Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Small Attributes but Basking in Macho Man!

Current Congresses are generally more likely to defer taking the necessary steps to solve the nation's most pressing and present problems because:

a) They are either engaged in an election or raising money for one and thus place their own interests above the nation's.

b) They see their job as one of serving the more narrowed interests of their constituents and want to retain their job.

c) When spending other people's money and passing legislation, they mostly immunize themselves from, it becomes easy to lose perspective.

d) Spending other people's money is also how politicians get elected. They build constituency groups who vote their narrow single issue interests,ie. 'tax the guy behind the tree but don't tax me - NIMBY's.'

e) The philosophical differences of those who sit on both aisles often trumps everything else unless powerful leadership is evident.

f) When you have a president, as we now have, who is totally disconnected from the the constitutional precepts upon which our nation was founded and is committed to radicalizing and 'changing' who we are as a people, the battle lines become more rigid and impenetrable.

f) Finally, when a president has the media and press behind him it is difficult for the voice of the people to be both heard and effective.

The position of the Speaker of The House is a powerful one and the occupant can be an omnipotent force but The Speaker does not command the same presence as the president who has a far larger public forum at his command. (See 1, 1a and 1b below.)

Perhaps a Congressman by the name of Ryan does not fit the mold so unions and their liberal minions are out to smash him. (See 1c below.)
In the case of Obama, what you see may not be what you get and we have learned the hard way. (See 2 below.)
A professor disrobes Maureen Dowd and in her nakedness we find a woman possessing small attributes who now basks in the glory of her newly found macho man! (See 3 below.)
Citizen Herman Cain, the black equivalent of Harry Truman, has much of what it takes but lacks the essential - can he beat Obama as Harry did Dewey?

Cain would make a great Vice President. (See 4 below.)
A naive and misguided president's policies can cause a war and probably will.

The Arab Spring continues to spring leaks and its raging headwaters are moving in disturbing and uncontrolled directions much as our own Mississippi River. (See 5 below.)
The current boom in commodities was upended recently but eventually demand for various metals and energy resources will grow, the dollar's decline will make them more valuable, population growth and increasing demand from China and other emerging countries will insure ultimate commodity price increases. (See 6 below.)
1)Boehner: Without Significant Cuts, "No Increase In The Debt Limit"

"Without significant spending cuts and changes in the way we spend the American people's money, there will be no increase in the debt limit. And the cuts should be greater than the accompanying increase in the debt limit that the president is given. We're not talking about billions here, we should be talking about cuts in trillions if we're serious about addressing America's fiscal problems," House Speaker John Boehner said this evening at the The Economic Club of New York.

1a) White House: Boehner is holding economy `hostage’
By Greg Sargent

Ever since John Boehner last night called for trillions in cuts in exchange for raising the debt ceiling, folks have been wondering how aggressively the White House and Dems would respond. So this exchange, from the press gaggle aboard Air Force One with press secretary Jay Carney, is pretty interesting (per the White House transcript):

CARNEY: We continue to maintain that it is folly to hold hostage the vote to raise the debt ceiling to prevent the United States of America from defaulting on its obligations to any other piece of legislation. We will get a fiscal agreement, we believe. We’re optimistic. We believe we can get that. But to hold one hostage to the other remains extremely unwise in our view.
And I would simply note some of the things that Speaker Boehner has said in the past, if I have them here, about just that issue. Back in the last day of January — or, no, January 30th, rather, he said — this is the Speaker of the House — to raise that — failing to raise the debt ceiling would mean, “financial disaster not only for our country but for the worldwide economy. You can’t create jobs if you default on the federal debt.” We couldn’t agree more.

QUESTION: If I could fast-forward it to last night, did you hear Boehner as a hostage-taker or a deal-maker?

CARNEY: I believe that it is fine for all participants in this process to restate their starting positions. That we understand. But we believe that there is — that common ground can be found between Republicans and Democrats in these negotiations being overseen by the Vice President.

Carney twice used the word “hostage” to describe Boehner’s treatment of the situation, and when pressed, refused to say whether the White House views Boehner as a “hostage-taker.” That’s pretty aggressive stuff. But I wonder whether this isn’t how Boehner wants this to be perceived. During the battle over spending cuts, Boehner adopted a deliberate strategy of dragging us right up to the brink of a government shutdown, in order to make it easier to sell the final compromise to conservatives later, by giving him a way to credibly argue that he’d done everything possible to extract maximum concessions from Dems.

My bet is Boehner is going to adopt the same brinkmanship strategy again with the debt ceiling — he’ll take us to the brink of armageddon in order to make it easier to sell the final deal to conservatives later, even if he doesn’t get the “trillions” he wants. And for the White House to accuse Boehner of “hostage” taking in order to extract maximum spending cuts only helps with conservatives: That’s what they want him to do.

The risk, of course, is that brinkmanship can lead to war, and this time, a war could arguably be far more catastrophic.

1b)Democrats Oppose Spending Cap Plan

The White House and Senate Democratic leaders, worried that a proposal to cap federal spending could gain traction in Congress, have mounted a drive to discredit the idea.

The proposal would limit federal spending—for everything from Medicare and other entitlements to discretionary items like military, education and foreign aid programs—to 20.6% of the nation's gross domestic product, when the cap is fully phased in. If Congress did not comply, the cap would be enforced with across-the-board spending cuts.

Spending in the current fiscal year ending Sept. 30 is projected to be 24.3% of GDP, the highest since World War II, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

The bill's lead sponsor is a Republican, Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee. But two Democratic senators have signed on, and party leaders worry that more could join—especially senators facing tough re-election challenges in swing states who are looking for ways to burnish their credentials as deficit-cutters.

Proponents say that only the threat of large, across-the-board cuts will push Congress to make tough long-term choices.

"This bill isn't just about cutting back this year or next year. It's about instilling permanent discipline to keep spending at a responsible level," said Sen. Claire McCaskill of Missouri, the leading Democratic sponsor, when she introduced the bill with Mr. Corker earlier this year.

