Whoa!

Dear Friend,

If it is to be lived with purpose, life is a delicate balancing act of body and soul, heaven and earth. It requires two feet firmly upon the ground and a clear head high up in the air. Only then are you the master.

In a rush, you are not in control of your world—the world is in control of you. Place your foot gently on the brakes, slow down, switch gears from madness to mind. Reclaim mastery.

… copied

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Fragrance is a gift of God, as long as it comes from nature, e.g. a rose, a broken egg, the seashore, a fart, a lemon, a thunderstorm, a mint leaf, a freshly plowed field, or freshly mown hay, and those fragrances never do us harm.  But then synthetically manufactured “fragrances” also pervade our home and personal care products, e.g. SC Johnson’s Pledge Lemon Clean Furniture Spray, which ingredients include “fragrance”:  butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT); citral; citronellal; citronellol; dipropylene glycol; geraniol; nerol; p-mentha-1,4-diene; terpenes and terpenoids, lemon-oil; terpenes and terpenoids, sweet orange-oil.  And Avon’s Senses Vanilla Body Lotion contains “Parfum/Fragrance” in its list of 24 ingredients plus water. (But what is in that Parfum/Fragrance?  Not a word.)

Many if not most home and personal care products contain “fragrance,” including sunscreen, shampoo, soap, body wash, deodorant, dryer sheets, air fresheners, fabric softeners, cleaning products, scented candles, body lotion, makeup, facial cream, skin toner, serums, exfoliating scrubs and perfume.1 Fragrance is defined by the FDA as a combination of chemicals that gives each perfume or cologne (including those used in other products) its distinct scent.

Dozens of children’s bath products have been found to contain chemicals that cause cancer in lab animals and are classified as probable human carcinogens. The companies argue that each product contains just low levels of these toxins—but there shouldn’t be any carcinogens in baby shampoo at all. Period.

When manufacturers list ingredients of a product, they may use the term “fragrance,” a term  entirely free of government oversight and safety regulations, which means that when you see “fragrance” on a product label, it does not refer to a single ingredient, but likely dozens of chemicals in combination.  Those chemicals may be natural, but not usually, or more predominantly petrochemically derived, e.g. benzene derivatives, aldehydes and phthalates.

The United States Environmental Protection Agency classifies benzene as a Class A carcinogen.2  One of the aldehydes, formaldehyde is classified by OSHA as a human carcinogen. Short-term exposure to formaldehyde can be fatal. Long-term exposure to low levels of formaldehyde may cause respiratory difficulty, eczema, and sensitization.  As CBS reported, “Phthalates are so ubiquitous, we all have traces in our bodies.  … The Environmental Protection Agency, EPA, put phthalates on a list of chemicals that ‘may present a risk’ to the environment or human health. That’s because they disrupt hormone activity and some preliminary studies show that they may be causing a slow and steady demasculinizing of men.”

If we purchase a product that lists fragrance as one of the ingredients, we have no way of knowing how many chemicals reside within, or how those chemicals might interact with each other. Many of the chemicals are increasingly linked to chronic health conditions.

The International Fragrance Association (IFRA) lists 3,059 materials that are reported as being used in fragrance compounds. Of these 3,059 ingredients, some have evidence linking them to health effects including cancer, reproductive toxicity, allergies and sensitivities.  Of these, the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics lists 23 by common name that are of health concerns. (Under Health Concerns, click on More)  That site is also informative on the problem of fragrance in home and health care products.

You may be surprised to know that legislation put in place in the U.S. in 1976 — a measure called the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) — has perhaps done more harm than good in terms of regulating the chemicals used in products that you use daily.  Notably,

  • TSCA grandfathered in some 80,000 chemicals that are ready available and can be easily incorporated into all kinds of consumer products manufactured and sold in the U.S.
  • Certain substances are generally excluded from TSCA, including, among others, food, drugs, cosmetics and pesticides.

So, what can we do to protect ourselves from Big Fragrance Brothers and our government who are failing to regulate them?

