Friday, December 7, 2012

Ho,Ho,Ho, Bleach , No Peace and a "D!"

Yes, I know I am early but this will be a must attend dinner: 

John Fund is the SIRC President's Day speaker, Feb., 18, 2013

John Fund is currently a National Affairs Columnist for National Review magazine and a contributor to the  Fox News Channel. He is considered a notable expert on American politics and the nexus between politics and economics.

 John previously served as a columnist and editorial board member for The Wall Street Journal. He is the author of several books, including Stealing Elections: How Voter Fraud Threatens Our Democracy (Encounter Books, 2012) and The Dangers of Regulation Through Litigation (ATRA Press, 2008). 

He worked as a research analyst for the California Legislature in Sacramento before beginning his journalism career  as a reporter for the syndicated columnists Rowland Evans and Robert Novak. 

 Roll Call, the newspaper of Capitol Hill, called John  "the Tom Paine of the modern Congressional reform movement." 

He has won awards from the Institute for Justice, The School Choice Alliance and the Warren Brooks award for journalistic excellence from the American Legislative Exchange Council.

The Board of SIRC is delighted to bring someone of John's caliber to The Landings for what promises to be a stimulating evening.

Whoever said Cheney could not hit a target?  (See 1 below.)
Some solutions are good but will not pass muster. This is one of them.  (See 2 below.)

Russia and Syria.  (See 3 below.)
Forbes to Boehner - hang tough.

It is pretty self-evident Obama is using his election victory as a club to bludgeon weak knee Republicans into submission so he can have it all.

Once again, the president's puerile personality shows but what the hell it is only the economy at stake and he will do his best to lay it all on the Republicans..

Boehner has come forth with some compromises and they have been rejected by Obama's surrogate - Sec. of The Treasury.

Obama is playing a game of chicken believing he has the upper hand.  If it turns out to be an over the cliff event, eventually Obama will lose as the pain of what he will have allowed to happen escalates.

But again, what does Obama the magnificent care. After all look at his diplomatic victories in the Middle Est starting with the death of Osama and ending with the death of Osama. 

Then his domestic accomplishments began with 'Obamascare' and ended with a fiscal deficit that is awesome.  Once again a level of accomplishments unequaled by any president.  

So off to Hawaii it might be for a long needed rest and some more golf.  HO Ho Ho! (See 4, 4a and 4b below.)
Will Assad blanch after rebels capture his bleach?  (See 5 below.)
Peace for Israelis is not in the offing nor for Netanyahu. To think otherwise plays into the hands of those who wish to wipe them from the map.  

Hang tough Israel and don't make any more concessions.  In fact it is time to start withdrawing those already made. (See 6 below.)
The drumbeat for Hillary has begun. 

To my way of thinking it is understandable why there are those who believe Hillary is our best hope.

Hillary, if nominated and elected, will prove simply an extension of Obama in terms of more disasters.  She worked hard as a Senator, agreed.  However, as Secretary of State her tireless efforts still deserve her a "D" rating when it comes to accomplishments. (See 7 below.)
I would like to extend a Happy Channukah to all my friends and fellow memo readers as well as a Merry Christmas and the Happiest and best ever of New Years.


