August 31, 2010

WHO DARES NOT ALLOW JEWS TO BUILD IN THEIR FINALLY REGAINED BIBLICAL HOMELAND?

ZIONIST ORG. OF AMERICA TO P.M. NETANYAHU:
AFTER TEN MONTH FREEZE, END HARDSHIP TO JEWS AND ALLOW BUILDING AS YOU PROMISED

(Not to mention the promise of a far greater power than you or any of the other negotiators) jsk
 
The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) is urging the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu not to accede to international and U.S. pressure, for a continuation of the 10-month freeze on Jewish construction in Judea and Samaria which the Netanyahu government imposed in November 2009. The 10-month freeze, which is due to end on September 26, was adopted by the Israeli government after Prime Minister Netanyahu pleaded with the Knesset, the Cabinet and the Israeli people, including the Jews living in Judea and Samaria,  to accept it as an exceptional, temporary measure, after which construction would immediately resume.

The freeze has produced no pro-peace actions from the Palestinians. They haven’t arrested terrorists, outlawed terrorist groups and ended the incitement to hatred and murder against Jews that suffuses the PA-controlled media, mosques, schools and youth camps. The PA not only has not fulfilled its commitments, it glorifies terrorists and violence.

Only in the past week, Mahmoud Abbas praised Amin Al-Hindi one of the senior planners of 1972 Munich Olympics terrorist operation, Abbas, PA prime minister Salam Fayyad and other high PA officials attended al-Hindi’s military-style funeral, and the PA official newspaper described him as “one of the stars who sparkled ... at the sports stadium in Munich.”
 
Moreover, it is absurd extending the freeze in order to facilitate negotiations with a non-peaceful interlocutor – the PA – when the PA does not even control the people and territory in question. At present, Gaza, which comprises 40% of Palestinian Arabs, is under the rule of Hamas terrorists, with their genocidal program, enunciated in their Charter, of destroying Israel and murdering Jews. Cross-border raids and rocket assaults upon Israel from Gaza would continue, regardless of any agreement that might be signed. Thus, not only is there a lack of peace and security in Gaza, but there is not even a single Palestinian governing authority or entity with which to negotiate.
 
The construction freeze not only prevents Jewish communities from growing and flourishing within already defined boundaries, as they have every right to do. It also involves extraordinary hardship: telling Israeli families that they may not add a room to their house or a floor to an apartment, or build schools in their communities, means that people must pick up and leave their homes and that children have to move from their communities and families to seek employment and housing elsewhere.

ZOA National President Morton A. Klein said, “The ZOA upholds the view that even if there were a sound moral or strategic reason for Israel to bar Jews, and only Jews, from building homes and enlarging their communities in Judea and Samaria, the biblical, legal and historic heartland of the Jewish people. The PA has done nothing since the construction freeze was instituted to justify any Israeli concession. The PA only made it an issue after the Obama Administration came to office and publicly demanded that Israel institute such a freeze. The truth, of course, is that the Arabs do not want a state alongside Israel – they want Israel’s destruction and therefore have refused every generous peace deal.
 
“Rarely do moral, legal and strategic arguments coincide so fully. Israel should not renew the construction freeze. The Obama Administration should not pressure Israel to extend the construction freeze which has been prejudicial of Jewish rights, unhelpful in creating the conditions for peace, harmed Israel strategically and encouraged the PA to make no concessions or reforms for peace by arresting terrorists and ending incitement. This freeze doesn’t bring peace – accepting Israel right to exist as a Jewish state, arresting terrorists and ending incitement does.

President Obama should be pressuring the Palestinian Arabs to fulfill these obligations which can bring peace, not pressure Israel to continue the construction freeze, which will only make the Palestinian Arabs more intransigent and therefore impede peace.”
 
 

Posted by Jerome S. Kaufman at 12:42 PM | Comments (0)

August 29, 2010

Obama@70/30?

BY FRED BARNES, Executive Editor

The Weekly Standard August 30 - September 6, 2010

Recovery summer, opposition to Arizona’s immigration law, negative campaigning, and intervention in the Ground Zero mosque dispute—call them Obama’s Four Disasters. As policy, they’re questionable. As political exercises, they’re losers. As clues about Obama, they’re evidence he’s lost his political knack.

What was Obama thinking? These weren’t initiatives taken suddenly. They were carefully thought out and plotted, no doubt in expectation the president would gain politically and so would Democratic candidates. Whatever calculations the White House made, they were faulty.

Recovery summer. This was proclaimed in June, with fanfare, in a briefing by Vice President Biden and the issuance of a report titled “Summer of Recovery: Project Activity Increases in Summer 2010.” The report said “millions of Americans [are] on the job today thanks to the Recovery Act”—better known as the “stimulus package”—but its work is not done. “Summer 2010 is actually poised to be the most active Recovery Act season yet.”

Not quite. Obama, Biden, and company should have known better. It’s true there were indicators the economy would grow and hiring by private firms would increase. But anyone who traveled outside Washington would quickly discover that slow growth and minimal hiring were at least as likely to occur. And they have. The economy has hit the brakes, the stock market is stagnant, the jobs picture has -worsened, unemployment claims are up, and the notion of a summer of recovery has become an embarrassment.

If there were even a glimmer of doubt about a summertime boom, you wouldn’t want to put a chronic exaggerator like Biden out front. He tends to gush uncontrollably. The stimulus will cause “even more ripple effects” than ever this summer, he declared. And more jobs means a lot more lunch breaks at the local diner because there weren’t any lunch breaks, there weren’t the jobs that existed; and a lot more trips to the barbershop, to the movies, to the department store, helping those businesses they go to maintain their employment base and increase the employment base. Sounds nice. Too bad it hasn’t happened.

Opposition to the Arizona immigration law. This is what’s known as a 70-30 issue. Obama has taken the 30 percent position, which puts him athwart the vast majority of Americans. The White House said the decision to file suit against the Arizona law was made by Attorney General Eric Holder. But Holder works for Obama, who could have told him to back off.

There are several reasons this would have made sense. The law was not likely to have prompted a wave of profiling of Hispanics. It was (and is) popular in Arizona, and the more folks around the country heard about it, the more they liked it (and still do). 
It also would’ve bolstered Obama’s drive for immigration reform. The president favors the comprehensive approach, which includes amnesty for the 12 million illegal immigrants in the country!
Given the politics of the issue, the only way to get what Obama wants is by first stepping up enforcement of immigration laws. Instead he opted for nullifying a popular enforcement statute.

Negative campaigning. Obama’s great gift as a politician is the ability to rise above the normal pushing, shoving, and name-calling of politics and appear statesmanlike. He’s derided these days by Republicans for his rhetoric in 2008 about hope and change, ending polarization, and changing the way Washington does business. But it’s what elected him. Now he’s abandoned it. In his current stump speech, he does two things. He talks about “a lot of things I’m very proud of that we’ve done over the last two years,” including health care reform. And he attacks Republicans for “constant, nonstop opposition on everything.” Guess which one the media devours. His criticism of Republicans is not limited to political appearances. He’s begun attacking them in his Saturday radio address from the White House. This is both unappealing and unpresidential.

Obama has fallen in love with an analogy about Republicans driving a car—a metaphor for the economy—into a ditch and asking for the keys back now that Obama has pulled it out. It’s not particularly clever, but he dwells on it. “It has since become the Mr. Potato Head of campaign stump speech metaphors,” wrote Carol E. Lee of Politico. “The president keeps expanding on it.” That’s not a compliment.

The Ground Zero mosque. This is another 70-30 issue, and Obama is again in the minority. We know his decision to defend the plan of Muslims to build a mosque near Ground Zero wasn’t a spur of the moment thing. He put out a prepared text of his speech on this subject before it was delivered to a group of Muslims at a Ramadan event at the White House. He backtracked the next day.

Until then, he’d wisely stayed out of the controversy, his press secretary dismissing it as a “local issue.” There was nothing to be gained and a lot to lose by jumping in. Yet he couldn’t resist holding forth, just as he couldn’t when his pal Skip Gates was arrested. Obama is not one to hold his tongue, no matter what the subject. He once again took the position of the elites against that of most Americans.

The contrast between the political adroitness of Obama as a presidential candidate and Obama as president is striking. His campaign was nearly error-free. As president, he’s made a string of unforced errors. He’s lost his touch, and chances are it won’t come back.
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Posted by Jerome S. Kaufman at 03:35 PM | Comments (0)

August 27, 2010

FROM REPRESENTATIVE ILEANA ROS-LEHTINEN, 18TH DISTRICT, FLORIDA, RANKING MEMBER COMMITTEE ON FOREIGN AFFAIRS

Is your representative doing this kind of work for Israel? If not, why continue to vote for him or her in the November election?

Dear Pro-Israel Friends:

I am writing to share with you some of my recent efforts to stop the threat posed to the U.S. and Israel by the Iranian and Syrian regime and the violent extremist groups they sponsor, like Hamas and Hezbollah; to combat anti-Semitic and anti-Israel efforts at the United Nations and elsewhere; and to support Israel's right to self-defense and to exist as a democratic, Jewish State.

As Ranking Member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, I will continue to fight to preserve and strengthen the U.S.-Israel alliance and to support Israel in our shared pursuit of security, peace, and freedom. Addressing the Iranian and Syrian Threats: The Iranian and Syrian regime has continued to demonstrate increasingly aggressive behavior and rhetoric against the United States, Israel, and the Jewish people.

