Friday, January 6, 2017

U.N Birthed Israel and Then Turned On Its Own Son. Hope I Owe Buddy Carter Thanks? Trump and A Pound of Flesh? Obama Is A Cad! 100 Day Nonsense!

The U.N. birthed Israel over 65 years ago and then turned on their son because he grew up strong and was able to defend himself against all the surrounding neighborhood bullies.

Then two former friends came along and also turned out to be bullies.

What a sad commentary. Truman would be ashamed.(See 1 below.)

It is politically easy to pass non-binding resolutions but they still send a moral message which is important.

I urged my Representative, Buddy Carter, to join with others and be a co-sponsor and I do not know that he joined in but I have every reason to believe he did.  If you did Buddy, thanks.  You are standing on the right side of furthering the continuance of a strong relationship that Obama and Kerry sought to destroy and certainly weakened. (See 1a below.)

Now we will soon learn whether Trump will extract a big price/a Dicken's pound of flesh. as it were. for his support?  (See 1b below.)
Whither Trump on two other matters? (See 2 and 2a below.)
While I am ranting, if what happened in Chicago yesterday becomes the new norm America is in deep trouble.  The rage, the anger, the racism, the hatred of police, the lies and manipulation to avoid Congress the feckless behaviour after bold statements , the quick to judge mentality etc. all send bad messages to the forgotten.  This does not excuse errant behaviour and they must pay for their crimes and sins. Nevertheless, I submit, Obama's lack of leadership or his style of supposed leadership has added more fuses to a society which is already in a combustible state.

This is the true unvarnished legacy Obama is leaving and not the one he slickly tried to convey a few days ago when Jarrett said no scandals, crime down, we are better off than 8 years ago etc..

She forgot about the 14th,  Flynt's water scandal,  but what's a little undrinkable water mean when you are so self-righteous?

Obama/Jarrett are incapable of telling the truth and admitting his failures. That is a character flaw which reveals more about who Obama is than anything he says. What a man does reflects more than his words.

Obama is  nothing but a cad parading as a slick intellect and Jarrett is the surrogate mother, the one he never had.. (See 3 below.)
One final comment.

What is this nonsense about focusing on every president's first 100 days?  Is this something the mass media folks drummed up so they could make news, turn government into a time clock of histrionics.?

Every day is important and every day could be a day of progress except D.C does not work that way. D.C is where everything gets wasted, money, time, freedom, strength and, above all, reputations. Perhaps Trump can change the D.C mentality, the D.C ethic, the D.C culture.  I believe that is too much to ask  and I, can assure you. Schumer and his crowd will do everything in their power to make it impossible to bring about needed change/reform because that is what Party leaders do.  If not, they get thrown out of office.  Their job is not to do what is best for America but to throw sand  in the opposition's gears. Why? So their party can run against the engine on the basis its gears were stuck. This is as true of Republicans as it is Democrats.

The one redeeming difference is the philosophy of Conservatism is best for America and is what The Founders intended when they devised checks and balances and drafted our constitution after great thought and raucous debate.

Subsequently, amendments were adopted to rectify a few instances where it was clear reform was needed .Some of the amendments have actually made matters worse.

What was intended has been gutted mainly by Supreme Court Liberals who have drifted away from the message of the Constitution on the premise they know better, they are brighter and their agenda is more suited for modern times than what was conceived by men wearing powdered wigs and knee britches. How arrogant can we get? Now Schumer and his crowd of disrupters will do their best to delay progress, appointments and efforts to reverse the damage Obama wrought upon this nation.

Their goal is to blame Trump for the damage they intend to cause so they can recapture power. They also will enlist their allies in the mass media to assist them in their nefarious efforts.

So, I believe the first 100 days will come and go and some things will be tried and maybe even accomplished but the  first hundred days are likely to reveal more about the barriers thrown in the way, the political IED 's that will be planted, than any progress in regard to "Making America Great Again."

Am I too cynical? Time will tell.
Have a great and peaceful weekend.

1) Bernard-Henri Lévy: Israel, Obama and the United Nations

avatar by Bernard-Henri Lévy

I am an unwavering proponent of the two-state solution in the Middle East.

And I continue to think that, even battered and bruised, abandoned by some, rejected by others, it is the only solution that, over time, will allow Israel to remain at once the Jewish state conceived by its pioneers and the exemplary democracy whose spirit and institutions 70 years of war, open and otherwise, have not managed to erode.

Yet, inured as I am to disappointment, I was deeply shocked by the circumstances surrounding the adoption by the United Nations Security Council, on December 23, of Resolution 2334, which called upon Israel to “immediately … cease” what some view as the colonization of the occupied Palestinian territories.

