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Fannie, Freddie Give Some Relief to Foreclosed Homeowners

December 3, 2014 Leave a comment

Fannie, Freddie Give Some Relief to Foreclosed Homeowners

Agencies Will Allow Homeowners in Foreclosure to Buy Back Properties at Market Value

Mortgage-finance giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac will allow homeowners who have been foreclosed upon to repurchase their homes at market value even if they owe more, reversing a policy that prohibited such transactions.

The change comes as Melvin Watt, the director of Fannie and Freddie’s regulator, has come under increasing pressure from some groups to use the companies to provide more relief to struggling homeowners.

“This is a targeted, but important policy change that should help reduce property vacancies and stabilize home values and neighborhoods,” said Mr. Watt, the chief of the Federal Housing Finance Agency.

Previously, someone who lost a home through foreclosure and wanted to buy it back from Fannie or Freddie needed to pay the full amount owed on the mortgage, even if the market value of the home was less. That was intended to take away the motivation for homeowners to intentionally default in order to get the balance of their mortgages reduced.

In effect, that meant Fannie and Freddie had two standards where they would be willing to sell properties they owned to a new buyer at market prices when they wouldn’t do so for the former homeowner.

“There’s no reason why you shouldn’t be willing to sell a home to these borrowers on the same terms that you’re willing to sell it to someone else,” said Laurie Goodman, center director of the Housing Finance Policy Center at the Urban Institute.

The old policy drew the ire of some politicians and nonprofit groups, which argued that it encouraged homes to stay vacant and hurt neighboring property values. In June, Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley sued Fannie and Freddie, alleging that the policy violated a Massachusetts state law that allowed market-value sales to foreclosed-upon homeowners in some circumstances. That lawsuit was dismissed in October.

On Tuesday, Ms. Coakley said the change “is encouraging news for homeowners in Massachusetts and across the country” while adding that she hoped the regulator would move further to reduce mortgage debt for some homeowners.

Elyse Cherry, chief executive of Boston Community Capital, a nonprofit group that provides financing to foreclosed-upon homeowners to buy their homes back, called the new policy “an encouraging step in the right direction. It makes sense for homeowners and it makes sense for neighborhoods.”

However, the impact of the change could be limited. It will only apply to the 121,000 homes that Fannie and Freddie have already foreclosed on and own, a provision that’s intended to curtail any incentive for borrowers in good standing to default. That narrow scope is unlikely to quiet the drumbeat for the FHFA to make bigger changes intended to help a larger number of borrowers who owe more than their homes are worth.

Foreclosed-upon borrowers will also still need to find the cash or financing to buy the old home back at market value, a tall order for those with tarnished credit histories.

“This is a ‘feel-good’ type of policy. It’s directionally helpful to a small number of homeowners that ran into trouble, but at the end of the day, I don’t look to this to have a major policy impact,” said Clifford Rossi, a finance professor at the University of Maryland.

Since Mr. Watt took office in January, many politicians and nonprofit groups have asked that he allow Fannie and Freddie to reduce the principal of mortgages for borrowers who owe more than their homes are worth, a step that he has so far avoided taking.

At a Senate Banking Committee hearing last week, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D., Mass.) criticized Mr. Watt for not allowing principal reduction. Mr. Watt at the hearing said that principal reduction was “the most difficult issue that I’ve faced as director.”

The new policy in effect reduces mortgage principal, albeit for a small number of foreclosed-upon borrowers. Some nonprofit groups said that Fannie and Freddie would be better served to reduce the borrower’s principal before a foreclosure.

“It would make more sense to do a mortgage modification with principal reduction earlier in the process and prevent foreclosure in the first place,” said Kevin Whelan, national campaign director for the Home Defenders League, a nonprofit that has advocated for widespread principal reduction.

A Fannie Mae spokesman declined to comment beyond Mr. Watt’s statement.

“Our ongoing practice has been to sell homes at current market price to minimize losses to Freddie Mac and maximize opportunities to stabilize home prices in communities while fostering homeownership opportunities,” said a Freddie Mac spokesman.

Understanding New Jersey Criminal Charges

August 20, 2013 Leave a comment

Image2013-08-05 22.54.06

WHAT IS A DISORDERLY PERSONS OFFENSE

Disorderly persons and petty disorderly persons offenses are the most common variety of non-motor vehicle charge prosecuted in Municipal Court in NJ. If you have been charged with a disorderly persons offense, the most important thing you need to know is that a record of a resulting conviction shall show on a criminal background check. It is therefore extremely important that you retain an experienced NJ defense attorney to insure that your complaint is downgraded to a Municipal Ordinance or dismissed altogether. Our defense team possesses over 60 years of experience defending almost every type of disorderly persons charge in New Jersey and even includes two former Municipal Prosecutors. Our lawyers are familiar with how these cases need to be handled, having prosecuted these cases in over 20 NJ municipalities and defended literally 1000s of disorderly and petty disorderly charges. Make sure your complaint and/or arrest does not result in your being convicted, and contact a lawyer from our firm, the Law Offices of Benjamin G. Kelsen, Esq. LLC, for a complementary initial consultation anytime.

