Thursday, December 30, 2010

So What If You Break Some Eggs To Bake The Cake!

Again, Healthy, Happy New Year!
There are times when back seat drivers serve useful roles. Such times are when the driver is arrogant, filled with feelings of self-importance, drunk with heady power and is decidedly taking the car over the cliff.

Obama, Pelosi and Reid had the power, displayed arrogance and were ideologically hell bent on taking the car over the cliff.

Voters proved the ultimate back seat drivers. They did not embrace the Republicans as much as they rejected Obamism.

Obama's first two years as president could be described by the word 'contempt' and I suspect he plans to be perceived as the compromising president in the next two.

Now that he successfully forced costly budget busting and unwanted legislation upon the electorate he will position himself as the fiscally prudent president in order to win re-election.

In the past few days Obama made an interim appointment of the number two man to the Justice Department knowing confirmation hearings would raise a storm. This man believes 9/11 was an act of criminals. Thus, Obama remains outside mainstream philosophical views.

All presidents come into office believing their focus will be domestic but world events prove otherwise.

Now that we are a fiscally weakened nation, I suspect Obama will gut the military as most Liberal presidents do when faced with budget constraints.

The way this is done generally takes three forms:

a) Slash the bloated Pentagon budget which then leads to,

b) Cancellations of equipment purchases and /or

c) Stretch outs which eventually raise the cost per item and costs more in the long run.

Consequently, Republicans will now be forced to do the heavy lifting. Politicians are averse to visiting pain upon constituents so It will be interesting to watch Obama blame the Republicans while he continues to project care and concern for the 'little people.'

Stay tuned because our nation is in for a continuing wild ride.
It is abundantly evident Palestinians are convinced their game of delay will help them capture their ultimate goal, ie. the take over of the entire region leaving Israelis in the minority.

Palestinians want to be recognized for who they are but deny the same right and privilege to the Israelis. Yet, the world demands Israel negotiate with those who seek their sublimation and ultimate destruction. (See 1 below.)
The 111th Congress was the best ever if judged by the fact that it accomplished what extreme Liberals wanted. However, if measured by what the voters thought and wanted it was an unmitigated disaster for the extreme Liberals.

Pelosi did not care, however, because she concluded you need to break some eggs to bake the cake, ie. the end justifies the means by which you get there (See 2 below.)
Italy next and what about us? You decide. (See 3 and 3a below.)
A thought provoking article about Hezballah, the importance of symbols and cyber warfare. (See 4 below.)
Control, stifle, dispirit and eventually defeat them with zealous regulatory stealth. Is that the way Obama will bring further change and turn us into the nation he envisions we should be? ie. underneath Congress and radar. (See 5 below.)
1) Palestinian Objective: Inheriting the Zionist Success?
By Yisrael Ne'eman

What does the Palestinian national movement as represented by the Palestinian Authority (PA) truly want in its negotiations with the State of Israel? Despite continuing discussions of a two-state solution it appears they would prefer one bi-national state. A one state solution will award Palestinians with citizenship and inheritance of the economic benefits of living in the State of Israel, all this despite complaints by Israeli Arabs (or "Palestinian Arabs with Israeli citizenship" as they call themselves) of lack of economic success and mobility. In a short amount of time Arabs living from the Mediterranean Sea to the Jordan River will be a majority and may even be so today should we include the Hamas controlled Gaza Strip. If not, then if we just wait for a few years from now, Jews will be the minority. In any case the demographic tipping point appears to be on the way.

The Palestinians refuse to recognize Israel as the Jewish State in the ethnic/national sense. Such denial not only infers their unwillingness to accept Jewish nationalism as legitimate but makes clear their future intentions and policies, that of turning Israel into an Arab State with a Jewish minority. Here we return to the Jewish National Home idea as expressed in the Balfour Declaration and the internationally accepted British administered Palestine Mandate. Viewing the moderate secular Arab perspective this is as far as any were willing to go, full Jewish sovereignty will not be recognized nor does Israel have agreements with the Arab world recognizing her as a Jewish State. The Palestinians see no reason to do so and are aware that demography is on their side.

The overall Palestinian perspective is two-pronged – exploit Israeli democracy and economic development to the fullest and eliminate the Jewish/Zionist character of the state. The best example is the theoretical issue of land swaps between Israel and a future Palestinian Arab State in the Wadi Ara region. Umm el-Fahm is an Israeli Arab city of several tens of thousands bordering the West Bank. Over the past decade or so city residents consistently vote for the Islamic Front (akin to Hamas in Israel but a bit more circumspect, as they remain within all legal frameworks). When polled on several occasions as to whether they would prefer living in the future Palestinian State or in Israel, on average some 90% say they would not want a land swap putting them in a Palestinian State where their full national rights would be embodied in all state symbols, authorities and functions.

Over the years PA Chairman Yasir Arafat consistently said "No" or refused to present plans for the implementation of a two-state solution. Full Palestinian refugee return to Israel was always a condition with no compromise in sight. Today's President Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) is a traditional Fatah functionary who may be more refined in his approach, but he holds to the same line both as concerns refusing to recognize Israel as a Jewish State and as it appears concerning refugee return. According to UN Res. 194 (Dec. 1948) refugees can return provided "they live at peace with their neighbors" or they can be paid "compensation". The Palestinians are the only people with permanent refugee status (not two years like all others) that can be passed down onto the furthest generations. No one else has the right to such an eternal internationally recognized status.

As far as the traditional Fatah stalwarts are concerned, they are waiting as time is on their side. They have a point. Much more western oriented and secular, PM Salam Fayyad at least publicly advocates a two-state solution. This may be only for tactical reasons to gain western support, but should such an approach fail he too might decide to let everything slide into a one state solution.

The Palestinians are no fools, they see a sweeping demographic Jerusalemization of Israel in general. Jerusalem has over 35% Arabs whereas in 1967 there were less than 25%. Add into that the haredi or ultra-orthodox residents, most of whom do not support, or are in outright opposition to the secular, non-halachic Jewish State and the majority of Jerusalem's population object or are indifferent to the continued existence of a Jewish and democratic State of Israel with or without its imperfections. We can now extrapolate to the State of Israel as a whole. When we add some 2.5 million West Bank Palestinians and 1.5 million "Palestinians with Israeli citizenship" we arrive at four million. The word on the street (the suggestion is to speak with Arabs living in Israel or the West Bank) is that the average Arab prefers a one-state bi-national solution.

On the political diplomatic side one can scream forever about Israeli settlements in the West Bank (Judea and Samaria) but most of the hysteria originates from the West and particularly the Obama Administration as of late. The Palestinians liked nothing better than the halt to all negotiations as a result of settlements, and in truth they would like nothing better than for Israel to keep up settlement activity to the point of no return, making "disentanglement" impossible. It is only a matter of time until Palestinian Arabs are the majority or close to it. Should there be no two-state solution in sight one can rest assured of continued Arab/Muslim pressure on the nations of the world and international bodies to ensure their "enfranchisement" or acquisition of full Israeli citizenship. Once upon becoming a majority (and more immediately so if one adds in Gaza's 1.5 million residents) Palestinian refugee return is assured through democratic parliamentary process.

Israel is like a pelican attempting to swallow an overly large fish. Stuck in its throat it can neither swallow nor regurgitate its catch - the pelican is far too small. Such is the Jewish State. As mentioned in these columns numerous times, western Jewry never bought into the classical Zionist idea of aliyah, if they did it was Zionism on their own terms and from afar – visits, financial, political and diplomatic support. Not to mention that Diaspora Jewish support is not what it used to be, many have distanced themselves from the Jewish State, especially the younger generation. None of this is a secret to the Palestinian leadership.

As long as the Right/Religious hold the government to a "Greater Land of Israel" policy of absorbing the entire West Bank (Judea and Samaria) in practice the Palestinians know their chances of inheriting the State of Israel and all its achievements are a distinct possibility. With a much higher birth rate than the Jewish population, why negotiate?

Just yesterday in an interview with two Channel 10 reporters Israel's supposedly hard line PM Benyamin Netanyahu explained his willingness for a two-state solution provided the Palestinians recognize Israel as a "Jewish State" and insisted that the Palestinian state-to-be is demilitarized. He too knows the demographic game is up.

And the final factor – as unpleasant as it may sound. No one knows what direction the haredi rabbis representing an estimated population of 700,000 will take. A small minority will certainly support the Palestinians while the "hardalnikim" or nationalist haredi factions will support the State of Israel as they already do. But what of those who are in the middle, the a-Zionists who sit on the fence, demand draft deferments and massive funding for yeshivas and do not actively support the state? Will they take up modern Jewish nationalism or cocoon themselves into closed communities and await Messianic salvation? Will they keep their options open while neither serving in the Israeli army nor participating in the economy? If the Arab world offers a "better deal" or one they cannot refuse they may very well abandon their tenuous alliance with the secular Jewish State and revert to being just a "religious community". In the eyes of the Arabs they will pose no threat and possibly be seen as an asset on the diplomatic front.

All this is known to the Palestinians and if allowed to they will negotiate forever. Seemingly having jettisoned the "armed struggle" it is a matter of Palestinian Arab patience awaiting the pieces to fall into place. They can then inherit a modern state structure from an adversary unvanquished on the battlefield.
2)The Liberal Reckoning of 2010
The year voters saw the left's unvarnished agenda and said no.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid sent out a press release last week headlined "111th Congress Accomplishments." It quoted a couple of Democratic Party cheerleaders calling this the greatest Congress since 1965-66 (Norm Ornstein) or even the New Deal (David Leonhardt), and listed in capital letters no fewer than 30 legislative triumphs: Health Care Reform, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, a Jobs Package (HIRE Act), the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, Food Safety, the Travel Promotion Act, Student Loan Reform, Hate Crimes Prevention, and so much more.

What the release did not mention is the loss of 63 House and six Senate seats, and a mid-December Gallup poll approval rating of 13%. Never has a Congress done so much and been so despised for it.

While this may appear to be a contradiction, it is no accident or even much of a surprise. The liberal wing of the Democratic Party had been waiting since the 1960s for its next great political opening, as we warned in an October 17, 2008 editorial, "A Liberal Supermajority." Critics and some of our readers scored us at the time for exaggerating, but in retrospect we understated the willful nature of that majority.

Democrats achieved 60 Senate votes by an historical accident of prosecutorial abuse (Ted Stevens), a stolen election (Al Franken) and a betrayal (Arlen Specter). They then attempted to do nearly everything we expected, regardless of public opinion, and they only stopped because the clock ran out.

Editorial Board Member Matt Kaminski on the winners and losers of 2010.
.The real story of 2010 is that the voters were finally able to see and judge this liberal agenda in its unvarnished form. For once, there was no Republican President to muddle the message or divide the accountability. The public was able to compare the promise of 8% unemployment if the government spent $812 billion on "stimulus" with the 9.8% jobless result. They stood athwart liberal history in the making and said, "Stop."

Note well, however, that the Democrats still standing on Capitol Hill remain unchastened. In her exit interviews, Speaker Nancy Pelosi has said she would do it all the same way again, and her colleagues have seconded her lack of remorse by keeping her as their leader despite their November thumping. Her consolation to defeated Democrats was not to invite them to the House caucus meeting when she denounced President Obama's tax deal with Republicans.

Note, too, that the organized left and its media allies are also beginning to rewrite the story of the 111th Congress as an historical triumph. The same people who claimed that ObamaCare was a defeat because it lacked a public option are suddenly noting it will put 32 million more Americans on the government health-care dole. It won't be long before liberals and the press are defending the 111th Congress's every achievement as historic.

There is a lesson here both about modern liberalism and for Republicans who will soon have more power in Congress. For today's left, the main goal of politics is not to respond to public opinion. The goal is to impose the dream of an egalitarian entitlement state whether the public likes it or not. Sooner or later, they figure, the anger will subside and Americans will come to like the cozy confines of the cradle-to-grave welfare state.

