Hysteria Over Cruz Illustrates What We’re Up Against

Wow! Can you believe how Ted Cruz is catching it from both sides in response to his powerful speech announcing his quest to win the White House in 2016? As expected, the Left is doing their typical thing calling Cruz extreme, stupid and crazy. Conservatives are taking shots at Cruz because he has not mastered walking on water.

Folks, this is what you get when you have the cojones to take a bold stand for liberty and conservatism. The hysteria, outrage, slings and arrows coming from both sides of the political aisle targeted at Cruz is what a true conservative must be willing to endure.

For crying out loud, Cruz simply trumpeted traditional principles and values that Americans have celebrated since the Republic’s founding; American Exceptionalism, liberty, freedom, hard work, God and country. The problem is without even realizing it, many have succumb to the Left successfully tainting their thinking, lowering the nation’s behavioral bar and forcing political correctness down our throats. So when a Ted Cruz comes along, his message sounds edgy to those hearing it for the first time. And yet, I believe many will be instinctively drawn to it.

Why? Because conservatism connects with our higher self/spirit. It inspires people to be the best they can be. That is what attracted me to conservatism.

Jesus said, “My sheep hear my voice….and follow me.” Without a miracle, conservatism will not resonate with lazy deadbeats filled with class envy and hatred for achievers. It is a foreign language to them. All they care about is handouts and a free ride. Let the Democrats continue pandering to them; the chickens and turtles. Let’s take the higher ground, striving to attract eagles which I believe are a majority of the American people. This is why the Left is so terrified of Cruz, he knows how to spread the good news of conservatism.

Folks, we must stop Obama’s quest to diminish who we are, reducing us to a nation of part-time workers, dependent and subservient to big government. In the name of our founding fathers, we are Americans! Let’s act like it!

Both sides going nuts over Cruz’s bold, upbeat and inspiring articulation of conservatism illustrates what we are up against. Even conservatives are saying Cruz is too this or not enough that. Some conservatives feel Cruz so boldly preaching conservatism on the big stage is a little embarrassing and scary, careful not to be seen standing too close to him by the MSM. When asked, “Didn’t we see you with Ted Cruz?” They reply, “H— no, I never knew him!”

It has stuck in my craw for quite a while the way the Left has gotten away with pushing us around, bullying us into silence and tolerating every abhorrent behavior and religion under the sun. Meanwhile, when Ted Cruz dares to stand up for righteousness, Christianity, God and country the Left goes shock and awe ballistic on him.

Wimp-i-fied conservatives and political know-it-alls suggest that Cruz dial it back a bit; make himself more palatable to “mainstream” voters. Others say Cruz does not have a snowball’s chance of becoming the GOP nominee let alone winning the White House. I believe they are wrong. As I stated, like the gospel, conservatism is good news. My advice to Cruz is preach it brother, preach it!

I do not know about you guys, but I am done with moderate Republican clone presidential nominees like McCain, Romney, Jeb Bush and Christie. If I go down in defeat, I want to go down inspiring my fellow Americans to come up higher; fighting my butt off for liberty and freedom behind the likes of a Ted Cruz.

The Founders’ Worst Fears

As the Founding Fathers met at Independence Hall in Philadelphia in 1778, producing word-for- word the greatest governing document in all of recorded history, they were haunted by a number of major concerns.  Among their most critical concerns was the long term sustainability of the constitutional republic they were creating.  How could they prevent it from being subverted?

General George Washington, president of the Constitutional Convention, read a July 25, 1787 letter from John Jay, a member of the Continental Congress, who would later become the first Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court.  It was just five years and eleven months since Lord Cornwallis surrendered at Yorktown and Jay was concerned that the administration of our federal government might one day fall into the hands of a man who might find it difficult…  because of divided loyalties… to always do what was in the best interests of the country.  He was especially concerned over what might happen if command of our Army and Navy should ever fall into the hands of such a man.

In his letter, Jay wrote:

“Permit me to hint whether it would be wise and seasonable to provide a strong check to the admission of foreigners into the administration of our national government; and to declare expressly that the commander-in-chief of the American army shall not be given to, nor devolve on, any but a natural born citizen (emphasis added).”

In Federalist Paper No. 68, Alexander Hamilton expressed the widely-held concern of foreign influence in the affairs of government.  He wrote:

“These most deadly adversaries of republican government (cabal, intrigue, etc.) might actually have expected to make their approach from more than one quarter, but chiefly from the desire in foreign powers to gain an improper ascendant in our councils.  How could they better gratify this than by raising a creature of their own to the Chief Magistracy of the Union?”

Taking into account the concerns expressed by Jay and Madison, it is easy to understand why the Founders produced a constitution under which only two of the 145,400,000 jobs in the United States… public sector and private sector combined… require the incumbents to be “natural born” citizens.  Those two jobs are president and vice president of the United States.  So, precisely what was it that the Founders found so worrisome about future presidents… so worrisome that they placed such tight restrictions on access to the position?

The Founders rightly understood that the most influential factor in a child’s upbringing is the parenting he/she receives as a child, and that the fundamental cultural, philosophical, political, and religious influence of a child’s parents establishes the direction of his/her future conduct.  Accordingly, what the Founders feared most was the danger that a future president… during his formative years and during the years in which he was developing intellectually… would be exposed to an environment in which he would come to reject the values and the principles embodied in the U.S. Constitution.  Although they were not alive to see it, their worst fears were realized in 2009 when Barack Hussein Obama occupied the White House.

Obama’s mother was a citizen of the United States.  However, under the tutelage of her liberal Democrat parents she grew up to be a radical leftist, while his father, Barack Hussein Obama, Sr., was a devout Kenyan-born socialist.  Obama spent most of his formative years as a citizen of Indonesia, the most populous Muslim nation on Earth, where his name was changed to Barry Soetoro and his school records list his religious preference as Islamic.  Then, upon returning to Hawaii at age 10, he was mentored during his teen years by a card-carrying member of the Communist Party USA, Frank Marshall Davis.  It was not the sort of environment conducive to the political and intellectual development of a man who would one day follow in the footsteps of patriots such as Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, and Ronald Reagan.

Obama went into office promising the most transparent administration in history, and that he would bring an end to the revolving door of lobbyists moving into and out of the White House.  Instead, the revolving door at the White House has been set spinning with lobbyists coming and going, while even the most liberal media outlets insist that his is the least transparent, the least responsive, and the most secretive administration in history.

He went into office promising to depolarize American politics and government and to reach across the aisle to work with Republicans.  Instead, he pokes his thumb into the eyes of Republicans at every opportunity, and what has always been a healthy mistrust between the major parties now approaches bitter animosity.

He went into office promising to reduce unemployment and to spur economic growth.  Instead, he has steadily shrunk the size of the U.S. workforce, increased the ranks of the unemployed, and, with little understanding how the U.S. economy works, stymied economic growth.

He promised to provide healthcare insurance for some 30 million uninsured, while improving the quality of healthcare and reducing the cost of healthcare for everyone… and all of that without increasing the number of doctors, nurses, and hospitals.  Instead, many workers have lost their insurance, doctors are giving up their practices, and employers are reducing the working hours of employees so as to avoid paying the burgeoning cost of healthcare benefits.

He went into office promising to close the budget deficit and reduce the national debt.  Instead, in the six years he’s been in office, he has not produced a single balanced budget and the national debt has increased from $9 trillion to $18 trillion… more than all previous presidents combined.

He went into office promising to reduce poverty and to shrink the income disparity between the rich and the poor.  Instead, the number of Americans living below the poverty line has gradually increased, nearly 50 million Americans are on food stamps, and the wage gap between the rich and the poor has steadily widened.

He went into office promising to heal the scars of racism and to bring our people together.  Instead, he has played the race card at every opportunity and race relations are now more tenuous than at any time in the past one-hundred years.

He went into office promising to solve the illegal immigration problem by first securing our borders.  Instead, millions upon millions of illegals from Mexico and Central America stream across our borders, while he uses every conceivable device to insure that the invaders can stay in the U.S. and that they will one day become reliable Democratic voters.

He went into office promising to improve relations with the Russians; to bring peace to the Middle East; to draw “red lines” in Libya and Syria that radical Islamists would not dare cross; to promote friendship and cooperation throughout the Arab world; and to heal any rifts that may have developed between us and our allies.  Instead, relations between the U.S. and Russia are at an all-time low; every nation in the Middle East is either at war or about to be at war; “red lines” were crossed but Obama failed to respond as threatened; our enemies throughout the Middle East are emboldened; the most dangerous purveyor of state-sponsored terror is just weeks or months away from having a nuclear weapon; our Arab allies no longer trust us; and our long-time allies in Israel and in Europe must now face a dangerous world without our leadership.

