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The Weapon's Edge

Are US Drone Strikes in South Asia, Middle East Ethical?

August 9th 2012

 The General Atomics MQ-9 Reaper

For many Americans, the use of armed drones is a necessity of our times. According to survey data, most see them as an integral part of the war on terror launched more than a decade ago in response to the September 11, 2001, attacks on the United States. On a global scale, however, Americans supportive of armed drone use, represent a minority viewpoint that is being increasingly challenged by those questioning both the ethics and the legality behind the use of such aircraft.

Officially defined as unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), drones have many applications, including civilian, but are today primarily associated with their military purpose of targeting and killing those whom the U.S. government defines as terrorists or their supporters in countries such as Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia. Armed drones were also in use in Iraq, but after American troops withdrew from the country late last year, the U.S. has reportedly limited the application of drones there to surveillance activities.

Unmanned aerial vehicle technology has been in the works for decades but became more refined in the 1990s. The first use of a drone in a targeted killing was recorded in Afghanistan in 2002. Read more ..


The 2012 Vote

The Real Poll Numbers

August 8th 2012

Detroit voters

The media is trying to create a sense of momentum and inevitability about the Obama candidacy. One benighted Newsweek reporter even speculated about a possible Democratic landslide. On Friday, I saw the real numbers. These state-by-state polls, taken by an organization I trust (after 40 years of polling), show the real story. The tally is based on more than 600 likely-voter interviews in each swing state within the past eight days.

The trend line is distinctly pro-Romney. Of the 13 states studied, he improved or Obama slipped in nine, while the reverse happened in only four. To read the media, one would think that Romney had a terrible month. In fact, the exact opposite is true. Romney is currently leading in every state McCain carried plus: Indiana, New Hampshire, Wisconsin, Nevada, North Carolina and Colorado. If he carries these states, he’ll have 228 electoral votes of the 270 he needs to win. Read more ..


America and the Muslim Brotherhood

Inside the Muslim Brotherhood in the West

August 8th 2012

The so-called Arab Spring has seen the Muslim Brotherhood rise to power in the Middle East and North Africa. But those aren’t the only regions where the group is spreading its influence: the Brotherhood has also been active in the West for decades. CBN News recently traveled to Europe to discover how the Muslim Brotherhood got here and what it has planned.

It’s an issue that continues to heat up on Capitol Hill. When Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., and four other GOP House members called for an investigation recently into Muslim Brotherhood infiltration of the U.S. government, they were widely criticized, even by some of their Republican colleagues.

Yet documents captured by the FBI show cleary that the Muslim Brotherhood is active in the United States. And Egypt’s new president, Mohammed Morsi, reportedly joined the group while he was a student at the University of Southern California in the late 1970s and early 80s.

Establishing a Toehold

The Brotherhood’s presence in the West, however, goes back much further than that. CBN News recently visited the Islamic Center of Munich, which many consider the birthplace of radical Islam in the West. It was there that the Muslim Brotherhood first established a presence in the West and spread its tentacles throughout Europe and the United States. “Initially, the mosque was an idea of the West Germans, who also wanted to harness Islam for its political purposes in the Cold War,” said Ian Johnson, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of A Mosque in Munich. “But the project was taken over by young students, mostly members or sympathizers with the Muslim Brotherhood.” Read more ..


The Obama Edge

Obama and 'Earning your Success'

August 7th 2012

Obama and Flag

Within the space of just two weeks, Americans have witnessed two radically different philosophies about the free enterprise system from President Obama. In his notorious Roanoke, Va., speech of July 13, he said "If you've got a business—you didn't build that. Somebody else made that happen." That is, Americans have not fully earned their success.

Backpedaling after a public outcry, the president insisted he had been misinterpreted, and that he is fully committed to the values of competition, merit, and opportunity. In a speech to the National Urban League in New Orleans on July 25, he asserted that "America says we will give you opportunity, but you've got to earn your success." The sentiments expressed in these two speeches are inconsistent. To find the truth, we need to look at the administration's actions. As far as business is concerned, a great deal has been written about the myriad barriers the Obama administration has placed in the way of entrepreneurial success. Read more ..


The Battle for Syria

Obama Trying to Buy Allies in Syrian Revolution

August 7th 2012

Obama meditates

The news is out -- President Obama is not just watching the gory events unfold in Syria. The president signed an intelligence finding permitting the CIA to help the opposition with $25 million's worth of non-lethal assistance, possibly including communications, logistics, and intelligence. Public acknowledgement of the finding follows a New York Times story that the CIA was "helping allies decide which Syrian opposition fighters across the border will receive weapons to fight the government ... and to keep weapons out of the hands of fighters allied with al Qaeda".

The Times added that "by helping to vet rebel groups, American intelligence operatives in Turkey also hope to learn more ... and establish new ties to fighters who may be the country's leaders one day." Learning on the job, are they?
Read more ..


Europe on Edge

Is the Euro Worth the Price?

August 6th 2012

Spanish unemployed

Mario Draghi emphatically says that, “the ECB is ready to do whatever it takes to preserve the euro,” but mounting strains on euro member states must force us to ask if the cost is worth the benefit.

Preserving the euro as a single currency with its 17 members comes at an extremely high price.  Economic, financial, political, and social burdens jeopardize the ideals held sacrosanct by Europeans.  Paradoxically, by preserving the unity offered by the euro, European leaders are forging the type of disunity the euro was designed to eradicate.

The founding of the European Union marked a watershed moment in European history wherein the countries of Europe consciously ceded a small portion of their sovereignty for the expressed purpose of preventing political conflict, promoting liberal democratic conceptions of human rights, and creating efficient markets.  As the euro project slogs onward, it undermines all three of these goals. Read more ..


