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Ruth King

Does U.S. Media Help Russia Destabilize The United States? Le Smith

Last week leaders of the Senate intelligence committee, senators Richard Burr and Mark Warner, gave a press conference in which they announced they are eager to speak with Christopher Steele, the former British MI6 officer believed to have compiled the controversial dossier of allegations about President Trump’s connections to Russia. Steele reportedly spoke with special counselor Robert Mueller about the dossier, but the committee has yet to hear from the man who laid the foundations for the theory that Trump or his campaign team colluded with Russian officials to fix the 2016 presidential election for him.

One reporter, however, claims that the Senate intelligence committee has verified “some of the Steele dossier.” Ken Dilanian of NBC News told MSNBC Thursday morning that “Burr said they had been able to corroborate some aspects of it.”

But in the 40-minute-long press conference, neither Burr nor Warner suggested anything of the sort. Rather, Burr said “the committee cannot really decide the credibility of the dossier without understanding things like who paid for it, who are your sources and subsources?” Dilanian explained that “two sources told NBC News the committee has corroborated parts of the dossier.”

Dilanian did not explain to viewers what Burr was clearly hinting at—namely, that the Steele dossier is the paid product of a private information company called Fusion GPS, which has become notorious for inventing sleazy and often fact-free attacks on democratic whistleblowers and political figures and feeding them to journalists. Dilanian himself is no stranger to Fusion GPS.
Who Is Fusion GPS?

In summer 2016, Fusion GPS distributed the dossier under Steele’s name to a number of major news organizations. All refrained from publishing a document they couldn’t verify. It was finally published by BuzzFeed in January after CNN reported U.S. intelligence agencies had briefed outgoing president Barack Obama and his incoming successor Donald Trump on the existence of the dossier.

It was Fusion GPS that also spearheaded a campaign to dismantle the Magnitsky Act, the 2012 legislation that imposes sanctions on Russian officials and figures associated with the regime of Vladimir Putin who are known to have played a role in the 2009 death of Russian lawyer Sergei Magnitsky. Fusion GPS’ effort, according to William Browder, the driving force behind the Magnitsky Act and head of the Magnitsky Global Justice Campaign, included a smear campaign against him and his late friend and lawyer.

In his explosive July 27 testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Browder, the 53-year-old CEO and founder of Hermitage Capital Management, alleged Fusion GPS may have violated the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) by spreading Russian state propaganda. Washington DC journalists, Browder added, were in on the game—getting stories from the company that first tried to torque American law to benefit Putin and his cronies then spread the salacious Steele dossier.

“I suspect that a number of journalists,” Browder testified, “and one in particular here in Washington was operating so far outside the bounds of normal journalistic integrity that there must have been some incentive for them to be doing it coming from Fusion GPS.”

The journalist Browder alluded to is NBC News’ intelligence and national security reporter: Ken Dilanian. In extensive interviews, Browder alleged to me that a number of journalists, including Dilanian, were beholden to Fusion GPS and its principals, including former Wall Street Journal reporter Glenn Simpson, for supplying them with stories in the past. Reporters, Browder argued, were therefore reluctant to look too deeply into Fusion GPS’s smear campaign against him and Magnitsky. Multiple attempts to reach Dilanian for comment went unanswered.

To back up his assertion about NBC and Dilanian, Browder showed me documents that chronicled Dilanian’s reporting on the Magnitsky Act—reporting that Browder believes moved in tandem with Fusion GPS’s campaign to discredit both himself and Magnitsky in the hope of repealing the law and lifting sanctions against Russia.
Russia’s Target: Corrupting the American Press

What these records and other accompanying documents also suggest is that Russia’s attempt to “hack” the 2016 election was hardly just about the election, and that a main target and beneficiary of that effort—which is ongoing—is the American press.

