Thursday, March 10, 2011

Obama Returned Churchill's Bust - Remember?

Response from a dear friend and fellow memo reader to my memo entitled:

"Mindless Pavlovian Trifecta: GW, Palin and Tea Party!"


I am tired of the argument that, " if we do not help in - fill in the blank - the world ( Arab, etc ) will see us as weak ". Give me a break. What have we shown by being in Afghanistan for, now, 10 years; and Iraq; and Bosnia, and saving Kuwait. And what the hell do you call, if not support, keeping almost 200,000 troops in Germany, Korea, Okinawa etc., etc. Get thee guys ( and their families in most cases ) home now.

These are some of the things which have led us to the brink of bankruptcy. I say, " No More ". Too many are already wounded, damaged or have died. And our support with troops, 65 years after the War in Germany is, well, Nuts.

These arguments are false and hollow and have no longer a place in the dialogue

I responded that I understand his pique and I tend to agree but where do we withdraw from, how far do we take it, who fills the vacuum and what will be the consequences of Isolationism? It is one thing to be judicious and wise in the use of one's force but like it or not the West sees us as their defender and it would be nice if we allowed them to pay the price for their own defense but if they did not it could cost us more in the long run.

We have selectively lived with and ignored mass murder before so maybe that is the answer.

You decide!

I wrote my above response before reading Henninger's op ed (See 1 below.)
It will be only a matter of time before Big Satan gets the same treatment from the radical Jihadists as Israel. The Klan was investigated years ago now its time for other dangerous hate persons/groups to get their overdue inspection.

There is a way for the American Muslim community to avoid the hue and cry of their many spokespersons - start speaking out against their own who would kill and maim, who hate our country and probably all Western civilization.

As long as Holder and Obama are in office American Muslims should have little to be concerned about because their sympathies seem aligned with the general American Muslim community as they should be.

Would it not be equally nice if Obama and Holder felt the same about the plight of hard pressed Arizonans?

But then you can't have everything.(See 2, 2a, 2b and 2c below.)

Democrats have a weeper too! Is theirs sincere? You decide!(See 2d below.)
Believe my reticence not to get hyped about the nascent economic recovery is getting validated by recent market action.

I spoke with a dear and long time friend and client yesterday and try as we could to put a positive spin on reports from the administration we could not, in good conscience.

Inflation is eroding buying power. The dollar continues sinking like it is made of lead rather than paper. Gas prices are fueling more inflation. The president does not seem to have a strategy, good or bad, so the vacuum this creates will be filled with growing despair, frustration and uncertainty.

I have written in previous memos: 'I believe The Saudi Monarchy is an anachronism in the 21st Century and I do not see how they prevail against growing "street people" being supported by Iran.'

I also believe radicals will assume control of the governments of the various Arab nations now in play.

Obama is basically giving Iran "A Pass Go" card vis a vis their nuclear ambitions. (See previous memo.)

Tom Gross of PIMCO just liquidated billions of various U.S government debt instruments from his portfolios believing interest rates will be rising before too long.

I also recently wrote about what I termed the "fiscal baton." What happens when the Fed decides it is up to the private sector to carry the ball as they retreat from pumping liquidity into the markets and creating bigger future problems that will surely come home to roost?

Federal Reserve soft landings are the talk of dreams.

For the moment cash reserves and ETF shorts remain decent options.

That said, I still favor the energy, health, utility (for income) sectors and a few selected financial and technology related stocks but see no pressing need to do anything. I am warming again to Coca Cola but even that idea can sit on the shelf until things resolve themselves and that could take quite a while.
Is soft evil creeping into our culture and changing the very face of our nation?

You decide. (See 3 below.)
Yoram Ettinger writes an op ed that is correct up to a point. I suspect the majority of Americans have a degree of admiration for Israel, understand its difficult geographical plight and see this nation as a trusted ally of America.

I also believe Ettinger is naive in thinking that Obama would not throw Israel under the bus. Notwithstanding Obama's soothing words of support, I believe they are meaningless and particularly this could prove so because of our nation's deficit crisis and the questionable benefits derived from our financial support of many so-called 'allies' who take but give little in return. Israel may not be among that group but 'babies do get thrown out with the bath water' when a 'one size fits all' mentality takes over and becomes the determinant force driving policy.
Even those who may support Israel may not fully understand the two way street relationship because they only see foreign aid dollars going out and nothing in return because the pay back is more subtle - Marine bases, intelligence, technology co-operation , unflagging U.N. support. These actions do not carry direct dollar signs.

Ettiinger seems to forget Obama returned Churchill's bust. (See 4 and 4a below.)
Even a British legislator warns us about our own president and his desire to 'Europeanize' us. (See 5 below.)
Krauthammer laments that Social Security rests under a "Broke Back Mountain of Debt."

I wrote about my proposed solution several memos ago but also pointed out it would come to naught because Obama hasn't the guts to touch the third rail. GW tried and even members of his own party would not support him. Certainly Democrats are no more trustworthy or courageous. (See 6 below.)
1)Is U.S. Democracy Just Talk? The U.S. needs to produce more than rhetoric on behalf of 10 active democracy protests in the Middle East.

"America is always talking about democracy and we want democracy to come to Bahrain. . . . We want them to practice what they preach, that's all." –Mohammed Ansari, Bahraini

Sometimes it's a heavy load, being America.

And it won't stop unless some day the United States finds a reason to unburden itself of the heavy lift posed by the world's aspiring peoples. With the Middle East protests, we may be there.

Less than a week into the massive Cairo street demonstrations, a prominent U.S. foreign policy expert pushed back against supporting them: "No one really knows a great deal about the protesters."

When all at once the people of Libya, Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen, Jordan, Morocco, Oman, Bahrain, Algeria and even Iran (a Feb. 20 protest by tens of thousands was barely noticed) summoned the courage to take to the streets for greater freedom, the U.S. foreign-policy establishment seemed like stunned deer staring into the incandescent images on television and wondering, Who are these people?

The U.S. needs to produce more than rhetoric on behalf of 10 active democracy protests in the Middle East.

Writing on behalf of de minimis support for the Libyans in these pages Tuesday, Richard Haass, the president of the Council on Foreign Relations, said: "It is one thing to acknowledge Moammar Gadhafi as a ruthless despot, which he has demonstrated himself to be. But doing so does not establish the democratic bona fides of those who oppose him." A little digging surely would find something similar said in 1770 about the Massachusetts rabble.

The we-have-no-clue-who-they-are excuse is utterly lame. Scholars at places like the American Enterprise Institute, the Carnegie Middle East Center and elsewhere have been writing in detail for years about these people, pleading with the policy establishment to recognize how volatile the "stability" status quo had become.

It's clear, however, from the tortured, unfocused U.S. reaction to these events that policy toward these nations below the level of kings had become a second-level priority. How did so many people become an afterthought?

The reason, in a phrase, is the Arab-Israeli peace process. It sucked the oxygen out of thinking about the Middle East. With every secretary of state dutifully saddling up to solve the endless riddle, the "peace process" reduced everything and everyone in the region to spear-carriers for this obsession. The populations of unemployed youth building and festering across the region became an inconsequential blur, an Arab lumpenproletariat. "We don't know who they are." And whoever they were had to wait until some U.S. president harvested another Nobel Prize by "solving" the Palestinian problem.

