Friday, July 22, 2011

Scare Tactics -Obama Shows Hand But Has No Plan!

Bill Gross continues to warn about Western governments stalling. (See 1 below.)
Government demands owner-pilot play by their inane rules and test himself for drugs.

Why don't bureaucrats apply the same stupid rules to themselves? If you want to get rid of bad law enforce it!(See 2 below.)
Recently, 'in a fit of peak our puerile president with a penchant personality for projecting told his protagonist politicians from the opposite party' to eat their peas. He did not even say 'please.'

Cutting through Obama BS and getting down to the actual facts behind 'default' rhetoric you find what I have been saying all along.

By employing scare tactics regarding his inability to make Social Security payments Obama has tipped his hand as to his priorities. He apparently would rather scare and skip retirees than cut subsidies to 'bees' etc. (See 3 and 3a below.)

Obama wants more money to cover his spending and Boehner believes that is the wrong course and Boehner's response why he packed up and went home. (See 3b and 3c below.)

Then, let's hear it from the Democrats. (See 3d below.)

Finally, let's hear from a former president's mother:'Sometimes, when I look at my children, I say to myself, 'Lillian, you should have remained a virgin..' Lillian Carter (mother of Jimmy Carter)
Take a few minutes for some excellent and revealing videos. I urge you to watch these two:

a) Watch the UN in Action....... and then

b)The Truth About the West Bank.....Excellent....
A long but informative article about what has happened and is likely to happen in Egypt. (See 4 below.)
Mark Steyn pans Obama as "the man without a plan" and then proceeds, in a raucously funny way, to discuss the media and news eunuch's role in reporting that Obama is the only 'adult' in the room. Hilarious and funny read.

But we are engaged in serious business with structural problems according to Steyn who concludes: "Not enough people do not enough work for not enough of their lives..."(See 5 below.)
1)Gross: Developed Economies in Danger of "Stalling"
By Julie Crawshaw

Bill Gross, co-CIO of bond-fund giant PIMCO, says the developed world is rapidly reaching a sort of economic "Maginot line" beyond which beyond which leverage dynamics begin to work in reverse, slowing growth instead of enabling it, promoting too much risk as opposed to potential gains.

"If the developed world was growing at 5 percent like developing economies, the risks would be far less," Gross writes in the Financial Times. "At 2 percent, however, 'stall speed' connotes an inability to behave like the historical capitalistic model should."

"Corporations lose incentives to invest because profit growth stagnates, unemployed workers are not rehired and the standard cyclical model of seasonal rebirth is jeopardized."

Central banks, Gross notes, apply a dose of liquidity and negative real interest rates that fail to stimulate investment, while fiscal authorities and political parties recommend balanced budgets in one year and stimulus packages in another.

These policies are reaching mathematical and political limits, leaving developed economies at the mercy of continued Chinese growth, commodity prices and the possible collapse of some European economies.

Stall speed causes volatility in risk spreads, including equity and corporate bond risk spreads.

“Investors should expect an extended period of ‘financial repression’ during which policy rates are kept extraordinarily low,” says Gross. “Picking the pockets of investors and savers is a historically validated maneuver to rebalance sovereign balance sheets.”

“Instead of an inflation plus 1 percent policy rate, which has characterized the past 30 years, we must get used to inflation minus 1 or 2 percent, a dramatic reversal in the fortunes of financial markets.”
2)Government Orders Pilot to Give Himself Surprise Drug Tests
By Lisa Johnson Mandell

Does the government over-regulate much? A helicopter pilot who runs his own one-pilot charter company has been ordered by the FAA to adopt a random drug testing program, with the same requirements as major airlines. In other words, "I'm responsible for periodically surprising myself with a random drug test," says Philip Greenspun,the only official "safety sensitive" employee in his small company.

Recently,Greenspun wrote to, elaborating on how an FAA inspector took a look at his company's drug testing policy, and found it wanting. In order to comply with government regulations, as an employer Greenspun must undergo training that would enable him to recognize when an employee is on drugs, presumably so he can bust himself.

As an employee, he needs to take another training course so that he'll know about the many ways his employer can surprise him with a random drug test. "So really I'm learning about how I might trap myself," he says.

