Bible verse for Obama
Leave it to the Bible
Please pray that the Psalm is true to its word.
Bible verse for Obama
Leave it to the Bible
Please pray that the Psalm is true to its word.
On Friday, March 26, 2010, the UN Human Rights Council’s month-long session ended, along with any justification for believing that President Obama is a champion of human rights. The president insisted that America join the UN’s lead human-rights body for the first time very early in his presidency, and the consequences are now painfully clear. The enemies of democracy and freedom are having a field day at the expense of American interests and values.
The Council, which meets in Geneva, is the personal playground of the Organization of the Islamic Conference. They hold the balance of power by controlling the Asian and African regional groups, which together form a majority at the Council. The Council’s agenda is accordingly fixated on issues of priority to the Islamic bloc — number one, delegitimizing Israel; number two, trumping free speech in the name of Islam; and number three, avoiding any criticism of human-rights violations in their own backyards. None of which has anything to do with protecting human rights.
More troubling than the Council’s growing infamy, however, is the Obama administration’s relationship to it. The America on display in Geneva is an embarrassment, and the only people oblivious to how the U.S. is perceived by those assembled are the American representatives themselves.
Having jumped on the Council bandwagon last year without insisting on any reform-minded preconditions, U.S. diplomats now sit there taking it on the chin and lending predictable and immutable Council routines undeserved legitimacy. This past session, the Council adopted five resolutions condemning Israel and fewer resolutions on the rest of the world combined: one each on the Democratic Republic of the Congo, North Korea, Burma/Myanmar, and Guinea.
The other 187 states on the planet got a free pass from the Council, notwithstanding the pressing reality of Nigeria’s butchered Christians, Saudi Arabia’s gender apartheid, Egypt’s systematic torture, China’s iron fist, Sudan’s genocide, and Russia’s slain human-rights defenders. In fact, over the entire four-year history of the Council, more than half of all resolutions and decisions condemning any state have been directed at Israel alone.
This session, one of these Israel resolutions created yet another UN committee dedicated to the demonization of the Jewish state. The new body will be charged with monitoring compliance with the notorious Goldstone Report, which contains the diabolical accusation that Israel intended deliberately to murder civilians in Gaza rather than to defend itself from Hamas rocket attacks aimed at the Israeli civilian population. A 2009 General Assembly resolution had already called for “credible” investigations within a three-month period and more “follow-up.”
Any Israeli investigation on the Gaza war that does not end in self-immolation will be dismissed out of hand. Nevertheless, in January Israel gave the UN a report running more than 60 pages detailing its continuing supervision and evaluation of the actions of the Israel Defense Forces, in accordance with the rule of law. The Palestinian side responded to the General Assembly’s deadline by submitting a piece of paper from Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas. He announced that he had set up a committee four days before the time ran out to begin to plan an investigation. Needless to say, the Palestinians who actually run Gaza and the terror campaign against Israeli citizens in the south of Israel, namely Hamas, did nothing at all.
This new UN Goldstone-implementation committee will be added to the existing collection of UN standing bodies already fixated on Israel-bashing, such as the UN Committee on the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, the UN Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices, the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories, and the UN Division for Palestinian Rights. Dozens of reports on Palestinian rights and Israeli wrongs are also commissioned every year from myriad UN actors, including the secretary-general.
Congress has adopted provisions that deny American funds to the Inalienable Rights Committee, the Special Committee and the UN Palestinian Division, and unless it now takes quick action, American taxpayers will be footing 22 percent of the bill of this latest Goldstone outrage.
As happened with all the anti-Israel resolutions, the Obama administration perfunctorily voted against — to no avail. The administration then pulled its punches when explaining its vote on the Goldstone-implementation resolution. American Ambassador Eileen Chamberlain Donahoe noted that her full speech could be found somewhere on a website, and then proceeded to make a telling omission from that speech when delivering her oral remarks, which were webcast around the world. When she read the entirety of the first few paragraphs, which called on both sides to conduct investigations, she skipped over just one sentence therein: “Hamas is a terrorist group and has neither the legitimacy nor the willingness to investigate credibly its repeated and deliberate violations of international law.” Apparently, an honest statement that points out the obvious flaw in the logic of Goldstone-inspired investigations wouldn’t have fit neatly into Obama’s engagement strategy — or sit well with his preferred audience.
