The Great Jack Benny and the Jews via Quintessential Entertainment Critic, Terry Teachout

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(I love this letter. It makes me kvell) jsk

From: Letters to the Editor

COMMENTARY, December 2017

To the Editor:

TERRY Teachout’s piece, (“Jack Benny’s Comic Program in October COMMENTARY), is a gem and virtually all of his points are well taken. I know better than to try and compete with Mr. Teachout in almost any field of culture criticism. But, I have been a life-long addict of Benny’s radio program and therefore offer a few additional insights.

Mr. Teachout comments that Benny never referred to explicitly being Jewish on the air. This was also true, for example, of his pals George Burns and Eddie Cantor, as of many others in an era in which comedy was dominated by recently arrived Jews who portrayed themselves as quintessential Americans.

On their programs, many even celebrated Christmas and Easter. But I believe that Benny gave anyone with a good antenna a recurrent signal of how proud he was of his Eastern European Jewish identity.

On a fairly high percentage of his radio shows, Benny would run into a Jew with a thick Yiddish accent named Mr. Kitzel, (I loved Mr. Kitzel. The name alone makes me giggle) played by an actor named Artie Auerbach.

Mr. Kitzel came in various guises: Selling hot dogs ‘wit da pickle in da middle an’ da mustard on da top” was a particular favorite.

He regaled Benny with stories of his stereo-typical Jewish family in dialogue with the regular members of his cast and with virtually everyone he chanced upon during the program.

Benny always played annoyed, dissatisfied, angry, petty, and tense. But when Mr. Kitzel popped up, always unexpectedly, Benny greeted him with pure joy, loudly calling out ‘MR.KITZEL!” with equal emphasis on both parts of his name.

He listened with adoring curiosity to Mr. Kitzel’s preposterous stories, never argued with anything Mr. Kitzel said and showed sincere love and affection that no other character on the show ever received. My theory is that this was Benny’s way of communicating to those who cared that he knew who he really was and was thrilled by it.

Mr. Teachout describes the regular cast as talented and he is right. Dennis Day was a world-class Irish tenor, Phil Harris was a good band leader and Don Wilson was in a class with the best of that genre of mellifluous announcers who read the sponsor commercials and introduced and concluded the show.

Mr. Teachout points out that Benny was happy to give them the best laugh lines. I would make an additional point. None of these characters had anything resembling great  comic talent. But when Benny interacted with them, they turned into some of the funniest characters ever on radio.

Mr. Teachout touches upon the unusual way in which understanding and appreciation of Benny’s humor increased with the duration of the listener’s experience. Indeed, I think that Johnny Carson, who was obsessed with Jack Benny and proudly borrowed some of Benny’s signature mannerisms, hit the nail on the head when he said that a serious comprehension of The Jack Benny Program required five years of listener experience.

I agree with Mr. Teachout that radio was Benny’s best medium. The TV show all too frequently consisted of Benny in conversation with a celebrity guest. But even when the regular cast was assembled for a sitcom, the TV show was rarely at the level of the radio show.

I urge Mr. Teachout to do one of his wonderful pieces on Jack’s best friend, George Bums. (I do too)

Richard Stone
New York City

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There Are Settlements and Settlements www.israelnationalnews.com

For anyone interested in a “Peace Process” between Israel and the Arabs.

https://www.israelnationalnews.com/Articles/Article.aspx/13420

 

And in case you missed this High Holiday “gut-read” about the basics to the Arab-Israeli conflict (again, lots of material you’ve probably ain’t seen in other sources)?https://www.israelnationalnews.com/Articles/Article.aspx/21068

All my best for the new year,

Jerry

***** Copies of this very timely, beautiful, hardback, validly-documented to the ex-planet Pluto, and personalized book (in universities all over the world so far for assorted uses),  http://q4j-middle-east.com , can be obtained via Honigman6@msn.com and non-personalized via the usual outlets

 

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Haftorah portion of the week: Hashem tells Jacob, Not to Worry.

Israel Commentary

Haftorah portion of the week: Hashem tells Jacob, Not to Worry.
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16: “And, you son of man, take a piece of wood and write on it: ‘For Yehudah and his fellow Israelites,’ and take another stick and write on it: ‘For Yosef and his son Efrayim (and the other tribes) the whole house of Israel with him’

17 “Bring them close to one another, so they (resemble) one stick and they will (miraculously) join in your hands to be one

18 “When your people say to you, ‘Tell us what these mean to you.

