Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Family Member of Jeb Responds!

Gingrich and his former ethics case commentary. (See 1 below.)
Roubini on what an Iranian conflict might cause. (See 2 below.)
More states join Ga., including Illinois, in challenging Obama's presidential eligibility. (See 3 below.)
Let's hear from Melanie Phillips again. (See 4 below.)

From the U.K. Telegraph (See 4a below.)

Click on and listen to this if you wish to see how we are being destroyed from within.  I wrote years ago about attending a class conducted by Dr. Ellen Cannon who warned the audience this was coming.

First, those who want to impose Islamist theology begin with candidates for boards of public education  in order to get their ideology taught in our education system starting at the grade school level. Then they finance Islamic Departments in college and the virus spreads.  Finally, they begin broadcasting  their message using our own freedoms of speech to bore into our society.  I am not an alarmist.  This is how you change hearts and minds, this is how you change a culture, this is how you turn youth into little dangerous  mechanical ideologues.  This is how  the occupy movement gets manipulated and this is how our president bores in by denying terrorism  exists, be eliminating words, cleansing as it were,  that describe it and finally by appointments that shred our constitution like the actions of Attorney General Holder.

Wake up America!

Please take the time to listen. She is absolutely correct and this is shocking! Place your mouse over click here, then click and listen.
Crunch time?  (See 5 below.)

Perhaps Iran will act through a surrogate - Syria?  (See 5a below.)
Glick continues to hammer away at Obama and his defense of Hamas etc.  (See 6 below.)
I wrote to a close member of Jeb Bush's family that he should consider becoming a V.P. in order to bring Florida into the Republican ranks, help solidify the Spanish vote for the Republicans and because he would have appeal to the middle ground - read independents.  Finally, Jeb's willingness to be on the ticket, premature as it might be according to his own desires, would put the party in debt to him - knowing there is no loyalty in politics of course.

The person graciously responded  they do not give such advice would would pass my letter on  to Jeb, as I am sure they will.  (See 7 below.)
1) What really happened in the Gingrich ethics case?
By Byron York Chief Political Correspondent

The Romney campaign has been hitting Newt Gingrich hard over the 1990s ethics case that resulted in the former Speaker being reprimanded and paying a $300,000 penalty. Before the Iowa caucuses, Romney and his supporting super PAC did serious damage to Gingrich with an ad attacking Gingrich's ethics past. Since then, Romney has made other ads and web videos focusing on the ethics matter, and at the Republican debate in Tampa Monday night, Romney said Gingrich "had to resign in disgrace."

In private conversations, Romney aides often mention the ethics case as part of their larger argument that Gingrich would be unelectable in a race against President Obama.

Given all the attention to the ethics matter, it's worth asking what actually happened back in 1995, 1996, and 1997. The Gingrich case was extraordinarily complex, intensely partisan, and driven in no small way by a personal vendetta on the part of one of Gingrich's former political opponents. It received saturation coverage in the press; a database search of major media outlets revealed more than 10,000 references to Gingrich's ethics problems during the six months leading to his reprimand. It ended with a special counsel hired by the House Ethics Committee holding Gingrich to an astonishingly strict standard of behavior, after which Gingrich in essence pled guilty to two minor offenses. Afterwards, the case was referred to the Internal Revenue Service, which conducted an exhaustive investigation into the matter. And then, after it was all over and Gingrich was out of office, the IRS concluded that Gingrich did nothing wrong. After all the struggle, Gingrich was exonerated.

I wrote about the matter at the time, first in a 1995 article about Gingrich's accusers and then in a 1999 piece on the Internal Revenue Service report that cleared Gingrich. (Both pieces were for The American Spectator; I'm drawing on them extensively, but unfortunately neither is available online.)

At the center of the controversy was a course Gingrich taught from 1993 to 1995 at two small Georgia colleges. The wide-ranging class, called "Renewing American Civilization," was conceived by Gingrich and financed by a tax-exempt organization called the Progress and Freedom Foundation. Gingrich maintained that the course was a legitimate educational enterprise; his critics contended that it had little to do with learning and was in fact a political exercise in which Gingrich abused a tax-exempt foundation to spread his own partisan message.

The Gingrich case was driven in significant part by a man named Ben Jones. An actor and recovered alcoholic who became famous for playing the dim-witted Cooter in the popular 1980s TV show The Dukes of Hazzard, Jones ran for Congress as a Democrat from Georgia in 1988. He won and served two terms. He lost his bid for re-election after re-districting in 1992, and tried again with a run against Gingrich in 1994. Jones lost decisively, and after that, it is fair to say he became obsessed with bringing Gingrich down.

Two days before Election Day 1994, with defeat in sight, Jones hand-delivered a complaint to the House ethics committee (the complaint was printed on "Ben Jones for Congress" stationery). Jones asked the committee to investigate the college course, alleging that Gingrich "fabricated a 'college course' intended, in fact, to meet certain political, not educational, objectives." Three weeks later, Jones sent the committee 450 pages of supporting documents obtained through the Georgia Open Records Act.

That was the beginning of the investigation. Stunned by their loss of control of the House -- a loss engineered by Gingrich -- House Democrats began pushing a variety of ethics complaints against the new Speaker. Jones' complaint was just what they were looking for.

There's no doubt the complaint was rooted in the intense personal animus Jones felt toward Gingrich. In 1995, I sat down with Jones for a talk about Gingrich, and without provocation, Jones simply went off on the Speaker. "He's just full of s--t," Jones told me. "He is. I mean, the guy's never done a damn thing, he's never worked a day in his life, he's never hit a lick at a snake. He's just a bulls--t artist. I mean, think about it. What has this guy ever done in his life?…Gingrich has never worked. He's never had any life experience. He's very gifted in his way at a sort of rhetorical terrorism, and he's gifted in his way at being a career politician, someone who understands how that system works and how to get ahead in it, which is everything that he has derided for all these years. So I think he's a hypocrite, and I think he's a wuss, and I don't mind saying that to him or whoever. To his mother -- I don't care."

At that point, Jones leaned over to speak directly into my recorder. Raising his voice, he declared: "HE'S THE BIGGEST A--HOLE IN AMERICA!"

Jones and his partner in the Gingrich crusade, Democratic Rep. David Bonior -- they had been basketball buddies in the House gym -- pushed the case ceaselessly. Under public pressure, the Ethics Committee -- made up of equal numbers of Republicans and Democrats -- took up the case and hired an outside counsel, Washington lawyer James Cole, to conduct the investigation.

Cole developed a theory of the case in which Gingrich, looking for a way to spread his political views, came up with the idea of creating a college course and then devised a way to use a tax-exempt foundation to pay the bills. "The idea to develop the message and disseminate it for partisan political use came first," Cole told the Ethics Committee. "The use of the [the Progress and Freedom Foundation] came second as a source of funding." Thus, Cole concluded, the course was "motivated, at least in part, by political goals." Cole argued that even a hint of a political motive, was enough to taint the tax-exempt project, "regardless of the number or importance of truly exempt purposes that are present."

Cole did not argue that the case was not educational. It plainly was. But Cole suggested that the standard for determining wrongdoing was whether any unclean intent lurked in the heart of the creator of the course, even if it was unquestionably educational.

Meanwhile, Democrats kept pushing to raise the stakes against Gingrich. "Anyone who has engaged in seven years of tax fraud to further his own personal and political benefits is not deserving of the speakership," Bonior said just before Christmas 1996. "Mr. Gingrich has engaged in a pattern of tax fraud, lies, and cover-ups in paving his road to the second highest office in the land…I would expect the Justice Department, the FBI, a grand jury, and other appropriate entities to investigate."

With the charges against Gingrich megaphoned in the press, Gingrich and Republicans were under intense pressure to end the ordeal. In January, 1997, Gingrich agreed to make a limited confession of wrongdoing in which he pleaded guilty to the previously unknown offense of failing to seek sufficiently detailed advice from a tax lawyer before proceeding with the course. (Gingrich had in fact sought advice from two such lawyers in relation to the course.) Gingrich also admitted that he had provided "inaccurate, incomplete, and unreliable" information to Ethics Committee investigators. That "inaccurate" information was Gingrich's contention that the course was not political -- a claim Cole and the committee did not accept, but the IRS later would.
In return for those admissions, the House reprimanded Gingrich and levied an unprecedented $300,000 fine. The size of the penalty was not so much about the misdeed itself but the fact that the Speaker was involved in it.

