March 2009 Archives

EVEN IF WE CAN BORROW IT, WE SHOULDN'T

Power Line made this accurate observation about the massive debt the U.S. is incurring that will be the burden of our grandchildren to pay off:

What most Americans may not yet understand is that the vast majority of the debt that the Obama administration intends to incur, not just this year but for years to come--assuming it can find the requisite creditors--has nothing to do with the present financial crisis. Rather, Obama intends to finance a grotesquely swollen federal government, with socialized medicine just one item on the agenda, by borrowing the money. How to pay it back? Hey, not our problem--Obama will be out of office by 2017 at the latest, so paying off trillions in needless debt will be up to our children.

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Heritage Foundation chart

TREACHERY IN THE WHITE HOUSE

The Obama Administration has thrown in its lot with those who are anxious to appease Iran, Syria and Hamas. The 60-year relationship of America and Israel is coming to an end as Obama prefers to deal with Israel's Middle East enemies. Obama leaves Israel alone to fit its genocidal enemies.


Column One: Hamas's free lunch

Mar. 19, 2009
Caroline Glick , THE JERUSALEM POST

Today Hamas stands on the cusp of international acceptance. It may take a week or a month or a year, but today Hamas stands where Fatah and the PLO stood in the late 1980s. The genocidal jihadist terror group is but a step away from an invitation to the Oval Office. Two events in the past week show this to be the case.

First, last Saturday, The Boston Globe reported that Paul Volcker, who serves as President Barack Obama's economic recovery adviser, and several former senior US officials have written a letter to Obama calling for the US to recognize Hamas. As one of the signatories, Brent Scowcroft, who was national security adviser under president George H.W. Bush, explained, "I see no reason not to talk to Hamas."

Scowcroft further argued, "The main gist is that you need to push hard on the Palestinian peace process. Don't move it to end of your agenda and say you have too much to do. And the US needs to have a position, not just hold their coats while they sit down."

Congressional sources claim that Obama has selected Scowcroft to replace Chas Freeman as chairman of the National Intelligence Council.

The second reason that it is becoming apparent that the Obama administration is poised to recognize Hamas is that on Thursday, Egyptian intelligence chief Omar Suleiman held talks at the State Department with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and enjoined the administration to support the reestablishment of a Hamas-Fatah unity government to control and reunify the Palestinian Authority in Gaza and Judea and Samaria.

This is significant because it is becoming apparent that top administration officials only meet with people who tell them what they want to hear.

Case in point is IDF Chief of General Staff Lt. Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi's trip this week to Washington. Ashkenazi went to the US to brief top administration officials on Iran's progress toward a nuclear bomb. Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Ashkenazi's counterpart, Adm. Michael Mullen, both managed to be out of town. Defense Ministry sources say that Ashkenazi only met with National Security Adviser James Jones, who reportedly wished to speak exclusively about the Palestinians, and with Clinton's Iran adviser Dennis Ross, whose role in shaping US policy toward Iran remains unclear.

Hamas, for its part, prefers the unconditional recognition recommended by Scowcroft and Volcker and their colleagues, (who include unofficial Obama advisers Zbigniew Brzezinski and Lee Hamilton), over the option of forming a government with Fatah. After all, why should Hamas agree to share power with Fatah to gain international acceptance if Washington power brokers close to the administration endorse unconditional recognition of the terror group?

Scowcroft's statement that recognition of Hamas is necessary because "you need to push hard on the Palestinian peace process" is indicative of how Obama's milieu views the peace process. For them, pushing hard on the peace process is more important than determining or even caring if the Palestinians involved in the said process are genocidal terror groups or not, or determining or even caring whether the said peace process has any chance whatsoever of leading to peace.

AND THE Obama view is not particularly new. After Hamas won the 2006 Palestinian elections, in the interest of the peace process, the US and the EU placed certain conditions on Hamas which they claimed it would have to meet before the West would recognize it.

The US and Europe said they would recognize Hamas if it announced that it forswore terror, accepted Israel's right to exist, and committed itself to carrying out previous agreements signed between the PLO and Israel. The Americans and the Europeans undoubtedly viewed these conditions as a low bar to cross. After all, the PLO crossed it.

The West's conditions were given with a wink and a nod. Everyone understood that the only thing it wanted was for Hamas to say the magic words. They didn't have to be true. If Khaled Mashaal and Ismail Haniyeh would just tell the US and Europe what they wanted to hear, all would be forgiven. Hamas - like the PLO before it - would be removed from the US and European terror lists. Billions would pour into the bank accounts of Hamas leaders in Gaza and Damascus. The CIA might even agree to train its terror forces.

It is obvious that all that the West wanted was for Hamas to lie to it, because that is all it ever required from the PLO. After Yasser Arafat said the magic words, the Americans and the Europeans were only too happy to ignore the fact that he was lying.

When immediately after signing the initial peace accord with Israel on the White House lawn on September 13, 1993, Arafat flew to South Africa and gave a speech calling for jihad against Israel, no one cared.

When Arafat destroyed the free press in Judea, Samaria and Gaza and transformed the Palestinian media into propaganda organs calling for the eradication of Israel and the Jewish people, the world yawned.

When he launched his terror war against Israel and his US-trained forces began plotting and carrying out bombings of Israeli civilians, the US announced its chief goal in the Middle East was to establish a Palestinian state.

And when Arafat's successor, Mahmoud Abbas, announced that Fatah didn't accept Israel's right to exist and considered terrorism against Israel legitimate, he was declared the indispensable and sole legitimate Palestinian leader. Indeed, when his US-trained forces surrendered to Hamas in Gaza without a fight, the US showered an additional $80 million on Fatah forces.

ON TUESDAY, Fatah strongman and the West's favorite son of Palestine Muhammad Dahlan tried to explain the facts of life to Hamas.

In an interview on PA television, Dahlan became the first senior Fatah official to openly admit that Fatah has never accepted Israel's right to exist. Dahlan denied reports that in the negotiations toward a Hamas-Fatah government, Fatah representatives are pressuring Hamas to recognize Israel. In his words, "I want to say in my own name and in the name of all my fellow members of the Fatah movement, we are not asking Hamas to recognize Israel's right to exist. Rather, we are asking Hamas not to do so because Fatah never recognized Israel's right to exist."

Dahlan went on to explain how the fiction worked. Arafat was the head of the PLO but also the head of Fatah. While as chairman of the PLO he recognized Israel and pledged to end terrorism and live at peace with the Jewish state, as head of Fatah he continued his war against Israel. Dahlan even bragged that to date, Fatah has killed 10 times more Palestinians suspected of cooperating with Israel's counterterror operations (the same operations the PLO committed to assisting) than Hamas has.

Dahlan explained that all Hamas needs to do is to follow in Fatah's footsteps. It should say that the PA government accepts the West's terms, but in the meantime, those terms will remain inapplicable to Hamas as a "resistance group." In that way, Dahlan explained, Hamas will be able to receive all the West's billions in financial assistance.

As he put it, "Do you imagine that Gaza's reconstruction is possible under the shadow of this bickering between us and the international community? [Gaza reconstruction] can only be dealt with by a government... that is acceptable to the international community so that we can... benefit from the international community."

Not surprisingly, Dahlan's statement went almost completely unnoted. Only The Jerusalem Post and one or two other Jewish publications and a few anti-jihadist blogs made note of it. The US, European and pro-peace process Hebrew media all ignored it. No government spokesman anywhere in the world commented on it.

Unfortunately, though, for the likes of Dahlan and his admirers in the West, Hamas isn't interested in joining Fatah's fiction. It refuses to say those magic words. So now the West looks for ways to lower its bar still further.

THE WEST'S nonresponse to Dahlan's statements, like its growing eagerness to treat with Hamas despite Hamas's unabashed refusal to even lie about its intentions, tells us something important about what the West is actually doing when it says that its paramount interest is to advance the so-called peace process. It tells us the same thing that the West's courtship of Damascus and Teheran tells us about what the West means when it speaks of peace processes.

Syrian President Bashar Assad this week told Italy's La Repubblica newspaper that he and outgoing Prime Minister Ehud Olmert were just a stone's throw away from a peace deal last year. Last week Assad participated in what was supposed to be an anti-Iranian conference in Saudi Arabia.

Both of Assad's gestures were meant to make the Americans feel comfortable as they renew their diplomatic relations with Syria, cast aside their backing for the UN tribunal set up to investigate Syria's assassination of former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri, begin pressuring Israel to surrender the Golan Heights, and recognize Hamas.

And just as Arafat understood that after he said the magic words the West would ignore his bad behavior, so Assad knew that Washington and Paris would pay no attention when upon returning from Riyadh he announced that Syria's relations with Iran will never be weakened. He knew they will never question his false account of his indirect negotiations with Israel. He and Olmert couldn't have been a stone's throw away from a peace accord, because Assad refused to have any direct contact with Israel.

If Damascus is the state equivalent of the PLO, then Teheran is the state equivalent of Hamas. Today, as the mullahs sprint toward the nuclear finish line, the Obama administration is pretending that the jury is still out on whether or not the Islamic republic wants a nuclear arsenal. As with Hamas, so with Teheran, the Americans have dropped even the pretense of requiring a change in Iran's rhetorical positions as a precondition for diplomatic recognition. The US now pursues its diplomatic reconciliation with Teheran with the sure knowledge that this peace process will lead to Iran's emergence as a nuclear power.

So the question is, if the American and European pursuits of peace with Fatah, Hamas, Syria and Iran have not caused them to change their behavior one iota, what are the Western powers talking about when they say that it is imperative to push the peace process or engage the Syrians and the Iranians? After all, Western leaders must know that these processes are complete farces.

Sadly, the answer is clear. Western leaders are not pursuing peace in these processes. They are pursuing appeasement. They call this appeasement process a peace process for two reasons. First, they know their countrymen don't like the sound of appeasement. And second, by claiming to be championing the noble goal of peace in our time, they feel free to attack anyone who points out the folly of their actions as a warmongering member of the Israel Lobby.

You always can count on Charles Krauthammer to deliver the correct perspective on what is happening. All the demagogUery issuing out of Washington from the president down through the Democratic ranks of Congress is a world embarrassment and a threat to world financial recovery.

Bonfire of the Trivialities

Charles Krauthammer for the Washington Post
Friday, March 20, 2009

WASHINGTON -- A $14 trillion economy hangs by a thread composed of (a) a comically cynical, pitchfork-wielding Congress, (b) a hopelessly understaffed, stumbling Obama administration, and (c) $165 million.

That's $165 million in bonus money handed out to AIG debt manipulators who may be the only ones who know how to defuse the bomb they themselves built. Now, in the scheme of things, $165 million is a rounding error. It amounts to less than 1/18,500 of the $3.1 trillion federal budget. It's less than one-tenth of 1 percent of the bailout money given to AIG alone. If Bill Gates were to pay these AIG bonuses every year for the next 100 years, he'd still be left with more than half his personal fortune.

For this we are going to poison the well for any further financial rescues, face the prospect of letting AIG go under (which would make the Lehman Brothers collapse look trivial) and risk a run on the entire world financial system?

And there is such a thing as law. The way to break a contract legally is Chapter 11. Short of that, a contract is a contract. The AIG bonuses were agreed to before the government takeover and are perfectly legal. Is the rule now that when public anger is kindled, Congress summarily cancels contracts?

Even worse are the clever schemes now being cooked up in Congress to retrieve the money by means of some retroactive confiscatory tax. The common law is pretty clear about the impermissibility of ex post facto legislation and bills of attainder. They also happen to be specifically prohibited by the Constitution. We're going to overturn that for $165 million?

Nor has the president behaved much better. He too has been out there trying to lead the mob. But it's a losing game. His own congressional Democrats will out-demagogue him and heap the blame on the hapless Timothy Geithner.

Geithner has been particularly maladroit in handling this issue. But the reason he didn't give the bonuses much attention is because he's got far better things to do -- namely, work out a rescue plan for a dysfunctional credit system that is holding back any chance of recovery

It is time for the president to state the obvious: This recession is not caused by excessive executive compensation in government-controlled companies. The economy has been sinking because of a lack of credit, stemming from a general lack of confidence, stemming from the lack of a plan to detoxify the major lending institutions, mainly the banks, which, to paraphrase Willie Sutton, is where the money used to be.

Obama has been strangely passive about this single greatest threat to the country. In his address to Congress and his budget, he's been far more interested in his grand program for reshaping the American social contract in health care, energy and education.

Obama delegates to Geithner plans for a bailout -- and Geithner (thus far) delivers nothing. Obama delegates to Nancy Pelosi and her congressional grandees the writing of all things fiscal -- and gets a $787 billion stimulus package that is a wish list of liberal social spending, followed by a $410 billion omnibus spending bill festooned with pork and political paybacks.

That bill, we now discover, contains, among other depth charges, a Teamster-supported provision inserted by Sen. Byron Dorgan that terminates a Bush-era demonstration project to allow some Mexican trucks onto American highways, as required under NAFTA.

If you thought the AIG hysteria was a display of populist cynicism directed at a relative triviality, consider this: There are more than 6.5 million trucks in the United States. The program Congress terminated allowed 97 Mexican trucks to roam among them. Ninety-seven! Shutting them out not only undermines NAFTA. It caused Mexico to retaliate with tariffs on 90 goods affecting $2.4 billion in U.S. trade coming out of 40 states.

The very last thing we need now is American protectionism. It is guaranteed to start a world trade war. A deeply wounded world economy needs two things to recover: (1) vigorous U.S. government action to loosen credit by detoxifying the zombie banks and insolvent insurers, and (2) avoidance of a trade war.

Free trade is the one area where the world indisputably turns to Washington for leadership. What does it see? Grandstanding, parochialism, petty payoffs to truckers and a rush to mindless populism. Over what? Over 97 Mexican trucks -- and bonus money that comes to what the Yankees are paying for CC Sabathia's left arm.

In the years that investment bankers fought to persuade Congress of the dangers of re-linking their risk-taking businesses to commercial banks insured by the federal government, Congress loved the idea of "one-stop shopping" and of having banks big enough and versatile enough to compete with the biggest and best on the world staqe.

Finally, after a 19-year battle through the Reagan, Bush 1 and Clinton years commerical banks and Congress got their wish in 1999.

Today's world financial meltdown is the result. Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley had been right.

Britain's former Chancellor of the Exchequer Nigel Lawson says "Bring Back Glass-Steagall."


Capitalism needs a revived Glass-Steagall

By Nigel Lawson in the Financial Times March 16, 2009

That capitalism has been shown, in practice, to be endemically flawed should come as no surprise. That is the nature of mankind. What is more important is that history, notably the history of the world after the second world war, has demonstrated beyond dispute that every other system of economic organisation is far worse. So capitalism both deserves to survive, and will survive, just as it did after the even greater economic disaster of the 1930s.