This is the great Democratic bet with ObamaCare. The assumption is that once the benefits start to flow in 2013 the constituency for "free" health care will grow. As spending and deficits climb, the pressure for higher taxes will become inexorable and the GOP will splinter into its balanced budget and antitax wings. A value-added tax or some other money-machine will pass and guarantee that the government will control 40% to 50% of all

.If the price of this bet was losing control of the House for a moment in time in 2010, Mrs. Pelosi's view is so be it. You have to break a few Blue Dog careers to build a European welfare state. Liberals figure that as long as President Obama can be re-elected in 2012, their gamble will pay off and the legacy of the 111th Congress will be secure. The cheerleaders will write books about it.

The lesson for Republicans is to understand the nature of their political opponents and this long-term bet. The GOP can achieve all kinds of victories in the next two years, and some of them will be important for economic growth. But the main chance is ObamaCare, which will fundamentally change the balance of power between government and individuals if it is not repealed or replaced.

While repeal will no doubt founder in the Senate in the next two years, Republicans can still use their House platform to frame the debate for 2012. They can hold hearings to educate the public about rising insurance costs and other nasty ObamaCare consequences. And they can use the power of the purse to undermine its implementation.

The difference between the work of the 111th Congress and that of either the Great Society or New Deal is that the latter were bipartisan and in the main popular. This Congress's handiwork is profoundly unpopular and should become more so as its effects become manifest. In 2010, Americans saw liberalism in the raw and rejected it. The challenge for Republicans is to repair the damage before it becomes permanent.
3)Evans-Pritchard: Italy Next to Crumble in Europe
By Greg Brown

Investors fearful of the spread of the eurozone crisis to its bigger economies have begun to demand higher returns on Italian sovereign debt, up 10 basis points to 4.86 percent on 10-year bonds following a weak short-term auction.

The fear is that the Italian economy will slip into the miasma of Greece, Portugal, and Spain, reports Ambrose Evans-Pritchard in London daily The Telegraph.

Part of the problem, Evans-Pritchard reports, is that Germany turned against issuing eurozone bonds to support the failing southern economies and rejected an increase in the 440 billion euro ($585.05 billion) EU rescue fund.

Another risk is that Italy is simply too big to be saved by the healthier EU economies, if it came to that, Evans-Pritchard writes. Italian public debt, while balanced somewhat by high private savings and low private debt, is nevertheless set to reach 120 percent of GDP, the Telegraph international business editor warned.

“Low private debt may equally reflect deep pessimism in a country where growth has been glacial for a decade, productivity has fallen since 1995, and global export share is in steep decline,” writes Evans-Pritchard.

Greece continues to struggle as larger economies, including Spain, bat away negative headlines while scrambling to shore up finances. That has new entrants to the currency union like Slovakia questioning the wisdom of jumping from one sinking ship to another, even if it is larger.

Put simply, new EU nations are being asked to help pay for Greek retirements as the price of admission to the euro club.

Slovak politicians are grabbing hold of this sentiment to argue against having joined the single currency, writing newspaper editorials promoting a return to the former national currency.

"It seems that they allowed us to enter only to pay for their debts," Petra Hargasova, a 22-year old economics student, told The Associated Press.
3a)The Future and the United States
By Steve McCann

As the opening decade of the twenty-first century draws to a close, what is the future of the United States in an increasingly complex and fluid world order?

In a prospective global scenario in which China dominates and reshapes Asia, India becomes a major economic power and extends its influence into Africa, Islam continues to spread its brand of social dominion, and Europe has become a loose confederation of states trying to maintain some semblance of importance, what role will the United States play?

It has become conventional wisdom that over the next 25 to thirty years, the United States will continue to experience a precipitous decline, and that China will become the dominant power in the world alongside the massive growth of countries such as India and Brazil. In short, according to the doom-and-gloom crowd, the days of U.S. world influence may well be over.

This assumes the global scenario of the past few centuries when just one part of the world dominated international affairs. That has been Europe (and by extension, the United States). Globalization combined with foolhardy economic and social policies has diffused power away from the West. But that power is moving to countries that have within their societies many built-in factors that will limit their ability to achieve global hegemonic power.

In the case of both China and India, their overwhelming populations and the increasing demands by the people for a piece of the expanding economic pie will force these countries to focus more on internal matters or risk societal upheaval. China, for example, if foolish enough to physically conquer other lands, will only add to its unsustainable internal burden. China can therefore be expected to rely instead on economic supremacy within its own sphere of influence.

Those nations dominated by Islamic fundamentalism will not experience growth, as the nature of their vision of Islam will prevent the expansion of capitalism. In order to keep their populations at bay, brutality will be the order of the day. Their major source of income, the exploitation of natural resources (mainly oil), can be replaced as other nations, such as the United States, tap into their own vast reserves of petroleum-related resources.

Europe will continue its decline, with Russia clinging desperately to past days of glory as a world superpower. However, with the negative birth rates throughout the continent and the widespread fealty to social democracy, Europe's influence will wane as the years go by, and within forty years, it will resemble the European city-states of the Middle Ages -- but still a major consumer and economic arena.

Thus, the world that will arise from these factors is not one of domination by one country or region, but one that contains numerous centers of power.

As these centers of power mature, they will take care of security and military matters within their domain. As long as nuclear weapons exist and these nations have them, the old Cold War theory of mutually assured destruction will act as a deterrent against global war. Within their orbit, these nations will have greater incentive to constrain the rogue states and dictators from obtaining weapons of mass destruction, as they will not want to risk conflagration and destroy their power base. Thus, the United States will not be alone in maintaining peace and acting as the world's policeman.

Beyond just military or security issues, the United States will be even more vital in this new world order.

These new centers of power will require a clearinghouse or arbitrator that has its foot in the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian Ocean spheres of influence. Only the United States is in this position -- due not only to factors of geography, but also to the melting-pot influence of the population and the sheer size of its economy.

However, it is incumbent on the United States to get its house in order. Fiscal and monetary policy must recognize the reality of current financial mismanagement. The current ruling class and its Euro-socialist mindset must be replaced with those who are willing to deal with these matters honestly and lead the American people with honor and integrity. The first (albeit embryonic) steps were taken in the midterm election of 2010, but much more needs to be done and equitable sacrifices made by all segments of society.

Further, the country must focus on becoming the foremost haven for business in the world and revamp its foreign policy that is still based on the twentieth-century model of superpower confrontation.

The matter that could throw the remainder of this century into worldwide chaos and the United States into anarchy is not the emergence of other nations, but the collapse of the United States. That overall possibility rests solely in the hands of the American people.

There is no need to fear the future. The American century can continue, and the United States can become an even greater influence on world events. The factors are there.
4)Hizbullah and the information war
By Caroline B. Glick

What Hizbullah knows and many in the West still don't

On January 15 the UN's Special Tribunal for Lebanon is scheduled to issue indictments against a number of Hizbullah operatives for the murder of former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri in February 2005. All of Lebanon and much of the region is waiting in suspense that grows with each passing day.

The news that Hizbullah would be fingered by the prosecutors was first made public in July. Since then, Hizbullah chief Hassan Nasrallah has threatened repeatedly to set fire to Lebanon and perhaps Israel if Daniel Bellemare, the chief prosecutor dares to go forward. Given Hizbullah's track record of war, murder and intimidation, no one doubts that the Iranian-proxy force will keep its promise if it comes to that.

Almost immediately after Hizbullah was named as the central suspect in Hariri's assassination, Hizbullah's ally Syria began negotiating a deal with Saudi Arabia, which serves as the patron of Lebanon's Sunni community. The goal of these talks is to get Hizbullah off the hook, "in order to preserve stability."

Bellemare made clear this week that he will not be influenced by politics in dispatching his duties to the law. If he is true to his word, then Hizbullah members will certainly be indicted for assassinating Hariri next month.

What this means is that the most attractive option for Hizbullah and its allies right now is to discredit the tribunal. To this end, Hizbullah has repeatedly characterized the UN tribunal as an Israeli and American plot. Syria has insisted that the Lebanese who testified before the tribunal gave false testimony.

While these allegations may have convinced their supporters, both Syria and Hizbullah know that the only effective way to discredit the tribunal is to coerce Hariri's son, Prime Minister Saad Hariri to disavow the tribunal and withdraw Lebanese governmental support for its proceedings.

While such a move would probably have little impact on the tribunal's ultimate judgment, it might reduce the political impact of the indictments for Hizbullah in Lebanon.

And so according to Ha'aretz, Syrian dictator Bashar Assad and Saudi King Abdullah reached a deal in which Hariri Jr. will disavow the tribunal. In exchange, Hizbullah will agree not to murder him.

Hizbullah has not surprisingly announced its support for the deal. Hariri has given a series of contradictory statements that lend to the sense that he is trying to run down the clock. This week he met with Abdullah in New York where the Saudi despot is undergoing medical treatment. On Wednesday he travelled to Saudi Arabia for further talks.

In the meantime, just to underline its willingness to make good on its threats, last week Hizbullah had its affiliated trade union, the National Union for Labor Syndicates stage a protest against the government. As Hanin Ghadar at the NOW Lebanon news portal noted, in the days leading up to the terror group's coup in May 2008, it had its labor affiliates stage similar protests.

And that brings us to the basic question of why is Hizbullah taking the tribunal so seriously? What does it care if its members are indicted for murdering Hariri? This is a terror group that has always been perfectly willing to kill in order to get its way. And everyone knows it.

Hizbullah operatives killed Hariri because he was irritating Nasrallah and Assad with all his talk about Lebanese sovereignty. Then they killed parliamentarian after parliamentarian to deny Hariri Jr.'s parliamentary majority the power to form a government or do anything else without Hizbullah agreement. When even that was insufficient to force the government to slavishly do its bidding, Hizbullah carried out its bloody coup in May 2008 in order to take over effective control of the government and the Lebanese army. So too, after the June 2009 elections, Hizbullah coerced members of Hariri's coalition to change sides and so prevented him from forming a coalition without Hizbullah receiving veto power over all government decisions.

And even if Hizbullah did care about what its fellow Lebanese think of it, the fact is that Hizbullah is not an independent actor. It is an Iranian proxy. And the Iranians have made clear that they do not care what the tribunal does. Iran's supreme dictator Ali Khamenei announced earlier this month that as far as Iran is concerned, the tribunal's judgments are null and void. In his words, "This court is a kangaroo court and every verdict it issues is rejected."

So again, why is Hizbullah so concerned about this tribunal?

Hizbullah is concerned because Hizbullah understands the power of symbols. No, its operatives will probably never be jailed for their crimes. But the tribunal is a symbol. If Bellmare dares to defy Hizbullah, then others might consider doing so.

On the other hand if Hizbullah is able to coerce Hariri to withdraw the Lebanese government's support for the tribunal and disavow its work, it will have demonstrated its strength and authority in a way that will deter others from challenging it.

Hizbullah's response to the specter of the Special Tribunal is not only interesting for what it tells us about prospects for Lebanon's future and for regional stability and peace. Hizbullah's response to the threat that its members will be exposed as Hariri's assassins teaches us interesting lessons about the nature of information warfare.

Information warfare is not simply a question of competing narratives, as it is often characterized in the West. Information war is a form of warfare whose aim is to use words, symbols and images to force people to take real action. These actions can involve everything from war to terrorism to surrender.

In closed societies, information warfare is used to cause people to rally around the side of the group conducting the information operation and to mobilize supporters to act against the chosen enemy. For instance, when its leadership is interested in inspiring terror attacks against Israel, the Palestinian Authority broadcasts around the clock incitement against Israel.

On May 8, 2001a group of Palestinians from a village adjacent to the Israeli community of Tekoa in Gush Etzion got their hands on two Jewish children Koby Mandell and Yosef Ishran from Tekoa. The two boys were bludgeoned to death with stones. The details of the butchery are unspeakable.