19 Say to them, Almighty God says, Observe! I am taking the stick of Yosef which is in Efrayim’s hand, and the tribes of Israel with him, and I am placing the stick of Yehudah on it. I will make them one stick and they will join in My hand.”
20 The sticks on which you have written should be in your hands before their eyes.”

21 “While you are holding the sticks tell them, ‘This is what Almighty God said “I wiIl take the Jews from among nations where they have gone. I will gather them from (all) around and bring them to their Land.
22 I will make them one nation in the Land, in the hills of Israei, and all of them will have one king. They will no longer be two nations (of Yehudah and the other tribes), and wiIl no longer be divided into two kingdoms.
23 They wiIl no longer be defiled by their idols, their abominations and all their sins. I will save them (from where they are lost) in all the communities where they sinned, and I will purify them (from their sins). They will be My people (who believe in Me and observe my mitzvos), and I will be their God (to save them and help them).”
24 “My servant (Mashiach, a descendant of David, will be king over them and they will aIl have one shepherd. They will follow My laws and guard my statues in their hearts), and fulfill them.

25 They will settle in the Land that I gave to my servant Yaakov, the Land where their ancestors lived. They and their children and their grandchildren will live there forever and David my servant will be their leader forever.”

26 “I will make a covenant of peace with them, and it will be an eternal covenant withe them. I will establish them there forever and cause them to multiply, and I will place My Sanctuary among them (so it stands) forever.

27 My Divine Presence will be among them. I will be their God (to help them and save them), and they will be My people (to believe in Me and keep My mitzvos).”

28 “The nations will know that I am God Who sanctifies Israel, since My Sanctuary will be among them forever “

(PS  And, a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all our Christian friends who we thank for all their crucial support from the bottom of our hearts.) jsk

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18 reasons why Jerusalem is our capital by Dr. Yitschak Ben-Gad

The Palestinians’ demand that East Jerusalem should be their capital is absurd and based on false claims.

Reading Arab and Moslem sources proves that the Arabs, not to mention the Palestinians, have never claimed that Jerusalem is their capital.

The Jordanians occupied Jerusalem for 19 years (1948 – 1967). They never once claimed that Jerusalem was their capital. Amman is and has always been their capital.

The PLO was established in 1964. The goal was to fight Israel, not to achieve a state in Judea and Samaria. The PLO never mentioned Jerusalem as their capital.

While the Arabs have no serious roots in Jerusalem, Jewish sources prove again and again that Jerusalem has always been their dream, inspiration, history and the heart of the Jewish nation. Jerusalem has been the capital of the Jewish people not from Camp David, but from King David.

Here are 18 reasons why Jerusalem is the capital of the sovereign State of Israel:

The Jewish people are the only nation in the world to declare a day or mourning and fast to perpetuate the memory of their Temple that was destroyed twice on the same day (Tisha B’Av): the first destruction at the hands of the Babylonians, the second at the hands of the Romans.

King David reigned a total of 40 years beginning circa 1000 BCE. 33 of which were from Jerusalem, also known as the City of David.

This all occurred apx. 1600 years before Muhammed was even born, let alone fabricate another Arab, totally false tale of feckless propaganda!

Jerusalem is mentioned thousands of times in our sources: the Bible, Mishnah, Talmud, etc., yet it is not mentioned even once in the Koran.
Jerusalem has been mentioned for thousands of years every day in prayers by Jews around the world: morning, afternoon and evening and in the Grace after the Meal.

Jerusalem was never the capital city of any other nation in history besides the Jews.

Jerusalem is remembered even on a Jew’s happiest day – his wedding day. At the end of the marriage ceremony, the groom recites the following: “If I forget thee Oh Jerusalem let my right hand lose its cunning…. “. Then, the groom breaks a glass to remember that there can be no completely joyous occasion until the Temple is rebuilt.

Since the destruction of the Temple and throughout history, Jews have always resided in Jerusalem, most of the time as the majority of its populace.

Throughout the generations, Jews the world over remember Jerusalem each Passover holiday. At the conclusion of the Haggadah reading they sing: “Next year in Jerusalem.”

Our sages have said: “Ten drops of beauty were given to the world, nine of which were given to Jerusalem.”

