Monday, May 15, 2017

OLIVIA . Adelson Versus Lauder. I Vote With Adelson. Pandering To Hatred May Rule But Is Bad Strategy. Watergate Or Wet? You Decide. Mall Agriculture Coming?.

From top to bottom and left to right:

Grandpa Martin (our son-in-law married to Debra,my number one daughter, chronologically speaking.)

Martin makes Olivia (our first great grandchild) cry. He says she was tired and hungry.

Olivia, then Debra then Elizabeth, Olivia and Elliot ( our granddaughter in law and oldest grandson.)

Olivia is now 6 months old and is going to college next year.
Adelson was one of Trump's largest contributors but is not as close to him as Lauder and thus has less influence. I suspect Lauder has taken Adelson's place when  it comes to who, between the two,  will have the most impact regarding Israel but Trump would be wiser to heed Adelson who is, admittedly, biased.

I happen to agree with Adelson. Jerusalem is Israel's capital and therefore all embassies should be located there.  I also understand the timing of making this change and recognize reality will always be a thorn for Arab nations to swallow and therefore, if their views reign supreme, relocation will never happen.  Like the Democrat's dislike of Trump, the Arabs need to suck it up regarding Jerusalem.

Constantly pandering to the prejudice of others, in the face of reality, is understandable and equally if not more so, the wrong approach over time. Doing so simply serves to prolong the infection caused by hatred based thinking.(See 1, 1a and 1b below.)
When there is no evidence of a crime it would be the height of hypocrisy and even a crime to proceed as if there is one.

The Democrats cry Watergate.  Perhaps they are so  driven by political hypocrisy they are all "wet" themselves.

Now we hear Democrats will not vote for anyone Trump nominates to head The FBI.  So much for putting the nation's interest first. It is about time these fools begin to act responsibly.  They have every right to object and offer policy alternatives but there is a difference between that and continuously throwing sand in the nation's gears simply because they are sore losers and politically infantile.

I am not ignoring the fact that Trump's presidency is all about Trump.  Having your name splattered across the globe in big letters on tall buildings is either a reflection of his narcissistic tendencies or causes him to feel compelled to be so in your face that he winds up shooting himself in his foot.
His persistent tweeting often boomerangs and not being a politician he has yet to comprehend that everything he says has an impact, is scrutinized carefully both by members of the opposition party, that wants to bring him down, as well as a liberal press that spends every waking moment figuring out how to destroy his presidency.

Conversely, it is possible he is cleverly manipulating the mass media lemmings and forcing them to focus on what he wants adding to the fact that they and the opposition party are being made to look foolish, exceedingly biased and extreme. Certainly Schumer cannot help himself and comes across as a nit picking sleazy worm needing little help from Trump..(See 2 below.)
Finally, when I visited with our son, Daniel, last week he discussed meetings he has had with start up futuristic types who are working with Carnegie Mellon in the field of agriculture.  One, in particular, is involved in raising food in buildings.  The Wall Street Journal today (Agriculture Section R1) has an article entitled "A Farm Grows in the City by Betsy McKay.)  I strongly advise you read this article.

In essence, our food, eventually, will be grown in shopping food areas in rows of shelving. Consequently, disease is reduced, misting saves water and yields are phenomenal. This is not hydroponic agriculture.

Think about this.  America has been retail overbuilt for years.  It took Amazon and a deep recession to finally bring this fact to the fore.  A possible replacement of shuttered strip malls, Sears stores etc. might be places where agriculture will be grown in the future.

Yes, the future will bring advances never dreamed of and the impact of the thrust of this article has implications even for Deere, Monsanto etc.

As for the market in general, I read where foreign stocks are cheaper and investors are leaving the U.S. and seeking overseas investment opportunities.  I have no doubt this is true .  My focus remains on seeking companies whose stock remain relatively cheap for a variety of over-reactions to negative news reasons, their dividends are relatively secure, and above the average indices, their balance sheets are strong, and where the stocks have favorable risk reward potential given time. I believe with all their current problems Qualcomm and Cisco remain buy-able along ith TEVA. Speculatively speaking maybe even sleepy old Pitney Bowes has a renewed  future. I still am willing to stick with OPKO as a sheer speculation betting on Dr. Frost and his assembled team although the bio-tech sector remains currently out of favor.

