If you don't watch another video this year, please watch DENNIS PRAGER: Q & A AT UNIVERSITY OF DENVER
Hard to argue with but some, I am sure, will.
Brown University is, perhaps, one of the most Liberal and Far Left in the Ivy League group so it is only natural that John Meisheimer was invited to speak.
Being an elitist he is considered among his peers to be a giant intellect. He may physically be tall but he carries a lot of small ideas in his head. (See 1 below.)
The author attributes the root of voter rage to a government that has failed them.
Yes, that may be part of the basis for rage but the other part is that voters have failed themselves. If government failure is the sole answer then we are back to playing Obama's game of blame shifting.
When we become wee people instead of responsible and informed adults we have only ourselves to blame. (See 2 below.)
The New York Times has perfected the act of shifting blame. (See 2a below.)
Yemen's president see nothing special about our desire to wipe out al Qaeda operatives that place bombs on planes so he bars our special forces from doing so. (See 3 below.)
Those radical Baptists are now exploding bombs in Turkey. No,the world has no Muslim problem only NPR. (See 4 below.)
Meanwhile, Netanyahu will visit the U.S. next week, meet with Biden and try to light a fire under the Administration in regard to fighting terrorism. Good Luck Bibi. If matches won't work, try a blow torch. (See 4a below.)
Maureen Dowd, Pat Caddell and Doug Schoen explain the facts of life to the "first dude." They suggest he think about trying leadership while vacationing in India. (See 5 and 5a below.)
George Will writes about what is at stake. (See 6 below.) aaac
Finally, China's control and allocation of rare earth will have future economic implications. (See 7 below.)
1)Deep Thoughts from Professor Mearshimer
By Jack Schwartzwald
On September 27, 2010, Professor John Meirsheimer delivered an address to a mesmerized gallery of the Semitically-challenged at Brown University. News of the event was trumpeted in the local Jewish press by no less a personage than Elizabeth Hollander, holder of the prestigious "interim co-chair" at J Street RI.
In her article entitled, "Mearshimer asserts: the two-state solution is dead," Hollander glowingly describes the keynote speaker as "an award-winning international relations scholar." No doubt, she is paying tribute to the research methodology Mearsheimer and his co-author, Stephen Walt, employed in the work that made them famous -- The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy.
In his Brown address, Mearsheimer's scholarly acumen was again on display as he outlined four possible outcomes to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict -- among them, the establishment of a "bi-national democratic state" in which Arabs would outnumber Jews. As this would constitute what Hollander calls "an unpalatable outcome for most Jews," Mearsheimer suggested a second possibility: "ethnic cleansing," which, as Hollander explains, "would involve the expulsion of all Palestinians from greater Israel." Alas for the award-winning scholar, it is difficult to imagine this idea gaining traction in the Israeli Knesset, given that Meir Kahane, the last Knesset member to suggest anything like it, was "ethnically cleansed" from Israeli politics in 1988. Indeed, easily accessible resources reveal that Zionism's leading lights have consistently rejected the notion of ethnic cleansing. Still, one could argue that the evidence is subtle -- and it is easy to see how a busy scholar like Mearsheimer might have overlooked it given the many distractions that have emanated from the Middle East across the decades (such as the Arab League's self-proclaimed "war of extermination" against the Jews in 1948, the expulsion of 850,000 Jews from their homes across the Arab world following Israel's establishment, the ubiquitous Arab threats to "drive the Jews into the sea," and, most recently, Iran's threat to wipe Israel off the map). Let us, therefore, dwell no further on an understandable oversight.
Option three, according to Mearsheimer, calls upon Israel to establish "some sort of apartheid" in the land between the Jordan and the Mediterranean -- an idea likely gleaned from the entrails of the same sacrificial animal Mearsheimer and Walt examined in researching their famous book. (Indeed, the fact that this particular animal is considered unclean in some parts of the world probably goes far to explain why Egyptian TV currently has no plans to turn The Israel Lobby into a 41-part TV series). In any event, Mearsheimer seems again to have strayed from the trail of evidence. Under Israeli law, Israel's Arab citizens are guaranteed full legal equality. Hence, provided one makes exception for the treatment of women, gays, and ethno-religious minorities in Arab lands, there has never been any evidence for apartheid in the Middle East -- and it is probably safe to assume that there never will be.
Tragically, Mearsheimer postulates that his fourth and final option -- the "two-state solution" -- has suddenly died. If true, an autopsy would likely disprove the putative cause of death, which Mearsheimer characterizes as Israel's "inability to make the concessions necessary for a viable Palestinian state." Again, I'm no world-famous scholar, but I seem to recall reading somewhere that when the Peel Commission first proposed partition in 1937, the Jews approved, and the Arabs rioted. Likewise -- and do correct me if I'm wrong -- when the U.N. voted in 1947 for two states in Palestine -- one Arab, one Jewish -- the Jews approved, while the Arabs opted for the aforementioned "war of extermination."
