• Home page of novelist William S. Frankl, M.D.
  • About author William S. Frankl, M.D.
  • Books by novelist William S. Frankl, M.D.
  • Reviews of the writing of author William S. Frankl, M.D.
  • Blog of author William (Bill) S. Frankl, M.D.
  • Contact author William S. Frankl, M.D.
Title: Blog by Novelist William S. Frankl, MD

Archive for the ‘The Media’ Category

At Last The Mueller Probe Has Been Released

Saturday, March 23rd, 2019

THE DAILY WIRE

On Friday afternoon, at 5 PM EDT,March 21, 2019, the Justice Department confirmed that Special Counsel Robert Mueller had indeed turned in his long-awaited report on supposed Trump-Russia collusion. Attorney General William Barr then released a letter to the ranking members of the House and Senate Judiciary Committees informing them that he “may be in a position to advise you of the Special Counsel’s principal conclusions as soon as this weekend.”

Under Department of Justice regulations, Barr must review the Mueller report for release; Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein wrote a letter last year suggesting that no allegations concerning non-criminal activity would be released to the public. Late on Friday afternoon, multiple news outlets broke the story that Mueller had recommended no further indictments in his report.

The Mueller report represents the conclusion of a nearly two-year-long inquiry under Mueller’s auspices, begun when Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein appointed Mueller after President Trump fired FBI director James Comey.

Democrats have been clamoring for a full release of the Mueller report, presuming that a redacted report will be far less damaging to President Trump than the full report. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer released a statement calling on Barr to “make the full report public and provide its underlying documentation and findings to Congress,” declaring that the “White House must not be allowed to interfere in decisions about what parts of those findings or evidence are made public.”

It remains to be seen how much information Barr releases publicly.

 

Many in the media continue to report, despite the lack of further indictments, that prosecutions that have already taken place somehow provide evidence of Trump-Russia collusion. This is flatly false. None of the indictments already pursued concern collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russian government that implicates Trump or any high-ranking campaign officials. With that said, it is possible that Mueller recommended no further indictments thanks to DOJ regulations that state a sitting president cannot be indicted. We won’t know the full extent of that possibility until we learn the details of the report.

Meanwhile, media members have already turned their eyes hopefully to the Southern District of New York, where the possibility of criminal indictment against President Trump on the basis of campaign finance violations remains.

 

The Truth About Marijuana/Mental Illness And Violence

Friday, March 22nd, 2019

IMPRIMUS

HILLSDALE  COLLEGE

Marijuana, Mental Illness, and Violence

January 2019 • Volume 48, Number 1Alex Berenson

Alex Berenson
Author, Tell Your Children: The Truth About Marijuana, Mental Illness, and Violence

Alex Berenson is a graduate of Yale University with degrees in history and economics. He began his career in journalism in 1994 as a business reporter for the Denver Post, joined the financial news website TheStreet.com in 1996, and worked as an investigative reporter for The New York Times from 1999 to 2010, during which time he also served two stints as an Iraq War correspondent. In 2006 he published The Faithful Spy, which won the 2007 Edgar Award for best first novel from the Mystery Writers of America. He has published ten additional novels and two nonfiction books, The Number: How the Drive for Quarterly Earnings Corrupted Wall Street and Corporate America and Tell Your Children: The Truth About Marijuana, Mental Illness, and Violence.

The following is adapted from a speech delivered on January 15, 2019, at Hillsdale College’s Allan P. Kirby, Jr. Center for Constitutional Studies and Citizenship in Washington, D.C.

Seventy miles northwest of New York City is a hospital that looks like a prison, its drab brick buildings wrapped in layers of fencing and barbed wire. This grim facility is called the Mid-Hudson Forensic Psychiatric Institute. It’s one of three places the state of New York sends the criminally mentally ill—defendants judged not guilty by reason of insanity.

Until recently, my wife Jackie­—Dr. Jacqueline Berenson—was a senior psychiatrist there. Many of Mid-Hudson’s 300 patients are killers and arsonists. At least one is a cannibal. Most have been diagnosed with psychotic disorders like schizophrenia that provoked them to violence against family members or strangers.

A couple of years ago, Jackie was telling me about a patient. In passing, she said something like, Of course he’d been smoking pot his whole life.

Of course? I said.

Yes, they all smoke.

So marijuana causes schizophrenia?

I was surprised, to say the least. I tended to be a libertarian on drugs. Years before, I’d covered the pharmaceutical industry for The New York Times. I was aware of the claims about marijuana as medicine, and I’d watched the slow spread of legalized cannabis without much interest.

Jackie would have been within her rights to say, I know what I’m talking about, unlike you. Instead she offered something neutral like, I think that’s what the big studies say. You should read them.

So I did. The big studies, the little ones, and all the rest. I read everything I could find. I talked to every psychiatrist and brain scientist who would talk to me. And I soon realized that in all my years as a journalist I had never seen a story where the gap between insider and outsider knowledge was so great, or the stakes so high.

I began to wonder why—with the stocks of cannabis companies soaring and politicians promoting legalization as a low-risk way to raise tax revenue and reduce crime—I had never heard the truth about marijuana, mental illness, and violence.

***

Over the last 30 years, psychiatrists and epidemiologists have turned speculation about marijuana’s dangers into science. Yet over the same period, a shrewd and expensive lobbying campaign has pushed public attitudes about marijuana the other way. And the effects are now becoming apparent.

