Podhoretz said that by attacking now Israel has the opportunity “to put at least a temporary halt, and conceivably even a permanent one, to the relentless Iranian quest for the bomb.”
Last month the U.S and five other world powers agreed on a temporary six-month deal to lift a limited number of economic sanctions against Iran in exchange for the country cutting back on its nuclear program by stopping uranium enrichment.
However, Podhoretz said, “The Obama administration tells us that the interim agreement puts Iran on a track that will lead to the abandonment of its quest for a nuclear arsenal. But the Iranians are jubilant because they know that the only abandonment going on is of our own effort to keep them from getting the bomb.”
Ruled by fanatical Shiite mullahs, Iran has vowed to wipe its historical enemy Israel off the map while calling it a “cancer.” Although Iran has repeatedly claimed that its enrichment facilities are not aimed at creating a nuclear weapon, Podhoretz maintains its leadership is “lying,” and suggest that an Iran armed with atomic bombs is inevitable.
He said, “Adherents of the new consensus would have us believe that only two choices remain: a war to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons or containment of a nuclear Iran — with containment the only responsible option.
“I remain convinced that containment is impossible, from which it follows that the two choices before us are not war vs. containment but a conventional war now or a nuclear war later.”
Podhoretz pointed out in his Wall Street Journal opinion piece that it is very unlikely that President Barack Obama “would ever take” military action against Iran even if they become a nuclear power.
He adds, “The only hope rests with Israel. If, then, Israel fails to strike now, Iran will get the bomb. And when it does, the Israelis will be forced to decide whether to wait for a nuclear attack and then to retaliate out of the rubble, or to pre-empt with a nuclear strike of their own.
“But the Iranians will be faced with the same dilemma. Under these unprecedentedly hair-trigger circumstances, it will take no time before one of them tries to beat the other to the punch.”
A Wall Street Journal/ NBC Pollconducted Dec. 4-8, found that 54 percent of the 1,000 people surveyed now disapprove of the job the president is doing, with 60 percent citing the Affordable Care Act as the main factor shaping their view of the president.
“The president is being weighed down by one issue, his healthcare law,” said Democratic pollster Fred Yang, who helped direct the Journal/NBC poll. “It’s probably fair to say that as goes healthcare, so goes the Obama presidency for the next year.”
Other polls released Tuesday also show that the president’s disapproval ratings have escalated to their worst levels.
A Quinnipiac University Poll conducted Dec. 3 – 9, found that 57 percent of the 2,692 registered voters surveyed disapprove of the president, compared to 38 percent who approve. The disapproval figures mark an all-time high for the poll, and a three point increase in just one month since November.
An Associated Press-GfK poll released Tuesday indicated almost identical findings, with 58 percent of those surveyed giving the president a negative job approval rating compared to 42 percent who approve.
But the president has plenty of company, apparently, when it comes to low job performance ratings. The newly-released polls found major disapproval with the job Congress is doing.
In the Journal/ NBC poll, 79 percent said the performance of 113th Congress is one of the worst ever. The AP poll put the figure even higher with 86 percent of adults saying they disapprove of Congress. The CBS/ Times poll, meanwhile found 83 percent disapprove of the job Congress is doing.
Now that more individuals are able to enroll in plans through the improved Obamacare website, they are discovering that the lower insurance premiums mean more out-of-pocket costs that many may not be able to afford.
The deductibles are averaging $5,081 per year for the minimal coverage Bronze plans on the HealthCare.gov website in 34 of the 36 states on the federal exchange. That’s 42 percent higher than the $3,589 deductible individual plans in 2013. For a couple or a family, deductibles may be as high as $12,700, The Wall Street Journal reports.
In comparison, the average deductible is $1,135 for those who are still able to take advantage of health insurance plans through their employer.
“Deductibles for many plans in the insurance exchanges are pretty high,” Stan Dorn, health policy expert at the Urban Institute, told The New York Times. “These plans are more generous than what’s prevalent in the current individual insurance market, but significantly less generous than most employer-sponsored insurance.”
A study done at University of Chicago research group NORC, found that 65 percent of group plans offered by employers would fall under the gold or platinum category offered by Obamacare. However, 84 percent of insurance plans purchased by individuals provide coverage equal to the bronze level of Obamacare or less.
The new health care law does provide deductible “cost-sharing” subsidies for individuals who earn up to 2.5 times the poverty level, which is about $28,725, for those who purchase one of the “silver” plans, but there is no “cost sharing” available for bronze plans.
