Friday, November 1, 2019

Who could be in Durham’s investigative crosshairs? Obama-era figures have reason to sweat - Brooke Singman

by Brooke Singman

“Durham is at a point where he knows he has crimes and now the question is how many people were involved -- and what the charges can be and whether or not they can get some cooperators.”

A number of former high-level Obama administration officials could fall into the investigative crosshairs of U.S. Attorney John Durham's team as his probe into the handling of the Russia investigation rises to the level of a criminal inquiry.
The elevation in status means the U.S. attorney for Connecticut will be able to subpoena witnesses, file charges and impanel grand juries.

“You do not impanel a grand jury at this point unless you are going to indict,” a source familiar with the investigation told Fox News. “Durham is at a point where he knows he has crimes and now the question is how many people were involved and they have a pretty good idea of that group of people and what the charges can be and whether or not they can get some cooperators.”

The development has prompted allegations from Democrats that the Department of Justice is being politicized. Attorney General Bill Barr, however, rejected those claims and defended the Durham probe in an interview earlier this week with Fox News, while accusing the James Comey-era FBI brass of a "failure of leadership."

Those bureau leaders and others could well be questioned as part of Durham's probe, as speculation runs rampant over who might be at risk of being charged.

For his part, Comey was asked about Durham’s investigation at the recent Politicon convention in Nashville. He said he's “not worried about a single thing in connection with any of the matters under investigation.”

“Gather the facts, write a report and share it with the American people — please do that,” Comey said. “Don’t drip it out. Don’t leak it out. Give it out. And I’m confident that when the American people see the picture of why we did what we did, their confidence in the institution will be maintained, restored and protected.”

Comey also praised Durham as someone who has “a strong professional reputation” and someone he has “for years thought was an excellent prosecutor."

“I would hope Mr. Durham will do everything possible to protect his reputation from being damaged by those in leadership, and the most important way he can do that is give us transparency,” he continued.

One source told Fox News that Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz’s forthcoming report, which will focus on alleged abuses of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) in connection with the early stages of the Russia probe, will shed light on why Durham’s investigation has become a criminal inquiry.

Horowitz, for more than a year and a half, has been investigating alleged misconduct related to the FISA warrants delivered by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. The Justice Department and the FBI obtained warrants during the final months of the Obama administration in 2016 to surveil Trump adviser Carter Page. It is unclear, at this point, if Page was the only Trump campaign official that the DOJ obtained a FISA warrant against.

With regard to Page’s FISA application, there was “one initial FISA warrant” targeting his and three other renewals from the FISC. The statute requires that every 90 days a FISA order on an American citizen “must be reviewed.”

Former FBI Director Comey signed three FISA applications for Page, while former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, former Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, former Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates and former Acting Deputy Attorney General Dana Boente signed at least one, according to a House Republican memo filed last year.

One source told Fox News that it would be a “necessity” for Durham to interview the majority of those officials as part of his probe.


Meanwhile, Fox News has learned that Durham is “very interested” in questioning former CIA Director John Brennan and former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper. According to a source familiar with the situation, Brennan has received word from his attorney that he may be contacted by Durham’s office, but Clapper has received no such communication at this time.

A prominent Trump critic, Brennan continues to take swipes at the president amid the impeachment inquiry over allegations he improperly pressured Ukraine to launch politically helpful investigations. After Trump questioned the account of a witness who this week voiced concerns about those conversations, Brennan tweeted: "As in previous times of National peril, we rely on our military, diplomats, intelligence officials, law enforcement officers, & other courageous patriots to protect our liberties, freedom, & democracy. May they stay resolute & strong despite corrupt political headwinds they face."

Because Durham’s investigation is focused on a timeline spanning from the weeks leading up to the 2016 presidential election through the spring of 2017, former FBI special agent Peter Strzok will likely be seen as another key figure. Strzok, on July 31, 2016, officially opened the FBI’s initial Russia investigation.

In a separate review led by Horowitz, politically charged text messages between Strzok and former FBI lawyer Lisa Page were revealed. Page was also involved in the early stages of the bureau’s Russia probe, and she and Strzok both later served on former Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team to investigate Russian meddling and alleged collusion with members of the Trump campaign during the 2016 election.

Strzok's role has also come under question regarding the original interview of former national security adviser Mike Flynn, who later pleaded guilty to giving false statements concerning his discussions with Russia's ambassador. His lawyer recently alleged that official FBI files on that interview were manipulated.

Prosecutors have cast doubt on these allegations, though, saying in a Tuesday filing: "In an extraordinary reversal, the defendant now claims that he is innocent of the criminal charge in this case" and "makes this claim despite having admitted his guilt, under oath, before two federal judges."
Also, as part of his probe, Durham has traveled with Attorney General Barr to Italy and had conversations with law enforcement officials in the U.K. and Australia about their investigation, according to multiple sources familiar with the meetings.

The team is “gathering information from numerous sources, including a number of foreign countries,” Justice Department spokeswoman Kerri Kupec said.

This week, during an exclusive interview with Fox News, Barr said that while he’s assisting in connecting Durham with countries that could have valuable information, Durham is running the show.

“He is in charge of the investigation, I’m not doing the investigation,” Barr said, calling Durham “thorough and fair.”