This is not to say that Israel hasn't stymied the peace process from time to time by jumping to unfounded conclusions: In 2000, Ehud Barak proposed a Palestinian state in all of Gaza and 95% of the West Bank. Yasser Arafat answered the offer with a five-year terrorist war -- which Barak automatically assumed meant no. Similarly, when Mahmoud Abbas gave no answer at all to Ehud Olmert's statehood offer in 2008, Olmert reflexively took it to mean probably not. In neither case did Israel attempt to gather further evidence using Mearsheimer's trademark scholarly technique of not conducting any interviews and relying solely on secondary sources.
The danger inherent in accepting conclusions that have not been rigorously verified is illustrated by the hasty interpretation of Mahmoud Abbas' recent refusal to talk peace during the first nine months of Israel's unprecedented ten-month building freeze in Judea and Samaria. Cynics claimed that Abbas dragged his feet so that he could reach the peace table just in time to watch the world shower opprobrium on Israel when the freeze expired. Apparently, it never occurred to Israelis that if Abbas had sauntered willy-nilly to the peace table, he might have missed an episode of the popular Palestinian Authority TV quiz show wherein $100 prizes are awarded to contestants who deny Israel's existence.
J Street wins kudos for covering Mearsheimer's important Brown University address and for all the other excellent "pro-peace, pro-Israel" work that it does. Obviously, the litany is too long to recount, but a brief sampling is worthwhile. Recently, for example, J Street co-founder Daniel Levy announced that Israel's recreation in 1948 was "an act that was wrong." Undoubtedly, this thoughtful remark explains the recent overwhelming upsurge in Arab support for Israel's continued existence. Likewise, J Street's persuasive Zionophilic arguments have won over former anti-Zionists like George Soros to the "pro-peace, pro-Israel" camp. Indeed, Soros contributes $250,000 to J Street every year.
No J Street tribute would be complete without mentioning the organization's director, Jeremy Ben-Ami, whose input was apparently crucial to the Obama administration's delicate handling of Israel's "housing gaffe" during Joe Biden's visit last spring. A "hawk" on Israeli security, Ben-Ami declared in a November 2009 debate with Alan Dershowitz that Israel has the right to build "a very strong and tall and big wall" between itself and those who would attack the Jewish state -- provided the wall is situated on a negotiated border. How pragmatic! Hitherto, peace talks have been hamstrung by Israel's stubborn pie-in-the-sky notion that the goal of negotiations should be a "durable peace," rendering security barriers unnecessary. Ben-Ami would, instead, have Israel seek a building permit from its enemies, telling it where it can build "a very strong and tall and big wall" to defend itself against the continuing jihad. The potential benefits of adopting this course are obvious. Once an agreement is reached, for example, the Obama administration might offer up to 12 months of U.N. vetoes in return for a construction freeze on what is already being touted as the Ben-Ami Barrier.
J Street's greatest legacy, however, must be credited to its entire membership. In her article on Mearsheimer, Ms. Hollander summarized the thesis of The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy as asserting that a "pro-Israel lobby" exerts "influence on our ... policy toward the Middle East in ways that undermine the long-term interests of both Israel and the United States." The proof of this thesis -- formerly elusive -- is now on display whenever J Streeters look in the mirror.
Jack Schwartzwald is a Clinical Assistant Professor of Medicine at Brown University's Warren Alpert School of Medicine.
2)The Roots of Voters' Rage
By Bob Weir
Well, folks, we're almost there! By the middle of next week, the verdict will be in on the first two years of a Democrat-controlled government. The majority of political pundits are predicting an easy GOP sweep of the House and a pretty good chance of taking the Senate. Prognostications are always a reason for concern because they could cause some people to believe that it's in the bag, hence their vote won't really affect the outcome. Nevertheless, projections are that voter turnout will be at record levels. There's nothing like an economic crisis to motivate people to take part in the electoral process. People are hurting, and they are justifiably angry.
The roots of their rage are distrust of a government that failed them miserably.
While most people worked at their jobs, paid their taxes, raised their families, and obeyed the law, politicians were sowing poisonous seeds that would ultimately chip away at the country's foundation. Congressman Barney Frank of Massachusetts and his partner in crime, Connecticut Senator Chris Dodd, in their infinite liberalism, twisted arms in the financial services sector until home loans were issued that people had no chance of repaying. In true ideological fashion, those two perhaps well-intentioned but certainly not very economically astute bozos managed to muscle their hare-brained scheme into the infrastructure of the mortgage industry.
The rest is history, and most of us are paying for those costly errors. That's the danger of ideologues; they lead with their hearts instead of their heads. There's nothing wrong with being sympathetic toward the needs of our neighbors and doing everything within reason to better their circumstances. But you can't build a permanent foundation on sand, good intentions notwithstanding. In the real world, either two and two make four, or thousands of homes across the country start going into foreclosure. Perhaps Frank and Dodd saw themselves as benevolent visionaries, able to implement a system that would assure every family the realization of the American dream: a home of their own. Instead, they pushed the envelope, forcing banks to make loans they shouldn't have made. Those loans were bought by Fannie Mae and Freddy Mac, leading to the housing bubble and the collapse of Lehman Brothers and soon the entire financial network.
