President Obama's recent charm offensive in Israel apparently had two aims: 1) lull Israel into forfeiting timely military action against Iranian nukes in the hope that Obama will stop them, and 2) convince Israelis that now is the time to revisit the land-for-peace formula. For years, the conventional wisdom – among Israel's peace camp and its proponents abroad (Obama included) – has been that if Israel just relinquishes enough territory to its enemies, peace will arrive. But on most of Israel's borders, history has revealed the naïve folly behind an idea that could just as aptly be called "land-for-war."
Consider Syria. From 1948 to 1967, the Syrians regularly fired artillery shells from their dominant positions on the Golan Heights down at Israeli border communities and Fatah used the territory to launch terrorist raids into Israel, until Israel captured it in 1967. But since the US-brokered talks between Israel and Syria began in 1999, peaceniks have posited that a full withdrawal by Israel from the strategic plateau in exchange for peace with Syria involved a risk worth taking. Their rationale was that – in an era dominated more by aerial threats (jets and missiles) than terrestrial ones (soldiers and tanks) – the territory was no longer vital to Israeli security and could be traded for a double boon: peace with Syria and elimination of Iran's greatest strategic ally.
Current events reveal the deeply flawed assumptions underpinning the land-for-peace-with-Syria paradigm. No Israeli territorial concession is needed for Iran to lose its only Arab ally; the Syrian civil war will ultimately accomplish that. Basher Assad's regime will eventually fall because the daily slaughter of one's own people (with over 70,000 dead) is unsustainable when each atrocity can be instantly uploaded to the Internet. Whoever replaces Assad will be no friend to those who armed, funded, and prolonged his massacres: Iran and Russia. Iran and its proxy Hezbollah have also been substantially involved in fighting the rebels on the ground, and thus will be distanced from post-war Syria far more than any Israeli-Syrian peace could have separated Iran and Syria. more >>
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said Sunday he was encouraged that President Barack Obama will include some entitlement reforms in his budget proposal, which is expected this week. Though Obama does not go far enough, it demonstrates a willingness to compromise on a "grand bargain," Graham said on NBC's "Meet the Press."
The grand bargain would lower deficit spending two ways: first, it would reduce the long term growth of government by reforming entitlement spending; and second, it would increase government revenue without increasing tax rates by reforming the tax code.
Obama's budget proposal will include a reform to Social Security that will lower the growth rate of benefits to what is called "chained CPI," and include reforms to Medicare that will cut payments to service providers, according to White House sources. more >>
Call him the president of nice.
Perhaps the first president in America's history to talk diplomatic relations between adults and children with a child representative, President Barack Obama did just that this week when he hosted Internet sensation Kid President Robby Novak at the White House this week.
His advice, be nice, and the kid agrees. more >>
The White House concluded its week of Easter celebrations with a breakfast reception by Vice President Joe Biden and President Barack Obama at the White House Friday morning, where the leaders discussed the importance of Christ's sacrifice to the world.
"In these sacred days, those of us as Christians remember the tremendous sacrifice Jesus made for each of us – how, in all His humility and His grace, He took on the sins of the world and extended the gift of salvation. And we recommit ourselves to following His example – to loving the Lord our God with all our hearts and all our souls and with all our minds, and to loving our neighbors as ourselves," Obama said to a crowd of 135 attendees, including many pastors and priests, adding in jest that he does not like preaching in front of people who do it for a living.
"That's the eternal spirit of Easter. And this year, I had – I think was particularly special for me because right before Easter I had a chance to feel that spirit during my trip to the Holy Land," the U.S. president added, referring to his recent trip to Israel. more >>
President Barack Obama will return 5 percent of his salary to the Treasury to show solidarity with federal workers who must take unpaid leave due to deep spending cuts that went into effect last month, the White House said.
"The salary for the president, as with members of Congress, is set by law and cannot be changed," White House Secretary Jay Carney told reporters traveling with the president in Colorado and California on Wednesday. "However, the President has decided that to share in the sacrifice being made by public servants across the federal government that are affected by the sequester, he will contribute a portion of his salary back to the Treasury. He instructed his staff he wanted to do this when the sequester took effect."
The self-imposed 5 percent cut from the president's annual salary of $400,000 comes to $20,000, which would match the level of cuts to non-defense government agencies, according to Reuters. more >>
A coalition of 13 attorneys general issued a collaborative letter to the Obama administration, urging it to provide exemptions to privately owned businesses under its Department of Health and Human Services' contraception mandate, arguing that it violates religious liberties otherwise.
The letter argues that the White House's modifications made to the HHS mandate reward exemptions to religious nonprofits, large faith-based hospitals and universities, but fail to reward exemptions to for-profit business owners who object to the mandate on conscience grounds.
Religious institutions argue that the HHS mandate violates their religious liberties because it requires them to provide health care coverage for contraceptives and abortifacients. more >>