Sweet Tammy's debut has been well received. They sold on Wednesday as much as Giant Eagle normally sells on their biggest day - Friday. Re-ordering has increased accordingly.
See display below.
Go Sweet Tammys.
A hesitant president when it comes to Iran - an active whirling dervish president when it comes to crippling freedom and democracy.
Obama also wants the nation to experience 'labor' pains.
"A democracy is nothing more than mob rule, where fifty-one percent of the people may take away the rights of the other forty-nine. " Thomas Jefferson.
And Tom never met Barak. (See 1 and 1a below.)
I might be obsessed over what I perceive is Obama's incompetency but his obsession over Israeli settlements makes for bad policy and has a direct bearing on world peace.
One of my friends is also concerned and went to the dictionary to find the word that express es why. (See 2 and 2a below.)
Gen. Jones has the answer - trust in our messiah and the fact that Iran will not drop a nuclear bomb! (See 3 below.)
Decision moment. 'Written before it was decided not to reappoint Ashkenzai.' (See 4 below.)
Will Israeli-U.S. ties eventually strengthen after the recent confrontation? Will Netanyahu have to cave? Will Netanyahu cave? Will Obama retrench?
Glick, meanwhile, feels compelled to explain to our president why his treatment of Israel is unwarranted and counter-productive. She reminds him what a strong Israel means for the region and for our own interests. Doubt Obama is listening. Obama sees the world, our nation's role and its relationship with allies through a different pair of eyes - myopic at best, blind at worst.
He also has a collegiate view of our enemies. Change is in the air but it could be change we and the world may regret. (See 5 and 5a below.)
Rush Limbaugh is the radio talk host Liberals love to hate. Even those who have never listened to what he says.
Granted, Rush is part theatre but he is also very good at articulating Conservative views. He is consistent and gets under the skin of Liberals because he is logical and challenges their precious touchy feely squishy thinking with facts they find difficult to dispute.
So they attack him. (See 6 below.)
Meanwhile my friend, Kim Strassel, points out Republicans are at war with themselves. The question to be answered is can Conservative Republicans, as evidenced by Rubio, run and win or must Republicans be like Democrats both to win and govern and then eventually lose because they are not Conservative.
Shakespeare gave the answer: "To Thine Own Self Be True and Then as Night Follows Day Thou Canst Be False To Anyone."(See 7 below.)
The financial markets need controlling. Is Obama the fireman or the undertaker?
One thing is for sure - Obama, the government and all the prescient bureaucrats are going to rule out future recessions. (See 8 and 8a below.)
1)Iran: Doing Nothing Is Not an Option
By Peggy Shapiro
Iran is heading at breakneck speed toward becoming a nuclear power, thereby endangering its neighbors, setting off an arms race in the volatile Middle East, supplying dirty bombs to terror groups, threatening U.S. allies in Europe, and even targeting the U.S. American people are asking the U.S. government to do something, but President Barack Obama has opted to do nothing, and that's not an option we can live with.
Just days after a memo by Secretary of Defense Gates confirmed what many suspected -- the U.S. has no plan to head off Iran's nuclear ambitions -- an unclassified Defense Department report announced that Iran may be able to build a missile capable of striking the United States by 2015. Since we are not privy to the details of Iran's nuclear program, the timeline may even be a little earlier. Well before that date, Iran will be able to launch a nuclear attack against Italy or Poland or France, and certainly against U.S. troops in Afghanistan and Iraq. Even earlier, the leading terror-sponsoring state will have the highly enriched fuel necessary for a portable device, which can be detonated in any city in the world.
Once Iran has nuclear arms, the world as we know it will change. Yet the White House offers nothing but empty threats. The president has drawn a number of lines in the sand for deadline dates by which Iran must change its course "or else!" When Iran defied those deadlines, the U.S. responded with a resounding nothing. Even when Obama offered a carrot (with no stick) in a proposal to enrich uranium for Iran in return for a reduction of Iran's nuclear stockpile, Iran rejected the deal. The administration did nothing as Tehran continued perfecting its bombs, warheads, and delivery systems. Obama and Secretary of State Clinton have vowed that Iran will not be allowed to become a nuclear state, but they have not spelled out what the United States is willing to do to stop it. President Ahmadinejad does not seem to be quaking in fear each time the U.S. shakes a finger and blusters that a nuclear Iran is "unacceptable."
Obama not only refuses to act, but he blocks any meaningful action by Congress. Today, the Iran Refined Petroleum Sanctions Act (IRPSA), the only bill with some actual teeth in it, is languishing in conference committee. The bill targets Iran's dependence on foreign oil imports. It tells companies who supply, ship, or insure shipments of refined petroleum to Iran that they have a choice: Do business with Iran, or do business with the U.S. While Iran is the fourth-largest oil exporter in the world, it imports a reported 40% of its gasoline and another 11% of its diesel fuel. Even though IRPSA passed the Senate with a unanimous vote and got an overwhelming majority of 412 votes in the House, it has been stuck in conference since December. Representative Mark Kirk (R-IL) told Foxnews.com, "The Obama administration is pushing Congress to postpone action on the bill[.]" The House and Senate issued letters to President Obama urging him to impose "crippling sanctions" on Iran. The letters further urge the president to sanction Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, Iran's banking system, and Iran's ability to import refined petroleum. The bipartisan House letter was spearheaded by Reps. Jesse Jackson, Jr. (D-IL) and Mike Pence (R-IN), while the bipartisan Senate letter was led by Sens. Charles Schumer (D-NY) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC). The administration is hoping for international action through the U.N., which is another way of saying that he will do nothing.
Actions have consequences, and so does inaction. Many share Kirk's fear that "...the United States is resigning itself to a nuclear Iran[.]" Senator Joe Lieberman warns that "we are losing the real-world fight to prevent rogue regimes like Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. If Iran continues on its current trajectory and crosses the nuclear threshold, it will inflict irreparable harm on the global nonproliferation regime."
President Obama, who is not above picking fights with banks, insurance companies, Wall Street, doctors, Rush Limbaugh, anyone who earns over $250,000 a year, churches, charities, and Israelis who build homes in Jerusalem, gives free reign to one of the most dangerous players in the world. Embroiled in numerous petty battles, the president of the United States does nothing about the single biggest threat that confronts the world today. Doing nothing emboldens our enemy and weakens both the U.S, and our friends. It is the option that could cost us our lives, and certainly not one we can live with.
President Obama must live up to his own rhetoric:
I think what American people are asking is, do you just want government to do nothing, or do you want it to do something? If you want it to do something, then we can have a conversation. But doing nothing, that's not an option from my perspective.
1a)Fix Is On by Obama and Congress in Union Fight
By Bernie Reeves
President Obama is setting a record for proclamations to alter the shape of American society. Every few weeks there is another edict, beginning after his victory with moving the Census from Commerce to the White House in order to jigger the figures to his political liking. Then came the TARP stimulus plan. As debt is repaid, the money is remaining in the hands of the White House rather than going to reduce the frightening public debt.
Then came the health care "overhaul"; climate change initiatives; the out-of-character call for offshore drilling; the announcement that we would increase troop strength in Afghanistan (but wiring the move for doom with a public withdrawal date); reductions in U.S. nuclear weapons capability; announcing the closing of Gitmo; the prosecution of CIA operatives whose only crime was to do their job; insulting our allies Great Britain and Israel; the move to try terrorist suspects in open court; and the presidential order to avoid identifying the enemy in the war on terrorism, a politically correct maneuver that smiles on the machinations of the radical scholars.
To fund his reordering of power in the midst of a steep economic downturn, Obama has signed into law 25 tax increases totaling $670 billion over the next ten years, according to a report issued by the House Ways and Means Committee. And Paul Volcker and Nancy Pelosi -- reacting to the reality that increased income taxes cannot save the country from going broke -- are pushing a Value Added Tax, the most pernicious of levies that will empower the IRS to enter places of business unannounced to demand records and enforce compliance.
Accompanying the crescendo of taxes, edicts, and thinly disguised manifestos is an undertow of societal tectonics that will rearrange the free-market system beyond our ability to salvage it. The steady advance of unionization in the public sector under Obama -- and the use of federal power to increase organized labor in the private sector -- is leading the U.S. to the edge of syndicalism, the takeover of capitalism by unions for the purpose of political control.