But there is another lesson of the 1930s. It is that although capitalism survives it is capable of retreating behind a protectionist shell, at great cost to global prosperity. This is a real danger today. The "Buy American" provisions in President Barack Obama's fiscal boost are an ominous sign. The impulse to resort to protection when economic hardship suddenly strikes is, of course, always present. But there is today a dangerous new factor which magnifies the threat. The leaders of some of America's largest corporations have already joined up with organised labour (the AFL-CIO) to urge Congress to impose tariffs against imports from countries (such as China, for example) which are understandably unwilling to bear the heavy costs of an obligation to curb their carbon dioxide emissions. There is considerable support in Europe, notably within the European Commission and in France, for a similar approach.

It is essential, both in the US and in Europe, that this is resolutely rejected. The first and most important requirement for the future of capitalism is the preservation of globalisation, and the massive benefits it confers on mankind, in particular in the developing world. There are, inevitably, costs of globalisation; but they are hugely outweighed by the benefits. So resistance to protection, whatever arguments may be used in its favour, must be rigorously maintained. Nor is this an exclusively economic argument. It is a moral imperative, as well. Moreover, a trade war with China could well have unpredictable, and potentially highly damaging, political consequences.
But will capitalism need to change in the future? Again, the lesson of history is that the answer is "not really". The economic cycle is endemic and inescapable, and everyone (with the exception of prime minister Gordon Brown) has always known this. What the current crisis does underline, however, is that a cyclical downturn associated with a collapse of the banking system is by an order of magnitude worse than a normal cyclical downturn.

So there does need to be a change to the banking system. In a nutshell, we need to return, in all major financial centres, to the separation of commercial banking from investment banking that was enforced in the US under the 1933 Glass-Steagall Act, until it was repealed by President Bill Clinton in the 1990s. This is all the more important since we now live in an age in which the acquisition of wealth appears to count for more than reputation.

Achieving this will not be easy or popular in banking circles, but it can be done. We have time to get it right: this is not firefighting, but fireproofing.

The overriding reason why this separation is essential is straightforward. It is only a commercial banking crisis that poses a systemic risk and can lead to the sort of mess we face today. It is folly to allow core banks to be in a position where they can be brought down by exciting but highly risky investment banking activities. But the idea that this can be prevented by judicious regulation of investment banking activities is a chimaera. In the real world, that is not possible: either the investment bankers will outsmart the regulators, or the regulators will respond with damaging overkill.

Thus investment banks should be left to their own creative devices, and subject essentially only to the discipline of the marketplace. This leaves a much more limited, and practicable, but still absolutely essential, role for bank supervision and regulation: namely, to ensure that the core commercial banking system is thoroughly sound and adequately capitalised at all times.

It is worth adding that it is the capital adequacy regime, and not primarily interest rate policy, which needs to be responsive to asset-price bubbles.

What else (other than the maintenance of what passes for world peace) is needed to ensure that capitalism survives (as it will) and prospers (as it should)?

There is a danger in many parts of the world, and certainly in the UK, to imagine that since this is a global problem it requires a global solution, so the overriding need is for a global agreement. This may sound statesmanlike, but it is in fact a dangerous delusion. The overriding need is for the authorities in each country to put their own house in order.
The threat from terrorism is an instructive parallel. Terrorism is indeed a global problem, and international co-operation is clearly desirable. But that in no way diminishes the overriding duty of national governments to do what is necessary to protect their own people.

The same applies to financial regulation. As the Basel II bank capital rules clearly showed, international agreement is slow in arriving and, when it does arrive, it is likely to prove inadequate. As far as the UK is concerned, Mr Brown's decision, as chancellor, to scrap the strengthened system of bank supervision I put in place in 1987 and replace it with a system that has proved largely dysfunctional was not very clever. Without waiting for global agreement, however desirable that may be, we need to, and can, do a great deal better.

The writer was the UK's chancellor of the exchequer from 1983 to 1989.

GOVERNMENT KNOWS BETTER. SURE.


What catastrophe are we heading towards as the government intrudes more and more into the private sector? Peter Wallison describes clearly how the dumb hand of the government, not the competitve forces of the market, will pick tomorrow's winners.

OPINION MARCH 17, 2009, 7:17 A.M. ET Wall Street Journal

Congress Is the Real Systemic Risk

By PETER J. WALLISON

After their experience with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, you'd think that Congress would no longer be interested in creating companies seen by the market as backed by the government. Yet that is exactly what the relevant congressional committees -- the Senate Banking Committee and the House Financial Services Committee -- are now considering.

In the wake of the financial crisis, the idea rapidly gaining strength in Washington is to create a systemic risk regulator. The principal sponsor of the plan is Barney Frank, the chair of the House Financial Services Committee. A recent report by the Group of Thirty (a private sector organization of financial regulation specialists), written by a subcommittee headed by Paul Volcker, also endorsed the idea, as has the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Securities Industry Financial Markets Association.

If implemented, this would give the government the authority to designate and supervise "systemically significant" companies. Presumably, systemically significant companies would be those that are so large, or involved in financial activities of such importance, that their failure would create systemic risk.

There are several serious problems with this plan, beginning with the fact that no one can define a systemic risk or its causes. The Congressional Oversight Panel, which was established to advise Congress on the use of the TARP funds, concluded -- with two Republicans dissenting -- that the current crisis is an example of a systemic risk evolving into a true systemic event. After all, virtually all the world's major financial institutions are seriously weakened, and many have either failed or been rescued. If this is not an example of a systemic risk, what is?

The current financial crisis is certainly systemic. But what caused it? The failure of Lehman Brothers occurred long after the market for mortgage-backed securities (MBS) had shut down, and six months after Bear Stearns had to be rescued because of its losses. In other words, the crisis did not arise from the failure of a particular systemically significant institution. The world's major financial institutions had already been weakened by the realization that losses on trillions of dollars in MBS were going to be much greater than anyone had imagined, and before the major asset write-downs had begun. So if this was a systemic event, it was not caused by the failure of one or more major institutions. In fact, it was the other way around: The weakness or failure of financial institutions was the result of an external event (losses on trillions of dollars of subprime mortgages embedded in MBS).

If this is true, what is the value of regulating systemically significant financial institutions? Financial failures, it seems, can be the result, rather than the cause, of systemic events like the one we are now experiencing. Even if we assume that regulating systemically significant companies will somehow prevent them from failing -- a doubtful proposition, given that the heavily regulated banks have been the most severely affected by the current crisis -- we will not have prevented the collapse of a major oil-supplying country, an earthquake or a pandemic from causing a similar problem in the future. All we will have done is given some government agency more power and imposed more costs on financial institutions and consumers.

But increased government power and higher costs are not the worst elements of the proposal to designate and supervise systemically significant companies. The worst result is that we will create an unlimited number of financial institutions that, like Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, will be seen in the financial markets as backed by the government. This will be especially true if, as Mr. Frank has recommended, the Federal Reserve is given supervisory authority over these institutions. The Fed already has the power -- without a vote of Congress -- to provide financing under "exigent circumstances" to any company, and will no doubt be able to do so for the institutions it supervises.

A company that is designated as systemically significant will inevitably come to be viewed as having government backing. After all, the designation occurs because some government agency believes that the failure of a particular institution will have a highly adverse effect on the rest of the financial system. Accordingly, designation as a systemically significant company will in effect be a government declaration that that company is too big to fail. The market will understand -- as it did with Fannie and Freddie -- that loans to such a company will involve less risk than loans to its competitors. Counterparties and customers will believe that transactions with the company will generally be more secure than transactions with other firms that aren't similarly protected from failure.

As a consequence, the effect on competition will be profound. Financial institutions that are not large enough to be designated as systemically significant will gradually lose out in the marketplace to the larger companies that are perceived to have government backing, just as Fannie and Freddie were able to drive banks and others from the secondary market for prime middle-class mortgages. A small group of government-backed financial institutions will thus come to dominate all sectors of finance in the U.S. And when that happens they shall be called by a special name: winners.

Mr. Wallison is a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute.

The extraordinary Spengler of the Asia Times reviews the post-humous book of Richard John Nuehaus who died earlier this year. Father Neuhaus, who converted from his vocation as a Lutheran minister to Roman Catholicism, was a giant among intellectuals who think and write about God and man. HIs final evocation concerned Christianity in America.

BOOK REVIEW This almost-chosen, almost-pregnant land

American Babylon by Richard John Neuhaus

Reviewed by Spengler

President Abraham Lincoln famously called Americans an "almost chosen people". That might qualify as America's national joke, for you can't be "almost chosen" any more than you can be almost pregnant.

Lincoln's oxymoron frames the tension between the religious impulses that made America and the reality that ultimately it is one imperfect polity among many others. America is "a country with the soul of a church", as G K Chesterton wrote, and by no accident, the only industrial nation (apart from Israel) in which religion plays a decisive role in public life. The central role of religion continues to polarize Americans and confuse foreign observers.

The working of faith in America's public square is more complex than Americans acknowledge, or foreigners understand, Richard John Neuhaus shows in this study of the heavenly city versus the earthly city of our exile.

Idolatry attracts both wings of American politics: the right tends to confound the United States of America with the City of God, while the left makes an object of worship out of its utopian imagination. Neuhaus was a pre-eminent social conservative and an advisor to former president George W Bush, but no less an even-handed critic for that. That quality that makes American Babylon: Notes of a Christian Exile one of the indispensable books of our time, of such importance that one wants to suspend debate of America's character until everyone has had time to read it.

Until his death on January 8, Father Neuhaus was America's pre-eminent Christian intellectual, and his posthumous book reminds us what a gap in public discourse is left by his absence. Starting in 1990, Neuhaus edited (and wrote a good deal of) the monthly journal First Things. It is hard for this writer to imagine intellectual life in America without First Things.

I have missed very few issues in the past 15 years, and could not have found my own journalistic vocation had Neuhaus not blazed such a broad trail. In 2007, I had the honor to contribute an essay on Franz Rosenzweig to his journal. Neuhaus was the rare sort of writer from whom one learned especially in disagreement, for his formulation of the issues was so lucid as to force those who did not share his views to rethink their own.

"There is in America," he wrote, "a strong current of Christian patriotism in which 'God and country' falls trippingly from the tongue. Indeed, God and country are sometimes conflated in a single allegiance that permits no tension, never mind conflict, between the two." Neuhaus added that "this book is animated by a deeply and lively patriotism", adding, "I have considerable sympathy for Abraham Lincoln's observation that, among the political orders of the earthly city, America is 'the last, best hope of mankind'."

On the left, utopian efforts to create a heaven on Earth expressed American idolatry, for example, in the Social Gospel movement of Walter Rauschenberg, "Christianizing America and Americanizing Christianity." The liberal philosopher John Dewey embodied the drift of mainline Protestantism into a social reform movement. The heir of this left-wing current is Rauschenberg's grandson, the late philosopher Richard Rorty, whose career was dedicated to proving the proposition that no proposition can be proven.

It is even sillier than it sounds, in Neuhaus' amusing account. As Neuhaus says,


Rorty writes that [John] Dewey and his soulmate Walt Whitman "wanted [their] utopian America to replace God as the unconditional object of desire. They wanted the struggle for social justice to be the country's animating principle, the nation's soul". He quotes favorably the lines of Whitman:

And I say to mankind, Be not curious about God, For I who am curious about each am not curious about God.

"Whitman and Dewey," Rorty writes, "gave us all the romance, and all the spiritual uplift we Americans need to go about our public business."


That is the left-wing version of American self-worship. American nationalism harbors a civic religion as well. There is, Neuhaus explains,

a line of devotion that runs from the [Puritans'] "errand in the wilderness" to John F Kennedy's inaugural ... It is the American story, the American promise, that is invoked in Martin Luther King Jr's dream of the "beloved community" and in Ronald Reagan's vision of the "city on a hill".

Some readers will be surprised and others scandalized by the suggestion that George W Bush was in the tradition of Washington, Lincoln, Wilson, Kennedy, King and Reagan in sounding the characteristic notes of the American story, but so it is.

This is painfully clear, observes Neuhaus, in George W Bush's second inaugural address:

We are led [Bush said in his address] by events and common sense, to one conclusion: the survival of liberty in our land increasingly depends on the success of liberty in other lands. The best hope for peace in our world is the expansion of freedom in all the world. America's vital interest and our deepest beliefs are now one ... We go forward with complete confidence in the even triumph of freedom. Not because history runs on the wheels of inevitability; it is human choices that move events. Not because we consider ourselves a chosen nation; God moves and chooses as He wills.

"Both the power and the danger of the story is in the sincerity with which it is told," Neuhaus commented. "Good intentions go awry; we blind ourselves to our own capacity for self-deception when we cast ourselves in the role of God's agents in history's battle between The Children of Light and The Children of Darkness, to cite the title of [a] book by [Reinhold] Niebuhr."

Bush's second inaugural was an exercise in American self-worship, in its assumption that the free institutions of the United States were an earthly manifestation of the divine, such that the American government should become a Bureau of Missions for the cult of democracy. But it is manifestly false that America's security depends upon the success of freedom elsewhere. China's political system is not free by Western standards, yet China poses no strategic threat to the United States. Dictatorships that support terrorism well may constitute a strategic threat to the United States, especially if they are able to employ nuclear weapons. But the United States could just as well wipe all of them off the face of the Earth through pre-emptive nuclear bombardment, or let them fight each other to exhaustion, as try to foster democracy in their midst. America had no strategic imperative to promote democracy, only a narcissistic one.

Neuhaus concludes,

However high our appreciation of America's achievement and promise, and whether that appreciation is expressed from the left, as in the case of Richard Rorty's work, or from the right, as in George W Bush's speech, with its confidence in "a new order of the ages", the great danger is in forgetting that America, too, is Babylon.

From a Christian vantage point, Neuhaus means, every earthly city is an exile, like the Babylon whence the Jews of the 6th century were exiled after the fall of Jerusalem. Nonetheless, the Puritans who founded the Massachusetts Bay Colony, as Neuhaus retells the story, saw themselves as a new chosen people founding a new promised land.

