Saturday, March 29, 2008

Do Obama and Hillary Make Jimmy Look Better?

The field has finally narrowed to two Democrat candidates - Obama and Clinton. It has been a bruising campaign. Even delegates from Florida and Michigan have been excluded because of internal party rules. The quip by Will Rogers rings truer with the passing of each day. When asked whether he belonged to an organized political party he said no, he was a Democrat.

Upon closer examination Obama and Clinton are very similar in their approach to our nation's many problems. Neither believe individuals can or should lift themselves by their own boot straps. Both believe government and/or villages are best suited to help and/or raise individuals. Both have secure Liberal voting records, Obama being even more to the Left than Hillary. Their recent proposals for additional regulatory actions are almost parallel. Both want to bring the troops home, both want to raise taxes and both believe "fairness" is what democracy is all about. Roosevelt gave us a great deal of fairness. We are still paying for it.

If Obama and Clinton's policies are similar then, except for their opposite gender, one must look to distinguishing personal traits and characteristics. When one does, except for skin color, they seem fairly "cloned" in this regard as well. Obama struggles with telling the truth and Hillary seldom does. Both are light on executive experience so they have concocted stories that make them bigger than they are. Obama struggles with the Rev. Wright albatross and Hillary is constantly shadowed by her husband's history of an unzipped mouth and trousers.

Both would have us believe their judgement is sound. Obama asks not to be judged by his associations and Hillary constantly asks not to be judged her by her failures.

Then what is left to base one's decision? In Obama's case it is his cadenced empty oratory and in Hillary's, her teary plea about being picked on by aggressive males.

One would hope that a major political party could flush up better candidates but pandering to and controlled by their extreme is why Democrats are in their current dilemma.

As for the Republicans, they have selected a candidate who does not satisfy their extreme. Thus, he is having a hard time raising money, making decisions that do not further alienate his base knowing full well he must capture the middle to win. Recent revelations about Rev. Wright has surely driven many independents into McCain's arms and Hillary's bizarre behaviour, high negatives and inability to tell the truth has begun to sour even her most devoted. It has finally become politically correct to "diss" the Clinton's. I thought I would never live to see the day!

Can McCain capitalize remains the unanswered question?

McCain may not be the choice I would have preferred but when set against the Democrats' two "burnt and bruised offerings," McCain looks better each day. Were the phone to ring at 3AM and were either Obama or Clinton to answer, I would hope they would not hear because after listening to them incessantly at all hours I am completely turned off.

Even Jimmy Carter is beginning to look good in comparison.

Perhaps somewhat over the top to make a point but stop and think about the many subliminal messages Far Left Liberals send and want you to embrace:

Love government, hate WalMart

Love unions, despise corporations

Worship Socialism, distrust Capitalism

Respect trial attorneys, suspect business executives

Welcome rules and regulations,encumber free markets

Love the poor, hate the rich

Embrace Pelosi and Reid, reject Neo-cons

Believe our Allies, doubt GW

Protect terrorist's right to privacy, sue telephone companies

Save domestic jobs, restrict global trade

Go green, don't develop indigenous resources

Complain about gasoline prices, don't build refineries

Believe Al Gore, disregard scientific evidence

Worship the New York Times, sneer at religion

Accept political correctness, curb free speech

Increase taxes, decrease competitiveness

Mock Cheney, ignore Rev. Wright and Michelle Obama

Everything is relative, there are no absolutes

Multi-culturism in, nationalism out

I could go on but I hope by now you get the point. I admit I have stretched to make you aware of the many inconsistencies of far Left thinking, how it, all too often, defies logic and is quite anti-reality. Extremes in one direction beget counter extremes. Over the years we have turned centrality into barbell government. This is why, in my opinion, the political scene has become so rancorous, contentious and so out of touch with where most people mentally and philosophically reside. The many issues facing any society are complex and are made more so by its non--homogeneity. Therefore, we must still consider America to be a challenged experiment.

This is certainly what Sen. Obama wants us to think about. I do not believe he has the correct prescription but I give him high marks for bringing it to the fore. Though I am sure he would not have done so had he not been compelled by the revelations of his minister.

This in part, I believe, explains why we have become more disunited. When you fail to love your country, disbelieve its motives and express contempt for its leaders, it is little wonder you become despised by others who also resent your success. Our allies may feign outward concern but they cheer inwardly when we are on our knees partly because of jealousy but mostly because, subconsciously, they fear they see themselves.

Abbas may have had his own reasons for his harsh rhetoric and lies in Damascus. If Abbas was posturing and throwing down the gauntlet to the Israelis, it will not make Sec. Rice's job easier. She is in the Middle East for trilateral talks between the Palestinians and Israelis. (See 1 below.)

Dutch film maker and member of their Parliament releases a film deriding Islam at the risk of his life and his first attacker is the U.N.'s Sec. General,Moon. (See 2 below.)

Sarah Honig does not find Swiss chocolate appealing nor their recent gas deal with Iran. (See 3 below.)

1)Abbas’ virulent anti-Israel rhetoric in Damascus greets Rice’s arrival to promote peace mission

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice arrived in Tel Aviv Saturday night for a three-day push to breathe life into the fading Israel-Palestinian peace negotiations. She plans to join sessions between foreign minister Tzipi Livni and Palestinian negotiator Ahmed Qureia and talks between defense minister Ehud Barak and Palestinian prime minister Salam Fayyad, a trilateral format representing the first direct US intervention in the peace process.

At the Arab League summit in Damascus, Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas accused Israel of collective punishment against the Palestinian people and called on the Arabs and international community to help protect them.

Likud parliamentary leader Gideon Saar called his words a resounding slap on the face to prime minister Ehud Olmert, Ehud Barak and President Peres who advocate concessions to the PA such as the transfer of side-arms.

He said unilateral concessions jeopardize Israel’s security and distance the prospect of peace.

The Libyan ruler Muammar Qaddafi declared that Israel’s retreat to 1967 borders was not enough. Does Palestine consist only of Gaza and the West Bank? he asked. He demanded a “unified popular Palestinian state” and the return of Palestinian refugees to their homes.

2) Fitna the movie defeating Islamic censorship
By Andrew Walden

Nothing makes people want to see something more than banning it, or even better yet, telling them they may not be able to handle it (remember the Blair Witch Project?). On that basis, the new film Fitna, must be pulling in internet viewers by the tens of millions.

Everyone who's anyone in the "world community", from the Dutch Prime Minister to the OIC to the EU to the UN, is telling the world this is mighty hateful stuff.

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is denouncing the internet premier of Fitna, claiming,

"The right of free expression is not at stake here,"

But Ban seems to imply there may be limits,

"...there is no justification for hate speech or incitement to violence."

Oddly he was talking about the movie, not the Islamic violence portrayed in it, or that which is feared in response to it. In doing so, Ban places the UN at the head of the Islamic mobs which do indeed put the right of free expression at stake here.

Fitna, Arabic for "strife" or "disturbance", is the work of filmmaker and Dutch Member of Parliament Geert Wilders. Wilders point is clear: Islamist terror is neither a distortion nor a departure from Koranic teaching. Terrorists are following the instructions of the Koran to the letter.

Unable to find a Dutch television channel brave enough to play the video, Wilders went to the internet. But even the internet-based world premier of Fitna was temporarily blocked by fearful Internet registrar Network Solutions. This is the first time any website has been peremptorily removed from the allegedly free-flowing internet. But after its producers found another web host willing to stand up to Islamist retaliation, Fitna is finally available on-line.

View Fitna here in English. If this site is disabled go to this link to find a new viewing location.

Within two hours, 1.5 million people had viewed it in either English or Dutch. By the time you read this, who knows?

In producing Fitna, Wilders follows in the footsteps of Theo van Gogh. The great-grandsonof Vincent van Gogh's brother (the movie Vincent & Theo was about the brothers), Theo was brutally shot and stabbed to death on an Amsterdam street November 3, 2004. This was in retaliation for directing the short feature video Submission, which focuses on Koranic instructions for violence against women.

His murderer was a Muslim who impaled a manifesto of Koranic verses complaining about Van Gogh's movie to his chest. After the director's murder, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, the writer of Submission, was eventually stripped of her seat in the Dutch Parliament and forced into exile by the Dutch government. Following in the footsteps of an earlier generation of European exiles, she is now living in the United States with a position at the American Enterprise Institute.

You can view Submission here. (It appears that part 2 is missing, however).

Release of Fitna is causing panic in Dutch political circles. Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende says Wilders' movie "threatens the nation."


It is Islamic violence which threatens Holland and all of Europe. Exactly as in the 1930s, it is the weakness of European leaders which allows the threat to grow. Just as the League of Nations refused to stand up to fascism in pre-WW2 Europe, the United Nations grovels before Islam today.

But they do more that grovel. Out of fear they have actually taken up the work of Islam and are enforcing the Islamic law against "blasphemy" while the Islamists stand by approvingly. The role of the world's leaders of Liberal Democracy in enforcing Islamic Law echoes the Koranic description of Armageddon (al-Malhamah al-Kubrah in Arabic). In it, Jesus returns to Earth at Damascus, becomes a Muslim and leads the Muslims in slaughtering all the Christians and Jews. As the Hadith explains;

"When the liar [the Christian enemies of Islam] will see Jesus, he will start dissolving like the salt in water."

Apparently the Islamists expect that civil libertarians will similarly "dissolve" in the face of their leaders' treachery.

Likewise, the Dutch Islamic Federation is so far avoiding street action or assassination and instead is going after Wilders in the courts, hoping to see that the Dutch and possibly European Union judiciary will serve Islam by jettisoning free speech and enforcing Islamic law. They demand a 50,000 Euro ($79,000) daily fine. Under Dutch "hate speech" laws, the Court very well may do just that. The expulsion of Ayaan Hirsi Ali was more satisfying than the murder of Theo van Gogh. The gradual bankrupting and then likely expulsion of Wilders would be equally satisfying. He will serve as an example to others.

Dutch protesters are also serving Islam, 3000 staging a March 22 street demonstration to denounce the movie (which they had not yet seen) and distance Holland from it. In Mumbai, India dozens performed civil disobedience, accepting arrest to protest the film. A statement issued by the World Muslim Congress emphasized how many Hindus and Christians were willing to do Islam's work for it.

Meanwhile Muslims are feigning outrage at Wilders' assertion that Islamic violence is rooted in the Koran and are still promising to riot. The Grand Mufti of Syria has determined that Wilders will be solely responsible for all the carnage -- an assertion apparently echoed by the Dutch government, the UN and by street demonstrators.

The Grand Mufti did not clarify whether current world-wide Islamic riots would be stopped in order to commence new riots over the movie -- or if the existing conflagrations will simply be re-branded and re-directed by local Islamic leaders.