Almost everything you think you know about the health effects of cannabis, almost everything advocates and the media have told you for a generation, is wrong.

They’ve told you marijuana has many different medical uses. In reality marijuana and THC, its active ingredient, have been shown to work only in a few narrow conditions. They are most commonly prescribed for pain relief. But they are rarely tested against other pain relief drugs like ibuprofen—and in July, a large four-year study of patients with chronic pain in Australia showed cannabis use was associated with greater pain over time.

They’ve told you cannabis can stem opioid use—“Two new studies show how marijuana can help fight the opioid epidemic,” according to Wonkblog, a Washington Post website, in April 2018— and that marijuana’s effects as a painkiller make it a potential substitute for opiates. In reality, like alcohol, marijuana is too weak as a painkiller to work for most people who truly need opiates, such as terminal cancer patients. Even cannabis advocates, like Rob Kampia, the co-founder of the Marijuana Policy Project, acknowledge that they have always viewed medical marijuana laws primarily as a way to protect recreational users.

As for the marijuana-reduces-opiate-use theory, it is based largely on a single paper comparing overdose deaths by state before 2010 to the spread of medical marijuana laws— and the paper’s finding is probably a result of simple geographic coincidence. The opiate epidemic began in Appalachia, while the first states to legalize medical marijuana were in the West. Since 2010, as both the epidemic and medical marijuana laws have spread nationally, the finding has vanished. And the United States, the Western country with the most cannabis use, also has by far the worst problem with opioids.

Research on individual users—a better way to trace cause and effect than looking at aggregate state-level data—consistently shows that marijuana use leads to other drug use. For example, a January 2018 paper in the American Journal of Psychiatry showed that people who used cannabis in 2001 were almost three times as likely to use opiates three years later, even after adjusting for other potential risks.

Most of all, advocates have told you that marijuana is not just safe for people with psychiatric problems like depression, but that it is a potential treatment for those patients. On its website, the cannabis delivery service Eaze offers the “Best Marijuana Strains and Products for Treating Anxiety.” “How Does Cannabis Help Depression?” is the topic of an article on Leafly, the largest cannabis website. But a mountain of peer-reviewed research in top medical journals shows that marijuana can cause or worsen severe mental illness, especially psychosis, the medical term for a break from reality. Teenagers who smoke marijuana regularly are about three times as likely to develop schizophrenia, the most devastating psychotic disorder.

After an exhaustive review, the National Academy of Medicine found in 2017 that “cannabis use is likely to increase the risk of developing schizophrenia and other psychoses; the higher the use, the greater the risk.” Also that “regular cannabis use is likely to increase the risk for developing social anxiety disorder.”

***

Over the past decade, as legalization has spread, patterns of marijuana use—and the drug itself—have changed in dangerous ways.

Legalization has not led to a huge increase in people using the drug casually. About 15 percent of Americans used cannabis at least once in 2017, up from ten percent in 2006, according to a large federal study called the National Survey on Drug Use and Health. (By contrast, about 65 percent of Americans had a drink in the last year.) But the number of Americans who use cannabis heavily is soaring. In 2006, about three million Americans reported using cannabis at least 300 times a year, the standard for daily use. By 2017, that number had nearly tripled, to eight million, approaching the twelve million Americans who drank alcohol every day. Put another way, one in 15 drinkers consumed alcohol daily; about one in five marijuana users used cannabis that often.

Cannabis users today are also consuming a drug that is far more potent than ever before, as measured by the amount of THC—delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, the chemical in cannabis responsible for its psychoactive effects—it contains. In the 1970s, the last time this many Americans used cannabis, most marijuana contained less than two percent THC. Today, marijuana routinely contains 20 to 25 percent THC, thanks to sophisticated farming and cloning techniques—as well as to a demand by users for cannabis that produces a stronger high more quickly. In states where cannabis is legal, many users prefer extracts that are nearly pure THC. Think of the difference between near-beer and a martini, or even grain alcohol, to understand the difference.

These new patterns of use have caused problems with the drug to soar. In 2014, people who had diagnosable cannabis use disorder, the medical term for marijuana abuse or addiction, made up about 1.5 percent of Americans. But they accounted for eleven percent of all the psychosis cases in emergency rooms—90,000 cases, 250 a day, triple the number in 2006. In states like Colorado, emergency room physicians have become experts on dealing with cannabis-induced psychosis.

Cannabis advocates often argue that the drug can’t be as neurotoxic as studies suggest, because otherwise Western countries would have seen population-wide increases in psychosis alongside rising use. In reality, accurately tracking psychosis cases is impossible in the United States. The government carefully tracks diseases like cancer with central registries, but no such registry exists for schizophrenia or other severe mental illnesses.

On the other hand, research from Finland and Denmark, two countries that track mental illness more comprehensively, shows a significant increase in psychosis since 2000, following an increase in cannabis use. And in September of last year, a large federal survey found a rise in serious mental illness in the United States as well, especially among young adults, the heaviest users of cannabis.

According to this latter study, 7.5 percent of adults age 18-25 met the criteria for serious mental illness in 2017, double the rate in 2008. What’s especially striking is that adolescents age 12-17 don’t show these increases in cannabis use and severe mental illness.