In some tellings of the story, they and the New World were Jerusalem, having escaped the captivity of the Babylon of the Old World ... And, in the more fantastical flights of theological imagination, America is something very close to the New Jerusalem.
That, as Neuhaus reports, was the view of the great 18th-century theologian Jonathan Edwards, whose "Great Awakening" preceded and by most accounts prepared the ground for the American Revolution. Yet the fervent Calvinism of the Puritans and Jonathan Edwards turned into the mushy transcendentalism of Ralph Waldo Emerson by the 1830s. With good reason, American critic Harold Bloom characterized this peculiar variety of American religion as Gnostic. Nonetheless:

In the 1860s the church of the novus ordo seclorum was shattered by the bloodiest war in your history, and from that catastrophe emerged the most profound theologian of the civil religion. Lincoln's Second Inaugural Address, with its troubled reflection on the mysteries of providence, is in some ways worthy of St Augustine, except, of course, that it is without Augustine's Church, and therefore without the communal bearer of the story of the world by which all other stories, including the story of America, are truly told. American theology has suffered from an ecclesiological deficit, leading to an ecclesiological substitution of America for the Church through time.

There is no gainsaying Neuhaus' critique of the Puritans, who were in a sense play-acting at being Jews with their vision of a new chosen people and a new promised land. Gentiles do not emulate the Jews, or "Judaize", with success, perhaps because Jewish continuity depends not only upon faith but upon blood ties. By 1800, every formerly Puritan church in Boston but one had turned Unitarian, and the vapid Emerson became their intellectual heir.

Still, the tiny band of English separatists who departed Delft on the Mayflower in 1620 had better reasons to seek an "errand in the wilderness" than we easily can imagine today. Then in its second year, the Thirty Years War eventually would kill about two-fifths of the people of Central Europe, and destroy forever the Christian Empire of the Middle Ages, leaving the secular nation state in its place as Europe's principle of political organization.

A red line connects the Thirty Years War of 1618-1648 to the Second Thirty Years War of 1914-1945. Whether the Puritans were right to conclude that Europe already had been lost for Christianity is a matter for historians to debate. But it is hard to imagine how Europe might have avoided the victory of communism or fascism were it not for the United States, now the only major nation in which Christianity remains at the center of public life. If the Puritans had not sailed to America in emulation of Israel leaving Egypt, the Gates of Hell well might have prevailed over St Peter.

Lincoln appeared not only "as the most profound theologian of the civil religion", as Neuhaus argues, but arguably as the most profound American theologian of any religion. That is the view of the evangelical historian Mark Noll in his book America's God. "Views of providence," Noll writes, "provide the sharpest contrast between Lincoln and the professional theologians of his day."

Noll muses that "the American God may have been working too well for the Protestant theologians who, even as they exploited Scripture and pious experience so successfully, yet found it easy to equate America's moral government of God with Christianity itself. Their tragedy - and the greater the theologian, the greater the tragedy - was to rest content with a God defined by the American conventions God's own loyal servants had exploited so well."

Because America is not a chosen nation, Neuhaus warns, "we should be uneasy even with Lincoln's sharply modified claim that we are an 'almost chosen' people". But "almost chosen" is like "almost pregnant", and the absurdity of Lincoln's joke suggests the possibility of a more benign reading.

America brought into the world a new political form, the non-ethnic democracy, a necessary but not sufficient condition for a Christian nation. America really is different, from, say, Poland, the homeland of the greatest religious leader of our times. Pope John Paul II's last book, Memory and Identity, "is about Poland and being Polish, both of which John Paul explores and affirms in a way that many might think scandalously chauvinistic", Neuhaus observes.

In some respects, Poland deserves the special admiration of her pre-eminent son. As a breakaway Soviet buffer state on the central front, Poland occupied center stage in the Cold War, and the Polish people led by the Catholic Church rose heroically to the occasion.

The trouble is that Poland's story is coming to an end. The country's population will fall by almost 30% by mid-century, and the median age will rise from 36 years to 56 years. Benedict XVI, for that matter, ranks by my reckoning as the best mind on the planet, but it is questionable whether today's Germany is capable of educating another Joseph Ratzinger.

America's story will not end, at least not in the same way. What we might call America's "Special Providence" is founded on its capacity to absorb the talented and energetic immigrants vomited out by the wars and persecutions of the Old World.

Europe's residual paganism, the persistence of ethnic self-worship under a Christian veneer, became the downfall of Christendom. America's fresh start made it congenitally receptive to Christianity.

Only in its potential is America "almost chosen"; the extent to which it actually is Christian will depend not on its constitution but on its churches. Ultimately, the Puritan hope of forming a new chosen people in a new promised land only could fail, but it is hard to see how Christianity could have prevailed in the West without it.

Sometimes, perhaps, Christians may have to emulate the Jews in order to remain Christians.

American Babylon: Notes of a Christian Exile by Richard John Neuhaus. Basic Books, New York 2009. ISBN-10: 0465013678. Price US$26.95, 288 pages.



Be true to thyself.

Why the GOP Can't Win With Minorities

March 16, 2009 Opinion Wall Street Journal
By SHELBY STEELE

Today conservatism is stigmatized in our culture as an antiminority political philosophy. In certain quarters, conservatism is simply racism by another name. And minorities who openly identify themselves as conservatives are still novelties, fish out of water.

Yet there is now the feeling that without an appeal to minorities, conservatism is at risk of marginalization. The recent election revealed a Republican Party -- largely white, male and Southern -- seemingly on its way to becoming a "regional" party. Still, an appeal targeted just at minorities -- reeking as it surely would of identity politics -- is anathema to most conservatives. Can't it be assumed, they would argue, that support of classic principles -- individual freedom and equality under the law -- constitutes support of minorities? And, given the fact that blacks and Hispanics often poll more conservatively than whites on most social issues, shouldn't there be an easy simpatico between these minorities and political conservatism?

'Compassionate conservatism' was clever -- as a marketing ploy.
But of course the reverse is true. There is an abiding alienation between the two -- an alienation that I believe is the great new challenge for both modern conservatism and formerly oppressed minorities. Oddly, each now needs the other to evolve.

Yet why this alienation to begin with? Can it be overcome?

I think it began in a very specific cultural circumstance: the dramatic loss of moral authority that America suffered in the 1960s after openly acknowledging its long mistreatment of blacks and other minorities. Societies have moral accountability, and they cannot admit to persecuting a race of people for four centuries without losing considerable moral legitimacy. Such a confession -- honorable as it may be -- virtually calls out challenges to authority. And in the 1960s challenges emerged from everywhere -- middle-class white kids rioted for "Free Speech" at Berkeley, black riots decimated inner cities across the country, and violent antiwar protests were ubiquitous. America suddenly needed a conspicuous display of moral authority in order to defend the legitimacy of its institutions against relentless challenge.

This was the circumstance that opened a new formula for power in American politics: redemption. If you could at least seem to redeem America of its past sins, you could win enough moral authority to claim real political power. Lyndon Johnson devastated Barry Goldwater because -- among other reasons -- he seemed bent on redeeming America of its shameful racist past, while Goldwater's puritanical libertarianism precluded his even supporting the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Johnson's Great Society grandly advertised a new American racial innocence. If it utterly failed to "end poverty in our time," it succeeded -- through a great display of generosity toward minorities and the poor -- in recovering enough moral authority to see the government through the inexorable challenges of the '60s.

When redemption became a term of power, "redemptive liberalism" was born -- a new activist liberalism that gave itself a "redemptive" profile by focusing on social engineering rather than liberalism's classic focus on individual freedom. In the '60s there was no time to allow individual freedom to render up the social good. Redemptive liberalism would proactively engineer the good. Name a good like "integration," and then engineer it into being through a draconian regimen of school busing. If the busing did profound damage to public education in America, it gave liberals the right to say, "At least we did something!" In other words, we are activists against America's old sin of segregation. Activism is moral authority in redemptive liberalism.

But conservatism sees moral authority more in a discipline of principles than in activism. It sees ideas of the good like "diversity" as mere pretext for the social engineering that always leads to unintended and oppressive consequences. Conservatism would enforce the principles that ensure individual freedom, and then allow "the good" to happen by "invisible hand."

And here is conservatism's great problem with minorities. In an era when even failed moral activism is redemptive -- and thus a source of moral authority and power -- conservatism stands flat-footed with only discipline to offer. It has only an invisible hand to compete with the activism of the left. So conservatism has no way to show itself redeemed of America's bigoted past, no way like the Great Society to engineer a grand display of its innocence, and no way to show deference to minorities for the oppression they endured. Thus it seems to be in league with that oppression.

Added to this, American minorities of color -- especially blacks -- are often born into grievance-focused identities. The idea of grievance will seem to define them in some eternal way, and it will link them atavistically to a community of loved ones. To separate from grievance -- to say simply that one is no longer racially aggrieved -- will surely feel like an act of betrayal that threatens to cut one off from community, family and history. So, paradoxically, a certain chauvinism develops around one's sense of grievance. Today the feeling of being aggrieved by American bigotry is far more a matter of identity than of actual aggrievement.

And this identity calls minorities to an anticonservative orientation to American politics. It makes for an almost ancestral resistance to conservatism. One's identity of grievance is flattered by the moral activism of the left and offended by the invisible hand of the right. Minorities feel they were saved from oppression by the left's activism, not by the right's discipline. The truth doesn't matter much here (in fact it took both activism and principle, civil war and social movement, to end this oppression). But activism indicates moral anguish in whites, and so it constitutes the witness minorities crave. They feel seen, understood. With the invisible hand the special case of their suffering doesn't count for much, and they go without witness.

So here stands contemporary American conservatism amidst its cultural liabilities and, now, its electoral failures -- with no mechanism to redeem America of its shames, atavistically resisted by minorities, and vulnerable to stigmatization as a bigoted and imperialistic political orientation. Today's liberalism may stand on decades of failed ideas, but it is failure in the name of American redemption. It remains competitive with -- even ascendant over -- conservatism because it addresses America's moral accountability to its past with moral activism. This is the left's great power, and a good part of the reason Barack Obama is now the president of the United States. No matter his failures -- or the fruitlessness of his extravagant and scatter-gun governmental activism -- he redeems America of an ugly past. How does conservatism compete with this?

The first impulse is to moderate. With "compassionate conservatism" and "affirmative access" and "faith-based initiatives," President George W. Bush tried to show a redemptive conservatism that could be activist against the legacy of America's disgraceful past. And it worked electorally by moderating the image of conservatives as uncaring disciplinarians. But in the end it was only a marketer's ploy -- a shrewd advertisement with no actual product to sell.

What drew me to conservatism years ago was the fact that it gave discipline a slightly higher status than virtue. This meant it could not be subverted by passing notions of the good. It could be above moral vanity. And so it made no special promises to me as a minority. It neglected me in every way except as a human being who wanted freedom. Until my encounter with conservatism I had only known the racial determinism of segregation on the one hand and of white liberalism on the other -- two varieties of white supremacy in which I could only be dependent and inferior.

The appeal of conservatism is the mutuality it asserts between individual and political freedom, its beautiful idea of a free man in a free society. And it offers minorities the one thing they can never get from liberalism: human rather than racial dignity. I always secretly loved Malcolm X more than Martin Luther King Jr. because Malcolm wanted a fuller human dignity for blacks -- one independent of white moral wrestling. In a liberalism that wants to redeem the nation of its past, minorities can only be ciphers in white struggles of conscience.

Liberalism's glamour follows from its promise of a new American innocence. But the appeal of conservatism is relief from this supercilious idea. Innocence is not possible for America. This nation did what it did. And conservatism's appeal is that it does not bank on the recovery of lost innocence. It seeks the discipline of ordinary people rather than the virtuousness of extraordinary people. The challenge for conservatives today is simply self-acceptance, and even a little pride in the way we flail away at problems with an invisible hand.

Mr. Steele is a research fellow at Stanford University's Hoover Institution.

ANTI-ISRAEL LOBBY GAINS IN WASHINGTON

The anti-Jewish, anti-Israeli forces gain favor in the Obama administration, as seen by the Middle East's premier foreign policy analyst Caroline Glick.


Column One: Intelligence and the anti-Israel lobby

Mar. 12, 2009
Caroline Glick , THE JERUSALEM POST

Ill winds are blowing out of Washington these days. On Thursday, The Washington Post headline blared, "Intelligence Pick Blames 'Israel Lobby' for Withdrawal."

The article, by Walter Pincus, described how former US ambassador to Saudi Arabia Charles "Chas" Freeman is blaming Israel's Jewish American supporters for his resignation Tuesday from his post as chairman of the National Intelligence Council.

In a diatribe published on Foreign Policy's Web site on Wednesday, Freeman accused the alleged "Israel Lobby" of torpedoing his appointment. In his words, "The tactics of the Israel Lobby plumb the depths of dishonor and indecency... The aim of this Lobby is control of the policy process through the exercise of a veto over the appointment of people who dispute the wisdom of its views... and the exclusion of any and all options for decision by Americans and our government other than those that it favors."

He continued, "I believe that the inability of the American public to discuss, or the government to consider, any option for US policies in the Middle East opposed by the ruling faction in Israeli politics has allowed that faction to adopt and sustain policies that ultimately threaten the existence of the State of Israel. It is not permitted for anyone in the United States to say so. This is not just a tragedy for Israelis and their neighbors in the Middle East; it is doing widening damage to the national security of the United States."

The Washington Post's article quoted liberally from Freeman's diatribe. It also identified the Jewish Americans who wrote against Freeman's appointment, and insinuated that AIPAC - which took no stand on his appointment - actually worked behind the scenes to undermine it.

While it described in lurid detail how one anti-Freeman Jewish blogger quoted other anti-Freeman Jewish bloggers on his Web site, Pincus's article failed to report what it was about Freeman that caused the Jewish cabal to criticize his appointment. Consequently, by default, Pincus effectively endorsed Freeman's diatribe against the all-powerful "Israel Lobby."

Pincus's reportorial malpractice wouldn't have been so problematic if his article had just been one of many articles in the Washington Post about Freeman's appointment. But, like The New York Times, the first mention the Washington Post made of the story was on Tuesday, after Freeman announced his resignation.

The Washington Post's news editor, Douglas Jehl, admitted that a conscious decision had been made to ignore the story. In an e-mail published in the Weekly Standard Jehl wrote, "We did initially elect not to write a story about the campaign against Mr. Freeman."

As the Standard's Stephen Hayes notes, Jehl's statement is notable because it shows that he and colleagues never considered whether Freeman's record was newsworthy in and of itself. That is, they never asked whether the controversy surrounding it was justified. Had they asked that question, perhaps they would have reconsidered their decision to ignore the story.

Freeman was a career US diplomat until his retirement in the mid-1990s. He served as ambassador to Saudi Arabia during the first Bush administration. In his memoirs, former secretary of state James Baker claimed that in that position, Freeman was afflicted by "clientitis." Instead of advancing US interests with the Saudis, Freeman championed Saudi interests to the US government.

