Top 5 Hypocrisies of Trump Friday

By Juan Cole | (Informed Comment) | – –

On Friday, Trump was making news again, after having appeared to be subdued (or muzzled?) by his staff midweek. But he addressed the conservative equivalent of that bar scene in Star Wars, CPAC. As usual, the sum total of his wacky pronouncements added up to a minus number. Here are a few of the more striking contradictions:

1. At CPAC Trump complained that the US deficit has soared to $20 trillion.

Then he said,

“We’re also put nothing a massive budget request for our beloved military. And we will be substantially upgrading all of our military, all of our military, offensive, defensive, everything, bigger and better and stronger than ever before. And hopefully, we’ll never have to use it, but nobody’s gonna mess with us, folks, nobody.

The annual US military budget is $773.5 billion. The US spends as much on the military as the next 14 countries, and this massive spending on war-related institutions drives the country into repeated wars (war spending creates constituents and lobbies). The federal government plans to collect $3.2 trillion in taxes and fees in fiscal 2017 and to spend $3.6 trillion– i.e. is spending $400 bn more than it has. The military budget is a quarter of the federal budget. War spending cannot be expanded without vastly increasing the deficit, as Trump himself seemed to admit when he talked about the wastefulness of the Bush wars.

2. At CPAC he said, “So I’m not against the media, I’m not against the press. I don’t mind bad stories if I deserve them.” And he said, “And I love the First Amendment; nobody loves it better than me. Nobody.”

Then he disinvited CNN, NYT, LAT, Politico and Buzzfeed from the Friday press briefing. Trump is attempting to make Breitbart and other alt-NeoNazi outlets into the mainstream media and to destroy even the center-right corporate media which he and Steve Bannon see as insufficiently worshipful of the privilege of the white and wealthy, and insufficiently worshipful of Trump.

3. Trump is always going on about how he will make the US more secure.

Then he basically called for a new nuclear arms race and ratcheting up of the planet’s most deadly arsenal.

4. Trump said, “And by the way, I want regulation. I want to protect our environment, I want regulations for safety, I want all of the regulations that we need and I want them to be so strong and so tough…”

But Trump is now again allowing corporations to dump their coal ash into our rivers and thus our drinking water. He also intends to reverse many of President Obama’s other clean water regulations.

5. Trump says he wants the intelligence community to report on the danger to the US emanating from the 7 countries whose citizens he wishes to place on a travel ban.

But when on Friday The Department of Homeland Security issued a report questioning the premises of Trump’s 7-country visa ban, Trump immediately and totally dismissed it.

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Related video:

PBS NewsHour: “What Trump targeting the media means for press access”

“Get out of my Country!” White Terrorist Shoots Asian-American Engineers in Wake of Trump Visa Ban

By Juan Cole | (Informed Comment) | – –

It is alleged that Adam W. Purinton, a regular at a bar and grill, went up to two Indian-American patrons on Wednesday night in Olathe, Kansas and screamed racial slurs at them. He was asked to leave by the bartender, but 15 minutes later came back, shouted “get out of my country!” and shot them. One victim, Srinivas Kuchibhotla, died of his injuries in a Kansas City hospital. He is said to have left behind a wife who is five months pregnant.

The other intended victim, 32-year-old Alok Madasani of Overland Park, is wounded and in hospital.

It is speculated that Purinton, who had served in the Navy and worked in internet technology, thought that the men were Middle Eastern Muslims rather than Indian Hindus.

Also shot and wounded in the hand, chest and neck is 24-year-old Ian Grillot, who just happened to be at the bar and grill, and who tried to stop Purinton as he fled. Grillot, from his hospital bed, told the story of how he was under a table and counted out nine shots then pursued the alleged assailant. But apparently he miscounted, and the gunman still had a shot to get off.

Grillot said: “It’s not about where he [victim] was from or his ethnicity. We’re all humans, so I just did what was right to do.”

Grillot’s injury is a badge of honor and courage, and he should be saluted by all right-thinking people. But it is a dark parable. White terrorism against people the white supremacists code as non-white or foreign will also victimize white people.

Purinton was picked up at another bar 80 miles away from the scene of the crime, where he allegedly confessed to having shot two “Middle Eastern” men. That kind of stupidity is an active danger to the survival of our species.

Remember, the shooter had been told by Trump-Bannon that Muslims hate America and should be excluded from the US.

Kuchibhotla was a star software engineer originally from Hyderabad, India (his wife is also from there). He had degrees from Jawaharlal Nehru Technological University in Hyderabad and from the University of Texas. His co-workers say he was the nicest person. His bereaved wife and his family are trying to raise money to send his body back to India for his funeral.

He and Madasani worked at Garmin International.

The White House sets a tone in a country. Trump’s assertion that “Islam hates us” and his project of a Muslim ban sent a signal permitting hate crimes to the millions of unbalanced people in the US into whose hands the National Rifle Association has insisted on putting firearms.