“Consumers are giving up cost-sharing reductions of enormous value if they enroll in a bronze plan because it has the lowest premium,” Dorn said, adding that the government hasn’t really educated Americans on this difference in the two plans.
Plans on the healthcare exchange are categorized as bronze, silver, gold and platinum, with the idea that the coverage will be more generous with each level, but premiums increase as the plan benefits increase.
Beijing‘s Nov. 23 announcement declaring the area over the Japanese-held Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea an air-defense identification zone is part of a pattern of obdurate behavior that for too long American policymakers have sought to downplay, Bolton alleges.
This position runs contrary to the policies of Japan and South Korea which instructed their airlines to ignore the Chinese demand.
“At the very best, these are mixed, and therefore dangerous, signals,” writes Bolton.
The Obama administration has been “fantasizing” about China’s “peaceful rise” as a “responsible stakeholder” on the world stage, Bolton says.
But, he says, China’s policies are driven by the People’s Liberation Army, the dominant force within the Communist Party — which remains the principal political and significant economic power in the country.
According to Bolton, now a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, all this “explains Beijing’s sustained increases in military budgets; its expanding nuclear and ballistic-missile arsenals; its unmatched cyber warfare program; its construction of a blue-water navy; and its anti-satellite, anti-access and area-denial weapons systems. These aren’t the marks of a ‘peaceful rise,’ especially combined with Beijing’s aggressive territorial claims.”
Bolton urges a “more realistic” American strategy on China, by having a stronger presence in the region, encouraging Japan to increase its defense and putting pressure on Beijing to oppose North Korea and Iran’s nuclear ambitions.
He called on Taiwan to publicly state that it does not recognize Beijing’s defense-zone declaration and to coordinate its stance with Japan and South Korea.
China’s latest gambit may have brought home the inherent threats and dangers of the real world to this administration.
“Joe Biden’s Asia trip could tell us if President Obama now gets it,” Bolton concludes.
During a tour of an Internet company in Japan Tuesday, Vice President Joe Biden asked a group of women, “Do your husbands like you working full-time?”
Biden asked the question of five women while sitting with them in the cafeteria of Tokyo-based DeNa, a company founded by a woman and known for encouraging women to continue working through motherhood, according to The Wall Street Journal.
He also asked whether they could work from home. It wasn’t clear if any of the women replied at the time.
The visit was intended to promote the role of women in the workforce, an initiative by Japanese Prime MinisterShinzo Abe who is looking to increase the participation of women in the workforce as part of his broader strategy to boost the ailing Japanese economy. In Japan, 60 percent of women never return to the workforce after giving birth, the Journal reported.
“I, too, compliment Prime Minister Abe on his initiatives to bring more women into the workforce, stay in the workforce and give them more opportunities,” Biden said, according to the Journal.
“I believe the prime minister understands that this is not just a women’s issue. It’s a men’s issue. It’s a family issue, an economic and a national security issue, and it’s a moral issue,” Kennedy said, according to the Journal.
Astronomical federal deficit. Skyrocketing national debt. Obamacare and what lies (no pun intended) ahead. Escalating health care costs. Mushrooming taxes and hidden fees. Downsizing and pension cutbacks. Food and education increases. “Spread the wealth” socialistic policies.
Surviving and even thriving in the midst of today’s economic upheaval is the challenging task we all face. Many churches, in addressing financial matters, will focus on the area of giving the tithe, which is paramount, yet oftentimes overlook what God says about handling the other 90 percent. As a result, millions of people look to financial counselors like Dave Ramsey and Suze Orman or secular forecasters for guidance and help.
Here’s the deal as we close out this year: God wants to both encourage and instruct all of us (myself included) to be ever looking to Him as our ultimate provider, in addition to being better financial stewards so we can glorify Him and be channels of blessing to others in need.
This is personal for my wife and me as we find ourselves closing the year without any more partial salary from a local church, health insurance, cell phone coverage or any perks that have been part of my ministry for more than 41 years. This is by divine design, as God recently transitioned me from a local church involvement “because of the present distress” (1 Cor. 7:26, NKJV) upon America, in order to serve the wider body of Christ in our desperate need for spiritual awakening and assurance as children of God.
Therefore, I’d like to offer some specific suggestions to assist all of us in becoming more like the “wise ant” of Proverbs 6:6-8 in preparing ourselves and saving money for whatever lies ahead. With a little self-discipline, discernment and prudent decision-making, we really can save “big bucks.” It comes the same way God instructed His people to take the Promised Land: “little by little” (Deut.7:22).