The name of the Almighty, G-d of the Hebrews, appears in the word “Jerusalem”. One of His names is “Peace” (“Shalom”), which is found in the world “Jerusalem” (“Yerushalaim”).

800 years ago, Rabbi Yehuda HaLevy, the renowned poet, expressed the Jews’ longing for Jerusalem thusly: “My heart is in the east (Jerusalem), while I am in the far west (Spain).”

The prophet of Islam never once visited Jerusalem. There is only a Moslem legend that claims that Mohammed was brought to Jerusalem in the dark of night by the angel Gabriel.

All Jews the world over pray in the direction of Jerusalem, while Moslems pray in the direction of Mecca, Saudi Arabia.

According to Islam, the city of Jerusalem is only third in religious importance after the cities of Mecca and Medina.

The Western Wall, the only remains of the Temple destroyed by the Romans about 2000 years ago, is a testimony to the Jewish nation’s connection to Jerusalem.

During Jordanian rule over Jerusalem (1948 – 1967) the city was gravely neglected and closed to Jews. Today, the city flourishes and is open to all religions.

Until 1967, the Palestinians considered themselves to be an integral part of the Arab world and not as a separate nationality. Moreover, they never before claimed that Jerusalem was their capital.

Iran is one of the most bitter enemies of Israel today. However, in ancient history, Iran was a good friend of the Jewish people. The last sentence of the Bible, in the Book of Chronicles II, 36:23, reads: “The Lord of heaven has given me (Koresh, King of Iran) the kingdoms of the earth; and he has charged me to build him a house in Jerusalem, which is Yehuda.

 

Whoever is among you of all his people (the Jewish nation) – the Lord his G-d be with him, and let him go up (to Jerusalem)!”

Here is an interesting story: Winston Churchill, British Minister of the Commonwealth, later to become prime minister, said the following to Chaim Weizmann, later to become Israel’s first president: Why do you stubbornly insist on the Land of Israel as your people’s state? Why not take another country in Africa (Uganda)?

Weizmann answered this way: Why do you, mister minister, insist on traveling every Sunday to visit your mother who lives a three hour’s drive away? There are plenty of old women in your neighborhood. Why not take one and make her your mother?

Take note: Even the name of the United States appears in the word “Jerusalem”. JerU.S.A.lem

 

Yitschak Ben-Gad was born in Tripoli, Libya in 1941 and resides in Netanya, Israel. Ben-Gad served as Consul General of Israel to the Midwest USA until August 1992 and was in charge of eleven states. He was later Israeli Consul General in Miami.  

He earned his Ph.D. in Political Science from Dropsie University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in May 1975. His father was Chief Rabbi of Tripoli. He has written several books including:  Politics, Lies and Video Tape and Roadmap to Nowhere.  

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Israelis roar into 21st century while Diaspora Jewry continues to wallow in their 20th century anxiety and inferiority complex

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Zionism and the Changing Global Structure

Redacted from an article by David Hazony
Exec Dir, The Israel Innovation Fund

With Adam Scott Bellos

The Jerusalem Post, Dec. 13, 2017

There is nothing more weird than the gap between the American Jewish conversation about Israel, on the one hand, and the real day-to-day lives of Israelis on the other.

American Jews are re-litigating the twentieth century, while Israelis are living the twenty-first.

American Jews ask: will Israel make peace or live forever by the sword? Why does the occupation never end? Will anti-semitism destroy us all? Do Jews have a right to every inch of the biblical lands? Will Netanyahu cause a break with American Jews? Will Israel’s democracy be ruined by demography? How will the tiny Jewish state survive against an ocean of enemies? These are questions Israelis have mostly stopped asking, and American Jews cannot understand why.

The answer is that everything has changed. The strategic, economic and cultural opportunities facing Israel have drowned out the existential threats. The old anxieties have been overrun by both Israel’s successes and failures.

Successes: it is now a vibrant and powerful country, and its power has changed the thinking of national governments not just in Europe but also across the Arab world. Today Israel has only one real strategic enemy – Iran, which has been the force behind all of Israel’s wars in the past decade-and-a-half.

Economically, the Jewish state has become a global leader in technology, from agriculture to autonomous vehicles. It has solved its two biggest problems of nature: water and energy. Culturally, it has become an exporter in everything from film to art to wine to architecture to electronic music.

Israelis now count their Nobel prizes the way Jews used to.

