I had second thoughts about sending a memo under the circumstances but reading writing and staying current is good therapy for me.
Some family are here and more to come tomorrow and my wife is a very strong person as is her mother. They come from solid stock. My wife is a class act.
I am the weepy puppy.
Friends have been extraordinary with their care and concern.
So life goes on until it stops.
General comments from a very dear and astute friend: "Yes, yes, you are right. The decline part is already baked in the cake, and I feel a sick resignation to the fact that Adam and his kids will live to see a day when China will occupy the hegemonic position the US has owned exclusively in my lifetime. Mine is a prodigal generation of Americans, and that is the root cause of a decline which no government can repair. Still, the time is now for reigning in the government's unfunded liabilities that, as you have said, make Enron and WorldCom look like child's play. As Elvis said, it's now or never. And after some very hard work distilling government down to size in 2011 and 2012 (and very likely another financial crisis), here's hoping for President Christie in 2012! "
Avner Cohen believes Israel should be more forthcoming about its own nuclear program. (See 1 below.)
Meanwhile 100,000 Jihadists call for Israel's destruction and yesterday, bombs were sent from Yemen to blow up Chicago Synagogues. One where daughter number three and her family belong
No we do not have a Muslim problem. It is those pesky Baptists living in Yemen that are the problem. (See 1a below.)
Dunn suggests Soros and the Liberals are soon to be done. (See 2 below.)
Jack Cashill does not buy Harvard Historian Kloppenberg's thesis in his forthcoming biography: "Reading Obama: Dreams, Hopes, and the American Political Tradition" that Obama is a true intellectual. Cashill. in fact, dismisses Kloppenberg's forthcoming biography as the blathering nonsense it promises to be. (See 3 below.)
Meanwhile Taranto also discusses Kloppenberg's biography and is not overwhelmed. (See 3a below.)
Stuart Schwartz can't wait for Tuesday so those in the back of the bus can pay their respects and give Obama his due. Maybe they will go out and celebrate with a Slurpee. How pathetic Obama is in trying to be clever and cool. (See 4 below.)
Caroline Glick discusses Israel's post election strategy and the tack Netanyahu should take - Caroline; ever the hawkish realist but will her views sell in a world of pygmies? (See 5 below.)
Then Frank Gaffney's view. (See 5a below.)
Sowell classifies the election as a crossroads. (See 6 below)
Obama always needs a punching bag so will his new enemy be John Boehner? (See 7 below.)
Why I have dubbed it 'Obamascare.' (See 7a below.)
And Israeli ingenuity. (See 7b below.)
Finally, some humorous but wise sayings. (See 8 below.)
1) Clear and present danger
In his new book, Dr. Avner Cohen, an expert on Israel's nuclear policy, sheds more light on the vaguest project in the country's history.
By Noam Sheizaf
WASHINGTON, D.C. - "Ambiguity," the key word used in describing Israel's relationship vis-a-vis nuclear weapons, existed from the start. "There was a secret even before there was anything to hide," states Avner Cohen, an Israeli-born philosopher and historical researcher who is an expert in Israel's nuclear policy, in his new book.
Dr. Avner Cohen: "In my opinion, I haven't written anything that damages Israel; perhaps some things will help it."
"During the early 1950s, and even before then, there were those in Israel who dreamed about a nuclear project, but in reality there was almost nothing," explains Dr. Cohen in an interview with Haaretz, from his Washington, D.C. home. "Some students were sent overseas to study nuclear physics, and a group started to look for uranium in the Negev. There was none. Nonetheless, this small group, which merely had a vision, already maintained a cult of secrecy.
"In those years, there was not yet an international regime against nuclear proliferation - this was a decade before the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. But even then, when theoretically anything was allowed, there was a sense of taboo. That the subject could not be discussed. [David] Ben-Gurion and [Shimon] Peres understood that in this sphere you don't really want to state your objectives precisely. The sense was that designating goals would, in itself, stir an argument, and that it was better to avoid such debates, both internal and external. The idea was that it was crucial not to raise these questions."
For Cohen, ambiguity in this realm is not merely a theoretical subject, it is the central issue which has fashioned his life. After an academic article he authored was disqualified by military censors in the 1990s, he left Israel. After publishing a book called "Israel and the Bomb" (Columbia University Press, 1999 ), an investigation was launched against him and he was barred from returning to Israel for several years. Cohen even played a certain role in the Yitzhak Yaakov affair - the case in which Yaakov, a retired IDF brigadier general, was indicted and detained for more than a year for harming national security by writing two books on Israel's weapons development program.
Cohen's newest work, "The Worst-Kept Secret: Israel's Bargain with the Bomb" (Columbia University Press, 2010 ), is dedicated to two figures who represent two different poles in Israel's culture of nuclear secrecy: Yaakov, who tried to share "prohibited" memories with the world and paid for it with a long detention, and Shalheveth Freier, a top official in the Israel Atomic Energy Commission (IAEC ), and one of the people who created the secret with their own hands.
In his new book, Cohen calls on Israel and Israelis to discuss anew the policy of ambiguity and its implications. In his view, for the past several years, the costs of such a policy have outweighed its utility. He does not believe that Israel should disarm, but rather that it should, in clear, simple terms, acknowledge these weapons and talk about them. That is precisely what he is trying to do in his research, and in this present article. Cohen is currently conducting research in the U.S. (right now he is a senior fellow at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies at the Monterey Institute of International Studies ); his book (unlike this article ) was not submitted to the Israeli censor.
"I have never tried to reach classified documents by twisted means," he says, conscious of accusations leveled against him. "I read materials that are kept in archives around the world or are in memoirs. In particular, I carried out a large number of interviews and conversations with people. In my opinion, I have not written anything that harms the State of Israel; perhaps some things will help it. Nonetheless, I found myself, at least for a certain period of my life, kept away from my country, ostracized and even threatened. The whole world already knows what needs to be known. The whole world relates to these things as fact. And yet here we are, conducting this discussion outside of Israel."
Who gave the order?
Since the culture of secrecy enveloped the nuclear project from day one, even senior politicians and professionals who dealt with it did not always have a clear picture of its purposes. Cohen mentions that throughout the 1960s, Israel's security establishment was divided about the project's future. One camp wanted to turn Israel into a nuclear state. On the other hand, some ministers wanted Israel to have "threshold" capacity - to be a state with the capability to assemble a nuclear bomb, but that would not conduct tests or officially possess a nuclear weapon per se.
During this critical phase, Levi Eshkol was prime minister and, as was his wont, he equivocated. To a large extent, Cohen claims, the project moved ahead thanks to its own inertia. Even then, discussion of the subject was conducted in code words, half-sentences and hints.
"At all government and semi-governmental forums, ministers from the Achdut Ha'avoda party, Yigal Allon and Israel Galili, argued that Israel should maintain its 'technological edge' in the nuclear sphere, but that we should be careful not to be the ones responsible for bringing nuclear arms to the region," Cohen explains. "They had the concern that if we were to turn into a nuclear state, as Peres and then, later on, [Moshe] Dayan wanted, the Middle East would inevitably go nuclear. Should Israel gain nuclear capability, then it would be impossible to stop the other side from attaining its own nuclear weapon, sooner or later; that would create an arms race. And that was their nightmare."
Horev. 'Hounded' Cohen personally.
Cohen continues: "It's interesting to look at how far-ranging this thinking was, because it has remained our nightmare to the present day. Were we to believe in mutual nuclear deterrence, we would be able to see that a nuclear Iran is something that can be lived with. But we are aware of an asymmetry, whose gist is: We are a smaller and more vulnerable country, and so even if everyone understands that we are the most advanced and strongest nuclear state [in the region] - a nuclearized Middle East is not in our interest."
From 1963 onward, Ben-Gurion and Peres directed the project under a thick cloud of secrecy, Cohen says. Even senior figures involved in it did not know whether Israel was in fact determined to attain nuclear weapons, or whether it wanted to simply move closer to that watershed. Cohen's book includes a historic anecdote that shows how even at crucial phases in the project's development, Israel's decision-makers refrained from specifying, even in their own internal discussions, its genuine objectives.
At one point in 1964-1965, the project director at Rafael Advanced Defense Systems, Prof. Avraham Hermoni, became so troubled about the lack of directives that he decided, in Cohen's words, "to force clarity upon his political bosses in Tel Aviv."
"Hermoni," Cohen writes, "wrote a memo to Peres [then deputy defense minister and the project's director], in which he detailed three technological options, each of them describing a a particular technical product that the project could work toward. Even though he refused, in my interviews with him, to be too specific as to what these options were, he left me with the understanding that they ranged from a crude nuclear explosive device to a fully deliverable weapons system (a bomb ). His question to Peres was how far should Israel go with its nuclear option? What should the developers ultimately aim for? The memorandum stated that in the absence of explicit guidance, Rafael would follow a specific course of action."
Cohen continues: "Hermoni anticipated that he might not receive a formal written reply from Peres, so one purpose of the memo was to put in writing Rafael's position (i.e., his position) on the matter. Yet he did not anticipate a specific request to regard the memo as if it had never been written. Not only did Peres himself ignore the request for guidance, but the memo also was returned to Hermoni unsigned, via Hermoni's boss, Rafael director, Munya Mardor, with an oral demand to treat the memo as if it had never been sent."
In the days of high anxiety prior to the 1967 Six-Day War, researchers around the world have claimed that Israel passed the nuclear threshold.
"At a time when Israel was preparing temporary burial sites for thousands of soldiers, it was unthinkable that the leaders of the nuclear project would sit idle," writes Cohen in his book.
"Prime Minister Eshkol was not in a position to stop them, and he must have authorized special emergency activity. In the few days before the war, Israel did something it had never done before. In an intensive crash effort, Israeli teams improvised the assembly of the nation's first nuclear explosive devices. As Israeli scientists and technicians were 'tickling the dragon's tail,' meaning assembling the first nuclear cores for those devices, only a few of them were even aware that there was a military contingency plan in the works. As Israeli leaders contemplated the worst scenarios - in particular, the failure of the Israeli air force to destroy the Arab air forces, and/or the extensive use by Egypt of chemical weapons against Israeli cities - authority was given for preliminary contingency planning for 'demonstrating' Israel's nuclear capability.