In short, Barack Obama is precisely what the Founders feared most when they wrote Article II, Section 1 of the Constitution, limiting access to the presidency only to those who are natural born citizens.  In just six short years, Obama has become the “poster boy” for national suicide.

Unfortunately, the intellectually lazy in both major parties, representing the entire ideological spectrum from left to right, have failed to satisfy themselves of Obama’s eligibility.  Those on the left were so anxious to recapture the White House, especially with a young attractive black man as their standard bearer, that they paid no attention whatsoever to warnings that he was lacking in qualifications.  While on the right, it is all but impossible to find a conservative commentator or a political leader with the courage to challenge the bona fides of a black Democrat… horrified at the prospect of having to defend themselves against charges of racism.

Hence, what they have done is to create a de facto amendment to the U.S. Constitution without going to the trouble of consulting the provisions of Article 1, Section 3; Article II, Section 1; or Article V of the Constitution.

Now, because of the duplicity of the left and the cowardice of the right, we are confronted with a potential constitutional crisis involving the candidacies of Senator Ted Cruz (D-TX), Governor Bobby Jindal (R-LA) and Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL)… all prominently mentioned as potential presidential nominees in 2016, but none of whom are eligible for that office because they fail to meet the “natural born” requirement of Article II, Section 1 of the Constitution.

Will Democrats, knowing that they supported and elected a usurper in 2008 and again in 2012, allow Republicans to do the same in 2016?  Are we to simply accept that two wrongs make a right?  Anyone who believes that Democrats are not so duplicitous as to glorify Obama’s illegal presidency while crucifying a Republican candidate guilty of the same offense, simply does not know Democrats.  Some liberals and Democrats are already clamoring for Ted Cruz’s long form birth certificate.  The wisest course would be for Cruz, Jindal, and Rubio to do what is best for their party and their country by removing themselves from consideration.

The worst fears of the Founders have been realized in Barack Obama.  Republicans should not repeat the outrage.

WAR Declared! Beck, Rove, Norquist, GOP

An all out knock down drag out media war has broken out between Glenn Beck vs. Grover Norquist and Karl Rove and the GOP.

Glenn has threatened to revoke his NRA membership if Grover Norquist, a Muslim Brotherhood agent, is re-elected to the NRA board.

Karl Rove, a 30 year friend and mentor to Norquist, unleashed a verbal attack on Bill O’Reilly. Beck replied, with the following, “If you want to rumble baby, c’mon,” and added, “You guy’s have the spine of a worm, the ethics of whores, and the integrity of pirates, with my apologies to worms, whores and pirates.”

Richard Viguerie: Cruz is First Top-Tier Movement Conservative Candidate Since Reagan

MANASSAS, Va., March 23, 2015 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — After today’s official announcement that Senator Ted Cruz of Texas is running for president, Richard Viguerie says that changes everything in the 2016 presidential campaign.

Ted Cruz isn’t running for Vice President or Secretary of Housing and Urban Development in the Jeb Bush administration.

Every Republican candidate for president will have to move to significantly to the right, starting with Jeb Bush and Scott Walker, and define their position on amnesty for illegal aliens, on fighting and winning the war radical Islam has declared on America, on spending, the deficit and the debt, and on repealing Obamacare, against the positions Ted Cruz will talk about and campaign on in the coming months.

They will all have to move right to respond to Cruz, or be left behind by a grassroots conservative electorate fed-up with Republican candidates who are merely principle-free messengers for an out of touch Washington elite.

Ted Cruz’s base is the conservative movement, and although other Republican presidential candidates since Ronald Reagan, such as Gary Bauer and Michelle Bachmann, looked to movement conservatives for their support, they were never able to expand beyond their starting base of support into the top-tier of candidates.

Ted Cruz is the first top-tier movement conservative candidate since Reagan for three reasons that separate him immediately from the rest of the Republican pack.

First, is his ability to unite all three elements of the old Reagan coalition; national defense conservatives, economic conservatives and social conservatives with the new fourth leg of the 21st century’s winning conservative coalition – the constitutional conservatives of the Tea Party movement.

Others, such as Scott Walker, Bobby Jindal and Rand Paul may have some appeal to elements of that coalition, but no one unites it the way Ted Cruz does.

Second, is Ted Cruz’s understanding of and almost spiritual bond with America’s country class – the voters outside the Beltway who have looked with alarm at Obama’s fundamental transformation of America and seen not a spending bill to be negotiated or a deal to be cut, as the Republican establishment does, but an existential threat to American exceptionalism and the future of constitutional government that must be resisted at every turn.

Finally and perhaps most importantly, are Ted Cruz’s zest for the battle of ideas between conservatives and progressives in both political parties and his intellectual gifts for fighting it.

The Ted Cruz campaign is planned as a great conservative crusade to, as he put it in his compelling announcement speech at Liberty University, reignite the promise of America.

And this means with Ted Cruz in the race voters will have a clear choice between policy grounded in the thought of the modern conservative movement and the Washington deal-making that has often corrupted Republican campaigns of the recent past.

Today, everything in American politics changed, and that tremor you felt at midday was the shiver in the DC establishment as millions of conservatives across America respond to Ted Cruz and said in unison, we’ve found our leader and “We demand our Liberty.”

Presidential Candidate Ted Cruz: ‘Imagine a President who stands with Israel’

Ted Cruz ignited the crowd at Liberty University today as he announced his bid for President of the United States. Watch this short video of Ted Cruz who brought the crowd to their feet when he said  “Imagine a President who stands unapologetically with the nation of Israel” . The crowd went wild.

The crowd loved his comments in support of Israel.

“Instead of a president who boycotts Prime Minister Netanyahu Imagine a president who stands unapologetically with the nation of Israel.”

RELATED ARTICLE: Is Ted Cruz Eligible for the Presidency?

EDITORS NOTE: The featured image is of Senator Ted Cruz speaking at Liberty University’s weekly Convocation gathering in 2014. Photo credit: Ty Hester, Liberty University via AP

Disarming the Armchair Critics

Should people outside a democracy – if they are citizens of that democracy – be allowed to cast a ballot? It is a question which has gone on in Israel for many years and which returned in the wake of Benjamin Netanyahu’s triumph in the polls this week.

There are many elections in which citizens and non-citizens outside the country clearly prefer one candidate over another. Before the 2008 elections it was undeniably the case that international support for Barack Obama’s Presidential race vastly exceeded international support for the candidacy of John McCain. It is highly unlikely that had Senator McCain made a trip to Berlin to give a keynote speech that he would have filled a room, let alone a public space with German citizens as far as the eye could see. In 2008 the world wanted a change of American leadership. As it turned out the American people did as well so their interests aligned.

It can safely be said that much of the public and political class in the West was hoping for a change of Israeli leadership this week. The White House could barely disguise its hostility to Netanyahu’s triumph at the polls, publicly criticising remarks made in the last hours of the campaign before the White House managed a rather grudging congratulations in private. In Europe too the feeling was that a Livni-Hertzog coalition of the left would somehow deliver a different, more palatable ally with concerns for the peace process with the Palestinians somewhere nearer the top of their agenda.

But the Israeli public thought otherwise. And this is a reminder not just of the adequacy of the democratic system, but an argument against the franchise being extended to expats. Because it is easier to take risks for peace if you are not actually taking any risks yourself. The Israeli public’s high turnout in this week’s elections is partly a demonstration that they take their politics seriously, but also a demonstration that they take their security seriously. It is true that no leaps forward have been made in the Israeli-Palestinian dispute during Netanyahu’s time in office. But nor have there been any large scale terror attacks. And the response to last summer’s barrage of rockets was deemed by most of the public to be both necessary and proportionate.

When they go to the ballot box the Israeli public know that they are casting a vote which might well have an effect on the security and wellbeing of their family to an extent that most Western voters cannot imagine. Outside the country one might wish the country to be willing to take risks. But inside the country the public wishes for security and stability. Whatever one’s views on the results that fact at least deserves to be accepted and respected.

LeadershipNOW: America’s Search for the Most Qualified U.S. Presidential Candidate

CLEVELANDMarch 19, 2015 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — It would be hard to embrace any of the candidates in our last few presidential elections to even run a $20 Million company. If we don’t elect better leaders we will completely lose our position as a leading country.