Why did Gingrich admit wrongdoing? "The atmosphere at the time was so rancorous, partisan, and personal that everyone, including Newt, was desperately seeking a way to end the whole thing," Gingrich attorney Jan Baran told me in 1999. "He was admitting to whatever he could to get the case over with."

It was a huge victory for Democrats. They had deeply wounded the Speaker. But they hadn't brought him down. So, as Bonior suggested, they sought to push law enforcement to begin a criminal investigation of Gingrich.

Nothing happened with the Justice Department and the FBI, but the IRS began an investigation that would stretch over three years. Unlike many in Congress -- and journalists, too -- IRS investigators obtained tapes and transcripts of each session during the two years the course was taught at Kennesaw State College in Georgia, as well as videotapes of the third year of the course, taught at nearby Reinhardt College. IRS officials examined every word Gingrich spoke in every class; before investigating the financing and administration of the course, they first sought to determine whether it was in fact educational and whether it served to the political benefit of Gingrich, his political organization, GOPAC, or the Republican Party as a whole. They then carefully examined the role of the Progress and Freedom Foundation and how it related to Gingrich's political network.

In the end, in 1999, the IRS released a densely written, highly detailed 74-page report. The course was, in fact, educational, the IRS said. "The overwhelming number of positions advocated in the course were very broad in nature and often more applicable to individual behavior or behavioral changes in society as a whole than to any 'political' action," investigators wrote. "For example, the lecture on quality was much more directly applicable to individual behavior than political action and would be difficult to attempt to categorize in political terms. Another example is the lecture on personal strength where again the focus was on individual behavior. In fact, this lecture placed some focus on the personal strength of individual Democrats who likely would not agree with Mr. Gingrich on his political views expressed in forums outside his Renewing American Civilization course teaching. Even in the lectures that had a partial focus on broadly defined changes in political activity, such as less government and government regulation, there was also a strong emphasis on changes in personal behavior and non-political changes in society as a whole."

The IRS also checked out the evaluations written by students who completed the course. The overwhelming majority of students, according to the report, believed that Gingrich knew his material, was an interesting speaker, and was open to alternate points of view. None seemed to perceive a particular political message. "Most students," the IRS noted, "said that they would apply the course material to improve their own lives in such areas as family, friendships, career, and citizenship."

The IRS concluded the course simply was not political. "The central problem in arguing that the Progress and Freedom Foundation provided more than incidental private benefit to Mr. Gingrich, GOPAC, and other Republican entities," the IRS wrote, "was that the content of the 'Renewing American Civilization' course was educational...and not biased toward any of those who were supposed to be benefited."

The bottom line: Gingrich acted properly and violated no laws. There was no tax fraud scheme. Of course, by that time, Gingrich was out of office, widely presumed to be guilty of something, and his career in politics was (seemingly) over.

Back in January 1997, the day after Cole presented his damning report to the Ethics Committee, the Washington Post's front-page banner headline was "Gingrich Actions 'Intentional' or 'Reckless'; Counsel Concludes That Speaker's Course Funding Was 'Clear Violation' of Tax Laws." That same day, the New York Times ran eleven stories on the Gingrich matter, four of them on the front page (one inside story was headlined, "Report Describes How Gingrich Used Taxpayers' Money for Partisan Politics"). On television, Dan Rather began the CBS Evening News by telling viewers that "only now is the evidence of Newt Gingrich's ethics violations and tax problems being disclosed in detail."

The story was much different when Gingrich was exonerated. The Washington Post ran a brief story on page five. The Times ran an equally brief story on page 23. And the evening newscasts of CBS, NBC, and ABC -- which together had devoted hours of coverage to the question of Gingrich's ethics -- did not report the story at all. Not a word.Gingrich himself, not wanting to dredge up the whole ugly tale, said little about his exoneration. "I consider this a full and complete vindication," he wrote in a brief statement. "I urge my colleagues to go back and read their statements and watch how they said them, with no facts, based on nothing more than a desire to politically destroy a colleague."Now, Gingrich is saying much the same thing in the face of Romney's accusations. And despite the prominence of the matter in the GOP race, few outsiders seem inclined to dive back into the ethics matter to determine whether Gingrich deserves the criticism or not. But if Gingrich is to have any hope of climbing out from under the allegations, he'll have to find some way of letting people know what really happened.
2)Roubini: Iran Conflict Could Spark Global Recession, Send Oil to $150
By Julie Crawshaw

Economist Nouriel Roubini says that a conflict with Iran over its nuclear program that involves Israel, the United States, or both could drive oil prices to $150 per barrel and lead to a global recession, MSNBC reports.

Unemployment, economic insecurity and growing inequality between rich and poor are already problems in most of the world, Roubini observes, and a major change in policy priorities is needed.

"All these things lead to political and social instability," Roubini says.

"So we have to reduce inequality. We have to give growth to jobs, skills, education, and increase human capital so workers can compete," says Roubini, who teaches at New York University's Stern School of Business and is the chairman of Roubini Global Economics, an economic consultancy firm.

"We have to shift our investment from things that are less productive like the financial sector and housing and real estate to things that are more productive like our people, our human capital, our structure, our technology, our innovation," says Roubini, who anticipated the collapse of the United States housing market and the worldwide recession which started in 2008.

Roubini expects that slow growth in advanced economies will likely lead to "a U-shaped recovery rather than a typical V," a recovery that may continue for another three to five years because of high debt.

"Once you have too much debt in the public and private sector, the painful process could last up to a decade, where economic growth remains weak and anemic and sub-par until we have cleaned up the balance sheet and invested in the things that make us more productive for the future," Roubini says.

Other experts have a similar dire view.

Billionaire financier George Soros says that as the U.S. economy worsens, protests such as those carried out by the Occupy Wall Street movement will turn ugly, breaking down into waves of violent unrest across the nation.

"It will be an excuse for cracking down and using strong-arm tactics to maintain law and order, which, carried to an extreme, could bring about a repressive political system, a society where individual liberty is much more constrained, which would be a break with the tradition of the United States," Soros tells Newsweek.

Unrest in the United States will serve as one of many symptoms of a worsening global economy, which makes wealth preservation a priority over getting rich.

3)Four new States join Georgia in challenging Obama's eligibility for the Ballot and one of them is ...
By K.Curtis

Illinois...and Official Challenges have been filed in Alabama, Massachusetts, and Tennessee. Finally the word JUSTICE is ringing true to the American people.

Numerous Organizations are popping up to support the Laws under the Constitution and put a stop to the theft of the highest office of the United States of America. Freedom Nations is one who advocates a petition to support the Eligibility Requirements be mandatory in every state https://secure.freedomdonations.com/proofpositive/demand_proo...

But the biggest news is that one of the states seeking justice and proof of eligibility, beyond Nancy Pelosi's certification is ILLINOIS. A State that knows too well Obama's lack of accomplishments since he served as an Illinois Senator but the majority of his service was cloaked with Present votes. A vote to record one's presence in the senate, but abstinence of any real stance.

Hilary Clinton called the record correctly when she said, "In the Illinois State Senate, Senator Obama voted 130 times 'present,'"

Clinton said. "That's not 'yes.' That's not 'no.' That's 'maybe.'"

This week, Retired ASAR LTC William F. Reade filed an official ballot challenge with election officials, contending that Barack Obama is ineligible to appear on the Massachusetts ballot. Reade’s challenge is well researched and filled with numerous legal citations to back his case.

But perhaps most interesting are the similarities between LTC Reade’s and

Barack Obama’s citizenship status. Like Obama, Reade was born in the United
States. But, also like Obama whose father was a Kenyan citizen and therefore a
British subject, Reade’s father was also a British subject. As such, Reade
correctly points out that he himself is not a “natural born citizen” as defined
by the Supreme Court and therefore, like Barack Obama, Reade is also ineligible
for the office of President.

