The idea of American exceptionalism has become a topic of debate in the Obama years. Both sides in this often heated debate dig their heels in and stand firm in their convictions. But regardless of one’s political convictions, it’s hard to argue against the idea that the United States is unique among nations. In the 19th century, French historian and political scientist Alexis de Tocqueville recognized this and was among the first to recognize that America was an exceptional nation.
A recent Pew Research survey demonstrates that, nearly two centuries after de Tocqueville, the United States stands out from other nations in some surprising ways.
One area where Americans rank well above citizens of other countries is in the notion of individualism.
When Pew Research Center surveyed people in 44 countries last spring, 57% of Americans disagreed with the statement “Success in life is pretty much determined by forces outside our control,” a higher percentage than most other nations and far above the global median of 38%.
The American work ethic stands far above that of other nations as well.
True to the stereotype, surveys showed that Americans are more likely to believe that hard work pays off. When asked, on a scale of 0 to 10, about how important working hard is to getting ahead in life, 73% of Americans said it is was a “10” or “very important,” compared with a global median of 50% among the 44 nations.
Americans are exceptional among wealthy developed nations as a people of faith who place their moral convictions within the context of religious belief.
In general, people in richer nations are less likely than those in poorer nations to say religion plays a very important role in their lives. But Americans are more likely than their counterparts in economically advanced nations to deem religion very important. More than half (54%) of Americans said religion was very important in their lives, much higher than the share of people in Canada (24%), Australia (21%) and Germany (21%), the next three wealthiest economies we surveyed from 2011 through 2013.
People in richer nations tend to place less emphasis on the need to believe in God in order to be moral and have good values than people in poorer countries do. While the share of Americans holding that view is far lower than in poorer nations like Indonesia and Ghana (each 99%), the U.S. stands out when compared with people in other economically advanced nations. In the U.S., 53% say belief in God is a prerequisite for being moral and having good values, much higher than the 23% in Australia and 15% in France, according to our study of 39 nations between 2011 and 2013.
Finally, Americans tend to be far more optimistic than their counterparts in wealthier nations — a fact researchers discovered almost by accident.
Americans are also more upbeat than people in other wealthy nations when asked how their day is going. While we ask this question to help respondents get more comfortable with the interviewer, it provides a glimpse into people’s moods and reveals a slightly negative correlation between those saying the day is a good one and per capita gross domestic product. About four-in-ten Americans (41%) described their day as a “particularly good day,” a much higher share than those in Germany (21%), the UK (27%) and Japan (8%).
These findings ought to lead some politicians to rethink their conceptions of American exceptionalism. The statistics prove that the United States is truly unique among its peers.
Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock / Rawpixel
The union that represents the Transportation Security Agency wants to arm its agents at airport security checkpoints.
President of the American Federation of Government Employees J. David Cox spoke out following an attack at the New Orleans airport where a man sprayed insecticide on TSA agents and attacked them with a machete.
Cox pointed out that security agents were verbally abused on a regular basis, although I am not sure this is a great reason to give the TSA fire power. Airport security is unpleasant at best and many travelers do not see the point of inconvenient exercises to get on a plane. (Why are we still taking off our shoes?)
“We are sickened by the mindlessness and ferocity of this attack on TSA officers,” Cox said in a statement on the union website. “TSOs go to work every day to keep our nation safe from violent individuals who look to inflict harm on the flying public. All too often, TSOs become the targets of violence themselves, both verbal and physical.”
Security at airports currently falls to the local police forces and in the New Orleans attack, the perp was gunned down by a Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s deputy before more harm was done.
Cox is not asking for all agents to be armed, only a select force.
I’m not convinced that arming the airport equivalent of a DMV employee is a smart decision. We seem to have enough controversy surrounding our actual police force, a group trained specifically to wield deadly force.
“For years, AFGE has advocated for a new law enforcement unit within TSA, specially trained and armed to respond to such attacks, and for other safety measures at screening checkpoints,” Cox said. “We applaud the response of law enforcement officers who ended yesterday’s attack in New Orleans, but many other airports are not prepared to respond as quickly or as effectively.”
Put me down for “no, thanks.”
Germanwings, a budget airline, crashed in southern France as it traveled from Barcelona to Dusseldorf, according to aviation officials.
French Prime Minister Manuel Valls believed around 150 people were on board and are feared dead.
“The cause is at present unknown,” he told reporters.
A spokesman for the DGAC aviation authority said the airplane crashed near the town of Barcelonnette about 100 km (65 miles) north of the French Riviera city of Nice.
Lufthansa’s Germanwings unit said it was as yet unable to verify reports of the crash.
+972 is about as Left as you can get when it comes to political opinions on Israel, which is why kudos go out to blogger Edo Konrad for being the only English-language Israeli writer to draw attention to Isaac Herzog’s anti-Arab campaign ad. It’s just a shame he waited for the dust to settle on the false “Bibi is racist” claims before doing so, but then again, why would he have risked screwing his own party of choice before the election?
Konrad is high-minded in his ethics, enough to criticize Herzog:
…it was Herzog’s utter indifference toward Israel’s Palestinian minority, not to mention the 47-year military dictatorship in the occupied territories, that received little media attention.
In fact, the only time Herzog’s campaign really made an effort to spotlight Israel’s Arab citizens was in a video featuring IDF veterans who served alongside him in the prestigious Unit 8200, which is part of Israel’s vaunted intelligence corps. In the video, the veterans laud Herzog as someone who “understands the Arab mentality” and “has seen Arabs in all kinds of situations,” including “in the crosshairs.”
But, don’t mistake Konrad’s commentary for caring an actual whit about Israeli Arabs. His conclusion as to why Bibi won and Herzog lost:
By warning against “buses full of Arabs,” Netanyahu crossed the line from Likud hawk to Marzel-type incitement. Herzog, on the other hand, remained strictly within the confines of “good taste” — and lost.
Disturbing to say the least. But not uncommon among Israel’s bruised and battered extreme Leftists who have decided to lash out in rage like abused, frightened animals in the wake of the Right’s overwhelming electoral victory. Which is probably why the Left is having such trouble unifying, something that inspired the following exchange between 2 Leftist friends on Facebook:
“The right and the left need to live with moderates.”
“I was thinking the right and left need to live with Xanax.”
So much for the hype that Jewish-American leftists will cut off their support for Israel in droves. If anything, perhaps they, too, will have the guts to look behind the green curtain and into the party’s psych ward.
The results are clear: states that have embraced the spirit of welfare reform, including lifetime benefit limits, work requirements, short-term cash diversion programs and service integration, have seen the greatest reduction in welfare dependency. The states that have failed to implement these reforms continue to see generational poverty and dependence on state programs, along with dismal results in returning able-bodied adults to the workforce.
Now, however, many of the states that had implemented successful welfare reforms are applying for federal waivers in the food stamp program for the time limits and work requirements. Here at FGA, we’re documenting an alarming spike in spending on food stamps (SNAP). In some states, such as Nevada, food stamp dependency has risen as much as 219% in the last decade. Ironically, the same reforms that have created so many successes in the TANF program are being reversed in the SNAP program, with a corresponding explosion in spending.
There’s quite a snapshot of the federal government: create a problem for the citizens, decades later get around to somewhat undoing the problem, then blow it all out of the water with more “helping.”
This could be an interesting thing for the GOP to bring up to Hillary. She’ll be busy painting the Republicans as heartless haters of the poor, yet welfare reform was her husband’s biggest legislative success, even if the GOP did all the work he’s been taking credit for. It will be tempting to her to want to praise the “help” people are getting now, although it would undercut Bubba’s pride and joy.
And we all know that she’s really running on Bill’s record. Fun times.
Brussels police on Monday arrested a taxi driver who confessed to taking part in several incidents of intimidation against drivers using the Uber ride-sharing app, in the latest controversy over the U.S. tech company in Europe.
Public prosecutors in the Belgian capital said the 35-year-old licensed cabbie, identified only as N.C., admitted to being among several colleagues who had ordered rides on the Uber app on Sunday evening and then intimidated drivers who arrived at the rendezvous. Police said four such cases have been reported, some involving the throwing of eggs or flour. An Uber driver’s smartphone was stolen in one case.
No one was hurt in the four incidents. But with tensions mounting between licensed taxi firms and users of the services of California-based Uber, Brussels police called a crisis meeting with cabbies’ representatives on Tuesday.
Honestly, I was surprised when I found out that this happened in Brussels and not some American city. Then I remembered that municipalities here have been in cahoots with the cab drivers they bleed to death for licensing to shut down Uber. Thankfully, they have been failing thus far.
Perhaps cab companies might want take their eyes off of legal action and compete by cleaning up the cabs and providing better service.
I swear I’m sober.
Becoming the first major candidate to officially enter the 2016 presidential race, Senator Ted Cruz got off to a rocky start Monday when his campaign message was eclipsed by controversy over his chosen venue. Reason blogger Robby Soave slammed both Cruz and Liberty University for piggybacking his announcement on top of a mandatory convocation assembly.