I know that news moves fast. Given that fast pace — especially at a moment when the United States has eyes and ears only for the “transition,” for the acts and utterances of the president-elect, for the government that he is setting up, and for his wife, his daughter and little Barron — this story may strike some as already being ancient history. Nevertheless, it has been swirling around in my head for two weeks. And I would like to take a moment to explain why.
  1. There was the source, of course: the United Nations, an organization that for decades has not ceased to condemn, vilify, and ostracize Israel, becoming in the process one of the last places on earth where one could expect to encounter, on this question as on many others, a balanced or courageous stance.
  1. Then there was the spectacle of those fifteen raised hands, the same hands that were so pointedly not raised a few days before to stop the massacre in Aleppo. How could they dare to portray little Israel as the great barrier to peace? How could they imagine that by doing so they might recover in the applause of those in attendance a share of their lost honor? And what is one to make of the splintered and anemic international community trying to repair itself on the back of the Jewish state? All of this was as pathetic as it was ghoulish.
  1. There was the poor wording of the text of the resolution, which, despite the phrase condemning “all acts of violence against civilians, including acts of terror” (the words “including acts of terror” lead one to wonder about the other “acts of violence” that are being put on the same plane as these “acts of terror”), assigned responsibility for blocking the peace process primarily, if not solely, to Israel. What about Palestinian obstinacy? What about the double-speak of the Ramallah government? What about the Christmas trees on which, in some quarters of Arab Jerusalem, people hung, in place of garlands, photos of “martyrs” killed in “combat” — killed, that is, while trying to stab Israeli civilians? None of that, for the drafters of the resolution or for those who voted for and celebrated it, apparently was an “obstacle to peace.” Nothing was equal in perfidy to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s policy of expanding the settlements.
  1. There was the question of the settlements and the manner in which the issue was, once again, presented. That the continued pursuit of settlements in the West Bank is wrong — that is obvious. And that there is a growing number of hawks on the Israeli right who, with Netanyahu at their head, dream of seeing the process accelerate into an irreversible situation — that is probable. But it is not true that we are already there. It is not accurate to present the building effort as a methodical and malign proliferation metastasizing throughout the future Palestine and dismembering it in advance. The reality, readily apparent to anyone who takes the trouble to analyze matters without blinkers or prejudice, is that the territorial concentration of the densest settlements is creating a situation that, except for the number of settlements, is not radically different from that which prevailed in the Sinai Peninsula before the 1982 agreement with Egypt or in the Gaza Strip before the redeployment undertaken by Ariel Sharon in 2004. In fact, the great majority of the building is still being done close enough to the Green Line to permit, when the time comes, an exchange of territory and, elsewhere (that is, at the most distant and isolated sites) to allow for admittedly painful evacuations. (Not to mention the option that I am amazed is so seldom raised — namely, that Jews should be invited to stay and live in the new Palestine, just as 1.5 million Palestinians now live in Israel as full citizens.)
  1. And finally there was, for the first time in forty years, the surprise abstention of the United States delivered by Ambassador Samantha Power, followed a few days later by Secretary of State John Kerry’s long speech in support. People can say what they will about this. But to see this administration, which has conceded so much to Iran, offered so little resistance to Russia, and invented, in Syria, the doctrine of a red line that turned out to be red only with the blood of Syrians sacrificed on the altar of a renunciation of power and of law; to see that same administration trying to compensate for all this by speaking up at the last minute against the planet’s black sheep, the scruffy prime minister of Israel — what could be more abject?
  2. I no longer recognized, in this facile effort to regain lost authority on the cheap, the obscure young senator from Illinois whom I met in Boston one day in July 2004: he evoked for me, then, the shared glory — in his eyes, parallel and commensurate glories — of the American civil rights movement and the Jewish people’s new flight from Egypt, as represented by Zionism.

But I sense only too clearly now the early warning signs of a broken humanity, resounding more loudly than ever before with the clash of empires and of competing visions of the world, doomed to suffer the eternal recurrence of injustice and carnage — but in which “the longest hate” once again becomes a shared religion.
Bernard-Henri Lévy — French philosopher, filmmaker, and activist; defender of Israel and of Jewish values — returns to New York on January 11 for a conversation with Charlie Rose at the 92nd Street Y. On the previous day, Random House will publish The Genius of Judaism, an English translation of Lévy’s best-seller, L’Esprit du judaïsme. 

Declaring unwavering support for Israel, the US Congress has issued a non-binding resolution slamming the UN for unfairly targeting Israel; the measure passed 342-80; a similar bill has been introduced to the Senate.
WASHINGTON - The House overwhelmingly approved a bipartisan measure Thursday that rebukes the United Nations for criticizing Israeli settlements as Republicans used the debate to accuse President Barack Obama of turning his back on the Jewish state.

Lawmakers voted 342-80 for the non-binding resolution that declares unwavering support for Israel and insists that the United States reject any future UN actions that are similarly "one-sided and anti-Israel."

"Our government abandoned our ally Israel when she needed us the most," said House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis. "It is time to repair the damage done by this misguided hit job at the UN."

The measure divided Democrats. Nearly 80 opposed the measure because they said it contained inaccuracies and distorted the complexities of the Middle East peace process. They also accused Republicans of attacking Obama unfairly in the waning days of his presidency.

"The point of the measure seems to be to bash Obama on the way out," said Rep. Gerry Connolly, D-Va., who along with many other Democrats still voiced strong support for Israel. They said Obama deserved credit for engineering last year's new, long-term security agreement that gives Israel $38 billion in US military aid, including $5 billion for missile defenses.

A similar bipartisan measure to reprimand the UN has been introduced in the Senate. "Israel is always the bad guy in the eyes of the United Nations," said Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., one of the measure's co-sponsors.
Attention from the move by the UN last month could provide fuel for pro-Israel initiatives favored by conservatives on Capitol Hill. For example, a small group of Republican senators is proposing to withhold 50 percent of the State Department's 2017 budget until the US Embassy in Israel is moved from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. During the campaign, President-elect Donald Trump promised to shift the embassy.

But a spokesman for Jordan's government told The Associated Press on Thursday that the embassy move would be a "red line" for Jordan and "inflame the Islamic and Arab streets." Jordan serves as custodian of a major Islamic shrine in east Jerusalem and the Palestinians seek a capital there.

Israel and its supporters lashed out at Obama for his decision to abstain and allow the UN Security Council to approve in December a resolution calling Israel's settlements in the West Bank and east Jerusalem "a flagrant violation under international law."

Although the US is opposed to the settlements, it has traditionally used its veto power as a permanent member of the Security Council to scuttle resolutions that condemn Israel. Disputes between Israel and the Palestinians must be resolved through direct negotiations, according to longstanding practice and policy.
Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel's prime minister, accused Obama of a "shameful ambush" and said he was looking forward to working with Trump, whom he described as his friend.