Meanwhile technology and health care remain selectively invest-able sectors.
1)Report: Adelson 'furious' over White House stalling on US embassy move

Benjamin Netanyahu has publicly disputed US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson's charge that Israel might not want the US Embassy relocated to Jerusalem at this time. Billionaire casino magnate Sheldon Adelson is reportedly "furious" by comments made by US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson after America's top diplomat appeared to waver on the US president's pledge to relocate the US Embassy in Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, according to online publication Axios Monday. 
Two sources close to the Jewish entrepreneur told the news site that Adelson was outraged with the White House's apparent shift in rhetoric surrounding the embassy issue.
Speaking in an interview aired Sunday with Chuck Todd on NBC's Meet the Press, Tillerson said the president's decision will be informed "by the parties involved" in the Middle East peace process.
"The president, I think rightly, has taken a very deliberative approach to understanding the issue itself, listening to input from all interested parties in the region, and understanding, in the context of a peace initiative, what impact would such a move have," Tillerson said.
US President Donald Trump campaigned on a promise to move the embassy, but quickly changed course after taking office, advised by Middle East allies that such an action would roil the region and undermine his efforts to jumpstart peace talks.
During the 2016 US presidential election, Adelson publicly supported Trump's bid for the White House, reportedly donating to the then-Republican candidate an estimated $25 million, according to Fox News. 
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu later publicly disputed Tillerson's charge that Israel might not want the US Embassy relocated to Jerusalem at this time.
“Israel has clearly stated its position to the US and to the world multiple times. Moving the US Embassy to Jerusalem won’t harm the peace process."
"The opposite is true. It will correct a historic injustice by advancing the [peace process] and shattering a Palestinian fantasy that Jerusalem isn’t Israel’s capital,” Netanyahu said.
While Netanyahu has publicly called for the embassy’s relocation, there is wide-ranging speculation that he has hesitated, possibly to not lose support for wider, behind-the- scenes alliances with moderate Arab states with regard to Iran.
Marc Zell, who chairs Republicans Overseas Israel, told The Jerusalem Post that the embassy has not been moved “because of a request coming from this side of the ocean.”
The Israeli government wants the embassy moved, but “it’s a question of timing,” said Zell, who just returned from Washington, where he had dinner with Vice President Mike Pence.
Meanwhile, Adelson is scheduled to appear in Israel next week to provide testimony in a corruption probe swirling around the premier. His visit will coincidentally coincide with Trump's first official state visit to the holy land since taking office, which is dated for May 22.
It is unknown if the two will meet while in the country.
Michael Wilner contributed to this report.

1a) The foolish embassy expectations game

By Jonathan S. Tobin

When President Donald Trump heads to the Middle East later this month, the world will be primarily watching closely to see if he makes any of his trademark gaffes that set off a cultural land mine in Saudi Arabia or Israel. But the more important question is whether he will use the trip to actually make policy.

The expectation is that at some point during his visit, Trump will announce the convening of a new Middle East summit. Trump appears to believe in the “outside-in” approach to peace talks, in which Arab states like Saudi Arabia would play a role in trying to encourage and even muscle the Palestinians into negotiating in good faith with Israel at a peace conference. But whether or not that dubious plan is put into action, Trump’s presence in Jerusalem is also being scrutinized for any hint that the U.S. is prepared to acknowledge his stay at the King David Hotel will be time spent in Israel’s capital.

Though Trump repeatedly pledged during the 2016 campaign he would move the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, it hasn’t happened yet. It’s still possible he could do it, perhaps even when he’s there only a day before Israel celebrates Jerusalem Day—which this year marks the 50th anniversary of the city’s reunification during the Six-Day War. But few in the know think this is going to happen.

In recent weeks, Trump has been listening to his more mainstream advisers such as Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Secretary of Defense James Mattis. This has led him to take a more realistic attitude toward NATO, Russia and the conflict in Syria. It’s also likely to mean he will heed their warnings that an embassy move would set off riots in the Muslim world rivaling those occurring in reaction to a Danish newspaper publishing cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed. That’s a price that not even a Trump may be willing to pay to keep a promise.

