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October 2017

Contradictions and Condescension by Mark Steyn

When a decent old stiff such as Mitt Romney talks earnestly about looking for suitable female job candidates and clumsily distills the effort into the phrase “binders full of women”, all the smart sophisticated types jump on it and make it a punchline for an antiquated condescension that only confirms how irredeemably misogynist the GOP is.

By contrast, when Harvey Weinstein corners a TV reporter in the corridor of his restaurant and forces her to watch as he unzips his pants, masturbates, and finally concludes the performance by ejaculating into a pot plant, all you hear, from a couple of larger leaves round the back of the plant, are drenched crickets chirping. Three decades of crickets chirping.

“Binders full of women”: what an appalling sentiment!

“Stand there and shut up while I masturbate in your general direction”: well, say what you like but Harvey has always supported, as Meryl Streep noted today, “good and worthy causes” – like the Hillary campaign.

Not so long ago, picking up a Golden Globe for her turn as Mrs Thatcher, Meryl was happy to salute Harvey Weinstein as God, notwithstanding that the previous occupant of that position was famously antipathetic to the sin of Onan, with or without attendant shrubbery. Harvey, more modestly, saw himself as the “”f**ing sheriff of this f**king lawless piece-of-s**t town”. So, when he pounded the crap out of some journalist on a city sidewalk, a hundred cameras snapped, but, mysteriously, not a single photograph saw the light of day. When a junior reporter at The New York Times noticed that the head of Miramax Italy was a guy who knew nothing about movies but was paid 400 grand a year to procure broads for Weinstein, Matt Damon and (alas) Russell Crowe personally called her to talk her out of pursuing the story (subsequently gutted by an editor). As recently as this weekend’s “Saturday Night Live”, Lorne Michaels, head honcho of the world’s most cobwebbed edgy comedy show, declined to address the Weinstein controversy, presumably in case Harvey was merely temporarily hors de combat and a week or two hence was minded to beat Lorne up, too.

Possibly Lorne, Matt and Russell have Harvey’s name tattooed on their butts. Dame Judi Dench, who played Queen Victoria in another upscale Oscar-bait Weinstein production, does – and she’s happy to lower her knickers and show it to you. Or she was, until Sunday. Maybe, all over town, Hollywood A-listers are frantically booking emergency removals of their Weinstein tramp-stamps.

Harvey thought those “good and worthy causes” would come through for him again. In response to the disclosure that he had attempted to force Ashley Judd into joining him in the shower, he announced that “I’ve decided that I’m going to give the NRA my full attention. I hope Wayne LaPierre will enjoy his retirement party. ” Sure, that seems an even longer shot than Wayne would attempt, but why wouldn’t it work? Twenty years ago, Time’s Nina Burleigh said of Harvey’s pal Bill Clinton, “I would be happy to give him a bl**job just to thank him for keeping abortion legal. I think American women should be lining up with their presidential kneepads on to show their gratitude for keeping the theocracy off our backs.” If the chicks’ll swallow that, why wouldn’t Ashley Judd be lining up to give him an assisted shower for regulating bump stocks? Happy the land in which a “semi-automatic” means Harvey reflexively dropping his trousers when a comely reporter enters the room.

Why do Mitt’s binders full of women outrage liberal sensibilities but not Harvey’s pot plants full of semen?

Well, in the old days, the bourgeoisie expected bourgeois values throughout society. The wealthy and powerful disdained them, but discreetly. Now they disdain them openly. Indeed, they wage war on them, relentlessly. Instead, they enforce “progressive” values. Institutions fundamental to the nation-state, such as citizenship, have to be rendered meaningless – so that what matters in any immigration debate is not the citizens but the invaders, to the point where Nancy Pelosi thanks the parents of “Dreamers” for breaking American law and bringing them here, as a precious gift to a nation crying out for even more low-skilled immigrants. As for institutions that pre-date the nation-state – institutions almost as old as humanity – they’re as easy to redefine, so that marriage can no longer be confined to those of opposite sexes. Speaking of the sexes, human biology can be vaporized, so that two sexes become 57 genders, and grade-school boys more interested in Barbie than GI Joe get to be pumped full of puberty blockers and directed to the girls’ bathroom. And after all that, religion has to be put on the back foot, so that any recalcitrant mom’n’pop bakery for whom two men atop a wedding cake is an abomination, must be hunted down, dragged into court and financially ruined pour encourager les autres. And in a revolutionary present it is necessary ultimately to throttle the past – eliminating Robert E Lee, Christopher Columbus, Dr Seuss, Stephen Foster, the national anthem, to dam up the stream of history, the flow of past to present to future, and thus sever the citizenry from their entire inheritance, so that we are mere flotsam and jetsam on the frothing surface of the moment – a world where, in a certain sense, Harvey Weinstein is God.