Liberty president Jerry Falwell responded to the controversy with a statement:
A fundamental part of the college experience is being exposed to a variety of viewpoints so students can better understand why they hold their own beliefs and be better prepared to defend them.
That’s all well and good. But this was not an educational presentation. This was a political rally. As such, it should not have been conflated with mandatory curriculum. One student described the move as “highly deceptive,” in that it conveys to the casual observer that all those in attendance support Cruz’s campaign.
That campaign may well deserve support. If so, it shouldn’t need to rely upon compulsion to secure an audience.
Iran’s senior nuclear negotiator has stressed yet again that there is no deal with the P5+1 unless all sanctions on the Islamic Republic are lifted first.
In fact, there are “no concessions” on Iran’s part forthcoming, he said.
Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Seyed Abbas Araqchi said early this month that Tehran’s “principle position is that all sanctions are lifted at once.”
Last week, 260 lawmakers in the 290-seat Islamic Consultative Assembly wrote a letter demanding that all sanctions be removed as a prerequisite for signing a nuclear deal.
“As a guarantee for implementation, in case of any violation of obligations by the opposite side, the agreement will be declared null and void and enrichment will be resumed at any required level,” the lawmakers wrote.
And over the weekend, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who will ultimately sign off on or reject any nuclear deal, tweeted his agreement. “We reject US fraudulent offer of reaching a deal w #Iran first then lifting sanctions. Lifting sanctions is a part of deal not its outcome,” Khamenei tweeted.
Now today, with more than two weeks of negotiations having passed since his original comments, Araqchi is reiterating that “Tehran’s confidence-building measures and removal of sanctions by the powers are the objectives of the ongoing nuclear talks between the two sides,” according to the semi-official Fars News Agency.
Fars reported that Araqchi stressed “Iran is not to give away any concessions”:
He described the present phase of the talks as “sensitive”, and said it was natural for certain people to make some remarks to influence the process of the negotiations.
However, Araqchi said, Iran is not to grant any concessions.
Commenting on the recent remarks of the US President Barack Obama who said Iran has not provided enough concessions yet, he said the American president is making the remarks to affect the negotiations.
He said none of the parties is expected to offer concessions, specially Iran.
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said today at the Council on Foreign Relations and on the Senate floor that the Obama administration trying to repeal Iran sanctions at the UN and not coming to Congress would be met with a bipartisan “violent response.”
“The Iranians are going to demand immediate sanction relief, and I hope we’ll say no. Until the IAEA verifies what they’ve been doing in the past, I think it would be ill-advised to relieve the sanctions,” Graham said at the CFR event. “They’re going to ask for a research-and-development capability. That scares the hell out of me, and I hope we’ll say no. If they demand immediate sanctions relief, the deal probably falls. Then we’ll be in no-man’s territory. Just, we don’t know what will happen next.”
“And that’s the most dangerous time, because that’s when they’re most likely to break out. Whether they believe that Obama would use force to stop their breakout, after drawing the red line with Assad, I doubt it. Whether they believe that P5+1 would do it as a group, I doubt it after the way we’ve handled Russia and the Ukraine.”
White House press secretary Josh Earnest told reporters today that they “have made pretty clear… that this deal will be predicated on serious commitments from the Iranians about resolving the international community’s concerns with their nuclear program and a commitment that they will comply with intrusive inspections.”
“And those are the kinds of commitments that we’re going to insist on before we even contemplate any sort of sanctions relief,” Earnest said. “And what we would envision is a demonstrated commitment to the — to compliance with the agreement before phasing the sanctions relief.”
The Obama administration frequently notes that it made Syrian President Bashar al-Assad get rid of his chemical weapons, a deal struck with the help of Assad ally Russia after the ghastly 2013 attack on Ghouta.
That attack crossed the red line established by President Obama to take action to help the Syrian people, and once he struck the weapons disposal deal he considered it a most welcome line through an unpleasant confrontation on his to-do list.
White House chief of staff Denis McDonough held the deal up during his speech to J Street today as a “political arrangement” where congressional approval is not needed, such as what they’re trying to achieve with Iran. “It’s how we—peacefully—removed Syria’s entire declared stockpile of chemical weapons,” McDonough said.
Despite the ambiguity of “declared” in a country where the majority is a strict no-go zone for weapons inspectors, Assad has continued his chemical weapons attacks with chlorine gas.
Last week, the towns of Sarmin and Qmenas were hit with chlorine bombs by Assad forces, video reviewed and confirmed by human rights groups. The Syrian Coalition said six were killed, including three children, and about 70 were injured, 13 seriously.
“Once again the Assad regime has used the chlorine gas against civilians in flagrant violations of the UN Security Council Resolution No. 2209 which bans use of chlorine gas in Syria,” Syrian Coalition Vice President Hisham Marwa said. “The UN Security Council must take all necessary measures that ensures the enforcement of the resolution No. 2209, which rules that chlorine gas is toxic and a chemical weapon, and that using it militarily represents a gross violation of international law and a flagrant violation of Resolution 2118.”
Secretary of State John Kerry put out a statement Thursday saying the administration was “deeply disturbed” that Assad used chlorine gas weapons “again.”
“What is clear is that the Assad regime continues to flout international standards and norms, including, if these latest allegations are verified, the Chemical Weapons Convention. The international community cannot turn a blind eye to such barbarism. As has been well documented, the Assad regime continues to terrorize the people of Syria through indiscriminate airstrikes, barrel bombings, arbitrary detention, torture, sexual violence, murder, and starvation. The Assad regime must be held accountable for such atrocious behavior,” Kerry said.
“…The Assad regime’s horrifying pattern of using chlorine as a chemical weapon against the Syrian people underscores the importance of investigating this allegation as quickly as possible, holding those who perpetrated such abhorrent acts in violation of international law accountable, and continuing to support the complete elimination chemical weapons in this volatile region.”
State Department press secretary Jen Psaki didn’t have “any predictions” on what holding Assad accountable might entail.
“Reports and video out of
#Syria utterly horrific. Civilians, including kids, victims of an apparent chlorine gas attack,” UN Ambassador Samantha Power tweeted that day. “This is why #UNSC passed res affirming the weaponization of chlorine as viol of CWC&UN res. Long past time for attribution&consequences. Asad regime is only power with helos. Reports again are that gas attack came from the air. If it flies like a duck…”
That was enough for Syrians who have been bearing the brunt of these attacks.
— Kafranbel English (@kafrev) March 21, 2015
— Kafranbel English (@kafrev) March 21, 2015
The northwestern Syrian fig-and-olive-producing town of Kafranbel huddled together fairly early in the war and decided the best way to get their message to the outside world would be to pen signs in English, then spread them through the Internet and social media. Their signs have included see Obama as Pinocchio and a genocide enabler.
Smart Diplomacy in Action: US Ambassador to Libya Abandons Twitter After Tweeting False Bombing Casualty Info
U.S. Ambassador to Libya Deborah K. Jones retired from Twitter on Monday after tweeting out false information on civilian casualties of a bombing raid by military forces of the internationally recognized Libyan government:
— Safira Deborah (@SafiraDeborah) March 23, 2015
Her tweet was picked up by Western media as the primary source for the information. See this Reuters article:
Eight civilians were killed in an air strike near Tripoli on Monday, the U.S. ambassador said, as Libya’s internationally recognized government pressed on with an assault to recapture the capital it abandoned to a rival faction last year …
“Terrible news today from Tarhouna where eight innocent displaced Tawergha killed in air strikes,” U.S. Ambassador Deborah Jones said in a tweet, referring to members of a minority group, thousands of whom were displaced after Gaddafi fell.
“This violence serves no one’s interests,” said Jones, who is based outside Libya since most diplomats were evacuated from Tripoli last year.
It turned out that the information was based on rumors and conflicting information from both sides:
The eastern chief of army staff said in a statement its planes had hit a Libya Dawn barracks, not a Tawergha camp, demanding an apology from Jones.
But Mohamed al-Tarhouni, spokesman of the town’s municipality, said nobody had been killed in the strike which he said had hit an empty farm near a camp of displaced Tawergha.
Jones and Louai El-Ghawi, an eastern lawmaker, said there were reports that several family members of a colonel opposed to Libya Dawn had been killed in Tarhouna in an apparent revenge attack, but details were unclear. The eastern chief of staff said Dawn supporters had killed eight members of the family.
A freelance reporter on the scene found nothing describing the info that Jones had tweeted out:
@SafiraDeborah I saw by myself 3 impacts of the airstrike, I can guarantee no one was killed because of it 1/2
— Mathieu Galtier (@mathieu_galtier) March 23, 2015
The Libyan Army condemned Jones’ statement:
— Alwasat (@alwasatengnews) March 23, 2015
Libyan Twitter users then began attacking the ambassador for floating false information:
False information from the US ambassador, especially after being sensationalized in the media, has naturally generated a firestorm in #Libya
— James Wheeler (@wheelertweets) March 23, 2015
The back-tracking then began in earnest:
My last tweet based on sources on both sides. Numbers may need correction but bottom line remains: violence serves no one.