But Democratic leaders argue that while the cap may be appealing and easy to explain to voters, it sets a ceiling so low that it would force changes in Medicare and other programs as drastic as those called for by House Republicans, which Democrats have roundly rejected.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D., Nev.) said Tuesday that tax increases may be needed, along with spending cuts, to help rein in the deficit. "We shouldn't be drawing lines in the sand. The fair way to do that is to cut spending…and also to make the tax code a little more fair," said Mr. Reid, who has warned his colleagues against supporting the spending cap proposal.

Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D., W.Va.) also attacked the spending cap concept because of its potential impact on Medicaid, the federal-state health-care program for the poor.

In the latest effort to undercut the proposal, White House budget director Jacob Lew on Tuesday argued against it as part of a budget presentation to Senate Democrats, according to one participant in the meeting. An administration official confirmed: "We've been talking to senators about it, and we have concerns."

The liberal group has emailed its members attacking Ms. McCaskill and on Monday released a letter from 75 economists attacking the bill.

The spending cap is one of many ideas circulating on Capitol Hill at a time of Democratic uncertainty about what strategy to adopt in deficit-reduction talks. Democrats are unified in their opposition to the House GOP's proposed budget and deficit-cutting plans, but they have not yet rallied around a fiscal plan of their own.

Many Democrats have been waiting to see the plan being prepared by the so-called Gang of Six, a bipartisan group of senators. If those talks collapse, some fear Democrats will look to embrace another deficit-cutting plan.

Mr. Corker wants the spending cap legislation to be approved as a condition of passing an increase in the federal debt limit in coming weeks.

In addition to Ms. McCaskill, the bill has two co-sponsors from the Democratic caucus— Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, who like Ms. McCaskill faces a tough 2012re-election fight, and Joe Lieberman, the Connecticut independent.

Separately, lawmakers held another meeting at the White House in an effort to reach a debt-cutting agreement. "I remain optimistic," Vice President Joseph Biden, who is leading the talks, said afterward. "Whether we get to the finish line with this group is another question."

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R., Va.) said before the session that the talks were focused on "where are we in terms of commonality right now." The two sides are sharply at odds on tax increases, which Republicans reject, and overhauling Medicare, which Democrats oppose, but both see room for agreement on spending cuts.

Mr. Cantor rejected the notion of relying too heavily on budgetary caps for future years, which are favored by President Barack Obama and some lawmakers of both parties. "When this Congress tries to impose discipline on itself for future years, inevitably those restrictions are lifted and waived, and we're not interested in playing that kind of game," Mr. Cantor said.

—Naftali Bendavid and Siobhan Hughes contributed to this article.

1c)How Paul Ryan Won the Recess
By John McCormack

Racine, Wisc.
Did you hear the news? Wisconsin congressman Paul Ryan, the architect of the
House Republicans' budget, was booed! By his own constituents!
The video of said town hall booing was clipped by the liberal blog ThinkProgress, zipped around the Internet, and then moved up the conveyor belt to CNN, MSNBC, NPR, NBC's Nightly News, Comedy Central's The Daily Show, and other media outlets.

And so the "budget backlash" narrative began.

"Chairman Ryan, the people, including your constituents, are talking," House
minority leader Nancy Pelosi said in response to the video. "Are you
listening?" (Yes, this is the same Nancy Pelosi who dismissed the opposition
to the national health care bill at the 2009 town hall meetings as
"astroturf" or "un-American" citizens who were "carrying Swastikas.")

The only problem with the backlash narrative is that it is wildly
misleading. Despite efforts by labor unions and a variety of liberal
activist organizations-One Wisconsin Now,, Citizens Action of
Wisconsin, Community for Change, etc.-to pack Ryan's events with detractors
and hecklers, they were overwhelmingly outnumbered by his supporters.

At the 19 town hall meetings held over the course of two weeks, Ryan was
praised much more frequently than he was heckled by attendees. Judging from
applause versus boos this week, I didn't witness a single event where Ryan
had less than two-thirds of the crowd supporting him. Some constituents
thanked Ryan for his "moral courage." Others offered more effusive praise.
"I want to thank you for having the cojones-and not the other word, which I
hope you all know what it is-for standing up for us, the whole United
States," a small business owner named Maria told Ryan in Lake Geneva on
April 26. "I love you. As a surrogate mother."

His opponents were able muster up a crowd of 50 to 75 people to protest his
event in Kenosha later that day-a vast sea of rage compared to the 3 protesters who showed up in Franklin on Thursday or the lone man holding a "TAX THE TOP" sign outside of
the Oak Creek town hall.

One man protesting in Kenosha, who identified himself only as a Teamsters
member ("I don't have a name," he told me), tried to pick a fight with a Ryan supporter and then a police officer outside the event. At times, he stood directly in
front of Ryan's car door as the meeting was about to conclude.
"I will go to jail for you, man," the Teamsters member said as he got in the
face of a Ryan supporter.

"Officer, arrest this man," he then told a police officer. "He's inciting a
riot," he continued before calling the Ryan supporter a "Nazi."
He succeeded in forcing Ryan to leave with a police escort out of another

"Chickenshit!" yelled Ned Harper, president of the local SEIU chapter, upon
hearing the news that his Teamsters buddy had forced Ryan to leave out of a
back door.

This story, too, fed into the backlash narrative. The Hill's Jordan Fabian reported simply that Ryan had to leave a town hall meeting "under police escort due to security concerns about a demonstration outside the building where the event was held." No mention that the "demonstration" was comprised of a few dozen people or that a lone thuggish Teamsters member was the big cause for concern.

To their credit, Dinesh Ramded of the Associated Press and Jeff Zeleny of the New York Times
tried to put the booing and heckling in proper context of the broader support Ryan received in his district.)

