won Trump the presidency started on the return trip from that Springfield rally last November aboard his private 757, dubbed Trump Force One. Chatting over McDonald's Filet-O-Fish sandwiches, Trump and Kushner talked about how the campaign was under-utilizing social media. The candidate, in turn, asked his son-in-law to take over his Facebook initiatives.

Despite his itchy Twitter finger, Trump is a Luddite. He reportedly gets his news from print and television, and his version of e-mail is to hand write a note that his assistant will scan and attach. Among those in his close circle, Kushner was the natural pick to create a modern campaign. Yes, like Trump he's primarily a real estate guy, but he had invested more broadly, including in media (in 2006 he bought the New York Observer) and digital commerce (he helped launch Cadre, an online marketplace for big real estate deals). More important, he knew the right crowd: co-investors in Cadre include Thiel and Alibaba's Jack Ma--and Kushner's younger brother, Josh, a formidable venture capitalist who also co-founded the $2.7 billion insurance unicorn Oscar Health.
Jared Kushner: The FORBES cover story

"I called some of my friends from Silicon Valley, some of the best digital marketers in the world, and asked how you scale this stuff," Kushner says. "They gave me their subcontractors."

At first Kushner dabbled, engaging in what amounted to a beta test using Trump merchandise. "I called somebody who works for one of the technology companies that I work with, and I had them give me a tutorial on how to use Facebook micro-targeting," Kushner says. Synched with Trump's blunt, simple messaging, it worked. The Trump campaign went from selling $8,000 worth of hats and other items a day to $80,000, generating revenue, expanding the number of human billboards--and proving a concept. In another test, Kushner spent $160,000 to promote a series of low-tech policy videos of Trump talking straight into the camera that collectively generated more than 74 million views.

By June the GOP nomination secured, Kushner took over all data-driven efforts. Within three weeks, in a nondescript building outside San Antonio, he had built what would become a 100-person data hub designed to unify fundraising, messaging and targeting. Run by Brad Parscale, who had previously built small websites for the Trump Organization, this secret back office would drive every strategic decision during the final months of the campaign. "Our best people were mostly the ones who volunteered for me pro bono," Kushner says. "People from the business world, people from nontraditional backgrounds."

Kushner structured the operation with a focus on maximizing the return for every dollar spent. "We played Moneyball, asking ourselves which states will get the best ROI for the electoral vote," Kushner says. "I asked, How can we get Trump's message to that consumer for the least amount of cost?" FEC filings through mid-October indicate the Trump campaign spent roughly half as much as the Clinton campaign did.

Kushner and his father-in-law Donald Trump, America's President-Elect. (Photo: Taylor Hill/Getty Images)
Just as Trump's unorthodox style allowed him to win the Republican nomination while spending far less than his more traditional opponents, Kushner's lack of political experience became an advantage. Unschooled in traditional campaigning, he was able to look at the business of politics the way so many Silicon Valley entrepreneurs have sized up other bloated industries.

Television and online advertising? Small and smaller. Twitter and Facebook would fuel the campaign, as key tools for not only spreading Trump's message but also targeting potential supporters, scraping massive amounts of constituent data and sensing shifts in sentiment in real time.

"We weren't afraid to make changes. We weren't afraid to fail. We tried to do things very cheaply, very quickly. And if it wasn't working, we would kill it quickly," Kushner says. "It meant making quick decisions, fixing things that were broken and scaling things that worked."

This wasn't a completely raw startup. Kushner's crew was able to tap into the Republican National Committee's data machine, and it hired targeting partners like Cambridge Analytica to map voter universes and identify which parts of the Trump platform mattered most: trade, immigration or change. Tools like Deep Root drove the scaled-back TV ad spending by identifying shows popular with specific voter blocks in specific regions--say, NCIS for anti-ObamaCare voters or The Walking Dead for people worried about immigration. Kushner built a custom geo-location tool that plotted the location density of about 20 voter types over a live Google Maps interface.