Famed executive search consultant, transformation CEO and leadership expert, Jeff Christian, who conducted HP’s search for a new CEO, the largest executive search in history, has now set his sights higher, unveiling today his intention to use the best search technologies used in industry, non-profits, and other organizations to identify the most exceptional leaders for the role of President of the United States through a new organization called LeadershipNOW.

jeff christian leadership now ceo

Jeff Christian, CEO LeadershipNOW.

Jeff Christian, Transformational CEO

At age 23, Jeff Christian founded Christian and Timbers, the most rapidly growing executive search firm from 1980s through 2000s. According to Dr. Tom Janz, who worked with Jeff as a coach in 2014 and 2015, “Jeff Christian is a transformational CEO, having built Christian and Timbers into the clear market leader in its space, one of the strongest indicators of a transformational CEO. He is credited for transforming the sleepy executive search industry, a rolodex business, into an information knowledge based powerhouse.” Christian personally led searches which filled top leadership roles and boards of Silicon Valley’s most admired corporations including HP, Cisco System and Apple. He not only found the top talent, he helped it succeed, launching two venture capital companies which landed him on the Forbes Midas list for 5 years as a top deal maker.  Christian authored “The Headhunter’s Edge”, a Random House book where he first introduced the concepts of “Transformational Leadership” and “Talent Centric Companies”.  His most recent company, RevenueNOW, the only company that ensures rapid revenue acceleration, applies transformational components to help America’s entrepreneurs transform their businesses. LeadershipNOW applies these technologies to the political selection process for the first time.

“As far as challenging our thinking, Jeff will do that. As we were putting together the profile for the CEO search that is currently underway, instead of just following the specs, Jeff thought about them, rewrote them and came back to us and said, ‘We ought to be more open in this area.’ He really pushes and hauls the definition before he gets started.”

– Lew Platt, former CEO Hewlett-Packard

America’s Search for the next President

Christian has long dreamed of applying the most advanced science of executive search to selecting U.S. Presidential candidates.  “America’s top corporations use the best of executive search science, which includes creation of a detailed position profile that realistically defines qualities required to be the most effective president. These profiles will be developed by a citizens selection committee drawn from America’s most trusted business, non-profit and academics thought leaders with direct input from all Americans though the LeadershipNOW website.  Christian criticizes the old style politics: “America’s political parties use methods that have hardly changed since the days when smoke filled room deal makers selected presidential candidates.   America’s voters deserve the best candidates from each party and for every office, and we need a modern selection system for identifying and assessing them.  We have created LeadershipNOW to make sure Americans get a choice between strong leaders.”

Scientific Leadership Search will Enable More Informed Choices

Jeff Christian, the top expert on Transformational Leadership, and Dr. Tom Janz, who wrote the definitive book on behavioral interviewing and leadership assessment, have come together to develop an assessment tool and process to identify the very best transformational political leaders.  Christian explains “traditional back room political deal making doesn’t select for those qualities that make for effective government executives and legislators.  By assessing candidates and publicly sharing their results, the result for America should be that the most qualified candidates who might get otherwise be overlooked might just be discovered for the gems they are.  Using scientific search techniques, everyone will know who really stacks up and what their strengths and weaknesses are.”

Candidates Take Notice

“It’s a double edged sword, because scientific search methodologies and assessment can also pinpoint hidden weaknesses.  But the better a leader the candidate is, the less their risk and the more they have to gain by this transparency.” Christian revealed.  Some Republican candidates have taken notice and indicated their willingness to go under the LeadershipNOW microscope.

“Right now, Hillary is the one name that people know. A search is all about discovering what you don’t know, so every other candidate, Republican or Democrat, has the opportunity to become the new front runner, because they will have the strongest emotional link with the voters. So the first candidate courageous enough to follow this initiative has to be taken seriously,” said one political analyst.

Leadership Search technology for local, state and other federal offices as well.

While LeadershipNow is currently developing Presidential position profiles, assessments and recruiting independent governance councils to guide the evaluation processes, it plans to offer similar services for allraces on a non-partisan basis.  Christian is passionate in his commitment to greater public accountability for all offices, “For every office from village major, to governor or senator, voters deserve to know whether candidates have the leadership qualities the desire.  LeadershipNow will measure them and give them the information they need to make the most informed choices about which candidates to give their donations and votes to.”  Campaigns can even use these services to evaluate their own internal leadership, and after the election to assess possible cabinet and staff positions, so candidates can assure the voters that their staff are equally well qualified and worthy of trust.

LeadershipNOW is a new organization that is draws on the talent and technologies of Christian’s most recent venture, RevenueNOW, a consulting organization which merges capabilities of top executive recruiting, private equity, and brand marketing firms. The founding leadership of RevenueNow includes Jeff Christian, Dr. Janz and Scott McGregor.

Jeff Christian is the CEO and founder of the search firm Christian and Timbers and two venture funds, who transformed the Executive Search industry. He is also as the author of The Headhunter’s Edge.

Dr. Tom Janz literally wrote the book on behavioral leadership Assessment: Behavior Description Interviewing.

Scott McGregor is a Silicon Valley entrepreneur and co-inventor of Web Conferencing and Prescient Agents  predictive analytics technologies, technologies that have changed the lives of over one billion individuals around the world.

Netanyahu wins, New York Times crestfallen

Against all odds, life and freedom have won, and Netanyahu has emerged the victor over those who would appease and accommodate the forces who proudly proclaim that they love death and destruction. The New York Times couldn’t be more furious, and vents its bile against Netanyahu in this spiteful piece charging him with running a “racist” and “divisive” campaign. Does anyone still persist in the fantasy that the New York Times is an objective, nonpartisan reporter of the news? If so, note the words and phrases I have highlighted in this petulant piece lamenting that the jihad enablers didn’t prevail.

“Netanyahu Ahead in Israel Election Over His Chief Rival,” by Jodi Rudoren, New York Times, March 17, 2015:

TEL AVIV — After a bruising campaign focused on his failings, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel emerged from Tuesday’s elections in the best position to form a new government, though he offended many voters and alienated allies in the process.

While the results were still incomplete early Wednesday, Israeli news sites reported that Mr. Netanyahu’s Likud party was likely to wind up with 30 of the 120 seats in Parliament, and that his chief rival, the center-left Zionist Union alliance, would take 24 seats.

The official Central Elections Committee site showed that with just over 68 percent of the votes counted, Likud had 23.3 percent of the vote to the Zionist Union’s 18.8 percent.

Earlier, exit polls had reported that the race was much closer, with Likud clinging to a narrow lead. But the actual results showed a surge for Likud and Mr. Netanyahu.

Mr. Netanyahu and his allies celebrated with singing and dancing. While his opponents vowed a fight, Israeli political analysts agreed that he had the advantage, with more votes having gone to the right-leaning parties likely to support him.

It was a turnabout from the last pre-election polls published Friday, which showed the Zionist Union, led by Isaac Herzog, with a four- or five-seat lead and building momentum. To bridge the gap, Mr. Netanyahu embarked on a last-minute scorched-earth campaign, promising that no Palestinian state would be established as long as he remained in office and insulting Arab citizens….

But it remained to be seen how his divisive — some said racist — campaign tactics would affect his ability to govern a fractured Israel.Citing the exit polls, Mr. Herzog celebrated what he called “an incredible achievement,” noting that his Labor Party had not won as many seats since 1992. He said he had formed a negotiating team in hopes of forming “a real social government in Israel” that “aspires to peace with our neighbors.”…

Mr. Netanyahu may be able to form a narrow coalition of nationalist and religious parties free of the ideological divisions that stymied his last government. That was what he intended when he called early elections in December. But such a coalition, with a slim parliamentary majority, might not last long.

In the coming days, President Reuven Rivlin will poll party leaders to see whom they prefer as prime minister and then charge Mr. Netanyahu or Mr. Herzog with trying to stitch together a coalition, though Mr. Rivlin said Tuesday night that he would suggest they join forces instead.

“I am convinced that only a unity government can prevent the rapid disintegration of Israel’s democracy and new elections in the near future,” he told the Israeli newspaper Haaretz….

Tuesday’s balloting came just 26 months after Israel’s last election, but the dynamic was entirely different. In 2013, there was no serious challenge to Mr. Netanyahu. That changed this time, when Mr. Herzog teamed up with Tzipi Livni to form the Zionist Union, an effort to reclaim the state’s founding pioneer philosophy from a right-wing that increasingly defines it in opposition to Palestinian aspirations….