On April 28, Ryan faced one of the more hostile crowds of the week in the city of Greenfield, just outside of Milwaukee. About 600 people packed into a high school auditorium, and hecklers tried to interrupt him every five to ten minutes. Toward the end of the Q&A session, a woman began her question by thanking Ryan for producing his budget. Then the previously silent super-majority in the crowd began to applaud and rose to their feet

Ryan received another standing ovation in Racine on Friday, but that detail was left out of Politico's stor"Rep. Paul Ryan had local police remove a man from his town hall meeting Friday after he kept yelling about how Ryan's budget plan would impact Medicare," Politico
reported from Racine . "It was the most dramatic moment yet in Ryan's weeklong series of town halls, and it happened in one of the most Democratic areas of his district."

Well, that's a matter of opinion.

Was one man being escorted from a town hall meeting the "most dramatic
moment" of the week? Or was it more dramatic when hundreds of senior
citizens gave not one but two standing ovations to a politician proposing a
bold Medicare reform? Again, it's a matter of opinion. But the latter moment
is a far more accurate depiction of what Ryan actually faced in his swing
district these last two weeks.

The reason why Ryan won the recess isn't just because more supporters than
opponents showed up to town hall meetings. The fact that Ryan was both
cheered and jeered at is about as newsworthy as a story titled: "BREAKING:
Democrats, Republicans Live in Wisconsin's 1st Congressional District, Show
Up to Political Events."

While having more energy on one's side is an important factor in politics,
it isn't always the key to victory. Ron Paul supporters can win a straw
poll, but can't win an election. The angry protests in Madison this February
and March were met with defeat at the ballot box in April's Wisconsin
supreme court race.

The reason it's fair to say Ryan won the recess is because he is winning the
argument. He went through 19 hours of town hall meetings, was asked more
than 200 questions by constituents, and he came out unscathed. Though the
crowds were mostly supportive, the questioners were usually opposed. Every
Paul Krugman or Barack Obama talking point was thrown at him. Liberals and
Democrats asked Ryan probing questions about Medicare (quoting Clinton
budget director Alice Rivlin at times) and tax cuts.

Despite having a Democratic party tracker and Center for American Progress
Action Fund blogger covering Ryan's town halls, all they have out of 19
hours of footage are a few clips of Ryan getting booed. They have a video of
a constituent yelling "liar!" at Ryan.

What they do not have is video of Ryan actually lying or getting stumped by a question. Liberals might not agree with him, but Ryan had a persuasive answer, filled with facts and figures, to every question he was asked.

Take, for example, the video clip that showed Ryan getting booed for saying "we do tax the top." He typically goes on to argue that a 35% corporate tax hurts small businesses who have to compete with foreign competitors with much lower tax rates, while some big corporations like GE pay no taxes at all because of loopholes, tax shelters, and deductions. The solution, Ryan
says, is clean out "the junk" in the tax code, and then "lower tax rates for everybody" while keeping tax revenues where they are today. A similar idea was endorsed by President Obama's fiscal commission, and the Ways and Means committee will hammer out the details of which deductions they want to nix or reduce this summer.

Ryan's town halls were filled mostly with seniors, but there was actually little concern about his Medicare reform (Ryan's opponents preferred to argue about Bush tax cuts and corporate tax cuts). "When seniors understand that what we're doing is preserving Medicare
exactly as it is today for people on Medicare or those 10 years away for retiring, then their minds are at ease," Ryan told reporters on April 26.

"So the challenge is-and this is the challenge you have every time you want to govern-is get through the misinformation."

Ryan tries to cut through that misinformation with a 20-minute PowerPoint
presentation at the beginning of each town hall meeting. Wielding a laser pointer, Ryan lays out the federal budget, our deficit, and how entitlement programs, plus interest, are on track to consume all federal
revenue in over a decade.

There are occasionally audible gasps in the crowd when the he clicks the slide that shows the gusher of red ink that consumes the budget on our current path. He then shows the GOP budget proposal to gradually eliminate the deficit and the debt. "It's just like a mortgage," Ryan says. "The alternative is we have a debt crisis. The alternative is everybody gets hurt."

The final slide compares how he and President Obama would change Medicare. It's not a debate about whether or not to reform Medicare but how. Ryan asks everyone 55 and older to raise their hands (most do). He then tells them that nothing changes under Medicare for them. Ryan describes the plan to reform Medicare for the under-54 set by subsidizing their premiums and
letting them pick among a variety of plans regulated by Medicare. The Medicare prescription drug benefit came in 41 percent below Congressional Budget Office predictions because seniors get to pick among competing plans, Ryan says.

On the other hand, President Obama "puts this new board in charge of Medicare," says Ryan, "15 people he appoints and then they decide how Medicare prices work. They decide how to cut costs in Medicare.... We believe it will lead to diminished quality of care for current seniors."
During the 45-minute question and answer session, Ryan will get one or maybe two questions about how Medicare reform would work for younger workers. "The status quo is the greatest threat to Medicare," Ryan says. He explains that the program is means-tested so "those with less get more and those with more get less," and it's risk-adjusted so that the subsidy will grow to stabilize rates for those who get sick.

Ryan is well aware that the debate over his proposed budget has just begun, but it seems that Ryan and the Republicans have the edge so far nationwide. It's not just that widespread backlash failed to materialize across the country during the congressional recess that followed the nearly unanimous House Republican for Ryan's budget. Polls suggest that the Democratic attack ads claiming that Republicans voted to "end" or "abolish" Medicare haven't worked. Gallup reports that 43 percent of Americans support Ryan's budget, while 44 percent support Obama's proposal. "If these numbers hold, this is good news for the Republicans ," wrote the New York Times's liberal polling analyst Nate Silver. "But Republicans ought to be careful about declaring 'Mission Accomplished'. What polls like Gallup's seem to reflect is the
overall partisan split in the country."

Polling specifically on Ryan's Medicare reform varies wildly-ranging from a small plurality supporting to the vast majority opposing-depending on the how the question is worded . A New York Times/CBS poll found that Americans support Ryan's plan 47% to 41%. It did not specify
that the reform only affects those 54 and younger. A Washington Post poll found that 65% of Americans oppose changing Medicare "so that people over 65 would receive a check or voucher from the government each year for a fixed amount they can use to shop for their own private health insurance policy [emphasis added]." In other words, the Post poll misrepresented Ryan's plan.