But ironically, Trump would approve of Kuchibhotla.

As Willa Frej tells the story, then Steve Bannon had a radio show on Sirius XM in 2015, he had Donald Trump on as a guest and complained about all the foreigners in the US. Trump pushed back, saying that a lot of bright people come to America and get Ivy League degrees, and we should try to keep them.

Bannon told Trump, “When two-thirds or three-quarters of the CEOs in Silicon Valley are from South Asia or from Asia, I think… A country is more than an economy. We’re a civic society.”

Needless to say, Bannon’s “facts” are fake. Asian-Americans actually account for 14 percent of CEOs in Silicon Valley. And, as we social scientists use the phrase “civil society” (non-governmental public organizations), there is no reason to exclude Asian-Americans. That is, there is no analytical reason, assuming you’re not, like, a racist bigot.

Bannon speaks of a “civilizational war” with Muslims and through the executive orders he crafter for Tump he has laid the ground work for blood in the streets.

Bannon is not fit to shine the shoes of any of the three victims here, who actually contribute positively to our country rather than trying to Nazify it.

Two of my uncles fought the Nazis. I mind anyone trying to import racist thuggery into this country. There’s no difference between publishing a rag like Breitbart and going out to Arlington cemetery and spitting on the graves every day.

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Related video:
KCTV5 News: “Witnesses say Olathe bar shooting may have racial overtones”

Buyers’ Remorse: Americans think Trump is bad at almost Everything

By Juan Cole | (Informed Comment) | – –

The vast majority of Americans in a new Quinnipiac opinion poll do not believe that Donald J. Trump is level-headed or shares their values. Of course, this is only one poll, and likely the plus or minus swing is 3 or 4 percent. But actually the findings are so decisive in most cases that that wouldn’t matter. Qunnipiac showed Trump beating Clinton last summer, so you can’t accuse them of being biased against him.

And only 38% think he is doing a good job in his first month, versus 55% who say no. In contrast, a strong majority trust the courts to do the right thing.

This finding has to be underlined. Only 33 percent of Americans (as projected from this poll) think Trump is level-headed.

So this is the guy with the nuclear codes. The guy with the power, as things evolved through the 20th century, unilaterally to declare war. The guy who presides over a trillion-dollar a year security and military complex. Who has several hundred thousand people spying on us all. The guy who issues executive orders, which now make up about 1/3 of all of our national legislation, and who does so by fiat.

And 63 percent of you think he isn’t level-headed? And, like, this wasn’t apparent to you all the way through 2016?

I mean, is this a joke? You put a flake (isn’t that what you mean by “not level-headed”?) in the most powerful office in the world? What, did you think it would be entertaining, sort of like one of those asteroid movies where in the end there is no way to stop it from destroying most of the earth? Did your mother drop you on your head?

And get this, only 37 percent think Trump shares their values. It would be scary, of course, if they really even believed what they told the pollsters. Do 118 million Americans really think it is all right to just start grabbing the person next to them in inappropriate ways? Or do they only talk like that in the locker room? Do 118 million Americans really think the 10% of the country that is first-generation immigrants are all criminals?

So my guess is that on mature reflection even the 37 percent might have some doubts.

But again, if 60 percent of you think this guy’s values are alien to you, why would you put him in the presidency? Just for a change of pace?

It goes down the line. You don’t think he is honest (55%). You don’t think he has good leadership skills (55%). You don’t even think he cares about the average Joe (55%). So you thought it might be a good idea to have a lying, incompetent elitist rat bastard as president?

The only positives for Trump here are that you think he is intelligent and a strong leader.

First of all, you have confused slyness with intelligence.

Second of all, you have confused mouthing off with being a strong leader. (I will remind you that you just said he has poor leadership skills; then how do you think he’s a strong leader?)

Then let’s take the issues, according to the Quinnipiac findings:

You think he is bad at handling foreign policy (56%). You think he’s bad on immigration (58%). You even think he is bad at counter-terrorism (49%). The only thing you think he is good at is running the economy (47% positive on that). And boy, do you have another think coming. Wait till he gets rid of Dodd Frank and deregulates even further the big banks and investment firms. The 2008 crash will look like a kindergarten field trip. And the environment is part of the economy. This is the guy who thinks it was much better when coal companies could release their toxic ash into our streams and rivers and when dirty oil pipelines could spill their poisonous sludge into our drinking water and fields. (So they can, again).

The vast majority of you think Trump’s Muslim ban went too far, and you are really against banning Syrian refugees, and you think in general the Federal government has taken this counter-terrorism thing way too far, chipping away at our civil liberties.

I saw on social media someone quoting a Trump supporter that they want us to give them a way to say they were wrong and made a mistake, without our telling these voters that they were bad people.

OK, you’re not bad people. You just made a mistake. Everyone makes mistakes.

