Tuesday, May 30, 2017

New York and the Jewish Political War in Washington

 For better or worse, I see much of the dispute between Trump and the media as Jews versus gentiles, and Democratic Jews versus Republican Jews.  Clearly Jews are not unified.  There is AIPAC and J-Street.  Bernie Sanders, a Jew, versus the Jewish establishment that backed Hillary Clinton.  Jews in Trump’s camp -- Jared Kushner, Gary Cohn, Steve Mnuchin, and a number of others -- versus the Democratic Party establishment Jews -- Chuck Schumer, Dianne Feinstein, Adam Schiff, David Axelrod, Raum Emanuel, Al Franken, Sidney Blumenthal, Tony Blinken and many others, but not including Bernie Sanders.  Two Secretaries of State claimed not to know they were Jewish, but were the children of Jewish parents, Madeleine Albright and John Kerry.  In addition to politicians, the media is very Jewish.  The New York Times is owned by Jews and has a number of Jewish reporters.  Many TV network executives are Jewish, and many of the talking heads on TV are Jewish, particularly on CNN and MSNBC, the channels  most overtly leaning toward the Democratic Party. Jewish talking heads who appear as fixtures on TV include Andrea Mitchell, Richard Haass, Wolf Blitzer, Jake Tapper, Gloria Borger, Dana Bash, Richard Engel,  Of course, Jews are very successful financially.  A high percentage of the richest people in the United States are Jewish, including Mark Zuckerberg, Larry Ellison, and Michael Bloomberg.  Five of the ten richest people in the US are Jewish according to Forbes.  Jews are also influential in science and the arts, winning many Nobel prizes and literary awards.   

There is a reason Jews are so successful in the US; they are smart and they work hard.  They have put New York at the forefront of much of America’s intellectual life.  The New York Times earned its reputation as the paper of record.  The New Yorker, currently edited by David Remnick, who is Jewish, has published many of the best American writers, I read the New York Times, the New Yorker magazine, the New York Review of Books also filled with many Jewish writers, New York magazine, the Wall Street Journal, and probably some other publications strongly tied to New York and Jewish intellectuals, like the Atlantic, edited by the Jewish Jeffrey Goldberg. I love Woody Allen’s very Jewish movies, although I prefer the ones in which he is not the main character, like Midnight in Paris.  But I also like Manhattan, a love poem to his favorite city, which he portrayed as being very Jewish.  

In the last day or so, the Democratic Jews led by Jewish Congressman Adam Schiff have pulled more and more of Trump’s Jews into their gunsights  It’s Jew on Jew revealing bitter internecine hatred. It must be a bloodbath in Washington synagogues. The Democratic Jews are not just trying to destroy fellow Jew Jared Kushner any more, they have added what appears to be more Jews tied to Trump, threatening to subpoena Trump’s lawyer, Michael Cohen, and  Boris Epshteyn, another Trump associate, according to the New York Times.    

Another viewpoint is that there is nothing racial between the Trumps and the Jews.  The Democratic Jews just go after anybody connected to Trump, whether they are Jews or not.  If that is the case, it just points out the preponderance of Jews in our political system.  They are leading the fight on both the Democratic and Republican sides.  In addition you have Bernie Sanders leading a big section of the Democratic party that opposes the mainstream Democratic party.  Meanwhile the mainstream Democratic Jews almost in their entirety supported Hillary Clinton for President.  And Trump operated in environments that were very Jewish, New York real estate and television.  I think there is something there, some sort of racial bias, but at the moment I can’t figure out what it is.  

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Confederate Monuments

Tonight the monument to Confederate General Beauregard is being taken down in New Orleans.  If history is written by the victors, the victors in 2017 look very different from the victors in 1865.  Confederates lost the war, but coming home they were honored by their fellow Southerners.  Often the survivors of the two opposing sides met in friendly reunions, much like World War II American veterans who return on friendly terms to Europe or the Pacific islands where they fought.  Many Vietnam veterans have returned to Vietnam to help efface old animosities.  But as the veterans of the Civil War died off in the early 1900s, new waves of hatred swept the country, resulting now in the removal and desecration of the monuments built at a time of reconciliation between the North and the South, if not between the blacks and the whites.  Confederate soldiers killed Union soldiers; neither side killed slaves.  Blacks were more likely to die as soldiers in the Union army than as slaves in the South. 

