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Donald Defeats Data

Hi.  We’re back… for a second.

We here at TJP declined to cover the 2016 Presidential (or any other) election for a variety of reasons, most of which are… boring.  But we did want to share a few musings in the wake of what is certainly the most revolutionary election in recent U.S. history.

To preface: we’re not big fans of Donald Trump.  Throughout his campaign, we were waiting for the punchline… and all we saw was a man consistently signalling that he is unfit for the decision-making required by the job and unready to embrace and defend the Constitution and its values.

Regardless, Trump’s victory

Old-fashioned intuition and ambition just crushed the data-driven world

For quite some time, we’ve been told to rely on the experts: the statisticians, the educated class, the entrenched experts with no stake in the outcome, in so many aspects of life.  The folks who painstakingly review methodology and data to arrive unbiased results.

Nearly all of those highly-educated elites have just had their professional lives rendered meaningless by a boor.  The pollsters, the campaign advisers, the data crunchers, the pundits,  the gurus… we’re not exaggerating when we say that thousands of professionals have lost their essential credibility. Their jobs were to analyze and advise, and yet the gulf between their thoughts and what actually happened could not, in reasonable terms, have been wider.

A different kind of man was right, though.  Trump.  The guy who eschewed traditional campaign structure, who took no advice from the political class, no money from the elites.  The guy whose proposals and style were, at every turn, despised and derided by the established experts.  That same guy took home more of the Hispanic vote than Mitt Romney, despite an xenophobic, afactual stance on immigration. Without defining his exact appeal — that’s above our pay grade — his campaign was at all times rooted in his intuition and boldness, and never in the data.  And he will soon be the President of the United States of America.

We can try to explain why this happened, but this is certain: we should not accept as credible any explanation that doesn’t fundamentally rethink the basis of the “expertise” that an entire industry accepted before this election.

Trump’s win signals potential for a new era of citizen government

Regardless of whether you like Trump, his victory demonstrates the possibility of meaningful citizen-led government.  Yes, he’s a filthy rich Manhattanite, but his ideas and campaign were at all times his own.  His persona and positions never melted into something acceptable to the entrenched political class like so many candidates with potential before him.

We hope that his victory encourages more candidates from outside the current political culture to mount campaigns that are theirs, not a party’s, not the established donors’, and not Washington’s.

Trump’s 100-day plan isn’t all bad

Really.  Take a look.  We bet there’s stuff in there that you like.  Plus, remember that he’s a deal-maker.  And that the Federal government is run like a Venn Diagram.  And that he has almost zero coalition behind most of his wackier ideas.

Considering his shockingly good acceptance speech, Trump could actually get a few things done.

Trump’s victory poses real dangers of populism in the U.S. right

One pundit put it well: Trump’s appeal seems similar to that of Hugo Chavez: a strongman who blames outsiders for the ills of a disenfranchised, angry portion of the citizenry.

Hillel Neuer Drops Some Knowledge

We like his strategy: quote one’s adversaries — or the adversaries’ bosses.

There’s plenty to discuss in this video.  What we think is most notable — besides Mr. Neuer’s overpowering command of the facts — is the fake reasonableness of Bill Van Esvald, the representative of Human Rights Watch.  His feigned evenhandedness is endemic to the approach that many NGO’s take toward the Israeli/Palestinian conflict.

Some context: Every single rocket that Hamas fires is aimed at civilians.  Every single rocket that Hamas fires is therefore a war crime and a violation of human rights, regardless of whether Israel has the ability to knock it down.  It’s that simple.

That Hamas is committing war crimes and human rights violations as its very aim in this and every conflict doesn’t require investigators “on the ground” or a “neutral inquiry.”  Yet the obviousness of Hamas’s crimes leads Mr. Van Esvald to minimize their significance when it should have the opposite effect.  Note how little time he spends discussing them or debating anything of substance with Ms. Buttu.  That makes no sense.


We call a Mitt Romney win, because of this guy

Republican pollster Neil Newhouse is, quite frankly, betting his life on a Romney win.  We don’t see any Democratic pollsters willing to call that bet.