In 1997, Freeman became president of the Saudi-funded Middle East Policy Council. There Freeman continued his outspoken support for Saudi positions against the US. In January 2009, for instance, he praised Saudi King Abdullah for coercing the second Bush administration into supporting Palestinian statehood.

Freeman castigated the Bush administration as "the world's first genuinely autistic government." Then he bragged that it was only due to Abdullah's "threat... to downgrade relations with the United States," that the administration finally announced its support for Palestinian statehood.

According to financial records made public in recent weeks, the Middle East Policy Council has received millions of dollars from the Saudi government and royal family over the past several years.

Saudi Arabia is not the only country with interests and values that conflict with US interests and values that Freeman has championed and earned a living from. Until accepting his appointment as chairman of the National Intelligence Council, Freeman was a paid member of the Chinese government-owned China National Offshore Oil Company's international advisory board. CNOOC has been the target of a US Treasury probe due to its multi-billion dollar contract with Iran to develop the South Pars gas field.

As with the case of Saudi Arabia, Freeman's political sympathies go hand in hand with his financial ties. In a list-serve e-mail in 2006, Freeman criticized the Beijing Politburo for being too lax with the pro-democracy demonstrators in Tiananmen Square in 1989. As he put it, "the truly unforgivable mistake of the Chinese authorities was the failure to intervene on a timely basis to nip the demonstrations in the bud."

As Martin Cramer, Steven Rosen and other Jewish writers have noted in their reporting on Freeman in recent weeks, Freeman's positions on Israel closely mirror the Saudi Foreign Ministry's positions. So it is that in 2006, for instance, Freeman blamed US ties with Israel for the September 11, 2001, attacks. As he put it, "We have paid heavily and often in treasure for our unflinching support and unstinting subsidies of Israel's approach to managing its relations with the Arabs. Five years ago, we began to pay with the blood of our citizens here at home."

Then, too, like the Saudi government, Freeman argues that Arab terrorism against the US is solely a consequence of US support for Israel. Were the US to abandon its alliance with Israel, all Arab terror against the US would stop.

DESPITE PINCUS'S attempt to hide it, the main reason Freeman's appointment was controversial was not the opposition it garnered among pro-Israel American Jews. The main controversy surrounding his appointment as the Obama administration's top intelligence analyst revolved around his financial and political ties to potential and actual US adversaries.

Indeed, according to Newsweek, it was these connections - and specifically Freeman's ties to the Chinese Politburo - that scuppered his appointment. According to Newsweek, the White House withdrew its support for Freeman because House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was angered by his support for Beijing's repression of Chinese democracy activists, which she described as "beyond the pale." Freeman's animus towards Israel apparently played no role in the White House's decision to show him the door.

Whatever the reason for his resignation, it is a good thing that Freeman was forced to resign. It is a very good thing that the man writing the US's National Intelligence Estimates and briefing the president on intelligence matters is not a hired gun for the Saudi and Chinese governments who believes that Jewish Americans have no right to participate in public debate about US foreign policy. But while his appointment was foiled, the fact that a man like Freeman was even considered for the post tells us two deeply disturbing things about the climate in Washington these days.

First and foremost, Freeman's appointment gives us disconcerting information about how the Obama administration intends to relate to intelligence. Freeman was appointed by Adm. Dennis Blair, President Barack Obama's director of national intelligence. Blair stood by Freeman's appointment even after information became known about his financial ties to foreign governments and his extreme views on Israel and American Jews were exposed. Blair repeatedly extolled Freeman for his willingness to stake out unpopular positions.

On Tuesday, Blair appeared before the Senate Armed Services Committee. There he answered questions about Freeman and about Iran's nuclear weapons program. Just as he defended Freeman, so Blair defended the Islamic Republic. He claimed that there is no way to infer from Iran's satellite program that it is expanding the range of its ballistic missiles. He claimed that just because Iran is enriching uranium, there is no reason to believe that the mullahs are interested in building a bomb. That is, America's top intelligence officer is willing to take Iran's word on everything.

On the other hand, he isn't willing to take Israel's word on anything. Although he acknowledged that his nonchalant assessment of Iran was based on the same information as Israel's dire assessment of Iran, Blair scoffed at Israel's views, claiming that they are colored by the Jewish state's fears. In his words, "The Israelis are far more concerned about it, and they take more of a worst-case approach to these things from their point of view."

What Blair's staunch championing of Freeman's appointment and his casualness regarding Iran's nuclear program indicates is that like Freeman, he assumes the best of America's adversaries and the worst of its friends. This approach to intelligence analysis will be destructive not just for the US's relations with its allies, but for America's own national security.

THE SECOND disturbing development exposed by Freeman's appointment is the emergence of a very committed and powerful anti-Israel lobby in Washington. In the past, while anti-Israel politicians, policy-makers and opinion-shapers were accepted in Washington, they would not have felt comfortable brandishing their anti-Israel positions as a qualifying credential for high position. Freeman's appointment shows that this is no longer the case. Today in Washington, there are powerful circles of political players for whom a person's anti-Israel bona fides are his strongest suit.

In the weeks since Freeman's appointment first came under scrutiny, his defenders have highlighted his hatred of Israel as the reason for their support for him. Just as Pincus's post-mortem write-up of Freeman's appointment and resignation barely mentioned his ties to Saudi Arabia and China, and focused on Jews who opposed his appointment, so in recent weeks, his defenders - both non-Jewish and Jewish - have highlighted his hatred of Israel and its American supporters as the primary reason for defending it. The likes of Steven Walt, M.J. Rosenberg and Matthew Iglesias didn't try to explain why Freeman was right to support the suppression of freedom in China. They didn't support his claim that the Saudi king is among the most profound and thoughtful leaders in the world. They didn't repeat his assertion that the US had the September 11 attacks coming to it.

They felt that the fact that he raised the hackles of Americans who support Israel was reason enough to support him. Whether his views on other issues are reasonable or not was of no interest to them.

From September 11, to Russia's invasion of Georgia, from Hamas's victory in the 2006 Palestinian elections to the 2007 National Intelligence Estimate that claimed Iran ended its nuclear weapons program in 2003, it is clear that in recent years, the US intelligence community has regularly substituted wishful thinking for true analysis. Freeman's appointment and the emergence of the anti-Israel lobby as a major force in Washington policy circles show that turning the US away from Israel has become a key component of that wishful thinking.

But, as they say in the world of intelligence, forewarned is forearmed

OBAMA'S CAMPAIGN TO DESTROY HUMAN LIFE

Obama's campaign to spread the culture of death continues. Yesterday he issued an executive order authorizing the use of federal taxpayer dollars for the purpose of destroying human beings at the embryonic state for research. Many scientists have correctly pointed out that there is no scientific basis for claiming that stem cell research is better served by use of embryonic rather than adult stem cells and current research is proving conclusively that adult stem cells are delivering superior results. Indeed, the clamor for federal funding of embryo-destructive stem cell research is in large part due to private money not being as convinced as the true believers that this is a productive line of research.

Some still argue that an embryo isn't human, that it is a matter of belief not science as to when human life begins. Not so.

While claims that embryos and fetuses are members of the human family are often dismissed as based on faith alone or merely a matter of personal opinion, from a scientific standpoint this is entirely untrue. At the moment of conception, when egg meets sperm, either in the petri dish or the fallopian tube, the complete genetic blueprint of a new unique human individual comes together. This is scientific fact. It was at the moment of conception that each and every reader of this article began to journey through the developmental stages of life. Those destroyed in an abortion are genetically human except under the most bizarre circumstances. They are also certainly alive, consuming nutrients, excreting waste products of metabolism, growing, possessing the potential to reproduce, and responding to external stimuli such as local pH, availability of oxygen, and the presence of hormones in the fetal and maternal circulation. Abortion kills a human being in the earliest days, weeks or months of its development, period.
Incredibly, in an astonishing display of his total disregard for the ethics of destroying human life, Obama also repealed a presidential executive order that encourages the National Institutes of Health to explore non-embryo-destructive sources of stem cells.

Professor Robert George of Princeton pointed out Obama's perverse, unhealthy fixation on death last October:

Decent people of every persuasion hold out the increasingly realistic hope of resolving the moral issue surrounding embryonic stem-cell research by developing methods to produce the exact equivalent of embryonic stem cells without using (or producing) embryos. But when a bill was introduced in the United States Senate to put a modest amount of federal money into research to develop these methods, Barack Obama was one of the few senators who opposed it. From any rational vantage point, this is unconscionable. Why would someone not wish to find a method of producing the pluripotent cells scientists want that all Americans could enthusiastically endorse? Why create and kill human embryos when there are alternatives that do not require the taking of nascent human lives? It is as if Obama is opposed to stem-cell research unless it involves killing human embryos.
Obama's reputation as the most anti-life public official in America remains intact.


OPINION MARCH 10, 2009 Wall Street Journal
The President Politicizes Stem-Cell Research
Taxpayers have a right to be left out of it.

By ROBERT P. GEORGE and ERIC COHEN

Yesterday President Barack Obama issued an executive order that authorizes expanded federal funding for research using stem cells produced by destroying human embryos. The announcement was classic Obama: advancing radical policies while seeming calm and moderate, and preaching the gospel of civility while accusing those who disagree with the policies of being "divisive" and even "politicizing science."

Mr. Obama's executive order overturned an attempt by President George W. Bush in 2001 to do justice to both the promise of stem-cell science and the demands of ethics. The Bush policy was to allow the government to fund research on existing embryonic stem-cell lines, where the embryos in question had already been destroyed. But it would not fund, or in any way incentivize, the ongoing destruction of human embryos.

For years, this policy was attacked by advocates of embryo-destructive research. Mr. Bush and the "religious right" were depicted as antiscience villains and embryonic stem-cell scientists and their allies were seen as the beleaguered saviors of the sick. In reality, Mr. Bush's policy was one of moderation. It did not ban new embryo-destructive research (the president had no power to do that), and it did not fund new embryo-destructive research.

"Moderate" Mr. Obama's policy is not. It will promote a whole new industry of embryo creation and destruction, including the creation of human embryos by cloning for research in which they are destroyed. It forces American taxpayers, including those who see the deliberate taking of human life in the embryonic stage as profoundly unjust, to be complicit in this practice.

Mr. Obama made a big point in his speech of claiming to bring integrity back to science policy, and his desire to remove the previous administration's ideological agenda from scientific decision-making. This claim of taking science out of politics is false and misguided on two counts.

First, the Obama policy is itself blatantly political. It is red meat to his Bush-hating base, yet pays no more than lip service to recent scientific breakthroughs that make possible the production of cells that are biologically equivalent to embryonic stem cells without the need to create or kill human embryos. Inexplicably -- apart from political motivations -- Mr. Obama revoked not only the Bush restrictions on embryo destructive research funding, but also the 2007 executive order that encourages the National Institutes of Health to explore non-embryo-destructive sources of stem cells.

Second and more fundamentally, the claim about taking politics out of science is in the deepest sense antidemocratic. The question of whether to destroy human embryos for research purposes is not fundamentally a scientific question; it is a moral and civic question about the proper uses, ambitions and limits of science. It is a question about how we will treat members of the human family at the very dawn of life; about our willingness to seek alternative paths to medical progress that respect human dignity.

For those who believe in the highest ideals of deliberative democracy, and those who believe we mistreat the most vulnerable human lives at our own moral peril, Mr. Obama's claim of "taking politics out of science" should be lamented, not celebrated.

In the years ahead, the stem-cell debate will surely continue -- raising as it does big questions about the meaning of human equality at the edges of human life, about the relationship between science and politics, and about how we govern ourselves when it comes to morally charged issues of public policy on which reasonable people happen to disagree. We can only hope, in the years ahead, that scientific creativity will make embryo destruction unnecessary and that as a society we will not pave the way to the brave new world with the best medical intentions.

Mr. George is professor of Jurisprudence at Princeton and co-author of "Embryo: A Defense of Human Life" (Doubleday, 2008). Mr. Cohen is editor-at-large of The New Atlantis and author of "In the Shadow of Progress: Being Human in the Age of Technology" (Encounter, 2008).

OBAMA'S "POWER GRAB"

Even the British are wising up to the Obama agenda:

Well, I grew up with the Left and what this looks like to me is a power grab: a seizing of the moment by the forces which always believed in state domination. The Left sees an opening here, first for telling a critical lie about the historical origins of this crisis, which was propelled as much by the Left-liberal determination to spread prosperity through easy credit to the poor, as by the greed of bankers. And then, out of the wreckage, to restructure the economy along the lines that it always wanted, complete with central controls over the pay levels in private financial institutions.

We are being led to believe that public debate should be all about economic mechanics when it should really be about political principle: just how many freedoms do we want to lose while governments pretend that they are the solution?

Britain's Labor Party has the same instincts as sees the same "opportunity" to grab more power for government as Obama and the Democrats.

Read what Janet Daley has to say.

Omnia21 has documented a number of times (for example, here, here and here) the common history of Obama, David Axelrod and Rham Emanuel from the corrupt Chicago Democratic machine.

All the tricks learned in Chicago to mislead, lie and dissemble to advance the agenda are now operative in the White House. Rahm Emanuel makes it clear that this crisis is a prime opportunity to push their programs. During the campaign it was Axelrod who kept the candidate on the message of "hope" and "change" rather than discussing what he really intended to do as president.

Before the campaign began, no doubt Obama shared with Axelrod his socialist background and his goal to re-engineer the American economy from capitalism to socialism. No doubt it was Axelrod who decided it best to declare off limits the Obama years at Occidental, Columbia and Harvard Law School. Obama had carelessly written he had sought out for companions Marxist socialists and black power advocates. That was a dangerous error that should not be compounded with more information. The public would have been able to judge Obama better if they knew what subjects he studied, what his theses and other papers were about and what postions he took. But all of that was forbidden to inquiry as were the circumstances of Obama's birth, wherever that took place.

There would be no hint of the totalitarian state that Obama planned. When a 2001 radio interview surfaced in which Obama called the U.S. Constitution flawed because it did not provide for redistribution of wealth, only protecting the people from its government, the campaign and the mainstream media brushed it aside as just old news, old thinking out loud and trotted out a University of Chicago law professor (now in the Administration) to quiet fears.

Chief Strategist of the campaign David Axelrod was there every step of the way. Obama even made pro-life noises to mislead when he was and is the most pro-abortion, anti-life public official in the United States, as he is proving with a stream of anti-life executive orders and budget proposals to fund abortion mills. As Professor Robert George of Princeton noted, Obama has a morbid, cult-like perverse fascination with death:

Why create and kill human embryos when there are alternatives that do not require the taking of nascent human lives? It is as if Obama is opposed to stem-cell research unless it involves killing human embryos.