But also failures: the Yom Kippur war and the Oslo Accords taught Israelis about the horror that flows from self-delusion. The endless Palestinian terrorism has taught them that not every malady can be cured, that some must instead be managed.

Rabin’s assassination proved the danger of messianic frenzy. Socialism sank in a sea of red ink.

Yet as Israelis are busy doing Zionism – building a prosperous, forward-facing, secure Jewish state – and Americans are wringing their hands about Zionism; nobody is really engaged in new Zionist thought.

The last serious attempt to reinvent Zionism from the Right, as a theological movement built on settlement of Judea and Samaria, collapsed with Rabin’s assassination and the Gaza withdrawal, both so long ago that new IDF recruits don’t remember them. The last attempt to reinvent it from the Left collapsed with the failure of Oslo and the Second Intifada. Failures left only one path forward: just live and succeed and stop trying to explain it all.

The result is a strange combination. As a project, Zionism is roaring. As a vision, however, it is coasting.

Israel has made its choices: security over messianic peace-seeking, capitalism over socialism, pragmatism over utopia. The country exists, and its foundations are now stronger than those of many other developed democracies.

American deliberations about Israel’s “right to exist” suggest a surplus of spare time and an absence of imagination. Israelis do not struggle with the questions that grip American Jews because they have been resolved, by choice or by history, or left permanently unanswered, which is also an answer.

More urgent than answering old questions, however, is the quest for new ones.

What should Israel’s role be in the coming century – not just for Jews, but for the world? A century that began with terrorism and the tech bubble, and will likely see economic upheaval resulting from automation and artificial intelligence, and societal upheaval from the shattering of national and communal identities – this is the world that a Jewish state must find its place in if it is to survive.

The new Zionism will focus less on statecraft and more on expansive creativity. Put another way: Zionism’s last century was about creating the conditions for Jewish survival in a sovereign state; its next century will be about thriving, building outward, and sharing with the world.

The next phase of human history will turn on creativity. As machines replace men (there will be no cab drivers, coal miners, or preparers of fast food in 30 years), wealth and power will rest increasingly on humankind’s singular added value: the new thought.

As the global economic structure shifts, new great powers will rise. Smaller countries will be less impeded by their lack of manpower. Larger ones will suffer if they cannot be flexible and make swift changes. The question of national agility will come to dominate the historical ledger. The next phase in Zionism will have to address Israel’s place in this new world.

Westerners have only recently started to feel the heat coming from the creative furnace that drives the Israeli soul.

“Start-Up Nation” opened a window to a different Israel from the one you hear about on the news.

Yet start-ups are only one outward manifestation of what is a much deeper role Israel will play. Israel could more aptly be called the “Creative State”: in everything from social programs and unique nonprofits to music and television and medical and cognitive and culinary sciences, Israelis are everywhere applying their brash, do-it-differently style to endlessly reinventing life.

Israeli culture has no patience for how things have been done in the past. There is no Hebrew expression for “best practices.” The assumption that someone else has figured things out for us in advance is anathema in the Creative State. The affirmation of life requires constant change. Soar, or sink.

Israelis, in other words, are the Jews of the 21st century.

How did this happen? And why now? From its beginning, Israel has lived in a permanent state of “innovate or die.” The knowledge that Jews never have the luxury of a quiet life. That self-criticism does not have to undermine unity; on the contrary, it can be the glue that binds our collective confidence that we are on the best path possible.

That if we are going to beat the odds, we will need to find new ways to build a military, to find water and energy, to absorb immigrants, to speak and think and live.

Both businesses and non-profits in Israel are at the cutting edge of everything that makes life better. This is not, as the haters stupidly suggest, a question of branding. Israelis do not leave their families suddenly to jump on airplanes and race to sites of natural disasters around the world for the sake of building their global image. They do it out of a genuine belief that life is good, that with experience and ability come obligation, and that using your mind to offer urgent and effective help, and to build yourself in the process, is just how you are raised.

Little-known fact: Israelis are second only to Americans in charitable giving as a percentage of GDP. And they have a lot less disposable income.

And yes, the Creative State is a Jewish state, and not just because it’s full of Jews. Israel’s creativity emanates from a cultural predilection for restlessness, self-criticism and change that have characterized Jewish life for thousands of years. Israelis are, on the most profound level, Jews. Even, perhaps especially, those who are not Jewish.

