CNN Host Michael Smerconish to Speak at Ohev Shalom of Bucks County

Ohev Shalom of Bucks County is excited to announce that Michael Smerconish will speak at Ohev Shalom on Sunday, May 6, 2018 at 7:30 PM. The topic of the event will be “Divided We Stand.” According to a 2017 article in the Philadelphia Magazine, Mr. Smerconish will speak about how divided our nation has become through resentment politics, and he will explain why we must get involved now. The doors to Ohev Shalom will open at 6:30 PM.

 

Michael A. Smerconish is an American radio host and television presenter, newspaper columnist, author, and lawyer. He broadcasts The Michael Smerconish Program weekdays at 9:00 a.m. ET on SiriusXM’s POTUS Channel (124), and hosts the CNN and CNN International program Smerconish at 9:00 a.m. ET, with a re-play at 6:00 pm ET on Saturdays. He is a Sunday newspaper columnist for The Philadelphia Inquirer. Mr. Smerconish has authored six books: five non-fiction works and one novel. He is also of counsel to the Philadelphia law firm of Kline & Specter.

 

Tickets are available for purchase now until April 22, 2018. All seats will include a signed copy (non-personalized except as noted) of Mr. Smerconish’s book Talk: A Novel. According to Amazon.com, “with a story that could have been ripped from the headlines, deeply developed characters and interconnected plotlines, and one of the most shocking and rewarding denouements you’ll ever experience, this is the perfect political thriller for today’s America.” Tickets for Michael Smercanish’s discussion at Ohev Shalom of Bucks County can be purchased in one of several options:

  • $21 Student seating
  • $40 General seating
  • $76 Reserved Seating
  • $118 Premium seating that will include dessert reception with Michael Smerconish, a personalized signed copy of his book Talk: A Novel, and reserved parking.

 

Tickets can be purchased by mailing a form indicating number of tickets ordered per option with a check for the total amount made payable to Ohev Shalom of Bucks County. Alternatively, tickets can be purchased online by PayPal via the Constant Contacts link at https://goo.gl/QXufQL

 

For more information, please email [email protected]

Holding Obama’s Middle-Class Tax Cut Hostage

House Minority Leader John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) on Wednesday backtracked from remarks he made Sunday suggesting he would support extending the Bush tax cuts only for households with incomes below $250,000 a year, as President Obama has proposed.

At a news conference on Capitol Hill, Boehner repeatedly emphasized that he would support only legislation that kept in place all of the tax cuts. He sidestepped questions about how he and Republicans would vote if Democrats insisted on pushing through a measure that ends the tax cut on household incomes of more than $250,000 a year. Tax cuts for all incomes that passed in 2001 and 2003 under President George W. Bush are due to expire at the end of this year.

Washington Post

L’Shana Habaa b’Mitzrayim – Next Year in Egypt


Netanyahu, Abbas to Meet Again in Two Weeks to Pursue Peace Talks

  • Leaders to hold negotiations every two weeks
  • Talks described as “productive”
  • Both leaders condemn Iran-backed Hamas terrorist attacks

WASHINGTON, Sept 2 – Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas have agreed to meet again in Egypt Sept 14-15 and at regular two-week intervals after that to continue peace talks.

U.S. peace envoy George Mitchell told reporters: “They agreed that for these negotiations to succeed, [the talks] must be kept private and treated with sensitivity.”

Earlier, in public statements before going into private session with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Netanyahu and Abbas condemned the terrorist attacks that in the past two days claimed the lives of four Israeli civilians and left two more wounded.

Iran-backed Hamas claimed responsibility for the murders.

In his opening statement, Netanyahu said: “Just as you expect us to be ready to recognize a Palestinian state as the nation state of the Palestinian people, we expect you to be prepared to recognize Israel as the nation state of the Jewish people.
“There are more than a million non-Jews living in Israel, the nation state of the Jewish people, who have full civil rights. There is no contradiction between the nation state that guarantees the national rights of the majority and guaranteeing the civil rights, the full civil equality, of the minority.”

Abbas responded: “Yesterday we condemned the operations that were carried out. We did not only condemn them, but we also followed the perpetrators, and we were able to find the car that was used and to arrest those who sold and bought the car.

“And we will continue all our efforts to take security measures in order to find the perpetrators. We consider that security is of essence, is vital for both of us. And we cannot allow for anyone to do anything that would undermine your security and our security.”