Mr. Netanyahu talked mainly about the threats of an Iranian nuclear weapon and Islamic terrorism, addressing economics only in the final days. That was also when he made a sharp turn to the right, backing away from his 2009 endorsement of a two-state solution to the Palestinian conflict and sounding an alarm Tuesday morning that Arabs were voting “in droves.”

Many voters complained about a bitter campaign of ugly attacks and a lack of inspiring choices….

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Analysis: Netanyahu’s 2015 Victory

Two hours following the close of polls in Israel, Dan Diker, executive producer of Voice of Israel (VOI) and host of National Security presented a live review on air discussion and analysis with Mike Bates, host of Your Turn at Northwest Florida’s 1330 am WEBY and Jerry Gordon Senior Editor of the New English Review.  You may listen to the discussion, here.

The following are some of the issues addressed during the interview. They were based on the early exit polls.

The Jerusalem Post reported the changes in votes cast for Party Lists after 25% were counted showing vaulting of Likud seats to 35 and drop of Zionist Union to 25 and other dramatic changes. We will see if this trend continues as a full count is completed. Clearly, Prime Minister Netanyahu will be called by President Rivlin to form a majority ruling coalition. The impact of today’s Knesset vote vindicates Netanyahu’s wisdom is calling for an early election and will undoubtedly increase tensions with the Obama Administration, that are already strained.

The returns on voting from ballot boxes indicate that the Likud has significantly extended its lead over Zionist Union.

According to Israel Radio, officials have counted the votes of 25 percent of booths across the country. The results indicate that the Likud wins 32 Knesset seats while Zionist Union garners 25 seats.

Yesh Atid is the third-largest party with 11 seats, Moshe Kahlon’s Kulanu faction wins 10 seats, the Arab List nosedives to nine seats, the Sephardi ultra-Orthodox Shas movement wins eight seats, Naftali Bennett’s Bayit Yehudi dips further to seven seats, while Yisrael Beytenu, which has only mustered five seats, climbs to seven.

United Torah Judaism wins six seats while Meretz rounds out the list with five seats.

Narrow Right Wing Coalition with Religious Parties.  Netanyahu had claimed his narrow victory as a “great victory for our people”, despite his opponent, MK Yitzhak of Zionist Union, not conceding.  Diker called this an important victory for Prime Minister Netanyahu, whom he deems more flexible in being able to put together a narrow working coalition than can Zionist Union leader, Yitzhak Herzog.  Netanyahu had a one vote lead over Herzog, 28 to 27.  Diker believes that Netanyahu may pick up center right and the two Orthodox religious parties, United Torah Judaism and Shas.  He believes that Netanyahu could obtain 64 seats versus Herzog’s 57 to obtain a majority for a ruling coalition.  Diker’s assessment is that within a few days of such discussions that Israeli President Reuven Rivlin would call upon Netanyahu to form a majority ruling coalition in the 120 seat Knesset.  Diker credits Netanyahu’s surge from behind by last minute appeals to right wing groups distancing him from discussions leading to a possible Palestinian State.

Isolation of Joint Arab List.  Bates asked whether the third leading party with 13 seats, the Joint Arab List,  could join with the Zionist Union? Diker suggested that would alienate other minority parties on the left. Thus the consensus that while isolated, the Joint Arab List might become the equivalent of back benchers in the Knesset.

Security, Political and Economic Reform. Netanyahu, while viewed as strong on security vis a vis Iranian and proxy threats, Al Qaeda, and ISIS in the Sinai, would have to deal with political and economic reform issues in the new government concerning rising costs of living, lack of affordable housing, income disparity and poverty.

Bates observed that next to Ben Gurion, Netanyahu could be the longest serving Prime Minister having three consecutive terms, four overall.  Diker was clear that political reform had to be on the agenda in the 33rd Israeli government under Netanyahu as there have been 7 governments in the past 20 years indicating instability. That would be a prospect in the new Knesset given a narrow plurality if won by Likud and negotiations and bargaining with coalition partners over ministries, budgets and special projects in the ensuing 42 days assuming Netanyahu is called upon to form a majority coalition.

In view of that Diker raised the possible prospect of a national unity government with an offer by Netanyahu for Herzog and two smaller parties to join a unified stand on the overriding security issues, radical extremist threats, Iran’s increasing sphere of interest and nuclear project, assuming a P5+1 final agreement is reached.

Impact of Netanyahu’s U.S. Congress Speech. When Bates asked about the impact of Netanyahu’s March 3rd address before a joint meeting of Congress, Diker observed that in the run up to the PM’s Washington speech in late February, Likud gained in the polls, but fell back following his return from Washington giving the lead to Herzog of the Zionist Union. Diker observed that Netanyahu has great respect in Israel and Washington for his professional understanding of the Iran nuclear project and how to deal with it. Gordon asked if a Netanyahu’s victory on March 17th might embolden U.S. Congressional interests to bring up for consideration the proposed Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act of 2015?  Diker thought that Netanyahu’s victory would demonstrate Israeli support about US action to deter the threat of a nuclear equipped Iran.

On the impact of the anti-Netanyahu V 15 campaign and U.S. Senate Investigation. Bates asked whether the controversy about the One Voice V-15 anti-Netanyahu vote campaign had any impact on Israeli voting?   Diker did not think it did.  However, he pointed that both Netanyahu and Likud officials repeatedly mentioned large amounts of funding from foreign countries backing the Zionist Union campaign. Gordon asked whether Netanyahu’s victory might impact the U.S. Senate Permanent Investigations Subcommittee looking into possible abuse of Administration funding of the OneVoice V15 campaign. Diker thought that the bi-partisan Senate committee would still pursue its investigations to determine if any illegal activities occurred.

Capital and Media Abuses during Campaign.  Gordon addressed the media biases against  Netanyahu and the efforts by Yediot Ahronoth publisher Amon Mozes to unseat him. Diker pointed out that Mones’ son-in-law is Silvan Shalom, a Likud leader. Diker said this  anti-Netanyahu episode was troubling as it should how in a small country like Israel the power of  media  abuse can pursue unsubstantiated criticism to unseat a Prime Minister.

Stalled Off Shore Natural Gas Development. Gordon asked whether Netanyahu might address ending the virtual stoppage of Israel’s offshore gas and energy development? Diker said he thought Netanyahu had other priorities like cost of living, income disparities, housing and poverty. Nevertheless, Israel should not in his view be killing the growth of gas and energy resources to achieve energy independence and earn both tax and royalty income from export to Europe and other markets.

Building Housing in Area C. Gordon asked whether the housing issues raised in the Knesset campaign might give rise to construction in Area C in Judea? Diker suggested that was one viable solution for which the new government might provide incentives for production of affordable housing.  He noted that the Palestinians had agreed to allow Israel to build in Area C in 1995. However, it is a political hot potato given opposition in both Washington and in the EU. He noted that Naftali Bennett, Jewish Home party leader, a likely Netanyahu coalition partner, had promoting this possibility during his electoral campaign.

Demise of Yisrael Beytenu. On the fall of the Yisrael Beteinu (YB) party during the waning days of the campaign, Diker attributed that to corruption in the circle around its leader, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, noting that YB lost half of its expected yield of 10 seats, reduced to five in the final tally.

Bates and Gordon will be interviewed on Diker’s VOI National Security program on Sunday, March 22nd at 3:00 PM (Israel Time).

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EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared in the New English Review. The featured image is of Prime Minister elect Benjamin Netanyahu speaking in the wake of the election. Photo by AFP.

How Fateful are Israel’s Knesset Elections on March 17th?

Sunday, March 15th, the Voice of Israel (VOI) Global Radio System aired a “National Security” program with Executive Producer and host Dan Diker and guests Dr. Harold Rhode former Pentagon Islamic Affairs expert, Distinguished Gatestone Institute Senior Fellow and Bassem Eid Arab correspondent for VOI. Eid is founder of the Jerusalem-based Palestinian Human Rights Monitoring Group. The thought provoking title was “Whom Do Radical Islamists Want as Israel’s Next Prime Minister?

This is a must listen program for all those concerned about Israel’s future in the run up to Tuesday’s March 17th Israeli Knesset elections.  Those elections have more than 20 parties competing for 120 seats. It will pit the current ruling coalition Likud government led by PM Benjamin Netanyahu against the Zionist Union headed by MK Yitzhak Herzog and former Justice Minister of Hatnuah, Tzipi Livni. There is also a new emerging factor. A coalition negotiated following the Knesset elections. It could include a Joint Arab List that might secure upwards of 13 to 15 seats. The Joint Arab List electoral results might possibly bolster the Zionist Union led opposition, including the leftist Meretz party, seeking to be given the nod to form a ruling coalition if selected by Israel President Reuven Rivlin. The VOI will have extensive live and extended coverage of these important Israeli Knesset elections on March 17th.