Cheney Takes Flamethrower To Obama

Former Vice President Dick Cheney was honored last night at the Hudson Institute’s 2012 Herman Khan Award Dinner at the Pierre Hotel in New York City.  Cheney was introduced by Lewis “Scooter” Libby, who spoke in detail about Cheney’s life and accomplishments, joking about how Cheney twice flunked out of Yale, and joking about Cheney’s hunting incident.  In his remarks Cheney was harshly critical of President Obama and the administration’s policy in the Mideast.  He said he’s very, very concerned about what he sees developing day by day.  He detailed the history of weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East, and what has been done to fight terror and said the Middle East is a very, very dangerous part of the world. 
He said that when he hears our president announce that we got Bin Laden and we can “pivot” to Asia he is on the one hand “appalled” and on the other hand fears for future developments.  Cheney said that that entire part of the world appears to be moving in a direction fundamentally hostile to U.S. interests, and that the U.S. is increasingly unable to influence events in that part of the world, seemingly because we’re “headed for the exit.”  He was critical of reductions in Afghanistan, and mentioned President Obama’s trip to Cairo where he “apologized” for the U.S. reaction after 9/11.  Cheney referenced the serious economic problems in the U.S but said he is concerned about the Middle East. 
He said our allies no longer trust us and our enemies no longer fear us.  He was highly critical of President Obama on Syria and basically said he has grave doubts the president will take any actions besides hope.  He continued to say the national security threat is as serious as the economic one, and said that enormous damage is being done to the U.S. military with cuts.  Toward the end of his remarks he said we can be absolutely certain that there are people out there planning to attack us, only with deadlier weapons than 19 hijackers and boxcutters.
Cheney:   It’s a very very dangerous part of the world.. and when I hear that our President uh got Bin Laden, problem solved. Uh that Al Queda is toast, that they are significantly diminished and that we can pivot now because the United States no longer has to be concerned about developments in that part of the world and focus our efforts on Asia, I am on the one-hand appalled.
Secondly, I fear for future developments if in fact they are going to continue to pursue the policy that this administration has pursued and live in accordance with affliction. We have got more territory now in that part of the world when you start to add up all the areas that have come or are coming under the influence of the Muslim brotherhood and the radical Islamists. There is a lot more land and territory there for safe harbors and sanctuaries for terrorists than we ever faced back in the time of 9/11. That entire part of the world appears to be or a good part of it certainly to be moving in the direction that is fundamentally hostile to the long term US interest and yet we are, seem to be unable to influence events in that part of the world partly because we are headed for the exits and everybody knows we are headed for the exits.
We pulled out of Iraq, we didn’t even bother to negotiate the (inaudible) agreement that was traditional in those kind of relationships. We are well on our way out of Afghanistan and um we uh have had a president whose been to Cairo, one of the first things he did to apologize for the US reaction to 9/11 allege that we quote “overreacted and fallen away from our basic traditional values” who was going to deal with the Iranian nuclear treat which I have not mentioned until now, everything I talked about before didn’t mention the Iranian problem. But, he was going to deal with the Iranian problem by basically resetting the relationship, sit down and talk to them, they’ll understand and no longer be a threat to the United States which was also seriously misguided. Part of my frustration with the recent election, and I didn’t come to make a political speech tonight, uh we’ve got very very serious economic problems, I could talk about that for hours and without question, that is a focal point that needs to be and it is absolutely crucial we deal with that appropriately. As we look forward and I’ve considered all that has happened, in the international arena, in the Middle East in particular. Places like the Arabian peninsula and Yemen and Egypt and Libya and now ongoing with the respect to Syria and the prospect that we will see a continued spread of um basic fundamental radical Islamists ideology that fundamentally hates the United States and much of what we stand for.
There has been a source of significant grief certainly for this city and for all Americans on 9/11. Faced with a very real prospect that an area of the world that has spawned terrorists by the thousands some who’ve come to the United States and killed Americans, um is back in business and the United Stated which once used to dominate that part of the world not long ago who had valued allies and basis throughout the area that had been looked to for leadership for example at the times when Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait and we were able to muster some 36 or 37 nations to gather with us to liberate Kuwait and send Saddam back into Iraq when we got the rest of the world to pay 50 out of the 55 billion dollar cost of the exercise. That day is gone and uh as our friends and we still have some in the part of the world, not only in Israel, which obviously is at the top of the list, but also Saudies, UAE, and many of the other gulf states.
I think certainly in my conversations with many of those people, they no longer believe us, they no longer trust us, they no longer believe they can count of the United States of America to do what we did 20 years ago when we came in and uh set back um Saddam Hussein’s operations and what we’ve done since in Iraq and Afghanistan and in terms of trying to promote democracy, getting rid of regimens that clearly were not supported by their population and um now see us as I said bailing out and heading for the exits. Our allies no longer trust us, or have confidence in us and our adversaries no longer fear us.  When the President can make bold statements and bold talk as he did in the past couple of days about developments in Syria, but I don’t think they care. Unless something fundamentally different happens, I have grave doubts that he is prepared to do anything (inaudible) with Syria, except hope that he can get away with as he has up until now saying well I got Bin Laden, problem solved. It’s far from solved if anything the national security threat we face is as serious as is the economic one.
When you add to that the enormous damage that is and is about to be done to the United States military with a trillion dollar cut when you add up what’s already on the budget as well as take out another 500 billion we are doing long term damage to our military capabilities. One of the first things I did after Desert Storm was call Ronald Reagan in Los Angeles… This was right after we finished the operation. I called him and I said “Mr. President, I want to thank-you for all those $600 toilet seats you bought back in the eighties.” (laughter) He didn’t see the humor in it immediately, but the point was what we had to use in the nineties, was what he purchased and the troops that had been trained and recruited and the officers that had been educated and the equipment that had been built back in the early nineties.
So what we are doing today, by way of damaging the US military is going to be a fact of life that future presidents are going to have to deal with. Barack Obama isn’t just dealing with his budget problems; he in fact is restricting the future capabilities of the next president two or three times down the road in terms of our capacity to be able to deal with fundamental threats to the United States and they are out there and we can be absolutely certain that there are people out there tonight planning to do what happened on 9/11 only with deadlier weapons than 19 hijackers armed with airline tickets and box cutters. 
Here's the way it should be:

Let's put the seniors in jail and all the criminals in nursing homes.