— Safira Deborah (@SafiraDeborah) March 23, 2015
This info followed info on the other strikes: both are wrong and we condemn both. The violence must cease. Period
— Safira Deborah (@SafiraDeborah) March 23, 2015
But the damage had been done, and she announced her departure from Twitter:
I have concluded it is best to cease efforts to communicate via Twitter insofar as it distracts from our goal of peace & stability 4 #Libya
— Safira Deborah (@SafiraDeborah) March 23, 2015
We shall continue to post official statements on our embassy FB account. To all those responsible & thoughtful Tweeps out there, thank you
— Safira Deborah (@SafiraDeborah) March 23, 2015
Getting to know thoughtful, dedicated Libyans via Twitter has been an inspiration & given me great hope 4 Libya's future. I wish you well.
— Safira Deborah (@SafiraDeborah) March 23, 2015
Thus, America is even getting run off of Twitter.
— Youssef Sawani (@YoussefSawani) March 23, 2015
Have any other US ambassadors pulled out of Twitter before? Is @SafiraDeborah the first? I remember when the embassy in Cairo clamped down.
— Andy Carvin (@acarvin) March 23, 2015
Smart diplomacy in action. I blame that YouTube video.
The president of Phi Kappa Psi fraternity at the University of Virginia says the organization is considering legal options against Rolling Stone for the erroneous “A Rape on Campus” story.
“These false accusations have been extremely damaging to our entire organization, but we can only begin to imagine the setback this must have dealt to survivors of sexual assault,” Stephen Scipione told ABC News in a story published Monday.
The audacity of the magazine to run such heinous allegations without fact checking should not go unpunished. The average Rolling Stone reader isn’t going to flee because of this, but there should be some consequences.
Liberals have gotten rather casual with rape allegations in the last couple of years, mostly in the form of redefining many things that aren’t rape as being rape. This, however, was just plain old lying that was intended to destroy lives.
I believe there are still laws against such things.
Sen. Rand Paul may have fellow Kentuckian Mitch McConnell’s support for his likely 2016 presidential bid. But Sen. Ted Cruz won’t have his senior senator from Texas, John Cornyn, behind him.
Cornyn, the Senate majority whip, said in an interview Monday that he would stay neutral in the Republican primary, declining to endorse Cruz just hours after he became the first candidate to officially declare his presidential run.
“You know, we’ve got a lot of Texans who are running for president, so I’m going to watch from the sidelines,” Cornyn said when asked if he would back Cruz. (Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry is considering a run as well.)
Cornyn denied his position was retribution for Cruz’s refusal to back him during his Senate primary last year.
Cornyn’s position does not come as much of a surprise. The tea party freshman refused to back Cornyn during the senator’s crowded primary race last year, unlike in Kentucky where Paul aggressively campaigned for McConnell last year and backed him during his primary bid. But Cruz insisted he would stay neutral in Cornyn’s primary race, which he easily won.
While I am sure that Cruz and Cornyn probably aren’t on Snapchat with each other late at night, the tenor of this post is probably a bit much.
If Rick Perry decides to run, which seems likely, it would make more sense for Cornyn to back him, even if they all got along famously. Politico kicks this piece off with a false equivalency: McConnell hasn’t supported Rand Paul’s candidacy because Rand Paul is not yet a candidate. That may seem like quibbling, but it is true.
The media needs to create REPUBLICAN CIVIL WAR stories where there aren’t any.
But Valerie Jarrett’s machinations about Hillary’s emails are a non-story.
White House chief of staff Denis McDonough today called for an end to Israel’s “occupation” of the Palestinians and vowed that the Obama administration won’t “pretend” that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu didn’t make his campaign remarks about no two-state solution.
McDonough thanked the “pro-Israel, pro-peace” — as J Street bills itself — and pro-Palestinian lobbying group for the “important work you do around the country,” calling it “an organization that, in the best tradition of the American Jewish community, shares a set of values about the type of country that we are – a democracy where all of our people can access opportunity.”
“President Obama asked me to convey his deep appreciation to all of you for your partnership and your work on behalf of the U.S.-Israel relationship, especially building support for our efforts to advance a two-state solution,” he said.
McDonough spent much of his speech, though, on issues other than the Mideast: solar energy, the auto industry, job growth, energy independence, and the fifth anniversary of Obamacare. He also spent significant time taking shots at the new Republican budget.
“Of course, our relationship with Israel isn’t defined by numbers in a budget. Ours is a deep and abiding partnership between two vibrant democracies. We saw that democracy in action when Israelis of all backgrounds—Jewish and Arab, religious and secular–cast their ballots last week. At the heart of any democracy is the right of all citizens to participate equally,” he said. J Street lobbied heavily against Netanyahu and the Likud party.
McDonough said in Thursday’s congratulatory call from Obama to Netanyahu the president “committed to continuing consultations on a range of regional issues, including resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”
“No matter who leads Israel, America’s commitment to Israel’s security will never waver,” he said, noting money allocated by Congress and approved by the administration to spend on the Iron Dome missile defense system and next year’s delivery of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.
“We continue to believe that the best way to safeguard Israel’s long-term security is to bring about a comprehensive peace between Israelis and Palestinians—two states for two peoples, living side-by-side in security and peace,” he said, adding that’s why Netanyahu’s “comments on the eve of the election—in which he first intimated and then made very clear in response to a follow up question that a Palestinian state will not be established while he is prime minister—were so troubling.”
“After the election, the prime minister said that he had not changed his position, but for many in Israel and in the international community, such contradictory comments call into question his commitment to a two-state solution, as did his suggestion that the construction of settlements has a strategic purpose of dividing Palestinian communities and his claim that conditions in the larger Middle East must be more stable before a Palestinian state can be established. We cannot simply pretend that those comments were never made, or that they don’t raise questions about the prime minister’s commitment to achieving peace through direct negotiations.”
Netanyahu clarified his comments to note that the conditions for a two-state solution currently do not exist as Fatah remains allied with Hamas and they refuse to recognize Israel or stop incitement.
“In recent days, some have suggested our reaction to this issue is a matter of personal pique,” McDonough told the crowd. “Nothing could be further from the truth. America’s commitment to a two-state solution is fundamental to U.S. foreign policy. It’s been the goal of both Republican and Democratic presidents, and it remains our goal today. Because it is the only way to secure Israel’s future as a Jewish and democratic state.”
That’s why, he said, Obama now wants to “re-evaluate our approach to the peace process and how we pursue the cause of peace – because, like all of you, we care deeply about Israel and its future.”
“In the end, we know what a peace agreement should look like. The borders of Israel and an independent Palestine should be based on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps. Each state needs secure and recognized borders, and there must be robust provisions that safeguard Israel’s security. An occupation that has lasted for almost 50 years must end, and the Palestinian people must have the right to live in and govern themselves in their own sovereign state.”
McDonough said the “truth” is “Israel cannot maintain military control of another people indefinitely.”
He insisted that Israel accepting a two-state solution “would deal a knock-out blow to calls for boycotts, divestment, and sanctions” and “would undercut efforts to isolate Israel in the international community and roll back de-legitimization efforts.”
The White House chief of staff also delivered the standard administration line on Iran negotiations, saying they won’t accept a bad deal but stressing that they’re pursing a deal that’s “both realistic and achievable.”
“Congress should not seek to undermine negotiations before a deal is reached,” McDonough said. “…I’m sure you heard about the letter some Republican senators addressed directly to Iran’s leaders. It was a blatant political move—as the president said, that is not how America does its business.”
He called the letter “critically flawed in its legal reasoning” as the administration is “pursuing a political arrangement with Iran that does not require congressional approval.”
“Some senators have also proposed legislation that would torpedo diplomacy by suggesting Congress must vote on any deal and by stripping the President of his existing authorities to waive sanctions. Let’s be very clear about what this would do. It would embolden hard-liners in Iran. It would separate the United States from our allies,” McDonough said, adding “it would set a damaging precedent by limiting the ability of future presidents to conduct essential diplomatic negotiations.”
“…If a deal is reached, we will share the details and technical documents with Congress, at which point we welcome a full debate—after all, only Congress could terminate U.S. statutory sanctions on Iran during the duration of the agreement.”
McDonough was the administration representative to the annual conference, facing a much more friendly crowd than National Security Advisor Susan Rice did weeks ago at the AIPAC mega-conference.
