Thursday, February 14, 2013

EPA Corruption, Spy World and Drone On!

Still not too late to attend:

Skidaway Island Republican Club
 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, senior editor of American Spectator,  columnist and editorial board member for The Wall Street Journal. 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). Co-wrote with James Coyne, "Cleaning House: America's Campaign for Term Limits in 1992."

Articles have appeared in Esquire,Reader's Digest, New Republic, National Review.

Born in Arizona, attended California State University, 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.

John will be speaking at The Plantation Club, Feb 18th.
Cocktails at 6: followed by dinner at 6:30.
Cost is $100/person.

His Topic:
"Visitor's Guide to an Alien Planet: Washington, D.C."

that should intrigue some people

With Obama it is always the hidden message. (See 1 below.)
This is what Dr. Ellen Cannon and Brigette Gabriel have been alluding to (See 2 below.)
Should not put on a ValentineCard! (See 3 below.)
So what's a little corruption?  (See 4 below.)

Generational theft cannot be sustained.  (See 4a below.)
Inside the world of spying. (See 5 below.)
Netanyahu, always fingered as the obstructionist .  (See 6 below.)
Drone on!  (See 7 below.)
1)State of the Union Address on Foreign Policy: Careful Phrasing Conceals Disasters
Barry Rubin - PJ Media