The Defense Edge

South China Sea Tensions Reflect Danger of Defense Cuts

August 5th 2012

Chinese Aircraft Carrier

In recent months, tensions have risen in the South China Sea as the ongoing territorial disputes between various Southeast Asian states and the People’s Republic of China have begun to boil. An April speech by Chinese Defense Minister Liang Guanglie stating that the South Sea Fleet would be the vanguard of major new missions makes recent developments even more ominous. This situation raises real stakes for the United States, especially in the context of ongoing and potentially accelerating cuts to the defense budget.

Increasing Chinese Pressure
China has been steadily increasing pressure on its neighbors in the ongoing South China Sea dispute, employing a variety of means. In March, Chinese and Philippine fishing vessels converged on the disputed Scarborough Shoal, reinforcing each side’s claim to the area. Thinking they had a bargain to de-escalate the conflict, the Philippines pulled out its ships. Although the Chinese did not deploy naval ships to the waters, Chinese fishing boats and civilian law enforcement vessels remained, despite an announced Chinese fishing ban on the area. Read more ..


The Edge of Human Trafficking

DOJ May Have Dismissed Suspicious Human Trafficking Case

August 5th 2012

Prostitute

The U.S. Justice Department once again failed to fulfill its mandate to prosecute criminal activity to the fullest extent of the law, a public-interest group dedicated to weeding out government corruption, fraud and waste noted on August 3. While the story received scant mention in the national news media, its shocking display of ineptitude by Attorney General Eric Holder and his staff should give pause to any clear-thinking American citizen, said political strategist and attorney Joseph Pankowsky.

"If this case -- which the DOJ dropped on July 21 -- and other similar cases are any indication of how the federal government plans to handle human trafficking prosecutions, the victims are in for horrors not seen since the days of slavery in the antebellum South," said Pankowsky.

According to the Inside-the-Beltway watchdog group Judicial Watch, "After spending millions of dollars to prosecute what it touted as the largest human trafficking case in U.S. history, the Department of Justice (DOJ) has suspiciously dismissed [the case] claiming that it lacked evidence to prove the charges beyond a reasonable doubt."
Read more ..


The 2012 Vote

Black Pastors Oppose Democrats on Same Sex Marriage

August 4th 2012

Star Parker

Support for same-sex marriage is now in the Democratic Party preliminary platform. Once approved by the full platform committee and voted on at the convention, same-sex marriage will have the party's formal support. But as Democrats institutionalize their support for same sex-marriage, their relationship with the party's most loyal constituency, black Americans, becomes increasingly uneasy. A new survey just released by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life shows 65 percent of Democrats support same-sex marriage compared to just 40 percent of blacks.

A group of 3,700-plus black pastors, the Coalition of African-American Pastors, under the leadership of the Rev. William Owens, has moved to formally oppose the Democratic Party and President Barack Obama on this issue.

The group is spearheading a "Mandate for Marriage" campaign to gather 100,000 signatures on a petition declaring support for traditional marriage. The petition also calls for Obama "to repudiate his assertion that gay marriage is a civil right."

These black pastors are not in the business of politics, nor are they policy wonks. They are driven by commitment to biblical truths and the direct challenge to and rejection of these truths by social acceptance of homosexual behavior and same-sex marriage.

They don't see biblical truths as academic points divorced from the practical realities of life. They see them as the rules that sustain life. And they see the crises spreading in their communities and in our nation as acceptance of these truths falling by the wayside. HIV/AIDS is devastating black America. Reading the grim statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention makes clear that this plague is driven, first and foremost, by homosexual behavior.

According to the CDC: "In 2009, African-Americans comprised 14 percent of the U.S. population but accounted for 44 percent of all new HIV infections. ... Black men accounted for 70 percent of the estimated new HIV infections among all blacks. ... Black men who have sex with men represented an estimated 73 percent of new infections among black men. ..." Research abounds showing the importance of intact traditional family life in the academic success of children and of overall economic health. Read more ..


Turks see Red in Obama’s Dubious Photo Holding Bat

August 4th 2012

Obama with baseball bat

Holding a baseball bat in your hand while talking on the phone about a delicate international issue means you really like the person you are talking to. At least, so says the President of the United States. ­The White House scrambled to explain the meaning behind a photo it posted online of President Obama holding a wooden club associated with either a popular American sport or mob violence, depending on personal preferences. Obama held the bat as he chatted on the phone with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Monday. The two were discussing the ongoing violence in Syria, in which both America and Turkey are backing the anti-regime opposition forces.

Reporters bombarded White House secretary Jay Carney on Monday with questions over possible hidden meanings in the photo of the bat-wielding Obama. Carney explained the photo by saying the president was a baseball fan and avid supporter of the Chicago White Sox. Turkish politicians were quick to seize on the picture and level harsh criticism at Turkey’s head of government. Read more ..


Africa on Edge

Priority Issues During Secretary Clinton’s Trip to Africa

August 3rd 2012

Hillary

On Tuesday, July 31, 2012, United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton embarked on an official visit to several African countries including Kenya, Malawi, Senegal, South Africa, South Sudan and Uganda. The visit to South Sudan is particularly significant because Secretary Clinton will be the highest U.S. government official to make an official visit to this new country. This trip is likely to be Clinton’s last extended visit to Africa in her official capacity as secretary of state as she is expected to resign at the end of President Obama’s first term. The secretary’s visit comes at a time when the U.S. is increasingly seeking to deepen its engagement with Africa.

Given the extensive coverage of the secretary’s trip in terms of number of countries and regions visited, a wide range of issues of interest to U.S. and Africa will be part of the agenda. We highlight some of these issues that we consider a priority to both Africa and the U.S.
Commercial Engagement
This heightened interest in Africa by the U.S. is, in part, a result of recent dramatic changes on the continent, such as rapid economic growth and improved governance, which have made Africa a much better place to do business. Read more ..