  1. Read the label!  If the ingredients include fragrance, perfume, or parfum, leave it on the shelf or discard it if it is already in our home.
  2. Opt for Fragrance Free on the label. Unscented or Scent Free may well include fragrance to cover up odors.
  3. Evaluate a proposed product against the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep Cosmetic database, by product, ingredient or company
  4. Find safer alternatives.
  5. Read the myths on cosmetics safety.
  6. Take time to read what I’ve written here.
  7. Watch Annie Leonard’s The Story of Cosmetics or read the annotated script.
  8. Download the Think Dirty® app to your phone.  Scan the product barcode in your bathroom or store, and Think Dirty will give you easy-to-understand info on the product, its ingredients, and shop cleaner options!
  9. Question yourself, “Do I really need this product?”  “Might my health be better without it?”
  10. Forward this blog to those you love.
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Why the End of the Two-State Solution is the Beginning of Peace

The so-called Two-State Solution to Jewish-Arab conflict in Israel has been around since at least 1947.  Israel has many times agreed to such, while Arabs have refused, while stating their intentions to wipe Israel off the map.  Result: Pull the discussion off the table.

Israel and the world have grown weary of continually hearing the two-state solution, so emptily proposed.  Increasingly of late, instead, Israeli Sovereignty over Judea, Samaria and the Jordan Valley is gaining support from a widening variety of citizens, scholars, politicians, thinkers, clergy of all religions, and even Arabs.

Now Professor Martin Slann explains how cessation of further pursuit of the two-state solution is a breath of fresh air, the beginning of peace.  Dr Slann is Dean, Department of Political Science and History, University of Texas at Tyler, and is an expert student of Middle Eastern affairs.

He writes:

Why the End of the Two-State Solution is the Beginning of Peacemartin-slann

Martin Slann

“The recently concluded summit between President Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu was a refreshing change from the misery the Obama Administration attempted, usually without success, to inflict on Israel.  Trump understands that Netanyahu’s first priority is the security of his country and its continued presence on the map.  Obama and Secretaries of State Clinton and Kerry were persuaded that  only an Israeli decision to commit national suicide would guarantee justice for the so-called Palestinians as well as peace throughout the region and even trigger an end to the plague of Islamic terrorism.

“Kerry had insisted that time and demography were working against Israel and that, in the near future, Israeli Jews would be outnumbered by the Arabs of Israel, Judea and Samaria, and Gaza.  Better, he argued, to make a deal while it’s still possible.  As usual, Kerry was wrong.  The numbers he was using were inaccurate and had been distorted by the Palestinian Authority’s census bureau.  The Jewish birthrate is at least equal to the Arab one in all of these areas and has been for several years; moreover, Arabs are leaving Judea and Samaria in significant numbers each year, mostly to Europe or to other Arab countries.  Their future under a corrupt Palestinian Authority or the Hamas death cult is bleak.  Interestingly, Israeli Arabs aren’t going anywhere.  And why should they?  Israel is the home of the only Arab middle class anywhere in the region where the rule of law applies rather than the whim of a military dictator or the pronouncements of an unhinged religious fanatic.

“In the meantime, the ridiculous notion that Israel couldn’t be both democratic and Jewish has also been revealed as nonsense, Israel has been a parliamentary democracy for nearly seven decades.  Its non-Jewish citizens, Druse, Christians, and even some Muslims are voluntarily joining the Israeli military in record numbers because more and more of them are concluding that Israel is their country too.  This is good news.  Israel is the strongest economic, political, and military American ally in the Middle East.  The Obama Administration didn’t know this or, if it did, didn’t care.  Its foreign policy was based on reaching out only to those who despise the United States and are working for its downfall.  The Iranian nuclear treaty (which the Trump people are working to dismantle) is the best case in point.

“Best of all, there is a recognition that proposals for a two-state solution are deservedly are increasingly ignored.  The knife-jihad and the car-ramming jihad have convinced most Israelis, even those on the left, that Arabs occupying parts of Judea and Samaria don’t want peace with Israel regardless of how many concessions they receive.  They merely want all Israelis dead.  Four generations of institutionalized hatred perpetrated by the Palestinian media, schools, and Islamic clergy and the glorification of destruction have made the two-state solution an impossible eventuality.  Israeli children are encouraged by their parents to become engineers, teachers, and physicians while their Palestinian counterparts are constantly exposed to the spiritually fulfilling opportunity of martyrdom.

