May 01, 2009
[Bulletin] Editor’s note: This column is the basis for a speech Herb Denenberg will deliver to the Tredyffrin Township (Chester County) Republican Committee at its Derby Day event this Saturday.
The greatest country in history has a president who seems to hate America and has joined the blame-America-first club and the bash-and-trash-America club. He even pours out his endless criticism of America while on an international tour.
This greatest democracy, unique in history, with a governmental system based on the Judeo-Christian foundation, now has a president who bows and scrapes to the Muslim king of Saudi Arabia.
After bowing and scraping before that king, the Barack Obama administration denies that ever happened. He was just shaking hands, they say. So we are told, “don’t believe your lying eyes, and recall his handshakes during the campaign. Wasn’t he bowing then, too?” This is the biggest Obama lie since he claimed he doesn’t know what the racist and America hating bigot, Rev. Jeremiah “God Damn America” Wright was saying for 20 years … when Mr. Obama sat there in the pews of Rev. Wright’s church.
At the very time he denounces earmarks and pork and calls for their end, he signs a bill with 9,000 earmarks in it. His phoniness and hypocrisy knows no end.
The president releases what he calls the torture memos but edits out the sections of those memos documenting how enhanced interrogation produced important life-saving intelligence on terrorists. As an old consumer reporter, I’d call that consumer fraud.
We’re in the middle of a war against terror, and those in charge are afraid to use the word “terror,” transforming it to “overseas contingency operations.”
The flag, that sacred icon of the greatness of America, was viewed by this man as a symbol of false patriotism when worn as a lapel pin. He only added the flag to his lapel when he encountered flak during the campaign.
This president is the first black man ever elected president, but what does he do to assure a colorblind society? He plays the race card during the campaign, claiming his opponents will call attention to the fact that he doesn’t look like other presidents and is a black man. That, of course, was as sleazy a campaign move as he could make as his opponents and the Republican Party avoided any trace of racist campaigning. This supreme phony objects to the race card by playing it more than once.
This is a president whose main legislative achievement in the state senate of Illinois is leading the fight for legislation that would continue to legalize infanticide. He is the most radical pro-choice politician in high office, who thinks the main purpose of the Constitution is to assure the availability of abortions without any restrictions or limitations whatsoever. He now claims he’s doing exactly when he said he would do in the campaign. In fact, he’s doing the opposite. He said he would be a save-and-invest president, when he is in fact a borrow-and-spend president. This save-and-invest president is spending a billion dollars an hour. He said he would be the great nonpartisan, but is proving to be hyper-partisan in practice, virtually freezing the Republicans out of the legislative process. To say the least, at a time when we need the greatest leadership in our history, we have a president who has done the impossible — he makes Jimmy Carter look good by comparison. But to put this all into perspective, we need a little background on those who would criticize a president.
We have to be careful, or we’re going to let political correctness kill us. We better understand that you have to tell the truth, as you see it, about the world as you see it, and act accordingly. If you don’t, you escape into a fictional world, you detach yourself from reality, and you react and behave on the basis of a kind of fiction instead of fact.
When you call the war on terror an “overseas contingency operation,” you’re not only escaping reality, but in my view you’re showing signs of mental disease. When a terrorist attack becomes a “man-caused disaster,” again, in my view, you are sick. I must remind you we’re not as semantically suicidal as the Brits — who call terrorism by an even more ridiculous Orwellian inversion —anti-Islamic activity.
When you can’t explain behavior in rational terms, you can sometimes only explain it in terms of mental disease. Indeed, Michael Savage, the talk show host, may well be right when he describes liberalism as a mental disorder. I’m afraid we’re living in a world gone mad, when you’re almost forced into explanations based on pathology rather than rationality.
The great English historian Paul Johnson, in a classic article in Commentary Magazine, suggested that anti-Americanism and anti-Semitism, bizarre afflictions without a rational basis, could best be explained as mental diseases.
Many hold back from such explanations, especially when they characterize the president of the greatest country in the history of the world. We all know that we’re navigating in the most dangerous times that America has ever faced, with an international enemy of a kind we’ve never fought before and with economic problems that plague us and the rest of the world. And that’s not to mention nuclear proliferation, a chance that nuclear weapons might fall into the hands of terrorists if the government of Pakistan collapses and a possible pandemic. We know we need a president with first-class leadership abilities and we know our very survival depends on his leadership and his decisions. So, in a way, it’s hard to criticize a president, especially one who is often treated as a Messiah and a Savior.
Having said that, we can’t confuse our hopes with reality and what we need with what we have. This all adds up to a situation in which people don’t want to hear what might be the truth. It is too frightening and too painful. But I think we’re still better off if we understand reality rather than some fictional scene manufactured out of political correctness.
I must confess I’ve never been a slave to political correctness. Right from the beginning of the last presidential campaign, I characterized Barack Obama as a fraud, a faker, a phony, a liar, a hypocrite, an America-basher and more. I said he was an inexperienced, unvetted, untested beginner who had never accomplished anything before, except polish his resume and write his memoirs. I should only have added he is a demagogue and a charlatan.
I said he should be disqualified on the basis of his associates alone. As I’ve said, here was a man who sat in the pews of Rev. Jeremiah “God Damn America” Wright for 20 years without one small peep of protest. He seems to have never listened … for 20 long years. Now we know he learned his own habit of America bashing and blaming America first from the master. That’s why Mr. Obama is the first president to go on a world tour apologizing for and bashing America. As columnist Charles Krauthammer has pointed out — before the world on foreign soil — he spent his time “indicting his own people for arrogance, for dismissiveness and derisiveness, for genocide, for torture, for Hiroshima, for Guantanamo and for insufficient respect for the Muslim world, while engaging in an obsessive denigration of his own country.”
Mr. Obama was a man who associated with terrorists such as William Ayers and Bernadine Dohrn, bigots and racists such as Wright and Rev. Michael Pfleger and a crook, Tony Rezko.
Perhaps the terrorist association is why he seems more concerned with the sensitivities of terrorists than the safety of Americans. Mr. Obama was the most radical, leftist, socialist who was ever a serious candidate for president of a major political party. And that certainly translates into the out-of-control spending, higher taxes, the spread-the-wealth philosophy, weak national defense and foreign policy, big government, more bureaucracy, more regulation, less freedom and individual responsibility, and an anti-free market, anti-capitalist philosophy that dominates his programs.
Electing such a candidate is a recipe for disaster, and that’s who we elected and that’s the recipe that is now being served up.
How did this happen? The mainstream media — such newspapers as the New York Times and Philadelphia Inquirer, such television networks as ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN and MSNBC, and such magazines as Time and Newsweek — committed the greatest piece of journalistic fraud and journalistic malpractice in history… by acting more like a campaign manager and cheerleader for Mr. Obama than acting as journalistic enterprises. And now, as he takes us on a path to the destruction of America as we know it and perhaps to the very destruction of America, the biased, dishonest and fraudulent mainstream media still act as press agents and cheerleaders for Mr. Obama, and certainly not as journalistic principles dictate.
I won’t bore you with the details. Perhaps if I had to point to one thing, it would be the $787 billion stimulus package. This is perhaps the most important piece of legislation of the Obama administration to date. It wasn’t written by the White House, as such important legislation usually is. It was delegated to Congress and those noted leftists, Speaker of the House Nancy “San Francisco Values” Pelosi and Sen. Harry “Wave the White Flag – This War is Lost” Reid. It was passed with more pork than that found in all the history of the Chicago stockyards, loaded with earmarks, all contrary to Obama promises. And what’s worse, it wasn’t even read by those that voted for it. This came after the Obama promise to go after all spending on a line-by-line basis. This is all too typical of Mr. Obama. His rhetoric has no connection with his reality and his record. He talked about bipartisanship, but has a highly partisan history and now demonstrates anything but bipartisanship.
He has the talking disease, mistaking his speeches for reality, his rhetoric for real accomplishments. He also has the campaign disease, acting as if he is still running when he should be governing. He is more interested in his popularity than America’s interests. He is more intent on pleasing the European socialists than preserving America’s free-enterprise system. He is consistent on one thing. He does the opposite of what makes sense. As North Korea launches an intercontinental ballistics missile and as we face the threat of missile nuclear attacks from Iran as well, Mr. Obama cuts back on missile defense. He seems to have unlimited money for pork, for earmarks and for loony left schemes, but only has the scalpel and tight budgetary control for defense spending.
