If the President Wants to Minimize GHG Emissions, He’ll Approve the Keystone Pipeline

The State Department released its final report on the environmental impacts of the Keystone XL pipeline. It not only pulls the rug out from a key argument of pipeline opponents, but it puts the president in an awkward position.

[youtube]http://youtu.be/d-Gn6UpmK-A[/youtube]

First, the report undercuts pipeline opponents’ claims that stopping the construction of Keystone XL would block development of oil sands crude development in Canada:

[A]pproval or denial of any one crude oil transport project, including the proposed Project, is unlikely to significantly impact the rate of extraction in the oil sands or the continued demand for heavy crude oil at refineries in the United States based on expected oil prices, oil-sands supply costs, transport costs, and supply-demand scenarios.

The report states that oil transport by rail is “already occurring in substantial volumes,” and “rail will likely be able to accommodate new production if new pipelines are delayed or not constructed.”

In short, blocking Keystone XL will not stop oil sands crude development in Canada.

Second, the report debunks arguments that a pipeline is the most environmentally dangerous of all scenarios. It looked at alternative scenarios if Keystone XL wasn’t approved—i.e. “No Action/maintaining the status quo–and compared their environmental impacts to the proposed pipeline.

The alternative scenarios all have higher greenhouse gas emissions associated with them than Keystone XL. From the report: “The total annual GHG emissions (direct and indirect) attributed to the No Action scenarios range from 28 to 42 percent greater than for the proposed.”

Impacts of Keystone XL alternatives [table]

If the president is as concerned with minimizing greenhouse gas emissions as he says he is, then he should give the pipeline the go-ahead.

Along with its environmental analysis, the report reaffirms the economic benefits from construction of the pipeline that were stated in the draft EIS:

  • 42,100 new jobs.
  • $2 billion in earnings.
  • $3.4 billion added to U.S. GDP.

Tom Donohue, President and CEO of the U.S. Chamber commented on the release of the report:

The State Department has once again found nothing in its environmental analysis that would prevent the Keystone XL pipeline from moving forward. It’s time for the administration to stop playing politics with a project that will create good-paying American jobs, improve our energy security, and strengthen relations with our closest ally, Canada.

Five years of delays, distractions, and foot-dragging is long enough. It’s time to do what’s right for America, our economy and workers, and our relationship with our special neighbor to the north—approve the Keystone XL pipeline.

Now, we’re in the National Interest Determination stage, where eight other federal agencies and the public can weigh in on whether approving the pipeline is in the nation’s national interest.

Based on all that we know now about the jobs that will be created, the economic impacts, and its minimal effects on the environment, it’s clear that approving the Keystone XL pipeline is in America’s best interests.

Rubio Continues Pulling Back On His Immigration Reform Position

One of the authors of the controversial Senate immigration reform bill, Florida Senator Marco Rubio, spoke to the Shark Tank and other reporters at the Capitol about the upcoming House immigration reform debate, where he believed that a set of principles that would be widely supported will probably come out of the House of Representatives.

Rubio’s ears were ringing as earlier in the day, Speaker John Boehner told reporters during a press conference at RNC headquarters, that a set of immigration principles would be discussed at the upcoming Republican congressional retreat. Rubio stated that the American people lacked confidence in the Obama administration, which is pushing blanket legalization in the immigration reform debate, to enforce any and all immigration enforcement measures.

Rubio was pummeled by grassroots activists for his change of position on immigration reform, when he co sponsored the Senate immigration bill, but now seems to be backing away from his own bill.

It’s still an Issue that needs to be solve, I think the better way to solve it at this point, given the lack of confidence people have in the federal government, is to do it in a way that will gain people’s confidence, and that is why I think a sequential approach is the better approach- it was originally what I had advocated for, it’s not the direction the Senate headed, but in essence, it sounds like that’s the direction everyone wants to head now.

Rubio added that if there was another debate on this issue, he would engage and “give ideas about how to move forward.”

My observation on it now is, that this is not a process today that’s conducive to some big piece of legislation, lack of confidence people have in the federal government has only eroded in the past 12 months, I think it will continue to erode.

And then he added:

The observation that I have made, which I made a couple months ago, and now everyone is agreeing with, is that this is an issue that needs to be handled sequentially, given the mood and sentiment around here and the lack of trust people have. That’s the only observation I couple months ago is that some central piece of legislation, one big piece of legislation just isn’t going to pass.

When questioned if  his bill was “one big bill,” Rubio responded:

That was the direction the senate went, but if you back and read what I wrote in the WSJ last year, up to the time that debate began , I argued that a better approach , there is a difference between what you do and how you do it, those are two separate issues, and from a procedural standpoint  my argument was, that if we could begin to do this in a way that was sequence so that people can gain confidence and momentum behind the idea I thought that that was a more realistic approach.

Rubio then reiterated  that “the Senate decided” to go in the “big piece”of legislation direction.

Now the Senate decided to do it in one big piece of legislation, I didn’t think that was the best approach, But I chose to get involved with it because I wanted to influence, and hopefully make something positive happen. By nature, if I see a problem, I try to solve it.

EDITORS NOTE: This column and photo originally appeared on The Shark Tank. 

Oklahomans are All In on School Choice

A majority of Oklahomans favor an education savings account system, with the largest margin of support and most positive intensity coming from younger voters ages 18-34, according to a Friedman Foundation poll released this week. An ambitious school choice proposal is on the table in Oklahoma. Last week, state legislators introduced a bill to create an education savings account system (ESA) for low- and middle-income students. (See a short video of the press conference and an explanation of how ESAs work.)

The proposal is bigger than Arizona’s ESA program, a pioneering policy that has provided crucial lessons for implementation in other states. (see herehere, and here for research on ESAs) Similarly, our release this week of the “Oklahoma K-12 & School Choice Survey” provides states interested in ESAs a new perspective on how voters react to this innovative plan.

Oklahomans are much more likely to support ESAs than oppose them. The margin in favor of ESAs is very large (+22 points). A solid majority of respondents (56 percent) support an “education savings account system”; just one-third (34 percent) oppose ESAs.

All demographic groups showed a propensity toward supporting ESAs. No group registered a larger proportion of negative responses than positive responses. Young voters (ages 18 to 34), Republicans, and school parents exhibited the biggest margins of support and represent the groups most likely to be on board today.

The positive intensity for ESAs is highest among young voters (ages 18 to 34), school parents, and Republicans. There is mild negative intensity among older voters and Democrats. 

Oklahomans prefer universal access to ESAs rather than limited eligibility based on financial need. Nearly six out of 10 voters (58 percent) said they agree with the statement that “ESAs should be available to all families, regardless of incomes and special needs.” Approximately 37 percent “strongly agree” with that statement. One-third (32 percent) disagree with that statement, and 19 percent “strongly disagree.”

For most voters, an ESA proposal would not be a make or break issue. A majority (58 percent) said it would not make her/him more or less likely to vote for a political candidate who supports ESAs. However, if a voter has an opinion on this issue, he or she is more likely to vote for the pro-ESA candidate (19 percent more likely vs. 14 percent less likely).

Oklahomans send different signals about how to fund preschool, a topic receiving considerable attention lately by policy wonks and public officials.

On the first of two questions, a plurality of voters (29 percent) indicated they would like to see an increase of funding public preschool providers directly. However, about 26 percent of respondents said they would equally favor that or a proposal establishing an ESA system for four-year-old children. An additional 17 percent would prefer structural reform – the ESA system – over simple funding increases.

The follow-up question asked to what extent respondents would favor or oppose a pilot ESA program for Oklahoma’s four-year-olds. Considering this proposal on its own merits, more than half of respondents (55 percent) said they would favor such a limited ESA program, compared to 32 percent saying they would oppose the preschool ESA system.

The window looks as if it’s wide open for Oklahoma’s education reformers to change the funding mechanism for K-12 education (via ESAs).

First, certain questions in our poll pick up voters’ desires for changing the status quo and having more access to private schools.

  • 56 percent believe Oklahoma’s K-12 education system is on the “wrong track”; 65 percent of school parents gave this response.
  • 58 percent rated the state’s public school system “fair” or “poor”; 63 percent of school parents gave this response.
  • Voters are much more likely to grade local private schools A or B (74 percent) compared to giving those grades to local public schools (45 percent).
  • When asked for a preferred school type, nearly equal proportions of voters would choose a regular public school (39 percent) or a private school (37 percent). The disconnect is stark when juxtaposing those responses against Oklahoma’s actual enrollment patterns (94 percent public school and 4 percent private school).

Second, Oklahomans are more likely to favor – rather than oppose – education reforms such as school vouchers, tax-credit scholarships, and charter schools. Collectively, these responses provide a hospitable climate for an ESA proposal.

Click “Oklahoma K-12 & School Choice Survey” to read the full report.

Gays forcing Catholic school to hire man ‘married’ to another man

The next step of the “gay marriage” agenda is about to begin here in Massachusetts. It’s the push to use the legal system to force religious organizations to include homosexuality and transgenderism.

Fontbonne Academy in Milton, MA, a Catholic girls’ high school, is under attack by the homosexual movement.

Across the country whenever a “gay marriage” battle heats up pro-family people are always told, “It’s all about civil rights. It won’t affect your religious institutions.” And the politicians and judges believe them.

That’s about to change. This week the powerful Boston homosexual legal group,Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders (GLAD) filed a complaint with theMassachusetts Commission against Discrimination (MCAD) against a Catholic girls prep school because the school declined to hire a man because he is “married” to another man.

“We cannot hire you,” says Catholic school

Back in July, Matthew Barrett of Dorchester applied for a job as the food service director at Fontbonne Academy, a Roman Catholic girls’ high school in Milton, Mass., and was subsequently offered the job. When he filled out a pre-employment form listing his “husband” as an emergency contact the school told him that “the Catholic religion doesn’t recognize same-sex marriage. We cannot hire you.”

Barrett, right, and his “husband” pose for the Boston Globe.
[Boston Globe photo.]

Barrett claimed to be shocked by the school’s action. But it appears that he was purposefully dishonest. He told the Boston Globe that he was raised a Catholic and that he was informed by school officials during the interview process that employees are expected to follow Catholic doctrine. However, he did not tell the school that he was openly involved with homosexual behavior and was in a “gay marriage.” Those, of course, are serious violations of Catholic teaching.

