Thursday, July 31, 2014

Is the White House Creating A New Watergate to Protect Lois Lerner and the IRS

Lois Lerner, the IRS managar who led the unit that decided to harass conservative groups, is still the target of congressional investigators and a contempt charge. And today the investigators released more of her emails, which show, according to the investigators, why they want all of Lois Lerner's emails. The just released emails show the former IRS official referring to some right-wing Republicans as "crazies" and "***holes," a revelation that has added to GOP claims that there was a political conspiracy at the tax agency to target conservative groups. Lerner, now retired, headed the IRS division that handles applications for tax-exempt status. In a series of emails with an associate in November 2012, Lerner made two disparaging remarks about some members of the GOP, including one remark that was vulgar. Representative Dave Camp, who chairs the House Ways and Means Committee, released the emails Wednesday as part of his committee's investigation. The Michigan Republican says the emails show Lerner's "disgust with conservatives." In one email, Lerner called some conservatives crazies. In the other, she called them "assholes." The committee redacted the wording to "_holes" in the material it released publicly, but a committee spokeswoman confirmed to the Associated Press that the email said "assholes." Lerner's lawyer, William W. Taylor III, did not respond to a request for comment. His office said he was traveling. ~~~~~ Congress and the Justice Department are investigating the IRS unit headed by Lerner that improperly scrutinized applications for tax-exempt status from conservative groups during the 2010 and 2012 elections. A very large number of Lerner's emails were lost when her computer hard drive crashed in 2011, and when the IRS Commissioner revealed that to the congressional committee, it set off a new round of hearings on Capitol Hill, as well as a new call by Republicans for a special prosecutor to investigate, which the Obama administration is resisting, noting the numerous ongoing investigations. Both the Justice Department and the IRS inspector general are investigating the lost emails as part of wider probes. Despite the lost emails, the IRS says it is providing congressional investigators with 67,000 emails to and from Lerner. ~~~~~ Lerner was apparently in the UK in November 2012 when she used her Blackberry to send a series of emails to a personal associate who did not work at the IRS. Camp said Lerner was using her government email account. Lerner told the person that she overheard some women say America was bankrupt and "going down the tubes." The woman, whose name was blacked out by Camp's office, replied, "Well, you should hear what the whacko wing of the GOP are saying : 'The US is through; too many foreigners sucking the teat; time to hunker down, buy ammo and food, and prepare for the end. The right wing radio shows are scary to listen to.'" Lerner replies: "Great. Maybe we are through if there are that many assholes." The woman replies, "I'm talking about the talk show hosts. The callers are rabid." Lerner: "So we don't need to worry about alien teRrorists (sic). It's our own crazies that will take us down." Representative Camp wrote to Attorney General Eric Holder, saying : "This email shows that Ms. Lerner's mistreatment of conservative groups was driven by her personal hostility toward conservatives. This new evidence clearly demonstrates why Ms. Lerner not only targeted conservatives, but denied such groups their rights to due process and equal protection under the law. While the Committee has not seen any evidence of a serious investigation by your Department, it is my sincere hope that in light of this new, strong evidence that you immediately begin aggressively investigating this matter or appoint a special counsel," he added. Lerner has emerged as a central figure in several congressional investigations into the tax agency's handling of applications for tax-exempt status by tea party and other conservative groups. Twice Lerner refused to answer questions at congressional hearings, invoking her constitutional right against self-incrimination. In May, the House voted to hold Lerner in contempt of Congress. ~~~~~ Dear readers, this IRS scandal is sounding and feeling more and more like Watergate. Lois Lerner can be equated to the "plumbers" who broke into the Democrat offices during the 1972 presidential campaign -- without authorization from anyone in the Nixon White House or campaign committee. They thought they were "helping" the President be re-elected. Instead, their stupidly unhelpful action got President Nixon tossed out of the White House. If we read the latest Lerner emails, we get the picture of a virulently anti-conservative person. She may have thought that by harassing conservative organizations that had to pass through her IRS clearance process, she was "helping" President Obama be re-elected. President Nixon and his White House staff and the Attorney General made the grave error of not condemning the rogue plumbers' actions and firing them instantly. Instead, they began a long and convoluted cover-up that was both unnecessary -- Nixon had nothing to do with the Watergate break-in -- and in the end unsustainable. Are President Obama, his White House staff and the Attorney General making the same grave error -- trying to cover up the actions of a rogue manager? Democrats are right when they say that thus far no smoking gun has been found leading to the Obama White House. But if a cover-up is underway, the smoking gun will be found. And it will make no difference what Obama knew while Lerner was carrying out her anti-conservative witchhunt. Nor will it matter when he finally knew what she was doing. IF there is a cover-up, what will matter is that he engaged in a cover-up of illegal activities that led to his downfall. There is still time for President Obama to separate himself from those who are trying to protect Lois Lerner for partisan political reasons. There is still time for the President to rise above the fray and save himself and at least some of his staff. But the window of opportunity is fast closing. Will Obama - a man aloof and detached from political Washington in a way strangely reminiscent of Nixon - be able to defeat his own devils and save himself? America should be urging him to come clean while they still have the time and the inclination and the means to forgive him.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Palestinians and Moslems Need to Make It Clear that They Do Not Support Hamas Hatred of Israel

Catholic League President Bill Donohue criticized President Barack Obama for his statement commemorating the end of the Moslem Ramadan observance, saying Obama doesn't "stand with people of all faiths." Obama's brief statement was issued earlier this week to send best wishes to Moslems during the Eid al-Fitr celebration that marks the end of Ramadan. In it Obama said that the observance reminds him and his wife Michelle "of the many achievements and contributions of Moslem Americans to building the very fabric of our nation and strengthening the core of our democracy." Obama said he and his wife "stand with people of all faiths, here at home and around the world, to protect and advance their rights to prosper, and we welcome their commitment to giving back to their communities. While Eid marks the completion of Ramadan, it also celebrates the common values that unite us in our humanity and reinforces the obligations that people of all faiths have to each other, especially those impacted by poverty, conflict, and disease," President Obama said. Donohue wrote on the Catholic League's website that Obama does not stand with all faiths while protecting human rights, underlining that fact that "As you speak, Christians are being beheaded all over the Middle East because they are Christians, and those carrying out this mass murder are doing so in the name of Islam. Yet you continue to say and do absolutely nothing about these unspeakable crimes. Do Christian lives mean so little to you?" Donohue asked, saying that when he types in the phrase "President Obama Speaks Out," or "Speaks Against," into Internet search engines, subjects such as "Trayvon Martin," "Kanye West," "Fox News," and "bullying" come up. But, Donohue said, "I can search in vain to find you condemning the genocidal slaughter of Christians by Moslems. Moslem terrorists are killing Jews in Israel and their representatives have pledged to wipe Jews off the face of the earth. Yet your administration spends most of its time lecturing Israelis to be patient. About what? Being bombed because they are Jews? Do Jewish lives mean so little to you?" Donohue added that nobody wants the President to insult Moslem Americans from the White House, "but you had an opportunity to at least call on them to speak out about what their people are doing in the Middle East, and you blew it. Instead, you decided to patronize them for all their contributions to human rights." ~~~~~ We might be tempted to say that this serious criticism came from a Christian religious leader and thus may be exaggerated. Before jumping to such a conclusion, read what Mary Matalin, a veteran Republican political analyst has to say about President Obama's attitude toward Christians and Jews. Matalin spoke on Newsmax TV last week, saying that the Obama administration is guilty of "heartbreaking" anti-Semitism in its treatment of Israel. "The Israelis are the only last [chance] of stability, freedom and hope for that entire region. [It] is otherwise imploding....[Israel is] like the safest community in the United States…. [It] maintains that value system and those morals, the respect and dignity of each individual human. That's what the Israelis do.' But Matalin said she fears that recent criticisms of Israel for its defense against the military actions of Hamas shows a distinct anti-Israel bias : "The anti-Semitism -- and I kind of loathe to call it that but I don't know what to call it -- that is having our government mimic the attitude of the UN is heartbreaking and it's stutteringly frightening, it really is,'' Matalin said. ~~~~~ And, if you think Donohue and Matalin are exaggerating about Obama's bias or the difference between Israel's Jewish religion and culture compared to that of extremist jihadist terrorists who say they are purifying the Moslem faith, check these statistics. The United States annual report on religious freedom released last Monday said that more members of religious communities around the world were forced to flee their homes last year than at any time in recent memory, "In almost every corner of the globe, millions of Christians, Moslems, Hindus and others representing a range of faiths were forced from their homes on account of their religious beliefs," according to the report, which said that in much of the Middle East, the Christian presence is becoming "a shadow of its former self." Hundreds of thousands of minority Christians have fled Syria after three years of civil war. "In the city of Homs the number of Christians dwindled to as few as 1,000 from approximately 160,000 prior to the conflict," according to the report. In the Central African Republic, lawlessness and sectarian violence between Christians and Moslems had reportedly resulted in 700 deaths in December alone and the displacement of more than a million people in 2013. In Pakistan, eighty Christians were killed in a church bombing. In China, seven Christians were sentenced to lengthy prison terms for recording and copying sermons. The report also noted China's prosecution of relatives of people who had set themselves on fire in religious protests. In Egypt, churches and Christian-owned homes and businesses were raided and looted. "Islamist-led mobs carried out acts of violence, intimidation, compelled expulsions, and punishment against Christians," the report said. At least 42 churches, schools, orphanages, and other Christian-affiliated organizations were attacked. "The violence resulted in the looting and destruction of at least 37 churches and the deaths of at least six Christians who were targeted because of their religious identity," according to the report. Attacks on religion were not confined to the developing world, the report said with anti-Semitism throughout Europe was in evidence in Internet forums and in soccer stadiums, "leading many individuals who are Jewish to conceal their religious identity." The US report focuses on 2013, but attacks against Christians and other religious groups continues in 2014. The BBC reported this month that Islamist militants have threatened Iraqi Christians with death by "the sword" unless they accept Islam or pay a protection fee. And in Sudan, a Christian woman was sentenced to death for not recanting her faith. She has since been allowed to leave the country and last week had an audience with Pope Francis. The report also noted instances in which people of different faiths had worked together to protect each other. An increase in mosque attacks in Britain had led an orthodox Jewish neighborhood watch team to help Moslem leaders protect mosques, the report said. Other such interfaith solidarity included Moslems helping to protect Christians by forming human chains around churches in Pakistan and similar actions by Moslems in Egypt. ~~~~~ Dear readers, no world leader has the right to compare jihadist terrorists to normal Moslems. But, every world leader has the obligation to call to the attention of Moslems everywhere their silence, and therefore seeming acquiescence, in the face of those same terrorists who are using the name of their religion as a rallying cry to call "the faithful" to attack, rob, displace and kill Christians and Jews. It is not acceptable to call for the destruction of Israel and all Jews, as Hamas does. If Gaza Moslems are being terrorized themselves by Hamas, they need to find a way to deliver that message to the outside world. Their silence and repeated statements of support for Hamas puts them in harm's way as a community that supports terrorism and hates Israel. Speak up, Gaza. And speak up, West Bank. It is perfectly possible to be a Palestinian and a Moslem without encouraging terrorists. It is not possible to be part of a jihadist islamist group that hates Israel and Jews and expect to be respected by the non-Moslem world. Both Christians and Jews would like to be your friends, but not while you support Hamas and jihadists and teach your children to hate us.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Support for Israel Is a Vote for Democracy and against Terrorism