But as yet -- 24 hours later -- there have been no apparent orchestrated outbreaks of violence. Islam may wish to watch the spectacle of the once-mighty Western Powers jettisoning their basic beliefs in order to submit to the will of Islam. Nothing better shows potential jihadis just how weak and decadent their enemy has become. No better terrorist recruitment tool exists.

Wilders is risking his life in order to bring this message to the world. To view it and even more important -- to publicly show it -- defeats the Islamist claim that the West, unlike some of its leaders, is prepared to submit to Islam.

3) Another Tack: No Swiss surprise

Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and her urbane entourage are reportedly stunned by neutral Switzerland's hardly neutral multi-billion-dollar gas deal with Iran. No sooner had new Swiss ambassador Walter Haffner presented his credentials here last week than he faced a dressing-down by the ministerial Western European Desk chief.

It goes without saying that nothing less than a major upset could have elicited such uncharacteristic ferocity from Tzipi's tame sticklers for protocol. Wringing their hands in disbelief, Israel's diplomats moaned that Switzerland had "sold its principles" for cold, hard cash.

But that's a silly complaint. Switzerland could no more have sold its principles than it could have sold its soul to the devil. For all its syrupy sanctimony, it has no principles - much less a soul. Switzerland is no rookie at playing footsie for profit with genocidal tyrants, especially the sort not overly enamored of Jews.

It has long aspired to match its Alpine chocolate-box prettiness with claims of lofty moral beauty. Neutrality is but one expression of its self-ascribed virtue. The Red Cross is another. Founded and based in Geneva, its stated mission is to alleviate suffering regardless of nationality, race, religion, class or politics. Its passivity - if not far worse - toward European Jewry's bitter fate during the Holocaust is a matter of indisputable record.

Already soon after WWI, goody-goody Switzerland experienced great angst about a dreaded Jewish influx, dubbed at the time uberjudung (over-Judaization). The Swiss penchant for marking personal documents with "Js" or Stars of David was born then. It kicked into extra high-gear when German Jews began to desperately flee the increasingly ominous Third Reich. Compassionate Switzerland was so leery of admitting them that its vetting criteria meshed with Nazi racist designations.

SWITZERLAND'S immigration policy studiously and shamelessly adhered to the letter of the Nuremberg laws. Visas were required of "non-Aryans" and, to erase any possible lingering doubts, Bern persuaded Berlin to stamp the passports of all departing Jews (even if they possessed Swiss citizenship) with a big, glaring red "J." The Swiss government itself publicly apologized for the J-stamp on March 8, 1995.

After the Final Solution was officially inaugurated at Wannsee in 1942, Switzerland closed off its borders altogether. This, judged the Swiss-ordained Independent Commission of Experts (ICE) in its 2002 report, "made it more difficult for refugees to reach safety, and by handing over the refugees caught directly to their persecutors, the Swiss authorities were instrumental in helping the Nazi regime attain its goals."

With no punches pulled, the above means nothing less than collaboration in mass-murder. The Swiss turned away tens of thousands of Jews, sending them to certain, cruel death. Their blood indelibly stains Switzerland's reputation.

Without even touching on the business of banking hanky-panky and greed-gratifying benefits reaped by Switzerland from the incomparable Jewish tragedy, Switzerland did well for itself via exports of war materials to Hitler's Germany, extending it credit, all manner of financial underpinning and loot-laundering services. All this time, Switzerland gloried in resplendent neutrality, which, in the oblique phrasing of the ICE report, was "inappropriately invoked to justify not only decisions made in all kinds of spheres, but also inaction on part of the state."

Clearly yesteryear's Swiss weren't excessively concerned even by the hypothetical risk of protracting the war. Their refrain back in the 1940s was almost identical to current Swiss Foreign Minister Micheline Calmy-Rey's assertion that "Switzerland is an independent country which has its own strategic interests to defend."

In other words, then as now, if there's a bundle to be made, Switzerland will without compunction trade with pathological Jew-haters - who inter alia also pose imminent danger to the entire free world. It betrayed helpless asylum-seekers and buttressed Hitler's economy despite his blaring threats to annihilate all Jews. Likewise, it helps fortify Ahmadinejad's economy despite his blaring threats to annihilate the Jewish state.

Calmy-Rey has never missed an opportunity to reproach Israel for "disproportionate" responses to any and all terrorist outrages. Concomitantly, she is exceedingly sparing in even the minutest display of sympathy for Israeli suffering. Her selective humanitarianism enables her to pooh-pooh Teheran's nuclear buildup, terror sponsorship and human rights abuses.

In the hallowed name of neutrality she mounted a pilgrimage to Iran to "witness" the signing of that momentous 25-year gas-supply contract. Sporting a sheer white headscarf - so as not to offend Ahmadinejad's famous sensibilities - she lent a higher profile, prestige and legitimacy to the occasion. Thumbing her nose at fellow western democracies, Calmy-Rey emboldens Ahmadinejad as even few of the more cynical appeasement-minded EU statesmen dare.

BY CALMY-REY'S reckoning, her personal stamp of approval alone suffices to justify and elevate any caprice to the moral high ground. She is the ultimate arbitrator of righteousness. In the name of superior Swiss rectitude, the hyperactive socialist pushed for "alternative negotiations" with Iran, promoted (and financed) the Meretz-brand Geneva Initiative and advocated that the Red Cross replace the verboten Star of David with a meaningless red "crystal." Her combination of guile and smile has made her one of her country's more popular politicos, to the extent that she was elected Swiss federal president for 2007. In that capacity she responded to Ahmadinejad's Holocaust-denial conference by proposing in the tactless spirit of her "active neutrality" that Switzerland host no less than an international symposium on "the varying perspectives of the Holocaust." Ahmadinejad was to be invited to voice his version, while Calmy-Rey was, presumably, to hold court as the upright impartial moderator.

Thankfully, the Swiss government was embarrassed enough to nip her notion in the bud. A pseudo-academic deliberation on whether the Holocaust ever took place would have been too discomfiting for the country that capitalized so unstintingly on the enormous Jewish bloodletting.
But no such unease limits lucrative commercial ties with the Middle East's Hitler wannabe. These remain as compelling as were the ultra-rewarding transactions with the original WWII-model Fuehrer. Hence Israeli shock is as preposterous as Livni's premise that other states share Israel's goal to isolate rogue regimes. This is no Swiss surprise. Just more of the same.

Damascus Provides Stage for Arab Disunity!

Soon many will be receiving their "$600 -1200 candy" from the government. I probably won't because I earn beyond the cut-off but it is just as well because I doubt I would buy anything anyway so I would not be helping propel our economy upward and out of its current malaise. These checks are meant to provide an economic stimulus just as another fix would be for a dope addict or another bottle of booze would be to an alcoholic. We already spend too much so the political cure is spend more. Makes sense if you want to perpetuate the problem.

A little information on taxes that should be of interest. Give the politicians more and they will spend it and then some. They too know about leverage. (See 1 below.)

I find it ironic that Democrats haven't done anything distinguishing since re-capturing control of Congress but "to the victor belongs the spoils" and things continue to "spoil" in Disney East as Reid and Pelosi pursue their rancorous management of the Senate and House. Partisanship is as rife as ever.

Apparently Republican legislators are still held to a higher level of expectation because Democrats have been in control of Congress for most of the past 50 years. Voters seem to have become complacent with their incompetence. Voters occasionally turn to Republicans out of frustration but quickly lose faith when they also blow it.

One day, perhaps, voters will connect our nation's systemic and endemic problems with past excessively Liberal legislation that, empirically speaking, persistently falls far short of its billing. Until they do, Republicans failures will continue to quickly become their own undoing.

While Republicans are expected to stick to their conservative philosophy, Democrats are seen as progressive and thus, seem to be given a wider latitude and consequently, voters have come to expect and accept "anything goes."

Otherwise, how can one explain Sen. Obama's popularity. Granted he is running against an opponent with high negatives, who wakes up every morning trying to decide who she is. Sen. Obama may be bright but his legislative record is so thin you can see through it. He may be a gifted orator but like Wilson's Music Man, his "change" pitch reminds me of that old song: "Everything Old is New Again."

I guess we are a nation presently so down on itself we are vulnerable to the mellifluous but empty pitch of a political messiah. How sad.

A new twist to the Hariri investigation by the U.N.'s new Canadian investigator. (See 2 below.)

Abbas blasts Israel as Damascus Conference begins and states it has rejected all peace overtures for 3 decades. Abbas also stated Syria was ready to assist in ending the political crisis in Lebanon. Lebanon's F.M. Siniora, accused Syria of meddling in Lebanon's affairs. Syria's FM accused the U.S. of applying pressure on Arab States not to attend the conference. And so it goes when Arabs come together for a unity meeting. (See 3 below.)

What is the Arab World's press saying about the Damascus Conference. (See 4 below.)

Peggy Noonan exposes Hillary and suggests people are finally beginning to get it, even New Yorkers. After all these years,it took the Bosnia tapes to convincingly demonstrate Hillary is a pathological liar. The liar virus seems to run in the family.

Where have people's heads been all these years? Don't answer!(See 5 below)


1) Careful how you vote and what you vote for.

Taxes after Clinton 1999 Taxes after Bush 2008

Single making 30K - tax $8,400 Single making 30K - tax $4,500
Single making 50K - tax $14,000 Single making 50K - tax $12,500
Single making 75K - tax $23,250 Single making 75K - tax $18,750
Married making 60K - tax $16,800 Married making 60K- tax $9,000
Married making 75K - tax $21,000 Married making 75K - tax $18,750
Married making 125K - tax $38,750 Married making 125K - tax $31,250

2)UN investigator: Lebanese ex-PM Hariri murdered by “criminal network”

In his first report Friday, March 28, Daniel Bellemare of Canada, head of the UN International Independent Investigation Commission, also connects this criminal network, or parts thereof, with 20 subsequent “terrorist attacks” in Lebanon that killed 61 people and injured close to 500. Eleven targeted anti-Syrian politicians and journalists.

The commission said the evidence indicated that the network of individuals who “acted in concert” existed before the assassination of the former Lebanese prime minister Rafiq Hariri in central Beirut in Feb. 2005 and carried out surveillance prior to the killing.

The Bellemare interim report is the tenth provided by the UN commission. Up until now, Syrian operatives were the lead supsects for planning and executing the assassination of the anti-Syrian politician. It is not clear if the new report which names no names supports the suspicions against Damascus.

Bellemare said the commission will focus now on identifying links between the Hariri network and other attacks, its scope, the identity of its participants and their external contacts.

He disclosed that DNA profiling is being conducted to assist in identifying the bomber who blew up the Hariri convoy killing 22 people.

In his last report in December, former chief investigator Serge Brammertz found the bomber did not spend his youth in Lebanon but only his last two or three months in the country.

