Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) and Rand Paul (R-Ky.) Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.), John Boozman (R-Ark.), and Susan Collins (R-Maine).
While senators such as Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) have vehemently opposed the Obama administration’s rapprochement and concessions toward Cuba, some Republicans have banded together to let President Obama know that they have an eye on lifting the decades-old embargo.
Sens. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) and Rand Paul (R-Ky.) — incidentally, the two Senate Republicans likely to vote against the Menendez-Kirk sanctions legislation on Iran — told Obama in a letter that they “have sought reforms to restrictions on travel by U.S. citizens to Cuba and the removal of hurdles that hamstring trade.”
“Given the statutory nature of restrictions on activities related to Cuba, real and permanent change to U.S.-Cuba policy will be achieved through successful legislative initiatives,” they wrote.
Like a few million other Israelis, the first thing I checked on Thursday morning was whether we were at war.
We’re not—for now. Israeli forces did not act against Hizballah or Syrian targets overnight—even though, on Wednesday, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu had said: “Those behind today’s attack will pay the full price.”
Wednesday’s attack involved Hizballah’s firing from Syria of antitank missiles at two Israeli military vehicles in the Galilee, and of mortars at the Mt. Hermon ski site on the Israeli Golan Heights. Two soldiers in the vehicles were killed and seven were lightly wounded. All civilian visitors had to be evacuated from the Mt. Hermon site, where there were no casualties.
Hizballah’s attack came in retaliation for an Israel missile strike on January 18 against two vehicles of the Iran-Syria-Hizballah axis on the Syrian part of the Golan Heights. Along with others, that attack killed two major Hizballah commanders along with an Iranian general who was advising the Syrian army.
Another case of typical, tit-for-tat, cross-border violence between Israel and its foes? The U.S. State Department related to it that way , with spokeswoman Jen Psaki saying: “We support Israel’s legitimate right to self-defense” and adding: “We urge all parties to refrain from any action that could escalate the situation.”
Actually, though, there is much more here than might meet the eye in a superficial glance.
The especially urgent problems now associated with a steadily nuclearizing Iran should not have to be addressed by Israel on a case-by-case or ad hoc basis.
Oddly, perhaps, especially at a time of expanding existential peril, Israel has yet to make any substantive policy disclosures about its nuclear deterrent. To be sure, two former prime ministers, during their respective governing tenures, exhibited substantial “slips of the tongue” on this sensitive issue. Nonetheless, no purposefully explicit or meaningfully nuanced strategic details were ever disclosed by Premiers Shimon Peres or Ehud Olmert. Always, the bomb remained deliberately vague and obscure, still carefully well-hidden in the country’s metaphoric “basement.”
Even today, with an apt regard for specific Israeli policies, key components, and operational details, everything nuclear is shrouded in “deliberate ambiguity.” For Jerusalem, everything nuclear continues to be “opaque.” This is policy.
But is this policy smart?
The Kaiser and Hitler each invaded Belgium, neither quite managing to make a permanent success of the enterprise. Muslim fundamentalist Abu Imran makes no bones that his strategy is better: father lots of Muslim babies and breed the mussel-eating kufar into submission
Visit Brussels and make like a tourist. You know, check out the Museum of Musical Instruments, visit the palaces, admire the ornate Grand Place, then finish the day with a bowl of steaming mussels, the national dish, washed down with a draft or two of that splendid Belgian beer.
If that agenda figures in your plans for the next holiday jaunt, better hurry because, in the not too distant future, Abu Imran and his Islamist followers intend to make sure that menu choices, not to mention traditional Western freedoms, are considerably reduced. Alcohol and shellfish? Not when Sharia kicks in, and Imran reckons that will happen just a few short years down the road, given that Muslims now constitute one-in-four of the capital’s residents.
“It’s just a matter of time,” says a supremely confident Imran in the clip below.
Anyone can be a prophet of doom: Pick a spot on the globe, any spot, and state with oracular authority that it will suffer most from runaway climate change. Tim Flannery fancied Perth, for example, which has yet to become his predicted ghost town, but he has plenty of company in the dunce’s corner.
Why can’t the global-warming catastrophe industry convince the public that the scare underwriting its meal ticket is real? Even the CSIRO’s annual survey last year showed that 53% of Australians reject the official story. And even on the CSIRO’s figures, Aussies rank climate fourteenth out of sixteen concerns overall, and we rate it only seventh out of eight even among environmental concerns. In Britain, more of the same, with a new survey showing those who describe themselves “very concerned” about climate change falling to 18%, down from 44% in 2005.
Partly to blame is that dratted 18-year halt to global warming, even as man-made CO2 continues to pour into the skies. But my theory is that the global warming industry has made itself so ridiculous over the past 30 years, so hyperventilatingly ludicrous, by predicting ever-more-dire catastrophes by the year 20XX. But then year 20XX comes and goes and life continues as normal.
My first encounter with Charles Blow was back in 2010 at a huge Dallas Tea Party rally.
He came to Dallas with a headline in mind: “Everybody at the tea party is racist”. He was on a mission, a mission to tell the world that this spontaneous movement of Americans concerned about their kids’ future was nothing more than another expression of racism.
