The ‘Alternate Universe’ of America’s Leaders

The ‘Alternate Universe’ of America’s Leaders

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“That’s an alternate universe.” These words have been ringing in my ears since I heard them a couple weeks ago. They well describe the dangerous thinking of America’s leaders in recent events. There is a shocking disconnect from reality.

Several American outposts in the Middle East lie defaced or smoldering right now, thanks to violent Muslim mobs that chanted, “We are all Osama.” Islamic banners fly where American flags should be. An American ambassador and three other U.S. personnel are dead and buried.

Anyone watching this would have to conclude that America’s foreign policy in that region needs to at least be reconsidered—right? Here is how German newspaper Die Welt interpreted these events: “U.S. President Barack Obama’s Middle East policy is in ruins.”

It’s not difficult to agree. Barack Obama has spoken as though he held the key to global interfaith harmony. “I truly believe that the day I’m inaugurated, not only does the country look at itself differently but the world looks at America differently,” he said in 2007 while campaigning for the presidency. “If I’m reaching out to the Muslim world, they understand that I’ve lived in a Muslim country—and I may be a Christian, but I also understand their point of view. … I think the world will have confidence that I am listening to them. … That will ultimately make us safer.”

So, for nearly four years this man has been reaching out—wishing Muslims a happy Ramadan; embracing the Muslim Brotherhood; apologizing for things America did in the Middle East to defend against the Soviets over half a century ago; criticizing America’s response to 9/11; helping to “liberate” Egypt and Libya. “Like no president before him, he tried to win over the Arab world,” Die Welt wrote.

You’d have to say the past week’s events delivered a pretty resounding response. “[N]ow parts of the freed societies are turning against the country that helped bring them into being,” Die Welt concluded. “Anti-Americanism in the Arab world has even increased to levels greater than in the Bush era. It’s a bitter outcome for Obama.”

Amazingly, though, this isn’t the way the Obama administration views it at all.

They don’t see any connection between the policy they have pursued for four years and these attacks.

“I asked myself—how could this happen?” Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said after the murders in Libya. “How could this happen in a country we helped liberate, in a city we helped save from destruction?” She has no idea. She couldn’t see it coming.

The radicals there and elsewhere essentially declared war on America. The U.S. responded with tough words. “Disgusting and reprehensible,” said Secretary Clinton. “Truly abhorrent,” said another White House official. But they weren’t talking about the murder of U.S. officials or hoisting Islamist flags over U.S. embassies. They were talking about a YouTube video.

Still, there’s really nothing to worry about, Secretary Clinton continued. “We must be clear-eyed, even in our grief. This was an attack by a small and savage group—not the people or government of Libya.” These attackers weren’t even people of Libya. Just a small, savage group, a handful of wackos.

She is staring directly at the problem and cannot comprehend it. Neither can the White House press secretary, Jay Carney. “This is … in response not to U.S. policy, not to, obviously, the administration, not to the American people. It is in response to a video—a film—that we have judged to be reprehensible and disgusting,” he said. In other words, We‘re on the same side as the protesters. We all agree: This video is reprehensible and disgusting. “[T]his is not a case of protests directed at the United States, writ large, or at U.S. policy,” he assured us.

Is this president really listening to the rest of the world? If these mobs did want to protest U.S. policy, the administration, the American people, or the United States writ large, what would they have to do? Islamist chants, flag burning, arson, murder—Washington doesn’t take any of these personally.

A reporter asked Mr. Carney if the attacks occurred because of “perceived American weakness” that stems from Obama’s leadership. He answered, “We’re very proud of the president’s record on foreign policy.”

This administration still thinks it is doing everything right. And when events blow up in their faces, they think the problem is simply that they haven’t done enough of what they’re doing.

They are unteachable.

The whole situation reminds me of a passage in the book of Revelation—a message from Christ to “the church of the Laodiceans.” He corrects them for their horrible disconnect from reality: “[Y]ou say, ‘I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing’—and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked” (Revelation 3:17, New King James). That is the self-congratulatory yet spiritually sick character of our age.

Even before last week’s attacks, polls showed that both America’s and the U.S. president’s popularity in the Muslim world has dropped since George W. Bush was in office. Yet still, President Obama said this year, “One of the proudest things of my three years in office is helping to restore a sense of respect for America around the world.”