Soon the data operation dictated every campaign decision: travel, fundraising, advertising, rally locations--even the topics of the speeches. "He put all the different pieces together," Parscale says. "And what's funny is the outside world was so obsessed about this little piece or that, they didn't pick up that it was all being orchestrated so well."
For fundraising they turned to machine learning, installing digital marketing companies on a trading floor to make them compete for business. Ineffective ads were killed in minutes, while successful ones scaled. The campaign was sending more than 100,000 uniquely tweaked ads to targeted voters each day. In the end, the richest person ever elected president, whose fundraising effort was rightly ridiculed at the beginning of the year, raised more than $250 million in four months--mostly from small donors.

As the election barreled toward its finale, Kushner's system, with its high margins and up-to-the-minute voter data, provided both ample cash and the insight on where to spend it. When the campaign registered the fact that momentum in Michigan and Pennsylvania was turning Trump's way, Kushner unleashed tailored TV ads, last-minute rallies and thousands of volunteers to knock on doors and make phone calls.

And until the final days of the campaign, he did all this without anyone on the outside knowing about it. For those who can't understand how Hillary Clinton could win the popular vote by at least 2 million yet lose handily in the electoral college, perhaps this provides some clarity. If the campaign's overarching sentiment was fear and anger, the deciding factor at the end was data and entrepreneurship.

"Jared understood the online world in a way the traditional media folks didn't. He managed to assemble a presidential campaign on a shoestring using new technology and won. That's a big deal," says Schmidt, the Google billionaire. "Remember all those articles about how they had no money, no people, organizational structure? Well, they won, and Jared ran it."

CONTROLLED, UNDERSTATED and calm, Jared Kushner couldn't be more different from his father-in-law in personality and style. Take Twitter. While Trump's impulsive tweeting to his 15.5 million followers reportedly forced his staff to withhold his phone during parts of the campaign, Kushner--who has had a verified account since April 2009--has never posted a single tweet.

And whereas Trump's office is wall-to-wall Donald, a memorabilia-stuffed shrine to ego, the headquarters for the Kushner Companies is sparse and sober. A leather-bound copy of Jewish teachings, the Pirkei Avot, sits on a wooden pedestal in the reception room, and identical silver mezuzahs adorn the side of each office door. The only decoration in his large, terraced boardroom is an oil painting of his grandparents, Holocaust survivors who immigrated to the U.S. after World War II. But enter Kushner's corner office and you see--under a painting with the words "Don't Panic" over a canvas of New York Observer pages--two critical commonalities that unite the pair: columns of real estate deal trophies and framed photos of Ivanka. If you are looking for a consistent ideology from either Kushner or Trump, it can be summarized in a word: family.

Kushner and his wife, businesswoman Ivanka Trump. (Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
Jared and Ivanka met at a business lunch and started dating in 2007. During the courtship Kushner had met Donald only a few times in passing when, sensing the relationship was getting serious, he asked Trump for a meeting. Over lunch at the Trump Grill (which Trump briefly made a household name with his infamous taco bowl tweet), they discussed the couple's future. "I said, 'Ivanka and I are getting serious, and we're starting to go down that path,'" Kushner says and laughs.

"He said, 'You'd better be serious on this.'"

"Jared and my father initially bonded over a combination of me and real estate," Ivanka Trump says in her Trump Tower offices as dark-suited Secret Service agents stand watch in the halls. "There's a lot of parallels between Jared as a developer and my father in the early years of his development career."

Like Trump, Kushner grew up outside Manhattan: New Jersey in Kushner's case, versus Trump's Queens. Also like Trump, Kushner is the son of a man who created a real estate empire in his local market--Charles Kushner eventually controlled 25,000 apartments across the Northeast--and steeped his children in the family business. "My father never really believed in summer camp, so we'd come with him to the office," Kushner says. "We'd go look at jobs, work on construction sites. It taught us real work." Raised with three siblings in an observant Jewish home in Livingston, New Jersey, Kushner went to a private Jewish high school and then to Harvard (a 2006 book about college admissions would later single out Kushner as a prime example of how children of wealthy donors get preferential treatment; administrators quoted within that work later challenged its accuracy, calling it "distorted" and "false"). Next came New York University, for a joint J.D. and M.B.A.