Pulitzer Prize-winning Washington Post conservative columnist Charles Krauthammer succinctly summarized the current John Kerry Israel-Gaza ceasefire effort : "Look at the wreckage Kerry has done in intervening in the Israeli-Gaza fighting. A left-wing Israeli paper said Kerry had dug a tunnel under the Egyptian peace plan : "When you see what happens when America engages, you wonder if we shouldn't have more disengagement." ~~~~~ Krauthammer told Fox News that US meddling in Israeli-Hamas negotiations has strewn "wreckage" instead of ending the violent conflict. Krauthammer directly blamed Secretary of State Kerry. Speaking on Fox News, Krauthammer attacked Kerry for gate-crashing the negotiations uninvited and undermining Egypt's attempts to settle the war in Gaza. "The Israelis did not invite him. The Egyptians did not want him and he still says he advanced a peace plan that was sort of building on the Egyptian one. It didn't at all. It undermined it. Egypt wanted a cease-fire in place, which means no reward for Hamas starting this war by attacking civilians, which is a war crime. And that was proposed before the ground incursion. The casualties would have been infinitely lower. Israel accepted -- Hamas said no. Kerry goes over and then he negotiates in Paris with who? Qatar and Turkey [Hamas supporters] and returns essentially as the lawyer for Hamas and hands Israel a proposition that is so outrageous that the Cabinet votes 19-0 against it. Israeli Cabinets have never voted 19-0 on whether the sun rises in the east. It was unbelievable. It would have given Hamas all of its demands," Krauthammer concluded. ~~~~~ Danny Danon, former Israeli deputy defense minister, told CNN's Wolf Blitzer the Kerry plan was "an insult for us. I think what Secretary Kerry did last week was a mistake. It put Israel and Hamas on the same level. It is like I would tell you that the US and al-Qaida are on the same level." And the Jerusalem Post reports that Israeli Justice Minister Tzipi Livni said she told Kerry his proposal was "completely unacceptable" and "would strengthen extremists in the region." ~~~~~ Israel's goals in engaging Hamas militarily are modest -- destruction of the Hamas tunnels and demilitarization of Gaza leading to long-term peace between Palestine and Israel. Regarding the possibility of a ceasefire, Mark Regev, spokesman for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, said Tuesday that the "ball is in Hamas' court." Regev told CNN that Israel is "ready for a period of sustained peace and security" but repeated several times that Hamas has consistently rejected truces, as well as rejecting an Egyptian initiative for a ceasefire. In Washington, Kerry defended the Obama administration's efforts to seek a ceasefire, saying that Netanyahu "consistently said he would embrace a ceasefire that permits Israel to protect itself against the tunnels" used by Palestinian militants in Gaza -- which is not quite Israel's position. It wants the tunnels destroyed so that Israelis can feel safe in their homes and so the Israeli military will not be killed or kidnapped on their own bases. Earlier Tuesday, a senior Israeli official told CNN that Israel is "prepared for a ceasefire" but no agreement had been reached. The official Palestinian news agency WAFA reported that Palestinian West Bank leadership was offering a 24-hour truce, which could be extended to 72 hours, and that the idea had support from Hamas and Islamic Jihad, another militant group in Gaza. BUT, in their latest refusal to seek a cessation of hostilities leading to negotiations, Sami Abu Zuhri, a Hamas spokesman in Gaza, said the WAFA report was not true and "not related to the resistance," which "speaks for itself." "When we get guarantees from the Zionists for an international mediation regarding a humanitarian pause, then we can consider it." ~~~~~ If Israel's goals are rather simple and would lead to Israeli infrastructure and economic projects to help Gaza residents recover from Hamas occupation, the goals of Hamas are more far-reaching and sinister. Hamas seeks the destruction of Israel, a goal written into its founding document. Because Hamas knows it cannot defeat Israel militarily, it seeks Israel's destruction by other means -- *Terrorist attacks that are so ferocious that Israelis will abandon their country - not likely. *Scaling up of violence against Israel using Gaza Palestinians as shields so that Israel cannot legitimately defend itself without being condemned for killing ever more civilians. Hamas believes the destruction of Israel justifies this. *An end to the blockade and a release of all Palestinian prisoners held by Israel. These goals are more realistic and would undoubtedly be settled in a full negotiation. ~~~~ Dear readers, Michael Oren, former Israeli Ambassador to the United States, recently said that Hamas is engaging in a public relations war. Americans should identify with that -- Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan. And if we combine the Hamas PR war with the analysis often given by experts on Palestine and Hamas - that Hamas is losing support among Arabs, that it needs money and weapons and munitions (Hamas is again trying to buy rockets and other equipment from North Korea), that it is itself losing another PR war, against the West Bank PLO and Palestinian President Abbas - then we must realize that Hamas is in a podition where it sees little to lose by attacking Israel. It must also make us realize that active support of Israel is critical. Whenever and however. No contributions or votes for anyone who tries to find reasons to help Hamas. There is no excuse to smoothe over terrorist actions or goals in a false effort to be "balanced." Support Israel and you support America's ideals.

Monday, July 28, 2014

The West Cannot Avoid Jihadist Terrorism - They Must Defeat It Now

Americans are now so disappointed with President Obama that, if they could vote in the 2012 election all over again, they'd overwhelmingly vote for former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney. That's just one finding in a negative CNN poll just released, which shows Romney beating Obama in a 2012 election rematch by a huge nine-point margin, 53% to 44%. That's a greater spread than CNN found in a November 2013 survey that showed Romney winning a re-vote, 49% to 45%. Two years ago, Obama actually won re-election with about 51% of the vote. Of course, the poll changes nothing. But, the finding comes as foreign and domestic crises have sent Obama's approval rating tumbling to 40% in recent Gallup polls. And, the CNN survey gives a record-low 46% agreement when respondents were asked if Obama "shares [their] values," while only 49% say he is "sincere in what he says," also a record-low. ~~~~~ One major reason Americans are so fed up with Presidebt Obama is his absence in the world - a total lack of engagement in, or expression of, world leadership or support for allies and against terrorists and tyrants. One obvious example is Russian President Vladimir Putin's aggression against Ukraine. Senator Lindsey Graham said on US TV Sunday that Putin is beating the United States by bluffing : "He's playing a poker game with a pair of 2's and winning." Senator Graham noted that President Obama's leadership is not held in high regard by Putin or other enemies, and it is hurting not only America, but the world. Graham said : "What we've learned from these changing times is that without American leadership the world disintegrates pretty rapidly. Russia is more aggressive, not less. The sanctions clearly are not working. Hamas is demanding open borders in Israel. America is not responding to threats throughout the world." Graham expressed special concern for American allies such as Israel and Ukraine : "Passive responses to naked aggression all over the world is our foreign policy," Graham said, adding that Europeans can't lead without the United States setting the standard, describing the European Union as "a dysfunctional political organization." Graham said that if he were President, he would ask Congress for more sanctions on Russia, including personal sanctions on Putin, and he would ask for money to equip and train the Ukrainian military. He also said he would condemn the UN human rights report that holds Israel responsible for its current fight with Hamas in Gaza. "The UN human rights report is a joke," Senator Graham said. "The UN is becoming more anti- Israeli, anti-Semitic." ~~~~~ Senator Graham might have added that the entire Middle East and north Africa are being overrrun by al-Qaida affiliates, mostly Boko Haram and ISIS. So far, Obama has sent American troops to guard the US embassy and study the situation in Iraq - giving the murderous islamist ISIS time and space to take the central third of the country, just as his do-nothing policy toward the orignal Syrian rebels has led to the same ISIS ascendancy in Syria. He has said he will continue his plan to withdraw all troops from Afghanistan despite US and allied fears that this will lead to another collapse like that now underway in Iraq and will certainly lead to a Taliban resurgence crushing human rights. Obama's refusal to unequivocally support the post-Qadaffi Libyan government has encouraged tribal war and led to the Benghazi massacre. His refusal to aid the Egyptian military's determined efforts to drive out the jihadist terrorist Moslem Brotherhood - Obama even withdrew significant military aid - has left America as an onlooker instead of a decision leader in the Middle East, not only in Egypt, which is the most influential country in the region along with Saudi Arabia, it also has left Israel to fend for itself with its Arab neighbors. Obama's Israel diplomacy seems largely limited to asking Israel to announce a ceasefire and continue to submit to the terrorist acts of Hamas, whose goal is the extermination of Israel and its Jewish citizens. ~~~~~ Are these exaggerations? Here is the latest ISIS atrocity on Syria. The London Daily Mail reported yesterday that islamist militants have apparently beheaded dozens of soldiers at a Syrian army base and mounted their heads on poles. According to the Daily Mail, extremists from the group "Islamic State," previously known as ISIS, seized the base in the northern province of Raqqa, killing more than 85 soldiers and leaving 200 unaccounted for. The Syrian Human Rights Observatory said at least 50 of the soldiers had been executed - many of them beheaded - as horrifying videos began circulating online which appear to show the bodies. The video, which has been independently verified by the Associated Press and the Iranian Press TV, has a voiceover by one of the militants as several decapitated heads are shown mounted on poles on top of a fence. At least two of the bodies at the Division 17 al-Assad army base were crucified, according to the AP, which said the video appeared to be genuine. Other photographs posted on jihadist social media showed fighters inside the military base in control of several tanks, trucks and ammunition boxes. In one photo, extremist militants raised the black flag of the Islamic State above a building. In another, ISIS fighters are shown apparently inside Division 17 living quarters burning a portrait of President Bashar al-Assad. Press TV, Iran, also gave the information that 50 soldier's of Syria's Division 17 were beheaded and their heads put on poles, after bring ambushed. The ISIS jihadists, accordong to Press TV, summarily executed most of the soldiers after their capture. The assault in Raqqa province, the jihadists' Euphrates valley stronghold, came amid their fiercest assault yet on Damascus-held territory. The deaths added to the 74 already killed in the offensive across the north and northeast, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said on Friday : "At least 50 soldiers were ambushed, some of them were killed in fighting but most of them were beheaded," Observatory director Rami Abdel Rahman said. ISIS militants claimed the toll was as high as 75. ----- Dear readers - especially in Europe and America - to turn a phrase, you can hide but you cannot run far enough or fast enough to avoid jihadist terrorism. You must stand and fight -- if not now in their territories while you are still relatively in control, then later when it will be infinitely more difficult to eradicate them from your own streets and countrysides.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Hamas Tunnels, Israeli Determination and Obama-Kerry Wrongheadedness

