The Week: Israel, the Budget, & California Prisons

The past week or so has been filled with so much news I haven’t had the opportunity to cover it all. I did talk about the president’s comment on Israel’s pre-1967 borders, but I didn’t get to all the cartoons about it. Here are two of my favorites:

Some have suggested the United States go back to its pre-1959 borders, which would then exclude Hawaii. I wonder why they were wishing for that?

Meanwhile, some Democrat agency made a commercial trashing Paul Ryan’s budget plan by showing him pushing an old lady in a wheelchair over a cliff. One cartoonist used that image for his commentary:

Never mind that Ryan’s plan doesn’t change anything for people age fifty-five or older. That would be dealing with facts—something rather foreign to those who love to demagogue this issue:

Then there was a decision by the U.S. Supreme Court—a 5-4 decision with Justice Kennedy providing the swing vote again—telling California to release thousands of prisoners because their rights were being violated by the crowded conditions in those prisons. They got that way, of course, because California is, for all practical purposes, broke, and unable to spend money on them. Well, actually, there would be money available if priorities were different, but that’s another story. This one has enough ramifications of its own:

Remember this card? It’s been altered slightly to fit the current situation:

Another reason not to live in California.

Herman Cain: For Real?

In 2008, most commentators treated Mike Huckabee as a fringe candidate who had no chance of winning anything. When he won the Iowa caucuses, they were stunned. He was the last candidate to stay in the race with McCain. He performed well above expectations. For that reason, he was considered one of the frontrunners this year until he decided not to make that run.

I mention the Huckabee example as a preface to writing about another such candidate this time around: Herman Cain. No one among the “official” punditry gives him any chance of winning the Republican nomination, yet he has shown surprising strength early on. In polls focusing on primary voters, he has consistently been in the lead or very close to it. At the mini-debate that took place recently among five of the contenders, the focus group at the end was virtually unanimous in declaring him the winner.

Just who is this man? Is he for real, or will he be no more than a footnote once this campaign ends?

Cain has never held public office. He tried once to receive the Republican nomination for senator from Georgia, but fell short. Why, then, does he think he can be successful in this quest?

Herman Cain says he is running because God wants him to do something significant with the rest of his life. He survived stage IV cancer, and shares a heartfelt testimony of how God led him through that ordeal and brought him out on the other side cancer free.

While that is great, and an inspirational story, what has he done with his life up to this point that makes him think he can be president?

Cain has a broad background in business. He began as a business analyst for Coca-Cola, then, with the Pillsbury company, rose to the level of vice president. Pillsbury owned Burger King at the time, and put Cain in charge of four hundred of those fast-food restaurants in the Philadelphia area, a region that was the least profitable in the country. In three years, he had made it into the most profitable.

Pillsbury was so pleased with his success that it gave him a new job—save another of its subsidiaries, Godfather’s Pizza, from going under. As CEO of that company, Cain worked his business magic again, making it profitable within fourteen months. He eventually left Godfather’s to become CEO of the National Restaurant Association. In addition to all of that business acumen, he was appointed to the board of directors of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, where he served as chairman one year.

In other words, Cain is not a nobody; he has a resumé of success in the business and financial world.

What about the issues? Where does he stand?

On economics, he is a Reagan-style Republican devoted to less regulation and lower taxes. In fact, as with Huckabee, he is a supporter of the Fair Tax proposal, which would do away with all income taxes and go to a consumption tax instead. Bottom line: you keep all your money and then pay taxes only on what you decide to buy.

As a dedicated Christian evangelical, Cain opposes abortion and seeks to defund Planned Parenthood. He opposes same-sex marriage and supports the Defense of Marriage Act.

He’s also vocal about his concerns that there are some in the Muslim community who desire to construct Sharia law in the United States.

Education? Performance incentives for teachers; charter schools; voucher systems.

Energy? Drill more on our own land, even in ANWR; allow the private sector to develop alternative sources without government interference.

Healthcare? Repeal Obamacare and let the free market rule.

Immigration? Secure the border; no amnesty.

Cain is pro-Israel, pro-Second Amendment, and says his favorite Supreme Court justices are Scalia and Thomas.

