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Clinton Greed

The Clintons have always had an uneasy relationship with money. Bill never had any. And although Hillary had a comfortable upbringing, she didn't take the path to riches that her Yale Law degree might have provided, choosing instead to do public interest law right out of law school and marry a man with great political ambition.

But, clearly, both Bill and Hillary wanted the good life -- and the money it takes to provide it. Nothing wrong with that, but the means by which they've enriched themselves have been unsavory at best. And all this makes suspicious the recent revelations that Bill and Hillary have become fabulously rich through the former president's speeches paid by individuals, corporate interests and governments who stood to benefit from their relationship with a former president married to a U.S. senator who then became secretary of state.

Between 2001 and 2013, Bill Clinton earned more than $100 million in speaking fees, $26 million of which came from donors to the Clinton Foundation. What's more, the foundation itself has accumulated $250 million in assets, much of it from foreign donors, The New York Times has reported. The Times, in a lengthy investigative piece based in part on the forthcoming book "Clinton Cash" by Peter Schweizer, described the "special ethical challenge" the foundation faced accepting huge sums of money "even as (Bill Clinton's) wife helped steer American foreign policy as secretary of state, presiding over decisions with the potential to benefit the foundation's donors."

The Times piece focused on the possible role that cash paid to the foundation and to Bill Clinton personally might have played in a deal that handed Russia effective control of 20 percent of the United States' uranium reserves.  The story, which is long and complex, involves Bill Clinton, Canadian businessmen, the authoritarian president of Kazakhstan, a Kazakh state-run uranium agency, the Russian government, and a little-known federal interagency group, the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, on which Hillary Clinton sat as secretary of state.

Over a four-year period between 2005 and 2009, one of the Canadian businessmen at the heart of the story, Frank Giustra, developed a close relationship with Bill Clinton and the Clinton Foundation, to which he has donated $31.3 million as of 2008. According to the Times, Giustra flew Clinton on his private jet to Kazakhstan for a dinner with President Nursultan A. Nazarbayev in 2005.  Within days, Giustra's small company acquired stakes in three uranium mines controlled by the Kazakh uranium agency.

Giustra later merged his company with a large South African uranium company, Uranium One, whose chairman, Ian Telfer, also became a big donor to the Clinton Foundation. Between 2009 and 2013, Telfer used his family foundation to donate at least $2.35 million to the foundation, Canadian records show. According to the Times' report, "those contributions were not publicly disclosed by the Clintons, despite an agreement Mrs. Clinton had struck with the Obama White House to publicly identify all donors."

But the story doesn't end there. Uranium One's stock plummeted in 2009 when the head of the Kazakh state uranium agency was arrested on corruption charges, which included selling uranium deposits to Giustra's company. Meanwhile, Russia was trying to acquire a stake in Uranium One, and the company pressed the U.S. embassy in Kazakhstan to assure Russia that the Kazakh uranium licenses were still valid.

The pressure apparently succeeded, and U.S. energy officials met with their Kazakh counterparts on June 10 and 11. Three days later, the Russian government acquired 17 percent of Uranium One. Within a year, the Russians made a bid for 51-percent control of Uranium One -- but first they needed approval from the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, on which Hillary Clinton served, because of Uranium One's U.S. acquisitions.

Shortly after the Russians announced their intent, Bill Clinton flew to Moscow for a speech for which he was paid $500,000 by "a Russian investment bank with links to the Kremlin that was promoting Uranium One stock," according to the Times. The committee approved the Russian deal despite the fact that it gave the Russians control over uranium mines and exploration in several Western states. As a result, Russia now controls 20 percent of U.S. uranium.

Hillary Clinton's campaign would like to ignore this story. But it is unlikely -- with The New York Times, The Washington Post and other mainstream media now looking into it -- that they can sweep it entirely under the rug.

But who knows? Does anyone even remember that the Whitewater investigation was sparked not by sex between a president and a White House intern, but by a land deal meant to enrich then Gov. Bill Clinton and his wife?

Avoiding the Pitfalls of 2012

Republicans lost the 2012 presidential election during their primaries. By the time Mitt Romney secured his party's nomination, the seeds of his defeat had already germinated. The challenge for Republicans in 2016 will be to keep that from happening again. And no issue is more fraught with dangers for Republicans than immigration.

Of the three announced Republican candidates -- Sens. Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz and Rand Paul -- Rubio is probably in the best position to avoid the mistakes of the past.