But Secretary of State John Kerry said in a late December speech that the US was standing up for a two-state solution when it abstained on the resolution. He criticized Israel for settlement building and blamed Netanyahu for dragging Israel away from democracy.

Kerry said expanding Israeli settlements in the West Bank and east Jerusalem are leading to an "irreversible one-state reality."

The Palestinians seek the West Bank and east Jerusalem, territories captured by Israel in the 1967 war, for an independent state. They say that Israeli settlements in these areas, now home to about 600,000 Israelis, are threatening their plans for independence by taking in lands where they hope to establish their state.
The UN resolution, along with Kerry's speech, essentially endorsed the Palestinian position by calling for the pre-1967 lines to serve as the reference point for a final border.

Netanyahu, who opposes a return to the 1967 lines, has condemned the moves as "skewed" and "shameful."
Rep. Ed Royce of California, the Republican chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, and Rep. Eliot Engel of New York, the panel's top Democrat, sponsored the House measure. The UN resolution "undermines the prospect for Israelis and Palestinians resuming productive, direct negotiations," according to their legislation, and should be "repealed or fundamentally altered."

1b)  Will Trump demand a huge quid pro quo from Israel?
By Elliot Jager

THE 2016 ELECTION was hardly the first in which American Jews voted overwhelmingly for the losing candidate. Nevertheless, it is difficult to think of an incoming president who has caused more commotion in US Jewish circles than Donald J. Trump.

Invoking the litany of how often Jews have been out of electoral sync with their compatriots brings them small comfort.The presidential electi

Although 80% of Jews voted for Democrat Hubert Humphrey in 1968, the country elected Republican Richard Nixon. In 1972, 65% of Jews cast their ballots for Democrat George McGovern, but Nixon was re-elected.

In 1980, a plurality of 45% voted to reelect Democrat Jimmy Carter, but Republican Ronald Reagan captured the White House (along with 39% of the Jewish vote).

Likewise, in 1984, 67% of Jews favored Democrat Walter Mondale, yet America preferred four more years of Reagan. In 1988, 64% supported Democrat Michael Dukakis ‒ however Republican George H. W. Bush won, pulling 35% of the Jewish vote.

In 2000, an overwhelming 79% of US Jews wanted Democrat Al Gore, but the country at large went for George W. Bush. And, in 2004, 76% of Jews voted for Democrat John Kerry, but George W. Bush won again.

The Jewish community took the defeats of their favored candidates in its stride.

This time around, while Trump captured more votes in the Electoral College than Hillary R. Clinton, she actually won 2.7 million more popular votes than he did. The 71% of US Jews who preferred the defeated Clinton voted with the majority, but it’s the 24% who backed the Republican who get to savor victory.

Many Jewish voters viewed Trump as a disquieting package of populism, crassness, demagoguery, bullying, and misogyny.

A candidate who appealed both to Louis Farrakhan of the Nation of Islam and white-conspiracy theorist Alex Jones was necessarily anathema to the mainstream Jewish community, including many who traditionally vote Republican.

It is true that 51% of American Jews identify with the Democratic Party, but the community is more politically heterogeneous than is assumed. While the 51% identify as broadly liberal, 47% label themselves centrist or conservative, according to a 2016 American Jewish Committee survey.

FOR JEWISH intellectuals, opposition to Trump wasn’t simply a matter of political preference. It was not simply about making a tough choice between two flawed, unpopular, and untrustworthy candidates. Nor did the Jewish divide fall neatly along liberal- conservative lines ‒ witness the number of neoconservative Jewish intellectuals who refused to embrace Trump, among them Bill Kristol of The Weekly Standard, Bret Stephens of The Wall Street Journal and Commentary editor John Podhoretz.

Clearly then, Trump is a special case ‒ a semantic and factual shapeshifter who seemingly channels former Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan’s quip: “I know you think you understand what you thought I said but I’m not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant.”

At the grassroots level, Jews who voted for Trump connected to him on their own particular frequency. They did not take him literally, but they did take him seriously, to paraphrase Salena Zito of The Atlantic.

This may help explain why few seem terribly upset that Trump now says he does not want to hurt Hillary Clinton after threatening to put her in jail. He no longer wants to torture captured Islamist terrorists. He may be walking back his claim that man-made global warming is a Chinese hoax. And though he spent years leading a campaign to delegitimize Barack Obama’s presidency, he says after meeting him that, actually, he “liked him a lot.”

During the campaign, he said he didn’t know enough about former KKK leader David Duke to dissociate from his support.

Having permitted ultra-right-wingers to believe that he related to them, he now says he’d never consider hiring “a racist or altright” individual in his administration. And he deplored outright a white-nationalist conference held in Washington, in November.

While intense dislike for Clinton was surely a factor, Jews who voted Trump also intuited they were helping Israel. In deciding what to do in the voting booth, foreign policy is usually not high on the list of Jewish voters’ priorities. Anyhow, most US Jews think the US-Israel relationship is good, according to the AJC survey. And, bear in mind that most American Jews have never been to Israel. It’s a safe bet that the 24% who voted Trump have visited the Jewish state and are less upbeat about the US-Israel relationship.

Nathan Diament, executive director of the Orthodox Union Advocacy Center ‒ 9% of US Jews identify as Orthodox ‒ surmises that Trump probably won a majority of Orthodox voters. His hunch is confirmed by the exit polls, which showed Trump winning 50% of the Orthodox world.