He talks of energy independence, but fights offshore drilling and nuclear power. He advocates pie-in-the-sky energy alternatives and turns his back on our own resources in our own backyard. He bootlicks and appeases our enemies and slams our allies. As Dick Morris suggested, if you want good treatment from the Obama administration, become an enemy of America.
What can we do about reversing the course for America set by Mr. Obama? America is in extraordinary danger from outside forces such as the Islamofascists and from inside forces such as the mainstream media and the Obama administration. This will require a loyal opposition better organized and more effective than ever before. And a big part of that opposition has to be the Republican Party. That will require that the public be weaned off the mainstream media and get information from alternative sources as well. Otherwise, they will be propagandized into drinking the Obama Kool-Aid.
This means we have to educate the public about the bias of the mainstream media and the alternatives to it. It also means we ought to boycott the mainstream media and use other available pressures. Start by doing one thing. I’d suggest canceling the New York Times and Philadelphia Inquirer and joining the boycott of the New York Times by going to the boycott site, www.boycottnyt.org, maintained by the media watchdog Accuracy in Media.
It will not be enough for the Republicans simply to be the loyal opposition. They will have to make their case to a majority of the American people and convince them we are on a course to destruction and extinction unless the Obama and Democratic programs are defeated and the damage they’ve already inflicted is undone. We can’t respond as it is just business as usual. We have to respond as our survival is at stake, as it is. Eternal vigilance is the price of freedom, and paying that price is the greatest bargain in all of history. It’s time to pay up as never before.
Herb Denenberg is a former Pennsylvania Insurance Commissioner, Pennsylvania Public Utility Commissioner, and professor at the Wharton School. He is a longtime Philadelphia journalist and consumer advocate. He is also a member of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of the Sciences. His column appears daily in The Bulletin. You can reach him at email@example.com.
Saturday, May 02, 2009
Friday, May 01, 2009
Do You Feel Safer?
Posted by Joyce Kavitsky at 5/01/2009 10:26:00 PM
Is there a threat to Israel from the United States under Barack Obama? The question itself seems perverse. For in spite of the hostility to Israel in certain American quarters, this country has more often than not been the beleaguered Jewish state’s only friend in the face of threats coming from others. Nor has the young Obama administration been any less fervent than its last two predecessors in declaring an undying commitment to the security and survival of Israel.
Nevertheless, during the 2008 presidential campaign, friends of Israel (a category that, speculations to the contrary notwithstanding, still includes a large majority of the American Jewish community) had ample reason for anxiety over Obama. The main reason was his attitude toward Iran. After all, Iran under its current president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, was vowing almost on a daily basis to “wipe Israel off the map” and was drawing closer and closer to acquiring the nuclear weapons and the ballistic missiles that would give the ruling mullocracy the means to do so. And yet Obama seemed to think that the best way to head off the very real possibility this posed of another holocaust was by entering into talks with Iran “without preconditions.” Otherwise, except for campaign promises, his record was bereft of any definitive indication of his views on the war the Arab/Muslim world has been waging against the Jewish state from the day of its founding more than sixty years ago.
Still—lest we forget—Obama did have a history of involvement with associates whose enmity toward Israel was unmistakable. There was, most notoriously, his longtime pastor, the Reverend Jeremiah Wright. In addition to honoring the blatantly anti-Semitic Louis Farrakhan, Wright was on record as believing that Israel had joined with South Africa in developing an “ethnic bomb” designed to kill blacks and Arabs but not whites; he had accused Israel of committing “genocide” against the Palestinians; and he had participated in a campaign to get American companies to “divest” from Israel. None of this, however, nor all of it together, had elicited so much as a peep of protest from Obama, never mind provoking him into leaving Wright’s congregation. He remained a member for twenty years, during which time Wright officiated at his marriage and baptized his children.
Then there was Rashid Khalidi, holder of a professorship at Columbia named after his idol, the late Edward Said. As befitted a reverential disciple of the leading propagandist for Palestinian terrorism, and himself a defender of suicide bombing, Khalidi regularly denounced Israel as a “racist” state in the process of creating an “apartheid system.” Nevertheless, Obama had befriended him, had publicly acknowledged being influenced by him, and, as a member of the board of a charitable foundation, had also helped to support him financially. And there was also one of Obama’s chief advisers on national security and the co-chairman of his campaign, General Merrill McPeak, who subscribed to the canard that American policy in the Middle East was dictated by Jews in the interests not of the United States but of Israel. Others said to be advising Obama included a number who were no more notable than McPeak for their friendliness toward Israel: Zbigniew Brzezinski, Robert Malley, Susan Rice, and Samantha Power.
True, as the campaign proceeded, Obama either distanced himself from or repudiated the ideas of such associates. Yet he only got around to doing so when the political exigencies of his candidacy left him no prudential alternative.
Not surprisingly, a fair number of Jews who had never voted for a Republican in their lives were disturbed enough to tell pollsters that they had serious doubts about supporting Obama. Faced with this horrific prospect, Obama’s Jewish backers mounted a vigorous effort of reassurance. No fewer than three hundred rabbis issued a statement declaring that his “deep and abiding spiritual faith” derived from “the teachings of the Hebrew Prophets.” Several well-known champions of Israel also wrote articles explaining on rather convoluted grounds why they were backing Obama. There was, for example, Alan Dershowitz of the Harvard Law School: “The election of Barack Obama—a liberal supporter of Israel—will enhance Israel’s position among wavering liberals.” And Martin Peretz of The New Republic: “Israel’s conflict with the Arabs . . . is mostly about history, and Obama is a student of history.” And Martin Indyk of the Brookings Institution: “I believe Obama passes the kishke [gut] test.”
The small community of politically conservative Jews did what it could to counter this campaign, but to no avail. In the event, Obama received 78 percent of the Jewish vote. This was a staggering 35 points higher than the pro-Obama white vote in general (43 percent), and it was even 11 points higher than the Hispanic vote (67 percent). Only with blacks, who gave him 95 percent of their vote, did Obama do better than with Jews. The results were just as dramatic when broken down by religion as by race and ethnicity: Protestants gave 45 percent of their vote to Obama (33 points less than Jews), and Catholics gave him 54 percent (24 points less than Jews).
But if the forecasts of a Jewish defection from Obama were all wrong, the prediction of his Jewish opponents that he would be less friendly toward Israel than George W. Bush has turned out to be more accurate than any “kishke test.” Bush’s friendliness manifested itself in various ways. One of the most important was his backing for the measures Israel had been taking to defend itself against suicide bombing—the building of a wall and the institution of checkpoints that would make it harder for suicide bombers to get through from the West Bank and into Israel proper. These measures were denounced almost everywhere as oppressive in themselves and as a species of apartheid, while the accompanying assassinations of the leaders who recruited, trained, and supplied the suicide bombers were routinely condemned as acts of murder. But Bush—that is, the Bush who emerged after 9/11—would have none of this. So far as he was concerned, suicide bombing was a form of terrorism and therefore evil by definition. Israel had an absolute right to defend itself against this great evil, and in fighting it, the Israelis were struggling against the same enemy that had declared war on us on 9/11.
A similar logic guided Bush’s view of the Israeli incursion into Lebanon in 2006 and of its attack on Gaza in 2008. Since, contrary to the confident assurances of their opponents, the wall, the checkpoints, and the targeted assassinations had all but eliminated suicide bombing, the terrorists were now resorting to a different tactic. From its redoubt in Lebanon, Hizballah rained rockets into the north of Israel, and from its base in Gaza, Hamas fired them into the south. In each of these cases, when the Israelis finally responded, they were furiously accused by most of the world of using “disproportionate” force that allegedly resulted in the wholesale “slaughter” of innocent civilians. But Bush would have none of these egregious defamations either. Both in 2006 and 2008, he again affirmed Israel’s right to defend itself against terrorist assault, and he worked to fend off efforts by the UN to stop the Israelis before they could finish the job they had set out to do.
To be sure, Barack Obama (while still President-elect) said about the then impending Israeli incursion into Gaza, that
If somebody was sending rockets into my house where my two daughters sleep at night, I would do everything in my power to stop that and I would expect Israelis to do the same thing.
This sounded very much like Bush. But whereas an altogether new conception of how to make peace between Israel and the Palestinians undergirded Bush’s support for the tactics Israel had been using to defend itself against terrorist attack, there was nothing in Obama’s record or in his past statements or in his history to suggest that he shared, or even was aware of, this conception.