Targeting religious organizations that refuse to change

Historically, GLAD acts very strategically. From transgenderism to public sex to gay marriage, they take on high-profile cases in order to force changes on society.This case represents the beginning of the homosexual movement’s legal assault on conservative churches, particularly Catholic, that have steadfastly refused to modify their religious convictions and comply with the homosexual movement’s demands on society. Up until now they’ve been largely left alone. But that’s about to change.

As the Boston Globe related, this represents a new front in the culture wars:

Barrett’s complaint, which may be the first of its kind in the country,comes at a time when religion-based schools in the increasing number of states where gay marriage is legal have been scrutinizing hiring and employment practices to ensure they conform with the pillars of their faiths.

School administrators have been fired from Catholic schools and universities in Arkansas, California, New York, and Washington, among other states, after marrying their same-sex partners or announcing plans to do so.

The legal assault begins

The well-funded homosexual legal groups, fresh from their victories in “gay marriage” federal and state lawsuits across the country, are now ready to take on the churches.

Bennett Klein, the GLAD lawyer representing Barrett, makes their position against religious groups perfectly clear in the GLAD website’s presentation of this case. Klein states:

Religiously affiliated entities do not have a free pass to do as they please in how they treat employees, particularly when it comes to our important laws against discrimination.

Our laws carefully balance the important values of religious liberty and non-discrimination. When Fontbonne Academy fired Matt from a job that has nothing to do with religion, they came down on the wrong side of the law.

And as Klein said in the Globe article, the there is a big “problem” that the homosexual movement must stamp out:

We’re seeing religion-affiliated entities more and more trying to push the line toward discriminating against gay, lesbian, and transgendered people.

In other words, God’s laws must be made to bend to the gays’ will, not the other way around!

One clue of the seriousness of this is that GLAD got the story placed on the front page of the Boston Globe instead of somewhere inside. And GLAD had the Boston Globe’s reporter interview Barrett in GLAD’s downtown Boston office rather at his house or some neutral site.

Front-page Boston Globe article Jan. 30, 2014.

Long-time animosity toward the Catholic Church

It’s not surprising that a Catholic institution is the first being targeted by GLAD. Of all the major religious denominations, the Catholic Church in America has been the most consistent in not compromising its core beliefs to the Left, particularly on abortion and “gay marriage.” Over the years, this has caused a particularly venomous hatred of Catholicism in the homosexual movement.

For example, as MassResistance often reveals just about every “gay pride” parade contains a strong anti-Catholic element, often mocking and profane.

Men dressed as nuns mocking the Catholic Church march in Boston Gay Pride Parade on June 8, 2014.
[MassResistance photo]

Another local example: In 2012, as MassResistance reported, a Catholic Church in Acushnet, Mass., simply had a sign outside supporting traditional marriage. Angry homosexual activists threatened to burn the church down, and demonstrated outside of the Sunday Mass with signs calling the parishioners haters.

Sign outside Catholic Church in Acushnet, MA that generated horrible attacks by homosexual activists, including threat to burn church down.

What happens next

We don’t think that GLAD would publicize this case so dramatically if they didn’t think they could win it. They certainly have huge ties to the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination. In addition, we expect that GLAD will put the full force of its legal team, and possibly even recruit free help from lawyers from gay-friendly downtown Boston firms to ultimately force Fontbonne Academy to hire Matt Barrett.

The homosexual movement knows that if it is successful in this case, it will set a precedent for Massachusetts and send a strong message to every other conservative religious institution in the state. But worse, it will surely become a template for similar action across the country in states where “gay marriage” exists, despite “religious freedom” clauses that may exist in their laws.

Our side must fight back hard!

This needs to be taken seriously by our side and fought hard! It is madness, and should not have any legal leg to stand on. But as we’ve said over and over in the past, much of the mess we’re in now is the result of mushy, fear-based legal defense by pro-family lawyers in important cases. We are praying that Fontbonne gets the necessary kind of legal firepower to stop this.

As states across the country are confronting the issue of “gay marriage” being forced on them by activist judges and corrupt politicians, many “conservatives” have been backing off and saying that this won’t affect them. This shows that they’d better think again.

And to those pro-family people who simply say that the “gay marriage” fight is about “every child needs a father and a mother” or “we’re not against anyone; we’re just pro-marriage” or similar politically-correct platitudes — you need to come out of your fantasy world.

We will keep you informed on this case!

2. Update: Pro-family Jamaicans continue their bold fight against repealing law banning open homosexuality in their country.
The Jamaicans are setting an example for the rest of us here in America. They are not backing down, but are pushing forward!

As we reported earlier, on December 10, 2013 — International Human Rights Day — Brian Camenker of MassResistance went to Jamaica and delivered a stirring speech at a pro-family rally in Kingston. The speech was broadcast live over national radio.

Camenker was invited by the Jamaican pro-family group Jamaica Coalition for a Healthy Society (JCHS). He was asked to come and warn citizens about the slippery slope effects that would come with legalizing homosexual behavior, which is now being considered by the Jamaican government.

The government is considering repealing the 150-year-old “Buggery Law” which currently makes sodomy technically illegal. The law is widely supported across Jamaica. But homosexual and left-wing activists buoyed by well-funded international groups are mounting a national campaign to get the law repealed, and thus build a public homosexual movement in that country. JCHS has been at the forefront of this issue.

Carrying on the PR battle in Jamaica’s media

Dr. Wayne West, the head of JCHS has continued to write and speak on this issue. JCHS understands the stakes involved in losing this fight. As a result, they confront the homosexual movement with fearlessness and clarity that is rarely found here in America.

Dr. Wayne West, head of Jamaica Coalition for a Healthy Society, introduces Brian Camenker at event on Dec. 10, 2013.

The group has recently resurrected a powerful full-page newspaper ad that directly exposes and confronts the medical dangers of homosexual behavior. The ad was previously published in Jamaican newspapers on International Day Against Homophobia, May 17, 2013 — to counter the propaganda from the other side.

Powerful full-page ad by Jamaica Coalition for a Healthy Society that appeared in Jamaica newspapers.

Here’s what the ad said:

Most people here and abroad are unaware about how overwhelmingly harmful and even deadly such behavior is. And worse, most pro-family groups — particularly here in the U.S. — are afraid to bring up the health issue, even in court cases, for fear of being labeled and attacked by the Left!

How many American pro-family groups would have the nerve to publish this ad? We are grateful that Jamaica has a fearless group like JCHS led by a such a bold, articulate man as Dr. Wayne West. They set an example for all the rest of us!


3. MassResistance in the Washington Times.
Our international footprint in the “gay marriage” arena is starting to get noticed!

Recently MassResistance was quoted in the Washington Times newspaper. In their December 25, 2013 article titled, “Gay marriage makes a world of differences in a defining year,” the newspaper wrote:

In Massachusetts, the traditional values group Mass Resistance has found that its materials — including a video on what same-sex marriage “did to Massachusetts” — have been of interest to people in Australia, the United Kingdom, France and, recently, Jamaica, said Brian Camenker, president of the group.

In America, gay-rights groups were able to conduct a “blitzkrieg” in some states, thanks to deep-pocketed benefactors and political allies, he said.

Overseas gay-rights advocates “just don’t have that enormous advantage,” Mr. Camenker said. “So that sort of holds them back.”

It’s quite surprising how many calls each week we get from around the country and beyond for advice, strategy, and general information on confronting this issue..

By the way, that video really has caught on around the world! And people are truly shocked. You can watch it HERE.

RELATED COLUMN: Maine’s highest court: Transgender student’s rights were violated | The Portland Press Herald / Maine Sunday Telegram

Top-down Parental Involvement: Another federal education boondoggle?

As the nation observed the 50th anniversary of President Johnson’s War on Poverty in early January, the 2014 Georgia Family Engagement Conference here drew over 1,200 participants, up from 800 at the inaugural state conference in 2012. About a dozen states have held such confabs, pursuant to the “Parental Involvement” section of Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, an arm of the War on Poverty that sends federal funds to low-income-area schools in hopes of “equalizing” so-called educational outcomes.

About a third of the participants in the conference were parent volunteers; those I met were impressive in their dedication and length of service. Most in attendance, however, were professionals—state or local education officials, administrators of grant-funded nonprofits, education researchers, and so on.

An important thrust of the conference was to share strategies for fulfilling the federal mandates that go along with Title I money. Parental engagement receives 1 percent of the total Title I pot, which has risen from $3.2 billion in 1980 to $14.4 billion in the budget just passed. Naturally, that money comes with strings, many of them defined in legal jargon that is difficult for your average parent volunteer to understand.

Ken Banter, Title I director for the rural Peach County Schools, confirmed, “The monitoring piece with federal funds is humongous.” A whole session—“What is a Title I School and What Does that Mean for My Child?”—was devoted to basic explanations from two Georgia Department of Education Title I specialists. Judy Alger asserted, “We know through research that poverty equals low performance” (though when I inquired about the research, she suggested Google). Therefore, Title I designation is “a good thing” for a school, sending it more teachers, more literacy and math coaches, more tutors, and more technology. But, Alger warned, “They give us money because they want to tell us how to do things.” For instance, noted Kathy Pruett, under Targeted Assistance Programs, snacks are okay, meals not.

One string requires that parents be recruited to review the Comprehensive Local Education Agency Improvement Plan (CLIP). Ken Banter shared how he tried to make things easy for parents by dividing the 65-page CLIP into 2-page sections, preparing a 5-page handout on acronyms, and giving away donated book bags of school supplies to volunteers. As a result, he said, participation in his 4,000-student district increased from 10 parents in 2012 to more than 150 in 2013.

CaDeisha Cooper, Title I director for the Candler County Schools, said of her summer leadership program, “What you do is what the law requires you to do.” She makes a particular effort to translate the legal gobbledygook into simple language for parents.

The problem of parents’ difficulty understanding government programs arose again at the only panel on the controversial new federally orchestrated education standards, “Giving Students a Chance: Understanding the Common Core Georgia Performance Standards.” The panelists all represented organizations that support Common Core: Lisa-Marie Haygood and Donna Kosicki are president-elect and past president of the Georgia PTA, respectively, and Dana Rickman is director of policy and research at the Georgia Partnership for Excellence in Education. Kosicki led a word-association exercise on feel-good terms like “relevance.” Haygood offered that “it is important to stop switching gears” and not abandon Common Core.

Rickman showed a number of slides demonstrating Georgia’s lagging college readiness. When I asked how Common Core will help, Rickman replied, “It is believed that the new standards will lead to improvement” and directed me to the Fordham Foundation’s website. Fordham, like the PTA, has received funds from the Gates Foundation, the biggest private funder of Common Core.