In February, the International Atomic Energy Agency stated that Iran has amassed enough uranium for a breakout nuclear weapons capability. Meanwhile, Syria continues to follow in Iran's footsteps, reportedly providing long-range missiles and other assistance to Hezbollah, while continuing to cover-up evidence of its alleged secret nuclear program. To stop the Iranian and Syrian threats:

• I was the lead co-sponsor of the Comprehensive Iran Sanctions, Accountability, and Divestment Act, which was signed into law on July 1, 2010. It strengthens and expands US sanctions on Iran,Targeting targeting Iran's greatest vulnerabilities: Its energy sector and its dependence on importing refined petroleum. It also authorizes sanctions on Iranian officials responsible for human rights abuses.

• I have also introduced the Security through Termination of Proliferation (STOP) Act (H.R. 485). It states that existing U.S, sanctions with respect to Iran. North Korea and Syria shall remain until the President certifies that each regime has individually dismantled its weapons of mass destruction programs.

• I have also introduced the Iran Threat Reduction Act (H.R. 1208), which aims to address the comprehensive threat posed by Iran and specifically states that US sanctions with respect to Iran shall remain until the President certifies that Iran has verifiably dismantled its weapons of mass destruction programs and cease its support for international terrorism.

• I have also introduced the Syria Accountability and Liberation Act (H.R. 1206) to strengthen sanctions on Syria, especially its energy sector - its Achilles' Heel.

The United Nations continues trying to prevent Israel from defending itself against those who seek its destruction. The UN also fails to recognize the destructive actions of Israel's enemies. I have introduced H.R. 557, the United Nations Transparency, Accountability, and Reform Act, which conditions funding to include a provision to stop anti-Israel sentiment at the UN.

President Obama has authorized hundreds of millions of U.S. taxpayer dollars for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA). I have urged the President to cut off all aid until UNRWA is no longer politicized or infiltrated by Palestinian extremist groups and vets its staff and aid recipients through U.S. watch lists.

Thank you for your continued support. If you would like to receive e-mail updates on my legislative initiatives in Congress, please contact Sarah Gamino at sarah.gamino@mail.house.gov.

Sincerely,
Ileana Ros-Lehtinen
Member of Congress



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

August 26, 2010

Denigrating the "Peace Process"

Palestinian Authority Not taking Yes for an Answer. The History of Mahmoud Abbas

By Efraim Karsh
Jerusalem Post, August 24, 2010

No sooner had Hillary Clinton announced the imminent resumption of direct Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations without preconditions, than the Palestinian leadership cold shouldered the US secretary of state.

An emergency meeting of the PLO executive committee (which controls the Palestinian Authority), chaired by PA President Mahmoud Abbas, agreed to return to the negotiating table but threatened to pull out of the talks if Israel didn't extend the freeze on all settlement activities. "Should the Israeli government issue new tenders on September 26, we will not be able to continue with talks," chief PA negotiator Saeb Erekat told reporters.

But the story doesn't end here. While the English-language announcement of the PLO's decision sets "the emergence of an independent, democratic and viable Palestinian state living side by side in peace and security with Israel" as the outcome of the negotiations, the Arabic-language version makes no mention of the two-state solution. Instead it notes the Palestinian readiness to resume the final-status talks, adding a few new preconditions, notably the rejection of Israel's annexation of east Jerusalem.

And just there, no doubt, lies the heart of the problem. For while the PLO leadership, since the launch of the Oslo "peace" process in 1993, has been singing the praises of the two-state solution whenever addressing Israeli or Western audiences, it has consistently denigrated the idea to its own constituents - depicting the process as a transient arrangement required by the needs of the moment that would inexorably lead to the long-cherished goal of Israel's demise.

In this respect there has been no fundamental distinction between Yasser Arafat and Abbas (and, for that matter, between Hamas and the PLO). For all their admittedly sharp differences in personality and political style, the two are warp and woof of the same dogmatic PLO fabric: Neither of them accepts Israel's right to exist; both are committed to its eventual destruction.

IN ONE way, indeed, Abbas is more extreme than many of his peers. While they revert to standard talk of Israel's illegitimacy, he devoted years of his life to giving ideological firepower to the anti-Israel and anti-Jewish indictment.

In a doctoral dissertation written at a Soviet university, an expanded version of which was subsequently published in book form, Abbas endeavored to prove the existence of a close ideological and political association between Zionism and Nazism. Among other things, he argued that fewer than a million Jews had been killed in the Holocaust, and that the Zionist movement was a partner to their slaughter.

In the wake of the failed Camp David summit of July 2000 and the launch of Arafat's war of terror two months later, Abbas went to great lengths to explain why the "right of return" – the standard Arab euphemism for Israel's destruction through demographic subversion – was a nonnegotiable prerequisite for any settlement. Two years later, he described the Oslo process as "the biggest mistake Israel has ever made," enabling the PLO to get worldwide acceptance and respectability while clinging to its own aims.

Shortly after Arafat's death in November 2004, Abbas publicly swore to "follow in the path of the late leader Yasser Arafat and... work toward fulfilling his dream... We promise you that our hearts will not rest until the right of return for our people is achieved and the tragedy of the refugees is ended." Abbas made good his pledge. In a televised speech on May 15, 2005, he described the establishment of Israel as an unprecedented historic injustice and vowed never to accept it.

Two-and-a-half years later, at a US-sponsored peace conference in Annapolis, he rejected prime minister Ehud Olmert's proposal of a Palestinian state in 97 percent of the West Bank and the entire Gaza Strip, and categorically dismissed the request to recognize Israel as a Jewish state alongside the would-be Palestinian state, insisting instead on full implementation of the "right of return."

He was equally recalcitrant when the demand was raised (in April 2009) by newly-elected Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu. "A Jewish state, what is that supposed to mean?" Abbas asked in a speech in Ramallah. "You can call yourselves as you like, but I don't accept it and I say so publicly."

When in June 2009 Netanyahu broke with longstanding Likud precept by publicly accepting a two state solution and agreeing to the establishment of a Palestinian state, provided the PA leadership responded in kind and recognized Israel's Jewish nature, Erekat warned that the prime minister "will have to wait 1,000 years before he finds one Palestinian who will go along with him."

Fatah, the PLO's largest constituent organization and Abbas's alma mater, went a step further. At its sixth general congress, convened in Bethlehem last August, the delegates reaffirmed their long-standing commitment to "armed struggle" as "a strategy, not a tactic... This struggle will not stop until the Zionist entity is eliminated and Palestine is liberated."

And so it goes. Precisely 10 years after Arafat was dragged kicking and screaming to the American-convened peace summit in Camp David, only to reject Ehud Barak's virtual cession of the West Bank and Gaza Strip to the nascent Palestinian state and to launch an unprecedented war of terror, his erstwhile successor is being dragged to the negotiating table, which he would rather continue to shun after a year-and- a-half absence.

Not because of the unconstitutionality of any agreement he might sign (owing to the expiry of his presidency in January 2009), or his inability to deliver anything that is not to Hamas's liking, but because, like Arafat and the rest of the PLO leadership, as far as Israel's existence is concerned, Abbas would not take a yes for an answer.

The writer is professor of Middle East and Mediterranean studies at King's College London, editor of Middle East Quarterly and author, most recently, of Palestine Betrayed.

Published by The Middle East Forum

Posted by Jerome S. Kaufman at 04:23 AM | Comments (0)

August 24, 2010

Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) on impending Arab-Israeli Peace Talks

The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) believes that Israeli-Palestinian direct negotiations, due to commence on September 2, under the auspices of the Obama Administration, has virtually no chance of success without at a minimum there being a single Palestinian entity capable of speaking for Palestinian Arabs (presently, Fatah and Hamas control different Palestinian areas).

There must be an end to the failure to arrest terrorists and outlaw terrorist groups; an end to the honoring of killers of Jews by naming schools, streets and sports teams after them, an end to the promoting anti-Israel hatred and violence in the PA-controlled media, mosques, schools and youth camps, and an end to refusing to accept Israel as a Jewish state.
 
ZOA National President Morton A. Klein has issued the following statement: “The ZOA is deeply skeptical of these talks and we don’t believe they should be proceeding under current conditions as they have virtually no chance of success. “Consider: at present, Gaza, which comprises 40% of Palestinian Arabs, is under the rule of Hamas terrorists, with their genocidal program, enunciated in their Charter, of destroying Israel and murdering Jews. Thus, not only is there a lack of peace and security in Gaza, but there is not even a single Palestinian governing authority or entity with which to negotiate, even if the PA under Mahmoud Abbas and Salam Fayyad were angels.
 
“But, of course, they are very far from being angels. The PA is not fulfilling its Oslo-era signed commitments to arrest terrorists, outlaw terrorist groups, and end the incitement to anti-Semitic hatred and murder in the PA-controlled media, mosques, schools and youth camps that feed terror and bloodshed.
 
“Instead, in January of this year, when terrorists from Fatah's Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, a recognized terrorist group, murdered an Israeli, Rabbi Meir Chai, in a drive-by shooting, Abbas’ PA did not condemn the murder – but it did condemn the subsequent killing of the terrorists by Israel. Abbas himself sent condolences to the families of the three terrorists; PA prime minister Salam Fayyad even visited the terrorists' families. 
 
“The PA continues to broadcast obscene Islamist sermons like that from Nablus's Bourin Mosque on January 29, in which Jews were declared ‘the enemies of Allah and of His Messenger. Enemies of humanity in general’ and Muslims exhorted to murder them with the words ‘The Prophet says: “You shall fight the Jews and kill them.”’
 
