News and Opinion Based on Facts

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Bibi Netanyahu to Address Congress


This May 24, 2011 file photo shows Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with House Speaker John Boehner on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP)
House Speaker John Boehner announced Wednesday he is inviting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to address Congress next month about the threat from Iran, in a sharp rebuke to President Obama.
Such invitations typically are coordinated with the White House and State Department, but this one was not. The House speaker's office said Netanyahu will be invited to speak Feb. 11 before a joint session of Congress. The invitation comes as lawmakers weigh legislation, supported by Republicans and some Democrats, to tee up more sanctions against Iran in case negotiations fail to curtail the country's nuclear enrichment program.
Obama vowed Tuesday during his State of the Union address to veto any such legislation. But Boehner signaled he wants Netanyahu to explain the stakes of the debate, as he pledged to press ahead with the legislation.
“Prime Minister Netanyahu is a great friend of our country, and this invitation carries with it our unwavering commitment to the security and well-being of his people,” Boehner said in a statement. “In this time of challenge, I am asking the prime minister to address Congress on the grave threats radical Islam and Iran pose to our security and way of life.”
Asked about the invite, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest described it as a breach of typical protocol since the White House wasn't involved. But he said the administration would reserve judgment until they speak with the Israelis.
Critics of Obama and his foreign policy say the president has failed to keep close ties to Israel, a long-time U.S. ally and a key country in providing Middle East stability. Among their concerns is that the Obama administration has not done enough to curb Iran's suspected pursuit of a nuclear weapon.
In his State of the Union address, Obama warned that legislation setting new potential sanctions would "all but guarantee that diplomacy fails."
But Boehner told members of the GOP House Conference on Wednesday morning: “The president warned us not to move ahead with sanctions on Iran, a state sponsor of terror. His exact message to us was: 'Hold your fire.' He expects us to stand idly by and do nothing while he cuts a bad deal with Iran. Two words: 'Hell no'."
He said: "Let’s send a clear message to the White House – and the world – about our commitment to Israel and our allies.”
Aside from the sanctions bill, a Senate committee was considering a separate bill on Wednesday that would give Congress a vote on any nuclear deal.
The United States and five other world powers have reached a tentative deal with Iran. The countries are trying to reach a final deal by June 15.
If Netanyahu accepts the invitation, it would be his third appearance before a joint session of Congress and his second during Boehner’s speakership.
His previous addresses were in July 1996 and May 2011. Other Israeli prime ministers to address Congress include Ehud Olmert, Shimon Peres and Yitzhak Rabin, according to Boehner’s office.
Fox News’ Mike Emanuel contributed to this report.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Another Terrorist threatens Israel


Image grab from Hezbollah's al-Manar TV on January 9, 2015, shows Hassan Nasrallah, the head of Lebanon's militant Shiite Muslim movement Hezbollah, giving an address from an undisclosed location


    Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah threatened in an interview Thursday to retaliate against Israel for repeated strikes on Syria and said he has missiles that can hit the Jewish state.

    Nasrallah told Al-Mayadeen television that his powerful Shiite movement has had Iranian Fateh-110 missiles that could strike throughout Israel since 2006, adding that it is always ready to fight the Jewish state.

    Nasrallah, a key ally of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, has sent thousands of fighters into Syria to help defend the regime.
    He said that Israeli strikes on Syria "target the whole of the resistance axis", which includes Hezbollah, Damascus and Tehran.
    "The repeated bombings that struck several targets in Syria are a major violation, and we consider that any strike against Syria is a strike against the whole of the resistance axis, not just against Syria," he told the Beirut-based Arab news television.
    "The axis is capable of responding. This can happen any time."
    Asked about Hezbollah's arsenal, Nasrallah said the group had "all (the weapons) you can imagine... and in great quantities".
    He added: "We are now stronger than we ever were as a resistance movement."
    Israel and Hezbollah fought a devastating war in the summer of 2006 that killed some 1,200 Lebanese -- most of them civilians -- and 160 Israelis -- most of them soldiers.
    According to Pentagon officials, Hezbollah has 50,000 missiles, including some capable of reaching Tel Aviv.
    The Israeli air force has carried out several raids against targets in Syria, including depots storing weapons meant for Hezbollah, since the conflict there started nearly four years ago.
    The most recent strike was in December, when Israeli warplanes struck weapons warehouses near Damascus, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group.
    Israel has never confirmed it carried out the strikes, but it says it has a policy of preventing arms transfers to militant groups including Hezbollah.
    Israeli media said, however, after the December strikes that the air force had targeted arms convoys or depots of Iranian-made rockets.
    Nasrallah said in the interview that Hezbollah is ready to fight a new war against Israel in Lebanon and renewed a threat to invade the Galilee region of northern Israel.
    "When the resistance (Hezbollah) leadership... asks you (fighters)... to enter into Galilee, that means the resistance must be ready to enter into Galilee and to go even beyond the Galilee."

    - 'No solution without Assad' -

    Nasrallah also spoke extensively on how he views the war on Syria, where his troops have played a key role since mid-2013 in helping Assad's regime reconquer territory it had previously lost to the opposition.
    He said he does not believe there can be no solution to the devastating Syrian war that excludes Assad.
    Gulf states, Turkey and the West have repeatedly called for Assad's ouster, while rebel groups have refused to talk to the regime so long as Assad remains in power.
    Russia is a key Damascus backer, and aims to hold talks later this month. It is unclear which opposition groups will attend the meeting.