Alternate universe.

It was Anderson Cooper who used that phrase a couple weeks ago. It was during cnn’s coverage of the Democratic National Committee (dnc) convention.

It was right after the party chairman unceremoniously ramrodded God and Jerusalem back into the party platform by stating the patent lie that the boisterous half-and-half verbal vote was actually a two-thirds majority in the affirmative. As shocking as that was, what came right after was possibly more so. cnn interviewed the chairwoman of the dnc, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who within three minutes boldly told about half a dozen bald-faced whoppers. The reporter, Brianna Keilar, asked why God and Jerusalem had been taken out of the platform in the first place; Schultz called it a “technical oversight.”

“I’m so proud of our president’s stellar record on Israel—and proud that our platform is 100 percent strong on the U.S.-Israel relationship,” she boasted. “We have even stronger language than the Republicans do on preventing Iran from achieving a nuclear weapon.” That language certainly isn’t stopping Iran. She claimed Israel’s defense minister said “Israel has never had a greater friend than President Obama.” Wow—did you realize the president was so tight with Israel? Does Benjamin Netanyahu realize it?

Keilar asked about the discord over the vote. The chairwoman responded: “There wasn’t any discord. … [The chairman] just had to make sure that we had a two-thirds vote, and when he realized that we did, we moved forward.” Are you sure it was two thirds? Keilar asked. It didn’t seem like it. “Yes, it was absolutely two thirds.”

My jaw dropped. I don’t recall ever personally witnessing such brazen contempt for truth. I don’t care what tens of thousands of people in the stadium just personally witnessed. It doesn’t matter what untold numbers watching on national television or seeing this clip online saw. If I say it was two thirds, it was two thirds.

“That’s an alternate universe,” Cooper said after the interview.

That universe seems to be where a whole lot of people in high places are living these days. Trouble is, they are making decisions that have terribly dangerous consequences for those of us living in this one.

Tensions Mount in the Strait of Hormuz

Tensions Mount in the Strait of Hormuz

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A massive fleet of navy vessels from around the world converged on the Strait of Hormuz last week to prepare for an annual 12-day naval exercise. Ships representing 25 nations, including the United States, Britain, France, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, began exercises Sunday in preparation for potential retaliation from Iran should Israel strike Iran’s nuclear sites.

Fearing that Iran might close down the Strait of Hormuz, the fleet is scheduled to conduct exercises on “how to breach an Iranian blockade of the strait and … counter-mining drills,” as well as destroying Iranian ships, fighters and missile batteries in the Persian Gulf area, the Telegraph reported. Though these war games are conducted every year, never before has such a large force participated. The exercise will include three full U.S. carrier groups, each accompanied by dozens of support vessels and carrying more aircraft than the entire Iranian air force.

With tensions mounting between Israel and Iran, Western powers are concerned Iran will retaliate by closing the strait, which would prove costly to the U.S., Britain, Europe and Asia. Eighteen million barrels of oil, roughly 35 percent of the world’s traded oil, flow through the strait every day.

The Strait of Hormuz has long been a disputed area and a significant bargaining chip in Iran’s favor. Fear of the strait being closed is always a deterrent for Western powers to take action against Iran. If Iran were to close it, the economic impact would be immense, as the cost of oil would rise drastically.

For years, the Trumpet has prophesied about Iran’s “pushy” foreign policy. The closing of the Strait of Hormuz would be just another step in Iran’s increasingly aggressive policy.

To understand the significance of what is going on in the Strait of Hormuz, read “Europe, Iran and Bible Prophecy Come Alive in the Strait of Hormuz!

The Real Reason Behind the Chicago School Strike

The Real Reason Behind the Chicago School Strike

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Monday of last week, about 30,000 Chicago public school teachers went on strike. The ongoing walkout is directly affecting some 400,000 children across 700 public schools in the district.

The Chicago Teachers Union originally asked for a 35 percent pay raise, but the city government only offered 16 percent. The teachers say they are also striking over poor classroom conditions and alleged unfair teacher evaluations.

This year, the Chicago public school district plans to spend $5.11 billion, a major increase over last year. Nearly 50 percent of education dollars it receives from the state will go to teacher pensions by 2014, according to a report from the Illinois Policy Institute.

