Thursday, July 24, 2014

OK -Maybe Not Safer But So Much More Tranquil!

This from a doctor friend and fellow memo reader vacationing in upstate New York.  It is a T Shirt he saw in a shop.

This from Newt who gets it.

Had he been elected president, I doubt Iran would have nuclear capability, Ukraine would be Ukraine and our borders would be secure.

The New York Times would still be writing about the Grinch who stole Christmas but the budget would be balanced, our military would have remained in Iraq and the world would  be a safer but less" tranquil" place and liberals would be tearing their hair out!. (See 1 below.)
These are notes from The SIRC meeting pertaining to Common Core as presented by the two principals of The Savannah Classical Academy.

[These notes were prepared by Mike Walters, edited by yours truly and have not been reviewed by Headmaster, Ben Payne.] (See 2 below.)
Tuesday two of my favored candidates did not win. Jack Kingston lost by several thousand votes i n a squeaker and Dr. Bob Johnson lost by several per cents in another close run.

Now the fun begins.  Can Jack's opponent win against Michelle Nunn?

Is Georgia in play?  Will Georgians vote for Obama and Harry Reid? (See 3 below.)
Johnson's opponent will win because he has no meaningful opposition. (See 4 below.)
Obama has no knowledge of Truman's thing called "the buck stops here."

Narcissists can never be wrong nor challenged because they are omniscient! (See 5 below.)
Pipes explains why Hamas wanted war! (See 5 below.)
Defining our own border threat from terrorism.  (See 6 below.)

Dear Dick:  Obama’s Attack on Israel

Obama’s Attack on Israel
"The success of Hamas in closing Israeli airspace is a great victory for the resistance, and is the crown of Israel’s failure,” a Hamas spokesman saidtoday.

When Israel declared independence on May 14, 1948, the United States became the first country in the world to recognize the Jewish state, just 11 minutes later. That recognition, however, came after one of the greatest foreign policy disputes in American history—a fight in which Secretary of State George C. Marshall told President Truman that “if the President were to [recognize Israel] and if in the elections I were to vote, I would vote against the President.”

This was an astonishing rebuke coming from any cabinet officer, and more so coming from Marshall—a popular figure who as Chief of Staff of the Army during World War II had helped win the war—and directed at Truman, one of the least popular presidents in recent history. But Truman was still the president, and he had the wisdom to forge with Israel what has become one of our country’s closest friendships.

Later, when Syria and Egypt invaded Israel in the 1973 Yom Kippur War, President Nixon airlifted heavy arms and supplies to help Israel defend itself.

Contrast those strong actions with President Obama’s response to the current crisis threatening our ally.

The President’s FAA-imposed ban on flights into Ben Gurion International Airport is the most hostile step any American president has taken toward Israel in its entire existence. The restriction deals a major psychological blow to our friends, prevents Israelis across the world from returning home, stops tourists and others from leaving, and creates a major disruption to the country’s economy its tourism industry especially.

Even worse, it hands an extraordinary victory to Hamas, a terrorist organization that also happens to be the government in Gaza.

The decision can only be interpreted as a willful attack by the United States and one of its closest allies at a time of great crisis. It was clearly deliberate. If the restriction had been an accident—an unfortunate mistake by some bumbling bureaucrat at the FAA— the President could simply have reversed it when he found out about it.

Given the circumstances, it is impossible to believe the cessation of flights was not a deliberate act on the part of the Obama administration to undermine Israel and bully it into accepting the “ceasefire” President Obama and Secretary Kerry desperately want.

The Israelis maintain that their airport is safe. Their own airline, El Al, continues to fly. They have demonstrated with impressive accuracy the ability of their Iron Dome missile defense shield to protect Tel Aviv from Hamas rockets. Except for a single rocket discovered about a mile from the airport, there is no evidence to support the FAA’s decision.

That’s the same FAA that allows flights into Baghdad. That allows flights into Kabul. Into Peshawar and Kandahar. It allows flights, for that matter, into Kiev. These are all places where the FAA might apply the same logic as it did in Tel Aviv—there are bad people in the neighborhood who sometimes do bad things.
Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg stood bravely against the administration’s bullying tactics when he released a statement last night announcing:
“This evening I will be flying on El Al to Tel Aviv to show solidarity with the Israeli people and to demonstrate that it is safe to fly in and out of Israel. Ben Gurion is the best protected airport in the world and El Al flights have been regularly flying in and out of it safely. The flight restrictions are a mistake that hands Hamas an undeserved victory and should be lifted immediately I strongly urge the FAA to reverse course and permit US airlines to fly to Israel.”
Mike Bloomberg is exactly right about the effects of the administration’s decision, which is even more damaging in the context of the American government’s latest pronouncements. All week Secretary Kerry and President Obama have been pressuring Israel to accept a ceasefire against an enemy that is actively trying to kill Israelis. They warn Israel that the United States is “deeply concerned” about civilian casualties in Gaza.

Indeed, everyone is worried about civilian casualties. Everyone except Hamas.
Have Obama and Kerry forgotten how the current violence started?
It started with Palestinian terrorists firing hundreds of rockets at Israeli civilians.

