Friday, December 1, 2023

"Secretary Anthony Lincoln" Visits Jerusalem, According to U.S. Embassy Jerusalem's Facebook

Okay, his name is "A. Blinken," and I suppose that does present opportunities for screw-ups, but that one screw-up is particularly choice. 

Abe Blinken?

'Gold Bar Bob' Menendez Switches Lawyers, Plus a Co-Defendant Eats Some Cheese

Senator Robert Menendez's legal troubles increase. From the WaPo:
Now The Post can disclose that one of Daibes’ former business partners, who was also a Menendez donor, has been cooperating with Manhattan prosecutors since February 2022, four months before the raid.
Please read the whole article, since it describes a New Jersey nest of organized crime that rivals The Sopranos

Given today's news about a rat, my least favorite corrupt public official might well be channeling Paulie Walnuts: “How much more betrayal can I take?”


Friday, November 10, 2023

From Kindergarten Plays to GoPros on Home Invaders, It's All a Performance to HAMAS

Hamas has many fewer allies these days, but at least it can still count on the western news media to play the sympathy card for them. Of course, that focuses almost exclusively on the children in Gaza. A smart decision, considering how often the adults of Gaza cannot resist the urge to be openly monstrous in front of a camera or microphone.

See, for example, these recent stories about Gaza's children by NPR, the NYT, and the BBC

But here's a question you don't hear much about those kids. Where does Hamas get adult men who will commit the most horrible atrocities imaginable against defenseless victims and even live-stream themselves in the act? A large part of the answer must be that they are the product of a society that raised them from childhood to do just that.  

Take the military summer camps, for instance. When they aren’t getting anti-Semitic classroom material in UNWRA schools, they can take in some fresh air along with instruction in small arms.   

It's never too early to start tomorrow's monsters out on the right course. Here's a video of a Gaza Kindergarten graduation skit from May, 2018, one apparently posted to the internet by a proud parent, in which those adorable tykes enact invading Israel. Note that at the end they take a hostage back to Gaza - that's a very important element of the drama.   

Those little cuties will be around ten years old now, and so – probably – are still too young to have participated in the pogrom of four weeks ago. Give it time. They are the future. 

We’re constantly told that Hamas does not represent Palestinians, despite it having gotten most of the vote in the only election Palestinians ever held, and contrary to all the data gathered by opinion polling. 

Frankly – and I say this after reflection – even the worst of Hamas' troops seem to represent its population quite well. The abominable monsters who committed those atrocities four weeks ago did not rise up out of nothing. They were the kindergarten kommandos of 10 or 15 or 20 years ago, now live-streaming it and still making their parents proud.

Maryland Wins the Race For FBI HQ, But FBI Director Calls a Foul

Director Wray is blowing his whistle for all he's worth, even sending a message to FBI employees yesterday.  

He's presenting his objection to the Greenbelt site as one to the process and transparency of GSA's decision, and, for the moment at least, not raising the practical objections to locating a new HQ some distance away from the places the FBI needs to visit daily in order to do its business.
Throughout the selection process, the FBI coordinated closely with GSA with a clear focus on what’s best for our workforce, the mission, and the American people. Paramount for us were fairness and transparency in the process. In the course of our work with GSA, however, we identified concerns about a potential conflict of interest involving the site selection authority and whether changes that individual made in the final stage of the process adhered to the site selection criteria. Despite our engagement with GSA over the last two months on these issues, our concerns about the process remain unresolved. 
-- snip -- 
Congress initiated the site selection process, so, moving forward, it will control the next steps. For our part, we will continue to be clear about our process concerns, even as we work with GSA toward the design and construction of a facility.

Note the reference to "changes that individual made" to the site selection criteria. According to news reports yesterday, the individual is a former Metro employee who is now a political appointee at GSA, and that may implicate a conflict of interest because Metro owns the Greenbelt site that GSA will now purchase. 

Or anyway, they'll now purchase it if Congress appropriates the very considerable funds necessary. Wray's veiled reference to Congress tells us where this conflict is headed next. 

Putting the new FBI HQ in Greenbelt makes no sense at all - I mean, not unless you own the site, or would collect revenue from land development there. The FBI officials who'll work at that HQ need to be close to the DOJ, relevant U.S. Courts, Congress, and the existing FBI and assorted other USG facilities they need to visit, all of which are in DC and Virginia.

And then there are the political realities, starting with the fact that the House of Representatives is normally where appropriations must begin, and the House right now is, ah, not favorably inclined toward the FBI or its Director. Furthermore, Washington is now entering an election year, and that destabilizes everything on the legislative agenda.

At best, Congress will table the FBI HQ project for another year. Or maybe the Republican majority will start another oversight investigation, this time partnering with Director Wray to tag-team the GSA and Biden Administration. It looks like they could find plenty of red meat there for a good old election year scandal, and one with the strategic advantage of turning the FBI against the White House.

Or even, and it takes an effort to control myself as I imagine this option, that Republican majority could go ahead and appropriate the millions to buy the Greenbelt site just to screw over the FBI for decades to come by saddling them with the worst site option that's on the table. 

As Robert E. Lee once said of war, it is well that partisan politics is so terrible, otherwise we should grow too fond of it.   

Tuesday, October 31, 2023

Kinky Friedman and One Of His Best Problematic Song Titles

The first time I heard a song by Kinky Friedman and his country band, The Texas Jewboys, it was on a college radio station. Those were the only stations that would play They Ain't Making Jews Like Jesus Anymore because it contains language the FCC does not approve for airplay. In fact, it probably includes almost all the language the FCC does not approve for airplay. Look it up, if you dare. 

But the Friedman song I like most, and the one most appropriate to this occasion, is Ride 'Em Jewboy.

Talk about haunting images! "Now the smokes from camps are rising, see the helpless creatures on their way" ... "dead limbs play with ringless fingers" ... "How long will you be driven relentless around the world" ... "rounded out and made to move along." You get the point.

There is a lot more energy in his 1970s' Austin City Limits performances, which are easily found on YouTube, but that slower 2020 performance at Echo Hill really suits this song.

Saturday, October 21, 2023

Force, the Last Resort of Nations (Mitigated By Good Manners If You're Lucky)

"Life-saving shipments." Okay, but let us be clear that what is coming to HAMAS in Gaza is about life taking, fundamentally, and there will be little scope for humanitarian considerations until that war is concluded.

Don't take it from me, take it from one of the finest judicial minds this country has ever produced.    
"I believe that force, mitigated as may be by good manners, is the ultima ratio, and between two groups of people who want to make inconsistent kinds of world I see no remedy except force." - Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.
Holmes knew about force and irreconcilable conflict, having served as an infantryman in the Civil War where he was wounded three times. At Antietam he was shot through the neck and left for dead on the field, one of 23,000 casualties in that single battle.

Be prepared to see Civil War-size casualty numbers once the Israeli Armed Forces really tear into HAMAS. Let the IDF mitigate that reality by abiding with the laws of war, to whatever extent those good manners may apply to a sub-state adversary, but realists should expect to see a nearly-Carthaginian peace imposed on HAMAS in Gaza.

Sunday, October 15, 2023

The Conflict to be Known as The GoPro War.

I like the slow roll-over that is performed at the end of this clip by the HAMAS troop who was wearing the camera, that accidental videographer of his own death. 

There are hours of these clips on the internet now, from both sides. No modern conflict has been so intensively covered by body- and helmet-worn cameras. 
It's only forerunner is Blog del Narco, that gem of citizen journalism that provides both sides of the Mexican drug wars.