British Muslim Group Buys Full-Page Ads Condemning Anti-Semitism

In the wake of the violent protests at the Gaza border fence in Israel, a group of prominent Muslims in Britain have purchased full-page ads in several UK papers to condemn anti-Semitism and to urge their fellow Muslims to “speak out” whenever they see signs of “one of history’s oldest and most virulent hatreds.”

The ads were sponsored by a nonprofit organization called Muslims Against Anti-Semitism (MAAS) and feature an open letter with over a dozen signatories, including journalists, former members of parliament, community activists, and religious leaders. So far, the ads have run in the Times, the Telegraph, and the Metro.

The ads show a bold headline: “We Muslims have one word for Jews. Shalom.” — the Hebrew word for peace.

“As British Muslims, we believe the time has come to speak out,” begins the letter, which seeks to engage Muslims in the fight against anti-Semitism, and specifically references the Israeli-Palestinian conflict:

For far too long, anti-Semitism has gone unchecked. Sadly, it has become entrenched across society. Its poison can be found in all political parties and among followers of all faiths, including Islam.

Eradicating it is a challenge faced by all of us.

We understand that many in our country empathise with the Palestinians and their right to a sovereign state. We welcome the defence of the rights of all people.

However, we must be ever vigilant against those who cynically use international issues to vilify Jews or promote anti-Semitic tropes. There is no cause that can justify the promotion of hate.

Just as we challenge those who recycle anti-Muslim tropes, we stand firmly against racism directed at our Jewish sisters and brothers.

As Muslims, we believe that our future peace, security and prosperity in this great country cannot be ensured while Jewish communities feel under threat. It is our duty to speak out against all forms of hatred and bigotry — against anti-Semitism no less than anti-Muslim hatred.

To our Jewish sisters and brothers, we say the struggle against one of history oldest and most virulent hatreds is not your fight along but ours collectively.

In peace, we say these words:

Hiney ma tov u’ma-nayim, Shevet ach-im gam ya-chad.

The last line of the ad comes from a Hebrew hymn and translates to “How good it is, for brothers and sisters to sit together.”

The ad has received many positive responses, including from the Board of Deputies of British Jews, who thanked MAAS for their “incredible solidarity.”

Follow Sarah Rumpf on Twitter: @rumpfshaker

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Is Joe diGenova Nuts Or Does He Know Something?


Back in April, Attorney General Jeff Sessions came out of seclusion for long enough to try to tamp down GOP anger over his refusal to appoint a special prosecutor to look into what appeared to many in Congress…and the White House…to be widespread abuse of power by the FBI during the 2016 election.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions may have declined calls to appoint a second special counsel to investigate the FBI’s behavior during the 2016 campaign, but the man he has picked to lead an internal Justice Department review is a special counsel in every way but name.

John W. Huber, the U.S. attorney in Utah, can convene a grand jury, issue subpoenas, collect evidence and order witnesses to testify — all the usual powers a federal prosecutor has — as he delves into whether the FBI abused its powers when it sought permission and then carried out wiretapping of a Trump campaign figure, or whether it trod too lightly in pursuing questions about Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.

Not much has been heard from Mr. Huber. But the DOJ IG is getting close to releasing what is expected to be a scathing report of how the FBI handled the Hillary Clinton email investigation. This has led the FBI and parts of Justice to befoul itself and begin leaking like the Titanic in order to get its story to the public first.

Yesterday, Joe diGenova was on Tucker Carlson’s show

“We know that Hillary Clinton was illegally exonerated. We knew that a year ago,” the former prosecutor said.

“We know that there was a substantial effort to frame the current president of the United States with crimes by infiltrating his campaign and then his administration with spies that the FBI had set upon them.”

“We have learned that the crimes were committed by the FBI, senior members of the Department of Justice, John Brennan, Mr. [James] Clapper, Mr. [James] Comey and others associated with the Democratic Party,” he continued. “And Donald Trump and his associates committed no crimes.”

“Categorically and unequivocally, it has been proved that the FBI, in violation of all guidelines, all legislation — and I believe they committed crimes in doing so — purposely sent people into the Trump campaign to plant false information, then force that information to be forwarded back to CIA, and then funneled to the FBI, to be used as false information in FISA applications,” he said.

