Linda Sarsour, the Zelig of jihad

Linda Sarsour and friends (among them, notice actress Susan Sarandon)

Linda Sarsour’s social circle is a thing of wonder. This began to become common knowledge not long after she became a public figure on January 21, 2017 – the date of the Women’s March on Washington, of which she was a leading organizer and at which she was a prominent speaker. As we have discovered, Sarsour is chummy with Louis Farrakhan; she enjoys the support and admiration of socialists Bernie Sanders and Van Jones; and she turned out to be a good friend of Abdul El-Sayed, the Muslim who lost this summer’s Democratic primary for governor of Michigan.

Imam Siraj Wahhaj

But that was nothing. After the stunning news came, early in August, that a group of Muslims had been operating a camp in the New Mexico desert where they were teaching kids to become school shooters, it turned out that this compound had a Linda Sarsour connection. Specifically, three of the five people who were arrested at the place after a raid by authorities are the children of a Brooklyn imam named Siraj Wahhaj. Who is this imam? Well, for one thing, he was an unindicted co-conspirator in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. For another thing, he is an old pal of Linda Sarsour, who has mentioned him frequently with affection and gratitude.

Siraj Ibn Wahhaj

In the case of Siraj Ibn Wahhaj, the son of the imam, the apple didn’t fall far from the tree. Like his pop, Sonny Boy would appear to be a past master in the fine art of killing innocents. That’s was he busy training those kids in New Mexico to do. The kids, by the way, were found starving and ragged in an underground trailer crammed with weapons and ammo. Also found there were the remains of a three-year-old boy who is believed to have been Wahhaj Junior’s son, whom he apparently abducted from the home of the child’s mother in Georgia.

Leo Hohmann

As Leo Hohmann spelled out in an August 10 article, Siraj Wahhaj – the dad – has close ties to the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA). Sarsour, as it happens, “has become the face of ISNA.” At an ISNA conference last year, reports Hohmann, “she praised Wahhaj Sr. as her ‘favorite person’ and called on U.S. Muslims to wage political jihad against the Trump administration.” And we quote:

And to my favorite person in this room, that’s mutual, is Imam Siraj Wahhaj, who has been a mentor, motivator, and encourager of mine. Someone who has taught me to speak truth to power, and not worry about the consequences. Someone who has taught me that we are on this earth to please Allah and only Allah, and that we are not here to please any man or woman on this earth. So I am grateful to you Imam Siraj, and you might think this is weird, but every once in a while, when I get into that deep dark place, Imam Siraj comes and talks to me. And he helps me to emerge out of those places, so I’m grateful to you Imam Siraj, and may Allah bless you and protect you for a long time for our community, because we need you now more than ever.

Wouldn’t you think that the mainstream media, which have been so eager during the last year and a half to promote Sarsour, this self-identified “feminist” in a hijab, would consider her ties to the Taos County jihad camp big news? No, of course you wouldn’t, unless you were an incredible naif. In fact, as expected, the media have all but buried this story. Along with it, they’ve buried the fact that, as Hohmann records, “Wahhaj Sr. was an honored guest at the Clinton State Department and the Obama White House,” that he “was the first Muslim to lead prayer at the U.S. House of Representatives in 1991,” and that he has proclaimed that it is the duty of Muslims “to replace the U.S. Constitution with the Quran.” (He’s also “called for death to all homosexuals and lesbians,” but that’s hardly surprising from such a devout Muslim.)

Once again, then, Linda Sarsour has dodged scandal. She remains a darling of the American left and of the American media. One wonders what it will take to change that. Maybe if she takes off the hijab?

Lanny Davis: The swamp personified

Lanny Davis

It’s been three years since we last took a look at Lanny Davis, the longtime Clinton family operative and inside-the-Beltway lobbyist and image-massager for several of the world’s worst dictators. When we wrote about him in 2015, Davis was a TV fixture, running from one cable-news studio to another in an effort to put a positive spin on the damaging news about Hillary’s e-mail server.

“Do you ever get tired of cleaning up after the Clintons?” Fox News journo Chris Wallace asked Davis at the time. Salon has called him a “well-known spinster…whom no one trusts.” Some more fun quotes about this creep: in 2012, calling him “a pitchman for warlords” who “carr[ied] the Devil’s water in Washington,” the Atlantic‘s Jon Lovett said that Davis “represents all that is wrong with politics today.” A 2013 piece in the New Republic began: “The last time we heard from Lanny Davis, he was doing what he does best: representing a dictator.” Among his clients: Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbsogo, dictator of Equatorial Guinea, widely known as the “Auschwitz of Africa,” and the Laurent Gbagbo, President of Cote D’Ivoire.