Well, they didn't wait. They exploded in January 2011.

None of this is to gainsay the interests of the world economy in the region. But America's leaders should not let that become an excuse to forget who they are and where they came from. Soviet-era dissidents have said and written that among the things that sustained them was that their heads were filled with the ideas drawn from America's freedoms.

What a mess the Founding Fathers and Continental Army made for the grinders at the State Department, this week producing exquisite calibrations of America's interests. We now read in news analyses and opinion columns long lists of reasons why helping the Libyan rebels would backfire. What this means is that U.S. intervention won't come until, as in Srebrenica or Kosovo, Gadhafi's killings escalate from mere slaughter to mass murder. Europe acquiesced in the Balkan genocide, but the U.S. could not, an important distinction of global status.

What is happening here is not just another crisis to work through the bureaucracies until the storm passes. The stakes for the U.S. in how these uprisings are resolved extend beyond the Middle East. They've put on the table the core arguments the U.S. will need to mount in its defense against the competitive challenge of China's market authoritarianism. If U.S. timidity is seen as U.S. acquiescence to a system of "reformed" Middle East autocracies, the debate between the American and Chinese models is over. The world's people will see, rightly, that the Chinese are winning the argument, and the U.S. will spend the next 50 years watching other nations back away from its system.

"Defining moment" may be an overworked phrase, but this one qualifies. With these protests, the trains of history have left the station. The U.S. needs to issue a more public, unequivocal statement of support for authentic representative government. And find an active policy to go with it.

Only a U.S. president can lead this fight. But he has to (truly) believe in it. There is a school of thought, popular around the Obama foreign-policy team, that the world would be better off without the myth of American exceptionalism and burdens like these that come with it. If this government can't summon more than rhetoric or a U.N. resolution on behalf of 10 up-and-running democratic movements in the Middle East, that exceptionalism will wither. I'm guessing the world won't be better for it.
2)Hamas Chief Renews Call for Jihad Against Israel

Hamas chief Khaled Meshaal on Sunday praised the political changes that are taking place in Egypt, Agence France Presse reported. Meshaal said that the revolutions breathed new life back into the terrorist group’s agenda to continue its jihad against the Jewish state. “The first step (to liberating Jerusalem from Israeli occupation) is refusal to negotiate with Israel... and to establish a new, reconciled Palestinian position based on jihad,” he said. The Iranian-backed terrorist group is hopeful that a new Egyptian government will permit weapons transfers from the Sinai Peninsula into the Gaza Strip and renounce the peace agreement that Cairo signed with Israel in 1979.

2a)Muslim Brotherhood Leader Prays for Israel’s Destruction

A prominent member of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood this week became the first member of the Islamist group to visit Iran, where he praised Tehran’s leadership and denounced Israel, The Jerusalem Post reported Tuesday. “Egypt and the world of Islam as a whole need leaders like President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad,” said Kamal El Helbawy. “Every night when I go to bed, I pray to wake up the next day to see Israel is wiped off the map.” El Helbawy is considered the Muslim Brotherhood’s face in the West and called for Egypt to become “a true Islamic state.” The group is Egypt’s best organized political faction and is hoping new constitutional reforms in the country will allow it to participate in parliamentary elections.

2b)The Homegrown Terror Hearings.
Americans deserve a calm, honest appraisal of the threat.

Congressional hearings on the Islamist terror threat inside the U.S. begin today, and our friends on the left are busy portraying them as the McCarthy hearings and Palmer Raids rolled into one. What a pity. Terrorism experts have been warning for years that future attacks will be largely homegrown, and Americans are entitled to an assessment of how serious a threat this is.

Whether that's what we'll get today remains to be seen: The witnesses called by Representative Peter King's Committee on Homeland Security include Minnesota Democrat Keith Ellison, the first Muslim-American Member of Congress; L.A. Sheriff Leroy Baca; and Melvin Bledsoe, an American whose son, Carlos, converted to Islam and murdered a soldier at a recruiting station in Arkansas in June 2009. None of these witnesses is incendiary, and the hearings are not an exercise in naming names.

What they can be is an opportunity for some honesty. Since 9/11, there have been more than 50 known cases, involving about 130 individuals, in which terrorist plots were hatched on American soil. These include plots to blow up the Brooklyn Bridge in New York, an office tower in Dallas, a federal court house in Illinois, the Washington, D.C. metro, and the trans-Alaska pipeline. Most of these schemes were foiled at an early stage, though the Times Square bomber failed only at the moment of ignition. The worst attack was Major Nidal Hasan's November 2009 murder of 13 soldiers at Fort Hood.

In a useful report published by the Rand Corporation last year, terrorism expert Brian Michael Jenkins notes that the plotters were a "diverse group" that included Caucasians, African-Americans and Hispanics as well as immigrants (or their children) from about 20 countries. Yet all but two of the plotters were Muslim, and those two sought to offer their services to al Qaeda.

So much, then, for the notion that it is bigoted for Mr. King to focus on Muslim radicalization. This is where the current threat lies. As Deputy National Security Adviser Denis McDonough pointed out in a speech last week, al Qaeda operatives "make videos, create Internet forums, even publish online magazines, all for the express purpose of trying to convince Muslim-Americans to reject their country and attack their fellow Americans."

Nor is it invidious to examine how Muslim-American communities have responded to radical Islamists in their midst. In this battle, they are the nation's first line of defense, and Americans ought to know how the line can be strengthened. In 2007, the Los Angeles Times reported that "few if any of the arrests [in cases of homegrown terrorism] resulted from a private citizen reporting suspicious activity," and recent terrorist cases seem to have been brought about as the result of tips from paid informers and sting operations. That approach has largely succeeded.

But as Mr. Jenkins notes, "relatives and friends are often more likely than the authorities to know when someone is turning dangerously radical and heading toward self-destruction." We think most Muslim-Americans would agree that community vigilance is preferable to constant police surveillance.

The real catastrophe for Muslim Americans would be homegrown attacks that could be exploited by those, especially some on the American right, who claim that Islam is itself inherently violent. Or that all Muslim immigration must be stopped. Done right, Mr. King's hearings can dispel much populist misinformation.

The reality is that jihadism in the U.S. remains extremely rare in a Muslim-American community of some three million. Facing up to its threat without politically correct obfuscations is a government duty. So, too, is respect for notions of tolerance and fair play that have allowed people of all faiths, Muslims not least, to flourish in America.

2b)Compelling Testimony, Political Theater at Radicalization Hearing
By Steven Emerson

Ignoring and sometimes belittling testimony from relatives of young Muslims who were lured into terrorism, Democrats on the House Homeland Security Committee spent most of Thursday's hearing on Muslim radicalization repeating talking points

When members of Minneapolis' Somali community realized their sons had disappeared and likely gone back to Africa to join a jihadist group, mosque leaders told them to keep quiet.

If you go to the FBI, you could end up in Guantanamo Bay with alleged terrorists, some were told. If authorities learn about it, mosques in America might be shut down in response. You, the worried relatives were told, will pay for that in the afterlife by being damned with "eternal fire and hell."

