Saturday, March 31, 2012

Obama and Jane Fonda's 'Work Out' Tape Routine!

If Liberals can say something and, by their very saying it, believe it to be so and assume/demand/expect everyone else to fall in line then perhaps we should accord the same privilege to Noonan. (See 1 and below.)

Nothing new here. Sticking the knife in Israel's back? Message to Netanyahu - trust Obama at Israel's peril!

I believe, in the ensuing months, Obama will become frantic and will do anything in order to win re-election. Consequently, you will see more and more extreme and bizarre behaviour.(See 1a below.)
Hurt sees a heap of hurt for Obama last week. Perhaps. You decide.(See 2 below.)
Krauthammer discusses Obama's desire for flexibility.

I would argue we should give Obama all the slack he needs, disconnect him from The White House and buy him Jan Fonda's 'Work Out" tape routine! (See 3 below.)
Ironically Pete DuPont has to attack Obama re his failed energy policies because Pete represents a coal region and his family made fortunes off polluting chemicals.

This is the same Pete, who lacerated GW over Iran, yet read the same intelligence material, believed what he read and initially supported the Iran War.

Can Pete be trusted? You decide.(See 4 below.)

Ah, but Republicans have to wrestle with the same trust issue because they have gone along with promiscuous spending for decades and now expect the public to believe they are finally serious.

When so called Conservatives cannot muster the necessary testicular fortitude, they have no right to expect voter support except under the most egregious actions by their opponents. This is how Republicans, from time to time, ascend to Congressional power but that is not a prescription for long term seniority.

Kim Strassel alludes to this in her recent op ed piece pertaining to weak knee evidence beginning to surface over the possibility 'The Supremes' may conclude 'Obamascare' is constitutionally frightening. (See 5 below.)
Will our economic future be defined by debt? (See 6 below.)
We are in Winter Park, Florida for our granddaughter's naming. Winter Park is the old and elegant Florida I remember from my youth and the home of Rollins College - probably one of the most beautiful college campuses in America.

Winter Park is a short drive from Sanford where outsiders are marching on the city and threatening to boycott businesses until they put 'Leo" Zimmerman in jail. They are being led by America's pre-eminent shakedown pirate, Al Shaprton, and his motley crew of anointed vigilantes..

Merchants are being held hostage in hopes they will prevail by forcing city fathers to embrace a policy of thuggish mob rule type injustice. I hope their crude demogogic efforts will fail and justice will be allowed to determine the final outcome of this seamy affair.
This is priceless and so full of logic it was impossible for this bureaucrat to respond:
1)Not-So-Smooth Operator
Obama increasingly comes across as devious and dishonest.

Something's happening to President Obama's relationship with those who are inclined not to like his policies. They are now inclined not to like him. His supporters would say, "Nothing new there," but actually I think there is. I'm referring to the broad, stable, nonradical, non-birther right. Among them the level of dislike for the president has ratcheted up sharply the past few months.

It's not due to the election, and it's not because the Republican candidates are so compelling and making such brilliant cases against him. That, actually, isn't happening.

What is happening is that the president is coming across more and more as a trimmer, as an operator who's not operating in good faith. This is hardening positions and leading to increased political bitterness. And it's his fault, too. As an increase in polarization is a bad thing, it's a big fault.

The shift started on Jan. 20, with the mandate that agencies of the Catholic Church would have to provide services the church finds morally repugnant. The public reaction? "You're kidding me. That's not just bad judgment and a lack of civic tact, it's not even constitutional!" Faced with the blowback, the president offered a so-called accommodation that even its supporters recognized as devious. Not ill-advised, devious. Then his operatives flooded the airwaves with dishonest—not wrongheaded, dishonest—charges that those who defend the church's religious liberties are trying to take away your contraceptives.

What a sour taste this all left. How shocking it was, including for those in the church who'd been in touch with the administration and were murmuring about having been misled.

Events of just the past 10 days have contributed to the shift. There was the open-mic conversation with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev in which Mr. Obama pleaded for "space" and said he will have "more flexibility" in his negotiations once the election is over and those pesky voters have done their thing. On tape it looked so bush-league, so faux-sophisticated. When he knew he'd been caught, the president tried to laugh it off by comically covering a mic in a following meeting. It was all so . . . creepy.

Next, a boy of 17 is shot and killed under disputed and unclear circumstances. The whole issue is racially charged, emotions are high, and the only memorable words from the president's response were, "If I had a son he'd look like Trayvon" At first it seemed OK—not great, but all right—but as the story continued and suddenly there were death threats and tweeted addresses and congressmen in hoodies, it seemed insufficient to the moment. At the end of the day, the public reaction seemed to be: "Hey buddy, we don't need you to personalize what is already too dramatic, it's not about you."

Now this week the Supreme Court arguments on ObamaCare, which have made that law look so hollow, so careless, that it amounts to a characterological indictment of the administration. The constitutional law professor from the University of Chicago didn't notice the centerpiece of his agenda was not constitutional? How did that happen?

Maybe a stinging decision is coming, maybe not, but in a purely political sense this is how it looks: We were in crisis in 2009—we still are—and instead of doing something strong and pertinent about our economic woes, the president wasted history's time. He wasted time that was precious—the debt clock is still ticking!—by following an imaginary bunny that disappeared down a rabbit hole.

The high court's hearings gave off an overall air not of political misfeasance but malfeasance.

All these things have hardened lines of opposition, and left opponents with an aversion that will not go away.

I am not saying that the president has a terrible relationship with the American people. I'm only saying he's made his relationship with those who oppose him worse.

In terms of the broad electorate, I'm not sure he really has a relationship. A president only gets a year or two to forge real bonds with the American people. In that time a crucial thing he must establish is that what is on his mind is what is on their mind. This is especially true during a crisis.

From the day Mr. Obama was sworn in, what was on the mind of the American people was financial calamity—unemployment, declining home values, foreclosures. These issues came within a context of some overarching questions: Can America survive its spending, its taxing, its regulating, is America over, can we turn it around?

That's what the American people were thinking about.

But the new president wasn't thinking about that. All the books written about the creation of economic policy within his administration make clear the president and his aides didn't know it was so bad, didn't understand the depth of the crisis, didn't have a sense of how long it would last. They didn't have their mind on what the American people had their mind on.

The president had his mind on health care. And, to be fair-minded, health care was part of the economic story. But only a part! And not the most urgent part. Not the most frightening, distressing, immediate part. Not the 'Is America over?' part.

And so the relationship the president wanted never really knitted together. Health care was like the birth-control mandate: It came from his hermetically sealed inner circle, which operates with what seems an almost entirely abstract sense of America. They know Chicago, the machine, the ethnic realities. They know Democratic Party politics. They know the books they've read, largely written by people like them—bright, credentialed, intellectually cloistered. But there always seems a lack of lived experience among them, which is why they were so surprised by the town hall uprisings of August 2009 and the 2010 midterm elections.

If you jumped into a time machine to the day after the election, in November, 2012, and saw a headline saying "Obama Loses," do you imagine that would be followed by widespread sadness, pain and a rending of garments? You do not. Even his own supporters will not be that sad. It's hard to imagine people running around in 2014 saying, "If only Obama were president!" Including Mr. Obama, who is said by all who know him to be deeply competitive, but who doesn't seem to like his job that much. As a former president he'd be quiet, detached, aloof. He'd make speeches and write a memoir laced with a certain high-toned bitterness. It was the Republicans' fault. They didn't want to work with him.