“Some of the countries that John Durham thought might have some information that would be helpful to the investigation wanted preliminarily to talk to me about the scope of the investigation, the nature of the investigation, and how I intended to handle confidential information and so forth,” Barr said. “So I initially discussed these matters with those countries and introduced them to John Durham and established a channel by which Mr. Durham can obtain assistance from those countries.”

But Democrats have blasted Durham’s investigation, and taken direct aim at Barr.

“The Department of Justice under AG Barr has lost its independence and become a vehicle for President Trump’s political revenge,” House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., and House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., said in a joint statement after learning Durham’s probe had become a criminal inquiry. “If the Department of Justice may be used as a tool of political retribution or to help the President with a political narrative for the next election, the rule of law will suffer new and irreparable damage.”

Democratic Sen. Mark Warner also spoke out against Durham’s probe, saying Friday that the Senate Intelligence Committee “is wrapping up a three-year bipartisan investigation, and we’ve found nothing remotely justifying this.”

He called on Barr to testify before Congress.

In response to such criticism, Barr said, "It wouldn't be appropriate at this stage for me to discuss the Durham investigation." He said he'd "certainly inform the public and Congress" when possible.

As for the direction of the investigation, he said: "We’ll let the chips fall where they may.”

Fox News' Jake Gibson and Sam Dorman contributed to this report. 

Brooke Singman is a Politics Reporter for Fox News. Follow her on Twitter at @brookefoxnews.


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Iran's Model: Smash the Protests in Lebanon and Iraq - Seth Frantzman

by Seth Frantzman

When Hezbollah needs to show its muscle, it will, and the army or others will back down. After all, no one wants another civil war.

Supporters of the Iranian-backed Hezbollah movement assault an anti-government protestor in Beirut, Lebanon, on October 29. (Hassan Ammar/AP)
You cannot protest in the Middle East. That has become clear in Iraq, as more than 200 people have been murdered by snipers and security forces. On Tuesday, Hezbollah and supporters of the Amal Movement Party attacked a peaceful protest in Beirut, scattering soldiers and civilians and destroying their tents.
Iran and its allies are concerned that protests will challenge its attempts to slowly consume Lebanon and Iraq. Any mass mobilization of young people or anyone who wants to dissent must be crushed. In Iraq, it is being crushed with bullets and tear gas canisters purposely fired at people's heads.

In Lebanon, in front of the world's media where Hezbollah tries to pretend it is a normal political party "defending" Lebanon, it is crushed differently. But in the end, Hezbollah, the "resistance," is only good at bullying average people and silencing them, just as it silenced former prime minister Rafic Hariri with a car bomb in 2005. Today, Rafic's son, Saad, is set to resign as prime minister. It has been more than 14 years since his father was murdered and the rage from the murder helped push Syria to leave Lebanon and momentarily left Hezbollah stunned.

Iran is concerned that protests will challenge its attempts to slowly consume Lebanon and Iraq.
But Hezbollah clawed its way back. It launched a war on Israel in 2006 to try to gain legitimacy and to preserve its arsenal. Then, it involved itself in the Syrian Civil War in 2012, sending its fighters there. It hijacked the parliament and the presidency, forcing its candidate through. Even though it has only 13 seats in parliament, it is allied with Amal's 17 parliamentarians and the Free Patriotic Movement, giving it strength.

It showed its strength on Tuesday after a week of protests had left Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah wondering what to do. Nasrallah needs to pose as if he is resisting Israel, not as if he is a stagnating oligarch thirsty for power in Lebanon and seeking to wrap Hezbollah's tentacles around the country. So when young people came to the streets and inspired Lebanon in the last week, those people had to be stopped, lest they take away the crown of sectarianism that Hezbollah wears. Human chains and people doing nice things in Beirut, things not involving showing off rifles and missiles and talking of martyrdom, the way Hezbollah does in its rallies, were looked on with suspicion by Hezbollah.

A French photographer is attacked by Hezbollah supporters while covering the protests on October 29. (AP/Hussein Malla)
Nasrallah has warned of "strife" and Hezbollah hints of "foreign interference," the conspiracies borrowed from pro-Iranian parties in Iraq. Nasrallah is a close ally of Iraq's Kata'ib Hezbollah and Harakat Hezbollah, and Qais Khazali of Asaib Ahl al-Haq and Hadi al-Amiri of the Badr Organization, all of them similar to Hezbollah in Iraq. Khazali even toured Hezbollahstan in southern Lebanon to look into Israel and say that Iraqi Shi'ite militias will fight alongside Hezbollah.

Since Tuesday morning, tensions boiled over between Hezbollah, Amal and the protesters in Beirut. Tents were attacked and security forces "unable" to stop the attackers. In reality, the security forces could but they know their place. When Hezbollah needs to show its muscle, it will, and the army or others will back down. After all, no one wants another civil war. Attacks on the protest tents were caught on video in Beirut. It was an organized mob attempt to stifle the protest. It is a reminder of the 2008 clashes in Lebanon between the Future Party and Hezbollah, which also led to Hezbollah entering west Beirut and showing its ability to project power. This is the Iranian model, one perfected in suppressing protests in December 2018 and in 2009.

