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May 2017

U. of AZ Still Hiring ‘Social Justice’ Watchers, Just Changing Creepy Job Title Tone deaf: the paid eavesdropping is terrifying, not the business cards. By Tom Knighton

Last week, the University of Arizona set off a firestorm when it was learned the school proposed to hire “social justice advocates” for $10 per hour — and one of their job responsibilities is straight from Orwell.

They are supposed to “report any bias incidents or claims” they happen to hear about.

That’s right. A taxpayer-funded university is hiring professional listeners to monitor the students for politically incorrect activity. It’s a social justice Gestapo, as I noted in my post on PJ Media.

The good news is that we can now credit the school for realizing it has a PR problem on its hands. But alas, it was unable to identify what it is. Because they are not backing down from the idea itself — just the job title. And the positions have already been filled:

School officials now tell the Phoenix New Times that they are changing the job title from “social justice advocate” to something else because the term “social justice” is too loaded.

“It’s best to use a title that isn’t politically charged,” said university spokesperson Pam Scott. “It just set off alarms.”

The Phoenix New Times notes that despite announcing plans to change the name, the position and its responsibilities will likely remain the same.

The students previously known as social justice activists will still be responsible for reporting fellow students for “bias”, and these students will be contacted by university administrators to discuss their behavior.

Four students have already been hired for the position, according to the Phoenix New Times. The hiring process is closed.

Frankly, I don’t care if they call them The Care Bear Zydeco Band And Gospel Choir. The issue isn’t calling them “social justice advocates,” but that they will be a social justice secret police, constantly watching their peers for signs of WrongThink.

Because they’re paid to do it, they’re far more likely to feel obligated to report incidents that they otherwise might have ignored. CONTINUE AT SITE

Anti-jihad crusader Robert Spencer poisoned in Iceland By Thomas Lifson !!!!!!

Political violence by leftists is on the rise – not only in the United States, but in Iceland as well, it appears. Robert Spencer, who has devoted his life to combating the global jihad, was poisoned by a political antagonist, it appears. Writing in Front Page Magazine, he reports on his brush with assassination:

Last Thursday, I gave a lecture on the jihad threat at the Grand Hotel in Reykjavik, Iceland. Shortly thereafter, a young Icelandic Leftist registered his disapproval of what I said by poisoning me.

It happened after the event, when my security chief, the organizers of the event, and Jihad Watch writer Christine Williams, who had also been invited to speak, went with me to a local restaurant to celebrate the success of the evening.

At this crowded Reykjavik establishment, I was quickly recognized. A young Icelander called me by name, shook my hand, and said he was a big fan. Shortly after that, another citizen of that famously genteel and courteous land also called me by name, shook my hand, and said “[F—] you.”

We took that marvelous Icelandic greeting as a cue to leave. But the damage had already been done. About fifteen minutes later, when I got back in my hotel room, I began to feel numbness in my face, hands, and feet. I began trembling and vomiting. My heart was racing dangerously. I spent the night in a Reykjavik hospital.

What had happened quickly became clear, and was soon confirmed by a hospital test: one of these local Icelanders who had approached me (probably the one who said he was a big fan, as he was much closer to me than the “[F—] you” guy) had dropped drugs into my drink. I wasn’t and am not on any other medication, and so there wasn’t any other explanation of how these things had gotten into my bloodstream.

For several days thereafter I was ill, but I did get to Reykjavik’s police station and gave them a bigger case than they have seen in good awhile. The police official with whom I spoke took immediate steps to identify and locate the principal suspects and obtain the restaurant’s surveillance video.

Iceland is a small country. Everyone knows everyone else. And so as it happened, I was quickly able to discover the identity, phone number, and Facebook page of the primary suspect, the young man who claimed he was a “big fan.” I don’t intend to call him. Icelandic police will be contacting him soon enough, if they haven’t done so already.

You can expect our American mainstream media to completely ignore this horrifying tale of an attempted political assassination.