Like most Obama initiatives, the unionization agenda is counter to reality. Unions have been losing ground in the private sector for forty years, with membership today at only 7% of workers in the private sector. Obviously, unions are not popular in the rank and file of workers. Today, there is a rising percentage of public-sector union workers compared to a decline in private-sector ones.
Obama is close to Andy Stern of the Service Employees International Union, who is charging ahead to force union membership on every government employee, especially health care workers -- a goal the White House is pushing as part of the "overhaul" of health care. And state employees in non-union states are seeking affiliation with the SEIU, waiting for the big day when they can contravene local statutes and organize openly with full union recognition.
That day is here. The Public Safety-Employer-Employee Cooperation Act of 2009 passed the House in 2009 but did not make it to the Senate vote for various extraneous reasons. But it's back, and it will pass the House and Senate in this session of Congress, lifted by a Democrat majority anxious to move on the bill before November, when it appears that the composition of both Houses will change significantly.
The bill is alarming. According to the National League of Cities, the Act violates the National Labor Relations Act of 1934 that recognized the separation of federal authority over collective bargaining within the states. The seventeen states that prohibit unionization of public-sector workers will be invaded and held hostage to a federal law that tosses aside what's left of the sanctity of states' rights and allow policemen, firefighters, parole and judicial officers, prison guards, and medical technicians to join a labor union. Obviously, other local government workers will demand the same right. Before you can say Jimmy Hoffa, unions will have penetrated the very marrow of government services everywhere -- with potentially catastrophic results.
According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, states are projecting collectively a $196 billion deficit for 2010. Allowing unions to organize local government will add increased fiscal demands at a difficult time. An example is Vallejo, CA, near San Francisco, which filed a bankruptcy petition citing salaries and benefits for unionized city workers that represented 75% of the of the general fund budget. Fortunately, the bankruptcy court rejected the contention of the unions that the city was obligated to continue collective bargaining for four more years.
It's bad enough that the impending bill violates states' rights and empowers unions to infiltrate cities and counties to unionize government workers, but another edict from the Obama White House adds a federal order mandating that all U.S. government contracts in excess of $25 million can be performed only by firms with unions or a collective bargaining agreement.
It's a one-two punch -- forced local government unionization and a federal edict to ensure union power on government contract jobs. It looks like the unions win in a TKO.
Bernie Reeves is editor and publisher of Raleigh Metro Magazine.
2)Israeli-Palestinian peace isn't the Mideast's magic cure
By Avi Issacharoff
Andrew Exum, a brilliant young American researcher recently posted a quite justifiably critical post concerning our blog , saying we were focusing too much on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict while disregarding broader Middle East strategic issues. Problem is, that it isn't only us doing it, with the whole of the American administration seemingly coming down with Jerusalem Syndrome. At times it appears that the administration's sole focus in the Middle East is the freeze of 1,600 housing units planned to be built in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Ramat Shlomo, the location of which even veteran Jerusalemites are hard pressed to pinpoint.
Instead of demanding both sides to "sit and talk," the U.S. administration is obsessed, working in every possible way to force a construction freeze in the East Jerusalem's Jewish neighborhoods on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Netanyahu had already clarified that that was not going to happen. But, if only to appease U.S. President Barack Obama, the PM pulsed out the new/old idea published today in Haaretz of recognizing a Palestinian state within temporary borders while postponing the discussion over Jerusalem's future status.
The Palestinian Authority finds the idea completely unacceptable. Palestinian officials were quick to protest that possibility anytime anyone on the Israeli side toyed with the thought of a Palestinian state in temporary borders, clarifying that the Palestinians would not accept it. That is also expected to be the reaction in this case, and possibly the reaction Netanyahu was going for. To divert the fire from Israel while focusing international public opinion on the Palestinians refusal to negotiate and even to declare statehood. It is as if Netanyahu is saying: "Gentlemen, Israel agrees to a Palestinian state," taking the sting out of PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad's plan to declare a Palestinian state along 1967 borders by August 2011. Netanyahu could then point his finger at PA President Mahmoud Abbas and his aides, saying "You see, I told you. It's their fault. They're not interested, and continue to miss out on chances for peace."
It's understandable why the Palestinians would reject a Palestinian state within temporary borders. They have witnessed the Jewish population in East Jerusalem and the West Bank triple itself since 1993, despite signing the Oslo Accords. As far as they're concerned, that which begins as temporary could quickly become permanent, especially in the face of Israel's settlement policies. But with such an erudite argument at hand, Netanyahu succeeds in creating at least the semblance of a desire to reach a diplomatic breakthrough, while painting the Palestinians as Peace deniers. Again.
And now, back to the U.S. administration. The way that things look right now, a peace deal won't be achieved even if Israel and the PA decide on re-launching peace talks. And even if such an agreement is reached in the next two years, both sides would still be miles away from resolving the issues the White House and the State Department find convenient to overlook at the movement. Hamas rules Gaza and isn't going anywhere. Hezbollah has a tight grip on Lebanon and the continuing influx of arms from Syria maintains the fears of another war between Israel and its neighbor to the north. And, of course, Iran, continues its race to grab hold of nuclear weapons. But the U.S. administration feels it has found the magic cure for all of the Middle East's symptoms peace between Israel and the Palestinians; and in the case of Iran, peace between Israel and Syria.
Thus, Chairwoman of the United States Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Dianne Feinstein, when discussing the high probability that Hezbollah received Scud surface-to-surface missiles, inexplicably said that there's "only one thing that's going to solve it, and that's a two-state solution." Only, the portrayal of the current situation in such a manner is an insult to Hezbollah as well as, more importantly, to the intelligence of the American administration. No, the founding of a Palestinian state would not solve the problem of Hezbollah's presence in Lebanon one bit, or do anything to quench Iran's nuclear ambitions. Just a few days ago Jordan's King Abdullah II said that there wouldn't be a need for nuclear weapons at all one Israel and the Palestinian sign a peace deal. That too, is just pulling wool over one's eyes.
National Security Advisor Jim Jones went as far as telling the highly regarded Middle East Institute that "peace between Israel and Syria, if it is possible, could have a transformative effect on the region," adding that advancing Middle East peace would also help prevent Iran "from cynically shifting attention away from its failures to meet its [nuclear] obligations." In some respects General Jones is correct. Peace between Israel and Syria would tone down Iran's influence on other Middle Eastern nations. However, Syria is showing no signs of having the least interest in peace, and is blatantly ignoring Washington when it comes to its Hezbollah-bound weapons shupments. Moreover, even an Israel-Syria peace agreement won?t stop Iran's efforts to achieve an atomic bomb. On the contrary, it may escalate them. A diplomatically-isolated Iran won't hurry to pass over nuclear weapons that could save it from an Iraq-like fate.
The U.S. administration tends to forget all this. It creates the false pretence that it all depends on Israel alone and on the ability to reach a peace agreement with the Palestinians. That, at best, is an inaccuracy. As Aaron Miller, a former member of President Bill Clinton's peace team, who isn't suspected of being too supportive of Netanyahu, wrote in Foreign Policy this week, the U.S. has more pressing issues than the Israeli-Palestinian conflict such as, for example, Iraq, Afghanistan as well as, of course, Iran. Unfortunately, none of those issues would be solved even if peace is achieved between Israel and the Palestinians.
And as to my colleague Andrew Exum, we promise, regardless of the U.S. administration, to focus more on other Middle East issues. You never know, someone in the White House might even get inspired?
2a) I took the trouble to go to Google and it is there just like the article describes it below.
Word of the Day: Dhimmitude
Had never heard the word until now---Type it into Google and start reading…Pretty interesting.
Note that Muslims and certain other religions are exempt from the Obamacare penalties and it is supported by law. We are surrendering from within! The boy is leading us right down the path to total control!
Dhimmitude is the Muslim system of controlling non-muslim populations conquered through jihad. Specifically, it is the TAXING of non-muslims in exchange for tolerating their presence AND as a coercive means of converting conquered remnants to islam.
