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Another Perspective

United States of Arabia

By 3.26.15

The new king of Saudi Arabia has been bestowing gifts — lots of gifts. King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud has given an estimated $32 billion to students, government workers, soldiers, and retirees.

Those not directly receiving cash payouts are still expected to reap profit.  Shop owners reportedly filled their shelves with luxury items as eager beneficiaries of the King’s largesse sought to spend their “bonuses” on the latest gadgets, fashions, and luxuries. Others, seeking the Saudi version of the “gift that keeps on giving,” have set aside their money for a second or third wife.

Out of the five million people in the Saudi workforce, three million are expected to directly benefit from these cash outlays. And those not lucky enough to be direct beneficiaries may still get a “bonus” if the company they work for is among the many in Saudi Arabia taking its cue from their King and honoring his reign with gifts of their own.

The Obama Watch

The Worst Negotiators Ever

By 3.26.15

We’ll start with a quote from the weekend from the Times of Israel

Iran’s Supreme leader Ali Khamenei called for “Death to America” on Saturday, a day after President Barack Obama appealed to Iran to seize a “historic opportunity” for a nuclear deal and a better future, and as US Secretary of State John Kerry claimed substantial progress toward an accord.

Khamenei went further and said if there were to be a nuclear deal with America and our partners it would have to be a very limited one…

“They insist on putting pressure on our dear people's economy,” he said, referring to economic sanctions aimed at halting Iran's nuclear program. “What is their goal? Their goal is to put the people against the system,” he said. “The politics of America is to create insecurity,” he added, referring both to US pressure on Iran and elsewhere in the region.

Politics

GOP Consultants Become Campaign Issue

By 3.26.15

So Liz Mair is gone. The GOP consultant thrown under the bus that is the Scott Walker campaign. But before we get to the Mair story?

Once upon a time the people who worked for a presidential candidate were, believe it or not, longtime loyalists. Think JFK’s brother and campaign manager Bobby Kennedy. Ronald Reagan’s Ed Meese or Lyn Nofziger, Jimmy Carter’s Hamilton Jordan and Jody Powell, George W. Bush’s Karl Rove or, to go back even further in time, FDR’s Louie Howe.

The world changed. Long ago. Somewhere along the line the people working to elect candidates became “operatives.” In the vernacular “hired guns.” Racing around America and indeed the democracies of the world with a set of skills — good skills without question — with loyalty to no one except their own career and gaining professional reputations that in turn earned them a pretty penny. There was nothing necessarily wrong about this — the world turns.

Special Report

How Bibi Warded Off Obama: The Inside Scoop

By 3.25.15

The political season is upon us once again. Ted Cruz, who launched his career as the unelectable senatorial candidate from Texas has now announced as the unelectable presidential candidate from the Senate. After him the deluge. Candidates will come out of the woodwork and turn on the waterworks. This in turn will generate loads of legwork and footwork in support of the candidates’ handiwork — done by campaign strategists, analysts, and pollsters.

Where have these hardy souls been since November, when they were scattered across the country guiding governors and senators and representatives through the midterms? They have been in another country! A country that holds fair and open elections and has a vibrant political debate at the heart of its culture. A country that has maintained a special friendship with the United States and American People since its inception in 1948. A country named Israel.

Ben Stein's Diary

Don’t Compare Nixon to Hillary

By 3.25.15

Tuesday
So… Alex and I have been down here in Rancho Mirage, in what was once desert and is apparently about to be desert again if this drought doesn’t end. We drove down late Friday and were virtually comatose Saturday from the drive. When you are 70 years old, a high-speed drive on Highway 10, with thousands of other cars racing along next to you, is exhausting. Plus, when I got here, I had to watch “Cops” and “Lockup.”

These are important shows. They tell us there is a violent, anti-social criminal class among us, and we owe the police our lives, literally, our lives, for protecting us. There is a civil war going on in America. We have an immense criminal class, disproportionately nonwhite, committing terrifying crimes and even non-terrifying crimes, and the police are our first and last line of defense.