He will likely not see even then that an American president has to make the other side work with him. You think Tip O'Neill liked Ronald Reagan? You think he wanted to give him the gift of compromise? He was a mean, tough partisan who went to work every day to defeat Ronald Reagan. But forced by facts and numbers to deal, he dealt. So did Reagan.

An American president has to make cooperation happen.

But we've strayed from the point. Mr. Obama has a largely nonexistent relationship with many, and a worsening relationship with some.

Really, he cannot win the coming election. But the Republicans, still, can lose it. At this point in the column we usually sigh.

1a)Bolton Charges Obama Purposely Undermining Israel
By David A. Patten

Former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton blasted the Obama administration Wednesday afternoon for putting “just merciless” behind-the-scenes pressure on the Israeli government in order to persuade Israeli leader Benjamin Netanyahu not to launch an attack on Iran.

Bolton added that reported intelligence leaks by the administration could hurt Israel’s chances of successful knocking out Iran’s nuclear facilities.

Bolton’s comments on Fox News followed revelations Wednesday that the Israeli government has made arrangements with the government of Azerbaijan to use its airbases, which it would presumably employ to help it attack Iran.

Landing jets in Azerbaijan would make an Israeli attack on Iran’s nuclear infrastructure much more effective, military experts say. It would greatly reduce the flight time, and refueling requirements, for Israel’s F-16 and F-15 jets.

Foreign Policy broke the news of the alleged Israel-Azerbaijan connection. It attributed the report to a “senior administration official.” Another U.S. intelligence source said the administration is “not happy” about Israel’s efforts to strengthen its ties with Azerbaijan in order to defend itself.
Bolton sees the administration’s leak of sensitive information as part of a larger problem.

“I think the Obama administration has long believed that an Israeli attack was worse than an Iranian nuclear weapon,” Bolton told Fox. “The president says that containment and deterrence of Iran is not his policy, and I think today that’s true. But it’s his plan B, it’s his backup plan when his current efforts at sanctions fail, diplomacy fails, and Iran gets nuclear weapons.

“And I think the pressure the administration has put on Israel has been just merciless behind the scenes,” he adds.

So far, Bolton says, Israeli officials show no intention of backing down from what they see as the existential threat of a nuclear-capable Iran. But the Azerbaijan leak indicates the administration is upping the ante.

“So the Obama administration has torqued it up a notch, and now they’re going to reveal very sensitive, very important information that will allow Iran to defeat an Israeli attack,” said the former UN ambassador. “I think that’s what’s going on.”

Last month, Israel inked a $1.6 billion arms deal for drones and an anti-aircraft missile defense system with Azerbaijan. Many foreign policy experts, however, remain highly skeptical that Azerbaijan would help Israel attack its powerful Persian neighbor to the south.

Bolton is the author of the Newsmax Magazine April cover story “Showdown: Iran’s Plan for a Second Holocaust Must Be Stopped.” He suggested he has no independent knowledge of whether Israeli has struck a bargain to use Azerbaijan’s airfields.

Bolton added that the leak could impair Israel’s ability to defend itself.

“Releasing this information, so that the Iranians now know about it, takes away a potentially very powerful mode of attack that hitherto the Israelis have been able to keep secret,” he said.

© 2012 Newsmax. All rights reserved

2)HURT: Brutal week for Obama, the worst of his presidency
By Charles Hurt

The past seven brutal days will go down as one of the worst weeks in history for a sitting president. It certainly has been, without any doubt, the worst week yet for President Obama.

Somehow, Mr. Obama managed to embarrass himself abroad, humiliate himself here at home, see his credentials for being elected so severely undermined that it raises startling questions about whether he should have been elected in the first place — let alone be re-elected later this year.


• Last Friday, Mr. Obama wandered into the killing of Trayvon Martin. Aided by his ignorance of the situation, knee-jerk prejudices and tendency toward racial profiling, Mr. Obama played a heavy hand in elevating a tragic situation in which a teenager was killed into a full-blown hot race fight.

Americans, he admonished, need to do some “soul-searching.” And then, utterly inexplicably, he veered off into this bizarre tangent about how he and the poor dead kid look so much alike they could be father and son. It was election-year race-pandering gone horribly wrong.

• By the start of this week, Mr. Obama had fled town and was racing to the other side of the planet just as the Supreme Court was taking up the potentially-embarrassing matter of Obamacare. While in South Korea he was caught on a hidden mic negotiating with the president of our longest-standing rival on how to sell America and her allies down the river once he gets past the next election.

• Meanwhile, back at home, the Supreme Court took up the single most important achievement of Mr. Obama’s presidency and, boy, was it embarrassing. The great constitutional law professor, it turns out, may not quite be the wizard he told us he was.

By most accounts, Mr. Obama and his stuttering lawyers were all but laughed out of the courthouse. They were even stumbling over softball questions lobbed by Mr. Obama’s own hand-picked justices.

• Mr. Obama closed his week pulling off a nearly unimaginable feat: He managed to totally and completely unify the nastily-fighting Democrats and Republicans in Congress. Late Wednesday night, they unanimously voted — 414 to zip — to reject the budget Mr. Obama had presented, leaving him not even a thin lily’s blade to hide behind.

So, in one week, Mr. Obama got caught whispering promises to our enemy, incited a race war, raised serious questions about his understanding of the Constitution, and then got smacked down over his proposed budget that was so wildly reckless that even Democrats in Congress could not support it.

It was as if you lumped Hurricane Katrina and the Abu Ghraib abuses into one week for George W. Bush. And added on top of that the time he oddly groped German Chancellor Angela Merkel and got caught cursing on a hot mic.

Even then, it wouldn’t be as bad as Mr. Obama’s week. You would probably also have to toss in the time Mr. Bush’s father threw up into the lap of Japan’s prime minister. Only then might we be approaching how bad a week it was for Mr. Obama.

Not that you will see any trace of embarrassment in the face of Mr. Obama. He has mastered the high political art of shamelessness, wearing it smugly and cockily. Kind of like a hoodie.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------3)The ‘flexibility’ doctrine
By Charles Krauthammer

“On all these issues, but particularly missile defense, this can be solved, but it’s important for him [Vladimir Putin] to give me space. . . . This is my last election. After my election, I have more flexibility.”

You don’t often hear an American president secretly (he thinks) assuring foreign leaders that concessions are coming their way, but they must wait because he’s seeking reelection and he dares not tell his own people.

Not at all, spun a White House aide in major gaffe-control mode. The president was merely explaining that arms control is too complicated to be dealt with in a year in which both Russia and the United States hold presidential elections.

Rubbish. First of all, to speak of Russian elections in the same breath as ours is a travesty. Theirs was a rigged, predetermined farce. Putin ruled before. Putin rules after.

Obama spoke of the difficulties of the Russian presidential “transition.” What transition? It’s a joke. It had no effect on Putin’s ability to negotiate anything.

As for the U.S. election, the problem is not that the issue is too complicated but that if people knew Obama’s intentions of flexibly caving on missile defense, they might think twice about giving him a second term.

After all, what is Obama doing negotiating on missile defense in the first place? We have no obligation to do so. The Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, a relic of the Cold War, died in 2002.