At Swamp Central

In short, to use a term that has gained currency since 2015: he is the swamp.

This July, after having kept a relatively low profile for quite a while, Davis resurfaced. News was that President Trump’s former lawyer Michael Cohen, who is now the target of a federal probe owing to his role in Trump’s payoffs to former mistresses, had engaged Davis’s services. At the Federalist, David Harsanyi offered a timely reminder of Davis’s career history under the headline “Let’s Take A Moment To Remember The Corrupt Hackery Of Lanny Davis,” stating that “it’s going to be fascinating to watch a shyster like Michael Cohen be transformed into a hero of The Resistance.” Still, added Harsanyi, “America—even with all our transgressions—simply doesn’t deserve Lanny Davis. None of us do.”

Michael Cohen


Davis, explained Harsanyi, “can be properly described as a personification of the cliché, ‘everything that’s wrong with Washington.’ Cringingly slavish to those in power, a consigliere, fundraiser, surrogate, and cheerful liar, Davis was a perpetual presence on cable TV during the Clinton scandals. Few men in history have ever been able to summon his kind of loyalty in the pursuit of shameless, transparent deceit and corruption.” Well, caan’t argue with any of that.

Harsanyi emphasized how ironic it is that Davis, of all people, is now “preaching—without even a trace of irony—the value of integrity and honesty,” contending that Cohen, formerly a two-bit shyster and bagman type, “has turned a corner in his life, and he’s now dedicated to telling the truth to everyone.” After all, noted Harsanyi, Davis played a not unimportant role “in corrupting the value of personal responsibility, civility, and morality in our political culture. His unwavering defense of Bill Clinton’s corruption and extramarital dalliances (and possibly worse) is a valuable reminder of how we got to this place.” Yep.

David Harsanyi

“For years,” recalled Harsanyi, “Davis told America that what they were seeing and reading was not what was happening. After tapes emerged of the Clintons illegally soliciting donations from big-money donors at the White House in 1997, for example, Davis sprang into action, not only contending that there was ‘no suggestion that there was any solicitation for money’ — despite the fact that the tapes suggested exactly that — but that many of the big contributions of those who had attended the event and only days later donated to the Clintons were merely an ‘incidental’ occurrence.” Now, this same man who “handled” Bill Clinton’s so-called “bimbo eruptions,” “smearing women he surely suspected were telling the truth about President Clinton’s habitual womanizing” (and worse) is making the usual cable-news rounds striving to whip viewers into a rage over “the tapes of a president and his lawyer discussing how to hide an alleged affair.”

Harsanyi’s summing up is right on the money: “Lanny Davis possess a preternatural chutzpah that puts most contemporary partisan hacks to shame. We’re all worse off having him back.”

Honoring a murderer in New York

The aftermath of the Fraunces Tavern bombing

Three facts. First, the Fuerzas Armadas de Liberación Nacional (Armed Forces of National Liberation, or FALN) was a Marxist-Leninist terrorist group that was dedicated to Puerto Rican independence and that, between 1974 and 1983, killed several people in over a hundred bomb attacks within the United States. The most famous of these actions was a 1975 bombing that took four lives at the historic Fraunces Tavern in New York City.

Oscar López Rivera

Second, Oscar López Rivera was an FALN leader who was arrested in 1980, sentenced to 55 years in federal prison in 1981, and released on May 17 as the result of a commutation order issued by Barack Obama three days before the end of his presidency. President Clinton had offered to release him as far back as 1999 on the condition that he renounce violence – but López Rivera refused. Obama placed no such condition on him.

Third, the organizers of New York City’s annual Puerto Rican Day Parade announced in early May that the parade, set to take place on June 11, would honor López Rivera as a “National Freedom Hero.”

Joseph Connor

Joseph Connor, the son of one of the four people killed in the Fraunces Tavern bombing, Frank Connor, responded to the news with a furious op-ed in the New York Post. “The idea is truly sickening,” he wrote. Reminding readers that New York City had been the setting for the “most horrific” of all of FALN’s bombings, he asked: “Why would anyone in New York salute this man — particularly in the midst of our nation’s war on terrorists?”

Melissa Mark-Viverito

Even more appalling, the announcement of this twisted tribute to López Rivera had been made by a public official, City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, at “the very site of the most horrific terror attack in our nation’s history,” namely the 9/11 assault on the Twin Towers. Coincidentally, Frank Connor’s godson, Steve Schlag, was one of the over 3000 victims of that assault. And that wasn’t the only grim coincidence: the Twin Towers, Joseph Connor noted, was the location of a 1977 threat by FALN that “prompted an evacuation” of both towers.