"The idea was to create the technical possibility of demonstrating Israel's nuclear capability over some remote desert area as a political signal, not to actually use the devices militarily. Israel wanted to be in a position to send a signal to Egypt and to the superpowers that if all else failed and Israel's existence was in peril, Israel would have a doomsday capability to inflict great harm on Egypt. The final step in the assembly process, arming the devices, was never taken ... These were the most dramatic moments for those involved, especially the project's leaders. It was seen as the moment when Israel actually became a nuclear power. From their perspective, it was also an irreversible moment."
Freier. Helped 'create' the secret.
Israel's speedy victory in the war of 1967 canceled out any need to demonstrate its capabilities, and the proposal of one of the persons involved in the project (and who personally told Cohen about it ) - in favor of taking advantage of the moment and conducting a nuclear test, by which Israel would gain official entry to the nuclear "club" - did not win serious consideration.
"That was a total taboo to them, as far as they [the authorities] were concerned," Cohen cites the involved source as saying.
On the political level, ambiguity is a policy by which the State of Israel does not say anything about its nuclear status, apart from the statement that "it will not be the first to introduce nuclear weapons to the Middle East." The key word here is "introduce" - and Israel and the United States became involved in a political confrontation over this term toward the end of the 1960s. Like John Kennedy's government before it, the Johnson administration believed that it would be a mistake to allow Israel to develop nuclear weapons, and thus tried to keep Israel at the 'threshold' status."
For its part, Israel did not reveal what had happened on the eve of the Six-Day War, and its leadership pondered whether the threat posed by that war was a one-time episode. Eshkol, Cohen is convinced, passed away without reaching a decision as to whether Israel should become party to the Non-Proliferation Treaty, in accord with the Johnson administration's consistent demand.
The picture changed after Richard Nixon's election in 1968. In his study, Cohen quotes documents that were declassified in recent years, which indicate that the American bureaucracy and heads of the country's security forces continued to believe that Israel should be pressured not to assemble nuclear bombs; they even favored linking the Phantom jets deal, which was put together in this period, to Israel's assurances on this issue. However, National Security Adviser Henry Kissinger, and Nixon himself, saw things differently. One of these American documents has Kissinger wondering whether it would be at all possible to pressure Israel not to deploy Jericho missiles that it was developing; elsewhere, he recommends to the president that "for our own internal purpose, we would decide that we could tolerate Israeli activity short of assembly of a completed nuclear device."
The story ended this way: In a late-1969 meeting between Golda Meir and Nixon, details of which were initially revealed by Aluf Benn in Haaretz, the Americans assented to Israel's interpretation of the word "introduce," according to which Israel would neither conduct nuclear tests, nor declare that it possesses such a weapon, and would generally keep a low profile on nuclear matters. At that meeting, Cohen posits in his book, Meir acknowledged Israel's nuclear status to Nixon.
That is how nuclear ambiguity was officially born - and how its footprints started to be rubbed out. As far as is known, minutes of the Nixon-Meir meeting are not to be found in archives in the two countries; even the file that deals with the Nixon administration's bureaucratic process leading to the meeting remains classified; and it is the only document of its sort from that period whose very title remains unknown to the public.
"In exchange for the low profile Israel promised during that meeting," Cohen explains, "the United States and most of the Western world agreed to accept Israel's special nuclear status. In other words, Israel did not join the Non-Proliferation Treaty, but it received special status, and pressure was not exerted on it with regard to this topic. Ambiguity is the Israeli-American policy. Without the West's agreement, there would be no ambiguity."
If, as you write in your book, Israel indeed developed the bomb before the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty materialized, why did it do so secretly?
Cohen: "Part of the uniqueness of the Israeli project is that it was driven by two opposing forces, which almost balance one another: determination and caution. It is very important to keep in mind when these things emerged - a short time after World War II. Fresh historical memories, and the path running between Auschwitz and Hiroshima, were entrenched deeply in Israel's dilemma. On the one hand, the bomb's purpose was clear: Ben-Gurion, who remained so helpless throughout the Holocaust period, wanted an 'insurance policy' to protect against a recurrence of such a tragedy. If you have the capability of threatening Hiroshima, you stave off Auschwitz. On the other hand, the other side could try to attain the same status. And if it were to succeed, then, suddenly, all of the calculations would be altered, moving from one extreme to the other. This was not like the Americans and the Russians, who found themselves more or less in a situation of parity. When both sides in the Arab-Israeli dispute have the bomb, Israel is trapped in an awful situation, worse than at the starting point. Thus, Israel's real interest is for nobody to have the bomb.
"That is the reason why when Israel did anything in the nuclear sphere, it wanted to reduce as much as possible the other side's incentive to attain this capability. That explains the need to minimize the value of our acts, to conceal them or to reduce whatever was seen of them, as much as possible. This tension, between the determination to obtain an insurance policy, and the threat that this determination created, produced the unique policy of ambiguity."
In other words, even you admit that ambiguity has considerable logic.
"Ambiguity contains a very deep dimension of caution and self-restraint which I definitely respect. It's possible to claim that it played an important role in mitigating the Arab incentive to join a nuclear arms race. However, it has something very anachronistic, undemocratic and ill-suited to Israel's interest today, 40 years after the world became convinced that Israel attained these capabilities. The world, or at least most of it, is reconciled to Israel's status as a nuclear state, and even understands the special circumstances that led to this status, so long as Israel conducts reasonable and responsible policy. Such a policy includes norms of political responsibility, and also public acknowledgment of its status. Responsibility enjoins a measure of transparency, and ambiguity does not suit this burden of responsibility. You cannot attain recognition if you are playing games. That's evasion of responsibility."
The majority of Israel's leaders and public believe that ambiguity protects the bomb, and the bomb protects Israel - and also that if you relinquish ambiguity, you'll lose the bomb.
"Total nonsense. You are talking about a state that has had these capabilities for two generations, capabilities which are supported by political understandings that were ratified during generations of contacts between U.S. presidents and the Israeli government, and that are basically accepted by all Western states, and nobody is going to wrest these capabilities from its hands. How exactly would they be taken away? That's not practical or realistic; it's a fantasy. Should Israel provide some sort of signal that it is prepared to think anew about this topic, there's no doubt that the world, particularly the United States, will be willing to sit down and see how the right conditions can be created.
"The bitter irony is that right now, ambiguity serves the interests of Israel's rival in the Middle East. Iran is creating its own version of ambiguity: not the concealment of its project, but rather ambiguity with regard to the distinction separating possession and non-possession of nuclear weapons. It reiterates that it has no intention of building a bomb, but that it has the right to enrich uranium, and even come close to developing [nuclear] weapons - while still remaining true to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. It is straddling the line, and in my opinion, Iran wants to, and can, remain for some time with the status of a state that might or might not have the bomb. Iran is a state of ambiguity."
In contrast to most researchers, who examine policy of nuclear ambiguity largely in the context of international relations, of war and peace, Cohen deals extensively in this book and his other work with the internal political and legal problems that ambiguity causes - such as the issue of how it squares with democracy, of how it has come to pass that the Knesset and the government remain out of the picture with respect to such a central, existential issue.
Cohen notes that in the mid-1970s, a dispute between Defense Minister Shimon Peres and the director general of the IAEC, Shalheveth Freier, led to the latter's dismissal. However, the circumstances of this dispute were not even disclosed to the Knesset's Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, which follows Defense Ministry activity. Who then, one asks, monitors the IAEC? Is there an external body that reviews environmental risks (like where does waste get buried; what will happen in the event of an earthquake )? Last but not least, who in Israel has authority to push the "red button"? According to Cohen, such issues have shadowed the project from its inception, but they almost never found public expression.
When the IAEC was established, Ben-Gurion did not attempt to clarify whether it was subordinate to the Defense Ministry, or the Prime Minister's Office. He avoided making such a determination because he headed both. When Moshe Sharett, Israel's second prime minister, tried to clarify this issue, Ben-Gurion wrote that he had never really dealt with the question, but it seemed more logical that the IAEC would operate under the auspices of the PMO (and this, in fact, became the authority in question ).
Nixon. Afforded a turning point.
In 1966, a secret document signed by Prime Minister Eshkol reorganized the nuclear project, and spelled out spheres of responsibility undertaken by the PMO and the Defense Ministry. Before the Six-Day War, when Dayan joined the government, another document was formulated - apparently to ban the new defense minister from ordering on his own initiative the use of nonconventional weapons.
The toughest test of the policy of nuclear ambiguity occurred in 1973, just four years after its principles were agreed upon by Meir and Nixon. According to Cohen, Defense Minister Dayan apparently requested during the first days of the Yom Kippur War to carry out a "nuclear demonstration," and he summoned IAEC director general Freier to a meeting of the war cabinet.
"Dayan feared that Israel was approaching a point of no return, and he evidently wanted the United States to take notice that Israel had reached that point," Cohen writes in his book. "According to one person's testimony [Arnon 'Sini' Azaryahu, a confidante of Israel Galili, who waited for Galili outside the conference room, and heard the report of events immediately after the meeting ended], at the end of the war cabinet meeting in the late morning of October 9, a day after the IDF had failed miserably in its first counterattack in the Egyptian frontier, Dayan suggested discussing some options involving a nuclear demonstration. On hand was Shalheveth Freier, the IAEC's director general, who was waiting to provide a briefing. As soon as Dayan made his suggestion, Ministers Allon and Galili told the prime minister that such discussion was premature and uncalled for. The prime minister agreed with them, and Freier did not address the forum."
In the book's section on the Yom Kippur War, Cohen relies on the testimony of Prof. Yuval Ne'eman, an adviser to the defense minister in this period and a veteran researcher of the nuclear project, and confirms estimates published in foreign sources that during the 1973 war, Israel took steps whose implication was that its level of nuclear preparedness was upgraded.
"It also appeared that on two or three occasions during the war," writes Cohen, "a 'strategic alert' (a euphemism for nuclear alert ) was declared, twice in the first week of the war and the third time on October 17 or 18, in response to a state of alert of Soviet SCUD missiles in Egypt. It is believed that those states of alert involved certain readiness 'dispositions' such as mobilizing the Jericho missiles from their shelters, fueling them, and other related activities."
The Yom Kippur War is not the only instance in which Dayan is thought to have had "nuclear enthusiasm."
Cohen relies on a description provided by historian Tom Segev, indicating that the year before Eshkol's death, Dayan appeared to be promoting certain developments, in the nuclear sphere and other contexts, in defiance of the prime minister's wishes. As a result, when Golda Meir became prime minister, another document was formulated to clarify the division of responsibility between the PMO and the Defense Ministry; the document included a section relating to nuclear matters.
