My Political Obsession Suddenly Feels Like Emptiness

All across America, political animals are posting and arguing about what the Alabama election means. What the future holds for the US Senate. They’re scanning the blogosphere to find pundits they agree with, and pundits they disagree with.
 
They’re linking and counter-linking. I’m one of the worst offender addicts. Hi, I’m Shawn. And I’m a politoholic.
 
Today I’m coming up empty, exhausted, and numb. There has to be more in life to be happy or concerned about. Maybe I’ll think something say something, or write something tomorrow. Well, I guess I do have this sort of political thought right now–if the role of the federal government in controlling our life were smaller, then single elections wouldn’t be so consequential and consuming. .

Alabama Finally Puts Us Out of Our Misery, One Way Or the Other.

I don’t know Roy Moore from Adam. Here is what I do know about his political context.

He attended West Point in an era when standards apparently were tougher than the past Obama era and the avowed communist who recently graduated from West Point that his superiors were too weak and afraid to discipline.

He had a thing for dating younger women, including the one he married, without allegation of misconduct from any quarter, for three decades or so.

He was a controversial Alabama judge on the Supreme Court, hated by the Left, and removed by Alabama’s legal system for refusing a federal order to remove a 10 commandments memorial in his courtroom. Somehow, the allegations that would come to shadow his senate run never surfaced amidst all the controversy.

He announced he would run for the Senate vacancy created by Jeff Session’s appointment as Attorney General. This is a seat in a Senate divided by one or two seats. Suddenly, there are multiple allegations by multiple women of boorish behavior by a seeming sexual predator.

Except for this…none of these allegations surfaced decades ago. He was a controversial figure hated by the left. One of his worst accusers has admitted fabricating evidence to bolster her claim.

He is not accused of impropriety more recent than 30 plus years. Hard to defend against old charges. And if he is of the character the accusers describe, how could there not be new charges?

Oh, and this is in the context of a new totalitarian Left that manufactures fraudulent prosecutions against Ted Stevens to steal a Senate seat, and dossiers against Trump to manufacture resistance to an elected president.

I don’t love Roy Moore. I sure loathe and oppose the Left that wants to engineer his lynching. No, I don’t believe a vile syllable out of the mouth of this machine of civic deceit and will to control and crush opposition.

Wheels Coming Off Mueller’s Clown Car and His Media Accomplices

 
If you rely on ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN, or PBS for your news, you may not realize what an astonishing, discrediting week or two it’s been in the Media Left’s War on Trump.
 
Just to hit a few low points, it was recently reported that Special Counsel Robert Mueller had to fire a top aid in his boundless investigation, because the FBI’s Peter Strzok is a vehement anti-Trump, pro-Clinton partisan. The taint goes deeper. Not only was Strzok a key player for Team Mueller, but Forest Gump-like, he appears to have played a major role in every development and decision relating to investigating the Clinton and Trump campaigns. He was part of the Cliniton email investigation. He attended the interviews of Huma Abedin, Cheryl Mills, and Hillary Clinton. He massaged James Comey’s get-out-of jail speech to lessen the legal implications for Clinton. He was part of the gang that investigated and cornered Michael Flynn.
 
The FBI and Mueller appear to have employed a regular Inspector Javert whose raison d’etre was to exonerate Hillary and incriminate Trump.
 
Former federal prosecutor Nick James explains why that news alone may be enough to end Mueller’s expedition. Short version: Because prosecutors are required to turn over to defendants all potentially exculpating information. That means to press forward, the Special Counsel would probably have to lay bare all of Strzok’s texts and emails about his hate of Trump and support for Hillary, and those communications probably spread further than the FBI agent girlfriend he reportedly was talking with. Congressman Jim Jordan delivers a scathing examination of FBI Director Wray here on the subject Strzok’s stench..
 
 The courts don’t want to be left out of the embarrassment. It was reported the judge overseeing the case against Michael Flynn was suddenly and mysteriously recused from the case. The unusual language in the announcement did not say he recused himself. Rather, he was recused. No explanation given. Hmmm.
 
 Meanwhile, major US media continues to beclown and disgrace itself in its frenzy to manufacture and hype dirt against Trump. Honest liberal Glenn Greenwald goes on a tour de force explanation of how badly and maliciously CNN, CBS, and MSNBC bothed a story on Friday that appeared to implicate Donald Trump Jr in shady dealings with suspected Russian operatives. It turns out networks, operating site unseen with anonymous sources misstated the date of an email by 10 days, which has the effect of turning a supposed bombshell revelation of secret and dirty dealing into a benign email about information that was already in the public domain. But, for sustained hours, the networks furiously peddled it as a nuclear disaster for Trump.
 
 
Greenwald makes the following devastating observation:
 
But what one should expect with journalistic “mistakes” is that they sometimes go in one direction, and other times go in the other direction. That’s exactly what has not happened here. Virtually every false story published goes only in one direction: to be as inflammatory and damaging as possible on the Trump/Russia story and about Russia particularly. At some point, once “mistakes” all start going in the same direction, toward advancing the same agenda, they cease looking like mistakes.
Surreal things have happened and keep happening and the major media shows no signs of reflecting on the lessons. Rather, it’s full speed ahead. Stay tuned.