What should have been obvious from the beginning is that people who can't afford a mortgage at prime interest rates certainly can't afford a subprime rate. Capital markets operate on the principle of risk vs. reward. If you invest in stocks, you're taking a risk, but if you select wisely, you can expect a higher rate of return than you would on risk-free Treasury Bills, for example, which are backed by the full faith and credit of the issuing country or institution.
It's the same with loans. Less creditworthy subprime borrowers represent a riskier investment; therefore, lenders will charge them a higher interest rate than they would a prime borrower for the same loan. The reason behind the economic meltdown was that lenders were no longer allowed to use the benefit of their vast experience in the money marketplace. Instead, they were pressured to gamble with a philosophy that couldn't be backed up by common sense and basic math. Incidentally, President Obama can't be blamed for this part of the collapse, but Senator Obama definitely can. He was number two on the Fannie and Freddy list of favorite politicians in 2008, lining up at the trough for big campaign bucks. Only Senator Dodd received more than Obama, and Dodd was, not surprisingly, Chairman of the Senate Banking Committee. The corruption can't be any clearer; the hardworking, taxpaying citizens of this country have been ripped off by a bunch of greedy, acquisitive swindlers. Like the snake-oil salesmen they are, when they get caught with the money in their grubby little fists, they begin posturing with eloquent statements designed to confuse the public about their complicity in the fraud.
Is it any wonder why the Tea Party movement was able to grow so quickly? In February 2009, when Rick Santelli began waxing indignant on CNBC from the floor of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, it was the rant heard around the world and one of the stimulants that led to a massive outburst of anger from Americans, tired of having their pockets picked by the den of thieves in D.C. Santelli declared on national television, "This is America! How many of you people want to pay for your neighbors' mortgage that has an extra bathroom and they can't pay their bills? The government is promoting bad behavior!" Perhaps, on November 2, we can create a new paradigm and begin promoting good behavior. God help us if we don't.
Bob Weir is a former detective sergeant in the New York City Police Department. He is the executive editor of The News Connection in Highland Village, Texas. E-mail Bob.
2a)New York Times Plays Blame Game on Negotiations Impasse
By Gilead Ini
Direct peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority have been frozen, and replaced with debate over which side is to blame for the impasse. The Palestinians insist Israel's settlement policy is the reason for the derailment of talks. Israel responds that, unlike the Palestinians, it wants direct talks to resume immediately, and that the issue of settlements, like other areas of dispute, can only be solved by way of peace talks. Meanwhile, the New York Times, which is expected to report this news in an impartial manner, has instead become a participant in the blame game.
One could argue that fault is in the eye of the beholder. Ultimately, since the Palestinians are the ones who refuse to talk, direct responsibility for the stalemate clearly lies with them. But because Palestinian leaders condition the resumption of face-to-face negotiations on an extension of Israel's settlement moratorium, something which Israel has resisted doing, then from the Palestinian perspective it is Israel's stance that indirectly prevents talks.
By that logic, though, the ball was returned to the Palestinian court when Israel suggested it would resume the moratorium in exchange for Palestinians recognition of the Jewish state. The Palestinian refusal to do so took on the role briefly played by that Israel's refusal to extend the settlement moratorium — it became the indirect reason for the continued stalemate.
Whatever the rights and wrongs of the parties' respective positions, the diplomatic maneuvering is not unexpected from diplomats whose job is to pursue what they see as their national interest. The New York Times, on the other hand, is expected on its news pages to report on the maneuvering without advocating for one side's position. This it hasn't done.
In a series of news stories about the state of negotiations, the newspaper has promoted the idea that Israeli settlements — and not, for example, Palestinian obstinacy or their refusal to recognize the Jewish state — are primarily at fault for the stalemate.
Since September, the month during which direct talks both started and stalled, the Times published no fewer than five headlines or subheadlines fingering only Israeli building as being responsible for "stymying," "snagging," or "clouding" peace talks.
A Sept. 3 headline insisted that "Settlements In West Bank Are Clouding Peace Talks." On Sept. 23, another headline announced, "Palestinian Man Is Killed in Jerusalem While Peace Talks Hit Snag on Settlements." And five days later, a subhead argued that "West Bank Settlements Remain Obstacle."
The next month began with an Oct. 2 headline charging, "Settlement Issue Stymies U.S. Envoy's Mideast Effort." And on Oct. 16, the large font told readers that "Israel's Plan to Build in East Jerusalem Clouds Peace Negotiations." (These are headlines from the print edition. Online headlines may differ.)