The conference drew dozens of vendors, many of them nonprofits. There was Building Positive Families, Watch D.O.G.S. (Dads of Great Students), and groups promoting health, art, and the prevention of drug abuse. Some paid a vendor fee to put on a workshop. At Family First’s workshop, “Increasing Male Involvement and Engaging Dads in Schools,” Andy Mayer described the group’s services for schools, such as “All-Pro Dad” breakfasts and exercises that get dads (or father figures) “connecting,” with prompts like, “I’m proud of you because. .  .  .” Increased PTA membership is deemed a measure of success. The PTA is the primary booster of the Family Engagement in Education Act of 2013, which would provide no new funding but lots of new instructions for how to spend it—in the words of a PTA backgrounder, “a roadmap for investment in sustainability of practice in family engagement in education” by schools, localities, and states.

The Athens conference was funded by nonprofit and for-profit vendors and exhibitors, as well as sponsors and registrants, according to Michelle Tarbutton Sandrock, parent engagement program manager for the Georgia Department of Education. Schools and districts, however, used Title I funds to send representatives to the gathering.

Georgia College economics professor Ben Scafidi says the costs to the public for parental engagement personnel and activities are difficult to isolate. What is clear, as he noted in his 2012 report “The School Staffing Surge,” is that the United States spends more than other nations on non teaching staff. Between 1970 and 2010, non teaching staff positions increased 138 percent nationally, while teaching positions increased 60 percent and student enrollment rose only 7.8 percent, according to the Heritage Foundation. How much did it help? Between 1992 and 2008, math scores for 17-year-olds remained constant, and reading performance declined.

Amid all the presentations and exhibits, conspicuously lacking was research establishing that government-sponsored parental involvement improves learning. When I asked Tarbutton Sandrock about this, she referred me to Karen Mapp of the Harvard Family Research Project and Anne Henderson, senior consultant for community organizing and engagement at the Annenberg Institute for School Reform at Brown University. Both are advocates for government-funded parental engagement.

Fifty years into the War on Poverty, a vastly expanded, federally funded bureaucracy works to manage parents’ involvement in their own children’s schools. Meanwhile, educational attainment stagnates and poverty grows.

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared in The Weekly Standard. Photo courtesy of the Marco Island Sun Times a Gannett Company.

RELATED  COLUMN: More parent involvement leads kids to behave and do better in school

Feds to seek death penalty for Boston Marathon jihad mass murderer Dzhokhar Tsarnaev

This is a face-saving gesture. The clueless, politically correct, willfully ignorant Feds discounted intel they received from Russia about Tamerlan Tsarnaev, and failed to investigate the mosque the Tsarnaev brothers attended in Boston, despite the fact that it has numerous ties to jihad terrorists. Now, when it is far too late, they’re trying to look tough on jihad terror.

“Feds to seek death penalty against accused Boston bomber Tsarnaev,” by Pete Williams for NBC News, January 30 (thanks to Kenneth):

The Justice Department has notified a federal judge that it intends to seek the death penalty if a jury convicts Dzhokhar Tsarnaev for last April’s bomb attacks at the Boston Marathon.

Tsarnaev is awaiting trial on charges that he and his brother built and planted two pressure-cooker bombs that killed three people and injured at least 260 others. He is also charged with killing an MIT campus police officer.

Attorney General Eric Holder said in a statement: “After consideration of the relevant facts, the applicable regulations and the submissions made by the defendant’s counsel, I have determined that the United States will seek the death penalty in this matter. The nature of the conduct at issue and the resultant harm compel this decision.”

Among the factors listed by the government were that the killings were intentional, resulted from acts calculated to cause grave risks to public safety, and were committed in a cruel manner. And prosecutors said the defendant has demonstrated no remorse….

Of course. It was his jihad. A mujahid does not feel remorse for his jihad.

Israel Foils Al Qaeda Plot Against US Embassy

Time and time again, Israel has proven to be America’s closest, most reliable ally in the Middle East.

Last week we saw the latest example of Israel’s dedication to America as an ally when Israel’s Shin Bet security service announced that it had arrested Al Qaeda terrorists who were part of a cell plotting to launch an attack on the US embassy in Tel Aviv, Israel.

tel aviv bombers

The al-Qaeda terror suspects. Photo: Shin Bet.

Shin Bet indicated that the three terrorists, two from Jerusalem and one from the West Bank, were recruited by an Al Qaeda terrorist operative based in the Gaza Strip who worked directly for Al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri.

The suicide bomb attack on the US embassy was to be part of an audacious plan to conduct simultaneous attacks on three targets in Israel, the other two targets being an Israeli transit bus and a neighborhood in East Jerusalem.

While there have been fears of an Al Qaeda presence in Israel for some time now, this plot is the first indication of actual, active Al Qaeda terrorists inside Israel.

What is particularly upsetting about the aftermath of the takedown of this Al Qaeda cell has been the muted U.S. reaction.

First, in Washington, Obama State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said U.S. investigators and intelligence officials were not yet able to corroborate the Israeli information and declined to comment on specifics of the case. Harf even told reporters, “I don’t have reason to believe it’s not true. I just don’t have independent verification.”

Meanwhile, senior U.S. officials elsewhere, speaking to reporters anonymously, were confirming the plot, while the Obama State Department was essentially giving no comment.

One wonders just exactly what the State Department meant when it said it did not have “independent verification.”

Who would the State Department be looking to for that “independent verification”?

Eventually, the Obama State Department did “acknowledge” the plot and Israel’s arrest of the terrorists, claiming that they had been in touch with the Israelis on the matter for some time.

What has been completely absent from any statement on the matter from the U.S. has been any expression of gratitude toward Israel for breaking up a plot by our sworn enemy, Al Qaeda, to bomb our embassy.

That silence comes just days after President Obama told the New Yorker, that the current Al Qaeda was the “jayvee” team, once again dismissing the threat from jihadist terrorism.

The only strong statement acknowledging Israel’s key role in heading off this Al Qaeda attack came from Illinois Representative Peter Roskam who released the following statement:

“The plot to attack our embassy in Israel reminds us why we must remain vigilant against the continued and evolving threat from Al Qaeda. With the tragic deaths of American personnel at the U.S. Embassy in Benghazi still fresh on our minds, the Israeli intelligence community’s work to stop this attack in its tracks once again demonstrates the mutual importance of our close security cooperation with Israel.”

It certainly appears that the Obama administration is actively ignoring this entire event. And no wonder; after all, it’s a bad situation for Obama in three ways:

  1. It indicates that the “on the run,” “jayvee” Al Qaeda that Obama keeps dismissing is still out there plotting against U.S. targets;
  2. Israel, the country Obama seems to dislike and throw under the bus more than any other U.S. ally, came to the rescue;
  3. Israel seems to have done a better job of looking out for the security of our diplomatic personnel and facilities than we have ourselves. It’s too bad that Israel’s security services weren’t in charge of security in Benghazi on September 11, 2012, instead of Hillary Clinton, Obama’s then-secretary of state!

All of this serves as a painful reminder that the U.S. and its allies continue to be the target of the jihadists and that we must remain ever-vigilant.

Most importantly, we must work to maintain close, friendly relations with our allies, such as Israel, who have stood by us for decades.

I Am Afraid of My Government

I came into this world when Franklin D. Roosevelt was President and I have never been afraid of my government until now.

I am not alone. A consistent and growing theme of commentaries on the conservative news sites and blogs that I read every day is the fear of the Obama administration that has been cracking down on those who criticize it. They get audited by the IRS. They are refused the same status as non-profit entitles engaging in public education as Left-leaning organizations. They are accused of being racists, homophobes, anti-immigration, and anti-women.

This goes beyond the ordinary disagreements between individuals and groups that express opposition to the Obama administration. It has the look of a deliberate campaign and we have three more years of Obama as President in which to endure it.

In a speech to the leftist nonprofit Center for American Progress, Sen. Chuck Schumer, (D-BY) recently urged the IRS to “redouble” its intimidation tactics against the Tea Party. He represents a State whose governor recently said that conservatives were not welcome to live and do business. Its largest city, New York, just elected a Marxist as its mayor.

ted cruz on obama

For a larger view click on the image.

Jim Lakely, the director of communications of The Heartland Institute, a free market think tank that has led the effort to debunk the global warming hoax, recently posted a commentary, “The Unceasing Political Thuggery of Obama’s Gangster Government.” He noted Michael Barone’s description of the Obama administration as a “gangster government.”

Lakely cited the growing list of actions taken against who have expressed criticism. It includes Dinesh D’Souza who produced a documentary about Obama’s life, “Obama’s America” and who arrested on felony charges for violating campaign finance law. “This is beyond absurd—especially in light of what the FBI and IRS have found not worthy of any investigation, let alone indictment” in the past. A Hollywood group of conservatives, the only one there, received an IRS demand for its complete donor list; this is a repeat of similar demands of Tea Party groups seeking non-profit status. James O’Keefe whose Project Veritas exposed the nonprofit status of the leftist ACORN is being audited as was Frank VanderSloot, a big Republican donor as was conservative journalist Wayne Allen Root—twice. The list keeps growing.

The Heartland Institute was subjected to the stealing of its confidential budget and planning documents by global warming activist Peter Gleick “for the purpose of harassing” its donors, but no action has been taken against him by law enforcement authorities.

“Never in the history of this country have we seen such a broad and coordinated abuse of the government’s power to threaten criminal prosecution and ruin the lives and livelihoods of people the President and his party see as political ‘enemies’”, says Lakely.

“This should be the political scandal of the century—if only we had an honorable and competent MSM (mainstream media) press corps in this country.”

Ordinary Americans have cause to share my fear as they discover the wreckage that Obamacare is inflicting on our healthcare system, losing their insurance plans, and now we are hearing that the insurance industry may have to be bailed out as it is subjected to major losses. The government’s website is not only a disaster, but it subjects anyone using it to the threat of identity theft as experts testify it can be hacked with ease.

The economy of a nation with enormous energy reserves, enough to make us energy sufficient for decades, is being undermined by a deliberate campaign to shut down coal-fired plants and make the construction of new ones impossible. The Keystone XL pipeline from Canada has been delayed for five years despite the jobs it represents and access to oil at the same time the government has slowed the provision of leases to oil companies seeking to explore and extract our own reserves.

And millions of Americans are out of work or have ceased looking for work as the result of the worst economic “recovery” in the history of the nation. This is occurring at a time when the Obama administration has added $6 trillion to the nation’s debt, causing a leading credit agency to downgrade the nation’s credit rating for the first time in its history.

