Obama's Second Term
|Peter Sullivan ||July 28th 2014|
The economy is, finally, improving. But it is not helping Democrats much in the battle for control of the Senate.
The unemployment rate, which peaked at 10 percent in late 2009, has dropped to 6.1 percent. The number of new jobless claims fell to an eight-year low this month, further raising hopes for a strengthening recovery.
The economy is even better in several of the states where Democrats are clinging to Senate seats. Unemployment is at 5.5 percent in Sen. Mark Udall’s Colorado, 5 percent in Sen. Mary Landrieu’s Louisiana and just 4.4 percent in Iowa, where Rep. Bruce Braley is hoping to succeed retiring Sen. Tom Harkin.
Yet races in those states are neck and neck. The traditional turnout advantage that Republicans enjoy in midterm elections, President Obama’s unpopularity and competing claims over who deserves credit on the economy are all weighing down the potential lift for Democrats. Read more ..
Gaza on Edge
|David Adesnik||July 27th 2014|
Eventually, there will be a ceasefire. But in the past few days, some of the best foreign affairs columnists around — Jackson Diehl and David Ignatius — have been arguing for a more comprehensive deal that will result in true peace, not just a pause before the next round of fighting. Will Saletan of Slate has made a similar argument, demonstrating the instinctive appeal of this idea across the political spectrum. Even Israeli politicians are lending their support to something similar, at least in public.
The idea of “demilitarizing” Gaza is at the heart of most peace proposals. What none seem to recognize is either the impracticality of such an objective or its repulsiveness to Hamas. Right now, Hamas maintains control of 1.8 million Palestinians in the West Bank thanks to its military forces. Hamas has negligible influence in the West Bank, where Fatah forces predominate. Hamas’ prestige depends on its ability to threaten Israel. To demilitarize is to abandon everything that has enabled Hamas to survive and, in its own way, prosper. Read more ..
Obama and Israel
|Isi Leibler||July 27th 2014|
In the midst of a bitter war – one that Israel sought to avoid - the statements and initiatives from U.S. President Barack Obama and his inept secretary of state, John Kerry, have convinced Hamas that if they maintain their campaign of terror against Israel and the civilians of Gaza, the international community will intervene on their behalf.
From Israel’s vantage, despite the continuing tragic losses, there can be no turning back until the weapons of destruction and the tunnels are neutralized. Failure to achieve this will doom us to a future and possibly even more dangerous confrontation with these genocidal barbarians.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s leadership has been exemplary. Despite extraordinary pressure from all sides of the political spectrum, he succeeded in charting a responsible policy. The initial restraint, his acceptance of the Egyptian terms of cease-fire and his avoidance of demagoguery, united the nation and even scored points among open-minded circles in the international community. Read more ..
The Battle for the Ukraine
|Rachel Ehrenfeld||July 26th 2014|
In seizing Crimea, Vladimir Putin may well have bitten off more than he can chew. This, not because he lacks the power to suppress all opposition to a Russian takeover there, including the Crimean Tatars, but because jihadis may flock there in defense of the local Muslims. Moreover, jihadis everywhere are likely to target Russian interests outside the confines of Crimea as well.
While the historical plight of the Crimean Tatars is well known, reporting about it seems to stop with their wholesale expulsion from the peninsula by Stalin during WWII. The assumption is that the Tatars, out of gratitude for being allowed back into Crimea, have caused no trouble to Russia. This isn't so.
In the mid-1990s, the Tatars blocked a bid by local Russian nationalists to move Crimea out of Ukrainian and into Russian hands. This was done via civil disobedience, putting people in front of trucks to keep them from delivering food and fuel, and hunger strikes. Since then, the Tatars have supported Ukraine's Orange Revolution and opposed pro-Russian Yanukovych's election in 2010. Read more ..
Operation Protective Edge
|Rachel Ehrenfeld||July 25th 2014|
The siding with Hamas, which uses Gaza's residents - most of whom support the terrorist group's agenda - as human shields - is not limited to outsiders. The Israel-based organization B'Tselem, which for years has actively promoted alleged Israeli violations of Palestinian human rights, has also directly contributed to Hamas's tunnel building efforts.
Last year, for example, B'Tselem reported that "contractors and construction laborers in the Gaza Strip depicted a harsh reality in which projects are put on hold due to lack of materials. They related that contractors were forced to dismiss employees, so that thousands of people, most of whom support large families, lost their livelihood." Not surprisingly, this report led to harsh international criticism of Israel.
However, "The construction of attack tunnels and underground lairs came at a time when Gaza was appealing to the world to be relieved of limitations on the importation of cement on humanitarian grounds," so they could build schools, hospitals, sewage systems or housing. Instead, with B'Tselem's help, it was used to build the vast sophisticated tunnel network from the Gaza Strip to the Israeli and Egyptian borders. Read more ..
