Filed under: Africa, Capitalism, Economy, Foreign Policy, Islam, Middle East, Progressivism, The United States | Tags: Damming the Nile, Egypt, Luxor and Tourism
Sunrise at the Temple of Karnak in Luxor, Egypt
Egypt has problems. Cast your mind back to May of 2011. Egypt is the 15th most populous country at 82,079,636 according to 2011 estimates. Cairo had a population of an estimated 10.902 million, and the median age was 24. Half the population lived on less than $2 a day, and a spike in food prices leads to real trouble. Egypt is the world’s largest grain importer. To rephrase that, they cannot feed their own population. The Peruvian economist Hernando De Soto has estimated that 92% of Egyptians hold their property without normal legal title. Egypt is dependent on revenue from tourism.
If you remember, Mohamed Bouazizi, a 26 year-old Tunisian street vendor helped to start what became known as the Arab Spring, by an act of desperation by setting himself on fire in a public square. That act led to spontaneous uprisings in Egypt, Yemen, Libya and Syria. The White House and the media spoke breathlessly of Western-style democracy sweeping across the Arab desert. They ignored polls that showed that large majorities of Egyptians were yearning to vote in Islamic law. Skeptics pointed out that the Arab world has no experience whatsoever of democracy, and radical Islamists would soon sweep in.
Obama urged on the rioters and pressured Mubarak to step down. They held elections, the Muslim Brotherhood got 60% of the vote, and Mohamed Morsi was elected President, and promptly dismissed the Generals of the Egyptian Army.
President Morsi has now handed over control of a tourist destination to a party that loathes tourists. On Sunday President Morsi appointed Adel al-Khayat of the Gamaa al-Islamiyya party as Governor of Luxor, a region that is home to the ruins of two temples and several monuments. The party holds conservative views against sunbathing, women wearing shorts, alcohol, and is responsible for the 1997 attack in Luxor that killed 60 tourists. The New York Times reported:
“A fatwa, or religious decree, published on the Gamaa al-Islamiyya’s web site advised members of the group not to build tourist accommodations. ‘Because tourist villages have aspects that anger Allah, including alcohol, gambling and other forbidden things, building these hotels and villages is considered aiding their owners in sin and aggression, and is not permitted,’ the decision read.”
Tourism accounts for more than 11% Egypt’s GDP, and 90 percent of Egyptians employed in Luxor work in industries that depend on tourism to stay afloat. The revolution and the political turmoil following it has already nearly ended the country’s tourist economy, and this move won’t help.
To cap that off, President Morsi has escalated a fight with Ethiopia this week over a dam on the Nile River. Ethiopia is building a dam upstream from Egypt and expects to start filling in a 74 billion cubic meter reservoir in 2015. Egypt fears the dam will choke off its main supply of water.
Speaking to hundreds of Muslim Brotherhood supporters in Cairo Monday, Mr. Morsi said that Egypt was ready to “protect every drop of the Nile water,” for which it was ready to spill “our blood.” Conjuring up a conspiracy by domestic and foreign “enemies” to impoverish Egypt, he called on Egyptians to face up to the “threats to the country.”
The combative speech turned up the volume on bellicose noises from Cairo. Last week, the president held a meeting with opposition figures who, unaware they were being filmed live, said that Egypt may need to act militarily in Ethiopia to stop the construction of the dam. The video went viral.
Ethiopia dismissed the Egyptian threats as “psychological warfare” and said it will continue to build the dam.
Morsi has been in office for only 12 months, and none of the promises to make the streets safe or revive the economy have been realized. Youth unemployment is extremely high, and the government’s foreign currency reserves have been depleted. Egypt now depends on handouts from friendly nations like Qatar and Libya to buy food and fuel. The opposition has called for mass rallies across the country on June 30.
Secretary of State John Kerry has promised $4 billion in aid, and airplanes, but this is not an Arab Spring, and our government does not seem to grasp the nature of radical Islam. Now Mr. Morsi has turned to conspiracy mongering and nationalistic posturing. Didn’t work for Mubarak and his generals, and is unlikely to work in the current situation.
What our adventures in Syria will add to the mix remains to be seen. Our government seems remarkably naive in their approach to the Islamist governments in the Middle East.