His father was a huge supporter of Democrats, giving $1 million to the Democratic National Committee in 2002 and $90,000 to Hillary Clinton's Senate run in 2000, and Jared largely followed suit, with more than $60,000 to Democratic committees and $11,000 to Clinton. During grad school Kushner interned for Manhattan's longtime district attorney, Robert Morgenthau, before a family scandal upended his life. In 2004 Charles Kushner pleaded guilty to tax evasion, illegal campaign contributions and witness tampering. The latter charge brought national tabloid attention. Angry that his brother-in-law was talking to prosecutors, Charles had paid a prostitute to entrap him--a tryst that he secretly taped and then mailed to his sister.

Just 24, Jared, as the elder son, suddenly found himself charged with keeping the family together. He saw his mother most days and flew to Alabama to visit his father in prison on most weekends. He also developed a deeper bond with his brother, Josh, who had just started Harvard when the scandal broke. Says Josh, who considers Jared his best friend: "He is the person that I turn to for guidance and support no matter the circumstance."
"The whole thing taught me not to worry about the things you can't control," Kushner says. "You can control how you react and can try to make things happen as you want them to. I focus on doing my best to ensure the outcomes. And when it doesn't go my way I have to work harder the next time."

That applied to the family business, too, which Kushner now led. To start fresh, he took aim at Manhattan, just as Trump did 40 years before, determined to play in America's most lucrative and competitive real estate market.
The timing couldn't have been worse. His first big purchase as CEO of the Kushner Companies, 666 Fifth, for a record-breaking $1.8 billion, closed in 2007--just in time for the financial crisis. Rents fell, leases broke, funding vanished. To stay solvent, Kushner sold 49% of the building's retail space to the Carlyle Group and others for $525 million and seemingly restructured every loan agreement possible, showing a willingness to pay more down the road for room to breathe in the short term. In the end he avoided the kind of bankruptcy maneuvers that Trump pulled in the 1990s and weathered the storm.

Kushner had learned a lesson. Rather than chase top-dollar, blue-chip addresses around New York, he would try to ride up with cooler, up-and-coming neighborhoods, which he has done to the tune of $14 billion worth of acquisitions and developments, in places like Manhattan's SoHo and East Village and Brooklyn's Dumbo. "Jared brings a youthful perspective, an innovative mind-set, to a very traditional industry that's comprised of predominantly 70-year-old men," Ivanka Trump says. He has also pushed into resurgent areas--Astoria, Queens, and Journal Square in Jersey City--that were once the stomping grounds of Fred Trump and Charles Kushner, respectively.

PART OF THE REASON Jared Kushner has engendered such public interest, besides the power he suddenly wields and the curiosity generated by his near-invisible media presence, is the paradoxes that he represents.
He brought the Silicon Valley ethos, which values openness and inclusiveness, to a campaign that promised closed borders, trade protection and religious exclusion. He is the scion of prodigious Democratic donors yet steered a Republican presidential campaign. A grandson of Holocaust survivors who serves a man who has advocated a ban on war refugees. A fact-driven lawyer whose chosen candidate called global warming a hoax, linked vaccines to autism and challenged President Obama's citizenship. A media mogul in a campaign stoked by fake news. A devout Jew advising a president-elect embraced by the alt-right and supported by the KKK.
Kushner's answers to these conflicts come down to one core conviction--his unflagging faith in Donald Trump. A faith that, ironically, given his role in the campaign, he defends with the "data" he's accumulated about the man over a decade-plus relationship.

"If I know somebody and everyone else says that this person's a terrible person," he says, "I'm not going to start thinking that this person's a terrible person or disassociating myself, when my empirical data and experience is a lot more informed than many of the people casting these judgments. What would that say about me if I changed my view based on what other people think, as opposed to the facts that I actually know for myself?"
Regarding Trump's worldview: "I don't think it's very controversial in an election to become the president of the United States to say that your position is to put America first and to be nationalist as opposed to a globalist."
As for Trump's endless stream of statements that insulted and threatened Muslims, Mexicans, women, prisoners of war and U.S. generals, among others? "I just know a lot of the things that people try to attack him with are just not true or overblown or exaggerations. I know his character. I know who he is, and I obviously would not have supported him if I thought otherwise. If the country gives him a chance, they'll find he won't tolerate hateful rhetoric or behavior."

