Monday, January 16, 2017

MLK A Giant. Obama A Misguided Midget. Canapes, Wine and A Hot Potato.

Dagny the flower girl, Blake the ring bearer and Brian The Best Man at his closest friend's wedding.
++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ c4351026/c

And c4351026/c

you decide

And finally a look back. (See 1 below.)

Another take on Kerry's recent speech.

Today is MLK Day.  I had the greatest respect and admiration for this man. As the Viet Nam War progressed. and he turned against it. I disagreed with his stance but also understood his rationale. As I look back upon his position I guess I still oppose it but I also understand why he took it and the courage it took to say it.

I was more opposed to the way politics had intruded into the fighting of the war than the rationale for fighting.  I believe, if you go to war, you go to win because you believe you are right and there is a moral justification.  When you fight in a manner that is in opposition to winning that becomes the moral issue not the war itself.

As I previously wrote, Obama had the opportunity to complete what MLK began but he chose another path.

Instead, having lost the battle of policies, Democrats and the more radical among them such as Obama, embraced the politics of divisiveness, and the politics of class and race.(See 2 and 2a below.)
Bob Woodward speaks his mind about the Intelligence community's treatment of Trump.(See 3 below.)
The Paris meeting ended as I thought it would.  Lots of canapes and wine eaten and drunk. Nothing accomplished.
(See 4 below.)
Trump throws hot potato to his son in law. (See 5 and 5a below.)

For what it is worth, I believe Trump believes you negotiate from a position of realism. Consequently, by presenting the Palestinians with a realistic situation and observing their response that is far more revealing than the approach the losers and cookie balancing crowd in our State Department have been pushing for decades.

Time will tell whether The Palestinians truly want peace, can deal with reality or simply want to perpetuate the myth because it brings them Western Largess which lines their Swiss Coffers.

By allowing the problem to fester there is always a need for more ointment and balm. By actually approaching the problem with an intent to solve it you eliminate the need for salve.

Eric Cantor: What the
Obama Presidency Looked
Like to the Opposition

He started with an outstretched hand. Then that changed.
Inauguration Day for Barack Obama in 2009 was clear, cold and crisp. More than a million people had come to Washington, and the Mall was alive with a sense of hope for the country’s future. I saw it from my seat on the west front of the Capitol. I felt the historic sense of the day and the optimism it promised as we in Congress went to work that January.

Shortly before that Inauguration Day, President-elect Obama came to the Capitol to meet with the Republican and Democratic leaders to discuss how we could work together to get the economy moving again. In that meeting, Mr. Obama asked John A. Boehner, then the House minority leader, and me to provide his team with our thoughts on how to put people back to work after the severe financial crisis of 2008. Given that my party had fought hard to elect someone else to the presidency, I was struck by this gesture and hopeful that it meant we could work together.

John and I established a working group on the recovery. We knew many of the traditional Republican policies had been consistently rejected by the Democrats, so we aimed to formulate policies that both sides could embrace.

The centerpiece of our plan was a 20 percent reduction in taxes for small businesses. We believed that small businesses were going to be the engine that powered America out of the economic downturn.

We didn’t know how the White House would receive our plan, but we knew the president was wildly popular and could use the bully pulpit against us.

News outlets, along with the Democrats, labeled us the “Party of No.” But that didn’t reflect the reality. Our goal was to offer a viable alternative to every major piece of legislation the Democratic majority put forward. We wondered if the president would embrace our efforts to bridge the policy divide, and if he did, what that might mean for Republicans in Washington.

A few weeks later, John and I, along with the other congressional leaders, met with President Obama at the White House to discuss our plan as well as his proposed stimulus bill. Bringing along a one-page outline of our working group’s recommendations, I rather brazenly asked the president if I could hand it out at the meeting. The president agreed, and after glancing at it, he said to me, “Eric, I don’t see anything crazy in here.”
I was hopeful. But later in the meeting, when I mentioned that a stimulus package built around government spending would be too much like “old Washington,” the president’s tone changed. He said: “Elections have consequences, and at the end of the day, I won. So I think on that one I trump you.”

