Saturday, December 31, 2016

Happy New Year 2 0 1 7

Dear Readers, wherever you are in the world, I wish you and those you hold dear a very Happy New Year, with health and happiness in every way. Be safe. Whatever you do, do it with energy and conviction. And never forget that your friends, your freedom and God are all that matter. Godspeed.

Friday, December 30, 2016

Saturday Politics : Progressivism, Obama's Failed Domestic and Foreign Policy, and Israel

Saturday Politics is sometimes about failure. • • • OBAMA , A FAILED PRESIDENT. There is no question that Obama has failed every domestic or foreign policy test an American President is put to. • His domestic policies consist of a rapidly crumbling quasi-nationalized healthcare system called Obamacare, and his ignoring of his promises to make a difference for Black Americans while stirring up racial tensions that have resulted in riots, an alarming increase in police deaths and a more entrenched notion among the leaders of his supporters in the Black community that they can use the "victim" card to browbeat America into continuing to give them the next bauble they ask for. • Barack Obama's foreign policy does not exist -- except for his abandonment of western Judeo-Christian values and his hatred for Israel. The Obama foreign policy vacuum has led to a North Korea reportedly soon to have mid- and perhaps long-range nuclear missiles. It has led China to take over the South China Sea and defy America to do anything to help its allies who are even now being menaced. It has led Russia to take Crimea and destabilize Ukraine through support for a pro-Russia war in east Ukraine and to destabilitze the Baltic states with a military buildup along their borders, both land and sea. It has led Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad to feel safe in destroying his own country for the sake of preserving his brutal regime -- killing a half million Syrians and displacing 10 million more, all with the help of the emboldened Russian President Vladimir Putin and Iran. This in turn has led to the as yet unresolved destabilization of Europe because of the refugee flow, begun by terrorized Syrians and soon increased by other Middle Eastern and African economic migrants seizing the opportunity. Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Israel -- all learned not to trust anything Obama said. • • • THE BETRAYAL OF ISRAEL. Obama's betrayal of Israel began in earnest with his nuclear deal with Iran that put a nuclear enemy on Israel's border. It also provided billions of dollars -- some shipped as US paper currency sneaked into Iran while lying that it hadn't happened -- to be used to arm and financially support the islamic terrorist groups who are determined to eradicate Israel and kill all Israeli Jews. • While I have objected often in my blogs to his individual actions, it took the Iran deal to finally convince me that Barack Obama is a fraud and a menace to America and the world. His abstaining to allow the passage of the UN resolution on Israeli settlements on December 23 and his sending Secretary of State John Kerry out to explain the "policy reasoning" behind that decision were the final proofs. Despite the resolution, there are facts. Fact -- we know that the settlements are on "disputed" not "occupied" territory. Fact -- we know that there has never been any "nation," let alone a Palestinian nation, on the West Bank. Fact -- we know that under Resolution 242 -- enacted by the UN Security Council after the 1967 attempted invasion of Israel by Arabs led by Jordan -- Israel is entitled to keep territories it took duing its 1967 defense of its country until a general peace is agreed with the Palestinians, the envisaged, famous "land for peace" negotiation. Fact -- we know that Jews lived in what is now Israel more than 4,000 years ago and that they have an historical connection to their homeland that is biblical, historical and real. And Fact -- we know that that biblical, historical and real connection is intimately, inextricably, tied to Jerusalem and to East Jerusalem's Wailing Wall and the Holy Mount. But, Barack Obama is trying furiously to erase all these facts with his own anti-Israel, anti-Semitic, anti-democratic, anti-American determination that Israel ought to be left to be torn apart and destroyed by gangs of Iran-led jihadist terrorists whose raison d'étre is to do just that. • • • BARACK OBAMA AND THE PROGRESSIVES. Many writers and analysts I respect have tried to explain Obama's betrayal of Israel. The explanations range from his personal animosity toward Benjamin Netanyahu and his natural tendency to favor Moslems over Jews to his desire to extricate America militarily from the Middle East and his probable belief -- widely held by leftists and Progressives -- that Israel is the cancer in an otherwise Moslem Middle East, that if Israel were removed, the Middle East would become a peaceful garden of loving shiites and sunnis whose attacks on each other and the outside world would cease. That last idea is utter nonsense to anyone who has eyes in today's world. • What, then, drives Barack Obama? The story began around the time of World War I, a century ago, when President Woodrow Wilson and European Progressives, as they called themselves, decided that national governments should be subservient to a world order in which a global mechanism -- they founded the League of Nations that morphed into today's United Nations -- would erase national cultural and religious differences and replace them with a globalist one-world government in which all peoples would be cared for by a supra-national statist entity. They thought that nationalism was the evil that caused wars and that religion fed nationalism. Their goal was to repress the 18th century ideal of independent individualism that led to the founding of America and its Constitution, as well as to the religion-based self-responsibility of western democracies, with an all-powerful world government that would take over from republican constitutionalism and religion and become both god and government. • Progressive views were seen as "modern" and they held out the false promise of ending war. But, these views were also seized by President Franklin Roosevelt in America to begin to create the over-arching federal state that took care of the Depression's poor. It was also seen by FDR as a way of building a voter constituency that would cement the continuation of Progressive goals in the US. His social welfare programs ensnared American Blacks more than others because they were poorer than others, having been tied to tenant farming schemes by these same Progressives -- now represented by the Democrat Party -- after the Civil War freed them. • FDR's political agenda worked and Democrats controlled Congress and often the presidency for 50 years, until Ronald Reagan rallied Americans to again honor individual responsibility and the Constitution. But, Progressives by then had made Black Americans their major voter block and had led them through several generations of government-imposed poverty under welfare subsistence -- characterized as payment to make up for their victimization and to help them get on track for the American Dream -- in return for votes. Republicans did little to stop the damage being done. Many Blacks broke out through education and job training but many more were stuck in the welfare rut. During this period, a Progressive Supreme Court turned the Constitution on its ear -- ripping away what the Framers wrote and replacing it with the Progressive goals they preferred. • • • WHO AND WHAT IS BARACK OBAMA. Then, just as Progressives thought they had got hold of all the strings and touch points of American constitutional democracy and were ready to make the final push to engulf America with a globalist ascendancy led by the UN -- George Soros is a chief funder of this final push, but there are many others -- along came Barack Obama. In him they saw a young, articulate and rather handsome possibility to lead the final charge. His mother was a white American, his father African, his early formative education far removed from that of normal American children, his later education a deepening of his radical anti-American views learned as a child in Indonesian islamic schools, his religious beliefs a confused mix of Christianity and Islam. In fact, he was the perfect Progressive torchbearer. • But, as is so often the case with plans, the Progressive plan didn't work as they had expected. Obama was aloof, alienated Republicans in the House by refusing to deal with them on spending, ignored Congress's constitutional role in passing federal legislation by relying of executive orders to do what he wanted without thought to political consequences, angered many of the white Americans who had voted for him by treating them as racist milk cows befuddled by Christianity whom he had the right to tax to feed his Progressive nanny state agenda, and forgot that one of the Democrat party's key constituencies were Black Americans as he paid them lip service while ignoring their needs. The Tea Party rose up and took back the House in 2010 and about 2/3 of state governments as well. The Obama Progressive Domestic campaign promise "we will change America" was dead in the water. • But, there was one arena where Obama didn't have to bother about the opinions of Americans. The World. And, after all, wasn't that what he had been sent to Washington to do? Create a globalist world order that would replace the America weakened by his domestic policies, especially the US military devastated by his budget cuts and inattention. So, Obama turned his attention to the Middle East, Europe and China. Each scenario was the same -- belittle or backstab any current democratic policies or groups, insist on open borders to dilute national cultures, refuse advice from well-meaning allies, allow the UN's third world component to dictate anti-democratic anti-Israel policy to the West, and then withdraw to his White House to watch the whole post-World War II international order unravel. And it did. Europe was overrun with refugees and migrants from islamic countries. China wreaked havoc on the US Dollar and US trade by its currency manipulation and then decided to take over the South China Sea. North Korea didn't even bother to nod to Obama as it ramped up its nuclear weapons program. Russia took back Crimea and instigated civil war in Ukraine while re-asserting its presence in Syria and Iran. Iraq was doomed by his 2011 troop withdrawal and his answer was to tell the Baghdad government to be more open to sunni tribes. • The result was that Saudi Arabia and Egypt, more afraid of a nuclear Iran than of a Jewish Israel, began to quietly work with the Israelis. Obama could see his Progressive world vision slipping away if these three Middle East powers began to provide a unified center of resistance to Iran's terrorist acts and goals. To eliminate that possibility, Obama realized that in the last days of 2016 he could do what he had been unable to do when he still wanted to count on American voters to keep Progressives [Hillary Clinton being the front] in power -- he could bring down the one stubbornly democratic anti-Progressive country in the Middle East. Israel. Hence, the December 23 UN resolution and the Kerry speech. They were not newly created tactics for Middle East peace. They were not meant to help Israel. They were meant to give the UN and its anti-Semitic majority the means to destroy Israel. But, because Barack Obama is not and never has been a very good practical politician, he badly misjudged the reaction his resolution would provoke. Americans left and right, Democrat and Republican, are in a state of righteous fury -- and they mean to bring down the effects if not the reality of the December 23 UNSC resolution. • • • And, DEAR READERS, if you think that Obama's sudden outrage at Russian cyberattacks in the US is based on his love of fair and free democratic elections rather than diverting attention from the political howls his anti-Israel resolution has caused, consider that he is the President who sent teams into Israel to meddle in the last election there, in the hope of defeating Benjamin Netanyahu. And, Obama used State Department funding to help pay for the treachery. • IDF Major General Yaakov Amidror stated in a 2005 study on the security requirements for lasting peace that the 1967 Israeli ceasefire boundaries [especially the 9-mile width of Israel north of Tel Aviv] do not provide “defensive depth,” a principle of military doctrine holding that there must be an area sufficient for a defensive force to redeploy after being attacked, and for reserves to enter or counterattack. Defensive Depth is the territorial space between the battlefront and the strategic interior that any army must have in order to be able to function. The boundaries the Security Council seeks to impose through the December 23 resolution would be inadequate even if Palestinian leadership -- including the Moslem Brotherhood’s terrorist affiliate, Hamas -- were not determined to destroy Israel. Obama knows this. He knows he is leaving Israel literally defenseless under the terms of the December 23 resolution. He also knows that the campaign to destroy Israel is politically waged with UN resolutions as much as with Hamas rockets. The hope now -- and it took great statesmanship -- is President-Elect Trump’s willingness to use his limited pre-inauguration leverage in Israel’s defense. He stopped Egypt's sponsorship of the resolution. But, Malaysia, Senegal, Venezuela and New Zealand -- New Zealand for God's sake -- took up the resolution as sponsors. Fact -- Evil is pervasive and, as all Christians and Jews and people of ethical principle everywhere know, it must be confronted and defeated at every opportunity. Trump has told Israel to hang on. The most important thing he said about the resolution was his vow, after the resolution was adopted, that things will be different come January 20 “as to the UN.” • In the meantime, we just say, "Go, Barack Obama." Whoever you are, whatever ruin you wanted to cast over America and the world, you failed. Just Go.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Obama's Political Error in Supporting Hillary, His Twilight Federal Land Grab, and the Trump Supreme Court