During the latter half of the 1970s, when he did not serve in the government, Dayan presented to various circles the idea of open nuclear deterrence; this displeased Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, a proponent of ambiguity.
No talking allowed
What would be the decision-making sequence, and monitoring framework, for a situation in which the defense minister or prime minister asks again to promote the "doomsday option"? Neither the public, nor most of its representatives, have any clue as to the nuclear chain of command. In his book, Cohen speculates that Israel's monitoring system includes a series of nuclear alert situations, akin to those present in the United States during the Cold War. He asserts that senior Israeli ministers in the past assured foreign officials that Israel's nuclear program includes safeguards to protect against mistaken or unauthorized use of the weapons. In his view, the main authority rests with the prime minister, but certain aspects of this authority are controlled by the defense minister; furthermore, actual use requires, at a minimum, the consent of both the prime minister and the defense minister. He believes that the division of power has been revamped during the past decades - assuming that, Israel is, in fact, dealing with the establishment of a second strike force, based on a naval nuclear capacity.
"On a practical level," Cohen explains, "I am inclined to think that the persons in charge of the reactor and everything connected to its supervision and control are responsible. I think they established for themselves self-monitoring mechanisms which are unseen by the public. But this is the crux of the matter. In my opinion, responsibility cannot be assumed without taking the public dimension into account: It's impossible to conduct healthy decision-making processes in a democracy, or to avoid the failures of collective thinking, while remaining committed to ambiguity."
In his book, Cohen emphasizes possible implications of ambiguity on routine and also crisis management-related decision-making processes. Unlike nuclear democracies such as Britain or the United States, Israel does not, and cannot, have experts who are not engaged in the nuclear project itself; Israel lacks well-informed persons who are on the outside and can challenge the professional bureaucracy. The prime minister appoints the director general of the IAEC, but then becomes almost entirely dependent on this official when he requires information about nuclear matters. The probability that the prime minister will regularly accept recommendations forwarded by the professionals in this sphere is extremely high, Cohen asserts; the premier's ability to implement policy changes, that are opposed by the bureaucracy, is tightly circumscribed.
"Sticking with this special, pure status, by which there is never any public discussion on the topic, is very convenient," Cohen reflects, "but it's also crippling and encourages ignorance in that neither the public, nor senior officials, even think about starting a discussion.
"Israelis are banned from talking about Israel's nuclear weapons as a fact; instead the topic can be discussed only as imagery, as speculation, an estimate, a quote, as something attributed to a foreign source. There are no facts, not even those known to everyone; there are only estimates and images. This is absurd: Relating to Israel's bomb is prohibited, while, on the other hand, the entire world knows about it as a fact. Because if the weapon were really a secret, it would have no deterrent value."
Cohen's new book was launched earlier this month at a building named for Woodrow Wilson, two blocks from the White House. The room filled up quickly; some guests were referred to a hall on the second floor, were there was a video broadcast of the proceedings. Bruce Riedel, a former CIA analyst who drafted for President Obama a survey of U.S. policy in Afghanistan and Pakistan, said that the book serves as a good platform for starting a discussion about a change in Israeli-American policy on nuclear matters; Samuel Lewis, former U.S. ambassador to Israel, wondered whether Israeli society is ready for such a change. All of the speakers related to Israel's possession of nuclear weapons, and even to its ostensible second strike capability, as a matter of course, as though speaking about something that was self-evident. Most of the attention was directed toward the subject of Iran.
Of course, a discussion about ambiguity such as this event in Washington could not be conducted in Israel, owing to the policy of ambiguity. In order to be a researcher of the country's nuclear project, Cohen became an American. After he completed his first article, a 1993 study about the history of the Dimona project, he tried to wrest approval from the censor, but failed; Cohen hired attorney Gilad Sher and petitioned the High Court of Justice. When the sides failed to reach an agreement, Cohen withdrew the petition. "There are countries which would make such a person disappear," commented a security source in a report by journalist Emmanuel Rosen on this affair.
After he left for the United States, Cohen was warned by an Israeli police representative in the Washington embassy that should "Israel and the Bomb" be published, "measures would be taken against him." When the book was printed in 1999, Cohen was informed that he would be arrested should he enter Israel.
After a few years of negotiation between his attorneys and state prosecutors, Cohen managed to persuade authorities that he had not dealt with classified documents. He was allowed to return to the country; he was questioned, and subsequently the accusations against him were dropped. Denunciations of him, attributed to "security elements," remain with him to this day, however. Cohen believes that they originated with Yechiel Horev, formerly the official responsible for security in the Defense Ministry; Horev, Cohen claims, "personally" hounded him in the early 2000s, and would have "been happy to see me put on trial."
Horev has retired, and Cohen is able to visit his mother in Israel as he wishes. Yet in my meetings with him, I got the impression that the years in which he was banned from returning to Israel - along with the security establishment's campaign against him - wounded him deeply. It appears that he continues to be perplexed by the twists of fate that turned him into an enemy of the establishment, even an exile. Between the lines in his book there is a sense of admiration for the pioneers in Israel's nuclear project. He even maintained a friendship with two of the legendary figures from the early days of the IAEC: Freier and Israel Dostrovsky (who passed away last month ).
"I don't see myself as an outsider, or as an enemy of the establishment," he declares. "Up to the point where the struggle became a full frontal collision with Yechiel Horev, I thought of myself as someone who was doing everything to return to Israel. My effort, the negotiations we conducted with stubborn persistence so that I could return, were done so that I could maintain my connection to Israel."
There's no possibility that you exaggerate about Horev, or the danger of ambiguity, as a result of your experiences?
"There is such a possibility. I think I am aware of that, and so it is important that the topic be discussed in an organized way. My analysis is open to discussion. I do not see the picture perfectly. My knowledge is limited, sometimes even speculative. But it seems to me that given the total lack of efforts to criticize or discuss this subject, at least one person ought to become perhaps a little obsessive about it - can't he provide some balance? Doesn't he bring a little balance to this black hole?"
Cohen concludes: "I'm often asked why I don't drop this topic of ambiguity. I refer to historic and geopolitical circumstances, but I mainly believe that on the most basic and deepest level, ambiguity is simply not enlightened behavior, not in terms of the state's citizens, and not in foreign relations. When dealing with subjects that are so central and crucial, it's wrong to speak in such an evasive manner, one that neither acknowledges nor denies; that says one thing at one moment and then another thing at another moment. If, as a result of historical circumstances the State of Israel found itself required to produce this terrible weapon, under our circumstances today, we can look at ourselves and the world and say, 'Right. We did this. But we are very responsible; we've proven that in the past, and for as long as this weapon exists in the world, and so long as the dispute continues and our existence is not guaranteed - we will continue to possess it."
1a)Islamic Jihad leader: Israel must be wiped out of existence
Organizers say up to 100,000 people attend largest Islamic Jihad rally in Gaza in several years; Hamas leader calls for unity against Israel.
Tens of thousands of supporters of the militant Islamic Jihad movement rallied in the streets of Gaza on Friday, chanting "Death to America" and "Death to Israel."
Young men and boys wearing white T-shirts with a slogan in the shape of a rifle carried portraits of militants killed in combat, under the black flags of Islamic Jihad.
Ramadan Shallah, the group's exiled chief, currently residing in Damascus, sent a recorded message marking the anniversary of the assassination of the group's leader Fathi Shiqaqi in Malta in 1995, by presumed Israeli secret agents.
"Israel will not bring peace to the region, it will only bring war and destruction and therefore, the slogan of all should be that Israel must be wiped out of existence," said
Shallah, who is on a United States wanted list.
Senior leaders of the ruling Islamist group, Hamas, joined the open-air gathering, the largest for years in honor of Islamic Jihad with up to 100,000 attending according to its organizers.
Hamas allowed the group to use city terrain it usually reserves exclusively for its own rallies, and Hamas forces provided security for the parade by its smaller rival.
A Palestinian woman holds a gun as she attends the Islamic Jihad rally in Gaza City, Friday, Oct. 29, 2010. AP1/11'Referendum against peace talks'
Islamic Jihad carried out a series of stabbing attacks in the 1980s against Israeli citizens who used to visit the Gaza Strip to purchase cheap goods and later turned to suicide bombings inside Israel.
Its militants continue to harass southern Israel with sporadic rocket and mortar fire from inside Gaza, frequently paying with their lives in swift retaliatory strikes by the Israeli air force.
Islamic Jihad officials said Friday's turnout was a "referendum by the Palestinian people rejecting peace-making with Israel."
Negotiations between Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu have faltered after Israel's 10-month freeze of settlemement construction expired on September 26.
"The choice of negotiation has reached deadlock, and we are wondering why is there such an insistence by the Palestinian Authority on negotiation with the enemy," said Shallah.
He urged an end to peace talks and fresh efforts to heal the rift between Abbas's Fatah movement and the Islamist militants.
Raising hopes that the three-year-old split may be coming to an end, Hamas leader Khalil Al-Hayya said it was time for unity in the face of Israel.
"There is only the choice of Jihad and nothing else ... There is no more room to make bets, on the Americans or anyone else," said Hayya.
President Abbas, however, rules out any return to violence against Israelis in pursuit of Palestinian statehood. He has said he will pursue diplomatic alternatives should the peace talks with Netanyahu collapse definitively.
2)Soros and the Collapse of the Left
By J.R. Dunn
Now let me get this straight: George Soros, Media Matters, and the White House, in some unclear capacity, have unveiled their master plan to destroy the right: isolate and nullify Fox News by getting people fired from NPR.
NPR pink-slipped Juan Williams for the equivalent of stating that when he sees it's raining out, he gets his umbrella. NPR president Vivian Schiller, evidently divining that disparaging fears of Muslim terrorists wouldn't play well in a country that has suffered three serious terrorist attempts in a little over a year, added that this was merely the latest of a series of Williams outrages, but she produced no examples. (Schiller now says that she "regrets" how the firing was handled.)
Obviously, there has to be another reason, and when we look around, we find none other than the Prog Twins, Soros and Obama. (Not to forget David Brock...or is that the stupidest statement I ever typed?) Obama has been having bad dreams about Fox, so Soros contributes a cool $1.8 million to NPR for the purpose of hiring one hundred investigative reporters to learn the truth about Bigfoot. Another $1 mil went to Brock's Media Matters for the purpose, I imagine, of mixing more mud to fling -- they don't do anything else. Then, as soon as the checks cleared, Williams finds himself out on the street.