Economist Robert Samuelson writing for the Washington Post today calls Obama "The Great Pretender." The orchestratrator of the Great Charade to mislead America during the campaign and now in the White House is Chicago Mayor Daley's former strategist David Axelrod.



March 9, 2009
President's Political Protector Is Ever Close at Hand
By JEFF ZELENY New York Times

WASHINGTON -- The pepperoni and cheese pizzas had been delivered, and a meeting about how to sell President Obama's economic plan was set to begin -- not at the White House, but a few blocks away in the seventh-floor apartment of David Axelrod.

Mr. Axelrod took a seat in his living room, with the Washington Monument visible in the distance, and asked how the president's proposals were being received in the country. He went around the room, calling on a cluster of strategists who were on hand to discuss the latest batch of polls and focus groups conducted for the White House.

It is known as the Wednesday Night Meeting, an invitation-only session for a handful of advisers, nearly all of whom played a key role in paving Mr. Obama's path to the Oval Office. The location varies, but on a recent evening Mr. Axelrod, a senior adviser to the president, was feeling under the weather, so a group that he says is "like family to me" met at his place.

"It helps clarify my thinking to talk to people who I have faith in," Mr. Axelrod said, reluctantly describing the weekly meetings he had hoped to keep under wraps so he would not suddenly be overrun by requests from people hoping to dispense advice.

The two-hour sessions are just one way in which Mr. Axelrod is making the transition from Chicago political consultant to the White House. His title does little to capture his full importance to Mr. Obama. His voice, and political advice, carry more weight than most anyone else's on the president's payroll.

The question for someone with the access and authority that Mr. Axelrod enjoys in the White House is how he exerts his influence with the president, the White House staff, Congress and other constituencies.

The circle around Mr. Obama has grown exponentially since he arrived in the White House. An army of new assistants, deputies and advisers surrounds him, but it is Mr. Axelrod who sits the closest to the Oval Office. His proximity is a symbol, in a unique West Wing kind of way, of how close he remains to Mr. Obama.

"I get to see him when I need to see him," Mr. Axelrod, 54, said in an interview in his office, which is slightly larger than a service elevator. "It turns out he has a few things on his plate, so I try not to abuse that privilege."

Gone are the leather jacket and wrinkled plaid shirts he wore during the campaign. He has four new suits -- and an array of neckties -- for his new position. The wardrobe caught the president's eye at a recent White House dinner for the nation's governors.

"Everybody looks extraordinary," Mr. Obama said. "Even Axelrod has cleaned up pretty well."

Mr. Axelrod has played a major role in framing the message of the domestic agenda, from the economic stimulus plan to health care. He has devoted far less time to foreign policy, given the amount of time the president spends dealing with the nation's fiscal crisis.

A glimpse of Mr. Axelrod's day offers a look at how he spends his time.

He arrives at the White House shortly after 7 a.m., a torturously early hour for a man known during the campaign for sending messages until the small hours of the morning. A cup of Earl Grey tea is waiting for him -- he hates the taste of coffee and recalls having only two cups in his life -- as he walks into his first appointment of the day, a meeting in the office of Rahm Emanuel, the chief of staff, who has been a friend for 25 years.

He attends the economic briefing in the Oval Office, where the latest news and grim statistics are relayed to the president by a battery of advisers. When the classified intelligence briefing begins, Mr. Axelrod leaves the room. Later, he and a speechwriter sit down with Mr. Obama to review the three-ring binder containing each speech or statement the president will make that day.

Often in the late afternoons, he walks to the Situation Room to attend some meetings of the National Security Council, stopping to grab a handful or two of the M&Ms that are in a large bowl outside the room.

He also helps decide which fights to pick and which ones to avoid, making him a leading voice in setting the political tone in Washington. The recent back-and-forth with Rush Limbaugh, for example, was explicitly authorized by Mr. Axelrod, who told aides that it was not a moment to sit quietly after Mr. Limbaugh said he hoped that Mr. Obama would "fail."

Mr. Axelrod's background has been rooted almost entirely in politics. Strong similarities exist between his trajectory and that of Karl Rove, a friend and longtime counselor to former President George W. Bush. Both Mr. Rove and Mr. Axelrod forged partnerships with their clients long before they began campaigning for the presidency, guided them through elective office and, ultimately, to the White House.

Mr. Axelrod rejects the comparison, saying that he is more of a protector of Mr. Obama's image and message than a policy maker or strategist intent on remaking the country's political DNA, as Mr. Rove often talked about. The two men have never met, but in his new role as commentator, Mr. Rove has criticized Mr. Axelrod as politicizing the White House.

"He's in the fomenting commentary business," Mr. Axelrod said recently over brunch. "I'm not sitting here moving pieces around from the White House. I'm not trying to run the Democratic Party. I'm not trying to supplant the brilliant policy makers who are here."

But the Wednesday night meetings suggest that the strong belief in polling and focus groups from the campaign are alive in the White House. Joel Benenson, a pollster for Mr. Obama, is among the participants in the sessions. He said that Mr. Axelrod often asked one question above all: "How do we make sure that the arguments from the president's agenda are made in the most persuasive way?"

Mr. Axelrod has never worked in government, and the adjustment has been abrupt. ("Look, they made me a bureaucrat," he told one of his first visitors to his transition office, a government badge hanging from his neck.)

He refers to his new job in the parlance of his long-ago career as a newspaper reporter: he is "on assignment in Washington." His wife visits a few times a month, and he tries to return to Chicago just as often.

"It's surreal, so much of this is," Mr. Axelrod said. "It is an incredible privilege to be here, but it's kind of hard to absorb and get your hands around all we're trying to do."

His imprint is felt across Washington and the Democratic establishment in the country. He works at explaining Mr. Obama's proposals on taxes, health care or the economy, no matter if his platform is a senators-only luncheon or a television talk show.

"It's very important to have someone there to understand why Barack Obama ran for president," said David Plouffe, the campaign manager, who remains a close political adviser to Mr. Obama and a participant at the Wednesday meetings.

There are few words that come across the president's lips that have not been blessed by Mr. Axelrod. He reviews every speech, studies every major policy position and works with Robert Gibbs, the White House press secretary, to prepare responses to the crisis of the day.

The gold-colored sofa in his office is often a bullpen for brainstorming new speeches, with the writers surrounded by two walls of campaign photos and a large picture of Manny's, his favorite Chicago deli.

Jon Favreau, the president's chief speechwriter, said there was a familiar refrain during these meetings, with Mr. Axelrod urging the team not to become consumed by the insularity of Washington. "Can I speak on behalf of the American people here?" he said Mr. Axelrod often asks aloud.

That is precisely why, Mr. Axelrod said, he convened the Wednesday Night Meetings: to take the pulse of what people were thinking. Locked in the White House all day, he added, he can no longer hear those voices on his own.

OBAMA: "THE GREAT PRETENDER"

The respected Washington Post columnist Robert Samuelson finally says what Obama is doing: lying. Obama is "The Great Pretender."

Samuelson is the first of the mainstream media to tear off Obama's mask.

Obama is and has been throughout his long campaign and the time so far of his presidency a master of doublespeak. Samuelson now calls him to account.

Obama has been a socialist ideologue since his youngest days when his mentor was a black member of the communist party who fueled his resentment of white America. Who did Obama hang out with in college? As he revealed in his own book, black power advocates and Marxist socialists. Jeremiah Wright and Louis Farrakhan kept the fire of resentment of America burning.

As a community organizer, Obama learned the playbook of Saul Alinsky, whose Rules for Radicals was a manual for destroying American capitalism and building a totalitarian socialist society in its place. Among the tools of the trade were stirring anger and resentment, lying, dissembling, hiding the truth of the real agenda. This was the path to power.

With his rhetorical skills and narcissistic confidence, he was able to sell "hope" and "change" to obscure his plan for power: Enlarge the class dependent on government to make them his followers -- and the followers of his party -- for years to come. Rich whites would pay as he transferred their wealth to the hand-out class he was mobilizing. Power and revenge together.

The housing bubble -- that Obama helped create by forcing bankers to make mortgage loans they shouldn't -- and collapse and the resulting panic gave him the opportunity Alinksy envisioned: Desperate people would respond to the call for "change" and Obama would roll out his own special brand of totalitarian state socialism reminiscent of the 1930s -- featuring curtailment of free speech, heightened class and racial resentment, suppression of individual initiative , eugenics and the wanton destruction of the helpless.

Obama's chief of staff Rahm Emanuel, his fellow conspirator in taking from the earners and producers to build Obama's dependent army, let slip their intention to use the public's fear to build their power, "You never want a serious crisis to go to waste."

Will others now begin to wake up to the danger that Obama is to America?

March 09, 2009
Obama is a Great Pretender
By Robert Samuelson

WASHINGTON -- To those who believe that Barack Obama is a different kind of politician -- more honest, more courageous -- please don't examine his administration's budget. If you do, you may sadly conclude that he resembles presidents stretching back to John Kennedy in one crucial respect. He won't tax voters for all the government services they want. That's the main reason we've run budget deficits in 43 of the past 48 years.

Obama is a great pretender. He repeatedly says he's doing things that he isn't, trusting his powerful rhetoric to obscure the difference. He has made "responsibility" a personal theme; the budget's cover line is "A New Era of Responsibility." He says the budget begins "making the tough choices necessary to restore fiscal discipline." It doesn't.

With today's depressed economy, big deficits are unavoidable for some years. But let's assume that Obama wins re-election. By his last year, 2016, the economy presumably will have long recovered. What does his final budget look like? Well, it runs a $637 billion deficit, equal to 3.2 percent of the economy (gross domestic product), projects Obama's Office of Management and Budget. That would match Ronald Reagan's last deficit, 3.1 percent of GDP in 1988, so fiercely criticized by Democrats.

As a society, we should pay in taxes what it costs government to provide desired services. If benefits don't seem equal to burdens, then the spending isn't worth having (exceptions: deficits in wartime and economic slumps).

If Obama were "responsible," he would conduct a candid conversation about the role of government. Who deserves support and why? How big can government grow before higher taxes and deficits harm economic growth? Although Obama claims to be doing this, he hasn't confronted entitlement psychology -- the belief that government benefits once conferred should never be revoked.

Is it in the public interest for the well-off elderly (say, a couple with $125,000 of income) to be subsidized, through Social Security and Medicare, by poorer young and middle-aged workers? Are any farm subsidies justified when they aren't essential for food production? We wouldn't starve without them.

Given an aging America, government faces huge conflicts between spending on the elderly and spending on everything else. But even before most of baby boomers retire (in 2016, only a quarter will have reached 65), Obama's government would have grown. In 2016, federal spending is projected to be 22.4 percent of GDP, up from 21 percent in 2008; federal taxes, 19.2 percent of GDP, up from 17.7 percent.

It would also be "responsible" for Obama to acknowledge the big gamble in his budget. National security has long been government's first job. In his budget, defense spending drops from 20 percent of the total in 2008 to 14 percent in 2016, the smallest share since the 1930s. The decline presumes a much safer world. If the world doesn't cooperate, deficits would grow.

The gap between Obama rhetoric and Obama reality transcends the budget, as do the consequences. In 2009, the stock market has declined 23.78 percent (through March 5), says Wilshire Associates. The Wall Street Journal's editorial page blames Obama's policies for all the fall. That's unfair; the economy's deterioration was a big cause. Still, Obama isn't blameless.

Confidence (too little) and uncertainty (too much) define this crisis. Obama's double talk reduces the first and raises the second. He says he's focused on reviving the economy, but he's also using the crisis to advance an ambitious long-term agenda. The two sometimes collide. The $787 billion "stimulus" is weaker than necessary, because almost $200 billion for extended projects (high-speed rail, computerized medical records) take effect after 2010. When Congress debates Obama's sweeping health care and energy proposals, industries, regions and governmental philosophies will clash. Will this improve confidence? Reduce uncertainty?

A prudent president would have made a "tough choice" -- concentrated on the economy; deferred his more contentious agenda. Similarly, Obama claims to seek bipartisanship but, in reality, doesn't. His bipartisanship consists of including a few Republicans in his Cabinet and inviting some Republican congressmen to the White House for the Super Bowl. It does not consist of fashioning proposals that would attract bipartisan support on their merits. Instead, he clings to dubious, partisan policies (mortgage cramdown, union check-off) that arouse fierce opposition.

Obama thinks he can ignore these blatant inconsistencies. Like many smart people, he believes he can talk his way around problems. Maybe. He's helped by much of the media, who seem so enthralled with him that they don't see glaring contradictions. During the campaign, Obama said he would change Washington's petty partisanship; he also advocated a highly partisan agenda. Both claims could not be true. The media barely noticed; the same obliviousness persists. But Obama still runs a risk: that his overworked rhetoric loses its power and boomerangs on him.


Who was responsible for the housing bubble, its collapse and the resulting panic that triggered the present worldwide financial meltdown costing homeowners and investors trillions and millions their jobs?

The prime culprit is Congressman Barney Frank of Massachusetts, as this website has long pointed out. Search for "Barney" and you'll find much documentation for this on the website.

Senator Dodd of Connecticut was also complicit, raking in campaign contributions from Fannie Mae while urging them to package up and sell worldwide with the implicit guranty of the United States the subprime paper Democrats had forced banks to issue to the uncreditworthy.

Though seldom noted Barack Obama was in the forefront of efforts to force banks to make loans they never should have made. Fresh out of law school in the early 1990s he was training community organizers in Chicago (ACORN, no less) how to break up bank board meetings and intimidate bankers and demand they make mortgage loans to credit shaky minorities. Intimidation worked and the disintegration of credit standards, blessed by the Clinton Administration was on. See, for example, this.


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So now that that same Barney Frank wants to seek criminal prosecutions of those responsible, Investor's Business Daily names the prime candidate for the first prosecution: Congressman Frank.

Let The Inquisition Start With Barney Frank

By INVESTOR'S BUSINESS DAILY | Monday, March 9, 2009

Oversight: Congressman Barney Frank says he wants some of those responsible for our current financial meltdown to be prosecuted. And we couldn't agree more. First up in the court dock: Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass.

Even by the extraordinarily loose standards of Congress, it takes some chutzpah for someone such as Frank to suggest that he'll seek prosecutions for those behind the housing and financial crunch and for what he called "a strongly empowered systemic risk regulator."

For Frank, perhaps more than any single individual in private or public life, is responsible for both the housing market mess and subsequent bank disaster. And no, this isn't partisan hyperbole or historical exaggeration.

But first, a little trip down memory lane.