Filed under: Architecture, Environment, News, The United States | Tags: Skagit River Bridge, Speedy Replacement, Temporary Bridge Reopens
Governor Jay Inslee has announced that a temporary bridge to replace the collapsed Skagit River Bridge will open tomorrow. This is on I-5 between Seattle and Vancouver B.C. and has slowed traffic with a detour since May 24. A temporary bridge in place with slightly reduced speed limits in just 24 days is not bad.
The Media, always hotly in pursuit of a dramatic story, made a great deal out of the collapse, which was due to a truck with an extra wide load striking a major bridge support, rather than President Obama’s favorite “crumbling roads and bridges” didn’t measure up in the drama department.
Traffic can once again move smoothly, and end the backups on the bridge detour. Good job.
Filed under: Foreign Policy, Iran, Islam, Military, Russia, The United States | Tags: Brutality in Libya, Misunderstanding the Middle East, Our Administration Mired in Scandal
Obama came into office as the Progressive Messiah, brilliant, a polymath, who was going to fix all the depredations committed by George W. Bush. “This is our moment. This is our time — to put our people back to work and open doors of opportunity for our kids; to restore prosperity and promote the cause of peace; to reclaim the American Dream and reaffirm the fundamental truth — that out of many we are one; that while we breathe we hope; and where we are met with cynicism, we hope; and where we are met with cynicism and doubt; and those who tell us that we can’t —we will respond with that timeless creed that sums up the spirit of a people: Yes we Can.” That went well.
Didn’t happen, any of it. It was just talk. But the people wanted to believe. Obama’s second term was not based on what he promised to do, but upon the sheer awfulness of Mitt Romney, with some serious help from the Internal Revenue Service, plus putting off anything disagreeable until after the election. After the election, the disagreeable stuff started to assert itself. We began to grasp just what had really happened in Benghazi on September 11, 2012, and that the administration had sent out administration officials to lie about it. The details began to come out, and the “Arab Spring” was noticeably falling apart, while Obama offered support to the new Muslim Brotherhood government in Egypt. to keep it in power, without noticing that this was a radical Islamist administration.
Then the details of the IRS scandal began to appear, blamed on a couple of low-level rogue workers in a back room in Cincinnati. The use of a government bureau to help to swing an election by refusing 501(c)(4) status to groups that disagree with the administration, releasing information to their political opponents, frightening donors, and the appalling consequences of loss of trust were just beginning to sink into the American consciousness, when the unsuspected reach the government’s surveillance of telephone records, email and Facebook pages into the activities of U.S. citizens without their knowledge shocked America. We had Edward Snowden’s revelations from Honk Kong, for whatever they are worth, to disturb nations around the world. There were the AP subpoenas, and the Fox investigation revealing another scandal involving the Justice department.
The reaction to the information that telephone carriers were supplying the government with call logs and leading technology companies were participating in a secret surveillance program known as PRISM, was a direct assault on public trust, for the public uses telephones, and email, and computers, and Facebook and Twitter. So where is the president? Out of the country, but he reappeared just long enough to remind people that he was not
Darth Vader Dick Cheney, who reminded the country in the president’s absence, that there are terrorists out there and the law is supposed to protect the privacy of American citizens while trying to track down terrorists under close control of the courts.
So in the center of all this scandal, the president sent forth an aide to announce that the “red line” in Syria had been crossed and Assad was indeed using poison gases on his own people. Somewhat late, but better late than never? The CIA will supply weapons to the rebels, and supposedly we are able to sort the nice rebels from the al Qaeda ones.
We apparently have some 4500 troops practically on the Syrian order engaging in “wargames” with Jordan, which has incensed the other neighbors. Obama clearly does not want to really do anything, but on the other hand there are all those people dying and some want him to do something. Iran has announced that it is sending 4000 troops to aid Assad. The general opinion of those who really know something about the region is that we should stay out entirely, and send food and medicine to alleviate the suffering of the innocent.
This does not bode well, and promises to become another mess.
Filed under: Freedom, Intelligence, Law, National Security, Terrorism, The United States | Tags: Congressional Hearings, Edward Snowden, Low-Information Voters
I have been fascinated with the coverage today of Edward Snowden and the firestorm about NSA and whatever information they are gathering up. Dorothy Rabinowitz had a column in the Wall Street Journal regarding the anti-government leaker and “the school of believers certain than an all-powerful American government regularly plots to invade their lives and subvert their freedom.”
