Obama’s Muslim ProblemHas he been too conciliatory?

Obama’s Muslim ProblemHas he been too conciliatory?

November 14th, 2009 Posted By Erik Wong.


Slate Magazine:

When it comes to any issue that involves Islam, President Obama starts with an advantage and a disadvantage. The advantage is that he’s seen as sympathetic to Muslims. The disadvantage is also that he’s seen as sympathetic to Muslims.

With a Muslim name, African Muslim ancestry on his father’s side, and the experience of growing up in Indonesia for part of his childhood, Obama understands Islam better than any previous American president. This gives him an opportunity, which he has seized, to try to defuse Muslim hostility and pursue a less acrimonious relationship with Muslim nations. But 11 percent of the public continues to believe that the president is himself a Muslim. Though this is untrue and raises the question Colin Powell asked—so what if he were?—the president’s heritage feeds a broader suspicion that he is too casual about the threat from America’s Islamist enemies.

Obama’s challenge has always been to get the benefit of his special relationship with Islam while containing the political hazards it brings. With Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan’s murdering rampage at Fort Hood, that balancing act just got a lot harder. Before Fort Hood, the president had mainly called for conciliation. In his first official interview as president, with the Arabic news network Al Arabiya, Obama said: “My job to the Muslim world is to communicate that the Americans are not your enemy.” He subsequently developed that theme in several speeches, including his June address at Cairo University, when he asked for “a new beginning between the United States and Muslims around the world.”

With the toll of Americans killed in Iraq dropping and the domestic fear of terrorism in decline, such sentiments played reasonably well at home. But the context of Obama’s Islamic rapprochement was shifting even before Fort Hood. American casualties in Afghanistan have more than doubled over the past year. In the past several months, officials have also interrupted a rash of domestic terror plots. These include four men accused of planning to attack synagogues and shoot down military aircraft in Newburgh, N.Y.; an Afghan man charged with making bombs in Colorado; an alleged attempt by a Jordanian teenager to blow up a 60-story skyscraper in Dallas; and a Boston-area man’s alleged plot to attack a shopping mall. Obama’s olive-branch strategy may make America safer over the long term. In the short term, there’s no empirical evidence that it has done so.

With the massacre in Texas, Obama now confronts something that Bush did not face in the years after Sept. 11—not just a major act of domestic terrorism but one struck from inside our security apparatus. Fort Hood does much more serious damage to Obama’s premise that greater friendliness toward Islam is a viable strategy for countering the Islamist threat. If the warning signs flashing from Nidal Hasan were ignored, the desire to avoid appearing prejudiced or unfair to Muslims may have been partly to blame. And this points to Obama’s Muslim disadvantage. Almost immediately after the shooting, he began facing renewed accusations that he didn’t take the radical Islamist threat to American security—at home or in Afghanistan—seriously enough.

In his artful eulogy at the Nov. 10 memorial service at Fort Hood, Obama managed to balance the pressure to show toughness with his conciliatory approach. Without using the words Islam or Muslim, the president made clear what kind of fanaticism he was talking about. After stating that “no faith justifies” murder, he distinguished between America’s tradition of religious tolerance and the religious extremism implicated in the killings. “We’re a nation that guarantees the freedom to worship as one chooses,” he said. “And instead of claiming God for our side, we remember Lincoln’s words, and always pray to be on the side of God.”

Obama is right to continue emphasizing the all-important distinction between religious views compatible with democratic pluralism and those that aren’t. As he deals with the fallout of the attack, he must continue to separate Islamic extremism from Islam as a whole. But his words at Fort Hood, while comforting, do not really come to grips with the problem. America does not face a threat from the perversion of faith in general. We face a threat from the perversion of one faith in particular. The president needs to dip into his reservoir of good will to remind mainstream Muslims of their special responsibility. If militant Islamism is a distortion of their moderate beliefs, only their beliefs can defeat it.

Obamacare would reduce senior care

Obamacare would reduce senior care

November 16th, 2009

By Lori Montgomery, Washington Post


Seniors care will be deeply cut under Obamacare Grandma’s care will be deeply cut under Obamacare


A plan to slash more than $500 billion from future Medicare spending — one of the biggest sources of funding for President Obama’s proposed overhaul of the nation’s health-care system — would sharply reduce benefits for some senior citizens and could jeopardize access to care for millions of others, according to a government evaluation released Saturday.