You may register and listen live to the VOI here.

Overarching this Knesset elections were disclosures this weekend of the U.S. Senate Permanent Investigations Subcommittee addressing complaints by PM Netanyahu of “foreign country involvement.” This is a reference to reports that the U.S. Administration has funded NGOs engaged in possible anti-Netanyahu “anyone but Bibi” vote campaigns among the country’s Arab and urban Jewish voters. The effort involves former Obama Presidential campaign field operations staff headed by Jeremy Bird of 270 Strategies.   Support has come from major Obama Jewish Democratic contributors and possibly State Department funding of NGOs.  Whether the Administration would prefer a new Israeli government whose policies might materially affect the national security and sovereignty of Jewish nation is at question?

This  Ides of March VOI “National Security” program, is a fascinating and elucidating commentary about the  dynamics of the contending forces in the regional  Muslim communities,  both Shia and Sunni, and  views of the US Administration as an unreliable ally. That is reflected in the views of Saudi -backed Al Arabiya  that gave  high marks to PM Netanyahu for standing up to the threat posed by  the Islamic State,  Iran  and proxies Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad  and Hezbollah. As pointed out by Dr. Rhode, Al Arabiya, strongly endorsed Netanyahu’s address before the Joint Meeting of Congress on March 3rd seeking to obtain a better deal to deter Iran from achieving nuclear hegemony in the region. There is also discussion of Egypt’s President Al-Sisi’s emerging role of importance trying to fashion a Sunni regional coalition of forces, the equivalent of a NATO – type organization to confront IS.  Al-Sisi’s New Year’s speech in  Cairo, before Al Azhar and the Awqfar  Ministry,  espoused reform of underlying Qur’anic doctrine  that has returned to the takfir purist form of Islam emblematic of the apocalyptic IS, a self styled Caliphate. A Caliphate that as Dr. Rhode pointed out may have been fostered originally by Shia Mahdist Iran now ironically engaged in combating IS in Iraq.

Rhode and Diker suggested that if a more compliant Israel government was elected on Tuesday that IS and Hamas cells in the West Bank and Hezbollah with Iran on the Golan might foment possible trouble.  Iran, as noted by Diker and Rhode, is rapidly spreading its hegemony threatening the region from Yemen on the Red Sea, across the Arabian Peninsula to the shores of the Persian Gulf and through Iraq and Syria to Lebanon on the Mediterranean coast. An Iran whose nuclear quest may have already triggered nuclear proliferation with Saudi Arabia’s disclosure of a recent nuclear development deal with South Korea.  We found fascinating the discussion among Diker, Rhode and Bassem Eid, astute VOI Arab correspondent, on the internal Israel Arab Muslim divide over the question of whether they would support the United Arab List.

Bassem disclosed the previously not well known fact that 60 percent of Israeli Arab Muslims are more likely to vote for Jewish parties as loyal citizens rather than for the Arab list. The Party’s leaders are more concerned about Israel as an ‘apartheid state’.  They have fashioned seditious relations with Ramallah, Gaza, Damascus and even Tehran and all   enemies of Israel. Bassem also noted that the Palestinians view the Likud government and Netanyahu as more reliable with honoring commitments than prior experiences with both Labor and Kadima governments.  Rhode explained that regional Arabs view favorably the Israeli democratic traditions that Arab Muslim citizens enjoy. He told of the impact of that on the Egyptian body guards of the late President Anwar Sadat when he came to Jerusalem in 1977 to give a speech before the Knesset. They noted, he said, the sharp contrast between the quiet respect paid to President Sadat when he spoke and the vigorous debates in the Knesset chamber that followed his address.  The VOI program offers insights into what might occur Tuesday when Israel votes for the 33rd Knesset.  The comments of these American and Israeli experts raise serious questions about the objectives of the US Administration Vis a vis a P5+1 non-binding deal to facilitate Iran’s nuclear hegemony.

Monday, March 16th, this writer and Mike Bates, co-host of Northwest Florida’s Talk Radio 1330 am WEBY will be interviewed by VOI National Security host Dan Diker. That recorded program will address Obama Administration funding via State Department AID and US Jewish moguls involved with OneVoice, V-15 and the Abraham Fund to get out the anti-Bibi vote in Israel. The program will also delve into controversy surrounding Sen. Cotton’s ‘Iran letter’. That controversy has led to revelations suggesting that  the Administration is striving to establish a  rapprochement with the Islamic Republic of Iran  avoiding Congressional review instead  seeking a  nuclear agreement  by the P5+1 at the UN  via a Security Council resolution.  That could result in lifting more than an estimated $70 billion in UN financial sanctions against Iran held in US banks controlled by the US Treasury, Office of Foreign Assets Control.  Sunday talk show criticism of the Cotton letter to the leaders of the Islamic Republic of Iran by Secretary of State Kerry and former Secretary Madeleine Albright on CBS’ Face the Nation were contested by Sen. Cotton who drew attention to the precedent of a non verifiable deal made during the Clinton Administration with North Korea that eventuated in the latter’s creating a nuclear stockpile of weapons 12 years later.

Tuesday, VOI host Diker will join Northwest Florida’s talk radio 1330 am WEBY periodic Middle East Round Table co-hosts Bates and Gordon to report first returns from what many consider the fateful 2015 Knesset elections during 4:00 PM CST (5:00 PM EST) segment of “Your Turn”.

Listen Live here.

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared in the New English Review.

Israel’s March 17th Knesset Election: Political Intrigue, Yellow Journalism and Economic Brinkmanship

When Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called for a snap election in December 2014 for next Tuesday, March 17th, it was on the basis that he would be popularly returned to serve an unprecedented third term as the Jewish nation’s political leader.  That prediction is now ancient history, given what has has turned into one of the nastiest of Israel’s Knesset elections.  While he has admirers outside of Israel exemplified by his laser-like focus on the dangers of Iran bent on obtaining a nuclear weapon, that doesn’t appear to be the case inside Israel in the midst of the current electoral campaign. Some in Israel and abroad looking at the alleged dead heat between Likud and the so-called Zionist Union in notoriously-biased polls in Israel say, in retrospect, perhaps Bibi made a mistake. Add to that the biased print and even TV media in Israel that have waged a daily war against him touting the meme of “anyone but Bibi”.  He has been chastised for some maladroit TV political spots. The opposition has emblazoned phony $100 bills with his punim (face in Hebrew) trying to make him out as the poster boy for plutocrats. The left in Israel accuse him of pushing the economic land values in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem into the stratosphere out of range of young families who need affordable housing. All while many secular Jews have found such housing in the forbidden zone, the disputed territories of Judea and Samaria driving the population in those so-called settlements to more than 350,000. Last Saturday evening there was a monster rally in Tel Aviv with overblown estimates of the crowd ranging from “tens of thousands to over 400,000” who thronged Rabin Square.  Israel’s economy overall is booming, jobs are being created, overseas direct investment is pouring into “silicon wadi” from across the globe.

Nonetheless the country’s economic future and wealth creation is being constrained by the dead hand of the dual economic structure in basic sectors controlled by the remnants of the Histadrut Labor Federation. Regulation by mind numbing bureaucracies defies imagination in the mixed economies of the West. It is exemplified, by the virtual stop of development of Israel’s significant off shore gas fields. Their development could pour billions into the economy, alleviate the burden of defense in the country’s budget and greatly enhance productivity and job creation. Billions have been spent by a joint US-Israeli partnership on that development and billions of royalty and tax revenues were about to flow.  That stoppage is attributable to Dr. David Gilo, who heads the independent Israel Antitrust Authority who unilaterally pulled the plug within days of PM Netanyahu’s calling a snap Knesset election in December 2014. Gilo issued a consent decree accusing the U.S.-Israel partners of constituting an anti-competitive cartel.  Recently Gilo suggested that any final resolution of the impasse would have to wait until after next Tuesday’s Knesset elections. Cynics abound accusing Gilo of being a political hack of the left opposition.