It continued with the discovery of hidden tunnels—dozens of them—which Hamas has dug into Israel with the intention, apparently, of launching an invasion of terrorists into Israel to kidnap Israelis and drag them back through the tunnels into Gaza.

A few militants who made it through the tunnels were found to be carrying tranquilizers and handcuffs. Today Israel discovered a tunnel filled with a trove of Israeli Defense Force uniforms in which the terrorists were evidently planning to disguise themselves.

This is the stuff of nightmares. And in the middle of Israel’s campaign to stop such atrocities, Obama and Kerry are criticizing Israel for causing civilian casualties? They’re handing a victory, with the flight cancellations, to Hamas, which hides its weapons and its militants in civilian homes to use women and children as human shields. It is an act of enormous cowardice.

President Obama should immediately reverse the FAA’s ban on flights into Ben Gurion International Airport and should apologize to Israel for the mistake. And Congress should hold hearings on the decision process to determine for certain if this was a deliberate political attack by the Obama White House on America’s ally.

Your Friend,
2)  SIRC true perspectives seminar  Notes on Common Core and The Savannah Classical Academy

Two principals (Chairman Roger Moss and Headmaster Ben Payne) of the Savannah Classical Academy (SCA) briefed the audience on the history and mission of this new Chatham County  Charter School  and how the proposed new Common Core Standards might affect their school.

First, Roger Moss gave an overall perspective on why this school was founded. Essentially it was to bring high quality education back to the public school system. Conservative Hillsdale College of Michigan was a principal sponsor and advisor. 

The inspiration came from Thomas Jefferson who believed a great citizenry needed to preserve our democratic republic requires a strong public education system.

Moss rejects the fallacy that poor students can’t learn from a system with high standards. Right now SCA services grades K through 7, and plans to go to K through 12, adding one grade level/year.

The principal Ben Payne, with a BA from Virginia and an MS in Architecture, gave his philosophy that great learning takes place with three attributes in place:

The right structure
High expectations
Devoted teachers who care for their students

Educational achievement  also demands high standards for teachers, unlike Georgia's history of teacher evaluation where less than 1% of teachers have recieved an unsatisfactory rating.  Obviously Georgia has a culture of not evaluating teachers properly. There have also been students with grades of A that couldn’t read near their grade level.

Ben's stipulation in agreeing to be SCA's headmaster was:
·       Free buses available  to transport all students
·       Free and reduced lunches, and\
·       A blind lottery

Payne believes you need qualified teachers and then let them teach. He is not a fan of teaching to standardized tests so schools will give the appearance of adequate quality.  As for Common Core (CC) Standards, they seem ok on paper but have the potential to be misused. One state used the standards to decide that a number of schools were failing miserably. His question was why did it take these new standards to make that judgment when  their failures should have been apparent well before the crutch of using CC as a measuring stick.

The CC standards are for Mathematics and English Language Arts and Literacy which include History, Social studies, science, and technical subjects. His understanding is the actual curriculum is left to the states.

During the Q & A session, a highly energized audience asked about results evaluation.  A local newspaper article writing about SCA's ribbon cutting  decried lower test scores in one grade versus other schools, but Payne felt that was an unjustified criticism because SCA does not teach to the tests.

The true measure of success will occur over the long term, as SCA students seem  much more enthusiastic about learning and much more adept at reading.   One survey of his students revealed there the three favorite books were: Harry Potter, the Iliad and the Odyssey. How many other schools can make that claim?

Ben was highly critical of “teaching to  tests” implying those standards are merely an attempt to elevate the “bottom” when learning should be much more. For example, SCA teaches the virtues espoused by Socrates: Compassion, Courage, Diligence, Integrity, Perseverance, Respect, Responsibility and Temperance. 

These are not based on religious values, but attributes needed in a civilized society. It takes time to impart these ideas to children, not in a test or two that are part of minimum standards of knowledge.
He was also critical of traditional measures of evaluating teacher competence, that place more emphasis on techniques acquired in “Education” degrees, and less stressing of knowledge in the fields themselves , e.g. Mathematics, where imparting  knowledge is more likely to come from enthusiastic  teachers than  clever teaching techniques.
The audience had more questions about Common Core, but the presenters were more into the merits of SCA which clearly had much higher standards than any espoused by CC.  Therefore, they appeared  skeptical of the results espoused by the CC proponents, especially given their pessimistic view of teaching to the tests instead of their more holistic view of the education process helping students evolve into knowledgeable members of a democratic society (Jefferson’s view), rather than viewing education as a way to get better jobs by enforcing minimum standards.
Repeating his message of allowing  teachers to teach , employing  better quality teachers who stress  higher standards. Then watch even students who struggle bootstrap towards a higher set of goals in an environment that has very high expectations of all students.
3)  Battleground Georgia: Democrats see 2014 flip

Democrats have made a national cause of turning Texas blue, even though the chances that Wendy Davis will win the governor’s race this fall remain small — and the likelihood that Texas will be a true battleground any time before 2028 probably even smaller.
Georgia, on the other hand, is happening now.

Read more:

Democrats here don’t have to wait for the demographic projections to come true. The state’s voting population is already much more African-American than even 10 years ago, Latinos are on the rise, and there’s a business community relocating to the Atlanta metro area at a pace that looks a lot like the migration to Northern Virginia and the North Carolina research triangle the past 15 years that turned both states into presidential battlegrounds.