Many in the media are doing their part to perpetuate the misinformation. On
April 26, I woke up to the local Fox News TV affiliate reporting that Ryan's
plan would "minimize" Medicare, with no mention that the change only affects
those under 55. The AP reporter traveling with Ryan wrote in his first
dispatch of the day that Ryan's budget would "fundamentally restructure"
Medicare "for the elderly ." (Yes, that's the same AP reporter credited above. Nobody's perfect!)

Ryan's constituents pressed him on a wide range of complex topics. He never
talked down to them. When asked about foreign oil financing terrorists
overseas, Ryan recommended Robert Lacey's Inside the Kingdom and Dore Gold's
Hatred's Kingdom.

Sometimes Ryan sounded like a young economics professor conducting a
seminar. "Our fiscal policy is messing up our monetary policy," he said when
asked at Thursday's Paddock Lake town hall about the decline of the dollar.
"So what is fiscal policy? Fiscal policy is government's taxing and
spending. Monetary policy is what the Federal Reserve does-how we manage our
currency, how we print out money."

"Have you ever heard of quantitative easing?" Ryan asked. "The Federal
Reserve is printing money to pay for our debt." "It's setting up an inflation problem... What does that mean to you? That means you lose the purchasing power in your dollar."
Of course, it's the students who are grading the professor in this case. And
he gets high marks.

Ryan is proof that politics is not an entirely deterministic enterprise.
"It's the economy, stupid!" Yes, structural factors matter. But candidates
matter, too. Rational argument and moral suasion matter. There's a reason
why Ryan won 68% of the vote in 2010 and 64% of the vote in 2008, when John
McCain only garnered 47.5% of the vote in Wisconsin's 1st Congressional

Of course, not everyone has had such an easy time defending the budget as
its author does. Check out this video: Arkansas congressman Rick Crawford
was so flummoxed by a question about the budget's proposal to lower the top tax rate from 35% to 25% that he ended the meeting.

"There's only one Paul Ryan ," one Republican congressman told National Review's
Andrew Stiles on background earlier this week. "And it's not that the budget
isn't a great plan, but there's just so much in there that a lot of us
haven't been able to digest to the point where we can defend it as
eloquently as he does."

If Ryan can defend the Ryan plan better than anyone else, shouldn't he be
the one to debate the president about it in 2012? Shouldn't he consider
running for president if no viable candidate emerges to champion real
Medicare reform? "I'm not even going there," Ryan told me on Wednesday . "I'm not even going there with my mind or my discussions.... I have no doubt somebody who's
running for president sees the true nature of our fiscal condition, they'll
come to the similar conclusions about how best to fix [Medicare], if they're
a conservative."

John McCormack is a staff writer at THE WEEKLY STANDARD
2)With Obama, Looks Can Be Deceiving
By Robin of Berkeley

I'm pretty certain that a neighbor, Bill, stole something from me. This happened a few months ago.

A courier with a package for me knocked on his door for a signature when I wasn't in. Bill signed, and then somehow the package got "lost." I mentioned my suspicions to another neighbor, Kim, who lashed out at me.

"Bill would never do anything like that!" Kim was highly offended. Of course, in her eyes, Bill wouldn't behave this way. Because for her, appearances are deceiving.

Neighbor Bill is the quintessential nice guy -- warm, friendly, charming. He has a picture perfect family and an immaculate front lawn.

Like Kim, I was fooled by Bill too at first. But then I noticed cracks in his shiny facade; I started realizing that while his outside looked good, there was nothing inside but trouble.

I thought of Bill last week when I happened upon an article about a local doctor. Dr. Robert Kevess, a physician with the University of California at Berkeley, has been arrested for sexual misconduct with male patients. Apparently, Kevess confirmed the allegations in statements to police.

What the article doesn't say, in these politically correct times, is that the doctor was the health center's specialist in gay men's health. He also headed up their transgendered health department there. (Yes, there is a transgendered health department there, begun when the university's insurance carrier began paying for sex change operations for students a few years ago.)

I met Kevess once, so I knew him slightly. Upon first glance, he seemed like a decent fellow.

So I was shocked when I heard the news. I imagine that most people who knew him are stupefied. Kevess is a seasoned physician who has worked with thousands of students for 22 years. He was held in the highest esteem by his colleagues.

But did his colleagues miss some of the telltale signs that something was amiss? I can't say for sure, but my best guess would be yes.

Because in these situations, there are usually indicators that something isn't right, that someone isn't who he appears to be.

It's like those times when the police arrest a man who committed a heinous crime. When the neighbors are interviewed, they often comment that they had a sense that something was wrong, but couldn't put their finger on it: "There was just something about the man that I didn't trust."

It's a sixth sense, a gut reaction. It may take the form of queasiness when we're around the person or a sensation of being creeped out.

Sometimes the evidence is out-in-the-open, and yet people still turn away. For instance, what did we know from the get-go about Obama? We knew that he attended a Black Liberation Theology church for almost 20 years, and that his spiritual advisor, Rev. Wright bellowed, "G_d damn America." We knew that Obama had close ties to revolutionaries, including Bill Ayers.

But sometimes people will only see what they want to see because the alternative is too disruptive. It's the same reason why a man ignores clues that his new bride is cheating. Seeing would require facing the music and starting over.

Moreover, it can feel devastating to realize that one is wrong, whether about a mate or our choice of doctor or our pick for President. If we can't trust our own judgment, what can we trust?

Denial is rooted in the avoidance of truth because it would feel devastating. Reality will not only wreak havoc with our lives, but it may shatter our world view.

But as the popular adage goes: The truth hurts...but the truth will set you free. There is nothing quite as painful as a mega dose of the truth -- but there is also nothing as potentially liberating.

And here's some truth: People are not always as they appear to be. Sometimes the doctor is a predator, the nice neighbor a thief, and the beguiling political leader a wolf in sheep's clothing. And if we are not willing to take off the rose-colored glasses, we will put ourselves and everyone around us in danger.

