Sunday, June 19, 2011

Obama-Expert At Passing The Buck So It Never Stops!

Assad ordered Hariri's assassination according to a former German investigator who relied heavily upon testimony of a former official who fled Syria. (See 1 below.)

Assad's ship is in danger of sinking and if so the implications for Iran would be stressful, serious but who can predict the consequences. A variety of thoughts. (See 1a below.)

Assad the obdurate. What will Sec. Clinton and Obama do now? More pacification, kiss and make-up attempts? (See 1b below.)
Had WW2 DP's engaged in the strategy of Arabs would the world be any different?
(See 2 below.)
"Misery Level Index" seems to track Obama's performance in an inverse manner. The more Obama accomplishes less the higher the index goes. The good news is gloom has not reached doom proportions but it is heading there. (See 3 below.)

According to Fred Barnes our ship of state is leaderless. He believes Obama is a follower and would rather not lead.

In my opinion Obama is clueless about what to do. Yes, like all presidents he inherited problems. Perhaps his somewhat more difficult than others but what did he do about them? He proceeded to make them worse.

Obama spent his entire life benefiting from Affirmative Action, making speeches and being carried on the shoulders of his party and loyal supporters. His accomplishments are minimal, his qualifications for the office he occupies questionable and as thin as mica. He is an expert at passing the buck so it never stops on his desk. (See 3a below.)

Daniel Flynn cites 10 reasons why Obama is a likely one termer. (See 3b below.)
Media and press bias is a common event. Honest Reporting, Camera and MEMRI are private organizations that try to keep them honest. Though it remains mostly a losing battle at least they try and are effective up to a point.

The most obvious demonstration is the increasing number of independent minded Americans who no longer trust newspapers and or media outlets. Ask the New York Times etc. why their readership and influence is waning.

For whatever reason, the Wall Street Journal and Fox have risen. (See 4 below.)
Sick clever humor Henny Youngman style: "A wife says to her husband you're always pushing me around and talking behind my back. He says what do you expect? You're in a wheel chair."

"I found out that it’s not good to talk about my troubles. Eighty percent of the people who hear them don’t care and the other twenty percent are glad you’re having them." Tommy LaSorda, LA Dodgers manager.

"Our biggest concern this season will be diaper rash."
George MacIntyre, Vanderbilt football coach surveying the team roster that included 26 freshmen and 25 sophomores.

Directly underneath you will find an up-to-date table that contains all of the budget surpluses and deficits in the United States from 1940 until present day, both in nominal dollars and inflation adjusted dollars. Projections for both 2009 and 2010 are included as well.

The sea of red ink knows no ending!(See 5 below.)
1)Probe chief: Assad ordered Hariri killed
Judge who headed probe on Lebanese premier's death says Syria feared he would overturn regime
By Roee Nahmias

The German judge who was in charge of an investigation on the murder of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri says the Syrian regime ordered his assassination.

In an interview with a German radio station, Detlev Mehlis said Syrian President Bashar Assad "ordered Hariri killed" because he feared the premier was cooperating with France and the US in order to overturn the Syrian regime and disarm Hezbollah.

Mehlis revealed during the interview, which was carried by many local news agencies, that the main reason for the order was UN Resolution 1559, which took aim at Syria.

He said witness testimonies gathered by his commission indicate that "the structure of the Syrian regime does not allow such a crime to be carried out without explicit orders from Assad".

Mehlis stressed the importance of testimony given by Abdelhalim Kheddam, a former Syrian vice president who fled the country.

The Syrian regime is built like a pyramid, with those close to the top becoming wealthy, but when they feel the regime is in danger they change their behavior "as in any dictatorship", Mehlis said, adding that he believes the current regime will fall within a year or two.

The Mehlis Commission issued a report in 2005, in which the judge wrote that Syria must arrest suspects involved in the planning, financing, organization, and initiation of terrorist acts.

1a)The destruction of Syria's Assad dictatorship is the lynch-pin which could most contribute to a Middle Eastern swerve towards independent democracies, while isolating the terrorist Islamic regimes of Hezbollah and Hamas.


“If the Alawites lose the battle for the Syrian street and their control of the government, the worst will transpire for them,” declares Prof. Mordechai Kedar of Bar-Ilan University. “Frenzied Sunni masses will descend on Alawi neighbourhoods in Damascus, Homs, Hama and Aleppo armed with knives ready to detach Alawi heads from their necks.” Kedar is a veteran of 25 years in Israeli intelligence. The country, he feels, could be “blown apart” in the same way that Yugoslovia collapsed. “The Kurds in the north will declare independence as did their brethren in Iraq; the Druze in the south will restore the autonomy stolen from them by France in 1925; the Bedouins in the east will establish a state with Dir a-Zur as its capital; the Aleppans will exploit the opportunity to throw off the yoke of the hated Damascenes. Thus,” Kedar concludes, “six states will rise from the ruins of Syria.”....