Moments ago, President Obama’s Chief of Staff Denis McDonough gave a speech to a gathering of J-Street, an organization the AP describes as “an Israel advocacy group strongly critical of [Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu.” (In reality, Israel has been waiting since the founding of J-Street for the organization to do some “Israel advocacy.”) Reported the AP:
Top Obama aide: US can’t ignore Netanyahu’s comments
President Barack Obama’s chief of staff says the United States can’t simply pretend that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (neh-ten-YAH’-hoo) didn’t reject the possibility of a Palestinian state.
Netanyahu made the comment just before Israel’s elections last week, but later backpedaled. White House chief of staff Denis McDonough says Netanyahu’s contradictory answers call into question his commitment to a two-state solution.
What exactly was it about Netanyahu’s comments about the two-state solution that President Obama is unable to ignore? The White House has had no difficulty pretending that Mahmoud Abbas never uttered any of the following comments or took the following actions:
– “[Abbas'] book, published in Arabic in 1983, translates as “The Other Side: The Secret Relations Between Nazism and the Leadership of the Zionist Movement.” … The book repeatedly attempts to cast doubt on the fact that the Nazis slaughtered 6 million Jews. … Abbas denies that the gas chambers were used to murder Jews, quoting a “scientific study” to that effect by French Holocaust-denier Robert Faurisson.”
– “In the wake of Palestinian Authority President Abbas’ recent condolence letter to a terrorist’s family, Ambassador Ron Prosor submitted a letter of complaint to the UN Secretary General and the President of the Security Council about the most recent example of the troubling rise in the Palestinian Authority’s use of incitement … ”
– “[Abbas] hosts the poet whose famous work describes Israelis as “Our enemy: A Zionist, Satan with a tail“, while the PA Minister of Culture awards him a plaque of honor at a ceremony in Ramallah … ”
– [Abbas] and PA representatives accuse Israel of poisoning Palestinian security prisoners and intentionally spreading disease among them. Abbas: “Human lives, of course, are of no importance to them.”
– ”I am not one to surrender. When Fatah launched the armed struggle, we were nine members. Four of us supported the armed struggle, and four opposed it. My vote tipped the scales in favor of the armed struggle. But everything in its time.” – Mahmoud Abbas.
“(Note: Abbas’ phrase “everything in its time” alludes to the PA policy of alternating between the use of terror and diplomacy, whichever the PA deems the most beneficial at any given time.) Fatah posted this to its “Main Page” on Facebook on Jan. 16 and 22, 2015.”
– “This week, Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas ended a speech about the current conflict between Israel and Hamas in Gaza with a quote from the Quran justifying war. His Fatah party interpreted Abbas’ statement to mean that fighting against Israel is justified on religious Islamic grounds.”
– New York Times, April 27, 2009: “Abbas Rejects Calling Israel a Jewish State”
– Times of Israel, November 29, 2014: Abbas: Palestinians will never recognize Israel as Jewish state
Of course, this is a scant reflection of the decade of terror, anti-Semitic incitement, and yes, rejection of the two state solution that President Obama has chosen to ignore, displaying cognitive dissonance regarding his comprehension of the Middle East.
In his eyes, Israel’s behavior is unacceptable no matter the context, while Mahmoud Abbas and the Palestinian Authority can do no wrong, up to and including the murder of innocents, the celebration of the murderers, and incitement to genocide.
Today, the Charlottesville police released the results from a investigation of an alleged rape at a University of Virgina fraternity that was subject of a sensational Rolling Stone magazine article last November.
Police said they were not able to conclude any that an incident occurred at the Phi Kappa Psi house on Sept. 28, 2012.
“We have no evidence that supports those assertions” in the article, Charlottesville Police Chief Tim Long said.
According to the police, “we can’t say something didn’t happen” to her, but they have “no basis” to conclude anything happened at the fraternity house on the night in question.
The investigation was extensive with multiple interviews including friends of alleged victim “Jackie” and fraternity members.
During the investigation, police talked to about 70 people, including Jackie’s friends and fraternity members, Long said. Investigators talked to nine of the 11 Phi Psi members living in the house at the time, and none of them knew Jackie or had any knowledge of the alleged assault, Long said.
In fact, police found no evidence there was even a party on the day of the alleged rape, September 28, 2012. Law enforcement obtained a time-stamped photo that showed the fraternity house empty at the time of the alleged rape party.
Even so, the police have not closed the investigation saying it’s a disservice to “Jackie” to close the investigation without allowing more time for more people to come forward and more information to come out.
“There’s no statute of limitations of this particular type of crime,” Long said, noting that Jackie declined to be questioned by police investigators.
Shortly after the story was published in Rolling Stone magazine it began falling apart. The Managing Editor of the magazine admitted that the author, Sabrina Rubin Erdely, had not spoken to any of the students involved before submitting the story. Said Will Dana, Managing Editor, “We made a judgment — the kind of judgement reporters and editors make every day. And in this case, our judgement was wrong.”
The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday rejected a challenge to Wisconsin’s Republican-backed law requiring voters to present photo identification to cast a ballot, a measure Democrats contend is aimed at keeping their supporters from voting.
The justices declined to hear an appeal filed by the American Civil Liberties Union, which challenged the law. The ACLU said it then filed an emergency motion with a federal appeals court to try to keep the law from taking effect immediately.
Republican Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel said the law cannot be implemented for the state’s April 7 election because absentee ballots are already in the hands of voters but would be in place for future elections. “This decision is final,” Schimel said.
Naturally, the ACLU’s suit was based on the canard that requiring ID disenfranchises the poor, minorities, students and any other groups Democrats feel they have a good shot as manipulating votes for.
These same people who don’t think voters should have official identification are now calling for mandatory voting. Pretty sweet little fraud setup if you are legally required to produce bodies at the polls but they can’t be legally identified, no?
Hillary Clinton made an appearance with labor leaders Monday, calling for a non-partisan struggle against economic inequality in one of her last speeches before formally launching her expected bid for the White House.
Clinton returned to a theme she has sounded frequently in recent months, lamenting the “ideological bunkers” that she said have prevented solutions from being found to the nation’s problems.
“It’s really nice to get back into an evidence-based discussion, about what works and what doesn’t work, and to try and learn from examples,” she told the audience at the Center for American Progress, a liberal think tank.
One hundred words, and there is enough hypocrisy there to last her entire campaign, both from her and the reporting.
“Clinton returned to a theme she has sounded frequently in recent months”
Note how the dutiful press helps Team Mrs. Bill maintain the illusion that she’s been out there working hard for America. Her book tour reminded everyone of how awful she is in front of people and they’ve managed her more tightly than the way Tony LaRussa handled a pitching staff back in the day. The only thing she has done “frequently in recent months” is avoid the commoners she professes to be oh-so-concerned about.
When she’s not scrubbing her emails, of course.
The pitch about wanting to be “non-partisan” and have a “discussion” is where this narrative becomes a train on icy mountain tracks that’s just lost its brakes.
Politics in America have certainly always been divisive, but the Clintons redefined bitter partisanship in the 1990s. In fact, Hillary’s only solo accomplishment may be that she introduced the phrase “politics of personal destruction” into the vernacular all the while engaged in those very same politics. Add to that the fact that she doesn’t really have discussions, she issues edicts and gives orders.
Her Madameship and the press can keep trying to paint a portrait of her that is awash in warm fuzziness, but she’s going to be out in public a lot soon.
If the Republicans are smart they’ll send someone with a camera to try and have a “discussion” with her about how to earn money.
The Internet Goes Berserk: Why People’s Heads Are Exploding Over Ted Cruz’s Speech Announcing His Candidacy
There’s something interesting going on online. Just go to Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ and search for “Ted Cruz,” “#TedCruz2016″ or “Ted Cruz candidate.” Do you notice something?
That’s right, people’s heads are truly exploding.
Many conservative activists are celebrating Cruz’s official announcement that he’ll run for president. They believe he’s just what they and the rest of America need: a principled, small-government conservative who sticks to his guns no matter what.
— Fox News (@FoxNews) March 23, 2015
Popular radio talk show host Mark “The Great One” Levin’s also impressed:
Ted Cruz’s terrific speech today – must watch! http://t.co/mdTbmWzHz8
— Mark R. Levin (@marklevinshow) March 23, 2015
One conservative hero praises another: this tweet basically says it all.
And there’s more – much more:
— Joel C. Rosenberg (@JoelCRosenberg) March 23, 2015
Cruz truly touched a chord with conservative voters:
Listening 2 Ted Cruz speak (w/o a TelePrompter) at Liberty University about God, Our Constitution & his Love of America is so refreshing!
