2018-01-22

Neo on Jordan Peterson interview: "Complicated, thoughtful, and strategic."

Veteran blogger Neo-Neocon brings a professional's insights to the recent interview of Jordan Peterson by Cathy Newman.

What Peterson does in that interview isn’t just on the order of what someone like Thomas Sowell (whom I also admire greatly) habitually does in argument, which is to counter the adversary on the cognitive and logical points, and to apply the results of research to the discussion. Peterson certainly does do that, and that’s what most people see when they watch that interview. But he adds certain techniques of the therapist and particularly of the family therapist (although I really don’t know if he’s done any family therapy; Peterson’s a psychologist and used to have a private practice as a therapist, however).

If you’re mostly familiar with the supportive touchy-feely type of therapy, that’s not what I’m talking about here. I can’t give you a crash course in therapeutic techniques or in particular in the way family therapists work, but I can tell you that it’s complicated, thoughtful, and strategic. ...

Go to the link for the whole thing, with the interview video.

'Liberty: God's Gift to Humanity' by Chana Cox

Liberty: God's Gift to Humanity is an introduction to classical liberalism, from its origins in the English Civil War and the Enlightenment to the present day. If, like me, you have an interest in the subject, but your formal education failed to provide you with a a solid grounding in the basics, this is a great place to start. I'm reading it now, and plan to write a full review when I'm done. Highly recommended.

Melanie Phillips: Silence on the scandal targeting Trump.

Melanie Phillips:

If you are in Britain and relying on the BBC and mainstream media for your information, you probably won’t know that a political scandal has been developing in the Washington swamp which has the potential to make Watergate look positively puny by comparison. You probably won’t know that what passes for the accepted wisdom about President Trump may be in the process of being turned on its head.

The reason there’s been no news coverage is that it suggests Trump has been not the instigator but the target of collusion – between the FBI, the Justice Department, the Democratic party and the Russians, first to prevent him from being elected US President and then to lever him out of office.

Last Thursday, some Republicans in Congress who had seen a secret memo, apparently compiled by House Intelligence Committee chairman Devin Nunes and fellow Republicans on the panel and which involved the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), were so disturbed by what it contained that they called for it to be made public immediately. They were not at liberty to divulge what it said, merely to express their concerns. But the assumption is that it supposedly contains evidence that the Obama administration made illegal use of FISA warrants to spy on both the Trump campaign and transition teams. ...

Read the rest at the link.

2018-01-02

Michael J. Totten on the two Oregons.

My friend Michael J. Totten at City Journal:
Yes, rural Oregonians are more culturally conservative than urban Oregonians. Rural people are more culturally conservative than their urban counterparts everywhere in the world. Oregon, though, is not fighting a cultural civil war. Rather, people on the inland eastern side of the state have an entirely different set of priorities. Rural voters are being micromanaged by Democratic politicians elected in Portland, whose land-use and water-rights policies are inflicting at times devastating economic hardship on the other side of the mountains. Contrary to Frank, they prefer the Republican Party not despite their economic interests but because of them. If the Democrats want to win back these votes in the upcoming midterms, the first thing they need to do is stop kidding themselves. Understanding Oregon is a good place to start.

Oregon is divided geographically, culturally, and politically by the Cascade Mountains, a spectacular range of volcanoes roughly 100 miles inland from the Pacific Ocean that pick up where the Sierra Nevadas leave off, stretching from Lassen County in northern California to the international border with British Columbia. Those mountains are invisible on non-topographical maps. No political boundary takes them into account. The state line between Oregon and Washington mostly follows the Columbia River, and the international border between the United States and Canada follows the 49th parallel. The Cascade Mountains are natural borders, however. Instead of dividing the Pacific Northwest into northern and southern halves along the Columbia River, it might have made more sense to place Portland and Seattle in one state and everything between the Cascades and the Rockies in another. Coming from Portland, I feel more at home in Seattle and even in Vancouver, British Columbia, than I do just an hour east of my house. ...