Rami Khouri, director of the Issam Fares Institute for Public Policy and International Affairs of the American University of Beirut, believes time has run out for the Syrian dictator Bashar Assad. “He’s already gone over the edge. I don’t see any way back.”....

Khaled Yacoub Oweis, reports from Oman for Reuters News Agency, “there have been no mass desertions from the military, but the loyalty of the SunniMuslim conscripts might waver if the crackdown on mainly Sunni protestors continue”....

The Economist, among others, reports “Protestors have begun to wave placards denouncing Mr. Assad’s ally, Iran, and chanting against Hizbullah....its leader, Hassan Nasrallah, has recently spoken up for Mr. Assad.”.....

Scott Peterson, reporting from Istanbul, states: “Of all the regional revolts, Syria’s presents the biggest dilemma for Iran. Syria is the linchpin that connects Iran to the powerful Shiite Hezbullah militia in Lebanon. Together, Syria, Iran, and Hezbullah, along with the Palestinian Hamas, form the so-called ‘Axis of
Resistance’ against Israel and Western aims throughout the Middle East. But if Mr. Assad is forced from power, that axis—and Iran’s ‘soft power’ reach in the region—could be in jeopardy.” Jubin Goodarzi, Mideast specialist at Webster University in Geneva, states “If the Syrian regime (falls), that will be a major blow to Iran’s foreign policy, in terms of ideological aspirations, projecting its power in the eastern Mediterranean, (and) trying to participate—whether substantially or symbolically—in the Arab-Israeli conflict.”.....

The Christian Science Monitor: “As change has swept through the Middle East, Ahmadinejad’s star has fallen. Anti-Iran and anti-Hezabullah chants echo across Syria, and the reach of Iran’s soft power is limited. Arab nations remain suspicious of Persian Iran and its regional and nuclear ambitions. More broadly, a March BBC global public opinion poll of more than 28,600 people in 27 countries found Iran to be the least favourably viewed nation—its negative rating of 59% is higher even than North Korea’s.”....

The Monitor II: “Syrian witnesses allege that both Hezbullah and Iranian personnel are in the streets helping with the government crackdown. And analysts say there is unease within Hezbullah, even if it still believes Assad can prevail.”....
Aviation Week and Space Technology: “Israel has emerged as one of India’s biggest suppliers of weapons and equipment in the last seven years...” This publication is a major source of information to the aviation world internationally and has great Israeli coverage—one of the few publications recognizing Israel’s world-wide prominence in this field. “Flight” (British) also hailed Israel’s supremacy in the field of unmanned aerial vehicles.....

1b)No compromise in Assad speech - only vow to keep on battling "terrorists"

In his first address to the nation in two months, Syrian President Bashar Assad accused a "minute" number of "terrorists" backed by "conspirators at home and abroad" of exploiting legitimate demands for reform to serve their longstanding plots to control Syria because of its geo-strategic importance.

While hinting at possible reforms, Assad insisted that this depended on overcoming "obstacles" - the outcome of "external and internal conspiracies" - which could take months if not years. At the beginning of the disturbances, he said he had counted 64,000 "common law offenders" on the streets, equal to five army brigades. Some had turned themselves in. Many were in jail. He also blamed "fundamentalists" –external and internal – who had again raised their heads after many years and were obstructing reform

Condemned worldwide for the savage crackdown of protest he has ordered since it erupted in March, Assad gave not the slightest hint that he intended dismissing his brother Gen. Maher Assad for leading soldiers shooting protesters - much less stepping aside himself. Indeed he spoke in the pained tone of a wronged and misunderstood leader: "We have gone through difficult times and many innocent people paid a painful price," he said and called on the thousands of Syrians who fled their homes [more than 10,000 to Turkey and many more to the hills] to return.
(At the same time, Syrian soldiers blocked roads to the Turkish frontier after burning the Syrian villages which had been giving food to people in flight from their homes.)

The audience of regime dignitaries did not greet him with its usual enthusiasm. They clapped politely only when he touched on reforms and the need for national dialogue – such as when he acknowledged that many ordinary people had legitimate needs and it was the government's duty to serve them. There was no response when he accused "terrorists" of being paid by foreign forces to stage riots and spread videos across the world, or when he said, "Gunmen in Jisr al-Shoghour had sophisticated weapons and communications" and Syrian security had caught them" driving 4x4s with machine guns."