Ergo, Mitt wins…

Continue reading We call a Mitt Romney win, because of this guy

Obama on Israel (First Term) is proud to present…

The Completist Nerd’s Guide to The Obama Administration on Israel During Obama’s First Term

Here’s our point-by-point review of the Obama administration’s significant (and many not-so-significant) actions, statements, and positions with regard to U.S. support of Israel and causes particularly relevant to the U.S./Israeli relationship.  If we’re missing anything — and we’re fairly certain that we are —  let us know and we’ll gladly update the list.

  • 1/2009: Mr. Obama places his first diplomatic call as President to Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian President.  His second call is to Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu.
  • 3/2009: Reversing a Bush administration position, the Obama administration declares its intent to reengage the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC).  The UNHRC has, by all rational accounts, a bit of a “thing” for absurdly biased, anti-Israel proclamations.  Several members of the Obama administration speak publicly against the “structural bias” of the UNHRC.  Despite those efforts, the UNHRC in September 2009 issues the infamous Goldstone Report among various other baseless condemnations of Israel.
  • 6/2009: President Obama tours the Middle East, visiting Egypt and Saudi Arabia but not Israel.  (Context: George W. Bush didn’t visit Israel as President until his seventh year in office.)
  • 6/2009: Mr. Obama delivers an address in Cairo on that tour entitled “A New Beginning.”   The speech honors a campaign promise to deliver an address to the Muslim world from a predominantly Muslim capital within the first few months of Mr. Obama’s presidency.  Though President Obama’s speech covers quite a bit of ground, his remarks on the Arab-Israeli conflict draw the most attention.  Mr. Obama characterizes the U.S.-Israel bond as “unbreakable,” but he also equates Palestinian nationalism with the Jewish claim to a homeland in Israel.  Mr. Obama also (arguably) implies that Israel exists only because of the Holocaust, not because Israel is Judaism’s Holy Land and Jews have lived there nearly continuously for millenia.  The President also makes no mention of the Palestinians’ refusal to abandon terrorist attacks directed at Israeli civilians.
  • 9/2009: President Obama hosts a meeting with Prime Minister Netanyahu and Palestinian President Abbas.  Little is known about what the leaders discussed during the meeting.
  • 12/2009: Following a Bush-era agreement, President Obama approves $2.75 billion in U.S. military aid to Israel.  It is the largest military aid package in U.S./Israel history at the time.  The U.S. has also given record-breaking aid (see Table 2 in the link) to Palestinians throughout Mr. Obama’s presidency.
  • 3/2010: Mr. Obama demands that Israel issue a building freeze in parts of its capital, Jerusalem.  At the time, not even the Palestinians had made that demand, although they later make such a freeze a precondition of returning to negotiations.  Moreover, Mr. Obama’s demand is unprecedented in that it applies to organic growth within existing neighborhoods.
  • 3/2010: Vice President Biden visits Israel for five days, during which he delivers a speech about his extensive personal and political ties to Israel.  As with President Obama’s speech in Cairo, Mr. Biden’s speech also encourages engagement of the Muslim world as a method of combating Islamic terrorism and solving the Arab-Israeli conflict.  During Mr. Biden’s visit, Israel authorizes new building in East Jerusalem contrary to President Obama’s prior demand.  A diplomatic kerfuffle ensues during which Secretary of State Hillary Clinton “rebukes” Prime Minister Netanyahu and calls the construction “deeply negative” for U.S.-Israeli relations.
  • 3/2010: Another diplomatic dust-up occurs during a reportedly frigid White House meeting between Mssrs. Obama and Netanyahu.  Details too numerous to list are here.
  • 5/2010: Mr. Obama signs a defense appropriation bill that gives Israel $205 million to more rapidly deploy the Iron Dome short-range missile defense system.  (Contrary to some claims, Mr. Obama did not “give” Iron Dome to Israel: the system was developed entirely by Israel and will cost the Jewish State approximately $1 billion in total.)
  • 7/2010: President Obama signs into law U.S. financial sanctions against Iran.  The sanctions generate broad bipartisan support and significantly exceed those imposed at the U.N. level.
  • 9/2010: In his address to the U.N. General Assembly, Mr. Obama chides supposedly pro-Palestinian nations for failing to recognize Israel, for trying to “tear Israel down,” and for not adequately support Palestinian political and financial stability.  However, Mr. Obama also calls for an extension of Israel’s settlement freeze.  He presses for efforts to make peace so that Palestine will be a sovereign U.N. member nation within a year.  A year later, Palestinians use that speech to bolster their unilateral bid for U.N. recognition, all the while refusing to recognize Israel.