On his political affiliation, he defines himself thus: "To be determined. I haven't made a decision. Things are still evolving as they go." He adds: "There's some aspects of the Democrat Party that didn't speak to me, and there are some aspects of the Republican Party that didn't speak to me. People in the political world try to put you into different buckets based on what exists. I think Trump's creating his own bucket--a blend of what works and eliminating what doesn't work." (Though in using the GOP-favored pejorative "Democrat Party" over the traditional "Democratic Party," Kushner gives a hint about the contents of his bucket.)

The allegations of anti-Semitism hit closer to home. In July, Trump tweeted a graphic of Hillary Clinton against a background of dollar bills and a six-pointed star that contained the words "most corrupt candidate ever," an image that had allegedly originated on a white supremacist message board. Dana Schwartz, a reporter for Kushner's Observer, wrote a widely read piece for the paper's site urging her boss, given the prominence he places on his faith and family, to denounce the tweet. Kushner responded with an opinion piece that defended Trump using the same old line: that he knows Trump. "If even the slightest infraction against what the speech police have deemed correct speech is instantly shouted down with taunts of 'racist,' then what is left to condemn the actual racists?"
Kushner insists today that there will be no hate element in the Trump Administration, starting at the top. "You can't not be a racist for 69 years, then all of a sudden become a racist, right?" he says. "You can't not be an anti-Semite for 69 years and all of a sudden become an anti-Semite because you're running."

His reaction to fringe elements, like the KKK and the white nationalist alt-right, who have embraced Trump? "Trump has disavowed their support 25 times. He's renounced hatred, he's renounced bigotry, and he's renounced racism. I don't know if he could ever denounce them enough for some people." He then paraphrases a quote he attributes to Ronald Reagan: "Just because they support me doesn't mean that I support them."

Kushner's support extends to Steve Bannon, Trump's strategic advisor, who had been accused by his ex-wife of making anti-Semitic comments (he denies it) and whose website, Breitbart, has often published articles that dog-whistle racist, anti-Semitic sentiments. "Do you hold me accountable for every single thing that the Observer' s ever written, like they came from me?" Kushner says. "All I know about Steve is my experience working with him. He's an incredible Zionist and loves Israel. He was one of the leaders in the anti-divestiture campaign. And what I've seen from working together with him was somebody who did not fit the description that people are pushing on him. I choose to judge him based on my experience and seeing the job he's done, as opposed to what other people are saying about him."

And that seems to reflect how Kushner feels about friends upset by his role in electing someone who offends their values, to the point where, before the election, several wrote to him in fits of pique. "I call it an exfoliation. Anyone who was willing to change a friendship or not do business because of who somebody supports in politics is not somebody who has a lot of character.

"People are very fickle," he adds. "You have to find what you believe in, challenge your truths. And if you believe in something, even if it's unpopular, you have to push with it."

MANY OF THOSE fickle friends are likely to return now that Kushner, after masterminding Trump's stunning victory, has the ear of the future president. What he will do with that power is anyone's guess.
For now, Kushner plays coy: "There's a lot of people who have been asking me to get involved in a more official capacity. I just have to think about what that means for my family, for my business and make sure it'd be the right thing for a multitude of reasons."

It's unlikely that he can hold a formal position in the Trump White House. Nepotism laws established after President Kennedy made brother Bobby attorney general bar the president from giving government roles to relatives--including in-laws. Reports have stated that the administration is exploring every legal angle to get Kushner into the West Wing--including adding him as an unpaid advisor, though even that may be covered by the law, which was written to ensure fealty to the Constitution rather than the individual.

But it may be a moot point. With or without a government title or a $170,000 federal salary, there's no law that bans a president from seeking counsel from whomever he wants. It's clear America's tech and entrepreneurial leaders, who heavily backed Clinton and collectively denounced Trump, will use Kushner as a go-between and that Trump will lean on him just as heavily.

"I assume he'll be in the White House throughout the entire presidency," says News Corp. billionaire Rupert Murdoch. "For the next four or eight years he'll be a strong voice, maybe even the strongest after the vice president."

