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Putin’s Iran Threat is Good for Israel

Monday, March 24th, 2014

In a column analyzing Russia’s recent threat to rethink its position on Iran, Walter Russell Mead and his staff at The American Interest postulated, “Linking the Ukraine crisis with the Iran negotiation is an American nightmare; it might just be a Russian dream come true.” Mead is on to something; however, he stops short in his analysis. Russia’s threat could also be quite helpful to Israel.

Obama entered into the Iran negotiations in order to avoid a military confrontation, as well as to constrain the “true barrier” to peace in the region – Israel. His hope was to bide time, notwithstanding that Iran’s centrifuges would continue to spin, bringing its nuclear capability to the brink or to fruition.

If Iran does in fact go nuclear on Obama’s watch, so be it; he will proceed to sell containment to the American public for the little time left in his term. The carnival salesmen in the White House are quite talented at selling the American people a bill of goods – just look at ObamaCare. While Russia invades a European country and threatens all-out war, the administration spends $52 million of taxpayer funds in just three months on advertising this debacle. One can only imagine what they will spend to convince Americans that a nuclear Iran poses no threat to our national security.

Alas, since reality has yet to penetrate the White House bubble, Obama has likely never lost sleep thinking about Iran’s nuclear capabilities (his Baracketology, next vacation, and golf game, perhaps, but national security, not so much) – that is, until Vladimir Putin stepped into the picture.

Obama’s failure to realize that he is now unmasked as a fool on the world stage does not mean that the rest of the world’s leaders have not noticed. It is not a coincidence that just six months after Putin manipulated Obama out of bombing Syria despite its having crossed Obama’s disingenuous red line, Putin took to annexing Crimea from Ukraine. And Putin did so despite a U.S. promise to protect Ukraine. As one Ukranian parliamentarian stated, “[e]veryone believed that for good or bad the United States would be the world’s policeman. Now that function is being abandoned by President Obama, and because of that Russia invaded Crimea.”

So Mead is correct that linking Ukraine with Iran is good policy for Russia while thrusting Obama into a nightmarish situation. It will cause Obama to quake in his mom-jeans and further diminish American power. Obama has already stated that he will not act militarily in response to the Ukrainian situation. What are his choices if Russia acts on its threat and allies with Iran? Cancel Putin’s Netflix account?

But linking Ukraine and Iran just might be an Israeli dream come true as well. Mead stated, “The Obama strategy has always been a risky one; if Russia shifts into active cooperation with Iran, it is hard to see how the White House can keep hope alive.” True enough.

But if Russia moves into Iran’s camp, Israel has the perfect excuse to move ahead with a military strike on Iran’s nuclear installations and will likely have the support of the entire Western world (in addition to America’s Mideast allies like Saudi Arabia), all of which will be relieved that at least someone is standing up to the bad guys.

Middle East and foreign policy experts have vacillated for years analyzing Israel’s capability to conduct a successful unilateral military strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities, guessing when it might proceed, and wondering whether the United States is holding Israel back from doing so. Some ask why U.S. support is a necessary prerequisite to an Israeli strike that is in Israel’s own national security interests. One need only look at a map of the region and the fact that the country, the size of the state of New Jersey and only nine miles wide at its narrowest point, is surrounded by 21 Arab nations, the vast majority of whom are adversaries, to understand Israel’s need for supportive friends.

US Jewish Groups Work to Sign People Up for Health Care

Wednesday, February 19th, 2014

American Jewish organizations are going to bat for ObamaCare and are using social media to reach as many people as possible in an effort to convince them to sign up for health care under the Affordable Care Act.

During Tuesday’s Jewish Community Day led by the left-leaning National Council of Jewish Women, or NCJW, Jewish activists reached out to as many people as possible to educate them about the health insurance marketplace.

“Access to affordable and comprehensive healthcare is fundamental for living a long and healthy life, which is why NCJW worked for the passage of the Affordable Care Act and has been focused on its full implementation ever since,” said Nancy Kaufman, CEO of the National Council of Jewish Women

“Our goal for community education is non-partisan and apolitical. Our aim is to make sure that as many people as possible have the opportunity to enroll in affordable healthcare that best suits their individual needs and budget ahead of March 31,” said Kaufman. “I am encouraged by the array of participants in this Day of Action, spanning local and national groups across the country.”

Those participating in the action day were encouraged to host a special Shabbat centered on health care, hold a text study, write about the issue in their newsletters and speak to individuals in an effort to encourage more people to enroll.