We have an unmatched technological lead in this area. It’s a priceless strategic advantage that for three decades Russia has been trying to get us to yield. Why give any of it away?

To placate Putin, Obama had already in 2009 abruptly canceled the missile-defense system the Poles and Czechs had agreed to host in defiance of Russian threats. Why give away more?

It’s unfathomable. In trying to clean up the gaffe, Obama emphasized his intent to “reduce nuclear stockpiles” and “reduce reliance on nuclear weapons.” In which case, he should want to augment missile defenses, not weaken, dismantle or bargain them away. The fewer nukes you have for deterrence, the more you need nuclear defenses. If your professed goal is nuclear disarmament, as is Obama’s, eliminating defenses is completely illogical.

Nonetheless, Obama is telling the Russians not to worry, that once past “my last election” and no longer subject to any electoral accountability, he’ll show “more flexibility” on missile defense. It’s yet another accommodation to advance his cherished Russia “reset” policy.

Why? Hasn’t reset been failure enough?

Let’s do the accounting. In addition to canceling the Polish/Czech missile-defense system, Obama gave the Russians accession to the World Trade Organization, signed a START Treaty that they need and we don’t (their weapons are obsolete and deteriorating rapidly), and turned a scandalously blind eye to their violations of human rights and dismantling of democracy. Obama even gave Putin a congratulatory call for winning his phony election.

In return? Russia consistently watered down or obstructed sanctions on Iran, completed Iran’s nuclear reactor at Bushehr, provides to this day Bashar al-Assad with huge arms shipments used to massacre his own people (while rebuilding the Soviet-era naval base in the Syrian port of Tartus), conducted a virulently anti-American presidential campaign on behalf of Putin, pressured Eastern Europe and threatened Georgia.

On which of “all these issues” — Syria, Iran, Eastern Europe, Georgia, human rights — is Obama ready to offer Putin yet more flexibility as soon as he gets past his last election? Where else will he show U.S. adversaries more flexibility? Yet more aid to North Korea? More weakening of tough Senate sanctions against Iran?

Can you imagine the kind of pressure a reelected Obama will put on Israel, the kind of anxiety he will induce from Georgia to the Persian Gulf, the nervousness among our most loyal East European friends who, having been left out on a limb by Obama once before, are now wondering what new flexibility Obama will show Putin — the man who famously proclaimed that the “greatest geopolitical catastrophe” of the 20th century was Russia’s loss of its Soviet empire?

They don’t know. We don’t know. We didn’t even know this was coming — until the mike was left open. Only Putin was to know. “I will transmit this information to Vladimir,” Medvedev assured Obama.

Added Medvedev: “I stand with you.” A nice endorsement from Putin’s puppet, enough to chill friends and allies, democrats and dissidents, all over the world.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------4)The Anti-Energy President
He really meant it when he said prices would "skyrocket."

Our America today is very different from the America of some years ago. Government spending is greatly increased, as is the regulation of our economy. The growing size and reach of our government is sapping our nation's strength and independence. And our current president's policies have been quite different from our leaders of some years ago.

One of the best examples of these public policy changes is the huge increase in government regulation in how we generate and use energy, with its negative impact on supply, its focus on financing new and inefficient energy industries, and the resulting higher costs.

The policy of the Obama administration has been not to increase the energy supplies that are so critical to our nation's economic health, but to limit them, to increase energy prices, and to make energy more expensive.

Eliminating tax deductions for the oil and gas industries is at the top of the President's list, which would increase the price of gasoline and home heating oil for everyone. But this fits in with the Obama administration's overall inclination to hamper domestic production, whether through slowness in granting new permits or refusal to open new areas for exploration. In fact oil, production on federal lands was flat between 2009 to 2011, while production on nonfederal lands increased almost 7%.

And it is not just petroleum. Mr. Obama's Environmental Protection Agency wants to increase regulation of coal-fueled electricity plants, which produce almost half of our electricity, so as to drive up the price of electricity and force plants to close. None of this should be surprising, for as we know, Obama's energy secretary, Steven Chu, told The Wall Street Journal in 2008 that we must "figure out how to boost the price of gasoline to the levels in Europe."

The president admitted that his cap-and-trade energy proposals, had they come to pass, would cause energy prices to "skyrocket" and bankrupt coal companies. In the Mr. Obama's words, coal fired plants can be built, but if they are, "it will bankrupt them because they're going to be charged a huge sum" for emitting the greenhouse gases.

On the other hand, the current administration is throwing money at "green" energy companies, exemplified by the failed $535 million federal loan guarantee in Solyndra. Alternative energy sources do need to be developed, but it is clear that the federal government is not a wise allocator of taxpayer dollars in this effort. These sources will never be developed to the point of affordability unless the free market is allowed to sort good technologies from bad without the skewing of investment that comes from government trying to pick winners and losers. America badly needs very different national energy policies that will increase our energy supplies, reduce the cost of energy, and get America positively moving again.

Approving the Keystone pipeline so that more energy comes into America is an important first step. The president has twice rejected congressional efforts to approve it.

We must encourage hydraulic "fracking," of underground reserves in shale. Already there are many fracking gas efforts underway, and the government's latest estimates of the gas available from shale are about 500 trillion cubic feet. We currently use about 24 trillion cubic feet per year, so shale gas can add around 20 years to our supply.

The Obama administration must open up more areas for exploration and production, from drilling in the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge to reducing the number of prohibited areas offshore. It simply must do what it can to speed up the permit granting process. And it must recognize that now is not the time, if there ever is a good time, to raise taxes on energy producers.

Finally, a look at the George W. Bush's and Mr. Obama's efforts to increase government regulation—not just in energy, but across the economy—shows the difference between the two presidents. In his first three years in office Mr. Bush put into place 28 major regulations. Mr. Obama's three years have seen 106 major regulations. In dollar terms the Bush regulations cost $8.1 billion and Obama's $46 billion.

So where America is and what it is doing in energy policies has changed a great deal in the past three years, mostly in a regressive direction. Energy is essential for a strong America, but the current administration seems to be doing all it can to keep us from tapping the reliable energy supplies we have right here in our country—coal, oil, and gas—and from our neighbor to the north. Instead we are being pushed towards other energy sources that are inefficient, expensive and will only provide a fraction of the energy a strong America needs.
5)The GOP's Health-Care Eeyores
Some Republicans believe the Democratic spin that it will help the president if the Supreme Court strikes down ObamaCare.

"Good morning, Pooh Bear," said Eeyore gloomily. "If it is
a good morning," he said. "Which I doubt," said he.

–"Winnie the Pooh"

Conservatives are meant to be optimists, yet by the mutterings attending this week's Supreme Court drama, more than a few have been eating thistles with one depressive, gray donkey. To listen to this troop, the worst thing that might happen in this election season is for the court to . . . wait for it . . . kill ObamaCare.

For two years now, that law has animated the right. It was the spur behind the tea party, the reason voters gave Republicans the House. It is why Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum roll out of bed, to promise to immediately dismantle the monstrosity. Conservative think tanks, free-market business groups, the grass roots—all agree this must be the top priority.

And if you are any of the above, it was a darn good week. On every major legal question surrounding the law—the constitutionality of the individual mandate; the question of severability; the issue of Medicaid expansion—the court proved itself aware, and skeptical, of ObamaCare's overreach. Nothing is certain in jurisprudence, and the Supremes could uphold the law. Yet the oral arguments were the single greatest reason for optimism that opponents have had.

