Romney's simple message should/could be: " I may not be everything you seek but Obama is someone we can no longer afford." (See 1 below.)
Chen chin up! (See 2, and 2a below.)
Bret throws well deserved cold water on the 2012 Graduating Class. (See 3 below.)
This article has been incorrectly attributed to Olive Schreiner, a South African novelist and social activist. It appears,however, this piece could not have been written by Olive Schreiner because she died in 1920:
Regardless of who wrote it I ask myself whether its message remains credible or have we drifted from so many of the ethical principles which our religion and culture professedly still guide us? Has our history of being the world's goat had something to do with it? Can we justify that as an excuse? (See 4 below.)
European crack up looming? (See 5 below.)
More on Netanyahu's decision. (See 5a below.)
Elliot Abrams on Obama's evolution. (See 6 below.)
1)Arthur Herman: The FDR Lesson Obama Should Follow
Roosevelt reluctantly unleashed industry to win World War II, thereby laying the groundwork for America's economic recovery.
If President Obama still wants to turn our economy around, it's time for him to act more like Franklin Roosevelt—but not in the way he might think. It takes a special kind of courage for a president to abandon a failed approach to economic policy and then embrace its opposite. Yet, faced in May 1940 with America's greatest foreign policy crisis since the nation's founding, that's exactly what Franklin D. Roosevelt did. FDR—architect of the New Deal and outspoken opponent of Big Business—was forced by the collapse of Europe's democracies under Hitler's blitzkrieg to turn to the corporate sector to prepare America for war.
Roosevelt had almost no choice. In 1940, the United States had the 18th-largest army in the world, right behind tiny Holland. While not so small, its Navy was totally unprepared to face a determined invader. Gen. George Marshall, Army chief of staff, warned Roosevelt that if Hitler landed five divisions on American soil, there was nothing he could do to stop them.
Neither the War nor Navy Departments had a clue how to mobilize a $100-billion civilian economy for war. Their joint "plan" ran to fewer than 20 typed pages. America's defense industry had been dismantled after World War I—"the war to end all wars."
So, reluctantly, on May 28, 1940, Roosevelt picked up the phone and called his archnemesis, General Motors President William Knudsen.
Knudsen was a Motor City legend. The Danish immigrant had worked his way up from the shop floor to become president of Chevrolet and then GM. He was a mass-production wizard.
He was also a Republican, and one who remembered Roosevelt's fierce denunciation of businessmen as "economic royalists who hide behind the flag and the Constitution." He also knew what historians have since learned: that FDR's vaunted New Deal, with its massive new government programs and antibusiness regulations, had done nothing to end the Great Depression. After six years of FDR, unemployment in 1939 still stood above 17%.
Yet Knudsen's answer to the appeal from FDR was immediate. He quit GM and moved to Washington to mobilize his friends in the private sector to get America ready for war. He joined with U.S. Steel's Edward Stettinius, Sears, Roebuck's Don Nelson and other corporate executives and engineers who left their jobs to accept a federal salary of $1 a year. Together, they made Roosevelt a promise.
If the president gave them 18 months, they would persuade enough of American industry to convert their plants to making planes, tanks, ships and munitions without throwing the rest of the economy into a tail spin. The result, they pledged, would be the most massive outpouring of weaponry the world had ever seen.
Roosevelt was under intense pressure from his own administration—and from his wife Eleanor—not to agree. They believed it was impossible to convert to a wartime footing without a comprehensive, centrally directed plan for total mobilization and a single commanding figure in charge—in short, a war-production czar. "Democracy must wage total war," his aide Harry Hopkins wrote in a secret memo. "It must exceed the Nazi in fury, ruthlessness, and efficiency."
Knudsen disagreed. "If we get into war," he told the administration, "the winning of it will be purely a question of material and production"—and the best way to do that was to harness the forces and energies of private industry.
His advice was to clear away antiquated antibusiness tax laws and regulations and give the military's orders for materiel to the most productive sectors of the economy—the automotive, steel, chemical and electronics industries. Federal dollars would follow the trail of productivity and innovation, not the other way around.