CNN and Qatar Airways: Taking Fake News to New Heights by Bruce Bawer

For many years, commercial time on CNN International has been filled largely with advertisements for the tourist boards and state-owned airlines of various Muslim countries. Given CNN’s unusually friendly coverage of these countries, and its disinclination to mention Islam when covering such topics as jihadist terrorism and immigrant crime in Europe, it is hard not to view CNN’s willingness to run these commercials with a jaundiced eye.

The TV commercial begins with a shot of the sky, above the clouds, and with the voice of a British male:

“The sky. There should be no borders up here. Only horizons. As an airline, we don’t believe in boundaries. We believe in bringing people together.”

We cut to pictures of people hugging at airports, showing affection for one another.

“The world’s better that way. It is a right for all of us to go where we need to go. To feel the things we want to feel. To see the people we want to see.”

A shot of an airplane, and views of the earth from the sky.

“That’s why we’ll continue to fly the skies. Providing you with everything we can. And treating everyone how they deserve to be treated. We do this because we know that travel goes beyond borders and prejudice.”

Back to shot of people together, smiling, walking here and there, in the city and countryside.

“That travel teaches compassion. That travel is a necessity. That travel is a right for all. Remember that this world is all of ours to explore. And it’s a strange thing for us to be apart.”

The commercial is in heavy rotation on CNN International, which I’ve been watching more than usual lately because of the coverage of hurricanes.

It is a commercial for Qatar Airways, which is, not surprisingly, owned by the government of Qatar.

Viewing Enemy Regimes as They Are, Not as We Wish They Were by Peter Huessy

Experience has shown that soft rhetoric and so-called “smart diplomacy” have served only to enable North Korea and Iran to produce more nuclear weapons and better ballistic missiles.

Not only has the International Atomic Energy Agency (IEAE) been prevented from monitoring Iranian compliance, but it is not pushing the issue for fear that “Washington would use an Iranian refusal as an excuse to abandon the JCPOA.”

During his first press conference after taking office in January 1981, US President Ronald Reagan called détente a “one-way street that the Soviet Union has used to pursue its own aims.” Echoing this remark while addressing reporters later the same day, Secretary of State Alexander Haig said that the Soviets were the source of much support for international terrorism, especially in Latin and Central America.

The following day, both Reagan and Haig were criticized for their remarks, with members of the media describing the president’s words as “reminiscent of the chilliest days of the Cold War,” and appalled that the administration’s top diplomat was accusing the Russians of backing terrorist activities.

Nearly four decades later, in spite of the successful defeat of the Soviet empire, the White House is still frowned upon when it adopts a tough stance towards America’s enemies. Today’s outrage is directed at President Donald Trump’s warnings about — and to — North Korea and Iran. The Washington Post called his recent “fire and fury” threats to Pyongyang a “rhetorical grenade,” for example, echoing top Democrats’ attacks on his remarks for being “reckless” and “irresponsible.”

Critics of Trump’s attitude towards Tehran go equally far, describing his opposition to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) — the nuclear deal with Iran — as “rushing headlong into war.”

Trump’s detractors, however, are just as wrong as those who berated Reagan in 1981. Experience has shown that soft rhetoric and so-called “smart diplomacy” have served only to enable North Korea and Iran to produce more nuclear weapons and better ballistic missiles.

Although the JCPOA stipulates that Iran is not permitted to produce more than a certain quantity of enriched uranium or to enrich uranium beyond a certain level, not only has the International Atomic Energy Agency (IEAE) been prevented from monitoring Iranian compliance, but it is not pushing the issue for fear that “Washington would use an Iranian refusal as an excuse to abandon the JCPOA.”