If so, then those pro-Israel activists who pushed hard to pin down Trump on the embassy issue last year will probably write it off as just a noble effort that failed. But by putting the question of Jerusalem’s status back on the national agenda and then failing, they will have made a mistake that could set back Israel’s cause and boost efforts to re-partition the capital.
The effort to move the embassy was once a mainstream Jewish obsession and resulted in numerous Democratic and Republican party platform pledges about recognizing the reality of a united Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. But after the promise was repeatedly broken, the pro-Israel community got the hint and stopped asking. 

Nor was it something the Israeli government was demanding. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu would be delighted if Trump were to do as he promised, but the location of the U.S. embassy ranks low on the list of the Israeli leader’s priorities. Netanyahu is far more interested in getting Trump to put pressure on the Palestinian Authority to stop inciting and paying for terrorism, and to understand its leader, Mahmoud Abbas, has neither the will nor the ability to ever make peace. Keeping Trump focused on the Iranian threat is also more important to Netanyahu than where the U.S. ambassador spends his workday.

But, like it or not, raising the stakes on the embassy could make Trump’s unremarkable decision to emulate his predecessors look like a defeat for Israel. If the president appears in Jerusalem in the very week when its reunification is being celebrated without acknowledging he rejects the longstanding legal fiction that the city is not Israeli territory, it will be perceived as a setback that might ensure the embassy is never moved.

This will be more than just bad PR for Israel. The world’s refusal to accept that even the parts of the city that were inside the 1967 lines make up Israel’s capital is more than an annoyance. It lends undeserved credence to the Palestinian propaganda campaign to deny the city’s Jewish heritage. It’s also an essential element of a dogma impelling the Palestinians to refuse to recognize the legitimacy of a Jewish state no matter where its borders are drawn. That’s why Israel’s friends are correct to want the U.S. to make a statement that the days of ignoring Palestinian intransigence and hatred are over.

But sometimes tactics are as important as strategy. Right now, what friends of Israel need the most is for Trump to understand the truth about Abbas and his Hamas rivals’ refusal to make peace. Yet by raising expectations about the embassy that are bound to be disappointed, they may hand Israel’s foes an unearned and tragically important victory.

Jonathan S. Tobin is opinion editor of and a contributing writer for National Review. Follow him on Twitter at: @jonathans_tobin.

1b) Russia Recognizes Jerusalem as Israel’s Capital. Why Can’t the U.S.?

Trump must soon decide whether to move the embassy. Doing so would help promote peace.