An Iraqi protestor lies injured after clashes with Iranian-backed security forces earlier this month.
Nasrallah had prepared for this moment from October 25. That was the same day that Iraqis went back to the streets to protest, often attacking pro-Iranian party offices. In Iraq, some 200 people have been killed. In Lebanon, Nasrallah flexed his muscles a bit on October 25 when some clashes and images of Hezbollah members parading in vehicles were shown. He accused the protests of being supported by outside powers, including the US and Gulf countries. Nasrallah even made sure to include a Lebanese flag in his broadcast to show that he cares about Lebanon and not just Hezbollah and Iran.

So far, Hezbollah's tactic was to send goons to attack the protesters who pretend to be locals. They are reticent at a full confrontation with security forces in areas like Riad al-Solh square. Now all eyes turn to Hariri and, of course, what comes next. But Hariri knows what happens if he does anything too aggressive or confrontational. He'll end up like his father. He'll end up like Samir Kassir, Pierre Gemayel Jr., Kamal Jumblatt and all the rest who have been assassinated over the years in Lebanon.

Seth Frantzman, a Middle East Forum writing fellow, is the author of After ISIS: America, Iran and the Struggle for the Middle East (2019), op-ed editor of The Jerusalem Post, and founder of the Middle East Center for Reporting & Analysis.


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Jew-Hatred Exposed at University of Minnesota During National Students for Justice in Palestine Conference -


U. Minnesota named one of the “Top Ten Colleges that Promote Jew Hatred and Incite Terrorism.”

In a stealth campaign to reach students directly, the David Horowitz Freedom Center today distributed 2000 newspapers containing its new report on the “Top Ten Colleges that Promote Jew Hatred and Incite Terrorism” as well as posters condemning the Hamas-funded BDS movement against Israel on the University of Minnesota campus. The University of Minnesota is one of the schools named in the report.
The newspaper distribution coincides with the National Students for Justice in Palestine Conference, a highly controversial event known for promoting Jew hatred and anti-Israel terrorism, which will take place this weekend at the University of Minnesota.

Titled “From Campus to Congress: Allied with Terror,” the report documents the malignant spread of Jew hatred in our nation’s academic institutions. “Jew hatred is no longer solely the purview of academic outliers, those institutions known for radical activism and absurdist teachings,” the report explains. “The Jew hatred promoted by Hamas through its front group Students for Justice in Palestine has now trickled down to infect less typically activist campuses in the heartland—including the University of Minnesota which will host this year’s National Students for Justice in Palestine conference.”

A poster included in the pages of each newspaper highlights the role that Congresswoman Ilhan Omar, whose district includes the University of Minnesota, has played in promoting the anti-Semitic Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel. The poster features images of Rep. Omar and Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler, accompanied by a notorious tweet from Omar stating “Israel has hypnotized the world, may Allah awaken the people and help them see the evil doings of Israel.” The caption above this image states “BDS: Finishing the Work that Hitler Started.” These same posters were also hung in public locations on the Minnesota campus.

“For nearly two decades, SJP has promoted Hamas lies and propaganda in order to establish a beachhead of support for anti-Israel terrorists on American campuses, resulting in a dramatic rise in anti-Semitic incidents and the harassment of Jewish students,” said David Horowitz, founder of the Freedom Center. “

“American universities like the University of Minnesota allow these terrorist allies to use their authority and prestige to lend this genocidal offensive an aura of respectability,” Horowitz continued. “Our campaign intends to expose SJP and other supporters of BDS as fronts for Hamas and to press universities to cease their funding and support of these organizations.”

Visit for more information on SJP’s links to Hamas and to read our new report on the Top Ten Colleges that Promote Jew Hatred and Incite Terrorism.

The David Horowitz Freedom Center, founded in 1988, is a not-for-profit organization located in Sherman Oaks, California. The Center’s mission is to defend free societies like America and Israel, which are under attack by totalitarians both religious and secular, domestic and foreign.



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Watson Video: Why the WOKE Establishment Hates Joker - Paul Joseph Watson

by Paul Joseph Watson

A movie holds up a mirror to the trashworld the Left created.

In this new video, Paul Joseph Watson talks about why the progressive establishment media was so afraid of the movie Joker -- and why it so actively tried to discourage people from seeing it. Don't miss it!

Paul Joseph Watson


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A Majority of White Democrats Have Become Non-Christian - Daniel Greenfield

by Daniel Greenfield

And what that means for America.

In Obama's first year in office, 68% of white Democrats described themselves as Christians, 7% claimed to be members of other faiths, and 24% said that they had no religious affiliation.

A decade later, only 47% of white Democrats call themselves Christians. 10% are members of other faiths, and 42% have no religion.

A majority of white Democrats have ceased to be Christian.

The Obama era transformed the country and the party. It’s often observed that the Democrats of the JFK era are not the Democrats of today. But forget 1961, an era that is receding into the shadows of history. The Democrats of 2019 are not the Democrats of 2009. We are a different nation because of it.

The results of the Pew survey are startling and yet unsurprising. They explain why the Democrat debate stage included a cult leader and a call to go after churches and synagogues that don’t back gay marriage.  

