Obama’s irrelevant religiosity

Obama’s irrelevant religiosity
By DOUG PATTON, Conservative Viewpoint

Hernando Today

When Barack Obama told Rev. Rick Warren last year that knowing when life begins is “above my pay grade,” he was splitting hairs at a molecular level, and in so doing he told us more about himself than he may have realized. This president is more adept than any in recent memory at appearing pious while believing in nothing – except, of course, in the god of big government and the hedonism of radical autonomy.

As I wrote this, the president was in South Bend, Ind., receiving an honorary degree from Notre Dame University at the graduation ceremony of that venerable Catholic institution. The church officials responsible for the university have managed to convince themselves that this most enthusiastic of pro-abortion presidents is somehow deserving of an honorary doctorate – in law, no less – from an institution that professes to be a leading proponent of the sanctity of innocent human life.

Apparently, being a community organizer who “helped the poor” on the streets of Chicago 20 years ago somehow negates the vicious pro-death policies he has embraced since. As an Illinois state senator, he voted to condemn newborns to die in closets after botched abortions. As a United States senator, he voted to allow full-term babies to be aborted up to the moment of birth simply because they were inconvenient.

And now, as president of the United States, he advocates the destruction of human life for the purpose of embryonic stem cell research, has ordered the export of abortion beyond our shores and has promised to sign a tyrannical policy known as the Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA), which would sweep away every federal, state and local restriction on abortion – including parental notification, the federal ban on partial birth abortion and the conscience clause, which permits medical personnel to opt out of involvement in abortion procedures.

The Vatican has been silent on the president’s appearance at Notre Dame. I am not a Catholic, but it appears to me that this appeasement of the culture of death by the highest levels of the Catholic Church has effectively neutered the church as an ally in the fight for the sanctity of innocent human life. Obama, perhaps better than any politician in history, understands how to emasculate the institutions that oppose him. It’s as if, having waved his magic wand, he has blinded those who should be his greatest opposition and convinced them to aid him in furthering his agenda.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the world, in Afghanistan, American soldiers are helplessly watching as their privately owned Bibles are being confiscated and burned – not by the Afghan government, which would be outrageous enough, but rather by the U.S. military! That’s right. Because of a story on the Muslim-controlled Arab television network, Al-Jazeera, and because of the protests of a few atheists, the Bibles are being seized by Obama’s Pentagon and burned!

These Bibles were printed in Pashto and Dari, the languages of Afghans. They were sent to American Christian soldiers and chaplains by private donors. They were meant for distribution to American troops who were attending Christian church services on bases in Afghanistan.

American military officials admit that these Bibles could be useful to U.S. soldiers in learning the languages of their hosts. Also, under Army regulations, these Bibles could legally be given as gifts to Afghan citizens during the soldiers’ off-duty hours. No matter; we must appease a few disgruntled Muslims and even fewer disgruntled atheists.

According to former Navy Chaplain Gordon J. Klingenschmitt, who has recently publicized this story, U.S. Central Command’s General Order Number One defines “proselytizing” as “forcing religious conversions using military weapons.” However, writes Klingenschmitt, the order “fully permits soldiers of any religion to engage in non-threatening evangelism,” defined as “voluntary conversations about their faith.”

So, what are American Christian believers to conclude about their president? Is he truly a reasonable leader willing to listen to all points of view and to “disagree without being disagreeable?” Or is he a defender of Muslims, atheists and a culture of death at the expense of Christians and of the Christian faith he claims to embrace?

His actions, combined with his irrelevant religiosity, seem to indicate the latter.

Day of reckoning looms for the U.S. dollar

Day of reckoning looms for the U.S. dollar

Alia McMullen,  Financial Post 


The U.S. dollar’s day of reckoning may be inching closer as its status as a safe-haven currency fades with every uptick in stocks and commodities and its potential risks – debt and inflation – are brought under a harsher spotlight.

Ashraf Laidi, chief market strategist at CMC Markets, said Wednesday a “serious case of dollar damage” was underway.