And so, cue the donkeys. With all the dreariness of a modern-day Eeyore, they are convincing themselves that something so great as a legal victory must, by necessity, portend political disaster.

Credit for this idea goes to the left, which is scrambling to pre-emptively spin any humiliating court loss. The death of ObamaCare, proclaimed liberal strategist James Carville, "will be the best thing that ever happened to the Democratic Party." The system will disintegrate, he explained, and Republicans will "own it."

Added Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid: A court loss actually puts President Obama in a "better position for the election," since Republicans lose their signature issue. And don't forget, insisted Neera Tanden, president of the liberal Center for American Progress, that it will "galvanize Democrats to use the courts as a campaign issue."

Some Republicans are internalizing these arguments. Iowa Rep. Steve King all but declared in a recent news conference that a court victory would lose Republicans the White House. "If the Supreme Court finds this unconstitutional," he fretted, "there is more risk that President Obama will be re-elected because people will think they are protected from this egregious reach into our freedom." This concern that voters would stay home is ricocheting through the conservative TV and radio waves.

And what if the court upholds some of the law (or all of it)? No good, former top Republican aide John Feehery told the Associated Press, since "a wide swathe of people will say 'if the court says it's kosher, then it's kosher'"—which will also dampen voting enthusiasm.

There's more moaning: What about the policy mess Republicans might be left with? What if voters blame the GOP for the loss of more popular provisions? What if the party gets dinged for having no comprehensive alternative? What if the focus goes back to insurers, elevating Mr. Obama's class warfare? Misery and more misery.

The mistake here is one the Supreme Court didn't make: Confusing politics with the real issues—the Constitution, and liberty. Or, as put by David Rivkin, the attorney who started the 26-state lawsuit against ObamaCare: "These concerns are bogus. We have already won in the sense that the entire court's attention was on the Constitution's structural limitation on governmental power. That's the ultimate indictment—not just of ObamaCare, but of everything this administration has done."

Through that lens, the GOP has no obvious political problem. Republicans can argue that any fallout from partial or full repeal of the law—higher prices, the loss of some provisions—is the fault of a Democratic administration that strapped the market to a shoddily considered, partisan bill that failed judicial muster. And the risk of the same is the GOP argument for why it won't be proposing its own 2,700-page alternative.

As to enthusiasm come November, what better argument can the GOP be handed than proof, via a Supreme Court repeal, that Mr. Obama cannot be trusted with a second term? If the president was willing to impose such a constitutionally suspect bill prior to re-election, what will he do if he never has to face voters again? And what better reminder of the centrality of the court, which Mr. Obama could well alter in a second term?

For these arguments to matter, they must, of course, be made. If a Nominee Romney, for instance, took a repeal of ObamaCare as license to quit talking about a tricky issue, he'd be throwing the game. Whatever the Eeyores say, ObamaCare—upheld or repealed—remains Republicans' most potent issue this fall.
6)A Decade of Debt and Default
By John Maxfield

The last few years seem like a lifetime in and of themselves. Unlike previous economic downturns, most of which spanned a year or two at most, we're still slogging through the mess left by a decade of excesses in the financial and housing sectors.

Have we made any progress?

Figuring out where we're at in the process of recovery is one of the most difficult tasks that analysts and economists face nowadays. Has the housing market finally hit bottom? Are the improvements in the employment figures sustainable? Are financial institutions out of the woods yet?

To complicate matters further, the crisis was and remains truly global in scale, spawning a whole new category of questions. Will Europe remain a single political and monetary unit as countries like Ireland, Portugal, and Greece yearn for weaker currencies to ignite recoveries? Will China's real estate and export corrections turn into crises of their own?

While these issues continue to dominate the financial news and economists' minds, at the end of the day, the solution to the problem is as simple as it is painful. The world must deleverage -- the nasty process of lowering excessive debt after a credit bubble. And it is here that we must look to measure our progress.

Gauging the progress we've made

At the end of January, the McKinsey Global Institute, an arm of the prestigious management consulting firm McKinsey & Co., published an update to its invaluable research on deleveraging. For those of you interested in this topic, I strongly recommend checking it out.

What's clear from the report is that we still have a long way to go in this regard. Indeed, a full two years after the crisis, most of the world's major economies have only just begun the painful process. In fact, in only three of the largest mature economies -- the United States, Australia, and South Korea -- has the ratio of total debt relative to GDP fallen.

Below is a table with data from the report illustrating the debt composition of the 10 largest mature economies. The debt of each component is expressed as a percentage of GDP. For example, Japan's private debt is equal to 67% of GDP, its nonfinancial companies hold debt equivalent to 99% of its GDP, and so on. All told, the island nation's cumulative debt burden is equal to a staggering 512% of its GDP.


Household Debt

Nonfinancial Corp. Debt

Financial Industry Debt

Government Debt


Japan 67% 99% 120% 226% 512%
U.K 98% 109% 219% 81% 507%
Spain 82% 134% 76% 71% 363%
France 48% 111% 97% 90% 346%
S Korea 81% 107% 93% 33% 314%
Italy 45% 82% 76% 111% 314%
U.S 87% 72% 40% 80% 279%
Germany 60% 49% 87% 83% 278%
Austral 105% 59% 91% 21% 277%
Canada 91% 53% 63% 69% 276%
Source: McKinsey Global Institute, Debt and Deleveraging: Uneven Progress on the Path to Growth.

Debt will define our times

Although it's impossible to predict what the endgame will be in this regard, there's little doubt that these obligations will be a defining characteristic of our era. The 1920s were the Roaring '20s. The 1930s were lost to the Great Depression. The 1940s and '50s reaped the economic benefits sowed by war. And so on. The 2010s are set to be known as something like the decade of debt and/or default.

Indeed, which countries default and how they do so will not only dictate history, but also fortunes. For example, if Greece were to default again (as I and others suspect it will) and depart from the euro's monetary union to deal with its fiscal and economic issues, it wouldn't be hard to imagine how companies like Greek shipping giant DryShips (Nasdaq: DRYS ) and the National Bank of Greece (NYSE: NBG ) would suffer from the reinstitution of the drachma and a collapse in international financing. And not to belabor the point, but the same can be said about a company like the Bank of Ireland (NYSE: IRE ) , as its namesake country is struggling to extricate itself from a cumulative public and private debt burden equivalent to 663% of its GDP.

Yet investors who navigate these times wisely will be rewarded handsomely. The recent performance of the financial sector in the United States provides a case in point. Last year, Bank of America (NYSE: BAC ) and Citigroup (NYSE: C ) were two of the most beaten-down stocks of the S&P 500, as investors feared the extent of their liability for fraudulent practices in the mortgage industry. This year, however, they're both flying high. For the year, Bank of America is the top-performing stock on the Dow Jones Industrial Average, up a ridiculous 76%, and Citigroup is up a lesser but still impressive 41%.

Friday, March 30, 2012

'President Oil Slick 'Finds A New Pinata - 'Reach Our and Blame Someone!

'President Oil Slick' has found a new pinata. It's those dirty oil companies who are making too much money.

It was only a matter of time before the president, who previously voted for subsidies when prices were low, now wants oil subsidies removed because he is up to re-election.