  • 11/2010: Secretary Clinton reportedly offers to approve Israel’s purchase of F-35 stealth fighter planes in exchange for a 90-day extension of the ten-month Jerusalem settlement freeze previously agreed to.  (Though details are sketchy, it appears that the Obama administration subsequently withdrew its request for the extension and Israel is planning to purchase the stealth fighters.)
  • 11/2010: Iranian nuclear facilities are slowed by technical difficulties.  The cause is later revealed to be Stuxnet, a computer worm so sophisticated that leading security experts say it must have been developed with input from the United States.
  • 12/2010: The Obama administration officially stops trying to force Israel to extend a construction freeze of Jewish settlements in the West Bank.
  • 2/2011: In its proposed fiscal year 2012 budget, the Obama Administration further increases U.S. aid to Israel to just over $3 billion.
  • 2/2011: After staying unusually silent on the issue, the Obama administration vetoes a U.N. Security Council resolution condemning Israeli settlements in the West Bank.
  • 5/2011: Obama declares that Israel should return to negotiations with Palestinians using the framework of Israel’s pre-1967 borders with mutually-agreed land swaps.  Though that framework had been used by both Israeli and U.S. officials for decades, the President’s public call was widely viewed as “a victory of sorts for Palestinian leaders,” a “subtle, but significant shift,” and as “mov[ing] the United States a step closer to the position of the Palestinians.”
  • 5/2011: Mr. Obama demands that “Israel too must act boldy to advance a lasting peace.”  (Context: What boldness does Mr. Obama see on the Palestinian side?)
  • 8-9/2011: President Obama uses a variety of tools to successfully prevent an attempted Palestinian unilateral declaration of independence at the United Nations.
  • 9/2011: During a mob attack on the Israeli embassy in post-Mubarak Egypt, members of the Obama administration attempt to prevent further violence and destruction.  Though press reports say the pleas were ignored, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu later thanks Mr. Obama for his help in rescuing embassy staff, saying, “We owe him a special measure of gratitude.”
  • 11/2011: At a G-20 meeting, President Obama impliedly agrees when French Prime Minister Sarkozy calls Mr. Netanyahu a liar.
  • 11/2011: Obama’s ambassador to Belgium blames Israeli politicians for European anti-Semitism.
  • 12/2011: After the Senate, by a vote of 100-o, passes a tough bill imposing sanctions on Iran, Mr. Obama opposed it.
  • 1/2012: President Obama finally imposes tougher financial sanctions on Iran.  However, he reserves a waiver allowing him considerable discretion in how to impose those sanctions.
  • 1/2012: President Obama sends diplomats to explain his policy of sanctions against Iran.  The move is widely seen as an attempt to convince Israel to refrain from conducting a preemptive strike against Iranian nuclear facilities.
  • 1/2012: Mr. Obama participates in a new, Jordan-led effort to restart negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians.   Fatah now says that a precondition of the negotiations is that Israel agree to return to pre-1967 borders.

“A Great Compliment Paid the Jews”

We were just alerted to this pretty timely article in Commentary about a surprising twist in early Constitutional history.  Some of the article is a bit speculative for our tastes (though we can in no way judge the quality of the speculation), but it’s interesting throughout.  To make a long story short…

Continue reading “A Great Compliment Paid the Jews”

Bipartisanship in 2012…

Hey, if you can’t have bipartisanship on meaningful issues — and we’ve been fairly effective at proving that over the past few years — at least we can have inconsequential — but very funny — bipartisanship in 2012.  If cooperation has become a joke, at least we can appreciate that it’s a good one.

Continue reading Bipartisanship in 2012…

Duly Noted: Jewish Support for President Obama is Waning…

Though President Obama enjoys a significant majority of political support among Jews, the Republican Jewish Coalition notes that several recent polls show that support is shrinking quickly.  These are alarming numbers for any President with a (D).  Details below the fold… Continue reading Duly Noted: Jewish Support for President Obama is Waning…

A PSA from TJP

We’re sure many of you have sorted this out already, but just in case, here’s a very important Public Service Announcement from us here at Continue reading A PSA from TJP