So it is, wrote Joseph Connor, that “the city in which our father was born, raised, worked and was murdered — a city bloodied by the most savage of all terrorist attacks on 9/11 — will play host to honoring” a terrorist with the blood of New Yorkers on his hands.

Fraunces Tavern

As Connor pointed out, López Rivera’s terrorism never had the slightest thing to do with freedom. Puerto Ricans have frequently had the opportunity to vote on the status of their island – independence, statehood, or a continuation of its unique commonwealth status? “Never more than 5 percent of them have ever voted for independence from America,” wrote Connor, “and in 2012 fully 60 percent voted for statehood.”

No, what López Rivera was fighting for was not freedom but “subjugation in a Cuba-like state.” After all, another notorious FALN member, William Morales, “has been a guest of Cuba for over 30 years.” New Yorkers, maintained Connor, “should be fuming. The NYPD and FDNY should refuse to participate.”

As of this writing, there’s no news about the NYPD or FDNY pulling out of the parade. But on May 16, it was reported that Goya Foods, America’s “oldest and best-known Hispanic food company,” had withdrawn support from the parade because of the tribute to López Rivera. But Univision, Telemundo, SBS, JetBlue, Coca-Cola, AT&T, McDonald’s, and the New York Yankees all stayed on as sponsors.

As the date of the parade approaches, we’ll keep an eye on developments.  

Smearing Elie Wiesel

Imagine the pride of a father who – having made a career as an unscrupulous world-class professional creep – lives to see his son, at a still relatively tender age, surpass his own monumental record for moral iniquity.

maxdad
Max and Sid

Whom else could we be talking about here but the execrable Sidney Blumenthal and his evil spawn, Max?

We’ve already looked in on Max a couple of times in the last year or so, noting the breathtaking rapidity with which he rose to the very top of the list of American Jews who make a career out of vilifying Israel (and, as a corollary, defending and justifying Islamic terror). His 2013 book Goliath: Life and Loathing in Greater Israel was so repulsive that even Eric Alterman, hardly an apologist for Israel, wrote that it “could have been published by the Hamas Book-of-the-Month Club (if it existed).” Max supports the BDS (boycott, divestment and sanctions) movement; he’s repeatedly accused Israel of apartheid and equated it with Nazi Germany; he’s even gone so far as to cheer, in a talk at the London School of Economics, a massacre of IDF soldiers in 2014 by members of Hamas.

wiesel
Elie Wiesel

No one should have been surprised, then, by Max’s disgusting response to the death, on July 2, at age 87, of Elie Wiesel – the Holocaust survivor and Nobel Peace Prize winner who provided, in his 1960 memoir Night, an indelible account of the experience of Auschwitz, and who over the decades became an internationally respected prophet of decency and humanity, an eloquent critic of anti-Semitism, racism, and other forms of prejudice who, at one moment of crisis after another, reminded the world where its moral duty lay.

All that mattered to Max, however, was that Wiesel recognized the very real difference between Israel (which Max has referred to as JSIL – the Jewish State in the Levant) and its terrorist enemies. And so, on July 2, Max tweeted out the following:

blubot
Blumenthal and one of his most vocal critics, Rabbi Schmuley Boteach

Elie Wiesel is dead. He spent his last years inciting hatred, defending apartheid & palling around with fascists.

And:

Elie Wiesel went from a victim of war crimes to a supporter of those who commit them. He did more harm than good and should not be honored.

In a follow-up article, Max smeared Wiesel as a careerist who’d “secured his brand as the high priest of Holocaust theology, the quasi-religion he introduced.”

Joel Pollak had the perfect comment on all this: “Blumenthal’s bile,” he wrote, “is a perfect tribute to Wiesel, who was the living retort to such nonsense.”  

clintonsid
Sid with Bill, back in the White House days

As it happens, Max’s dad, Sid, is a longtime Clinton functionary – confidante, adviser, fixer, bagman, snoop, go-between. Several of Hillary’s famous e-mails to Sid reference Max, praising his articles: “He’s so good.” “A very smart piece.” “[P]owerful and touching.” “Max strikes again!” Over the year, both Clintons have kept mum about Max’s vicious savaging of Israel. But his Wiesel tweets made headlines, and Hillary is running for president, and so she apparently felt compelled – finally – to distance herself from him, releasing a statement through her campaign rejecting his “offensive, hateful and patently absurd statements” about Wiesel, whom she described as a “hero.”

Better late than never. But it will take far more than this one incident, one suspects, for the Clintons to cut loose Max’s dad, whose utter lack of the kind of conscience that Wiesel embodied has made him the most useful of factotums.