News of data mining looked to be irresistible proof of that faith—their darkest vision of an America at the mercy of a government secretly gathering all sorts of personal information and subverting the Constitution. And there was Edward Snowden, the latest addition to the pantheon of anti-government leakers, releasing a tonnage of classified data about the NSA surveillance programs. …
Trouble is, this latest face of self-sacrifice for a higher cause (Snowden has let it be known he considers his life as a free man pretty much over now) hasn’t been greeted with anything remotely like admiration among Americans, other than sympathizers in the aforementioned groups. From all indications, he’s an object of general contempt well deserving of prosecution—another in the line of socially deranged seekers who found the self-definition they long for in their obsessed vision of their government as the central source of evil in the world. It didn’t help that Mr. Snowden’s explanation for what he did came brimming odiously with virtue—he had, he said, decided to leak material because he thought Americans should be informed so that they could debate the questions he raised.
The number of Americans who hold it as revealed truth that the great peril in their lives is government intrusiveness—as opposed, say, to the menace of terrorist assaults, which the surveillance programs are intended to deter—is small, if vocal. They have been out in force, awash in talk-show oratory over the threat of government surveillance, the checking of phone records.
I thought that was pretty sensible, and Dorothy Rabinowitz has a long history of being quite sensible. But the comments! Readers were furious. How could she make light of the terrible intrusion into their privacy? Cancelled subscriptions, utter fury.
Our government had warnings from Russian intelligence, it was reported, about Tammerlan Tsarnaev, interviewed him and ignored the warnings. If, however, after the event, they can go to the phone company records and get records of the Tsarnaev phone calls, that would seem to me to be a source of other potential terrorists.
When I am online and look at the L.L.Bean’s online catalog, wonder of wonders, whatever websites I visit will probably have an L.L.Bean ad. If I express online interest in a product, I will regularly see ads for that product. Has nobody noticed this phenomenon?
You have been warned, if you are paying attention that your Facebook page will be examined by your potential employers. Your tweets too. I am astounded by the paranoia out there. You have no privacy on the internet. The internet companies are using the information they gather to sell ads, to measure interests, preferences that they data mine to determine public opinion.
There is no privacy on the internet. On the other hand why would anyone want to read my e-mails? I’m here expressing my disagreement with the administration every day, and everything I write is open to any reader. Disagreement is something this administration does not like. Perhaps I should be worried.
Edward Snowden had another interview today with some Hong Kong newspaper, and made the stunning revelation that the US has been hacking Chinese computers for years, both in Hong Kong, and on the mainland. Well, I would hope so. Chinese hackers have been stealing our classified military weapons and aircraft and ship plans for years, to advance their own military abilities without having to dream up the stuff themselves.
Why do people think we have organizations like the CIA, NSA, and any of the multitude of other intelligence-gathering services anyway? My guess is that they have never given it a single thought, ever, and are frightened by the rumors of an out-of-control government prying into their phone calls and emails. Fourth Amendment! Some think the Patriot Act is something unconstitutional.
Edward Snowden is not a hero, just a naive fool. If he has revealed some horrible secret about the evil American government, I don’t know what he had in mind. Governments want to know what other governments have up their sleeves. or in their back pockets, and they worry about some governments more than others. They try to find out secrets, and that’s one way they try to protect us.
Filed under: Capitalism, Domestic Policy, Economy, Freedom, Intelligence, Law, National Security, The United States | Tags: President Barack Obama, Surveillance and Secrets, Trust and Truth-Speaking
Today’s Must-Read Columns:
Filed under: Education, Humor, Intelligence, Law, National Security, Progressivism, The United States | Tags: Celebrities and Movie Stars, Whistleblower Edward Snowden?, Who Do You Trust?
How do you know who to believe? How do you sort truth from falsehood? Most of us can be drawn in by a good liar. The radio reports that more than 22,000 people have called for a full pardon for Edward Snowden and called him a “national hero.” We only first heard his name, what? two days ago? And he’s a national hero? Oh, please!