Assad's cure for all Syria's ills was "national dialogue" with all sections of society to sound out the real needs of the people. A differentiation must be made between protesters and terrorists. But this process must take place in full respect of national institutions, said Assad. Recovery would take time, he said because the conspiracies from aboard had weakened the nation's immunity. But Syria must deal with its own troubles
2)What If Jews Had Followed the Palestinian Path?
Postwar Jewish refugees left everything they had in Europe—no 'right of return' requested.

It is doubtful that there has ever been a more miserable human refuse than Jewish survivors after World War II. Starving, emaciated, stateless—they were not welcomed back by countries where they had lived for generations as assimilated and educated citizens. Germany was no place to return to and in Kielce, Poland, 40 Jews who survived the Holocaust were killed in a pogrom one year after the war ended. The European Jew, circa 1945, quickly went from victim to international refugee disaster.

Yet within a very brief time, this epic calamity disappeared, so much so that few people today even remember the period. How did this happen in an era when Palestinian refugees have continued to be stateless for generations?

In 1945, there were hundreds of thousands of Jewish survivors living in DP Camps (displaced persons) across Europe. They were fed and clothed by Jewish and international relief organizations. Had the world's Jewish population played this situation as the Arabs and Palestinians have, everything would look very different today.

To begin with, the Jews would all still be living in these DP camps, only now the camps would have become squalid ghettos throughout Europe. The refugees would continue to be fed and clothed by a committee similar to UNRWA—the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (paid for mostly by the United States since 1948). Blessed with one of the world's highest birth rates, they would now number in the many millions. And 66 years later, new generations, fed on a mixture of hate and lies against the Europeans, would now seethe with anger.

Sometime in the early 1960s, the Jewish leadership of these refugee camps, having been trained in Moscow to wreak havoc on the West (as Yasser Arafat was) would have started to employ terrorism to shake down governments. Airplane hijackings in the 1970s would have been followed by passenger killings. There would have been attacks on high-profile targets as well—say, the German or Polish Olympic teams.

By the 1990s, the real mayhem would have begun. Raised on victimhood and used as cannon fodder by corrupt leaders, a generation of younger Jews would be blowing up buses, restaurants and themselves. The billions of dollars extorted from various governments would not have gone to the inhabitants of the camps. The money would be in the Swiss bank accounts of the refugees' famous and flamboyant leaders and their lackies.

So now it's the present, generations past the end of World War II, and the festering Jewish refugee problem throughout Europe has absolutely no end in sight. The worst part of this story would be the wasted lives of millions of human beings in the camps—inventions not invented, illnesses not cured, high-tech startups not started up, symphonies and books not written—a real cultural and spiritual desert.

None of this happened, of course. Instead, the Jewish refugees returned to their ancestral homeland. They left everything they had in Europe and turned their backs on the Continent—no "right of return" requested. They were welcomed by the 650,000 Jewish residents of Israel.

An additional 700,000 Jewish refugees flooded into the new state from Arab lands after they were summarily kicked out. Again losing everything after generations in one place; again welcomed in their new home.

In Israel, they did it all the hard way. They built a new country from scratch with roads, housing and schools. They created agricultural collectives to feed their people. They created a successful economy without domestic oil, and they built one of the world's most vibrant democracies in a region sadly devoid of free thought.

Yes, the Israelis did all this with the financial assistance of Jews around the world and others who helped get them on their feet so they could take care of themselves. These outsiders did not ignore them, or demean them, or use them as pawns in their own political schemes—as the Arab nations have done with the Palestinians.

I imagine the argument will be made that while the Jews may have achieved all this, they did not have their land stolen from them. This is, of course, a canard, another convenient lie. They did lose property all over Europe and the Mideast. And there was never an independent Palestine run by Palestinian Arabs. Ever. Jews and Arabs lived in this area controlled first by the Turks and then by the British. The U.N. offered the two-state solution that we hear so much about in 1947. The problem then, and now, is that it was accepted by only one party, Israel. No doubt, the situation of Arab residents of the Middle East back then may have been difficult, but it is incomprehensible that their lot was worse than that of the Jews at the end of World War II.

We don't hear about any of this because giving human beings hope and purpose doesn't make great copy. Squalor, victimhood and terror are always more exciting. Perhaps in the end, the greatest crime of the Jews was that they quietly created something from nothing. And in the process, they transformed themselves.

Golda Meir is credited with having said that if the Jews had not fought back against the Arab armies and had been destroyed in 1948, they would have received the most beautiful eulogies throughout the world. Instead, they chose to stand their ground and defend themselves. And in winning, they received the world's condemnation. Meir said she would take the condemnation over the eulogies.

Mr. Kozak is the author of "LeMay: The Life and Wars of General Curtis LeMay" (Regnery, 2009).
3)'Misery' Levels Hit 28-Year-High in US
By Julie Crawshaw

The latest “Misery Index” shows Americans are more miserable than they’ve been in the past 28 years, economically speaking.