Not even Obama would have proposed such a thing in 2009. But much has changed since then.

Obama was born in 1961. 67% of Generation X was Christian. Millennials are now a quarter of the electorate and they are evenly divided between Christians and non-Christians. Generation Z represents another 9% of the electorate and it’s been described as the least religious generation ever. 

Beto O’Rourke’s proposals to confiscate guns or go after the tax-exempt status of traditional religious organizations only seem radical to older voters. They’re not radical to the younger voters he’s courting.

O’Rourke, Sanders, and Buttigieg all endorsed abortion until the moment of birth. As has been noted, this position is far more radical than the one Obama ran on. But so is the 2019 Democrat electorate.

While Buttigieg and Booker try to tap into lefty pseudo-religious politics, O’Rourke dispenses with the phony religion by appealing to the new rising demographics of the Democrats. And, despite the headline, those demographics are not only white. The decline among minority Democrats has not been as dramatic as among white Democrats, but the number of black Democrats who describe themselves as Christian still fell from 84% to 74% from 2009 to 2018-2019. Hispanic Christian identification among Democrats declined from 82% to 71%. Among Democrats as a whole, only 55% identify as Christian.

That’s down from 72% in 2009.

Generational shifts will see older, more religious Democrats making way for a new generation. Before long a majority of all Democrats will no longer identify as Christians or as religious believers.

The Democrats have not only adopted values that are fundamentally hostile to traditional religious believers, but the demographics show that they are living out those values. And, as Beto O’Rourke demonstrated, see less reason to hide them or to pay lip service to religiosity in an irreligious party.

At current rates, Catholics will form a larger share of the GOP than of the Democrats. Protestants, who made up 46% of the Democrats in 2009, have declined to 35%, falling from nearly half to a little over a third. 1 in 5 Democrats have never attended religious services.

Republicans and Democrats are no longer divided by their approach to religion, but by religion itself.

And this loss of any common set of values has tremendous implications for the conflicts tearing the country apart. Democrats and Republicans have less in common than they ever did before, including during the conflict that tore apart the country and left 620,000 men lying on the nation’s battlefields.

What were once debates over issues increasingly became cultural divides, generation gaps, racial conflicts, and now, religious divides, that are becoming impossible to bridge. Americans find it harder than ever to compromise on the issues or to even care about the issues, because their differences and divisions have become the real issue. Everything else is becoming a mere marker of the divisions.

The changing Democrats demographics did not come out of nowhere, but the swiftness of the sea change within a decade is also a forerunner of the changes that will transform politics as we know it.

Republicans will increasingly face a Democrat opposition that does not have a different vision of religion, but that treats it at best as an odd superstition, and, at worst, a destructive and evil set of beliefs.

The First Amendment, already under assault, will face the same attacks that were visited on the Second.

The Second Amendment is under siege because a sizable percentage of the country, primarily living in urban and suburban areas, sees no legitimate reason why anyone would want to own a gun. That is the essence of the gun control argument. Everything else is propaganda, narrative, and meaningless noise.

The Democrats are on track to becoming a political party whose base sees freedom of religion as an equally outmoded historical relic envisioned by old, dead white slave owners who had strange beliefs. They don’t and won’t see why anyone should have the right to have hateful beliefs or read hateful texts.

What will religious freedom look like when the average Democrat views religion the way that he does firearms?

We are about to find out.

America is not entering uncharted territory. It’s following in the footsteps of Europe. In the UK, only 3% of 18-24 year olds identify as Anglicans, and only 5% as Catholics, among 25-34 year olds, 5% identify as Anglicans and 9% as Catholics. 64% of 18-24 year olds say that they have no religion, as do 57% of 25-34 year olds, and 60% of 35-44 year olds.

Freedom of religion cannot survive under these conditions. And indeed, that is the case in the UK.

People have to believe in something and being convinced that their children will die because people won’t stop using plastic bags and straws is a belief. It’s the sort of belief that leads to genocide. As is the conviction that religion, nationality, and every non-approved identity must be stamped out for equality.

The decline of religion is not leading us to a more tolerant world. Instead, it’s intolerance that’s rising.

And that’s inevitable.

Tolerance for differing beliefs originated from religious differences. America has freedom of conscience because it was founded by settlers and colonists fleeing religious persecution who then had to determine how to deal with religious dissent in their own ranks. The ideological fanatics driving the Democrats come from a leftist radicalism that has never learned to cope with political differences.

It lacks the toolset of tolerance. And does not even recognize that it applies to political enemies.

The Democrats have embraced a new idea of diversity that applies to every possible variety of skin color and sexual combination, as long as its members unwaveringly share their beliefs on every single issue. Their politics embraces everything, and as everything is politicized, the only remaining dissents allowed are on matters so trivial, or obscure, that they cannot be politicized. This is the new tolerance.

In a decade, the Democrats were almost incomprehensibly transformed. And the country with them.

To understand why America is being torn apart, why its political norms are shattering, and talk of civil war is in the air, we must begin with the fundamental transformation, not of the government, but of us.

Daniel Greenfield, a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center, is an investigative journalist and writer focusing on the radical Left and Islamic terrorism.


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The Pronoun Police Are Out to Destroy Children - Eileen F. Toplansky

by Eileen F. Toplansky

Transgender madness becoming a tornado.

