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Jewry on Edge

European Jews: Time to Wake up Now

December 2nd 2012

European Anti-Semitism

The time has come for European Jews to pull their heads out of the sand, face reality and ask themselves honestly whether there can be any meaningful prospects for their children to remain proud Jews in societies which have reverted to treating them as pariahs.

Less than seventy years ago the soil of Europe was drenched in Jewish blood. Orchestrated by Germany, considered the most cultured country in Europe, six million Jews were brutally murdered in a meticulously planned genocidal campaign. The vast majority of Germans and citizens of Nazi-occupied territories either collaborated or closed their eyes as millions of their Jewish neighbors were deported and systematically exterminated.

After that terrible era the call went out “Never Again”. Yet just a few decades later, the evil winds of visceral anti-Semitism are again raging throughout Europe with the addition of the nation state of the Jews acting as surrogate to the conventional demonization of individual Jews. For many Jews, it now directly impacts on the fundamental quality of their daily secular and interpersonal lives. Read more ..

Broken Government

Reid Versus McConnell

December 1st 2012

Harry Reid

One of the highest-stakes games of poker in Senate history is now unfolding between Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), who on the issue of filibusters is not inappropriately compared to the Jimmy Stewart character in “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington,” and Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.), who has abused the filibuster more than any leader of any party in the history of the Senate.

As a reelected President Obama prepares two powerful presentations to the nation in his inaugural and State of the Union addresses, the reputation of the Senate lies in tatters. The Senate is viewed as a gridlocked and impotent institution more akin to a Third World banana republic than the great deliberative body envisioned when Thomas Jefferson first wrote his Senate rules. The reason is the destruction of comity and respect for majority rule caused by the grotesque and unprecedented abuse of the filibuster by Senate Republicans. My advice to McConnell is to offer a bipartisan proposal to reform the filibuster rules by mutual agreement, in line with the historical precedents of the Senate, without forcing Democrats to resort to the “nuclear option,” which is best avoided if possible but employed if necessary.  Read more ..

Gaza and Israel

The Arab Atrocity Story Again, and Again, and Again

November 30th 2012

Hamas head

In the last two or three weeks, we have heard more stories from  Gaza about  Israel killing or hurting “innocent” Arabs or Western journalists. Hamas leader Ismail Haniyyeh took both the Egyptian prime minister and the Tunisian foreign minister to visit the dead body of a boy who was supposedly killed by  Israel so that the three leaders could symbolically dip their hands in the boy’s blood and condemn  Israel for murdering an innocent “martyr.”

Arabs from North Africa to the  Persian Gulf saw pictures of the child’s blood brandished on Arab TV and the front pages of Arab newspapers. Then it turned out the boy was killed when a Hamas rocket, launched at  Israel , misfired and landed on the boy’s house. Arab TV and Arab newspapers did not publish retractions.

That is because the Arab atrocity story is a best seller, but one should treat the Arab authors—the PLO, Hizballah, Hamas (and the journalists who often work with them or are used by them) —with great, great skepticism. When they cry “Israeli murder !!!” we should be careful not to get caught up in their narrative. “Ya-da ya-da ya-da”—as  Jerry Seinfeld  used to say. Read more ..

Edging Toward the Fiscal Cliff

Dems Can’t Have It All

November 30th 2012

Capitol Hill

Somebody better tell the Democrats they can’t have it all. Yes, President Obama was reelected, but no, he doesn’t have a mandate for denying our fiscal crisis. Yes, Republicans will compromise on new taxes on the wealthy, but no, that new revenue is not enough to get us off the cliff.

As each day Republicans give more — from talk of ditching Grover Norquist’s no-new-taxes pledge to Oklahoma Republican Rep. Tom Cole’s call for Republicans to join Democrats in extending all tax cuts for those making $250,000 or less each year — Democrats dig in. They won’t budge on entitlement reform. No way. But they want a debt-ceiling increase. All at once.

How? With 33 days to go, Democrats have not proposed one spending cut. Yet the unions, the teachers and MoveOn.org are running ads about the need to block any changes to social programs. Republicans want to raise revenues by capping deductions and closing loopholes; Democrats — including Obama — say that won’t amount to enough money. Though Republicans have publicly declared they won’t raise income tax rates, they privately concede they will likely be forced to relent on rates if Obama moves the threshold for tax increases from those earning $250,000 to $500,000 or higher. Read more ..

Broken Economy

Why Don’t U.S. Exports Create More Jobs?

November 29th 2012

Employee applications

When President Bill Clinton was trying to persuade Congress to pass the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) in 1993, administration officials frequently made the claim that each additional $1 billion in exports would produce 17,000 new jobs in the United States. Implicit in the claim was the idea that NAFTA and other free trade agreements would trigger a big growth in exports, and that exports would be an engine of job creation.