But there are things you have to do to make up for the mistake. You have to give Trump a Democratic Senate and even House in 2018 if you want those bad instincts you just identified to be restrained. The GOP is obviously going to let Trump exercise his bad judgment all he likes. Even so-called mavericks like Sen. John McCain have not voted against Trump even once.

And, you have in your own life to counter-act Trump. Help with or give some support to refugees already here. Join a Muslim-American civil rights organization like MPAC or an Arab-American one like the Arab-American Anti-Discrimination committee. And where you can afford it and it is practical, cut down on your carbon footprint. Use public transportation or drive an electric vehicle. Pressure your utility to give you more green energy. If you can, put up solar panels.

You made a mistake. Fix it.

——–

Related video:

Wochit Politics:
Trump Approval Rating Historically Low

Red state rural America is acting on climate change – without calling it climate change

By Rebecca J. Romsdahl | (The Conversation) | – –

President Donald Trump has the environmental community understandably concerned. He and members of his Cabinet have questioned the established science of climate change, and his choice to head the Environmental Protection Agency, former Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, has sued the EPA many times and regularly sided with the fossil fuel industry.

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Even if the Trump administration withdraws from all international climate negotiations and reduces the EPA to bare bones, the effects of climate change are happening and will continue to build.

In response to real threats and public demand, cities across the United States and around the world are taking action to address climate change. We might think this is happening only in large, coastal cities that are threatened by sea-level rise or hurricanes, like Amsterdam or New York.

Research shows, however, that even in the fly-over red states of the U.S. Great Plains, local leaders in small- to medium-size communities are already grappling with the issue. Although their actions are not always couched in terms of addressing climate change, their strategies can provide insights into how to make progress on climate policy under a Trump administration.

‘Deliberate framing’

My colleagues and I did a survey of over 200 local governments in 11 states of the Great Plains region to learn about steps they’re taking to mitigate the effects of climate change and to adapt to them. We found local officials in red states responsible for public health, soil conservation, parks and natural resources management, as well as county commissioners and mayors, are concerned about climate change, and many feel a responsibility to take action in the absence of national policy.

In terms of framing, using wind energy is a way to improve local air quality and save money on energy, while also reducing emissions from fossil fuels.
paytonc/flickr, CC BY-SA

But because it is such a complex and polarizing topic, they often face public uncertainty or outrage toward the issue. So while these local officials have been addressing climate change in their communities over the past decade, many of these policy activities are specifically not framed that way. As one respondent to our survey said:

“It is my personal and professional opinion that the conservation community is on track with addressing the issue of climate change but is way off track in assigning a cause. The public understands the value of clean water and clean air. If the need to improve our water quality and air quality was emphasized, most would agree. Who is going to say dirty water and dirty air is not a problem? By making the argument ‘climate change and humans are the cause’ significant energy is wasted trying to prove this. It is also something the public has a hard time sinking their teeth into.”

In order to address the vulnerabilities facing their communities, many local officials are reframing climate change to fit within existing priorities and budget items. In a survey of mayors, we asked: “In your city’s policy and planning activities (for energy, conservation, natural resources management, land use, or emergency planning, etc.) how is climate change framed?” The following quotes give a sense of their strategies.

“In terms of economic benefit & resource protection. This framing was deliberate to garner support from residents who did not agree with climate change.”

“We frame the initiative as: energy savings (=$ savings), as smart growth/good planning, and as common sense natural resource management. Climate change is only explicitly referenced in our Climate Protection Plan adopted in 2009. Most initiatives fall under the “sustainability” umbrella term.“

“We mask it with sustainability, we call it P3 (People, Planet, Prosperity)”

“The initial interest in climate change came about as a result of concern about the potential for poor air quality affecting economic development in the City. Air quality and climate change were framed as being extremely related issues.”

“Climate change is framed as one of several benefits of conservation measures. Other benefits of conservation, recycling, walking, etc. include it’s ‘good for the earth’ (regardless of climate change), healthful, economical, etc.”

The results show that energy, economic benefits, common sense and sustainability are frames that are providing opportunities for local leaders to address climate change without getting stuck in the political quagmire. This strategy is being used across the Great Plains states, which include some of the most climate-skeptical areas of the country.

Local needs and values

Every region of the U.S. will need to address practical questions of how states and local communities can reduce emissions and adapt to climate impacts. Under the Trump administration, it is likely any progress on U.S. climate policy will continue at these subnational levels. That’s why a variety of experts argue that we should encourage the types of pragmatic strategies now being employed by local leaders in red states.

In the Great Plains in particular, local officials are facing severe impacts from higher temperatures, which will place greater demands on water and energy.

Capturing methane gases from landfill can reduce greenhouse gas emissions and be a local source of fuel for power.
Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, CC BY-NC

In our research we found local leaders focus on regional and local issues such as drought, energy and flooding. These are problems that are tied to climate change, but are already a priority on the local level. And the sought-for improvements, such as energy savings, health benefit and flood management, fit well with local needs and values.

