Today, President Trump had what a majority of Americans would consider to be a successful foreign policy day. His tone when speaking about terrorism to the core of the Muslim world in the Middle East was generally approved; the left liked that he didn’t go off the rails and the right witnessed a breath of fresh air after eight years of failure to even acknowledge the problem.

Not everyone was excited by his message, but conservatives should be able to agree that he sounded exponentially better than President Obama. He didn’t call it “radical Islamic terrorism” but he wasn’t making excuses for them, either. Most importantly, he urged Muslim countries themselves to take the lead on expelling and extinguishing the threat; there were no Neocon or Establishment hawk leanings towards police action by America.

Now, his and the world’s attentions turn to Israel where he has the greatest foreign policy opportunity as well as the biggest potential letdown for those of us who consider Israel to be our most important strategic ally. His trip to the Jewish state will set in motion his agenda in the Middle East. After success in Saudi Arabia, any failure from a diplomatic perspective will be magnified. There are already people on the right attacking his implicit support for Saudi Arabia’s most heinous activities. If he doesn’t follow that up with an equally strong (or stronger) level of support for Israel, the comparisons to Obama’s policies on the Middle East will grow louder.

Will he move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem? Preliminary reports tell us they won’t, but this is President Trump so you never know what will happen until it does.

Can he avoid public conflict over allegedly revealing sensitive Israeli intelligence to the Russians? We can assume any dismay from the Israelis or reassurances from the President will happen behind closed doors, so this is likely a non-topic during this trip as far as the public is concerned.

Pre-1967 borders have suddenly entered the equation since the White House released a video showing Israel without the “occupied” territories as part of their lands. This may be played off as an intern’s mistake or it may become an issue.

The BDS movement will be discussed. It’s an issue that should bring unification between the administration and Israeli leaders, particularly as he will undoubtedly point out how the movement hurts Muslims as much or more than it hurts Jews.

Lastly, will there be any talks of a two-state solution? If it happens during the Israel trip, it will push this portion of his agenda to the forefront and we can expect repercussions from many on the American right as well as an adversarial situation in Israel itself. This is unlikely, but again, it’s Trump so you never know.

If President Trump makes it out of Saudi Arabia and Israel with both allies feeling good about their relationship with America, Trump will be set up for success. If Israel turns south on the President, this could be the start of a foreign policy disaster that will likely spiral throughout his term(s).

By John Ruberry

I hate to interrupt your day by veering away from such issues, well, issues to some, such as the Donald Trump campaign’s alleged collusion with Russia or that nation’s reputed hacking of the 2016 presidential election, but there is something more important that the mainstream media is only nibbling at the edges of: the Great American Pension Swindle.

What is it?

Underfunded pension plans in blue states, well mostly blue states.

Here are some media headlines from just this month:

I could go on and on.

As for that last one, many bond firms rate Chicago Public Schools’ bonds as junk. The collateral for its latest loan, and that’s a generous use of the term, is money owed to CPS by the state of Illinois, the Puerto Rico of the Midwest. Illinois’ public-worker pension plans are just 29 percent funded. Chicago’s pensions are worse–at 25 percent funded, the worst among 15 large cities surveyed.

I don’t have Schadenfreude over this situation. On a personal level the spouse of a friend of mine and one of my cousins are collecting Illinois State Police pensions. They were promised these retirement plans and they didn’t pay into Social Security when they worked for the state. There was no opt-out option for them in regards to these pensions. And their union, unlike AFSCME, wasn’t showering Illinois politicians, mostly Democrats, with copious campaign contributions while the state was shortchanging and even skipping payments into pension funds.

Now what?

John “Lee” Ruberry of Da Tech Guy’s Magnificent Seven

I suspect bankruptcies in all but name, which I wrote about earlier this month in this space, are coming to Illinois and other states who see pensions as a reward system for political sponsors such as AFSCME. Here’s another possibility: run-of-the-mill taxpayers, many of whom are just getting by financially and have no pensions of their own, nor the ability to retire in their 50s, will have to cough up even more in taxes to bail out public worker retirement funds.

This tragedy is not the fault of the Russians. Vladimir Putin didn’t hack the pension funds.  But too bad that’s not what happened. Then perhaps MSNBC, CNN, the Washington Post, and the New York Times might devote more time to the Great American Pension Swindle.

John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.

Summary:  Sometimes a killer rental is just that.

Plot:   Bill and a group of friends find a place for themselves, a big old house at a bargain and she can’t wait to move etin and get her own place.  She is annoyed when the Doctor (her “grandfather) turns up but when her roommates start disappearing and dying can she and the Doctor solve the mystery of the landlord and his hidden daughter?
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Writing:  In once sense this is such a formula piece, spooky house, bargain too good to be true, twenty somethings disappearing you would think it wouldn’t work, but the strength of this story like the previous episode are the characters and their interaction and it turns what would normally be a pedantic episode into a winner for writer Mike Bartlett. I like very much that unlike Moffatt Bartlett uses Bill orientation without playing SJW.  I also love the sheer normalcy of the search for an apartment and the reality of trying to do so on a budget.

Acting:   For the first time this season the supporting cast brings their A game particular veteran actor David Suchet as the very dark yet weak landlord the rest of the young actors all do yeoman work here.  As always Peter Capaldi brings his A game and Pearl Mackie shines so well that almost total absence of Matt Lucas is not a disadvantage here. I found the supporting cast completely boring and forgettable which I think really costs this episode, but Capaldi does period pieces so well that one can almost forget it.

Memorable Moments:  Doff my cap,  Granddad, you should find another house,

Doctor Who Flashbacks:  Grandad (Susan and 1st Doctor), Harriet Jones (9th and 10th Doctor)  Plenty of things to kill you on earth (Last Christmas)

Oddities: I love the Doctor helping Bill move, it’s so ordinary like the Turkey thing in the 11th Doctor’s final episode.

Pet Peeves:  I don’t see any reason for these bugs to do what they do, the idea that the kid cold train them is quite a leap.


Great Quote(s) via chakoteya.net transcripts

Shireen: [Frustrated at not finding a decent place] What do other people do?
Bill: Other people have money.


Bill:  He’s my grandad.

The Doctor: Aw, come on. Father at least, please.
Bill:  All right, grand-father.


Felicity: Do you like this music, Doctor?
The Doctor: Reminds me of Quincy Jones. I stepped in for him once. The bassist he’d hired turned out to be a Klarj Neon Death Voc-Bot. What was worse, he couldn’t play. 


Harry: What’s happened to her? What’s going on? Do you think it’s like she said? A thing?
The Doctor: Maybe.
Harry: And so is it out there now? Or in here?
The Doctor: Or both.
Harry: I’m scared.
The Doctor: Don’t be.
Harry: Why not?
The Doctor: It doesn’t help


Final Verdict: 4 stars That’s more like it.  A good regular episode and almost everyone lives too.

Ranking of Season: 1st of 4  Again a little better than the last one, the trend continues in the right direction

1st Knock Knock
2nd Thin Ice
3rd Smile
4th The Pilot

Top 10 Ranking in the Capaldi Era: The good news we’re creeping closer to the top ten, the bad news is we still haven’t cracked it. inching toward it

1st The Husbands of River Song
2nd. Last Christmas
3rd. The Caretaker
4th. The Return of Doctor Mysterio
5th. The Girl who Died
6th. The Witch’s Familiar
7th. Hell Bent
8th. Mummy on the Orient Express
9th. Face the Raven
10th. Into the Dalek