It was Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the two so-called Government Sponsored Enterprises (GSEs), that lay behind the crisis. After regulatory changes made to the Community Reinvestment Act by President Clinton in 1995, Fannie and Freddie went into hyper-drive, channeling literally trillions of dollars into the housing markets, using leverage and implicit taxpayers' guarantees.

In November 2000, President Clinton's Housing and Urban Development Department would trumpet "new regulations to provide $2.4 trillion in mortgages for affordable housing for 28.1 million families." The vehicles for this were Fannie and Freddie. It was the largest expansion in housing aid ever.

Still, from the early 1990s on, many people both inside and outside Washington were alarmed by what they saw at Fannie and Freddie.

Not Barney Frank: Starting in the early 1990s, he (and other Democrats) stood athwart efforts by regulators, Congress and the White House to get the runaway housing market under control.

He opposed reform as early as 1992. And, in response to another attempt bring Fannie-Freddie to heel in 2000, Frank responded it wasn't needed because there was "no federal liability there whatsoever."

In 2002, Frank nixed reforms again. See a pattern here?

Even after federal regulators discovered in 2003 that Fannie and Freddie executives had overstated earnings by as much as $10.6 billion in order to boost bonuses, Frank didn't miss a beat.

President Bush pushed for what the New York Times then called "the most significant regulatory overhaul in the housing finance industry since the savings and loan crisis a decade ago."

If it had passed, the housing crisis likely would have never boiled over, at least not the extent it did, taking the economy with it. Instead, led by Frank, Democrats stood as a bloc against any changes.

"Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are not facing any kind of financial crisis," Frank, then the ranking Democrat on the Financial Services Committee, said. "The more people exaggerate these problems, the more pressure there is on these companies, the less we will see in terms of affordable housing."

It's hard to say why Frank did all this. It could be his close ties to the Neighborhood Assistance Corp., a powerful housing activist group based in Boston, which controls billions in loans. Or that he received some $40,100 in campaign donations from Fannie and Freddie from 1989 to 2008. Or that he has been romantically linked to a one-time executive at Fannie during the 1990s.

Whatever the case, his conflicts are obvious and outrageous, and his refusal to countenance reforms of Fannie and Freddie contributed mightily to today's meltdown. If you're looking for a culprit in the meltdown to prosecute, no one fits the bill better than Frank.

BARACK HUSSEIN OBAMA BETRAYS ISRAEL

87% of American Jews voted for Obama. They must hate Israel.

It was abundantly clear from his Chicagoland associates -- Farrakhan, Jeremiah Wright and Rashid Khalidi -- he felt no identification with the cause of Israeli democracy.

Yet they voted for him overwhelmingly.

Now he is surrounding himself with known, open haters of Israel -- Susan Rice at the UN, Samantha Power inside the National Security Council and now the despicable Chas Freeman as head of National Intelligence.

And, sadly, despite President Clinton's seemingly sincere support of Israel, his wife is selling out Israel in her role as Obama's spokesman. To see Senator Kerry of Massachustts joining in is really no surprise. He sold out the United States when he returned from four months in Vietnam. Why wouldn't he sell out Israel for state dinners at the White House?

Obama's radical turn of American policy is a threat to Israel. Accepting Iran as a nuclear power the U.S. can chat with. Welcomiing Iranian puppet Syria back into the good graces of America even though the murder of the former Lebanese prime minister is still traced to Assad's doorstep. Giving $900 million to the rebuilding of Hamas-controlled Gaza which today is still firing rockets and missiles at Israeli communities.

Yet American Jews support Obama.

Obama has many missions. One appears to be to destroy the Jewish state -- or enable someone else -- Iran, most likely -- to do it.

It's well known that Obama does not have Jewish roots. He has Muslim roots. While it has been fashionable to brush aside the early years he lived as an Indonesian in Jakarta, he apparently has not left behind the hatreds and prejudices he learned there.

The only immediate relations he has are Muslim, whose hatred of Jews is inbred from birth. It can only be assumed that the same indoctrination enveloped Barack Hussein Obama during his early years in Jakarta. The hatred apparently lives on.

And now he is in a position to do something about it.

Is Israel alarmed? Of course.

More than 60 years of American support from Israel is coming to an end if President Obama has his way. He's well on his way with no or only meek protests from the supposed Democratic congressional supporters of Israel or even from American Jews.

Caroline Glick documents the American betrayal of their only reliable ally in the Middle East. Apparently exasperated with their sorry performance during the presidential election, she does not dwell on the craven behavior of American Jews.

Column One: Soldiers of Peace

Mar. 6, 2009
Caroline Glick , THE JERUSALEM POST

Compare and contrast the following three events: At the International Atomic Energy Agency's Board of Governors meeting on Wednesday, George Schulte, the US ambassador to the IAEA, pointed an accusatory finger at Syria. Damascus, Schulte said, has not come clean on its nuclear program. That program, of course, was exposed in September 2007 when Israel reportedly destroyed Syria's North Korean-built, Iranian-financed al-Kibar nuclear reactor.

In its report to its Board of Governors, the IAEA stated that in analyzing soil samples from the bombed installation, its inspectors discovered traces of uranium. The nuclear watchdog agency also noted that the Syrians have blocked UN nuclear inspectors from the site and from three other suspected nuclear sites.

Reacting to the IAEA report, Schulte said that it "contributes to the growing evidence of clandestine nuclear activities in Syria."

He added, "We must understand why such [uranium] material - material not previously declared to the IAEA - existed in Syria, and this can only happen if Syria provides the cooperation requested."

On Tuesday, at a press conference in Jerusalem with outgoing Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, visiting US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced that the Obama administration is sending two senior envoys to Damascus. Their job, as she put it, is to begin "preliminary conversations" on how to jumpstart US-Syrian bilateral ties.

Clinton's statement made good headlines, but she was light on details. On Wednesday, hours after Schulte accused Syria of covering up its illicit nuclear program, US Sen. John Kerry helpfully filled in the blanks about the nature of the Obama administration's overtures to nuclear-proliferating Damascus. In an address before the left-leaning Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institute in Washington, the Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, who just returned from a visit to Syria, Israel and the Palestinian Authority, said that the purpose of US overtures to Damascus is to appease Syrian President Bashar Assad.

If in the past, both American and Israeli policy-makers interested in engaging Damascus have made ending Syria's alliance with Iran a central goal of their proposed engagement, Kerry dismissed such an aim as unrealistic. In his words, "We should have no illusions that Syria will immediately end its ties with Iran."

Indeed, as far as Kerry is concerned, Syria's role in these talks is not to actually give the US anything of value. Rather, Syria's role is to take things of value from the US - and of course from Israel.

Kerry proposed that in exchange for Syrian acceptance of the US's offer of friendship and Assad's willingness to negotiate an Israeli surrender of the Golan Heights, America should consider "loosening certain sanctions" against Syria. Doing so, he claimed, will also be good for the US economy because it will open new opportunities for US businesses.

ON THE surface, the disparate statements by Schulte, Clinton and Kerry present us with a puzzle. In Geneva, Schulte noted that Syria is a nuclear proliferating rogue state that has refused to cooperate with UN inspectors. And in Jerusalem and Washington, Clinton and Kerry ignored Syria's dangerous actions, and advocated a policy of appeasement.

At the same IAEA Board of Governors meeting this week, the agency reported that Iran has produced more than a thousand kilograms of low enriched uranium - enough to build a bomb after further enrichment. That enrichment can be completed by year's end with Iran's 5,600 centrifuges. Moreover, between the Russian-built, soon-to-be-opened nuclear reactor in Bushehr and the illicit heavy water reactor in Arak, Iran will have the capacity to build plutonium-based bombs within two years.

Commenting on the IAEA's report on Iran, Adm. Michael Mullen, the Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, acknowledged that Iran has enough uranium for a bomb. Seemingly contradicting Mullen, Defense Secretary Robert Gates claimed that there is no reason to worry about all that uranium because Iran won't have a bomb for some time, given that the uranium it possesses is not sufficiently enriched to make a weapon.

For his part, US President Barack Obama is receiving guidance on contending with Iran from former Congressman Lee Hamilton, who co-authored the Baker-Hamilton Iraq Study Group report published in December 2006. That report called for the US to coordinate the withdrawal of its forces from Iraq with Iran and Syria - the principal sponsors of both the Shi'ite and Sunni insurgencies in the country. It recommended that the US purchase Syria's good will by pressuring Israel to surrender the Golan Heights to Damascus, and Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem to Hamas. It recommended that the US win Iran's trust by accepting it as a nuclear power and pledging not to overthrow the regime.

In an interview last month with Washington Post columnist David Ignatius, Hamilton reiterated those recommendations. He claimed that the starting point for US-Iran discussions is for the US to "state our respect for the Iranian people, renounce regime change as an instrument of US policy, seek opportunities for a range of dialogue across a range of issues, and acknowledge Iran's security concerns and its right to civilian nuclear power."

Hamilton assured Ignatius that these recommendations have been adopted by the White House.

ALL OF the above show that there is no contradiction between what the Obama administration understands about Iran and Syria and the policy it has adopted toward them. Specifically, as Schulte's and Mullen's statements make clear, the administration is aware of the dangers that both Iran and Syria constitute to global security. And as Clinton, Kerry, Gates and Hamilton all make clear, the administration's policy for dealing with those dangers is to change the subject and hope the American public won't notice or mind.

To this end, the administration is now asserting that Iran and Syria - the two most active agents of regional instability - share the US's interest in a stable, democratic Iraq. And owing to their sudden devotion to stability, Obama's surrogates tell us the Syrians and Iranians will support the new anti-Syrian and anti-Iranian Iraqi democracy and even protect it after the US withdraws its forces from the country.

Then, too, as both Kerry and Clinton made clear, the administration plans to ignore Syria's support for Iraqi, Palestinian and Lebanese terrorism, its nuclear proliferation activities and its massive ballistic missile arsenal, as well as its strategic alliance with Iran. Rather than confront Syria about its bad behavior, the administration favors a policy based on making believe that in his heart of hearts, Assad is a liberal democrat who aspires to peace, and hope, and change.

But the core of the administration's campaign to ignore Iran's nuclear program - as well as Syria's - is its unrelenting quest for the big payoff: Palestinian statehood.
This week Iran staged yet another "Destroy Israel" conference in Teheran, replete with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's trademark Holocaust denial, Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei's ritual castigation of the Jewish state as a "cancerous tumor," and the US as a treacherous enemy, and Ali Larijani's threat to attack Israel's suspected nuclear sites. The conference enjoyed a newfound sense of international legitimacy, taking place as it did just after burka-clad Annette Bening's goodwill Hollywood celebrity visit to the mullocracy.

THE GENOCIDAL pageantry in Teheran elicited no significant response from Clinton and Kerry. They had bigger fish to fry. While the administration and its supporters seem to believe that the US has no right to make demands on Iran and Syria, which, they assert, are both just advancing their national interests, for them Israel is a completely different story. As Clinton and Kerry demonstrated this week, the administration and its supporters will not stop making demands on Israel.

Kerry justified Syria's continued alliance with Iran by saying that Syria should be expected to "play both sides of the fence [with the US and Iran] as other nations do when they believe it is in their interests."

But Israel has no right to similarly take what action it deems necessary to secure its interests. In Kerry's view, the time has come for the US to show that it is serious about Palestinian statehood, and the way to do that is to force Israel to block all Jewish building in Judea and Samaria.

In his words, "On the Israeli side, nothing will do more to make clear our seriousness about turning the page than demonstrating - with actions rather than words - that we are serious about Israel freezing settlement activity in the West Bank."

He also called for the US to compel Israel to open its borders with Gaza. And he said that from his perspective, it is unacceptable for the incoming Netanyahu government not to embrace establishing a Palestinian state as its most urgent goal.

Clinton joined Kerry in his efforts to compel the Jewish state to ignore its national interests in the cause of the higher goal of Palestinian statehood. Like him, she attacked Israel for not handing control over its borders with Gaza to Hamas. And like Kerry, she stated repeatedly that her greatest goal is to establish a Palestinian state.

Clinton's unique contribution to that great "pro-peace" endeavor this week was her outspoken criticism on Wednesday of the Jerusalem Municipality's decision to enforce the city's building and planning ordinances equally toward both Jews and Arabs. That policy was made clear this week when city inspectors destroyed illegal buildings in both Jewish and Arab neighborhoods.

Since as far as Clinton is concerned, Israel will one day be required to throw all the Jews out of East, South and North Jerusalem to make room for what she believes is the "inevitable" Palestinian state, Israel has no right to treat Arabs and Jews equally in its soon-to-be-inevitably divided capital city. Arabs should be allowed to break the law at will. When Israel insists on enforcing its laws without prejudice, Clinton condemns it for being anti-peace.

Kerry argues that by forcing Israel to give its land to the Palestinians, the US will be promoting regional stability by doing the bidding of anti-Iranian Arab states like Egypt and Saudi Arabia. But even if putting the screws to Israel makes Cairo and Riyadh happy, their happiness will have no impact whatsoever on Iran's nuclear weapons programs or on Syria's proliferation activities. That is, Israeli land giveaways will have no impact on regional stability.

And that's precisely the point. The Obama administration has no intention of preventing Iran from becoming a nuclear power or Syria from maintaining its alliance with the mullahs. The White House seeks far more modest ends.

Through its policies toward Israel on the one hand and Iran and Syria on the other, the Obama administration demonstrates that it has already accepted a nuclear Iran. Its chief concern today is to avoid being blamed when the mushroom clouds appear in the sky. And it may well achieve that aim. After all, how could the administration be blamed for a nuclear Iran when it has wholly devoted its efforts to advancing the righteous cause of peace?

Victor Davis Hanson is a brilliant, straightforward writer. He speaks directly and honestly. He expresses his great -- disappointment is not quite the right word because he suspected the worst -- with Obama, who he feels is a divider and a hypocrite demeaning the office of the presidency. We agree.


The Great Divider?
Victor Davis Hanson March 2, 2009
Pajamas Media

As I Say--Not As I Do?

I confess I did not believe Barack Obama entirely during the campaign when he bragged on working across the aisle and championing bipartisanship.

You see, as in the case of any other politician, one must look to what he does--and has done--not what he says for election advantage.

And in the case of Sen. Obama, in his nascent career in the Senate, he had already compiled the most partisan record of any Democratic Senator. He had attended religiously one of the most racially divisive and extremist churches in the country. His Chicago friends were not moderates. His campaigns for state legislature, the House and the Senate were hard-ball, no-prisoner affairs of personal destruction, even by Chicago standards. Campaign references to reparations, gun- and bible-clingers, and Rev. Wright's wisdom were not words of healing.