Knudsen also insisted on keeping the process voluntary and decentralized, so that companies would be free to decide on their own which war materiel they were best suited to bid on, and how to produce it. The point was to reduce Washington's interference in the production process to a minimum.
This proposal was in effect Roosevelt's first introduction to supply-side economics. To arm the nation for war, Roosevelt not only had to agree to set aside his own ideological misgivings but almost a decade of his own failed economic policies. "Dr. New Deal," Roosevelt told the press, was going to have to make way for "Dr. Win the War."
The results, as Knudsen had promised, were staggering. Barely a year later—by the time Japanese bombs fell on Pearl Harbor in December of 1941—the scale of American war production was fast approaching that of Nazi Germany.
America truly became the "arsenal of democracy" (the phrase Knudsen invented). By the end of 1942 we were producing more tanks, ships, planes and guns than the entire Axis; by the end of 1943 more than Germany, the Soviet Union and Britain combined. American companies and farmers were equipping and feeding our allies as well—in the Soviet Union's case, Americans were providing almost a fifth of gross national product. Ford Motor Co. alone produced more munitions during the war than fascist Italy's entire economy.
Contrary to myth, the war didn't end the Depression or make Americans prosperous. Even with rising wages, they had to put up with rationing and very limited choice in consumer goods. National wealth, in terms of assets as measured by the Commerce Department, had barely changed. But unleashed to help win the war, American business enterprise had been brought back to life, and in 1945 it was ready to convert from making machine guns to washing machines and tractors again.
Many feared that with the end of government wartime spending—almost $300 billion worth, or $3 trillion in today's dollars—unemployment would boomerang, wages (which wartime work had driven up by an average of 70%) would fall and hopes for prosperity would be extinguished. Instead, private investment came roaring back, triggering steady economic growth that pushed the U.S. into a new era, as the most prosperous society in history.
"You are the great American," Undersecretary of War Robert Patterson told Knudsen at the war's end. And certainly, Bill Knudsen deserves credit for turning American business loose to build the greatest military in the world. But it was Franklin Roosevelt who had the courage to make a call in May of 1940 that sharply changed the direction of his own administration—and with that the future of the country.
Mr. Herman is a visiting scholar at the American Enterprise Institute. His newest book, "Freedom's Forge: How American Business Produced Victory in World War II," was published this week by Random House.
2)Chen's Inconvenient Truth
There is never an opportune moment to deal with foreign dissidents.
Like most dissidents, Chen Guangcheng has a lousy sense of timing. Count it among his virtues.
When this blind human rights attorney found his way to the U.S. Embassy in Beijing late last month, he provoked an instant diplomatic incident. That's because his arrival came on the eve of a visit to China by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner. Now that Mr. Chen has left the embassy, he's made the situation messier still by asking the U.S. to take him and his family to America.
Mrs. Clinton, who deserves credit for having raised Mr. Chen's name when he was under house arrest, said what you would expect a U.S. secretary of state to say. At a news conference in Beijing on Friday, she declared that the U.S.-China dispute over Mr. Chen would not endanger the other "significant matters that we are working on together."
Mrs. Clinton is right that the other matters between China and the United States are significant. At times the human rights community can forget this. These matters include such items as China's valuation of the yuan, whether China will use its influence to help dissuade Iran and North Korea from their nuclear ambitions, and what role China might play in using its economic clout to ease tensions between Sudan and South Sudan.
That's where dissidents like Mr. Chen come in. They remind us of something we can forget in our enthusiasm to negotiate: We do well to be skeptical about how much trust to repose in agreements with a government that would beat up and detain a blind lawyer, clap a Nobel Peace Prize winner into prison, or tell Chinese families how many children they can have.
That wariness should only be reinforced by what we are finding out about today's Communist Party by way of the scandal surrounding Bo Xilai. Mr. Bo is the well-connected politician whose wife is accused of murdering a British businessman who threatened to expose her plans to move money overseas. The Bo case underscores the tremendous riches and privileges that the present system gives China's ruling elites, who can be ruthless in defending them.