On the final Friday in 2106, it is time to look at the final days of the Obama presidency as President-Elect Donald Trump prepares to take over. • • • OBAMA AND HILLARY. Perhaps the greatest political error Barack Obama made in his eight years came late -- when he could not or would not stop Hillary Clinton from becoming the Democrat candidate for President. His earlier political aloofness and indecisiveness had already separated him from Democrat Washington politicos and when 2015 rolled around, perhaps he thought his best hope of retaining his "legacy" was to entrust it to the hands of the Clintons. Wrong, as usual. • As best we can piece together the Barack-Hillary detente, she used it to lie to him about putting all her communication on a private unsecured email server located at her Chappaqua home. The kindest interpretation of the facts is that he realized this after it happened and went along with it -- was he afraid of what he had already passed on to Hillary by email or was he simply so used to lying his way out of trouble that he thought denying that he knew about the server would be sufficient this time, too? We still do not have that answer, but we know that, legally, from the moment he knew about Hillary's server, he was in violation of his responsibilities to safeguard classified information. • And, on Tuesday, December 27, there was a new legal development on former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's emails that could come back to hit Obama. An appeals court reversed a lower court ruling and said two US government agencies should have done more to recover the emails. The ruling from Judge Stephen Williams, of the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, revives one of a number of legal challenges involving Clinton's handling of government emails when she was Secretary of State from 2009 to 2013 -- the challenge that she handed over 55,000 emails to US officials, but did not release about 30,000 she said were personal and not work related, as she should have. The email case damaged Clinton -- remember Trump's "Crooked Hillary" during the campaign. Trump, who repeatedly said during the campaign that if elected he would prosecute Clinton, said after the election he had no interest in pursuing investigations into Clinton's email use, although others could pursue it. Well, on Tuesday, Judge Williams decided to pursue the case. He found that while the State Department and National Archives took steps to recover the emails from Clinton's tenure, they did not ask the US Attorney General to take enforcement action. A district judge last January ruled the suits brought by Judicial Watch and Cause of Action moot, saying State and the National Archives made a "sustained effort" to recover and preserve Clinton's records. But Judge Williams said the two agencies should have done more. Since the agencies neither asked the Attorney General for help nor showed that such enforcement action could not uncover new emails, the case was not moot : "The Department has not explained why shaking the tree harder -- e.g., by following the statutory mandate to seek action by the Attorney General -- might not bear more still. Absent a showing that the requested enforcement action could not shake loose a few more emails, the case is not moot." Judge Williams noted that Clinton used two nongovernmental email accounts at State and continued using the Blackberry account she had while a US Senator during her first weeks as the nation's US diplomat. She only switched to the email account hosted on her private server in March 2009, the ruling said : "Because the complaints sought recovery of emails from all of the former Secretary's accounts, the FBI's recovery of a server that hosted only one account does not moot the suits. • Barack Obama's political decision that Hillary would be the best protector of his legacy may yet prove to be the worst political decision he ever made, because his connivance in and defense of Hillary's email scheme may yet provide evidence that he jeopardized US intelligence -- not a good "legacy," by any standard. • OBAMA REFUSES TO GO QUIETLY. President Obama admits he was in tears during a farewell dinner with his senior staff. "I got through about four minutes of the thing and then started to get my hanky out," Obama told former aide David Axelrod during a podcast interview. • Okay, that's not news. But, in the interview with Axelrod, Obama said that had he been able to seek a third term, he is confident he would have been reelected. Obama said : "I am confident in this vision because I'm confident that if I had run again and articulated it, I think I could've mobilized a majority of the American people to rally behind it. I know that in conversations that I've had with people around the country, even some people who disagreed with me, they would say, 'The vision, the direction that you point towards is the right one.' " Beyond being a poster for Obama over-arching but undeserved pride, that statement surely is his own admission that he backed the wrong Democrat horse in 2106. And, he told Axelrod that he didn't discount the possibility of speaking out on issues at some point : "At a certain point, you make room for new voice and fresh legs. That doesn't mean that if a year-and-a-half from now, or two years from now, there is an issue of such moment, such import, that isn't just a debate about a particular tax bill or a particular policy, but goes to some foundational issues about our democracy that I might now weigh in. You know, I'm still a citizen and that carries with it duties and obligations." If only Obama had been as conscientious a citizen during the past eight yeqrs. But, what conservatives and Republicans are warning Trump about is that Obama is staying in Washington and will 'make trouble' for President Trump and his agenda at every possible opportunity. • So, it seems that Obama -- unable to drive through his agenda traditionally with Congress and the American people during his eight years in office -- will linger on in Washington to try to make sure that Trump does not get the opportunity America wants him to have to straighten out the disasters of Obama's presidency. • • • OBAMA'S TWILIGHT FEDERAL LAND GRAB. The Obama twilight is not pretty. There are no rosy wilderness sunsets. Instead, Obama is pulling every string at his disposal to make life difficult for President Trump. • The best example of this spiteful attitude of President Obama's move to protect two massive areas in the American West on Wednesday, including a swath of southern Utah that has been at the center of a contentious battle over land protections for years. The areas newly protected from development and various activities are the Bears Ears National Monument in Utah and the Gold Butte National Monument in Nevada. Both areas are owned by the federal Bureau of Land Management. The actions further cement the aggressive conservation legacy of Obama, who has protected more land and water than any other President under the Antiquities Act. But, these two final designations are among the most controversial under Obama, with strong opposition among local and state leaders. Obama said in a statement that the designations : “protect some of our country’s most important cultural treasures, including abundant rock art, archeological sites, and lands considered sacred by Native American tribes. Today’s actions will help protect this cultural legacy and will ensure that future generations are able to enjoy and appreciate these scenic and historic landscapes.” • Obama's designations, using his unilateral authority under the Antiquities Act, acting with just about three weeks left before President-Elect Trump takes office, have outraged the State of Utah. Utah’s attorney general says he is preparing a lawsuit against President Obama for his decision to designate a new national monument in the state. Attorney General Sean Reyes on Wednesday said the lawsuit is one of numerous ways that he, Governor Gary Herbert, and the state’s congressional delegation will fight the designation of the 1.35-million acre Bears Ears National Monument. Reyes admitted that previous attempts to sue over national monuments have failed, because the courts have upheld presidential power to protect federal land as monuments unilaterally under the Antiquities Act. But, Reyes said : “My office is working closely with the governor’s office, federal and state legislators, and San Juan County to file a lawsuit challenging this egregious overreach by the Obama administration. This case is different from other past challenges by states and counties and we are confident in our chances of success. But the courtroom is not our only option. Our federal delegation is working hard to defund the designation or rescind it altogether. Additionally, we look forward to working with the new presidential administration on ways to curtail or otherwise address the designation.” • All Utah’s statewide leaders and congressional delegation oppose the Bears Ears monument, saying it unnecessarily restricts land uses like fossil fuel production. They want Congress to enact less restrictive protections for the land. But, the real issue here is the continuing federal land grab in the western United States. The federal government owns 640 million acres of land (about 28%) of the 2.27 billion acres of land in the US. BUT, 52% of federally owned acres are in 12 Western states. In contrast, the federal government owns 4% of land in the other 38 states. AND, the federal government owns or controls 70% of the state of Utah. • It isn't clear if Trump could unilaterally undo Obama’s designations, because it has never been tried before. Some Republicans, including House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Rob Bishop of Utah, say it is within Trump’s power, though the Obama administration says the Antiquities Act does not allow monument designations to be undone. One thing the Obama Twilight Land Grab, coupled with his prior aggressive use of the Antiquities Act, could do is lead Congress to refuse funding for these two monuments or to limit future Presidents’ powers. • The 1.35 million-acre Bears Ears area could be the most controversial of Obama's dozens of national monuments, in part because it shuts down any new leases for mining or oil and natural gas, exploration, along with other development and potential harms, even though it protects numerous sites that are significant to nearby American Indian tribes, including the Navaho Nation, for cultural, religious and historic reasons. The Nevada monument is also controversial, for different reasons. The Gold Butte area is next to the ranch of Cliven Bundy and the site of an armed standoff between federal authorities and self-styled militia members in 2014. Bundy family members were also involved in the Oregon federal land stand-off early in 2016. Both confrontations are part of the ongoing western landowner/user challenge to the federal closure of open range grazing lands. The Nevada monument, pushed by outgoing Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada, protects numerous tribal sites, important landscapes, rare fossils and more. But, the federal government already owns or controls 80% of Nevada. • One argument the Utah lawsuit may make is that the Constitution's Article IV, Clause 2 : Property Clause can be construed to disallow excessive federal ownership of state lands. The Property Clause states : "The Congress shall have power to dispose of and make all needful Rules and Regulations respecting the Territory or other Property belonging to the United States; and nothing in this Constitution shall be so construed as to Prejudice any Claims of the United States, or of any particular State." It grants Congress the constitutional authority to manage and control all territories or other property owned by United States. Additionally, the clause also states that nothing contained within the Constitution may be interpreted to harm (prejudice) any claim of the United States, or of any particular State. The exact scope of this clause has long been a matter of debate. • The Framers' debates at the Constitutional Convention and the ratification process have little to say about the Property Clause. A clue is provided by the very carefully organized structure of the Constitution. Article I sets forth the enumerated powers of Congress, including a specific grant of power over the governance of federal property. Article I, Section 8, Clause 17, known as the Enclave Clause, is plainly a grant of sovereign authority -- exclusive sovereign authority -- over the District of Columbia and other federal enclaves acquired with the consent of the state in which they are located. So, Article I is the place where we would expect to find a grant of power to Congress to exercise political sovereignty over federal lands. However, Article IV, generally deals with issues of state-to-state relations (full faith and credit, privileges and immunities, extradition, creation of new states, protection of states against invasion), so it would be an odd place for the Framers to have put such a federal power. Moreover, it is inconsistent with the careful drafting of the Constitution to assume that the Framers included two overlapping grants of sovereign political authority over federal lands -- one specifically for agreed Enclaves in Article I and another for federal lands in Article IV. These structural points make it doubtful that a broad political and police-power theory is consistent with the Framers' understanding. • Another key piece of evidence is the Northwest Ordinance, which Congress enacted while still operating under the Articles of Confederation, at the same time that the Constitutional Convention was meeting, but which the First Congress reenacted after the Constitution was ratified. This statute established the territorial government for the land of what is today the states of Ohio, Indiana, Michigan, Illinois, and Wisconsin. James Madison and other leaders at the Convention thought that the Articles of Confederation did not contain an adequate source of power to support the Northwest Ordinance. The Property Clause was designed to remedy that defect. Thus, it seems that the Framers intended the Property Clause to be broad enough to constitutionalize the provisions of the Northwest Ordinance. BUT, the Northwest Ordinance included a number of other provisions respecting the governance of the new territory that would have to be described as pure police-power measures -- clauses preserving the freedom of religion, prohibiting uncompensated takings of property, and outlawing slavery. Other provisions of the Ordinance dealt with the status of federal land after new states were formed from the territory and admitted to the Union. Such states were prospectively prohibited from interfering with the disposal of lands by the United States or with regulations adopted by Congress to secure title to bona fide purchasers, and they were barred from imposing any tax on federal lands. There is no mention of a right by the federal government to take lands inside a state once it was created. Once states were admitted to the Union, Congress could exercise full police powers over federal land located in a state only in accordance with the Enclave Clause -- that means only when the land was acquired with the consent of the state. • A leading nineteenth-century exposition of the constitutional authority of the federal government over federal lands, Fort Leavenworth Railroad Co. v. Lowe (1885), is generally in agreement with this interpretation. There, Justice Stephen J. Field wrote that the authority of the federal government over territories is "necessarily paramount." But once a territory is organized as a state and admitted to the Union on equal footing with other states, the state government assumes general sovereignty over federal lands, and the federal government has the rights only of an "individual proprietor." The federal government can exercise rights of general sovereignty over property only if there has been a formal cession of sovereignty by the state under the Enclave Clause. Justice Field qualified this view of separated sovereignty, however, by noting that if the federal government acquires land outside the Enclave Clause [purchases it from a private owner or the state], any federal forts, buildings, or other installations erected on such land "will be free from any such interference and jurisdiction of the State as would destroy or impair their effective use for the purposes designed." • The Supreme Court's reading of the Property Clause has changed significantly in the past century. In 1911, the Court ruled in Light vs United States that the federal government could reserve vast tracts of land such as national forests, indicating that these lands were held in trust for the people of the whole country, and that it was for Congress, not the courts, to say how that trust should be administered. • In the most recent Supreme Court case, Kleppe v. New Mexico (1976), the Wild, Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act was held to be constitutional. The Act prohibits capturing, killing, or harassing wild horses and burros that range on public lands. Writing for the Court, Justice Thurgood Marshall specifically rejected the argument that the Property Clause includes only "(1) the power to dispose of and make incidental rules regarding the use of federal property; and (2) the power to protect federal property." He concluded that "Congress exercises the powers both of a proprietor and of a legislature over the public domain. Thus, whether wild animals are the property of the United States or whether the Act could be justified as a form of protection of the public lands, Congress was held to have sufficient power under the Property Clause to adopt regulatory legislation protecting wild animals that enter upon federal lands. • • • DEAR READERS, so far, Congress has not attempted to exploit the new "enumerated power" not mentioned in the Constitution but conferred by the Court in Kleppe v. New Mexico. But, we can see how Kleppe v. New Mexico could be seen by the federal government to open the door to the use of the Property Clause to justify legislation that goes beyond protecting federal proprietary interests in ways that would be inconsistent with the original design of the Constitution -- and enabling the federal land grab in western states to continue. However, it is interesting that all Property Clause cases recvolve around how the federal government may act within federal lands, and not around how those lands are to be seized from a state and made part of federal land to begin with. This could also be fertile ground for Utah's arguments in its Bears Ears monument challenge. • This is just one of the reasons why the election of Donald Trump was so important for the continuation of the constitutional Republic. It has been said that the Supreme Court has not addressed the continuing legislative, executive and judicial expansion of the Property Clause since 1976 because it has not found the right set of facts on which to rule. It may also be that the Court has not been able to find even the beginning of a consensus on how to handle the Property Clause. With Trump's appointment of at least one, and probably two or three, new Justices, that consensus may emerge on the side of the Framers' probable intention concerning the Clause -- that they will finally strike down a broad and questionable expansion of the Property Clause and give more control over federal lands to the respective states. It may even be that the Court will find that the Antiquities Act violates the Constitution's restrictions on the power given by the Constitution to states in the Enclave Clause -- that is, that they must agree to any federal seizure of lands within their state territory. Perhaps, as the Bears Ears monument issue works its way through Congress and the federal courts, we will see one of the first pro-Constitution fruits of the Trump presidency. It could even happen in a Hillary email server case.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Kerry's Israel Speech : A Hodgepodge of Fantasy, Obfuscation and Avoidance