A recent survey by Reader’s Digest searched for “The 100 Most Trusted People in America.” Number 1 — Tom Hanks. Number 2 — Sandra Bullock. Number 3 — Denzel Washington. Number 4 —Meryl Streep Number 5 — Maya Angelou. Number 6 — Stephen Spielberg. Number 7 — Bill Gates. Number 8 — Alex Trebek. Number 9 — Melinda Gates. Number 10 — Julia Roberts.
Reader’s Digest said under the headline ‘Trust’ “It’s earned with a person’s integrity and character, exceptional talent and drive, internal moral compass, message, honesty, and leadership. In our annual Reader’s Digest Trust Poll, we asked you to determine the top 100 people in America today who have gained your confidence.”
They seem to be people that Reader’s Digest readers have seen on TV. It is a bizarre list. What could they have been thinking? Tom Hanks? These people are actors. Noam Chomsky is number 20! Jimmy Carter number 24. Obama doesn’t appear on the list until number 65— and that was long before the present scandals.
I once had a manager who was a pathological liar, and it took me quite a while to catch on. Took the company a little longer. We want to believe, and we don’t want to believe that someone has lied to us.
I find the Reader’s Digest list fascinating, for it tells us so much about where people get their information and how they process it. it tells us a lot about politics and about elections, and about our schools. We cannot be free if we cannot learn to distinguish truth from falsehood, fact from lie. Our educators claim that if they are not teaching our kids math and history, at least they are teaching “critical thinking.” Uh huh. Tell me another one.
Filed under: Democrat Corruption, Domestic Policy, Election 2012, Media Bias, Politics, Progressivism, Statism, The United States | Tags: americans for prosperity, Hating Conservatives, President Barack Obama
To understand the current scandals, the big ones — the IRS targeting of conservative groups, the Verizon telephone hacking, and the Prism cyberhacking of nine major internet companies servers for data — you have to understand some basic differences between the two major political parties. No, Republicans are not pure as the driven snow and the Democrats are not (quite) pure evil. Get real. They are all politicians whose primary interest is being reelected.
Democrats don’t just disagree with Conservatives, they hate them. They want them defeated utterly and completely so they are not there anymore and the Democrats are totally in charge and don’t have to suffer disagreeing people who keep dragging up studies and examples of why Democrats’ ideas won’t work, who get all stuffy about spending money, are unfailingly mean, don’t understand the need to help the poor, and don’t want to repay blacks for all their years of suffering.
Republicans do disagree with Democrats, about almost everything. This is what the founders intended. Republicans would prefer to win the arguments, but they do recognize that the arguing serves a purpose. I have never seen any indication anywhere, ever, that Republicans want to do away with Democrats, or ban them permanently from government. The ultimate goal of Democrats is winning. They want power. Republicans want a free society and smaller, more efficient government.
With the current scandals, Democrats insist that there is no paper trail, nor no “smoking gun” to connect President Barack O’Blameless to the scandals. Of course not. Obama does not like meetings, avoids them whenever possible, and prefers to make speeches. Why do you think he has all those Czars?
There might not be a paper trail, but Obama “spent months in 2010 warning Americans about the ‘threat’ to democracy posed by conservative groups, right at the time the IRS began targeting these groups.” The only useful thing produced by the inspector general’s audit of the IRS was the timeline, as laid out in the Wall Street Journal by Kim Strassel.
It was August 9, 2010 when the IRS first issued its “Be On the Lookout” list, flagging key conservative words and issues. The president named a group that he was obsessed with — Americans for Prosperity (founded by the Koch Brothers). “Right now all around this country there are groups with harmless-sounding names like Americans for Prosperity, who are running millions of dollars of ads…And they don’t have to say who exactly the Americans for Prosperity are. You don’t know if it’s a foreign-controlled corporation.”
Aug. 11: DCCC sends out fundraising emails warning about “Karl Rove inspired shadow groups.”
Aug. 21: Weekly radio address: “shadowy groups with harmless-sounding names. …You don’t know if it’s a foreign-controlled corporation…The only people who don’t want to disclose the truth are people with something to hide.”
Aug. 23: The New Yorker’s Jame Mayer: Hit piece on Koch brothers titled “Covert Operations: in which she accuses them of funding ‘political front groups.’”