— Amy Mek (@AmyMek) March 23, 2015
See also this tweet:
— Barbara W (@sassybarbara12) March 23, 2015
And this one:
— Zep (@mightyones1968) March 23, 2015
Twitter also seems to be hit by all kinds of (pro-Cruz) memes, most of them focusing on his status as an outsider and rebel:
Those memes aren’t only extremely popular on Twitter, but also on Facebook, where pro-Cruz groups are exploding; they’re literally adding hundreds if not thousands of people today, who are all happy to show their support for Cruz:
Glenn Beck’s followers on Facebook are also thrilled, both with Cruz’s speech and his candidacy:
Meanwhile, progressives have a slightly different take on Cruz’s upcoming announcement. They go all in, some by making jokes at his expense:
— Chelsea Anarchy (@chelseasuddon) March 23, 2015
Note that they’re not explaining why his political views are wrong — they just attack him personally:
#TedCruz for president is the best joke of the year
— Bassem Masri (@bassem_masri) March 23, 2015
There are also those who are going all-out birther on Cruz:
— Ofay Mayo (@blunted215) March 23, 2015
In fact, birtherism is more popular than ever:
i can’t wait to see republicans try to explain throwing support behind canadian ted cruz yet demanding to see obama’s birth certificate.
— crissle (@crissles) March 23, 2015
Some even pull out the racist and birther cards at the same time:
— Danny Zuker (@DannyZuker) March 22, 2015
See this one, too:
Donald Trump: “Wait, Ted Cruz isn’t white? Maybe I want to see that birth certificate…” pic.twitter.com/S1OJdWskWr
— teresa lo (@teresalo_tweets) March 23, 2015
It’s the same on Facebook:
CNN’s followers are extremely dismissive and even aggressive:
The last ones (but I could go on and on):
Now, it’s perfectly clear why conservative Twitter and Facebook users are so happy. They rightfully believe that he’s one of them and that he could very well be Ronald Reagan’s real successor.
But why are leftists’ heads exploding as well? I’ve got no doubt I know the answer: they fear him. Tremendously even. He is everything they oppose: a true, small-government conservative. And that’s not all; he’s also articulate, has a spine, and is highly educated. On top of all that, he’s one of the few Republican politicians who are able to energize the conservative base. That’s the same group of voters who stayed home in 2012 and 2008, thereby handing the presidency to Obama.
That’s why they’ve started to ridicule and humiliate him, and they’ll undoubtedly continue doing so in the days, weeks and months ahead. It comes straight out of Saul Alinsky’s playbook: “Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it.”
So, what do you think? Why are progressives responding so aggressively to Ted Cruz’s announcement? Am I right, do they fear him? Another question: what do you think of Cruz? Many conservative icons have already endorsed him (Michelle Malkin and Glenn Beck among others). Are you as excited as they are?
Cross Barry, pay the price via his buddy at Justice, Eric Holder:
Federal investigators could file criminal corruption charges against Sen. Robert Mendendez of New Jersey as early as this week, the Wall Street Journal reported Sunday, citing people familiar with the investigation. Mendendez, who is the ranking Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, has been under investigation for possible corruption and has denied wrongdoing, the paper reported Sunday.
Specific charges weren’t immediately clear, but according to the Wall Street Journal, the Federal Bureau of Investigation has been investigating Mendendez for more than two years. Menendez is accused of using his political position to boost the business interests of a friend and Democratic Party donor, in exchange for gifts. Sources cited by the Wall Street Journal said Mendendez would be charged in his home state of New Jersey.
The Journal story is behind the pay wall, so this is from Fox News. But to put what’s happening in context, this story from the New York Times last month may be helpful:
When Senator Robert Menendez of New Jersey said last week that he would give President Obama two months before defying a veto threat and voting for new sanctions on Iran, he made it clear that the delay was not out of loyalty to his fellow Democrat in the Oval Office.
“I don’t get calls from the White House,” Mr. Menendez said when asked whether the president or his team had lobbied him for the reprieve. It was a frank acknowledgment of the rifts that exist between Mr. Obama and Mr. Menendez, the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. The divisions have burst into public view in recent weeks as Mr. Menendez, a second-term senator, has taken on Mr. Obama over Cuba and Iran.
Mr. Obama’s advisers say they speak with Mr. Menendez regularly, and the senator described his relationship with the White House as excellent. But deep policy and political divisions remain between Mr. Obama and the senator, one of the Democrats best positioned to defend the administration’s foreign policy in Congress.
Adios, Bob. It was nice knowin’ ya.
President Obama just got a letter from 367 members of the House stressing that Iran must have no pathway to a nuclear weapon.
On Thursday, House Foreign Affairs Committee ranking member Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.) said there were 360 signatures on the letter. The next day, as it was sent to the White House, there were a few more.
Engel and House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce (R-Calif.) began circulating the letter around Congress earlier this month.
The letter to Obama notes that “of the 12 sets of questions that the International Atomic Energy Agency has been seeking, Tehran has answered just part of one. Just last week, the IAEA reported that it is still concerned about signs of Iran’s military related activities, including designing a nuclear payload for a missile.”
“The potential military dimensions of Iran’s nuclear program should be treated as a fundamental test of Tehran’s intention to uphold the final agreement. Unless we have a full understanding of Iran’s past program it will be impossible for the international community to judge Iran’s future breakout time with certainty.”
The letter notes Iran’s “decades of deception” and said “any inspection and verification regime must allow for short notice access to suspect locations, and verifiable constraints on Iran’s nuclear program must last for decades.”
The hundreds of lawmakers also said the administration cannot split Iran’s “destabilizing role in the region and state sponsorship of terrorism from the nuclear deal.”
“Iran’s Supreme Leader has also called for an expansion of his country’s ballistic missile program, yet another dimension of the potential threat posed by Iran,” the letter continues. “Iran’s role in fomenting instability in the region — not to mention Iran’s horrendous repression at home — demonstrates the risks of negotiating with a partner we cannot trust.”
The lawmakers promise that only if “convinced” that a final deal’s terms “foreclose any pathway to a bomb” will Congress “consider permanent sanctions relief.”
“The United States has had a longstanding interest in preventing Iran from achieving a nuclear weapons capability. Over the last twenty years, Congress has passed numerous pieces of legislation imposing sanctions on Iran to prevent that outcome, ultimately forcing Iran into negotiations. Should an agreement with Iran be reached, permanent sanctions relief from congressionally-mandated sanctions would require new legislation. In reviewing such an agreement, Congress must be convinced that its terms foreclose any pathway to a bomb, and only then will Congress be able to consider permanent sanctions relief.”
The American Israel Public Affairs Committee praised the letter, which was notably sent to Obama as J Street opened its conference in Washington. White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough is scheduled to speak to the pro-Palestinian lobbying group tonight.
V.S. Naipaul Says It All About the Islamic State: It’s Islamic, It’s Evil and It Needs to be Destroyed
Don’t take it from some pasty-faced white guy. Take it from a Nobel Prize-winning British author of Indian extraction from Trinidad. Here’s the teaser from the Daily Mail:
The Nobel Prize-winning author V.S. Naipaul has warned that Islamic State are the most potent threat to the world since the Nazis. In a hard-hitting article in today’s Mail on Sunday, the revered novelist brands the extremist Muslim organisation as the Fourth Reich, saying it is comparable to Adolf Hitler’s regime in its fanaticism and barbarity.
Calling for its ‘military annihilation,’ the Trinidadian-born British writer says IS is ‘dedicated to a contemporary holocaust’, has a belief in its own ‘racial superiority,’ and produces propaganda that Goebbels would be proud of.
And here’s what Naipaul has to say about the rise of fanatical barbarians:
My first book [on the subject of Islam] was called Among The Believers and the second, perhaps prophetically, Beyond Belief. Since those books were written, the word ‘fundamentalism’ has taken on new meanings. As the word suggests, it means going back to the groundings, to the foundations and perhaps to first principles. It is used to characterise the interpretation given to passages of the Koran, to the Hadith, which is a collection of the acts in the life of the Prophet Mohammed and to an interpretation of sharia law.
However, the particular fundamentalist ideology of ‘Islamist’ groups that have dedicated themselves to terror – such as Al Qaeda, Boko Haram and now in its most vicious, barbaric and threatening form the Islamic Caliphate, Isis or the Islamic State (IS) – interprets the foundation and the beginning as dating from the birth of the Prophet Mohammed in the 6th Century. This fundamentalism denies the value and even the existence of civilisations that preceded the revelations of the Koran. It was an article of 6th and 7th Century Arab faith that everything before it was wrong, heretical. There was no room for the pre-Islamic past.
Naipaul’s warning is important: Islam does not simply seek the forced conversion or death of every single “unbeliever” on the planet. It also — and this is the part that should interest anyone in western civilization — the eradication of everything non-Islamic. No more Mozart, no more Goethe, no more Shakespeare, no more Chartres Cathedral. It is a deadly pestilence that must be eliminated if the West is ever to survive in anything like its current form.
The idea that faith abolishes history has been revived as the central creed of the Islamists and of Isis. Their determination to deny, eliminate and erase the past manifests itself in the destruction of the art, artefacts and archaeological sites of the great empires, the Persian, the Assyrian and Roman that constitute the histories of Mesopotamia and Syria.