Bellemare, who will be the lead prosecutor at the Hariri tribunal when it begins work in The Hague, plans to issue a progress report in April that should indicate a date.

UN legal chief Nicolas Michel said the tribunal had received enough funding to keep it running for a year.

3) As Arab summit opens in Syria, Assad blasts Israel

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad told the opening session of an Arab summit in Damascus on Saturday that Israel has rejected all peace negotiations in the last three decades and has continued breaking its obligations through continued settlement expansion.

Assad also said Syria was willing to cooperate to help end a political crisis in Lebanon.

"We in Syria are fully prepared to cooperate with Arab or non-Arab efforts... on condition that they are based on Lebanese national consensus, the basis for stability in Lebanon," Assad said in a speech to the summit.

Meanwhile, Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moualem said the United States had put pressure on Arab leaders to stay away from the Arab summit.

"Unfortunately they did their best to prevent this summit but I can tell you they failed because tomorrow you'll see... a very successful summit with convenient leaders present and also with important resolutions," he told reporters.

The summit opened in the absence of Lebanon and of conservative Arab leaders critical of Syria's role in the Lebanese crisis.

Eleven heads of state from the Arab League's 22 members were present at the opening session, slightly less than normal at the annual event, reflecting displeasure with Syrian policy.

The absence of Lebanon, King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt and King Abdullah of Jordan means the summit cannot help resolve the political crisis in Lebanon, which has not had a president since November.

Diplomats and commentators agreed with the Syrian view that Washington had been the driving force behind the campaign to dissuade Arab leaders from going to Syria, which prides itself on its resistance to U.S. and Israeli policies.

"The Americans have been working on ensuring low-level representation in the run-up to the summit. We are seeing now a snowball effect," said one diplomat in the Syrian capital.

Siniora accuses Syria of blocking elections, deepening crisis

Lebanon's prime minister accused Syria on Friday of blocking the election of a new Lebanese president and deepening the country's 16-month political crisis through its interference in the country's internal affairs.

Fuad Siniora said Lebanon decided earlier this week to boycott this weekend's Arab summit in the Syrian capital of Damascus because Beirut is usually represented by its president.

"The direct reason for not attending this summit is to assert that Lebanon is naturally represented, at any Arab summit, by its president," Siniora said in a televised speech addressed to the Arab leaders on the eve of their two-day summit that begins Saturday.

Lebanon has been without a president since pro-Syrian President Emile Lahoud's ended his term last November without a successor elected.

Lebanon's sharply divided parliament has failed to elect compromise candidate army commander Gen. Michel Suleiman as president because the anti-Syrian parliamentary majority and the Syrian-backed opposition remain deadlocked over the shape of the future government.

"It is regrettable that four months have passed with the vacuum in the
president's post ... and Syria has played, during and before this period, a major role in deepening the political crisis in Lebanon," said Siniora,
standing in front of a nearly a dozen Lebanese flags.

Siniora also accused Syria of blocking an Arab initiative to end the crisis, as well as efforts by the head of the Arab League to find a solution between rival Lebanese groups. He called on Damascus to open a new page between the two countries.

4) From The MEMRI Blog: News about the Arab Summit

The following are news items published on The MEMRI Blog ( ) in advance of next week's Arab League summit, which will take place on Sunday March 29-30, 2008 in Damascus, Syria.

Saudi English Daily On Damascus Summit: A Summit In Name Only

In an editorial, the Saudi daily Arab News stated that the Arab summit scheduled to be held in Damascus next week is doomed to failure, and that a clear message is being sent by the many Arab leaders who are skipping the event and sending lower-level representation. The paper pointed out that the Lebanese factions have failed to resolve their differences, and that some Arab states, such as Saudi Arabia and Egypt, see Syria as having done little to pressure its allies in Lebanon, in particular Hizbullah, to move toward reconciliation. It said that Syria's special relationship with Tehran was not endearing it to moderate Arab states nor to the West, and that it is being accused of taking sides in the Palestinian rift for giving refuge to the Hamas political leadership. The editorial added that the Arab world today is no better than it was a year ago, when the last summit was held, but that even "successful" Arab summits have failed to resolve the most immediate challenges or reach popular expectations. It said that this summit may go down in history as the last of the Arab summits, if not in occurrence then in substance. It accused the Arabs of failing to appreciate and copy the examples of other regional groupings which have employed their alliances to confront their differences rather than amplifying them, and that by using the summit event to pressure Damascus over its own policies, the risk of derailing the entire Arab League organization had increased to dangerous levels. The paper concludes by asking what will follow the ritual convening of the Arab summit in Damascus, and says that barring a miraculous breakthrough, the meeting will further cripple Arab collaboration in face of regional and international challenges. The organization has failed to respond to crises, whether in Gaza, Darfur, Somalia, or Iraq.

Source: Arab News, Saudi Arabia, March 26, 2008

'Al-Sharq Al-Awsat' Editor: Absence Of Heads Of State At Damascus Summit Is Justified

Tareq Alhomayed, editor of the London daily Al-Sharq Al-Awsat, has defended Saudi Arabia's decision not to send its head of state to represent it at the upcoming Arab summit in Damascus. In an op-ed in the paper, he stated that there was no justification for the participation of heads of Arab states at the summit, because of Syria's and Iran's actions in Lebanon. Calling the ruling by the Mufti of Syria requiring every Arab ruler to participate in the summit "a joke," Alhomayed wondered what the mufti would rule regarding Syria's and Iran's actions in Lebanon and about the "holocaust" that the Syrian regime was going to bring upon Iraq, Lebanon, and Palestine in the name of the "resistance."

Source: Al-Sharq Al-Awsat, London, March 25, 2008

Saudis To Send Low-Level Representation To Arab League Summit

The Saudi representative in the Arab League, Ahmad Qatan, announced yesterday, March 24, that he would head the Saudi delegation to the Arab League summit in Damascus at the end of this month. A Syrian source said of the low-level Saudi representation that "such a position does not serve joint Arab activity," and that Saudi Arabia was "evading [participating in] responsible dialogue."

Source: Al-Watan, Syria; Al-Jazirah, Saudi Arabia, March 25, 2008

Mubarak Won't Attend Damascus Summit

Sources in the Egyptian leadership have said that Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak has decided not to attend the upcoming Arab League summit in Damascus, slated for the end of this month, in light of Syria's involvement in Lebanon. The sources added that in the next 24 hours Egypt will be consulting with Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and the UAE in order to coordinate their level of representation at the summit, and at its conclusion Mubarak will decide whether he will send Egyptian Prime Minister Ahmad Nazif or Foreign Minister Ahmad Abu Al-Gheit as his representative to the summit.

Source: Al-Masryoon, Egypt, March 23, 2008

Syrian Columnist: Syria Won't Relinquish Its Principles For Arab Summit

In his column in the Syrian government daily Al-Thawra, Salim Aboud wrote that the responsibility for participation in and the success of the Arab League summit lies not with Syria but with all Arabs. He said that whether the summit is held in Damascus or not, and whether Arab leaders attend or not, Syria will continue to adhere to the resistance, and will not relinquish its principles.

Source: Al-Thawra, Syria, March 11, 2008

Syrian Oppositionist To Arab Countries: Boycott Damascus Summit

In an interview with the website of Lebanon's Progressive Socialist Party, former Syrian MP and oppositionist Mamoun Al-Homsi called on Arab countries not to participate in the upcoming Arab League summit in Damascus. He said that holding the summit in Damascus would be a defeat for the Arab monarchs and rulers, and would give Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad a medal of honor that he would try to brandish in order to prove that he was the one who made the decisions in the region. Al-Homsi added that the act of leaders attending the summit would be considered a blow to the Syrian people's right to life and freedom, and a crime against the peoples in the region.

Source:, March 10, 2008

Apprehension In Lebanon About Syrian Reaction To Lebanese Summit Boycott

The London daily Al-Hayat reports that according to elements in the Lebanese parliament who are part of the March 14 Forces, Lebanon is preparing for conflict with Syria due to Lebanon's boycott of the Damascus summit. Diplomatic sources said that top Syrian officials hinted to them that Lebanon was likely to face a new wave of violence by the Syrian regime, including bombings and murders.

Source: Al-Hayat, London; Al-Mustaqbal, Lebanon, March 28, 2008

Syria, Lebanon Wrangle Over Damascus Summit

At a March 26 press conference, Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Al-Muallem attacked Lebanon's decision to boycott the Arab summit in Damascus, hinting that foreign elements were involved in the decision. He also accused the U.S. of pressuring over the summit, and of attempting to split the Arab world. Al-Muallem stated that Lebanon had missed a golden opportunity to take care of its internal crisis, and of its relations with Syria. He called on the Arab countries who maintained a special relationship with Lebanon, particularly Saudi Arabia and Egypt, to show more cooperation in implementing the Arab League initiative in Lebanon. Lebanese MP from the March 14 Forces Mustafa Alloush responded to Al-Muallem's statement by saying that the Syrian regime's "golden opportunity" to Lebanon had so far manifested itself in three decades of killing, terror, and destruction. He added that Syria was determined to bring in the Iranian regime, like a cancer in the Arab body, instead of returning to the bosom of its Arab brothers. Also, former Lebanese prime minister Salim Al-Hoss warned that Lebanon was on the threshold of collapse, and needed a united Arab resolution that would bring it out of the crisis. He added that no neighboring country would emerge unscathed in the event of an explosion in Lebanon's internal situation.

Sources: Al-Sharq Al-Awsat, London; Al-Thawra, Syria; Al-Mustaqbal, Lebanon, March 27, 2008

Arab League Sec'y-Gen Moussa: No Limited Summit

The London daily Al-Sharq Al-Awsat reports that Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa is vehemently denying that there will be a limited summit prior to the Damascus summit at the end of the month (see ).

Source: Al-Sharq Al-Awsat, London, March 5, 2008

March 14 Forces Reject Syrian Proposal To Resolve Lebanese Presidential Crisis

The Lebanese daily Al-Mustaqbal reports that Syria has submitted a new three-part proposal for resolving the Lebanese presidential crisis. The proposal, submitted to Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa, includes electing a president, establishing a transitional government, and holding early parliamentary elections within six months. Elements from the March 14 Forces rejected the proposal. Lebanese Communications Minister Marwan Hamada said that the initiative was a trap aimed at preventing the presidential election until the Arab summit, scheduled for later this month in Damascus.

Source: Al-Mustaqbal, Al-Nahar, Lebanon, March 5, 2008

Damascus Summit Controversy Continues

Syrian sources have denied that a limited Arab summit is to be held prior to the Damascus summit scheduled for later this month (see "Report: "Mini" Arab Summit Will Discuss Postponing Damascus Summit" ). Samir Geagea of the March 14 Forces called to boycott the Arab summit in Damascus if Syria continued to thwart the Arab initiative for resolving the Lebanon crisis. An official Saudi source said that Saudi Arabia had agreed "in principle" to attend the summit, but did not note the level of its representation. An official Gulf source said that Saudi Arabia and the other Gulf countries would attend only if Lebanon attended.

