Monday, March 2, 2015

Why We Need to Hear Netanyahu

Pollutico ^ | 03/01/2015 | MIKE ROGERS and MICHAEL DORAN 

Not only is it his right to speak, he will touch off a needed debate on the Iran nuclear deal.
Despite the Obama administration’s campaign to dissuade Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu from addressing a joint meeting of Congress on Tuesday, he has remained committed to delivering the speech. Here are five reasons why Netanyahu has made the right decision.

1. Canceling the event will change nothing. The White House identifies the manner in which the speech was arranged as the cause of the conflict. Netanyahu, it claims, did not coordinate the visit with the president, and he allowed himself to be used by Republicans who are pursuing a partisan agenda.
If these were President Barack Obama’s only concerns, then he would have worked behind the scenes to reduce the tension. Instead, the White House immediately demanded, in public no less, that the Israeli prime minister make a humiliating gesture of obeisance by canceling the speech. It did so in keeping with an established policy of diminishing Netanyahu — a policy that was already set in stone months ago, when a senior official in the White House anonymously described Netanyahu to The Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg as a “chickenshit.”

Netanyahu is up for reelection on March 17. Obama’s campaign against him is a sly way of making the case to the Israeli electorate that he is incapable of managing relations with the United States, Israel’s greatest ally. If Netanyahu were to phone Obama, apologize and cancel the appearance before Congress, Obama would simply pocket the concession and proceed with his efforts to hobble the prime minister.
2. Netanyahu’s speech is the act of a true and courageous friend. All of America’s traditional allies in the Middle East are deeply distrustful of Obama’s outreach to Iran. Allies in Europe and Asia are similarly fearful regarding what they consider to be flagging American resolve in the face of threats from Russia and China. Few allied leaders, however, will express their concerns to the president plainly — even in private — for fear of retribution. When they see the White House treating Netanyahu to a level of hostility usually reserved for adversaries, their trepidation only increases.
Even worse, Obama’s apparent reluctance to stand up to adversaries gives allies incentive to hedge. The case of France is instructive. As our colleague Benjamin Haddad recently argued, elements of the French elite are now saying that the French government would be foolish to take a hard line against Russia and Iran. If Washington is going to fold in the face of pressure from Moscow and Tehran, how can France alone hold the line?
3. It was Congress, a co-equal branch of government, that invited the prime minister. Whether Obama has the authority to sign the proposed agreement with Iran without consulting lawmakers is a question in dispute, but no one doubts that Congress has a right, indeed an obligation, to exercise oversight in the realm of foreign policy. It has a duty to keep itself and the people that it serves well-informed about consequential matters — by listening to whomever it pleases.
Obama, however, has systematically worked to keep Congress in the dark. Secretary of State John Kerry inadvertently admitted as much when he recently stated, “[A]nybody running around right now jumping in to say, ‘Well we don’t like the deal …,’ doesn’t know what the deal is.” If they do not know all the details, there is a reason why: Namely, the administration will not divulge them. The White House obviously prefers to hide the terms of the deal until after it is signed, by which time it will be too late for anyone to mount serious opposition.
The time for debate is now, and if Obama will not respect the wishes of a co-equal branch of government, at least Netanyahu will.
4. Netanyahu’s appearance will also spark a vital debate about more than just the nuclear deal, which is only one aspect of a broader policy of outreach to Iran. Evidence mounts by the day that Obama sees Iran as an attractive partner of the United States in defeating the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant and stabilizing the Middle East more broadly and that he sees the nuclear deal as the key step to realizing that partnership.
These apparent intentions are deeply troubling to the Israeli government, which is watching today as Iran leads Syria and Hezbollah in a combined offensive on the Golan Heights against the rebels who threaten to topple the Assad regime. If Iran wins, Israel and Jordan will find Iranian troops ensconced on their border. While this prospect alarms them, it also vexes the traditional allies of the United States in the Persian Gulf. They fear that a nuclear deal will strengthen the defensive umbrella that Iran already provides to the Quds force as it builds a network of Shiite militias from Baghdad to Beirut.
Netanyahu’s visit will thus raise public awareness of the connection between the nuclear issue and the destabilizing activities of Iran in the region — an issue that deserves much more attention than it has received.
5. The Israeli prime minister’s views are reasonable, if not judicious. His opinions about the proposed Iran deal are not idiosyncratic; they are not exclusively Israeli; nor are they extreme. American observers with substantial reputations and with no ax to grind have themselves begun to express similar doubts about the proposed deal. Citing Henry Kissinger and others, The Washington Post editorial board recently wrote that “a process that began with the goal of eliminating Iran’s potential to produce nuclear weapons has evolved into a plan to tolerate and temporarily restrict that capability.”
If the president follows through with such a plan without first subjecting its terms to a rigorous debate in Congress, he will be concluding an agreement that is entirely personal in nature. The legitimacy of such a deal would be hotly contested, rendering it inherently unstable, if not dangerous. By helping to force a more thorough examination of the matter, Netanyahu is therefore performing a service to us all. When a president turns a deaf ear to a good friend bearing an inconvenient message, he works against his own interests, whether he realizes it or not.

Former Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.), chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence from 2011 to 2015, is host of the Westwood One radio program “Something to Think About,” a CNN national security commentator and a distinguished fellow at the Hudson Institute.
Michael Doran is a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute.

Tesla should stop accepting subsidies says WSJ ^ | February 25, 2015 | STEVE HANLEY 

The European edition of The Wall Street Journal has said in an editorial that Tesla Motors should stop accepting federal and state subsidies. “Last year Tesla made a roughly $150 million killing from selling ZEV credits. That’s up from $130 million in 2013, $32 million in 2012, and $3 million in 2011. All told in 2014 Tesla sold about $216 million in credits,” the newspaper said. It goes on to say,
Capitalism needs visionaries, but its reputation suffers when companies worth billions soak middle-class taxpayers for profits. Turn off the taxpayer tap, Mr Musk. It would earn you more friends for the long haul.
This seems a strange position for the Wall Street Journal to take. It never said a peep about the billions GM and Chrysler got after the global economic meltdown in 2008. Even though most of that money was eventually repaid, where was the Journal’s concern for the “taxpayer tap” then?
And it’s not like Musk and Tesla did anything to create these taxpayer financed schemes. The state and local governments laid out the rules and Tesla found a way to make a lot of money by playing according to those rules. The governments involved set out a lovely pie of money and said, “Oh, won’t someone come and gobble up our lovely pie?” Tesla did. Get over it. Move on.
Many stock analysts have frankly been stunned by Elon Musk’s assertions in a conference call with investors last week that Tesla would grow by 50% a year for the next 10 years and be worth as much as Apple in 20 years. Several wonder if Musk has gone off the deep end.
Gadfly Morgan Stanley analyst Adam Jonas has written an article entitled “Tesla Pushes The ‘Insane’ Button.” He writes, “Seems Tesla is preparing to be a much larger company than we have forecasted, leaving us with nervous excitement.” Jonas says Tesla is targeting capital spending of $1.5 billion in 2015 – nearly double his expectation and up 50 per cent year to year. He says this level of spending reflects a company with ambitions to achieve sales of at least 500,000 by 2020, not the 295,000 he’d expected:
The assumptions in our earnings model seem to be at great philosophical odds with Tesla’s much more ambitious growth aspirations. When thinking about the share price development, the key question we are left with is whether investor appetite can keep up with Tesla’s growth journey and the alignment of forward looking expectations with the capital markets, a balance so important to firms at this early stage of development.
Another brokerage firm sees things differently. Evercore ISI is still positive on Tesla for the future, saying there are 6 reasons for its bullish attitude:
Less exposed to market risk than peers, as global demand will exceed supply.
Protected against industry risk because of its unique business model and vertical integration.
Market leading product with no obvious competition. Substantial brand equity, through product and innovation.
Equity certain to grow as it enters new markets and has new products.
Government CO2 rules a tailwind for it, a headwind for competition.
“The factors in Tesla’s favor are both powerful and unique to Tesla. We see merit in allocating capital to a leader in the technology of the future,” Evercore ISI analyst George Galliers says.
Elon Musk is nothing if not brash. His style and his business practices have discomforted many established leaders in the automotive marketplace. Perhaps it is no wonder that he should do so in the financial markets as well. Whether you decide to double down on Tesla stock or take your gains and get out, there is a stock analyst out there who will applaud your decision.
The one thing to keep in mind with Tesla is that the capital markets are confronted with something quite out of the ordinary here. All anyone can say with certainty is that there will be winners and losers ahead. Invest wisely.