CNN: “respect” for terrorists

We’ve been pondering CNN’s curious relationship to autocrats around the world. As we’ve seen, the network routinely soft-pedals the perfidies of various countries’ governments in order to keep its reporters from being expelled. In some cases, to be sure, the tendency to whitewash tyranny isn’t just strategic but ideological – for many CNN people, as it happens, actively sympathize with leftist despots.

fadlallah
Fadlallah

Then again, sometimes a CNN hireling will go too far in expressing that sympathy. In 2010, Grand Ayatollah Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah died. Known as the spiritual mentor of Hezbollah and designated a terrorist by President Clinton, Fadlallah advocated the destruction of Israel, cheered on suicide bombers, engaged in Holocaust denial, called for the murder of Jews, applauded the 2008 Mercaz HaRav massacre (in which eight students were killed), celebrated the 1983 Beirut barracks bombing (in which 299 died), approved of the hostage-taking at the U.S. Embassy in Tehran, and personally had the blood of no fewer than 260 Americans on his hands.

nasr
Octavia Nasr

Among those who mourned Fadlallah’s death was Iran’s Ayatollah Khamenei, who remembered him as having been “loyal to the path of the Islamic Revolution” and as having “proved this through words and actions throughout the Islamic Republic’s thirty years.” Fadlallah was likewise eulogized by none other than Octavia Nasr, CNN’s senior Middle East editor. On learning of his demise, Nasr tweeted as follows from her official CNN Twitter account: “Sad to hear of the passing of Sayyed Mohammad Hussein Fadlallah. One of Hezbollah’s giants I respect a lot.”

boteach
Shmuley Boteach

Nasr received widespread criticism. Rabbi Shmuley Boteach marveled that for people like Nasr, “an imam like Fadlallah who wants to kill Americans and Israelis but who is unexpectedly nice to women has taken a giant leap forward from the Dark Ages, deserving respect and praise.” Nasr soon removed her tweet and, on a CNN blog, expressed regret for it, saying that the harsh public reaction had taught her “a good lesson on why 140 characters should not be used to comment on controversial or sensitive issues, especially those dealing with the Middle East.”

This was, note well, not exactly an apology. Nasr went on to describe the tweet as “simplistic” and explained that her “respect” for Fadlallah was based on his “contrarian and pioneering stand among Shia clerics on woman’s rights.” Of course, all things are relative; when Nasr spoke of support for women’s rights, she meant that Fadlallah was not a fan of honor killings. In any event, Nasr soon discovered that even by the lax standards of CNN, she had gone too far: her publicly declared “respect” for a mass murderer resulted in her dismissal from the network. It may well be that CNN’s readiness to fire her had less to do with any discomfort over her praise for Fadlallah than with its concern about losing access in Israel.

Tony Blair’s web of cash

Yesterday we began looking at the post-prime ministerial life of Tony Blair, as chronicled in a new book  (recently excerpted in the Daily Mail) by British investigative journalist Tom Bower. We saw that Blair, like some of the slimiest stooges in Venezuela and elsewhere, has come up with ingenious ways to generate income and has established his own elaborate network of front companies to hide the loot.

Tony Blair
Tony Blair

But that’s not all. Get this: he’s also set up a number of institutions, some explicitly designated as businesses and others as charities, but all of them apparently intended to rake in money from deep-pocketed tyrants and shady business types around the world. One of those institutions is Tony Blair Associates, a consulting firm that is frankly in the business of — well, business. Another is the Faith Foundation, a purported charity whose stated objective is to contribute to the healing of religious divisions around the world. Another is the Africa Governance Initiative (AGI), another self-declared charity which is supposedly dedicated to helping governments from the Suez to the Cape of Good Hope to formulate and carry out economic development plans.

bower
Tom Bower

Massive amounts of dough pass through these institutions. All that mazuma should, of course, be kept separate from Blair’s own personal stash. But as with Bill and Hillary Clinton’s notorious foundation, the reality of Blair’s finances turns out to be a good deal messier than the cover story. Also like the Clintons, Blair is in the habit of collecting outsized sums for, um, delivering speeches; Bower cites, for example, “an address in Orlando, Florida, to the International Sanitary Supply Association — manufacturers of lavatory cleaners.” Quite clearly, Blair doesn’t lie awake at night worrying that he might be doing things beneath the dignity of a former British PM.