While Secretary of State John Kerry works with Egypt to try to extend a humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza, let's examine the root of Israel's need to enter Gaza militarily. The Tunnels. Here is a report published by the Jerusalem Post from interviews with a member of an elite Israeli commando unit operating in Gaza. It outlines Israel's problem. ~~~~~ The elite Israeli unit, Maglan, operates behind enemy lines in Gaza and has attacked dozens of terrorist cells that fired on the IDF, destroyed areas used to launch rockets at Israel, and killed and injured terrorists. The senior unit source described how members have targeted Hamas gunmen waiting to ambush IDF Ground Forces. It has detected and destroyed forward Hamas posts and rocket launchers, detected a cross-border underground attack tunnel leading into Israel from Gaza, and found 20 bomb-laden, booby-trapped homes in Gaza. The unit also uncovered a large quantity of weapons and enemy intelligence files in raids. The source said the unit is operating in a heavily built up area, characterized by residential buildings and tunnels. Hamas has planted its military assets deep inside the fabric of Gazan civilian life, he said. "Hamas operatives and area commanders, as well as their rocket cell members, keep one part of their home for normal family life. A second part of the home is the command center, or the start of a tunnel. Daily life and military infrastructure are totally interwoven. We must overcome the challenge of differentiating between Hamas and the civilian population." The source added that in recent days, demoralization has washed over Hamas's combat battalions. "They simply escape, leaving behind weapons and suicide bomb vests that were laid out for battle. This morning we stormed a position, and they just weren't there. I don't see a determined enemy. We have encountered stronger pockets of fighting in the past. But now, I would not give them a high grade for fighting spirit." The source talked about the Hamas tunnel network that begins a few kilometers away from the Israeli border and passes under the frontier, the source said, in order to enable dozens of terrorists to infiltrate Israel. In response, the IDF has used a wide array of firepower and ground units to tackle the challenge, employing rapid maneuvers to "shatter the enemy and deny it freedom of operation in closed areas, where it is based,We move in as quickly as possible, engage in close combat and prevent the enemy from using its tunnels to enter our territory." He said the Maglan unit has seized large numbers of weapons, suicide bomb belts, and projectile launchers in recent raids. "Hamas has turned tunneling into a national profession. They lean on highly-skilled engineers to do this. We're dealing with all of these threats through close-range combat," the source added. Working with the Artillery Corps, the infantry brigades, and the air force, the source said the Maglan unit is helping to tear apart Hamas's infrastructure. Hamas has built "defensive layers around the tunnels. They have attack positions in mosques, in the homes of operatives, and tunnels that allow terrorists to approach our forces. That requires very accurate and sometimes aggressive counter-measures by us. We understand that if we do not deal with these threats, they will come to our home front. If you talk to members of our unit, it is clear to all of us that we don't take care of this, if we don't destroy these threats and thwart them, they will reach us in a much more aggressive way, and they will harm Israeli civilians and soldiers." Additionally, the source said, it is "impossible" to demolish the threats via long-range firepower. Only a ground offensive that reaches the tunnel shafts can get the job done, he said, adding, "This shows that despite intelligence, there is no alternative to getting there and destroying targets from up close." Hamas has adapted well to Israel's air power by going underground, but "it does not know how to deal with ground units that are storming its assets. We have the upper hand, and this is showing results. I have not entered one civilian home that did not have weapons, suicide belts, or booby traps in it. You can see the booby traps from the outside," the source said. Any home found to be containing women and children leads to an immediate halt of the raid, he added. "We hold our fire, there's no question. We don't take chances with children and women. We allow them to leave, and then continue the raid. That's who we are, and this is the source of our strength," he added. ~~~~~ We might well ask why Israeli technology has not solved the tunnel problem. Yeshiva World News reports that former IDF Major-General Yitzchak Yisrael, a noted expert on the tunnels, told Israeli TV that the IDF has been working for years on addressing the tunnel issue and he is optimistic that in a year to two the development of the solution will be complete. He adds the low tech tunnels pose a problem to countries around the world and they date back to Vietnam and the Korean War, and the US like Israel does not have a definitive solution to this day. ~~~~~ The Washington-based Daily Caller reports that Israel has found tunnels with bomb-rigged shafts located directly under Israeli kindergartens. The intended results are clear - detonation would mean collapse of the buildings and wholesale murder of the little children within them. Sedatives, hypodermics and piles of handcuffs found in tunnel after tunnel clearly indicate Hamas’ intent to abduct Israeli civilians. The Daily Caller comments : " The world yawns at another war crime." Importantly, the tunnel know-how has already spread to Hezbollah, al Qaida, ISIS, Iran, Iraq, Syria, Libya and Lebanon - and to the US-Mexico border areas. Hamas and its jihadist affiliates threaten every Arab state, many South American states, and having joined the Latin drug cartels, even the United States itself. The Daily Caller points out that Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates unprecedentedly support Israel’s efforts to defeat Hamas. ~~~~~ Dear readers, why have Kerry and the Obama administration insisted upon concluding an immediate cease-fire when everyone else seems to know that it would be better to dismantle Hamas? Only the state sponsors of Hamas - Qatar and Turkey - disagree. Qatar is the bankroller. Turkey is the Hamas representative in the West. The tunnels must be found and destroyed not ‘just’ because they constitute a physical danger to Israel and thousands of Israelis. They must be located and destroyed, and Hamas’s capacity to rebuild them eliminated, because the very idea, the capability they represent, makes normal life impossible in many places in the world. And, every Purchase Order for concrete and reinforcing steel probably has an UNRWA stamp on it. The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East supplies a lot of what enters Gaza. It has been supporting Palestinian refugees since 1949 - and many critics say it is past time to cut them loose so that they can learn to support themselves and their communities. UNRWA has an annual budget of $1.2 billion, and US taxpayers are its biggest funder - at $239 million. And it was reported that Secretary Kerry, certainly on Obama's order, has offered Hamas an additional $47 million to help address the “humanitarian” situation in Gaza. Isn't it interesting that Obama and Kerry always wrongheadedly find a way to turn conflict into humanitarian payments to the aggressor.