“Last month, Abbas told Arab journalists in Jordan that, “If you [the Arab states] want war, and if all of you will fight Israel, we are in favor.” In July, he honored Muhammad Daoud Oudeh, (Abu Daoud), the mastermind of the 1972 Munich Olympics hostage-taking by Fatah terrorists of eleven Israeli athletes, calling him ‘a wonderful brother, companion, tough and stubborn, relentless fighter.’ Then, only weeks ago, a Palestine National Council member accused Israel and the U.S. of having poisoned Arafat.
 
“Again, in the last ten days, the PA obscenely and publicly celebrated the 1978 coastal road massacre carried out by Fatah terrorists led by Dalal Mughrabi, in which 37 Israelis, including a dozen children, were murdered. The PA has also named two youth summer camps in Muhrabi’s honor.
 
“What do all these examples of extremism, glorification of terror and advocacy of genocide have in common? – the Obama Administration ignores them all, praises Abbas and Fayyad as moderates, give them $1.3 billion in aid (double than that given by George W. Bush) and proceeds with a charade peace process. It ignores incitement, even when specifically informed of these events by the Israeli government.
  
“Furthermore, the ZOA believes it is likely that the Israeli government has agreed to the proposed talks only because of enormous pressure from the Obama Administration and the European governments. We also believe it has agreed to these talks because it fears that otherwise the world will blame Israel for the lack of peace.“Yet, agreeing to such talks could create a situation in which Israel will be unable to resist pressure to make concessions that could lead to more violence and insecurity.
 
“We agree with Washington Post columnist George F. Will when he says ‘Patronizing American lectures on the reality of risks and the desirableness of peace, which once were merely fatuous, are now obscene.’ Also, when he writes that ‘rhetoric about a “two-state solution” … is delusional.’ We also agree with Professor Yoram Peri, professor of Israel studies at the University of Maryland, when, speaking of Israel’s million strong Russian immigrant community, that they ‘don’t understand how a state that can be crossed in half an hour by car would be willing to even talk about relinquishing territories to its seemingly perpetual enemies.’ As George Will has noted, ‘These immigrants know that Russia’s strategic depth -- space -- defeated Napoleon and Hitler.’
 
“Likewise, we agree with Moshe Yaalon, Israel’s Strategic Affairs Minister and former Israel Defense Forces (IDF) Chief-of-Staff Lt.-Gen. Moshe Yaalon, who has said that “our withdrawals strengthened jihadist Islam … We have the second Islamic republic in the Middle East -- the first in Iran, the second in Gaza - "Hamastan."
 

Posted by Jerome S. Kaufman at 06:29 AM | Comments (0)

August 22, 2010

Obama’s Unique Form of ‘Christianity’

No Baptism Or Renunciation of Islam Required
By Madeline Brooks 
August 21, 2010

New questions arise lately concerning whether President Obama is a Muslim or a Christian, as Mr. Obama gave his partial support to the mosque at Ground Zero. We’ve all heard by now that Obama became a Christian mostly to expedite his political career and that the Trinity United Church of Christ he joined, presided over by Reverend Jonathan Wright, was not exactly mainstream. 

We’ve heard about Wright’s damning of America and we know that the church was – and might still be - a hot bed of black nationalism. But what is not as well known is that no baptism is required, nor must Muslims renounce Islam to be accepted as full members in that church.

On a tip from a pastor, I called the Trinity United Church back in February 2010 to ask about the requirements of membership.  The church receptionist transferred my call to the Director of Membership, who told me that baptism is optional and that Muslims who believe in the prophet Mohammed can be full members. In fact, she reassured me cheerfully, they have plenty of Muslim members.

Never mind that this is theologically impossible, except when one makes one’s own rules. The doctrines of Christianity and Islam are incompatible. Christianity believes that Jesus Christ is one with the Creator, through the doctrine of the Trinity, and that Jesus died on the cross in order to redeem humanity from its sins. Islam calls the Trinity ‘idolatry’ because it sees the Trinity’s three parts as separate entities – three distinct gods – instead of one divine being. Islam also denies Christianity’s claim that Jesus Christ died on the cross, or that he is the unique savior of humanity.

Baptism is central to Christian practices, both as a way to mark the convert’s entrance into a new life and as a washing away of sinful practices from the person’s past. The core of the new life as a Christian is a renunciation of other religious beliefs. The World Council of Churches is an umbrella organization for Protestant churches that represents about 550 million Christians throughout more than 120 countries. It has declared the centrality of baptism for a Christian, and notes that no matter how much churches may differ in other ways, the vast majority of churches agree on the importance of baptism. 

Why would a Muslim want to join a church that proclaimed these Christian beliefs? It would be a betrayal of his own convictions.  Besides, the word “Trinity” is in the name of the Trinity United Church of Christ, which should discourage a Muslim who thinks the Christian trinity is blasphemous. What’s going on here?

The Trinity United Church of Christ is affiliated with the mainline United Church of Christ which branched out of Congregationalism, and going back even further, that denomination had its roots in Puritanism.  All these connections are very traditional. The affirmation of faith of the parent organization, as found in their constitution begins with, “The United Church of Christ acknowledges as its sole Head, Jesus Christ, Son of God and Savior.” 

However, when the black pride movement burgeoned in Chicago during the 1960s at the time when Malcolm X made that city the headquarters for the Nation of Islam, the Trinity United Church of Christ appears to have made doctrinal adjustments to accommodate its constituents. They were African Americans who wanted a veneer of Christianity, which many of them had been raised with, to cover their newly acquired black nationalism and Nation of Islam inspired faith. 

At the same time, the church needed new members because church attendance was falling off. So a new syncretic religion was born, Muslim Christianity.  Never mind that it makes a mish mash of theology – in order to suit the emotional and cultural needs of the parishioners. Obama may have been telling the truth when he called himself a Christian, even though he has not apparently spent much time in any church since leaving the tutelage of Rev. Wright. 

But for the rest of us, there is confusion, a confusion that is sure to grow as not only the President but possibly many others influenced by him, take the side of Islamic political entities while still calling themselves ‘Christian.’

Posted by Jerome S. Kaufman at 03:48 PM | Comments (0)

August 20, 2010

A LICENSE REQUIRED FOR YOUR HOUSE VIA "CAP AND TRADE!"

If Congress strong arms this through they are placing yet another nail in America's coffin. Our government is totally out of control. Thinking about selling your house. Take a look at H.R. 2454. (Cap and Trade bill), that has passed the House of Representatives and being considered by the Senate. Home owners take note & tell your friends and relatives who are home owners!

Beginning one year after enactment of the Cap and Trade Act, you won't be able to sell your home unless you retrofit it to comply with the energy and water efficiency standards of this Act. H.R. 2454, the "Cap & Trade" bill will be the largest tax increase any of us has ever experienced. The Congressional Budget Office (supposedly non-partisan) estimates that in just a few years the average cost to every family of four will be $6,800 per year. No one is excluded. A year from now you won't be able to sell your house.

The caveat is, that if you have enough money to make required major upgrades to your home, then you can sell it. But, if not, then forget it. Even pre-fabricated homes ("mobile homes") are included. In effect, this bill prevents you from selling your home without the permission of the EPA administrator.

To get this permission, you will have to have the energy efficiency of your home measured. Cost $200 to start. Then the government will tell you what your new energy efficiency requirement is and you will be forced to make modifications to your home under the retrofit provisions of this Act to comply with the new energy and water efficiency requirements, which easily could cost over $50,000.

Then you will have to get your home measured again and get a license (called a "label" in the Act) that must be posted on your property to show what your efficiency rating is; sort of like the Energy Star efficiency rating label on your refrigerator or air conditioner. If you don't get a high enough rating, you can't sell.

And, the EPA administrator is authorized to raise the standards every year, even above the automatic energy efficiency increases built into the Act. The EPA administrator, appointed by President Obama, will run the Cap & Trade program  (AKA the "American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009") and is authorized to make any future changes to the regulations and standards he/she alone determines to be in the government's best interest. Requirements are set low initially so the bill will pass Congress; then the Administrator can set much tougher new standards every year.

The Act itself contains annual required increases in energy efficiency for private and commercial residences and buildings. However, the EPA administrator can set higher standards at any time.Sect. 202 Building Retrofit Program mandates a national retrofit program to increase the energy efficiency of all existing homes across America.

The label will be like a license for your car. You will be required to post the label in a conspicuous location in your home and will not be allowed to sell your home without having this label. And, just like your car license, you will probably be required to get a new label every so often - maybe every year.

The government estimates the cost of measuring the energy efficiency of your home should only cost about $200 each time. Remember what they said about the auto smog inspections when they first started: that in California it would only cost $15. That was when the program started. Now the cost is about $50 for the inspection and certificate; a 333% increase. Expect the same from the home labeling program.

CHECK OUT Just a few of the explanatory sites;

Cap and Trade: A License Required for your Home

http://www.nachi.org/forum/f14/cap-and-trade-license-required-your-home-44750/

HR2454 American Clean Energy & Security Act: http://www.govtrack.us/congress/bill.xpd?bill=h111-2454

Cap & Trade A license required for your home: http://www.prisonplanet.com/cap-and-trade-a-license-required-for-your-home.html

Cap and trade is a license to cheat and steal: http://www.sfexaminer.com/opinion/columns/oped_contributors/Cap-and-trade-is-a-license-to-cheat-and-steal-45371937.html

Thinking about selling you House? Look at HR 2454: http://www.federalobserver.com/2009/10/01/thinking-about-selling-your-house-a-look-at-h-r-2454-cap-and-trade-bill/

Pass this on to everyone on your e-mail list and pass it across America!
 