“We long warned about the day of reckoning for the dollar emerging at the next economic recovery,” Mr. Laidi said in a note.

Mr. Laidi said economic recovery would weigh on the greenback as real demand for commodities, coupled with improved risk appetite, caused investors to seek higher yields in emerging markets and commodity currencies. This would draw investment away from the U.S. dollar, which was dragged down by growing debt and the risk quantitative easing would eventually spark a surge in inflation.

The U.S. dollar slid against most major currencies Wednesday, hitting a five-month low of US$1.3775 against the euro and pushing the Canadian dollar up US1.21¢ to a seven-month high of US87.69¢.

John Curran, the senior corporate dealer at Canadian Forex, said the U.S. dollar would likely fall further in the next week, with the Canadian dollar likely reaching about US88.35¢, at which point it could break higher to test the US92.35¢ level.

“The U.S. dollar is continuing to slide as investor appetite is gaining momentum,” Mr. Curran said. “People are getting comfortable about taking on a little more risk.”

The rise in the Canadian dollar has moved in lock-step with the improvement in equity markets since March 9. Over this time, the S&P 500 has risen by 34%, the S&P/TSX composite index has gained 35% and the Canadian dollar has increased by 14%, equal to almost US11¢. Since Feb. 18, light-crude oil has risen by 46% to US$62.12.

But as risk appetite and equities improve, Mr. Curran said it was unlikely the U.S. dollar would embark on a long-term decline.

“While things are beginning to thaw, it doesn’t mean it’s full-on summertime just yet,” he said. “A lot of people are looking for the Canadian dollar to strengthen dramatically again towards par. I’m not sure about that just yet.”

Nevertheless, concern has been mounting that the increasing U.S. debt load, as well as a potential inflation time bomb in the form of the quantitative easing, could drag down the greenback. Garnering attention is the risk the United States could lose its triple-A sovereign credit rating, which reflects the chance of the borrower defaulting on its debt.

“By many measures, the U.S. appears just a few short steps away from losing its coveted triple-A status, unless the recovery turns out to be considerably stronger than expected and the fiscal repair is faster than commonly expected,” said Douglas Porter, deputy chief economist at BMO Capital Markets. “A downgrade could boost the cost of funding U.S. debt at the margin, but underlying inflation and fiscal fundamentals will ultimately be the primary driver.”

Despite the risk, Paul Ashworth, chief economist at Capital Economics, said the United States was unlikely to lose its rating. But, in the event of a downgrade, he said it would probably not have a lasting impact on the U.S. dollar.

However, he said a big threat lurked in the country’s expanded monetary base, which now stands at about US$1.8-trillion. While the expanded monetary base was needed to feed economic growth and ward off deflation under the Fed’s quantitative easing plan, Mr. Ashworth said such high levels could fuel rampant inflation once broader monetary conditions improved.

He said it remained to be seen how much success the Fed will have when it decides to end its quantitative-easing plan and shrink the monetary base.


Even-Handed Idiocy

Even-Handed Idiocy
By: P. David Hornik
Thursday, May 21, 2009


Obama’s pressure on Israel stems from deep-seated delusions about the Middle East.
A mist of verbiage arises from the reports on Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s meetings with President Barack Obama and other officials in Washington. Stock words and phrases are used ritualistically that may have little connection to realities on the ground in Israel and the region. Among the more mindlessly repeated and least reality-linked are “two-state solution” and “regional peace.” 

1. “Two-state solution.” At present, in the territory between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea, three political entities already exist. One, Israel, is sovereign except for its partial or almost total relinquishment of sovereignty over the other parts of the territory. One, Gaza, is sovereign in all regards except that its borders are partially controlled by Israel and Egypt. One, the West Bank or Palestinian Authority, has a high degree of autonomy and even some of the elements of sovereignty, including its own president and prime minister, parliament, security services, education system, and so on. 