“Everybody involved in that process, who knowingly participated, committed a crime,” DiGenova concluded.

He explained that “criminal referrals have already been made.”

“And I suggest that Mr. Brennan, who loves to make comments about the process, get himself a good lawyer not a good writer,” DiGenova said.

Let’s look at this. First off, it is not unlikely that the DOJ IG, Michael Horowitz, expanded the scope of his investigation. If Robert Mueller can investigate financial transactions from a dozen years ago as part of looking at Russian collusion in 2016, Horowitz looking at FBI surveillance of the Trump campaign would be a non-issue, particularly since Horowitz is the guy who uncovered the Page-Strzok texts as part of his investigation. Based on what we’ve seen to date, there doesn’t seem to be much doubt that Brennan, Clapper, and Comey were working in concert to push the collusion narrative. Is that criminal? I don’t know.

The bottom line here is do you think Joe diGenova was using hyperbole to entertain and build his value to Fox News as a contributor? Or was he using information he’d gathered from contacts, and contacts are something diGenova has in abundance, so he can say, “I told you so” when it actually happens.

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Showdown: Donald Trump Lays It Out for Kim Jong-Un

On Thursday, President Donald Trump let Kim Jong-un know what’s what.

As the much-hailed June 12th Singapore summit has drawn near, the historic meeting has looked to be on shaky ground. Most notably, Wednesday, North Korea senior diplomat Kim Kye Gwan stuck out his nuclearized chest:

“If the U.S. is trying to drive us into a corner to force our unilateral nuclear abandonment, we will no longer be interested.”

Later that day, Trump conveyed a “We’ll wait and see what happens” attitude from the Oval Office.

Thursday, the President took a firmer position.

Trump vowed if North Korea abandons its nuclear program, the East Asian country will receive “protections that will be very strong.”

However, if Kim Jong-un refuses:

“[The Libyan] model would take place if we don’t make a deal. … The Libyan model isn’t the model we have at all. In Libya, we decimated that country. There was no deal to keep Gadhafi.”

For those who don’t recall, Moammar Gadhafi gave up his nuclear program in the 2000’s. In October of 2011, his own people rose up, beating and shooting him to death and then dragging his dead body through the streets.

Oh — and let’s not forget this:

By contrast, the President asserted he is “willing to do a lot” in order to protect Kim Jong-un as part of the agreement. “The best thing he could do is make a deal,” Trump explained.

Kim Jong-un doesn’t seem like the deal-making type. And Donald Trump — a self-professed dealmaking maestro — doesn’t appear prone to back down.

Furthermore, North Korea suddenly canceled its meeting with the South due to joint military exercises by the U.S. and South Korea. The annual drills — known as Max Thunder — had been long-scheduled and are necessary to keep ready U.S. and South Korean armed forces, according to a Pentagon spokesperson.

Trump guaranteed Thursday the June meeting will not include discussion of the number of troops the U.S. has in South Korea.

Well…

This is quite the showdown. Who has the upper hand? Who thinks they have the advantage?

Donald Trump is self-assured, to a point that could lean toward overconfidence. Kim Jong-un is the dictator of a nation, and not known for backing down.

However, some have theorized North Korea’s botched nuclear tests were rigged to fail: they served the purpose of posturing to Kim’s citizens while not inciting attacks from fearful international neighbors. As all-powerful as he is within the confines of his country, perhaps he is more of a realist than he appears.

As Donald Trump said Wednesday, “We’ll see. Time will tell.”

In the meantime, check out my article on North Korea for more of the Wednesday backstory.

 

And if you like the Star Wars video, take a look at my piece on Solo: a Star Wars Story.

 

 

Do yourself — oh, who am I kidding….do me — a favor, and follow me on Twitter.

 

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Ladies at ‘The View’ Were Surprised to Learn This From Bret Baier

On Thursday, Bret Baier entered enemy territory at The View.