Meanwhile 'Oil Slick's' EPA Agency, is seeking to put the coal industry out of business eventually creating more unemployment, hardship and escalating home energy costs on the premise  CO2 is more dangerous than methane emanating  from cow chips.

One day an honest president will rise and tell the truth about oil and gasoline prices, maybe even everything else  and not seek to create 'enemy number one'  for short term  political gain. Most Americans are incapable of understanding how commodity markets, trading on exchange floors work so they are vulnerable to lies, purposeful distortions and conspiratorial allegations. They tend to believe the garbage they are told.  It's the old bait and switch argument that should be tread worn by now but demagogues, like his president, have to blame some entity for his failed policies so he, as a variation on the old ad goes, 'reaches out and blames someone.'

Designer water, that has become so fashionable to drink, costs much more per drop than oil. Should we not close that industry down while we are at it for fraudulent pricing and gouging customers for what they are already paying for from their home taps? Can't do that because fracking makes the water ignite!

As for The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) it should be evident by now you should not trust words Government Agencies use to describe themselves.  Obama's EPA is hell bent on protecting us from their totally biased interpretation of specious science. The current  EPA is a handmaiden of Greens and radical environmentalists who would shut down oil drilling, logging, coal mines, car emissions and human belching etc.  if possible.  Their demands go beyond reason but they vote and contribute big time and we know this president will bow to anyone with a buck and a vote - foreign or domestic.

Who protects us from The EPA?

It all boils down to just more cow chips from our White House!

Wake Up America and vote this incompetent  out of office for God's and our nation's sake!

This from our dear friend whose Marine son is serving in Afghanistan: "This is A-----'s message from Facebook.  Please, please pray for all of them.  A----- is the gunner on his vehicle on their convoys.  We have no idea whether this was on A-----'s convoy or not.  He hasn't answered e-mails since Monday a week ago. 
Please pray for Cpl Micheal Palacios and his family. Yesterday his truck was hit by an IED. He was killed by the blast. The gunner, LCPL Stevenson, was launched from the truck. Both his legs are badly broken. the passenger, LCpl Rua, has lost feeling from his chest down and he has bad internal bleeding. He may not make it."

Yes war is hell and a senseless continuance of a war Obama has not intention of winning is blatant.  As I have often written Obama telegraphed to the enemy we are leaving and now believes he can negotiate with them .  What utter insanity and incompetence.

How can we continue to ask our best to sacrifice? For what purpose?  So Obama can seek re-election?  What an inhumane  travesty .

GW asked our military to make huge sacrifices in Iran at monumental physical and financial costs.  The latter should have been paid for through taxation, was not and that was wrong.  At least GW, stayed the course,  ultimately accomplished the goal of bringing a semblance of a democracy, Arab style, to the region and ended the savage reign of Saddam.  History will treat this effort less harshly as the bias towards GW subsides and a more reasoned view obtains.
Off to Orlando, have a great weekend.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Slay One, Another Occurs! Drinking One's Own Bath Water Subs For Logic?

Shiller sees possible gloomy outlook.  (See 1 below.)
Response to my most recent memo
" I suggest it noteworthy that a Supreme Court decision to overturn the so called"ObamaCare" could be just what Obama is looking for in that he can claim is was the Court who took this away, not him and gives him another path to serve the single payer option. This guy is not politically ignorant."

My reply: "There are all kind of angles but to have a major legislative effort over ruled would not be a feather in this dunce's cap."

His reply to my reply: "Love your terminology and do agree. We hope this and all other liberty reducers are defeated."

Mine back:  "Thanks,  but like Hydra's snakes you slay one only to find another. "
Off to Orlando for Hebrew naming ceremony for  Dagny Frances.  Returning late Monday. Have a great weekend.

On the way will be passing through Sanford. Hope the trip will not turn into another "Bonfire of The Vanities. " (See 2 below.)
Executive summary of what negotiations with N Korea and Iran have secured.  For full report go to:  (See 3 below.)
Should the wish beget the thought or the thought beget the wish. Frankly who cares as long as the opportunity for reset occurs. (See 4 below.)

John Podhoretz relishes over slap down for the La La La Liberals.

To a person they are shocked that Conservatives can defend their arguments and beliefs.

I am reminded of David Mamet's comments in his recent book I reviewed many memos ago when he pointed out that Liberals by their mere expression, ipso facto, it becomes true.  

I believe it comes from Liberals thinking they can drink their own bath water as a substitute for logic. (See 4a below.)
Are Obama and his minions frightened Israel is getting prepared to attack Iran?  Are they trying to head it off by leaking information?  I believe Obama will stop at nothing to prevent Israel from attacking Iran and I also believe Obama intends to do nothing as well.  So much for having Israel's back! (See 5 below.) 
1)Yale’s Shiller: US Could Have Japanese-Style Housing Slump

By Julie Crawshaw
  • 3
    ShareYale economist Robert Shiller says the United States could experience a Japanese-style housing slump that lasts for “years and years.”“I’m worried that home prices have been declining now for about five years,” Shiller told Yahoo Finance. “There’s a lot of downwa momentum,” with year-on-year and even month-on-month declines.

“On a seasonally-adjusted basis, it’s just flat.”

The big question now, says Shiller, is if the market is poised to recover. “I give it a chance that it is,” he says, citing optimistic reports on consumer confidence and positive news on the employment front.

Shiller noted that many young people who might have been first time homebuyers are living with their parents instead of purchasing their own homes, and many others are opting to live in apartments and other rental housing.

Shiller says the shift toward renting and city living could mean “that we will never in our lifetime see a rebound in these prices in the suburbs.”

“If you’re young and you don’t need to buy, just think what kind of nice, new modern high rise apartment building, with all the exciting things built in you might get in the city. Maybe some people are thinking that way.”

“The big thing is that we haven’t resolved Fannie (Mae) and Freddie (Mac), says Shiller. “This inadequate demand you see is only there because of the government.”

Shiller says people sense that the market is becoming more and more political and are holding back. Technology plays a role as well: As we get better and better at making houses, prices go down. “People won’t want the old ones, so prices will decline,” Shiller says.

Investors, Shilling says, will do better to buying shares in a complex of some sort because “dispersed single family homes are a hard business model.”

Reuters reports there’s a growing list of big and small investors who see fat profits to be made in renting out foreclosed homes, especially now the U.S. government is moving ahead with a trial project to sell big pools of single-family homes that Fannie Mae currently owns in some of the hardest-hit housing markets.