The question is what can make human beings butcher children? How can a person hurt a child the way that their killers hurt them?

The answer is Palestinian television.

In the weeks before the murder, PATV (funded by foreign donors) broadcast doctored footage around the clock of what they claimed were atrocities carried out by Israel. They showed doctored images of mutilated corpses and claimed that Israel had mutilated and abused them. Israel and Jews were so demonized by these false images that after awhile, the Palestinians watching these shows believed that Jews, including Jewish children, were all monsters who must be destroyed and made to pay for their imaginary crimes.

This was an act of information warfare that in the event, led Palestinians to butcher Koby Mandell and Yosef Ishran.

As for information warfare aimed at Westerners, here too, the Palestinian Authority, like Hizbullah has a long track record of success. Journalists know that the PA has no compunction about kidnapping, arresting and beating up reporters. They do it to Palestinian reporters routinely. With their sure knowledge, Western reporters who come in to the PA recognize that if they want to be safe, they have to report stories that will make the PA happy.

For instance, after a television crew from Italy's Mediaset network broadcast footage of the PA police-supported lynch mob murdering and dismembering IDF reservists Vadim Nozhitz and Yosef Avrahami in Ramallah in October 2000, Ricardo Cristiani, deputy chief of Italy's RAI television network's Jerusalem bureau published an apology in the PA's newspaper Al Hayat al Jadida.

Among other things, Cristiani wrote, "We [RAI] emphasize to all of you that the events did not happen this way, because we always respect (will continue to respect) the journalistic procedures with the Palestinian Authority for (journalistic) work in Palestine and we are credible in our precise work."

Fearing Palestinian revenge attacks, Mediaset was forced to shut down its offices. This week, Swedish and Danish police announced the arrest of four Muslim terrorists who were en route to carrying out a massacre at the Jyllands Posten newspaper. The attack was supposed to avenge the newspaper's publication of cartoons of Muhammed in 2005.

A US diplomatic cable leaked by WikiLeaks and published Monday by Sweden's Aftonbladet newspaper reported that Syria's Assad himself directed the information operation in 2006 that led to rioting against Denmark and Jyllands Posten throughout the Muslim world in 2006. Assad reportedly ordered Syria's Grand Mufti to incite his fellow imams to attack Denmark for publishing the pictures.

The Arab world's response to WikiLeaks shows just how powerful the incitement against Israel and Jews on the Arab psyche is. According to Hazem Saghiyah from the NOW Lebanon news portal, the Arab world was beset by confusion because Israel was not exposed as demonic by the WikiLeaks documents.

As Saghiyeh put it, for Arabs who have come to believe that Israel controls the world through its satanic power, "these documents should have provided the decisive argument" against Israel.

The fact that it is the Arab leadership, rather than Israel that has been exposed as lying and two-faced, makes the Arab world writ large view the WikiLeaks operation as a huge Zionist conspiracy.

What all of this shows is that information wars are not just about getting out the facts. Like kinetic warfare, they involve power plays, intimidation and the use of subconscious and visceral manipulation.

Israel has recently awoken to one aspect of information warfare. It has recognized the consequences of years of demonization of Israel in Europe and international organizations. But Israel has yet to awaken to the fact that it is a type of warfare and has to be countered with counter-information warfare.

Obviously this doesn't mean that Israel should begin acting like its enemies. But what it does mean is that Israel must begin using more hard-knuckle techniques to defend itself. It must begin targeting people's emotions as well has their minds.

For instance, when Israel is confronted by threats of lawsuits for acts of self-defense, it responds with defense attorneys. When the US was threatened with lawfare by Belgian courts, then secretary of defense Donald Rumsfeld responded by threatening to remove NATO headquarters from Belgium.

When Israel is accused of targeting Palestinian civilians, it responds by attaching legal advisors to combat units. What it should be doing instead is providing film footage of Palestinian children being trained as terrorists and exploited as human shields.

War is a dirty business. Information warfare is a dirty form of war. And if we don't want to lose, we'd better start fighting.
5)Government by regulation. Shhh.
By Charles Krauthammer

Most people don't remember Obamacare's notorious Section 1233, mandating government payments for end-of-life counseling. It aroused so much anxiety as a possible first slippery step on the road to state-mandated late-life rationing that the Senate never included it in the final health-care law.

Well, it's back - by administrative fiat. A month ago, Medicare issued a regulation providing for end-of-life counseling during annual "wellness" visits. It was all nicely buried amid the simultaneous release of hundreds of new Medicare rules.

Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.), author of Section 1233, was delighted. "Mr. Blumenauer's office celebrated 'a quiet victory,' but urged supporters not to crow about it," reports the New York Times. Deathly quiet. In early November, his office sent an e-mail plea to supporters: "We would ask that you not broadcast this accomplishment out to any of your lists . . . e-mails can too easily be forwarded." They had been lucky that "thus far, it seems that no press or blogs have discovered it. . . . The longer this [regulation] goes unnoticed, the better our chances of keeping it."

So much for the Democrats' transparency - and for their repeated claim that the more people learn what is in the health-care law, the more they will like it. Turns out ignorance is the Democrats' best hope.

And regulation is their perfect vehicle - so much quieter than legislation. Consider two other regulatory usurpations in just the past few days:

On Dec. 23, the Interior Department issued Secretarial Order 3310, reversing a 2003 decision and giving itself the authority to designate public lands as "Wild Lands." A clever twofer: (1) a bureaucratic power grab - for seven years up through Dec. 22, wilderness designation had been the exclusive province of Congress, and (2) a leftward lurch - more land to be "protected" from such nefarious uses as domestic oil exploration in a country disastrously dependent on foreign sources.

The very same day, the Environmental Protection Agency declared that in 2011 it would begin drawing up anti-carbon regulations on oil refineries and power plants, another power grab effectively enacting what Congress had firmly rejected when presented as cap-and-trade legislation.

For an Obama bureaucrat, however, the will of Congress is a mere speed bump. Hence this regulatory trifecta, each one moving smartly left - and nicely clarifying what the spirit of bipartisan compromise that President Obama heralded in his post-lame-duck Dec. 22 news conference was really about: a shift to the center for public consumption and political appearance only.

On that day, Obama finally embraced the tax-cut compromise he had initially excoriated, but only to avoid forfeiting its obvious political benefit - its appeal to independent voters who demand bipartisanship and are the key to Obama's reelection. But make no mistake: Obama's initial excoriation in his angry Dec. 7 news conference was the authentic Obama. He hated the deal.

Now as always, Obama's heart lies left. For those fooled into thinking otherwise by the new Obama of Dec. 22, his administration's defiantly liberal regulatory moves - on the environment, energy and health care - should disabuse even the most beguiled.

These regulatory power plays make political sense. Because Obama needs to appear to reclaim the center, he will stage his more ideological fights in yawn-inducing regulatory hearings rather than in the dramatic spotlight of congressional debate. How better to impose a liberal agenda on a center-right nation than regulatory stealth?

It's Obama's only way forward during the next two years. He will never get past the half-Republican 112th Congress what he could not get past the overwhelmingly Democratic 111th. He doesn't have the votes and he surely doesn't want the publicity. Hence the quiet resurrection, as it were, of end-of-life counseling.

Obama knows he has only so many years to change the country. In his first two, he achieved much: the first stimulus, Obamacare and financial regulation. For the next two, however, the Republican House will prevent any repetition of that. Obama's agenda will therefore have to be advanced by the more subterranean means of rule-by-regulation.

But this must simultaneously be mixed with ostentatious displays of legislative bipartisanship (e.g., the lame-duck tax-cut deal) in order to pull off the (apparent) centrist repositioning required for reelection. This, in turn, would grant Obama four more years when, freed from the need for pretense, he can reassert himself ideologically and complete the social-democratic transformation - begun Jan. 20, 2009; derailed Nov. 2, 2010 - that is the mission of his presidency.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Recapturing The Glory Days - Is It Possible?

Obama is more liked among Muslims than GW but public support for terrorism dropped faster under GW. (See 1 below.)
Outsourcing has favorable blow back consequences. (See 2 below.)
I have finished "Decision Points" and I will let the rest of the book speak for itself and encourage all to read it.

When one reflects back on the enormous things that hit GW, put them in perspective and make linkage of events prior to his becoming president which also had their impact, he comes out looking far better than contemporaries have concluded and history will only elevate his presidency in my opinion.

Reagan was deemed a buffoon, Truman a bankrupt ward hack and they are now revered as excellent CIO's as well they should be.
Another view of the economy. (See 3 below.)
Broken commitments one after the other?

Struggling to recapture 'gravitas?'

Lights out on missile defense? You decide. (See 4, 4a and 4b below.)
Saudis have obtained access to nuclear weapons and missiles from Pakistan! (See 5 below.)
Victor Davis Hanson puts America's current plight into historical perspective. Interesting must read article. (See 6 below.)
1)Is Obama's Muslim Outreach Working?
Public support for terrorism is still dropping in Islamic countries, but more slowly than it did during the Bush years close.

For two years, President Obama has labored to improve America's standing in the eyes of the Muslim world. He hasn't gotten anywhere with the governments of Iran, Syria, the Palestinian Authority or perhaps any other Muslim country. But with their publics, Mr. Obama is much better liked than his predecessor, which has yielded more favorable ratings for the U.S. in general.

This is worth noting—even though the people choose their government in very few Muslim-majority states—because America's popularity affects public approval of terrorism. Even where people cannot vote, the amount of terrorism will be influenced by whether terrorists are seen as heroes or villains.

A poll out this month from the Pew Research Center's Global Attitudes Project sheds interesting light on attitudes toward terrorism in several Muslim countries. The results are mildly encouraging for America—but not necessarily for Mr. Obama and his outreach efforts.

The survey gauges attitudes toward three crucial terrorism-related subjects: al Qaeda, Osama bin Laden and suicide bombings. The good news is that the proportion of pro-terror opinion continues to decline. The bad news is that the minority holding such views remains considerable.

For example, 20% of Egyptians, 23% of Indonesians and 34% of Jordanians say they hold favorable views of al Qaeda. Asked whether they have confidence that bin Laden will "do the right thing regarding world affairs," 19% of Egyptians, 25% of Indonesians and 14% of Jordanians responded positively. On the question of suicide bombing, 20% of Egyptians, 20% of Jordanians and 15% of Indonesians said it is "often" or "sometimes" justified (as opposed to "rarely" or "never").

At first glance, these results seem to reflect well on Mr. Obama's engagement project. A few years ago, these measures of support for terrorism were much higher. But the Pew report also offers a time-sequence chart, dating back to 2003, of answers to the question about bin Laden.

It shows an encouraging decrease in support for terrorism—but the largest drop came when George W. Bush was president. The sharpest decrease in terror support in Indonesia, Turkey and Lebanon came between 2003 and 2005; in Jordan, between 2005 and 2006; and in Nigeria and Egypt between 2006 and 2007.

Only in Pakistan was the largest drop between 2008 and 2009—but the poll was taken in April 2009, so Mr. Bush was in office more than Mr. Obama during that one-year interval. From 2009 to 2010, the one full-year interval of Mr. Obama's presidency for which Pew offers data, the decline was negligible everywhere except in Jordan, where the drop-off was smaller than it was from 2005 to 2006.

What does this all mean? More studies are needed before we can go much beyond guesswork. Both Mr. Bush and Mr. Obama wanted to drive down support for terrorism among Muslims. Mr. Bush's approach was to knock heads together and speak bluntly of the need for societal change. Mr. Obama's approach has been to curry favor with publics and rulers alike. Mr. Bush's approach may have worked better.