It wasn’t long afterward that we learned that Nancy Pelosi, the speaker of the House, and Harry Reid, the Senate majority leader, were well on their way to having a final stimulus package drafted, and they weren’t really interested in any of our ideas.

And so it went with the year’s next significant policy debate: health care reform. For a long time, Republicans had been working on proposals to utilize high-risk pools to help patients with pre-existing conditions, to lower overall costs, and to expand coverage in the small employer market — policies that were compatible with the president’s public goals.

Early in the legislative process, a senior member of the Obama administration came to see me. Ostensibly it was to share ideas and seek a bipartisan way forward on health care reform. The official presented the administration’s preferred policy approach — including mandates, and the “public option,” in which government would compete with private insurance plans. I insisted that none of this would go over well with the Republican members, and as the whip I knew that the public option was a nonstarter. Nonetheless, I was told the president and his team were intent on doing it their way.

The attitude wasn’t much different in public. In February 2010, the president invited the bipartisan congressional leadership to Blair House for a discussion surrounding the health care bill that the Senate had passed. Unlike our meeting on the economy a year earlier, this one was to be televised. It was obvious that the session was more about creating public pressure on Republicans than soliciting our ideas.
In November 2010, Democrats suffered defeat at the ballot box, as Republicans retook the majority in the House.

As I look back on that first meeting, and what transpired after, I see an opportunity lost. President Obama started with an outstretched hand, but pulled it back with a policy lurch leftward to a place we could not go.
Next week, Donald J. Trump will assume office as the 45th president of the United States. He will govern with Republican majorities in the House and Senate.

Democratic leaders must decide whether they will offer solutions that they hope won’t be rejected out of hand by Republicans, or whether they want to oppose everything that comes down the pike.

If they choose the former, President Trump will have to decide whether to work to include them in the governing process.

It is too early to say what choices each side will make, but we know what’s in store for our country if the Democrats opt for pure obstruction or if Mr. Trump and Republicans exclude the minority from policy decisions. We’ll get four years of hyper-partisanship and further erosion of public confidence in our governing institutions.
As Americans witness the swearing in of a new president this week, it’s another reminder that our founding fathers wanted elections to have consequences, but they also created a system that requires factions to work together even after a decisive election. It is my hope that the new president and leaders in Congress live up to our founders’ expectations.

Eric Cantor is a former Republican House majority leader and vice chairman and managing director at Moelis & Company.

2) John Kerry’s Israel Speech Dishonored Martin Luther King Jr.

avatar by Stephen M. Flatow

Dr. Martin Luther King delivering his
Dr. Martin Luther King delivering his ‘I Have a Dream’ speech during the March on Washingtonon 28 August 1963. Photo: Wiki Commons. – In his recent speech about Israeli settlements, Secretary of State John Kerry unfairly blamed Israel and minimized Palestinian violence. But he also did something else: he grievously dishonored the African-American civil rights movement, just weeks before Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.

In his December 28 speech, Kerry recited a litany of accusations against Israel. The unkindest of all was his charge that Israeli policies were creating “segregated enclaves” for Palestinians, and a “separate but unequal” system for Israelis and Palestinians.

Kerry’s choice of language could not have been an accident. He didn’t speak off the cuff. He didn’t ad-lib his 73-minute lecture. He spoke from a carefully prepared text that he and his speechwriters must have spent many days, if not weeks, preparing.

Kerry knew what phrases would resonate the most strongly with the American public, especially in the final days of the first African-American president. The secretary of state invoked the words “separate but unequal” in order to equate Israel with some of the ugliest images from America’s past.

But Kerry got it completely backwards. It is the Palestinians, not Israel, whose behavior is similar to that of the segregationists of America’s civil rights era.

I suspect that Dr. King would have understood this very clearly. After all, the Palestinians demand that Jews be kept out of certain areas, just as the white segregationists demanded that blacks be kept out of certain areas. The Palestinians have repeatedly lynched innocent Jews, just as the white segregationists lynched blacks. The Palestinians smear Jews with antisemitic slurs, just as the white segregationists smeared blacks with racist slurs.

Does anybody remember that disgusting cartoon of an Israeli soldier preparing to rape a Palestinian woman, which was posted on the official website of the Palestinian Authority’s (PA) National Security Forces, in November 2014? How different was that from white racists in the American south who falsely accused African-Americans of assaulting white women?