Abdirizak Bihi's nephew was among those missing. Burhan Hassan later would be killed in Somalia after joining the al-Shabaab terrorist group.

How this promising A-student grew so radical that he gave up the American dream was supposed to be the focus of a hearing Thursday before the House Homeland Security Committee. The spike in homegrown Islamist terrorism cases in recent years - driven by a targeted recruitment effort of young Muslim Americans by al-Qaida, is a concern for American law enforcement and intelligence officials.

The hearing's focus solely on Islamic radicalization generated criticism in the weeks leading up to it and throughout the more-than-four-hour proceeding.

Committee Democrats repeatedly devoted significant portions of their time to attacking the hearing's focus on Islamic radicalization. U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee of Texas wondered whether the hearing violated the First Amendment's protection of religious freedom. California Rep. Jackie Speier denigrated the panelists' experiences, calling them anecdotes that offered little from which to learn.

For all the vitriol, none of the witnesses made any sweeping generalizations about the faith of Islam or about Muslim people. Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca, who again defended the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) despite documented ties to a Hamas-support network, still commended the hearing's topic and praised fellow panelists as "incredibly important" witnesses.

Joining Bihi and Baca were Melvin Bledsoe, father of a man who claims to be an al-Qaida jihadist, and Zuhdi Jasser, founder of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy.

Bledsoe, like Bihi, described his own family tragedy. His son Carlos grew up happy and well-adjusted, until he was "manipulated and lied to" after converting to Islam by local Muslim leaders who helped him go to Yemen and study with radicals. In June 2009, Carlos Bledsoe, now called Abdulhakeem Mujahid Muhammad, opened fire at a Little Rock, Ark., Army recruiting office, killing one soldier and injuring a second.

His father testified that other "hunters" for al-Qaida and other terrorist groups are trying to recruit more Muslims to join their jihad. He repeatedly stressed that he has other Muslim relatives, whom he described as "modern, peaceful, law abiding people."

He wondered why a conversation about radicalization among Muslims like his own son generated so much angst. "It seems to me that the American people are sitting around and doing nothing about Islamic extremism, as if Carlos's story and the other stories told at these hearings aren't true. There is a big elephant in the room, but our society continues not to see it."

The nation's first Muslim-American congressman, U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn., was the most emotional, appearing to fight back tears as he described false rumors about Mohammed Salman Hamdani, a Muslim paramedic who died on 9/11.

A hearing on radicalism in general would have been acceptable, Ellison said. "When you assign their violent actions to the entire community," he said, "you assign collective blame to the entire group."

Other committee members were outwardly hostile to Chairman Peter King, R-N.Y., and to some of the witnesses. Lee of Texas said the hearing placed the Constitution "in pain" by demonizing an entire community. Oddly, she found the presence of two Muslim witnesses testifying about obstruction from organized Islamic groups - Jasser and Bihi - to be proof that Muslims indeed were cooperating with authorities.

"They are here doing what this hearing suggests they do not do," she said. "I question where are the uncooperative Muslims?"

Speier said she saw little value in the testimony because she did not consider witnesses like Jasser, Bihi and Bledsoe to be experts. "Do you have the expertise" to testify, she asked Jasser.

"That's interesting," he replied. "The theocrats ask me that all the time."

In his testimony, Jasser called for a "counter-jihad" on the Internet and in the community to stress principles of liberty against what he sees as the collectivization and victimization emphasized by Islamists.

"I appreciate the anecdotes," Speier said, "but I don't think they are very enlightening."

As the hearing was broadcast, Dawud Walid, head of the CAIR Michigan office, was posting comments on his Twitter feed equally dismissive of the witnesses:

"Bihi has basically a one person organization and is not seen as a leader by Somali-Americans."
"Somehow, I don't think Mr. Bledsoe wrote this and was approached."
"No such thing as "counter-jihad" Jasser. Jihad means Struggle. Uneducated about Islam."
CAIR attracted its own attention during the testimony. King displayed a poster published on the group's San Francisco chapter website, first reported by the Investigative Project on Terrorism, which urged Muslims to "Build a Wall of Resistance. Don't Talk to the FBI."

While CAIR officials later removed the poster and claimed it did not reflect the organization's policies, Bihi singled out CAIR for siding with local religious leaders in discrediting the relatives of the missing Somali men, calling them liars and tools out to destroy the mosque. CAIR discouraged people from talking with the FBI, he said, calling it "a slap in the face for the Somali American Muslim mothers who were knocking on doors day and night with pictures of their missing children and asking for the community to talk to law enforcement about what they know of the missing kids."

CAIR did nothing to help the families, he said. "We are isolated by Islamic organizations."

In his opening statement, King called CAIR "a discredited organization that should be rejected." U.S. Rep. Frank Wolf, R-Va., testified about the FBI's decision to cut off access to CAIR because of its documented ties to a Hamas-support network. Despite that, the group is "routinely and mistakenly elevated in the press as voice of mainstream Muslims" enjoying access to high level government officials.

Baca, who gave CAIR a full-throated and defiant endorsement during a hearing last year, seemed more subdued Thursday. He has "never had briefing from FBI what their position is," he said. His own experiences in California have been positive, but he acknowledged he could not attest to what might happen elsewhere.

At times, members were able to discuss the growing volume of homegrown Islamists terrorists. U.S. Rep. Mike McCaul, R-Texas, mentioned the repeated promotions for Army psychiatrist Nidal Malik Hasan despite displaying an obvious pattern of radicalization. It reached a crescendo in November 2009, when Hasan opened fire at a processing center at Fort Hood, killing 13 people and wounding 32 others. Hasan had been in contact with American-born cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, considered the most influential voice in radicalizing suspects in a string of terrorist plots.

"To ignore this in name of political correctness is a serious threat," McCaul said. "I am concerned there are organizations telling the community not to cooperate with the FBI."

As previous hearings have shown, the sophistication of al-Qaida's appeal to American Muslims is increasing. Whether the issue is a comfortable one or not, susceptible young Muslims will continue to be targeted with messages urging them to strike out against their homeland.

Bledsoe warned the committee that his son's experience should be a cautionary tale for policymakers. "One thing is for sure," he said, "it will happen again."

2d) Rep. Keith Ellison’s Bigotry
The congressman told a teachable story this morning. One problem: It’s untrue.
By Matthew Shaffer

This morning, Rep. Keith Ellison (Democratic-Farmer-Labor party, Minn.) appropriated a hearing on Islamic radicalism by weeping his way through a speech about whata-buncha-nasty-bigots Americans are. He chose as his case in point Mohammed Salman Hamdani, a Pakistani-born Muslim American who rushed to lower Manhattan on the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, to assist in rescue efforts, and died in the collapse of the World Trade Center. Here’s how Representative Ellison tells the story of the aftermath of his death:

After the tragedy some people tried to smear his character solely because of his Islamic faith. Some people spread false rumors and speculated that he was in league with the attackers only because he was Muslim. It was only when his remains were identified that these lies were fully exposed. Mohammed Salman Hamdani was a fellow American who gave his life for other Americans. His life should not be defined as a member of an ethnic group or a member of a religion, but as an American who gave everything for his fellow citizens.