The origins of it are deep in the Jewish soul and historical memory – a people that had to rapidly adapt to new situations and changing existential threats, a people who for whom creative thinking and mutual care correlated with survival. A people who, in their most profound and ancient moral teachings, found an organic and intuitive balance between Self and Other, between particularism and universalism, between utopian dreams and dark skepticism.

The Zionists were following millennia of Jewish traditions about the centrality of creativity and change to man’s place on earth. The Hebrew Bible – probably the first book to reach the masses in any language – did more than any other single work to change the course of human history.

With Zionism, all that creativity was channeled into a space of sovereign freedom and collective endeavor. Although it has taken more than a century for the world to see it, Zionism has always been about the Jews channeling the power of their creative-moral intellect into every facet of human life.

A new phase in both world and Jewish history requires new thought and new thinkers, asking questions of a nation blazing a new path for humanity. Israel will never have the world’s largest army, its most plentiful natural resources, or its biggest factories. But in our new world, a world of artificial intelligence and automation, it may not need them.

What it will always need – indeed, on this will its survival depend – is clarity of purpose, fidelity to its cultural soul and commitment to the continuity of its multi-millennial creativity that has brought about its successes until now.

What it needs is a new generation of Zionist thinkers and articulators, to help us understand where we are all going, and to remind us why.

David Hazony is an author and editor, and executive director of The Israel Innovation Fund. Adam Scott Bellos is an entrepreneur and CEO and founder of The Israel Innovation Fund.

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There is a new sheriff in town and his name is Donald Trump – Thank you very much.

On following article-  “Next year in Jerusalem”  Trump showed everyone he is not afraid to go against the grain and make good on his promise – declaring Jerusalem the capital of Israel • No matter what government leads Israel or who heads it, Jerusalem will never be negotiable.

By Boaz Bismuth, “Israel Hayom” newspaper , 12-7-17  http://www.israelhayom.com/2017/12/07/next-year-in-jerusalem/

In summary of the article:……Trump is a strong man. He doesn’t get easily worked up. The American media has been attacking him with unprecedented force since his election, but he remains unfazed. The same is true about the pressure he has faced, both domestically and internationally, not to fulfill his promise to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital – from the various liberals at home, the “righteous” Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the “enlightened” European countries, the Palestinian Authority that, once again, found a great excuse not make peace, and even from some soured Israeli leftists.

But the fact is that Trump could not for the life of him understand why his predecessors kept deferring, again and again, the recognition of something that everyone knows to be true!

Thank you, Mr. President, for this brave and historic decision. Thank you for applying your famous common sense to such a critical declaration on such a crucial issue – Jerusalem.

However, Obama seems like a distant nightmare. Obama was crowned the “messiah” when he first took office, hailed as the change that the world had been waiting for. He did, in fact, change the world – for the worse….. in October 2016, we were confronted with the shameful UNESCO decision to deny the link between the Jews and Jerusalem. What a change we are now seeing! Jerusalem has gone from being characterized as a settlement (its eastern part) to being recognized as Israel’s capital…

In that same shameful decision facilitated by Obama’s administration, the U.N. decided to unilaterally change the borders of Jerusalem. Now, the current American president has decided to recognize reality without dragging boundaries into the mix……..

… In case anyone has failed to notice, Trump is not a fan of procedural rituals, unlike his predecessor, Barack Obama. He is a man of action. Like he personally told me in Washington two days before his inauguration: “You know I’m not a man who breaks promises.”

On Wednesday, he fulfilled his promise, even if there is still a ways to go….
In this era, when the international community largely decides what is and isn’t acceptable, what is legitimate and what is wrong, and where the lines are to be drawn, the world is insisting on deciding for us where the Jewish capital is located – to them, it is Tel Aviv – a Jewish city. That is why Trump had to remind the world what friendship, reason and living up to your word looks like. …

Winston Churchill was one of the first leaders of the 20th century to recognize the holy bond between the rebirth of the Jewish state and Jerusalem, – In 1955 He said: “You ought to let the Jews have Jerusalem; it is they who made it famous.”

The decision to recognize Jerusalem has put Trump in the same circle as Harry Truman, whose recognition of the Jewish state led the rest of world to follow suit. In the same way, Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem will prompt the relocation of many embassies there.

