Displaying posts published in

April 2017

Is Rice’s ‘Crime’ the New ‘Wire Tapping’? She apparently abused her power. His own worst enemy, Trump called it criminal, giving the media fodder for weeks. By Andrew C. McCarthy

While news seems to be breaking in every direction, there are two storylines in the continuing saga of allegations about Russian meddling in the 2016 election and Obama-administration spying on Team Trump.

The first, as Victor Davis Hanson has outlined, involves the recusal — at least temporarily — of House Intelligence Committee chairman Devin Nunes. You have to admire the Democrats’ moxie: Having spent months exploiting unauthorized disclosures of classified information to undergird their dark (but thus far unsupported) claims of Trump-campaign collusion in Russia’s machinations, they now force a House Ethics Committee investigation against Nunes based on claims that he “may have made unauthorized disclosures of classified information.”

Nunes vehemently denies the allegation as “entirely false and politically motivated.” Still, had he not stepped aside until the ethics probe was completed, there would have been calls to remove him, which would have put Speaker Paul Ryan in the hot seat. That’s something neither Ryan nor Nunes would want.

More importantly, as Nunes admirably recognized, it would have been a major distraction from the political-spying aspect of the Intelligence Committee investigation. By stepping aside, Nunes will be able to defend himself without derailing the committee’s work. Meanwhile, he has bequeathed leadership of the probe to Representative Mike Conaway (R., Tex.), with assistance from Representatives Trey Gowdy (R., S.C.) and Tom Rooney (R., Fla.). Forge ahead, gents.

The other development involves yet another impulsive outburst from President Trump. During a news conference at which he appeared jointly with Jordan’s King Abdullah II (aside: why do they put Roman numerals after Arabic names?), Trump was asked whether he thought Susan Rice, Obama’s national-security adviser, had committed a crime by unmasking the identities of Trump-team members — i.e., American citizens who were caught up in foreign intelligence collection. He replied, “Do I think? Yes, I think.” Our media-obsessed president further conveyed his sense that the alleged political spying “is one of the big stories of our time.”

Trump detractors pounced. The Washington Post, for example, ran its report under the headline “Susan Rice may have committed a crime, Trump says without providing evidence.” Trump’s latest remark is thus portrayed as a replay of his much-derided March 4 tweets — the ones accusing President Obama of having “my ‘wires tapped’ in Trump Tower.”

Both outbursts were ill considered, but they’re not all that similar. This time, Trump was answering a journalist’s loaded question, not railing on his own. Still, he should have passed — hard as that seems to be for him.


The Muslim Brotherhood Swoops into Sweden by Judith Bergman


“Sweden needs to be a safe space for refugees… It is time to realize that the new Swedes will claim their space. And bring their culture, language and habits. It is time to see this as a positive force… Something new — The New Country”. — Video advertisement; last sentence spoken by a young woman in a hijab.
Formal membership with a card and yearly subscription would probably not be the modus operandi of an organization working fundamentally to undermine societies in order to remake them in the image of Islam.
The Muslim Brotherhood is an organization the goal of which is to obtain an Islamic state, a caliphate, ruled by sharia — and to bring about that state — if necessary, by jihad.
It is an organization the Egyptian branch of which called for jihad as recently as 2015, thus belying claims that the Muslim Brotherhood is ‘peaceful’. As the murderous actions of Hamas, a Muslim Brotherhood organization, clearly show, it is not.

Middle East: A Shift from Revolution to Evolution by Najat AlSaied

The lesson the Trump administration might learn from the disastrous mistakes of its predecessor is that the main sources of terrorism in the region are political Islam and all its related religious groups. All these radical groups, including ISIS, Al-Qaeda, Jabhat Al-Nusra and Hamas have been spawned by a political Islam driven by the ideology of the Muslim Brotherhood.

The fight, therefore, should not be against Islam, but against political Islam. Islam needs to be practiced the way other religions are, as a private personal faith that should be kept separate from public life and politics, and whose expression should be confined to worship only.

Mosques, whether in the Arab and Muslim world or in the West, should be places of worship only and must not transformed to centers for polarizing society or for recruitment by political religious groups.

