As the New Year approaches I would like to wish all who read these memos a year of peace and good health and the same to your respective families.
Intel's CEO has been a critic of government strangulation for years. (See 1 below.)
Two views of Iraq. (See 2 below.)
Netanyahu pursues peace with Palestinians who are not even at peace with their own. Meanwhile, Hamas will continue to try and kill Israelis. (See 3 below.)
The odds are against a solution but it could come easier if Jordan were to annex part of the West Bank and allow the Palestinians to become Jordanians and those living in Gaza were to be absorbed into Egypt.
The reason this is unlikely is because Jordan and Egypt know Palestinians have proven to be trouble makers, cannot be trusted and the fear is they would likely work to over throw their governments. Palestinians, like the Lebanese, are very productive and would make good additions to Jordan and Egypt were it not for the radicals among them.
Meanwhile, Israel are supposed to trust the Palestinians, make peace treaties with them and pull Palestinian chestnuts out of the fire while their brethren kill Israelis. (See 3a below.)
Massachusetts new Senator on Iran going nuclear.
The Sderot playground Brown visited my be the one built by our friends. (See 3b below.)
Liberals try their best to deflect America's rejection of their precious leader and come up with all kind of make over explanations. (See 4 below.)
Meanwhile, outgoing Romer offers economic indigestion at her farewell lunch. (See 4a below.)
Double entendre's (See 5 below.)
My own sentiments. (See 6 and 6a below.)
Pelosi and Reid have been the Republican's best friend but be careful because their friendship could carry a high price - victory. (See 6b below.)
A hawkish source but generally accurate.
Later today I will participate in a conference call with Israel's Amb. to the U.S. - Michael Oren and and will post his comments in a separate memo. (See 7 below.)
The best evidence Hezballah has violated U.N.'s sanctions in Lebanon under the nose of UNFIL is when an explosion of contraband occurs. (See 8 below.)
I am currently without a book to read so I ordered Tony Blair';s memoirs and then will order GW's when it comes out after the Nov. elections. (See 9 below.)
1)Intel CEO: Government Strangling High-Tech Growth
By: Ernest Istook
The CEO of Intel has joined the ranks of those labeling big government as the cause of our economic slump, not the solution.
Paul Otellini says it already costs Intel an extra billion dollars to build a microchip plant in the U.S., rather than overseas. In his illustration, it’s an extra 25 percent to create a $4-billion facility.
He told this to an Aspen gathering of the Technology Policy Institute, adding that government is killing America’s leadership for jobs of tomorrow. Otellini said, “We seemed a generation ahead of the rest of the world in information technology. That simply is no longer the case."
While promoting education, research, favorable trade policies, and broadband expansion, he made it clear that tax policies are key — policies that are the opposite of what Congress and the Obama administration are promoting.
As CNET reported on his speech, “Take factories. 'I can tell you definitively that it costs costs $1 billion more per factory for me to build, equip, and operate a semiconductor manufacturing facility in the United States,’ Otellini said. The rub: Ninety percent of that additional cost of a $4 billion factory is not labor but the cost to comply with taxes and regulations that other nations don't impose.”
How do we get companies to expand in America rather than overseas? The Intel CEO explained, “Adjust the U.S. corporate tax rate to a rate that is competitive worldwide. At Intel, we generate 75 percent of our revenue and much of our profit abroad.
"The U.S. tax treatment of that income makes it extremely expensive to repatriate that profit and invest here. If our tax rate approached the rest of the world, corporations would have a natural incentive to invest here given many of the natural advantages that exist in this country.”
He suggested lowering the rate to 25 percent. That reduction echoes a Heritage Foundation proposal in its “Solutions for America,” which recommends, “The U.S. corporate tax rate should be set at or below the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development average of 26 percent to eliminate the incentive to move businesses and jobs overseas.”
Otellini also stressed the need not to penalize companies when they repatriate their foreign earnings and bring them back to the U.S. He’s joined by many others in the high-tech community who warn that what some call “closing tax loopholes” actually hurts the ability to create jobs in America.
Sybase CEO John Chen has written, “President Barack Obama has proposed to raise taxes on the international operations of U.S. businesses. There is one thing the proposal can effectively achieve: make the United States an even less friendly place to do business, and thus delay the economic recovery . . . Although intended to keep investments and jobs from leaving our country, in the long run the measures in the proposal will drive investments away, and kill jobs in the U.S.”
The high-tech sector’s complaints are part of a growing chorus from job creators who describe how Washington is smothering economic growth.
The Business Roundtable sent a 50-page letter to the White House describing how Obama's agenda is stifling growth and killing jobs. A GOP letter complained of 191 intended rules and regulations that each would impose $100-million or more of growth-killing cost burdens on businesses.
Worried about what their own government is doing to them, businesses continue to sit on a $1.8-trillion cash stockpile, holding it back for the extra costs they face from more taxes and more regulation.
The White House happy talk of a "Recovery Summer" grates like nails on a blackboard. That rhetoric collapses with news that second quarter growth was at a 1.6 percent annual rate — less than half the first quarter rate and well below original White House numbers.
To put America back to work, it’s time to heed those who create jobs, rather than politicians who create more government. Intel and others should not face a $1 billion hurdle to expanding in the U.S.A. instead of overseas.
2)Two views: Boehner and Obama on Iraq
Two speeches were given this week that discussed America's efforts and role in Iraq, Afghanistan and the world. House Republican leader John Boehner (R-OH) spoke to the American Legion National Convention in Milwaukee (transcript here). President Obama addressed the nation from the Oval Office (transcript here).
Some points to note:
Leader Boehner said, "Over the past several months, we've often heard about ending the war in Iraq, but not much about winning the war in Iraq."
President Obama, announcing the end of the U.S. combat mission in Iraq, never used the words "win" or "won" and used the word "victory" only once: "In an age without surrender ceremonies, we must earn victory through the success of our partners and the strength of our own nation."