Friday, July 25, 2014

President Obama - Uninterested and Defiant

Yesterday, the Wall Street Journal called President Barack Obama the "most provincial US President in at least a century,....despite being the leader of the free world he is ignoring major international crises that will only escalate further in the final two years of his presidency." In a column written by Daniel Henninger under the headline "Obama To World: Drop Dead," the WSJ pounded Obama for his weak response toward Russia following the shooting down of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 and criticized him for ignoring multiple escalating conflicts throughout the world, instead focusing on fundraising and domestic Democratic politics. "As the world burns, the President spent this week fiddling at fundraisers in the living rooms of five Democratic Party fat cats in Seattle, San Francisco and Los Angeles," in the words of Henninger, the WSJ's deputy editorial page editor. In addition, Henninger suggested the President has been virtually absent on the escalating violence between Israel and Hamas, appears to be ignoring the takeover of ISIS in Iraq and its cleansing of Christians, has abandoned the civil war in Syria and the terrorist activities of Boko Haram in Nigeria. Henninger said : "Here's what it means. It means that 'the situation,' as the White House routinely euphemizes all the world's chaos, is going to get worse. It means in the next two years many more people are going to die, and not necessarily in the places where they are dying now. Why should it stop?" He added that Obama has "no interest" beyond consolidating political and electoral power inside the US. "Not even the White House of Lyndon Johnson, the ultimate pol, was so purely politicized," he wrote. "The fundraising is a frantic effort to protect this new Democratic voter machine. The world doesn't vote, so the world doesn't matter. Unless, of course, the American people in November decide that a world defined by events like Flight MH17 does matter," Henninger concluded. ~~~~~ Well, Ameticans seem to have already decided that it does matter. Today, one in every three Americans agree with former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin’s call for President Obama to be impeached. Palin called for impeachment for Obama's "purposeful dereliction of duty" in allowing thousands of illegal immigrants from Central America into the country. A new CNN/ORC International poll released Friday also reveals that half of all Americans think Obama has excessively expanded the powers of the presidency -- 48%, think Obama has "gone too far" in using the power of the presidency and executive branch, ignoring Congress, but 34% said he had it "about right" while 14% felt he has not gone far enough. In the poll, 33% of Americans say Obama should be impeached and removed from office while 65% said that he should not face impeachment. Looking at party divisions, 57% of Republicans and 35% of independents think Obama should be impeached, while 13% of Democrats feel that way. "Anti-impeachment sentiment is roughly where it was for past presidents – 67% opposed Bill Clinton's impeachment in September 1998, and 69% opposed impeaching George W. Bush when a few Democrats began talking about it in 2006." Only two US Presidents, Andrew Johnson in 1868 and Bill Clinton in 1998, were impeached by the House. Both were acquitted in the Senate, where a two-thirds vote is necessary to convict and remove a President from office. The CNN poll showed that nearly four out of five Americans, 79%, feel that impeachment should only occur if there is evidence that the President has committed a serious crime such as treason and bribery. But nearly one in five Americans, 18 %, think a President should be impeached to "express dissatisfaction" with his policies. House Speaker John Boehner has announced that he plans to sue the President for violating the Constitution by delaying the Obamacare employer mandate without approval from Congress. But, by a margin of 57% to 41%, Americans do not support such a lawsuit. This week, the House Rules Committee voted along party lines supporting a resolution authorizing the lawsuit, which is expected to be approved by the House next week. ~~~~~ A top White House advisor reacted to the CNN poll, saying on Friday that it is possible that Republicans might try to impeach President Obama over his go-it-alone immigration strategy. Dan Pfeiffer, one of Obama's longest-serving Senior Advisors, told reporters that the executive actions Obama will approve at the end of the summer aimed at tackling illegal immigration will likely generate Republican anger. Pfeiffer, speaking at a reporters' breakfast organized by the Christian Science Monitor, said he could easily see Republicans moving to impeachment proceedings to try to remove Obama from power in retaliation for the immigration orders he is expected to unveil by the end of the summer. "The President acting on immigration reform will certainly up the likelihood that they would contemplate impeachment," he said. He said it would be "foolish to discount the possibility" that Republicans will at least consider it. Many Republicans, however, see the GOP plan for a lawsuit to be aimed at restraining conservatives from demanding Obama's impeachment, knowing a move that strong could backfire as the GOP seeks to take over the Senate in the November congressional elections. A lawsuit would have far less impact than impeachment because it would be a legal proceeding in federal court to get a ruling on whether Obama went farther than the Constitution allows. Impeachment would be aimed at removing him from office, a far more dramatic course of action that is rarely used. Beyond his goal of trying to making changes to US immigration policy, Obama is struggling to contain a crisis on the Texas border with Mexico where tens of thousands of children have surged across in recent months, overwhelming border resources. Pfeiffer said the White House takes impeachment "very seriously." Pfeiffer said, however, that the lawsuit proposed by Speaker John Boehner and now being debated in the House "won't have an impact on how the President uses his executive authority. In fact, he said the threat of lawsuits validates the conclusion that Obama's executive actions are "far from the small ball that some have accused it of being." ~~~~~ Dear readers, the Wall Street Journal's view of the President's performance and the CNN poll reflect the views of the American people. The latest Fox News poll showed that 56% of Americans disapprove of Obama's performance on foreign policy, compared to 36% who approve. Earlier this month, a Quinnipiac University poll found that voters gave the President the worst grade ever on foreign policy, with a disapproval rating of 52%. Just 40% of those surveyed approved of his approach to foreign affairs. And a June WSJ/ NBC poll found that Obama had a 57% disapproval rating for his handling of foreign policy. The CNN poll this week also found the President's approval rating - and specifically, views on his ability to manage the government - to stand at 42%, in keeping with most major national poll taken in the last six months. There is a real constitutional crisis brewing in the United States. Barack Obama is seen as uninterested in doing his job and completely inept on those occasions when he actually tries to do it. Instead of bringing in Democrats with the stature to help him make peace with Americans and put him on the proper course to do his job competently, Obama has decided to devote himself to Denocratic political matters, leaving his White House senior staff alone to "hunker down" in a fashion reminiscent of the Nixon White House when it came under seige. That Senior Advisor Pfeiffer would suggest that the White House expects an attempt at impeachment and couples that with the defiant remark that Obama will deliberately announce an immigration policy sure to lead to an impeachment attenpt is inexplicable either in political or management terms. One is tempted to.conclude that Barack Obama is actively seeking a constitutional confrontation. Why? Perhaps he believes that he would win -- or losing, that his coalition would take to the streets to save him by bringing down the American Constitution. That seems far-fetched, to say the least. But other explanations are hard to find. Unless we are dealing with a President who is truly psychologically unstable. Just consider that the White House said this evening that it has no details about Secretary of State Kerry's current actions in the Gaza-Israeli crisis. Who, if anyone, is in charge of American foreign policy? It does not appear to be President Obama. It is a sad and dangerous time for America.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Obama the Fundraiser Is an AWOL President

President Obama is on the west coast raising campaign finds for the Democratic Party and its candidates. Obama's performance rating is at a negative 55%, with only 42% approving of his performance as president. Democrats and Republicans, and many in the US media, are critical of Obama's seeming inattention to the multiple crises in the world that he could be central in solving if he were at the White House directing US diplomatic efforts. Instead, for the third time in three weeks, Obama has chosen political fundraising over bringing his unique office to bear on the world's many serious crises, which are summarized here. ~~~~~ *US Secretary of State John Kerry is in Cairo and Jerusalem, lending support to Egyptian efforts to broker a ceasefire in the latest bloody Israel-Hamas conflict in Gaza. At least 680 Palestinians and 35 Israelis have lost their lives so far in a confrontation that shows few signs of ending. Kerry reported progress in indirect negotiations and Hamas political leader Khaled Meshaal called for a temporary truce to allow humanitarian relief into Gaza. But Meshaal said Hamas would keep fighting Israel and would not agree to a more lasting ceasefire without a full negotiation of terms : “We need the calm for a few hours to evacuate the wounded and assist in the relief. This means a real truce backed by a real relief program offered to the people of Gaza,” But, Meshaal insisted that there will be no permanent ceasefire until Israel stops the Gaza blockade and agrees to full terms. ~~~ *Fears are mounting that if the Egypt-Kerry effort fails to bring a ceasefire, other jihadist groups will join the fight against Israel, notably Hezbollah, now heavily engaged in Syria helping the al-Assad regime. Jihadist cleric al-Maqdisi is reported to have said : “True, we are fighting in Syria, but our heart yearns to arrive and fight the sons and brothers of the apes and pigs [the Jews].” The jihadist cleric said Gazans must be patient and wait for either victory or martyrdom, and that Allah will soon send “extraordinary soldiers" who will fight and defeat the Jews. ~~~ *The FAA has lifted its ban on air travel to Israel by US carriers, a ban that many Americans saw as a commercial attack on Israel and a large boost to Hamas, which now has another means of harassing Israel - the indiscriminate firing of rockets toward Tel Aviv's Ben Gurion Airport, a criminal violation of civilian airspace that Obama has yet to criticize or condemn. ~~~ *Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk and his Cabinet announced today their resignation. They will remain in place as an acting government until elections in October. Yatsenyuk said : "I announce my resignation after the collapse of the coalition and the blocking of government initiatives," Ukrainian political experts said they expected the resignation, which could not come at a worse time as Ukraine remains embroiled in a war with pro-Russia separatists trained, armed and encouraged by Russia. Obama seems to have left the Urkaine crisis off his To-Do list. ~~~ *The pro-Russia separatists shot down Malaysian Airlines flight MH-17, killing 298 people, where looting continues and 100 bodies remain unaccounted for at the crash site still controlled by separatists. And just yesterday missiles fired from Russia, as reported by Ukraine, shot down two Ukraine fighter jets, bringing the total of military planes shot down by separatists to at least six. ~~~ *Meanwhile, Russian President Vladimir Putin remains determined to hold onto east Ukraine, and according to Ukraine and US military intelligence monitoring, continues to send military supplies and equipment into Ukraine, despite his statements calling for a ceasefire. ~~~ *A double car bomb exploded in a central Baghdad commercial street, killing 21 and wounding 33. Earlier in the day, Iraqi lawmakers elected veteran Kurdish politician Fouad Massoum as the nation's new president, as they struggle to form a new government amid the militant blitz that has engulfed much of northern and western Iraq, leaving Iraq in tatters. ~~~ *And there are also : Afghanistan, where a total withdrawal of US troops is increasingly seen as leading to a future Taliban or ISIL-led takeover. Syria, where the rebels remain under-supported and ISIL is in control of large areas in the rebel strongholds in the north. Iran, where nuclear disarmament talks are stalled, except for Obama's agreement to release more millions of dollars to Iran to keep them at the negotiating table. And we have not even mentioned the US crises - the border crisis and Obama's seeming decision to leave the mess to border state Governors and their National Guards, Obamacare needing serious modification if it is to survive (not my preference), the Benghazi and IRS scandals, and unemployment. ~~~~~ Dear readers, the White House says the President is always available, wherever he may be. That is just not good enough. He needs to be in Washington doing his job, because nobody else can do it for him. If he thinks that raising money will save the Democratc majority in the Senate in November, he is wrong. His political galivanting will make even more Americans turn against him, seeking stability and leadership from a GOP Congress - to fill the vacuum left by an AWOL President Obama.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

America Stands with Ukraine and Israel

I went to the 75th birthday party of a good friend today. She hosts her own party every year so she can have all her friends around her on her special day. During the afternoon, I talked with another friend, a Dutch woman, and her husband, who is also Dutch. I offered my sympathy for the suffering their country is enduring. She told me she can't watch the TV coverage of MH17 anymore. It is simply too painful. The Dutch are very reserved stoic people and this is extremely difficult for them. I had tears in my eyes when she thanked America for what we're doing to try to bring Ukraine under control. She also thanked President Obama for going to the Dutch Embassy in Washington to sign the book of condolences and offer his sympathy and support. It was a brief moment. We changed the subject to avoid more pain. ~~~~~ But, that moment once again made me realize that sometimes we Americans forget what we mean to the world. America has a deepfelt sense of justice and fairplay and responsibility for those who are weak and whose causes are honorable although ignored. That's why I so often call on our leaders to stand up and to live up to our national ideals. We don't have time to regroup or recover from our worldwide work. We are called to serve. We are called to protect. We are called to lead. That burden may not be put down and it may not be avoided. ~~~~~ And so the world looks to America -- whether it's a Dutch friend or 30,000 Israelis filling streets in Jerusalem to honor one fallen American Jewish soldier and thereby offer thanks to the one country that has never and will never abandon Israel and the Jewish people. America must stand tall. Without us, the world would soon be one huge plane crash site, one grotesque killing field where Hamas hides behind innocent Moslem civilians in order to kill Jews and destroy Israel, where Vladimir Putin continues again today to authorize and condone the newest SAM downing of Ukraine military airplanrs. ~~~~~ Dear readers, Ernest Hemingway once wrote to a woman he loved, "One thing you must know, love is infinitely more durable than hatred." Hemingway was the human voice of war. In 1940, he wrote about World War I : "Today is only one day in all the days that will ever be. But what will happen in all the other days that ever come can depend on what you do today." Those words ring true today and if love survives hatred, and I know it does, then America has been given the task of ridding the world hatred. If we embrace our task, we will save not only ourselves but everyone.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Why Is Palestine/Hamas Being Treated Better than Russia/Putin?