Sources: Al-Watan, Saudi Arabia, March 4, 2008; Al-Akhbar, Al-Mustaqbal, Lebanon, March 4, 2008

Syria Rejects Arab League Sec-Gen's Request To Postpone Damascus Summit

The London daily Al-Hayat reports that Arab League secretary-general Amr Moussa has asked the Syrian leadership to postpone the Arab summit in Damascus due to fear that some countries could boycott it. Syria rejected the request, stating that at least nine countries had announced that they would be sending leadership-level representation. The Lebanese daily Al-Nahar reported that Syria had also rejected an Egyptian-Saudi request presented by Moussa to pressure Lebanon's allies to hold the presidential election as soon as possible.

Sources: Al-Hayat, London; Al-Nahar, Lebanon, March 3, 2008

Report: "Mini" Arab Summit Will Discuss Postponing Damascus Summit

Diplomatic sources in Jordan have confirmed that a limited Arab summit, with the participation of eight Arab countries, could be held in Cairo or Sharm Al-Sheikh prior to the summit scheduled for later this month in Damascus. According to the report, the eight countries will be Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Yemen, Egypt, and Jordan; possible dates are March 9 or March 16. The sources stated that this conference would discuss the proposal to postpone the Damascus summit in order to permit the Lebanese to reach an agreement over the election of Michel Sleiman as president.

Source: Al-Hayat, London, March 3, 2008

Syrian MP: Moving Arab Summit Venue From Damascus - Suicide

At a joint press conference with Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa, Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Al-Mu'alem said that the Arab League summit would convene on the appointed date. Syrian MP Muhammad Habash told the London daily Al-Sharq Al-Awsat that moving the summit's venue from Damascus would mean suicide and catastrophe for Arab solidarity. He added that there was a possibility that Iran would be invited to the summit.

Sources: Teshreen, Syria, March 2, 2008; Al-Sharq Al-Awsat, London, March 1, 2008

5) Getting Mrs. Clinton
By Peggy Noonan

I think we've reached a signal point in the campaign. This is the point where, with Hillary Clinton, either you get it or you don't. There's no dodging now. You either understand the problem with her candidacy, or you don't. You either understand who she is, or not. And if you don't, after 16 years of watching Clintonian dramas, you probably never will.

That's what the Bosnia story was about. Her fictions about dodging bullets on the tarmac -- and we have to hope they were lies, because if they weren't, if she thought what she was saying was true, we are in worse trouble than we thought -- either confirmed what you already knew (she lies as a matter of strategy, or, as William Safire said in 1996, by nature) or revealed in an unforgettable way (videotape! Smiling girl in pigtails offering flowers!) what you feared (that she lies more than is humanly usual, even politically usual).

But either you get it now or you never will. That's the importance of the Bosnia tape.

Many in the press get it, to their dismay, and it makes them uncomfortable, for it sours life to have a person whose character you feel you cannot admire play such a large daily role in your work. But I think it's fair to say of the establishment media at this point that it is well populated by people who feel such a lack of faith in Mrs. Clinton's words and ways that it amounts to an aversion. They are offended by how she and her staff operate. They try hard to be fair. They constantly have to police themselves.

Not that her staff isn't policing them too. Mrs. Clinton's people are heavy-handed in that area, letting producers and correspondents know they're watching, weighing, may have to take this higher. There's too much of this in politics, but Hillary's campaign takes it to a new level.

It's not only the press. It's what I get as I walk around New York, which used to be thick with her people. I went to a Hillary fund-raiser at Hunter College about a month ago, paying for a seat in the balcony and being ushered up to fill the more expensive section on the floor, so frantic were they to fill seats.

I sat next to a woman, a New York Democrat who'd been for Hillary from the beginning and still was. She was here. But, she said, "It doesn't seem to be working." She shrugged, not like a brokenhearted person but a practical person who'd missed all the signs of something coming. She wasn't mad at the voters. But she was no longer so taken by the woman who soon took the stage and enacted joy.

The other day a bookseller told me he'd been reading the opinion pages of the papers and noting the anti-Hillary feeling. Two weeks ago he realized he wasn't for her anymore. It wasn't one incident, just an accumulation of things. His experience tracks this week's Wall Street Journal/NBC poll showing Mrs. Clinton's disapproval numbers have risen to the highest level ever in the campaign, her highest in fact in seven years.

* * *

You'd think she'd pivot back to showing a likable side, chatting with women, weeping, wearing the bright yellows and reds that are thought to appeal to her core following, older women. Well, she's doing that. Yet at the same time, her campaign reveals new levels of thuggishness, though that's the wrong word, for thugs are often effective. This is mere heavy-handedness.

On Wednesday a group of Mrs. Clinton's top donors sent a letter to the speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, warning her in language that they no doubt thought subtle but that reflected a kind of incompetent menace, that her statements on the presidential campaign may result in less money for Democratic candidates for the House. Ms. Pelosi had said that in her view the superdelegates should support the presidential candidate who wins the most pledged delegates in state contests. The letter urged her to "clarify" her position, which is "clearly untenable" and "runs counter" to the superdelegates' right to make "an informed, individual decision" about "who would be the party's strongest nominee." The signers, noting their past and huge financial support, suggested that Ms. Pelosi "reflect" on her comments and amend them to reflect "a more open view."

Barack Obama's campaign called it inappropriate and said Mrs. Clinton should "reject the insinuation." But why would she? All she has now is bluster. Her supporters put their threat in a letter, not in a private meeting. By threatening Ms. Pelosi publicly, they robbed her of room to maneuver. She has to defy them or back down. She has always struck me as rather grittier than her chic suits, high heels and unhidden enthusiasm may suggest. We'll see.

What, really, is Mrs. Clinton doing? She is having the worst case of cognitive dissonance in the history of modern politics. She cannot come up with a credible, realistic path to the nomination. She can't trace the line from "this moment's difficulties" to "my triumphant end." But she cannot admit to herself that she can lose. Because Clintons don't lose. She can't figure out how to win, and she can't accept the idea of not winning. She cannot accept that this nobody from nowhere could have beaten her, quietly and silently, every day. (She cannot accept that she still doesn't know how he did it!)

She is concussed. But she is a scrapper, a fighter, and she's doing what she knows how to do: scrap and fight. Only harder. So that she ups the ante every day. She helped Ireland achieve peace. She tried to stop Nafta. She's been a leader for 35 years. She landed in Bosnia under siege and bravely dodged bullets. It was as if she'd watched the movie "Wag the Dog," with its fake footage of a terrified refugee woman running frantically from mortar fire, and found it not a cautionary tale about manipulation and politics, but an inspiration.

* * *

What struck me as the best commentary on the Bosnia story came from a poster called GI Joe who wrote in to a news blog: "Actually Mrs. Clinton was too modest. I was there and saw it all. When Mrs. Clinton got off the plane the tarmac came under mortar and machine gun fire. I was blown off my tank and exposed to enemy fire. Mrs. Clinton without regard to her own safety dragged me to safety, jumped on the tank and opened fire, killing 50 of the enemy." Soon a suicide bomber appeared, but Mrs. Clinton stopped the guards from opening fire. "She talked to the man in his own language and got him [to] surrender. She found that he had suffered terribly as a result of policies of George Bush. She defused the bomb vest herself." Then she turned to his wounds. "She stopped my bleeding and saved my life. Chelsea donated the blood."

Made me laugh. It was like the voice of the people answering back. This guy knows that what Mrs. Clinton said is sort of crazy. He seems to know her reputation for untruths. He seemed to be saying, "I get it."

Friday, March 28, 2008

Republicans held to their philosophy.Anthing goes for Democrats

No way to prove it, but I believe the effort to influence our elections has begun and thus the increased terrorist activity in Iraq and would soon expect more between Israel, Hamas and Hezballah. Weather should be improving and this gives the IDF more flexibility.

Evidence The Surge is unraveling is a plus for Obama who has to be the terrorist's favorite candidate both because of his background, statements, lack of experience and party affiliation.

The Iraq police are throughly infiltrated and thus, remain unreliable but the Iraq military is a somewhat different matter. What is going on right now is critical and a test of both Maliki and ourselves.(see 1 below.)

The current Damascus conference with Syria and a few attending Arab nations highlights the strong position Syria continues to maintain and how they, with Iranian help, are able to thwart the demands of Egypt and the Saudis. Hezballah continues to grow in strength and political power as the supported spoiler regarding Lebanon.

Word is that Israel also seeks an accommodation with Syria.
(See 2 and 3 below.)

Mort Zuckerman, highlights the world's hypocrisy in this article and poses the right but unanswered question. (See 4 below.)

More commentary akin to David Frum's argument in "Comeback," about how the Republican Party as fallen on its own sword. This time out West.

What is ironic is that Democrats haven't done anything distinguishing since capturing control of Congress but "to the victor belongs the spoils" and things continue to "spoil" in Disney East as Reid and Pelosi pursue their rancorous management of the Senate and House. Partisanship is as rife as ever.

I believe Republican legislators are held to a higher level of expectation because Democrats have been in control for most of the past 50 years and voters seem to have become more complacent about their incompetence. Voters generally turn to Republicans out of frustration but quickly lose faith when Republicans screw up. One day, perhaps, voters will connect our nation's systemic and endemic problems with past Democrat legislation but until they do, Republicans failures quickly become their undoing.

Republicans are expected to stick to their conservative philosophy whereas Democrats are seen as progressive and therefor voters tend to give them wider latitude and expect "anything goes." (See 5 below.)

Have a nice weekend.


1)Exclusive: First signs of weakening in Maliki-led government Basra offensive

Military sources report: After three days of combat, thousands of troops led by prime minister Nouri al Maliki have made no headway in breaking the grip of militias and gangs on the southern oil city of Basra and the outlying towns. Friday, March 28, the prime minister softened his previous ultimatum for combatants to hand over their weapons, extending it from Saturday night to April 8, and throwing in “a financial reward” for those complying.

From a go-it-alone Iraqi venture, Maliki was reduced Friday to calling in “coalition airplanes” to bomb militia positions holding fast in Basra. Moqtada Sadr’s Mehdi army appears still in control of the densely-populated areas of Basra, Iraq’s third largest city of 2.5 million, as well as taking over the center of Shiite Nasiriyeh. The intra-Shiite clashes have also spread to the southern Shiite cities of Kut, Hilla, Diwaniya, Amara and Karbala.

Maliki, the intra-Shiite conflict which he has ignited in the whole of southern Iraq up to and including Baghdad is looking like a win-all, lose-all gamble for himself and his government.

In the Shiite neighborhoods of Baghdad, thousands of Sadr supporters took to the streets sparring with the police and calling for Maliki to resign.