Furthermore, among its many other flaws, the JCPOA does not address Iran’s ballistic-missile capabilities or financing of global terrorism.

Nevertheless, it is the administration’s rhetoric that is under attack. Isn’t it high time for the media and foreign-policy establishment to wake up to the reality that seeing regimes as they are, rather than as we wish them to be, is the only way to confront our enemies effectively, and with the least number of casualties?

Congress Should Investigate the Organic Scam Consumers have been duped with fraudulently labeled foods. By Julie Kelly

Several lawmakers just introduced a bill that would nearly triple the budget for the USDA’s National Organic Program (NOP), the federal agency in charge of overseeing the U.S. organic market. But before we hand over more tax dollars to this feckless bureaucracy, Congress should demand hearings about NOP’s complicity in what might be the biggest consumer scam in decades: the sale of phony organic food.

Last month, the USDA’s inspector general released a shocking report detailing widespread fraud throughout the global organic-food supply chain and noting the failure of federal officials to ensure the integrity of the organic market in the U.S. The report is proof that millions of consumers have been — and are still being — duped, buying pricier “organic” products that do not meet federal organic standards. It is very likely that organic companies (and the advocacy groups they support) ignored this fraud so they could continue charging higher prices for food labeled organic. Many organic executives are Democratic donors and fundraisers, so consumers also have a right to know whether the Obama administration overlooked this systemwide consumer fraud to protect its pals in the organic industry.

Organic imports have exploded over the past decade to keep pace with consumer demand. The U.S. is a net importer of organic goods, from coffee to feed grains such as corn and soybeans. At the same time, organic brands are rolling in the dough, misleading consumers to believe their products are “local” and healthier than non-organic options. None of it is true. Furthermore, the inspector general’s report warns that “U.S. consumers of organic products have reduced assurance that foreign agricultural products maintain their organic integrity from farm to table,” which should outrage anyone who is a regular buyer of organic food.

Investigators discovered that imported organic shipments often did not have the proper certification, and that NOP officials were “unable to provide reasonable assurance that imported products labeled as organic were from certified organic foreign farms and businesses that produce and sell organic products.” This is at the core of the potential fraud: “There is no definitive test to identify whether a product is organic or not,” Jayson Lusk, head of Purdue University’s agricultural-economics department, told me. “Organic is primarily a certification of processes. To the extent consumers value these processes, trust in the certification system is key to the integrity of organic.”

Investigators also found that imported organic produce was fumigated with prohibited pesticides, an egregious violation of federal policy: “This practice results in the exposure of organic agricultural products to NOP-prohibited substances.”

The Great Regulatory Rollback Scott Pruitt takes the first step to rein in Obama’s executive overreach on energy. By Rich Lowry

One by one, the artifacts of President Barack Obama’s rule by administrative fiat are tumbling.

The latest is his signature Clean Power Plan that Environmental Protection Agency administrator Scott Pruitt says he will begin the arduous process of unwinding.

The first year of Donald Trump’s presidency has been characterized — despite his bumptiousness — not by executive overreach, but executive retrenchment. Trump the populist has operated within constitutional lines better than his technocratic predecessor, who used tendentious readings of the law and sweeping bureaucratic actions to impose his policies on immigration, health care, college campuses, and the environment.

The Clean Power Plan, which sought to reduce U.S. carbon emissions by 32 percent below 2005 levels by 2030, was government by the administrative state on a scale that has never been attempted before. The EPA took a dubious reading of a portion of the Clean Air Act (Section 111, which arguably prevented the EPA from taking this action rather than empowered it to do so) and used it to mandate that the states adopt far-reaching plans to reduce carbon emissions, under threat of the loss of federal highway funds.

The legal foundation of the Clean Power Plan was so rickety that the Supreme Court took the extraordinary step of blocking its implementation pending all the lawsuits against it.