1b)  Mississippi’s Governor Learns at Pardes

By Sherwin Pomerantz

While Mississippi’s 9,000 Jews make up just 0.003% of the state’s 3 million citizens, the state is an incredibly strong source of support for Israel and understands the potential mutual benefit that can be gained from increasing the economic activity between the two states.

Led by two-term Governor Phil Bryant, the state recently completed its third business mission in the last two years, each time encouraged and led by the Governor. Never before has a US state governor visited Israel as often.

But that’s only half the story. There is, among the political leadership of the state, an incredibly strong identification with the Jewish people that finds its roots in bible stories that locals there learned in their youth. During this visit, State Representative Donnie Bell, who hails from a small community of 2,200 in rural northern Mississippi, said that coming to Israel has been on his bucket list for as long as he can remember. He related that his mother taught him from an early age that Jews are special to God and that he must always respect the Jewish people.

In the governor’s case, as an early student of the bible he has a very well defined affinity for both the land and the people of Israel. So perhaps it was divine planning that the most recent Mississippi trade mission coincided with a  Pardes Lunch & Learn session hosted by a law firm located in Tel Aviv’s Azrielli Center. Full disclosure: When I am not wearing my Pardes Chairperson’s kippah I head an economic development consulting firm in Jerusalem which, among other activities, formally represents the trade and investment promotion interests of Mississippi in Israel and the region.

Pardes was honored to host Governor Bryant along with his aide-de-camp and the Executive Director of the Mississippi Development Authority as well as Lior Haiat, Israel’s Consul General in Miami who accompanied the mission for  Rabbi Dr.Daniel Roth’s session on “Can Advocates of Justice also be Pursuers of Peace?” The reaction? The Governor absolutely loved being there and even participated in the havruta  session and discussion that followed.

Afterwards, he reflected on his first Pardes learning experience, “I am amazed that people here take time out of their work day to study topics discussed and debated centuries ago. This is something all of us could learn from. It reminded me of my days in church school. We were happy to be invited and enjoyed being with the participants.”

In many ways this was a real Kiddush haShem. I can just imagine the look on the face of Rabbi Jeffrey-Kurtz Lendner of Beth Israel Congregation in Jackson, the state capital, the next time he sees the Governor and this experience is related to him as I am sure it will be. At Pardes we often think of North America in terms of the major Jewish cities and sometimes forget the visceral support Israel has in smaller and more isolated Jewish communities. This event brought that lesson home to many of us.

Sherwin Pomerantz is a 33 year resident of Israel, CEO of Atid EDI Ltd., a Jerusalem-based economic development consulting firm, past National President of the Association of Americans & Canadians in Israel and Chairman of the Board of the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies in Jerusalem.

Comment: Keith Ellison’s speech was an Islamic-supremacist, chauvinist diatribe


The real story with Ellison is that, as with so many religious-nationalist Muslims in the West, his views dovetail much more logically with the extreme Right.

Women in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. (photo credit:REUTERS)
In mid-November Minnesota congressman Keith Ellison announced he would run for chairmanship of the Democratic National Committee. He received support from influential Democrats such as Bernie Sanders and Senator Chuck Schumer, who is expected to be the Senate minority leader in 2017.

Ellison’s personal story in many ways is the kind that makes America exceptional: a black man who converted to Islam and found himself at the center of American politics. As such he represents two minority groups, and has been outspoken in support of both. 

What’s also exceptional is that he has supported extreme ethno-religious nationalism as well. In law school at the University of Minnesota he wrote passionately about the Nation of Islam and affirmative action in columns that might raise eyebrows today with terms like “white barbarism,” but surely were normal in hyper-racially-aware campus life. 
An April 1990 op-ed The Minnesota Daily put online under Ellison’s pen-name Keith Hakim even proposes the creation of a black country in the US South. “Blacks, of course, would not be compelled to move to the black state, and, of course, peaceful whites would not be compelled to move away.”

Ellison later distanced himself from the Nation of Islam and these black nationalist concepts, noting in 2006 that the Nation of Islam leader was antisemitic and “I should have come to that conclusion earlier than I did.” 