The scandals attributed to the Obama administration keep mounting from “Fast and Furious” that transmitted weapons to Mexican drug cartels, to the failure to provide security to our Libyan consulate despite many requests, leading to the Benghazi killing of a U.S. ambassador and three brave security personnel who went to his aid. The list keeps growing.

There is ample reason for Americans to fear their government these days and the mood of the nation is growing worse as they realize that they have a President who lies all the time and pursues “climate change” policies that have no basis in known science and a campaign of class war based on “income inequality” as the incomes of Middle Class Americans have suffered a decline. The solution to income inequality has always been an increase in the national economy.

The nation’s military is being undermined by budget cuts and policies that encourage open homosexual participation and the introduction of women into its combat forces. A growing list of generals and admirals have been forced to retire.

It has taken only five years to bring the nation to this point and none of the scandals has resulted in anyone in the Obama administration being held accountable.

They have good reason. When they can no longer depend on the Department of Justice, the Internal Revenue Service, and other elements of the government to act lawfully, this nation—a nation of laws—we are all in jeopardy.

For these and other reasons I and many Americans are growing fearful. We have good reason.

© Alan Caruba, 2014

Supreme Court Brief filed Supporting Hobby Lobby and Conestoga and Religious Liberty

Claiming “an unprecedented attack on religious liberty,” the Thomas More Law Center (TMLC) yesterday filed an amicus brief in support of the plaintiffs in two separate cases, Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc, and Conestoga Wood Specialties Corp., pending in the U.S. Supreme Court. In both cases, the plaintiffs are devout Christians who built their businesses from the ground up.  They object on religious grounds to providing certain contraceptives which are mandated by the Department of Health and Human Services headed by Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.  Both cases are scheduled for oral arguments on March 25, 2014 and the Court’s decision is expected sometime before the end of June.

TMLC’s brief focuses on religious liberty, “This case is not about competing rights; there is only one right at issue here − the right to religious freedom.”  The brief goes on to explain that there is no constitutional right to “free” contraception or abortion.  Moreover, that “The employers are not objecting to their employees’ private decision to use these drugs, they are objecting to being forced by the government to pay for insurance plans that facilitate or contribute to these decisions. The employers object to being used to further a government objective that violates their sincerely held religious beliefs.”

TMLC’s brief appealed to the foundations upon which our country was built:

“The United States was founded upon a set of noble and workable principles that formed the basis for the Bill of Rights. Paramount was the recognition that for a citizenry to be truly free, they must be allowed to think, to speak, and to worship God without government interference or unjustified restriction.”

The brief referred to our Founding Fathers:

“They risked their fortunes and their lives to create a country where people could be free to live and to worship consistent with their own conscience, and to provide for their families without unnecessary and crippling burdens created by an all-powerful government. The citizens currently before the Court challenging the Mandate can appreciate the struggles those early patriots faced. They too cannot allow injustice to prosper and are risking their fortunes and their livelihoods to defend the constitutional freedoms that define this country.”

Click here to read the TMLC’s entire 16-page brief

The Thomas More Law Center (TMLC) is a national public interest law firm located in Ann Arbor, Michigan.  It has filed 11 federal cases involving 33 different plaintiffs challenging the HHS Mandate.  One of those cases, Eden Foods v. Sebelius et al, is currently in the U.S. Supreme Court, but not scheduled for argument.  The Government has suggested to the Court that the Eden Foods case be held in abeyance pending the decision in the Hobby Lobby and Conestoga cases.

Richard Thompson, the President and Chief Counsel for the Law Center, commented, “The religious liberty of every American is at stake.  If we lose these cases, the guarantee of religious liberty under our constitution and laws becomes a farce.”

The 10th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled in favor of Hobby Lobby represented by the Becket Fund in June 2013, arguing that the Religious Freedom Restoration Act applies to corporate entities, thereby shielding Hobby Lobby founder David Green from providing insurance plans that abide by the Obama Administration’s contraception mandate.

However, in August 2013, the 3rd Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals rejected the same arguments, forcing the Mennonite owners of Conestoga Wood Specialties, represented by the Alliance Defending Freedom, to offer health insurance to their employees in a grave violation of their religious beliefs.

The State of the Dis-Union: Preparing World Citizens

There were many who had reason to be outraged by President Obama’s State of the Union address: the military whose funding has been cut, and who have been besmirched as emotionally unstable while they are forced to be sitting ducks in battle and then face the potentiality that the administration will abandon what others had died for, like Fallujah; the millions in the middle class whose health insurance has been dropped or whose premiums have doubled and who are losing jobs to illegal aliens and are insulted by the idea that a job that pays $10.10 is something to aspire to.

But I want to focus on Obama’s continued efforts to re-educate America, to re-educate her people so that they become shriveling dependents who long for a leader who will unilaterally make decisions for the masses.

Only such a people could believe Obama’s claim of having “a set of concrete, practical proposals to speed up growth, strengthen the middle class and build new ladders of opportunity into the middle class.”

Only a well-educated, independent-thinking populace could feel the chill of words regarding “congressional action.” Conflating America with himself, Obama said, “America does not stand still, and neither will I. So wherever and whenever I can take steps without legislation to expand opportunity for more American families, that’s what I’m going to do.”

Once again, there was discussion of government job-training programs. (Has anyone actually gotten a job as a result?) To prepare “tomorrow’s workforce” (and that’s all it is: a workforce, not an educated citizenry), we must guarantee “every child access to a world-class education.”

Translation: indoctrination into world citizenship.

Obama referred to one “Estiven Rodriguez,” who “couldn’t speak a word of English when he moved to New York City at age nine.” Apparently, Rodriguez “led a march of his classmates – through a crowd of cheering parents and neighbors – from their high school to the post office, where they mailed off their college applications. And this son of a factory worker just found out he’s going to college this fall.” Obama referred to the army of tutors and teachers that helped him, but immigrants have done far more with only night classes, and often working two or three jobs.

Then, said Obama, “Five years ago, we set out to change the odds for all our kids. We worked with lenders to reform student loans, and today, more young people are earning college degrees than ever before.”

There is a reason why this government wants to monopolize student loans to produce more “peace and environmental justice studies” graduates: Democrat voters.

Obama invoked the misleadingly named “Race to the Top” contest (really a race for stimulus funds attached to federal education standards called Common Core). He claimed, it “has helped states raise expectations and performance. Teachers and principals in schools from Tennessee to Washington, D.C. are making big strides in preparing students with skills for the new economy – problem solving, critical thinking, science, technology, engineering, and math. Some of this change is hard. It requires everything from more challenging curriculums and more demanding parents to better support for teachers and new ways to measure how well our kids think, not how well they can fill in a bubble on a test. But it’s worth it – and it’s working.”

Notice how he didn’t reference Common Core, now dubbed Obamacore. After test scores plunged and mass confusion ensued, even the New York NEA teachers union came around to opposing Common Core. “Problem solving, critical thinking” are hallmarks of progressive educators, like Linda Darling-Hammond, close pal of Bill Ayers, who has been in charge of designing one of the two Common Core national tests. And what, exactly, is wrong with filling in a bubble? It means the test-taker has to know something and the grader can’t give extra points for correct attitudes.

What, also, is the “new economy”? Did we not need science, technology, engineering, and math in the old, twentieth-century economy?

By stating “It requires more challenging curriculums,” Obama admitted what Common Core proponents deny: it does change the curriculum. These are curriculums that eliminate most history, except that which advances the U.S. as racist, sexist, homophobic, imperialistic, etc.

The reference to “New ways to measure how well our kids think” is not reassuring when the Department of Education promotes the idea that “educational strengths” include “social competence” and “ethnic awareness.”

The new standards do not involve knowing about the country’s founding or the Constitution. Such students might understand this pre-speech message from Jon Carson of Organizing for Action:

“Friend –

“Tonight, President Obama made sure everyone knows:

“He’s not waiting for Congress. He’s taking action now, and he’s going to explore every method in his power to restore real opportunity for all Americans.”

Then he asks for a $5 donation.

But kindergarten is not early enough. Said Obama, “The problem is we’re still not reaching enough kids, and we’re not reaching them in time. That has to change.”

He cited “research” to justify making “high-quality pre-K available to every four year-old”: “Research shows that one of the best investments we can make in a child’s life is high-quality early education.” Funny, how they always say “research,” but not which research or what the research actually says about government-funded preschool.

Nonetheless, “As a parent as well as a President, I repeat that request tonight.”

What if Congress doesn’t snap to and fulfill his “request”? Well, Obama has friends: “And as Congress decides what it’s going to do, I’m going to pull together a coalition of elected officials, business leaders, and philanthropists willing to help more kids access the high-quality pre-K they need.”

Such “coalitions” must ensure that Obama fulfills his promises: “Last year, I also pledged to connect 99 percent of our students to high-speed broadband over the next four years. Tonight, I can announce that with the support of the FCC and companies like Apple, Microsoft, Sprint, and Verizon, we’ve got a down payment to start connecting more than 15,000 schools and twenty million students over the next two years, without adding a dime to the deficit.”

Of course, Microsoft is in the “coalition” of “business leaders and philanthropists.” The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is the biggest funder for Common Core; all tests must be taken online. The other companies surely appreciate the business, too.

Obama’s Department of Education is redesigning high schools: “We’re working to redesign high schools and partner them with colleges and employers that offer the real-world education and hands-on training that can lead directly to a job and career.” It seems all bases for government control are being covered. Oh, and “real-world education”? It means being trained for a job—only. (See my review of Terrence O. Moore’s book The Story-Killers.)

The feds have not only taken over financing, but they now want to rate colleges. But this is how Obama put it: “We’re shaking up our system of higher education to give parents more information, and colleges more incentives to offer better value, so that no middle-class kid is priced out of a college education.”

The Education Department is appealing to the youth vote by holding “summits,” inviting college “student experts” to weigh in on college “accessibility” and “affordability.” The youth experts have spoken and Obama heard: “We’re offering millions the opportunity to cap their monthly student loan payments to ten percent of their income, and I want to work with Congress to see how we can help even more Americans who feel trapped by student loan debt.”

The scary part came when he used himself and Michelle as examples: “The bottom line is, Michelle and I want every child to have the same chance this country gave us. But we know our opportunity agenda won’t be complete – and too many young people entering the workforce today will see the American Dream as an empty promise – unless we do more to make sure our economy honors the dignity of work, and hard work pays off for every single American.”