Other participating groups included the Religion Action Center for Reform Judaism, the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, the Rabbinical Assembly, Keshet, the Jewish Labor Committee and Uri L’Tzedek.

House Approves ‘Keep Your Plan’ Obamacare Fix, Dems Defect

Friday, November 15th, 2013

On Friday, Nov. 16, the U.S. House of Representatives voted to approve what has been nicknamed the “Keep Your Health Plan Act” in a 261-157 vote.  Four Republicans voted against it, but 39 Democrats voted for it. The bill was sponsored by Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.).

Many of the Democrats who crossed the aisle and voted for the bill face tough re-election challenges next year.

The bill allows insurance companies to offer health plans that were cancelled for not meeting new requirements under ObamaCare.

Millions of Americans received cancellation letters over the past month, despite the administration’s repeated promises that “if you like your plan, you can keep it.” Under the House-approved bill, consumers opting to keep their existing plans wouldn’t face any penalties enforced by Obamacare. Insurers would then be allowed to sell their minimal plans to new customers.

The passage of this bill, which President Obama said he would veto, marked the end of a bad week for the president.

On Thursday, the president apologized to the nation both for the badly managed rollout of the Affordable Care Act and for having pledged to Americans that if they preferred the health plans they had over the plans offered under the new Act, they could keep them.

Upton accused Obama of knowing that his signature law would force millions of people out of plans they liked. He said during the House debate that Obama’s promise that “if you like your healthcare plan, you can keep it” would go down in history as a line forever associated with Obama.

In turn, Democrats faithful to the president argued that the legislation passed on Friday would undermine the entire national health care plan.

That prompted Democrats to argue that Upton’s bill would drastically undermine ObamaCare, since it would let people keep what they say are substandard plans, and let them avoid buying new plans under the ObamaCare exchanges.

“This one on the floor today really takes the cake, because it [would], essentially, pull the plug on the Affordable Care Act,” said Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.).

House Energy & Commerce Committee ranking member Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) said this would allow a “shadow market” of old plans to undermine ObamaCare plans.

But Republicans said that the term “shadow market” just means a market that sells more affordable plans that people want.

“It’s forcing people to choose healthcare they do not want, cannot afford, and isn’t right for themselves and their families,” said House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.).

The legislation approved by the House is expected to face tough opposition in the Senate.

Obama Asking Jewish Guy to Fix Troubled Obamacare Website

Wednesday, October 23rd, 2013

It’s been pretty embarrassing for everyone that President Obama’s health care website is still plagued by so many technical problems, only 1 out of 10 users get to do anything with it, and it takes them, on average, 6 to 7 hours, including tech support phone calls. Of course, the fact that the program is now forever named after the president—no matter how many times the folks at MSNBC say otherwise—it’s Obamacare, and it’s abysmal.

www.healthcare.gov

www.healthcare.gov

So, who’s Obama calling for help? His Mr. Fix-it Jewish guy, his OMB Director Jeffrey Zients.

The multimillionaire Zients, who was ranked 25 on Fortune magazine’s list of the 40 richest Americans under age 40 in 2002, has a reputation for being able to fix anything. When the federal program that was handing out cash rebates to Americans trading in their clunkers for new, fuel-efficient vehicles was overrun by demand, Obama assigned Jeffrey Zients, who used his pixie dust to eliminate the backlog.

Zients managed a similar fix with a program that was designed to offer college education to veterans, but was crashing under the pressure.

Come to think of it, why is the Obama Administration so terrible with computers? Wasn’t the Obama campaign the most extensive and outreaching online fundraising marvel in human history? What happened to those wizards?

Debbie Zients, his mom, was interviewed by USA Today while having a corned beef sandwich at Eli’s kosher deli in Washington, D.C. Jeffrey Zients, a native of Kensington, Maryland, his wife Mary and their four children Sasha, Matt, Josh and Jonny, daven at the Washington Hebrew Congregation. They’re Reform, nebech. But Jeffrey can fix the shameful Obamacare interface, which is all that counts right now.

His parents are divorced. His father, Alan, is a psychoanalyst in Manhattan. His mother, Debbie, volunteers with the non-profit Women for Women.

Zients will provide short-term advice, assessments and recommendations to the Department of Health and Human Services team that officials say has been working around the clock to fix www.healthcare.gov since it went live Oct. 1.

Debbie Zients told USA Today her son isn’t a computer expert, “unless it’s a new talent,” but she believes his talent will be in managing the army of tech experts in and outside the government who are trying to fix the site.