George W. Bush was the first American President to come out openly in favor of a Palestinian state. But he also decided to attach a codicil that was even more novel. “Today,” he declared on June 24, 2002,
Palestinian authorities are encouraging, not opposing, terrorism. This is unacceptable. And the United States will not support the establishment of a Palestinian state until its leaders engage in a sustained fight against the terrorists and dismantle their infrastructure.
To this he added the requirement that they elect “new leaders, not compromised by terror,” which amounted to an implicit demand that Yasser Arafat be replaced.
Of course, Bush also challenged Israel “to take concrete steps to support the emergence of a viable, credible Palestinian state.” Yet he most emphatically did not follow the usual practice of blaming Israel for the persistence of the war against it. Instead, in an entirely unprecedented move, he placed the onus on the Palestinian leaders and the Arab states backing them up. By saying up front that “there is simply no way to achieve . . . peace until all parties fight terror,” he was blaming the absence of peace on the Arab states and the “Palestinian authorities” (who were “encouraging, not opposing, terrorism”), and he was exonerating the Israelis (who were being “victimized by terrorists,” not supporting them).
Nor was this all. Two years later, in an addendum to his codicil, Bush said that “as part of a final peace settlement, Israel must have secure and recognized borders,” and that these must include “already existing major Israeli population centers.” To put it plainly, the United States rejected the almost universally accepted idea that a precondition for the establishment of a Palestinian state was the forcible removal of every last Jew from the West Bank. In all other contexts, this is known as ethnic cleansing and regarded as a great crime. But in this context alone, and by a process of reasoning that has always escaped me, it has been magically transmuted into the exercise of a sacred human right. Not, however, to Bush.
Now, on a number of issues—most notably Iraq—Obama as President has surprised many people by in effect signing on to Bush’s policies (while claiming to be reversing them). Yet even though he will certainly follow Bush in pushing for the establishment of a Palestinian state, it would be nothing less than astounding if he were also to accept the conditions prescribed by the Bush codicil and its addendum. For neither Obama himself nor those of his appointees who will be involved in the “peace process”—his Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton; his special envoy to the Middle East, George Mitchell; his national security adviser, Gen. James Jones; and his Ambassador to the UN, Susan Rice, although she made the right noises at her confirmation hearing—have ever so much as suggested that it is the Palestinians and not the Israelis who are blocking the way to the holy grail of a two-state solution. On the contrary, Obama and his team are all great worshipers at the shrine of “even-handedness,” which has long served as a deceptive euphemism for pressuring Israel to make unilateral concessions to Palestinian demands.
No wonder, then, that the Obama administration is already reverting to the old pre-Bush assumptions that have repeatedly been discredited in practice: that Israeli “intransigence” is the main obstacle to ending the conflict with the Palestinians; that “restarting” the “peace process” therefore requires putting the onus back on Israel; and that this in turn necessitates forcing Israel back to the 1967 borders. In other words, Jerusalem must be redivided and the major centers of Jewish population in the West Bank that Bush had promised would remain part of Israel must also be evacuated and the West Bank as a whole be made Judenrein.
Indeed, during Hillary Clinton’s first trip as Secretary of State to Israel, she went evenhandedly out of her way to castigate the Israelis over the issue of Arab housing in Jerusalem while making a great show of the $900 million the U.S. has pledged to Gaza.
It is too early to tell whether the return to this approach will go so far as to substantiate the fear expressed by the former UN ambassador John R. Bolton, who foresees “pressure on Israel to acknowledge the legitimacy of [Hamas and Hezbollah], and to negotiate with them as equals (albeit perhaps under some artful camouflage).” But it is not too early to tell that nothing will come of a reversion to the pre-Bush assumptions. Nothing will come of it with the Israelis because they—even most of the doves among them—have learned that withdrawing from previously occupied territories means the creation of bases from which terrorists will rain rockets on Israeli towns. Thus, when in 2000 they withdrew from the security zone they had established in southern Lebanon, Hizballah moved in, and then their withdrawal from Gaza in 2005 resulted in a takeover by Hamas—eventuating in both cases not in peace or even improved prospects for peace but in war and more war. Furthermore, the withdrawal from Gaza, entailing as it did the dragging of some 8,000 Jews out of their homes, was so painful a national trauma that doing the same to more than thirty times that many Jews living in the West Bank has become unthinkable.
Nor will anything come of the old approach with the Palestinians. The writ, such as it is, of Mahmoud Abbas as president of the Palestinian Authority extends only to the West Bank, not to Gaza, so that even if he were to reach an agreement with Israel, he lacks the power to deliver on it.
But a deeper reason may be at work here as well. When people quote Abba Eban’s famous quip that the Palestinians never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity, the opportunity they have in mind is the achievement of statehood. And it is true that on at least three occasions when they could have had peace and a state of their own for the asking—in 1947, under the UN partition plan; in 2000, under the extremely generous terms proposed jointly by Israel under Ehud Barak and the United States under Bill Clinton; and in 2005, after the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza—the Palestinians rejected statehood and chose war instead.
May it not be, then, that they failed to seize these “opportunities” because they have never really wanted a state of their own?
Giora Eiland, a retired general and the former head of Israel’s National Security Council, argues that this is indeed the case. He writes:
The Palestinian ethos is based on values such as justice, victimization, revenge, and above all, the “right of return.” . . . It’s true that the Palestinians want to do away with the occupation, but it’s wrong to assume that this translates into a desire for an independent state. They would prefer the solution of “no state at all”—that is, the State of Israel will cease to exist and the area between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River will be divided among Jordan, Syria, and Egypt.
Adding to the plausibility of this theory is the most recent polling data showing that a large majority of Palestinians would reject the two-state solution even after “the settlement of all issues in dispute,” and would be unwilling to accept a state of their own even with its capital in East Jerusalem and an unlimited “right of return.”
But whether or not Eiland is right—and I for one think that he is, at least about the “no-state” solution—the futility under current conditions of negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians is so obvious that even devout American “peace processers” like Aaron David Miller and Martin Indyk acknowledge it. Hence (along with certain high-placed Israelis) they now advocate shifting to the “Syrian track.” But nothing will come of this either. Even under the delusion that, in exchange for the Golan Heights, Syria would be ready to give up the dream of wiping Israel off the map that it shares with its closest ally Iran, it is hard to see how the Israelis would be willing to do unto the 20,000 Jews living there what they did to the 8,000 who lived in Gaza.1
When I say that nothing will come of renewed American pressure on Israel to accept the demands that are the precondition of a deal with the Palestinians and/or the Syrians, I mean that nothing will come of it on the ground. It is, however, likely to result in the same souring of relations that developed in the 1990s when George H.W. Bush was in the White House and Yitzhak Shamir was Prime Minister of Israel, and that then carried over to their successors, Bill Clinton and Benjamin Netanyahu. Unpleasant as this would be, it does not rise to the level of a threat.
But what surely does rise to the level of a threat is American policy toward Iran. In making the ridiculous boast during his presidential campaign that he could talk Iran into giving up its quest for nuclear weapons (and the missiles to deliver them), Obama was careful to add that the military option remained available in case all else failed. But everyone, and especially the Iranians and the Israelis, had to know that this was pro forma, and that if elected Obama would pursue the same carrot-and-stick approach of the Europeans who had been negotiating with Iran for the past five years. He would do this in spite of the fact that the only accomplishment of the European diplomatic dance had been to buy the Iranians more time; in spite of the fact that they had spurned the carrots they were offered and defied the sanctions put in place by the Security Council; and in spite of the fact that the Russians and the Chinese—who had prevented stronger sanctions from being adopted—were still determined to veto measures like a blockade or a cutoff of gasoline imports that could conceivably do the trick.
How much time do we have? Secretary of Defense Robert Gates at first said that Iran was still five years or more away from the bomb. This estimate relied on the CIA, in which Gates worked for more than 25 years, including a stint (1991-93) as its director. But the CIA does not exactly have a brilliant record of tracking nuclear proliferation. It was wrong in 2007 about Iran’s suspension of its nuclear program; wrong in 2003 about Syria’s nuclear program; wrong in 2002 about Saddam Hussein’s possession of weapons of mass destruction; and wrong in exactly the opposite direction before the First Gulf War in 1991, at whose end UN inspectors discovered that the Iraqi nuclear program was far more advanced than the American intelligence community had thought. By contrast, an increasing number of experts (possibly—to judge by hints he has thrown out—the current Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Michael Mullen, among them) agree with the head of Israeli military intelligence, who warns that the Iranians have already “crossed the nuclear threshold.” Perhaps this is why, in an interview with the Financial Times, Gates has now backed away from his complacent five-year estimate (“How much more time [we have] I don’t know. It is a year, two years, three years”). Admit it or not, then, the awesome choice of bombing Iran or letting Iran get the bomb is hard upon us.
