The Front Page Cover
~ Featuring ~
Iran’s Next Supreme Leader
by Sanam Vakil and Hossein Rassam
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 Income Redistribution Day 
Income Redistribution Day has arrived. It's a day reminding all Americans that too much of our hard-earned money is collected by a behemoth government known for fiscal carelessness and irresponsibility. Just take a look at the ever-ballooning national debt. And yet here we are again, feeding the beast whose appetite seemingly knows no limit.
          It is indeed ironic that one of the biggest sparks igniting the fires of the American Revolution was the contentious subject of taxation. While most celebrate the spirit of those Bostonians who famously protested the British crown's Tea Act of 1773, many Americans today seem content to merely utter a few grumbles over our tax burden. And this is done while also wondering if everyone else has paid their "fair share" rather than challenging the government's plunder for the express purpose of wealth redistribution.
          In fact, the question of taxes has historically been one of the largest distinctions between the two major political parties. Democrats always demand more, believing that the government is entitled to as much money as it can get — in fact, they treat Americans' income as government's money in the first place, with any tax cuts being something they simply can't afford. On the other hand, Republicans continuously work to varying degrees of tax reductions. And with the election of Donald Trump, the fundamental party distinction has held true. Trump has called for tax cuts across the board, particularly lowering the world's highest corporate tax rate. Unfortunately, the House Republicans' fumble on repealing and replacing liar-nObamaCare has hindered Trump's tax reform effort.
          Taxes are not merely a means of paying for the government's many obligations and programs, they are a means of control. Leftists view taxes as a sort of punishment on the wealthy and successful for the crime of being wealthy and successful. The Left's goal is not equal opportunity but equal outcome. Those who excel are deemed to have excelled by exploiting others, and therefore they should suffer by being forced to "contribute" more to all the government does to make things right. What an utterly distorted view.
          In reality, we need a simple tax system that fairly extracts taxes without showing favoritism or deference to class distinctions, and constitutional restraints on the spending of that revenue. Anything less only creates opportunity for those in government to exploit various socio-economic groups for their own aims. 
~The Patriot Post
.
.
Push to rebuild Jerusalem Temple
has earth-shaking implications
{wnd.com} ~ There is probably not a more disputed parcel of real estate than the Temple Mount in Jerusalem... A portion of the land there is occupied by an Islamic mosque, yet there are developing plans to rebuild the prophesied third Jewish Temple. That leaves the government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in a political situation that offers no easy way out. One American pastor now is telling Christians they need to pay careful attention to what happens next...  http://www.wnd.com/2017/04/push-to-rebuild-jerusalem-temple-has-ear...
.
Something Must Be Done About Violent
Left-Wing Groups