Hamas-ruled Gaza and the Fatah-ruled West Bank are increasingly separate, increasingly mutually hostile entities. On Monday, the latest in a series of Hamas-Fatah reconciliation talks in Cairo, aimed at forming a unity government, ended without results. On Tuesday, Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas went ahead and swore in a new, Hamas-free government, headed by independent prime minister Salaam Fayad.  

Both Hamas and Fatah announced that they were boycotting the new government. Hamas called it a “death certificate” for the reconciliation talks, and Fatah claims—although some of its members are among the government’s ministers—that it was not consulted as a party about the government’s formation, reflecting the deep rifts within Fatah let alone between Fatah and Hamas.  

As Israeli commentator Avi Issacharoff wrote,  

    It’s hard not to be impressed by the optimism about the Middle East that the White House is radiating…[But] the composition of [the] new Palestinian cabinet…almost conclusively dashed any hope of Palestinian reconciliation, and with it, the possibility that the Hamas regime in Gaza can be ousted in the near future. The prospect of Palestinian presidential and parliamentary elections is also getting more remote and unrealistic, while the rift between the Gaza Strip and the West Bank is only getting wider. The two-state solution doesn’t look possible right now….  

Beyond the intra-Palestinian problems, of course, the stock phrase “two-state solution” assumes that sufficient amity toward Israel exists among the Palestinians that the “two-state” situation could indeed constitute a “solution” in the near future—flying in the face of the actual, severe anti-Israeli and anti-Semitic hatred cultivated in both Gaza and the West Bank.  

And one might also mention a fourth entity—forgotten Jordan, existing in Eastern Palestine and with a 70 percent, majority-Palestinian population, yet almost systematically excluded from the discourse on a “solution” to the “problem.” Could that have something to do with the fact that a solution involving Jordan wouldn’t have to entail the truncation of Israel? 

2. “Regional peace.” In the press conference after his meeting with Netanyahu, Obama spoke of a “wide-ranging, regional peace.” Obama recently met with Jordan’s King Abdullah, and will soon be meeting with Abbas, Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak, and, on June 4, addressing the Muslim world from Cairo. Reports claim he’s planning a regional peace initiative that would not only include Israel and the Palestinians but also the surrounding Arab countries, or all the Arab countries, or even all the Muslim countries. Netanyahu is said to see merit in the idea because it would take some of the peacemaking onus off Israel. 

The notion that the time is right for such an initiative is based on the common concern about Iran between Israel and Western-aligned Sunni countries like Egypt, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia, and their covert cooperation in countering the threat. But is “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” really a basis for solid friendship—or, regional peace? 

Again, such notions ignore a major reality—in this case, the disposition toward Israel prevailing in these countries, a disposition inculcated by all the major institutions like the schools and mosques, as well as the media and the rhetoric of the regimes themselves. The 2006 Pew Global Attitudes Project, for instance, reported that “In the Muslim world, attitudes toward Jews remain starkly negative, including virtually unanimous unfavorable ratings of 98% in Jordan and 97% in Egypt.” Those are, of course, the two Arab countries that already have peace treaties with Israel. Note also that the animus is not just toward Israel or Israelis but toward Jews, meaning that Israeli policies are likely to be viewed negatively in any case and seen as arising from negative traits, of one kind or another, of Jews.  

On Tuesday, Yuval Diskin, head of Israel’s General Security Service, told the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee that “The Egyptians are making significant efforts in order to thwart [arms] smuggling from Sinai to the Gaza Strip, and recently it is even possible to discern an improvement in their achievements.” This good news, though, has to be tempered by the fact that previously, for about fifteen years, Egypt had turned a blind eye at best to the smuggling to Hamas and other deadly anti-Israeli terror groups in Gaza—despite a clause in the 1979 Israeli-Egyptian peace treaty stating that “each party undertakes to ensure that acts or threats of belligerency, hostility, or violence do not originate from…its territory….” The already-existing “regional peace” between Israel and Egypt, in other words, has been colder than cold.  