In an email hacked from the account of a U.S. foreign service officer, Dilanian asked Sen. Ben Cardin’s office if the senior Democratic member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee wanted to comment on the story about Magnitsky that he was reporting. “There is no evidence he was beaten in prison, as Browder has alleged,” Dilanian declares:

and it’s clear from police and court records that he wasn’t detained because he blew the whistle on an alleged fraud scheme. He was detained over tax evasion by Browder’s companies. In fact, there are credible allegations in court documents that Browder and his associates are suspects in the fraud—and that Browder concocted the whistleblower story to cover that up.

We plan to publish something about this next week, and I wanted to give Sen. Cardin a chance to comment on it. He is not a large part of the story, and if these allegations are true, he is one of many smart and influential people who were misled, obviously.

Another email, hacked from the same cache, written by a Democratic staffer for the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, dismisses Dilanian’s thesis: “There is overwhelming evidence that Sergei Magnitsky was beaten in prison”—after which the staffer makes his case clearly:

Photographs of his beaten body were available to us, which show physical evidence of him having been beaten. … We reviewed the detention center protocol, which reports that Magnitsky was beaten with rubber batons by guards on the evening of November 16, 2009—the night he died. … Magnitsky’s Death Certificate refers to a cerebral cranial injury. … The forensic postmortem conducted by Russian state experts refers to injuries on Magnitsky’s body consistent with the use of rubber batons.

Democratic IT scandal takes an interesting turn By Rick Moran

The “non-scandal” scandal involving a former I.T. aide to several Democratic congressmen, including Debbie Wasserman Schultz, took an interesting turn when the wife of the alleged hacker and fraudster Imran Awan showed up in court separate from her husband and had retained a separate attorney.

Imran Awan’s own wife, Hina Alvi, filed papers in a Pakistani court accusing her husband of fraud and of marrying another woman. The couple did not look at each other when they showed up in federal court on Friday.

Daily Caller:

The couple were in U.S. court to face bank fraud charges related to sending money to Pakistan around the time they learned they were under investigation for abuses related to their work managing IT for members of Congress. Awan was arrested at Dulles Airport in July attempting to board a flight to Pakistan.

Wasserman Schultz, former chair of the Democratic National Committee, and other House Democrats have vigorously defended Awan, claiming the Capitol Police might be drumming up charges out of Islamaphobia.

Alvi was arraigned Friday on four felony counts, and Awan, who has already been arraigned, requested that his GPS monitoring bracelet be taken off – citing the fact that his wife was in America as the reason he was not a flight risk.

Yet the couple entered and left the court separately, have different lawyers, and Awan’s lawyer told the judge that the husband and wife are staying “in a one-bedroom apartment and then also a house.”

Pakistani legal papers published by the news channel show Alvi recently accused Awan of illegally marrying another woman, and of fraud. “My husband Imran Awan son of Muhammad Ashraf Awan, committed fraud along with offence of polygamy,” she charges in the papers.

Hina’s U.S. lawyer, Nikki Lotze, did not dispute the account. “I don’t see how that’s newsworthy,” Lotze told The Daily Caller News Foundation. The Pakistani legal petition named as the second wife is a woman who records show told Virginia police she felt like Awan was keeping her “like a slave.”

Awan’s two brothers have also been implicated in the scheme, and the revelation that Awan’s second wife may also have been involved makes the circle of fraud and deceit even wider.

Although The Washington Post has reported that investigators found that Awan and his relatives made unauthorized access to a congressional server 5,400 times, Wasserman Schultz has said concern about the matter was the stuff of the “right-wing media circus fringe.”

Awan and Alvi have been charged with bank fraud involving moving money to Pakistan, but they have not been charged with crimes related to their work, and the other family members have not been charged at all. Awan’s attorney used Friday’s hearing to argue that he “very strongly” wanted to block prosecutors from using evidence they found in the Capitol Hill phone booth.