In the olden days, students would learn that avoiding shifts in person is critical in producing clear and cogent writing.

Not anymore.

Instead, October 16, 2019 marked International Pronouns Day, because "asking someone their [sic] lived pronouns and using them affirms that person's gender identity and is a major way of respect. Being referred to by the wrong pronouns especially affects transgender and gender nonconformng individuals."

O Brave New World.

In order to promote the cause of pronoun use, one needs to accept the premise that it is patently incorrect to think of biological sexual identity as comprising a boy or a girl.

Rid yourself of this view, because according to the purveyors of pronoun plurality, "we also live in a culture that uses 'gender' and 'sex' interchangeably. However, these two aspects that contribute [to] one's sexuality and identity are actually two separate entities. As we come to understand how different people understand the various facets that make up how we think about gender, we come to realize that there are many ways to look at these aspects of identity. One way to simplify the many components of gender identity, gender expression, sexuality, and biological sex is by using the Genderbread Person model, created and illustrated [b]y Sam Killerman, author of and LGBT advocate."

Well, we can now discard the children's book The Gingerbread Man, as this is discriminatory.
The pronoun police further explain:
[I]t is important to understand that the graphic representation is limited, and the implicit implication of the existence of gender identity as binary states and/or expression for each of these domains on any single line is not necessarily accurate and/or illustrative of a real person. ... [T]hese definitions continue to grow and change as we learn more about the interplay of gender expression and gender identity with further research. Some may even argue that the widely accepted definition of gender identity does not align with their own definition and way in which they view themselves and navigate the world. ...
Those who choose not to use a person's identified pronouns and instead use other pronouns are both invalidating another's identity and also potentially implying invalidation which may not have been intended.
In case more clarity is required, it is important to understand that even when dealing with the issue of relieving bodily functions, it is vital to use the term "all-gender" bathrooms rather than "gender-neutral" because the former indicates "that the ... community recognizes that genders exist outside of the binary model, i.e. the idea that humans are only 'male' or 'female.' In fact, this may include people of various (or no) genders[.]"

Daniel Moody writes that "[y]ou don't need to be a psychology professor to realize that an attempt to transplant pronouns from the body to the mind is an attempt to destroy our ability to communicate. Consider: John can choose from infinite gender identities, with no fixed link between any one gender identity and any one set of pronouns.
For example, John and Joan might each identify as 'female,' with John using she/her/hers and Joan using, say, red/white/blue. What does all this mean? It means gender pronouns are hyper-volatile. John might change his pronouns (without changing his gender identity), or he might change his gender identity (without changing his pronouns), or he might change both. Furthermore, he might do any of these things at any time and for any and no reason. That's a lot of badges.
Not content with collapsing the sexes into each other, the ideology also wants to collapse the difference between the singular and the plural.
At root, the notion of gender pronouns is a category error, a misunderstanding of the nature of language. Gender identities don't have pronouns, for the same reason ages and skin colors don't — namely that sexes do have pronouns. There can be no such thing as a non-binary pronoun because there are no non-binary sexes, and there can be no such thing as a neutral pronoun because there are no non-sexed bodies.
But in this arena of alleged inclusivity, may the heavens help you if you do not use transgender pronouns. High school teacher Peter Vlaming lost his job because, although he agreed to use the trans gender student's opposite-sex name, he refused to use transgender pronouns.

Like the actual Gingerbread Man, which was a lesson to young children to be suspicious of the dangerous fox, we need to be wary of this latest assault on young people. After all, "starting July 1, 2020, all Illinois public schools are legally required to teach children LGBT history and only buy textbooks that include the topic."

In fact, "[t]he explicit goal of such laws, which are also in place in California, Colorado, New Jersey, and Oregon, is to make children agree with the left's views of sexuality, which contradict the historic views of all major world religions. This is not only the open, stated goal of those pushing such laws but also explicit in the curriculum."

Transgender politics has even infected women's sports as a transgender wrestler has won the Texas girls' Class 6A 110-pound division for the second year in a row.

More recently, a seven-year old boy may end up receiving transgender treatments if his mother eventually gets her way. Injecting hormones into and performing surgery on a perfectly healthy individual would be tantamount to child abuse, but not when it comes to leftist ideology.

It is highly doubtful that young people will ever learn that hundreds of transgender people want to re-assume their sex, but the mutilation cannot be undone. 

Will they ever be informed that "[a] U.S. researcher recently did a study that confirmed at least two 13-year-old girls and five 14-year-old girls have been given double mastectomies as a result of identifying as transgender"?

Moreover, a review of the research available on this topic found that "[o]nly a minority of children who experience cross-gender identification will continue to do so into adolescence or adulthood.'" Will young people ever learn that "long term studies of people who underwent sex reassignment [sic] surgery had death rates three times higher from all causes?"

Will they ever, in the halls of now increasingly illiberal schools, ever find out about the landmark case of James Shupe? In 2016, "an Oregon circuit court ruled Shupe could change his gender to nonbinary, the first legal ruling of his kind. Shupe recounts his experience living as the opposite sex, regretting it, returning to live as his birth sex, and becoming a vocal opponent of transgender medicine altogether."

