GOP Presidential Candidates Blast Iran Deal in Primetime Debate

Ten Republican presidential candidates participated in Fox News’s primetime debate:

  • businessman Donald Trump,
  • former Florida Governor Jeb Bush,
  • Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker,
  • former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee,
  • neurosurgeon Dr. Ben Carson,
  • Texas Senator Ted Cruz,
  • Florida Senator Marco Rubio,
  • Kentucky Senator Rand Paul,
  • New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, and
  • Ohio Governor John Kasich.

Walker said that if the agreement on Iran’s nuclear program, negotiated by the Obama administration and pending congress review, is signed and he is elected president, he will cancel it immediately:

I still remember, as a kid, tying a yellow ribbon around a tree in front of my house during the 444 days that Iran held 52 Americans hostage. Iran is not a place we should be doing business with.

To me, you terminate the deal on day one, you reinstate the sanctions authorized by Congress, you go to Congress and put in place even more crippling sanctions in place, and then you convince our allies to do the same.

This is not just bad with Iran, this is bad with ISIS. It is tied together, and, once and for all, we need a leader who’s gonna stand up and do something about it.

Paul criticized the agreement as well, mentioning former President Ronald Reagan as an example for a better approach:

I’m a Reagan conservative. Reagan did negotiate with the Soviets. But you have to negotiate from a position of strength, and I think President Obama gave away too much, too early.

If there’s going to be a negotiation, you’re going to have to believe somehow that the Iranians are going to comply. I asked this question to John Kerry, I said “do you believe they’re trustworthy?” and he said “No.”

And I said, “well, how are we gonna get them to comply?” I would have never released the sanctions before there was consistent evidence of compliance.

Huckabee mentioned Reagan as well:

Ronald Reagan said “trust, but verify.” President Obama is “trust, but vilify.” He trusts our enemies and vilifies everyone who disagrees with him. And the reason we disagree with him has nothing to do with party. It has to do with the incredibly dangerous place that this world is gonna be as a result of a deal in which we got nothing.

We didn’t even get four hostages out. We got nothing, and Iran gets everything they want. We said we would have anywhere, anytime negotiations and inspections, we gave that up. We said that we would make sure that they didn’t have any nuclear capacity, we gave that up.

The president can’t tell you what we got. I’ll tell you what the world got. The world has a burgeoning nuclear power that didn’t, as the Soviets, say “we might defend ourselves in a war.” What the Iranians have said is, “we will wipe Israel off the face of the map, and we will bring death to America.”

When someone points a gun at your head and loads it, by God, you ought to take them seriously, and we need to take that seriously.

Alicia Keys to Perform in Israel Despite BDS Pressure

— by Steve Sheffey

Alicia Keys confirmed that she will perform in Tel Aviv on July 4 as scheduled, despite public pressure to boycott Israel from Alice Walker (who refused to authorize a translation of “The Color Purple” into Hebrew) and Roger Waters. “I look forward to my first visit to Israel. Music is a universal language that is meant to unify audiences in peace and love, and that is the spirit of our show,” she said.

Walker called Israel an “apartheid country,” said that the Israeli system is “cruel, unjust, and unbelievably evil,” and called Israel the cause of “much of the affliction in our suffering world.” Walker refused to authorize a new Hebrew translation of “The Color Purple.” Waters, formerly of Pink Floyd, also urged Keys to cancel. Waters previously convinced Stevie Wonder to cancel an appearance at a Friends of the IDF event in Los Angeles.

More on the anti-Israel BDS movement after the jump.
For an excellent refutation of the canard that Israel practices apartheid, read this op-ed from Richard Goldstone, a former justice of the South African Constitutional Court.

The Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel is condemned across the pro-Israel political spectrum, even by those who strongly believe that Israel should find a way to extricate itself from the West Bank.

According to J Street:

For some, the BDS movement has become a convenient mantle for thinly disguised anti-Semitism” and “the BDS movement fails to explicitly to recognize Israel’s right to exist and it ignores or rejects Israel’s role as a national home for the Jewish people. In addition, the promotion by some in the BDS movement of the return to Israel of Palestinian refugees from 1948 and their families indicates support for an outcome incompatible with our vision of Israel and incompatible with a two-state solution to the conflict.

A statement signed by the National Jewish Democratic Council and 60 other Jewish organizations opposing the BDS movement explained that “Criticism [of Israel] becomes anti-Semitism, however, when it demonizes Israel or its leaders, denies Israel the right to defend its citizens or seeks to denigrate Israel’s right to exist.”

So what do we do about it?

My view is that if an artist or scientist attempts to economically harm or delegitimize Israel, we should not economically support that person.

As much as I used to enjoy Elvis Costello’s music, I can’t listen to him anymore. I have a long list of books to read. Why read Alice Walker when there is so much other good literature? We certainly should not reject the scientific ideas of Stephen Hawking, but why buy his books? (If you must read him or Walker, use the library).