Mitchell said Netanyahu and Abbas had agreed to seek a “framework” accord as part of their peace talks. The accord would lay out the compromises needed to complete a comprehensive peace treaty within a year, which all parties have set as a target to complete a comprehensive and final peace agreement.

Full text of remarks by President Obama, President Mubarak, His Majesty King Abdullah follow the jump.

UNITED STATE PRESIDENT OBAMA:  

Good evening, everyone.  Tomorrow, after nearly two years, Israelis and Palestinians will resume direct talks in pursuit of a goal that we all share — two states, Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace and security. Tonight, I’m pleased to welcome to the White House key partners in this effort, along with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and the representative of our Quartet partners, former Prime Minister Tony Blair.

President Abbas, Prime Minister Netanyahu, Your Majesty King Abdullah, and President Mubarak — we are but five men.  Our dinner this evening will be a small gathering around a single table.  Yet when we come together, we will not be alone.  We’ll be joined by the generations — those who have gone before and those who will follow.

Each of you are the heirs of peacemakers who dared greatly — Begin and Sadat, Rabin and King Hussein — statesmen who saw the world as it was but also imagined the world as it should be. It is the shoulders of our predecessors upon which we stand.  It is their work that we carry on.  Now, like each of them, we must ask, do we have the wisdom and the courage to walk the path of peace?  

All of us are leaders of our people, who, no matter the language they speak or the faith they practice, all basically seek the same things:  to live in security, free from fear; to live in dignity, free from want; to provide for their families and to realize a better tomorrow.  Tonight, they look to us, and each of us must decide, will we work diligently to fulfill their aspirations?

And though each of us holds a title of honor — President, Prime Minister, King — we are bound by the one title we share. We are fathers, blessed with sons and daughters.  So we must ask ourselves what kind of world do we want to bequeath to our children and our grandchildren.


Tonight, and in the days and months ahead, these are the questions that we must answer.  And this is a fitting moment to do so.

For Muslims, this is Ramadan.  For Jews, this is Elul.  It is rare for those two months to coincide.  But this year, tonight, they do.  Different faiths, different rituals, but a shared period of devotion — and contemplation.  A time to reflect on right and wrong; a time to ponder one’s place in the world; a time when the people of two great religions remind the world of a truth that is both simple and profound, that each of us, all of us, in our hearts and in our lives, are capable of great and lasting change.

In this spirit, I welcome my partners.  And I invite each to say a few words before we begin our meal, beginning with President Mubarak, on to His Majesty King Abdullah, Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Abbas.


EGYPTIAN PRESIDENT MUBARAK:

I am pleased to participate with you today in relaunching direct peace negotiations between Palestinians and Israelis.  Like you, and the millions of Palestinians, Israelis, Arabs and the rest of the world, I look forward that these negotiations be final and decisive, and that they lead to a peace agreement within one year.

Our meeting today would not have taken place without the considerable effort exerted by the American administration under the leadership of President Obama.  I pay tribute to you, Mr. President, for your personal, serious commit and for your determination to work for a peaceful settlement of the question of Palestine since the early days of your presidency.  I appreciate your perseverance throughout the past period to overcome the difficulties facing the relaunching of the negotiations.

(Continued as translated.)  I consider this invitation a manifestation of your commitment and a significant message that the United States will shepherd these negotiations seriously and at the highest level.

No one realizes the value of peace more than those who have known wars and their havoc.  It was my destiny to witness over many events in our region during the years of war and peace.  I have gone through wars and hostilities, and have participated in the quest for peace since the first day of my administration.  I have never spared an effort to push it forward, and I still look forward to its success and completion.

The efforts to achieve peace between the Palestinians and the Israelis encountered many difficulties since the Madrid Conference in October 1999, and progress and regression, breakthroughs and setbacks, but the occupation of the Palestinian Territory remains an independent — an independent Palestinian state is yet — remains a dream in the conscious of the Palestinian people.

There is no doubt that this situation should raise great frustration and anger among our people, for it is no longer acceptable or conceivable on the verge of the second decade of the third millennium that we fail to achieve just and true peace — peace that would put an end to the century of conflict, fulfill the legitimate aspirations of the Palestinian people, lift the occupation, allow for the establishment of normal relations between the Palestinians and Israelis.