“Even Arabs should be happy that the two-state solution is gone.  It may just get them to focus on all the wasted years they’ve accumulated and begin to comprehend that their future doesn’t have to be as self-defeating and wasted as the past.  A lot of Israeli and foreign businesses are waiting to build the economic infrastructure in Arab areas in Judea and Samaria.  All that Arabs must do for that to happen is to rid themselves of hate and a thirst for ‘vengeance.’

February, 2017, #11

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Why Muslims back Trump on radical Islam

By    [I just discovered this lady, and am impressed by what I read at  and at @ShireenQudosi.  If you tweet, I suggest that you follow her (and @JihadWatch, and @PamelaGeller and Robert Spencer via @JihadWatchRS).   And if you don’t tweet, I suggest you start, an alternative way of learning.  Any youngster can show you how. 🙂 Jerry]

Is Trump’s Muslim ban strategy necessary to defeat terror?  Fox News

One week into his new administration President Trump has shown the American people that while he lacks the silver tongue of a statesman, he more than makes up for it with the decisiveness of a businessman.

This week, President Trump signed executive orders on building the border wall in a sweeping move that also targets sanctuary cities. Another executive order aims to stop the flow of immigration from seven red-flag states including Syria, which will curtail the acceptance of Syrian refugees. Some would argue that the order doesn’t go far enough to include terror-manufacturing states like the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. However, it does strategically target the greatest security gap: infiltration through the U.S. Refugee Resettlement Program. A program directed by emotion in the past, the initiative fails to look at two key elements:

First, does this type of immigration benefit America?

And second, does it consider the big picture?

The big picture is that refugee plight is a vehicle for radical Islamic terrorists who easily infiltrate the stream of hard-to-vet victims of war.

Immigration, until President Trump’s executive order, was arguably the largest security blind spot for America to date.

President Trump’s security-driven agenda in the first week is a move welcomed by Muslims both domestically and abroad, many of whom have the same security concerns against growing Islamic extremism as Americans.

When I talked about this with Pakistani-American activist Ali Abbas Taj, he stressed the need for the administration to push further by focusing on the underlying extremist groups: Salafis from the Middle East and Deobandis from South Asia.

The focus on these two groups will help the administration avoid over-simplification under the banner of radical Islam.

Ali says, “We cannot win by making 2 billion Muslims our enemy through broad-brushing radical Islam. Only the extremists within these sub-sects [of Deobandis and Salafis] must be destroyed. We cannot destroy 2 billion Muslims.”

Being swept aside in the tide of policy or directly attacked by extremists themselves is a widespread worry that many other Muslims have (but don’t often publicly admit). Many American Muslims realize they’re on a fast-track to their own deportation process if the country doesn’t start taking radical Islam seriously.

Take Fatima, for example, a North American-Muslim woman, who welcomes a crackdown on domestic terrorism.

In a message exchange with me, Fatima confides, “Between extreme vetting and increased surveillance of mosques and monitoring the funding of mosques and organizations like CAIR, [these efforts] will help curb extremists and extremist ideas.”

And she poignantly adds, “This administration should be able to fight Islamic extremism without vilifying all Muslims.”

In London, Shaaz Mahboob manages the Facebook page British Muslims for Secular Democracy.

A Trump supporter, Mahboob is confident President Trump can navigate the minefield of radical Islam in part through strategic alliances with pro-reform Muslims.

He also calls for excluding Islamists from the conversation, which was a tactic practiced by the Obama administration for the last 8 years.

Islamists, aided by the Obama administration, were able to completely push out pro-reform Muslims from the national dialogue.

For Mahboob, it’s simple: “[It’s] time to play Islamists at their own game and beat them by isolating them.”

There is an undercurrent of support from Muslims for the newly elected president. Even those Muslims who couldn’t vote for Trump, but who are engaged with the problem of radical Islam, feel President Trump can act as a megaphone for their voice.

Empowered by a high caliber cabinet, the new administration should expand on the immigration policy with a crackdown on domestic targets. The first step would be to strike with precision at the problem by partnering with pro-reform Muslim allies.

Shireen Qudosi is a Muslim reformer and a Senior Contributor at CounterJihad.  She is working on her first book, “Islam’s Original  Story.” Follow her on Twitter @ShireenQudosi.

 

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Success

Success is when you look back at your life and the memories make you smile.