History today only remembers the Civil War as a war to subjugate blacks as slaves, which they were.  But the South was more than that.  It was a genteel culture, built on graciousness and family ties, which in many cases embraced the slaves who worked in the houses, if not those who worked in the fields.  That lifestyle largely died after the war, as chronicled in Gone with the Wind. The monuments which New Orleans is tearing down memorialized the best representatives of those gracious ante bellum days, not the repression of slaves.  It is a rewriting of history by people who were not directly involved in the Civil War: blacks who by and large did not fight in the war, and immigrants who have come to America in the last hundred or so years and have no personal connection to the war.  Ann Coulter came up with a test for someone who would be an unquestioned American: a person with four grandparents born in the United States.  People who meet this test are scattered all across the country, from New York to California and Maine to Texas, but are no longer the force they used to be.  I think they would still reflect the kinship between the Union and the Confederacy that their grandfathers shared in the 1900s, and thus would be unlikely to be pushing for the destruction of these monuments. 

Finally, the hatred directed against anyone who was in anyway connected to slavery threatens to undermine the United States.  Many of the Founding Fathers who broke with England through the Declaration of Independence, and then formed the new nation with the Constitution were slave owners.  I will not be surprised to see other monuments come down.  If the Washington monument is not destroyed, it may be renamed something like the “National Monument.”  Jefferson’s statue may be removed from his memorial and it may become a “Memorial to the Founding Fathers.”  Then how long will it be before the nation decides to rewrite the Constitution?  We shall see.  

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Trump Shares Intel with Russians, Jeff Bezos Sides with Terrorists against Trump

The commentariat has gone crazy screaming about Trump’s disclosing some intelligence information to the Russians at a meeting in the oval office, first reported by the Washington Post.  Trump may have inadvertently disclosed this information, whatever it was about ISIS bombs, but whoever leaked his faux pas to the Washington Post did much more damage than Trump did.  There is no indication that Trump told the Russians his same intel source was reporting on Syria, but the Washington Post did.  The Washington Post headline could have read, “America has a source in ISIS and Syria, kill it.”  Whoever leaked it clearly was more interested in damaging Trump than protecting the source.  It’s sad that this unpatriotic source is so deeply involved in intelligence matters.  It’s time for major firings in the intelligence community, which has gone rogue.  From the Post story, it seems likely that the source is connected to Tom Bossert, who called CIA and NSA after the meeting. 

America frequently shares intelligence information with other countries.  It has now come out that the source of the intelligence was Israel.  Since it seems unlikely that there is a Jewish mole inside ISIS, it seems more like that the information is acquired by some technical means.  It may be that CIA or NSA, or whoever was responsible this source in the US, did not give permission to disclose the information to the Russians, but putting it on the front page of the Post did much more damage than Trump’s disclosure.  First, the Russians may not have been aware that this was sensitive information, and may not have paid much attention to it.  They may have thought that the Americans have many sources in ISIS, and thus would not have thought this information pointed to only one source.  Finally, the Russians may have honored the confidentiality of the discussion they had with Trump and may not have ordered Russian agents to destroy this now-marked ISUS source.  But thanks to Jeff Bezos and the Washington Post, everybody, including ISIS knows about it.  However, the real villain is whoever leaked the information to the Post.  It is someone who is willing to sacrifice an intelligence source in order to help bring down Donald Trump. 

This Post’s intelligence community source probably thinks he is doing God’s work, but I don’t think rebellion within the government is the way to go.  The effort to bring Trump down should stick to legal methods.  It’s basically up to Congress to bring articles of impeachment, or the administration’s cabinet to declare him mentally or physically unable to perform his job as President.  In addition, this open rebellion and disloyalty by the intelligence community adds to public confusion about what’s going on in Washington. 

Watching CNN’s Brooke Baldwin interview Amb. Tom Pickering about this was amusing.  She said to Pickering (who was Ambassador to Russia) something like, “You’ve been a room with Russians before,” as if that were something extremely dangerous.  Pickering laughed and replied something like, “I’ve spent days in rooms with Russians.”  Baldwin’s fear of Russians was palpable, as if you could die by touching one.  This baseless fear seems to have infected much of the media.  I hope the American military is not as afraid of the Russians as much as the media is.  Russians are not mentally and physically indestructible giants, but American cowardice. Like Baldwin’s, will make them look like that. 

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Firing Comey

President Trump lost me when he fired FBI Director James Comey.  Comey may have made some mistakes, but he was put in an impossible position when both parties nominated deeply flawed candidates who had potentially carried out criminal acts.  I don’t know that Clinton’s misuse of a private server for government business was so bad, but she did not cooperate with the FBI investigation, raising questions about whether there was something more serious that she refused to disclose.   It’s possible that some of the emails dealt with personal financial gain from her official position, or that they illegally disclosed highly classified information available on her server to anyone with simple hacking skills. 