A perpetually sluggish housing market, which Shiller believes has become “more and more political,” might push the country in a “Japan-like slump that will go on for years and years.”
2)The Trayvon Martin Case and the Rule of Law
By Robert Weissberg

The death of Florida black teenager Trayvon Martin at the hands of George Zimmerman has generated millions of words, nearly all predictable (for example, see here).  It is almost as if a contest is being held to see who could be the most outraged.
Unfortunately, this rhetorical outpouring displays a profound disregard to one of the cornerstones of American life, if not of Western civilization itself: a respect for the rule of law -- that is, the idea that explicit publicly known law, not personal views or impromptu whims, is decisive, and that these laws are applied systematically according to certain specified procedures with little room for individual discretion.  Of the utmost importance, the law is applied regardless of personal characteristics -- that is, apart from sex, age, race, or wealth, unless special treatment is legally specified (e.g., the treatment of children).
Absolutely nobody is mounting the public soapbox and saying, "Yes, there may be an injustice here, but if there is one, it is best handled by the criminal justice system and not by irate, ill-informed demonstrators demanding that alleged culprits, including local law enforcement officials, be summarily punished without any legal safeguards."  To be blunt, the Trayvon Martin incident increasingly resembles something one might expect in lawless Pakistan or Somalia -- enraged rabble marching through the streets searching from some alleged perpetrator of some rumored crime so as to dispense on-the-spot justice.    
The most unfortunate aspect of this lapse is that prominent political figures who certainly must know better have embraced this mob mentality.  President Obama, a Harvard-trained lawyer and former lecturer on constitutional law at the University of Chicago, offers perhaps the most egregious example of this "who needs tedious legal proceedings to achieve justice now?" mentality.  He could have used his position to tell -- perhaps even lecture -- the American public that Martin's shooting had already been investigated by the police and that this process had numerous safeguards to insure that criminal acts were properly punished and that personal opinions about guilt or innocence should wait until all the relevant information is at hand.
Instead, as is well-known, he used his position to tell the American public that if he had a son, that son would be like Trayvon, as if this skin-deep resemblance exonerated Trayvon from any possible wrongdoing.  Moreover, though Trayvon was depicted as a model student, Mr. Martin was killed while on a five-day suspension from school, and he had been suspended before on charges that included drug use and possession of burglary tools and women's jewelry.  A little research would have shown him to be a troubled youngster -- not exactly an Obama Jr.  
Moreover, recalling the O.J. Simpson case, the president might have advised the distraught Martin family to file a wrongful death suit against Zimmerman (or the home owners' association) rather than challenge a verdict about which he knew little. 
The president also said that he welcomed a federal and state investigation into the shooting -- an odd call, since such shootings undoubtedly number in the tens of thousands every year, none of which receive federal scrutiny.  The underlying "logic" here seems to be that the legal relationship between  individual states and the federal government is not governed by the Constitution or laws made under the Constitution.  Instead, this complex relationship is to be decided by (a) the racial characteristics of the alleged perpetrator and victim and (b) the emotional rage among people who generally have zero knowledge of what actually occurred, let alone of the Florida laws that guided the police inquest.
Imagine Professor Obama teaching the above "principle" to his law school students at the University of Chicago.  Or, going one step farther and consistent with what President Obama has said, he would tell his students that if the first outcome does not placate those who disagree with it, instigate additional investigations until "justice is served."  (The U.S. Department of Justice and the state of Florida are now conducting new investigations, and the more investigations launched, obviously, the greater the likelihood of finding something.)
President Obama is hardly alone in his pandering to the "verdict first, trial afterwards" crowd.  Mitt Romney similarly called for a thorough investigation as if Florida in 2012 somehow resembled rural Mississippi of the 1930s, where black people could never receive fair treatment.  Was Mr. Romney aware of some specific defects in the way the case was handled?  Did locallaw enforcement hide evidence, intimidate eyewitnesses into silence, or otherwise improperly reach a conclusion of no crime committed?  If Mitt knows of such injustices, it is his legal obligation to come forward with them.
Romney's rival, Rick Santorum, goes even farther in subordinating the rule of law to pandering.  In his opinion, the police were wrong not to arrest the shooter, and law enforcement had made "horrible decisions" (his words) in handling the case.  While I cannot say so for sure, I strongly suspect that when Rick Santorum spoke these words, he could not pass the Florida bar exam (let alone correctly interpret its 2005 "Stand Your Ground" Law).  Nor did he have access to all the police records and legal precedents upon which all these "horrible decisions" were made.   
The outrage surrounding the Trayvon Martin case is unsurprising.  The likes of Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson can always be counted on to claim "genocide" or something equally preposterous whenever a black person is killed by a white, especially a white police officer.  What is remarkable is that those who surely must know better (and this certainly includes President Obama and other elected officials) go along with this stir-the-racial-passions opportunism.  It is almost as if they are ashamed of the American legal system when it reaches a decision that outrages many blacks.  They are basically agreeing with firebrands who insist that American is so deeply racist that blacks can never get a fair shake, so don't even bother with sham legal proceedings -- the fix is in, so let's start the angry demonstrations now!
There is an incredible irony here that deserves mention: the rule of law is the great protector of racial and ethnic minorities.  Undermining it to achieve a momentarily favorable judicial outcome is a horrific choice.  Imagine the fate of African-Americans and Hispanics if verdicts in racially charged cases (for example, a gruesome interracial murder or a gang rape) were put to a popular vote?  If one has any doubts about how such a system might work, just ask those NAACP lawyers who sought to advance black rights during the 1950s in the American South.  It was an open secret that fairness was next to impossible in state and local courts, especially in jury cases.  Civil rights lawyers knew that their only chance lay in getting their case into federal court, the Fifth Circuit, where largely Republican judges who enjoyed lifetime tenure could decide cases on their legal merits, not the whim of the locally elected district attorney afraid that locals voters would call him a n***er-lover. 
Let me suggest that the next time black leaders like Jesse Jackson demand that African-Americans enjoy some special right to override the legal process to achieve "racial justice," they should be forced to read about the "Scottsboro Boys."  Here nine young Alabama blacks were falsely accused of raping two white girls (a white witness later recanted his accusation).  Nevertheless, there were three trials (two of which had all-white juries, and one jury had a single black).  There were angry lynch mobs and calls for violence, and eight of the nine received a death sentence.  Eventually, after these trials, four of the original nine were found guilty and given sentences ranging from 75 years to death.  In retrospect, the entire process was clearly a miscarriage of justice, a textbook illustration of what can happen when the rule of law is subordinated to racial hate.  It has taken centuries for many Americans to reap the benefits of the rule law; let's not surrender it so quickly.

3)Decade of Diplomacy: Negotiations with Iran and North Korea and the Future 
of Nuclear Nonproliferation
Memorandum No. 115 March 2012
Emily B. Landau
Institute for National Security Studies
Executive Summary
The overall purpose of this study is to contribute to the understanding of
diplomatic strategies as a means for confronting determined nuclear
proliferators: what is desirable, what is realistically feasible, and what
strong states must pay attention to in order to increase their prospects for

The specific case studies examined here in a comparative framework are the
nuclear programs of Iran and North Korea. Diplomacy emerged as the strategy
of choice for dealing with these two prominent proliferators following the
military campaign launched in Iraq in 2003, especially when WMD were not
found. The analysis focuses on the diplomatic strategies and initiatives
that have been devised and implemented by strong international actors in
their attempts to curb the military intentions of both Iran and North Korea
over the past decade, beginning in 2002 – when both crises erupted almost
simultaneously – through the end of 2011.

The assessment of the diplomatic strategies that were tailored to each of
the two proliferation challenges includes a comparison of the proliferators’
motivation and the nuclear games they have played; the strategies and skills
of the strong powers that confronted them (their degree of commitment to
negotiations, their degree of influence over the proliferators, and the
goals they were seeking to advance); the degree of leverage that the
proliferators themselves have had over the strong powers in the negotiations
framework; and the impact of the specific regional realities in each case,
especially the respective threat perceptions as well as regional politics
and balances of power.

