Wednesday, December 11, 2019

It’s a new day. The sun is shining, the temperature’s warmer and what snow we did get has melted off the roof. We’ve got some stuff to get into today, so let’s get to it.

First off, we need to look at what went on yesterday in Jersey City, New Jersey. Forgetting my own rules, I made a mistake with my “analysis” yesterday. Mea culpa. I thought, going on what was available at the time, it was a case of cops behaving badly. Again, I messed up by not waiting until more information came out, and that’s one of the banes of modern journalism. My bad.

Bad as it was already, reports are now saying the shooting was a direct, organized attack on the city’s very large Jewish community. This is another example of the rising number of cases of anti-Semitic attacks on American Jews. Recent events include the Pittsburgh shooting which left 11 dead last October, many of the Holocaust survivors, and this past April’s Poway, CA, attack which claimed a woman named Lori Gilbert Kaye after she took a bullet for the synagogue’s rabbi.

It is, of course, tempting to lay all this at the feat of Donald Trump, but that really isn’t fair. No, I personally don’t think he gives two tugs of a dead dog’s ding-a-ling about Jewish people here or in Israel, regardless of his daughter’s conversion or even his grandkids. You’d be hard pressed to convince me he gives a damn about anyone at all, so cry about it. Furthermore, I see his moving of the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem less a boon for the Israeli people or even a slap in the Palestinian face, and more a little bonus to American Evangelicals who have way more power and pull in the WHite House than we think. They’re looking to kick the Rapture into gear, and anything that intensifies the situation is cool and the gang with them.

No, we can’t blame this on Trump, like we can’t blame him for the increased racism in the country or the antipathy towards the poor that’s been stinking up the scene. We want to say “this isn’t us,” when this is totally us and this is what we’ve been from the get-go. We’re just now in the past couple of decades not throwing a collective fit over a mixed marriage and a woman boss. If anything – and I’ve said this a number of times – Trump is just allowing us to let our freak flag fly, as it were. He wouldn’t have gotten elected if this wasn’t what we are. Deal.

Regardless, some people who hated Jews apparently targeted a well-known deli in Jersey City, right next to a synagogue full of kids, killing three people. Just before holing up in the deli, the two killers were responsible for the death of a police officer, much appreciated by the local community, who’d stopped them on an unrelated murder investigation. A twist on things, the killers – David Anderson and Francine Graham – may have connections to the Black Hebrew Israelites. Anderson was supposed to have been a former member of the group, named a “black supremacists group” by the Southern Poverty Law Center & noted for their anti-Jewish rhetoric. After meeting Graham, neighbors say Anderson turned into a “dark person”.

Beyond that, at this writing, that’s all we know. The BHIs are considered outsiders from most Afrocentric groups and religions, as well as the Nation of Islam They’ve been accused of a couple murders, but most of their noise is rhetoric and an interpretation of the Bible considered, let’s say, “unique” by both Christians and Jews. It really doesn’t make a difference if they killed Jews for one reason or another; what’s important is that once again the Jewish community in America is absolutely justified in not feeling safe or, for that matter, trusting non-Jews as far as they can throw ’em.

And speaking of give the Jewish American population a bit of a fright, The New York Times did just that when it announced Trump would be signing an executive order to redefine Jews a “nationality” rather than a “religion”. Up until this morning around 10 a.m., a whole lot of Jewish-type folks from across the political spectrum were not digging that stroke one little bit.

Turns out – in what can only considered a continuing effort to further trash their reputation with everyone – the Times was a bit presumptuous. Trump signed an EO concerning Jews this morning, sure, but it was reinterpretation of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (as it applies to Jews) that “harsh criticism of Israel” – particularly that the nation is a “racist endeavor” – college could lose federal funding if anti-Semitic intent was proven. This is pretty much in line with the Obama’s administration’s approach, so there’s that.