Those shifts, together with the surprisingly competitive candidacies of Senate hopeful Michelle Nunn and gubernatorial contender Jason Carter, have convinced more than a few Democrats here that the Republican lock on the Peach State could be broken as soon as November.

It’s a tall task, no question: Nunn has her hands full against businessman David Perdue — who edged out Rep. Jack Kingston in the Republican Senate primary runoff Tuesday night — as does Carter in his bid to oust Republican Gov. Nathan Deal.

But a win by either Democrat would deliver a jolt so powerful that it could potentially reshape the national political landscape: Yes, Texas has its 38 electoral votes, but putting Georgia’s 16 votes in play could do just as much to complicate the GOP’s path to the White House.
“Georgia’s next in line as a national battleground state,” Carter said during a break at a campaign stop last week. “If you look at sheer numbers, people can dispute whether it’s red or blue, but everybody knows where it’s headed.”

The rumblings of change are happening, to the surprise of many, here at a Wal-Mart parking lot on the heavily African-American south side of Atlanta, where an older man nudges through a crowd to introduce his grandson to the Democrat running for governor. Jason Carter smiles — not the same toothy grin that became the unofficial logo of Jimmy Carter’s 1976 presidential campaign, just his top lip pulled back eagerly — as he poses for one cellphone photo after another.
You know,” Carter says to the man, “I get introduced as a grandson all the time.”

That introduction was enough to help Carter win a state Senate seat four years ago, and enough to draw him more attention last year than most long shots against Deal would get just for entering the race.

No one was really expecting what happened next. Carter started pulling even and, according to some polls, ahead in the race. Meanwhile, in the open Senate race for Saxby Chambliss’s seat, where Republicans just finished a multi-month process of picking their nominee, Nunn has been up repeatedly over generic Republican challengers — and that, her supporters point out, is before she’s had the chance to really focus attacks on a GOP opponent.

Michael McNeely, vice chairman of the state Republican Party, scoffs at the idea that Georgia is at any risk of turning blue.
“We can agree that the demographics are changing,” McNeely said, noting state GOP efforts like rechartering the Morehouse College Republicans and hiring a minority outreach director. “However, the beliefs of people and the fact that this is a conservative state are not.”

And there’s a lot to support that view. Republicans control every partisan statewide office and have a supermajority in the state Legislature. The last Democrat to carry the state in a presidential race was Bill Clinton in 1992. President Barack Obama’s reelection campaign looked early on at trying to put the state in play, but the idea never made it beyond a whiteboard exercise.
Of states where Obama didn’t campaign or spend money, Georgia yielded the best results: 45.5 percent. The question that Obama campaign staffers had then and continue to ask is whether that’s a floor or a ceiling.

From a distance, the Democratic movement this year could look like a deliberate, long-laid plan from a state party that’s doing what state parties are supposed to do. First get Nunn, the daughter of beloved former Georgia Sen. Sam Nunn and herself the former head of George H.W. Bush’s Points of Light Foundation, to run for the Senate seat in 2014. Maybe she wins, but if not, she sets herself up to run for what could be another open Senate in 2016 (there’s speculation that Sen. Johnny Isakson will retire, though he insists he’s gearing up to run).

Read more:

Then get Carter, heir to the other great Georgia Democratic name, to run up the tally as the gubernatorial candidate. Fill up a diverse slate of candidates running for all 10 statewide offices, and hope that their combined appeal lifts the entire ticket.
“To say someone sat down and drew this out, to say this was a master plan, is not what happened,” chuckled DuBose Porter, a former speaker pro tempore of the state House and 2010 gubernatorial candidate who’s the new state Democratic chairman. He acknowledges, however, that he was nudged along by conversations he had early on with Nunn and Carter, as well as promising signs in polling.

A year ago, there wasn’t anyone to draw a master plan. The last Democratic state chair had been forced to resign in May 2013 after being suspended by the Georgia Bar and reprimanded for ethical violations. The party communications director was the only staffer left on the payroll, the only one showing up for work every day at the headquarters in a large industrial loft space down by the Atlanta waterworks, where a visitor is more likely to find a gourmet ice cream shop and Anthropologie outpost than the miles of fast food-filled strip malls that line much of the city’s vast suburbs.

“A lot of us were banking on 2016, 2018, because that was when the numbers showed things changing,” said Rebecca DeHart, now the Georgia Democrats’ executive director. “But then Michelle Nunn got into the race.”

At party headquarters, DeHart has dubbed her office the “Max Cleland Suite” — after the one-term Democratic senator from the state who lost reelection in 2002 — while Porter’s is the “Jimmy Carter Suite.” The big meeting table is in their “Situation Room,” where, as it happens, the red chairs tend to collapse when they’re sat on but the blue chairs are more reliable. But most of the action happens in the open area at the far end of the office where they’ve been training canvassers every Thursday and Friday, trying to rebuild 159 different county parties, one door knocker at a time.