The monthly index, an unofficial measurement created by economist Arthur Okun back in the 1970s using the simple premise to total the inflation and unemployment rates, is now 62 percent higher than when President Barack Obama first took office in 2009.

The May index is at 12.7 (9.1 percent unemployment and 3.6 percent annualized inflation). That compares to an all-time high of 21.98 in June 1980, and a historical low of 2.97 in July 1953. In 2011, it has inched up every month since January’s reading of 10.63.

“The good news is that other measures suggest conditions aren't quite that bad and over the next 18 months the gloom should lift a little,” a chief U.S. economist wrote in a Misery analysis reported by CNBC. “The bad news is that households won't be in the mood to boost their spending significantly for several more years.”

An alternative gauge, put forth in 1999 by Robert Barro, encompasses a wider swath of misery, measuring employment against the so-called “natural rate,” and comparing inflation against the previous 10 years. It also looks at whether gross domestic product is below its “potential” and compares yields on the 10-year Treasury note against the yields of the previous 10 years.

Capital Economics’ Paul Dales says the Barro Index is indicating that while things aren't expected to get dramatically better, the level of misery is probably at a peak and should roll back over the next 18 months.

“The upshot is that Americans might not be quite as miserable as the Okun misery index appears to suggest,” Dales said. “And as inflation falls back, some of the gloom will lift.”

Of course, predictions of misery vary depending on who you ask. For instance, USA Today reports that, according to Congressional Budget Office Director Douglas Elmendorf, much of the misery from the economic downturn still lies ahead for the American public.

© Moneynews. All rights reserved.

3a)Follower in Chief
Lead? President Obama would prefer not to.

We’ve had strong presidents and weak presidents, skillful presidents and incompetent presidents, mediocre presidents and just plain poor presidents. Barack Obama stands alone as the first president who simply declines to lead.

On almost every major issue since he took office in January 2009, Obama has dumped responsibility on someone else, merely paid lip service, or let the issue quietly fade away. Just this year, the issues that have gotten the no-leadership treatment from Obama include: the deficit, the debt, Medicare, Social Security, Medi-caid, energy, corporate taxes, medical liability, immigration, and Libya.

The president set his pattern of negligible leadership early on in his administration. Rather than draft his own proposals on economic stimulus, health care, cap and trade, and Wall Street reform—his top priorities—he delegated the job to Democrats in Congress.

Even Jimmy Carter, one of our weakest presidents, didn’t do this. And strong presidents, like Lyndon Johnson and Ronald Reagan, never considered deferring to Congress in that way. They followed the traditional practice of drafting specific legislation—two major tax bills and a military buildup in Reagan’s case, civil rights and Medicare in LBJ’s—and pressing Congress to ratify their recommendations.

Why is Obama so leadership averse? For one thing, it gives him flexibility since he’s not tied irrevocably to what congressional Democrats come up with. And it limits his accountability. He’s free to attack Republican proposals without attaching himself to an alternative that Republicans could attack.

Obama is comfortable talking about a range of issues. But more often than not he adopts a vague or equivocal position (or no position at all) and fails to lean on Congress to take action. Obama has frequently advocated a cut in the corporate tax rate this year, for example, then done nothing to achieve it.

The one specific proposal by Obama this year was a federal budget for 2012, submitted to Congress in February. But after it was widely criticized for failing to tackle the critical spending and debt problem, Obama jettisoned it. He replaced it, in effect, with a nebulous plan lacking in specifics such as a spending baseline or 10-year time frame. At the same time, he denounced the scrupulously specific Republican budget passed by the House for “changing the basic social compact in America.”

The normal procedure in the Senate, once the House has approved a budget, is to pass one of its own, followed by a Senate-House conference to iron out the differences. However, Majority Leader Harry Reid has refused (for the second straight year) to pass a budget, prompting Minority Leader Mitch McConnell to note that “we had [two] competing versions” of a budget in the Senate, both offered by Republicans. Democrats voted down both.

On Medicare, the program’s trustees have projected that the program will run out of money in 2024. The Congressional Budget Office puts the date at 2020. Responding to this, the House budget would replace traditional Medicare with “premium support” for seniors to purchase health insurance.

Neither Obama nor Senate Democrats have proposed an alternative for saving Medicare, though Democratic senator Chuck Schumer of New York said it must stay in its “current form with no cuts to seniors’ benefits.” This is the path to bankruptcy.

In the current bipartisan negotiations on raising the debt limit by $2 trillion, it’s unlikely the White House and Democrats will agree to any serious Medicare reforms. On the contrary, they’re eager to exploit the Republican plan as a campaign issue in the 2012 election. The closed-door negotiations, by the way, are appropriate for a nonleader, allowing Obama’s minions to argue for specific policies without ever advocating them publicly.