While the State of the Union message was overwhelmingly domestically oriented, the foreign policy sections were most interesting. I’ll review them here.
The president began in the same neo-patriotic mode  used in the second inaugural address, with a special emphasis on thanking U.S. troops. He used the imagery of the end of World War Two paralleling the return of troops from Iraq to promote his idea that the American economy must be totally restructured.
Obama defined his main successes—careful to credit the military (whose budget he seeks to cut deeply and whose health benefits he’s already reduced) rather than his usual emphasis on taking the credit for himself—were the following points:
“For the first time in nine years, there are no Americans fighting in Iraq.
“For the first time in two decades, Osama bin Laden is not a threat to this country.
“Most of Al Qaida’s top lieutenants have been defeated. The Taliban’s momentum has been broken. And some troops in Afghanistan have begun to come home.”
Now there certainly have been accomplishments on these three fronts but these claims are also profoundly misleading and very carefully worded. Let’s take them one at a time.
–It is true that U.S. forces are largely out of Iraq yet this was inevitable, with one key reservation. There was no likelihood they would be there in a large combat role forever. Whatever one thinks of the invasion of Iraq, the American forces were staying for an interim period until the Iraqi army was ready. Any successor to George W. Bush would have pulled out the combat forces.
The reservation, of course, is that it was the success of the surge—which Obama opposed and his new secretary of defense (yes, he will be confirmed) Chuck Hagel opposed. So he is taking credit for a policy that was inevitable and that was made possible by a success that he was against.
Lest you think that assessment is unfair to Obama consider this: he did absolutely nothing to make this outcome happen. No policy or strategy of his administration made the withdrawal faster or more certain.
–This is a strange phrase: “For the first time in two decades, Osama bin Laden is not a threat to this country.” It is a new way of putting the Obama killed Osama meme while hinting that al-Qaida is not a threat to the United States. Well, as Benghazi shows, al-Qaida is still a threat but wording the sentence the way Obama did implies otherwise without saying so and looking foolish at making an obviously false claim.
–Notice a very strange and ungrammatical formulation: “Most of Al Qaida’s top lieutenants have been defeated.” I think this can only be understood as an incomplete change in the traditional slogan that al-Qaida has been defeated. The administration can no longer make this argument so it is looking for something that gets in bin Ladin’s assassination and that of other al-Qaida leaders (al-Qaida has been decapitated) with hinting that al-Qaida has been defeated.
In other words, someone did a bad job of proofreading the speech. Of course, all of this glosses over the fact that al-Qaida hasn’t been defeated. It is on the march in Mali, the Gaza Strip, Somalia, Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula, Yemen, and other places.
Incidentally, al-Qaida will always be defeated politically because it has no strong political program or structure. That’s why al-Qaida kills but the Muslim Brotherhood wins. And Obama is helping the Muslim Brotherhood.
As for the Taliban, again there is a cute formulation: its “momentum has been broken.” In other words, the Taliban has survived, it is still launching attacks, and it might even take over large parts of Afghanistan after American troops leave. Momentum has been broken is just a fancy way of saying that its gaining power has been slowed down. Of course, after American troops leave, that momentum will probably speed up again.
In his second mention of foreign affairs, Obama spoke of economic issues, he says:
“My message is simple. It is time to stop rewarding businesses that ship jobs overseas and start rewarding companies that create jobs right here in America. Send me these tax reforms, and I will sign them right away.”
In fact, though, businesses are not fleeing the United States because the wages are lower there while the Obama Administration puts into effect increasingly tight and costly regulations and imposes higher costs (including the impact of Obamacare). Moreover, wages are lower overseas.
Obama’s policies don’t—in the strict sense of the term—reward businesses for shipping jobs overseas; they merely punish businesses for remaining in America. Taxing executives more while adding to the regulatory and cost burden will make things worse.
He continues:
“We’re also making it easier for American businesses to sell products all over the world. Two years ago, I set a goal of doubling U.S. exports over five years. With the bipartisan trade agreements we signed into law, we’re on track to meet that goal ahead of schedule.
“And soon there will be millions of new customers for American goods in Panama, Colombia, and South Korea. Soon, there will be new cars on the streets of Seoul imported from Detroit, and Toledo, and Chicago.”
This sounds good but it’s a fantasy. To speak of doubling U.S. exports is insane except for one point. If Obama’s policies lead to massive inflation and the decline of the dollar, foreign customers will want to unload their dollars and take advantage of relatively falling American prices. This will not, however, benefit the American people much.
If one wants to analyze Obama’s claims the auto industry is the place to start. Look at the policies of General Motors, the most favored and government-influenced of all American companies, which has shipped jobs overseas. If American cars are on those foreign streets, it will be because they were manufactured in China. (I wonder if Obama’s choice of South Korea rather than China as the Asian country in his list was deliberately made to conceal that fact.)
And then, par for the course, he announces a new and unneeded additional bureaucracy called the Trade Enforcement Unit that will carry on investigations that could be done by existing institutions.
That’s how Obama creates jobs.
He continues,
“I will not cede the wind or solar or battery industry to China or Germany because we refuse to make the same commitment here. We’ve subsidized oil companies for a century. That’s long enough.”
Well, in fact it is easy to show that his investments in wind, solar, and battery industries have been an abject failure. One would have thought Obama would avoid that topic except that his immunity to prosecution by the mass media makes him bold here. There are deep structural reasons why China is ahead—lower wages, lower costs, less regulation, and less safety. That’s not going to change. Obama is doubling down on a losing proposition.
Then he produces a real whopper:
“Ending the Iraq war has allowed us to strike decisive blows against our enemies.”
This is a coded reference to the anti-Iraq war argument that intervention in that country was tying down American forces that could be used elsewhere. Obama is saying: Now that we are out of Iraq we’ll really get those terrorists!
Yet Obama has claimed victory over the terrorists while U.S. forces in Iraq were at their height. His own statements undercut that argument. And what big new way is the United States been striking blows at its enemies since the withdrawal? I cannot think of anything (continued drone strikes in Yemen?). But if you think that the Benghazi terrorists (not the California videomaker), the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas in particular, the Syrian Brotherhood and Salafists, Hizballah, etc., are “enemies” then how has the Obama Administration escalated efforts against them now that it has pulled all those troops out of Iraq and can spare them for other operations?
Like much of Obama’s speech, if one actually pays attention to the language and claims, it dissolves into ridiculousness.
Obama continues:
“From Pakistan to Yemen, the Al-Qaida operatives who remain are scrambling, knowing that they can’t escape the reach of the United States of America.”
I see no evidence of that. The biggest hits to the al-Qaida leadership, except for the killing of bin Ladin—happened during the Bush Administration. Of course, Obama carefully picked his examples. Where other than Pakistan and Yemen might they live in fear? Certainly not in Libya.
Then we come to the “Arab Spring”:
“As the tide of war recedes, a wave of change has washed across the Middle East and North Africa, from Tunis to Cairo, from Sana’a to Tripoli.”
Obama could have said the same thing two years ago. Since then, however, the shaky coalition government in Tunisia is crumbling after the most courageous opposition leader was assassinated and the Brotherhood is tightening its hold. In Egypt, the Brotherhood is in power and at the very moment Obama was speaking was engaged in repressing street protests. In Yemen, substantially nothing has changed. In Tripoli (it was wise not to mention Libya’s other main city, Benghazi) there is a reasonable level of success.
Perhaps the greatest change in governance has come in Iraq, but Obama doesn’t want to mention that because that would imply a tip of the hat to George W. Bush. By the way, is Obama going to urge Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian Authority leader, to hold elections when he visits Ramallah in late March? He’s still governing three years after his term ended.
It was wise for Obama to emphasize who is leaving rather than who is coming into power:
“A year ago, Gadhafi was one of the world’s longest-serving dictators, a murderer with American blood on his hands. Today, he is gone.”
Hm, someone in Libya with “American blood on his hands”? Glad there’s nobody like that around anymore!
“And in Syria, I have no doubt that the Assad regime will soon discover that the forces of change cannot be reversed and that human dignity cannot be denied.”
Oh, I’ll bet that a lot of Syrians are going to learn that human dignity can be denied in the face of ethnic massacres and a new regime where the Muslim Brotherhood rules and Salafists run around free to do as they please. (Though for U.S. interests it will be an improvement things could have been much better if America helped the moderates instead of the Islamists.)
“And while it’s ultimately up to the people of the region to decide their fate, we will advocate for those values that have served our own country so well. We will stand against violence and intimidation. We will stand for the rights and dignity of all human beings, men and women, Christians, Muslims, and Jews. We will support policies that lead to strong and stable democracies and open markets, because tyranny is no match for liberty.”
Strange, but the democratic opposition movements say the precise opposite. See for example the open letter to Obama, written in the last few days, by an Egyptian human rights’ activist begging the president to stop helping and praising the oppressive forces!
“And we will safeguard America’s own security against those who threaten our citizens, our friends, and our interests. Look at Iran. Through the power of our diplomacy, a world that was once divided about how to deal with Iran’s nuclear program now stands as one. The regime is more isolated than ever before. Its leaders are faced with crippling sanctions. And as long as they shirk their responsibilities, this pressure will not relent. Let there be no doubt: America is determined to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon, and I will take no options off the table to achieve that goal.”
But Iran will get nuclear weapons, it continues working on them at a full pace, and you will spend this year in fruitless negotiations to try to persuade them to stop.
“The renewal of American leadership can be felt across the globe. Our oldest alliances in Europe and Asia are stronger than ever. Our ties to the Americas are deeper. Our iron-clad commitment — and I mean iron-clad — to Israel’s security has meant the closest military cooperation between our two countries in history.”
Really? That’s not what I hear from people all over the world. It is the absence of American leadership they feel, sometimes to their great cost. Ask the Poles, and the Czechs, and the Saudis, and the democratic oppositionists in Iran and Syria, and so on. Ask the Peruvians and the Colombians if they feel American leadership is protecting them from Venezuela and other radical forces in the region.
And it is true that military cooperation with Israel is good—which is to say, normal not the greatest in history—but what Israeli leader believes that Obama can be relied on?  The ones I speak to usually say something like this: “I never thought I’d see the day when we couldn’t depend on America.”
Incidentally, a number of analyses I’ve seen since writing this article emphasize Obama’s nice sentence about Israel as it is of great importance or is some kind of revelation. For goodness sakes, it is standard–even though he repeated the word “iron-clad”–and denotes absolutely nothing new. I don’t think Obama will do much in regards to bilateral relations but let’s be frank here: Since Obama believes he knows better what Israel security needs are than do its leaders then anything he does is “pro-Israel” even if it is against Israel’s will. I’m not trying to make any dramatic point here–again, bilateral relations will continue to be okay–but to point out the bizarre way Obama’s statements get interpreted in order to praise him. The same applies to his standard sentence on keeping all options open regarding Iran’s nuclear program.
“From the coalitions we’ve built to secure nuclear materials, to the missions we’ve led against hunger and disease, from the blows we’ve dealt our enemies, to the enduring power of our moral example, America is back. Anyone who tells you otherwise, anyone who tells you that America is in decline or that our influence has waned, doesn’t know what they’re talking about.”
Think about the kind of mental construct that could produce this paragraph, which is unintentionally revealing. It shows Obama’s pattern of either refusing to acknowledge legitimate dissent (all the experts agree with me) and that he knows best (Israel doesn’t know what’s good for itself).
Yes, Mr. President, a lot of people around the world don’t think that America is back or that it still protects their back. And they do know what they are talking about and can cite many specific examples from your administration.
The next paragraph requires no comment from me. See if you can finish it and not be laughing:
“That’s why, working with our military leaders, I’ve proposed a new defense strategy that ensures we maintain the finest military in the world, while saving nearly half a trillion dollars in our budget.”
Not budget cuts to the military but “saving” money. So that it can be spent on green energy projects?