The 2016 Vote
|Alexander Bolton||July 25th 2014|
Lawmakers have been in a rush all of this election year to get back to their home schedules, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (R-Nev.) is helping them with the upper chamber’s schedule.
The Senate has held its last vote of the week like clockwork at 1:45 pm on recent Thursdays, giving lawmakers a chance to catch early flights home back home.
Yesterday was the fifth Thursday since the beginning of June that Reid scheduled the last vote of the week at around 1:45 pm. Two other end-of-week votes held during that span took place at 2:04 pm and 2:29 pm.
In May, the Senate held its last votes of the week at 2:28 pm, 2:44 pm, 3:21 pm and 2:15 p.m., each time on a Thursday. “I wonder who needs to catch a flight on Thursday afternoons,” one GOP aide quipped. A senior Democratic aide said the string of early Thursday votes happened by coincidence and was not motivated by a master plan to help keep Democrats in control of the Senate. Read more ..
War on Christians
|Martin Barillas||July 24th 2014|
Cutting Edge Contributor
According to a British newspaper, The Daily Mail, a judge in Iran sentenced a Christian man to have his lips burned with a cigarette for having eaten during the daylight hours when Muslims fast during the current celebration of the eating during the current Muslim holy month of Ramadan. The barbaric punishment was carried out in a public square in the city of Kermanshah. In addition, five Muslim men were flogged in public with 70 strokes for not fasting during Ramadan, according to Kermanshah's deputy governor.
The National Council of Resistance of Iran, a political coalition which opposes the Islamist government, denounced the "savage" torture and called on western countries to take action. “The silence of the world community, especially of western countries, vis-à-vis these medieval punishments under the excuse of having nuclear talks with Iran has intensified the brutal and systematic violation of human rights in Iran,” said the council. “This will ultimately embolden the Iranian regime to continue its nuclear projects more than before,” it added. Read more ..
Operation Protective Edge
This is nothing less than one of the biggest blunders in the history of the Israeli defense establishment. Right under the nose of the IDF in Gaza, Hamas has formed many underground attack tunnels. Residents of the Gaza vicinity have heard the sounds of shoveling and voices, so says intelligence information.
One man who has been claiming this for a long time is geologist Yossi Langotsky. Colonel (Ret.) Langotsky, who is now known as the father of the Tamar and Dalit gas discoveries, formerly established the Special Operations Branch of Military Intelligence and the control unit technology's operational wing. There, he won two Israel Security awards -- both personal and for his unit for developments he led.
"This was a big mistake not to employ the intelligence to discover it," says Langotsky. Three times he contacted the Defense Ministry to help find a solution -- and three times those bodies had failed to heed help and advice from the Geophysical Institute -- which they offered to volunteer. Read more ..
|Frederick B. Mills||July 22nd 2014|
Four to five hundred children leave El Salvador every day for the United States in order to escape violence and poverty. Since 2005, 26,568 Salvadoran children have been processed by U.S. immigration courts, 7,742 of whom arrived as unaccompanied minors.
The Salvadoran government, like the two other Northern Triangle nations (Honduras and Guatemala), is faced with a four-fold challenge: advocate for the legal rights and legal representation of their citizens who are being processed by U.S. immigration authorities; urge Mexican authorities to provide adequate security for migrants traveling through Mexico; establish public security for all citizens; and stem the tide of undocumented emigration.
This short essay focuses on the last objective, which is complicated by a moral dilemma for families in those towns that are afflicted by organized crime: should our children stay or should they go? Read more ..
Operation Protective Edge
|Aryeh Savir and Matan Pazi||July 21st 2014|
Tazpit News Agency
This past Monday on The Daily Show, Jon Stewart devoted two-and-a-half minutes to attack Israel on its counter-terror operation in Gaza. His jokes were one sided and biased, and he placed the blame of the entire situation on Israel.
The next night he hosted Fmr. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. It seems he tried to elicit from her the same kind of statements, but instead Clinton expressed strong support for Israel. Stewart stated at the beginning of the interview that he did not want to touch upon issues such as "good and evil", but Clinton discussed just that.
Relating to the supposed humanitarian crisis in Gaza, Clinton stated: "They're trapped by their leadership, unfortunately, they have leadership that is committed to resistance and violence, and therefore their actions are mostly about how do we get new and better missiles to launch them at Israel instead of saying, hey let's try and figure out how we're going to make your lives better."
