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North Korea’s Nukes

North Korea--The Evil of the Axis

June 1st 2009

Asia Topics - Kim Kung II
Kim Jong II

North Korea’s underground nuclear test offers the Obama administration an opportunity to remake American policy on a crucial issue. The Bush administration used the Six Party Talks and the UN Security Council as its chief instruments and pursued policies of varying carrots and sticks to change Kim Jong Il’s calculus about the benefits of nuclear capability. But the Six Party format mortgages any possible progress to the lowest common denominator, generally China, and China’s veto does the same with the Security Council. The Bush administration, often charged with reckless unilateralism, was in this case an instrument of reckless multilateralism.

President Obama can take leadership of the issue by determining what American policies would a) best protect the United States and our allies, and b) reduce the likelihood of future North Korean nuclear successes.

Several potential policies spring to mind – an enhanced Proliferation Security Initiative, enhanced missile defenses, returning North Korea to the US list of terrorism-sponsoring countries and a return to the financial sanctions the Bush administration dropped for no fathomable reason. 

None require Chinese participation – although that would be welcome – and all permit like-minded countries to participate as well as they can. Read more ..

Edge on Palestine

Challenges Lie Ahead for Salam Fayad as New Palestinian Prime Minister

May 25th 2009

Palestine Topics - Salam Fayyad
Salam Fayad

Palestinian Authority (PA) president Mahmoud Abbas has just reappointed Dr. Salam Fayad as PA prime minister. Although Fayad headed an interim government since his resignation on March 7, his formal reappointment carries with it important changes to the composition of the government.

Signaling the failure of Fatah and Hamas reconciliation efforts, the reshuffled cabinet also reflects Abbas and Fayad's desire to expand the government's base to include more Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) factions and independents. The success of the new government will depend to a large extent on how the Abbas-Fayad coalition addresses the challenges ahead -- especially within Fatah itself.

Expanding the Abbas-Fayad Base

Fayad's previous government was criticized for drawing ministers from a narrow political spectrum that included Fayad's Third Way faction, Fatah groups that fled Gaza following Hamas' June 2007 coup, and largely unknown independents. Hastily formed after the Hamas seizure of Gaza, the former government included only fourteen ministers, many of whom directed two ministries simultaneously. The cabinet's composition and makeshift/ nature limited its support among Fatah, independents, and other PLO factions, and led to increasing calls, especially within Fatah, to expand its scope.

The new government seems to have overcome these problems. Comprising twenty-two ministers, the new government includes ten Fatah ministers; one new minister each from the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine, Fida, and the Popular Struggle Front; and three new independents well known at the national level. The most prominent of these independents, Dr. Ali Jarbawi, a professor of political science at Birzeit University and the president of the Palestinian Central Election Committee, is the new minister of planning. Read more ..

Crime in America

COPS Improvements Act of 2009 Only Exacerbates Flawed Federal Policies

May 18th 2009

Crime Topics - NY Cops

Created in the middle of President Bill Clinton's first term, the Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) program promised to put 100,000 new state and local law enforcement officers on the street by 2000. Critics said that COPS would fail to meet this goal and that state and local governments would do what they always do when the federal government subsidizes any core responsibility of state or local governments: stop paying for it themselves and become dependent on funding from Washington.

The critics were right on both counts.

As a crime-reduction policy, the COPS program failed to live up to its sponsors' rhetoric and promises, never putting 100,000 additional police officers on America's streets. Undaunted by the program's failure to meet its most important public goals and in response to considerable lobbying by state and local law-enforcement officials, the House of Representatives recently passed the "COPS Improvements Act of 2009" (H.R. 1139), which is estimated to cost $5.4 billion from 2010 through 2014 plus an additional $3.6 billion thereafter. Read more ..

The Bear is Back

Obama Must Not Concede One Inch to Russian Demands over NATO

May 11th 2009

Russian Topics - Putin
Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin

Russia's Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov met with President Obama at the White House in recent days, a privilege normally reserved for fellow heads-of-state. Moscow has reciprocated this extraordinary display of friendship by pulling out of the NATO-Russia Council meeting set for May 19, and expelling two NATO officials from their Moscow offices after NATO expelled two Russian diplomats suspected of spying.

After meeting President Obama, Minister Lavrov delivered a public speech outlining multiple Russian concerns, including deployment of U.S. missile defenses in Europe and NATO's eastern expansion. Lavrov also stated that Moscow is open for cooperation with NATO allies and regional powers on Afghanistan.

Timed to coincide with Minister Lavrov's visit, Russia's permanent representative to NATO and notorious ultra-nationalist, Dmitry Rogozin, published an op-ed in The New York Times lambasting U.S. policy on key issues, specifically NATO expansion.

Although President Obama has pledged to push the reset button to renew relations with Russia, U.S. policy towards Moscow must be based on a realistic--not rhetorical--agenda which prioritizes the NATO alliance and emphasizes the indivisibility of the transatlantic security alliance. President Obama must also make clear that the United States will not bargain away U.S. support for NATO enlargement to include Georgia and Ukraine, or missile defenses in Europe in exchange for Russian cooperation on other issues, such as its negotiations to stop Iran's nuclear program. Read more ..

Obama Edge

Obama Breaks a Campaign Promise by Rescinding Labor Union Accountability Reforms

May 5th 2009

Obama Admin Topics - Barack Obama with Flag

Contrary to campaign promises to increase transparency and accountability, the Obama Administration has announced plans to rescind union accountability and financial transparency regulations implemented by the Department of Labor (DOL) during the Administration of George W. Bush.

These regulations make union officials more accountable to union members and deter fraud and embezzlement. The DOL has convicted hundreds of union officials over the past eight years. Rescinding these forms will facilitate fraud and harm union members.

On January 21, the DOL published regulations updating the Form LM-2, the annual financial disclosure report unions file with the DOL. Unions collect between 1 and 2 percent of their members' earnings as dues, and union officers are required to spend that money on the workers' behalf--they may not use union funds for their personal interest. The LM-2 revisions required unions to: 1) Disclose the total value of all benefits received by union officers and employees; 2) Disclose the names of parties buying and selling union assets; and 3) Itemize union receipts (currently unions must itemize only expenditures).

The DOL also updated the LM-30 conflict of interest reporting form that union officers and employees must file. These forms bring to light situations where union officers receive gifts or otherwise benefit from companies that their union does business with. They deter sweetheart deals where companies that give "gifts" to union officers get union business on favorable terms. The revisions required more union officials (such as shop stewards) to report potential conflicts of interest. Read more ..