That being said, more than a few critics are worried about this new interpretation of the rules. They worry it could be used to crack down on what they consider valid criticism of the Israeli’s governments activities and policies towards Palestinian citizens, particularly the “Boycott, Divest and Sanction Israel” movement (BDS). This is especially noteworthy as the Times opinion page has come down hard on both pro-Palestinian movements and crackdowns against “free speech” on college campuses.

Now. This is one of those places where I make a stand by not making one. I do not get into the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Furthermore, you will never be able to convince me that anyone who feels strongly about this but isn’t Israeli (or Jewish) or Palestinian isn’t acting out malicious intent, using that horrible tangle as a way to indulge in their own bigotry. I could, of course, be wrong, but I really don’t care. There are many things about U.S. involvement in the conflict that doesn’t set well with me, either, but I’m not going to try to change anyone’s mind on this. When you don’t have all the angles covered, you can stay quiet and listen until you do.

Okay, more pleasant topics. Impeachment rolled on today, as we heard from Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz. Rebutting statements by Attorney General Bill “The Bull” Barr, Horowitz said the reported showed that while there was “significant errors or omissions” made by the FBI in their surveillance of former Trump coffee boy Carter Page, there was absolutely no evidence of bias by the organization. While it (hopefully) shut James Comey’s fool mouth for a while, it also pissed off the Trump and his faithful, especially Lindsey Graham, but he’s always pissed off when someone insults His Precious.

In any event, Horowitz kept his answers short and sweet, and basically didn’t move the needle one way or another. The House Judicial Panel is ready to start debating the articles of Impeachment against Trump tonight and we could very well have a vote by Christmas, if not within the fortnight. Interestingly, Republicans in the Senate are leaning towards a witness-free trial and as short as they can make it. It seems they’ve already given up the ghost on impeachment, figuring Trump’s ass is grass and Nancy Pelosi’s a lawnmower there and they can save his hash in the Senate to keep doing their dirty deeds. No doubt, as a friend of mine was wont to say.

Couple more things. For whatever damn reason – and who knows what goes on in that guy’s head – Joe Biden’s people let it leak that if he’s elected, he’s inclined to serve only one term. This has met with… well, confusion on the left side of the spectrum. Lots of folks are, rightly, wondering why in the hell he’s running if that’s the case and, anyway, the damage Trump and the GOP have done to the body politic will take more than one term to fix. On the other had, he’s said all along his whole goal was getting Trump out of office.

It could be he wins come November and steps aside for his veep who’ll hopefully be someone – and let’s be honest here – less old white dude to step in. Biden will be the first octogenarian to run for re-election in 2024, so from that perspective this makes all kind of sense. And let’s face it, your Sanders and your Warrens are all currently fighting for a distant second place and the mainstream Democratic constituency is apparently looking more for a return to “normalcy” rather than radical changes. Well, good luck with that.

Yet another Republican congressmen is throwing in the towel at the end of this term. Florida’s Ted Yoho announced he wouldn’t seek a fifth term, telling a local radio station is honoring a pledge he made to limit his term. Well, that’s as maybe. He did raise almost 50 grand in the third quarter of 2019 and had made mummers than he hadn’t made up his mind about just what he’d do in 2020, so who the hell knows. In any event, the guy’s gone, bringing the number of Republican Congressmen giving up the ghost to 19. I wonder if we can get to an even 20 by the end of the year.

Finally, in an increasingly rare example of top-notch journalism, The Washington Post gave evidence that the United States had “no military solution in Afghanistan. Furthermore, it exposes how the White House and top officials, all the way back to George W. Bush’s administration, waged a deliberate misinformation campaigned for the entirety of the 18-year war to conceal the U.S. military’s absolute failure to do anything but blow up Afghanistan a little more.

If they accomplished anything, the report says, it was to make the difficult region even more a mess and encourage “the development of mass corruption”. Over 40,000 killed (including 2,400 American troops) and trillions that could’ve been used to, for example, not have to take food stamps from people, just spent. Anyhow, read it and weep. Good job, everyone.

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