A ground-breaking Gallup poll conducted in 2001 and 2002 revealed that hostility toward the U.S. was rife in the Muslim world even before the U.S. invasion of Iraq. This, I believe, reflected U.S. support for Israel and for unpopular Muslim rulers, as well as resentment that America had eclipsed the Islamic world in power and achievement, contradicting the Quran's promise that Muslims will be supreme.

Perhaps for a brief moment after 9/11, many Muslims hoped that bin Laden had found the way to fight back against the infidels. In that case, Mr. Bush's fierce response may have quashed such hope and restored some realism.

Of course it may be that the critical factor in changing attitudes has not been U.S. policies but the actions of the terrorists themselves—who regularly turn their bombs against Muslims in Iraq, Jordan, Pakistan and elsewhere.

The data are too slender to sustain the claim that Mr. Bush's policies succeeded in turning much of the Muslim world against terrorism. But they are substantial enough to inform our understanding that Mr. Obama's approach has achieved little in this regard.

Mr. Muravchik is a fellow at the Foreign Policy Institute of the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies.
2)The Mistaken Attack on Outsourcing
When American firms grow abroad, they also grow domestically.

President Obama concluded his recent meeting with leading corporate executives with a call for more ideas about how to create jobs at home. With this meeting, he has begun to work toward a sorely needed rapprochement with the business community. The continued degradation of the relationship between that community and the White House serves no one.

Sound public policies surely matter, such as the provisions on expensing in the recently passed tax legislation, which will help spur investment. But the president could perform an even greater public service if he changed the way he has talked about the impact of American firms on the economy.

Since his presidential campaign, Mr. Obama has repeatedly said that the global operations of U.S. companies harm the country because they drain the American economy of jobs. His rhetoric about "tax breaks for companies that ship our jobs overseas" has populist resonance at a time of economic uncertainty, but it is also at odds with the available evidence about how globalizing firms affect the American economy. Moreover, it harms the popular understanding of our opportunities and challenges.

When American firms grow abroad, they also grow domestically, as demonstrated by research I conducted with C. Fritz Foley of Harvard and James R. Hines Jr. of the University of Michigan (published in the American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, 2009).

The data do not support the crude, fixed-pie intuition that firms either invest abroad or at home. Ten percent growth in American firms' foreign investment is associated with 3% growth in their domestic investment. And when firms grow abroad, their domestic exports and R&D activities grow especially, contrary to Mr. Obama's rhetoric.

Today, CEOs in this country look out on global markets that are growing at four or five times the pace of the U.S. economy. Foreign operations of all sorts are typically considerably more profitable than domestic opportunities would be. And, of course, American CEOs must compete with companies that are based—and that invest—all around the world.

Vilifying or penalizing American businesses for their global operations will only lead them to consider leaving the U.S.—or consider being bought by foreign companies. Such moves would hurt America by removing valuable headquarter jobs. Instead, Mr. Obama should emphasize how Americans succeed when our firms succeed world-wide. That formulation better captures reality and offers a more sensible way to engage businesses in a new spirit of cooperation.

The United Kingdom, Canada and Japan have all initiated reforms that explicitly recognize the benefits of their global firms by lowering penalties on their overseas activities. The U.K. government, for example, has initiated a restructuring of its corporate tax system, including a shift to a territorial system that does not tax the foreign income of British companies. According to the U.K. Treasury, the new system "will better reflect the global reality of modern business and will allow businesses based in the UK to be more competitive on the world stage supporting UK investment and jobs."

Mr. Obama could manifest a similar appreciation for his country's global firms by pushing significant corporate tax reform—such as making marginal rates more consistent with global norms and adopting a territorial system.

The president's recent trip to Asia—on which he was accompanied by CEOs of companies with major foreign operations—may signal a nascent appreciation for this crucial issue, and the president could reinforce the message at his upcoming State of the Union address. Altering the national conversation can help prevent the rise of a new economic protectionism that demonizes global firms.

Mr. Desai is a professor of finance at Harvard Business School.
3)Shiller: Second Recession Possible, Triggered by Weak Housing
By Greg Brown

The housing economist who predicted the massive housing crash sees a down year ahead and, worse, believes that renewed housing problems could trigger a second recession.

“It’s not entirely clear that this is a double-dip in housing, but it’s starting to look like housing is beginning to resume the downtrend from 2006 to 2009,” says Robert Shiller, Yale professor and co-creator of the S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Index.

The latest Case-Shiller numbers show prices fell in October, down 0.8 percent from a year ago. Some metro areas are just now recovering to prices they saw a decade ago, while others — notably Detroit — are struggling with catastrophic price declines.

What’s driving the slow real-estate market, in Shiller’s estimation, is the jobless rate. He sticks to his view that the risk of a return to recession is real and that housing is symptomatic of our economic sluggishness.

“We haven’t recovered. We still have a 9.8 percent unemployment rate. We have 4.1 percent long-term unemployment rate, which is extremely high. It’s typically around 1percent. We’re at near record levels on that,” Shiller told Fox Business. “Something isn’t quite right.”

Recessions do end, Shiller points out, when people finally are forced into buying to replace durable goods like cars and appliances. Oddly, the housing slowdown might be part of the reason retailers did so well this Christmas, Shiller says.

“There is a sense right now of ‘Let’s put this behind us. Let’s have a good Christmas. Let’s buy presents and let’s have a good time,'” Shiller says.

“So it’s carrying us forward, and maybe it will. But the real-estate market declining is a sign to me that maybe it won’t hold.”

He isn’t calling for a housing disaster in 2011. But his view does diverge from those of other professional forecasters, who believe that housing will be generally flat for the year.

Despite low rates and already brutal pricing pressure in overbuilt markets, the threat of hundreds of thousands of homes in the foreclosure pipeline doesn’t bode well for a housing rebound anytime soon.

Quite the opposite, Shiller warns.

“The worry is, we might have a stagnant housing market for years,” says the Yale professor.

“Just this month we saw a 1.3 percent decline. If you’re leveraged 10-to-1, that’s 13percent in one month. That’s real,” Shiller says.

Forecasters aside, consumers seem to “get it” about the weak recovery so far.

Private research from the Conference Board shows that its index of consumer confidence fell to 52.5 in December, down from a revised 54.3 in the November survey.

The index would need to get to 90 to show a full recovery, a figure it hasn’t seen since December 2007.
4)Obama's Inaugural Address: Two Years of Broken Promises
By Lee Cary

Along with the annual turn of the calendar from one year to the next comes the musing over where our lives have been and where we hope they'll go. This year the icy currents of our musings as a people will run deep.

Certainly, they won't be equivalent to a nation fighting a bloody Civil War. Nor do we face the daily trauma of a Great Depression with one of four Americans unemployed. Nor are these days as ominous as when we were reeling from the attack on Pearl Harbor and suddenly at war with powerful and evil nations in Asia and Europe.

This time, the threats ride in on a slow tide, now washing around our ankles as we wonder just how deep the water will become. This time, it's different. This time, we lack what we always assumed would emerge when America found herself facing a crisis. We lack presidential leadership and will for at least the next two years.

There's no immediate value in reviewing the litany of presumptions and assumptions that brought us the current regime. But the consequences of the 2008 election are there for all with eyes to see and ears to hear. Besides, it's a long-done deal -- just not the deal that many who voted for the freshman senator from Illinois thought they were getting.

To prove that, all we need do is review the trail of broken promises in President Obama's January 2008 inaugural address. Back then he said, "We the People have remained faithful to the ideals of our forebears, and true to our founding documents."

But, during the Obama administration, the Constitution has become a founding document to be subverted rather than served.

Obama said, "Our economy is badly weakened, a consequence of greed and irresponsibility on the part of some, but also our collective failure to make hard choices and prepare the nation for a new age."

But the irresponsibility over several administrations whereby banks were forced to artificially support a sub-prime interest rate that led to the housing bubble and brought down a financial house of cards gets translated into the president's distorted notion of class warfare, where the greedy and irresponsible "some" are at fault.

Obama said, "On this day, we gather because we have chosen hope over fear, unity of purpose over conflict and discord."

But hope and unity have not been byproducts of the Obama style of boot-on-the-neck governing -- one that most closely resembles the one-party tyranny of his hometown, Chicago.

Obama said, "On this day, we come to proclaim an end to the petty grievances and false promises, the recriminations and worn-out dogma that for far too long have strangled our politics."

But petty grievances and false promises have flourished during the last two years as recriminations and worn-out dogma rule. And the promise of a post-partisan era of politics now seems, in retrospect, at best to have been adolescently naïve and at worse duplicitous.

Obama said, "We will act not only to create new jobs but to lay a new foundation for growth."

But even Pollyanna must admit that new jobs are not being created, and the only new foundation being laid for growth is a thicker concrete upon which debt grows toward national bankruptcy.

Obama said, "We will build the roads and bridges, the electric grids and digital lines that feed our commerce and bind us together."

But when none of that happened, he announced that there really never were any "shovel ready" projects after all. It's like the punchline from the old skit from "Saturday Night Live..."Never mind."

Obama said, "We will restore science to its rightful place and wield technology's wonders to raise health care's quality and lower its costs."

But the legacy media never asked, "Just what does 'restoring science' mean?" And anyone today who thinks that Obamacare will lower costs is delusional. It's clear now that government control was always the primary goal -- never lower costs.

Obama said, "What the cynics fail to understand is that the ground has shifted beneath them, that the stale political arguments that have consumed us for so long, no longer apply."

But the translation to that became "I will decide the lay of the land, and I'm not interested in any political debate, since I won the election. And those who oppose me are cynics."

Obama said, "Those of us who manage the public's dollars will be held to account, to spend wisely, reform bad habits, and do our business in the light of day[.]"

But the myth of federal government transparency is as great, if not greater, than during any previous administration. And major legislation drafted during the last two years was done, out of all places, least often "in the light of day."

Obama said, "The nation cannot prosper long when it favors only the prosperous."

But the nation doesn't prosper at all when its leader pits one group of citizens against another and plays the Marxist class warfare card over and over again. It's a big world. And the big money will find somewhere else to go, just as the deep-water drilling rigs that the Obama administration has banned from the Gulf of Mexico are today moving elsewhere.

And, two years ago, Obama also said, "With old friends and former foes, we'll work tirelessly to lessen the nuclear threat and roll back the specter of a warming planet."

But the nuclear threat from Iran and North Korea has increased. And the hoax of man-made global warming has been exposed, as has its High Priest, a former U.S. vice president, who's made a mess of his private life and a fool of himself.

Finally, the president closed his inaugural address by quoting George Washington.

America, in the face of our common dangers, in this winter of our hardship, let us remember these timeless words: with hope and virtue, let us brave once more the icy currents, and endure what storms may come; let it be said by our children's children that when we were tested we refused to let this journey end, that we did not turn back, nor did we falter; and with eyes fixed on the horizon and God's grace upon us, we carried forth that great gift of freedom and delivered it safely to future generations.

These were Obama's truest words -- read by him, but not his own. And ironically, today the icy currents of our common dangers are borne to us largely by the inept leadership of the president who quoted them two years ago.

4a)The Return of Obama Gravitas
By Stuart Schwartz

Stay tuned for 2011, when the political and media establishment will declare that indeed, Barack Obama has found his misplaced gravitas. Insiders will celebrate an awesomely deep president who will have sharpened his pants crease and will again bask in the unrestrained praise of the media gods. Amazing media grace: It once was lost, but now it's found, a gravitas for all to see

Do not be surprised when the first quarter of the new year brings a flood of stories celebrating the newly found effectiveness of the president and his policies. Official Washington will join with old media to again celebrate the president's "gravitas," which is code for belief in the necessity of "a rather small Western elite" to manage every aspect of our lives. At the same time, a Tea Party-influenced Congress will be portrayed as lacking seriousness of purpose -- gravitas, the media will put it -- by virtue of its constrictive policies and approaches. Limited government? Individual responsibility? Constitutional restrictions? All simply the thoughts and machinations of people who lack the intelligence to think big, to engage in social engineering on behalf of a greater vision. In other words, a citizenry and new Congress that lack gravitas, the media will tell us.