Although it is certain that Obama has removed American military action from the table, it is difficult to tell whether he still thinks that he can talk Iran into giving up its nuclear program. On the one hand, his Secretary of State reportedly admits that this is “very doubtful,” but on the other hand she invites the Iranians to a conference on Afghanistan, then Obama himself sends a videotaped message proclaiming his “respect” for the brutal and tyrannical regime in Tehran, and finally it is announced that the U.S. will now join the Europeans, the Russians, and the Chinese in the farcical negotiations with Iran we had previously shunned. Naturally the mullahs, seizing this gift of an opportunity to buy yet more time for reaching their nuclear goal, welcome the renewal of “constructive dialogue.”
Yet to Obama’s offer of a “new day” in the relations between us, the Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the Supreme Leader of that regime, responds in a speech heaping scorn on the United States to the accompaniment of an audience chanting “Death to America.” And far from having leaped at Obama’s old offer of direct talks without preconditions, the Iranians have rebuffed it and insisted on a few preconditions of their own, beginning with an apology for all the “atrocities” we have committed against them and a promise of “deep and fundamental” change in our policy.
In order to avoid this humiliation, Obama (we learn from the New York Times) has chosen the slightly lesser humiliation of “seeking an understanding with Syria.” The idea here, according to the Times, is that through the Syrians, “the United States could increase the pressure on Iran to respond to its offer of direct talks.” And to compound the double foolishness of expecting the Syrians to lend us a helping hand with Iran and the Iranians to join with us against the Taliban in Afghanistan, Obama expects that
such an understanding [with Syria] would also give Arab states and moderate Palestinians the political cover to negotiate with Israel. That, in turn, could increase the burden on Hamas, the Islamic militant group that controls Gaza, to relax its hostile stance toward Israel.
Well, compared to this concatenation of wishful delusions, the prophet Isaiah’s vision of the end of days when the lion will lie down with the lamb is a piece of hardheaded realism.
The upshot is that, barring military action by Israel (or a miracle), Iran will get the bomb, and sooner rather than later. What then? For some time now, many pundits with the ear of the Obama administration have finally recognized that neither carrots nor sticks nor any combination of the two can work. But instead of going on to support military action, they have fallen back on the position that we can “live with” a nuclear Iran.In line with the doctrine of Mutual Assured Destruction (MAD), they soothingly tell us, the mullahs can be deterred by the fear of retaliation much as the far more heavily armed Soviets and Chinese were deterred during the cold war. They also say that Ahmadinejad—who in his fanaticism admittedly sounds as though he can hardly wait to use nuclear weapons against Israel—neither runs the regime nor speaks for it.
What they forget to mention, however, is that Ahmadinejad could never have issued his threats without permission from the Ayatollah Khamenei, who does run the regime, and who has himself described Israel as a “cancerous tumor” that must and will be excised. Besides, even Ahmadinejad’s predecessor as president and the current Speaker of the Assembly of Experts, the Ayatollah Hashemi Rafsanjani, known far and wide as a “moderate,” has declared that his country would not be deterred by the fear of retaliation:
If the day comes when the world of Islam is duly equipped with the arms Israel has in its possession . . . application of an atomic bomb would not leave anything in Israel, but the same thing would just produce damages in the Muslim world.
If this is the position of even a reputed Iranian moderate, how could Israel depend upon MAD to keep the mullahs from launching a first strike? Much anxiety has been voiced over the nuclear arms race that would be triggered throughout the region if Iran were to get the bomb, but in all truth we would be lucky if there were enough time for such a race to develop.For consider: if the Iranians were to get the bomb, the Israelis would be presented with an almost irresistible incentive to beat them to the punch with a preemptive strike—and so, understanding this, would Tehran. Either way, a nuclear exchange would become, if not inevitable, terrifyingly likely, and God alone knows how far the destruction would then spread.
Measured against this horrendous possibility, even the worst imaginable consequences of taking military action before the mullahs get the bomb would amount to chump change. But to say it again, with American military action ruled out, the only hope is that such action—which could at the very least head off the otherwise virtually certain prospect of a nuclear war—will be taken by Israel.
Forget about the Palestinian and Syrian “tracks”: if there is a threat to Israel coming from Obama, it is that, having eschewed the use of force by the United States, he will follow through on his Vice President’s declaration that the Israelis would be “ill-advised” to attack the Iranian nuclear sites and will prevent them from doing the job themselves.
Norman Podhoretz’s twelfth book, Why Are Jews Liberals?, will be published by Doubleday in the fall.
Thursday, April 30, 2009
It is hard to think of a U.S. president who has done more to weaken his country on the world stage in such a short period of time -- and that includes the hapless Jimmy Carter. President Obama’s first 100 days as a world leader have been an overwhelming failure, a damaging mix of diplomatic gaffes and humiliating apologies for America’s past, combined with a naïve outreach to American-hating tyrants and despots, as well as an overwhelming indifference towards traditional allies, including Britain.
While the Anglo-American Special Relationship has been downgraded to a “special partnership”, the new president has been busy sending polite video messages to the Mullahs of Tehran, bowing to the King of Saudi Arabia, and having a cuddly chat with Venezuelan thug Hugo Chavez. In little over three months, the fledgling president has also succeeded in jettisoning the War on Terror, alienating America’s intelligence services with the selective release of interrogation memos, while undercutting the armed forces with a series of threatened defence cuts.
There have been moments when the new administration has shown some backbone – the decision to withdraw from the farcical UN Durban Review Conference, the ordering of missile strikes against al-Qaeda and Taliban positions inside Pakistan, the deployment of 21,000 additional troops to Afghanistan, for example. But these have been rare exceptions to an overall foreign policy that has projected weakness, indifference and even incompetence, unbefitting of the most powerful nation on the face of the earth.
And what has Washington gained in return for its new approach? More sneering condescension from continental European leaders, a refusal to fight in Afghanistan from most of the NATO alliance, an increase in sabre-rattling from North Korea, an acceleration of Iran’s nuclear programme, a renewed assertiveness from Moscow, and an insulting book on the evils of Western imperialism as a gift from Chavez.
The new approach is the product of an American-Idol-style White House obsessed with spin and image at the expense of American power. There is, unfortunately, no Simon Cowell figure to tell the president that his performance doesn’t measure up. No matter how hard Obama tries to please his global audience and how much they superficially cheer, if there is no substance to the policy or the basic message is wrong, it simply won’t work.
Barack Obama has barely an ounce of foreign policy experience and it clearly shows. For much of his recent tour of Europe, the president was treated like a rock star but acted like a deer in the headlights, clearly outmaneuvered at both the G-20 and NATO summits by vastly more experienced politicians such as Nicolas Sarkozy and Angela Merkel.
Obama’s speech in Strasbourg, where he condemned America’s “arrogance”, has to rank as one of the most damaging, if not the most damaging speech by a U.S. president on foreign soil in modern times. It is impossible to imagine the leader of any European nation, with the unique exception of Germany’s contrition over its Nazi past, launching an attack like this upon his or her own country on foreign land. It was the humbling of a superpower in front of a largely French and German audience, who cheered every word the president spoke trashing his own nation’s record.
There was no mention by Obama in his speech of the sacrifice of tens of thousands of American GIs who died liberating France from fascist occupation, and no recognition of the huge role the United States played in keeping Europe free. It was a speech that quite easily could have been written in parts by Jacques Chirac or Dominique de Villepin, railing against the American “hyper-power”.
Barack Obama has launched a new era of self-flagellation for America that serves only to humiliate the American people, and embolden Washington’s enemies. From Tehran to Pyongyang, Moscow to Caracas, dictatorial regimes have been given a new lease of life by a U.S. administration that threatens little and barely talks about the advancement of freedom. The spread of individual liberty and human rights are hardly priority goals for a White House that is struggling to find a dictator it isn’t willing to talk to in the name of its weak-kneed new policy of “engagement”.
Even so-called “moderate” elements of the Taliban are being identified for talks with the new administration, further confirmation that Obama has dropped the concept of a global war against Islamist terrorism. The old War on Terror is now an “Overseas Contingency Operation”, a symbol of the new administration’s unwillingness to recognize that the free world is actually engaged in a global war against a brutal and determined enemy, that may take decades to win. Obama has also shown ambivalence over the deployment of a missile defense system, a vital shield against a possible Iranian nuclear threat.