Commentary: So the Liberals and Progressives can call the race card, stomp their feet and scream foul all they want the facts are facts. Obama has not been proven eligible under US law and unless he does so his HOPE is fading. He and his highly paid legal eagles failure to appear in court and failure to produce an unquestionable paper document proving his citizenship are still yet to be found. 3 years is a long time to hide Obama, we're coming.
4) Subject: Why ailing Britain appeases its Islamist enemies
By Melanie Phillips

Was there ever a more perverse and self-destructive society than the contemporary West? In its attitude to the Middle East and the Islamic world, it appears to suffer from the political equivalent of auto-immune disease: turning on its allies while embracing its enemies.

One year ago, the US and Britain helped street protesters to overthrow president Hosni Mubarak of Egypt. Hailing the revolutionary tumult of the "Arab Spring" as the equivalent of the fall of the Berlin Wall, the West went on to help armed Libyan rebels remove president Muammar Gaddafi by military force.

This regional strategy was promoted even though it was obvious from the start that the people who were best organised to take advantage of any elections in the Arab world were Islamists of one stripe or another - religious extremists all, united by their hostility to the West.

And so it has proved. The Islamists are coming to power in Egypt, Libya, Yemen and Tunisia, and in turn are being increasingly empowered elsewhere. In Libya, sickening atrocities, including the torture and killing of Gaddafi himself by a lynch mob, have been carried out by those brought to power with the assistance of British and US bombing raids.

Yet Western politicians are even now hymning the brave new dawn of democracy throughout the Muslim world. British Foreign Secretary William Hague conceded earlier this month that the regional violence and votes for Islamism were a "setback", but he insisted: "Greater freedom and democracy in the Middle East is an idea whose time has come."

And the Muslim Brotherhood, the Islamist organisation now in the ascendancy, which uses violence and political manipulation to advance its aim of world domination for Islam, is suddenly being hailed by Western leaders as the acme of moderation.

Yet in helping to get rid of Mubarak and Gaddafi, Britain and the US have managed the signal feat of ousting oppressive regimes that were at least helpful to the West, and replacing them with oppressive regimes that are acutely hostile to the West.

One immediate result is that the Sinai desert, neutralised as a trouble spot ever since Israel made peace with Egypt in 1979, has now become an acute threat to Israel's southern border. Hamas is now building arms-manufacturing facilities in Sinai, including those for building rockets, and other Islamic extremists are piling in.

Arms are being smuggled from Egypt into Gaza without interruption. Oh, and Libyan weapons, including Russian-made anti-plane rockets, are now making their way into the Gaza Strip. Well done, Britain and America!

And then there's Iran. Ever since the Islamic revolution in 1979, when the ayatollahs declared war on the West, Iran has been involved in many acts of terrorism against the US and Western interests. Tehran regularly threatens to wipe Israel off the map, and is now racing to develop nuclear weapons to realise its infernal goals.

Yet despite all this, the West has refused to fight back or even to acknowledge the Iranian war against the West, with President Barack Obama advertising US weakness by extending his hand in friendship to the regime.

Obama's catastrophic strategy has given Iran the one thing it needed above all else: time to bring its nuclear weapons program to fruition.

Only now, with the hands on the doomsday clock pointing to midnight, have Britain, the US and Europe finally imposed tough sanctions against Iran. But what use are these when they will almost certainly be busted by Russia and China?

Sanctions are supposed to force Iran to 'come to its senses' and stop its nuclear energy program from producing weapons. But the Tehran regime is dominated by fanatics who believe the Shia messiah, the Mahdi, will return to earth either as result of or to bring about the apocalyptic end of days.

That is why the argument that "They wouldn't dare launch a nuclear attack because they know half of Iran would be obliterated as a result" is fatuous. They would be happy if this were to occur.

But despite all this, Western leaders still behave as if the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians is the dominant issue in the Arab world, and that the expansion of Israeli settlements on Palestinian land is the dominant issue in the Arab-Israel conflict.

Barely a week goes by without Western politicians or the media blaming "Israeli intransigence" in general, and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in particular, for blocking the Israel-Palestinian peace process.

British Prime Minister David Cameron says time is running out for the two-state solution to the conflict because of "facts on the ground" - code for the Israeli settlements.

His deputy, Nick Clegg, went further, claiming the "illegal" settlement-building amounted to "an act of deliberate vandalism" that jeopardised a peaceful two-state solution.

Yet this was to ignore the fact it is the Palestinians, not Israel, who refuse to negotiate without preconditions. It ignores the fact that Israel has twice offered the Palestinians a state on most of the West Bank, to which the Palestinians have merely responded by terrorist campaigns.

And it ignores the absolutely fundamental fact that Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas has said the Palestinians will never accept Israel's right to exist as a Jewish state.

So why does the West fail to see what is under its nose? There are several reasons, including prejudice, ideology, strategic short-sightedness and simple funk.

But the deeper reason is surely the Western belief that the world is basically governed by rationality. So all conflicts arise from grievances, and all parties can be persuaded to settle a quarrel in their own interests.

Refracting everything in the world through the prism of its unshakeable faith in universal reason, the West is incapable of recognising or understanding religious fanaticism, and insists instead on treating the fanatic as a rational actor.

The ghastly irony is that in making a fetish of reason, the West is behaving irrationally by refusing to acknowledge the mortal threat posed to its own existence by the Islamic world.

In other words, this could be the point in history at which the West simply disappears up its own arrogant backside.

By Janet Daley

Barack Obama is trying to make the US a more socialist state
The ideas the President outlined in the State of the Union are based on the very model that is causing the EU to implode.

What was it everybody used to say about the United States? Look at what’s happening over there and you will see our future. Whatever Americans are doing now, we will be catching up with them in another 10 years or so. In popular culture or political rhetoric, America led the fashion and we tagged along behind.

Well, so much for that. Barack Obama is now putting the United States squarely a decade behind Britain. Listening to the President’s State of the Union message last week was like a surreal visit to our own recent past: there were, almost word for word, all those interminable Gordon Brown Budgets that preached “fairness” while listing endless new ways in which central government would intervene in every form of economic activity.

Later, in a television interview, Mr. Obama described his programme of using higher taxes on the wealthy to bankroll new government spending as “a recipe for a fair, sound approach to deficit reduction and rebuilding this country”. To which we who come from the future can only shout, “No‑o-o, go back! Don’t come down this road!”

As we try desperately to extricate ourselves from the consequences of that philosophy, which sounds so eminently reasonable (“giving everybody a fair share”, the President called it), we could tell America a thing or two – if it would only listen. Human beings are so much more complicated than this childlike conception of fairness assumes. When government takes away an ever larger proportion of the wealth which entrepreneurial activity creates and attempts to distribute it “fairly” (that is to say, evenly) throughout society in the form of welfare programmes and public spending projects, the effects are much, much more complex and perverse than a simple financial equation would suggest.

It is probably obvious that the people from whom the wealth is taken will become less willing to incur the risks that entrepreneurial investment involves – and so will produce less wealth, and thus less tax revenue. But more surprising, perhaps, are the damaging changes that take place in the beneficiaries of this “fairness” and the permanent effect this has on the balance of power between government and the people.

There is, it turns out, a huge difference between being provided with a livelihood and feeling that you have earned it. The assumption that all the wealth that individuals create belongs, by moral right, to the state, to spend on benefits or phoney job creation schemes (sorry, public infrastructure projects), is proving phenomenally difficult to expunge in Britain, so ineradicably has it embedded itself in the public consciousness.

In the US, it has had only odd historical moments of favour (Roosevelt’s New Deal, Lyndon Johnson’s “Great Society”), which have been beaten back consistently by the dynamism of a country that sees its existential purpose as being to foster and promote individual achievement and self-belief. It is bizarre that Obama should be regarded (or should regard himself) as a kind-of European who is trying to bring a sophisticated kind-of socialism to American economic life, complete with government-run health care and “fair” (high) taxes on the wealthy. If his European credentials were up to date, he would know that this was precisely the social model that is causing the EU to implode, and whose hopeless contradictions the best economic minds on the Continent are attempting, unsuccessfully, to resolve.