It is true that reaching a just and comprehensive peace treaty between both sides has been an elusive hope for almost two decades.  Yet the accumulated experience of both parties, the extended rounds of negotiations, and the previous understandings, particularly during the Clinton parameters of 2000, and subsequent understandings of Taba and with the previous Israeli government, all contributed in setting the outline of the final settlement.

This outline has become well known to the international community and to both peoples — the Palestinian and Israeli people.  Hence, it is expected that the current negotiations will not start from scratch or in void.  No doubt, the position of the international community, as is stated in the consecutive statements of the Quartet, in particular, in its latest August 20th statement, paid due respect to relevant international resolutions and supported the outline of final settlements using different formulation without prejudice to the outcome of negotiations.

It has stressed that the aim of the soon-to-start direct negotiation is to reach a peaceful settlement that would end the Israeli occupation which began in 1967, allowing for the independent and sovereign state of Palestine to emerge and live side by side in peace and security with the state of Israel.

I met with Prime Minister Netanyahu many times since he took office last year.  In our meetings, I listened to assertions on his willingness to achieve peace with the Palestinians, and for history to record his name for such an achievement.  I say to him today that I look forward to achieving those assertions in reality, and his success in achieving the long-awaited peace, which I know the people of Israel yearn for, just like all other people in the region.

Reaching just peace with the Palestinians will require from Israel taking important and decisive decisions — decisions that are undoubtedly difficult yet they will be necessary to achieve peace and stability, and in a different context than the one that prevailed before.

Settlement activities on the Palestinian Territory are contrary to international law.  They will not create rights for Israel, nor are they going to achieve peace or security for Israel.  It is, therefore, a priority to completely freeze all these activities until the entire negotiation process comes to a successful end.

I say to the Israelis, seize the current opportunity.  Do not let it slip through your fingers.  Make comprehensive peace your goal.  Extend your hand to meet the hand already extended in the Arab Peace Initiative.

I say to President Mahmoud Abbas, Egypt will continue its faithful support to the patient Palestinian people and their just cause.  We will continue our concerted efforts to help fulfill the aspirations of your people and retrieve their legitimate rights.  We will stand by you until the independent state of Palestine on the land occupied since 1967 with East Jerusalem as its capital.  We will also continue our efforts to achieve Palestinian reconciliation for the sake of the Palestinian national interest.

Once again, I’d like to express my thanks to President Obama, and I renew Egypt’s commitment to continue exerting all efforts, sharing honest advice and a commitment to the principles on which Arab and regional policy rests upon.

Please accept my appreciation, and peace be upon you. (Applause.)


JORDANIAN KING ABDULLAH:

(As translated.)  In the name of God most merciful, most compassionate, President Obama, peace be upon you.

(In English.)  For decades, a Palestinian-Israeli settlement has eluded us.  Millions of men, women and children have suffered.  Too many people have lost faith in our ability to bring them the peace they want.  Radicals and terrorists have exploited frustrations to feed hatred and ignite wars.  The whole world has been dragged into regional conflicts that cannot be addressed effectively until Arabs and Israelis find peace.

This past record drives the importance of our efforts today. There are those on both sides who want us to fail, who will do everything in their power to disrupt our efforts today — because when the Palestinians and Israelis find peace, when young men and women can look to a future of promise and opportunity, radicals and extremists lose their most potent appeal.  This is why we must prevail.  For our failure would be their success in sinking the region into more instability and wars that will cause further suffering in our region and beyond.

President Obama, we value your commitment to the cause of peace in our region.  We count on your continued engagement to help the parties move forward.  You have said that Middle East peace is in the national security interest of your country.  And we believe it is.  And it is also a strategic European interest, and it is a necessary requirement for global security and stability.  Peace is also a right for every citizen in our region.

A Palestinian-Israeli settlement on the basis of two states living side by side is a precondition for security and stability of all countries of the Middle East, with a regional peace that will lead to normal relations between Israel and 57 Arab and Muslim states that have endorsed the Arab Peace Initiative.  That would be — well, that would also be an essential step towards neutralizing forces of evil and war that threaten all peoples.

Mr. President, we need your support as a mediator, honest broker, and a partner, as the parties move along the hard but inevitable path of settlements.

Your Excellencies, all eyes are upon us.  The direct negotiations that will start tomorrow must show results — and sooner rather than later.  Time is not on our side.  That is why we must spare no effort in addressing all final status issues with a view to reaching the two-state solution, the only solution that can create a future worthy of our great region — a future of peace in which fathers and mothers can raise their children without fear, young people can look forward to lives of achievement and hope, and 300 million people can cooperate for mutual benefit.