Either Pro-Gay Jeb Is Toast in 2016 or the GOP Is

American Family Association ^ | February 27, 2015 | Bryan Fischer 

McKay Coppins of BuzzFeed has written a devastating exposé of the brain trust Jeb Bush has gathered around himself in his campaign for the GOP nomination.
In a word, if personnel is policy, Jeb is telling the pro-family community to drop dead.
Coppins points out that virtually every key slot on Bush’s campaign team - campaign manager, chief strategist, communications director, adviser - has been filled by an ardent proponent of sodomy-based marriage and special rights based entirely on aberrant sexual behavior.
When Bush officially launches his presidential bid later this year, he will likely do so with a campaign manager who has urged the Republican Party to adopt a pro-gay agenda; a chief strategist who signed a Supreme Court amicus brief arguing for marriage equality in California; a longtime adviser who once encouraged her minister to stick to his guns in preaching equality for same-sex couples; and a communications director who is openly gay.
To an extent that would have been unthinkable in past elections, one of the leading candidates for the Republican presidential nomination has stocked his inner circle with advisers who are vocal proponents of gay rights. And while the Bush camp says his platform will not be shaped by his lieutenants’ personal beliefs, many in the monied, moderate, corporate wing of the GOP — including pragmatic donors, secular politicos, and other members of the establishment — are cheering the early hires as a sign that Bush will position himself as the gay-friendly Republican in the 2016 field.
In addition to Kochel, who is expected to run the national campaign, Bush has hired Tim Miller, a star communications and research operative who is gay; longtime aide Sally Bradshaw, whose support for her pro-gay preacher recently showed up in a New York Times profile ; and Mike Murphy, the veteran GOP consultant who joined other prominent Republicans in signing a 2013 brief calling on the Supreme Court to overturn California’s same-sex marriage ban, Proposition 8. What makes this band of operatives unique is not just that they support gay rights, but that many have made it their mission in the past to bring the party along with them.
With his team in place, Bush has attracted a wave of early support from many of the party’s most prominent gay rights advocates. Ken Mehlman, the former Republican National Committee chair who authored the Prop. 8 brief, has reportedly been introducing Bush to donors. At least a dozen of the brief’s 80 signatories have either endorsed him, donated to him, or gone to work for him. Tom Ridge, the former Homeland Security secretary who regularly preaches LGBT inclusion to his fellow Republicans, has declared himself an enthusiastic Bush-backer.
Twice in this piece the dreaded “e” word is used. Bush is said to have “evolved” on the issue in just way President Obama did - just in time to pander to misguided voters and donors with deep pockets.
Jeb himself correctly wrote in 1994,”[Should] sodomy be elevated to the same constitutional status as race and religion? My answer is No.”
Of course it is impossible for the definition of marriage or the immorality of sodomy to “evolve.” Marriage has not evolved any more than the universe or life itself. It’s definition has been fixed by God since the dawn of time. It was then, is now, and forever will be the union of one man and one woman. God’s moral opinion of homosexual conduct has never changed and never will. It will be a sexual perversion - that is, a perversion of his design for human sexuality - until the end of time.
For a Republican to mess with that is to mess with God, the original purpose of the Republican Party, and the conservative base.
The GOP was founded for two reasons: to preserve natural marriage, responding to a movement to legalize polygamy, and to fight the institution of slavery. Changing the definition of marriage was, to the Republican forefathers, a “relic of barbarism.” The Republican Party platform was right then and it is right now.
If Bush leads the party away from a robust defense of marriage as God designed it and defined it, the Republican Party will have lost its reason to exist. Social conservatives will abandon the party so fast it’ll make your eyes water.
That sound of thunder you will hear will be created by the feet of pro-family Republicans stampeding for the exits. They will be gone and will never return. The GOP will be spent as a political force. It’ll have its precious big tent with nobody inside.
It’s time for social conservatives to armor up. Jeb Bush has thrown down the gauntlet. If conservatives want to save their party, and more importantly save America, step one is stopping Jeb Bush dead in his tracks.
(Unless otherwise noted, the opinions expressed are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the views of the American Family Association or American Family Radio.)