I wonder if Kerry and his staff are aware of the fact that the majority of Israelis are “people of color.” They are immigrants from, or descendants of immigrants from, African and Middle Eastern countries. Moreover, Israel is the only country in the world that ever sent its planes to a famine-ravaged African country to airlift tens of thousands of starving blacks — Ethiopian Jews — to safety.

In its daily life, Israel ensures civil rights for people of all colors and faiths. Contrast that with the Arab world, where racism against Jews and other non-Arabs is rampant. To this day, there are Arab countries (Sudan, Mauritania) where black slavery still exists. For some reason, human rights groups — including those who claim to revere Dr. King’s memory — don’t pay much attention to it

By contrast, the PA promotes racism every single day. How? By inciting its citizens to engage in racist violence that targets members of one ethnic group: Jews. The PA does not encourage violence against “Israelis.” It encourages violence specifically against Israeli Jews. Not Israeli Arabs. Only Israeli Jews

Palestinian-populated areas are not “segregated enclaves.” The only reason that there are no Jewish residents of those areas is that a racist PA refuses to let Jews live there. And if there is anything “unequal” about the residents of the PA-governed areas, it is because the PA refuses to hold democratic elections, thereby depriving its Palestinian residents of their equal rights

Kerry’s inappropriate use of civil rights-era rhetoric libels Israel and slanders the cherished memories of all those who fought and sacrificed in America’s civil rights movement, including American Jews who went to prison and, in some cases, even gave their lives for it. To compare them to the Palestinians, whose “struggle” consists of bombing, stabbings and lynching Jews, is a grievous slur and dishonors everything we commemorate on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

Stephen M. Flatow, a vice president of the Religious Zionists of America, is an attorney in New Jersey. He is the father of Alisa Flatow, who was murdered in an Iranian-sponsored Palestinian terrorist attack in 1995.

In his magnificent speech “I Have a Dream” delivered on August 28, 1963 Dr. King stated:
“But there is something that I must say to my people, who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice: In the process of gaining our rightful place, we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred. We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again, we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force.
The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to a distrust of all white people, for many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny. And they have come to realize that their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom.
We cannot walk alone.”
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. ignited a movement in America that culminated in the landmark Civil Rights Act , that outlawed discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. Alas, he did not live to see its implementation and the effects of ameliorative policies. He was assassinated on April 4, 1968 in Memphis, Tennessee by a racist criminal James Earl Ray.
Since his death, many hucksters have tarnished his legacy… among “preachers” such as Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, Obama’s pastor Jeremiah Wright, Louis Farrakhan, to name only a few, and among thugs such as the old and new Black Panthers and the current racists of the #Black Lives Matter movement.
Dr. King would be appalled that under the administration of America’s first Black president, race relations in America are worse and introspection on both sides has diminished and been replaced with hardened prejudice.
His words matter more than ever……rsk


Bob Woodward Agrees with Trump — Intel Community Has Treated Him Like ‘Garbage’ [VIDEO]

“In Trump’s mind, he knows the old adage, ‘once a C.I.A. man, always a C.I.A. man,’ and no one came out and said those people shouldn’t be saying those things,” the Washington Post’s famed editor explained. “So act two is the briefing when this dossier is put out.”

Bob Woodward, on this occasion, had Donald Trump’s back in his ongoing feud against the U.S. intelligence community during a panel discussion on “Fox News Sunday” with Chris Wallace.
“I’ve lived in this world for 45 years where you get things and people make allegations,” he continued. “That is a garbage document.”
“It never should have been presented as part of an intelligence briefing, as you suggested — other channels have the White House counsel give it to Trump’s incoming White House counsel.”
Woodward emphatically stated the president-elect is “right to be upset about that, and I think if you look at the real chronology and the nature of the battle here, those intelligence chiefs who were the best we’ve had, who were terrific and have done great work — they made a mistake here.”
“When people make a mistake, they should apologize.”
4)  In the end, not much came out of the Paris peace conference. According to the Washington Post, both Netanyahu and Abbas were briefed on the wording of the joint communique before it was released, “and neither raised any objections.” So is the statement any big a deal? Depends on who you ask:
U.S. officials believe the diplomatically worded “welcome” for these previous initiatives amounts to an implicit acknowledgment by the Arab nations that Israel will be a Jewish state and that a million or more Palestinians who have demanded the right of return to Israel will never come back. None of that was mentioned explicitly, so it is unclear whether the Arab governments will be able to speak to their publics about such emotional and deep-seated issues.
Israeli officials cheered the fact that “problematic passages” from resolution UN resolution 2334 were not included in the joint statement and expressed satisfaction at no further UN action before the end of the Obama presidency.
Kushner has no previous diplomatic experience, but steered Trump's foreign policy throughout his presidential campaign and subsequent presidential transition.