Our motivation in saving this money should not be to spend it frivolously on unnecessary items but rather to be faithful stewards by diminishing any debt we may have, keeping Joseph-like supplies in readiness and investing in God-honoring ministries, ministers and missionaries.
In Luke 16:10-11, Jesus says, “If you are not faithful in money matters, who will entrust the true riches to you?”
Aubrey Andelin, an author on marriage and family says, “Few families are free of anxieties and contentions in the matter of family finances. To some it is a matter of such major importance as to be an ever-festering sore, never healing and continually thwarting the happiness of the home. As a factor in marital breakup, it is one of the primary causes.”
Are you ready to enter into a new dimension of financial rest through the “exchange zone”? To save money and have more to give, will you make choices substituting one thing for another to discover big dividends in the end? Let me illustrate by citing “exchanges” made in the realm of eating habits that bring the benefits of weight loss and longevity of life.
The best-selling paperback series entitled Eat This, Not That! presents the reader with thousands of simple food swaps that can save individuals 10, 20 or 30 pounds—or more! Once people are informed of the hefty caloric content in foods they routinely consume and change over to healthier items, they discover weight loss as well as increased energy. Examples of items the author exhorts us to replace include (calories follow the listings):
$1· Cinnabon, classic cinnamon roll (813)
$1· Outback, cheese fries with ranch (2900)
$1· Uno, classic deep-dish personal pizza (2300)
$1· Panera, Sierra turkey sandwich (840)
$1· Pizza Hut, 4 slices supreme pan pizza with pepperoni (1672)
$1· Starbucks, bran nut muffin with Venti white hot chocolate (1530)
$1· Ruby Tuesday, Bella turkey burger (1145)
$1· McDonald’s, hotcakes with biscuit without syrup and margarine (1090)
Scary, huh? Yet as Scripture tells us to add to our “knowledge, self-control” (2 Pet. 1:6), once we’re informed, we can exercise self-control in making better choices.
So here goes. These are not presented in some rigid, legalistic way but rather as practical suggestions, enabling you to save money God’s “little by little” way and have more to give.
1. Renounce all impulse buying. Commit to live by this pledge: If I can’t afford it, I don’t need it. If I need it, I’ll save for it.Remember the biblical admonition: “Owe no one anything” (Rom. 13:8, NKJV).
2. Enjoy the free cup of coffee offered by most local grocery chains, and forego the daily Starbucks specialty routine.Incredible as it may seem, this will save you more than $1,200 annually. If you skip that breakfast bagel, roll or sandwich, you’ll save an additional $1,500 to $1,800. That total comes to $3,000!
3. In the winter, save on electricity. Lower your thermostat to 62°, wear sweaters, use inexpensive oil heaters, and close off rooms and vents not being used. This actually is not only cheaper, it’s also healthier!
4. Buy gas at Costco or similar discount stores to save 10 cents a gallon. This adds up to thousands of dollars yearly.
5. Pray about and then purchase pre-owned cars instead of the latest luxury model, which depreciates markedly when driven off the lot. I love my red and reliable 2000 Honda coupe that I got for $4,400 a decade ago. Billionaire Warren Buffett drives a similarly humble car and lives in the same house he bought in 1957. The IKEA founder has been known to drive a 15-year-old Volvo, while Wal-Mart heir Jim Walton drives a 15-year-old pickup truck. Regarding selection of an automobile, to each his own, but don’t get snared with payments, pricey repairs or status symbols.
6. Unless there’s some scholarship or major financial aid included, don’t be fooled into thinking your child must go to some prestigious out-of-state school to succeed. Read the Wall Street Journal on “Employers Favor State Schools for Hires” or the bookDebt-Free: How I Paid for an Outstanding College Education Without Loans, Scholarships or Mooching Off My Parents for eye-opening information. Payment plans for local colleges can average $250 a week. Count the cost here to avoid tens of thousands of debt requiring payback for sometimes even decades.
7. Look for bargains. My Messianic Jewish friend of 35 years, Bob Weiner, always chides me, “Larry, you know why God created Gentiles? He knew somebody would have to pay retail!”
Consider the following alternatives:
$1· Go to the movies between 4 and 6 p.m., when it’s 1/2 price.
$1· Buy Christmas, birthday and anniversary gifts for the future after the holidays, when stores like Barnes & Noble and Target offer items up to 80 percent off.
$1· Get generic prescription drugs, which can be 75-85 percent less than advertised brands.
$1· Purchase in bulk at discount superstores.
$1· Don’t rent DVDs but go to your library, where you can find hundreds of great, free DVDs.
$1· Bring home all the toiletries from the motels when you travel.