“Enemy” because of his conservatism and their liberalism? No. Rather, because the women at The View regularly characterize Fox News as…

The anchor guested in order to promote Three Days in Moscow, his new book about Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev. During his time in the lion’s den, the girls asked him about being part of the President’s in-the-pocket network, as well as a favorite topic lately for the roundtable cluckers: a White House aide’s recent insult of John McCain.

On May 10th, Kelly Sadler dismissed McCain’s opposition to Gina Haspel as CIA Director because “he’s dying anyway.” The White House hasn’t offered an official apology, so the liberal ladies inquired as to whether Bret thought Team Trump was in error. Whoopi Goldberg posed, as if by nature of his position at Fox, perhaps Baier was a spokesperson for the President:

“We have lots of young people who watch your network who are taking a page out of that book. Does it bother you that we can’t seem to just say, ‘I’m sorry, I made a mistake?’”

“Yes,” Bret replied, simultaneously explaining he didn’t work for Trump, “and I cover all of this. If you watch my show, you know, some of the loudest critics of Fox don’t watch my show. We’re on the news side and there’s an opinion side.”

Virulently anti-Trump Joy Behar asked if it’s a “dangerous time for the news.” Oh, and also:

“If Trump keeps lying — he’s up to nine a day…his base doesn’t know what is the truth and what isn’t the truth.”

Nice. In other words, his base is stoopid.

Brett explained the situation to Behar:

“From their point of view, they say the Resistance is going over the top and lying about X, Y, and Z, so you have to call facts facts, and I agree with you.”

Of course, part of that Resistance is The View.

Sunny Hostin, a former legal analyst for CNN, asked:

“People do see Fox News as the administration’s mouthpiece. I don’t know if it helped that it’s been reported that your colleague Sean Hannity talks to the president nightly before bed, about the day’s musings. Do you think that’s appropriate? I understand Sean is on the opinion side of the network. But as a representative of the network, that Sean is, is that appropriate?”

Hostin, it would seem, should liken Fox’s relationship with Trump to CNN’s relationship with Obama. Somehow, she failed to do so.

Baier attempted again an explanation of the difference between opinion and news at his network:

“First of all, the network overall is not a mouthpiece. There may be opinion shows that have a direct relationship with the President, and Sean is not calling me and giving me a download of the call.”

Bret Baier on The View isn’t the most comfortable thing in the world to watch. Surely it was no less cringeworthy for him. He was swimming with sharks, but thanks to his professionalism, he held tight to the chainsaw of kept coolness:

 

 

 

Check out my coverage of how MSNBC handled Kelly Sadler’s John McCain comment.

For more madness on The View, here’s my article from last week.

 

And, as always, follow Alex Parker on Twitter.

 

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The Media’s Week of Lies Reinforces Every Criticism They Receive

 

There have been several banner weeks of media dishonesty under President Trump but I can confidently say that nothing compares to what we’ve seen in the last seven days.

We are well past the point of writing off the hysterical lies being posited as simply mistakes. They are clearly not mistakes. They are deliberate and given that, it’s time to start asking what exactly it means for our predisposition towards many of these outlets.

Before we get there though, let’s start with what’s transpired in mainstream reporting this week.

It began with the opening of the US Embassy in Jerusalem. Despite this move being mandated by US law as far back as 1995 and despite the fact that Israel gets to choose it’s own capital,  this was of course spun as the worst thing since Trump took two scoops instead of one at the White House.

Cable news stations paraded “expert” after expert to tell us exactly how bad this move was, because when needing advice on good foreign policy, running to Obama administration failures like John Brennan, Ben Rhodes, and James Clapper makes perfect sense to CNN.

In response to the embassy move, terror organization Hamas stoked riots in the Gaza strip. In these riots they used human shields, women and children alike, to protect terrorists who were trying to breach the border and kill Israeli’s. In a show of amazing restraint, Israel managed to only kill 62 people and of those, 50 were Hamas members.

Was Hamas hiding this motive and claiming they were only peacefully protesting? No, they weren’t.

Think about this. Not even Hamas and it’s members are willing to lie so brazenly as to describe these riots as peaceful, unarmed protests.

Media’s response? Hold my beer.