While there is certainly room for different views about the utility of settlements, it is clear that these headlines promote the Palestinian narrative about the breakdown of peace talks. The article "Settlements In West Bank Are Clouding Peace Talks" is a case in point. The headline, cloud analogy and all, seems to come directly from a point argued in the article by a Palestinian negotiator. Nabil Shaath, described by the Times as the Palestinian foreign relations commissioner, is quoted saying that "the cloud is still there" because "the Israelis gave absolutely no hopeful signs that they will continue the [settlement] moratorium." (Unlike the headline writer, Shaath acknowledged that the emphasis on building is part of the Palestinian "point of view.")
The text of the article likewise put the onus on Israel to compromise, and not the Palestinians. Abbas and Netanyahu, it asserted, "did not confront the one issue that could sink these talks in three weeks: whether Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will extend a moratorium on the construction of Jewish settlements in the West Bank."
As noted above, would be at least just as true, if not more precise, for the newspaper to describe the issue that could sink talks as whether Abbas will continue to refuse compromise on the issue of negotiations and settlements. It is, after all, the Palestinian leader who decided to break from the status quo with a new demand that Israel freeze building; for years the two sides had negotiated, with some success, without any ban on Israeli building across the Green Line. But the article says no such thing about Abbas's lack of flexibility. (It does, though, make sure to charge that Netanyahu "has not offered any hint of a compromise.")
The other articles are marred by the same bias. The Oct. 2 story, for example, opens with the argument that peace talks "have run aground on Israel's decision to allow a freeze on West Bank Jewish settlement construction to expire." Again, the newspaper's language neatly corresponds with Palestinian talking points quoted in the same article. "The key to direct negotiations," argued Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat, "is in the hands of Netanyahu." It is, of course, in the Palestinians self-interest to put the ball in Israel's court while deflecting from their own responsibility for preventing direct negotiations. But it unethical for the New York Times to do the same.
And what about Netanyahu's offer, which put the ball back in the Palestinian court? After the Prime Minister indicated he would freeze settlements in exchange for Palestinian recognition of the Jewish state, no New York Times headlines announced that Abbas's rejection of this offer "clouded" peace talks. Instead, the newspaper questioned Netanyahu's motives. "Netanyahu's New Offer Doesn't Sway Palestinians or Shed Light on His Motives," read the headline to an Oct. 12 story. The Israeli offer, according to the article, was meant either to keep talks alive while assuaging Netanyahu's coalition partners, or to "shift the burden of failure to the Palestinians and escape blame should the talks wither and die."
It seems that, just as the Times struggles with attributing responsibility to the Palestinians for the negotiations impasse, the newspaper also has trouble imagining that the Palestinians, too, are capable of trying to "shift the burden of failure" with their negotiating tactics. Nor does the newspaper consider that Israel might see Palestinian acceptance of the Jewish state as a key confidence building step, one that would convince skeptics who doubt Abbas's commitment to the concept of two states for two peoples.
As a whole, then, the newspaper's handling of the negotiations impasse is marked by the same one-sidedness evident in so much of the newspaper's Arab-Israeli coverage.
3)Yemeni President bars US commando raid on al Qaeda package plotters
Al Qaeda mastermind Ibrahim Hassan Al Asiri, Al Qaeda's package plot mastermindThe mastermind of the Al Qaeda (AQAP) plot to plant explosive packages aboard US-bound air freighters is identified by exclusive counter-terror sources as Ibrahim Hassan Al Asiri, a Saudi Arabian. He is hiding out at the main Al Qaeda fighting base in the Yemeni province of Al Gouf, 140 kilometers south of Sanaa.
Saturday night, Oct. 30, Yemeni president Abdullah Ali Saleh was still refusing to allow Washington to land US special forces in Al Gouf to wipe out the al Qaeda bastion which has so far resisted all the Yemeni army's efforts to root it out. Based there, according to US and Saudi intelligence, is the al Qaeda (AQAP) infrastructure of terror planners and bomb makers who planted the two explosive packages taken off cargo flights bound for Chicago, US, on Friday.
With Yemeni troops falling back against AQAP, US and Saudi forces Saturday stepped up their UAV strikes on the Al Gouf hideouts to keep al Qaeda fighters from escaping to other parts of Yemen. The US drones came from Djibouti and the Saudi pilotless aircraft from Assir just north of Yemen.
Military sources reveal US Combined Task Force - CTF 151 has been standing by Yemen's Red Sea coast aboard the Marine amphibious assault ship USS Boxer awaiting the order to land in Al Gouf, while the Marines Expeditionary Unit 26 waits on the USS Iwo Jima, accompanied by additional US warships.
Saudi King Abdullah and senior US and British government officials have been leaning hard on the Yemeni president to allow these forces to land and storm the bastion of al Qaeda's air freight package plotters. Ali Saleh Saturday night still stood by his refusal. To deflect their demands, the Yemeni president Saturday night began to disseminate an assortment of claims and data to show how hard he was working to crack the terrorist freight conspiracy.
Even when he ordered Yemeni police to seize up to 30 pieces of suspect freight and arrest a woman and her mother as suspects of planting the explosive parcels on Fedex and UPS air freighters he was acting under duress. Saudi and US intelligence dropped this information in his lap with an ultimatum to take action or else they would take matters out of his hands.