Peace process kabuki by Richard Baehr

Donald Trump is set for his first overseas trip as the U.S. president, with stops in Saudi ‎Arabia, Israel, Italy and Belgium.‎ The trip will include meetings with Pope Francis in Rome, NATO leaders in Brussels, ‎and G7 members in Sicily in addition to Saudi, Israeli and Palestinian leaders.

The Saudi visit, which kicks off the trip, is expected to result in the announcement ‎of a large arms sale package, as well as demonstrate that the American posture in ‎the region is no longer based on balancing Iran and Saudi Arabia, former President Barack Obama’s inexplicable strategy which has done nothing but to encourage Iran to be an even more ‎provocative and aggressive actor. So too, early and frequent American efforts at ‎the United Nations by Ambassador Nikki Haley to stop the constant Israel bashing, and the Trump-Netanyahu meeting, which offered a warm American embrace of ‎Israel, seemed a part of an effort to restore close ties between the two traditional ‎allies and put an end to the distancing of America from Israel, a strategy carried ‎out throughout Obama’s two terms.‎

While the Trump administration has worked to put U.S. relations with Israel on a ‎more traditional path, there is renewed hope among the career Middle East peace ‎processing contingent, and the vast majority of foreign policy journalists who do ‎such a poor job covering the region, that perhaps Trump will be serious ‎about dealmaking, and is at work setting balls in motion to get another peace ‎process between Israelis and Palestinians going. The new hopes stem from ‎the warm welcome that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas received ‎on his recent official visit to the White House, and other signals that the president ‎and his team seem to have been sending to Israel. ‎

Many are putting weight on the fact that long-time Trump friend Ronald ‎Lauder has been encouraging the White House to launch a new peace process initiative, ‎arguing that Abbas is a moderate and open to a deal and that the time is right ‎given the new American team in place. (Presumably, the timing and people were ‎wrong on all prior occasions.) Attached to this theory is the notion that Abbas ‎could sell a deal to Palestinians, including those affiliated with or supportive of ‎Hamas, a bitter enemy of the PA and currently in control of Gaza. Selling a deal would mean that Israel and the ‎Palestinians could reach a deal, and there is no evidence today of overlapping sets ‎of minimally acceptable positions between the two parties, just as there never has ‎been. Most who have studied Palestinian politics believe that Abbas, who has long ‎overstayed his elected term, is hardly strong enough to ‎conclude a process that would require moderation or abandonment of core ‎Palestinian positions, such as the so-called “right of return” for millions of descendants of ‎refugees.‎

When Trump administration officials have met with Israeli leaders, both at the ‎White House and in Israel, the issue of settlement construction, the obsession of ‎the Obama White House, has come up. Trump chose not to get into a ‎public fight with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu over the issue on his first visit to ‎meet with the president, but nonetheless made clear that expansion of settlements ‎beyond their current boundaries would be viewed as problematic. ‎

Israel was source of classified intel Trump gave to Russians by Bob Fredericks

The Israeli government was the source of the classified intelligence that President Trump shared with a pair of Russian officials in a meeting last week, multiple reports said Tuesday,

Citing a former official with knowledge of the matter, NBC News reported that Trump’s information came from America’s longstanding Mideast ally.

Trump and his national security adviser, H.R. McMaster, both defended his discussion with the Russians, saying that nothing inappropriate had been revealed.

McMaster said the president wasn’t aware where the information about ISIS threats to airliners originated or how it was gathered.

“The president wasn’t even aware where this information came from. He wasn’t briefed on the source or method of the information either,” said McMaster, who was in the Oval Office meeting with Trump and Russia’s ambassador and foreign minister.

He would not say whether the information Trump shared was classified, and offered a broad defense of the president during a White House press briefing.

The US Army general also slammed the Washington Post, which first reported the story in which sources alleged that Trump had endangered a foreign source by revealing the information.