In Brooklyn’s predominantly ultra- Orthodox and staunchly pro-Israel Borough Park neighborhood, Trump won more than 68% of the ballots. By contrast, Trump did not carry Williamsburg, Brooklyn, where anti-Zionist Satmar Hasidim backed Clinton, nor did he succeed in Monroe County, home to the township of Kiryas Joel where the sect’s upstate faction is located.

To those who had qualms about Trump’s trustworthiness on Jewish concerns heading into the election, supporters pointed to his observant Jewish son-in-law, Jared Kushner, to his Jewish lawyers and associates, to his long history of doing business with Jews; and also recalled that the GOP standard-bearer was once an Israel Day Parade marshal.

And yet, Trump’s future stance on Jews and Israel can only be a matter of conjecture given that, as a private citizen, he has no policy trail.

Trump hit all the right notes in a March 2016 speech to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). He promised to move the American Embassy “to the eternal capital of the Jewish people, Jerusalem.” He pledged never to allow a peace agreement to be imposed by the United Nations. “When I become president, the days of treating Israel like a second-class citizen will end on day one,” he said.

But a month earlier, he’d told a town hall event hosted by MSNBC that he wanted to be seen as “neutral” in Mideast peace-making.

AND, BACK in December 2015, at a forum of candidates seeking the GOP nomination at the Republican Jewish Coalition, Trump implied that he didn’t know whether Israel was genuinely committed to peace. Moreover, in a December 3, 2015 interview with the Associated Press he said, “I have a real question as to whether or not both sides” want peace. He added, “A lot will have to do with Israel and whether or not Israel wants to make the deal ‒ whether or not Israel’s willing to sacrifice certain things.”

Whatever doubts they may have harbored about Trump, his Jewish supporters were convinced that Clinton and Sen. Tim Kaine ‒ especially given his close ties to J Street ‒ would lean hard on Israel. They worried a Clinton win would embolden Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry to green-light a French-initiated UN Security Council resolution that would recognize “Palestine” and compel an Israeli pullback more or less to the 1949 armistice lines.

To appreciate why 24% of the community took the anybody-but-Clinton path, it’s worth recalling how frazzled Obama left many Jews ‒ and not just hawks.

In his first 100 days, he ramped up Palestinian expectations with the appointment of the high-profile former senator George Mitchell as his Middle East envoy.

Already during his election campaign, candidate Obama had basically discarded the 1967-plus formula enunciated by president George W. Bush in his April 14, 2004 memo to premier Ariel Sharon. That communiqué had recognized “new realities on the ground,” specifically settlement blocs, and said it would be unrealistic for final status negotiations to result in a return to the armistice lines of 1949.

Less than three months after entering the White House, in March 2009, Obama demanded a West Bank and east Jerusalem settlement freeze. That obliged Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas to adopt the president’s stipulation, and so a settlement freeze became a prerequisite for negotiations. That basically resulted in the suspension of peace talks for the entire Obama administration.

Beyond Obama’s first 100 days, in June 2009 he went to Cairo and characterized the Palestinian situation as “intolerable.” He implied that Israel’s legitimacy hinged on Jewish suffering during the Holocaust rather than the Jewish bond to the Land of Israel over a span of 2,000 years.

Now, Trump’s ascendency has whiplashed the organized Jewish community. The venerable mainstream groups are frankly alarmed over Trump. The more ideological liberal groups, such as the Union of Reform Judaism, the National Council of Jewish Women, Americans for Peace Now, Jewish Women International, and J Street are in uproar.

Groups that had heretofore been marginalized feel vindicated and are crowing.

Zionist Organization of America president Mort Klein tells The New York Jewish Week he fully expects Trump will move the US Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem.

Trump’s announcement that he will nominate bankruptcy lawyer David Friedman to be his ambassador to Israel is more good news for those on the right.

Many on the US right anticipate that the Trump administration will put the “peace process” on the back burner ‒ a good thing if you view it as demanding tangible territorial concessions from Israel in exchange for ephemeral pledges from the Palestinian Arabs. Klein is ideologically close to John Bolton, the former US United Nations ambassador and a neoconservative hawk, who has been angling to be named deputy secretary of state.

Carol Greenwald, who has been active with “Jews Choose Trump” since it was founded, says she fully expects the new president to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, stop portraying Israeli communities in Judea and Samaria as illegitimate, and cease referring to the West Bank as occupied.

Greenwald is also looking for the Trump administration to tear up the Iran nuclear deal and to veto any UN resolutions that try to impose a solution on Israel.

Meanwhile, 6,000 miles away, a Dialog poll conducted for the Ruderman Family Foundation in early December showed that 83% of Israelis expect Trump to be pro-Israel.

Some 45% say there is now a chance Israel and the Palestinians will sign a peace treaty. Most of those surveyed also seemed optimistic that Trump really will move the embassy to Jerusalem. An astonishing 58% thought it was either possible or likely that Trump will scrap the Iran nuclear deal. Likewise, an Israel Democracy Institute poll found that 50% of Israelis believe Trump will favor Israel over the Palestinian Arabs, though 46% think he’ll apply pressure to both sides.

THERE IS even optimism that Trump could radically rethink the framework for solving the conflict. Prof. Hillel Frisch, speaking at a forum in November sponsored by the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies at Bar-Ilan University, argued that the incoming Trump administration presented a unique opportunity for Israel to bury the two-state solution, “which only exacerbates the conflict,” and replace it with a robust role for Jordan.

Frisch says Trump’s arrival on the scene as someone “who owes nothing to the political establishment” combined with the continued weakening of the European Union, which has been “the prime mover of the two-state solution,” presents Israel with an exceptional opening. Therefore, Trump needs to be pressed to embrace a peace plan that would give Jordan overall responsibility for security, economy and foreign affairs in the West Bank.