The Obama administration lost every time it called for the vote on a resolution at the Council session. But it failed even to get that close on the most troubling human-rights issues of our time, such as Iran. Despite the Iranian government’s systematic brutality and the presence of American hostages in Iranian prisons, the Obama administration decided not to table a single resolution critical of Iran, nor to ask the Council to convene a special session to focus on human-rights violations in Iran. (The Council has had six special sessions on Israel alone.)
Administration apologists had plenty of excuses. They whined that they didn’t have the votes to convene a special session; and even if they did, they were still short the votes to guarantee a robust resolution critical of Iran and they were concerned that a failure would diminish the Council’s credibility. For many years at the previous UN Human Rights Commission, the U.S. put forward a resolution condemning China — which never passed — as a matter of principle. For this administration, however, the reputation of the UN is an end in itself.
American diplomats also claimed they put forward no resolution and called for no special session because it was up to the Europeans to take the lead on Iran. Perceived European “neutrality” would garner more support. In turn, the Europeans (worried about their lucrative contracts with Iran) claimed that the U.S. should take the lead.
The most widely trumpeted American (and European) excuse for going soft on Iran was that any attempt to criticize the country would prompt a wave of sympathy that would improve Iran’s chances of becoming a Council member. Council elections are scheduled for May, and American diplomats fretted that the successful election of candidate Iran would harm the Council’s credentials. Since such human-rights role models as Angola, Cuba, China, Russia, and Saudi Arabia are already members of the Council (and come May, Libya is a shoo-in, because the slate of African states has been fixed), the idea of preserving membership quality on the Council is a very bad joke.
The administration’s foot-in-mouth foray into the Human Rights Council also became evident when the Council adopted a resolution on the defamation of religions. Hoping further to ingratiate itself with the “Muslim world,” Obama diplomats at the last Council meeting in September co-sponsored a resolution on freedom of expression with Egypt, a country which doesn’t have freedom of expression. In order to win Egyptian support, U.S. negotiators stomached references to “special duties and responsibilities” on the exercise of free speech and “voluntary codes of ethical conduct” on the media. In return, Egypt took the very first opportunity at this Council session to throw the free-speech façade overboard. It championed a resolution attacking freedom of expression in the name of defending Islam from “defamation.” The resolution is entitled the defamation of religions, but Islam is the only religion the Council deemed worthy of mention.
In a final dismal spectacle, the only resolution the administration did put forward over the entire four-week meeting crashed and burned. The American proposal had been designed to forestall efforts by Islamic states to write free-speech curbs into international law. The battle is over support for drafting so-called complementary standards — which claim to complement existing laws combating racism and related intolerance but which in fact will undermine them. For example, in this context Algeria has advocated rewriting the definition of anti-semitism, arguing that complementary standards should “end impunity” for “anti-Semitic policies directed against people of Arab descent in particular and extended by association to Muslims worldwide.”
When Obama’s representatives learned that African and Asian states vehemently objected to their resolution on the work of the committee on complementary standards, they simply withdrew it. Not only did they withdraw it, they then sought to manufacture the appearance of harmony by throwing American support behind the rival African resolution, which pushed the process of drafting complementary standards forward. Even the European Union balked and refused to support the African text.
Many in the corridors of the Council meeting mistakenly believe that the Obama contingent is some combination of naïve, idyllic, weak, and pathetic. I give the president more credit than that. The Council’s record was clear when Obama decided to join it, and any first grader is capable of doing the math that proves the inability of any Western government to change the Council’s course. Contributing to an aura of credibility surrounding this twisted and incorrigible institution is, therefore, a solid piece of evidence of President Obama’s priorities — good relations with the Muslim world, poor relations with the state of Israel, and human rights be damned.