The report, requested by House Republicans, found that Medicare cuts contained in the health package approved by the House on Nov. 7 are likely to prove so costly to hospitals and nursing homes that they could stop taking Medicare altogether.


Congress could intervene to avoid such an outcome, but “so doing would likely result in significantly smaller actual savings” than is currently projected, according to the analysis by the chief actuary for the agency that administers Medicare and Medicaid. That would wipe out a big chunk of the financing for the health-care reform package, which is projected to cost $1.05 trillion over the next decade.


More generally, the report questions whether the country’s network of doctors and hospitals would be able to cope with the effects of a reform package expected to add more than 30 million people to the ranks of the insured, many of them through Medicaid, the public health program for the poor.


Read More:








Why does he hate us? Barack Obama’s America-effacing presidency

Why does he hate us? Barack Obama’s America-effacing presidency

November 16th, 2009

By Paul Mirengoff, Washington Examiner

On the morning after the deadliest instance of Islamist terrorism in the United States since 9/11, President Obama warned the American public not to “jump to conclusions” about the motives that impelled Nidal Hasan’s rampage of mass murder at Fort Hood.

By the time Obama issued this warning, it had already been reported that Hasan yelled “Allahu akbar” before he opened fire.This assertion of the supremacy of Allah is invoked by Islamic terrorists worldwide before they kill.

It was also known that Hasan’s fellow participants in an Army program on public health had complained to military authorities about Hasan’s anti-American propaganda.Hasan had made a presentation that justified suicide bombing and argued that the war on terror is a war against Islam.

Yet no conclusions were warranted, as far as Obama was concerned.”We cannot fully know what leads a man to do such a thing,” our “philosopher in chief” intoned.

Obama has not always been cautious about jumping to conclusions.When a white police officer in Cambridge, Mass., arrested an African-American Harvard professor, the president was quick to proclaim that the officer had “acted stupidly.”Obama was soon forced to back away from that statement, which was based on ignorance of the facts.

There is no underlying inconsistency between these seemingly divergent responses.Both are founded on the same antipathy Obama harbors toward America.

Read More:

Myths and realities in our response to terror

Myths and realities in our response to terror

Lieutenant Colonel John M. Kanaley

When a nation mobilizes for war, there is only a small fraction that actually wears a uniform or participates in the fighting. While some percentage may appear to be high, depending upon the severity of the war, the actual numbers of participants are much smaller than the available population. The rare occasions of larger percentages (France under Napoleon, and the European powers in both world wars) demonstrate exceptions to the rule under severe crises.

While there may have been legitimate anti-war sentiment among the population during the respective wars, the fact remains that a minority number of available soldiers actually fought in the conflicts for the tyrannical armies. The remainder of the populace either participated in some civilian capacity, or simply acquiesced to the government’s war policy.When the English and Russian populations responded to French or German aggression, the argument was lacking that stated, “Don’t be quick to resort to arms; Napoleon’s soldiers do not characterize the greater Franco Empire.” Nor is there any record of policy supporting restraint of action against the Kaiser or Hitler simply because their militarism was not representative of the overall peaceful German society.

Yet, that is the usual exhortation when attacks occur in the U.S. or when they are foiled. Before any evidence is collected or statements are made, there is a rush from officials and media representatives to deny the possibility of an organized attack. They insist that any
violent incident of this nature is a completely isolated event. Likewise, there is a quick denial of any connection to a foreign entity or to an external philosophical influence. They are just as likely to amplify the actions of a single individual and to investigate his supposed mental deficiencies.

The follow-on argument inexorably leads to focusing on moderate elements within the opponent’s camp. There is a desperate search for their voice of moderation; however, the silence is deafening. Although we idly stand by waiting for a “moderate” demonstration or speech, it soon becomes apparent that the moderates are irrelevant. They add nothing to
the strategic argument. We are then forced to face the inevitable question: Do the moderates within that group even exist, or are they part of the silent majority that reluctantly accepts the prevailing ideology, and submits to the corresponding actions of the violent minority?