Special Report

Blowing Sunshine Up Their Skirts

By 3.25.15

TAMPA — At first glance, an amendment to Florida’s constitution obliging the state to promote solar power and allowing homeowners and businesses to generate solar power on their property, in cahoots with a solar power company, might not do much harm. But it easily could do harm if it leads to even more taxpayer-financed subsidies to an industry that is long on promises but short on kilowatt-hours generated. It could do harm if it leads to requirements that utilities buy more pricy solar power and pass the cost on to their customers. This is what has happened elsewhere — we’ve seen this movie before.

The beneficiaries of such an amendment, being pushed for the 2016 ballot by a group called Floridians for Solar Choice, Inc., would be the hard-left, anti-free market environmental movement, bent on putting an end to fossil-fuel generated power, and the solar power industry, seeking a larger share of the energy market and more of the tax breaks and subsidies without which expensive solar power could not exist. It’s hard to imagine how such an amendment would benefit Floridians with no grudge against fossil fuels or with no skin in the solar power game.

Campaign Crawlers

Does Rahmbo Get to Win This Time?

By 3.25.15

One wouldn’t think that Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel would still have a shot of winning a second term — especially after the hits he has taken since being forced into a runoff against little-known Cook County Commissioner Jesus (Chuy) Garcia.

Last month, on Election Day, Emanuel ran afoul of the Second City’s black residents and criminal justice reform advocates across the nation after the Guardian revealed that police officers were allegedly beating and torturing suspects they arrested at a warehouse on the city’s West Side. The news, coming on the heels of outrage over police misconduct in Ferguson, Mo., New York City, and Cleveland, Ohio (where a 12-year-old boy playing with a toy gun was shot by a police officer within seconds of pulling up), likely contributed to Emanuel winning a mere 45 percent of the vote.

The Current Crisis

Reforming Islam

By 3.25.15

What do you know, the world’s leading reformer of Islam is turning out to be a general. He is not a learned mullah. He is not a suicide bomber. He does not even have a weaponized bicycle. He is Egypt’s General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi who, somewhat reminiscent of our own General George Washington, turned in his uniform for civilian garb and was elected president of Egypt with a huge majority.

President Sisi’s new role as reformer should not be terribly surprising. After all, the last great reformer in the Arab world was the Egyptian statesman Anwar Sadat. Sadat restricted his reforms to politics, initiating a démarche with Israel. Those reforms ended abruptly when assassins shot him as he appeared at a public ceremony in Cairo in 1981. To be sure President Sisi’s reforms are political, but they are also religious. He has called upon religious clerics assembled at the premier Cairo university of Al-Azhar to commit Islam to a “revolution.”

Special Report

Doing His Duty

By 3.25.15

At one time, Catholic archbishops made news by defying Church teaching. Now they generate headlines by simply following it. Nowhere is this more true than in San Francisco, where the Left feels entitled to impose its liberalism on Church officials.

San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone has been subject to regular hazing from the Left for merely upholding Church teaching. His latest high offense is that he expects teachers at San Francisco’s Catholic schools to refrain from anti-Catholic activism and anti-Catholic teaching.

“As effective professionals in a Catholic School setting, we all — administrators, faculty and staff — are required and expected to avoid fostering confusion among the faithful and any dilution of the schools’ primary Catholic mission,” he said in February. “Therefore, administrators, faculty and staff of any faith or of no faith, are expected to arrange and conduct their lives so as not to visibly contradict, undermine or deny these truths. To that end, further, we all must refrain from public support of any cause or issue that is explicitly or implicitly contrary to that which the Catholic Church holds to be true.”

In Memoriam

Lee Kuan Yew (1923-2015)

By 3.25.15

It is not often that the leader of a small city-state — in this case, Singapore — gets an international reputation. But no one deserved it more than Lee Kuan Yew, the founder of Singapore as an independent country in 1959, and its prime minister from 1959 to 1990. With his death, he leaves behind a legacy valuable not only to Singapore but to the world.

Born in Singapore in 1923, when it was a British colony, Lee Kuan Yew studied at Cambridge University after World War II, and was much impressed by the orderly, law-abiding England of that day. It was a great contrast with the poverty-stricken and crime-ridden Singapore of that era.

Today Singapore has a per capita Gross Domestic Product more than 50 percent higher than that of the United Kingdom and a crime rate a small fraction of that in England. A 2010 study showed more patents and patent applications from the small city-state of Singapore than from Russia. Few places in the world can match Singapore for cleanliness and orderliness.

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