According to Frisch, the new administration’s window of opportunity will be flung open when the octogenarian Mahmoud Abbas leaves the scene. Jordan could then become part of any discussion over who will succeed him, and indeed what will succeed the Palestinian Authority.

Official Israel, on the other hand, has been taking a wait-and-see attitude pending Trump’s move into the White House.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (who also serves as foreign minister) has tried to rein in expectations that there will be practically no daylight between Israeli and Trump administration policies. Indeed, after Agriculture Minister Uri Ariel of the Bayit Yehudi Party wrote to Trump’s chief strategist Stephen Bannon to thank him for his support of Israel, the prime minister ordered his cabinet ministers to stop speculating about Trump.

In December 2016, Netanyahu told the dovish Saban Forum in Washington that Israel remained committed to preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons and that he was looking forward to speaking to Trump “about what to do about this bad deal.”

Alluding to his June 2009 Bar-Ilan speech and to his June 2015 address to the Herzliya Conference, Netanyahu told Chaim Saban that he remains committed to the two-state solution. In those earlier policymaking addresses, Netanyahu had said he accepted the idea of “a demilitarized Palestinian state that recognizes the Jewish State.”

Asked if he would encourage Trump ‒ who has flirted with neo-isolationism ‒ to keep the US engaged in the international arena, Netanyahu replied that would hardly be necessary.

And, indeed, in a post-election interview with The New York Times, the president- elect said, “I would love to be able to be the one that made peace with Israel and the Palestinians. I would love that; that would be such a great achievement. Because nobody’s been able to do it.”

He even suggested that Kushner could have a role in negotiating such a deal.

In “The Art of the Deal,” Trump advised deal makers to “use your leverage.” It’s hard to imagine Trump not demanding a huge quid pro quo from Israel in exchange for moving the embassy and appointing an ambassador who is unabashedly supportive of the settlement enterprise.

So this may be a case of “be careful what you wish for, lest it come true.”

Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman, leader of the Yisrael Beytenu Party, said he sees Trump’s arrival as an opportunity to revive the 1967-plus formula. For Liberman, having Trump’s support for bolstering settlement blocs may be worth sacrificing construction elsewhere in Judea and Samaria.

Whether Rex Tillerson, the chief executive of ExxonMobil and Trump’s choice for secretary of state, is open to 1967-plus is unknown.

That Tillerson comes with a strong recommendation from fellow Texan James Baker, the secretary of state under president George H.W. Bush, might raise concerns.

In 1991, Baker infamously allowed, “Fuck the Jews, they didn’t vote for us anyway.”

Tillerson also has the backing of former secretary of state Condoleezza Rice and Robert Gates, the former defense secretary.

All three are associated with firms that consult for ExxonMobil.

MEANWHILE, NETANYAHU offered Trump every platitude in a CBS “60 Minutes” interview on December 11: “I know Donald Trump. I know him very well. And I think his attitude, his support for Israel is clear. He feels very warmly about the Jewish state, about the Jewish people and about Jewish people. There’s no question about that.”

In practice, the prime minister and Liberman have signaled that the Israeli government is biding its time trying to keep expectations on an even keel until Trump and Tillerson ‒ assuming he is confirmed ‒ take office.

For progressive US Jewish leaders, a wait-and-see approach is not an option.

Rabbi Jonah Dov Pesner, director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, is worried the new administration might back away from the two-state solution. “During the campaign, President-elect Trump said he would like to use his skills as a negotiator to help find an end to the conflict. I hope that he will in accordance with the two-state principle.”

Pesner tells The Jerusalem Report that the Reform movement will also be closely watching Trump’s decisions on immigration, health care, LGBT rights, and women’s rights.

“I urge President-elect Trump to reject the xenophobia and hate that some of his supporters have championed, and seek to be a president for all the people, as he has said he wants to be.”

Over at the Anti-Defamation League, CEO Jonathan Greenblatt has been upfront in his criticism of Trump’s appointment of Breitbart News co-founder Bannon as his top White House strategist.

Regarding Israel, though, Greenblatt tells The Report he was “very hopeful” Trump and Netanyahu will work together well. “We don’t expect major initiatives in the first 100 days. And that likely is a good thing.”

With Israel’s right-wing in mind, Greenblatt does say, “We are also keeping a watchful eye on those who might see this as an opportunity to push the new president away from promoting a two-state solution, which we believe is essential to a Jewish and democratic state of Israel.”

The Orthodox Union’s Diament tells The Report he also does not anticipate any dramatic moves during the first 100 days, “unless Jared Kushner really does want to be the Middle East Envoy ‒ which I suspect he does not.” Diament does think, however, that Trump will follow through on his criticism of the Iran nuclear deal.

Everyone agrees that domestic issues will be Trump’s main focus. For Diament, the foremost domestic issue is the cost of Jewish education. During the campaign, Trump backed “school choice,” which could mean reallocating federal education dollars in a way that allows parents to choose the schools their children attend.

Diament was heartened by Trump’s nomination of Betsy DeVos, a school-choice advocate, to be his education secretary. Her policies could help financially strapped parents who want to send their youngsters to Jewish day schools.

GREENWALD OF “Jews for Trump” tells The Report she is looking for the new president to reverse the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare); appoint conservative judges to the Supreme Court; revoke “business killing regulations”; and “rein in the idiocy” at the Environmental Protection Agency regarding “unscientific theories of climate change.”

Prof. Yehudah Mirsky of the Near Eastern and Judaic Studies Department at Brandeis University tells The Report that “as with everything Trump, his sheer unpredictability means anything can happen.”