Does Ellison’s account check out with reality?

No. It is actually pretty close to the opposite of the truth. In fact, six weeks after the September 11 attacks — before Hamdani’s remains were identified, which Ellison implies to be the turning point of public perception — Congress signed the PATRIOT Act into law with this line included: “Many Arab Americans and Muslim Americans have acted heroically during the attacks on the United States, including Mohammed Salman Hamdani, a 23-year-old New Yorker of Pakistani descent, who is believed to have gone to the World Trade Center to offer rescue assistance and is now missing.” That is, Hamdani was actually singled out for particular high honors among the thousands of victims of the September 11 attacks.

There’s little evidence of the “rumors” of which Ellison speaks, either. Poke around yourself. Go to Google and search for Mohammed Salman Hamdani’s name, using various time frames from before today’s hearings (say, in the week after the September 11 attack). You’ll discover two discordant sets of returns: none for sites and news reports accusing Hamdani of being a terrorist, and many thousands of pages honoring him as a hero while claiming that he was “widely accused” of being a terrorist.

Web pages that do source the claim that Hamndani was “widely accused” of being a terrorist typically trace back to a single report from the New York Post, dated Oct. 12, 2001, and titled “Missing — or Hiding? Mystery of NYPD Cadet from Pakistan.” The piece has been taken offline, but its content is preserved elsewhere. Here’s what the New York Post wrote:

His family distributed missing-person fliers in the fear that the 23-year- old, who is trained as an emergency medical technician, went instead to the World Trade Center to help and was killed.

But investigators for the FBI and NYPD have since questioned the family about which Internet chat rooms he visited and if he was political.

Hamdani, a graduate of Queens College with a biochemistry degree, had been in the NYPD cadet program for three years. He became “inactive” because he needed to work full time, his mother said.

Police sources said he hadn’t been to work at the NYPD since April, but he still carried official identification.

One source told the Post: “That tells me they’re not looking for this guy at the bottom of the rubble. The thing that bothers me is, if he is up to some tricks, he can walk past anybody [using the ID card].”

Hamdani’s mother, who has been in the United States for two decades, denied her son was political or a religious fundamentalist. Cops at the Midtown Tunnel reported spotting someone who looked like Hamdani yesterday morning.

So the Post reported 1) that Hamdani’s family believed he died in the WTC attacks, 2) that the FBI asked Hamdani’s mother a few background questions after a mistaken sighting, and 3) that an unnamed source felt such questioning implied guilt. No doubt, that was hard on the grieving mother. But frankly, this — a mistaken sighting, and very preliminary investigations of many people, most of whom turn out to be innocent — is the kind of thing that inevitably happens after a major terrorist attack.

After that questioning, the FBI didn’t go farther in a serious investigation, and, a week later, Hamdani was singled out for honors by the United States’ executive and legislative branches with those lines in the PATRIOT Act that immortalized his story.

Then, he was eulogized by the New York Times, had scholarship funds named after him, was honored by Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Ray Kelly (both of whom went barefoot to honor Muslim practice) at his funeral, and has been celebrated over and over again by the media.

The belief that Mohammed Salman Hamdani was a victim of anti-Muslim bigotry was never based in reality. It was manufactured by the Left as a rhetorical prop, exploited as a bludgeon against people who want to talk seriously about terrorism. If Hamdani was singled out for his faith, it would appear he was singled out for especially high honors. Most 9/11 victims were not half so celebrated as he was. Rather than suffering from apocryphal American anti-Muslim bigotry, Salman Hamdani appears to have benefited from America’s eager inclusiveness.

Americans have long seen Mohammed Salman Hamdani as a hero. Too bad Representative Ellison saw him only as a prop.

— Matthew Shaffer is a William F. Buckley Fellow at the National Review Institute
3)The Soft Evil of Barack Obama
By Stuart Schwartz

Evil. It has always been there, pushed back in the United States by American exceptionalism and the Judeo Christian traditions of what Ronald Reagan famously called -- borrowing from the Bible -- a "shining City on a hill." "God bless America," Reagan would say, emphatically and often. But God is not in fashion among our political and media elites and, with the presidency of Barack Obama, the lights of the city are dimming and evil has been drawn from the shadows.

Now we have a leader in the vanguard of a malevolence pushing into the mainstream through a thousand barely perceptible actions and words. It is tiptoeing into our culture, permeating our homes and institutions, shaping lives and expectations and quietly remaking our worldview in the radical, leftist image favored by our educated elites. Such is the evil of Barack Obama, an incredibly soft evil that threatens the future of a nation that, for all of its existence, has led the world in freedom and opportunity.

Take that, Jews. Shut up, Christians. Move over, strivers. Give it up, tradition. Individual choice, responsibility, honor -- simply words in a dictionary. All are relative, says the professor in the White House, as are your rights. We know best how to do your lives, comes the voice from a thousand of his appointees in hundreds of federal agencies. American exceptionalism? Fugedaboutit!

It is a soft evil that comes from quietly abandoning the values and traditions that naturally follow from a nation founded on the fact that God created humanity with "unalienable rights" -- so said our founders. From this flows an exceptionally American and Biblical worldview that understands the need to "act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God." Bible stuff, sure; but also the Judeo-Christian virtues that have guided our national and private lives, lived much in the breach but nevertheless honored as worthy characteristics.

Theologians tell us that it is typical of humanity to create evil by "missing the mark" in daily living. We miss the target of godly or righteous behavior in our relationships in innumerable and often minor ways: snubbing a neighbor, parking illegally, etc. But our saving grace is that we acknowledge that these transgressions, however small, are still wrong. But when we don't, when we miss the mark deliberately and as a matter of policy, then soft sin builds toward hard evil. And that is where we are with our federal government. Obama and his fellow Democrats, for example, push our children into debt, a soft evil that will grow hard when the bill comes due and whole generations are yoked to government. He promotes publically subsidized, racially selective abortions that target African-American women at three times the rate of the rest of the population, a soft evil that becomes hard when, as has happened, babies are born and then murdered, their spines snapped with scissors by a doctor paid by taxpayers.

Ironically, it was the ancient Jews who first warned that the soft evil of "mark-missing" results in the same kind of evil produced by in-your-face sin such as murder or rape. Jews have always been the canary in the coal mine, the first to take it on the chin by assuming the unenviable task of reminding the powerful that there is, indeed, a higher power -- and that evil is the inevitable result of human arrogance. Hitler and his jack-booted hordes pursued power through a hard evil that began with the Jews and continued on to eliminate significant chunks of the human race; in the Arab world, Jews were the first murdered, but recent attacks on Coptic Christians in Egypt remind us that it won't stop there.

Obama and his allies offer a softer version, one easier to ignore but heading in the same direction. The Obama leftists don't wear jackboots; instead, they shuffle in on slippers, using the power of government to softly challenge and redefine right thinking and behavior. This quiet evil is most apparent in his treatment of the Jews. As Jackie Mason put it, in this life "three things are certain: Death, taxes, and anti-Semitism." And so we have the soft anti-Semitism of Barack Obama, who says it is okay to not like the Jews...oh, I mean Israel. "Take the Jews -- please," says the Obama White House, putting a Henny Youngman face on the ugly façade of an ancient hate.