The ObamaCare bill is the establishment of Dhimmitude and Sharia muslim diktat in the United States . Muslims are specifically exempted from the government mandate to purchase insurance, and also from the penalty tax for being uninsured. Islam considers insurance
to be "gambling", "risk-taking" and "usury" and is thus banned. Muslims are specifically granted exemption based on this. How convenient. So I, Ann Barnhardt, a Christian, will have crippling
IRS liens placed against all of my assets, including real estate, cattle, and even accounts receivables, and will face hard prison time because I refuse to buy insurance or pay the penalty tax.
Meanwhile, Louis Farrakhan will have no such penalty and will have 100% of his health needs paid for by the de facto government insurance. Non-muslims will be paying a tax to subsidize muslims.
Period. This is Dhimmitude.
Dhimmitude serves two purposes: it enriches the muslim masters AND serves to drive conversions to islam. In this case, the incentive to convert to islam will be taken up by those in the inner-cities as well as the godless Generation X, Y and Z types who have no moral
anchor. If you don't believe in Christ to begin with, it is no problem whatsoever to sell Him for 30 pieces of silver. Lots of people will say "Sure, I'll be a muslim if it means free health insurance and no taxes. Where do I sign, bro?"
3) Friday, April 23, 2010 : National Security Advisor James L. Jones: Iran won't use nukes if they have them
What's the danger if Iran has nuclear bombs?
"A nuclear-armed Iran could transform the landscape of the Middle East,
precipitating a nuclear arms race, dramatically increasing the prospect and
danger of local conflicts, fatally wounding the global non-proliferation
regime, and emboldening the terrorists and extremists who threaten the
United States and our allies."
National Security Advisor James L. Jones
So here is what National Security Advisor James L. Jones thinks the downside
is if Iran has nukes:
#1. Nuclear arms race - both on a regional and global level
#2. Local conflicts - apparently with conventional weapons.
#3. "Emboldening the terrorists and extremists"
What's missing from the list?
Bottom line question: Does National Security Advisor James L. Jones
entertain the possibility that a nuclear-armed Iran might actually use a
This is not an academic question.
When you weigh the costs of stopping Iran from getting the bomb against the
benefits, the cost-benefit equation is profoundly different if you think
that Iran might nuke someone.
If National Security Advisor James L. Jones and the rest of the decision
makers in Washington thought that Iran might nuke someone if they got the
bomb they would be willing to pay almost any price to make sure this didn't
But they don't.
And, unfortunately, Iran knows this.]
Remarks by National Security Advisor James L. Jones at the Washington
Institute for Near East Policy
Michael Stein Address, Soref Symposium 25th Anniversary Soref Gala
Thank you all very much. Thank you, Martin Gross, for your very kind
introduction, and for your leadership as the Institute’s new president.
You have 25 years of Institute history to live up to…and 25 years of
Institute presidents watching to make sure you get it right.
Thank you Rob Satloff, for welcoming us tonight.
On this, your 25th anniversary, let me commend all those who have made
the Washington Institute for Near East Policy the respected institution
it is today…especially past presidents Barbi Weinberg, Fred Lafer,
Michael Stein and your Chairman Howard Berkowitz.
I also want to thank your distinguished Trustees and Board of
Advisors—which has one empty chair tonight because of the recent loss of
one of your longtime Advisors…a public servant…a true
warrior-diplomat…and one of my predecessors as Supreme Allied Commander
Europe. Tonight, we remember General and Secretary of State Alexander Haig.
For a quarter-century…through five different administrations…this
Institute has provided an invaluable service, to policymakers and the
American people. Instead of partisanship, you’ve given us scholarship.
Instead of simply recycling old arguments, you’ve given us fresh and
objective analysis. So I want to thank Rob and your entire staff…and 25
years of scholars and fellows…for your insights and your contributions.
I’ve seen it myself. A few years ago, I served as Special Envoy for
Middle East Regional Security. Our work was strengthened by the advice
and counsel of many experts, including one of our special advisors—and
your Senior Fellows—Matthew Levitt. We benefited from discussions with
other Institute Fellows, including David Makovsky and Dennis Ross. And,
of course, President Obama’s Administration was all too happy to steal
Dennis away from you, and he is now helping to lead our efforts in the
region at the National Security Council. And I believe Dennis is here
I especially want to thank the Institute for your work on behalf of the
effort that President Obama called for in his speech last year in
Cairo—that is, greater understanding between the United States and
Muslim communities around world. The President called for “a sustained
effort to listen to each other, to learn from each other, to respect one
another, and to seek common ground.”
In that spirit, you’ve been promoting mutual understanding for many
years…whether it’s welcoming to Washington scholars from Cairo to
Baghdad…your Arabic-language website…Rob’s weekly Arabic-language
interview show…or his recent documentary recounting the little known
story of how Arabs saved Jews from the Holocaust.
So thank you all…for analysis that has strengthened our national
security…and for promoting the mutual understanding that can lead to a
safer, more secure world for us all. And I wish you continued success,
because, frankly, our nation—indeed, the world—needs institutions like
yours now more than ever.
Indeed, since taking office, President Obama has made it clear that his
first and foremost priority is the safety and security of the American
people. To this end, he has pursued a new era of American leadership
and comprehensive engagement based on mutual interests and mutual respect.
In the coming weeks, we’ll be releasing a new National Security Strategy
that formalizes the President’s approach—an approach that is rooted in
and guided by our national security interests. These interests are
clear and enduring.
Security—we have an enduring interest in the security of the United
States, our citizens and U.S. allies and partners; Prosperity—we have an
enduring interest in a strong, innovative and growing U.S. economy in an
open international economic system that promotes opportunity and
prosperity; Values— we have an enduring interest is upholding universal
values, at home and around the world; and, International Order—we have
an enduring interest in an international order advanced by U.S.
leadership that promotes peace, security and opportunity through
stronger cooperation to meet global challenges.
Security, prosperity, universal values, and an international order
advanced by American leadership—these are the interests that the
President and his Administration are working to advance around the world
every day, including in the Middle East.
To strengthen our security, we are responsibly ending the war in Iraq.
As evidenced by the successes this weekend of military operations
against al Qaeda in Iraq, Iraqi security forces are in the lead. The
United States will end our combat mission by the end of August. In
accordance with the U.S.-Iraq Security Agreement, all U.S. forces will
be out Iraq by the end of next year. Now, the most immediate challenge
is for Iraqi political leaders to form an inclusive and representative
government. As they face the longer-term challenges of expanding
prosperity and opportunity, the Iraqi people will continue to have a
partner in the United States.
In Afghanistan and beyond, we have refocused the fight against al Qaeda
and its extremist allies. We’ve struck major blows against their
leaders, who are now hunkered down in the tribal regions along the
border between Afghanistan and Pakistan. At the same time, we’re
forging partnerships that isolate extremists, combat corruption and
promote good governance and development—all of which improves the daily
lives of ordinary people and undermines the forces that fuel violent
And to confront the greatest threat to global security—the danger that
terrorists will obtain nuclear weapons or materials—the President hosted
last week’s historic Nuclear Security Summit, where 46 nations joined
the goal of securing the world’s vulnerable nuclear materials in four years.
To advance our prosperity, the President has worked with allies and
partners to expand the global economic recovery…pursue growth that is
balanced and sustained…launched a national export initiative to double
American exports and support two million American jobs…. …and reformed
the international economic architecture so that the G-20 is now the
premier forum for international cooperation.
And as he promised in Cairo, next week the President will host a Summit
on Entrepreneurship with business leaders and entrepreneurs from more
than 50 nations—including many Muslim-majority countries and Israel—to
promote our common prosperity.
To advance values that are universal, the President has made it clear
that the United States will uphold our ideals both at home and abroad,
including the right of people to have a say in how they are governed. As
the President said in Cairo, the U.S. is committed to supporting
governments that reflect the will of the people, because history shows
that these governments are more stable, more successful, and more
secure. So political reform and effective and accountable governance
will remain core elements of our vision for the future, in the Middle
East and around the world.
And to advance a just and sustainable international order, the United
States is working to ensure that both the rights and responsibilities of
all nations are upheld. For example, the new START Treaty with Russia
is part of the President’s comprehensive agenda to pursue a world
without nuclear weapons—an agenda that reflects the three pillars of the
Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty: nations with nuclear weapons will
reduce them, nations without nuclear weapons will forsake them, and the
recognition that nations have a right to peaceful nuclear energy.