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Islam’s Iron Curtain

The Iron Curtain was the ideological conflict and physical boundary dividing Europe into two separate areas from the end of World War II in 1945 until the end of the Cold War in 1991.  Now Professor Martin Slann warns of another, insidious one, Islam’s Iron Curtain.  Dr Slann is Dean, Department of Political Science and History, University of Texas at Tyler, and is an expert student of Middle Eastern affairs.

He writes:

Islam’s Iron Curtainmartin-slann

Martin Slann

“Similar to communism, Islam is a totalitarian system that is characterized by a secret and very intrusive police force, economic stagnation, numerous lethal punishments for activities that the state perceives as subversive, and the brutality or even genocide visited on ethnic or religious minorities.  However, unlike communism, Islam has been able to establish statelets in what until recent decades had been thriving democracies.  These are mostly in Europe, but are slowly emerging in North America as well.  The United Kingdom currently has over 80 religious councils that adjudicate disputes on the basis of sharia law, the barbaric and violent code that is mostly based on the rantings of the seventh century pedophilic and murderous founder of Islam.

“The argument on behalf of sharia is that Muslims, because they are special, must govern themselves according to the indisputable and changeless laws of Allah.  Anyone who opposes this rather primitive doctrine is an islamophobe and a hate-filled bigot.  In practice, all of this means that Muslim men get to slap their wives around as much as they like, get to “marry” girls well under the age of 15, and even to commit “honor” killings of disobedient daughters who refuse to wear the hijab.  These atrocities are perfectly fine with the politically correct gang of liberals and progressives who keep running around condemning western civilization for its egregious history of imperialism and slavery.

“Even worse, though, is that liberals are as intolerant of criticism of Islamic practices as they are condemnatory of the Judeo-Christian tradition.  This is why courageous democratic leaders such as Geert Wilders in the Netherlands can be placed on trial for hate speech because he suggested that his country should stop importing Muslims, mostly from Morocco, and immediately signing them up for state welfare and subsidized housing.  After all, a Muslim man with four wives and a couple dozen children has a lot more important things to do than look for a job.  What was Wilders thinking?

“Don’t believe for a moment that feminists or liberals will even hint that this is at all wrong.  For them it isn’t:  it’s merely payback for the years of oppression by a privileged white male dominant class that has oppressed women for centuries and exploited Islamic countries in the Middle East for their oil.  Giulio Meotti, an Italian journalist, has written that we are witnessing the “sanctimony of liberal censorship.”  Condemn Christianity and Judaism while giving a pass to Islam.  The only hate speech that upsets liberals in Germany, for example, is the outrageous suggestion that Muslim men should accept German social norms and stop raping young German women and defecating in public pools.

“This is the Islamic iron curtain:  the closure of free speech when it comes to Islam and Muslims. [Emphasis mine. JRL] The new Muslim mayor of London, for example, has declared that sharia is perfectly compatible with English Common Law.  The mayor is lying, of course, but elements of the extremist Labor Party agree and support his contention.  We’ve seen this mess before.  After all, The New York Times during the 1930s sent reporters to the Soviet Union to report on the wonderful new society being built by the great humanitarian, Joseph Stalin.  While millions of Soviet citizens starved to death on collective farms that produced between nothing and very little, the Times reported that Soviet agriculture was setting record levels of wheat and corn production on collective farms.

“Establishing and sustaining an iron curtain is as dependent on self-hating liberals and cowards as much as it is on the thugs who build it.  Thirty years ago President Reagan told Mikhail Gorbachev to “tear down this [Berlin] Wall.”  Perhaps it’s time for President-elect Trump to tell Muslims to tear down their own walls that are built on the hate and fear of sharia law.  By the way, the Berlin Wall came down soon after Reagan issued his demand.

December 12, 2016, #10

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Heroes and Leaders

This Wednesday marks the 75th anniversary of Pearl Harbor, 7 December 1941.  Visitors there often board the now decommissioned and famed Battleship Missouri.

Forgotten Hero “In April of 1945, Captain William Callaghan and the USS Missourimissouri-bridge were attacked by a kamikaze pilot intent on destroying all on board. His attack failed, and Callaghan stood up to his men to bury the enemy.”

“Missouri’s commissioning in 1944 illustrated the two years [after Pearl Harbor] it took to mobilize American industrial might and military prowess. Reflecting the cultural conflict that intensified the Japan hatred, on October 25, 1944, the Japanese launched the first of what would be 1321 kamikaze missions. To Americans, the kamikaze—also known as Tokkotai, short for “Special Attack Unit”—confirmed that the struggle pitted fanatic “men who want to die” against democratic “men who fight to live.”