After each Islamist terrorist attack in the West, the public is divided into two camps: one angry and one indifferent. The problem with defeating Islamist terrorism seems to be that either it is attacked by conservatives who call Islam an evil cult or it is forgiven entirely by liberal apologists. What, then, is the answer?

One of the main failures in Western analyses of the origins of terrorism in the Middle East and North Africa is that the West attributes them to a lack of democracy and a lack of respect for human rights. This is, indeed, part of the cause, but the root of the problem is a lack of development and modernity. U.S. President Donald Trump did not exaggerate when he said that the Obama administration’s foreign policy was disastrous. It was catastrophic mainly for two reasons. One was the knee-jerk support for the “Arab Spring” and for extremist Islamic political groups such as the Muslim Brotherhood. The second was the alliances the Obama administration built with unreliable countries such as Qatar, which supports radical political groups such as the Muslim Brotherhood. In addition, Obama made the mistake of continuing to try to appease Iran’s theocratic regime.

The Arab Spring’s uncalculated, hasty attempt to establish so-called democracy only generated more turmoil and chaos in the region. Certain radical political groups simply exploited the elections to serve their own political and sectarian agendas; that swoop for power only resulted in more authoritarian and dictatorial regimes, as have played out, for instance, in Egypt, where we have witnessed the murder of civilians and police officers by the Muslim Brotherhood. In other countries, the situation is even worse; attempts to install democracy have totally destroyed the state and facilitated the spread of terrorist militias, as in Libya.

Four Killed in Stockholm Attack as Stolen Beer Truck Plows Into Department Store By Bridget Johnson

Stockholm is on edge tonight after a mid-afternoon vehicle attack on a busy downtown shopping district that Prime Minister Stefan Löfven quickly branded a terrorist attack on Sweden.

At least four people were killed and 15 injured after an attacker drove a truck down Drottninggatan street, sending pedestrians diving into shops for cover. The Spendrups brewery truck had been stolen earlier in the day, the company said; witnesses said the driver didn’t seem experienced behind the wheel of the truck.

The Local newspaper in Stockholm said there had been reports of shots fired near the Åhlens City department store, which the truck ran into, and in the city’s Fridhemsplan district, but police hadn’t confirmed either report.

The U.S. Embassy in Stockholm recommended that U.S. citizens in Sweden “avoid unnecessary travel at this time.”

The city’s subway and bus system was temporarily shut down. “Be aware that it will be difficult to move around the city,” continued the message. “…Review your personal security plans, remain aware of your surroundings, including local events, and monitor local news stations for updates. Be vigilant and take appropriate steps to enhance your personal security.”

According to the Aftonbladet newspaper, a man in custody was stopped for unspecified suspicious demeanor. Sources told the paper that the man had confessed to driving the truck and had minor injuries from the truck crash. Police were also open to the possibility more people could have been involved.

Is Putin on his way out? By Rachel Ehrenfeld

Last month’s anti-corruption demonstrations in Russia are being interpreted, again, as a sign that the reign of Russian President Vladimir Putin is nearing its end. Some in the West even claimed that in his haste to interfere with foreign countries’ domestic affairs, Putin has neglected to pay attention to the growing influence of the local opposition, especially social media, on the young generation that grew up in Russia, since he was first elected President in 2000.

The demonstrations that followed opposition politician Alexei Navalny’s expose online of Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev’s vast corruption raised little concern in the parliament, which rejected Russia’s Communist Party’s request to probe Medvedev’s wealth.

The Prime Minister shrugged off the allegations. However, he is far from being popular in Russia, while Putin’s popularity is soaring.
According to Gullp’s December 2016 survey, Russia’s economic and corruption problems are not attributed to Putin. “More than eight in 10 Russians (81 percent) in 2016, said they approved of the job Putin is doing,” said the report. With such popularity, expect Putin, who describes his presidency as “service to the Fatherland” to run for his fourth term as president in next year’s election. He may even scarify Medvedev to satisfy the public’s demand to curb the State’s corruption. After all, Putin has been successfully using corruption as a strategy in domestic and often foreign affairs for the past 17 years. Nonetheless, to many Russia observers, the recent demonstrations are a sign of the public’s growing dissatisfaction with Putin. As former Director of CIA, R. James Woolsey put it, “Putin has taken things back, maybe not all the way to Ivan the Terrible, but to, say, Nicholas II on a bad day.”