After Sadr called for a political solution to the crisis, Iraq’s parliament was called into session Friday afternoon. They will meet under the three-day curfew imposed on Baghdad after repeated rocket attacks on the fortified Green Zone seat of government left two US government employees dead.

US embassy staff in Baghdad have been told not to leave reinforced structures and wear protective clothing including helmets following the rocket attacks on the Green Zone – 16 Wednesday and 12 Tuesday. The three-day curfew imposed Thursday night bans pedestrian and vehicle traffic in the city.

Two oil pipelines were hit by bombs after the fighting began - one carrying oil to an export terminal in Basra harbor. Thursday night, Maliki was praised by President George Bush, who said “normalcy was returning to Iraq.”

2) ANALYSIS: Isolating Syria serves to highlight its importance
By Zvi Bar'el

"In the name of merciful and compassionate Allah, I hope you solve just one Arab problem," begged a surfer on television network Al-Arabiyah's Internet site. His supplication, which will apparently go unanswered, was directed at the heads of state convening in Damascus on Friday for an Arab League summit, or at least those heads of states bothering to attend after Egypt and Saudi Arabia neutered it.

The pair seek to punish Syria for continually thwarting any political solution in Lebanon by not allowing the appointment of General Michel Suleiman as president and not forcing Hezbollah to accept a reasonable division of cabinet posts. Syria rejected, albeit politely, the Arab League's compromise proposal, positioning itself as the victor over the united Arab front.

But the Saudi-Egyptian penalty could become an own goal. It does not promote a resolution to the crisis in Lebanon and it highlights the chasm between the camps. This is no longer the well-known split between "moderates" and "extremists," but between the "Arab circle" and the "Iranian circle" and has emphasized the power of organizations like Hezbollah, and to some extent Hamas, to set the Arab agenda.

Egypt and Saudi Arabia are frustrated that Iran succeeds in influencing Arab policy no less and maybe - regarding Lebanon - more than the Arab countries themselves. The attendance of the Iranian foreign minister - not a member state and not an Arab state - emphasizes Tehran's role in this rift.

It is possible that Egypt and Saudi Arabia's partial embargo of the summit will turn Syria's isolation into a source of power. The Arab states know that the solution to the two most severe crises in the Middle East pass through Syria, yet they don't have the means to force its hand. Syrian agreement to the suggested solution would gnaw away at Hezbollah's political maneuvering power, which could lead to Syria losing control in Lebanon.

3) 'Israel trying to bring Syria to table'

Israel is trying to bring Syria back to the negotiating table, National Infrastructure Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer said just days after Prime Minister Ehud Olmert hinted that Israel might be holding - or planning to hold secret talks with Syria.

"All efforts are being made to bring Syria to the negotiating table" in order to "sign a peace treaty," Ben-Eliezer told Israel Radio.

"We know exactly what the price would be," he added - namely, Israel's return of the Golan Heights.

He would not disclose what results there have been, if any, from Israel's efforts to resume dialogue with the Syrians.

* Syrian FM: Israel doesn't want peace

Israel-Syria peace talks - a centerpiece of then-Prime Minister Ehud Barak's political agenda - broke down in 2000 with Syria rejecting Israel's offer to withdraw from the Golan Heights, and insisting that Israel pull back to the eastern shore of the Sea of Galilee.

Ben-Eliezer told Israel Radio that Barak, now defense minister, was a partner to the current efforts to renew talks with Damascus.

On Wednesday, Olmert told foreign journalists that Israel favors face-to-face talks with Syria that could result in a peace treaty, adding: "That doesn't mean that when we sit together you have to see us," he said, an apparent reference to the possibility of secret contacts.

A week earlier, Olmert told a joint meeting of the Israeli and German Cabinets that he was ready to restart negotiations with Syria if Damascus would end its support for Hizbullah and Palestinian terror groups. All are backed by Iran and opposed to Israel's existence.

Since the Second Lebanon War in 2006, both Israel and Syria have declared their readiness to renew negotiations and exchanged messages through third party emissaries, but there has been no sign of movement.

The efforts to engage Syria in negotiations come at a time when Israeli attempts to reach a peace deal with the Palestinians are making no visible progress.

Olmert and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas pledged at a US-hosted Middle East peace conference in November to try to reach a peace accord this year. On Wednesday, Olmert said he did not believe it would be possible to sign and implement a comprehensive peace treaty by the end of the year.

This summit will be considered the Arab League's largest failure, but could clarify how Syria, in spite of its isolation, is becoming the most significant state in the region's diplomatic processes. The question now will be what option Egypt and Saudi Arabia will have to resolve the Lebanon crisis and how they can extract Hamas from the Iranian-Syrian circle to resolve the Palestinian crisis.

4) The world will not answer these questions
By Mort Zuckerman

The world applauded when Israel withdrew from Gaza in 2005, forcibly removing Jewish settlers. At last, the Palestinians were free to show how they could build their own society.

But what did they do with their freedom? They elected the terrorist organization Hamas in 2006. First Fatah and now Hamas have rained 4,000 rockets on Israel, killed 24, and wounded 620 — the equivalent of killing 1,200 Americans and wounding 31,000. The citizens of Sderot and Ashkelon have suffered a collective trauma; children fear that when parents leave for work, they will never see them again.

And what does the world do?

It criticizes Israel — Israel! — for a "disproportionate" response. Israel is discriminating in trying to defend its people. It attacks Gaza's rocket launchers, weapons factories, and terrorists, all hidden in civilian areas.

What is a proportionate response? None at all, it seems.

Hamas kills indiscriminately. It makes no distinction between civilians and combatants. But it is Israel that earns the opprobrium. The moral equivalency was evident in a New York Times headline: "Hamas and Israelis Trade Attacks, Killing at Least Nine." Nor did TV broadcast pictures of thousands of Palestinians in Gaza celebrating the news that eight teenagers had been shot dead and many more injured in the library of a Jewish religious school in Jerusalem.

Would Paris, London, Bonn, or New York sit back quietly if terrorists attacked from sanctuaries somewhere just off their borders? Silent voices. Where is the world's outrage against these Palestinian war crimes? Twelve resolutions have passed the United Nations Human Rights Council on the conflict, but not one has made even a passing reference to the terrorism against Israel.

Where is the appreciation that while under attack, Israel has continued to supply its enemies with electricity and with 2,500 tons of food and medicines every day? Last year, 14,000 Gazan Palestinians were treated in Israeli medical facilities.

But Palestinians continue to get away with their confidence trick of persuading the world that they are the victims. The death of every Arab woman and child is a propaganda victory for Hamas, so it uses women and children as human shields and then exaggerates the casualties. The distortion foisted on the world is manifest in the celebrated case of the death of Mohammed al-Dura, who was alleged to have been shot by the Israelis in Gaza on the first day of the intifada. Now an independent French ballistic expert reports that he could not have died from Israeli gunfire. The technical analysis shows the shots could have come only from Palestinian positions.

And what of the Palestinian leader supposed to be leading the peace effort? Fatah's Mahmoud Abbas says, "What is happening now in Gaza is more than a Holocaust." Absurd? This from the "peacemaker" whose doctoral dissertation included the theory that European Zionists conspired with the Nazis to push for the Holocaust so that it could ultimately result in the establishment of a Jewish state in Palestine. According to Abbas's writings, 6 million Jews were not sent to the gas chambers to be killed but were among corpses cremated for sanitation reasons.

Some suggest Israel should deal with Hamas; there is talk of Egypt negotiating a truce. But why negotiate with an enemy dedicated to Israel's destruction? Recognition of Hamas would prove that terrorism, not diplomacy, is the way to gain Israeli concessions — not to speak of international support — and would strengthen Hamas in the West Bank. Any truce would protect the smuggling of arms and munitions until Hamas can attack again, with missiles that can reach Tel Aviv.

This current turmoil is a direct outcome of Bush administration misjudgments. We forced the Israelis and the Palestinians to include Hamas in the 2006 election. Later, we caused the removal of Israeli control of the Philadelphi road, a crucial barrier in the protection against the smuggling of arms, insisting it be left to the Palestinians under Egyptian and European supervision. Israeli protests that foreign troops would not stop either terrorists or arms from making their way into Gaza went unheeded.

America has an extra moral obligation to defuse this crisis. We should pressure Egypt by both political and economic means to stop the smuggling. Hamas must be contained. In the meantime, we have a war of attrition with Hamas determined to show Fatah's Abbas that terrorism is the only path. In the process, Hamas has made a mockery of President Bush and the Annapolis process. It has made it clear in blood that it will not permit Abbas to conduct real diplomatic negotiations.

The entire Arab world watches to see if Israel can find can find a way to deter Hamas — or if terrorism, with the acquiescence of the hand-wringers, can win.


CHEERED as Republicans may be by the Clinton-Obama wars, the fact is that long-term trends still favor the Democrats this fall. To see the problem, consider the interior West - the eight states between the Midwest and the Pacific Coast: Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming.

This week, I spoke at a panel put on here in Denver by the America's Future Foundation, a youth-oriented libertarian-conservative group. The topic: "How the West Will Be Lost."

In fact, having heard my fellow panelists' takes on the situation in Colorado and the rest of the region, the use of the future tense looks optimistic: The GOP is already well on its way to losing the West.

The reasons were well summed up by the president of Colorado's Independence Institute and a popular conservative radio talk-show host in the state, Jon Caldara: "We lost our values. We lost our way."

It's been clear for years the interior West, once reliably Republican, was becoming a swing region. While 60,000 votes in Ohio would have thrown the presidental race to John Kerry in 2004, roughly the same number of votes, split between Colorado, Nevada and New Mexico, would have done the same thing. All three were on the verge of turning "blue" in 2004; they've since gone over that edge.

The Pew Research Center for the People and the Press finds that the share of voters who call themselves Republicans has dropped six points nationwide since 2004. That doesn't matter much in the Northeast (where the GOP's already locked out) or Down South (where the GOP remains dominant). But in the interior West, it's a big, big deal.

In 2000, none of these eight states had a Democratic governor. Now five do, including Colorado. A 2006 post-election Salt Lake City Tribune analysis showed that, where the GOP had beaten the Democrats by 20 points in the region's vote for the House in 2000, that advantage had fallen to one point in 2006. A few states, including Colorado, Nevada and New Mexico, had seen a majority of House votes cast for the Democrats.

In fact, Colorado now looks bluer than a half-drowned Smurf. It's got a Democratic governor, House, Senate and high court. The GOP lost both houses of the Legislature in 2004 after spending a session on such issues as gay marriage, the Pledge of Allegiance and the liberal biases of college professors - while the state faced a massive fiscal crisis.