We knew this Kerry speech was coming. And today we got it -- 1 hour and 10 minutes of fantasy, obfuscation and avoidance. • • • FANTASY. Secretary of State John Kerry defended the US decision allowing the United Nations to condemn Israeli settlements last week, saying the administration did so in the interest of preserving a “just and lasting peace,” which he claimed is now threatened – Israeli officials have already described the UN move by the US as a betrayal. Kerry said the US could not “in good conscience” stand in the way of a resolution that he said makes clear “both sides must act now to preserve the possibility of peace. "We did not take this decision lightly,” Kerry said. In fact, the US abstention on the UN Security Council resolution calling Israeli settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem a violation of international law allowed the measure to pass -- and sent the relationship between the Obama and Netanyahu governments into its greatest heights of animosity yet. Kerry said Wednesday the decision was about preserving a two-state solution, which he called the only way to a “just and lasting peace.” But he added : “That future is now in jeopardy,“ saying "Friends need to tell each other the hard truths, and friendships require mutual respect." He said the US “did in fact vote in accordance with our values.” • In his speech, Kerry also vehemently denied claims that the US was the “driving force” behind the UN measure : “The United States did not draft or originate this resolution, nor did we put it forward. It was drafted and...introduced by coordination with the Palestinians and others.“ The White House on Wednesday also denied a report in Egyptian media claiming Kerry and National Security Advisor Susan Rice discussed the UN resolution with a top Palestinian official nearly two weeks before last Friday’s Security Council vote. Ned Price, spokesman for the US National Security Council, called the reports a “fabrication” and said the “meeting never occurred.” BUT, The State Department’s own website reflects that Kerry was scheduled for a meeting with the Palestinian official at the State Department on December 12, around the time of the reported discussions. The official website, however, offers no details on what was discussed. Netanyahu says he has "irrefutable" evidence of US collusion with Palestine and will pass it on to the Trump administration. • The facts do not represent Kerry's speech. A two-state solution requires two parties to negotiate it. Michael Curtis, Distinguished Professor Emeritis at Rutgers University, wrote for American Thinker in September : "Objective analysis should take account both of the different nature of the settlements and the various reasons for them. Following the 1967 Six Day War, the Israeli government authorized military settlements for security reasons. At that time the government was willing to return all captured territory with only minor modifications, but Arab states and Palestinians refused to negotiate. In September 1967, Kfar Etzion was set up, the first civilian settlement in the West Bank. Later, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert in September 2008 proposed the creation of a Palestinian state and Israeli withdrawal from 94% of the West Bank. In November 2015, Mahmoud Abbas, President of the Palestinian Authority confirmed he had rejected the proposal. At present, there are 330,000 settlers in the West Bank, 200,000 in East Jerusalem, and 20,000 in the Golan Heights. They live in 314 authorized settlements and in 102 unauthorized settlements." • A Reuters article recently reported that about 36,000 Palestinians work in settlements in the West Bank, many in construction, earning up to three times as much as the average Palestinian wage. Many of the jobs are in large settlement blocs built close to the frontier with Israel, in areas Israel intends to keep in any final peace agreement with the Palestinians. Reuters says : "It is here that Israel has established one of several industrial zones, comprising around 1,000 businesses in all, many of which benefit from tax breaks and other business concessions, including access to cheaper Palestinian labor. In a report released last month, Human Rights Watch labeled the zones 'Occupation, Inc.,' pointing out that they are in violation of international law because they are built on land Israel seized in the 1967 Middle East war." This despite the fact that the Palestinian economy is struggling, with unemployment at 27%. While settlement jobs may offer no overtime, pension or work insurance, the higher wages offset the shortfall. One Palestinian West Bank worker told Reuters : "Palestinians pay only 70 or 80 shekels a day for work in Palestinian areas...a kilo of meat...costs 70 shekels. Shaher Saed, the general secretary of the Palestinian Workers Union opposes Palestinian West Bank work : "In principle, we would prefer to stop people working in settlements...What reinforces the situation is the trade between settlements and the private sector. Even in some settlement industrial zones, there are partnerships with Palestinian (businessmen)." Israelis frequently point out that settlement businesses benefit Palestinians by paying them more. But Saed said that excuses the 'occupation' and undermines the ability of Palestinians to develop their own economy. • This seems to be an inaccurate reflection of what is going on economically -- on November 16, the Wall Street Journal wrote an article on the Palestinian Authority's economic and budget troubles. The WSJ said : "Faced with increasingly dire economic conditions in the Palestinian territories, Israel is trying to keep the cash-strapped Palestinian Authority afloat, even if it indirectly helps Hamas, its longtime enemy. The Authority, based in the West Bank city of Ramallah, lost control of the Gaza Strip to Hamas in 2007, but more than a third of its annual budget still goes to the coastal enclave. But that arrangement, which helped keep Gaza functioning, is faltering, as the donor aid upon which the Authority depends plummets. That assistance is forecast to fall to $600 million this year, less than half the amount three years ago, according to the World Bank. Gulf benefactors such as Saudi Arabia...are redirecting funds their allies in Iraq, Syria and Yemen. US funding, which goes straight to the Authority’s creditors, has dropped from about $100 million in 2014 to roughly $75 million last year, according to a US official. With wars and humanitarian crises roiling the region, that figure is expected to tumble even further this year. Worse yet for the Authority, local banks are no longer lending it money and it can no longer borrow from its public pension fund, its previous answer to short-term budget shortfalls." According to the WSJ : "With evidence already accumulating months ago that the Authority was facing economic collapse, however, Israel didn’t wait for the outcome of US elections. To stave off fresh unrest and violence in Gaza -- and the growth of even more radical Palestinian political factions on its doorstep -- it entered the breach. Under the internationally backed Oslo Accords reached in the 1990s, Israel levies taxes on goods and services imported into the territories. It collects health, social security and other benefits from firms in Israel that employ Palestinians, and then transfers these taxes and revenues to the Palestinian Authority each month, taking a fee for doing so [why do Palestinian workers in the West Bank not get their benefits from these Israeli payments to Palestine?]. Using that mechanism, Israel so far this year has transferred about one billion shekels ($262 million) -- or nearly 8% of total Palestinian revenues -- in one-off payments to the Authority, according to the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and a person familiar with the transfers. The two sides also agreed in September to restructure $500 million in debts that the Authority owed to the state-owned Israel Electric Corporation for power supplied to the West Bank, another indication of their deeply intertwined economies. Meanwhile, to boost the Authority’s tax revenue, Israel has issued work permits to Palestinians to work in Israel. Israeli authorities say the prospect of the Authority’s economic breakdown and even more tumult in Gaza is worse than the risk of indirectly sustaining Hamas, the Islamist military and political movement that has vowed for Israel’s destruction and fought Israel in three wars in the past eight years. The IMF and World Bank predict that to reduce the $500 million deficit this year, the PA will likely be forced to cut the salaries and benefits of civil servants at a time of weak economic growth and high unemployment, but the World Bank says that any cuts to wages or social welfare programs would come at a tense time in Gaza. Unemployment is hovering at 40% and half of territory’s 1.7 million inhabitants receive some form of humanitarian aid, the World Bank says." Hamas reportedly 'takes' international funding to use in terrorist and military activities and has recently arrested journalists for attacking its policies. In the West Bank, students, security forces and members of Abbas’s own Fatah faction have been arrested or questioned for allegedly criticizing the Authority in posts on social media and in public. This fuels Palestinians criticism of their leaders is the absence of any prospect of a peace deal, as well as failed reconciliation attempts by Fatah and Hamas, according to Ahmad Harb, commissioner of the Ramallah-based Independent Commission for Human Rights, who told the WSJ : “People are expressing their views very aggressively. We’re in very dangerous stagnation.” • We may well ask if John Kerry took any of this into account as he and Barack Obama lined up against Isrqel and for Hamas and Fatah -- two recognized terrorist regimes -- in deciding to allow the UN resolution to pass and then attacking Israel for not negotiating with the "absent" Palestinians, who rely on Israel for jobs and budget balancing but refuse to recognize Israel as a state or negotiate the peace all Isaelis and many Palestinians deeply desire. • • • OBFUSCATION. Kerry blasted what he called the “settler agenda” pushing Israel toward seeking one state -- which he asserted could not be both Jewish and democratic. He called the current government the "most right-wing" in Israel's history and claimed its agenda is "driven by the most extreme elements. The status quo is leading toward one state and perpetual occupation,” Kerry said, adding that this would entail “separate” but “unequal” treatment for Palestinians. Kerry condemned Palestinian violence, including hundreds of terror attacks in the last year, and said Palestinian leaders do not do enough to speak out against specific attacks. But the bulk of his address dealt with Israeli settlement expansion, largely in the West Bank, as he outlined "principles" for future peace talks. Kerry spoke of the two-state solution as if the Palestinian leaders actually want it : “In the end, we could not in good conscience protect the most extreme elements of the settler movement as it tries to destroy the two-state solution. We could not in good conscience turn a blind eye to Palestinian actions that fan hatred and violence," but he added that Israel's "permanent settlement construction," not the resolution, is risking peace. • The attack on the West Bank settlements by Kerry, calling them the one item that prevents peace is so far from reality that it would be comic in less serious circumstances. UN Security Council Resolution 242 of November 22, 1967, states the two principles necessary for peace in the Middle East -- withdrawal of Israel armed forces from territories, though not all territories, occupied as a result of the 1967 Six Day War; and, termination of all claims, and the right of every State in the area to live in peace within secure and recognized boundaries free from threats or acts of force. It said nothing about settlements. The call for negotiations to start was declared in UNSC Resolution 338 of October 22, 1973. Michael Curtis wrote in September : "Though criticism of the existence and expansion of settlements is widespread and many international bodies regard them as 'illegal,' a number of points are relevant. The first is that settlements are not in themselves an obstacle, let alone the main obstacle to peace. Secondly they are not a violation of the 1949 Fourth Geneva Convention that forbids a state from 'deporting or transferring' part of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies, since neither term is applicable to voluntary settlement. The Geneva Convention is not applicable to disputed territory. Thirdly, honest, objective analysis would indicate that the main obstacle to peace, and to a Palestinian state is Palestinian intransigence and resort to violence. Fourthly, it is an international understanding that the settlement question is one of the issues to be resolved in the negotiations for a final status agreement. Already, Israel has shown its understanding of the issue by evacuating or dismantling settlements, 18 in the Sinai Peninsula in 1982, 21 in the Gaza Strip and 4 in the West Bank in 2005. Fifthly, the very terminology is open to dispute. Since there has never been any internationally recognized legal sovereign in the West Bank before the 1967 War, it is arguable that the area is 'disputed' territory, not 'occupied' territory." • The Israel Supreme Court has declared that the fundamental principles of international law are incorporated in Israel's legal system, affirming that the Israeli presence in the West Bank is not an “occupation,” but a supervision of settlement activity, and that Israel upholds the distinction between authorized settlements that it considers legal and consistent with international law, and unauthorized settlements. Several times, the Court has ruled that settlements cannot be built on Palestinian private lands. In 2011, it ordered the razing of Migron, the largest hilltop outpost with 50 families, because it had been built on Palestinian land. In December 2014 it ordered the destruction of Amona that had been set up in the West Bank in 1995 as an unauthorized outpost without government permission and built on private land. On September 1, 2016 the Court ordered 17 unauthorized homes in the Derech Ha’avot outpost of 40 families in the West Bank be removed. The Court held they were built illegally, were not authorized as an outpost and were built without permission. The Israeli government has respected the court’s rulings. And, this has not been easy because West Bank settlers are more religious and Orthodox than other Jews, and less likely than other Israeli Jews to believe the Palestinian leadership is sincere in its efforts for peace, while they are more likely than other Jews to believe the Israeli government is making a sincere effort to reach peace. Curtis says : "It is futile for international organizations and critics of Israel to continue to insist that the settlements are the obstacle to peace. The settlement issue, like all the other disputed issues can only be resolved by peaceful negotiations. The US administration should seek to induce the Palestinian leadership to come to the negotiating table." • • • AVOIDANCE. Kerry outlined in his speech what he described as “principles” that could provide the basis for new talks. This included a return to borders negotiated based on the 1967 lines “with mutually agreed equivalent swaps” -- a position similar to President Obama’s stated position several years ago [are we surprised?]. He called for “two states for two peoples” with “equal rights for all” and a resolution for Jerusalem as the capital of the two states. He said the US acknowledges Israel’s “profound historic and religious ties to [East Jerusalem] and its holy sites.” He further said he understands some settlements would become part of Israel in a future two-state solution. Kerry thus offered no new ideas for solving the peace negotiation knots. He spoke in generalities that everyone has heard for decades. • Israel interprets Resolution 242 as calling for withdrawal from territories as part of a negotiated peace and full diplomatic recognition. The extent of withdrawal would come as a result of comprehensive negotiations leading to durable peace -- not before Arabs start to meet their own obligations under Resolution 242. Initially, the resolution was accepted by Egypt, Jordan and Israel but not by the Palestine Liberation Organization. The Arab position was initially that the Resolution called for Israel to withdraw from all the territory it occupied during the Six-Day War prior to peace agreements. Israel and the Arab states have negotiated in the past without including the Israeli withdrawal -- Israel and Jordan made peace without Israel withdrawing from the West Bank, since Jordan had already renounced its claims and recognized the PLO as the sole representative of the Palestinians. Egypt began negotiations before Israel withdrew from the Sinai. Negotiations ended without Egypt ever resuming control of the Gaza Strip, which Egypt held until 1967. • Supporters of the "Palestinian viewpoint" focus on the phrase in the resolution's preamble emphasizing the "inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by war," and note that the French version called for withdrawal from "des territoires occupés" - "the territories occupied". The French UN delegation insisted on this interpretation at the time, but both English and French are the Secretariat's working languages. Supporters of the "Israeli viewpoint" note that the second part of that same sentence in the preamble explicitly recognizes the need of existing states to live in security. They focus on the operative phrase calling for "secure and recognized boundaries" and note that the resolution calls for a withdrawal "from territories" rather than "from the territories" [that is, "from all territories"], as the Arabs and others proposed. The French version of the term were rejected from the final draft of Resolution 242. • DEAR READERS, Netanyahu got it right : "Secretary Kerry paid lip service to the unremitting campaign of terrorism that has been waged by the Palestinians. I want young Palestinian children to be educated like our children, for peace. But they aren't. They're taught to lionize and idolize terrorists....I don't seek applause. I seek the security, peace, and prosperity and the future of the Jewish state. Israelis do not need to be lectured about the importance of peace. We pray for peace, we work for it every day." Then, Netanyahu used Obama's own words against him, quoting his 2011 UN speech, where Obama said : “Peace is hard work. Peace will not come through statements and resolutions at the United Nations.” • And, years ago, US Ambassador Arthur J. Goldberg, another of the Resolution 242's drafters, stated that the resolution does not dictate the extent of the withdrawal, and added that this matter should be negotiated between the parties : "Does Resolution 242 as unanimously adopted by the UN Security Council require the withdrawal of Israeli armed forces from all of the territories occupied by Israel during the 1967 war? The answer is no. In the resolution, the words the and all are omitted. Resolution 242 calls for the withdrawal of Israeli armed forces from territories occupied in the 1967 conflict, without specifying the extent of the withdrawal. The resolution, therefore, neither commands nor prohibits total withdrawal. If the resolution is ambiguous, and purposely so, on this crucial issue, how is the withdrawal issue to be settled? By direct negotiations between the concerned parties. Resolution 242 calls for agreement between them to achieve a peaceful and accepted settlement. Agreement and acceptance necessarily require negotiations." • So, whatever Kerry and Obama try to shove down the throat of Benjamin Netantahu as payment for his being unwilling to cede all to the Palestinians, they have failed and are now showing just how spiteful they are, making the two-state issue the centerpiece of their angry parting shot at both Netanyahu and Trump. • But, as both Kerry and Obama well know, the person who will have the next meaningful word is President-elect Donald Trump, who on Wednesday urged Israel to “stay strong” until he moves into the White House, signaling that US policy toward the Jewish nation would be shifting under his administration. Hours before Kerry’s speech, Trump made his thoughts on the Obama administration’s treatment of Israel clear : “We cannot continue to let Israel be treated with such total disdain and disrespect. They used to have a great friend in the US, but … not anymore. The beginning of the end was the horrible Iran deal, and now this (UN)! Stay strong Israel, January 20th is fast approaching!”