They have bulldozed landmarks in the ancient city of Dur Sharukkin and smashed Assyrian statues in the Mosul museum. Destroying the winged bull outside the fortifications of Nineveh satisfies the same reductive impulse behind the destruction by the Taliban of the Bhumiyan Buddhas in Afghanistan.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon has described this destruction of art, artefacts, inscriptions and of the museums that house them not only as a butchery of civilisational memory but as a war crime.
After we bombed Germany and Japan into submission, in response to their war crimes we hanged their leaders, outlawed their former systems of government and forcibly imposed democracy upon them. Something similar is going to have to happen to an expansionist Islamic world, and soon:
Though the appeal of Isis can be challenged by other strands of Islam, its murderous presence persists in the failed states of Iraq and war-torn Syria and threatens to spread through northern Africa.
The crippled Iraqi government has launched its reluctant armies against Isis. The Iranians, being Shias opposed to Sunni Caliphates, are supporting the Iraqi army and the Shia militias, who are a considerable force independent of the Iraqi government, are in a coalition to fight Isis on the ground. With air support from the West, they may manage to push Isis back.
Such an offensive, with the immediate objective of regaining Iraqi territory has to be urgently expanded. Isis has to be seen as the most potent threat to the world since the Third Reich. Its military annihilation as an anti-civilisational force has to now be the objective of a world that wants its ideological and material freedoms.
Is the West’s current leadership up to the task? Don’t make me laugh.
The vicious murder of a 27-year-old woman named Farkhunda has stoked outrage among everyday Afghans who are fighting back against abuse of women and Islamic extremism.
Farkhunda was attacked by a mob in Kabul on Thursday after being accused of burning the Quran. She was beaten, run over by a car, and burned before her body was tossed in the muddy Kabul River.
Afghan authorities have confirmed there’s zero evidence that she even burned a Quran, and her parents say she was murdered for calling out a mullah on a practice seem as un-Islamic — he then wanted revenge and incited the mob.
“I want all the judicial institutions to prosecute the perpetrators,” her father, Nadir, told Tolo News. “I don’t want blood of my daughter go in vain.” Her mother stressed she was “proud” of her daughter, who “sacrificed her life for the right path.”
Afghanistan’s interior ministry suspended 13 police officers and officials in the investigation; videos show nearby police watched as Farkhunda was attacked. The mullah who incited the mob has been arrested along with a dozen others. Afghan President Ashraf Ghani has also appointed a fact-finding team to investigate the murder. There’s copious video of the savage mob attack online.
But the strongest messages are being sent by Afghans, who are taking to the streets until justice is realized.
When Farkhunda was buried on Sunday, it was women who carried her coffin to the cemetery.
— Omid Farooq (@OmidFarooq) March 22, 2015
— Bethany E. Matta (@BethanyMatta) March 22, 2015
— Bashir Ahmad Gwakh (@bashirgwakh) March 22, 2015
Ramin Anwari, a 30-year-old activist, called the funeral “history-making and revolutionary,” according to the Telegraph.
“For the first time I saw visible anger at mullahs whose twisting of Islamic law have caused so much suffering in Afghanistan,” he said.
The protests are just heating up, and the pressure is on politicians who try to justify Farkhunda’s murder.
The two Afghan MPs who earlier supported the brutal murder of #Farkhunda, have both apologized to the people in separate Facebook messages.
— Mustafa W. Kazemi ن (@CombatJourno) March 22, 2015
— All India Radio News (@airnewsalerts) March 23, 2015
— Tiago Morais Morgado (@tmoraismorgado) March 23, 2015
Guests at a fancy, charity Groundhog Day party in Russia erupted in a riot after attendees learned the host was going to kill, cook and serve the groundhog as an entree.
The event was held in Moscow and the star groundhog was brought in from a local children’s petting zoo. “A host of Russian celebrities happily posed with the creature, a relative of the squirrel, as they arrived at the charity event in aid of underprivileged children.”
Host Aleksey Polihun, 35, announced to his guests he was going to serve the groundhog on a platter with cranberry sauce. Polihun said it would be “entertaining to have a groundhog which didn’t survive Groundhog Day.”
It’s not clear why the party was held so long after Groundhog Day on February 2nd.
Guest Marya Nekrasova, 26, said: ‘It was outrageous.’
‘The poor thing was terrified… and it may be hard to believe but some people actually cheered him on.’
She added: ‘One of the other guests in the end offered to buy it off the menu and took it back to the zoo.’
But host and possible psychopath Polihun said after the riot:
‘It’s a pity. I think it would have been very tasty.
‘A bit like rabbit but with more zing to it.’
He added: ‘In the end most people thought I should let him live, so I did.
‘I just thought it would be entertaining to have a groundhog who didn’t actually survive groundhog day.
President Obama’s role during the Israeli elections was larger than reported, according to a pollster for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party.
“What was not well reported in the American media is that President Obama and his allies were playing in the election to defeat Prime Minister Netanyahu,” John McLaughlin, a Republican strategist, said in an interview on John Catsimatidis’s “The Cats Roundtable” radio show broadcast Sunday on AM 970 in New York. ”There was money moving that included taxpayer U.S. dollars, through non-profit organizations. And there were various liberal groups in the United States that were raising millions to fund a campaign called V15 against Prime Minister Netanyahu,” McLaughlin said.
He noted an effort to oust Netanyahu was guided by former Obama political operative Jeremy Bird and that V15, or Victory 15, ads hurt Netanyahu in the polls. McLaughlin said the Israeli leader rebounded after delivering a speech to Congress early this month, prompting more critical ads. 15 was viewed as part of a broader campaign to oust Netanyahu. The group was linked to Washington-based nonprofit OneVoice Movement, which reportedly received $350,000 in State Department grants. Money to OneVoice stopped flowing in November, officials said, before the Israeli elections.
For Hillary Clinton, the personal was political; for Barry Hussein the political is always personal. It was said of Mrs. Clinton’s husband by George Will that Bubba may not have been the worst president in history, but was certainly the worst man ever to become president. Obama has retired both titles.
The idea was to ban the construction of new fast-food outlets in South Central Los Angeles, in order to save the local inhabitants from their own worst culinary impulses. So how did that work out?
The South Los Angeles fast-food ban did not decrease obesity in poor neighborhoods because residents found unhealthy food at restaurants in strip malls and convenience stores instead, a new study has found. In 2008, a dietary ordinance targeted a 32-square-mile area south of Interstate 10 that struggles with high obesity rates and other health problems. The ban went into effect in South Los Angeles and restricted the opening or expansion of standalone fast-food restaurants.
However, the law, believed to be the first effort of its kind by a major city to improve public health, did not ban new fast food restaurants in strip malls. This made it possible for unhealthy food to continue making its way into the low-income neighborhoods.
Roland Sturm, a senior economist at RAND Corporation and lead author of the study, said findings should not come as a surprise, as most food outlets in the area are small food stores or restaurants that have limited seating and were not affected by the policy.
In the study, which was published in the Social Science and Medicine journal, Sturm found that in the targeted area, free-standing restaurants were rare to begin with and no new ones have opened since the ordinance took effect. These standalone fast-food restaurants are outnumbered by restaurants in strip malls and small food stores, such as convenience stores, which were not restricted by the ban, according to NPR.
It’s certainly true that if in the extremely unlikely event a denizen of Beverly Hills or the West Side were to drive through the intersection of Florence and Normandie (the epicenter of the Rodney King riots), the frightened white person would see fast-food joints as far as the eye can go, with nary a Whole Foods or a Starbucks (the nearest one appears to be at Slauson and Western) in sight.
But it’s also typical of lefty “do-gooderism” that a law purportedly meant to ban more occasions of gustatory sin was so poorly written that it had no ameliorating effect whatsoever; in fact, it probably made things worse. Kind of like Obamacare, although far less malevolent.
Findings showed that before the dietary ordinance went into effect in 2008, 63 per cent of residents in the area reported being overweight or obese compared to 57 per cent in other parts of the county. But three years on, instead of the law curbing weight gain, the opposite trend took force as obesity rates grew by 12 per cent in South Los Angeles.
‘The South Los Angeles fast food ban may have symbolic value, but it has had no measurable impact in improving diets or reducing obesity,’ said Sturm.
Nice work, everybody.
In an extraordinary moment more than 13 years in the making, the second elected Afghan president since the fall of the Taliban stood in the hub of America’s military community and thanked the troops’ sacrifice to liberate and build his country.
More than 850,000 U.S. troops and civilians, along with thousands of contractors, have served in Afghanistan since the war began in October 2001, Defense Secretary Ashton Carter reminded all at the beginning of the ceremony in the Pentagon courtyard. “We remember the 2,215 Americans and their spouses, parents, sons, and daughters who paid the ultimate price during the course of the conflict,” Carter said.
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani had warm words for those “who have sacrificed continually since 9/11 to bring us freedom and hope.”