In the past, when the legitimate peaceful countries were forced to respond to aggression, they did not hold back on the battlefield while making excuses for the enemy. The reaction to the threat consisted of two components: defeating the enemy’s military on the battlefield, and attacking the proponent responsible for directing the adversary’s belligerence (in the form of the tyrant, political party, and/or the prevalent ideology). A logical criticism to an ideology was a key contributing factor to winning the Cold War.

The American Nation has come to dominate the projection of power and the execution of war. This domination was most successful when it was not accompanied by self-criticism or a careless disregard of the opponent’s intentions. Strategic success, absent persistent internal critique, was evident during the two world wars and the Gulf War. The spirit of American success has revolved around its capacity to destroy the opposition’s capability of conducting prolonged military operations, while simultaneously upholding the belief that its value system was exceptional and preferred to that of the enemy.

While the American military has once again proven its worth tactically and operationally in the Middle-East and Central Asia, ultimate strategic victory is not guaranteed. The ambiguity of success may rest right here at home. The failure to recognize the enemy’s war plan and operational design is a contributing factor, as well as refusing to challenge the tenets guiding his purpose for war. If we do not recognize those two dynamics, and if we purposely refuse to elevate our founding principles, then the types of attacks at Fort Hood and at the Arkansas Recruiting Station will become routine.

Lieutenant Colonel John M. Kanaley
Fort Bliss, TX

Page Printed from: http://www.americanthinker.com/blog/2009/11/myths_and_realities_in_our_res.html at November 16, 2009 – 11:21:03 AM EST

Sarah Palin’s Walmart Strategy

Sarah Palin’s Walmart Strategy

By J. Robert Smith

What’s notable about Sarah Palin’s book tour, which starts midweek, is where she’s not going.  She’s not going to L.A. or New York, Boston or San Francisco.  She’s going smack dab to the middle of the country. Fly-over country, liberals call it.  And it’s a shrewd move, not only in selling books, but positioning herself for a presidential run in 2012, if she chooses.