At the federal level, the state's got a recently minted Democratic senator (Ken Salazar, replacing a Republican in 2004) and two recently acquired House seats (one picked up in 2004, one in '06). Turning Blue on the presidential ballot is all that's left in this metamorphosis.

As Caldara put it: "Colorado is, in fact, the test tube of how to export liberal expansion to the Western states." A moderately conservative state has been turned Blue, Caldara says, because of "the absolute demolishing of what the Right stood for, how the Republican Party turned into something it was never meant to be and went away from Barry Goldwater, Ronald Reagan ideas."

Of course, Democrats have worked hard to capitalize on the Republicans' carelessness. Liberal groups funded by folks like billionaire Quark founder Tim Gill have turned discontent into votes. And now they have a model to use in the rest of the region.

It's no coincidence that Democrats chose Denver for their convention. When they converge on the Mile High City in five months, they'll be staking their claim to what was once a solidly Red region.

The Republicans have one hope - at least, for a four-year reprieve: Hillary Clinton. While the Democrats as a party are building strength out West, polls consistently show that Clinton has little appeal to Independents and Republicans in the region.

Survey USA did a 50-state, 30,000-person poll earlier this month, looking at the electoral map for hypothetical McCain-Clinton and McCain-Obama races. It showed that New Mexico is likely to tilt Democratic no matter what this fall - and Barack Obama could pick up Colorado and Nevada rather handily (by 9 and 5 points, respectively). But Hillary would lose Colorado by 6 points and Nevada by 8 points.

This is just one poll, taken months ahead of the election, but it certainly jibes with past polls by Survey USA and recent polling by Rasmussen.

It certainly wouldn't be the first time the Clintons helped keep the Republican coalition together (see: 1994). But until Chelsea's old enough to throw her hat in the ring, it would probably be the last.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

The illusive constant - peace and tranquility!

There have been many takes on Obama. This one by Christopher Hitchens, is blunt and to the point as is his style. In the article, he advises we "unhitch" ourselves from accepting the press' characterization of Rev. Wright's remarks and think of them more as wicked and stupid and Obama's explanation as less than "soothing" but rather a cynically "oozing" calculation. (See 1 below.)

On the front page of the Wall Street Journal today is an article entitled: "Violence Roils Black Funeral Parlors" by Gary Fields. The author writes about an increase in assaults, murders and crime occurring at black funeral homes. The funeral scene is changing from one of reverence and respect for the deceased to confrontation and gun battles. Police are baffled to explain the cause. Some assume it is drug related, others because possibly more ex-felons are re-entering society, others because of poor education. They have no real answer.

Criminal behaviour has many roots and causality.

Barak is making concessions in order to pacify Sec. Rice and the pressure she receives from Abbas. In the final analysis, I doubt these concessions will lead to less terrorism because Hamas and Fatah are not on the same page and are not likely to any time soon. Most Israeli concessions have led to more terror as the weapons used by Palestinian police to bring order eventually are used against Israel.

I find it ironic that we learned the hard way in Iraq concessions did not work yet we believe Israel must continue this failed practice. Arabs in general and terrorists for certain interpret concessions as a sign of weakness and a signal to extract more.(See 2 below.)

More and more articles suggest the current financial meltdown will take a long time to recover from and based on today's market indices we have erased almost a decade of value. The reasoning goes as follow, as I have written before:

a) Housing values represent a large personal asset and their rise was used to finance a host of consumerism.

b) Financial institutions have suffered serious damage to their capital ratios and therefore, are not likely to be as generous in making future loans.

c) Our economy's expansion, as with any, is, in part, dependent upon capital availability and in or particular case a heavy dose of consumption.

d) Inflation in food and energy costs is siphoning away some of the consumer's ability to fund other purchases.

e) Both housing and car manufacturing are big employers and home and cars require a lot of various materials which has a ripple effect on employment among a host of other supply industries, ie steel, chemicals, appliances, glass, wood, roofing material etc.

f) Federal Reserve actions to date have diminished its own future ability to stave over the possibility of more serious hits or other shoes that have yet to fall.

g) Mortgage resets and the continued defaults are reinforcing cautious behaviour among financial institutions and I would suspect more bankruptcies and consolidations to occur as we move forward.

It may well be that we will avert a serious recession but it also seems logical to expect any recovery will be muted and take longer to achieve.

At this juncture I see nothing evident from an historical precedent to suggest Congress will respond rationally. In fact the Congressional response to Enron brought about Sarbanes-Oxley which drove many listings to foreign exchanges, raised the cost of legal and accounting bills and caused many enterprises to go private or be bought out in leveraged deals to avoid its onerous legislation. Whether "SOX" has become a hammer in pursuit of a cockroach remains debatable.

Former Chairman Greenspan publicly stated more than once, the Fed could not stave off "exuberance" but could only respond after the fact. I believe that is an excuse for his own failures and not a rational explanation of the Fed's inadequacy. There are many things Greenspan and the Fed could and should have done to make leveraging more expensive and unattractive beyond mere talk.

Beyond our own problems the Chinese response to dissidents is beginning to reflect itself in ways that Chinese rulers may not have anticipated. A simple unwillingness on the part of a proud and tired black women in Montgomery, to sit where she chose, shook this nation in ways that were not anticipated and ultimately caused a reversal of immoral laws and, lamentably over time, many responses which have proven counterproductive.

The Chinese would be wise to study and better comprehend the support those in pursuit of freedom can command from others who are free.

The more concerted response to free Iraqis should have applied to GW's efforts but that would have entailed greater unity, courage and guts than our allies could muster and/or GW was capable of orchestrating. So words are likely to become the basic weapon of choice in defending Tibetans but should the rebellion gather momentum more significant responses might be initiated.

In recent weeks we have been exposed to an enormous variety of hubris, duplicity, vituperation, outright lies and questionable "audacity" ranging from the pulpit, gushing forth from the lips of prominent candidates, politicians, media darlings and rulers of nations. Yes, even from Islamic terrorists.

We are indeed a troubled world in search of that one constant that always seem elusive - peace and tranquility.

First positive comment from Abbas regarding talk progress. (See 3 below.)


1)Blind Faith The statements of clergymen like Jeremiah Wright aren't controversial and incendiary; they're wicked and stupid.
By Christopher Hitchens

It's been more than a month since I began warning Sen. Barack Obama that he would become answerable for his revolting choice of a family priest. But never mind that; the astonishing thing is that it's at least 11 months since he himself has known precisely the same thing. "If Barack gets past the primary," said the Rev. Jeremiah Wright to the New York Times in April of last year, "he might have to publicly distance himself from me. I said it to Barack personally, and he said yeah, that might have to happen." Pause just for a moment, if only to admire the sheer calculating self-confidence of this. Sen. Obama has long known perfectly well, in other words, that he'd one day have to put some daylight between himself and a bigmouth Farrakhan fan. But he felt he needed his South Side Chicago "base" in the meantime. So he coldly decided to double-cross that bridge when he came to it. And now we are all supposed to marvel at the silky success of the maneuver.

You often hear it said, of some political or other opportunist, that he would sell his own grandmother if it would suit his interests. But you seldom, if ever, see this notorious transaction actually being performed, which is why I am slightly surprised that Obama got away with it so easily. (Yet why do I say I am surprised? He still gets away with absolutely everything.)

Looking for a moral equivalent to a professional demagogue who thinks that AIDS and drugs are the result of a conspiracy by the white man, Obama settled on an 85-year-old lady named Madelyn Dunham, who spent a good deal of her youth helping to raise him and who now lives alone and unwell in a condo in Honolulu. It would be interesting to know whether her charismatic grandson made her aware that he was about to touch her with his grace and make her famous in this way. By sheer good fortune, she, too, could be a part of it all and serve her turn in the great enhancement.

This flabbergasting process, made up of glibness and ruthlessness in equal proportions, rolls on unstoppably with a phalanx of reporters and men of the cloth as its accomplices. Look at the accepted choice of words for the ravings of Jeremiah Wright: controversial, incendiary, inflammatory. These are adjectives that might have been—and were—applied to many eloquent speakers of the early civil rights movement. (In the Washington Post, for Good Friday last, the liberal Catholic apologist E.J. Dionne lamely attempted to stretch this very comparison.) But is it "inflammatory" to say that AIDS and drugs are wrecking the black community because the white power structure wishes it? No. Nor is it "controversial." It is wicked and stupid and false to say such a thing. And it not unimportantly negates everything that Obama says he stands for by way of advocating dignity and responsibility over the sick cults of paranoia and victimhood.

That same supposed message of his is also contradicted in a different way by trying to put Geraldine Ferraro on all fours with a thug like Obama's family "pastor." Ferraro may have sounded sour when she asserted that there can be political advantages to being black in the United States—and she said the selfsame thing about Jesse Jackson in 1984—but it's perfectly arguable that what she said is, in fact, true, and even if it isn't true, it's absurd to try and classify it as a racist remark. No doubt Obama's slick people were looking for a revenge for Samantha Power (who, incidentally, ought never to have been let go for the useful and indeed audacious truths that she uttered in Britain), but their news-cycle solution was to cover their own queasy cowardice in that case by feigning outrage in the Ferraro matter. The consequence, which you can already feel, is an inchoate resentment among many white voters who are damned if they will be called bigots by a man who associates with Jeremiah Wright. So here we go with all that again. And this is the fresh, clean, new post-racial politics?

Now, by way of which vent or orifice is this venom creeping back into our national bloodstream? Where is hatred and tribalism and ignorance most commonly incubated, and from which platform is it most commonly yelled? If you answered "the churches" and "the pulpits," you got both answers right. The Ku Klux Klan (originally a Protestant identity movement, as many people prefer to forget) and the Nation of Islam (a black sectarian mutation of Quranic teaching) may be weak these days, but bigotry of all sorts is freely available, and openly inculcated into children, by any otherwise unemployable dirtbag who can perform the easy feat of putting Reverend in front of his name. And this clerical vileness has now reached the point of disfiguring the campaigns of both leading candidates for our presidency. If you think Jeremiah Wright is gruesome, wait until you get a load of the next Chicago "Reverend," one James Meeks, another South Side horror show with a special sideline in the baiting of homosexuals. He, too, has been an Obama supporter, and his church has been an occasional recipient of Obama's patronage. And perhaps he, too, can hope to be called "controversial" for his use of the term house nigger to describe those he doesn't like and for his view that it was "the Hollywood Jews" who brought us Brokeback Mountain . Meanwhile, the Republican nominee adorns himself with two further reverends: one named John Hagee, who thinks that the pope is the Antichrist, and another named Rod Parsley, who has declared that the United States has a mission to obliterate Islam. Is it conceivable that such repellent dolts would be allowed into public life if they were not in tax-free clerical garb? How true it is that religion poisons everything.