There are some striking similarities and differences between what is happening in Ukraine and Israel. ~~~~~ SIMILARITIES : *Both Ukraine and Israel are innocent nations that have been attacked by aggressive foreign terrorist groups : pro-Russian separatists and Hamas (joined today by Hezbollah in Lebanon, putting Israel on a two-front status). *Both Ukraine and Israel have had their territory invaded by hostile neighbors : Russia taking Crimea and fomenting war in east Ukraine because Russia wants Ukraine as a buffer against NATO and Europe, and Hamas, the part of Palestine that controls Gaza and wants to destroy Israel, because of its hatred of the Jewish people. *Both Ukraine and Israel have mustered their military to defend their people and territory against invaders. *Both Ukraine and Israel have had to attack in areas where the hostile forces are using civilians as shields. *Both Ukraine and Israel have asked for ceasefires and negotiations which have been routinely rejected by the hostile invaders, Russia and Hamas.~~~~~ DIFFERENCES : *The US and most of Europe have imposed severe sanctions against Russia, while the US, the UN, Europe and Middle East countries continue to pay millions of dollars to support Palestine, knowing that some of these payments fund Hamas. *The UN Security Council has condemned the actions of Russia's separatist forces, while for many years only the US veto has kept the UN Security Council from condemning Israel. *The world's governments and media have been quick to condemn the shooting down of a commercial plane by pro-Russia separatists using Surface-to-Air Missiles provided by Russia, but except for the US and Britain, no one, while reporting the facts, has condemned Hamas for firing more than 2,000 rockets into Israel in the past 10 days or condemned Hamas for using tunnel warfare to invade Israel to kill and kidnap Israelis. ~~~~~ Dear readers, these comparisons and differences are troubling and raise questions of conscience for every human being. MY CONCLUSIONS : Does the world simply see European hostilities and deaths as more important than those in the Middle East. If we add up Israel, Syria and Iraq, the answer seems to be "yes." Does Israel - that has built the capability to defend itself and uses that capability - face condemnation for not allowing its people to be slaughtered by jihadist terrorists? The answer seems to be "yes." Does the world tolerate any Palestinian/Hamas atrocity while demanding docile acceptance of these atrocities by Israel. The answer seems to be "yes." Have the actions of the world and its representative body, the UN, taught Palestine and its patrons that they are preferred and may continue to attempt to destroy Israel. The answer seems to be "yes." I do not want to ask the obvious next question -- is the world still largely anti-Semitic. The answer seems to be "yes," except for America, and despite the efforts of France and Germany to obliterate this bloody stain on Europe's past. We need to wake up. Israel is the nation that brings brotherhood and value to the world. Hamas brings ethnic hatred, terrorism and an utter lack of concern for human values. The world has rightly decided to make Russia conform to civilized norms. This choice is correct. Now, it is time for the world to decide to make Palestine and its patrons conform to civilized norms. This choice will also be correct.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Vladimir Putin - President or Terrorist?

The world condemns the terrorist downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 in eastern Ukraine. Representative Mike Rogers, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said the tragedy should put an end to Russian President Vladimir Putin's gamesmanship in the region : "This certainly eliminates Putin's plausible deniability. And he's been operating that way in Ukraine since the beginning of this conflict and him taking Crimea," Rogers, told "Fox News Sunday." The United States is accumulating hard evidence that pro-Russian separatists shot down the plane, believing it to be a Ukrainian military cargo jet. Rogers said the missile system had to have been in Russian hands "at least at some point," as it would have required training and maintenance. "These things are delicate, sophisticated and highly lethal, as we've seen," Rogers said, adding that while he welcomes sanctions, he would like to see Obama rally Europe to join him. The British and Dutch prime ministers, whose countries had passengers on the downed plane, have announced a willingness to toughen sanctions. But much of Europe buys its natural gas from Russia, creating a difficult diplomatic issue. Rogers said he also said the United States needs to end what he termed its "tepid response" by increasing intelligence cooperation, logistics, and training opportunities for the Ukrainian military. So far, the United States has sent only MREs – meals ready to eat. "That's just not enough," Rogers said. ~~~~~ If Rogers is a Republican, Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein is very much a senior Democrat. Sunday, Feinstein called on Russian President Putin to "man up" and admit his country's role in the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17. "Where is Putin?" Feinstein asked on CNN's "State of the Union." Putin should tell whether the shootdown of the plane by Russian-aligned separatists in eastern Ukraine was a mistake. The United States has said there is clear evidence the rebels shot down the plane, likely mistaking it for a Ukrainian military cargo plane. "Even if it was a mistake," Feinstein said, "it's a horrendous mistake to make. It points out the futility of what's happening in the Ukraine, because there will be repercussions from this." CNN host Candy Crowley pointed out that the United States keeps adding more and more sanctions on Russia over its role in Ukraine, and Putin continues to ignore them. With the shooting of the plane and the deaths of 298 civilians from Europe and other countries, Putin may be in too deep, Crowley said, asking why would he "man up" now? Feinstein answered, "I think the world has to rise up and say, we've had enough of this." Feinstein added that Europe has to come together, led by Germany, to impose further sanctions. While admitting that US-Russian relations are now at Cold War levels, Feinstein said she opposes Republican calls to arm the Ukrainians, as they have been requesting for months, because she thinks the plane downing shows that neither side needs to be in possession of such weapons. "I'm opposed to giving this kind of equipment to anybody," she said. House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Michael McCaul, also appearing on CNN, agreed with Feinstein : "I believe, as you asked Senator Feinstein, that Mr. Putin is returning to a cold war mentality. When I was over there, you could see this nationalistic pride, a sort of resurgence to regain the glory of the old days of the Soviet Empire and so we're seeing that happen with Crimea being annexed." ~~~~~ US Secretary of State John Kerry said on Sunday that the evidence indicates that a Russian missile was used to shoot down Malaysia Airlines flight MH17. British Prime Minister David Cameron said Moscow faced "pariah" status and the threat of further economic sanctions. The Netherlands, whose citizens made up two-thirds of the 298 on the flight, said it was "furious" about the manhandling of corpses strewn over open country and asked Ukraine for help to bring "our people" home. At the biggest crash site, where emergency workers had bagged dozens of bodies on Saturday, on Sunday morning all the body bags had been placed in refrigerated railcars and moved to a nearby town under separatist control. Empty bloodstained military transport stretchers lay by the road, and rescue workers used a crane to move wreckage to reach human remains trapped beneath, as well as a blow torch to cut the cockpit into pieces. A spokesman for Ukraine's Security Council accused the rebels of a cover-up : "The terrorists are doing everything to hide the evidence of the involvement of Russian missiles in the shooting down of that airliner," saying the rebels had taken debris and bodies from the crash site in trucks, tampering with a scene that investigators need to be secure to have a chance of determining what, and who, caused the plane to plunge into the steppe. A pro-Russian separatist leader said items thought to be the plane's "black boxes" were now in rebel hands, although another major complaint is that these recorders were not immediately turned over to international investigators. A separatist leader said today the recorders will be turned over, perhaps Monday night. With Western anger rising at the disrespectful treatment of the bodies by armed separatists controlling the widespread crash sites, officials from the OSCE, the European security body, were able to inspect some of the railcars. The downing of the airliner is becoming a game changer for the crisis in Ukraine. EU ministers may announce a fresh round of sanctions at a meeting of the European Union's Foreign Affairs Council this week, according to a statement from British Prime Minister Cameron's office, issued after telephone calls with French President Francois Hollande and German Chancellor Angela Merkel. "They...agreed that the EU must reconsider its approach to Russia and that foreign ministers should be ready to impose further sanctions on Russia when they meet on Tuesday," the statement said. ~~~~~ Moscow denies involvement in shooting down the airliner, blaming the Ukrainian military. But Washington and its allies say there is mounting evidence that pro-Russian separatists supported by Moscow are responsible. Countering Putin's claim of innocence, Kerry said the US had seen supplies moving into Ukraine from Russia in the last month, including a 150-vehicle convoy of armoured personnel carriers, tanks and rocket launchers given to the separatists. The US had intercepted conversations about the transfer to separatists of the Russian radar-guided SA11 missile system it blames for the downing of the Boeing 777, Kerry told CNN : "It's pretty clear that this is a system that was transferred from Russia." While Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko issued a renewed appeal for backing from the international community, some European nations, concerned about their trade links with Russia, have been lukewarm about confronting Moscow. The United Nations Security Council has today passed a resolution to condemn the attack, demand access to the crash sites and call on states in the region to cooperate with an international investigation. It could be put to a vote as early as Monday. President Obama said the disaster showed it was time to end the Ukraine conflict. Germany called it Moscow' last chance to cooperate. European powers seemed to swing behind Washington's belief that Russia's separatist allies were to blame. That might speed new sanctions on Moscow. Fighting, meanwhile, continued. Ukrainian positions were fired on twice from across the border with Russia overnight, the Ukrainian armed forces said on Sunday - mortar attacks from the direction of Russia aimed at Ukrainian posts recorded just after midnight and again at 2 a.m. local time. ~~~~~ Dear readers, so far, the US and Europe have decried and demanded. They have imposed sanctions that could be tougher if Europe agreed. But, there is no plan. No set of demands to be met with specific penalties for non-compliance. To force Putin to cooperate and to make his separatist pawns cooperate with all international investigations. To hand over all debris, MH17 recorders, bodies and body parts to them. To force Putin to act immediately to stop arming and training the separatists and to withdraw all Russians and equipment from Ukraine. The plan must come from a US President firm in his resolve and with America's allies ranged behind him because he has clearly set out his plan. The penalties? Stepwise : Close Russia to international air traffic. Refuse to let Russian planes, including diplomatic planes unless granted passage for specific reasons, land anywhere in allied territories. Freeze ALL Russian assets in all allied banks. Move NATO forces to Ukraine borders. Suspend Russia's veto as a permanent member of the UN Security Council. Gear up to supply US gas to Europe so that Russia loses this income when winter arrives. Treat Putin like the terrorist he has become.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Is the Arab World Allowing Hamas to Self-Destruct?