For too long, too many people of the region have been denied their most basic of human rights:  the right to live in peace and security; respected in their human dignity; enjoying freedom and opportunity.  If hopes are disappointed again, the price of failure will be too high for all.

Our peoples want us to rise to their expectations.  And we can do so if we approach these negotiations with goodwill, sincerity and courage.  (Applause.)


ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER NETANYAHU:

Mr. President, Excellencies, Shalom Aleichem.  Shalom Alkulanu.  Peace unto us all.

I’m very pleased to be here today to begin our common effort to achieve a lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians.

I want to thank you, President Obama, for your tireless efforts to renew this quest for peace.  I want to thank Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Senator Mitchell, the many members of the Obama administration, and Tony Blair, who’ve all worked so hard to bring Israelis and Palestinians together here today.

I also want to thank President Mubarak and King Abdullah for their dedicated and meaningful support to promote peace, security, and stability throughout our region.  I deeply appreciate your presence here today.

I began with a Hebrew word for peace, “shalom.”  Our goal is shalom.  Our goal is to forge a secure and durable peace between Israelis and Palestinians.  We don’t seek a brief interlude between two wars.  We don’t seek a temporary respite between outbursts of terror.  We seek a peace that will end the conflict between us once and for all.  We seek a peace that will last for generations — our generation, our children’s generation, and the next.

This is the peace my people fervently want.  This is the peace all our peoples fervently aspire to.  This is the peace they deserve.

Now, a lasting peace is a peace between peoples — between Israelis and Palestinians.  We must learn to live together, to live next to one another and with one another.  But every peace begins with leaders.

President Abbas, you are my partner in peace.  And it is up to us, with the help of our friends, to conclude the agonizing conflict between our peoples and to afford them a new beginning. The Jewish people are not strangers in our ancestral homeland, the land of our forefathers.  But we recognize that another people shares this land with us.

I came here today to find an historic compromise that will enable both our peoples to live in peace and security and in dignity.  I’ve been making the case for Israel all of my life.  But I didn’t come here today to make an argument.  I came here today to make peace.  I didn’t come here today to play a blame game where even the winners lose.  Everybody loses if there’s no peace.  I came here to achieve a peace that will bring a lasting benefit to us all.

I didn’t come here to find excuses or to make them.  I came here to find solutions.  I know the history of our conflict and the sacrifices that have been made.  I know the grief that has afflicted so many families who have lost their dearest loved ones.  Only yesterday four Israelis, including a pregnant women  — a pregnant woman — and another woman, a mother of six children, were brutally murdered by savage terrorists.  And two hours ago, there was another terror attack.  And thank God no one died.  I will not let the terrorists block our path to peace, but as these events underscore once again, that peace must be anchored in security.

I’m prepared to walk down the path of peace, because I know what peace would mean for our children and for our grandchildren. I know it would herald a new beginning that could unleash unprecedented opportunities for Israelis, for Palestinians, and for the peoples — all the peoples — of our region, and well beyond our region.  I think it would affect the world.

I see what a period of calm has created in the Palestinian cities of Ramallah, of Janin, throughout the West Bank, a great economic boom.  And real peace can turn this boom into a permanent era of progress and hope.

If we work together, we can take advantage of the great benefits afforded by our unique place under the sun.  We’re the crossroads of three continents, at the crossroads of history, and the crossroads of the future.  Our geography, our history, our culture, our climate, the talents of our people can be unleashed to create extraordinary opportunities in tourism, in trade, in industry, in energy, in water, in so many areas.

But peace must also be defended against its enemies.  We want the skyline of the West Bank to be dominated by apartment towers — not missiles.  We want the roads of the West Bank to flow with commerce — not terrorists.

And this is not a theoretic request for our people.  We left Lebanon, and we got terror.  We left Gaza, and we got terror once again.  We want to ensure that territory we’ll concede will not be turned into a third Iranian-sponsored terror enclave armed at the heart of Israel — and may I add, also aimed at every one of us sitting on this stage.

This is why a defensible peace requires security arrangements that can withstand the test of time and the many challenges that are sure to confront us.  And there will be many challenges, both great and small.  Let us not get bogged down by every difference between us.  Let us direct our courage, our thinking, and our decisions at those historic decisions that lie ahead.