2)Muslim Brotherhood Memo Circa 1991: How To Take Over America Without Anyone Even Noticing

The Holy Land Foundation Trial in Texas is turning over some very big rocks, and we get to see what slimy creatures are crawling around beneath.
For instance, the Muslim Brotherhood outlined their goal to take over America through non-violent means in a memo which was revealed just within the past few days.
“Our strategy is this,” President Bush said last month. “We will fight them over there so we do not have to face them in the United States of America.”
He was talking about jihadists, of course. And Mr. Bush is behind the curve. The president apparently missed the smoking-gun 1991 document his own Justice Department introduced into evidence at the Holy Land Foundation trial in Dallas. The FBI captured it in a raid on a Muslim suspect’s home in Virginia.
This “explanatory memorandum,” as it’s titled, outlines the “strategic goal” for the North American operation of the extremist Muslim Brotherhood (Ikhwan). Here’s the key paragraph:
The process of settlement [of Islam in the United States] is a “Civilization-Jihadist” process with all the word means. The Ikhwan must understand that all their work in America is a kind of grand Jihad in eliminating and destroying the Western civilization from within and “sabotaging” their miserable house by their hands and the hands of the believers so that it is eliminated and God’s religion is made victorious over all religions. Without this level of understanding, we are not up to this challenge and have not prepared ourselves for Jihad yet. It is a Muslim’s destiny to perform Jihad and work wherever he is and wherever he lands until the final hour comes, and there is no escape from that destiny except for those who choose to slack.
The entire 18-page platform outlines a plan for the long haul. It prescribes the Muslim Brotherhood’s comprehensive plan to set down roots in civil society. It begins by both founding and taking control of American Muslim organizations, for the sake of unifying and educating the U.S. Muslim community – this to prepare it for the establishment of a global Islamic state governed by sharia.
It sounds like a conspiracy theory out of a bad Hollywood movie – but it’s real. Husain Haqqani, head of Boston University’s Center for International Relations and a former Islamic radical, confirms that the Brotherhood “has run most significant Muslim organizations in the U.S.” as part of the plan outlined in the strategy paper.