Now the pro-Ellison crowd is trying to highlight his progressive views. J.J Goldberg at The Forward says the congressman supports “gay rights and marriage equality, women’s equality and empowerment.” His views on Israel are merely left of center, he “stands on platforms with fellow leftists and Muslims and publicly defends Israel’s rights.”

On November 29 the Investigative Project on Terrorism released a 2010 clip of Ellison condemning Israel and US foreign policy. 

The Anti-Defamation League excoriated his views. But, wait a sec, supporters said. Read a transcript of the full tape. There’s nothing outrageous here.

Well, I read it, and so should you. Goldberg says that those who oppose Ellison “target him in an attempt to combat the visible presence of Muslims at all levels of American society on the assumption that what’s good for Muslims must be bad for Israel.” Ellison is merely a “Muslim peacenik” whose sympathy is for Palestinians.

Ellison’s 2010 speech at a fundraiser with Esam Omeish, who had run for Virginia State Assembly, was in itself strange.

Omeish was asked to resign from the Virginia State Commission on Immigration by governor Tim Kaine in 2007 when it was revealed in a December 2000 speech on “Jerusalem Day” he had claimed Palestinians “have known that the jihad way is the way to liberate your land.” So why was Ellison standing by Omeish? “I’m bringing 16 Minnesota companies to Saudi Arabia, Riyadh and Dammam,” Ellison told the guests in 2010. “What’s going on with the US-Libyan relation, business relationship? We got to build it up. Morocco, we got to build it up. Saudi Arabia, we got to build it up.”

Ellison said it was the job of Muslim Americans to mobilize, “by supporting my campaign you’re keeping me in business doing this stuff.” The “stuff” was more bilateral business relationships with the “Muslim world,” and he claimed that “these business relationships can be leveraged to say that we need some, a new deal politically.”

Part of that would mean “if you have come to America, if you’ve left Syria, let’s do something about that sanctions bill that prohibits trade.”

I want you to read these quotes again. Here is “progressive” Keith Ellison talking about increasing relations with Saudi Arabia and taking a delegation there. A delegation to one of the most repressive regimes in the world, where there are public beheadings and women may not drive or travel without permission. He didn’t say “let’s build relations with liberal Muslim countries,” but rather Saudi Arabia. And where else? Libya under Muammar Gaddafi.

He wanted sanctions lifted on Syria under Bashar Assad and he wanted Syrian Americans who fled the brutal, fascistic Assad government to support that.

This is Ellison’s true face: not anti-Israel and antisemitic, but an Islamic supremacist who was also either ignorant of the reality in Syria under the Assad regime, or a willing dupe for these dictators. He complained that the Middle East was “a region of 350 million all turns on a country of seven million,” referring to Israel’s role in US policy. His solution? For Americans who “trace their roots back to those 350 million [to get] involved.” When Muslim Americans get involved, he saw them as Muslim first: “I am telling [you] that the Muslim [Capitol] Hill staffers are a group of highly, highly competent professionals. Brother Assad Akhtar, yeah, who did such a great job...” It’s not clear who “brother” Assad is, but it’s clear that if a Christian or Jewish American spoke about “the Christian capital hill staffers, brother John,” it would be problematic.

It was a very religious speech also. He said “only Allah knows who is going to win” and “I keep the ummah [Muslim community] in my prayer constantly.” Ellison’s speech wasn’t about anything liberal, this was a speech about chauvinism, Saudi Arabia-style chauvinism. Does this sound liberal and progressive, or like a religious reactionary? Can anyone imagine a US politician saying, 

“We just want to say all praise is due to Christ for those Christian doctors and nurses and physicians who every single day heal Americans”? That’s a direct quote from the 2010 speech, but with Christ substituted for “Allah” and Christian for “Muslim.” Well you can imagine a right-wing Christian conservative saying it. But Ellison said this under the guise of “liberalism.”

The real story with Ellison is that, as with so many religious-nationalist Muslims in the West, his views dovetail much more logically with the extreme Right.