The most frequently encountered disorderly persons offenses in Municipal Court are:
1. Simple Assault
2. Possession of Less than 50 Grams of Marijuana
3. Drug Paraphernalia
4. Harassment
5. Shoplifting
6. Disorderly Conduct
7. Resisting Arrest
8. Bad Checks
9. Lewdness
10. Obstruction of Justice

Penalties If Convicted of these Charges

The penalties under New Jersey law for individuals convicted of a Petty Disorderly Persons Offense or regular Disorderly Persons Offense include a jail sentence of up to six (6) months. The Court may also impose a monetary fine of up to $1,000. Any conviction also carries mandatory assessments of $50 for the Victims of Crime Compensation Board (VCCB), $75 for the Safe Neighborhood Services Fund, and $33 in court costs. For additional detail concerning penalties, consult our page titled Disorderly Persons Offense Fines & Penalties.

Difference Between a “Crime” and Disorderly Persons Charge. The New Jersey code refers to violations of law in terms of “crime” or “offense”. Whenever the code uses the term offense, it is referring to a disorderly person or petty disorderly person charge. By contrast, a crime is an offense that is customarily defined as a felony in other states and involves exposure to six (6) months or more in possible incarceration in jail. An individual is entitled to have allegations of a crime presented to a grand jury, hence NJ’s reference to these offenses as Indictable. An individual arrested for a Disorderly Persons offense has no right to a grand jury as these are non-indictable charges punishable by a maximum period of imprisonment of six (6) months.

Statute of Limitation for Filing Disorderly Persons Cases. The statute of limitation for prosecution of disorderly persons offenses like simple assault, harassment, bad checks or the like is one (1) year. What this means is that a complaint alleging, for example, resisting arrest, possession of less than 50 grams of marijuana or obstruction or drug paraphernalia, must be filed with the Court within a year of commission of the related offense or the complaint is barred from prosecution by virtue of it being out-of-time under the law of New Jersey.

Expungement of Disorderly Person Convictions. A person who has been convicted of a disorderly or petty disorderly persons offense may seek expungement five (5) years following conviction or completion of probation and payment of fines, whichever is later. Eligibility to have a petty or disorderly persons offense expunged is limited to individuals with no more than three (3) convictions of this nature and persons who have never been convicted of a “crime”.

Diversion Programs for these Offenses. A program referred to as Conditional Discharge allows individuals charged with Possession of Less than 50 Grams of Marijuana and Drug Paraphernalia to avoid conviction provided they meet certain requirements and successfully complete approximately one (1) year of probation. Pretrial Intervention is presently unavailable in Municipal Court as a means of diverting and/or avoiding conviction for disorderly persons offenses.

If you would like more information about disorderly persons charges, one of our attorneys would be happy to assist you. Our lawyers are always eager to assist individuals in need of our assistance and initial consultations are always free of charge. Don’t make a decision in the dark if you have been charged with a disorderly persons complaint in Bergen County, Passaic County, Monmouth County, Union County, Middlesex County, Ocean County, Hudson County, Essex County, Morris County, Mercer County or elsewhere in NJ. The assistance you need from a knowledgeable attorney is just a telephone call away at 1-800-380-5591.

What is an Indictable Criminal Charges

A category of crimes that can have a particularly significant effect on a persons life are indictable offenses. Charges of this nature require the experience of a seasoned attorney. If you were arrested on allegations of an indictable offense, the defense lawyers at our firm, the Law Offices of Jonathan Marshall, have the know how and expertise you need. Do not hesitate to contact us if you are the subject of an indictable charge in Monmouth County, Middlesex County, Ocean County, Hudson County, Morris County, Union County, Mercer County or elsewhere in NJ.

Grand Jury Presentation
When a criminal complaint alleges a First Degree, Second Degree, Third Degree or Fourth Degree crime, the offense is indictable in nature. What this means is that a defendant possesses an absolute right to have his or her charge presented to a grand jury when they have been issued a criminal complaint for this type of charge. A grand jury is a panel of 23 citizens that decides whether there is sufficient evidence for the state to prosecute an individual for a particular indictable offense.

Experienced & Aggressive Defense Attorneys

With over 13 years handling indictable charges, we have handled numerous Superior Court cases. This experience translates into a thorough understanding of the court system and law. It also affords us the wisdom to know when a case should be aggressively defended through trial or finessed in order to arrive at the absolute best outcome for our client. We handle a wide variety of crimes to which an individual may be indicted including:

1. Possession and Distribution of Controlled Dangerous Substance (“CDS”)
2. Eluding
3. Robbery
4. Aggravated Assault
5. Prescription Drug Fraud
6. Burglary
7. Credit Card Fraud
8. Firearm & Weapons Charges
9. Conspiracy
10. Penalties for Indictable Offenses

Grading of indictable charges is by “degree”, with First Degree being the most serious and Fourth Degree the least. The Fines and Jail Exposure escalate with the seriousness of the related criminal charges. A First Degree crime carries 10-20 years in prison and a fine of up to $200,000. A Second or Third Degree charge involves jail of 5-10 years and 0-5 years, and fines of $150,000 and $15,000, respectively. A Fourth Degree crime has a jail range of 0 to 18 months and a fine that can reach $10,000.