The symbolism is hard to miss. Quietly, surreptitiously, a hundred little acts of soft evil put us on the path to the hard evils of the tyrannies that plague other parts of the world. Palestinian government thugs murder both Jews and Arabs in territories littered with poverty and brutality. But it is Israel -- the prosperous and free Jewish state which welcomes Arabs -- that stands condemned as the administration unleashes what the New York Post called "a vile attack on Israel, using language far worse than anything" the notoriously anti-Semitic United Nations can dream up. At the same time, Obama ignores the vow of the Muslim Brotherhood to "kill the Jews -- to the very last one" and, instead of decrying their murderous intent, pronounces them worthy of friendship. Hard evil hates Jews; soft evil embraces their murderers.

Soft evil inevitably leaches into public life. Harvard Law professor and liberal icon Alan Dershowitz, a frequent speaker on university campuses, traces the growing hate directed at Jewish students and faculty to the willingness of Obama to embrace and thereby legitimize the hard evil of those who hate, "thus blurring the line between legitimate political criticism and illegitimate bigotry."

Such is the nature of soft evil. In international affairs, in abortion, in healthcare, in millions of new regulations and taxes, in a thousand ways and relationships the lines between unalienable rights and illegitimate policy are blurred. Soft evil whispers "power" and Obama smiles.

Take a look around this country. Outside the Beltway, we are all Jews now.

Stuart Schwartz, a frequent AT contributor, is on the faculty at Liberty University in Virginia.
4) US still on Israel’s side

Op-ed: Israel need not offer more concessions to Arabs in effort to reinforce ties with America
By Yoram Ettinger

At the end of 1989, Israel’s top Foreign Office bureaucrats argued that it was, ostensibly, losing ground in the US, due to the end of the Cold War, a supposed New World Order and Prime Minister Shamir’s dismissal of “land-for-peace.” Hence, they proposed that, in order to secure relations with the US, Israel should cede land to the Palestinians.


Poll: Americans still favorable towards Israel.
A Gallup Poll shows 63% of US public still support Israel, only 17% side with Palestinians. Israel's popularity on the rise ever since September 11 attacks

However, their assumptions were resoundingly refuted. Israel’s strategic posture was upgraded as a derivative of the New World Disorder and a series of mutual threats, such as Islamic terrorism, Iran, ballistic missiles, rogue Arab regimes, exacerbated Middle East volatility, violence and uncertainty. US-Israel strategic cooperation expanded significantly, in spite of deep disagreements over the Palestinian issue and in defiance of President Bush and Secretary of State Baker.

In 2011, despite the 1989 lessons and the 2011 seismic upheaval in Arab countries, Jerusalem again considers ceding land to the Palestinians, in order to sustain strategic cooperation with the US, under the false assumptions that US –Israel relations evolve around the Palestinian issue, that Israel-in-retreat is respected by Americans, and that Israel’s strategic standing in the US is undergoing erosion.

Thus, Gallup’s annual (February 2011) poll on American attitudes toward foreign countries highlights Israel as a favorite American ally. Israel (68%) ranks among the seven most popular countries, which include Canada, Britain, Germany, Japan, India and France, ahead of South Korea and dramatically ahead of Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Egypt (37%, 50% and 40% respectively.) The Palestinian Authority (19%) is at the bottom of the list, along with Iran and North Korea.

Currently, Israel benefits from a public opinion tailwind, merely one percent behind its 1991 all time record popularity. Israel’s image as a credible, reliable, capable, stable, democratic, non-conditional ally of the US is bolstered against the backdrop of the current turmoil in Arab lands. This regional upheaval makes it clear that the Palestinian issue is not the core cause of the Middle East turbulence, is not the crown jewel of Arab policy-making and is not favored by the American people and Congress.

Anyone claiming that Israel is losing ground in the US, and that in order to rebound Jerusalem must introduce more concessions to the Arabs, is either dramatically mistaken, outrageously misleading or seeking an alibi for vacillation in face of pressure by a relatively-weak American president.

‘Mideast’s Ronald Reagan’

A positive image of the Jewish State, and a negative image of Arab countries, has dominated the state of mind of the American constituent, who constitutes the key axis of the US political system, holding an effective stick over the head of American legislators and presidents.

According to the February 25, 2011 Rasmussen Report, which is one of the top three US pollsters, most constituents would stop foreign aid to Arab countries, but support foreign aid to the Jewish State. Some 61% do not expect the current Middle East upheaval to advance democracy or peace in Arab countries.

The most realistic expression of Israel’s robust standing in the US is reflected by the most authentic representatives of the American People: the legislature. Congress is equal in power to the Executive, representing the attitudes of the American constituent on domestic, external and national security issues. Hence, 75% of the 435 House Representatives and 80% of the 100 Senators – Republicans and Democrats alike – tend to support the Jewish State through legislation and resolutions, sometimes in defiance of the White House.

The gap between the worldview of President Obama and most constituents was exposed in November 2010, when Democrats suffered – due to Obama’s plummeting popularity - the most devastating political defeat since World War II. That gap relates also to the attitude toward Israel, which constitutes a rare bi-partisan common denominator, earning a higher level of support (68%) than Obama (47%).

The American constituent does not consider the Jewish State a conventional foreign policy issue, but also a domestic issue, which is identified with the moral Judeo-Christian foundations of the USA. Moreover, unlike Obama, most constituents regard President Reagan as a role model of values and view the Jewish State as the “Ronald Reagan of the Middle East,” representing their basic values: Respect toward religion and tradition, patriotism, security-oriented, anti-UN, anti-terrorism and suspicion toward Arab and Muslim regimes.

The solid foundation of shared US-Israel values, the recent volcanic eruptions in the Middle East and Israel’s strategic capabilities and reliability, have transformed the US into a sustained bastion of support of the Jewish State, notwithstanding problematic attitudes by some presidents, criticism by the “elite” media and hostility toward Israel on some US campuses.

This is not the time for vacillation and painful concessions; this is the time to enhance US-Israel strategic relations and demonstrate pain-killing steadfastness.

4a)How Netanyahu can out-maneuver Obama's latest threat to Israel
By Caroline B. Glick

If Netanyahu is serious about surmounting his diplomatic and political challenges, his best bet is to abandon his present course altogether. The most effective way to defend Israel against Obama is to boldly assert, defend and implement a unilateral Israeli plan. Here it is.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is stuck between a diplomatic rock and a political hard place. And his chosen means of extricating himself from the double bind is only making things worse for him and for Israel.

Diplomatically, Netanyahu is beset by the Palestinian political war to delegitimize Israel and the Obama administration's escalating hostility. That hostility was most recently expressed during President Barack Obama's meeting with American Jewish leaders on March 1. Insinuating that Israel is to blame for the absence of peace in the Middle East, Obama scolded Jewish leaders telling them to "search your souls," over Israel's seriousness about making peace.

