November 28, 2009

Who will pass the test of not hating Jews and the State of Israel?

The Israel Test

By GEORGE GILDER
Richard Vigilante Books

Redacted from an in-depth, astute analytical review
By MICHAEL MEDVED
COMMENTARY, November 2009

It wasn’t the author’s intention, to be sure, but George Gilder’s new book, The Israel Test, may infect some Jewish readers with a bad case of WASP envy: Only a Protestant patrician with no hint of Hebraic background would dare to write so positively about Israel and the Jews. To those who seek to explain murderous hostility to Israel with reference to its supposed policy failures or purportedly harsh treatment of Palestinians, Gilder elegantly responds: “Locked in a debate over Israel’s alleged vices, they miss the salient truth running through the long history of anti-Semitism: Israel is hated above all for its virtue.”

Chief among those virtues, in Gilder’s frankly philo-Semitic view, are Jewish intelligence, creativity, entrepreneurial energy, and economic productivity all of which are widely condemned as disproportionate and therefore inherently unjust In this respect, hostility to Israel bears an unmistakable and significant connection to worldwide hostility toward capitalism:
Anti-capitalists, like anti-Semites throughout history; have always been obsessed with the “gaps” everywhere discernable between different groups: gaps of income, power, achievement and status. Against the background of Palestinian poverty, anti-capitalists and anti-Semites alike see Israel as primarily a creator not of wealth but of gaps.

This insight deftly solves the riddle of how secular Marxists like Hugo Chavez can make common cause with medieval-minded Islamists like Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. In their enmity toward Israel and the United States, they share a hatred of individual success, of dynamic and productive free markets, that transcends all their ideological differences. That obsessive hatred has proved vastly more destructive for those who harbor and encourage it than for the societies against which it is directed. The common thread binding brutal Muslim theocracies, failed socialist utopias, and fetid third-world kleptocracies is the insistence on blaming the accomplishments of others for their own manifold failures and explaining the stranglehold of local poverty as the result of the economic progress somewhere else.

To Gilder, history teaches conclusively that misery stems, in fact, from the belief that wealth inheres in things and material resources that can be seized and redistributed, rather than in human minds and creations that thrive only in peace and freedom. In particular, the self inflicted misery of the Arabs of the Middle East stems chiefly from the covetous and crippling idea among them that Israel’s wealth is not only the source of their humiliation but also the cause of their poverty.

In one of The Israel Test’s most important chapters, Gilder reviews the Palestinian predicament, pointing out that mass Jewish immigration to the Middle East, and even Israeli military control of the West Bank and Gaza, decisively raised the living standards of local Arab populations. Citing authoritative figures from the International Monetary Fund, Gilder identifies the so-called occupied territories as “one of the most dynamic economies on earth” between the time of Israel’s takeover in 1967 and the commencement of the first Intifada in 1987.

During that period, per capita income tripled in the West Bank while it rose in Gaza more than twenty fold—from $80 to $1,706. This startling progress could not placate the rejectionist Arab leadership, any more than Israeli withdrawals from Sinai, southern Lebanon, and Gaza have brought acceptance from the wider Arab world. Gilder sneers at American policymakers in every administration who seem to believe that “the key problem in the Middle East is that Israel has too much land! Considering the diminutive dimensions of the Jewish state (approximately the size of New Jersey), the argument is absurd on the face of it.

Moreover, whatever the Arabs of the jihad and the Intifada mean by the word “land” cannot be satisfied by giving up any particular patch of ground. Land to them is less transactional than transcendent and apocalyptic. As with all the ideologies of race and fatherland, all the cults of blood and soil, with all their ruinous and romantic rejections of modernity, inevitably making the Jews their first chosen enemies, they are haunted and driven by demons no ”Peace Process” can exorcise. The echoes of Nazi themes and tropes are deliberate: Gilder traces the origins of Palestinian nationalism to Hitler’s most prominent Muslim supporter and collaborator Haj Amin al-Husseini, the Grand Multi of Jerusalem (and uncle of Yasir Arafat - may both their souls rot in Hell. jsk)

The Israel Test also offers a careful reading of Hitler’s, Mein Kampf and notes that “the deeper Jewish offenses that he primarily details and denounces” are “all expressions not of cultural inferiority or Marxist machinations but of capitalist superiority. The fundamental conflict in the world pits the advocates of capitalist freedom, economic growth and property against the exponents of blood and soil and violence?

In making his case, Gilder does not ignore the irony that Israel’s founders were themselves hostile to capitalism. He is unsparing in his criticism of earlier generations of Israeli leadership, not just for their frequent naiveté and sentimentality in dealing with their Arab neighbors but also for their stubborn refusal to embrace the free-market principles that had allowed Jews to prosper nearly everywhere else in the world.

Benjamin Netanyahu emerges as a special hero in the book for his warnings to the West of the dangers of Islamo-fascist terror (more than 20 years before 2001), as well as for his central role in shifting his country away from its sclerotic, over-regulated, welfare-state economy. In his first term as prime minister (1996-99) and later as finance minister (2002-03), Netanyahu spearheaded the tax cuts and other business-friendly policies that stimulated the explosion of Israeli high-tech and made the Jewish state’s economy one of the most vibrant and productive in the world. As such, Israel serves today as the perfect example of Gilder’s long-standing theme (going back at least to Wealth and Poverty in 1981) that wealth as a product of mind always trumps power that depends on matter. “As one of the world’s most profitable economies built on one of the world’s most barren territories,” he writes here, “Israel challenges all the materialist superstitions of zero-sum economics based on the ‘distribution’ of natural resources and the exploitation of land and labor?’

Even at its most digressive, Gilder’s book fascinates and entertains, bristling with unexpected insights and dry wit. Noting the “objective anti-Semitism” of “Karl Marx, Noam Chomsky, Friedrich Engels, Howard Zinn, Naomi Klein and other Jewish leftists who above all abhor capitalism,” he dryly concludes, “Jews, amazingly, excel so readily in all intellectual fields that they out-perform all rivals even in the arena of anti-Semitism?’ He also explains the designation of Yasir Arafat’s successor, Mahmoud Abbas, as a widely hailed “moderate?’ Gilder notes: “This seems to be the term for anti-Semites who are ambivalent about whether to celebrate the Holocaust or to deny that it occurred.”

Like his previous provocations, Sexual Suicide (1973), Naked Nomad (1974) and Telecosm (2000), this new book is powerful enough to open eyes and even, perhaps, to open minds. And, it is nowhere more powerful than in its treatment of the relationship between anti-Israel sentiment and anti-American activism and the ways in which both connect with the same envious, leveling instinct that seeks to bury capitalism. They are also bound by an intertwined history:

The achievements of the twentieth century are heavily attributable to the capitalism in the West and its ability to accommodate the genius of the Jews. Without them, the world would be radically poorer and its prospects for the future would be decisively dimmed. As with America, so with Israel. Israel is not a dispensable Jewish “best friend,” a noble but doomed democracy, or even a charitable dependency we can no longer afford. It is an indispensable ally, and in the past twenty years, it has evolved into perhaps our most valuable partner.

Gilder’s impassioned volume is an unambiguous, unapologetic and unshakable brief on behalf of the virtues and glories of the Jewish state and its outsized importance as a harbinger of a better future. As such, The Israel Test presents a particular challenge for American Jews—a test to see whether they can speak as boldly and without qualification for the Zionist project as the righteous Gentile who posed it.


Posted by Jerome S. Kaufman at 07:53 PM | Comments (0)

November 27, 2009

Before our very eyes ... Shariah-compliant stock index comes to Toronto Stock Exchange!

From:American Islamic Forum for Democracy - Dr. M. Zuhdi Jasser, President

http://www.aifdemocracy.org

By Atara Beck

The Jewish Tribune, October 2009

TORONTO - Shariah law has hit the local economic community with the launch of a new Canadian stock index: the S&P/TSX (Toronto Stock Exchange) Shariah 60. This Standard & Poor's index is a variant of the TSX 60, representing the large-cap segment of the Canadian equities market. The crucial difference is the rules and strictures applicable to Muslims regarding financial and commercial activities, which therefore excludes many sectors.

A supervisory board consisting of Muslim scholars was appointed to ensure that the companies in the index abide by Shariah law. One of the four, Abdul Sattar Abu Guddah, who holds a Ph.D. in Islamic law from Al Azhar University in Cairo, was accused of being closely affiliated with Sheikh Muhammad Taqi Usmani, who has been removed from numerous boards of Western banks. Abu Guddah was on the board of the al-Baraka Bank, which was implicated in the financing of 9/11 terrorism in the US. The allegations against the bank were later dismissed.

Four years ago, Dr. Rachel Ehrenfeld, director of the American Center for Democracy and author of Funding Evil: How Terrorism is Financed and How to Stop It, warned of an international "Islamic impetus…to impose Sharia-governed banking on the West" in an article on Human Events.com. She quoted former Malaysian Prime Minister Mohamed Mahathir telling a banking conference in 2002 of the need "to absorb the 11 September shock and reinforce the stability of Islamic finance."

At that conference, representatives of nine Islamic nations gathered to set up an Islamic Financial Services Board (IFSB) to "act as a global authority for Islamic banking and finance" and "to compete with secular US and international banking regulatory agencies," Ehrenfeld wrote. She also mentioned Abu Ghuddah as having been on the Sharia Board of Al Baraka Investment and Development Corporation, and "although charges against the bank were dismissed, the victims contend that the bank, together with Saudi officials and businessmen, facilitated the attacks on America."

Some media outlets and pundits around the world have commented that prominent members of Shariah finance boards are enemies of Western civilization and endorse cruelty such as wife beating as well as violent jihad. In an interview with the Jewish Tribune, Dr. M. Zuhdi Jasser, president of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy (AIFD), declared:

"At the core, it's the establishment issue in the First Amendment [of the US Constitution] separating religion from state that they can't stand. They want clerics to not only teach religion, but also to teach law. "Muslims are fully capable of determining on their own where they want to donate and how they want to arrange their financial interactions. There is no need for a packaged product run by any clerics in order to allow Muslims to facilitate their religious charity giving, and in fact, all these Shariah financial banks do is empower clerics to impose their values upon the Muslim community with the facilitation of Standard and Poor's or whatever large Western economic interests are there. "The key [point] is it allows them to wield millions of dollars and then use that as a political instrument. They want to control the methods and the causes for which this money is used."

Jasser, a Muslim, said he grew up in a religiously observant family and was taught that there is no conflict with capitalism. "Shariah is one of the pillars of our faith," he explained. "But the bottom line is that as much as it's G-d's law, human beings are interpreting it. "Our concern with all of these funds is they are basically attempting to carve out from the global economy all Muslim money on the pretext that Western society and capitalism are in contradiction to Islam…falsely perceived as anti-Islamic."

He discussed the issues surrounding ribah - Arabic for interest - in the Koran.
"It really means usury, excessive interest," he said, accusing some Islamist financiers of "creating schemes." For example, "they might create trusts or funds and say, 'you're not paying interest, but lease-to-buy contract while living in the house,'" which often costs more. "The North American Islamic Trust (NAIT) owns more than 50 per cent of the mosques in America," he said.

"They do this moral-based evaluation and then determine where to put the money," he stated. "Make no mistake. So-called sharia compliant financing (SCF) is neither about religion nor about G-d. It is about Islamist control and collectivization of Muslims against the West and free markets. SCF systems are nothing more than a ruse to give transnational Islamist movements and their controlling Muslim theocrats an economic power base. Attempts to appease requests by Islamists to provide for socalled SCF are misguided. SCF provides sanction of a dangerously separatist economic system that incubates Islamist ideology among Muslims and keeps them apart from the general population."

Dave Guarino, spokesperson for S&P Indices, when asked to comment, told the Jewish Tribune, "The S&P/TSX 60 Shariah Index is a benchmark index, meaning that it is designed to offer investors a way to measure the performance of this segment of the Canadian market. It is not an investment vehicle. Since Standard & Poor's does not market, sell or promote any investment products based upon this index, we would have no further comment."

Carolyn Shaw-Rimmington, the Ontario Securities Commission's assistant manager, Public Affairs, said, "A Shariah investment fund is subject to the same degree of review and oversight as any publicly offered investment fund. It must comply with all applicable securities legislation, including the requirement to have a registered portfolio manager.



Posted by Jerome S. Kaufman at 04:16 AM | Comments (0)

November 25, 2009

Thanksgiving, George Washington, Colonial Jews and the Forgotten Hero And Yes – A Nation under G-d - of all things!

Redacted from an article by David R. Stokes
The Jewish Press, November 20, 2009

Ever hear of Gershom Mendel Seixas?

(Most probably not – You are far more likely to have heard of Vic Seixas, surely an illustrious member of the same family tree.)

Elias Victor Seixas, Jr. (born August 30, 1923) is a former American male tennis player. Seixas was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, of Portuguese Jewish ancestry. (Who, you will remember, escaped from the Spanish Inquisition 1492 and may have been on Columbus’s boats! jsk) After serving in World War II, he attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC), where he was a member of Alpha Sigma of the Chi Psi fraternity. He graduated in 1949, the same year that UNC awarded him the Patterson Medal in athletics. Thirteen times, he was ranked in the Top Ten in the U.S. between 1942 and 1966. In 1951, Seixas was ranked # 4 in the world, two spots below Dick Savitt, while he was # 1 in the U.S. ranking, one spot ahead of Savitt. In 1953, Seixas was ranked # 3 in the world, his high point. (jsk from Wikipedia).