There’s more. Just as Blair is insufficiently careful about separating his personal cash from his charities’ funds, he’s not too meticulous about drawing a line between his current role as private citizen and his former role as British head of government. This often leads to wildly inappropriate situations. For instance, while making scads of money dispensing advice to other countries’ governments — advice that isn’t necessarily consistent with the interests of his own country — Blair still expects the British Embassy in each capital he visits “to provide him with a comprehensive security briefing and occasionally even overnight accommodation,” as if he were still in office.

At times he pushes it even further. Visiting one African country, allegedly on behalf of AGI, Blair asked for a private audience with the head of state because he claimed to have been asked to give the top man “a personal message…from David Cameron.” But he had no such message to deliver; he was there for no other reason than to drum up business for Tony Blair Associates. The head of state, quite appropriately, took offense at this cheesy bait and switch. Later, when confronted with this incident and asked whether he’d been “mixing charity and business,” Blair lied outright: Tony Blair Associates, he insisted, doesn’t do business in Africa, only in the Middle East and Asia.

david-cameron_1939896c
David Cameron

On the contrary, Tony Blair Associates seems to be prepared to do business anywhere there is a euro, pound, buck, peso, or yen to be snagged. As Bower puts it, Blair has “concentrated on offering advice to sheikhs, presidents and dictators.” It seems plain enough from Bower’s accounts that Blair’s advice itself, to the extent that he actually bothers to proffer any, is next to worthless; if the world’s tinpot tyrants are nonetheless queuing up with wheelbarrows full of cash, it’s obvious that they’re greasing his palm in exchange for influence, for access. This is, after all, a guy who can get any head of state in the world, from President Obama on down, to come to the phone. So it was that the government of Kuwait paid him £20 million to “review the country’s economy.” The report he ultimately turned in was a piece of embarrassing, amateurish hackwork – a “lengthy repetition of Kuwait’s well- known problems, concluding with a series of impractical solutions,” that was “greeted with derision” and then buried by Kuwaiti authorities. 

nursul
Nursultan Nazarbayev

But for the authorities to whom Blair peddles his influence, no “advice,” it appears, is too worthless. And for Blair, in return, no client is too sleazy. He accepted a sizable sum to help the corrupt U.I. Energy of South Korea secure an oil contract. He took a hefty salary from another nefarious outfit, PetroSaudi, to make deals on its behalf with Chinese authorities. In 2011, he even went to work for the rotten-to-the-core Kazakh dictator Nursultan Nazarbayev, whose abuses of his subjects’ human rights didn’t keep Blair from recording “an hour-long video about Nazarbayev” in which he “repeatedly eulogis[ed]” the creep. Not only that, Blair “arranged for his old crony Alastair Campbell and former Downing Street spokesman Tim Allan to promote the despot.” When Nazarbayev asked Blair how, in a speech at Cambridge, he should address his security forces’ cold-blooded murder of 14 civilians, Blair suggested he take the angle that the massacre, tragic though it was, “should not obscure the enormous progress that Kazakhstan has made.”

Disgraceful. But Nazarbayev isn’t the only autocrat with blood on his hands who’s helped fatten Blair’s bank account. Far from it. More tomorrow.

A desperate move in Brazil

santana2
Joao Santana

On February 23, as we noted yesterday, Joao Santana, the James Carville to Dilma Rousseff’s Bill Clinton, was unceremoniously arrested in connection with the massive police probe into price-fixing, bribery, and kickbacks at Petrobras, the Brazilian state petroleum firm. Only six days later, Brazil’s justice minister, Jose Eduardo Cardozo, resigned. Why? Because he, too, had been implicated the corruption? No – because members of the ruling Workers’ Party were furious at him for having failed to put an end to the corruption investigation, known as Operação Lava Jato (Operation Car Wash). Cardozo, a veteran member of the Workers’ Party who has previously served as congressman and mayor of São Paulo and who has long been counted as a “close and reliable friend to the president” and as one of her “most faithful champions,” was the second member of Rousseff’s cabinet to leave in recent months; the first was Joaquim Levy, who resigned in December from the position of Minister of Finance.

cardozo3
Jose Eduardo Cardozo

Cardozo’s resignation came in the wake of news that the probe had broadened to included none other than Luíz Inácio Lula da Silva, Brazil’s widely revered ex-president, who was in office from 2003 to 2010. According to reports, courts were on the verge of subpoenaing Lula’s financial records. Cardozo’s refusal to interfere in police efforts – and thus keep the damage from spreading to more and more fellow Workers’ Party members – spelled the end of his tenure at the Ministry of Justice. Although Brazilian police are technically under the ministry’s authority, the Minister of Justice has no legal authority to interfere with their activities.