During Trump’s first 100 days, Mirsky will be looking, most of all, at how a Trump administration handles basic civil liberties, “which I think are genuinely threatened by the election of someone who campaigned like an unrepentant strongman and wouldbe fascist.”

Pesner sounds a similar alarm. “This election brought anti-Semitism, racism, xenophobia and misogyny to the foreground of American politics and it is up to all of us ‒ including the president-elect ‒ to push that hate out of the mainstream of our civic life,” he says.

But Greenwald totally discounts worries that the extreme right will hitch its wagon to a Trump presidency. They are an “infinitesimally” small factor on the American political scene, she says. “The groups I fear are the alt-left who are taking over the Democratic Party, people like Rep. Keith Ellison of Minnesota.” She says the real danger is extreme left-wing ideas seeping into the mainstream.

Given that Trump can be counted upon to be unpredictable and that he seems to respond to criticism by ferociously attacking his critics, establishment Jewish leaders will have to weigh whether to take an adversarial approach because of something he says or to keep their powder dry until his actual polices become apparent.

But Pesner argues that words do matter.

“We can only take the president-elect at his word. When he calls for increased surveillance of mosques, mass deportation of immigrants and closing the door to refugees, when he and his advisers propose a Muslim registry, we do take that seriously and we are ready to challenge those policies, if that is the path they choose to follow.”

The ADL’s Greenblatt has spoken of being ready to register as a Muslim should Muslim citizens be asked to register with the government. “Jews know what it means to be identified and tagged, to be registered and pulled aside. It evokes very deep emotions in the Jewish community,” he has said.

David Harris of the American Jewish Committee has sought to take a more measured approach, but even he is on record as saying that “singling out any ethnic or faith group to register with the government is both morally repugnant and unconstitutional.”

Owing to Trump’s semantic gyrations, it is not at all clear that he actually wants a database of all Muslims. His blurry statements include the tweet: “I didn’t suggest a database ‒ a reporter did.”

Diament advises liberal Jewish leaders to follow Obama’s lead. “He set the right tone ‒ of respect for the election’s outcome, for the office of the presidency and the American tradition of the peaceful transition of power.”

But Mirsky thinks the community should pursue a dual approach.

“On the one hand, we have to maintain very high vigilance as Trump has shown himself to be astonishingly cynical and devious, with no moral compass or boundaries.

On the other hand, rather than reflexively oppose any and every appointment and move, we should try to examine each on their merits.”

Greenblatt pledges that he will carefully observe what the new president does, offer guidance when he disagrees and speak out when necessary. He tells The Report the ADL will be focused on ensuring that Trump’s pledge to be president for all Americans is brought to fruition. The ADL chief says he wants to make sure that “the bigotry that was unleashed here in the US during the campaign will be rejected unambiguously by the president and all public figures. A great America is a respectful America,” he says.

Like many machers, Greenblatt is cognizant of the gaping divisions within the community. “We should be responsible and careful with each other; the Jewish community is very polarized right now. The divisiveness is destructive. We need to remind ourselves of our shared interests and rediscover a spirit of tolerance and respect.”

Yet, witness what happened when Malcolm Hoenlein, who has piloted the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations since 1986, co-hosted a pre-Hanukka party in early December (along with the Azerbaijani Embassy) at the newly opened Trump International Hotel not far from the White House. The choice of venue led Rabbi Rick Jacobs, president of the Union for Reform Judaism, to lash out, calling the decision “tone deaf” bordering on “naked sycophancy.”

Hoenlein appears to take such criticism in stride. His long-held dictum seems especially apt for the new Trump era: “People have to be very careful. Jewish power is like a muscle. If you exercise it right, you build it up; if you abuse it, you destroy it.” 
2) Lessons From Obama’s Failure

Republicans must sell their replacement to ObamaCare—the way the president didn’t.

ByKimberley A. Strassel

President Obama does few favors for Republicans, but he did them a parting one this week when he sojourned to Capitol Hill, where he exhorted Democrats to defend ObamaCare. The vision of the president calling on his party’s members to—yet again—lay down their political lives for his “signature” law was a reminder of how this disaster began. Only if Republicans remember that history do they have a chance of succeeding where Mr. Obama failed.

The media are already labeling the Republican strategy of “repeal and replace” a mess, obsessing over the GOP’s lack of a fully formed “replace” plan. The suggestion is that disorder and disunity reign. This is the same media that all of seven weeks ago was assuring the GOP it needn’t even bother drawing up a bill, since President Hillary Clinton would veto any changes to ObamaCare.

True enough, eight years ago congressional Republicans were clueless about health-care policy. But a great deal has changed in that time—in ideas, education and the quality of the GOP caucus. Witness Rep. (and Dr.) Tom Price, the nominee to be the next secretary of health and human services, who offered in Congress his own detailed replacement plan.

Republicans already agree on the general contours of a free-market proposal—one based on tax credits, entitlement reform, freer insurance markets, portable policies and fewer mandates. The internal debates are over scope and details, not approach.

The bigger point is that what might undo Republicans isn’t policy so much as politics. This is where they’d do well to reflect on all that President Obama did wrong. Long before ObamaCare cratered on the merits, it had failed in the court of public opinion—because of both the manner and the means by which it became law. The first test for Republican lawmakers and the Trump administration is whether they prove foolish enough to repeat those obvious mistakes.

Senior Democrats crafted ObamaCare in lobbyist-filled backrooms, forgoing hearings, markups, even input from their own colleagues—much less Republicans. It was an exercise in secrecy and control. Those now calling on the GOP to present a fait accompli “replace” plan, and to ram it through alongside repeal, are advocating essentially the same high-handed approach.

So yes, it’s imperative that Republicans move to implement a replace plan this year, while they still retain maximum political capital. But they should build in time for hearings, debates, modifications. A coalition must be built. The public needs to know that, this time, the job is being done right.