Well, Gershon Mendel Seixas might just be the forgotten hero of Thanksgiving. Our national Thanksgiving narrative is rich with stories about proclamations, gatherings, meals, traditions, football, and of course, the obligatory pardoning of a turkey by the president of the United States. Schoolchildren rehearse that day long ago when the Plymouth pilgrims broke bread. We note things Lincoln said and doubtless, you have heard about what our first president, George Washington, declared while proclaiming the first official national day of Thanksgiving in 1789:

“I do recommend and assign Thursday, the 26th day of November next, to be devoted by the people of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being who is the beneficent author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be;
That we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks for His kind care and protection of the people of this country, previous to their becoming a nation;
· For the signal and manifold mercies and the favorable interpositions of His providence in the course and conclusion of the late war;
· For the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty which we have since enjoyed;
· For the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enable to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness,
· And, particularly the national one now lately instituted for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed,
· And, the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and, in general, for all the great and various favors which He has been pleased to confer upon us.”

We hear much these days about our “Judeo-Christian” heritage and its early and enduring influence on our culture. A look back at the founding era of our nation reminds us, however, that only about 2,500 Jews actually lived in the colonies in 1776. Usually those of us who speak of that early dual influence are referring to the Christian Bible with its Jewish roots. But, pointing this out is not to say that Jews were not active and represented during the colonial and founding periods. Quite the contrary — there are some fascinating -and often overlooked stories.

Gershon Mendes Seixas is a case in point. Described as “American Judaism’s first public figure,” he was appointed, in 1768, chazzan of New York’s Congregation Shearith Israel — the only synagogue serving the city’s approximately 300 Jewish residents. He was just 23 years old at the time. Largely self-taught in the Talmud with much help from his devout father, he never actually became an “official” rabbi. In fact, it would be several decades before a rabbi was ordained in America. Seixas was the first Jewish preacher to use the English language in his homilies. He was a gifted teacher and tireless worker. And, when it came to the American Revolution, he was a patriot — as demonstrated by his actions while the colonies were struggling to actually realize the independence that had been recently proclaimed.

His synagogue, like much of the greater public, was somewhat divided on the issue of independence. But, Seixas used all of his persuasive skills to convince his congregation that they should cease operations in advance of the approaching British occupation of the city. During the early days of the
Conflict. He fled to his wife’s family home in Connecticut, carrrying various books and scrolls precious to the synagogue for safekeeping. In 1780, he accepted the leadership role at a synagogue in Philadelphia where he became an outspoken cultural voice regularly calling on God to watch over General Washington and the great cause. When the war ended, he was invited back to resume his work with Congregation Shearith Israel in New York. He returned with the books and scrolls to serve from 1784 until his death 32 years later.

When George Washington was inaugurated as the first president of the United States on April 30, 1789, Seixas was asked to participate as one of the presiding clergyman. This was certainly an act of gratitude by Washington for the preacher’s stalwart support during the war. It was also, though, an expression of Washington’s thinking about the importance of religious freedom and diversity in the new nation. Later that year, as the nation set aside Thursday, the 26th of November, the date so designated by the president for Thanksgiving, Seixas preached a sermon to his New York congregation.
His Thanksgiving Day message was based on a text from the Psalms where it talks about how King David had “made a joyful noise unto the Lord.”

Seixas told his listeners that they had much to rejoice about — “the new nation, its president, and above all, the new constitution” Warming to his theme, he reminded them that they were “equal partakers of every benefit that results from this good government,” and therefore should be good citizens in full support of the government. Beyond that, they were encouraged to conduct themselves as “living evidences of his divine power and unity.” He further admonished them “to live as Jews ought to do in brotherhood and amity, to seek peace and pursue it.”

As the nation prepares to celebrate Thanksgiving next week, Gershom Mendes Seixas’s sermon is every bit as relevant to all of us 220 years later.

David R. Stokes is a minister, columnist, author and broadcaster. He lives in Fairfax, Virginia.

Posted by Jerome S. Kaufman at 10:17 AM | Comments (0)

November 24, 2009

How is it with the “politically correct”, Major Hasan, the Jihadist, is the victim?

By Phyllis Chesler
http://pajamasmedia.com/phyllischesler

Our President is quoted in the pages of the New York Times advising us not to “jump to conclusions.” This, from the charmer who bowed before the Saudi King and who betrayed Muslim women in his Cairo speech. Ordinarily, I’d agree with such advice. The military does first have to investigate the matter fully. One can’t always believe what one reads in the media, etc. But, so much of the truth is already quite clear that it would be insane, insulting to the intelligence to deny or minimize it.

Quickly, reflexively, without waiting for more of the facts to emerge, the mainstream print media has instantly decided that is a tormented “innocent” who must have snapped under alleged conditions of extreme provocation and humiliation. The mainstream media assures people that there is no such thing as jihad. The Ft. Hood massacre has nothing to do with Islam or with violent jihad; that if there are any victims here, it is not the dead and wounded soldiers (whose young and beautiful faces have begun to haunt me)–but the man accused of their mass murders!

The portrait of Major Hasan, to be found in the pages of the New York Times, is that of a solitary and tormented man. He is the one who was being forced to fight in a war he opposed for religious reasons. He considers it an unjust war and viewed America as the aggressor, and Muslims, especially Muslim suicide killers, as innocent, justified, even heroic. So far, he sounds like a New York Times reader himself.

I am a psychologist, a retired Professor of Psychology and a psycho-analytically oriented psychotherapist. But I have also been following current events, even studying them. Based on the evidence to date, Major Hasan’s bloody rampage seems to have been planned. The day before the murders, he gave away his furniture and copies of his Qu’ran. On that day, Major Hasan also had a mysterious, brief meeting with another man dressed in Islamic clothing. And he used his neighbor’s computer.

Thus, Hasan’s action was a planned execution. It was not the act of a man who suddenly “snapped.” Yes, as I wrote in my earlier piece, we may characterize Hasan’s action as a case of Sudden Jihad Syndrome but that does not mean I am making an actual psychiatric diagnosis. The phrase is descriptive, perhaps even sarcastic. Yes, we may call this the act of a lone shooter–if it turns out that he acted alone–but still, this lone shooter was someone who was inspired by a radical Islamist ideology which views such murderous acts as religiously heroic not as “psychiatrically deranged.”

In Gaza or on the West Bank, Major Hasan would be given a hero’s parade. Osama bin Laden’s followers will print posters and banners with his face. Some may choose to view him as dysfunctional, psychiatrically challenged, socially inappropriate, isolated, inflexible, fanatical–but that does not justify or excuse his jihadic crime? Many religious fanatics are also “mentally ill.” It is the religious ideology that empowers criminal–and in Hasan’s case, treasonous activity. Hasan did not commit jihadic mass murder because he is “mentally ill” but because he is a jihadist.

Now we come to a paradox with which we must wrestle. Just as we cannot excuse honor murders in the West because they are excused or acceptable in other cultures, it may be unwise to psychiatrically diagnose culturally “different” behaviors as if such behaviors were part of the West. The lone shooters of Columbine and the lone bomber of Oklahoma City were not being fueled, inspired, strengthened, or supported, by a large, growing, fundamentalist religious movement which had the blessings of a particular religion.

This is not the case with violent jihad in the name of radical Islam. It does not matter if there are early passages in the Qu’ran which counsel peacefulness; later passages cancel or “abrogate” them. It does not matter that many Muslims may be peaceful people or may genuinely want peace. The brand of Islam now loose in the world is the violent and hating kind whose ideas may also be found in the Qu’ran. There were, no doubt, many Germans, Russians, Chinese, Cambodian and North Korean people who disagreed with Nazism, fascism, doctrines of racial superiority and totalitarian rule–but so what? They did not stand up to their own leaders who claimed ideological and doctrinal support for their mass-murdering regimes.

But there is also something else to consider, something that the media has not yet seized upon. One of my readers, Deborah Weisman, has pointed out that Major Hasan is a self-identified Palestinian and that Palestinians are absolutely not wanted in Iraq. Palestinians supported Saddam Hussein and as such were feared and hated. Palestinians are endangered and living in tents in Iraq. America even accepted some Palestinians on these grounds.

Perhaps the very Palestinian Major Hasan also feared going to Iraq for this reason too–if he was even being deployed there. And, according to the New York Times, Hasan’s brother, Anas, a lawyer, recently moved to Ramallah where the family has cousins. (This is interesting since Hizb ut Tahrir, as well as other terrorist groups, is active on the West Bank).

Let me remind us all: The entire world, not just the American media and American military, have identified Palestinians as the most noble of victims, as the perpetually most innocent and most wronged of victims. Even those who are smuggling arms into Gaza, lobbing rockets at civilians in Israel, perpetually fooling the western media, murdering their own people and honor murdering their own women–they, too, are still seen as existentially innocent.

Despite the fact that Palestinian leaders and their Iranian allies have stated their genocidal intentions towards Israel (the symbol for the West and its first line of defense), Palestinians are still viewed as the victims of Israeli “Nazi” aggression when Israel fights back in self-defense. And yes, Palestinian civilians are suffering terribly…but primarily at the hands of their own terrorist, reactionary, and misogynist leadership and at the hands of the Arab League. Long ago, any Arab country could have granted citizenship rights to Palestinians, just as Israel did to the 800,000 Arab Jews who were forced to flee from Arab Muslim countries. Arab countries refused to do so.

So: Major Hasan identifies with Palestine. He feels their pain. It speaks to him. He takes it on as his own. He blames America for it. He follows Islam in its most radical incarnation and justifies Islamist suicide terrorists. Indeed, this was one of his problems at the Walter Reed Hospital: He taught precisely this when he should have been teaching subjects like behavioral science or environmental health.

I suggest that America has just tasted the bitter pill that Israel has been forced to swallow daily for nearly a decade. I further suggest that the American military must end its policy of political correctness and weed out those personnel who consistently mistranslate from the Arabic. In addition, social misfits who hold extremist views, especially and specifically Islamist views, should have no place in the American military.

We owe that much to those slaughtered at Ft. Hood and on 9/11.

Posted by Jerome S. Kaufman at 01:42 AM | Comments (0)

November 22, 2009

The Fall Of Israel’s Left – An expert analysis of Israeli political history

By CAROLINE B. GLICK

THE JEWISH PRESS • October 30, 2009

The Israeli Left is in dire straits. The past several months have been some of the worst it has ever experienced. First came Hamas’s missile offensive against Israel late last year. The darkest warnings of those who opposed the 2005 withdrawal from Gaza were borne out as more than a million Israelis from Sderot to Beersheva to Ashdod found themselves under missile, rocket and mortar assault from the Hamas Palestinian terror state. The post-.withdrawal Gaza reality has soured the public definitively against any further withdrawals from Judea, Samaria or Jerusalem.

Then came the Left’s electoral drubbing in March’s general elections. Meretz and Labor were wiped out as political ‘ forces. Although Kadima received the largest number of Knesset seats, its leader, Tzipi Livni is such an incompetent and disagreeable politician that no one outside Kadima was willing to serve in a government led by her.

Labor leader Ehud Barak’s decision to join Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government was another body blow to the Left. By joining Netanyahu, Barak made it impossible for the leftist media to demonize the Netanyahu government as being “far right.” Even worse, by accepting Netanyahu’s governing lines — which exclude the possibility of Israeli withdrawals in Jerusalem and the Golan Heights — Barak positioned Labor to the right of Kadima and so made it impossible for Livni and her colleagues to maintain their fiction that Kadima is a “centrist” party.

Iran’s rise as a mortal threat to Israel is similarly disastrous for the Left. Iran’s repeated calls for Israel’s destruction, its control over Hizbullah, Hamas and Syria, render indefensible the Left’s core assertion that Israel’s size and the absence of a Palestinian state are the source of all instability and war in the Middle East. So too, Iran’s sponsorship of the insurgency in Iraq, and its leading role in the insurgency in Afghanistan make it impossible for the Israeli Left to continue to argue that the Palestinian conflict with Israelis unrelated to the Islamist fight against the U.S.

Perhaps the worst blow to the Israeli Left is the Obama administration’s treatment of Israel. The Left never enjoyed the support of a majority of Israelis. In recent years, its leaders — Yitzhak Rabin, Ehud Barak, Ariel Sharon after 2004 and Ehud Olmert — owed their electoral success to their ability during their campaigns to hide the fact that they were leftists from the public.

Because the Left’s policy prescriptions have never been strongly supported by the majority of Israelis, these leaders, once in office, relied on successive U.S. administrations to sell their policies to the Israeli public for them. Despite the massive increase in terror after Rabin signed the Oslo accords with the PLO, and despite the Palestinians’ obvious bad faith, Israelis were willing to continue the Oslo process because Bill Clinton was perceived as a warm friend of Israel. So too, despite the moral and strategic perversity of the Gaza withdrawal, the Israeli public supported it in large part because George W. Bush supported it and the Israeli public trusted Bush.

However, the Obama administration is a breed apart. Since taking office, President Obama and his advisers have managed to convince between 88 and 98 percent of Israelis that they do not support Israel. This dim assessment of the administration has brought about a situation where the Israeli Left has been stripped of one of its most formidable weapons. It is unable to blame the Netanyahu government for poor relations with the U.S. In addition, since the U.S. administration is viewed as hostile, the Left cannot argue that it is reasonable for Israel to give away more land to the Palestinians because the U.S. will support Israel if it does.

To extricate itself from its current bind, the Israeli, Left is trying to strengthen its ties to the American Jewish Left in the hopes that doing so will strengthen its relationship with the Obama administration. To this end, the Israeli Left is flirting with the new, deep-pocketed (thanks to the inexplicably misinformed and destructive George Soros – jsk) leftist J Street lobby. Whereas Israel’s ambassador to the U.S., Michael Oren, refused to attend J Street’s inaugural convention this week in Washington, Livni sent the group a congratulatory letter and senior members of Kadima, Labor and Meretz attended the conference.

The Israeli Left’s embrace of J Street is dangerous because the more we learn about J Street, the more hollow the group’s protestations ring that it is pro-Israel. Just as, for example, members of Jews for Jesus use the language of Judaism to hide the fact that they are Christians, J Street uses the language of Zionism to push an anti-Israel agenda.