During my time serving in the second term of the George W. Bush administration, I was given a small window into the difficulties created by the people in countries such as China who in fact share our values. When I proposed that Cardinal Joseph Zen of Hong Kong drop by the White House during a visit to Washington, much of the apparatus of state—well aware of how irritated China would be—were against it. My argument was this: We could not let China think it enjoyed a veto over whom the president of the United States meets.
President Bush decided to meet with Cardinal Zen. Somehow U.S.-China relations were not destroyed. To the contrary, I believe they were strengthened by the signal Mr. Bush sent: We want a good relationship, but not at the expense of our principles.
In this new century, Chinese leaders naturally—and understandably—want to be treated with a respect commensurate with the power their country's stunning economic performance has earned for them. The truth they need to hear is that they will never get the respect they crave until they normalize relations with their own people. What does it say about today's China that—as one of Mr. Chen's fellow dissidents told this newspaper—if you asked any Chinese for the safest place in Beijing, they'd all say the American Embassy?
Thus Chinese officials have real interests here as well, hard as it may be for them to admit. So long as they treat their noblest citizens as criminals, they make themselves hostage to embarrassment. Thus President Hu Jintao's official visit to the U.S. in 2006 was marred when a Falun Gong protester stood up on the White House lawn and shouted "Your time is running out!" Thus today we have a blind lawyer essentially dictating his demands to China with the whole world watching.
Surely the message here is that there is never an opportune moment for our government to deal with foreign dissidents. There's always some vital agreement, some worthy initiative, that militates for priority. The contribution of dissidents is precisely their inconvenience, the way they illuminate truths we might rather gloss over, the way they force us to hold fast to our ideals.
At this writing, it is unclear when Mr. Chen will leave China, though it does seem clear, as Vice President Joe Biden put it, that Mr. Chen's "future is in America." When the Chinese huff and puff their outrage, let's hope Mrs. Clinton reminds them that America didn't create this embarrassment. They did it themselves, when they persecuted Mr. Chen and the innocent people he defends.
2a)Henninger: The Great Human-Rights Reversal
The Democratic left has conceded human rights to the conservatives.
It's a question that keeps coming up: Is it just everyone's imagination or has the human-rights agenda been demoted by Barack Obama?
The unflattering word often associated with Mr. Obama and human rights is "ambivalence." When Iranian students took to the streets in 2009, enduring beatings from security men, the president's muted reaction was noted. So too with the Arab Spring and when Libyans revolted against Moammar Gadhafi. Yes, the administration responded in time but, again, with "ambivalence."
Now comes a human-rights advocate from central casting: the blind Chinese dissident Chen Guangcheng, who showed up unannounced on Uncle Sam's Beijing doorstep. The U.S. government appeared displeased with Mr. Chen's ill-timed decision to go over the wall.
Liberals and Democrats who work on human-rights issues won't like to hear this, but with the Obama presidency, human rights has completed its passage away from the political left, across the center and into its home mainly on the right—among neoconservatives and evangelical Christian activists.
Conservatives didn't capture the issue. The left gave it away.
The official formulation of the left's revision of human rights came two months into the Obama presidency, with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's widely noted comment in Beijing that the new administration would be going in a different direction: "Our pressing on those issues [human rights] can't interfere with the global economic crisis, the global climate change crisis and the security crisis."
Human-rights groups went ballistic, perhaps on hearing their cause would compete for the president's time with the "global climate change crisis." Whether Iran, Libya or China, human rights as understood for a generation was on the back burner, with the heat off.
Human rights became an explicit concern of U.S. presidents under Jimmy Carter. Mr. Carter in 1977 was not a man of the left. On foreign policy he was a starry-eyed liberal. He elevated the State Department's human-rights office to assistant-secretary status and gave the job to a fellow stargazer, Pat Derian.