Democratic insiders say it’s not that Carter is running so much better than they expected — though he is one of only two gubernatorial challengers in the country to outraise the incumbent during the last fundraising quarter — but that Deal is running worse. That’s a consequence of the 2 inches of snow that managed to paralyze metro Atlanta at the end of January and a scandal around fundraising for his 2010 campaign that have hurt his poll numbers. In a sign of how seriously the GOP is taking Carter, the Republican Governors Association spent a reported half-million dollars last month on an attack ad against the Democratic nominee.

Nunn, meanwhile, is seen by Democrats as their most promising nonincumbent candidate of 2014, with the best shot at flipping a GOP Senate seat. A win by her could mean the difference between keeping the chamber or not. Waiting out the Republican runoff, she’s been a very quiet presence as the Republican free-for-all primary and tough runoff unfolded, sticking mostly to smaller events away from the media glare.

For Nunn or Carter, winning will take more than pulling ahead in November. If no candidate gets over 50 percent on Nov. 4, a runoff will occur on Dec. 2 in the Senate race or on Jan. 6 in the governor’s contest. For a state party that is still putting itself together, getting Democrats to the polls twice in an off-year might be too much to ask.
or now, though, Nunn and Carter are counting on each other and the changes in Georgia.
“The campaigns are different. The issues are different. But there is a huge amount of energy in our state for something new,” Carter said at the Wal-Mart.

Nunn and Carter are both pitching themselves to voters as moderate Democrats, but Republicans are working to link the pair to unpopular leaders in Washington.

“Georgia is a very conservative state — socially, fiscally, however you want to determine,” McNeely said, calling Nunn and Carter “left-wing liberals” who, no matter what they say in the campaign, will support the agenda of Obama and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.). “The fact that they are in the race and putting on this pretty packaging doesn’t change the content of that packaging.”

But Virgil Fludd, a Democratic state representative who is campaigning for Carter, said the optimism within the party is palpable.
“It’s a great opportunity for people to start to believe in what they see and what they read,” Fludd said. “Each time there’s a new poll, each time there’s a new report with the money that’s been raised and where it’s coming from, it starts to reinforce what people believe could happen.”
4) Is Anything Obama's Fault?

President Obama blamed the recent influx of unaccompanied children crossing our southern border on violence in Central America. I expected the usual media suspects to support Obama’s narrative, as well as the ever-popular Blame-Bush excuse. I did not expect the usually more rational Wall Street Journal, and specifically Mary Anastasia O’Grady (whom I had admired), to support them.
“Well, I think, Paul, what you have is a combination of factors, both push-and-pull factors. So from Central America, you have lots of crime and violence… the effect of the war on drugs in Central America has created chaos and a breakdown of institutions in Central America… And the pull factors, I think, are, first of all, most important, is an asylum opportunity that children have because of a law passed in 2008 during the Bush administration --”
There they go again: violence in Central America and, of course, Bush. It’s everyone’s fault except Obama’s. (By the way, the 2008 Wilberforce bill was sponsored by a California Democrat and passed in the Senate with “unanimous consent” when Barack Obama was a Senator. Bush signed it after Obama had won the election in November.)
Let’s go to the tape (which I first touched on last week). The US Border Patrolprovides the numbers of unaccompanied children apprehended at the border for fiscal years 2009 through June of 2014. The graph below shows the numbers for El Salvador and Guatemala.
It is obvious that there has been an explosion in these border-crossing numbers, and only after 2011. The numbers for Honduras, the third country most contributing to this explosion, would present a similar graph. (Note that the numbers for 2014 are only through June, or through 9 of the 12 months of the fiscal year.)
Now look at the evidence on Central American violence and the drug war. First, the Drug War has been around for over 40 years. It would not contribute to a sudden jump in 2012 unless some drug war policy changed since about 2011.
The homicide rates for El Salvador and Guatemala, as provided by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (most recent data is for 2012), indicate no recent upswing in violence in those countries. First, the murder rate in those countries has been significantly higher than that of the US for many years -- 5 to 10 times higher.
But for both countries, the murder rate has been declining since 2005 (linear regression), and declining more rapidly since 2009.
(It is true that the murder rate in Honduras has been increasing since 2006. But if the trend in child apprehensions from Honduras is similar to those of El Salvador and Guatemala, but the murder rate trends are opposite, wouldn’t that indicate that violence is not the cause of the recent border crossings by unattended children?)
The War On Drugs has been with us since 1970. The Wilberforce Act became law in 2008. The murder rates in El Salvador and Guatemala were declining from 2005 through 2012. Yet the number of children crossing the border was fairly low and steady through 2011 -- a full three years after the 2008 law.
My “keen grasp of the obvious” criterion says we should be looking for things that changed in late 2011 or early 2012 for the most likely causes of the explosion in child border crossings.
Did anything change around then? Yes, two things, maybe three, all authored by President Obama.
  • In August 2011, Obama directed ICE to use “prosecutorial discretion” to keep its hands off children here illegally (under the guise of prioritizing criminal aliens).
  • In June 2012, Obama made that policy more formal with his DREAM executive order. Children would not be deported.
  • If there were any recent changes in our drug policies or drug war execution in Central America, they happened comfortably into Obama’s term in office.
This seems simple to me. In 2011 Obama let it be known that the US will not deport children, and in 2012 the number of children crossing the border exploded.
Did the people of El Salvador just find out about a 2008 US law in 2012? Did a decline in murder rates accompany an increase in other violence and corruption in Central America? Did Drug War polices in place prior to 2009 cause Central America’s murder rates to decline from 2005 through 2012, yet also cause children to leave there unattended 2012-14?
The standard explanations do not compute. The logic of O’Grady is, at best, pure post hoc ergo propter hoc. But her explanations don’t even pass a first-order smell test of critical thinking.
Obama has been President for 5½ years. He might just be responsible for something by now.
(By the way, I was never a fan of the Drug War in the first place. I had never heard of the Wilberforce Act until recently. I don’t defend either one; eliminate them both if you like. But to blame the recent influx of children across our border on them is, well, stupid.)
  • US Customs and Border Protection.
  • United Nations Office on Drugs and
  • ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  • 4)  Why Does Hamas Want War?
    by Daniel Pipes

