Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Obama, The Media and The Intelligence Community Versus Flynn. Truth Like Clorox - A Needed/Worthy Disinfectant.

'To anger a conservative, tell him a lie.  To anger a liberal, tell him the truth.'


The White House leaks like a sieve.  Trump has to get rid of all the Obama holdovers.  Flynn was not liked by the intelligence community. Nevertheless, he still should have been straight with Pence.

The media and the Obama supporters within the intelligence community wanted to destroy Flynn for his persistent and open attacks on The Iran Deal.  

Like a bone the anti-Flynn dogs will keep gnawing.

There is no more dangerous place than D.C. Character assassination lingers, murder ends  Chicago look like a playpen by comparison. (See 1 below.)
Background for Bibi's talks with Trump. (See 2 below.)

Can truth conquer the various false perceptions and rhetoric?

Personally speaking I believe relocating The American Embassy in Jerusalem will bring about more Israeli bloodshed which would be tragic.  However, it would also reveal the truth about Palestinian intentions and make their case for support more difficult if not morally impossible.

Truth, like Clorox, is revealing and disinfecting. It is time to quit protecting and financing Abbas, The PLO and The U.N.  Allow truth to take its course. (See 2a below.)
In anticipation of his address on Tuesday, Febrary 21, at The Plantation Club, I had an interesting chat with Elliott Abrams yesterday. It is not too late to sign up and attend (Dick Miller 598 5049.)  I assure you it will be an insightful, informative and interesting evening. See 3 below.)

1)The Flynn Affair: Hoping for Addition by Subtraction
It is a disaster, but if Flynn’s exit means the administration is finding its legs, it will ultimately be helpful.
By Jonathan S. Tobin 
If anybody in the White House thought General Michael Flynn’s resignation would end the controversy about his conduct, they were wrong. The morning after Flynn finally fell on his sword after days of growing controversy over his alleged conversations with the Russian ambassador prior to Trump’s inauguration, the cable news networks were still holding onto the story for dear life. With a relish that betrayed their relief at finally landing the scalp of a Trump appointee, the president’s Democratic foes and media critics were still pressing for an investigation into Flynn’s conduct and continually posing the Nixonian question about what Trump knew and when did he know it.

The problem here isn’t that there is something unusual, let alone criminal, in an incoming National Security Advisor speaking with a foreign diplomat, as it is being represented in most accounts of Flynn’s conduct. The danger to the administration is that the discussion about Flynn resurrects the charge that Russia helped steal the election for Trump and that somehow the former general and/or others in the West Wing and/or the president himself are compromised by some association with the Vladimir Putin regime.
The notion that Trump’s Electoral College victory was the result of Russian spying is patently absurd, but this talking point has been kept alive by the president’s obvious tilt toward Moscow. Those accusations are a canard, but if Trump’s top national-security aide counseled the Russians to keep their powder dry in December when the Obama administration was enacting sanctions against them, it will justify outrage while reminding us of Trump’s puzzling soft spot for Putin. It’s also problematic because Russia is the one issue on which Trump can count on little or no support from congressional Republicans.

If Trump wants this story to go away he’s going to have to do more than complain on Twitter about the intelligence establishment taking down Flynn, even if their leaks really were illegal and proof that some of the country’s intelligence professionals were determined to take down Flynn. For one, he will need to be more candid about his administration’s contacts with the Russians. He will also have to credibly demonstrate that while his view of Moscow may be more favorable than that of most foreign-policy professionals or other Republicans, he will tolerate no conduct that compromises U.S. interests.

But if we assume that there is nothing more at the bottom of this dispute than Flynn’s freelancing and lying to Vice President Pence, this fiasco has also exposed the dysfunctional nature of the administration’s first weeks. Less than a month after settling into their offices, it appears the palace intrigue in the West Wing is already at fever pitch. But whether you want to blame Reince Priebus or Steve Bannon — and the Breitbart story slamming Priebus as an incompetent indicates that the Bannon’s supporters, at least, are already playing hardball — or even the now departed Flynn, there’s little question that Trump needs to restore order in the White House staff and ensure it is working together to further his policy aims.