Whether or not the rights and responsibilities of nations are upheld
will in great measure determine whether the coming years and decades
result in greater security, prosperity and opportunity—for Americans and
for people around the world.
Perhaps nowhere do we see this more than in the Middle East, where we
face two defining challenges that I want to touch on tonight: preventing
Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons and the means to deliver them, and
forging a lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians as part of a
comprehensive peace in the region.
When President Obama took office, Iran had already assembled thousands
of centrifuges and accumulated nearly a bomb’s worth of low enriched
uranium. Iran was in active violation of five UN Security Council
Resolutions. Moreover, Iran’s sponsorship of terrorist actors in Iraq,
Lebanon, and Gaza signaled a continued determination to sow its brand of
violence and coercion across the Middle East.
Clearly, a policy of not engaging Iran did not work. That is why
President Obama made clear his commitment to engage Iran on the basis of
mutual respect on the full range of issues that divide our countries. As
the President repeatedly said, he was under no illusions. He knew it
would not be easy to overcome decades of mistrust, suspicion, and even
open hostility between our countries. But he also knew that engagement
was necessary to present Iran with a choice and to unite the
international community around the need for Iran meet its international
So to advance our interests, President Obama extended his hand and the
opportunity for dialogue. American and Iranian diplomats met in Geneva
in October, and through the International Atomic Energy Agency. With
strong support from the United States, France, and Russia, the IAEA put
forward a creative offer to produce nuclear fuel using Iran’s own low
enriched uranium. It was an offer with humanitarian benefits, ensuring
that Iran would meet its need for medical isotopes. It gave Iran the
opportunity to show that its nuclear program was for peaceful purposes.
It would have built confidence on both sides in the possibility of
further agreements. In addition, the United States went to great
lengths to demonstrate our commitment and establish assurances for Iran.
To date, we have seen no indication that Iran’s leaders want to resolve
these issues constructively. After initially accepting it, they
rejected the Tehran Research Reactor proposal. They have refused to
discuss their nuclear program with the P5+1. The revelation of a
previously covert enrichment site, construction of which further
violated Iran’s NPT obligations, fed further suspicion about Iran’s
intentions. Iran recently increased the enrichment levels of its
uranium to 20 percent. All the while, Iran continues to brutally
repress its own citizens and prohibit their universal rights to express
themselves freely and choose their own future.
These are not the behaviors of a responsible international actor, and
they are not the actions of a government committed to peaceful diplomacy
and a new relationship with a willing and ready partner.
Indeed, Iran’s continued defiance of its international obligations on
its nuclear program and its support of terrorism represents a
significant regional and global threat. A nuclear-armed Iran could
transform the landscape of the Middle East, precipitating a nuclear arms
race, dramatically increasing the prospect and danger of local
conflicts, fatally wounding the global non-proliferation regime, and
emboldening the terrorists and extremists who threaten the United States
and our allies.
Therefore, we are now working actively with allies and partners to
increase the costs of Iran’s continued failure to live up to its
international obligations. This includes a U.N. Security Council
As President Obama has stated, our offer of engagement with Iran stands,
and we remain prepared to pursue a better and more positive future. Iran
has rights, but with those rights come responsibilities. If Iran’s
leaders do not fulfill those responsibilities, and if they continue to
violate their international obligations, they will face ever deepening
Iran’s government must face real consequences for its continued defiance
of the international community. We hope that Iran will make the right
choice and acts to restore the confidence of the international community
in the exclusively peaceful nature of its nuclear program.
However, should Iran’s leaders fail to make that choice, President Obama
has been very clear, and I want to repeat it here: the United States is
determined to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons. In so
doing, we will avoid a nuclear arms race in the region and the
proliferation of nuclear technology to terrorist organizations.
Of course, one of the ways that Iran exerts influence in the Middle East
is by exploiting the ongoing Arab-Israeli conflict. Iran uses the
conflict to keep others in the region on the defensive and to try to
limit its own isolation. Ending this conflict, achieving peace between
Israelis and Palestinians and establishing a sovereign Palestinian state
would therefore take such an evocative issue away from Iran, Hizballah,
and Hamas. It would allow our partners in the region to focus on
building their states and institutions. And peace between Israel and
Syria, if it is possible, could have a transformative effect on the region.
Since taking office, President Obama has pursued a two-state solution—a
secure, Jewish state of Israel living side by side in peace and security
with a viable and independent Palestinian state.
This is in the United States’ interest. It is in Israel’s interest. It
is in the Palestinians’ interest. It is in the interest of the Arab
countries, and, indeed, the world. Advancing this peace would also help
prevent Iran from cynically shifting attention away from its failures to
meet its obligations.
And since there has been a lot of distortion and misrepresentation of
our policy recently, let me take this opportunity to address our
relationship with our ally Israel. Like any two nations, we will have
of disagreements, but we will always resolve them as allies. And we
will never forget that since the first minutes of Israeli independence,
the United States has had a special relationship with Israel. And that
will not change.
Why? Because this is not a commitment of Democrats or Republicans; it
is a national commitment based on shared values, deep and interwoven
connections, and mutual interests.
As President Obama declared in Cairo, “America's strong bonds with
Israel are well known. This bond is unbreakable.” They are the bonds
of history—two nations that earned our independence through the
sacrifice of patriots. They are the bonds of two people, bound together
by shared values of freedom and individual opportunity. They are the
bonds of two democracies, where power resides in the people. They are
the bonds of pioneers in science, technology and so many fields where we
cooperate every day. They are the bonds of friendship, including the
ties of so many families and friends.
This week marked the 62nd anniversary of Israeli independence—a nation
and a people who have survived in the face of overwhelming odds. But
even now, six decades since its founding, Israel continues to reside in
a hostile neighborhood with adversaries who cling to the false hope that
denying Israel’s legitimacy will ultimately make it disappear. But
those adversaries are wrong.
As the President said in Cairo, for the entire world to hear, the State
of Israel “will not go away.” As he said at the United Nations, nations
“do the Palestinians no favors when they choose vitriolic attacks
against Israel over constructive willingness to recognize Israel's
legitimacy and its right to exist in peace and security.”
So America’s commitment to Israel will endure. And everyone must know
that there is no space—no space—between the United States and Israel
when it comes to Israel’s security. Our commitment to Israel’s security
is unshakable. It is as strong as ever. This President and this
Administration understands very well the environment—regionally and
internationally—in which Israel and the United States must operate. We
understand very well that for peace and stability in the Middle East,
Israel must be secure.
The United States will never waiver in defense of Israel’s security.
That is why we provide billions of dollars annually in security
assistance to Israel, why we have reinvigorated our consultations to
ensure Israel’s Qualitative Military Edge, and why we undertake joint
military exercises, such as the Juniper Cobra ballistic missile defense
exercise that involved more than 1,000 United States servicemen and
women. We view these efforts as essential elements of our regional
security approach, because many of the same forces that threaten Israel
also threaten the United States.
I can also say from long experience that our security relationship with
Israel is important for America. Our military benefits from Israeli
innovations in technology, from shared intelligence, from exercises that
help our readiness and joint training that enhances our capabilities and
from lessons learned in Israel’s own battles against terrorism and
Over the years, and like so many Americans—like so many of you here
tonight—I’ve spent a great deal of time with my Israeli partners,
including my friends in the IDF. These partnerships are deep and
abiding. They are personal relationships and friendships based on
mutual trust and respect. Every day, across the whole range of our
bilateral relationship, we are working together for our shared security
and prosperity. And our partnership will only be strengthened in the
months and years to come.
In our pursuit of a two-state solution, we recognize that peace must be
made by the parties and cannot be imposed from the outside. At the same
time, we understand that the status quo is not sustainable. It is not
sustainable for Israel’s identity as a secure, Jewish, and democratic
state, because the demographic clock keeps ticking and will not be
reversed. The status quo is not sustainable for Palestinians who have
legitimate aspirations for sovereignty and statehood. And the status
quo is not sustainable for the region because there is a struggle
between those who reject Israel’s existence and those who are prepared
to coexist with Israel — and the status quo strengthens the
rejectionists and weakens those who would live in peace.