Paul's problem is that he has been all over the board on immigration. Although he has recently said he favors legislation that would give work permits to many of the 11 million immigrants now in the U.S. illegally, Paul wants to revoke birthright citizenship. But the nation has, from its founding, embraced birthright citizenship, albeit denying it to the descendants of slaves until passage of the 14th Amendment. A constitutional amendment revoking birthright citizenship has no chance of adoption, and those who argue that simple legislation would suffice ignore the plain language of the 14th Amendment, the legislative history and debate at the time of adoption, and Supreme Court precedents.

Cruz, on the other hand, has made opposition to illegal immigration a cornerstone of his political identity, pushing to shut down the entire Department of Homeland Security to prevent funding for President Barack Obama's executive amnesty. But even Cruz has adopted a softer tone in the aftermath of the announcement of his presidential bid, saying he favors a legal guest-worker program -- a position opposed by restrictionist anti-immigration groups, such as NumbersUSA and the Federation for American Immigration Reform.

So how would Rubio fare in the immigration debate within the party? Rubio was one of the so-called Gang of Eight, who fashioned a comprehensive immigration bill in 2013. The anti-immigrant right has denounced the bill as "amnesty," but Rubio has been skillful in deflecting those attacks. The bill included fines for those who have broken the nation's immigration laws -- $1,000 per person is hardly an amnesty -- as well as requirements that they pay all back taxes, pass a criminal background check and learn English.

As Rubio told Fox News Channel's Megyn Kelly this week, he worked to make the bill as conservative as possible in a Senate that was still controlled by Democrats and assumed that the Republican House would strengthen the border provisions and other parts of the bill. "That was our hope. It didn't work out that way," he said.

Rubio opposes President Obama's executive amnesty -- as do most Republicans. But he also knows that deporting 11 million people would be not only unfeasible but also un-American.

In an example of courage under fire, he gave a firm "no" to a voter in New Hampshire who asked that he commit to "send home every single person that's violated our country's laws and is here illegally." Rather than pander to the anti-immigrant wing of the party, Rubio said: "I don't think anyone can commit that to you. You have 12? million human beings in America, most of whom we don't even know who they are and some of them whom our country's not going to tolerate rounding up and sending back."

Rubio has spent a decade and a half fashioning solutions as a legislator, first in the Florida House of Representatives, where he became speaker, and then in the U.S. Senate. He knows that the only solution to our immigration problem is to rewrite our antiquated, unworkable immigration laws.

If Rubio and other would-be Republican hopefuls can stick to focusing on ways to fix our broken system and ignore temptations to bash immigrants who are here illegally, they just might end the primary season with some hope of winning over the Hispanic and Asian voters who deserted the party in 2012. Without those voters, the GOP would have a much more difficult path to taking back the White House. But more importantly, it's the right thing to do.

A Legacy of Racial Grievance

Another shooting has taken place in Ferguson, Missouri -- and this time, two police officers were the victims. The violence should not come as a surprise, given the ugly tone set by the nation's top law enforcement officer, Attorney General Eric Holder.

The most divisive attorney general since Richard Nixon's John Mitchell, Holder has fanned the flames of racial grievance for much of his tenure. In his early days in office, he called America "a nation of cowards" on racial issues. Last week, his target was the Ferguson Police Department. Holder promised, "We are prepared to use all the power that we have ... to ensure that the situation changes there." No, he didn't intend for someone to try to kill two police officers by shooting them in the face. But by portraying the police department as racist to the core, he contributed to the culture of vengeance that led to the shooting.

There is no doubt that the Ferguson Police Department has major problems and needs reform. As the 105-page Justice Department report issued last week documents, city officials have seen the police department largely as a cash cow: "The City budgets for sizeable increases in municipal fines and fees each year, exhorts police and court staff to deliver those revenue increases, and closely monitors whether those increases are achieved."

The main sources of those revenues are criminal and civil fines. The policy encourages police to make more traffic stops, conduct more searches, issue more tickets and make more arrests and the courts to issue more warrants and fines to drive up revenues. It's a lousy policy -- but one not unique to Ferguson. If the Justice Department were truly serious about changing the abuses more broadly, it would have conducted a larger study that looked at similar patterns in other localities -- including largely white tourist towns, where traffic tickets are often a huge source of revenue.

But Holder isn't interested in the insatiable appetite of government for more revenues. He came to Ferguson in search of racism -- and of course, he found it. It was predestined from the moment President Barack Obama announced he was sending Holder to Ferguson to investigate the shooting of Michael Brown last August.