Inside America

The Age of the American Lust Child

April 27th 2009

Contributors / Staff - Armstrong Williams Headshot
Armstrong Williams

Recently that the Centers for Disease Control has estimated that nearly forty percent of U.S. births in 2007 occurred outside of wedlock. That number is overall for the nation. It is one thing when teenagers and members of lower socioeconomic classes fall prey to this phenomenon. But the reality of out-of-wedlock births at such a high rate across the social gamut suggests that the problem has spread much wider than ever could have been imagined. This alarming number of out-of-wedlock births across age and socioeconomic sectors signals nothing less than the wholesale disintegration of our American family. Welcome to the dawn of the age of the American Lust Child.

Some would question why it matters. What does society care whether or not children are born to wedded mothers at all? After all if the parents are together but not married, or single but wealthy enough to support the child, then no big deal right? 

Wrong. There is more to raising children than just food, clothing and shelter. There is the quintessential non-material connection that two parents provide that cannot be quantified in dollars and cents, but are just as essential for that child to grow up and become a productive member of society. They include, providing a strong moral foundation, teaching faith, perseverance, and discipline. It’s not that one parent is incapable of doing this alone. It has been done in countless shining examples. But in most U.S. households, where someone has to work to bring in an income, the moral education of children generally requires teamwork if it is to be done correctly. That too has been shown in countless shining examples. Read more ..

The Race for Biofuels

New CARB Rules Could Fuel Oil Dependence and Cripple Energy Freedom

April 20th 2009

Energy Topics - Arab Oil Derick

In the coming days, the California Air Resources Board, or CARB -- the same agency that only five years ago gained notoriety for its role in "killing" the electric car -- could be in a position to deliver another crippling blow to the United States' effort to achieve energy independence.

As part of California's strategy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from transportation fuels, CARB is pushing for the enactment of a low-carbon fuel standard, or LCFS, that aims to regulate the emissions level of petroleum refiners, biofuels producers and others that produce or import the transportation fuels used in California.

The credit or penalty would be assessed according to both the direct and indirect greenhouse gas emissions associated with each of the steps in the fuel's life cycle, including production, transport and tailpipe emissions. Such "cradle to grave" accounting sounds logical only if it allows all fuels to compete on an equal footing. But this is what the fuel standard in its current version fails to do. Read more ..

After the Holocaust

Holocaust Restitution—Prague Conference in June Seen as Last Effort

April 13th 2009

Jewish Topics - Concentration Camp Survivor

The Holocaust Era Assets Conference to be held in Prague in late June 2009 provides the last major opportunity to deal with the assets stolen by the Nazis and their collaborators that remain unpaid. Conservatively, that amounts to at least $125 billion in 2007 prices. Most remaining survivors are in the eighties and there will be few left in ten years.

Several previous conferences—London in 1997 and Washington in 1998—attempted to deal with this unpaid obligation but little was accomplished. The representatives of many countries made heart-wrenching speeches, provided useful research and made calls for restitution. But there was no effort to get beyond the rhetoric and establish an effective means to return or compensate for the stolen assets. The result was that during the next ten years only about 3 percent of the unpaid Holocaust era assets were repaid. It was realized that after more than 60 years any outcome would be "Imperfect Justice." The results, however, did not even come close to meeting that notion.

The Prague Conference thus needs to establish a clear and detailed mechanism to address this issue if it is going to have any meaning beyond diplomatic niceties. So far, however, all the indications are that the Conference will focus on trying to put the best light on the flimsy results of the past.


Edge of the Drug Wars

It is Time to Debate a Change in Washington's Failed Latin American Drug Policies

April 6th 2009

Social Topics - Narcotics

It is time for policymakers to acknowledge that drug prohibition is inadequate and requires immediate attention, discussion and qualification. Despite 37 years of universal cooperation pursuant to the United Nations General Assembly resolution 39/141, which is the basis of the U.S. anti-drug policy; it is a statute which regularly has proven to be ineffective. It also has adversely contributed to fanning grave civil disorder and broken societies in nations across the globe.

Although there have been some governmental successes, notably in Colombia, drug cartels have proven adaptive and relentless in the pursuit of their interests. These cartels are essentially businesses, and as such, they are determined to meet the enormous and growing demand for their products in order to guarantee the continuation of their immense profits.   Read more ..

Edge of Campus Hate

Confronting Anti-Zionism and Anti-Semitism

March 30th 2009

Contributors / Staff - Judea Pearl
Judea Pearl

In January, at a symposium at UCLA (choreographed by the Center for Near East Studies), four longtime Israel bashers were invited to analyze the human rights conditions in Gaza, and used the stage to attack the legitimacy of Zionism and its vision of a two-state solution for Israel
and the Palestinians.

They criminalized Israel's existence, distorted its motives, and maligned its character, its birth, even its conception. At one point, the excited audience reportedly chanted "Zionism is Nazism" and worse.

Jewish leaders condemned this hate-fest as a dangerous invitation to anti-Semitic hysteria, and pointed to the chilling effect it had on UCLA students and faculty on a campus known for its open and civil atmosphere. The organizers, some of them Jewish, took refuge in "academic freedom" and the argument that "anti-Zionism is not anti-Semitism."

I fully support this mantra, not because it exonerates anti-Zionists from charges of anti-Semitism but because the distinction helps us focus attention on the discriminatory, immoral and more dangerous character of anti-Zionism.

Anti-Zionism rejects the very notion that Jews are a nation – a collective bonded by a common history - and, accordingly, denies Jews the right to self-determination in their historical birthplace. It seeks the dismantling of the Jewish nation state: Israel.

Anti-Zionism earns its discriminatory character from denying the Jewish people what it grants to other historically bonded collectives (e.g. French, Spanish, Palestinians), namely, the right to nationhood, self-determination and legitimate coexistence with other indigenous claimants.

Anti-Semitism rejects Jews as equal members of the human race; anti-Zionism rejects Israel as an equal member in the family of nations. Read more ..

The Obama Edge

Freeman as Wrong on Israel as He was on China

March 23rd 2009

Obama Admin Topics - Charles Freeman
Charles Freeman

Imagine if a former U.S. ambassador to Pakistan served for years on the board of a Pakistani funded think tank, sang the praises of the dictatorial junta in Islamabad, served as a consultant for a company doing business in China and defended that country's human rights abuses while also routinely making disparaging remarks about India. Would it be a surprise if opposition arose to that person's appointment to a sensitive U.S. government intelligence post?