This is not a coincidence, comrades. This is the Alinsky isolate-and-destroy method in textbook form. A kindergarten textbook, granted -- the idea appears to be to prevent any further liberal contact with Fox, limiting the network to unbalanced right-wing voices, and then to sit back and wait for an aroused public to march on the Fox offices with pitchforks and torches. Of course it would happen just that way -- nobody would ever listen to Beck, Hannity, or Palin if NPR didn't encourage them.
The success of this plan can be gauged by the fact that everybody but Muslim Brotherhood front groups have condemned NPR; Williams has accepted a $2-million contract with Fox, where, as the last of the level-headed liberals, he's likely to feel much more at home; and Soros has found himself under far more public scrutiny than he's used to.
This is one of those schemes that couldn't possibly work even if successful. No matter what the direct outcome, Fox would still be a monster network and NPR a nostalgia chain for an ever-shrinking band of true believers. As it is, we have Williams and Fox attaining close to saintly status while Soros looks like a cranky, half-crazy old Hungarian (granted, he looked like that before, too), and Obama...well, he looks like Obama.
I'm sure some people are whispering that there's a lot more to it, that some deep plan has been put into play about which we'll know nothing until it's too late, that Soros was emptying Fort Knox and Obama was driving trucks full of ballots out of Chicago's cemeteries while everybody was watching Williams burst his chains like Houdini. I do not believe this.
We have seen Obama and crew in operation for two years now, and it is low comedy. We now know why Christopher Buckley supported him -- so he'd have plenty of material. For exhibit A, I present ObamaCare, which, with an overwhelming majority in both House and Senate and the support of the media and the medical trade groups, the administration was unable to pass without infuriating the entire country, demolishing Medicare, delaying the recovery, and unleashing the Tea Parties. I rest my case.
As for Soros, while working on the upcoming Death by Liberalism, I came across a project that he sponsored along with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation called the Project on Death in America. It was supposedly intended to familiarize Americans with death, since no one in this country has ever heard of it or knows anything about it. (This little conceit is quite popular on the left -- see Jessica Mitford's The American Way of Death.) In actuality, Soros targeted two perfectly legitimate medical innovations, palliative care and hospice care, in order to ram through his vision of legal euthanasia. He put tens of millions into the effort, recruited medical personnel across the country, and nicely tarnished the entire field of end-of-life care, all with next to no attention from our alert media.
And then, after the better part of a decade, with no warning, he dropped it. The entire program. Cut off all funding, left his hired medical types high and dry, hid most of the documentation, and instead involved himself in attempting to chase George W. Bush out of office. After several weeks of research, I was left with this: "A lot of questions remain about this program..." Namely, what the hell Soros thought he was doing.
I'm aware that Soros is the great bête noire of conservatism. An unstoppable, sinister force involved in everything and active on infinite levels of chicanery. But if that's the case, if Soros is the real-life version of a Bond villain, then why is the left in such desperate straits? Why are they on the verge of being cast out of the political universe? Why is Soros himself publicly admitting that he "can do nothing against the Republican avalanche"?
It's my contention that Soros is yet another example of that common leftist phenomenon, the rich dilettante who shows up with buckets of money and a plan, throws no end of funds at every crank initiative from legalizing pot to building a mosque atop Mt. Rushmore, and at last departs into private life much poorer and in no way wiser. The only difference with Soros is that he has a lot more money that will take much longer to burn through.
Obama, of course, speaks for himself. Here we are emerging robust and healthy from the second Great Depression, with historically low unemployment, no foreclosure problem, terrorism ended, Iran tamed, the entire world running on wind power, and all the wealth spread around a bit. Did I miss anything? Oh, yeah, those oceans haven't begun dropping yet. But he'll be able to get that now, at least if Fox doesn't get in the way.
So here we are mere days before the Apocalypse, when the floor of the Capitol opens up to swallow the last howling Democrat -- and what's the grand plan of this pair of masterminds? Getting Juan Williams fired.
But now Soros has control of that mighty weapon of public opinion, NPR? Let's look more closely at that. A very conservative friend of mine had an older and rather ambiguous brother who would show up, turn on the radio, tune in NPR, and then walk around smirking at everybody and chuckling loudly every time an announcer said "Karl Rove." That was his method, evidently, of striking a blow for liberation from the Bush tyranny. And that is all that NPR amounts to. That is what NPR is for, with its cute Garrison Keillor Hallmark Card homilies and shows with half-clever titles like "All Things Considered." It is "Doonesbury" for the ears, a network for people who are not well-educated, not well-read, not very radical, and not very courageous, but who would like to think of themselves as all those things. In other words, NPR is a lapel button, a ritual gesture along the lines of wearing a rising doughnut t-shirt or driving a Prius.
If Soros thinks he can do something with that crowd, he's welcome to it. Putting NPR up against Fox is like sending Hello Kitty out to stalk the Predator. My recommendation would be to defund the sucker, let Soros take over, and allow him to spend his last years discovering exactly what a financial black hole the network actually is. More than likely he'll simply dump it the same as everything else as soon as his next brainstorm hits.
The whole story, to my mind, is yet another sign, along with the midterms, fleeing czars, and collapsing programs, of the bankruptcy of the left. Keep in mind that a decadent, deteriorating system doesn't simply flop over into terminal sloth. There's no lack of energy and initiative, but it's all of the wrong kind. Resources and time are wasted on weird little projects that accomplish nothing and wouldn't help even if successful, while the real problems grow larger, fiercer, and closer to intractable.
That's what's happening here. The left has been in the driver's seat for four years. The record is clear. Not a single one of their programs has taken off. Their congressional vanguard, including such grandees as Boxer and Feingold, is in deep trouble. They haven't been able to raise a finger against the Tea tsunami. But they got Juan Williams fired! That's one for the progs! I predict a lot more of this kind of thing. Mara Liasson, another NPR figure guilty of torturing innocents in the Fox dungeons, has been targeted by Media Matters. Over at Wired, there were a lot of calls last weekend for the termination of military writer Noah Schachtman for the thought crime of pointing out that the Wikileak Iraq documents contain a lot of material verifying the WMD narrative. They've reached the point where they're eating their own. This could work out very nicely.
The left may well be reaching the end of its string. It's happened before, and somebody -- usually a Republican -- has always been around with a shot of Dr. Goodtime's zap juice to enable it to stagger around for another decade or so. But this round may be different. For the first time, we have a public both aware and aroused. Political questions are out in the open. There's no telling what will happen when the whole things shakes out. But I have a feeling the changes may be deeper and more thoroughgoing than anyone now expects.
J.R. Dunn is consulting editor of American Thinker and will edit the forthcoming Military Thinker.
3) New Obama Bio Goes Comically Awry
By Jack Cashill
Said William Buckley for the ages, "I'd rather entrust the government of the United States to the first 400 people listed in the Boston telephone directory than to the faculty of Harvard University."
In his forthcoming biography, Reading Obama: Dreams, Hopes, and the American Political Tradition, Harvard historian James T. Kloppenberg shows the timelessness of Buckley's wisdom. Although the Kloppenberg book is not yet on the shelves, he gives enough away in a recent New York Times article for me to dismiss it for the blathering nonsense it promises to be.
In New York last week to lecture on the book, Kloppenberg insisted that President Barack Obama was a true intellectual, a rare "philosopher president," one that he classed with the likes of Adams, Jefferson, Lincoln, and Wilson.
If this were not removed enough from reality, Kloppenberg doubles down on his obliviousness by insisting that the philosophy guiding Obama, according to the Times, "is pragmatism, a uniquely American system of thought developed at the end of the 19th century by William James, John Dewey and Charles Sanders Peirce."
To be sure, Kloppenberg dismisses outright those conservatives like Dinesh D'Souza and Stanley Kurtz who argue that Obama is either an anti-colonialist or a socialist. "Adams and Jefferson were the only anti-colonialists whom Obama has been affected by," Kloppenberg told his audience in New York. "He has a profound love of America."
To make his case, Kloppenberg would seem to have ignored everything we know about Obama's leftist, anti-American influences: his secular humanist mother, his communist mentor Frank Marshall Davis, his radical Hyde Park pals Bill Ayers and Rashid Khalidi, and, of course, his deranged pastor Jeremiah Wright.
In college, as Obama relates in his 1995 memoir Dreams from My Father, he discussed "neocolonialism, Franz Fanon, Eurocentrism, and patriarchy." The literary influences Obama cites include radical anti-imperialists like Fanon and Malcolm X, communists like Langston Hughes and Richard Wright, and tyrant-loving fellow travelers like W.E.B. DuBois.
Nowhere does Obama suggest that this reading was in any way problematic or a mere phase in his development. He moves on to no new school, embraces no new worldview. It was for good reason that the National Journal cited Obama as "the most liberal" member of the U.S. Senate.
Then, too, for a philosopher-president, Obama has put surprisingly little in print: two awkward articles pre-Harvard, an unsigned case note at Harvard, a memoir heavily doctored by Bill Ayers, and in the ten years after Dreams, nothing at all save for a trivial, self-aggrandizing column in the neighborhood newspaper, the Hyde Park Herald.
If Obama wrote a single inspired or imaginative sentence in his many Herald columns, I was not able to find it. Worse, virtually every column promised more counterproductive meddling in the life of the community. Such was the petty political yoke to which our literary master had to harness his outsized talent during these fallow years.
Obama's claim to both pragmatism and to the designation "philosopher-president" lies in his 2006 book, The Audacity of Hope. Again, had Kloppenberg not been so willfully blind, he would have seen Audacity for what it was: a repositioning of the Obama brand, orchestrated by the savvy marketer David Axelrod and produced by committee.
Obama did not get the commission to write the book until after he was elected senator in November 2004. "I usually wrote at night after my Senate day was over, and after my family was asleep -- from 9:30 p.m. or so until 1 a.m," Obama has alleged. "I would work off an outline -- certain themes or stories that I wanted to tell -- and get them down in longhand on a yellow pad. Then I'd edit while typing in what I'd written."
How a slow writer, off to a late start, using 19th-century technology, could pen (literally) a well-researched, well-crafted 431-page book in the face of an absurd work schedule and a weekly commute home is a question that Kloppenberg is not likely to have asked. Obama biographer David Remnick notes that facing his deadline, Obama wrote "nearly a chapter a week." The chapters are on average nearly fifty pages long. None of this passes the most basic smell test.