For example, Fargo, North Dakota mitigates some of its greenhouse gas emissions and created a new source of city revenue by capturing the methane from its landfill facility and selling that gas to the electricity company. The city trash is now providing renewable energy for local residents and an industrial facility.

Perhaps the question facing us is: Should we reframe climate change and other environmental problems to fit the Trump administration’s priorities with a strong focus on practical solution ideas? For example, Trump has stated that infrastructure projects will be a high priority. That could easily translate into fixing the drinking water crisis experienced by Flint, Michigan and many other cities where it is likely to happen; Trump has also highlighted mass transit, which could help reduce air pollution and carbon emissions.

With an administration eager to expand fossil fuel development and consumption, the outlook for federal action on reducing climate-altering greenhouse gases is dire. Given that, reframing climate change to address cobenefit issues seems a logical strategy, and we can look for local government leaders in red states to show the way.

The Conversation

Rebecca J. Romsdahl, Professor of Environmental Science & Policy, University of North Dakota

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Trump endangering rest of Us to hunt down the Law-Abiding Undocumented

By Juan Cole | (Informed Comment) | – –

Gen. John Kelly’s ramping up of deportation measures against undocumented residents of the US, in accordance with Donald Trump’s campaign promises, contains many hidden dangers.

The rational way to deal with long-term unauthorized immigrants would be to offer them a path to citizenship, not waste taxpayers’ money deporting 10.9 million people– the vast majority of whom do essential and backbreaking labor that the native-born eschew. Most people don’t realize that there is no way for someone brought up in the US without citizenship to apply for it. The US needs its immigrants if it is to remain a great power.

If the undocumented residents of the US who have not committed any other crime here become afraid that they will be arrested on sight, this fear will endanger the rest of us.

The undocumented will become less likely to seek drivers’ licenses and automobile insurance, which is a menace to other US residents. California, which has 3 million, convinced 800,000 undocumented residents to get drivers’ licences, a victory for public safety, which could now be undone.

Likewise, in California some 93% of the children of undocumented families are enrolled in school. Some proportion of these children were born in the US and we want them educated as future citizens. But will undocumented parents start avoiding all government facilities, including schools?

It is undesirable that this large population avoid getting vaccinations, or that battered women should fear to go to the authorities. Making law-abiding undocumented people go underground poses substantial health and other risks to the rest of us.

There is also a danger that Trump/ Kelly’s irrational obsession with the law-abiding undocumented will overwhelm local police departments, whether financially or with regard to manpower and jail capacity. Some departments are already announcing that they can’t handle these extra duties.

Trump’s conviction that there is a crisis of illegal immigration into the United States in 2017 is misplaced. There was a crisis in the 1980s and 1990s, resulting in some 12.2 million undocumented residents of the US by 2007.

In the past decade, that number has fallen by nearly a million and a half, to 10.9 million. This is true even though the number of deportations fell in 2013 and 2014. (Trump says that there are 30 million undocumented residents of the US, and alleges that 3 million of them voted in the presidential election. These are imaginary numbers much more imaginary than the square root of -1.)

In California, 7% of the undocumented are married to American citizens, and another percentage is married to green card holders. Many have children who are American citizens. Trump’s idea that any significant number are young male gang members with no roots in the US is monstrous in its gargantuan falsity.

That the crisis of unauthorized immigration is a problem of previous decades and hardly so urgent today is demonstrated by the simple fact that 66% of the undocumented have been in the US at least 10 years. In 2014, only 7% of undocumented Mexicans had been in the US less than 5 years.

Under the old rules by which ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) operated, which have now been changed by Gen. Kelly, undocumented people who weren’t near the border and who had not committed a crime were relatively safe from deportation. But it was not as though the Obama administration was sloughing off on deporting the undocumented. In some years Obama deported substantially more people than Bush had in his last year as president.

fy2016-fig1

The old policy was to concentrate on criminals and leave the law-abiding alone. Last year, 92% of all the persons deported after being arrested by ICE agents in the interior of the US had been convicted of a crime (other than unauthorized entry).

Over 2/3s of those deported were arrested in the vicinity of the border, often by other agencies than ICE, including local police. Of these deportees picked up near the border, nearly 60% had also previously been convicted of a crime. That leaves about 100,000 people arrested who had no previous criminal record. Almost all of them were picked up near the border.

But only 2000 of the deportees were known gang members, so these individuals, who loom so large in Trump’s imagination, are a tiny proportion of the undocumented. They were less than 1% of the deported.

Only about half of the unauthorized immigrants who came in during 2014 were Mexicans. In recent years more Mexicans have been leaving than coming into the US.

More of those arriving are from Central America, and they are fleeing dangerous situations in their home countries. In 2016, some 100,000 unauthorized immigrants into the US from Central America claimed asylum because of the danger they faced back home. These asylum claims have to be decided by a judge and take a lot of energy. The US would certainly be better off launching Marshall Plan for Central America and trying to help those countries’ economies grow faster and trying to provide for more democracy and less danger for average citizens. Such steps are the real way to cut down on unauthorized immigration.