Perhaps the greatest irony of the Justice Department's investigation is that it cleared the Ferguson police officer who shot Brown, Darren Wilson, of any wrongdoing in Brown's death. Obama, Holder and many of the liberal media were quick to suspect that Wilson, who is white, shot Brown because he was black. For months after the shooting, protesters around the country adopted the mantra "hands up, don't shoot" to describe Brown's actions before he was fatally shot by Wilson. Now the Justice Department's investigation has concluded that nothing of the sort happened.

According to all available forensic evidence and credible witnesses, Brown attacked the police officer and was in the process of charging toward him when Wilson fired the fatal shots.

Racism wasn't responsible for Michael Brown's death. Brown's own behavior precipitated his unfortunate end.

Blaming racism for every statistical disparity that exists between whites and blacks -- from education to income and poverty to crime -- gets us no further in solving the problems that exist for many black Americans. Nor does it get us closer to wiping out the racial prejudices that do, unfortunately, still exist among a minority of the American population. But those prejudices -- examples of which were found by the Justice Department among police officers in Ferguson -- are not unique to whites. In every study of racial attitudes among Americans, whites are no likelier to harbor prejudices against people of other races than are blacks, Hispanics or Asians.

Eric Holder will leave office as early as next week if the Senate confirms Loretta Lynch to be his successor. It will be none too soon. A man who could have done much to improve race relations will instead leave behind a sorry legacy of inflaming racial tensions when the nation most needed a healer.

What a Deal

Boy do I have a deal for you. Give me enough money to build a fancy new house, and I promise I won't try to blow up yours. You can even check my basement to make sure I'm not stockpiling dynamite. Oh, and I promise I won't try to buy any explosives from those shady characters I hang out with or hide what I already have in a storage unit somewhere else.

Sound like a good bargain? Well, in simple terms, it pretty much describes the framework the Obama administration has signed on to in order to persuade Iran to give up its quest to build nuclear weapons.

The U.S. and our allies agree to lift economic sanctions, which have crippled the Iranian economy, in return for Iran agreeing to hold back on making nuclear weapons for a while. They promise to convert facilities we know they have been using to enrich uranium and plutonium. They will even let us inspect some sites, though we know they have violated all previous agreements for open inspections. And we'll continue to turn a blind eye toward the mullahs' pervasive violations of human rights, especially those of women.

President Obama seems to regard as a major achievement an agreement to reach an agreement, which is all this week's deal is -- a formal agreement won't happen until June, if at all. Was ever an American president so deluded as to his accomplishments? His administration has so far botched everything it has touched when it comes to foreign affairs. Obama came into office promising to restore America's reputation. Instead, he's damaged it, perhaps irreparably for the near future.

Our allies don't trust us. Relations between the U.S. and Israel rarely have been worse, but we're not on all that great of terms with the UK or Germany, either. Do any of our allies even trust our word any longer? Why should they, when the president repeatedly has failed to live up to promises, whether to stop Russian aggression in Ukraine or to keep the murderous Assad regime from killing Syrian civilians?

Indeed, the Middle East has descended into chaos. Iraq is plagued by ISIS and sectarian conflicts between Shia and Sunni Muslims. The government in Yemen has collapsed, forcing a Saudi-led military operation that hopes to fend off Iranian-backed rebels from gaining total control of the failed state.

In North Africa, terrorists have attacked a museum in Tunisia and a U.S. consulate in Libya, and both countries face growing threats from ISIS and al-Qaida affiliates. Morocco, often regarded as the most stabile country in the region, arrested ISIS members in March who were allegedly planning attacks against military installations and plotting political assassinations.

Sub-Saharan Africa is in no better shape. Nigeria, Kenya, Tanzania, Cameroon and Uganda all have experienced Islamist terrorist attacks since 2010, killing many hundreds of victims, many of them Christians. An attack on Christian students at a Kenyan University campus left nearly 150 dead on Thursday alone. The Obama administration's response to the threat of Boko Haram has proved little more effective than Michelle Obama's tweeting #BringBackOurGirls when the terrorists kidnapped hundreds of Nigerian young women last year.

The Iranian deal is of a piece with the Obama administration's overall foreign policy. It is more capitulation to those who threaten our national security. Iran will get an immediate economic boost as we lift sanctions, which will strengthen a regime that is already ascendant as a regional power. A stronger Iranian economy will make it easier for the ruling mullahs to promote terrorism around the world and to fight proxy wars in Yemen and elsewhere. Thanks to Obama's decision to withdraw U.S. troops from Iraq, Iran is already calling the shots in those areas of Iraq that haven't fallen to ISIS.