The two women are believed to be no more than couriers at the end of the line who agreed to plant the parcels for a small sum. They are unlikely to have information that goes high up to the hideouts and identities of the planners. However, by locking them up in Yemeni cells, Ali Saleh has shut the door to US and Saudi counter-terror investigators trying to garner even small crumbs of information under questioning, although they are unlikely to accept this refusal without a fight.
4) Bomb Explosion Injures 22 in Turke
"It was a suicide bomb and it appears as if the bomber blew himself up. It appears to be a male body," Istanbul police chief Huseyin Capkin told reporters.
Twelve civilians and 10 policemen were wounded in the attack in Taksim Square, Istanbul, local governor Huseyin Avni Mutlu told reporters. No organization has claimed responsibility.
A taxi driver told CNN Turk news channel he saw a 30 to 33 year-old man approach the police to ask directions, at which point the bomb detonated.
Another witness said two men had approached the police.
Turk said a second bomb was found close to the dead bomber, but state-run Anatolian news agency said parts of a bomb were found and it was unclear if it was part of the exploded bomb or a second device.
Taksim square is a major tourist attraction and transport hub, surrounded by restaurants, shops and hotels, and at the heart of modern Istanbul. It houses the Republic Monument which was built in 1928 to commemorate the creation of the Turkish Republic.
Istanbul is the business and financial centre of Turkey, an overwhelmingly Muslim nation of 75 million people that is hoping to become a member of the European Union.
Istanbul has been targeted before by Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) rebels, but the separatist group extended a unilateral ceasefire last month.
Other groups, including al Qaeda, have also attacked the city. Al Qaeda suicide bombers were behind a series of bomb attacks in Istanbul in November 2003 that killed 57 people and wounded hundreds.
Capkin said two of the wounded were in a serious condition, but there were no dead among the victims. The bomber appeared to be a man, and the blast was close to a police vehicle, he said.
A bomb disposal unit was also at the scene, and television pictures showed security forces directing emergency services at the square, which was sealed off after the blast.
In recent weeks Turkish police have made several arrests of people suspected of providing support to al Qaeda militants fighting in Afghanistan.
4a)Netanyahu to visit U.S. next week, but won't meet with Obama
PM to travel to New Orleans for annual U.S. Jewish conference, due to meet with U.S. Vice President Joe Biden.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will travel to New Orleans early in November for an annual U.S. Jewish conference, but is unlikely to meet President Barack Obama, who will be in Asia.
Netanyahu announced his plans at a cabinet meeting on Sunday and said he would hold talks in New Orleans with U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, who is also scheduled to address the Nov. 5-9 General Assembly of The Jewish Federations of North America.
Obama, who is trying to revive Israeli-Palestinian peace talks stalled over Israeli settlement building, leaves on Nov. 5 for a 10-day visit to India, Indonesia, South Korea and Japan.
Israeli officials said Netanyahu planned to fly to the United States on Nov. 7.
A new round of direct peace talks between the Israelis and the Palestinians got under way in Washington on Sept. 2 only to stop a few weeks later when Israel lifted restrictions it had imposed on West Bank settlement building for 10 months.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has demanded a construction freeze in settlements as a condition for resuming the negotiations on establishing a Palestinian state in the West Bank and in the Gaza Strip
5)Can the Dude Abide?
By MAUREEN DOWD
Barack Obama became president by brilliantly telling his own story. To stay president, he will need to show he can understand our story.
At first it was exciting that Obama was the sort of brainy, cultivated Democrat who would be at home in a “West Wing” episode.
But now he acts like he really thinks he’s on “West Wing,” gliding through an imaginary, amber-lit set where his righteous self-regard is bound to be rewarded by the end of the hour.
Hey, dude, you’re a politician. Act like one.
As the head of the Democratic Party, the president should have supported the Democratic candidate for governor in Rhode Island, the one the Democratic Governors Association had already lavished more than $1 million in TV ads on. If Obama was going to refuse to endorse Frank Caprio out of respect for Lincoln Chafee, the former Republican who endorsed him for president and is now running as an independent, the president should have at least stayed out of Providence.
Reductio ad absurdum: After two years of taking his base for granted, the former Pied Piper of America’s youth had to spar with Jon Stewart to try to get the attention of young people who once idolized him.
Obama still has the killer smile, but he’s more often sniffy than funny. When Stewart called White House legislation “timid,” Obama got defensive and offered a less-than-thrilling new mantra: “Yes, we can but ...”
“We have done things that people don’t even know about,” said Obama, who left his Great Communicator mantle back in Grant Park on election night.
In 2008, the message was him. The promise was him. And that’s why 2010 is a referendum on him.
With his coalition and governing majority shattering around him, President Obama will have to summon political skills — starting Wednesday — that he has not yet shown he has.