Obviously, we are disappointed that the parties have not begun direct
negotiations. The United States stands ready to do whatever is
necessary to help the parties bridge their differences and develop the
confidence needed to make painful compromises on behalf of peace. As we
do so, we will also strongly support the Palestinian Authority’s efforts
to develop its institutions from the ground up and call on other states,
particularly in the region, to do their part to support the Palestinian
Authority as well.
We also continue to call on all sides to avoid provocative actions,
including Israeli actions in East Jerusalem and Palestinian incitement
that fuel suspicion rather than trust.
As Secretary of State Clinton has said many times, “we believe that
through good-faith negotiations, the parties can mutually agree to an
outcome which ends the conflict and reconciles the Palestinian goal of
an independent and viable state based on the ‘67 lines, with agreed
swaps, and Israel’s goal of a Jewish state with secure and recognized
borders that reflect subsequent developments and meet Israel’s security
So it is time to begin those negotiations and to put an end to excuses.
It is time for all leaders in the region—Israeli, Palestinian, and
Arab—to support efforts for peace. It is time for today’s leader to
demonstrate the courage and leadership of Anwar Sadat, King Hussein, and
I want to conclude tonight by returning to some simple words that
President Obama spoke in Oslo—this is a “moment of challenge.” And when
it comes to the Middle East, it is a moment of many challenges.
It is the challenge of transitioning to full Iraqi responsibility for
their future. In Afghanistan and beyond, is the challenge of defeating
violent extremists who threaten us all. It is the challenge of
preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons and the means to deliver
them. It is the challenge of forging a lasting peace between Israelis
and Palestinians as part of a comprehensive peace in the region. It is
the challenge of realizing greater prosperity and opportunity for all
who call the Middle East home.
Alone, any one of these would demand extraordinary patience and
perseverance. Together, they will require a comprehensive and
coordinated approach. This is the work that President Obama has
undertaken. And this is the work we will continue to pursue in the
months and years ahead…not only for the sake of America’s security, but
for the world’s.
Thank you all very much.
4) Moment of decision :Eitan Haber writes about moments that will precede government decision on Iran strike
By Eitan Haber
It will be a moment where government ministers hold their breath. Newspapers, books, and maybe even movies will portray it, years later, as a “historical moment.”
The “visitors” by the government table – the IDF chief of staff, Mossad chief, Shin Bet chief, and various advisors – will take a close look at the ministers. Weeks, months, or years later, each one of these visitors will remember the facial expressions on the ministers’ faces and their paleness. The ministers themselves won’t forget it either.
Seconds earlier, the prime minister will turn to his colleagues sitting around the table. He too will grow pale then. Years of discussions and preparations will come to an end at that moment.
Benjamin Netanyahu, as the son of a historian and as one who is deeply familiar with how history is written, will say a few words for the protocol, clearly realizing that this is how he perpetuates himself, and certainly his words, in the history books. Then, the government meeting room will grow silent. What will Netanyahu propose that we do, or don’t do, in respect to Iran’s nuclear bomb being built underground as we speak? What can be done?
Much, and even very much, depends on one man who will be sitting by the table, without the right to vote. Before the ministers vote, the prime minister will turn to him. He will be the last speaker before the ministers speak. “The chief of staff,” Netanyahu will say. “Go ahead.”
Netanyahu is familiar with the army chief’s position, which had been uttered during days and nights of endless discussions. Now, before such fateful decision, he will ask the army chief to fully explain his position. Netanyahu also knows that some of the ministers – and possibly many of them – will vote in line with Lieutenant GeneralGabi Ashkenazi’s position.
Our generation’s mission
Assuming that the undersigned knows the current army chief, and he indeed makes pretenses of knowing him, Ashkenazi will not grant the government the honor and pleasure of shifting the decision to his shoulders. He will present the most accurate data, the “in favor” and “against” positions, and then he will say: Gentlemen, the decision is in your hands. It’s yours.” Then he will add: “We will carry out whatever you decide.”
In a retrospective historical look, this may be the most dramatic decision required of an Israeli government since Ben-Gurion’s decision to declare the State of Israel’s establishment. Every decision – in favor, against, abstention – will have historical meaning this time around: For the second time in modern history, the Jewish people is facing an existential test.
Netanyahu, even before he was elected as PM, believed that this is our generation’s mission; today he still believes that his historical role as prime minister is to eliminate the threat from the second Hitler. The question of how to do it, whether it’s even possible to do it, and what will be the historical implications of every act or failure are currently tearing apart the political leadership, and also the defense establishment. There is no going back after the decision.
Government ministers, in any government, usually fear such moments of decision. Indeed, they aspired for years to reach the government table, but a national decision of this scope? Almost nothing in their lives prepared them to take such decision. This is why they want to depend on “higher authorities” in order to make the decision, and in this case the army chief is their target.
The most intelligent ministers who are deeply familiar with history also remember that commissions of inquiry always blamed the military leadership (retroactively, of course,) so why not now?
As noted, I’m guessing – and it’s only a guess – that Army Chief Ashkenazi will not make it easy for the ministers. And then, during those historic moments, they will seek a “replacement” for the army chief and count on the two people who, at the moment, appear to them as an inseparable duo: Bibi Netanyahu and Ehud Barak, whose political rivals also view as knowledgeable people.
As opposed to the chief of staff, who justifiably leaves the decision up to them, Netanyahu and Barak cannot look back and seek someone else that can be relied on to make the decision. For better and for worse, it’s them. Only them. One should not be envying this duo.
5) 'Ties will only get stronger'
Amid high hopes regarding the start of "proximity" Middle East peace negotiations, US envoy George Mitchell reaffirmed the unshakable bond between Washington and Jerusalem during a meeting with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Friday afternoon, saying the special ties would only get stronger.
Mitchell stressed that the Obama administration was working to advance mutual Israeli and US interests, which he said were led by a comprehensive peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians based on the two-state solution, Israel Radio reported.
At the conclusion of the talks at the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem, the two agreed to meet again on Sunday.
Mitchell and Defense Minister Ehud Barak, meanwhile, agreed to meet again in Washington next week after their hour-long talks at the Defense Ministry in Tel Aviv on Friday morning.
Mitchell is hoping to announce the start of the indirect talks during his current three-day visit here.
The US envoy is also due to meet President Shimon Peres on Friday afternoon, before heading to Ramallah in the evening for talks with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.
Anticipation of a breakthrough was high on Thursday night, despite Netanyahu’s reiterated refusal to halt construction in Jewish neighborhoods of east Jerusalem as the Palestinian Authority has been demanding.
Barak heading to US next week
Meanwhile, Barak’s office announced that the defense minister would fly to the US on Sunday for meetings with heads of the Obama administration.
The meetings are expected to focus on security issues, including attempts to resume peace talks, said a statement Friday.
As well as Mitchell, Barak is set to meet US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Defense Secretary Robert Gates, National Security Adviser James Jones, Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Michael Mullen and intelligence chiefs.
Hilary Leila Krieger, Khaled Abu Toameh and Tovah Lazaroff contributed to this report
5a)The Strategic Foundations of the US-Israel Alliance
By Caroline B. Glick
Israel's status as the US's most vital ally in the Middle East has been so widely recognized for so long that over the years, Israeli and American leaders alike have felt it unnecessary to explain what it is about the alliance that makes it so important for the US.
Today, as the Obama administration is openly distancing the US from Israel while giving the impression that Israel is a strategic impediment to the administration's attempts to strengthen its relations with the Arab world, recalling why Israel is the US's most important ally in the Middle East has become a matter of some urgency.
Much is made of the fact that Israel is a democracy. But we seldom consider why the fact that Israel is a representative democracy matters. The fact that Israel is a democracy means that its alliance with America reflects the will of the Israeli people. As such, it remains constant regardless of who is power in Jerusalem.
All of the US's other alliances in the Middle East are with authoritarian regimes whose people do not share the pro-American views of their leaders. The death of leaders or other political developments are liable to bring about rapid and dramatic changes in their relations with the US.