The presumption of the plan was jaw-dropping. The EPA usually targets pollutants; carbon dioxide isn’t one (although the Supreme Court erroneously said that it meets the definition in the case of Massachusetts vs. EPA). The EPA has always regulated specific power plants; in this scheme, it went “outside the fence” to mandate broader actions by the states, e.g., the adoption of quotas for renewable energy. The EPA once considered its mandate to be protecting clear air and water for Americans; with the Clean Power Plan, it sought to adjust the global thermostat for the good of all of humanity.

The last gets to the absurdity of the Clean Power Plan on its own terms — it did virtually nothing to affect global warming. As Benjamin Zycher of the American Enterprise Institute points out, the Obama administration’s Climate Action Plan (which includes the Clean Power Plan) would reduce the global temperature by 15 one-thousandths of a degree by 2100. The point wasn’t to fight climate change per se, but to signal our climate virtue in the hopes of catalyzing action by other nations and, not incidentally, hobble the U.S. coal industry in favor of more politically palatable sources of energy, namely wind and solar.

Whatever the merits of this agenda, as a first order matter, it must be enacted lawfully and not instituted by strained legal interpretations alone. In congressional testimony arguing that the Clean Power Plan is unconstitutional, liberal law professor Laurence Tribe noted that the Supreme Court has said that Congress doesn’t “hide elephants in mouse holes.”

If Congress had authorized the EPA to remake the nation’s energy economy, we would presumably be aware of it and recall an impassioned congressional debate over this radical and costly change. In fact, the opposite is true. Congress has declined to enact laws limiting carbon emissions, including when Democrats held both houses of Congress under President Obama.

If the future of the planet is at stake and it requires a generational effort to save it, surely it is not too much to ask that a statute or two be enacted by Congress explicitly committing the country to the task. Yes, this requires winning elections and gaining democratic assent, but such are the challenges of living in a republic and a nation of laws.

In his impatience with Congress and his administrative imperiousness, President Obama dispensed with all that. What he imposed unilaterally is subject to unilateral reversal. The rollback will encounter its own regulatory and legal obstacles, but can be achieved more readily than if Obama had been able or bothered to write a swath of his legacy into law.

A Vicious Virtue When tragedy strikes, you probably deserve it — if you’re a conservative. By Victor Davis Hanson

Not long ago, late-night comedian and would-be philosopher Steven Colbert signaled the nation his virtuous outrage over the Trump presidency. Colbert offered that Trump had “a feeble f***ing anemic firefly of a soul.” His puerile efforts at alliteration were not helped by the redundant “anemic.”

Obscenity in service to an announced virtuous progressive cause is apparently now Colbert’s brand — and the more vulgar, the more virtuous.

Of Trump, Colbert had earlier announced crudely on national television: “You talk like a sign-language gorilla that got hit in the head. In fact, the only thing your mouth is good for is being Vladimir Putin’s c*** holster.” Do Americans stay up late to hear that?

Yet Colbert’s incoherent crudity is mild compared with the epidemic of assassination chic in which politicians, celebrities, actors, and academics vie to kill Trump by symbolically stabbing, decapitation, hanging, shooting, and maiming his likeness. (The various ways of killing or torturing Trump have exhausted the imagination of the virtuous.) It is as if the more macabre one can be in imagining how to eviscerate Trump, the more virtuous one becomes.

Is vicarious violence and crudity the means by which the modern soft suburbanite — like a Colbert, Michael Moore, or Bill Maher — messages his inner bravery and progressive authenticity?

After the recent shootings in Los Vegas, Frank Sinatra’s daughter and former singer Nancy Sinatra tweeted, “The murderous members of the NRA should face a firing squad.”

She later backtracked by insisting that her attributive adjective “murderous” was really discriminatory, not collective, as if she meant that only the NRA members who are actually murderous should be shot, given that not all NRA members are necessarily murderous. But aside from misleading about her intent, which particular NRA members does she think have committed murder, and how would the selective champion of capital punishment, Nancy Sinatra, know them?

Wanting to kill someone because of his politics is now sort of passé. So is the chilling habit of calibrating empathy for the dead on the basis of their perceived ideology. The now-fired vice president and senior legal counsel at CBS Hayley Geftman-Gold posted her feelings after the Las Vegas massacre: “I’m actually not even sympathetic bc country music fans often are Republican gun toters [sic].”