Media on Edge

Free Speech is Still a Pipe Dream for British Writers

August 2nd 2012

Rachel Ehrenfeld

London, the host of the 2012 Olympics, has long since won the gold medal as the capital of “libel tourism”. I was made aware of this in 2004 when a libel suit was brought against me and my book Funding Evil: How Terrorism is Financed — and How to Stop It, in London’s High Court. The suit was brought by Khaled bin Mahfouz — the Saudi plutocrat and libel tourist nonpareil.

Before his death in 2009, Mahfouz had brought or threatened to bring more than 40 similar lawsuits before that plaintiff-friendly court, and he was totally successful in silencing the critics of his infelicitous career, which had, it was claimed, included terrorist financing.

Mahfouz had several things working for him in London: he was rich and he was the former banker of the Saudi royal family with the tacit support of powerful Saudis. He was, moreover, the beneficiary of a legal system that gives the plaintiff an inordinate advantage. He didn’t have to prove that the allegations against him were not true. British libel law puts the burden of proving allegations with the defendant, not the claimant. Filing a suit, or just threatening to sue, was enough for him to win. In my case, since I refused to acknowledge the British jurisdiction over me, he won by default.

I countersued him in New York, arguing that enforcing the UK default judgment would violate my constitutional right to freedom of expression. When I found out that New York lacked a law to protect me, I turned to the state legislators, who passed the Anti-Libel Terrorism Law (aka “Rachel’s Law”) in May 2008. I went on to campaign for a federal law, and in a bipartisan unanimous vote, the US Congress approved the Securing the Protection of Our Enduring and Constitutional Heritage Act, which protects all Americans writers and publishers from the growing phenomenon of libel tourism, in 2010.

It was an important development. Mahfouz had used the libel-tourism tactic to bully more than 40 authors and a publisher into apologies for and retractions of similar exposés. While British libel laws were often used by the rich and famous to intimidate critics, the Saudi used them as a weapon against the American and Western media, and effectively prevented further exposés of Saudi and Gulf funders of terrorism. Read more ..


The 2012 Vote

Romney Is Right: Israel’s Economic Success is Due to Culture

August 2nd 2012

Romney in Jerusalem 7-31-12

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney has been assailed for saying at a fundraiser in Jerusalem that “culture” plays a large part in Israel’s superior “economic vitality” over the Palestinians, just as it does “between other countries that are near or next to each other. Chile and Ecuador, Mexico and the United States.” For this commonsensical statement of the obvious, he has been pilloried, not least by the Palestinian Authority (PA)’s Saeb Erekat, who described his remarks as “racist.”

There was, of course, no reference in Governor Romney’s comparison of Israel and the Palestinians to religion or ethnicity, let alone race. He referred to culture, which indeed makes a major difference, in this case and the others he cited. He was right to note that this has produced widely divergent results in economic performance between Israel and the PA. Read more ..


Israel and Palestine

The Palestinian Culture of Slapping Israel

August 1st 2012

Gaza aerial shot 2011

Mitt Romney is being castigated for praising the culture that has allowed a democratic, (mainly) free market Israel, operating under the rule of law, to thrive amid decades of threat and periodic open warfare and a heavy defense burden.  Actually, he's being castigated for what his praise of Israel implies or says outright about Israel's neighbors -- not only the Palestinians, but mainly them.  So it is instructive to note the latest broadside by a West Bank youth group called "Palestinians for Dignity" (PDF).

PFD, which was instrumental in the protests against Mahmoud Abbas and PA corruption earlier in the summer, is now protesting the European Union's decision to upgrade a variety of trade and other ties with Israel.  In its release, published by the Palestinian news agency Ma'an, the PDF announced: Barring meaningful action [to reverse the upgrade] the Palestinian youth movement will organize to protest the latest manifestation of EU complicity and to challenge its presence and operations in Palestine...This latest move by the EU is nothing less than outrageous... this duplicitous behavior epitomizes the reasons why the Palestinian people have no faith in the EU. Read more ..


Religious Tolerance

Precious Little Religious Freedom

August 1st 2012

Tibetan prayer flags

Here’s a pretty gruesome story from Pakistan that began circulating on July 30:
At least 11 nurses, including three Christians, were poisoned at Civil Hospital Karachi for eating during Ramadan. During their afternoon break yesterday, the 11 nurses went to the hostel cafeteria for some tea and food. Rita, a Catholic nurse, collapsed first after drinking her tea. Now all the nurses are in the hospital’s intensive care unit, some in very serious conditions.

It was an appropriate day, then, for the State Department to publish its 2011 report on religious freedom around the globe. And the bottom line is that, throughout the Islamic world, as well as in the unreconstructed communist and authoritarian states, there’s precious little of it.

What kind of ranking does religious freedom hold in the conduct of American foreign policy? As of this morning, the State Department’s website had on prominent display the following declaration from Secretary of State Hillary Clinton: “For the United States, religious freedom is a cherished constitutional value, a strategic national interest, and a foreign policy priority.” No room for misinterpretation there, then. Read more ..


Israel on Edge

Understanding Real Israeli Politics

August 1st 2012

Binyamin Netanyahu and Shaul Mofaz

“Can’t anybody here play this game?” – Casey Stengel, great baseball coach

Stengel’s complaint is the precise description of Israeli politics nowadays. To a remarkable extent—and this has nothing to do with his views or policies—Bibi Netanyahu is the only functioning politician in Israel today. No wonder he is prime minister, will finish his current term, and will almost certainly be reelected in 2013.

Consider the alternatives. The number one such option is Shaul Mofaz who is head of Kadima. Mofaz was a competent general but is a dreadful politician. He may be the least charismatic man I’ve ever met. Tsippi Livni, his predecessor, was a disaster as leader of the self-described centrist party. Here is a list of her major failures:

• She did not take the opportunity to oust the smarmy party leader Prime Minister Ehud Olmert when the corruption charges against him piled up.

• She did a poor job in the dealing with the end-game in the Gaza war in January 2009.

• She mishandled the coalition negotiations when she did become acting prime minister, leading to the government’s fall. Read more ..