The left opposition itself isn’t robust. The Zionist Union was the merger of Netanyahu’s former Justice Minister Tzipi Livni’s party Hatnuah and the Labor Party. The Labor Party, resuscitated from a near death spiral, is headed by Yitzhak Herzog.  Israel’s antique political system, the proportional representation for Party lists, is plagued by jockeying among the many parties for membership in so-called ruling coalition governments for control of a majority of the 120 Knesset seats. Israelis cast ballots for the party lists. The country’s basic law does not have the equivalent of ridings as in the Westminster or Canadian Parlia mentary systems or Congressional Districts here in the US. A suggested change in the proportion for party representation under Israel’s basic law of 5.00 was compromised at 3.25 percent in a March 2014 Knesset vote. This was a marginal increase from the previous threshold of 2 Percent.  That led the Arab list of parties, harboring seditious MKs, to announce a unified list that enabled them to pick up 11 mandates in the new Knesset. That led the Zionist Union to consider a possible alliance with Arab MKs to join the government and possibly fill Ministerial posts. The polls currently bounce around showing on any given day a swing of three votes giving Likud a lead one day and on another day the Zionist Union. There is a 20 Percent undecided which has to be factored into final outcome. That might break in favor of Netanyahu and Likud. The only poll that counts in Israel is the one on March 17th in the polling booths.

In the midst of this roiling unseemly campaign, classic yellow journalism has reared its ugly head in the form of a disinformation campaign by one of largest dailies, Yediot Ahronoth (YA).  But first let’s set the stage by looking at the media and the major opponents in this titanic struggle.

Most of Israel’s dailies like Ha’aretzMa’ariv and YA align their editorial and news slants with the left opposition in Israel. Channel 2 and 10, the government owned outlets, also engage in broadcasting opinion as news; especially with it comes to the Netanyahu government. The media is unstinting about uncovering whiffs of corruption such as the alleged lavish spending on cleaning at the PM’s official and other residences following a report by the Auditor General.

The lone exception is Israel Hayom (IH), a virtually free newspaper widely distributed  and funded in large measure by American billionaire Sheldon Adelson.  IH is the newspaper of record of the center right in Israel, Likud and Habayit Hayehudi (The Jewish Home) headed by  Naftali Bennett, a former IDF Special Forces commando and high tech centi-millionaire. Bennett had a center left counterpart headed by former Israeli TV news reader, Yair Lapid, whose Yesh Atid party levered the grumblings of what passed for the Israeli version of the Occupy Movement.  That movement sought to obtain increases in government social programs and housing allotments.  Some might argue forgiveness for over draft checking account bank balances that many Israel families use to keep body and soul together. Both Bennett and Lapid held ministerial posts in the Netanyahu cabinet until a blow up with Netanyahu resulted in Lapid and Livni, the former Justice Minister, being fired.

The owner of YAArnon Mozes, sought last weekend to destroy Netanyahu’s center right alliance with a report last Friday that the Prime Minister had sanctioned a 2013 peace proposal created by the US to provide concessions including dividing Israel’s eternal capital of Jerusalem.  It is alleged his objective was to divide the center right, defeating another term for Netanyahu and scoring a tie vote resulting in a unity government. Israel’s President Reuven Rivlin had suggested that as a possibility. A majority of Israelis (53%) polled about that prospect rejected it.  Mozes’ manipulation of the truth led to rejection by Likud and Netanyahu and ultimately by US Ambassador Dennis Ross and a PA negotiator as a total fabrication.  Ross was cited by IH saying, that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “never agreed to Israeli withdrawal to 1967 borders, dividing Jerusalem or the right of return.”

That didn’t stop the editors at Bloomberg from published a  column by Dr. Daniel Gordis, an American ordained Conservative rabbi, who made aliyah  to Israel with his family in 1998.  Next to CNN in the US, Bloomberg has a pronounced bias in favor of the Administration in Washington that would dearly welcome a possible defeat for Likud and Netanyahu.  Gordis had been the founding dean of the Zeigler School of Theology at the University of Judaism in Los Angeles.  He is widely published, an author whose books have won Jewish National Book awards. His columns and articles have been featured in publications like the New York Times and Commentary in the US andAzure Quarterly in Israel.  He serves as Senior Vice President and  Koret Distinguished Fellow at Shalem College in Jerusalem.  He writes a regular column — “A Dose of Nuance” — for the Jerusalem Post.  When Operation Defensive Edge broke out last summer in the third rocket war by Hamas, Bloomberg approached him to write a “View Column” seeking to explain Israel and its conflicts to an international audience.  Many follow his columns on the quotidian experiences of his family and children in their absorption into Israeli society. As his children entered mandatory IDF service, we got impressions of the families concerns for their safety and evidence of their resourcefulness in coping. His most recent and well regard book is Menachem Begin: The Battle for Israel’s Soul.

That was yesterday.

The most recent Bloomberg View Column by Gordis was entitled “Netanyahu Campaign Hit by Perfect Storm”.  Gordis portrays Netanyahu as caught up in a web of vitriol by the media and opposition taking shots at the Prime Minister, as well as shooting himself in the foot. Gordis begins with former Mossad emuneh (the “boss”) Meir Dagan  speaking at the monster rally  in Tel Aviv raising the ire of the leftist anti-Netanyahu throng saying, “ Israel is in the worst crisis since its creation”.  Dagan, as you may recall indicated that Iran was incapable of producing a nuclear weapon.  As Israel’s intelligence chief, Dagan also missed the eruption of the Arab Spring and rise of Salafist Supremacist groups like ISIS surrounding Israel. The New Statesman cited him in 2012 with this mea culpa statement:

We didn’t anticipate the timing and we didn’t anticipate the magnitude, but we did think there were severe structural problems. It is important to say that, in terms of the intelligence agencies, their principal focus is not the people but what the governments think. If the governments are surprised, we too are going to be surprised.

Gordis then serves up a Likud TV ad with  depiction of a mobile phone executive, a lazy port worker and a Hamas terrorist, calling it “stupid and offensive”. He cites a YA article published Monday with a response  from a Likud candidate, an Airport Authority director, saying that workers told him they wouldn’t vote for Bibi because the ad  showed them consorting with terrorists. Defense Minister Ya’alon provided thin cover alleging  that the PM didn’t know the content, despite  Netanyahu being filmed reading the lines.  The coup de grace is the now defamed YA fraudulent report about Bibi’s alleged acquiescence to dividing Jerusalem. Gordis then goes after Netanyahu:

On Sunday night, apparently seeking to prove that Netanyahu has not softened, the Likud announced that the prime minister no longer supports the two-state solution. Hours later, Netanyahu denied he ever said that. The Likud is desperate, struggling to keep the ship afloat in a storm that keeps growing stronger.

It has been a steep and precipitous fall since those glory moments on the podium before the U.S. Congress. Netanyahu is clearly in trouble. The two major questions that will determine the outcome of next week’s election are what number of Likud voters will actually abandon the right-wing camp, and whether fear of Tzipi Livni as prime minister will prevent many people from voting Labor (now the Zionist Union).

Gordis returning to Israeli President Rivlin’s unity-government suggestion concludes:

For Netanyahu, the specter of a unity government is painfully ironic. It was a unity government in 1967, just before the Six Day War, that [brought] Menachem Begin (Likud’s founder) into the government. If Israelis end up with a unity government in the next few weeks, the looming question will be whether these elections were a slight bump in Likud’s enduring run, or whether they signal the gradual return to power of Labor, which — beginning in January 1949 — ruled this country uninterrupted for 29 years.

The editors at Bloomberg View didn’t check the breaking news on the YA yellow journalism about the defamed 2013 report on Netanyahu’s alleged agreement to return to the 1967 lines, meaning the 1949 Armistice Line. Why bother when Gordis provided ample ammunition to damage his reputation misleading Bloomberg readers with his lack of fact checking and biases. Now, we await the results in next Tuesday’s Israeli elections.  Whatever those results are will set the stage for negotiations by the leading party selected by Israel’s President to form a ruling coalition for the 33rd Government of Israel. But never before in the Jewish nation’s history has there so many foreign interests opposing the current government led by PM Netanyahu. That is the most troubling aspect of these elections.

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared in the New English Review.

Gas Pains During Israel’s Election

Polls in Israel are notoriously biased by the polling organizations. Probably worse than in the US. As Mike Bates, my colleague at 1330am WEBY’in Florida, said, during a recent Voice of Israel  National Security segment, “you only get the response your are seeking by asking biased questions”. That may explain a lot about why Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu got only a modest bounce overall in Israeli polls following his compelling address before a Joint Meeting of Congress on March 3rd.  Some polls had results that favored Netanyahu’s speech and views about the overarching threats to Israel’s security on Israel’s Golan frontier and a looming nuclear one from apocalyptic Shia Mahdist regime in Iran.