At a Rose Garden press conference announcing the Iran deal, the president promised: "If Iran cheats, the world will know it. If we see something suspicious, we will inspect it."

Whew. I feel a lot safer. Don't you?

Education and Ferguson

The Center for Equal Opportunity recently sent this letter to the District of Columbia’s attorney general, Karl Racine:

Dear Attorney General Racine,

We are writing with regard to this news story, which says that [a District of Columbia councilmember] and the American Civil Liberties Union have asked you to consider the legality of a proposed new high school’s gender exclusivity.

We respectfully request that, at the same time, you also consider the legality of the racial exclusivity of such programs.  We don’t know if the new high school is supposed to be limited to people of certain races, but obviously if it were this would be contrary to decisions like Brown v. Board of Education (1954) and its companion case, involving District of Columbia schools, Bolling v. Sharpe (1954). 

This particular program aside, we also question the racial focus of the District’s whole “Empowering Men of Color Initiative.”  We are sure that the initiative will have many worthwhile programs, but we do not think that, as a matter of law or policy, they should be limited only to individuals of particular races and ethnicities.  Why should two boys, who might not only live in the same neighborhood but might even have the same mother, be treated differently because one had a father of one color and the other a father of a different color?  Certainly this would be unfair, and it is also in our view clearly illegal.  There is no “compelling” interest that the courts have recognized in this area, and such an categorical rule is in any event not “narrowly tailored.”

All this said, we know that the descriptions of programs by public officials as reported in news stories are not always accurate.  We hope that the programs here will, in fact, be open to individuals of all racial and ethnic groups, even if it is expected that most of those eligible will, for socioeconomic and other reasons, be more likely to belong to some groups than others.

Thank you very much in advance for your consideration of our concerns.  We look forward to your reply.

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Speaking of education,  I enjoyed this article on National Review Online about the No Child Left Behind reauthorization currently pending in Congress, and was particularly happy to see this: “[Education Secretary Arne] Duncan’s wish list has included race-based performance targets. . . . The Student Success Act [the Republican No Child Left Behind reform currently before the House] would end the ability of Duncan, and of his successor, to engage in such shenanigans.”

I would add only that, while I do not doubt that Secretary Duncan would like to make things worse, No Child Left Behind has always included an unfortunate racial focus (see my discussion here), and it would be great if Congress removed it altogether.

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And one other education note:  Gail Heriot and Peter Kirsanow — the two conservatives on the U.S. Commission for Civil Rights, with whom the Center for Equal Opportunity does a lot of work — have written a fine letter urging Congress not to grant the Obama administration’s requested 31 percent increase in the budget for the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights. The two commissioners document “a disturbing pattern of disregard for the rule of law at OCR,” all in the service of fashionable political correctness, of course.  Congress should listen.

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Finally, I ought to say something about the reports issued last week by the U.S. Department of Justice regarding the recent unpleasantly in Ferguson, Missouri.  As for the first report, it was gratifying that even Eric Holder had to concede that the evidence is lacking for the “Hands Up!  Don’t Shoot!” mantra we’ve been hearing for the past several months. 

The report about the Ferguson police department itself, however, is less fact-based, alas.  As one of co-contributors warned on National Review Online, the Justice Department made dubious use of the “disparate impact” approach to civil-rights enforcement in its report (see especially pages 63-70).  That approach equates statistical imbalances with proof of discrimination, and it is the biggest problem with the report.

Here are some additional thoughts on my quick reading:

1.  Using the disparate-impact approach is bad, and it is misleading not to control for the obvious variables:  Naturally there will be more blacks stopped, proportionately, if the black population tends to be younger and poorer than the white population, to say nothing of the relative likelihood of law-breaking activity among different demographic groups.  Yet there is no acknowledgment of this in the report.

2.  The picture the report paints of how the police and court system works in Ferguson is, no doubt, not a pretty one.  But it will be interesting to see what Ferguson's response is, because there is no effort at all in the report to give both sides.

3.  You have to wonder about how much evidentiary value "racist" emails cited in the report should have.  And it’s not even clear if these emails were actually sent by policemen rather than simply received by them.

4.  The Justice Department treats police departments the way it thinks police departments treat African Americans.  That is, it's looking very hard to confirm its own stereotypes, and the result will be continuing mistrust.

5. It is not a good idea for anyone involved to encourage young poor black males to view the police as illegitimate and racist.  That is, it will make the job of the police harder, and it will not improve the life-chances for young poor black males.