Is the Gitmo Bar Pro-Islamist? [Andy McCarthy]
I appreciate Jonah’s kind words. In fairness to Stephen Jones, I didn’t know about his essay and I don’t know whether he was told I’d be writing one. It wasn’t pitched to me by the Journal as a point/counterpoint thing. They asked me to write about the issue from my perspective, and the only guidance I got was a suggestion that I address some precedents if any seemed relevant. (I thought Eric Holder’s Heller brief was highly relevant — particularly, the fact that no one came close to suggesting that the position he staked out on the Second Amendment as a private lawyer was off-limits in considering what he might do as a top policy-making official.) I imagine they did the same thing with Mr. Jones. By contrast, when I did a point/counterpoint thing for USA Today earlier this week, I was told in broad outline what themes their editorial would hit (I wasn’t shown the actual editorial) so I had a better idea what I needed to respond to.
Now, to the more important question posed in the last paragraph of Jonah’s post. Let’s put DOJ’s ten (and counting) Gitmo lawyers to the side and just talk about the volunteer Gitmo bar in general. I believe many of the attorneys who volunteered their services to al Qaeda were, in fact, pro-Qaeda or, at the very least, pro-Islamist. Not all of them, but many of them. The assistance many of them provided went disturbingly beyond any conventional notion of “legal representation.” (And let’s not forget that what Lynne Stewart called her “legal representation” of the Blind Sheikh was later found by a jury to be material support to terrorism.) I expect we’ll be hearing much more about this in the coming days.
Islamism is a much broader and more mainstream (in Islam) ideology than suggested by the surprisingly ill-informed comments Charles Krauthammer made about a week ago (see Dr. K’s commentary here; Mark Steyn’s reaction, with which I agree, is here.) Jihadist terrorists are a subset of the Islamists, but many Islamists disagree with the terrorists’ means — they are mostly on the same page as far as ends are concerned.
Personally, I don’t think there is much difference, if any, between Islam and Islamism. In that assessment, I’m not much different from Turkey’s Islamist prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who claims it is “very ugly” for Westerners to draw these distinctions between Muslims as “moderate” or “Islamist” — “It is offensive and an insult to our religion,” he says, because “there is no moderate or immoderate Islam. Islam is Islam, and that’s it.”
Islamists are Muslims who would like to see sharia (Islamic law) installed. That is the necessary precondition to Islamicizing a society. It is the purpose of jihad. The terrorists are willing to force sharia’s installation by violent jihad; other Islamists have varying views about the usefulness of violence, but they also want sharia, and their jihadist methods include tactics other than violence. I reluctantly use the term “Islamist” rather than “Islam” because I believe there are hundreds of millions of Muslims (somewhere between a third to a half of the world’s 1.4 billion Muslims) who do not want to live under sharia, and who want religion to be a private matter, separated from public life. It is baffling to me why these people are Muslims since, as I understand Islam, (a) sharia is a basic element, and (b) Islam rejects the separation of mosque and state. But I’m not a Muslim, so that is not for me to say. I think we have to encourage the non-sharia Muslims and give them space to try to reform their religion, so I believe it’s worth labeling the sharia seekers “Islamists” in order to sort them out. But I admit being very conflicted about it because I also concede that the Islamists have the more coherent (and scary) construction of Islam. We wouldn’t be encouraging reform if we really thought Islam was fine as is.
In any event, Islamist ideology is multi-faceted. You can be pro-Islamist, and even pro-Qaeda, without signing on to the savage Qaeda methods. And the relevant question with respect to progressive lawyers is not so much whether they are pro-Qaeda as it is whether, as between Islamists and the U.S. as it exists, they have more sympathy for the Islamists. That’s a fair question, but a very uncomfortable one to ask. Indeed, as Jonah broaches it, he softens it to whether the insinuation that the lawyers are pro-Qaeda is “counter-productive.” That’s an interesting question but a very different one from whether the insinuation is true.
In a column a few days ago, I addressed the insinuation this way:
“Al-Qaeda Seven” reminds me of another legal shorthand expression: “mob lawyer.” It’s a common expression — everyone uses it. I’d wager that a number of the DOJ’s Gitmo lawyers have either used it or been in conversations where it rolled effortlessly, and without objection, off the tongues of other prosecutors. “Mob lawyers” are lawyers who regularly represent members and associates of the mafia. It’s such a commonplace that even the mob lawyers call themselves “mob lawyers.” It’s a handle; it doesn’t mean the people who use the term don’t see the moral difference between mobsters who commit heinous crimes and the lawyers who defend them. Same with the “al-Qaeda Seven.”