It’s a strategy right out of the late Sam Walton’s playbook: go where there’s demand and the competition ain’t.  Walton, who could have run and won political campaigns, built Walmart into the behemoth it is today by opening his discount stores in small towns in the heartland, towns that the eight-hundred pound gorilla K-Mart ignored. 
Walton conquered the discount retail category from the heartland out.  He didn’t so much as clobber K-Mart as steal a march on it.  Palin may just prove that a heartland strategy does more than sell blenders and books.  It’s the foundation for winning a national election. 
Make no mistake, right now, heartlanders (and heartlanders in spirit) are feeling awfully ignored by Washington politicians.  The president and Congress are intent on ramming through a health care reform measure that an ever-increasing majority of Americans oppose.  They’re spending as if using someone else’s credit card (in fact, the people’s); they play Americans for dupes by calling an old-fashioned pork barrel bill an economic stimulus; and, for toppers, President Obama is playing Hamlet about Afghanistan, thus putting brave soldiers there at greater risk every day. 
What Palin will bring to places like Noblesville, Ind., Washington, Pennsylvania, and Fort Bragg, N.C, is her brand of popular conservatism: upbeat, optimistic and certain.  It really is an offshoot of the Reagan brand.  And the Reagan brand has its roots deep in the American character. 
Corny as it sounds to tone-deaf liberals, in the main, citizens believe in the American Way. It’s no accident that by a two-to-one margin, more voters identify as conservative rather than liberal, and that doesn’t count all those other voters who hold some conservative values and positions. 
And it may not just be conservatives and conservative-leaners who find Palin’s Americanism attractive.  Sean Trende, in a solid analysis for RealClearPolitics,  showed that in November’s off-year elections, principally in Virginia, New Jersey and Pennsylvania, affluent suburban voters, who had been trending Democratic, moved away from the party toward conservative Republican candidates. 
But another striking fact from the elections was the continued movement toward the GOP of those who Trende and his colleague, Jay Cost, term “Jacksonians” (in part, heartlanders). 
“The historical base of the Democratic Party for two centuries has long been … Jacksonians: Culturally conservative, hawkish, and populist whites located throughout the South and Border states. They began breaking away from Democrats in the 1950s and 1960s — their reaction to the Party’s embrace of unions, blacks and liberals is a story that is so well known there’s no need to rehash it here.
“But this group remained at least in play for the Democrats. Clinton inherited a coalition consisting of minorities, liberals, urban voters, and a decent remnant of Jacksonian voters in the Ohio River Valley and the South, who still preferred a moderate-to-conservative Democrat to a Republican. This coalition became a majority coalition when Clinton used a combination of fiscal conservatism and social moderation to bring suburban voters on board.” 
Trende writes that in the 2008 presidential election, drop off in Jacksonians’ support for Barack Obama may have shaved seven percentage points from his vote aggregate.  It was the difference between a fairly close margin of victory (53% to 46%) and a landslide.
The dilemma this poses for Democrats, as Trende concludes, is that, though it’s possible for the party to maintain majority status absent the Jacksonians, it’s a very hard trick to pull off, especially if there’s a sustained migration of affluent suburban voters back to the GOP.
So, Palin’s heartland strategy means consolidating her base among voters from Kentucky north to Michigan, from central Pennsylvania clear over to the Rocky Mountains.  The Deep South is largely in conservative hands now.
And just as with Walmart’s strategy of building its retailing muscle from the heartland out, Palin’s next move should be into the nation’s suburbs.  Starting with her vice presidential nomination and afterward, the mainstream media and liberal pundits and bloggers have done an expert job of slicing and dicing Palin’s reputation.  Voter perceptions of Palin in affluent suburbs are more caricature than reality.  In many eyes, she’s a mix of good-looking airhead and gun-toting, social issues radical. 
Palin can explode those perceptions by engaging suburbanites on a retail basis, something that small-minded and controlling McCain campaign operatives barred her from doing last year. 
The former Alaska governor is, by appearances and reports, a warm and engaging personality who talks a common sense language that resonates with most Americans.  The key for her is to connect her conservative principles with suburbanites’ concerns.  She needs to illustrate ways that conservatism has practical and flexible applications to current problems.  Nowadays, most citizens, including upscale suburbanites, experience the challenge of raising kids the right way, keeping household budgets in balance and saving for rainy days and retirements.  They worry about keeping their jobs and are against tax hikes and profligate government spending. 
There is, in short, plenty of common ground between suburbanites and Palin.  It’s just waiting to be discovered.
Of course, no one should expect liberal poison pens to stop writing against Palin.  The clack of computer keys will grow even louder at the Daily Kos and Huffington Post.  The Katie Courics and the gang at MSNBC will step up their pot-shots.  But Palin engaging Bill O’Reilly, Sean Hannity, Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh, among others, should go a long way in blunting the liberal invective that will increase with each stop of Palin’s book tour.  Again, something McCain campaign gurus prevented her from doing last election season. 
Sam Walton once said:
“Each Walmart store should reflect the values of its customers and support the vision they hold for their community.”
The same holds true for politicians’ relationships to citizens.  It’s not happening now in America.  Sarah Palin has the opportunity to change that for the better. 

Page Printed from: http://www.americanthinker.com/2009/11/sarah_palins_walmart_strategy.html at November 16, 2009 – 11:18:12 AM EST

Federal oversight of subways proposed never ending Obama takeover

Federal oversight of subways proposed
Red Line crash spurred safety plan Obama administration to push for Congress to change law

By Joe Stephens and Lena H. Sun
Washington Post Staff Writers
Sunday, November 15, 2009


The Obama administration will propose that the federal government take over safety regulation of the nation’s subway and light-rail systems, responding to what it says is haphazard and ineffective oversight by state agencies.


Under the proposal, the U.S. Department of Transportation would do for transit what it does for airlines and Amtrak: set and enforce federal regulations to ensure that millions of passengers get to their destinations safely. Administration officials said the plan will be presented in coming weeks to Congress, which must approve a change in the law.


The proposal would affect every subway and light-rail system in the country, including large systems in Washington, New York, Boston, Los Angeles and San Francisco.


Administration officials said they are responding to a growing number of collisions, derailments and worker fatalities on subways — and in particular to the fatal June 22 crash on Metro’s Red Line and failures in oversight that have surfaced in its wake. Those failures have been the subject of an ongoing investigative series in The Washington Post.


“After the [Metro] train crash, we were all sitting around here scratching our heads, saying, ‘Hey, we’ve got to do something about this,’ ” Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said in an interview. “And we discovered that there’s not much we could do, because the law wouldn’t allow us to do it.”


Metro spokeswoman Lisa Farbstein said the agency had not seen details of the proposal. “The bottom line is we welcome additional safety oversight with open arms,” she said.