Oh, you mean college students should write theses like Michelle Obama’s? Can we all write “Princeton Educated Blacks and the Black Community” and investigate how “attending Princeton will likely lead to my further integration and/or assimilation into a White cultural and social structure that will only allow me to remain on the periphery of society”?

Education was bad enough back then. As a result, we have her in the White House with her Columbia and Harvard educated husband. It can only get worse when he invokes “widely shared” prosperity, calling on Americans to “toil” together, and summoning “what is best in us, with our feet planted firmly in today but our eyes cast towards tomorrow. . . .”

Boehner and the Republican Scarlet Letter: “A” is for Amnesty

In the 1850 novel The Scarlet Letter Nathaniel Hawthorne tells the story of Hester Prynne, who conceives a daughter through an adulterous affair and struggles to create a new life of repentance and dignity. Throughout the book, Hawthorne explores themes of legalism, sin, and guilt.

Today many believe that House Speaker John Boehner, with the help of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, will conceive an illegitimate daughter named “Amnesty” through an adulterous affair with President Obama. Establishment Republicans believe they must somehow repent by passing amnesty. This is compassionate conservatism writ large.

What Boehner, Cantor and Obama are really doing is legalizing the illegals and both parties could face the consequences in November 2014. They all will be, like Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL), wearing the Scarlet Letter: A for Amnesty. Rubio has fallen from grace since he became the Republican face for amnesty in the US Senate. He is still trying to repent and regain some dignity.

The Weekly Standard posted a video of House majority leader Eric Cantor applauded President Obama’s push for so-called immigration reform in last night’s State of the Union Address. Cantor applaudes when President Obama states, “Independent economists say immigration reform will grow our economy and shrink our deficits by almost $1 trillion in the next two decades.  And for good reason:  When people come here to fulfill their dreams — to study, invent, contribute to our culture — they make our country a more attractive place for businesses to locate and create jobs for everybody.  So let’s get immigration reform done this year. Let’s get it done. It’s time.”:

[youtube]http://youtu.be/5A73FvRDSfw[/youtube]

Matthew Boyle from Breitbart reports:

Rep. Steve King (R-IA), a hawk on immigration, told Breitbart News to look at how the vast majority of Republicans in the chamber—with the exceptions of House Budget Committee chairman Paul Ryan and Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL), among few others—stayed seated in disapproval of Obama’s push for amnesty.

“It didn’t soar like some State of the Union addresses will,” King said.

It didn’t really challenge us greatly. One of the things I thought was instructive was to watch the Republicans when he brought up the issue of immigration and I thought he got a very tepid response from Republicans. I couldn’t count very many Republicans who were standing at the time. There was Mario Diaz-Balart and Paul Ryan and I’m going to guess some of our leadership that I couldn’t see. But it looked to me like if you were looking for company on that issue you had to look to the Democrats.

Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), another immigration hawk, told Breitbart News that Obama’s push for amnesty directly contradicts his claim to care for economically hurting Americans.

“His hard stand on immigration was in total contrast to a large portion of his speech where he was dealing with unemployment and giving people raises,” Rohrabacher said.

Gun Owners of America in an email states:

The good thing about anti-gun liberals in Washington is that they are pathologically incapable of keeping their mouths shut.

And, Wednesday morning, shortly before 9:00, MSNBC commentator Dick Gregory announced that House Speaker John Boehner, the day before, had told a private meeting of reporters that he had been talking with Barack Obama “a lot” about pushing immigration reform.

It’s pretty clear why Barack Obama wants a bill which would either legalize or grant citizenship to as many as 11.5 million people who, according to Latinos expressing their opinions in a Pew poll, would cast 88% of their votes for liberals like Barack Obama.

It’s also clear what Speaker Boehner has in mind:  If he sabotages his own party, the liberal media will throw him a “doggie treat.”

But, for other House Republicans, the advantage of having an Obama/Boehner knife in their back is a little less clear.

Will amnesty be the Republican party’s donnybrook? Will they wear the amnesty Scarlet Letter into thee 2014 elections with pride? Time will tell.

TAKE ACTION: If you wish contact your member of Congress on this issue by going here: Contact your Congressman. Note: you must click SUBMIT twice to send your email.

RELATED COLUMNS:

PRUDEN: The Republican suicide strategy on immigration

House GOP wants legal status but no citizenship for illegal immigrants

GOP Crafts Plan to Wreck the County, Lose Voters by Ann Coulter

Buchanan: Push for Immigration Reform Will Spell End of Boehner’s Speakership…Audio…

HOUSE GOP TO OBAMA: LET’S DO ‘YEAR OF ACTION’ TOGETHER…

Ryan plan includes citizenship for illegals… 

Priebus: We need ‘something big’… 

Business execs pressure GOP to pass bill… 

Sessions: Should not cater to the whims of CEOs…

Citizens Common Core letter goes viral: “Hey, Gov. Scott, YOU should READ THIS!”

Victoria Bear, a citizen of Florida, sent a letter to Governor Rick Scott about her concerns with implementing Common Core in the sunshine state. Bear got a reply from the Governor’s office. She decided to reply back and her letter has gone viral, being shared by parents, teachers, educators and citizens across the state and beyond.

One of the comments to Bear’s letter is from Jack Mertz from The Villages TEA Party. Mertz states, “You really need to take a Survey of how Florida voters feel about Common Core — not what Obama or Jeb Bush think. They cannot vote for you — or donate to your campaign –but We the People can (or not). The Tea Party groups in The Villages area would love to discuss Common Core with you — if you would deign to come for a visit. Recall, there is an ELECTION coming. You need to do something intelligent to convince us that we should vote for you. We will wait and see what your final decision is on Common Core. Then we’ll make your final decision also.”

As the 2014 election draws nearer the Common Core may become the defining issue in the campaign. Some say that Governor Scott risks losing if he does not take a stronger stand against implementation of the Common Core State Standards.

Here is the reply from Katrina G. Figgett, Director of School Libraries and Information Services at Florida Department of Education, to Bear’s letter:

Dear Ms. Baer:

Governor Rick Scott has asked our office to respond to your correspondence regarding Common Core.  On behalf of the governor, we would like to thank you for contacting us.

Governor Rick Scott and the Florida Department of Education are committed to ensuring our students have the highest academic standards so they are prepared to succeed in college, career and beyond. The Florida State Board of Education first adopted state wide education standards called the Sunshine State Standards in 1996 and has been a leader in the United States for ensuring all students have access to education standards and assessments that match those standards. The current set of English language arts and mathematics standards are the third set adopted by Florida. Recently changes to these standards, which were recommended as a result of public input, were proposed to the State Board of Education. If you would like to look at the proposed changes they can be accessed at: http://www.fldoe.org/eduaccsummit.asp. A recommendation regarding the tool for assessing Florida Standards will be forthcoming in March.

Decisions regarding curriculum are made at the district, school and classroom level, and we would encourage you to share your concerns regarding curriculum with your child’s classroom teacher and/or principal. You may wish to contact individual districts with specific suggestions concerning their curriculum.  District contact information is available at http://www.fldoe.org/schools/schoolmap/flash/district_list.asp.

It may help you to know that under the Federal Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), student information cannot be shared without prior written consent from parents or guardians. The only disclosure exceptions pertain to sharing information in regard to health and safety emergencies, school transfers, state and local authorities for compliance, or research organizations. Directory information, such as name, address, date of birth and dates of attendance, may be shared without consent. However, schools are required under FERPA to give reasonable notice to parents prior to any information sharing and allow parents or guardians to opt out of the information sharing. Schools are required to annually notify parents of their rights under FERPA, but notification methods are left up to local leaders. There is no national database that houses student information and there is no plan for such a database.

If the Bureau of Standards and Instructional Support can be of further assistance, please contact me at 850-245-0758 or via e-mail at Katrina.Figgett@fldoe.org.

Sincerely,

Katrina Figgett

Here is Bear’s reply to Katrina Figgett:

Ms. Figgett in lieu of GOV SCOTT:

First, thanks for writing back and taking time to send me a response. Since you bothered, I would like to set the record straight.

I am very well informed on Common Core and the devastating effects it will have on our children. Unlike Gov Scott I am not playing politics or playing with our children’s futures.

#1 It’s not about the sharing it’s about the collecting -NO right to collect (see constitution amendment #4 unless a student wants to volunteer to give it with parental consent)- I’m sure their data bases are as secure as Target and the Healthcare Website- Right?

The only way to assure no privacy compromise is for them to never have the data to start with! This will be the start of profiling of our children in a country that is very eerily looking like NAZI Germany more every day.

#2 No matter how much they amend the standards it doesn’t change that they are equal to curriculum because the standardized tests test the standards (content) not the student’s proficiency like former placement tests.

The standards being grade specific is a big problem because it completely restricts curriculum since different curriculum introduce concepts in a different order and the only curriculum that would be used are the ones aligned to the CCS (modified or whatever).

Other countries like Finland have standards that are used as guidelines but are not graded with standardized tests at grade level. They are the only international country in the top five that have consistently improved in the past couple of years.

China’s numbers are fraudulent (surprise) since they only report Shanghai (they don’t even hide that it’s Shanghai only-guess they know how little the average person pays to such detail).

# 3… You quote FERPA… Federal Educational Rights and Privacy Act. Seriously? Guess you and the GOVERNOR are not up to speed on the changes and DISTRUCTION of FERPA. Please see below. NICE TRY…NOT GOING TO WORK!

1974 the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) became federal law. FERPA limited the authority of school officials to release personally identifiable information about any student, without student or parental consent.

On April 8, 2011 the US Department of Education initiated a proposal to amend the regulations interpreting FERPA. The proposed regulatory change was put out for Notice and Comment as required by the Administrative Practices Act. The Department of Education issued the final amended regulations on December 2, 2011 and they took effect on January 3, 2012.

The amended regulations provided a new definition for three key statutory terms. Under the new definitions, detailed information about students, along with individual student ID numbers or other unique personal identifiers, may be disclosed “nonconsensually,” by “an educational agency or institution” with very little constraint. The changes essentially gutted FERPA and removed just about every vestige of parental control over the use and release of personally identifiable information in school records.

Whether the Department of Education had the authority to make these changes will be decided by federal judges. In accord with administrative law jurisprudence, a regulation issued according to the process specified in the Administrative Practices Act has the force of law, although a regulation may be challenged in the courts. There is such a court challenge at present. The Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) claims that a comment they filed during the Notice and Comment period was completely ignored in the amended final regulation.