[Reminds me of the current Islamic fanatics against the world. Jerry]

“The Pacific was particularly tense in April, 1945, as the 82-day Battle of Okinawa began. In the first four weeks, the Japanese would sink twenty American ships. On April 6, five kamikazes crashed into the USS Newcomb. Flames catapulted 1000 feet into the air. Ninety-one sailors were killed or wounded.

“Missouri’s commander Callaghan, a 47-year-old San Francisco native and devout Catholic, was raised in a culture devoted to the Navy’s unofficial motto Non sibi sed patriae, not for self but for country. Callaghan and his family had already sacrificed. A Japanese shell had killed his older brother, Rear Admiral Daniel Callaghan, while standing on the bridge of his ship, the U.S.S. San Francisco, on November 13, 1942. Dan Callaghan was buried at sea.

“Suddenly, at 2:42 PM on April 11, 1945, the terrifying buzzzzz of a kamikaze pilot pierced through the usual racket 2,700 Missouri crew members generated. As the ship’s guns fired away, the pilot – probably 19-year-old Setsuo Ishino – descended with the dreaded death dive – intending to detonate the 500-pound bomb attached to his Mitsbushi-made, ultra-manueverable, A6M5c Zero fighter plane.

“Even as antiaircraft fire hit the plane, the plane hit the ship. The ship’s baker, Len Schmidt, captured the terrifying millisecond right before impact on camera. An explosion could have killed hundreds. Instead, what foxhole converts call a miracle – historians call it wartime’s dumb luck – intervened: the bomb fell off the plane before impact. The hit barely made a dent, although it did start a gasoline fire. The Japanese pilot was the only casualty. Half his body fragmented, scattering on deck; the other half sank into the sea with his plane.

“With the special fury sitting-duck sailors expressed for these flying suicide bombers, crew members prepared to wash their enemy’s body into the sea. Then in a decisive, life-defining, incredibly decent move, Captain Callaghan said “No.” He decided to see past the fearsome façade, and honor the fearlessness—and fealty—this boy demonstrated. Callaghan ordered that the body be brought to sick bay “and we’ll have a burial for him tomorrow.”

“Crew members were furious, then offended when Callaghan ordered one shipmate to sew a Japanese flag, even if it took him all night. Callaghan treated this young man as “a fellow warrior who had displayed courage and devotion, and who had paid the ultimate sacrifice with his life, fighting for his country”—just as Dan Callaghan and so many others had. The next day, Callaghan would explain via the ship’s sound system that they were honoring a shared sense of duty, honor, and sacrifice with a fellow warrior.

“The ship’s chaplain officiated as six pallbearers slid the body into the sea. The sailors saluted, and a round of rifle fire honored this then-unknown soldier. Callaghan reprimanded whoever hesitated to stand at attention, barking through his bullhorn: “This is a military ceremony as required by the Articles for the government of the USN [US Navy].”

“Some sailors remained bitter, but, one recalled, “the honorable thing was done.” Decades later, amid a joint ceremony on Missouri, Junko Kamata, whose uncle was a kamikaze pilot killed during the Battle of Okinawa, would hail Captain Callaghan’s “humanitarian consideration for kamikaze soldiers.”

“Leadership counts. Noble leaders can stretch us, just as demagogues debase us. [emphasis mine. Jerry] Ennobled by their captain, the sailors quickly shifted from resistance to acceptance to pride. [Would that the media, pundits and sore losers would do likewise.]

“Timing counts too. Franklin Roosevelt died that day. FDR’s death didn’t diminish Callaghan’s heroism but did limit his fame.

“Still, the story became part of the legend of the mighty Missouri, the historic ship that hosted General Douglas MacArthur for the Japanese surrender months later, then fought in Korea and even launched powerful Cruise Missile barrages in the 1990 Persian Gulf War. Callaghan’s magnanimity turned this hulking 887.2 foot by 108.2 foot mass destruction machine into a dove of peace.