When Bernie Sanders supporter James Hodgkinson tried to assassinate Republican legislators during a baseball practice game, and almost killed Republican majority whip Steven Scalise, MSNBC host Joy Reid seemed to all but suggest that Scalise had deserved to be killed, given his conservative politics. She tweeted: “Rep. #Scalise was shot by a white man with a violent background, and saved by a black lesbian police officer, and yet . . . ” And then she followed that outburst with a list of Scalise’s conservative agenda items, such as his vote for a GOP House bill on health care, that apparently were meant to minimize the horror of his near-death. Reid’s commentary was not unusual; the Washington Post reported recently on liberal anger that a recovering Scalise was honored by being asked to throw out the first pitch at a Washington baseball game. His opposition to Obamacare and support for the Second Amendment should evidently have disqualified him from receiving sympathy for his near-fatal shooting.

The social-media practice of predicating empathy for the dead or wounded on the basis of their perceived politics first received wide national attention with Michael Moore. Moore posted unhinged commentary on his website the day after nearly 3,000 were murdered on September 11, 2001. Moore seemed outraged at the carnage largely because he deemed the dead to be mostly blue-state Al Gore voters — and thus the incorrect people to have perished:

Many families have been devastated tonight. This is just not right. They did not deserve to die. If someone did this to get back at Bush, then they did so by killing thousands of people who DID NOT VOTE for him. Boston, New York, D.C., and the planes’ destination of California — these were the places that voted AGAINST Bush.

Independence for Kurdistan by John R. Bolton

Iraqi Kurdistan’s recent referendum on whether to declare independence from Baghdad garnered only slight attention in the U.S. Even the overwhelming vote (93 percent favored independence) and America’s long involvement in the region did not make the story more prominent.

Nonetheless, we would be badly mistaken to underestimate its importance for U.S. policy throughout the Middle East.

Protecting American interests in that tumultuous region has never been easy. Not only does Iran’s nuclear-weapons threat loom ever larger, but the struggle against terrorism, whether from Hezbollah, ISIS, al-Qaida or any number of new splinter groups, seems unending.

Less visible but nonetheless significant forces are also at work. Existing state structures across the Middle East are breaking down and new ones are emerging, exacerbating the spreading anarchy caused by radical Islamic terrorism. Non-ideological factors such as ethnicity and cultural differences are enormously powerful and best understood as movements in the region’s “tectonic plates,” stirring beneath the surface of the more apparent threats of terrorism and nuclear proliferation.

None of these tectonic plates has more immediate implications for America’s Middle East policy than the Kurdish people’s long-standing determination to have their own nation-state. Modern-era Kurdish aspirations for statehood emerged during the Ottoman Empire’s post-World War I collapse, as European powers redrew the region’s map. The Kurds were unsuccessful in pressing their case, however, and their lands were split among Turkey, Iraq, Iran and Syria.

Nonetheless Kurdish longing for a separate state never dissipated, leading to considerable conflict, most visibly in Turkey. The West largely was unsympathetic in recent years because separatists in Turkish Kurdistan channeled their major efforts through the Marxist Kurdistan Workers’ Party. Obviously, during the Cold War, Washington and the West generally had no interest in weakening Turkey and its critical geostrategic role as NATO’s southeast anchor against Soviet adventurism.

Outside Turkey, however, especially in Iraq, Kurds played a much more constructive role, helping the United States in both Persian Gulf wars.

Iraqi Kurdistan became de facto independent from Saddam Hussein’s Iraq in 1991, protected by the U.S-led operation known as “Northern Comfort,” which included massive humanitarian assistance and a no-fly zone over northern Iraq. Saddam’s 2003 overthrow opened the prospect of reunifying the country, but Iranian subversion, using Iraq’s Shia majority to turn the country into its satellite, refueled Kurdish separatism.

Iraq’s Sunni Arabs were also unwilling to be ruled by a Baghdad regime dominated by Shia adherents, who were little more than Iranian puppets. The rise of ISIS in Iraq occurred in part from this hostility, just as in Syria, ISIS capitalized on the anti-Assad feelings of Sunni Arabs, who felt excluded and oppressed by the dominant Alawite elite in Damascus.