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Trump, Afghanistan, and Defense Spending

With China, Russia, Iran, and ISIS on his plate, President-Elect Trump -- and the media -- seem to have forgotten about Afghanistan, the one war that President Obama has not ended. • • • AFGHANISTAN. TheHill's Rebecca Kheel is the exception, recently reminding us that Trump’s pledges to end nation-building missions of the military will be tested in Afghanistan, where "President Obama repeatedly came up against the reality of a country unready for US forces to leave." Obama has drawn the US military presence in Afghanistan to 8,400 troops, well above the 1,000 he originally wanted to leave at just the US embassy in Kabul. Obama formally ended the combat mission in 2014, but US troops remain on a dual mission : conducting counterterrorism strikes against groups such as al Qaida and ISIS in Iraq and Syria, and training, advising and assisting Afghan forces in their fight against the Taliban, a mission critics call nation-building. Faced with a resilient Taliban and recommendations from his military advisors not to withdraw, Obama was twice forced to increase the number of troops he planned to leave in Afghanistan, first to 5,500 then to 8,400. Nine US soldiers were killed in action in Afghanistan in 2016, including three soldiers killed in the first suicide bombing inside the walls of the heavily guarded Bagram Airfield since US troops arrived.Trump will face the same issue. • • • Michael O’Hanlon, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, told TheHill : “Afghanistan is inherently and profoundly mixed as a mission. I think in the end, his view, given that it provides a counterterrorism platform, will probably be that it’s worth keeping that level of investment.” In its latest biannual report on the security situation in Afghanistan, the Pentagon said the Taliban is in control of or has influence over 10% of the country and is contesting the government for another 20%. US officials have said the Taliban holds more ground than at any point since it was ousted from power in 2001. The Pentagon report, released in December, also said the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF) continue to need the help of US and NATO forces. It states : “Although the ANDSF denied the insurgency any strategic successes, the ANDSF have also demonstrated the need for continued US and coalition support to address persistent capability gaps and deficiencies." • • • Trump spoke with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani via telephone on December 2. They discussed the “grave terrorism threats facing both countries and pledged to work more closely together in order to meet these growing threats,” according to a brief statement from Trump’s transition team. The Afghan embassy in Washington said Ghani also reportedly signaled his desire for the US to keep a strong presence in Afghanistan, stressing “that the joint war against terrorism has made America a foundational partner to the people of Afghanistan.” He said US investments in his country "are bearing fruit." Although Afghanistan was not a major issue in the presidential campaign, in an October, 2015, interview with CNN, Trump called it a mistake to go into Afghanistan in the first place, but said the President would have little choice but to keep troops there : “At some point, are they going to be there for the next 200 years? We made a terrible mistake getting involved there in the first place. We had real brilliant thinkers that didn't know what the hell they were doing. And it's a mess. It's a mess. And at this point, you probably have to [stay] because that thing will collapse about two seconds after they leave.” More often, Trump has spoken broadly about the need to end nation-building. Last August he said : “Our current strategy of nation-building and regime change is a proven failure. If I become President, the era of nation-building will be ended. Our new approach, which must be shared by both parties in America, by our allies overseas and by our friends in the Middle East, must be to halt the spread of radical Islam.” That statement seems to leave the door open to "nqtion building " that is called something else. • • • Any attempts to curtail the mission in Afghanistan could be met by opposition from Trump's choice for Defense Secretary, retired General James Mattis. Mattis rose to national prominence in 2001 as the then-one-star general who led an amphibious task force of Marines that carried out the raid on Kandahar province in Afghanistan. As commander of Central Command, Mattis recommended Obama keep 13,600 troops in the country after the end of the combat mission, thousands more than the 9,800 troops Obama eventually settled on. In August, Mattis spoke about the need to stay engaged in the Middle East beyond the battlefield, just as the United States did in Europe after World War II : “We created the Marshall Plan, three years after Nazis were burning Jews. We offered them locomotives, rail lines, anything to help get their economies going again. That's the greatest generation. The point is it's more than just fighting battles." O’Hanlon, the Brookings fellow, said he wouldn’t classify Afghanistan as nation-building, particularly since it’s a term “full of baggage,” but that Trump could press the issue if he so desires. “If President Trump wanted to make it into an issue, he could. It still costs $15 billion a year and there are still several Americans killed. But it’s a central location where you can attack al Qaeda and ISIL, operate drones, conduct surveillance, conduct commando raids if need be. That’s pretty useful.” Sean McFate, a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council, said that based on Trump’s derision of nation-building, he could foresee Trump abandoning the mission of training, advising and assisting conventional Afghan forces, though he could envision Trump trying to build small, elite Afghan counterterrorism forces. But, he added, Trump “sent mix messages during his campaign.” McFate also said he thinks the public would back any Trump decision to curtail the Afghanistan mission : “I think the American people are tired with perpetual boots on the ground with nothing to show. Fifteen years have yielded precious little results. The U.S. needs to get out. What we’re all worried about is, is there a way to do that to minimize risk to the US, and can you do that without it being a propaganda coup to the Taliban.” • • • THE F-35. The two largest US defense contractors said recently that they would seek to control their costs after President-elect Donald Trump summoned them and a bevy of top Pentagon officials to his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida to discuss military spending. 6(ump told reporters : “We’re trying to get costs down, costs. Primarily the F-35. That program is very, very expensive.” Trump has employed his Twitter account and its nearly 18 million followers as a weapon against defense contractors, using it to criticize the expense of Boeing Co.’s planned update of Air Force One and Lockheed Martin Corp.’s $379 billion F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, the most expensive US weapon system ever. Boeing Chief Executive Officer Dennis Muilenburg said he told Trump the planemaker can build a new version of the presidential aircraft for less than $4 billion : “We’re going to get it done for less than that, and we’re committed to working together to make sure that happens.” Lockheed CEO Marillyn Hewson didn’t announce any new commitments to Trump, while signaling the company has been making progress in lowering costs : “I appreciated the opportunity to discuss the importance of the F-35 program and the progress we’ve made in bringing the costs down. The F-35 is a critical program to our national security and I conveyed our continued commitment to delivering an affordable aircraft to our US military and our allies.” Despite its early stumbles, costs for the stealth fighter have fallen steadily in recent years as it approaches full production. Lockheed expects to lower manufacturing costs to $85 million a plane by the end of the decade, in line with the expense for current-generation fighters. • Apparently, Lockheed's Hewson didn' understand the message, but the stock market did -- Boeing shares ended 0.7% higher at $157.48 on Wednesday in New York, while Lockheed shares slipped 0.5% to $252.52. Defense companies stand to benefit from a resurgence in military spending promised by Trump and already underway in Western Europe and Asia as global tensions rise. Trump’s Twitter outbursts toward the two contractors may be an attempt to harmonize two competing objectives: higher spending on the military and “reform and discipline,” said Richard Aboulafia, a defense analyst with Teal Group, said in a report this month. “Those goals are tough to reconcile.” Muilenburg said he gave Trump his “personal commitment on behalf of the Boeing Company,” that Boeing will build the new 747 jets and outfit them to the Pentagon’s specifications, which include secure communications and anti-missile defenses. Boeing is just beginning work on the systems that will go into the new aircraft and hasn’t yet been awarded a contract for construction of the planes. Trump added : “We’re looking to cut a tremendous amount of money off the price....It’s a dance, you know. It’s a little bit of a dance. We’re going to get the costs down and we’re going to do it beautifully.” • • • DEAR READERS, the Pentagon will be gearing up for major increases in defense spending in order to meet Trump's goal of reinforcing the US military's position as the largest and best in the world -- a position it still holds but that Obama has consistently chiseled away at. With China and Russia on major military upgrade programs of their own, Trump will not be left in the dust technically or in troop strength. And, it seems highly unlikely that Trump will leave Afghanistan, thus opening the door for Iran and Russia to fill the void with anti-western aid. That would undo much of the as yet unannounced plans Trump has for "hitting" ISIS hard. And, it would feel a lot like the Obama withdrawal from Iraq. Stay tuned. This will heat up soon after January 20.