Shortly after December 2011 when the amended FERPA regulations were issued, the Shared Learning Collaborative (SLC) was activated. The SLC’s five member board of trustees included two corporation officers who were affiliated with the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation, one with the Carnegie Foundation, one with the Council of Chief State School Officers, and one was a former state governor affiliated with an educational advocacy organization . SLC was disbanded in November 2012 when the nonprofit organization, inBloom, was created. inBloom, which is supported by $100 million in grants from the Gates and Carnegie foundations, inherited all of the SLC’s software development.

The massive databases that inBloom intends to create are supposed to make it more efficient for school districts to store, access and process data for educational purposes. In theory, it would become possible to tailor instruction from stored data to meet individual student needs. Databases within a district are not always able to “talk” with each other; using a common platform and infrastructure in the Cloud would remedy that problem. If all the various school databases in the nation are also in communicable format in Clouds, it would be possible to examine and collate information on a national scale.
Those enamored of technology see a wonderful world opening up. Others fear that the age of Big Brother watching is coming all too close and that data would be used to monitor schools, teachers and children without notice. The FERPA changes will allow access to educational data for commercial or other purposes without the trouble of gaining parental or student consent. After all, the public is assured, we must facilitate digitalized education to modernize American school systems. (inBloom’s CEO, Iwan Streichenberger, somewhat disingenuously noted that their [computer] platform is compliant with the Family Education and Privacy Act and that their top priority is data privacy .)

The federal regulatory process is relatively silent. In the past, parents would not have known their legal rights had been diminished. Thanks to both the rapid spread of information and the impending court challenge to the amended FERPA regulation, parents across the country were soon informed that their state or education district intended to release individually identifiable data to third parties as part of an initial tryout of the inBloom project. The records are not only to be shared with consultants to help school districts adopt modern day information technology. They may also be available to private for-profit businesses able to target sales pitches to children’s teachers and parents and to school districts. This would bring to education the intense targeted marketing based on data collected from websites and by search engines.

Concerned parents who had been voiceless in the regulatory process, have begun to organize. They are learning that they cannot “opt out” of the arrangements and they want to assert their constitutional right to direct the education of their children. They oppose the invasion of privacy: the risk of disclosure of sensitive personal information such as test scores, health status and disciplinary records. They also are opposed to commercial exploitation of their children and their participation in research projects without parental consent.

When school officials in Brooklyn held a public meeting recently, parental fears were stoked. An inBloom representative confirmed that while inBloom would not share information with for-profit businesses to the detriment of students, the school district could decide to share the information stored in the Cloud with for-profit entities. Parents were distressed to learn that inBloom could not guarantee the security of information in the Cloud, and that in their contract with the City, inBloom was absolved of responsibility for any breach of security, including hacking.

During the meeting, one parent asked whether parents of a disabled child whose name was released to third parties, could be the target of aggressively marketed for-profit special education services. When the Chancellor of the New York City schools vowed that student privacy would not be violated, his reassurances were met with skepticism by parents whose level of trust in public school officials is not high.

While parents have had nowhere near the resources, the time, or the expertise to mount effective resistance to the efforts of the foundations and the organizations supported by them, that situation may be changing. Many states have pulled back from participating with inBloom. In New York State however, while two bills to protect parent rights to privacy were passed in the Assembly, a comparable bill in the NY Senate [S4284] was held up. Concerned parents intend to keep up the pressure. Given sufficient anger, and the internet’s ability to put people in touch quickly and inexpensively, parental resistance may become a democratic counterweight to the unbridled powers of big business and huge foundations to influence public educational policies without accountability.

Murray Levine and Adeline Levine, Buffalo – http://artvoice.com/issues/v12n29/letters_to_artvoice/goodbye_privacy.

There has been a victory though!!! Maybe you can encourage Scott to follow NY’s lead of all the COMMUNISTS states… Scott pushes the BUSH’s destructive programs for our education as “RACE TO THE BOTTOM” and “EVERY CHILD LEFT BEHIND”. Time to get off the political tit and do something for FREEDOM IN EDUCATION!

Read http://www.educationalfreedomcoalition.com/criterion-referenced-testing/

PS. You can also tell Gov Scott that as much as he campaigned for HEALTH CARE FREEDOM he has FAILED us on OBAMA CARE as well!
HE IS A BIG DISAPPOINTMENT TO CONSERVATIVES ALL OVER THE STATE and I SHOULD KNOW …I HAVE HUGE EMAIL LISTS ALL OVER THE COUNTRY AND THE UNITED KINGDOM and I’ve CC this to my whole FLORIDA list with over 3000 names!!!

Former Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates criticizes Obama in his Memoir by Frank De Varona

Former Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates criticizes President Barack Obama and members of his administration in a just published memoir called Duty: Memoirs of a Secretary at War (2014). This is the first book that describes in great detail the Obama administration’s policy deliberations by a person who served in the Cabinet. Gates, a former director of the Central Intelligence Agency, was appointed secretary of defense in the last years of President George W. Bush administration. He was kept in this position during the first two years of the Obama administration. Gates served 4 1/2 years as defense secretary.

Gates describes in his memoir that President Obama approved the surge in Afghanistan in December 2009 by sending 30,000 additional soldiers and naming General David Petraeus as the top commander over the objections of Vice President Joe Biden and White House staff. In recalling a meeting held in the White House Situation Room in March 2011, Secretary Gates wrote the following: ” As I sat there, I thought: the president doesn’t trust his commander, can’t stand Afghan president Hamid Karzai, doesn’t believe in his own strategy and doesn’t consider the war to be his. For him, it’s all about getting out.” In subsequent White House meeting Gates explains that President Obama began criticizing, sometimes emotionally, the way his policy in Afghanistan was being implemented.

david petraeus

David Petraeus

This is an incredible statement that a United States president would send our Armed Forces into battle without believing that the war could be won or that the strategy that he had approved would be successful. Astounding also is the fact that he had no confidence in the very competent and intelligent commander General David Petraeus that he had appointed. How could the president put our brave men and women in uniform in harm’s way, if  he had no faith in achieving victory? How does Obama dare to look at the relatives of our dead soldiers and the severely wounded soldiers in the eye? Every member of our Armed Forces who reads this book would have nothing but contempt  for President Obama.

Already many high ranking retired admirals and generals have criticized severely the infiltration of Muslim Brotherhood in the Obama administration and the rewriting of the manuals used by the military, Department of Homeland Security, FBI, and CIA. These manuals have expunged any criticism of Islam or Islamic terrorists. Moreover, the Marxist Southern Poverty Center wrote a manual comparing Catholics, Protestants and certain Jewish congregations as being worse than Al Qaeda and the KKK. This manual was used in training military reserve officers in Atlanta, Georgia. Why did the established media not publish this information that was reported by several newspapers in Great Britain?

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The Islamic Society of North America, an American-Islamic group linked to the Muslim Brotherhood, has the ear of the White House via Mohamed Magid (right), a trusted administration advisor on issues ranging from immigration to counterterrorism policy. Photo courtesy of New Media Journal.

Obama always described the war in Afghanistan as the right war to pursue and yet he doesn’t consider this war to be “his war.” When is the president going to assume responsibility for his actions ? The buck never stops with Obama, every failure of his administration is the fault of somebody else. Never before the United States had a president who never assumes responsibility for his misguided foreign and domestic policies. Never before the mainstream press has given a president so many free passes for his accumulated failures as Barack Obama.

Secretary Gates describes Joe Biden as a “a man of integrity” but a person  who “has been wrong on nearly every major foreign-policy and national security issue over the past four decades.” He also criticizes the White House inner circle for its “controlling nature and micromanagement and operational meddling to a new level.” Secretary Gates describes his constant policy battles with Vice President Joe Biden; Tom Donilon, national security advisor; and Lieutenant General Douglas E. Lute, who was in charge of the military policy in Afghanistan.

Secretary Gates explains that Hillary Clinton supported the surge of troops in Afghanistan, but he was surprised when he heard Secretary Clinton stating that her opposition to President George Bush’s Iraq surge “had been political,” since she was running against anti war Senator Barack Obama in the Iowa primary in 2008. In the same conversation, Gates writes that President Obama “conceded vaguely that opposition to the Iraq surge has been political.” Gates remembers, “to hear the two of them making these admissions, and in front of me, was as surprising as it was dismaying.” This is appalling since when national security decisions have to be “political?” We now know that if Hillary Clinton becomes president in 2016 her decisions on national security issues would be political as opposed to what is the right to do for our nation.

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President Obama with Vice President Biden.

It is very unfortunate that Secretary Gates did not speak out or wrote about these issues that are included in his book when he retired as Secretary of Defense. It is possible that more people would have voted against the Obama-Biden ticket in the presidential election of 2012. These two incompetent national leaders needed to be exposed to the American public prior to this election in the best interest of our nation. Gates should not have waited so long to expose the incompetence of the Obama administration.

Secretary Gates explains that he almost quit in September 2009 after a White House meeting. He writes the following: “I was a deeply uneasy with the Obama White House’s lack of appreciation, from the top down, all the uncertainties and unpredictability of war. I came closer to resigning  than any other time in my tenure.” He also accuses members of Congress for the Inquisition-like treatment of administration officials.

None of these terrible disclosures surprises this writer. In his book America in Decline published on January 8, 2014 and available at Amazon, this writer describes in great detail the complete failure of Barack Obama as Commander-in-Chief and as president. Barack Obama misguided national security and foreign policies have placed our nation in great danger.

As explained in America in Decline, Barack Obama is the first Marxist and hidden Muslim president in the nation’s 230 year history. Obama has been surrounded and has been associated during his entire life with communists, socialists and radicals who hate deeply our beloved nation and our armed forces.

One of his closest collaborators and friend is the communist and unrepentant terrorist Bill Ayers, who together with his wife Bernadine Dorn, placed 30 bombs throughout the United States when they were part of the terrorist organization Weather Underground. Ayers and Dorn and other terrorists were preparing a bomb in New York City to detonate at Fort Dix, New Jersey, the military base that was sending soldiers to fight in Vietnam. Fortunately for our soldiers, the bomb exploded killing several terrorists. Ayers and Dorn became fugitives for many years. When they were taken to trial due to a technicality they were found not guilty. Weather Underground had declared war upon the United States due to our involvement in Vietnam. How can you trust President Obama in supporting the military when he has associated for many years with these two terrorists who hated the United States and wanted to kill our soldiers?