“The premise of that article is false that in any way the president had a conversation that was inappropriate or that resulted in any kind of lapse in national security,” McMaster said.

“In the context of that discussion, what the president discussed with the foreign minister was wholly appropriate to that conversation and is consistent with the routine sharing of information between the president and any leaders with whom he’s engaged.”

There was no decision made in advance to release the information, he said. The president, he added, brought it up during the course of the conversation.

The White House alerted the NSA and CIA about the disclosure “out of an abundance of caution.”

McMaster said the “real issue” was that “our national security has been put at risk by those violating confidentiality and those releasing information to the press.”

Trump took to Twitter to defend himself over the sitdown with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Ambassador Sergey Kislyak.

“As President I wanted to share with Russia (at an openly scheduled W.H. meeting) which I have the absolute right to do, facts pertaining to terrorism and airline flight safety. Humanitarian reasons, plus I want Russia to greatly step up their fight against ISIS & terrorism,” he wrote before going after the leaks himself.

“I have been asking Director Comey & others, from the beginning of my administration, to find the LEAKERS in the intelligence community,” he griped.

Later Tuesday, CIA Director Mike Pompeo was set to brief the House Intelligence Committee about assorted issues involving Russia, including Trump’s disclosure.

Lawmakers quickly reacted, with Democrats slamming Trump and even some Republicans questioning his judgment.

Intelligence Lapses and Double Standards Trump’s reported blunder with the Russians is no worse than the record of the Obama administration in such matters. By Andrew C. McCarthy

For Democrats, there is nothing like having the media and the intelligence bureaucracy on the team.

We don’t know all the details, but let’s stipulate that if President Trump disclosed to Russian diplomats secret information that was shared with the U.S. by a foreign intelligence service, as the Washington Post alleges, that could have been a reckless thing to do. General H. R. McMaster, the president’s national-security adviser, claims the Post’s story is not true; but there has been pushback from critics who say that McMaster’s denial was lawyerly.

The matter boils down to whether Trump disclosed a city in Islamic State territory from which an allied intelligence service (perhaps through a source who infiltrated ISIS, or through a collection method that enabled intelligence to penetrate ISIS operations) discovered a threat to civil aviation (reportedly involving explosives hidden in laptop computers). In asserting that the report is “false,” McMaster insisted that Trump had not “disclosed” any “intelligence sources or methods” or “military operations that were not already publicly known.” That denial, however, arguably sidesteps what the Post actually reports. The paper claims not that Trump provided the identity of the source or the nature of the intelligence method involved but that the president mentioned a city that is the locus of the information. By saying Trump did not “disclose” the source, is McMaster saying there’s no way that what was revealed could compromise the source?

It is reasonably argued that this tip could enable to Russians to figure out which ISIS cell has been infiltrated, thereby endangering the mole or other penetration method. It is also reasonably argued, though, that the Post’s own reporting of what McMaster describes as a standard diplomatic exchange of sensitive intelligence has given the Islamic State valuable information it would not otherwise have learned.

In any event, without going into details: Trump concedes that he discussed “facts pertaining to terrorism and airline flight safety”; and the Post maintains that it was persuaded by “officials” (not further identified) to withhold from its report the name of the city, lest “important intelligence capabilities” be jeopardized. If knowledgeable government officials did plead with the Post to refrain from reporting these details, that would be cause for concern that the president erred, perhaps significantly.

Trump’s disclosure was certainly not illegal. The president is in charge of classified information. He has unreviewable authority to disclose it himself and to authorize executive-branch subordinates to disclose it. But legality (as Jim Geraghty explains in the “Morning Jolt”) is not the point. The question is competence: Was the president trying to impress the Russians with his range of intelligence knowledge, even though the Russians would naturally assume an American president knew such things? If so, the incident would raise questions about Trump’s conduct of foreign policy. Avoidable gaffes can gravely imperil intelligence sources. The doubts they can create about our government’s reliability in keeping secrets may induce allied intelligence services to withhold vital information from us. And avoidable gaffes can happen to an official who is not well versed in the give-and-take of high-level diplomatic exchanges. That would not be an excuse: President of the United States is not an entry-level position.