A similar situation arose when a former ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Charles Freeman, was appointed chair of the National Intelligence Council and, not surprisingly, provoked opposition from a wide range of people including several members of Congress who called for a review of Freeman's ties to foreign governments.

Since retiring from the Foreign Service, Freeman has been an outspoken defender of the apartheid regime in Saudi Arabia, extolling the virtues of "Abdullah the Great," the Saudi autocrat, while running the Saudi supported Middle East Policy Council in Washington, D.C. Freeman has also been well-known for his strident criticism of Israel and the U.S.-Israel relationship.

While many of his defenders argued that he was being targeted because Freeman had the courage to speak out against Israel, many of his harshest critics were far more concerned with his statements and activities related to China. Freeman served on the advisory board of the Chinese-government-owned entity Chinese National Offshore Oil Co. This affiliation and his comments regarding the Tiananmen Square massacre are what elicited serious objections to his appointment by Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi. In a 2005 public e-mail, Freeman wrote about the massacre, "[T]he truly unforgivable mistake of the Chinese authorities was the failure to intervene on a timely basis to nip the demonstrations in the bud.. In this optic, the Politburo's response to the mob scene at 'Tian'anmen' stands as a monument to overly cautious behavior on the part of the leadership, not as an example of rash action." Read more ..

What if the Oil Stops?

Obama's Energy Plan Not Ready for an Iran-Israel clash

March 16th 2009

Contributors / Staff - Armstrong Williams Headshot
Armstrong Williams

President Obama has talked the talk on our nation's energy independence, identifying it as at the top of his big-three immediate fixes.

But in recent days, a series of pivotal developments in the Middle East show that Mr. Obama is painfully ignorant of what this country needs and what we need now. I refer to an oil interruption that could be triggered by a pre-emptive move by either Tehran or Jerusalem over Iran's fast-paced nuclear program.

Edwin Black, author of the recent book The Plan: How to Rescue Society the Day the Oil Stops - or the Day Before, sat down with me recently. He outlined the looming crisis and a plan to save the country, which can be immobilized within weeks by an oil interruption. But no one in government has paid attention, other than nail-biting oil-crisis monitors at the Department of Energy.

Here's what happened in recent days to change the game and make us closer to a cataclysmic confrontation, with dire consequences for American oil, that the Obama administration is completely unprepared for.

First, on Feb. 2, Iran successfully launched a satellite into space. Tehran plans more satellites this year, creating a space presence, easily weaponized, that worries American military planners. Read more ..

America's Economic Crisis

President Obama's Real Agenda is Not Just Reviving the Economy

March 9th 2009

Contributors / Staff - Armstrong Williams Headshot
Armstrong Williams

President Obama has a large number of programs on his domestic agenda.  These programs include the economic recovery (formerly known as a stimulus), restructuring the financial and banking system, health care reform, distressed home owners, green environmental programs, redistribution of income from the wealthy to the middle class, education funding, infrastructure investment in highways and public transportation, promoting stem cell research, energy independence, unwinding abortion protections for medical personnel choosing not to participate in abortions, and the employees free choice act to furthering unionization through a card check. 

Given the state of the economy, the President’s principle objective should be to revive our sick economy. Make a distinction between "reviving the economy" and investing in capital programs and infrastructure for the future. Investing in the future is important; but reviving the economy is more important at this juncture.  Unemployment is already approaching 8 percent. Do we want to see unemployment increase to double digits? The president should focus his agenda on those programs that stimulate the economy. If the President’s objective is to revive the economy, many of the president’s proposed programs are a diversion and do not efficiently achieve that objective.  Let us analyze several of these programs.

The economic recovery act includes a tax provision which reduces the deduction on charitable donations from 35 percent to 28 percent on wealthy tax payers. This will result in lower donations to private charitable organizations. Not only will this measure cripple the charitable mission of many organizations, it also reduces employment in the charitable sector of the economy. OMB Director Peter Orszag says the government will make up for the reduction in charitable donations by giving money directly to charitable organizations.  Read more ..

The Obama Edge

Envoy Appointment Key Tool in Outreach to Muslim World

March 3rd 2009

Obama Admin Topics - Hillary Clinton in Indonesia
Secretary of State Clinton in Indonesia

During her first foreign visit as Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton reinforced a major priority for the Obama Administration: improved relations with the Islamic world. After an hour-long meeting with Indonesian Foreign Minister Hassan Wirajuda, Clinton praised Indonesia as a model of how “Islam, democracy and modernity not only can coexist, but thrive together.”

Within minutes of his becoming President, Barack Obama began his official outreach to the Islamic world. In his inaugural address, President Obama stated, “To the Muslim world, we seek a new way forward, based on mutual interest and mutual respect … we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist.”

In his first interview after becoming president, Obama stated to Al-Arabiya Arab TV Network:  “My job is to communicate the fact that the United States has a stake in the well-being of the Muslim world, that the language we use has to be a language of respect… My job to the Muslim world is to communicate that the Americans are not your enemy. We sometimes make mistakes. We have not been perfect …” Read more ..

America's Economic Crisis

Senseless Stimulation Won't Help the Economy

February 23rd 2009

Contributors / Staff - Armstrong Williams Headshot
Armstrong Williams

In the rush to get a new spending bill out of the congress as soon as possible, proponents of the massive bailout seem to have overlooked a fundamental point: the government cannot possibly cure what ails the American people by pouring more money on the problem. 

Speaking before a cheering crowd in Florida recently, one would have thought the President was announcing a new victory in the War on Terror, or a new milestone in economic growth. The fact that the President had come to deliver some sobering news about the state of the economy seemed to have been lost on the crowd, who roared with glee even before the President had a chance to lay out his analysis of the Economy’s woes (which he did with remarkable candor), and seemed to ignore the fact that the proposed stimulus was being funded almost purely out of massive government borrowing. It may be remiss of me to point out the obvious but isn’t spending money we don’t have what got us into this financial debacle in the first place? 

The very notion that we can borrow our way out of the recession seems to be the latest diversion these days, but it is bound to have unintended consequences. Read more ..