She further reaffirmed that: "The Israelis are absolutely right in saying they can’t just sit there and let rockets rain down, they have a missile defense system which is working well, but that can't be certain, and now there are drones that are being launched from Gaza. They have tried with the Palestinian authority president Abbas, to figure out a way to try to move forward on some sort of negotiated settlement, very difficult." Read more ..
|Karlyn Bowman and Jennifer K Marisico||July 19th 2014|
Let’s be clear: there is no public opinion on the complex piece of legislation known as Dodd-Frank. Americans rarely give specific legislative guidance. They speak in broad terms about their concerns and values. And today, four years after the passage of Dodd-Frank, the severity of the crash and ensuing downturn continue to shape their beliefs about financial and other key institutions, government regulation, and the gap between the rich and poor.
Fear isn’t an emotion you see often in polls, but it was palpable in the aftermath of the crash. Seventy percent said they were following economic news very closely in September 2008, putting the events a few percentage points shy of the top news stories of 22 years in Pew’s polling. Seventy-nine percent worried the economy was going into a depression. The preliminary Reuters/University of Michigan Index of Consumer Sentiment registered the largest decline in the 50-plus year history of the survey in October. Although there is some tentative evidence that Americans believe the economy is picking up, they don’t believe it is healthy. Five years after the crash, in 2013, just a third told Pew the US economic system was more secure than it had been before the crash. In a new GQR poll, eight in ten say another crash is likely in the next ten years. Hardly anyone believes their household incomes have fully recovered. Read more ..
Turkey on Edge
|J. Millard Burr||July 18th 2014|
The Washington Post on 13 July 2013 published an article by Charles Whitlock entitled "US drone surveillance expands to other hot spots" Whitlock's reporting was general in nature, and it offered little new to interested parties who have followed the use of American drones employed in anti-terrorist activity in Somalia, Mali and Yemen.
However, from the article we learn that some forty Americans--both military and civilian contractors--are administering "flight services" in support of a secret drone program that operates from a small enclave found within the huge air base at Incirlik, Turkey. What the team is up to, and how the presence of US drones at a Turkish airbase benefits the government of Recep Tayyip Erdogan and/or the American intelligence community can only be guessed. Would Turkey allow the U.S. to unilaterally operate drones from Turkish territory? Would there be dual-use of drones? Would the United States lease Predator or Reaper drones to the Turkish military forces for their own use? Certainly there must exist a quid pro quo. Read more ..
Defense on Edge
|Roger I. Zakheim||July 17th 2014|
This week senior officials from the Pentagon will testify before Congress on their request for emergency appropriations, known as the Overseas Contingency Operations funding (OCO in military speak). A decision to maintain troop presence in Afghanistan, a resurgence of radical Sunni terrorism across the Middle East, and Russian expansionism in Europe all seem like good reasons for the administration to request the emergency funding. These events, however, haven’t prevented some proponents of defense cuts to question the validity of the request.
To be sure, the OCO request for the Defense Department is $58.6 billion—a substantial sum of money. Yet, it is 31 percent less than last year’s war funding bill reflecting the substantial reduction in U.S. forces planned for the next two years. This sharp decline in war funding hasn’t mollified critics who argue the request is too high because the funding doesn’t keep pace with troop levels, which will drop by 56 percent between this fiscal year and the next. This has led some to conclude that the OCO request is funded beyond what is strictly necessary for Afghanistan and related operations. Read more ..
The Digital Edge
|Junko Yoshida||July 16th 2014|
At the risk of sounding a bit curmudgeonly, I have to confess one thing. While there’s certainly something positive to be said about the Internet of Things (IoT), I can’t help feeling suspicious, weary, and a bit turned off by the whole idea. Aside from big-number projections (e.g., Cisco predicts 50 billion IoT devices by 2020), which would tempt anyone into becoming an IoT cheerleader, I haven’t seen a single credible-use scenario that might lure the average consumer onto the IoT bandwagon.
Honestly, it creeps me out to think about my devices at home talking to one another, doing stuff without my involvement, and talking about my habits -- good and bad -- to total strangers (advertisers, service providers, or just more machines), behind my back. There’s nothing warm and fuzzy about this. At all. Read more ..
Defense on Edge
|Thomas Donnelly||July 15th 2014|
Absent a fundamental change in America's role in the world, the military we need would probably look a lot like it does now, although it would be substantially larger. The mix of capabilities and capacity that the "legacy" force would have, if properly resourced, reflect the very wide range of missions that naturally accrue to a global great power. The current force also has proved itself technologically and tactically flexible, at least by historical standards.
Moreover, the predictions of the current generation of military futurists, especially those who enthuse over the allegedly "transformative" trends in technology, have been almost entirely incorrect. The spread of information technology was supposed to dispel the "fog of war" and make for a "transparent" battlefield. Despite tens (if not hundreds) of billions in investment and some pretty nifty inventions, war remains a murky business, one where the goal is to compel the enemy — the human adversary — to do our will. Land warfare, in particular, has remained a technology-resistant trade, yet that doesn't prevent defense "reformers" from advocating for continued land-force cuts. Read more ..
