Sen. Lankford: Yet to hear White House strategy for ISIS

Republican member of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and the Select Committee on Intelligence weighs in

Quote of the Day 11/24/15

“Is a democracy, such as we know it, the last improvement possible in government? Is it not possible to take a step further towards recognizing and organizing the rights of man? There will never be a really free and enlightened State until the State comes to recognize the individual as a higher and independent power, from which all its own power and authority are derived, and treats him accordingly. I please myself with imagining a State at least which can afford to be just to all men, and to treat the individual with respect as a neighbor; which even would not think it inconsistent with its own repose if a few were to live aloof from it, not meddling with it, nor embraced by it, who fulfilled all the duties of neighbors and fellow-men. A State which bore this kind of fruit, and suffered it to drop off as fast as it ripened, would prepare the way for a still more perfect and glorious State, which also I have imagined, but not yet anywhere seen.”– Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862) American author

Who is being delusional? by Caroline Glick

On Tuesday night Channel 10 broadcast an interview with PLO chief and Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas in which Abbas admitted publically for the first time that he rejected the peace plan then prime minister Ehud Olmert offered him in 2008.

Olmert’s plan called for Israel to withdraw from the entire Old City of Jerusalem, including the Western Wall, and from 93.7 percent of Judea and Samaria. Olmert also offered sovereign Israeli territory to the Palestinians to compensate for the areas Israel would retain in Judea and Samaria.

Abbas said his rejection was unequivocal. “I didn’t agree. I rejected it out of hand.”

For years, the story of Abbas’s rejection of Olmert’s 2008 offer has been underplayed. Many commentators have insisted Abbas didn’t really reject it, he just failed to respond.

But now the truth is clear. Abbas is not interested either in peace or in Palestinian statehood.

Abbas’s many apologists in the Israeli Left insist that he didn’t reject the plan on its merits. Rather, they argue, Abbas rejected Olmert’s offer because by the time Olmert made it, he was steeped in criminal investigations that forced him to resign from office eight months later.

Hogwash, says former AP reporter Mark Lavie. Following the interview’s broadcast Lavie countered that if Abbas was truly interested in establishing an independent Palestinians state, he wouldn’t have cared about the political fortunes of the Israeli prime minister. He would have taken the offer and run knowing that, as Olmert said, the likelihood that he’d get a similar offer in the next 50 years was nonexistent.

The most notable reaction to Abbas’s admission was the reaction that never came. The Israeli Left had no reaction to his interview.

Abbas is the hero of the Left.

He is their partner. He is their moderate. He is their man of peace. Abbas is the Palestinian leader to whom every leftist politician worth his snuff, from opposition leader Yitzhak Herzog to the Meretz Knesset faction make regular pilgrimages to prove their devotion to peace.

Their man in Ramallah received the most radical offer ever to see the light of day. And rather than accept it, he rejected it out of hand and refused to meet with Olmert ever again, and he openly admits it.

The Left’s non-response is not surprising. Abbas’s decision to end all speculation about whether or not he is a man of peace is merely the latest blow reality has cast on their two-state formula.

The Left’s policy of land for peace failed more than 15 years ago when Abbas’s boss Yassir Arafat preferred war to peace and initiated the worst campaign of terror that Israel had ever experienced.

Yet for the last 15 years, the Israeli “peace camp,” has never wavered in its view that despite it all, Israel must rid itself of Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem. Rather it members has grown angrier and angrier at their own people for abandoning them and less and less willing to agree that there is anything – including Israeli statehood itself – that is more important than giving up Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria.

The Left’s reactionary position was on full display last Thursday at the annual “peace conference,” hosted by the far left Haaretz newspaper.

Last year, the conference’s audience attacked Jewish Home Party leader Naftali Bennett both verbally and physically when he presented his plan to apply Israeli sovereignty over parts of Judea and Samaria. This year it was Tourism Minister Yariv Levin’s turn to be assaulted.

Levin was subjected to constant catcalls from the audience, whose members called him “Goebbels” for arguing that the two-state formula has no chance of bringing peace and that the time has come to consider other options.

But Levin’s claims were simply common sense.