His arrogance led him to assume: If I build it, they will understand. He can’t get the gratitude he feels he deserves for his achievements if no one knows what he achieved and why those achievements are so vital.
Once it seemed impressive that he was so comfortable in his own skin. Now that comfort comes across as an unwillingness to be wrong.
We want the best people to govern us, but many voters are so turned off by Obama’s superior air that they’re rushing into the arms of disturbingly inferior pols.
Obama admitted to The Times’s Peter Baker: “There is probably a perverse pride in my administration — and I take responsibility for this; this was blowing from the top — that we were going to do the right thing, even if short term it was unpopular.”
But who defines what’s “right”?
With the exception of Obama, most Americans seemed to agree that the “right” thing to do until the economy recovered was to focus on jobs instead of getting the Congress mired for months in making over health insurance and energy policy. And the “right” thing to do was to come down harder on the big banks for spending on bonuses instead of lending to small businesses that don’t get bailouts.
Many of us thought the “right” thing to do was to ratify the civil rights of gay Americans in marriage and the military. (A new Pentagon study shows that most U.S. troops and their families don’t care if gays are allowed to serve openly.)
In an interview with progressive bloggers, the president was asked why he was lagging behind Republicans like Ted Olson on gay marriage.
Noting that he has a lot of friends and staffers in committed gay relationships, Obama conceded only that his attitude was evolving. “I think it’s pretty clear where the trend lines are going,” the president said.
Trend lines? Really inspiring, dude.
One top aide told me that the president — who perversely tried to marginalize a once-captivated press corps — was beginning to realize that he had not used his charm as effectively as he could have.
His inner circle believed too much in the power of the Aura and in protecting the Brand. They didn’t think they needed to sell anything or fight back when the crazies started sliming them. They didn’t care that the average citizen needed an M.B.A. to understand the financial plan and a Ph.D. to fathom what the health care plan would mean.
Because Obama stayed above it all on health care and delegated to Max Baucus, he missed the moment in August of 2009 when Sarah Palin and the Tea Party got oxygen with their loopy rants on death panels. It never occurred to the Icon that such wildness and gullibility would trump lofty rationality.
As the president tries to ride the Tea Party tiger, let’s hope for this change: that he puts some audacity in his audacity.
5a)Our divisive president, redux
By Patrick H. Caddell and Douglas E. Schoen
President Obama's post-partisan America has disappeared, replaced by the politics of polarization, resentment and division.
A choice for Obama: Try leadership
In a Univision interview on Monday, the president, who campaigned in 2008 by referring not to a "Red America" or a "Blue America" but a United States of America, urged Hispanic listeners to vote in this spirit: "We're gonna punish our enemies and we're gonna reward our friends who stand with us on issues that are important to us."
Recently, Obama suggested that if Republicans gain control of the House and/or Senate as forecast, he expects not reconciliation and unity but "hand-to-hand combat" on Capitol Hill.
What a change two years can bring.
We can think of only one other recent president who would display such indifference to the majesty of his office: Richard Nixon.
We write in sadness as traditional liberal Democrats who believe in inclusion. Like many Americans, we had hoped that Obama would maintain the spirit in which he campaigned. Instead, since taking office, he has pitted group against group for short-term political gain that is exacerbating the divisions in our country and weakening our national identity.The culture of attack politics and demonization risks compromising our ability to address our most important issues - and the stature of our nation's highest office.
Indeed, Obama is conducting himself in a way alarmingly reminiscent of Nixon's role in the disastrous 1970 midterm campaign. No president has been so persistently personal in his attacks as Obama throughout the fall. He has regularly attacked his predecessor, the House minority leader and - directly from the stump - candidates running for offices below his own. He has criticized the American people suggesting that they are "reacting just to fear" and faulted his own base for "sitting on their hands complaining."
Obama is walking a knife's edge. He has said that the 3.5 million "shovel-ready jobs" he had referred to as justification for the passage of the stimulus bill didn't exist - throwing all the Democratic incumbents who had defended the stimulus in their campaigns under the proverbial bus.
Although he said, as part of his effort to enact health-care reform, that the health-care mandates were not taxes, now his administration acknowledges in court papers that they are, in fact, taxes.
As Election Day approaches, the president and others in the Democratic leadership have focused on campaign finance by moneyed interests - an ancillary issue serving neither party nor country. They have intensified attacks on business groups such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and individual political operatives such as Karl Rove and Ed Gillespie - insisting that organizations are fronting for foreign campaign money and large secret donations and campaign expenditures. Even the New York Times has noted that "a closer examination shows that there is little evidence" that these organizations have engaged in activities that are "improper or even unusual."
It astounds us to hear such charges from the president given that his presidential campaign in 2008 refused to disclose the names of all of its donors, and in past election cycles many liberal groups, such as the Sierra Club and the Center for American Progress, refused to disclose their contributors.
To be clear, we favor disclosure of every dollar spent and closing the disclosure loophole that exists as a result of the Citizens United ruling. But it is disingenuous for a president - particularly one whose campaign effectively dynamited the lone beachhead of public financing in American politics - to scream about money pouring in against his political interests.