For instance, until 1979, Iran was one of the US's closest strategic allies in the region. Owing to the gap between the Iranian people and their leadership, the Islamic revolution put an end to the US-Iran alliance.
Egypt flipped from a bitter foe to an ally of the US when Gamal Abdel Nasser died in 1969. Octogenarian President Hosni Mubarak's encroaching death is liable to cause a similar shift in the opposite direction.
Instability in the Hashemite kingdom in Jordan and the Saudi regime could transform those countries from allies to adversaries.
Only Israel, where the government reflects the will of the people is a reliable, permanent US ally.
America reaps the benefits of its alliance with Israel every day. As the US suffers from chronic intelligence gaps, Israel remains the US's most reliable source for accurate intelligence on the US's enemies in the region.
Israel is the US's only ally in the Middle East that always fights its own battles. Indeed, Israel has never asked the US for direct military assistance in time of war. Since the US and Israel share the same regional foes, when Israel is called upon to fight its enemies, its successes redound to the US's benefit.
Here it bears recalling Israel's June 1982 destruction of Syria's Soviet-made anti-aircraft batteries and the Syrian air force. Those stunning Israeli achievements were the first clear demonstration of the absolute superiority of US military technology over Soviet military technology. Many have argued that it was this Israeli demonstration of Soviet technological inferiority that convinced the Reagan administration it was possible to win the Cold War.
In both military and non-military spheres, Israeli technological achievements - often developed with US support - are shared with America. The benefits the US has gained from Israeli technological advances in everything from medical equipment to microchips to pilotless aircraft are without peer worldwide.
Beyond the daily benefits the US enjoys from its close ties with Israel, the US has three fundamental, permanent, vital national security interests in the Middle East. A strong Israel is a prerequisite for securing all of these interests.
America's three permanent strategic interests in the Middle East are as follows:
1 - Ensuring the smooth flow of affordable petroleum products from the region to global consumers through the Persian Gulf, the Gulf of Aden and the Suez Canal.
2 - Preventing the most radical regimes, sub-state and non-state actors from acquiring the means to cause catastrophic harm.
3 - Maintaining the US's capacity to project its power to the region.
A strong Israel is the best guarantor of all of these interests. Indeed, the stronger Israel is, the more secure these vital American interests are. Three permanent and unique aspects to Israel's regional position dictate this state of affairs.
1 - As the first target of the most radical regimes and radical sub-state actors in the region, Israel has a permanent, existential interest in preventing these regimes and sub-state actors from acquiring the means to cause catastrophic harm.
Israel's 1981 airstrike that destroyed Iraq's Osirak nuclear reactor prevented Iraq from acquiring nuclear weapons. Despite US condemnation at the time, the US later acknowledged that the strike was a necessary precondition to the success of Operation Desert Storm ten years later. Richard Cheney - who served as secretary of defense during Operation Desert Storm - has stated that if Iraq had been a nuclear power in 1991, the US would have been hard pressed to eject Saddam Hussein's Iraqi army from Kuwait and so block his regime from asserting control over oil supplies in the Persian Gulf.
2 - Israel is a non-expansionist state and its neighbors know it. In its 62 year history, Israel has only controlled territory vital for its national security and territory that was legally allotted to it in the 1922 League of Nations Mandate which has never been abrogated or superseded.
Israel's strength, which it has used only in self-defense, is inherently non-threatening. Far from destabilizing the region, a strong Israel stabilizes the Middle East by deterring the most radical actors from attacking.
In 1970, Israel blocked Syria's bid to use the PLO to overthrow the Hashemite regime in Jordan. Israel's threat to attack Syria not only saved the Hashemites then, it has deterred Syria from attempting to overthrow the Jordanian regime ever since.
Similarly, Israel's neighbors understand that its purported nuclear arsenal is a weapon of national survival and hence they view it as non-threatening. This is the reason Israel's alleged nuclear arsenal has never spurred a regional nuclear arms race.
In stark contrast, if Iran acquires nuclear weapons, a regional nuclear arms race will ensue immediately.
Although they will never admit it, Israel's non-radical neighbors feel more secure when Israel is strong. On the other hand, the region's most radical regimes and non-state actors will always seek to emasculate Israel.
3-- Since as the Jewish state Israel is the regional bogeyman, no Arab state will agree to form a permanent alliance with it. Hence, Israel will never be in a position to join forces with another nation against a third nation.
In contrast, the Egyptian-Syrian United Arab Republic of the 1960s was formed to attack Israel. Today, the Syrian-Iranian alliance is an inherently aggressive alliance against Israel and the non-radical Arab states in the region. Recognizing the stabilizing force of a strong Israel, the moderate states of the region prefer for Israel to remain strong.
From the US's perspective, far from impairing its alliance-making capabilities in the region, by providing military assistance to Israel, America isn't just strengthening the most stabilizing force in the region. It is showing all states and non-state actors in the greater Middle East it is trustworthy.
On the other hand, every time the US seeks to attenuate its ties with Israel, it is viewed as an untrustworthy ally by the nations of the Middle East. US hostility towards Israel causes Israel's neighbors to hedge their bets by distancing themselves from the US lest America abandon them to their neighboring adversaries.
A strong Israel empowers the relatively moderate actors in the region to stand up to the radical actors in the region because they trust Israel to keep the radicals in check. Today's regional balance of power in which the moderates have the upper hand over the radicals is predicated on a strong Israel.
On the other hand, when Israel is weakened the radical forces are emboldened to threaten the status quo. Regional stability is thrown asunder. Wars become more likely. Attacks on oil resources increase. The most radical sub-state actors and regimes are emboldened.
To the extent that the two-state solution assumes that Israel must contract itself to within the indefensible 1949 ceasefire lines, and allow a hostile Palestinian state allied with terrorist organizations to take power in the areas it vacates, the two-state solution is predicated on making Israel weak and empowering radicals. In light of this, the two-state solution as presently constituted is antithetical to America's most vital strategic interests in the Middle East.
When we bear in mind the foundations for the US's alliance with Israel, it is obvious that US support for Israel over the years has been the most cost-effective national security investment in post-World War II US history.
JWR contributor Caroline B. Glick is the senior Middle East Fellow at the Center for Security Policy in Washington, DC and the deputy managing editor of The Jerusalem Post. Comment by clicking here.
6) )Liberals and the Violence Card: Conservative protest is motivated by a love of what America stands for.
By RUSH LIMBAUGH
The latest liberal meme is to equate skepticism of the Obama administration with a tendency toward violence. That takes me back 15 years ago to the time President Bill Clinton accused "loud and angry voices" on the airwaves (i.e., radio talk-show hosts like me) of having incited Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh. What self-serving nonsense. Liberals are perfectly comfortable with antigovernment protest when they're not in power.
From the halls of the Ivy League to the halls of Congress, from the antiwar protests during the Vietnam War and the war in Iraq to the anticapitalist protests during International Monetary Fund and World Bank meetings, we're used to seeing leftist malcontents take to the streets. Sometimes they're violent, breaking shop windows with bricks and throwing rocks at police. Sometimes there are arrests. Not all leftists are violent, of course. But most are angry. It's in their DNA. They view the culture as corrupt and capitalism as unjust.
Now the liberals run the government and they're using their power to implement their radical agenda. Mr. Obama and his party believe that the election of November 2008 entitled them to make permanent, "transformational" changes to our society. In just 16 months they've added more than $2 trillion to the national debt, essentially nationalized the health-care system, the student-loan industry, and have their sights set on draconian cap-and-trade regulations on carbon emissions and amnesty for illegal aliens.
Had President Obama campaigned on this agenda, he wouldn't have garnered 30% of the popular vote.
Like the millions of citizens who've peacefully risen up and attended thousands of rallies in protest, I seek nothing more than the preservation of the social contract that undergirds our society. I do not hate the government, as the left does when it is not running it. I love this country. And because I do, I insist that the temporary inhabitants of high political office comply with the Constitution, honor our God-given unalienable rights, and respect our hard-earned private property. For this I am called seditious, among other things, by some of the very people who've condemned this society?