Now, there are many skeptics.  One thing there’s no shortage of, Mr. President, are skeptics.  This is something that you’re so familiar with, that all of us in a position of leadership are familiar with.  There are many skeptics.  I suppose there are many reasons for skepticism.  But I have no doubt that peace is possible.

President Abbas, we cannot erase the past, but it is within our power to change the future.  Thousands of years ago, on these very hills where Israelis and Palestinians live today, the Jewish prophet Isaiah and the other prophets of my people envisaged a future of lasting peace for all mankind.  Let today be an auspicious step in our joint effort to realize that ancient vision for a better future.  (Applause.)


PALESTINIAN AUTHORITY PRESIDENT ABBAS:  

(As translated.)  His Excellency President Barack Obama, His Excellency President Hosni Mubarak, His Majesty King Abdullah II, His Excellency Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Mrs. Hillary Clinton, Mr. Tony Blair, ladies and gentlemen.

I would like to start by thanking President Obama for his invitation to host us here today to relaunch the permanent status negotiations to reach a Palestinian-Israeli peace agreement covering all the permanent status issues within a year in accordance with international law and relevant resolutions.

As we move towards the relaunch of these negotiations tomorrow, we recognize the difficulties, challenges and obstacles that lie ahead.  Yet we assure you, in the name of the PLO, that we will draw on years of experience in negotiations and benefit from the lessons learned to make these negotiations successful.

We also reiterate our commitment to carry out all our obligations, and we call on the Israelis to carry out their obligations, including a freeze on settlements activities, which is not setting a precondition but a call to implement an agreed obligation and to end all the closure and blockade, preventing freedom of movement, including the (inaudible) siege.

We will spare no effort and will work diligently and tirelessly to ensure that these new negotiations achieve their goals and objectives in dealing with all of the issues:  Jerusalem, refugees, settlements, border security, water, as well as the release of all our prisoners — in order to achieve peace. The people of our area are looking for peace that achieves freedom, independence, and justice to the Palestinian people in their country and in their homeland and in the diaspora — our people who have endured decades of longstanding suffering.

We want a peace that will correct the historical injustice caused by the (inaudible) of 1948, and one that brings security to our people and the Israeli people.  And we want peace that will give us both and the people of the region a new era where we enjoy just peace, stability, and prosperity.

Our determination stems to a great extent from your willpower, Mr. President, and your firm and sweeping drive with which you engulfed the entire world from the day you took office to set the parties on the path for peace — and also this same spirit, exhibited by Secretary Hillary Clinton and Senator George Mitchell and his team.  The presence of His Excellency President Mubarak and His Majesty King Abdullah is another telling indication of their substantial and effective commitment overall, where Egypt and Jordan have been playing a supportive role for advancing the peace process.  Their effective role is further demonstrated by the Arab Peace Initiative, which was fully endorsed by all of the Arab states, and the Islamic countries as well.

This initiative served a genuine and sincere opportunity to achieve a just and comprehensive peace on all tracks in our region, including the Syrian-Israeli track and the Lebanese-Israeli track, and provided a sincere opportunity to make peace.

The presence here today of the envoy of the Quartet, Mr. Tony Blair, is a most telling signal, especially since he has been personally involved in the Palestinian Authority for many years and in the efforts for state building in Palestine.

Excellencies, the time has come for us to make peace and it is time to end the occupation that started in 1967, and for the Palestinian people to get freedom, justice, and independence.  It is time that a independent Palestinian state be established with sovereignty side by side with the state of Israel.  It is time to put an end to the struggle in the Middle East.

The Palestinian people who insist on the rights and freedom and independence are in most need for justice, security, and peace, because they are the victim, the ones that were harmed the most from this violence.  And it is sending message to our neighbors, the Israelis, and to the world that they are also careful about supporting the opportunities for the success of these negotiations and the just and lasting peace as soon as possible.

With this spirit, we will work to make these negotiations succeed.  And with this spirit, we are — trust that we are capable to achieve our historical, difficult mission — making peace in the land of peace.

Mr. Netanyahu, what happened yesterday and what is happening today is also condemned.  We do not want at all that any blood be shed, one drop of blood, on the part of the — from the Israelis or the Palestinians.  We want people in the two countries to lead a normal life.  We want them to live as neighbors and partners forever.  Let us sign an agreement, a final agreement, for peace, and put an end to a very long period of struggle forever.