Leader Boehner said, "When we support our troops, we support them all the way - there is no such thing as supporting our troops, but not their mission."
President Obama said, "At every turn, America's men and women in uniform have served with courage and resolve. As Commander-in-Chief, I am incredibly proud of their service. And like all Americans, I'm awed by their sacrifice, and by the sacrifices of their families." (No mention of the mission or whether it succeeded.)
Leader Boehner talked about fighting terrorism and about the importance of Israel, as well as touching on economic issues.
President Obama mentioned al-Qaeda in the context of Afghanistan and Pakistan, but didn't address the global war on terror at all. He called economic recovery "our central mission as a people, and my central responsibility as President."
Finally, Leader Boehner spoke in terms of America's role in the world: "Our missions in Iraq and Afghanistan are also critical to maintaining America's centuries-old role as a selfless beacon of freedom and hope."
President Obama didn't mention how our actions in Iraq served American interests, saying only that our leaving Iraq was in America's interest. He likewise emphasized the timetable for getting American forces out of Afghanistan, rather than the goals of our being there.
One final note: There was some hope that President Obama would acknowledge the success of the surge and President Bush's courageous decision to implement it. Instead, the best President Obama could say of George W. Bush was, "no one can doubt President Bush's support for our troops, or his love of country and commitment to our security."
3)Netanyahu: I want an agreement
By Attila Somfalvi
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas met in private Thursday, as part of the newly, Washington launched direct peace talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.
The two reportedly agreed to meet once every two weeks, with the first meeting set to take place at Sharm el-Sheik.
Both US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Special US envoy to the Middle East George Mitchell are expected to attend the first meeting.
Following the two-hour meeting in Washington, Netanyahu reportedly told his close advisors that what the negotiations needed now was "not a multitude of advisors, but leaders making decisions. The newspapers want headlines, but I want an agreement."
It was also agreed that the content of the talks would remain discreet and that both sides would refrain from leaking information to the media.
Following the two's meeting, Mitchell held a press briefing. Mitchell told reporters that the Netanyahu-Abbas meeting took place in Clinton's office. The two, he said, discussed various issues, and both agreed that for the negotiations to work, it is best of things are kept under wraps.
Netanyahu and Abbas, he added, denounced any acts of violence and reiterated their commitment to resolve all core issue en route to the formation of a Palestinian state.
Mitchell concluded by saying both leaders agreed that the negotiation would be competed in on year's time, with aim of achieving a comprehensive peace agreement.
3a)PA official: Hamas will strike again
Commander in Palestinian security organizations says latest terror spree an attempt by Islamist group to disrupt peace talks, warns Hamas' terror effort will increase as negotiations progress
By Ali Waked
Hamas will try to execute more terror attacks against Israelis in the West Bank, a
Palestinian Authority source told Ynet on Thursday night.
General Adnan Damiri, a commander and spokesman for the Palestinian Security and Police Forces, said that the PA's security forces were "on high alert." Our premise, he added, is that Hamas "will attempt to launch more attacks and that the settlers will try to expand their retaliatory acts, as well."
The past three days have seen three attacks against Israelis: Tuesday saw four Israelis killed near Mount Hebron, Wednesday saw two Israelis injured near Ramallah, and Thursday saw a 12-year old girl wounded in a stoning attack at Tapuach Junction.
Hamas has been celebrating the terror spree, distributing films reenacting the first two terror attacks, in which actors pose as haredim and are shot by Palestinian terrorists.
General Damiri said that both history and statistics prove that Hamas will try to disrupt the Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, just as it did in 1996 and 1997.
"As the negotiations progress, if they see it stands a chance, Hamas will attempt to step up the attacks."
The Palestinian general added that the weakness lies with areas which are under Israeli security control: "Hamas would not dare launch attacks in areas under our control. The Israelis should reconsider their stance and see why attacks are launched from Area C, which is under (Israel's) complete security control."
Damiri added that the PA warned Israel that those areas have become hotbeds of organized criminal activity, as well as for militants and radicals.
He also confirmed that Palestinian security forces have arrested dozens of suspects since Tuesday's terror attack: "We have no problem arresting anyone who breaks the law, tries of violate it, or harm the PA's political commitments. We arrest members of all organizations who threaten to upset law and order, and our commitments."
General Damiri also said that the Palestinian Authority recognized a joint effort by the "enemies of peace" – on both sides – to disrupt the peace process. "This is Hamas' 'death project,' as opposed to the PA's 'life and peace project.'"
Israel, he continues, must overcome its fear and afford the Palestinian security forces full control of all areas.
"I say to all Israelis – we can do this. We have the ability, the capability and the motivation to introduce law and order across the West Bank. We have proven ourselves, and you have to wonder why the areas we control are run in an exemplary manner, security wise; while Area C and the grey areas have criminal and militant activity, the result of which we have seen in the past few days.
3b)Want Middle East Peace? Deny Iran Nukes
Israeli-Palestinian talks are good, but Tehran's nuclear drive continues.
By SCOTT BROWN
Those of us who hope for peace in the Middle East applaud the meeting of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The fact that Palestinians finally agreed to direct negotiations, without preconditions, is a positive step. But let's not delude ourselves: There can never be peace in the Middle East with a nuclear-armed Iran.
I don't pretend to have all the answers on how to end the conflict between Arabs and Israelis, but I do know that it is doomed so long as Iran remains a menacing actor on the world stage. Now is the time to ratchet up the pressure, to further isolate Iranian President Ahmadinejad, and to impose even more punishing sanctions on the Iranian economy. For this effort to succeed, we must enlist the full support of neighboring Arab states.
I took my first trip to the region last month. I went primarily to listen and learn. I met with both Mr. Netanyahu and Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad.
Upon my return, all the talk of diplomacy was put into grim perspective when Ahmadinejad posed in front of cameras with his country's first unmanned long-range bomber. He wasn't very subtle about the purpose, calling it an "ambassador of death" to Iran's enemies.