The Story of How Bing Crosby and David Bowie Came to Make Beautiful Harmony *UPDATED

[See the Update below]

It seems I have been missing a wonderful holiday tradition. I just discovered the unlikely pairing of Bing Crosby and David Bowie singing Little Drummer Boy–Peace on Earth. It works charmingly. The scene opens with some gentle deprecating banter between the two. Bowie mistakes Crosby for the new butler, and their little get-to-know-you chat leads them to the realization they both sing.

The duet almost didn’t happen, as Bowie rejected performing the Little Drummer Boy. He said he hated that song and was only doing the show because his mother loves Bing Crosby. Producers huddled and frantically reworked the piece, giving Bowie a counter melody Peace on Earth to compliment Crosby’s traditional rendering. Bowie liked that.

There was other give and take and mutual adjustment beyond just the music. In 2004, Crosby’s daughter recounted to the Associated Press the awkward initial moments after Bowie and his wife arrived on the set wearing full length mink coats and bright red hair and makeup, including lipstick. Producers prevailed upon Bowie to tone down his colorful appearance. The two performers felt each other out, and sensed the bond of shared musical talent, and sort of relaxed. A classic scene was born. Enjoy.

 

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UPDATE: Will Farrell and John C. Reilly perform a tribute reenactment. Who knew they each had such nice voices? Anyway, they play the scene straight, except for a little punchline at the end…

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Reflections on Jerusalem and My Summer Job with a PLO Big Dog.

President Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capitol of Israel produced a tumult of commentary that reflects all the clash, hope, despair, realism and unreality swirling around the Jewish Palestinian problem. My friend Joshua Sharf offers a brilliant rebuttal to critics who call it a destabilizing move:
 
Let me get this straight. Syria’s got a civil war. Iraq’s got a civil war. Lebanon is being slowly digested by Hezbollah. Yemen’s got a civil war. ISIS is operating in Egypt. Hamas is doing what Hamas does. The Palestinians are paying people to stab Jews. Libya is butchering Nigerian slaves. (Re-read that one.) Iran is building nukes to go on their missiles. Iran is trying to subvert Bahrain.

But [by recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capitol] Trump is going to set the region aflame. Right.
 

The controversy brought up a dim personal memory of the summer I unknowingly worked with a future leader and advisor to the Palestine Liberation Organization. About 30 years ago, I was a summer intern at the Denver office of an international law firm. One of the other interns was a very able and appealing Palestinian American who went by Trig, I assume because he had been a math wiz in high school.
 
It was a summer of self-important ferment of aspiring lawyers from fancy schools at fancy firms working on intern-size legal projects and solving the world’s problems in dorm style conversations at nice lunches and after hours receptions. Of course, Trig’s Harvard was fancier than my Berkeley, and he seemed to be a step ahead of most of us in most ways, thinking and talking and drawing a laugh just a little quicker than the rest.
 
I don’t mean to overstate our association. We didn’t become fast friends. He probably doesn’t remember me today, and I only remember him because of a handful of dots that happened to connect. Some years later, reading an article in the Wall Street Journal about the Israel/Palestinian conflict, I came across a quote from Michael Tarazi, who was described as a Harvard educated American attorney who was a legal advisor and spokesman for the PLO. Wow. I was pretty sure Michael Tarazi was Trig Tarazi from my summer internship.
Google and the internet were not yet ubiquitous, but a little searching by means I don’t recall that are probably similar to archeology and reading dusty scrolls confirmed my suspicion. And I recalled a long ago conversation with Trig about the very issue he was addressing in the world’s best newspaper: How to solve a problem like the Holy land.
 
I don’t remember if I initiated the topic or he did, but in commenting on how Israel should approach what was the current burning branch in the thicket, I observed that whatever they agreed to would have to be consistent with their security and survival. It seemed like a tautology to me—whatever Israel agrees to has to be something it knows it can live with, literally. Trig’s response surprised me. Why he asked does any agreement have to ensure Israel’s survival? I don’t remember precise details of our exchange, but I remember the concepts. Because, I said, Israel has an interest in its own survival; Israel is in a stronger position than the Palestinians, and human nature dictates that it won’t enter an agreement that worsens or eliminates its security. Why should it?
 

Again, I don’t recall Trig’s exact response, but I have a vivid recollection of his puzzlement that I assumed Israel’s survival as a condition of resolving the issue. And that was equally puzzling to me. Why should Israel agree to anything that doesn’t assume its survival?

 

Well, Trig became, or reverted to, Michael, finished his Harvard law degree, had a whirlwind of international ascent, and became a top adviser and leading spokesman for the Palestinian cause, quoted in major media all around the globe. And I have to say, his quizzical response to my insistence that Israel cannot be expected to commit suicide seems to fit the dominant views of his cause.
 