WASHINGTON - While serving as a senior adviser in the White House, Donald Trump's son-in-law, Jared Kushner, will work to "broker a Middle East peace deal," the president-elect said over the weekend.

In an interview with the Times of London, Trump said that Kushner, Ivanka Trump's husband, would to take on the task of negotiating peace between Israelis and Palestinians– an appointment Trump has previously floated due to the fact that Kushner "knows the region, knows the people, knows the players," Trump described in a previous interview.
The Times offered no further details on the matter from their interview. But the president-elect, who will be inaugurated as America's 45th president on Friday, has repeatedly discussed his interest in securing a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians– an agreement he has referred to as the deal of all deals.

Kushner has no previous diplomatic experience, but steered Trump's foreign policy throughout his presidential campaign and subsequent presidential transition. He was the primary drafter of Trump's speech to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, which drew positive feedback from the crowd.

“What we know, he’s a really tough, smart guy, and we hope he will bring new energy to our region,” Israel's defense minister, Avigdor Lieberman, said of Kushner last month.

As a member of the president's family, Kushner had to retain a law firm to navigate him through potential legal obstacles to working for his father-in-law– specifically, an anti-nepotism law which states that "a public official may not appoint, employ, promote, advance, or advocate for appointment, employment, promotion, or advancement, in or to a civilian position in the agency in which he is serving or over which he exercises jurisdiction or control any individual who is a relative of the public official."

But his legal counsel, Wilmer Hale, concluded last month that precedent was laid for Kushner by Trump's former rival, Hillary Rodham Clinton, who won a court case in the 1990s in her fight to chair a national task force on health care reform for her husband, then-president Bill Clinton. That case found that existing law bans appointments to agencies and departments, but not within the White House itself.

Kushner and his wife, who converted upon their marriage in 2009, are Orthodox Jews. 

"He clearly is someone who has a sense of Jewish identity, and he is someone who has a genuine attachment to Israel and understanding of the importance of the US-Israel relationship," Dennis Ross, a senior Middle East diplomat and veteran of the George H. W. Bush, Clinton and Obama administrations, told The Jerusalem Post.
"People I know who know him describe him as smart, as someone who will clearly learn what he needs to learn and will approach things thoughtfully, carefully, even analytically. So those would all be descriptors that I would hope would be accurate and emblematic of how he'll approach his responsibilities helping the new president."

If the US Embassy moves to Jerusalem, are we looking at a new intifada?

In less than one week, Donald J. Trump will be sworn in as the 45th president of the United States, replacing Barack Obama in the White House and on the world stage.

The relationship between Obama and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had been a testy one at best, and publicly hostile at the worst of times. Netanyahu has clearly stated his support for Trump, and during a meeting between Trump and Netanyahu in September, Trump told the prime minister that he would recognize Jerusalem as the “undivided” capital of Israel.

Jerusalem’s diplomatic status, one of the most controversial subjects in the Middle East, has not been recognized by almost any country as the capital of the State of Israel, and even Americans born in Jerusalem cannot have “Israel” marked as their birth country. In 1947, the original UN partition plan referred to it as corpus separatum, a city administered by an international body whose exact political status would be determined through negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians.

After Israel liberated the city in 1967, just a handful of embassies were located in Jerusalem.

After 1982, only Costa Rica and El Salvador remained, until 2006. The rest are based in Tel Aviv.