A caveat: this federal survey doesn’t count individual cases, and it lumps psychosis with other severe mental illness. So it isn’t as accurate as the Finnish or Danish studies. Nor do any of these studies prove that rising cannabis use has caused population-wide increases in psychosis or other mental illness. The most that can be said is that they offer intriguing evidence of a link.

Advocates for people with mental illness do not like discussing the link between schizophrenia and crime. They fear it will stigmatize people with the disease. “Most people with mental illness are not violent,” the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) explains on its website. But wishing away the link can’t make it disappear. In truth, psychosis is a shockingly high risk factor for violence. The best analysis came in a 2009 paper in PLOS Medicine by Dr. Seena Fazel, an Oxford University psychiatrist and epidemiologist. Drawing on earlier studies, the paper found that people with schizophrenia are five times as likely to commit violent crimes as healthy people, and almost 20 times as likely to commit homicide.

NAMI’s statement that most people with mental illness are not violent is of course accurate, given that “most” simply means “more than half”; but it is deeply misleading. Schizophrenia is rare. But people with the disorder commit an appreciable fraction of all murders, in the range of six to nine percent.

“The best way to deal with the stigma is to reduce the violence,” says Dr. Sheilagh Hodgins, a professor at the University of Montreal who has studied mental illness and violence for more than 30 years.

The marijuana-psychosis-violence connection is even stronger than those figures suggest. People with schizophrenia are only moderately more likely to become violent than healthy people when they are taking antipsychotic medicine and avoiding recreational drugs. But when they use drugs, their risk of violence skyrockets. “You don’t just have an increased risk of one thing—these things occur in clusters,” Dr. Fazel told me.

Along with alcohol, the drug that psychotic patients use more than any other is cannabis: a 2010 review of earlier studies in Schizophrenia Bulletin found that 27 percent of people with schizophrenia had been diagnosed with cannabis use disorder in their lives. And unfortunately—despite its reputation for making users relaxed and calm—cannabis appears to provoke many of them to violence.

A Swiss study of 265 psychotic patients published in Frontiers of Forensic Psychiatry last June found that over a three-year period, young men with psychosis who used cannabis had a 50 percent chance of becoming violent. That risk was four times higher than for those with psychosis who didn’t use, even after adjusting for factors such as alcohol use. Other researchers have produced similar findings. A 2013 paper in an Italian psychiatric journal examined almost 1,600 psychiatric patients in southern Italy and found that cannabis use was associated with a ten-fold increase in violence.

The most obvious way that cannabis fuels violence in psychotic people is through its tendency to cause paranoia—something even cannabis advocates acknowledge the drug can cause. The risk is so obvious that users joke about it and dispensaries advertise certain strains as less likely to induce paranoia. And for people with psychotic disorders, paranoia can fuel extreme violence. A 2007 paper in the Medical Journal of Australia on 88 defendants who had committed homicide during psychotic episodes found that most believed they were in danger from the victim, and almost two-thirds reported misusing cannabis—more than alcohol and amphetamines combined.

Yet the link between marijuana and violence doesn’t appear limited to people with preexisting psychosis. Researchers have studied alcohol and violence for generations, proving that alcohol is a risk factor for domestic abuse, assault, and even murder. Far less work has been done on marijuana, in part because advocates have stigmatized anyone who raises the issue. But studies showing that marijuana use is a significant risk factor for violence have quietly piled up. Many of them weren’t even designed to catch the link, but they did. Dozens of such studies exist, covering everything from bullying by high school students to fighting among vacationers in Spain.

In most cases, studies find that the risk is at least as significant as with alcohol. A 2012 paper in the Journal of Interpersonal Violence examined a federal survey of more than 9,000 adolescents and found that marijuana use was associated with a doubling of domestic violence; a 2017 paper in Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology examined drivers of violence among 6,000 British and Chinese men and found that drug use—the drug nearly always being cannabis—translated into a five-fold increase in violence.

Today that risk is translating into real-world impacts. Before states legalized recreational cannabis, advocates said that legalization would let police focus on hardened criminals rather than marijuana smokers and thus reduce violent crime. Some advocates go so far as to claim that legalization has reduced violent crime. In a 2017 speech calling for federal legalization, U.S. Senator Cory Booker said that “states [that have legalized marijuana] are seeing decreases in violent crime.” He was wrong.

The first four states to legalize marijuana for recreational use were Colorado and Washington in 2014 and Alaska and Oregon in 2015. Combined, those four states had about 450 murders and 30,300 aggravated assaults in 2013. Last year, they had almost 620 murders and 38,000 aggravated assaults—an increase of 37 percent for murders and 25 percent for aggravated assaults, far greater than the national increase, even after accounting for differences in population growth.

Knowing exactly how much of the increase is related to cannabis is impossible without researching every crime. But police reports, news stories, and arrest warrants suggest a close link in many cases. For example, last September, police in Longmont, Colorado, arrested Daniel Lopez for stabbing his brother Thomas to death as a neighbor watched. Daniel Lopez had been diagnosed with schizophrenia and was “self-medicating” with marijuana, according to an arrest affidavit.

In every state, not just those where marijuana is legal, cases like Lopez’s are far more common than either cannabis or mental illness advocates acknowledge. Cannabis is also associated with a disturbing number of child deaths from abuse and neglect—many more than alcohol, and more than cocaine, methamphetamines, and opioids combined—according to reports from Texas, one of the few states to provide detailed information on drug use by perpetrators.