“Each one of you has left a legacy but I also understand Afghanistan has marked you,” he said, noting “sometimes you wake up at night not sure whether you’re there or here” and realize “I’ve left a piece of my heart in Afghanistan.”
“Thank you,” Ghani said.
“Each one of you also has left a memory in the heart of every Afghan that you’ve touched and encountered,” the president continued, adding that U.S. forces were “not there just to fight” but “you built schools, you built roads” while bringing “an attitude of caring and sacrifice.”
The Afghan National Security Forces, which includes military and police, now “emulate the best of your example.”
While thanking the troops and their families, Ghani stressed thanks “mostly to the American taxpayer — the men and women who have had made your hard-earned dollars available for Afghanistan.”
The partnership between the U.S. and Afghanistan now enters a different “phase,” he said, focusing on “building resources,” trade with Europe through the supply road left by coalition forces, and ensuring that Afghanistan can meet the growing security challenges.
Ghani has admitted ISIS is now inside Afghanistan, telling NBC News “we have sufficient evidence that they were targeting us because to their narrative, to their storyline, Afghanistan is central.” That’s the Khorasan region touted by the Islamic State.
“We are not going to be a burden,” Ghani vowed to the Pentagon community, giving a nod to JFK when he added Afghanistan wants to focus on what it can do for the world instead of what the world can do for Afghanistan. “We are going to get our house in order.”
On terrorism, not just ISIS but the more persistent and deadly Taliban threat, “We are a front-line state. We die on a daily basis.”
“We die, but we will never be defeated,” Ghani added. “…We the people of Afghanistan are willing to speak truth to terror… we are going to overcome.”
The current partnership with the United States, the president said, “is foundational because we will be the first line of defense globally.”
Ghani said his “fondest hope to veterans is we hope to welcome you in Afghanistan as tourists,” where “millions of us will be able to thank you personally, shake your hand, welcome you into our homes.”
To the sounds of the Washington Post March, Ghani shook hands and greeted troops and family members on the lawn.
Ghani and CEO Abdullah Abdullah meet with President Obama on Tuesday for a “working lunch” at the White House.
Abdullah and Ghani wrote in a joint Washington Post op-ed Friday that “while the opportunities to build peace and stability have never been greater, a new ecology of terror threatens to block not just our prosperity but yours as well.”
“Properly supported, Afghanistan is uniquely positioned to block the spread of extremism,” the leaders wrote. “With the bitter exception of the Taliban regime, Islam in Afghanistan has traditionally been inclusive and reflective, not violent and angry. And after 36 years of conflict, our people have become immunized against ideologically based conflict.”
Alas, at the Times, even the public editor — the reader’s representative whose job is to keep the Newspaper of Record of the Upper West Side honest — is a partisan hack. As even she had to admit today:
In the heat of a very hot news moment last summer, I criticized a Times story about the shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo. Now, with the benefit of hindsight, I want to acknowledge that I misjudged an important element of that story.
In my post, I found fault with what I saw as “dubious equivalency” and the vaguely described anonymous sourcing in an article that led the paper on Aug. 20. Giving implicit credence to the named sources who described Michael Brown as having his hands up as he was fired on by Officer Darren Wilson, I criticized the use of unnamed sources who offered opposing information: They said that the officer had reason to fear Mr. Brown. I even went so far as to call those unnamed sources “ghosts” because readers had so little ability to evaluate their identity and credibility.
Now that the Justice Department has cleared Mr. Wilson in an 86-page report that included the testimony of more than 40 witnesses, it’s obvious to me that it was important to get that side of the story into the paper.
No kidding! Alas, the Times and other liberal news outlets all too often let the Narrative cloud their news judgment, as they did in the Duke “rape” case (which was nothing of the sort) in Ferguson and just about any other event in which whites and blacks are on opposite sides. In the case of Ferguson, there could be no doubt, after the publication of the autopsy sketches and examination of the bullet wounds, that Michael Brown was rushing toward the police officer, and did not have his hands up. It was an obvious lie from the beginning, told by one who had a vested interest in blaming the police. And the media instantly fell for it.
I still believe, as I did then, that the description of the sourcing was confusing. But that’s a relatively minor issue, and understandable in the rush of breaking news. The main thing is that The Times did its job in describing what were indeed “conflicting reports,” and getting them on the record in whatever way was possible at the time. That served readers well.
I noted once before, in a very low-key way, that my criticism of this story was too harsh. But I want to go further now and say that what I wrote was substantially flawed.
As I’ve mentioned before, in the completely unlikely event that was ever again approached to run a major school of journalism, I would make mandatory courses in firearms and forensics.
“(Not So) Happy Anniversary, Obamacare!,” writes Ron Fournier for National Journal. He continues: “White House lies sold it. Republican lies soiled it. Most Americans don’t like it.”
On the fifth anniversary of Obamacare, the Affordable Care Act stands as an ugly reflection of today’s political culture: partisan, short-sighted, and flawed.
You’d think that he would then go on to blast it for being the mess it is. But no. Ron adds the following:
—[A]nd yet, better than the alternatives.
Better than the alternative whats exactly? Better than HillaryCare? Perhaps, I don’t know. Both plans were severely flawed and should, therefore, never have been passed. This is government, we’re talking about. It’s serious business. If a plan is “short-sighted and flawed” Congress shouldn’t approve it. End of debate.
Having said all that, I’m still pretty happy with this anniversary. The reason? Nothing has done more to educate Americans about the perils of a federal government run by progressives. They now realize – and no, I’m not just talking about conservatives, but about moderates and even some liberals as well – that big, wasteful programs cause more problems than they solve.
And that’s not all. On top of all that ObamaCare has caused conservatives to finally unite and rally around the flag. In both 2012 and 2014, they were more passionate than ever before; more involved than in a long, long time (at least since the Reagan years). Chances are that’ll spill over into the presidential elections, perhaps enabling a true small-government conservative to win the Republican nomination and the presidency itself.
So yes, let’s wish ObamaCare a happy anniversary. It’s the best thing that happened to promote good governance in decades.
California Governor Jerry Brown, also known as Governor Moonbeam, appeared on Meet the Press yesterday to share his thoughts on climate change and on the fact that Sen. Ted Cruz. Cruz will formally throw his hat in the presidential ring today at Liberty University.
“That man betokens such a level of ignorance and a direct falsification of the existing scientific data. It’s shocking and I think that man has rendered himself absolutely unfit to be running for office,” Brown said after host Chuck Todd had played him a clip of a Cruz interview.
Todd played a clip of Cruz from Late Night with Seth Meyers where Cruz told Meyers:
“I just came back from New Hampshire where there’s snow and ice everywhere. And my view actually is simple. Debates on this should follow science and should follow data. And many of the alarmists on global warming, they’ve got a problem because the science doesn’t back them up.”
To which Brown responded: “I say what he said is absolutely false.”
Brown went on to blame California’s water problems on
global warming climate change.
“Look, they say the scientists know more about it,” Brown said. “I will tell you this, our research results that now say there’s a connection to the current drought and extreme weather in the East, other parts of the world, the UN has already said there’s going to be 40 percent of the world will suffer from water shortage.”
As the battle to secure our digital mobile equipment continues forward, Google has just upped the ante. A new feature in the Android operating system allows a user to keep his phone locked unless it is physically on his body. “A number of Android owners have spotted a new feature that keeps the phone constantly unlocked as long as it’s in a person’s hand, resting on their leg or even just sitting in a pocket.”
The feature uses the phone’s accelerometer to know when the phone is in use or being handled, only locking the phone when it is placed on a flat surface.
Android Police first noticed the feature when it appeared on the Nexus 4, a Google device, running the operating system Lollipop.
The on-body detection menu explained: ‘The feature uses your device’s accelerometer to detect whether your device is still being carried on the body.
‘If your device detects that it’s no longer being held, your device won’t stay unlocked.’
It’s not entirely an airtight security measure. If the phone is unlocked and handed to another person, the phone will stay unlocked. Another critical issue is butt-dialing. If the phone is in your pocket, will it be locked or unlocked?
Android also has a useful security measure called “face unlock,” which made an appearance in an earlier version, Android’s Ice Cream Sandwich operating system.
Both security features require the user to “opt-in” to use — so if you still want to use a password or fingerprint reader, you can.
I'm running for President and I hope to earn your support! pic.twitter.com/0UTqaIoytP
— Ted Cruz (@tedcruz) March 23, 2015
Texas Senator Ted Cruz, who was expected to announce his plans to run for president in a speech at Liberty University on Monday morning, instead took a non-traditional approach, sending out a midnight tweet saying, “I’m running for president. I hope to earn your support!”
Earlier on Sunday, Cruz sent a text message to his followers, telling them to watch for an announcement on Twitter at midnight. Those who stayed up waiting for the tweet were not disappointed, because in addition to the announcement, they were rewarded with a new campaign video (paid for by Cruz for President). It features scenes of American flags waving, cute babies, tractors (with lots of corn) and motorcycles. It’s evocative of President Reagan’s “Morning in America” ad with its iconic scenes of American life.