—–

Related video:

Al Jazeera English: “US: Anxiety grows among undocumented immigrants”

Should Bannon Resign? He and Milo Fake-Newsed Hillary as Pedophile

By Juan Cole | (Informed Comment) | – –

The interview that emerged on the internet of practicing Catholic Milo Yiannopoulos expressing approval of some instances of priest pedophilia with boys has perhaps ended his career as the most flamboyant voice of the neo-KKK in suits. But those remarks are hardly the most objectionable things Yiannopoulos has said; at least he seems to have been talking in part about his own experience. What is really monstrous is the lies he told, and which he was encouraged by his boss Steve Bannon to tell, about Hillary Clinton being involved in a pedophilia ring.

Steve Bannon, now sitting on our National Security Council (and perhaps in control of which of its recommendations goes to Trump), hired Yiannopoulos as an editor at his alt-NeoNazi rag, Breitbart, and helped unleash him on the United States. Bannon’s choice of proteges tells us everything we need to know about him and his agenda in the Trump White House. (Yiannopoulos himself has spoken about how Bannon hired and promoted him).

Newsweek reminds us that last fall

Milo Yiannopoulos, who lost his Twitter access earlier this year after one too many online insults against women and minorities, was on the campus of Miami University in Ohio, scheduled to talk about “PIZZAGATE: The deep Dish on Liberalism and Pedophilia.”

Yiannopoulos pushed the fake news that Hillary Clinton, her campaign manager John Podesta, and others in her circle were involved in two scandals. One was “spirit cooking” or witchcraft. The other was involvement in a pedophilia ring run out of a Washington, DC, pizzeria (an establishment that has suffered reputational damage and actually was shot up by a Bannon-Trump acolyte). I don’t understand why they never sued.

Yiannopoulos said he was not surprised at Secretary Clinton’s alleged involvement in “spirit cooking” because he had long been aware that witchcraft and Lesbianism go together.

Bannon cleverly used far rightwing narcissists like Yiannopoulos to spread around the most ridiculous and yet sinister charges against Secretary Clinton, which were apparently actually believed in the far right circles he cultivated.

So it is especially ironic that, having falsely charged the Democratic Establishment with pedophilia, that Yiannopoulos himself should have been revealed to be a proponent of it. Indeed, it is hard not to conclude that his charges against Clinton were form of projection, in which he transferred his real feelings incorrectly to her.

Given that Bannon hired and relentlessly promoted Yiannopoulos to spread hate speech and dark conspiracy theories, and given that his protege has been revealed to be so deeply flawed, is it really appropriate (was it ever really appropriate) to have Bannon in the White House? What kind of judge of character can we depend on Bannon to be?

Shouldn’t Bannon have to tell us if he ever discussed pedophilia with his close associate Yiannopoulos?

Bannon should resign. Or he should be fired.

——-

Related videos:

1.

2.

Newsy: “Milo Yiannopoulos won’t speak at CPAC”

Netanyahu rejected offer by Kerry & Arab Leaders of Comprehensive Peace Talks

By Juan Cole | (Informed Comment) | – –

Last year this time, Secretary of State John Kerry was trying to put together a huge peace deal between Israel and the Arab world, according to Aron Heller and Matthew Lee of the Associated Press.

The proposal built on the 2002 Arab peace plan, which offered Israel full recognition by its Arab neighbors, with trade and other ties, on condition that it give up the Palestinian territories it occupied in 1967 and which it is illegally colonizing. That 2002 Arab League initiative had been roundly rejected by then prime minister Ariel Sharon, who was from the same hard line far-right party, the Likud, that current PM Binyamin Netanyahu hails from.

The plan allegedly offered Israel full recognition as a Jewish state and Jerusalem as joint capital of Israel and Palestine, with peace treaties with a much wider array of Arab countries, and an end to Palestinian demands for the right of return to the homes in Israel from which the Zionists expelled them in 1948. In return Israel would have to withdraw from the West Bank, where it has hundreds of thousands of illegal squatters.

Apologists for the Israeli right wing are always going on about the alleged willingness of Israel to make peace if only it could find a partner to negotiate with.

Kerry was delivering to them large numbers of such partners.

Netanyahu turned the offer of wide-ranging negotiations down flat.

In a parliamentary system, politicians can only remain prime minister if they retain the confidence of the parties in parliament, many of which are typically represented on the cabinet. If several cabinet ministers resign over some policy, and parliament stages a vote of no confidence that the PM loses by a simple majority, then BOOM! The PM is no longer prime minister.

In March of 2015, Netanyahu had put together a government of the Likud, Shas, United Torah Judaism, Jewish Home, and Kulanu parties, giving him 61 of 120 seats in the parliament.