These crimes rarely receive more than local attention. Psychosis-induced violence takes particularly ugly forms and is frequently directed at helpless family members. The elite national media prefers to ignore the crimes as tabloid fodder. Even police departments, which see this violence up close, have been slow to recognize the trend, in part because the epidemic of opioid overdose deaths has overwhelmed them.

So the black tide of psychosis and the red tide of violence are rising steadily, almost unnoticed, on a slow green wave.

***

For centuries, people worldwide have understood that cannabis causes mental illness and violence—just as they’ve known that opiates cause addiction and overdose. Hard data on the relationship between marijuana and madness dates back 150 years, to British asylum registers in India. Yet 20 years ago, the United States moved to encourage wider use of cannabis and opiates.

In both cases, we decided we could outsmart these drugs—that we could have their benefits without their costs. And in both cases we were wrong. Opiates are riskier, and the overdose deaths they cause a more imminent crisis, so we have focused on those. But soon enough the mental illness and violence that follow cannabis use will also be too widespread to ignore.

Whether to use cannabis, or any drug, is a personal decision. Whether cannabis should be legal is a political issue. But its precise legal status is far less important than making sure that anyone who uses it is aware of its risks. Most cigarette smokers don’t die of lung cancer. But we have made it widely known that cigarettes cause cancer, full stop. Most people who drink and drive don’t have fatal accidents. But we have highlighted the cases of those who do.

We need equally unambiguous and well-funded advertising campaigns on the risks of cannabis. Instead, we are now in the worst of all worlds. Marijuana is legal in some states, illegal in others, dangerously potent, and sold without warnings everywhere.

But before we can do anything, we—especially cannabis advocates and those in the elite media who have for too long credulously accepted their claims—need to come to terms with the truth about the science on marijuana. That adjustment may be painful. But the alternative is far worse, as the patients at Mid-Hudson Forensic Psychiatric Institute—and their victims—know.

 

The New, New Anti Semitism

Tuesday, January 15th, 2019

The following is this disturbing  report of widespread antisemitism in the left wing, progressive movement in America. I was alerted to it by my dear friend & colleague, Stephen Dubel.

NATIONAL REVIEW

The New, New Anti-Semitism

By Victor Davis Hanson

January 15,2019

 

The old anti-Semitism was mostly, but not exclusively, a tribal prejudice expressed in America up until the mid 20th century most intensely on the right. It manifested itself from the silk-stocking country club and corporation (“gentlemen’s agreement”) to the rawer regions of the Ku Klux Klan’s lunatic fringe.

While liberals from Joe Kennedy to Gore Vidal were often openly anti-Semitic, the core of traditional anti-Semitism, as William F. Buckley once worried, was more rightist. And such fumes still arise among the alt-right extremists.

Yet soon a new anti-Semitism became more insidious, given that it was a leftist phenomenon among those quick to cite oppression and discrimination elsewhere. Who then could police the bigotry of the self-described anti-bigotry police?

The new form of the old bias grew most rapidly on the 1960s campus and was fueled by a number of leftist catalysts. The novel romance of the Palestinians and corresponding demonization of Israel, especially after the 1967 Six-Day War, gradually allowed former Jew-hatred to be cloaked by new rabid and often unhinged opposition to Israel. In particular, these anti-Semites fixated on Israel’s misdemeanors and exaggerated them while excusing and downplaying the felonies of abhorrent and rogue nations.

Indeed, evidence of the new anti-Semitism was that the Left was neutral, and even favorable, to racist, authoritarian, deadly regimes of the then Third World while singling out democratic Israel for supposed humanitarian crimes. By the late 1970s, Israelis and often by extension Jews in general were demagogued by the Left as Western white oppressors. Israel’s supposed victims were romanticized abroad as exploited Middle Easterners. And by extension, Jews were similarly exploiting minorities at home.

Then arose a relatively new mainstream version of Holocaust denial that deprived Jews of any special claim to historic victim status. And it was a creed common among World War II revisionists and some American minorities who were resentful that the often more successful Jews might have experienced singularly unimaginable horror in the past. The new anti-Semitism that grew up in the 1960s was certainly in part legitimized by the rise of overt African-American bigotry against Jews (and coupled by a romantic affinity for Islam). It was further nursed on old stereotypes of cold and callous Jewish ghetto storeowners (e.g., “The Pawnbroker” character), and expressed boldly in the assumption that black Americans were exempt from charges of bias and hatred.

Anti-Semitic blacks assumed that they could not be credibly charged with bigotry and were therefore free to say what they pleased about Jews. Indeed, by the 1970s and 1980s, anti-Semitism had become the mother’s milk of a prominent post–Martin Luther King Jr. black-activist leadership, well beyond Malcolm X and the Black Panthers — even though Jews had been on the forefront of the civil-rights movements and had been recognized as such by an earlier generation of liberal black leaders.

Soon it became common for self-described black leaders to explain, to amplify, to contextualize, or to be unapologetic about their anti-Semitism, in both highbrow and lowbrow modes: James Baldwin (“Negroes are anti-Semitic because they’re anti-white”), Louis Farrakhan (“When they talk about Farrakhan, call me a hater, you know what they do, call me an anti-Semite. Stop it. I am anti-termite. The Jews don’t like Farrakhan, so they call me Hitler. Well, that’s a great name. Hitler was a very great man”), Jesse Jackson (“Hymietown”), Al Sharpton (“If the Jews want to get it on, tell them to pin their yarmulkes back and come over to my house”), and the Reverend Jeremiah Wright (“The Jews ain’t gonna let him [Obama] talk to me”).