If Obama had a muse-in-chief on Audacity, it was almost assuredly speechwriting wunderkind Jon Favreau. Obama interviewed Favreau on his first day in the Senate in 2005 and promptly hired the then-23-year-old video game junkie.
No writer was closer to Obama or more trusted than Favreau. "In crafting a speech," writes Obama biographer David Mendell, "Favreau grabs his laptop and sits with Obama for about twenty minutes, listening to his boss throw out chunks of ideas. Favreau then assembles these thoughts into political prose."
Although I cannot prove that Audacity was assembled in the same fashion, I can confirm that portions of Audacity sound like what the Times called "outtakes from a stump speech" precisely because they were, in fact, outtakes from a stump speech.
My correspondents and I found at least 38 passages from Obama speeches delivered in 2005 or 2006 that appear virtually word for word as ordinary text in Audacity. In short, whoever wrote Obama's speeches wrote large sections of Audacity, likely most of it. Here is a sample from a speech Obama gave on October 25, 2005:
... those who work in the field know what reforms really work: a more challenging and rigorous curriculum with emphasis on math, science, and literacy skills. Longer hours and more days to give kids the time and attention they need to learn.
This second excerpt comes from Audacity.
And in fact we already have hard evidence of reforms that work: a more challenging and rigorous curriculum with emphasis on math, science, and literacy skills; longer hours and more days to give children the time and sustained attention they need to learn.
At the start of his Senate career in 2005, Newsweek had made Obama its cover boy under the heading "The Color Purple." This represented a full media buy-in to the conceit Obama had advanced in his God-fearing, flag-waving 2004 convention keynote speech, an inspired exercise in faux pragmatism.
The less inspired Audacity fooled few people off the Harvard campus. Writing from Obama's left, Michael Tomasky neatly summarizes the gist of the book in his critique for the left-liberal Saturday Review of Books:
The chapters boil down to a pattern: here's what the right believes about subject X, and here's what the left believes; and while I basically side with the left, I think the right has a point or two that we should consider, and the left can sometimes get a little carried away.
Time Magazine's Joe Klein had less patience still with this pattern. Klein counted no fewer than fifty instances of "excruciatingly judicious on-the-one-hand-on-the-other-handedness" in Audacity. He calls the tendency "so pronounced that it almost seems an obsessive-compulsive tic."
It takes a Harvard professor to elevate an obsessive-compulsive tic to presidential greatness. In my own forthcoming book, Deconstructing Obama, I will show how students can learn more about America at my alma mater, Purdue, than they can at Harvard, and at a sizeable discount, to boot.
3a) Obama the Thinker? Meet James Kloppenberg, the left's Dinesh D'Souza.
By JAMES TARANTO
Barack Obama is a pragmatist, James Kloppenberg tells the New York Times. No, he doesn't mean Obama is practical-minded; no one thinks that anymore. In fact, Kloppenberg, a Harvard historian, disparages the "vulgar pragmatism" of Bill Clinton while praising Obama's "philosophical pragmatism":
It is a philosophy that grew up after Darwin published his theory of evolution and the Civil War reached its bloody end. More and more people were coming to believe that chance rather than providence guided human affairs, and that dogged certainty led to violence.
Pragmatism maintains that people are constantly devising and updating ideas to navigate the world in which they live; it embraces open-minded experimentation and continuing debate. "It is a philosophy for skeptics, not true believers," Mr. Kloppenberg said.
Kloppenberg has a new book coming out, "Reading Obama: Dreams, Hopes and the American Political Tradition." According to the Times, Kloppenberg "sees Mr. Obama as a kind of philosopher president," a "true intellectual." Such philosophers are a "rare breed": the Adamses, Jefferson, Madison, Lincoln, Wilson and now Obama.
"Imagine the Republicans driving the economy into a ditch," the philosopher president said the other day. "And it's a deep ditch. It's a big ditch. And somehow they walked away from the accident, and we put on our boots and we rappelled down into the ditch--me and Jack and Sheldon and Jim and Patrick. We've been pushing, pushing, trying to get that car out of the ditch. And meanwhile, the Republicans are standing there, sipping on a Slurpee." John Dewey had nothing on this guy!
If the president does not seem to be the intellectual heavyweight Kloppenberg makes him out to be, the Harvard historian has an explanation: Obama is a sort of secret-agent philosopher. "He would have had to deny every word," Kloppenberg tells the Times, which helpfully explains that "intellectual" is "a word that is frequently considered an epithet among populists with a robust suspicion of Ivy League elites."
When Sarah Palin called Obama a "professor," some professors accused her of racism. What she really meant, they claimed, was "uppity." Kloppenberg's similar characterization, however, draws a quite different response:
Those who heard Mr. Kloppenberg present his argument at a conference on intellectual history at the City University of New York's Graduate Center responded with prolonged applause. "The way he traced Obama's intellectual influences was fascinating for us, given that Obama's academic background seems so similar to ours," said Andrew Hartman, a historian at Illinois State University who helped organize the conference.
One assumes that Andrew Hartman is a serious scholar, although one doesn't know for sure because one has never heard of him. Barack Obama, by contrast, is a scholarly dilettante, a professional politician who has moonlighted as a university instructor.
Yet Hartman's remark about Obama's "academic background" is revealing. Professors imagine Obama is one of them because he shares their attitudes: their politically correct opinions, their condescending view of ordinary Americans, their belief in their own authority as an intellectual elite. He is the ideal product of the homogeneous world of contemporary academia. In his importance, they see a reflection of their self-importance.
Kloppenberg's thesis reminds us of another elaborate attempt at explaining Obama: Dinesh D'Souza's "The Roots of Obama's Rage." D'Souza, like Kloppenberg, imputes to Obama a coherent philosophy, in D'Souza's case "anticolonialism." It is a needlessly elaborate explanation for an unremarkable set of facts.
Occam's razor suggests that Obama is a mere conformist--someone who absorbed every left-wing platitude he encountered in college and never seems to have seriously questioned any of them. Kloppenberg characterizes Obama as a skeptic, not a true believer. We're not sure he has an active enough mind to be either one.
Keep Hope Alive
"The very bad day Democrats are expecting next Tuesday might not be as terrible as feared, according to some analysts not known for wishful thinking," writes Errol Louis, a liberal columnist for New York's Daily News. That "not known for wishful thinking" is a nice touch, a protestation that conveys its opposite.
Here's Louis, wishing:
Another big story that hasn't drawn much notice is the role black voters will play. "There are more than a dozen Senate races and more than a dozen governor's races where the black vote could make a difference," says David Bositis, senior research associate at the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, a Washington-based think tank.
"If they turn out in large numbers, I think it's going to surprise a lot of people," Bositis says. "I think the Democrats could conceivably hold on to the House." . . .
Another potential shot in the arm for Dems could come from Latino voters turned off by the harsh anti-immigrant rhetoric championed by many Republican candidates.
"I think that the Latino vote is going to be the October surprise," says Maria Teresa Kumar, executive director of Voto Latino, a nonprofit advocacy organization.
Some mischievous Republican must have misinformed Maria Teresa Kumar as to which month the election is in. The trouble, of course, is that Democrats are almost always able to count on large margins among Hispanics and near-Soviet-size ones among blacks. Turnout among these ethnic blocs can make a difference in a close election, but it cannot provide enough of a margin to avert a landslide. A New York Times news story makes clear why people are expecting a blowout for the Democrats:
Critical parts of the coalition that delivered President Obama to the White House in 2008 and gave Democrats control of Congress in 2006 are switching their allegiance to the Republicans in the final phase of the midterm Congressional elections, according to the latest New York Times/CBS News poll.
Republicans have wiped out the advantage held by Democrats in recent election cycles among women, Roman Catholics, less affluent Americans and independents. All of those groups broke for Mr. Obama in 2008 and for Congressional Democrats when they grabbed both chambers from the Republicans four years ago, according to exit polls.
Strong black and Latino support is a necessary condition for a Democratic victory nationwide and in most states and districts. Outside of a few cities and urban districts, it is far from a sufficient one.
Two Papers in One!
■"The incident was one of two stompings reported to Lexington police outside the debate, where scores of supporters of both candidates had gathered in the parking lot for a rally. [Rand] Paul supporter Marsha Foster, 49, reported that earlier in the night a person had intentionally stomped on her broken foot, causing "minor visible injuries," according to a police report."--news story, Lexington (Ky.) Herald-Leader, Oct. 27
■"The Paul campaign condemned the attack, disassociated itself from the volunteer who stomped the woman's head and called on activists 'on both sides' to avoid 'physical altercations of any kind.' The problem with the Paul statement is that only one side, his side, resorted to violence."--editorial, Lexington Herald-Leader, Oct. 27
Blogger Jim Hoft has a clip of President Obama yesterday, answering a question from a radio talk-show host:
Host: Mr. President, why is no one who supported the health-care bill running on it?
Obama: Well, I think that you've seen a couple of hundred million dollars worth of negative TV ads that make it very difficult to do so. I mean, the fact of the matter is, is that, you know, there was a [sic] awful lot of misinformation about this health-care bill while we were debating it, and that has continued after we've finished debating it.
He's the World's Greatest Orator, and he's got the truth on his side, yet no one will listen because all these other people are spreading misinformation and negativity! No wonder he doesn't like the First Amendment.
Paying for Granny's Tuition
From the New York Times:
As their state financing dwindled, four-year public universities increased their published tuition and fees almost 8 percent this year, to an average of $7,605, according to the College Board's annual reports. When room and board are included, the average in-state student at a public university now pays $16,140 a year.
At private nonprofit colleges and universities, tuition rose 4.5 percent to an average of $27,293, or $36,993 with room and board.
The good news in the 2010 "Trends in College Pricing" and "Trends in Student Aid" reports is that fast-rising tuition costs have been accompanied by a huge increase in financial aid, which helped keep down the actual amount students and families pay.
"In 2009-2010, students got $28 billion in Pell grants, and that's $10 billion more than the year before," said Sandy Baum, the economist who is the lead author of the reports. "When you look at how much students are actually paying, on average, it is lower, after adjusting for inflation, than five years earlier."
So the "good news" is that "students and families" don't have to pay all that extra tuition. That nice Mr. Pell will do it!
Actually, that's not quite how it works. Mr. Pell--you can call him Claiborne--is no longer with us, having died last year. A senator from Rhode Island from 1961 through 1997, he doesn't actually pay for Pell grants. All he had to do to get his name on them is sponsor the legislation establishing them.