Given that Netanyahu got where he is by cultivating the most craven, corrupt, greedy and rapacious politicians in Israeli society, his cabinet is full of arrogant pricks who would much rather have the profit on a few square feet of the West Bank than a comprehensive peace. Parties like Naftali Bennet’s “Jewish Home” have core constituents who demand that Israelis squat on and usurp Palestinian land in the West Bank. It should be remembered that colonialism is big business, so that there is what Rashid Khalidi has called a settler-industrial complex.

Netanyahu toyed with the idea of bringing the center-left Labor Party (the main constituent in Isaac Herzog’s “Zionist Union”) into his coalition. With 24 seats it could have replaced “Jewish Home” (8 seats) and several other small parties.

But the Zionist Union isn’t all that left wing, and Herzog was then campaigning on the impossibility of implementing a two-state solution at this time, arguing that the Palestinians do not have the capacity for it. Since this is Netanyahu’s position, he taunted Herzog, saying “Good morning, Buji, welcome to the Middle East!’ Herzog also advocated building more walls and fences around Israeli settlements, and urged a “complete separation” of Israelis and Palestinians. So who knows, maybe Herzog didn’t want a comprehensive peace treaty any more than Netanyahu did.

The far right wing Jerusalem Post on March 16, 2016, warned in March that Israeli national unity would be necessary to block “dangerous” Obama Mideast initiatives. It noted that Vice President Joe Biden had visited the region and promoted an “initiative based on recognizing east Jerusalem as a Palestinian capital, an end to all settlement activity, Palestinian recognition of Israel as a Jewish state and Palestinians forfeiting the Arab refugee right of return.” This is precisely the plan now being described by AP.

The Jerusalem Post sniffed that the Palestine Authority was inciting to the murder of Israelis (which was not true–that was fake news) and that no government could accept the Biden proposals because they would imperil Israeli security. Sure. A comprehensive peace with the Arab League states–now that would obviously doom Israel for sure.

Anyway, Netanyahu knew that if he brought the Kerry plan to his cabinet, they would reject it and enough small parties might pull out that he could even lose his majority in parliament himself, and so fall from power.

So he preferred not to risk his position of power and privilege merely for the sake of peace.

Let’s just acknowledge that the Likud Party and its allies on the right do not want peace with the Arabs and have sabotaged all proposals to that end.

If you keep rejecting peace, guess what you get?

——

Related video:

AP: WRAP Biden visits Israel, presser with Netanyahu, ADDS settlements row

Trump invents Sweden Terror Attack, Lies about Immigrant Crime

By Juan Cole | (Informed Comment) | – –

Trump made up another alleged terrorist attack at his rally on Saturday, this one about a figment of his imagination that did not actually take place in Sweden on Friday night.

It is clear that Trump and his white supremacist mafia (Steve Bannon et al.) despise Sweden and Germany for having taken in more than their fair of refugees since the crisis began. Trump and his henchmen see refugees and immigrants as inherently dangerous.

trp

This allegation is not true. In fact, in some places immigrants appear actually to cause the local crime rate to fall! A scientific study of crime and immigration in Canada found that immigrants are less likely to commit crimes than the native-born. Haimin Zhang of the University of British Columbia writes,

not only do immigrants themselves commit less crimes, they can reduce the crime rates in the long run through channels such as changing the neighbourhood characteristics or impacting the behaviour of natives.”

The same effect can be seen in the United States. Walter Ewing and his colleagues point out,

“Between 1990 and 2013, the foreign-born share of the U.S. population grew from 7.9 percent to 13.1 percent and the number of unauthorized immigrants more than tripled from 3.5 million to 11.2 million. During the same period, FBI data indicate that the violent crime rate declined 48 percent -—which included falling rates of aggravated assault, robbery, rape, and murder. Likewise, the property crime rate fell 41 percent, including declining rates of motor vehicle theft, larceny/robbery, and burglary. According to an original analysis of data from the 2010 American Community Survey (ACS) conducted by the authors of this report, roughly 1.6 percent of immigrant males age 18-39 are incarcerated, compared to 3.3 percent of the native-born. This disparity in incarceration rates has existed for decades.”

In countries where this effect cannot be seen, i.e. where immigrants do not reduce the crime rate, it is because of the class of immigrants admitted. The US mostly lets in fairly high-skilled immigrants. As for the undocumented, who tend to do menial labor, they are careful not to commit crimes on the whole because they don’t want to be sent back. A tiny number of gang members who are confident that their gang will bring them back if they are deported casts a shadow over millions of people. But only because we let the far right dominate this discourse.

Ironically, it is precisely people like Donald Trump’s grandfather Frederick who are responsible for some minor problems in Sweden. Frederick at least allowed prostitution in his gold rush hotels, and indeed the prospect of a crackdown on that trade along with other law enforcement actions caused him to try to go back to Germany (the German government did not want him).