Transgender policies and pronouns are another tool in the leftist nightmare arsenal intended to confuse biology, harm and maim children, devalue women in sports, diminish parental concerns for their offspring, and distort scientific fact.

Distortion of language is the first sign of tyranny. As one young woman learned the hard way, the tragic transgender contagion is cruel and irreversible.

Eileen Toplansky can be reached at


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Democrats have turned California into a problem-plagued burning nightmare - Victor Davis Hanson

by Victor Davis Hanson

Has California become premodern?

More than 2 million Californians were recently left without power after the state’s largest utility, Pacific Gas and Electric — which filed for bankruptcy earlier this year — preemptively shut down transmission lines in fear that they might spark fires during periods of high autumn winds.

Consumers blame the state for not cleaning up dead trees and brush, along with the utility companies for not updating their ossified equipment. The power companies in turn fault the state for so over-regulating utilities that they had no resources to modernize their grids.

Californians know that having tens of thousands of homeless in their major cities is untenable. In some places, municipal sidewalks have become open sewers of garbage, used needles, rodents and infectious diseases. Yet no one dares question progressive orthodoxy by enforcing drug and vagrancy laws, moving the homeless out of cities to suburban or rural facilities, or increasing the number of mental hospitals.


Taxpayers in California, whose basket of sales, gasoline and income taxes is the highest in the nation, quietly seethe while immobile on antiquated freeways that are crowded, dangerous and under nonstop makeshift repair.

Gas prices of $4 to $5 a gallon — the result of high taxes, hyper-regulation and green mandates — add insult to the injury of stalled commuters. Gas tax increases ostensibly intended to fund freeway expansion and repair continue to be diverted to the state’s failing high-speed rail project.

Residents shrug that the state’s public schools are among weakest in the nation, often ranking in the bottom quadrant in standardized test scores. Elites publicly oppose charter schools but often put their own kids in private academies.

Californians know that to venture into a typical municipal emergency room is to descend into a modern Dante’s Inferno. Medical facilities are overcrowded. They can be as unpleasant as they are bankrupting to the vanishing middle class that must face exorbitant charges to bring in an injured or sick child.

No one would dare to connect the crumbling infrastructure, poor schools and failing public health care with the non-enforcement of immigration laws, which has led to a massive influx of undocumented immigrants from the poorest regions of the world, who often arrive without fluency in English or a high-school education.

Stores are occasionally hit by swarming looters. Such Wild West criminals know how to keep their thefts under $950, ensuring that such “misdemeanors” do not warrant police attention. California’s permissive laws have decriminalized thefts and break-ins. The result is that San Francisco now has the highest property crime rate per capita in the nation.

Has California become premodern?

Millions of fed-up middle-class taxpayers have fled the state. Their presence as a stabilizing influence is sorely missed. About one-third of the nation’s welfare recipients live in California. Millions of poor newcomers require enormously expensive state health, housing, education, legal and law-enforcement services.

California is now a one-party state. Democrats have supermajorities in both houses of the Legislature. Only seven of the state’s 53 congressional seats are held by Republicans. The result is that there is no credible check on a mostly coastal majority.

Huge global wealth in high-tech, finance, trade and academia poured into the coastal corridor, creating a new nobility with unprecedented riches. Unfortunately, the new aristocracy adopted mindsets antithetical to the general welfare of Californians living outside their coastal enclaves. The nobodies have struggled to buy high-priced gas, pay exorbitant power bills and deal with shoddy infrastructure — all of which resulted from the policies of the distant somebodies.

California’s three most powerful politicians — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Sen. Dianne Feinstein and Gov. Gavin Newsom — are all multimillionaires. Their lives, homes and privileges bear no resemblance to those of other Californians living with the consequences of their misguided policies and agendas.

The state’s elite took revolving-door entries and exits for granted. They assumed that California was so naturally rich, beautiful and well-endowed that there would always be thousands of newcomers who would queue up for the weather, the shore, the mountains and the hip culture.

Yet California is nearing the logical limits of progressive adventurism in policy and politics.
Residents carefully plan long highway trips as if they were ancient explorers charting dangerous routes. Tourists warily enter downtown Los Angeles or San Francisco as if visiting a politically unstable nation.

Insatiable state tax collectors and agencies are viewed by the public as if they were corrupt officials of Third World countries seeking bribes. Californians flip their switches unsure of whether the lights will go on. Many are careful about what they say, terrified of progressive thought police who seem more worried about critics than criminals.

Our resolute ancestors took a century to turn a wilderness into California. Our irresolute generation in just a decade or two has been turning California into a wilderness.

Victor Davis Hanson


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In Lebanon, Nasrallah Loses Support - Hugh Fitzgerald

by Hugh Fitzgerald

The leaders amass fortunes while the economy is in free fall.

