Saturday, December 31, 2016

Obama’s petty attempts to sabotage Trump are bound to fail

The New York Post ^ | December 30, 2016 | F.H. Buckley 

It’s easy to come up with several different reasons for the Obama administration’s moves against Russia and Israel.
The repudiation of his policies in last month’s election would have wounded a normal person’s ego, to say nothing of someone as vain as Obama. To rub it in, the press has left the setting to follow the rising sun, reporting so much about Trump that Obama had seemed quite forgotten.
The extraordinary burst of diplomatic activity over the last week, so unusual for a departing president, might therefore seem a piece of Obama’s petulant claim that he could have defeated Trump had he been able to run for a third term. It reminds one of the party Bill Clinton threw for himself after leaving office on George W. Bush’s Inauguration Day, in order to upstage the new president. When they leave office, recent Democratic presidents find it difficult to withdraw into a customary, dignified obscurity.
But there’s more to it than that. What is behind Obama’s attack on Russia and Israel is a pathetic attempt to tie the hands of the new administration, and to extend his rule beyond the two terms allotted a president.
It’s no secret that Trump seeks an accommodation with Russia and desires an end to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and that he’d pursue this in a very different manner from Obama and former Secretary Hillary Clinton.
By demonizing Russia, and withdrawing our historic support for Israel, Obama sought to place an insurmountable barrier to Trump’s two major foreign-policy initiatives, even as the flurry of enormously costly new regulations is meant to tie the hands of Trump’s domestic-policy advisers....
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Mike Rowe Speaks Out, Explains Why Jobs Are Suffering With 1 BLUNT Word

Mad World News ^ | 12/28/16 | Alisha Rich 

Mike Rowe has been known to speak his mind on several issues here in America. However, his most recent outburst is a result of the suffering job market, and he explained exactly why it’s been happening with one blunt word that will undoubtedly infuriate liberals.
The American job market has been suffering for years. There are many people out of work, unable to make ends meet. However, former host of Dirty Jobs, Mike Rowe, recently exposed why our country’s job market is suffering, and he did it with one brutal word that has gotten whiny libs infuriated – all because the truth hurts.
Rowe admitted that the U.S. job market is suffering not for lack of opportunity, but because American workers are just “spoiled.” If we’ve learned anything from the events following this year’s presidential election, it’s that there are many whiny, entitled, brats roaming our nation.
According to Young Cons, Rowe recalled that he “kept hearing reports of joblessness across the country.” However, when he would go perform “dirty,” blue-collar work for his television program, he would often see “help wanted” signs along the way, indicating that there are blue collar positions available everywhere — they’re just not the jobs people think they deserve.
According to The Blaze, there are nearly 100 million people not in the labor force today. Sadly, many of these entitled brats could land themselves a well-paying blue collar job anywhere across America, but because they feel they are “more qualified” or deserve a white collar job, they would rather collect unemployment or merely be unpaid than to accept a blue collar position. They want to get paid good money, but they want to do it without getting their hands dirty.
Clearly, America has a growing problem: entitlement. When your family is suffering, you do whatever it takes to get food on the table and pay your bills – even if it means accepting a “dirty” job when you’ve previously been in positions higher up on the corporate ladder. Personally, the people who work these blue collar jobs are the people who keep America thriving, and if a few more people got their hands dirty, our country could quite possibly be in a completely different situation.