If he can communicate effectively, who knows what might happen? I am not at this time declaring my support for his nomination, but I do believe he deserves a closer look. Will he be able to withstand the pressure that comes from increased scrutiny? Will he avoid a major gaffe along the way?

He has developed some significant grassroots support. Is it enough? I’m going to be watching with great interest.

The Media Drumbeat

Have you caught the new media mantra? It goes something like this: “What a weak field of presidential aspirants on the Republican side. There’s no one of real stature there.” The goal of some, I believe, is to repeat this endlessly until the majority believes it. After all, if something is uttered often enough, it must be true, right?

Well, that field includes a former governor of Minnesota who managed a Democrat-majority state for two terms and still maintains his conservative credentials. It also has a sitting congressman, a former senator, another former governor, and a business CEO. A congresswoman who not only raised her own family but also opened her home for twenty-three foster children is poised to enter the race as well.

Now, I don’t agree with all of those candidates on everything, and there are a couple I could never see myself voting for, but that doesn’t mean it’s a weak field. Do you want to consider weak credentials for the presidency? How about the following example?

Consider a man who, while a state senator, earned a reputation as “Senator Present” for avoiding votes on many controversial issues—who served as a U.S. Senator for two years, virtually in absentia because he almost immediately began running for president—who commented that he had visited all 57 states [does anyone recall the media ridiculing him for that? Sarah Palin never said she could see Russia from her front porch, yet she is still ridiculed for that bogus statement made by a comedian]—who told supporters that the problem with some Americans is that they are bitter clingers to their guns and their religion, and they don’t like anybody different than them—who clearly told a man that it was best for the government to redistribute his income to help others—who sat in a church for twenty years listening to a wacko “pastor” speak out against America and Israel and white people generally—a man who had absolutely no executive experience and never ran anything—

Do I really need to continue?

Yet somehow this man became president, while a true reform governor like Palin has been ripped apart for things she never said and events she never caused [remember the Tucson shootings?].

This past week, he said Israel should return to its pre-1967 borders. I know he tried to backtrack afterwards, but if you listen carefully even to his later words, the onus is on Israel, in his mind, to make concessions—even to terrorist organizations like Hamas.

Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu took this president to task the day after his infamous statement. Some commentators were horrified that a foreign head of state would dare to “lecture” the U.S. president. If you watch what Netanyahu said, you will see that he carried himself with diplomatic civility while delivering a much-needed message.

The tragedy is that this president is so ideologically bound to the other side that he won’t really learn anything from the lesson.

So, as you hear the media drumbeat that will attempt to trivialize Obama’s competition, keep in mind these media people have their own agenda. They are “in the tank,” so to speak, for his reelection. Don’t allow the “newspeak” to sway you. Listen to what those competitors for his job are really saying and make up your own mind as to their worthiness. In my opinion, any of them would be an improvement over what we now have.

In Support of Israel–Unlike Our President

If anyone still retained any doubt about where President Obama stands on the Israeli-Palestinian issue, that doubt should be gone now. In his speech yesterday, the president actually called for Israel to return to its pre-1967 borders.

History reminder: in 1967, the nation of Israel fought the Six-Day War against its Arab “neighbors”—that term is more outlandish than descriptive. As a result of that war, this tiny country added more territory, which has caused great consternation in the Arab world ever since. Keep in mind, though, what Israel looked like prior to this war:

Notice that the width of Israel at one point was a grand total of nine miles. Tel Aviv was only eleven miles from its enemies, and Jerusalem was controlled by the Arabs, despite it being the ancient capital of the Jews.

The problem? The radicals who currently control the Palestinian territories want to kill every last Israeli. Even if Israel would agree to go back to those ludicrous borders that would wreak havoc with their defense, the radicals would not be satisfied. They are on record as saying nothing will satisfy them but the elimination of every Jew in the land.

We’re talking Hitler-style elimination here. We’re talking pure evil.

Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu rightly rejected Obama’s call to return to those borders. It will be interesting to see what comes of the meeting between the two today. Israel has reason to worry. It does not have a friend in the White House.

What is the source of this animus toward Israel by Obama? Keep in mind his twenty-plus years of attendance at Rev. Jeremiah Wright’s “church” in Chicago, a “church” that preaches a combination of unhistorical Afrocentrism and Marxist-inspired liberation theology. This is a “church” that has put declarations from Hamas in its bulletins on Sunday mornings. What does Hamas seek to do? Annihilate Israel.