Aug. 27: White House economist Austan Goolsbee accused Koch Industries of being a pass-through that does “not pay corporate income tax.” Inspector General investigates how Goolsbee got that confidential tax information.
Same week: Democrat Party files complaint with IRS claiming Americans for Prosperity is violating tax exempt status.
Sept. 16: Obama in CT, says “foreign-controlled entity” might be funding “millions of dollars of attack ads”
Sept 20: Obama in Philadelphia; “nobody knows who is behind conservative groups.”
And it continued. IRS employees in the Cincinnati office are now telling investigators that they took their orders from Washington DC. With this kind of commentary coming continually from the president and his spokespeople, you might not have the presidential signature on a formal order, but people probably got the idea. That’s how politics worked in 2010.
If you want to know something about shadowy dark secret groups, just Google “Democracy Alliance.”
Filed under: Democrat Corruption, Military, National Security, Terrorism, The United States | Tags: 2009 Fort Hood Texas, An Act of Terror, Major Nidal Hasan Army Psychiatrist
Major Nidal Malik Hasan proposes to defend himself in the trial where he stands accused of murdering 13 people at Fort Hood, Texas in 2009. He plans to argue that he acted in defense of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan — the Taliban. He will defend not only himself, but the leadership of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, as a “Soldier of Allah” when he opened fire on dozens of American citizens and soldiers, killing and maiming as many as he could while shouting “Allahu Akbar.” He killed 13, including a pregnant soldier, and wounded 32 others in his rampage against soldiers being processed to be deployed to Afghanistan. In other words, he committed an act of terror on behalf of an enemy of the United States.
Sort of puts paid to that bit about it being only “workplace violence” doesn’t it?
On May 23, in a major national security speech, just a month after the April 15 Boston Marathon bombing, President Obama credited his administration for “(changing) the course of the war against al Qaeda.”He added “There have been no large-scale attacks on the United States and our homeland is more secure.”
Because the administration insisted on calling this “incident” workplace violence, those wounded have been denied the benefits that would accrue to a soldier injured in an act of terror or a battle overseas. Staff Sergeant Shawn Manning was shot six times by Hassan. The “workplace violence” designation has cost him almost $70,000 in benefits.
Kimberly Munley was one of two police officers who confronted Hasan when he opened fire, and was shot 3 times. Her partner Sgt. Mark Todd fired the five bullets that brought Hassan down. She was invited to sit next to First Lady Michelle Obama at the 2010 State of the Union speech, but that sort of thing is just for show. She said “betrayed is a good word” to describe her feelings after being laid off from her job with the base’s civilian police force. The victims have been neglected. Major Hasan, on the other hand, has received all of his pay as a military psychiatrist, while in prison.
President Barack O’Blameless ended the threat of terrorism by authorizing the Seals to go after Osama bin Laden. They even made a movie about his triumph. But dang, these unpleasant things like Benghazi and Boston and now Syria keep popping up and are really hard to completely ignore. “Workplace Violence” just doesn’t cover it.
Filed under: Europe, Freedom, History, The United States, United Kingdom | Tags: Normandy's Five Invasion Beaches, The Great Allied Fleet, The Longest Day
Major Werner Pluskat in his bunker overlooking Omaha Beach had heard nothing from his superiors. He was cold, tired and exasperated. He felt isolated. He couldn’t understand why there had been no reports from either regimental or division headquarters. …Once more he swung the artillery glasses over to the left, picked up the dark mass of the Cherbourg peninsula and began another slow sweep of the horizon. The same low banks of mist came into view, the same patches of shimmering moonlight, the same restless white flecked sea.
Behind him in the bunker his dog Harras, was stretched out asleep. Nearby , Captain Ludz Wilkening and Lieutenant Fritz Theen were talking quietly. Pluskat joined them. “Still nothing out there,” he told them.” I’m about to give it up. But he walked back to the aperture and stood looking out as the first streaks of light began to lighten the sky. He decided to make another routine sweep.
Wearily, he swung the glasses over to the left again. Slowly he tracked across the horizon. He reached the dead center of the bay. The glasses stopped moving. Pluskat tensed, stared hard.