 
 
 
 
 
 


Posted by Jerome S. Kaufman at 05:57 PM | Comments (0)

August 19, 2010

We Need Gingrich as President in 2012

By Dick Morris and Eileen McGann

Whistleblower Magazine, August 2010

THERE IS ONLY ONE LEADER AVAILABLE WHO CAN UNITE the Republican Party, best Obama in debate, and carry a true conservative message forward: Newt Gingrich. We hope he will run. And, if he does, we predict that he will win.

There is a time to move toward the center and to embody a consensus that forms in our political life after vigorous debate. But this is not the time for that. Confronted with new problems: an intractable recession, an incompetent administration that can't clean up an oil spill, international appeasement of terrorists, and a budget deficit that threatens to swallow our nation, Americans want clear answers from the left and the right.

Obama has offered his. Now the Republicans must offer theirs. And we can have no better leader for such a task than Newt Gingrich. Who else? We doubt that Mike Huckabee will run. Mitt Romney will run, but he is fatally flawed by his embrace and sponsorship of a healthcare bill in Massachusetts that approximates the horror Obama has passed in Congress. Can the man who passed mandatory health coverage in Massachusetts be trusted to repeal it nationally?

Sarah Palin undoubtedly helped John McCain in 2008. She delivered to him something no other VP candidate in American history ever has: a lead. Until her nomination, McCain never led Obama. For three weeks after her selection, he was ahead.He blew his lead by backing the TARP legislation, but that was not Sarah's fault. Since then, Sarah has more than justified her resignation as Alaska governor by her forthright embrace of true conservative candidates and values and her work with the wonderful tea party movement. But Sarah comes with a lot of baggage largely the doing of the liberal, sexist media. It will be tough to beat Obama. It will be tougher still to do so while overcoming her negatives, however unjustified they may be.

And there is a brilliant cast of second-tier candidates including Pawlenty of Minnesota, Thune of South Dakota, Pence and Daniels of Indiana, Ryan of Wisconsin, Santorum of Pennsylvania, DeMint of South Carolina, Rubio of Florida, Harbour of Mississippi, Jindal of Louisiana, Perry of Texas, Bachmann of Minnesota. Did I leave any out?

It will be hard to find a candidate with the intellectual heft of Newt or with his ability to articulate bold, new ideas. Gingrich feels the difference between socialism and freedom down to his core. He can match Obama's words and overmatch his intellect. Newt's teleprompter is inside his own mind.

As we go through the battles of 2011 and 2012— fighting against tax increases and making the states and federal government come face to face with the need to slash spending. We need a spokesman and a leader like Newt Gingrich.

He did not run in 2008. But, back then, we did not understand the peril facing our nation. We did not realize that we were about to fall into the grasp of a dedicated leftist determined to foist socialist ideas on the United States.

Now we do fathom, at long last, the severity of the threat. And we need Newt Gingrich to run. Having faced Newt in the '90's, we'd love to fight by his side in 2012 to help to save our threatened nation.



Posted by Jerome S. Kaufman at 05:00 PM | Comments (0)

August 17, 2010

WHO WAS ZE'EV JABOTINSKY

From:
70 years since the passing of an exceptional Zionist

(An extremely pertinent article that must be read in its entirety. Available here within Israel Commentary Links side panel. Click Ze'ev Jabotinsky)

By: Elliot Resnick
The Jewish Press, August 04, 2010

A portrait of Ze'ev Jabotinsky may still adorn Likud conventions in Israel, but the ideas of this great Zionist leader - who passed away 70 years ago this week - are essentially forgotten and/or ignored. Born in 1880 in Odessa, Russia, Jabotinsky - who founded Revisionist Zionism and the New Zionist Organization and headed the Haganah and later the Irgun - represents that rare brand of Zionist who is comfortable in his own skin and unabashedly demands what is rightfully his.

Unlike many Israelis nowadays, Jabotinsky never cared what Arabs - or anyone else, for that matter - thought of the Zionist project. "Zionism is a moral and just movement," he once wrote. "And if it is a just cause, justice must win, disregarding the agreement or disagreement of anyone. And if Joseph or Simeon or Ivan or Achmed would like to prevent the victory of the just cause because it is inconvenient for them, it is a duty to prevent them from successfully interfering."

Most Zionist leaders in the 1920s and '30s disagreed. Although not widely known today, mainstream Zionists refused for many years to declare the creation of a Jewish State to be Zionism's ultimate goal for fear of antagonizing the Arabs and the British. Great Britain, of course, issued the Balfour Declaration, which favored "the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people."

In the years after this declaration, however, Great Britain gradually adopted the Arab position opposing Jewish immigration to Palestine. Jabotinsky argued that pro-Arab British officials stationed in the Middle East prior to the Balfour Declaration were responsible for this slow policy shift and demanded their replacement. He also believed Zionists should appeal directly to British public opinion, which he believed favored the Zionist cause.

Jabotinsky, however, was outvoted. Mainstream Zionists preferred not to rock the boat. If they complained to British officials at all, they did so privately, quietly and with much diplomatic finesse. The result, of course, was that Great Britain patiently listened to the Zionists but then aligned itself with the Arabs who tended to express their opinions a bit more forcefully - often by rioting or killing Jews.

Jewish leaders like Zionist Organization President Chaim Weizmann apparently did not understand this natural human contempt for meekness. Jabotinsky, of course, was of a different psychological makeup. Jabotinsky had no inhibitions about demanding what was his. "Yes, we do want a state," he told Britain's Parliament in 1937, "every nation on earth, every normal nation beginning with the smallest and the humblest who do not claim any merit, any role in humanity's development, they all have states of their own. That is the normal condition of a people."

Jabotinsky's desire for a state was also influenced by his conviction that Jews had no future in Europe. He wrote in 1919, "Zionism is the answer to the massacre of the Jews. It is neither a moral consolation nor an intellectual exercise." Jabotinsky, however, increasingly found himself at odds with mainstream Zionist leaders in the 1920s and '30s. When Palestinian Arabs killed hundreds of Jews between 1936-1939, most Zionist leaders urged Jews to maintain havlaga (restraint), but Jabotinsky would not sanction "a situation in which everything is forbidden the Jew and everything permitted the Arab, a situation in which the Jew can be compared to a terrified mouse, while the Arab feels at home everywhere." He permitted the Irgun to retaliate against the Arabs.

Jabotinsky remained outside mainstream Zionism most of his life. His ideas grew progressively more popular as Great Britain's perfidy intensified in the 1930s, and his New Zionist Organization, given enough time, might have eventually overshadowed the Zionist Organization. World War II, however, overtook world Jewry in 1939, and a year later - on August 4, 1940 - Jabotinsky died while visiting a Betar camp in upstate New York.

Jabotinsky's ideas, of course, live on. They heavily influenced such leaders as Irgun commander Menachem Begin, Lechi head Israel Eldad and Kach founder Meir Kahane - and continue to inspire younger generations of Zionists. Throughout Israel's history, however, the Jewish state's leaders have represented Weizmann's brand of Zionism far more than they have Jabotinsky's. Indeed, when one reads Shmuel Katz's absorbing biography of Jabotinsky (The Lone Wolf) or Israel Eldad's fascinating memoirs (The First Tithe), one is struck by how similar leading Zionist personalities in the 1920s-40s resemble contemporary Israeli leaders.
 
Elliot Resnick is a staff reporter for The Jewish Press and holds a Masters Degree in Jewish History from Yeshiva University's Bernard Revel Graduate School of Jewish Studies.

Posted by Jerome S. Kaufman at 03:38 PM | Comments (0)

August 15, 2010

Vintage Charles Krauthammer at his Genius Best

From: American Exceptionalism in the Age of Obama

Given before the Fund for American Studies, April 2010

I've been asked to speak about American exceptionalism in the age of Obama. American exceptionalism is an old idea - a venerable idea. It goes back to Jefferson's "Empire of Liberty" to Lincoln, who spoke of Americans as the almost chosen people, and to Ronald Reagan, who used to return over and over to that great image of America as a shining city on a hill.

In terms of our understanding of our self, it's rooted in two things. We are utterly unique as a nation, being the only nation on earth founded not on race, bloodlines, even geography and history. We are a nation founded on an idea and that is new in human history. And in terms of how we conduct ourselves abroad, we are also unique in many ways in that we never sought hegemony. That was a result of the civilizational suicide of Europe in the First and Second World Wars, leaving a vacuum, which we had to fill to maintain liberty for ourselves and for the world. It was also a consequence of the fact that we're a commercial republic and we do not hunger for empire.

We are the only great power in history who, upon arriving on a foreign shore, first asks the question, "What's the exit strategy?" I can assure you that when the British arrived in India, they were not asking themselves "what's the exit strategy?" It was "what's the entry strategy," "what's the staying strategy," and "what's the governing strategy?" We don't like that. We always want to leave. Unfortunately, after the Second World War, because of the rise of the Soviet Union, we were not able to. And I think history will demonstrate (and it does to any objective observer) that how we conducted ourselves as the reluctant hegemony after the Second World War was remarkable.

I'll give you three examples. Three peoples who were split by the Cold War: East and West Germany, North and South Korea, and Taiwan and Mainland China. Look at how those nations evolved, one-half of those people with a common history, culture, language, etc., under our jurisdiction and the other half under the jurisdiction of our adversary

Compare the liberty, prosperity, the humanity of West Germany versus East Germany, Taiwan and Communist China, North and South Korea. I think it's a fairly good record. And it is the reason that in most of the world, they see our ascendancy, power and dominance as a good thing.