At fundraising events, Obama insists he’s ready to take on Medicare and Social Security. “Yes, we’ve got to make changes so that Medicare and Social Security are there for future generations,” he said at a Democratic National Committee event in Miami last week. Yet the White House has privately told Republicans not to bring up Social Security in the current talks.

A bolder and quite public tack was taken by President George W. Bush in 2005. He spent the year talking up the broad outlines of a plan to insure the long-term solvency of Social Security, without success.

In late 1997, President Bill Clinton agreed, in private, to a compromise with House speaker Newt Gingrich on modifying Social Security. At the last minute, Clinton backed away when the Monica Lewinsky scandal broke.

But the terms of the compromise—slowing the growth of benefits for the well-off and slightly raising the ceiling on income subject to the payroll tax—are still relevant. They were basically embraced by Obama’s debt commission in December, but not by Obama. He’s proposed no solution to Social Security’s looming breakdown, once again declining to lead.

A talking point in Obama’s fundraising speeches is the need for “a smart immigration policy in this country.” That’s true, but he hasn’t proposed one. In Miami, the president criticized the practice of attracting foreign students and forcing them to leave the United States after they “get Ph.D.s in engineering and math and science.” Has he sought to change the rules to allow them to stay here? Take a guess.

An Obama aide told Ryan Lizza of the New Yorker that in foreign affairs the president favors “leading from behind.” That means he scarcely leads at all. On domestic policy, it’s the same, only worse.

Fred Barnes is executive editor of The Weekly Standard.

3b) 10 Reasons Obama is a One-Term Presidentby
By Daniel J. Flynn

Less than two months ago, buzzing from the president’s gutsy call to eliminate Osama bin Laden, liberal pontificators had practically sworn in Barack Obama for his second term. “For the GOP the sands are rushing through the hourglass,” Roger Simon wrote in a column whose title had wondered whether the president was “invincible.” He claimed that with Geronimo KIA, “the Republican field has been fried like an egg.” In reality, the president’s short-term popularity boost had fried the long-term judgment of his supporters.

The reasons to believe Obama a one-term president are many and well-grounded.

10. The Declaration of Independents

Candidate Obama attracted independents. President Obama repulses them. The president entered office with the approval of 62 percent of independents. The latest Gallup poll shows support of just 42 percent of independents. Similarly, the political moderates key to his election have deserted the president as immoderate policies have emerged. There simply aren’t enough liberals for Democrats to lose moderates and win elections. No Democratic candidate over the last half century has won the presidency without winning moderates.

9. A Redder America

Barack Obama faces a redder electoral map than he did in 2008. The 2012 presidential election is more than a year away, but the Electoral College has already shifted twelve votes away from blue states and toward red states. Most of the states gaining electoral votes in the census reapportionment voted for McCain. Almost all of the states losing electoral votes voted for Obama. Even the states that Obama carried that added electoral votes—Nevada and Florida, to name two—don’t seem locks to go for the president in 2012. The loss of electoral votes isn’t fatal to Obama. It is a handicap.

8. The Issues Have Changed

Gallup’s “Monthly Most Important Problem” survey is a problem for the president. What is troubling the American people? Over the first five months of 2011, Americans point to the economy (29%), unemployment (26%), the deficit (13%), and government (11%). The issues most salient to voters uniformly work to the incumbent’s disadvantage. When Iraq, health care, and Republican mishandling of the economy mattered to voters, Obama could go on the offensive. It’s difficult to see how he scores points in 2012 on the issues that resonate with voters. He will be on his heels.

7. The Blank Canvass Isn’t Anymore

Other than William Jennings Bryan and Wendell Willkie, who is the major party nominee with a skimpier record than 2008’s Barack Obama? He could vote “present” in the Illinois legislature and run away from U.S. Senate votes while running for higher office. But presidents can’t remain blank slates for long. Unpopular ObamaCare, a sedative stimulus, ineptness in the face of the BP oil spill, and defiance of Congress in starting a third Middle Eastern war have all painted a presidential picture that has calcified conservative opposition, alienated moderates, and disillusioned liberal supporters.

6. Demoralized Liberals

Left-wing activist Ralph Nader encourages a primary challenge. Ohio Democrat Dennis Kucinich sues the administration over Libya. Netroots conference goers boo White House Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer. Rather than rejoice at a universal health-care bill that eluded predecessors or the introduction of open homosexuality in the military, liberals decry Obama for retaining Bush-era tax rates, playing warden over Guantanamo Bay, and launching a new war in Libya. Never can Democrats satiate their cannibalistic base. If you think this is an overstatement, feel free to examine the teeth marks on the political carcasses of Al Gore, Jimmy Carter, and Lyndon Johnson. Leftists may not primary this president or siphon votes through a suicidal third-party bid. But neither will they work or give at the levels they did in 2008.