Note that Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton both ran as Democratic candidates for president. Sharpton officially visited the Obama White House more than 100 times, and Wright was the Obamas’ longtime personal pastor who officiated at the couple’s wedding and the baptism of their daughters and inspired the title of Obama’s second book.

In the past ten years, however, we have seen an emerging new, new anti-Semitism. It is likely to become far more pernicious than both the old-right and new-left versions, because it is not just an insidiously progressive phenomenon. It has also become deeply embedded in popular culture and is now rebranded with acceptable cool among America’s historically ignorant youth. In particular, the new, new bigotry is “intersectional.” It serves as a unifying progressive bond among “marginalized” groups such as young Middle Easterners, Muslims, feminists, blacks, woke celebrities and entertainers, socialists, the “undocumented,” and student activists. Abroad, the new, new bigotry is fueled by British Labourites and anti-Israel EU grandees.

Of course, the new, new anti-Semitism’s overt messages derive from both the old and the new. There is the same conspiratorial idea that the Jews covertly and underhandedly exert inordinate control over Americans (perhaps now as grasping sports-franchise owners or greedy hip-hop record executives). But the new, new anti-Semitism has added a number of subtler twists, namely that Jews are part of the old guard whose anachronistic standards of privilege block the emerging new constituency of woke Muslims, blacks, Latinos, and feminists.

Within the Democratic party, such animus is manifested by young woke politicians facing an old white hierarchy. Progressive activist Linda Sarsour oddly singled out for censure Senate majority leader Charles Schumer, saying, “I’m talking to Chuck Schumer. I’m tired of white men negotiating on the backs of people of color and communities like ours.”

In attacking Schumer, ostensibly a fellow progressive, Sarsour is claiming an intersectional bond forged in mutual victimization by whites — and thus older liberal Jews apparently either cannot conceive of such victimization or in fact are party to it. With a brief tweet, Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez dismissed former Democratic senator Joe Lieberman’s worry over the current leftward drift of the new Democratic party. “New party, who dis?” she mocked, apparently suggesting that the 76-year-old former Democratic vice-presidential candidate was irrelevant to the point of nonexistence for the new progressive generation.

Likewise, the generic invective against Trump — perhaps the most pro-Israel and pro-Jewish president of the modern era — as an anti-Semite and racist provides additional cover. Hating the supposedly Jew-hating Trump implies that you are not a Jew-hater yourself.

Rap and hip-hop music now routinely incorporate anti-Semitic lyrics and themes of Jews as oppressors — note the lyrics of rappers such as Malice, Pusha T, The Clipse, Ghostface Killah, Gunplay, Ice Cube, Jay-Z, Mos Def, and Scarface. More recently, LeBron James, the Los Angeles Lakers basketball legend, tweeted out the anti-Semitic lyrics of rapper 21 Savage: “We been getting that Jewish money, everything is Kosher.” LeBron was puzzled about why anyone would take offense, much less question him, a deified figure. He has a point, given that singling out Jews as money-grubbers, cheats, and conspirators has become a sort of rap brand, integral to the notion of the rapper as Everyman’s pushback against the universal oppressor. The music executive and franchise owner is the new Pawnbroker, and his demonization is often cast as no big deal at best and at worst as a sort of legitimate cry of the heart from the oppressed.

Note that marquee black leaders — from Keith Ellison to Barack Obama to the grandees of the Congressional Black Caucus — have all had smiling photo-ops with the anti-Semite Louis Farrakhan, a contemporary black version of Richard Spencer or the 1980s David Duke. Appearing with Farrakhan, however, never became toxic, even after he once publicly warned Jews, “And don’t you forget, when it’s God who puts you in the ovens, it’s forever!”

Temple professor, former CNN analyst, and self-described path-breaking intellectual Marc Lamont Hill recently parroted the Hamas slogan of “a free Palestine from the river to the sea” — boilerplate generally taken to mean that the goal is the destruction of the current nation of Israel. And here, too, it’s understandable that Hill was shocked at the ensuing outrage — talk of eliminating Israel is hardly controversial in hip left-wing culture.

The Democratic party’s fresh crop of representatives likewise reflects the new, new and mainlined biases, camouflaged in virulent anti-Israeli sentiment. Or, as Princeton scholar Robert George recently put it:

The Left calls the tune, and just as the Left settled in on abortion in the early 1970s and marriage redefinition in the ’90s, it has now settled in on opposition to Israel – not merely the policies of its government, but its very existence as a Jewish state and homeland of the Jewish people.

In that vein, Michigan’s new congresswoman, Rashida Tlaib, assumed she’d face little pushback from her party when she tweeted out the old slur that Jewish supporters of Israel have dual loyalties: Opponents of the Boycott, Divest, and Sanctions movement, which targets Israel, “forgot what country they represent,” she said. Ironically, Tlaib is not shy about her own spirited support of the Palestinians: She earlier had won some attention for an eliminationist map in her office that had the label “Palestine” pasted onto the Middle East, with an arrow pointing to Israel.