Doesn't the FAA have anything more important to do than regulate drug testing at a one-man show? Apparently not. Greenspun reports that about five minutes after the FAA inspector left, he received a call, from none other than the FAA, wanting to schedule an audit of his drug testing program. At least he won't have a problem rallying his staff
3) What the Government Will Never Tell You About the Debt Crisis
By Dan Ferris, editor, The 12% Letter

Last week, I devoted the latest issue of The 12% Letter to the debt ceiling… and how it will affect us as investors.

After sifting through the government's numbers and mindless claims of "Armageddon," I believe it should not worry you as an investor. And I'm convinced as ever the "debt ceiling" debate is a dog and pony show that distracts Americans from our country's biggest problem.

Politicians like Barack Obama and Tim Geithner tell us that a failure to raise the debt ceiling by August 2 will result in catastrophe. They say many government employees and vendors will not get paid starting on August 3. I doubt this is true. The government will always find a way around the rules to borrow and spend.

But let's take the government at its word for a moment…

The Bipartisan Policy Center (the "BPC") – a non-profit group that studies solutions to political problems – has published a report on the debt ceiling "crisis." The report's conclusion is generally in agreement with Obama and Geithner: If we do not raise the debt ceiling by August 2, we could cause serious trouble for our economy. That's not surprising. The BPC was created by members of Congress, so it will toe the political line to keep us scared.

According to the BPC, if the debt ceiling isn't raised by August 2, the U.S. government will wake up on August 3, and find itself unable to pay about 45% of the bills due between August 3 and August 31.

In its debt ceiling report, the BPC considers two broad scenarios under which the Treasury Department might pay some agencies and not pay others. Imagine, for example, all IRS refunds not being disbursed starting on August 3. Imagine $14.2 billion in federal salaries and benefits not getting paid. Imagine nearly $32 billion in defense vendor payments not being made. Defense-related stocks would be cut in half instantly. Imagine the lights going out at Veterans Hospitals and active military duty pay not going out.

I have no illusions about the turmoil of a real government shut down. It's ugly. For some period of time, it would be hell for millions of people. I don't want that. I'm sure you don't, either. No one wants mass economic hardship. I'm fully aware we're talking about people's lives here…

But if the government shrinks 45% starting August 3 and remains permanently smaller, the hardship would be temporary. We'd come out the other side of it a better, stronger, wealthier, and maybe even less arrogant nation.

Simply reducing the deficit wouldn't mean you'd pay less in taxes – so it's not that we'd all have more money in our pockets starting August 3. It's that there'd be less government, which means less government meddling in the economy. There'd be fewer parasites and more potential producers. We'd be freer to create new wealth and grow new businesses. A little more freedom would go a long way.

It would be good to have more productive minds looking for ways to create new wealth with fewer government impediments to doing so. It's much better than having those same productive minds rotting behind government desks, meddling in other people's lives, and destroying wealth instead of creating it.

But I do think the debt ceiling will be raised by August 2. Among other reasons for this belief, there's something you'd learn in the ensuing crisis if the ceiling was not raised, something nobody wants you to learn…

You'd find out government is the problem not the solution, and that we'd all be better off with a lot less of it.

That's why Treasury Secretary Geithner says it would be a "catastrophe" not to raise the debt ceiling. It's why Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke says it would be "calamitous." It's why Komrade Obama says it would be "financial Armageddon." They're all trying to scare you.

Everybody thinks people would starve without the big, strong government to feed them. It's not true. We'd be a more productive, dynamic, and wealthy society. You'd see this happen right before your eyes if a large portion of the government shut down permanently.

But nobody in government wants you to see that.

Our economy doesn't suffer from a lack of government intervention. It suffers from too much government intervention. The solution to too much government intervention in the economy isn't more government intervention. It's less government. That's what you'd get on August 3, without a higher debt ceiling.

Laying all my cards on the table, I freely admit that I relish the potential shutdown of huge swaths of our bloated, oppressive federal bureaucracy. And I relish the prospect of hundreds of thousands of government employees, people with perfectly productive minds, some of them quite brilliant, making the change from parasites to producers… though I realize it's unlikely to happen.