This would correct two things in one motion:

Seniors would have access to showers, hobbies and walks.
They would receive unlimited free prescriptions, dental and medical treatment, wheel chairs, etc.

They would receive money instead of having to pay it out.
They would have constant video monitoring, so they would be helped instantly, if they fell or needed assistance.

Bedding would be washed twice a week and all clothing would be ironed and returned to them.

A guard would check on them every 20 minutes. All meals and snacks would be brought to them.

They would have family visits in a suite built for that purpose.
They would have access to a library, weight/fitness room, spiritual counseling, a pool and education -

And free admission to in-house concerts by nationally recognized entertainment artists.

Simple clothing (shoes, slippers, pj's) and legal aid would be free, upon request.

There would be private, secure rooms provided for all with an outdoor exercise yard, complete with gardens.

Each senior would have a PC, TV, phone and radio in their room at no cost. They would receive daily phone calls.

There would be a board of directors to hear any complaints and the ACLU would fight for their rights and protection.

The guards would have a code of conduct to be strictly adhered to, with attorneys available, at no charge to protect

The seniors and their families from abuse or neglect.

As for the criminals:
They would receive cold food.
They would be left alone and unsupervised.
They would receive showers once a week.
They would live in tiny rooms, for which they would have to pay $5,000 per month, and they would have no hope of ever getting out.

Iskanders carry 1,500-pound warhead at 1.3 miles per second


Hours after NATO agreed on Tuesday to send Patriot missiles to Turkey because of the crisis in Syria, Russia delivered its first shipment of Iskander missiles to Syria.
The superior Iskander can travel at hypersonic speed of over 1.3 miles per second (Mach 6-7) and has a range of over 280 miles with pinpoint accuracy of destroying targets with its 1,500-pound warhead, a nightmare for any missile defense system

Read more at 

According to Mashregh, the Iranian Revolutionary Guard media outlet, Russia had warned Turkey not to escalate the situation, but with Turkey’s request for Patriot missiles, it delivered its first shipment of Iskanders to Syria.
Reporting today, Mashregh said the handover occurred when Russian naval logistic vessels docked at Tartus in Syria.
The Iskandar is a surface-to-surface missile that no missile defense system can trace or destroy, Mashregh said. Russia had earlier threatened that should America put its missile defense system in Poland, it would retaliate by placing its Iskander missiles at Kaliningrad, its Baltic Sea port.
Russia’s delivery of Iskanders to Bashar Assad’s embattled regime clearly shows that the security and stability of Syria remains Russia’s red line, Mashregh said. It is unknown how many of these missiles have been delivered but the numbers given are sufficient to destroy any Patriot missiles in Turkey, it said.
The delivery of the missile not only threatens the security of Turkey but also Israel, which would have to recalculate its strategy with its defensive and offensive capabilities.
As reported in a WND exclusive on Dec. 5, Iran’s Islamic regime also sees the toppling of the Assad regime as its red line and has 170 ballistic missiles targeting Tel Aviv in underground missile silos, some with biological warheads.
In August, a commentary in Mashregh, representing the regime’s views, warned America and Israel that further instability in Syria would spark a pre-emptive attack on Israel in which the use of weapons of mass destruction – biological, chemical and even nuclear bombs – won’t be off the table. It stated that certain groups (proxies, such as Hezbollah) have been armed with WMDs and that Israel will be their target.
The Mashregh commentary charged that Israel is one of the conspirators behind the Syrian crisis in order to strategically change the geopolitics of the region and defeat one of the main players in the Islamic world’s “resistance front” (Iran, Syria and Hezbollah). It warned Israel that with the direction it has chosen, “There is a dead end, and the threat of mass killing awaits.”
The Islamic regime in Iran for its part continues to ship arms to Syria via Iraq both by air and ground while its Quds Forces help the Assad regime in killing its own people. To date, over 40,000 people, including many women and children, have died since the Syrian uprising began in March of 2011.
Reports indicate that Assad has decided to use chemical weapons on his own people as a last attempt to save his rule. Speaking in Prague on Monday, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton warned Syria that the use of chemical weapons would be a red line, indicating that America would retaliate.
Meanwhile, Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has ordered the Guards and its Quds Forces to use all of their capabilities to protect Assad and has threatened war against those helping the rebels in Syria, primarily Saudi Arabia and Turkey, according to a source who had served in the Revolutionary Guards intelligence unit but who has since defected.
The source added that the recent Gaza conflict was a warning to America and Israel that the Islamic regime in Iran can destabilize the region further should the push in Syria continue to topple Assad. The region will witness terrorist attacks, assassinations and incitement for uprisings in countries allied with America as the situation in Syria further deteriorates, the regime has promised, according to the source.
Reza Kahlili is a pseudonym for a former CIA operative in Iran’s Revolutionary Guards and author of the award winning book “A Time to Betray” (Simon & Schuster, 2010). He serves on the Task Force on National and Homeland Security and the advisory board of the Foundation for Democracy in Iran (FDI).