What is perplexing is why the opposition in Israel during the last 10 days of the upcoming March 17th Knesset elections is pounding home the line of “anyone but Bibi”. The so-called Zionist Union with former Justice Minister Tzipi Livni of Hatnua and Labor Party leader, Yitzhak Herzog, aka Tzipi and Bluji, were reaching out to the Unified Arab list to form a working coalition so that they might be selected to form a  government.  Perhaps they were seeking to be included in a rotating government should a draw occur with the Likud party list headed by PM Netanyahu.  The Zionist Union appears to follow the line set by the Obama White House that Netanyahu has torn the fabric of the long enduring relations between the US and Israel. They further contend that he has  thrown  over a possible peace deal with the corrupt Palestinian Authority in an uneasy alliance with terror group Hamas. A peace deal virtually dividing Jerusalem along the 1949 Armistice line.  What legendary Foreign Minister Abba Eban called the “Auschwitz Line”.  There are even leftist extremists among the supporters of the  Zionist Union party list who favor replacing the Jewish nation’s anthem, “Hatikvah – the Hope”, because they consider it ‘racist”.

It would appear that Netanyahu will need all on the luck of the loyal Yiddish sons of Ireland on St. Patrick’s Day to win, let along form the next ruling coalition in the new Knesset.

There is a more troubling aspect of the 2015 Knesset election. It is  the debacle over a major impetus to the spectacular growth of Israel, exploitation of its significant offshore gas fields. The prospect has been been hamstrung by the December 2014 ruling of the country’s independent Israel Antitrust Authority (IAA) headed by former Tel Aviv University law professor, Dr. David Gilo.  That ruling, as we have written, accused the partnership of Houston, Texas-based Noble Energy, Inc., Israel’s Delek Drilling Partners and Ratio Oil of being a cartel. It  requested  that  the partners sign a consent decree forcing them to  sell the existing Tamar offshore gas field virtually stopping  development of the Leviathan field in Israel’s Exclusive Economic Zone.  This after $6 billion was spent to develop the off shore gas fields, denying the realization of an estimated $65 billion in future royalty values to Israel.  Gilo revealed that he was an ally  of  the opposition Zionist Union slate when he virtually kicked the can down the road until after the March 17th election. One wonders if he would cancel his consent decree calling the  Noble Energy – Delek partnerships a cartel if a new government was led by the opposition Zionist Union?  He is intent on fixing the price of gas by placing a cap on it.  The Netanyahu  National Economic Council,  Infrastructure and Energy Ministries produced a convoluted proposed solution to the IAA cartel consent decree.  Dr. Gilo and the governmen authors of the failed alternative proposal are reportedto be  off on a junket to The Netherlands to see how they regulate their on-shore and offshore North Sea gas fields.

All of this comes on the cusp of the March 17th election. There has been some good-bad news about the idiocy of the IAA recommendations.  Professor Norman Bailey of Haifa University, a former Reagan National Security official, lambasted the IAA cartel  consent decree stopping  Israel’s gas development in a March 5, 2014 Globes Israel Business article,  “Antitrust commissioner spoiling the picture”:

On the other side of the ledger, however, is the ongoing crisis of offshore gas development, triggered by the December decision by David Gilo, director of the Antitrust Authority, to renege on his agreement of the previous March with the developers, Noble Energy of the US and the Israeli Delek and Ratio groups, demanding that they relinquish control of either the Tamar or the Leviathan gas fields.

As a result of that reversal, development of the Leviathan field has ceased, Jordan and Egypt are looking for alternative sources of gas, such as Cyprus’ Aphrodite field, and Edison of Italy has withdrawn from consideration of a bid on the development of the smaller Karish and Tanin fields. A committee set up by the government proposed a compromise settlement so complex and unworkable that it was immediately rejected by all sides and withdrawn.

Now the Ministry of Energy has reported that in 2014, the first full year of production from the Tanin field, the government earned 744 million shekels in royalties, expected to rise to 820 billion this year “…and climb to 3.2-3/4 billion by 2019, PROVIDED THAT PLANS FOR EXPANDING THE …GAS RESERVOIRS ARE CARRIED OUT WITHOUT ANY DELAY CAUSED BY THE RECENT EVENTS IN THE ENERGY SECTOR.” (emphasis mine) It goes on to say “The contribution of natural gas to the Israeli economy is extremely significant”.

The Globes headline said it all about the current dilemma, “David Gilo’s zigzag on Noble Energy and Delek’s gas holdings is an economic and political wrecking move.”  Those royalties from the Tanin  gas field, Globes reported were up by more than 40% over earlier estimates. Our colleague Shoshana Bryen  of The Jewish Policy in Washington, DC told us that Professor Bailey will have more to say on Israel’s gas pains in the next quarterly journal  of the JPC’s inFocus.  Her comment on the current situation was  that if Israel’s  offshore gas development is not speedily resolved it could delay develpment by more than three decades.

Criticism  of Gilo and the IAA’s consent decree on off shore gas regulation also came from Shraga Brosh, of the National Manufacturers Association, in a  March 1, 2015Globes article:

An examination by the Manufacturers Association Research Department of the macroeconomic effects of a delay in development of the Leviathan reservoir found that already in 2018-2019, the economy will lose NIS 15.5 billion from a delay in development of the reservoir. 57% of the loss will consist of lost state tax revenues and royalties. The remaining 43% will result from extra energy costs  paid by the economy.”

Brosh added, “The government decided to combat bureaucracy and excess regulation only a few months ago, but by 2018, the current regulators will probably no longer be in their positions, while we, the citizenry, will be left to pay the prices of their irresponsibility.”

We had earlier noted that the royalties from revenues produced  by Israel’s off shore gas fields would finance a Sovereign Wealth Fund for invest both domestically and abroad. Moreover, tax revenues produced from the gas fields revenues could materially offset the current defense expenditures that claim over 17% of Israel’s budget.  There may even be funds made available to take care of social programs and housing issues behind opposition complaints.  But Gilo, Tzipi and Bluji appear indifferent to that largess  for Israel  arising from the offshore gas developments.

MIT- educated PM Netanyahu has assiduously navigated the shoals of conflicting Knesset coalition partners to foster a more open economy than the one  the country’s Labor Socialist founders created. We should recall that during the Second Yishuv pre-state period, leading sectors of  Israel’s economy, were created by the Histadrut Labor Federation, including the country’s health program, construction, Israel Electric Corporation, the Dead Sea Works and Israel Chemicals Limited. One example is Koor Industries.  Koor was  a conglomerate of consumer retail, electronics, fertilizer, pesticides  and even bio tech enterprises that  has been partially broken up through privatization.

Israel has talented world ranked economists and well respected entrepreneurs. This is  reflected in billions of investments in high tech sector start ups and direct investments by firms like Intel, Microsoft and recently Chinese firms.  Israel’s current gas pains arise from the IAA director general’s misshapen economic views which may be the last gasp of the Socialist Labor origins of the country’s economy. Instead of Dr. Gilo running junkets to Holland, he might best read  Austrian  émigré Friedrich Von Hayek’s, The Road to Serfdom. As The Economist wrote in 2014 about the debates between Von Hayek of the London School and Lord Keynes at Cambridge University:

[von Hayek] “argued that the extension of central planning is the start of the growth of constraints on individual liberty, which inevitably leads to the emergence of tyrannical regimes, both communist and fascist in nature.”

Let us hope that the Israeli polity will see the wisdom in returning Netanyahu as Prime Minister following the March 17th Knesset elections.  Perhaps, one of his first orders of business following formation of a new government might be to eliminate Israel’s gas pains so that the Jewish nation has a robust economic future to complement its national security and social program needs.

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared in the New English Review. The featured image is of the Tamar gas field in Mediterranean Sea. Photo: Albatross Aerial Photography.

Congress has no problem holding these men to a term limit, but refuses to limit itself by Nick Tomboulides

I bet you didn’t know that most members of Congress do support term limits. The catch is, these limits apply only to the president’s tenure – not their own careers.

Under Article V of the Constitution, Congress has the power to introduce and vote on any constitutional amendment, which is then brought before the states for ratification. It’s the same method Congress used to add eight-year presidential term limits to the Constitution in 1947-1951.

That also means Congress is empowered – at any time – to pass an amendment bill to REPEAL presidential term limits. It never happens. Though Rep. Jose Serrano (D-NY) routinely introduces such a bill, it gets about as much momentum (read: none) as silly proposals to change the flag or create a national jaywalking database.