Don’t rely on guess work with your future, speak to an attorney without obligation now at 1-800-380-5591 about your Bergen County, Passaic County, Middlesex County, Monmouth County, Union County, Ocean County, Morris County, Hudson County, Essex County, Mercer County or Burlington County, case. A lawyer will address your concerns and provide you with appropriate guidance you need to avoid conviction.

 

US to honor Barak with Dept. of Defense medal

November 28, 2012 Leave a comment
November 28, 2012 Wednesday 14 Kislev 5773 21:47 IST
Print Edition

The 70-year-old Barak, a leading strategist in confronting Iran over its nuclear program who has also served as prime minister and IDF chief of staff, has been a regular visitor to the Pentagon in recent years as tensions with Tehran simmer.

US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has known the Israeli leader since US President Bill Clinton‘s administration, when Panetta was chief of staff and when Barak served in roles including foreign minister. Barak and Panetta speak regularly, with three conversations alone during the crisis in Gaza this month.

“He’s been an important partner of the US for a long time,” one US defense official told Reuters, adding he will receive the Department of Defense Medal for Distinguished Public Service.

Should Barak’s resignation prove permanent, his successor could come from the ranks of the Likud party of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, who has been seen at odds with Washington over the best way to handle Iran.

Ex-Israeli general Moshe Ya’alon, who has talked tough on Iran but is more circumspect among Netanyahu’s advisors, is a possible candidate to succeed the more moderate Barak. He is the minister of strategic affairs and is a former chief of staff of the IDF.

There has been speculation that Barak might even be replaced by the current foreign minister, Avigdor Liberman, the Likud’s more hawkish coalition partner.

“The fact is that none of us know,” said Anthony Cordesman, at the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies.

The Pentagon announced that Panetta and Barak will address a news conference at 2:30 p.m. Eastern Standard Time (1730 GMT).

False Child Molestation Claims Held To Amount To Child Abuse

November 28, 2012 Leave a comment

False Child Molestation Claims Held To Amount To Child Abuse

Charles Toutant

New Jersey Law Journal

11-27-2012

A mother subjected her daughter to abuse and neglect by making baseless reports that the child was molested by her father, the Appellate Division ruled Tuesday.

By lodging the claims, and coaching the girl to corroborate them, the mother showed a reckless disregard for her child, the court said in DYFS v. C.O., A-2387-11.

The girl’s well-being was further jeopardized by the stress of physical and psychological examinations during the sex-abuse investigations, the court added.

The girl, referred to by the pseudonym Amy, was born in November 2006 after a brief romance between her parents, referred to as Sally and Charles.

Sally resisted letting Charles spend time with Amy, but he won visitation rights shortly before her first birthday.

In April 2010, when Amy was 3, Sally took her to an emergency room and said Charles had penetrated the girl’s vagina with a vibrating device while she was visiting him.

An investigation was conducted in New York, where Charles lived. The New Jersey Division of Youth and Family Services (DYFS) remained involved because Amy is a state resident.

New York police found no evidence of sexual abuse, based on a physical examination, conflicting accounts by Amy and Sally, and interviews of guests at a party attended by Charles and Amy at the time of the alleged abuse.

DYFS and Child Protective Services (CPS) in New York also found no sexual abuse. They cited the same sources, as well as a videotape of the party showing Amy playing happily and photographs of Amy’s genital and anal areas, taken by Sally’s father before and after the visit, which did not display any injury.

DYFS and CPS also cited counselors’ concerns that Amy’s statements had been prompted by Sally.

While that investigation was under way, Sally made additional allegations of sexual abuse against Charles and insisted that Amy have a second, invasive physical exam. Again, no signs of sexual abuse were found.

DYFS contended that Sally’s continuing conduct was harmful to Amy, in violation of N.J.S.A. 9:6-8.21 to -8.73, which defines child abuse and neglect.

A judge granted DYFS’s motion to transfer residential custody of Amy to Charles on May 13, 2010, pending a fact-finding hearing. The hearing was conducted on 12 nonconsecutive days between November 2010 and July 2011.

In December 2011, Bergen County Superior Court Judge Bonnie Mizdol ruled that DYFS had sustained its burden of proof that Sally exhibited a pattern of reckless disregard that harmed Amy.

Mizdol cited the “repeated, unnecessary medical, physical and psychological examinations” and Sally’s attempts “to shape and manipulate” Amy’s behavior to further Sally’s goal to isolate Charles “from any meaningful parental relationship with his daughter.”

Sally appealed, contending that Mizdol’s factual findings were not supported and that Sally’s constitutional rights were violated by the nonconsecutive hearing dates.

Appellate Division Judges Clarkson Fisher, Carmen Alvarez and Alexander Waugh Jr. affirmed, adding that Sally had not intended to hurt Amy.