Most of Mr. Carter's human-rights initiatives fell apart, but the idea didn't die. In varying degrees, his successors all made human rights part of their formal agenda. Worth noting here is that in the late 1990s, Christian evangelical groups (the "religious right") began a successful effort to create an office of religious freedom inside the State Department. Today these Christian groups are the primary human-rights workers on behalf of Chinese and North Korean dissidents and refugees.
The big disruption, the event that drove the Democratic left off the human-rights train, was George W. Bush's "freedom agenda."
More than any previous president, George Bush joined human-rights issues to the support of democracy, including in Iraq. With the Bush presidency, human rights and democracy-promotion were combined into a single issue. That in turn joined two groups working these veins for years—neoconservatives and religious human-rights groups. The left went into opposition.
The standard, almost official explanation for this administration's equivocations on human rights is that the current generation of Democratic foreign-policy intellectuals want the U.S. to pursue its goals inside the "pragmatic" framework of international institutions or alliances, rather than "going it alone." Progressive realpolitik.
Thus Barack Obama supported the Libyan rebels only after public opinion believed France, Britain and such were along for the ride. Under Mr. Obama, the U.S. joined the U.N. Human Rights Council.
There's more to the turn than this.
Barack Obama is not a traditional, internationalist Democrat in the mold of such party elders as John Kerry or Joe Biden. Mr. Obama is a man of the left. His interests are local. The Democratic left can only be understood on any subject if placed inside one, unchanging context: the level of public money available for their domestic policy goals.
It's never enough. And standing between them and Utopia is a five-sided monument to American power across the Potomac.
Whether a U.S. president is arguing on behalf of a single human-rights dissident (Chen Guangcheng), a whole nation's anti-authoritarian aspirations (Syria, Libya, Iraq) or against nuclear-weapons programs (Iran, North Korea), the possibility of exercising U.S. military assets sits inevitably in the background. Across the entire, 60-year postwar period, that reality and the spending necessary to maintain it has been the real source of the left's "ambivalence" toward the projection of American power into the world.
The intellectual arguments on behalf of subsuming U.S. interests inside international agencies and the like is mainly about diluting formerly bipartisan justifications for maintaining postwar spending levels on the American military.
The Obama White House put a bull's-eye on the defense budget from the start. This February, Mr. Obama proposed cutting $487 billion over 10 years, atop the threatened automatic sequester of $500 billion. That's their untapped pot of domestic gold.
Such a strategy implies a drawdown of U.S. capability to lead in the world. For the left and Barack Obama, the trade-off in terms of revenue feedbacks into domestic spending is worth it. As such, the human-rights problem of a Chen Guangcheng in faraway Shandong is a distracting footnote to the new Democratic generation's larger purposes.
Liberals discomfited by this will have to come to terms with the fact that it will take a different kind of Democratic presidency to alter their party's stated equivalence between human-rights aspirants and climate change.
3)Stephens: To the Class of 2012
Attention graduates: Tone down your egos, shape up your minds.
Dear Class of 2012:
Allow me to be the first one not to congratulate you. Through exertions that—let's be honest—were probably less than heroic, most of you have spent the last few years getting inflated grades in useless subjects in order to obtain a debased degree. Now you're entering a lousy economy, courtesy of the very president whom you, as freshmen, voted for with such enthusiasm. Please spare us the self-pity about how tough it is to look for a job while living with your parents. They're the ones who spent a fortune on your education only to get you back— return-to-sender, forwarding address unknown.
No doubt some of you have overcome real hardships or taken real degrees. A couple of years ago I hired a summer intern from West Point. She came to the office directly from weeks of field exercises in which she kept a bulletproof vest on at all times, even while sleeping. She writes brilliantly and is as self-effacing as she is accomplished. Now she's in Afghanistan fighting the Taliban.
If you're like that intern, please feel free to feel sorry for yourself. Just remember she doesn't.
Unfortunately, dear graduates, chances are you're nothing like her. And since you're no longer children, at least officially, it's time someone tells you the facts of life. The otherfacts.