Trump may have some justification for calling Comey a “showboat” and for not strictly following FBI guidelines when discussing Hillary Clinton’s server case last year, but Comey is a good man who was put in an almost impossible position during the campaign by the accusations about both candidates.  I trust Comey more than I trust Trump.  At the very least, Trump should have personally informed Comey that he was firing him, rather than having Comey learn about it from a TV showing news behind him as he was speaking to FBI agents.  It was cowardly not to tell Comey face to face. 

Firing Comey has to intimidate FBI agents working on the case, no matter what the FBI says.  Whether or not it is actually true, the appearance is that Comey was fired because he was too committed to finding the truth about the connections between the Trump campaign and Russia.  FBI agents have to be worried that if they find a “smoking gun” it will be the end of their careers, as it was for Comey. 

The New Yorker ran a long article about two ways to remove Trump from the Presidency, impeachment or the 25th Amendment.  For impeachment, he would have had to have committed “treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors.”  The 25th Amendment allows removal of the President when there is an official finding that he “is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office.”  Trump’s firing of Comey does not appear to have triggered either of these processes.  He apparently had the right to fire Comey, and while doing so showed poor judgment, it does not by itself show that he is unable to discharge the powers of his office. 

No doubt Democrats will continue to accumulate evidence that either of these processes could be triggered against Trump.  The FBI investigation and the Senate and House investigations may turn up evidence that could be used against him.  Of course either method is as much political as it is legal, and the ultimate success or failure would depend on Trump’s popularity and his support in the House and Senate.  If the Democrats pick up enough seats in the next election to give them a majority, the chances of removing him will increase. 

In any case, Trump is clearly overloading the political system.  He apparently enjoys chaos, but the political system is not set up to deal with this much chaos at once.  For the sake of the nation, Trump needs to calm down.  There may be crises that require immediate, complex action, but this was not one of them.  Trump should have laid the groundwork for firing Comey, rather than surprising everyone, even his own Vice President, and he should have had a replacement vetted and in line to replace Comey.  Failing to do that was poor leadership.  

Monday, May 8, 2017

French Election Shows Failure of US Democrats in 2016

In 2016 Obama and the Democrats thought they could elect the first woman President to replace the first black President.  It was too much hubris.  Hillary was not a good candidate; the Democratic party was out of touch with America.  Biden would have won easily, although maybe he really didn't want to be President.  I don't know whether Obama chose Hillary to create another first with a woman President, or whether Biden really did not want to be President.  In any case the Democrats failed badly, just illustrated yesterday by the French election where Macron, the moderate, won easily.  That could have been Biden, but probably not Vice Presidential candidate Tim Kaine, who is a colorless empty suit.

The Democrats were in a much better position in 2016 than Macron was in France in 2017, but they did not take advantage of their position, losing to an upstart, Trump.  The new book Shattered apparently chronicles Hillary's disastrous campaign.

Jews were extremely influential in both campaigns.  Macron's financial career was with the Jewish bank Rothschild; so, he has a strong, obvious connection to the wealthy Jewish establishment.  The Clintons worked on establishing their own ties to the Jewish community.  Of course, Chelsea Clinton, like Ivanka Trump, is married to a Jew.  One of President Bill Clinton's most notorious acts (of many) was the last minute pardon of Marc Rich, a wealthy Jew.  This pardon was just parodied last night on the HBO show Veep, where former President Meyer tries to get political donations from a boorish, wealthy Jew, Sherman Tanz, whom she pardoned in a previous episode.  It's doubly pointed because Meyer is played by Julia Louis-Dreyfus, who has one of the most famous Jewish names in France, Dreyfus.  Is this art imitating life, or life imitating art?

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Trump On Andrew Jackson

I am sorry that Andrew Jackson biographer Jon Meacham was not more understanding toward Trump’s remarks about Andrew Jackson and the Civil War.  In this interview on MSNBC, Meacham says that Trump conflated Jackson’s actions to defuse the nullification crisis with the crisis of the Civil War itself.  Meacham says that while Jackson managed the nullification crisis, where the leading opposition to the federal  government came from South Carolina, it was impossible for anybody to avoid the Civil War, started by South Carolina at Fort Sumter.  Maybe Meacham is right that an orgy of death was the only way to settle the slavery issue, but Lincoln did not start out to abolish slavery or to declare war against the slave states.  As Lincoln said in his Second Inaugural Address:

 On the occasion corresponding to this four years ago all thoughts were anxiously directed to an impending civil war. All dreaded it, all sought to avert it. While the inaugural address was being delivered from this place, devoted altogether to saving the Union without war, insurgent agents were in the city seeking to destroy it without war—seeking to dissolve the Union and divide effects by negotiation. Both parties deprecated war, but one of them would make war rather than let the nation survive, and the other would accept war rather than let it perish, and the war came.

