On Sunday, Wall Street Journal editor and columnist Bret Stephens did what too many need to do: own up to the mistake of supporting the Disengagement Plan.
At the time, Stephens was editor-in-chief of the Jerusalem Post.
In his WSJ column Stephens wrote that on each of the points he argued regarding the Disengagement plan he turned out to be wrong. He writes:
My error was to confuse a good argument with good policy; to suppose that mere self-justification is a form of strategic prudence. It isn’t. Israel is obviously within its rights to defend itself now against a swarm of rockets and mortars from Gaza. But if it had maintained a military presence in the Strip, it would not now be living under this massive barrage.
Or, to put it another way: The diplomatic and public-relations benefit Israel derives from being able to defend itself from across a “border” and without having to get into an argument about settlements isn’t worth the price Israelis have had to pay in lives and terror.
Put simply, Israel’s withdrawal from Gaza yielded less security, greater diplomatic isolation, and a Palestinian regime even more radical and emboldened than it had been before. As strategic failures go, it was nearly perfect.
He also makes a recommendation about not accepting a ceasefire, citing Netanyahu’s analysis as opposition leader during Operation Cast Lead, but I don’t want to spoil the article, so check it out yourself.
It turns out that soon after taking office, President Obama tried to make friends – totally – with the mullahs’ regime in Iran.
The aim was to start with the opening of interest sections in Washington and Tehran, then progress to “full diplomatic ties, including U.S. and Iranian embassies and ambassadors in each other’s capitals, security cooperation…, [and] direct flights between the U.S. and Iran….”
All this amity, it was presumed, would get Iran to give up its nuclear program.
So, at least, reports the Israeli daily Maariv, basing itself on “two Western diplomats very close to the administration.”
Maariv says that, beginning in the summer of 2009, there were at least two U.S.-Iranian diplomatic meetings in this context. The second was between Deputy Secretary of State William Burns and chief Iranian nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili in Geneva in October 2009, on the sidelines of nuclear talks between Tehran and the P5+1 countries.
But Tehran, as they say, wasn’t into it. An Israeli source told Maariv that the regime “opposed any sign of normalization with the U.S., and refused to grant a ‘prize’ to the Americans.”
On Obama’s part, all this would have been in the spirit of his holiday video greeting to Iran in March 2009—and, more generally, his wooing of the Islamic world and all but apologizing for America’s supposed sins, most notably in his June 2009 Cairo speech.
In the mullahs’ case, Obama’s belief that he could talk them into friendship is particularly striking. U.S.-Iranian relations took something of a hit when the newly installed Ayatollah Khomeini regime seized 52 American diplomats as hostages at the U.S. embassy in Tehran in 1979, holding them for 444 days. Last week the Wall Street Journal’s Bret Stephens listed some additional “American victims of Iranian aggression” since that time:
The 17 Americans killed in April 1983 at the U.S. Embassy in Beirut by the Iranian-backed Islamic Jihad Organization, later known as Hezbollah. The 241 U.S. servicemen killed by Islamic Jihad at the Marine barracks in Beirut on Oct. 23, 1983. Master Chief Robert Dean Stethem, beaten to death in June 1985 by a Hezbollah terrorist in Beirut aboard TWA flight 847. William Francis Buckley, the CIA station chief in Beirut, tortured to death by Hezbollah that same month. Marine Col. William Higgins, taken hostage in 1988 while serving with U.N. peacekeepers in Lebanon and hanged by Hezbollah sometime later. The 19 U.S. Air Force personnel killed in June 1996 in the Khobar Towers bombing, for which several members of Saudi Hezbollah were indicted in U.S. federal court.
And then there are the thousands of U.S. troops killed by improvised explosive devices in Iraq and Afghanistan. The most lethal IEDs were manufactured in Iran for the purpose of killing Americans.
Obama’s belief that America was at fault in having wronged and angered Iran must have been very strong to regard this record as something that could have been overcome between friends – to the extent that he was familiar with it.
The trouble is that, three years later, there are signs that Obama is still unable to grasp the fact that the Iranian regime is implacably hostile to America. It was last March, just as Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu was in Washington warning that Iran was closing in on the bomb, that Obama chose to renew diplomatic talks with Iran – talks that, as acknowledged by all, have been an empty sham that has merely bought Tehran time just as Israel had warned.
True, Obama – under heavy pressure from Congress – finally, along with other Western countries, imposed sanctions on Iran that are taking a real toll. Just two weeks ago, though, a report by the Congressional Research Service acknowledged a “consensus” that these have in no way slowed Iran’s march toward nukes.
And it was just last week that The New York Times reported that the U.S. and Iran had agreed to still more nuclear talks after November 6. The White House denied the specifics of the report – but, incorrigibly convinced of Tehran’s potential amicability, said it remained ready, as ever, to meet with the mullahs and hash out the differences.
In other words, there are worrisome indications that when it comes to Iran’s Islamist regime, the U.S. chief executive remains dangerously delusional.
Investors in the paper may already be doing so. The last time they received a dividend was in late 2008.
The NYT, considered by many to be the global paper of record, has incurred more than $300 million in net losses since 2005, and its advertising revenues have been declining for five consecutive years.
In fact, the paper’s own financial report made headlines when its third quarter revenues were so much worse than expected that the value of its shares plummeted 22 percent, its biggest one-day drop in at least thirty years. Investors were warned to expect dismal news for the next quarter, as well.
But while the newspaper industry as a whole has been in a funk for years – with Internet news, blogs, and other ’round the clock news sources available—many for free—there are elements of the NYT‘s precarious financial position that make it unique.
The most significant is the stench of hypocrisy hovering over the differences in the way the NYT handles its executives versus its writers.
Remember how the New York Timeslionized the anti-capitalist Occupy Wall Street vigilantes? What a shock to learn about the barrels-full of money it has thrown at even departing bigwigs, while keeping its proletariat writers at stagnated pay levels, and, in the words of its own union leaders, trying repeatedly to “decimate their health plan.”
For nearly two years, the daily writers at the New York Times (whose union members are represented by the Newspaper Guild of New York), have been working without a contract. Those approximately 1100 workers have repeatedly been met with what they have described as “draconian” efforts to force not only pay cuts and alterations to their health and pension plans, but also forced, unpaid, increases in their work week.
In fact, less than two weeks ago, on Oct. 8, approximately 400 NYT reporters staged a brief walkout because the sides were so far apart and the writers felt increasingly under siege. In a video interview during that walkout, a member of the union talks about the paper’s hypocrisy. In a July editorial, the Timesattacked Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker for his anti-union activity, saying:
“Labor, so long in decline in the private sector, is also losing its clout in states and cities, unable to match or withstand the unfettered bank accounts of industry. The people who kept Mr. Walker and his policies in power are just getting started.”
And yet, the NYT writers have been stonewalled for nearly two years, with management doing its best during that time to wring out still more concessions from them.
At the same time that the Times has been refusing to increase salaries or benefits by even a minimal amount, it has been throwing multiple millions of dollars at its top executives, past and future, this year alone.
Arthur Ochs Sulzberger, Jr. is the great-grandson of the founder and owner of the New York Times Co. He is the Chairman of the board of the NYT and its publisher. Sulzberger appointed Janet Robinson CEO of the paper in 2004. Robinson had spent nearly twenty years rising through the ranks on the business side of the paper, and was long viewed as a quiet complement to her boss.
Although the NYT is publicly traded on the New York Stock Exchange, it is, essentially, a family-owned business, and in addition to rapidly declining corporate financial health, alleged competition from family members in executive positions led to Robinson’s abrupt ouster in December, 2011.
And while the NYT allowed the door to hit her backside on her way out, the bundle of dough they threw after Robinson must have made for a somewhat softer landing. Her severance package amounted to nearly $24 million — more than the company earned in the previous four years.
But that’s not all the paper has given away to bigwigs in the last year. The new CEO, Mark Thompson, is about to slide into place in early November, with his path greased by a total pay package of $10.5 million. That package includes a signing bonus worth as much as $4.5 million.
Thompson’s new annual salary is an increase from what he made at his last position, as the director general of the British Broadcasting Corp. His role in that position was to cut jobs and save money through office and plant consolidation. That reputation isn’t likely to make him a hit with staff writers.
The NYT announced this week, just days before Thompson is set to come on board, that it has reached a tentative agreement with the Newspaper Guild. Nothing, it has been repeatedly stressed, is yet set in stone, let alone laid out on paper, concerning this agreement. Nevertheless, the Guild’s president Bill O’Meara, wrote that “the agreement preserves the workers’ pensions, protects medical benefits and boosts compensation.”
Interesting that an agreement — no matter how tentative — would have been entered into before the new CEO arrives. Given Thompson’s past experience, it is hard to imagine he was hired to do more than continue his practice of slashing costs. The union probably should have gotten the terms in writing before agreeing to allow the issuance of a press release announcing the deal.