Steve Forbes Urges Boehner: No Tax Increases, Just Fight for Renewal

By Bill Hoffman

John Boehner is making a big mistake by calling for tax increases by closing deductions and he shouldn't be trying to make majore reforms in the short time left before the fiscal cliff is upon us, Steve Forbes has told the House Speaker.

Instead Forbes, the influential CEO of Forbes Inc. and editor-in-chief of Forbes magazine, has formulated a plan spelling out what Republican lawmakers must do now to stop the country from falling off the fiscal cliff.

"Mr. Speaker, we are losing the cliff war in terms of public opinion, but the tables can be turned,’’ Forbes writes in an open letter, posted on just hours after Boehner emerged from negotiations with Democrats to say that “no progress" had been made.

"A few days ago you offered tax increases via eliminating or capping deductions. Your generous gesture won no goodwill from Democrats and the mainstream media. Moreover any tax increase now only damages the economy. Concerning deductions, why give stuff away now for no real tax reform or simplification?"

First, Forbes says, the House must pass a bill extending for a year or at least six months "all the cliff items — current income tax rates; the Alternative Minimum Tax patch; yes, even those Social Security payroll tax cuts. The whole kit-and-caboodle. The same with sequestration."

He said Republicans must make the point that the U.S. economy is headed for recession.

"One ill omen is that business investment is faltering. Any tax boost will be particularly perverse. Destroying capital and hurting small businesses will only contract the economy even more," he says.

The United States should not "follow the bad examples of Western Europe and Japan. These countries are all raising taxes and the results are frightening. Japan’s economy is declining. Southern Europe is in a severe recession. France and Germany are about to go into recession. Britain just reported disappointing economic news and experts believe its economy will go into negative territory."

Forbes calls efforts to try to reform the tax code and entitlements little more than two weeks before Christmas "ridiculous." And he says he is concerned about "the rich" label Democrats have slapped on the wealthy.

"The polls show that if the question is rephrased as to whether the economy would be helped if upper-income couples had their tax bills increased substantially, most Americans are opposed to the hikes," he says. "We should learn how to phrase these issues instead of employing the Democrat’s vocabulary."

Next, Forbes continues, Republicans should "turn the tables on the White House debt ceiling proposal by passing a bill mandating that Social Security trust fund assets — now held in useless, non-negotiable IOUs from the Treasury — be converted to marketable Treasury bonds which should have been done decades ago."

That way, he says, if there is a debt ceiling impasse early next year Social Security and Medicare payments won’t be jeopardized.

"The trust funds could just sell on the open market bonds to raise the cash to make payments. Those trust funds are supposed to have more than $2 trillion in reserves. Instead, they are loaded with phony, illiquid assets."

The House should also pass a bill mandating that no money can be diverted from Medicare to pay for ObamaCare, according to Forbes.

"Senate Republicans can have fun with this when Harry Reid blocks a vote," he says.

A resolution must also be passed that the House of Representatives "will not accept any entitlement reform that reduces benefits for those who are on Medicare and Social Security or who are about to go into those programs," Forbes, who ran for teh Republican nomination for the White House in 1996 and again in 2000, says.

And finally, Forbes recommends the passage of a bill "suspending all of those ObamaCare levies that hit next year. Again, we don’t need to burden an already wobbly economy."