President Obama has unfortunately shown little sign he is willing to lead an America that is genuinely respected by its allies and feared by its enemies. Obama has acted as a quintessentially European-style leader, and at times cannot decide whether he is the president of the United States or the European Union. His actions in his first 100 days have served largely to undermine American power and strengthen its foes. He is off to a spectacularly bad start as a world leader, one that will be hard to reverse.
There is much that Barack Obama can learn from great world leaders such as Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher and Winston Churchill, who all understood the importance of aggressively advancing the national interest and projecting strength to defeat the enemies of the West. All three succeeded in standing up to and defeating tyranny, whether in the shape of the Soviet empire or Nazi Germany. Obama’s rash decision, however, to throw a bust of Churchill out of the Oval Office, is a distinctly bad omen for the remainder of his presidency.
Nile Gardiner is the Director of the Margaret Thatcher Center for Freedom at the Heritage Foundation.
Posted by Joyce Kavitsky at 4/30/2009 04:56:00 PM
March 5, 2009
A steamroller of socialism is being shoved down our throats in the form of bloated bailouts, so-called stimulus packages and record tax increases. If this steamroller does not soon hit a speed bump, it will crush our economy.
Congress recently passed a $1 trillion dollar “stimulus” package that simply stimulates more government and more spending. If you really want to try to wrap your mind around a trillion dollars, imagine spending a million dollars, each day, from the birth of Jesus, until today. You still wouldn’t have spent a trillion dollars.
Is Congress so fiscally jaded that that the “T” in trillion no longer sounds alarms?
Now, the President is offering a budget that increases our national debt by more than three trillion dollars over the next five years– an amount unprecedented in our nation’s history. It raises taxes on almost every American and small business. As President Obama promised during the campaign, we must “go through our federal budget -- page by page, line by line -- eliminating those programs we don't need, and insisting that those we do operate in a sensible cost-effective way.” As someone who is concerned about transparency with your tax dollars, I want to work with the President to help him fulfill his promise to reduce wasteful spending and increase transparency. But I’m afraid that promises made are not being kept.
A responsible debate over this trend of big government spending is worth every penny. Let us not forget that more government has never been a solution. Government actions were actually the stimulus that contributed to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac’s distension, easy money made available following relaxed interest rates, and ultimately the push on American lenders to make loans regardless of the borrower’s ability to pay.
As a result, the credit crisis reared its ugly head, and Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson made his first of many negligent promises to the American taxpayers: that a bailout of Bear Stearns on the taxpayers’dime will stabilize the markets; that a taxpayer rescue of mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac would turn around the housing markets; and that a $700 billion dollar bailout of Wall Street was the “only” way to prevent an historic depression.
Yet, here we are today, with some duped and dizzied by failed promises as our economy continues to plummet. We must wake up and recognize that the smorgasbord of costly government interventions have not been successful. In fact, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) just released a report estimating that the recently passed, $800 billion stimulus plan, will have a long term, NEGATIVE impact on the economy.
It’s true that our economy needs a significant jolt that requires immediate attention. I believe that Congress must come together promptly to create jobs, restore faith in markets, and again unleash America’s entrepreneurial spirit.
CBO Director Douglas Elmendorf highlighted what America’s economic engine truly needs when he noted that direct payments to individuals and cutting taxes would have the fastest impact on our economy. Two alternatives that I supported would have done just that.
The economic recovery plan I cosponsored included NO bailouts and NO pork-laden projects. It creates twice the jobs at half the cost through permanent tax relief for families and American businesses. This plan creates 73,000 more jobs in Georgia alone. Unfortunately, Democrats snubbed this plan and never even considered it.
I also offered an amendment to the stimulus bill, giving every American who files a tax return approximately $9K -- their share of the trillion dollar spending bill. Clearly, not spending a trillion dollars would have been a better option, but since Congress was bound and determined to spend the money, wouldn’t it have been best to put the money back in the pockets of taxpayers and immediately see economic results? Imagine if you’re part of a two-parent, middle class family, and all of the sudden you receive $18,000 in the mail. You could buy a new car, go on vacation, or make a down payment on a house. Now that’s stimulating. Once again though, my common-sense amendment was not even considered.
Putting America’s economy on the road to recovery will require tax relief for working families and small businesses, and fiscal responsibility in Washington. These are the basic principles that allowed our nation to prosper, and are the principles I will continue to fight for in Washington.
Posted by Joyce Kavitsky at 4/30/2009 10:08:00 AM
I make no secret of the fact that I cannot stand the President-elect. It is my belief that the American people were sold a bill of goods that 1) we cannot afford and 2) is dangerous to the security of the union. And I mean security in a dire way.
In spite of what you may have been instructed to believe about Barry/Barack Hussein Obama/Soetoro/Obama, it is a fact that Obama is the product of a family which sought out Socialism for decades BEFORE and AFTER the birth of the next occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.
Barry’s maternal grandparents, Stanley and Madelyn Dunham, moved from Kansas to suburban Seattle seeking the company of socialist and socialist thought. They aimed to have their daughter, Anna - Barry’s mommy, attend a school which was run by an open member of the Communist Party USA.
From The Obama File:
The Dunhams moved to 206 East Lexington St., Mercer Island, Washington in 1956, after living in an apartment for a year in a nearby Seattle. The lure was the high school that had just opened and the opportunity it offered for their daughter, who was then 13.
Curious and precocious, Anna was greatly influenced by left-wing and communist teachers in the Mercer Island High School, who had the students read the philosophers Sartre and Kierkegaard, “The Communist Manifesto” and question the existence of God. Anna touted herself as an atheist.
Mercer Island High was a hotbed of pro-Marxist radical teachers. John Stenhouse, board member, testified before the House Un-American Activities Subcommittee that he had been a member of the Communist Party USA and the school has a number of Marxists on its staff. Two teachers at this school, Val Foubert and Jim Wichterman, both Frankfurt School style Marxists, taught a critical theory curriculum to students which included; rejection of societal norms, attacks on Christianity, the traditional family, and assigned readings by Karl Marx. The hallway between Foubert’s and Wichterman classrooms was called “anarchy ally.”
A high school classmate described Anna as “a fellow traveler. . . . We were liberals before we knew what liberals were.”
The descriptive, “fellow traveler,” was first applied to non-communists who were inclined toward the views of the Communist Party by Leon Trotsky.
In 1960, Stanley’s chosen profession as a furniture salesman afforded him the opportunity to move his family to Hawaii, a hotbed of post WWII Communist activity. It was at that University of Hawaii East West Centre - a particular hotbed for Communism in 1960, that Anna met Barack Hussein Obama, Sr. Their meeting and subsequent love affair produced the future 44th President of the United States.
Fast forward to Barry’s return to Hawaii and his mother abandoning him to the care of her parents, young Barry became aquanted with one Frank Davis by way of his grandfather Stanley Dunham.
From The Obama File:
Information from Davis’s 601 page FBI file reveals that Davis (born 1905) became interested in the Communist Party as far back as 1931.
Certainly from the mid/late ’30s to the early ’40s Davis was involved in several Communist Party fronts including the the National Negro Congress, the League of American Writers, the National Federation for Constitutional Liberties and the Civil Rights Congress
The FBI first began tracking Davis in 1944 when they identified him as member of the Communist Party’s Dorie Miller Club in Chicago — card number 47544.
Davis taught courses at the party controlled Abraham Lincoln School in Chicago and attended meetings of the party’s Cultural Club until he left for Hawaii in 1948.
In Hawaii Davis became a columnist for a union financed, communist controlled newspaper, the Honolulu Record.
Despite going underground in 1950, the Hawaiian CP was one of the most dynamic in the US at the time. The mainland put huge resources into the Hawaiian party because the Soviets wanted the US military presence on the islands shut down. The Hawaiian CP was charged with agitating against the US military bases at every opportunity. Several times the FBI observed Davis photographing obscure Hawaiian beaches — possibly for espionage purposes.
Obama had an admitted relationship with someone who was publicly identified as a member of the Communist Party USA (CPUSA). The record shows that Obama was in Hawaii from 1971-1979, where, at some point in time, he developed a close relationship, almost like a son, with Davis, listening to his “poetry” and getting advice on his career path. But Obama, in his book, “Dreams From My Father,” refers to him repeatedly as just “Frank.” Frank is the black communist writer now considered by some to be in the same category of prominence as Maya Angelou and Alice Walker.