Fact One is that, in our "knowledge-based" economy, knowledge counts. Yet here you are, probably the least knowledgeable graduating class in history.
A few months ago, I interviewed a young man with an astonishingly high GPA from an Ivy League university and aspirations to write about Middle East politics. We got on the subject of the Suez Crisis of 1956. He was vaguely familiar with it. But he didn't know who was president of the United States in 1956. And he didn't know who succeeded that president.
Pop quiz, Class of '12: Do you?
Many of you have been reared on the cliché that the purpose of education isn't to stuff your head with facts but to teach you how to think. Wrong. I routinely interview college students, mostly from top schools, and I notice that their brains are like old maps, with lots of blank spaces for the uncharted terrain. It's not that they lack for motivation or IQ. It's that they can't connect the dots when they don't know where the dots are in the first place.
Now to Fact Two: Your competition is global. Shape up. Don't end your days like a man I met a few weeks ago in Florida, complaining that Richard Nixon had caused his New York City business to fail by opening up China.
In places like Ireland, France, India and Spain, your most talented and ambitious peers are graduating into economies even more depressed than America's. Unlike you, they probably speak several languages. They may also have a degree in a hard science or engineering—skills that transfer easily to the more remunerative jobs in investment banks or global consultancies.
I know a lot of people like this from my neighborhood in New York City, and it's a good thing they're so well-mannered because otherwise they'd be eating our lunch. But if things continue as they are, they might soon be eating yours.
Which reminds me of Fact Three: Your prospective employers can smell BS from miles away. And most of you don't even know how badly you stink.
When did puffery become the American way? Probably around the time Norman Mailer came out with "Advertisements for Myself." But at least that was in the service of provoking an establishment that liked to cultivate an ideal of emotional restraint and public reserve.
To read through your CVs, dear graduates, is to be assaulted by endless Advertisements for Myself. Here you are, 21 or 22 years old, claiming to have accomplished feats in past summer internships or at your school newspaper that would be hard to credit in a biography of Walter Lippmann or Ernie Pyle.
If you're not too bright, you may think this kind of nonsense goes undetected; if you're a little brighter, you probably figure everyone does it so you must as well.
But the best of you don't do this kind of thing at all. You have an innate sense of modesty. You're confident that your résumé needs no embellishment. You understand that less is more.
In other words, you're probably capable of thinking for yourself. And here's Fact Four: There will always be a market for people who can do that.
In every generation there's a strong tendency for everyone to think like everyone else. But your generation has an especially bad case, because your mass conformism is masked by the appearance of mass nonconformism. It's a point I learned from my West Point intern, when I asked her what it was like to lead such a uniformed existence.
Her answer stayed with me: Wearing a uniform, she said, helped her figure out what it was that really distinguished her as an individual.
Now she's a second lieutenant, leading a life of meaning and honor, figuring out how to Think Different for the sake of a cause that counts. Not many of you will be able to follow in her precise footsteps, nor do you need to do so. But if you can just manage to tone down your egos, shape up your minds, and think unfashionable thoughts, you just might be able to do something worthy with your lives. And even get a job. Good luck
4)"Indeed it is difficult for all other nations of the world to live in the presence of the Jews. It is irritating and most uncomfortable. The Jews embarrass the world as they have done things which are beyond the imaginable. They have become moral strangers since the day their forefather, Abraham, introduced the world to high ethical standards and to the fear of Heaven. They brought the world the Ten Commandments, which many nations prefer to defy. They violated the rules of history by staying alive, totally at odds with common sense and historical evidence. They outlived all their former enemies, including vast empires such as the Romans and the Greeks. They angered the world with their return to their homeland after 2000 years of exile and after the murder of six million of their brothers and sisters.
They aggravated mankind by building, in the wink of an eye, a democratic State which others were not able to create in even hundreds of years. They built living monuments such as the duty to be holy and the privilege to serve one's fellow men.