Similarly, Ilhan Omar (D., Minn.) — like Tlaib, a new female Muslim representative in the House — used to be candid in her views of Israel as an “apartheid regime”: “Israel has hypnotized the world, may Allah awaken the people and help them see the evil doings of Israel.” On matters of apartheid, one wonders whether Omar would prefer to be an Arab citizen inside “evil” Israel or an Israeli currently living in Saudi Arabia or Egypt.

Sarsour defended Omar with the usual anti-Israel talking points, in her now obsessive fashion. Predictably, her targets were old-style Jewish Democrats.  This criticism of Omar, Sarsour said, “is not only coming from the right-wing but [from] some folks who masquerade as progressives but always choose their allegiance to Israel over their commitment to democracy and free speech.” Again, note the anti-Semitic idea that support for the only functioning democracy in the Middle East is proof of lackluster support for democracy and free speech.

The unhinged Hank Johnson (D., Ga.) has derided Trump as a Hitler-like character, and Trump supporters as a doomed cadre of sick losers. He had once wondered whether too many U.S. Marines stationed on the shores of Guam might tip over the island and capsize it, so it was not too surprising when he also voiced the Farrakhan insect theme, this time in connection with apparently insidious Jewish destroyers of the West Bank: “There has been a steady [stream], almost like termites can get into a residence and eat before you know that you’ve been eaten up and you fall in on yourself.”

Out on the barricades, some Democrats, feminists, and Muslim activists, such as the co-founders of the “Women’s March,” Tamika Mallory and the now familiar Sarsour, have been staunch supporters of Louis Farrakhan (Mallory, for example, called him “the greatest of all time”). The New York Times recently ran a story of rivalries within the Women’s March, reporting that Mallory and Carmen Perez, a Latina activist, lectured another would-be co-leader, Vanessa Wruble, about her Jewish burdens. Wruble later noted: “What I remember — and what I was taken aback by — was the idea that Jews were specifically involved, and predominantly involved, in the slave trade, and that Jews make a lot of money off of black and brown bodies.”

Progressive icon Alice Walker was recently asked by the New York Times to cite her favorite bedtime reading. She enjoyed And the Truth Will Set You Free, by anti-Semite crackpot David Icke, she said, because the book was “brave enough to ask the questions others fear to ask” and was “a curious person’s dream come true.” One wonders which “questions” needed asking, and what exactly was Walker’s “dream” that had come “true.” When called out on Walker’s preference for Icke (who in the past has relied on the 19th-century Russian forgery The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, in part to construct an unhinged conspiracy about ruling “lizard people”), the Times demurred, with a shrug: It did not censor its respondents’ comments, it said, or editorialize about them.

20

These examples from contemporary popular culture, sports, politics, music, and progressive activism could be easily multiplied. The new, new anti-Semites do not see themselves as giving new life to an ancient pathological hatred; they’re only voicing claims of the victims themselves against their supposed oppressors. The new, new anti-Semites’ venom is contextualized as an “intersectional” defense from the hip, the young, and the woke against a Jewish component of privileged white establishmentarians — which explains why the bigoted are so surprised that anyone would be offended by their slurs.

In our illiterate and historically ignorant era, the new, new hip anti-Semitism becomes a more challenging menace than that posed by prior buffoons in bedsheets or the clownish demagogues of the 1980s such as the once-rotund Al Sharpton in sweatpants. And how weird that a growing trademark of the new path-breaking identity politics is the old stereotypical dislike of Jews and hatred of Israel.

Victor Davis Hanson — NRO contributor Victor Davis Hanson is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution and the author, most recently, of The Second World Wars: How the First Global Conflict Was Fought and Won. @vdhanson

 

 

Trump Visits Troops

Wednesday, December 26th, 2018

 

WASHINGTON EXAMINER

Trump makes surprise trip to Iraq to visit with troops

by Steven Nelson& Melissa Quinn

| December 26, 2018 02:20 PM

President Trump made an unannounced visit to troops stationed in Iraq on Wednesday, landing after hours of speculation in Washington on his whereabouts.

Trump addressed U.S. soldiers and posed for selfies at Al Asad Air Base near Baghdad a day after Christmas. First lady Melania Trump joined him on the trip.

The visit was a closely guarded secret until after Air Force One landed, but the mysterious departure of a plane from Joint Base Andrews in Maryland triggered theories that Trump was traveling abroad.

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders confirmed the trip on Twitter.

“President Trump and the First Lady traveled to Iraq late on Christmas night to visit with our troops and Senior Military leadership to thank them for their service, their success, and their sacrifice and to wish them a Merry Christmas,” Sanders wrote.

Speaking in Iraq, Trump said he does not have plans to remove U.S. troops from the war-torn country. Instead, he said Iraq could be used as a base to help combat the Islamic State, according to Bloomberg.

“If we see something happening with ISIS that we don’t like, we can hit them so fast and so hard they really won’t know what the hell happened,” Trump said. “We’ve knocked them silly.”

Last week, Trump ordered the withdrawal of about 2,000 U.S. troops from neighboring Syria, where noncovert operations began with airstrikes in 2014, and a drawdown of troops in Afghanistan, where U.S. troops have been based since 2001. He described the actions as making good on a campaign pledge to avoid open-ended military engagements.