5. Energized Conservatives

After eight years of big-government Bush, an underwhelming primary field, and a sclerotic general election campaign, conservatives could be given a mulligan for sleepwalking through the last presidential election. Conservatives, just 34 percent of the electorate in 2008’s election, comprised 42 percent of voters in 2010. From tea-parties to raucous town halls, the political dynamic of the country has been altered. It showed in 2010, when Republicans added 63 House seats, seven Senate seats, and six governors. Nothing invigorates a party’s base like an aggressive ideologue of the opposing party occupying the White House. The GOP clearly has the momentum heading into 2012.

4. The Political Ground Has Shifted Beneath the President’s Feet

A political lifetime has elapsed since Barack Obama’s election. Bailouts and big-government have yielded to tea parties and deficit angst. Gallup’s ideological identification survey registered the highest percentage of liberals in its history the year of Barack Obama’s election. Gallup’s most recent ideological identification survey registered its highest percentage of conservatives since the inaugural 1992 poll. Between the 2008 survey and last year’s, conservatives have gained seven points vis-à-vis liberals. To know liberalism isn’t to love it.

3. Historic Turnouts Aren’t Every-Four-Year Occurrences

Obama surfed to victory in 2008 on the crest of two historic waves. African Americans constituted a larger percentage of the electorate than ever recorded. And young people voted for the Democratic candidate by the greatest margin ever. Two-thirds of 18-to-29 year olds cast ballots for Obama. A staggering 19 out of every 20 African American voters pulled the lever for Obama. The precarious foundation of the Democrat’s election rested on the remarkable turnout, and the amazing one-sidedness, of two constituencies—African Americans and young people—who traditionally stay home on Election Day. That both groups have been hit especially hard by the economic slump makes it hard to envision a repeat of the amazing African American turnout and one-sided youth vote.

2. A Low Ceiling

Roger Simon wondered if the president was “invincible” in the wake of killing bin Laden. More perceptive observers saw vulnerability. Counterintuitively, the assassination of America’s most reviled enemy revealed Barack Obama’s political weaknesses, not his strengths. The president’s weekly Gallup approval average topped out at 51 percent following the bin Laden operation. The best possible week of Obama’s presidency yielded barely half of the electorate’s support. His enemies should acknowledge the man has a floor of support. His supporters should acknowledge he has a ceiling, too.

1. It’s Still the Economy, Stupid

The Misery Index, popularized by Governor Carter to hound President Ford only to be President Carter’s undoing, haunts Democrats again. The combined unemployment and inflation rates are at their worst level in twenty-eight years. The stock market has just spent six weeks in the red. The GDP grows at an anemic rate of 1.8 percent. The housing market has been in shambles for five years, and seems to be double dipping. Debt approaches GDP. Flat-lining and nose-diving trend lines make the president’s reelection precarious. Even a browbeaten Bill Daley, the president’s chief of staff, conceded to an incensed National Association of Manufacturers convention, “Sometimes you can’t defend the indefensible.” He said it.

Barack Obama is a formidable campaigner. His presidency is not without accomplishment (see, Osama bin Laden). And occupants of the White House have lost general elections just five times in the last hundred years. But he has governed ineffectively and stubbornly against the wishes of the American people. He could win reelection. But the preponderance of indicators suggests his defeat. This should make conservatives hopeful for change.
4)Libya Coverage Exposes Media Double Standards
June 19, 2011 16:19 by Simon Plosker
With the turmoil and upheaval in the Middle East, it is always interesting to examine how the media is covering events compared with coverage of Israel. Particularly in a situation where Western nations are involved in a military campaign, as in the case of Libya, it can be enlightening to contrast how the coverage stands up to comparable situations that Israel has found itself in.

A few deliberate changes to this original Associated Press article that cites a NATO spokesperson talking about Libyan human shields, illustrates the point:

“We are saving countless lives every day across the country,” she said. “We are conducting operations with utmost care and precision to avoid civilian casualties. Civilian casualty figures mentioned by the Libyan regime Hamas regime are pure propaganda.”

… government forces Hamas terrorists “have been shelling cities, mining ports and using mosques and children’s parks as shields.”
Lungescu’s The IDF Spokesman’s comments also counter allegations from Libyan Prime Minister Al-Baghdadi al-Mahmoudi Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh, who accused NATO the IDF on Friday of a “new level of aggression” and said the military alliance has intentionally targeted civilian buildings in recent days, including a hotel and a university.

“It has become clear to us that NATO the IDF has moved on to deliberately hitting civilian buildings. … This is a crime against humanity,” he told reporters in the capital.