And you’re saying The Jewish Press online is slow…

How I Stopped Fearing the Tea Party Apocalypse and Started to Love It

Sunday, October 13th, 2013

The most memorable early executive act on the part of the newly elected President Barack Obama, for whom I voted in 2008, was to embrace his predecessor’s economic stimulus package, push it up to $800 billion and give it to all the many speculators and fat cats who had caused the collapse in the first place.

As far as I was concerned, this was an act of class betrayal of an enormous magnitude. The White House and the loyal media bombarded us with the notion that if we dared permit sick, corrupt financial institutions to meet their natural demise it would mean the end of civilization. They were—so we were told—just too big to fail. Millions of Americans could go underwater with their properties – that we weren’t afraid of, but if AG stock holders were left at the end of the day with what amounted to so much useless paper – that would have been catastrophic.

What Obama should have done back then, which would have surely brought us over the hump in a couple of years—instead of schlepping a delusional recovery for the better part of a decade—was to hand out trillions of dollars to local municipalities, so they would in turn give them to their citizens for make-work. Dig ditches, mow lawns, fix bridges, write poetry, I don’t care. It wasn’t about the end product – it was about getting money into people’s hands so the economy would be resurrected not on Wall Street, but in the thousands of towns and hamlets across America. Because when you give a poor man a paycheck, he goes right away and pays for food, clothing, rent. It’s the best distribution system known to man. If it took ten trillion dollars – what the heck, print ten trillion dollars and send them out to fix the country.

You would be worried about inflation, you’re saying? Well, since the dollar has been taken off the gold standard in 1971, inflation is caused by one, singular factor: what it costs banks to buy money from the Fed, the U.S. central bank. If they pay half a percent or so in interest—as they’ve been doing for decades now—then there’s no inflation. The only other possibility for an inflation is if there’s a shortage of goods, and then too many dollars are chasing too few goods and the prices soar. Look around you – we’re in a merchandizing glut, despite all the economic catastrophes and the poverty line and the single mothers – there are still way too many iPhones out there for each American.

But you don’t have to agree with me on any of the above to understand the following: If, back then, in early 2009, when President Obama was pushing his stimulus package in all the wrong directions, a group of 80 Democrats had stood up on their hind legs and said, Hell, No, We Won’t Go, I and all my Democratic friends would have rushed to the streets to cheer them on.

That’s the part I find hard to accept – why is it that when 80 right-wing parliamentarians are standing on their hind legs and telling their leadership and their president to go to hell, they won’t sign on to what they consider to be a wrong budget policy – why are they being attacked as messianic crazies, just this side of the loony bin?

Former Labor Secretary in the Clinton Administration Robert Reich, whom I happen to like very much, had this to say to Spiegel about the Tea Party Congress members: “Some of them really have contempt for the entire process of government. They’re followers of people who say that we ought to shrink government down to the size that it can drown in a bathtub. They hate government viscerally. They’re not in Washington to govern; they’re in Washington to tear it down.”

I’m not telling you anything you haven’t seen and read over the past month or so, and as the looming date of the “default” grows nearer, those character assassinations will only get nastier. And the polls are showing that America is buying it, and seems to be blaming the Republican party for our economic mess. And since our politicians live and die by the polls, it’s quite possible they’ll find a way out of this crisis, maybe for 6 weeks, maybe for 2 months, who knows.

Obama Administration: Shutdown Will Affect Israel Military Aid

Friday, October 4th, 2013

The Obama administration underscored potential cuts in defense assistance to Israel in making its case against the federal government shutdown.

“In the absence of a continuing resolution, we have no FY14 Foreign Military Financing, International Military Education or Peacekeeping Operations funds to obligate,” Marie Harf, a State Department spokeswoman, said Wednesday in prepared remarks about how the failure to keep the government funded through a stopgap funding bill, or “continuing resolution,” was affecting foreign policy.

“So for example – I’ll just give you one example – FY 2014 security assistance funding for Israel will be delayed until a continuing resolution or until full-year appropriation is passed,” Harf said. “The State Department’s ability to provide military assistance to Israel and other allies in the time frame that is expected and customary could be hindered depending on the length of the shutdown.”

Demands by the majority Republican caucus in the U.S. House of Representatives to defund or delay President Obama’s signature health care legislation, known as Obamacare, helped lead to this week’s shutdown.

Why Ted Cruz Speaks for Me

Wednesday, September 25th, 2013

Ted Cruz and his allies get it.  They get that Americans can’t afford to have Obamacare implemented against our groaning, near-collapse finances.  They get that we are disgusted (and alarmed) at the idea of being the GOP’s economic attrition strategy for the 2014 election: the strategy that says, “Let things get as bad as they’re going to with Obamacare, and then people will finally blame the Democrats.”  The problem with that strategy is that someone has to pay the price for it – has to accept the financial losses, which for many people could be disastrous, even permanently life-changing – and that someone is us.

