February 27, 2010

Our National Destruction (G-d forbid) continues unabated

Obama cedes US future to Russia and China

By Charles Krauthammer
The Palm Beach Post, February 17, 2010

“We have an agreement - until 2012 that Russia will, be responsible for this,” says Anatoly Perminov, head of the Russian space agency, about ferrying astronauts from other countries into low-Earth orbit. “But after that? Excuse me, but the prices should be absolutely different then!”

The Russians may be new at capitalism, but they know how it works. When you have a monopoly, you charge monopoly prices. Within months, Russia will have a monopoly on rides into space. By the end of this year, there will be no shuttle, no US - manned space program, no way for us to get into space. We’re not talking about Mars or the moon here. We are talking about low Earth orbit, which the U.S. has dominated for nearly half a century and from which it is now retiring with nary a whimper.

Our absence from low-Earth orbit was meant to last a few years, the interval between the retirement of the fatally fragile space shuttle and its replacement with the Constellation program (Ares booster, Orion capsule, Altair lunar lander) to take astronauts more cheaply and safely back to space. But, the Obama 2011 budget kills Constellation Instead, for the first time since John Glenn flew in 1962; the US will have no access of its own for humans into space — and no prospect of getting there in the foreseeable future. Of course, the administration presents the abdication as a great leap: Launching humans will now be turned over to the private sector, while NASA’S efforts will be directed toward landing on Mars.

This is nonsense. It would be swell for private companies to take over launching astronauts. But, they cannot do it. It’s too expensive. It’s too experimental. In addition, the safety standards for actually getting people up and down reliably are just unreachably high.

Sure, decades from now, there will be a robust private space-travel industry but that is a long time. In the interim, space will be owned by Russia and then China. The president waxes seriously nationalist at the thought of China or India surpassing us in speculative “clean energy.” Yet, he is quite prepared to gratuitously give up our spectacular lead in human space exploration.

As for Mars - more nonsense. If we can’t afford an Ares rocket to get us into orbit and to the moon, how long will it lake to develop a revolutionary propulsion system that will take us not a quarter-million miles but 35. million miles? To say nothing of the effects of long-term weightlessness, of long-term cosmic ray exposure, and of the intolerable risk to astronaut safety involved in any Mars trip — six months of contingencies vs. three days for a moon trip.

Of course, the whole Mars project as substitute for the moon is simply a ruse. It’s like the classic bait-and-switch for high-tech military spending: A classic example is the B-1 bomber, which was canceled in the 1970s in favor of the over-the-horizon B-2 stealth bomber, which was then killed in the 1990s after a production run of only 21 (instead of 132) in the name of post-Cold War obsolescence.

Moreover, there is the question of seriousness. When John F Kennedy pledged to go to the moon, he had an intense personal commitment. He delivered speeches remembered to this day. He dedicated astronomical sums to make it happen. At the peak of the Apollo program, NASA was consuming almost 4 percent of the federal budget, which in terms of the 2011 budget is about $150 billion. Today the manned space program will die for want of $3 billion a year — 1/300th of last year’s stimulus package with its endless make-work projects that will leave not a trace on the national consciousness.

As for President Obama’s commitment to beyond-lunar space: Has he given a single speech, devoted an iota of political capital to it? Mr. Obama’s NASA budget perfectly captures the difference in spirit between Mr. Kennedy’s liberalism and Mr. Obama’s. Mr. Kennedy’s was an expansive, bold, out- -ward-looking summons. Mr. Obama’s is a constricted inward-looking call to retreat. Fifty years ago, Mr. Kennedy opened the New Frontier. Mr. Obama has just shut it.

Charles Krauthammer’s e-mail address is letters@charleskrauthammer.com

Posted by Jerome S. Kaufman at 08:04 PM | Comments (0)

February 25, 2010

What’s with the US Census?

The Super-sized census boondoggle

By Michelle Malkin
The Washington Times, February 15, 2010

If only the federal government were as responsible with our money as Pepsi is with theirs. The soda giant has been in the Super Bowl ad business for more than two decades. But, this year, Pepsi determined it was economically unwise to pay $3 million for a 30-second spot. So, who’s foolish enough to pay for Super Bowl gold-plated airtime - You and me and Washington, D.C?
The U.S. Census Bureau squandered $2.5 million on a half-minute Super Bowl ad starring D-list celebrity Ed Begley Jr., plus two pre-game blurbs and 12-second “vignettes” featuring Super Bowl anchor James Brown. It’s a drop in the census boondoggle bucket (otherwise known as the tax-subsidized National Democratic Future Voter Outreach Drive).

The Obama White House has allocated a total of $340 million toward an “unprecedented” promotional blitz for the 2010 census. That’s on top of $1 billion in stimulus money siphoned off for increased census “public outreach” and staffing. In all, the census will triple its total 2000 budget to $15 billion. Ads pimping the census have already appeared during the Golden Globe awards and will broadcast during the Daytona 500 and NCAA Final Four championships.

Some $80 million will be poured into multilingual ads in 28 languages from Arabic to Yiddish. Racial and ethnic groups have been squabbling over their share of the pie.

The U.S. census is a decennial census mandated by our Constitution. Should Americans know about it? Sure. Should the P.R. budget become a bottomless slush fund in reversionary times? Surely not. Yet, no matter how you translate it, the census commercials to date have been an “Ishtar” style flop. Global ad agency Draftfeb, based in (Obama’s hometown) Chicago and New York, nabbed a $200 million four-year contract to oversee the Census Bureau’s direct marketing, online and offline general market media strategies. The agency hired comedian Christopher Guest to direct “viral” spots. One of the supposedly “humor-driven” videos directed by Guest and uploaded to YouTube a few weeks ago. It has racked up a measly 6,880 views. -“For a once-a-decade project involving every living American. That’s a pretty crummy return on investment:’ jeered Ad-Freak’s David Griner. “The video seems to be hampered by the same problem that plagues all campaigns meant to ‘go viral’ i.e., it’s simply not that funny. The joke is a chuckler at best, and dragged out to three minutes, that chuckle gets spread pretty thin?’ According to independent census watchdog Stephen Morse, the feds conducted a total of 115 focus groups in 37 markets across the country before settling on the dud of an a
That’s a lot of focus-grouping to get people to pay a little extra attention to government head-count questionnaires coming straight to their mailboxes.

