Thursday, March 21, 2019

Last Call For Wag The Dog, Con't

Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu is facing felony fraud and corruption indictments and refuses to resign, confident that he'll be able to form a government again after elections next month.  He effectively needs a miracle or a short, victorious war to stay in power, and Thursday he got a huge boost to that second prospect with tacit permission from Donald Trump to blast the Golan Heights to ashes.

President Donald Trump’s tweet on Thursday recognizing the Golan Heights as Israeli territory surprised members of his own Middle East peace team, the State Department, and Israeli officials.

U.S. diplomats and White House aides had believed the Golan Heights issue would be front and center at next week’s meetings between Trump and Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the White House. But they were unprepared for any presidential announcement this week.

No formal U.S. process or executive committees were initiated to review the policy before Trump’s decision, and the diplomats responsible for implementing the policy were left in the dark.

Even the Israelis, who have advocated for this move for years, were stunned at the timing of Trump’s message.

“We all found out by tweet,” one Israeli official said. “We’ve been lobbying for this for a long time, but it was not the product of one phone call. There were hints, but we weren’t given advance notice.”

A second Israeli source said that the top-most Israeli leadership was given a heads-up shortly before Trump tweeted the decision, similar to how they were informed of the president’s decision in December to withdraw U.S. troops from Syria.

One U.S. diplomatic source told McClatchy there were “intimations” of a coming policy shift, citing the administration’s decision over a period of months to phase out the use of modifiers such as “occupied” in reference to the Golan Heights in government reports. But, “we weren’t prepared as a department,” the source said. “Usually there’s prep for a rollout and policy briefs on the consequences, but there was none of that.”

Washington has recognized the Golan as Syrian territory under Israeli occupation since the 1970s, subject to a negotiated settlement between the two nations still technically at war.

“After 52 years it is time for the United States to fully recognize Israel’s Sovereignty over the Golan Heights, which is of critical strategic and security importance to the State of Israel and Regional Stability!” Trump tweeted.

The wording of Trump’s tweet likely falls short of a formal, declarative recognition, according to Dan Shapiro, former U.S. ambassador to Israel under former President Barack Obama. But little more than a statement from the president or secretary of state is necessary to secure the major U.S. policy shift.

The White House is mulling several ways to formalize the policy decision, including a potential executive order signing ceremony on Monday with Netanyahu present.

And then Bibi rolls in the tanks and blasts his way to another term.  You'd better believe Trump will be using the same playbook in Venezuela sooner rather than later.

Another Day In Gunmerica

New Zealand is banning and confiscating assault rifles, meanwhile here in Gunmerica, we've simply accepted mass shootings as a feature of democracy, not a bug, and now regularly train educators by shooting them with pellet ammo so they know "what it feels like" to be shot.

An active-shooter training exercise at an Indiana elementary school in January left teachers with welts, bruises and abrasions after they were shot with plastic pellets by the local sheriff’s office conducting the session.

The incident, acknowledged in testimony this week before state lawmakers, was confirmed by two elementary school teachers in Monticello, who described an exercise in which teachers were asked by local law enforcement to kneel down against a classroom wall before being sprayed across their backs with plastic pellets without warning.

“They told us, ‘This is what happens if you just cower and do nothing,’” said one of the two teachers, both of whom asked IndyStar not to be identified out of concern for their jobs. “They shot all of us across our backs. I was hit four times.

“It hurt so bad.”

Now, these teachers and the state’s largest teachers union want to stop this from happening in other Hoosier schools. The Indiana State Teachers Association is lobbying lawmakers to add language prohibiting teachers from being shot with any sort of ammunition to a school safety bill working its way through the Statehouse.

“What we're looking for is just a simple statement in this bill that would prohibit the shooting of some type of projectile at staff in an active shooter drill,” said Gail Zeheralis, director of government relations for the ISTA during testimony in support of House Bill 1004 before lawmakers Wednesday.

The side-effect of terrorizing red state teachers so that they quit their jobs, breaking the unions, and allowing Republicans to finish off public education in the state by turning it over to "learning corporations" is a surely not intended outcome, too.

The White County sheriff said Thursday that his department has conducted similar training before but, after receiving a complaint, will no longer use the air-powered device, called an airsoft gun, with teachers.

Teachers at Meadowlawn Elementary School were supposed to be receiving what is called ALICE training, an "options-based" approach that encourages students and teachers to be proactive in their response to an active shooter and teaches tactics that include rushing a shooter in some situations.

Thousands of schools across the country, including many in Indiana, are using ALICE already. Shooting teachers with plastic pellets is not typically part of the training.

Not yet, anyway.

State Media Successful In America

America deserves FOX News as state media, and we're getting it whether we want it or not as a new poll finds more than three-quarters of Republican viewers now believe Donald Trump is the most successful president in American history.

Almost 8 in 10 Republicans who watch Fox News say Donald Trump is the most successful president in history.

That was just one finding of a new poll showing the deep ideological divide between Fox News viewers and everyone else. The poll results were provided to The Daily Beast by Navigator, a project launched by Democratic groups Global Strategy Group and GBA strategies. They surveyed more than 1,000 registered voters online with the goal of examining the differences in views between Fox News viewers and non-Fox viewers.

It comes after Democratic strategists have debated whether candidates and officeholders should appear on Trump’s favorite cable news channel to win over its regular viewers. Candidates like Sen. Amy Klobuchar have deliberately made efforts to speak to Fox News viewers, and the Democratic National Committee briefly entertained the idea of hosting a debate on Fox News before deciding against it.

But Thursday’s survey shows why many in the party have largely written off the network’s viewers as a lost cause.

The survey’s authors argue that the network presents an “alternate reality” in American politics, and plays an “outsized role in the way many experience and form opinions on the most important issues facing the country.”

The data show numerous ways in which Fox News-watching Republicans have radically different beliefs from non-Republicans and even Republicans who do not watch Fox News. 
Republicans who don’t watch Fox News, for example, are over twice as likely to believe climate change is man-made, compared to just 12 percent of Republicans who watch Fox News. According to the poll, 78 percent of Republicans who watch Fox News believe Trump has accomplished more than any other president in history, compared to 49 percent of Republicans who do not watch Fox News. And 79 percent of Republican Fox News viewers said they believed people within the FBI and US intelligence agencies were trying to sabotage Trump, compared to 49 percent of non-Fox News viewing Republicans and just 8 percent of non-Fox News viewing registered voters who did not identify as Republican.

“Where Republican partisan affiliation and the Fox News echo-chamber overlap, there is near unanimity on the politics and even the facts defining the Trump presidency. This is the ‘FoxHole,’” the pollsters said. “What the Navigator data demonstrates is this particular segment of the public is so vastly different from the rest, it may serve progressives best to focus their attention on everyone else.”


Stop chasing FOX News viewers.

They are lost.  They are a cult.  They are dangerous.


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