But most people on the left choose denial, if not outright delusion. Why? Because, unlike conservatives, progressives don't just carry beliefs; they are their beliefs. Their ideology is their identity.

And stripped of this, what would they have left? Nothing, emptiness, being lost in an unfathomable universe. This is precisely why people create alternative realities...because the real one is too unbearable.

So the left attacks and intimidates the messengers, and they do this not just for political expediency. They do this to quell the doubts inside of them, the ones that threaten to break through their stealth defenses.

3)Maureen Dowd and the Barack Man's Burden
By Stuart Schwartz

Maureen Dowd has finally discovered the man of her dreams: Barack Obama. The New York Times columnist -- notorious for her disdain of all things testosterone -- let Times readers know this past week that she has finally found a man she can admire, a man of "muscular purpose" and steel beneath an exterior of "studied cool." And, in doing so, she has firmly grasped the baton being passed to her by other members of the Times' opinion corps and taken up the "Barack Man's Burden."

The relentless acclaim of all things Obama is the Times' version of the "White Man's Burden" immortalized in the poetry of Rudyard Kipling, the 19th century English writer who encouraged his nation to bring British rule to other and darker-skinned parts of the globe. Imperialism was a noble enterprise and a burden to be shouldered by the English for the good of humanity, went the reasoning. This meant, at times, justifying policies that were often wrongheaded and racist. However, the "White Man's Burden" justified autocratic government because non-Europeans purportedly were largely simpletons who could neither think nor govern as their more sophisticated and white betters.

Fast forward to the 21st century: The New York Times, a liberal media institution, has found its inner Kipling and given us the doctrine of the "Barack Man's Burden." This consists of equal parts racialism, good ol' fashioned thug government, and elitism. Promote both the man and his policies, for both are necessary to insure a proper future in which those born, educated, or selected for leadership occupy the top positions in government and other organizations. Therefore, it is the duty of every right-thinking progressive individual and institution to take up for Barack Obama, to assist in bringing his radical transformation to the nation and the world. The Barack Man's Burden: My Barack, right or wrong.

Never mind the Constitution and the resistance among those -- like the non-Europeans more than a century ago -- born to be led; never mind the fact that, as American Thinker's J.R. Dunn puts it, "Obama has compiled a record not only of pure incompetence, but willful incompetence." It does not matter because Barack Obama has "an obligation to rule over, and encourage" the ordinary and less enlightened citizens of the United States." And it is the obligation, indeed the burden of institutions like the Times to ensure victory for Obama and his fellow progressives. It is a dirty job, a long slog in which past pronouncements are merely words, never principles to stand upon, but someone has to do it. The Barack Man's Burden.

That is why the Times can excoriate President George W. Bush as a bloodthirsty tyrant delighting in the deaths of others, but now "celebrate a killing" ordered by Obama because, as the newspaper pointed out, "Reveling in a death can be an expression of unity, not vengeance." Maureen Dowd fawningly compares Obama to Michael Corleone in The Godfather, enthusing over the president's ability to calmly play nine rounds even as Navy Seals "carry out the gory hits he has ordered." A man, she enthuses, a real man! Not like that evil George Bush, of course, who struck back at those behind 9/11 because he was fueled by a "heady cocktail of testosterone and opportunism," a violent figure whose very male-ness is an affront to humanity. Rudyard Kipling would be proud and, if he were alive today, would be a Times opinion page poet, describing the fact-defying, consistency-be-darned approach of the New York Times to Barack Obama in this way:

Take up the Barack Man's burden--
And reap his old reward:
The blame of those ye better,
The hate of those ye guard--
The cry of hosts ye humor
(Ah, slowly!) toward the light:

Now Barack brings us from bondage,
Into our loved progressive night.

Male and female and David Brooks, the employees of the Times plunge ahead, bearing the Barack Man's Burden. Times columnist Paul Krugman, whom Hot Air describes as "everyone's favorite economist-turned-far-left bomb thrower," lets us know that Obama's economic policies are right on the money and would work -- if it weren't for the perfidy of corporations, the evil of Republicans, and the stupidity of the average Joe living west of the Hudson River. Ignorance fuels opposition to the Obama transformation, chimes in David Brooks, by those who resent the president's "intellect" and "expertise." Results? Hey, that's so yesterday! Obama is today, the future, the alpha and omega captured brilliantly by Times photographers in a "photograph of a backlit cross, over which the shadow of Obama is enveloped in a halo of light."

Such is the Barack Man's Burden. Looking at the photograph of Obama and company in the situation room, one blogger noted that the Times has thrown itself into the battle "to make the Jr. Chipmunk sitting in the small chair in the so-called 'iconic' photo seem more than he is." And now Maureen Dowd has jumped into the fray, intent on returning this president to the pedestal from which he repeatedly, jumps.

This is a president who "can lead straight on," who is not a wimp (unlike George Bush and most of the men around him). George Bush, John Wayne, Clint Eastwood, and others she's written about join most of the men in her life as small beside the godfather cool of the current resident of the White House. A flip-flop for a Times columnist with two decades of disdain for all things male? Yes, but even for a woman, such is the Barack Man's Burden.

Stuart Schwartz, a frequent AT writer, is on the faculty at Liberty University in Virginia.
4)Citizen Cain
By Matthew May

Now is the time to test whether the Tea Party means business because, judging by last week's Republican presidential debate, the Tea Party candidate for president in 2012 is self-evident.

Herman Cain is the ideal Tea Party candidate. Herman Cain is the ideal citizen candidate among the eminently forgettable posse of professional politicians. Cain has and utilizes, as he did last week in Greenville, South Carolina, the one asset that will unite constitutional conservatives: he is a plain-speaking Gadsden flag.

Generations of career politicians who, in the words of Daniel Webster, "mean to govern well, but mean to govern," have bankrupted our country in a slow side toward socialism and the withering of our liberty.

