Friday, November 01, 2019

The J Street Democrats

Ben Shapiro
This week, four of the top candidates for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination — Pete Buttigieg, Amy Klobuchar, Julian Castro and Bernie Sanders — gathered at the J Street Conference to explain why the United States ought to pressure the state of Israel to make concessions to terrorists, why the Obama administration was correct to appease the Iranian regime and why American Jews ought to value the opinions of Bernie Sanders over those of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on the future of Jewish safety. Two other top Democrats — Elizabeth Warren and Joe Biden — sent video messages in support of the group.

By contrast, when the American Israel Public Affairs Committee held its annual conference in March, not a single Democratic presidential candidate showed up. The Democrats are, by and large, simply too ashamed to stand with an actual pro-Israel group, although prominent congressional leaders still show up to mouth nostrums about bipartisan support for Israel.

But the heart of the Democratic Party has moved against Israel. That’s because Israel is economically successful, while its enemies are not; Israel is liberal, while its enemies are not; Israel is the tip of the spear of Western civilization in an area known for its tribalism and brutality. This means that according to the radical left, Israel is an exploitative country hell-bent on domination, despite its lack of territorial ambition — Israel has signed over large swaths of land won through military victory to geopolitical enemies, and offered much more repeatedly.

So the Democrats built up and gave credence to J Street, a Trojan horse group dedicated to undermining American support for Israel and justifying left-wing hatred of the Jewish state. J Street was founded by Clinton operative Jeremy Ben-Ami and Israeli far-left political figure Daniel Levy in late 2007. One of its chief sources of funding — a source obscured in the early years by its founders — was anti-Israel radical George Soros.

The media quickly began treating J Street as a legitimate representative of mainstream Jewish opinion on Israel, and so did Democrats, particularly in the anti-Israel Obama administration: Rather than having to deal with those troublesome actually pro-Israel voices at AIPAC, it was easier to bring in a few ringers from J Street to pretend that advocating for negotiations with Hamas represented an acceptable opinion in the pro-Israel community.

And those sorts of positions routinely crop up at J Street. J Street repeatedly urged the Obama administration to abstain from anti-Israel resolutions at the United Nations. Proponents of the anti-Semitic Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement have found comfort at their events. J Street was an adamant backer of Barack Obama’s Iran deal when the pro-Israel community unanimously opposed it. J Street has refused to condemn a government deal between the Palestinian Authority and Hamas and has even undermined Israeli self-defense in conflicts with Hamas. On campus, J Street regularly hosts groups dedicated to smearing the Israel Defense Forces.

So it was no wonder that Bernie Sanders arrived at the J Street conference and quickly suggested aid to Israel be redirected to the Gaza Strip, run by Hamas, to the cheers of attendees. It was no surprise when Buttigieg suggested that the Iran deal correctly ignored Iran’s terrorist funding and ballistic missile testing, while also suggesting that America reconsider aid to Israel if Israel continues to build in disputed areas of Judea and Samaria. It was no shock when Julian Castro pledged to open an embassy in East Jerusalem for the Palestinians — despite the fact that no solution has been negotiated with regard to the final status of Jerusalem.

Leaders in the Democratic Party may maintain that their anti-Israel turn is due to Benjamin Netanyahu. Those who understand Israeli politics know better. There is wide consensus in Israel that no negotiation can be expected with Hamas, Islamic jihadis or the Palestinian Authority; those negotiations have ended in blood too many times. Absent a peace partner, there can be no peace. Democrats must know this. But they’d prefer to blind themselves to that knowledge — and use J Street to cover their tracks.



More Laws Equal Less Justice

There are way too many laws on the books, making unsuspecting Americans into "criminals."

Most Americans are law-abiding citizens, or so they think. Yet they would be shocked to discover they are likely criminals, since the average American commits three felonies per day!

In their defense, the vast majority of these “criminals” have no idea they are breaking the law. How could they? When the federal government can’t even provide an accurate count of how many statutes and regulations carrying criminal penalties are on the books, how can the average American possibly know?

The current best estimate is that there are more than 300,000 laws and regulations carrying criminal penalties. Three. Hundred. Thousand. As Professor John Baker once said, “There is no one in the United States over the age of 18 who cannot be indicted for some federal crime. That is not an exaggeration.”

Thanks to Congress and its habit of passing laws with little or no requirement for mens rea (a consciousness of guilt, meaning the person knows that what they are doing is wrong), it is literally impossible for any American to know whether some action they take is violating the law.

This is wrong on many levels.

One, it creates anger and contempt for the law. James Madison warned of this in Federalist 62, declaring “It will be of little avail to the people that the laws are made by men of their own choice, if the laws be so voluminous that they cannot be read, or so incoherent that they cannot be understood; if they be repealed or revised before they are promulgated, or undergo such incessant changes that no man who knows what the law is today can guess what it will be to-morrow.”

Second, it is immoral to deprive a man of life, liberty, or property for an activity that he was not even aware was a crime. Yet it happens every single day in America.

For example, most Americans know (even if only from watching crime dramas) that bank deposits of $10,000 or more have to be reported to the IRS. This is supposed to be a tool to crack down on tax evasion, drug dealing, and money laundering. But did you know you can be fined and go to jail for making deposits of less than $10,000 as well?

Lyndon McLellan didn’t, and he paid the price … literally.