Despite these realities, the pressure on Netanyahu to prove his peace credentials, his willingness for concessions even if he regards them as jeopardizing Israel, has been relentless. At best such hectoring arises from ignorance of both the Palestinian and regional realities. America is not at its best when it puts such pressure on a fellow democracy surrounded by terrorist organizations and hate-ridden dictatorships. 

P. David Hornik is a freelance writer and translator living in Tel Aviv. He blogs at http://pdavidhornik.typepad.com/. He can be reached at pdavidh2001@yahoo.com

A Spy’s View of Pelosi’s War on the CIA

A Spy’s View of Pelosi’s War on the CIA

By: Ion Mihai Pacepa
FrontPageMagazine.com | Wednesday, May 20, 2009

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I paid with two death sentences—from my native Romania—for the privilege of serving the CIA, our first line of defense against terrorists and nuclear despots, and I am appalled to see the Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives and third in line for the White House undermining the security of the United States for personal political gain.


Nancy Pelosi’s blistering public attacks on the CIA will severely damage its ability to recruit ranking sources in enemy countries for years to come. No, the CIA officers will not run for cover—they are anonymous heroes, not cowards. But the potential high-ranking CIA sources in Iran, Syria, North Korea, China, Russia, Venezuela, Cuba and many other tyrannical countries will. Espionage is a matter of life and death. From my own experience as both intelligence recruiter and intelligence defector I know that no high ranking official puts his/her life in the hands of a foreign espionage organization publicly pilloried by its own government.


Trust is the most valuable asset of any espionage service, no matter its nationality or political flavor. This is the most important thing I learned after spending 27 years in Romania’s version of the CIA—six of them managing it—and another 31 years cooperating with the CIA. There are many ways an espionage service can lose trust. Disrespect for its own commitments and careless exposure of its sources and operations are just two of them. But nothing could be more devastating than public distrust from its own government.


I do not intend to compare the CIA with my former Romanian foreign intelligence service, the DIE, but there is a lesson there. At the peak of the Cold War, my DIE recruited as agents the highest-ranking employees the Soviet bloc ever had in NATO: the chief of NATO’s department for secret documents (François Rousilhe) and NATO’s deputy finance director (Col. Nahit Imre). We paid them in gold Napoleon coins. Both were eventually arrested by the French DST, and Romania’s tyrant Ceausescu ordered a vengeful public investigation of the DIE. My service was never again able to recruit any significant sources in any of its target countries. After I broke with communism, Ceausescu ordered another public investigation of the DIE, which soon disintegrated.


The CIA helped the U.S. win the Cold War without firing a shot because it was an ultra-secret organization trusted by its government and able to protect its sources and methods from public exposure. That allowed the CIA to gain the confidence of many ranking officials in both Eastern and Western Europe. Some became builders of democracy, others fighters of communism. In 1962, the U.S. avoided a nuclear war because a ranking CIA source (Soviet colonel Oleg Penkovsky) provided top secret documents proving that Khrushchev was installing nuclear rockets in Cuba. Soon after that, NATO neutralized the Warsaw Pact because another ranking CIA source (Polish colonel Ryszard Kuklinski) passed the CIA over 35,000 pages of Warsaw Pact secret military documents, making Moscow’s strategic plans obsolete.


In the early 1970s, however, when I decided to defect to the CIA, the Rockefeller Commission publicly painted the CIA as a rogue, out-of-control organization, and the Church Commission presented it as a criminal outfit that could not be trusted. Of course I postponed that irreversible step. If the U.S. government did not have confidence in the CIA, why should I?


In March 1978 I accompanied Ceausescu on a triumphant visit to the U.S., where President Carter publicly called him a “great national and international leader.”<!–[if !supportFootnotes]–>[1]<!–[endif]–> Four months later I screwed up my courage to break with communism, and I told the Carter administration that it was praising the wrong guy. The admired Ceausescu was in fact an international terrorist who had made a fortune by trafficking in arms and drugs, and who was in the process of selling weapons of mass destruction to terrorist states. Ten years later, this “great national and international leader” was executed by his own people.