With the destruction of the ISIS caliphate in Syria, the question of what comes next is unavoidably before us. The United States needs to recognize that Iraq and Syria as we have known them have ceased to exist as functioning states. They are broken and cannot be fixed.

This disintegration reflects the Middle East’s broader, spreading anarchy, and it provides the context for Kurdish Iraq’s overwhelming support for independence from Baghdad.

I have previously suggested that disaffected Sunni Arabs in Iraq and Syria might combine to form their own secular (but religiously Sunni) state, which the Gulf Arabs could help support financially. Indeed, while substantial issues remain about allocating the Iraqi cities of Mosul and Kirkuk between Kurds and Arabs, the Kurds themselves are largely Sunni, which suggests considerable confluence of interest with their Arab fellow Sunnis. Helping a new Kurdistan and a new Sunni state might overcome the current split among the Arabian peninsula’s oil-producing monarchies and focus their attention on Iran, the real threat to their security.

Unfortunately, but entirely predictably, our State Department opposed even holding the referendum and firmly rejects Kurdish independence. This policy needs to be reversed immediately, turning U.S. obstructionism into leadership. Kurdish independence efforts did not create regional instability but instead reflect the unstable reality.

Independence could well promote greater Middle Eastern security and stability than the collapsing post-World War I order.

Recognizing that full Kurdish independence is far from easy, these issues today are no longer abstract and visionary but all too concrete. This is no time to be locked into outdated strategic thinking.


By Victor Sharpe
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This is my collected and published articles and essays which have appeared in leading websites and magazines. It is my hope that readers will benefit greatly from my research into the historical background of the Arab-Israel conflict; better described as the Islam-Israel conflict.

Message v. Messenger: The Trump Enigma By Victor Davis Hanson

About 90 percent of Republican voters eventually supported the political novice Donald Trump by November 2016. Most conservatives saw him as the preferable alternative to the vision and agendas of Hillary Clinton. Perhaps most still do after nine months of his presidency.https://amgreatness.com/2017/10/09/message-v-messenger-the-trump-enigma/

Yet almost half of the elite conservative establishment remains opposed to Republican President Trump.

About a quarter of them, it seems, openly despise him. These are prominent Republican senators, think-tank writers, television pundits, op-ed columnists, and generic public intellectuals. MSNBC and CNN are now homes for disgruntled Republicans or former conservative pundits in the way that those outlets once for a time found it useful to welcome in paleo-conservatives opposed to the Bush Administration during the Iraq War.

Bret Stephens, the NeverTrump former conservative at the Wall Street Journal, now advocates the repeal of the Second Amendment in the pages of the New York Times. Did Trump turn off some of the Republican establishment, or liberate it to espouse progressive views that it always held, but found impolitic to express?

The usual conservative status quo complaint against Trump is that the deficiencies of the messenger outweigh the many positives of the message. Or Trump, the person, nullifies the policies that have accompanied Trump into power.

The anti-Trumpians cringe at Trump’s incessant Twitter and news conference spats with everyone from “fake news” reporters at CNN to the San Juan mayor. His marathon rambling speeches at rallies in red-state America remind them that they find Trump supporters on the screen far more alien than they do their liberal counterparts in their own Washington and New York neighborhoods. Never Trumpers certainly are louder in their opposition to Trump than was the Tea Party’s past criticism of McCain or Romney.

They are embarrassed that someone from their own party has a vocabulary that focuses on about four adjectives (“tremendous,” “great,” “awesome,” “wonderful,” etc.), or that he often exaggerates and errs in a manner of Barack Obama, though without the latter’s mellifluousness or Ivy League brand.

The Republican establishment used to lament that the old Reagan Democrats, Tea Party types, and working-class whites of the Midwest had stayed home in 2008 and 2012, and thus allowed good candidates like John McCain and Mitt Romney to be steamrolled by Obama’s fatuous “hope and change” identity politics. Now they are either worried or shamed that these same swing voters came out in droves and left the Republican Party in a dominant position at the local, state, and federal level not seen since the 1920s.