A vendetta against the “wealthy” is one of Obama’s favourite themes, and it strikes a peculiarly familiar note. Back here, Nick Clegg is arguing (rightly) that a tax cut for the lower paid should be accelerated on both moral and economic grounds – because people are struggling, and because allowing them to keep and spend more of their earnings would stimulate growth. But he wants to balance this with a wealth tax or some such penalty on “the rich”. Both Obama and Clegg, by an extraordinary coincidence, used the same semantic trick to try to prove the injustice of their present tax systems. In his State of the Union address, the President slipped subliminally from the fact that his likely presidential opponent Mitt Romney paid tax at a lower rate (because his income came from profits and dividends which were taxed as capital gains) than his secretary (who would have paid income tax), to the claim that Mr. Romney paid less tax than his secretary.

Mr. Clegg made exactly the same charge against a putative hedge fund manager who “paid less tax” than his cleaner, neatly obscuring the fact that it was the rate of tax that was lower, not the amount which was paid. Needless to say, both Mr. Romney and the imagined hedge-fund manager pay vastly more tax than their respective secretaries and cleaners. (The top 1 per cent of earners pay nearly a third of all federal taxes in the US.)

So what does this kind of verbal trick tell us about the honesty – or the desperation – of this argument? At the very least, it is crass populism designed to provoke a particularly counterproductive form of class resentment. What is needed here and in the US are tax cuts for the many, not the few, to adapt Mr. Brown, and less demonising of the sorts of people who are able to invest and create the real wealth that will be our only chance for economic salvation.

Obama is clearly living the Left-liberal dream, which still survives in small pockets of American life. He wants to import the democratic socialism that Europe embraced after the war, which was, for European cultural reasons, imbued with aristocratic paternalism and Marxist notions of bourgeois guilt. But neither of these things are part of the American historical experience. The Left-wing intellectuals, including Obama himself, who adopt this language are talking dangerously uninformed rubbish: if democratic socialism was ever a solution to Europe’s problems (and the present crisis is making that seem less and less likely), it is certainly not an answer to any question that Americans are likely to ask.

The United States is a country that was invented to allow people to be free of domination or persecution by the state. Its constitution and political institutions are specifically designed to prevent the federal government from oppressing the rights, or undermining the sense of responsibility, of the individual citizen. If it ceases to stand by that principle, then it will suffer a catastrophic loss of purpose and identity – as well as making a quite remarkably stupid and unnecessary mistake.
5)Israel to Iran: It's Crunch Time
By James Lewis

It is indeed a cold day in Hell when the New York Times blunders into telling the truth about Iran.  Well, it just happened. This is serious business, because it means that the NYT is now expecting something real to happen soon.
President Obama has been tip-toeing away from the Iranian nuclear end-run for three years, until the window of opportunity to preempt catastrophe has almost slammed shut. The Saudis may be buying their own nukes.  Iran is threatening to block almost half of Europe's oil by shutting the Strait of Hormuz, and it can do so -- but only at a terrible price.  But once the mullahs have nukes, nobody will dare to stop them.
Europe, the Arabs, Israel, and yes, the United States are all therefore facing the end of the road. If we fail to act now we will become Tehran's running lackeys very soon. Obama's three years of dithering has made this moment unavoidable.
 Just as the NYT-Wapo axis only reports real poll results near election time, the fact that they are now reporting the reality of the Iranian threat means they expect something big to happen soon.
As in -- an Israeli attack on Natanz, and on Tehran's missile bases like the Imam Ali missile base  -- Imam Ali being Tehran's Armageddon messiah.  Or an Israeli nuclear warning explosion under the Negev desert, to see if the mullahs might sober up before it's too late.  Or a major EMP attack on Tehran's oil refinery and electricity grid.  Or a huge denial-of-service cyberattack on Tehran's military and government infrastructure.  Or all of the above.
Here are excerpts from the most truthful analysis the NYT-WaPo Axis has ever published.  It's called, "Will Israel Attack Iran?" and written by Ronen Bergman, a very skilled analyst for Israel's Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper.  Bergman quotes two people, PM Bibi Netanyahu, and his Labour Minister of Defense, Ehud Barak. They are from different parties, but both served as paratroops in combat.  Both have made good and bad decisions.  And both consider themselves responsible  "in a very direct and concrete way for the existence of the State of Israel -- indeed, for the future of the Jewish people."  
... Barak laid out three ... questions
1. Does Israel have the ability to cause severe damage to Iran's nuclear sites and bring about a major delay in the Iranian nuclear project? And can (Israel) withstand the inevitable counterattack?
2. Does Israel have ... support, particularly from America, for carrying out an attack?
3. Have all other possibilities ... been exhausted, bringing Israel to the point of last resort?"
And then the punch line:
For the first time ... some of Israel's most powerful leaders believe that the response to all of these questions is yes.
The "most powerful leaders" are obviously Netanyahu and Barak.  Between them they represent a majority of the Israeli Parliament, the Knesseth.
Barack Obama has been playing chicken with Israel on a second Holocaust.  That is grossly irresponsible, but it's no particular surprise for the worst foreign policy president in American history.  Obama has been just as destructive to the Arabs by supporting the anarchy, warfare, and economic destruction of the perversely misnamed "Arab Spring."  And by failing to keep the faith with our allies all over the world, Obama has weakened confidence in the United States from Asia to the Eastern Europe. But in national security, as in finance, confidence means everything.
Obama has essentially lost the Middle East, where nobody now trusts us.  The Saudis are furious at Obama for failing to protect them against Iranian nukes, which are much closer to their shores than they are to Israel.
Jimmy Carter betrayed Iran to the Dark Age of Ayatollah Khomeini. Barack Obama has now betrayed the Arab world to the Dark Age of the Muslim Brotherhood.  Those two Democrat presidents are directly responsible for criminal neglect and collusion with genocidal evil.
That is entirely consistent with the radical left in Europe, which colludes with genocidal regimes at the United Nations every day of the week.  The Sudan was elected to the Human Rights Commission of the General Assembly with the active collaboration of Europe.  As Michael Ledeen points out, the hard left collaborates with Islamic fascists all over the world.
That is all we need to know.
Israel declared its independence in 1948 as a last refuge for the Jewish people. It has fought time and again since that year for its very existence.  The IDF does not perform miracles, but with its back to the wall it will break the Iranian path to nukes, come what may.
The United States is the only power in the world that can intervene safely in Iran, the way it did in Gulf War I and II and in Iraq.  The Arabs, the Europeans, and even Israel are still hoping that we will step in with our overwhelming military power.
But Barack Obama has been using the Iranian threat to extort border concessions from Israel for the last three years, as he has publicly proclaimed.  In re-election mode Obama is still playing to the phony pacifists of his left wing.  Above all, Obama  wants to vote "present" rather than act.  After all, he might be held responsible for his actions if the American people ever find out.
What would you do in Israel's place?

5a)Assad may start regional war if UN tells him to step down – Gulf sources 

Syrian officers visit Russian aircraft carrier in Tartus port
In confidential conversations with his advisers, Syrian President Bashar Assad is reported by Persian Gulf sources Tuesday, Jan. 31 to have threatened to start up armed hostilities in the region if the UN Security Council Tuesday night endorses the Arab League proposal for him to step down and hand power to his deputy.

Heads of the Syrian armed forces and intelligence have been given their orders and some units are on the ready. Other Middle East sources reported Lebanese Hizballah has also shown signs of military preparations in the last few hours. And the Russian flotilla berthed at the Syrian port of Tartus, led by the Admiral Kutznetsov aircraft carrier, also appears to be on the alert for eruptions in the wake of the Security Council Syria session.

During the day, Russia's Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov warned pushing the Arab League's UN resolution was "the path to civil war." Moscow sources report top-level discussions are still going back and forth in the Kremlin over a final decision on a veto.

The military flurry in advance of the critical Security Council session included US naval movements. Sunday, Jan. 29, the nuclear submarine USS Annapolis, escorted by the guided missile destroyer USS Momsen sailed through the Suez Canal to the Red Sea. This looked like a Washington warning for Tehran to keep its military fingers out of Syria if the confrontation there escalates.