That is why, in all my meetings in Israel and Jordan, what weighed most on the minds of security officials and political leaders was the prospect of a nuclear Iran. It is not hard to imagine the terror that would be unleashed if Hezbollah and Hamas—emboldened by the protective watch of their benefactor—stepped up their campaign of hate against Israel. This would, in turn, embolden extremists around the globe.
Iran's actions threaten not only Israel and its immediate neighbors, but ultimately the world. They send a signal to other rogue nations with nuclear ambitions to continue their reckless pursuits. Possible proliferation of nuclear weapons to terrorist groups affiliated with Iran—and the almost guaranteed nuclear arms race that would break out among Iran's Arab neighbors—would embody our greatest fears and present the gravest national security threat to American security.
While I was in the region, I traveled to Sderot, a small Israeli town near the Gaza Strip that has been a favorite target of Hamas rocket attacks since before Israel's unilateral withdrawal of all settlers and troops from Gaza in 2005. Part of my tour included an impromptu viewing of what is best described as a bunker-playground. There, throngs of children of all ages were playing games, swinging and practicing their jump-shot. Like everything in Israel, the scene felt very normal and familiar—that is, until I was reminded that the playground was ensconced in reinforced steel and equipped with a half dozen shelters and a broadcast system that allowed kids a 15-second warning for incoming rockets.
Sderot is the same site where then-presidential candidate Barack Obama visited and proclaimed that the world must prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. (He also said: "If somebody was sending rockets into my house where my two daughters sleep at night, I'm going to do everything in my power to stop that. And I would expect Israelis to do the same thing.")
I couldn't agree more. A nuclear-armed Iran is unacceptable. And now, two years since Mr. Obama's comments, most experts believe Iran is dangerously close to crossing the nuclear threshold.
While we should encourage the Israelis and Palestinians as they return to the negotiating table, let's not lose sight of the real threat to peace in the Middle East: Iran, the leading state sponsor of terror in the world, armed with a nuclear weapon.
Mr. Brown, a Republican, is a U.S. senator from Massachusetts.
4)Liberalism’s Existential Crisis
By Peter Wehner
As the Obama presidency and the Democratic Party continue their journey into the Slough of Despond, it’s interesting to watch Obama’ supporters try to process the unfolding events.
Some blame it on a failure to communicate. E.J. Dionne, Jr., for example, ascribes the Democrats’ problems to the fact that Obama “has chosen not to engage the nation in an extended dialogue about what holds all his achievements together.” Joe Klein offers this explanation: “If Obama is not reelected, it will be because he comes across as disdaining what he does for a living.” And John Judis points to the Obama administration’s “aversion to populism.”
Others are aiming their sound and fury at the American people. According to Maureen Dowd, “Obama is the head of the dysfunctional family of America — a rational man running a most irrational nation, a high-minded man in a low-minded age. The country is having some weird mass nervous breakdown.” Jonathan Alter argues that the American people “aren’t rationally aligning belief and action; they’re tempted to lose their spleens in the polling place without fully grasping the consequences.” And Slate’s Jacob Weisberg has written that “the biggest culprit in our current predicament” is the “childishness, ignorance, and growing incoherence of the public at large.”
For still others, Obama’s failures can be traced to James Madison. George Packer complains that Obama’s failures are in part institutional. He lists a slew of items on the liberal agenda items “the world’s greatest deliberative body is incapable of addressing.” Paul Krugman warns that the Senate is “ominously dysfunctional” and insists that the way it works is “no longer consistent with a functioning government.” For Vanity Fair’s Todd Purdum, “The evidence that Washington cannot function — that it’s ‘broken,’ as Vice President Joe Biden has said — is all around.” The modern presidency “has become a job of such gargantuan size, speed, and complexity as to be all but unrecognizable to most of the previous chief executives.”
Commentators such as the Washington Post’s Ezra Klein place responsibility on “powerful structural forces in American politics that seem to drag down first-term presidents” (though Klein does acknowledge other factors). The New Republic’s Jonathan Chait pins the blame on “structural factors” and “external factors” that have nothing to do with Obama’s policies.
Then there are those who see the pernicious vast right-wing conspiracy at work. Frank Rich alerts us to the fact that the problem lies with “the brothers David and Charles Koch,” the “sugar daddies” who are bankrolling the “white Tea Party America.” Newsweek’s Michael Cohen has written that, “Perhaps the greatest hindrance to good governance today is the Republican Party, which has adopted an agenda of pure nihilism for naked political gain.” And Mr. Krugman offers this analysis: “What we learned from the Clinton years is that a significant number of Americans just don’t consider government by liberals — even very moderate liberals — legitimate. Mr. Obama’s election would have enraged those people even if he were white. Of course, the fact that he isn’t, and has an alien-sounding name, adds to the rage.” Krugman goes on to warn that “powerful forces are promoting and exploiting this rage” — including the “right-wing media.” And if they come to gain power, “It will be an ugly scene, and it will be dangerous, too.”
What most of these commentators are missing, I think, are two essential points. First, the public is turning against Obama and the Democratic Party because the economy is sick and, despite his assurances and projections, the president hasn’t been able to make it well. And in some important respects, especially on fiscal matters, the president and the 111th Congress have made things considerably worse. Second, an increasing number of Americans believe Obama’s policies are unwise, ineffective, and much too liberal. They connect the bad results we are seeing in America to what Obama is doing to America.
But there’s something else, and something deeper, going on here. All of us who embrace a particular religious or philosophical worldview should be prepared to judge them in light of empirical facts and reality. What if our theories seem to be failing in the real world?
The truth is that it’s rather rare to find people willing to reexamine or reinterpret their most deeply held beliefs when the mounting evidence calls those beliefs into question. That is something most of us (myself included) battle with: How to be a person of principled convictions while being intellectually honest enough to acknowledge when certain propositions (and, in some instances, foundational policies) seem to be failing or falling short.