Israeli leftists are attracted to J Street because they share the group’s view that barring Israeli construction in Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem and expelling all Jews living beyond Israel’s 1949 armistice lines from their homes is Israel’s most urgent policy challenge. But, beyond that, Israeli leftists rely on J Street as a credible ally in their fight against the Netanyahu government.

This is first and foremost the case because of J Street’s position on Iran. J Street opposes placing sanctions on Iran for its illicit nuclear weapons program and it vociferously objects to the very notion of U.S. or Israeli military strikes against Iran’s nuclear installations in a bid to set back Iran’s nuclear program. Among J Street’s financial backers are prominent member of Iranian lobbying groups in the U.S.

Unlike their colleagues in J Street, Israeli leftists will have to live under the threat of an Iranian nuclear attack if Iran is not stopped from reaching the nuclear finish line. They cannot afford to be sanguine on this issue. Due to J Street’s position on Iran, Israeli leftists are compelled to break ranks with the group and stand shoulder to shoulder with the hated Netanyahu government.

Then there is the fact that J Street itself is highly controversial among American Jewish organizations and activists. In the past, leftist Israeli groups like Peace Now, Gush Shalom, B’Tselem and numerous others could receive funding from the likes of the post-Zionist New Israel Fund and not worry that their fellow Israelis would look askance at them. The NIF’s hostility toward the old Israel was not well-known outside narrow, generally right-wing circles among American Jews and in Israel. The same is not the case with J Street.
Since its establishment eighteen months, ago, J Street has been rightly criticized by main stream U.S. Jewish organizations and Jewish activists alike as an anti-Israel group posing as a pro-Israel group. Its support for the Goldstone report, which accuses the IDF of committing war crimes and crimes against humanity during Operation Cast Lead, and J Street’s own outspoken opposition to Israel’s counter-terror campaign against Hamas have marginalized and discredited it in much of the American Jewish community. Moreover, the drubbing it has received at home has been-reported in Israel.

Unlike the NIF, whose subversive post-Zionism has stayed beneath the radar in Israel, J Street is widely perceived by Israelis as post-Zionist. If they embrace J Street too enthusiastically, Israel’s leftist politicians risk exacerbating their own marginalization.

The fall of the Israeli Left has been a long time coming. It is possible that conditions will change facilitating its return to power at some point. However, with its policies discredited and its leaders divided -and in the absence of credible American support - it is more likely than not that we have entered a post-leftist era of Israeli politics.

Caroline Glick is senior contributing editor at The Jerusalem Post.

Posted by Jerome S. Kaufman at 06:48 PM | Comments (0)

November 21, 2009

Health Care Payola and Fuzzy Math via Harry Reid, et al.

I Harry Reid is passing out goodies in hopes of garnering the 60 votes he needs.

By JOHN FUND
Wall Street Journal November 20, 2009

Maneuvering on health care in the Senate may come down to who wants it more and Republicans are drawing a line at some of the more aggressive dilatory parliamentary tactics open to them. On the Democratic side, Majority Leader Harry Reid is passing out goodies in hopes of garnering the 60 votes he needs for a motion to proceed to debate on the bill. Yesterday, Mr. Reid announced he would hold that vote on Saturday at 8 pm after a day-long debate. Whether he has the 60 votes is uncertain, now, but you can bet he will open the taxpayer spigots to secure those he needs. Take Louisiana Senator Mary Landrieu. She's now likely to vote with Mr. Reid on Saturday after an amendment was inserted to increase her state's federal Medicaid subsidies by $100 million. The amendment devotes two pages to language making certain that only Louisiana would be entitled to the extra cash.

On the Republican side, Mr. Reid must be relieved the GOP has apparently decided not to force a reading of the entire 2,074-page bill over the weekend. Instead, Republicans will settle for a full day of debate before the Saturday night vote. Republicans had the option of staying on the floor and having Senator Tom Coburn of Oklahoma and others read the bill, a process that would take at least two days. They opted for a less strenuous path that will allow them to spend plenty of time at home during the Thanksgiving holiday. "Republican members oppose the bill, but they don't appear willing to stay up nights arguing against it," one former Hill staffer told me.

Mr. Reid still has to be nervous as he corrals his 60 votes. He has no margin for error, since he needs all 58 Democrats plus the two independents who caucus with the party to bring his health care bill to the floor. He has to worry particularly about Senator Robert Byrd, who turns 92 today, and has missed more than 130 roll call votes this year due to illness. The old adage that every vote counts actually applies here as the Senate sets about the task of reordering one-sixth of the nation's economy.

II Fuzzy Math clouds cost of Health Bill

BY STEPHEN DINAN

THE WASHINGTON TIMES, November 16, 2009

The official $1.1 trillion price tag for the House Democrats’ health care bill excludes dozens of un-funded programs that could drive up costs when future congresses look to fund them. Republicans said the health care bill includes two dozen programs whose funding is listed as “such sums as may be necessary?’ That amounts to legislative jargon they said, for “We’ll bill you later.” The list of projects ranges from the “No child left un-immunized against influenza” project to 10 programs in the Indian health care system. There are also programs to encourage people to go into nursing and to spur states to restrain medical-malpractice lawsuits.

The tactic is far from new and has been used for years by Republicans and Democrats alike. The health reform examples are just the latest of what has become known as “fuzzy math” — the sort of budgeting that has been drawing extra scrutiny as the economy sputters, federal spending balloons and deficits deepen. Republican leaders said leaving appropriations for a later date meant lawmakers were voting blind Nov. 7 on health reform in the House. “How can members of Congress cast informed votes on a bill when there is no way to know the true cost to the American taxpayer?” said Rep. Jerry Lewis of California, the top Republican on the House Appropriations Committee.

But, Democrats said leaving spending decisions up to future congresses is standard operating procedure under both parties and is the only way to let the appropriations committees weigh priorities. They said authorizing a program doesn’t mean it will get money, and they pointed to a host of programs that have never gotten off the ground because Congress has never funded them properly. “If you’re calling these fuzzy math, then every authorization bill is fuzzy math,” said a Democratic aide, who requested anonymity “It’s not fuzzy math at all. It’s not math. That’s the way Congress works. You authorize a program, and the appropriators appropriate for it.” HUH!

Until the late night health vote on Nov. 7, much of the criticism for fuzzy calculations has been aimed at the administration’s calculation of jobs “saved or created” by the $787 billion stimulus package. Late last month, Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. seemed to stumble over the math, touting that 1 million jobs have been created so far — but immediately adding that those calculations can’t be expected to be “100 percent accurate?’ The official tally is 650,000 jobs saved or created by stimulus investment, but Mr. Biden said the indirect effect of the spending means the real number is much higher.

It is in Congress, though, where bills get written, that creative math is elevated to an art. Douglas Holtz-Eakin, former director of the Congressional Budget Office and chief policy adviser for Sen. John McCain’s presidential campaign, said that’s true of the health care bills winding their way through the Capitol. He said Democrats are counting on spending cuts that “are political fiction;’ adding that by imposing a new surtax but not indexing for inflation they’ve invented yet another budget boon-doggie future congresses will have to adjust every year. “ The Senate and House health bills are exercises in budget gimmicks,” he said.

Congressional Republicans said one problem lies in the holes left by the “such sums as “maybe necessary” language. The Congressional Budget Office, the lawmakers’ official scorekeeper, said it hasn’t yet completed a cost estimate for the programs “subject to future appropriations.” But, the CBO says, it’s tough to imagine the cost would be substantial compared with the trillion-dollar price tag already made public. In using many of these tactics, Democrats are merely following the lead of Republicans who, when they controlled Congress and the White House, splashed red ink across the budget but hid some of it behind gimmicks. For example, where President Obama this year projected long-term war costs and then cut them to show savings, President George W Bush left the costs out almost entirely. Mr. Bush, who popularized the term “fuzzy math” during his 2000 campaign debates with Vice President Al Gore, also began producing a five-year budget rather than the usual 10-year document, which obscured skyrocketing costs in the later years. And Republicans in Congress, during Mr. Bush’s tenure, also played with the timing of his tax cuts to shoehorn them into the budget. This has created an ongoing headache for budgeteers in the years since.

“Everything they wanted to do, they didn’t pay for. Obviously, the tax cuts, 2001 and 2003 Medicare prescription drugs. It’s a whole lot easier to do these policy things, tax cuts, expand Medicare and not to pay for it’ said James R. Homey, director of federal fiscal policy at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. Mr. Obama vowed to do away with those gimmicks in his first budget, which he released in the Spring. He went back to a 10-year budget window and included a 10-year fix to the alternative minimum tax, which Congress traditionally adjusts every year to avoid having it penalize upper-middle-class taxpayers.

Following through on his budget, Mr. Obama has demanded a health care bill that’s paid for, Mr. Homey said. That’s led both houses of Congress to propose tough choices on tax increases and spending cuts, but both chambers are working on bills that will reduce, not increase the deficit — as long as Congress follows through on the cuts that are called for.

On Nov. 9, Mr. Obama told ABC News that he would veto any bill that tries to undo those cuts in the future. Still, Mr. Holtz-Eakin, who is a fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics, said the key test for Mr. Obama is still to come in his next budget, which will be his first full blueprint.
Some of the ideas Mr. Obama included in his 2010 budget, such as assuming $640 billion in revenue from auctioning off carbon emissions under a cap-and-trade climate change plan, have been roundly rejected by Congress. Mr. Obama was counting on that money to fund continuation of his make-work-pay tax cuts.
“I’m not here to defend how it went for the Bush administration, because they included tax policies that never were going to fly. This crowd claims to have set a higher standard,” he said.

Posted by Jerome S. Kaufman at 08:18 PM | Comments (0)

November 20, 2009

How is it with the “politically correct” Major Hasan, the Jihadist, is the victim?

By Phyllis Chesler

http://pajamasmedia.com/phyllischesler

Our President is quoted in the pages of the New York Times advising us not to “jump to conclusions.” This, from the charmer who bowed before the Saudi King and who betrayed Muslim women in his Cairo speech. Ordinarily, I’d agree with such advice. The military does first have to investigate the matter fully. One can’t always believe what one reads in the media, etc. But, so much of the truth is already quite clear that it would be insane, insulting to the intelligence to deny or minimize it.

Quickly, reflexively, without waiting for more of the facts to emerge, the mainstream print media has instantly decided that is a tormented “innocent” who must have snapped under alleged conditions of extreme provocation and humiliation. The mainstream media assures people that there is no such thing as jihad. The Ft. Hood massacre has nothing to do with Islam or with violent jihad; that if there are any victims here, it is not the dead and wounded soldiers (whose young and beautiful faces have begun to haunt me)–but the man accused of their mass murders!

The portrait of Major Hasan, to be found in the pages of the New York Times, is that of a solitary and tormented man. He is the one who was being forced to fight in a war he opposed for religious reasons. He considers it an unjust war and viewed America as the aggressor, and Muslims, especially Muslim suicide killers, as innocent, justified, even heroic.
So far, he sounds like a New York Times reader himself.

I am a psychologist, a retired Professor of Psychology and a psycho-analytically oriented psychotherapist. But I have also been following current events, even studying them. Based on the evidence to date, Major Hasan’s bloody rampage seems to have been planned. The day before the murders, he gave away his furniture and copies of his Qu’ran. On that day, Major Hasan also had a mysterious, brief meeting with another man dressed in Islamic clothing. And he used his neighbor’s computer.

Thus, Hasan’s action was a planned execution. It was not the act of a man who suddenly “snapped.” Yes, as I wrote in my earlier piece, we may characterize Hasan’s action as a case of Sudden Jihad Syndrome but that does not mean I am making an actual psychiatric diagnosis. The phrase is descriptive, perhaps even sarcastic. Yes, we may call this the act of a lone shooter–if it turns out that he acted alone–but still, this lone shooter was someone who was inspired by a radical Islamist ideology which views such murderous acts as religiously heroic not as “psychiatrically deranged.”

In Gaza or on the West Bank, Major Hasan would be given a hero’s parade. Osama bin Laden’s followers will print posters and banners with his face. Some may choose to view him as dysfunctional, psychiatrically challenged, socially inappropriate, isolated, inflexible, fanatical–but that does not justify or excuse his jihadic crime? Many religious fanatics are also “mentally ill.” It is the religious ideology that empowers criminal–and in Hasan’s case, treasonous activity. Hasan did not commit jihadic mass murder because he is “mentally ill” but because he is a jihadist.

Now we come to a paradox with which we must wrestle. Just as we cannot excuse honor murders in the West because they are excused or acceptable in other cultures, it may be unwise to psychiatrically diagnose culturally “different” behaviors as if such behaviors were part of the West. The lone shooters of Columbine and the lone bomber of Oklahoma City were not being fueled, inspired, strengthened, or supported, by a large, growing, fundamentalist religious movement which had the blessings of a particular religion.

This is not the case with violent jihad in the name of radical Islam. It does not matter if there are early passages in the Qu’ran which counsel peacefulness; later passages cancel or “abrogate” them. It does not matter that many Muslims may be peaceful people or may genuinely want peace. The brand of Islam now loose in the world is the violent and hating kind whose ideas may also be found in the Qu’ran. There were, no doubt, many Germans, Russians, Chinese, Cambodian and North Korean people who disagreed with Nazism, fascism, doctrines of racial superiority and totalitarian rule–but so what? They did not stand up to their own leaders who claimed ideological and doctrinal support for their mass-murdering regimes.

But there is also something else to consider, something that the media has not yet seized upon. One of my readers, Deborah Weisman, has pointed out that Major Hasan is a self-identified Palestinian and that Palestinians are absolutely not wanted in Iraq. Palestinians supported Saddam Hussein and as such were feared and hated. Palestinians are endangered and living in tents in Iraq. America even accepted some Palestinians on these grounds.

Perhaps the very Palestinian Major Hasan also feared going to Iraq for this reason too–if he was even being deployed there. And, according to the New York Times, Hasan’s brother, Anas, a lawyer, recently moved to Ramallah where the family has cousins. (This is interesting since Hizb ut Tahrir, as well as other terrorist groups, is active on the West Bank).