I reject the notion that America is in a well-deserved decline, that she and her citizens are unexceptional. I do not believe America is the problem in the world. I believe America is the solution to the world's problems. I reject a foreign policy that treats our allies like our enemies and our enemies like our allies. I condemn the president traveling the world apologizing for America's great contributions to mankind. And I condemn his soft-pedaling the dangers we face from terrorism. For this I am inciting violence?
Few presidents have sunk so low as Mr. Clinton did with his accusations about Oklahoma City. Last week—on the very day I was contributing to and raising more than $3 million to fight leukemia and lymphoma on my radio program—Mr. Clinton used the 15th anniversary of that horrific day to regurgitate his claims about talk radio.
At a speech delivered last Friday at the Center for American Progress in Washington, D.C., the former president said: [T]here were a lot of people who were in the business back then of saying that the biggest threat to our liberty and the cause of our domestic economic problem was the federal government itself. And we have to realize that there were others who fueled this both because they agreed with it and because it was in their advantage to do so. . . . We didn't have blog sites back then so the instrument of carrying this forward was basically the right-wing radio talk show hosts and they understand clearly that emotion was more powerful than reason most of the time."
Timothy McVeigh was incensed by the Clinton administration's 1993 siege on the Branch Davidian compound in Waco, Texas. It's no coincidence that the bombing took place two years to the day of the Waco siege. McVeigh was not inspired by anything I said or believe and to say otherwise is outright slander. In the aftermath of the bombing, I raised millions of dollars for the children of federal employees killed in that cowardly attack through my association with the Marine Corp Law Enforcement Foundation.
Let me just say it. The Obama/Clinton/media left are comfortable with the unrest in our society today. It allows them to blame and demonize their opponents (doctors, insurance companies, Wall Street, talk radio, Fox News) in order to portray their regime as the great healer of all our ills, thus expanding their power and control over our society.
A clear majority of the American people want no part of this. They instinctively know that the Obama way is not how things get done in this country. They are motivated by love. Not hate, not sedition. They love their country and want to save it from those who do not.
Mr. Limbaugh is a nationally syndicated radio talk-show host.
7)The Real Republican Civil War The struggle between Marco Rubio and Charlie Crist for the Florida Senate seat symbolizes the rift between the reformers and the establishment in the GOP.
By KIMBERLEY A. STRASSEL
Marco Rubio appeared on a Sunday talk show this month to say something remarkable. The Republican running for Florida's Senate seat suggested we reform Social Security by raising the retirement age for younger workers. Florida is home to 2.4 million senior citizens who like to vote. The blogs declared Mr. Rubio politically suicidal.
The response from Mr. Rubio's primary competitor, Gov. Charlie Crist, was not remarkable. His campaign slammed Mr. Rubio's idea as "cruel, unusual and unfair to seniors living on a fixed income." Mr. Crist's plan for $17.5 trillion in unfunded Social Security liabilities? Easy! He'll root out "fraud" and "waste."
Let's talk Republican "civil war." Not the one the media is hawking, that pits supposed tea party fanatics like Mr. Rubio against supposed "moderates" like Mr. Crist. The Republican Party is split. But the real divide is between reformers like Mr. Rubio and Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan, who are running on principles and tough issues, and a GOP old guard that still finds it politically expedient to duck or demagogue issues. As Republicans look for a way out of the wilderness, this is the rift that matters.
And it's the divide playing out in Florida, even if that's not the press's preferred narrative. In conventional-wisdom world, Mr. Rubio is the darling of an angry grass roots, surging at the expense of the postpartisan Mr. Crist.
And woe betide the GOP, goes the storyline. It is courting disaster, repeating its mistake in New York 23, nominating radicals who can't win elections. Never mind the grass roots never did drum Mark Kirk (running for Illinois's Senate seat) out of the party. Or that Florida doesn't even fit this mold. Mr. Rubio, a Jeb Bush protégé, is hardly too conservative for his state. A recent Rasmussen poll has him beating Mr. Crist and Democrat Kendrick Meek statewide. Mr. Crist doesn't solve his Rubio problem by bolting the party.
What has attracted independents and even Democrats to Mr. Rubio is his reformist agenda, which taps into this week's Pew poll finding a historically low 22% of Americans trust government. It hasn't hurt that Mr. Crist has provided a sharp contrast with a campaign that channels the mindset that lost the GOP its majority.
On Social Security, Mr. Rubio is a supporter of Mr. Ryan's roadmap, which tackles entitlement and budget reform. Mr. Crist took the typical Washington path of refusing to acknowledge reality and then accusing his opponent of robbing granny. This is reminiscent of the GOP reluctance to embrace hard issues like health-care reform when it controlled Washington. One result is ObamaCare.
Speaking of that law, Mr. Rubio condemned the takeover. Mr. Crist dithered. While Mr. Rubio slammed the stimulus, the governor grabbed at its state bailout provisions since that was easier than cutting spending. One of these sounds like the GOP of old; one does not.
Floridians may remember 2007, when Mr. Rubio, as speaker of the Florida House, championed comprehensive tax overhaul. It was a bold idea to swap all property taxes for a flat consumption tax. The reform lowered overall taxes; even Americans for Tax Reform applauded it. Mr. Rubio's reward was to recently have Mr. Crist slam him for proposing a "massive tax increase." Now you know why Washington never embraces anything more than a "tax commission."
Mr. Crist is best-known for launching a vicious campaign against property insurers in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. Mr. Rubio pushed back, though it was unpopular. Now that the governor has succeeded in driving that industry out of his state, things look different. This divide is similar to today's GOP split over Wall Street, between those tempted to win points by punishing banks with overweening regulation and those in the Ryan camp who have no love for big business but defend free markets.
If an angry public has done anything, it's been to embolden more of these reformers to run. Pennsylvania Senate candidate Pat Toomey was a leader on Social Security reform in Congress. John Kasich, running for Ohio governor, promises to overhaul the state's decrepit tax and regulatory systems. In House races you see more candidates running on bold solutions. Yet for every budding Rubio there remains an establishment GOP member who fights earmark bans, blanches at Medicare reform, and just wants to get through the next election.
This divide is putting enormous pressure on the GOP leadership. It tastes victory this fall and is terrified of blowing it. It watched President Obama sandbag Mr. Ryan earlier this year, holding up his roadmap as an example of the terrors the GOP would impose on the nation.
At some point, GOP leaders are going to have to decide what the "new" GOP is. Principled opposition to bad Democratic policy is a legitimate strategy for the midterms. Then what? Republicans will win seats this fall. How long they remain in them will come down to which side—the establishment GOP or the reformist GOP—wins what is the real Republican civil
8)The New Master of Wall Street: Obama surveys the financial kingdom that may soon be his..
President Obama is a gifted man, but until yesterday we hadn't known that his achievements include having predicted the financial panic of 2008. It was a "failure of responsibility that I spoke about when I came to New York more than two years ago—before the worst of the crisis had unfolded," Mr. Obama said yesterday in a speech on financial reform at Cooper Union in New York City. "I take no satisfaction in noting that my comments have largely been borne out by the events that followed."
We wish for the sake of our 401(k) we had noticed this Delphic call, not least when Senator Obama was opposing the reform of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. But let's not fight over history. The current reality is that the President had better be very, very smart because the reform bill he is stumping for would give him and his regulators vast new sway over financial markets and risk-taking.
This is the most important fact to understand about the current financial reform debate. While the details matter a great deal, the essence of the exercise is to transfer more control over credit allocation and the financial industry to the federal government. The industry was heavily regulated before—not that it stopped the mania and panic—but if anything close to the current bills pass, the biggest banks will become the equivalent of utilities.
The irony is that this may, or may not, reduce the risk of future financial meltdowns and taxpayer bailouts. A new super council of regulators will be created with vast new powers to determine which firms pose a "systemic" financial risk, to set high capital and margin levels, to veto certain kinds of business for certain firms, and even to set guidelines for banker compensation—or maybe not. The point is that these crucial questions will be settled not by statute, but by regulatory discretion after the law passes.
If you think Wall Street beats a path to the Beltway now, wait until the banks seek to influence how regulators will define, say, "proprietary trading." Whatever its flaws, the Glass-Steagall Act of 1932 clearly defined the difference between a commercial and investment bank. This time, the rules will be written by regulators at Treasury, the Federal Reserve, the CFTC, SEC and FDIC, among others. As he so often does, Mr. Obama yesterday denounced "the furious efforts of industry lobbyists to shape" the bill "to their special interests." But if his reform passes, this lobbying is certain to continue, more furiously.