The quips and aphorisms such as: If Palestinians wanted peace, there would be peace. If Israel wanted war there would be no Palestinians have a persuasive logic. The Palestinians have never accepted and committed to a lasting two-state solution. Indeed, Michael has gone on to a different and interesting career in finance and financial transactions in developing nations, but, the last advocacy on the subject I can find from him rejects a two state solution, insisting instead on a single state with a single government—which you can bet will not be liberal Jewish democracy. In fact, most observers recognize Arab proposals for a single state as more restrained expression of: we will drive the Jews into the sea.
 
 
 
 

Civil Debate about Bears Ears National Monument

I recently had this exchange with Ben Schneider, a former teacher and current author and publisher of climbing guidebooks.

SHAWN MITCHELL: Barack Obama unilaterally land-grabbed millions of acres of public lands at the end of his term under a strange law originally intended to preserve historic artifacts. Trump unilaterally whacked big chunks off of Obama’s grab.
Suddenly, America is restored to the land situation that existed in 2015. The horror.
All hell breaks loose. Trump hates wilderness!!! Trump wants to destroy national parks and monuments!!!
There is a way to preserve wilderness and open lands. All those beautiful acres are still out there. No golf courses or movie theaters or uranium mines erected or dug or drilled yet. But, presidential seizure under the antiquated Antiquities Act, especially against the wishes of the people who live there, is not the way a free society does it.

What Obama did by whim really can’t be the apocalypse when Trump later undoes half the whim. Right?

 

BEN SCHNEIDER: Obama’s designation here was far from a whim. Local republican lawmakers had tried for years to pass a federal bill protecting part of Bears Ears and also opening up large parts of it to mining development, oil & gas extraction, etc. it also would have permanently banned future antiquities act designations in a handful of Utah counties permanently. Those Utah lawmakers, Chaffetz and Bishop, failed to move that bill past committee. No democrats supported it but, but not all republicans supported it either. Chaffetz and Bishop couldn’t get it together, and alienated a coalition of 5 tribal nations with cultural claims to the area (who eventually walked away when they felt compromise was impossible). Their bill died. Meanwhile, because of the attention these lawmakers brought to the area, looting skyrocketed. There were 6 incidents of confirmed looting of Bears Ears native burial grounds in 2016 alone. At least 24 occurred in the five years previous. Can you imagine how many more actually occurred? Meanwhile the BLM did not increase law enforcement activity in the Bears Ears area.
 
So in summary the Utah lawmakers whose failed bill drew attention to the cultural richness of the area actually ended up in all likelihood increasing incidents of cultural looting AND the existing federal agency charged with protecting the area failed to respond. So what did Obama do, he used the Antiquities Act for exactly what it was meant for- to protect cultural resources from destruction. Local lawmakers were given a chance and they only made things worse.
 
Furthermore, I don’t know what you mean about the locals not supporting the designation. The five tribes with documented cultural claims to the area have long supported increased protections, and have a long record of lobbying and advocating for said protections. Frankly, given the generations of genocide (I use that word intentionally) the American government perpetrated against indigenous peoples, Obama’s rational designation of Bears Ears Natl. Monument is a drop in the proverbial bucket when it comes to making amends for the atrocities our forefathers committed against native peoples. And yeah, I give them a little more weight than some white locals who want to use the area for ATV fun or than I give to corporations who want to make a quick buck while they temporarily boost the local economy in a paltry way.
 
SHAWN: One question on the merits, the federal land managers you mention are, of course, part of the Department of the Interior. If this was about protecting antiquities, wouldn’t the reasonable course have been for Obama to order Secretary Salazar or Jewell to order the agency to do its job?
 
BEN: That’s a valid question Shawn. I’ve no idea what the answer to that is. But listen, I understand the argument I’m reading here about Federal overreach etc. I think there is probably some validity to that complaint. I guess at the end of the day I’m just not swayed by it, primarily because of the desire of Native Americans with cultural claims to Bears Ears to preserve the area. Historically, this country committed cultural genocide against the native inhabitants as we sought to expand and settle. We exterminated their cultures and peoples. American has never atoned for this, and we have never offered any significant reparations. Today most Native American populations are impoverished and struggling, which I think is directly attributable to the damage and havoc we created in their populations historically and never sought to repair. America has already benefited in significant, immeasurable and incalculable ways from the expansion of our geography that involved the theft of Native American lands and the exile of the native populations. Do we really need to continue to squeeze that lemon? Isn’t it time to start respecting the few indigenous voices left in this country? America has a tremendous debt here, and preserving and protecting Bears Ears in the ways the native populations desire is I think a small way to begin repaying that debt.
 
SHAWN: You make a moving argument, Ben. But I don’t know if addressing wrongs to Indians is a legal purpose of the Antiquities Act. Nor should the scope of atonement be committed to the president’s sole discretion.
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BEN: Fair point about the purposes of the Antiquities Act.
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