The 2014 Vote
|Amie Parnes||July 14th 2014|
Democrats in tough reelection races have a blunt message for President Obama: Keep away.
Obama’s approval ratings are in the basement and show no signs of improving, so Democrats are keeping their distance. On the stump, in campaign ads and at fundraisers, Obama’s absence is increasingly conspicuous.
Democrats are voicing their displeasure with his policies and campaign advisers are telling candidates to avoid being photographed with him, so as to deny Republicans effective visuals for campaign ads.
“It’s a no-brainer,” said one operative who works for a senator up for reelection in 2014. “The second term has been a bit of a disaster, his approval ratings are the lowest of his presidency and Washington is in disarray.” Many of the Democratic senators elected in 2008 rode to office on Obama’s coattails. Six years later, they’re asking, “Barack who?” Read more ..
|David Bukay||July 12th 2014|
Da'wah means focusing on Islamic educational values internally, and instilling incitement and hate propagation externally. Muslim groups and organizations give highest priority and utmost importance to education, manifested in all their charters and decrees. It has a dual objective: to raise a better Muslim devoted to his religion, and to transform the educational system of the infidels at all levels into venues for spreading Islam.
Internally, Islamic schools seek to provide their pupils and students with education under the shadow of the Qur'an and the Sunnah of the Prophet. Investing in educating children is how Islamic society plans a successful future, nurtured via a solid interaction between the home, the school, and the Mosque. Parents are highly advised to read and learn the ways and manners of their prophet, through the Qur'an and the Sunnah; awaken their desire for al-Jannah (Paradise), and warn them of al-Nar (Hellfire). The children must cling to Islamic ways and choose righteous friends, as suggested in the Qur'an: always to love and accompany their own religious fellows and at the same time always deny, resent and hate the infidels whenever they are encountered and wherever they are. Read more ..
Jewry on Edge
|Charles Jacobs||July 10th 2014|
Palestinians murdered three innocent Jewish boys in Israel, and the New York Metropolitan Opera is still refusing to cancel a performance that sympathetically portrays the murder of a Jew by Arabs. What’s worse, the Anti Defamation League (ADL) – the most powerful Jewish organization tasked with defending Jewish interests – has made a backroom deal with the Met that allows the anti-Jewish performances to go forward without protest.
The opera – “The Death of Klinghoffer” – is based on a hijacking incident in 1985 on the Italian ship Achille Lauro. While on an anniversary cruise with his wife, Leon Klinghoffer, an elderly Jew from New York who was confined to a wheelchair, was – like Eyal, Gilad and Naftali – shot dead by Palestinians. His body was then thrown into the sea.
The 1991 opera, according to Met general manager Peter Gelb, aims “to understand the hijackers and their motivations, and to look for humanity in the terrorists, as well as in the victims.” In other words: to create sympathy for the killers by making them morally equivalent to Klinghoffer and, by extension, all Jews.
Alice Goodman, a convert out of Judaism and now a priest in the Anglican Church, wrote the libretto. John Adams, the composer, is a fan of Edward Said – the intellectual godfather of Palestinian nationalism. Hardly surprising, The New York Times praised this opera, in which the Jews do not come off so well. Here’s an aria: Read more ..
Operation Protective Edge
|Aryeh Savir||July 10th 2014|
While half of the State of Israel is under Hamas threat, many Gazans continue to receive medical treatment in Israel. Rambam Health Care Campus provides medical care to hundreds of patients from Gaza and the Palestinian Authority (PA) year round. 650 children and teenagers in were treated in the hospital throughout 2013. Currently, hospitalized patients include 3 adults and 8 children from Gaza, and 3 adults and 2 children from the PA. In addition, this Haifa hospital has 7 patients from the PA being treated in the outpatient clinics. Additional patients from Gaza area are scheduled for treatments later this week. These young patients are further accompanied by relatives.
Medical cooperation between Israel and the PA continues despite the shooting. According to Yazid Falah, the coordinator for Palestinian patients coming to Rambam, “Despite the security situation, and despite the fact that both sides are fighting, all continues as usual in the realm of medical cooperation,” explains Falah, “Even in times of war we continue to receive patients and give them the care they need—children and adults.” Read more ..
The 2016 Vote
|Rebecca Shabad ||July 9th 2014|
|Rep. John Boehner (R-Ohio)|
Republicans are betting on Cleveland to turn around their 2016 fortunes in the perpetual swing state of Ohio.
The party on Tuesday announced it would hold its national convention in the industrial heart of Ohio, a state that no Republican since Abraham Lincoln has lost while winning the presidency. Cleveland was declared the winner over runner-up Dallas by a 12-member site selection committee.
Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus said only Cleveland could accommodate the party’s desire to have the convention begin on either June 28 or July 18. The venues and hotel rooms were not available in Dallas at that time.
