During the election of 1992, Bill Clinton made a provocative promise to move the American embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem – an ancient city under Israeli control that they considered its capital. It’s also considered the capital of a future Palestinian state, if such a thing ever materialized. Proving it’s easier to make a promise than it is to keep it, Clinton punted. In 1995, Congress responded by passing a law called the Jerusalem Embassy Act that called upon the president to make the physical move to the holy city. But knowing that the move could prove destabilizing they left an out for any president to waive the action every six months – something every president has done since, including Trump.
Trump was quite vocal on the campaign trail about the need to move the embassy – most certainly to suck up to the pro-Israel voting bloc. He made this a centerpiece of his limited foreign policy agenda, and used it to bolster his anti-Muslim bona fides.
Then when the semi-annual deadline for waiving the Jerusalem Embassy Act approached, Trump did what he does best: flipped his position and announced that the issue was more complex than anyone ever knew. So complex in fact that he assigned world-renowned diplomat and Middle East expert Jared Kushner to bring about peace to the region.
Expect Trump to quietly waive the law again this December – and every six months until he slouches out of office.
Cigar Aficianado Turns 25
Cigar Aficianado published its first issue in 1992. I remember picking up a copy and the clerk remarking that he never believed anyone would actually buy it. Too narrow a subject. Of course, the magazine majors on cigars, but like other life-style mags such as Wine Spectator and Modern Luxury, Cigar Aficianado prints light-weight pieces on wines and spirits, watches and sports cars, golf and tennis, horse racing and casino gambling, and a puffy interview with an athlete or movie star – the kinds of people cigar-smoking guys want to hang out with.
Marvin Shanken was and still is the editor and publisher, and it seemed that more than half his “Editor’s Note” columns ranted about the government’s overbearing control on the tobacco business. If he wasn’t railing about being prevented from lighting up a stogie in a restaurant, he was whining about not being able to buy Cuban cigars in America. Or how taxes were killing the business.
In any event, what could have been a very temporary run lasted 25 years – so congratulations Marvin Shanken.
By the way, this is what it looks like when you smoke three or four cigars a day for 25 years:
Paul Newman’s Watch
In a September 5 blog I wrote about an upcoming auction of Paul Newman’s rare and unique Rolex timepiece lovingly inscribed by his wife, actress Joann Woodward. From the blog: “A rare Rolex Daytona watch given to Paul Newman by his actress wife Joann Woodward is set to go to auction on October 26. Auction house Phillips in New York whispered a target price of $10 million.”
I also predicted the watch would go for north of $15 mil.
The other day the watch went for a record $17.8 million.