While Putin faces many problems, the U.S. Tomahawk missiles’ retaliation attack on Syria’s Shayrat Air Base and American declarations that it was Russia’s complicity or inability to stop Assad’s chemical weapons attack that killed at least 85 men, women, and children in Khan Sheikhoun, offered him a new opportunity to defend Russia’s honor and demonstrate his leadership’s skills. Russian Patriotism is in his favor and is likely to increase Putin’s popularity at home.

“What Will Follow Putin?” asks Norman Bailey, Professor of Economics and National Security, The National Security Studies Center, University of Haifa. “From the lower depths of despair (and the offices of the KGB) Vladimir Putin emerged. Putin reestablished despotic control internally and externally executed a series of brilliant maneuvers to restore the status of Russia in the world. He used all the instruments of statecraft: diplomacy, propaganda, economic measures, subversion, military display and war (in Georgia and Ukraine).

Robert M. Kaplan: Current Psychiatry and its Discontents

Robert M Kaplan is a forensic psychiatrist and historian of psychiatry. He has written biographies of the Melbourne psychiatrist Reg Ellery and New Zealand psychiatrist Mary Barkas

For those who care deeply about the profession and its goal to treat genuinely debilitating conditions, the state of the profession is cause for deep dismay. Needed is nothing less than a thorough review of the framework in which psychiatry operates, plus a clear plan for its future.

Psychiatry, it must be said, is at an all-time low, the culmination of a steady slide since the Eighties. Its practitioners have little to be excited about, and that hardly does much for patients. If we look back on history – something about which psychiatry is notoriously lax – the closest analogy would be the Thirties, when there were a number of biological treatments but, in truth, they were hardly successful cures (ECT was a notable exception). Cynicism ruled supreme until the Fifties, when a golden age of psychopharmacology started.

Several issues can be indicted for the current desuetude. The first is the Diagnostic & Statistical Manual of the American Psychiatric Association (DSM) which, in the eyes of some critics, has become the Mein Kampf of the discipline. Started, like so many things that go wrong, with the best of intentions, it has given the world an American-based classification of ‘disorders’ (no one is allowed to have a disease or illness now) derived from in-house committees subject to intense political, social and personality processes. The result has not been pretty.

Conditions that were determined by 150 years of careful psychiatric observation have been put through a bureaucratic grinder that killed off paraphrenia and Asperger’s syndrome, seriously messed up depression and inflicted such etymological nightmares as Late Luteal Phase Dysphoria Disorder (aka premenstrual syndrome). By putting everything in a neat pocket manual and providing a tick-box list for every disorder, the DSM made instant diagnosis a reality for professionals, if not the less skilled who wanted to get in on the mental health business. So much for the lengthy and careful psychiatric examination! Add to all this the appetite of a voracious legal profession for new “conditions” that might provide pretexts to sue and, with one thing and another, we are where we are today.

Then there are the drugs. It seems, a new product is launched on the market every day, judging by the journal ads, the glossy flyers in the mail and the bevvies of pert and perky sales reps who come calling with their latest brochures. The problem is that the new drugs are all variations on a theme. Antidepressants, antipsychotics and sedatives have not changed for decades; the only real difference is in the side effects.

A particularly egregious practice is the use of the so-called “atypical antipsychotics” as a kind of psychiatric penicillin. They are prescribed now for just about any disorder, regardless what other drugs are used. Their effect is to produce an emotional flattening. This can be considered something of an improvement, but hardly a cure. Add to this the most spectacular side effect is weight gain, turning skeletal figures into Michelin men and women in a few weeks. Journals are full of articles about the metabolic syndrome produced by these drugs.

It cannot be said that the public image of psychiatry is in the ascent. The disclosure that some prominent researchers have their hands deeply in the drug companies’ pockets is less than a good look. Add to this that psychiatry’s mandate – its exclusive control of the designated illnesses – is fragmenting to an unprecedented degree. There have always been turf wars with neurology and psychology, but they were but kindergarten squabbles compared with the present situation. Witness the disparate agencies which have not just a foot, but an arm and a leg, in invading (and, in the process, facilitating) the raging epidemics of autism and attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder ADHD (another user-friendly acronym that says as much as its hides). The best example is the widespread use of stimulant drugs to control behaviour in children. Add to that all the adult cases and you get some idea of the mess. Future generations will not thank us for this unwanted legacy.