Obama sees the Israelis as occupiers, and the Palestinians as the oppressed. Well, they certainly are oppressed, but I counter that the source of their oppression is their own so-called leadership.

Obama will mouth the right words about the right of Israel to defend itself, but his actions continually undermine any soothing words he may utter.

As an evangelical Christian, I support Israel because I believe Biblical history: God used this nation as His conduit for bringing the Truth and the Light of the gospel into this world. I also don’t believe He’s done working with this people.

But even if I weren’t an evangelical supporter—even if I were assessing this situation as a confirmed secularist—I would be alarmed at the attempt to undercut the one ally we have in the Middle East, and the only one that allows its people a real voice in their government. A Middle East without Israel would be a complete cesspool of radical Islamist tyranny.

We abandon Israel at the risk of turning the entire Middle East over to our worst enemies. When they are done with Israel, they will turn on us with an even greater invective than we have witnessed thus far.

We must stand by Israel at all costs.

The Root Cause of All Root Causes

How about a little more commentary on Western blindness today? On this subject, I always like to allow experts to speak. Mark Steyn, in America Alone, provides enough ammunition to carry the day. As many of you know, I’ve been chronicling Steyn’s book over the last few weeks. We’re now up to chapter eight, “The State of the Art Primitive: The Known Unknowns vs. the Knowingly Unknowing.” If that title puzzles you a little, let me—or rather Steyn—shed some light.

Steyn quotes Edward Said, “the New York-based America disparager and author of the bestselling Orientalism,” as deploring what he calls “the tendency of commentators to separate cultures into … ‘sealed-off entities,’ when in reality Western Civilization and the Muslim world are so ‘intertwined’ that it was impossible to ‘draw the line’ between them.” In other words, Westerners have this bad habit of saying there is a clear distinction between the cultures when none really exists.

Steyn responds,

Rich Lowry, the editor of National Review, wasn’t impressed by this notion. “The line seems pretty clear,” he said. “Developing mass commercial aviation and soaring skyscrapers was the West’s idea; slashing the throats of stewardesses and flying planes into the skyscrapers was radical Islam’s idea.”

We are neglecting one startling fact: they hate us.

Take the example of the strife between Israel and the Palestinians:

For one side, there is no common humanity, even with people they know well, who provide them with jobs, and much else: Wafa Samir Ibrahim al-Biss, a twenty-one-year-old woman who has received kind and exemplary treatment at an Israeli hospital in Beersheba, packs herself with explosives and sets off to blow apart that hospital and the doctors and nurses who’ve treated her.

We in the West are always looking for the “root causes” of the outrage in the Islamic world. Steyn says there are no root causes to seek, or at least not in the ordinary sense. He notes,

Five days before the slaughter in Bali in 2005, nine Islamists were arrested in Paris for reportedly plotting to attack the Metro. Must be all those French troops in Iraq, right? So much for the sterling efforts of President Chirac and his prime minister, the two chief obstructionists to Bush-Blair-neocon-Zionist warmongering since 2001.

The French continually criticized the United States after 9/11, “yet the jihadists still blew up a French oil tanker. If you were to pick only one Western nation not to blow up the oil tankers of, the French would surely be it.” When asked later, the spokesman for the radical jihadists explained, “‘We would have preferred to hit a U.S. frigate, but no problem because they are all infidels.'”

Now we get down to what might be considered the root cause of all root causes, one that escapes the Western illuminati: they attack us because we are not them. Steyn continues,

When people make certain statements and their acts conform to those statements I tend to take them at their word. As Hussein Massawi, former leader of Hezbollah, neatly put it, “We are not fighting so that you will offer us something. We are fighting to eliminate you.” The first choice of Islamists is to kill Americans and Jews, or best of all an American Jew like Daniel Pearl, the late Wall Street Journal reporter. Failing that, they’re happy to kill Australians, Britons, Canadians, Swedes, Germans, as they did in Bali. No problem. We are all infidels. You can be a hippy-dippy hey-man-I-love-everybody Dutch stoner hanging out in a bar in Bali, and they’ll blow you up with as much enthusiasm as if you were Dick Cheney.