Imagine for a minute the unleashing of entrepreneurial energy in the wake of a shutdown of 45% of the federal government. The U.S. government is filled with intelligent, highly educated, highly trained people. Many are experienced leaders. Many are more than capable of positively heroic feats of entrepreneurship, feats we'll never witness if they don't leave their government jobs and get to work.

Frightened children like Obama, Bernanke, and Geithner see scary monsters everywhere. Adults with vision and experience see opportunities. I promise you those opportunities are real. They exist. If the government wakes up August 3 and can't pay 45% of its bills, it won't be long until many of those opportunities are seized and exploited, to the benefit of us all.

3a)Obama: Republicans’ Fault If Social Security Checks Don’t Go Out
By Susan Jones

President Barack Obama makes a statement in the Brady Briefing Room at the White House in Washington, Friday, July 22, 2011 on the break down of debt ceiling talks. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
( – At a hastily convened news conference Friday evening, President Obama offered his explanation of why debt negotiations with House Speaker John Boehner fizzled, and he once again raised the specter of entitlement checks not going out if the debt ceiling isn’t raised soon.

“Well, when it comes to all the checks, not just Social Security -- veterans, people with disabilities -- about 70 million checks are sent out each month -- if we default then we’re going to have to make adjustments. And I’m already consulting with (Treasury) Secretary (Tim) Geithner in terms of what the consequences would be,” Obama said.

“We should not even be in that kind of scenario. And if Congress -- and in particular, the House Republicans -- are not willing to make sure that we avoid default, then I think it’s fair to say that they would have to take responsibility for whatever problems arise in those payments.”

In the next breath, Obama said he’s “not interested in finger-pointing and I’m not interested in blame, but I just want the facts to speak for themselves.”

Obama said he’s getting letters from people who tell him they have to skip meals at the end of each month, as well as from senior citizens on Social Security “who are hanging on by a thread. Folks who have severe disabilities who are desperate every single month to try to figure out how they’re going to make ends meet.” He also mentioned federal contractors “who have to wonder are they going to be able to get paid and what does that do in terms of their payrolls."

Obama said a “huge” number of people would be affected by a government default: “(I)magine what that does to the economy, when suddenly 70 million checks are put at risk. I mean, if you’re a business out there, that is not going to be good for economic growth. And that’s the number one concern of the American people.”

'Working stiffs'

Like House Speaker John Boehner, President Obama said raising the debt limit “is not an option,” it has to be done.

Obama insisted that the only “fair” solution is one that includes tax hikes on wealthy Americans, including many small business owners who create jobs. "That’s all the American people are looking for -- some fairness,” he said.

Obama indicated that he and Boehner were not that far apart when it comes to deficit reduction. The difference was, he said, that the White House plan “didn’t put all the burden on people who are least able to protect themselves, who don’t have lobbyists in this town, who don’t have lawyers working on the tax code for them -- working stiffs out there, ordinary folks who are struggling every day.

“And they know they’re getting a raw deal, and they’re mad at everybody about it. They’re mad at Democrats and they’re mad at Republicans, because they know somehow, no matter how hard they work, they don’t seem to be able to keep up. And what they’re looking for is somebody who’s willing to look out for them.”

Obama said Americans “are just desperate for folks who are willing to put aside politics just for a minute and try to get some stuff done.”

Republicans have complained for months that Obama has advanced no clear deficit reduction plan, not has he been willing to say where he would cut spending. His goal, they say, is to raise taxes.

3b)Angry Obama Demands Tax Increases or No Deal

U.S. House Speaker John Boehner broke off talks with President Barack Obama on Friday on a deficit-reduction deal to prevent a devastating default and said he would try to hammer out an agreement through the Senate.

In a dramatic turn of events with the deadline to raise the U.S. debt ceiling just 11days away, a stern-faced Obama expressed frustration at the Republican leader's move, saying it was "hard to understand why Speaker Boehner would walk away from this kind of deal."

Boehner, in a letter to fellow lawmakers, said he and Obama were unable to reach agreement on a broad deficit reduction package they had been negotiating and that the two "had different visions for our country."