Sound familiar? Replace references to NATO and Libya in the story with the IDF and Hamas and the story bears remarkable similarity to that of Israel’s Operation Cast Lead.

But here’s where the similarity ends. During Operation Cast Lead and the fallout from the Goldstone Report, Israel also made it clear that Hamas was hiding behind the civilian population, while the world media parroted accusations that the IDF was deliberately targeting civilians and carrying out “war crimes”.

Why is it that the media is prepared to accept the concept that an enemy could be so cynical as to store weapons in a house of worship or fire missiles from the vicinity of a school when that enemy is the Libyan regime but not when Hamas is accused of the very same thing by Israel?

Why does the media rightly question the veracity of Colonel Gadaffi’s claims over casualty figures yet have have little problem publishing casualty figures provided by Hamas terrorists?

NATO acknowledged Saturday that its aircraft had mistakenly hit a column of rebel military vehicles last week near the Libyan oil port of Brega, and early Sunday morning the Qaddafi government showed reporters a destroyed cinder-block house that neighbors and the government said was hit by an errant NATO airstrike in the capital. …

It was the first time in three months of airstrikes that the Qaddafi government has presented credible evidence of what appeared to be direct civilian casualties of NATO attacks. Although the government has often claimed large numbers of civilian deaths, it has never previously presented bodies or consistent facts about the dead.

The destroyed building was far from any obvious military facility, in the Souq al Juma area, which is known for its hostility to Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi, and some neighbors who said they opposed him nonetheless confirmed the government’s account of an airstrike. Still, journalists visiting the site found no pieces of a bomb. NATO could not be reached for comment, and it was impossible to rule out another explanation.

So reads a report from the New York Times. In the fog of war, it is unclear the exact circumstances behind the incidents mentioned above. Clearly though, there is a level of acceptance that even the most sophisticated militaries can make mistakes and that enemies can engage in deliberately misleading propaganda.

As Sky News reports:

It could not be immediately verified whether the three bodies had come from the destroyed building in the Arada district.

Arada is a neighbourhood in the Souq al-Juma district, which is known for anti-Gaddafi sentiment.

One man told reporters at the scene that anti-aircraft guns were located nearby, fuelling suspicions that the strike may have been aimed close to the actual impact zone.

Two weeks ago, Libyan government officials were accused by a staff member at the same hospital in a note passed to journalists of falsely labelling a child hurt in a car crash as the victim of a Nato attack.

Yet, nobody (other than the Libyan regime) is accusing NATO of deliberately targeting civilians or calling for a Goldstone-style inquiry. Likewise, NATO suffered similar errors in Afghanistan with regard to “collateral damage”.

So why the double standards?

Libya isn’t the only example. Take a look at the media’s treatment of Israel when Hamas leader Sheikh Yassin was killed compared with the US killing of Osama bin Laden. (Courtesy of The Israel Project)