The latest Israeli-Hamas hostilities have been going on for twelve days. We've had hourly TV reports of Israeli aerial attacks on Hamas military targets in Gaza and Hamas rockets fired into Israeli cities. There's no need to review events. But what is lacking in the TV coverage is an explanation of what Hamas is. Hamas was founded to 'liberate Palestine from Israeli occupation' and to establish an Islamic state in the area that is now Israel, the West Bank, and the Gaza Strip. However, because of its actions, Hamas has been designated as a terrorist organization by Israel and many Western and non-Western governments, including the United States, Canada, the European Union, Egypt and Japan. Other states, including Iran, Russia, Turkey,China and many Arab nations do not. Since 2007, Hamas has governed the Gaza Strip, after it won a majority of seats in the Palestinian Parliament in the 2006 elections and defeated the Fatah political organization in a series of violent clashes. ~~~~~ Fatah, formerly the Palestinian National Liberation Movement, is a leading Palestinian political party and the largest faction of the confederated multi-party Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO). Fatah is generally considered to have had a strong involvement in what its factions call the Palestine revolutionary struggle from its inception. Fatah has in the past - and still does - maintain militarist terrorist groups that have attacked Israel and Jewish interests and sites, especially in Europe. It has since its inception been dedicated to Palestinian nationalism and for many years overtly refused to recognize the existence of Israel. Yasser Arafat became the founding head of Fatah in the period from 1965 to 1969, a year in which it recorded 2,432 terrorist attacks on Israel. Fatah remained identified with the leadership of Arafat until his death in 2004. Since Arafat's death, factionalism within the ideologically divided political party has become apparent. And a Hamas legislative victory in 2006 led to a split between the two main Palestinian political parties/militarist groups, with Fatah retaining control of the Palestinian National Authority in the West Bank and Hamas taking control of Gaza. In April 2011, officials from Hamas and Fatah announced that both parties had reached an initial deal to unify into one government, with plans for elections to be held in 2012. While elections have not taken place, Fatah leader and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas announced in June 2014 that Fatah and Hamas had formed a government of national unity under Abbas' leadership. Fatah and Abbas are now marginally less hostile to Israel, recognizing that a two-state solution to the Palestine-Israel problem is indicated and agreeing to recognize Israel as part of a permanent agreement. As a requirement of its joining the governmrnt of Palestinian unity, Hamas was forced to agree to the recognition of Israel as part of a permanent two-state settlement. According to Israeli news reports quoting Fatah leader Abbas, as a condition of joining the PLO, Khaled Meshaal, Hamas's political bureau chief, agreed to discontinue the "armed struggle" against Israel and accept Palestinian statehood within the 1967 borders, alongside Israel. But, as recently as July 2009, Khaled Meshaal gave details of his position -- Hamas was willing to cooperate with "a resolution to the Arab-Israeli conflict which included a Palestinian state based on 1967 borders," provided that Palestinian refugees hold the right to return to Israel and that East Jerusalem become Palestine's capital. And this year - in 2014 - Mousa Mohammed Abu Marzook, deputy chairman of Hamas political bureau, said that "Hamas will not recognize Israel", adding "this is a red line that cannot be crossed." In addition, the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, the Hamas affiliated military wing, has an ongoing history of launching attacks on Israel, against both civilian and military targets. Attacks on civilian targets have included rocket attacks and suicide bombings. Attacks on military targets have included small-arms fire and rocket and mortar attacks. ~~~~~ Both Fatah and Hamas have always been reliant on international donors for their survival. In the early years, Saudi Arabia supported Hamas financially, undoubtedly partly because Hamas is a sunni Moslem group. This has stopped but private Saudi donors are reportedly still contributing to Hamas. Today, Iran is the chief Hamas contributor, both financially and with the provision of military resources. The PLO/Fatah group is supported by international humanitarian organizations and countries, including the US. This provides some leverage, but not enough, because Fatah and its President Abbas continue to refuse to begin new peace talks until Israel agrees to returning to the pre-1967 war borders, something Israel insists should be part of the overall negotiation and agreement. And throughout the Arafat/Fatah - Hamas confrontations over control of the Palestinian governmental machine, much of the Arab world has questioned Israel's right to exist, or if that is accepted, whether Israel should include in its territory the areas taken during the Six Days War in 1967 - the West Bank (where Israeli settlements are a central issue), the Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem (probably the most difficult issue to be decided). Add to this the 2013 UN General Assembly vote that gave Palestine provisional status at the UN - a move that Israel opposed, arguing that this should be part of the peace talk negotiations that create the two-state solution. ~~~~~ We know the recent history. On 12 June 2014, three Israel teenagers were kidnapped and murdered. Israel military initiated an operation in the West Bank to find them (not until June 30 were their bodies found). Israeli authorities have named two Hamas members as prime suspects - Amer Abu Aysha and Marwan Kawasm. The increased tensions soon escalated, and a full military operation began on July 8. Israel has since sent ground forces into Gaza to end the Hamas rocket capability and to destroy tunnels that permit Hamas to enter Israel for terrorist attacks. ~~~~~ Dear readers, if we cut through the history of the conflict that began in earnest in 1948, we come to today's issues that bedevil the long-term peace process. While there has been general reconciliation of Israel with Egypt and Jordan, Israelis and Palestinians have not been able to reach a final peace agreement. The remaining key issues are : mutual recognition, borders, security, water rights, control of East Jerusalem, Palestinian freedom of movement, and resolving Palestinian claims of a right of return for their refugees - all in the midst of a violent conflict in a region rich in historic, cultural and religious significance worldwide. In this intractable situation, the world has looked to Israel to be "reasonable" - perhaps because Fatah and, even more so, Hamas, are not reasonable. A good example of this is the fact that Hamas has launched over 1,300 rockets into Israel since Israel announced its firm intention to end Hamas rocket attack capability, literally forcing Israel into action, and then refusing to agree to two ceasefires that Israel honored. But, the fundamental question is why Hamas would join a Palestine unity government and grudgingly agree to an eventual recognition of Israel's "right to exist" - something Hamas has always rejected - and then harass Israel into action against it. The answer may lie not in Hamas strength, but in its weakness. The Saudi government has abandoned it. Hamas has lost its Egyptian Moslem Brotherhood protector and financial supporter. Abbas has made headway in making his Fatah party become recognized as the 'moderate' Palestiinian voice. Only 35 to 40% of Gaza residents believe Hamas is moving in the right direction to gain peace for Palestine, and many in Gaza hate Hamas, whom they view as their jailors. We could reasonably ask if Hamas sees no alternative to confrontation with Israel. Hamas needs money. Its donors - Iran, China, Russia, private sunni radical donors - may pay Hamas to provoke Israel for ideological and political reasons that for them have little to do with Hamas' own goals. So, Hamas, seeing a world that seems to tolerate its terrorism, may have decided to double down and confront Israel to increase its bank balance. It needs money to meet Gaza public payrolls that are in serious arrears. It needs money to pay its militants. Becoming a carbon copy of Fatah will not provide money. Attacking Israel may. And, we must consider that Israel has endured more than 20 years of Hamas rockets and suicide attacks. It seems logical that Israel would take the opportunity to destroy Hamas' military component because it knows nobody else will do it for them. The relative quiet in the Arab world about the Israeli incursion could mean that they want rid of Hamas, too. It could lead to peace talks that actually move forward.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Vladimir Putin Has Taken Up Residence in a Hellish Place

Dear readers, once again, the world's thoughts and prayers go out to the families and friends of the people who lost their lives on a Malaysia Airlines flight. But, unlike the tragedy last Spring that has still not been explained or the wreckage found, this time we know with horrifying certainty what happened to Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 enroute from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur -- the plane was deliberately hit by a surface to air missile - a SAM that was fired from either eastern Ukraine or close by across the border in Russia. ~~~~~ And we know a lot more. ~~~~~ We know that this senseless act killed 298 people, all non-combatants, whose only "crime" was to board a commercial plane. ~~~~~ We know that the Ukraine government has intercepted and recorded a conversation between Ukrainian pro-Russian separatists and their Russian handlers. The conversation explains that the separatists shot down a commercial plane and that pieces were falling out of the sky. We hear the Russian handlers asking if people's bodies were scattered on the ground. ~~~~~ We know, based on this intercepted and recorded conversation, as well as radar-based confirmation by US authorities that flight MH17 was hit by a SAM, that it was these pro-Russian separatists or Russians who fired the SAM that brought down flight MH17. ~~~~~ And we know that the only country in the region that possesses SAM technology is Russia and so we know that Russian experts either fired the SAM or trained and permitted pro-Russian separatists to possess and fire the SAM. ~~~~~ We know that MH17 was flying on an authorized albeit quasi-warzone route. ~~~~~ And we know that these same pro-Russia separatists are not fully cooperating with international authorities trying to secure the crash site and collect the bodies, that the bodies are beginning to decompose, and that there are unconfirmed reports of looting at the crash site. We also know that some of the victims' bodies have been removed from the crash site by the separatists. ~~~~~ We also know that Russian President Vladimir Putin continues to blame the Ukraine government because it committed the "unpardonable sin" of trying to secure its own territory and negotiate a peace deal with the separatists, who along with their patron, Vladimir Putin, refuse to talk to the Ukraine president about peace. Somehow, in Putin's defective mind, this seems to justify the separatists' murder of 298 innocent people. ~~~~~ And, most disturbing, we know that there are reports that the plane's black box and other recorders have been taken into Russia. The pro-Russia separatists say these devices - vital to understanding exactly what happened to flight MH17 - are still in Ukraine. But they have not been turned over to the Ukraine government, which by international treaty, as the country where the crash occurred, is legally responsible for leading the investigation. Have the recorders been tampered with. We don't know. But until they are in the hands of the official investigation team, the black boxes are a smoking gun pointing to the guilt of Russia, Putin and the rebels. ~~~~~ My dear readers, war crimes have become the routine stuff of daily news. But even in our violent times, the missile downing of a commercial airplane is truly shocking to the sensbilities of normal people. And we can recognize a cover-up when we see it. Taking black boxes, removing bodies from the crash site, tampering with the crash site itself - all these are evidence of a cover-up directed by Putin and carried out by his pro-Russia puppets. And tonight CNN is reporting that the Ukraine government has photographic evidence of a Russian SAM unit on a flatbed truck going across the Russian border to be delivered to the separatists a week before the downing of flight MH17 and being taken back across the border into Russia after the downing -- with one missile missing from its launch tube. It seems very likely that Vladimir Putin has taken up residence in a hellish place that even the USSR seldom occupied.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