A deep divide over tax revenue was at the heart of the collapse in negotiations, which derailed an effort to craft a sweeping $3 trillion deficit-cutting plan that now seems beyond reach. Both sides blamed the other for the impasse.

With the Aug. 2 deadline fast approaching for Congress to increase the $14.3 trillion debt ceiling, Boehner said he would begin talks with Senate leaders to "in an effort to find a path forward." An aide said a deal needs to be set by Monday.


"We have now run out of time," Obama told reporters. He insisted he had made an "extraordinarily fair" offer to Boehner but when the Republican stopped returning his calls on Friday it became clear that he would not accept it.

The president said he was summoning Democratic and Republican leaders to the White House on Saturday in a last-ditch effort to find a path forward on raising the debt limit.

Failure to act could push the United States back into recession and unleash global financial chaos.

Obama warned that failure to reach an agreement on the debt ceiling would also increase the chance of a harmful downgrade in America's top-notch credit rating.

Putting the onus on Obama, Boehner said: "The president is emphatic that taxes have to be raised. As a former small businessman, I know tax increases destroy jobs.

Mohamed El-Erian, co-chief investment officer at Pacific Investment Management Co., which oversees $1.2 trillion in assets, told Reuters: "If not reversed within the next few days through crisis negotiations, this breakdown will be highly detrimental to the already-fragile health of both the US and global economies."

The rancorous breakdown in talks came after Obama earlier Friday said he was prepared to make "tough choices" for a sweeping deficit-reduction deal to avert a default, despite Democrats warning him not to make too many concessions.

The Democratic president at the time appealed for compromise by both parties as he and Boehner, the top Republican in Congress, pursued a plan for up to $3 trillion in spending cuts.

Obama had faced increasingly vocal complaints from his own Democrats on a deal-in-the-making that could mean painful curbs in popular health and retirement programs but no immediate increase in taxes.

Republicans have refused to accept a deal for raising the debt limit if it includes revenue increases.

Attention now turns to the Senate, where negotiations are likely to resume on a convoluted plan put forth by Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell that intended as a fallback option if all else failed.

3c) Dear Colleague,

Our economy is not creating enough jobs, and the policies coming out of Washington are a big reason why. Because of Washington, we have a tax code that is stifling job creation. Because of Washington, we have a debt crisis that is sowing uncertainty and sapping the confidence of small businesses. Because of Washington, our children are financing a government spending binge that is jeopardizing their future.

Since the moment I became Speaker, I’ve urged President Obama to lock arms with me and seize this moment to do something significant to address these challenges. I’ve urged him to partner with congressional Republicans to do something dramatic to change the fiscal trajectory of our country. . .something that will boost confidence in our economy, renew a measure of faith in our institutions of government, and help small businesses get back to creating jobs.

The House this week passed such a plan. . .the Cut, Cap & Balance Act, which passed the House with bipartisan support.

Along with Majority Leader Cantor, I have also engaged the president in a dialogue in recent days. The purpose of this dialogue was to see if we could identify a path forward that would implement the principles of Cut, Cap, & Balance in a manner that could secure bipartisan support and be signed into law.

During these discussions – as in my earlier discussions – it became evident that the White House is simply not serious about ending the spending binge that is destroying jobs and endangering our children’s future.

A deal was never reached, and was never really close.

In the end, we couldn’t connect. Not because of different personalities, but because of different visions for our country.

The president is emphatic that taxes have to be raised. As a former small businessman, I know tax increases destroy jobs.

The president is adamant that we cannot make fundamental changes to our entitlement programs. As the father of two daughters, I know these programs won’t be there for their generation unless significant action is taken now.

For these reasons, I have decided to end discussions with the White House and begin conversations with the leaders of the Senate in an effort to find a path forward.

The Democratic leaders of the House and Senate have not been participants in the conversations I and Leader Cantor have had with the White House; nor have the Republican leaders of the Senate. But I believe there is a shared commitment on both sides of the aisle to producing legislation that will serve the best interests of our country in the days ahead – legislation that reflects the will of the American people, consistent with the principles of the Cut, Cap, & Balance Act that passed the House with bipartisan support this week.

I wanted to alert you to these developments as soon as possible. Further information will be coming as soon as it is available. It is an honor to serve with you. Together, we will do everything in our power to end the spending binge in Washington and help our economy get back to creating jobs.