3)He said to me. ... What have you been doing with all the grocery money I gave you?
I said to him... Turn sideways and look in the mirror! 

He said to me... Why is it difficult to find men who are sensitive, caring and Good- looking?
I said to him... They already have boyfriends.

He said...What do you call a woman who knows where her husband is every night?
I said... A widow.

     He said to me... Why are married women heavier than single women?
I said to him ...
 Single women come home, see what's in the fridge and go to bed. 
Married women come home, see what's in bed and go to the fridge. 
4)EPA Corruption and Scandal
Jim O'Sullivan
The EPA and Ms. Lisa Jackson, its chief, have committed extensive violations of law that should receive in-depth scrutiny from Congress, law enforcement and the American people.  Yes the Obama administration has yet another serious scandal on their hands.  The scandal features a fantasy administrator, 'Richard Windsor', and 'his' email account.  The account was established and used by Ms. Jackson to camouflage controversial EPA processes, discussions, decisions and accountability.  To date the known evidence suggests violations of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), mail and wire fraud laws.  Additionally it surfaces another example of the Obama administration's epidemic chicanery with the law, Congress and the Constitution and another failure to keep faith with the American people. 
Upon closer inspection the EPA like the GSA and other Obama administration agencies, demonstrates a lack of managerial/administrative control.  It also exhibited a culture of obfuscation, malfeasance and corruption that did not blossom overnight.  And like other Obama scandals, the mainstream media has again decided to cover it with their much practiced three monkey act.
For perspective a little recent history is in order.  Lisa Jackson, who is departing the EPA, stated in November of 2011 that,
"...What EPA's role is to do is to level the playing field so that pollution costs are not exported to the population but rather companies have to look at pollution potential of any fuel or any process or any plant or utility when their making investment decisions." 
Simply translated Ms. Jackson makes clear that her job and the EPA's are to hurt companies/industries that produce energy counter to the wishes of the Obama administration (and the left's agenda).  Ms. Jackson also demonstrates a very low economic IQ, since higher costs incurred by energy companies will be passed to end users/consumers.
Coupling her statement with President Obama's pronouncement of a year ago, i.e. "Where Congress is not willing to act, we're going to go ahead and do it ourselves"... exposes his strategy to "legislate" by regulation and executive order (with Jackson and the heads of other agencies helping).  Although Obama indicated it would be "nice" to work with Congress, his intentions are to evade the two centuries-old legislative process of the Constitution and impose his will on all Americans.  The EPA under Jackson has become a key bludgeon in this political and ideological power grab and has used illegal methods in the effort.
President Obama's inaugural speech noted the environment may receive emphasis during his second term.  Obama opined that Americans have an obligation to posterity to "respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations".  Obama immediately followed with a pitch for sustainable energy, e.g. wind, solar and bio (and more crony capitalism?).  Remember this is the man that promoted cap and trade legislation early in his initial term when the economy was "nearing a depression."  
An administration's ability to regulate in the extreme and by executive action has evolved slowly over the past 70 years, gaining momentum after the Reagan years.  The Congress and our courts have ceded appreciable power to the Executive branch and government agencies by enacting laws with little oversight and that rely heavily on internal agency inspectors such as the EPA's Inspector General.  Further the courts have exhibited discomfort in reining in other government branches unless egregious actions are uncovered.  The Supreme Court's twisted logic/argument to find ObamaCare constitutional demonstrates the discomfort.
Now due to a whistleblower and the Competitive Enterprise Institute and Christopher Horner's investigative work a federal court (U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit) has ruled that the EPA must turn over 12,000 "Richard Windsor" emails in four 3,000 email batches.  The first group of emails released totaled a mere 2,100 and not one was from "Richard Windsor."  In a cover letter Ms. Jackson insisted that she only used one government account for EPA business even though this directly contradicted her earlier admission that she used "Richard Windsor" for internal EPA discussions.  The release makes clear that the EPA and Jackson have taken to the foxholes and a full denial/stonewalling mode is now in effect.  Thus the Competitive Enterprise Institute has brought another action against the EPA in the Appeals Court to force immediate release.
Remember, the EPA has an impact on every American with a tsunami of regulation that is both costly and arguably infringing on our constitutional rights.  Moreover the agency has presided over an attempt to bankrupt the coal industry, close coal burning plants, and drive up to cost of motor fuels -- negatively impacting job creation, the economic recovery and America's energy security.  The estimatedcosts of EPA regulations range from $353 billion (Competitive Enterprise Institute) to $460 billion (The American Action Forum) and are growing like a malignant cancer.   These costs represent from 20% to 26% of the total cost of US regulations, estimated at $1.75 trillion, and are cited in a World Economic Forum report as a key reason for a sluggish recovery and daunting unemployment.  For comparison, these costs are appreciably higher than Health and Human Services regulatory costs estimated at $184.8 billion (the 2nd highest).   
The EPA under Jackson's ideological direction has taken a leadership position in exploding these costs.  EPA costs have essentially four components; direct, myriad enforcement costs, permit action reviews and other non-rule making costs.  Yet the EPA in its cost-benefit analyses insists that the benefits of its actions are at worst three dollars in benefits to one in costs.  President Obama has stated on the stump that some regulations show returns of benefits to costs at a ratio of 25 to 1.  The EPA's analyses essentially only deal with direct costs; not the others noted.  Moreover many of the assumptions used in the analyses are ludicrous and defy common sense (see).  Credible sources outside of government emphatically disagree and posit that the EPA almost always under estimates costs and dramatically over estimates benefits...with the true net seldom being a positive.
Recently the EPA has ruled -- without that power being granted by Congress -- that automobile maker fleet mileage standards must rise to 54 miles per gallon (adding costs per vehicle of $2,100 to $3,000)...that run-off rain water is a pollutant (vacated by the D.C. Federal Appeals Court)...that lands could not be sold if certain wastes were present theoretically to prevent 0.59 cancer cases per year (about 3 cases every 5 years)costing  $194 to $219 million annually. 
Further "sue and settle", a scam, has become a common tool of the EPA's to impose oppressive mandates on targeted businesses with incalculable costs.  To implement the scam, the EPA has an environmental or advocacy group file a suit claiming the federal government has failed to satisfy some EPA regulatory requirement.  The EPA can choose to defend itself or settle the suit.  The "solution" is to put in place a "court ordered regulation" requested by the advocacy group...neat, relatively fast and illegal.     
But more shockingly the EPA doles out hundreds of millions of dollars every year to certain organizations.  The funds are awarded with no notice, accountability or competition according to the Government Accountability Office.  The monies almost always go to favored entities that in some instances have used the funds for non-environmental purposes.
 In sum the EPA, in particular, has severely reduced our nation's competitiveness as measured by the 2013 Index of Economic Freedom.  The index places the U.S. behind nations like Chile and Denmark and in tenth place worldwide.   
The EPA's record of sleaziness, its disregard for transparency, its lack of basic integrity, its fraudulent estimation of costs/benefits and now its attempt to defy and evade a Federal Court order (and by extension FOIA, mail and wire fraud laws) combines both inbred corruption and serious scandal.  Together these faults suggest that it may be time to dismantle the agency. 
Other federal agencies, not just the EPA, have exhibited this general penchant for ignoring Congress, the courts, the law and the American people. This systemic and widespread disregard suggests the approval of a higher governmental authority...the office of the President.