Gravitas -- what more can you ask for? Hence, the new year will bring renewed emphasis on the "brilliance" of Obama despite all evidence to the contrary. Never mind a presidency that has been "a striking failure"(American Thinker), a president whose direction of a "profligate Congress [that] carpet-bombs taxpayer dollars on greedy federal bureaucrats" (National Review), and a White House that offers "corruption" and "blatant disregard for the rule of law" (Judicial Watch)? Whom are you going to believe -- the media or your lying eyes?

That's why the media will lead a rediscovery of the gravitas of the president after a December that has seen 71% of the voters scream that he's taking the nation "down the wrong track." What do voters know? For the media, Obama is, after all, a president who once used the words "colloquy" and "Manichean" in a policy discussion, thereby astounding a Washington Post reporter who -- although admitting he didn't know what Obama was talking about -- allowed that Obama sure sounded smart. It's that gravitas thing, you know. The assumption is that if your policies are confusing, your words polysyllabic, and your pedigree Ivy, then you occupy a higher "intellectual stage" than the rest of us -- or so declares former NPR and current FOXNews commentator Juan Williams.

Neither Williams nor others in the liberal media offer supporting evidence. Like the sun, Obama's brilliance is simply there, evident to all who think correctly. His gravitas is assumed. Sure, he may have misplaced it for a while (perhaps when the thought of a Sarah Palin presidency caused him to lose his vaunted Marxist cool and descend into a fit of giggles), but the silly season is over, the midterm elections behind, and the media will now portray him as both master of the Beltway and the world leader in gravitas.

With the need to assist his reelection, the networks and newspapers will shift from the occasional "Has Obama lost his gravitas?" to "Well, gosh darn, it turns out he never lost it because he is it!" The New York Times Company let us know this past week through its Boston Globe subsidiary that Obama is the embodiment of seriousness. By using a word or embracing an issue, Obama "can add a bit to its gravitas." His involvement underlines the importance of an issue or course of action. What's important? We dunno, says the New York Times, the Washington Post, the networks. Ask the guy with the gravitas who sets the agenda.

Obama is not in Washington to serve; he is in Washington to engineer. And there are few things in life more important than engineering outcomes for the lives of other people -- that's what you do when you have gravitas. Gravitas has its center in the Democratic Party, but it has a significant presence among Beltway Republicans. Karl Rove, for example, has long possessed gravitas, having engineered the growth of the federal bureaucracy and debt during the Bush years. Rove, like Obama, views Washington power as something to be grown and used, rather than limited. When the chief political advisor for President Bush promoted open borders and amnesty, he was displaying gravitas by adding a Democrat-like dependent constituency. Rove and Republican insiders have gravitas; limited government devotee Sarah Palin, Rove points out, does not.

But Rove (indeed, most of official Washington) is a gravitas Mini-Me compared to the Dr. Evil of Barack Obama. Obama thinks both strategically and big, as is the wont of those with gravitas. Whereas our founders thought small (as ideas, limited government power and pushing responsibility to the states and individuals lack gravitas), Obama instinctively understands the need for vast Soviet-style bureaucratic oversight of individuals and groups. Beginning next week, the media will again promote the serious thoughts by a serious individual engaged in the serious engineering of society. We have an election to win: Hi ho, gravitas, away!

The gravitas of Obama underlies the growing media narrative of what MSNBC's Chris Matthews calls his "comeback." After all, Obama can't fail because he possesses an innate sense of the proper stances and views. This worldview is the single trait that most separates what educator Angelo M. Codevilla calls the "ruling" class -- insiders oriented toward government and contemptuous of the "uneasy" majority over which it rules -- from the "country" class, the rest of us who are judged "intellectually and ... humanly inferior" to those holding the reins of media and political power. Gravitas is not earned; rather, it is conferred by our elites upon those deemed intellectually distinctive.

So the new year will see the Obama gravitas guns blazing, courtesy of the mainstream media. This is a familiar pattern: Joe Biden, whose Senate career redefined the word "inept," has gravitas courtesy of the New York Times; NPR has conferred gravitas on socialist mass murderers Hugo Chávez of Venezuela and Fidel Castro of Cuba; heck, the New York Times even celebrated the passing of Stalin and his gravitas with a salute to his creation of a "Mighty Socialist State."

And so, as workers dismantle the holiday arugula tree at the White House and the president shows a sense of purpose with a five-iron on the fairways of Hawaii, the media prepares for the return of gravitas to Washington.

Happy New Year, taxpayers. May the gravitas be with you.

Stuart Schwartz, formerly a media and retail executive, is a gravitas-free professor of communication at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia.

4b)Obama Dims the Light on Missile Defense
By Paul Kengor

On December 13, 1981, under direct orders from Moscow, Poland's communist regime declared martial law. The move was another in a series of several decades of Russia's jackboot on the necks of Poles. A few days later, President Ronald Reagan, at the request of the Polish ambassador who had just defected, walked to the window of the White House dining room with a candle. He lit the candle for the people of Poland. More than that, he went on national television, on December 23, and told his fellow Americans, "For a thousand years, Christmas has been celebrated in Poland, a land of deep religious faith, but this Christmas brings little joy to the courageous Polish people. They have been betrayed."

Reagan added another extraordinary gesture, surely igniting the unholy rage of the church-state distorters at the ACLU. The president asked Americans everywhere to light a candle for freedom in Poland that Christmas.

It was the kind of gesture that the Polish people, who felt defenseless against the Russians, never forgot. One little candle made Reagan a hero to the Poles. At one point in the 1980s, a survey by the group Paris Match asked Poles who was Poland's "last hope." Reagan finished only behind the Polish Pope and Virgin Mary. To this day, the Polish people name landmarks and erect statues to one of our greatest presidents.

In January 1991, with the Berlin Wall still crumbling, Poland was already bolting the Soviet-led Warsaw Pact for a post-Cold War alliance with the United States. America is Poland's natural ally.

The U.S.-Poland relationship flourished into the 2000s, especially under President George W. Bush. The coup de grâce was Poland's blessed opportunity to participate in joint U.S. missile defense, along with another persecuted Cold War people -- the Czechs. Both Poles and Czechs would collaborate in what Ronald Reagan had described as his "dream": missile defense. History had been set right.

Unfortunately, last week the Senate approved New START, which President Obama was gung ho to conclude with Russia. The treaty is notoriously complicated, and trying to interpret it is a sticky business. I agree with those observers who fear the treaty might jeopardize missile defense -- largely due to Obama's strange eagerness to assuage the likes of Vladimir Putin.

Obama, for the record, insists that missile defense has not been compromised, but the language of the treaty -- combined with Obama's softness on the Russians, the Russians' toughness toward Obama, Obama's previous pro-Russia moves at the expense of Poles and Czechs, and Obama's traditionally tepid support of missile defense -- is not reassuring. I'm pessimistic, and I'm far from alone.

Reagan started START, championing "strategic arms" reductions rather than limitations. Reagan also started missile defense and rejected Russians' (Gorbachev's) pleas to reduce missiles at the expense of missile defense. That was what Reykjavik was all about.

For Barack Obama, call it the anti-Reykjavik.

Sadly, some Reagan administration members, including George Shultz, are arguing that Ronald Reagan would have backed this treaty. They cannot logically assert that. As one of Reagan's closest aides told me last week, with unusual anger: "That's a damned lie. You can only say that if you haven't read the treaty."

There's more to the argument against the treaty. And the "more" underscores how missile defense continues to lose under Obama. Recall Obama's action on September 17, 2009:

That day, Poles and Czechs grappled with a stunning announcement by America's new president, another shocker that was the utter antithesis of Reagan's thinking, and specifically Reagan's Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI). Obama cancelled plans for joint missile defense with Poland and the Czech Republic. The American left, and the KGB -- literally, in Putin's case -- finally got what they wanted.

Poles and Czechs cherished this defense alliance. Few partnerships made them so proud. It was the crowning touch, a peaceful one, forged from the Cold War crucible. It was defensive, not offensive. Missile defense hurt no one.

Of course, that's why missile defense so appealed to Ronald Reagan. Mere minutes after his speech announcing SDI in March 1983, Reagan wrote in his diary that he didn't expect his "dream" to come true for at least a couple of decades. Well, after a couple of decades, the dream was bearing fruit in no less than the heart of the former Communist Bloc. Ronald Reagan would have loved that.

But Reagan's dream has become a nightmare under Obama.

Not unlike Frank Marshall Davis, his Hawaii mentor, Obama has taken the side of Russia over the likes of Poland. Davis was pro-Soviet, pro-Stalin, anti-American, anti-Truman, anti-NATO, and much more. As I've noted here before, and as I show through actual documents I've published, including a declassified FBI record with Davis's Communist Party number (that document is published on page 507 of my book, Dupes), Davis was a secret member of Communist Party USA.

Frank Marshall Davis would have relished everything Obama has done with Russia.

As to the big questions: Is missile defense on the ropes? Has it been completely undermined among America, Poland, and the Czech Republic?

Certainly, it's far more tenuous than any time since the Cold War's end.

Of course, why blame Barack Obama? Obama is who he is. The problem is Americans, especially the moderates and independents who elected Obama.

One concluding thought that brings all this together: it's a punch in the gut worth recalling here, a tragic historic parallel that happened along this road. Given America's wretchedly biased educational system and media, it's understandable that Americans wouldn't know about it:

President Obama made his amazing announcement canceling missile defense with Poland -- which, again, was a pro-Russia move -- on September 17, 2009. Why does that matter? Obama's announcement came seventy years to the minute since Stalin's Red Army, in compliance with the devilish Hitler-Stalin Pact, invaded Poland on September 17, 1939. The Russians thereby joined the Nazis in starting World War II. Among numerous other subsequent calamities for Poland, such as the Katyn Woods massacre, the invasion made possible the Warsaw Ghetto and Auschwitz.

Back then, America failed Poland. America's president had been strangely pro-Soviet, with FDR duped by "Uncle Joe" and pro-Soviet advisers. (Click here and here and here.)

Many decades later, presidents such as Reagan and George W. Bush provided a crucial corrective. Obama may be undoing that corrective.

In September 2009, Poles (and Czechs) hoped for mere defense -- missile defense. Few Americans had any objection, except their current president.

The light that Ronald Reagan placed in the White House window for Poland in 1981 was about more than Poland. It was about the United States of America defending freedom against aggressors. That light, I fear, is dimmer this December.

Paul Kengor is professor of political science at Grove City College. His books include The Crusader: Ronald Reagan and the Fall of Communism and Dupes: How America's Adversaries Have Manipulated Progressives for a Century.
5)Pakistan makes two nuclear weapons available to Saudi Arabia

With an eye on the nuclear arms race led by its neighbor Iran, Saudi Arabia has arranged to have available for its use two Pakistani nuclear bombs or guided missile warheads, according to military and intelligence sources. They are most probably held in Pakistan's nuclear air base at Kamra in the northern district of Attock. Pakistan has already sent the desert kingdom its latest version of the Ghauri-II missile after extending its range to 2,300 kilometers. Those missiles are tucked away in silos built in the underground city of Al-Sulaiyil, south of the capital Riyadh.

At least two giant Saudi transport planes sporting civilian colors and no insignia are parked permanently at Pakistan's Kamra base with air crews on standby. They will fly the nuclear weapons home upon receipt of a double coded signal from King Abdullah and the Director of General Intelligence Prince Muqrin bin Abdel Aziz. A single signal would not be enough.