They had their hands in every human progressive endeavor, whether in science, medicine, psychology or any other discipline, while totally out of proportion to their actual numbers They gave the world the Bible and even their "savior."
Jews taught the world not to accept the world as it is, but to transform it, yet only a few nations wanted to listen. Moreover, the Jews introduced the world to one God, yet only a minority wanted to draw the moral consequences. So the nations of the world realize that they would have been lost without the Jews... And while their subconscious tries to remind them of how much of Western civilization is framed in terms of concepts first articulated by the Jews, they do anything to suppress it.
They deny that Jews remind them of a higher purpose of life and the need to be honorable, and do anything to escape its consequences... It is simply too much to handle for them, too embarrassing to admit, and above all, too difficult to live by.
So the nations of the world decided once again to go out of 'their' way in order to find a stick to hit the Jews. The goal: to prove that Jews are as immoral and guilty of massacre and genocide as some of they themselves are.
All this in order to hide and justify their own failure to even protest when six million Jews were brought to the slaughterhouses of Auschwitz and Dachau; so as to wipe out the moral conscience of which the Jews remind them, and they found a stick.
Nothing could be more gratifying for them than to find the Jews in a struggle with another people (who are completely terrorized by their own leaders) against whom the Jews, against their best wishes, have to defend themselves in order to survive. With great satisfaction, the world allows and initiates the rewriting of history so as to fuel the rage of yet another people against the Jews. This in spite of the fact that the nations understand very well that peace between the parties could have come a long time ago, if only the Jews would have had a fair chance. Instead, they happily jumped on the wagon of hate so as to justify their jealousy of the Jews and their incompetence to deal with their own moral issues.
When Jews look at the bizarre play taking place in The Hague , they can only smile as this artificial game once more proves how the world paradoxically admits the Jews' uniqueness. It is in their need to undermine the Jews that they actually raise them.
The study of history of Europe during the past centuries teaches us one uniform lesson: That the nations which received and in any way dealt fairly and mercifully with the Jew have prospered; and that the nations that have tortured and oppressed them have written out their own curse."
5)Farewell to European superstate
By Frank J. Gaffney Jr.
In the space of two weeks, three European governments have fallen, sending shock waves across the Continent and calling into question the experiment that has consumed its elect for decades: the construction of a centralized, socialist superstate known as "Europe."
It may just be that the foundering of the coalition government in the Netherlands, the repudiation of Nicolas Sarkozy in France and the plunging fortunes of the two main Greek parties represent more than a rejection of austerity measures dictated by Brussels at the behest of the Germans.
To paraphrase Winston Churchill, these political developments probably are not going to end the creeping, sovereignty-crushing European venture or even mark the beginning of its demise. But they just may constitute the end of the beginning of the end of Europe as a single, transnational political enterprise.
To be sure, French voters elected Socialist Francois Hollande, who favors the European Union and reflexively supports the vision of its founders that has seen it evolve from a trade pact to a community to proto-political union. Still, his electorate, like the Greeks and Dutch, wants no part of the EU's main project at the moment - fiscal discipline and budgetary austerity.
The trouble is that such rebuffs threaten to topple various financial houses of cards constructed in recent months by Germany's Angela Merkel with help from her very-much-junior partner, France's Mr. Sarkozy. They have been aimed at giving the appearance of managing the yawning economic crises confronting EU members far beyond Greece, including Spain, Italy, Portugal, Ireland and, yes, France. But as publics across the Continent balk at taking the unpalatable medicine ordered up by Berlin and refuse to give up their unaffordable social services, short workweeks and long vacations, there seems little hope the patient will recover.
Unfortunately, several other worrying factors are adding to the economic turmoil afflicting Europe at the moment. These include the following:
- In many nations of the European Union, the chickens are coming home to roost as what has been in some nations a decades-long bid to offset declining birthrates among the native population by importing immigrant laborers transforms the host countries. Mr. Sarkozy's fate ultimately was sealed by the decision of supporters of Marine Le Pen's anti-immigration National Front party not to vote for him in the second round of the French presidential election. Similar sentiments saw Greece's fascist-sympathizing Golden Dawn party garner roughly 7 percent of the polling this weekend at the expense of mainstream parties.