It was not the first time Assad has threatened Syria's neighbors. On Aug. 9, 2011, four months into his savage crackdown against protesters, he warned Turkey that, six hours after the first shot was fired against Syria, he would "destroy Tel Aviv and set the entire Middle East on fire."
That was his answer to Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmed Davutoglu when he came to Damascus with a demand from his and other NATO governments that the Syrian ruler stop the slaughter.  .
Davutoglu urged Assad to take a look at Libya and try to understand that if he carried on, he might be in for the same fate as Muammar Qaddafi – a strong hint at military intervention by NATO, including Turkey.

Earlier still on May 10, one of Assad's close kinsmen, the international tycoon Rami Makhlouf, warned: "If there is no stability in Syria, there will be none in Israel. No one can be sure what will happens after that. God help us if anything befalls this regime."
6)Hamas and the Washington establishment
By Caroline B. Glick

For the US to secure its interests in the Middle East, it requires leaders who are willing to reassess what passes for common wisdom on both sides of the aisle
"Conventional wisdom" dissected 

To date, the Republican presidential primary race has been the only place to have generated any useful contributions to America's collective understanding of current events in the Middle East. Last month, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich became the first major political figure in more than a generation to pour cold water over the Palestinian myth of indigenous peoplehood by stating the truth, that the Palestinians are an "invented people."
As Gingrich explained, their invention came in response to Zionism, the Jewish national liberation movement. Since they were created somewhere around 1920, the Palestinians' main purpose has not been the establishment of a Palestinian state but the obliteration of the Jewish state.
For his truth telling, Gingrich was attacked by fellow politicians and policy hands on both sides of the ideological divide. To his credit, Gingrich has not backed away from the truth he spoke. Rather he has repeated it in two subsequent Republican candidates' debates.
The second important contribution that Republican presidential candidates have made to the discourse on the Middle East was undertaken by Texas Gov. Rick Perry during a candidates' debate in South Carolina on January 17, shortly before he pulled out of the race. When asked about Turkey, Perry said that country "is being ruled by what many would perceive to be Islamic terrorists." He went on to say that the US ought to be having a debate about whether Turkey should continue to serve as a member of NATO.
Like Gingrich, Perry was pilloried by all right thinking people in the US foreign policy elite. And like Gingrich, Perry was right. The hoopla his statement generated showed just how destructive so much of America's received wisdom about the Middle East has become. Moreover, it demonstrated the extent to which the US has adopted Middle East policies that are inimical to its national interests.

After Hamas won the Palestinian elections in January 2006, Turkey was the first country to invite Hamas's terror master Khaled Mashal to Ankara. Turkish Prime Minister Recip Tayyip Erdogan's move provoked criticism from the Bush administration. But Erdogan just shrugged it off. And he was right to do so. By 2006, then secretary of state Condoleezza Rice had come to view Erdogan as the US's indispensable ally in the Muslim world. As she saw it, he was proof that Islamist parties could be democratic and moderate.
The fact that Erdogan embraced Hamas could not get in the way of Rice's optimistic assessment. So, too, the fact that Erdogan embarked on a systematic campaign to stifle press freedom, curb judicial independence and imprison his political critics in the media and the military could not move Rice from her view that Erdogan personified her belief that moderate jihadists exist and ought to be embraced by the US.
Rice's starry-eyed view of Erdogan set the stage of US President Barack Obama's even stronger embrace of the increasingly tyrannical Turkish Islamist. Since Obama took office, not only has Ankara stepped up its support of Hamas, and ended even the pretense of a continued strategic alliance with Israel that it maintained during the Bush years. Turkey began serving as Iran's chief diplomatic protector while vastly expanding its own strategic and economic ties with Tehran.
In the face of Turkey's openly anti-American behavior and actions, Obama clings to Erdogan even more strongly than Rice did. Obama reportedly views Erdogan as his most trusted foreign adviser. According to the media, Obama speaks with Erdogan more often than he speaks to any other foreign leader. In a recent interview with Time magazine, Obama listed Erdogan as one of the key foreign leaders with whom he has formed a friendship based on trust.
Over the past few weeks, Turkey has emerged as Hamas's largest financier. During an official visit in Turkey, Hamas's terror master in Gaza Ismail Haniyeh received a hero's welcome. Erdogan pledged to finance the jihadist movement to the tune of $300 million per year.
COMMENTATORS CLAIM that Turkey's sponsorship of Hamas was necessitated by Iran's abandonment of the terror group. Iran, it is claimed, cut Hamas off in August due to the Palestinian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood's refusal to actively assist Iran's other Arab client — Syrian President Bashar Assad — in massacring his domestic opponents.
These analyses are problematic for two reasons. First, it is far from clear that Iran cut Hamas off. Iran's rulers have invited Haniyeh to Tehran for an official visit. This alone indicates that the mullahs remain committed to maintaining their relationship with the jihadist movement that controls the Gaza Strip.
And why would they want to cut off that relationship? By serving as Hamas's chief sponsor since 2006, Iran has won enormous credibility in the Arab world. This credibility has bought Tehran influence with the likes of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and beyond. Particularly now, with the Brotherhood taking over Egypt and much of the Arab world, Iran would only stand to lose by cutting off Hamas.
The second problem with these assessments is that it makes little sense to believe that Turkey has replaced Iran as Hamas's main state sponsor since Iran and Turkey are not necessarily competing over Hamas. Given the interests shared by Tehran and Ankara, it is far more reasonable to assume that they are coordinating their moves regarding Hamas.
Iran became Hamas's chief financier and weapons supplier the same year that Erdogan emerged as Hamas's most important political supporter. And in the six years since then, Iran and Turkey have become strategic allies. Even with regards to Syria, the fact that Assad remains in power today is due in no small measure to the fact that Erdogan has used his influence over Obama to ensure that the US has remained on the sidelines and so effectively supported Assad's survival.
In light of Erdogan's enormous influence over leaders in both US parties, it is little wonder that Perry's factual statement about the nature of the Turkish government and the need for the US to reassess its strategic alliance with Turkey provoked such an across the board outcry. Erdogan's close relationship with Obama — like his previously close relationship with Rice — renders it well nigh impossible for US government officials and inside-the Beltway "experts" to make the kind of commonsense assessments of Turkey's counterproductive regional role that an outsider like Perry was able to make from his perch in Austin, Texas.

CONTRARY TO what several leading commentators have argued since the onset of the Syrian popular rebellion against Assad, Hamas has not been seriously damaged by the events. True, its leaders are looking for a new place to station their headquarters. But there is no law that requires terrorist organizations to have one central office. The families of Hamas's leadership have decamped to Jordan. Hamas leaders have close relations with the Qataris — who remain major funders — as well as with the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood and the Sudanese regime.
In addition to these state supporters, through its relations with Turkey and Fatah, Hamas has Washington as well. To understand how Washington acts as Hamas's protector, it is necessary to consider the nature of the Palestinian-Israeli peace process.
Since its inception in 1993, the peace process has been predicated on Israeli concessions to the Palestinians. To the extent that Israel makes concessions, the peace process is seen as advancing. To the extent that Israel fails to make concessions, the peace process is seen as collapsing. True, at certain times, the Bush administration blamed the Palestinians for the failure of the peace process, but the blame owed to the fact that Palestinian terrorism made Israel less amenable to concession making.
Palestinian terrorism was not in and of itself blamed for the demise of the peace process. Rather it was perceived as the means through which Israel avoided making more concessions. And at certain times, the US supported Israel's avoidance of concession making.
Since Israeli concessions to the Palestinians are the only tangible component of the peace process, the US, as the chief sponsor of the peace process, requires the Palestinian Authority — run by Fatah — to be accepted as a credible repository for Israeli concessions regardless of its actual nature. Consequently, despite Fatah's two unity deals with Hamas, its sponsorship of terrorism, its incitement of terrorism, its refusal to accept Israel's right to exist, its adoption of negotiating positions that presuppose Israel's demise, and its conduct of political warfare against Israel, neither the Bush administration nor the Obama administration ever showed the slightest willingness to consider ending their support for the PA.
If Israel has no peace partner, then it can't make concessions. And if it can't make concessions, there is no peace process. And that is something that neither the Bush administration nor the Obama administration was willing to countenance.
It is true that under Obama the US has become far more hostile towards Israel than it was under Bush. The most important distinction between the two is that whereas George W. Bush sought to broker a compromise deal between the two sides, Obama has adopted Fatah's negotiating positions against Israel. As a consequence of Obama's actions, the peace process has been derailed completely. Fatah has no reason to compromise since the US will blame Israel no matter what. And Israel has no reason to make concessions since the US will deem them insufficient.
Noting this distinction, Washington Post commentator Jennifer Rubin wrote this week that for the benefit of the peace process, it is important for a Republican administration to be elected to replace Obama in November. As she put it, "If history is any guide, progress is made in the 'peace process' when the Israeli prime minister operates from a position of strength and has the full support of the US president. We might get there, albeit not until 2013."
The problem with her analysis is that it is of a piece with the insiders' attacks on Gingrich and Romney alike. That is, it is based on the false assumptions of the peace process and the generally accepted wisdom embraced by the American foreign policy elite on both sides of the aisle that the PA is a reasonable repository for Israeli concessions.
Here it is worth noting that this week Fatah-controlled PA TV aired a sequence venerating the murderers of the Fogel family. Udi and Ruth Fogel and their children Yoav, Elad and Hadas were brutally murdered in their home last March.
Fatah's glorification of their murderers is yet further proof that the foundations of the peace process are false. Peace cannot be based on appeasing societies that uphold mass murderers as role models. It can only be based on empowering free societies to defeat societies that embrace murder, terror and in the case of Hamas, genocide.
And this brings us back to the Republican primaries and Gingrich's and Perry's statements. For the US to secure its interests in the Middle East, it requires leaders who are willing to reassess what passes for common wisdom on both sides of the aisle. 
7)Jeb's 2012 Role