Taxpayers are also footing ~ the bill for the Mother of all Government Junkets — a three-month road trip by lucky-ducky Census Bureau flacks traveling in 13 buses and cargo vans with trailers. They’ll be partying m New Orleans for Mardi Gras and at parades across the country. In case you were wondering about the anticipated Census Road Show carbon footprint, it’s an estimated 223 metric tons. But not to worry: The ecoteers of an Al Gore carbon offset firm called “Carbonfund.org” have become official government “partners” with the Census to offset all the vehicle emissions—and surf off the free publicity to garner more business.

As if overpriced TV ads, online videos no one watches and indulgent, cross-country caravans weren’t enough, the Census Bureau is also enlisting 56 million schoolchildren to pester their parents and act as junior government enumerators. Educates are spending several billions more on math and social studies lessons peddling the census. Overzealous census partners such as the National Association of Latino Elected Officials have distributed recruitment propaganda urging constituents to participate because “Joseph and Mary participated in the census.” Goodness knows what kind of fear-mongering curricula the kids are being served in the name of counting heads — and shaping the electoral landscape.

“When times are tough, you tighten your belts:’ President Obama lectured us. “ You don’t blow a bunch of cash in Vegas.” Coincidentally, the Census Road Tour junketeers just wrapped up a visit in Vegas. Next stop? You guessed it: the Super Bowl in Miami. Taxpayers should start crying foul.

Michelle Malkin is a nationally syndicated columnist.

Posted by Jerome S. Kaufman at 05:29 PM | Comments (0)

February 23, 2010

Barack Obama, Al Gore and Osama bin Laden all agree on Global Warming

The Washington Times, February 8, 2010

In his State of the Union address two weeks ago, President Obama said there was “overwhelming scientific evidence on climate change.” In his most recent message to the world, Osama bin Laden said that climate change “is not an intellectual luxury but an actual fact?’ It’s nice to see these two leaders can agree on something. The hitch is that the man-caused catastrophic global warming theory is dead, and it needs to be buried. Evidence had been mounting for years that there were problems with the global warming model; most telling was that the globe refused to warm up. Carbon emissions continued apace, but the world began cooling. This is why true believers abandoned the “global warming” brand name and tried to shift the debate to the more ambiguous label “climate change,” which is something the rest of us like to refer to as “weather.”

The dam broke with Climategate when hacked e-mails from the University of East Anglia’s Climatic Research Unit revealed that global warming advocates had for years attempted to hide conflicting data and silence their professional critics. British authorities have determined that the university broke freedom-of-information laws by denying information to scientists seeking to check claims that global warming was caused by human activity.

Evidence is emerging that the data had been rigged all along. Russian analysts noted that British temperature calculations excluded data from 40 percent of Russian territory, much of which showed no increase in temperature in the past 50 years. The U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration cherry-picked data, cutting Canadian data sources from 600 to 35 and relying on only one monitor for all of Canada above the Arctic Circle. This was done even though Canada operates 1,400 weather stations, 100 of which are in the Arctic.

The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is having its own scandal regarding a finding in its Nobel Peace Prize-winning 2007 report that glaciers in India were rapidly disappearing. It is now revealed that this dramatic claim was based not on years of patient observation and research but anecdotes from a hiking magazine and a student’s master’s thesis. IPCC Chairman Rajendra K. Pachauri knew about the erroneous information before December’s Copenhagen climate summit but maintained the falsehood. He even denounced a report from India that showed the glaciers were in far less jeopardy as “unsubstantiated research.” Last month, Mr. Pachauri published a sexually explicit novel, further diminishing his professional reputation.

Climate scientists have to come to grips with some highly inconvenient truths. World temperatures continue to decline as carbon emissions increase. Chilly Scotland is facing its coldest winter in a century. Arctic sea ice is not vanishing. Polar bears are experiencing a baby boom. Water vapor appears to play as important a role in the climate as carbon emissions. Sunspot activity may be more important than both combined. Meanwhile, climate change fanatics seek to blame capitalism and productivity for global warming, global cooling, too much snow, not enough snow, hurricanes, tornadoes and even the Haiti earthquake.

The simplistic and increasingly discredited theory of carbon-based, man-caused global warming needs to be discarded, and the scientists who sought to squelch skeptics and artificially inflate their own reputations must be disciplined. Alas, Mr. Obama, (Mr. Gore) and Mr. bin Laden need to update their talking points.

Posted by Jerome S. Kaufman at 10:09 PM | Comments (0)

February 22, 2010

Are you guilty of contributory negligence? Did you pick the “leadership,” the synagogue?

Michael Steinhardt criticizes Failures Of Jewish Leadership

By Avi Yellin
The Jewish Press, January 15, 2010

Michael H. Steinhardt, one of world Jewry’s most generous philanthropists and a co-founder of Birthright Israel, has delivered a scathing criticism of all that he sees wrong with the Jewish world today, singling out non-Orthodox life. In an interview with Mark S. Golub of Shalom TV, Steinhardt expressed his deep disappointment with the traditional Hebrew school system and characterized many of the young people he has met through Birthright Israel as “Jewish barbarians” who have never in their lives even experienced a Sabbath dinner.

Steinhardt, who identifies himself as anything but an Orthodox Jew, had especially harsh criticism for non-Orthodox Jewish life in the Diaspora. He expressed his disappointment and anger with those often described as “wonderful educators” in the Reform and Conservative movements for having done “such a poor job under-educating our next generations” and for failing to distinguish Jewish values from Christian ones.