Then he wrote one of the most outrageous columns in recent memory:
“I had specifically come to this rally because it was supposed to be especially diverse.
And, on the stage at least, it was.
The speakers included a black doctor who bashed Democrats for crying racism, a Hispanic immigrant who said that she had never received a single government entitlement and a Vietnamese immigrant who said that the Tea Party leader was God.
It felt like a bizarre spoof of a 1980s Benetton ad.”
Last week, pro-Palestinian protestors disrupted a New York City Council meeting yelling slogans and brandishing a Palestinian flag. The demonstration was particularly offensive given that it occurred as council members were voting on a resolution commemorating the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz.
In an impassioned response, Councilman David Greenfield observed that every Middle East country — except Israel — is not democratic and persecutes people of other faiths, gays, women, and those with opinions inconsistent with those of their governments. He concluded, “What you saw here today was naked, blind anti-Semitism.”
Greenfield’s point is critical. Those who attack and demonize Israel for its imperfections in the face of the atrocities committed by its Arab neighbors are not just hypocrites. There is only one explanation for their irrational condemnations: hatred of Jews. And there is no difference between protests by pro-Palestinians and protests that regularly emanate from the White House.
King Salman’s Shady History By David Andrew Weinberg
President Obama wants to work with the leader of the House of Saud. But the new king of Saudi Arabia has troubling ties to radical Islamists.
President Barack Obama arrived in Riyadh today to offer his condolences on the death of the beloved Saudi King Abdullah and to meet his successor, Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud. But just who is King Salman?
The U.S. ambassador in Riyadh, Joseph Westphal, hailed the new Saudi ruler on Friday, proclaiming that ties “will only be strengthened by the wisdom and courage that is the essence of King Salman.” This was not just standard boilerplate from serving U.S. officials: Former U.S. envoy to Saudi Arabia Robert Jordan described Salman as “a reformer … well prepared for the task at hand,” and the Washington Post is reporting that analysts consider Salman “a moderate in the mold of Abdullah,” the late king.
Yet Salman has an ongoing track record of patronizing hateful extremists that is now getting downplayed for political convenience. As former CIA official Bruce Riedel astutely pointed out, Salman was the regime’s lead fundraiser for mujahideen, or Islamic holy warriors, in Afghanistan in the 1980s, as well as for Bosnian Muslims during the Balkan struggles of the 1990s.
In essence, he served as Saudi Arabia’s financial point man for bolstering fundamentalist proxies in war zones abroad.
Bill Connor is a S.C.-based attorney and decorated U.S. Army Reserve infantry officer, Ranger (Airborne), an expert in counterinsurgency combat and a founding partner of National Defense Consultants, LLC. He is a former senior U.S. military advisor in Helmand Province, Afghanistan.
“As much as the left would like you to believe it, Chris Kyle was not a bloodthirsty warmonger; he was a noble warrior who fought to defend his fellow troops, watched over the lives of his brothers, and advanced the cause of (eventual) peace. This is where the true success of ‘American Sniper’ comes to light.”
– Pete Hyseth, CEO of Concerned Veterans of America and an Iraq combat veteran
With the record-shattering success of the Clint Eastwood-directed movie “American Sniper,” we are all experiencing the fault lines of American culture. The vast majority of Americans have praised the movie.
Having watched it with my son, I personally witnessed an entire theater of moviegoers do something amazing. At the end – during the final credits when most moviegoers usually leave (and while actual footage of Chris Kyle’s funeral procession played out on the big screen) – viewers sat in respectful silence. After the realism and emotion of combat, culminating with a family torn by war and then tragedy, nobody spoke as we exited the theater. It was inspiring.
Despite this outpouring of support for Kyle and those who fought in Iraq and Afghanistan, the “Left” in America reacted viciously. Far Left movie producer, Michael Moore, tweeted that snipers were “cowards.” Seth Rogan compared the movie to a Nazi sniper film clip. Howard Dean, and many others have made equally critical statements about the movie and/or Kyle.
Why are we experiencing such polar opposite reactions?
There was some serious irony when U.S. Secretary of Treasury Jack Lew gathered together with French President Francois Hollande and a Russian delegation led by Sergei Ivanov, Putin’s chief of staff, along with leaders from Germany and Austria to participate in the January 27 ceremony commemorating the liberation of Auschwitz in 1945 by Russian troops.
I suspect that an entire generation or two born after that year, 70 years ago, may have little or no knowledge of what Auschwitz was. It was a Nazi death camp located in Oswiecim, Poland. Its full name was Auschwitz-Birkenau and it is estimated that one million people, mostly Jews, were killed there.
I say “irony” because Auschwitz-Birkenau was part of a system of six Nazi death camps that included Belzac, Chelmo, Majdanek, Sobibor and Treblinka. Each camp was filled with the victims of a widespread anti-Semitism that had existed in Europe for two thousand years, so it was not difficult for the Germans to turn a blind eye or the French and others to provide assistance in rounding up their Jews.