The panel cited the stress of multiple investigations, Sally’s insistence on a second physical examination and counselors’ notes that Amy had an enhanced knowledge of sexual matters for a child of her age.

In addition, the panel said Mizdol properly characterized the mother’s conduct as “abuse or neglect.”

Noting that the child-abuse statute requires such conduct to rise above the level of mere negligence, and requires conduct that is “grossly or wantonly negligent” or “reckless,” the appeals court cited Mizdol’s finding that the mother’s conduct was “reckless.”

Sally also claimed that her pursuit of a clear answer as to whether her child was sexually abused did not constitute grossly or wantonly negligent behavior.

The appeals judges noted, however, that Sally had received a clear answer from Child Protective Services and the police but would not accept it.

“The reckless disregard found by the judge stemmed not from Sally’s efforts to rule out sexual abuse, but rather from her refusal to recognize a clear answer once she had one and her continued, baseless assertions that Charles had abused Amy,” the panel added.

Sally also disputed Mizdol’s conclusion that she had coached Amy, citing a counselor who supported her view.

But the appeals court said Mizdol’s finding was appropriately supported by two other counselors and an interview of Amy by a New York child-abuse investigator and a sheriff’s officer.

The panel also rejected Sally’s claim that her rights were violated by nonconsecutive hearing dates. Although R. 5:3-6 requires a trial to run over consecutive days, the delays were caused by scheduling issues, including Sally’s work schedule and the judge’s trial calendar, the panel said.

Sally’s lawyer, James Doyle of Swenson & Doyle in Hackensack, says the ruling unfairly labels his client a child abuser because she sought further reassurance that Amy had not been abused.

DYFS did a poor job of communicating to Sally the outcome of that inquiry, says Doyle. He adds that Sally no longer suspects Charles of child abuse and still hopes to regain primary custody but the abuse and neglect finding makes that difficult.

DYFS was represented by Assistant Attorney General Andrea Silkowitz. Lee Moore, a spokesman for the Attorney General’s Office, says his agency will not comment.

 

President Obama calls Prime Minister Netanyahu and Egyptian President Morsi

November 14, 2012 Leave a comment

The White House Issued this statement:

Today, the President spoke with Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Morsi about the rocket attacks being launched from Gaza into Israel, and the escalating violence in Gaza.

The President reiterated to Prime Minister Netanyahu the United States’ support for Israel’s right to self-defense in light of the barrage of rocket attacks being launched from Gaza against Israeli civilians.  The President urged Prime Minister Netanyahu to make every effort to avoid civilian casualties.  The two agreed that Hamas needs to stop its attacks on Israel to allow the situation to de-escalate.  The two leaders agreed to stay in close touch in the coming days.  Earlier today, Vice President Biden received a briefing from Prime Minister Netanyahu on the events in Gaza.

The President also spoke with President Morsi given Egypt’s central role in preserving regional security.  In their conversation, President Obama condemned the rocket fire from Gaza into Israel and reiterated Israel’s right to self-defense.  The two leaders agreed on the importance of working to de-escalate the situation as quickly as possible and agreed to stay in close touch in the days ahead.

 

Steve Sheffey’s Pro-Israel Political Update: Israel and Monday’s Foreign Policy Debate

October 21, 2012 Leave a comment
Israel and Monday’s Foreign Policy Debate

 

This newsletter is a bit longer than usual, but the topic is critically important. If you will be watching the upcoming Monday night foreign policy debate for clues about where President Obama and Mitt Romney stand on Israel, please take the time to read this newsletter, click the links that interest you, and share this newsletter with your friends. This newsletter is packed with great information.

 

With the election only three weeks away, the Romney campaign has violated a key tenet of pro-Israel advocacy: Support for Israel is and must remain bipartisan. His arguments against President Obama are based on distortions and outright lies.

 

Romney’s claim that President Obama went on an “apology tour” is false.

 

Romney’s claim that President Obama “threw Israel under the bus” reveals an astonishing ignorance of President Obama’s record on Israel.

 

Far from resisting or opposing sanctions, President Obama has imposed the toughest sanctions ever imposed on Iran, and has rallied an unprecedented international coalition against Iran.

 

President Obama never spoke of the need to create “daylight” between the US and Israel. In fact, Israeli leaders confirm that under President Obama, the degree of military and intelligence cooperation between the US and its “closest ally in the region” (in President Obama’s words) is unprecedented.

 

Romney’s politicizing of the Libya tragedy is collapsing on itself; yesterday the LA Times reported that there is no evidence of Al Qaeda participation and theWashington Post reported that CIA documents support Susan Rice’s initial account of the attack. Romney’s attacks are also hypocritical, especially given Romney’s own statements in defense of the Bush administration after 9/11.

 

You can read the details, plus more (including a summary of the President’s record and information about a Romney campaign group that includes critics of Israel and opponents of Iran sanctions) below.

 

Friends,

 

The final debate between President Obama and Mitt Romney will be Monday, October 22. The topic is foreign policy. I might live-tweet the debate if I get ten or more new followers between now and then, so follow me @stevesheffey if you don’t already.