To those threatening us with riots and wars, let us keep in mind that recognizing reality does not, in fact, change reality. That is an important rule of thumb. For decades, the U.S. has avoided coming out and saying what everyone already knows. This has done nothing to advance peace. On the contrary: it only demonstrated how

……..Trump managed to break from the policy of all his predecessors without undermining the status quo of the peace process, thereby turning the U.S. from a passive, easily affected actor into an unexpected player, free of the Obama administration’s affectations. There’s a new sheriff in town, and this one is also the fastest gun in the West.

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The Reality of Jerusalem by President Donald Trump

The Reality of Jerusalem

Trump honors a campaign pledge on the Israeli capital.

The Israeli and the U.S. flags are seen projected on the walls of the Old City of Jerusalem, Dec. 6.
The Israeli and the U.S. flags are seen projected on the walls of the Old City of Jerusalem, Dec. 6. PHOTO: OREN ZIV/ZUMA PRESS

President Trump honored a campaign pledge on Wednesday when he recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. The decision is hardly the radical policy departure that critics claim, and Mr. Trump accompanied it with an embrace of the two-state solution for Palestine that Presidents of both parties have long supported.

Congress recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in 1995 in a bill President Clinton declined to veto. Other Presidents have agreed in principle, and even campaigned on it, but in office they used a waiver to put off any formal recognition or move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv. The difference is that Mr. Trump apparently meant what he said as a candidate.

Mr. Trump called his decision on Wednesday “a recognition of reality,” and he’s right. Israel’s parliament, Supreme Court and the president and prime minister’s residences are housed in Jerusalem, and U.S. Presidents and Secretaries of State meet their Israeli counterparts there.

Yet official U.S. policy is that both Israel and the Palestinians must agree on the future status of Jerusalem, since the Palestinians claim the city as their capital too. President Trump isn’t taking sides on that issue. The White House proclamation acknowledges that “Jerusalem is a highly-sensitive issue” and doesn’t distinguish between West Jerusalem, which houses Israel’s government, and East Jerusalem, which Israel has administered since the 1967 Six Day War.

Mr. Trump combined his Embassy move with renewed intent to broker an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal, and he doesn’t rule out a Palestinian state as part of the solution. Administration officials reiterated that intention Wednesday, saying progress is being made behind the scenes. Color us skeptical given the long history of failure, but the U.S. is trying.

One way the Palestinian Authority could signal a new seriousness would be to stop paying the families of Palestinians who kill innocent Israelis. The House passed the Taylor Force Act Tuesday, which would reduce U.S. aid to the Palestinians until they renounce pay-for-slay payments. A Senate vote may follow this month.

Arab leaders denounced the Embassy move, but we wonder how long the fury will last. The Sunni Arabs also confront the threats of Islamic terrorism and Iranian imperialism, and the Palestinians are a third order concern. If the movement of an American Embassy that was signaled more than 20 years ago is enough to scuttle peace talks, then maybe the basis for peace doesn’t yet exist.

Appeared in the December 7, 2017, print edition.

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Mueller’s Endgame: Impeachment of President Donald Trump

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(Redacted from an in-depth shocking exposure of the deep, very dirty Washington D.C.  swamp with a special council who is an integral part of it.)     jsk

By ANDREW C. MCCARTHY

December 2, 2017 4:00 AM

The end game is the removal of Trump, either by impeachment or by publicly discrediting him and making his re-election politically impossible.

Here’s what I’d be tempted to do if I were President Trump: I’d direct the Justice Department to appoint a special counsel to investigate Iran’s efforts to acquire nuclear weapons, including any Obama-administration collusion in that enterprise.

I would make sure to call it a “counterintelligence investigation,” putting no limitations on the special counsel — just as with the investigation that Special Counsel Robert Mueller has been unleashed to conduct into Trump “collusion” with Russia.

That is, I would not restrict the prosecutor and investigators to digging for specified criminal violations. Or, indeed, any criminal violations. I’d just tell the special counsel, “Have at it” — with unbound authority to scrutinize the negotiations surrounding the eventual Iran nuclear deal (the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action).

Would I really expect the special counsel to find that Obama officials conspired with the mullahs to obtain nukes for Tehran? No . . . but hey, as the “Trump collusion with Russia” crowd says, “You never know.”

Meantime, under the guise of investigating this highly unlikely “collusion,” I’d want the special counsel to scrutinize closely any variances between what Obama-administration officials were telling Congress and the public about the negotiations and what they were telling the Iranians; to probe any side deals the administration agreed to but failed to disclose to Congress; and to consider whether any laws or policies were violated in such matters as President Obama’s payment of a cash ransom in exchange for American hostages held by Iran.