We are also disturbed that the office of the president is mounting attacks on private individuals, such as the founders of the group Americans for Prosperity. Having been forged politically during Watergate - one of us was the youngest member of Nixon's enemies list - we are chilled by the prospect of any U.S. president willing to marshal the power of his office against a private citizen.
The president is the leader of our society. That office is supposed to be a unifying force. When a president opts for polarization, it is not only bad politics, but it also diminishes the prestige of his office and damages our social consensus.
Moreover, the divisive rhetoric that Obama has pursued can embolden his supporters and critics to take more extreme actions, worsening the spiral.
Whatever the caliber of Obama's tactics, they might achieve some short-term success. The Republican Party has offered no narrative or broad solution, and it has campaigned exclusively to take advantage of the negative environment. It contributes merely a promise of a more hostile environment after Tuesday.
With the country beset by economic and other problems, it is incendiary that the president is not offering a higher vision for the nation but has instead chosen a strategy of rank division. This is an attempt to distract from the perceived failures of his administration. On issue after issue this administration has acted in ways that are weakening the office of the president.
Douglas E. Schoen, a pollster, is the author of "Mad as Hell." Patrick H. Caddell is a political commentator and pollster.
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------6)What's at stake Tuesday
By George Will
During the Tuesday evening deluge, pay particular attention to these stories:
-South Carolina Rep. John Spratt, second-ranking Democrat on the House Armed Services Committee, is seeking a 15th term. Missouri Rep. Ike Skelton, chairman of Armed Services, is seeking an 18th term. Texas Rep. Chet Edwards, 13th-ranking Democrat on the Appropriations Committee, is seeking an 11th term. Minnesota Rep. James Oberstar, chairman of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, is seeking a 19th term. In 2008, they won by 25, 32, 7 and 36 percentage points, respectively. In 2010, all are vulnerable, so voters in four districts could subtract 118 years of seniority.
-For 55 years, Rep. John Dingell (D-Mich.), 84, has occupied the seat his father held for 22 years before him. The son received 71 percent in 2008. His district includes Ann Arbor, which requires conservatives to leave town at sundown. (Just kidding. Sort of.) He beat his 2008 Republican opponent by 46 points. Dingell probably will win while setting the 2010 record for the largest shrinkage of a 2008 majority.
-Rep. Gene Taylor (D-Miss.), who got 75 percent in 2008, voted against Obamacare and is the only Democrat who has signed the discharge petition that would allow the House to vote on repealing the law. He lost his house to Hurricane Katrina and may lose his quest for a 12th term.
-Rep. John Salazar (D-Colo.), whose younger brother was a Colorado senator before becoming interior secretary, won in 2008 by 22 points. In Congress, Salazar has opposed cap-and-trade and TARP and supports a one-year extension of all the Bush tax cuts. The National Rifle Association has endorsed him. Nevertheless, he may lose.
-At age 10, in 1975, Van Tran escaped from South Vietnam the week before Saigon fell. Now he is running against Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D-Calif.), who seems to think immigration has gone too far: "The Vietnamese and the Republicans are, with an intensity, trying to take away this seat." Polling is difficult in this district, where many speak scant English, but the fact that Sanchez, who received 70 percent in 2008, has played the ethnicity card suggests a highly competitive contest.
-Marco Rubio will be the next senator from Florida. Susana Martinez probably will be New Mexico's next governor. If so, the two freshest Hispanic faces in national politics will be potential Republican vice presidential nominees.
-Republicans hold no statewide office and neither Senate seat in Illinois, where Barack Obama trounced John McCain by 25 points. This year, the races for governor and Senate are close. If Republicans win either, it will be the first time since 1998 they have won either the governorship or a Senate seat.
-In Washington, one of nine states without an income tax, public employees unions (abetted by two people too rich to care about taxes - Bill Gates Sr. and his son) support an initiative that would give the state government more money to give to public employees: It would impose an income tax of up to 9 percent on high earners. The unions are opposing another initiative that would require a two-thirds supermajority in the Legislature to raise taxes. The former would please those who like the tax system to be codified envy. The latter would be a firewall against rapacious government employees, who are a majority of union members nationwide.
-In 2011, California may come as a mendicant to Congress, seeking a bailout from the economy-suffocating consequences of loopy policies such as the law - Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's pride and joy - that preposterously aims to cool the planet by requiring a 30 percent reduction of carbon emissions by 2020. If Californians reject the initiative that would suspend this law until the unemployment rate falls to 5.5 percent (it now is 12.4 percent), this latest act of self-impoverishment will be a (redundant) reason for making Californians clean up the mess they have made.
-The Texas Rangers (payroll: $55 million) reached the World Series by thrashing the New York Yankees ($206 million), thereby demonstrating the limited potency of money. If Meg Whitman's campaign ($163 million) against Jerry Brown in California's governor race fails, this will refute hysterics who deny the declining marginal utility of political dollars.