Ceausescu was a two-bit Dracula, unable to endanger the security of the United States. But he illustrates the difference between the day-to-day intelligence collected by the CIA, and the intelligence provided to it by highly-positioned human assets able to tell what satellites cannot—what terrorists and nuclear despots have on their minds, and what their secret plans against us are.


In 1978, when I defected to the CIA, I hoped other heads of enemy intelligence services would follow in my footsteps. This has yet to happen. A new wave of Congressional investigations hit the press, exposing the CIA’s failures in handling intelligence defectors and agents. Those revelations would have scared the guts out of me, had I still been in Romania. They evidently scared off others.


The result? George Tenet’s “slam dunk” finding that Iraq had stockpiles of nuclear weapons is the greatest intelligence fiasco in American history. Over 4,000 U.S. soldiers paid with their lives for the CIA’s lack of an Iraqi Pacepa, able to tell the truth about Saddam. For the same reason, the clerical regime of Iran was able to build a massive—and until recently secret—industry for producing nuclear weapons. Also for the same reason, Putin was able to surprise the White House with his military invasion of Georgia, treacherously started during the opening night of the 2008 Olympic Games.<!–[if !supportFootnotes]–>[2]<!–[endif]–> And also, for the same reason, in 2009 the U.S. did not know if North Korea would launch a military rocket or a weather satellite until that event took place.


In 1986, Director of Central Intelligence Bill Casey sent me a letter explaining the CIA’s failures. The root cause, the DCI wrote, was the misguided management on the part of some earlier CIA bosses, who had relied almost exclusively on satellite and signals intelligence, a reliance that had wreaked havoc with the CIA’s entire human intelligence collection effort. That was indeed true—I had experienced it on my own skin—but the problem could have been quietly corrected. Instead, it generated new public hearings that caused new international distrust of the CIA.


The bipartisan oversight of our intelligence operations by the U.S. Congress is a desirable expression of democracy. To the best of my knowledge, however, none of our main allies has voluntarily washed the dirty laundry of its foreign intelligence business in public. Their services also make mistakes, but they are usually corrected quietly. Espionage is a secret and merciless war that is especially perilous when waged against brutal tyrants—even the slightest indiscretion could endanger the lives of our officers and their sources.


Former KGB colonel Vasily Mitrokhin spent 12 years collecting over 25,000 top secret KGB documents, described by the FBI as “the most complete and extensive intelligence ever received from any source.” Mitrokhin intended to give this unique cache to the CIA, but he ended up delivering it to MI6, the British equivalent of the CIA. That foreign intelligence service gave him more confidence that his identity—hence his security—would be protected. Until very recently, even the name of the MI6 director was classified.


In the U.S., however, the 9/11 Commission spent 567 pages to publicly blame the CIA for not identifying the 19 terrorists before they hijacked the airplanes, although terrorists entering the U.S. may be as elusive a target as seeking a needle in a haystack. Some 80 million passengers flew to the U.S. that year alone, on 823,757 commercial and 139,650 private flights; 330 million people crossed the Canadian and Mexican borders during the same year by car, train and truck; and some other 18 million entered the country by sea.<!–[if !supportFootnotes]–>[3]<!–[endif]–>
The Commission also blamed the CIA for being unable to capture bin Laden. Nobody remembered that a homegrown American terrorist, Eric Rudolph, was still at large in the U.S. five years after blowing up the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, despite massive searches organized by thousands of FBI agents, police officers and volunteers. (Rudolph was accidentally arrested on May 31, 2003, while rummaging through a dumpster in Murphy, North Carolina.)


The Commission—and the U.S. Congress in general—ignored the most important requirement to make America safe against foreign enemies. That is: to build trust in the CIA.


President Barack Obama became the 44th U.S. president largely because he promised change. Changing the habit of Washington’s politicians to build their own careers by undermining our intelligence community is a good place to start. The U.S. has the best conceived, endowed and motivated espionage service that ever existed. It should be so. Made in America is a premium label around the world. We are at war, and this sensitive national security tool should be used to protect our country, not to improve the stature of ambitious politicians.