Aside from the outright lies about the rioters being unarmed, the media also chose to run headline after headline asserting that Israel was indiscriminately killing “protestors” and juxtaposing their celebrations with pictures of the violence going on in the Gaza riots.

In truth, Israel was protecting against an invasion attempt, complete with grenades, AKs, molotov cocktails, and “terror kites.” To the media though, it’s somehow Ivanka Trump’s fault that Hamas is a violent terrorist organization that sacrifices it’s people to garner friendly coverage.

The disconnect from reality here is stunning. To see our press so deliberately mislead and lie in order to propagate Hamas propaganda, which even Hamas is willing to admit isn’t true, is disturbing.

That leads us to the second incident this week of the media showing exactly how awful they are.

President Trump held a roundtable on sanctuary city policies with local officials and law enforcement at the White House.

At one point, a Sheriff asked Trump about MS-13 and being able to turn them over to ICE, expressing frustration at the process. In response, Trump described MS-13 members as “animals.”

The context was never in doubt (full transcript is at the above link). A fifth grader would of had no problem understanding exactly who the President was talking about when he said animals.

After days of lying about Israel and Hamas, would the media back off a little and make sure they got this story right?

Of course not.

I’ll forgo posting all of them, but tweets from C-Span, The Hill, CNN, and The Washington Post also pushed this objectively untrue narrative.

“Conservative” WaPo writer Jennifer Rubin, who would defend Al Qaeda if it meant she could slap at Trump, had to chime in as well.

These hot takes aren’t just lacking context. They are outright falsehoods about what was said.

You’d think after the first 24 hours, most in the media would recognize they’ve stepped in it and would at least just stop talking about it in lieu of admitting fault. You’d be wrong. Many doubled down by actually defending the humanity of MS-13, the most violent, inhuman street gang in the world.

You read those right. We moved right past the “Trump called poor immigrants animals!” false takes to “well, MS-13 are humans too!”

If this were written by The Onion, what would they of written differently? Perhaps even more parodical is that both Smith and Harwood have previously described people as animals in past tweets.

CNN’s Ann Navarro also fell into this trap in her rush to bash Trump.

At the beginning of this article I asserted that we need to examine our predisposition toward the mainstream media given their behavior. I’ll do that by making a controversial statement.

These organizations no longer deserve the consistent benefit of the doubt given to them about their importance to our society.

I can hear the gasps of inhaled air from here but before you assume my point, hear it out.

Am I saying that the government should shut these institutions down or that the 1st Amendment isn’t important? Nope. CNN, MSNBC, NYTs, WaPo, et al should be able to say and report whatever they want without government interference.

Nothing I’m saying should be construed as being hostile to freedom of the press. Entertain this thought though.

Freedom of the press is not synonymous with CNN. The 1st Amendment is not formally ensconced as The Washington Post. These institutions can and should always be allowed to operate under the protections of the 1st Amendment, but the existence of certain specific outlets is not a cornerstone of freedom in this country.

Let’s get to the meat of the argument here. My assertion is not that they should be put out of business. It’s not that they should be shut down. It’s not that we should boycott them.

No, it’s simply that conservatives owe no loyalty to these people nor do we need to assert they are inherently more valuable than other outlets.

I no longer care if the NYTs exists or not. I do not think the Republic’s fate hangs in the balance on CNN’s ability to put out biased, garbage cable programming. If MSNBC stopped airing tomorrow, someone would take their place. Freedom of the press would live on.

In fact, I’d posit that the investigative reporting from right leaning sites like Daily Caller has been far more valuable lately than the toxic, one note nonsense constantly being put out by many traditional news divisions. While cable news networks are interviewing Michael Avenatti for the 157th time in ten weeks, there’s real journalism going on out there uncovering things that truly matter.

Too often, that reporting remains in the background while legacy outlets pretend they are the gatekeepers of  “real” news. As conservatives, it’s time to stop letting them hold that role. We no longer need to preface criticisms of mainstream outlets by asserting they still hold higher value than our own institutions. They don’t.

Why should CNN’s reporter have anymore of a right to a front seat and a question at a press briefing than any other reporter? Why should I care at this point if someone calls MSNBC “fake news?” What have any of these outlets done to deserve my defense except lie, mislead, and spit in the faces of half the population?