In Lebanon, after the government in October announced plans to increase taxes on tobacco, alcohol, and WhatsApp calls, protesters took to the streets. In a country where the confessional divide has traditionally been of great consequence, members of all three major sects – the Christians, Shi’ites, and Sunnis – have joined the protests, a unity born of shared frustration and rage. Even after the government rescinded those tax increases, the protests continued, with ever-increasing numbers of protesters; they have become protests not against specific policies, but against the entire government, the corrupt political elite whom the protesters want to resign en masse. For Lebanon’s economy is in a parlous state, while that elite – whose members play musical chairs with government offices – continue, in every economic weather, to line their pockets. The anger on the streets is understandable. The Lebanese President, Michel Aoun, has amassed a fortune of $90 million. His son-in-law, Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil, is now worth $50 million, including $22 million in real estate. The Prime Minister, Sa’ad Hariri, not to be outdone; he has a net worth of $3.8 billion, much of it inherited from his late father, Rafik Hariri, who amassed his fortune of over $10 billion through corruption. The Speaker of the House, Nabih Berri, a Shi’a ally of Hezbollah, has managed to accumulate $78 million. Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of Hezbollah, though not a member of the government, has a net worth of $250 million.

Meanwhile, the Lebanese economy is in free fall. The national debt of $84 billion is 150% of its GDP; unemployment steadily rises, and for the young workers it is close to 25%; it is made worse for the native Lebanese by the presence of 1.5 million Syrian refugees, who are willing to take the most menial jobs. Many public services have deteriorated. Power cuts are frequent, for the energy infrastructure has not been updated, and this has disrupted the smooth functioning of factories. The cost of living has gone up. The protesters have made clear that they want the entire corrupt political class to resign; it is the endemic corruption and mismanagement by that class that has enraged the protesters.

To take just one example of Lebanon’s state, there is the garbage problem. In much of Lebanon the landfills are full: the largest one, at Naamah, closed down in 2015. This past summer the landfill at Borj Hammoud, one of the two in Beirut, finally was full. Though it closed, toxic pollutants from this landfill continues to fill the air over Beirut. The government has failed to deal with the landfill problem. Instead, garbage is no longer picked up. And again there seems to be no plan by the government to deal with the disposal of garbage. The Lebanese have dealt with this problem by burning massive piles of trash in open fields, which again pollute the air, and also by bulldozing trash into the sea. Much of that trash pushed into the sea is then driven by currents back onto the land, where it piles up on Lebanon’s once-pristine beaches, that have become covered with waste of every conceivable kind.

During these protests that demand the resignation of the government, Hassan Nasrallah, the head of Hezbollah, has taken the side of the government. Though he has often presented himself as a defender of the poor in Lebanon, he has shown himself in this crisis to be concerned only with maintaining his political power. He does not want President Aoun, who though Christian has been Nasrallah’s puppet, to be ousted from the government. He is happy, too, with the pliant Gebran Bassil as Foreign Minister. Even Sa’ad Hariri – whose father Rafik was assassinated by members of Hezbollah – has understood that Hezbollah is not to be opposed; for them, he’s a tame Sunni who has learned the lesson of his father’s death, and will not cause trouble.

So Nasrallah, instead of endorsing the protesters, told them to end their demonstrations. He warned of unnamed dark forces – Israel? Saudi Arabia? America? — that were supposedly behind the protests, in his attempt to delegitimize the whole movement. This merely inflamed the protesters, who began to include Nasrallah and Hezbollah in their chants of denunciation. Still worse, for Nasrallah, was his realization that many Shi’a, including members of Hezbollah who have begun to see him in a new and disturbing light, have joined the protests and not heeded Nasrallah’s call to return home.

This is the first open challenge to his authority from fellow Shi’a that Nasrallah has experienced. He is now viewed – accurately – by many Shi’a not so much as a defender of the nation against Israel, but as one more politician lining his pockets, and completely unable to deal with Lebanon’s economic degringolade.

Even if the current government in Beirut manages to cling to power, Nasrallah has now lost support and prestige among his own Shi’a. He ought never to have come out, with such fury, against the protests. He could have remained silent, thereby distancing himself from the current government, rather than endorsing it and even calling for it to remain in power. Or he might have issued another of his general remarks, to give the impression he was on the side of the protesters. He might have said something like this: “The Lebanese people deserve better from their government. It needs without further delay to solve the problems of unemployment, of the increase in the national debt, of a decline in public services, of the rise in the cost of living. Those who are capable of solving these problems should remain in, or be brought into, the government. Others should rethink their participation. Hezbollah will, as always, do everything it can to help all the citizens of the nation.”

Such remarks will cost him nothing, because they mean nothing. They sound good, and cost him nothing. And that’s enough. Meanwhile, no matter who is in the government, Hassan Nasrallah can continue, unperturbed, to enrich himself. For unlike Aoun, Bassil, Hariri, and Berri, he doesn’t steal from Lebanon itself. Instead he takes a cut both from the financial aid sent to Hezbollah by Iran, and from the proceeds sent to Hezbollah by its members overseas who are involved in the drug trade — cocaine and heroin – produced in South America, and sold in Europe. So he can even declare himself against “government corruption” and, what’s more, Hassan Nasrallah can mean it.

Hugh Fitzgerald


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A Strategic View of the Turkish Campaign Against the Kurds - Maj. Gen. (res.) Gershon Hacohen

by Maj. Gen. (res.) Gershon Hacohen

Israel needs to reconsider the underlying strategic rationale not only of its covert activities in neighboring countries but also its more overt conduct.