The claim turned out to be half true. U.S. exports to Mexico surged, growing nearly 400 percent since 1993, and Mexico is today the second largest recipient of U.S. exports after Canada. Overall, the value of U.S. exports to the world has increased nearly three-fold, from $627 billion in 1993 to $1.65 trillion last year. But the promised job growth never came; the number of U.S. jobs supported by exports is up only marginally from 1993, and is roughly the same number as existed in the mid-1990s.  Read more ..


Amb. Rice Meeting with Lawmakers a Waste of Time

November 28th 2012

Susan Rice

Tuesday's much-anticipated closed-door meeting between a key member of the Obama administration and Republican lawmakers turned out to be a bust for getting the facts behind the alleged Benghazi-consulate cover up by members of the State Department, the CIA and the Defense Department.  Several members of the Senate and House denounced the meeting as being a waste of time.

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice on met with three Republican senators who have criticized her comments about the Sept. 11, 2012, terrorist attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi, Libya. "I want to say that I'm more troubled today," Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) said after she and fellow GOP Sens. John McCain (R-AZ) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) met with Mrs. Rice for an hour on Capitol Hill. The CIA's Acting Director Michael Morell accompanied Rice to the meeting. Read more ..

The Defense Edge

Can US Keep Pressure on Persian Gulf?

November 28th 2012


Iran. Gaza. Syria. Political opposition in the Emirates and adjoining states. The Persian Gulf region simmers and America may have only one carrier group deployed there at the end of this year. Should we worry?

Let's examine the puzzle. The USS Nimitz's planned deployment to the Persian Gulf may be delayed. That is raising concern, since the Navy will be down to just one carrier in the region during the months of December and January.

But are carrier groups the only agents of US influence in the region? The U.S. Air Force has numerous bases and installations from which it operates. Indeed, Air Force tactical air is a key part of any joint air operations, while the real threat the United States poses to Iran's nuclear ambitions comes from Air Force heavy bombers and their massive ordinance loads, which are operated by Global Strike Command and based in the continental U.S., as well as in the region. Similarly, any theater air operations will be dependent on Air Force tankers in the skies off the battlefield. Read more ..

Oil Addiction

Our Handling of Keystone Is a Smack in Canada's Face

November 28th 2012

Keystone Protest

The Keystone XL (KXL) pipeline, which would bring oil from Canada's oil-sands to refiners in the Gulf Coast is in the news again. An unlikely set of bedfellows have recently come out with strong statements of support for the pipeline. The American Petroleum Institute says exit polls during the last election showed 75 percent of Americans support building KXL. A bipartisan group of 18 senators also favors it, calling on the administration to issue a Presidential Permit as soon as Nebraska finishes re-routing the planned pipeline, a process that's nearly complete. And the Laborer's International Union of North America also wants KXL, arguing that there's "no rationale for further delay."

Standing foursquare against Keystone XL is the environmental lobby, led by the peripatetic Bill McKibben, of 350.org, a group devoted to limiting the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere to 350 parts per million, the level they feel will only lead to moderate warming. McKibben's been dashing around the country in a biodiesel-fueled bus, warning of the perils of greenhouse gases and the Keystone pipeline. He also held an anti-Keystone rally in Washington on November 18th, that while smaller than previous such rallies, still attracted "hundreds" of supporters, according to Reuters. Read more ..

The Congo on Edge

Crisis in Democratic Republic of Congo

November 27th 2012


The crisis in the Middle East has attracted a great deal of international attention and emotions. Regardless of which position one takes, it is quite understandable why the situation demands attention. The security of the state of Israel is of great concern and so is the suffering of her people and those affected by the conflict in the region. Likewise, the internal conflict in Syria has dominated news for the better part of the year. Again, the deaths and suffering of innocent people does warrant such attention.

In the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), a major crisis resulting in untold human suffering has been unfolding for the last few months, but has received scant attention in the media. Even worse, there have been no major international efforts to deal with it. There are some United Nations peacekeeping forces, but their mandate is limited, and they have not been able to halt the escalation of the conflict. Although the crisis in the DRC has a long history, the current escalation has the potential to generate into one of the most serious humanitarian crises in Africa. Read more ..

Broken Healthcare

Health Insurance Industry Greed--Obamacare Will Rein it In

November 27th 2012

medicine and money #2

Although it’s a few days past Thanksgiving, I’m still feeling grateful, even to much maligned federal employees. Last week bureaucrats at the Department of Health and Human Services did us a big favor by resisting pressure from insurance company executives. Those executives wanted to keep charging some of us more than others and to keep selling policies that offer far less coverage than we need.

HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius reaffirmed last week that starting in 2014, insurance firms will not be able to discriminate against us nearly as much as they can now because of our age, gender and health status. And they won’t be able to sell policies with deductibles that are unreasonably high and benefits that are dangerously skimpy.

Among the long-awaited Obamacare regulations from HHS were those that further define the “essential health benefits” that health plans must offer in the future and that limit the amount of money we will have to pay out of pocket if we get sick or injured.