Let me remind us all: The entire world, not just the American media and American military, have identified Palestinians as the most noble of victims, as the perpetually most innocent and most wronged of victims. Even those who are smuggling arms into Gaza, lobbing rockets at civilians in Israel, perpetually fooling the western media, murdering their own people and honor murdering their own women–they, too, are still seen as existentially innocent.

Despite the fact that Palestinian leaders and their Iranian allies have stated their genocidal intentions towards Israel (the symbol for the West and its first line of defense), Palestinians are still viewed as the victims of Israeli “Nazi” aggression when Israel fights back in self-defense.

And yes, Palestinian civilians are suffering terribly…but primarily at the hands of their own terrorist, reactionary, and misogynist leadership and at the hands of the Arab League. Long ago, any Arab country could have granted citizenship rights to Palestinians, just as Israel did to the 800,000 Arab Jews who were forced to flee from Arab Muslim countries. Arab countries refused to do so.

So: Major Hasan identifies with Palestine. He feels their pain. It speaks to him. He takes it on as his own. He blames America for it. He follows Islam in its most radical incarnation and justifies Islamist suicide terrorists. Indeed, this was one of his problems at the Walter Reed Hospital: He taught precisely this when he should have been teaching subjects like behavioral science or environmental health.

I suggest that America has just tasted the bitter pill that Israel has been forced to swallow daily for nearly a decade. I further suggest that the American military must end its policy of political correctness and weed out those personnel who consistently mistranslate from the Arabic. In addition, social misfits who hold extremist views, especially and specifically Islamist views, should have no place in the American military.

We owe that much to those slaughtered at Ft. Hood and on 9/11.

Posted by Jerome S. Kaufman at 05:16 PM | Comments (0)

November 18, 2009

Barack Obama, Arab political power and a mind-boggling litany of Chicago Corruption

By Patti Villacorta

Pajamasmedia.com November 14, 2009

What good fortune it was for the largest concentration of Palestinians in the U.S. to choose Chicago as their home away from home — our nation’s capital of graft, corruption and greed, reminiscent of the Palestinian Authority (though less murderous). Their luck didn’t end there. These 400,000 Muslims — 80 percent Palestinians — have also parked themselves in the epicenter of a post-denominational, ecumenical, interfaith machine of “congregation-based community organizers.” Impassioned internationalists, their passions run high for the rights of the uninsured Muslim or homeless jihadist.

Christians for Comprehensive Immigration Reform (CCIR) is one cog in the Chicago wheel. CCIR board member Reverend Dennis Jacobsen — from the Immanuel Lutheran Church in Kansas City, MO — is director of the Gamaliel Foundation National Clergy Caucus, a signer of the Lutheran Presbyterian joint position paper on congregation-based community organizing, and chair of the Inter-Religious Organizing Initiative of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

Last year at a panel discussion at the Hudson Institute, Stanley Kurtz summarized Reverend Jacobsen’s conception of America: America is a sinful and fallen nation to whose pervasive classicism, racism, and militarism all authentic Christians must offer constant resistance. The United States employs illegitimate nationalism, propaganda, racism, bogus civil religion and class enmity to booster its entrenched and oppressive corporate system. Authentic Christians forced to live in such a nation can “come out of Babylon” only by entering into “a perpetual state of internal exile.”

It seems impossible to fathom that the honor student beaten to death in broad daylight last month outside a Chicago school would not ignite a fire beneath these thousands of “community-based congregations,” with peace and justice as their mantra. Yet, the silence is deafening. And, really, the only possible explanation for this insanity comes near the very end of Bernard-Henri Levy’s Who Killed Daniel Pearl, in which he retraces Pearl’s steps in search of reason. Pearl was beheaded, then cut into ten pieces. Levy is a man of the left and a hardened war correspondent, but even he is taken aback when an Arab banker in Dubai, an old friend from the Angola days, explains that al-Qaeda is funded by a worldwide network of extortion and has mastered the art of “selling to the West the rope with which to hang itself. … Which is to say in this case, to turn the West’s own arms and often its own vices against itself.”

The Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago (CIOGC) is considered a mainstream organization. Its affiliate mosque, the Bridgeview Mosque, has been under FBI surveillance for over a decade, and Osama bin Laden’s spiritual mentor, Abdullah Azzam, actually visited it as part of a national recruiting tour in the 1980s. Nabil al-Marabh, a suspected planner in 9/11, attended Bridgeview. The mosque’s foundation was linked to the Holy Land Foundation. Mohammed Saleh, another member, was the first American citizen to make the FBI terror list. The mosque itself is owned by the North American Islamic Trust (NAIT) — headquartered in Indiana, but funded by Wahhabis in Saudi Arabia. Siraj Wahhaj, a former NAIT board member, is listed as an indicted co-conspirator in a 1995 plot to blow up New York landmarks, and he served as a character witness for the “blind sheik.”

In February 2004, the Chicago Tribune investigated the radical anti-Americanism running through CIOGC and its tributaries (”Hard-liners won battle for Bridgeview Mosque“). At the time, then-state Senator Barack Obama was pushing a bill for free and reduced health care for the uninsured. On March 29, 2004, the Chicago Defender announced: “SEIU, ACORN hail Obama’s health bill.” Also at the time, Crucial Inc. — the lucrative concession business at O’Hare International Airport owned by the 77-year-old son of the late Elijah Muhammed — was stripped of its minority business certification.

After grossing $16 million in its first four years at the airport, it was revealed that Syrian-born Arab Tony Rezko was the actual owner and Herbert Muhammed had only served as a front so Crucial Inc. could qualify for Chicago’s minority set-aside program — which directs large contracts to companies owned by women, blacks, or Hispanics.

That year also marked the creation of then-Governor Rod Blagojevich’s new Illinois Finance Authority board, which dissolved five state bonding agencies into one. Ali Ata, former president of the Chicago chapter of the American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee — and a friend of Rezko — was appointed as director after donating $60,000 to the governor. Ata held no finance experience and left the post in March 2005 following alleged wrongdoings.
This came less than two years after Obama helped pass Public Act 93-0041, which extended the Illinois Health Facilities Planning Association (IFHPA), terminated all existing board members, reduced the board membership from 15 to 9, and gave priority to board members with ties to ethnic and minority communities.

Health Care, Chicago-Style

Behold, the swamp of Chicago health care and Obama's central role in cultivating it.

Advocate Health Care is the largest health system in Illinois. Dr. Imad Almanaseer — head of pathology at Advocate Lutheran General Hospital, a friend of Rezko’s, and part of Rezko’s bloc of five installed on the IFHPA board (which controls all development and expansion of hospitals in the state) — testified under immunity at Rezko’s trial. He admitted that he was handed index cards by Thomas Beck, the chairman of IFHPA, with voting instructions from Rezko prior to votes. Almanaseer also testified that he is a business partner and investor of Rezko’s.

In February 2004, William McNary endorsed Obama in the Communist Party (CPUSA) newspaper the Weekly World. “Obama will be a strong voice in Washington on behalf of working families,” wrote McNary. Obama had worked for McNary in the mid-1990s, registering 100,000 votes for Citizen Action/Illinois — the local branch of US Action, both of which William McNary headed. According to McNary, Obama also collaborated with United Power for Action and Justice (UPAJ) to expand children’s health insurance in Illinois. “Barack was not just willing to meet with community-based groups, not only to be a good vote for us, but he also strategized with us to help move our position forward,” McNary told David Moberg in his 2007 piece “Obama’s Third Way.” McNary is also a member of the Radical Black Congress and was the keynote speaker for the CPUSA 2002 annual fundraiser. The left-wing blog Talking Points Memo described McNary as “one of Obama’s personal friends and long-time supporters — someone Obama went to when considering his run for senate and for president.”

Monsignor John Egan lived just long enough to see his lifelong dream, the UPAJ, open its doors. The $2.6 million dollars in seed money for UPAJ came from Catholic organizations. Egan envisioned UPAJ as a reorganized Metro IAF — the Chicago chapter of Saul Alinsky’s Industrial Arts Foundation. Cardinal Bernadin announced the gift at a 1995 press conference.

There was outrage in the Catholic community over the role that both the Bernadine Center for Theology and Ministry and the Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD) played in UPAJ. CCHD’s annual budget of $18 million funded UPAJ activities. UPAJ’s stated top priorities - Health care for all and fostering relationships with Muslim communities. UPAJ affiliates include the Muslim Student Association, the Lutheran School of Theology, Anshe Shalom B’Nai Israel, Trinity United Church of Christ (Mr. Obama’s Chicago church) and Father Pfleger’s St. Sabina church.

Also, active in CCIR is Tony Campolo, active with the Sojourner Red Letter Christian movement. He is probably best known for “finding it a real privilege” to minister to Bill Clinton during the Monica Lewinsky impeachment proceedings and for drawing gasps and boos for having the following exchange with Gary Bauer at Wheaton College: “I know this is hard for you to believe, but the enemy is not John Ashcroft. The enemy is Osama bin Laden,” said Bauer. Campolo replied, “I don’t know about that.”

Chicago’s Muslim-centric health care networks range from the Gilead’s Campaign for the Uninsured and the Gilead Outreach and Referral Center (both funded by UPAJ), the Illinois Department of Human Services, the Illinois Department of Public Aid, Advocate Health Care, and the Michael Reese Healthcare Trust. The Michael Reese Health Care Trust funds the Sargent Shriver Center National Center on Poverty Law — which is funded by George Soros, Bill Ayers brother John, SEIU Healthcare, William Daley, the William Daley Charitable Gift Fund, the Illinois Department of Health Care and Family Services, and the Chicago Bar Fund.
The Chicago Bar Fund supports the Illinois Coalition for Immigration and Refugee Rights, the National Immigrant and Justice Center, and, amazingly, the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR). Gilead’s board of directors includes Anthony Mitchell of Advocate Health Care, Nancy Cross of SEIU Local and Syed Najullah of CIOCG.

Other networks include the Muslim Community Center, the Association of Muslim Health Professionals, the Compassionate Care Network, UMMA Community Clinic, the Islamic Medical Association of North America, and IMAN, which is funded by the Illinois Department of Human Services and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

This excludes the additional $851 million in federal stimulus grants Michele Obama announced on June 29, 2009, to upgrade community health centers because their work “has never been more important.”

Patti Villacorta is an investigative reporter and political research expert

Posted by Jerome S. Kaufman at 08:37 PM | Comments (0)

November 17, 2009

The Palin Persuasion - A case for the new populism

Redacted from a brilliant in-depth article

By MATTHEW CONTINETTI
The Weekly Standard, November 16, 2009

If Sarah Palin visits Nashville on her book tour, she really ought to stop by the Hermitage. Andrew Jackson’s plantation is a lot more than a beautifully restored example of Greek revival architecture and design. It’s also a monument to the seventh president’s democratic legacy of rule by the people, of competitive commercial markets, of entrepreneurial individuals lighting out to the territories. It’s a legacy to which Sarah Palin is heiress. And one she ought to embrace.

... In this country, whenever the public concludes that elite behavior is opaque and self-interested, a popular reaction ensues. In part, Barack Obama was elected president because of widespread discontent with the way Washington had managed its basic rules of fighting wars and maintaining the financial system. But Obama, who had the common touch during the campaign, has governed as an elitist. He’s dismissed the populist revolts against his policies. And so, Americans continue to look at New York and Washington with suspicion. Trust in government remains low. The president’s job approval rating is around 50 percent. Congressional approval is at a dismal 21 percent.

When the average American looks at the headlines, he sees the government bailing our large, failed, politically connected enterprises even as the unemployment rate rises to 10 percent. He sees the Obama administration exaggerating the role its fiscal stimulus package has played in reviving the economy, even though unemployment is higher than the administation's models predicted. (The average American also understands that there is no way to measure the number of jobs the White House has “saved.”) He sees the president and Congress eager to pass a costly health care bill against the public’s wishes; businesses funding Democratic power and then stepping back to watch as the market imposes its iron discipline.

The public sees judges who designed business schemes that disrupted neighborhood schools, government-induced inflation and high marginal tax rates that destroyed savings and prevented the taxpayer from spending his earned income as he saw fit. It sees regulatory agencies that micromanaged the trucking, airline, power, and telecommunications sectors to the detriment of competition, innovation, and affordability.

... The public’s negative reaction to Beltway profligacy has been visceral. The government is shoveling money to powerful interest groups, and the man on the street feels left out. In September, the Democratic pollster Peter Hart asked registered voters who they thought had benefited most from the Obama administration’s economic policies. Sixty-two percent said the main beneficiary had been the “large banks.” In contrast, 65 percent said the “avenge working person” and “small businesses” hadn’t been helped. Seventy-three percent said “my family/myself” hadn’t been helped.

Public opinion registers a widespread skepticism of government and elite decision-making. The percentage of voters who say that government is doing too much has risen to 44 percent. The percentage of voters who say that government should “worry more” about keeping the deficit low has risen to 62 percent. When pollsters ask voters what their priorities are, the economy is always the number one answer, but the deficit and national debt are nor far behind.

... And Palin? Time and again, she has run against elites who, in her view, are ignoring the public interest She overthrew a three-term incumbent mayor of Wasilla because he wasn’t as conservative as the people he represented. She used sales tax revenues and bond issues to help the town grow into a thriving suburb. She knocked off a Republican energy commissioner, a Republican attorney general and an incumbent Republican governor because she felt that they were helping themselves, their friends and not the Alaskan people. As governor, she passed a sweeping ethics reform, changed the tax code so Alaskans got their fair share of oil revenues, and introduced competition and transparency into the construction of a natural gas pipeline.