His mentor and  preacher of 20 years, Jeremiah Wright, also hated our military and despised our nation. The president and the First Lady Michelle Obama attended for 20 years the pro-Muslim and pro-communist black liberation theology United Church of Christ in Chicago. They listened without complaining to Reverend Wright denigrating our nation and praising communist dictators such as Castro, Chavez, and Ortega while comparing the brave United States Marine Corps to the Romans of antiquity who committed atrocities throughout the world. Both the President and the First Lady sat during those years listening to the anti-patriotic and racist incendiary sermons of their pastor and friend Jeremiah Wright. Once in the White House, Obama appointed many Marxists and socialists who hated our military to important positions in the White House and agencies and departments of his administration.

Barack Obama disdains the brave women and men that serve in our Armed Forces. He has fired honorable generals and admirals who disagreed with his misguided policies. He has ignored the advice of high-ranking officers in Pentagon as he pursued policies that place our national security at risk.

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LTG Jerry Boykin, US Army (Ret.)

Obama has no respect for our Judeo-Christian values and has declared war against Christians and Jews in the nation and in the Pentagon. After his re election Obama’s war against Christianity and religion has intensified and now he’s trying to shamefully eliminate religion from the Armed Forces in our nation. All of these anti religious actions by the Obama administration are unconstitutional. Retired Lieutenant General Jerry Boykin stated the following regarding the war against Christians in the military: “This has the potential to destroy military recruiting across the services as Americans realize that their faith will be suppressed by joining the military. Our brave troops deserve better. If chaplains and other personnel are censored from offering the full solace of the gospel, there is not religious freedom in the military.”

While President Obama severely cuts the budget of the Pentagon and signs agreements with Russia to reduce our nuclear arsenal, all of our potential enemies including China, Russia, Iran, North Korea continued to strengthen their military and modernize their weapons. Obama is responsible for America in decline and for the United States becoming  a superpower in retreat.

This writer hopes that God Almighty will protect our beloved nation during the three years that this Marxist president still has to complete his diabolical plan to fundamentally transform the United States to a socialist, bankrupt, and third-rate country.

RELATED COLUMNS:

Who’s ‘godless’ now? Russia says it’s U.S. – Washington Times

UK Muslim Brotherhood Leader With Obama In White House

ABOUT FRANK DE VARONA

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Frank De Varona

Mr. de Varona was born in Cuba. At the age of 17, he participated in the Bay of Pigs invasion in an effort to eradicate communism in Cuba. After the defeat, he was sentenced to 30 years in prison and served two years. When Mr. de Varona returned to the United States, he continued his education and received a Bachelor’s degree in political science and economics and a certificate in Latin American Studies from the University of Florida. He earned a Master’s degree in social studies at the University of Miami and a Specialist in Education degree in educational administration and supervision at the University of Florida. He completed additional graduate work at the University of Florida, FIU, and Boston University.

From April to August 1966 and during the summer of 1968 Mr. de Varona worked as an escort interpreter for the U.S. State Department. In this position, he traveled with Latin American professionals from many fields throughout the United States. One of the visitor participants, Jorge Sánchez Méndez, became Minister of Industry and Vice President of Costa Rica.

Mr. de Varona had a 36-year distinguished career in the Miami-Dade County Public Schools (M-DCPS) as a social studies teacher; intergroup relations specialist; assistant principal; coordinator of adult education; principal of an adult education center, middle school and senior high school; region director for personnel and labor relations; region superintendent; associate superintendent responsible for the Pre-K-12, adult and vocational curriculum, alternative, magnet, community schools, adult and vocational schools, public radio and television, and student services; and interim deputy superintendent of schools for federal programs, equal education opportunity, food service and transportation. Mr. de Varona retired from M-DCPS, the fourth largest school district in the United States, in March 2012. Upon his retirement, he continued his career as a journalist and writer.

Mr. de Varona has written 19 books and published many articles in magazines and books in the United States and Spain. Mr. de Varona has worked as a contributing writer and/or editorial consultant for over 18 different publishers. In this capacity, Mr. de Varona has reviewed over 70 world history, world geography, U.S. history, civics, government, economics, Spanish, language arts, and elementary textbooks as well as biographies. King Juan Carlos I of Spain awarded Mr. de Varona the Order of Isabel La Católica with the rank of Encomienda in 1994 for his many books and articles regarding the Hispanic contributions to the United States and his work to include these contributions in U.S. textbooks.

Frank de Varona has written several articles; biographies; summarized documents; has written curriculum for school districts and conducted workshops for teachers and school administrators in Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm Beach Counties and New York City Public Schools.

Mr. de Varona He has been a consultant in Spain, Dominican Republic, and Honduras as well as various school districts in the United States. As a journalist, Mr. de Varona has written many articles on political, economics, national security, foreign affairs, Hispanic presence and contributions to the United States, historical and educational issues. He has produced four television documentaries for Channel 17. He was producer, director, and interviewer for a one-hour weekly program in Channel 14 from 1990 to 1992. He had a radio program called Hispanic Contributions to the United States in La Poderosa Radio Station from 2007 to 2008. He has appeared on numerous local, national, international television, and radio programs. He has conducted workshops at various colleges and universities and at national conferences. He has been active in state, regional and national organizations, he has been appointed to various state commissions by governors. He served as vice president, secretary, and treasurer of the Governor´s Hispanic Affairs Commission, Governor´s Commission on a Free Cuba, and Florida International Education Commission.

U.S. Secretary of Education Lamar Alexander appointed Mr. de Varona to the U.S. Department of Education National Council on Educational Statistics Advisory Committee under the administration of George H.W. Bush. He was invited to the White House on three occasions during the presidency of Ronald Reagan. Earlier, he had served on the Advisory Board of the U.S. Department of Educational Southeastern Educational Improvement Laboratory. The Florida Secretary of State appointed him to the Florida Historical Markers Commission, Florida Cuban Heritage Trail Commission, and the Florida Historical Preservation Board. He is an author contributor to Bear Witness Central.

Frank is the Bear Witness Central Director for Miami. View My Blog Posts

Obama Threatens to Veto the Nuclear Weapons Free Iran Act

Like many Americans and Israelis I watched expectantly President Obama’s State of the Union Address (SOTUS)  before a joint session of Congress crammed into the House Chamber. I was looking for a reaction from the Congressional audience on the issue of the P5+1 agreement implemented on January 20th. Iran’s President Rouhani had basically told  the P5+1  in a CNN  interview at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland that the Islamic regime was not going to dismantle their nuclear program. Instead they were going to plough ahead with research and development on advanced centrifuges and would not swap the Arak heavy water plant that would produce plutonium for a bomb.

In  light of these jarring comments made in Davos, Switzerland  by President Rouhani  at the World Economic  Forum, you would have prudently thought that the President would have changed his mind about  vetoing  the Nuclear Weapons Free Iran Act (NWFIA), S. 1881. Obama made it clear that he was proceeding with the P5+1 deal as a diplomatic way of  avoiding  military action to disable the Islamic Regime’s  nuclear weapons capability.  A capability that according to Israeli PM Netanyahu  speaking at the Annual Conference of the Institute for National Security studies at Tel Aviv University  (INSS) was  “six weeks away from achievement when the P5+1 deal was signed” on November 24, 2013 in Geneva.

President Obama fired a bow shot directed at NWFIA sponsors Sens. Kirk and Menendez, and 57 other co-sponsors of S. 1881, as well as the Resolution introduced in by House Majority Leader Eric Cantor  (R-VA)  and Minority Leader Steny  Hoyer (D-Md.) supporting its passage.

Obama said:

Let me be clear if this Congress sends me a new sanctions bill now that threatens to derail these talks, I will veto it.

For the sake of our national security, we must give diplomacy a chance to succeed.

If Iran’s leaders do not seize this opportunity, then I will be the first to call for more sanctions, and stand ready to exercise all options to make sure Iran does not build a nuclear weapon.  But if Iran’s leaders do seize the chance, then Iran could take an important step to rejoin the community of nations, and we will have resolved one of the leading security challenges of our time without the risks of war.

It is American diplomacy, backed by pressure, that has halted the progress of Iran’s nuclear program – and rolled parts of that program back – for the very first time in a decade. As we gather here tonight, Iran has begun to eliminate its stockpile of higher levels of enriched uranium. It is not installing advanced centrifuges. Unprecedented inspections help the world verify, every day, that Iran is not building a bomb.

If John F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan could negotiate with the Soviet Union then surely a strong and confident America can negotiate with less powerful adversaries today.

Watch this C-SPAN video clip of the nuclear Iran segment of his SOTUS:

The immediate reaction was clearly stony silence from the Republican members of both chambers in the audience.

According to a  Jerusalem Postarticle on the President’s veto threat, NWFIA co-sponsor Sen. Kirk said:

“The American people – Democrats and Republicans alike – overwhelmingly want Iran held accountable during any negotiations. While the president promises to veto any new Iran sanctions legislation, the Iranians have already vetoed any dismantlement of their nuclear infrastructure,” Kirk added, calling his bill an “insurance policy” for Congress.

The Hill  Global Affairs blog reported the dissembling  the morning after  the President’s SOTUS remarks on a nuclear Iran by some Democratic co-sponsors of NWFIA in the wake of the President’s public veto threat.  Note these Senators’ comments:

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) said on MSNBC Tuesday night that he didn’t endorse the bill so that it could be voted on during negotiations with Iran. “Give peace a chance,” he said.

“I did not sign it with the intention that it would ever be voted upon or used upon while we were negotiating,” Manchin said. “I signed it because I wanted to make sure the president had a hammer, if he needed it and showed them how determined we were to do it and use it, if we had to.”

[…]

“Now is not the time for a vote on the Iran sanctions bill,” Coons said Wednesday at a Politico event, according to The Huffington Post.

The senator clarified that he still supports the bill but warned advancing it now could damage ongoing negotiations toward a final agreement with Iran.

[…]

“I’m not frustrated,” Menendez told The Huffington Post on Tuesday after Obama’s address. “The president has every right to do what he wants.”

The Hill Global Affairs blog noted the Senate reaction  to NWFIA :

Sens. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), the second-highest ranking Democrat, Patty Murray (D-Wash.), the fourth-highest ranking Democrat, and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) have said they are against the bill.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has also suggested he’s leaning toward not allowing a vote on it.

On Wednesday, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) said the Senate should move the sanctions bill forward to the floor, predicting it would have a veto-proof majority.

Meanwhile, Reuters reported on Monday that lawmakers in both the House and Senate are considering a nonbinding resolution that expresses concern about Iran’s nuclear program.