The Pakistani legal motion filed by Alvi states: “A few months ago I got apprised of the fact that my husband has contracted second marriage secretly, fraudulently and without my consent with Mst. Sumaira Shehzadi Alias Sumaira Siddique Daughter of Muhammad Akram r/o Township, Lahore. The second marriage of my husband is illegal, unlawful and without justification.”

Middle East Studies Profs Gone Bad By Cinnamon Stillwell see note please

Middle East professors all belong to MESA (Middle East Studies Association) which is a cartel funded by Arab nations. The catch is that one cannot get a job in academia teaching Mideast studies without belonging to MESA…..rsk
‘m a professor!” So cried Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) professor Anila Daulatzai as she was forcibly removed from a Southwest Airlines flight for lying about having a life-threatening allergy to the two dogs in the cabin. Unable to provide the required medical certificate, Daulatzai, who had demanded that the dogs be removed, then refused to leave the plane. Daulatzai’s Muslim faith was the likely cause of her aversion to dogs, but it was her dishonesty and unwillingness to cooperate that ended in her arrest.

A former visiting assistant professor of Islamic studies at Harvard Divinity School, Daulatzai has joined the growing ranks of Middle East studies academics who run afoul of the law. Their misdeeds, which range from sexual harassment to domestic abuse and murder to terrorism, demonstrate that being “a professor” is no barrier to criminality.

Just last month, a professor in McGill University’s Institute of Islamic Studies whose name has not been released to the public was accused of “sexual violence” by way of stickers left in women’s restrooms on campus. The professor, who is up for tenure this semester, denies the charges, despite former students testifying to his “predatory” behavior. An open letter to Robert Wisnovsky, director of the Institute of Islamic Studies, from the World Islamic and Middle East Studies Student Association reiterated the allegations, recommending against tenure and concluding that “women are at a disadvantage within the Islamic Studies department.”

Likewise, it emerged in 2016 that two prominent professors, U.C. Berkeley’s Nezar AlSayyad and UCLA’s Gabriel Piterberg, had been sexually harassing female graduate students for years. AlSayyad, former chair of U.C. Berkeley’s Center for Middle Eastern Studies, and Piterberg, former director of UCLA’s Center for Near Eastern Studies, exploited their positions of power to take advantage of the young women entrusted to their care. Both universities’ perceived negligence and leniency in handling the cases led to student protests and loss of faith of the system.

Another kind of relationship between student and teacher underpinned a controversy earlier this year involving Rollins College professor Areeje Zufari. Zufari, a Muslim, resigned in April following a conflict with Christian student Marshall Polston, whom she had falsely accused of stalking after he challenged her anti-Christian, Islamist assertions. After a wrongful suspension and a disciplinary hearing, Polston was reinstated, while Zufari now teaches at Valencia College. Even more sordid is Zufari’s past, including numerous ties to Islamist associations and an affair with a married man under FBI investigation for terrorist activity.

An Outrageous Prosecution Turkey convicts a Journal reporter of promoting terrorism.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan is right when he complains that Turkey is threatened by terrorists who kill innocent citizens and want to bring down his government. But when Turkish authorities tar innocent journalists for abetting terrorism, they confirm to the world that Turkey’s President has turned his country into an authoritarian state.

On Tuesday a Turkish court falsely convicted Wall Street Journal reporter Ayla Albayrak of propagandizing on behalf of an outlawed Kurdish terror group. The evidence for Ms. Albayrak’s “crime”: An Aug. 19, 2015, Wall Street Journal news story about the bitter fighting in a remote, Kurdish-majority, Turkish city called Silopi that borders Syria and Iraq. Turkish forces fought there with the outlawed PKK, or Kurdistan Workers’ Party.

Ms. Albayrak quoted some members of the Patriotic Revolutionary Youth Group, which Turkish authorities say is affiliated with the PKK. But she also quoted government officials, local residents and the mayor—and explicitly identified the PKK as designated by both Ankara and Washington as a terrorist outfit. Nowhere in her balanced dispatch did she praise either the PKK or the youth group, and everything she did to report this story as fairly and objectively as possible was within the bounds of good journalism and Turkish law.