Forbes tells Boehner: "Let’s stop negotiating with ourselves. Let’s take charge of the terms of debate.

"By drawing a line on tax increases you will help the economy and you will begin the process of turning around public opinion; that won’t happen overnight but these bills would be an exciting start. Go on an optimistic offensive!"

Spending, Not Lack Of Revenue, Is The Real Problem

Read More At IBD:

We are still borrowing more than $1 trillion a year. Barack Obama has added more than $5 trillion to the national debt in just his first term alone. Such massive borrowing is unsustainable. Someone somehow at some time has to pay it back.

Obama would agree. He once alleged that George W. Bush's much smaller deficits were "irresponsible" and "unpatriotic." Obama himself vowed to cut the budget deficit in half by the end his first term. Instead, his annual deficits have never gone below $1 trillion.

Three ways to establish a long-term trajectory toward a balanced budget were under discussion. One was to adopt the proposals of the nonpartisan Simpson-Bowles Commission appointed by Obama.

The commission offered a balanced mix of tax reform and greater revenues, along with cuts in federal spending. But the president was not interested. The commission's findings now seem stale just two years after they were issued.

Another way would have been to adopt the Bill Clinton-Newt Gingrich compromise formula of the 1990s that balanced the budget through a series of across-the-board tax hikes and spending cuts.

But while the administration talked grandly of a return to higher "Clinton-era tax rates," it never mentioned the necessary second half of the old equation — "Clinton-era spending cuts." That balanced solution is dead, too.

Will Fall Short

Finally, we might have just enacted the income-tax rates of the Clinton era now and work on the spending cuts later. But the administration did not wish to take that third approach either. Instead, it prefers returning to Clinton-era rates only for those who make more than $250,000 a year, while leaving the lower Bush-era income-tax rates — once soundly ridiculed — on all other Americans.

The problem is that such a soak-the-rich move would only give the treasury about $80 billion a year in new revenue — about 7% to 8% of the money needed to make up for the massive annual borrowing.

Even with proposed accompanying tax hikes on capital gains and larger estates, we still would fall hundreds of billions of dollars short. There simply are not enough affluent sheep who make more than $250,000 to shear.

Spending is the real problem but goes largely unaddressed. Obama's first-term borrowing of $5 trillion was, in part, designed to stimulate the dormant economy while expanding entitlements to those suffering from the recession.

But despite the addition of millions of Americans to those who already were receiving unemployment insurance, disability insurance or food stamps, and despite massive loans to green industries, the unemployment rate and GDP growth are about where they were four years and $5 trillion ago.

Now the president wants another $50 billion in new borrowing. But why would borrowing another $50 billion jump-start the sluggish economy when 100 times that figure in deficit spending so far has not?

"Pay your fair share" was a winning Obama campaign theme — given that nearly half of all Americans do not pay any federal income tax and receive some sort of federal or state entitlement. Yet if the targeted 5% of taxpayers already pay almost 60% of all federal income tax revenues, what would the president consider their proper "fair share" — 70%, 80%, 90% or 100%?
Making Too Much Money

We are now entering a rare, revolutionary period in American history. The present administration is not just re-examining the traditional physics of taxing and spending, but the very basis by which Americans are compensated in the workplace.
For Obama, it is inherently unfair that a few — a surgeon, a small-businesswoman, an investor or a lotto winner — should make so much. Thus it is the government's obligation, along with state and local governments, to take much of it away from the suspect few and redistribute it to far more deserving others.

All the old criteria that decide in a free-market economy how much we are able to make — education levels, hard work, personal responsibility, particular tastes and values, skill sets, self-discipline, or even sheer luck, accidents, relative health or inheritance — now matter far less.

Instead, Obama's all-knowing, all-powerful federal government, through higher taxes, more spending and greater deficits, will set right what the unfair marketplace has so skewed.

At last, we learn what Obama really meant when, in unguarded moments, he sermonized about "redistributive change," the need to "spread the wealth," knowing the proper time not to profit, and at some point making too much money.

Do we need any longer to heed the ancient advice — scrimp to leave something behind for your kids; try to get a promotion; make sure your savings account is larger than what you owe — if some inequality results?