His campaign also launched a new website, Ted Cruz 2016.
Pictures surfaced on Twitter Sunday night of the Cruz family doing a walk-through at Liberty University in preparation for Monday’s event, which will likely receive even more buzz after tonight’s surprise Twitter announcement.
AP posted photos of Ted Cruz's walkthrough at Liberty Univ. tomorrow. Sure looks like an announcement. pic.twitter.com/QmImV5ASln
— Igor Bobic (@igorbobic) March 23, 2015
Responses from Cruz’s followers on Twitter were, not surprisingly, enthusiastic:
@tedcruz Amen! Where do we send donations please?
— Leslie Sureda (@weswieann) March 23, 2015
— Woman4 #Cruz2016 (@Victoria41768) March 23, 2015
— Concerned American (@LUVofCountry) March 23, 2015
— LindaAnn (@AmeriJeepRang2) March 23, 2015
Ted Cruz announcement coming at midnight! pic.twitter.com/wwgoi3E8kj
— Paula Bolyard (@pbolyard) March 23, 2015
Tonight around midnight there will be some news you won’t want to miss. Stay tuned…
— Ted Cruz (@tedcruz) March 23, 2015
Anonymous staffers told the Houston Chronicle that Cruz will launch his presidential campaign at Liberty University on Monday, bypassing the exploratory committee process, and becoming the first Republican to officially announce his candidacy.
Liberty University president Jerry Falwell confirmed that Texas Senator Ted Cruz will be speaking at the school’s weekly Convocation on Monday.
“We’re honored that political candidates are now requesting to appear at Liberty,” Falwell said in an article on Liberty University’s website. “We never had that happen years ago — we had to invite them. I think it’s a testament to what Liberty students have accomplished and what they are accomplishing.”
Cruz, the son of a Baptist minister, has joked to Dallas News, “I’m Cuban, Irish and Italian, and yet somehow I ended up Southern Baptist.”
Sen. Cruz will appear on Hannity on Fox News Monday night, following what is likely to be his presidential announcement during Liberty University’s 10:00 a.m. Convocation.
Once again, the Confederate battle flag is the center of controversy as the Supreme Court is set to hear arguments in Walker v. Sons of Confederate Veterans, a case involving the display of the flag on a specialty license plate in Texas.
The question facing the court is more complex than it would originally appear: is the “speech” that the flag represents a matter of individual freedom or, since the license plate is issued by the state, is it a question of government speech, where Texas can pick and choose which sentiments and issues it supports?
The case is important because other issues that private citizens wish to highlight on their license plates — abortion, war and peace, minority rights — can also be rejected if the Supreme Court rules in favor of the state.
The case goes back to 2009, when the Texas branch of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, which honors soldiers who fought for the Confederacy in the Civil War, submitted a design proposal for a specialty license plate to the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles that included a Confederate flag. The DMV board that voted on the proposals fielded angry public comments and twice rejected the plate as an offensive celebration of slavery, according to the Supreme Court-focused news site SCOTUSblog.
The SCV sued, saying the DMV is violating the free speech rights of drivers who would select the license plate. Texas countered that license plates are government property on which the government can decide its own message. (The First Amendment guarantees that the government won’t abridge individuals’ right to free speech, but the government is allowed to police its own “speech.”)
Texas—which does celebrate an annual Confederate Heroes Day—asserted in a case brief that it “is fully within its rights to exclude swastikas, sacrilege, and overt racism from state-issued license plates 14 that bear the State’s name and imprimatur.”
In its own brief, the SCV shot back that having the annual holiday shows that “The State apparently does not believe that the ‘message’ of the Confederate flag is offensive to the public, or, if it is offensive, the State certainly does not shy away from its expression because of such offense.”
The case has attracted some unusual bedfellows, with the American Civil Liberties Union, pro-life groups, and even the satirist P.J. O’Rourke filing briefs in support of the SCV.
The AP said Texas offers 350 varieties of specialty plates (including ones devoted to restaurants, the Boy Scouts, and blood donations) that brought in $17.6 million in revenue last year. The state does offer license plates commemorating “Buffalo soldiers”—black regiments that fought Native Americans in the 19th century.
“There are a lot of competing racial and ethnic concerns, and Texas doesn’t necessarily handle them any way but awkwardly sometimes,” Lynne Rambo, a professor at the Texas A&M University School of Law in Fort Worth, told the AP.
Five federal appeals courts have ruled in favor of the non-profit SCV, according SCOTUSblog, including, most recently, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.
The battle flag of the Confederacy (actually, it’s one of several battle flags used by southern armies during the war) is perhaps the most misunderstood — usually deliberately so — piece of Americana there is. It is not the national flag of the Confederacy, which you can see here. So the question becomes, what is it?
If we are going to penalize southern soldiers and think awful things about them because they fought and died under that flag, then we might as well ban Old Glory as well. Historian James McPherson estimates that no more than 20% of union regiments were abolitionist regiments formed expressly to free the slaves, or regiments with abolitionist sympathizers. Most northern working men opposed freeing the slaves, fearing they would head north and take their jobs. And northern whites almost universally opposed giving blacks the right to vote, to be educated in their schools, and to worship at their churches.
The fact is, almost all of America had the kind of casual, racist attitudes back then that modern-day opponents of the battle flag appear to ascribe to southerners only. So why pick on the battle flag?
It’s sad but true that the battle flag was incorporated into the flags of several southern states during the civil rights era not to honor southern soldiers, but to signify opposition to federal interference in what they considered states’ rights. In that sense, the anti-battle flag advocates have a point. It was used as a symbol of oppression and opposition to equal rights which has no place in modern America.
The flag is also employed by the Klan and many hate groups across the country. But as an expression of free speech, should it be allowed on license plates?
Allowing Texas to ban the battle flag from license plates would open the door to banning other, more overtly political speech. Pro- and anti-abortion messages could be banned depending on who is in power. “Drill, baby, drill” could be banned by a liberal administration that opposes fossil fuels. Giving the state the power to regulate free expression is a slippery slope that the Supreme Court will, hopefully, prevent us sliding down.
Canadian Kathy Shadie writes to inform us of a new documentary from a relatively new website that details what happened to Tom Flanagan, a political operative who helped engineer the election victory of conservatives in Canada. If you think what happened to Liz Mair was unfair, your blood will boil over what happened to Flanagan.
You guys — my American friends — might not recognize the name Dr. Tom Flanagan, but up here in Canada, he’s a political legend.
He was the backroom “brains” behind what many said couldn’t be done in “L/liberal” Canada:
The grassroots conservative movement that eventually saw Steven Harper get elected (and reelected) Prime Minister.
But one day, in the time it took him to drive home from a speaking engagement, Tom Flanagan was tossed under the bus by the same people he put in power.
A new — and very timely — documentary looks into what happened.
Here’s the trailer:
TheRebel.media is Ezra Levant’s new Canadian conservative media venture you might have heard about via Ricochet and PJMedia — the one that crowdfunded all their cameras, computers and mics in around 48 hours.
It’s been a going concern for just over a month, and now TheRebel.media is presenting its first longform doc, “Flanagan,” this Sunday, March 22.
So…Was this political correctness gone mad yet again? A Shakespearean tragedy for our times? Or should a “genius” like Flanagan have known better than to go too far?
Given what just happened with Liz Mair, “Flanagan” will give American viewers something to think about.
Here’s the full length documentary, courtesy of TheRebel.media.
— HummusNotWar (@cityofhummus) March 21, 2015
Blogger Elder of Ziyon writes:
Deebo at Israellycool looks at some interesting statistics from the Israeli elections.
One of the facts reported is that the most pro-Likud town in Israel is the village of All Naim, where 77% voted Likud.
Al Naim is a Bedouin Arab town.
Why did they vote for Bibi? NRG went there and asked.
The NRG report is in Hebrew, but the basic story is that the village has been fighting for basic electric and sewage services for years. The Netanyahu government proved to be the one source that finally started making progress two years ago. As the secretary of the settlement explained, the overwhelming support for Bibi and Likud was due to the fact that “there is something in our heritage that we remember a person of good things.” Imagine, voting for a politician on the basis of what they’ve already accomplished instead of what they’re promising to do.
But, as EoZ explains, because this overwhelming Arab support for Netanyahu/Likud doesn’t fit the mainstream narrative, the chances of it hitting big press are slim to none. Illustrating his point, the story was covered by the Israel paper Haaretz, which sourced unnamed residents of the village who claimed the local council told the residents how to vote. Their article ended by quoting a disgruntled Arab from an adjacent unrecognized Bedouin village of 80 residents. How relevant the quote was to the story of Al Naim, versus the “Right is racist” narrative? You decide.