dilmalula
Rousseff and Lula in happier times

Operation Car Wash has already taken down a long list of top business leaders and Workers’ Party politicians. But as the probe closed in on Lula, the panic in the circles surrounding Rousseff intensified – as did outrage at Cardozo for failing to rein in what loyalists insist on describing as a political witch hunt. Lula, who had already been confronted recently with questions from the police about his children’s shady financial activities, is now being scrutinized over renovations performed at two of his properties, a luxurious beach-front apartment and a rural estate. The renovations were performed by construction firms implicated in the Petrobras corruption; Lula insists, however, that the two properties don’t belong to him.

cesar
Wellington Cesar

Is Cardozo totally out of the government? Far from it. In a neat twist (leave it to corrupt autocrats to come up with moves so rich in poetic irony), he’s been shifted to the job of Attorney General – a position in which he’ll be tasked with protecting Rousseff & co. from the very same investigators who’ve been allowed to proceed with their work under his authority. Meanwhile, Cardozo’s replacement at Justice, one Wellington Cesar Lima e Silva, is expected to lean on those investigators to lay off Lula – and, of course, the president herself. 

It’s looking likelier by the day, however, that any efforts to fend off the fuzz may be in vain. On March 1, the media reported on a plea bargain in which eleven officials of Andrade Gutierrez, Brazil’s second-largest engineering firm, admitted to having paid over $1.27 million under the table to suppliers for Rousseff’s 2010 campaign. As Reuters put it, this testimony represented “the first direct link between the widening ‘Operation Carwash’ investigation into bribes and political kickbacks at state-run oil company Petrobras and the election of Rousseff.”

The sands are shifting fast in Rousseff country. Stay tuned. 

 

Holidays with Rahm

Lately we’ve been engaging in the pastime of cataloguing celebrities who travel to Cuba. Here’s another.

emanuel_rtr_img
Rahm Emanuel

Rahm Emanuel is the kind of political professional whom even his own friends don’t particularly care for. A longtime fixture of that grubbiest of all American political machines, the Cook County Democrats, he’s brash, rude, obnoxious. (Pick your synonym.) And yet, thanks to his native wiliness and (increasingly) his high-level connections, he’s moved from triumph to triumph.

Born in Chicago, Emanuel attended Northwestern, worked on the 1992 Clinton campaign and then in the Clinton White House, made over $16 million for four years’ work at an investment bank (despite having no background whatsoever in banking), and was a director of Freddie Mac during a major scandal. (According to ABC News, he and his fellow board members “misreported profits by billions of dollars in order to deceive investors,” thereby helping to precipitate the world financial crisis of 2008.) After spending six years in Congress (where he was head of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee), he was appointed Obama’s first chief of staff, then ran successfully in 2010 for mayor of the Windy City – a position he now holds.

Rahm-Emanuel--Bill-Clinton-2011-by-Joshua-Mellin-web
With Clinton

When Emanuel took over the reins of power in Chicago, the city was a nightmarish mess. He hasn’t helped. The toddlin’ town remains notorious around the country, in fact the world, for its high crime level – and, in particular, its gang killings. Its public education system is a scandal and an embarrassment. Its bond rating has sunk to near-junk bond level. Most recently, Emanuel has faced mounting criticism for his incompetent handling of the judicial aftermath of a police shooting that took place in October of last year. Incompetence, indeed, seems to have become a hallmark of his tenure. 

But he doesn’t seem fazed by any of it. After five years of spectacular failure in the job of mayor, he clearly hasn’t learned humility. On the contrary, one gets the distinct impression that he’s already working on his next step up the career ladder. A Senate seat? Perhaps even the presidency? “What you see in Rahm Emanuel is what you get, and what you get is raw ambition,” wrote Chicago author Joseph Epstein earlier this year in an acid profile of the mayor. Some public servants actually do think of themselves as servants of the public. Not Emanuel. This guy, observed Epstein, “is in business for himself.” Another pol in his current position might at least try to tamp down the insolence, lose the swagger; alas, the worse things get for Emanuel, the more often he seems to dial his legendary arrogance up to a 10. 

Rahm-Emanuel-with-Barack--001
A word in Obama’s ear

Case in point: at a breakfast event in early December, Mike Allen of Politico spent almost an hour interviewing Emanuel in front of an audience. Then Allen happened to mention something that Emanuel had told him backstage: this year, the mayor and his family were planning to spend the holidays in Cuba. Why Cuba? Allen asked.