The union wants a change to the previous salary contract that has just expired. According to the Chicago Sun-Times, “The starting salary for teachers with a bachelor’s degree is $50,116 and $56,007 for teachers with a master’s degree. At the top of the scale, a teacher with a doctorate and 25 years of experience receives an annual salary of $127,649.” That was the previous contract. Now the Chicago Teachers Union wants a three-year pay raise with a 5.6 percent raise in the first year, a 6.5 percent raise the second, and another 5.6 percent raise in the third year.

The strike has gone into its second week, so Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel has sued the union in an effort to force the teachers back into schools. The teachers are enraged by Emanuel’s move and have pilloried his actions as undemocratic. As the days drag by, the strike gets messier and uglier.

There is also another story behind this strike that has not been as widely reported. The teachers unions are worried about losing out to private and charter schools.

Some Chicago lawmakers are trying to pass legislation for a school voucher program that would enable low-income parents to use tax funds at private schools as well as public ones. Similar voucher programs have been implemented in New York and Indiana with success.

A study from the Brookings Institute and Harvard University found that voucher programs in New York greatly increased the percentage of youths from low-income households of finishing high school and graduating college.

The demand for the Indiana voucher program has grown so much over the last two years that public schools are threatening to sue private schools that accept students with vouchers.

In Illinois, organized labor has stopped up voucher legislation for two years. If a voucher program is implemented, Chicago Public Schools and the Chicago Teachers Union are afraid parents will take their children to schools where teachers are accountable, students are safer, and students actually learn—and unionized teachers will be out of a job.

There is a problem with the education in the Chicago school district, that much is clear. Last year, the federal government found that only 50.2 percent of ninth graders within that district graduate within four years. With all of the money that is going toward education, where are the results? The teachers have been making salaries that are well above average. Will paying them even more money really translate into more students graduating from high school? Will it really do anything to fix the problem? Or will it simply be catering to greed?

That is the real story behind this strike. This isn’t about the welfare of the students—it is about the welfare of highly paid, unaccountable, unionized teachers. It isn’t about fairness and equality in labor—it is about selfishness and greed.

Egyptian Overtures to Iran Demonstrate Alliance

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Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi offered to reward Iran with enhanced ties if Tehran will abandon Syria’s President Bashar Assad.

This overture by Egypt is the latest diplomatic initiative intended to solve the Syrian crisis. Every other diplomatic solution thus far has failed.

The offer was first made by Morsi when he met Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in Tehran last month, and has resulted in the formation of the “Islamic Quartet”—a regional grouping of nations comprised of anti-Assad Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Turkey; and pro-Assad Iran. Iran has since requested for Iraq and another unspecified country to join the quartet.

According to Morsi, if Iran ends its support of Assad, Egypt will restore full diplomatic ties with Iran and help improve relations between Iran and conservative Arab nations. Egypt said it would work toward ending Iran’s regional isolation. Associated Press noted that this would be “a significant diplomatic prize for Iran.” Egypt is the most populous Muslim nation in the Middle East, and it has one of its strongest militaries.

Although it is doubtful that Egypt’s current overtures to Iran will persuade Tehran to abandon its most important ally, they dramatically show how much Egypt has changed under Morsi’s rule. Under previous Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, Egypt and Iran were enemies.

In his December 1994 Trumpet article titled “Is Iraq About to Fall to Iran?,” editor in chief Gerald Flurry wrote about the prophesied geopolitical realignment in the Middle East. Egypt, he predicted, would have “an alliance with the king of the south”—Iran. That alliance is now congealed and is solidifying more every day.

Flight Canceled: Tel Aviv to Cairo

Flight Canceled: Tel Aviv to Cairo

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Israel’s El Al bringing an end to its Cairo service.

For the first time in 30 years, Israel’s largest airliner, El Al, is looking to indefinitely cancel all flights from Tel Aviv to Cairo, Egypt. Under the 1979 peace treaty, Israel and Egypt had a mutual agreement to keep flights operational between the two nations. This unprecedented change is just another black mark in the list of deteriorating relations between Egypt and Israel.

“In the absence of a business justification, and in light of the financial resources involved in providing this service (high-security guidelines), El Al is unable to continue to bear the burden of these heavy costs and therefore our intention is to end the service to Cairo immediately,” El Al’s ceo Eliezer Shkedi wrote to Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman.