According to an interview with Dawn Weatherly-Williams, Obama returned to Hawaii in the fall of 1970 to attend Punahou School. He first met Frank Marshall Davis after he took the entrance exams.
Davis moved to Honolulu from Chicago in 1948 with his second wife Helen Canfield, a white socialite, at the suggestion of his friend the actor Paul Robeson, who advised them that there would be more tolerance of a mixed race couple in Hawaii than on the American mainland. Robeson, of course, was the well-known black actor and singer who served as a member of the CPUSA and apologist for the old Soviet Union. Davis had known Robeson from his time in Chicago.
The 1951 report of the Commission on Subversive Activities to the Legislature of the Territory of Hawaii identified him as a CPUSA member. What’s more, anti-communist congressional committees, including the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC), accused Davis of involvement in several communist-front organizations.
- For more on Frank Marshall Davis check out Accuracy in Media
His mother was an open
Socialist “a fellow traveler”. His grandparents moved about the nation seeking the company and teachings of Communists. His grandfather befriended Frank Davis and introduced Obama to Davis at a very young and impressionable age. His grandmother is a product of that guardian of leftist thought, Berkley. His academic career is ripe with studies in leftist thought. He worked as a “Community Organizer” which is code these days for radical inciter and indoctrinator. The current indoctrination method used by students of Saul Alinsky to spread his band of modern Communism. It uses racism as a tool to recruit minorities to ‘the cause’ and code words like ’social justice’ to push massive government redistribution programs designed to make more people dependent upon mother government for support.
Obama’s voting record and speeches reflect massive leftist leanings. Why in the world would anyone, and I mean ANYONE, actually believe that he is NOT a Socialist?!?
It is time to counter the leftist movement of our government and resist the creation of 600,000 new government jobs. Should Obama’s economic plan prevail, it will become the largest leap to the left in US history. The majority of Americans will either become government dependent OR outright employed by the government. Once on the government tit, it is difficult to remove your self from that tit.
Our only hope, Republican cohesiveness in the Senate. We need unity among Senate Republicans or we will make the trek toward full on Socialism. If the George Voinovich’s cannot be convinced that dealing with these lefitists is damaging to the country, we are doomed to travel the road that France is currently bogged down in.
Who do we have to blame should this happen? The George Voinovich’s of course but also guilty of selling out this nation is the main stream press, ACORN, and the Apathetic American Lemmings who for reasons beyond me have no interest in paying attention to what actually happens in Washington, but would rather be hand fed their information by the left leaning press and organizations such as ACORN.
The first thing that we need is a new law banning the payment of voter registration canvassers. If there is no incentive to fraudulently registered un-qualified individuals or individuals who are already registered or dead. then we would not have the specter of voter fraud on the scale raised in the 2008 election.
This nation had better get over the asinine idea that requiring identification proving that you are an eligible voter is somehow disenfranchisement. Each and every time an ineligible voter casts a ballot the eligible voters are disenfranchised. We must protect legally cast votes and eliminate illegal votes.
But left up to leftists, they would register Hamas members in the Gaza Strip to vote in US Presidential election. That is of course if it benefits the Democrat Party.
Illegal aliens, felons, dead people, children, dogs, cats, and animated characters are the constituents of Democrats. We have been witness to in this past election, the proliferation of Chicago style politics where stuffing ballot boxes is a pass time. But it comes with a new twist called early voting. Vote via absentee ballot then show up and vote in person. Register to vote in a state where you aren’t a resident and vote the day you register. These were the tactics of the left and their “community organizers” in 2008. Since we witnessed it being done, steps need to be taken to eliminate its being repeated.
In Ohio, the court ruling that allowed same day voting needs stricken. Especially since it is a violation of the Ohio state Constitution. Early voting needs to be eliminated and proper identification and residency requirements need to be restored.
Posted by Joyce Kavitsky at 4/30/2009 09:49:00 AM
Wednesday, April 29, 2009
Miss California Carrie Prejean Becomes Conservative Darling Amid Gay Marriage Brouhaha By wowOwow.com
Carrie Prejean may have lost the Miss USA crown, but she sure won the hearts of conservatives. What is it with the GOP and beauty queens? Don’t forget that Sarah Palin was once an aspiring Miss Alaska! (swimsuit competition video here)
Miss California has been blasted since the Miss USA competition Sunday night, when she said on national television — much to the dismay of celebrity blogger Perez Hilton — she believes marriage should be between a man and a woman. She later said that while she doesn’t regret voicing her beliefs, her stance is what left her in second place. But since then, Politico reports, Prejean has found a slew of supporters from conservative bloggers, talk-show hosts and others on the right.
Family Research Council President Tony Perkins stated his "admiration and support" for Prejean and said she "has been victimized by this flagging production in a vain attempt to generate interest through controversy rather than substance." One Alabama state legislator even introduced a resolution praising her for speaking out against gay marriage; it passed by voice vote.
Others applauded her for speaking her mind, even if it may not have been politically correct enough for the pageant crowd.
"It was refreshing to see someone not give the politically correct answer," writes a Kansas City Star columnist. "Predictably, conservatives and some Republican politicians are embracing Prejean because of her comments. That’s fine, too, because she’s getting a positive reaction for speaking her mind."
Donald Trump, the owner of the Miss Universe franchise, told FOX News that he has received thousands of calls and letters, the majority of which support Prejean’s stance.
"Miss California has done a wonderful job, that was her belief … It wasn’t a bad answer, that was simply her belief," Trump said, adding that Prejean’s question was "a bit unlucky," and that no matter how she answered, "she was going to get killed."
Perhaps if Prejean’s current career plans don’t work out, she could find a niche for herself in politics. The GOP could use more women in its ranks!
April 27, 2009
Over the last few years House Speaker Bobby Harrell has penned any number of op-eds and press statements taking me to task on different fronts, and to date I've declined to respond. I simply considered them noise about the obvious — our long-standing disagreement on whether it is a good idea to limit government growth. His most recent missive, however, calls for a response, because it well captures the differences in our views regarding the best interests of both present day and future South Carolinians.
I'm reminded of one of the first conversations I had with Speaker Harrell upon his taking that new role, in which he laid out his belief that if growing government was necessary to grow the economy, he wholeheartedly believed in growing government. His actions have been consistent with this belief.
My response was that over time growing government would do the opposite — it would shrink the private sector and the economy.
If this was merely some academic difference of philosophy, it would hardly be worth noting. But the Speaker is right, in that this difference has a real impact on every day South Carolinians. He's just wrong about what that impact is.
In the 1930s, President Roosevelt spoke metaphorically about the Forgotten Man. Roosevelt was referring to those at the bottom of the economic ladder who were suffering greatly during the Depression.
Here's the problem. In her book, "The Forgotten Man," economic historian Amity Shlaes painstakingly documents how the Great Depression became "great" — lasting more than ten years — because the massive growth in government's taxing, spending, and debt, killed the very source of private sector economic activity essential for recovery.
In today's political process, the Forgotten Man seems to be the taxpayer — as is shown in part by the Legislature increasing spending by roughly 40 percent in four years' time.
The interests Speaker Harrell writes on and seeks to protect are important, but they are not the only interest we should consider in this debate. Each day I find myself asking "Who will pay for this?" — and in not answering this, Speaker Harrell illustrates the ways in which the Forgotten Man of today is indeed the taxpayer.
Today, the average South Carolina taxpayer is being forced to bail out a plethora of interests — that over the long run will mean higher taxes, more debt owed to the Chinese, and the prospect of rampant inflation that will devastate their savings in the future.
That's why I believe it makes sense to not spend every dime of stimulus money coming to us from Washington. We propose taking about 10 percent and applying it to paying down state debt, which is especially important given our $20 billion in unfunded state government promises (learn more at www.scgovernor.com). Alternatively, spending it all will mean we dig a $700 million financial hole in 24 months. If a family won the lottery, setting something aside to pay down the mortgage or the credit cards, rather than spending it all, would be viewed as prudent.
This debate has never been about whether or not money paid for by South Carolina will be lost to another state as Speaker Harrell suggests. We certified the money; it can't slip off to California tomorrow. It is about whether we use this tough economic time to force change long overdue in our state.
Why is it we do things like lose $500,000 a year on a state-run golf course park, or be the only state in the country that legislatively runs large parts of government through a Budget and Control Board?