From Steinhardt’s perspective, it has become virtually impossible to identify a non-Orthodox Jewish student from a non-Jewish student at any secular university. “I think that many of the trends that we have seen — such as the fact that 55-60 percent of non-Orthodox Jews are marrying out; such as the fact that only 15 percent of total philanthropy of Jews goes to Jewish causes — are reflective of that fact that non-Orthodox Jewish education in America has been, and continues to be a shandah, a shame, an abysmal failure”

Steinhardt also blasted Jewish leadership in America, saying there has been too much emphasis on the Holocaust — “an event of extraordinary enormity” — and misplaced fears about anti-Semitism in America. “Anti-Semitism,” he said, “has always been far more mythical than real in America; it’s as if organizations have to create the bogeyman of anti-Semitism in order to raise money.” Steinhardt further argued that concern about the Holocaust and anti-Semitism detracts “from our ability to think about the Jewish future — because it’s hard to be focused intensively on the Holocaust and, at the same time, to think about what we want to accomplish and what we want to be in the 21st century.” Steinhardt offered a foreboding assessment for the future of Diaspora Jewry:

“It is a moribund Jewish world, continuously losing its young people, whose charities have dramatically changed where only a small fraction of total philanthropy is going to Jewish causes; interest in Israel is declining; the number of American Jews going to Israel is not growing; where the culmination of Jewish life seems to be the bar mitzvah — and from there it is all downhill.”

While Steinhardt maintains that the most effective tool in instilling a sense of Jewish identity in young people is for them to visit Israel, he does not hold back from criticizing Israeli politicians and post-Zionist aspects of modern Israeli culture. “Israel’s politicians,” he said, “are, writ large, awful; its businessmen are of less than glorious quality; and when you walk down Dizengoff Street in Tel Aviv and you look around at these people you say, ‘This is who you admire?’
“I often say it’s easier to be a Zionist in Manhattan than it is in Tel Aviv.”

Despite the challenges that exist in the modern Jewish state, Steinhardt said Israel has always been his great love and he expressed joy and appreciation for being able to contribute to and participate in Jewish life to the extent he has.

Posted by Jerome S. Kaufman at 03:01 AM | Comments (0)

February 20, 2010

Mr. Scott Brown (aka Jimmy Stewart) Goes to Washington

Redacted from article by Wm. Kristol, Editor

The Weekly Standard, February 1, 2010

Life doesn’t simply imitate art. There are important differences between the Scott Brown story and Jefferson Smith’s. And the differences make Brown’s actual achievement more impressive than Smith’s fictitious one. For example, Smith (Jimmy Stewart) was appointed to his seat in the Senate. Scott Brown won his in an upset electoral victory. And at the climactic moment in the film, Smith collapses in a faint, but his cause is saved by a fellow senator, Joseph Paine (Claude Rains), who has had sudden pangs of conscience.

By contrast, at a key moment in Brown’s effort, the televised debate a week before Election Day, it was Brown all alone, relying on his own wits, who seized the moment. He responded to David Gergen’s patronizing question as to whether he was willing to “sit in Teddy Kennedy’s seat” and block liberal health care policies by saying, coolly and calmly, “Well, with all due respect, it’s not the Kennedy’s’ seat, and it’s not the Democrats’ seat, it’s the people’s seat.”

But there are also similarities between the sagas of Smith and Brown. Both had happy endings, featuring the upset victory of a god (and good-looking!) guy, who sought to represent the public interest and was in touch with public sentiment, over an entrenched, corrupt, and out-of-touch political machine. And both victories horrified the political establishment. When Frank Capra’s Mr. Smith Goes to Washington premiered at Constitution Hall in Washington in October 1939, half the Senate was in attendance. The senators were outraged by the film’s depiction of widespread venality and corruption in that august body. Senate Majority Leader Alben Barkley denounced Mr. Smith as a “silly and stupid” movie that “showed the Senate as the biggest aggregation of nincompoops on record.”

When Scott Brown won last Tuesday night, once again more than half the Senate was surely outraged and or shell-shocked. And today’s majority leader, Harry Reid, followed in Barkley’s footsteps by issuing a grudging and graceless statement, which included no congratulations to Scott Brown (“The people of Massachusetts have spoken”) and no recognition that the public was sending any sort of message. "While Senator-elect Brown’s victory changes the political math in the Senate ... there is much work to do to address the problems Democrats -inherited last year, and we plan to move full speed ahead.”

Another similarity between art and life was provided by the Kennedy family. The patriarch, Joseph Kennedy, was ambassador to Great Britain in 1939, and he complained to the head of Columbia Pictures that Mr. Smith would harm “America’s prestige in Europe.” Indeed, he urged that it be withdrawn from European release. Seventy years later, various Kennedys campaigned against Scott Brown’s upstart effort to capture the Senate seat held by Joe’s youngest son for 47 years.

But, the biggest similarity is this:
Americans liked an underdog in 1939. They liked one in 2010. When the establishment is arrogant and unresponsive, they tend to side with a Jefferson Smith/ Scott Brown figure. In 1939, that establishment seemed to be made up of conservative economic royalists. Today, that establishment seems to consist of liberal political royalists.

This difference is, politically, a big deal. It is at the heart of the Republicans’ opportunity to build on what Scott Brown has accomplished. It suggests the GOP, and the conservative movement, should embrace the kind of enlightened, good-natured, constructive populism that Brown demonstrated in his campaign. And it means resisting the twin perils of Republican establishmentarian royalism on the one hand, and a bitter and destructive populism on the other.

Critics in 1939 were surprisingly lukewarm about Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. But, the public liked it, and the film struck a chord around the world. Supposedly, when American-made films were banned in German-occupied France in 1942, some theaters showed Mr. Smith as the last movie before the ban, and one theater owner in Paris showed the film for 30 days running after the ban was announced.

Pundits today may not be crazy about Scott Brown’s victory. But, the public seems to approve. And, Brown’s momentum will carry Republicans along for at least 30 days. Still, it’s a long ten months until November, and Republicans will need more than just momentum and sentiment. They’ll need policy proposals that advance the cause of democratic capitalism against crony capitalism, the public interest against the special interests, and free markets against big government and, yes, at times against big business. If they can begin to fill out this agenda while standing resolute against the dictates of the liberal establishment, then Scott Brown could be followed to Washington by many more underdog conservative citizen-legislators in November.

—William Kristol

Posted by Jerome S. Kaufman at 07:34 PM | Comments (0)

February 18, 2010

An Analogy – Jimmy Carter and Barack Obama!