  • Politicians start wars optimistic about their prospects of gaining from combat, Geoffrey Blainey notes in his masterly study, The Causes of War; otherwise, they would avoid fighting.
  • Why, then, did Hamas just provoke a war with Israel? Out of nowhere, on June 11 it began launching rockets, shattering a calm in place since November 2012. The mystery of this outburst prompted David Horovitz, editor of the Times of Israel, to find that the current fighting has "no remotely credible reason" even to be taking place. And why did the Israeli leadership respond minimally, trying to avoid combat? This although both sides know that Israel's forces vastly out-match Hamas' in every domain – intelligence gathering, command and control, technology, firepower, domination of air space.
    What explains this role reversal? Are Islamists so fanatical that they don't mind losing? Are Zionists too worried about loss of life to fight?
    Actually, Hamas leaders are quite rational. Periodically (2006, 2008, 2012), they decide to make war on Israel knowing full well that they will lose on the military battlefield but optimistic about winning in the political arena. Israeli leaders, conversely, assume they will win militarily but fear political defeat – bad press, United Nations resolutions, and so on.
    The focus on politics represents a historic shift; the first 25 years of Israel's existence saw repeated challenges to its existence (especially in 1948-49, 1967, and 1973) and no one knew how those wars would turn out. I remember the first day of the 1967 Six-Day War, when the Egyptians proclaimed splendid triumphs while complete Israeli press silence suggested catastrophe. It came as a shock to learn that Israel had scored the greatest victory in the annals of warfare. The point is, outcomes were unpredictably decided on the battlefield.
    No longer: The battlefield outcome of Arab-Israeli wars in last 40 years have been predictable; everyone knows Israeli forces will prevail. It's more like cops and robbers than warfare. Ironically, this lopsidedness turns attention from winning and losing to morality and politics. Israel's enemies provoke it to kill civilians, whose deaths bring them multiple benefits.
    The four conflicts since 2006 have restored Hamas' tarnished reputation for "resistance," built solidarity on the home front, stirred dissent among both Arabs and Jews in Israel, galvanized Palestinians and other Muslims to become suicide bombers, embarrassed non-Islamist Arab leaders, secured new United Nations resolutions bashing Israel, inspired Europeans to impose harsher sanctions on Israel, opened the international Left's spigot of vitriol against the Jewish state, and won additional aid from the Islamic Republic of Iran.
    The holy grail of political warfare is to win the sympathy of the global Left by presenting oneself as underdog and victim. (From a historic point of view, it bears pointing out, this is very strange: Traditionally, combatants tried to scare the enemy by presenting themselves as fearsome and unstoppable.)
    The tactics of this new warfare include presenting a convincingly emotional narrative, citing endorsements of famous personalities, appealing to the conscience, and drawing simple but powerful political cartoons (Israeli supporters tend to excel at this, both in the past and now). Palestinians get even more creative, developing the twin fraudulent techniques of "fauxtography" for still pictures and "Pallywood" for videos. Israelis used to be complacent about the need for what they call hasbara, or getting the message out, but recent years find them more focused on this.
    Hilltops, cities, and strategic roadways matter supremely in the Syria and Iraqi civil wars, but morality, proportionality, and justice dominate Arab-Israeli wars. As I wrote during the 2006Israel-Hamas confrontation, "Solidarity, morale, loyalty, and understanding are the new steel, rubber, oil, and ammunition." Or in 2012: "Opeds have replaced bullets, social media have replaced tanks." More broadly, this is part of the profound change in modern warfare when Western and non-Western forces fight, as in the U.S.-led wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. In Clausewitzian terms, public opinion is the new center of gravity.
    All this said, how fares Hamas? Not well. Its battlefield losses since July 8 appear higher than expected and worldwide condemnations of Israel have yet to pour in. Even the Arabic media are relatively quiet. If this pattern holds, Hamas might conclude that raining rockets on Israeli homes is not such a good idea. Indeed, to dissuade it from initiating another assault in a few years, it needs to lose both the military and the political wars, and lose them very badly.
    Mr. Pipes ( is president of the Middle East Forum.