We will never make the hard choices that result in savings if we simply paper over these things with a lot of borrowed money from Washington.
While the Speaker doesn't seem to realize the path our nation and state are on, more and more of our fellow citizens do. I was struck by the recent Tea Party rallies in Columbia, Charleston, and Greenville, where thousands of South Carolinians turned out in a spontaneous display of protest against reckless government spending. Working people across our state and nation are emerging and saying "No more" because they seem to understand today's gut-check moment on spending, debt and taxes.
In that initial conversation, I also told the Speaker that my overarching belief was that government's aim should be less about promoting and redistributing goods and services, and that instead its highest value was in promoting freedom, which was key to both the pursuit of happiness and a strong job-creating economy.
As our state and nation veer toward an unprecedented mountain of debt, and our global economy continues to sink, I think that approach is more relevant to average taxpayers today than ever before.
Mark Sanford is governor of South Carolina.
Posted by Joyce Kavitsky at 4/29/2009 08:13:00 PM
December 11, 2008
One of the boldest predictions ever made on The Futurist was back in May 2006, when I made a detailed case for why victory in Iraq would arrive precisely in 2008, not sooner or later. There was also a half-time update in September 2007 to the initial May 2006 prediction over here. This was an unusually bold prediction to make, given the state of Iraq in May 2006, which was before the Surge was even discussed.
So now, in 2008, I am happy to declare that the United States has WON in Iraq, and has made Iraq a reasonably peaceful, functioning democracy with a strongly growing economy.
The following five points support the declaration of victory, as per objectives detailed in the original May 2006 prediction :
1) US troop deaths are very low : US troop casualties to hostile attacks are now less than 10 per month, a dramatic improvement from as much as 100 deaths per month in the past. The death rate is so low that the media avoids mentioning it. Indeed, non-hostile deaths often surpass hostile deaths in certain months. When more deaths occur due to road accidents, drowning, and training mishaps than at the hands of terrorists, the terrorists are quite ineffective. If a country of 25 million people were against the presence of US troops, why are only 8-10 US troops being killed per month? Many troops report not having had to fire their guns even once in the last 90 days.
2) Iraqi deaths are low : It is very easy for terrorists to bomb schools, markets, and hotels indefinitely. Yet even this has dropped to a level so low that the chance of being murdered in Iraq is actually lower than it is in Baltimore, Detroit, or the South Side of Chicago. Less than 300 Iraqi civilians are being killed per month, which is remarkable in a country of 26 million people. The Iraqi people have taken responsiblity for removing radicals from their midst, which was the most fundamental objective for installing democracy in Iraq in the first place. Iraqi refugees, some who left as far back as during the 1980-88 Iraq-Iran War, are returning to Iraq for the first time in years. Neither Iran nor Al-Qaeda are capable of causing major violence in Iraq anymore.
Furthermore, many foreign terrorists have gone to Iraq in order to disrupt the nascent progress there, only to meet their deaths at the hands of the US and Iraqi militaries. There has been a distinct drop in Al-Qaeda terrorist attacks worldwide since the start of 2007, and it is because the 'best and brightest' have all gone to Iraq and perished. The 'flypaper' strategy has worked.
3) The political process is stable : Iraqi elections have high voter turnout and minimal violence, with women voting in full force. The Iraqi parliament and judiciary are functioning moderately well. There is little to no threat of a coup. If you consider how many cultural, regional, and sectarian forces were fighting against this outcome, the magnitude of this miracle becomes clear. What took Germany and Japan 25 years after their defeat in WWII, Iraq has achieved in under 6 years. Iraqi politicians are corrupt, but so are American politicians. If Iraqi corruption is no higher than that of India (a fully functioning democracy), that is to be considered a success.
There was scarcely a country more unlikely to function as a democracy, yet this miracle has happened. We should be proud to have had the privilege to witness it. This will, eventually, lead to a domino effect of greater freedom in Iran, Syria, and Jordan.
4) The Iraqi economy is booming : This was the crux of my 2006 case for what it would take for Iraq to become a functioning nation. History has proven repeatedly that once a certain level of prosperity is reached, a society becomes more interested in economic activity than destabilizing violence, and the general public will unite to combat elements that are bad for business. Iraq is not at this level yet, but is on track to approach it rapidly.
Iraq's real GDP continues to grow at about 7% a year. Iraq's exports of oil are increasing, and the revenue amounts to thousands of dollars per year per Iraqi. Beyond oil, industries like financial services, telecom, and solar energy are taking root in Iraq for the first time. Internet use is surging. Most Iraqis now have cellular phones, which is very complementary to the democratic process. The Iraqi stock market is functional, and investor participation is increasing.
5) US public opinion has turned around : For the first time in years, more Americans view the Iraq War as a positive endeavor than those who have the opposite view. This psychological transition is almost as important as the actual data, as it prevents politicians from seeking to appease the public with promises of a 'cut and run' withdrawal. Despite complete Democrratic control of the White House and Congress, they will quietly let the progress in Iraq continue. It also paves the way for greater support of the next US military conflict, and helps bury the ghosts of Vietnam (which itself is not a conflict that the US technically lost, but that has been discussed here).
These five dimensions of victory are comprehensive, and at this point, irreversible. This sends anti-American fifth-columnists (8-10% of the US population) and Euro-leftists into apoplectic, writhing agony.
It is one thing to oppose the war due to cost, or regret that we went in. These are reasonable positions that should be respected. It is quite another to hope for failure, to emphasize only bad news while ignoring good news, to excuse or even defend terrorists, and to condemn anyone who wants a positive outcome. This is anti-Americanism, period.
The anti-American fifth column previously loved to trumpet the running total of US troop deaths, as well as the monthly rate. In order to oppose the Surge, they were quick to mention that 2007 had higher US troop deaths than 2006. For example, see Matt Taibbi, an entertainment reporter, at 0:50 in this video. But now that 2008 will have less than one third the US troop deaths as the previous year, these critics are silent. Where is Matt Taibbi's admission that casualties are now low? Anyone with any intellectual honesty would admit that the death rate is sharply lower than it was when they used that as their main argument, but a pre-requistie for being a fifth-columnist is dishonesty, so no further explanation is needed.
Now that the most vocal opponents to the Iraq War have been trying to change the subject to hide their embarassment, their weak position is the perfect time to call them out and hold them accountable. Do not show restraint towards those who themselves showed no restraint between 2003 and 2007. Just as a strong offense towards Al-Qaeda hastened their collapse in Iraq, a strong offense against the fifth column will send them to the same fate as their Al-Qaeda allies. We owe it to our troops to expose and shame those who hoped for their failure and even their deaths.
Please submit this article to Digg, Reddit, and StumbleUpon, link to it in your own blogs, and send it to other bloggers. Advertising the success of our mission in Iraq is a necessary ingredient of strengthening that very success. We don't have to settle for merely having anti-Americans desist, but we have the opportunity to make this victory the graveyard of fifth-column fashionability. By this, I mean that the Iraq victory should be proudly touted as an example of American exceptionalism prevailing against seemingly impossible odds. After decades of hearing anti-Americans gleefully interject 'Vietnam' into every opportunity to put America down, it is our turn to do the opposite and turn 'Iraq' into a synonym for success.
Posted by Joyce Kavitsky at 4/29/2009 12:13:00 PM
Who wanted new pictures of Air Force One against the New York skyline? Why was there a demand for secrecy? And, of course, the big question: who thought that low flying jumbo jets over Manhattan would pass un-noticed by the people who watched their friends die just eight years ago?
The first question: who wanted the pictures is likely someone in the Obama political image camp. Caldera is political appointee (who is not particularly popular even with Obama supporters) in a post that is traditionally held by a military officer. We either have to believe that he woke up one morning and decided that the pictures of Air Force One in the archives were out of date, or … more likely … someone in charge of the Obama image machine decided that images of Air Force one next to the Statue of Liberty would be useful in the future and tasked Caldera to do it.
The second question – the demand for secrecy – is a puzzle. You can’t run a 747 up and down the Hudson River without anyone noticing. Only months ago someone landed a commercial airliner in the river. It’s one of the most densely populated parts of the world. Were they afraid that if they told New Yorkers that they would be able to see Air Forced One fly by someone would take a shot at it?