I understand the wants of many conservatives to uphold normalcy. What’s happened over the last two years of consistent false stories, bias, and activism from our legacy media is not normal. It’s dangerous, divisive, and wrong. It’s time to start holding them accountable. The first step in that is no longer assigning them the perch they claim to sit on.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Water Cooler 5/18 Open Thread – Nashville; Bin there, done that

Hello RedStaters, annnddd, Thank God it’s Friday!  Welcome to the Water Cooler, always an Open Thread.

Nashville (Spicing Up Biz Travel)

I just got back from a 3-day trip to Nashville TN (oh, there’s a few of you out there!  I could hear the cheering through the internet).  I was not excited about going.  Since I would be working, and the event was in the same venue as the accommodations, I would be beaming in and out, not really seeing the place.   A solution: I searched for “rental bike” in Nashville, and found they have one of the automated rental systems that are being installed in more and more cities around the world.  I did some quick research for bike-friendly routes and was ready to go.  After I finished working day two, I changed clothes and uber’ed my way 2 miles to the rental kiosk, paid $5 for a 24-hour pass, and headed out.  Followed “Greenway” trails out east along the Cumberland and Stone rivers, swung back west through East Nashville and then into Nashville proper.

The bright red circuit shows the route that I enjoyed around both urban and open space/nature on this Nashville visit.

Saw nature, the local trees, birds, and water; locals out walking; the city skyline, music-themed bars and restaurants, etc.  Many hours later I dropped the bike off at a different kiosk by Nissan Stadium (go Tennessee Titans!!) after watching the fireworks display at “WAY too close” range.  A quick and easy uber and I was back to my conference venue.

The bike is a perfect pace – covers much more ground than running, and unlike a car/taxi, it’s easy to stop wherever and whenever (for that selfie with a wax Johnny Cash, the brass Jack Daniels statue, or the confluence of the two local rivers.  Now I feel like I’ve seen the place and have an appreciation for it, and I got some exercise versus following the crowd to the bars.  I will look to replicate this experience on future trips.

An Airline Boarding Solution 

My usual for air travel is a window seat, not over the wing, and not looking into the sun – since I’m a WingNut! this optimizes the viewing (not restroom access).  I haven’t figured out how to have a suit arrive in usable condition with everything else if I don’t check a bag, so I check one and have a laptop bag I can and do keep under the seat in front of me.  But many people bring a “carry on” that you could pack your bedroom into, and then the boarding process includes sparring between passengers as they inevitably discover that there is too much baggage for the overhead bins.  And I observe that airlines load the premium passengers in front first so that the bin space is not taken by the masses that fill the rest of the plane.  Airlines – a solution for you: Let non-bin-using window people/groups (and middle-middle people on the widebodies) on the plane first.  You can announce it just like that!  “We are now boarding class ‘cattle window and middle-middle’ who will use underseat storage ONLY.  We MOOOOve our way in and sit down.  Nobody has to get up to get out of our way (which blocks the aisle), and we won’t use up your precious bin space.  Then do your normal drill.  You will have a lot less aisle clogging going on.  And, you might even encourage more people to check a bag instead of trying to force a piano crate into an over-committed overhead bin.  Just a thought.

Gratitude

Do you have it?  Can you share it?  Everybody who is in a position to read this article has so much to be thankful for.  Be thankful and spread some love around!!

Cheers, and Peace Out!

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BREAKING: Deranged Gunman Ranting About Trump Shot While Shooting Up Trump National Doral Golf Club

A man ranting about President Donald Trump and holding a large American flag walked into the lobby of Trump National Doral Golf Club in Miami at about 1:30 Friday morning, laid the flag down on the main counter and began shooting.

The Miami Herald reports, the man — who was not a guest at the resort — then waited in the lobby for police to arrive before luring several Doral police officers and one Miami-Dade Officer into a gunfight.  During the gunfight  the gunman was struck several times in the lower body. No workers at the resort or patrons were injured. A Doral Police officer hurt his wrist.

