Thomas Morton joined a group of born again Christians as they toured the Holy Land and found out the real reason why they support Israel. This is the episode from Season 2 of VICE on HBO.
NBC News and the Wall Street Journal polled his job approval. There was no appreciable change.
.. Why? The most important reason has to be the remarkable state of the American economy. On Election Day 2016, the Dow Jones Industrial Average closed at 18,332.43. On August 29, it closed at 26,124.57. That is an increase of some 40 percent. Other indices show similar gains. Growth in GDP went from 1.5 percent in 2016 to 2.3 percent in 2017 and, helped by the excellent 4.2 percent number in the second quarter, is forecast for around 3 percent in 2018.
.. The fact that presidents are not responsible for the economy does not stop the public from assigning them blame or credit. And Trump deserves some credit. His pro-business attitude stirs the bulls’ animal spirits. His deregulatory and tax policies contribute to growth. Trump understands that he is riding the bull — and that his following will be strong for the duration of the journey... The economic boom is crucial in understanding why Trump enjoys the 88 percent approval among Republicans that keeps him politically viable... Trump continues to goad, highlight, and benefit from an antagonistic news media. The overwhelmingly negative coverage of Trump paradoxically works to his advantage by driving his supporters to rally to his side. When the press gets a story wrong, Trump is vindicated. His voters have less reason to trust the elite media institutions they see as allied against them in a struggle over American identity... Media obsession with Trump and scandal helps the president in other ways. For one, the scandals are confusing and increasingly self-referential. Only political professionals and junkies can keep track of them. The headlines run together. The talking heads are background noise to men and women outside the bubble... The media fixation hands Trump the initiative. Because so much of the news is based on his Twitter feed, he can create storylines — and spark confusion and outrage — with the push of a button. This ability lets him shift attention from current controversies by creating fresh ones. The ongoing hysteria lessens the cost to Trump of each bad story. It also allows him to portray media institutions and figures as insiders contemptuous of Trump voters and eager to overturn the result of a presidential election.
Democrats — and most Republicans for that matter — have yet to grasp the ideas of political economy that Trump intuits: government that privileges American citizens through
- tight labor markets,
- border security,
- trade reciprocity, and
.. Nor do Democrats understand that American populism is not simply economic. It is cultural. It has long been associated with traditional values and practices, an unreconstructed patriotism, and support for law and order. No matter how well Democratic proposals might test, the party will not succeed at the national level unless it addresses and mollifies the social concerns of the white working class. Pelosi, Schumer, and Sanders have not tried.
It is hard to spend a week in Israel and not come away feeling that Israelis have the wind at their backs.
- They’ve built an awesome high-tech industry
- Regionally, the Arabs and Palestinians have never been weaker
- Israel has never had a more unquestioningly friendly United States.
- Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, asking Israel for nothing in return. The Arab states barely made a peep.
this wind has whetted the appetite of Israel’s settlers and ruling Likud Party to go to extremes
.. the “Likud Party unanimously urged legislators in a nonbinding resolution … to effectively annex Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank, land that Palestinians want for a future state.”
.. Sure, the world would scream “apartheid,” but Israeli rightists shrug that the world will get used to it.
- Nikki Haley will cover for Israel at the U.N.
- Sheldon Adelson will keep Trump and the G.O.P. in line.
- And the Arab regimes, which need Israel to counter Iran, will look the other away.
They think they can annex the West Bank without giving Palestinians citizenship; they’ll just let the Palestinians vote in their own elections.
.. May 17, 1983 .. Israel (backed by the U.S.) imposed virtually all its security demands on a weak Lebanese government, including a framework for normalizing trade and diplomacy.
.. “Going All The Way: Christian Warlords, Israeli Adventurers and the War in Lebanon.”
I always loved that title — going all the way. It’s a recurring theme out here, and it almost always ends with a “Thelma and Louise” moment — partners driving over a cliff — and so it did with Israel in 1983.
.. everywhere I look today I see people going all the way.
- I see Republicans trashing two of our most sacred institutions — the F.B.I. and the Justice Department — because these agencies won’t bend to Trump’s will.
- I see Iran controlling four Arab capitals: Damascus, Sana, Baghdad and Beirut.
- I see Hamas still more interested in building tunnels in Gaza to kill Israelis than schools to strengthen Palestinian society.
- I see the crown prince of Saudi Arabia with one hand undertaking hugely important steps —
- moderating Saudi Islam,
- letting women drive and
- opening Saudi society culturally to the world
- and, with the other hand,
- abducting the prime minister of Lebanon,
- buying ridiculously expensive paintings and
- seizing businesses in the name of combating corruption
- I see the Taliban killing 103 people in Kabul by packing an ambulancewith explosives and driving it into a crowd.
I see Houthis, Yemeni warlords, Iranians, Saudis and the U.A.E. all tearing Yemen apart in the name of God knows what.
I see Turkey’s president silencing every critical journalist in his country.
I see the Egyptian and Russian presidents eliminating all serious rivals in their upcoming elections.
I see Bibi Netanyahu trying to derail a corruption investigation by weakening Israel’s justice system, free media and civil society — just like Trump and for the same purposes: to weaken constraints on his arbitrary use of political power.
I see an American president threatening to tear up, or actually tearing up, global agreements he doesn’t like —
the Iran nuclear deal,
the Trans-Pacific Partnership,
the Paris climate accord and
aid to Palestinians and Pakistanis —
but without any clear plan or alternative for the morning after that will improve on the status quo.
Worst of all, I see an America — the world’s strongest guardian of truth, science and democratic norms — now led by a serial liar and norms destroyer, giving license to everyone else to ask, why can’t I?
Can anything stop this epidemic of going all the way? Yes: Mother Nature, human nature and markets. They’ll all push back when no one else will.
.. How so?
Gaza has limited hours of electricity each day.
Result: Gaza’s already inadequate sewage plants are often offline, and waste goes untreated straight into the Mediterranean.
Then the prevailing current washes Gaza’s poop north, where it clogs Israel’s big desalination plant in Ashkelon — which provides 15 percent of Israel’s drinking water
.. In both 2016 and 2017, the Ashkelon plant had to close to clean Gaza’s crud out of its filters. It’s Mother Nature’s way of reminding both that if they try to go all the way, if they shun a healthy interdependence, she’ll poison them both.
.. then out of nowhere Iranians back home start protesting against Suleimani’s overreach; they’re tired of seeing their money spent on Gaza and Syria — not on Iranians. And, just as suddenly, the biggest internet meme in Iran becomes an Iranian woman ripping off her veil and holding it upon the end of a stick.
.. And if you don’t think markets have a way of curing excesses, you didn’t read the top story in The Times.
.. Watch out for
- the market,
- Mother Nature and
- human nature.
.. One is the relentless product of chemistry, biology and physics; one is the balance between greed and fear; and the third is the eternal human quest for freedom and dignity. In the end, they’ll shape the future more than any leader or party who tries going all the way.