In the case of Iran, the analysis reveals how Iran managed to gain the upper
hand in the negotiations dynamic – steadily pursuing its program according
to the principle of progress at maximum speed, but at minimum cost to itself
in terms of harsh measures from the international community. While four
rounds of UN sanctions were put in place over the period under
review, they suffered significant delays and were all watered down in order
to accommodate the positions of all members of the Security Council. Iran
began the process of dealing with the international community in 2002 from a
relatively weak position, and gained strength as the process unfolded. The
analysis focuses on the conditions that enabled Iran’s success: the
inability of the international community to bring its tremendous collective
power into play in an effective manner to confront Iran, and the skillful
manner in which Iran played the nuclear game.

With regard to North Korea, further along the road to a nuclear weapons
capability than Iran, the pattern that emerged over the past decade is one
of North Korea creating crisis situations in order to gain the attention of
the US in particular, followed by attempts to pressure the other side into
concluding a deal on North Korean terms. North Korea sought these deals for
their economic benefits, with the nuclear program fulfilling the role of a
reliable milking cow. North Korea has gained a reputation for backtracking
and reneging on deals that commit it to a process leading to disablement of
its nuclear capability, and then coming back to the negotiations table; the
prospect that it will give up this ongoing source of revenue is low.
Although Pyongyang has set its sights on bilateral negotiations with the
US – “nuclear state to nuclear state” – the latter has insisted on a
regional framework in order to increase its leverage over North Korea.
Indeed, since 2003, the regional context became part and parcel of efforts
to curb its nuclear ambitions through the Six-Party Talks. However, regional
talks have proven less effective than the US had hoped – additional concerns
from neighboring states have overburdened the nuclear agenda, and the
dynamic inevitably returns to the bilateral sphere.

The comparison of these two cases reveals two determined proliferators that
have proven capable of keeping the international community at bay while
advancing their programs, resisting all attempts to convince or coerce them
to back down. The constraints on effective international action have played
out differently in each case, due to differences in the international
constellation of states as well as the behavior of each proliferator. The
regional frame that was chosen for North Korea – a weak state surrounded by
stronger neighbors – would be unthinkable as the context for dealing with
Iran, which is a strong power surrounded by weaker adjacent states.
The study concludes with some lessons for dealing with future cases of
nuclear proliferation. Among them: strong states are cautioned that when
carving out a negotiations strategy, they should avoid regarding the
diplomatic approach as “engagement” and “confidence-building,” or equating
it with a “soft” approach. When the challenge is tough – as it necessarily
is in the case of advanced and determined proliferators who have cheated on
their international commitments – negotiations will be an exercise in
hardball. A major structural imbalance in the negotiations setting that
works to the advantage of the proliferator must be overcome by the strong
states. This refers to the fact that the strong state negotiators are
dependent on a negotiated outcome to achieve their goal, whereas the
proliferators have no need for negotiations, and can proceed unilaterally to
their goal of nuclear weapons. Steps must be taken by the international
negotiators to make the proliferator more dependent on a negotiated outcome,
to ensure that it is negotiating for the purpose of actually reaching a
deal. This will most likely require strong pressure on the proliferator, and
the negotiators must recognize that such pressure – sanctions, threats of
military force, and similar measures – are not a separate track from
diplomacy, but rather have a crucial role to play in the overall
negotiations strategy. It must be recognized that time is on the side of the
proliferator. The longer it takes to get to serious negotiations, the more
progress will have been made that will then be difficult to reverse. Time
wasted by the international community cannot be regained, and what yesterday
was viewed as “inconceivable” is today the new starting place for talks.
The final section assesses more general implications for the future of
nonproliferation efforts, especially in light of the exposed weakness of the
NPT as a tool for stopping a determined proliferator. It assesses what has
emerged over the past two decades as the real choice for states that wish to
stop a determined proliferator that is cheating on its NPT commitment:
military force or diplomacy. It looks at some implications, including the
question of who decides which road to pursue.
Selecting a Strategy: Military Force or Negotiations?
If global disarmament trends and treaties such as the NPT are not the answer
to today’s nuclear proliferators, and if instead strong states step in to
confront each proliferator as it surfaces, then the relevant question is
what policy these states should adopt in each case. Which works better:
military force or negotiations?

In the aftermath of the war in Iraq military force appeared a bad choice,
but the primary reason that this war was viewed negatively is that WMD were
not eventually found. Had they been found and destroyed during the war, the
criticism would most likely have been much more muted. Indeed, the major
lasting lesson from the Iraq War is that intelligence assessments cannot be
trusted. This uncertainty has also been a constraint in dealing with Iran.
The unavoidable conclusion from observing close to a decade of diplomacy
and negotiations with both Iran and North Korea is that the alternative
policy of negotiations has not fared much better. In fact, negotiations have
utterly failed as a strategy for persuading these determined proliferators
to reverse course.

In looking back over the past decade, there were only two nonproliferation
success stories: the US/British deal with Libya from December 2003 that led
to rollback of all Libya’s WMD programs11 and the September 2007 military
attack on Syria’s nuclear facility. Negotiations most likely worked in the
Libyan case because, after years of sanctions, there were strong economic
considerations at work, and because Libya feared being next in line for US
military attack after Iraq...
4)Court Likely To Overturn ObamaCare After Hearings

Justice: After three days of listening to the government make its case for ObamaCare, one thing is clear: The individual mandate has no constitutional basis or justification, and the entire law should be struck down.

We almost felt sorry for Donald Verrilli, the solicitor general who had to defend the constitutionally indefensible. Over three days of intense interrogation by nine Supreme Court justices, Verrilli failed to muster a single coherent, reasonable argument in support of the ObamaCare law's constitutionality.

Instead, his shambling, unfocused talking points left the government case in disarray — underscoring what a poorly conceived, badly designed law this was in the first place, and why it must be overturned.

In Verrilli's defense, we don't think even Clarence Darrow could have defended a law that runs so afoul of the Constitution's clear limits on government power.

From the very start on Monday, things went badly for the defense. Justices actually laughed at Verrilli as he tried to argue that penalties imposed under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act weren't taxes — but rather something new called a "tax penalty."

If it's not a tax, it could be subject to the Anti-Injunction Act, which could delay or even invalidate parts of the health care law. If it is a tax, it blows away all pretense of ObamaCare preserving private insurance.

"General Verrilli, today you are arguing that the penalty is not a tax," joked Justice Samuel Alito. "Tomorrow you are going to be back, and you will be arguing that the penalty is a tax." Even liberal justices laughed.

Tuesday went no better. The government asserted the Constitution's Commerce Clause lets it regulate or control virtually anything, including health care — especially if it has a broad economic impact. Thus, a first-ever individual mandate to buy health care is acceptable.

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But sharp questioning by justices on both sides of the political spectrum splintered that argument. At one point, Chief Justice John Roberts wondered aloud, if the government can make you buy health care insurance, can't it also make you buy a cellphone?

By Wednesday, the government's case was in tatters. A Los Angeles Times headline said bluntly: "Justices Poised To Strike Down Entire Healthcare Law."

Indeed, the justices spent 91 minutes Wednesday considering what to do if the 2,700-page law was struck down in its entirety. Based on comments, at least five justices now appear to support doing that.

And they should. Contrary to White House assertions, our Constitution strictly limits government power over us. It's the great genius of our system.

But for over a century, American progressives such as President Obama have worked to undermine those constitutional limits — opting instead for a "living," ever-malleable Constitution that lets an omnipotent government define individual rights.