Doral Police Chief Hernan Organvidez told WSVN his officers, responded and confronted the gunman immediately upon arrival and exchanged gunfire with him.

The Gunman is now in a hospital.

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement, the Secret Service, Homeland Security and the FBI will investigate the incident.

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Trump Going After Planned Parenthood Says Way More About Republicans In Congress Than It Does About Him

President Donald Trump speaks during a news conference with Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg in the East Room of the White House, Wednesday, Jan. 10, 2018, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)


Back in August of 2015, Donald Trump granted an interview to the New York Times, and among other topics to come up was the defund Planned Parenthood movement growing amongst conservatives.

His responses was, at the time, a warning flare for conservatives.

Trump: I would look at the individual things that they do, and maybe some of the things are good, and maybe, I know a lot of the things are bad. But certainly the abortion aspect of it should not be funded by government, absolutely.

CNN: So you would take a look at it before you’d defund it. That’s what’s being asked right now. Many in your party are doing the opposite. They’re saying defund it, and then look at it. You’re saying look at it first.

Trump: I would look at the good aspects of it. I’m sure they do some things properly and good and good for women. And I would look at that.

Even the devout, like Laura Ingraham, were alarmed.

It was just one of many things that made us at RedState at best hesitant and at worst repulsed by the idea of Trump as our nominee, much less our President.

However, deep in the back of our minds, we also knew something else: Even with the White House AND the House AND the Senate, the Republican Party would never go along with the idea of defunding Planned Parenthood. They had done everything in their power to avoid doing so up to that point, and in the months and years since have continued to do nothing.

They wouldn’t even pretend with symbolic votes.

Here we are in 2018, though, and Donald Trump actually looks like he’s taking the steps to begin the process after all. This bit of news also comes from the New York Times:

WASHINGTON — Clinics that provide abortions or even discuss the procedure with their patients would lose federal funding under a new Trump administration rule that takes direct aim at Planned Parenthood, according to two White House officials and other people briefed on the matter.

The rule, which is to be announced Friday, is a top priority of social conservatives and is the latest move by President Trump to impose curbs on abortion rights, in this case by withholding money from any facility that even raises the possibility of an abortion with patients.

The policy would be a return to one instituted in 1988 by President Ronald Reagan that required abortion services to have a “physical separation” and “separate personnel” from other family planning activities. It is often described as a domestic gag rule because it would also bar caregivers at facilities that receive family planning funds from providing any information to patients about an abortion or where to receive one.

Federal family planning laws already bar direct funding of organizations that use abortion as a family planning method. But conservative activists and Republican lawmakers have been pressing Alex M. Azar II, the secretary of health and human services, to tighten the rules still further so that abortions could not occur — or be performed by the same staff — at locations that receive Title X federal family planning money.

And, while it is good to see we’re moving in the right direction, I have to admit that I don’t see this rule doing anything but stirring up a string of court debates that will end at the Supreme Court, if it survives that long.

What is interesting, however, is that there are states – California, in particular, comes to mind – that do the same thing in reverse. They withhold state money from religious family planning providers if they don’t mention abortion to their patients. Because, in places like California, a religion that sacrifices children for the glory of the State shall not have competitors who insist all life is sacred.

Abortion will be the hill Democrats choose to die on, and it’s a hill that Republicans are afraid to approach. That’s why this move from the Trump Administration, good though it may be, only serves in my mind to further shine a light on the cowardice of the Congressional GOP.

Say what you want about Trump, and Lord knows I have, the fact is he is doing this not because it’s his personal wish to do so, but because it’s what his voters want. Right or wrong, he is doing one of the things conservative voters in 2016 elected him to do. Since his inauguration, a Republican President has yet to receive a bill that has gone through the Republican House and the Republican Senate saying “Planned Parenthood gets no more federal funding.”

They have, despite years of yelling about Barack Obama’s executive actions, petitioned Trump’s Secretary of Health and Human Services to take executive action because they are simply too scared to do anything meaningful.

Now, when this rule gets challenged and beaten in the courts, which I suspect it will (at the lower levels), two things should happen. The first is that the states who impose the abortion mandate on religious providers should just copy word-for-word Planned Parenthood’s argument and submit that to state courts. The second is that the GOP should be ready with a bill that legally and Constitutionally does what Trump is trying to do here.