Read the rest at the link. Michael is well known for his dispatches from Beirut and elsewhere, but he is very knowledgeable about his native Northwest and it's a pleasure to see him address issues close to home. (Michael and I went on a short road trip together back in 2005 and I wrote about it here.)

2018-01-01

World Today: 2018-01-01 Monday

Iran: Anti-regime protests continue. Fox:
A leaked report provided to Fox News shows how Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei met with political leaders and heads of the country's security forces to discuss how to tamp down on the deadly nationwide protests.

The report covered several meetings up to December 31 and was provided to the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) from what it said were high level sources from within the regime.

The meeting notes, which have been translated into English from Farsi, said the unrest has hurt every sector of the country's economy and “threatens the regime’s security. The first step, therefore, is to find a way out of this situation.” ...
Full article with video at the link.

Trump: Pakistan has given us lies and deceit. Arutz Sheva:
U.S. President Donald Trump on Monday threatened to cut off aid to Pakistan due to what he termed as its “deceit” in the fight against terrorism.

“The United States has foolishly given Pakistan more than 33 billion dollars in aid over the last 15 years, and they have given us nothing but lies & deceit, thinking of our leaders as fools. They give safe haven to the terrorists we hunt in Afghanistan, with little help. No more!” he tweeted.

Nigeria: Text of Buhari speech. AllAfrica:
Unfortunately, I am saddened to acknowledge that for many this Christmas and New Year holidays have been anything but merry and happy. Instead of showing love, companionship and charity, some of our compatriots chose this period to inflict severe hardship on us all by creating unnecessary fuel scarcity across the country.

The consequence was that not many could travel and the few who did had to pay exorbitant transport fares. This is unacceptable given that NNPC had taken measures to ensure availability at all depots. I am determined to get to the root of this collective blackmail of all Nigerians and ensure that whichever groups are behind this manipulated hardship will be prevented from doing so again.

Such unpatriotism will not divert the Administration from the course we have set ourselves. Our government's watch word and policy thrust is CHANGE. We must change our way of doing things or we will stagnate and be left behind in the race to lift our people out of poverty and into prosperity.

My address to fellow Nigerians this morning is devoted mainly to informing you about the intense efforts this Administration is putting to address our country's huge infrastructural deficit. ...

Kenya: Uhuru Kenyatta to unveil new cabinet. AllAfrica: 'President Uhuru Kenyatta has said he will unveil his new Cabinet in a few weeks.'

Israel: Knesset approves United Jerusalem bill. Arutz Sheva:
64 MKs voted in favor of the bill, 51 voted against and one abstained.

The bill was authored by Jewish Home chairman and Education Minister Naftali Bennett and was submitted by MK Shuli Moalem-Refaeli (Jewish Home).

The law stipulates that a majority of 80 Knesset members will be required to change the status of Jerusalem or for any transfer of territories from the capital within the framework of a future diplomatic agreement. ...

Israel / Jewish world: Yehuda Glick's wife Yaffa Glick passes. Arutz Sheva:
Yaffa Glick, the wife of Likud MK Yehuda Glick, passed away on Monday morning.

Yaffa was hospitalized at Jerusalem's Shaare Zedek Medical Center in June after she suffered a massive stroke.

"A few minutes ago, the love of my life returned her soul to her Creator," Yehuda Glick wrote Monday morning on Facebook. "Blessed be the true Judge."

2017-12-31

Iran Protests


2017-12-12

Melanie Phillips and others on British Jews, left and right.

Via Melanie Phillips: BBC4's Jo Coburn interviews
The Rt. Hon. Edwina Currie, former Conservative minister; Lord Levy, Middle East envoy for Tony Blair when prime minister; The Rt. Hon. Sir Oliver Letwin, M.P., senior adviser to David Cameron; Jon Lansman, founder of Momentum, the grass-roots movement that supports Jeremy Corbyn as Labour leader; Rabbi Jonathan Romain of Maidenhead Reform Synagogue; Melanie Phillips, columnist on "The Times" and Ruth Smeeth, Labour M.P. for Stoke-on-Trent, North
on changing allegiances for Jews in the UK.