If Trump is ready to draw these conclusions from a mini-scandal that forced the departure of a national-security advisor in record time, then it is the best thing that could happen to him, especially this early in his term. Flynn may have been a loyal supporter and his views on some issues, such as Iran, may have been more sensible than that of many supposedly wiser observers. But now is exactly the time when Trump should be evaluating which of his aides have the good sense to keep the administration operating with minimal controversy. The president may wish to instill fear and create chaos among his foes and the dreaded establishment he despises, but if there is chaos in the West Wing, it will make it impossible for him to govern.

So long as the argument about Russia is rooted in policy differences rather than genuine wrongdoing, the Flynn controversy will eventually fade away. But if the West Wing civil war continues in this manner the only real loser will be Trump.

The president will never entirely convince his political foes that he is not either a would-be dictator or Putin’s stooge. But if he is as smart as he thinks he is, he will treat this early setback as a warning of the dangers of a poorly managed White House and National Security staff rather than just more fodder for his complaints about being treated unfairly. Trump is going to need more addition by subtraction as competent professionals start replacing campaign aides and faithful followers. Should he fail to understand the consequences of failing to correct his ship, the fault won’t belong to Priebus or Bannon or the media but to the president.

— Jonathan S. Tobin is a contributor to National Review Online.
2) Israeli PM seeks 'no gaps' with Trump ahead of White House talks
Author(s):  Luke Baker 
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, preparing for his first meeting with President Donald Trump at the White House, will work with advisers on Tuesday to align Israeli and U.S. thinking on the Middle East and ensure “no gaps” remain.

Staff has cleared most of Tuesday for discussions with Israel's ambassador to the United States, Ron Dermer, and other senior advisers ahead of Wednesday's Oval Office meeting. The only event of the day is an evening meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.
“There isn't going to be any daylight, no gaps,” one adviser said as the prime minister left for Washington, the first time Netanyahu, the head of a right-wing coalition, has overlapped with a Republican in the White House in four terms in office.
Those reassurances came as Netanyahu took a cautious line on whether he would support a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the bedrock of U.S. diplomacy for two decades, when he sits down with Trump.
During the presidential campaign, Trump was often unabashedly pro-Israel, promising to move the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, backing David Friedman, a supporter of settlements, as his envoy to Israel, and saying that he wouldn't apply pressure for talks with the Palestinians.
But in the three-and-a-half weeks since taking office, positions have shifted. The embassy transfer has been put on hold as the fallout from such a move, not least the potential for unrest across the Middle East, has been explained, including by Jordan's King Abdullah during an impromptu visit.
When it comes to settlements, Trump has laid out a more nuanced position, saying that while he does not see them as an obstacle to peace, building new ones or expanding existing ones beyond their current boundaries is “not good”.
And rather than no pressure for peace talks, Trump has said he wants to have a go at the “ultimate deal”. In an interview with newspaper Israel Hayom last week, he urged Israel to act “reasonably” in the Middle East peace process.
For Netanyahu, under investigation at home in two criminal cases involving allegations of abuse of office, ensuring he and Trump are in lockstep is critical to putting the friction of the Obama administration behind him and laying the ground for a more fruitful relationship with the United States.
At a time when the Middle East is in turmoil and Palestinian politics is fractured by long-standing divisions between the Western-backed Fatah party and the Islamist group Hamas, Israeli officials argue that the time is not ripe for peace.
But while Netanyahu has announced plans for 6,000 more settlement homes, he is also uneasy about pressure from the far-right in his coalition for more dramatic steps, such as the annexation of parts of the West Bank, which the Palestinians want for their own state together with Gaza and East Jerusalem, or the rejection of a Palestinian state altogether.
Netanyahu's task during the scheduled two-hour meeting with Trump will be to find common ground on both the settlements issue and the prospects for a two-state solution to the conflict: Israel and a Palestine side by side and at peace.
The prime minister committed to the two-state goal in 2009 and has reiterated the position since. But on Monday, a senior minister in his cabinet said no ministers, foremost Netanyahu, truly believed in the emergence of a Palestinian state.
Officials with Netanyahu declined to comment on the remark. But Netanyahu has spoken of a “state minus”, something short of full sovereignty for the Palestinians. It was unclear if the contours of that idea would be discussed with Trump.
As well as Palestinian issues, the two leaders will discuss regional stability and the threat from Iran, with both intent on re-examining and strengthening the nuclear deal with Tehran.
“The alliance between Israel and America has always been extremely strong and it's about to get even stronger,” Netanyahu said as he prepared to leave Israel on Monday.
“Donald Trump and I see eye-to-eye on the dangers emanating from the region but also on the opportunities. We'll talk about both as well as upgrading the relations between Israel and the United States in many, many fields.”
Aside from Trump and Tillerson, Netanyahu will meet Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, House Speaker Paul Ryan and Vice President Mike Pence during the Feb. 13-16 visit.
Writing by Luke Baker; Editing by Mary Milliken


A Step Toward Mideast Peace: Tell the Truth

Netanyahu’s Washington visit is an opportunity to debunk pernicious falsehoods about Israel.