LaHood said he expects the proposal to be welcomed on Capitol Hill, but some Republicans said Saturday night that more federal oversight might not be the answer.


“The administration is right to raise this issue, but federal regulation should only apply to systems that cross state lines,” said Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), who had not been briefed on the plan.


Rep. Frank R. Wolf (R-Va.) said the proposal sounded like a credible way to fix a broken oversight system. “Without seeing the details, it would make sense,” Wolf said. “Some states have done a good job, while others have not. There needs to be consistent safety enforcement.”


Critical details of the plan remain unclear, including how much it would cost, where the money would come from, how the federal government would enforce its rules and whether it is equipped to carry out enhanced oversight. Existing state oversight bodies could remain in place to enforce the new regulations but would need to meet federal standards and gain federal approval.


Safety experts praised the initiative.


“It’s long overdue,” said Kitty Higgins, a member of the National Transportation Safety Board until August. “I applaud the secretary and his team for recognizing the gap in oversight in the current law. I hope that Congress will act on it swiftly.”


An exception to the rule

The federal government long has regulated the safe operation of airplanes, Amtrak and even ferries. But a law passed in 1965 prohibits federal regulation of subways. When that law was put into effect, there were only a handful of subways — Metro wouldn’t open its first line for another 11 years — and lawmakers reasoned that federal oversight would hamper their growth.


As a result, rail transit operates under two very different federal systems offering disparate levels of safety oversight.


Commuter rail systems, such as MARC and the Virginia Railway Express, are subject to a long list of federal regulations and are regularly inspected by federal safety monitors.


Safety oversight of light-rail and subway systems, on the other hand, is delegated to 27 regional bodies controlled by states. Quality varies widely, as does funding and enforcement power. With a few notable exceptions, those agencies tend to be threadbare, averaging less than one staff person per agency, according to federal statistics.


The state organizations have been criticized for lacking expertise and independence. Some rely on the transit systems they oversee to supply their funding. Many lack the legal authority to force transit agencies to grant them access to equipment and documents, and cannot compel transit agencies to correct any deficiencies they identify.


For Metro, the second-busiest subway system in the nation, the monitoring body is the Tri-State Oversight Committee, which has six members but no employees, office or phone number. It also has no direct regulatory authority over Metro.


As it stands, the Transportation Department also cannot direct subway systems to adopt safety recommendations issued by the National Transportation Safety Board.


Details of the proposal

Under the administration’s proposal, states that kept their oversight bodies would have to pass safety certification programs and demonstrate that they had an adequately trained staff, as well as financial independence and authority to compel compliance from systems they oversee.


States running their own programs would receive federal funds to cover salaries, training and other expenses. Federal regulations would ensure that the state programs established standards similar to those set by federal monitors.


The Federal Transit Administration would assume direct oversight for states that opt out of safety monitoring. The agency also would take over for state organizations that the administration determined to be inadequate.


If subway or light-rail systems did not meet the new safety standards, they would risk losing federal funding for capital expenditures, according to an administration official who was briefed on the plan.


Transit systems would be responsible for shouldering the cost of complying with new federal safety requirements.


The plan would also allow the FTA to issue safety regulations for bus transit systems, but officials said early efforts would focus on rail.


In August, The Post reported that Metro’s supposedly fail-safe crash avoidance system had failed in March on Capitol Hill, allowing two trains to come perilously close to colliding. A few weeks later, the newspaper reported that the automatic crash avoidance system also failed in 2005, when three trains narrowly escaped what records said would have been “disastrous collisions” in a tunnel under the Potomac River. That system is a focus of the federal investigation into the cause of the June 22 crash, which killed nine people and injured 80, making it the deadliest incident in the history of Metro.


Last week, an article revealed that Metro had barred independent safety monitors from walking along live subway tracks to assess compliance with safety rules. Since the ban began, two track workers have been fatally injured on the rails.


Metro board Chairman Jim Graham said Friday that the agency is increasing supervision of safety chief Alexa Dupigny-Samuels, who denied access to the monitors.


Also last week, Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski (D-Md.) called on LaHood to investigate Metro’s oversight by the committee. And Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), who chairs a transportation subcommittee, said he would hold a hearing in the next few weeks that will look into issues raised as part of the investigation.