“Dictatorships and Double Standards” - A Redux

Professor Jeane Kirkpatrick’s seminal article and what it has to teach us about the condition of Obama’s foreign policy

These are just excerpts from a marvelous analogy By Ilan Wurman

COMMENTARY January 2010

THIRTY years ago, an article criticizing the Carter administration’s foreign policy appeared in these pages under the title “Dictatorships and Double Standards.” Its author was Jeane Kirkpatrick, then a professor of political science at Georgetown University: “Dictatorships and Double Standards” went on to become one of the most controversial and influential articles published in the United States in the latter half of the 20th century.

Kirkpatrick’s central argument was very much focused on the singular events of the year 1979, one of the most difficult in American history, and therefore would seem to have limited application to the very different world order to be found in 2009. Nonetheless, “Dictatorships and Double Standards” remains a potent and devastating critique of how American progressives think about U.S. power and foreign policy and the approach it condemns—the way in which the Carter administration viewed the world and conducted American policy.

It is worryingly similar to the approach of the Obama administration today. Certain policies pursued by the Carter administration, ostensibly in the name of American principles and interests, Kirkpatrick argued, were in fact undermining those interests and leading to America’s international isolation and a loss of power and authority: -

... THE disastrous state of American foreign policy under Jimmy Carter was neatly encapsulated in Kirkpatrick’s blunt opening: “The failure of the Carter administration’s foreign policy is now clear to everyone except its architects.” But, worse was yet to come. Kirkpatrick did not know that, only a week after COMMENTARY’S November 1979 issue hit the newsstands, the U.S. embassy in Tehran would be raided and 52 of its American employees taken hostage—nor could she have imagined that the hostage crisis would last 444 days.

The year would come to a close with the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. We are not even a year into Barack Obama’s term, but given what we have seen of it so far, we have reason to fear that the “Dictatorships and Double Standards” of our time will see its way into print more quickly than Kirkpatrick’s, which appeared in the 33rd month of Carter’s ignominious single term.

ILAN WURMAN, making his first appearance in COMMENTARY, is a student at Claremont McKenna College.

Posted by Jerome S. Kaufman at 11:20 AM | Comments (0)

February 16, 2010

The Anti-Defamation League with Director Abe Foxman runs credit report on Barack Obama

07 Feb 2010

By: Jim Meyers

The Anti-Defamation League’s National Director Abraham Foxman gives President Barack Obama an "F” - a failing report card grade after his first year in office for his accomplishments in dealing with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. In an exclusive Newsmax interview, Foxman also criticized the Obama administration for failing to show leadership in supporting reformers in Iran in the wake of their recent presidential election. He also warns about the growing threat posed by homegrown Islamic terrorists and sleeper cells in the United States.

The Anti-Defamation League, or ADL, the nation's premier civil rights organization, was founded in 1913 to battle defamation and discrimination against Jews, but its scope has broadened and today it is at the forefront fighting against bigotry of all kinds. Foxman has led the ADL for 23 years and is known around the world as one the United States' most respected Jewish-American leaders. He is the recipient of many awards, including the French Legion of Honor, France's highest civilian award.

In a sit-down interview with Foxman conducted this weekend, Newsmax TV Kathleen Walter asked Foxman how he would rate Obama's handling of the Israeli-Palestinian situation.

“I would give him an A for effort, a C-minus for strategy, and an F for accomplishment.” Foxman responded without hesitation. ”I think the intentions were good. I think the strategy to put pressure on Israel, to put forward the settlement issue as a litmus test, not to put pressure on the Arab countries, not to put pressure on the Palestinians, not only failed but it set the peace process back. In the past administration, under Bush, [the November 2007 peace conference] at Annapolis brought the two parties together. They talked about all kinds of issues while settlements were being built. Now for us to get to where we were before will take a great deal of effort.

Palestinian National Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has refused to restart negotiations with Israel unless certain preconditions are met, including a complete halt to Jewish settlement construction. Walter asked Foxman what the Obama administration can do to move the process along. ”I think the president and his administration should put more pressure on the Palestinians, embarrass them a little bit,” he said. “Why are they making preconditions? If peace is important, why is there a need to set all these preconditions which didn’t exist before? I would like to see the administration also move a little more directly on the Arab states, on the moderate Arab states, on the Saudis, on the Egyptians, on the UAE, for them to put pressure on the Palestinians to go back to the table. There’s also the issue of Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

I believe the president has a bully pulpit. He has a very clear moral voice. I have not heard it in terms of the world community singling out Israel. It would be nice to hear it publicly. I think that may bring back the balance and maybe move the peace process closer. Foxman’s impatience and disappointment in Obama seems to reflect a growing unease among American Jews about the president’s Middle East policies. Malcolm Hoenlein, executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, expressed concern about Obama in a June interview with Newsmaxs Chief Washington Correspondent Ronald Kessler. ” There’s a lot of questioning going on about what he really believes and what does he really stand for.” Hoenlein said. [Jews] are genuinely very concerned.” he added.

On the home front, the ADL has grown increasingly concerned about domestic terrorism. A recent report by the Anti-Defamation League’s magazine, ADL on the Frontline, warned of a growing threat from American Muslim extremists. In the past two years, the report noted, more than 30 of these extremists have been arrested on various terror-related charges including providing material support to terrorists and plotting to plant bombs in the United States. When Newsmax’s Walter asked about this worrisome threat, Foxman said, “There’s no question that there are sleeper cells in this country.”

”There’s no question that fundamentalist Islam has targeted the U.S. The 9/11 [attacks] on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon did not begin with flying planes and box cutters. It began with hate, hateful words, teachings of hate. And we know throughout the world, including the United States, there are individuals who have been taught to hate, who have been inspired to hate, who have been taught to do violence, and we know they have been placed in various places around the United States to act at certain moments. It is a clear and present danger which I think we are finally becoming aware of, that we need to focus on and take seriously.”

Turning to Iran, Walter referred to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s threat to wipe Israel off the map and asked Foxman what options Obama has in dealing with the Islamic Republic and its nuclear development program. One of the options that needs to be on the table, as long as a sovereign state is threatening the destruction of another state time and time again, is a military option” Foxman said. It should be the last option, but I don’t think anything else will work unless the Iranians understand how serious would be their consequences.” When violence broke out in Iran following disputed elections, the United States hesitated,” Foxman added. We were not out there very clearly in support of the reformers and all those who were ready to risk their lives.