If the second one doesn’t happen, then it’s time for the GOP to go ahead and take that “Pro-Life” thing out of its platform, because they clearly don’t mean it.

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‘Star Wars’ Spoiler of Another Kind: Lando Is/Might be Gay

Oh, boy. Here we go…

In 1976, George Lucas released his monstrous creation Star Wars, which grew into a multibillion-dollar love affair for (mostly) boys of the 70’s and 80’s and, in many cases, their sons..

However, since purchasing Lucasfilm — the studio which owns the mammoth movie franchise — Disney hasn’t been content to leave it alone. Instead of letting the world of galactic heroes and villains flourish as imagined by Lucas, the Mouse has applied its sociopolitical agenda, immediately canonizing the series’ first gay character, then choosing two girls (Rey, The Force Awakens; Jyn Erso, Rogue One) and a woman (Vice Admiral Amilyn, The Last Jedi) to lead the rebellion in two different story threads, followed by co-writers of Rogue One characterizing the fight against the Empire as a battle of women of color against white supremacy. And now…

Gay Lando.

Remember Lando? Han’s “old friend?” That cool guy from the malt liquor commercials? With the cape? Back in 1980? Well, you didn’t know it, but he was a Friend of Dorothy.

According to a HuffPost write-up on the soon-to-open Solo: A Star Wars Story, which spins the origin tale of the Republic’s favorite bad boy:

“Lando’s sexual preferences ― possibly including men, women and droids ― are the subject of more than a few lines of dialogue in Solo.”

Just let it settle.

I’ll wait…

Ready?

Okay:

The article goes on to say:

“For example, the banter between Lando and Han Solo has been interpreted as flirting by some critics who have seen the film before its May 25 release.”

And then there’s this:

“Even Lando’s droid L3-37…makes a joke about Calrissian’s teasing dynamic with Han in the film.”

And:

“Lando might have romantic feelings for his droid too.”

And perhaps most importantly:

“So, given the opportunity to speak with father-and-son Solo co-writers Lawrence and Jonathan Kasdan, I asked them about Lando’s possible sexual fluidity. Is he pansexual?

“’I would say yes,’ Jonathan Kasdan emphatically said.

“’There’s a fluidity to Donald and Billy Dee’s [portrayal of Lando’s] sexuality,’ Kasdan continued. ‘I mean, I would have loved to have gotten a more explicitly LGBT character into this movie. I think it’s time, certainly, for that, and I love the fluidity ― sort of the spectrum of sexuality that Donald appeals to and that droids are a part of.’”

I doubt that’s what Billy Dee Williams was going for. He doesn’t seem like that kind of guy–

Of course, HuffPost doesn’t flinch. In fact, it claims:

“Some fans are rooting for a relationship between Finn (John Boyega) and Poe (Oscar Isaac) — a Force Awakens and Last Jedi ship lovingly dubbed FinnPoe — but that pairing looks less likely after the most recent movie.”

Hmmm…define “some.”

Regardless, you can judge for yourself May 25th. Unless you decide to sit this one out. But whether you put on your popcorn-eatin’ shoes or stay home and watch Still Breathing on Hulu Plus (an activity I heartily endorse), in a cineplex not so far, far away, on the fourth weekend in May, moviegoers will be sitting on the edge of their seats as the screen flickers with an absolutely preposter–

oh, wait — maybe it isn’t so far fetched at all…

 

 

For another great piece on Hollywood and its political activism, go to this article about Amy Schumer. It’s absolutely what you want to do. (Jedi mind trick)

 

PLEASE follow Alex Parker on Twitter.

 

 

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President Trump to North Korea: There Are Two Libyan Models for Denuclearization Available, Pick One


After a months long honeymoon in which North Korea was on its best behavior, it is going back to the pattern it likes best. Conflict.

Two days ago, shortly after the North Koreans announced they would allow foreign media into the DPRK to witness the destruction of their nuclear test site, the North Korean news agency said the United States needed to mind its manners or the meeting between Kim Jong Un and President Trump was off. At the same time, it abruptly cancelled a high level meeting scheduled with South Korea for yesterday. Today, the North Koreans were bitching about a military exercise that just a couple of weeks ago they were fine with.