John Boehner

3d)Democrats Balk at Potential Debt Limit Deal

Democrats reacted angrily to reports that the White House is cutting a deal with House Republicans to boost the U.S. debt ceiling and reduce deficits by about $3 trillion over 10 years without immediate revenue increases.

President Barack Obama’s team has told congressional leaders it is pursuing such a deal, according to two officials familiar with the talks, as the White House and House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio denied one was at hand.

The officials, who described outlines of the plan on condition of anonymity, said the leaders were told it would cut spending while calling for a future tax overhaul that could raise $1 trillion in additional revenue.

Obama met with Democratic leaders from the House and Senate at the White House for about two hours.

The administration and House Republicans remain divided over the fate of the cuts for top earners passed during President George W. Bush’s administration and how much revenue would be raised to trim the long-term federal deficit, said two Democratic officials familiar with the negotiations.
4)Egypt – Bound to Explode?
By Mordechai Kedar

Six months ago, on January 25th, thousands of Egyptians started to pour into
al-Tahrir (Liberation, from the British occupation) Square in central Cairo.
They demanded the downfall of Mubarak, who had occupied the presidential
seat for almost thirty years, since October 1981. What the masses actually
called for was the removal of the corrupt, fossilized regime of The Free
Officers that took control of Egypt in July 1952, i.e. fifty-nine years ago;
Mubarak was its last member. This government, which never stood for
elections worthy of the name, was based on a large group of “fat cats” who
ruthlessly controlled all areas of life and exploited every resource for
their own gain. The people remained poor and neglected, and forty million
Egyptians live in unplanned neighborhoods with no infrastructure for running
water, sewage, electricity, communications, education and health.

The protests against Mubarak, which intensified daily, were exemplified by
signs, carried by demonstrators, focusing on one word: Irhal (Go Away),
directed at Mubarak, his wife and sons – including Gamal, his designated
successor – and the ministers who served him for many long years. Mubarak
always counted on the army to help him in such a situation, by shooting at
protestors; indeed, every unit in the Egyptian army was tasked with
restoring order in a given city or neighborhood (i.e. to diffuse any
anti-government activity). However, the army did not meet Mubarak’s
expectations and did not shoot at demonstrators as long as they did not
endanger its forces and its installations. Nevertheless, hundreds of
protestors were killed by the police and by gunmen of State Security and
General Intelligence, some when they attacked police stations in order to
steal weapons.

When the demonstrations intensified, it was Minister of Defense, Tantawi,
who demanded in no uncertain terms that Mubarak step down from office; the
military became “the people’s army” and not “the president’s army”, and
gained the protesters’ trust. After Mubarak’s removal, the Supreme Council
of the Armed Forces took power, suspended the constitution for half a year
and appointed a temporary government headed by Essam Sharaf. The people’s
success in ousting the Sphinx (Mubarak) brought high spirits to the country:
people began cleaning the public areas near their homes, sensing that the
country was theirs again, and the land was their land after it had been
liberated from the dictator. Neighbors started to take an interest in each
other’s lives because they felt united by their enormous success in getting
rid of the tyrant. Initially, there were many reports that girls in the
street, particularly at demonstrations in al-Tahrir Square, experienced much
less sexual harassment, a daily occurrence prior to the revolution; the
atmosphere during the uprising had become one of camaraderie, cooperation
and responsibility. The dawn of a new era broke over Egypt in February and
inspired the banks of the Nile with hopes – great hopes – of a flourishing
spring, of success and prosperity.

Time has, however, passed and after six months, the situation in Egypt has
only worsened, not improved. Unemployment, which stood at 25% during Mubarak’s
rule, has risen dramatically. It is now estimated at 50% or higher, i.e. one
of every two wage earners does not have a steady job. The rise in
unemployment stems primarily from the disappearance of the tourism industry.
Millions of tourists had arrived each year and provided good income for
hotel, restaurant and nightclub workers; for taxi and bus drivers; for
souvenir and clothing manufacturers; for operators of Nile cruises; for
policemen who helped them cross busy streets; for show girls; for farmers
who marketed their produce to hotels and restaurants where tourists ate to
their hearts’ content. Since the outbreak of the revolution, there are
hardly any tourists and those millions of Egyptians who directly and
indirectly benefited from such visitors have been without income for six
months. Since the unemployed consume less food, clothing and services, many
other branches of the economy have suffered from the domino effect of the
downturn in tourism. Only a very few of the tens of thousands of Egyptians
who are now completing their academic studies will find work, whether in the
private or government sectors, commensurate with their education. In this
respect, favoritism was, and still is, the name of the game.