The Edge of Terrorism

Amnesty International And Hamas

November 26th 2012

Hamas Kid

The current conflict between Hamas (and other terrorist groups) and Israel has brought out the worst  in Amnesty International. Amnesty has taken a position that can only be called anti-Israel, treating the terrorists and Israel with an “evenhandedness” that bespeaks deep biases. The story is well told at the web site of NGO Monitor, an NGO set up precisely to catch self-proclaimedly neutral human rights organizations doing just what Amnesty is doing: taking sides, and in this case taking sides with terrorists. As NGO Monitor summarizes: 1) During the weeks of escalation in rocket attacks prior to the Israeli response, Amnesty International failed to issue a single statement condemning the firing of scores of rockets by Hamas and other Palestinian terror groups at Israeli civilians in southern Israel, demonstrating Amnesty’s lack of regard for Israeli human rights. 2) Amnesty has repeatedly blamed Israel alone for “re-igniting the conflict.”

Amnesty asks for two remarkable things in its November 19th statement. One is for the International Criminal Court to take up the Goldstone Report and seek war crimes prosecutions based on it. No notice whatsoever is taken by Amnesty of Goldstone’s own “reconsideration” (largely a recantation) of his own report, in which he notes that: We know a lot more today about what happened in the Gaza war of 2008-09 than we did when I chaired the fact-finding mission appointed by the U.N. Human Rights Council that produced what has come to be known as the Goldstone Report. If I had known then what I know now, the Goldstone Report would have been a different document." Read more ..

Operation Pillar of Defense

When Rockets Are Just ‘Bee Stings’ For The Washington Post

November 26th 2012

Apartment rockets

You can safely bet the ranch on it: When a Washington Post writer dismisses thousands of rockets as not much more than “bee stings” on a “bear’s behind,” the country that is targeted with these rockets is Israel.

The callous dismissal of the roughly 12 000 rockets and mortars that have been raining down on Israel’s south and its 1 million residents in the past 12 years – yes, on average a thousand attacks a year – is all the more outrageous when you consider that it comes from the Washington Post’s ombudsman Patrick Pexton. Officially, Pexton “represents readers who have concerns or complaints on topics including accuracy, fairness, ethics and the news-gathering process. He also serves as The Post’s internal critic and strives to promote public understanding of the newspaper, its Web site and journalism more generally.”

With his response to criticism of a recent front page photograph showing a grief-stricken father from Gaza holding the shrouded body of his infant son, Pexton certainly succeeded in giving the public a glimpse of the multiple biases that apparently guide his own work when it comes to Israel’s efforts to defend its citizens against bombs and terrorism. Read more ..

The Vote Aftermath

Reasons for Conservatives to Be Thankful

November 25th 2012

Statue of Liberty

There are plenty of things to be thankful for this week, and this year as well.

Yes, after our country’s recent elections, big government remains the rule here in the United States and throughout the West. Yet the language used by the candidates (both talked of reducing federal spending and creating jobs, for example) and the closeness of the race proved that, in the U.S. at least, conservatism remains a powerful force.

Conservative thinkers present a compelling, principled alternative to liberal ideas. Right-leaning politicians retained control of the House of Representatives, where they’ll control all spending bills and be able to push back against the expansion of government. Conservative governors will run 30 states and can use their offices to thwart federal overreach. Many governors, for example, have already announced they won’t set up Obamacare insurance exchanges, which will save the states money and may doom the entire federal power grab. Read more ..

Broken Travel

A Remedy for Air Travel Woes

November 23rd 2012

airport crowd

As the holiday season approaches, the major airlines are signaling to some passengers to take a hike. At least that’s what travelers might infer from the smaller number of flights being scheduled at many of the nation’s airports.

Between 2007 and 2012, airlines cut the number of domestic passenger flights by 14 percent, according to the Department of Transportation—with the biggest drops occurring at midsize and smaller regional airports. The five heartland hubs of Cincinnati, Cleveland, Memphis, Pittsburgh and St. Louis have lost a stunning 40 percent of their scheduled flights.

The reason is simple: airlines have decided that the best way to earn a healthy return on their investment is to maintain tight discipline on capacity. That’s a fancy way of saying they want their planes to fly as full as sardine cans. And the way they’ve been accomplishing this is by concentrating service on the big domestic and international markets and by cutting flights in smaller, less traveled ones. Read more ..

Operation Pillar of Defense

How Arab Forces Expect to Launch Losing Wars and Still Win

November 22nd 2012

Gaza Qasam Rocket

One of the most important things to understand about how the Middle East works is what I’ll call the suicide strategy. It can be described as follows: I will start a war that I cannot win in order to create a situation where the other side wrecks my infrastructure and kills my people. Then I will lose militarily but win the battle. How? By the following means:

• I’ll kill some people on the other side and do some damage to it. Since they are weaker and less brave than I am they will give up. The longer the war, the more likely they are to look for a way out even if that involves many concessions on their part. Using terrorism against their civilians reinforces this tactic.

• By suffering, and magnifying that suffering using a generally sympathetic Western media, I will make the other side feel sorry for me and oppose their own leaders who will be portrayed as bullying, bloodthirsty, and imperialistic.