Monday, December 26, 2016

While Christians Are Martyred in the Middle East, Israel Is Persecuted by the United Nations

In the face of the United Nations Security Council adoption of the anti-settlements resolution, many Jewish online commenters are talking about the religious aspect of Israel's betrayal by Barack Obama. [See the new PopShot.] • • • PRESIDENT-ELECT TRUMP AND MRS. TRUMP CELEBRATE CHRISTMAS AT CHURCH. At the same time, American political analysts are taking note of President-Elect Trump's emphasis on the fact that Christmas is a Christian religious feast. • President-Elect Trump and Mrs. Trump began their Christmas by attending midnight services at an Episcopal church in Palm Beach, Florida, where they were married in 2005. Newsmax printed a tweet of one of the chruchgoers, who wrote : "Florida parishioners cheer for Trump tonight as he arrives for Christmas Eve mass." For Americans, it is undoubtedly refreshing just to see their President-Elect attending a church service, something often lacking during the Obama presidency. • Trump has spoken out against the increased use of the term "Happy Holidays" in place of "Merry Christmas" as a sign that Christianity is under attack. As President, he's said, he'll reverse the trend. Trump also tweeted wishes for a "Happy Hanukkah" earlier Saturday. • FALWELL JR. PRAISES TRUMP. Despite some of President-elect Donald Trump's divisive rhetoric, evangelical leader Jerry Falwell Jr., president of Liberty University, told Fox News he never wavered in his support for the GOP nominee because he was for the working class, "was a good man," and we were not electing a "pastor-in-chief." Trump's election has worked out, Falwell Jr. told Chris Wallace : "My wife's noticed as she's done her Christmas shopping, more of the retailers are saying 'Merry Christmas.' There's a new hope, an optimism. There's a good spirit in America. And I think that's coming from [Trump's] lead." Falwell Jr. admitted he took a leap of faith in being unwavering in supporting Trump during this election : "It was sort of a gamble because I didn't know where he'd come down on all the issues, but because I believed he was a good man, I believed he would come down on the right side of the issues, and he's done that in the last year and I've been proud of him." Fox reported that Trump is overwhelmingly popular among evangelicals, getting 80% of their vote, as Fox News reported, figures which surpassed GOP candidates Mitt Romney (78% in 2012), John McCain (74% in 2008) and George W. Bush (78% in 2004). Falwell Jr. said : "We have to find the candidate who is most likely to support all the values that we hold dear. Evangelicals aren't that much different than the general population." • • • CHRISTIAN MARTYRS AND OBAMA'S SILENCE. Ralph Peters, retired US Army officer and Fox Strategic Analyst, wrote a piece for Fox News on Monday, talking of the martyrdom of St. Stephen (see Monday's blog). He tied the persecution of the early Christians to their martyrdom today : "The 2,000-year-old Middle-Eastern Christian civilization that began in the days of St. Stephen lies in ruins, persecuted as never before. As the Obama administration averted its self-righteous gaze, a religious genocide already underway accelerated across the region. Stubborn and dogmatic, the administration refused to acknowledge the problem of Christian refugees -- those who’d survived the kidnappings, tortures, rapes, massacres and broad religious cleansing -- even to the extent of labeling those who wished to help Christians as bigots. In Obama’s global village, there’s no room at the inn for Christian refugees. There’s not even a stable. We’ve watched as a great religious civilization nears extermination. For a thousand years, through good and horrid times, the three great monotheist religions of the Middle East rubbed along together (with varying levels of friction). Then...the Jews were driven out. Next came the turn of the Christians, as well as a number of minority faiths. Thanks to extremist Islam." Peters notes in his article : "In the Middle Ages, the majority of Christians lived in the east. The doctrines of the faith were refined in Asia Minor, Palestine and North Africa. The greatest monuments of Christianity’s first thousand years all stood -- a few still stand -- in lands where Christians long have been persecuted and are now massacred. Now the Christians are gone, their churches, monasteries and homes in ruins. This is a new age of martyrs. It’s a time when those who believe in the transcendent generosity of Christ are driven from their homes to suffer exile....Even Bethlehem, within living memory a majority-Christian city, has driven out the followers of Jesus until perhaps a dwindling eighth of the population is Christian." All this has occurred during Barack Obama's presidency, says Peters, without protest from students, the media, "the Pharisees we call 'public intellectuals,' or 'our can’t-be-bothered government.' Those Christians who survive the new barbarians become refugees with nowhere to go. Assigned to “all-faith” asylum homes in Europe, they’re tormented, beaten and threatened by violent migrants. Nor can they go elsewhere in the Middle East. Yet, we in the United States bar the door against them—in the name of religious tolerance, of all things. One day, we will be as ashamed of our denial of Christian refugees as deeply as we are shamed by our rejection of Jewish refugees from the Nazis." • • • OBAMA, THE UNITED NATIONS, AND THE ANTI-ISRAEL RESOLUTION. Newsmax says that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is reportedly reaching out to President-Elect Donald Trump and the US Congress in order to prevent the Obama administration from what the Israeli government fears is an American attempt to have the UN Security Council pass more resolutions against Israel by approving principles for a Palestinian state." The Times of Israel reports that the Netanyahu government, angered that the Security Council on Friday condemned Israel’s settlement activities when the US failed to veto the resolution, feels the measure is biased against Israel and is only an attempt by the Palestinians to delegitimize the Jewish state and avoid any direct negotiations. Critics of the resolution say that it will only harden positions and make an attempt at a peaceful solution to the conflict much more difficult. Netanyahu held a 40-minute meeting with US Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro on Sunday evening after summoning him to explain why the United States abstained on the resolution, allowing it to pass. Netanyahu also summoned all the envoys of the other countries with representatives in Israel who voted for the resolution, which passed 14-0, including the other four UNSC permanent members -- France, Britain, China and Russia. • Israeli media reports that Netanyahu is also reaching out to the President-Elect, as well as to members of Congress, to attempt to have the new administration make clear that a Trump White House will economically harm those nations that vote against Israel in future UN resolutions. In another sign of Israel’s anger at the resolution, the Jerusalem Municipality will this week reportedly approve new housing in large Jewish neighborhoods of Jerusalem that were built after Israel captured the areas in the 1967 war. To emphasize his point, Netanyahu went to the Western Wall on Sunday evening, the second night of Hanukkah, to light the menorah there, reported the Jerusalem Post. The Western Wall, Judaism's holiest site, is the outer wall of the Second Temple which stood on the plateau above it until destroyed by the Romans 2,000 years ago, and was part of the territory Israel won in the 1967 war and is thus covered by the Friday anti-stettlement resolution. A Jewish temple first stood on the site 3,000 years ago, long before Islam, or Christianity, existed [the resolution is akin to the UN deciding that the Acropolis doesn't belong to Greece]. The JPost says Netanyahu points out on his Facebook page that Hanukkah celebrates the Jewish nation’s victory over the occupying Greeks who defiled the Temple and that the Jewish homeland included areas that are over the pre-1967 lines. Netanyahu fears that Secretary of State John Kerry will set out parameters for a Palestinian state in a speech on the Middle East that he says he will deliver in the next few days and then have a resolution enshrining those principles adopted by the Security Council in the time Obama has left in office. At Sunday’s weekly Cabinet meeting, Netanyahu publicly blamed Obama for the resolution’s passing, saying : "We have no doubt the Obama administration initiated [the resolution], stood behind it, coordinated the wording and demanded it be passed." • DERSHOWITZ SPEAKS OUT. Alan Dershowitz agrees with Netanyahu. TheHill published an article by Dershowite this weekend in which he says : "The Obama administration pulled a bait and switch in refusing to veto the recent Security Council resolution against Israel. In attempting to justify its abstention -- which under Security Council rules has the same effect as a vote in favor -- the administration focuses on “new” settlement building, especially in areas deep into the West Bank." Dershowitz quotes US Ambassador Samantha Power's explanation to the Security Council : “Today, the Security Council reaffirmed its established consensus that settlements have no legal validity....President Obama and Secretary Kerry have repeatedly warned -- publically and privately -- that the absence of progress toward peace and continued settlement expansion was going to put the two-state solution at risk, and threaten Israel’s stated objective to remain both a Jewish State and a democracy....This resolution reflects trends that will permanently destroy the hope of a two-state solution if they continue on their current course.” Dershowitz also quoted Ben Rhodes, Obama’s Deputy National Security Advisor : “Netanyahu had the opportunity to pursue policies that would have led to a different outcome today....In the absence of any meaningful peace process, as well as in the accelerated settlement activity, we took the decision that we did today to abstain on the resolution.” And, says Dershowitz, the media -- from CNN, to the New York Times, to the Wall Street Journal -- also reported that the resolution was only about the expansion of new settlements. BUT, says Dershowitz, Professor Emeritus at Harvard Law School : "the text of the resolution itself goes well beyond new building in these controversial areas and applies equally to historically Jewish areas that were unlawfully taken by Jordanian military action during Israel’s War of Independence and liberated by Israel in a war started by Jordan in 1967. The text of the Security Council Resolution says that 'any changes to the 4 June 1967 lines, including with regard to Jerusalem,' have 'no legal validity and constitutes a flagrant violation under international law.' This means that Israel’s decision to build a plaza for prayer at the Western Wall -- Judaism’s holiest site -- constitutes a 'flagrant violation of international law.' If it does, then why did President Obama pray there and leave a note asking for peace? Under this resolution, the access roads that opened up Hebrew University to Jewish and Arab students and the Hadassah Hospital to Jewish and Arab patients are illegal, as are all the rebuilt synagogues -- destroyed by Jordan -- in the ancient Jewish Quarter of the Old City." THEN, Dershowitz asks : "Is it really now US policy to condemn Israel for liberating these historically Jewish areas in Jerusalem? Does Obama really believe they should be made judenrein again, as they were between 1949 and 1967? If so, why didn’t the administration openly acknowledge that it was changing half a century of bipartisan support for Israel’s claims to these sacred areas? If not, why did it not demand changes in the language of the resolution to limit it to new building in disputed areas of the West Bank? The Obama administration can’t have it both ways. It must now declare where it stands on Israel’s right to allow prayer at the Western Wall, access to Hebrew University and Hadassah Hospital, and the repair of destroyed synagogues to the Jewish Quarter." Dershowitz is direct in his conclusion : "President-Elect Donald Trump and Congress can make it clear that it is not US policy that all changes 'to the 4 June 1967 lines, including with regard to Jerusalem' are in violation of international law. The new President can immediately recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and begin the process of moving our embassy there. The justification for keeping it in Tel Aviv was not to change the status quo, but that justification no longer exists because this resolution does precisely that : it declares the status quo -- the reality on the ground that acknowledges Israel’s legitimate claims to its most sacred and historical Jewish areas -- to be flagrant violations of international law. Congress can legislate no funding to implement the Security Council’s troubling resolution." Dershowitz, renowned lawyer that he is, then puts Obama in his logic-vice, saying that Obama should either publicly announce that he agrees that the sacred Jewish areas covered by the resolution are in violation of international law, OR, if Obama refuses to make clear his vote against Israel's right to these areas, then : "the entire resolution should be deemed invalid because the US did not cast its abstention -- the equivalent of a yes vote -- in good faith." • • • ISRAEL'S CONTINUING MARTYRDOM AT THE UNITED NATIONS. While Christians are being physically martyred in the Middle East as the world ignores the genocidal attacks, Israel is being martyred at the UN by a 'world organization' that supposedly works for peace, even as it continues to abuse and penalize the one Middle East country that works for peace throughout the region. President-Elect Trump said Saturday that Israel's "big loss" with the United Nations on Friday "will make it harder to negotiate peace" -- but that "we will get it done anyway." This Trump tweet got 15,499 retweets and 59,416 likes. A senior Israeli government official described Obama’s stunning departure from US policy : “This is the last sting from President Obama. An act that revealed the true face of the Obama administration. Now the world can see what we have been facing for the past eight years.” Both Israel and the US Congress have threatened to respond by cutting funding to the United Nations, and aid to the nations that promoted the resolution. Netanyahu said in English at his cabinet meeting : "Over decades, American administrations and Israeli governments have disagreed about settlements, but we agreed that the Security Council was not the place to resolve this issue. As I told [Secretary of State] John Kerry on Thursday, friends don’t take friends to the Security Council." Obama has faced widespread backlash from Republicans and some Democrats since the decision to abstain from the vote. Netanyahu on Sunday canceled a planned visit by Ukraine’s prime minister and recalled Israel's ambassadors to Senegal and New Zealand, the two sponsors of the reslolution where Israel has embassies. • Former US Ambassador to the UN, John Bolton, said Friday night that he thinks President Obama took the action to "box the incoming Trump administration in." Bolton told Fox News' "Hannity" show Friday night. "It was entirely predictable. I would say this for people in the pro-Israel community in the United States who defended Obama's Middle East policy over these last eight years : You should have seen this coming and this is what you get for supporting Barack Obama." The proposed resolution says Israel's occupation is "illegitimate," said Bolton, and "therefore it has no land to give back in exchange for peace. Contrary to what the Obama administration has said, this puts a huge thumb on the scale against Israel....I do think, contrary to what Obama says, ths is the death now of the two-state solution. It shows once again it's fundamentally unworkable, and I think Netanyahu and a nearly unanimous Israeli opinion will support him on that." When it come to the United States, Bolton said : "it's time to stand up for principle....I've certainly advocated for a long time [that] votes in the United Nations should have consequences. We've got two issues here, the 14 countries that voted in favor of the resolution and the United Nations as a whole." • • • DEAR READERS, for many years, the citizens of the United States have had a love-hate relationship with the UN. On Christmas Eve, Senator Lindsey Graham pledged to propose a measure to cut US funding to the UN unless it repeals the resolution demanding an end to Israeli settlements. Graham said : "It's that important to me. This is a road we haven't gone down before. If you can't show the American people that international organizations can be more responsible, there is going to be a break. And I am going to lead that break." Graham called the UN resolution a "provocative action" that "must be dealt with sternly and forcefully." He said, before the resolution passed : "If the United Nations moves forward with the ill-conceived resolution, I will work to form a bipartisan coalition to suspend or significantly reduce United States assistance to the United Nations. In addition, any nation which backs this resolution and receives assistance from the United States will put that assistance in jeopardy." • To permit the anti-Semitic members of the United Nations to continue to pillory Israel while the United States keeps signing checks that make their actions possible, as well as to continue to provide the New York City building in which they plot the destruction of Israel and the Jewish religion, is inexcusable. Either the UN must stop its attacks on Israel or the United States must withdraw funding and other support for the United Nations. Period.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