McLellan is the owner of L&M Convenience Mart, a small mom-and-pop convenience store in poor, rural North Carolina. The very nature of the business means most of his customers paid in cash for the gas, drinks, home-cooked food, cigarettes, and other goods they purchased. Each day he worked long hours to make a success of a business where long hours and low profit margins are the norm.

McLellan worked nearly every day since 2001, rarely taking a vacation, often running the register, sweeping floors, and cooking food from open to close. Every few days McLellan’s niece would deposit a few thousand dollars with his bank. After more than a dozen years of hard work, the IRS came in one day and seized his bank account, which amounted to just $107,702 — less than what many American families make in a single year.

The reason?

The IRS accused McLellan of “structuring” violations — intentionally making deposits of less than $10,000 in order to avoid federal reporting requirements. Lyndon pleaded his innocence, and pointed out that he had vendors to pay, which he could not do if his bank account was frozen. If he could not pay his vendors, then they would stop providing goods and his store would be forced to close. Even after his accountant meticulously matched receipts with deposits to show that the money was legitimate, the government dismissed the evidence.

Luckily, the Institute for Justice took on his case, and after several years McLellan prevailed in court. He was eventually able to get his money back — though the government initially tried to keep the money even after the charges were dismissed.

Sadly, this is just one of countless cases that keep our courtrooms and prisons packed, even when the “crime” is simply a transgression of a statute that as often as not makes no sense, prevents no crime, and protects no victim. Consider Barbara Horst, the Ohio grandmother charged with a felony for having 14 scrap tires in her truck, when the legal limit was 10.

Thanks to these miscarriages of justice, innocent Americans are becoming criminals faster than ever, even though violent crime and property crimes have been steadily dropping for years.

Though a rising number of prosecutors are pushing back on the criminalization of victimless crimes (or disproportionate punishment for minor offenses), it still leaves the average American at risk of prosecution for unwittingly committing a crime, the only hope of escape being a lucky draw of a reasonable prosecutor. The Institute for Justice does fantastic work, but they can only take on a handful of cases each year.

Our laws should be simple and easily understood by people of average intelligence. They should deprive citizens of liberty or property only as punishment and restitution for depriving others of the same. The more laws we have on the books, the less likely we are to see justice prevail, and the more likely we are to see the laws used by those in power to oppress the innocent.

So the next time you hear someone say, “There ought to be a law,” just remember — the next Lyndon McLellan or Barbara Horst could be you.



NSC testimony reveals deep state arrogance

Americans for Limited Government President Rick Manning today issued the following statement in response to testimony by Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman that he was “uncomfortable” with President Donald Trump’s July 25 phone conversation with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky:

“Leaked testimony by Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman to the House Intelligence Committee is shocking in its revelation on three critical points. First and foremost, a career NSC employee somehow believes that his policy preferences supersede those of the elected President of the United States. This reveals the ongoing deep state battle where unelected bureaucrats resist the constitutional powers vested in the President with full belief that they have moral authority. One simple question to Vindman: Who the heck elected you?

The second troubling aspect of his testimony is that he clearly believes that the Democrats would engage in partisan retribution against the Ukraine government as a result of their help in getting to the bottom of the origins of the Russiagate scandal and any potential findings of corruption against former Vice President Joe Biden. Ironically, this is exactly what the Democrats falsely say they are impeaching Trump over, saying that exposing 2016 interference by Ukraine is in itself interference.

Third, as an officer in the U.S. military Vindman appears to be violating the military code of conduct that allows for disobedience of an unlawful order but does not allow testifying to the legislative branch in opposition to a presidential national security policy that he was uniquely privy to.

“It no wonder that the President of the United States cut out career foreign service and national security council personnel from decision-making related to Ukraine and presumably elsewhere in the world. And it begs the question as to what value any of these resister bureaucrats provide when the President cannot include them in the decision-making process due to their infidelity to their constitutional and legal duties. At this point, it is reasonable to question whether the entirety of the National Security Council should be required to submit their resignations and reapply for their jobs if they believe they can actually inform and in good faith implement the President’s policies.”




TEMPORARY HIATUS: DC Circuit halts disclosure of Mueller grand-jury materials to consider an emergency appeal (The Daily Caller)

SWAMP LEAKAGE: State Department launches investigation into "deep state" targeting Trump's top Iran official (The Washington Free Beacon)

SILENCE SPEAKS VOLUMES: House passes Armenian genocide measure — no thanks to Ilhan Omar (

HYPOCRISY: Elizabeth Warren pledges to crack down on school choice, despite sending her own son to elite private school (The Daily Caller)

WHAT COULD POSSIBLY GO WRONG? The NCAA will allow athletes to profit from their name, image, and likeness in a major shift for the organization (CNBC)

THE LAST STRAW: China dumped 27% more trash into the ocean in 2018 (New York Post)

MORE TO THE STORY? Forensic investigator: Jeffrey Epstein's autopsy more consistent with homicide (National Review)

BABY, IT'S WOKE OUTSIDE: John Legend and Kelly Clarkson remake "Baby, It's Cold Outside" after critics said it promoted date rape (CBS News)

POLICY: The needless trauma of active-shooter drills (National Review)

POLICY: Baghdadi is dead. But we're no closer to victory in the "forever war." (American Enterprise Institute)

HUMOR: Texas luring jobs away from California with promises of electricity (The Babylon Bee)


For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCHPOLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated), A Coral reef compendium and an IQ compendium. (Both updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on THE PSYCHOLOGIST.

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