It’s quite possible, of course, that one’s basic convictions can remain true even when events go badly. Self-government is still the best form of government even if it might fail in one nation or another. And sometimes it is simply a matter of weathering storms until certain first principles are reaffirmed. At the same time, sometimes we hold to theories that are simply wrong, that are contrary to human nature and the way the world works, but we simply can’t let go of them. We have too much invested in a particular philosophy.
President Obama’s liberal supporters understand that he is in serious trouble right now; what they are doing is scrambling to find some way to explain his problems without calling into question their underlying political philosophy (modern liberalism). If what is happening cannot be a fundamental failure of liberalism, then it must be something else — from a “communications problem” to “structural factors” to a political conspiracy. And you can bet that if things continue on their present course, ideologues on the left will increasingly argue that Obama’s failures stem from his being (a) not liberal enough or (b) incompetent.
If the Obama presidency is seen as damaging the larger liberal project, they will abandon Obama in order to try to protect liberalism. They would rather do that than face an existential crisis.
4a) Economist Christina Romer serves up dismal news at her farewell luncheon
By Dana Milbank
Lunch at the National Press Club on Wednesday caused some serious indigestion.
It wasn't the food; it was the entertainment. Christina Romer, chairman of President
Obama's Council of Economic Advisers, was giving what was billed as her "valedictory" before she returns to teach at Berkeley, and she used the swan song to establish four points, each more unnerving than the last:
She had no idea how bad the economic collapse would be. She still doesn't understand exactly why it was so bad. The response to the collapse was inadequate. And she doesn't have much of an idea about how to fix things.
What she did have was a binder full of scary descriptions and warnings, offered with a perma-smile and singsong delivery: "Terrible recession. . . . Incredibly searing. . . . Dramatically below trend. . . . Suffering terribly. . . . Risk of making high unemployment permanent. . . . Economic nightmare."
Anybody want dessert?
At week's end, Romer will leave the council chairmanship after what surely has been the most dismal tenure anybody in that post has had: a loss of nearly 4 million jobs in a year and a half. That's not Romer's fault; the financial collapse occurred before she, and Obama, took office. But she was the president's top economist during a time when the administration consistently underestimated the depth of the economy's troubles - miscalculations that have caused Americans to lose faith in the president and the Democrats.
Romer had predicted that Obama's stimulus package would keep the unemployment rate at 8 percent or less; it is now 9.5 percent. One of her bosses, Vice President Biden, told Democrats in January that "you're going to see, come the spring, net increase in jobs every month." The economy lost 350,000 jobs in June and July.
This is why nearly two-thirds of Americans think the country is on the wrong track - and why Obama's efforts to highlight the end of U.S. combat in Iraq and the resumption of Middle East peace talks have little chance of piercing the gloom as voters consider handing control of Congress back to the Republicans.
Romer's farewell luncheon had been scheduled for the club's ballroom, but attendance was light and the event was moved to a smaller room. Romer, wearing a green suit, read brightly from her text - a delivery at odds with the dark material she was presenting. When she and her colleagues began work, she acknowledged, they did not realize "how quickly and strongly the financial crisis would affect the economy." They "failed to anticipate just how violent the recession would be."
Even now, Romer said, mystery persists. "To this day, economists don't fully understand why firms cut production as much as they did or why they cut labor so much more than they normally would." Her defense was that "almost all analysts were surprised by the violent reaction."
That miscalculation, in turn, led to her miscalculation that the stimulus package would be enough to keep the unemployment rate from exceeding 8 percent. Without the policy, she had predicted, unemployment would soar to 9.5 percent. The plan passed, and unemployment went to 10 percent.
No wonder most Americans think the effort failed. But Romer argued, a bit too defensively, against the majority perception. "As the Council of Economic Advisers has documented in a series of reports to Congress, there is widespread agreement that the act is broadly on track," she declared. Further, she argued, "I will never regret trying to put analysis and quantitative estimates behind our policy recommendations."
But the problem is not that Romer did a quantitative analysis; the problem is that the quantitative analysis was wrong. Inevitably, this meant that, as she acknowledged, "the turnaround has been insufficient."
And what to do about this? Here, Romer became uncharacteristically hesitant to make predictions. She suggested some "innovative, low-cost policies." But the examples she cited - a "national export initiative," new trade agreements and a "pragmatic approach to regulation" - aren't exactly blockbusters.
"The only sure-fire ways for policymakers to substantially increase aggregate demand in the short run are for the government to spend more and tax less," she said. But asked about the main Republican proposal, extending George W. Bush's tax cuts for those earning more than $250,000, Romer replied that doing so would be "fiscally irresponsible."
The truth is that the Obama administration is pretty much out of options. Any major new effort would be blocked by Republicans, who have few alternatives of their own. "What we would all love to find - the inexpensive magic bullet to our economic troubles - the truth is it almost surely doesn't exist," Romer admitted.
The valedictory was becoming more of an elegy. At the end of the depressing forum, the moderator read a question submitted by a member of the audience: "You seem like you'd be a lot of fun at parties. Are you?"
The economist blushed. "You'll have to just take it for granted," she said.
Like 8 percent unemployment.
5)Wonderful English from Around the World
In a Bangkok temple:
IT IS FORBIDDEN TO ENTER A WOMAN, EVEN A FOREIGNER, IF DRESSED AS A MAN.
Cocktail lounge , Norway :
LADIES ARE REQUESTED NOT TO HAVE CHILDREN IN THE BAR.
Doctors office, Rome :
SPECIALIST IN WOMEN AND OTHER DISEASES.
Dry cleaners, Bangkok :
DROP YOUR TROUSERS HERE FOR THE BEST RESULTS.
In a Nairobi restaurant:
CUSTOMERS WHO FIND OUR WAITRESSES RUDE OUGHT TO SEE THE MANAGER.
On the main road to Mombassa, leaving Nairobi :
TAKE NOTICE: WHEN THIS SIGN IS UNDER WATER, THIS ROAD IS IMPASSABLE.
On a poster at Kencom:
ARE YOU AN ADULT THAT CANNOT READ? IF SO WE CAN HELP.