And what a shame. I assume you all have your copies of The Audacity of Hope in paperback breviary form. If you turn to the chapter entitled "Faith," beginning on Page 195, and read as far as Page 208, I think that even if you don't concur with my reading, you may suspect that I am onto something. In these pages, Sen. Obama is telling us that he doesn't really have any profound religious belief, but that in his early Chicago days he felt he needed to acquire some spiritual "street cred." The most excruciatingly embarrassing endorsement of this same viewpoint came last week from Abigail Thernstrom at National Review Online. Overcome by "the speech" that the divine one had given in Philadelphia, she urged us to be understanding. "Obama's description of the parishioners in his church gave white listeners a glimpse of a world of faith (with 'raucous laughter and sometimes bawdy humor … dancing, clapping, screaming, and shouting') that has been the primary means of black survival and uplift." A glimpse, huh? What the hell next? A tribute to the African-American sense of rhythm?

To have accepted Obama's smooth apologetics is to have lowered one's own pre-existing standards for what might constitute a post-racial or a post-racist future. It is to have put that quite sober and realistic hope, meanwhile, into untrustworthy and unscrupulous hands. And it is to have done this, furthermore, in the service of blind faith. Mark my words: This disappointment is only the first of many that are still to come.

2)Exclusive: Mixed signals from Jerusalem ahead of Rice visit

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice arrives in Israel Friday, March 28, the day before the Arab Summit is due to open in Damascus. She will meet Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas in Amman. Her purpose and that of the concessions she has demanded of Israel is to make it worthwhile for Abbas to stay clear of the radical line espoused by Syria and Iran in Damascus and stick to the US-promoted peace track.

After defense minister Ehud Barak announced concessions to be laid before Palestinian prime minister Salam Fayyad at their meeting Wednesday, foreign minister Tzipi Livni stated that fighting terror in Gaza is pivotal for progress in peace negotiations. Israel suspended its attacks on Hamas targets in Gaza three weeks ago.

The concessions Barak has announced include permission to deploy in Jenin, a West Bank terror stronghold, 600 Palestinian security men trained in Jordan under a US program. He will also authorize the delivery of 20 APCs from Russia for Abbas’ security forces and may also remove a couple of temporary roadblocks. Easing travel restrictions for Palestinian businessmen, he described as “a calculated risk” to improve the climate of talks with Palestinians. But he stressed that Israel will retain overall responsibility for West Bank security.

Barak is clearly bidding to improve the climate of his own uneasy relations with the Secretary of State and the generals operating on her behalf on the Palestinian-Israel scene.

Israel sees the Palestinian force trained in Jordan as a policing element for upholding law and order and combating anarchy in Palestinian towns - at best. Counter-terror tasks will continue to be carried out by Israel’s military and security forces.

The Washington Post recently reported that doubts in Israel and the US Congress about the loyalties of Abbas’ forces had slowed the arrival of the US training program’s funding. An American “with close knowledge of the program” was quoted as calling it “under-funded, under-equipped, under-everything.”

3) Abbas: Talks with Israel broach all core issues including J'lem

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said Wednesday that talks between chief Palestinian negotiator Ahmed Qureia and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni are tackling "all the core issues without exception: Jerusalem, refugees, settlements, borders, and security."

"We hope to achieve a settlement in 2008, there are many obstacles but we hope they will be removed. We are all pressing to reach a settlement by the target date," Abbas said.

He said settlement building in and around Jerusalem, Israel Defense Forces checkpoints and raids were blocking progress towards achieving a deal by the end of this year, a target date set by U.S. President George W. Bush at the Annapolis peace summit last November

A senior Abbas aide said the Palestinian president will visit Washington in April to advance Israeli-Palestinian peace talks with Bush. U.S. officials said they were checking whether this was accurate.

Bush made his first presidential visit to Israel and the West Bank in January and is expected to make another trip in May, to meet with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Abbas.

At Annapolis in November last year, Bush launched Israeli-Palestinian peace talks on sensitive final status issues such as Jerusalem, the fate of refugees, settlements and borders.

Washington has appointed three U.S. Generals to help the two sides narrow the gaps, monitor implementation of a U.S.-sponsored road map for peace and help draft a security plan between Israel and the future Palestinian state.

Palestinian officials and Western diplomats said U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice are set to visit the region later this month for peace talks with Abbas and Olmert.

Rice is expected to push for the implementation of the road map which calls on Israel to halt settlement construction and on the Palestinians to rein in militants.

"Rice will meet Abbas in Amman on March 30 after the Arab summit in Damascus ends. She will then travel to Israel for talks with Olmert and return to Amman for further talks with President Abbas," a senior Abbas oficial said.

"President Abbas will also visit Moscow on April 20 just before his Washington trip to discuss holding an Annapolis follow-up conference in Moscow in mid-June to push for further progress in Israeli-Palestinian talks," the official said.

Olmert has expressed reluctance to attend the proposed Russian summit, but has not ruled it out.)

Monday, March 24, 2008

Caveat Emptor - Look Beyond Mellifluous Rhetoric

A source reveals rebels associated with Hezballah and forces loyal to Muqtada's renegades are connected and have now been engaged by the Iraq government's own troops in Basara. If this report is correct it is further proof of the linkage of Iran and Syria's involvement in Iraq. Can we sit idly by or are we confident enough Iraq's own troops can be successful and do the fighting? (See 1 below.)

Has the Pope been able to accomplishment somewhat of a miracle as a result of prior talks with Saudi Arabia's ruler? (See 2 below.)

Jewish voters are historically Democrats save for their swing to Reagan and once again they seem to be encamped with the Democrat Party and their vote is fairly evenly divided between Obama and Clinton according to Rosner.

One would think logic would place them in the Republican column but logic seems to escape them as they think with their hearts. (See 3 below.)

Selwyn Duke writes that cultural affirmative action is alive and well. Long article but worth reading. (See 4 below.)

Professor Thomas Sowell writes Obama is the liberal who sought to associate with the more radical during his college days and Obama so stated in his first book. Sowell points out Obama has had an identity problem all along and has masked it with clever rhetoric.

Obama has consciously sought out those on the Far Left, his voting records attests to his convictions and yet he had to project a different persona once he chose to run for president and has been able to do so through rhetoric.

Sowell cites Shelby Steele's book; "A Bound Man" as further evidence of Obama's own racial and identification struggle and concludes it is no accident that Obama associates with and finds comfort in Rev. Wright's church.

Many months ago I wrote a piece and stated that should Obama be elected president America would wake up the next morning and ask: "We did what?"

Hillary is Liberal enough but with Obama and the current Congress this nation will swing even further in that direction. I believe Obama would seek to institute government dictated programs whose very purpose is to right actual and or perceived social injustice under the rubric of healing and change and the consequence will be more divisiveness. He will seek to raise taxes when we actually need tax reform and simplification because the deficit, as high as it is, is still the lowest as a percent of GDP in decades. He will seek to negotiate from a position of weakness and confused belief that you can do business with radical terrorists and achieve agreements that are trustworthy and bankable. Finally, as with President Clinton, much of the money to fund his ideas will come from the defense budget.

I write this because I have looked beyond Obama's mellifluous rhetoric and this is what I believe I have found.

"Caveat Emptor" (See 5 below.)


1)Lebanese Hizballah fights in Basra in first overt appearance on Iraqi battlefield

Military sources report that heavy fighting was sparked in the southern Iraqi oil hub city Tuesday, March 25, by the major clean-up campaign embarked on by Iraqi government forces under prime minister Nouri al Maliki‘s personal command. It was the governments first challenge to the dominant new armed force, the Hizballah Brigades of Iraq, which our sources report raised its head in mid-January in several parts of the country, including Baghdad. More than 20 dead and 58 injured reported in the first hours of the Iraqi clampdown. The Shiite town of Kut close to Basra is under curfew.

Some of Muqtada Sadr’s Mehdi Army followers threatened civil revolt in solidarity with Hizballah. The two radical Shiite groups are closely allied.

2) Report: Saudi King plans interfaith summit for Jews, Muslims, Christians
By Yoav Stern

In a rare departure from government practice, Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah is planning to convene an interfaith conference for Muslims, Christians and Jews, according to the Saudi-owned Al-Sharq al-Awsat newspaper.

The call for religious dialog to include Jews is the first by the monarch, whose country's laws prohibit the importation of non-Muslim religious objects including Crucifixes and Stars of David.

The Saudi King said representatives of the three major monotheistic faiths need to work together "to defend humanity" from harm, speaking in an address he delivered in Riyadh on Monday.

Al-Sharq al-Awsat, which is published in London, quoted King Abdullah as saying he had discussed idea of a summit to promote religious dialog a number of months ago with the Pope.

"I proposed to him to address God by means of the commandments he commanded the monotheistic faiths in the bible, the New Testament, and the Koran," the king said.

The monarch said he is disturbed by the breakdown of the family unit across the world, as well as the damaged to the principle of "loyalty to humanity."

"I plan, god willing, to hold summits - not just one - so as to hear the opinion of my Muslim brothers all over the world. We will start to meet with our brothers in every faith I have mentioned - the bible and the New Testament," he said.

King Abdullah said the kingdom's top clerics had given him the green light to pursue the idea.

3) Jewish Democrats: Half pro-Clinton, half pro-Obama
By Shmuel Rosner

You will keep hearing many stories and analysts questioning Obama's standing among Jews. A great story, full of drama, with one tiny problem: Where's the proof?


This new Gallup poll, focused on the attention on the Democratic Jewish voters and their preferences, is first and foremost proof that the Jewish vote counts, and that in the race between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama it plays a distinct role.

As I wrote more than once, some aspects of the debates related to Obama?s background and advisors and true beliefs, originated and culminated in the American Jewish community. For example, the role former Clinton advisor Rob Malley is playing in Obama's campaign, on which I wrote: "This specific showdown over Obama's candidacy is a dispute between Jews."

So, the people of Gallup have decided to dedicate a poll to this small, influential, and unique group of voters. They show a slight preference for Clinton over Obama, 48% to 43%. This should not come as a huge surprise to readers of this column: "Many Jews would vote for Obama, especially the younger generation. With all the brouhaha about him and Israel, and Farrakhan, and the smear campaign, and the emails and all the rest, Obama has many Jewish followers, and will have even more if he wins the nomination."

2.As the exit polls have shown in the past, Obama has won the Jewish vote in a number of states. He faired well in Massachusetts and Connecticut, and was able to overcome Clinton in California.

With the Gallup poll in hand he can now say that the effort to woo the Jewish vote has paid off. Based on interviews with 348 Jewish Democratic voters, the poll tells us that like the rest of the Democratic field, "So far this month, all Democratic voters regardless of religious affiliation are equally divided (46% each) in their nomination preferences between Clinton and Obama".

3.The poll is very sketchy and does not have many other details with which to try and draw further conclusions about the Jewish voters it is talking about. It does contain, though, comparisons to other religious groups.