  • 6) Examining the Terrorist Threat from America's Southern Border 
  • By Scott Stewart

  • On July 21, Texas Gov. Rick Perry announced he was deploying 1,000 members of the Texas National Guard to the Mexican border to help strengthen border security. The move is the latest in a chain of events involving the emigration of Central Americans that has become heavily publicized -- and politicized.
    Clearly, illegal immigration flows are shifting from Arizona and California to Texas. In fiscal year 2013, the Rio Grande Valley Border Patrol sector surpassed Tucson as the leading sector for the number of apprehensions (154,453 in Rio Grande Valley versus 120,939 for Tucson). Also, between fiscal 2011 and 2013 (all Border Patrol data is recorded by fiscal year), the number of "other than Mexicans" -- mostly Central Americans -- apprehended in the Rio Grande Valley sector increased by more than 360 percent, from 20,890 to 96,829. (By comparison, the Tucson sector apprehended 19,847 "other than Mexicans" in 2013. Significantly, minors constituted a large percentage of the "other than Mexicans" apprehended in the Rio Grande Valley in 2013: 21,553 (compared to 9,070 in Tucson sector). However, the majority (84 percent) of those labeled Unaccompanied Alien Children by the Border Patrol are teenage minors and not younger children.
    Lost in all the media hype over this "border crisis" is the fact that in 2013 overall immigration was down significantly from historical levels. According to U.S. Border Patrol apprehension statistics, there were only 420,789 apprehensions in 2013 compared to 1,160,395 in 2004. In fact, from fiscal 1976 to 2010, apprehensions never dropped below 500,000. During that same period, the Border Patrol averaged 1,083,495 apprehensions per year compared to just 420,789 last year.
    Of course, apprehension statistics are not an accurate count of total immigration and do not account for those who cross without being caught, and the statistics are also slightly skewed by the fact that Unaccompanied Alien Minors are far more likely to surrender to authorities rather than attempt to avoid them. In 2011, the Border Patrol apprehended 4,059 unaccompanied children; by 2013 that number had reached 38,759. Year to date, the Border Patrol has apprehended more than 46,000 unaccompanied children and estimates it will apprehend around 60,000 total in 2014. Still, overall, the Border Patrol will apprehend and process hundreds of thousands fewer people this year than it did each fiscal year from 1976 until 2010.

    This type of hype and politicization of the U.S.-Mexico border is not new. It is something that has surfaced at irregular intervals for years now, along with scaremongering using the boogeyman of terrorism, and it appears to be happening again.
    I've recently done a number of media interviews regarding immigration, and during several of these interviews, reporters have asked me the question: "Does the crisis on the border give terrorists an opportunity to sneak into the country?" While other border security analysts have told reporters that they believe terrorists would take advantage of the border crisis and that the cartels would be willing to work with terrorists for the right price, I disagree. I believe that an analysis of the history of plots directed against the U.S. homeland from overseas and an examination of the changes in the dynamics of transnational terrorism show such claims to be unfounded.

    No Link to the U.S.-Mexico Border

    As chaos has wracked Mexican towns just south of the U.S. border such as Nuevo Laredo, Reynosa, Juarez and Tijuana, there has been repeated speculation that al Qaeda could partner with some street gang or Mexican cartel to smuggle terrorist operatives or weapons into the United States to conduct a spectacular terrorist attack.
    For example, in 2005, rumors were frequently published on a popular web media outlet claiming that al Qaeda had smuggled several tactical nuclear devices into the United States with the help of the Salvadoran Mara Salvatrucha street gang. According to the rumors, al Qaeda was planning to launch ahorrific surprise nuclear attack against several U.S. cities in what was termed "American Hiroshima." Clearly this never happened.
    But American fearmongers are not the only ones who can cause a panic. In a 2009 speech, radical Kuwaiti university professor Abdullah al-Nafisi talked about the possibility that jihadists could smuggle anthrax in a suitcase through a drug tunnel on the U.S.-Mexico border, a claim that sparked considerable concern because it came on the heels of other hyped-up anthrax threats.
    However, an examination of all jihadist plots since the first such attack in the United States -- the November 1990 assassination of the radical founder of the Jewish Defense League, Meir Kahane -- shows that none had any U.S.-Mexico border link. Indeed, as we've noted elsewhere, there have been more plots against the U.S. homeland that have involved the U.S.-Canada border, including the 1997 plot to bomb the New York Subway and the Millennium Bomb Plot. But by and large, most terrorists, including those behind the 1993 World Trade Center bombing and the 9/11 attacks, have entered the United States by flying directly to the country. There is not one jihadist attack or thwarted plot in which Mexican criminal organizations smuggled the operative into the United States.
    There was one bumbling plot by Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps in which Manssor Arbabsiar, a U.S. citizen born in Iran and residing in Texas, traveled to Mexico in an attempt to contract a team of Mexican cartel hit men to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to the United States. Instead of Los Zetas, he encountered a U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration informant and was set up for a sting. There is no evidence that an actual Mexican cartel leader would have accepted the money Arbabsiar offered for the assassination.
    Mexican criminal leaders have witnessed U.S. government operations against al Qaeda and the pressure that the U.S. government can put on an organization that has been involved in an attack on the U.S. homeland. Mexican organized crime bosses are businessmen, and even if they were morally willing to work with terrorists -- a questionable assumption -- working with a terrorist group would be bad for business. It is quite doubtful that Mexican crime bosses would risk their multibillion-dollar smuggling empires for a one-time payment from a terrorist group. It is also doubtful that an ideologically driven militant group like a jihadist organization would trust a Mexican criminal organization with its weapons and personnel.