Patriots are clamoring for an individual who, as president, can calmly and confidently reorient this country to the Constitution and fiscal sanity. We the People must nominate the next Republican nominee, even (especially) if it means making an end run around the party establishment to put forth someone who is not of Washington, nor political moderation. We must eliminate candidates who have had a part -- large or small -- in contributing to the current crisis. That means no Romney, no Huckabee, no Gingrich, no Palin. The boldest statement that can be made is to elect a private citizen president.

Not for Cain is the dialect of programmed candidates controlled by Republican Party hacks or "up-and-coming political stars." As was obvious during the debate, Cain does not require handlers and consultants. No political consultant would ever tell a candidate to answer a question, to which he cannot truly give an informed answer, as Cain did on a question of national security, "I don't know all the facts." Few, if any, would encourage a candidate to endorse Benjamin Netanyahu's view on the ultimate aims of the jihadists. Cain speaks with total self-confidence born of ability and achievement, not the unearned laurels of sycophants.

Cain speaks blunt truths about how far we have fallen from our charters and the necessity to restore them and revere them again. As he recently told Neil Cavuto when refusing to walk back comments about a ban on Muslims in a Cain administration, he only wants "true patriots" around him, committed and dedicated to the Constitution, the Declaration, and the laws of this country. What else matters?

Cain has proven himself again and again as an executive (which, lest anyone forget, is the office he is seeking), willing to begin at ground level and rising to save a company from bankruptcy. He is a scholar, a mathematician (bachelors from Morehouse), and computer scientist (masters from Purdue) who speaks logically and plainly. He recognizes that this is a world of absolutes, right and wrong, and operates so. He does not fail, nor does he ever need to preface any statement with "Let me be clear."

A Cain candidacy would give conservative voters a break during October 2012 in the form of a candidate before whom we do not cringe in anticipatory dread during the presidential debates. Cain would crush the president in a debate, and would do so as calmly and precisely as he demolished Bill Clinton in 1994. Cain is Obama's worst nightmare: A strong black man from the South, a self-made black man, unafraid of anyone, unafraid to say directly to Obama's face what needs to be said directly, as often as it needs to be said. Cain has had a true American experience. He knows from real racism and segregation, not some intellectualized rage formulated in the soft environs of the Ivy League. Cain did not beg, borrow, and steal for a piece of the pie -- he quite literally made his own pies. His example is the American example.

There will no doubt be wails from all corners that someone like Cain is "not qualified" for the presidency because he lacks decades of experience in government. Not qualified? By what standard? A short time ago, this country elected, through willful ignorance and misplaced guilt, a dilettante who would hardly deign to vote other than "present." We elected a man whose life story is shrouded in a mysterious haze that absurdly thickens as time passes. We elected a man with personal and professional associations that should have blasted him off of any slate for any office. We elected a man who wanted every roadblock thrown in the way of military operations over which he now presents himself as author and executor. The only positive consequence of the election of Barack Obama is that the completely arbitrary and elastic list of standards for presidential qualification was obliterated.

Sure, the left will brand Cain an "Uncle Tom," and call him a sellout or a self-loathing black man. Some outfit already declared Cain a "monkey in the window" for delivering a speech at CPAC described as a "minstrel show." It is to be expected, but it is also to be relished. In their default position, the left does not count upon younger generations of voters who have already seen past their tired racism and demagoguery. A man like Cain will use these slurs to complete advantage. As Cain says proudly anywhere and everywhere, he is an ABC -- American, Black, and Conservative.

Patriots must align with an individual who will take the fight first to the GOP, and then to Obama, without reserve and without quarter. We must not afflict ourselves with inside-the-Beltway mentality about the necessity of our "top-tier" candidate having so-called experience in Washington or other councils of government. Look where that mentality has brought us. Nor must we buy in to the empty cult of celebrity that so easily seduces the left.

In short, we must support and advance the candidacy of a capable citizen who not only speaks the language of freedom and democratic republicanism, but also lives it. We must support someone who has the wonderful temerity and capability to defend what is worth defending. If we are serious about really changing the American political culture, we must support and advance the candidacy of Herman Cain, citizen.

"Plain talk is like spring medicine -- unpalatable, but necessary."
- John Boyle O'Reilly

Matthew May is the author of a forthcoming book entitled Restoration.
5)Cairo to move Meshaal's Hamas base to Gaza. Assad threatens Israel with war

military rulers promised Hamas' political leader Khaled Meshaal to let him transfer his base, command center and residence from troubled Damascus to a new haven in the Gaza Strip as an inducement for signing the Palestinian unity agreement with Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah on May 4. This is disclosed for the first time by intelligence sources. In Damascus, Bashar Assad's close confidante Rami Makhlouf threatened that Syria would go to war against Israel in reprisal for US and Europe backing for the uprising.

Makhlouf, an international business tycoon, is on the US and EU sanctions lists. In an interview with the New York Times Wednesday, May 11, he said: "If there is no stability here, there's no way there will be stability in Israel. No way, and nobody can guarantee what will happen after, God forbid, anything happens to this regime."
He advised the US and Europe not to "put a lot of pressure on the president, don't push Syria to do anything it is not happy to do."

The Syrian president is examining two strategic options, he said: "Going to war against Israel, and/or sending weapons shipments to the West Bank and to Israeli Arabs for use in terrorist attacks against Israel.

Military sources note Makhlouf, who is a cousin of Bashar Assad, built up his fortune from smuggling Saddam Hussein's underground fighters, weapons and funds from their havens in Syria to Iraq, as well as al Qaeda combatants and leaders to fight Americans into the wartorn country. He therefore has excellent connections with terrorist networks and is very familiar with their requirements for pursuing suicide bombing campaigns.

The tycoon would not have made his remarks to the NYT without the Syrian president's nod. So they may be safely interpreted as a declaration that the Assad regime is holding Israel hostage for its survival against the groundswell of popular disaffection shaking it for more than two months.

Those remarks were also addressed to Jordan, Iraq and Lebanon, the sources of weapons consignments to Syrian protesters which Damascus believes Saudi Arabia as well as the US and European nations are generating. If that influx is not stopped, therefore, the Syrian government threatens to respond in kind by secreting arms and money into the West Bank and Israeli Arab districts in order to foment an armed uprising against Israel. This step would also undermine another Western interest by menacing Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas.