All that said, how unusual is this sort of thing, really? It is a good question that Steve Hayward raises at Power Line — along with a Washington Post report reminding us that, less than a year ago, the Obama administration was offering to share with Russia intelligence about ISIS operations in Syria . . . which sounds an awful lot like what Trump was doing.

Did Trump Improperly Reveal Classified Information? By John O’Sullivan —

Listening from Budapest to the Washington debate on whether President Trump leaked intelligence secrets to the Russians in a White House meeting attended by Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, as alleged in a Washington Post report, I’m struck by the extraordinary number of people who have been jumping to conclusions — as from an ideological circus’s trampoline while also performing somersaults — in the discussions.

Jonah is an experienced performer on the trampoline when he’s in the mood, but I’m starting with his most recent commentary — because he’s not in that mood on this occasion. In fact, his is the most sober and persuasive analysis so far of what happened and why from a Trump-skeptic standpoint, though that’s not as flattering a compliment as I would like it to be.

The “why” is important — and Jonah raises it by asking if the Post story is “plausible.” He concludes rightly that it is because Trump has shown on a number of occasions that he is boastful, impulsive, and anxious to display his mastery of affairs. And what better occasion to do this than when he is seeking to impress the Russians — an adversary he apparently wishes to win round — by claiming that he has lots of good intelligence that would help them if they were willing to join the U.S. in a fight against their common enemies, ISIS and terrorism?

Might Trump have gone too far in describing just how much he knew and how U.S. intelligence services had acquired the information? Of course, from what we know of the president, he very well might have done. That’s why the report is plausible. And the credibility of Jonah’s argument is enhanced by the fact that he stops there, dismissing as “resistance paranoia” the idea that Trump was engaged in some sort of treasonous covert operation for the Kremlin. Again, rightly so.

Now, we come to the question. Okay, so the Post report is plausible. Is it true? And here Jonah and others have to confront the firm and outright denials the report has received from the three leading U.S. national-security officials. These denials — they appear below — both flatly deny the overall story and dismiss particular points in it. It’s therefore elicited from skeptics two responses: that they don’t clear up the many unanswered questions that the story raises and that therefore the denials, though sweeping, may well be (or for some people, probably are) carefully worded lawyerly evasions.

Jonah raises a reasonable version of the first response and asks four questions about, in particular, the most comprehensive denial from National Security Adviser H. R. McMaster: “Why not take any questions? Why not address the details of the story? Why deny things not alleged? Why did intelligence officials urge the Post to withhold key details if this is ‘fake news’?”

My off-the-cuff replies are: (a) to avoid complicating the clear denial with endless extraneous points; (b) see previous reply; (c) to forestall criticisms that he hadn’t addressed obvious points; and (d) because the Post sources were wrong in saying that Trump had revealed these things but these things were nonetheless intelligence secrets they wanted kept secret. Admittedly, my replies to Jonah’s questions are highly speculative, but that’s because neither of us know for certain what the accurate answers are. I’m merely suggesting that there may be innocent answers to them.

I think we can be more confident, however, in rejecting the criticism that the final words of McMaster’s denial — “I was in the room. It didn’t happen.” — were a lawyerly evasion. Admittedly, in the post-Watergate era, journalists have got used to playing linguistic philosophers when parsing political statements. The simplest technique on these lines is to ask: “Well, that’s what he said; but what didn’t he say?” It’s a useful technique for keeping a story alive, moreover, because it sometimes seems as if there is an infinite number of things he didn’t say.

But we shouldn’t confuse logical possibilities with political realities. As a practical political matter, McMaster has said that the story is false, there’s nothing in it, and Trump didn’t reveal intelligence secrets to the Russians. You can’t spin “I was in the room. It didn’t happen.” into a denial of something far less than that. If it turns out Trump did reveal intelligence secrets to the Russians, then McMaster will have lied to the country and his resignation will be just a matter of time — as also that of his two fellow-deniers, Dina Powell and Rex Tillerson.