There is now only one commandment in the new Kingdom of Fairness: Make less than $250,000, and the government will ensure that you, the deserving, get your fair share. Make more than that, and the government will demand that you, the undeserving, will pay your fair share. That is all ye need to know


It’s nothing but a power play

Let’s understand President Obama’s strategy in the “fiscal cliff” negotiations. It has nothing to do with economics or real fiscal reform. This is entirely about politics. It’s Phase 2 of the 2012 campaign. The election returned him to office. The fiscal cliff negotiations are designed to break the Republican opposition and grant him political supremacy, something he thinks he earned with his landslide 2.8-point victory margin on Election Day.
This is why he sent Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner to the Republicans to convey not a negotiating offer but a demand for unconditional surrender. House Speaker John Boehner had made a peace offering of $800 billion in new revenue. Geithner pocketed Boehner’s $800 billion, doubled it to $1.6 trillion, offered risible cuts that in 2013 would actually be exceeded by new stimulus spending and then demanded that Congress turn over to the president all power over the debt ceiling.
Boehner was stunned. Mitch McConnell laughed out loud. In nobler days, they’d have offered Geithner a pistol and an early-morning appointment at Weehawken. Alas, Boehner gave again, coming back a weeklater with spending-cut suggestions — as demanded by Geithner — only to have them dismissed with a wave of the hand.

What’s going on here? Having taken Boehner’s sword, and then his shirt, Obama sent Geithner to demand Boehner’s trousers. Perhaps this is what Obama means by a balanced approach.
He pretends that Boehner’s offer to raise revenue by eliminating deductions rather than by raising rates is fiscally impossible.
But on July 22, 2011, Obama had said that “$1.2 trillion in additional revenues . . .could be accomplished without hiking tax rates, but could simply be accomplished by eliminating loopholes, eliminating some deductions and engaging in a tax reform process.” Which is exactly what the Republicans are offering today.
You’ve heard of situational ethics. This is situational mathematics.
As for the alleged curative effect on debt of Obama’s tax-rate demand — the full rate hike on the “rich” would have reduced the 2012 deficit from $1.10 trillion to $1.02 trillion.
That’s a joke, a rounding error.
Such nonsense abounds because Obama’s objective in these negotiations is not economic but political: not to solve the debt crisis but to fracture the Republican majority in the House. Get Boehner to cave, pass the tax hike with Democratic votes provided by Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and let the Republican civil war begin.
It doesn’t even matter whether Boehner gets deposed as speaker. Either way, the Republican House would be neutered, giving Obama a free hand to dominate Washington and fashion the entitlement state of his liking.
This is partisan zero-sum politics. Nothing more. Obama has never shown interest in genuine debt reduction. He does nothing for two years, then spends the next two ignoringhis own debt-reduction commission. In less than four years, he has increased U.S. public debt by a staggering 83 percent. As a percentage of gross domestic product, the real marker of national solvency, it has spiked from 45 percent to 70 percent.
Obama has never once publicly suggested a structural cut in entitlements. On the contrary, he created an entirely new entitlement — Obamacare — that, according to the Congressional Budget Office, will increase spending by $1.7 trillion over 11 years.
What’s he thinking? Doesn’t Obama see looming ahead the real economic cliff — a European-like collapse under the burden of unsustainable debt? Perhaps, but he wants to complete his avowedly transformational social-democratic agenda first and let his successors — likely Republican — act as tax collectors on the middle class (where the real money is) and takers of subsidies from the mouths of babes.
Or possibly Obama will get fiscal religion and undertake tax and entitlement reform in his second term — but only after having destroyed the Republican opposition so that he can carry out the reformation on his own ideological terms.
What should Republicans do? Stop giving stuff away. If Obama remains intransigent, let him be the one to take us over the cliff. And then let the new House, which is sworn in weeks before the president, immediately introduce and pass a full across-the-board restoration of the George W. Bush tax cuts.
Obama will counter with the usual all-but-the-rich tax cut — as the markets gyrate and the economy begins to wobble under his feet.
Result? We’re back to square one, but with a more level playing field. The risk to Obama will be rising and the debt ceiling will be looming. Most important of all, however, Republicans will still be in possession of their unity, their self-respect — and their trousers.

Assad’s last warning to rebels before using chemical weapons. West, Israel on high preparedness

The danger that Syrian ruler Bashar Assad will now resort to chemical warfare shot up Saturday afternoon, Dec. 8, after the rebels captured the “chloride factory” at Al Safira east of Aleppo. This is a code name for the Syrian army’s biggest chemical weapons store and base, which also houses Syrian Scud D missiles armed with chemical warheads adjusted to fire at Israel. Assad’s warning to the rebels not to fight with chemical weapons is taken as a means of justifying his own resort to chemical weapons and brought this threat closer than ever before. The West, Israel and Syria’s other neighbors have gone on elevated preparedness. The fall of Al Safira into rebel hands crosses a red line and places the Assad regime in direct peril. Possession of the chemical-tipped Scuds gives the rebels their strongest weapon for forcing the Syria army to capitulate.