4a)Generational Theft Needs to Be Arrested

A Democrat, an independent and a Republican agree: Government spending levels are unsustainable.

We come from different backgrounds, parties and pursuits but are bound by a common belief in the promise and purpose of America. After all, each of us has been the beneficiary of the choices made—and opportunities created—by previous generations of Americans.

One of us grew up poor in the South Bronx of the 1960s and went on to lead a children's antipoverty program in Harlem. Another grew up in a small town in South Jersey, and went on to be a leading money manager. The third grew up in a small suburb in upstate New York and found his way to serve in the government amid the financial crisis.

One of us is a Democrat; one, an independent; another, a Republican. Yet, together, we recognize several hard truths: Government spending levels are unsustainable. Higher taxes, however advisable or not, fail to come close to solving the problem. Discretionary spending must be reduced but without harming the safety net for our most vulnerable, or sacrificing future growth (e.g., research and education). Defense andhomeland security spending should not be immune to reductions. Most consequentially, the growth in spending on entitlement programs—Social Security, Medicaid and Medicare—must be curbed.

These truths are not born of some zeal for austerity or unkindness, but of arithmetic. The growing debt burden threatens to crush the next generation of Americans.

Coming out of the most recent elections, no consensus emerged either to reform the welfare state or to pay for it. And too many politicians appear unwilling to level with Americans about the challenges and choices confronting the United States. The failure to be forthright on fiscal policy is doing grievous harm to the country's long-term growth prospects. And the greatest casualties will be young Americans of all stripes who want—and need—an opportunity to succeed.

Three main infirmities plague Washington and constitute a clear and present danger to the prospects for the next generation.