Obama's newest threat is that through the so-called Middle East Quartet, (Russia, the UN, the EU and the US), the administration will move towards supporting the Palestinian plan to declare Palestinian statehood. That state would include all of Judea and Samaria, Gaza and eastern, southern and northern Jerusalem. Since it would not be established in the framework of a peace treaty with Israel, and since its leaders reject Israel's right to exist, "Palestine" would be born in a de facto state of war with Israel.

To credit this threat, Obama has empowered the Quartet to supplant the US as the mediator between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. Buoyed by Obama, Quartet representatives and American and European officials have beaten a steady path to Netanyahu's door over the past several weeks. Their message is always the same: If Israel does not prove that it is serious about peace by giving massive unreciprocated concessions to the Palestinians then they will abandon all remaining pretense of support for Israel and throw their lot in completely with the Palestinians.

For the past year and a half Netanyahu's policy for dealing with Obama's animosity has been to try to appease him by making incremental concessions. Netanyahu's rationale for acting in this manner is twofold. First, he has tried to convince Obama that he really does want peace with the Palestinians. Second, when each of his concessions are met with further Palestinian intransigence, Netanyahu has argued that the disparity between Israeli concessions and Palestinian rejectionism and extremism demonstrates that it is Israel, not the Palestinians that should be supported by the West.

To date Netanyahu's concessions have included his acceptance of Palestinian statehood and the two-state paradigm for peace; his temporary prohibition on Jewish construction in Judea and Samaria; his undeclared prohibition on Jewish building in Jerusalem; his undeclared open-ended prohibition of Jewish building in Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem after his temporary building ban expired; his agreement to drastically curtail IDF counterterror operations in Judea and Samaria; his move to enact an undeclared abatement of law enforcement against illegal Arab construction in Jerusalem; and his decision to enable the deployment of the US-trained Palestinian army in Judea and Samaria.

Netanyahu's declaration of support for Palestinian statehood required his acceptance of the Palestinian narrative. That narrative blames the absence of peace on Israel's refusal to surrender all of Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem. Having effectively accepted the blame for the absence of peace, Netanyahu has been unable to wage a coherent political counteroffensive against the Palestinian political war.

Now, in a bid to head off Obama's newest threat to use the Quartet to back the Palestinians' political war against Israel, Netanyahu is considering yet another set of unreciprocated concessions to the Palestinians.

For the past week and a half, Netanyahu has been considering a new "diplomatic initiative." According to media reports, he is weighing two options. First, he may end IDF counterterror operations in Palestinian cities in Judea and Samaria. Such a move would involve compromising all of the IDF's military achievements in the areas since 2002 when it first targeted the Palestinian terror factories from Hebron to Jenin during Operation Defensive Shield.

The second option he is reportedly considering involves announcing his acceptance of a Palestinian state with non-final borders. Such a move would render it difficult if not practically impossible for Israel to conduct counterterror operations within those temporary borders. It would also make it all but impossible for Israel to assert its sovereign rights over the areas.

Supporters of this initiative argue that not only will it stave off US pressure; it will strengthen Netanyahu's political position at home. Recent polls show that Netanyahu's approval numbers are falling while those of his two main rivals — Opposition leader Tzipi Livni and Foreign Minister and Yisrael Beitenu leader Avigdor Liberman are rising.

Netanyahu reportedly believes that by moving to the Left, he will be able to take support away from Livni and so regain his position as the most popular leader in the country. Given this assessment, Netanyahu's supporters argue that making further concessions to the Palestinians is a win-win prospect. It will strengthen Israel diplomatically and it will strengthen him politically.

Sadly for both Israel and Netanyahu, this analysis is completely wrong.

Since Obama came into office, he has consistently demonstrated that no Israeli concession will convince him to support Israel against the Palestinians. So too, the fact that every Israeli concession has been met by Palestinian intransigence has had no impact on either Obama or his European counterparts. Netanyahu correct claims that the Palestinians' intransigence shows they are not interested in peace is of interest to no one. And it is this lack of interest in Palestinian intransigence rather than Palestinian intransigence itself that is remarkable. What it shows is that Obama and his European counterparts don't care about achieving peace. Like the Palestinians, all they want is more Israeli concessions.

Since taking office, Obama has only supported Israel against the Palestinians twice. The first time was last December. After months of deliberate ambiguity, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced that the administration opposes the Palestinian plan to unilaterally declare independence. Then last month the administration grudgingly vetoed the Palestinian-Lebanese draft resolution condemning Israeli construction in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria.

In both cases, the administration's actions were not the result of Israeli appeasement, but of massive Congressional pressure. Congress issued bipartisan calls demanding that the administration torpedo both of these anti-Israel initiatives.

What this this shows is that Netanyahu's strategy for contending with Obama is fundamentally misconstrued and misdirected. Obama will not be moved by Israeli concessions. The only way to stop Obama from moving forward on his anti-Israel policy course is to work through Congress.

And the most effective way to work through Congress is for Netanyahu to abandon his current course and tell the truth about the nature of the Palestinians, their rejection of Israel, their anti-Americanism and their support for jihadist terror.

At the same time, Netanyahu must speak unambiguously about Israel's national rights to Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria, our required security borders, and about why US national security requires a strong Israel.

The stronger the case Netanyahu makes for Israel, the more support Israel will receive from the Congress. And the more support Israel receives from the Congress, the more Obama will be compelled to temper his anti-Israel agenda.

As for domestic politics, Netanyahu's attempt to appease Obama is a major cause of his falling approval numbers among voters. Likud voters do not expect him to outflank Livni from the Left. They voted for Likud and not Kadima because they recognized that Kadima's leftist policies are dangerous and doomed to failure.

Kadima's recent increase in domestic support owes more to the breakup of the Labor Party than to Netanyahu's failure to carry out Kadima's policies of territorial surrender and diplomatic kowtowing to the UN, EU and Obama. The main beneficiary of Likud's eroding support has been Liberman.

While Netanyahu has maintained his allegiance to the false, failed, unpopular-outside-of-the-media "peace with the Palestinians" paradigm in the foolish hope of winning over Obama, Liberman has seized control of the Right's political agenda. While Netanyahu accepts the legitimacy of the Palestinian leadership which rejects Israel's right to exist, Liberman presents himself as the leader of the majority of Israelis who oppose the Left's agenda of land for war.

Moreover, while Netanyahu shunts aside his own party's most popular politicians like Minister of Strategic Affairs Moshe Ya'alon in favor of Defense Minister Ehud Barak, he demoralizes his party faithful and his voters.

And not only does Barak hurt Netanyahu with voters, this week he took an axe to Israel's most important diplomatic asset — Congressional support.

In an interview with the Wall Street Journal on Monday, Barak said that Israel may ask Congress to increase US military support for Israel by $20 billion. Given the US's economic woes, and Congress's commitment to massive budget cuts, at best Barak's statement represented a complete incomprehension about the basic facts of US domestic politics. At worst, it was a supremely unfriendly act towards Israel's friends in Congress who are trying to maintain the current level of US military aid to Israel in the face of a popular push to slash the US's foreign aid budget.