And peace be upon you.  (Applause.)

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  

I want to thank all the leaders for their thoughtful statements.  I want to thank the delegations that are represented here because they are the ones who oftentimes are doing a lot of the work.  This is just the beginning.  We have a long road ahead, but I appreciate very much the leaders who are represented here for giving us such an excellent start.

And I particularly want to commend Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Abbas for their presence here.  This is not easy.  Both of them have constituencies with legitimate claims, legitimate concerns, and a lot of history between them.  For them to be here, to be willing to take this first step — the most difficult step — is a testament to their courage and their integrity and I think their vision for the future.

And so I am hopeful — cautiously hopeful, but hopeful — that we can achieve the goal that all four of these leaders articulated.

Thank you very much, everybody.

 

The Real Cost of Belt Tightening

Have you heard the news? The City of Camden plans to close their three public libraries, due to the economic crisis plaguing the nation. The Camden County library system is planning to take the Camden City libraries over, but they still spoke of closing some branches. State and municipal government are experimenting with similar pinchpenny ideas — the City of Philadelphia has planned “rolling blackouts” (they call them) of fire stations, whereby the stations are closed in revolving shifts for a couple of days or so. Colorado Springs plans to turn off a third of its street lights.

In Hawaii, public schools have closed on Fridays; Utah seriously debated either eliminating the 12th grade or making it optional. This is the point we have reached in this country – we have prided ourselves on our public school system, and we have always been told as kids, “Stay in school so you’ll get a good job.” Now with the economy in a shambles, there are no jobs to go to, good or bad. Plus, education is a way of empowerment, for personal growth; is education becoming a luxury, wasted on the likes of George W. Bush, an alumnus of Yale and the Harvard Business School? Look what it did for him, and us.