Latest on the pardon-request pile: Snowden, Manning

Hot Air ^ | December 30, 2016 | Ed Morrissey 

Talk about bad timing. After the election, Barack Obama and the Democratic Party have stoked hysteria over Russian hacking of the DNC and John Podesta’s e-mails. Obama just kicked 35 Russian diplomatic officials out of the country over the allegations, turning it into a major diplomatic rift. Just as this contretemps appears to have reached its zenith, two notorious figures who stole massive amounts of diplomatic and national-security data and exposed it to the world have asked Obama to pardon them, as Politico’s Josh Gerstein reports — one of whom now lives under Vladimir Putin’s grant of asylum:
Four of the most well-known targets of President Barack Obama’s war on leaks — including Edward Snowden and Chelsea Manning — are among those who have requested pardons or commutations in the waning days of his presidency.
Lawyers who track Obama’s approach to clemency applications say all four — which also include retired Marine Corps Gen. James “Hoss” Cartwright and former CIA officer John Kiriakou — face long odds in part because of intense attention to the dangers of hacking and the national security leaks that follow.
The fact that the requests don’t meet the usual Justice Department criteria and aren’t covered by the special initiative Obama set up to reduce the sentences of non-violent drug offenders sentenced to long terms in federal prison also make them more unlikely.
Well, that’s not the only issue that makes these grants unlikely. The Manning case has many facets to it, but the connection to Wikileaks makes it all but impossible. The DNC and Podesta e-mails went through Wikileaks too, and the Obama administration has accused them of being Russian dupes or agents for publishing those private communications from private organizations. How can Obama justify a pardon for Manning, who transmitted far more information from military and diplomatic communications to the same organization?
Snowden’s application is even more obviously problematic. Manning was tried, convicted, and sentenced for his crimes. Snowden ran out of the country, eventually setting up shop in Russia under Putin’s protection. Fugitives typically do not get consideration for presidential pardons, at least not unless they’re really Rich and give lots of money to the Clintons and other Democrats. After the Russia panic stoked by Obama himself and fellow Democrats, there’s no possible way that Obama would ignore Snowden’s status as a fugitive and a Russian asylum recipient to pardon him for putting actual sensitive data into the open.
For the same reason, the prospects for a Hillary Clinton pardon seem more remote than they did before the election, too. The Hill asked that question earlier this week:
From Obama’s perspective, the decision to grant or withhold a pardon is a political and a personal one. Legal considerations do not directly arise.
Like all presidents at the end of their terms, he is concerned about the legacy he leaves for history. Does he want his legacy to include a pardon of the secretary of State who served under him during the entirety of his first term in office?
Because acceptance of a pardon amounts to a confession of guilt, the acceptance by Clinton would, to a degree, besmirch both Clinton and also Obama. After all, Clinton was Obama’s secretary of State. If she was committing illegal acts as secretary, it happened literally on his watch.
On the other hand, if the new administration were to prosecute and convict Clinton of crimes committed while she was secretary, that might be an even greater embarrassment for Obama post-presidency.
A Hillary Clinton pardon focused only on the e-mail scandal would force the Obama administration to argue that hacking the DNC and John Podesta had more consequence than a Secretary of State putting classified info into non-secured systems. That’s a laughable premise that should already be getting skewered in the media, and a pardon might just force that issue. A pardon that more broadly includes the pay-to-play corruption between State and the Clinton Foundation gets even more problematic, especially in regard to the Uranium One deal that gave Russia control over 20% of US uranium while putting $500,000 in Bill Clinton’s pocket. Which benefited Russia more — Hillary’s transmission of classified info in the clear and her arrangement to put more uranium under Moscow’s control, or e-mails at the DNC and Center for American Progress?
In a rational exit, we’d see more low-level pardons rather than splashy and controversial clemency actions:
“I think he’s going to announce a lot of names in the next few weeks. I don’t think any of them will be these big-name figures,” said Mark Osler, a law professor at the University of St. Thomas in Minneapolis. “This administration does have an aversion to high-profile cases generally.”
The big question is whether Obama’s lame-duck period qualifies as a “rational exit.” Issuing these pardons will completely undercut Obama’s attempts to paint Russia as the reason for his party’s collapse, as well as just being plainly bad ideas. I’d bet that Manning, Snowden, and Hillary should all prepare themselves for disappointment in the pardon process … but I wouldn’t bet too much money on it.