Scott Walker: Standing with Our Friends, Standing Up to Our Enemies

National Review Online ^ | March 2, 2015 | Scott Walker 

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will address a joint session of Congress this week. We should listen closely as he raises legitimate concerns about Iran — giving him and his country the respect worthy of a close ally.
Instead, President Obama and some Democrats have chosen to use this visit as a political football. This is exactly what Americans dislike about Washington.
Lost amidst the petty squabbling in our nation’s capital over protocol is the simple fact that the U.S.–Israel relationship is in crisis, perhaps the most serious crisis in our history. While implementing policy that rewards Israel’s enemies, the Obama administration has been questioning the prime minister’s motives and attempting to undermine his message.
Stop the pettiness. We must repair the ruptured bonds between our two countries.
The U.S.–Israel partnership has historically been a rare point of bipartisan consensus. Israel is our closest ally in the Middle East. Our countries share common democratic values, our governments work together daily to confront security threats, and our citizens are bound together by shared history, culture, and blood. This alliance has withstood wars, diplomatic crises, and personal tensions. Until President Obama, all U.S. presidents were dedicated to working out legitimate disagreements between our two governments in order to advance our common interests.
This president has chosen a different course. He has been uniquely indifferent to Israel’s concerns and uniquely accommodating to Israel’s enemies.
Consider the most important point of contention in the U.S.–Israel relationship today: the Iran nuclear challenge. Prime Minister Netanyahu comes to Washington not to provoke the president, but to ring the alarm bells. He has legitimate security concerns regarding the type of deal he sees taking shape. In his view, this deal is likely to leave Iran as a threshold nuclear state and provide the world’s leading state sponsor of terror with billions of dollars in sanctions relief.
Such a deal presents an existential threat to Israel. And at a time of extreme anxiety in Jerusalem, the president has reportedly ceased communicating with the Israeli security establishment while writing to Ayatollah Khamenei, supreme leader of a regime that repeatedly calls for Israel’s destruction.
We must not allow this relationship to deteriorate any further. So what do we do? First, the president and his advisers must treat the prime minister of a longstanding ally with the respect that he deserves and stop playing politics. The second step is for the United States and Israel to work out parameters of a comprehensive nuclear agreement that are acceptable to both sides. And finally we must work to rehabilitate our traditional alliance structure in the Middle East, creating a bulwark capable of resisting Iranian aggression. Our national security depends on it.
For all of our allies in the region, Arab as well as Israeli, Iran’s nuclear ambitions are just one part of its broader assault on the regional order, an order that depends on U.S. leadership. If the president continues to call into doubt our friendship with Israel while seeking rapprochement with Iran, he will harm more than just the U.S.–Israeli relationship. He will undermine the trust of our remaining friends and partners in the Middle East. In addition to warm relations with Israel, we also need the cooperation of the Sunni Arab states in order to destroy radical Islamic terrorists and stabilize the region, and the Sunni Arab states are as threatened by Iran’s deadly designs as Israel is.
Strong leadership in the White House is the missing ingredient. Today our alliances are not sound because our allies question our commander-in-chief’s resolve and commitment to their security. We cannot afford to be passive spectators while the world descends into chaos. America must stand with our friends and stand up to our enemies. Then and only then can our standing in the Middle East and throughout the world improve and with it our own security.
— Scott Walker is the governor of Wisconsin. He was elected to a second term in November 2014 and recently formed Our American Revival to take his issues platform to the national stage.

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