 

There was only one foreign policy question asked during Tuesday’s debate. Romney took advantage of the opportunity not only to get his facts wrong on Libya, but to restate his favorite catch-phrases about the President’s foreign policy. Let’s get a few things straight:

 

Using Israel as a political football is unacceptable. Dan Gelbar summed it up perfectly:

 

No less an authority than Israeli Minister of Defense Ehud Barak called President Obama’s commitment to Israel’s security “all-encompassing and unprecedented.” Israel’s Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon pronounced, “we have no better friend than President Obama.”

 

How do you reconcile these unequivocal statements of support by those most knowledgeable about Israel’s security with the television commercials Floridians are hearing this campaign season? How does Mitt Romney claim Obama has “put Israel under the bus” while former Israeli Mossad Director Efraim Halevy says Obama has shown “leadership of historic dimension?” How does the Republican Party run commercials suggesting Obama is a danger to Israel, when Israeli President Shimon Peres calls him “a great friend of Israel?”

 

In a word: Politics.

With the election just weeks away and Romney hoping to reverse his fortunes, the Republicans have begun a totally fabricated drumbeat that Obama is bad for Israel. It is an argument based in part on distortion, in part on the fact that the Internet has no truth key, and in part on fear – and yes, prejudice.

 

But these political attacks are false in every way.

 

Read all of Gelbar’s article here.  If you still have even the slightest concerns, read this excellent article by Professor Steven Spiegel that appeared in the Times of Israel on October 19. It’s a must-read.

 

Ofer Bavley, the director general of the JUF Israel Office, writes that

 

Our alliance is based on shared values: democracy, individual freedoms, respect for human rights and the rule of law. This bond is neither a Republican nor a Democrat invention. It connects our two countries in a network of common interests that transcend party politics. Both parties have placed Israel at the top of their agenda whenever they were in power, at the White House or in Congress.

 

Ofer concludes that

 

By using Israel as a wedge issue in U.S. elections, Israel loses its bipartisan place and becomes “another election topic.” By debating Israel, it ceases being a bipartisan point of consensus, it becomes a tool in a battle for votes and in the long run, as part of a political debate, Israel might lose some of the support it now enjoys with both parties. The danger is that Israel might become closely associated with one party or the other. Never mind a presidential term of four years, we can’t even afford to be in the political wilderness for one session of congress.

 

Bipartisan support for ever-strengthening American-Israeli relations is also cardinal if we wish to strengthen deterrence against our common enemies. They need to understand that no President and no party are “anti-Israel,” that all parties and all candidates stand strongly on the side of Israeli-U.S. relations as a matter of national interest.

 

No matter who Americans vote for in the coming elections, Israelis know that the U.S. and Israel will stand firmly together. Let us hope that support for Israel is kept in everyone’s heart-and out of the political debate.

 

President Obama never went on an apology tour. Politifact awarded Romney a “Pants on Fire” rating for his absurd claim that President Obama went on an apology tour. Here is what Politifact concluded:

 

Once again, Romney has accused Obama of beginning his presidency “with an apology tour.”

Our reviews of Obama’s 2009 foreign travels and speeches showed no such thing. While he criticized past U.S. actions, such as torture practices at Guantanamo, he did not offer one apology.

It’s ridiculous to call Obama’s foreign visits and remarks “an apology tour.” We rate this statement Pants on Fire!

 

The Washington Post awarded Romney four Pinocchios (the maximum) for the same claim.

 

Romney and Ryan’s claim that President Obama resisted the sanctions imposed by Congress is wrong.  Politifact rated the claim “mostly false” instead of “false” because, in its words, Ryan employed a “sliver of truth in service of a misleading impression.” Here is the reality:

 

Michael Levi of the Council on Foreign Relations, an independent, nonpartisan think-tank,  told PolitiFact earlier this year that[Obama’s pushback against Congress was] not evidence the Obama administration had a weak stance on Iran, it’s just that Obama resisted letting Congress dictate the terms.

“Flexibility is the watchword,” he said. “It’s really hard to argue that this administration hasn’t brought strong pressure to bear on Iran.”…

 

James Jeffrey, a deputy national security adviser in the Bush administration and ambassador to Iraq and Turkey under Obama, said this kind of back-and-forth between Congress and the executive branch happens all the time. Congress wants to exert unilateral pressure, and the executive needs room for diplomacy with its allies.

You could just as easily characterize what Ryan calls watering down as the Obama team “strengthening the ability to enforce” sanctions against Iran, he said.

In fact, the United States and European Union, among others, are now putting so much economic pressure on the country that “many judge that Iran might soon decide it needs a nuclear compromise to produce an easing of sanctions,” according to the Congressional Research Service’s September report.

 

In other words, it was never about President Obama’s commitment to Iran
sanctions. As Ron Kampeas wrote, it was about the executive prerogative, stupid.