Pretend conservatives for not so clean energy Paul Driessen

More and more conservatives are proclaiming the virtues of clean energy. At least that’s what some groups want you to believe. In reality, far-left “charitable” foundations have given pretend conservatives millions of dollars to advance a climate chaos, renewable energy agenda – channeling the funds through intermediary groups, to OxiClean the transactions and limit transparency and accountability.

The huge Green Profiteers Network has to be at least somewhat bipartisan to ensure continued mandates, renewable portfolio standards, production and investment tax credits, regulatory exemptions and other subsidies that have made Climate Crisis, Inc. a $1.5-trillion international business. With global financial and insurance giants allying with that crowd and determined to procure some $93 trillion (!) by 2030 to create a “de-carbonized” and “sustainable” world economy, the effort has intensified.

But now it must contend with President Donald Trump. His growing list of executive orders and regulatory reviews is rapidly reversing eight years of Obama “Clean Power Plan,” “social cost of carbon” and other regulatory decrees; laying the foundation for reversing EPA’s absurd finding that plant-fertilizing carbon dioxide “endangers” human health and welfare; and putting the United States in a position to lead the world back from the brink of Paris pact pandemonium and wealth redistribution.

Other countries will likely follow these energy and climate actions, says Cornwall Alliance ethicist Calvin Beisner, thereby “sparing their citizens from the crushing costs of pointless policies to mitigate global warming, by raising energy costs and prohibiting the most reliable, affordable forms of energy.” These actions are vital, because “the greatest threat to the environment is not affluence. It’s poverty.”

Radical environmental groups are nevertheless preparing to battle every Trump action in our courts, legislatures, newsrooms … and streets. Preparing to join all the prominent big-name groups is a host of like-minded, tax-exempt, pseudo-free-enterprise outfits, many operating under the umbrella of the Conservative Energy Network. This 2016 creation includes Young Conservatives for Energy Reform, an environmentalist Christian Coalition of America, Citizens for Responsible Energy Reform – and Conservatives for Clean Energy (CCE), launched in 2014 as an “educational” and “charity” organization.

Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Islam’s Most Eloquent Apostate The West’s obsession with ‘terror’ has been a mistake, she argues. Dawa, the ideology behind it, is a broader threat. By Tunku Varadarajan

The woman sitting opposite me, dressed in a charcoal pantsuit and a duck-egg-blue turtleneck, can’t go anywhere, at any time of day, without a bodyguard. She is soft-spoken and irrepressibly sane, but also—in the eyes of those who would rather cut her throat than listen to what she says—the most dangerous foe of Islamist extremism in the Western world. We are in a secure room at a sprawling university, but the queasiness in my chest takes a while to go away. I’m talking to a woman with multiple fatwas on her head, someone who has a greater chance of meeting a violent end than anyone I’ve met (Salman Rushdie included). And yet she’s wholly poised, spectacles pushed back to rest atop her head like a crown, dignified and smiling under siege.

Ayaan Hirsi Ali, born in Somalia in 1969, is Islam’s most eloquent apostate. She has just published a slim book that seeks to add a new four-letter word—dawa—to the West’s vocabulary. It describes the ceaseless, world-wide ideological campaign waged by Islamists as a complement to jihad. It is, she says, the greatest threat facing the West and “could well bring about the end of the European Union as we know it.” America is far from immune, and her book, “The Challenge of Dawa,” is an explicit attempt to persuade the Trump administration to adopt “a comprehensive anti-dawa strategy before it is too late.”

Ms. Hirsi Ali has come a long way from the days when she—“then a bit of a hothead”—declared Islam to be incapable of reform, while also calling on Muslims to convert or abandon religion altogether. That was a contentious decade ago. Today she believes that Islam can indeed be reformed, that it must be reformed, and that it can be reformed only by Muslims themselves—by those whom she calls “Mecca Muslims.” These are the faithful who prefer the gentler version of Islam that she says was “originally promoted by Muhammad” before 622. That was the year he migrated to Medina and the religion took a militant and unlovely ideological turn.