In 2009 Democrats were so convinced of their health-care righteousness, and in such a hurry, that they never bothered to sell their plan to the public. Many of them probably didn’t even know what they were meant to sell, since they hadn’t read the 2,700-page bill and, per Nancy Pelosi, were waiting to pass it to find out what was in it.

Republicans can continue repeating the message that ObamaCare is harmful and has to go. But their only real hope of getting a successful replacement is to mark out their own clearly defined policies and paint an optimistic—even exciting—picture. They need to sell part-time workers and stay-at-home moms on the upside of affordable insurance outside of a corporate workplace. They need to sell job-hopping young Americans on the ease of portable care.

This effort needs thought, consistency and overwhelming force. That’s the way to deflect the left’s growing scare campaign that Republicans intend to “Make America Sick Again.” It’s also the way to deny the media the ability to define the Republicans’ program for them. Cue that Trump Twitter account.

Seizing the initiative is also the best way for the GOP to avoid Mr. Obama’s other big mistake—jamming a bill through Congress via legislative tricks and bribes but without bipartisan support. Many pieces of a replacement plan will need 60 Senate votes. This will require doing what Mr. Obama never did: truly bringing members of the opposite party on board.

Republicans have plenty of opportunities to deploy carrots and sticks on red-state Democrats who are up for re-election in 2018. A GOP sales campaign can help make those moderates more comfortable joining up and more fearful of voter backlash if they obstruct free-market reforms. But a bipartisan coalition will require some honest give. If Republicans take the Democrats’ approach—if they are too pure to negotiate—they will fail.

A case in point this week was the proposal to reform the Office of Congressional Ethics. It was a good idea. But Republicans sprung it on the country, weren’t unified, didn’t curry Democratic support, didn’t sell it, and allowed the press to define it wrongly. The entire effort crashed in less than 48 hours.

Republicans can’t afford anything like that with ObamaCare. The good news is that they’ve watched this film before. Now is their chance to rewrite it—to turn the horror flick into a masterpiece.

2a) A Useful Trump Intelligence Shakeup

The White House intel shop can be shrunk and its staff improved.

Donald Trump may or may not be planning to reorganize the 17 separate U.S. intelligence agencies, and the mere suggestion seems to be a breach of Beltway etiquette. But the intelligence services shouldn’t be immune from a bureaucratic shakeup, especially at the White House, and we have some suggestions.

The Journal reported this week that the Trump team believes the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) has become “bloated and politicized,” though incoming White House press secretary Sean Spicer called the story “100% false.” The transition also said that Mr. Trump will nominate Dan Coats, a former Indiana Senator and political grownup, as DNI, perhaps to calm the uproar.

Mr. Trump’s opponents are portraying the reorganization as his payback to the intelligence community for concluding that Russia hacked Democrats to throw him the election, and Mr. Trump’s tweets don’t help. “The ‘Intelligence’ briefing on so-called ‘Russian hacking’ was delayed until Friday, perhaps more time needed to build a case. Very strange!” the President-elect tweeted this week, though he later called himself “a big fan!” of U.S. spooks.

This brawling is a shame because the truth is that the DNI has become the stagnant, permanent bureaucracy that critics predicted when the office was proposed in the panicked runup to the 2004 election. The 9/11 Commission identified multiple failures to coordinate activities and share information across the CIA, FBI, National Security Agency and so forth, and the commissioners lobbied for the new DNI as a maestro in the war on terror.

We argued at the time that this “furniture reshuffle” would simply “create a new layer of bureaucracy to police the old layers,” and we hoped we’d be wrong. Better intelligence integration and management is a useful goal, but Congress whipped the DNI bill though with little strategic deliberation.

The 2005 bipartisan Robb-Silberman report—on the lack of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq—usefully recommended a DNI structure akin to the Pentagon’s Joint Staff, where senior officers from the Army, Navy and other services rotate in for a tour. These jobs are seen as career enhancing and the Joint Staff gets the best and the brightest.

Instead, George W. Bush brought in John Negroponte, who ignored that good advice and built out a redundant bureaucratic monster. He hired a State Department official named Patrick Kennedy, who would gain fame in 2016 for botching the handling of Hillary Clinton’s private email server.

Mr. Kennedy proceeded to hire the same analysts who had been part of the CIA’s intelligence community staff, replicating activities that agencies like the CIA already conducted. The DNI has since often become a dumping ground for second-raters that other agencies want to ditch—with 1,750 employees.

The tao of modern bureaucracies is that when everyone is responsible for everything no one is for anything, and perhaps this explains why the DNI apparatus failed to forecast the rise of Islamic State, the Russian annexation of Crimea or the wave of domestic and international terror attacks.

If Mr. Trump and his intelligence team of Mr. Coats, Michael Flynn as National Security Adviser and Mike Pompeo at CIA hope to sweep out these catacombs, they could do worse than shrink the DNI down to a manageable size. Make the DNI a genuine coordinator and the President’s main intelligence adviser. Draw its staff from the agencies and make the posts temporary like the Pentagon Joint Staff.

Organizing the office around Robb-Silberman-style “mission managers” (for, say, Russia or Iranian nuclear weapons) would also reduce the redundancy and promote tighter institutional cooperation that could lead to better threat assessments.

Mr. Trump won’t achieve any of this by going to war with the intelligence bureaucracies. That road guarantees that he’ll lose control of his government. The smarter path would be to remove a needless layer of intelligence bureaucracy and develop clear lines of accountability.

Valerie Jarrett Says Obama's Been Scandal-Free. Here Are His Top 13.