Jeb Bush’s decision not to endorse Mitt Romney before Tuesday primary raises three possibilities about the former Florida governor’s role in the 2012 presidential election.       
bush jeb
At the moment, he is playing no role at all.  There had been considerable speculation he would publicly back Romney, as his father, former President George H.W. Bush, has.  And Romney has made a strenuous effort to recruit Jeb Bush, whom Jeff Zeleny of the New York Times called “the biggest catch of all” in the presidential race.      
But with Romney in a strong position to defeat his chief rival, Newt Gingrich, and win tomorrow’s Florida primary, Bush has steered clear of the contest.  “If Dad got behind [Romney], that would help shut the door,” Jeb Bush Jr. told Zeleny.  “But that’s just not his style.”     
If Bush wants to run for president himself one day, he “could have concluded that it was not in his interest to get involved and agitate conservatives in his party by going against Mr. Gingrich,” Zeleny wrote.  Maybe, but I doubt that is what’s on Bush’s mind.     
The three possible roles–major roles—for Bush this year are more intriguing.  He may not intend to play any of them, but his refusal to be active in the race now makes them possibilities nonetheless. 
First, having not endorsed a candidate, Bush could emerge as an acceptable compromise nominee in the unlikely event there’s a deadlock between Romney and Gingrich at the GOP convention in August.  In other words, a brokered convention might turn to him, thus unifying the party. 
Second, he could play a unifying role as a vice presidential choice of either Romney or Gingrich.  It’s significant he’s from Florida, a state that President Obama won in 2008  -- and Republicans must capture in 2012 to defeat Obama’s reelection.  With Bush on the ticket, winning Florida would be all but assured. 
Third, Bush could play a kingmaker role in the Republican presidential race.  He would have the credibility to promote an agreement among leading Republicans about choosing the best nominee.  Again, this would occur only if neither Romney nor Gingrich had won a majority of the delegates at the end of the primaries and caucuses

Biblical Ethics, Capitalism and The Food Fight!

Media takes a page from the president and stonewalls news of the case in the Georgia courts relating to eligibility.

The president's actions could come back to haunt him because if he is unwilling to respond to a legitimate case then how can he argue against any stonewalling by an opponent. (See 1 below.)
Is the noose tightening on Assad?  (See 2 below.)
Barry Rubin speaks the unvarnished and unspoken truth about the American threat to Israel.  It relates to a foreign policy that ignores/allows Muslim influence to rise throughout the region.

If allowed to continue it will also become a threat to our own nation. (See 3 below.)
To Newt's credit he began his campaign by professing to take the high road and did not direct his comments and criticisms at his fellow candidates.  Over time, his poll results improved and he became a threat to Mitt Romney, the avowed front-runner.  Mitt's 'Super PAC' targeted Newt bringing his poll results down and Newt asked Mitt to leash the attack dogs.  Mitt responded he did not control them. Newt responded with his own scorched earth attacks and thus began the food fight which has served to besmear them both and heighten the prospects of the re-election of our current president.

The below op ed piece is worth reading. It ties the ethics of The Bible to Capitalism. (See 4 below.)
1)Media Blackout in Obama Georgia Ballot Eligibility Case
By Cindy Simpson

Last week, I noted that Obama turned his back not just on Arizona's Governor Jan Brewer, but also on the laws of the State of Georgia.  I closed my column, "Georgia Ballot Challenge: Obama Walks on By," with the observation: "And most of the media has followed along right behind him."
At the time, I had just witnessed an historic hearing that actually discussed the eligibility of the sitting president of the United States to run for a second term.  The president had been subpoenaed to appear, and instead of his attorney respectfully following protocol to have that subpoena recalled, both Obama and his attorney, Michael Jablonski, simply failed to show up at all or offer any defense whatsoever.
Isn't there a headline in there somewhere?
The hearing proceeded as planned, even though the table for the defense was empty.  Attorneys Van Irion and J. Mark Hatfield presented their cases first and offered compelling arguments -- not regarding Obama's birthplace, but rather that the non-U.S. citizenship of Obama's father precluded Obama's "natural born" eligibility under the Constitution and existing Supreme Court precedent.  Attorney Orly Taitz, however, did present interesting evidence that questioned the validity of Obama's birth certificate and questions surrounding his Social Security number.
When the hearing ended, the media in attendance almost literally pounced on Taitz.  Irion and Hatfield and their clients had left the premises earlier, while Taitz was still presenting her case; however, Irion asserted to me that not one member of the press stopped them on their way out.  Doubtless the media did not want to discuss the law -- they'd rather write their usual stories on the birth certificate and interview the one they've dubbed the "birther queen."
Attorney Taitz handled herself well, even though the press taunted her with rudeness and leading questions she has doubtless experienced many times.  After the reporters finished letting Taitz feel the full extent of their contempt for both her and the entire morning's event, they packed up to leave.
I walked up to one particular reporter from one of the prominent mainstream entities, noting that he seemed frustrated that he didn't get a clear answer from Taitz to one of his questions, and I informed him that I did know the exact answer, if he'd like to hear more about it.  He said no, he didn't.  I asked then, wasn't he a reporter, and why did he ask the question if he didn't want the answer?  And as I was speaking, he turned and walked away from me.
The same thing happened with another reporter from another major network.  He had asked Taitz why no one cared that there were past presidents who had fathers not born in the country.  I explained to him that it was not the place of birth of the presidents' fathers that was the issue, but rather the status of their citizenship at the time of their sons' births.  The reporter scoffed and told me that that was just my opinion, but when I attempted to inform him that it was also the opinion of the Supreme Court, he turned and walked away from me while I was in mid-sentence.
Does this behavior seem familiar?
Even though I saw reporters from every major network on the scene, the actual reporting of the event was scant -- primarily only in blogs or local news.  Google "Georgia Ballot Challenge" and note the non-mainstream coverage of the event.
Rachel Maddow must not have gotten the memo, though, because she dedicated a full 8 minutes of her January 26 show to telling her viewers why they should "feel almost duty-bound as a patriot to ignore" the hearing and not to "dignify this nonsense or elevate it by paying it any attention."  Not only were none of the legal points addressed in the hearings brought up by Maddow, but Maddow excused the extraordinary fact that Obama and his counsel, instead of respecting the law, had simply snubbed it, calling the case "ridiculous."
As Sunny of Sunny TV points out in this hilarious but uncomfortably true video, "Tyranny is as Tyranny Does"; "[l]et's just hope the next President is just as benevolent as Obama because they could really use that power for bad."  At the end of the clip, as Sunny pretends she is Obama, issuing orders right and left, she points to her crown and says: "This makes me in charge."  As Teri O'Brien noted in her interview discussing Obama's penchant for walking away from those with whom he disagrees, "[g]ods don't debate.  They issue decrees."
Attorney Irion, in this follow-up letter from his Liberty Legal Foundation, pointed out: "Yesterday President Obama completely ignored a court subpoena, and the world shrugged."
Yes, Obama shrugged, and the media has shrugged along.  Irion further noted:
Obama's behavior yesterday is even more disturbing than Nixon's. Nixon at least respected the judicial branch enough to have his attorneys show up in court and follow procedure[.] ... Nixon acknowledged the authority of the judicial branch even while he fought it. Obama, on the other hand, essentially said yesterday that the judicial branch has no power over him. He ordered his attorneys to stay away from the hearing. He didn't petition a higher court in a legitimate attempt to stay the hearing[.] ... Rather than respecting the legal process, Obama went around the courts and tried to put political pressure directly on the Georgia Secretary of State. When that failed, he simply ignored the judicial branch completely.
It is disconcerting to see that the president, whose primary duty is to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States, has turned his back on the rule of law of one of those states.  Especially, as Sunny uncomfortably reminded us, since this is the same president who routinely sidesteps the law or places himself above it. 
Even more troubling is the fact that the mainstream media not only seems to approve -- but they fail to report it at all.
2)Assad masses loyal troops in Damascus after he was warned of a military coup 