I’m not suggesting that we deny ourselves art based on the anti-Semitism of its creators. If we did, we would deprive ourselves of a large portion of Western culture. I also suspect that if we knew what was in the minds of some of our favorite artists, we might not be too happy. Rather, I am suggesting that we single out the subset of artists who have chosen to single out Israel for boycott. If they won’t play for Israelis, we shouldn’t pay money for them to play to us. So you won’t find Elvis Costello, Santana, or Stevie Wonder on my playlist, and you certainly won’t see me at their concerts.

Perhaps most important, we should visit Israel or buy Israeli goods — no matter where we are on the political spectrum.

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If Only Anne Frank Had Been Packing A Luger

Samuel “Joe the Plumber” Wurzelbacher (R-OH) campaign video offensively blames Holocaust on gun control.


— by David A. Harris

Using the memories of the six million Jews killed in the Holocaust to make a political point is never appropriate, under any circumstances. For Ohio Republican House candidate Samuel Wurzelbacher to imply that these innocent lives were taken because of gun control laws is simply beyond the pale. Wurzelbacher — who is just the latest in a long line of Republicans who seem to think it is acceptable to use the Holocaust for political gain-must apologize and remove this offensive video immediately.”

With this video, Wurzelbacher joins the ranks of other Republicans such as presidential candidate Newt Gingrich, Governor Rick Scott (R-FL), Senator Rand Paul (R-KY), Representatives Allen West (R-FL), Michele Bachmann (R-MN), and Trent Franks (R-AZ), WV Senate candidate John Raese and FL House candidate Adam Hasner who have shamefully abused the Holocaust to make political points.

Hunter Walker of the New York Observer reported today:

Samuel ‘Joe The Plumber’ Wurzelbacher, the 2008 campaign microcelebrity and Ohio congressional candidate, has an interesting theory about the Holocaust. Yesterday, Mr. Wurzelbacher released a campaign web video in which he blamed the Holocaust and the Armenian genocide on gun control laws.

‘In 1911, Turkey established gun control. From 1915 to 1917 one-point-five million Armenians, unable to defend themselves were exterminated,’ Mr. Wurzelbacher says in the clip. ‘In 1939, Germany established gun control. From 1939 to 1945, six million Jews and seven million others unable to defend themselves were exterminated.’

Mr. Wurzelbacher’s video features footage of him on a shooting rage blasting fruits and vegetables with a shotgun. As the clip draws to a close, Mr. Wurzelbacher, gun in hand, proclaims, ‘I love America.’

The description of the video describes gun ownership as ‘our last line of defense’ from tyranny and poses a rather existential question about Mr. Wurzelbacher’s produce shooting hobby.

‘If you hunt or just like shooting guns, the 2nd Amendment will always be a good thing. History also tells us it’s our last line of defense in the face of an out-of-control government,’ the description says. ‘And killing fruits and vegetables is… what?’

Wisconsin Bombshell: Governor Scott Walker Under Investigation

— by Joe Magid

The criminal corruption probe swirling around Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, who faces a now neck-and-neck recall election tomorrow, Tuesday, June 5, are swirling ever closer if recent reports regarding progress of the investigation are accurate. As reported in the Huffington Post, Walker vehemently denies he is now a target of the investigation, however, according to the Journal Sentinel, Walker has admitted putting $160,000 in a legal defense fund, including a $100,000 transfer from his campaign account. It has further been reported that Wisconsin law permits the creation of such a fund by an elected official only “if they, or their agent, are under investigation for, charged with, or convicted of violations of Wisconsin’s campaign finance and election laws.”

Walker has clearly stated that the fund will not be used to defend any of his “agents”, the six aids now under indictment (in addition to thirteen granted immunity from prosecution), leaving one to conclude that there is an obvious conflict between the law coupled with his actions and statements regarding the fund and his denials regarding the state of the investigation.

In addition, David Shuster of Take Action News and Current TV has posted a report stating that “government lawyers familiar with a Milwaukee criminal corruption probe, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker is now a ‘target’ of the investigation.”

[Read more…]

Southern Jewish Memories

— by Hannah Lee

Already 38 years in print, Eli N. Evans’s The Provincials: A Personal History of Jews in the South has garnered high praise by the late Israeli statesman and author, Abba Eban, who wrote of Evans: “the Jews of the South have found their poet laureate.”  Humbly identifying himself as “the grandson of a peddler,” Evans began his lecture at The National Museum of American Jewish History on October 16th by noting that being raised as a Southerner and a Jew were unique experiences that shaped his sense of self and of home.  In describing his boyhood in Durham, North Carolina, he said “I grew up like every other Southern boy– with a bicycle in the neighborhood and football, basketball, and picking honeysuckle in the spring.”
[Read more…]

Musing on Friction

— State Senator Daylin Leach

I like to think of myself as a pretty worldly guy. I’ve been to the rodeo. I’ve eaten the Easter Peeps. I’ve paid full price for a muffler. But every once in a while, something so outrageous, so off-the-charts awful happens (like Celine Dion making a new album) that even I am shocked.