Military sources have found only sketchy information about the procedures for transferring the weapons from Pakistani storage to the air transports. It is not clear whether Riyadh must inform Pakistan's army chiefs it is ready to take possession of its nuclear property, or whether a series of preset codes will provide access to the air base's nuclear stores. The only detail known to Gulf sources is the Saudi bombs are lodged in separate heavily-guarded stores apart from the rest of Pakistan's nuclear arsenal.

This secret was partially blown by Riyadh itself. In recent weeks, Saudi officials close to their intelligence establishment have been going around security forums in the West and dropping word that the kingdom no longer needs to build its own nuclear arsenal because it has acquired a source of readymade arms to be available on demand. This broad hint was clearly put about under guidelines from the highest levels of the monarchy.

Partial nuclear transparency was approved by Riyadh as part of a campaign to impress the outside world Saudi Arabia was in control of its affairs: The succession struggle had been brought under control; the Saudi regime had set its feet on a clearly defined political and military path; and the hawks of the royal house had gained the hand and were now setting the pace.
6)The American 21st Century
By Victor Davis Hanson

The current debt, recession, wars and political infighting have depressed Americans into thinking they soon will be supplanted by more vigorous rivals abroad. Yet this is an American fear as old as it is improbable.

In the 1930s, the Great Depression supposedly marked the end of freewheeling American capitalism. The 1950s were caricatured as a period of mindless American conformity, McCarthyism and obsequious company men.

By the late 1960s, the assassinations of John and Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr., along with the Vietnam War, had prompted a hippie counterculture that purportedly was going to replace a toxic American establishment. Oil shocks, gas lines, Watergate and new rust belts were said to be symptomatic of a post-industrial, has-been America of the 1970s.

At the same time, other nations, we were typically told, were doing far better.

In the late 1940s, with the rise of a postwar Soviet Union that had crushed Hitler's Wehrmacht on the eastern front during World War II, communism promised a New Man as it swept through Eastern Europe.

Mao Zedong took power in China and inspired communist revolutions from North Korea to Cuba. Statist central planning was going to replace the unfairness and inefficiency of Western-style capitalism. Yet just a half-century later, communism had either imploded or had been superseded in most of the world.

By the early 1980s, Japan's state capitalism and emphasis on the group rather than the individual was being touted as the ideal balance between the public and private sectors. Japan Inc. continually outpaced the growth of the American economy. Then, in the 1990s, a real estate bubble and a lack of fiscal transparency led to a collapse of property prices and a general recession. A shrinking and aging Japanese population, led by a secretive government, has been struggling ever since to recover the old magic.

At the beginning of the 21st century, the European Union was hailed as the proper Western paradigm of the future. The euro soared over the dollar. Europe practiced a sophisticated "soft power," while American cowboyism was derided for getting us into wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Civilized cradle-to-grave benefits were contrasted with the frontier, every-man-for-himself American system.

Now Europe limps from crisis to crisis. Its undemocratic union, when coupled with socialist entitlements, is proving unsustainable. Symptoms of the ossified European system appear in everything from a shrinking population and a growing atheism to an inability to integrate Muslim immigrants or field a credible military.

As we enter this new decade, we are currently being lectured that China is soon to be the global colossus. Its economy is now second only to America's, but with a far faster rate of growth and budget surpluses rather than debt. Few seem to mention that China's mounting social tensions, mercantilism, environmental degradation and state bosses belong more to a 19th than 21st century nation.

Two symptoms of all this doom and gloom are constant over the decades. First, America typically goes through periodic bouts of neurotic self-doubt, only to wake up and snap out of it. Indeed, indebted Americans are already bracing for fiscal restraint and parsimony as an antidote to past profligacy.

Second, decline is relative and does not occur in a vacuum. As Western economic and scientific values ripple out from Europe and the United States, it is understandable that developing countries like China, India or Brazil can catapult right into the 21st century. But that said, national strength is still found in the underlying hardiness of the patient -- its demography, culture and institutions -- rather than occasional symptoms of ill health.

In that regard, America integrates immigrants and assimilates races and ethnicities in a way Europe cannot. Russia, China and Japan are simply not culturally equipped to deal with millions who do not look Slavic, Chinese or Japanese. The Islamic world cannot ensure religious parity to Christians, Jews or Hindus -- or political equality to women.

The American Constitution has been tested over 223 years. In contrast, China, the European Union, India, Japan, Russia and South Korea do not have constitutional pedigrees of much more than 60 years. The last time Americans killed each other in large numbers was nearly a century and a half ago; most of our rivals have seen millions of their own destroyed in civil strife and internecine warring just this century.

In short, a nation's health is not gauged by bouts of recession and self-doubt, but by its time-honored political, economic, military and social foundations. A temporarily ill-seeming America is nevertheless still growing, stable, multiethnic, transparent, individualistic, self-critical and meritocratic; almost all of its apparently healthy rivals in fact are not.

Victor Davis Hanson is a classicist and historian at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, and author, most recently, of "A War Like No Other: How the Athenians and Spartans Fought the Peloponnesian War."

Monday, December 27, 2010

GW Looking Better With Every Passing Obama Day!

Yes, doom and gloomers abound and there are plenty who are working to resist the worst happening but that does not mean we are not in for tougher times, as I believe we are. (See 1 below.)
I am reading GW's "Decision Points" and thoroughly enjoying it. Only half the way through but readable and something all haters of GW need to read. Probably will not change their minds but will force them to face some realities they prefer to ignore.

His chapter on "Cell Stems" is very enlightening and shows the depths to which he wrestled with both sides of an issue before making a decision many disagreed with and far too many turned into the big lie.

In truth, GW approved and federally funded embryonic stem cell research but not through the destruction of embryonic stem cells for moral reasons. He significantly expanded funding of NIH and never opposed scientific research but simply did not want to disregard moral implications. Democrats responded petulantly and politically to GW's veto by refusing to allow funding of alternative methods of stem cell research because they saw it as a big political win for them.

Subsequently, two researchers altered the scientific process and were able to "...replicate the medical promise of stem cells without moral controversy."

Though The New York Times reported this event, little acclaim supporting GW's argument has altered the opinions of those with their own agenda of perpetuating lies and distorting truth. However, Krauthammer, a doctor by training, who was earlier opposed GW's stem cell thinking wrote: "The verdict is clear: Rarely has a president - so vilified for a moral stance - been so thoroughly vindicated."

And you wonder why Americans have contempt for Congress and politicians.

Time will prove GW a far better president than his detractors would have you think in my opinion.. In fact GW looks better with the passing of each Obama day. He was not an egoist and had a rounded background for the presidency. On pp 121 he writes about the "...highly personal criticism..." and explained how he chose to handle it for the sake of the presidency itself. Perhaps history will prove him right but, I believe, he allowed himself to be defined by the DC wolves with long knives drawn and that seriously wounded him and his ability to govern.

On the chapter entitled "Leading" GW discusses a variety of topics but I will focus on his efforts to bring Social Security under control and improve retirement benefits through allowing participants to invest in vehicles, a professionally managed portfolio of stocks and bonds, that historically has served to produce higher returns than the current paltry ones. Ironically the Social Security System is now deeper in debt because neither Party supported GW's proposal and the system's prospective bankruptcy has accordingly been moved forward.

On the immigration issue, GW made some rational proposals, got support from Sen. Kennedy and others but Sen. Reid refused to keep the Senate in session and upon their return from their July 4th holiday Senate votes evaporated.

GW acknowledged he should have gone after immigration reform first because he had some bi-partisan support and the momentum of this legislation passing might well have helped his proposal on Social Security to also pass.

GW is far more intelligent than most of his detractors, a far better and decent person as well. Yes, he made mistakes, some costly, but I challenge you to show me a perfect president. He continues to stand head and shoulders above the current occupant who, in my opinion, may also prove better than I currently give him credit for being. My main problem with Obama is that he lies and thus, I cannot trust him. My other problem is that we do not share the same vision of American exceptionalism and our economic system which has produced more for more than any other.

Read GW's book - you might learn something. I am.
Meanwhile, Valerie Jarrett tells us Obama wants to get out among the people once he returns from Hawaii and will campaign by portraying himself as an outsider.

The only outside thing outside about Obama is that he is outside mainstream thinking and as the Americans learn more about Obamascare hopefully they will eventually put him outside the Oval Office.

The best way to defeat a fraud is to allow him/her to be themselves. (See 2 below.)
I regretfully believe this Administration does not have a clue about the threat we still face from terrorism based on the apparent in fighting among Obama's intelligence gurus.

When Obama's top dog is unaware of what recently happened in England because he was not briefed and his underling, Napolitano reveals 'ones who needed to know did,' something is "Rotten in Denmark."

An intelligence friend of mine believes, as I do, that our Middle East influence is unravelling before our eyes.(See 3 below.)
Sowell argues that our Constitution has come to be determined by whatever politicians, agency heads and judges had for breakfast. (See 4 below.)
It might surprise GW detractors that he was a voracious reader and particularly of history whereas, Obama does not need to understand history because the world revolves around him. (See 5 below.)
1)Sen. Coburn: Middle Class Will Be Destroyed
By Julie Crawshaw

U.S. Senator Tom Coburn warned Americans this Sunday of an apocalyptic economic future, with Great Depression levels of unemployment and a destruction of the country's middle class.

The Oklahoma Republican told Fox News that unless Washington cuts spending and reduces the national debt, unemployment in the United States could rise dramatically from less than 10 percent today to 18 percent or more.

At the same time, Coburn says the nation's economic output could drop calamitously --by 9 percent. Once that happens he predicts the middle class could be destroyed.

“I think you’ll see the middle class just destroyed if we don’t do this,” Coburn told Fox News, adding that he hopes President Barack Obama and Congress can work together next year to cut $100 billion to $200 billion as a “down payment” on debt reduction.

Coburn says the other alternative to the debt crisis is equally gloomy: hyperinflation.

"And the people that it will harm the most will be the poorest of the poor, because we'll print money to try to debase our currency and get out of it and what you will see is hyperinflation," Coburn said.

"If we didn't take some pain now, we're going to experience apocalyptic pain, and it's going to be out of our control. The idea should be that we control it," he told Fox.

Coburn, a member of the White House debt-reduction panel who voted in favor of its plan to cut $4 trillion in debt, says the United States must begin practicing austerity within the next three to four years in order to retain international confidence in its economy and currency.

Some conservatives are uncomfortable with the plan, which includes ways to increase both tax revenues and spending cuts.

Coburn disagrees with those economists who believe cutting spending in a weak economy is incorrect.

“My hope is that [Obama] gets out, holds hands with us, and we make some significant cuts,” he said. “There doesn’t have to be a standoff.”

“What there has to be is real leadership and recognizing the serious nature and the urgency of our problem.”

ABC News reports that budgetary measures are part of the reason why economists polled by Reuters think the eurozone economy will slow to a 1.5 percent rate next year, down slightly from 2010's already sluggish 1.7 percent pace.
2)The Missing Link in the Evolution of Barack Obama
By Selwyn Duke

One of the problems with the idea of "American exceptionalism" is that it exacerbates a kind of complacency common to man. This is the phenomenon whereby people often view themselves as exceptions -- saying, after some tragedy, for instance, something such as "I never thought it could happen to me."

On a national level -- and this especially plagues great nations -- this manifests itself in the notion that "it" could never happen here. Oh, the "it" could be descent into tyranny, domination by a foreign power, or dissolution. Or maybe it could be the election of a leader who is a Manchurian candidate, a traitor within, someone bent on destroying the nation that gave him everything. That..."it"...couldn't happen here. In fact, the idea is so preposterous to many Americans that if such a threat loomed, they would never see it coming. And they would call a person who warned of it a nut.

So I want to present you with a hypothetical. Let's say a leader were elected who had, during his childhood, been mentored by an avowed Nazi. Let us further say that his guardians had chosen this mentor for him, indicating that they were likely sympathetic to the man's beliefs. Now, let us say that upon reaching college, this future leader gravitated toward Nazi professors. Moreover, we then find out that a man who knew the leader as an undergraduate and was, at the time, a Nazi himself, said that the leader was "in 100-percent total agreement" with his Nazi professors and was a flat-out Nazi who believed in old-style Brownshirt tactics.