 

President Obama never spoke of the need to create daylight between the US and Israel. You can search all you want, but you’ll never find President Obama saying that. What you will find are people who claim they heard from anonymous sources that the President said that in a closed-door meeting with American Jewish leaders. But read this from Nancy Ratzan, the immediate past-president of the National Council of Jewish Women, who was there:

 

For many elections we have seen various attempts to peel off the traditionally Democratic Jewish vote. The recently released video “Perilous Times” is perhaps the most insidious and misleading effort to date to use propaganda to divide the Jewish community. The video is designed to make Jewish voters feel insecure about President Obama’s commitment to Israel by distorting and misappropriating the truth about the president’s and, indeed, America’s, unwavering alliance with Israel.

 

Early in the video the narrator alleges that when President Obama met in a private meeting with Jewish leaders in June of 2009, there was “stunned silence” as the president spoke about his administration’s vision regarding the Middle East.

 

I was one of the Jewish leaders in that meeting. I remember precisely what happened; it was not as represented in this video.

 

The truth is that President Obama spent an hour with 16 Jewish leaders from a wide spectrum of the American Jewish community. We dialogued with the president about ensuring the security of Israel, plans for advancing peace in the Middle East and strategies for ending Iran’s growing nuclear capacity.

 

The president was clear, unequivocal and passionate. The president articulated that he and his administration are resolutely committed to the security and safety of Israel, to the survival of Israel as the Jewish homeland, and to the pursuit of sustainable peace in the Middle East, a peace that secures Israel.

 

I, along with many other Jewish leaders, left that meeting confident about President Obama’s commitment to Israel and promising vision for moving towards peace in the region. I left a proud American and a secure Jew.

 

President Obama has called Israel America’s “closest ally in the region.” It’s amazing that this was even questioned in the first place.  Click herefor just a few examples.

 

Romney’s politicizing of the Libya attacks are factually wrong and hypocritical. The Los Angeles Times reported yesterday that “the assault on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi last month appears to have been an opportunistic attack rather than a long-planned operation, and intelligence agencies have found no evidence that it was ordered by Al Qaeda.”

 

Also yesterday, the Washington Post reported that CIA documents supported Susan Rice’s description of the Benghazi attacks.

 

In other words, Romney’s opportunistic attempts to exploit the tragedy for political gain were, surprise, surprise, not based on facts. As John Marshall concludes after reviewing the facts, “only in the final weeks of a presidential campaign, with one candidate desperate for an America under siege Carteresque tableau to play against, would this ever remotely have been treated like a scandal or cover up. A bunch of reporters basically got played and punk’d.” Read Marshall’s article here.

 

Romney’s attacks are also hypocritical. There were 12 embassy attacks during the Bush administration, but Romney never said a word. One of the worst attacks on Americans on foreign soil, the Beirut bombing, occurred on Reagan’s watch.

 

And in 2004,”Romney was asked to address the 9/11 Commission’s finding of serious intelligence failures on the part of the US government in the run-up to the attacks. He responded that it is easy, but ultimately not particularly helpful, to blame different parts of the government for the attack.” Read the details here.

 

It’s ironic, if not hypocritical, that many of the Republicans now complaining the loudest voted to cut funds for diplomatic security.

 

Another tangible sign of the unprecedented level of military and intelligence cooperation between the US and Israel: This week, Israeli and US military forces will participate in the largest ever joint missile defense exercise of its kind.

 

Another example of the double-standard applied to President Obama.I’ve written previously about the double-standard some of our Republican friends apply to President Obama when it comes to Israel.  And as Meir Shalev wrote, if President Obama treated Israel the way Reagan did, Obama would be impeached.

 

Now we’ve found out that the Romney campaign’s recently-formed “Arab-Americans for Romney” committee includes several staunch critics of Israel and opponents of Iran sanctions:

 

“The fact that the Romney folks have an anti-Israel activist like George Salem and a guy like Grover Norquist, who has been widely criticized, including by Republican members of congress, for long standing ties to terrorists and supporters of terrorists groups, affiliated with their campaign is pretty troubling,” said one official with a Jewish organization. “If this were the Obama campaign, you can only imagine the howls of outrage that we would be hearing from Conservatives – and rightly so.”

 

Read the article here.

 

If this is “throwing Israel under the bus,” then we need a lot more buses like this:  President Obama has called for the removal of Syrian President Assad, ordered the successful assassination of Osama bin-Laden, done more than any other president to stop Iran’s illicit nuclear program, restored Israel’s qualitative military edge after years of erosion under the Bush administration, secretly sold Israel the bunker-busting bombs it requested but did not receive during the Bush administration, increased security assistance to Israel to record levels, boycotted Durban II and Durban III, took US-Israel military and intelligence cooperation to unprecedented levels, cast his only veto in the UN against a one-sided anti-Israel Security Council resolution, opposed the Goldstone Report, stood with Israel against the Gaza flotilla, and organized a successful diplomatic crusade against the unilateral declaration of a Palestinian state.

 

Want videos?  Please click here for a collection of key videos setting the record straight on President Obama’s support for Israel.