Hopes that the new government would clean up the corruption in the public
sector have been dashed. Police officers suspected of fatally shooting
protestors in January and February have not been suspended, interrogated or
put on trial for their crimes. Even Mubarak, allegedly responsible for the
shooting of demonstrators, is spending the last few months awaiting trial in
a Sharm al-Sheikh hotel rather than in prison. Ministers and officials
currently serving in the temporary government were part of Mubarak’s corrupt
ruling apparatus for many long years. Military courts continue to try
civilians for harming state security, defying the explicit demand of
protestors, who feel that the chances of a civilian receiving a just trial
in a military court are nil.

The question that has occupied Egyptians this past month is what should come
first: should constitutional change precede elections, or should such change
be the responsibility of the parliament to be chosen in the next elections.
The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces resolved the question by deciding to
hold elections first; however, they continue to be postponed and are now
tentatively scheduled for November. The dozens of new parties will not have
sufficient time to organize, giving an advantage to the established parties
including the Muslim Brotherhood; the split in that movement, however, has
already given birth to five parties and it is unclear if all of them will
ultimately run separately. There are constant media reports about American
pressure on the government to hold only partially democratic elections in
order to prevent the Muslim Brotherhood parties from having too much
influence. This is enough to remind the public of the Mubarak period and to
wonder what has changed.

The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces is playing a critically important
role. On the one hand, the army took a sympathetic approach towards the
revolutionary youth and ousted Mubarak from power. On the other hand, the
military undertook the difficult task of running the country during the
transition; of restoring the public’s faith in the government corrupt
bureaucracy, which has remained largely intact; of stabilizing the economy
and of conducting democratic elections in which a president and two
parliamentary houses – the People’s Assembly and the Shura Council – would
be chosen to jointly establish a government. The public, primarily the young
people of the revolution, have well understood this difficult task and have
generally accepted the decisions of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces
over the last few months.

However, this past month has seen a turning point: the army increasingly
operates as a ruling body and less as an organization assisting the people
in achieving their goals. The public is growing less and less enamored of
the Council of Armed Forces and is already waving signs in al-Tahrir Square
along the lines of: “Down With the Council of the Armed Forces”; “Council of
Armed Forces – Your Credit Has Run Out; “The Revolution Continues”; “Stop
Military Trials for Civilians Now”. The names assigned to recent Fridays
express the public’s rage at the situation – “Friday of Rage” and “Friday of
Warning” – with everyone understanding at whom the rage and warnings are

The above developments have been clearly reflected in the behavior of one of
the members of the Council of Armed Forces, General Mohsen Fangary. From the
beginning of the revolution on January 25th, he supported the rights of
citizens to express their opinions peacefully, and has been very popular
among the masses. Two weeks ago, on July 12th, he appeared on local and
international media and, in a frightening and intimidating tone, read a
statement issued by the Supreme Council of Armed Forces while waving his
finger threateningly: “. . . The council will not relinquish its role
during this critical period in Egypt’s history . . . Freedom of expression
is guaranteed to all, but only within the boundaries of the law. Elections
will be the first step, after which the constitution will be drafted. The
special courts (i.e. military courts) will not be abolished. The army will
not allow violent protests or the obstruction of economic activity; it will
not permit the spreading of rumors and misinformation which could lead to
disunity, disobedience and the dismantling of the homeland; it will give
precedence to the interests of the public over those of individuals. The
council will not allow anyone to seize power and will take the necessary
measures against threats to the homeland.”