Trump’s decision to withdraw U.S. service members from Syria has earned him criticism from both sides of the aisle, but the president defended the move during his overseas visit. “It’s time for us to start using our head,” he told reporters, “We don’t want to be taken advantage of anymore by countries that use us.”

The president’s trip to the Middle East comes after Trump had received criticism for being the first president since 2002 not to visit service members during the holiday season. Trump visited military personnel at Walter Reed Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., days before Christmas last year and invited members of the Coast Guard to play golf with him during a holiday trip to Mar-a-Lago, his sprawling Florida property, in the days after Christmas.

President Barack Obama, meanwhile, met with service members at Marine Corps Base Hawaii from 2009 to 2016 while celebrating the holidays in Hawaii.

Trump hinted in recent weeks that a trip to visit U.S. troops in a combat zone would be in his future. While speaking with troops in Afghanistan during Thanksgiving, Trump told Brig. Gen. David Lyons of the U.S. Air Force, “Maybe I’ll even see you over there . . . You never know what’s going to happen.”

Trump then suggested in an interview with Fox News last month that a visit to troops deployed overseas was in the works. “I think you will see that happen,” he said during the interview. “There are things that are being planned. We don’t want to talk about it because of security reasons and everything else.”

 

Indoctrination Saturation

Tuesday, November 13th, 2018

In light of the mid-term elections and the Democrat wins, I thought this piece by Victor Davis Hanson was most appropriate.

 

Indoctrination Saturation

Victor Davis Hanson

September 4, 2018

 

The all-seeing social-justice eye penetrates every aspect of our lives: sports, movies, public monuments, social media, funerals . . .

A definition of totalitarianism might be the saturation of every facet of daily life by political agendas and social-justice messaging.

At the present rate, America will soon resemble the dystopias of novels such as 1984 and Brave New World in which all aspects of life are warped by an all-encompassing ideology of coerced sameness. Or rather, the prevailing orthodoxy in America is the omnipresent attempt of an elite — exempt from the consequences of its own ideology thanks to its supposed superior virtue and intelligence — to mandate an equality of result.

We expect their 24/7 political messaging on cable-channel news networks, talk radio, or print and online media. And we concede that long ago an NPR, CNN, MSNBC, or New York Times ceased being journalistic entities as much as obsequious megaphones of the progressive itinerary.

But increasingly we cannot escape anywhere the lidless gaze of our progressive lords, all-seeing, all-knowing from high up in their dark towers.

The Peter Strzok–Lisa Page texts, along with the careers of former FBI director James Comey and his deputy Andrew McCabe, reveal a politicized and in some sense rotten FBI hierarchy, beholden far more to its own exalted sense of a progressive self than merely to investigating crimes against the people.

Lois Lerner was a clumsy reflection of how the IRS long ago became weaponized in service to auditing deplorables. Former CIA director John Brennan and Director of National Intelligence James Clapper used their supposedly nonpartisan positions to further political agendas. That each in his own way is clownish does not mitigate their rank efforts to graft intelligence agencies onto political causes.

The same deterioration is true of many in the Department of Justice, who, along with the FBI, misled FISA-court justices, as if that were the only, or perhaps the easiest, way to obtain politically driven surveillance on U.S. citizens. Americans now are woke to the reality that straying too much into the forbidden zone guarantees that their communications can be monitored on the pretense that they’re colluding with some nefarious power. Yet if foreigners are the menace, why did our proverbial best and brightest traffic with a paid foreign spy at election time to sabotage a political campaign, then trump even the improper use of electronic surveillance with the insertion of paid informants?

Google, Facebook, and Twitter are facing accusations of censoring social-media accounts and massaging Internet searches according to their progressive political agendas. The masters of the universe have given us the stereotype of 20- and 30-something social-warrior geeks, fiddling with their algorithms to virtue-signal their left-wing fides to a global audience.

YouTube restricted more than 50 Prager University videos — often because either a human or computerized auditor did not approve of the videos’ presentation of America’s historical role as beneficent. Tie-dyed T-shirts, flip-flops, and faded jeans do not mask the reality that some $3 trillion in global capitalization is pledged to ensure that the nations’ computers, pads, and smartphones will not be polluted by traditionalist thinking.

First-time congressional candidate Elizabeth Heng, a conservative from central California, found her video ad blocked on Facebook and Twitter. Apparently, her description of the Cambodian holocaust that her parents fled was too graphic or politically incorrect, or both. But then again, in California, everything is politicized, from plastic straws to single-user restrooms, in an Orwellian effort to distract us from the fact that we do not have enough water, usable roads, or workable public schools to remain a civilized state.

Language is especially enlisted to disguise bothersome reality. During the Obama administration, no one would ever have known from “overseas contingency operations,” “man-caused disasters,” “workplace disasters,” and “holy struggles” that radical Islamic terrorists were seeking to kill Westerners from San Bernardino to Paris. As in the case of illegal aliens, undocumented aliens, illegal immigrants, undocumented immigrants, immigrants migrants, the progressive rationale is that anyone killed or harmed by a terrorist or migrant is usually a nobody and so an acceptable casualty in the greater war against incorrect speech and attitude.

When our public colleges now find that an increasing number of newly admitted students cannot do college-level work when they begin their courses, administrators drop the old idea of catch-up “remedial” classes or compensatory “remediation” courses. The new language conveys that students are now suddenly qualified, or at least it virtue-signals the university’s effort to be suitably sensitive to the fact that in California nearly half of those entering the CSU system cannot read or compute at what previously had been thought to be a college level.