Obama and Israel, from 2008 to 2016: A Story of Betrayal and Reversal ^ | December 30, 2016 | Michael Brown 

In June 2008, presidential candidate Barack Obama gave a stirring speech to AIPAC, making strong commitments to the Jewish people and Israel. In December 2016, President Obama’s Secretary of State John Kerry delivered an important policy speech that directly contradicted some of candidate Obama’s words. The contrast is striking, unnerving, and downright hypocritical.
To be fair, there is some consistency between the speeches, as both advocate a two-state solution, among other parallels. And on a certain level, President Obama has kept some of the commitments he made to Israel, including massive defense contracts and military aid. And it is true that, until last week, Obama had not allowed the UN Security Council to pass any anti-Israel resolutions.
Still, reading Obama’s 2008 speech in light of the last eight years is a real shocker. Consider the following.
In 2008, candidate Obama pledged, “As president, I will work to help Israel achieve the goal of two states, a Jewish state of Israel and a Palestinian state, living side by side in peace and security. And I won't wait until the waning days of my presidency. I will take an active role, and make a personal commitment to do all I can to advance the cause of peace from the start of my administration.”
Ironically, he has done the opposite, not only failing to move the peace process forward but rather, in “the waning days of [his] presidency,” taking aggressive steps to undermine the peace process and to betray Israel. (It’s even possible that before the transfer of power, he will lash out at Israel once more.)
In 2008, Obama declared that, “Jerusalem will remain the capital of Israel, and it must remain undivided.”
This week, John Kerry declared that a peace agreement would “provide an agreed resolution for Jerusalem as the internationally recognized capital of the two states, and protect and assure freedom of access to the holy sites consistent with the established status quo.”
He added, “Most acknowledge that Jerusalem should not be divided again like it was in 1967, and we believe that.” But, he continued, “At the same time, there is broad recognition that there will be no peace agreement without reconciling the basic aspirations of both sides to have capitals there.”
Well, here’s a note from Jerusalem to our Secretary of State and President: You cannot have it both ways. Either Jerusalem is the undivided capital of Israel or it is the divided capital of Israel and Palestine. And if Jerusalem is to be the undivided capital of Israel, then Mr. Kerry has no reason to protest strongly the relocation of our embassy to Jerusalem, which he did this week as well.
Joel Pollack also points out that “through the Obama administration’s acceptance of UN Security Council Resolution 2334 last Friday,” America now “regards the Israel presence in East Jerusalem as ‘settlements’ that are in ‘flagrant violation of international law.’” This means that, “Effectively, the Obama administration has allowed the Palestinians to claim East Jerusalem as their own, with the option of negotiating that claim away. The starting point of negotiations is now a division of Jerusalem ‘like it was in 1967.’”
Getting back to 2008, while pledging to work diplomatically with Iran rather than militarily against Iran, candidate Obama was very clear about the danger Iran presented, stating, “There is no greater threat to Israel — or to the peace and stability of the region — than Iran.”
He continued, “The Iranian regime supports violent extremists and challenges us across the region. It pursues a nuclear capability that could spark a dangerous arms race and raise the prospect of a transfer of nuclear know-how to terrorists. Its president denies the Holocaust and threatens to wipe Israel off the map. The danger from Iran is grave, it is real, and my goal will be to eliminate this threat.”
I doubt that anyone listening to his speech in 2008 would have imagined that he would end up striking such a disastrous deal with Iran, one that not only rewarded the Iranians with billions of dollars, some of which would be used to fund terrorism – Kerry himself admitted to this explicitly – but one which also gave them a clear path to nuclear development in the coming years. Is this not the height of betrayal?
But there’s more. In 2008, then Senator Obama said, “I have long understood Israel's quest for peace and need for security. But never more so than during my travels there two years ago. Flying in an [Israeli Defense Forces] helicopter, I saw a narrow and beautiful strip of land nestled against the Mediterranean. On the ground, I met a family who saw their house destroyed by a Katyusha rocket. I spoke to Israeli troops who faced daily threats as they maintained security near the blue line. I talked to people who wanted nothing more simple, or elusive, than a secure future for their children.”
Yet in 2011, President Obama briefly suggested that Israel return to its totally indefensible pre-1967 borders, which would reduce this “narrow and beautiful strip of land” to as few as nine miles wide, thereby committing national suicide. And in 2015, it was reported that, “President Barack Obama is considering agreeing to a United Nations Security Council resolution ‘embodying the principles of a two-state solution that would be based on the pre-1967 lines between Israel and the West Bank and Gaza Strip and mutually agreed swaps,’ a senior administration official has told the New York Times.”
Will something like this be the last element in the president’s parting shots against Israel?
Making things even worse is the very strong evidence that the Obama administration worked directly with Palestinian leadership to craft and advance the recent UN Security Council resolution, despite the administration’s denials. Evidence includes: 1) discussion months in advance by political pundits that this was one of the options being discussed by the administration (how did they know this?); 2) Prime Minister Netanyahu stating unequivocally that America was behind the resolution, which he would hardly do without “rather ironclad information”; and 3) an Egyptian paper releasing transcripts of a purported meeting between Kerry and Palestinian officials from early December, planning out the strategy.
This is just part of what makes President Obama’s final actions so shameful and why Rabbi Shmuley Boteach was right to say that has Obama “demonized Israel little by little.”
So much for the man who said in 2008 that he spoke “as a true friend of Israel,” explaining, “And I know that when I visit with AIPAC, I am among friends. Good friends. Friends who share my strong commitment to make sure that the bond between the United States and Israel is unbreakable today, tomorrow and forever.”
As the old saying goes, with friends like these, who needs enemies.