Why would I do this? Well, because I disagree with Obama administration foreign policy, of course.

Under the Mueller “collusion” precedent, it is evidently now American practice to criminalize foreign policy disputes under the pretext of conducting a counterintelligence investigation.

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein disclosed no factual predicate calling for a criminal investigation from which Trump’s Justice Department would be ethically required to recuse itself.

Instead, Mueller’s investigation was rationalized by the need to conduct a counterintelligence inquiry into Russia’s “cyber-espionage” meddling in the 2016 presidential election.

Mueller’s investigation was not a criminal investigation. It started out as a fishing expedition, under the vaporous heading of “collusion,” into “contacts” between Russian officials and Trump associates — notwithstanding that collusion is not conspiracy and that it was perfectly legal for Trump associates to have contacts with Russia (just like Clinton associates did).

See, we’re not following the normal rules, in which a prosecutor is assigned only after evidence of an actual crime has emerged. We’re in the wooly realm of counterintelligence, where anything goes. And in the event our aggressive prosecutor can’t find any crimes — which would be no surprise, since the investigation was not triggered by a crime — no matter:

The special counsel is encouraged to manufacture crimes through the investigative process. Misleading assertions by non-suspects made to investigators probing non-crimes can be charged as felony false statements.

The end game of the investigation is the removal of Donald Trump from the presidency, either by impeachment (which does not require proof of a court-prosecutable crime) or by publicly discrediting Trump to such a degree that his reelection becomes politically impossible.

Nevertheless, Trump’s victory caused consternation in the Obama administration for two reasons. First, and most obviously, Obama did not want his policies reversed. Second, neither Obama nor his party could abide a judgment of history holding that the election of Trump, the bane of their existence, was a result of the American people’s rejection of the Obama agenda and of Hillary Clinton, the hapless candidate nominated by Democrats to carry that agenda forward.
One major Obama-administration priority was to solidify the policy of blaming Israel for the enduring Israeli–Palestinian conflict — specifically, downplaying the ideological roots of Palestinian terrorism and framing as the real culprit Israeli settlement-building in disputed territories that Obama, like Israel’s enemies, regarded as illegally “occupied.”

Thus, in his administration’s coup de grace, Obama orchestrated a U.N. Security Council resolution condemning Israeli settlement activity — a stark departure (as I wrote at the time) from America’s commitment to Israel’s security and policy of shielding Israel from such U.N. intrigues.
Flynn informed his counterparts that Trump opposed the resolution — which opposition, by the way, Trump was quite clear about publicly. Flynn encouraged them to vote against the resolution, or at least delay it until Trump would assume office in January. The Obama administration used the weeks following the election to protect Obama’s priorities from Trump and to promote a narrative that Clinton’s defeat was the result of collaboration between Trump’s campaign and the Kremlin.

The FBI knew there was no suggestion, in any of the activities just described, that Flynn or Trump had anything to do with Russian espionage. There was no evidence that Flynn had committed a crime.. The ongoing Mueller probe is not a good-faith investigation of suspected espionage or other crime.

 

It is the exploitation of the executive’s intelligence-gathering and law-enforcement powers in order to (a) criminalize Trump political policies with which the Obama administration disagreed and (b) frame Clinton’s electoral defeat as the product of a traitorous scheme rather than a rejection of Democratic-party priorities …

Andrew C. McCarthy is a senior fellow at the National Review Institute and a contributing editor of National Review.

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The Long and Short of Hillary and Uranium One

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By Andrew P. Napolitano – – 

The Washington Times

November 15, 2017

The Department of Justice will soon commence an investigation to determine whether there should be an investigation (you read that nonsense correctly) of a scandal involving the Clinton Foundation and a company called Uranium One.

It appears that FBI decisions made during the time that Hillary Clinton was being investigated for espionage will also be investigated to see whether there should be an investigation to determine whether she was properly investigated. (Again, you read that nonsense correctly.) Only the government can relate nonsense with a straight face.

Here is the back story.

When President Trump fired FBI Director Jim Comey last spring, the attorney general’s stated purpose for recommending the firing was Mr. Comey’s dropping the ball in the investigation of Mrs. Clinton’s email when she was secretary of state.