“This battleship’s unlikely moonlighting career makes it a fitting symbol during this brittle, Trump transition. Seventy-one years ago, Captain Callaghan transcended the American-Japanese chasm to recognize a common humanity, a defining patriotism, a shared idealism in this potential killer who, ultimately, was just a dead kid. Americans today have a narrower blue-red, Clinton-Trump divide to transcend. By recognizing our common national values and interests we too can stretch William Callaghan-style, quash our baser impulses, and start healing.

[Time for the couch potatoes, egoists, narcissists, and psychological infants to realize that the (deplorable :-)) patriots who saved them and this country from themselves have done them and the world one huge favor. Jerry]

cap-make-america-great-again

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President Trump? Yes!

Arutz Sheva 9 November 2016

President Trump? Yes!

"I will be president for all Americans."

“I will be president for all Americans.”

He caught the rhythm of America, he heard America singing.

Jack Engelhard

Politically speaking, he came from out of nowhere. He came with a New York swagger. He needed it to bulldoze past smooth-talking politicians from his own Party and to rough-ride over the Clinton Colossus that included the news media that had it in for him from the start.

Campaigning, he was not subtle. He was not smooth, but he caught the rhythm of America, the America that felt lost and forgotten by Obama, and that was positively disdained by Hillary Clinton who called his followers, nearly half the country “a basket of deplorables.”

Her “let them eat cake” smirk went over poorly compared to his plain-speak message aimed at the middle class, which is where most Americans live.

He spoke too plainly? Yes, he did. But New York is his kind of town and America is his kind of country. He speaks our language.

Trump got the drift. That’s how we talk. That’s how we think. We are not Sweden. We are not Germany. We are not Europeans.

We play rough. But we play fair. It was never fair for Trump. The New York Times and the rest of them gave Hillary Clinton every boost imaginable.

They hid all her sins and never gave him a chance. He was an underdog from the start.

But Americans love the underdog and proved it by their votes.

Trump is a man of steak and caviar. But he addressed the country through the language of bread and butter, the cadence of meat and potatoes.

This was no JFK “new frontier” for Trump, nor was it Reagan’s “morning in America” for Trump
Trump caught the mood of a nation in distress, a nation tottering from hyper liberalism that divided the country along the lines of race, religion and gender.
Too late for those terms after the trauma of the Obama/Clinton years — divisiveness at home and failures overseas. This is evening in America.

Trump caught the mood of a nation in distress, a nation tottering from hyper liberalism that divided the country along the lines of race, religion and gender.

He was never articulate in the classic sense. No, he spoke his mind. Liberals ran to their safe spaces. The rest of America cheered his boldness.

Yes – New York swagger that brings with it the ethnic even Yiddish accents of the streets. Yes he will be kosher for Israel.

No one within the Establishment did him any favors. He did it all on his own. He did not count on luck but he was lucky in one respect – his opponent Hillary Clinton was not well liked. Forget the scandals. Besides that she had no warmth, no charm, no wit, no wisdom. She was not a commanding presence like Margaret Thatcher, nor was she motherly like Golda Meir.

Still, from the outset, Hillary Clinton was the sure thing going into the race.

But judging from her past performance chart, we were assured four more years of absolute corruption and wall-to-wall investigations.

Voting is no different from betting. It’s all the same. It’s a wager. With Clinton, we knew the score.

With Trump, we don’t.

So America took a chance. In God We Trust that we picked a true champion.

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The Sleepwalkers and Mr Trump

By David P. Goldman, Asia Times

November 5, 2016

Contrary to conventional wisdom, the world should hope for the
election of Donald Trump next Tuesday.  American policy has become a
fetid morass in which ideology and influence-peddling jointly serve to
insulate its leaders from the real world.  It is not simply that
America’s leaders are out of touch, but that they are in continuous
touch with a fictitious construct of the world that excludes the
possibility of policy course correction.

America’s policy elites are sleepwalkers, in the way that historian

Sir Christopher Munro "Chris" Clark is an Australian historian working in England. He is the twenty-second Regius Professor of History at the University of Cambridge. In 2015 he was knighted for his services to Anglo-German relations.

Sir Christopher Munro “Chris” Clark is an Australian historian working in England. He is the twenty-second Regius Professor of History at the University of Cambridge. In 2015 he was knighted for his services to Anglo-German relations.