‘Top of the First Inning’

Seven Ways Obama Is Trying To Sabotage The Trump Administration
Breitbart ^ | 12-31-2016 | John Hayward 

President Barack Obama’s final weeks in office seem dedicated to setting foreign and domestic policy on fire to make life as difficult as possible on his successor, Donald Trump. Here are some of the biggest mousetraps Obama scattered across the White House floor on his way out: Betraying Israel at the United Nations: Obama’s refusal to block a United Nations vote against Israel, his administration’s shadowy machinations to bring that ugly motion to the floor, and Secretary of State John Kerry’s long-winded broadside against Israel will leave President Trump with a massive political crisis in the Middle East, and quite possibly a security crisis, if terror groups and their “political wings” are emboldened by the rebuke of Israel.
Obama’s Israel maneuver also damages American credibility, teaching would-be allies that the United States is not the best friend to have. America’s erstwhile battlefield allies in Syria can teach the same lesson, assuming any of them are left alive to take the podium. This comes at the very moment aspiring hegemons in China and Russia are showing their allies how Beijing and Moscow will go to the mat for them.
Obama’s team thinks it was clever to saddle Trump with an international edict the U.S. president cannot easily reverse. They might not have thought this all the way through, because some of the options that are available to Trump could leave internationalists, and Palestinian leaders, cursing Barack Obama’s memory.
Note that even some commentators friendly to Obama, and sources within the Obama Administration itself, have described the Israel vote as a deliberate act of sabotage aimed at Trump, because Obama is “alarmed” by some of Trump’s appointees.

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The Death of Clintonism

Politico ^ | 12/30/2016 | TODD S. PURDUM 

In September 1963, two months before his death, John F. Kennedy mused aloud to his old friend the journalist Charles Bartlett about the prospects for the 1968 presidential election, in which, he presciently worried, his brother Robert might run against Lyndon Johnson.

“He gave me the feeling he wasn’t pleased,” Bartlett would recall years later. “He wanted a record of his own. I sensed that he wanted the Kennedy administration to be Jack, and Bobby was going to turn it into a succession thing. Jack didn’t want a dynasty, although I am sure his father would have wanted that.”

By all accounts, Bill and Hillary Clinton never had any such qualms, and now their quarter-century project to build a mutual buy-one, get-one-free Clinton dynasty has ended in her defeat, and their joint departure from the center of the national political stage they had hoped to occupy for another eight years. Their exit amounts to a finale not just for themselves, but for Clintonism as a working political ideology and electoral strategy.
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