But their choice of the often-maligned city was also a clear political calculation. Read more ..
The Way We Are
|Michael Barone||July 7th 2014|
“New analyses of the human genome establish that human evolution has been recent, copious and regional,” writes Nicholas Wade in his recently published book A Troublesome Inheritance: Genes, Race and Human History.
That sounds reasonable, and Wade, a science reporter and editor for many years at Nature and the New York Times, seems an unimpeachable source. But many well-meaning people will regard his words as provocative and even dangerous.
For they fatally undermine the idea, widely shared by so-called progressives, that any apparent differences between groups of people are the product of nurture rather than nature, of social conditioning rather than Darwinian natural selection.
This has become dogma among certain social scientists. The American Anthropological Association states that race “is a recent human invention” and “is about culture, not biology.” The American Sociological Association calls race “a social construct” and decries “the danger of contributing to the popular conception of race as biological.” Read more ..
The 2016 Vote
|Cameron Joseph||July 6th 2014|
Mitt Romney is looking to keep his sterling endorsement streak alive as the 2014 campaign transitions from primary to general election season.
The former GOP presidential nominee has a perfect record after getting involved in a number of competitive Republican races this year. Now, with Senate control on the line and his party eager to add to their House majority, he’s turning his attention to helping many of those same candidates in tough fall battles. Free from the pressures of daily life in the spotlight, Romney has undergone a latter-day renaissance, rebuilding his public image after a brutal 2012 campaign.
Two years later, he’s being welcomed on the trail with open arms as one of his party’s most sought-after surrogates. Republican candidates and strategists salivate over his fundraising prowess and seem less and less worried about potential baggage from appearing with him.“As an elder statesman in the party, he's able to endorse good, conservative candidates that can win. Read more ..
Israel on Edge
|Shiryn Ghermezian||July 5th 2014|
Jewish human rights group, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), on Wednesday sharply criticized groups and individuals of the United States “anti-Israel movement” for failing to condemn the kidnapping and murder of three Israeli teens whose bodies were discovered in a shallow grave near Hebron earlier this week. ADL National Director Abraham Foxman said, “It is shocking and shameful that the same groups who swiftly condemn in the strongest terms any perceived misdeed by Israel do not seem to have an ounce of moral outrage left to speak out against the murder of three innocent Israeli teenagers.”
Foxman continued, “It is easy for these groups to pay lip service to principles of justice, human dignity and nonviolence… Those principles apparently do not extend to Israel.”
The ADL said it reviewed the social media profiles and websites of more than 25 leading anti-Israel groups and activists and found that all except one group failed to acknowledge the kidnapping or condemn the murders. “Many had the audacity to challenge the fact that the teens were even kidnapped at all,” the ADL said.
The guilty organizations included the Middle East Children’s Alliance, Students for Justice in Palestine, Adalah-NY, American Muslims for Palestine, If Americans Knew and Jewish Voice for Peace among others.
The slain teens, Naftali Frankel, Gilad Shaar and Eyal Yifrach were discovered by Israeli soldiers on Monday, 18 days after their abduction by Hamas terrorists. They were buried side-by-side in Modi’in on Tuesday.
Elserwhere, according to the Times of Israel: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu again strongly denounced on Thursday the murder of a Palestinian teenager in an act that he called “a despicable crime.” Read more ..
The Way We Are
The tenth anniversary revised edition of Ray Raphael’s influential book, "Founding Myths: Stories that Hide Our Patriotic Past," is being released by The New Press on July 4. This article was originally published by the Journal of the American Revolution.
1. On July 4, 1776, the United States declared itself an independent nation.
This is almost true, but the timing is a tad off. According to the historical record, we should be celebrating Independence Day on July 2, the day Congress finally approved the motion made by Richard Henry Lee on June 7: “That these United Colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent States, that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain is, and ought to be, totally dissolved.” Read more ..
Michigan Capitol Confidential
Detroit is bankrupt and required a $195 million bailout from state taxpayers, but it apparently is the perfect backdrop for the new Beverly Hills Cop movie, which will get $13.5 million in state dollars.
The sequel to the 1984 classic will feature Eddie Murphy and is being made by Paramount Pictures, which is owned by Viacom. Viacom reported a profit of $3.7 billion in 2013.
"Now that’s irony," said Eric Larson, president of the Kent County Taxpayers Alliance.
The movie production is estimated to spend $56.6 million in Michigan while filming.
Viacom CEO Philippe Dauman received $37.2 million in compensation in 2013, according to a USA Today report. Viacom had revenue of $14.9 billion in 2013, which is about $1 billion more than Michigan spends on K-12 public education in state dollars.