A Malaysia Airlines Commercial Flight Shot Down by a Missile over Eastern Ukraine

Dear readers, there is terrible breaking news from eastern Ukraine this evening, where a Malaysia Airlines passenger plane carrying 295 people was shot down on Thursday, Ukrainian officials said. Both the government and the pro-Russia separatists fighting in the region have denied any responsibility for downing the aircraft, which US official sources, including Vice President Biden, confirm was shot down by a missile over the rebel-held village of Hrabove. At least 22 bodies have been recovered at the wreckage site 40 kilometers (25 miles) from the Russian border. The impact area and the burning wreckage - which includes body parts and the belongings of passengers - occupied a wide area. Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko called the downing an act of terrorism and called for an international investigation into the crash. He insisted that his forces did not shoot down the plane. Poroshenko said his country's armed forces did not fire at any aircraft and "are not responsible." Ukraine's security services produced what they said were two intercepted telephone conversations that they said showed rebels were responsible. In the first call, the security services said, rebel commander Igor Bezler tells a Russian military intelligence officer that rebel forces shot down a plane, saying a rocket attack was carried out by a unit of insurgents about 25 kilometers (15 miles) north of the crash site. Neither recording could be independently verified. President Barack Obama called the crash a "terrible tragedy" and talked about it on the phone with Russian President Vladimir Putin. The Kremlin said that "Russian President Putin informed US President Obama of the report from air traffic controllers that the Malaysian plane had crashed on Ukrainian territory.' There are no further details about their call, although lhe White House confirmed the call. ~~~~~ There have been questions about planes being shot down over eastern Ukraine in recent days, and Ukraine air force planes have been hit by pro-Russian separatists. Ukrainian authorities said Thursday that several rockets or missiles have been fired at Ukraine air force aircraft, adding to what Kiev says is mounting evidence that Moscow is directly supporting the separatist insurgents. Ukraine Security Council spokesman Andrei Lysenko said the pilot of a Sukhoi-25 jet hit by an air-to-air missile was forced to bail after his jet was shot down. Russia's UN Ambassador Vitaly Churkin told reporters at UN headquarters in New York on Thursday that Russia did not shoot down the Ukrainian fighter jet on Wednesday. "We didn't do it," Churkin said. Pro-Russia rebels, meanwhile, claimed responsibility for strikes Wednesday on two Ukrainian Sukhoi-25 jets. Earlier this week, Ukraine said a military transport plane was shot down Monday over eastern Ukraine by a missile fired from Russian territory. ~~~~~ Malaysia Airlines said Ukrainian aviation lost contact with Flight MH17 at 1415 GMT (10 a.m. EDT) about 30 kilometers (20 miles) from Tamak waypoint, which is 50 kilometers (30 miles) from the Russia-Ukraine border. The plane, which was delivered to Malaysia Airlines in 1997 and has 43,000 hours of flight time and 6,950 takeoffs and landings, carried 280 passengers and 15 crew members. It had left Amsterdam at 12:15 p.m. and was due to arrive at Kuala Lumpur International Airport at 6:10 a.m. Friday. Ukraine's interior minister said on his Facebook page the plane was flying at an altitude of 10,000 meters (33,000 feet) when it was hit by a missile from a Buk launcher, which can fire up to an altitude of 22,000 meters (72,000 feet). Russian studies experts at the British Royal United Services Institute said both Ukrainian and Russian forces have SA-17 missile systems - also known as Buk ground-to-air launcher systems - and they confirmed that Russia had supplied separatist rebels with military hardware, but the Institute said it had seen no evidence "of the transfer of that type of system from Russia." The weapons that the rebels are known to have do not have the capacity to reach beyond 4,500 meters. (14,750 feet). However, a launcher similar to the Buk missile system was seen by Associated Press journalists earlier Thursday near the eastern Ukrainian town of Snizhne, which is held by the rebels. A Ukraine separatist leader said he did not know whether rebel forces owned Buk missile launchers, but said even if they did, they had no fighters capable of operating it. Russian media quoted witnesses as saying they saw a plane being hit by what they thought was a rocket. ~~~~~ This is the second Malaysia Airlines plane crash in six months. Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 disappeared in March while en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing. It has not been found, but the search has been concentrated in the Indian Ocean far west of Australia. ~~~~~ Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, who had been attending a European Union summit in Brussels, headed back to the Netherlands to deal with fallout from the crash. Britain has asked for an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council on Ukraine. Britain's UN Mission said Thursday the time of the meeting has not been set, but said international organizations would be allowed into the conflict-plagued region, including the FAA. Air traffic authorities in the United States and Europe had issued warnings not to fly over parts of Ukraine prior to Thursday's crash. Within hours, several airlines, including Lufthansa, Delta and KLM, released statements Thursday saying they were avoiding parts of Ukrainian airspace. But, many airlines had continued to use the route despite the warnings, said Norman Shanks, a former head of group security for BAA at British airports and professor of aviation security at Coventry University in England. There have been suggestions that a notice was given to aviators telling airlines to avoid that particular area," Shanks said, but they continue to use it because it is a shorter route, which means less fuel and therefore less money." Flights that were airborne when the Malaysia Airlines jet crashed have been re-routed, transportation officials said.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

60,000 Children Are Living Proof of Obama's Failed Immigration Policies

Paul Babeu, sheriff of Pinal County, Arizona, has defended his decision to publish the location where a group of illegal immigrant children from Central America were to be housed. Babeu told CNN's Anderson Cooper he was concerned that some of the children may have been older teenagers with gang connections or may have had diseases that would have threatened the health and safety of nearby residents. Babeu, a critic of Obama's immigration policy, said he is unhappy that he wasn't told about federal plans to shelter some of the children in his county. Instead, he said, he learned of the move from whistleblowers and confirmed the information with the facility. The children were supposed to have been housed at a ranch for troubled minors near Oracle, Arizona, about 100 miles north of the Mexican border. The people of Oracle, he said, have a right to know for the sake of transparency, but also for "significant public safety and potentially a public health issue." He told Cooper he would rather err on the side of safety than secrecy. "My question to Homeland Security was, give us a sense of the profile of these individuals. I and my deputies have our hands full. My county geographically is larger than the state of Connecticut. We don't have enough deputies to carry out all of our duties." The sheriff said his deputies arrest illegal immigrants every day who freely admit they've been deported up to 15 times. "There really, truly are no consequences," Babeu said. "This is a gaping wide there no end to this?" ~~~~~ Meanwhile, Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley angered the White House by refusing to shelter illegal immigrant children at a facility in his state. Politico reports that the Democratic governor, a potential 2016 presidential candidate and the highest ranking Democrat to criticize Obama on the immigrant surge, told the Obama administration that it should not send any undocumented kids to an empty former Army Reserves Center in Westminster, Maryland. O'Malley's request came just hours after he had supported Obama's plan to shelter the illegal immigrant children, with a warning that deporting the unaccompanied children would be sending them home to "certain death." O'Malley said at the National Governors Association in Nashville, Tennessee, on Friday that these undocumented children should be treated with compassion and attacked President Obama’s plans to speed up deportations, appoint more immigration judges, and strengthen border security. The Washington Post says that within hours of O'Malley's refusal to shelter some of the children in Maryland, he received an exasperated call from Domestic Policy Director Cecilia Munoz to take issue with his comments. During the call, O'Malley said that the undocumented kids would face an inhospitable welcome at the facility in deeply conservative Carroll County, 35 miles from Baltimore. O'Malley talked to Munoz the day after the Department of Health and Human Services informed Carroll County leaders of their plan to turn the disused army reserves center into a detention center. The Post said that during the weekend graffiti was painted on the military center saying, "No illeagles here. No undocumented Democrats." Maryland State Police are investigating the message as a possible hate crime, the Post reported. Although the building has since been removed as a potential detention center, the content of the phone conversation was leaked by a Democrat outside Maryland who portrayed O'Malley as a hypocrite, the Post said. But O'Malley’s aides have since said that the governor’s phone comments were taken out of context and that he is working with the White House to find an alternative facility. "Governor O'Malley has been discussing this issue for weeks with the White House," O'Malley press secretary Nina Smith told Politico. "He has helped identify ways Maryland can assist with this humanitarian crisis, and he has directed the Maryland Department of Human Resources to take the steps necessary to find licensed providers who might be able to care for these children in Maryland." ~~~~~ Democrats are blaming the estimated 60,000 unaccompanied minors who have flooded across the southern US border from Central America, in the hope they will be allowed to stay, on a 2008 law with bipartisan support signed by President George W. Bush that allowed children from non-border countries to get hearings rather than be sent immediately back to their home countries. The 2008 law was aimed at protecting children from sex trafficking and resulted in about 4,000 children being retained for hearings annually until President Obama signed an executive order that allowed certain illegal immigrants who came as children to remain, causing the number of retained illegal immigrant children to jump to 10,000 and then to 21,000 and now to today's 60,000. ~~~~~ Meaningful immigration legislation won't happen unless the Senate has a Democratic leader "who's not living in his own alternate universe" like Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who claimed this week the nation's southern border is secure, Republican Representative Peter King said Wednesday on Newsmax TV : "The border is broken. I mean, just common sense, if young kids are able to get across the border, we can imagine the drug dealers can come across the border, we have to be concerned about terrorists that would come across the border." King admitted there are no easy answers to the immigration situation, but "in an issue like this, you need people with good faith and good intelligence to come together. Either he's denying reality or he's just intentionally denying the truth. In any event, it makes it very, very difficult to even think of getting anything done." King isn't the only one speaking about Reid's claims. Tuesday, conservative commentator Charles Krauthammer speculated about Reid's mental health on Fox News : "You’ve got to wonder, you know, whether he’s really on his medication or not. I mean that’s so detached from reality, How many [children] do we have now? 60,000 at least? And we’re completely helpless. And it’s the helplessness that I think is driving the President and the Democrats to accept" changing the law. King said there are two main components that will enable the US to tighten the border : "One is the children are not the villains here, they're the victims, and they have to be treated humanely. But having said that, we have to include in any law we pass the provision that the children from El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras should be treated the same as the children from Mexico. Unless there's an immediate [threat] of political oppression or to their lives they will have to be returned." King added that returning the children to their home countries needs to be a "dramatic showing, so the parents will realize that this is for real." King also called for an increased presence of the National Guard on certain areas on the border : "We have to make clear that we're tough on fighting this. As far as getting extra judges, whatever else, we have to do that, but we can't turn this into a social services type enterprise." King joined growing bipartisan opposition to Obama's misuse of the 2008 law, which King said was "actually was extremely stop sex trafficking, but it is now being abused. We have to change the law." Asked about the potential of terrorists entering the US along with the flood of immigrants, King said : "If all these kids can come across, if others can come across the border, it's a lot easier for terrorists from the Middle East, Islamic terrorists to come across that border. We're just kidding ourselves if we don't realize the threat is there." ~~~~~ Dear readers, as the House examines the President's request for $3.7 billion to deal with the illegal children immigrant crisis, it seems it will grant about half of the $3.7 billion request, House Appropriations chairman Hal Rogers says : “We’re trying to sift out of his request those items and dollar numbers that need to be done immediately. The rest of what he’s requested we can consider as we process the regular 2015 appropriations bills.” To gain enough Republican votes, the grant will also include policy changes on border security and law revisions to speed up the deportation of unaccompanied minors, said Representative Pete Sessions, House Rules Committee chairman. For the first time, President Obama cannot "create facts" to spin his actions. This is not faraway Taliban or hide-and-seek about who knew what and when about Benghazi or blaming banks and George Bush for all his failed economic policies. Children - 60,000 of them - are living proof that Obama was wrong about allowing illegal children to stay in the US - and that he has been derelict in securing US borders. This time Mr. Obama must yield to Congress and the American people.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