In a City restaurant:
OPEN SEVEN DAYS A WEEK AND WEEKENDS.
In a cemetery:
PERSONS ARE PROHIBITED FROM PICKING FLOWERS FROM ANY BUT THEIR OWN GRAVES.
Tokyo hotel's rules and regulations:
GUESTS ARE REQUESTED NOT TO SMOKE OR DO OTHER DISGUSTING BEHAVIOURS IN BED.
On the menu of a Swiss restaurant:
OUR WINES LEAVE YOU NOTHING TO HOPE FOR.
In a Tokyo bar:
SPECIAL COCKTAILS FOR THE LADIES WITH NUTS.
Hotel, Yugoslavia :
THE FLATTENING OF UNDERWEAR WITH PLEASURE IS THE JOB OF THE CHAMBERMAID..
Hotel, Japan :
YOU ARE INVITED TO TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THE CHAMBERMAID.
In the lobby of a Moscow hotel across from a Russian Orthodox monastery:
YOU ARE WELCOME TO VISIT THE CEMETERY WHERE FAMOUS RUSSIAN AND SOVIET COMPOSERS, ARTISTS AND WRITERS ARE BURIED DAILY EXCEPT THURSDAY.
A sign posted in Germany 's Black Forest :
IT IS STRICTLY FORBIDDEN ON OUR BLACK FOREST CAMPING SITE THAT PEOPLE OF DIFFERENT SEX, FOR INSTANCE, MEN AND WOMEN, LIVE TOGETHER IN ONE TENT UNLESS THEY ARE MARRIED WITH EACH OTHER FOR THIS PURPOSE..
Hotel, Zurich :
BECAUSE OF THE IMPROPRIETY OF ENTERTAINING GUESTS OF THE OPPOSITE SEX IN THE BEDROOM, IT IS SUGGESTED THAT THE LOBBY BE USED FOR THIS PURPOSE.
Advertisement for donkey rides, Thailand :
WOULD YOU LIKE TO RIDE ON YOUR OWN ASS?
Airline ticket office, Copenhagen :
WE TAKE YOUR BAGS AND SEND THEM IN ALL DIRECTIONS.
A laundry in Rome :
LADIES, LEAVE YOUR CLOTHES HERE AND SPEND THE AFTERNOON HAVING A GOOD TIME.
6) GOP Quandary: Is It Better Off if the House Stays Blue?
By Kyle Stone
Last week, the venerable Cook Political Report increased its estimate of likely GOP gains in the House; now, with 39 Democrat-held seats required to paint the House red, the Cook Report projected a likely turnover between 35 and 45 seats. This week, Gallup polling piled on, finding that Republicans have a double-digit advantage in its generic ballot test. Nevertheless, with the prospect of a GOP takeover in the House, many Republicans are quietly asking, is this necessarily a good thing?
The question is not new. For months, a quiet undercurrent of concern has emerged, from whispers in the GOP cocktail party scene to intermittent ruminations from national writers. In June, former White House press secretary Ari Fleischer admitted that while he hoped Republicans make significant gains, "I want them to fall one vote short of taking the House." Fleischer explained his apparent political blasphemy by suggesting that the GOP House leadership had yet to earn its stripes: "I want to see more evidence that Republicans are ready to govern," he clarified, and "I want to see more substance, particularly on what spending they will cut."
Substance aside, a GOP House takeover is not without obvious political risks for 2012. President Obama would no longer have Speaker Pelosi, easily the least popular Democratic figure on the national scene, weighing him down. GOP House leadership would be exposed and susceptible to liberal caricature. Stripped of any legislative power, no current officials are vulnerable as lightning rods for Democratic vitriol. (The old standbys, President Bush and Sarah Palin, seem only to accentuate liberal desperation and political impotence.) Without the presidency or congressional leadership posts, Republicans have inadvertently earned this advantage.
But recent history offers a lesson in this respect: Bill Clinton found his political traction only after the 1994 Republican Revolution elevated Newt Gingrich to the speakership. Might the same be true in potential Speaker John Boehner? While the popular Ohio congressman enjoys respect and goodwill within GOP ranks, many party supporters may be afraid to find out. The over-tanned, drab Ohio congressman may be a fine representative, but he's hardly the face the GOP wishes to project as its post-W image.
With the Senate (likely) still in Democratic hands and the White House flexing its veto-power muscle, House Republicans will struggle pushing forth any aspect of their agenda. Repealing ObamaCare, securing our borders, and renewing the Bush tax cuts will each assuredly require a Republican in the White House. While a slim Republican majority might slow down implementation of ObamaCare and finally offer a pedestal on which to champion fiscal sanity, this still assumes that such a majority would not hinder 2012 Republican presidential prospects.
A Republican majority would arm Democrats with valuable political ammunition in the run-up to the 2012 elections. Democrats and their cheerleaders in the media may finally achieve success with its "Party of No" mantra. For months, this DNC talking point has failed because Americans understand that Democrats control all the levers of the federal government by wide margins. But with a slim GOP majority in the House -- and checks and balances thought to be restored -- Democrats will have found circumstances more fitting for their political sniping.
On the other hand, a slim Democratic majority in the House would handcuff Pelosi from passing any significant and divisive legislation (notably any sweeping energy or immigration bills). Worried Democrats, particularly those barely surviving their 2010 reelection, would just as likely lean right on economic issues -- allowing Republicans a practical majority, without the actual numbers. However difficult it is to root for inaction during such perilous times, Republicans may prefer to keep their political foes fully responsible for the Obama malaise.
Significant GOP midterm gains in November, arrested by a razor-thin Democratic majority in the House, would set the proverbial table nicely for the GOP's main course in 2012. Not only would it weaken the Democrats and President Obama, but it would allow the GOP its place as spectator while the president and his party continue to alienate themselves from an American public starving for better leadership.