Currently El Al is the only airline carrier to offer a direct flight between the cities of Tel Aviv and Cairo. But as relations between the two countries have deteriorated over the past year, flights have been virtually empty, creating a situation where the publicly owned El Al will only continue to operate the leg if it is subsidized by the Israeli government.

Egypt and specifically Cairo has long been a popular tourist destination for Israelis. At its peak back in 1999, over 400,000 Israelis traveled to Egypt. However, since that time numbers have steadily decreased with the cooling of relations between the two states.

The fact that El Al wants to get out of Egypt just after Mohammed Morsi took over the reins of the Egyptian government shows that even the airline carrier does not have much hope for future Israeli-Egyptian relations.

El Al’s move is another sign that the historic 30 years peace between the two nations is rapidly nearing its end.

A Perilous New Year for Israel

Arutz Sheva reported Sunday, “The president’s refusal to meet Netanyahu during the prime minister’s visit to New York next week was officially ascribed to ‘scheduling’ problems. It would be the first time ever that an American president has not met with a visiting Israeli prime minister.” History is being made—not the kind that Israel appreciates, however.

While in the United States, the Israeli prime minister will also be on a campaign to hopefully galvanize American support for more decisive action against Iran. Whether or not Israel will opt for a unilateral strike against Iran without America’s support is the big question, as Israeli officials continue to warn that time is running out in the race to stop Iran from going nuclear.

Israeli officials have made it clear that they will act with or without American support, if it is deemed necessary to protect their country. But with Hezbollah to the north and Hamas and an increasingly unfriendly Egypt to the south, the odds seem stacked against Israel. Any strike on Iran could spark an outbreak of violence against Israel from virtually all sides.

“Appalling as these consequences might be, however, a nuclear-armed Iran, arguably the most significant terrorist state in the world and which regularly issues threats to annihilate Israel, would be a far worse prospect,” Melanie Phillips wrote. “If America were to join such an attack, however, the terrible risks to Israel would be lessened and the likelihood of destroying Iran’s nuclear program significantly higher” (September 11).

For such a small, isolated and endlessly persecuted country, it is easy to see why Israel earnestly desires American support. Its once best and strongest ally could change the whole situation if it decided to step into the fray.

But, “after Israel had all but said it would refrain from attacking Iran’s nuclear plants if only the president would draw a ‘red line’ in negotiations by threatening force if they failed, Obama had refused on the risible grounds that, according to Hillary Clinton, negotiations were ‘the best approach,’” Melanie Phillips continued.

In response, Netanyahu made a rather pointed speech aimed at the United States’ refusal to draw those red lines.

“The world tells Israel, ‘Wait. There’s still time,’” Netanyahu said last Tuesday. “And I say: ‘Wait for what? Wait until when?’ Those in the international community who refuse to put red lines before Iran don’t have a moral right to place a red light before Israel.”

The prime minister went on to say: “If Iran knows that there is no deadline, what will it do? Exactly what it’s doing. It’s continuing, without any interference, towards obtaining nuclear weapons capability and from there, nuclear bombs.”

This unprecedented harsh criticism against the United States is likely what sparked Obama’s “scheduling conflict” that might prevent him from meeting with Netanyahu.

After Netanyahu’s shot at Washington in that manner, U.S. Department of State spokeswoman Victoria Nuland retorted that such public spats between the two nations weren’t helpful in solving the Iranian problem. But as Melanie Phillips pointed out, there could hardly be a more public snub than Obama’s refusal to meet with Netanyahu.

This snub is especially strong considering that President Obama is more than happy to host other leaders like Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi, right there in the White House. Now, there is some chance that he will put that off in light of all the problems that we see exploding in the Middle East. But still, what a stark difference between this traditional ally in Israel and some of the others that the White House is quite happy to host.

“Not since its birth six decades ago has Israel been so cast adrift by its closest ally,” Charles Krauthammer wrote for the Washington Post last Friday.

“The Obama policy is a double game: a rhetorical commitment to stopping Iran, yet real-life actions that everyone understands will allow Iran to go nuclear,” he wrote. “Yet at the same time that it does nothing, the administration warns Israel sternly, repeatedly, publicly, even threateningly not to strike the Iranian nuclear program. With zero prospect of his policy succeeding, Obama insists on Israeli inaction, even as Iran races to close the window of opportunity for any successful attack.”