Who pays then? Why, students and families, along with other taxpayers. And since the country is deep in debt, their grandchildren will pay too. Let's hope they can afford it!
4) Thank You, Lord Barack, for the Great Awakening
By Stuart Schwartz
It is time to thank Barack Obama -- or Lord Barack, as our media elites might prefer, having declared him a "sort of God." He said memorably in April that the Tea Partiers "should be saying thank you" for the great job he's been doing. And now, as Election Day approaches, vast swathes of the country are ready to give him the acknowledgment he seeks. Thank you, Mr. President, for giving back our country.
Now, it certainly is not what he had in mind. His point, of course, was that the Tea Party, instead of protesting, should be grateful for the transformation he has been bringing about. He has been vocal about an ungrateful electorate that doesn't understand the magnitude of his accomplishments. Instead, we disappoint, suffering from what Charles Krauthammer calls "Obama Underappreciation Syndrome."
The ungrateful masses look at what Obama hath wrought and see a federal government taking over their lives, debt biblically extending to "our children's children," and a ruling class that lives large while taxpayers now spend a quarter of their lives working to pay for its excesses. Taxpayers are footing the bill for unprecedented self-indulgence, prompting one American Thinker blogger to comment on the arrangements for the Obama's post-election jaunt to India: "Suleiman the Magnificent would have been embarrassed by the luxury Mr. and Mrs. B.O. intend for themselves." The inimitable James Taranto in the Wall Street Journal called him "the America Nero," acting more like an "emperor" than a president.
Even the reliably obtuse traditional media, which are to insight what Bill Clinton is to feminism, can see the staggering "elitism and condescension" in which Washington is awash. Barack Obama has put his stamp upon Washington. Even Peggy Noonan, peeking out from behind Woody Allen's mansion on Manhattan's Upper West Side, has noticed that he has brought us a United States of "status quo, Washington, [and] leftism."
P.J. O'Rourke sees an Obama States of America as Detroit-writ-large, with the president extending the life previously reserved by Democrats for their core constituencies to the average American. The humorist says the president is creating a nation of "vile schools, lawless slums, economic stagnation, and social immobility." Thomas Lifson described this as "progressive feudalism," condemning the average American to a grim subsistence with "more and more of our lives ... regulated by government bureaucrats setting rules and regulations and licensing people."
However, gratitude is what the president wants, and gratitude is what he will get on Tuesday. Barack Obama, through a unique blend of excess and incompetence, has authored a new Great Awakening, that eighteenth-century religious revival that unified American Christians in a common understanding of religion and faith. In the Obama Great Awakening, Americans are rediscovering the truths that progressivism has labored to erase. So thank you, Barack Obama, for helping to unite a nation around truths that include:
1. Smart people ain't so smart. Obama has assembled a collection of bureaucrats who -- their walls papered with advanced degrees -- are hailed, in the words of New York Times Obamaphile David Brooks, as an "educated class" born to lead. But the nation is about to say thanks, for this collection of brainiacs has ruined everything it has touched. Yes, the head of the Obama energy department is a Nobel Prize-winning physicist who can theorize like nobody's business. But ask him to put boats on the Gulf to clean up the oil and he will appoint a panel of academics to study the carbon footprint of the marine diesel engine -- forget the boats, leave the oil, and cut me a piece of that green energy pie-in-the-sky. Meanwhile, even the president's own oil spill commission "blasted" what one progressive historian called "the smartest guy ever to become president" for his inept response to the spill.
Health care, anyone? Harvard policymakers created a blueprint for a medical future that is already delivering "high costs, red tape," and a dramatically expanded bureaucracy. Guided by Obama and a Democrat Congress, the best and brightest, envision the ideal big-city emergency room of the future as a service staffed by a doctor, a nurse, 180 administrators, and 499 physician assistants hired and trained by the Service Employees International Union (SEIU).
2. Dumb people ain't so dumb. Thank you, Barack Obama -- results matter. Teleprompters and professional politicians are out; real people with real lives are in. Sarah Palin is dumb, Sharron Angle is stupid, and Rand Paul isn't even smart enough to give a god a proper name (I mean, "Aqua Buddha"? C'mon -- makes you long for the good ol' days of Zeus, Apollo, and Ted, the last a progressive god who just made the journey down the River Styx). But Investor's Business Daily praised Palin for the Tea Party revolution, even the Washington Post says Angle in Nevada is poised to take down the most powerful Democrat in the U.S. Senate, and Aqua Buddha will soon join John Kerry in that Mount Olympus of privilege, the U.S. Senate. Tea Party dumb -- just what the country needs.
3. Mainstream media are out of touch and untrustworthy. Katie Couric of CBS News just embarked on a tour of what she terms "this great unwashed middle of the country" to "divine the mood" of the voters. Huh? Drudge sums up the coming Republican victory as "Gallup Sees Tidal Wave," American Thinker sees a "Republican Renaissance," Real Clear Politics says early voting suggests a "Republican wave," and the news anchor of a major broadcast network is trying to figure out the mood of the country by talking with smelly people outside of Manhattan? Small wonder trust in what Sarah Palin calls "Lamestream Media" continues to hit new lows.
4. The founders were smart. Educators tell us our colonial founders were a bunch of privileged white guys who oppressed natives, savaged the earth, and then parked their yachts in Rhode Island. Think 56 John Kerrrys in drag, all white wigs and ruffled sleeves and tights. But we have now rediscovered that the U.S. Constitution is the best guarantee we have for freedom and prosperity and, combined with the Declaration of Independence, a vital blueprint for individual and corporate success. Send legislators to Washington who "think the Constitution is wrong" -- as one Democrat opined -- and liberty and prosperity suffer.
5. Speaking of education: the rot is deep. It will take decades to turn this around. If the U.S. Department of Education were to vanish tomorrow, the immediate effect would be a major hit to the profits of trendy Beltway bars. But the education establishment would remain, the same one putting our money behind programs to train students for "global citizenship" rather than reading, writing, and math. And the same one that has come to Washington to create the programs which two-thirds of the country say have put us on the "wrong track," according to Rasmussen.
On Election Day, Barack Obama will get the gratitude he deserves.
Stuart Schwartz, formerly a media and retail executive, is Professor of Communication at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia.
5)The Scott Brown precedent and Israel
By CAROLINE B. GLICK
Israel must craft policies that maximize its advantage on Capitol Hill and minimize its vulnerability to the White House.
On Tuesday, US voters are set to repudiate President Barak Obama’s agenda for their country. Unfortunately, based on his behavior in the face of a similar repudiation last January, it is safe to assume that Obama will not abandon his course.
Last year, in an attempt to block Obama’s plan to nationalize healthcare, Massachusetts voters elected Republican Scott Brown to the Senate. Brown was elected because he pledged to block Obamacare in the US Senate.
Rather than heed the voters’ message and abandon his plans, Obama abandoned the voters.
Instead of accepting his defeat, Obama changed the rules of the game and bypassed the Senate.
So it is safe to assume that for the next two years, Obama will do everything he can to bypass Congress and govern by executive orders and regulations. Although much can be done in this fashion, Congress’s control of the purse strings will check his domestic agenda.
In matters of foreign policy, however, Obama will be less burdened by – but not immune – to congressional oversight. We can therefore expect him to devote far more energy to foreign affairs in the next two years than he devoted in the last two years.
This bodes ill for Israel. Since entering office, Obama has shown that his primary foreign policy goal is to remake the US’s relationship with the Muslim world. He has also repeatedly demonstrated that compelling Israel to make concessions to the Palestinians and empowering international institutions that seek to delegitimize Israel are his preferred means of advancing this goal.
To date, Obama’s demands on Israel have focused on blocking construction and delegitimizing Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria and Jewish neighborhoods in Jerusalem. And as far as he is concerned, Israel’s response to his demands to date has been unsatisfactory. In light of this, at a minimum we can expect that in the immediate aftermath of next Tuesday’s elections, Obama will deliberately provoke a new crisis in US relations with Israel over Jewish building in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria.
But of course, this isn’t his only option. Indeed, he has nearly unlimited options for making life unpleasant for Israel. Obama doesn’t even have to be the one to provoke the next crisis. He can simply take advantage of crises that the Palestinians provoke.
THE PALESTINIANS are threatening to provoke two such crises in the next several months. First, Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas is threatening to ask the UN Security Council to pass a resolution declaring all Israeli communities beyond the 1949 armistice lines illegal and requiring the expulsion of the 450,000 Israeli Jews who live in them.
Second, the PA’s unelected Prime Minister Salam Fayyad is threatening to declare independence without a treaty with Israel next summer.
Simply by not opposing these deeply aggressive initiatives against Israel, Obama can cause Israel enormous harm.
Other outlets for pressure include stepping up harassment of pro-Israel groups in the US, holding up the transfer of arms to Israel, pressing for the IDF to end its counterterror operations in Judea and Samaria, and expanding US financial and military support for the Palestinian army. All of these moves will doubtless be employed to varying degrees in the next two years.
This onslaught on Israel will be implemented against the backdrop of a dynamic regional strategic environment. The evolving threats that Israel faces include among other things, Iran’s acquisition of a nuclear arsenal, and Iran’s takeover of Lebanon, Gaza and Syria. Israel also faces the likelihood that instability and fanaticism will engulf Egypt after President Hosni Mubarak dies and that Jordan will be destabilized after US forces vacate Iraq.
Over the next two years, Israel will be required to contend with these developing threats in profound ways. And over the next two years, all of Israel’s actions aimed at mitigating these threats will need to be taken with the certain knowledge that the country will be in and out of crises with the Obama administration throughout. Whatever military actions Israel will be required to take will have to be timed to coincide with lulls in Obama-provoked crises.
The one good thing about the challenge Obama presents to Israel is that it is a clear cut challenge. The Scott Brown precedent coupled with Obama’s track record on Israel demonstrate that Obama will not modify his anti-Israel agenda to align with political realities at home, and there is nothing that Israel can do that will neutralize Obama’s hostility.
By the same token, the massive support Israel enjoys among the incoming Republican majority in the House of Representatives is a significant resource. True, the Republicans will not enjoy the same power to check presidential power in foreign affairs as they will have in domestic policy. But their control over the House of Representatives will enable them to shape public perceptions of international affairs and mitigate administration pressure on Israel by opening up new outlets for discourse and defunding administration initiatives.
Against this backdrop, Israel must craft policies that maximize its advantage on Capitol Hill and minimize its vulnerability to the White House. Specifically, Israel should adopt three basic policy lines. First, Israel should request that US military assistance to the IDF be appropriated as part of the Defense Department’s budget instead of the State Department’s foreign aid budget where it is now allocated.