First, the country's existing entitlement programs are not just unaffordable, they are also profoundly unfair to those who are taking their first steps in search of opportunity. Social Security is one example. According to Social Security actuaries, the generational theft runs deep. Young people now entering the workforce will actually lose 4.2% of their total lifetime wages because of their participation in Social Security. A typical third-grader will get back (in present value terms) only 75 cents for every dollar he contributes to Social Security over his lifetime. Meanwhile, many seniors with greater means nearing retirement age will pocket a handsome profit. Health-care spending through Medicare represents an even less equitable story.

The government has an obligation, of course, to support needy seniors. But this pension system is ripe for common-sense reforms, including changing eligibility ages and benefit structures for those with greater means, ridding the Social Security disability program of pervasive fraud, and removing disincentives for those who would rather work in their later years.

Powerful, vested interests portray reformers as avowed enemies of seniors. But, the status quo is, in fact, tantamount to saddling school-age children with more debt, weaker economic growth, and fewer opportunities for jobs and advancement.

Second, while many in Washington pay lip service to the long term, few act on it. The nation's debt clock garners far less attention than the "fiscal cliff" clock. Elected officials continue to allow the immediate to trump the important. Washington appears poised to forego fundamental reform at the altar of the expedient, yet again. This could have tragic consequences.

In successive administrations, the country has spent trillions in temporary tax credits and short-term "stimulus" to goose growth by the next election. What do we have to show for this spending surge? Modest growth, declining incomes and a level of national debt that undermine our long-term prospects.

The Federal Reserve's policies reinforce this short-term orientation. To offset weak economic conditions, the Fed's principal policy objectives appear to be twofold: suppress interest rates and raise stock prices. As a result Congress may be missing market signals and failing to see the costs of its spending addiction in time to undertake real reforms. Ultimately, economic fundamentals—not the promises of central banks—will determine the prices of stocks and bonds.

But the deeper failing is one of essential fairness. The benefits of rising stock prices accrue to those who have already amassed wealth at the expense of those who are struggling to save. And failing to deal with runaway spending will burden the country's children with higher interest rates and a debt bomb that will come due in their lifetimes.

Third, too many politicians appear more eager to divide the spoils of electoral victory among their own than to increase the size of the economic pie for all. The grab-bag of special tax favors under the guise of the recent fiscal-cliff deal is only the latest example.

Crony capitalism and corporate welfare aren't just expenses we cannot afford. They are an anathema to economic growth. They deny opportunities to aspiring people and companies who seek to better their lot. They ration opportunity based on things other than merit and hard work. They further ensure that poor children—who already are disadvantaged by failing schools, inadequate health care and little access to necessary resources—will never get the chance to break the cycle of generational poverty through education.

Some individual Americans are surely better off than they were many years ago. The more probing question is whether America is better off. That can only be true if the hopes and aspirations of the next generation are achievable.

The country must find the courage, conviction and compassion to fix what ails it. The opportunity to advance real reform is still possible. But failure to reform the entitlement culture, reaffirm long-run objectives, and re-establish a common purpose will mean a dimming of opportunities for American children today and for future generations. And a great nation will have ceded more than its greatness, but its goodness.
Mr. Canada is president of the Harlem Children's Zone. Mr. Druckenmiller is the former president of Duquesne Capital. Mr. Warsh is a former Federal Reserve governor.
5)The dark labyrinth of straw companies in which Ben Zygier worked

If Ben Zygier-Alon was indeed identified as “one of three Australian-Israeli citizens working for the Mossad under the cover of a European front company that sold electronic equipment to Iran” – as claimed to the Guardian by the Australian journalist, Jason Koutsoukis - that would explain why he blew up when the journalist asked him in early 2010 if he was a Mossad spy.

It would mean that he was spotted as a member of the anonymous army of tens of thousands of Americans, Israelis, Brits, Dutch, Iranians – and the list goes on and on – employed in running straw companies operated by the world’s spy agencies.

In the world of commerce, the “straw company” exists to deceive business competitors, uncover their trade secrets and patents, or pretend to be working on one product while working surreptitiously on another. Some American firms run hundreds of straw companies quite openly; others register shelf companies ready for sale or resale for profit.
In connection to Ben Zygier, straw companies, like “the European front company,” where he was sighted, are an extremely important tool for spy agencies in the performance of three basic undercover functions:

1. To infiltrate scientific, technological, financial, medical, educational and commercial industries and dig out their secrets. Many big companies work hand in glove with some intelligence service.
These straw companies are a major source of information. Take, for example, the Washington Post disclosure of Thursday, February 14, that last year, Iran tried to purchase via Chinese companies 100,000 magnetic rings to be used in the production of 50,000 new, rapid centrifuges.