 
by fixthisnation.com
{fixthisnation.com} ~ Dozens of people were
arrested in Berkeley, California this weekend after pro-Trump and anti-Trump protesters clashed in the city’s MLK Civic Center Park... Approximately 200 people converged on the park Saturday, and competing chants quickly gave way to various forms of assault as the groups threw bottles, debris, and, ultimately, punches and kicks at each other. The event was originally scheduled to be a pro-Trump “Patriots Day” featuring several conservative speakers, including Lauren Southern, a Canadian alt-right journalist. But as soon as Berkeley antifa groups like Defend the Bay heard about the scheduled rally, they began planning a counter-protest for the same park on the same day. Police tried to control the chaos with orange barriers, but those were torn down when the dueling demonstrators began trading fists. Members of the Oath Keepers and others who wanted to protect the Trump supporters were on hand, according to the Los Angeles Times:...
.
ICE Captures “Most Wanted” Illegal Alien:
Convicted Sex Offender
by Keely Sharp and Jeff Dunetz
{lidblog.com} ~ A  public tip helped officials capture Jose Victor Bonilla-Melendez, who was on ICE’s ‘Most Wanted’ list. He is a convicted sex offender, as well as his brother, who is a convicted child sex offender and has been previously deported... One question brought up by the arrest is, “Would this have happened when Barak liar-nObama was president? Based on his eight years as president–I doubt it Melendez was located after ICE received a tip about his whereabouts. The tipper saw his photo posted by the local Denver ABC Facebook page, as being one of ICE’s most wanted fugitives. This all happened Friday morning in Aurora, Colorado...  http://lidblog.com/ice-captures-wanted-illegal-alien-convicted-sex-...
.
A Month of Islam and Multiculturalism
in France and Belgium
Up to a thousand Muslims prayed on the streets of Clichy, a suburb of Paris
by Soeren Kern
{gatestoneinstitute.org} ~ In a landmark trial at the Paris Children's Court, a 17-year-old Turkish jihadist, identifiedonly as Yussuf K., was sentenced to seven years in prison for attacking Benjamin Amsellem, a Jewish teacher in Marseille, with a machete... Yussuf K. said he carried out the January 2016 attack "in the name of Allah and the Islamic State." He added that he chose his victim because "he was Jewish." Yussuf K. was charged with "an individual terrorist attempt and attempted assassination in connection with a terrorist enterprise," with the aggravating circumstance of anti-Semitism. He was tried as a minor because he was 15 when he carried out the attack. The criminal trial of a minor on terror charges was the first of its kind in France, where some fifty children are currently being investigated for jihadist offenses. The European Parliament voted to lift the immunity from prosecution for National Front leader Marine Le Pen for tweeting images of Islamic State violence. Under French law, publishing violent images can be punished by up to three years in prison and a fine of €75,000 euros ($79,000)...
.
If 'Terror Knows No Religion' Where Is All
The Christian/Jewish Terrorism?
by Benny Huang
{frontpagemag.com} ~ Two horrific suicide bombings, in two different cities, two hours apart—this is how Egyptian Christians began Holy Week... In the cities of Tawra and Alexandria, Muslim terrorists stormed Coptic churches where they proceeded to blow themselves to a fine pink mist while taking 44 worshippers with them. These two attacks followed last December’s horrific suicide bombing at St. Peter’s Cathedral in Cairo that killed 29. Does Egypt have a problem with Islamic violence? Not according to Egypt’s most prominent clergyman, Dr. Ahmed al-Tayeb, who holds the prestigious title of Grand Imam of al-Azhar. At a conference in Cairo last month, al-Tayeb said that the incidence of Muslim violence around the world is rather unremarkable: “There is an obvious double standard in the world’s judgment of Islam on the one hand, and its judgment of Christianity and Judaism on the other, despite the fact that all are guilty of one and the same thing, that is, religious violence and terrorism.”...al-Tayeb needs to get his head out of his rear. http://www.frontpagemag.com/fpm/266436/if-terror-knows-no-religion-...
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Iran’s Next Supreme Leader
 
by Sanam Vakil and Hossein Rassam
{
foreignaffairs.com} ~ On July 17, 2016, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran’s supreme leader, turned 77. Rumors that he suffers from cancer have circulated for over a decade, and in 2014, the state-run news agency published photos of him recovering from prostate surgery. Although Khamenei’s prognosis remains closely guarded, the Iranian government is evidently treating his succession with urgency. In December 2015, Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, a former president and a kingmaker, broached the usually taboo subject when he publicly admitted that a council within the Assembly of Experts, the body that selects the supreme leader, was already vetting potential successors. And last March, after new members of the assembly were elected to an eight-year term, Khamenei himself called the probability that they would have to select his replacement “not low.”

The death of Khamenei will mark the biggest political change in the Islamic Republic since the death of the last supreme leader—Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the revolutionary founding father—in 1989. The supreme leader is the most powerful person in Iran, with absolute authority over all parts of the state. A new person in that position could dramatically alter the direction and tenor of Iran’s foreign and domestic policies.

But those hoping for a kinder, gentler Iran are likely to be disappointed. Since he took power in 1989, Khamenei has steadily built an intricate security, intelligence, and economic superstructure composed of underlings who are fiercely loyal to him and his definition of the Islamic Republic, a network that can be called Iran’s “deep state.” When Khamenei dies, the deep state will ensure that whoever replaces him shares its hard-line views and is committed to protecting its interests.

PAST IS PROLOGUE

When Khomeini died, observers considered Khamenei just one of a handful of possible replacements—and not even the likeliest. A 50-year-old midranking cleric at the time, Khamenei lacked Khomeini’s towering stature. But at a meeting on June 4, 1989, the day after Khomeini’s death, Rafsanjani, a close confidant of Khomeini, told the assembly that Khomeini had considered Khamenei qualified for the job. The group elected Khamenei by a vote of 60 to 14.