Through the scattering thinning mist the horizon was filling with ships — ships of every size and description, ships that casually maneuvered back and forth as though they had been there for hours. There appeared to be thousands of them. Pluskat stared in frozen disbelief, speechless, moved as he had never been before in his life. At that moment the world of the good soldier Pluskat began falling apart. He says that in those first few moments he knew, calmly and surely, that “this was the end for Germany.” Cornelius Ryan: The Longest Day
ADDENDUM: The Greatest Generation is passing into history. The youngest who turned 18 in 1943 will be 88 years old in 2013. Honor them, for they saved the world at enormous cost. Think too, of those on the home front who built the ships and planes and made the materials that won the war. They built the arsenal of Democracy.
They were slogging, unglamorous men that no one envied. No battle ensigns flew for them no horns or bugles sounded. But they had history on their side.
Filed under: Democrat Corruption, Freedom, Law, The Constitution, The United States | Tags: Obama Administration Scandals, The Internal Revenue Service, The Ways & Means Committee
Sheesh! No wonder the President held an impromptu press conference to attempt to distract media attention from the Ways and Means Committee Hearings. This is devastating for the administration.
I had appointments this morning, so couldn’t watch the hearings. When I got home, I got the mail and, believe it or not, I had a letter from the IRS! They wanted more money. Fortunately, it was due to a careless error on my part, easily corrected. ( I hope) The IRS told me it would be about a 15 minute wait on hold, but I think it was closer to an hour or more. We’ll see. I have to call back tomorrow. But there I sat, typing with one hand, on these posts while holding the phone to my ear with the other. And I can’t tell you what pleasure it gave me to be posting these testimonies while sitting endlessly on hold with the IRS.
Darrell Issa, Chairman of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee, has been taking depositions from those “low-level employees” that everybody has been trying to blame for the targeting of conservative groups. He has released passages from their testimony — complaining about the micromanagement from DC, — believing that the policy came from IRS headquarters. Some of the cases were sent to Washington DC. The “low-level employees” were told to send specific names of applicants and particular parts of applications.
David Axlerod keeps chiming in, saying that the whole thing is so stupid that it couldn’t be on purpose, that Darrell Issa is taking the GOP “over the cliff” on these scandals. “Overreaching” is the new word in the talking points.
Obama’s very own Organizing for Action is also seeking 501(c)(4) status. They are not only a specific tool for Obama in pushing his policy platform, they make no bones about it.
Statement of Purpose
Organizing for Action is a nonprofit organization established to support President Obama in achieving enactment of the national agenda Americans voted for on Election Day 2012. OFA will advocate for these policies throughout the country and will mobilize citizens of all parties and diverse points to speak out for speedy passage and effective implementation of this program, including gun violence prevention, sensible environmental policies to address climate change and immigration reform. In addition, OFA will encourage the formation of chapters that will be dedicated at the grassroots level to this program, but also committed to identifying and working progressive change on a range of issues at the state and local level. In carrying its work, OFA will operate as a “social welfare” organization within the meaning of section 501(c)(4) of the Internal Revenue Code.
What’s sauce for the goose clearly isn’t sauce for the gander. Time to whine about fairness?
Representative Aaron Schock speaks at the Ways and Means Scandal Hearing.
Filed under: Capitalism, Democrat Corruption, Domestic Policy, Economy, Law, Politics, The Constitution, The United States | Tags: Dr. Karen Kenney's Testimony, San Fernando Valley Patriots, The Internal Revenue Service
Here’s Dr. Karen Kenney, another in what will become a long list of victims of the intimidation tactics used by the IRS, aimed at conservative groups applying for tax-exempt status. In October, 2010, the San Fernando Valley Patriots, a not-for-profit corporation in California, applied to the IRS for 501(c)(4) status as a tax-exempt social welfare organization.
We heard nothing until February 2012 when I received a packet from the IRS Exempt Organizations Office in Cincinnati, OH which included a questionnaire with 35 items divided into 80 subpoints of inquiry.
A cover letter indicated we had 20 days to comply without penalty including “penalties of perjury” for failure to answer all questions with facts that are “true, correct, and complete.”
Karen Kenney said:
My personal favorite was question No. 33, which in relation to protests asked for a listing of our “committed violations or local ordinances, breaches of public order or arrests” then requested details on how we “conduct or promote” illegal activities.