Palm has an intuitive faith in builders and traders, in hockey moms and plumbers. She is clearly on the side of competitive, entrepreneurial capitalism. But she hasn’t spent much time on the national stage. Nor has she tied her pointed criticisms of the Obama agenda and the liberal media to a larger argument about how ordinary people with common sense can rescue the American economy and revitalize American democracy. Palm has Jacksonian instincts, but she still hasn’t forged her own political persuasion. Time to add flesh to the bone.

The popular and sensible approach to energy policy is obvious. Remove the restrictions on offshore oil exploration. If Obama thinks it’s fine for Brazil to drill offshore, why can’t the United States? Lower tariffs and reduce subsidies for domestically produced ethanol. Get rid of the regulations limiting the construction of oil refineries. Dismiss airy prophecies about “peak oil,” “green jobs,” and “limits to growth.” Pledge, instead, that Americans will have access to as much of the cheapest, cleanest energy they need to stimulate the economy Palm is right. No limits. “All of the above” is best.

Or take health policy. In the tradition of Jackson, Bryan and Reagan, Palin could point out that the price of health care is rising because the market in health care is broken. When you buy insurance in the individual market, you don’t receive the same tax break as large corporations who buy group plans for their employees. Instead of one, more-or-less free market for health insurance, there are 50 heavily regulated state markets. The mandates for insurance that state governments impose—guaranteed cover-age for hair plugs or in vitro fertilization, for instance—increase prices. And since an individual cannot shop for insurance across state lines, a young, healthy person in mandate-manic New York cannot buy a low premium, high-deductible plan on offer in lightly regulated Utah.

Meanwhile, state and federal government, which accounts for a large (46 percent in 2006) and growing portion of national health spending, uses its monopoly power to bid down the price of the medical services it purchases and thereby raises costs tot everyone else. Medicare fraud is rampant. Defensive medicine increases expenditures. And doctors and hospitals are under no obligation to share prices with consumers until after services are rendered— which means that patients cannot shop around for the most affordable treatments. What’s a populist to do? Trust in the commercial ideal, and dismantle the regulatory barriers to true competition and innovation in the health care marketplace.

Next, consider the financial sector. The government is doing its best to prop up failed giants at the expense of competition and innovation. Held to the standards of the marketplace, companies like GM. Chryslcr, AIG, GMAC, and CitiCorp probably would disappear. They’d be bought and sold, carved up into little pieces, and the overpaid CEOs who made bad bets would lose their jobs. Instead, these firms are on government life-support.

... Step one is to set a timeline for withdrawal from the bailout state. Policymakers need to be clear that they have no intention of maintaining these huge transfers of wealth for much longer. Rather than micromanage government-owned banks and auto companies, they need to focus on weaning them off the federal teat. For the banks, a complicated and technocratic regulatory scheme isn’t necessary. A few simple rules that separate the solvent banks from the insolvent would suffice.

Last year the public elected an inspirational leader who promised change. Barack Obama promised to open government, end insiderism and confer no special privileges. He promised to reach across the aisle and adopt his opponents’ best ideas. This was all an illusion. As the Obama presidency has developed, people have realized that this is not the change they sought. The Treasury secretary is a tax cheat overseeing a Wall Street bailout program. The congressman in charge of the tax code is under investigation for various frauds. From auto bailouts to the stimulus to health care, the president has implemented or advocated policies of which the people disapprove.

Obama’s governing style is based on personal interaction with major policy stakeholders. So, when the president formulates a policy, he brings into the White House all the titans of industry and top lobbyists who might be affected. The rule applies whether the issue is the financial system, climate change or health care: Obama listens to and makes deals with market incumbents. The theory is that such negotiations will produce legislation that satisfies everyone involved. But whatever the benefits, the costs are all too clear: Incumbent stakeholders use government access to drive out competition, increase their leverage and limit transparency.

In other words, Obama has rejected the tradition of Jackson, Bryan, and Reagan. He has rejected putting trust in the common wisdom and collective judgments of the American people. He’s sought comfort in the “expert” knowledge of technocratic elites. Liberal Democrats in Congress set the agenda. The unions drive trade, health, and labor policy. The bankers drive economic policy. Joe Six Pack is left out in the cold.

But the elites continue to mess things up. Confidence in American institutions continues to erode. Faith in the American future continues to decline. Is there an exit? Yes. All it would take is for a populist leader like the one in Wasilla to pick up the Jacksonian, Bryanite, Reaganite torch and deliver this simple message to Obama and the political class: You shall not press down upon the brow of labor this big-government crown of thorns. You shall not crucify mankind upon the cross of Goldman Sachs.

Posted by Jerome S. Kaufman at 03:37 AM | Comments (0)

November 15, 2009

Rahm Emanuel, “Source of Pride?” I don’t think so

Redacted from the article, Thunder and Lightning

By Marc Prowisor

Thunder and Lightning, or in Hebrew, meaning Rahm and Barack, can either bring rains of blessing or a damaging storm.

Rahm Emanuel spoke to the General Assembly of Jewish leaders regarding Israel and US involvement in achieving peace between Israel and the Arab occupants of Judea and Samaria. He spoke of his family’s connection to Israel, President Obama’s dedication to peace in the region and how what started in 1967, must end.

What exactly started in 1967? Israel was victorious over the Jordanian Army after we were attacked, and ended the JORDANIAN occupation of the region. This is what started back in 1967. Jewish communities were reborn from the ashes. Once again, Jews were allowed to live in places they were once evicted from, and places where they were massacred. What started Mr. Emanuel? Jews returned to their biblical heartland, you know this as you were brought up with a religious education. The Chief of Staff spoke of how his Father took the name “Emanuel” in honor of his Uncle who died fighting for Israel, will he show the same courage when the Arabs once again deny the existence of a “Jewish” state?

I could not help but notice the lack of heart Mr. Emanuel had while speaking, his lack of conviction, his detachment from the truth and real situation on the ground in Israel. How easy it is to speak to an assembly full of “yes men” - whose lives are not endangered by the political duels going own. Mr. Emanuel mentioned how the “Two State Solution” enjoys bi-partisan support among US Jewry. I ask myself, whose sons and daughters are serving in the armed forces of Israel and putting themselves on the front lines, defending a people and country with their lives.

Rahm, mentioned not to let “settlements” stand in the way of peace, who is he to decide what is good for Israel, who will clean up the mess he makes, definitely not his sons. Yes, he is the President’s Chief of Staff, a very powerful politician and possibly the mastermind of the current US strategy to endear itself to the Arabs and Muslims of the world. If he believes that the dismantling of the Jewish Communities in Judea and Samaria will solve the Israeli-Arab problem, then he probably feels that Major Nidal Malik Hasan is a common criminal and not a terrorist.

It hurts to hear the cheers of the audience as Rahm mentions the issue of “ending” the communities of Judea and Samaria. Most of those at this convention have never been out to any of these places and regard the populous as extremist lunatics. How unfortunate that they don’t even realize who these people really are and how their “Heroes” in the IDF are made up of these people, that these places are theirs also. Such is ignorance. I challenge them to come out here to visit and see what is really going on and meet the people of Judea and Samaria, but to come out with an open mind, sans the poison that they are being fed by the opponents of a strong Jewish nation.

I also extend this invitation to Mr. Emanuel to come out and meet us, not through the eyes of the government, but through your heart and mind. Maybe for your son’s Bar Mitzvah, after he reads the Torah at the Kotel (in the capital of Israel today)? Take him also to Hevron to see where his forefathers are buried, then to Shilo which served as the first capital of Israel from 2928 - 2507, 369 years in the Hebrew calendar, and was home to the Mishkan (Tabernacle and Ark of the Covenant).

You spoke of how important your history is to you. Here is a chance to show your family and supporters that you mean what you say. Mr. Emanuel, you are a source of pride to the American Jewish Community with your patriotism, your dedication and your loyalty. I would like to bless you that you also become a source of pride to all of your people, all over the world using the same characteristics.

(I don’t know where Mr. Prowisor obtained his information for this last paragraph. It is certainly not the evaluation of the American Jews that I know. Of course, Prowisor can bless anyone he wants – even Emanuel’s boss) Jsk

marc@friendsofyesha.com

Posted by Jerome S. Kaufman at 05:23 PM | Comments (0)

November 13, 2009

Obama’s despicable treatment of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

Redacted from an article by the incomparable Caroline B. Glick

Jewish World Review, Nov. 13, 2009

Once again, US President Barack Obama has demonstrated his intention of "putting light" between America and Israel. His hostility towards Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu during the latter's visit to Washington this week was breathtaking. It isn't every day that you can see an American President leaving the Prime Minister of an allied government twisting in the wind for weeks before deciding to grant him an audience at the White House.

It isn't every day that a visiting leader from a strategically vital US ally is brought into the White House in an unmarked van in the middle of the night rather than greeted like a friend at the front door. Furthermore, he was forbidden to have his picture taken with the President; forced to leave the White House alone, through a side exit; and ordered to keep the contents of his meeting with the President secret.

Ahead of Obama's meeting with Netanyahu, the Wall Street Journal reported that Obama was effectively attempting to blackmail the Israeli premier by conditioning the meeting on Netanyahu's willingness to make tangible concessions to the Palestinians during his speech before the General Assembly of the Jewish Federations of North America. Although the report was denied by the Obama administration, if it was true, such a move by the White House would be without precedent in the history of US relations with Israel. Moreover, if untrue, the very fact that the story rings true is indicative of the wretched state of US relations with Israel since Obama entered office.

Obama's hostility was evident as well during his meeting with fifty Jewish leaders at the White House this week. In an obvious bid to split American Jewry away from Israel, Obama refused to discuss Israel or Iran with the concerned American Jewish leaders. As far as Obama was concerned, all they deserved from him was a primer on the brilliance of his economic policies and the worthiness of his plan to socialize the American healthcare industry. His foreign policy is none of their business.

Obama's meeting with American Jewish leaders was supposed to be a consolation prize for American Jews after Obama cancelled his first public address to American Jews since taking office. The White House claimed that he cancelled the speech because his visit to the Fort Hood memorial service made it impossible for him to attend. Then the conference was a three-day affair. The organizers would probably have been happy to reschedule. Instead, as Iran races to the nuclear finish line, America's Jewish leaders were forced to sit through White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emmanuel's kitschy Borscht Belt schmooze about his bar mitzvah.

The ironic thing about Obama's nastiness towards Netanyahu and his arrogant treatment of the American Jewish community is that while it has made him the first US president to have no credibility among Israelis and has caused a 14 percent drop in his support among American Jews, it has failed utterly to earn him the trust of the Muslim world.

Today the Fatah movement is in disarray. Last week its leader Mahmoud Abbas announced his intention to retire and has placed the blame for his decision on the Obama administration as well as on Israel. Key Palestinian spokesmen like Saeb Erekat have declared the death of the peace process and called for the renewal of the jihad against Israel.

As for the larger Muslim world, a report this week in the New York Times stated that the US's key Arab allies Egypt and Saudi Arabia have been perilously weakened since Obama took office. Their diminished influence has been accompanied by the rapid rise of Iran and Syria. Both of these rogue states have been on the receiving end of continuous wooing by Obama administration officials who seem ready to do just about anything to appease them.

In the meantime, Iran's Hizbullah proxy in Lebanon has again managed to regain control over Lebanon's government despite its defeat in last June's parliamentary elections. It is making full use of the fact that it fields the most powerful army in the country. It also has benefited by the US’s decision to abandon the pro-Western March 14 movement in favor of an approach that makes no distinction between America's friends and foes in Lebanon. Hizbullah has strong-armed its way back to the driver's seat in the new Lebanese government.

As for Hizbullah's Iranian bosses, far from convincing them to moderate their policies, the Obama administration's efforts to appease the ayatollahs have emboldened Iran's theocratic leaders to adopt ever more radical positions against the US. As senior US officials try to make light of the fact that in the past week Iran has thrice rejected their latest offer to have the US, Russia and France enrich uranium for them, the Iranians announced that they will put on trail three hapless American hikers for espionage. Iranian security forces, along the Iran-Iraq border in Kurdistan, four months ago, abducted the three young Americans.

The fact that Obama's policies have all failed so spectacularly presents a unique opportunity for Israel to move its policies, in a bold new direction. Many commentators and policymakers have claimed that it falls on Israel to help Obama succeed where he has failed. In their view, Israel must go out of its way to establish a Palestinian state during Obama's term of office or accept the blame for any renewal of the Palestinian terror war against it. Such voices — most strongly represented this week by French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner and New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman — have tried to blame the failure of Obama's attempt to reinstate negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians on Israel's alleged intransigence.

(Isn’t it great for ignoramuses like Thomas Friedman and the French incompetents to have Israel and Jews around to blame for their stupidity and failures? Yes, Israel should accept national suicide in order to please the world’s idiots) Jsk

In response to these allegations, this week Netanyahu expressed profound interest in negotiating with Abbas. This move was ill-advised. Although it is true that by proclaiming his devotion to the so-called peace process, Netanyahu was able to deflect some of the White House's attacks against him, the short-term advantage it brought him this week in Washington is eclipsed by the long-term damage such an approach causes the country. In the long-run, Israel is harmed when its leaders promote the fiction that it is possible to reach an accord with the Palestinians that will bring about the formal and peaceful establishment of a Palestinian state.

As Netanyahu prepared to fly off to Washington, Abbas made clear that he would not make any concessions to Israel for peace. Together with his fellow Fatah members, Abbas made clear that like Hamas, Fatah does not recognize Israel's right to exist, does not support peaceful coexistence with Israel, and shares Hamas's dedication to continued war against Israel.
For their part, pro-Palestinian lobbyists Robert Malley and Hussein Agha are now arguing that the two-state solution has failed and that the time has come for a one-state solution in which Israel ceases to exist as a Jewish state by accepting the Palestinians as full citizens in one bi-national state.