Much of the commentary on this point, including from some people who usually know better, has been specious. The normally sensible Paul Mirengoff, for example, huffs, “It is entirely inappropriate to suggest that these lawyers share the values of terrorists or to dub the seven DOJ lawyers ‘The al-Qaeda Seven.’” The values of the terrorists? Which values?
Jihadists believe it is proper to massacre innocent people in order to compel the installation of sharia as a pathway to Islamicizing society. No one for a moment believes, or has suggested, that al-Qaeda’s American lawyers share that view. But jihadist terrorists, and Islamist ideology in general, also hold that the United States is the root of all evil in the world, that it is the beating heart of capitalist exploitation of society’s have-nots, and that it needs fundamental, transformative change.
This, as I argue in a book to be published this spring, is why Islam and the Left collaborate so seamlessly. They don’t agree on all the ends and means. In fact, Islamists don’t agree among themselves about means. But before they can impose their utopias, Islamists and the Left have a common enemy they need to take down: the American constitutional tradition of a society based on individual liberty, in which government is our servant, not our master. It is perfectly obvious that many progressive lawyers are drawn to the jihadist cause because of common views about the need to condemn American policies and radically alter the United States.
That doesn’t make any lawyer unfit to serve. It does, however, show us the fault line in the defining debate of our lifetime, the debate about what type of society we shall have. And that political context makes everyone’s record fair game. If lawyers choose to volunteer their services to the enemy in wartime, they are on the wrong side of that fault line, and no one should feel reluctant to say so.
Posted by Shawn Mallow
Published: March 14, 2010 – 1:54 PM
Israel has decided to build 1600 new homes on their land in East Jerusalem.
The announcement, a surprise to Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, came when our own Saint Joe Biden was en-route to Mr. Netanyahu’s private residence for a dinner along with their respective wives.
And how did Joe Biden, our master of foreign affairs, guru of Middle Eastern policy decide to act?
He arrived 90 minutes late for dinner.
Bravo, Joe! Your diplomatic skills are out-shined only by your bo-toxed forehead.
Wasting no time, Obama instructed his battle-ax Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to entertain Mr. Netanyahu with a 45 minute phone call rebuking him for the slight. She called the incident “an insult to the United States.” (God, could you imagine 45 minutes on the phone with an “outraged” Hillary?)
Her indignation is pathetic, considering her husband’s presidential library was practically built with money provided by Israel’s sworn enemies.
Obama and his anti-semitic administration pounce on any opportunity to lash the whipping boy of the Middle East, and he’s jumped on it like white on rice. If he can make it look like Israel’s fault, so much the better.
Discrediting and weakening Israel’s standing on the world stage has been this administrations policy from the beginning.
Obama’s Middle Eastern Apology tour was little more than an inter-national rebuke of Israel, cloaked in winning the “hearts and minds” of corrupt and hostile Arab governments.
He sat in a pew for twenty years and listened to an anti-semitic lunatic preach hatred for the United States, white people, and Jews.
In September of 2009, he held a formal celebration of the Islamic Holy Month of Ramadan, where he claimed “we celebrate a great religion and its commitment to justice and progress” and “the contribution of Muslims to the United States are too long to catalog because Muslims are so interwoven into the fabric of our communities and our country.”
Go ahead and read that again. (Just make sure to vomit on your mouse pad, and NOT on your laptop.)
He then went on to cut the State dinner in half for honoring the Jewish observance of Hanukkah, siting cost as the culprit.
His entire Israeli/Palestinian plan consists of pushing concessions out of the Jewish state, claiming any settlement building to be “counter-productive” of the process.
Of his Palestinian friends, he only asked that they recognize Israel’s right to exist.
Gee, that’s some mighty slick incentive, Barry.
It is, however, his tough stance on Iran which shows his limp commitment to protecting our only Democratic ally in the region (that would be Israel for all you liberals out there). This tactic, where, every time Iran tells the world to go to hell and Israel will be destroyed, is countered with a firm verbal foot-stomping by Obama and his State department, followed by EU and UN calls for Israel to show restraint.