I think the IRS needs to fix its labeling machine: We’re the San Fernando Valley Patriots, not Occupy Oakland.
It took the IRS sixteen months to reply to their application for tax-exempt status. Karen Kenney withdrew her application for tax exempt status in 2012, out of concern the IRS would target individuals involved in the group. Which was an election season. Can’t have any of these groups getting tax-exempt donations when there is an election at stake. After all, as the “Chicago Way” states — “at all times elections are too important to be left to chance.”
Democrats, in a bit of difficulty, are attempting to discredit the conservative groups testifying by claiming that 501(c)(4) status requires the group to be involved in “social welfare,” not politics. I can’t think of any greater social welfare issue for Americans than preserving the freedoms guaranteed by the Bill of Rights. Social welfare doesn’t have to be giving benefits to the poor with other people’s money.
President Obama, just happened to have a little press conference to give a statement on judicial nominees, and it just happened when the press was covering a hearing on the IRS’ targeting of conservative groups. Purely a coincidence, of course.
Filed under: Foreign Policy, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Middle East, National Security, The United States | Tags: Middle East History, The Middle East, U.S. Foreign Policy
Secretary of State John Kerry spoke at the 2013 World Economic Forum on the Middle East and North Africa held in Jordan. He unveiled a plan to boost the Palestinian economy. The plan is based on $4 Billion in new funding and seems to carry the endorsement of many foreign leaders. The idea is that we can buy peace in the Middle East. Good Luck with that.
The idea is to mobilize some $4 billion of investment. A team of experts — private citizens, donating their time — are analyzing the opportunities in tourism construction,m light manufacturing, building materials, energy, agriculture, and information and communications technology. The group will make recommendations to the Palestinians. They’re not going to decide anything. The Palestinians will decide that in their normal course of governance, But they will analyze and make recommendations on a set of choices that can dramatically lift the economy.
Former Prime Minister Tony Blair and the folks working with him believe that we can lift the Palestinian GDP by as much as 50 percent over three years. They foresee enough new jobs to cut unemployment by nearly two-thirds — to 8% down from 21% today and increase the median annual wage by as much as 40 %. Prime Minister Blair has always been an optimist. But the Obama administration is determined that the “Peace Process” will work. Obama does not change his mind.
“Secretary of State John Kerry says that it’s now or never for Israelis and Palestinians to reach agreement on a two-state solution. Interestingly, neither Israeli nor Palestinian officials have any idea what Kerry is talking about.” That’s Lee Smith writing at Tablet magazine. A few recent headlines while we were paying attention to other things:
“Assad on the March” Wall Street Journal
“Count Me Out on Syria” Victor Davis Hanson
John Kerry, as the Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, was the man known to have Bashar Assad on his speed dial. Perhaps he’s been doing some re-thinking since Assad has used nerve gas on his people, and turned into a monster. You probably won’t want to read all of those links, but the headlines give you a sense of the state of things.
Here’s another: “Obama’s Iraq Surrender,” Front Page Magazine, May 31.
But a far bigger part of the picture is the accelerating destabilization of Iraq. The breakdown of Iraq, with its far-reaching regional ramifications, is attributable in no small part to President Obama’s abandonment of the U.S.’s mission in the country, a betrayal committed in total defiance of the military establishment’s recommendations, which squandered the hard-won victory handed down by President Bush. As predicted, our precipitous withdrawal has left the once pacified nation riven with sectarian strife, primarily among Sunni and Shia Muslims and the Kurds. As the region descends, the consequences of Obama’s folly are only becoming more obvious: a nation that once stood a chance at being a source of stability in the region is instead rapidly becoming its maelstrom.
Whether or not you agree with that paragraph, the article continues with a clear description of the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire in 1916, and the secret agreement between Sir Mark Sykes of Britain and George Picot of France, with Russia’s approval to create Middle East spheres of influence for France and Great Britain following their victory in WWI. The borders created to satisfy European sensibilities largely ignored the realities of historic ethnic, tribal and sectarian divisions which were exacerbated by the rise of dictators, tyrants and Arab monarchs who maintained power after the French and British withdrew in the middle of the last century.
It’s a good summary of the background of the Middle East, and useful for those of us who struggle to understand what’s going on, the actions of our own government, and what we think about it.