The indictment noted that some Turkish-language websites lifted parts of her story and an accompanying video for their own purposes. But they used selective quotes, and none are affiliated with the Journal and none were authorized by either the Journal or Ms. Albayrak.

There is no evidence Mr. Erdogan initiated these charges against our reporter. Yet they are surely a consequence of the repressive atmosphere he has created in Turkey, especially after a failed military coup in 2016. The Turkish president has taken advantage of the state of emergency to solidify his hold on power by cracking down on anyone his government doesn’t like.

This repression is now extending to the foreign media, and even beyond Turkey’s borders. In February Deniz Yücel, a reporter for Germany’s Die Welt, was arrested in Istanbul and remains detained without charges. Amnesty International notes Turkey now has more journalists in jail than any other country.

Ms. Albayrak, a dual Turkish and Finnish national, is now in New York. But that doesn’t mean the conviction isn’t damaging. The Erdogan government has already abused Interpol, the international police network, by issuing “red notices” to have journalists and critics arrested in other countries until they can be extradited. In this way a system meant to target criminals is turned on good journalists like Ms. Albayrak and makes it dangerous for them to travel and do their jobs.

When any local Turkish official can create an international incident by freelancing a political prosecution, it underscores Turkey’s descent under Mr. Erdogan and creates unnecessary rifts with other countries. Ms. Albayrak plans to appeal, which gives Ankara a path out of this injustice. But it requires a Turkish judiciary willing to assert itself by standing up for the rule of law and tossing this shameful and dishonest prosecution.

Nevertheless, They Persisted Obama and the Clintons haven’t had much to say about their pal Harvey.By James Freeman

As the rape and sexual harassment accusations against movie mogul and Democratic donor Harvey Weinstein continue to aggregate, it becomes increasingly difficult to understand how Mr. Weinstein’s alleged offenses were not reported until the publication of a story last week in the New York Times . Even since the report, many of Mr. Weinstein’s associates are still reluctant to comment.

The website Mediaite takes note of an exchange this afternoon on CNN:

Hillary Clinton finally released a statement condemning Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein, but CNN’s Dana Bash had to ask this afternoon, “Where are the Obamas?”

Weinstein was a big Democratic fundraiser, and gave money to both Clinton and Barack Obama (though Clinton’s statement does not mention the donations or whether she will be giving them away).

“Where is Michelle Obama? Where is President Obama?” Bash asked. “Harvey Weinstein was, and probably is, still a big supporter of them and certainly of…the President’s political efforts.”

Chris Cillizza brought up when the former First Lady praised Weinstein during a student film symposium at the White House, saying that the Obamas need to be speaking out now and it’s “odd” that they aren’t.

During the 2013 White House event, Michelle Obama called Mr. Weinstein “a wonderful human being, a good friend and just a powerhouse.”

Wonderful is not the word that comes to mind when reading a heartbreaking new report by Ronan Farrow in the New Yorker detailing three separate rape allegations against Mr. Weinstein. The piece also alleges other cases of harassment followed by career setbacks for the alleged victims:

Four actresses, including Mira Sorvino and Rosanna Arquette, told me they suspected that, after they rejected Weinstein’s advances or complained about them to company representatives, Weinstein had them removed from projects or dissuaded people from hiring them.

The Times has followed up with a report that Mr. Weinstein also allegedly harassed Angelina Jolie and Gwyneth Paltrow back when they were on their way to becoming movie stars. Among the saddest details of many of the recent accounts of alleged harassment and assaults by Mr. Weinstein involve the number of people who either ignored or even facilitated the movie mogul’s meetings alone with young women. Since the reports became public a number of actresses including Lena Dunham have also expressed disappointment in the silence of their male co-stars.