"Clinton does better among Catholic Democratic voters, leading Obama by nearly 20 percentage points" and Protestants, similarly to Jews, "divide about equally between Obama (47%) and Clinton (44%)". Democrats with no religious preference prefer Obama (54% to 40%), as do "those who practice non-Christian religions (61% to 32%)". The latter, some will definitely point out, include the Muslim voters, who while they may be few in number, are a group that can play an important role in some crucial states.

4. You will keep hearing many stories and analysts questioning the standings of Obama among Jews. Here are some examples from the last couple of days:

Obama Walks a Difficult Path as He Courts Jewish Voters reported the New York Times. And this commentator wrote that "If I were advising Barack Obama, I would make a concerted effort to woo Jewish America back into his camp". And finally, this piece from UPI is quoting the not-exactly bi-partisan American Thinker which states that "Democratic presidential contender Barack Obama is having a difficult time connecting with Jewish voters".

A great story, full of drama, with this one tiny problem: is it even true?

5. One last word of caution: We do not know yet the extent to which the Wright affair will influence the Jewish vote (the Gallup poll, though, can give some indication that it did not hurt badly Obama so far). I believe that John McCain has a better chance of gaining more Jewish voters than his two Republican predecessors (Bush & Bush) did, and I also believe that future surprises might change the tendencies of some of the Jewish voters.

And there is another question: What will the half of Jewish Democratic voters that prefer Clinton over Obama do if he becomes the nominee? Will they vote for him, like most Democrats will definitely do, will some of them defect, or will many do no such thing? We cannot answer this question with the data that's available now.

However, I think that most of those believing that Obama has a real problem with the Jewish vote are those who want him to have such a problem. They have no way of proving it, and tend to ignore the great promise that's inherent to the Obama candidacy from the narrow Jewish point of view. "A promise no Jewish liberal can ignore."

4) Cultural Affirmative-action
By Selwyn Duke

In a way, I prefer the old, overt affirmative action. While it was government-sanctioned discrimination, at least it was, in some measure, more honest than our cultural affirmative action. There is such a thing. It's when people in the market and media privilege others -- sometimes unconsciously -- based upon the latter's identification with a "victim group."

Probably a majority of Americans in some degree or other practice cultural affirmative action. They have the best of intentions, many feeling an obligation to right history's wrongs. And they point to continuing disparities disadvantaging blacks as a group. So they make an extra effort to be sensitive and maybe once in awhile the ones with power even let their thumb rest on the scale when it comes to redressing past grievances

This phenomenon is what Geraldine Ferraro referred to recently when she addressed Barack Obama's meteoric political rise and said, "If Obama was a white man, he would not be in this position." Pundits have condemned her for this unfashionable utterance, but it's no insight. It's a truth hiding in plain sight.

What do you think Bill Clinton was referring to when he said that he wanted his cabinet to "look like America," meritocracy or quota orthodoxy? Yet Clinton isn't alone; he merely gave voice to common practice. Would Joycelyn Elders (the poster girl for AA) have been Surgeon General if she weren't a black woman? Would Ruth Bader Ginsberg and Sandra Day O'Connor have ascended to the Supreme Court and Janet Reno been Attorney General if they weren't female? And, as Ferraro noted herself, she would never have been the 1984 vice-presidential candidate but for her fairer-sex status.

Cultural affirmative action manifests itself in all arenas, not just politics. A perfect example is Michelle Wie, the female golfer who set her sights on tackling the men's tour. Based mainly on braggadocio and a fawning media bent on portraying her as an Amazon golfer who would teach the boys a lesson or two, she was granted entry into numerous PGA tournaments, even though untold numbers of male golfers were more deserving. Of course, some will point out that she is quite gifted. Others will say that the market spoke.

That is my point.

Sure, Wie is no duffer, just as the other folks I mentioned have their talents; Ginsberg, O'Connor and Reno know how to negotiate the law, Rice and Ferraro understand politics and Elders can provide comic relief. Yet ability wasn't the factor most relevant to their rise. As for the market, that is precisely the entity that effects cultural affirmative action. People glommed onto Wie at least partially because they believe that breaking down sex barriers is healthy and that her success would have represented another step forward in female/male equality. Cognizant of this "market," politicians, media outlets, and others know that if their hires and appointees don't "look like America," America -- or at least its squeakiest wheels -- will look at them with suspicion.

As for Obama, I personally know of a white man in Illinois who supports him because he " ... always wanted to see one [a black man or a woman] in the White House."


This may or may not be a wise or just practice for voters. But as with most other aspects of cultural affirmative action, we are not allowed to notice it. It is taboo. The idea that Obama's race is an asset is so true that even the scoffers sometimes unwittingly affirm it. Writing at, Ruben Navarrette characterized Ferraro's comments as "bitter, envious and foolish" and wrote,

"As Republican strategist and CNN contributor Leslie Sanchez noted, it takes chutzpah for someone who herself benefited from the politics of gender to accuse someone else of benefiting from the politics of race."

Note that Sanchez did not say that Ferraro was wrong; she simply implied it was hypocritical for her to level such an accusation.

Yet denial of the obvious isn't uncommon. I heard both Bill O'Reilly and Dick Morris (whose predictions usually don't match the reliability of a weather forecast) both dismiss Ferraro's assertion. How can politics wonks be so blind? Or is it that they will not see?

It depends on the individual. Some people are so imbued with leftist orthodoxy that they interpret everything through the black=oppressed/white=privileged prism and divide their world into victims and victimizers. By their lights, the idea that a social phenomenon could benefit the former is too preposterous to consider.

They may be doing no favor to blacks with this attitude. Writing in the Financial Times, Christopher Caldwell notes a just-published book:

A very interesting book published this week shows why. In Racial Paranoia (Basic Books, $26/£15.99), the University of Pennsylvania anthropologist John L. Jackson Jr suggests that extravagant theories of white racism - from the widespread Aids rumour to Louis Farrakhan's allegation that the US actually blew up the levees to cause the deadly New Orleans floods during Hurricane Katrina - have their roots in the decorous language that mostly white leaders have invented for talking about race.

The US has not managed to eliminate racism, Mr Jackson thinks, but it has succeeded in eliminating racist talk. Remarks the slightest bit "insensitive" draw draconian punishment. White people, because they feel thoroughly oppressed by this regime, assume that it must be some kind of "gift" to minorities, especially blacks.

It is not. It is more like a torment. It renders the power structure more opaque to blacks than it has ever been, leaving what Mr Jackson calls a "scary disconnect between the specifics of what gets said and the hazy possibilities of what kinds of things are truly meant". If the historic enemies of your people suddenly began talking about you in what can fairly be called a secret code, how inclined would you be to trust in their protestations of generosity?

But then, to paraphrase George Orwell, in every age there is a big, uncomfortable truth that no one dares mention. In many cases, this simply means lying, paying homage to the dogma of the day so as to avoid becoming anathema. Yet in other cases the lie takes a more subtle form.

Discerning an unfashionable truth presents one with a dilemma. He either must profess it, which can mean career destruction and ostracism -- being loathed by others -- or he can refuse to do so, which, if he is sincere of heart, can mean he will loathe himself. In other words, if he withholds it, he may feel like a phony; worse still, if asked about it, he may feel compelled to lie. The latter especially makes it hard to like yourself.

So many choose a different route: They lie to themselves. It isn't difficult; all that is necessary is to deny the matter its day in your mind's court. If you simply refuse to examine all the relevant facts -- if you avoid searching for the truth -- there is little danger of finding it. It's that famous human ability known as rationalization.

Perhaps you thought affirmative action was in its death throes, with all the state referenda and court rulings against it. We have the cultural variety, and it will be with us a while longer. Maybe long enough for people to be able to talk about it.

5) The Audacity of Rhetoric
By Thomas Sowell

It is painful to watch defenders of Barack Obama tying themselves into knots trying to evade the obvious.

Some are saying that Senator Obama cannot be held responsible for what his pastor, Jeremiah Wright, said. In their version of events, Barack Obama just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time -- and a bunch of mean-spirited people are trying to make something out of it.

It makes a good story, but it won't stand up under scrutiny.

Barack Obama's own account of his life shows that he consciously sought out people on the far left fringe. In college, "I chose my friends carefully," he said in his first book, "Dreams From My Father."

These friends included "Marxist professors and structural feminists and punk rock performance poets" -- in Obama's own words -- as well as the "more politically active black students." He later visited a former member of the terrorist Weatherman underground, who endorsed him when he ran for state senator.

Obama didn't just happen to encounter Jeremiah Wright, who just happened to say some way out things. Jeremiah Wright is in the same mold as the kinds of people Barack Obama began seeking out in college -- members of the left, anti-American counter-culture.

In Shelby Steele's brilliantly insightful book about Barack Obama -- "A Bound Man" -- it is painfully clear that Obama was one of those people seeking a racial identity that he had never really experienced in growing up in a white world. He was trying to become a convert to blackness, as it were -- and, like many converts, he went overboard.

Nor has Obama changed in recent years. His voting record in the U.S. Senate is the furthest left of any Senator. There is a remarkable consistency in what Barack Obama has done over the years, despite inconsistencies in what he says.

The irony is that Obama's sudden rise politically to the level of being the leading contender for his party's presidential nomination has required him to project an entirely different persona, that of a post-racial leader who can heal divisiveness and bring us all together.

The ease with which he has accomplished this chameleon-like change, and entranced both white and black Democrats, is a tribute to the man's talent and a warning about his reliability.

There is no evidence that Obama ever sought to educate himself on the views of people on the other end of the political spectrum, much less reach out to them. He reached out from the left to the far left. That's bringing us all together?

Is "divisiveness" defined as disagreeing with the agenda of the left? Who on the left was ever called divisive by Obama before that became politically necessary in order to respond to revelations about Jeremiah Wright?

One sign of Obama's verbal virtuosity was his equating a passing comment by his grandmother -- "a typical white person," he says -- with an organized campaign of public vilification of America in general and white America in particular, by Jeremiah Wright.

Since all things are the same, except for the differences, and different except for the similarities, it is always possible to make things look similar verbally, however different they are in the real world.

Among the many desperate gambits by defenders of Senator Obama and Jeremiah Wright is to say that Wright's words have a "resonance" in the black community.

There was a time when the Ku Klux Klan's words had a resonance among whites, not only in the South but in other states. Some people joined the KKK in order to advance their political careers. Did that make it OK? Is it all just a matter of whose ox is gored?

While many whites may be annoyed by Jeremiah Wright's words, a year from now most of them will probably have forgotten about him. But many blacks who absorb his toxic message can still be paying for it, big-time, for decades to come.

Why should young blacks be expected to work to meet educational standards, or even behavioral standards, if they believe the message that all their problems are caused by whites, that the deck is stacked against them? That is ultimately a message of hopelessness, however much audacity it may have.