President Bashar Assad supported by his brother and cousin
According to exclusive reports President Bashar Assad pulled in the Syrian Republican Guard and the 4th armored divisions commanded by his brother Maher Assad from the northern rebel centers and over to Damascus. He ordered them into battle positions in the capital for the first time in the ten month uprising after receiving an intelligence tipoff that western powers had won over one of the armored division commanders posted in the capital and persuaded him to stage a coup d'etat to topple him.

The renegade general, whose identity is unknown, was reported to be planning to take advantage of the absence of the most trusted regime troops in trouble spots across the country to lead 300 tanks into the capital and seize power.

The conspirators were planning to make their move on the night of Monday Jan. 30 or early Tuesday Jan. 31, just before the UN Security Council was to convene in New York and air plans for him to step down. The putsch would have presented its members with the accomplished fact of Assad's overthrow by the military.

The information passed to Assad, apparently from an external source, did not name the division commander who accepted this role from Western hands. If it turns out to be true, the scheme would strongly recall the US-led NATO-Qatari-Jordanian operation for the Libyan rebels to seize power in Libya by taking Tripoli by storm in the third week of August 2011.

Forewarned, the Syrian ruler is making every effort to ward off the threatened coup.
Military sources report, aside from the Republican Guard and 4th division which Assad recalled to the capital, there  are the 1st, 3rd and 9th armored divisions.

The fight rebel forces put up at the gates of Damascus Monday night was perceived by the Assad regime as part of the coup conspiracy. Western and military sources described the combat as a search, arrest and kill operation to wipe out the last vestiges of resistance around the capital, rather than battles.

Monday night, the White House issued a statement saying the UN Security Council must not let the Syrian President Assad continue the violence.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is scheduled to address the Council meeting Tuesday. She has urged the forum to act before the violence in Syria spills over and destabilizes its neighbors.
Moscow has made it very clear in recent weeks that it will on no account let the Assad regime go the way of Qaddafi. Russia is adamant about vetoing the Security Council motion the US and European powers are gathering Tuesday in New Yorkto table in support of the Arab League transition plan for a national unity government to rise in Damascus within two months and implement Assad's handover of power to vice president Farouk a-Shara. A Russian bid to bring the opponents to the negotiating table failed after the main Syrian opposition party demanded that Assad step down first.

At least 27 people were killed Monday in the central city of Homs – which was heavily shelled again - the northern province of Idlib and southern province of Daraa, where the revolt against Assad began in mid-March. Another 41 deaths were reported Sunday.The Syrian regime stepped up the violence in the days before the Security Council session to quell resistance and demonstrate its grip on the country.

Ten months after the Syrian people launched an uprising against its ruler, Bashar Assad, if not yet safe in the saddle, has recovered the bulk of his army's support and his grip on most parts of the country

Protesters have mostly been pushed into tight corners in the flashpoint towns and villages, especially in the north, hemmed in by troops and security forces loyal to the president.
Monday, Jan. 30, Syrian forces were close to purging the suburbs and villages around Damascus of rebel fighters. The operation began Sunday with 2,000 troops backed by tanks and armored personnel carriers. Six soldiers were killed when their vehicle blew up on a roadside bomb near Sahnaya, east of the capital.

The rebel Free Syrian Army and opposition groups continue to report heavy fighting in the Damascus area, and especially the international airport where they claim to have prevented Assad's wife and children from fleeing the country. However, military watchers do not confirm either the fighting or the Assad family's attempted flight.

While both sides spin propaganda, the extreme hyperbole of opposition claims attests to their hard straits and the Syrian president's success in weathering their efforts and the huge sacrifices in blood paid by the people (estimated at 8,000 dead and tens of thousands injured) to oust him.
Having got rid of the Arab League monitoring mission, which gave up in despair of halting the savage bloodbath, Assad will shrug off the Arab-Western backed motion put before the UN Security Council Tuesday, Jan. 30, calling on him to step down and hand power to his vice president Farouk a-Shara. He will treat it as yet another failed effort by the combined Arab-Western effort to topple his regime.

The conflict is not over. More ups and downs may still be to come and there are signs of sectarian war evolving. But for now, Assad's survival is of crucial relevance in seven Middle East arenas:
1. The Tehran-Damascus-Hizballah bloc is strengthened, joined most recently by Iraq;

2.  Iran chalks up a first-class strategic achievement for counteracting the US and the Saudi-led Gulf Arab emirates' presentation of the Islamic regime as seriously weighed down under by the crushing burden of crushing international sanctions imposed to halt its drive for a nuclear bomb.

3.  Hizballah has won a chance to recover from the steep slide of its fortunes in Lebanon. The Pro-Iranian Lebanese Shiite group stands to regain the self-assurance which ebbed during Assad's hard times against massive dissidence, re-consolidate its bonds with Tehran, Damascus and Baghdad and rebuild its political clout in Beirut.

4.  It is hard to calculate the enormous extent of the damage Saudi Arabia and Turkey have suffered from their colossal failure in Syria. The Palestinians too have not emerged unscathed.
Saudi Arabia, Qatar and their security agencies, which invested huge sums in the Syrian rebellion's removal of the Assad regime, were trounced by Syria's security and intelligence services and the resources Iran provided to keep Bashar Assad afloat.

The Arab League, which for the first time tried its hand at intervening in an Arab uprising by sending observers into Syrian trouble spots to cut down the violence, watched impotently as those observers ran for their lives. Assad for his part first accepted than ignored the League's peace plan.

Turkey, too, after indicating its military would step across the border to support the Syrian resistance and giving the FSA bases of operation, backed off for the sake of staying on good terms with Iran.

5.  Russia and China have gained credibility in the Middle East and points against the United States by standing up for Assad and pledging their veto votes against any strong UN Security Council motions against him. Moscow's arms sales and naval support for the Assad regime and China's new military and economic accords with Persian Gulf emirates have had the effect of pushing the United States from center stage of the Arab Revolt, held in the Egyptian and Libyan revolutions, to the sidelines of Middle East action.

6.  The Syrian ruler has confounded predictions by Israel's Defense Minister Ehud Barak that he can't last more than a few weeks. His survival and the cohesion of his armed forces have contributed to the tightening of the Iranian military noose around Israel.
The Syrian army was in sustained operation for almost a year without breaking and suffered only marginal defections. It is still in working shape with valuable experience under its belt in rapid deployment between battlefronts. Syria, Iran and Hizballah have streamlined the cooperation among their armies and their intelligence arms.