-Finally, Maryland's 8th Congressional District, a Washington suburb, is a dormitory for federal workers. Hence it is incorrigibly Democratic. But Mark Grannis, the Libertarian Party's congressional candidate, deserves many votes of gratitude for his slogan, the year's best: "Less we can."
7)The Looming Rare Earths Train Wreck
By Robert Bryce
During her trip to China this week, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will talk to Chinese officials about the world’s hottest commodities: rare earth elements.
Over the past few months, industry and government officials in the U.S. and Japan have been increasingly alarmed as China, which has a near-monopoly on rare earths, has reduced its exports of those elements by some 40 percent. Adding yet more anxiety to the situation are projections about a possible shortfall in the supply of these elements. London-based Roskill Consulting Group, a research firm that specializes in metals and minerals, recently predicted that demand for rare earths could outstrip supply as soon as 2014. Rare earths are important because they have special features at the quantum mechanics level that allow them to have unique magnetic interactions with other elements. A myriad of “green” technologies -- from electric and hybrid-electric cars to wind turbines and compact fluorescent light bulbs – depend on rare earths. And there are no cost-effective substitutes for them.
Clinton’s willingness to question China about rare earths is indicative of just how seriously the U.S. is taking the rare earths issue. But it also underscores a fundamental miscalculation by the U.S. and other countries when it comes the reconfiguration of their automotive fleets.
Over the last few years, a growing number of environmentalists and national security hawks have teamed up to denounce America’s dependence on foreign oil. Their solution: all-electric and hybrid-electric vehicles. Those vehicles, they insist, will help the environment while reducing oil imports from countries in the Persian Gulf and elsewhere.
While that vision appeals to certain segments of the political class and to a myriad of subsidy-seeking corporations, the push to build more electric and hybrid cars will simply result in the U.S. trading one type of import dependence for another.
Those vehicles might cut oil consumption but they will dramatically increase America’s thirst for rare earth elements. And therein lies a crucial choice: We can continue to rely on the liquidity, price transparency, and diversity of the global oil market, the biggest market in human history. Or we can choose the “green” route. And in doing so, we will have no choice but to rely on the market for lanthanides, which is rife with smuggling, has no price transparency, and depends almost wholly on a single producer, China.
The Chinese control about 95 percent of the global market in rare earths, a group of 17 elements that includes scandium, yttrium, and the 15 lanthanides, the elements that occupy the second-to-last row of the Periodic Table. The most famous of the lanthanides is probably neodymium, a critical ingredient in the high-strength magnets used in motor-generators in hybrid cars and wind turbines.
The possibility of a shortage of rare earths provides a critical lesson about the slow pace of energy transitions as well as the inherent limits of any major move to “green” technologies. Bill Reinert, the manager of Toyota’s advanced technology group, told me that China’s export cuts should force American policymakers to unplug their support for electric vehicles because the all-electric machines are “far more lanthanide-intensive than hybrid vehicles. We should be thinking about the material inputs for these types of cars in the same way that we do any other type of energy security.”
The diversity and size of the global oil market provides the U.S. with real energy security. The numbers tell the tale. In 2009, the U.S. imported an average of 11.7 million barrels per day of crude or refined oil products from 82 different countries while it exported – yes, exported -- an average of 2 million barrels per day to customers in 83 countries.
And here’s even better news for energy security: domestic oil production is increasing. In 2009, America produced an average of 5.3 million barrels per day, the highest level since 2004. Although that’s a big drop when compared to the production levels of the early 1970s, the perfection of techniques like multi-stage fracturing of long-length horizontal wells has led some industry analysts to conclude that domestic oil production is due for a substantial increase in the next few years.
While the U.S. will slowly begin increasing production of lanthanides over the next few years, primarily from a mine in California owned by Molycorp Inc., the relative shortage of lanthanides and relative abundance of oil has left Jack Lifton, a longtime metals analyst, shaking his head. Lifton asks the obvious question “Why convert our economy so that we are dependent on a set of commodities over which we have no control?”
That’s a painful question to answer particularly given that President Barack Obama wants 1 million electric and hybrid-electric vehicles on U.S. roads by 2015. By that time, the U.S. government will have provided about $31 billion in subsidies to companies that are developing and producing electric cars. In other words, American taxpayers are paying to increase U.S. reliance on Chinese exports of lanthanides at the very same time that China is reducing those exports.
If you’ll pardon the mixed metaphor, it’s apparent that governmental efforts to designate winners in the automotive sector is creating a very expensive train wreck. And while Clinton may try to slow down the train wreck, rest assured, that train wreck is coming.
Robert Bryce is a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute. His latest book is Power Hungry: The Myths of “Green” Energy and the Real Fuels of the Future.
Saturday, October 30, 2010
When People Become Wee People We Are Blameful!
If you don't watch another video this year, please watch DENNIS PRAGER: Q & A AT UNIVERSITY OF DENVER