The Israeli Left, as well as the State Department and several European governments have now embraced the un-elected Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad's plan to unilaterally declare Palestinian independence in Judea, Samaria, Gaza and Jerusalem in two years. The aim of the Fayyad plan is to coerce Israel into abandoning all the lands it took control over during the 1967 Six Day War by implicitly threatening to deploy international forces throughout "Palestine" that will be charged with "protecting" the new Palestinian state from the IDF.

Both the Fayyad plan supporters and the one-state solution crowd believe that their plans can indirectly advance the so-called peace process. In their view, frightened of both a unilateral Palestinian declaration of independence and of a bi-national state, Netanyahu will abandon his demand for a demilitarized Palestinian state and for defensible borders for Israel and voluntarily withdraw the IDF and the 250,000 Jewish residents of Judea and Samaria to within the 1949 armistice lines. But the fact is that there is no reason for Netanyahu to fear their plans. Indeed, it is high time for Israel to call their bluffs.
The shocking truth is that the demographic threat is an empty threat. The demographic doomsday scenarios for Israel are all based on falsified Palestinian census data from 1997 that inflated the number of Palestinians in Israel, Judea, Samaria and Gaza by 50 percent. As the independent American-Israel Demographic Research Group demonstrated in early 2005, Israel has no reason to be concerned that by maintaining its control over Judea and Samaria, it will become a majority Arab state. Today, the combined population of Israel and Judea and Samaria leaves Jews with a two-thirds majority. With Jewish immigration and fertility rates rising, negative Arab immigration rates, and decreasing Arab fertility rates, the long-term projections for Israel's demographic viability are all positive.

As Netanyahu knows, there is consensus support among Israelis for his plan to ensure that the country retains defensible borders in perpetuity. This involves establishing permanent Israeli control over the Jordan Valley and the large Jewish population blocs in Judea and Samaria. In light of the well-recognized failure of the two-state solution, Hamas's takeover of Gaza and the disintegration of Fatah accompanied by the shattering of the myth of Fatah moderation, Israel should strike out on a new course and work towards the integration of Judea and Samaria, including its Palestinian population into Israeli society. In the first instance, this will require the implementation of Israeli law in the Jordan Valley and the large settlement blocs.

Replacing the military, government in these areas with Israel's more liberal legal code will also advance Netanyahu's economic peace plan which envisions expanding the Palestinian economy in Judea and Samaria by among other things reintegrating it into Israel's booming economy. This plan would reward political moderation while marginalizing terrorists in Palestinian society. In so doing, it will advance the cause of peaceful coexistence over the long-term far better than the failed two-state solution. Far from engendering peace, the two-state paradigm empowered the most corrupt and violent actors in Palestinian society at the expense of its most productive and moderate citizens.

Obama's disgraceful treatment of Israel and, for that matter, his atrocious treatment of the majority of America's allies in the Middle East and throughout the world, has strengthened the hands of America's worst enemies and made the world a much more dangerous place. But his obvious failures provide Israel with an opportunity to take control of events and change the situation for the betterment of Israel and the Palestinians alike.

Applying Israeli law to the Jordan Valley and the major Israeli population blocs in Judea and Samaria will probably not win Netanyahu many friends in the Obama White House. But if we learned anything from Obama's insulting treatment of Netanyahu and American Jews this week, we learned that regardless of what Israel does, the Obama administration has no interest in being his friend.

Posted by Jerome S. Kaufman at 03:53 PM | Comments (0)

November 12, 2009

Census to include illegal immigrants altering crucial votes in US House of Representatives

By Stephen Dinan

THE WASHINGTON TIMES
November 2, 2009

In his push to have the Census Bureau count the number of US citizens, Sen. David Vitter, Louisiana Republican, is taking a very parochial approach with his colleagues: Your state could be the one to lose an extra seat in Congress. Mr. Vitter is holding up one of the 2010 spending bills in the Senate, demanding a vote on his amendment to force the census to add a question about citizenship status to its 2010 questionnaire. He has written letters to the senators from nine states he says would lose seats to states with higher illegal immigrant or non-citizen populations, telling them it’s in their interest to support him. “Voting for cloture or against my amendment could very well be a vote to strip your state of proper representation in Congress and cede your state’s influence to other states that reward illegal immigrants like California and New York:’ he said in his letter to Indiana’s two senators, which would be among those at a disadvantage.

But, the fight is turning personal as the Census Bureau says it is too late and too expensive to change next year’s count. Immigrant rights groups and some Democratic lawmakers say it’s mean-spirited and racist to ask the kind of question Mr. Vitter wants. “It’s really a cold-blooded political maneuver to discourage participation by people of color:’ said Rep. Barbara Lee, California Democrat. Rep. Joe Baca, California Democrat, wondered “whether ladies of the night” should be counted — a reference to Mr. Vitter’s acknowledged use of an escort service.

Every 10 years, the 535 seats in the House are divided among the states based on population. At root, the new debate is whether only those eligible to vote should be considered for those purposes or whether everyone residing in the country should be tallied. The 14th Amendment to the Constitution says (in part) “Representatives shall be apportioned among the several States according to their respective numbers, counting the whole number of persons in each state, excluding Indians not taxed.’

Michael P. McDonald, a professor at George Mason University who studies the drawing of congressional districts, said that language is clear, and, barring a change to the Constitution, seats must be allocated based on the total number of people. “You’d have to have a constitutional amendment to change the apportionment numbers:’ Mr. McDonald said.

Mr. Vitter is not so sure — and his spokesman says before the country can have that debate, it should at least get better data about the scope of the issue. “Constitutional scholars who’ve spoken to the senator’s office have argued that it is not as clear as district courts have ruled. There has not been a high court ruling on this issue as far as I have learned:’ spokesman Joel DiGrado said. Elliott Stonecipher, a demographer in Louisiana whose Op-Ed column in the Wall Street Journal this summer helped spark the debate, said he believes the legal issues are still in doubt, but that the principles involved are clear.

“I have yet to read one spokesperson from the left who will simply argue that only citizens should get representation in the House of Representatives:’ he said. “ They will use all kinds of other arguments, mainly about settled law and the 14th Amendment, but they won’t ever jump up and say, ‘We believe here’s the reason non-citizens should have representation in the House of Representatives.’”

The effort has enraged immigrant rights supporters, and a group of Democratic lawmakers from the Asian, black and Hispanic caucuses held a news conference Oct. 22 to denounce Mr. Vitter’s efforts. They warned that if his amendment passed it would push back next year’s census.

Rep. William Lacy Clay, Missouri Democrat, held up a photo of the warehouse where millions of already printed census forms are stacked seven-stories high, waiting to be mailed out next year. Mt Baca, who mentioned Mr. Vitter’s association with an escort, has introduced a competing bill that would write into law that no question about citizenship or immigration status may be included in the decennial census.

Questions about citizenship have been included in other census questionnaires that go to smaller samples than the decennial census. The results suggest that California would have five or six fewer seats than it does now if only citizens were counted. Mt Vitter said the states that lose out on seats under the current system are Iowa, Indiana, Mississippi, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Michigan, South Carolina and his own state of Louisiana.

Democrats have tried once to end the filibuster but were three votes shy of the 60 votes needed to overcome Republicans’ blockade, though three Democrats missed that vote. For now, Mr. Vitter remains deadlocked with Democratic leaders. A spokeswoman for Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski, Maryland Democrat and chairman of the spending subcommittee that wrote the bill, could shed no light on when Democrats might try to break the impasse.

While he said changing apportionment is unconstitutional, Mr. McDonald said it was an open question whether individual states could use citizenship numbers to draw their congressional district lines. He said Kansas and Hawaii have excluded non-residents in drawing some district lines for their state legislatures. In the case of Hawaii, the location of a military base could have led at one point in the past to a state district with no eligible voters.

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Posted by Jerome S. Kaufman at 04:13 PM | Comments (0)

November 10, 2009

PM Netanyahu addresses the Jewish Federations of North America General Assembly, Washington, DC

PM Netanyahu addresses the Jewish Federations of North America General Assembly, Washington, DC

November 9, 2008

(Great speech but Netanyahu neglects to mention the irrefutable fact that Israel never had and never will have a trustworthy Arab peace partner. It is not possible to scream “Al Akhbar: while wearing a suicide belt and claim it a gesture of peace - misinterpreted, of course) jsk

My dear friends, leaders of the Jewish communities of North America,

The history of the Jewish people has been marked by a paradox. We are at once both small and great. We are few in number but luminous in achievement. In the ancient world, the Jews were a small people on the foothills of Asia touching the Mediterranean. But, in Alexandria some 2200 years ago, the Bible was translated into Greek, and the world has never been the same since.

The Jews brought to civilization at least three big ideas: the idea of monotheism, the belief that all people have innate rights that transcend the power of kings, and a prophetic vision of universal peace. It is impossible to fully describe the revolutionary impact of these ideas throughout history, nor the poetic power of the Biblical stories that overshadowed much of the literature of the ancient world. As in antiquity so in modernity.

Israel is one of the world's smallest countries. But, our success in science and technology, agriculture, medicine, and the arts belies our size. And, on this continent, the Jewish community accounts for less than 2% of the population, yet its creative accomplishments in every field are legend and legendary. In modern times, Jews everywhere have made extraordinary contributions to humanity.

So, smallness and greatness have thus accompanied our people throughout nearly 4,000 years of our history. But, our conspicuous achievements often masked our small size and the vulnerability that comes with being small. Being prominent but small, we often could not defend ourselves against larger foes who envied our achievements, despised the ideas we championed, and periodically sought to expel or even annihilate us outright. The rebirth of Israel did not eliminate such attacks. But, it fundamentally changed our ability to repel them.

In 1948, some 600,000 Jews, their backs against the sea, fended off the assault of much larger enemies sworn to our destruction. We were aided by many of our fellow American Jews. You gave money, arms and most important, tremendous moral support. You helped Israel absorb waves of immigrants, you spearheaded the historic struggle to free Soviet Jewry and you have tirelessly worked to strengthen the American-Israeli alliance which is a cornerstone of Israel's security. Today, you support Birthright, Masa and Nefesh B'Nefesh, These are programs, that promote Aliyah and strengthen Jewish identity, thereby ensuring that our numbers are not further diminished and dwindled by the forces of assimilation.

Strengthening Jewish identity can no longer be a task exclusively for the Diaspora. It is increasingly the responsibility of the Jewish state. Over a decade ago, I was proud to be the first Prime Minister to allocate state funds to bolster Jewish identity outside of Israel. And, I assure you that in my second term, I intend to do even more. The result of our joint efforts has been a stronger Israel. Only a strong Israel can achieve peace. But, even a strong Israel is still a small Israel. And, a small Israel demands a secure peace. Peace in our land, the peace of Jerusalem, our eternal capital, is one of our oldest longings, expressed in our Psalms and our prayers.

Peace between Israel and our Arab neighbors: the first and immediate result would spare our children the horrors of war. It would spare our children the horrors of war. It would spare our grandchildren the horrors of war. What a great gift. Peace could usher in a new age of economic progress for the benefit of all. We have already signed peace agreements, two of them, with Egypt and Jordan. And, we are eager to achieve peace with all our other neighbors, especially with the Palestinians.

I believe there is no time to waste. We need to move towards peace with a sense of urgency and a sense of purpose. I want to be clear. My goal is not to have endless negotiations. My goal is not negotiations for negotiations sake. My goal is to reach a peace treaty, and soon. But, to get a peace agreement, we must start negotiating. Let's stop talking about negotiations. Let's start moving.
This past June at Bar-Ilan University, I put forward a vision of peace that has united the vast majority of Israelis. In this vision of two states for two peoples, a demilitarized Palestinian state would recognize the Jewish state. Now, what do I mean by a Jewish state? It is a state in which all individuals and all minorities have equal individual rights. Yet, our national symbols, language and culture spring from the heritage of the Jewish people. And, most important, any Jew from anywhere in the world has a right to immigrate to Israel and become a citizen. I want to make it clear: Any Jew, of any denomination, will always have the right to come home to the Jewish state. Religious pluralism and tolerance will always guide my policy.

What does a Jewish state mean for the Palestinians? They must abandon the fantasy of flooding Israel with refugees, give up irredentist claims to the Negev and Galilee and declare unequivocally that the conflict is finally over. Yet, even after we achieve peace it may take years for the spirit of peace to permeate most levels of Palestinian society. Therefore, any peace agreement we sign today must include ironclad security measures that will protect the State of Israel.

Here comes that paradox again. Israel is powerful but small. No matter where our final borders are drawn, Israel will remain exceedingly small.PM Netanyahu addresses the Jewish Federations of North America General Assembly, Washington, DC

Small countries are not necessarily insecure. Belgium and Luxemburg are small but they today are not insecure. Yet, if their neighbors included radical regimes bent on their conquest and destruction with terror proxies firing thousands of missiles on their people, believe me, they would feel insecure. Anyone would. Because of our small size and the radical and violent neighbors.

A few facts to drive the point home:
A few days ago, the Israeli navy interdicted a ship carrying hundreds of tons of rockets and explosives from Iran bound for Hizbullah via Syria. Last week, Hamas tested a rocket with a range of nearly 40 miles. Now, for a large country, that might not be too consequential. But, in tiny Israel, Hamas and Hizbullah now have the power to reach Tel Aviv. Israel's security therefore requires that any territory vacated in a future peace agreement must be effectively demilitarized.

An effective demilitarizing of Palestinian areas is an essential component of peace recognized by successive American presidents. I want to assure you Israel is willing to make great concessions for peace. But, there can be no concessions on Israel's security. We have to ensure that weapons do not flow into the Palestinian areas in the West Bank, which overlooks Tel Aviv and surrounds Jerusalem. We cannot permit another Gaza or South Lebanon in the heart of the country. What we want is a durable peace, a peace that can be defended. We fervently hope that such a peace will hold, but we must be prepared to defend ourselves in case it doesn't.