7.  The Palestinian rivals, Fatah and Hamas, have again put the brakes on the on-again, off-again reconciliation after it was galvanized by Hamas' decision to create some distance between Iran and the embattled Syrian regime. Seeing Assad still in place, Hamas' Gaza prime minister Ismail Haniyeh will visit Tehran this week and Meshaal may delay his departure from the Syrian capital.
3)The Unvarnished Reality of Contemporary U.S.-Israel Relations
The following article was published in newspaper in Hebrew.
By Barry Rubin

Do not speak of it in public. Do not expect any Israeli official to admit it. But Israel is facing an issue unlike anything it has had to deal with during the past 50 years: It cannot depend on the United States.

True, the relationship in terms of weapons’ supply remains good. Old programs continue to provide advanced arms to Israel. Nor is the problem the one most people think of first: on Israel-Palestinian, “peace process” issues.

President Barack Obama’s Administration has seen that no real progress is possible on that front. It tends to blame Israel in public and Obama intensely dislikes Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu but those problems have little material effect. If that personal matter were the only issue involved Israel could muddle through as it has with other presidents.

The difficulty with Obama is that his entire strategy in the Middle East is contrary to Israeli interests, except for putting some sanction’ pressure on Iran regarding its nuclear weapons’ program. The greatest threat to Israel today is the rise of radical Islamist regimes. Here is how Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh puts it:

"The Palestinian cause is winning. With the Muslim Brotherhood part of the government [in Egypt], they [the Egyptians] will not besiege Gaza. They will not arrest Palestinians. They will not give cover to Israel to launch a war....Israel is disturbed by this. It knows the strategic environment is changing. Iran is an enemy. Relations are deteriorating with Turkey. With Egypt, they are really cold. Israel is in a security situation they have never been in before."

Even though Israel has faced worst strategic situations and the Islamists are badly divided, Haniyeh has put his finger on the central strategic factor today. Radical Islamists who want to open a new round of battle against Israel now rule or are likely to do so very soon in Egypt, Gaza, Iran, Lebanon, Libya, Tunisia, and Turkey.
Here is where the problem with the United States comes in. Obama does not really view this trend as a threat. He spent the first half of his term engaging with Iran and its ally Syria. Obama and his administration regards the Islamists as people who are either already moderate or are likely to become so by governing.

This is, of course, the opposite of the Israeli assessment. In Syria, the U.S. government even helped organize and supports an external opposition leadership in which Islamists form the majority even though it is doubtful that this reflects their level of support within the country.

To put it bluntly, the U.S. government does not even recognize the existence of the number-one threat to Israel.

And to make matters worse, the government that Obama looks to for advice, guidance, and interpretation of the region is not Israel but the Islamist regime in Turkey. That government’s sharp turn to a highly emotional anti-Israel policy has not cost it anything at all in terms of its relations with the White House, something that would have been unthinkable under any previous president.

That is why Israel, as well as the Middle East generally, is going to be an important issue in this year’s presidential election. To preserve relations with the United States, Israeli leaders will neither do, nor say anything about that contest. Yet nothing could be more obvious than that Obama’s reelection would be extremely damaging for Israel’s security.
4)What the Bible Teaches About Capitalism

As the Ten Commandments instruct, envy is corrosive to the individual and to those societies that embrace it.


Who would have expected that in a Republican primary campaign the single biggest complaint among candidates would be that the front-runner has taken capitalism too far? As if his success and achievement were evidence of something unethical and immoral? President Obama and other redistributionists must be rejoicing that their assumptions about rugged capitalism and the 1% have been given such legitimacy.

More than any other nation, the United States was founded on broad themes of morality rooted in a specific religious perspective. We call this the Judeo-Christian ethos, and within it resides a ringing endorsement of capitalism as a moral endeavor.

Regarding mankind, no theme is more salient in the Bible than the morality of personal responsibility, for it is through this that man cultivates the inner development leading to his own growth, good citizenship and happiness. The entitlement/welfare state is a paradigm that undermines that noble goal.

The Bible's proclamation that "Six days shall ye work" is its recognition that on a day-to-day basis work is the engine that brings about man's inner state of personal responsibility. Work develops the qualities of accountability and urgency, including the need for comity with others as a means for the accomplishment of tasks. With work, he becomes imbued with the knowledge that he is to be productive and that his well-being is not an entitlement. And work keeps him away from the idleness that Proverbs warns leads inevitably to actions and attitudes injurious to himself and those around him.
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Yet capitalism is not content with people only being laborers and holders of jobs, indistinguishable members of the masses punching in and out of mammoth factories or functioning as service employees in government agencies. Nor is the Bible. Unlike socialism, mired as it is in the static reproduction of things already invented, capitalism is dynamic and energetic. It cheerfully fosters and encourages creativity, unspoken possibilities, and dreams of the individual. Because the Hebrew Bible sees us not simply as "workers" and members of the masses but, rather, as individuals, it heralds that characteristic which endows us with individuality: our creativity.

At the opening bell, Genesis announces: "Man is created in the image of God"—in other words, like Him, with individuality and creative intelligence. Unlike animals, the human being is not only a hunter and gatherer but a creative dreamer with the potential of unlocking all the hidden treasures implanted by God in our universe. The mechanism of capitalism, as manifest through investment and reasoned speculation, helps facilitate our partnership with God by bringing to the surface that which the Almighty embedded in nature for our eventual extraction and activation.

Capitalism makes possible entrepreneurship, which is the realization of an idea birthed in human creativity. Whereas statism demands that citizens think small and bow to a top-down conformity, capitalism, as has been practiced in the U.S., maximizes human potential. It provides a home for aspiration, referred to in the Bible as "the spirit of life."

The Bible speaks positively of payment and profit: "For why else should a man so labor but to receive reward?" Thus do laborers get paid wages for their hours of work and investors receive profit for their investment and risk.

The Bible is not a business-school manual. While it is comfortable with wealth creation and the need for speculation in economic markets, it has nothing to say about financial instruments and models such as private equity, hedge funds or other forms of monetary capitalization. What it does demand is honesty, fair weights and measures, respect for a borrower's collateral, timely payments of wages, resisting usury, and empathy for those injured by life's misfortunes and charity.

It also demands transparency and honesty regarding one's intentions. The command, "Thou shalt not place a stumbling block in front of the blind man" also means that you should not act deceitfully or obscure the truth from those whose choice depends upon the information you give them. There's nothing to indicate that Mitt Romney breached this biblical code of ethics, and his wealth and success should not be seen as automatic causes for suspicion.

No country has achieved such broad-based prosperity as has America, or invented as many useful things, or seen as many people achieve personal promise. This is not an accident. It is the direct result of centuries lived by the free-market ethos embodied in the Judeo-Christian outlook.

Furthermore, only a prosperous nation can protect itself from outside threats, for without prosperity the funds to support a robust military are unavailable. Having radically enlarged the welfare state and hoping to further expand it, President Obama is attempting to justify his cuts to our military by asserting that defense needs must give way to domestic programs.

Both history and the Bible show the way that leads. Countries that were once economic powerhouses atrophied and declined, like England after World War II, once they began adopting socialism. Even King Solomon's thriving kingdom crashed once his son decided to impose onerous taxes.

At the end of Genesis, we hear how after years of famine the people in Egypt gave all their property to the government in return for the promise of food. The architect of this plan was Joseph, son of Jacob, who had risen to become the pharaoh's top official, thus: "Joseph exchanged all the land of Egypt for pharaoh and the land became pharaoh's." The result was that Egyptians became indentured to the ruler and state, and Joseph's descendants ended up enslaved to the state.

Many on the religious left criticize capitalism because all do not end up monetarily equal—or, as Churchill quipped, "all equally miserable." But the Bible's prescription of equality means equality under the law, as in Deuteronomy's saying that "Judges and officers . . . shall judge the people with a just judgment: Do not . . . favor one over the other." Nowhere does the Bible refer to a utopian equality that is contrary to human nature and has never been achieved.

The motive of capitalism's detractors is a quest for their own power and an envy of those who have more money. But envy is a cardinal sin and something that ought not to be.

God begins the Ten Commandments with "I am the Lord your God" and concludes with "Thou shalt not envy your neighbor, not for his wife, nor his house, nor for any of his holdings." Envy is corrosive to the individual and to those societies that embrace it. Nations that throw over capitalism for socialism have made an immoral choice.
Rabbi Spero has led congregations in Ohio and New York and is president of Caucus for America.