The Soviet Union and other totalitarian states at least played a game of pretending they weren’t what they were—they would refer to themselves as “People’s Republics,” which was a way to try to paper over their true nature. Radical Islamists don’t bother to pretend.

They say what they mean and they mean what they say—and we choose to stay in ignorance. Blow up the London Underground during a G-8 summit and the world’s leaders twitter about how “tragic” and “ironic” it is that this should have happened just as they’re taking steps to deal with the issues—as though the terrorists are upset about poverty in Africa and global warming. Even in a great blinding flash of clarity, we can’t wait to switch the lights off and go back to fumbling around on the darkling plain.

We continue to pretend that we are all the same, and that we can work together, even when the “other side” clearly states its goals. We wait around for cooperation and wonder why it’s not forthcoming.

We are blind because we have a foundation of spiritual blindness, and spiritual blindness begets all other types of blindness. The radicals condemn the West because it is “Christian civilization.” If only that were the case.

Into the Twilight Zone

Last night, President Obama gave his apologetic for why we are acting against Libya. I’ve said all along I don’t like Qaddafi. Hardly anyone does. When Condi Rice spoke at Southeastern a couple weeks ago, she related what is was like to spend three hours with the man. Her conclusion? He is a madman.

So there’s really no debate on that point. As many have indicated, the real issue is what will follow after him, if he in fact does go. Reports are surfacing that many of those rebels came from the battlefields of Iraq, where they fought against American troops. Now we’re helping them?

Have we crossed the border into the Twilight Zone after all?

As bad as Qaddafi is, will a new government run by jihadists be an improvement—the same people who want to destroy the Great Satan, a.k.a., the United States?

The same question was raised during the Egyptian revolution earlier. That question is even more valid today. A report in the New York Times [of all places], reveals that the Muslim Brotherhood is coming to the forefront of that revolution, and that the moderate elements who thought they were in control are being pushed to the background. For more on that, go to this site.

Bottom line: things are coming to a head in that region and we are not in control, despite any assurances offered by the administration.

We aren’t the only losers in this scenario. One nation in the area, Israel, is more threatened than ever by these developments. There’s a Biblical admonition that is appropriate for our times: pray for the peace of Israel.

Egypt’s Future … and Ours

I suppose I need to say something more about Egypt. Since I last wrote about the situation there, much has changed—not the least the abrupt departure of Hosni Mubarak, just hours after he said he wasn’t going to step down until September. Well, September arrived earlier than expected.

Then there was James Clapper, the Obama administration’s Director of National Intelligence, commenting in a House Intelligence Committee hearing that the Muslim Brotherhood is not necessarily an organization to fear. Here are Clapper’s precise words:

The term “Muslim Brotherhood” … is an umbrella term for a variety of movements, in the case of Egypt, a very heterogeneous group, largely secular, which has eschewed violence and has decried Al Qaeda as a perversion of Islam. They have pursued social ends, a betterment of the political order in Egypt, et cetera. … In other countries, there are also chapters or franchises of the Muslim Brotherhood, but there is no overarching agenda, particularly in pursuit of violence, at least internationally.

What are we to make of such an assessment?

This is the same Muslim Brotherhood that spawned Al Qaeda, Hamas, and Hezbollah. This is the organization that is dedicated to the destruction of Israel and to the setting up of an Islamic caliphate from Spain to Indonesia.

This is a terrorist organization.

For now, the army is in charge of Egypt, and it has been trained by and has ties to the U.S. military. The hope is that it will be able to maintain control and methodically lead the nation into representative government. Of course, the larger problem is that the people of Egypt are not practiced in the art of self-government. Indeed, it can be questioned whether any majority-Muslim nation can handle a legitimately representative form of government, given the Muslim mentality. Some say it has worked in Turkey, but there are signs it is breaking down there. We have tried to install workable government in Iraq; the result is still uncertain.

What of Egypt? Why should it be any different? I fear it won’t be, and if the attempt fails, the Muslim Brotherhood is waiting to pick up the pieces. In fact, it already has received the proverbial “place at the table.”

The next few weeks and months will be critical, not only for Egypt, not only for Israel and the entire Middle East, but critical for the United States as well.