In short, while the rhetoric was often inspirational, I found no real reason then--or now--to believe that Barack Obama wishes to be a uniter. And nothing in his first five weeks of governance has disabused me of that first tough impression.

To continue reading, click here. . .

PROMOTING THE CULTURE OF DEATH

Jeff Jacoby of the Boston Globe shows the inhumanity of the intelligentsia in the form of Princeton professor Peter Singer, who is a major promotor of the culture of death. While Singerr cheerily gives money to assist hungry Africans, he sees nothing wrong with killing newborn babies for whatever reason someone has. He wants to shuck off the "old morality," leaving only the opinion of the moment to guide behavior.


Intelligence is no guarantee of goodness
by Jeff Jacoby
The Boston Globe
March 4, 2009

PETER SINGER has written a new book. The prominent Australian philosopher, a professor of bioethics at Princeton University, argues in The Life You Can Save that residents of the affluent West have it within their power to eradicate extreme Third World poverty and its attendant suffering. By donating money to charity instead of spending it on things we don't really need, he writes, everyone can save lives -- and when you fail to do so, he suggests, "you are leaving a child to die, a child you could have saved."

Singer told the Wall Street Journal last week that he tries to practice what he preaches by giving one-third of his income to "Oxfam and other organizations working in the field." Few of us can give away that much of our earnings, but Singer urges most people to donate between 1 percent and 5 percent of what they make to help the destitute, with those who earn more digging even deeper.

You don't have to be a disciple of Singer's philosophy to admire his commitment to charity, especially when you consider the tightfistedness of some of our leading public figures. (One recent example: For the 10 years ending in 2007, then-Senator Joseph Biden and his wife gave slightly more than one-eighth of 1 percent of their income to charity -- a mere $3,690 on an adjusted gross income of $2.45 million.) I salute Singer's generosity, and sincerely hope that his new book prompts many readers to do more for the needy than they have ever thought about doing before.

And yet I can't help wondering which will ultimately prove more influential -- Singer's efforts to save lives through charity, or the role he has played as an intellectual enabler for the modern culture of death.

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Face of Evil

In 2005, Foreign Policy marked its 35th anniversary by asking several thinkers to speculate on what ideas or values taken for granted today will vanish in the next 35 years. "The sanctity of life," answered Singer, looking forward to the day when "only a rump of hard-core, know-nothing religious fundamentalists will defend the view that every human life, from conception to death, is sacrosanct." A year earlier, pronouncing "the whole edifice of Judeo-Christian morality . . . terminally ill," Singer had elaborated on his notorious view that it ought to be lawful to kill severely disabled infants. "All I am saying," he told The Independent, "is, why limit the killing to the womb? Nothing magical happens at birth. Of course infanticide needs to be strictly legally controlled and rare -- but it should not be ruled out, any more than abortion."

Perhaps it seems odd that the same individual can be a champion of both saving life through philanthropy and ending life through legalized infanticide. Yet if morality is merely a matter of opinion and preference -- if there is no overarching ethical code that supersedes any value system we can contrive for ourselves -- then why not value the lives of the impoverished above the lives of the disabled? Singer accepts that some of what he says "seems obscene and evil if you are still looking at it through the prism of the old morality." But give up that "old morality," and the objections are easily resolved.

In his Wall Street Journal interview, Singer spoke of dilemmas that may arise in the future when parents are able to select the genetic traits of their offspring. "I would not oppose selecting for intelligence," he says. "We could assume that people of higher intelligence would have good consequences for society."

Could we, though? Does higher intelligence always, or even usually, lead to "good consequences?" Like strength or agility or attractiveness, intelligence is only a gift, not a guarantee -- an asset that can as readily be used to harm others as to help them. Singer's faith in intelligence is consistent with his own life's work, but highly intelligent people are perfectly capable of monstrousness. Reason, education, and intellectual quickness are to be prized, but they are no substitute for good character, kindness, and ethical values. In the 20th century, after all, it was learned intellectuals who signed newspaper ads supporting Stalin, and men with PhDs who planned Hitler's Final Solution.

Intelligence alone will not make the world a better place, and if anyone's career proves the point, it is Singer's. Over the years, he has turned his skill to rationalizing bestiality, proposing a 28-day period during which newborns could be killed, and concluding that breeding children for spare parts is "not . . . something really wrong in itself." And why not? Once you've jettisoned the "old morality," good and evil become just a matter of opinion. "Man without God is a beast," wrote Whittaker Chambers, "never more beastly than when he is most intelligent about his beastliness."

It's astonishing that the President of the United States is operating a secret White House-led program to destroy a private citizen. For those who aren't familiar with Obama's history of choking off opposition while he was in the corrupt Chicago political environment, this may come as a surprise.

During his years in Chicago and Illinois politics, Obama didn't just want to win, he wanted to crush the opposition before voters had the chance to choose. In his first run for Illinois state senate he orchestrated driving all three primary election opponents -- including the incumbent -- off the ballot so he ran unopposed in the primary and in the final (no Republican in a heavily black district). Who ruled on all those disqualified signatures knocking opponents off the ballot? Why, appointees of the Daley political machine, which had identified Obama early on as someone who looked good that they could do business with.

A few years later in his run for the U.S, Senate his Democratic primary opponent -- ahead in the polls -- was forced to resign when supposedly sealed but very embarrassing divorce papers mysteriously became public. What do you know? The same thing happened to his Republican opponent, who also was forced to resign. Repubicans important a last minute substitute from another state as the Republican candidate, but he was predictably trounced by Obama. Whether it was Obama's new found patrons in the Democratic Party at the state level or the skilled hands of the Daley political machine that wielded the knives is not known.

Obama, having learned the advantages of destroying his electoral opponents, is now turnng his presidential guns to crushing his critics. Free speech is not welcomed by the Obama administration. HIs first target is Rush Limbaugh, the most outspoken, most influential critc of Obama's plan to destroy American capitalism,overturn the U.S Constitution and replace it with a totalitarian socialist state. Obama himself has personally attacked Limbaugh verbally several times and threatened Republicans in Congress not to pay attention to him or else.m, But even that's not enough.

Running the White House Get Limbaugh operation are two other products of the corrupt Chicago Democratic machine Rahm Emanuel, Obama's right hand man and chief of staff, and David Axelrod, chief strategist for Obama and former chief strategist for Chicago's Mayor Daley. Coordinating efforts with the White House by making the rounds of the TV talk shows to trash Limbaugh are former Clinton hatchetmen Paul Begala and James Carville.

The website Politico.com broke the story today.

In response, Limbaugh invited President Obama to meet with him face to face for a one-on-one debate on the issues that divide them and America. Capitalism or socialism. Strong national security or a weakened defense. Support Israel or sell out to Middle East Islam. A firm stand against Iran's nuclear ambition or appeasement. Free enterprise or a dependent society.

As Limbaugh told his listerners, Obama, the most gifted speaker ever to be president, has nothing to fear. He can leave the teleprompters behind and discuss the issues. If the President prevails, then he will have a free hand in transforming America into something it has never been.

Limbaugh even offered a non-Washington venue for the debate in Florida to which he would have the President flown in his own personal jet to avoid taxpayer expense. In his own words:

My point here is that these are really odious, empty, nasty people who are feasting on their own arrogance. They are power hungry. But, you know what? They've never had a serious debate over ideas. Their goal is to destroy opponents, which is what they're trying to do now. They don't want to engage opponents. Their idea of victory is the destruction of the opponent. They're not for a level playing field. They want to clear the playing field so that their ideas do not have to undergo any scrutiny. So what do they do? They leak stories to The Politico intended to create impressions about their own importance and their brilliance, when in fact they aren't even bit players on the nation's stage. This is Emanuel, and this is Obama.


But I have an idea. If these guys are so impressed with themselves, and if they are so sure of their correctness, why doesn't President Obama come on my show? We will do a one-on-one debate of ideas and policies. Now, his people in this Politico story, it's on the record. They're claiming they wanted me all along. They wanted me to be the focus of attention. So let's have the debate! I am offering President Obama to come on this program -- without staffers, without a teleprompter, without note cards -- to debate me on the issues. Let's talk about free markets versus government control. Let's talk about nationalizing health care and raising taxes on small business.

Let's talk about the New Deal versus Reaganomics. Let's talk about closing Guantanamo Bay, and let's talk about sending $900 million to Hamas. Let's talk about illegal immigration and the lawlessness on the borders. Let's talk about massive deficits and the destroying of opportunities of future generations. Let's talk about ACORN, community agitators, and the unions that represent the government employees which pour millions of dollars into your campaign, President Obama. Let's talk about your elimination of school choice for minority students in the District of Columbia. Let's talk about your efforts to further reduce domestic drilling and refining of oil. Let's talk about your stock market. By the way, Mr. President, I want to help. Yesterday you said you looked at the stock market as no different than a tracking poll that goes up and down.

There's no "up and down" here. We have a plunge. The president yesterday suggested "we're getting to the point where profits and earnings ratios are approaching that point where you want to invest." Uh, Mr. President? There is no "profits and earnings" ratio. It's "price and earnings" ratio. He's the president of the United States. He doesn't know anything about the stock market. He's admitted it before. Let's talk about it anyway. You want to maintain it's a tracking poll? I'd love to talk to you about that. Let's talk about all of these things, Mr. President. Let's go ahead and have a debate on this show. No limits. Now that your handlers are praising themselves for promoting me as the head of a political party -- they think that's a great thing -- then it should be a no-brainer for you to further advance this strategy by debating me on the issues and on the merits, and wipe me out once and for all!

The best thing for the country is for Obama to take up Limbaugh's challenge. Obama will be exposed as the hater of America that Jeremiah Wright, Louis Farrakhan and his Marxist socialist mentors in high school, college and community organizing taught him to be. Obama, however, does not have the courage to do it. Like Muhammad, he will be the coward and send his associates to perform the assassination.

Fortunately for us, they will fail.

There's a word for what Obama is doing from his seat of power in the White House: Despicable.

Read the full story here or at Politico (click the title below).


Rush Job: Inside Dems' Limbaugh plan
By: Jonathan Martin of Politico
March 4, 2009 04:04 AM EST

Top Democrats believe they have struck political gold by depicting Rush Limbaugh as the new face of the Republican Party, a full-scale effort first hatched by some of the most familiar names in politics and now being guided in part from inside the White House.

The strategy took shape after Democratic strategists Stanley Greenberg and James Carville included Limbaugh's name in an October poll and learned their longtime tormentor was deeply unpopular with many Americans, especially younger voters. Then the conservative talk-radio host emerged as an unapologetic critic of Barack Obama shortly before his inauguration, when even many Republicans were showering him with praise.

Soon it clicked: Democrats realized they could roll out a new GOP bogeyman for the post-Bush era by turning to an old one in Limbaugh, a polarizing figure since he rose to prominence in the 1990s.

Limbaugh is embracing the line of attack, suggesting a certain symbiosis between him and his political adversaries.

"The administration is enabling me," he wrote in an e-mail to POLITICO. "They are expanding my profile, expanding my audience and expanding my influence. An ever larger number of people are now being exposed to the antidote to Obamaism: conservatism, as articulated by me. An ever larger number of people are now exposed to substantive warnings, analysis and criticism of Obama's policies and intentions, a 'story' I own because the [mainstream media] is largely the Obama Press Office."

The bigger, the better, agreed Carville. "It's great for us, great for him, great for the press," he said of Limbaugh. "The only people he's not good for are the actual Republicans in Congress."

If Limbaugh himself were to coin a phrase for it, he might call it Operation Rushbo - an idea that started out simply enough but quickly proved to be deeply resonant by a rapid succession of events, say Democrats inside and outside the West Wing.

The seeds were planted in October after Democracy Corps, the Democratic polling company run by Carville and Greenberg, included Limbaugh's name in a survey and found that many Americans just don't like him.

"His positives for voters under 40 was 11 percent," Carville recalled with a degree of amazement, alluding to a question about whether voters had a positive or negative view of the talk show host.

Paul Begala, a close friend of Carville, Greenberg and White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, said they found Limbaugh's overall ratings were even lower than the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, Obama's controversial former pastor, and William Ayers, the domestic terrorist and Chicago resident who Republicans sought to tie to Obama during the campaign.

Then came what Begala called "the tripwire."

"I hope he fails," Limbaugh said of Obama on his show four days before the president was sworn in. It was a time when Obama's approval ratings were soaring, but more than that, polls showed even people who didn't vote for him badly wanted him to succeed, coming to office at a time of economic meltdown.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee was the first to jump on the statement, sending the video to its membership to raise cash and stir a petition drive.


"We helped get the ball rolling on this because we're looking and listening to different Republican voices around the country, and the one that was the loudest and getting the most attention was Rush Limbaugh," explained DCCC chairman and Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.).

The Center for American Progress, a liberal think tank run by former Clinton Chief of Staff John Podesta, also pounced on Limbaugh's "fail" line, drawing attention to it on their well-read blog.

Soon after, Americans United for Change, a liberal group, was airing Limbaugh's statement in an ad aimed at pushing Senate Republicans to support the stimulus bill.

"It just cropped up out of how much play that comment was getting on the air," said Brad Woodhouse, who runs the group and is about to take over as communications director at the Democratic National Committee. "When we did it and it generated so much press, it just started to snowball from there."

But liberals quickly realized that trying to drive a wedge between congressional Republicans and Limbaugh was unlikely to work, and their better move was to paint the GOP as beholden to the talk show host.

This was driven home to them, according to one Democrat, when Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-Ga.) took a shot at Limbaugh in late January only to appear on his program the next day and plead having momentarily had "foot-in-mouth disease."

By February, Carville and Begala were pounding on Limbaugh frequently in their appearances on CNN.

Neither Democrat would say so, but a third source said the two also began pushing the idea of targeting Limbaugh in their daily phone conversations with Emanuel.

Conversations and email exchanges began taking place in and out of the White House not only between the old pals from the Clinton era but also including White House senior adviser David Axelrod, Deputy Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer, Press Secretary Robert Gibbs and Woodhouse.

The White House needed no more convincing after Limbaugh's hour-plus performance Saturday, celebrated on the right and mocked on the left, at the Conservative Political Action Conference, where he re-stated his hope Obama fails.

"He kicked this into full-gear at CPAC by reiterating it," said a senior White House official of Limbaugh.

By Sunday morning, Emanuel elevated the strategy by bringing up the conservative talker, unprompted, on CBS's "Face the Nation" and calling him the "the voice and the intellectual force and energy behind the Republican Party."

Even Republican National Chairman Michael Steele joined in with a surprising critique of Limbaugh as a mere "entertainer," who is "ugly" and "incendiary."