Cruz – and Mike Lee in the Senate, along with Matt Salmon (AZ) and others in the House – show that they get what the stakes are, by being willing to take a big risk on a deliberate strategy.  They’re making an attempt they could actually be defeated in:  to galvanize the rest of the GOP and get it to take a risk.

Contrast that with the bet-hedging and consultation-begging we see from the GOP leadership.  Here’s where my confession of populism comes in:  I don’t recall ever having such a sense of revulsion against the air of protecting privileged insularity that hangs over Beltway insiders, both politicians and pundits.  As we understand it, GOP leaders sent unsolicited “opposition research” to Fox News on Sunday, in order to undermine Cruz in his appearance with Chris Wallace.  Karl Rove excoriated Cruz on the Sunday show for failing to properly “consult” with his colleagues.  Tucker Carlson, Charles Krauthammer, and even Brit Hume took up the cry on Monday’s Special Report, accusing Cruz of grandstanding, and personalizing their criticisms of him to a startlingly petty degree.

Meanwhile, as the GOP impugns Ted Cruz’s motives with slam-book-quality allegations, it quietly accepts Obamacare exemptions and special subsidies for Congress.  The whole scenario seems like Mr. Smith Goes to Washington come to life.  All that’s missing is misleading photos of Cruz making bird calls.

But the truth is, this isn’t Mr. Smith Goes to Washington – because the plot of Mr. Smith turned on a relatively small matter, one that might have had symbolism for the operation of the whole government, but that in a literal sense affected only a small number of citizens.  The implementation of Obamacare is the biggest issue America has dealt with since how to get rid of the atrocious institution of slavery, and what “union” and “states’ rights” mean.  It profoundly affects everyone who will ever be an American from this day forward.  Issues don’t come any bigger.   Obamacare is about government’s relation to the citizen; about what government can dictate and control in our lives; and about what our economic liberties will mean, not in a decade, not a year from now, but tomorrow — and for the rest of our life as a nation.

From where I sit, it looks like Ted Cruz gets that.  He gets that we can’t just sit still, paralyzed by bad press and Democratic talking points, and let these questions be decided through the back door by the implementation of brain-deadening regulations.  He gets that that’s what’s happening.  He recognizes that a time comes when risk must be taken: when it just isn’t good enough for the well-worn remedies of consultation and deferral to produce the same unsatisfactory outcomes that they always do.  This time, the cost of taking that risk-averse route is too high.

Cruz did what he had to do on Fox on Sunday, remaining on message with admirable rhetorical discipline.  What he said was an accurate and succinct representation of the alternative he and his allies are offering:  fund the government without Obamacare in fiscal year 2014, as the alternative to funding it with Obamacare.  Delay implementation of the individual mandate, if that’s the best deal we can get, but go for the most we can get while still funding the government.  Don’t shut it down.  I found him to be effective in getting his point across.

But the old-school GOP leaders won’t get onboard with that message, apparently preferring to emphasize that they haven’t been consulted with.  They might as well just concede the terms of the fight to the Democrats and have done with it.

There are an awful lot of Americans out here who don’t know when the next shoe is going to drop, as the predator in the dark stalks their jobs, insurance, and finances.  Despising these people and their worries about Obamacare and the trend of big government – in the manner of Harry Reid – is as much bad karma as it is bad politics.  Yet senior Republicans seem to join Reid in being annoyed with the people for not wanting to play the role of the sacrifice in an electoral-politics ritual.

Instead of deferring an Obamacare fight to a future point we can’t guarantee we’ll even reach – i.e., after a Senate victory in 2014 – Cruz and his allies propose to fight today, on ground we can at least define clearly and prepare for in the present.  Are they right?  There are arguments pro and con.  But I don’t hear GOP leaders making any of those arguments in a forthright or convincing manner – or in any other way, for that matter.

One thing we can guarantee: we, Republican leaders and voters, won’t come to a unified position on that by refusing to address the question on the terms proposed by Cruz and his allies.  Cruz is trying to force the issue, which accords it the weight and immediacy that I give it.  He’s carrying my water.  If GOP leaders want to lead, they need to get out in front of this issue.  Go in strong with Cruz to make the strategy theirs – give the people something to applaud or reject – instead of merely sniping from the shadows.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/analysis/j-e-dyer/why-ted-cruz-speaks-for-me/2013/09/25/

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