 

Want more facts? The Joint Action Committee for Political Affairs is the most-respected bipartisan pro-Israel PAC in the Chicago area, and is one of the best sources of good information in the country. Read its fact sheet here.

Want to get in the mood for Monday night’s foreign policy debate? Click here for Mitt Romney’s easy five-step approach to foreign policy.

Just for fun…your reward for getting through another newsletter.  Learn the facts about the newest dread disease, Romnesia. The video starts out good and it keeps getting better–the punchline is perfect. Click here.

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The Compelling Case For Re-Electing President Obama

October 15, 2012 Leave a comment
Compelling Case For Obama

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/steve-sheffey

By Steve Sheffey

 

Israel should not be an issue in this election–President Obama and Romney both support Israel.  All administrations have ups and downs, but there have been fewer downs in this administration than in previous administrations, and many unprecedented successes.

 

Paul Ryan was wrong about President Obama’s meeting with Prime Minister Netanyahu and he was wrong about Iran sanctions.

 

President Obama is the clear choice on the economic and social issues that most of us care about. As the St. Louis Post Dispatch observed in its must-read endorsement of President Obama, “If more Americans were paying attention, this election would not be close. Barack Obama would win going away, at least 53 to 47, perhaps even 99 to 1.”

 

Friends,

 

The Romney campaign is based on, as Joe Biden delicately put it, “malarkey.” Paul Ryan said at the debate that President Obama was in New York the same day as Prime Minister Netanyahu but went on a TV show instead of meeting him. The truth, according to Politfact, is that “the two leaders were not there on the same day: Obama was there Monday and Tuesday, and Netanyahu was there later in the week, on Thursday and Friday.” Ryan out and out lied. That’s the only way Romney-Ryan can win this election. Ryan also misrepresented President Obama’s position on Iran sanctions; more on that below. And by the way–Joe Biden was right to laugh, because the Romney-Ryan tax plan is an insulting joke on the American people.

 

For most of us, Israel is our threshold test. We won’t even consider voting for someone unless we are confident that he or she supports Israel. The good news is that both President Obama and Governor Romney support Israel. The bad news is that the Republican path to victory depends on denying that basic fact. So the first part of  today’s newsletter sets the record straight on Israel.

 

The Facts on Israel

 

The rest of this section is from my October 11, 2012 Times of Israel article, “Playing Politics With Israel.” I urge you to read it on-line because the links are there and because, well, it looks better on-line. Please click here.

 

Israel should not be an issue in the November election.  No one argues that President Obama’s record on Israel is perfect. But our legitimate concerns about Israel are being manipulated for partisan gain by those who attack Obama for policies that are no different from previous administrations.

 

The United States has never officially recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. That’s why the US embassy is not in Jerusalem. The Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995 requires that the US embassy be moved to Jerusalem unless the President signs a waiver every six months preventing the move. Bill Clinton signed the waiver every six months. George W. Bush signed the waiver every six months. Barack Obama signed the waiver every six months. And unless the parties to the conflict reach an agreement on Jerusalem, the next president will continue to sign the waiver every six months. We’ve seen videos of State Department officials refusing to say that Jerusalem is Israel’s capital. But we’ve never seen videos of State Department officials from prior administrations saying that Jerusalem is Israel’s capital. It’s been this way for over 60 years, and it will continue this way no matter who wins in November.

 

The United States has always objected to settlements. Settlements are not the root cause of the conflict. There were no settlements when the Arabs attacked Israel in 1948, nor were there any settlements prior to the Six Day War. The root cause of the conflict is Arab refusal to accept and recognize the permanent reality of a Jewish state of Israel. But every American administration since the Six Day War has opposed settlements because the more settlements there are, the more difficult it becomes to draw reasonable borders for a Palestinian state. The Bush administration publicly objected to construction even in Jerusalem, and George W. Bush publicly expressed frustration with Israel’s Prime Minister. The Bush roadmap for peace explicitly forbids “natural growth” of settlements. It’s not a new issue.

 

Even President Obama’s statement that “we believe the borders of Israel and Palestine should be based on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps, so that secure and recognized borders are established for both states” was simply a restatement of George W. Bush’s declaration that any peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians “will require mutually agreed adjustments to the armistice lines of 1949 to reflect current realities and to ensure that the Palestinian state is viable and contiguous.”

 

The policies of this administration toward Israel that some question are continuations of American policy that will persist no matter who is president. But this is what sets the Obama administration apart from previous administrations: President Obama has called for the removal of Syrian President Assad, ordered the successful assassination of Osama bin-Laden, done more than any other president to stop Iran’s illicit nuclear program, restored Israel’s qualitative military edge after years of erosion under the Bush administration, secretly sold Israel the bunker-busting bombs it requested but did not receive during the Bush administration, increased security assistance to Israel to record levels, boycotted Durban II and Durban III, took US-Israel military and intelligence cooperation to unprecedented levels, cast his only veto in the UN against a one-sided anti-Israel Security Council resolution, opposed the Goldstone Report, stood with Israel against the Gaza flotilla, and organized a successful diplomatic crusade against the unilateral declaration of a Palestinian state.