According to intelligence sources, the transfer of Khaled Meshaal lock, stock and barrel, from Damascus to Gaza serves the diametrically opposite interests of the current Egyptian and Syrian rulers alike. It was agreed between them - out of totally different considerations - during several visits to the Syrian capital by the new Egyptian intelligence minister Gen. Murad Muwafi from mid-March to late April:

For Cairo, the relocation of the Hamas epicenter to Gaza is pivotal to Egypt's return to an active role in the Palestinian arena, whereas Damascus sees the strengthened Hamas presence in Gaza as a key instrument for implementing Makhlouf's threats.

Sources say Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has responded to these disruptions with two discreet steps:

1. The defense ministry's political coordinator, Gen. (res.) Amos Gilad, was removed from the Israeli-Egyptian military-cum-intelligence track. The formal reason given for his exclusion was the removal from power of Hosni Mubarak's intelligence minister, Gen. Omar Suleiman, with whom Gilad developed strong personal ties. He is now under investigation and partial house arrest in Egypt.

The real reason is that his evaluations and forecasts which formed the basis of Israel's security policy in recent years proved erroneous. The Israeli government must now go back to square one to chart new courses in the face of radical changes around its borders.

2. Gilad's place is taken by Prime Minister Netanyahu's personal political adviser, Yitzhak Molcho, who earlier this week was sent to Cairo for talks with the new intelligence minister, Gen. Muwafi, to explore the new ties between Egypt, Syria and Hamas and find out what Cairo was aiming for by the reshuffle of these relationships.
Molcho returned to home just before Independence Day (Tuesday, May 10) with a very despondent report. The only ray of light he saw was the possibility of Syria and Egypt, each for its own reasons, leaning on Hamas to climb down on its price for setting the Israeli soldier Gilead Shalit free nearly five years after he was kidnapped on the Israeli side of the Gaza border.

While Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak were putting their heads together on tactics for grappling with the explosive new situation Egypt is helping to put in place in the Gaza Strip, Makhlouf put a message from his masters up front: The real danger to Israel of a military flare-up lies in Damascus which continues to call the Palestinian shots.
6)Goldman Sees Commodity Recovery as Slump Wipes Out $99 Billion

The commodities rout that knocked off $99 billion of market value last week is driving out speculators and leading Goldman Sachs Group Inc., which forecast the plunge, to predict a possible recovery.

The combination of slower growth in U.S. service industries and fewer German manufacturing orders helped drive the Standard & Poor’s GSCI Index of 24 commodities down 11 percent in five days, the most since December 2008, and erased all the gains since mid-March. Wheat, zinc and gold rebounded at the end of the week as U.S. payrolls exceeded economists’ forecasts, reducing concern that demand will weaken.

“Given the magnitude of the pullback, it does create an opportunity for more upside potential, particularly in the second half of this year, when fundamentals are expected to tighten,” Jeffrey Currie, the London-based head of commodity research at Goldman, said in a May 6 interview. A month ago, Currie told investors they should be “underweight” in commodities. “In the very near-term, we’d be a little cautious,” he says now.

The value of all 24 commodities tracked by the S&P GSCI index was about $805 billion on May 6, compared with $891 billion on April 29, according to data compiled by Bloomberg on the number of outstanding contracts and prices of futures closest to delivery. Combined holdings of exchange-traded products backed by precious metals fell to $119 billion from $132 billion, the data show.

Investment Funds

Speculators retreated after investment funds had made near-record bets on price gains last month and the S&P GSCI reached the highest since August 2008. Commodities beat stocks, bonds and the dollar for five consecutive months through the end of April, the longest in at least 14 years, on forecasts for demand exceeding output in everything from oil to copper to corn.

The most influential analysts and fund managers are divided on where prices are headed. The last time the S&P GSCI fell this much, the index rebounded 12 percent the following week, and by the end of last month, it had more than doubled.

Bulls say the expanding global economy, led by growth in China, India and Brazil, is boosting demand at a time when producers from BHP Billiton Ltd., the largest mining company, to BP Plc, Europe’s second-biggest oil producer, can’t keep up.

Selling would be “premature,” and the rally will resume, said Hussein Allidina, the head of commodity research at Morgan Stanley in New York, reiterating comments made before the rout. “The decline we are seeing is not being driven by any meaningful change in fundamentals,” he said.

‘Not Turning Point’

“This is not a turning point,” said Kevin Norrish, a London-based managing director at Barclays Capital, whose commodities research team is ranked by Bloomberg in the top three for copper and gold. “We’d expect to see a pretty good recovery from these levels before too long.”

Brent crude should rebound about 5 percent to $115 a barrel in coming weeks because violence in northern Africa and the Middle East continues, said Christin Tuxen, an analyst at Danske Bank A/S in Copenhagen and the most-accurate oil forecaster tracked by Bloomberg over eight quarters. The fighting already curbed supply from Libya and increased concern that it may spread to regional producers including Saudi Arabia.

JPMorgan Chase & Co. raised its oil-price forecasts for this year and next on May 6 because it expects production to fall short of demand. Brent crude will average $120 in 2011 and 2012, from previous estimates of $110 and $114, the bank said. Oil prices should match or top their recent highs by next year, Goldman said in a note to clients on the same day.

Global Recession

The bears say that even if the economy grows, speculation is so excessive that prices no longer reflect supply and demand. The S&P GSCI Index still is 33 percent higher than a year ago and more than twice where it was in February 2009, when economies were recovering from the global recession.

Commodities are at the start of a bear market that may last as long as five to 10 years, said Michael Aronstein, the president of Marketfield Asset Management in New York who correctly predicted the 2008 slump that drove the benchmark index down 66 percent in seven months.

The scale of investment means “supply and demand is almost meaningless,” Aronstein said in an interview May 6. “It’s almost like the last days of the tech bubble.”