By Eugene Kontorovich

President Trump’s visit to Israel next week is expected to lead to some announcement about his Jerusalem policy. The trip will coincide with celebrations of the 50th anniversary of the city’s reunification after the Six Day War. Only days after the visit, the president will have to decide between waiving an act of Congress or letting it take effect and moving the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv—as he promised last year to do if elected.
Jerusalem is the only world capital whose status is denied by the international community. To change that, in 1995 Congress passed the Jerusalem Embassy Act, which mandates moving the U.S. Embassy to a “unified” Jerusalem. The law has been held in abeyance due to semiannual presidential waivers for “national security” reasons. President Obama’s final waiver will expire June 1.
There’s no good reason to maintain the charade that Jerusalem is not Israeli, and every reason for Mr. Trump to honor his campaign promise. The main arguments against moving the embassy—embraced by the foreign-policy establishment—is that it would lead to terrorism against American targets and undermine U.S. diplomacy. But the basis of those warnings has been undermined by the massive changes in the region since 1995.
While the Palestinian issue was once at the forefront of Arab politics, today Israel’s neighbors are preoccupied with a nuclear Iran and radical Islamic groups. For the Sunni Arab states, the Trump administration’s harder line against Iran is far more important than Jerusalem. To be sure, a decision to move the embassy could serve as a pretext for attacks by groups like al Qaeda. But they are already fully motivated against the U.S.
Another oft-heard admonition is that America would be going out on a limb if it “unilaterally” recognized Jerusalem when no other country did. An extraordinary recent development has rendered that warning moot. Last month Russia suddenly announced that it recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
Note what happened next: No explosions of anger at the Arab world. No end to Russia’s diplomatic role in the Middle East. No terror attacks against Russian targets. Moscow’s dramatic Jerusalem reversal has largely been ignored by the foreign-policy establishment because it disproves their predictions of mayhem.
To be sure, Russia limited its recognition to “western Jerusalem.” Even so, it shifted the parameters of the discussion. Recognizing west Jerusalem as Israeli is now the position of a staunchly pro-Palestinian power. To maintain the distinctive U.S. role in Middle East diplomacy—and to do something historic—Mr. Trump must go further. Does the U.S. want to wind up with a less pro-Israel position than Vladimir Putin’s ?
The American response to real attacks against U.S. embassies has always been to send a clear message of strength. After the 1998 al Qaeda bombings of U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, Washington did not shut down those missions. Instead it invested in heavily fortified new facilities—and in hunting down the perpetrators.
Moving the embassy to Jerusalem would also improve the prospect of peace between Israel and the Palestinians. It would end the perverse dynamic that has prevented such negotiations from succeeding: Every time the Palestinians say “no” to an offer, the international community demands a better deal on their behalf. No wonder no resolution has been reached. Only last week, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas insisted that new negotiations “start” with the generous offer made by Israel’s Prime Minister Ehud Olmert in 2008. Relocating the embassy would demonstrate to the Palestinian Authority that rejectionism has costs.
If Mr. Trump nonetheless signs the waiver, he could do two things to maintain his credibility in the peace process. First, formally recognize Jerusalem—the whole city—as the capital of Israel, and reflect that status in official documents. Second, make clear that unless the Palestinians get serious about peace within six months, his first waiver will be his last. He should set concrete benchmarks for the Palestinians to demonstrate their commitment to negotiations. These would include ending their campaign against Israel in international organizations and cutting off payments to terrorists and their relatives.
This is Mr. Trump’s moment to show strength. It cannot be American policy to choose to recognize a capital, or not, based on how terrorists will react—especially when they likely won’t.
Mr. Kontorovich is a department head at the Kohelet Policy Forum and a law professor at Northwestern University.

What Crime Would a ‘Special Prosecutor’ Prosecute? 

“We know Director Comey was leading an investigation in [sic] whether the Trump campaign colluded with the Russians, a serious offense.” So inveighed Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer (D. N.Y.), according to a report by PJ Media’s Bridget Johnson. Senator Schumer added, “If there was ever a time when circumstances warranted a special prosecutor, it is now.”

No, it’s not.

Readers of these columns will recall that I am a naysayer on the constitutional chimera interchangeably called a “special prosecutor” or an “independent counsel.” I won’t rehash all the arguments yet again. Suffice it to say there is no such thing as a prosecutor who exercises prosecutorial power independent of the executive branch. Were the Trump administration to cave in to media-Democrat pressure and appoint a “special prosecutor,” that lawyer would be chosen by the Trump Justice Department and answer to the president.

As night follows day, the next line of politicized attack would be that President Trump had
rigged the investigation by choosing a crony to make the scandal disappear.

Special prosecutors notoriously guarantee a number of headaches for an administration. Unlike other prosecutors' offices, they do not have to limit the resources devoted to a single case because of other enforcement needs. Their investigations inevitably metastasize far beyond the original inquiry because there is no supervisor to keep them focused on the subject matter and ensure that the investigation is completed in a reasonable time. The arrangement is a perverse assignment of a prosecutor to a single target (or set of targets) with a mandate to make a case against him – whatever case can be made, however long it takes. Because political cases have a high public profile, and the special prosecutor would inevitably be accused of a whitewash if he decides an indictment is not warranted, there is unusually great pressure to file some charge – even if it is a “process crime” (i.e., an offense, such as making false statements to investigators, that relates not to the conduct that was under investigation but to obstruction of the investigation itself).

Just as important, special prosecutors severely degrade an administration’s capacity to govern. They paralyze officials, pitting them against each other when they should be cooperating on the president’s agenda. They divert time, energy, and resources away from the conduct of official responsibilities so that the prosecutor’s investigative demands can be answered.

The only upside an administration supposedly gets in exchange for bearing these debilitating burdens is that appointing a special prosecutor signals to the public that the administration is not afraid of an “independent” investigation. But if the president is going to be accused of rigging the investigation anyway, what’s the point?