Backing what Sen. Kirk said in his response to the President was further evidence from former  UN nuclear weapons inspector David Albright at the Washington, DC Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS).  Both he and the sanctions analysis team from the Foundation for Defense of Democracies held a well attended briefing for Capitol Hill Staffers on Monday, January 27th.  Albright was quoted in the Los Angeles Times citing an ISIS  report on the technical aspects of the accord implemented on January 20th that allows Iran to continue research over the next six months on several types of advanced centrifuges already at Natanz:

[The accord]  is not expected to seriously affect Iran’s centrifuge research and development program. Albright said he hopes to persuade the six powers to push for much stricter limits on centrifuge research and development when they negotiate the final agreement. The issue has to be addressed much more aggressively.

Cliff May of FDD, co-sponsor of the Capitol Hill event with Albright  of  ISIS,  observed in an NRO Corner article:

If Iran’s rulers faithfully comply with every commitment they have so far made, at the end of this six-month period, they will be about three months — instead of two months — away from breakout capacity.

Yesterday, at the annual conference of the  Institute for National Security studies (INSS)  at Tel Aviv University, there was a dialog between former CIA Director Gen. David Petreaus and Maj. Gen. Amos Yadlin,  former  IDF military intelligence chief.  The contrast between their positions on the Iran nuclear threat was most telling:

General (ret.) David Petraeus: The United States is war weary and suffers from a “Vietnam syndrome.” However, it still has major strategic capabilities, and President Obama will not hesitate to use force against Iran, if necessary.

Major General (ret.) Amos Yadlin: What keeps me awake at night is the Iranian issue. The Iranian nuclear program aspires to attain a nuclear capability. The only viable leverage – sanctions and a credible military threat – are weakening, and this is most worrisome. Also troubling: the status quo on the Palestinian issue is not favorable, and the relations with the United States are not on the same level as before – these must be restored.

If you are a gambler, which of the two former military leaders, would you bet on to make a decision in the sovereign national interests of Israel regarding a nuclear Iran?  I know who I would.

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared on The New English Review.

The Hate and Hypocrisy of the BDS Movement by Joseph Puder

As the academic year at University of California Santa Cruz was about to end in June, 2013, pro-Palestinian students initiated a resolution that called on the university to divest from companies profiting from the “Israeli occupation of Gaza and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem.” The resolution was defeated, yet the non-binding resolution that would have no effect on university policy is not as disconcerting as the atmosphere on campus that the anti-Israel and anti-Jewish students and professional provocateurs behind them seek to foster. They are bent on creating a climate that legitimizes and engenders anti-Israel, and anti-Jewish hostility.

The BDS (Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions against Israel) movement has assembled a rather strange sort of bedfellows. It is led by Arab-Muslim professional propagandists who seek Israel’s destruction, along with leftist students and faculty members seeking a ’cause,’ and non-better than one “to stick it to the Jews.” Among them, one could find naïve students with little understanding of the history of the Middle East or the Arab-Israeli conflict. It matters not that their cause is unjust, and transparently anti-Semitic, or that the Arab world unlike Israel’s open democracy is homophobic, enslaves women, is utterly intolerant of Christians and Jews, or that its schools breed hatred and misanthropy.

Those BDS champions on campuses throughout America and Europe do not want to be confused by facts about the Arab-Israeli conflict. Their minds are made up. They hate Israel because it is a success story and tolerant, and because it provides religious freedom, and human rights to its citizens in spite of Palestinian terrorism. They despise Israel because Arab-Muslim students on Israeli campuses can display their hatred of the Jewish state with impunity. Deep in their mashed heads they should know that similar demonstrations on Palestinian or Arab campuses against an Arab regime, or any pro-Israel and pro-Jewish display, would be met with violence and death. The terrorist alerts Israeli school children and college students face is something that the privileged students of the UC Santa Cruz’s of this world would never have to endure. They hate Israel mostly because it is willing to defend its citizens from Palestinian terrorists, and if it means checkpoints, and a barrier fence that inconveniences Palestinians, so be it.

On May 11, YNet News reported that the Irish BDS movement placed yellow stickers on Israeli products reading ‘for justice in Palestine — Boycott Israel’. Israeli Foreign Ministry said that “the phenomenon is severe and it is not by chance that the BDS organization chose to express its protest with a yellow sticker — which is reminiscent of dark days of racism and incitement,” a reference to the Nazi Holocaust in Europe.

Derek Hopper, a native of Ireland, where he studied history at the National University of Ireland, had this to say in a Times of Israel article, October 9, 2013: “Israelis may or may not be aware that Ireland is one of the most outspoken critics of Israel. I have written about why this is so before, and the reasons are too complex to address…but for whatever reason most Irish see Palestine as the plucky underdog[1] in the Middle East and not Israel, a country that produces genius after genius while being surrounded by millions of people who despise its very existence.”

Hopper continued, “Given our own experiences with Britain, we tend to see in any weaker power a kindred spirit. It doesn’t matter that we share many values with Israel and far fewer with Arabs, who, if they’ve heard of us, see us as drink-sodden libertines. Never mind that we should want to draw parallels with Israel, the true underdog in the region who against all the odds created a prosperous democracy[2] in a desert. In this battle many Irish have sided with the Palestinians and that’s just how it is.”

Hopper explained that, “Irish and global opposition to Israel in recent times has manifested itself in several ways. The most well-known of these is the BDS movement, which seeks to isolate Israel,[3] ‘in order to force change in Israel’s policies towards the Palestinians which opponents claim is discriminatory or oppressive.’ The Irony that the movement is one spearheaded by many Palestinians attending Israeli universities is apparently lost on its supporters. Comparisons with the odious apartheid regime in South Africa continue unabated despite a million Israeli Arab citizens enjoying more rights in Israel than anywhere in the Arab world.”

Student senates should question why so much time is being spent on critiquing one country — Israel, where democracy prevails, while excluding nations like Iran, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Sudan, Turkey, China, Hamas in Gaza, the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank, where no democracy exists and human rights of citizens are grossly violated, religious freedom is denied to Christians, and where ethnic minorities are being persecuted. The BDS movement denies charges of anti-Semitism but they appear rather hypocritical. To any even-handed observer the movement’s singling out of the world’s only Jewish nations appears suspect if not downright anti-Semitic.

The mantra often heard during BDS demonstrations is “end the occupation of Palestine.” This canard has no basis in history since there was never a recognized state named Palestine. The 1947 UN vote on partitioning Palestine into Jewish and Arab states was rejected by the Arab-Palestinians. Subsequently, the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan illegally occupied the West Bank (Judea and Samaria) while the Egyptians occupied Gaza. During the Jordanian occupation Jews were not allowed into the area, while Palestinian terrorists attacked and killed Israeli civilians within the Green Line.

UN Resolution 242 called for return of “territories,” not all the territories Israel captured in the Six Day War of June, 1967 and only in return for full peace. While the BDS movement condemns Israeli occupation and settlements, the Hamas founding charter does not mention occupation or settlements. It simply called for the complete destruction of the Jewish state.

The Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) currently headed by Mahmoud Abbas noted in its founding charter, written in 1964 (and not yet amended), three years before the Six Day War, while Jordan was in control of the West Bank, that (article 24) “This organization does not exercise[4] sovereignty over the West Bank,” calling instead for a “liberation of its homeland” meaning all of Israel within the Green Line.

It is safe to say that terror and violence perpetrated on Israelis has little to do with “occupation and settlements.” The myth that the occupation breeds violence was shredded when Israel withdrew from Gaza in 2005. Israel was assured by the International community that if it withdrew from Gaza, peace would flourish and violence would end. This proved to be deadly wrong, as millions of Israelis have been subjected to incessant missile attacks from Gaza. The conflict Israel has with the Palestinians is not about “occupation” of the West Bank, it is about the very existence of a Jewish state in the midst of a triumphalist Arab-Islamic ideology, which is intolerant of any non-Islamic independent political entities.

The BDS ignorance of Middle East realities can be seen in the inclusion of Gaza as part of Israeli occupation. The BDS movement is not only ignorant of facts it is guilty of hate peddling which has no room on campuses dedicated to learning and exploration of truth. It is high time for the U.S. Congress to enact legislation that bars hateful incitement and false propaganda by the purveyors of anti-Semitism, and their “useful idiots.” It is also time for campus officials to forbid the harassment and intimidation of pro-Israel students. The hypocrisy of the BDS movement is open to be seen and it is now time to act.

End Notes

[1] http://blogs.timesofisrael.com/dear-bds-movement-please-dont-be-hypocrites/

[2] http://blogs.timesofisrael.com/dear-bds-movement-please-dont-be-hypocrites/. The author, Derek Hopper, suggests if they’re going to boycott Israel, they should boycott what will affect the boycotters themselves — they should avoid using Israeli medications or medical techniques or drought-resistant plants Israelis, inter alia.

[3] http://blogs.timesofisrael.com/dear-bds-movement-please-dont-be-hypocrites/

[4] http://www.un.int/wcm/content/site/palestine/pid/12363

EDITOR’S NOTE:

One of the comments that added information.

Bamaguje

UN Resolution 242 called for return of ‘territories,’ not all the territories Israel captured in the Six Day War of June.” – Joseph Puder

If you ask me I’d say UN resolution 242 was flawed in calling for Israel to ‘return territories.’ Return to whom? Prior to the 1967 Arab-Israeli war, Jordan and Egypt illegally occupied West Bank and Gaza… which is why they later renounced their claims.

And there was no Palestinian nation to speak of in 1967. In fact as rightly pointed out in the article, PLO’s 1964 founding charter renounced all claims to West bank & Gaza. The only “Palestine” they were interested in “liberating” was Israel itself.

The so-called occupied West bank was the heartland of the Biblical Jewish kingdom, and Jews lived there continuously for over 3000 years until they were expelled by Jordan in 1948. When Israel reconquered the area in 1967, and Jews returned to Judea & Samaria, they were now called “occupiers.”

The last binding international agreement on Palestine – Britain’s illegal partition in 1922 – firmly places West Bank & Gaza in the Jewish portion of Palestine. Arabs got the lion share (77%) in that partition – Jordan. In essence, Palestinians already have their own state – Jordan.

ABOUT JOSEPH PUDER

Joseph Puder is a columnist at Front Page Magazine Previously, he was founder and executive director of the Interfaith Taskforce for America and Israel. This article appeared November 11, 2013 in Front Page Magazine and is archived here.