1. Operation Fast and Furious. This egregious example of a reckless government endangering lives and then scrambling to cover it up has haunted Obama for years. As Daily Wire has explained, "Operation Fast and Furious involved the Obama administration arming drug cartels and thugs south of the border as a means to undermine the Second Amendment. The program resulted in the death of U.S. Border Patrol agent Brian Terry. One of the Islamic terrorists in the Garland, Texas, attack also used a gun that was obtained through the Fast and Furious program." ...

2. Benghazi. The terror attacks in Benghazi, Libya resulted in four brave Americans dying despite the fact that help could have been sent, but wasn't. Requests for security prior to the attack were repeatedly denied, and after the attack Obama and Hillary Clinton falsely blamed it on a video considered offensive to Muslims. During the election, Benghazi became associated with Clinton—and rightly so—but it is also Obama's scandal as well. It is still not known what Obama was doing that night.
3. The IRS targeted conservative organizations. In 2013, Lois Lerner, who directed the Internal Revenue Service's Exempt Organizations Unit, admitted that Tea Party organizations were targeted under the agency, but blamed it on lower-level employees. Such organizations were heavily scrutinized with invasive questions. Since then, Lerner and IRS commissioner John Koskinen have denied any wrongdoing and have stonewalled congressional efforts to investigate the matter, citing computer crashes for being unable to turn over related emails.
Meanwhile, a federal court concluded in August that conservative groups might still be facing targeted scrutiny from the IRS. It has also been reported that the Department of Justice (DOJ) knew about the IRS's targeting of conservative groups as early as 2011.
4. The DOJ seized Associated Press phone records as well as phone and email records from Fox News reporter James Rosen. In the AP's case, the DOJ was investigating a story involving "a CIA operation in Yemen that foiled an al-Qaeda plot in the spring of 2012 to set off a bomb on an airplane headed to the United States," according to the Washington Post. The DOJ seized two months of phone records from the AP without informing the news outlet. ...
In the Rosen case, the DOJ was investigating a story Rosen did involving North Korea and tracked "his movements and conversations," according to Fox News, including phone numbers belonging to Rosen's parents. The DOJ had listed Rosen as a "co-conspirator" under the Espionage Act in regards to the story—allegedly pressing a source for classified information. Rosen was never charged with a crime. ...
5. The NSA conducted mass surveillance against American citizens without a warrant. Thanks to leaking from former government contractor Edward Snowden, it was revealed that the National Security Agency had been conducting mass surveillance against American citizens—a clear violation of the Fourth Amendment. In 2015, the NSA eventually ended their bulk data collection of phone records.
6. The Obama administration paid ransom to Iran for hostages, and lied to the American people about it. As the Daily Wire has explained, the Obama administration claimed that they were giving a total of $1.7 billion to Iran to settle a failed arms deal with the previous Iranian regime, and it just happened to coincide with the release of four American hostages. The Obama administration also didn't reveal the details of the agreement to Congress. It was obvious though that it was a ransom deal and the Obama administration lied about it. 
7. Hillary's email scandal. Clinton's use of a private email server that was unapproved and unsecured has been written about extensively, but it is also Obama's scandal as well, since it has been revealed that not only did Obama know about her private email server, he also communicated with her under the use of a pseudonym. If their email exchanges involved classified information, then Obama also would have violated the Espionage Act.
8. The Environmental Protection Agency poisoned a Colorado river. The EPA breached the Gold King mine in the state and "mistakenly dug at the bottom" as well as didn't test for pressure, leading to "three million gallons of toxic mine waste" being dumped into a river, according to The Daily Caller. The EPA has not been held accountable for this.
9. The EPA also broke federal law in promoting a regulation. The Daily Wire reported in 2015 that the nonpartisan Government Accountability Office concluded that the EPA broke the law in using Thunderclap to tout their "Waters of the United States" regulation as well as their use of "hyperlinks to the [Natural Resources Defense Council] and Surfrider Foundation webpages provided in the EPA blog post."
10. The GSA scandal. The General Services Administration was busted in 2012 for spending $823,000 on an extravagantly decadent conference in Las Vegas, and it became a shining example of government waste. Several people in the agency were fired, with one facing an indictment. Despite the scandal, lavish spending still occurred within federal agencies under the Obama administration.
11. The Secret Service scandal. The Secret Service was caught in 2012 engaging with prostitutes during a trip to Cartegena, Columbia, with one Secret Service agent emailing another: "Swagg cologne-check/Pimp gear-check/ Swagg sunglasses-check/Cash fo dem hoes-check." They "also left sensitive government documents unprotected in their Cartagena rooms," according to The Daily Caller.
12. The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) placed veterans on secret waiting lists so agency executives could enrich themselves with bonuses. The veterans placed on these lists would languish without receiving the care they needed and around 307,000 have reportedly died as a result. Yet department executives would claim bonuses up to $400 million a year deceptively stating that waiting times had declined. The VA has yet to be held to any serious accountability and face structural reforms, and the problems the agency are ongoing.

13. The Department of Energy (DOE) fired one of their chief scientists because she advocated for a program that would divert money from Obama's Climate Action Plan. Dr. Noelle Metting, who managed the Low Dose Radiation Research Program, said that the DOE terminated her because she refused to repeat their propaganda and stated the factual results of the program instead.

"DoE placed its own priorities to further the president's Climate Action Plan before its constitutional obligations to be candid with Congress," the House Committee on Science, Space Technology stated in a report. "The DoE’s actions constitute a reckless and calculated attack on the legislative process itself, which undermines the power of Congress to legislate. The committee further concludes that DoE’s disregard for separation of powers is not limited to a small group of employees, but rather is an institutional problem that must be corrected by overhauling its management practices with respect to its relationship with the Congress."

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