BESA Center Perspectives Paper No. 1,331, October 31, 2019

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: In light of recent regional events in general and the Turkish invasion of Syria in particular, Israel needs to reconsider the underlying strategic rationale not only of its covert activities in neighboring countries but also its more overt conduct. Otherwise it could find itself, in case of war with the northern axis (Hezbollah, Iran, and Syria), winning battles but having trouble ending the campaign with a strategic achievement. 

Although Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has waged a relatively short and simple campaign against the Kurdish minority in northeastern Syria, it was enough to produce a strategic shift in the array of forces emerging in the Middle East.

It is clear the Kurds have suffered a huge loss. After eight years of the Syrian civil war, during which they were able to maintain their autonomy in northeastern Syria in an area comprising about 30% of the country, their achievements were wrested from them when Washington turned a cold shoulder to their substantial contribution to the defeat of ISIS.

With that said, it is not yet clear who won. Seemingly, Vladimir Putin’s agreement to a Turkish security zone on Syrian soil—to a depth of 30 kilometers along about 120 kilometers of the Syrian-Turkish border—appears, from Erdoğan’s standpoint, to be a fulfillment of the campaign’s objective. But from another perspective, the Russian president’s achievement is much greater than Erdoğan’s.

All that is known at this point about the campaign concerns visible combat events and publicized diplomatic meetings. But strategic events inevitably involve important aspects that are hidden from public view. It is in these, to a great extent, that lie answers to basic questions. For example, what really motivated President Trump to withdraw his forces and abandon the Kurdish allies in their hour of need? What did Putin and Erdoğan agree on during their parley in Sochi? The information made public about that meeting did not necessarily give a full or accurate picture, and it is entirely possible that the details that were leaked were (like the official announcement) intended to mask the real understandings.

From the standpoint of an industry and management engineer, the phenomenon of war entails a plan of action, as in the planning of an assembly line, with the end result reflecting an initial conception. From this vantage point, the way in which a war is planned must necessarily result from how the desirable end point is defined.

It can be argued that President Putin encouraged his Turkish colleague to launch the campaign because he saw an opportunity to bring Assad’s forces back to northeast Syria while transforming the Syrian army from an oppressive force into the savior of the Kurds.

This, in my assessment, is a Western way of looking at things that is very far from Russian behavioral logic. Moscow does not seem initially to have known what was afoot. But from the moment the event took shape, it decided to make the most of this strategic opportunity to expand its regional influence.

For Erdoğan, the return of Assad’s forces to northeastern Syria posed an unanticipated dilemma. In embarking on war, the Turkish tyrant expected a short and simple campaign at the end of which the Kurdish autonomy would be destroyed. But when the Syrian forces entered the arena, with Russian support, matters got complicated, and he had a hard time seeing how he could end the campaign as he had envisioned. Putin, in inviting Erdoğan to Sochi, offered him a lifeline—an escape hatch to ending the war honorably. With that intervention he became the actor holding the key to halting the campaign and bringing about regional stability amid the labyrinth of interests of all the forces involved.

The Iran-Iraq War, which began 39 years ago, is a case in point of how a war can keep going with no end in sight. A campaign conceived by Saddam Hussein as a blitzkrieg of two or three weeks dragged on for eight years because no superpower had an interest in bringing it to an end. The Yom Kippur War, too, might have continued were it not for US involvement and Kissinger’s effective mediation. In the process, Washington gained growing influence in the Middle East as the actor holding the key to the region’s stability, and later in leading the way to peace treaties.

Although the US still sees itself as holding the key to a regional settlement, the lock has been changed, and it is Putin who holds the new key to fostering regional stability. In the new reality, the foundation on which the regional arrangements have been built since the peace treaty with Egypt—that is, American dominance—is changing and even starting to crack. When the key to ending the war is in the hands of the Russians, the chance of its ending with a diplomatic agreement congenial to Israel is slim.

An effective foreign and defense policy requires identifying and exploiting opportunities even in events that are not connected to a direct existential interest. That is how a country can make its presence felt in cases where such presence is an end in and of itself. In the course of the Syrian civil war, Israel avoided a proactive policy of that kind, orienting both its overt and covert actions to a clear defensive purpose. This stands in stark contrast to its policy in the 1960s and 1970s, when it provided considerable military assistance (including Israeli officers’ participation in the fighting) to the Kurdish struggle in Iraq—even though, at that time, Israel held far less military, diplomatic, and economic power.

The conclusion is clear: an actor that does not dare to join the fray, not even to demonstrate a presence and exploit emerging opportunities, will be reduced to watching the event from the sidelines. In light of recent regional events in general, and in northeastern Syria in particular, Israel needs to reconsider the underlying strategic rationale not only of its covert activities in neighboring countries but also its more overt conduct. Otherwise it could find itself, in case of war with the northern axis (Hezbollah, Iran, and Syria), winning battles but having trouble ending the campaign with a strategic achievement.


This is an expanded version of an article published in Israel Hayom on October 25.

Maj. Gen. (res.) Gershon Hacohen is a senior research fellow at the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies. He served in the IDF for 42 years. He commanded troops in battles with Egypt and Syria. He was formerly a corps commander and commander of the IDF Military Colleges.


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