Thursday, January 31, 2013

Hagelese and Kaboom! IAF Chief Speaks!

Gotta love those grandkids.

  I was eating breakfast with my 10-year-old Granddaughter
  and I asked her, "What day is tomorrow?".

  Without skipping a beat she said, "It's President's Day!".

  She's smart, so I asked her "What does President's Day mean?".

  I was waiting for something about Washington or Lincoln, etc.

  She replied, "President's Day is when President Obama steps
  out of the White House, and if he sees his shadow, we have
  4 more years of Bull Shit."

  You know, it hurts when hot coffee spurts out your nose.
IAF Chief speaks out.  (See 1 below.)
President 'Withdrawal" does not understand rust?  (See 1a below.)
The best way to hold onto your view point is to ignore the facts and reality.  (See 2, 2a and 2b below.)
We have never had a president as mean spirited as dangerous since Roosevelt.

Obama is interested in one thing - having it his way and allowing nothing to stand in his way - even the Constitution.  (See 3 below.)
---Obama gives me anxiety pangs for a variety of reasons and now a new one - he is a 'withdrawal' president. History proves that caries as many risks , if not more , than an active president. Hagel is the perfect nominiee to help Obama execute America's withdrawal.  (See 4 below.)

Obama's over-reaching portends ominous circumstances for the future role of the presidency.  You decide.  (See 4a below.)
Some Hagelese:.  (See 5 below.)
1)Israel fighting ‘a campaign between wars,’ says IAF chief

Amir Eshel says the military is working hard to prevent conflict from erupting into a full-blown war on Israel’s nothern border

Israel is waging an offensive, defensive and intelligence campaign, a complex and potentially explosive war between wars, Israel Air Force chief Maj. Gen. Amir Eshel said Tuesday.

Speaking at the Eighth Annual International Ilan Ramon Space Conference in Herzliya, Eshel said Israel was fighting “a campaign between wars” and that it was doing its utmost “to keep [our] efforts beneath the level at which war breaks out.”
“And if there is no alternative – maybe it will.”
Eshel described the Middle East as an area of weakened sovereignty and growing threats, saying that the processes at work “are tectonic” and that, right on our border, “no one has any idea what will happen” after the collapse of President Bashar Assad’s regime.
He indicated that the term ”Arab Spring” doesn’t adequately describe the upheaval raging through the Middle East, Syria in particular, and said that it is “a season that doesn’t exist in the regional calendar.”
The nearly two-year uprising against the Assad regime has claimed the lives of over 60,000 people, according to recent estimates by the United Nations, and the future may hold a further destabilizing of the nation state to Israel’s northeast.
Speaking of Syria he stressed the threat of both chemical and “state-of-the-art” conventional weapons falling into the hands of non-state actors. The air force “almost exclusively” shoulders the burden of Israel’s defense against these threats, he said.
Advanced conventional weapons, like radar and land-to-sea missiles, however, may have already been transferred into Hezbollah’s arsenals in the past weeks. “The motivation is growing and there is no guarantee that such weapons have not already been passed to Hezbollah’s hands,” said Lt. Col. Assaf Librati, the air force spokesman.
The ability to work with the Mossad, the Shin Bet security service and military intelligence, along with the readiness and flexibility of the air force, he said, mean that when “a problem pops up” there is no one else who can “act almost immediately.”
Israel has said on several occasions that the transfer of chemical weapons to non-state actors, especially Hezbollah, would be a casus belli.  Vice Prime Minister Silvan Shalom said Sunday that such transfer of arms “would be crossing a line that would demand a different approach.”
Eshel described the intel campaign to protect Israel’s borders as “24/7/365″ and stressed, somewhat unusually, the role of manned and unmanned aircraft, as well as “ground forces,” taking part in this conflict. The war, he said, had to address threats from “the sub-conventional to the non-conventional, from the knife to the nuclear.”

1a)War Is Like Rust

War seems to come out of nowhere, like rust that suddenly pops up on iron after a storm.
Throughout history, we have seen that war can sometimes be avoided or postponed, or its effects mitigated -- usually through a balance of power, alliances and deterrence rather than supranational collective agencies. But it never seems to go away entirely.
Just as otherwise lawful suburbanites might slug it out over silly driveway boundaries, or trivial road rage can escalate into shooting violence, so nations and factions can whip themselves up to go to war -- consider 1861, 1914 or 1939. Often, the pretexts for starting a war are not real shortages of land, food or fuel, but rather perceptions -- like fear, honor and perceived self-interest.
To the ancient Greek philosophers Heraclitus and Plato, war was the father of us all, while peace was a brief parenthesis in the human experience. In the past, Americans of both parties seemed to accept that tragic fact.
After the Second World War, the United States, at great expense in blood and treasure, and often at existential danger, took on the role of protecting the free world from global communism. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, both Democratic and Republican administrations ensured the free commerce, travel and communications essential for the globalization boom.
Such peacekeeping assumed that there would always pop up a Manuel Noriega, Slobodan Milosevic, Saddam Hussein or Osama bin Laden who would threaten the regional or international order. In response, the United States -- often clumsily, with mixed results, and to international criticism -- would either contain or eliminate the threat. Names changed, but the evil of the each age remained -- and as a result of U.S. vigilance the world largely prospered.
Such a bipartisan activist policy is coming to close with the new "lead from behind" policy of the Obama administration. Perhaps America now believes that the United Nations has a better record of preventing or stopping wars -- or that the history of the United States suggests we have more often caused rather than solved problems, or that with pressing social needs at home, we can no longer afford an activist profile abroad at a time of near financial insolvency.
Yet the reasons for our new isolationism, analogous to early 1914 or 1939, do not matter, only the reality that lots of bad actors now believe that the United States cannot or will not impede their agendas -- and that no one else will in our absence. Americans are rightly tired of the Afghan and Iraq wars. Yet we left no monitoring force in Iraq and are winding down precipitously in Afghanistan, and thus have no guarantees that our decade-long struggle for postwar consensual government will survive in either place.
Much of North Africa is beginning to resemble Somalia. Our tag-along strategy in Libya resulted in sheer chaos, with an American ambassador and three others killed in Benghazi. The Muslim Brotherhood, headed by anti-Semite Mohamed Morsi, has turned Egypt into a failed state. Islamists killed dozens of Western hostages in Algeria. The French are unilaterally trying to prevent an Islamist takeover of Mali. Meanwhile, 60,000 died in Syria, with thousands more fatalities to come.
The common theme? Middle East authoritarians and Islamists expect that the United States will probably lecture a lot about peace and do very little about war.
China and Japan appear to be on the verge of a shooting incident over unimportant disputed islands that nonetheless seem very important in terms of national prestige. A more muscular government in Tokyo and an expanding Japanese navy suggest that the Japanese are running out of patience with Chinese bullying.
Japan, the Philippines, South Korea and Taiwan all have the wealth and expertise to become nuclear to deter Chinese aggression, but so far they have not -- only because of their reliance on a previously engaged and military omnipotent United States.
A near-starving North Korea, when not threatening South Korea, periodically announces that it is pointing a test missile at Japan or the United States. Few believe that the present sanctions will stop Iran's trajectory toward a nuclear bomb. The more the Argentine economy tanks, the more its government talks about the "Malvinas" -- replaying the preliminaries that led to the 1982 Falklands Islands war.
In the last four years, tired of Iraq and Afghanistan, and facing crushing debt, we have outsourced collective action, deterrence and peacekeeping to the Arab League, the French, the British, the Afghan and Iraqi security forces and the United Nations. Does America now believe that our weaker allies, polite outreach, occasional obeisance and apology, euphemism, good intentions -- or simple neglect -- will defuse tensions that seem to be leading to conflict the world over?
Perhaps, but there is no evidence in either human nature or our recorded past to believe such a rosy prognosis.
2)The Liberal Mind Rejects Sad Facts 
Reality may cause sadness and pain, but it is reality nonetheless.
By Dennis Prager
I recently devoted my biweekly column in the Jewish Journal of Los Angeles to analyzing why most Jews believe that people are basically good despite the fact that this belief is neither rational nor Jewish. In a lifetime of teaching and writing on Judaism, I have never encountered a single normative statement in 3,000 years of Jewish writing that asserted that man is basically good.
As I expected, the reaction — apparently all from Jewish liberals — was entirely negative.  Almost an entire page of the journal was devoted to letters attacking me. One of the seven letters — from a prominent Hollywood screenwriter — bordered on hysteria.

The question is, why?

Why would liberals in general, and Jewish liberals in particular — given the Jews’ singularly horrific history at the hands of other human beings — react so strongly against someone who wrote that people are not basically good?

In my original article, I offered one explanation: Since the Enlightenment, the secular world has had to believe in man (or “humanity”), because if you don’t believe in God and you don’t believe in humanity, you will despair.

But one critic opened my eyes to an even deeper reason most liberals do not acknowledge that people are not basically good.

This is what he wrote:

“What a sad world it would be if we all believed as Dennis Prager that mankind is inherently evil.”

And this is what I responded: “I did not write that man is inherently evil. I wrote that he is not basically good. And, yes, that does make the world sad. So do disease, earthquakes, death and all the unjust suffering in the world. But sad facts remain facts.”

“A distinguishing characteristic of liberals and leftists,” I concluded, “is their aversion to acknowledging sad facts.”

Years ago a woman writer, whose name I have unfortunately forgotten, first made me aware of this. 

She wrote about liberals’ rejecting many facts about male and female natures. She used the French expression Les faits de la vie, “the facts of life.”

The Left, she wrote, rejects les faits de la vie.

I believe this is so for two reasons.

First, as with my correspondent above, people on the Left tend to be unwilling to accept the sadness and pain that recognition of such facts creates. Leftism is often predicated on avoiding pain. That is a major reason why the Left dislikes capitalism and free markets. Free markets create winners and losers, and the Left does not like the fact that some people lose and some win.
This antipathy to having losers expresses itself on the micro level as well. Many liberals oppose letting children play competitive sports because they can lose — sometimes by a lot. That is why many schools now emphasize “cooperation instead of competition.” They do not want children experiencing the pain of losing, let alone losing by many points. That is also why liberals introduced the absurd idea of giving sports trophies to all kids who play, win or lose. God forbid that only the winners receive trophies; the kids who didn’t win may experience pain.
Second, the Left lives by theories and dogmas into which the facts of life must fit. That is why left-wing ideas are usually wishful thinking.

Though either explanation suffices, the two explanations reinforce one another.

Here are four descriptive statements rejected by the Left for these two mutually reinforcing reasons.

1. People are not basically good.
Leftists tend to reject this because a) it is too painful to accept, and b) it undermines the leftist dogma that people do bad because of outside forces — poverty, capitalism, racism, etc.

2. Men and women are inherently different.

Leftists have rejected this idea because some of the differences are too emotionally upsetting to accept. Men are variety-driven by nature? Too upsetting. Women may have less yearning for, and ability in, math and engineering? Only a sexist like former Harvard president Lawrence Summers would say such a thing. Moreover, the belief that men and women are inherently different violates the Left’s foundational principle of equality. Many liberals admit that they reject talk of male-female differences because it can easily lead to gender inequality.

3. Black males disproportionately commit violent crime in America.

Leftist reactions to this truly painful fact are to label one who notes it a racist and to decry American society as racist because there are more black males in prison than in college.

4. The United Nations is a moral wasteland.

Since before the U.N.’s founding in 1945, liberals placed much of their hope for a peaceful world in the United Nations. That the U.N. has turned out to be an abettor more than a preventer of violence is a fact that the Left finds too painful to acknowledge. And it violates the left-wing belief that nationalism is evil and internationalism is the solution.

It is generally believed that as people grow older. they reject much of the liberalism they believed in when they were young. This is true, and one reason is relevant here: As we get older, we tend to make peace with painful faits de la vie.
— Dennis Prager is a nationally syndicated radio talk-show host and columnist. 

2a)The Liberal Mind: The Psychological Causes of Political Madness.

Has anyone read this book yet?
"The Liberal Mind: The Psychological Causes of Political Madness."  By Dr. Lyle Rossiter.
Dr. Rossiter is able to diagnois liberalism as a mental disorder, for example:  "Psychopathology of the Liberal Mind: The adult drive toward omnipotent control of others, in any arena whatever, is rooted in fears of separation, abandonment loss or abuse--the residual effects of early attachment gone wrong. The need to dominate others arises from the tyrant's need for absolute assurance that the catastrophic loss of dependency or the pain of abuse so devastating to him in his earliest years will not be repeated."
Before I consider reading the book I would like to know first if it is a serious book or just a joke.
What do you think?

2b)A right hook to the left
Liberal Fascism: The Secret History of the Left From Mussolini to the Politics of Meaning Jonah Goldberg Penguin £9.99, pp496 Nick Cohen finds much to admire in a blistering attack on liberalism
It is undeniable that the best way to have avoided complicity in the horrors of the last century would have been to have adopted the politics of Jonah Goldberg. Much can be said against moderate conservatives, but it has to be admitted that their wariness of grand designs and their willingness to place limits on the over-mighty state give them a clean record others cannot share. Few of Goldberg's contemporaries will grant him the same courtesy. He lives in a western culture where "smug, liberal know-nothings, sublimely confident in the truth of their ill-informed opinions" accuse him of being "a fascist and a Nazi" simply because he is a conservative. Meanwhile, the heart-throb-savant George Clooney can assert that "the liberal movement morally has stood on the right side".

Behind the insults and the self-righteousness is the assumption that politics runs on a continuum from far left to far right; that if David Cameron were to keep moving rightwards, he would end up a Nazi. Goldberg sets out to knock down this false paradigm and show that much of what Americans call liberalism, and we call leftism, has its origins in fascism.
I say "knock down", but that is too mild a phrase. Liberal Fascism is not a clean blow to the jaw, but a multiple rocket launcher of a book that targets just about every liberal American hero and ideal. The title comes from HG Wells, the most strenuous intellectual advocate of totalitarianism on the early-20th-century British left. "I am asking for a Liberal Fascisti," he told the Oxford Union in 1932, "for enlightened Nazis. The world is sick of parliamentary democracy. The Fascist party is Italy. The Communist is Russia. The Fascists of liberalism must carry out a parallel ambition of a far grander scale."

Wells saw no difference between communism and fascism and Goldberg puts a compelling case that neither should we. Mussolini began as a socialist agitator. The Nazis were a national socialist party which despised bourgeois democracy and offered a comprehensive welfare state.
I agree that all totalitarianisms are essentially the same, and that far leftists combined with far rightists in the 1920s and 1930s and are doing so again now. But I had difficulties with Goldberg's concept of totalitarian unity. Communists killed different people to fascists. If you were a peasant farmer in Nazi Germany, Mussolini's Italy or Saddam Hussein's Iraq, they allowed you to live - as long as you did not cross them. Marxism was the greatest disaster the 20th-century peasantry endured. Death by execution or in a manmade famine could await, regardless of whether you kept your nose out of politics. While Goldberg's definition of fascism as the "right wing of the socialist movement" is true in as far as it goes, it does not explain the selectiveness of the rival terrors.
In America, flustered liberal critics have had far greater difficulty with the notion that they and their predecessors are the inheritors of ideas that began in the fascist movement. Goldberg certainly leaves them little left to be proud of as he provides an alternative history of an America that Simon Schama lacks the intellectual courage to confront.
He begins with Woodrow Wilson and shows that before Mussolini came to power, a Democratic president imposed a militarised state. When America entered the First World War, the progressives of the day used the conflict as an excuse to arrest dissidents, close newspapers and recruit tens of thousands of neighbourhood spies.
Wilson began the overlap between progressive and fascistic politics, which continued for the rest of the 20th century. Avant-garde Nazi philosophers - Heidegger, Paul de Man, Carl Schmitt - are venerated by nominal leftists in the postmodern universities, who love their contempt for traditional morality and standards of truth. Nazism was the first example of modern identity politics. All that mattered was whether you were German, Slav or Jew.
Beginning with the Black Panthers, multiculturalism has also placed racial and religious identity above all else and beyond the reach of rational argument. Fascism was a pagan movement, whose mystic tropes are repeated by new age healers, vegetarians and greens.
I could go on and Goldberg does go on. By the end, I began to weary not of his argument, but of his habit of protesting too much. Repeatedly he insists that he does not want to allege that, for instance, Hillary Clinton's admittedly sinister desire for the state to take the place of the family makes her a totalitarian, merely that her ideas come from the totalitarian movement.
But he clearly does want to be able to accuse the Clintons of fascism and his disavowals lack conviction. Like the leftists who abuse him, he is in danger of shouting "fascist" so often that he will miss the real thing when it appears. And miss, too, the better side of his enemies. I dug out George Clooney's full quote - which Goldberg doesn't give - and discovered that the reason he thought that liberals had been on "the right side" was that they had "thought that blacks should be allowed to sit at the front of the bus and women should be able to vote, McCarthy was wrong, Vietnam was a mistake". For all the undoubted crimes of the left, is that not at least a plea of mitigation?
Liberal Fascism is a bracing and stylish examination of political history. That it is being published at a time when Goldberg's free market has failed and big government and charismatic presidents are on their way back in no way invalidates his work. Hard times test intellectuals and, for all its occasional false notes, Goldberg's case survives.
3)Henninger: Obama's Thunderdome Strategy

The president's goal is to make Republican ideas intolerable.

Few are the men and women in American public life who haven't heard Mr. Dooley's famous aphorism: "Politics ain't beanbag." John Boehner, currently serving out his community service as speaker of the House, appears to have been meditating on Mr. Dooley's cautionary wisdom. At the Ripon Society last week he said the Obamaadministration was trying "to annihilate the Republican Party."
Better late than never, Speaker Boehner now sees that Barack Obama's notion of political competition is Mad Max inside the Thunderdome: "Two men enter, one man leaves."
Last week during the president's second inaugural address, if one can employ that hallowed phrase to describe this speech, Mr. Obama used the occasion to defend entitlement programs by whacking his defeated presidential opponent: "They do not make us a nation of takers."

This was the second time Mr. Obama used a traditionally elevated forum to take down his opposition. His 2010 State of the Union speech will be remembered in history for nothing other than an attack on members of the Supreme Court seated before him. Justice Samuel Alito's whispered "Not true" would prove a prophetic comment on the Obama modus operandi.
Subsequent targets of the president's contempt have included the members of Congress's deficit-reduction supercommittee, the Ryan budget ("antithetical to our entire history"), repeated attacks on the "well off" and bankers, and famously a $100 million dump-truck of vilification on Mitt Romney.
When he won, the rationalization was that it was all a shrewd if brutal campaign strategy. But it kept coming. What is striking about the Obama technique is that it's not so much criticism as something closer to political obliteration, driving his opposition out of the political arena altogether.
After the inaugural speech, Obama communications director Dan Pfeiffer said that Democrats don't have "an opposition party worthy of the opportunity." Even among the president's supporters, one is hard put now to find anyone who doesn't recognize that Mr. Obama's original appeal to hope and change has given way to search and destroy.
Conventional wisdom holds that these unorthodox tactics are a mistake, that he's going to need GOP support on immigration and such. And by now it's conventional wisdom that when our smiling president transforms into Mr. Hyde he is merely channeling Saul Alinsky, deploying the tactics of community-organizing campaigns, the only operational world he knew before this.
The real pedigree, though, is a lot heavier than community organizing in Chicago.
Speaking last Saturday, Rep. Paul Ryan said that for Barack Obama to achieve his goals, "he needs to delegitimize the Republican Party." Annihilate, delegitimize—it's the same thing. The good news is that John Boehner and Paul Ryan recognize that their relationship with this White House is not as partners in anything. They are prey.
Back in 1965, when American politics watched the emergence of the New Left movement—rebranded today as "progressives"—a famous movement philosopher said the political left should be "liberated" from tolerating the opinions of the opposition:"Liberating tolerance would mean intolerance against movements from the Right and toleration of movements from the Left."
That efficient strategy was the work of Herbert Marcuse, the political theorist whose ideas are generally credited with creating the basis for campus speech codes. Marcuse said, "Certain things cannot be said, certain ideas cannot be expressed, certain policies cannot be proposed." Marcuse created political correctness.
But let's talk about Marcuse in the here and now. He also proposed the withdrawal of toleration "from groups and movements . . . which oppose the extension of public services, social security, medical care, etc."
Barack Obama in his "gloves-off" news conference Jan. 14: "They have suspicions about Social Security. They have suspicions about whether government should make sure that kids in poverty are getting enough to eat or whether we should be spending money on medical research."
Marcuse called this "the systematic withdrawal of tolerance toward regressive and repressive opinions." That, clearly, is what President Obama—across his first term, the presidential campaign and now—has been doing to anyone who won't line up behind his progressivism. Delegitimize their ideas and opinions.
A Marcusian world of political intolerance became a reality on U.S. campuses. With relentless pushing from the president, why couldn't it happen in American political life? Welcome to the Thunderdome.
The original argument for the Obama presidency was that this was a new, open-minded and liberal man intent on elevating the common good. No one believes that now. This will be a second term of imposition. As he said in the inaugural: "Preserving our individual freedoms ultimately requires collective action." That is Marcusian.
If the opposition is looking for one word to shape its role now, it would be this: Dissent.
4)Hagel and the Shrinking Gulliver

The Senate needs to pin down the Defense nominee on big issues.

In the week since President Obama declared "a decade of war is now ending" at his inauguration, a few things happened.
• Israeli warplanes on Wednesday struck a truck convoy outside Damascus and headed to Lebanon's Hezbollah, according to news reports, amid concern about the spread of chemical and advanced antiaircraft weapons from convulsive Syria.
• The U.S. commander in Kabul predicted a tough spring of fighting and "an uncertain future" for Afghanistan.
• The French retook northern Mali from Islamist militias.
• Egypt's military chief warned of the "collapse" of the Arab world's largest nation.
• China moved ahead with naval exercises around Pacific islands disputed with Japan.
• And the Pentagon announced plans to boost American cyber defenses and set up an air base in north Africa (near Mali, Libya, Algeria, etc.).
In other words, war is not ending. The President's phrase is revealing, however, about his second-term plan for America's defenses. Which brings us to Chuck Hagel's confirmation hearing Thursday to be Secretary of Defense.
Mr. Obama has already proposed to slash defense as deeply as at any time since World War II—$487 billion over the next decade. As a share of the economy, defense spending will fall from more than 4% to 2.7% by 2021, a level last seen before Pearl Harbor.
Military chiefs are bracing for even deeper cuts, whether or not Congress strikes a deal to avoid the budget sequester. The Pentagon would lose another half-trillion dollars—almost a tenth of its budget—over 10 years under the sequester. The U.S. will soon have one of the smallest, least modern and battle-ready forces in recent memory.
This may not trouble Mr. Hagel, a former Republican Senator from Nebraska in the President's dovish mold. In his most notable comments about the Pentagon, he averred last year that the military is "bloated." According to Bob Woodward, such advice secured Mr. Hagel the Pentagon nod.
We typically defer to the President's choice of advisers. Yet the defense job at this moment is a special case, and the Senate has an obligation to consider Mr. Hagel's qualifications and worldview. If confirmed, he will make decisions about force structure and weapons that will shape American defenses for a generation.
With the huge budget deficit, all of government needs to streamline. Yet the Pentagon pays far more than its fair share. It accounts for a fifth of federal spending but half the proposed savings.
The Army will bear the most pain, slimming down to 490,000 soldiers from 565,000, and probably fewer still. The same goes for the Marines. How small is the Administration prepared to let ground forces get, and what gives it such clairvoyant confidence about future threats? A decade ago, the U.S. struggled to rebuild forces after President Clinton cashed in the post-Cold War peace dividend.
The Obama security doctrine unveiled last year pivots the U.S. to the Pacific and emphasizes forward deployment—seemingly favoring the Navy and Air Force. Yet at 286 ships, the Navy has the smallest fleet since 1916, well short of its goal of 313 and going in the other direction. Modern ships are more capable, yet the technology to put one ship in two oceans still doesn't exist.
The budget crunch is forcing the Navy to rethink its ability to deploy 11 aircraft carriers. How many fewer is the Administration prepared to risk to secure the volatile Persian Gulf and the Pacific? Are cheaper, less capable ships an answer, Mr. Hagel?
The Air Force has never flown planes this old. The most advanced bomber, the B-2, dates from the 1980s. While the Truman-era B-52 did fine in Afghanistan, don't expect it to fly missions over China. U.S. chips for the future of air warfare are on the stealthy F-35 fighter. Yet this indispensable program has been underfunded, scaled back and could be terminated. Does Mr. Hagel think we should buy all of the 2,500 F-35s currently part of the Pentagon's plan?
Mr. Obama talks passionately about his commitment to cut American nuclear weapons. Mr. Hagel signed onto the "global zero" campaign to eliminate stockpiles. Rather than put up another disarmament treaty with Russia for Senate ratification, there's talk of cutting the arsenal by executive fiat. Would Mr. Hagel support that?


As he left the Pentagon's top job in 2011, Robert Gates warned about another 1990s-style "procurement holiday" that left the U.S. unprepared for the post-9/11 world. The winding down of the Iraq and Afghan wars is a chance to upgrade worn-down hardware and prepare for future threats. Is that how Mr. Hagel sees the job, or will he help Mr. Obama cash the dividend of an illusory peace to fund ObamaCare?
The U.S. spends more on defense than the next 10 countries combined. It is—guilty as charged—the world's superpower. This has, among other fruits of a Pax Americana, kept Europe peaceful, Asia mostly stable, the seas secure for trade and the U.S. safe for nearly 70 years. The Obama defense retrenchment will save some money. At what price?

4a) Diminishing the Presidency

The overreaching White House has prompted a court to reverse nearly two centuries of constitutional practice.

A year ago this month, President Obama bypassed the Senate's advice-and-consent power by naming three new members to the National Labor Relations Board and appointing Richard Cordray to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Mr. Obama declared that these were "recess" appointments even though the Senate—by its own definition—remained in session.
The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals on Friday unanimously struck down these unilateral appointments, but the three-judge panel's decision in Noel Canning v. NLRB did more than knock a few people out of work and effectively nullify a year's worth of rules that eased union organizing and regulated mortgages and credit cards.
Judge David Sentelle, given an opening by the unprecedented White House power grab, issued a ruling that has profound ramifications for the office of the presidency. He and judge Karen Henderson rejected the very idea of "intra-session recess appointments." Mr. Obama thus has jeopardized a vital executive power for all future presidents.
Senate advice and consent serves as an important counterweight in the unending struggle between the president and Congress. The Constitution, however, allows presidents to temporarily fill "vacancies that may happen during the recess of the Senate," because in the late 18th century legislative sessions were short and breaks could last as long as nine months.
Since 1823, presidents have filled offices that opened even while Congress was in session, on the legal fiction that the vacancies continue to "happen" when the recess came. In the early 20th century, presidents also claimed that, in addition to the official break between a Congress's first and second years, a short Senate adjournment constituted a recess when unilateral appointments could be made.

Mr. Obama's defenders may claim that his exercise of appointment power differed little from that of his predecessors. President George W. Bush, for example, appointed William Pryor in 2004 as a federal judge and John Bolton as U.N. ambassador in 2005 during Senate adjournments.
President Bush acted after he became frustrated with Senate inaction on his nominees. He was also frustrated by Majority Leader Harry Reid's maneuver, beginning in 2007, to keep the body in "pro forma" session where it continued to meet but no important business was conducted. But Mr. Bush respected the Senate's authority over its own rules, and he declined to unilaterally select officials in violation of the Appointments Clause.
Not so Mr. Obama, whose unwarranted use of executive authority has provoked the D.C. Circuit to reverse 190 years of constitutional practice. Though the Senate remained in session last January and even passed major legislation during that time, Mr. Obama went ahead and appointed the NLRB and CFPB officials anyway. The Justice Department argued that the president could decide for himself whether the Senate was really in session and whether it was "genuinely capable of exercising its constitutional function."
Under the Constitution's separation of powers, each branch of government sets its own internal rules. Only the Senate can decide to allow a filibuster. Only justices decide to issue written opinions, or decide cases by majority vote. The president chooses to whom he listens, with whom he discusses, and through whom he transmits his decisions.
Mr. Obama, however, claimed the right to judge the legitimacy of the other branches' proceedings—a seizure of power unheard of in American history. A future president employing this power could ignore legislation that he thought insufficiently debated, recognize laws that had not met the filibuster's 60-vote requirement, or only enforce unanimous Supreme Court decisions.
In Noel Canning, Judge Sentelle confronted more than one instance of executive overreach. Mr. Obama has also distorted the Framers' presidency into an instigator of domestic revolution, rather than as the protector of the national security and the enforcer of the laws.
As Alexander Hamilton explained in Federalist 70, an energetic executive "is essential to the protection of the community against foreign attacks; it is not less essential to the steady administration of the laws." The Bush administration made decisions that risked conflict with congressional policy. They were made during the 9/11 attacks to protect national security against an unforeseen enemy who refused to fight according to the rules of civilized warfare.
This was in keeping with the Constitution's design. Only the president can respond with the"decision, activity, secrecy, and dispatch," in the words of Federalist 70, to confront an immediate emergency. Mr. Bush made grave choices—on Guantanamo Bay, war in Afghanistan, tough interrogation and aggressive wiretapping of terrorist communications—not for narrow partisan advantage or to improve his re-election chances. He defended the president's constitutional authority over what the Federalist calls "the direction of war" to stop future terror attacks.
A glance at the extensive listing of Congress's prerogatives in Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution makes clear that the Framers had no such expectations of the president at home. They understood that Congress would exercise the primary power to legislate with regard to domestic affairs, and the president's main power to restrain the legislature was with a veto.
Mr. Obama, however, has wasted his office's constitutional capital for domestic advantage. He did not fill a vital office during a time of crisis; instead his appointments to the NLRB rewarded constituencies vital to his re-election and burnished his populist credentials. This is of a piece with another unprecedented exercise of executive power: Mr. Obama's refusal to enforce laws that he dislikes. His Justice Department, for instance, will not deport illegal immigrants as required by law. Mr. Obama's abdication of a core constitutional responsibility as a way of advancing his political fortunes is a remarkable and troubling turn in the history of the presidency.
Judge Sentelle's opinion best captures the Framers' original understanding of the Appointments Clause, but the case will almost certainly be appealed to the Supreme Court. The ruling is in conflict with the decisions of other federal courts, offers a broad holding on when a vacancy "may happen," and has significant regulatory impact.
The justices could avoid a broader confrontation with the president—this is the court, after all, that shied away from striking down ObamaCare—by finding that the Senate was in session and dispatching the NLRB's rump officers in short order. The administration, however, is not helping itself: The NLRB officials are openly disobeying the D.C. Circuit's ruling by continuing to stay in their posts and conduct business, one must assume with the White House's approval. (See Notable & Quotable nearby.)
Every president should seek to leave the office stronger than when he found it. The Framers understood that the future's challenges could not be anticipated, and so the executive's powers should not be wasted for short-term political advantage. Mr. Obama holds the prospect of leaving a diminished presidency that will put his successors in a far worse position than the one he inherited. That, unfortunately, will prove to be his historical legacy unless he changes course.
— Mr. Yoo, a law professor at the University of California at Berkeley and a scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, served in President George W. Bush's Justice Department.
5)Hagel in 2003: Israel Keeps 'Palestinians Caged Up Like Animals'

Defense secretary nominee Chuck Hagel protested what he called the “completely distorted” record on Israel that his critics are promoting in an interview earlier this month with his hometown newspaper.
The former Nebraska senator said an accurate assessment would show “unequivocal, total support for Israel.”
Yet a decade earlier, the same newspaper–the Lincoln Journal Star–quoted Hagel making a startling accusation against Israel in a Jan. 12, 2003 article. Israel, Hagel declared, was “keep[ing] Palestinians caged up like animals.”
Hagel does not elaborate on the claim or explain how Israel keeps Palestinians caged up like animals in the Journal Star account. But the comment is consistent with other Hagel outbursts against the Jewish state, such as a similar accusation in 2007 that Israel has kept the Palestinian people “chained down for many, many years.”
Israel’s alleged wrongdoing was not the only criticism lobbed by Hagel in the Journal Star article. He also condemned the Bush administration’s handling of the peace process and Iran, saying, “We’re not handling the Iranian situation the smart way. The worst thing we can do is try to isolate a nation.”
Last week, in a meeting with Sen. Chuck Schumer (D, N.Y.), Hagel came out against what he had previously called the “smart way” and endorsed isolating the nation of Iran.
Hagel’s Senate confirmation hearing will take place on Thursday.

Mystery Surrounds Fordow Blast

Unknown - The Israel Project,  January 31st, 2013

Media reports Sunday suggest a damaging explosion at Iran’s top-secret Fordow nuclear development site took place last week, leaving as many as 190 workers dead.
Following the blast, the main road from Qom to Tehran was closed for several hours, the German newspaper Die Welt reported. If the reports are to be believed, the explosion was perhaps the most serious blow against the Iranian nuclear program to date.
However, Fordow is only one of several key Iranian nuclear sites that contribute greatly to the widely-suspected weaponization of the Iranian nuclear program. Critical damage to the Fordow facility would slow down, but not end the Iranian nuclear program.
Fordow, one of Iran’s largest fuel-enrichment plants, is located in a fortified secret bunker buried outside the city of Qom. In violation of international agreements, Iran failed to declare the construction of the facility, and admitted to its existence only after it was exposed by Western intelligence. Iran also admitted to violating United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolutions by enriching uranium to 20 percent at Fordow. Enrichment of this kind is militarily significant as it enables an easy and quick shift to weapons-grade 90% enriched uranium in a matter of months.
The U.N. banned Iran from enriching uranium after the repeated failure by Tehran to cooperate with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the U.N. nuclear watchdog. The IAEA concluded “Iran has carried out activities relevant to the development of a nuclear explosive device.”
The international community fears that a nuclear Iran would make the region even more volatile, and would continue to enable violence and terrorism throughout the world. As the leading sponsor of international terror, Iran, even without nuclear weapons, has supported attacks directly targeted at Americans and Israelis across the world.
Syria, as a satellite of Iranian-backed terror, has killed over 60,000 of its own citizens in its current civil war. Senior Iranian official Ali Akbar Velayati threatened that the overthrow of Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad is a clear “red line”, declaring that “any foreign attack on Syria would be considered an attack on Iran.”
Reaffirming the Iranian commitment to the destruction of the “Zionist regime,” Iranian Armed Forces Chief of Staff Major General Hassan Firouzabadi reiterated Iran is “standing for its cause that is the full annihilation of Israel.”
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu commented Sunday as the world marked international Holocaust Remembrance Day, the Iranians were continuing both to deny the Holocaust and pursue their goal of destroying the Jewish state. “They are not halting their unceasing and methodical race to obtain atomic weapons for the purpose of realizing this goal. We are not taking these threats lightly.”

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