With momentum swinging the GOP's way, the elephant class will naturally be disappointed if its success in November falls short of a House takeover. No matter; the tempered gains may be a political blessing in disguise. A House takeover, while a triumph after the transcendent election of Barack Obama, might create additional electoral impediments in 2012. Only at that time can a Republican resurgence more practically effect change.
Kyle Stone is a practicing attorney in Chicago, IL and serves as Membership Director for the Chicago Young Republicans.
6a)How Do You Stop an Elephant Charging? Democrats are running out of time to find an answer.
By PEGGY NOONAN.
Eight weeks out and you don't have to be a political professional to feel what's in the air: The Republicans have a big win coming.
The question in the House races is: Will they get to 218? Will Republicans pick up the 39 seats they need to win control of the 435-member chamber?
Another way of asking: Is this 1994 again?
That year the Republicans swept the House races, picking up 52 seats and getting, for the first time in 40 years, a Republican majority and a Republican speaker, Newt Gingrich. Even then-Speaker Tom Foley (D., Wash.), lost his seat that year. (Speaker Nancy Pelosi is famously in no danger—she won her seat with 72 % of the vote in 2008—but it probably means something that she appears to have gone missing from the national scene. CBS, in March, had her at 11% approval among registered voters.)
A Gallup survey of registered voters this week had Republicans beating Democrats in a generic ballot by 10 points, 51% to 41%. In the 68-year history of that poll, the GOP had never led by more than five points. RealClearPolitics has Republicans ahead in 206 races and Democrats ahead in 194, with 35 too close to call. The Cook Political Report puts 68 Democratic House seats "at substantial risk," while judging less than a dozen GOP seats to be in real trouble. White House spokesman Robert Gibbs made news a few weeks ago by conceding the obvious: that the Republicans could take the House. Top Democrats have told the same to Politico.
The news is so good it's prompting mutterings on the right: The liberal media are trumpeting the inevitable GOP triumph to make the base complacent and the party peak early. Anything but a Democratic debacle will be spun as proof that Obama's support, while soft, endures. "The Republicans had a typical off-year chance to win back power and failed. The reason? Voters just don't trust them."
The Democrats are not without resources. The first is money, and the second is troops. The Wall Street Journal's Neil King Jr. notes that in many of the closest races this year the Democrats have more cash on hand, and in 20 of those races "the Democrat has at least a four-to-one cash advantage over the Republican candidate." The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee says it has nearly $17 million more to spend on key House races than its GOP counterpart. Then there are the unions: "The AFL-CIO says it will spend more than $40 million to back candidates and mobilize residents of union-member households to vote in November, overwhelmingly in support of Democrats."
What's going to happen? I put the question to one of the architects of the 1994 Republican win, the conservative activist Grover Norquist, a contributor to the Contract with America, member of the Gingrich kitchen cabinet, and founder, 25 years ago, of Americans for Tax Reform. In conversations over those years, I've found him to be among the most insightful political observers in Washington.
So, is this 1994 again?
"It could be, and it looks like it," he said. He noted that Republicans in 1994 were not polling this well and this strongly this early.
There are parallels, he said, between '94 and '10. One is determination. The Republican Party establishment sets its mind specifically to winning back the House in '94—"before that, it had seemed impossible"—and is doing so again. Both 1994 and 2010 were preceded by striking off-year GOP victories in New Jersey and Virginia, which signaled a coming Republican wave. In 1994 the Republican theme "was not just 'Vote against Clintonism,' it was 'Vote for the Contract with America.'" The Republicans are putting together a 2010 contract and plan to unveil it in late September, as they did in '94. The first contract, says Mr. Norquist, was "not a campaign tool but a governing tool." He remembered data that said before the '94 election, less than 20% of voters had heard of it. But after the election the media made the contract famous. "It was a great gift to the Republicans," he said, because it forced them into a semblance of unity by making them focus on a specific agenda.
But there are differences between 1994 and 2010. For one, this time around "the Democrats can see what's coming." They didn't see the Republican wave rising in 1994 until it was too late. "When you see something coming a mile away, you can build a ditch to keep it away." Democrats, he says, have put aside a lot of money for negative ads in the last days of the campaign. "For a year, Democratic strategists said 'We'll pass health care, they'll love us.' 'Recovery summer, they'll love us.' 'We'll run against Wall Street, they'll love us.'" These "narratives" failed. "The one thing they have left is: 'We will put together a lot of cash and run a lot of negatives ads showing why it's not policy that counts, it's that the Republican candidate had a DUI 10 years ago.'"
Another difference between '94 and '10: "There wasn't a Tea Party movement in '94." There was a Perot movement, which was "much less visible and organized." Ross Perot backed the Republican House effort in 1994. "This time we have a thousand mini-Perots"—Tea Party leaders—"who are against the Democrats and for the Republicans." Their rallies, Mr. Norquist says, are gaining strength.
Republicans, he argues, must determine to stay focused, and not become distracted by issues that are not central to the campaign. "There's the danger of getting sidetracked by shiny things," he says, citing Arizona's immigration law, or "the mosque in Manhattan." These issues do not win new votes, "they only please voters you already have." Mr. Norquist says: "Harry Reid is stapled at the forehead and the hip to Obama, and it's hurting him. But Gingrich says the most important issue of the day is the mosque, and Reid gets new life out of it: 'I strongly differ with the president's statement on the mosque!' It gives Democrats the chance to say, 'I'm not like Obama!'"
Another distraction: "All the time and effort turned into rehabilitating George W. Bush. His former aides are out there arguing about who should get credit for the surge. What? . . . For those who believe Bush was doing something useful and central to jam it into the middle of this election—we lost the past two elections because independents didn't like Bush!" The rehabilitation effort loses potential votes, wins no new ones, and distracts from central themes. Mr. Norquist offers a prediction: "Watch CBS try to get Bush family and friends to do interviews to insert Bush back into the campaign the weekend before the election."
What should Republicans focus on? "Spending per se is a palpable issue. The central question is not only taxes or the deficit, it's spending, and you can see this in polls. . . . There is not a Democrat who can say, 'I was not part of the spending explosion that threatens you and your country.' It's the one thing they can't defend themselves against. They don't want to stop spending."