6.  Is fixing traffic tickets really an unconstitutional outrage (part of the Justice Department’s report)?

7.  The report also encouraged more diversity-hiring in the police department.  But there was no mention of the legal constraints on race-based hiring.

8.  All this said, the most important part of the report, going forward, is the last section on reforms, and it could be worse, at least if Ferguson pushes back a bit.

Nothing Inevitable About Clinton Nomination

A new CBS poll on Hillary Clinton this week suggests that the former first lady, New York senator and secretary of state faces a steeper road to the White House than her supporters might think. Only 26 percent in the poll of the adult population had a favorable view of Clinton, while 37 percent had an unfavorable opinion, and an astonishing 36 percent said they hadn't heard enough to form an opinion or were undecided.

Because the poll sampled all adults, not just registered voters, the poll's political significance is limited. Much of the general public pays little attention to politics, and even less so this far out from an election. And, obviously, only those who register and vote actually matter on Election Day.

Nonetheless, the inevitability of a Clinton presidency is far from secure. For one thing, many people don't trust her. According to the CBS poll, only 42 percent view her as trustworthy, while 47 percent do not. What is unusual about this finding is that it goes against the usual gender advantage women candidates have on issues of trust and ethics. For decades, studies and polling have shown that voters think women politicians are more likely than men to be trustworthy and ethical.

Hillary's problems go back to her days in the White House in the 1990s. Who among those who follow politics can forget the battle over her billing records from the Rose Law Firm, subpoenaed but "lost," until they showed up mysteriously two years later in the first couple's White House residence? From her response to the Benghazi attack, which killed a U.S. ambassador and two other Americans, to the dustup over her using a personal email account to conduct State Department business, Clinton has shown herself to be both defensive and secretive, neither of which qualities inspires trust.

Clinton also seems tired. As a woman who is the same age as Clinton, I can understand it. I travel a great deal -- about 100,000 miles a year -- but nothing like Clinton will when she runs. Sixteen-hour days are one thing when you're in your 40s and another as you approach 70. And, let's face it, women may hold a gender advantage with the public on some personal attributes, but age isn't one of them.

Clinton will be 69 in 2016 -- the same age as Ronald Reagan was in 1980 when he ran and won in a landslide. But age was kinder to Reagan, as it often is to men. Reagan managed to convey energy and vigor by riding horseback and chopping wood in his leisure time and engaging with voters and debating on the campaign trail. Clinton doesn't seem to have that same gift. Sure, it's not fair that women are judged more harshly on age -- but it probably matters in an election, even if few people are willing to say so.

Clinton has tremendous advantages -- not least intelligence, ambition and a fundraising juggernaut -- which have discouraged other serious Democrats from entering the race. But it's important to remember that in 2008 her nomination seemed pretty inevitable, too, until a little-known first-term senator decided to launch a challenge. We all know how that ended.

But Clinton can't be beat unless someone else gets in the race. Right now, former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley looks like he might make a go of it. O'Malley isn't a household name, but neither was Barack Obama, and unlike Obama, O'Malley has had actual executive experience.

Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren keeps saying she's not running, but she has a fervent fan base in the left wing of the Democratic Party and could cause Clinton some problems if she decided to throw her hat in the ring. But there are other Democratic senators who also could step into the fray.

Sen. Sherrod Brown from Ohio comes to mind. A former Eagle Scout and a devout member of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America, he seems solidly Middle American and would win support among union members and populists for his role in blocking U.S. free trade agreements. He also happens not to be up for reelection until 2018, which means he could run without giving up his current job.

It is far too early to know what will happen once the race for president begins. But I, for one, am not betting that Hillary Clinton will be the Democratic nominee.

Conservative Solutions

Now that Republicans have walked back from the brink on funding for the Department of Homeland Security, it's time to figure out whether there is any way forward on the immigration reform. I've spent the past few weeks talking -- and listening -- to conservatives on the issue, and I've actually become more hopeful, but I don't expect it will be easy. Nor do I expect it will happen soon.

The major obstacle to immigration reform as far as the GOP is concerned is President Obama. They just do not trust him to enforce the law -- any law -- if he happens to disagree with it. When Obama decided to take executive action to give temporary legal status and work permits to four million illegal immigrants, he ruined any chance that compromise could be found while he is in office.

But there will be a new president in two years, and Republicans must begin to lay the groundwork if compromise is to be found. If they stay opposed to any reform and continue to talk about illegal immigrants as if they were criminal invaders, as many hardliners do now, the chances of winning the White House will diminish significantly. Hispanics and Asians fled the Republican Party in 2012, and they will again if the rhetoric doesn't change.