By Max Singer

Donald Trump ran for president pledging to throw off political correctness and tell bold truths. That’s something to keep in mind this week. On Wednesday Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will visit the White House. Thursday will bring Senate confirmation hearings for David Friedman, Mr. Trump’s nominee for ambassador to the Jewish state. Both events offer an opportunity for the fearless truth-telling that Mr. Trump promised.

The U.S. has long favored Israel, even during the relative chill of the Obama administration. Washington has nevertheless parroted or passively accepted the conventional falsehoods about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. If Mr. Trump wants to advance the possibility of peace, he should begin by challenging the five big untruths that sustain the anti-Israel consensus:

• Israel occupies “Palestinian territory.” This is nonsensical: There never has been a Palestinian government that could hold any territory, meaning Israel could not have taken “Palestinian land.” Quite possibly large parts of the West Bank should become Palestinian territory, but that is a different claim.

The Trump administration should always describe the West Bank as “disputed” land and speak against the phrase “Palestinian territory”—except when used in the future tense. It should also recognize that Israel came to the territory it holds not only during a defensive war but also through historical and legal claims, including the 1922 League of Nations mandate to establish a Jewish homeland.

 Millions of Palestinian “refugees” have a “right of return” to Israel. The standard international view is that Israel has prevented five million Palestinians, many living in “refugee camps,” from returning to their homes. But practically none of these people are refugees as normally defined; rather they are the descendants of refugees. The Arab world has kept them in misery for three generations to preserve their plight as a weapon against Israel.

The U.S. has failed to challenge this false narrative. It is the principal financial supporter of UNRWA—the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East—whose sole purpose is to provide for the basic needs of these perpetual “refugees.”

Privately, American diplomats understand that the normal description of Palestinian “refugees” is a fraud and that these descendants have no legal “right of return.” A first step to peace, then, would be to end the charade and begin to dismantle UNRWA. The Trump administration might also mention the estimated 800,000 Jewish refugees who, in the late 1940s and early ’50s, were thrown out of the Arab countries where they had been living for millennia. Most of them settled in an impoverished, newborn Israel without international assistance.

• Israelis and Palestinians have comparable claims to Jerusalem. This is the best example of the false “even handedness” that has long characterized American policy—saying, for instance, that “Jerusalem is sacred to both religions.” Although the city’s Al Aqsa mosque is significant in Islam, Jerusalem itself has essentially no religious importance. It is not mentioned in the Quran or in Muslim prayers. It was never the capital of any Islamic empire.

Peace requires recognizing three things: that Jerusalem must remain the capital of Israel; that the city’s religious sites must be protected and free, as they have been only under the Jewish state; and that any provision for a Palestinian capital must not threaten the city’s peaceful unity. A bold truth-teller would also move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem, despite the threats of a violent response, and would allow the passports of American citizens born in the capital to record that they were born in Israel.

• There was no ancient Jewish presence in Israel. Palestinian leaders insist that this is true, and that the historical Jewish temples were not actually located on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. This feeds their claim that the Jews came to Israel as foreign colonialists imposed by the Europeans after the Holocaust.

This falsehood can be sustained only because it is politely tolerated by the U.S. and Europe—and sometimes supported by U.N. agencies like Unesco. It works against the possibility of peace by denying the Palestinians a moral basis for negotiating with Israel. The Trump administration should contradict these absurd denials of history so often that Palestinian leaders begin to look foolish to their own people.

• The Palestinians are ready to accept a “two-state solution” to end the conflict. The U.S. has a tendency to assume that Palestinian leaders are ready to accept Israel if suitable concessions are offered. The Trump administration ought to ask: What is the evidence for this? When did the Palestinians give up their long-term commitment to destroy Israel, and which leaders backed such a dramatic change? Undoubtedly, many Palestinians are willing and even eager for peace. Yet it is still taboo in Palestinian debate to publicly suggest accepting Israel’s legitimacy or renouncing the claims of the “refugees.”