In sum, the NeverTrump lament seems to be that whatever good Trump has done is more than outweighed by his “character is destiny” flaws. Neil Gorsuch and scores of conservative circuit court judges; Nikki Haley at the United Nations, James Mattis at Defense, H.R. McMaster at the National Security Council, Mike Pompeo at the CIA, and Rex Tillerson at the State Department, all restoring deterrence; rollbacks of Obama-era executive orders; green-lighting pipeline construction and increased fossil fuel production; protections of Second Amendment rights; restoring national borders; and genuine efforts to reform Obamacare and the tax code—all of that for them is not worth the spectacle of Trump on the national stage. Or for some, all of the above Trump efforts now are seen as disruptive and unnecessary—once the crudity of Trump enlightened the establishment to what it now sees as inherent wrongs present all along in conservative thinking.

The economy is gaining momentum. The stock market is way up. GDP growth exceeds Obama-era levels. Real unemployment (U6) is falling as labor participation improves. Business confidence is growing. Middle-class incomes and corporate profits increase. Consumer confidence is rebounding—all symptoms of an initial, implicit psychological rebuke to the overregulated and dreary business climate of the last eight years.

But again, should the economy hit an annual GDP growth rate of 4 percent, Trump’s popularity would probably not exceed 50 percent; and the NeverTrump establishment likely would not endorse his reelection, even should he appoint three conservative justices and thereby ensure a conservative Supreme Court for a generation.

Catalonians and Kurds Put Even More Pressure on Beleaguered EU By Avner Zarmi

“Israel ought to offer her services to Spain and the EU as an “honest broker,” and negotiate an end to the Catalonian crisis on the basis of “land for peace.”

Buried in all of the other international news is the following tidbit: the Spanish “autonomous region” of Catalonia held a referendum on independence from Spain, in which some 90% of participants voted for independence.

Catalonia is located in the northeastern corner of Spain, in the foothills of the Pyrenees. Its capital is Barcelona, a major industrial and tourist center, and the region has a long history of off-again, on-again independence dating back at least to the Eighth Century. The Catalan people speak a unique Romance language which has more in common with the Occitan language of southern France than it does with Spanish and, obviously, they have not lost their sense of distinctiveness from the Spanish.

The Spanish government in Madrid reacted to this latest attempt to apply the Wilsonian principle of self-determination for small peoples in much the same way that the Baghdad government reacted to the recent referendum on Kurdish independence. It first declared the referendum unconstitutional, then demanded it be withdrawn when it became obvious that the referendum had gone against continued union with the Spanish state. In other words, the “autonomous region” is demonstrating a little too much autonomy.

People formed long queues in order to vote in the “unconstitutional” referendum, often waiting patiently for hours. They then lingered afterwards in the polling places, fearing the Spanish national police, the Guardia Nacional, would attempt to seize the ballot boxes. As it turned out, their fears were not groundless.

Members of the Guardia Nacional were brought in from other regions of Spain (apparently the locals weren’t considered reliable) to engage in violent suppression of the referendum, which quickly descended into chaos. Dressed in riot gear, they used rubber bullets and truncheons to disperse the voters. Over 750 people were injured in the ensuing riots, according to Catalan officials. The Madrid government countered with the report that dozens of police officers had been injured.

Pursuant to the crackdown, the Spanish state also engaged in some heavy-handed, if futile, political censorship, shutting down the website of the National Catalan Assembly. The website was quickly redirected to an EU domain, which is beyond the ability of the Spanish authorities to suppress.

The fact is that Spain is not a unitary, national state, but rather a conglomeration of regions speaking at least eleven distinct languages.

The various regions were united, by force and through dynastic marriages, under the kings of Aragon and Castile during the Renaissance. This caused Castilian to be recognized as the modern language commonly referred to as “Spanish.” However, some of the regions have long been restive. In particular, there was a decades-long Basque insurgency in northwestern Spain. Now we have the unrest in Catalonia.

It appears likely that not only is the recent referendum the most serious test of Spanish democracy since the end of the Francoist dictatorship in the 1970s, but it may also put Spain in violation of European Union laws. This will put even more strain on the structure of the EU. The Catalonian regional government has sent a letter to the European Commission complaining of the suppression of the website mentioned above, as well as the alleged suppression of individual internet accounts of various members of the Catalonian government who supported the referendum.