More after the jump…

For over thirty years, we have been inundated with calls to “limit big government”; the axiom is, government is in-and-of-itself incompetent, while the “free enterprise system” can do miracles. Part of that miracle making (the premise of the “supply-side economics” of Ronald Reagan) is to cut taxes on the most affluent of our citizens, who will invest their savings from their taxes into new equipment for their factories. Sounds like a good idea, right?
But the results are in — Factories are closed in this country and moved to foreign lands, where workers are repressed from organizing and get pocket change for wages; workers therefore lose their bargaining power when negotiating for wages and benefits, and the company reduces both, and the workers have no choice but to go along or lose both. The tax base is thereby also reduced, which means less comes in for taxes, and so services are reduced, such as schools, libraries, hospitals, police and fire stations, ambulance and emergency services, water sanitation, and street cleanup and repair, for example.
And for the corporations, they sic their lobbyists on Congress and the Executive branch — many lobbyists are veterans of both — and they get bailouts and tax breaks that, in the official mythology, stimulate the economy.
The official lie of welfare for the wealthy, socialism for the social register, is recycled after its failure; one of the gubernatorial candidates in South Carolina has been preaching this idea, tax cuts for corporations to stimulate economic growth, as if it’s so radical and brand new. (We Americans DO need to brush up on our history.)
The idea of community, of working for the betterment of the larger body, is treated like a joke at best, or (gasp!) COMMUNISM at worse. We are on our own, we are told, and we have to fight and kill each other for an insufficient number of jobs. Which we need to pay our bills. That is what has been passed off as “reality”. And what IS reality? Whatever the news media says it is? And what comprises the news media — whichever one you choose to believe?
Lately we hear the news flash that about one fifth of those surveyed believe that President Obama is a Muslim — and if he WERE a Muslim, why would that that a bad thing? He is definitely NOT a Muslim; I remember the  controversy around the Reverend Jeremiah Wright, pastor of the church Obama attended in Chicago. That shows Obama’s not a Muslim — but if you want to slander someone, you don’t need reality.
I have recently attended the event of the media Mobilizing Project (MMP, I’ve been active with them for a while), for the viewing of their first TV show, on the appalling health care system in this country, focusing  on Philadelphia. (Why not? Washington is NOT the whole country.) This is a step, a strong step, towards people in the community, working people that we are, creating our own media. MMPTV will be broadcast over PhillyCAM, the new public access cable system, which goes over Comcast channel 66; here is a strong alternative to the commercial corporate news media. MMP’s slogan is “Movements begin with the telling of untold stories.”
What’s on my calendar? On Monday September 6 will be the Labor Day parade and family celebration, which will start  with assembling at the Sheet Metal workers’ Hall, 1301 South Columbus Boulevard, at 9:00 AM; after which there will be a rally with speakers, and then the march down Columbus Boulevard, to the festival area of Penn’s Landing. (Activists need to have fun, too.)
The Progressive Organizing Workshop (POW) will take place at Community College of Philadelphia, 17th and Spring Garden streets, on Saturday, September 25, from 1:00 PM to 4:30 PM. The focus will be on organizing poor and working people — 98 percent of the population — for political action. For further information, contact Philadelphia Neighborhood Networks, at www.phillynn.org.
On Saturday, October 30, there will be the Town Meeting for Jobs Not Wars, at also at Community College of Philadelphia, 17th and Spring Garden streets. The stress will be on diverting our economic resources from military spending to peaceful pursuits that would create jobs for all. For more information, contact Tom Cronin, Director of the Comey Institute, St Joseph’s University, (215)353-1885, or e-mail [email protected]
I was pretty upset with the Shirley Sherrod incident; Sherrod, an official in the Agriculture Department, had to resign, somehow, because a video put out by Andrew Breitbart, one of the stars of Fox “News”, was edited to make it seem like she would discriminate against white farmers. The problem went so far that the NAACP repudiated Sherrod (not refudiated-so THERE, Sarah Palin!). But Sherrod and the NAACP made up, although she turned down an offer to rejoin the Obama administration. Why was a lie put forth by a rightist blogger accepted so readily?
Conservatives have the advantage of social respectability, that what they believe is the only socially acceptable and decent thing to think — the “conventional wisdom” — and anything that deviates from that is scrutinized, while the accepted conservative scenario is never questioned.
(And from the righting websites I’ve seen, they still believe their own lie that Breitbart exposed a racist regime in Washington — they live in their own parallel mental universe, which they force on those of us who still see reality.)
I was pleased, however, when President Obama showed some backbone supporting the construction of the Islamic Center in Manhattan. The right wing-dings, led by Sarah Palin and Newt Gingrich, whined about the center’s supposed proximity to the site of the World Trade Center, the site of the September 11 tragedy. It disgusts me how these overpriced and overpaid media-molded cretins can come to the most cosmopolitan area of the country and exploit the pain and fears of those who endured the tragedy, for their own vote-mongering and money hustling purposes.
I am a Jew, damn proud of it, and I stand by and for Israel; and I SUPPORT the right of my Muslim fellow Americans to construct their community center. And while we’re in Ramadan, let us give our greetings to our Muslim neighbors, and learn all we can about their faith.
Enjoy the summer while you can — I will — and I bit you all Happy Labor Day. Bye!
 

Mayor Bloomberg Endorses Sestak

Three-term New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg came to Philadelphia’s Sullivan Progress Plaza to endorse Rep. Joe Sestak (D PA-7) in his Senate race against Former Congressman Pat Toomey (R PA-15).

Bloomberg touted the management experience Sestak gained as a three star Admiral. Bloomberg, who himself has campaigned as a Democrat, Republican and Independent, praised Sestak’s ability to work with people on both sides of the aisle. “On the key issues we face, it is not partisanship that counts. It is leadership.” Sestak served as President Clinton’s Director for Defense Policy, and under the Bush administration, just after 9/11, he was selected as the first director of “Deep Blue,” the Navy’s anti-terrorism unit.

Bloomberg drew a parallel between the challenges facing New York City, Philadelphia and many communities across America: driving crime down, supporting community development or supporting small businesses create jobs. Bloomberg said addressing these problems requires strong leadership and said he was “here to ensure that Pennsylvania gets that kind of leadership.”

Bloomberg praised Sestak for his small business initiatives, supporting the heroes of 9/11, and supporting policies which will keep guns out of the hands of criminals.

The Republican Jewish Coalition and other groups have launched a campaign of attack ads against Sestak; however, Bloomberg dismissed such criticism, since Sestak had fought in the Navy to defend Israel, Bloomberg felt that Sestak understood terrorism and the threats against Israel and the United States.

WSJ: US, Israel Build Military Cooperation

This weekend the Wall Street Journal reported that under President Barack Obama’s leadership military cooperation with Israel has increased. The article said, “U.S. military aid to Israel has increased markedly this year. Top-ranking U.S. and Israeli soldiers have shuttled between Tel Aviv and Washington with unusual frequency in recent months. A series of joint military exercises in Israel has included a record number of American troops.”