December 26 is Called Boxing Day, the Feast of St Stephen, or the Second Day of Christmas...Enjoy It !

December 26 is the second day of Christmas in most of Europe. It's called Boxing Day in Britain and the Commonwealth, not because of the sport, but because the English traditionally took boxes of cakes and sweets and gifts to offer when they visited friends on the day after Christmas. • Boxing Day in England was also traditionally a day off for servants and the day when they received a ‘Christmas Box’ from the master. The servants would also go home on Boxing Day to give ‘Christmas Boxes’ to their families. • Boxing Day is a time to spend with family or friends, usually those not seen on Christmas Day itself. With guests often stopping in for a snack and quick drink, the food and drink on Boxing Day are more relaxed than Christmas Day. Lunch can be a buffet or leftovers from Christmas dinner. Baked Ham is a popular Boxing Day meat and mince pies with brandy butter or a slice of Christmas cake are almost obligatory. • The European tradition, which has long included giving money and other gifts to those who were needy and in service positions, has been dated to the Middle Ages, but its exact origin is unknown. It is believed to be in reference to the Alms Box placed in areas of worship to collect donations to the poor. Also, it may come from a custom in the late Roman/early Christian era, when metal boxes placed outside churches were used to collect special offerings tied to the Feast of Saint Stephen, which in the Western Church falls on the same day as Boxing Day. • In recent times, the day has become synonymous with many sports in Britain. Horse racing is particularly popular with meets all over Britain. Many top football teams also play on Boxing Day. • Boxing Day is also a time when the British show their eccentricity by taking part in all kinds of silly activities. These include traditions like swimming the icy cold English Channel, fun runs, and charity events. • Another ‘sport’ to emerge in recent years is shopping. Sadly, what was once a day of relaxation and family time is now also the start of the after-Christmas sales. Sales used to start in January after New Year, but now, grabbing a bargain and shops trying to off-load stock has turned Boxing Day into a "Black Friday" of sorts. • In Ireland and many continental European countries, Boxing Day is known as "St. Stephen's Day" and is famous for its "Wren Boys." St. Stephen was killed, purportedly stoned to death, for believing in Jesus. In Ireland, the Wren Boys originally would go out with blackened faces and stone wrens to death, and carry their catch around the town knocking on doors and asking for money. This barbaric act has long since vanished, but the Wrens Boys will still dress up and parade around town, often playing music and singing, collecting money for charity. In Europe, they are often called Mummers • And so we take one more day to celebrate Christmas. Normal blogs will begin again tomorrow.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