- Closely tied to concerns about the numbers of immigrants in one European country after another is the sense that many of them are Muslims who seek to impose the Islamic supremacist doctrine known as Shariah where they reside. As authors including Bat Ye'or, Mark Steyn and Bruce Bawer have observed, the trends are in the direction of such populations exerting disproportionate political influence and establishing no-go zones and other privileged status. Such developments fuel a sense of inequity and outrage on the part of the natives.
- Rising hostility toward "the other" in some parts of Europe also is bringing to the fore once again widespread anti-Semitism. Jews are discouraged from wearing their religious garb in public as attacks on them and their synagogues have become increasingly frequent and violent. Many are fleeing their native lands, and those staying behind are becoming fearful - for good reason - to a degree they have not experienced since World War II.
For all these reasons, Europe may soon be in for another of the horrific cataclysms that have plagued it for nearly all of recorded history. In fact, we have become so accustomed to the tranquillity and prosperity the Continent has known for the past half-century that most of us forget that such conditions are very much the exception there rather than the rule.
It is unclear how a new round of disorder or even war might be precipitated in Europe. The mere threat of such a prospect may prompt - as it has in the past - a redoubled effort to shore up the European Unionand its faltering common currency, the euro. The forces being unleashed at the moment, however, may prove resistant to such exhortations to perpetuate what increasingly is perceived to be a punitive and anti-democratic enterprise.
Needless to say, if Europe once again descends into the vortex of economic privation, religious and/or ethnic "cleansing" and possibly strife that has happened so often there, our own tranquillity and prosperity will be jeopardized as well. We must, however, resist the temptation to try to prop up the European Union as the solution to such prospects and invest, instead, in efforts to work with national governments there to make them more responsible, accountable and disciplined - something the project known as "Europe" has not been to date and, as a practical matter, never can be.
At the very least, we cannot expect that what emerges from the wreckage of profligate spending and subordination of sovereignty that is Europe will provide the reliable partners and robust militaries that we are told will permit us safely to reduce our own capabilities and burden-share with our allies. If history is any guide, it is as likely that we will wind up fighting in Europe again - perhaps catalyzed by an ever-more-bellicose Russia once again formally led by Vladimir Putin - as that we will benefit from substantially greater help from that quarter.
5a)Netanyahu suddenly cancels new elections, forms unity government
By Edmund Sanders
In a surprise turnabout, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has decided to cancel the early elections he had called just 24 hours before and instead form a unity government with the opposition party Kadima, Israeli officials said Tuesday.
The decision shocked much of Israel's political establishment, which was gearing up to dissolve the parliament, or Knesset, and launch campaigns for a Sept. 4 vote.
By joining the government coalition, newly elected Kadima Chairman Shaul Mofaz avoids facing voters amid polls indicating that his centrist party would lose more than half its Knesset seats. Just a month ago, Mofaz declared he would not join the government and vowed to unseat Netanyahu.
In exchange, Mofaz has been promised a ministerial position in the government, officials said. His predecessor, Tzipi Livni, had rejected calls to join Netanyahu's government, saying it was not serious about reaching a peace deal with Palestinians.
For Netanyahu, the deal means he can retain his government, which many consider to be one of the nation's most stable, and reduce his dependence on smaller nationalist and religious parties, whose conservative agendas have dominated his coalition.
The primary loser will be the recently reformed Labor Party, which polls suggested was preparing to make a big comeback in the September vote to become the nation's second-largest party.
As they woke up Tuesday to the news, other political parties condemned the deal, calling it a cynical power grab that would backfire with Israeli voters.
Labor lawmaker Isaac Herzog called the new unity government an "alliance of cowards.... This is a golden opportunity for Labor to lead the people on a different course from that of Netanyahu and Mofaz, if not now, then in 2013," he wrote on his Facebook page, referring to next year's regularly scheduled vote.