An example:
5)Deficits/Surpluses From 1940 Until 2010

Year Nominal Dollars Inflation Adjusted
1940 2.9 Billion Dollar Deficit 43.935 Billion Deficit
1941 4.9 Billion Dollar Deficit 70.707 Billion Deficit
1942 20.5 Billion Dollar Deficit 266.705 Billion Deficit
1943 54.6 Billion Dollar Deficit 669.396 Billion Deficit
1944 47.6 Billion Dollar Deficit 574.056 Billion Deficit
1945 47.6 Billion Dollar Deficit 561.204 Billion Deficit
1946 15.9 Billion Dollar Deficit 172.992 Billion Deficit
1947 4 Billion Dollar Surplus 38.08 Billion Surplus
1948 11.8 Billion Dollar Surplus 103.958 Billion Surplus
1949 0.6 Billion Dollar Surplus 5.346 Billion Surplus
1950 3.1 Billion Dollar Deficit 27.311 Billion Deficit
1951 6.1 Billion Dollar Surplus 49.776 Billion Surplus
1952 1.5 Billion Dollar Deficit 12.015 Billion Deficit
1953 6.5 Billion Dollar Deficit 51.675 Billion Deficit
1954 1.2 Billion Dollar Deficit 9.468 Billion Deficit
1955 3 Billion Dollar Deficit 23.76 Billion Deficit
1956 3.9 Billion Dollar Surplus 30.42 Billion Surplus
1957 3.4 Billion Dollar Surplus 25.67 Billion Surplus
1958 2.8 Billion Dollar Deficit 20.552 Billion Deficit
1959 12.8 Billion Dollar Deficit 93.312 Billion Deficit
1960 0.3 Billion Dollar Surplus 2.148 Billion Surplus
1961 3.3 Billion Dollar Deficit 23.43 Billion Deficit
1962 7.1 Billion Dollar Deficit 49.913 Billion Deficit
1963 4.8 Billion Dollar Deficit 33.264 Billion Deficit
1964 5.9 Billion Dollar Deficit 40.415 Billion Deficit
1965 1.4 Billion Dollar Deficit 9.436 Billion Deficit
1966 3.7 Billion Dollar Deficit 24.235 Billion Deficit
1967 8.6 Billion Dollar Deficit 54.61 Billion Deficit
1968 25.2 Billion Dollar Deficit 153.72 Billion Deficit
1969 3.2 Billion Dollar Surplus 18.496 Billion Surplus
1970 2.8 Billion Dollar Deficit 15.316 Billion Deficit
1971 23 Billion Dollar Deficit 120.52 Billion Deficit
1972 23.4 Billion Dollar Deficit 118.638 Billion Deficit
1973 14.9 Billion Dollar Deficit 71.222 Billion Deficit
1974 6.1 Billion Dollar Deficit 26.23 Billion Deficit
1975 53.2 Billion Dollar Deficit 209.608 Billion Deficit
1976 73.7 Billion Dollar Deficit 274.901 Billion Deficit
1977 53.7 Billion Dollar Deficit 187.95 Billion Deficit
1978 59.2 Billion Dollar Deficit 192.4 Billion Deficit
1979 40.7 Billion Dollar Deficit 118.844 Billion Deficit
1980 73.8 Billion Dollar Deficit 190.404 Billion Deficit
1981 79 Billion Dollar Deficit 184.07 Billion Deficit
1982 128 Billion Dollar Deficit 281.6 Billion Deficit
1983 207.8 Billion Dollar Deficit 442.614 Billion Deficit
1984 185.4 Billion Dollar Deficit 378.216 Billion Deficit
1985 212.3 Billion Dollar Deficit 418.231 Billion Deficit
1986 221.2 Billion Dollar Deficit 429.128 Billion Deficit
1987 149.7 Billion Dollar Deficit 279.939 Billion Deficit
1988 155.2 Billion Dollar Deficit 277.808 Billion Deficit
1989 152.5 Billion Dollar Deficit 260.775 Billion Deficit
1990 221.2 Billion Dollar Deficit 358.344 Billion Deficit
1991 269.3 Billion Dollar Deficit 420.108 Billion Deficit
1992 290.4 Billion Dollar Deficit 438.504 Billion Deficit
1993 255.1 Billion Dollar Deficit 374.997 Billion Deficit
1994 203.2 Billion Dollar Deficit 290.576 Billion Deficit
1995 164 Billion Dollar Deficit 227.96 Billion Deficit
1996 107.5 Billion Dollar Deficit 145.125 Billion Deficit
1997 22 Billion Dollar Deficit 29.04 Billion Deficit
1998 69.2 Billion Dollar Surplus 89.96 Billion Surplus
1999 125.6 Billion Dollar Surplus 159.512 Billion Surplus
2000 236.4 Billion Dollar Surplus 290.772 Billion Surplus
2001 127.3 Billion Dollar Surplus 152.76 Billion Surplus
2002 157.8 Billion Dollar Deficit 186.204 Billion Deficit
2003 374 Billion Dollar Deficit 430.1 Billion Deficit
2004 413 Billion Dollar Deficit 462.56 Billion Deficit
2005 319 Billion Dollar Deficit 347.71 Billion Deficit
2006 248 Billion Dollar Deficit 260.4 Billion Deficit
2007 162 Billion Dollar Deficit 165.24 Billion Deficit
2008 455 Billion Dollar Deficit 45.00 Billion Deficit
2009 1416 Billion Dollar Deficit 1416.00 Billion Deficit
2010 1294 Billion Dollar Deficit 1294.00 Billion Deficit
2011 1650 Billion Dollar Deficit 1650.00 Billion Deficit

While the 2009 and 2010 deficits will certainly be the largest ever (even after adjusting previous deficits for inflation), they will not even be close to the largest ever in terms of % of GDP, as you can see below:

Top Five Highest Years of Deficit vs GDP %

1943 - 30.3% of GDP
1944 - 22.8% of GDP
1945 - 21.5% of GDP
1942 - 14.2% of GDP
1983 - 6.0% of GDP

2009 Deficit Estimated to be 12-13% of GDP
2010 Deficit Estimated to be 9-10% of GDP

In the last 69 years, the U.S. government has managed to post 12 surpluses, with the most recent coming in 2001.

The largest uninterrupted stretch of surpluses came between 1920 and 1930. This eventually came to an end after the government spent billions of dollars combating the Great Depression.

The largest uninterrupted stretch of deficits came between 1970 and 1997.

It's hard to imagine that the United States will post a surplus anytime soon - will we give the 28 year stretch between 1970 and 1997 a run for its money?

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