Moreover, it should be noted that a lot of the refugees taken in by Sweden are from Afghanistan and Iraq. That is, they are fleeing conditions created by the United States in their countries. So actually it should have been the US who took them, not Sweden. The United States is responsible for the displacement of 4 million Iraqis out of 32 million, or over 12% of the population. The US did not displace all of them directly, but its invasion, overthrow of the government, and abolition of the army did lead to these millions losing their homes and being forced to try to find some other place to live. This would be like 40 million Americans being made homeless, a little more than the combined population of Texas and Georgia.

As for Europe, since all human populations have a certain crime rate, if you let in more people, you are letting in more crime. But the real question is relative. Compared to how many people you let in, is the crime rate out of the ordinary? We have seen that in Canada and the US, it is lower than ordinary.

In Germany, Heather Horn of The Atlantic points out, “Although the number of refugees in the country increased by 440 percent between 2014 and 2015, the number of crimes committed by refugees only increased by 79 percent. (The number of crimes against refugees increased as well.)” Sexual offenses are less than 1%, despite the wild allegations of the far right.

As for refugee rape in Sweden, Doug Saunders at the Globe and Mail quoted an actual academic who actually studies these things: ““What we’re hearing is a very, very extreme exaggeration based on a few isolated events, and the claim that it’s related to immigration is more or less not true at all,” says Jerzy Sarnecki, a criminologist at Stockholm University who has devoted his career to the study of criminality, ethnicity and age.”

Swedes are extremely feminist and define all sorts of things as rape (taking off a condom during sex without informing one’s partner e.g.) as rape that would not be considered rape in other countries.

To any extent that refugees in Sweden commit petty crime, they do so at the same rate as other people of their social class. A study cited by Saunders shows that 75% of the difference between native and foreign-born crime rates is accounted for by where people live and how much they make. He adds, “Among the Swedish-born children of immigrants, the crime rate falls in half (and is almost entirely concentrated in lesser property crimes) and is 100-per-cent attributable to class – they are no more likely to commit crimes, including rape, than ethnic Swedes of the same family income.” Saunders also points out that where rapes do occur, the victims also tend to be immigrants, so the lurid picture painted by Neonazis and Islamophobes of white women assaulted by brown men is a fiction.

In fact, a widely reported, premeditated gang rape in Germany attributed to Muslim immigrants never happened. I wrote Friday, ” There was, for instance, the fake news about the alleged Muslim immigrant mass rapes in Cologne a little over a year ago. Breitbart beat the drums for it, but the the story was not true. Or then there was the phony story about Muslims burning a church in Germany, also played up by Breitbart and also not true. Trump is deeply influenced by Bannon’s insane conspiracy theories; if you want to know why he keeps saying false and/or unbalanced things, consider that he gets his news from alt-Neonazi toilet paper like Breitbart.”

Top 8 Signs someone is a White Terrorist, e.g. plotting to Blow up Mosque

By Juan Cole | (Informed Comment) | – –

1. If you appoint yourself to carry out surveillance of a mosque congregation who have never given any evidence of being violent, you might be a white terrorist.

2. If you don’t know the difference between gentle Sufi mysticism and violent extremism, you might be a white terrorist.

3. If you plot to burn down a mosque, you might be a white terrorist.

4. If you also plot to burn a school and a cafeteria, you might be a white terrorism.

5. If you plot to put together a militia to attack the mosque, you might be a white terrorist.

6. If you make phone calls to potential militia members discussing using assault rifles on Muslims at the mosque who put up resistance, you might be a white terrorist.

7. If the County Commissioner of your county posted a sign showing a cowboy pointing his rifle at the viewer with a caption, “How to wink at a Muslim,” you might be a white terrorist.

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8. If despite organizing a terrorist attack and recruiting accomplices from other states, you still aren’t charged with terrorism– you might be a white terrorist.

Robert Doggart has been found guilty on 4 counts of plotting to commit arson and violate civil rights. But he was not charged with terrorism.

Tomorrow, they will say, “Donald Trump rants and raves at the press.”

By Juan Cole | (Informed Comment) | – –

So Trump did rant and rave at the press on Thursday. But not at all the press. He has never attacked Breitbart, the vehicle for white supremacist falsehoods piloted by his Rasputin, Neofascist Steve Bannon (White House chief of strategy and National Security Council eminence grise).

And that is the real significance of his accusation that the major corporate media outlets are “fake news.” What he means by that is their refusal to adopt a white supremacist editorial line.

He doesn’t actually mind fake news, or he would fire Bannon and dissociate himself from Breitbart, which is mostly filled with far-right racist falsehoods. There was, for instance, the fake news about the alleged Muslim immigrant mass rapes in Cologne a little over a year ago. Breitbart beat the drums for it, but the the story was not true. Or then there was the phony story about Muslims burning a church in Germany, also played up by Breitbart and also not true. Trump is deeply influenced by Bannon’s insane conspiracy theories; if you want to know why he keeps saying false and/or unbalanced things, consider that he gets his news from alt-Neonazi toilet paper like Breitbart.