There's a reason why the countries of the Pacific Rim and the rest of Asia want us around-Japan, Korea, Taiwan, Vietnam, India and other countries - because they would rather be under the influence of the United States, knowing our history, our idea of liberty and how we conducted ourselves generally speaking,unlike the alternative today, which is under the dominance of China. So, I think the world speaks by its actions, by it's welcoming of our influence, particularly in areas where there are regional hegemonies who aren't as nice, as humane, or benign as we are. It speaks to how exceptional we are.

Now, unfortunately, I'm not sure that our president shares that vision. I think it's rather remarkable that when he was asked about American exceptionalism he replied - this is not a direct Quote, but it's rather a good approximation - "Yes there's American exceptionalism, but I suspect the Brits also believe in British exceptionalism and the Greeks, Greek exceptionalism."

In his early travels. President Obama went around the world saying things about his own country that I believe no American president has in the past, particularly abroad. He was quite critical of America. He was on what can only be called an apology tour. He apologized for an astonishing array of actions, starting with the 1953 Eisenhower policy of supporting the coup against the Mosaddegh regime in Tehran. He apologized over and over again for Guantanamo, for torture. He implied that the war in Iraq, in his view, wasn't only a mistake, but it was actually
immoral.

He apologized at one point for, I think the words were "dismissiveness" and "derisiveness" about U.S. relations toward Europe and then he apologized - I think quite egregiously - for what he implied as our disrespect or lack of respect for the Muslim world. The last one I found particularly offensive because in the last 20 years, this country has gone to war or engaged in military action to liberate a Muslim population from oppression: Kosovo, Bosnia, Afghanistan, Kuwait in '91 and then Iraq. Each time liberating, each time acting in a place where probably no one else would have acted, each time the genocide would've continued. I would even add the Somalia operation was unsuccessful but also purely humanitarian in the name of saving lives in a Muslim population.

Look also at how the United States reacted after 9/11, the worst massacre on American soil in our history. The President of the United States - within days - went to the mosque in Washington and spoke to the American people and urged them, encouraged them and demanded of them understanding and tolerance of
the Muslim population, outreach of friendship and no sense of revenge or retaliation in any way.

In fact, I think it's remarkable that in the years after that, there were dozens killed in Muslim riots over cartoons in a Danish magazine and yet not a single anti Muslim riot in the United States - a testimony to the tolerance of the United States in understanding and to the influence of the government in enforcement. So, I'm not sure how disrespectful we have been. But that was the attitude in the words of the president of the United States, Barack Obama.

... To draw any kind of equivalent, even to imply an equivalence between our admittedly imperfect democracy and what's an outright nasty dictatorship in Kazakhstan is quite remarkable. I think the point of view this president has is that the kind of hegemony, power and dominance that we have had since the
Second World War (and particularly since the world became rather different after the fall of the Berlin Wall, and we became the dominant power) is a rather undeserved position and that we do not quite have the moral authority to act in a way that we had.

We are an imperfect republic. And the president's view, I think, goes beyond skepticism about American exceptionalism. He also has a view that nobody ought to be dominant. It's not just that we have earned it because of our sins and our mismanagement and our imperial impulses in the past, but there ought to be order in which there are no dominant powers. If you remember the speech he gave at the U.N. General Assembly last year, it was a sort of major speech he made on the world stage. He said, "No nation can or should try to dominate another." Note the "can." How naive! He said no nation can dominate another.

He's amazingly adolescent and Utopian with that statement alone. No nation "should" is a very subtle critique of how we have conducted ourselves for the last 20 years. We obviously have been a dominant nation in the world for the last 20 years. He went on to say, "No world order in which there is a balance of power can sustain itself." And then he went on and said that it makes no sense that the alignments among nations - which are rooted in the cleavages of the now obsolete Cold War - make sense

Well, those alignments were not arbitrary alignments. That was a division between the free world and communism. That was a division between true liberty and tyranny. That was a division between NATO and the Warsaw Pact, and they made sense if you accept the notion that the way of life that we would represent and support and lead and try to spread is superior to what the other side had offered.

So, the president has a vision, I think, that the world in which differences in strength, power and dominance of nations is or ought to be abolished, and that's why he speaks over and over again about the world community, an international community acting as one. It's why he, in that same speech, tried to say America had turned the corner in its respect for the rest of the world.

He gave (among other examples) paying our UN dues and joining organizations such as the UN Human Rights Council (which as you all know is one of the most Orwellian, predacious bodies on the planet in which dictatorships gather in Geneva on your tab and on mine in excellent hotels and denounce the United States and democracy, in particular Israel, and exonerate themselves from any human rights abuses). So, it's a rather odd acclaim of how we had sort of improved our position in the world by joining organizations within the UN and the UN itself, which are at best either useless, at worst rather harmful.

But this president has a vision of the world in which the differences between the great powers and other countries are level and in which there really is no moral authority, no one superior nation to another. The problem with the vision that he presents is twofold: (a) I think he's wrong about American exceptionalism and the moral right that we have earned through our actions in the past, through the ideas we try to advance to be a dominant nation in the world, and (b) the naive vision of the world in which the international community somehow enforces its own norms.

Henry Kissinger once said, the only way to teach stability and peace is either through balance of power or through hegemony, and Obama seems to have a view that the way to achieve stability and peace in the world is for all to act as one and promote high ideals. If you listen to the speech he gave at the summit in Washington early on nuclear weapons, or you heard his speech at the General Assembly, that is the theme that somehow we have to unite together, act in our higher interest.

And it's not how the world works. International arenas exist in a state of nature in which the states act for interest and power and, unless they are restrained by the power of other nations, we will have chaos, war and instability. The world doesn't act, it doesn't protect itself or ensure stability from the signing of treaties, declarations or resolutions in the UN Security.

So, the vision I think is, first unrealistic in terms on how the world works. It is not ideal that we should have an absence of powers like us who are dominant and who can enforce the peace. And, secondly, it's a misreading of the nature of America - of how America conducts itself in the world. As I indicated earlier, there are reasons why people around the world prefer American influence to other influences.

Now the theme of the Obama policy seems to be that if we would only conduct ourselves with humility, everything would work out. I think it's an interesting concept that a man who finds humility in himself rather difficult at the defense of his country. I'll give you one sort of remarkable instance. Remember on the night he claimed the nomination for the presidency in the Democratic Party? He made a speech in which he said that that night would be remembered in history as the day on which the earth began to heal ....!

THE FUND FOR AMERICAN STUDIES • WWW.TFAS.ORG • 800-741-6964






Posted by Jerome S. Kaufman at 08:19 AM | Comments (0)

August 13, 2010

The Israeli Lavi Fighter Plane - A Reparable Awful Decision

F-35 - Take it or leave it

By Moshe Arens
Former Israel Ambassador and Defense Minister

Op Ed in Haaretz July 27, 2010

Who would have believed it? Some years ago Israel was developing the world's most advanced fighter aircraft, the Lavi, while the Western world's aircraft manufacturers were beating their way to our door, eager to participate in the Lavi project, or trying to sell their competing plane to the Israel Air Force. And now Israel goes hat in hand pleading for a chance to be allowed to acquire the F-35 aircraft, at a price tag of $150 million each.

But it's not only the astronomical price. Israel is told that the F-35 must be taken as is - no changes or modifications to suit Israel's specific needs, and absolutely no Israeli systems included. Take it or leave it.

Just imagine Israel's position today had the Lavi project not been canceled. The IAF would be operating the world's most advanced fighter, upgraded over the years to incorporate operational experience and newer technology. Much of Israel's industry would have moved a great step ahead, Israel Aerospace Industries would have become a leading developer of fighter aircraft, and most importantly, a number of options would be open to the IAF in choosing its next fighter.

What were the outlandish claims trumpeted by the opponents of the Lavi? The project, they said, was too big for Israel. These narrow-minded skeptics had not believed that we could convince the U.S. Congress to fund most of the project, and certainly were incapable of foreseeing Israel's economic growth in the years to come.

Now they are staring at a $3 billion price tag for 20 F-35s. They said Israel should not be developing military platforms but only
accessory systems to be mounted on the platforms. Now Israel will not be allowed to mount Israeli systems on the F-35.

And where would we be today if we had believed that nonsense about not developing platforms? Out of the satellite-launching and unmanned-aerial-vehicle business. Where are they today, the people who at the time foolishly led the crusade against the Lavi? Surprisingly, 23 years later, some are still involved in decision making on national security. They were against the development of the Lavi, against the development of an Israeli reconnaissance satellite, and against the development of the Arrow ballistic missile interceptor. But unfazed, they continue on.

Do they admit they were mistaken? Admitting past mistakes is a rare human quality, but there are exceptions. Dan Halutz, a fighter pilot ace and former IAF commander and chief of staff, at the time like many senior IAF officers a supporter of the cancellation of the Lavi project, recognizes in his recent book that it was a mistake to cancel the project.

So what's the use of crying over spilled milk? Are there alternatives to swallowing our pride and shelling out $3 billion for 20 F-35s? (The original plan had been to acquire 75 aircraft, which would have brought the price above $11 billion, but that was too expensive. ) Before we make that commitment, a little intellectual effort should be invested in looking at other options.

Does Israel still have the technological capability to design a first-rate fighter aircraft? That needs to be examined in some depth. No doubt some of the capability that existed at the time of the Lavi project has been lost over the years, but as has been proved time and again, Israel has a world-class technological capability. Its success in unmanned aerial vehicles is only one of a number of examples.

If it turns out that the capability to design the IAF's next fighter
aircraft does exist in Israel, where could we go from there? Not to the U.S. Congress in search of funding, because we would have to remind them that 27 years ago they were fools to invest $1 billion in the development of the Lavi that Israel decided it did not want. We would have to look for partners who are prepared to invest resources in such a project, who have the necessary technological capability, and who are not involved in the F-35 project.

Are there such candidates? In theory, yes. France, with a great aeronautical industry, chose not to participate in the F-35 project. India, with a considerable aeronautical capability and a meteorically growing economy, might be another candidate. And there is Russia. Perhaps none of them would be interested, and perhaps all of them would be. It's worth a try.

Posted by Jerome S. Kaufman at 05:43 AM | Comments (0)

August 11, 2010

Abolish State Income Taxes

From an article by Richard W. Rahn

The Washington Times July 19, 2010.

Did you know there are nine states that have no state income tax? The non-income-tax states are geographically and economically diverse, ranging from the state of Washington in the Pacific Northwest, to Texas and Florida in the South, and up to New Hampshire in the Northeast.

Why is it that some of the states with the biggest fiscal problems have the highest individual state income tax rates, such as New York and California, while some of the states with the least fiscal problems have no state income tax at all? High-tax advocates will argue that the high-tax states provide much more and better state services, but the empirical evidence does not support the assertion!

On average, schools, health and safety, roads, etc. are no better in states with income taxes than those without income taxes. More importantly, the evidence is very strong that people are moving from high-tax states to lower-tax-rate states — the migration from California to Texas and from New York to Florida being prime examples. (Next year, the combined federal, state and local income tax rate for a citizen of New York City will be well over 50 percent, as contrasted with approximately 38 percent for citizens of Texas and Florida.) If the citizens of California and New York really thought they were getting their money's worth for all of the extra state taxation, they would not be moving to low-tax states.

The obvious question then is: Where is all the extra money from these state income taxes going? It is going primarily to service debt, and to pay for inflated salaries and employee benefits. It is interesting that the high-tax-rate states also, on average, have much higher per capita debt levels than states without income taxes. (Alaska is an outlier because it has its oil reserve to borrow against and actually gives its citizens a "dividend" each year.)

The biggest additional burden the high-tax states have is unionized government worker contracts. My Cato colleague Chris Edwards notes: "Half of all state and local spending — $1.1 trillion out of $2.2 trillion in 2008 — goes toward employee wages and benefits." His study showed that, on average, total hourly compensation for state and local government workers was 45 percent higher than for equivalent private-sector workers. In addition, the government workers are rarely fired — even those with poor job performance. Importantly, the differential was much greater in states where more than half of the state employees were unionized, and these were all in states with state income taxes, with the exception of Washington. High rates of unionization of public employees and high rates of debt go hand in hand. Those states whose government workers are less than 40 percent unionized have median per capita state debt of $2,238, while those states where unionization rates are over 60 percent have a median per capita state debt of $6,380. High rates of unionization tend to lead to excess staffing, unaffordable benefits and pensions.

There have been a number of both empirical and theoretical studies showing the negative impacts of state income taxes and particularly those with high marginal rates on economic growth within the state. ...

Posted by Jerome S. Kaufman at 07:02 PM | Comments (0)

August 10, 2010

Trying to Understand U.S. Financial Problems

Private Sector Blues

By John Chettle

Redacted from The Weekly Standard
August 9, 2010, Vol. 15, No. 44

In dealing with our current economic crisis, we might remember that a recession is not a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Although economists differ on just what constitutes a recession, there have been some 47 in the United States since 1790. There have been 11 since 1945, and they have averaged 10 months in length. In truth, since World War II, it has not been an overwhelming task to bring the American economy out of recession. The sheer dynamism of our economy, the strength of its entrepreneurial drive—what Keynes called its “animal spirits”—has been enough to revive it very quickly.

Indeed, despite President Obama’s complaints that he had been left “an economic crisis as deep and dire as any since the days of the Great Depression,” he and his advisers did not suggest initially that the future was going to be bleak. Christina Romer, chair of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, famously predicted that the unemployment rate would shortly top out at 8 percent.

Compare that with what Ronald Reagan had to deal with to overcome the Carter “malaise” in 1980: inflation at 11 percent, mortgages at 15 percent, and, by the time he had broken the inflationary cycle, unemployment at 10.8 percent. Reagan got the country out of the mess because he cut taxes, cut regulation, set clear objectives, and let ordinary Americans make money.

Obama is failing to get the country out of a recession because he’s telling Americans what money they can make, what kind of jobs should be created, what extra regulations will be imposed on them (once he and his dysfunctional party have made up their collective minds), and how much more they’re going to be taxed once that has been decided by all the committees that have jurisdiction. In short, he has done the one thing he should have avoided like the plague—he has created uncertainty.

... Obama and the belligerent anti-business cartel running Congress have created an increasingly hostile environment for businesses to operate in. It is hard to keep track of all the sectors which have incurred Obama’s wrath or over which he has asserted control. He told the banking industry that he did not run for office to help out “a bunch of fat cat bankers on Wall Street.”

He has threatened the health insurance industry, saying that the administration wouldn’t hesitate to block mergers or “to require the settlement concessions necessary to protect consumers.” He extracted concessions from the pharmaceutical industry and then double-crossed them. He used the BP oil spill as an opportunity to close down drilling operations by all companies at depths greater than 500 feet. He has revived all the uncertainties of the coal and utility industries with his promotion of cap and trade legislation.

... You will also realize that the model here is the administration of Franklin Delano Roosevelt. (“I would put these four months,” said Obama after four months as president, “up against any prior administration since Franklin Roosevelt.”) FDR, according to the myth, gave the country the courage to face its problems, and Democratic leaders believe that Roosevelt succeeded because of his tough rhetoric against the rich.

The truth is almost exactly the opposite. Roosevelt’s economic policies were a failure. If it had not been for the war that came in 1939, Roosevelt would have retired as a discredited president, having failed for eight years to build the confidence that was essential to restoring the economy. ...

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

August 08, 2010

Clarifying Henry Kissinger for Posterity

By David Isaac

From "Kissinger's Guilt" in the Shmuel Katz Blog

Posted July 30, 2010 by Nrg41942@aol.com

Recently declassified White House transcripts (featured in an editorial in the Israeli daily Haaretz) show former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger blaming Israel for the problems in the region, accusing Israel of being “deliberately provocative” and attempting “to create maximum commotion in the Middle East.”

In the newly released documents Kissinger refers to the Golan Heights as “Syrian territory” and the Syrians as “my friends.” He confides to an Algerian diplomat that, “A (new Arab-Israeli) war wouldn’t be so bad for us. … We could show (Israel) we are tough.” Us? This strongly suggests Kissinger identified with the Arab side in the Arab-Israel conflict.

While these documents do not cover the period of the 1973 war (they cover the end of the Nixon administration and eighteen months of the subsequent Ford administration), they bear out Shmuel Katz’s devastating assessment of Kissinger’s role during the war as crucial in turning Israel’s military victory into a bitter strategic defeat. Just a year after the Yom Kippur War, in his 1974 pamphlet, “The Crisis of Israel and the West” Katz described Kissinger’s actions and their repercussions.

When Israel had recovered from her initial, nearly disastrous setback, the resourcefulness, and courage and qualitative superiority of her solders so succeeded that – in view of all the responsible military analysts – she was on the brink of achieving the greatest victory in her history. … [T]he Israel army had created an excellent bargaining position for whatever negotiations might ensue after the Cease Fire had been formalized in a resolution by the UN Security Council. It held firmly a wide salient deep into Egyptian territory proper with the road to Cairo open. The Egyptian Third Army, one of the two Egyptian forces that had crossed over the East bank of the Suez Canal, was encircled and its supplies completely cut off. …

But in two further decisive steps the U.S. Secretary of State dictated the conversion of Israel’s advantageous position into a posture of defeat. He insisted on the unconditional lifting of the siege of the Third Army. Brief Israeli resistance (by the Minister of Defense in a telephone conversation) was brusquely rejected….By February 1974 Israel had by diplomatic negotiation lost the Yom Kippur War, and the aggressor had been awarded the beginnings of a retrospective victory in the Six Day War.

The Egyptians moreover made no secret of their confidence that this was only the first step to Israel’s being forced out of all of Sinai. The Egyptian President in particular repeatedly gave expression to this confidence, indicating without inhibition that this is what he had been promised by the U.S. Secretary of State whom he trusted absolutely in view of what he had already done for the Arab cause.

Twenty seven years later, in 2001, in a column “In Politics: No Friendships, Only Interests” Shmuel Katz returned to the theme of Kissinger’s 1973 game plan, this time with Kissinger’s own memoirs as evidence. Kissinger was determined, Katz wrote, “on a diplomacy that would result in Egypt’s moving over from the Soviet orbit to the American. The price, as became evident, was to be a sacrifice of Israel….That is why the Egyptians to this day celebrate what they claim was a military victory over Israel. That is why, in Israel, the Yom Kippur War is remembered and felt as a bitter defeat. The harm done to Israel was and remains incalculable, not least in that sense of having been defeated.”

Moreover, Kissinger accomplished his goals through deception. As Katz details in “The Man with A Plan” (Oct. 23, 2003), with Israel facing a “dangerous shortage of materiel” Kissinger held up the arms shipments to Israel, claiming falsely it was Secretary of Defense James Schlesinger’s doing. Kissinger then used Israel’s predicament to pressure American Jewish leaders to abandon their efforts on behalf of Soviet Jewry in return for his support in expediting the delivery of the sorely needed materiel – arms and supplies which he was responsible for holding up in the first place.

Kissinger also hinted to Defense Minister Moshe Dayan of a Soviet atomic threat if Israel didn’t comply with his demands. Katz says this was a bald-faced lie. The Soviets had made no such threat. Katz writes: “Dayan later realized that he had been hoodwinked, and indeed, on examination of Kissinger’s blow-by-blow negotiations with the Russians, there is not a smidgen of a hint of an atomic threat by the Russians. In a public lecture in May 1974, Dayan declared:

‘The Americans denied us the fruits of victory. It was an ultimatum. Had the US not pressed us, the Third Army and Suez City would have had to surrender. We would have captured 30,000 to 40,000 soldiers and Sadat would have had to admit it to his people. We might have held them only for a day and let them walk out without their arms, but it would have changed the whole Egyptian attitude about whether they won the war or not.’”

It is painful to think that someone who fled Nazi persecution as a young boy in 1938 should do so much damage to the Jewish State. Yet, a closer look shows that Kissinger has, at best, a tenuous connection with his Judaism. Rabbi Norman Lamm, former chancellor of Yeshiva University, spotted this early. In his article “Kissinger and the Jews” (Dec. 20, 1975), a devastating critique, he writes, “Dr. Kissinger is an illustration of how high an assimilated Jew can rise in the United States, and how low he can fall in the esteem of his fellow Jews.”

Lamm referred to a recent visit by Henry Kissinger and his parents to Furth, their hometown in Bavaria which they escaped before the war. They had only kind words for their native city, “but nary a word about the Holocaust, not a word about the Nazis who drove them out of that city!” On top of this, Lamm reveals that Kissinger didn’t want to visit Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Memorial, during his first trip to Israel, and had to be “persuaded.” He “accepted only when he was told that every other foreign minister visiting Israel had done so.”

This hasn’t stopped Kissinger from portraying himself as one with the Jewish community, accepting awards from the Anti-Defamation League and bestowing awards on behalf of Jewish organizations like the United Jewish Appeal. Kissinger’s guilt runs deep. Whether or not he feels it is another matter. Zionist writer William Mehlman offers a remarkable footnote involving Kissinger and Katz sometime after the Yom Kippur War. Kissinger got wind of a rumor – unfounded – that Shmuel had taken out a contract on his life (a fantasy Kissinger apparently believed based on the allegations about his role in delaying the resupply of munitions to Israel during the war).

“Shmuel, informed of what had transpired and anxious to put the rumor to rest, arranged a face-to-face meeting with Kissinger at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York. ‘From the moment I entered his suite until I left three minutes later,’ Katz related to a small circle of friends in Tel Aviv, ‘he did not stop shouting at me. He never gave me a chance to refute the rumor. In fact I never got a chance to say a word. Finally, I just turned around and walked out.’”

Mehlman writes, “Whatever debt Henry Kissinger may or may not have felt he owed his conscience, he must surely have learned by now that it wasn’t Shmuel Katz who had come to collect.” Kissinger is 87. It doesn’t look as if he will make amends in this world. Perhaps in the next?

Posted by Jerome S. Kaufman at 04:47 AM | Comments (0)

August 05, 2010

Analyzing the Tea Party

From an article BY MATTHEW CONTINETTI

The Weekly Standard, June 28, 2010

As a student in the exciting new field of Tea Party Studies, I've noticed that no one agrees on what the Tea Party actually is. Is the anti-Obama, anti-big government movement simply AstroTurf fabricated by Dick Armey's FreedomWorks? Is it a bunch of Birthers, Birchers, conspiracists, and white power misfits? Is it a strictly economic phenomenon—the inevitable result of high and persistent unemployment? Or are the Tea Partiers nothing more than indulgent Boomers who combine 1960s social libertarianism with 1980s laissez-faire economics?

Does the Tea Party draw on longstanding American constitutional, political, and economic traditions, eddies of thought that one can trace back to James Madison, Thomas Jefferson, and Andrew Jackson? Or is it of a more recent vintage: Are the Tea Partiers simply the same folks who once were called Reagan Democrats and Perotistas?

All of the above. There is no single "Tea Party" The name is an umbrella that encompasses many different groups. Under this umbrella, you'll find everyone from the woolly fringe to Ron Paul supporters, from Americans for Prosperity to religious conservatives, independents, and citizens who never have been active in politics before. The umbrella is gigantic. But there are discernible ribs that extend outward from its central post, and points of shared concern that support the overall structure.

First, the Tea Party is unified by the pervasive sense that the country is wildly off course. It believes the establishment has bent and twisted the rules for its own benefit. America, the Tea Partiers believe, is headed for a fiscal reckoning unlike any it has ever seen.

Second, the Tea Party is unified in opposition to the policies that it believes put America in its current predicament. It's opposed to bailouts, which favor the wealthy and connected. It's opposed to out-of-control spending at every level of the financial sector, and keeping America safe.

Third, the Tea Party draws its strength from the American founding. It celebrates the Founders and their ideas.Tea Party members devour books about George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and Samuel Adams. They carry pocket copies of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence. They believe strongly in the Bill of Rights, especially in the Tenth Amendment's admonition that all powers not delegated to the federal government are reserved for the states and the people. Their rhetoric invokes the constitutional vision of a limited government with enumerated powers.

These beliefs support a political message with great promise. The bad economy and the Obama administration's liberal agenda have produced widespread voter discontent. The president's approval rating has declined significantly since his inauguration. Support for Congress is at record lows. The idea that economic distress would cause the American people to embrace the federal government has been exposed as hokum. In April, the Pew Research Center released a survey that concluded, "by almost every conceivable measure Americans are less positive and more critical of government."

The center's pollsters found that, "rather than an activist government to deal with the nation's top problems, the public now wants government reformed and growing numbers want its power curtailed. On bailouts, stimulus, and health care, the public is closer to the Tea Party than to the Democratic party This is one reason why, despite the unpopularity of both major parties, voters are focusing their anger on Democratic incumbents.

In a recent Gallup poll, 49 percent of respondents said the Democratic party was "too liberal." That's only one point less than the record, which Gallup measured in 1994. An NPR poll last week of battleground House districts found Republicans leading Democrats by eight points on the generic ballot. ...

Matthew Continetti is associate editor of THE WEEKLY STANDARD and author, most recently, of The Persecution of Sarah Palin.



Posted by Jerome S. Kaufman at 08:23 PM | Comments (0)

August 04, 2010

Palestinians oppose ending Israel's "occupation!"

By JONATHAN D. HALEVI

26/07/2010

Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman’s plan to assist the Gaza Strip in becoming an independent entity has encountered wall-to-wall Palestinian opposition. The dual-headed Palestinian regime in Ramallah (Fatah) and in the Gaza Strip (Hamas) totally rejects Lieberman’s proposal to recruit the European Union to build power stations to supply electricity, desalination stations and a sewage treatment plant.

This was to be part of a plan that would totally sever all connections with Israel, which would forgo its naval supervision over merchandise entering the port of Gaza and would totally seal the border with the Gaza Strip.

The arguments against exercising Palestinian independence resemble each other.

Nabil Abu Rudeineh, spokesman for the Palestinian presidency in Ramallah, views Lieberman’s plan as a plot “against the Palestinian people’s aspirations for unity, liberty and independence” and as one that “expresses the aspirations of the Israeli extreme right.”

Ahmed Assaf, spokesman for the Fatah organization that props up the Palestinian Authority, argued that the Gaza Strip is still under “Israeli occupation” and so it will remain, because it constitutes a single geographic unit with the West Bank and east Jerusalem.



Sami Abu Zuheiri, a Hamas spokesman, explained that “although Gaza was liberated in practice from the military and settlement presence, it is still from a legal and practical standpoint under occupation” and the Lieberman initiative is “an attempt to elude the responsibility imposed on the occupation.”

Abu Zuheiri argued that Israel, “the occupying country,” must continue to provide for the Gaza Strip’s needs including food, electricity and fuel.



THE HAMAS position exemplifies one of the major absurdities of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Hamas, which took pride in liberating the Gaza Strip from the occupation via jihad, is struggling with all its might to preserve the “Israeli occupation” and obligate Israel to continue transferring supplies to an entity that avowedly declares that it will liberate all of Palestine, liquidate the State of Israel and kill and expel its Jewish inhabitants.

Hamas receives support for its position from international human rights organizations (Amnesty, Human Rights Watch), Palestinians and Israelis. These, similar to Hamas, vigorously argue that Israel is still “an occupying force” and therefore it must concern itself with “the security and welfare of the Gaza residents.”



Unfortunately, the position of the human rights organizations on which Hamas relies raises substantial questions. If Israel is still an “occupying force” in the Gaza Strip, as they contend, why do these organizations not demand that Israel exercise its obligation to assure the security of the Gaza residents and operate against the Hamas regime that is gradually applying Islamic law while flagrantly trampling human rights, suppressing the opposition with an iron hand and by executions?

Furthermore, not a single one of the human rights organizations suggests the necessary conditions for the conclusion of the “occupation,” but all are demanding that it should be extended by a full opening of the border. This position constitutes a paradox, because if Israel was to lift the siege pursuant to the human rights organizations’ demands (including the naval blockade and control of airspace), then the occupation is presumed to have concluded, and therefore Israel will no longer be under the obligation to concern itself with the Gaza population.

Even currently there is no real effective Israeli “siege” and the Gaza Strip is not a “prison,” as the data of the Hamas government on the transit of goods (imports of $1 billion per year) and people (scores of thousands, including personnel of the Hamas military wing) via the border with Egypt will attest.
Egypt as well is interested in the continuation of the occupation and it once again warns Israel that it should not dare rid itself of it.

The official explanation explicitly clarifies its policy: “Concurrence with the argument that posits that the Gaza Strip is considered liberated territory conveys reconciliation with the plan that attempts to impose the burden of managing the Strip on the neighbor who lives in proximity to it, namely Egypt. One must not agree to this, because this will provide Israel with an excellent escape outlet from the strait of the occupation and transfer its repercussions to Egypt, and this could result in the liquidation of the Palestinian problem.

GIVEN THIS background, the question of why everybody is so enamored with the Israeli “occupation” is accentuated. Why are the Palestinians still adamant in their opposition to receiving total independence, at least at the first stage, on part of Palestinian territory?

A possible key to the answer was provided by Prof. Anat Biletzki, formerly the chairwoman of B’Tselem, who warned in a lecture at MIT in 2007 of the danger that the Palestinian leadership, due to its fatigue, might agree to the establishment of a Palestinian state on part of Palestinian soil and two-state solution. Biletzki argued that only the solution of a single state in the entire territory of Palestine can provide a just and realistic solution, and she then proceeded to sharply criticize the preparedness of Prof. Sari Nusseibeh to forgo the refugees’ right of return.



This is primarily the guiding logic behind the position of the Palestinian leadership that has not renounced the idea of liberating Palestine in its entirety. Five years have elapsed since the withdrawal from the Gaza Strip and the Hamas government continues to preserve the refugee camps despite their crowded conditions and immense deprivation, and continues to demand international assistance to help them via UNRWA.

Housing refugees in the areas of the settlements that were vacated in Gaza (or by the PA in the West Bank) will not impair the right of the refugees to raise their right of return during negotiations, just as the rights of Palestinians defined as refugees living in cities and abroad is not impaired.

However the goal of both the PA and the Hamas government is identical, namely, to keep the lava of the refugee problem at full boil, as this constitutes the key to the ultimate objective of the historic Palestinian odyssey – the liquidation of the State of Israel as a Jewish state.

This is the real reason behind the Palestinian love affair with the “Israeli occupation.”

Hamas wants to eat out of Israel’s hand and then proceed to eat the hand itself and the entire body. Israel’s opposition to placing the noose over its neck with its own hands is depicted by Hamas as a violation of international law.



The writer is a senior researcher of the Middle East and radical Islam at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. He is a cofounder of the Orient Research Group Ltd. and is a former adviser to the Policy Planning Division of the Foreign Ministry.
 

Posted by Jerome S. Kaufman at 10:29 PM | Comments (0)

August 02, 2010

What exactly did Netanyahu get from Obama at heralded meeting in Washington?

By: Editorial Board
(courtesy of Chris Wallace at Fox News! - jsk)
Redacted from JEWISH PRESS
July 15 2010

Given President Obama's dismal polls and widespread expectations of a Democratic bloodbath in November's midterm elections, it is not difficult to understand why he would want to publicly play up to Prime Minister Netanyahu. The tensions the president created with Israel from the moment he took office has particularly eroded his standing in the Jewish community - a traditional source of votes and campaign contributions for Democrats - something he has to staunch and perhaps reverse. But unless Mr. Netanyahu was led to expect some important policy changes would be forthcoming, it is hard to understand why he agreed to play ball.

One never knows what is said behind closed doors, of course, and whatever happens in November, Mr. Obama will be president for at least another two and a half years. But from Mr. Netanyahu's post-meeting comments, he seems to have come away with nothing.

The president may have declared that he and the prime minister had an "excellent" discussion, and that what Mr. Netanyahu had said was "wonderful," and that the U.S.-Israel relationship is "extraordinary." But that seems to be it. Maybe an end to the public rebukes is something for which to be grateful, but those rebukes reflected serious policy shifts on the part of the United States — and those are the real issues here.

Consider what Mr. Netanyahu had to say to Fox News host Chris Wallace on Sunday. It appears there has been no change in the Obama administration's pressuring Israel to negotiate fully with the Palestinian Authority despite its lack of exclusive power over the Palestinian street. And so Mr. Wallace asked, "Do you really believe that you can make peace with the Palestinians when Hamas controls Gaza, has a lot of support in the West Bank and won't recognize Israel's right to exist?"

Mr. Netanyahu replied: Now, at this point, I could tell you, we'll never negotiate with the Palestinian Authority as long as Hamas is in Gaza. That's not my position. I think we should get on with it and seek to negotiate peace between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. We'll have to deal with Hamas later.

Similarly, when Mr. Wallace asked: "Are you willing to put East Jerusalem as a possible capital of a Palestinian state on the table?" Mr. Netanyahu said, Well, we have differences of views with the Palestinians. We want a united city. They have their own views. This is one of the issues that will have to be negotiated. But I think the main point is to get on with it.

Clearly, President Obama offered no reason for confidence on these core issues. Consider also that when Mr. Wallace asked about the U.S. position on the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and its applicability to Israel - "Did the president explain why the US signed a UN statement in May which singled out Israel's nuclear program and failed to mention Iran?"

Mr. Netanyahu answered: He [Mr. Obama] said U.S. policy had not changed. He recognizes Israel's unique circumstances, the size of the vulnerability, the history of the attacks that we've had. And he reiterated in our private session and in the public statement some of the key understandings that we've had on this strategic area. So I think if anyone hought that there was a change of U.S. policy, or daylight, between Israel and the United States on these questions, I think he did a lot to lay that to rest.

Curious words indeed, since the Obama administration broke precedent with prior administrations and signed a document to the contrary. In any event, Mr. Wallace, undeterred, followed up with, "Did he explicitly say to you that he accepts Israel's right to nuclear weapons for self-defense?" To which Mr. Netanyahu came back with a rather non-specific response: "Well, we didnt get into that kind of discussion and I'm not going to get into our confidential discussions."

Mr. Wallace then asked one of the key questions: "Have you and the president resolved the issue of whether you are willing to extend the moratorium on construction of settlements, as apart of the Palestinians engaging in direct talks? "

Mr. Netanyahu responded, revealingly, The settlements are an issue that have to be engaged in the final status peace negotiations. That's always been agreed on. I made the exceptional, really extraordinary move of making a freeze on new construction for 10 months . Now we're asked to make an extension of this. Look, I think this is the wrong approach. I think we should eliminate all these preconditions and all these excuses and all those demands for entering into direct talks .

So the answer seems to be no, they didn't resolve the issue. Mr. Wallace then asked the fundamental question: "Can you honestly say that Barack Obama supports Israel and understands the threats you face the same way that Reagan and Clinton and the two Bushes did?"

To this grand opening to really wax eloquent, Mr. Netanyahu played dodge ball: I can tell you that we had a conversation in this meeting in Washington the other day. And a good chunk of it - I'd say about half of it - was devoted to a detailed discussion of Israel's security problem . And I explained it in great detail. And I found the president understanding. I found him - he considered this problem .

If we were the wagering type, we would bet the president gave the Israeli prime minister the proverbial ice in the wintertime. And in return, Mr. Netanyahu gave him cover in the run-up to November.

(Let us hope the American voter will wake up to this obvious ploy) Jsk


Posted by Jerome S. Kaufman at 05:54 PM | Comments (0)

August 01, 2010

Pete Hoekstra, Michigan Gubernatorial Candidate, questions Obama Pre-mature Russian Spy Swap

Spy swap halts fact finding. Public Trial of 10 Russian agents could have led to revelations.

By Bill Gertz
The Washington Times, July 13, 2010

The Obama administration's rapid release of 10 Russian intelligence officers removed the prospect of a public trial revealing embarrassing facts about Russian influence operations, like the targeting of a key Democrat Party financier close to Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Current and former national security officials critical of the speedy exchange with Moscow also said trading the 10 spies for four Russians less than two weeks after their arrest also limited U.S. counterspies from learning important details of Russian espionage and influence operations. Questions about the handling of the case were raised Tuesday during a closed-door briefing of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.

Rep. Peter Hoekstra of Michigan, the ranking Republican on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, questioned the unprecedented speed used by the administration in moving the spies out of the country. "We gave up the opportunity," he said. "Now that these people are out of the country, it's game off, not game on. We will get no additional insights or information from them."

Mr. Hoekstra said the House intelligence oversight panel will be briefed on the case this week and "tough questions" will be raised about the swap. "Right now, it looks like this is one time the government should have been a little more deliberate and taken its time before acting in haste," he said. The swap of the 10 "illegals," or deep-cover agents, last week — 12 days after their arrest — also prevented trial disclosures of other potentially embarrassing details, like the identities of what an FBI criminal complaint described as a "former legislative counsel for the U.S. Congress" and "former high-ranking United States government national security official" both of whom provided information to two Boston-based Russians in the case. Both officials' names were omitted from the complaint.

The Russian SVR foreign intelligence service also asked its spies to provide information on the new strategic arms treaty, the war in Afghanistan and Iran's nuclear program, indications that Moscow is working covertly against U.S. efforts on those issues, despite efforts by President Obama and Mrs. Clinton to "reset" U.S.-Russia relations.


Posted by Jerome S. Kaufman at 01:29 AM | Comments (0)