To dodge UN sanctions on this product, Iran probably struck a deal with the Chinese company to keep their order secret. But Tehran knew that no Chinese firm manufactures magnetic rings of the type they need on this scale and that the firm would have to cast its nets far and wide to find enough magnetic rings of the requisite quality – and at a low enough price to give them a fat profit on the deal.
In no time, the search was bound to reach the ears of Washington and Tel Aviv and tell them that Iran is about to substantially increase its stock of high-speed centrifuges for enriching uranium.
The Washington Post disclosure marked the end of the complicated Chinese-Iranian deal for the acquisition of magnetic rings and the game by which it filtered through straw companies.
When Tehran approached the Chinese firm a year ago, it touched off a clandestine race involving hundreds if not thousands of secret agents from dozens of countries. Some tried chasing up the magnetic rings to meet the Iranian order; others, to block the sale; and a third group tried palming off on the Chinese firm flawed products that would sabotage the Iranian centrifuges when used.

The third task would not have been a walkover. Neither the Chinese nor the Iranians are gullible customers. Both are savvy enough to demand samples for stringent testing – first in China, then in Iran.
Tehran was burnt once by the Stuxnet malworm invasion which messed up the computer systems running the centrifuges and does not mean to be burned again.

Anyway, the number of companies with the technology for manufacturing magnetic rings with undetectable flaws can be counted on less than five fingers.
If it can be achieved, the next stage in the game would be to obscure the source – presumably Israel or the US. For this cover-up, many more straw companies would have gone into action – some in corners far from the Middle East, which could be Iceland or Vietnam, or even Timbuktu – nothing is beyond the realm of imagination for the straw company industry that serves world intelligence services.

This industry has two additional functions:
1. Some are on the level and designed to generate real profits to bankroll some of the spy agencies’ clandestine operations.

2.  The manpower they employ is a pool for recruiting agents for long, short-term or ad hoc missions.
Straw companies which fail to perform usually sink without a trace.
In the murky world of double agents, no one can be sure who is serving whom at any given time. So, too, some straw companies serve many spymasters - whether as their operating method or out of greed.  Their real loyalties are carefully muddied over.

There is no credible information about Ben Zygier Alon’s undercover mission or how he came to land in the high-security Israeli prison cell in which he died two years ago.
But some of the details percolating through about his exploits as a spy suggest he may have found himself mixed up in this kind of vortex and, instead of jumping out, decided on his own bat to follow through all the way to a certain objective – and got caught. At that point, his fate as a secret agent would have been sealed and the secrets he carried for the government which employed him sacrificed.
6)Of course Netanyahu's the Obstacle to Two-State Solution
By Jonathan Tobin
Too bad the chattering class' 'facts' can't be substantiated

Listen to anyone in the liberal chattering classes talk about the Middle East and there's little doubt about who is to blame for the lack of peace between Israel and the Palestinians: Benjamin Netanyahu. According to the conventional wisdom spouted by most daily editorial pages, not to mention the many foreign cheerleaders for the Palestinians, the Israeli prime minister is alleged to be an intransigent foe of peace talks that has single-handed stopped progress toward peace. That this contradicts the facts about Netanyahu as well as ignores the record of the Palestinians doesn't seem to bother anyone who spread this disinformation. So no one should be surprised if Netanyahu's latest affirmation of his support for a two-state solution and call for talks with the Palestinians without preconditions doesn't change anyone's mind.
For those paying attention to what is actually going on, as opposed to Palestinian propaganda, Netanyahu gave a watershed speech back in 2009 at Bar-Ilan University in which he formally embraced the two-state concept. Since then he has constantly asked Palestinian Authority head Mahmoud Abbas to come back to the negotiating table that he fled in 2008 when Ehud Olmert offered him an independent state including nearly all of the West Bank, Gaza and Jerusalem. As Ynet reported, the prime minister said he stood by his Bar-Ilan speech:

Addressing the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations in Jerusalem's Inbal Hotel, Netanyahu said he still stands by his 2009 Bar-Ilan speech where he backed the concept of two states for two peoples.
"I believe that a framework to peace (with the Palestinians) is what I outlined in my speech in Bar-Ilan University — two states for two peoples: A demilitarized Palestinian state that recognizes the Jewish state." Netanyahu's critics claim that his acceptance of two states hinges on conditions that are impossible for the Palestinians to accept. But in contrast to Abbas, Netanyahu is prepared to negotiate without preconditions. The Palestinians are not being asked to pledge anything in advance of talks. It is, in fact, the PA that insists that the Israelis must concede the entire substance of the negotiations on territory, settlements, borders and everything else in advance of Abbas deigning to rejoin the peace process.
Though it is true that much of Netanyahu's constituency is uncomfortable with the idea of a Palestinian state, where Abbas, or any Palestinian leader ready to actually end the conflict and recognize the legitimacy of a Jewish state, no matter where its borders were drawn, no Israeli government could possibly refuse them. But despite repeated Israeli offers of a state, the Palestinians continue to refuse to talk, let alone sign off on a permanent peace accord.
Nor is it reasonable to argue, as many of Netanyahu's critics do, that settlement building approved by his government makes peace impossible. The construction of homes in Jerusalem and the major settlement blocs that any putative peace accord, even the one put forward by Israeli leftists at Geneva a few years ago, would place inside Israel would not stop the Palestinians from establishing their state in the parts of the country that would go to them.
That's why the talk about President Obama needing to prod Netanyahu to make peace or return to negotiations that has been heard since the Israeli election makes no sense. Even when Netanyahu did agree to an unnecessary settlement freeze, the Palestinians still refused to negotiate.
The PA didn't have to go to the UN to get their state. Nor do they require American or European pressure on Israel to achieve their goal of independence. They need only be willing to give up on the dream of replacing Israel with a Palestinian state instead of having one alongside it. Their failure to do so is why most Israelis have lost interest in the peace process. Nor has it escaped their notice that the independent Palestinian state in all but name that currently exists in Gaza is a launching pad for terror attacks on Israel rather than a place where development takes priority over the long war against the Jews. Rather than placing pressure on Netanyahu to do what he has already promised, the U.S. government and those putting forward canards about Netanyahu need to learn the same lesson start paying attention to the Palestinians.
The case for the use of drones is clear, but the DOJ didn’t make it.
By Charles Krauthammer