And despite David Friedman, the nominee for US ambassador to Israel, being one of the strongest advocates for moving the embassy, Trump’s pick to lead the Pentagon, James Mattis, named Tel Aviv as Israel’s seat of government during his confirmation hearing last week before the Senate Armed Services Committee.

Almost all presidential candidates, including Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, made the same pledge to move the embassy, but once inaugurated backed down on their promise, invoking the executive waiver to the 1995 congressional mandate to relocate the embassy stating that it was not in the American national interest at that time.

The waiver has been re-signed every six months for the past 22 years, with the latest waiver signed by Obama expiring on June 1, meaning Trump would not be able to begin the process until six months into his term as president. Those six months will likely see strong push backs against many of his policies, including moving the embassy to Jerusalem.

But if Trump does decide to push forward with the move, what awaits is a potentially dangerous situation for Israel, the Palestinians and the United States in regard to their diplomatic standing in the already volatile Middle East.

It won’t only be Israel that will see chaos if Trumps follows through on his promise – it is very likely riots will break out across Muslim-majority countries targeting the US and Israel.

According to Michael Koplaw, policy director of the Israel Policy Forum, the Jordanian government has even called moving the embassy a redline – and that, he told The Jerusalem Post, “is something that should not be taken lightly. We can’t assume that the embassy will be moved, but if it does get moved, you have to assume that there will be violence and protests of some sort, whether it be ‘officially’ sanctioned by groups or if there will be protests against American embassies.”

By moving the embassy, the United States risks losing any hope to portray itself an as honest broker or negotiator between Israel and Palestinians, and risks sending a message to the Palestinians that Washington is no longer interested in a two state solution, despite Trump saying that he would work to bring forth a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians.

While Trump has already indicated several departures from traditional American foreign policy, his pledge to move the US Embassy has alarmed many, and has led to the Palestinians warning that “the gates of hell will be opened in the region and the world.”

“Moving the embassy would have all sorts of consequences for Israeli security, and I hope the incoming [Trump] administration will take them seriously,” Koplow told the Post. “It’s not just moving the embassy and be done with it. People need to consider if it’s worth one Israeli, Palestinian or American life to move the embassy to Jerusalem.”

According to Israel Radio, the subject of the embassy relocation was the chief topic of religious sermons throughout the West Bank prior to a deadly truck ramming attack in Jerusalem which left four soldiers dead. The relatives of the attacker, Fadi al-Qunbar, said he carried out the attack after hearing the sermon at his local east Jerusalem mosque, and “was very angry, and said transferring the embassy would lead to war.”

But while there may be an increase in lone wolf attacks, according to Shlomo Brom, senior research fellow and head of the Program on Israeli-Palestinian Relations at the Institute for National Security Studies, there “is no real motivation” by any real serious organization, be it Hezbollah, Hamas, PLO or the Palestinian Authority, to want to start a full-blown intifada over the move.

“Hezbollah and Hamas are not looking for any incidents with Israel, as they are too preoccupied,” he told the Post.

“There may be terror attacks where the attacker, if captured alive, might use the embassy move as an excuse, but I don’t think they will start a full-blown intifada,” he said, adding that “the Palestinian political elite understands that it is a symbolic move. I don’t think the move is important, not to them or to us. It is a symbolic, insignificant move. We are in 2017, Israel does not suffer from a problem of recognition – Jerusalem is recognized. When ambassadors come to Israel to meet the prime minister, they go to Jerusalem.”

A regional security expert told the Post in a recent interview that there are “a few unknowns” about Trump’s policies towards Israel’s security, which makes it very difficult for Israel and its security agencies to predict the threat of the next regional conflict.

One can assume that terror groups such as Hamas in Gaza and Hezbollah in Lebanon are very likely waiting eagerly to see how Trump and his administration will act in regards to Israel.

While both groups are presently occupied with their own issues – an electricity crisis in Gaza for Hamas, and a deadly war in Syria for Hezbollah – one cannot predict how and when the groups will strike if Trumps keeps his word.

So while moving the American embassy may be welcomed by Israelis and Jews in the Diaspora, it must be weighed against the potential security ramifications in Israel and across the Middle East, if not the entire world.

While a full-blown intifada like Israel witnessed in the 1990s and early 2000s may not break out, are people willing to risk losing more lives in attacks for an embassy?

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