I think that I have the answer to question number 3, why the people who ordered this had no idea of the reaction. The people who populate the Obama administration really don’t believe in 9/11. They may have read about it, They may know intellectually that it happened. But they view it the same way we may view a lightning strike that hits an isolated golfer: a billion-in-one shot that “just happened.” That’s why the Obama team is renaming the attacks of 9/11 as “man-caused disasters” putting it on the same moral plane as an auto wreck. That’s why the Obama team is not really concerned about revealing what we do to interrogate prisoners with vital information. They don’t believe we haven anything to worry about. Unlike the people who evacuated their buildings during the fly-bys and who ran for their lives, believing that they were under another attack. For Team Obama, it’s always 9/10.
Who was doing the photography? In the pictures I saw the Air force jet trailing Air Force One was not in a position to take good pictures. Was there a photo plane? If so, where was it? Would it have not been much cheaper to photo-shop an image of Air Force One next to the Statue of Liberty and get the same effect? Were there any passengers on Air Force One during this flight? Was this a joy ride that bombed?
Welcome Instapundit readers.
Posted by Joyce Kavitsky at 4/29/2009 11:56:00 AM
April 28, 2009
Longtime GOP Sen. Specter Joins Democratic Party
Republican voters have sent Arlen Specter to the Senate five times, but faced with the prospect of a strong challenge from conservative Pat Toomey in the GOP primary and the state trending Democratic, Specter announced Tuesday he is jumping ship and becoming a Democrat.
Veteran Sen. Arlen Specter announced Tuesday his intent to switch from the GOP to the Democratic Party, earning him the support of President Obama in next year's re-election campaign.
White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said Tuesday Obama will raise money and campaign for Specter if asked.
Despite winning election to the Senate five times as a Republican, Specter has jumped ship faced with the prospect of a strong challenge from conservative Pat Toomey in the GOP primary and Pennsylvania trending Democratic.
"I have found myself increasingly at odds with the Republican philosophy and more in line with the philosophy of the Democratic Party," he said at a news conference, adding "I am not prepared to have my 29 years' record in the United States Senate decided by the Pennsylvania Republican primary electorate."
The switch puts Democrats within one vote of a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate. Democrats currently hold 56 seats in the Senate, and two independents typically vote with the party. Republicans have 41 seats.
With Specter switching sides, Democrats will reach the magical number of 60 if Al Franken, who has been entangled in a protracted court battle with incumbent Sen. Norm Coleman, is seated in Minnesota.
Not long after Specter met privately with Republican senators to explain his decision, the party's leader, Sen. Mitch McConnell, said the switch posed a "threat to the country."
The issue, McConnell said, "really relates too...whether or not in the United States of America our people want the majority party to have whatever it wants, without restraint, without a check or balance."
Despite the change in political stripes, Specter vowed to remain an independent voice in the Senate.
"My change in party affiliation does not mean that I will be a party-line voter any more for the Democrats that I have been for the Republicans," he said.
"Whatever my party affiliation, I will continue to be guided by President Kennedy's statement that sometimes party asks too much. When it does, I will continue my independent voting and follow my conscience on what I think is best for Pennsylvania and America," he continued.
Specter's departure further fueled anger that had been building since his vote for a $787 billion stimulus package proposed by President Obama and supported by just three Republicans in Congress.
After Obama was notified of Specter's decision Tuesday morning during his daily economic daily briefing, the president called Specter and said "you have my full support" and that Democrats are "thrilled to have you," a senior administration official told FOX News.
With the switch, Specter now is more likely to face a general election challenge from Toomey, former head of the conservative Club for Growth, who almost defeated Specter in a 2004 GOP primary. Toomey was beating Specter in public opinion polls of GOP primary voters.
"Senator Specter's decision today represents the height of political self-preservation," said Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, who chairs the National Republican Senatorial Committee, which works to get GOP candidates elected.
"Let's be honest -- Sen. Specter didn't leave the GOP based on principles of any kind," said Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele. "He left to further his personal political interests because he knew that he was going to lose a Republican primary due to his left-wing voting record.
"Republicans look forward to beating Sen. Specter in 2010, assuming the Democrats don't do it first," Steele said.
"Everyone switches parties when you know you're going to lose," Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., told FOX News. Graham said Specter's decision now puts pressure on a lot of red-state Democrats, who campaigned on their conservative credentials, to step up.
"They may be the only thing that can stop this radical liberal agenda," he said.
Specter acknowledged at the news conference that after surveying the sentiments of the GOP, he found prospects for winning next year's primary looked bleak.
Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., told FOX News that Specter attended a weekly GOP lunch Tuesday after news of his decision broke and said nothing. Some Republicans approached him and said they'd miss him.
"Some saw the raw politics of" the switch and did not take acknowledge his presence, DeMint said.
Last week, DeMint reportedly told Specter that he would be supporting Toomey in next year's Republican primary. But it is unclear whether this conversation prompted Specter to switch parties.
Political experts in Pennsylvania note that Specter has alienated the Republican base over the years with his support for abortion rights and gay rights, and other more hard-core conservative issues. His approval rating percentage among Republicans hovered in the 30s, according to a handful of polls conducted this year.
However, Specter's approval among Democrats in his state is high. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., praised Specter's decision and noted that he has always been willing to work in a bipartisan manner.
"I welcome Sen. Specter and his moderate voice to our diverse caucus, and to continuing our open and honest debate about the best way to make life better for the American people," he said in a statement.
Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., said Tuesday that he was notified of Specter's decision that morning and that he got the impression that "a great party left him, not the other way around."
He added that he is not surprised by the decision and expects Specter to remain as independent as ever.
At the news conference, Specter said he told Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell several months ago that he wouldn't need his help when the Democratic governor offered to help him raise money if he switched parties.
"I changed my mind about that," Specter said, drawing laughs.
FOX News' Trish Turner and Major Garrett contributed to this report.
By INVESTOR'S BUSINESS DAILY | Posted Tuesday, April 28, 2009 4:20 PM PT
Politics: In finally abandoning the Republican Party, Pennsylvania Sen. Arlen Specter showed his true colors not just ideologically, but personally. It's all about the liberal Specter maximizing his own power.
Read More: General Politics
The climax Tuesday of Arlen Specter's long, drawn-out betrayal of his party may seem like it came out of nowhere especially since it was only last month that he said he'd seek re-election as a Republican. But why be shocked when a hardened Machiavellian does what comes naturally after doing the math?
As a Democrat, Sen. Specter will now be Washington's king power broker, since he is poised to be the 60th vote for Democrats in the U.S. Senate, constituting a filibuster-proof majority at a time when the federal government is undergoing an unprecedented expansion in size and power.
No one is falling for Specter's hand-wringing rationale that "since my election in 1980, as part of the Reagan Big Tent, the Republican Party has moved far to the right." He was just as uncomfortable with Reaganism back then as he is now, all along relishing his role as RINO Republican In Name Only whose vote was up for sale.
"Last year," Specter added, "more than 200,000 Republicans in Pennsylvania changed their registration to become Democrats. I now find my political philosophy more in line with Democrats than Republicans."
He must not have been looking for that philosophy very hard, or he would have "found" it's been that way for decades.
What Specter saw, in fact, as he looked at the people of Pennsylvania was that his days were numbered. Former congressman and Club for Growth president Pat Toomey, who nearly snatched the GOP nomination away from the longtime incumbent in 2004, has been organizing an encore effort that Specter obviously surmised was going to succeed in 2010.
The game that the former Philadelphia prosecutor has played for so long would no longer work. He got away with betraying party principles on everything from tax cuts to Supreme Court appointments because periodically his specialized abilities would come in handy most memorably in grilling Justice Clarence Thomas accuser Anita Hill during his Supreme Court confirmation hearings in 1991.
It will be a new dance now. As vote No. 60 in the World's Greatest Deliberative Body (assuming vote No. 59 belongs to comedian Al Franken of Minnesota), Specter will be owed an incalculable debt by congressional Democrats and President Obama.
There will be no threats of party discipline against him on the occasions when he votes with Republicans, no warnings that campaign funds will be kept from him. (You think they want Toomey to beat him in 2010?) Each and every big vote in the Senate will be a bargaining opportunity for Specter. Riches and favors will be showered upon him for the power he prostitutes.
There has never been a more important time to temper the power being wielded in Washington, never a time when putting country before political ambition was so consequential. The system of economic freedom that built and sustains America is at stake, as are the fortunes of our children and grandchildren.
Thanks to Arlen Specter, that destructive power may now be absolute. Reserve a space for a new addition to history's Rogues' Gallery.
Posted by Joyce Kavitsky at 4/29/2009 09:39:00 AM