According to the article, “This month, about 200 U.S. Marines joined a battalion of Israeli soldiers for an all-night march through the Negev desert, the culmination of three weeks of joint drills. As dawn approached, they crept up on a mock village, an Israeli military-built recreation of a typical Palestinian hamlet, used for combat training.”

The piece also noted, “The exercise was the biggest U.S.-Israeli joint infantry exercise ever, according to officials. By comparison, at the same exercise last year, there were only around 20 U.S. Marines involved. In the fall, there will be an even bigger joint infantry exercise involving tanks and armored vehicles, officials said.”

You can read the full article here.

This development is part of a larger trend of closer and closer military cooperation between the United States and Israel under President Obama’s leadership.

Did you know you can filibuster the House of Representatives too?

At least that is what former Congressman Pat Toomey thinks.

Here is what he said on CNN’s John King USA:

I opposed many of our spending bills. I personally led a filibuster on the House floor against my own party because I thought they were intending to bust the budget and spend too much money. So the record is very clear I have stood up to my party when I thought they were wrong.  

In reality, filibusters have been forbidden in the House of Representatives since 1842.

Watch the video, where Toomey claims he led a filibuster at the 5:30 mark:

Pat Toomey represented Pennsylvania’s 15th district (Allentown, Bethlehem, Northampton, Easton) from 1999 to 2005. In 2004, he challenged Specter for the Republican Senate nomination and lost. This year, Toomey is the Republican candidate for Senate and is running against Democrat Rep. Joe Sestak (D-PA 7).  

Hey Tim, What about the Pentagon Mosque

— Jed Lewison from Daily Kos.

Tim  Pawlenty says:

   “I’m strongly opposed to the idea of putting a mosque anywhere near Ground Zero-I think it’s inappropriate,” he said. “I believe that 3,000 of our fellow innocent citizens were killed in that area, and some ways from a patriotic standpoint, it’s hallowed ground, it’s sacred ground, and we should respect that. We shouldn’t have images or activities that degrade or disrespect that in any way.”

Apparently, Pawlenty forgot that fact that the Pentagon was also attacked on 9/11 — and that there is a mosque in the Pentagon.  
Justin Elliot:
   

Why did no one object to the “Pentagon mosque”?

   The “ground zero mosque” story seems to be dying down, but nothing lays bare the absurdity of what we’ve just lived through quite so much as this Washington Times story, quoted above, from 2007.

   Yes, Muslims have infiltrated the Pentagon for their nefarious, prayerful purposes — daring to practice their religion inside the building where 184 people died on Sept. 11, 2001. They haven’t even had the sensitivity to move two blocks, let alone a mile, away from that sacred site.

The story to which Elliot linked:
     

Navy imam Chaplain Abuhena M. Saifulislam lifted his voice to God as he called to prayer more than 100 Department of Defense employees Monday at a celebration of Ramadan at the Pentagon.

      God is most great, sang the lieutenant commander and Islamic leader, in Arabic, as iftar – the end of the daily fast began.

      Uniformed military personnel, civilians and family members faced Mecca and knelt on adorned prayer rugs chanting their prayers in quiet invocation to Allah.

So how about it, Tim? Why aren’t you outraged by the Pentagon mosque? And doesn’t your lack of outrage prove that you are merely trying to exploit religious bigotry for political gain? And doesn’t that make you a poster-child for cowardice?

Obama Promotes Israeli Security

— David Harris

Last week The Washington Post reported that security and military ties between the United States and Israel “have grown ever closer during the Obama administration.

Over the past months we have seen what Defense Secretary Robert Gates called an “unprecedented” level of strategic military cooperation between our two countries. Among other things, President Obama requested and received $2.8 billion for directly assisting Israel’s security; restored Israel’s Qualitative Military Edge, which eroded during President George W. Bush’s Administration; and helped secure $205 million for the Iron Dome Missile Shield, which protects Israel’s southern and northern towns from Hamas and Hezbollah rockets.

Click here to view the sheet.
In a recent interview with Israeli television, President Obama stated, “My administration has provided more security assistance to Israel than any administration in history. And we’ve got greater security cooperation between our two countries than at any time in our history.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu affirmed this by saying, “I trust Barack Obama, President of the United States to carry out with me the policies that have joined Israel and the United States. And what Barack Obama has called the ‘unbreakable bond.'”