He is attacking mainstream media for not following the Breitbart lead, and for disrupting the narrative that he and Bannon are trying to spread, of persecuted white people suffering at the hands of invading Mexicans, Chinese and Arabs.

He minds the mainstream media giving over their airwaves to critics of his Muslim ban (not everyone has; Rupert Murdoch’s Faux News has been a cheerleader for it and even MSNBC’s Chris Matthews has insisted that Judge James Robart and the panel at the 9th Circuit were out of line in challenging it).

He minds the mainstream media reporting on the spike in threats to synagogues since he was inaugurated, and on his White House refusal to mention Jews in his Holocaust message (“other people suffered”). That is why he was so rude to Jake Turx of Ami magazine. Bannon and Trump think the liberal Jewish elite are behind Fed monetary policy and pro-immigration policy (i.e. the Jews are to blame for the Muslims).

He minds negative coverage of his policies toward Mexico, including his smearing of Mexican-Americans as rapists and drug dealers and threat to send down US security forces to take care of their ‘bad hombres.’ He has no Latino cabinet members. He clearly does not like Latinos or think they belong in the US (even though old Castilian Californio families have been here since 1769, rather before the petty grifter Frederick Trumpf began his seedy activities in 1885 in Queens).

What Trump is trying to do by vilifying the corporate media is to bring them to heel and to put pressure on them to bring more Breitbart and Stormfront commentators on air to spew Trumpist talking points.

Ironically, Jared Kushner is also playing a role in trying to bring e.g. CNN to heel. He’ll be sorry.

This is not cute, folks, and for all the giggles it produces on the late night opening monologues, it is extremely sinister.

When someone like Trump moves the signposts on allowable public discourse, things can get ugly fast. You start having panels on cable news at 2 pm debating about whether African-Americans have only themselves to blame because of their laziness and violence. (You can tell this is propaganda because self-contradictory; lazy people wouldn’t have the vim for violence). You start having anchors who think that Islam is an intrinsically violent or anti-democratic religion (this has already happened on HBO via phony liberal and stealth supremacist Bill Maher). You start having commentators opining on the dangers of undocumented immigrants voting in New Hampshire.

Trump hopes to keep the pressure on, by portraying independent news and commentary as inherently false and unfair, and to use his shock troops to intimidate the media into taking his line, which is to say, the Neofascist line.

Trump went on to boast about his New Improved Mussolini foreign policy:

I have directed our defense community headed by our great general, now Secretary [James] Mattis. He’s over there now working very hard to submit a plan for the defeat of ISIS, a group that celebrates the murder and torture of innocent people in large sections of the world. It used to be a small group, now it’s in large sections of the world.They’ve spread like cancer. ISIS has spread like cancer — another mess I inherited.

ISIL does not actually murder people in large sections of the world. Obama rolled it back into being a relatively small terrorist group. All it has left in Iraq is part of the city of Mosul; it has half of dusty, remote Raqqa province in Syria. It has been kicked out of Sirte in Libya, in part by Obama’s AFricom strategy. While small terrorist cells can hit anywhere at any time, portraying ISIL as actively committing massive violence in large sections of the world is just vast exaggeration and fear-mongering.

Then he said:

“And we have imposed new sanctions on the nation of Iran, who has totally taken advantage of our previous administration, and they’re the world’s top sponsor of terrorism, and we’re not going to stop until that problem is properly solved. And it’s not properly solved now, it’s one of the worst agreements I’ve ever seen drawn by anybody.”

In fact, Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis has made it clear that he is not tearing up the Iran nuclear agreement, so Trump may as well stop complaining about that deal. Trump doesn’t seem to realize that his own policy is to support Russia in Syria, and Russia is allied with Iran in Syria. Moreover, ISIL was only rolled up in Iraq with Iranian help.

Iran is not the world’s primary backer of terrorism, despite what Washington pols keep saying. They considered Hizbullah’s struggle to liberate illegally occupied south Lebanon from Israeli occupation to be ‘terrorism,’ and minded that Iran backed Hizbullah. A country like the US, which waged a war of aggression on Iraq, set in train the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis, bombed urban residential districts, made four million Iraqis homeless, and left behind a country of orphans and widows, really doesn’t have room to criticize Iran, which has not launched a war of aggression on a neighbor in modern history.

Then Trump boasted about plans to vastly expand the Pentagon budget. The US has less than 10,000 troops in Afghanistan and half that in Iraq. Aside from those two situations, America is not at war. Yet is has a military budget that roughly 40 percent of world military spending! The US is 5 percent of the world population. With the exception of some police actions we aren’t at war. We don’t need all that military spending.

Actually, if Trump worked to make Central America more prosperous, that would be a much better use of several hundred billion dollars going to the Pentagon. And that step, not building a wall, is what would reduce immigration to the US across its southern border (though note that already, more Mexicans leave annually than come in, because of the good Mexican economy).

None of this is funny. Bad.

Juan Cole

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Related video:

Press, fake news, leaks and Russia: Highlights from Trump presser – BBC Newsnight