Christopher Clark described Europe’s leaders in August 1914 on the eve of the First World War.  Five years and 500,000 corpses after the disastrous “Arab Spring” and the Libyan coup of 2011, the American elite still does not understand that today’s chaos in the Middle East is borne of American meddling. President Obama, Secretary of State Clinton, and the McCain mainstream of the Republican Party passionately believed that the Arab world had broken free of its tyrannical past and was en route to democracy. By destroying the old dictatorships, the United States simply opened the field to ethnic and sectarian war. Syria is in civil war, Iraq is close to it, and even Turkey is at risk.

Consider the excoriation of Trump by General Michael Hayden, director of the CIA during 2006-2009. Hayden denounced Trump as “Putin’s useful fool” in a Washington Post op-ed this week, writing that “Trump also echoes Putin when it comes to Syria and the Islamic State, or ISIS. Here he follows the Moscow line that we and the Russians have common purpose and that Russia and Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad (and Iran) are “killing ISIS.”

“Actually, they are not,” Hayden continues. “They are bucking up the
Assad regime that, if anyone is keeping score, has killed more
innocents than the Islamic State and Jabhat al-Nusra, the al-Qaeda
affiliate, have combined. And the attractiveness of the Islamic State
and al-Qaeda to Sunni Muslims is a direct byproduct of the
depredations of the Assad regime — the regime that Russia saved from
collapse a year ago.”

All of this is delusional. The reason Sunni Arabs supported the
Islamic State is that the United States destroyed the only Sunni Arab
state in the Levant and Mesopotamia, namely Iraq, and imposed a
Shi’ite state (under Nouri Maliki) in 2007. The Sunnis revolted, and
the American occupation under General Petraeus paid them hundreds of
millions of dollars to bide their time. After years in which the Sunni
opposition took the form of a non-state actor, namely al-Qaeda, ISIS
declared that it was time to form a Sunni state, and made itself a
magnet for Sunni support.

The Shi’ite militias led by Iranian officers whom the United States
states backs against ISIS are just as brutal as ISIS itself. That is
how confessional war is conducted in that part of the world. The
“moderate Sunni Islamists” whom General Hayden and his successors at
CIA armed from the Libyan stockpiles always were al-Qaeda with an
alternate business card.

As I noted Aug. 9, General Hayden still believes that the United
States should encourage Islamists like the Muslim Brotherhood to
exercise power in the Middle East. He told me last year that he was
disappointed that the Egyptian military had overthrown the Muslim
Brotherhood government of Mohamed Morsi before it had a chance to
devote itself to trash removal and other public services and
transformed itself into a moderate political force. By arming
“moderate” jihadists, Hayden and his CIA colleagues poured gasoline on
the sectarian fires of the region. Major-General Daniel P. Bolger
detailed the disaster in an excellent war memoir, Why We Lost,
published in 2014.

It was obvious to anyone with an ear to the ground that Sunni
insurgents would rally to the call of an Islamic State. General
Michael Flynn, a career officer and lifelong Democrat who headed
Defense Intelligence Agency during 2011 and 2012, tried to warn the
Obama Administration that ISIS had become a major threat. His reports
were ignored. As Flynn reported later, “I think they did not meet a
particular narrative that the White House needed.”

Flynn is now Donald Trump’s main national security adviser, and his
views are on the record in a 2016 book co-authored by Michael Ledeen.
Flynn evinces no sympathy for Russia; on the contrary, he emphasizes
Russia’s support for Iran as evidence of its ideological affinity to
the Islamic Republic: “It’s the old nostrum: The enemy of my enemy is
my friend. Putin has declared the United States (and NATO generally)
to be a national security threat to Russia, and ‘Death to America’ is
the official chant of the Islamic Republic of Iran. Both the Putinists
and the radical Iranian Muslims agree on the identity of their main
enemy. Hence, one part of the answer is surely that their alliance is
simply the logical outgrowth of their hostility toward America. … The
Russians and Iranians have more in common than a shared enemy. There
is also a shared contempt for democracy and an agreement — by all the
members of the enemy alliance — that dictatorship is a superior way to
run a country, an empire, or a caliphate.”