Our very names and identities have become politicized. Desperate to highlight their progressive purity (or to enhance careers), politicians sometimes reinvent their nomenclatures and ancestries to suggest solidarity with those deemed racially, ethnically, or economically oppressed. Who now is who or what?

Senator Elizabeth Warren claimed falsely — albeit not quite in the clumsy fashion of left-wing political activist and professor Ward Churchill — that she was part Native American. Socialist New York state senate candidate Julia Salazar recently and falsely rebranded herself as a virtual foreign-born immigrant. Was their intent to pose as poorer, more victimized Americans without actually having to become poorer or more victimized?

White-male aspirant for a Texas Senate seat Patrick Francis O’Rourke has used the Latino nickname “Beto,” probably on the assumption that “Beto O’Rourke” might ensure a little more street cred among Texas’s Latino voters. I suppose “Pat O’Lopez” would be too shameless? But then again, California Senate candidate Kevin de León has added both a “de” and an accent to remind voters that he is not just an Anglicized Kevin Leon who could be mistaken for a third-generation Portuguese American.

Americans have long accepted that Hollywood movies no longer seek just to entertain or inform, but to indoctrinate audiences by pushing progressive agendas. That commandment also demands that America be portrayed negatively — or better yet simply written out of history. Take the new film First Man, about the first moon landing. Apollo 11 astronaut Neil Armstrong became famous when he emerged from The Eagle, the two-man lunar module, and planted an American flag on the moon’s surface. Yet that iconic act disappears from the movie version. (At least Ryan Gosling, who plays Armstrong, does not walk out of the space capsule to string up a U.N. banner.)

Gosling claimed that the moon landing should not be seen as an American effort. Instead, he advised, it should be “widely regarded as a human achievement” — as if any nation’s efforts or the work of the United Nations in 1969 could have pulled off such an astounding and dangerous enterprise. I suppose we are to believe that Gosling’s Canada might just as well have built a Saturn V rocket.

Comic-book sales are static, purportedly because tired readers now find their make-believe heroes sermonizing, preachy, and predictable rather than one-dimensionally heroic. Social justice has entered the world of fantasy — and extends to science-fiction novels as well. Will 1984 have to be either banned or subjected to race/class/gender Bowdlerization?

Sports offers no relief. It is now no more a refuge from political indoctrination than is Hollywood. Yet it is about as difficult to find a jock who can pontificate about politics as it is to encounter a Ph.D. or politico who can pass or pitch.

The National Football League, the National Basketball Association, and sports channels are now politicalized in a variety of ways, from not standing up or saluting the flag during the National Anthem to pushing social-justice issues as part of televised sports analysis. What a strange sight to see tough sportsmen of our Roman-style gladiatorial arenas become delicate souls who wilt on seeing a dreaded hand across the heart during the playing of the National Anthem.

Even when we die, we do not escape politicization. At a recent eight-hour, televised funeral service for singer Aretha Franklin, politicos such as Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton went well beyond their homages into political harangues. Pericles or Lincoln they were not.

Activist professor Michael Eric Dyson laced his supposed eulogy with an adolescent rant against Donald Trump: “Your lugubrious leach, your dopey doppelgänger of deceit and deviance” — and all that alliterative gibberish that apparently follows from a Ph.D.

Politics likewise absorbed Senator John McCain’s funeral the next day. Sarah Palin —his persistently loyal 2008 running mate, who has never uttered an unkind word about him — was not invited. Apparently, her presence would now be seen as too politically incorrect; it might have polluted the observance with a deplorable odor or reminded us that she was once considered useful in appealing to the clinger/irredeemable/“crazies” vote.

Meghan McCain, Barack Obama, and former president George W. Bush all did their best to praise the deceased, but in passing could not resist deprecating the current president. We have forgotten that the ancillary to de mortuis nihil nisi bonum dicendum est (about the dead nothing but good should be said) is “in speaking of the dead, nothing but good should be said about the still living.” It is certainly not an admirable trait to deplore incivility by gratuitously attacking a sitting president at a funeral — especially when neither the presidential encomiasts, nor the object of their encomia, had always been particularly civil and polite to each another in the past.

Even the long-ago dead are fair game. Dark Age iconoclasm has returned to us with a fury.

Any statue at any time might be toppled — if it is deemed to represent an idea or belief from the distant past now considered racist, sexist, or somehow illiberal. Representations of Columbus, the Founding Fathers, and Confederate soldiers have all been defaced, knocked down, or removed. The images of mass murderers on the left are exempt, on the theory that good ends always allow a few excessive means. So are the images and names of robber barons and old bad white guys, whose venerable eponymous institutions offer valuable brands that can be monetized. At least so far, we are not rebranding Stanford and Yale with indigenous names.

This new politicized borg ferrets out every aspect of our lives. Nothing is safe, nothing sacred. Dead or alive, the relentless social-justice messaging continues. Like some sort of time machine, we go back in time to alter history as if a few corrections and adjustments will change and thus improve the entire present.

Comments

Progressive politics seeks to connect and energize us as millions of shared malignant cells inside a metastasizing tumor — or to destroy us in the attempt.

 


William S. Frankl, MD, All Rights Reserved