2017-12-06

USA / Israel: President Trump recognizes Jerusalem as capital, pledges embassy move.

Arutz Sheva:
US President Donald Trump announced that the US government officially recognized the city of Jerusalem as the capital of the State of Israel and announced that the US embassy in Israel would be relocated to Jerusalem in a speech at the White House Wednesday.

"After more than two decades of waivers, we are no closer to a lasting peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians. It would be folly to assume that repeating the exact same formula would now produce a different or better result," Trump said.

"Therefore, i have determined that it is time to officially recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. ...

World Today: 2017-12-06 Wed

Saudi Arabia: Stratfor's Jay Ogilvy on Mohammed bin Salman. Stratfor:
His ambitious plan for the kingdom's future, Saudi Vision 2030 — worked out with help from the consulting firm McKinsey & Co. — envisages a whole panoply of reforms. The measures range from health care and education initiatives to a $500 billion project to build a new city to proposals for treating the Saudi economy's "addiction to oil." Along with reform, MbS is taking on his country's cultural and political taboos. He wants to break the taboo against selling off any part of the Saudi Arabian Oil Co., better known as Saudi Aramco, by floating an initial public offering for less than 5 percent of the huge company. Proceeds from the sale would go toward creating the world's largest sovereign investment fund, which, as MbS described in his first interview on Al-Arabiya television, would "take control over more than (10) percent of the investment capacity of the globe" and "own more than (3) percent of the assets on Earth." MbS is also breaking the long-standing taboo that forbids women from driving.

And perhaps most significant, he wants to break the hold of the hard-line Wahhabi clerics who came to power in 1979, when militants occupied Mecca's Grand Mosque at the time of the Islamic revolution in Iran. ...

Gulf States: Stratfor on Gulf Cooperation, or lack thereof. Stratfor:
The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) has stopped cooperating. In fact, the bloc may be fragmenting. Kuwait hosted the 38th GCC Summit on Tuesday, but only one member — Qatar — sent its head of state to the gathering. Moreover, the GCC members decided to cancel the second day of the planned two-day summit. Yet perhaps most concerning for the GCC's future was the United Arab Emirates' announcement that it and Saudi Arabia were planning their own cooperation council for security and economic affairs. Things have been tense in the bloc since Saudi Arabia and some GCC peers' started a campaign to isolate Qatar over differences in regional policies. Of course, the GCC has been beset by squabbles among its six members — Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates — since its inception. But the Emirati announcement shows that the Qatar crisis is leading to a rebalancing in the bloc, one that's emblematic of the larger geopolitical forces pulling the GCC apart.

The recent strife within the GCC is driven in no small part by prevailing concerns that the United States will no longer guarantee the security of states in the Middle East. ...

Afghanistan: US, Afghan forces target Taliban operatives. Long War Journal: 'Resolute Support confirmed that one of the al Qaeda operatives targeted was Omar Khetab (a.k.a. Omar Mansour), “a senior al Qaeda leader” who served as the “second senior leader” in Al Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS). This means that Khetab was a deputy to AQIS emir Asim Umar, the leader of AQIS since its inception in 2014.'

USA / Israel: President Trump expected to announce Jerusalem recognition. Arutz Sheva:
US President Donald Trump said Wednesday that his decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel was "long overdue."

"Many presidents have said they want to do something and they didn't do it,
whether it's courage or they changed their mind, I can't tell you," Trump said.

Later in the evening, Trump will officially announce American recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of the State of Israel.

The president is also expected to announce preparations for the transfer of the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, but the crossing is not expected to take place in the coming months. ...

2017-12-05

Andy Ngo: Racism disguised as anti-racism.

Andy Ngo at Quillette:
When I started my graduate education at Portland State in 2015 after a long hiatus from academe, I attended an event titled, “Students of Color Speak Out.” The university president encouraged all students, staff and faculty to attend the event, organized in reaction to alleged racial tensions on campus. As a student of color and the gay son of refugee immigrants, the event’s premise interested me.