A Difficult Christmas Season but the Promise of Peace on Earth Is Still with Us

Dear Readers, the world is not as joyful as we would hope at Christmas 2016. • • • The New York Post tells the story of a Nativity scene and Christmas tree in place and children proudly wearing red Santa Claus hats or showing off new toys, mostly plastic guns for small boys -- windows and balconies are festooned with colorful balloons. It's Christmas at the Ankawa camp, home to thousands of Iraqi Christians who have been displaced since the ISIS group seized their towns and villages in the Nineveh plains of northern Iraq in 2014. They still can’t go home even though their towns and villages have been wrested back from the militants by Iraqi forces, because the towns are in ruins, with no water or electricity. The Christians are also haunted by memories of their flight from ISIS. An 80-year-old Victoria Behman Akouma told the NYPost : “I just want to go home. They asked me to convert to Islam, but I told them I will die a Christian and that they can kill me if they want to." She was lucky. After 11 days under ISIS rule, the militants escorted her to the border of the self-ruled Kurdish region in northern Iraq. Of the estimated 1.5 million Christians who lived in Iraq under Saddam Hussein, about 500,000 are left. The ISIS onslaught across northern Iraq in 2014 devastated the unique, ancient communities in Christian-majority town like Karamlis, Bartella and Qaraqosh -- all in the Nineveh plains. The Iraqi offensive launched in October to retake Mosul has recaptured most Christian areas. But so far, the Christians have only gone back for visits, to see homes or attend services in churches that were not as badly damaged and deemed safe. Returning home for good appears a distant prospect. The Reverend Khouri Youssef, 73, a Catholic Chaldean priest from Karamlis, was one of two priests who organized the exit of the town’s estimated 3,000 population in 2014 when ISIS was about to take the town. Now, he somberly speaks of the plight of the town’s people away from home and without hope of returning soon : “They are crammed four families or more to an apartment, with no privacy or space. We miss praying in our churches, sitting outside our homes in the summer evenings, tending our gardens and living in our homes. We bear the wound in our hearts, but life goes on.” • • • There is also the Christmas 2016 story of ISIS barbarians apparently chaining two Turkish soldiers by their necks and attaching fuses to their bodies before burning them alive in northern Syria. A gruesome new video released by the terror group shows the atrocity. Their executioner attacks Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and calls for “destruction to be sowed” in Turkey, according to Al Arabiya. He then presses a button on a small device, and soon, both men are engulfed by flames. ISIS said the latest executions were payback for Ankara’s involvement in a “war against Moslems,” according to RT (Russia Today). • • • On a more hopeful side of Christmas 2016, TheHill published the Christmas letter sent to President-Elect Donald Trump by Vladimir Putin. Trump called it : "A very nice letter from Vladimir Putin; his thoughts are so correct. I hope both sides are able to live up to these thoughts, and we do not have to travel an alternate path." In the letter, Putin emphasized the importance of cooperation between the two countries. Here is TheHill's translation of the letter : "HIS EXCELLENCY DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT-ELECT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Washington, DC; Moscow, Kremlin December 15, 2016. Dear Mr. Trump, Please accept my warmest Christmas and New Year greetings. Serious global and regional challenges, which our countries have to face in recent years, show that the relations between Russia and the U.S. remain an important factor in ensuring stability and security of the modern world. I hope that after you assume the position of the President of the United States of America we will be able – by acting in a constructive and pragmatic manner - to take real steps to restore the framework of bilateral cooperation in different areas as well as bring our level of collaboration on the international scene to a qualitatively new level. Please accept my sincere wishes to you and your family of sound health, happiness, wellbeing, success and all the best. Sincerely, V. Putin" • If there really is good in President Putin, who considers himself the protector of the Christian faith, let us pray that President Trump will be able to give that good space to grow for the benefit of people everywhere. • • • And, on Thursday, Ivanka Trump and her family were accosted by Dan Goldstein, a lawyer from Brooklyn, who yelled at her that her father, who has yet to take office, was “ruining the country.” It wasn’t a spontaneous outburst. Goldstein’s husband had tweeted from the JetBlue terminal at JFK Airport that Goldstein was “chasing” Ivanka and her family to “harass” them. "Why is she on our flight? She should be flying private,” Goldstein reportedly shouted when he saw them on the plane and allegedly tried to harass her children as well. Goldstein and his husband were removed from the plane, with Goldstein complaining that he was merely “expressing his opinion.” Lunatic men badgering women on planes in front of their kids apparently is fair play -- if the mother is related to a Republican you don’t like. The Progressive left seems to be trying to turn the whole country into a liberal safe space -- safe for them, dangerous for anyone who disagrees with them. They’ve lost their bearings. • • • But, for those who think ill of Israel, consider this report. Israel Today on Thursday, published a story about Israel helping its enemies who are suffering. Israel Today wrote : "Syria has openly declared itself an enemy of Israel. Dictator Bashar Assad even took the time to reiterate as much last week, despite the fact he’s got far bigger problems at the moment. The people of Syria have been raised on hatred of Israel. They view the Jewish state as their chief foe, regardless of what other calamities they may currently be facing. But Israel won’t let that stop it from trying to help those Syrians ravaged by their country’s ongoing civil war. Already Israel has treated thousands of civilians from southern Syria at an IDF field hospital on the Golan Heights and at medical centers across northern Israel. At the moment, its the population of the northern Syria city of Aleppo that is most in need. Being so far from the border with Israel, however, it’s difficult for the Jewish state to provide aid. Israel’s ambassador to Turkey, Eitan Na’eh, told Israel Radio on Wednesday that the government is looking for other ways to help. 'Everyone who sees the images from Syria, and especially from Aleppo, cannot but be shocked by the suffering of the civilians, and try to do what is possible to ease their suffering,' he said. One idea is that wounded from Aleppo will be brought to neighboring Turkey, and from their transported to Israel for advanced treatment. 'We are prepared to take in wounded women and children, and also men if they are not combatants -- bring them to Israel, take care of them in our hospitals as we have done with thousands of Syrian civilians,' said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in a statement released this week. Another proposal is for Israel to provide funding, equipment and supplies to other aid organizations operating in the area. In a letter to Netanyahu, Chief Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef offered to coordinate directly with the Red Cross to bring Israeli assistance to the people of Aleppo. Yosef closed his letter with a powerful statement that demonstrated how Israel may, ironically, be the nation that most adheres to Jesus’ teaching to love your enemies : 'This should be our eternal declaration, that we, the Children of Israel, who believe in the sanctity of life, do not distinguish between blood and blood. We treat all people as those who were created in the image of God, even if we are talking about enemies.' ” • This is Israel, the country being vilified by a United Nations driven by anti-Semitic hatred of the only democracy in the Middle East. • • • However, there are also the words of Queen Elizabeth II, 90, who is not well this Christmas. We will hear her always hopeful Christmas message tomorrow, and, as she has done for more than 60 years, she will call on the better nature of humankind, asking for us to learn to live in brotherhood and peace. Here is my favorite of the Queen's previous Christmas thoughts : "At Christmas, I am always struck by how the spirit of togetherness lies also at the heart of the Christmas story. A young mother and a dutiful father with their baby were joined by poor shepherds and visitors from afar. They came with their gifts to worship the Christ child....For many, Christmas is also a time for coming together. But for others, service will come first." • • • Just as Queen Elizabeth serves, soldiers all over the world are also serving, in the fight to bring back to the planet some sense of the "togetherness" that the Queen champions. So, as we prepare to celebrate Christmas, or Hanukkah, let us not forget a special prayer and thank-you to all the soldiers who are not at home this Christmas so that we who depend on their vigilance may be with those we love. • • • As always, I offer you the beautiful story of the Nativity found in St. Luke 2 : "And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them : and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men. And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us." • Wherever you may be, whatever you may be doing, pause to consider that there is a loving God who, if only we will listen, is prepared to lead us to peace and brotherhood. Wishing everyone a Merry Christmas and a Happy Hanukkah. .

Friday, December 23, 2016

Obama Has Finally Proven that He Is an Anti-Semitic Pro-Palestinian Pro-Iran-Terrorist Betrayer of America and Its Democratic Values

I am outraged. The despicable, anti-Semitic, pro-Iranian/shiite supporter who will be leaving the US presidency in a shambles in 28 days has used America's UN Security Council seat to permit the adoption of a resolution condemning Israeli settlements. The Obama ambassador abstained for the United States. The resolution was adopted Friday afternoon with 14 votes in favor and the US abstention. The resolution calls Israeli settlements “a flagrant violation of international law” that damage the prospects of a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and the critically important US abstention during the UN Security Council vote clears the way for the world body to condemn Israeli settlement construction in the West Bank and east Jerusalem. The adoption was greeted with sustained applause. • • • This marked the first time in more than 36 years that the Security Council has passed a resolution critical of settlements. The United States’ abstention reflects the Obama administration opposition over settlement growth that they consider an obstacle to peace. Barack Obama's position is based on pure anti-Israel sentiment and revenge against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's daring to disagree with him about the Iranian nuclear deal -- another Obama catastrophe that also highlights his pro-Iran pro-shiite anti-semitic political position. • • • President Obama came under withering criticism in the last couple of days as the resolution weaved its way through the Security Council. • Morton Klein, president of the Zionists Organization of America, the country’s oldest pro-Israel organization, said : “Obama has made it clear that he’s a Jew-hating anti-Semite. He likes Jews who are his friends but not Jews in general. Obama is sticking it to the Jewish state of Israel.” • Incoming Democrat Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer said he strongly urged the White House to veto the resolution : “Whatever one’s views are on settlements, anyone who cares about the future of Israel and peace in the region knows that the UN, with its one-sidedness, is exactly the wrong forum to bring about peace. I have spoken directly to the Administration numerous times...and in the strongest terms possible urged them to veto this resolution. I am strongly opposed to the UN putting pressure on Israel through one-sided resolutions. An abstention is not good enough. The Administration must veto this resolution.” • Democrat Senator Kirsten Gillibrand also said the White House should do everything it could to kill the resolution : “I call on the Administration to do everything in its power to make sure this resolution is not put forward or passed." • Republican Senator Lindsey Graham called the vote a “provocative action by the United Nations” and said that if the resolution passes, he could work to reduce assistance to the UN. • Representative Lee Zeldin, a Republican, urged President-Elect Donald Trump to cut all aid to the Palestinian Authority. Zeldin said : “This is an anti-Semitic, anti-Jewish, anti-Israel resolution." • World Jewish Congress President Ronald Lauder said : "We urge the United States, Israel’s greatest ally, to veto this text. It is counterproductive, and does nothing to enhance the role of the United Nations in resolving the Middle East conflict.” • Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu began a flurry of diplomatic maneuvers and even reached out to Trump to enlist his support. That led Trump to tweet on Thursday : “The resolution being considered at the United Nations Security Council regarding Israel should be vetoed.” The scheduled Thursday vote was postponed when Egypt withdrew it after President el-Sissi spoke by phone with President-Elect Donald Trump. But, four other countries on the Security Council -- New Zealand, Malaysia, Venezuela and Senegal -- sponsored and introduced it. • • • Rumors in Washington suggest that Republicans in Congress will move to stop the $600 million in aid the US provides to the Palestinian Authority, now that the resolution is approved. And, shortly before the vote, several US senators said that if it passed they would introduce legislation to cut off US funding to the United Nations and to any states that voted in favor of it. Richard Grenell, a former spokesman for US ambassadors to the UN in Republican administrations, said the stakes are too high for Obama to be on the sidelines : “The Obama team is playing politics at the UN as they walk out the door. There is little regard for the consequences of their anti-Israel actions. It’s shameful." • • • Dear readers, Barack Obama likes to hide his real positions on issues by citing "international law." But, international law supports the settlements -- so does an earlier UN resolution. And, truth be told, what is "international law"? It is whatever the strongest nations choose it to be. It is the law of the victors, as the world was warned at the Nurnberg trials. It is today, for example, Obama's brushing off of genocide in Syria; it is his do-nothing attitude about Christian annihilation in Iraq and in areas of the Middle East held by ISIS or other jihadist groups; it is his silence about grevious violations of human rights in Myanmar and Tibet, and his refusal to meet with the Dalai Lama; it is his shunting aside of Iran's violation of his own deal with it by testing nuclear-ready ballistic missiles and hiding its nuclear work from the UN watchdog agency. Why is "international law" the law of the strongest? Because there is no one but the strong to enforce it. Therefore, it depends entirely on their good will. • If Barack Obama would make his case by saying that he supports international law because it represents a fundamental and widely-agreed human notion of ethical conduct or moral norms -- then we could have a dialogue. But when he is using "international law" to spitefully punish Israel for trying to preserve its borders and defend itself against a barrage of Hezbollah and Palestinian missiles hurled at it daily, and when he assumes that, despite all their decades-old pretexts to avoid negotiating, somehow removing the settlements will suddenly bring the Palestinians to the bargaining table -- he is dead wrong. The resolution, if it were to be carried out, would only give the Palestinians and Iranian-paid Hezbollah a better vantage point from which to increase their bombardment of the sovereign nation of Israel. • Now is the time to explain the facts of international law to the UN and its Israel-baiting anti-Semitic sycophant members who attack Israel with America's money. No more UN funding except for programs the US Congress and President Trump agree to. No more foreign aid to any nation or group that voted for the settlement resolution, including permanent UNSC members Britain, France, China and Russia,unless the resolution is re-presented and defeated. No more foreign aid or military support for New Zealand, Malaysia or Senegal. Above all, no more aid of any kind to the Palestinians. That is the realpolitik of international law and it is now time for the United States to show the UN -- and Barack Obama and his globalist Progressives -- what it really means.