Oil, which lost 15 percent last week in New York and 13 percent in London, became “detached from fundamentals,” said Oswald Clint, London-based head oil analyst at Sanford C. Bernstein, the joint-most-accurate oil forecaster tracked by Bloomberg in 2010. Brent could drop below $100 a barrel, about 8 percent lower than now, he said.

Commodity Funds

About $9.61 billion went into commodity funds in the first quarter, more than triple the $2.77 billion a year earlier, EPFR Global, a Cambridge, Massachusetts-based research firm, said in a report in April. Energy funds attracted $10.9 billion, compared with a year-earlier outflow of $367 million.

A rebound in the dollar also dimmed the appeal for commodities that are priced in the U.S. currency. The Dollar Index, a measure against six counterparts, rose 2.6 percent last week, the most since August. The index has a negative correlation of 0.89 to the S&P GSCI Index. A figure of 1 would mean they move in lockstep. The currency gauge may drop to the lowest since July 2008 by the end of the year, estimates compiled by Bloomberg show.

“This is probably the beginning of a bear phase, even if it’s temporary, where the dollar and bonds will be more popular than commodities,” said Chris Rupkey, chief financial economist at Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ Ltd. in New York. “It’s fitting hand in glove with the U.S. slowdown story.”

Five-Day Slump

The S&P GSCI’s five-day slump, the longest since August, began on May 2 and accelerated on May 5 by plunging 6.5 percent, the most since January 2009.

Silver led the rout after CME Group Inc., the owner of the Comex exchange, increased the cost of making new speculative positions by 84 percent in two weeks. Prices that advanced as much as 61 percent to $49.845 an ounce this year tumbled 27 percent last week to $35.287 on May 6. The metal may drop as low as $30 toward the end of the year before rebounding as gold rallies, said Dan Smith, the London-based analyst at Standard Chartered Plc, which predicted a decline in prices last month.

Gold also fell, declining 4.2 percent to $1,491.60 an ounce last week, after the Wall Street Journal reported May 4 that Soros Fund Management LLC, the hedge fund chaired by billionaire investor George Soros, sold some of its precious-metal holdings.

Bullion will advance to a record $1,650 by year-end, partly fueled by central banks buying to diversify their reserves, said Andrew Kaleel, chief executive officer of Sydney-based H3 Global Advisors Pty Ltd., which has a commodity hedge fund managing about A$600 million ($642 million).

Gold Reserves

Mexico, Russia and Thailand bought about a combined $6 billion of bullion in February and March, International Monetary Fund data show. Since the end of 2009, countries including India, Sri Lanka, Mauritius and Bangladesh have bought metal. Central banks are expanding their gold reserves for the first time in a generation as bullion rises for an 11th consecutive year, the longest winning streak since at least 1920.

The killing of al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden may have been the catalyst for this week’s slide in oil, the biggest exchange-traded commodity by value. Crude had surged as much as 25 percent this year as violence swept through northern Africa and the Middle East, disrupting 1.3 million barrels a day from Libya and raising concerns of shortages from the Persian Gulf. Since bin Laden’s death was announced, traders shifted their focus to prospects of weaker demand.

Service Industries

Service industries in the U.S. expanded in April at the slowest pace in eight months, the Institute for Supply Management said May 4. Applications for jobless benefits jumped the most since August in the week ended April 30, the Labor Department said May 5. That was tempered by a report from the department a day later showing payrolls increased last month by the most since May 2010.

Factory orders in Germany, Europe’s largest economy, unexpectedly dropped 4 percent in March, the Economy Ministry said May 5. The country’s industrial production rose for a third time the same month, the ministry said the next day.

Central bankers also helped drive commodities lower last week by indicating their intention to cool growth to combat inflation. Rates rose in more than two-dozen countries this year, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

European Central Bank President Jean-Claude Trichet said May 6 that policy makers are “extremely alert” on inflation after they raised interest rates on April 7, joining China, India, Poland and Sweden in seeking to control consumer prices with tighter monetary policy. Trichet said he may take further decisions on rates after new economic projections in June.

Wheat Futures

While every commodity tracked by the S&P GSCI fell last week, some rebounded May 6. Wheat futures rose 2 percent on the Kansas City Board of Trade as drought and flooding threatened crops in North America, Europe and Asia. Cocoa, cattle, zinc, gold, copper, nickel and soybeans also gained.

Lower prices also may spur more demand. Barclays, which told investors in a report May 6 to use the slump to buy, is forecasting shortfalls in production this year for copper, nickel, tin, lead, platinum and palladium. Rabobank expects demand to exceed output in corn and cotton, according to a report last month.

“Ultimately, supply remains weak, and demand remains strong, and that’s why they will eventually go higher,” said John Stephenson, who helps manage $2.6 billion at First Asset Investment Management Inc. in Toronto. “Commodities, in the worst case, will start firming by late August, but in the meantime, I would see this as a buying opportunity.”

Oil Demand

Oil demand will exceed supply this year, the U.S. Energy Department said in a report April 12. Billionaire hedge-fund manager T. Boone Pickens said May 3 that prices will rise.

“If you look at the fourth-quarter projection for oil, that’s 90 million barrels a day globally, and I don’t think the world can produce more than 88 million,” Pickens said in an interview from Los Angeles with Willow Bay and Lisa Murphy on Bloomberg Television’s “Fast Forward.”

For now, funds are probably still trimming bets on higher commodity prices. Net-long positions held by managed-money funds fell 2.4 percent to 1.45 million futures and options in the week ended May 3, Commodity Futures Trading Commission data show. They reached a record 1.56 million contracts in October.

Open interest in 17 of 19 commodities tracked by the Thomson Reuters/Jefferies CRB Index dropped 0.6 percent to 8.15 million contracts, data from the CFTC show. That compares with an all-time high of 8.6 million on Feb. 18.

“I don’t think the commodities boom is over,” said Robbert Van Batenburg, an analyst at Louis Capital Markets in New York, who correctly predicted a 2007 rebound in oil. “We may see a pause in the rally, and that’s OK. Past the summer doldrums, I think the rally picks up where we left off.”

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