By the time Lincoln came into office, war may have been unavoidable, but there were a series of relatively weak presidents between Jackson and Lincoln: Van Buren, Harrison, Tyler, Polk, Taylor, Fillmore, Pierce, and Buchanan.  Is it beyond all reason that a stronger President, like Jackson, could have worked out some kind of a solution short of civil war?  All of the pundits say it was impossible and Trump is a fool to raise the possibility.  The commentariat is fairly dripping with hatred, not only of the slave-owners of the 1860s, but of the Southerners who refuse to flagellate themselves for being the progeny of slaveholders.  Their contempt for Trump extends to all Southerners living in the South today, as  well as to the Southern Founding Fathers who were slave owners: Washington, Jefferson, Madison, and Monroe, all of whom went on to be President.  I expect the Washington and Jefferson memorials in D.C. will be demolished soon, like the Civil War statues in New Orleans and other Southern cities, and the Constitution will be replaced by some new, more modern, more enlightened  governing document.  

The main criticism by pundits who want to quickly attack Trump is to point out that Jackson died years before the Civil War started.  By saying this, they portray their ignorance of American history in the 1830s, when the South was already denying the authority of the federal government over Southern states.  This was the very issue that led to the Civil War and to the secession of the Southern states.   Jackson dealt with it vigorously in order to keep the union together.  In particular Joe Scarborough on MSNBC and Jonathan Karl on ABC have shown their woeful ignorance of American history.  

Evan Osnos has written an article in the New Yorker examining ways to remove Trump from office, either by impeachment or because of physical or mental incapacity.  In discussing the mental incapacity of Presidents, which he says is frequent, he oddly supports Trump’s version of Andrew Jackson and the Civil War.  Osnos says:

Some of these [presidential] illnesses had far-reaching historical consequences. Just before Franklin Pierce took office, in 1853, his son died in a train accident, and Pierce’s Presidency was marked by the “dead weight of hopeless sorrow,” according to his biographer Roy Franklin Nichols. Morose and often drunk, Pierce proved unable to defuse the tensions that precipitated the Civil War.

Osnos makes Trump’s point that a stronger President than Pierce might have been able “to defuse the tensions that precipitated the Civil War.”  I presume that Joe Scarborough and Jonathan Karl think Evan Osnos is as mentally unstable as Trump because he shares a similar view of the history leading up to the Civil War.  Or maybe it’s Joe and Jon who are mentally unstable, or just uneducated, or just filled with hateful political prejudice. 

Monday, May 1, 2017

North Korea and the KEDO Attempt To Stop Its Bomb Program

This was in last week's installment of the Diplomacy Oral History project newsletter. 

Here is a link to an oral history of the first attempt to work out a nuclear deal with North Korea:

Near the middle, around the graph of KEDO (Korean Energy Development Organization) funding and the picture of the North Korean nuclear plant, is a description of the KEDO funding difficulties.  This article doesn’t mention it, but while I was in Rome, KEDO was having trouble getting funding for the fuel oil it had promised the North Koreans as a reward for them if they would not work on their bomb project while KEDO worked on building a nuclear power reactor in North Korea that would not produce bomb-usable plutonium.  As the article says, the US Congress would not approve the money for the fuel oil.  The main sticking point was the Republican congressman from Mobile, Alabama, (I forget his name) who was on the Appropriations Committee.  Since he would not approve the money, somebody from KEDO came to Rome (maybe Bosworth, I don’t remember) to ask the EU (through the Italians since they held the rotating presidency of the EU) if it would contribute $2 million to help KEDO meet its obligations.  I think the EU eventually said, “No thanks,” although they promised to think about it, and expressed European concern about a North Korean bomb.   

It really ticked me off that the North Korean deal looked like it might fail because the US refused to meet its obligations, thus giving the North Koreans an excuse to go back to building bombs.  Interestingly, Bosworth says here that the North Koreans were not too upset about the funding problems, but in Rome I didn’t know that.  In any case, the KEDO deal fell apart later.  Joel Wit, who worked for Bosworth and was more my level (we had worked together on the Missile Technology Control Regime),has said somewhere that KEDO never missed a payment.  But I think maybe he and Bosworth tend to gloss over the payment difficulties so as not to make themselves look too responsible for KEDO’s failure.