At the same time, Ms. Hirsi Ali—now a research fellow at Stanford’s Hoover Institution, where I also work—is urging the West to look at Islam with new eyes. She says it must be viewed “not just as a religion, but also as a political ideology.” To regard Islam merely as a faith, “as we would Christianity or Buddhism, is to run the risk of ignoring dawa, the activities carried out by Islamists to keep Muslims energized by a campaign to impose Shariah law on all societies—including countries of the West.” CONTINUE AT SITE

Obama WMD Intelligence Failure Susan Rice said Assad had given up all his chemical weapons.

When the Bush Administration failed to find the weapons of mass destruction that Saddam Hussein was thought to have, opponents used the intelligence failure to discredit the war in Iraq and call George W. Bush a liar. Will there be any even remotely similar accounting after the Obama Administration’s intelligence failure in Syria, where Bashar Assad has used chemical weapons we were told he didn’t have?

On Tuesday at least 85 civilians, including children, were killed by a gas attack in the rebel-held town of Khan Sheikhoun. The World Health Organization says the attack likely involved banned nerve agents, with other medical experts pointing to sarin as the culprit.

Why is this an intelligence failure? Because the Obama Administration assured the world that it had forced Mr. Assad to give up all chemical weapons. In an interview with National Public Radio on January 16, Susan Rice, then the White House national security adviser, was unequivocal:

“I think the President [Obama] stated the U.S. view, which is the use of chemical weapons is not something we’re prepared to allow to persist, and we didn’t. We managed to accomplish that goal far more thoroughly than we could have by some limited strikes against chemical targets by getting the entirety of the declared stockpile removed.” The residents of Khan Sheikhoun beg to differ.

Ms. Rice’s assurances were part of the Obama Administration’s foreign-policy victory lap as it ended its time in office. But did she or others know at the time that Mr. Assad still had stockpiles of sarin gas? Were there dissenting intelligence reports raising doubts about the Assad-Russian pledges that the regime had turned everything over to United Nations monitors?

Still against Intervention in Syria The U.S. has no vital national interest in joining its civil war. By Andrew C. McCarthy

When it came to foreign policy, I was worried that the 2016 election would be a case of Clinton delivering the third Obama term. Instead, we have Trump giving us the third Clinton term.

President Donald Trump has now done what candidate Donald Trump committed not to do: He has launched a military strike against a foreign regime — a repulsive one, to be sure — in the absence of any threat, much less any attack, against the United States, in furtherance of no vital American interests.

Trump’s act of war is in violation of the Constitution, which requires congressional authorization for such an offensive use of military force, provoked by no aggression against our nation. Or, as someone once said:
Donald J. Trump

✔ @realDonaldTrump

What will we get for bombing Syria besides more debt and a possible long term conflict? Obama needs Congressional approval.
2:14 PM – 29 Aug 2013

Mind you, that’s just one in a series of “Syria is NOT our problem” tweets in which Trump ripped Obama for not recognizing that “the so called ‘rebels’ may be just as bad (or worse)!”

The U.S. attack is an impulsive intervention in a civil war in which both sides — the Damascus/Tehran/Moscow alliance and its Sunni-jihadist/sharia-supremacist opposition — are hostile to the United States. It is a war in which Bashar al-Assad’s continuation in power, dismal as that prospect may be, is in no way the worst conceivable outcome for American national security.

Further, the missile strike offends sound policy: If the United States has not been attacked or threatened, congressional approval should be sought, not merely for legal purposes but also to ensure that complexities have been thought through and public support for a risky intervention has been won. Here, quite apart from the want of American legal footing, Trump lacks even the fig leaf of international legitimacy — there are none of those cryptic U.N. mandates that progressives prefer to our quaint Constitution.

Supporters of Trump’s aggression indignantly focus on Assad’s latest war crime, the barbaric use of chemical weapons — an apparent sarin-gas attack said to have killed 80 civilians. (It is necessary to qualify media reports of “civilian casualties” in the Syrian conflict, since Assad’s jihadist opposition is frequently referred to as “civilian.”)

I guess Obama’s gone, so we’re all in on “R2P” now. But, to repeat, Trump acted without congressional authorization; and as explained by Harvard’s Jack Goldsmith (a former Bush Defense and Justice Department official), in the absence of a cause rooted in self-defense or a Security Council resolution, there is no international-law justification for military attacks against another country — even one whose regime uses poisonous gases against its own people.