The UN report on Gaza, which falsely accuses Israel of war crimes for legitimately defending itself against real war criminals, in effect seeks to deprive us of the right of self-defense. This report must be firmly rejected. We are proud of the Israeli Defense Forces. We are proud of our sons and daughters who are defending our country every day. We know that our army, Israel's army, is as moral as any army on earth. In supporting the IDF and rejecting this report, you're sending a message to terrorists that they cannot get away with firing on civilians while hiding behind civilians. And, you do something else. You support peace. For only an Israel that can defend itself is an Israel that can take further risks for peace.

I thank President Obama for resolutely opposing this twisted UN resolution. I applaud the overwhelming vote last week in the American Congress condemning this biased report. I know there are many Canadian friends with us here today. I wish to extend my thanks to Prime Minister Harper for his staunch support for Israel's right of self-defense.

Last week, I watched a joint exercise of the IDF and some 1400 American soldiers to improve Israel's defense against incoming missiles. I salute these American soldiers, and I thank their President, their Commander in Chief, President Obama for his commitment to Israel's security. On behalf of the people of Israel, I send my condolences to the American servicemen and women who were killed at Fort Hood last week.

My friends, my government is working to advance peace and we are not just talking. We have removed hundreds of security checkpoints and roadblocks in the West Bank. I personally extended the hours of operation on the Allenby Bridge and I've removed bureaucratic hurdles to Palestinian economic development. These efforts, along with measures taken by the Palestinian Authority to improve security, have spurred an unmatched boom in the West Bank and has made life better for ordinary Palestinians. For the first time in years, businesses, banks and industry are sprouting. Restaurants, theaters and shopping malls are overflowing. Thousands and thousands of Palestinian jobs are being created.

I think we can do a lot more to improve the reality on the ground, and we will. I intend to do a lot more. Prosperity can help advance peace - but only so far. To truly resolve the outstanding issues between us, we must begin and complete peace negotiations. We should not place preconditions for holding talks. Such obstacles to talks were never set in the 16 years of Israeli-Palestinian dialogue. From the day my government was sworn in seven months ago, I have been calling for peace negotiations to start. I said I would go anywhere, anytime to advance peace. And, no Israeli government has been so willing to restrain settlement activity as part of an effort to re-launch peace talks. So I say today to the leader of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas: let us seize the moment to reach an historic agreement. Let us begin talks immediately.

I know there are many skeptics. I am not one of them. I believe that peace is possible. I know how committed the Israeli people are to peace and how committed I am to make peace. But, I need and we need a determined Palestinian partner as well. A partner willing to shoulder the risk and burdens as we are. I believe that with good will and with courageous leadership on both sides, and no less important, with the continued support of the United States, peace can become a reality. We can surprise a skeptical world.

Achieving peace is a great challenge facing Israel. At the United Nations in September, I spoke of another great challenge: preventing Iran from developing a nuclear weapons capability. The Iranian regime tyrannizes its own people, sponsors and supplies terrorism and openly pledges to wipe Israel off the map. Imagine how much more dangerous this regime would be if it had atomic bombs. The responsible members of the international community must unite to prevent this grave threat to the peace of the entire world. I support President Obama's continued efforts toward these ends, and I appreciate the firm position taken by the leading European countries. We must not succumb to the Iranian regime's deceit and cunning. We must stand together to stop Tehran from realizing its nuclear ambitions.

In addition to achieving peace and preventing a nuclear Iran, there is a third momentous challenge before us - reducing the world's dependence on oil. This would help cleanse our world after more than a century of industrial pollution. It would help our economies by decreasing our dependence on depleting resources. And, it would end the massive transfer of wealth to some of the world's most odious exporters of terrorism and fanaticism.

Here's the question: can we dramatically reduce our dependence on oil?

Remember, sometimes, one or two inventions can change centuries of habit. For many centuries, salt was highly valued for preserving food. Caravans of camels carried it across the deserts, and it was nearly worth its weight in gold. The salt trade helped build economic empires, and the world's dependence on salt showed no signs of slackening. But, then came two inventions: canning and refrigeration. Virtually overnight, salt lost its immense value. The same thing may happen to oil. Scientific and technological breakthroughs could dramatically reduce the world's dependence on petroleum. And, Israel could play an important role in making that happen. You know, of course, about our high-tech companies and venture capital funds, our engineers and scientists, our patents and our Nobel laureates. In biotech and agro-tech, in solar energy and desalination, and in many other fields, Israeli innovation is transforming the way we live.

Two perceptive writers recently wrote a book called, "The Start-Up Nation.” We are the start-up nation. Now we must use our minds to help achieve breakthroughs in the field of clean energy. For example, Israel could apply its unique expertise to the juncture of water and energy. The global need for water is rapidly increasing. Yet, a third of the cost of producing clean water is energy. Sea-water in abundance can be readily desalinated with solar power and channeled inland. Having mastered both of these technologies, Israel can make a decisive contribution to alleviating water shortages around the world, especially in the growing economies of Asia and the parched expanses of the Middle East.

I am in the process of establishing a national commission that will bring together Israel's finest scientists, businessmen and engineers. We hope to work with other governments and experts to dramatically reduce our dependence on oil in the next decade, providing an example to be emulated by the rest of the world. If we could cross the oceans, fly the skies, and reach the moon, we should be able to harness water, wind and sun to power our world.

My friends, I know that these three enormous challenges - achieving peace, preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons and developing alternative energies - seem daunting. But I want you to remember another mission whose success seemed completely implausible when Theodore Herzl embarked on it over a century ago.

The challenges confronting Herzl's vision of a Jewish state were not less than overwhelming. Most of the world's Jews lived in Europe and had no intention of moving to the barren land of their forefathers. Few saw the clouds gathering on the horizon. Fewer still saw the need for action. But with a clear plan and a prophetic sense of urgency, Herzl helped the Jewish people overcome their tragic condition of powerlessness. His implausible idea gathered so much force that within a few decades our people emerged from the worst massacre in history to establish an independent state in our ancestral homeland. And then our small people then dedicated itself to the great task of building a modern Jewish state.

In an understandable moment of frustration, Herzl lamented, "The tragedy of the Jewish people is that we do not believe in ourselves." But, Herzl did not lose faith. He said, "We are strong enough to form a state." "We possess all the human and material resources for this purpose." "If we will it," he famously said, "it is no dream."

My friends, we have learned from history that if the Jewish people are united and determined, if we harness our hopes and our dreams, the hardest tasks are within our reach. We are a small people but a great people; a people generous enough to pave a path toward a lasting peace; a people brave enough to thwart the dangers that confront us; and a people creative enough to once again help steer humanity towards a better future for all.


Posted by Jerome S. Kaufman at 05:15 PM | Comments (0)

November 08, 2009

Fort Hood Islamic Jihadist linked to Jihad terrorists of 9/11

And, it’s getting harder by the minute to say, “He just snapped” or … "it’s an isolated case."

Redacted from article By Robert Spencer

Sunday, November 8, 2009

But never fear, the mainstream media will keep looking for a motive! "Fort Hood shooting: Texas army killer linked to September 11 terrorists,"

By Philip Sherwell and Alex Spillius for the Sunday Telegraph, November 7

Major Nidal Malik Hasan worshipped at a mosque led by a radical imam said to be a "spiritual adviser" to three of the hijackers who attacked America on Sept 11, 2001. Hasan, the sole suspect in the massacre of 13 fellow US soldiers in Texas, attended the controversial Dar al-Hijrah mosque in Great Falls, Virginia, in 2001 at the same time as two of the September 11 terrorists, The Sunday Telegraph has learnt. His mother's funeral was held there in May that year.

The preacher at the time was Anwar al-Awlaki, an American-born Yemeni scholar who was banned from addressing a meeting in London by video link in August because he is accused of supporting attacks on British troops and backing terrorist organisations. Hasan's eyes "lit up" when he mentioned his deep respect for al-Awlaki's teachings, according to a fellow Muslim officer at the Fort Hood base in Texas, the scene of Thursday's horrific shooting spree.

As investigators look at Hasan's motives and mindset, his attendance at the mosque could be an important piece of the jigsaw. Al-Awlaki moved to Dar al-Hijrah as imam in January, 2001, from the west coast, and three months later the September 11 hijackers Nawaf al-Hamzi and Hani Hanjour began attending his services. A third hijacker attended his services in California. Hasan was praying at Dar al-Hijrah at about the same time, and the FBI will now want to investigate whether he met the two terrorists.

Charles Allen, a former under-secretary for intelligence at the Department of Homeland Security, has described al-Awlaki, who now lives in Yemen, as an "al-Qaeda supporter, and former spiritual leader to three of the September 11 hijackers... who targets US Muslims with radical online lectures encouraging terrorist attacks from his new home in Yemen"....

Source: JihadWatch


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November 06, 2009

A Glimmer of Hope from the Past –The Bulgarians and their Jews

A great many Jews know the story of how the Danes rescued 8,000 Jews from the Nazi's by smuggling them to Sweden in fishing boats. Very few Jews, know the story of how all 50,000 Bulgarian Jews were saved. Not a single Bulgarian Jew was deported to the death camps, due to the heroism of many Bulgarians of every walk of life, up to and including the King and the Patriarch of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church.

In 1999, Abraham Foxman, the National Director of the Anti Defamation League flew with a delegation to Sophia to meet the Bulgarian Prime Minister. He gave the Prime Minister the first Bulgarian language copy of a remarkable book, "Beyond Hitler's Grasp," written in 1998, by Michael Bar Oar, a professor at Emory University. (A Bulgarian Jew who had migrated to Israel and then to the USA). This book documents the rescue effort in detail. The ADL paid for and shipped 30,000 copies to Bulgaria, so that the population could partake in the joy of learning about this heroic facet of their history.

This story is clearly the last great secret of the Holocaust era. The story was buried by the Bulgarian Communists, until their downfall in 1991. All records were sealed, since they didn't wish to glorify the King, or the Church, or the non Communist parliamentarians, who at great personal risk, stood up to the Germans. Meanwhile, the Bulgarian Jewish Community, 45,000 of whom went to Israel after the War, were busy building new lives and somehow the story remained untold.

Bulgaria is a small country and at the outset of the War, they had 8 million people. They aligned themselves with the Nazi's in hopes of recapturing Macedonia from Yugoslavia and Thrace from Greece. Both provinces were stripped from them after W.W.I. In late 1942, the Jews of Selonica were shipped north through Bulgaria, on the way to the death camps, in sealed box cars. The news of this inhumanity was a hot topic of conversation.

Then, at the beginning of 1943, the pro Nazi Bulgarian government was informed that all 50,000 Bulgarian Jews would be deported in March. The Jews had been made to wear yellow stars and were highly visible. As the date for the deportation got closer, the agitation got greater. Forty-three ruling party members of Parliament walked out in protest. Newspapers denounced what was about to happen. In addition, the Patriarch of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church, Archbishop Krill, threatened to lie down on the railroad tracks. Finally, King Boris III forbade the deportation. Since Bulgaria was an ally of Germany, and the Germans were stretched militarily, they had to wrestle with the problem of how much pressure they could afford to apply. They decided to pass.

Several points are noteworthy. The Bulgarian Jews were relatively unreligious and did not stand apart from the local populace by virtue of garb, or rites. They were relatively poor by comparison to Jews in other countries, and they lived in integrated neighborhoods. Additionally, the Bulgarians had many minorities, Armenians, Turks, Greeks and Gypsies, in addition to Jews. There was no concept of racism in that culture. The bottom line here is that Bulgarians saw Bulgarian-Jews as Bulgarians, and not as Jews. In addition, being a small country, like Denmark, there was a closeness of community often missing in larger countries. Thankfully, here was a bright spot that we can point to as example of what should have been. The most famous of those saved was a young graduate of the Bulgarian Military Academy. When he arrived in Israel, he changed his name to Moshe Dayan.

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November 03, 2009

Hillary Clinton, Darling of Jewish Left, former NY Senator, now cops out on Israel

(Redacted from a press release by the Zionist Organization of America

November 3, 2009)

ZOA CRITICIZES SEC’Y CLINTON’S WHITE-WASHING OF PRO-TERROR, PRO-IRAN, ANTI-ISRAEL ABBAS/FATAH CONFERENCE

The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) has written to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, criticizing her response to a strong and principled letter she received from Senator Arlen Specter (D-PA), in which she both whitewashes and ignores the Abbas/Fatah Conference’s rejection of a final peace settlement with Israel. She continued support for terrorism, praising of terrorists and suicide bombers and the embracing of Iran by the Palestinian Authority (PA) Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah Party at its Bethlehem conference, which had prompted Senator Specter to write to her.

Secretary Clinton wrongly claims in her response to Senator Specter that the Conference showed “a broad consensus supporting President Abbas, negotiations with Israel, and the two-state solution.” In fact, as the ZOA documented at the time, the August 2009 Fatah Conference reaffirmed Fatah’s refusal to accept Israel’s existence as a Jewish state, glorified terrorists living and dead by name, praised the “armed struggle,” insisted on the so-called ‘right of return,’ and rejected an end of claims in any future peace agreement with Israel.

Senator Specter wrote earlier this month to Secretary Clinton, saying that he was “deeply concerned” with reports of extremism and glorification of terror, including the featuring at the Conference of “posters of children brandishing weapons. Senior Fatah officials routinely referenced and glorified perpetrators of terrorism; and perhaps most discouraging …leaders addressing the audience continuously championed the notion that Palestinians maintain the right to commit violence against Israel.

It is my understanding that the platform Fatah adopted at the Conference includes calls for increased international pressure on Israel and opposes any normalization of relations between Israel and Arab States.” Referring to the $800 million in U.S. aid to the PA, Senator Specter urged Secretary Clinton that “This support ought to be predicated on at least some level of assurance that the beneficiaries are committed to long-term peace.” He also urged her to “communicate disappointment to your counterparts in the Palestinian Authority and advise them that the Conference and similar events are counterproductive and will not be tolerated.”