This seems to me too simple. Russia (like China) has no Shi’ite Muslim
population; its concerns for domestic stability arise entirely from
Sunnis. The Shia are a natural ally, despite the fact (as Flynn and
Ledeen note) that Iran has tried to make inroads among Russian and
Central Asian Muslims. These were feeble and ineffective. To be quite
fair to Putin, America’s blundering about the Middle East let the
Sunni jinn out of the bottle that Saddam Hussein long had contained,
and that is a threat to Russian interests. America’s errors forced
Russia to take a major role in the region, whether Putin wants to
undermine the United States or not. That is how Putin has explained
his stance to foreign leaders with whom I have spoken. Russia has not
forgotten how effective was America’s support for jihadists during the
Afghanistan war of the 1980s. If Washington wanted to destabilize
Russia, Sunni militants would be an effective instrument of
subversion. To do so would be foolish and dangerous, in my view, but
Moscow cannot rule out the possibility that the United States might do
so at some time in the future (I do not think the Obama administration
had any such thing in mind).

Putin also believes that Washington supported the February 2014 Maidan
coup in the Ukraine with an eye towards eventual regime change in
Russia. I do not know whether his assessment is correct, but the
thought did cross the mind of some people in Washington.

Moscow has a number of practical reasons to make life miserable for
the United States, quite apart from Putin’s ideological proclivities.
Sadly, it has extensive means to do so. While the United States spent
perhaps US$5 trillion in Iraq, Afghanistan and associated adventures,
Moscow invested far smaller sums in air-defense systems that may be
able to down American fifth generation fighters. Washington does not
know how good the S-300 and S-400 surface-to-air missile system is,
and does not want to find out.

So comprehensive was their incompetence that it is hard to find a
senior official of the George W. Bush or Obama administrations who was
not mired in it. General Flynn, who was fired for challenging the
official fairy-tale, is an exception. For the most part, America’s
foreign policy elite has chosen to eschew responsibility for its
blunders. Their reputations would be safe with Hillary Clinton, who
after all is one of them. The circle of self-protection is drawn so
closely that nothing short of an outsider with nothing to lose by the
humiliation of the old guard could restore a modicum of competence to
American policy.

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FBI’s James Comey Seeks Redemption With New Clinton Probe

A former law enforcement officer friend said earlier, “I KNEW that many senior level, career FBI agents, who love the agency and our country, would be in REVOLT against Director James Comey for what he did in July.  Apparently, I was right.”

I hope Comey does not end up dead, as Vince Foster did.  I don’t trust “The lie that is Hillary.”  Jerry

See also ‘Almost 100’ Agents Threatened to Quit Over Clinton Email Probe

FBI’s James Comey Seeks Redemption With New Clinton Probe

 Jack Davis

Despite laying out a clear case that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had been “extremely careless” with classified information on a private email server, FBI Director James Comey has appeared to be a rock, never budging in his decision to not recommend an indictment of Clinton.

However, according to author Ed Klein, Comey has been suffering from the wounds he has since come to realize he inflicted on his agency.

In a column for the Daily Mail, Klein portrayed Comey’s decision to inform Congress about the new phase of the FBI’s investigation into the Democratic presidential candidate as his chance at professional redemption. Friday, Comey told Congress the investigation was reopened due to newly discovered evidence. That evidence has since been revealed to be 650,000 emails found on the computer of disgraced ex-Congressman Anthony Weiner, the estranged husband of top Clinton aide Huma Abedin.

Klein said that the July announcement that Clinton would not be indicted proved to be a watershed moment for Comey.

“The atmosphere at the FBI has been toxic ever since Jim announced last July that he wouldn’t recommend an indictment against Hillary,” Klein wrote, quoting a source close to Comey.

“Some people, including department heads, stopped talking to Jim, and even ignored his greetings when they passed him in the hall,” Klein quoted the source as saying. “They felt that he betrayed them and brought disgrace on the bureau by letting Hillary off with a slap on the wrist.”

As Comey defended the FBI in public, in private he was dealing with agents who were quitting the agency due to the results of the Clinton probe.

“He’s been ignoring the resignation letters in the hope that he could find a way of remedying the situation,” said the source, saying that Comey “jumped at the excuse to reopen the investigation.”

“He talks about the damage that he’s done to himself and the institution (the FBI), and how he’s been shunned by the men and women who he admires and work for him. It’s taken a tremendous toll on him,” Klein quoted the source as saying. “It shattered his ego. He looks like he’s aged 10 years in the past four months.”

Comey went against the will of Attorney General Loretta Lynch in sharing with Congress the fact that the Clinton probe was alive once again.

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