After a year of investigating her use of her own computer servers to transmit and store classified materials instead of using a government server to do so — and notwithstanding a mountain of evidence of her grossly negligent exposure of secret and top-secret materials, which constitutes the crime of espionage — the FBI director decided that because no reasonable prosecutor would take the case, it should be dropped. Weeks later, the Department of Justice (DOJ) ratified Mr. Comey’s decision.

At the same time that Mrs. Clinton was failing to safeguard state secrets, she was granting official State Department favors to donors to her family’s charitable foundation. There are dozens of examples of this so-called “pay to play,” the most egregious of which is the Uranium One case. This involved a Canadian businessman and friend of former President Bill Clinton’s, Frank Giustra, who bundled donations from various sources that totaled $148 million, all of which Mr. Giustra gave to the Clinton Foundation.

At the same time that Mr. Giustra made this extraordinary donation, he was representing a client that needed federal permission to purchase a 51 percent stake in Uranium One, which then controlled about 20 percent of America’s licensed uranium mining capacity.

Mrs. Clinton freely gave Mr. Giustra’s client the State Department’s approval, and it soon acquired the remaining approvals to make the purchase. Mr. Giustra’s client is a Russian corporation controlled by the Kremlin.

When the FBI got wind of the Giustra donation and Mrs. Clinton’s approval and the Kremlin involvement, it commenced an investigation of whether Mrs. Clinton had been bribed.

At some point during former President Barack Obama’s second term, that investigation was terminated. We do not know whether the investigating FBI agents learned that the Clinton Foundation was not even registered as a charity by the states in which it was doing business or authorized by them to receive tax-free donations.

At the same time that the FBI was looking into Uranium One, American and British intelligence agents were surveilling Donald Trump. The belated stated purpose of that surveillance was to ascertain whether the future president or his colleagues were engaged in any unlawful activity by accepting campaign favors from foreign nationals or were improperly assisting foreign intelligence agents to interfere with the presidential election.

One of the foreign nationals whose communications were captured during that surveillance was Sergey Kislyak, then the Russian ambassador to the United States. He spoke with Michael Flynn, then the national security adviser to President-elect Trump.

Mysteriously, portions of a transcript of those intercepted communications were published in The Washington Post.

Another foreign national who caught the FBI’s attention is a former British intelligence agent named Christopher Steele. Mr. Steele had compiled a dossier about, among other things, alleged inappropriate behavior by Mr. Trump in a Moscow hotel room years earlier. After offering Mr. Steele $50,000 to corroborate his dossier, the FBIbacked down.

After being confronted by irate Republican members of the House and Senate judiciary committees, who demanded to know why the investigations of these matters had been terminated, Attorney General Jeff Sessions revealed that he has asked career DOJ lawyers to commence an investigation of all of the above to determine whether an independent counsel should be appointed to investigate all of the above.

This is the investigation to determine whether there should be an investigation. This is also the DOJ’s reluctance to do its job.

Can the government investigate itself? The short answer is yes, and it has done so in the past. But it hardly needs an investigation to determine whether there should be an investigation. The job of the DOJ is to investigate probable violations of federal law. Mr. Sessions should not shy away from this and should not push it off to another independent counsel.

We have one independent counsel already because his target — let’s be candid — is the president of the United States. That is a potato too hot for the DOJ. But Hillaryand Bill Clinton, the FBI’s tampering with the political process, and the use of intelligence-captured communications for political purposes are not. It is profoundly the duty of the DOJ — using its investigatory arm, the FBI — to investigate all this.

Whatever Mr. Comey’s motive for not prosecuting Mrs. Clinton and the DOJ’s ratification of it, the current DOJ is not bound by these erroneous decisions. The evidence in the public domain of Mrs. Clinton’s espionage and bribery is more than enough to be presented to a grand jury. The same cannot be said about FBI involvements with the Steele dossier or the use of intelligence data for political purposes, because we don’t yet know who did it, so we need aggressive investigation.

But none of this presents the type of conflict that exists when the president is a target, and none of this requires an independent counsel. All of this simply requires the DOJ to get to work.

That is, unless the lawyers in the leadership of this DOJ are fearful of investigating their predecessors for fear that their successors might investigate them. Whoever harbors those fears has no place in government.

Andrew P. Napolitano, a former judge of the Superior Court of New Jersey, is a regular contributor to The Washington Times. He is the author of nine books on the U.S. Constitution.

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