Beyond that, the plain fact is that Barak's statement was wrong. Israel's steady economic growth and its recently discovered natural gas fields should make it possible for Israel to decrease the military aid it receives from the US. This is true even though the revolutions in Egypt and throughout the Arab world will require Israel to massively increase its defense budget.

If Netanyahu is serious about surmounting his diplomatic and political challenges, his best bet is to abandon his present course altogether. The most effective way to defend Israel against Obama is to boldly assert, defend and implement a unilateral Israeli plan. Netanyahu himself gave the broad outlines for such a plan this week when he stated that to defend itself, Israel will need to maintain perpetual control over the Jordan Valley. If Netanyahu were to announce a plan to apply Israeli law to the Jordan Valley and the major blocs of Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria, he would accomplish several things at once. He would advance Israel's national interests rather than the Palestinians' interests against Israel. He would force the US and Europe to discuss issues that are grounded in strategic rationality rather than leftist-Islamist ideology. Finally, he would take back the leadership of his own political camp from Liberman and augment his political power domestically.

So too, if Netanyahu fired Barak and replaced him with Ya'alon, he would energize his political supporters in a way he has failed to do since taking office.

Netanyahu is reportedly considering unveiling his new diplomatic initiative in a speech before Congress in May. If he were to use that venue to unveil this plan and also announce a plan to wean Israel off of US military aid within three years, not only would he blunt Obama's power to threaten Israel. He would secure popular US support for Israel for years to come.

And if he did that, he would restore the Israeli voters' support for his leadership and stabilize his government through the next elections.

JWR contributor Caroline B. Glick is the senior Middle East Fellow at the Center for Security Policy in Washington, DC and the deputy managing editor of The Jerusalem Post, where her column appears.
5)A Letter to America
Americans deserve better than the European model that Barack Obama is trying to implement.

The following essay is adapted from the Encounter Books Broadside, "Why America Must Not Follow Europe," No. 19 in a series.

On a U.S. talk-radio show recently, I was asked what I thought about the notion that Barack Obama had been born in Kenya. "Pah!" I replied (or words to that effect). "Your president was plainly born in Brussels."

American conservatives have struggled to press President Obama's policies into a meaningful narrative. Is he a socialist? No, at least not in the sense of wanting the state to own key industries. Is he a straightforward New Deal big spender, in the model of FDR and LBJ? Not exactly.

Americans understandably seek to define their president in American terms. But looking across from my side of the Atlantic, there is a much simpler explanation. President Obama wants to Europeanize the U.S. All right, he wouldn't put it in those terms, partly because the electorate wouldn't wear it and partly because he sees himself as less Eurocentric than any of his 43 predecessors.

My guess is that if anything, Obama would verbalize his ideology using the same vocabulary that Eurocrats do. He would say he wants a fairer America, a more tolerant America, a less arrogant America, a more engaged America. When you prize away the cliché, what these phrases amount to are higher taxes, less patriotism, a bigger role for state bureaucracies and a transfer of sovereignty to global institutions.

He is not pursuing a set of random initiatives lashed arbitrarily together, but a program of comprehensive Europeanization: European health care, European welfare, European carbon taxes, European day care, European college education, even a European foreign policy, based on engagement with supranational technocracies, nuclear disarmament and a reluctance to deploy forces overseas.

No previous president has offered such uncritical support for European integration. On his very first trip to Europe as president, Obama declared, "In my view, there is no Old Europe or New Europe. There is a united Europe." Having silkily dispensed with the old Rumsfeldian idea that the U.S. should deal with EU states as individual nations, he went on to dismiss the euroskeptic majorities in most European countries: "I believe in a strong Europe, and a strong European Union, and my administration is committed to doing everything we can to support you."

It's hardly surprising that Obama should be such an enthusiast for a European superstate: He is building his own version at home. I don't doubt the sincerity of those Americans who want to copy the European model. A few may be snobs who wear their euro-enthusiasm as a badge of sophistication. But most genuinely believe that making their country less American and more like the rest of the world would make it more comfortable and peaceable.

All right, growth would be slower, but the quality of life might improve. All right, taxes would be higher, but workers need no longer fear sickness or unemployment. All right, the U.S. would no longer be the world's superpower, but perhaps that would make it more popular. Is a European future truly so terrible?

Yes. Take it from me, my friends. I have been an elected member of the European Parliament for 11 years. I have seen firsthand what the European political model means. I inhabit your future—or at least the future toward which your current rulers seem intent on taking you. Before you follow us, let me tell you about it.

The critical difference between the American and European unions has to do with the location of power. The U.S. was founded on what we might loosely call the Jeffersonian ideal: the notion that decisions should be taken as closely as possible to the people they affect. The EU, by contrast, was based on precisely the opposite ideal. Article One of its foundational treaty commits its nations to establish "an ever-closer union."

From that distinction, much follows. The U.S. has evolved a series of unique institutions designed to limit the power of the state: recall mechanisms, ballot initiatives, balanced budget rules, open primaries, localism, states' rights, term limits, the direct election of public officials, from the sheriff to the school board. The EU, by contrast, has placed supreme power in the hands of 27 unelected Commissioners, who have been made deliberately invulnerable to public opinion.

The will of the people is generally seen by Eurocrats as an obstacle to overcome, not a reason to change direction. When France, the Netherlands and Ireland voted against the European Constitution, the referendum results were swatted aside and the document adopted regardless. For, in Brussels, the ruling doctrine—that the nation-state must be transcended—is seen as more important than freedom, democracy or the rule of law.

This doctrine has had several malign consequences. For example, it has made the assimilation of immigrants far more difficult. Whereas the U.S. is based around the idea that anyone who buys into American values can become American, the EU clings to the notion that national identities are anachronistic and dangerous. Unsurprisingly, some newcomers, finding their adopted countries scorned, have turned to other, less apologetic identities. Hint to my American friends: If you go around the world apologizing for everything, you make it harder for immigrants to want to belong.

The single worst aspect of Europeanization, however, is its impact on the economy. Many Americans, and many Europeans, have a collective memory of how Europe managed to combine economic growth with social justice. Didn't Western Europe do tremendously well after World War II? Wasn't its success associated with something called "Rhineland capitalism" or "the social market"?

Like most folk memories, the idea of a European economic miracle has some basis in fact. Between 1945 and 1974, Western Europe did indeed outperform the U.S. And in retrospect, we can see why. Europe happened to enjoy perfect conditions for rapid growth. Infrastructure had been destroyed during the war, but an educated, industrious and disciplined work force remained. On top of which, Europe received a massive external stimulus. Thirteen billion dollars were disbursed through the Marshall Plan between 1948 and 1952, on top of the $12 billion already given by the U.S. in aid since the end of the war.

In the circumstances, it would have been extraordinary had Europe not prospered. Human nature being what it is, however, few European leaders attributed their success to the fact that they were recovering from an artificial low, still less to external assistance.

They convinced themselves, rather, that they were responsible for their countries' growth rates. Their genius, they thought, lay in having hit upon a European "third way" between the excesses of American capitalism and the totalitarianism of Soviet communism.