"He took a little match we had tossed on the leaves and poured gasoline on it," said one Democrat of Steele.

Steele was forced into calling Limbaugh to apologize Monday, an embarrassing climb-down following the RNC chairman's criticism of the conservative talk-show host.

But Democrats kept at it in rapid-fire succession, thrilled that Steele had validated their claim that Republicans were scared to cross Limbaugh.


Americans United for Change launched a new ad featuring Limbaugh's CPAC appearance. A left-leaning media watchdog group began a new Limbaugh tracking homepage. Democratic National Chairman Tim Kaine tweaked Steele for his apology. Terry McAuliffe tried to inject Limbaugh into the Virginia governor's race. The DCCC launched a new website, www.imsorryrush.com, mocking the Republicans who have had to apologize to Limbaugh.

And Gibbs served up a made-for-cable-TV quote to end his daily briefing Tuesday.

"I was a little surprised at the speed in which Mr. Steele, the head of the RNC, apologized to the head of the Republican Party," Gibbs quipped with a grin, before striding out of the press room.

David Plouffe, Obama's campaign manager last year and a member of his inner circle still, will publish an op-ed in Wednesday's Washington Post chiding Republicans for being "paralyzed with fear of crossing their leader."

A senior White House aide has been tasked with helping to guide the Limbaugh strategy.

Outside, Americans United for Choice, a liberal group, and the Democratic National Committee are driving the message, in close consultation with the White House.

Democrats can barely suppress their smiles these days, overjoyed at the instant-ad imagery of Limbaugh clad in Johnny Cash-black at CPAC and, more broadly, at what they see as their success in managing to further marginalize a party already on the outs.

"I want to send Rush a bottle of vitamins," said Begala. "We need him to stay healthy and loud and proud."

With President George W. Bush and Vice-President Dick Cheney out of the White House and Tom DeLay gone from Congress, the left had been suddenly absent an unpopular right-wing figure.

Few Americans know who the congressional Republican leaders are. Even Sarah Palin is now four time zones away from Washington.

Enter Limbaugh.

It's something of a back to the future tactic for Democrats: painting the GOP as the party of the angry white male. But unlike Newt Gingrich or other prominent Republicans, Limbaugh doesn't have to mind his tongue.

And the liberal political apparatus is at battle stations taking note of his every comment.

Media Matters, the left-leaning media watchdog and advocacy group, began a "Limbaugh Wire" web-site Tuesday to track him. "For a long time Americans haven't really been aware that he's so influential," said Eric Burns, the group's president.

Democrats are now working hard to ensure that changes.

"He's driving the Republican reluctance to deal with Obama, which Americans want," said Greenberg. "He's the policeman [keeping them in line]."

They'll all get a fresh hook for the story after Wednesday, when a Democratic polling firm goes into the field to test, among other things, Limbaugh's standing with the public.

All the attention only offers upside for the buzz-hungry Limbaugh, said Carville.

"The television cameras just can't stay away from him," Carville said Tuesday, a day when cable news played images of Limbaugh seemingly on a loop. "Our strategy depends on him keeping talking, and I think we're going to succeed."

We were deeply moved to have the opportunity this past week to hear in person the heroic Dutchman Geert Wilders. Wilders is risking his freedom and his life in warning his fellow countrymen, all of Europe and now the United States of the insidious threat of Islam. While it is waging active war in many parts of the world, in Europe its principal weapon is the demographic bomb -- unlimited immigration from Muslim countries and high birth rates (British news just reported that Muslims in Britain are growing TEN TIMES faster than the native population) -- flavored with sporadic terrorism and a great deal of intimidation and many demands for special treatment. There are already 50 million Muslims in Europe, the vast majority of which are living apart, totally uninterested in integrating and becoming part of European culture. In fact, they are forcing Europe to succumb to Islamic ways and Sharia, Islamic law, is only followed in the self-segregated Muslim ghettoes. Jews are terrorized, women are cattle and men reign supreme.

In the United States the message of Islamic superiority over the American way of life is taught in many if not most mosques and Islamic schools, certainly so in those funded by Saudi Arabia -- and at least two-thirds are. Numerous Islamic organizations actively advance the cause of Islamic supremacism, looking forward to the day when Islamic law supplants the U.S. Constitution. The Muslim Brotherhood plan for America was recently revealed in a federal prosecution in Texas: Destroy rotton America from within.

Wilders' brave voice was heard in Boston, New York and on Capitol Hill under the sponsorship of Senator Kyl of Arizona.

The Stoughton hall where Wilders spoke was filled with hundreds of admirers who rose as one as he entered and applauded and applauded. For many, including this writer, we knew we were in the presence of a great man. We knew that he was telling a truth that people did not want to hear or think about, but they must. Wilders faces prosecution and jail for telling the truth in his native land, so far gone in Holland is the cause of free speech. While we in America can still speak out we must follow his example. It is our responsibility to take the message of Geert Wilders and spread it far and wide if America is to be saved from this spreading evil of Islamic supemacism.

Preceding Wilders' address his short film (15 minutes or so) Fitna was shown. To view it, click here.


For more, see Solomonia.

WHY IS OBAMA ABANDONING ISRAEL?

The Middle East's most perceptive observer Caroline Glick analyzes the challenges Israel faces as the Netanyahu government takes over. The principal enemy it now must deal with is the Obama administration, which Obama has filled with people who hate Israel. Does Obama believe that if he offers up a defenseless Israel to the Muslim world Islam's war against America will end? Is he that naïve or is he advancing another's cause?

Entrapping Netanyahu
By Caroline B. Glick

Negotiations between Likud and its coalition partners towards the formation of Israel's next government have only just begun. But the campaign to undermine the government-in-formation's ability to determine Israel's future course is already well underway. Incoming Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu must understand the traps being set for him and their sources. And as he builds his government, he must appoint ministers capable of working with him to extricate Israel from those traps and discredit their sources.

On Thursday US President Barack Obama's Middle East envoy George Mitchell arrived in Israel for his second visit. Whereas Mitchell's last visit - which took place in the last days of the electoral campaign -- was touted as a "listening tour," Mitchell made clear that during his current stay, he intends to begin calling shots.

His first order of business, we are told, is to pressure the outgoing government to destroy the so-called outpost communities in Judea and Samaria and expel the hundreds of Israeli families who live in them. To defend this call for intra-Israeli instability and violence, Mitchell notes that Prime Minister Ehud Olmert gave his word to former president George W. Bush that he would destroy these communities.

Lest Israelis believe that Mitchell will drop this demand once Olmert leaves office, he has made clear that as far as he is concerned, Olmert's pledge was not his own - but Israel's. In Mitchells' view, it binds Netanyahu no less than Olmert. So if Olmert leaves office without having sent IDF soldiers to throw women and children from their homes, Mitchell, Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will feel free to pressure Netanyahu to take on the task and punish him if he refuses.

If the Obama administration believes that the presence of Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria is the primary obstacle to peace, then the Hamas regime in Gaza is the second greatest obstacle to peace. As long as Hamas, a recognized terror group is in charge, the administration will be hard-pressed to push Israel to accept a Palestinian state.

To remedy this situation, the Obama administration has opted for a political fiction. The President and his aides have decided that a Hamas-Fatah government will moderate Hamas and therefore such a government will not only be legitimate, it is desirable. Whereas when the first Hamas-Fatah government formed in March 2007, the Bush administration refused to have anything to do with it, today the Obama administration is actively backing its reestablishment.

As the Obama administration apparently sees it, a Hamas-Fatah government will provide cover for stepped up pressure on Israel to surrender land to the Palestinians in Judea and Samaria because Israel will no longer be able to claim that it has no Palestinian partner. A Hamas-Fatah government will also allow the US to directly support the Palestinians in Gaza by coercing Israel to transfer full control over its borders with Gaza to Hamas, (which will be represented by Fatah), and by enabling the US to provide direct aid to Palestinian Authority agencies in Gaza.

To advance the administration's efforts to legitimize Hamas, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will begin her first visit to the region at a conference in Cairo on Monday that seeks to raise some $2.8 billion for Gaza. She will pledge nearly a third of that amount -- $900 million -- in the name of US taxpayers.

The administration claims that none of this money, which it plans to funnel through UNRWA, will go towards funding Hamas. But this contention is demonstrably false. UNRWA openly collaborates with Hamas. Its workers double as Hamas combatants. Its refugee camps and schools are used as Hamas training bases and missile launch sites. Its mosques are used as recruiting grounds. And as UNRWA's willingness to transfer a letter from Hamas to US Senator John Kerry during his visit to Gaza last week demonstrated, the UN agency is also willing to act as Hamas's surrogate.

While it makes sense for Hamas to agree to join a unity government which will leave it in charge of Gaza and expand its control to Judea and Samaria as well, on the surface it makes little sense for Fatah to agree to a deal that would subordinate it to the same forces who brutally removed it from power in Gaza in 2007. But Fatah has several good reasons to be enthusiastic about the deal.

First, by joining Hamas, Fatah will be able to get its hands on a considerable portion of the international aid money expected to pour into Gaza. Second, by joining Hamas, Fatah neutralizes - at least in the short term - Hamas's interest in destroying it as a political force in Palestinian society. Fatah leader Mahmoud Abbas's term in office as PA Chairman expired last month. Were elections to be held today, he would lose a bid for reelection to Hamas's candidate by a wide margin. By joining a Hamas government, he will probably avoid the need to stand for reelection anytime soon.

For Israel, a US-supported Hamas-Fatah government is a hellish prospect. The political support such a government will lend to the terror war against Israel will be enormous. But beyond that, such a government, supported by the US will likely cause Israel security nightmares.

As a good will gesture ahead of the opening of unity talks this week in Cairo, Fatah released the Hamas operatives its US-trained forces arrested. Due to US pressure, over the past year, Israel allowed those forces to deploy in Jenin and Hebron, and in recent months they took some significant actions against Hamas operatives in those areas. Based on this record of achievement, Clinton and Mitchell have been pressuring Israel to transfer security control over all the Palestinian cities in Judea and Samaria to these forces.

But now that Fatah and Hamas are acting in concert, any such transfers of authority to Fatah will constitute a surrender of control to Hamas. While no Israeli government could accept such a demand, the Obama administration, which supports the Hamas-Fatah government, is likely to view Israel's refusal to continue to cooperate with Fatah as a reason to criticize Israel. The Obama administration's ability to disregard the will of the Israeli voters and the prerogatives of the incoming government owes in large part to the legacy that the outgoing Olmert-Livni-Barak government is leaving behind. The outgoing government set the conditions for the Obama administration's policies in three ways. First, by not defeating Hamas in Operation Cast Lead and then agreeing to negotiate a ceasefire with the terror group, the government paved the way for Hamas's acceptance by the US and Europe as a legitimate political force.

Just as its willingness to conduct negotiations with Syria paved the way for the administration's current courtship of Iran's Arab client state, and its willingness to accept UN Security Council resolution 1701 which placed Hizbullah on equal footing with Israel at the end of the Second Lebanon War, so too, the outgoing government's willingness to negotiate with Hamas has facilitated the current US and European drive to accept the Iranian proxy as a legitimate political force in Palestinian society.

Second, since Hamas's electoral victory in January 2006, the outgoing government accepted the false narrative that the Palestinian people in Gaza, who freely voted Hamas into power and have supported its regime ever since, bear no responsibility for the consequences of their actions. This false distinction between Hamas's supporters and Hamas effectively tied Israel's hands each time it was compelled to defend itself against Hamas's aggression against it. After all, if Gazans are all innocent, then Israel's primary responsibility should be to make sure that they are safe. And since its counter-terror operations necessarily place them at risk, those operations are fair game for international condemnation.

Moreover, at the same time that Israel accepted the dishonest distinction between Hamas and its supporters, it willingly took on responsibility for the welfare of Gaza residents. As Hamas shelled Sderot and Ashkelon and surrounding communities, Israel bowed to international pressure to supply its enemy and its enemy's supporters with food, medicine, fuel, water, and anything else that Hamas and the West could reasonable or unreasonably claim fell under the rubric of humanitarian aid. Had Israel not accepted responsibility for a population that freely chose to be led by a group dedicated to its annihilation, today Clinton would be hard pressed to pressure Israel to open its border crossings into Gaza, or to justify giving $900 million to Gaza.

Finally, through its unlimited support for Fatah, the outgoing government has made it enormously difficult for the incoming government to explain its objections to the Obama administration's policies either to the Israeli people or to the Americans themselves. By supporting Fatah, the Olmert-Livni-Barak government set up a false distinction between supposed moderates and supposed extremists. That distinction ignored and so legitimized Fatah's continued involvement in terrorism, its political war against Israel and its refusal to accept Israel's right to exist.

If Fatah is legitimate despite is bad behavior and bellicose ideology, then two things must be true. First, abstaining from terror can no longer be viewed as a precondition for receiving international legitimacy. And second, there is no reason not to accept Hamas. Based on the latter conclusion, many European leaders and Israeli leftists now openly call for conducting negotiations with Hamas. And based on the former conclusion, the Obama administration feels comfortable escalating its demands that Israel give land, security powers and money to Fatah even as it unifies its forces with Hamas and so expands Hamas's power from Gaza to Judea and Samaria.

Due to the Olmert-Livni-Barak government's legacy, when it enters office the Netanyahu government will lack the vocabulary it needs to abandon Israel's current self-defeating course with the Palestinians and defend its actions to the international community in the face of the Obama administration's use of dishonest terms like "peace processes" and "moderates" and "humanitarian aid" to constrain Israel's ability to defend itself. To surmount these challenges, Netanyahu must move immediately to change the terms of debate on the Palestinian issue.

Despite his great rhetorical gifts, Netanyahu cannot change the terms of international debate by himself. He needs two seasoned public figures who understand the nature of these challenges at his side. If Netanyahu appoints Natan Sharansky Foreign Minister and Moshe (Bogie) Ya'alon Defense Minister, he will have the top level support he needs to overcome his predecessors' legacy and change the nature of contemporary discourse on the Palestinians and on Israel's strategic significance to the West in the face of staunch opposition from Washington.

Like Netanyahu, Sharansky and Ya'alon understand the basic dishonesty of the current international conversation relating to the Palestinians. Both men have come out publicly against the false policy paradigms that have guided both the outgoing government and the US and Europe. Both are capable of working with Netanyahu to free Israel from the policy trap being set for him.

-- Caroline Glick is the senior fellow for Middle East policy at Washington's Center for Security Policy and the deputy managing editor of the Jerusalem Post. Her most recent long work is Shackled Warrior, available at Amazon.com.

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