Such a thing happened last Tuesday in Harrisburg when our new Governor, Tom Corbett gave his budget address. I entered the Hall of the House for the joint session all prepared. I had my ankle warmers and flask of hot cocoa, because one can get cold in the capitol. The Senator sitting next to me had his flask of Jaegermeister, because one can get sober in the capitol.

I was wearing my “Tony Luke’s Makes the Best Sausage” T-Shirt (I get a small fee) and my giant foam hand with extended index finger in case Corbett mentioned Temple University and my jar of mace, in case… well… just in case.

The governor’s speech started off promisingly enough in that he didn’t trip walking up the stairs. That is no small thing. In 1822 Governor Joseph Heister fell off of the dais during his budget address and hit his head. For the rest of his term he could not be persuaded that he wasn’t a large chicken, which led to some very restrictive, yet innovative agricultural legislation.

While there was much in Mr. Corbett’s budget I disagreed with, that is for another day. After the address was over, I dragged my neighboring Senator (he finished his flask) back to his office and started lazily paging through the 1,124 page Policy Statement which accompanied the budget. In it, I found something truly shocking.

Governor Corbett included the following paragraph which set forth a new policy on how we regulate. It turns out that the Governor wants a “friction free” relationship between regulators and the industries they regulate.

Regulatory Reform: Friction-free processes for government interaction with job creators are critical to maintain economic momentum and competitiveness. State government needs to be a partner with job creators. To address the length of time agencies take to act on permits and eliminate permit backlogs, PennDOT and DEP have begun auditing and assessing all of their permit processes to make them more responsive to the needs of job creators. In addition, the DCED secretary is empowered to expedite any permit or action pending in any agency where the creation of jobs may be impacted.”

This is troubling. “Friction-free” relationships are very rare in the best of circumstances. I haven’t had a friction free relationship since my imaginary friend Dodo, when I was a kid. But by the time I turned 40, even he came to loath me.

Historically, friction doesn’t arise because regulators like Woody Allen movies and Industrialists don’t. There is only one reason for “friction,” which is that industry doesn’t like to be told they can’t dump poisons in lakes or mercury in the air or have to give their workers bathroom breaks. So in other words, a “friction-free” environment sounds frightfully like a regulation free environment.

Things then go from bad to worse. Under this new policy directive, those who head our regulatory agencies (the Secretaries of Department of Environmental Protection, Labor and Industry, etc.) will lose their power to make regulatory decisions.

Now, in order “to be more responsive to the needs of job-creators” (very little is ever said about the needs of “job-doers“) the Secretary of the Department of Community and Economic Development is “empowered to expedite any permit or other action pending in any agency where the creation of jobs may be impacted.”

Ok, lets stop there. What will our actual regulators now do since they are losing their ability to regulate. One word… Yahtzee!!

Keep in mind, that this strips the departments of their control over when to issue permits, and “any…other action.” Presumably going to the rest room now requires a call to DCED.

Of course, this only applies if “creation of jobs may be impacted.” I suppose this could have been broader. It could apply “only if air is being breathed somewhere” or “only if Lindsey Lohan is getting arrested.” But this is pretty darn broad.

Any regulation could theoretically impact the creation of jobs. For example if a regulation says you have to clean up a stream you polluted, that will cost money that could have gone to hire someone to dump more pollution into that stream. Or if a regulation says you can’t beat employees with rubber tubing, the guy who beats folks is suddenly on the street.

Finally its bad enough that there is a guy whose job is to stop health, safety, worker and consumer regulations. But its even worse when you realize who that guy is. The head of DCED is a man named C. Alan Walker.

Let me start off by saying that I do not know Mr. Walker. I have never met him. He may be a perfectly delightful man. Maybe he buys flowers for his wife on her birthday. Maybe he buys flowers for my wife on her birthday. God knows someone should. That said, his public record does not instill great confidence that he will be a strict guardian of our safety.

First, he has given $184,000 to Governor Corbett over the years. That sounds like a Kool-Aid drinker to me. I don’t have many $184,000 donors (although I am open to meeting them!). But if I did, I doubt I’d have a very arms-length relationship with them.

He is also the head of one coal company and has an ownership interest in an unknown number of other coal companies. That is also strange. At any given time, I know exactly how many coal companies I own. He also has a history of polluting and refusing to clean up until a court makes him.

More after the jump.
One Senator said to me that he’s not surprised that the Corbett Administration is doing this. He’s just surprised that they are saying it out loud. (No, this was not the Senator with the empty flask). But I disagree. Nothing like this has ever been done in the United States before, ever. This looks to be a hyper-aggressive move to gut our health and safety laws for the benefit of wealthy corporations. I’m starting to miss Governor Heister.  

Judge Blocks Wisconsin’s Union-Busting Bill On Procedural Grounds

From Talking Point Memo:

A state judge in Wisconsin has just issued a temporary restraining order blocking Gov. Scott Walker’s (R-WI) newly-passed law curtailing public employee unions, on the grounds that the GOP-controlled legislature appeared to have violated state public notice requirements when quickly passing the bill last week.