This week the Palestinian Center for Public Opinion published its most recent survey. The results were no surprise. Indeed, they were more or less consistent with historical survey results.

According to the PCPO data, 63 percent of Palestinians oppose holding peace talks with Israel. 58 percent think Mahmoud Abbas, whose term of office ended in 2009, should resign. A majority of Palestinians support a new assault or “intifada” against Israel. 42 percent of Palestinians support the use of terrorism against Israel.

Also this week, ahead of the Jerusalem Post’ Diplomatic Conference held Wednesday, the Post published a new poll of Israeli public opinion. According to the data, 46 percent of Israelis support a policy of separating from the Palestinians through the establishment of a Palestinian state. 35 percent of Israelis support applying Israeli sovereignty to Judea and Samaria. For Israelis under 45, the numbers are reversed.

Today a majority of Likud Knesset members and all members of the Jewish Home’s Knesset faction oppose Palestinian statehood and support applying Israeli law to all or parts of Judea and Samaria.

Rather than deal with the fact that neither the Palestinians nor the Israelis support their two-state model, the Left has decided to ignore both.

The Haaretz conference last week hosted a panel discussing whether the two state paradigm remains viable. In his remarks, Prof. Shlomo Ben Ami, who served as foreign minister in 2000 during the failed Camp David peace summit, explained that given the Israeli and Palestinian publics’ rejection of the two-state formula, (but especially the Israeli rejection of it), the UN Security Council determine Israel’s final borders. In other words, from Ben Ami’s perspective, withdrawing from Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria is more important than maintaining Israel’s independence and governing in accordance with the will of the people.

When the panel’s moderator expressed concern that the mass expulsion of Israelis from their communities in Judea and Samaria, which the two-state formula requires would cause a civil war within Israeli society, Ben Ami just shrugged his shoulders.

“I don’t delude myself. I never deluded myself that this would be a boy scouts’ trip,” he said.

“You can’t do this through consensus….Consensus is the great enemy of leadership,” he said.

Ben Ami continued, “War unites, peace divides…A leader who wants to make peace will always have a split nation behind him.”

MK Meirav Michaeli, who serves as the Zionist Union’s Knesset faction head said for her part that the greatest obstacle to peace is Israel. Ever since Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated, Israel hasn’t had a leader willing to do what it takes to make peace.

In Michaeli’s view, when the Left next forms a government, it will need to adopt – as is opening position in negotiations – the position that Israel shares responsibility for the fate of the so-called “Palestinian refugees.”

Michaeli explained, “Israel needs to be part of a coalition that will find a solution,” for the descendants of the Arabs that left Israel during the 1948-1949 pan-Arab invasion of the infant state of Israel.

Michaeli also insisted that Israel needs to stop demanding that the Palestinians recognize the Jewish state’s right to exist. Israel should suffice instead with a Palestinian acknowledgment that it does indeed exist.

It goes without saying that there has never been, and there never will be a majority of support in Israel either for Ben Ami’s position or for Michaeli’s position. This is the reason that they prefer to ignore the Israeli people and wait for “the world” to save “the peace” for them.

This brings us to the 46 percent of Israelis who would like to separate from the Palestinians and let them have a state.

The only reason that a plurality of Israelis still supports a policy that has failed continuously for the past fifteen years is because the Israeli Left has blocked all discussion of alternative policies.

Over the past twenty years, the Left has implemented three policy initiatives: the peace process with the PLO from 1993 to 2000, the unilateral withdrawal from south Lebanon in 2000 and the unilateral withdrawal from Gaza in 2005. These policies never enjoyed the sustained support of the majority of the public.

To the extent they ever mobilized the temporary support of bare majorities of public, they did so only because the media campaigned continuously on behalf of these initiatives. Not only did key all the mass circulation newspapers and all major broadcast media outlets support these plans, they blocked all debate about them. Opponents were demonized as extremists.

And this brings us to the 35 percent of Israelis who support applying Israeli sovereignty to Judea and Samaria.

It is this virtual blackout on coverage of opposing views that makes the results of the Post’s opinion poll remarkable. In the absence of almost any public discussion of the possibility of applying Israeli sovereignty over Judea and Samaria aside from the self-generated publicity of advocates of the position, more than a third of Israelis overall, and a plurality of young Israelis supports it.