He says God decides who wins and “all praise is due to God.” He asserts that US policy should be guided by a religious lobby in the US to connect the US to coreligionists abroad, and his complaint about the Israel lobby is merely why should such a small number of believers have such influence. The solution? More Muslims will counterbalance the influence of “them,” the word he uses for Jews in his speech. 

“They live in my district, they are my constituents. I have a moral and legal obligation to meet with them...they want to tell me, well you know the real issue is, the real issue is Iran...if Iran is such a big deal, is it a big enough deal for you to suspend your building houses, colonizing what will be the future state of Palestine?” In this zero-sum worldview there’s no place for rightwing and left-wing Muslims, secular and religious; for him Syria and Saudi Arabia were the same in 2010. This isn’t the “pro-choice” story, this is anti-choice, a clear view that Muslims in America have one choice, and that’s to blindly support every Muslim country abroad and every Muslim “brother” in America. That’s a scary thought and one out of step with the Democratic party’s traditions and the secular view of politics.

The reality is that things are not black and white and nothing is more dangerous than Ellison’s religious test for people. If Ellison wants to think that Israel uses the US as “their ATM,” as he said, or complain Israel is “colonizing what will be the future state of Palestine,” that’s less scary than his views on Saudi Arabia. 

The offensive statement, “that country [Israel] has mobilized its diaspora to do its bidding in America,” is less frightening than his solution: “The question is, with all of us here, we ought to be able to do at least as much.” The solution isn’t to reduce Israel’s influence, but to mobilize Muslim Americans to march in lockstep against it. But Muslim Americans have other interests abroad, a Muslim Kurdish woman from Iran has different concerns than a Muslim Ahmadi man from Pakistan or a Shia from Iraq.

Marching in nationalist, religious lockstep is not what America is about. That’s what sectarians in Syria think life is about. If you’re a Shi’ite you do X and if you’re a Sunni you do Y. Being Muslim does not imply that you must support Saudi Arabia’s outrageous policies. Lots of Muslims understand that nuance. 

But in the West elected leaders like Ellison have eschewed responsibility to fight for the same liberal values in the Islamic world that they pretend to support in the US. Too often politicians who are Muslim in the West end up being members of liberal political parties while not espousing anything liberal. An Islamist Swedish Green Party politician refused to shake hands with women. That’s not liberal and it should be condemned as the right wing extremism that it is.

There are plenty of real liberals in the Muslim world and in the West. For some reason what percolates to the top is the reactionary views of those like Ellison’s 2010 speech that puts “Muslim” first, and rights second.

If those like Ellison think US policy toward Israel is immoral, as he says – “this is about being pro something, it’s about being pro human dignity” – where is the human dignity in Assad’s Syria, or Libya under Gaddafi, or Saudi Arabia? Where is the human dignity for Saudi blogger Raif Badawi, sentenced to be whipped 1,000 times, like African-American slaves once were? Where is the dignity for the 28-year-old Saudi woman who was gang raped on video and sentenced to 200 lashes? How about human dignity for Asia Bibi in Pakistan, sentenced to death for blasphemy?

Ellison says “build it up.” How about dignity for the Kurdish towns harmed by ongoing war in Turkey? Maybe Ellison is right that some economic relations should be predicated on Israel’s actions, then subject Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and others to the same quid-pro-quo, don’t take delegations to the most religious, fascist country in the Middle East, take them to Tunisia where local democrats crave investment.

Ellison said in 2010, “When I go to Jumuah [Friday prayer], I can get an update on Sudan, on Pakistan.” An update about executions and genocide in those countries? Ellison has nothing critical to say. He complains about the Jewish Diaspora in the US supporting Israel, but Jewish Americans are among the foremost critics of Israel. Ellison doesn’t say Muslims should critique the outright fascism, autocracy, monarchy, intolerance and inquisitions in many Muslim countries, and support the liberals there, he presents a blind nationalist, chauvinist, religious approach to partnership.

A nuanced liberal approach doesn’t see the world through a religious lens. It doesn’t have a religious test for US foreign policy. Ellison should be held to account, not for his views on Israel, but his views on America, Muslims and the Muslim world.

Follow the author @Sfrantzman.


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