I think the United States needs to show leadership. Secretary of State Clinton said we need crippling sanctions. Whether we get Russia or China with us or not, the United States should push forward aggressively in the United Nations. And if they can’t get the United Nations, then bring together those who are willing to stand up and say to Iran, this is not the way. Other courses of action may succeed if there is a military option. If there is no military option, why should the Iranians even bother to listen to all kinds of verbal threats? World peace is being threatened. It’s not only Israel. Israel is the first calling card. It’s the (so-called) moderate Arab states. It’s the Persian Gulf. It’s Saudi Arabia. It’s Europe. And eventually, it’s the United States and its relationship to the world.”

Walter referred to the June 2009 incident at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C., when anti-Semite James von Brunn shot and killed a security guard, and asked if there is growing anti-Semitism in the U.S. The United States is probably the least of all countries that suffer anti-Semitism, but we are not immune,” Foxman responded. We have measured attitudes in this country, and the attitude 40 years ago was that 30 percent of the American people were infected with anti-Semitism. Today we are about 12 to 14 percent. It’s an improvement, but that still means 30 or 40 million Americans are infected with the disease of anti-Semitism. Most people don’t act on it. What we saw at the Holocaust Museum are manifestations where there’s anger, there’s hatred that moves to the surface. So far what we’ve seen are lone wolves, people acting on their own. But, it’s there. The infection is there.

What the trigger is for these individuals who have harbored this bigotry, this prejudice, to act out violently, we don’t know. Whether it’s unemployment, whether it’s blaming the government, whether it’s because they’re angry because there’s an African-American president, we don’t know what it is. But, it may trigger and therefore we are a lot more concerned about the safety of synagogues and Jewish institutions than we have been in a long time. Foxman also said the greatest threat to freedom, to democracy, to our values, is fundamentalist, extremist Islam.




Posted by Jerome S. Kaufman at 03:46 PM | Comments (0)

February 14, 2010

Exactly what happened to Barack Obama?

As Predictable As Clockwork

By VICTOR DAVIS HANSON, (Political analyst extraordinaire)
The Jewish Press, February 5, 2010

I think we could see what was coming. This presidency has about as much subtlety in plot as a grade-B western, soap opera or teenage tantrum. A lackluster McCain candidacy, the September 2008 meltdown, weariness with eight years of Bush incumbency, conservative anger over spending, liberal furor over Iraq, a toady media, and Republican congressional corruption all led to a 50/50 electorate that was open to being mesmerized by Obama’s rhetoric and the dream of the nation’s first African-American president.

With congressional majorities, a compliant press, soaring public support, a soon-to-be President Obama was convinced, as he had been convinced by his success in the Ivy League, in Chicago, and in the Senate that he had a left-wing mandate. He believed he could hope and change his way to almost anything he wanted, despite the thin record, self-contradictions, constant inconsistencies and general confusion.

The hard left was salivating that at last it had an effective delivery system that could usher in a long awaited European-style socialism. Therefore, what followed was predictable: In his hubris, Obama cast off the campaign mask of moderation. Thick and fast came proposals for state-run healthcare, government takeovers, talk of nationalizing the student loan program, bailouts, mega-deficits, more, borrowing as stimulus, multicultural mea culpas abroad, loony symbolic appointments, and promiscuous talk of higher income, payroll, inheritance, and healthcare taxes, but only on “them.”

In other words, we saw in a trendy, cool form the age-old attempt to institutionalize equality of result, as freedom and liberty give way to mandated egalitarianism and fraternity. But wait — two thorny problems arose. The country is not quite yet left wing, but voted for Obama for the perfect-storm reasons outlined above. Anyone who had read the history of America could see that it was always a different sort of place than France, Germany, or Sweden — and will be, at least for a while longer.

So to ram down a left-wing agenda, the thespian Obama would have to continue his role as the bipartisan healer, centrist, reformer, purple-state uniter, trans-racial unifier, etc. But, alas, old habits die hard and the public soon began, here and there, to get glimpses of the old reality behind the new mask.

The wages of years with Rev. Wright and Bill Ayers, the easy path through the Ivy League, the Axelrod-at-our throat politics and the snow job that had wowed deans, philanthropists and suburbanites all reappeared. Even as Obama sought to convince the farmer, plumber and insurance agent to accept state healthcare, a landscape of windmills and a EU-foreign policy, he slipped back into his old self. Thus, we got Van Jones and his racist, 9/11 truther bombast. Anita Dunn praised Mao. Commissars at the NEA boasted of the new Caesar.

The Professor Henry Gates incident prompted the president to trash the police first and get the facts second. Creditors were politically rescheduled for bailed-out businesses. The president thoughtlessly weighed in on everything from the Special Olympics and the tea party movement to Fox News and America’s purported sins. Suddenly we were no longer exceptional, but the Muslim world in fact had-jump-started the Renaissance and Enlightenment. The old bad guys — Ahmadinejad, Assad, Castro, Chavez and Putin — earned new, kind talk; the prior U.S. president was reduced to satanic status.

Conservatives are in a “I told you so mood” as the 2008 talk-radio bombast about Bill Ayers, Rev. Wright, “re-distributive” spread the wealth, European socialism, etc., turned out not to be bombast at all. Moderates and independents sigh, “I can’t believe this is happening to me; he seemed just like Clinton with all that balanced budget talk, balanced energy policy, and mainstream help-the-little-guy talk. What happened to the Barack we trusted?” Liberals wonder, “Why is the coolest guy around suddenly flubbing every opportunity to get our agenda passed?” The hard left laments, “This guy is a triangulator who gave us a nibble, then pulled away the bone.”

His supporters counter: “See, he is a pragmatist and centrist who alienates the extremes.” No, No, No. He alienates them, but now the middle as well. What keeps his approval ratings in the forties is only the idea that the American people cannot quite yet accept a failed presidency after a mere 12 months — a presidency in which they had invested such hopes after the poll-crashing of Bush’s final two years.

Finger pointing and blame-gaming have begun because no one can properly address the real and only problem: Obama has had no previous identity or independent ideology. By osmosis (rather than by careful study or lifelong experience) he absorb the trendy left-wing cant that variously manifested itself wherever he traveled, from the Occidental lounge dorm to the Ivy League salon groupthink to Chicago organizing to Rev. Wright’s pulpit to the liberal caucuses of the U.S. Senate.