This change is important for two reasons. First, US military assistance to Israel is not welfare. Like US military assistance to South Korea, which is part of the Pentagon’s budget, US military assistance to Israel is a normal aspect of routine relations between the US and its strategic allies. Israel is one of the US’s most important strategic allies and it should be treated like the US’s other allies are treated and not placed in the same basket as impoverished states in Africa.
Second, this move is supported by the Republicans. Rep. Eric Cantor, who will likely be elected Republican Majority Leader, has already stated his interest in moving military assistance to Israel to the Pentagon budget. The Republicans wish to move aid to Israel to the Pentagon’s budget because that assistance is the most popular item on the US foreign aid budget. Not wishing to harm Israel, Republicans have been forced to approve the foreign aid budget despite the fact that it includes aid to countries like Sudan and Yemen that they do not wish to support.
When the government announces its request, it should make clear that in light of Israel’s economic prosperity, Israel intends to end its receipt of military assistance from the US within five years. Given the Republicans’ commitment to fiscal responsibility, this is a politically sensible move. More importantly, it is a strategically critical move. Obama’s hostility demonstrates clearly that Israel must not be dependent on US resupply of military platforms in time of war.
The second policy direction Israel must adopt involves stepping up its efforts to discredit and check the Palestinian political war against it. Today the Palestinians are escalating their bid to delegitimize Israel by expanding their offensive against Israel in international organizations like the UN and the International Criminal Court and by expanding their operations in states like Britain that are hostile to Israel.
Israel must move aggressively to discredit all groups and individuals that participate in these actions, and cooperate with its allies who share its aim of weakening them. For instance, Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, who is expected to be elected chairwoman of the House Foreign Relations Committee, has been seeking to curtail US funding to UN organizations like UNRWA whose leaders support Hamas and whose organizational goal is Israel’s destruction.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and his ministers must lead the charge discrediting groups like UNRWA, the ICC and the UN Human Rights Council. Since the Obama administration seeks to empower all of these organizations, at a minimum, such an Israeli policy will embolden Obama’s political opponents to block his policies by curtailing US funding of these bodies.
The Palestinians’ threats to declare independence and define Israeli communities as illegal are clear attempts on their part to shape the post-peace process international landscape. Given their diplomatic strength and Israel’s diplomatic weakness, it is reasonable for the Palestinians to act as they are.
But two can play this game.
ISRAEL IS not without options. These options are rooted in its military control on the ground, Netanyahu’s political strength at home, and popular support for Israel in the US.
Israel should prepare its own unilateral actions aimed at shaping the post-Oslo international agenda. It should implement these actions the moment the Palestinians carry through on their threats. For instance, the day the UN Security Council votes on a resolution to declare Israeli communities in Judea and Samaria and Israeli neighborhoods in Jerusalem illegal, Israel should announce it is applying Israeli law to either all of Judea and Samaria, or to the large Israeli population centers and to the Jordan Valley.
If properly timed and orchestrated, such a move by Israel could fundamentally reshape the international discourse on the Middle East in Israel’s favor. Certainly it will empower Israel’s allies in the US and throughout the world to rally to its side.
The challenge that Washington now poses to Israel is not unprecedented. Indeed for Netanyahu it is familiar.
During his first tenure as prime minister, Netanyahu faced a similar predicament with the Clinton administration. In October 1998, thenpresident Bill Clinton was about to be impeached. The Republicans stood poised to expand their control over the House of Representatives. Paralyzed domestically, Clinton turned to Israel. He placed enormous pressure on Netanyahu to agree to further land concessions to Yasser Arafat in Judea and Samaria. In what became the Wye Memorandum, Clinton forced Netanyahu to agree to massive concessions in exchange for which Clinton agreed to free Jonathan Pollard from prison.
At the time, Israel’s allies in Washington enjoined Netanyahu not to succumb to Clinton’s pressure. They argued that in his weakened state, Clinton had limited capacity to harm Netanyahu. Moreover, they warned that by caving to his pressure, Netanyahu would strengthen Clinton and guarantee that he would double down on Israel.
In the event, Netanyahu spurned Israel’s allies and bent to Clinton’s will. For his part, Clinton reneged on his pledge to release Pollard.
Netanyahu’s rightist coalition partners were appalled by his behavior. They bolted his coalition in protest and his government fell. Rather than stand by Netanyahu for his concessions, Clinton and the Israeli Left joined hands to defeat him in the 1999 elections.
The lesson Netanyahu learned from this experience was that he cannot trust the political Right to stand by him. While not unreasonable, this was not the main lesson from his experience. The larger point is that Netanyahu must not delude himself into believing that by falling into the arms of the Left he will win its support.
The post-election Obama administration will make the lives of Israel’s leaders unpleasant. But Netanyahu and his ministers are not powerless in the grip of circumstances. They have powerful allies and supporters in Washington and the confidence of the Israeli people. These are formidable assets.
5a) Obama's Not So Hidden Agenda
By Frank Gaffney
Earlier this year, President Obama drove U.S.-Israeli relations--to use one of President Obama's oft-employed analogies--into a ditch. Arguably, ties between the two countries were never more strained than last Spring when Mr. Obama serially insulted the elected leader of Israel, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, vilified his country and tried to euchre it into making territorial, political and other ill-advised concessions to Arabs determined as ever to destroy the Jewish State. Unfortunately, what the President has in mind for Israel after the election next week will make his previous treatment of the Jewish State look like the good old days.
To be sure, ties between the United States and Israel - far and away America's most important and loyal friend in the Middle East - have improved lately from the nadir to which Mr. Obama plunged them since he took office. That has nothing to do, however, with a change of heart or agenda on the part of the President and his administration.
Rather, it is a reflection of a cynical calculation forced upon the Obama White House by its panicked congressional allies. Already laboring under the backbreaking burden of their association with a president and his agenda that have become huge liabilities, Democrats on Capitol Hill faced wholesale defections of their Jewish constituents and funders if their party's leader persisted in his assault on Israel. Public letters and private conversations had the desired effect: Barack Obama began treating his Israeli counterpart with a modicum of respect and the optics of a restarted peace process - however shortlived or doomed - helped conjur up an image of a renewed partnership between the two nations.
Make no mistake about it, though: Once the 2010 elections are behind him, it is a safe bet that President Obama will revert to form by once again exhibiting an unmistakable and ruthless determination to bend Israel to his will.
Worse yet, he will be able to take advantage of a vehicle for effecting the so-called "two state solution," no matter how strenuously Israel and its friends in Washington object: The Palestinians will simply unilaterally declare themselves a state and ask for international recognition - and Mr. Obama will accede to that request.
A number of the particulars involved in this gambit are unclear at the moment. For example, will the Palestinians announce the borders of their state to be the 1967 cease-fire lines, in which case large Israeli population centers (defiled as "settlements") will be inside a nation that is certain to be, to use Hitler's phrase, judenrein (free of Jews)? How will the Hamas-stan of Gaza be connected to the currently PLO-run West Bank - in a way that will make them "contiguous" without bisecting the Jewish state and ensuring that Hamas does not take over the rest of the so-called "Palestinian authority"?
Also unclear is precisely how Obama will handle the sticky issue of extending U.S. recognition of Palestine. Will he want to parallel Harry Truman's direct and immediate endorsement of the establishment of Israel in 1948? Or will he do it more disingenuously, as former UN Ambassador John Bolton speculated in the Wall Street Journal last week, by having the United States abstain from an approving vote by the United Nations Security Council. The hope behind the latter would be that Team Obama and its partisans will somehow avoid retribution from Israel's friends, both Democrats and others, both here and abroad.
The truth is that, either way, Mr. Obama will have dealt Israel a potentially mortal blow. Without control of the high ground and water aquifers of the West Bank, the Jewish state is simply indefensible and unsustainable.
Some may suggest that international forces (perhaps led by the United States) should be deployed in the areas Jews have historically known as Judea and Samaria so as to ensure that they are not used to harm Israelis in the low-lying areas to the west.
We have seen how such arrangements work in practice in Lebanon, though-- which is to say not well.
In southern Lebanon, UN "peacekeepers" have merely wound up protecting Israel's enemies, notably Hezbollah, as such foes of both the Jewish State and our own have amassed immense amounts of missiles and other arms and prepared to resume hostilities against Israel at a moment of that Iranian-backed terrorist group's choosing (or, more precisely, that of their sponsors in Tehran.) The same is certain to eventuate in the West Bank as paramilitary forces the United States has foolishly trained and equipped become a standing army and fall under the sway of Hamas.
Such a "two-state solution" will make another regional war vastly more likely, not prevent it. Yet, the Obama administration is committed to pursuing that goal as Secretary of State Hillary Clinton made excrutiatingly clear in a pandering speech to the Americah Task Force on Palestine last week.
Among other ominous comments, she declared that "the World Bank recently reported that if the Palestinian Authority maintains its momentum in building institutions and delivering public services, it is, and I quote, ‘well-positioned for the establishment of a state at any point in the near future.'" She seemed determined in particular to emphasize the last seven words.
Voters need to know now whether President Obama and those in Congress who support his agenda are determined to help Israel's enemies destroy her - not find out that is the case after the elections.
6) A Crossroads Election
By Thomas Sowell
Most elections are about particular policies, particular scandals or particular personalities. But these issues don't mean as much this year-- not because they are not important, but because this election is a crossroads election, one that can decide what path this country will take for many years to come.
Runaway "stimulus" spending, high unemployment and ObamaCare are all legitimate and important issues. It is just that freedom and survival are more important.
For all its sweeping and scary provisions, ObamaCare is not nearly as important as the way it was passed. If legislation can become laws passed without either the public or the Congress knowing what is in those laws, then the fundamental principle of a free, self-governing people is completely undermined.
Some members of Congress who voted for ObamaCare, and who are now telling us that they realize this legislation has flaws which they intend to correct, are missing the point.
The very reason for holding hearings on pending legislation, listening to witnesses on all sides of the issue, and having Congressional debates that will be reported and commented on in the media, is so that problems can be explored and alternatives considered before the legislation is voted into law.
Rushing ObamaCare into law too fast for anyone to have read it served no other purpose than to prevent this very process from taking place. The rush to pass this law that would not take effect until after the next two elections simply cut the voters out of the loop-- and that is painfully close to ruling by decree.