Israel and Palestine

Palestine Refugees: Rhetoric versus Reality in Dollars and Sense

February 16th 2009

Israel Topics - Arab Child in Jerusalem

An op-ed article in the January 14, 2009 Washington Post indicates that settling the Palestinian refugee issue is the prime means of resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The author, Yousef Munayyer of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, says “The key to real progress in resolving the conflict is, and has always been, providing a just resolution of the refugee (Palestinian) issue.” This is the opposite of both history and the current situation.

The Palestinian refugee issue has festered for 60 years mainly because Palestinians and Arabs have used the issue as a political tool. In the years after the 1948 war, the refugee issue was kept alive partly because the Arab countries felt disgraced and dishonored as a result of losing the war they initiated. Until the 1967 war, Jordan and Egypt could have absorbed into their own countries the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza they controlled. Meanwhile, both Arab governments and the Arab League were against granting citizenship to Palestinian refugees in their countries because it would undermine their objective of using the right of return to eliminate the Jewish state. The end result was that the Palestinian refugees became political pawns.

This fact was stated succinctly by the former head of UNRWA, Ralph Galloway, when he said:  “The Arab states do not want to solve the refugee problem. They want to keep it as an open sore, as an affront to the UN, and as a weapon against Israel. Arab leaders do not give a damn whether Arab refugees live or die.” Read more ..

The Obama Edge

Racial Politics No Longer an Excuse in Post-Racial America

February 9th 2009

Contributors / Staff - Armstrong Williams Headshot

In case you didn't get the memo, this former slave-holding nation has just sworn in a guy with the name Obama as its 44th President. With this momentous occasion, all the –isms that were born from racism, reparations, and White guilt are now dead and buried.

No longer can liberal, race-based organizations and the race hustlers blame White men and a racist government going forward for their plight and lack of economic opportunities in America.  The so-called label "I'm an African-American" is obsolete and you have officially become a full-blooded, card-carrying American.  The attitude that "I don't belong to America," or "I'm not proud to be an American," is now laughable. 

That old tired mantra, "The White man has his foot on my neck, I'm still overburdened from the effects of slavery" has finally been laid to rest.  Well, the boogeyman exists no longer, and you must now rise and fall on your own merit, choices made, work ethics, discipline, sacrifices and thrift in this land of opportunity.

President Obama's historical election has caused a massive cry of promise and true opportunity not only from Americans but from the world.  World leaders are watching as Obama pledges to "remake America."   He stated, "The world has changed, and we must change with it" and expressed that more also is needed to be done in the Third World.  After the inauguration, many children were interviewed and had such high expectations and now believe they can fulfill their dreams including becoming President of the United States of America.  Read more ..

Israel and Hamas

Two-State Illusion--The View from Sderot's Bunkers

February 2nd 2009

Israel Topics - Sderot bunker children
Israeli children in a Sderot bomb-proof bunker

In early September 2008, I was invited to take part in a press conference in Oslo, along with the Israeli ambassador to Norway, members of the Norwegian media and members of the Norwegian parliament. The title of the press conference was "Iran: At Sderot's Back Door."

It was at that press conference that "rocket reality" was presented before Norwegians for the first time, showing the Western Negev as the only place in the Western world where rockets and missiles are fired at citizens on almost a daily basis. Of these attacks, 97 percent are launched by Palestinian militias from the convenient cover of civilian homes in Gaza. Their weapons come directly from Iran, with their delivery to Gaza facilitated by Syria and Egypt. This is how Hamas became Teheran's "third arm," after Hezbollah in Lebanon. Read more ..

Israel and Hamas

Dead Babies are a War Strategy for Hamas

January 26th 2009

Islamic Topics - Gaza baby death

The Hamas "dead baby" strategy - to cause as many civilian casualties as possible by firing its deadly rockets from schools and densely populated areas - is producing understandable outrage around the world. What is not understandable is why the outrage is directed against Israel, which is a victim of this strategy, rather than against Hamas, which is its perpetrator.

Hamas knew exactly what it was doing when it fired more than 6,000 rockets at Israeli kindergartens, elementary schools and playgrounds from behind its own children. It was playing Russian roulette with the lives of Israeli children in order to provoke a defensive response from Israel.

Hamas knew that Israel, like any democracy, would have to take whatever military action was necessary to stop the rockets. As Barack Obama put it when he visited Sderot, a town that had been victimized by more than 1,000 rockets and several deaths: "If somebody was sending rockets into my house where my two daughters sleep at night, I'm going to do everything in my power to stop that. And I would expect Israelis to do the same thing." Read more ..

America's Economic Collapse

Unintended Consequences in Action

January 5th 2009

Economy - Bernanke headache
Ben Bernanke

Columbia University statistician Andrew Gelman has said, “The law of unintended consequences is what happens when a simple system tries to regulate a complex system. The political system is simple. It operates with limited information (rational ignorance), short time horizons, low feedback, and poor, misaligned incentives.  Society in contrast is a complex, evolving, high-feedback, incentive-driven system.  When a simple system tries to regulate a complex system you often get unintended consequences.”

Gelman is dead on, if not understated. He states that the political system is simple. I’d go a step further and say that lifetime politicians and entrenched government bureaucrats are “simple.” They show no indication of knowledge or expertise in American history or rational financial theory. The President, Congress, Federal Reserve, and Treasury try mightily to direct our economy. It is an impossible task. With a GDP of $14 trillion, there are thousands of inputs and outputs that feed the system. Their hubris leads them to believe that they are in control and can manipulate the gears of capitalism in a way that will produce their desired outcomes. If a desired outcome occurs, it is simply due to dumb luck. The more likely result of their manipulations of our complex system is a set of bigger problems that never occurred to them. Read more ..

America’s Economic Crisis

A New Paradigm For Those At The Top

December 29th 2008

Contributors / Staff - Armstrong Williams Headshot

The persistence and magnitude of the ongoing financial crisis has spared no one. It has wreaked havoc on our nation and sent ripple effects throughout the global economy. This has been a particularly unkind crisis—one that has not discriminated among the individual consumer, international corporations, and venerable firms on Wall Street. Most recently, the eye of the storm has circled around the Big Three automakers and they now absorb the ire focused on banks and other financial institutions just a short time ago. Without question this is a fast moving storm which does not leave much time for reflection on the days’ or weeks’ events. But it is time to give pause, for history has shown our memories are short and we are often doomed to repeat our past. This is not a past we can afford to relive.

In many ways, the actions and antics of Wall Street through the years have precipitated the unraveling of our economy and the financial well-being of millions of Americans. "Deliberating," they call it. Nice name, but it doesn’t soften the blow. Wall Street has always been at the heart of the financial or asset bubbles that inevitably pop. Wall Street has served as an enabler that pushes toxic financial instruments into the hands of the unknowing: those in awe of the Wall Street institution. This phenomenon is like drug lords who bring illegal substances to market but don’t use the drugs themselves. The motivation is always the same—money. Read more ..

The Madoff Massacre

An American Tragedy

December 22nd 2008

Crime Topics - Madoff4
Bernard L. Madoff

The greatest financial fraud in the history of our country was uncovered in the second week of December 2008. Charities were wiped out, the life savings of entire families were lost, and innocent lives were ruined in a tragedy that is a failure of morality, a failure of regulation, a failure of unbridled capitalism, and a failure of common sense.

Bernard Madoff, prominent Wall Street trader and former head of NASDAQ, perpetuated a $50 billion Ponzi scheme on his formerly wealthy investors.

The size of the loss is mind boggling—three times the size of the proposed bailout of the U.S. automakers. Madoff’s entire investment fund has been a lie for decades, and the immorality of his actions is incomprehensible. Madoff was well respected by the Wall Street investment community, a prominent philanthropist, and part of the wealthy high society crowd located in West Palm Beach. This begs the question, if this man has been running a scam for decades, how many others are out there doing the same? Read more ..

America's Economic Collapse

Is America In Decline?

December 15th 2008

Economy - Home Foreclosure

Indications are that the United States has reached its peak and is on a downward slope. The U.S. government has taken measures in the last 11 months that appear as desperate attempts to keep propped up what many see as a dysfunctional, corrupt financial system. Have the alleged extreme socialist schemes implemented by President Bush, the Treasury, Federal Reserve, and Congress marked the climax of our great capitalist experiment?

There is still time to get our Republic back on its original capitalist path, but time is running short. It will take straight talk from our leaders, as well as intense political pressure from common citizens, politicians scared of losing their jobs, and Americans willing to change their ways and sacrifice for the good of the country.  Read more ..

Big Three Bailout

What Detroit Must Do For Our Money

December 8th 2008

Economy - Big Three CEOs
Wagoner, Nardelli, and Mulally

The CEOs of the Big Three returned to Washington to present their emergency plan in the hope that this time around Congress would replace the batteries on Detroit's life support system. What is far from clear is whether the patient is going to make it, and what, if anything, Americans will get in return for their tax dollars.

Pumping billions into the ailing industry would be a bad idea unless such a bailout provides not only a reasonable chance of recovery but also some assurance that automakers use the money to usher us into an era of global transportation that is no longer exclusively dependent on oil.

While oil prices are currently low in comparison to last summer's peak, a glimpse into the International Energy Agency (IEA) World Energy Outlook published this month confirms that this is merely a respite, and that sooner or later oil prices will rise to much higher levels. The IEA report examined the world's 800 top oilfields and reported an average annual depletion rate of 5.1 percent increasing to 8.6 percent in 2030. It stated that in order to meet future demand for oil, six new producerseach equal to Saudi Arabiawill have to be added to the global oil market between now and 2030. If such a gigantic amount of oil can be produced it would only be due to trillions of dollars of investment in new exploration and recovery, as well as the development of non-conventional sources of oil such as tar sands and oil shale. Read more ..

Inside Terror

Are We In A Real War Against Terrorism—Or Just Prosecuting Criminals?

December 1st 2008

Military - Guatanamo detainees
Detainees at Guantanamo Bay

The recent order by a federal judge to release five Algerian detainees from Guantanamo Bay prison reopens the complex debate about the principle of holding prisoners of war during wartime. But, and this may be even more important, it also reopens the debate inside the three branches of government in the United States over whether or not our nation is actually at war. 

The case at hand will certainly be discussed by legal specialists on both sides of the debate. Here is the chain of legal events that will be scrutinized: The first "civilian court" ruling-–for terrorism suspects who have challenged their detention–-found that the five men "could not be held indefinitely as enemy combatants." Thus, in this instance, U.S. District Judge Richard J. Leon has essentially informed the government that failing an official and legally declared war, one cannot detain individuals who have not been proven guilty of crimes or of material participation in terrorism.

Last summer, the Supreme Court granted the Guantanamo detainees (see the Boumediene case) "the right to challenge their imprisonment." The real statement was that since there is no legal basis for the War on Terror, the so-called "prisoners of war" are in fact detained under the principles of criminal law not the international law of war.


The Detroit Bailout

Denying Big Three a Bailout Can Be a Historic Opportunity to Get America off Oil and Save Detroit

November 24th 2008

Contributors / Staff - Edwin Black

The impulse to accede to political pressure and jobs blackmail from the Big Three for a $25 billion bailout offers America a historic turning-point opportunity. This is the country’s chance to both reform the auto industry and ignite a massive shift off of oil in one master stroke. How?

The $25 billion in lending should not go to the Big Three as a reward for consciously addicting this country to oil and subverting the alternatives.  A better idea is to allocate the same $25 billion in lending—but not to the Big Three. Instead, offer loans at rates as low as student loans to any American citizen or fleet manager willing to buy an alternative fuel, flex-fuel, open fuel standard, or alternative propulsion vehicle--new or retrofitted. This would provide an immediate incentive for Detroit and Torrance, California to spend the approximate $100 per vehicle necessary to make every car and truck a multi-fuel or open-fuel vehicle.

When we say open-fuel or multi-fuel, we are not talking about the governmental cash cow currently going to the corn ethanol-big oil combine. We are talking about fuel systems that can function on all forms of combustibles from methanol (the Chinese use 50 million gallons a year while we use none) to second generation biofuel such as cellulosic ethanol. There is already pending legislation advocating the open-fuel standard and the multi-fuel approach. Why wait?

At the same time, legislation should immediately eliminate the $.54 per gallon penalty tax assessed to every gallon of sugar cane ethanol that Brazil struggles to export to America’s Southeast. In the process, we should cut the $8 billion in government subsidies annually handed to the corn ethanol-big oil combine and use that money to both fund 25 percent of the bailout money and open a string of multi-fuel service stations throughout the country offering everything from compressed natural gas (CNG) to methanol to hydrogen to electric charging. Read more ..

The Detroit Bailout

OPEC and the Gasoline Companies Should Fund the Auto Bailout

November 17th 2008

Contributors / Staff - Marc
Marc J. Rauch

A few weeks ago, Congress approved a $25 billion aid package to the American car companies to help them design and build the vehicles of the future; cars and trucks that would utilize alternative fuel propulsion systems.
You’ll recall that around the same time that they agreed to provide this aid package to the carmakers, Congress debated and approved two other aid packages (one to insurance company AIG, the other to the banking and Wall Street firms that made such a mess of the financial and housing markets). These two bailout packages amount to about $800 billion.
Now, there is a movement afoot to allow the carmakers to shift the focus of the $25 billion alt-fuel vehicle aid package (from helping them create the next generation of alt-fuel vehicles to using the funds to shore up their poor general financial condition), and to provide at least an additional $25 billion in aid for the same cause.   
As I was leaving Detroit on Friday evening, after spending two days at the Propane Engine Fuel Summit, I listened to a local radio talk show host harangue his audience about those (in and out of Congress) who are against allowing the car companies to get off the hook (again) to develop cars and trucks that don’t rely on gasoline, and to award them the additional $25 billion for their financial debacle. “Is America going to just let the Big Three fail?” he screamed. “Don’t you stupid people realize what will happen to this country?”  Read more ..

America With No Plan for Oil Interruption

Canadian Diesel Shortage and Stalled Oilsands Renew Canola Biofuel Interest

November 10th 2008

Energy / Environment - Oil Sands

As the price of oil drops to around $60 per barrel and the pain subsides at the gas pump, drivers of the trucks and long haul carriers that carry 90 percent of the consumer goods across Canada are feeling just the opposite.

In a country of enormous petroleum resources, refinery shut-downs have caused diesel shortages that have put a vice-grip on the Canadian trucking industry. This supply constraint has threatened to create shortages of everything from holiday consumer goods to food on the grocery store shelves. This diesel shortage combined with the slowing pace of development in Canada's oilsands development remind us that alternatives to petroleum diesel should be pursued with vigor.

Ironically, that's as true in one of the world most oil-rich countries - Canada - as it is in a more energy-security sensitive country such as the U.S.

Planned and unplanned shutdowns and upgrades at three refineries in the petroleum-rich province of Alberta have caused the fuel supply shortfall that began in late September 2008. Suncor's 260,000 barrel per day Northern Alberta oilsands plant that supplies diesel to the wholesale market went down on an unplanned outage in early October. Petro-Canada's 135,000 barrel per day Edmonton refinery has had its major diesel producing unit off line since the summer. Imperial Oil's 187,000 barrel per day refinery in Strathcona, Alberta, was the last to go down after it could not wait until the other diesel producing refineries were back on line to begin its scheduled maintenance.  Read more ..

Kicking our Oil Addiction

California's Prop 10 May Be A Vital Proposition For the Entire Nation

November 3rd 2008

Contributors / Staff - Marc
Marc J. Rauch

On November 4, California voters face a state-wide proposition that merits national consideration. It pivots off the interests of T. Boone Pickens, poster boy for American-grown alternative fuel and energy solutions, and because the outcomes will probably impact how other states handle similar questions. Proposition 10 would authorize the raising of $5 billion via the issuance of General Obligation state bonds. The funds would be used to “stimulate” alternative fuel activity in the State of California. Several key green players, including Plug In America, the Union of Concerned Scientists, and key public sector unions, as well as some daily newspapers vocally oppose the measure.

But after the necessary fact checking, I remain firmly convinced that opposition to this initiative is ill-founded, self-serving, and ironically inconsistent with the overall goals of the “green” groups that are part of the opposition.


The primary protest against Prop 10 surrounds T. Boone Pickens and his “Pickens Plan.” Opponents characterize his efforts as evil. Clearly, they harbor abject dislike for the man. One writer at the Huffington Post who seems to go out of his way to find fault with anything related to Boone Pickens, replied to a query declaring, “Yes, I do [go out of my way to be critical]…because he is a slimy snake-oil salesman.”

Specifically, the anti-10 choir believes that under Prop. 10, a "clean alternative fuel vehicle" doesn't have to be any cleaner than current gasoline or diesel vehicles. Opponents believe that CNG is being unfairly positioned by the legislation over alternative fuel and energy sources offering better environmental results. CNG vehicles, critics assert, are too limited in their range between fill-ups and filling stations are either non-existent or inconvenient, thereby being consumer unfriendly. Critics counter that we need pollution-free plug-in vehicles, powered by renewable domestic energy, from GM, Toyota, Nissan and other major automakers. Otherwise, Prop 10 won’t reduce emissions and we would still be reliant on foreign oil from people that want to kill us. Read more ..

Bad Arolsen Conflict

USHMM and Paul Shapiro Offer Spurious Excuses to Holocaust Survivors While Monopolizing Archive Access

October 27th 2008

Jewish Topics - Bad Arolsen stacks

Recently, the International Tracing Service at Bad Arolsen, Germany, also known as the ITS, issued a press release declaring:

“ITS has scanned and indexed over 6.7 million documents (around 13 million images) concerning forced labor during the Nazi regime and immediate post-war period. The digitalization serves the protection and conservation of the original documents.”

The release explains, “These [documents] primarily include employment records of slave laborers, patients’ files and insurance documents, as well as registry cards from the authorities, health insurance agencies and employers. In addition, the ITS also scanned lists that had been compiled in early 1946 by command of the Western Allies. All German municipalities had to report the residency of foreigners and German Jews during World War II to the allied tracing service bureaus. The lists contain details of places of residence, employers, employment periods, marriages, births and gravesites.”

The ITS adds, “Over 70 percent of the documents stored at ITS have been able to be scanned and indexed so far. Digitalization of the entire archive is expected to be completed in 2011.”

The release explains, “The documents being handed over today are original files from the Nazi period that concern individual people.” Read more ..

Election Edge

Take Back the Airwaves With Campaign Advertising Reform

October 20th 2008

Contributors / Staff - Liz Black headshot
Elizabeth Black

If you hate the negative campaign ads sweeping the airwaves this week, now is the time to think how to prevent this same scenario from reoccurring four years from now. Savvy political consultants have informed us that with three weeks to go before the presidential election, we can expect two weeks of increasingly nasty negative ads, then the last week we’ll see more sedate tactics as the candidates try to stress statesmanship and appear “presidential” so as not to leave a bad taste in the voters’ mouths just before they head out to the voting booth.

Call me naïve, but I don’t think the usual tactics will work this year. The pundits scoff at people who say Americans are tired of negative ads, reminding us that if negative ads didn’t work, politicians wouldn’t use them. They say we complain about the tone of the campaign but privately love it when things get nasty. I’m not buying it. At a time when our economy is going down the toilet, the attacks, name-calling and guilt by association seem petty. This time I think it’s the campaign strategists who are being naïve. I’m not sure they understand what is going on outside their war rooms.

But looking to the future, the American people should take back the public airwaves and demand respectfulness from their political candidates, and I’m not just talking about the presidential contenders. Read more ..

Edge on Iran

Ahmadinejad: The Man Who Wants To Change The World

October 6th 2008

Contributors / Staff - Micah Halpern headshot
Micah Halpern

Ahmadinejad is many things but he is far from crazy.

The present and future ruler of Iran is totally in control of his faculties. Thinking of him as raging lunatic is a serious mistake; thinking of him as an out-of-control maniac, a serious miscalculation.

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is dangerous, very dangerous. Not because he is deranged, but because he has a brilliant grasp of the way the world works. And the way the world works is not the way Ahmadinejad wants it to work. So Ahmadinejad wants to change the world.

It’s that simple.

To discount Ahmadinejad because he rants and raves and makes statements that are so outside the realm of believable that he sounds crazy only puts us, his non-believers, at risk. To minimize his power and his importance as the conveyer of ideas to his many followers, is to misunderstand the power that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad truly wields.

There are people who trust his word and believe his rhetoric. There are people who have fallen under the mystique he has created about himself. But there aren’t enough people like that. Ahmadinejad is trying to drum up more followers, more believers, and to achieve that aim, he ratchets up his rhetoric. Read more ..

Religious Freedom

Driving The Point Home -- Responding to Ahmadinejad

September 29th 2008

Contributors / Staff - Abraham Foxman Color cropped
Abraham Foxman

Before Mahmoud Ahmadinejad delivered a hate-filled diatribe at the opening session of the General Assembly, there should not have been any doubt that the Iranian regime poses a true threat to Israel, the United States and the West. Ahmadinejad was already the owner of a long history of belligerent anti-Israel, anti-US, rhetoric and Holocaust denial, while his country flies in the face of international sanctions by actively pursuing nuclear weapons. After the speech, it was decidedly clear that the international community must strengthen its resolve to deal with this menace.

During his remarks, Ahmadinejad’s rabid anti-Semitism was on full display for the world to see, as his words echoed the most infamous passages of the “Protocols of the Elders of Zion.” He blamed Jews as the source of upheaval in the economy and in international conflicts, and declared that America and Israel would soon collapse. Ahmadinejad accused “a small but deceitful number of people called Zionists” for dominating financial and political centers in Europe and the U.S. in “a deceitful, complex and furtive manner.” He also accused Jews of playing an “underhanded” role in the crisis in Georgia, and reiterated his call for the demise of the “Zionist regime” and the establishment of a Palestinian state in all of Israel.

He tried to present the Islamic Republic of Iran as a beacon of moderation and justice, while urging nations to aspire to higher values of justice and love. In reality, the Iranian regime rejects these very values in word and in deed. Iran’s record on human rights is appalling. Its unrelenting pursuit of nuclear weapons and repeated calls for the downfall of the United States promotes a culture of hate, not of love. By frequently sounding calls for “death” to America and Israel, the Iranian regime promotes a culture of hatred for the West and a worldview that is hostile to all freedom-loving nations. Read more ..

USHMM’s Archival War Against Survivors

USHMM Keeps Red Cross Records Away from Victims Even as Holocaust Survivors Demand the Museum Share

September 22nd 2008

Jewish Topics - Bad Arolsen stacks
Bad Arolsen stack

On Monday, September 8, 2008, a lecture was given at the Rosenthal Institute, at the Graduate Center CUNY in NYC. The topic: “Unlocking the Past: Opening the International Tracing Service Archive.”

The speakers, Arthur S. Berger and Michael Goldman, represented the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. Explaining to the audience some background on the ITS (International Tracing Service) archives, they defended the slow pace and the museum’s difficulties in arranging, categorizing, and digitizing millions of documents, many of which are handwritten. In addition to the material from Bad Arolsen, newfound material must be incorporated as well. To date, they have CAMP and GHETTO records (received in 2007), FORCED LABOR FILES (2008), and DP CAMP MATERIALS (expected in 2010). Flyers were distributed. Requests are to be submitted online or mailed to the museum. Survivors were assured that they will be welcomed to visit and assist in the search of their respective materials.

This lecture was met with high hopes by the survivors in the audience. For years, the Red Cross and other services came up with scant information. A real opportunity has opened up to provide a measure of closure.

Unfortunately, the Q & A period was a resounding letdown. Only ONE American copy of these records exists. It is in the hands of the museum, and they are not willing to share. New York and Miami are large centers populated by survivors. Many libraries and colleges/universities with savvy computer experts would love to train historians, give workshops, and find willing volunteers. The museum’s judgment to hold onto this material, and the inflexibility of sharing, is troublesome. The USHMM was created for understanding this terrible period in human history. Technological advances directly benefiting the survivors should and must be utilized as soon as possible. Read more ..

Election Edge

What's Wrong With McCain's "Palin Strategy?"

September 15th 2008

Books - S.E. Cupp
S.E. Cupp

John McCain’s selection of Alaska Governor Sarah Palin as his vice presidential running mate has brought out a number of interesting positions opposing the pick. People from all walks of life, but mostly one side of the aisle, are examining McCain’s selection and critiquing it for its seeming “strategy,” which, if you read between the lines, is a pseudonym for “cheap ploy.”

Since when is “strategy” a bad thing, especially in a contest? Football coaches, corporate executives, ad agencies, military generals and chess players the world over would be nothing without strategy, and we’d chastise them for ignoring it. Yet, John McCain makes a strategic choice in running mate, and it’s seen by some as dirty or patronizing.

Consider the following detractors, and their arguments against McCain’s veep strategy:

The frighteningly mature and silver-tongued 13-year-old daughter of a friend of mine, upon hearing the news said, “What do they think, women are stupid?  They choose an inexperienced person from Alaska and expect women to automatically vote for McCain just because he picks any old bimbo?” Read more ..

Election Edge

Race And Gender Politics Are Dead

September 8th 2008

Contributors / Staff - Star Parker right crop
Star Parker

Who would have ever thought, when we were dozing off in the middle of John McCain's presidential campaign, that he'd reel in Sarah Barracuda and change the game overnight?

"Barracuda," of course, was what they called Gov, Sarah Palin when she was a star point guard on her high school basketball team.

I'm not fond of sweeping pronouncements suggesting that any development is "historic" or will "change things forever"but this time I'm giving into temptation.

This presidential campaign is historic and will change things forever.

We've a black man on the Democratic ticket and a white woman on the Republican ticket, and both are out of the mold of conventional race and gender politics. The result will be, if not the end of race and gender politics, then certainly the beginning of the end.

The irony of the Obama candidacy is that it did not begin to soar until it was clear to blacks that this was not business-as-usual black politics. This was much different from electing a black candidate in a racially gerrymandered district that practically guarantees that a black is elected.

Consider the contrast between Obama and now ex-Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick. Read more ..

Global Economics and America

Understanding Shariah Finance and Islamic Banking in American Finance

September 8th 2008

Islamic Topics - Shariah Finance

The Middle East, with its exotic tropical sirocco winds, is also now the haven and leader of a new form of finance that is enticing the world with the alluring scent of its petrodollars. Substantial profits are to be made, and gold plated Bentleys, mansions on the Palm Jumerah Island, and golf courses designed by Tiger Woods only add to the mystique behind the veils. However, more than Dubailand and dreams of riches lurk behind the Islamic ideologues who invented the concept of Islamic Finance, and they are ones who are promoting this form of "interest-free, Muslim friendly, ethical investment" worldwide.

From behind the walls of opulent palaces and banks, there are many people with militant backgrounds who are seeking to promote this new type of religious finance to spread a form of militant Islam throughout western civilization. That militancy, they believe, can be financed by co-opting American financial institutions. Many in this movement wish to replace traditional western capital systems with Islamic economic values.

Islamic Finance was conceived by the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt in the 1920s. Decades later, it is a viable modality for spreading the Islamist movement of Jihad against the West.

To understand the concepts of Shariah one needs to understand and the doctrines that Shariah compliancy commands. Strict Shariah adherence is the sole criterion of whether a financial institution can be deemed “Islamic.” When HSBC, Citibank, or Deutsche Bank open “Islamic Windows” those are not just another place to deposit money. The banking operation must adhere to constants common to all Islamic banking institutions. Read more ..

Edge on China

China's Yellow Brick Road Rise to Global Superpower

September 1st 2008

Contributors / Staff - Armstrong Williams Headshot
Armstrong Williams

Modern China has always posed a perplexing question for the West. From the Western perspective, China is a closed society, whose greatest symbol is a wall designed to keep invaders out. However, rather than using its isolation to protect and nourish its people, the Chinese government has ruthlessly suppressed political freedom, and all but stamped out cultural expression. Why, one wonders, would China go through such lengths to defend itself, when on the other hand it seems to want to destroy the very thing worth preserving?

The debate about China in the West has been largely speculative and intensely ideological over the last half century. Speculation arose because of the West’s relative ignorance of Chinese civilization, its traditions and aims.  However, because it was aligned with the Soviet Union during the cold war, the West believed that China was an expansionist empire that threatened to thwart democratic progress in Asia. So much so in fact that the United States fought proxy wars in Korea and Vietnam hoping to halt the spread of communism. A closer look at China in the post-cold war years reveals a much different picture: it reveals a country facing inward to develop the brains, heart and courage to make the most of the modern world.

While China’s inexorable economic advance over the past two decades has made it now a force to be reckoned with, doubts about its true strength have remained prevalent. Despite evidence to the contrary, Westerner’s assumed that China’s economy would not really thrive unless it began to adopt Western-style democracy, observe international human rights conventions, and develop the technological proficiency to begin producing specialized, non-commodity goods.All of this has proven to be false. Read more ..

The Lingering Disaster in Burma

Reign of Terror in Burma Requires Genuine U.N. Action - Not Just Official Visits

August 25th 2008

Burma - Burmese Generals
Burma's Generals

On July 27, Nhkum Hkawn Din, a 15 year-old school girl in Kachin State, northern Burma, was brutally gang-raped and then murdered by Burma Army soldiers. Her skull was crushed beyond recognition, her eyes gouged out, her throat cut, she was stabbed in her right rib cage and stomach, and all her facial features were obliterated. Her body was found after a three-day search, naked and mutilated, 200 meters from an army checkpoint near Nam Sai village, Bamaw District. She was on her way to bring rice to her brother.

Against this backdrop, UN special envoy Ibrahim Gambari has just completed another visit to Burma last week for more talks with the country’s brutal, illegitimate military regime. But instead of taking the regime to task for human rights violations, he spent two days talking with the regime and its cronies, and just twenty minutes with the leaders of Burma’s democracy movement, the National League for Democracy (NLD). Even though his previous visits have yielded no change in the junta’s behavior, and Burma’s human rights record continues to deteriorate, Gambari rejected calls from activists to drop the diplomatic niceties and photo-calls and set out unambiguously the requirements for change. Read more ..

Election Edge

Brown Skin, White Mask—Obama’s Racial Awakening

August 11th 2008

Contributors / Staff - Armstrong Williams Headshot
Armstrong Williams

Black conservatives are flirting with the idea of supporting Senator Obama’s campaign for president. While the media has assumed it’s because of Obama’s race and curb appeal, everyone seems to be overlooking the deeper issue they might actually have in common—each has undergone a racial reawakening that has put them at odds with the mainstream civil rights establishment.

Although Obama is classically liberal on most issues, he has taken the audacious step of moving beyond traditional racial politics in order to inherit the mantle of an American populist. He has been tried by fire in the national media for his affiliation with racialist political ideologues. In making a firm choice to disavow the politics of victimization – as difficult as it was for him apparently – Obama now joins the august ranks of those public figures who are often ostracized by the American black establishment.

The son of an African immigrant, Obama does not share the legacy of slavery and oppression in this country with most Americans who happen to be black. His forefathers never picked cotton in the brutal South, and his grandmother never had to sit on the back of the bus. He writes of feeling outcast from the circle of black elites he encountered in Ivy League and other elite institutions. Though he shared their skin color, he could not quite share their struggle. In order to fit in, he went the extra mile. He joined a radical black church in Chicago after law school and became, literally, a born-again Negro. By eschewing the usual high-powered law firm job in favor of community organizing, Obama further solidified his street credentials. But ultimately, this was not enough. When asked to take the final, incorrigible step of damning America, he refused to drink the Kool-Aid. Read more ..

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