However, it's also important for those of us who favor reform to understand the concerns and frustrations of conservatives on this issue. That's why I've been reaching out to my fellow conservatives to hear what worries them most about immigration.

First, conservatives believe strongly in the rule of law. As far as they are concerned, all 11 million illegal immigrants now in the U.S. are lawbreakers and must be punished. The idea of "amnesty" doesn't sit well.

But the question becomes: How do we resolve the fate of the 11 million? Few conservatives want to round up 11 million men, women and children, especially those who work, pay taxes and contribute to the economies of their local communities. So what do we do? Are we observing the rule of law better by ignoring it or selectively enforcing it, as we do now?

As a nation, unless we are ready to contemplate the economic and human costs of identifying, apprehending, detaining and ultimately evicting the 3.5 percent of the U.S. population that is illegally present, we are going to have to figure out a way to grant some sort of legal status to at least a portion of this population.

For conservatives, this will mean coming up with criteria that meet the standard that those who have broken the law pay some price for doing so. Whatever restitution illegal immigrants ultimately are forced to make, the "punishment" should fit the "crime."

Illegally entering the United States by evading the border patrol or crossing at an improper entry point is indeed a crime -- but the crime is a misdemeanor, punishable by a $250 fine and no more than six months of incarceration, and that only after being found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. But about 40 percent of the 11 million unauthorized immigrants actually entered legally and overstayed their visas. This is a civil infraction, not a criminal one, though it can result in deportation or voluntary removal.

President George W. Bush's plan to deal with the population of unauthorized immigrants -- which Democrats ultimately derailed in the Senate -- would have had them pay fines and back taxes (if owed, though most illegal immigrants pay taxes already) and pass a background check that proved they had not committed crimes in the U.S. or in their home country. It was never an amnesty, as critics charged, but a sensible plan that meted out a proportionate penalty for violating immigration laws.

But solving the fate of those already in the U.S. illegally doesn't deal with the bigger issue of how we stop future illegal immigration. And conservatives worry that any solution that allows people to stay here will only encourage more people to come illegally.

They're right -- up to a point. If we don't fix our immigration laws so that we can admit sufficient numbers of people to meet labor demands, we're likely to continue to have illegal immigration. Most conservatives are more open to reforming legal immigration through expanded guest worker programs and changes in the way we admit permanent legal residents. If the GOP is smart, they will tackle that problem first. But don't count on a significant overhaul happening until a new president takes office.

In the meantime, Republicans will increase their chances that the new Oval Office occupant is one of their own if they stop being obstructionist and start fashioning solutions.

Abandoning Our Friends

The Obama administration seems to have taken the old adage about keeping friends close but enemies closer to new extremes, judging from the reaction to the Israeli elections.

The United States has no real friends in the Middle East, save Israel. Our strategic relationships with other governments, from Saudi Arabia to Jordan to Egypt and others, are not true friendships but are based on mutual self-interest. They can and do change depending on circumstances and players.

We were allied with Egypt under Hosni Mubarak, but abandoned him when the Arab Spring promised new, democratic leadership. Then -- thankfully -- we restrained our support for his successor, Mohammed Morsi, who turned out to be no democrat, despite being elected.

The U.S. relationship with Israel has always been different, owing not to who leads either government, but based on shared values, culture and history. Those ties have been important since the founding of Israel. Harry Truman played a pivotal role in recognizing Israel in 1948 -- against the vigorous opposition of his secretary of state and others in the administration -- legitimating the Jewish state when much of the world was opposed to its creation.

But history is not the primary reason we have always stood by Israel and must do so today. We are part of the same civilization. Our values are the same, part of a continuing tradition that traces its roots back some 4,000 years. Our Founders understood the profound importance of Judeo-Christian values in the American conception of individual rights, believing a Creator -- not government -- endowed each person with the unalienable right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

President Obama, however, seems oblivious to what makes Israel different from other allies in the region. He seems not to understand the basis on which we have a special relationship with Israel. It goes beyond his repeated personal snubs of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, most recently by delaying calling Netanyahu after his Likud Party's surprising victory in the Israeli parliamentary elections. Obama was much quicker to make congratulatory calls to tyrants like Russia's Vladimir Putin and Iran's Hassan Rouhani following their elections. The White House seems intent on insulting Netanyahu, but, more importantly, on punishing Israel.