Late-breaking new, however! According to half the reporters and commentators in Washington, Trump has admitted exactly that and revealed his subordinates to be lying gamely on his behalf. Trump today tweeted in two linked tweets as follows:

“As President I wanted to share with Russia (at an openly scheduled W.H. meeting) which I have the absolute right to do, facts pertaining…. …to terrorism and airline flight safety. Humanitarian reasons, plus I want Russia to greatly step up their fight against ISIS & terrorism.”

Trump Administration Defends Sharing Information With Russia As controversy escalates, national-security adviser says conversation was ‘wholly appropriate’ By Louise Radnofsky, Rebecca Ballhaus and Carol E. Lee

WASHINGTON—President Donald Trump and his administration worked to contain the fallout Tuesday after reports that he disclosed sensitive counterintelligence to Russian officials, with the president himself tweeting that he has the “absolute right” to share such information.

The information that was shared was provided by Israel, according to officials with direct knowledge of the matter.

In a news briefing Tuesday, Mr. Trump’s national-security adviser, Lt. Gen H.R. McMaster, said Mr. Trump’s conversation “was wholly appropriate” but that he believed the leaking of it put national security at risk.

Gen. McMaster wouldn’t discuss whether information Mr. Trump conveyed to the Russian foreign minister and ambassador was classified, but said that the president had “in no way compromised any sources or methods in this conversation.” He said Mr. Trump hadn’t been briefed on the source of the intelligence he discussed.

Earlier Tuesday, Mr. Trump tweeted that he has the “absolute right” as president to share “facts pertaining to terrorism and airline flight safety,” before offering an explanation for why: “Humanitarian reasons, plus I want Russia to greatly step up their fight against ISIS & terrorism.”

Later Tuesday, after delivering joint remarks with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan at the White House, Mr. Trump briefly addressed his meeting with Russian officials last week, saying it had been “very, very successful.”

“We’re going to have a lot of great success,” Mr. Trump said. “We want to get as many to help fight terrorism as possible.” He then exited the event. CONTINUE AT SITE

From Isolated in Prison to Magna Cum Laude By Marilyn Penn

In “Bonfire of the Vanities,” Tom Wolfe satirized the tendency of prosecutors and the media to label every black child victimized by crime an honor student He must be smiling at the legacy that tendency has spawned which can be seen in the title of this piece. It is a portion of a NYT headline for an article about an ex-con who recently graduated and is pictured smiling and shaking hands with another graduate, both in the full regalia of cap and gown. (Walking the Long Road From Isolated in Prison to Magna Cum Laude, Katharine Q Seelye, NYT 5/14/17). Kyle Gathers, now 31, has spent the better part of ten years in prison, two in isolation, for drug-dealing and shootings. Since being released, he enrolled in a program at the Benjamin Franklin Institute of Technology, specializing in heating, ventilation and air-conditioning technology; it is this program to which the title refers.

In googling such programs, I discovered that they vary from two to four semesters for which students earn a certificate or technical certificate. It is laudable that Mr. Gathers seems to have turned his life around and is now qualified to get a bona fide job and become a law-abiding member of society. It is ludicrous to apply the honorific of magna cum laude to this endeavor. It is universally accepted that students must have a GPA between 3.8 – 3.9 and be in the top 3- 5% of their graduating class in order to qualify for this honor. Until recently, this was reserved for students who completed a B.A. , B.S. or equivalent degree. Now it is used for students who complete two semesters of a technical course and perhaps soon it will apply to those who get certified as cosmeticians, hairdressers, manicurists and health care aides.

