Hagel, Hamas and the US Senate by Caroline Glick

Former Senator Chuck Hagel, Barack Obama’s nominee for US Defense Secretary will likely get confirmed by the Senate today when his appointment comes up for a vote.

Hagel supports US engagement with Hamas. He also allegedly received money from a Hamas-associated organization.

In all the verbiage we are exposed to everyday, sometimes it is hard to understand the significance of positions like this. On its face, when taken in isolation from reality, calling for the US to engage Hamas seems like an eminently reasonable position. After all, Hamas won the 2006 Palestinian elections. It seized control of Gaza in 2007. It is powerful. Why should the US refuse to legitimize it? Doesn’t America like the Palestinians? And didn’t the Palestinians choose to be led by Hamas? How can America support the Palestinians and disavow their democratically elected leaders?

But then, nestled up next to these arguments is a little thing called reality. And beyond Harvard-styled pseudo-sophisticated pontifications, it is important to consider the actual significance of a position like that of the soon-to-be-confirmed US Secretary of Defense. Who and what is Hagel seeking to legitimize by adopting this position? What is Hamas?

So here is a clip from 2010 of a speech by senior Hamas leader, (and respected physician), Mahmoud al-Zahar.

All the senators who plan to vote for Hagel, as well as those, led by Senator John McCain who refuse to filibuster his appointment, need to be asked whether they agree that Hamas should be engaged by the US. And if they don’t agree, then how do they justify their support for a man who feels comfortable sitting down with Hamas? Do they think that Hagel’s position is a reasonable, legitimate position that they respectfully disagree with? If so, can they explain what is reasonable and legitimate about his position?

Oh, and just in case they think that al-Zahar’s position is somehow not that of Hamas’s top leaders, here’s a link to and interview last week with Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal on the BBC’s Hardtalk. He categorically rejected the two-state solution. He made clear that at no time will Hamas agree to accept Israel. Rather, Hamas will continue to seek Israel’s annihilation in accordance with the wishes of the overwhelming majority of the Palestinian people.

In the interview, Mashaal also refused to disavow or in any way express regret for the speech he made in Gaza where he called for Israel’s complete annihilation, in accordance with Hamas’s covenant and the teachings of Hassan al Banna, the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, as Banna is quoted in the Hamas covenant.

Here’s that speech from December 27, 2012.

Obama’s Economic Growth Record Is The Worst In 60 Years By Jeffrey H. Anderson

    0.8% — The Abysmal Rate of Economic Growth under Obama

President Obama’s defense of his economic stewardship has effectively amounted to this: At least we no longer have the Bush-era economy. With an entire 4-year term in the books, it’s now possible to confirm, and to lament, the essential truth of those words.

Prior to Obama, the second term of President Bush featured the weakest gains in the gross domestic product in some time, with average annual real (inflation-adjusted) GDP growth of just 1.9%. That’s according to figures from the federal government’s own Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA).

Obama’s first term, however, puts the paltry level of growth during Bush’s second term in a newly favorable light. According to the BEA, average annual real GDP growth during Obama’s first term was a woeful 0.8%.

To put Obama’s mind-bogglingly low number in perspective, consider this: It was less than half the tally achieved during Bush’s second term. It was barely a quarter of the tally achieved under President Carter.

It was the worst tally achieved during any presidential term in the past 60 years.

Read More At IBD:

SideBear: With these kind of numbers … how in the world did he get reelected? The only plasuible answer is …the voting public is Stuck on Stupid!

CBO: If Debt Not Addressed, Stimulus Spending Will be a ‘Drag’ on Future Economic Growth By Matt Cover

Congressional Budget Office Director Douglas Elmendorf said that unless Congress gets the federal budget under control, stimulus spending policies will be a “drag” on the economy in the future as the government struggles to pay the increased debt.

“If cuts in taxes or boosts in spending that stimulate the economy in the short run are not offset by some later tightening of fiscal policy, then the extra debt that is accumulated will be a drag in the long run,” Elmendorf told the Senate Budget Committee on Tuesday.

Read more from CNSNews.com

A Business Perspective on the Federal Debt By Steve Conover

A proper analysis of the debt burden tells a much different story than the debt level by itself.

Until recently, Republicans were perceived as the business-savvy party. But in the time since Reagan left office, the party’s business veterans, whose wealth-creation expertise had been a major force driving both the party’s agenda and the nation’s economic growth, have gradually lost their mantle of agenda leadership. What happened? Did they all retire before passing the baton to the next generation? Did they forget to train their replacements? More than ever, our sluggish economy needs a large, sustained injection of wealth-creation expertise to help balance the dominant wealth-redistribution agenda. In any case, the relative silence of the business-savvy group within the GOP has been deafening, and it’s high time the next generation started speaking up.

Take the party’s stance on the federal debt, for example. Everybody who’s paying attention knows that total federal debt is $16.4 trillion, and that the public holds $11 trillion or so of that debt. Both of those numbers are incomprehensibly large. But, as incomprehensible as they are, today’s squeaky-wheel Republicans just keep repeating that single number, $16.4 trillion, without doing what a responsible business manager would do: place it into some kind of context, to help us decide whether the debt (or its trend) is out of control, tame, or somewhere in between.

Fortunately, there is a way to place the federal debt into better context. It’s a simple way to shed light on the debt burden of any given corporation, and to help people gain a better understanding of the federal debt.

The Debt Burden: Not the Same as the Debt Level

Read more from The American

Why gas prices are rising

It’s happening again. It’s not even close to the summer driving season — in fact, it’s not even springtime — but as surely as February gives way to March, gas prices have begun their annual assent. “There’s no shortage,” said Andrew Lebow, an energy broker at Jefferies Bache in New York. “But there’s anticipation that as refineries go down, stockpiles will draw.” Investors are moving their cash into energy futures, attracted by the improving economy and potentially lower gasoline supplies. In early December, 11.7% of the most commonly traded U.S. oil futures contracts were held by investment funds betting the price would go higher, according to the Commodity Futures Trading Commission. As of last week, that number jumped to 15%. That money-movement ritual happens every spring, according to Tom Kloza, chief oil analyst at the Oil Price Information Service. Each year, though, it seems to be happening earlier and earlier, he said.

Read more from CNN