So Robinson and Thompson get millions of dollars. Robinson was paid to get out, while Thompson will be paid to make the lowly writers miserable enough to get out.
And this, from an October, 2011 NYT editorial rhapsodizing over the Occupy Wall Street mission:
Income gains at the top would not be as worrisome as they are if the middle class and the poor were also gaining. But working-age households saw their real income decline in the first decade of this century. The recession and its aftermath have only accelerated the decline.
Research shows that such extreme inequality correlates to a host of ills, including lower levels of educational attainment, poorer health and less public investment. It also skews political power, because policy almost invariably reflects the views of upper-income Americans versus those of lower-income Americans.
Tell that to the union. And perhaps the members will say kaddish.
Federal prosecutors and pro-Israel Republican stalwart Sheldon Adelson’s casino company Las Vegas Sands Corp. may have come to an understanding on issues pertaining to money-laundering laws allegedly violated in the cases of two criminal high-rollers, the Wall Street Journal reports.
Lawyers for the Sands and federal prosecutors met on Thursday after the Sands failed to obtain a dismissal. Prosecutors threatened to charge the Sands and a company executive with conspiracy to commit money laundering.
Now, the prosecution may indeed drop the case, with the Sands paying a fine and updating regulations on handling customer money.
Sands representatives stated that the casino was cooperating with federal investigations and denied any wrongdoing.
Las Vegas Sands was investigated when it allegedly failed to report a potentially suspicious financial transaction by two wealthy gamblers to the federal government. The two apparently worked millions of dollars in “dirty” money through the accounts of the casino operator. The cases hinge on whether it was possible for executives of the Sands to know that the money could have come from illegal activities, and whether they should have had reasonable enough suspicion to alert law enforcement.
One, Zhenli Ye Gon, a Chinese citizen with a Mexican pharmaceutical factory, was charged in 2007 with manufacturing a component of methamphetamine, during which time evidence showed he had spent over $100 million at Las Vegas casinos. Charges against him were later dropped by federal prosecutors. But the case raised concerns over whether the Sands failed to report deposits made by a suspicious person.
For their part, the Sands said it performed due diligence measures to ensure the cleanliness of the money, even hiring a private investigator to determine whether Ye Gon was legitimate.
The second case, of former Fry’s Electronics executive and admitted 2009 kickback schemer Ausaf Umar Siddiqui, who made major transactions at the Sands despite an apparent history of being unable to pay gambling debts.
The Sands is also being investigated regarding alleged bribes paid overseas. The company has maintained its innocence.
Adelson, owner of the Sands, is also the owner of the Israel HaYom newspaper, has contributed over $100 million to the Birthright Israel project to connect Jewish youth to their roots through his family foundation, and is married to an Israeli physician, Miriam Ochsorn.
Building U.S.-Canada relations is more urgent than ever, both economically and in foreign affairs. If America intends to keep its advantage as a superpower, it will greatly help to ally with its neighbor, Canada. While Canada has depended upon the U.S. historically as the stronger military might, it has, under a Conservative Government, demonstrated global leadership in economic policy and foreign affairs. Given the rise of economic superpowers such as China and India, and the challenges from our enemies, such as Islamists, a strong foreign policy and a functional economy are key.
Under its current policies, the U.S. faces the threat of becoming a lesser nation, starving its golden goose, pro-growth investment policies; governed by unsustainable socialist domestic ideologies like Europe (and California domestically); inviting aggression by hollowing out its defense with often irreversible deep cuts to military spending.
In the meantime, China, a potential adversary, surges ahead with its plans to control space, the presumed next theater of war; while the U.S. radiates a shaky, undefined foreign affairs mandate which sends the message to global adversaries that America is without a captain; and to Israel, not to count on America’s tradition of support.
Canada, by contrast, has demonstrated economic leadership and an unwavering support for Israel, the only democracy in the Middle East, which several countries in the Middle East outspokenly seek to destroy — as specified under the Charters of both the Palestinian Authority and Hamas, and as the Palestinian government-controlled media continues daily calls for its obliteration.
For most Americans, the economy takes precedence in the upcoming elections. Romney came out swinging in the first of three debates for the Presidency, which Gallup polls called the biggest debate victory in recorded history. According to Romney, America is faced with tax hikes — for both modest businesses as well as the wealthy — that would not only slow job creation, but cause partial lay-offs as employers cut back working hours to sidestep new tax requirements.