The dismal support for a repeal of presidential limits can only be read one way: as Congress endorsing the idea of term limits and honoring the public’s high approval for it. But this places America’s ruling class in a tough predicament. How can legislators claim with a straight face that the president should be term-limited but they should get to stay in office forever?

Think about it. All of the flimsy arguments legislators make against term limits on themselves also apply to the president. While Rep. Serrano may be more in disagreement with U.S. Term Limits than any other legislator, we have great respect for his logical consistency. The same can’t be said for his colleagues, who hypocritically oppose term limits on their own jobs while simultaneously upholding them on the president.

Perhaps they all want to be president someday, which would necessitate the job opening up on a regular basis. Well, that’s how teachers, firefighters, small business owners and ordinary Americans feel about Congress. They too would like to serve someday, but they sense that a cabal of unaccountable insiders has taken over, callously refusing to let go out of fear it cannot find a better job.

Contact your member of Congress and tell them you’re sick and tired of the double standard. Tell them “Since you support term limits on the President, you should be consistent by working to enact them on your own office.”

ABOUT US TERM LIMITS:

“Term Limits is known as the largest grassroots movement in American history, and US Term Limits (USTL) was, and still is, the leader of that movement”

Term limits have been placed on 15 state legislatures, eight of the ten largest cities in America adopted term limits for their city councils and/or mayor, and 37 states place term limits on their constitutional officers.

USTL stands up against government malpractice. We are the voice of the American citizen. We want a government of the people, by the people, and for the people- not a ruling class who care more about deals to benefit themselves, than their constituents.

We have worked tirelessly with citizens all across the nation, helping them better understand why term limits are a necessary government reform, and how to implement that vision from your town council, to Congress.

Presidential Candidate Jeb Bush and the Albatross of Common Core

In her column, “Your Common Core Marketing Overlords,” Michelle Malkin revealed that Jeb Bush’s non-profit, Foundation for Excellence in Education, was among those saturating the airwaves with pro-Common Core commercials last spring.  The foundation, she charged, was “tied at the hip” to the federally funded testing consortium (one of two) called PARCC (Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers).

It’s hard to believe that education may be a determining factor in a presidential election, as it seems to be in 2016, and that it’s due to Common Core.  Back in 2012, polling revealed that nearly 80 percent of Americans knew “nothing” or “not much” about Common Core.  That was three years after the Common Core national standards were quietly agreed to by governors in the Race to the Top competition for a share of $4.35 billion in stimulus funds.

Since that time a grassroots movement of parents, teachers, and citizens has put Common Core on the national political map.  Radio talk show host Hugh Hewitt called Common Core the “defining issue” of the presidential race.  He cited Berkeley professor of public policy David Kirp’s New York Times column, “Rage Against the Common Core.”

Top establishment contender, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, however, faces his “biggest challenge” from Common Core.  That is Karl Rove’s estimation.

Jeb Bush: Education Governor?

Rove’s assessment is ironic given that at the end of his term in 2007 Bush was heralded as the education governor and praised for raising educational outcomes.

Jamie Gass, Director of the Center for School Reform at the Pioneer Institute, says, “I don’t think they anticipated it going this way.”

How did this happen?

Florida State University Political Science Professor Robert Crew claims that Jeb Bush’s A Plus Plan, of grading public schools on a scale of A through F, is seen as a forerunner to Common Core.  It was not popular in Florida, although it did not receive the “vociferous disagreement” he says that Bush has gotten from the tea party for Common Core.

Bush’s claims for education achievement, however, have been revealed as exaggerated.  A 2011 New York Times article noted that under his tenure scores in math and reading improved in the early grades, but dropped off after fourth grade, falling below the national average by twelfth grade.  Off the record, conservative policy analysts say that Bush’s figures were massaged to make them appear better than they were.

Just the Base?

The Hill, in an article titled, “Will Common Core Sink Bush?” concluded, “As a general election issue, education reform barely registers on the list of voter concerns nationally.” Voters “energized by Common Core” wouldn’t be considering Bush as a candidate to begin with.  In other words, it’s a problem with the base, such as those who attended the recent Iowa Freedom Summit.  All six of the potential candidates attending stated their opposition to Common Core.  Bush did not attend.

But Bloomberg News reported on February 1 that its own poll conducted with the Des Moines Register found that nearly two-thirds of likely participants in Iowa’s caucuses consider Bush’s positions on immigration and Common Core to be deal-killers.

Bush’s Common Core problem may extend beyond the base.  A recent PDK/Gallup poll showed that 76 percent of all Republicans object to Common Core.  A firm majority of Americans – 60 percent – oppose Common Core.  Even the Democratic Party of Washington State passed a resolution opposing the Common Core standards on January 24.  This action follows similar Republican resolutions in 2012 at the state party level and in the Republican National Committee.

Who still likes Common Core?

With parents and teachers of both political parties abandoning Common Core, who is left that likes it? Apparently, the profiteers: companies and their non-profit arms. For example, in technology, it’s Microsoft/Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation; in curriculum development, it’s Pearson Publishing/Pearson Charitable Foundation.  The Chamber of Commerce at the national level, today known more for its support of crony capitalism than small, independent businesses, supports it.  And, of course, there are the politicians who get their campaign contributions.

This is Jeb Bush’s problem. 

In her column, “Your Common Core Marketing Overlords,” Michelle Malkin revealed that Jeb Bush’s non-profit Foundation for Excellence in Education was among those saturating the airwaves with pro-Common Core commercials last spring.  The foundation, she charged, was “tied at the hip” to the federally funded testing consortium (one of two) called PARCC (Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers).  One of the top corporate sponsors of FEE, the giant publisher Pearson, profited by $23 million to design PARCC test items and $1 billion for overpriced, insecure iPads for the Los Angeles Unified School District.  In December, Pearson, Inc. agreed to pay $7.7 million to the New York State attorney general for illegally using its non-profit arm to create products to be sold to its for-profit arm.

The Washington Post reported that FEE has been pushing states to embrace digital learning in public schools, with many of those digital products made by donors to Bush’s foundation, “including Microsoft, Intel, News Corp., Pearson PLC, and K12 Inc.”  A New Yorker article too catalogued in detail the billions entangled in “education reform.”

Bush’s position on Common Core has drawn criticism even from those who praise his tenure as governor, as Rep. Debbie Mayfield, Vero Beach, Florida, does.  She claims Common Core is an attempt to impose a national (and unconstitutional) education plan.  “Parents are being pushed out,” as local school boards are stripped of power, she says.

How to Convince Voters

Mike McShane, a research fellow in education policy at the American Enterprise Institute told The Hill that Bush could make it clear that, although he supports the Common Core standards, he would ensure that the federal government would not be pushing it on the states.

But activists have spent years trying to extricate their states from Common Core.  Attempts in Georgia, as I observed, failed because of money interests that have become entrenched in the state with the help of the federal government.

Jane Robbins, Senior Fellow at American Principles in Action, blames “the powerful education establishment (not to be confused with teachers).”  Jeb Bush who has come to be the “very face of Common Core” will not reassure voters with promises not to push the standards through the federal government.

Voters will remember his dismissive attitude towards those who disagree with him, says Robbins: “He’ll have a tough time winning over parents whom he has accused of wanting ‘mediocrity’ for their children.”

Bush is passionately defending his education record, though. The Hill reported that Bush went off script during a speech before the Detroit Economic Club on February 4, and “thundered about how his education initiatives turned the Florida education system around.”  A Bush spokesperson told the paper that the speech was not a defense of Common Core “in particular, but that he still supports the higher standards associated with the practice.”

On February 10, protestors were ready for Bush’s address at an education summit hosted by the Foundation for Florida’s Future, an education nonprofit he founded.  That day, he went even further, omitting the words, “Common Core,” according to Politico and other sources. Although the Politico article mentions only the Democratic Progressive Caucus, it was confirmed to me that there were also conservatives protesting.

It seems that Bush has a bipartisan problem on his hands with Common Core.

EDITORS NOTE: The column originally appeared on the Selous Foundation For Public Policy Research website. The featured image is of former Florida Governor Jeb Bush accompanying President Obama and Education Secretary Arne Duncan at Miami Central Senior High School in March 2011. Photo: AP-Pablo Martinez Monsivais.

Why Jews Vote Leftist?

Ben Shapiro takes a clear-eyed look at why American Jews vote for the anti-Israel Left.