What about high spending by Republicans in the House, in the Senate, and in the White House? That's true, he says, but big spenders have been getting "pre-purged" in the primaries. Alaska's Sen. Lisa Murkowski "said she's bringing home the pork. Well, she lost."
Mr. Norquist sums the matter up: "The big issue, and people know this, is the explosion of federal spending that is damaging our economy and threatening our future."
6b)Democratic Salvage Plan
How Nancy Pelosi might save her majority
With the economy struggling and the polls turning sharply against them, Democrats are at sea about how to prevent an electoral rout in November. Reports yesterday said the White House may be panicked enough to contemplate new tax cuts. Allow us to suggest a salvage plan that would help the economy and perhaps also save the Democratic majorities on Capitol Hill: Return after Labor Day, extend all of the 2001 and 2003 tax rates at least through 2013, and then go home.
This is not Speaker Nancy Pelosi's current plan, to say the least. Her idea is to return to Washington in 10 days and start a debate over raising taxes only weeks before Election Day. Democrats are betting they can vote to extend the lower tax rates set to expire in January for those making less than $200,000 a year, while cornering Republicans to defend lower rates for "the rich." Voters are supposed to applaud this exercise in class warfare amid a weak recovery and 9.5% unemployment.
This is the kamikaze strategy for political revival. You go down in ideological glory but still lose the war. Republicans are delighted to have a tax debate this fall, and well they should. They know the debate will only reinforce the Democrats' reputation as tax and spenders, and at a time when the economic recovery is fragile. The overall health of the economy is sure to trump class envy as a political argument.
Democrats will claim that the tax increase will hit only 3% of small businesses, but the GOP will respond, accurately, that it will hit 50% of all small business income because 85% of small business owners are taxed on profits at individual tax rates. Voters are smart enough to know who creates new jobs in America, and it isn't people or businesses who don't make a profit. Americans have also relearned the hard way over the last 18 months that the government doesn't create net new employment.
On economic grounds alone, making the lower rates permanent would do the most good. Temporary tax cuts always provide less bang for the buck because people assume no change in their real income over time and thus have no real incentive to change their plans to work or invest. This is why the Bush and Obama "tax rebates" of 2008 and 2009 were such economic failures. Their temporary boost to GDP from consumption quickly vanished once the rebate checks stopped coming. By contrast, permanent cuts in marginal tax rates change incentives and boost long-term growth.
We realize we are advising Democrats here, and so a permanent extension may be a tax bridge too far. But even a two-year extension would be better than letting taxes go up. The struggling recovery would avoid a huge near-term hit to individual and business income, which means more money for private investment and job creation.
As for the politics, this isn't a close call. By extending the tax rates, Democrats can help the economy while denying Republicans one of their best issues. Voters still wary of the GOP might also give Democrats credit for finally listening to them and changing their minds. The left would squawk, but the left will lose more if Democrats lose the House or Senate.
The only reason to oppose our Democratic self-rescue plan is the grip of ideology. We recall the Democratic Presidential debate when ABC's Charlie Gibson famously asked candidate Barack Obama why he favored higher capital gains tax rates when the evidence is that lower rates produce more tax revenue. After some back and forth, Mr. Obama's one word reply came down to "fairness." If you really believe the main job of government is to redistribute income and punish the rich for making too much money, then you don't mind raising taxes even if it costs you control of Congress.
We don't think most Democrats favor that trade, and the evidence on that score is growing every day. In the Senate, Evan Bayh, Kent Conrad and Ben Nelson have already called for extending the Bush tax rates, and the roll call in the House is into double digits. Economist Mark Zandi, an architect of the stimulus, has called for an extension of the lower rates on Keynesian grounds, and even White House chief economist Christina Romer said this week in her farewell speech that the only way to boost "demand" was to increase spending or cut taxes. The former has already failed, so how about avoiding a tax increase?
All it takes is a word from President Obama or Speaker Pelosi, and these Democratic defections will become a joyous stampede. For the alternative, how do the words "Speaker Boehner" sound?
7) Iran's revenge: Syria and Hizballah join to sink Israeli warships
Tehran, its extremist and terrorist allies, having failed to abort Barack Obama's initiative for direct Israel-Palestinian diplomacy, have hit back with two belligerent steps. Military sources disclose Syria and the Lebanese Hizballah have set up a joint military command for sinking Israeli warships, and Hamas has brought all 13 Palestinian rejectionist organizations under one roof for a sustained bid to intensify terror operations against Israel.
At a news conference in Gaza early Friday, Sept. 3 - shortly after the Washington talks were rated positive - a Hamas military arm spokesman announced the creation of a single command encompassing all 13 Palestinian rejectionist groups operating out of the Gaza Strip and Damascus for a concerted campaign of terror against Israel.
In answer to a question, Abu Obeida said the new policy of expanded attacks may well rain missiles on Tel Aviv. "From now on, everything is open," the Hamas spokesman said.
At that moment, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu was on a flight home from Washington, surrounded by an intense PR effort to present him as emerging from his first conversation with Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas as a super-peacemaker. The Americans, the Palestinians and his own aides were well aware that the ceremonial inauguration of the talks had yielded very little after their goals were sharply pared down. No accord but only a document of general principles is now expected to come out of the continuation of the dialogue - once every two weeks in the coming year. This, too, would oblige Israel to withdraw from large sections of the West Bank. Further steps were relegated to the distant future.
In the meantime, Syria, Hizballah and the Palestinian terrorist community are using the very act of diplomacy as the impetus for a violent response.
Whereas the prime minister's rhetoric in Washington laid heavy emphasis on the negotiations measuring up to Israel's security needs, in practice, he refrained from ordering an Israeli reprisal against the Hamas command centers which ordered two attacks on West Bank roads, although four Israeli civilians paid with their lives and two more were injured.