They believed in markets, but regulated markets. Instead of the industrial strife that they had experienced before the war, they would establish a tripartite system in which employers, labor unions and government officials worked together. Instead of seesawing between Left and Right, they would have consensual coalition governments in which both Christian Democrats and Social Democrats accepted the broad framework of a mixed market. Instead of competition between states, they would pursue political and economic integration.

We can now see where that road leads: to burgeoning bureaucracy, more spending, higher taxes, slower growth and rising unemployment. But an entire political class has grown up believing not just in the economic superiority of euro-corporatism but in its moral superiority. After all, if the American system were better—if people and businesses could thrive without government supervision—there would be less need for politicians. As Upton Sinclair once observed, "It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his job depends on not understanding it."

Nonetheless, the economic data are pitilessly clear. For the past 40 years, Europeans have fallen further and further behind Americans in their standard of living. In 1974, Western Europe, defined as the 15 members of the EU prior to the admission of the former communist countries in 2004, accounted for 36% of world GDP. Today that figure is 26%. In 2020 it will be 15%. In the same period, the U.S. share of world GDP has remained, and is forecast to remain, fairly steady at around 26%.

At the same time, Europe has become accustomed to a high level of structural unemployment. Indeed, if we exclude the United Kingdom, the EU failed to produce a single net private-sector job between 1980 and 1992. Only now, as the U.S. applies a European-style economic strategy based on fiscal stimulus, nationalization, bailouts, quantitative easing and the regulation of private-sector remuneration, has the rate of unemployment in the U.S. leaped to European levels.

Why is a European politician urging America to avoid Europeanization? Well, I'm not European; I'm British. My country is linked to the U.S., and to the wider Anglosphere, by ties of history and geography, commerce and law, blood and speech.

As a Briton, I see the American republic as a repository of our traditional freedoms. The doctrines rooted in the common law, in the Magna Carta, and in the Bill of Rights found their fullest and most sublime expression in the old courthouse of Philadelphia. Britain, as a result of its unhappy membership in the European Union, has now surrendered a large part of its birthright. But our freedoms live on in America.

Which brings me to my country's present tragedy. The fears that the American patriot leaders had about a Hanoverian tyranny were, in retrospect, exaggerated. The United Kingdom did not develop into an absolutist state. Power continued to pass from the Crown to the House of Commons.

Until now. Nearly two and a half centuries after the Declaration of Independence, the grievances it adumbrated are belatedly coming true—but in Britain, rather than in North America. Colossal sums are being commandeered by the government in order to fund bailouts and nationalizations without any proper parliamentary authorization. Legislation happens increasingly through what are called standing orders, a device that allows ministers to make laws without parliamentary consent—often for the purpose of implementing EU standards. Elections have been drained of purpose, and turnout is falling.

How aptly the British people might today apply the ringing phrases of the Declaration of Independence against their own rulers, who have "combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws."

Throughout my career in politics, I have campaigned to apply Jeffersonian democracy to British political conditions, to recover those British freedoms that have flourished more happily in America than in their native soil, to repatriate our revolution. So you can imagine how I feel when I see the U.S. making the same mistakes that Britain has made: expanding its government, regulating private commerce, centralizing its jurisdiction, breaking the link between taxation and representation, abandoning its sovereignty.

You deserve better, cousins. And we expect better.

Mr. Hannan is a member of the European Parliament.
6)Social Security is broke

There are no trillions squirreled away in some lockbox. That's fiction.

Everyone knows that the U.S. budget is being devoured by entitlements. Everyone also knows that of the Big Three – Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security – Social Security is the most solvable.

During Clinton's administration, then-OMB director Jack Lew, left, said that the Social Security trust fund "balances" were nothing more than a "bookkeeping" device. There were no "real economic assets." Today, as Obama's OMB director, Lew, right, wrote in USA Today two weeks ago that the trust fund is solvent until 2037.

Back-of-an-envelope solvable: Raise the retirement age, tweak the indexing formula (from wage inflation to price inflation) and means-test so that Warren Buffett's check gets redirected to a senior in need.

The relative ease of the fix is what makes the Obama administration's Social Security strategy so shocking. The new line from the White House is: no need to fix it because there is no problem. As Office of Management and Budget director Jack Lew wrote in USA Today just a few weeks ago, the trust fund is solvent until 2037. Therefore, Social Security is now off the table in debt-reduction talks.
This claim is a breathtaking fraud. The pretense is that a flush trust fund will pay retirees for the next 26 years. Lovely, except for one thing: The Social Security trust fund is a fiction.

If you don't believe me, listen to the OMB's own explanation (in the Clinton administration budget for fiscal year 2000 under then-Director Jack Lew, the very same). The OMB explained that these trust fund "balances" are nothing more than a "bookkeeping" device. "They do not consist of real economic assets that can be drawn down in the future to fund benefits."

In other words, the Social Security trust fund contains – nothing.

Here's why. When your FICA tax is taken out of your paycheck, it does not get squirreled away in some lockbox in West Virginia where it's kept until you and your contemporaries retire. Most goes out immediately to pay current retirees, and the rest (say, $100) goes to the U.S. Treasury – and is spent. On roads, bridges, national defense, public television, whatever – spent, gone.

In return for that $100, the Treasury sends the Social Security Administration a piece of paper that says: IOU $100. There are countless such pieces of paper in the lockbox. They are called "special issue" bonds.

Special they are: They are worthless. As the OMB explained, they are nothing more than "claims on the Treasury (i.e., promises) that, when redeemed (when you retire and are awaiting your check), will have to be financed by raising taxes, borrowing from the public, or reducing benefits or other expenditures." That's what it means to have a so-called trust fund with no "real economic assets." When you retire, the "trust fund" will have to go to the Treasury for the money for your Social Security check. Bottom line? The OMB again: "The existence of large trust fund balances, therefore, does not, by itself, have any impact on the government's ability to pay benefits." No impact: The lockbox, the balances, the little pieces of paper amount to nothing.

So that when Jack Lew tells you that there are trillions in this lockbox that keep the system solvent until 2037, he is perpetrating a fiction certified as such by his own OMB. What happens when you retire? Your Social Security will come out of the taxes and borrowing of that fiscal year. Why is this a problem? Because as of 2010, the pay-as-you-go Social Security system is in the red. For decades it had been in the black, taking in more in FICA taxes than it sent out in Social Security benefits. The surplus, scooped up by the Treasury, reduced the federal debt by tens of billions. But demography is destiny. The ratio of workers to retirees is shrinking year by year. Instead of Social Security producing annual surpluses that reduce the federal deficit, it is now producing shortfalls that increase the federal deficit – $37 billion in 2010. It will only get worse as the baby boomers retire.
That's what makes this administration's claim that Social Security is solvent so cynical. The Republicans have said that their April budget will contain real entitlement reform. President Obama is preparing the ground to demagogue Social Security right through the 2012 elections. The ad writes itself: Those heartless Republicans don't just want to throw granny in the snow, they want to throw granny in the snow to solve a problem that doesn't even exist! Vote Obama.

On Tuesday, Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia denounced Obama for lack of leadership on the debt. It's worse than that. Obama is showing leadership. With Lew's preposterous claim that Social Security is solvent for 26 years, Obama is preparing to lead the charge against entitlement reform as his ticket to re-election.

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