    Changes in Terrorist Dynamics

    Another factor to consider is the changes in the way militant groups have operated against the United States since 9/11. Because of increased counterterrorism operations and changes in immigration policies intended to help combat terrorist travel, it has become increasingly difficult for terrorist groups to get trained operatives into the United States.
    Even jihadist groups such as al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula have been forced to undertake remote operations involving bombs placed aboard aircraft overseas rather than placing operatives in the country. This indicates that the group does not have the ability or the network to support such operatives. In addition to remote operations launched from its base in Yemen, al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula has also undertaken efforts to radicalize grassroots operatives residing in the United States, equipping them with easy-to-follow instructions for attack through its English-language magazine, Inspire.
    This focus on radicalizing and equipping grassroots operatives is also reflected in the fact that the majority of the attacks and failed plots inside the United States since 2001 have involved such grassroots operatives rather than trained terrorists. These operatives are either U.S. citizens, such as Nidal Hasan, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev and Faisal Shahzad, or resident aliens such as Najibullah Zazi. Failed shoe bomber Richard Reid was traveling on a British passport (no U.S. visa required) and the would-be underwear bomber, Umar Farouk
    Could a terrorist operative take advantage of the U.S.-Mexico border? Possibly. Is one likely to attempt such a crossing when so much publicity and extra enforcement has been directed to that border? Probably not.

  • Abdulmutallab, had obtained a valid U.S. visa. The operatives had the ability to legally reside in the United States or to enter the country legally without having to sneak across the border from Mexico.  
  • ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Obama Air Can't Land in Israel! That Smidgen Just Got Smudged!

Is the immigration invasion getting out of hand! You  decide.

Obama Airlines refuses to land in Israel.  (See 1 below.)
Those who know me know I love art and our home is filled with art, art objects etc.  Many purchased during our travels.

I also serve on the Board of The Sate Museum, housed on the Univ.of Ga. Campus.  That said, I am
not a devotee of Jon McNaughton's stylized art nor that produced by many of his staff but I must confess the painting below speaks to me!

If you are familiar with Jon McNaughton's paintings, this is his latest---his opinions on the current situation are stated clearly by his paintbrush and his comments below.

Many Americans today feel a sense of dismay and horror as we see our country in a downward spiral; economically, morally, and politically.

President Obama's indifferent attitude and the continuous list of scandals and bad policy are leading the country to ruin. As an artist I am reminded of the old saying "Nero fiddled while Rome burned."   

History believes that Nero himself may have set the great fire that burned
a part of Rome during his leadership.  

Afterwards, he blamed it on the Christians who suffered great persecution under his rule.  I see great
similarities to what we are experiencing today.  Obama fiddled, while the people witnessed the demise of America.   Jon McNaughton

McNaughton could do another painting showing the leader of Iran playing Obama as a violin.  (See 2 below.)
Commentary on peaceful Muslims.  (See 3 below.)

From friend and fellow memo reader now in Israel: "Hi Dick.  ... and I are in Israel and while we have been touring, we are also following events in Gaza which are simply awful.  Hamas is literally dug in to tunnels that extend in to Israel.  They pop out of their holes, dressed as Israeli soldiers, and are attempting to capture Israelis and hold them hostage.  The IDF is having trouble identifying them but once they do, here come the jets."

From another dear friend and fellow memo reader and Israeli who came to America and lives in Atlanta but visiting family in Israel: "In Israel…………………With 2 daughters, 3 grand kids, one son in law (Major in Special Forces) on the Gaza line………………………………………….you don’t want be in my shoes "
That 'smidgen' just got smudged!  (See 4 below.)

-1)1. Foreign airline carriers — all of them — suspended flights to and from Ben Gurion Airport. According to Globes, only Israel’s three airlines — El Al, Arkia, and Israir are “continuing routine operations.” This came after a Hamas rocket struck a house in Yehud, a Tel Aviv suburb five km (three miles) from the airport complex. As a result, Ovda Airport near Eilat will replace Ben Gurion for now.
Israeli officials say the bans amount to rewarding terror, but AP notes that the aviation world is jittery after the downing of a Malaysian Airlines passenger jet over Ukraine. The Christian Science Monitor explains what the airport means to Israel:
Imagine if the United States had only one airport and that driving in and out of the country wasn’t really an option. That should give you an idea of how important Ben Gurion Airport is to both Israel’s economy and its sense of national well-being . . .

The last time major international carriers suspended flights to and from Tel Aviv was in 1991, ahead of and during the first Gulf War, when Saddam Hussein lobbed Scud missiles towards Israel.
El Al

2) Iran is pushing limits on nuclear deal, former Obama advisor warns

Author:  Paul Richter 

When Iran and the world powers trying to negotiate a nuclear deal announced late Friday that they would extend their five-month-old talks for an additional four months, they said they had been making “tangible progress” toward a deal.
But a former member of President Obama's inner circle on the Iran issue says Iran is actually moving further from the six world powers on the most important issue of all: how much uranium enrichment capacity the Islamic Republic will be entitled to retain.