$1· Re-use grocery store plastic bags as wastebasket liners.
$1· If you have a cable system, regularly call and cash in on discounts and specials, and make appeals to lower your rates as a loyal customer.
$1· Instead of rushing off to the cleaners, get a wrinkle-free spray to restore items of clothing.
There are so many more creative ways you can be a good steward and save money, but these are just a few that come to mind.
8. Save on the water bill. Turn off the tap while brushing your teeth. Wait until you have a full load for the washer. Shorten your shower times or take the “wet, off, soap, rinse, done!” approach. Finally, have a chuckle at the wisdom my daughter brought home from Youth With a Mission concerning saving water and money in the bathroom: “If it’s yellow, let it mellow. If it’s brown, flush it down!”
9. If you are pregnant and not a high-risk pregnancy, prayerfully consider the option of a skilled and caring midwife. Outside the United States, 80 percent of babies are born under the care of midwives. Two of our three children were born this way. Hospital costs can run into the tens of thousands. Epidurals can cost $5,000 and a C-section $12,000. While this option isn’t for everyone, an average $600 bill for a midwife can be an attractive draw in these economically challenged times.
10. Worship God with your tithes, offerings and charitable gifts. This is the most important item of all! The Malachi 3:8-12 “covenant of blessing” is a sure way to experience godly abundance and prosperity. As someone once said, “Everyone tithes—either to the Lord or to the doctor, the dentist or the car mechanic.”
Difficult days are before us as we close out a year and look to a new one. Re-read in the Gospels what Jesus foretells concerning the days prior to His return. In these days, Proverbs exhorts us, “The prudent see danger and take refuge” (NIV), but “the fool goes on and suffers for it” (NLV). Let’s be prudent in preparing spiritually and economically for whatever lies ahead.
Larry Tomczakis a best-selling author and cultural commentator with over 40 years of trusted ministry experience. His passion is to bring perspective, analysis and insight from a biblical worldview. He loves people and loves awakening them to today’s cultural realities and the responses needed for the bride of Christ—His church—to become influential in all spheres of life once again.
The temporary deal struck with Iran to freeze or scale back parts of its nuclear program in exchange for lifting some economic sanctions will be meaningless if a firm and final deal is not reached quickly, say former U.S. secretaries of state Henry Kissinger and George Shultz.
“Standing by itself, the interim agreement leaves Iran, hopefully only temporarily, in the position of a nuclear-threshold power — a country that can achieve a military nuclear capability within months of its choosing to do so,” the two write in a Wall Street Journalop-ed. “A final agreement leaving this threshold capacity unimpaired would institutionalize the Iranian nuclear threat, with profound consequences for global nonproliferation policy and the stability of the Middle East.”
Kissinger, who served under presidents Nixon and Ford, and Shultz, who served under Reagan, outline the challenging task of negotiating with a nation that historically has been unyielding and deceptive; a government that periodically would engage in talks but never dismantle any of its growing enriched uranium stockpile or enrichment infrastructures.
Over the past decade, they say, Iran has rejected proposal after proposal while continuing to accelerate its nuclear program.
“Under the interim agreement, Iranian conduct that was previously condemned as illegal and illegitimate has effectively been recognized as a baseline, including an acceptance of Iran’s continued enrichment of uranium (to 5 percent) during the agreement period,” they write.
“And that baseline program is of strategic significance. For Iran’s stockpile of low-enriched uranium is coupled with an infrastructure sufficient to enrich it within a few months to weapons-grade, as well as a plausible route to producing weapons-grade plutonium in the installation now being built at Arak.”
Continual lowering of the bar, by the United States and other nations, only feeds Iran’s insolent bravado, they say, noting that after the six-month agreement was reached, the Iranian negotiator described it as “giving Iran its long-claimed right to enrich, and in effect, eliminating the American threat of force as a last resort.”
Kissinger and Shultz warn that anything less than a permanent agreement, requiring Iran to dismantle its nuclear infrastructure, likely would result in the nation emerging as a “de facto nuclear power leading an Islamist camp,” while simultaneously damaging American credibility.
“Progress should be judged by a change of program, not a change of tone,” they say.
One result was that problems with the site, which became known at the end of March and early April, were not flagged up the chain of command because CMS did not report its concerns or request White House assistance.
In July, CMS technology official Henry Chao wrote an internal email to agency co-workers implying that he was worried about the work of the outside vendors.”I just need to feel more confident they are not going to crash the plane at takeoff, regardless of the price.”
