Monday, February 12, 2018

Support Animals, The "Blackmail" Danger and True Support of Israel

Emotional Support Animals

There have been a rash of articles lately about the problems airlines are having in dealing with the bringing aboard of “emotional support animals” onto their planes.  See the attached article by George Will which deals with this subject. CLICK HERE TO READ IT. I suspect that the legislation (Air Carrier Access Act of 1986) allowing this practice was intended to provide for animals such as seeing-eye dogs onto planes.  I doubt that it was intended to allow a person who panicked when alone to bring along whatever pet he or she wanted to keep them company. 

The problem really lies with the physicians who sign off on whatever paperwork is required to allow a lonely passenger to purchase an adjacent seat for their peacock, raccoon or aardvark.  "Just give it to me to sign and it'll be okay because I am a doctor and I can say you need your tortoise sitting next to you on the flight for emotional support."

Physicians who do this are only a small step above those whose prescribing of unreasonably generous numbers of painkillers to their patients has contributed to the “opoid crisis” the nation faces.  
Jack Lippman

An  Intelligence ToolBlackmail

Is there is a department in the Russian intelligence apparatus scanning newspaper libraries and available public records to see which public officials have undisclosed histories of wife beating, sexual harassment or other events, including unsavory business connections, they would rather keep unmentioned?  You bet there is.  All this is easier via computers than it was back in the days when individual legwork and eyeballing a lot of paperwork were required. 

Once latching on to such a morsel of juicy information, the Russians can very indirectly and circuitously contact the individual and suggest that they will keep their little secret about him or her hidden, but of course, they would occasionally like a little cooperation in regard to whatever sensitive information the official might come across in doing their job.  At first, this might be a minor, seemingly innocuous request for relatively unimportant information, but once the tool of blackmail thusly enters the picture, the degree of importance of the information demanded by the Russians will increase.

This is why the presence of people without appropriate security clearances in important government jobs should not be tolerated.  Certainly, our FBI can come up with the same sort of information the blackmailers use. The White House’s “firing” of Rob Porter and David Sorenson indicates that someone there (certainly not the President) understands this.  Better late than never, but failing to do so with 

                                                            Porter and Sorenson
knowledge in hand of these situations makes the White House complicit in opening up possible Russian access to important information.  Jared Kushner, who still hasn't been able to be upgraded from his "temporary" security clearance, MUST be the next one to go.

I know a bit about security clearances. Over 60 years ago I had a fairly high one.  I recall a co-worker who was  transferred out of his relatively sensitive job when it was  determined that his parents, whom he had thought were born in the United States were actually foreign-born and were brought to this country as infants from what was then Czarist Russia.   That was enough of a connection, in those Cold War days, to make him a possible victim of blackmail, as he might still have had relatives somewhere in the Soviet Union. Understand, Mr. President?

Supporting and Criticizing Israel

That great friend of Israel, Donald Trump, who in pandering to the Jewish part of his right-wing voter base authorized moving the American Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, doesn’t know what he is doing most of the time.  The Embassy move served to delay reaching an Israeli-Palestinian solution by years becaue it alienated Palestinians, Arabs and Muslims there and throughout the world. Dumb, dumb, dumb!

Now, Trump has suddenly questioned Israel's interest in making peace with the Palestinians!  With the Embassy move dampening, at least for the time being, any Palestinian desire to reach an agreement, the Donald suddenly puts part of the blame for it on the Israelis!  Quoting from an interview in the rightward-leaning Israeli free daily paper, Hayom, he said that “I am not necessarily sure that Israel is looking to make peace.” I take that as a comment critcal of Israel.  Others might not.

Trump’s Jewish supporters in this country and in Israel, as I read them, are primarily those who do not want a two-state solution and want an Israel with its ancient biblical borders. (I wonder if that is the preferred position of Hayom’s principal backer, casino magnate Saul Adelson.) So, the President’s quote might be an accurate and desirable one insofar as their opinions are concerned. 

If, however, he is actually looking for a way for Israel “to make peace,” he should be for a two-state solution, which his supporters are not for, and which his friend, Bibi Netanyahu is against as well until that time when there is a reasonable Palestinian presence with which to negotiate.  This is a situation which is far too complicated for the man in our White House to understand and his ham-handed involvement in it is an embarrassment to this country.  

This is not to say that Israel’s current positive response to potential Syrian and Iranian threats to its citizenry is wrong.  It has nothing whatsoever to do with a one or two state solution, but addresses the dire threats Iran has made against the State of Israel.  It is legal, correct and necessary, and this is what the President should be giving his full supprt to, and not getting into political commentary about a subject about which he knows next to nothing.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, center, is briefed on the escalation on the northern border along with IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot, left and Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman, right, on February 10, 2018. (Ariel Hermoni/Defense Ministry)


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