Let’s put all that aside for a moment, though. If we’re already talking about a special prosecutor, it means we have ignored what is supposed to be a rudimentary requirement: the crime.

You don’t need a prosecutor unless you first have a crime.
If the point of the exercise is to explore threats posed by Russia, that’s not a job for a prosecutor; it is a job for the president, the intelligence agencies, and Congress. We have prosecutors to prosecute crime; absent crime, there is no place for them. And special prosecutors only come into the picture when the suspects are people (generally, executive branch officials) as to whom the Justice Department has a conflict of interest. But those suspects must be suspects in a crime – not just in some untoward or sleazy form of behavior.

So what is the crime? What is the federal criminal offense that could be proved in a court of law under governing law and evidentiary rules?

“Collusion” – the word so tirelessly invoked – is not a crime. It is used pejoratively, but it is just a word to describe concerted activity. Concerted activity can be (and usually is) completely legal. Lots of unsavory activity in which people jointly participate is legal, even if we frown on it. In order to be illegal, concerted activity must rise to the level of conspiracy.
A conspiracy is an agreement to commit a crime. Not to do something indecorous or slimey; it must be something that is actually against the law, something that violates a penal statute. In the crim-law biz, the crime that conspirators agree to try to accomplish is known as “the object of the conspiracy.” If the object is not against the law, there is no conspiracy – no matter how much “collusion” there is.

So, in the ballyhooed “Russia investigation,” what is the object of the purported conspiracy? Notice that although Senator Schumer casually asserts that “a serious offense” has been committed, he does not tell us what that offense is.
That’s because there isn’t one.

Sorry to be the downer at the pep rally, but it is simply not a federal crime for a foreign country to intrude on an American election by spreading information or misleading propaganda that favors one candidate or damages another. To draw an analogy, it is shameful for the American media systematically to scald Republicans while carrying the Democrats’ water; but there is nothing illegal about it.

Historically, countries have sought to influence American elections. That’s not spoken of much these days because the “international community” tends to favor Democrats, and Democrats are happy to have the help. In the Soviet days, it was Democrats in collusion with Russia to undermine Ronald Reagan – and no one in the media seemed perturbed by it.

Meddling in other countries’ elections (usually, while sniffing about how unseemly it would be to meddle in other countries’ elections) is what major countries do. It is certainly what the United States did during the prior administration: President Obama meddled in Israeli elections, the Brexit referendum, the Italian referendum, etc. He is apparently a compulsive meddler: He kicked off his post-presidential career by stumping for Emmanuel Macron in the French election.

This sort of thing is high-stakes politics, but it is routine. That’s why foreign subterfuge was one of the Framers’ chief concerns – which explains why the Constitution, for example, requires the president to be a “natural born citizen.”

There is little doubt that a president found to have schemed with a foreign country to corrupt American election processes could be impeached. But as I explained at length in Faithless Execution, impeachment is a political process to remove power; it is not a legal process in the nature of a criminal prosecution. An impeachable offense is a breach of the public trust, not necessarily a crime prosecutable in court. There is no indication that Donald Trump schemed with Russia to corrupt the election process. If ever there were evidence that some president had done such a thing, though, you would not need a prosecutor. You would need Congress to commence impeachment hearings.

Another hurdle is worth mentioning. Have you ever noticed that there are few federal prosecutions for crimes related to elections? That’s because elections are generally the purview of the states, even when federal offices are at stake. There are exceptions – e.g., intimidation or bribery of voters, the adoption by states of voter qualification practices that arguably violate federal civil rights laws, etc. By and large, though, it is the states that conduct and regulate elections. (See, e.g., the state of New York’s extensive corpus of election law). In fact, it is often observed that we do not have a national election for president; we have 50 state elections.

There simply is not much in the way of federal criminal law applicable to alleged “meddling” in elections. Given that Russia’s meddling did not involve preventing people from exercising the franchise or tampering with the voting process, why would we need a prosecutor?
It is not a criminal offense to encourage or assist a foreign country to take actions that might influence an election. To be sure, if the actions in question were illegal, and the encouragement or assistance in question were hands-on enough to qualify as real participation in the illegality (e.g., not mere cheerleading but actual aiding and abetting), you might have a criminal conspiracy to commit those actions.