Robert Einhorn, shown in July 2000 when he was assistant secretary of State for non-proliferation
(Jimin Lai / AFP/Getty Images)
Robert Einhorn, who was a special advisor on arms control at the State Department until May 2013, says the Iranians have been quietly extending what they claim they are entitled to on enrichment — what Einhorn calls “rights creep.”
He warns these demands could gridlock the negotiations.
Einhorn's views carry some weight. He is not among those who have been opposed to deal-making from the start. Rather, he has been a supporter of the diplomacy, acknowledges there has been important progress on some issues, and favors the extension.
But he has been worried that the enrichment issue could be an insurmountable stumbling block.
Einhorn, now with the Brookings Institution, wrote in an article for the think tank's website Saturday that for years Iran pushed to have the West acknowledge its right to enrich uranium.
Last year, the Obama administration publicly acknowledged for the first time that it could support Iran having a domestic enrichment program. But now Iran has gone further, contending that it is entitled to produce enough enriched uranium to supply what it hopes will be a huge nuclear power generation program.
The Iranians are now insisting that they be able to have that capability by 2021, although the six powers are demanding, so far, that the deal restricting Iranian nuclear capability should last at least 10 years.
Iran's growing demands became publicly apparent July 7, when Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said in a major speech that Iran needed an enrichment capacity that would require more than 100,000 first-generation centrifuges.
The six powers' opening demand was that Iran be limited to 500 to 1,200 first-generation centrifuges.
Some advocates for a deal have insisted that Khamenei's statements were a positive sign, because he showed flexibility in indicating that he wasn't seeking this huge capacity right away. But Einhorn quotes Ali-Akhbar Salehi, head of Iran's nuclear agency, as clarifying that, in fact, Iran wants the infrastructure 
in place by 2021.
3)   Please don't try to feed me the BS that most Muslim's are peaceful and only the Muslim Terrorists are the bad guys. What we are seeing is mass demonstrations and destruction by what makes up the Muslim neighborhoods in the suburbs of France, Spain, Germany, Detroit, New York, San Francisco, the UK etc.  This is coming to neighborhoods near you in the U.S. and we already have hot spots building up (Dearborn, Michigan), around the good ole U.S.A.  Just sit back and watch while you pick the lint out of your belly buttons thinking it can't happen here!!!!!!!  These are the same people who fill the mosques to pray for the extinction of Jews and Christians everywhere on this earth.

Obamacare's Fraudulent Incentives

By Conn Carroll |

The Government Accountability Officeconfirmed yesterday what conservatives have been warning for years:Obamacare is an open invitation to fraud.
Specifically, GAO Forensic Audits and Investigative Service Acting Director Seto Bagdoyan testified before the House Ways and Means Committee about a GAO investigation that tested Obama administration claims about the internal controls the federal government has set up to prevent fraudulent Obamacare coverage and subsidies.
GAO investigators used fictitious identities and documents to apply for Obamacare coverage on 12 separate occasions. The Obama administration granted coverage and subsidies to 11 of 12 fraudulent applicants. Additionally, as of July 2014, the GAO reported that fake documentation sent for two enrollees had been "verified".
“The total amount of these credits for the 11 approved applications is about $2,500 monthly or about $30,000 annually. We also obtained cost-sharing reduction subsidies, according to marketplace representatives, in at least nine of the 11 cases,” Bagdoyan said.
According to the Congressional Budget Office, Obamacare is set to spend $1.4 trillion on Obamacare subsidies over the next ten years.
Obama's complete failure to prevent fraud in his signature domestic accomplishment even had some liberals questioning the administration. "This lack of oversight just isn’t acceptable," Indiana University School of Medicine professor Aaron Carroll (no relation) blogged, "The GAO should be checking this stuff, and the administration should be responding to it. Let’s see what happens."
Carroll should not hold his breath. Obama has every incentive to get as many "beneficiaries" signed up for Obamacare no matter how fraudulent they are.Democrats have made the number of "Americans" enrolled in Obamacare the defining metric for the law's success. There simply is no penalty for signing up fake people.
True, the IRS will supposedly fine people who "knowingly and willfully" provide false information $250,000. But no one believes the IRS will ever enforce those penalties. Carroll's co-blogger Nicholas Bagley, an assistant professor of law at the University of Michigan, explained to Vox, "The money at stake in any given case is too small, and the process for imposing civil money penalties too cumbersome, to justify much in the way of governmental enforcement."
"I would be surprised if the government decides to spend a lot of government resources on this," added Washington and Lee University law professor Timothy Jost.
In fact, the federal government has a long history of ignoring fraud in welfare programs. Just look at the Earned Income Tax Credit. According to the Inspector General of the Treasury Department, the IRS mails out somewhere between $13.3 billion and $15.6 billion in fraudulent EITC payments every year. That comes out to about 22 to 26 percent of the entire EITC program.
As long as a program's success is defined solely by how many people are benefitting, the federal government will continue to shell out billions in fraudulent payments every year. Obamacare only made that situation much, much worse.