"It's bothersome that we are giving money to really rich people when we are raising taxes on people and crying poverty," Larson said. "We have a bankrupt city that we are bailing out and we are unable to fund our roads. You are basically giving money away to people who don't need it. We have no movie industry that is going to be here any longer than the tax credits are." Read more ..
Palestinians on Edge
|Michael Widlanski ||July 3rd 2014|
When an Arab bomber attacks Jews, there is often a SEXUAL motive.
Wafa Idris, the first Palestinian Arab woman suicide bomber, had been shamed and shunned by her husband and her own family after a miscarriage in pregnancy, and she was told she could regain “honor” for her family by carrying a bomb into a Jerusalem store on January 27, 2002. There are many such stories among Arab women bombers.
And when Arabs accuse Israel of committing terror against Arabs—such as this week’s “settlers killed a 16-year-old boy for revenge”—there is often a SEXUAL BACK-STORY which only emerges much later.
Indeed, several times in the past when Arabs have accused Israel or “settlers” of killing Arabs, it has turned out that Arabs themselves committed the deed, either for “family reasons” or “criminal reasons” such as a turf war between rival businesses or drug dealers. Read more ..
The Way We Are
|Ramesh Ponnuru||July 1st 2014|
Here's an easy way to cut through the arguments and counterarguments surrounding today's Hobby Lobby ruling from the U.S. Supreme Court: Think back to 2012.
Does the court's ruling -- in which a majority held that Hobby Lobby Stores Inc. and other private employers can be exempted from a requirement in Obamacare to cover contraceptives in their health-care plans -- represent a terrible blow to women's rights? Not really: Women have the same rights they had all through President Barack Obama's first term. At that time, federal law did not require most employers to cover contraceptives.
Does the ruling mean that employees' use of contraception depends on the religious views of their bosses? Again, no more than it did in 2012.
Experience should also inform our evaluation of one of the main arguments against the ruling: that it will bring forth lawsuit after lawsuit as Scientologist employers make religious objections to covering antidepressants, Jehovah's Witnesses balk at covering blood transfusions and so on. Read more ..
Islam on Edge
|Rachel Ehrenfeld||June 30th 2014|
Many Western commentators have adopted the narrative that al Qaeda and its ilk are the exception to the "religion of peace" -- Islam.
However, the rise of "political Islam," the brainchild of the Muslim Brotherhood, is more akin to a highly infectious disease. No vaccine is available; its spread can only be halted by identifying and eliminating the sources of infection. Yet, despite the mortal danger posed by the increasingly violent global jihadist movement, willful blindness persists in the United States and the West.
Once the Soviet Union imploded and Islamist fundamentalism exploded, Muhammad replaced Marx and Lenin, and radical Islam replaced the socialist-nationalist doctrines of the Arab revolutionaries. The collapse of the Soviet Union served as the catalyst for an alliance between radical Sunni and Shiite movements that helped to revive Islamist fundamentalism. The spread of the Islamist ideology was paid for by the oil-rich Arab/Muslim states, which also used their money to buy Western "opinion makers," including businessmen, politicians, the media, and academics. Read more ..
Obama's Second Term
|Kristina Wong ||June 29th 2014|
President Obama vowed to close the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay on his second day in office, but it is increasingly unlikely he can deliver on that promise.
The president faces numerous obstacles from Congress, where lawmakers have repeatedly blocked efforts to move prisoners to U.S. soil or fund new facilities to hold them.
And the blowback from releasing five Taliban commanders in exchange for prisoner of war Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl — without congressional approval — only intensified opposition to shuttering the prison.
Obama insists he is committed to closing Gitmo, but critics say he still has no clear plan.
Republican Sen. John McCain (Ariz.), who supports closing Guantanamo, says he has been waiting since 2009. Read more ..
|Ramesh Ponnuru||June 28th 2014|
In a hostile take on Bill Clinton's campaign during the 1992 presidential primaries, two left-wing journalists wrote that his supporters "fired off neoliberal proposals like a Salad Shooter spews lettuce shreds."
Senator Marco Rubio, a Florida Republican, seems to have adopted a similar approach. In his case, however, it's conservative reforms that he is spitting out. Let's hope other Republicans are starting to listen.
In a speech today, Rubio explained how his conservative proposals would make a positive difference in Americans' lives -- something a lot of Republican politicians oddly haven't even tried to do in recent years. The theme was making it easier for people to achieve economic security in an insecure age by bringing down the cost of living.
In these respects, Rubio sounds very much like a group of people who have been called "reform conservatives." Like them, Rubio thinks that the country doesn't need to expand the federal government but does need to apply a series of conservative reforms to dysfunctional institutions like the health-care system and the tax code. And like the reform conservatives, Rubio thinks that Republicans need to apply "the principles of our founding to the challenges and opportunities facing Americans in their daily lives." Read more ..