Millions of Egyptians listened with great concern to this threatening
announcement, which made it clear to them – from no less than the thundering
voice of the popular General Fangary – that the period of hugs and flowers
had ended, that the army intends to stay in power for more than half a year,
and perhaps for a much longer period. General Fangary, with his menacing
finger and booming voice, let the audience know that what had been will no
longer be and that he would not permit the Woodstock atmosphere in al-Tahrir
Square to evolve into anti-army protests.

Egypt is now at the height of a hot summer; the overall atmosphere, as well
as the air temperature have risen. In less than two weeks, at the beginning
of August, the month of Ramadan, during which Muslims grow close to Allah,
will commence. During the course of the day, the stomach is empty of food,
but the soul is filled with thoughts; given the disappointment at the bitter
reality in which the country finds itself, it won’t take more than a tiny
clash between the military and protesters to inflame the atmosphere and
ignite the fumes gathering in the Egyptian street. When there is not enough
money to buy food for all thirty evenings of Ramadan or to buy presents for
the women and children, the Egyptian points an accusing finger at the
regime, currently headed by the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces.

In the next few weeks or months, the Arab Spring is liable to turn into the
Egyptian Summer – hot, steamy, violent and repulsive – in which the cat will
be let out of the bag and the youth of Al Tahrir Square will realize that
they have replaced one group of officers with another, that instead of
Mubarak, they have Tantawi or Fangary, all cut from the same cloth. If
conflict erupts, Heaven forefend, it will take place between the
revolutionary youth and the army, which, this time, might fire massively at

The army may in the interim throw protesters some bones, such as a show
trial for Mubarak (if he lives), his wife and sons, and the public might
even get to see them swinging from a rope in al-Tahrir Square; aside from
momentary joy, however, this will not calm the street. The standing of the
Israeli embassy and the peace agreement with Israel might also be impacted,
because the army may employ such a stratagem to douse the flames.

In the event of major clashes between the army and the population, many
Egyptians are liable to try and reach Israel via Sinai and the open border.
Israel must prepare for such a scenario so that it is not caught by surprise
when thousands of Egyptians arrive daily, fleeing the cruelty of their army.
= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =
The article is published in the framework of the Center for the Study of the
Middle East and Islam (under formation), Bar Ilan University, Israel.
Translated by Nachama Kanner
5)Mark Steyn: Obama the man without a plan

Earlier this month, Moody's downgraded Irish government debt to junk. Which left the Irish somewhat peeved. The Department of Finance pointed out that it had met all the "quantitative fiscal targets" imposed by the European Union, and the National Treasury Management Agency said that Ireland was sufficiently flush "to cover all its financing requirements until the end of 2013."

Which is more than the government of the United States can say.

That's not the only difference between the auld sod and America. In Europe, austerity is in the air, and in the headlines: "Italy Fast-Tracks Austerity Vote." "Greek Minister Urges Austerity Consensus." "Portugal To Speed Austerity Measures." "Even Queen Faces Funding Squeeze In Austerity Britain." The word has become so instantly ubiquitous that Leftie deadbeats are already opposed to it: "Austerity Protest Takes Place In Dublin." For the rentamob types, "austerity" is to this decade what "Bush" and "Iraq War" were to the last. It can't be long before grizzled old rockers are organizing some all-star Rock Against Austerity gala.

By contrast, nobody seems minded to "speed austerity measures" over here. The word isn't part of the conversation – even though we're broke on a scale way beyond what Ireland or Portugal could ever dream of. The entire Western world is operating on an unsustainable business model: If it were Borders or Blockbuster, it would be hoping to close the Greek and Portuguese branches but maybe hold on to the Norwegian one. In hard reality, like Borders only the other day, it would probably wind up shuttering them all. The problem is structural: Not enough people do not enough work for not enough of their lives. Developed nations have 30-year-old students and 50-year old retirees, and then wonder why the shrunken rump of a "working" population in between can't make the math add up.

By the way, demographically speaking, these categories – "adolescents" and "retirees" – are an invention of our own time: They didn't exist a century ago. You were a kid till 13 or so. Then you worked. Then you died. As Obama made plain in his threat to Gran'ma last week that the August checks might not go out, funding nonproductivity is now the principal purpose of the modern state. Good luck with that at a time when every appliance in your home is manufactured in Asia.