Over the past week, Netanyahu has been asked his opinion of the prospects for unilateral Israeli actions towards the Palestinians three times, once in Washington and twice in Jerusalem. Netanyahu’s responses have been enigmatic. But collectively they lend the clear impression that the premier does not support unilateral Israeli withdrawals from Judea and Samaria and at least in principle, does not oppose the sovereignty model.

In his remarks at the Post’s conference Wednesday, Netanyahu said cagily, “There are all sorts of unilateral moves in all sorts of directions. Wait and see. And they are not necessarily in the direction you think.”

Speaking to the Likud’s Knesset faction on Monday Netanyahu clarified his remarks on the subject last week in Washington saying, “I didn’t say unilateral withdrawals. I said unilateral steps. You can imagine what I mean – states are disintegrating and we will protect our interests.”

Sitting next to Ben Ami at the Haaretz conference was the lone non-leftist on the panel. Halachic expert Malka Puterkovsky said that in her view, Israel should apply its sovereignty over all of Judea and Samaria. Doing so, she argued, will not risk Israel’s future as a Jewish state.

Both the audience and her fellow panelists reacted to her statements with a the same extreme hostility with which they responded to Bennet and Levin.

When Ben Ami — the man who thinks it is more important for Israel to expel some one hundred thousand Israelis from their homes than avert a civil war, and prefers borders forced on Israel by the UN to Israeli democracy and independence – was asked his opinion of Puterovsky’s position, he called the notion of Israeli sovereignty over Judea and Samaria “delusional.”

We need to take Netanyahu’s coy responses to questions about unilateralism as an invitation to begin a serious public discussion of the option. The public wants this discussion and we need this discussion.

As for how the peace camp will respond, well, there are worse things than aving reactionaries call you “delusional.”

Originally published in The Jerusalem Post.

Obamacare crumbling before our eyes By Washington Examiner

It wasn’t very long ago that President Obama would jeer at Republicans for the many congressional votes they had taken to amend or repeal his healthcare law. But, much though he loves to jeer — his shameful and unpresidential fit of pique about GOP concerns on terrorists camouflaged as refugees, was a recent example — the president may soon beg them for a few more such votes. Because as its sixth birthday approaches, his health insurance law is in critical condition.

The latest bad Obamacare news came on Thursday, when America’s largest insurer had to tell Wall Street that it is losing its shirt by participating in the Obamacare exchanges. In a press release, UnitedHealth Group slashed its earnings outlook, causing its stock to fall by 6 percent in the first few minutes of trading.

The release notes that although the rest of UnitedHealth’s business is performing “in line with expectations,” its earnings would take a $425 million hit in 2015 and 2016 thanks to “projected losses on individual [Obamacare] exchange-compliant products.”

The company may announce next that it is dropping out of the Obamacare exchange business altogether, CEO Stephen Hemsley later explained in a conference call with investors. That would mean that more than half a million Obamacare exchange customers will have to find new health plans.

“We cannot sustain these losses,” Hemsley said. “We can’t really subsidize a marketplace that doesn’t appear at the moment to be sustaining itself.” He added that he saw “no data pointing to improvement” in the exchange market.

UnitedHealth is a big company that can survive this kind of setback, but not every year. And there are other insurers who could not take it even once. Twelve of Obamacare’s 23 exchange co-ops have recently folded. Other insurers have abandoned state marketplaces. The consequences of an insurer exodus, however large it ends up being, will be an unpleasant increase in premiums in 2017. That will come on top of the dramatic 2016 rate hikes that were announced in many states this summer.

The root causes of this debacle are deeply troubling — a system so badly conceived and constructed that a company with a proven track record in making money on health insurance loses nearly half a billion dollars.

Obamacare’s exchanges held forth the promise of government-subsidized health insurance, for which people cannot be turned down or even charged a bit more based on even expensive pre-existing health conditions. The result is that a disproportionate number of those who hurried to sign up for exchange plans did so because they already needed expensive treatments.

The hope was that as time went on, healthier and younger customers would sign up too. That didn’t happen, and now most sensible people have abandoned that pipe dream. Obamacare’s exchanges are projected to enroll only half as many people as originally expected.

The incredible shrinking president: Obama’s words belittle the office BY ANDREW MALCOLM

Constitutionally, Barack Obama has 427 days left in his second term.

But actually, the Democrat has already abdicated his role in the highest office that his countrymen can ever bestow.

His petty, petulant remarks recently and especially abroad this week confirmed the sadness.

Obama’s not even a lame duck anymore. Ironic that he controls the most power on the planet. But stands before us and the world now as a mere shell of an American leader, bereft of any real influence or earned stature. He’s ignored by Russia, defied by Iran. Instead of respect, he gets heads shaking.

Growing numbers of Americans, even fellow Democrats, are not just shocked by recent Obama behaviors. They are disturbed. Maybe even frightened for our country, their kids, like many of us facing these last 14 unpredictable months of his reign. Not that its new Obama behaviors, but the same ones more frequent and extreme.

Obama has always tried to appear detached from events around him. He’s not afraid of anything, understand. He’s just so much more intelligent than mere mortals that he can’t be bothered. Now, Obama’s simply detached — from world events, from political priorities, from reality.

The U.S. economy is roaring back. Not a scintilla of IRS corruption. No national security damage in Hillary Clinton’s unsecure private email server. ObamaCare is a huge success. The VA’s hospital system is fixed. American global influence and approval has never been greater. The Fort Hood shootings were workplace violence. Russia’s annexation of Crimea will not stand.

Benghazi was about a video. Global warming is the worst national security threat. Iran will self-police itself from acquiring nuclear weapons. ISIS is minor league. Its forces are contained. The death of 130 Parisians is a setback. Putin is isolated. A deadly Delta Force-ISIS firefight was not combat.

There’s no such thing as radical Islam. Yemen is an anti-terrorism success story. Releasing Guantanamo terrorists cripples al Qaeda recruiting. He can change laws by fiat.

Obama’s 10,000+ authorized Syrian refugees are all widows and orphans. Each of them will be thoroughly vetted — trust him and the U.N. — despite the absence of any documentation, databases or functioning governments there. Just like the refugee Tsarnaev boys. Oh, wait! They were the Boston bomber brothers.

Wednesday in Manila a self-indulgent Obama took his political cynicism to a new level, acting shocked — shocked, mind you — that the opposition party (and, psst, leaders in Obama’s own party) were voicing the concerns and fears of millions about a wave of Syrian refugees, possibly peppered with terrorists, as occurred in Paris and Boston.

Instead of trying to assuage the fears with facts as a genuine leader might, Obama fell back on petty, political posturing beneath his office.

“Apparently,” Obama opined during a news conference with Philippine President Benigno Aquino, “they’re scared of widows and orphans coming into the United States of America as part of our tradition of compassion. First, they were worried about the press being too tough on them during debates. Now they’re worried about three-year-old orphans. That doesn’t sound very tough to me.” You can read Obama’s other 940 outraged refugee words here.

Obama might have had a point if he or Yawn Kerry had made the slightest bid to explain their peremptory refugee decision at any time in the two months since they arrogantly announced it. As a regal Obama also failed to do when he decided to bring Ebola patients into the U.S., despite widespread public fears. He wasn’t worried. So, no one else should be.

One of Obama’s numerous dubious legacies will be the historic calculations of how much hope and goodwill the first black president squandered by stooping to cheap behavior more worthy of the Chicago City Council than the Oval Office. Our IBD Editorial Board colleagues commented on that here.

Obama arrived in office with so much promise and so many promises, including bridging Washington’s bitter partisan divide. So uninterested was Obama in fulfilling that promise that, for but one example, he took fully 542 days to meet with the Senate Republican leader. But to Obama, the fault always lies elsewhere. As he now claims with this refugee resistance.

As one little-noticed result, in 2012 Obama became the first president since World War II to win reelection with fewer popular votes than his initial victory. Almost 3.6 million Americans changed their mind about him. As more time passes and his delusions and inappropriate behaviors accumulate, those numbers of changed minds are only likely to grow, sadly.

Source: Investor’s Business Daily: