"There was a bit of confusion at the gun shop this morning.
I wanted to get some ammo before New York State and the US
Government had a chance to impose more hoops for us to jump through.
When I got my card ready to pay for my purchases of .22 Cal, .30-06 &
12 gauge shells, the cashier said, "Strip down, facing me."
Making a mental note to complain to the manager about the gun
registry people running amok, I did just as she had instructed.
When the hysterical shrieking and alarms finally subsided, I
found out that she was referring to my credit card.
I have been asked to shop elsewhere in the future. They need
to make their instructions to us seniors a little clearer!
Obama's energy plans are enough to give one gas!
Everything about Obama is a way to raise revenue, a way to transfer wealth and/or a way to cripple our nation's potential! (See 1 below.)
The other side of the argument regarding women in combat. (See 2 below.)
Written before Clinton testified on Benghazi and explains why Hillary is impregnable! (See 3 below.)
It is all about 2016 and 'gullible' travels versus 'biding' your time!
Get prepared to have another candidate shoved down our throats by the media and press. This time America's first woman president with a pair of brass b----! (See 3a below.)
Netanyahu's possible appointments.
Israel continues to be governed by factions.
Israelis may be accomplished in technology but when it comes to governing themselves, their politicians will not allow sanity to prevail. (See 4 below.)
The next four years may prove tough for America but, according to Daniel Pipes, they will be even more so for Israel as Obama's animus begins to show openly. (See 4a below.)
All the world's geniuses are meeting at Davos again. Most of the predictions that have come out of these meetings has proven off the mark but this time I suspect thy could be right.
America is in recovery and if Obama does not kill the energy goose as Kim suggests he might, then we are possibly on a path for industrial growth and rebirth for a while. Europe will lag but should begin a shaky recovery later starting this year and China has already begun theirs.
The fly in the ointment will be the consequences of withdrawal by our Fed and various world Central Banks from significant stimulation and the consequence of same. Roubini addresses this matter and gives his thoughts. (See 5 below.)
1)The Real Obama Climate Deal
To approve natural gas exports and other energy projects, the president may demand a carbon tax
By Kim Strassel
President Obama set off a guessing game this week as to what he intended with his inaugural promise to double down on climate change. There's no need to guess. California Democrat Barbara Boxer, the Senate's climate guru, was happy to fill in the gory details.
The president's climate shout-out sent the green community into flurries of ecstasy, with grand hopes of a new push for cap-and-trade in Congress, or of a redoubled U.S. commitment to a global carbon pact. It fell to Mrs. Boxer to tamp down those ambitions, even as she reassured her devotees that there is more than one way to skin the climate cat.
"A lot of you press me . . . on: 'Where is the bill on climate change? Where is the bill?' There doesn't have to be a bill," Mrs. Boxer explained in a briefing the day after Mr. Obama's speech. "I'm telling you right now, EPA has the authority in the transportation sector, the electricity sector, and the industrial sector under the Clean Air Act" to do everything that legislation might otherwise do.
In other words, with the election over, all pretense is gone. Democrats won't waste political capital on a doomed cap-and-trade bill. Yet they'll get their carbon program all the same, by deputizing the EPA to impose sweeping new rules and using their Senate majority to block any GOP effort to check the agency's power grab. The further upside? Brute regulation is not only certain and efficient, it allows vulnerable Democrats to foist any blame on a lame-duck administration.
Mrs. Boxer has spent years on climate, and she wouldn't be surrendering her legislative ambitions without clear assurances the White House has her covered. Her words were a signal that the Obama EPA is about to re-energize the regulatory machine that it put on ice during the election. Republicans who hoped Lisa Jackson's resignation signaled a more humble EPA approach should instead prepare for an agency with a new and turbocharged mission.
Just as notable, Mrs. Boxer gave the clearest sign yet that Dems intend to simultaneously pursue the new holy grail of climate control: a carbon tax. The left has been ginning up enthusiasm for this energy tax, not only as a means of cutting fossil-fuel use, but as a way of generating enormous revenue to cover their spending ambitions. The Democrats' political problem, however, is that the tax remains hugely unpopular.
Mrs. Boxer helpfully detailed Democrats' new strategy for getting a foothold. Now that cars are so much more fuel-efficient, she explained, the gas tax isn't bringing in enough revenue to cover highway needs. How to fix this? Easy! Just replace the gas tax with a carbon tax.
As strategy goes, this is clever. The gas tax itself is unpopular, so Democrats are betting on some public support for killing it. They figure at least some Republican porksters will salivate at more state highway money. Democrats can initially sell the tax as limited to covering infrastructure, knowing that once the principle is established, they can ramp up. And all this can be silkily pitched as part of "tax reform."
The only thing Mrs. Boxer did not explain was how the administration intends to balance this climate crackdown with its position atop an American energy renaissance. Mr. Obama spent the past election year bragging that gas and oil production had risen on his watch, hoping to cadge some credit for the economic boom that has accompanied private-sector drilling advances.
The administration has kept open the possibility of approving the Keystone XL pipeline. It has hinted it will greenlight more export terminals for natural gas. It last week again delayed its fracking rules for public lands. These moves have encouraged the oil-and-gas industry, even as they have driven the environmental community nuts. The Natural Resources Defense Council this week declared that approving Keystone would be "fundamentally inconsistent" with Mr. Obama's renewed vow to "address climate change."
Or would it? Republicans might recollect that the Obama administration has a practiced method of winning controversial legislation like ObamaCare and Dodd-Frank. To wit, it uses a combination of bribes and threats to get pertinent sectors of the business community to back its efforts.
Consider what the mighty oil-and-gas lobby might be co-opted to do—either out of gratitude for the president's backing or fear that he might turn on it. Consider how the political environment might change if the industry threw its weight behind a carbon tax or the EPA climate scheme. Consider that this might prove an easy call, given that a tax would be borne by its customers, while EPA regs will mostly crush coal. Consider that numerous Big Oil chieftains have already endorsed such a carbon levy. And who says Mr. Obama has to decide Keystone XL or anything else soon? He could hold out, to see what he can extract in return.
All this is food for thought for those conservatives who have been lulled into complacency by the stall of cap and trade. A big climate agenda is coming, only on very different terms. If Republicans hope to spare the economy that pain, it's time to adapt.
2)Arms and the Women
By GAIL COLLINS
Women in the military are going to get to serve in combat. They killed the Equal Rights Amendment to keep this from happening, but, yet, here we are. And about time.
“I think people have come to the sensible conclusion that you can’t say a woman’s life is more valuable than a man’s life,” the retired Air Force Brig. Gen. Wilma Vaught once told me.
Vaught is the president of the Women in Military Service for America Memorial Foundation. She retired from active duty in 1985, so she remembers a different era entirely. “I went to Vietnam, and when I found out I was going, the first thing I wanted to know was if I’d be trained in weapons. They told me I didn’t need to be. That’s unheard of today,” she said on Wednesday when I caught up with her on the phone.
“And,” she added, “I wore my skirts.”
Now they wear fatigues and tote rifles. So the Joint Chiefs of Staff have bowed to reality and told Defense Secretary Leon Panetta that “the time has come” to stop excluding women from combat positions. The transformation won’t happen immediately, and it might not be universal. But it’s still a groundbreaking change. When the recommendation became public Wednesday, except for a broadside from the Concerned Women for America (“our military cannot continue to choose social experimentation and political correctness over combat readiness”), the reception seemed overwhelmingly positive.
It’s hard to remember — so many parts of recent history now seem hard to remember — but it was the specter of women under fire that did more than anything else to quash the movement for an Equal Rights Amendment to the Constitution in the 1970s. “We kept saying we hope no one will be in combat, but, if they are, women should be there, too,” recalled Gloria Steinem.
The fear of putting women in the trenches has been dispelled on two fronts. One, of course, is the change in the way the American public thinks about women. The other is the shortage of trenches in modern warfare, when an officer on the front lines is not necessarily in a more dangerous position than a support worker. Shoshana Johnson, a cook, was shot in both ankles, taken captive and held for 22 days after her unit was separated from a convoy crossing the Iraqi desert. Lori Piestewa, a Native American and, like Johnson, a single mother, was driving in the same convoy full of clerks and maintenance workers. She was skillfully steering her Humvee through mortar fire when a truck immediately ahead of her jackknifed and her front wheel was hit by a rocket. She was fatally injured in the ensuing crash.
The biggest safety concern for women in the military is actually not so much enemy fire as sexual attacks from fellow members of their own service. Because the crime is so underreported, it’s impossible to say how many women suffer sexual assault while they’re in uniform, but 3,192 cases were recorded in 2011. Allowing women to get the benefits of serving in combat positions won’t make that threat worse. In fact, it might make things better because it will mean more women at the top of the military, and that, inevitably, will mean more attention to women’s issues.
The military’s idea of what constitutes a combat position is more about bureaucracy than bullets. Today women are on armed patrols and in fighter planes. But they can’t hold approximately 200,000 jobs officially termed “combat,” which often bring more pay and can provide a stepping stone for promotions. The system is complicated. But cynics might wonder if some of the military brass fear women’s upward mobility more than the danger.
“We only have one four-star general who’s a woman,” said Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee who cheered the recommendation from the Joint Chiefs. It was, she said, “a great step forward for our military,” and one that wasn’t really expected. Only recently, Gillibrand recalled, she and her allies declared victory when they merely got language in the defense authorization bill requiring the Defense Department to study the question of women in combat.
Women now make up almost 15 percent of the American military and their willingness to serve made the switch to an all-volunteer Army possible. They’ve taken their posts with such seamless calm that the country barely noticed. The specter that opponents of the E.R.A. deemed unthinkable — our sisters and daughters dying under fire in foreign lands — has happened over and over and over. More than 130 women have died and more than 800 have been wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan. The House of Representatives includes a female double-amputee in the person of the newly elected Tammy Duckworth of Illinois, a former military pilot who lost both her legs when her helicopter was shot down in Iraq.
We’ve come a long, sometimes tragic, heroic way.
3)Why Benghazi Hasn't Brought Down Hillary Clinton–and Won't
The secretary of State testifies today, but because of years of taking hits and careful damage control she'll leave unscathed.
When Hillary Rodham Clinton marches up to Capitol Hill on Wednesday to testify about the Benghazi attack, it’ll be the last “scandal” of her 20-year run in Washington. The quotation marks are there for a reason. Most of what has exorcised the Hill and press corps about Hillary Clinton over the last two decades has rarely turned out to be scandalous.
On Capitol Hill Wednesday, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s riveting testimony about the Sept. 11 murders of four Americans in Benghazi and her candidate-like comments about future U.S. engagement in the world invited curiosity at every level.
At the White House, spokesman Jay Carney tried valiantly (but with a certain loyalist exaggeration) to suggest Americans regard Clinton and Biden with equivalent regard. In fact, the former New York senator is ahead of the former Delaware senator in likability, according to an ABC News/Washington Post poll released Wednesday.At the same time, reporting about Vice PresidentBiden’s 2016 ambitions, fanned in part by . . . well, Joe Biden . . . continued to heat up.
Carney at one point referred to the secretary of state as “President Clinton” during his daily briefing Wednesday before laughing about his Freudian slip. He deflected reporters’ questions about whether Biden would seek to become Obama’s successor.
The speculation about a future president just days after the coronation of the current one invited Obama’s spokesman to suggest the White House briefing room was infected with a worrisome strain of media madness.
“I think for the sake and sanity of all involved, it is worth taking a little bit of a break from presidential election-year politics,” he said.
No such luck. Politicos are curious to know whether or when Clinton might reprise her run for the Oval Office, so they eagerly examined her exchanges with potential rivals during a hearing of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Sen. Marco Rubio, the young Florida Republican who is weighing his promising political trajectory, asked Clinton polite questions about U.S. help to Libya. But Sen. Rand Paul, the irascible Kentucky libertarian elected in 2010, delivered a withering lecture about leadership and told Clinton he would have fired her after the Benghazi attack “had I been president at the time.”
Lest anyone doubt that Paul has toyed with following in the footsteps of his father, Rep. Ron Paul, he sent a video clip to supporters Wednesday titled “Had I been president, I would have relieved Secretary Clinton of her duties."
In a few weeks, Clinton will conclude her service in the Obama administration and mull her next act. And because that exit has been so publicized and anticipated, her testimony, voice-choking grief, and then explosive, hand-waving anger during the Senate hearing became three-dimensional chess. (Clinton’s moment of teary emotion during the 2008 presidential race prompted some in the media to suggest the former first lady won the New Hampshire primary in part because she suddenly appeared human.)
Clinton’s explanations to House and Senate inquisitors about ongoing terrorist threats were carefully analyzed for any possible variances from the White House narrative that al-Qaeda has been decimated. As the experienced crisis communicator simultaneously “accepted responsibility,” and denied knowledge of cabled pleas from her Libya team for beefed-up security, she also protected Obama from any new involvement in the Benghazi affair.
But at one point she suggested that al-Qaeda’s reported demise might be too simplistic a narrative.
“We now face a spreading jihadist threat. We have driven a lot of the AQ operatives out of the FATA [federally administered tribal areas], out of Afghanistan, Pakistan; killed a lot of them, including, of course [Osama] bin Laden,” Clinton said. “But we have to recognize this is a global movement. We can kill leaders, but until we help establish strong democratic institutions, until we do a better job communicating our values and building relationships, we're going to be faced with this level of instability.”
The secretary has been an animated champion of “soft power,” the encouragement of democratic governance, human rights and economic empowerment as the way to deter extremist movements abroad. She sounded like a candidate, or a woman about to raise the roof, when she chided Congress for criticizing security risks abroad while underfunding the State Department in comparison to the Pentagon.
“And I do have a lot of thoughts about what more we can and should do, given this new reality we face,” she said in a firm voice.
As Clinton, 65, has become a global brand and international celebrity, shedding her public identity as an expert in health care and domestic policy, Biden, 70, has gone the other way, branching out from foreign policy in the Senate to become an expert for Obama in stimulus spending, legislative strategy, gun control and campaigning.
James Carville has predicted that potential Democratic candidates for the White House, eager to avoid a divisive and expensive primary contest in 2016, will pause before jumping in until they know Clinton’s intentions. Even the vice president -- irrepressible, ambitious and loyal -- is expected to think twice. Some believe Biden enjoys the public speculation about his presidential ambitions because it could prolong the relevancy of Obama’s second term.
The president’s spokesman said it’s premature to worry about 2016, but on all sides Wednesday, his quaint thinking was overruled.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is pondering keeping responsibility for defense while naming Yair Shamir (No. 2 in Likud’s partner Israeli Beitenu) minister for running the defense ministry.
This would upset outgoing Vice Prime Minister Moshe Yaalon’s expectation of defense in the post-election Netanyahu government.
Since the results of Israel’s general election of Tuesday, Jan. 22, were out, Netanyahu (whose Likud-Beitenu garnered only 31 seats) has been locked in intensive negotiations with Yair Lapid, whose party came second with a stunning 19 seats, on the shape of the next government.
They have also discussed inviting retired defense minister Ehud Barak to stay on as a non-political expert.
For now, Lapid who is in a position to pick and choose the cabinet post he wants, has turned down the post of finance minister for himself, while admitting to his friends that he wouldn’t say no to the foreign ministry.
Upon hearing this, ex-Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, said cynically Wednesday that the finance ministry was right down Lapid’s street in view of the strong social and economic agenda to which he committed his Future party. His party might resent his abdication of those goals, Lieberman commented.
Wednesday night, Lapid himself put paid to a chorus led by Labor’s Shelley Yacimovitch for his Future to join the left-of-center and the Arab parties to block Netanyahu’s efforts to build a coalition government.
Wednesday night, Lapid himself put paid to a chorus led by Labor’s Shelley Yacimovitch for his Future to join the left-of-center and the Arab parties to block Netanyahu’s efforts to build a coalition government.
Instead, he welcomed Binyamin Netanyahu as next prime minister. “I was glad to hear Netanyahu referring to all the things I have been aiming for,” he said to reporters. There will be no opposition bloc - certainly not with Hanan Zouabi,” said Lapid.
Netanyahu, speaking after the elections, spoke favorably of some of the objectives Lapid’s Future had set itself: Starting with averting the Iranian nuclear threat, he went on to speak of equalizing the burden between the secular and ultra-religious communities, bringing down prices, providing affordable housing and reforming the system of government.
Lapid refrained from answering when he was asked whether he would serve in the same cabinet as the ultra-religious Shas party (11 seats), which is a longstanding coalition partner of Likud and with which Netanyahu conducted separate negotiations Wednesday.
This dual track opened up the possibility of establishing a government led by Netanyahu and Lapid in two stages: In the first, this duo would be joined by the pro-settlement Jewish Home and its head, the high-tech millionaire Naftali Bennett (11) and Kadima led by Shaul Mofaz, which Wednesday night was poised to scrape past the threshold with two seats. This setup would command a slim majority of 63, enough to get the 2013-2014 state budget passed by the new Knesset. This task defeated the outgoing government because some of its provisions were unacceptable to Shas and so triggered the early election.
After that, Shas would be invited to join the government on the basis of the guidelines established in stage one, and expand its parliamentary majority to 75. With Torah Judaism (7) aboard too, the third Netanyahu government would command a comfortable 82
Bennet expects his Jewish Home party to win a twelfth seat when the army ballots are counted before official election results are released Thursday. He would be strongly in line for one of the economic portfolios in the new government, commerce and industry, for instance, or even finance.
Tzipi Livni, whose Hatenuah Party fell far short of her expectations and wound up with 6 seats, has been after Lapid to set up a joint front for the cabinet negotiations with Netanyahu. She anticipates his gaining the post of acting or vice prime minister plus a key cabinet post. She would then walk through the door to her former post as foreign minister, or so she hopes.
The Future party leader and the incoming prime minister have not commented on this plan.
By Daniel Pipes
Were Barack Obama re-elected, I predicted two months before the Nov. 2012 presidential vote, "the coldest treatment of Israel ever by a U.S. president will follow." Well, election's over and that cold treatment is firmly in place. Obama has signaled in the past two months what lies ahead by:
- Choosing three senior figures – John Kerry for State, John Brennan for the CIA, and Chuck Hagel for Defense – who range from clueless to hostile about Israel.
- Approving a huge gift of advanced weapons - 20 F-16 fighter jets and 200 M1A1 Abrams tanks - to the Islamist government in Egypt despite the fact that its president, Mohamed Morsi, has becoming increasingly despotic and calls Jews "blood-suckers, … warmongers, the descendants of apes and pigs."
- Reiterating the patronizing 35-year old tactic relied upon by anti-Israel types to condemn Israeli policies while pretending to be concerned for the country's welfare: "Israel doesn't know what its own best interests are."
- Ignoring evidence of Cairo importing Scud missile parts from North Korea.
- Rebuffing the 239 House members who called for closing the PLO office in Washington in response to the PLO's drive for state-observer status at the United Nations.
Asked about Obama's nomination of Hagel, Ed Koch, the former New York City mayor who, despite his astringent criticism of Obama nonetheless endorsed him for re-election, offered an astonishing response: "I thought that there would come a time when [Obama] would renege on … his support of Israel [but this] comes a little earlier than I thought." Even Obama's pro-Israel supporters expected him to turn against the Jewish state!
These anti-Israel steps raise worries because they jibe with Obama's early anti-Zionist views. We lack specifics, but we know that he studied with, befriended, socialized, and encouraged Palestinian extremists. For example:
A picture from 1998 shows him listening reverentially to anti-Israel theorist Edward Said. Obama sat idly by as speakers at an event in 2003 celebrating Rashid Khalidi, a former PLO public relations operative, accused Israel of waging a terrorist campaign against Palestinians and compared "Zionist settlers on the West Bank" to Osama bin Laden. Ali Abunimah, an anti-Israel agitator, commended Obama in 2004 for "his call for an even-handed approach to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict," code words for distancing the U.S. government from Israel. In turn, Obama praised Abunimah for his obsessively anti-Israel articles in the Chicago Tribune, urging him to "Keep up the good work!"
Abunimah also reveals that, starting in 2002, Obama toned down his anti-Israel rhetoric "as he planned his move from small time Illinois politics to the national scene" and Obama made this explicit two years later, apologizing to Abunimah: "Hey, I'm sorry I haven't said more about Palestine right now, but we are in a tough primary race. I'm hoping when things calm down I can be more up front."
And Obama dutifully made the requisite policy changes, if in a cramped and reluctant manner ("I have to deal with him every day" he whined about Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu). He supported Israel in its 2008-09 and 2012 wars with Hamas. His administration called the Goldstone Report "deeply flawed" and backed Israel at the United Nations with lobbying efforts, votes, and vetoes.Armaments flowed. The Israeli exception to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty remained in place. When Ankara canceled Israeli participation in the 2009 "Anatolian Eagle" air force exercise, the U.S. government pulled out in solidarity. If Obama created crises over Israeli housing starts, he eventually allowed these to simmer down.
Returning to the present: Netanyahu's likely re-election as Israeli prime minister this week will mean continuity of leadership in both countries. But that does not imply continuity in U.S.-Israel relations; Obama, freed from re-election constraints, can finally express his early anti-Zionist views after a decade of political positioning. Watch for a markedly worse tone from the second Obama administration toward the third Netanyahu government.
Recalling what Obama said privately in March 2012 to the then-Russian president, Dmitry Medvedev("This is my last election and after my election, I have more flexibility"), there is every reason to think that, having won that re-election, things have now "calmed down" and, after a decade of caution, he can "be more up front" to advance the Palestinian cause against Israel.
I also predicted in September that "Israel's troubles will really begin" should Obama win a second term. These have begun; Jerusalem, brace for a rough four years.
Mr. Pipes (DanielPipes.org) is president of the Middle East Forum.--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
5)Roubini: QE ‘Zombies’ Are Coming to a Town Near You
Nouriel Roubini, the New York University economist noted for his pessimism and accurate prediction of the global financial meltdown, is worrying these days about the long-term impact of easy money policies by central banks.
Roubini said the quantitative easing (QE) programs pursued by the Federal Reserve and other central banks may overwhelm the economy with debt-strapped banks, businesses and consumers, according to The Guardian.
“Over time, you get zombie banking, zombie corporates, zombie households, which is damaging in the long term,” he told an audience at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. Zombie banks refer to financial institutions that are insolvent but are propped up by cheap money from the government.
Roubini maintained there could be unintended consequences if central bankers err in their QE exit strategies, The Guardian reported.
“You’ve got QE2, QE3, soon you’ll have QE Infinity. What’s going to happen to the regime of monetary policy?” he asked.
“Most countries had inflation targeting. Now the U.K. is talking about throwing it away. What’s going to be the new anchor? How are we going to anchor people’s expectations of inflation over time?”
Roubini was critical of the Fed’s recent vow to keep buying bonds until unemployment contracts to 6.5 percent. He said the Fed may be misjudging how far down the jobless rate can be pushed without igniting inflation.
Roubini told the Davos audience that loose monetary policy is creating a global economic system biased to creating bubbles, according to The Telegraph.
“Central bankers have affected the behavior of the private sector. They have to think about that,” he said. “As you do a slow exit out of QE you may create another bubble and make another crisis.”
Despite Roubini’s dark prophecies, The Guardian reported many policymakers and academics at Davos agreed that the short-term benefits of QE are worth the long-term risks.