Healthcare on Edge

The Cost of Care for Colorado's Victims

July 31st 2012

Obamacare Protest

One of the reasons Americans seem so willing to tolerate the fact that 50 million of us are uninsured and almost 30 million more of us are underinsured is that most of us who have coverage assume we are OK. That nothing truly catastrophic will happen to us, and that, even if it did, our insurance policies will pay our bills and keep us whole.

Who would think that a decision to go see a movie on a Friday night could change our lives — and the lives of our families — forever? That we or a loved one, even with what we believed was decent coverage, might become a victim of violence that could leave us not only disabled for life but also potentially bankrupt and homeless?

That random act of violence in Aurora, Colo. earlier this month could have happened anywhere in America, of course — or in any other country, for that matter — but among the world’s developed nations, we live in the only one where the families of some of the injured would have to face begging for money to pay the doctors and hospitals and keep the sheriff and his foreclosure papers at bay. Talk about American exceptionalism. This is one area where, sadly, we truly are unique. Read more ..


Defense on Edge

The Problem with Predicting Defense Jobs and Sequestration

July 31st 2012

military convoy

As the threat of sequestration has grown closer, the level of noise surrounding the looming budget cuts has only grown louder. Last week, the volume reached a new level with the issue of a report prepared on the projected economic costs.

The report was prepared on behalf of the Aerospace Industries Association (AIA) by Stephen Fuller, a professor at George Mason University, and Chmura Economics & Analytics, a consulting company. It painted a particularly dismal picture of the jobs impact of the defense portion of the potential cuts.  “A total of 1,090,359 jobs with a total labor income of $46.5 billion would be lost due to DOD budget cuts in FY 2012-FY 2013.” It then broke down the figures on a state by state basis, noting that such key election battleground state like Virginia and Florida would experience severe job losses (136,191 and 41,905) at a time of already worrisome unemployment.

The report landed like a bombshell. A range of newspapers, including the Los Angeles Times and Washington Post, directly quoted the report’s jobs findings, while cable and online networks such as CNN and Fox News also devoted significant coverage to the mind-boggling numbers.  Similarly, policy leaders on both left and right cited it. For instance, both New Hampshire Senators Kelly Ayotte (R) and Jeanne Shaheen (D). And in testimony before the House Armed Services Committee, timed the day following the report’s release, senior defense industry executives echoed the report’s apocalyptic numbers, which furthered its spread and assumption as fact. Read more ..


The Obama Edge

White House Welcomes Known Terrorist, says New York Republican

July 30th 2012

Hani Nour Eldin
The "Blind Sheikh" Omar Abdel Rahman

Obama administration minions may have violated U.S. law last month by welcoming an Egyptian with ties to terrorism to the White House in order to lobby for the release of an imprisoned terrorist known as the Blind Sheik, claimed Rep. Pete King, current chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, in a statement on July 26.

Hani Nour Eldin -- an avowed member of Gama’a al-Islamiyya listed by the State Department as terror group -- was elected along with members of Islamist groups the Muslim Brotherhood and the Salafists to Egypt’s parliament.

"Eldin was put through a stringent vetting process before he was given a U.S. visa to enter the U.S. and then gain admittance to the White House," claimed Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, who in the past has been criticized for her laxity in matters of national security.

But, according to Rep. King, the U.S. investigators involved in his vetting either ignored Hani’s Facebook page or didn’t check it at all. On Facebook he boasts of his membership in Gama’a al-Islamiyya. U.S. immigration laws require that both Secretaries of State and Homeland Security must authorize waivers before issuing visas to members of designated federal terrorist organizations, and they must notify the appropriate members of Congress. Read more ..


NATO on Edge

NATO Should Improve Relations with Its Southern Neighbors

July 29th 2012

NATO

In light of the uprisings across the Middle East and North Africa, the continued threat in the region from al-Qaeda, and the nuclear threat and state-sponsored terrorism from Iran, many in NATO have rightly decided to place a renewed focus on working with regional partners on its periphery. NATO already has structures in place to better cooperate with partners in this part of the world, but little has been done to enhance these relationships.

NATO and Its Southern Periphery
NATO’s 2010 Strategic Concept states that cooperative security is one of the alliance’s three essential core tasks. NATO carries out its cooperative security task with its southern partners through two mechanisms: the Mediterranean Dialogue and the Istanbul Cooperation Initiative.

The Mediterranean Dialogue . Launched in 1994, the Mediterranean Dialogue forms the basis of NATO’s relations with its Mediterranean partners, which include Algeria, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Mauritania, Morocco, and Tunisia. Although these talks are normally done on a bilateral basis (“NATO+1”), on occasion this forum meets as “NATO+7,” placing Israel at the same table as some of its regional neighbors, where it would not otherwise be. Read more ..


Defense on Edge

The Gusher of National Security Leaks--Who Done It?

July 29th 2012

Bin Laden with AK

No intellectually honest individual could examine the vast array of evidence and believe there has not been a spate of high-level national security leaks over the past months.
Intimate details of the SEAL team raid on Osama Bin Laden's compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan have been consumed by millions of Americans watching cable television and reading newspapers, and, soon enough, it will be seen in Hollywood films. Folks around the world now know, without a doubt, that Americans coupled with Israelis have been waging silent cyber warfare against the Iranians, infecting Iranian computers with crippling viruses that have, by some estimates, slightly set back the mullahs' march toward achieving nuclear capability.
 
And readers of the New York Times now know that President Barack Obama keeps close tabs on the terrorist "kill list," even deciding which terrorist will next be targeted by the fine men and women of America's armed services. That sensitive information has been passed along from sources in the know to members of the media is without dispute a fact -- it is perhaps the least disputed fact of the questions currently being considered regarding the leaks. Read more ..

Domestic Terrorism

Aurora Reminds Us to Raise Campaign Tone

July 28th 2012

Jim holmes

Early Friday morning in Aurora, Colo., we were reminded that there remains in the world the existence of pure, sociopathic evil — an inhuman monster who celebrates death and has no sensations from a beating heart of feelings, empathy or anything other than the glorification of death. The impulse to extrapolate, exploit and, yes, politicize such a tragedy is hard to overcome. As my Republican friend and fellow blogger Rich Galen wrote on Sunday night:

“I do not want to diminish, in any way, the gravity and horror of the event that occurred in Aurora, Colo., Friday morning … There are no easy answers. There are no black-and-white solutions. Sometimes bad people do bad things.”

Two men, however — one is our president; the other would like to be — came forward and reminded us who they really are and made us feel good about them, ourselves and our country again.  President Obama, talking to what was supposed to be a political rally in Fort Myers, Fla., on Friday morning, about 11 hours after the tragedy, spoke the right words with the right tone and made us proud that he was our president, regardless of party or partisan loyalties.

“If there’s anything to take away from this tragedy, it’s the reminder that life is very fragile. Our time here is limited and precious. “My daughters go to the movies. What if Malia and Sasha had been at the theater? “There are going to be other days for politics. This, I think, is a day for prayer and reflection.”

About an hour later, on the East Coast in Bow, N.H., Mitt Romney said:  “I stand before you not as a man running for office, but as a father and grandfather, a husband and American.” Romney also offered the serenity of a man of faith, and tried to provide a sense of hope even in the midst of the incomprehensible and senseless murders of innocent people.  Read more ..


The Coal Problem

The Assault on Coal and American Consumers

July 28th 2012

coal mine

For decades, coal has literally been the rock that has powered America with cheap, reliable energy. Yet the federal government is using every possible avenue to reduce coal’s role in American energy production by creating an environment in which coal production’s decline is inevitable. Congress should reform federal policies and regulations to enable the market—not federal politicians and bureaucrats—to determine the role of coal in U.S. electricity generation. This includes repealing, preventing, or freezing unnecessary regulations and empowering the states to appropriately balance economic growth and environmental protection.

Used to power nearly half of all electricity generation for years, coal is the single largest electricity source in America. With 497 billion tons of recoverable coal in the United States—enough to provide electricity for 500 years at current consumption rates—coal has the potential to be an important resource long into the future. Read more ..


The Obama Edge

Top Aide to Secretary Clinton has Alleged Ties to Muslim Brotherhood

July 27th 2012

HIllary and Huma pals
Secretary Hillary Clinton and assistant Huma Abedin

Former Congressman Anthony Weiner's sex scandal may be nothing compared to a number of allegations that his Egyptian-born wife, Huma Abedin, has ties to the Muslim Brotherhood and it's female off-shoot, the Muslim Sisterhood. Even more disturbing is the fact that Mrs. Weiner works closely with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and has access to confidential, even secret, intelligence, according to several homeland security experts.

A list of members of the Muslim Brotherhood’s secret women’s division, which is known as the Muslim Sisterhood, a/k/a the International Women’s Organization (IWO), includes the name of disgraced Congressman Anthony Weiner's mother-in-law, according to a column written by Walid Shoebat and Ben Barrack.

The list, which was partially published by Al Jazeera and major Arab news outlets, has the name of Weiner's wife's mother, Saleha Abedin, on it, according to Shoebat and Barrack.

According to former U.S. federal prosecutor, Andrew McCarthy, Huma Abedin actively worked as an assistant editor for a publication headed by suspected al-Qaeda associate Omar Naseef. McCarthy gained national attention in his prosecution of the perpetrators of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. Read more ..


Obama and Israel

Back to the U.S.-Israel Future

July 27th 2012

Romney Israel

As Governor Romney leaves for overseas travel that includes Israel, he doesn't have to be ready to solve the problems of the region, or have a "peace plan" in his pocket. A few basic principles -- previously observed by both Republican and Democratic presidents -- will serve him well.

1. Israel is a sovereign country. The government of Israel should not be asked (or told) to substitute American policy positions for its own positions. Whether on strategic or day-to-day issues -- including housing policy, blockades, and the disposition of checkpoints -- Israel is responsible for and to its citizens; the U.S. is not. If the Israeli government is wrong about a security matter, Israelis will pay the price; if the U.S. is wrong, Israelis will likewise pay the price.

2. Israel is our friend and ally. When the government of Israel makes a big decision, the U.S. doesn't have to agree with it -- and certainly can express itself (preferably privately) -- but under the terms above, the U.S. should plan to be helpful to the extent possible, even if it wasn't our idea. It's what allies do. Read more ..


The Edge of Terrorism

Who Done It?

July 27th 2012

Security Leaks

No intellectually honest individual could examine the vast array of evidence and believe there has not been a spate of high-level national security leaks over the past months.

Intimate details of the SEAL team raid on Osama Bin Laden's compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan have been consumed by millions of Americans watching cable television and reading newspapers, and, soon enough, it will be seen in Hollywood films.

Folks around the world now know, without a doubt, that Americans coupled with Israelis have been waging silent cyber warfare against the Iranians, infecting Iranian computers with crippling viruses that have, by some estimates, slightly set back the mullahs' march toward achieving nuclear capability.

And readers of the New York Times now know that President Barack Obama keeps close tabs on the terrorist "kill list," even deciding which terrorist will next be targeted by the fine men and women of America's armed services. That sensitive information has been passed along from sources in the know to members of the media is without dispute a fact—it is perhaps the least disputed fact of the questions currently being considered regarding the leaks. Read more ..


Domestic Terror

Politicizing Grief

July 27th 2012

Armstrong_Williams

Anyone who reads my columns can tell you that it is one of my mantras that politics should take up as little space in your life as possible. If it doesn’t, it’s only out of necessity occasioned by bad government, something we have in surplus.

A normal, healthy person with a functioning conscience should recoil with horror at the gruesome murder of a dozen Americans and the wounding of seventy others in a crowded movie theater in Aurora, Colorado. If you don’t feel that, there’s something wrong with you.

If your first reaction is, say, to get political, to condescend to our nation’s Founding Fathers about the fact that guns are instruments of violence, then there is most certainly something wrong with you. Sir Salman Rushdie, one of our greatest living novelists, contributed to the world this brilliant thought: “The ’right to bear arms’ is the real Bane of America.” It irks me even to have to repeat it. Who doesn’t joke around about a national tragedy a few hours after it happens?

His vulgarity was only matched by his pettiness. Rushdie went on to attack perfect strangers ad hominem for bringing up his transgression of basic decency. He mocked Michelle Malkin for her perfectly understandable outrage at his comments, and posted what only he must think are pithy comments, such as, “Don’t like puns? Fine. I don’t like guns.” Who doesn’t see an equivalence there?

One would think that a man who has been pursued for decades by the Iranian government for speaking freely about Islam would be a bit more charitable toward those with whom he disagrees. Instead, he revealed himself to have a personality and sense of humor as childish as his political beliefs, as selective and hypocritical a reverence for free speech as that of the Iranian government. It was an unwanted confirmation of what I had suspected from reading Mr. Rushdie’s previous commentaries about religion, namely that he seems to have stopped thinking about the big issues somewhere around his nineteenth birthday. Whatever will impress the cool kids at the Daily Show. Read more ..


Domestic Terror

Elected Offiicials Must Stand up to NRA on Gun Safety

July 27th 2012

Rep Jan Schakowsky (D-IL 9)
Rep Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.)

After the horrifying mass shooting in the Aurora, Colorado movie theater, politicians were warned not to “politicize” the tragedy by daring to mention the word "guns". We are told it would be an insult to the dead and wounded, an insult to the American people, to suggest the shooter’s lethal arsenal of weapons – all legally purchased, it seems – contributed to this horrifying tragedy.

Talk I will. The reality is few issues have been more politicized than guns. The National Rifle Association has managed to take the non-political issue of public safety and turn it into one of the most political issues in Congress and state legislatures throughout the country.It now holds hostage the majority of the US Congress. They don’t do it at gunpoint, but their weapon of choice is just as effective. It’s called “scoring.”

Many advocacy organizations across the political and issue spectrum “score” or rate members of Congress based on their votes. The punishment for a low score can be very harsh. Elected officials fear voting against the NRA will bring retribution come election time.

These days and for most of my 14 years in Congress when the NRA scores a bill, its position prevails. Despite the valiant efforts of members like Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D-N.Y.) who ran for Congress in 1996 after her husband was shot and killed and son wounded on the Long Island Railroad, gun safety advocates in Congress find little support.

In 2004, the assault weapons ban quietly expired, and with it restrictions on purchases of the AR-15, one of the weapons used by the shooter. The sale of those weapons exploded, inspiring Mexican President Felipe Calderon, no flaming liberal, to bluntly say in April, “The expiring of the assault weapons ban … coincided almost exactly with the beginning of the harshest—the harshest—period of violence we’ve ever seen.” Read more ..


The 2012 Vote

Voter ID Experience in Kansas

July 26th 2012

us voters

The latest data compiled by the Secretary of State of Kansas, Kris Kobach, about the state’s experience with voter ID once again shows that the claims by opponents of voter identification are wrong. Kobach reported that just 32 of the state’s 1.7 million voters requested free IDs from the state so they could vote under the Secure and Fair Elections Act of 2011, which took effect January 1. Contrary to the assertions of opponents to voter ID laws that there are large numbers of American voters without a government-issued photo ID, Kansas has had to issue a remarkably small number of IDs to individuals who did not already have one since its new law became effective—just 0.002 percent of registered voters.

The Kansas Experience
Kansas’s law requires voters who cast ballots in person to present any of nine forms of acceptable photo ID. It requires those who vote absentee to submit a verified signature and include either a photocopy of one of the nine forms of ID or a Kansas driver’s license number with the absentee ballot. Read more ..


Olympics on Edge

Christians Call for Olympic Moment of Silence to Honor Slain Israelis of 1972

July 25th 2012

Munich athletes slain
Israeli athletes slain by Palestinian terrorist at the 1972 Munich Olympics.

Bill Donohue, the voluble president of the Catholic League - a civil rights organization based in New York City - criticized the decision of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) not to allow a moment of silence at the opening of the Olympic Games on July 27 to recall the murder of Israeli athletes by Palestinian Liberation Front terrorists during the Olympics Games in Munich in 1972. On July 24, Olympic officials did allow a small gathering of persons to observe a moment of silence in memory of the innocent athletes who fell during the Munich massacre.

Donohue stated, "If they were truly interested in honoring the 11 Israelis who were murdered by terrorists 40 years ago, they would not have chosen a pre-Olympic event: they would have chosen the opening ceremonies on Friday. The official reason given for not doing so is that such an event would be 'political.'” Read more ..


The Obama Edge

Obama Bypasses American Manufacturers to Buy Russian Helicopters

July 25th 2012

Kickin back in the Situation room

The Pentagon ordered a couple of MI-17 helicopters earlier this year to replace severely damaged aircraft, and in recent days it purchased 10 more helicopters to replace aging Afghan aircraft. The helicopters were purchased from Russia for over a half-billion dollars, according to Defense Department officials.

The monetary value of the 12 Russian-built helicopters, including warranty services and replacement parts, is reported to be $217.7 million, a Pentagon official said, according Senator John Cornyn (R-TX).

The purchases this year are part of a larger helicopter contract President Barack Obama's Pentagon signed in May 2011 with the Rosoboron Export Corporation.

With all the accusation regarding outsourcing emanating from the Obama White House and his re-election campaign team, the Pentagon may be embarressed over the outsourcing of jobs and money to a Russian arms exporter because of concerns that the firm is also selling attack helicopters to the government of Syrian President Bashar al Assad. Read more ..


Domestic Terrorism

Brian Ross' Brain Cramp

July 25th 2012

Jim holmes

If ABC News does fire Brian Ross, he could always find a job working for Aaron Sorkin. Ross, a veteran investigative reporter for ABC News, blew it Friday morning when he suggested that the Aurora, Colo., shooting suspect, Jim Holmes, might be connected with the "tea party."

"There is a Jim Holmes of Aurora, Colorado, page on the Colorado tea party site as well. Talking about him joining the tea party last year. Now, we don't know if this the same Jim Holmes," Ross ominously informed "Good Morning America" host George Stephanopoulos, who thought the news "might be significant." Or it might not.

Actually, it definitely isn't significant. The fifty-something tea party Holmes, we soon learned, wasn't the same guy as the twenty-something mass-slaying suspect. Brent Bozell of the conservative watchdog outfit the Media Research Center calls Ross' statement a "brazen attempt to smear the tea party."

And other conservatives, particularly tea party members, have every right to be angry. The list of calumnies and distortions about them is too lengthy to recount here. They've been cast as dangerous, racist, fascistic and murderous. The most famous example is the seemingly instantaneous effort — ginned up by partisans but given ample credence by the mainstream media — to turn Jared Lee Loughner, the suspect in the 2011 Tucson shootings that killed six people and wounded former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, into a right-wing golem conjured by Fox News, Sarah Palin and the tea parties.

That said, I still don't think Bozell & Co. are quite right when they see Ross' "reporting" as deliberate. For that, Ross would have needed to know what he was saying was untrue. I have to believe Ross didn't want to get the story wrong. It would be nice to know if Ross checked to see if there were any Jim Holmes around Aurora who were connected to the Occupy Wall Street movement or any who were Muslims. Or was the tea party simply the first place he looked? And if so, why? Read more ..


Venezuela on Edge

Hugo Chavez Prefers Fruit Juice over Imperialist Coca-Cola and Pepsi

July 24th 2012

Hugo Chavez infirm

New York City isn’t the only place in the world where preventing the consumption of sugary sodas has become a political imperative. In his televised broadcast yesterday, Venezuela’s Comandante, Hugo Chavez, urged his viewers to safeguard their waistlines by ditching Coca-Cola and Pepsi in favor of a locally-produced fruit juice.

Reports the Associated Press:

Chavez says consumers should buy “Uvita,” a grape juice made by state-run Corpozulia as a means of increasing the consumption of Venezuelan-made products instead of buying sugary sodas made by foreign companies.

Venezuela’s socialist leader often dispenses advice to supporters during his marathon televised speeches, calling on them to eat healthy foods, get plenty of exercise, and avoid drugs and alcohol.
Read more ..


Obama and Israel

Hillary’s Slap to Israel

July 24th 2012

Hillary in Israel

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton took 24 hours of her international tour to stop in Israel, her first visit in two years. Her trip was mostly dedicated to uttering meaningless platitudes about Obama’s commitment to Israel’s security, mainly as a preemptive defense against Republican contender Mitt Romney’s visit to Israel next week. Obama, whose pro-Israel credentials have been lacking, sent Clinton to reassure his liberal Jewish supporters before the November elections. Clinton’s trip, which should have been centered along simple niceties, will instead be remembered for the painful and insulting slap she delivered to the entire Israeli people.

Speaking at press conference on Monday night, Clinton essentially rejected any possibility of Israeli agent Jonathan Pollard ever getting out of prison. "With respect to Mr. Pollard, he was convicted of spying in 1987," Clinton said. "He was sentenced to life in prison, he is serving that sentence, and I do not have any expectations that that is going to change." The heads of the Knesset Pollard Lobby revealed that Clinton’s staffers prevented them from delivering a letter signing by all Jewish faction heads pleading for Pollard’s freedom.  These harsh rebuffs come in the midst of ever increasing calls from American and Israeli officials for Pollard’s release, among them Israeli President Peres. Last month, before being awarded by Obama with the US Presidential Medal of Freedom, Peres presented Obama with a petition signed by over 70,000 Israelis, among them distinguished figures, in support of clemency for Pollard. Since then, the only official response from the Obama administration has been a cold silence, even as Pollard’s health continues to decline. Read more ..


Heathcare on Edge

One Small-print Benefit of Health Reform

July 24th 2012

medicine and money #2

I’ve often said the U.S. health care system is so complex that trying to understand it makes your hair hurt. Case in point: the Affordable Care Act runs more than 2,000 pages. I’ll grant you that it’s a massive piece of legislation—but lawmakers felt that’s what was needed to fix at least some of the problems that resulted from the helter-skelter way our health care system developed.

This complexity also helps explain why it has been so difficult for the Obama administration to communicate how the numerous provisions of the law will likely benefit average Americans. And it also explains why so many journalists covering health care often do little more than “he said, she said” reporting. Going deeper requires a willingness to figure out how to make arcane but important parts of the system interesting and relevant.

I’ll never forget being told by a reporter for a major financial publication while I was still at Cigna that her editor would not let her use the term “reinsurance” in a story she was writing about my firm—even though the company had just disclosed having to take a big charge against earnings because of problems within the company’s reinsurance operations. She said her editor believed readers simply couldn’t wrap their heads around the concept of reinsurance. As part of their risk management efforts, insurers buy “reinsurance” from other insurance firms to reduce their exposure to unexpected high claims from policyholders. The resinsurer assumes a portion of the risk. Read more ..


The New Egypt

“Yankee Go Home!”—from the Good Guys

July 24th 2012

Clinton in Egypt

The interesting news was not that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was pelted with stuff while visiting Cairo, the important issue was who was doing the pelting. Once upon a time, anti-American radicals threw things at U.S. leaders. But now…

Reportedly, the hurlers of objects were people from the Free Egyptians Party and other Egyptian liberals. At the same time, leading Christians, including Naguib Sawiris who is the man behind that party and perhaps the most outspoken anti-Islamist figure in Egypt today, refused to meet with Clinton. Why? Because these people see the Obama Administration as an ally of the Muslim Brotherhood. That might sound far-fetched to the mainstream media, but it is taken for granted in much of the Middle East. In the articles of liberal Arabs; the statements of Persian Gulf Arab establishment figures; the conversations of Syrian, Turkish, Iranian, and Lebanese oppositionists, the idea that the U.S. government is now helping the Islamists is taken for granted.

Let me repeat that: It is taken for granted. Read more ..


Healthcare on Edge

States Should Wait Before Accepting Obamacare

July 23rd 2012

obamacare

The Supreme Court upheld Obamacare’s individual mandate to purchase health insurance, but it also struck down part of the law. That part—forcing states to expand their Medicaid programs—offers governors some much-needed relief.

Expanding Medicaid, the government health insurance program for the poor and disabled, was one of President Obama’s main ways to increase the number of insured people through Obamacare. This was no magic solution for the uninsured, especially since Medicaid is in need of reform, not expansion.

States’ share of the cost of Medicaid is already crushing state budgets. “In the past decade, Medicaid spending has increased at nearly twice the rate of states’ tax revenue,” according to a new report.The only ways to expand Medicaid are to raise taxes, cut other state programs, or slash health care providers’ reimbursements in Medicaid even more. And so far, the majority of America’s governors have said they won’t do it. Read more ..


Puerto Rico on Edge

Puerto Rico's Tentative Mission to the Anglo-Sphere

July 23rd 2012

Gov Luis Fortuno
Gov. Luis Fortuño of Puerto Rico

With an electoral season approaching, the islands comprising Puerto Rico have once more become the center of debate and conflict. Recently, the current Governor of Puerto Rico and statehood advocate Luis Fortuño introduced a mandatory bilingual public-education program for all students on the islands. The initiative, called “Generation Bilingual,” emphasizes the importance of English proficiency among the islanders. Ultimately, his ambitious program aims to graduate a 100 percent English-Spanish bilingual class from secondary schools by 2022.

Given the economic upheaval and rise in violent crime on the island, Fortuño’s proposition is rather timely, and may reflect his efforts to regain popularity as many islanders lose faith in his conservative administration. The unemployment rate of roughly 14.2 percent has driven the local population to search for a desperate solution to its lingual and other woes.

As a member of the local New Progressive Party (PNP) and U.S. Republican Party, Fortuño has had his motives for this program called into question. Los Penepes, or PNP party members, are generally associated with statehood advocacy, and members of the Republican Party have emphasized English proficiency as a prerequisite for island statehood. To this end, there is concern for underlying political intentions. Read more ..


The 2012 Vote

Entrepreneurs—Not Politicians—Build Prosperity

July 22nd 2012

Star Parker

I think it’s a sport for President Barack Obama to make outrageous statements like “If you’ve got a business—you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen,” which he said in a recent campaign trip to Roanoke, Va.—and then watch Republicans go predictably bananas. Certainly the multimillionaire business supporters of the president on Wall Street and in Hollywood know this is absurd. Anyone with the mildest understanding of business and capitalism knows this is absurd.

Yet the president struck at the heart of what makes capitalism tick—individual freedom and personal responsibility—without having his polling numbers in the week that followed budge. His re-election probability on Intrade.com actually ticked up two and half points. We are reaching dangerous critical mass of those in our country who have enough stake in big government—whether they are employed by it, collecting benefits from it, or businesses getting favors from it—that political protection is commanding a higher premium than freedom. If Americans want prosperity, we need a grand reawakening to the incontrovertible fact that its source is entrepreneurs unfettered by meddling politicians.

Apple Inc. is now the most valuable company in the world. Its recent stock price puts its valuation at around $560 billion, more than $150 billion more than America’s biggest oil company, ExxonMobil. Fifteen years ago, in 1997, when Steve Jobs returned as CEO of Apple, the company was worth less than $3 billion—about half a percent of its worth today. Estimates then were that Apple was several months away from bankruptcy.

John Lilly, a former Apple employee, now a Silicon Valley venture capitalist, blogged after Jobs’s death about a talk that Jobs gave to employees shortly after his return. Apple was losing money, its stock was languishing, there were rumors about the company being acquired, and Jobs was asked about a suggestion that the company should just shut down. He concluded his response with: “If you want to make Apple great again, let’s get going. If not, get the hell out.” The blogger continues, “I think it’s not an overstatement to say that just about everyone in the room loved him at that point, would have followed him off a cliff if that’s where he led.” Read more ..


America on Edge

The Essence of Hypocrisy on Abortion

July 22nd 2012

Armstrong_Williams

Essence magazine claims to have a “motivating message” for black women, and to “speak directly to a Black woman's spirit, her heart and her unique concerns. Every month black women rely on Essence for editorial content designed to help them move their lives forward personally, professionally, intellectually and spiritually.” The magazine must think that black women will be moved forward spiritually by Planned Parenthood, because the largest abortion provider in the United States, one that kills 300,000 American babies annually, is sponsoring the 2012 Essence Music Festival in New Orleans.

According to Planned Parenthood executive vice-president Dawn Laguens, one of organization's goals in sponsoring this event is “to educate festival attendees about health disparities in the African-American community.” I'm guessing one of those disparities isn't the shocking, shocking, shocking abortion rate. According to the Guttmacher Institute—Planned Parenthood's very own research and propaganda wing—African-Americans, roughly 13 percent of the population, have 30 percent of all abortions in the United States, the highest rate of any racial group. Statistics from 2010 show that in New York City, blacks, who make up roughly one-quarter of the population, get 45 percent of the abortions.

No, that disparity doesn't bother anyone at Planned Parenthood. The organization probably sees it as a good thing. Not only is it more business and more money for the organization, but to it, abortion is not only healthy, but empowering. If it is right, then blacks have a higher empowerment rate than whites, the highest among any group. Read more ..



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