Even though achieving members of society have been told to check their privilege, we don’t call every college graduate “doctor” just as we don’t use the terms “Officer, senator, justice or maestro” indiscriminately. By buying in to the charade that students who complete a non-academic program are deserving of the ceremonial trappings of academe, we devalue the achievement of those who have earned those merit badges the hard way – appropriately. The tradition of wearing caps and gowns dates back to 12th century early European universities in which clerics, who were the scholars of that time, wore their robes for warmth in unheated buildings. The caps, known as mortarboards, reputedly derive from the birettas worn by scholarly clerics to signify their intelligence and superior accomplishment. In succeeding centuries, this garb became popular for other educated people down into the 21rst century But since both the clothing and the honorifics are symbols of academic scholarship, they don’t belong in completion ceremonies for technical certification. The sombrero is a Spanish hat adapted in the 15th century from those worn by Mongolian horsemen for several previous centuries. Yet wearing one on Halloween has been deemed an act of cultural appropriation by today’s snowflakes and their academic leadership. Their voices have not been raised to protest the use of clothing and terminology traditionally reserved for high scholarship in ceremonies for technical certification. This is not only cultural appropriation – it is more specifically fraudulent misrepresentation.


Last night after binging on”Fauda” a terrific Israeli series on terrorism and counter-terrorism, I reluctantly turned on the news….CNN to be exact, and Anderson Cooper to be more exact. The news, as everyone not settled down in Mars knows by now is that the Washington Post and the New York Times issued reports that President Trump gave “highly classified” information to Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Russian Ambassador Sergei Kislyak in the Oval Office the day after firing Federal Bureau of Investigation Director James Comey. General McMaster, the National Security adviser said” I was in the room, it did not happen.”

General McMaster’s denial was streamed in the news feed under the blathering of the CNN panel which agreed that McMaster’s denial proved that the story was true. Huh??? They then went on to speculate that Trump’s conversation with the Russians endangered lives. What a leap.

When the media dust-up settles we will know the truth, but the way CNN reports it, I prefer the fiction in Fauda to the fiction on CNN which passes as journalism. rsk

The Latest ‘Just Like Watergate’ Idiocy The ‘obstruction of justice’ claim is phony. By Andrew C. McCarthy

There is so much legal ignorance in the reporting and commentary about the “Russia investigation,” it is hard to keep up. The latest is that we need a special prosecutor because the firing of FBI director James Comey could amount to Watergate-type obstruction of justice.

The claim is half-baked, but I suppose it is an improvement. Up until now, as I pointed out over the weekend, Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.) and the media-Democrat echo chamber agitating for a special prosecutor had forgotten the little matter of . . . a crime. Putting aside all the downsides of a special prosecutor that I have outlined on other occasions (e.g., the constitutional flaws of the arrangement, the fact that a special prosecutor is not actually independent of the president and Justice Department, the reality that a special prosecutor undermines an administration’s capacity to govern . . . ), it is foundational that there must be a crime before a prosecutor is assigned to investigate it.

Even under the 1983 Ethics in Government Act (which lapsed in 1999), Congress required a finding (by the attorney general) that there was information indicating a serious criminal-law violation before the appointment of a special prosecutor (or independent counsel) would be triggered. (See Section 591(a) of Title 28, U.S. Code.) By contrast, Trump detractors have failed to identify any penal-law violation as to which there is a basis to believe President Trump or someone in his campaign may be guilty.

The only criminal offense arising out of the Kremlin interference in the 2016 election is hacking. It is not enough to say there is no evidence that the Trump campaign was complicit in this hacking. We must add that U.S. intelligence agencies have told us who carried it out – Russian intelligence – and have further explained that the Russian scheme targeted both Republicans and Democrats.

So now, at last, we have a gambit to fill this gaping hole in the demand for a special prosecutor: Trump’s dismissal of the FBI director is said to interfere with the FBI’s ongoing Russia investigation; therefore, the theory goes, it could amount to obstruction of justice, a felony. This suggestion is legally and factually specious. It is based (not for the first time) on a misrepresentation of the kind of investigation the FBI is doing.