Then, however, came the realities of what Romney pointed out: that over the last four years, gas prices have doubled, food prices and health insurance costs have increased while median family income has continued to decline. Even though Obama continuously repeated that the economy he inherited was one of the worst since the Great Depression, Obama’s “recovery” according to Forbes, has ended up worse than the Bush recession that Obama’s election was supposed to reverse. It would have been hard to imagine the economy worsening even further, but in the face of the failed promises of “hope and change,” it did.
Americans, especially youth, cannot afford to gamble on the current brand of fiscal policy seen in the States: nearly 50% of college graduates over the last five years are either unemployed or underemployed, according to a study by Rutgers University.
As if to make a bad situation worse, President Obama then said of the “Occupy Movement,” “we are on their side.” Foremost among this disparate movement was early advocate David Graeber, an anarchist, anthropologist and proponent of communism. Occupy Wall Street spilled over into Canada, lugging along with it the same lack of order with no central message, except calls to nationalize the banks, “Free Palestine,” and hate the rich while wanting their money, an economic plan referred to in television clips by the U.S. President as a desirable “transfer of wealth.”
Souvenirs of “Occupy” stopovers consisted of waste and filth in respectable communities and in their camps, and even physical attacks. New York police alone had to spend over $5 million in overtime for work related to the “Occupy” protesters That was the movement whose side the President of the United States had declared he was on.
For weeks the story coming out of this administration, from all fronts, was that the assault on the US Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, on September 11, 2012, was the result of a demonstration by Libyans angered over a movie that insulted their prophet Mohammad, a raucous demonstration which got out of hand. Over time, different officials began to admit that while the source of the violence may have been terrorists, including even Al Qaeda or its affiliates, those terrorists took advantage of the anti-Innocence of Muslims film demonstrators.
In fact, there was no demonstration outside the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya on 9/11/12. There was no demonstration against the film that insulted Mohammad, or any other kind of demonstration. There was an assault on our country. And our government officials knew that, yet repeatedly attempted to spin it away from that conclusion.
Nearly a full month after the tragedy in Benghazi, senior State Department officials provided a briefing Tuesday evening, October 9, about the events that transpired in Libya on September 11, 2012. Congressman Darrell Issa (R-CA 49th District), chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, which held a previously-scheduled hearing on the security situation in Libya the next day, said of that briefing that finally, the “State Department began the process of coming clean on what occurred in Benghazi.”
What actually happened, 11 years to the day after the greatest assault on U.S. icons ever – our financial district, our military headquarters, and an effort to attack the very heart of our government which fell short, but still killed dozens of civilians on that third plane – was a carefully planned blow at the heart of the U.S. government in a Muslim country which this government helped save from a brutal dictator.
The official U.S. representative to Libya, the very symbol of our country, U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens, was murdered on 9/11/12 – we still do not know exactly how or when. Three other Americans were also murdered in Libya that day – their deaths were not accidental byproducts of a demonstration that spun out of control.
The State Department news conference made very clear it had never been the State Department’s position, I repeat, never been the State Department’s position that in fact this assault was part of a reaction to a video or the like. This has been corroborated by numerous witnesses and whistleblowers.
What’s more, Issa explained
Contrary to early assertions by the administration, let’s understand, there was no protest, and cameras reveal that, and the State Department and the FBI have that video.
And speaking of that video, the one in California, made by an individual , also clearly had no direct effect on this attack. In fact, it was September 11th, the anniversary of the greatest terrorist attack in U.S. history, it was that anniversary that caused an organization aligned with Al Qaeda to attack and kill our personnel.
And yet, week after week, this administration at its highest levels – our president, our secretary of state, our Ambassador to the United Nations, repeated the same excuse, blaming a cheap and poorly-made movie that dared to criticize Islam’s historic leader, for which we officially apologized, over and over again, when in fact it was cold hatred of this country that resulted in the four American deaths on that day.
Furthermore, according to Cong. Issa, while it is still far from clear whether additional security reinforcements which had been requested but denied by the State Department would have saved the lost American lives on this year’s September 11th, this administration “seemed preoccupied with the concept of normalization.” By that, the congressman explained, the administration was creating “artificial timelines,” to reduce the U.S. presence and replace them with local Libyans.
This is consistent with this administration’s efforts in regard to other hot spots around the globe, as we learned from Lara Logan, the CBS correspondent who was repeatedly physically and sexually brutalized by Egyptians in Tahrir Square last spring.
On October 2, Logan let loose in a speech to the Chicago’s Better Government Association’s annual luncheon, in which she accused the administration of downplaying the number of Al Qaeda operatives in Afghanistan in an effort to speed up its reduction in forces there. She also claimed Washington acts as apologists for the Taliban by downplaying their links to Al Qaeda and the strength of their organization.
Logan was clearly fed up by what she described as misinformation coming out of Washington over the past two years. She said she decided to finally speak out because, “I can’t stand that there is a major lie being propagated.” That lie, she explained, is that the American military has weakened the Taliban. The statements that there are different aspects of the Taliban, and that what we are now seeing in Afghanistan is “the poor moderate, gentler, kinder Taliban. … It’s such nonsense.”
White House spokesperson Jay Carney responded to questions raised by the State Department briefing and the Congressional Oversight hearing that “from the beginning, we have provided information based on the facts that we knew.”
While this has been the party line, it is difficult to square Carney’s statement with the testimony provided by Deputy Assistant Secretary of State, Bureau of Diplomatic Security, Charlene R. Lamb, at the Oversight hearing.
Lamb testified on Wednesday that on September 11, State Department officials immediately activated the Imminent Danger Notification System just after 9:40 p.m., which is when loud voices followed by gunfire and explosions were heard within the compound. She said that from that moment forward, she could follow the events as they occurred “almost in real time.” There was no demonstration, there was an attack on the U.S. Consulate. There were no facts upon which the statements blaming a video or a demonstration gone amok could have been based.
There appears to be a pattern emerging of efforts on the part of this administration to provide a false sense that tensions within global hot spots in the Islamic world are easing. Based on actual available evidence at least in Libya and, according to Logan in Afghanistan, the U.S. forces cannot leave those areas to competent, secure local forces. And it is not true that when there are outbursts of violence, the sources for that violence are insensitive assaults on the dignity of the local sensibilities, such as blaming westerners for daring to insult Islam’s prophet Mohammad.
Ironically, there are those in the Obama campaign who are currently engaged in an effort to represent Governor Romney as a liar.
As Daniel Henninger of the Wall Street Journalpointed out in today’s paper,
Speaking the day after the debate in the press cabin of Air Force One, top Obama adviser David Plouffe said, “We thought it was important to let people know that someone who would lie to 50 million Americans, you should have some questions about whether that person should sit in the Oval Office.”
The Democratic National Committee’s Brad Woodhouse said, “Plenty of people have pointed out what a liar Mitt Romney is.” Deputy campaign manager Stephanie Cutter says Republicans “think lying is a virtue.”
A lie is a conscious untruth known to be untrue when spoken. The revelations made by the State Department and the Oversight Committee hearings this week regarding the source of the tragedy in Benghazi support the view that there may indeed by those who think “lying is a virtue,” but it isn’t Governor Romney.
Billionaire philanthropist Sheldon Adelson and his wife have donated $500,000 to an independent super PAC that endorses Rabbi Shmuley Boteach’s congressional run for the 9th Congressional District in northern New Jersey.
The casino mogul and his wife, Miriam, each gave $250,000 to the Patriot Prosperity Political Action Committee, which is supporting Boteach’s candidacy against the incumbent – Democratic U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell, according to the Wall Street Journal, which cited “people close to the Adelsons and the PAC.”
The Adelsons previously gave $10,000 directly to Boteach’s campaign. Sheldon Adelson and Boteach are personal friends, and Boteach recently wrote an article in The Jewish Press harshly condemning the “below-the-belt attack” by David Harris, President of the National Jewish Democratic Council, who accused Adelson of personally approving prostitution in his casinos.
In a statement to The Jewish Press Boteach said,”I treasure the Adelsons’ support. They have been dear friends for a long time and were among the earliest backers of my campaign. Not only are they heroes in the Jewish community for their mega-philanthropy, but they are among the most generous and sophisticated political donors in the country.
“Their decision to support my campaign – and, apparently, to help fund a group that will be backing my campaign – proves that there’s a passionate need in American politics for a values-based candidacy. This donation is a game changer.”
The donation is only the most recent contribution the Adelson’s have made to Republican candidates this election season. They have contributed $10 million toward Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney’s campaign, and contributed $10 million to Newt Gingrich during the Republican primaries.
The Adelson’s have been active philanthropists in a variety of Jewish causes, giving close to $100 million to Birthright Israel, $25 million donation to Yad Vashem, as well as donations to the Shalem Center in Jerusalem and the Zionist Organization of America, among other groups.
Boteach’s platform includes support for school vouchers and making marital counseling tax deductible in an effort to lower the divorce rate. He has criticized his opponent for signing a letter with 53 other Congressmen which condemned Israel for “collective punishment” against Palestinians in the Gaza blockade.