Okay, we're almost done. After graduating, the leader-to-be spends twenty years sitting in a white-power church, has an alliance with a self-proclaimed Nazi and ex-terrorist, and, apparently, becomes a member of a National Socialist party for a while. And then, upon being elected, he appoints an avowed Nazi to his administration and also a woman who cites Adolf Hitler as one of her two favorite philosophers. Now here's the million-depreciated-dollar question:

What would be nuttier: to claim that this man was a Nazi or to claim that such an assertion is out-of-bounds?

Furthermore, if people appeared unconcerned about the leader's radical past, what would be the most likely explanation?

A. They're sympathetic to Nazism.

B. They're ignorant of his personal history.

C. They're rationalizing away a frightening reality.

D. Some combination of the above.

Let's now transition to the actual. Here is a fact: If you took the above description of my hypothetical leader and replaced "Nazi" with "communist," "flat-out Nazi" with "flat-out Marxist-Leninist," "Brownshirt tactics" with "communist revolution," "white-power" with "black-power," "National Socialist" with "socialist," and "Adolf Hitler" "with Mao Tse-tung," you would have an accurate description of a leader in power today.

His name is Barack Obama.

We'll start from the top. Obama's childhood mentor was chosen by his guardians, his grandparents, and was avowed communist Frank Marshall Davis. Obama did in fact gravitate toward communist professors in college; moreover, we now know about ex-communist John Drew, a contemporary of Obama's at Occidental College who verifies that Obama was "in 100-percent total agreement" with his communist professors and was a flat-out "Marxist-Leninist" who believed in old-style communist revolution.
We also know that upon graduating, Obama spent twenty years in a black-power church, Trinity United of Reverend Jeremiah Wright fame, and had an alliance with self-proclaimed communist and ex-terrorist Bill Ayers. It also appears -- and I have yet to see anyone address and disprove this association -- that Obama was a member of the socialist New Party in Chicago in the 1990s. Then, upon being elected, Obama appointed avowed communist Van Jones to his administration and also Anita Dunn, who cited mass-murderer Mao Tse-tung as one of her two favorite philosophers. There's more, too, but greater detail is hardly necessary.

It also shouldn't be necessary to ask the question, but I will:

What is nuttier: to claim that this man is a communist or to claim that such an assertion is out-of-bounds?

What is the obvious conclusion?

Now, some may say that a person can change markedly over a thirty-year period. This is true. Yet not only do we have the recent evidence of Obama's radical communist appointments, but there's something else as well. It hit me just the other night.

Just as we would demand that our leaders completely reject Nazi ideas, all good Americans should agree that complete rejection of communist ideas is a moral imperative. Losing a little youthful zeal or adding a dose of pragmatism just isn't enough. A pragmatic communist, in fact, could be more dangerous than an old-guard type.

Yet a transition from flat-out "Marxist-Leninist" to someone who rejects the red menace is a pretty big change, don't you think? In fact, wouldn't such a personal evolution -- some might say revolution -- be a kind of conversion? I think so.

Now, many people do experience conversions. I think here of erstwhile radical-leftist David Horowitz; ex-liberals Michael Savage and Robin of Berkeley; and President George W. Bush, who accepted Christ as an adult. And then there's me: I was never a liberal, but I did transition from being a scoffer at religion and an agnostic to a devout Catholic.

There's an interesting thing, however, about conversions.

You hear about them.

You see, a conversion is a sea change, a rebirth, a turning point in your existence. You may become, as Christians say, a new creation, and you're at least a reformed old one. And you reflect your new state of being and often want to voice it.

And those around you will know about it.

As for this writer, everyone who knows me would say that my religious conversion was a seminal point in my life. Horowitz has spoken of his rejection of the "loony left," Bush's conversion is well known, Savage has talked about his on the radio, and Robin of Berkeley can't stop talking about hers. A conversion becomes part of your life narrative.

Now consider something. Barack Obama is one of the most famous, most discussed individuals on the planet.

But we have not heard about any soul-changing conversion in his life.

Not a whisper.


Nothing that could reconcile the flat-out Marxist-Leninist Obama was in his college days with the man he supposedly is today. There's no one who says, "Yeah, he was a radical guy in his youth, and I just couldn't believe how he became disenchanted with his old ideas." There are no stories about a great epiphany, an overseas trip that opened his eyes, or a personal tragedy that inspired growth. There's nothing to explain how a radical Marxist became a reasonable politician. And if there is such an explanation, it's the most elusive of missing links.

So could "it" happen here? And is it really nutty to ask if, just maybe, it already has.

2a) Feed Me, Obama, Feed Me: The Plan for Food Dependency
By John Griffing

What does any would-be tyrant need in order to gain control over the lives of citizens? Three things come to mind: martial law, socialized medicine, and food dependency.

In at least two of these categories, President Obama has already succeeded.

Martial Law

By way of executive proclamation, President Obama has secured for himself the power to declare martial law in the event of a national "emergency," real or contrived, and without the accountability typically required by the Posse Comitatus Act and the Nation Emergencies Act of 1976.

This is the legacy of the "conservative" Bush administration. National emergencies have now been transformed into power-grabbing devices thanks to the virtually unnoticed National Security Presidential Directive (NSPD) 51.

NSPD 51 empowers the president to co-opt all state and local government authority in the event that he declares a national emergency. This is a self-declared power not subjugated to the National Emergencies Act of 1976 as in previous directives.

President Obama quickly went beyond NSPD 51, signing an order creating a "Council of Governors" who would be put in charge of declaring martial law. The directive is in direct violation of Posse Comitatus and the Insurrection Act. This "Council of Governors" answers only to President Obama.

In October of last year, President Obama declared a national emergency in the midst of the much-hyped swine flu crisis. This declaration was largely overlooked. By combining his October declaration with the provisions of NSPD 51, President Obama can now be considered virtually uninhibited by Congress and free to flip the switch at any moment.

Socialized Medicine

Whether or not Republicans achieve repeal, a precedent has been set. It is unlikely that the full damage of ObamaCare can be completely undone without Republican control of the White House. The U.S. government can now dictate the coverage and benefits of most Americans -- i.e., those on Medicaid, Medicare, and SCHIP, which together account for thirty percent of the population. In addition, government can punish Americans without insurance with unconstitutional fees and fine employers who refuse to provide every single employee with premium health benefits, making economic recovery unlikely.

In previous articles, I have explained the deadly dimension to ObamaCare as currently construed, demonstrating the serious potential for the mass destruction of human life on the basis of erroneous factors like "hospital readmission." Who will challenge federal officials with health care at stake? Who would seriously suggest that health care will not be used as a political weapon? When the government has all power and no accountability, it has very little reason to use that power responsibly. Accountability is what makes the American model work. But accountability is removed with ObamaCare.

The one area where elites have been so far reluctant to venture is food. Food is the stuff of life. Control over food would mean direct control over the political decisions of average Americans. The elites have slipped the slope, passing legislation that will give federal bureaucrats jurisdiction over food "production" -- i.e., who produces food, what kinds of food are produced, and in what quantities. However, this is not a debate about food regulation or food inspection. What is taking place is in fact a coup d'état, with dinner tables as the strategic weapons.

Food Dependency

The greatest tyrants in history have used food as a method of control. To state the obvious, people must eat to live. By controlling the flow of food to people who side with the political intelligentsia, rule is established. People may challenge tyranny when they have meat on the table. But who in their right mind would bite the hands of their benefactors (so called)?

Meet the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), a new legislative proposal designed to centralize control over food stocks to protect Americans from "terror."

The motive may indeed be to protect the food supply from the actions of terrorists, but what about acts of government terror? Can centralized control by the government protect the people against the whims of human nature? This question is not being asked by those so in favor of surrendering control of food to an entity that cannot even manage a budget, much less an oil spill or other natural disaster. Now we are to believe that this same inefficient, broken entity can guarantee the safety of our food? Something stinks, and it smells like government cheese. Usually when people ask for power, it is because they want power, regardless of the stated motive.

What good, for example, can be gained from removing the right of Americans to grow their own food, as several of the provisions of the Food Safety Modernization Act do? The Ninth Amendment arguably guarantees this and other unenumerated rights. The Ninth Amendment reads:

The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

To clarify, how can the rights to life, liberty, and property enshrined in the Constitution exist without the ability of citizens to attend to bodily needs -- i.e., sustenance?

The FSMA doesn't merely wrest control of the food supply from citizens. Dangerously, the FSMA proceeds to transfer U.S. food sovereignty to the WTO, with one provision reading, "Nothing in this Act shall be construed in a manner inconsistent with the agreement establishing the World Trade Organization or any other treaty or international agreement to which the U.S. is a party." This provision is significant, since the WTO draws all its food safety standards from the controversial Codex Alimentarius, which is thought by some to be a vast postwar scheme to control the world's population by means of food. The bottom line vis-à-vis food is that Americans lose control, and foreign bureaucrats gain control.

Even if the alleged motive were legitimate, the FDA already inspects food imports, albeit quite poorly. The federal government already possesses the necessary power to thwart terrorist contamination of the food supply. This proposal, then, is not really about protecting food, but instead about controlling food -- and by extension, controlling Americans. We must resist while the fruits of the field are still here for the picking.

President Obama is willing to shut off the water in a small town in the heart of America's agricultural center. Might he be willing to stop shipments of food to politically opposed states?
3)Al Qaeda sends Palestinian terrorists from Lebanon to strikes in Europe

The 12 Al Qaeda terrorists, whose movements have put European security authorities on high New Year alert, set out from Ain Hilweh, Lebanon, and belong to three al Qaeda-linked Palestinian groups, the Syrian Jund al-Sham, the Lebanese Army of Islam (which also operates in the Gaza Strip) and Fatah al-Islam, debkafile's counter-terror sources disclose. All its members are richly experienced in urban terror in various Middle East arenas.

Al Qaeda has taken of late to using Iraq, Lebanon and Somalia as starting points for its terrorist plots to baffle the Western agencies keeping an eye on terrorist bases in Pakistan, North Africa and Yemen.

The last bombing attempt in Europe, which took place in Stockholm on December 11, was the work of an Iraqi Arab dispatched and later claimed by Iraqi Al Qaeda. Two other groups came from Somalia: the nine men charged at Westminster Court, London, Monday, Dec. 26, with conspiracy to carry out bombing attacks on the US embassy, the London Stock Exchange and political and religious figures (12 were rounded up at four locations on Dec. 20 and three released.) and the twelve men picked up in Rotterdam for plotting Christmas attacks in Holland.

It is now the turn of Lebanon. There, an elaborate smoke and mirrors exercise was staged to conceal the next Al Qaeda assault.

On Dec. 25, Christmas day, Ghandi Sahmarani, the leader of the Syrian Palestinian Jund Al Sham's Lebanese branch, was reported found dead in a back alley of the Palestinian refugee camp of Ain Hilweh in South Lebanon with the bullet wound in the back of his neck and his hands tied with barbed wire.

The dead man had never lived in this camp which is the fiefdom of the Fatah strongman, Mounir Al-Maqda. It was therefore assumed he had been dragged to Ain Hilweh by abductors and then put to death. Later that day, journalists were invited to the Sidon hospital morgue to view his body.

However, according to intelligence and counter-terror sources, Sahmarani is still alive. The body exhibited was that of a man who resembled him. The real Sahmarani eluded his watchers last week on the very day that 12 Palestinian terrorists went missing from Ain Hilweh. It is now believed that he was put in command of the terrorist operations scheduled to take place in Europe and the Middle East on or around the New Year and that he and the group's members are already on their way to their targets.