It Is Time for the GOP to Take the Lead in Immigration Security and Reform

A leaked top-secret law enforcement document places blame for the current border crisis not on violence, but on misleading immigration policy statements by President Obama - as well as on a popular Spanish language television network Univision. Even the president of Honduras, one of three countries that have sent 57,000 minors across the US border, agrees. The report, leaked from the El Paso Intelligence Center (EPIC) with access limited to law enforcement officials, states : "Univision, Primer Impacto, Al Rojo Vivo, and several Honduran television news outlets" are to blame for painting a too rosy picture of current US immigration policy and encouraging parents to hire smugglers, or "coyotes," to get their children into a better life in the United States, according to a Breitbart report. Of 230 migrants interviewed for the report, 219 said their main reason for heading for the US border was their belief that the US would grant free "permisos," or entry permits, to minors and females travelling with minors. The report also states that fear of gang violence in their home countries, often cited by the Obama administration as the primary cause of the huge increase in border violations by the minors, is "not the principal factor driving the increase" in illegal immigration. The report concludes that the flood of minor illegal immigrants will not stop "until migrants' misperceptions about US immigration benefits are changed." Honduras President Juan Orlando Hernandez recently told a congressional delegation led by Texas Republican Representative Kay Granger that the "lack of information about the US immigration reform legal process" is one of the factors encouraging minors to attempg to cross the border into the US, according to President Hernandez' spokesman, Jorge Hernandez Alcerro. ~~~~~ Obama has asked Congress to provide $3.7 billion in emergency money to help deal with the crisis, including healthcare, education and legal counseling for the illegal immigrant minors. But, Republicans, including Texas Governor Rick Perry, have opposed authorizing the funds, preferring deportation and stronger border security as solutions. "Our view as House Republicans is that we're not going to write a blank check," Texas GOP Representative Mike McCaul, chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, told Fox News. Univision's leading anchor, Jorge Ramos, in particular, has taken a strong, partisan pro-immigration stance on the Spanish-language station with 2.1 million viewers, and has said : "Republicans don't get it. They're going to lose the 2016 election if they don't move on immigration reform and they're going to lose again in 2020," Breitbart reported."Immigration reform is a prerequisite for the Hispanic community. If you want to go to the White House, you have to knock on the door of Univision and Fusion before. Because otherwise, you won't get there." ~~~~~ Dear readers, the Republican response to the immigration mess created by President Obama is correct and it is in agreement with the view of the majority of Americans. And, the basic GOP position on immigration reform is correct -- secure the borders while simultaneously dealing with the current wave of illegal immigrants - provide funds for quick legal review near the border areas and then legally return the vast majority of them to their countries of origin - actively inform Central Americans about the reality of trying to illegally enter the US. And only then put America's immigration policy on a firm footing. To do this, the Republican House should bring to the floor for debate and passage the "first step" of an immigration reform bill that codifies these crisis policies and adds an outline of procedures for making future decisions about handling already-established illegal immigrants -- but not until the President certifies and Congress verifies that the borders actually are secure and that the current wave of illegal immigrants have been returned to their homes in Central America and Mexico. There is no need now to decide about green card / path to citizenship / taxes and fines - or anything else relating to established illegals. But it is imperative that the Republican Party take the initiative : provide the means to permanently secure the borders, deport the current wave of illegals and provide a timeline for tackling immigration when these crises are resolved. Until the GOP takes the leadership in this crisis, President Obama and the Democrat Party will continue to pretend that they are the White Hats, while in fact they are doing nothing but making the problem worse. Republicans know what must be done. The majority of Americans agree with them. So, let's do it. Now. Pass the bill and force the Democratic Senate to show their colors and make a decision.

Monday, July 14, 2014

US and EU Defense Cuts Shortsighted and Dangerous

Today, France celebrated its national holiday with a three-hour military parade down the Champs Elysée. Impressive. But at the same time, French President Hollande acknowledged during the traditional 14th of July president's news conference that the French military budget has fallen from its 1960s high of 5.44% of Gross Domestic Product to a low of 1.5% of GDP today. In May, French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian wrote to President Hollande to express his grave concerns about defense budget cuts. The military heads of the French services offered to resign in support for Le Drian. The letter sets out concerns over military training, poor state of buildings, paying bills on time, hurting labor and postponing key equipment orders to 2016. These difficulties would arise during overseas campaigns in Mali and the Central African Republic. Approximately €7 billion of equipment contracts planned for 2014 and 2015 would be delayed, which would have “disastrous industrial consequences,” Le Drian said. Thousands of jobs and critical know-how would be lost in the vehicle, shipbuilding and aerospace industries. The 2014 to 2018 French defense budget is estimated at €190 billion, or €31.4 billion per year, but the French defense budget is second only to the education budget. ~~~~~ Great Britain’s defense spending will soon fall below the 2% of GDP target set by NATO, according to an analysis commissioned by senior military personnel. The Financial Times reports that the UK’s military expenditure will hit 1.9% of GDP by 2017, below NATO’s target of 2%. The analysis has been commissioned from within the British armed forces and will be used to bolster the case made by many of their senior members that cuts in the defense budget will endanger the close UK-US military partnership. Britain and the US are the only members of NATO to meet the 2% target and senior military experts in the US have already expressed concern about the pace and scale of British defense cuts, among them former US Defense Secretary Robert Gates. To cover some of the shortfall, British Prime Minister David Cameron announced today an additional 1.1 billion Pounds from last year's defense budget surplus will be put into defense. ~~~~~ The United States accounts for 35% of the world's defense spending. This is well above the combined 25% of the next five countries (China, Russia, Saudi Arabia, France, Japan). But the US is joining other western allies in defense spending cutbacks - at a time when rogue nations such as China, Russia, North Korea, and Iran are significantly boosting military spending on equipment, armed forces and investments in sophisticated systems such as cruise and ballistic missile programs, a threat that a US defense missile defense system is specifically meant to detect. The caveat. The budget for the US system is one of the programs whose budget is being reduced. In addition, US troop cutbacks are ongoing and have caused military experts, both civilian and in the armed services, to warn that the US may no longer be able to handle crises on two fronts. ~~~~~ Dear readers, the most worrisome part of this scenario is that terrorist attacks have risen 170% between 2006 and 2012. This increase doesn't even include the takeover of the rebel front by ISIL in Syria or their incursion into Iraq. Nor does it include the renewed Taliban attacks in Afghanistan or the renewed terrorist presence in Libya, Mali, Kenya, Nigeria or Egypt. When Nikita Khruschev told the West in 1956, "We will bury you," the West, already forewarned by USSR takeovers in eastern Europe, took heed. From Eisenhower to Reagan, America led the free world to victory over communist socialism. And, ever since September 11, 2001, al-Qaida and its spinoffs such as ISIL, have been warning Europe and America that they are advancing toward us. I just hope the budget cutters of the western world are thinking about this as they go about slashing defense budgets and announcing troop cuts. It was that mentality that delivered Europe into Hitler's hands before Winston Churchill insisted on gearing up to defeat him. We do not want another World War - this time with islamist jihadist terrorists led by Iran and supplied by Mr. Putin. Think about it.