There were questions about how long the unity government would last given the stark differences over certain issues, such as Palestinian peace talks. Mofaz is expected to push for a more aggressive effort to restart negotiations, which some right-wing members of Netanyahu's Likud are already warning could hurt West Bank settlement expansion.
One particularly divisive issue is a plan to begin drafting fervently-Orthodox young people into the army. Netanyahu and Mofaz both support the move, though the religious party Shas is staunchly opposed and had threatened to quit the coalition if the government adopted it. With the votes Kadima brings to the new coalition, such threats would not bring down the government as feared.
Hanan Crystal, a political commentator for Israel Radio, predicted Tuesday that the new unity government would allow Netanyahu to pursue a more centrist policy in dealing with Palestinians and other social issues in Israel. He called it the "move of a super-statesman."
6)The debate over same sex “marriage” has engaged the heartfelt feelings and convictions of millions of Americans. Then there is Barack Obama.
In his ABC interview, the president pretended that his much touted “evolution” had now led him, ineluctably, to speak out now, today; he simply could longer stay silent. ABC let him off the hook, but this is not a credible account. In March, the Washington Post was reporting the debate among his advisers on whether the issue would help or hurt the reelection campaign and what, therefore, Obama should say: “Obama’s top political advisers have held serious discussions with leading Democrats about the upsides and downsides of coming out for gay marriage before the fall election.”
The same advisers told the Post that Obama would make the decision based on his gut, but that is an insulting way to refer to the vice president. There is no evidence that Obama planned to speak until Joe Biden said last weekend that he was for gay “marriage” and force
In fact, Obama has not “evolved”—he has changed his position whenever his political fortunes required him to do so. Running for the Illinois state senate from a trendy area of Chicago in 1996, he was for gay marriage. “I favor legalizing same-sex marriages,” he wrote in answer to a questionnaire back then. In 2004, he was running for the U.S. Senate and needed to appeal to voters statewide. So he evolved, and favored civil unions but opposed homosexual “marriage.” In 2008, running for president, he said, “I believe marriage is between a man and a woman. I am not in favor of gay marriage.” Now in 2012, facing a tough reelection campaign where he needs energized supporters of gay “marriage” and has disappointed them with his refusal to give them his support, he is for it. To paraphrase John Kerry, he was for it before he was against it before he was for it again.
Mr. Obama’s statement today is a marvel:
“I have to tell you that over the course of several years as I talked to friends and family and neighbors, when I think about members of my own staff who are in incredibly committed monogamous relationships, same-sex relationships, who are raising kids together; when I think about those soldiers or airmen or marines or sailors who are out there fighting on my behalf and yet feel constrained, even now that ‘don't ask, don't tell’ is gone, because they are not able to commit themselves in a marriage, at a certain point I've just concluded that for me personally it is important for me to go ahead and affirm that I think same sex couples should be able to get married.”
The president, when he says, “at a certain point I’ve just concluded,” appears to refer to the point where Joe Biden smoked him out, unintentionally no doubt (as are most of Biden’s actions). And it is important “for me personally” to speak, the president says; this isn’t politics, you see, but some kind of testimony, a baring of the soul.
But Mr. Obama actually did bare his soul unintentionally today (perhaps the Biden disease is catching) with his astonishing characterization of American fighting men and women, whom he referred to as “those soldiers or airmen or marines or sailors who are out there fighting on my behalf.” Really?
Most Americans thought they were fighting for the country, not on Barack Obama’s behalf. Slip of the tongue, to be sure, but can one think of another president who’d have made it? They are fighting under his command, under his orders, to be sure, but this particular locution is offensive and solipsistic. Mr. Obama has switched his position on the sanctity of marriage back and forth and has a new one, again, today, revealed when politics made that advisable to him and to his campaign. Whether this is the end or he will “evolve” some more is anyone’s guess.
But let’s leave our soldiers out of this. They aren’t fighting for Mr. Obama and his campaign, and no one sent them out to risk their lives to win same sex “marriage.”