As I said, these are structural problems. In theory, they can be fixed. But, when you look at the nature of them, you've got to wonder whether they ever will be this side of societal collapse. Blockbuster went bankrupt because it was wedded to a 1980s technology and distribution system. In government, being merely a quarter-century obsolete would be a major achievement. The ruling party in Washington is wedded to the principle that an 80-year-old social program is inviolable: That's like Blockbuster insisting in 2011 that there's no problem with its business model for rentals of silent movies with live orchestral accompaniment. To be sure, there are some problems parking the musicians' bus in residential streets, but nothing that can't be worked out.

But "political reality" operates to different rules from humdrum real reality. Thus, the "debt ceiling" debate is regarded by most Democrats and a fair few Republicans as some sort of ghastly social faux pas by boorish conservatives: Why, everyone knows ye olde debt-limit vote is merely a bit of traditional ceremonial, like the Lord Chancellor walking backwards with the Cap of Maintenance and Black Rod shouting "Hats off, strangers!" at Britain's Opening of Parliament. You hit the debt ceiling, you jack it up a couple trillion, and life goes on – or so it did until these GOP yahoos came along and decided to treat the vote as if it actually meant something.

Obama has done his best to pretend to take them seriously. He claimed to have a $4 trillion deficit-reduction plan. The court eunuchs of the press corps were impressed, and went off to file pieces hailing the president as "the grown-up in the room." There is, in fact, no plan. No plan at all. No plan whatsoever, either for a deficit reduction of $4 trillion or $4.73. As is the way in Washington, merely announcing that he had a plan absolved him of the need to have one. So the president's staff got out the extra-wide teleprompter and wrote a really large number on it, and simply by reading out the really large number the president was deemed to have produced a serious blueprint for trillions of dollars in savings. For his next trick, he'll walk out on to the stage of Carnegie Hall, announce that he's going to play Haydn's Cello Concerto No 2, and, even though there's no cello in sight, and Obama immediately climbs back in his golf cart to head for the links, music critics will hail it as one of the most moving performances they've ever heard.
The only "plan" Barack Obama has put on paper is his February budget. Were there trillions and trillions of savings in that? Er, no. It increased spending and doubled the federal debt.

How about Harry Reid, the Senate Majority Leader? Has he got a plan? No. The Democratic Senate has shown no interest in producing a budget for two-and-a-half years. Unlike the president, Sen. Reid can't even be bothered pretending he's interested in spending reductions. But he is interested in spending, and, if that's your bag, boring things like budgets only get in the way.

It seems reasonable to conclude from the planlessness and budgetlessness of the Obama/Reid Democrats that their only plan is to carry on spending without limit. Otherwise, someone somewhere would surely have written something down on a piece of paper by now. But no, apparently the Department of Writing Down Plans is the only federal expense the president is willing to cut. You begin to see why the Europeans are a little miffed. They're passing austerity budgets so austere they've spawned an instant anti-austerity movement rioting in the street – and yet they're still getting downgraded by the ratings agencies. In Washington, by contrast, the ruling party of the Brokest Nation in History has no spending plan other than to plan to spend even more – and nobody's downgrading them.

Well, don't worry. It's coming. The domestic media coverage of this story has been almost laughably fraudulent: To the court eunuchs, a failure to raise the debt ceiling by a couple of trillion would signal to the world that American government was embarrassingly dysfunctional. In reality, raising the debt ceiling by a couple of trillion without any spending cuts would confirm to the world that American government is terminally dysfunctional.

In the debt-ridden treasuries of Europe, they're talking "austerity." In the debt-ridden treasury of Washington, they're talking about more spending (Kathleen Sebelius is touting new women's health programs to be made available "without cost.") At the risk (in Samuel Johnson's words) of settling the precedence between a louse and a flea, I think Europe's political discourse is marginally less deranged than ours. The president is said to be "the adult in the room" because he is reported to be in favor of raising the age of Medicare eligibility from 65 to 67.

By the year 2036.

If that's the best offer, there isn't going to be a 2036, not for America. As the Europeans are beginning to grasp, eventually "political reality" collides with real reality. The message from a delusional Washington these last weeks is that it won't be a gentle bump.

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