It's a dangerous game the president and his administration are playing. On Wednesday, anonymous high-level administration officials hinted to Politico that the U.S. might have to rethink the way it deals with Israel, perhaps not opposing U.N. resolutions condemning the Jewish state on settlements and other issues as we always have. Congressional support for Israel is strong enough to make it highly unlikely that the administration could reduce foreign or defense aid. But it is not inconceivable that Israel's support in Congress could, in the long run, be jeopardized if more Democrats follow Obama's lead.

Obama is on track to go down as more hostile toward Israel than any president in the past 68 years. It is hard to believe his actions stem from nothing more than personal animus toward Netanyahu. Obama has no trouble reaching out to the likes of Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, writing him a fawning letter back in November. But he can't seem to bury the hatchet with Netanyahu. Is there more to this than his dislike for one man?

The left has largely abandoned Israel. And unfortunately, Obama is a man of the left. Having won reelection, he seems willing to allow his leftist instincts to guide him more openly in foreign policy than in his first term. But those instincts were always there. They are what made him promise as a candidate that he would meet with Fidel Castro, Hugo Chavez and Kim Jong Il without preconditions, calling the failure of other presidents to do so a "disgrace."

But the real disgrace is a president who does not stand by our friends and who would embrace our enemies. Eight years of Barack Obama's presidency may well leave the United States with fewer friends and will have done little to stop more tyrants from occupying the world stage.

CEO Needs Your Help

Dear CEO supporter,

We recently sent you an email updating you on our work and asking for your continued help but we haven’t heard back, so I wanted to make sure you received it and also update you on some of our more recent work.

2014 was a banner year for the Center for Equal Opportunity (CEO), as we continue in our relentless opposition to race-based policies by the Obama administration and other politically correct institutions. That’s why we are asking for your help again.

But first let me tell you about some of what we’ve been up to. This past year, especially with the events in Ferguson, Missouri, the race baiters like Al Sharpton have been out in full force like never before—trying to inflame the nation and irresponsibly playing the race card at every turn. But CEO has been out there fighting back, speaking and writing on these issues and leading the fight against the irresponsible playing of the race card.

And we’ve had major successes not only in the court of public opinion but in some recent court cases as well. In Schuette v. BAMN, the Court of Appeals had held that Michigan's Proposal 2 violates the U.S. Constitution. Proposal 2 was a ballot initiative that amended the state constitution to provide that state and local government agencies (including public universities) in Michigan "shall not discriminate against, or grant preferential treatment to, any individual or group on the basis of race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin in the operation of public employment, public education, or public contracting." 

There’s nothing wrong with that! The problem is that liberal judges didn’t like the fact that it banned racial preferences in university admissions.

CEO was involved in this case for a long time, first in the lower courts and then in the Supreme Court.  In fact, we helped get Proposal 2 passed in the first place, by releasing studies that documented how heavily racial and ethnic preferences were being used at Michigan public universities.  We joined and helped write numerous briefs — twice in the lower courts, then urging the Court to take the case, and finally on the merits. We participated in a moot court for the State of Michigan counsel and provided comments on the state’s brief. And we won: The Court upheld Proposal 2.  Now we’re explaining how other states can follow suit.

Another case, Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs v. Inclusive Communities Project, was also a Supreme Court matter in which CEO has been heavily involved. It presents the question of whether “disparate impact” causes of action may be brought under the Fair Housing Act. The Court has recognized but never decided this important issue — that is, whether a policy that is neutral by its terms, in its intent, and in its application can still be illegally “discriminatory” because it has disproportionate racial effects (for example, suppose a landlord won’t rent to people with felony convictions for violent crimes—why should that be illegal?).

We filed an amicus brief successfully urging the Supreme Court to take this case, have now filed a brief on the merits, and have been advising party counsel.  This is the third case and the third term in a row we have played a key role in such litigation. More generally, we have played a key role in bringing greater public visibility to abusive “disparate impact” lawsuits and regulations by the Obama administration.

This was on the heels of two previous landmark Supreme Court cases in which CEO has also recently played an important role. The first was the Supreme Court’s decision in Fisher v. University of Texas, overturning the court appeals ruling that had upheld the University of Texas’s use of racial preferences in university admissions. 

CEO had filed a series of amicus briefs in this litigation—first in the U.S. Court of Appeals, then urging the Supreme Court to take the case, and then urging the Court to end racial preferences.  Before that, we also filed an administrative complaint against the University’s policy.

The Supreme Court was right to tell the lower court to take a harder look.  In a country that is more and more multiracial and multiethnic, our laws and institutions simply cannot sort Americans by skin color and what country their ancestors came from.