At least one guy in Hollywood seems to have been at least annoyed by one of Mr. Weinstein’s alleged offenses. The Times notes that at the time she was allegedly victimized, Ms. Paltrow was dating the actor Brad Pitt. According to the Times, “After she told Mr. Pitt about the episode, he approached Mr. Weinstein at a theater premiere and told him never to touch Ms. Paltrow again.”

Ms. Dunham for her part says the problem goes beyond Mr. Weinstein:

She condemns Weinstein as a “predator” and says he’s not the only one in Hollywood, detailing her own encounters with “everyday sexism” as a young, acclaimed indie-film director.

“His behavior, silently co-signed for decades by employees and collaborators, is a microcosm of what has been happening in Hollywood since always and of what workplace harassment looks like for women everywhere,” Dunham writes of Weinstein…

“The use of power to possess and silence women is as likely to occur in a fast-food restaurant as it is on a movie set, and Hollywood has yet another chance to make a noisy statement about what we should and should not condone as a society,” she writes.

Ms. Dunham’s fact-free smear against the fast-food industry aside, her comments raise the disturbing possibility that one of the reasons Mr. Weinstein got away with the alleged behavior for so long is that it’s not that rare in Hollywood. On Tuesday another accuser named Louisette Geiss came forward and held a press conference along with her attorney Gloria Allred. According to the Hollywood Reporter: CONTINUE AT SITE

Sanctimony Bites Weinstein Democrats Maybe Hollywood progressives will tone down their self-righteousness. By Holman W. Jenkins, Jr.

One of the few successes of John McCain’s 2008 campaign was a 30-second ad called “Celeb.” It interspersed images of Paris Hilton and Britney Spears with Barack Obama and his adoring crowds. A narrator said: “He’s the biggest celebrity in the world, but is he ready to lead?”

Pundits and political pros dismissed the spot as off-target and unconvincing. Mr. McCain seemed almost embarrassed by it, claiming his campaign was just having “fun.”

Yet the implication that Mr. Obama was a glitzy Hollywood-style confection resonated with voters. Mr. Obama, just coming off his ecstatic appearance in Berlin, saw his poll numbers drop noticeably. His advisers were quoted in the press acknowledging the ad’s power.

Which brings us to Harvey Weinstein. If Hollywood people are anything like normal people, they should be nearly as offended by Mr. Weinstein’s presumptions about them as they are by his alleged bullying of women for sex. Where does he get off assuming his colleagues can be so easily manipulated, will so readily fall in line, just because he cites, as he did in his recent self-defense, their shared liberal politics?

How can somebody with his smarts be so heavy-handed and obvious as to think he can mint an instant pass for his transgressions merely by alluding to his opposition to the National Rifle Association and President Trump ?

Then again, maybe we’re missing the real point. Mr. Weinstein was reminding liberal elites that his trouble is their trouble, because they tolerated him for so long. That’s why this scandal may have legs.

He was a guest at the Obama White House 13 times. He gave hundreds of thousands to the Clintons. In 2016, he hosted or headlined multiple fundraisers for Mrs. Clinton with people like Leonardo DiCaprio, Helen Mirren, Julia Roberts and Sarah Jessica Parker.

He was coached by Team Clinton for a campaign appearance on CBS . In turn, he coached campaign chief Robby Mook on how to answer the Bernie Sanders threat.

He’s also a man who the Los Angeles Times now tells us was “generally loathed” in Hollywood. His sexual predations were so well known that they were the subject of a joke on “30 Rock.” His behavior, we now learn, has been the subject of ongoing reporting projects at the New Yorker, New York magazine and the New York Times, which finally blew Mr. Weinstein out of the water with its 3,500-word account last week.

His offenses were the “biggest mess” Disney had to deal with during its 12-year partnership with Mr. Weinstein, a former executive now tells the Times. Actresses Ashley Judd and Rose McGowan, who related their stories to the paper, as well as Lena Dunham, creator of HBO’s “Girls,” have been outspoken in the aftermath about Tinsel Town’s history of covering up for Mr. Weinstein.

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.”