Khamenei pledged to maintain stability as supreme leader, saying in a speech the year he took over, “I assure you, Iran continues on the path of the Islamic Revolution and has not diverged from its principles.” In fact, however, he immediately began ushering in dramatic changes to Iran’s political system. Given Khamenei’s middling clerical rank—he was only an ayatollah and not a grand ayatollah, or marja—his election technically violated the Iranian constitution. So the political establishment quickly put to a referendum a series of constitutional revisions that Khomeini had already approved in an effort to reduce factional tensions after his death. Not only did these downgrade the required clerical qualifications for supreme leader; they also increased the position’s authority.

The changes eliminated the possibility of a three- or five-person leadership council should the Assembly of Experts fail to elect a supreme leader. The word “absolute” was added before a description of the supreme leader’s authority in the article specifying the separation of powers, thereby maximizing his control over Iran’s executive, legislative, and judicial branches. Another article was rewritten to give the supreme leader extensive new powers, including the authority to resolve “issues in the system that cannot be settled by ordinary means” through a new constitutional body called the Expediency Council. These modifications put an unprecedented amount of power in the hands of the new supreme leader. And in the ensuing years, Khamenei proved determined to use it.

THE RISE OF THE DEEP STATE

Under Khomeini, the Islamic Republic had been divided. On the left were those who sought to preserve state control over the economy and impose moderate cultural policies. On the right were those who frowned at government intervention in the economy but favored a sharia-inspired domestic policy. Khomeini had held the system together at the top with the backing of the clerical establishment—the original power brokers behind the revolution—while giving each side influence. A shared sense of struggle during the Iran-Iraq War, along with Khomeini’s enormous personal influence and charisma, kept these tensions from breaking into the open during his reign. But beneath the surface, the divisions ran deep.

With the war over and Khomeini gone, factional infighting entered a new stage, and Khamenei began to gradually consolidate his power. During Rafsanjani’s first term as president, from 1989 to 1993, the two men coexisted peacefully, with Khamenei cautiously supporting Rafsanjani’s postwar plans for economic liberalization and regional integration and tolerating his efforts to promote cultural liberalization. But opposition to Rafsanjani’s liberal agenda began to mount among his hard-line allies, who in 1992 won a majority in parliament. Two years later, Khamenei openly sided against Rafsanjani over the budget, criticizing him for the country’s growing economic malaise and widespread corruption. Rafsanjani backtracked from his cultural liberalization agenda and appeased conservatives by offering them more seats in his cabinet and greater access to economic privileges. Competition between Khamenei and Rafsanjani would continue up until the latter’s death, earlier this year, with Khamenei repeatedly emerging on top.

Khamenei’s next problem was gaining authority within the religious establishment. Khamenei had enjoyed its near-unanimous backing when he became supreme leader, and in 1994, the Society of Qom Seminary Teachers, an important clerical and political institution, proclaimed Khamenei a marja. Still, a number of clerics strongly questioned Khamenei’s theological credentials. To counter his perceived weakness, Khamenei embarked on a decadelong journey to build religious support. He imposed a state-controlled bureaucracy on top of the clerical structure of Qom that stripped the ayatollahs of their once cherished financial independence and put them under his implicit control. And he rewarded his supporters with political positions and financial privileges that he denied to his critics. In the process, Khamenei managed to subjugate the Assembly of Experts, the one and only body with the constitutional authority to supervise him.

Over the years, Khamenei has also steadily diminished the role of Iran’s elected government, concentrating power in his own office and in state entities that fall outside government oversight. In 2011, he established a body charged with resolving conflicts among various branches of government and appointed its chair. He also created the Strategic Council on Foreign Relations, his personal advisory board on foreign policy, and set up a parallel intelligence apparatus that has grown more powerful than the elected government’s. Whereas Khomeini relied on a small coterie of officials to run his office, Khamenei has placed thousands of his direct and indirect representatives in government ministries, universities, the armed forces, and religious institutions throughout the country, all of whom report to him or his office.

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