As I sat in the front, I listened to students detail their daily trauma of existing on a campus that was majority white. Students representing many ethnicities repeatedly shared feeling unsafe. I was confounded because their anecdotes spoke of an experience that sounded similar to those who lived in apartheid-era South Africa or Jim Crow Mississippi — not something I remotely recognized in ultra-progressive Portland. Still, I was sympathetic and recognized that my personal experiences may not be shared by others.

My optimism was challenged once I began to pick up on the theme connecting the speeches. ...
Read the rest at the link.

World Today: 2017-12-05 Tuesday

Stratfor on USA / Pakistan: India concerns likely to outweigh USA overtures. Stratfor:
...Pakistan wants to maintain its relationship with the United States, but it's willing to suffer the cost of deteriorating ties. From Islamabad's perspective, supporting the Taliban follows a rational calculation to ensure post-conflict Afghanistan is friendly to Pakistani interests. Support for Taliban leaders is aimed at denying Pakistan's rival, India, a foothold in Afghanistan. Because of this, Mattis' visit probably won't convince Pakistan to change its behavior, especially considering the Trump administration's calls for India to play a greater economic role in Afghanistan.

Israel / Syria: Reported IDF strike on Syrian forces near Damascus. Times of Israel: 'According to the reports out of Syria, the strike targeted the Jamarya military facility and research center, northwest of the Syrian capital. ... The same site was reportedly targeted by Israeli jets in January 2013 targeting a convoy of Russian-made SA-17 missiles being transferred to the Hezbollah terror group, according to Western sources.' Debka:
Lebanese sources say Israel fired six missiles, three of which were intercepted by Syria’s air defense system. This would be the second Israeli air raid in three days of a military target in the Damascus area. Last Saturday, Israeli aircraft attacked a secret conference of pro-Iranian Shiite militia chiefs outside Al-Kiswah, 14km southwest of Damascus and 50km from Israel’s Golan border. Some Iranian and Hizballah officers were killed in that attack as well.
Full article with map graphic at the link.

Saudi Arabia / Qatar: Ayaan Hirsi Ali on the growing conflict.
Ayaan Hirsi Ali at NYT:
The recently promoted heir to the Saudi throne, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, known as M.B.S., has pledged to modernize the country. His agenda includes diversifying the Saudi economy beyond oil, expanding trade, bolstering employment and loosening restrictions on entertainment. But at least two domestic factors complicate his ambitions, and we may see them play out on the world stage in 2018.

The first is the possibility of a challenge to M.B.S.’s ascendancy. Deposing his cousin, Mohammed bin Nayef (M.B.N.), as crown prince and placing him under house arrest, then freezing his personal bank accounts in November, were daring moves, even by the standards of Arab dynastic politics. As the former head of the Saudi secret intelligence service, M.B.N. could prove to be a dangerous enemy.

Second, M.B.S.’s grand strategic reform plan — known as Vision 2030 — is a direct threat to the prestige and power of the established (and reactionary) Wahhabi clergy in Saudi Arabia. ...

2017-12-04

USA / Fusion GPS: Suspicion of pay-to-publish scheme.

Lee Smith at The Federalist:
Court filings released last month by the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence suggest growing evidence of a pay-to-publish scandal that may shake large parts of the Washington press corps.

At the center of the controversy is the Washington DC-based communications shop Fusion GPS, which assembled and distributed the so-called “Steele dossier.” It’s named after former British spy Christopher Steele, who is believed to have authored the document alleging that Donald Trump and members of his campaign colluded with Russia to win the 2016 election. Steele acknowledges that some of the dossier’s information is sourced to Russian officials, including a “top-level intelligence officer.”

... Now the court filing from the U.S. district court for DC shows that Fusion GPS paid several journalists, including three who reported on “Russia issues relevant to [the committee’s] investigation,” the House Intelligence Committee said in a court filing. ...