America on Edge
|Norman Ornstein||June 27th 2014|
Fifty years ago last weekend, civil-rights workers James Earl Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Michael Schwerner were shot and killed by members of the Ku Klux Klan, including a deputy sheriff, in Philadelphia, Mississippi. Next Wednesday marks the 50th anniversary of the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, one of the monumental achievements of the 20th century. Three weeks ago, on June 7, we had the 16th anniversary of the murder of James Byrd Jr. in Jasper, Texas, after he was chained to a pickup truck by white supremacists and dragged three miles, mostly while conscious, with his headless body thrown in front of an African-American graveyard. And Wednesday marked the first anniversary of Shelby County v. Holder, the 5-4 Supreme Court ruling written by Chief Justice John Roberts that eviscerated the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Read more ..
Financing the Flames
|Erick Stakelbeck||June 27th 2014|
Obama administration officials have praised Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas as someone with whom Israel can do business.
See the Video Report
Yet he recently chose to do business with those committed to Israel's destruction, Abbas struck a deal with Hamas making the U.S.-designated terror group part of a united Palestinian government.
Buy Financing the Flames
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Although that unity deal may soon be dead following Hamas's alleged kidnapping of three Israeli teenagers, Abbas's initial embrace of the terror outfit raised serious questions about his commitment to peace.
Financing the Flames
"Peace doesn't have a chance because peace doesn't pay," said award-winning investigative journalist Edwin Black. "Because anytime that they want some income, all they've got to do is commit an act of terrorism."
In his latest book, Financing the Flames, the New York Times bestselling author details how the Palestinian Authority rewards terrorists who have killed Israelis.
"As soon as a terrorist commits an act of terrorism against an innocent civilian in Israel -- whether that's cutting the throat of a child or stabbing a man standing at a bus or blowing up a building," Black said. "As soon as that man does that, he goes on a special salary from the Palestinian Authority, under Palestinian law -- a law known as the Law of the Prisoner."
The more Israelis killed, the bigger the financial reward.
"He gets a graduated salary depending on how heinous the crime is," Black continued. "If he kills five people and gets five years, he gets one salary. If he kills double that number and gets double the sentence, he gets double the salary. And so this actually incentivizes the misery, mayhem, and carnage that the terrorists commit." Read more ..
|Alexander Bolton and Justin Sink ||June 26th 2014|
By Alexander Bolton and Justin Sink - 06/26/14 06:00 AM EDT
Republicans are in the strongest position to win back the Senate since losing it eight years ago.
Over several months, the party has expanded its range of targeted seats, and the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) has helped defeat insurgents it didn’t want representing the GOP in the midterm elections.
This sober realization came to Democrats on Wednesday, as Tuesday night’s primary results showed they cannot count on Tea Party candidates upsetting more-electable incumbents.
And Democrats are increasingly realizing that President Obama’s approval rating will probably remain mired at 45 percent or lower until Election Day, giving Republicans ammo. Read more ..
The Way We Are
|Kent Paterson||June 26th 2014|
Largely downplayed in the national political discourse, police violence and militarization is nevertheless reemerging as a major issue of the day. And it is one that is drawing notice abroad.
Last week, it was the turn of the border city of El Paso, Texas, to be in the international spotlight when a jailhouse video was released that showed the March 2013 shooting of Daniel Saenz by El Paso police officer Jose Flores. Saenz, who was a powerful bodybuilder, was handcuffed on the ground and struggling with a pair of officers when a single bullet from Flores’ gun ended the prisoner’s life.
The video went “viral” on the Internet, registering hundreds of thousands of hits and getting an airing on the “Young Turks” show. Saenz had been transported from a local medical center, where he assaulted two people while he was hospitalized for high blood pressure, but reportedly was on his way back to the hospital after he head-butted a jail door. Read more ..
European Jewry on Edge
|Isi Leibler||June 25th 2014|
Recent developments signal that the prospect of Europe sliding into a new Dark Age is now a horrifying reality. It is as though all the elements negating the open society have been blended into a witches’ brew to undermine Europe’s liberal cultural ethos.
First in line to suffer are the Jews, attacked from all sides, isolated, friendless and unable to adequately defend themselves. Their greatest threat is the rabidly anti-Semitic Muslims supported by anti-Semites from the far Left. This unholy alliance of religious and secular extremists employs radical anti-Israelism as a surrogate for traditional anti-Semitism and is now a fixture at Hezbollah and anti-Israeli demonstrations, where they wave placards and shamelessly accuse Israelis of emulating Nazis.
In contrast to the post-Vatican ll Catholics, most Protestant denominations (other than the evangelicals) have revived their vicious efforts to demonize and delegitimize the Jewish state. Spearheaded by the radical World Council of Churches, many are vigorously pressing charges of deicide against the Jewish people and resurrecting replacement theology asserting that by rejecting Christ, Jews are no longer the Chosen People. They also collaborate with the Palestinians in promoting Jesus as a Palestinian rather than a Jew. Some even deny the historical link of Jews with the land of Israel, claiming that Jews are descendants of the Eurasian Khazars who converted to Judaism in the eighth century C.E., and that Palestinians are the truly indigenous people of the region.