 

Contrary to Paul Ryan’s claim during the vice-presidential debate, President Obama did not oppose Iran sanctions-the issue was executive prerogative, and the provisions President Obama requested actually gave the President more flexibility to impose tougher sanctions.

 

Yet we’ve all seen the videos–some of which feature attractive young people who claim to have voted for Obama in 2008 and are now shocked, SHOCKED that his election did not usher in an era of world peace and universal love and that the US and Israel disagree on certain issues.

 

The reality is that US policy toward Israel has remained remarkably consistent over the past 60 years. There have been ups and downs throughout the history of US-Israel relations, but there have been many fewer downs during this administration than in previous administrations. We don’t know what Romney will do if elected. While there are legitimate questions about his foreign policy expertise, chances are that a Romney administration would resemble a Bush administration on Israel, for better or for worse.

 

Israel is an election issue because Republicans need it to be an election issue: It’s their only hope for winning Jewish votes. The problem for Republicans is that while they are generally supportive of Israel, the Democrats are too. There are real differences between the parties and the candidates, but Israel is not one of them. Where the parties do differ, the Democratic party is much better on the social and economic issues that most Jews care about.

 

The Republicans have a choice: Admit that both parties support Israel and concede the Jewish vote on social and economic issues, or use Israel as a partisan wedge issue by denying the Democratic party’s strong record of support for Israel (you can read my reaction to the Democrats who booed Jerusalem here). Unfortunately for America and Israel, the Republicans have chosen to ignore Michael Oren’s warningabout turning Israel into a partisan issue.  Fortunately for America and Israel, the vast majority of Jews are smart enough to see through these divisive Republican tactics and will vote to re-elect President Obama.

 

The Facts on Social and Economic Issues

 

On October 7, the St. Louis Post Dispatch endorsed President Obama. If you click on only one link in today’s newsletter, click on this one.  You should really read all of it, but at least read this:

 

Mr. Obama sees an America where the common good is as important as the individual good. That is the vision on which the nation was founded. It is the vision that has seen America through its darkest days and illuminated its best days. It is the vision that underlies the president’s greatest achievement, the Affordable Care Act. Twenty years from now, it will be hard to find anyone who remembers being opposed to Obamacare.

 

He continues to steer the nation through the most perilous economic challenges since the Great Depression. Those who complain that unemployment remains high, or that economic growth is too slow, either do not understand the scope of the catastrophe imposed upon the nation by Wall Street and its enablers, or they are lying about it.

 

To expect Barack Obama to have repaired, in four years, what took 30 years to undermine, is simply absurd. He might have gotten further had he not been saddled with an opposition party, funded by plutocrats, that sneers at the word compromise. But even if Mr. Obama had had Franklin Roosevelt’s majorities, the economy would still be in peril.

 

Extraordinary, perhaps existential, economic challenges lie just beyond Election Day. The nation’s $16 trillion debt must be addressed, but in ways that do not endanger the sick and elderly, or further erode the middle class or drive the poor deeper into penury.

 

The social Darwinist solutions put forward by Republican Mitt Romney and his running mate, Rep. Paul Ryan, are not worthy of this nation’s history, except that part of it known as the Gilded Age.

 

The Dispatch says this about Mitt Romney:

 

Mr. Romney apparently will say anything that will help him win an election. As a president, he might well govern as a pragmatic chief executive, or he might sell himself to the plutocrats and the crazies who have taken over his party. He is asking Americans to take a lot on faith – there’s nothing to see in his tax returns; he can cut taxes and whack away debt while trimming deductions he will not specify.

 

Mr. Romney’s business career is the only way to judge his foundational beliefs: He did not run a company that built things and created jobs and strong communities. He became fabulously wealthy by loading up companies with tax-deductible debt, taking millions out up front along with big management fees. Some companies were saved. Others went bankrupt. Mr. Romney’s firm always got out before the bills came due, either in lost jobs, bankruptcies or both.

 

If the nation’s most pressing issue is debt, why elect a president whose entire business career was based on loading up companies with debt?

In picking Mr. Ryan as his running mate, Mr. Romney signaled that he’s ready to perpetuate that model in public office. The middle class hasn’t had a raise in 20 years. Income inequality has reached record heights. Mr. Romney is the very embodiment of what’s gone wrong with the economy: Too many people at the top create vast wealth that they do not share, either by creating jobs or by paying fair tax rates.

 

If more Americans were paying attention, this election would not be close. Barack Obama would win going away, at least 53 to 47, perhaps even 99 to 1.

 

But the atmosphere has been polluted by lies, distortion, voter suppression and spending by desperate plutocrats who see the nation’s changing demographicsand fear that their time is almost up. They’ve had the help of a partisan Supreme Court.

 

The question for voters is actually very simple. The nation has wrestled with it since its founding: Will this be government for the many or the few?

 

Choose the many. Choose Barack Obama.

 

Read the entire editorial here.

 

Just for fun…your reward for getting through another newsletter. Bill Clinton’s take on the first Obama-Romney debate. Click here.

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