Washington is practiced at superficial even handedness, always issuing parallel-seeming statements about both sides. What the Trump administration can bring is genuine even handedness: respecting each side’s truths and rejecting each side’s falsehoods, even when this leads to a position that seems “unbalanced.”
Israel, too, should move toward a strategy of truth-telling and stop appeasing the false international consensus. It ought to make its case defiantly to the world. Israel can be ready and willing to make concessions for peace without pretending that today there are any terms on which the Palestinians are willing to agree. The Israelis should continue to help the Palestinian economy but not refrain from publicizing the ways that Palestinians sabotage the effort and undermine their own welfare.

Even in a conflict as fraught as this one, there remain underlying truths—and American policy in the Middle East will benefit from telling more of them.

Mr. Singer, a founder of the Hudson Institute, is a senior fellow at the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies at Bar-Ilan University in Israel.

3) Abrams points to Bannon as the reason he was nixed for State job

By Eli Watkins

Senior Fellow for Middle Eastern studies at the council on Foreign Relations Elliott Abrams testifies before the House Foreign Affairs Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, February 9, 2011 on the recent developments in Egypt and Lebanon.

Washington (CNN)Elliott Abrams said Monday he guesses a certain top
White House adviser's opposition to him is the reason President Donald 
Trump rejected him for a top State Department position.
"The only person on the White House staff that I know was opposed to my
being hired was Steve Bannon so that's my guess. It's a guess," Abrams said,
referring to White House chief strategist Steve Bannon.
Abrams described his meeting with Trump and Secretary of State Rex
Tillerson, and his failure to gain the approval of a President who he had
publicly criticized in the lead up to the election in an interview with CNN's Erin
Burnett on "OutFront."
    "The meeting was fine," Abrams said. "(Trump) didn't say, 'Why did you say
     those mean things about me.' We talked foreign policy

    He said Trump told him Tillerson wanted him for the post, and when 
    the meeting was over, he assumed everything was fine. But then he found out 

    Trump had rejected him.
    "Somebody, I think, put in front of the President, some of the things I'd said
    last year and perhaps riled him up," Abrams said.
    Abrams was a former official under President Ronald Reagan. He pleaded
    guilty to misdemeanors stemming from the Iran-Contra affair and was
    pardoned by President George H.W. Bush. He went on to serve as deputy
    national security adviser for President George W. Bush, where he advocated
    for the Iraq War.
    Given Abrams' past experiences and positions, he may have found himself
    strongly at odds with the Trump White House. The President made opposition
    to major foreign interventions a mainstay of his campaign and Bannon has a
    documented opposition to neoconservatives like Abrams.
    Despite the potential ideological gap, Tillerson apparently wanted the
    seasoned Republican foreign policy hand to serve as his No. 2 in the State
    Department. Like Trump, Tillerson has no prior experience in government.
    Sources told CNN that Abrams' failure to secure a prominent spot in the
    administration was due to his past criticisms of the man who now occupies
    the Oval Office.
    In May, Abrams wrote in the neoconservative Weekly Standard that Trump
    was "someone who cannot win and should not be president of the United

    What he says it means

    Abrams said the hour-long meeting was not the job interview or potential
    "inquisition" he thought he might have had in store. Instead he said it was a
    discussion on the foreign policy issues of the day, like the visit from Japanese
    Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and an upcoming call with Chinese President Xi
    Jinping, with Tillerson doing most of the talking.
    "It was as if I had been invited to a Tillerson-Trump meeting," Abrams said.
    The former Reagan and Bush official said he walked into the meeting
    prepared to discuss his past criticism of Trump, but that he guessed Trump
    was not aware of it at the time.
    Abrams said Trump's decision not to allow a critic into his administration was
    a "huge mistake."
    "You have literally hundreds of qualified, experienced Republicans ready,
    willing and able to serve. And he's saying, 'stay out.' So it's going to be really
    hard to govern," Abrams said.
    The one-time critic said he wanted to serve, saying both he and Tillerson
    thought he could have helped and that he wants the President to succeed. He
    also said Trump could succeed even in the face of past comments that Trump
    should never have the presidency.
    "I just think it's really destructive for the President to go back to the primary
    season, and say, 'People who said tough things about me can't come into the administration,'" Abrams said. "He's hurting himself."
    CNN's Jamie Gangel and Elise Labott contributed to this report.

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