Syria, Hizballah and the Palestinian terrorist commands operating out of Damascus, Gaza, Beirut and Sidon to took this restraint as a starting signal for reviving concerted attacks on Israel.
Syrian President Bashar Assad and Hizballah leader Hassan Nasrallah decided to expand the secret military cooperation pact they recently concluded - to which no Israeli political or military leader has so far responded - to the Mediterranean Sea, where their operational and intelligence assets will together seek out and try and sink Israeli missile ships and submarines.
To this end, they have earmarked marine units and their Iranian- and Russian-made shore-to-ship missile force - the largest of its kind in the world - as well as Syrian assault helicopters flown by crews trained to strike seaborne targets. The Hizballah marine unit was trained and equipped by Iranian Revolutionary Guards marine instructors.
The Mediterranean coastal strip from Syrian Latakia in the north, running through the Lebanese ports of Tripoli, Sidon and Tyre and down south to the Gaza Strip, have been declared a joint sea front dedicated to attacking Israeli targets.
High-ranking Israeli military sources stated Thursday night while it was hard to imagine Syrian or Hizballah managing to hit Israeli submarines, they are quite capable of fomenting violence on the sea and attacking Israeli naval craft and bases. Their joint command means they are sharing intelligence on Israeli naval activity and monitoring the movements of vessels while still in Israeli territorial waters and before they take up stations opposite the Lebanese or Syrian coasts.
Our military sources add that, from the strategic viewpoint, the Washington dialogue and the disproportionate hype surrounding it were counter-productive in that it led to the resumption of Hamas terrorist activities on the West Bank and strengthened the military partnership between Syria and Hizballah for aggression against Israel. Netanyahu's single-minded focus on diplomacy at the expense of neglecting rising threats and blocking military activity allowed these perils to develop and abound.
His restraint did not help Mahmoud Abbas' failing fortunes at home. His standing took a bad knock from the way Hamas managed to pull off two terrorist operations on the West Bank. In a desperate bid to show they were in control, Palestinian security sources reported Thursday night that two suspects were in custody for Monday's drive-by shooting near Hebron and they had leads to the perpetrators.
Counter-terror sources disclose the two "suspects" are the used car salesmen who sold the vehicle the Hamas gunmen used in their attack. They had no clues to offer about the identities or whereabouts of the purchasers who have disappeared without a trace.
Netanyahu is scheduled to continue his talks with Abbas in Sharm el-Sheikh on Sept. 14-15 - and again at fortnightly intervals during the coming year under Washington's watchful eye. It is hard to see how they can keep going in a climate of rising military tensions and expanding terrorist outbreaks.
8)Explosion at apparent Hezbollah arms depot causes fire in south Lebanon village
Lebanese security officials say that explosion in southern village of Shehabiyeh may have been caused by a short circuit that set off secret Hezbollah munitions.
By Avi Issacharoff
Explosions ripped through a building on Friday in southern Lebanon that might have been used to store weapons by the militant group Hezbollah, Lebanese security officials said.
It was not clear whether there were any casualties from the blasts, which set off a large fire, the officials said. Rescue crews responded to the scene.
The three-story building is in the Hezbollah-dominated village of Shehabiyeh, near Tyre, part of a volatile border zone south of the Litani River in which Hezbollah has been banned from having weapons under a United Nations resolution that ended the 2006 war between the militant group and Israel.
The area is patrolled by UN troops and Lebanese soldiers and has been largely peaceful since the war, but there have been a number of mysterious explosions in the past year at buildings suspected of housing Hezbollah arms caches.
It was not clear what caused Friday's blasts, but one of the officials said it might have been triggered by an electrical short circuit setting off secret Hezbollah munitions.
The two officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they are barred by military regulations from speaking to journalists.
In July 2009, an explosion at a Hezbollah arms depot near Tyre killed a number of people and brought attention to Hezbollah's stockpiling of weapons in south Lebanon.
UN Resolution 1701 prohibits Hezbollah from engaging in military activities in south Lebanon and forbids weapon smuggling to the group.
Two months ago, the Israel Defense Forces published evidence of alleged Hezbollah military activity in south Lebanon.
9)Tony Blair on the Panic
Britain's former prime minister understands better than most the origins of the financial crisis.
Tony Blair's memoir, out this week, has so far received attention mostly for the former Prime Minister's judgments about George W. Bush (remarkably admiring) and Gordon Brown (decidedly mixed). But Mr. Blair's clear-sighted views on the financial crisis are arguably more instructive.
In the last chapter of "A Journey," Mr. Blair writes, "First, 'the market' did not fail. One part of one sector did." Then he adds: "[G]overnment also failed. Regulations failed. Politicians failed. Monetary policy failed. Debt became way too cheap. But that wasn't a conspiracy of the banks; it was a consequence of the apparently benign confluence of loose money policy and low inflation."
Mr. Blair also rightly puts his finger on the bigger picture, saying "the failure was one of understanding. We didn't spot it. You can argue we should have, but we didn't. Furthermore—and this is vital for where we go now on regulation—it wasn't that we were powerless to prevent it even if we had seen it coming; it wasn't a failure of regulation in the sense that we lacked the power to intervene. Had regulators said to the leaders that a huge crisis was about to break we wouldn't have said: There's nothing we can do about it until we get more regulation through. We would have acted."
This truth hasn't stopped the global rush to throw more power at the regulators who failed to anticipate the panic or diagnose the bubble.
On stimulus, Keynesianism and re-regulation, Mr. Blair is also astute: "Ultimately the recovery will be led not by governments but by industry, business, and the creativity, ingenuity and enterprise of people. If the measures you take in responding to the crisis diminish their incentives, curb their entrepreneurship, make them feel unsure about the climate in which they are working, the recovery becomes uncertain."
One can question whether Mr. Blair's record in office always reflected this sort of clarity. His "New Labour" politics steadily increased the size of government and the regulatory state for most of its time in power. But since leaving government, Mr. Blair has offered a more compelling diagnosis of our recent—and continuing—problems than most of our current leaders.