Consider the esoteric matter of derivatives, most of which seem headed for daily settlement on exchanges and a clearinghouse if the bill passes. But not all derivatives. The new master of this universe would be Gary Gensler, a Goldman Sachs alumnus who now chairs the Commodity Futures Trading Commission. Under the bill moving through the Senate, he would decide which derivative transactions must be "cleared" and traded via electronic exchanges, and which can continue to be traded over-the-counter.
Perhaps Mr. Gensler is as wise as King Solomon, or at least John Paulson. Perhaps, like Mr. Obama in 2008, he—and his successors—will be able to foresee the next crisis and determine the derivatives contracts that pose the most future risk. He will need to be, because under such a reform some of the risk of a transaction moves from the two financial parties (say, J.P. Morgan and Goldman) to the clearinghouse—which will almost certainly be "too big to fail" if enough trades go awry in the next crisis.
Or consider the Senate provision, too little discussed, to let the SEC give shareholders more clout over corporate board elections. This would federalize what has long been state predominance in corporate law, while giving the largest and most activist investors far more leverage to impose their agendas on business.
In practice, this means giving more influence over corporate decisions to labor unions and their political surrogates who run the large public pension funds. Their goals are as likely as not to include political causes such as easier unionization, cap-and-trade regulation, or disinvestment in this or that unpopular business or country. This, too, comes down to giving more power to the political class to run business—in this case, even nonfinancial businesses.
The people who oppose these and other provisions do so for a variety of reasons, some principled, some self-interested. But they have every right to fight them. Yet Mr. Obama once again yesterday cast such opposition as dishonest: "What is not legitimate is to suggest that we're enabling or encouraging future taxpayer bailouts, as some have claimed. That may make for a good sound bite, but it's not factually accurate," he said. "A vote for reform is a vote to put a stop to taxpayer-funded bailouts. That's the truth."
Perhaps Mr. Obama should consult Democrat Ted Kaufman of Delaware, who said recently on the Senate floor that "by expanding the [federal] safety net—as we did in response to the last crisis—to cover ever larger and more complex institutions heavily engaged in speculative activities, I fear that we may be sowing the seeds for an even bigger crisis in only a few years or a decade." Mr. Kaufman wants to break up the biggest banks, which may well be preferable to making them wards of the Treasury. Is he lying too?
As in health care, Democrats are intent on ramming this reform through Congress, and Republicans ought to summon the will to resist. Absent that, the only certain result is that Washington will be the new master of the financial universe.
8a) Back to Basics on Financial Reform:The case for limiting leverage and regulating derivatives is overwhelming, but that doesn't require a new 1,300-page law
By NIALL FERGUSON AND TED FORSTMANN
A "trilemma" is like a dilemma, only there are three things to choose from and you can have just two. The current debate over post-crisis financial regulation suggests we face such a trilemma: We can choose any two of the following, but not all three: 1) efficient capital markets 2) no bailouts to big banks and 3) a depression-free economy.
From the 1980s until 2007, we essentially opted for one and two. Financial markets operated with more freedom than at any time since the 1930s and the Federal Reserve stood ready to cut interest rates if asset prices tanked. But the idea that big banks might be able to get new capital from the Treasury was scarcely even contemplated. Choosing one and two resulted in a global financial and economic crisis worthy of the name depression.
In the aftermath, congressional Democrats are claiming that we can have three out of three. In effect, the bill introduced to the Senate by Christopher Dodd purports to prevent future depressions without sacrificing the efficiency of our financial markets or committing taxpayers to future bailouts of the banking system. This trifecta is not credible.
Either the bill really does imply future bailouts, as Republicans argue. Or, as seems more plausible to us, it is going to introduce such a wide range of new financial regulations that the efficiency of our capital markets will be significantly diminished.
The public today is in no mood for light-touch regulation. It knows Wall Street has become largely a giant casino creating bets whose only purpose is to create fees for itself—with the difference that taxpayers are expected not only to bail out the casino's biggest losers but also to endure misery in the form of lost homes, lost jobs and lost savings if the casino inadvertently triggers a depression. The charges brought against Goldman Sachs by the Securities and Exchange Commission confirm this view.
Whether or not there is any basis for the SEC's claim that it misled investors, the key point is that the synthetic collateralized debt obligation (CDO) at issue was nothing more than an elaborate wager on the future price of some mortgage-backed securities—a wager with as much economic utility as a gigantic bet on a roulette wheel or a horse race. Facilitating such bets has become a huge part of the business of the world's biggest banks.
For most of the past 20 years the explosive growth of the derivatives market—the total notional amount of derivatives outstanding in June last year was $604.6 trillion—was immensely lucrative for bankers and those who invest in bank stocks. But it increased the instability of the global financial system. And taxpayers have paid a heavy price since the system all but collapsed in late 2008.
The case for some kind of regulation of the derivatives market is overwhelming. There was never a good reason for treating credit default swaps and their ilk differently from commodity futures, which are standardized and traded on exchanges. The lack of market transparency and efficient competition in these instruments indicates that much of the profit made in the current, "over-the-counter" market is simply vigorish extracted by the financial bookies. History shows that competitive markets where standardized products are traded for low commissions do not spontaneously arise. They have to be created.
The problem is that Congress is not content to address this problem alone. On the contrary, the common characteristic of the two bills currently under discussion is their staggering length (both exceed 1,300 pages) and complexity. The nightmare possibility arises: Could the proposed cure turn out to be just another symptom of the same disease? As the rules become ever more convoluted, so the opportunities for the unscrupulous increase—and the efficiency of the financial system as a whole decreases.
There is a widespread but erroneous belief that the financial crisis has its origins in deregulation dating all the way back to the late 1970s. Therefore any steps to restore the pre-Reagan regulatory system are to be welcomed. This is really bad financial history.
First, in the more controlled capital markets of the 1970s, borrowers generally paid more for their loans because there was less competition. Lousy managements were protected from corporate raiders. Savers earned negative real interest rates because of high inflation. Deregulation—such as lifting restrictions on the interest rates banks could pay and charge—and financial innovation delivered real benefits for the U.S. economy in the 1980s and '90s.
Second, it is not at all clear that our crisis was exclusively caused by a failure of regulation as opposed to a failure of monetary policy. A very large part of the responsibility for the housing bubble and bust lies with the Federal Reserve, which underestimated the extent to which inflationary pressures had relocated themselves from consumer prices to asset prices. This was a near-term error of the period 2002-2004. It has nothing whatever to do with deregulation and everything to do with defective monetary theory.
Third, the crisis of 2007-2009 originated in one of the most highly regulated sectors of the financial system: the U.S. residential mortgage market. The mortgage originators, the government-sponsored enterprises that dominate the securitization process, the commercial banks—these were scarcely institutions ignored by Congress over the years. On the contrary, Washington constantly tinkered with the system in a misguided campaign to increase home ownership. That campaign ended in tears.
Still, it took extraordinary forces to turn a subprime bust into a global financial crisis. The key forces were excessive leverage on and off bank balance sheets, and derivatives that allowed massive but opaque side bets on the future value of U.S. homes. And it was these two factors that magnified (and exported) the losses in the mortgage market; legislators should focus on them. Instead, both the House and Senate bills are packed full of scatter-gun regulations that owe more to the prejudices of legislators than to a rational assessment of what actually went wrong.
The best example (there are many) is a provision in the bill passed by the House last year creating a mechanism to police banker compensation—before we even have the results of the bill's projected study on "whether there is a correlation between compensation structures and excessive risk taking."
By all means let us regulate the derivatives market—beginning with a reform that makes it a real market. And let's clamp down on excessive bank leverage. But let us not believe we can abolish both bailouts and depressions, other than by creating another layer of government regulation. That would be to impale ourselves on the horns of a trilemma.
Mr. Ferguson is a professor of history at Harvard University and a professor of business administration at the Harvard Business School. Mr. Forstmann is senior founding partner of Forstmann Little & Company, and chairman and CEO of IMG.