    Tuesday, January 13, 2015

    Mitt thinks he's the new Bobby Kennedy

    He once declared that he wasn't "concerned about the very poor," but now Mitt thinks he's the new Bobby Kennedy


    Mitt Romney, anti-poverty warrior: Why his latest reinvention is so ridiculousMitt Romney (Credit: AP)
    Should Mitt Romney proceed with plans to launch another White House bid, he will attempt a feat that has rarely succeeded in American politics. Not since Richard Nixon’s 1968 victory has someone gone on to win the presidency after previously capturing his party’s nod but losing the general election. The prospect of a third Romney campaign evokes memories of Tricky Dick for another reason, as well. Reading accounts of Romney’s preparations for a 2016 comeback attempt, it’s hard not to hearken back to the perpetual reinventions of the nation’s 37th president.
    Vice President Hubert Humphrey, Nixon’s Democratic opponent in 1968, acerbically recounted Nixon’s many makeovers in a campaign appearance that year.  ”They started the renewal job in 1952, a ‘brand-new’ Nixon. There was some reason for it, too,” the Democrats’ Happy Warrior cracked. “Then they had another renewal job in 1956. Then they had another renovation operation in 1960. Then, when he went to run for governor in California in 1962, they renewed him again. And then, in 1964, another touch-up.”
    “And now, I read about the ‘new Nixon’ of 1968,” Humphrey related. “Ladies and gentlemen, anybody that had his political face lifted so many times can’t be very new.”
    The man whose father served as Nixon’s Secretary of Housing and Urban Development is poised to undergo a new facelift of his own as he contemplates entering next year’s presidential beauty pageant. In the final analysis, Willard Mitt Romney’s many faces tell underscore a single truth: His core conviction is simply that he belongs in elected office.
    In the days before Romney mounted his first political campaign — a surprisingly strong but ultimately ill-fated challenge to Sen. Ted Kennedy in 1994 — he was a socially conservative Mormon bishop who admonished a woman whose life was endangered by her pregnancy not to have an abortion. However, by the time Romney ran against Kennedy, he was a socially liberal Republican who supported a woman’s right to choose and even promised to do more for gay rights than Kennedy did.


    Then, after moving to Utah to rescue the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, Romney pondered making his political career there. Because he couldn’t run as a social liberal in the deeply conservative state, Romney disavowed the “pro-choice” label, seemingly presaging a return to socially conservative form. But when the Massachusetts governorship appeared ripe for picking in 2002, Romney returned to the Bay State in and promised once again to safeguard abortion rights, while pitching himself to voters as a “progressive” Republican.
    As 2008 approached and Romney opted not to pursue re-election as governor in 2006 — a smart choice, given that he’d likely have lost — he then refashioned himself as a right-wing culture warrior, opposing not only abortion and gay rights, but also embryonic stem cell research and immigration reform. During his second presidential run in 2012, Romney campaigned on a hard-right platform in the primaries, but in the general election campaign against President Obama, he touted himself primarily as a competent manager who would right the nation’s economic ship.
    After he lost to Obama, Romney seemed to express contrition for some of the more intemperate remarks he made during the campaign. In November 2013, he even suggested openness to immigration reform — a far cry from the days when Romney called for unauthorized immigrants to “self-deport.” But as he gears up to run again, Romney is reportedly ready to run to the right on the issue, perhaps sensing Jeb Bush’s vulnerability there. Yet even as Romney signals that he’ll campaign as a severe conservative on issues like immigration and taxes, Politico reports that he’ll be adopting a softer line on another topic. Come 2016, the former Bain Capital CEO aims to position himself as an anti-poverty warrior, according to the publication’s Maggie Haberman and James Hohmann.
    “Romney, who made a fortune in the financial sector and was cast by Democrats in 2012 as a heartless businessman, wants to make tackling poverty — a key issue for his 2012 vice-presidential running mate, Rep. Paul Ryan — one of the three pillars of his campaign,” Haberman and Hohmann write. At this stage, it’s unclear what Romney’s anti-poverty agenda would entail. It’s certainly not as if his past statements offer any clues; in 2012, Romney told CNN’s Soledad O’Brien that he was “not concerned about the very poor” because “we have a safety net there.” Romney added that his campaign was “focused on middle-income Americans. My campaign — you can choose where to focus. You can focus on the rich. That’s not my focus. You can focus on the very poor. That’s not my focus.”
    Somewhere along the course of the past three years, however, Governor 47 Percent has decided that perhaps the poor are worth focusing on, after all. The man who railed against Americans who would never be convinced to “take personal responsibility and care for their lives” now fancies himself a latter-day Bobby Kennedy. (Coming soon: The Mitt Romney Appalachian tour?) Of course, Romney is unlikely to put forth any proposals that would meaningfully reduce the level of poverty in the U.S. Like his 2012 running mate and close associate Paul Ryan, Romney may outline a paternalistic anti-poverty approach, complete with Ryan’s “contracts” requiring the poors to be on their very best behavior or else face “sanctions.” He may repeat standard conservative tropes about how family breakdown contributes to poverty, even as he ignores the systemic economic problems that themselves cause familial woes. He’ll probably tout the purported trickle-down effects of tax cuts for “job creators.” And like the shamelessly cynical Nixon, Romney may well exploit good, old-fashioned xenophobia; if he’s going to run on an anti-immigrant platform, perhaps he’ll demonize immigrants as job-stealers. That narrative may be bunk, but no matter; there’s an election on.
    At any rate, it may matter little what anti-poverty proposals Romney offers. By the time he launches his 2020 campaign, he’ll almost certainly have discarded them.
    Luke Brinker is Salon's deputy politics editor. Follow him on Twitter at @LukeBrinker