• The specter of war, suffering, and especially civilian casualties, will drive the “international community” to press my adversaries to give in, stop fighting (even if I continue it on a lower level), let me survive, and even give me benefits. Read more ..

Obama's Second Term

The U.S. Pivot to Asia: Much More Than a Military Rebalance

November 21st 2012

Obama-Asian leaders

President Obama’s trip to Southeast Asia this week brings into sharp relief the challenges facing the administration: how to retain influence in the region and honor commitments to allies without provoking China or furthering suspicions of encirclement.

In numerous remarks and public statements President Obama’s cabinet have been on message stressing the need for balance. On November 15, the day before the president departed on his five-day trip, the National Security Advisor, Tom Donilon, reiterated the importance that the United States places on getting this balance right: “The United States is a Pacific power whose interests are inextricably linked with Asia’s economic, security, and political order. America’s success in the twenty-first century is tied to the success of Asia.”

On her recent trip to Australia and Thailand with Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, Secretary of State Clinton also presented a message of partnership and of U.S. neutrality regarding Southeast Asia’s territorial disputes. The Australia-U.S. Ministerial Meeting’s 2012 Joint Communique states: “We welcomed a strong, prosperous and peaceful China, which plays a constructive role in promoting regional security and prosperity.” And: “We reaffirmed that we do not take a position on competing territorial claims in the South China Sea.” Read more ..

Operation Pillar of Defense

Turkey’s Dangerous Game in Gaza

November 20th 2012

Turk flags

There was a fiery exchange at yesterday’s State Department briefing between the department’s spokeswoman, Victoria Nuland, and AP reporter Matthew Lee, over Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s latest verbal assault upon Israel. Here’s the key part of their back-and-forth:

LEE: You’re not telling us anything about… when the Turks come out, when the leaders of Turkey come out and say that Israel is engaged in acts of terrorism and you refuse to say that you don’t agree with that… maybe you do agree with that, that’s being silent.

NULAND: Matt, we have made a decision that we need to engage in our diplomatic work diplomatically, we have been very clear on where we stand on this. Which is that we don’t practice diplomacy from the podium. We have been very clear that Israel has the right of self-defense. Very clear that rockets continue to be fired and land on Israel. We’ve been very clear that we are working to get this conflict de-escalated. We have been very clear about our concern for the civilians and innocents on both sides who are getting caught in this… Read more ..

Operation Pillar of Defense

Egypt's Game Plan for Hamas

November 20th 2012

Mohamed Morsi Speaks at Press Conference

The visit of Egypt’s prime minister to Gaza last week, and a return visit promised for Tuesday, raises the question why President Morsi has not himself gone. Why send the little-known PM when a personal visit would presumably gain Morsi much more acclaim back home?

Here’s a theory: Morsi is the Muslim Brotherhood president of Egypt but he is still president of Egypt. He thinks of Egypt as a great nation and is not given to the kind of language we associate with Al Qaeda leaders or the Ayatollah Khomeini, about states all disappearing and Islam being all that is left. He wants Egypt to be, once again, a leader in Arab councils and in world politics. Read more ..


Benghazi Bloodbath: Clinton Must answer Questions

November 20th 2012

Hillary Clinton

While appearing on Fox News Channel on Monday, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) told anchor Megan Kelly that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton may testify before a senate panel in about two weeks to answer questions about embassy security and the bloodbath at a U.S. consulate that suffered from insufficient security.

During Sunday morning's television news shows, the primary focus of discussion was the testimony given on Friday by former CIA chief and retired four-star general, David Petraeus, and the bloody terrorist attack on the Benghazi, Libya, U.S. consulate. However, according to an expert in security management, very little attention is being paid to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's failure to heed the warnings contained in a congressional report on the subject of embassy security and safety released in July 2011.

"Secretary Clinton and her staff received a report regarding diplomatic security from the U.S. Congress but she and her staff appear to have ignored its findings and failed to implement its recommendations," said Thomas Sullivan, a security and safety expert. "Clinton said she took responsibility for what happened on Sept. 11, 2012, but then she refuses to make any statements regarding that incident." Read more ..

The Arab Winter of Rage

Libya, Palestinians, Anti-American Terrorism, Lebanon, Egypt

November 19th 2012

Anti US Terrorism

The most interesting developments in the Middle East aren’t in the news stories but can be discovered by analyzing those reports. Here are a few developing right now.

–The Libyan government gave 50 percent of the funds to finance the budget of the Muslim Brotherhood-dominated Syrian National Council (SNC) budget. Since Libya is very much a U.S. client, it’s reasonable to conclude that the Obama Administration encouraged this generosity. Yet this money was financing a Muslim Brotherhood front. A lot of arms have been flowing from Libya to Hamas and other terrorist groups in the Gaza Strip and to radical forces in Syria. Some claim that the U.S. government was coordinating that traffic though this has not yet been proven. The SNC has now been replaced by a new umbrella group whose role and even survival is still unproven. Read more ..

Trying to Get to Diversity

Disrupt the New Buzzword of Obamacare Opponents

November 19th 2012

medicine and money #2

Get ready to hear that word many times in the coming weeks, especially if you hang out inside the Washington beltway.

“Disruption” will be the new buzzword in an upcoming advertising campaign aimed at scaring us. The campaign is selling the idea  that millions of Americans will face higher premiums and possibly be forced into health plans with skimpier benefits — , i.e., disrupted — if Congress doesn’t repeal a provision of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) that raises money to pay for expanding coverage for the uninsured. 

The greed of the health insurance industry knows no bounds. Insurance companies will get billions of dollars in new revenue every year as a result of the health act’s requirement that, starting in 2014, we will have to buy coverage from private insurers if we’re not eligible for Medicare or Medicaid.

The Congressional Budget Office estimates that 32 million uninsured Americans will finally get coverage as a result of the law. While many will be newly eligible for the Medicaid program, millions of others will get subsidies from the federal government to help them buy private insurance. So insurance companies will get new premium revenue not only from individuals and families but also from the government. Read more ..

Operation Pillar of Defense

What Was Hamas Thinking?

November 19th 2012

Hamas headquarters Gaza

Can Hamas win militarily against Israel? Of course not, and while Hamas’ leaders are certifiably bad men, they are not obviously stupid.  But their aim isn’t to win, it’s to be relevant in the modern Middle East.

Look at what’s happening in Gaza from Hamas’ perspective. If you don’t care about human life, governance or infrastructure – and that was manifest well before the outbreak of current hostilities – then Hamas’ decision to launch a war on Israel might look like a winner. Think about it this way: Hamas split from Iran and Syria after Bashar al Assad began killing his own people with abandon. A period of coolness between Hamas and Tehran, once an ardent sponsor, began. The Iranian leadership didn’t appreciate Hamas’ moralizing over Assad. That meant finding a new political sponsor; Iran was still ok with arming the Palestinian terrorist group. Et voila, a new sponsor has emerged in Cairo. Turkey too. And Qatar, which had been there all along, but quietly. Read more ..

Operation Pillar of Defense

Western Elites Are Baffled by the Middle East

November 19th 2012

Hamas head

The new war between Hamas and Israel has a lot of important lessons for international diplomacy and U.S. policy today. It once again shows that a country, especially one faced by a hostile adversary who cannot be turned away by words or compromises, has limited choices. And in that case a government must do what it must do.

A key to the problem of Western comprehension of international realities is admirably summarized by a New York Times editorial on the subject: "No country should have to endure the rocket attacks that Israel has endured from militants in Gaza, most recently over the past four days. The question is how to stop them permanently."

The answer to that question is simple to understand, if not easy to implement. The attacks can only be stopped if Hamas is removed from power and replaced, given contemporary circumstances, by the Palestinian Authority (PA). The PA is certainly no prize, but that’s a reasonable goal for what is often referred to as the international community. Read more ..

The Economy on Edge

Next Housing Bailout? Big Trouble Brewing at the FHA

November 18th 2012

Home Foreclosure

There's a growing consensus in America that the long-suffering housing market has reached bottom and is now mounting a recovery. Housing starts surged 15 percent in September to their highest level in four years. New home sales in the same month rose 5.7 percent to their highest level in two years. And the Zillow Home Price Index shows that home prices are up 3.4 percent from a year ago.

While these are welcome trends, figures released today from the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) throw a sobering splash of cold water. FHA's FY 2012 Actuarial Study for its main single family program shows that its capital position has turned negative, by $13.5 billion. That's a shift of $23 billion in economic value in a single year, and it puts the 78-year-old agency $34.5 billion short of its legal capital requirement. If it were a private company, it would be shut down. Read more ..

Obama's Second Term

We have a National Crisis in Character

November 17th 2012

Rahm Emanuel and Barry

Here's an excerpt from a letter I received the other day from a college professor:

"Throughout this election I discussed with students the differences between ideologies. The majority of them are on federal financial aid. They are fine with more taxes as long as they will be taken care of. It is disturbing to hear that they are willing to spend their own money on tattoos and cellphones but cannot buy the book for class until the financial aid comes in." For those who see social conservatism as an annoyance and argue that Republicans must purge this agenda from their party to survive, I say: "Think again." If Republicans want revival, we need an honest focus on what's really wrong in America and what must be done to assure that a great nation will be standing for our grandchildren and great grandchildren. Read more ..

The Vote Aftermath

Election Fraud? Obama Won More Than 99 Percent Of The Vote In More Than 100 Ohio Precincts

November 16th 2012

Vote Buttons

Barack Obama received more than 99% of the vote in more than 100 precincts in Cuyahoga County, Ohio on election day. In fact, there were a substantial number of precincts where Mitt Romney got exactly zero votes.So how in the world did this happen? Third world dictators don't even get 99% of the vote. Overall, Mitt Romney received 30.12% of the vote in Cuyahoga County. There were even a bunch of precincts in Cuyahoga County that Romney actually won. But everyone certainly expected that Cuyahoga County would be Obama territory.

And in most of the precincts that is exactly what we saw large numbers of votes for both candidates but a definite edge for Obama.  However, there are more than 100 precincts in Cuyahoga County where the voting results can only be described as truly bizarre.  Yes, we always knew that urban areas would lean very heavily toward Obama, but are we actually expected to believe that Obama got over 99% of the votes in those areas?  In more than 50 different precincts, Romney received 2 votes or less.  Considering how important the swing state of Ohio was to the national election, one would think that such improbable results would get the attention of somebody out there.  Could we be looking at evidence of election fraud hidden in plain sight? Read more ..

America on Edge

Secession Petitions Roil Across America

November 16th 2012

Paper Stack

Citizens in more and more U.S. states are petitioning the federal government to allow them to secede from the United States, according to news stories aired on Fox News Channel on Thursday. By the time President Barack Obama celebrates Inauguration Day, citizens in all 50 states will be in the process of compiling their petitions and submitting them to the Obama White House with an ultimate goal of being allowed to peacefully secede from the union. While liberal-left pundits are ridiculing these petitions calling them attempts by the "far-right" to create disharmony between conservatives and liberals, the mainstream news media are beginning to cover this quiet rebellion by Americans who believe in states' rights.

For example, according to Drew Zahn of Christianity Today, Louisiana's secession petition has more than 14,000 signatures, more than halfway to the threshold needed after which the White House has pledged to respond. Texas, is another state to join the secessionists with about 25,000 signatures.


Great Britain on Edge

Islamic Sharia Law Comes to Great Britain

November 15th 2012

Shariah demonstration

Stoning for adultery. Amputations for theft. Death for apostates. And second-class status for Christians and Jews. This is life under Sharia law, the Islamic system practiced in countries like Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Great Britain. Yes, Great Britain.

There are reportedly some 85 Sharia courts now operating there, with Islamic judges ruling on cases ranging from financial to marital disputes among British Muslims.

"We went into some proceedings and there were a couple of Islamic judges sitting up above the rest," said Alan Craig, who recently stepped down as leader of the Christian Peoples Alliance party. "And there was one Muslim woman who was suing for divorce." Craig is a former city councilor in East London, home to several Sharia courts where women face open discrimination.

"A woman's witness value is half that of a man," Craig told CBN News. "So [the courts] will tend, therefore, to take the man's position in a divorce." Craig is working with Baroness Caroline Cox to pass a bill in Britain's House of Lords protecting women from this Sharia oppression. Read more ..

The Vote Aftermath

We Will Never Win Unless....

November 15th 2012

Obama Bowed Head

All the discussion here and elsewhere dominating GOP/conservative issues is playing small-ball, I fear. Forget elections, the only thing that matters from now on is reclaiming as much of the culture as we can. Immigration, taxes, demographics are important, but in terms of electoral success, they are symptoms, not causes of GOP decline. Without getting too bogged down in esoterica, it seems uncontroversial to say that, at the end of the day, politics is culture (and of course, political systems reflect the cultures from which they grow). If that’s the case, then we will be in ever greater danger at the national level unless we start winning on the cultural battlefield. Losing five of the last six popular votes for the presidency should be a wake-up call.

As Irving Kristol noted, the culture war is over, and we lost. We were driven out of the universities, surrendered popular culture, and hunted from the mainstream media (from which most Americans continue to get their news). But we better start opening up some new fronts, conducting guerilla warfare, and investing in long-term strategy to have just the hope of keeping even. We need to fully accept the fact that nearly two generations have grown up in a dominantly liberal culture outside the home. It’s not simply that many don’t agree with conservative positions, it’s that they reflexively think in mainstream liberal terms. Moreover, conservatives, and the GOP in particular, have been vilified for so long that large swaths of the country see us as no less than dangerous to American society.

The campus conservative movement was an important, but small, push back, along with its campus media focus. Groups such as ISI continue to fight on, but we are holding small bridgeheads, at best. The majority of the time we are on the defensive, outside of churches and some synagogues. We start from a position of weakness and have to expend most of our energy just getting to even. The ratings success of Fox doesn’t translate into broader cultural appeal; instead we are increasingly in our own echo chamber. Read more ..

After the Election

All Tax Increases Are Not Created Equal

November 14th 2012

John Boehner

In a speech immediately following the election, House Speaker John Boehner offered President Obama an olive branch on taxes: Republicans are open to raising more taxes to help close the budget deficit, Boehner said, but it must be through tax reform rather than raising tax rates. "Tax reform" is almost certainly a euphemism for broadening the tax base by eliminating deductions, which leave trillions of dollars in income untaxed. Is this a deal in the making? Perhaps. If you have to raise taxes, this may be the way to do it. But both Democratic and Republican mindsets stand in the way.

Most conservatives and Republicans oppose raising tax rates because of their negative effects on individual incentives and the economy. Economists call this a "substitution effect"-that is, raising marginal tax rates induces individuals to substitute working with leisure time. If the government is taking a greater share of each additional dollar you earn, many people will simply choose to spend more time with their family, on the golf course, or whatever. And even those people who continue to work will make greater efforts to hide their income from taxation, in particular by exploiting tax deductions. Economists argue over how large these effects are, but no one claims that raising marginal tax rates won't hurt the economy. Read more ..

Heathcare on Edge

Behavioral Psychology Has Delivered Votes: Now Health?

November 13th 2012


Obama's most significant health care-related accomplishment this year may well have been his campaign's demonstration of the effective use of analytics and behavioral insight - strategies that also offer exceptional promise for the delivery of care and the maintenance of health.

For starters, of course, there's the widely-reported "big data" success of the Obama campaign.  In unprecedented fashioned, they collected, mined, analyzed, and actioned information, microtargeting voters in a remarkably individualized fashion. Imagine if health care interventions could be personalized as effectively (or pursued as passionately).

Another example: According to the NYT, the Obama campaign hired a "dream team" of behavioral psychologists to burnish their message and bring out the vote, using a range of techniques the field has developed over the years.
According to the article, the behavioral experts "said they knew of no such informal advisory committee on the Republican side." Read more ..

Yeman on Edge

U.S.-Yemeni Terror Obsession Will Not Solve Yemen's Woes

November 13th 2012

Yemen Crisis

Among the world leaders who congratulated President Barack Obama for winning a second term last week was the Yemeni president, Abdrabu Mansur Hadi. From the Yemeni leader's point of view, the most important aspect of Mr Obama's reelection is perhaps the issue of the continuation of a U.S.-Yemeni war on terrorism.

In the congratulatory cable, President Hadi "reiterated that the Yemeni-American partnership will continue to advance and the cooperation in the fight against terrorism will progress." Mr. Hadi praised his American counterparts' "achievements in curtailing the threat of terrorism and highlighted the linkage between global interests with the performance of the U.S. administration". No other Yemeni subjects were raised in the cable. The prominence given to antiterrorism efforts in the U.S.-Yemeni relationship recalls the days of the old regime. Under Ali Abdullah Saleh, there was consistent controversy about whether the former president was sincere in his fight against Al Qaeda in the Arab Peninsula (AQAP), or was just manipulating the cause to secure more military aid and support to his regime. Read more ..

The UK on Edge

Man with Ties to Palestinian Islamic Jihad Set to Speak in UK House of Commons

November 12th 2012

Hamas head

A Palestinian man with alleged ties to terrorist organizations has been invited to speak in the UK House of Commons, and an opposition group has responded by calling for the UK to bar his entry into the country.

The event is being organized by the Palestine Solidarity Campaign and hosted by Jeremy Corbyn MP.

Mousa Abu Maria spent several years in prison in Israel because of his membership with the terrorist group Palestinian Islamic Jihad as well as for throwing stones and Molotov cocktails. In 2003 he was released as part of a prisoner exchange, and In 2008 he was placed in administrative detention, once again due to suspected connections to the PIJ.

Though Abu Maria claims he is no longer involved with Islamic Jihad, as recently as May he was pictured standing next to Khader Adnan, a member of Islamic Jihad, while holding a poster that declared support for Palestinian Islamic Jihad members Bilal Diab & Tha’er Hala. Read more ..

Obama and Israel

Israel and U.S. on a Collision Course?

November 11th 2012

Obama pointing finger at Netanyahu

Some 57 percent of Israeli Jews preferred Romney, only 22 percent Obama (in my sector of American Israelis it was even more lopsided, a full 85 percent having cast absentee ballots for the challenger, only 14 percent for the incumbent). So, naturally, for the most part, November 7, 2012 was not a day of celebration in Israel.

Israel, too, has elections coming up-on January 22. That has prompted speculations that Obama will now throw his weight behind Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s left-of-center challengers. There are precedents for it, most notably in 1999 when President Bill Clinton sent a team of PR strategists Stanley Greenberg, James Carville, and Robert Shrum to help out Ehud Barak, then challenging Netanyahu (in his earlier term) from the left. Barak won by a narrow margin.

The difference is that this time, according to all polls so far, the right-of-center bloc that Netanyahu heads will win at least as decisively as it did in 2009. The left-wing challengers (some of them again being helped by Greenberg ) are already crowing that the Netanyahu-Obama tensions are the former’s fault, and he thereby endangers Israeli-U.S. relations. Some say Obama will exploit this to stir fears among Israelis and shift the balance to the left. Read more ..

Islam on Edge

The Sunni-Shia Conflict Will Be The Major Feature of Middle East Politics for Decades

November 11th 2012

Mecca Hajj

Once upon a time, Arab nationalism ruled the Middle East. Its doctrine saw Arab identity as the key to political success. Some regarded Islam as important; others were secular. Yet there was no doubt that national identity was in charge. All Arabs should unite, said the radical nationalists who ruled in Egypt, Libya, Syria, Iraq, and elsewhere, to destroy Israel, expel Western influence, and create a utopian single state in the region.

Instead, of course, the period was characterized by battles among the radical Arab states for leadership. The less extreme ones sought survival through a combination of giving lip service to radical slogans, paying off the stronger regimes, and getting Western help. Read more ..

The Obama Edge

Seizing the Moment

November 10th 2012


Barack Obama, a historic president, defied history again Tuesday night to be reelected amid a climate of 7.9 percent unemployment, the kind that usually shows incumbent presidents the door. His records on healthcare reform and stimulus remain unpopular, and the anemic recovery convinced only 4 in 10 voters the country is on the right track. Obama won anyway.

Republicans are blaming Mitt Romney already for defeat. Tuesday morning he was the next president, a candidate so certain of victory he chose not to prepare a concession speech. But today he is a GOP punching bag, as Republicans, leaderless for four years running, search for someone to blame. Many conservatives were on the record months ago predicting Romney couldn’t make the sale: Ann Coulter and former Sen. Rick Santorum, for example. They will review Romney’s many mistakes, gaffes and missed opportunities, and the list is long. They will recall those days in the GOP primary race  in Romney’s sixth year of running for president — when Santorum, Herman Cain, Texas Gov. Rick Perry, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and Rep. Michelle Bachmann  all enjoyed leads over Romney. Read more ..

The Defense Edge

The US Can't Afford Not to Lead

November 9th 2012

Barack Obama in Thought

President Obama may believe he can abandon “nation-building abroad” to focus on “nation-building at home,” but that is what he would normally call a “false choice.”

In his next term he will face major challenges abroad, not just challenges of “nation-building” but threats to our national security: an unstable and nuclear-armed Pakistan; a possible Taliban take-over in Afghanistan; a potential Iranian nuclear capability threatening vital U.S. interests in the Persian Gulf and the security of Israel; the growing strength of anti‑American Islamist extremists in Syria in the absence of meaningful support for the non-Islamist opposition.

Libya does present a challenge of nation-building, but the U.S. has already suffered a major setback -- including the murder of a U.S. ambassador and three other Americans -- by leaving the new pro-American Libyan government unable to provide for that country’s security. Read more ..

Palestine on Edge

The Palestinian Conflict with Israel is Not the Core of the Middle East Conflict

November 9th 2012

Syrian Carnage

As Syria's civil war drags on, it is increasingly destabilizing its neighbors. First, hundreds of thousands of refugees poured over their borders; now, violence has as well. Turkey and Syria have repeatedly exchanged deadly cross-border fire; in Jordan, a soldier was killed in clashes with militants heading for Syria to join the fighting; in Lebanon, the assassination of a senior intelligence official considered close to the Syrian opposition sparked violent clashes in Beirut. Ironically, in fact, Syria's quietest border nowadays is with Israel - the one neighbor it's officially at war with. Despite occasional accidents (tanks straying into the demilitarized zone during the ongoing civil war, errant bullets and mortars), there has been no intentional violence across this border, and no casualties.

Yet in reality, this shouldn't be surprising; it's the logical outgrowth of a basic fact about the Middle East that is too often overlooked: Contrary to the popular perception that the region revolves around the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the truth is that Israel is irrelevant to most of the region most of the time, because it isn't a player in the nonstop jockeying for power among the Mideast's various Muslim sects and countries. Read more ..

The Vote Aftermath

Republicans Engage in Navel-Gazing Following Obama Victory

November 8th 2012

romney buttons

Republicans were in a soul-searching mood Wednesday, pondering their political future after President Obama won a resounding victory despite the stagnant economy and an approval rating routinely south of 50 percent. The 2012 election seemed to underscore the point many in the GOP most feared in 2008: Without improving numbers among Hispanic voters and women, and with a younger population becoming more socially liberal each year, the Republican Party risks marginalization in future presidential elections.

Further complicating efforts for Republicans was the one bright spot in an otherwise gloomy night: The party easily retained the House of Representatives on the back of their incumbents — a large faction of whom were elected by appealing to strongly conservative voters in home districts that have become increasingly polarized through the redistricting process. Read more ..

Education on Edge

Study Student Aid Before You Reform It

November 7th 2012


After four years of significant growth, the Pell Grant program faces in 2014 what has been called a "funding cliff." The looming shortfall has set off a heated debate about how to put the program—and our entire student-financial-aid system—on a path that is more sustainable and better serves students.

Behind the sound bites of the presidential election, many researchers, wonks, advocates, and foundations have become involved. This fall, for instance, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation awarded grants to an array of organizations tasked with reimagining the design and delivery of financial-aid programs. (I am a part of one project, organized by HCM Strategists.)

The discussions under way go beyond temporary fixes to financing issues; they are asking important questions about the future shape of financial aid. How can scarce money be allocated more efficiently? Can reforms help more students complete college while maintaining a commitment to ensuring them access to postsecondary education? Read more ..

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