European sources have traced the group travelling from Lebanon to Syria and thence to Turkey, where they have split up into small sub-groups of two to three men each. Part is heading for the Balkans to infiltrate Western Europe; part is still in Turkey and may stay there or make for another Middle East destination for a multi-casualty attack.

The three Palestinian groups involved often overlap operationally and are expert at laying false trails to conceal the movements of their leaders and operatives.

In 2007, during the four-month battle Fatah Al Islam and the Army of Islam waged against the Lebanese army for control of Nahr- Al-Bared, the big Palestinian refugee camp near Tripoli in northern Lebanon, stories were put out about the death of their leader Shaker al-Abssi. Then, too, reporters were shown his remains. However Abssi has proved to have more than one life; although he was reported dead more than once, he is still alive and fully active from a base in Iraq.

After of the charade at the Sidon morgue on Saturday, the Ain Hilweh chief Mounir Al Maqda confirmed that a "group of fighters" belonging to Jund a-Sham, the Army of Islam and Fatah al Islam, were no longer in the camp. Certain Middle East intelligence watchers, aware of Al-Maqda's close ties with the three Palestinian organizations and al Qaeda cells in Lebanon, don't exactly believe him. They suspect he was part of the conspiracy to conceal Sahmarani's departure on a mission of terror by faking his death.
4)Political End Runs
By Thomas Sowell

The Constitution of the United States begins with the words "We the people." But neither the Constitution nor "we the people" will mean anything if politicians and judges can continue to do end runs around both.

Bills passed too fast for anyone to read them are blatant examples of these end runs. But last week, another of these end runs appeared in a different institution when the medical "end of life consultations" rejected by Congress were quietly enacted through bureaucratic fiat by administrators of Medicare.

Although Congressman Earl Blumenauer and Senator Jay Rockefeller had led an effort by a group of fellow Democrats in Congress to pass Section 1233 of pending Medicare legislation, which would have paid doctors to include "end of life" counselling in their patients' physical checkups, the Congress as a whole voted to delete that provision.

Republican Congressman John Boehner, soon to become Speaker of the House, objected to this provision in 2009, saying: "This provision may start us down a treacherous path toward government-encouraged euthanasia."

Whatever the merits or demerits of the proposed provision in Medicare legislation, the Constitution of the United States makes the elected representatives of "we the people" the ones authorized to make such decisions. But when proposals explicitly rejected by a vote in Congress are resurrected and stealthily made the law of the land by bureaucratic fiat, there has been an end run around both the people and the Constitution.

Congressman Blumenauer's office praised the Medicare bureaucracy's action but warned: "While we are very happy with the result, we won't be shouting it from the rooftops because we are not out of the woods yet."

In other words, don't let the masses know about it.

It is not only members of Congress or the administration who treat "we the people" and the Constitution as nuisances to do an end run around. Judges, including Justices of the Supreme Court, have been doing this increasingly over the past hundred years.

During the Progressive era of the early 20th century, the denigration of the Constitution began, led by such luminaries as Princeton scholar and future President of the United States Woodrow Wilson, future Harvard Law School Dean Roscoe Pound and future Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis.

As a Professor at Princeton University, Woodrow Wilson wrote condescendingly of "the simple days of 1787" when the Constitution was written and how, in our presumably more complex times, "each generation of statesmen looks to the Supreme Court to supply the interpretation which will serve the needs of the day."

This kind of argument would be repeated for generations, with no more evidence that 1787 was any less complicated than later years than Woodrow Wilson presented-- which was none-- and with no more reasons why the need for "change" meant that unelected judges should be the ones making those changes, as if there were no elected representatives of the people.

Professor Roscoe Pound likewise referred to the need for "a living constitution by judicial interpretation," in order to "respond to the vital needs of present-day life." He rejected the idea of law as "a body of rules."

But if law is not a body of rules, what is it? A set of arbitrary fiats by judges, imposing their own vision of "the needs of the times"? Or a set of arbitrary regulations stealthily emerging from within the bowels of a bureaucracy?

Louis Brandeis was another leader of this Progressive era chorus of demands for moving beyond law as rules. He cited "newly arisen social needs" and "a shifting of our longing from legal justice to social justice."

In other words, judges were encouraged to do an end run around rules, such as those set forth in the Constitution, and around the elected representatives of "we the people." As Roscoe Pound put it, law should be "in the hands of a progressive and enlightened caste whose conceptions are in advance of the public."

That is still the vision of the left a hundred years later. The Constitution cannot protect us unless we protect the Constitution, by voting out those who promote end runs around it.

4a)How Congress Can Stop the EPA's Power Grab
Courts have yet to decide if the agency's proposed controls on carbon emissions are even legal

On Jan. 2, the Environmental Protection Agency will officially begin regulating the emission of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. This move represents an unconstitutional power grab that will kill millions of jobs—unless Congress steps in.

This mess began in April 2007, with the Supreme Court's decision in Massachusetts v. EPA. The court instructed the agency to determine whether greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide pose (or potentially pose) a danger to human health and safety under the Clean Air Act. In December 2009 the agency determined they were a danger—and gave itself the green light to issue rules cutting CO2 emissions on a wide range of enterprises from coal plants to paper mills to foundries.

In response, states including Texas and Virginia, as well as dozens of companies and business associations, are challenging the EPA's endangerment finding and proposed rules in court. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit is currently considering a partial stay of the EPA's rules and is expected to begin issuing decisions sometime in 2012.

The EPA, of course, is in a hurry to move ahead. It wants to begin regulating the largest emitters first. But it has the authority under its endangerment finding to regulate emissions by hospitals, small businesses, schools, churches and perhaps even single-family homes. As companies wait for definitive court rulings, the country could face a de facto construction moratorium on industrial facilities that could provide badly needed jobs. Moreover, the EPA has never completed an analysis of how many jobs might be lost in the process—although Section 321 of the Clean Air Act demands that it do so.

The best solution is for Congress to overturn the EPA's proposed greenhouse gas regulations outright. If Democrats refuse to join Republicans in doing so, then they should at least join a sensible bipartisan compromise to mandate that the EPA delay its regulations until the courts complete their examination of the agency's endangerment finding and proposed rules.

Like the plaintiffs, we have significant doubt that EPA regulations can survive judicial scrutiny. And the worst of all possible outcomes would be the EPA initiating a regulatory regime that is then struck down by the courts.

For the last year or so, some in Congress have considered mandating that the EPA delay its greenhouse-gas regulations by two years. But that delay is arbitrary—it was selected because a handful of Democrats needed political cover. There is no way to know whether two years will be sufficient time for the courts to complete their work.

Moreover, the principal argument for a two-year delay is that it will allow Congress time to create its own plan for regulating carbon. This presumes that carbon is a problem in need of regulation. We are not convinced.

Thus the minimally responsible approach—the one that will reduce the potential for confusion, uncertainty and regulatory mayhem—is to delay EPA action until the courts have had time to rule. This approach would ensure that small businesses, states and even the EPA itself have the certainty needed to proceed.

The day after the recent midterm elections, President Obama was asked about the voters' repudiation of cap and trade. He responded: "Cap and trade was just one way of skinning the cat; it was not the only way. It was a means, not an end."

Cuts in carbon emissions would mean significantly higher electricity prices. We think the American consumer would prefer not to be skinned by Obama's EPA.

Mr. Upton, a Republican from Michigan, is chairman-designate of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. Mr. Phillips is president of Americans for Prosperity.
5)Obama's Presidency Joins the Fray

Americans prefer a leader who does not stand aloof from the weight and the lessons of our history.

In May of this year, President Obama brought together a group of presidential historians for what was supposed to be the first of many meetings. By available accounts, he was curious about the rise of the tea party, curious as to whether there had been precedents for this sort of backlash against the established order. He listened to these experts of the American presidency, but was prickly and didn't give anything away.

We shouldn't be surprised. What most engaged Mr. Obama before his rise to the highest office in the land was his own biography. He had stood aloof from the weight and the lessons of American history; where so many of his predecessors had sought comfort and guidance in the ordeal of presidents past, there was no great deference in him to the burdens those 43 men carried. He didn't look like those other presidents on the dollar bills, he said early on in his political odyssey.

"Ghosts," he said in one meeting with his national security advisers when the late Richard Holbrooke, his representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, tried to draw parallels between Lyndon Johnson's dilemmas in Vietnam and the current American engagement in Afghanistan. Vietnam was not particularly relevant to him, he told Bob Woodward in "Obama's Wars." He was 13 in 1975, he said, when South Vietnam fell: "So I grew up with none of the baggage that arose out of the dispute of the Vietnam war. I also had a lot of confidence."

In truth, his dilemma in Afghanistan was remarkably similar to that of Johnson. It was a "bitch of a war," Johnson dubbed the Vietnam dilemma, a war he prosecuted without ever taking to it. By all appearances, there is an echo of all that in Mr. Obama's view of Afghanistan.

Now and then Mr. Obama's devotees nodded to American history with evocations of FDR's New Deal and superficial parallels to JFK—the good looks, the glamour, the young children. But Kennedy had seen combat, was a Cold Warrior, and believed in the burdens of American power. Yes, he charmed Parisians and Berliners—but as the standard-bearer of an American empire of liberty. He never journeyed abroad to apologize on behalf of his country.

A president steeped in history would have never pushed ObamaCare on so thin a reed of public approval. In the great movement of American history, Americans haven't worshipped at the altar of charismatic leadership. They have been the most skeptical of peoples. They may have trusted several of their presidents through wars and economic downturns, but they have insisted on the wisdom of the public and on the ability of this republic of laws and institutions—and precedent—to see its way out of great dangers.

Americans have given big mandates to presidents only to send them packing when they lost the contingent mandate given by the electorate. Woodrow Wilson led the country through the Great War, only to be rebuffed, and to die later a broken man when he tried to impose the League of Nations on a country and a Senate dubious of it. Wilson was an absolutist, which doomed his cause. Of "the League fight" he would say, "Dare we reject it and break the heart of the world?" But the opponents of the League were not intimidated.

In recent times, Lyndon Johnson in 1964, and Richard Nixon in 1972, won huge popular mandates only to be shunted aside when the consensus around them cracked. Ronald Reagan lost only one state in 1984—Walter Mondale's home state of Minnesota, and only because his grace decreed that he not campaign on his opponent's turf—but Reagan was forever courting House Speaker and liberal Democrat Tip O'Neill.

We have never wanted our presidents to be above the political fray. The prerogatives of an "imperial presidency" may have grown, but the expectation of political argument and disputation and compromise has deeper resonance in the American tradition.

"As a student of history"—such is the way Mr. Obama described himself in his 2009 Cairo speech—our president would have known that a command economy is alien to the American temperament, that unfettered government spending was bound to arouse the antagonism of the American people. We were not all Keynesians after all, and the American people—to liberals' wonderment—cared about budget deficits.

To be sure, there was panic in the midst of the recession of 2008. That anxiety helped carry Mr. Obama to office; it bridged the gap between Mr. Obama and the white working class in the rust belt states. But it did not last. In their infinite wisdom, ordinary Americans caught in the grip of a terrible economic malady still cared about the direction of the country and the debt burden their children would come to carry.

Mr. Obama had demonized the Bush tax cuts. They were, in the full length of his campaign, emblematic of the politics of greed and heartlessness. But he came around. There was no need to love or embrace them: It was enough that the president came down from on high to accept the logic of things and to step aside in the face of the popular revolt against big government and higher taxes.

The era of charisma, which began when Barack Obama was swept into office by delirium and enthusiasm, has drawn to a close. With the resounding repudiation of the midterm elections, the tax legislation, the ratification of a strategic arms pact with Russia and the end of "don't ask, don't tell" thanks to the support of Republican senators, the Obama presidency has just begun.

Mr. Ajami is director of Middle East Studies at The Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies and a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution.