Other Voices | Wednesdays Wars : Watching Fox and Believing There is an IRS Scandal

Published on Feb 12, 2014

If you are capable of believing National Football League teams wrongfully discriminate against weak people who run slow and weigh less than 150 lbs and that they wrongfully favor strong people who run fast and weigh over 250 lbs, then you are capable of believing FOX and thinking there actually is an IRS scandal.

Let’s examine the law that FOX claims has been scandalously administered by the Internal Revenue Service. And, let’s take a look at the parties FOX claims have been wronged and those FOX claims have unfairly benefited from IRS actions.

What does the law say?

This whole sham controversy revolves around how the Internal Revenue Service has administered section 501c 4 of the Internal Revenue Code, which allows tax-exempt status “… for organizations not organized for profit, but operated exclusively for the promotion of social welfare …” Webster defines the term “social welfare” as “services for the assistance of disadvantaged groups.”

Those discriminated against according to FOX

FOX claims TEA Party groups have been unlawfully discriminated against by the IRS in the administration of the law.

Continue Reading………..

Other Voices | Wednesdays Wars: Book Review. Goliath: Life and Loathing in Greater Israel by Max Blumenthal

Published on Jan 7, 2014

Around the time of the 1982 Israeli invasion of Lebanon, I attended an event at a synagogue in Washington DC. The speaker was Abba Eban … former Foreign Minister of Israel, Cambridge-educated, erudite, probably the best public spokesman the state of Israel has ever had.

He was there to make the case for Israel on a number of matters, including the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. He used his famous line about Yasser Arafat, “he never misses an opportunity to miss an opportunity for peace.”

Eban, however, was quick to assure his mostly-Jewish audience that the Palestinian problem was not solely their fault. There was plenty of room for the Israeli government under Begin-Sharon to do more for peace.

Touching on how difficult his fellow countrymen could be to deal with, I remember, vividly, him saying that, “There are Jews in Israel that believe it’s not murder if a Jew kills a non-Jew.” A significant portion of the audience gasped.

I was surprised, not so much by the substance of the remark, but that he, one of the founding fathers of Israel, would say it in public in the US. Good for him.

Max Blumenthal does not have Abba Eban’s stature. Not by a long shot. He has, however, told some powerful and discomforting truths about life in present-day Israel. In doing so, as a Jew, he has no doubt alienated himself from a not-insignificant part of his own community in order to tell a story that the American press, in its pathetic timidity, is loathe to tell. Good for him. Damn good for him. Continue Reading………………..

Other Voices | Wednesdays Wars: Iran Deal, Bibi is not amused

Published on Dec 5, 2013

Working mostly in secret over a period of many months, Barack Obama and John Kerry have succeeded in putting together a deal on Iran’s nuclear program acceptable to our European allies plus China and Russia, whose closest border is less than 200 miles from Iran.

The deal was accomplished with minimal hand-holding of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin (Bibi) Netanyahu, and without giving him veto power over the final product.

Mon Dieu! What is this world coming to? An American President acting pursuant to American interests on a foreign policy matter in the Mideast. It’s been a while.

Bibi was not pleased. But, with a nuclear arsenal of his own and a hammerlock hold on the US Congress, he has options.

He could seek to blow up the deal in Congress, where Republicans are looking to embarrass the President on any and all issues, and many Democrats are aware that there is a price to be paid for getting crosswise with the Israel lobby.

He could strike Iran unilaterally, or he could calm down, stop grandstanding, and work with the President towards the best possible final deal. Continue Reading……….

Other Voices | Wednesdays Wars: Senator Amy Klobuchar in 2016: Minnesota Mellow in the Age of Rage

Published on Nov 1, 2013

Senator Amy Klobuchar grew up in Plymouth, MN, just down the road from Garrison Keillor’s mythical lake Wobegon, where “all the women are strong, all the men are good looking, and all the children are above average.”

Plymouth is the epicenter of the heartland … halfway between Portland, OR and Presque Isle, ME. Head west out of Plymouth and you hit Bismark, Billings, Bozeman, and Butte, and not a whole lot more before you come to Portland, OR.

It’s safe to say Amy Klobuchar is a country girl. It’s also safe to say she hit the Lake Wobegon trifecta.

She’s strong. She looks like she could hold up her end on the farm or anywhere else. Politically, she won the four races she’s been in … two for prosecutor in the state’s largest county, and two for the United States Senate.

In 2012, Minnesota was somewhat of a battleground state. Barack Obama won the state with 52% of the vote. Meanwhile, Amy, in her reelection bid, won the state with 65% of the vote.

That’s strong.

She’s good looking. Hey, it matters. Look at who wins elections: JFK, Reagan, Clinton, GWB, Obama. They all did better than average in the DNA lottery.

Amy has that open, friendly, unpretentious, upper middle-West look and manner. By senatorial standards, she clearly is not a power dresser. Continue Reading……..

Other Voices | Wednesdays Wars: Bibi at the UN: A Three Part Bomb

Published on Oct 3, 2013

Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s annual pilgrimage to the UN constituted a three-part cluster of bombs.

First, his Deputy Defense Minister, Danny Danon, published an Op-Ed in the New York Times, calling on Israeli to annul the Oslo Accords. Second, Bibi instructed his delegation to absent themselves from the hall during the speech by Iranian President Hassan Rouhani. Third, Bibi’s own speech was, as usual, pretty much an exercise in boast and bombast.

ISRAEL MINISTER: ANNUAL OSLO

In order to lay a foundation for Bibi’s main event speech, the deputy defense minister of Israel published an Op-Ed in the New York Times entitled, “Israel Should Annul Oslo Accords.”

Danon had traveled to New York with Bibi on the presidential plane. He is a person of consequence in Israeli poltitics. His comments are not those of some outlier.

The Oslo Accords were adopted 20 years ago. They formed the basis of President Clinton bringing Yasser Arafat and Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin together for an historic handshake at the White House.

Those on the Israeli right who want to annul Oslo are really saying that the status quo is just fine. Israel can establish more settlements on occupied land, and expand existing ones, thereby creating new facts on the ground.

Its friends in Congress will protect them from any do-gooder who happens to find his or her way into the White House.

If Palestinians continue to suffer in non-state and virtual non-human status with Israel’s foot on their neck, too bad. Have them call Jimmy Carter. Continue Reading…….

Other Voices | Wednesdays Wars: Obama’s Syria Team: Rodeo Clowns or Brain Surgeons?

OBAMA’S SYRIA TEAM: RODEO CLOWNS OR BRAIN SURGEONS?

Published on Sep 11, 2013

The 1962 Mets or the 1927 Yankees? It depends on who you ask and what day you ask it.

If you ask me, right now, the morning after the President’s speech to the country, I think Obama stopped the bleeding in the public perception of his leadership, and is more than halfway towards reclaiming the initiative on Syria. But that’s me, and I’m more often than not inclined to support Obama.

If you asked Charles Krauthammer, right-wing columnist for the Washington Post, who has been hammering Obama since Inauguration Day 2009, the same question at the same time, his answer was, “Obama’s most coherent statement so far. I’m glad he laid it out the way he did.” In other words, not bad, which is pretty good when it comes from the other side.

For Obama, getting to the September 10 speech was not pretty. If Obama ran either of his Presidential campaigns the way he handled the whole Syria episode, he’d still be either a US Senator or a practicing lawyer in Chicago. The message discipline of the campaigns was missing. Continue Reading…………

Other Voices | Wednesdays Wars: Sheldon Adelson’s Rottweiler

August 7, 2013

Ruthie Blum writes a column for Sheldon Adelson’s online daily, Israel Hayom.

Ms. Blum sees the world as divided into two groups: those who love Israel enough; and those who don’t.

To qualify for the first group, the bar is high. It requires a level of obsequiousness towards all things Israel to which many are not willing to sink.

Newt got there. He called the Palestinians “an invented people.” Sheldon recognized Newt’s love in the appropriate manner … about $10 million. Mitt got there. He said “the Palestinians have an inferior culture.” Sheldon did his part … generously.

President Obama just never did click with Ms. Blum or her boss. By her lights, when the United States did something for Israel during the Obama presidency, it wasn’t fast enough or big enough or done cheerfully enough. When he met with Bibi Netanyahu, the President didn’t seem happy enough to see him.

Well, all this has been just too much for Ms. Blum, with the President winning the election and all. On August 4, Ms. Blum posted a piece on Israel Hayom in which she referenced the Obama administration’s decision to temporarily close some embassies in the Middle East in response to intelligence assessments. Continue Reading…………………

Other voices | Wednesdays Wars: Malala Yousafzai, Judge Debra Nelson, Marion Bartoli: Doing Their Jobs

Judge Debra Nelson

Judge Debra Nelson, a former substitute school teacher and county prosecutor, was appointed by Governor Jeb Bush to the Circuit Court in Florida in May of 1999. She was chosen to sit on the Zimmerman case by a lottery selection process of Florida judges.

Before the Zimmerman trial began, she was reasonably well known in the Florida legal community, and totally unknown outside of the state. For the 15 days of the Zimmerman trial, she was the best-known judge in the world. Her every move was analyzed and dissected by millions worldwide.

One TV analyst described her as, “An equal-opportunity curmudgeon.” If being quietly competent, decisive, and prepared makes one a “curmudgeon”, she qualified. She exerted total control of the courtroom while allowing each side reasonable latitude to make their best case.

She respected the gravity of the occasion. She had the mother and father of a dead teenager in the same room with his admitted killer, and the parents of the killer. She successfully ensured an orderly and fair proceeding. Continue Reading…………

Other voices | Wednesday’s Wars: Hagel. Does he love Israel enough?

Published on Feb 1, 2013

Decorated Vietnam War veteran and two-term United States Senator Chuck Hagel spent 8 hours on the witness chair, trying to convince 26 members of the Senate Armed Services Committee that his love for Israel was sufficient to warrant confirmation as Secretary of Defense. Everything else was of secondary importance for the Committee.

I watched the hearing gavel to gavel … from 9:30am to about 6:00pm. The slobbering and fawning over Israel was embarrassing. Israel was mentioned constantly, and usually referred to as, “our most important ally.” The names and security needs of the 27 countries who have provided troops to fight and die alongside ours in Afghanistan were not mentioned or considered.

No Committee member was so uncool as to mention that Israel did not assist us in either Iraq or Afghanistan. I guess the lesson is that once you achieve “most important ally” status, you don’t need to actually do anything … just cash the checks. Good work if you can get it.

When not questioning whether Chuck Hagel loved Israel enough, Republican Senators went to considerable length to probe whether Hagel would be willing to demonstrate that love by killing Iranians. Hagel repeated the Obama position that all options involving Iran and the nuclear problem are on the table. Continue reading…..