It seemed a relatively innocuous question. But instead of immediately answering it, Emanuel launched into Allen, expressing his irritation at the reporter’s disclosure. “Well, first of all, thanks for telling everybody what I’m going to do with my family,” Emanuel said. “You had a private conversation with me and now you decide to make that public. I really don’t appreciate that, for one, I really don’t.”

xemanuel-family.jpg.pagespeed.ic_.8bw454LAk8H_ssGmI7AC
Emanuel and family

“I’m sorry,” Allen replied. “I didn’t know that wasn’t known.”

After upbraiding Allen a bit more, Emanuel got around to responding to Allen’s query. He wants, he said, to expose his kids “to other cultures, other parts of the world, and one of the things that we want is for our children to know that the world has people of different faiths, different backgrounds, with different ways of living and coping with similar situations.” He noted that he and his wife, Amy Rule, had previously taken their children to Uganda, Kenya, Zambia, Vietnam, and Laos.

Aha! This list of Emanuel family vacation spots explained everything. Obviously, Emanuel likes to take his children to places that are even more horribly governed than the city of Chicago – places with even higher crime rates, lousier schools, crummier economies, more broken-down infrastructure, and more outrageous levels of government corruption, graft, malfeasance, and all-around venality. Get it? This way they’ll actually return home thinking that their father’s done a terrific job in Chicago. Kind of touching, isn’t it?

A putrid pedigree: Robert Malley

While in Paris with President Obama for the recent climate summit, White House press secretary Josh Earnest slipped a small detail into a briefing: the President, he said, had promoted Robert Malley, the National Security Council Coordinator for the Middle East and North Africa, to the position of Senior Advisor to the President for the Counter-ISIL Campaign in Iraq and Syria.

Robert Malley
Robert Malley

Who is Robert Malley? Born in 1963, he’s the son of two fiercely anti-Western, anti-democratic radicals. His mother, American-born Barbara Silverstein Malley, worked for the Algerian FLN’s delegation to the UN. His father, Simon Malley, was an Egyptian Jew, a leader of the Egyptian Communist Party, a friend and confidante of Yasir Arafat, a supporter of various terrorist groups (Algeria’s FLN) and dictators (Nasser, Nkrumah, Touré, Castro), and a rabid enemy of Israel. The family lived in France from 1969 to 1980, at which time Malley’s dad, who was suspected of engaging in clandestine pro-Soviet activities, was ordered to leave the country by then President Valéry Giscard d’Estaing.

simonmalley
Simon Malley

French Interior Minister Christian Bonnet described some of the elder Malley’s articles as “genuine appeals to murder foreign chiefs of state.” Simon Malley published a magazine, Afrique-Asie, that “supported the Soviet military intervention in Afghanistan, the Cuban intervention in Angola and Ethiopia, the seizure of American hostages in Iran, the Algerian-backed guerrilla war in southern Morocco, and the Arab opposition to Israel and the Camp David agreements.” The Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America has offered the following summing-up: “The world in which Robert Malley grew up was one in which Yasir Arafat, Fidel Castro, Leonid Brezhnev and Todor Zhivkov were heroes, any American leader – even Jimmy Carter! – was villainous, and Israeli leaders were veritable demons.”

151201-robert-malley-camp-david-831a_f2081b9f2afb6e31609c8b6d2f02502e.nbcnews-ux-2880-1000
Malley (in glasses) at Camp David with Clinton, Arafat, and a Palestinian negotiator

Having been marinated in his parents’ extremist views, Robert Malley went to Yale, then Oxford. He attended Harvard Law at the same time as Obama. He then worked in the Clinton administration. Later – often in collaboration with former Arafat lackey Hussein Agha – he wrote a long series of flagrantly dishonest articles about the Middle East. In two 2001 op-eds, he blamed the failure of the previous year’s Camp David summit, in which he had played a key role, on Israel, not the Palestinians. This was a total lie – thoroughly rejected by other summit participants, including Bill Clinton and Ehud Barak – but his privileged position gave that lie legitimacy, and pro-Palestinian, anti-Israeli activists were quick to parrot it, giving it a currency that it still enjoys. In later articles Malley heaped praise on Arafat while arguing that Israel was ultimately responsible for Palestinian terror.

But all that was mere prelude. We’ll get around to the really dark stuff tomorrow. 

The Rev. Jackson’s Cuba sojourns

June 26-27, 1984, Havana, Cuba --- Jesse Jackson smokes Cuban cigars with Fidel Castro during a controversial visit to Havana in June 1984. Jackson, a candidate for President of the United States, caused a stir in the U.S. government and press by visiting with the Communist leader. --- Image by © Jacques M. Chenet/CORBIS
The Rev. Jesse Jackson and Fidel Castro, June 1984

Jesse Jackson is such a patently unsavory creature – a shameless race hustler, an inveterate shakedown artist, a hardcore anti-Semite (remember “Hymietown”?), a sleazy player posing as a man of the cloth – that his coziness with the Castro government should hardly seem a surprise. Yet it’s important that this aspect of his slimy character not be lost in the mix.

27 Aug 1984, Havana, Cuba --- Original caption: Reverend Jesse Jackson (L) is seated next to Cuban Prime Minister Fidel Castro during negotiations for the release of a group of prisoners to Jackson. --- Image by © Bettmann/CORBIS
Jackson and Castro, August 1984

For one thing, unlike other useful Castro stooges, Jackson hasn’t just visited the island prison once or twice. Over the decades, he’s been there so many times – and met Castro so many times – that it’s hard to come up with an exact count. On a couple of these visits he attempted to secure the release of political prisoners, but any objective observer of his career would find it difficult to see these supposedly humanitarian efforts as anything other than cynical bids for attention, power, and positive PR. They were, in any event, clear breaches of the Logan Act of 1799, violation of which is a felony. (In addition to Cuba, Jackson was able to persuade the governments of Syria, Iraq, and Yugoslavia to release prisoners at various points in the 1980s and 90s – actions they presumably took because his involvement enabled them to receive very prominent and very positive press in the U.S. while making the U.S. government itself look impotent.)

jjcc
Jackson and Castro, 1993

Anyway, here’s a brief overview of Jackson’s Cuba adventures. In 1984, while he was running for President, he flew to Havana, where Fidel Castro welcomed him at the airport and, according to BBC correspondent Alastair Cooke, was treated “as if he were already president of the United States.” Giving a speech at the University of Havana, he shouted “Viva Fidel!” and “Viva Che Guevara!” He raised his fists: “Long live our cry of freedom!” During that trip, Castro praised Jackson as “brilliant” and “sincere,” a man full of “honesty” and free of “demagoguery.”

jjkk
Okay, he didn’t really say that, as far as we know. Jackson at the Hotel Nacional in Havana, 2013

Jackson didn’t return home alone: he took back with him to the U.S. sixteen American and seven Cuban political prisoners whom Castro had released as a sort of gift for the good reverend. (Castro himself said that he had made the gesture “as a result of Rev. Jackson’s visit. I did it for him and for the people of the United States.”) 

cooke
Alastair Cooke

Upon their arrival at Dulles Airport, one of the released Cuban prisoners, Andres Vargas Gomez, an anti-Castro activist who’d been incarcerated for 21 years, spoke to reporters. He didn’t have kind words for either Castro or Jackson. “To go to Cuba to join in a moral offensive with Fidel Castro,” he said, referring to Jackson, “is more than morally offensive, it is a moral offense.” Cooke called the prisoner release “a very small price that Castro has to pay for helping to advertise among his people, and other Central American peoples, the fact that here is an actual candidate for the presidency of the United States, who is as much against the Central American policies of the detested Reagan as they are.” Jackson, pronounced Cooke, had been “used”; he was “a patsy” who’d made it “all the harder” for the U.S. government to improve relations with Cuba.

jj2013b
Jackson at a religious service in Havana, September 2013

Oh, and let’s not forget that this patsy, this serial violator of the Logan Act, this man who shouted “Viva Fidel!” at the University of Havana in 1984 became, in the 1990s, the Clinton Administration’s house preacher. During the Lewinsky crisis, he reportedly prayed with Hillary and gave Bill “emotional solace and political advice” (not necessarily in that order). In 2000, President Clinton actually presented this champion of Castro’s dictatorship – who as recently as 1993 had vacationed in Havana and hung with Castro – with the Presidential Medal of Freedom. The award citation stated that Jackson “has preached a gospel of hope, unity and responsibility and has helped establish common ground across lines of race, class, gender, nationality and faith.”

U.S. civil rights activist Jesse Jackson (C) walks at the National hotel in Havana September 27, 2013. REUTERS/Enrique de la Osa
Back at the Hotel Nacional, 2013

In September 2013, Jackson went to Cuba yet again. He wanted, he declared, to try to secure the freedom of Alan Gross, an American who’d been imprisoned there since 2009.  This time, however, Castro didn’t deign to meet with him; perhaps he’d decided that Jackson’s star was on the wane and his Logan Act violations were no longer the front-page news they’d once been. (Gross was finally released last December.) But Jackson’s time wasn’t wasted: during the same visit, he met with leaders of FARC, the far-left Colombian terrorist group, and gave a talk advocating actions against the U.S. economic blockade. 

Jackson claims to be delighted at the restoration of full diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba. But is he? When every American can legally travel to Cuba, who’s going to care anymore when he makes the trip?