So what illegal actions arose out of Russia’s shenanigans? The only apparent one was hacking. There is no basis to believe the Trump campaign had any involvement in that. In fact, the FBI, CIA and NSA say the Russians targeted both major political parties in their “cyber operations.” Based on what the government has told us, then, there is some basis to suspect that Trump was a potential hacking target, but none to suspect that anyone in his campaign was a hacking conspirator.

Moreover, there is good reason to doubt that a prosecutor could prove the hacking case even against Russia, never mind against others.

I take it as a given that our intel agencies are correct in concluding that (a) “Russian intelligence services conducted cyber operations against targets associated with the 2016 US presidential election”; and (b) that Russia’s military intelligence service “used the Guccifer 2.0 persona and to release US victim data … publicly and in exclusives to media outlets and relayed material to WikiLeaks.” In their report, however, the intel agencies explain that they are not able to reveal publicly how they know what they say they know; doing so would compromise “sensitive sources or methods and imperil the ability to collect critical foreign intelligence in the future.”

Consequently, the hacking presents two problems for a prosecutor, problems of the kind that recur in national security cases.

First, intelligence agency conclusions are not based on the “beyond a reasonable doubt” standard of proof that applies in criminal prosecutions. Intelligence analysis is very different from law-enforcement in this regard. Intelligence deals in probabilities and relies heavily on information that would be inadmissible under courtroom rules of evidence. In addition, intelligence analysis has no presumption of innocence. If the FBI suspects that you, John Q. Citizen, have committed a crime, the Bureau’s criminal investigators know they must overcome the hurdle that the judge will tell the jury you are innocent unless they can convincingly prove otherwise. But the FBI’s intelligence agents never presume that Vladimir Putin is innocent.

Second, even if there exists proof that would satisfy the demanding “beyond a reasonable doubt” standard, such evidence may not be usable in court. Exposing it might, for example, blow a critical intelligence-collection program; or if the information was provided by a foreign intelligence service, it might have been shared with the U.S. subject to a non-disclosure agreement. Thus, even if our intelligence agencies are right that Russia is the hacker – again, I assume they are – there may not be sufficient courtroom evidence to prove that they are right.

So on the face of things, there is only one known crime (hacking), there is no evidence of participation in it by President Trump or his campaign, and it may not even be provable against the country our intelligence agencies believe committed it, much less against lesser and non-culpable players. This, undoubtedly, is why the FBI, which has been looking at this matter for over 10 months, has been investigating it as a counterintelligence matter, not a criminal matter.

It is highly unlikely that the hacking had any material impact on the election – Democrats claimed for a year-and-a-half that Mrs. Clinton’s own potentially criminal emails were not a problem; how could a comparatively few merely embarrassing emails of the more obscure John Podesta have been a problem? In any event, whatever activities people of various connections to Trump may have been “colluding” in with Russia over the years, they are either not criminal or not relevant to the election – or both.

Unquestionably, Russia’s perfidy should be aggressively investigated. There should be accountability regarding any American who participated in it (and any American official who may have exploited the amorphous Russia counterintelligence investigation as a pretext to conduct political spying on the opposition party). But these are not criminal transactions fit for courtroom prosecution; they are national security matters fit for counterintelligence and congressional inquiries.

So why, then, do Democrats want a special prosecutor? Because the appointment of one would presume the existence of the thing they have not been able to demonstrate, namely: that a crime has been committed. They would be able to argue, à la Watergate, “We already know someone in the administration belongs in jail – otherwise, why would we have this prosecutor?”

That is not the way it’s supposed to work. An investigation by a prosecutor is triggered by a good-faith belief that a prosecutable crime has been committed. Prosecutors are not supposed to be assigned in order to investigate (and investigate … and investigate …) whether there is a good faith basis to investigate. The surgeon does not start cutting until we know the patient needs surgery.

When Democrats and the media echo chamber demand the appointment of a special prosecutor, the reply should be: To prosecute what crime? “Collusion” is not an answer to that question; and if the question cannot be answered, that should be the end of the conversation.

No comments: