America's Economic Collapse
|Ronald A. Cass||December 22nd 2008|
Cutting Edge Contributor
|Ronald A. Cass|
Steven Spielberg. Elie Wiesel. Mort Zuckerman. Frank Lautenberg. Yeshiva University. As one reads the list of people and enterprises reportedly bilked to the tune of $50 billion by Bernard Madoff, I recalled a childhood in which my father received bad news by asking first, "Was it a Jew?" My father coupled sensitivity to anti-Semitism with special sympathy for other Jews. In contrast, Mr. Madoff, it seems, targeted other Jews, drawing them in at least in some measure because of a shared faith.
The Madoff tale is striking in part because it is like stealing from family. Yet frauds that prey on people who share bonds of religion or ethnicity, who travel in the same circles, are quite common. Two years ago the Securities and Exchange Commission issued a warning about "affinity fraud." The SEC ticked off a series of examples of schemes that were directed at members of a community: Armenian-Americans, Baptist Church members, Jehovah's Witnesses, African-American church groups, Korean-Americans. In each case, the perpetrator relied on the fact that being from the same community provided a reason to trust the sales pitch, to believe it was plausible that someone from the same background would give you a deal, that if offered by someone without such ties would sound too good to be true.
The sense of common heritage, of community, also makes it less seemly to ask hard questions. Pressing a fellow parishioner or club member for hard information is like demanding receipts from your aunt—it just doesn't feel right. Hucksters know that, they play on it, and they count on our trust to make their confidence games work. Read more ..
Edge on the Housing Crisis
|Joshua Berman||December 15th 2008|
In the wake of the mortgage crisis, a growing chorus of economists today questions the status of home ownership as the fulfillment of the American dream. An argument supporting home ownership is found in—of all places—the Hebrew Bible.
Although usually read as part of a religious text, the Bible's economic prescriptions may be mined to recover the roadmaps by which past thinkers navigated, even if no longer fully applicable today.
Economic commentators Paul Krugman and James Surowiecki argue that the American dream increasingly ends with a rude awakening. With the market value of houses falling, many Americans are now trapped in mortgages that exceed the value of their homes. And for many more, they argue, the hassles of buying and selling a home make it harder for underemployed home owners to move to where the jobs are. Read more ..
|Joseph Grieboski||December 8th 2008|
Cutting Edge Foreign Editor
Although three million Muslims have just peacefully concluded the annual Hajj pilgrimage, virtually none of them came from the Gaza Strip. Hamas authorities have once again blocked the annual pilgrimage to Mecca by a group of Palestinian faithful from the Gaza Strip.
Egypt decided to open the border crossing in Rafah in order to meet the needs of the 3,000 Palestinian faithful, who would have crossed into Saudi Arabia through Nuweiba on the Red Sea. The Egyptian Foreign Ministry and witnesses in Rafah said Egypt opened the crossing point for the Palestinian pilgrims but none came.
Inquiries revealed that Hamas, which has controlled the Gaza Strip since June of 2007, blocked its own pilgrims from reaching the crossing point, keeping them inside the border and away from the religious highpoint of the year for Muslims. At the Hamas-run Interior Ministry in Gaza, spokesman Ehad al-Ghsain denied halting pilgrims. "We are not sending people back. The Egyptians are keeping the crossing closed," he said. Hamas officials blamed Egypt, saying it had not opened the border “as agreed.” Meanwhile, media reports and eyewitnesses confirmed that the crossing point had been made available by Egypt as planned, but no one showed. Read more ..
Kicking our Oil Addiction
|Eyal Aronoff||December 1st 2008|
Cutting Edge Contributor
By the time the dust settles and the numbers are collected for 2008, it will become crystal clear that a central reason we are at the point of economic collapse is our addiction to oil. In the first half of this year, while gasoline prices were soaring, the US economy lost $500 billion diverted to oil imports.
What does $500 billion really mean? That sum is as large as America’s basic defense budget and about 100 times the size of GM’s current assets? With $500 billion, Washington could purchase almost all property that slipped into foreclosure this year, or enough to make payments on all currently delinquent mortgages for the next 5 years? Many may quip, "But our economy is so big." Read more ..
|Dan Levin||December 1st 2008|
Seventy-two percent of respondents to an unscientific Cutting Edge News Reader Poll voted that Honda should lose its patents on compressed natural gas and hydrogen automotive technology if it refuses to market the advances. In response to the question: Should Honda Lose Its Patents If it Refuses to Lift Restrictions on Natural Gas and Hydrogen Vehicles? the results were:
- 72 percent "Yes."
8 percent "Not Sure"
20 percent "No"
During the summer 2008 poll period, The Cutting Edge News recorded 1,000,124 hits. During the extended poll period, the ratio continued at the same level within a few percentage points.
The Way We Are
|Armstrong Williams||November 24th 2008|
Cutting Edge Commentator
The chilly winds of change blowing across the global economic landscape this fall have tested our threadbare garments to the point of fraying. Many of our fellow travelers find themselves losing hope that things will ever get any better. Some of us may feel at times as if there is no choice but to stop in our tracks and forsake ourselves to the fate of the dry and dusty bones littering the ground all around us. However, despite facing a bleak landscape at present, the human spirit always has a choice. Instead of giving up the ghost, we can choose to reaffirm our faith. In fact, surviving these trying times demands of us that we give thanks and praise.
Consider, if you will, that the improbable and unfathomably precious gift of our lives takes shape in a crucible of struggle. A single sperm cell, swimming along a foreign and hostile canal, pushes past the strewn corpses of millions of its fellow sojourners, to finally arrive at the ultimate prize; an unfertilized egg. Upon meeting the egg, a miraculous process ensues. The two cells combine and become instantly productive. They divide and multiply, and, in a matter of mere months, grow out of that singular union a complex and living being composed of hundreds of millions of cells. At length, we come to term. Again, a stark struggle occurs. Our mothers, in travail upon travail, bear the pain of ultimate sacrifice, approaching the very precipice of death to bring us forth, wailing and crying, into this world. Most of us have no memory of the shock and loss we experienced when we were evicted from the warm comfort of the womb to face the glaring sun for the first time. But out of such shock and awe emerges springs life, and for that miracle alone we must give thanks and praise. Read more ..
|Armstrong Williams||November 17th 2008|
Cutting Edge Commentator
Bruises are still tender from the Democraticdrubbing that Republicans took on Election Day. The bad news is there’s plenty more to come, only this time from within. Less than 12 hours following the California returns, congressional and party leaders huddled in basements and on impromptu conference calls and began plotting a way out of this deep, yawning ditch they’ve managed to drive into with the party bus.
Perhaps there was less plotting and more commiserating.
There’s no question the Grand Old Party is now wandering in the wilderness. But although scores of conservative soothsayers will want to look over their collective shoulder and blame the McCain campaign or political arms of the party such as the RNC, I will not. The party’s problems run deeper and wider than that.
John McCain had nothing to do with this nosedive. The party was headed in that direction long before he came on the scene to run for president. However, I believe that a McCain administration would have continued many of the behaviors that contributed to the predicament they find themselves in. Fifty percent of Americans felt the same way; telling exit pollsters on election night that they believed McCain would continue the policies of President Bush. Read more ..
After the Holocaust
|Isi Leibler||November 10th 2008|
Jerusalem Post Commentator
Islamic countries that have absorbed Holocaust denial as a central component of their hatred of Jews now have the gall to cite the criminalization Holocaust denial as a precedent for seeking to make any disapproval of Islam, Islamic practice, or even Sharia law grounds for criminal prosecution. Resolutions to this effect have already been passed by the UN General Assembly. Therefore, it may be timely to rethink the merits of criminalizing Holocaust denial.
The issue recently made headlines when German-born Australian Frederic Toben was arrested in transit at Heathrow airport and detained until the British courts decide whether he is to be extradited to Germany to face prosecution as a Holocaust denier. Toben, a veteran in this field, participated in Iranian Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's Holocaust "conference" and has served seven months in a German prison as a denier. Although Australia has no statutes outlawing Holocaust denial, the courts there have ordered Toben to stop publishing anti-Semitic material on his website such as the description of the Holocaust as "the world's filthiest blood libel" because it breaches the Racial Discrimination Act. Toben has refused to adhere to the court order and if found in contempt is likely to face severe penalties on his return to Australia.
I don't support unfettered freedom of speech, and have always favored legislation designed to prosecute those inciting racial or religious hatred. There is no such thing as "innocent" Holocaust denial. Even if it purports to be a historical review, it is simply a vile body of lies created with the object of accusing the Jews of fabricating a story to exploit sympathy and obtain favored treatment. Read more ..
America's Economic Collapse
|James Quinn||November 3rd 2008|
Cutting Edge Economic Crisis Analyst
The Baby Boom Generation will never be mistaken for the Greatest Generation that survived the Great Depression and defeated evil in a World War that killed 72 million people. Putting a yellow ribbon on the back of your $50,000 SUV is not sacrifice. Their claim to fame the last three decades has been living the good life profoundly beyond their means, to the point where they have virtually bankrupted our capitalist system.
Baby Boomers have been occupying the White House for the last sixteen years. The majority of Congress consists of Baby Boomers. The CEOs and top executives of Wall Street firms are Baby Boomers. The media is dominated by Baby Boom executives and on-air stars. Boomers have no one to blame but themselves for the current predicament. Blaming Franklin Roosevelt or Lyndon Johnson for the country’s dire situation is a cop out. Baby Boomers had the time, power, and ability to change our course. They have chosen to leave the heavy lifting to future generations in order to live the good life today. Read more ..
|Armstrong Williams||October 27th 2008|
Cutting Edge Commentator
Sometimes the right candidate comes along at the wrong time. They have just the amount of wisdom and experience, gained over a lifetime of dedicated service to their country. They have placed party over principle, sacrificing short term political gains and making a clear demonstration of putting the American people ahead of their own career advancement. John McCain is such a good man; but unfortunately, this may not be his season of triumph.
Barack Obama, arguably a lesser candidate in terms of experience and judgment, nonetheless appeals to voters looking for a change. This popular sentiment has driven him from obscurity to célèbre Dom in a remarkably short period of time. So quickly has Obama risen, in fact, that no ones really knows where he stands on crucial issues; in fact it can be argued that he himself doesn’t know where he stands, because he has never really had to take a stand in a time of crisis. He voted “present” on tough votes in the Illinois senate, passing on the blame, but not the credit for decisions made by that legislative caucus.
He spoke out against the Iraq war, but conveniently after the vote had already been taken (no one knows what decision he would have made in the Democratic caucus had he been in office at the time of the vote). Nonetheless, his personal qualities, academic credentials and critical stance on the war brought him to prominence, as news of the carnage in Iraq, the wounded veterans returning, and astronomical war costs drove Americans to question our nation’s decision to go to war. Read more ..
|Star Parker||October 20th 2008|
Cutting Edge Columnist
As John McCain tries to salvage his presidential campaign over the few weeks he has left, he ought to think about the Coca Cola Company in 1985.
That was the year that Coca Cola, based on what the company thought was good internal market research, introduced a new, sweeter formula to replace the taste that American consumers had always associated with Coke.
The result was disaster. Consumers were unhappy with the new flavor that replaced a product that was more than a drink. It was a time-tested American tradition. In short order, Coca Cola brought the traditional Coke back to market, and in a real feat of marketing gymnastics, was selling both New Coke and Coca Cola Classic.
Sales of Coca Cola Classic swamped sales of New Coke, and shortly thereafter, New Coke was gone.
Today John McCain heads the ticket of a Republican Party that many Americans have fallen out of love with. It's a Republican Party that Americans once knew, but now, like New Coke, has confused its customers, the voting public. Read more ..
America's Economic Collapse
|James Quinn||October 13th 2008|
Cutting Edge Financial Crisis Analyst
"Gentlemen, I have had men watching you for a long time, and I am convinced that you have used the funds of the bank to speculate in the breadstuffs of the country. When you won, you divided the profits amongst you, and when you lost, you charged it to the bank. You tell me that if I take the deposits from the bank and annul its charter, I shall ruin ten thousand families. That may be true, gentlemen, but that is your sin! Should I let you go on, you will ruin fifty thousand families, and that would be my sin!"
President Andrew Jackson 1832
Contrast those words to these of our current president, George W. Bush:
"The bipartisan economic rescue plan addresses the root cause of the financial crisis -- the assets related to home mortgages that have lost value during the housing decline. Under the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act, the federal government will be authorized to purchase these assets from banks and other financial institutions, which will help free them to resume lending to businesses and consumers. I know many Americans are worried about the cost of the bill, and I understand their concern. This bill commits up to 700 billion taxpayer dollars, because a large amount of money is necessary to have an impact on our financial system. However, both the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office and the Office of Management and Budget expect that the ultimate cost to the taxpayer will be far less than that. In fact, we expect that over time, much -- if not all -- of the tax dollars we invest will be paid back.” Read more ..
Edge on the Economy
|Armstrong Williams||October 6th 2008|
Cutting Edge Columnist
The current financial crisis is a result of the law of unintended consequences of two political policies promoted by both Republicans and Democrats since the Great Depression: 1) encouraging home ownership for all Americans regardless of whether they can afford the costs; 2) over-regulation of the financial community. Both policies have turned into a deceptively sweet bubble of air in the veins of the economy.
First, the government artificially inflated residential real estate sales through several laudable—but sloppily executed—policies such as: (1) tax breaks on interest and property taxes for home owners; (2) implicit government guarantees of the debt of Fanny Mae and Freddie Mac to purchase conforming home mortgage loans; (3) relaxed credit standards on home mortgage loans permitted by the banking regulators; and (4) encouraging the collateralization and sale of mortgages to investors. In the short-term, these policies had the beneficial effect of subsidizing housing costs and injecting extra liquidity into the housing market. Over the long-term, these policies weakened the economy by inflating housing prices and by encouraging the financial community to make risky loans to home owners who would not otherwise get a loan in the unregulated mortgage market. The results, as we now see, are disastrous.
Specifically, American consumers were encouraged to buy homes whether they could afford them or not. Homeowners were also lulled into believing that home ownership was an investment and not a housing expense. The annual costs of home ownership with mortgage payment, property taxes, insurance, utilities and maintenance can be over 10% of the value of a home. That means a home has to appreciate more than 10% annually in order for a home to be a good investment. These housing policies significantly contributed to driving up the prices of residential real estate over the past 20 years. They also contributed to overleveraged homeowners and more risky mortgage loans held by banks and investors. Read more ..
|James Quinn||September 29th 2008|
Cutting Edge Financial Crisis Analyst
In Washington D.C. during the week of September 21-27, out of public view, the 0.1 percent ruling elite with the most to lose decided the fate of your grandchildren. Whose best interest do you think they are looking out for?
As we’ve watched the various cable business networks over the last few weeks, there is a sense of desperation and fear among the commentators, pundits, and “experts.” It is a fear based upon self-interest. Their lives depend upon the masses keeping their money invested in the market. They have been in overwhelmingly in favor of the bailout bill.
Jim “Mad Money” Cramer, who has a net worth of $100 million, was in favor of the bill. Larry “Free market capitalism is the best path to prosperity” Kudlow, a multi-millionaire, is 100 percent in favor of the socialist bailout of the criminal investment banks. They support this “blank check” to a government that is already $9.65 trillion in debt, because they want to maintain their lavish lifestyle, multiple estates, and prominent positions in society.
An honest balance sheet (as opposed to the balance sheets of U.S. banks) will always tell the true story. Indeed, a balance sheet of U.S. households explains the situation we are in today. The value of real estate rose 50 percent between 2002 and 2007, much faster than the historical growth rate of 3 percent per year. The problem is that mortgage debt rose by 75 percent over this same time frame, resulting in owner’s equity as a percent of real estate reaching an all-time low of 45.2 percent in June, 2008. Read more ..
|Dan Levin||September 29th 2008|
Only 13 percent of respondents to an unscientific Cutting Edge Reader Poll voted that they trusted the intregrity of their bank. In response to the question: Do You Trust the Integrity of Your Bank? the results were:
* 13 percent "Yes."
* 68 percent "No
* 14 percent "Not Sure"
During the poll period in May 2008, The Cutting Edge News recorded 830,286 hits. During the extended poll period, the ratio continued at the same level within a few percentage points.
|Micah D. Halpern||September 22nd 2008|
Cutting Edge Columnist
Mickey Mouse is getting mauled in the Muslim world.
It all began when Hamas children’s television transformed the lovable Disney character into a Palestinian character, renamed him Farfu, and had him beaten up and pummeled within inches of his life by Israeli soldiers. It was in very poor taste. It was immoral. Co-opting one of the most universally recognized and loved Disney characters and turning him into a creature that preaches rage and teaches hatred, murder and revenge was unconscionable.
The world cried out and the Magic Kingdom threatened lawsuits but the Palestinians persisted. Mickey Mouse recently appeared in another program produced by Palestinian television and geared for children. In this go-round, Mickey and his friends remain in the background as the child host of the program educates his audience on the subject of the borders of Palestine, omitting any mention of Israel. Read more ..
|Armstrong Williams||September 15th 2008|
Cutting Edge Columnist
In the fall of 2007, we took a production crew to Alaska for our annual taping of the RightSide television broadcast. While there, we heard quite a buzz about this woman named Palin, and the fact that she would one day be someone’s vice-presidential candidate. Keep in mind that this was 2007, and 80% of the country had never heard of Sarah Palin. It struck me that even though so many Republicans had issues with her at the time, they strongly urged us to interview her while in Alaska.
Before returning home, we made a call to Palin’s office, and, lo and behold, were given an hour to spend with her and interview her on camera. As someone who unabashedly believes in God, and finds moral striving to be critical in today’s America, I was surprised to discover that we both shared a Pentecostal upbringing. In our profession, we get to interview people of all walks of life. Yet we were so impressed by this woman called Palin, her unwavering faith in moral absolutes, and her warmth and sincerity towards our production crew, that we found ourselves feeling almost awestruck upon leaving her offices.
Back in Washington that fall, when we mentioned Governor Palin to insiders, many of them considered it laughable that she would one day be considered someone's vice-president; so the interview and our experience lay dormant. Fast forward to where we are now and Senator Barack Obama’s decision not to select Senator Hillary Clinton as his running mate, and out of the wild blue yonder, McCain selects Palin as his. Who would have ever thought that Palin, an unknown and, in some minds, untested small state Governor could have had such an impact on women voters and the conservative base so quickly? Read more ..
|Samuel M. Edelman||September 8th 2008|
Cutting Edge Contributor
Sarah Palin and John McCain are walking into the 21st century looking through a rear view mirror (as Marshall McLuhan liked to say). Every speech during the convention including both Palin’s and McCain’s was focused solely on events of the past. They connected to Ronald Reagan’s vision of the party and America, from more than 25 years ago, Barry Goldwater’s vision of America from more than 30 years ago and of course the convention was consumed with retelling the heroic story of John McCain’s incarceration and torture at the hands of the North Vietnamese. What was missing from the speeches and the videos and the general convention was any sense of the future. Nor reference to technology changing America, no vision of the needs of a new infrastructure and changes in education to meet the needs of the new technologies was addressed by any one person. They all are bowing down to the altar of the past. Read more ..
|Elizabeth Black||September 1st 2008|
Cutting Edge Columnist
|Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska|
I was traveling some back roads of the glorious American West on assignment when I heard the news by cell phone just as service faded in atop one high hill. McCain’s pick for vice president, my friend declared, was the governor of Alaska, Sarah Palin. “Who is Sarah Palin?” I asked.
Palin, I was told, was into her second year as governor of Alaska. Forty-four, mother of five—a self described “hockey mom,” an ardent social conservative, a reformer of political corruption, a good-looking gun-toting Annie Oakley kind of gal, once a runner up for Miss Alaska, and fond of moose stew.
I was taken aback, as was much of America. This was the best pick for vice president by a 72-year-old man who has suffered recurring bouts of cancer in recent years? Had John McCain gone senile? And if such a pick was not simple senility, what did it say about the judgment and decision-making capacity of John McCain?
Perhaps it shouldn’t have taken anyone by surprise. McCain is a man known to make gut decisions and not listen to counsel, a bit like the Current Occupant of the White House. We liked that from McCain as a senator. It enlivened the stuffy halls of Congress and made for great sound bites and entertaining stints on Jay Leno, David Letterman, and Saturday Night Live. But gut-governing from a president seems a different matter. Among the crowd that enjoyed seeing an American president clear brush and drive around in a pickup, shooting from the hip and ruling from the gut was attractive in George W’s early years in office. And then a few years after he struck back after 9/11 by invading a country that had nothing to do with 9/11, ruling on gut impulse was no longer so attractive in a leader. Read more ..
|Star Parker||August 25th 2008|
Cutting Edge Columnist
A key feature of the housing bill that President Bush recently signed into law was the federal bailout of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
These are the two taxpayer backed "Government Sponsored Enterprises" that own or guarantee almost half of all mortgages in the country.
Of the many words written about this bailout, those in a New York Times op-ed by William Poole, former head of the Federal Reserve Bank of Saint Louis, contain one of the most relevant and powerful messages:
"Critics of the congressional housing package complain that we are now committing taxpayers to huge new outlays to rescue Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. That view is wrong: Congressional inaction over the past 15 years had already committed taxpayers to the bailout."
Paul Gigot of the Wall Street Journal reviewed in his paper the coverage that it had been giving since 2001 to the rot inside these two entities.
Gigot also points out that, despite the rationale that we allegedly need these taxpayer-backed enterprises in order for those of modest incomes to get mortgages, in 2002, Fannie Mae "was able to pay no fewer than 21 of its executives a million dollars," and in 2003, its CEO, Franklin Raines, who was ousted for financial shenanigans at the firm, was paid $20 million. And, he left with a $25 million retirement package. Read more ..
Is the U.S. Economy Safe?
|James Quinn||August 11th 2008|
Cutting Edge News Financial Contributor
The top financial institutions in the world have created the biggest financial crisis since the Great Depression. Through their greed and excessive risk taking, our system has been on the brink of disaster since January, 2008. Our Treasury Secretary, Hank Paulson, has been using our tax dollars to prop up these poorly run institutions. Many don’t understand the lack of outrage in this country.
Start with Merrill Lynch, perhaps the least credible of all banking institutions and certainly a poster child for the worst type of behavior. John Thain is the Chairman and CEO of Merrill Lynch. He makes in excess of $50 million per year in compensation. Previously, Thain held positions as President, COO and CFO at Goldman Sachs. He is a close associate of Hank Paulson. Consider these recent quotes from Mr. Thain: After selling $6.6 billion of preferred shares to a group that included Japanese and Kuwaiti investors, Thain stated on January 15, 2008, "These transactions make certain that Merrill is well-capitalized." Later, in a March 8 interview with France's Le Figaro newspaper, Thain stated, "Today I can say that we will not need additional funds. These problems are behind us. We will not return to the market."
A month later on April 8, the globetrotting Thain told reporters in Tokyo and Reuters reported, "We deliberately raised more capital than we lost last year ... we believe that will allow us to not have to go back to the equity market in the foreseeable future." Just weeks ago, on July 17, Thain declared in a conference call after posting Merrill's second-quarter results, "Right now we believe that we are in a very comfortable spot in terms of our capital." Read more ..
|Ronald Kessler||August 4th 2008|
Cutting Edge Contributor
The fact that a black man is a serious contender for the U.S. presidency is a historic achievement that signifies progress in race relations. But in emphasizing Barack Obama’s skin color around the clock, the media, some Democratic politicians, and to some extent Obama himself, have magnified rather than diminished the racial divide.
At some point in our lives, most of us have come to recognize that in conversation, gratuitously identifying a person as being "black: is inappropriate. A person’s skin color is irrelevant. For that same reason, in considering a new CEO for a company, no one would be so classless as to mention race.
Yet one way or another, almost every mention of Obama in the media dwells on the fact that he is an African-American.
Democrats have done their share to contribute to the polarization. Bill Clinton compared Obama’s win in North Carolina to Jesse Jackson’s victories in that state. Geraldine Ferraro said that if Obama were white, he would not be where he is today.
While Obama generally avoids racial references, he has referred to himself as "a skinny kid with a funny name who believes that America has a place for him."
Those around him have contributed to the racial divide. The Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr., his former pastor, made his living by claiming that whites are oppressing blacks in America. Father Michael Pfleger, another spiritual mentor, mocked Hillary Clinton’s sense of white "entitlement" when a black man is "stealing [her] show."
Michelle Obama said she is proud of America for the first time in her adult life because of Obama’s candidacy. By favoring him 9-to-1 at the voting booths, blacks make their own statement about his race. Read more ..
The majority of respondents to an unscientific Cutting Edge Reader Poll voted that they believed Iran was indeed develpping a nuclear bomb. In response to the question: Do You Believe Iran is Developing Nuclear Weapons? the results were:
* 21 percent "Yes."
* 29 percent "No
* 14 percent "Obama"
During the poll period in May 2008, The Cutting Edge News recorded 735,501 hits. During the extended poll period, the ratio continued at the same level within a few percentage points.
Edge on the Media
|Samuel Edelman||July 28th 2008|
|Senator Obama Places Prayer at Wailing Wall|
Shame, Ma’ariv, shame!
The depths, to which you will not only forego journalistic ethics, but Jewish religious custom and ethics, are beyond comprehension. The publication of Democratic presidential candidate Senator Barak Obama’s written prayer, placed in a crack between the massive stones at the Kotel, also known to most as the Western Wall, in Jerusalem breaks a taboo that has been held for generations. The fact that a young orthodox seminary student should remove the prayer from the wall, in and of itself is a grievous breach of custom and tradition. More than a million prayers a year are stuffed into the cracks of the Kotel. These prayers are considered by the rabbinate as being sufficiently sacred, that twice a year, they are taken and buried. Just as old prayer books are not just discarded, but are buried. But that the ethical crime of removing the prayer from the wall would be compounded exponentially by Ma’ariv’s publishing Obama’s prayer is beyond the pale even for Israeli “yellow” journalism.
Israel Radio and Time Magazine both quote Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz, supervisor of the Western Wall. "It damages the personal, deep part of every one of us that we keep to ourselves. The note placed between the stones of the Western Wall is between a person and his maker. It is forbidden to read them or make use of them."
In fact, rabbis have argued that it is indeed a sin to use any aspect of the wall for personal benefit. There has been a consensus by rabbis for generations now that acts such as the removal of the written prayers are a form of desecration. This is not just a Jewish issue. The rabbis are reflecting something which has universal properties for the entire world. Read more ..
Edge of Justice
Canadian victims of Hizbollah terror attacks have filed a precedent setting civil action in the Quebec Superior Court against The Lebanese Canadian Bank (LCB) in Montreal. The plaintiffs, all of whom were injured in Northern Israel in Katyusha rocket attacks, allege that LCB unlawfully provided financial services to the Hizbollah terrorist organization by allowing charity groups affiliated with Hizbollah to transfer funds prior to and during the terrorist attacks on Israeli cities in 2006.
The law suit contends that since 2004, LCB permitted the Yousser Company for Finance and Investment and the and Martyrs Foundation, two Lebanese terrorist groups, to open and maintain accounts at LCB, and to freely transfer many millions of dollars of Hizbollah funds and to carry out millions of dollars in financial transactions, within and without Lebanon, by means of wire transfers, letters of credit, checks and credit cards provided by LCB. LCB, it is charged, facilitated Hizbollah's terrorist activities and is liable to the plaintiffs for the harm that has been inflicted upon them and their families in the rockets attacks. Read more ..
|Ronald Kessler||July 14th 2008|
Cutting Edge News Contributor
Barack Obama’s approach to the war on terror shows “frightening naiveté,” says Mitt Romney.
“Even the peaceniks of the last decade have recognized that the pre-911 thinking of the early 1990s was wrong,” Romney says. “The great majority of those who opposed the conflict in Iraq nevertheless recognize that it is a war against a radical, violent Islam. But Barack is one of the few who has still refused to speak out against radical violent Islam and jihadism.”
To suggest, as Obama has, that the way to deal with terrorists is to prosecute them “bespeaks a remarkable lack of understanding of the threat which we face,” Romney says.
Obama has said the government can crack down on terrorists “within the constraints of the Constitution.” He has said, “What we know is that, in previous terrorist attacks—for example, the first attack against the World Trade Center—we were able to arrest those responsible, put them on trial. They are currently in U.S. prisons, incapacitated.”
In the 1993 World Trade bombing, while some perpetrators were prosecuted, others, like Osama bin Laden, were not, Romney points out. Moreover, Romney says, since the 9/11 hijackers did not care if they were killed or sent to jail, and all died in the attack, it is foolhardy to suggest that the threat of prosecutions would be a deterrent. Read more ..
|Elizabeth Black||July 7th 2008|
Cutting Edge Columnist
A few weeks ago, I noticed a Cal Thomas column in a local Kansas paper. Usually I would skip reading it out of blood pressure concerns. But I read this column because the headline struck me: "Obama Fails Christianity Test."
To be fair, I don’t know if Cal picked that headline. Newspaper editors generally write them. And this one appeared nationwide.
The gist of Thomas’ column seemed to be how dare Obama "go after the evangelical Christian vote." As if Obama had no right to even speak to that sizable segment of the American population since he is a "liberal" Christian, not the same as a "real Christian." A "real Christian," in Thomas’ view, is someone who believes accepting Jesus as your savior is the "one and only way to God." Without that acceptance, a person is doomed to Hell. Apparently, when asked about that particular belief, Obama waffled. He left open the possibility that there may be many different paths to God and eternal life.
In that belief, Obama stands squarely with the vast majority of Americans. A recent survey by the PEW Forum On Religion and Public Life showed that 70% of Americans say that many religions, not just their own, can lead to eternal life. Breaking it down, the statistics become even more surprising. Of those polled, that belief was expressed by 83% of mainline Protestants, 79% of Catholics, 82% of Jews and 56% of Muslims. Even among the group Thomas claims to speak for—evangelical Christians, 57% believe there’s more than one way to eternal life. I think when it comes right down to it, even the most devout among us aren’t willing to be so arrogant as to speak for the mind of God. Read more ..
|Malcolm Hoenlein||June 30th 2008|
Cutting Edge Contributor
I welcome this opportunity to speak to the Iranian people. As the executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish American Organizations, I want to tell you that we have no issue with the Iranian people. We want to see you prosper and your country develop. We want to renew the close relationship that once existed between Iran and the United States, and Iran, Israel and many countries around the world. It is regrettable that you have a leadership that does not care about your welfare and the conditions under which you live. Rather, your leadership exploits Iranian citizens in its quest for extremist goals driven by radical ideological commitments that are not consistent with the interests of the people of Iran, or the stability of the region in which Iran finds itself.
We know that the vast majority of people of Iran do not support President Ahmadinejad and the extremist goals that he seeks, or his Holocaust denial, the denigration of minorities or segments within your country, or the hatred that he expressed for other religious groups. That has not been the tradition of the people of Iran and we know that it does not reflect your sentiments. We want to work with you, help you, and support your efforts to achieve a better life, have a government that truly reflects your priorities, your interests, and can help contribute to a different kind of region in the Middle East--and a better world at large.
What is happening in Iran now is a diversion of national resources from education and healthcare, and from meeting the needs of the citizens of Iran, to this singular effort to achieve a nuclear weapons capacity at any cost, in violation of several UN Security Council resolutions. They have driven those who advocated diplomacy and dialogue to support more and more stringent resolutions that negatively impact the economy of your country. Hundreds of billions of dollars have flowed out of Iran to the Gulf states and elsewhere. Iran, according to the World Bank, is suffering the greatest brain drain in history with hundreds of thousands of educated Iranians leaving and a total population loss of ten percent. Read more ..
|Armstrong Williams||June 23rd 2008|
Cutting Edge Contributor
Recently, many people watching and listening to my national TV and radio appearances in recent days—from CNN to XM Radio, seem to have developed the impression that any support for Obama from me – or any other black conservative for that matter – is due solely to race. Unfortunately, if anyone thinks there is a concrete Obama vote coming from me, or that I believe the black community should all rally behind and vote for Obama because he is black, they have it wrong. Let me elaborate on what my comments really mean – or rather what they don’t.
I do not condone Harvard professor Cornell West who turns blackness into a political ideology. The Illinois senator used to be accused by people like West of “not being black enough.” But apparently he’s now black enough and can identify with black America – which means what? Can he not identify with or represent white America? Even today human slavery and its aftermath remains the stain of American society. No one will argue that the reasons Sunday church service remains segregated is because of how this country once separated its brethren based on race. The same can be said for why they're black and white fraternities; historical black colleges; black engineering societies; the NAACP; National Urban League. The list could goes on.
It would be disingenuous to not acknowledge the ills slavery has wrought on this society. Many hustlers have used this racial divide to create a thriving industry that continues to flame and focus on the ills of the past and the scant progress achieved over the past decade. While Rev. Jackson and Rev. Al Sharpton had no chance of claiming the democratic nomination for president, Senator Barack Obama not only shows the progress of America, but reminds the world that we're still that shining city on the hill offering hope and prosperity around the globe. Read more ..
Inside Islamic Europe
|Adrian Morgan ||June 16th 2008|
Two American preachers in Birmingham, UK, were warned to leave for allegedly distributing Christian leaflets to Muslims. The preachers, 48-year-old Arthur Cunningham and 65-year-old Pastor Joseph Abraham, were talking to four Muslim youths when a "police community support officer" (PCSO) approached them.
According to the Daily Mail, the PCSO was Naeem Naguthney. PCSOs are auxiliary members of the police force who have less training and status than a police constable.
According to Cunningham, Naguthney "realized we were Americans and then started ranting at us about George Bush and American foreign policy. He said we were in a Muslim area and were not allowed to spread our Christian message. He said he was going to take us to the police station."
Cunningham also stated: "I told him that this had nothing to do with the gospel we were preaching but he became very aggressive. He said we were in a Muslim area and were not allowed to spread our Christian message. He said we were committing a hate crime by telling the youths to leave Islam and said that he was going to take us to the police station." Read more ..
The majority of respondents to an unscientific Cutting Edge Reader Poll voted that they believed Hilary Clinton would be the best presidential candidate in the event of a conlifct between Israel and Iran over Tehran's nuclear ambitions. McCain received the second highest confidence votes, with Obama coming in third.
In response to the question: Which Presidential Candidate Do you Favor in a Nuclear Conflict Between Iran and Israel? the results were:
* 51 percent "Clinton"
* 35 percent "McCain"
* 14 percent "Obama"
During the poll period in May 2008, The Cutting Edge News recorded 436,468 hits. The poll concluded just as Hillary Clinton formally conceded the Democratic primary nomination to Obama. Scores of votes for Obama were disqualified when security features on the poll detected one computer repeatedly voting during a several hour period.
What We Have Come To
Hundreds of Germans, tortured by inner voices, are looking for priests to help free them from what they believe to be the grip of the Devil.
Up to one person per day undergoes a full scale exorcism, a priest estimates, according to the Times Online. "Over the past year alone I have received requests from around 350 people who think they are possessed by an evil spirit," says Fr Joerg Mueller, who heads a group of priests, doctors and therapists to deal with the problem.
"Therapy hasn't worked for them; they want exorcism — a prayer that can free them."
Bavaria-based Fr Mueller was talking to a team from WDR, the state radio network, which was allowed to record extracts from eight exorcisms. This has come as a shock to the Catholic Church in Germany, which has shied away from exorcism since the tragic case of Anneliese Michel in 1973.
Ms Michel, 23, had epilepsy and suffered from hallucinations. Two priests were authorised to perform an exorcism. They performed the ritual 67 times until she died. After her death the priests and her parents were sentenced to six months suspended jail sentences for not referring her for medical treatment.
Permission for a full exorcism now has to be granted by a bishop, but few permits have been given. Frustrated by the lack of exorcists in their own country, disturbed Germans are turning to esoteric spiritual healers and priests in Switzerland and Poland. Andrzej Trojanowski, a Polish priest, even has plans to set up an exorcism centre in Poczernin, on the Polish-German border.
"I would say that 90 per cent of those who think they are possessed by the devil are mentally ill," Fr Mueller said. A large number of them have suffered sexual abuse as children. Some think that an exorcism is easier than long years of psychotherapy.
|Samuel M. Edelman||June 2nd 2008|
Cutting Edge Contributor
So he got the name wrong. Big deal! So Auschwitz in Poland was not liberated by his great uncle—it was instead the little known Ohrdruf subcamp of Buchenwald in Germany. So what, indeed! But that seems to be the response of most in the media, except for the media connected in some fashion to the Republicans. The reality though is that Senator Obama’s gaff is in fact a big deal, a very big deal.
To refresh the collective recollection, Senator Obama recently stated at a rally, "I had an uncle who was part of the first American troops to go into Auschwitz and liberate the concentration camps.”
Senator Obama’s reference to Auschwitz is the equivalent to Senator McCain not knowing the difference between Sunni and Shia. These misstatements are symptomatic of a lack of comprehensive historical understanding. It is bad enough that our school children fail in knowing geography and history. But when our candidates for president fail, this is indeed a sad state of affairs. Yet, the media has given Senator Obama a “Pass.”
Understanding the geography of hate give us an understanding of how to combat it. History prepares today’s leaders for tomorrow crisis. Not knowing history, and failing to learn from it, dooms us to repeating it.
Why is it important that Senator Obama know the difference between Buchenwald in Germany and Auschwitz in Poland? Knowing that the Soviets liberated Auschwitz and the U.S. liberated Buchenwald helps us to understand the developing geographic separations which ultimately would divide Europe for decades and set in place tensions and pressures which continue to play out in today’s world. Read more ..
|Joseph Grieboski||May 26th 2008|
Cutting Edge Foreign Editor
Rumors of a coup are flying in Zimbabwe if the incumbent, Robert Mugabe, loses the presidential run-off.
"There's no way we are going to lose the run-off," a senior ruling party figure said. "We are going to make sure of that. If we lose … then the army will take over…Never be fooled that [opposition leader Morgan] Tsvangirai will rule this country. Never," the official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said in Harare.
The Sydney Morning Herald reports that the rank and file are disgruntled at conditions and jealous of the farms and fancy lifestyles of commanders. Young officers predict a coup would split the army.
“It's the senior officers running the terror campaign in the rural areas," said Morris, 35, an army captain who did not want his last name published. "It's being done by colonels and lieutenant-colonels. The lower ranks don't want what is happening. If the old man lost, he should just give up," he said, referring to Mugabe.
At the same time, Mugabe threatened Sunday to kick out U.S. ambassador James McGee, accusing him of meddling in the country's internal affairs.
"Tall as he is, if he continues doing that (meddling), I will kick him out of the country," Mugabe said in a speech to launch his campaign ahead of a presidential run-off election next month. "As long as he carries on doing that, I will kick him out of the country," Mugabe said of McGee, a Vietnam War veteran. "He says he fought in Vietnam, but fighting in Vietnam does not give him the right to interfere in our domestic affairs. I am just waiting to see if he makes one more step wrong. He will get out.” Read more ..
Hate on Campus
|Allyson Rowen Taylor||May 19th 2008|
Cutting Edge Contributor
|Anti-Israel Protest at UC Irvine|
The first time I went to University of California Irvine was a life-changing experience. The year was 2002. I was asked to come as one of the co-founders of an educational organization called StandWithUs to witness "Palestine Awareness Week" being held by the Muslim Student Association. I received the phone call to witness what was happening by pro-Israel students. They felt they had no support and were alarmed by both the virulent posters and the size of the demonstration.
Ten activists who work within the Jewish community joined me and we walked upon a quad of black trash bags filled with papers to look like dead bodies strewn across the student walkways. Written on each bag was a name, in Arabic, of a "victim" of Israeli "genocidal brutality" while chants of "Death to Israel, and "Sharon is a baby killer" were repeated over an over again. Young women with hijabs came and videotaped the few pro-Israel protestors that had the courage to show up.
Teachers and administration told the Jewish students and their supporters to stand behind the yellow police tape, and "be quiet." We were told this was the MSA's rally, and not to "incite them" or respond to their statements. The students, who had little time to prepare for this event, held hand written signs colored in pencil proclaiming "Israel wants Peace" and "HAMAS, stop suicide bombs." We watched ourselves being watched by campus police, and had to indeed remain "well-behaved" while men with keffiya came close to our faces, with cameras, and took our pictures and yelled that we ate the bodies of Palestinian children. We watched as professors who taught at the university walked amongst the "body bags" calling out "2-4-6-8, Israel is a racist state" while we, the Jewish students and their supporters had to remain "silent."
The phrase "Never Again" at UCI does not mean "Never Again" but rather that Jewish students must witness a repeat of the type of hostile actions that occurred at universities in Nazi Germany and Austria, but here at home in the new day and yet again remain silent. This first event was the beginning of the hate fest that was to take place annually at University California, Irvine, and other campuses across the United States. Read more ..
The overwhelming majority of respondents to an unscientific Cutting Edge Reader Poll voted that they believed Coca-Cola must fairly compensate a family whose property the company acquired and benefited from after anti-Jewish seizures in Egypt?
In response to the question: Coca-Cola Should Fairly Compensate a Family Whose Property the Company Acquired After Anti-Jewish Seizures in Egypt? the results were:
* 72 percent "Yes"
* 5 percent "Not Sure"
* 23 percent "No"
During the poll period in April 2008, The Cutting Edge News recorded 249,492 hits. Hundreds of votes supports supprted Coke from two sources in rural Pennsylvania and Atlanta were disqualified when security features on the poll detected two specific computers voting dozens of times during a several hour period.
|Ronald Kessler ||May 12th 2008|
Cutting Edge Contributor
Can you imagine the president of the United States attending a church where the pastor says everyone has a bit of "thug" in him and praises a rapper with a criminal record as a prophet? How about a pastor who calls the biblical patriarch Abraham a "pimp" and says Noah and Moses were thugs, Jesus has a "soft spot for thugs," and everyone has some "thug proclivities."
If Barack Obama is elected president, that is exactly what will happen. Now that the Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr. is retiring from Trinity United Church of Christ, Obama has said he will continue to attend the church. Explaining his decision, Sen. Obama said that the "new pastor, the young pastor, Reverend Otis Moss, is a wonderful young pastor." He said he also still values the Trinity community.
Known as the "hip-hop pastor," Otis Moss III has served as assistant pastor of the church for two years. Moss officially takes over in June. While Moss has not expressed hatred of America and of whites, as Wright did, in a sermon on YouTube, Moss derides middle-class America for not accepting the "prophetic brilliance" of thugs.
Referring to these thugs, Moss says sardonically, "There are times when our prejudice keeps us from hearing ghetto prophets, who preach a brand of thug theology which keeps us from hearing the truth from their lips because of their course language and ragged subject-verb agreement."
To applause, Moss approvingly cites Tupac Shakur, a "gangsta" rap star with a long arrest record. Before being fatally shot in a drive-by attack in Las Vegas in 1996, Shakur faced a 120-day sentence for probation violations stemming from offenses including assault and battery and a 1994 sexual abuse conviction in New York. Read more ..
|Armstrong Williams||May 5th 2008|
Cutting Edge Contributor
As the financial burden of health care continues to rise in this country, universal coverage consumes Washington’s health policy conversation. However, discussions on measures promoting personal responsibility and preventing diseases from their onset are rarely held. If Congress is so determined to make health care affordable, the focus needs a shift to avoid these expenses in the first place. After all, 75 percent of health care costs are prescribed to preventable diseases and problems such as obesity and diabetes, according to the Center of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
But wait, if eating right, exercising, and regular screenings contribute to long-term health and cost savings, then why are these practices largely avoided by the American masses? Correct eating habits, for instance, have not changed for nearly 20 years, as 75 percent of Americans still don’t get enough fruits and vegetables in their diets. Although constantly bombarded with the notion that we need to improve the way we eat, many people still lack the resources and knowledge to know what a healthy diet actually consists of or even how to achieve it.
Equally problematic, physical activity has hardly improved since 1990. However, with obesity rates doubling in the past ten years, daily physical activity has become more important than ever. Further, over half of the CDC’s recommendations for preventing diseases advise Americans to participate in clinical screenings. Many of these tests can indicate disease possibilities up to ten years prior to the illness actually plaguing the individual, but several don’t take advantage of the information. Read more ..
The overwhelming majority of respondents to an unscientific Cutting Edge Reader Poll voted that they did not believe Barack Obama's claim that he was unware of Pastor Wright's inflammatory anti-American remarks.
In response to the question: Is Barack Obama Telling the Truth About Not Knowing of Pastor Jeremiah Wright's Bigotry? the results were:
* 16 percent "Yes"
* 3 percent "Not Sure
* 81 percent "No"
During the poll period in March 2008, The Cutting Edge News recorded 257,243 hits. Hundreds of votes in favor of Obama's truthfulness were disqualified when security features on the poll detected one specific computer voting several times per minute over and over again for hours on end in what appeared to be a pre-set robot program.
|Armstrong Williams||April 28th 2008|
Cutting Edge Contributor
Just like her super delegates and supporters, Senator Clinton’s campaign staff is heading for the doors. The latest exit stage right is chief presidential campaign strategist, Mark Penn, who was forced out due to secretly meeting with Colombian trade officials while simultaneously telling the Senator to continue bashing free trade. Although Clinton has supported free trade in the past, she has recently put up an anti-NAFTA facade in order to mesmerize the labor union vote and keep them pinned in her corner.
Recently, Penn visited with Colombian leaders to discuss the pending free trade pact which Clinton (since Ohio’s primary) has criticized. While she supported NAFTA in her biography and as the First Lady, she now opposes it and other free trade agreements. Surprised? Of course not! Now that she needs the far reaching, deep pocketed, liberal, union vote, she’ll say and do whatever it takes to win their vote.
In fact, while First Lady, her husband supported trade agreements with Mexico, China, Canada and other nations and free trade continues to be one of the most important parts of his post-presidency work. Records show that she attended meetings that were designed to build support for NAFTA and other trade agreements. She says now that she spoke up in opposition at those meetings, and that Bill Clinton’s staffers support that fact, but her claim seems more than farfetched. Read more ..
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