The other landmark Supreme Court case we’ve recently been involved in was the challenge to Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, Shelby County v. Holder. And we won there, too! CEO was very glad that the Court struck down as unconstitutional the coverage formula of Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act.  CEO had filed amicus briefs at both the petition stage and on the merits, urging this result.  In addition, CEO president and general counsel Roger Clegg and I had testified against re-enacting Section 5 when it was last before Congress.

None of this would have been possible without the help of loyal supporters like you. But to continue our efforts, we need your help now more than ever.  Thanks to the sluggish Obama economy, CEO is facing a difficult budget crisis.  Yet no one does the work CEO does on these critical issues. 

Once again, the race baiters—including, amazingly, President Obama himself—have been full force telling the public that the Voting Rights Act case ruling turned back the clock on civil rights. But CEO has been out there giving countless interviews in mainstream media outlets, educating the public that, for instance, the Court ruling in the Shelby County case simply made one thing clear: that there is no justification for treating some states unequally and subjecting only some states to extraordinarily intrusive federal oversight, based on obsolete data.  

This does not turn the clock back; it simply recognizes that times have changed!

What’s more, the Court’s decision will put an end to much of the politically correct racial gerrymandering that was the main use—along with challenging antifraud voter ID laws—to which Section 5 was put. 

As we predicted, liberals will try to undo the Shelby County voting rights decision by seeking to pass new legislation that would, for example, perpetuate politically correct racial gerrymandering. But CEO is working to blow the whistle and educate congressional staff on this issue:  In fact, we started that process even before the decision came down. 

As for racial preferences in university admissions, the Fisher case can be a useful tool--but only if the opponents of racial preferences use it. CEO will do just that, by systematically contacting schools all over the country and using freedom-of-information laws to make sure they are following the rules that the Court’s Fisher opinion has set out.

Again, we couldn’t get this message out there without your donations. And we need your support now more than ever. CEO is not resting on its laurels.

All that I’ve discussed so far is just what the Center for Equal Opportunity has been doing in the courts. But there is much, much more that we do.  We testify before Congress and the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights on issues like whether felons should automatically have voting rights restored (no), whether there should be a commission set up to lay the groundwork for African-American reparations (no again), whether there should be federal legislation on racial profiling (also no), whether Native Hawaiians should be declared an “Indian tribe” so that they can be eligible for preferential treatment (you guessed it:  no), and on many other bills.  

We have pointed out that Obama administration legislation like the Dodd-Frank bill and Obamacare contained, in addition to their other problems, unconstitutional racial preference provisions, and we have worked with Congress to get rid of federal contracting preferences based on race.  Every day, we check the Federal Register for what the Obama administration is up to in our areas, and have filed dozens of comments and written dozens of articles where we have found problems—which is just about every week. 

And all that is just at the federal level:  We keep busy at the state and local level, too. For example, we frequently weigh in against racial contracting preferences there as well. 

And, in the court of public opinion, we tirelessly write columns, blog, and speak, not only on television and radio, but on university campuses across the country.

The success we’ve recently had before the Supreme Court is nothing new for CEO. From its founding in 1995, CEO has helped to drastically change the political and legal landscape on:

  • Racial preferences in education, contracting, and employment;
  • The detrimental effects of bilingual education;
  • The rise of multiculturalism in our schools and other institutions; and
  • The importance of assimilation and the impact of immigration on our society.

But with liberals in charge of the White House and most universities, we need your support now more than ever. The Obama administration will continue to be disastrous for Americans like you and me without CEO around to challenge them on civil rights issues. That’s why your support right now is so crucial. 

But we need your help to do all this. And we need your help to continue to fight back against the politically correct race profiteers like Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson and their pals in the media.  

We understand money is tight right now for many Americans. Just like many families, CEO runs a very tight budget--and we too have taken a big hit by this economy. Unfortunately, in tough times, one of the first cutbacks families make are donations to charitable causes. 

CEO has led the nationwide fight against racial preferences -- so-called “affirmative action.” We’ve persuaded more than 200 schools to open up their minority-only scholarships to people of all colors. We’ve exposed racial preferences in admissions with hard-hitting studies at over 60 colleges and universities. And we’ve had success after success in all three branches of government. 

Will you help by sending a generous donation of $50, $100, $250, $500, or $1000 today? Any donation will be a big help at this critical time.  As always, 100% of your donation is tax-deductible to the fullest extent of the law.

I truly appreciate all you’ve done for us in the past.  I hope to hear from you again very soon.


Linda Chavez