For a while, it was all as easy as sonorously thundering “hope and change. He never before had to articulate his leftism in any real detail, defend it, debate it, or analyze it. Now as his polls dip, we hear instead gripes over tactics, not the essence of the problem, which is the absence of an identity confidently and honestly expressed. So we get nonsense: “He’s too detached and cool.” He outsourced his agenda to the polarizing, corrupt and inept Reid/Pelosi wing.” “He surrounded himself with one too many shady Chicago polls.” “He took on too much all at once.”

What’s next? We can predict it in our sleep. He will continue the “let me be perfectly clear,” “fat-cat banker” talk to his base, do his selected-audience hope and change rants while trying to do a move-to-the-center light. Oh yes - a commission to balance the budget - sorta. Tough talk abroad — kinda. Health-care reform we can all agree on - maybe.

In the past, every time Obama has been in a jam, two things followed. He first threw under the bus perceived liabilities (yesterday’s Rev. Wright and grandmother will be this year’s Rahm Emanuel, Timothy Geithner and Janet Napolitano). Second, he adopted bipartisan “there is only one America” rhetoric. Yes, soon we can expect to hear of American exceptionalism, and a thing called “the war on terror,” and deficits that must be paid back and “working across the aisle.”

I doubt we’ll get genuine effort at balancing the budget, keeping businesses competitive, cutting waste, restoring American alliances, securing borders, centrist appointments, real bipartisanship, or a simplified tax system.

Instead, we’ve gone from the idealistic-sounding, centrist candidate Obama, to the Carter McGovern President Obama, to the wannabe Clinton triangulator. The only constant is no real identity, no firm belief, no core convictions from which to make the argument that his left-wing vision is good for the country. Obama never had to make that argument. Left-wing dogma was always a state religion in his circles and once Obama the nightingale started his song, few of the hypnotized worried about the inane message that followed. Being president is all so... so unfair!

Victor Davis Hanson is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution and the author of numerous works on military history.

Posted by Jerome S. Kaufman at 12:36 AM | Comments (0)

February 11, 2010

Deliberate lies re: Israel and the Middle East

Redacted from FLAME - Logics and Facts About the Middle East

In a previous installment in this series of clarifying messages about Israel and the Middle East, we examined certain myths which, by dint of constant repetition, had acquired currency and acceptance. We looked at the myth of “Palestinian nationhood,” the myth of Judea/Samara (the “West Bank”) being “occupied territory,” the myth that Jewish settlements in these territories are “the greatest obstacle to peace,” and the myth that Israel is unwilling to “yield land for peace.” In addition, we cleared up the greatest myth of all - namely that Israel’s administration of the territories and not the unrelenting hatred of the Arabs against the Jews is the root cause of the conflict between the Arabs and Israel. But, those are not all the myths; there are more.

What are more of these myths?

• Myth: The Arabs of Israel are a persecuted minority.
Reality: The over one million non-Jews (mostly Arabs) who are citizens of Israel have the same civil rights that Jews have. They vote, are members of the Knesset (parliament) and are part of Israel’s civil and diplomatic service, just as their Jewish fellow citizens. Arabs have complete religious freedom and full access to the Israeli legal, health and educational systems — including Arabic and Muslim universities. The only difference between the “rights” of Arabs and Jews is that Jewish young men must serve three years in the military and at least one month a year until age 50. Young Jewish women serve for two years. The Arabs have no such civic obligation. For them, military service is voluntary. Not too surprisingly, except for the Druze, very few avail themselves of the privilege.

• Myth: Having (ill-advisedly) already given up control of the Gaza Strip, Israel should also give up the administration of Judea/Samaria (the “West Bank”) because strategic depth is meaningless in this age of missiles.
Reality: Israel is a mini-state about half the size of San Bernardino County in California. If another, even smaller mini-state were carved out of it, Israel would be totally indefensible. That is the professional opinion of 100 retired U.S. generals and admirals. If the Arabs were to occupy whatever little strategic depth Israel has between the Jordan River and its populated coast, they would not need any missiles. Artillery and mortars would suffice, since Israel would be only nine miles wide at its waist. Those who urge such a course either do not understand the situation or have a death wish for Israel.

• Myth: If Israel would allow a Palestinian state to arise in Judea and Samaria it would be a democratic state and would be totally demilitarized.
Reality: There is no prospect at all that anything resembling a democratic state could be created in the territories. There is not a single democratic Arab state — all of them are tyrannies of varying degrees. Even today, under partial Israeli administration, Hamas and other factions fight for supremacy and ruthlessly murder each other. Another Lebanon, with its incessant civil wars, is much more likely. The lawlessness and chaos that prevail in Gaza since Israel’s withdrawal is a good prospect of what would happen if Israel — foolishly and under the pressure of “world opinion” — were to abandon this territory.

As for demilitarization, that is totally unlikely. Because — with Syria, Iraq, Jordan and Saudi Arabia, most of which are in a declared state of war with Israel, at its borders — an irresistible power vacuum would be created. Despite pious promises, the arms merchants of the world would find a great new market and the neighboring hostile Arab countries would be happy to supply anything else that might be needed.

Myth: Israel should make “confidence-building gestures” for the sake of peace.
Reality: What really is it that the world expects Israel to do for the sake of peace? Most of the 22 Arab countries consider themselves in a state of war with Israel and don’t even recognize its “existence.” That has been going on for over sixty years. Isn’t it about time that the Arabs made some kind of a “gesture?” Could they not for instance terminate the constant state of war? Could they not stop launching rockets into Israel from areas that Israel has abandoned for the sake of peace? Could they not stop the suicide bombings, which have killed hundreds of Israelis and which have made extreme security measures — such as the defensive fence and convoluted bypass roads — necessary? Any of these would create a climate of peace and would indeed be the “confidence-building gestures” that the world hopes for.

Countless “peace conferences” to settle this festering conflict have taken place. All have ended in failure because of the intransigence of the Arabs. President Clinton, toward the end of his presidency, convened a conference with the late unlamented Yasser Arafat and Ehud Barak, the prime minister of Israel at that time. Mr. Barak offered virtually everything that Arafat had requested, except the partition of Jerusalem and the acceptance of the so-called refugees, their descendants having swollen from the 650,000 who fled the nascent state of Israel during the War of Liberation, to an incredible 5 million. Arafat left in a huff and started his infamous Intifada instead, a bloody war that has cost thousands of Palestinian and Israeli lives. Israel is America’s staunchest ally and certainly its only true friend in that area of the world. It is in our national interest that reality, not myths, governs our policy.

FLAME
Facts and Logic About the Middle East
P.O. Box 590359 San Francisco, CA 94159
Gerardo Joffe, President

Posted by Jerome S. Kaufman at 07:39 PM | Comments (0)

February 08, 2010

Political Correctness run amok in US Armed Forces

BY BILL GERTZ

THE WASHINGTON TIMES
January 25, 2010

Senior Pentagon officials two weeks ago sought to play down or sidestep questions about why Army supervisors and FBI counter-terrorism officials missed warning signs or failed to take action against Army Maj. Nidal Hasan before the Nov. 5 attack, which killed 13 people — all but one them soldiers.

Patrick S. Poole, a counter-terrorism consultant to government and law enforcement, said the Pentagon report did not address the problem of political correctness in the military “that allowed for Maj. Hasan’s continued rise despite his poor performance?’ Mt Poole said an “atmosphere of intimidation” exists in the military regarding Islamist threats that “prevented any substantive complaints to [Maj. Hasan’s} increasingly extremist islamic islamist statements?’ “Everyone along the way was content to give him a pass." Mr. Poole said.

Former Army Secretary Togo D. West Jr., who co-led a Pentagon review of the shooting, dismissed concerns that Maj. Hasan’s religion was a factor in performance reviews and other incidents during his career as an Army medical counselor. When asked whether the immediate problem at Fort Hood was Islamist radicalization, Mr. West declined to single out Islamists. “Our concern is not with the religion’ he told reporters at the Pentagon. “It is with the potential effect on our soldiers’ ability to do their job.” Mr. West said “radicalization of any sort” is the issue and that “our concern is with actions and effects, not necessarily with motivations.”

Adm. Vernon E. Clark, a former chief of naval operations and the investigation’s other co-leader, declined to answer when asked whether political correctness led to the Army security failures. He suggested that the matter is addressed in a secret annex to the report that he and Mr. West helped produce. A Pentagon spokesman declined to comment on whether political correctness contributed to the security lapse. The Pentagon’s review, made public Jan. 15, blamed a series of failUres within the military for preventing Maj. Hasan from being identified as a threat despite having sent e-mails to an al Qaeda cleric in Yemen months before the shootings.

The review concluded that the Army is ill-equipped to deal with “insider” threats. Mr. West and Mt Clark said several Army officers appear to have been negligent in assessing Maj. Hasan in
personnel reviews and other incidents during his career and likely will be punished.

The public version of the report, “Protecting the Force: Lessons from Fort Hood;’ makes no mention of Islamist extremism, and refers to the internal security threat posed by unspecified
“external influences” on troops. An appendix to the report on risk factors appears to play down the Islamist threat by stating that “religious fundamentalism alone is not a risk factor; most fundamentalist groups are not violent, and religious-based violence is not confined to members of fundamentalist groups?’

Dr. Zuhdi Jasser, a former military medical doctor, said political correctness is a major problem for the military and the government as a whole in dealing with Islamism. “The culture in the military and the U.S. government is that you just don’t touch religion” said Dr. Jasser, president of the Phoenix-based American Islamic Forum fur Democracy. As a result, the military is ill-equipped to deal with the threat posed by radicalized Muslims, he said in an interview.

Steven Emerson, executive director of the Investigative Project on Terrorism, said the military’s failure to understand the problem of radical Islamism is the reason the Fort Hood shootings were not prevented. “The military is still mired in this murderous political correctness;’ Mt Emerson said, adding that religion, contrary to what Mt West said, is “every part of the problem” in the shootings. ‘Hassans jihadist beliefs were that infidels should be killed in the military,”

Mr.filter Emerson said. Mr. Emerson said the neglect of Islamist extremism “stands in sharp contrast to the military’s decision to weed out white supremacists a few years back at Fort Bragg by throwing out any serviceman who supported the Ku Klux Klan?’

Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates told reporters Jan. 15 that the review uncovered shortcomings in defending against external influences on the military.
“It is clear that as a department, we have not done enough to adapt to the evolving domestic internal security threat to American troops and military facilities that has emerged over the past decade,” he said.

Dr. Jasser said he fears that the Army will use several officers as Fort Hood “scapegoats” although they were never provided the training and directives needed to identity~’ those prone to conducting terrorist attacks. “We need to begin a national conversation on what is fueling terrorists and that terrorism is simply a symptom of those who mix religion with a global political goal of creating an Islamic state" he said. “Until we address that, we’re going to see people who are threats fall through the filter?’


Posted by Jerome S. Kaufman at 06:04 PM | Comments (0)

February 06, 2010

Tone-deaf on terrorism

By Richard Cohen

Palm Beach Post
February 5, 2010

There is almost nothing the Obama administration does regarding terrorism that makes me feel safer. Whether it is guaranteeing captured terrorists that they will not be water boarded, or whether it is reciting terrorists their rights; or whether it is the legally meandering and confusing rule that some terrorists will be tried in military tribunals and some in civilian courts. What is missing is a firm recognition that what comes first is not the message sent to America’s critics but the message sent to Americans themselves. When, oh when, will this administration wake up?

Bit by bit, circumstances are forcing President Obama and his aides to come to grips with reality The original plan to try Khalid Sheik Mohammed, the so-called 9/11 mastermind, in New York apparently has been aborted. It finally occurred to the Justice Department that cordoning off much of Lower Manhattan and placing a security perimeter around the financial district not only would cost something like $200 million a year, but also would destroy the economy of the area. A trial there would give KSM, as he is called, a second shot at devastating downtown New York.

It is amazing that no one thought this through. Published reports say that the Justice Department informed Mayor Michael Bloomberg of its plan just about the time it was announced. This alacrity was clearly the product of some excitement down at Justice as yet another chance to show the world that George W. Bush was gone and with him, the odious attempt to treat terrorists as if they were well, terrorists! A civilian trial! Right in the heart of Manhattan! Mr. Obama ought to ask his friend Attorney General Eric Holder what in the world he was thinking just as we might ask Mt Obama why he has such faith in Mr. Holder’s judgment.

In a similar example of poor judgment, an undoubtedly delighted Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab was told he had something called Miranda rights and could, if he so chose, cease talking about allegedly attempting to blow up a jetliner as it approached Detroit on Christmas Day. Abdulmutallab was Mirandized after just 50 total minutes of interrogation and he, having probably seen more than his share of Law & Order episodes, promptly shut up.

Administration officials defend what happened in Detroit and assert, against common sense and the holy truth itself, that they got valuable intelligence — and so what more would you want? But Abdulmutallab went silent before terrorism experts from Washington could get to him. It has been more than a month since he last opened his mouth, and even if he resumed cooperating — a deal may be in the works — he now knows just a bit more about the present-day location of various Al-Qaeda operatives than does Regis Philbin.

KSM, Abdulmutallab and other accused terrorists should be tried. But, these two are not Americans in any sense of the word and they are accused of terrorism, tantamount to an act of war—a virtual Pearl Harbor, in KSM’s case. A military tribunal would fit them fine. If it is good enough for your average GI accused of murder or some such thing, it ought to be good enough for a foreign national with mass murder on his mind.

No doubt, George Bush soiled America’s image with what looked liked vigilante justice and Dick Cheney’s hearty endorsement of ugly interrogation measures. But more is at stake here than our image abroad — namely the security and peace of mind of Americans in America. Mr. Bush stands condemned by the facts for 9/11 — his watch, his responsibility — and in all likelihood, he bent over backward to ensure that nothing like those attacks would happen again.

The Obama administration, on the other hand, seems to have bent over backward to prove to the world that it is not the Bush administration and will, almost no matter what, ensure that everyone gets the benefit of American civil liberties. But, the paramount civil liberty is a sense of security and this, sad to say, has eroded under Barack Obama. Repeatedly, the administration has shown poor judgment. Abdulmutallab’s silence is a scream that something is wrong.

Richard Cohen is a columnist for The Washington Post. His e-mail address is cohenr@washpost.com

Posted by Jerome S. Kaufman at 07:28 PM | Comments (0)

February 04, 2010

Historical Revisionism via Barack Obama

(As Chronic Duplicity Continues Unabated) jsk

From the Editor, William Kristol

The Weekly Standard, February 1, 2010

In an interview with Time’s Joe Klein last week, President Obama endorsed a mythical version of the early days of his own administration:

“I came in expressing a strong spirit of bipartisanship, and what was clear was that even in the midst of crisis, there were those who made decisions based on a quick political calculus rather than on what the country needed. The classic example being me heading over to meet with the House Republican caucus to discuss the stimulus and finding out that [House minority leader John] Boehner had already released a statement saying, We’re going to vote against the bill before we’ve even had a chance to exchange ideas.”

We’ve heard this story before, many times, from Robert Gibbs - the Obama flack. But, it’s phony, as Obama himself must know. What really happened is this: Obama spoke to the House Republican conference on the morning of January 27, 2009. The night before, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi had already introduced the stimulus bill that she and David Obey drafted with no input from Republicans at all. It was a totally partisan bill.

House Minority Leader Boehner didn’t put out a statement, but what he told Republicans leaked. What he said was that Republicans would oppose this bill, and he said Obama should override it and work with Republicans on a bipartisan stimulus. Republicans weren’t opposing an Obama bill. They were opposing a partisan bill drafted by House Democrats (which Obama embraced soon afterwards).

When Obama spoke to the Republican conference, he was given a list of Republican ideas for the stimulus. After that meeting, Congressman Eric Cantor put out a statement saying this:

“This is the third time we have met with President Obama and we appreciate his openness to Republican solutions. Unfortunately, Congressional Democrats have not shown the same willingness for bipartisan compromise and that is reflected in their bill, which they will force a vote on tomorrow. Indeed, the House voted the next day, January 28,2010 for the stimulus bill that Republicans had played no part in drafting. All House Republicans voted no.

Obama is right about one thing: There were those who made decisions based on a quick political calculus. But, they were in his White House and his party. And, they continue to pay a price at the polls for their high-handedness.

Posted by Jerome S. Kaufman at 08:42 PM | Comments (0)

February 02, 2010

Attributes of a real American President

Harry Truman was a different kind of President. He probably made as many, or more important decisions regarding our nation's history as any of the other 42 Presidents preceding him. However, a measure of his greatness may rest on what he did after he left the White House.

The only asset he had when he died was the house he lived in, which was in Independence Missouri. His wife had inherited the house from her mother and father and other than their years in the White House, they lived their entire lives there.

When he retired from office in 1952, his income was a U.S. Army pension reported to have been $13,507.72 a year. Congress, noting that he was paying for his stamps and personally licking them, granted him an 'allowance' and, later, a retroactive pension of $25,000 per year.

After President Eisenhower was inaugurated, Harry and Bess drove home to Missouri by themselves. There was no Secret Service following them. When offered corporate positions at large salaries, he declined, stating, "You don't want me. You want the office of the President, and that doesn’t belong to me. It belongs to the American people and it's not for sale."

Even later, on May 6, 1971, when Congress was preparing to award him the Medal of Honor on his 87th birthday, he refused to accept it, writing, "I don’t consider that I have done anything which should be the reason for any award, Congressional or otherwise." As president, he paid for all of his own travel expenses and food.

Modern politicians have found a new level of success in cashing in on the Presidency, resulting in untold wealth. Today, many in Congress also have found a way to become quite wealthy while enjoying the fruits of their offices. Political offices are now for sale. (Sic. Illinois)

Good old Harry Truman was correct when he observed, "My choices in life were either to be a piano player in a whore house or a politician. And to tell the truth, there’s hardly any difference!

I say dig him up and clone him!!

Author unknown


Posted by Jerome S. Kaufman at 06:11 PM | Comments (0)