Other actions and proposals by this administration likewise represent moves in the direction of arbitrary rule, worthy of a banana republic, with only a mocking facade of freedom.
These include threats against people who simply choose to express opinions counter to administration policy, such as a warning to an insurance company that there would be "zero tolerance" for "misinformation" when the insurance company said that ObamaCare would create costs that force up premiums.
Zero tolerance for the right of free speech guaranteed by the Constitution?
This warning comes from an administration with arbitrary powers that can impose ruinous costs on a given business.
Those who are constantly telling us that our economic problems are caused by not enough "regulation" never distinguish between regulation which simply enforces known rules, as contrasted with regulation that gives arbitrary powers to the government to force others to knuckle under to demands that have nothing to do with the ostensible purposes of the regulation.
As more businesses reveal that they are considering no longer buying health insurance for their employees, as a result of higher costs resulting from ObamaCare legislation, the administration has announced that it can grant waivers that reduce these costs.
But the power to grant waivers is the power to withhold waivers-- an arbitrary power that can impose millions of dollars in costs on businesses that the administration doesn't like.
Recent proposals from the Obama administration to force disclosure of the names of people who sponsor election ads would likewise open all who disagree with Obama to retaliation by the government itself, as well as by community activists and others.
History tells us where giving government one arbitrary power after another leads. It is like going into a Venus fly-trap, which is easy to enter and nearly impossible to get out of.
The headstrong, know-it-all willfulness of this administration, which threatens our freedom at home, also threatens our survival in the international jungle, because Obama seems determined to do nothing that will stop Iran from going nuclear.
The Obama administration goes through all sorts of charades at the U.N. and signs international agreements on sanctions that have been watered down to the point where they are not about to bring Iran's nuclear weapons program to a halt. The purpose is not to stop Iran but to stop the American people from realizing what Obama is doing or not doing.
We have a strange man in the White House. This election is a crossroads, because either his power will be curbed by depriving him of his huge Congressional majorities or he will continue on a road that jeopardizes both our freedom and our survival.
7)Obama Needs An Enemy
By Peter Beinart
The country may be down on the president. But compared to what? Wait till people get a better look at John Boehner and his band of corporate fat cats. Peter Beinart on the good news for Democrats. Plus, midterm predictions from the Election Oracle.
Amid the misery of the moment, here’s something Democrats can look forward to: President Obama is about to get his foil. He’s needed one throughout his career. In 2007, it was the contrast with Hillary Clinton that accentuated Obama’s freshness and authenticity. In 2008, it was during the presidential debates—where McCain looked erratic and uninformed and Obama looked analytical and centered—that Obama put the race away. In 2009 and 2010, by contrast, Obama has had no one to contrast himself with except for George W. Bush, and that stopped working long ago.
He’s remained, for all his troubles, far more popular than Congress. But with Congress in Democratic hands, he hasn’t been able to wield that contrast to his benefit. Instead of a political foil, Congress has provided political baggage. In passing legislation, Nancy Pelosi has proved masterful. But politically, she owns a favorability rating of 15 percent, according to this week’s New York Times, which helps explain why Republican candidates rarely utter the president’s name without mentioning hers as well.
Next week, however, things will change. A lot of Americans are about to be introduced to John Boehner and it’s unlikely they’ll like what they see. Partly, that’s because congressional leaders are usually unpopular. They’re sausage-makers, practitioners of an art that most Americans despise. And they’re rarely good on TV, which is not surprising given that they’ve been elevated within their parties because of their skills behind closed doors.
But Boehner is a particularly tough sell. Just as Pelosi, as a wealthy San Franciscan, confirmed popular stereotypes about Democrats as the party of the cultural elite, Boehner—with his coterie of golf-playing, cigar-chomping lobbyist buddies—confirms popular stereotypes about Republicans as the party of corporate fat cats. Republicans may hope that the public, having just voted overwhelmingly for their side, will be inclined to show its leaders some love. But that’s not what the polling suggests. Disapproval of Congress, according to the Times, is an amazing 76 percent, the highest figure ever recorded, which helps explain why Republicans are about to win big. But just as amazingly, the Republican Party’s approval rating is five points lower than that of the Democrats. What that means is that putting the GOP in control is unlikely to improve Americans’ opinion of the legislative branch.
House Minority Leader John Boehner holds up a copy of the GOP agenda, "A Pledge to America", Sterling, Va., September 23,2010. (J. Scott Applewhite / AP Photo)
• The 11 Hottest Midterm Races to WatchAngered by the lousy economy, and eager to lash out at the people running Washington, many independent voters who backed Obama will pull the lever for the GOP. But there’s not much ideological content to their partisan shift. According to the Times poll, Americans have no more confidence that Republicans can create jobs than Democrats can. Although not wild about Obama’s health-care plan, they don’t want Congress to repeal it. And while Americans give the GOP a huge edge on cutting the budget deficit, they vehemently oppose cutting entitlements like Social Security, which is the only big conservative idea about how to actually get the deficit down.
A lot of Americans are about to be introduced to John Boehner and it’s unlikely they’ll like what they see.
In this economy, Obama’s never going to be wildly popular. But he doesn’t have to be; he just has to be more popular than the other guy. Starting next week, for the first time in two years, he’ll have that other guy. The first time Obama meets Speaker Boehner, expect him to smile.
Peter Beinart, senior political writer for The Daily Beast, is associate professor of journalism and political science at City University of New York and a senior fellow at the New America Foundation. His new book, The Icarus Syndrome: A History of American Hubris, is now available from HarperCollins.
7a)Obamacare Endgame: Doctors Will be Fined or Jailed if they Put Patients First
By Dr. Elaina George
If Obamacare is completely implemented, doctors will no longer be practicing medicine. They will instead become the drones tasked with deciding who gets the meager healthcare crumbs doled out by the bureaucrats who have the ultimate power over patient life and death. Those who are deemed to have illnesses that require treatments which are not cost effective can expect a one way ticket to a hospice.
Like so many bills passed by Congress, there was a hidden provision in the Stimulus bill passed in 2009. It spends 1.1 billion dollars to create an important piece of the framework for the healthcare bill called the Coordinating Council on Comparative Effectiveness Research. It is based on the false premise that doctors in consultation with their patients don’t have the ability to make the right healthcare choices (see executive summary). The council consists of 15 people appointed by the President.
They all have one thing in common–they are all isolated from day to day patient care; and therefore, are insulated from the real practice of the art of medicine. It makes it easy to see patients as a cost center to be controlled. With views of members like Dr Emanuel, who champions the complete-lives system, it is hard to ignore the probability that senior citizens, those with chronic illness, and the very young will be on the outside looking in. This council is another example of the people of this country being told by the government that it knows what is best for us.
The framework set up by the stimulus bill merely set the stage for the implementation found in the healthcare reform bill. How can the government get doctors to participate in Obamacare thereby a) willingly destroying the doctor patient relationship, and b) betraying their Hippocratic Oath to provide treatments that they deem to be effective? Simple – fear and intimidation.
A second board created by the stimulus bill called The National Coordinator for Health Information Technology “will determine treatment at the time and place of care”. They are charged with deciding the course of treatment for the diagnosis given by the doctor. Now it becomes obvious why there has been a big push towards the implementation of universal electronic medical record use. It becomes a tool to completely control the physician and the patient. Those physicians and hospitals that choose to practice individualized patient care in consultation with their patients will be punished because they are not “meaningful users of the system over time.” Beginning January 1, 2013 penalties for doing the right thing for a patient will cost the doctor $100,000 for the first offense and jail for the second offense. This will have a chilling effect and may be the straw that completely breaks the foundation of good medicine – the doctor patient relationship.
46% of physiciansin a survey by The New England Journal of Medicine stated that they would leave the practice of medicine if Obamacare was implemented. This will only further decrease the quality of healthcare when the 30 million more people enter the system. Maybe that’s why there is a big push in the healthcare bill to increase the number of other providers such as physician assistants and nurse practitioners. There is no question that rationing will become our future. If you add 30 million more people into a system with fewer resources how could you possibly avoid rationing? Perhaps those members of Congress who passed this nightmare don’t care since they made sure that it wouldn’t apply to them.
8)� I asked God for a bike, but I know God doesn't work that way. So I stole a bike and asked for forgiveness.
� Do not argue with an idiot. He will drag you down to his level and beat you with experience.
� The last thing I want to do is hurt you. But it's still on the list.
� Light travels faster than sound. This is why some people appear bright until you hear them speak.
� If I agreed with you we'd both be wrong.
� We never really grow up, we only learn how to act in public.
� War does not determine who is right - only who is left.
� Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit; Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.
� The early bird might get the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese.
� Evening news is where they begin with 'Good evening', and then proceed to tell you why it isn't.
� To steal ideas from one person is plagiarism. To steal from many is research.
� How is it one careless match can start a forest fire, but it takes a whole box to start a campfire?
� I thought I wanted a career, turns out I just wanted pay checks.
� Whenever I fill out an application, in the part that says "If an emergency, notify:" I put "DOCTOR".
� I didn't say it was your fault, I said I was blaming you.
� Why does someone believe you when you say there are four billion stars, but check when you say the paint is wet?
� Women will never be equal to men until they can walk down the street with a bald head and a beer gut, and still think they are sexy.
� Why do Americans choose from just two people to run for president and 50 for Miss America ?
� Behind every successful man is his woman. Behind the fall of a successful man is usually another woman.
� A clear conscience is usually the sign of a bad memory.
� You do not need a parachute to skydive. You only need a parachute to skydive twice.
� The voices in my head may not be real, but they have some good ideas!
� Always borrow money from a pessimist. He won't expect it back.
� A diplomat is someone who can tell you to go to hell in such a way that you will look forward to the trip.
� Hospitality: making your guests feel like they're at home, even if you wish they were.
� Some cause happiness wherever they go. Others whenever they go.
� There's a fine line between cuddling, and holding someone down so they can't get away.
� I used to be indecisive. Now I'm not sure.
� I always take life with a grain of salt... plus a slice of lemon, and a shot of tequila.
� When tempted to fight fire with fire, remember that the Fire Department usually uses water.
� You're never too old to learn something stupid.
� To be sure of hitting the target, shoot first and call whatever you hit the target.
� Nostalgia isn't what it used to be.
� Some people hear voices. Some see invisible people. Others have no imagination whatsoever.
� A bus is a vehicle that runs twice as fast when you are after it as when you are in it.
� Change is inevitable, except from a vending machine.