As its own general contractor the agency had no one person in overall authority. Meanwhile, at the White House, Chief Technology OfficerTodd Park was only minimally involved in the nitty-gritty of what was happening at CMS, the Journal reported.
The White House Office of Management and Budget was set up to evaluate major technology projects but CMS was apparently reluctant to seek its assistance out of concern over OMB’s reputation for antagonism toward troubled projects, according to the Journal.
White House contracting policies contributed to CMS’ problems, the Journal reported. The administration discouraged government reliance on outsourcing in the belief that the private sector should not take on essentially governmental tasks.
This may explain why CMS served as its own general contractor overseeing the work of outside vendors as they interfaced with its own operations.
There was no one individual accountable for the project, said Max Stier of the Partnership for Public Service. That resulted in a “real leadership deficit.”
A White House report released over the weekend acknowledged that “Inadequate management oversight and coordination among technical teams prevented real-time decision making and efficient responses to address the issues with the site.”
Some insurers and at least one state are seeking ways to decouple from the improved but still flawed federal HealthCare.gov site, The Wall Street Journal reported.
Connecticut, which runs its own Affordable Care Act insurance marketplace, aims to establish enrollees are legal residents without relying on the need to tap into the federal system.
In addition, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services is also developing work-arounds that would reduce the need for call-center workers to turn to the federal site when calculating the value of tax credits. This would speed the processing of straightforward applications, according to the Journal.
While navigating the site is now more problem-free for average users, the issues of identity-verification and accurate enrollment data have not been resolved.
Meanwhile, insurers continue to press the Obama administration for ways to enroll customers directly — though doing so undermines Obamacare’s goal of offering comparison shopping to consumers.
Authorities expect a surge in demand on the federal site as millions of Americans — including the uninsured and those who will lose their coverage under Obamacare — rush to meet the Dec. 23 deadline for insurance that commences Jan. 1
According to Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., elected officials are still getting calls “from incredibly distressed citizens who’ve had their policies canceled, and yet are unable to enroll in a new plan.”
The Obama administration may be pushing to close the Guantanamo Bay prison, but that doesn’t mean all the prisoners want to go home.
Two Algerian prisoners being held at the Cuban naval base are fighting against being transferred out because they fear Islamist extremists will try to kill them when they discover the repatriated men don’t share their views on violence, a lawyer for one of them told The Wall Street Journal.
Robert Kirsch, who represents detainee Belkacem Bensayah, said sending him and the other Algerian detainee, Djamel Ameziane, back to the North African country is “the most callous, political abuse of these men,” and is being done so the Obama administration can show progress on closing the prison.
They would be returning to Algeria as Islamist violence is growing there and in other North African countries. According to government reports, North Africa now houses 15 al-Qaida affiliates, according to a recent Forbes report, and there have more than 1,000 attacks in Algeria, LIbya, Tunisia, and Morocco since 2010.
Cliff Sloan, the State Department’s special envoy on the Guantanamo closing, refused comment on specific cases, telling The Wall Street Journal that State is “moving ahead on the president’s commitment to close Guantanamo responsibly, and we are making progress.”
The Cuban prison, which former President George W. Bush opened in 2002, holds 164 prisoners, with 84 already cleared for release with restrictions. The government held a review last week for 21 more prisoners who are eligible to seek clearance, and nine others are either serving sentences or facing charges.
U.S. officials said they have already put off repatriation to some countries, including Tunisia, Syria, and Uzbekistan, along with Algeria, when detainees fear mistreatment upon going home.
Human rights activists say detainees’ fears must be taken seriously.
“When you hear people say they would rather spend the rest of their lives in Guantanamo than go to a particular place, you have to take that seriously,” said Andrea Prasow, a counterterrorism counsel with Human Rights Watch.
On Thursday, a senior Obama administration official, who was not named, said the United States does consider a detainee’s concerns, but 14 detainees have already been sent back to Algeria without incident.
Bensayah, 51, is one of six Algerians who were arrested in Bosnia for plotting to blow up U.S. and British embassies, and was turned over with the others to the United States in January 2002, shortly after Bush opened the prison. The other five have already been released, but a judge ruled Bensayah was an al-Qaida “facilitator” who planned to go to Afghanistan, but later backed away from the claims, ruling him eligible for release. Bensayah wants to return to Bosnia where his family lives, but the U.S. prefers returning prisoners to their own countries.
Amezian, 46, was caught trying to enter Pakistan from Afghanistan following the U.S. invasion that came after the Sept. 11, 2011 attacks. He has been fighting repatriation to Algeria since 2009 and wants to be resettled in Canada.