This afternoon, President Trump sent a stark message.

“The Libya model isn’t the model that we have at all when we’re thinking of North Korea,” Trump said. “In Libya, we decimated that country.”

By contrast, Trump added, a deal with North Korea “would be with Kim Jong Un, something where he’d be there, he’d be in his country, he’d be running his country, his country would be very rich, his country would be very industrious.”

“Nothing has changed on North Korea that we know of,” the president said. “We have not been told anything.”

White House aides rejected suggestions from reporters that Kim is in the driver’s seat. Sanders emphasized that it was Kim who extended an invitation to Trump for a meeting, which the president accepted in March. She added that if North Korea cancels the summit, the administration will continue with its “maximum pressure” policy that has relied on economic sanctions and diplomatic isolation of Pyongyang.

But analysts have said that the policy is faltering amid Kim’s diplomatic outreach to South Korea and China. South Korean President Moon Jae-in, who met with Kim last month in the demilitarized zone dividing the countries, is scheduled to meet with Trump at the White House on Tuesday.

“If the meeting happens, it happens,” Trump said of his summit with Kim. “If it doesn’t, we’ll go on to the next step.”

The Vichy lobby went batsh** crazy. It was glorious.

This guy is a f***ing idiot. The idea that the Washington Post is going to do spin for Trump is so ridiculous that if defies description.

And then you have this crap.

Kim is not in the position to make demands. He’s in the position of trying to survive. He is not playing multi-dimensional chess–sorry, not all Asian leaders are super-villains, I know that is a shock–he is trying to get out from under a sanctions regime that is increasingly effective. Kim needs the deal because if he walks away from the deal, sanctions are just going to get tighter. But to get a deal and survive he has to look to the ruling clique in North Korea like he is calling the shots, not like an errand boy.

And I think there is a lot of truth here, though I think it matters less what Kim thinks about it than what Trump and Bolton and Pompeo think about it.

Via Politico:

The meeting was set for June 12 in Singapore, but on Wednesday, Kim Kye Gwan, North Korea’s first vice foreign minister, issued a statement through the state-run Central News Agency criticizing White House national security adviser John Bolton.

He said Trump “will be recorded as more tragic and unsuccessful president than his predecessors, far from his initial ambition to make unprecedented success” if his diplomacy toward Kim mirrors that of previous commanders in chief.

Earlier on Wednesday, Seoul-based media outlet Yonhap News Agency reported the North had abruptly canceled a high-level meeting with South Korea and was considering withdrawing from Kim’s summit with Trump because of ongoing military exercises.

“The president is prepared and will be ready to meet, and we’re continuing to move forward with the preparations at this point. And if the North Koreans want to meet, we’ll be there,” White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Thursday.

“The president, as we’ve said all along, will be prepared and ready to meet, and there’s really not a lot to add beyond that point,” Sanders said. “We’re continuing in the maximum pressure campaign, but again, nothing has changed on our end. This was an invitation that North Korea offered and that we’ve accepted, and we’re continuing to move forward in those preparations.”

What you’re seeing here is not hard to understand. This isn’t top level strategy. This is Negotiations 101. Trump has made it clear from the first signs of a thaw with North Korea that he was willing to walk away if he didn’t get what he perceives as a good deal. And he can. If there is no deal then we are back to where we were with no lost ground. If he makes a bad deal he will be crucified by everyone. And a bad deal will be anything that looks, smells, or tastes like the Iran deal.

Trump also knows that he can’t go into the talks looking week. South Korea’s Moon is so invested in a deal, any deal, that he will give away anything to make it happen. That’s why he’s becoming Kim’s bitch. The North Koreans talked smack and now Trump is just returning the favor.

The bottom line is that he knows, from experience, that you never go into any negotiation unless you are willing to walk away. If he allowed the North Koreans to look like they are in charge, then they have no reason to make any concessions. If Trump acts like he’d rather be playing golf than talking to Kim, then the dynamic changes.

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