Mort Klein, President of the Zionist Org. of America reminded Senator Clinton, “As Senator, you distinguished yourself by pointing to the poisonous and vile incitement to hatred and murder that permeates the Palestinian Authority. You even said that such incitement would have ‘dire consequences for peace for generations to come’ and that ‘It is clear that the Palestinian Authority, as we see on PA TV, is complicit’ in terrorist attacks and that we should condition U.S. aid to the PA on a ‘cessation of Palestinian propaganda and hateful rhetoric.

Yet, to our dismay, we find now that you are not only neglecting to recognize the clear extremism of the Fatah Conference and its platform but, actually praising it for its commitment to peace and rebutting Senator Specter’s urgings to condition funding to the Palestinian Authority on it upholding a truly moderate and peaceful approach. We strongly urge you to review this vital matter. It would be a terrible, avoidable tragedy if further U.S. funds go to support an unreconstructed regime that encourages terrorism and engages in incitement and if the Obama Administration fails to take the necessary steps to urge an end to this behavior as you yourself once urged.”


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November 02, 2009

Amazing clairvoyance prior to the 2008 election. If we had only paid attention.

Redacted from an article by Joshua Muravchik

COMMENTARY October 2008

INTRODUCING HIMSELF to the nation at the 2004 Democratic national convention, Barack Obama spoke not only of his black father, “born and raised in a small village in Kenya” but of his white mother, “born in a town, in Kansas” to a father who “worked on oil rigs and farms through most of the Depression” before enlisting in military service “the day after Pearl Harbor.” What brought them together was “a magical place, America,” he said, adding, “I stand here today, grateful for the diversity of my heritage ...knowing that . . . in no other country on earth, is my story even possible.”

Not only was Obama the real, living embodiment of America’s racial diversity. He was a dazzling presence, outshining the party’s nominee with his look, stage presence, oratorical mastery and the brilliance of his rhetoric. Nor was that all. This avatar of reconciliation talked of transcending divisions not just racial but political and ideological. He spoke lovingly of country and movingly of God and family in a way that had eluded the Democrats since their sharp turn to the Left when the party nominated George McGovern in 1972.

Four years later, Obama is the Democratic nominee, and even his occasional shrill attacks on his opponent seem to have chipped away little of the cornerstone of his own candidacy: the promise to bring us, all of us, together. Can he do that? Is he well-suited to raise the curtain on a new post-partisan, post-ideological era? From his record in office, it would hardly seem so. Non-partisanship does not just mean Democrats coaching Little League, lovely as that is, but cooperating with members of the other party in developing compromise solutions to national problems.

The Senate has a particularly rich tradition of such bipartisanship, but Obama appears never to have participated in it. On the contrary: according to Congressional Quarterly, which measures how often each member votes in accordance with or at ‘variance from the majority of his own party, Obama has compiled one of the most partisan of all voting records.

Last year, for example, the ‘average Senator voted with his own party 84 percent of the time; Obama voted with his party 96 percent of the time. In the prior two years, his number was 95 percent, making him the fourth most partisan member of the Senate. In addition, he was not just partisan, but also highly ideological. In 2007, according to the National Journal, Obama’s voting record made him “the most liberal Senator.” Throughout his Senate career, according to Americans for Democratic Action (ADA), the dean of liberal advocacy groups, Obama voted “right” 90 percent of the time.

Actually, this is misleading, since ADA counts an absence as if it were a vote on the “wrong” side. If we discount his absences, Obama voted to ADA’s approval more than 98 percent of the time. This touches directly on the question of what, beyond the platitudes of unity, hope and change, Obama himself believes in. His voting record is one indication. Another is his intellectual evolution.

ABANDONED BY his father when he was still too young to remember him and then sent at age ten by his mother to live in Hawaii with her parents, who enrolled him in a prestigious prep school, Obama spent much of his teen years searching for his black identity. Late in his high-school career, he found a mentor of sorts in Frank Marshall Davis, an older black poet. According to Herbert Romerstein, former minority chief investigator of the House Committee on Internal Security, FBI files reveal Davis to have been a member of the Communist party not only in its public phase but also when it officially dissolved and went underground in the 1950’s. According to Obama, Davis told him that a white person “can’t know” a black person, and that the “real price of admission” to college was “leaving your race at the door.” Perhaps influenced by this, he reports that at college, “To avoid being mistaken for a sellout, I chose my friends carefully - The more politically active black students, the foreign students, the Chicanos, The Marxist professors, structural feminists and punk-rock performance poets.

Despite Obama’s tone of self-mockery, the passage discloses the milieu in which he immersed himself. In this light, it is not surprising that, upon graduation, he decided on a career as a “community organizer,” even if it was none too clear to him what exactly that meant. As he confesses in his early memoir Dreams from My Father (1995): When classmates asked me just what it was that a community organizer did, I couldn’t answer them directly, Instead I’d pronounce on the need for change. Change in the White House, Change in the Congress, Change in the mood of the country. Change won’t come from the top, I would say. Change will come from mobilized grass roots. I’ll organize black folks.

Thanks to a grant from a left-wing foundation, he was hired by a small group of white protégés of Saul Alinsky, the original apostle of “community organizing.” Alinsky’s institutional base was the Industrial Areas Foundation, which he called a “school for professional radicals” and whose goal he announced to be “revolution, not revelation.” As Obama himself would put it: There were “two roles that an organizer was supposed to play - getting the Stop sign and the educative function. At some point you have to link up winning that Stop sign with the larger trends, larger movements.” In other words, “community organizer,” to Obama and his colleagues and mentors, was a euphemism for professional radical.

It was in the course of trying to mobilize churches for political protest that Obama met Jeremiah Wright. When the controversy surrounding the pastor arose this year, Obama denied being present when Rev. Wright delivered his most incendiary sermons commenting that he was like “an old uncle who sometimes will say things that I don’t agree with.” However, this was evasive. By Obama’s own testimony, the reason other ministers directed him to Wright was that Wright’s Trinity United Church of Christ was steeped in politics. Thus, Obama writes that Wright had “dabbled with liquor, Islam, and Black Nationalism” before returning to Christianity and studying, among other things, “the black liberation theologians.”

Whoever and however many these theologians may have been, Wright invoked only one on the church’s website. “The vision statement of Trinity United Church of Christ,” in Wright’s words, was “based upon the systematic liberation theology that started in 1969 with the publication of Dr. James Cone’s book, Black Power and Black Theology” What was that theology? Here are two tiny snippets of Cone’s thought: “Christianity and whiteness are Opposites,” and “there will be no peace in America until whites begin to hate their whiteness.

OBAMA LEFT Chicago after three years to attend Harvard Law School. As he would explain, “I had things to learn - things that would help me bring about real change.” After graduating with honors in 1991, he returned to the Windy City to join the small law firm of Judson Miner, an activist who had been attorney to Mayor Harold Washington. ‘Within three years of his return, he also became deeply involved with Bill Ayers, a former leader of the so-called Weather Underground. This leftist terrorist group, akin to the German Baader-Meinhof gang or the Italian Red Brigades, specialized in bombing government buildings.

Ayers later wrote I boastfully that he had personally carried out an attack on the Pentagon. Ayers’s wife and closest collaborator was Bernardine Dohrn, whose views were so extreme that they seemed to cross a line from ultra-leftism to Satanism. At a meeting of the Weather Underground, she hailed the murders then recently committed by Charles Manson’s demented followers. “Dig it, first they killed those pigs, then they ate dinner in the same room with them, they even shoved a fork into a victim’s stomach!” she exulted, giving a three-fingered salute to signify a fork.

After the pair emerged from hiding in 1980, a court dismissed the main charges against Ayers on the grounds the government had used an illegal wiretap. He pled guilty to possessing explosives, but served no time. The net outcome inspired him to gloat that he was “guilty as hell and free as a bird.” Dohrn served seven months. Then they both went respectable, but without changing their views. Ayers posed for a picture stomping on an American flag, and in 2001, he told the New York Times, “I don’t regret setting bombs. I feel we didn’t do enough.” The details of Obama’s association with Ayers remain somewhat shrouded because both Ayers and Dohrn have refused to discuss it, while Obama and his spokesmen have prevaricated about it. When, during one of the televised primary debates, George Stephanopoulos asked about his connection to Ayers, Obama replied:
This is a guy who lives in my neighborhood, who’s a professor of English in Chicago who I know and who I have not received some official endorsement from. He’s not somebody who I exchange ideas from on a regular basis. And the notion that somehow as a consequence of me knowing somebody who engaged in detestable acts 40 years ago, when I was eight years old, somehow reflects on me and my values, doesn’t make much sense. (Of course, Obama neglects to mention all the years of association with Ayers after age 8!) jsk

Entering the national political scene eight years later, Obama did not, to be sure, appear as a radical, but he still bore the earmarks of the world in which he had been immersed for twenty years. He called himself “progressive,” a term of art favored by veterans of the hard New Left, like Tom Hayden, (Jane Fonda’s former husband – jsk) as well as by old-time Communists. Early this year his wife Michelle, lacking his tact, would kindle controversy by saying that his success in the presidential primaries made her feel proud of her country for the first time. The comment, a faux pas that she was soon at pains to explain away, flowed logically from her view, expressed in her standard stump speech, that our country is a “downright mean”place, “guided by fear,” where the “life that most people are living has gotten progressively worse.”

This year, Obama appeared before Rev. Al Sharpton’s National Action Network (whose official slogan is “no justice, no peace”) to seek its support. The candidate praised Sharpton as “a voice for the voiceless and . . . dispossessed. ‘ What National Action Network has done is so important to change America, and it must be changed from the bottom up.” Given Sharpton’s long career of reckless racial demagogy, it might seem shocking that a mainstream candidate should be seeking his blessing, but in this, at least, Obama was not unique: all of the 2008 Democratic aspirants did so. He did, though, strive to separate himself from the pack:

If there is somebody who has been more on the forefront of the issues that you care about and has more accomplishment on behalf of the things you’re concerned about, then I am happy to see you endorse them. I am happy to see you support them. But, I am confident that you will not find that, because there is nobody who has stood fast on these issues more consistently each and every day, than I have. That is something that I know. (Huh?)

EVEN AFTER declaring his candidacy; and despite a certain inevitable sidling rightward, Obama still reflected the presuppositions of a radical worldview. In one notable remark, he said of voters in economic distress, that in their desperation they “cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them.” Chastised for his condescension, he responded: “I said something that everybody knows is true.” This was elitism of a very specific kind—the mentality of the community organizer, according to which people in the grip of “false consciousness” need to be enlightened as to the true nature of their class interests, and to the nature of their true class enemies.

The same suppositions are again evident in Obama’s stances on international issues. Iraq, as he sees it, is only a symptom. “I don’t want to just end the war . . . I want to end the mindset that got us into war in the first place.” What would that mindset be? In a 2002 speech he frequently cites, he said the war resulted from the cynical attempt by Richard Perle and Paul Wolfowitz and other armchair, weekend warriors to shove their own ideological agendas down our throats; done irrespective of the costs in lives lost and in hardships borne . . . the attempt by political hacks like Karl Rove to distract us from a rise in the uninsured, a rise in the poverty rate, a drop in the median income . . . the arms merchants in our own country . . . feeding the countless wars that rage across the globe. In this Obama litany of global perfidy, the issues of Saddam Hussein’s murderous dictatorship, of American security, of the future of freedom, shrink to inconsequentiality next to the struggle of the oppressed against their American capitalist overlords.

When it comes to Iran, Obama has acknowledged that the regime presents a problem. But, his actions - he opposed the Kyl-Lieberman amendment designating the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps a terrorist organization—as well as his rhetoric imply that the greater danger emanates from George W Bush (who is allegedly seeking “any justification to extend the Iraq war or to attack Iran”). Likewise on defeating terrorism, where he rejects the American-centric focus that Bush has given to the issue; instead, in the words of his aides, Obama’s main goal is to “restore . . . our moral standing”—that is, to put an end to our aggressive ways.

Even the events of 9/11 could not shake Obama from the mindset that the enemy is always us. “The bombings”, he wrote, “reflected the underlying struggle between worlds of plenty and worlds of want; between the modern and the ancient; between those who embrace our teeming, colliding, irksome diversity, while still insisting on a set of values that binds us together; and those who would seek, under whatever flag or slogan or sacred text, a certainty and simplification that justifies cruelty toward those not like us.” (Say what?)

In this reading, the lessons to be learned from the actions of Osama bin Laden and Mohammed Atta are that we must accept multiculturalism at home and share our wealth abroad.

In sum, Obama comes to us from a background farther to the Left than any presidential nominee since George McGovern, or perhaps ever. This makes him an extremely unlikely leader to bridge the divides of party, ideology, or, for that matter, race. If he loses, it will be for that reason (though many will no doubt adduce different explanations, including of course white racism, to which every GOP victory since Nixon’s election in 1968 has been attributed). And, if he wins?

Without a doubt, it will be a thrilling moment. But, the enduring importance of that landmark event will depend on the subsequent effectiveness of his presidency. If his tenure—like that of, say, Richard Nixon or Jimmy Carter—should end by inviting scorn, then it may open as many wounds as it heals. On the other hand, it is not unimaginable that he may rise to the challenge of the office and govern from the center, as he will have to do to succeed. This, however, would truly involve reinventing himself, a task for which his intellectual and ideological background furnishes few materials.

With his sharply partisan speech to the Democratic national convention in late August, Obama appeared to zag to the Left after months of zigging toward the center in hopes of winning over independent voters, which had stirred cries of alarm among some of his leftist supporters. Others among them, however, were and are nothing fazed. As the Nation’s Robert Dreyfuss explained, they “put their faith in the Senator’s character and innate instincts.” Heaven help us, they are probably right.

Joshua MURAVCHIK, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, recently completed a book about Arab and Muslim Democrats. His “Obamas’s ‘Talking’ Cure” appeared in the September 2008 COMMENTARY.

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