Even non-governmental organizations promoting human rights have been hijacked by the radicals to demonize and delegitimize Israel, focusing far more attention on the construction of homes in exclusively Jewish suburbs of east Jerusalem than on the carnage and murder of tens of thousands in Syria and other Muslim-ruled countries. Read more ..
Obama's Second Term
|Scott Gottlieb||June 25th 2014|
The success of Obamacare always rested on getting enough “young invincibles” to enroll on the exchanges. Since the scheme bars health plans from pricing their insurance policies to the actual risk, Washington needs a lopsided share of cheaper young people paying too much in order to subsidize older people who are paying too little.
As many people expected, not enough young folks are signing up to pay the high premiums. But the structural problem could run much deeper. The young people who are enrolling also tend to have more serious (and costly) medical problems. In short, Obamacare’s young enrollees aren’t invincible enough to underwrite the law’s delicate scheme.
The most compelling proof of this paradox comes from Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina, which recently gave the first significant snapshot of the health status of its new enrollees. The data show that the younger people ages 18-34 enrolling in its exchange plans have much higher prevalence of chronic health problems than the same cohort enrolled in its comparable commercial (non Obamacare) plans. The results were based on a self-assessment survey sent to its beneficiaries. Read more ..
Obama's Second Term
|George Friedman||June 24th 2014|
In recent weeks, some of the international system's unfinished business has revealed itself. We have seen that Ukraine's fate is not yet settled, and with that, neither is Russia's relationship with the European Peninsula. In Iraq we learned that the withdrawal of U.S. forces and the creation of a new Iraqi political system did not answer the question of how the three parts of Iraq can live together. Geopolitical situations rarely resolve themselves neatly or permanently.
These events, in the end, pose a difficult question for the United States. For the past 13 years, the United States has been engaged in extensive, multidivisional warfare in two major theaters -- and several minor ones -- in the Islamic world. The United States is large and powerful enough to endure such extended conflicts, but given that neither conflict ended satisfactorily, the desire to raise the threshold for military involvement makes logical sense. Read more ..
The Way We Are
|Kent Paterson||June 23rd 2014|
|New Mexico police shooting of James Boyd|
Slightly more than three months after the police shooting of homeless camper James Boyd catapulted Albuquerque into the international spotlight, activists returned to the streets to advance their movement against police brutality.
On a blistering Summer Solstice Day, whose blazing mid-day sky was oddly crested by a half-moon , more than 200 people marched up Central Avenue near the University of New Mexico chanting “Justice Now” and “They say justified, we say homicide!” A big banner titled “Desert Sprits of New Mexico” bore the names of people shot to death by the Albuquerque Police Department (APD), as well as the 11 women and girls found murdered on the city’s West Mesa in 2009 in the largest unsolved crime of New Mexico history. T-shirts and placards remembered the dead: “Justice for Jonathan (Mitchell)” and “In Honor of Alfred Redwine.” Read more ..
Palestine on Edge
|Khaled Abu Toameh ||June 23rd 2014|
There already is an intifada against Israel. The Palestinians are close to declaring another intifada, this time against their president, Mahmoud Abbas, thus paving the way for a further escalation of the anti-Israeli Intifada.
Abbas has been diverting Palestinian anger toward Israel. The rhetorical attacks on Israel embolden Hamas and Palestinian extremists and drive more Palestinians into their open arms.
What happened in the center of Ramallah on the morning of June 22 could signal the beginning of an uprising, or intifada, against the Palestinian Authority [PA]. Read more ..
Education on Edge
|Andrew G. Biggs||June 22nd 2014|
California judge recently ruled that the state’s tenure, dismissal, and layoff rules for public-school teachers lead to “grossly ineffective teachers” being retained in the classroom, producing instruction so inadequate for poor and minority students as to be considered unconstitutional. Los Angeles County judge Rolf M. Treu’s ruling surely will be contested, and it is an open question how constitutional equal-protection clauses should be applied to school-personnel issues. But the ruling does raise important questions regarding the role that the firing of teachers should play in improving public education.
It’s been 30 years since the landmark report “A Nation at Risk” highlighted the dire state of America’s public schools. Since that time, education has undergone a series of supposed reforms, including massively increased spending, smaller classrooms, and higher pay for teachers with accreditation or master’s degrees. The number of students is barely greater today than it was in 1983, but there’s been a 57 percent increase in the number of school employees and a 40 percent rise in real per-employee compensation. The list of smaller-scale reforms would cover pages. Read more ..
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