British Foreign Secretary William Hague said earlier Saturday that the UK and the US have seen evidence that Syria is preparing to use chemical weapons. There was enough evidence from intelligence sources to know “that they need a warning,” he said at a security conference in Bahrain. "The President of the United Sates warned of serious consequences and he meant it,” said the British minister.

British intelligence sources told the BBC that Syria's chemical weapons are concentrated at five air bases and are being closely watched. They said contingency plans have been drawn up if they show signs of being readied to be loaded and used as weapons.

Mashall: Today Gaza: Tomorrow Ramallah. After that Jerusalem then Haifa and Jaffa
A reminder to the Israeli analysts who have
suggested that Israel start working with "moderate" Mashall:

GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Hamas chief Khalid Mashaal made his first visit to the
Gaza Strip on Friday, telling crowds he hoped his next visit would be to
Jerusalem, Ramallah and a liberated Palestine.

After passing through the Egyptian border crossing, Mashaal knelt on the
ground to offer a prayer of thanks and was then greeted by dozens of
officials from an array of competing factions lined up to meet him in warm
December sun.

Mashaal praised the people of Gaza and the political factions in his first
ever speech on Palestinian soil. "We politicians are in debt to the people
of Gaza," he said.

The leader was briefly tearful as he was welcomed by Gaza's Prime Minister
Ismail Haniyeh.

Mashaal said his visit to Gaza was his "third birth" referring to an
assassination attempt by Israeli Mossad agents in 1997 as his previous

"I pray to God that my fourth birth will come the day we liberate
Palestine," he said, clearly moved by his reception, with uniformed police
breaking ranks to try and kiss his hand.

"Today is Gaza. Tomorrow will be Ramallah and after that Jerusalem then
Haifa and Jaffa," he said.

Haniyeh welcomed Mashaal's arrival as a historic moment in Palestinian

Hamas denied seeking guarantees via Egyptian contacts with Israel that
Mashaal would not be targeted for assassination in Gaza. There was massive
security for his arrival, with gun-toting, black-masked guards from the
Hamas military wing patrolling the streets in open-topped trucks and

Mashaal, 56, had been widely understood not to have set foot in Palestine
since he left his native West Bank with his family aged 11. However in his
speech he indicated he had returned for a visit as a teenager in 1975.
The Hamas chief will visit the home of the late founder and spiritual leader
of the party, Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, who was assassinated by Israel in 2004,
and the homes of Hamas military commander Ahmad al-Jaabari and his bodyguard
Mohammad al-Hams, who Israel assassinated on Nov. 14 at the start of its
eight day war on Gaza.

The Hamas chief will also visit the al-Dalou family home. Israel killed 10
members of the family, including four children and five women, as well as
two of their neighbors, in an airstrike on Nov. 18.

"All Palestinians will eventually return to their homeland. Khaled Mashaal
is returning after a victory," said veteran Hamas strategist Mahmoud

Mashaal will stay for a little more than 48 hours in the coastal enclave,
which Hamas has ruled since a 2007 war with Fatah that rules the West Bank.
Hamas politburo members Mousa Abu Marzouq, Izzat al-Rishq, and Saleh
al-Arouri accompanied him.

Hamas plans an open-air rally on Saturday to promote what it says was last
month's victory against Israel, and at the same time commemorate the 25th
anniversary of the group's founding.

Saturday's rally is not being held on the exact date of Hamas's founding,
but on the 25th anniversary of the start of the first Palestinian uprising,
or intifada, against Israel.

That is being seen as an overture to other factions and a hint of a new
willingness to seek reconciliation with Western-backed President Mahmoud
Abbas, who last week won de-facto statehood recognition from the UN General

Gaza City has been festooned with green Hamas flags and a stage set up,
complete with a huge model of the makeshift M75 rocket, fired at both Tel
Aviv and Jerusalem last month.

Israeli media have barely mentioned Mashaal's return. Israeli officials say
the week of round-the-clock bombing raids in November had not only killed
al-Jaabari, but also severely depleted Hamas's weapons stockpile.

"They can dance in the streets as much as they like, but their leaders know
what damage was inflicted," said a senior Israeli official in Jerusalem, who
declined to be named.

However, the conflict clearly boosted Hamas's political standing in the
region, winning it the support of Sunni regional powers, such as Qatar,
Turkey and Egypt, who dispatched senior delegations to Gaza in a rare and
public display of solidarity.

7).Why Hillary Clinton Must Run for President in 2016

Is it too early to talk about 2016? Of course it is. It’s preposterous. So I’m not talking about 2016. Instead, I’m talking about something much bigger: I’m talking, let us say, about the great march of history, the ineluctable links of causality, the tempora and the mores, the old mole working both underground and above. And in this context, this context of keeping history moving forward, Hillary Clinton has not just the chance to run in 2016. She has the obligation to do so. Her party, and her country, will need her then, to consolidate gains and prevent the backsliding that the backsliders just can’t wait to commence. In other words, if the next four years go the way I suspect they might, it will be of the most fundamental importance that the Democrats hold the White House thereafter, and the burden of so ensuring falls squarely on the shoulders of Hugh Rodham’s rebellious daughter.
If Jeb Bush runs against her, all Hillary will have to ask is: “Okay, America, would you rather extend either Bill Clinton’s presidency or George W. Bush’s?”
Here’s what I mean. I suspect that the next four years will go rather nicely for my side. The economy shows every sign of turning around and, one hopes, going like gangbusters three years hence. Obamacare will be implemented. Taxes—tax rates—will have been hiked. Immigration reform may well have been enacted. With a ridiculous amount of luck, a carbon tax. And all that will have been on top of Dodd-Frank, the equal pay act, and the other first-Obama-term accomplishments. We stand a decent chance, come 2016, of looking back on a pretty darn good eight years.
Well, that’s my “we.” There’s another we—the we on the other side of the ideological parking lot, who’ll be looking back on eight years of unmitigated socialistic disaster that they’ll be aching to undo. They’ll be desperate to get the top tax rate back down as low as they can get it. They’ll be itching to repeal Dodd-Frank, or at the very least eliminate its most visible and progressive manifestation, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. They’ll be pining to roll back myriad rules and regulations that don’t get much press attention but have certainly helped make a more progressive country in areas like labor, the environment, energy, and more. And they’ll never stop poking at Obamacare’s perimeter fence, looking for weaknesses.
Whatever ooey-gooey, reasonable-sounding verbiage they employ to get to the White House in 2016, the fact is that their agenda will be just as I describe it above. This rapacious leopard won’t change its spots that drastically in a mere four years. They’ll do a better job of hiding it than Mitt Romney did, but they’ll want to take the country in a radical direction and erase the past years the way as Ramses wanted the name of Moses scraped from the obelisks.

So the Democrats collectively will have a job to do in 2016, or several jobs. There will be many gains to be protected. And new gains to win. Obamacare, if anything (listen up, conservatives!), will need to be expanded, given that the original subsidies in the bill are a tad parsimonious. The battle over taxes will continue, as will the fight over the future health of the Social Security and Medicare systems. And—just sayin’—Antonin Scalia and Anthony Kennedy will both turn 81 in 2017.

The presidency was once described by some historians as a prize, won in one election by this team, in another by that team. The metaphor suggests that elections are discrete and separate from one another and that the stakes aren’t much greater than those encountered on a game show. But that’s not the case anymore. Prize is the wrong metaphor for how we ought to see the presidency today. Now, we ought to see it as an instrument through which progress can either be advanced or retarded, and rather than thinking of each election victory as a prize, we ought to think of each as a step on a continuum.

This will be especially true in 2016, when a Republican victory would put at mortal risk the gains of the Obama years. So the next election will be no time to leave all this to chance—or to Andrew Cuomo or Martin O’Malley or even to Joe Biden. Hillary has to do it. She could handily beat the whole parade of Republicans. They’re children next to her. None of them is even in her weight class except for Jeb Bush, but he seems to me pretty easily disposed of with one question: “Okay, America, you’re being the given the choice to extend either Bill Clinton’s presidency or George W. Bush’s. Which way do you want to go?”

The circumstances have to be right, of course. I could be wrong about the next four years. But if I’m not, it will be the case not only that Hillary could run—it will be the case that she must run. The Democratic Party’s leaders and money people won’t be able to force others not to run, but they should do everything within their power to signal to the political world that it’s Hillary and just get on the damn bus. As someone I know rather well said back in 2001, it’s Hillary’s Turn.

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