The nation’s vexation over the morality and legality of President Obama’s drone war has produced a salutary but hopelessly confused debate. Three categories of questions are being asked. They must be separated to be clearly understood.

1. By what right does the president order the killing by drone of enemies abroad? What criteria justify assassination?

Answer: (a) imminent threat, under the doctrine of self-defense, and (b) affiliation with al-Qaeda, under the laws of war
Imminent threat is obvious. If we know a freelance jihadist cell in Yemen is actively plotting an attack, we don’t have to wait until after the fact. Elementary self-defense justifies attacking first.
Al-Qaeda is a different matter. We are in a mutual state of war. Osama bin Laden issued his fatwa declaring war on the United States in 1996; we reciprocated three days after 9/11 with Congress’s Authorization for Use of Military Force — against al-Qaeda and those who harbor and abet it.
Regarding al-Qaeda, therefore, imminence is not required. Its members are legitimate targets, day or night, awake or asleep. Nothing new here. In World War II, we bombed German and Japanese barracks without hesitation.

Unfortunately, Obama’s Justice Department memos justifying the drone attacks are hopelessly muddled. They imply that the sole justification for drone attack is imminent threat — and since al-Qaeda is plotting all the time, an al-Qaeda honcho sleeping in his bed is therefore a legitimate target.

Nonsense. Slippery nonsense. It gives the impression of an administration making up criteria to fit the president’s kill list. No need to confuse categories. A sleeping Anwar al-Awlaki could lawfully be snuffed not because of imminence but because he was a self-declared al-Qaeda member and thus an enemy combatant as defined by congressional resolution and the laws of war.

2. But al-Awlaki was no ordinary enemy. He was a U.S. citizen. By what right does the president order the killing by drone of an American? Where’s the due process?

Answer: Once you take up arms against the United States, you become an enemy combatant, thereby forfeiting the privileges of citizenship and the protections of the Constitution, including due process. You retain only the protection of the laws of war — no more and no less than those of your foreign comrades-in-arms.

Lincoln steadfastly refused to recognize the Confederacy as a separate nation. The soldiers that his Union Army confronted at Antietam were American citizens (in rebellion) — killed without due process. Nor did the Americans storming German bunkers at Normandy inquire before firing if there were any German-Americans among them — to be excused for gentler treatment while the other Germans were mowed down.

3. Who has the authority to decide life-and-death targeting?

In war, the ultimate authority is always the commander-in-chief and those in the lawful chain of command to whom he has delegated such authority.

This looks troubling: Obama sitting alone in the Oval Office deciding what individuals to kill. But how is that different from Lyndon Johnson sitting in his office choosing bombing targets in North Vietnam?

Moreover, we firebombed entire cities in World War II. Who chose? Commanders under the ultimate authority of the president. No judicial review, no outside legislative committee, no secret court, no authority above the president.

Okay, you say. But today’s war is entirely different: no front line, no end in sight.
So what? It’s the jihadists who decided to make the world a battlefield and to wage war in perpetuity. Until they abandon the field, what choice do we have but to carry the fight to them?
We have our principles and precedents for lawful warmaking, and a growing body of case law for the more vexing complexities of the present war — for example, the treatment of suspected terrorists apprehended on U.S. soil. The courts having granted them varying degrees of habeas corpus protection, it is obvious that termination by drone is forbidden — unless Congress and the courts decide otherwise, which, short of a Taliban invasion from New Brunswick, is inconceivable.

Now, for those who believe that the war on terror is not war but law enforcement, (a) I concede that they will find the foregoing analysis to be useless and (b) I assert that they are living on a different and distant planet.

For us earthlings, on the other hand, the case for Obama’s drone war is clear. Pity that his Justice Department couldn’t make it.

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