Overturning ObamaCare would be a big step toward reclaiming sovereignty over our own lives and restoring the rule of law in America.

4a)A supreme shock for ‘La-La’ libs
By John Podhoretz

The panicked reception in the mainstream media of the three-day Supreme Court health-care marathon is a delightful reminder of the nearly impenetrable parochialism of American liberals.

They’re so convinced of their own correctness — and so determined to believe conservatives are either a) corrupt, b) stupid or c) deluded — that they find themselves repeatedly astonished to discover conservatives are in fact capable of a) advancing and defending their own powerful arguments, b) effectively countering weak liberal arguments and c) exposing the soft underbelly of liberal self-satisfaction as they do so.

That’s what happened this week. There appears to be no question in the mind of anyone who read the transcripts or listened to the oral arguments that the conservative lawyers and justices made mincemeat out of the Obama administration’s advocates and the liberal members of the court.
This came as a startling shock to the liberals who write about the court.

Jeffrey Toobin of the New Yorker and CNN confidently asserted on Charlie Rose at the beginning of the week that the court would rule 7-2, maybe even 8-1 in favor of ObamaCare. The previous week, he called the anti-ObamaCare arguments “really weak.”

His view was echoed by an equally confident op-ed assertion by the veteran court reporter Linda Greenhouse, who in The New York Times declared the case against ObamaCare “analytically so weak that it dissolves on close inspection.”

It was quite a change, then, to see Toobin emerge almost hysterical from the Supreme Court chamber after two hours of argument on Tuesday and declare the proceedings “a train wreck for the Obama administration.”

Yesterday, after another two hours of argument, he suggested it might even be a “plane wreck.”
That was the general consensus across the board. It held that the two lawyers arguing against ObamaCare — Paul Clement and Michael Carvin — were dazzlingly effective, while the administration’s solicitor general, Donald Verrilli, put in a mediocre performance.
True enough. But here’s the thing: There was nothing new in what Clement and Carvin said.

Their arguments were featured in briefs already submitted to the court and available for general inspection. And they’d already been given weight by the two

judicial opinions against the constitutionality of ObamaCare issued by federal district court judges — one by Henry Hudson in Virginia in December 2010, the other by Roger Vinson in Florida in January 2011.

The briefs exist. The decisions exist. You can Google them. They are strong, fluent, well-reasoned and legitimate. They take ObamaCare seriously, and they argue against it at the highest possible level.

Thus, the strength of the conservative arguments only came as a surprise to Toobin, Greenhouse and others because they evidently spent two years putting their fingers in their ears and singing, “La la la, I’m not listening” whenever the conservative argument was being advanced.

This is not to say that the pro-ObamaCare side had no arguments. It had plenty of arguments, and by far the most important interlocutor on its behalf was Justice Sonia Sotomayor. Her perceptive and crystal-clear questioning of Clement and Carvin should put to rest forever the idea (spread both by liberals and conservatives) that she is intellectually unworthy to serve on the nation’s highest court.

The defense of ObamaCare’s constitutionality relies mainly on the truism that everyone is sure to get sick at some point in their lives, and this makes the health-care market unlike any other market. For the liberals, this fact — bolstered by the Constitution’s Commerce Clause — gives Congress the power to compel every adult in the nation to buy a private health-insurance policy.
The attack on ObamaCare was that Congress does not have the power under the Commerce Clause to force a private citizen into a private contractual relationship. If such a thing is permitted to stand, the anti-ObamaCare forces argue, there will be no limit to Congress’s power in the future.
There’s no telling which of 10 possible ways the high court will finally rule. But one thing is for certain: There will again come a time when liberals and conservatives disagree on a fundamental intellectual matter. Conservatives will take liberals and their arguments seriously and try to find the best way to argue the other side.

And the liberals will put their fingers in their ears and sing, “La la la.
5)Israelis Suspect Obama Media Leaks to Prevent Strike on Iran
By Alexander Marquardt 
JERUSALEM - Two reports today about Iran's nuclear program and the possibility of an Israeli military strike have analysts in Israel accusing the Obama administration leaking information to pressure Israel not to bomb Iran and for Iran to reach a compromise in upcoming nuclear talks.
The first report in Foreign Policy quotes anonymous American officials saying that Israel has been given access to airbases by Iran's northern neighbor Azerbaijan from which Israel could launch air strikes or at least drones and search and rescue aircraft.
The second report from Bloomberg, based on a leaked congressional report, said that Iran's nuclear facilities are so dispersed that it is "unclear what the ultimate effect of a strike would be…" A strike could delay Iran as little as six months, a former official told the researchers.
"It seems like a big campaign to prevent Israel from attacking," analyst Yoel Guzansky at the Institute for National Security Studies told ABC News. "I think the [Obama] administration is really worried Jerusalem will attack and attack soon. They're trying hard to prevent it in so many ways."
The Foreign Policy report by Mark Perry quotes an intelligence officer saying, "We're watching what Iran does closely…But we're now watching what Israel is doing in Azerbaijan. And we're not happy about it."
If true, the deal with Azerbaijan "totally changes the whole picture," says Guzansky, making it far easier for Israel to strike faster and harder, rather than having to fly 2,200 miles to Iran and back over Iraqi airspace.
Thursday's reports come a week after the results of a classified war game was leaked to the New York Times which predicted that an Israeli strike could lead to a wider regional war and result in hundreds of American deaths. In a column this afternoon titled "Obama Betraying Israel?" longtime defense commentator Ron Ben-Yishai at Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper angrily denounced the leaks as a "targeted assassination campaign."
"In recent weeks the administration shifted from persuasion efforts vis-à-vis decision-makers and Israel's public opinion to a practical, targeted assassination of potential Israeli operations in Iran," Ben-Yishai writes. "The campaign's aims are fully operational: To make it more difficult for Israeli decision-makers to order the IDF [Israeli Defense Forces] to carry out a strike, and what's even graver, to erode the IDF's capacity to launch such strike with minimal casualties."
Ben-Yishai says much of the information in the reports has either been published or is simply wrong, but in the case of the Bloomberg report on American knowledge of Iran's nuclear facilities, "instead of forcing the Iranians to piece together all the assessments themselves, the Congress report offers them everything in one place."
The reports pressure both Israel and Iran, fellow Yedioth columnist and military analyst Alex Fishman told ABC News, but he doesn't buy into the theory that Azerbaijan will be a base for potential Israeli operations.
"I don't believe that there's news behind this story because it doesn't make sense. It's very romantic, very John le Carre, but less practical," he says, explaining that the airstrips as they are now are far too basic for a "huge wing of airplanes."
The report's purpose is "to show the Iranians that something is going on, to make them much more suspicious, much more nervous. You need this pressure in order to put them in a lower position when negotiations start."
Iran has agreed to international nuclear talks next month, negotiations that the U.S. hopes will help avert a conflict but that Israel dismisses as a stalling tactic by Iran. Asked whether Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sees the reports as pressure from the Obama administration, an Israeli official indicated that they fall into the very category of "loose talk" of war that President Obama recently criticized.
"When we [Netanyahu's office] were in Washington [in early March], President Obama called publicly for people to tone down the rhetoric," said the official. "The prime minister has called on ministers not to talk. We agree with Obama that loose talk is not doing anyone any favors."