Does anyone believe any nation besides Israel will do what will eventually be necessary when the Iranian nuclear threat gets to the point of no return? The U.S., under Obama, will not have the stones to engage in what will need to be required: The forceable destruction of Iranian nuclear development.
All of his meaningless rhetoric and Muslim foot-licking will amount to nothing but continued attacks on any position or action taken by Israel concerning anything of import to their survival and progress in a region filled with vipers on all borders. NONE of the outraged surrounding Arab states engage in any helpful activities toward the Palestinians, simply because they don’t want to. The Palestinian issue provides them with a perpetual reason for anger with Israel, and Obama knows this.
His silence in condemning these states and his unwillingness toward achieving concessions from them makes him complicit in their vitriol spewed toward the Jewish nation.
All Israel can do now is what it feels is right for Israel.
And if that means dealing with a meaningless hissy-fit once in a while from Obama and the most anti-semitic administration since Carter, than so be it.
Go ahead, Israel.
America is with you.
By George Neumayr on 3.25.10 @ 6:09AM
Barack Obama has long seen the U.S. Constitution as an obstacle to what he considers progress. In a 2001 interview that surfaced during the presidential campaign, he made this very clear: the Supreme Court under Justice Earl Warren had failed to break “free from the essential constraints that were placed by the Founding Fathers in the Constitution,” Obama mused on a radio show.
The Warren Court was insufficiently radical, he said, conceding too much ground to the traditional interpreters of the Constitution as a “charter of negative liberties,” which “says what the states can’t do to you, says what the federal government can’t do to you, but doesn’t say what the federal government or state government must do on your behalf.”
The Founding Fathers, he implied, produced a defective document, much too passive in its understanding of government’s possibilities. The founders had set up a form of government to protect liberty; he clearly wished they had formed a government to enact equality.
The hubristic character of Obamacare derives in large part from this view. Obama measures progress not by adherence to the Constitution but by its abolition. He wants not a “charter of negative liberties,” but a Leviathan, which he calls a “living” Constitution, that swallows them up in the pursuit of egalitarianism.
Tuesday’s smug speeches euphemistically revolved around this theme. What “makes us the United States of America,” Obama essentially said, is the “scale” of government’s ambitions. One would have thought the Constitution “makes us the United States of America.” No, it is that politicians are willing to flout the real Constitution for the sake of “hope and change” that makes America great.
America has supposedly entered into a new and glorious phase where no one quibbles over such antiquated matters as constitutional limitation. In that 2001 interview, Obama said he was “not optimistic about bringing major redistributive change through the courts.” But now he is. He has given activist courts a major redistributive change via Obamacare to enshrine as part of the left’s “living” Constitution.
This “living” Constitution means the real one is dead in practice, but it is not so dead in the minds of ordinary Americans that liberals would ever attempt to hold a constitutional convention to package their enlightened new understandings into a fresh one. They still have to proceed by deception, casting every new affront to the Constitution as a suddenly accurate “constitutional” reading of it.
The value of all the legal suits popping up against Obamacare is that they force renewed attention to the tyrannical relationship between the federal government and the states that this “living” Constitution protects. The suits will fail in the short term, but at least trigger discussion about the central question of our politics: Will Americans go back to living under the actual Constitution or continue to succumb to the fake one residing in the minds and wills of liberals in power that is destroying the country?
Obamacare may finally inspire the people to pull the plug on the “living” Constitution.
Judicial activists and tyrannical politicians have set in motion through the lawlessness of this “living” Constitution a form of chaos that will eventually consume them. After all, their authority depends upon that real Constitution, and if it lacks authority so do they. If politicians can ignore the supreme law of the land, why exactly do the people have to obey theirs? If the Constitution isn’t binding, what makes their laws binding?
The proponents of the “living” Constitution can get away with this form of tyranny for a while, and for the reason Thomas Jefferson stated in the Declaration of Independence, that “all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed.”
But Obamacare and the single-payer plan that lurks behind it will make the grievances in the Declaration of Independence look minor by comparison. What Obama has dismissively described as outmoded “constraints that were placed by the Founding Fathers in the Constitution” will look very sensible and relevant in the years ahead.
George Neumayr is editor of Catholic World Report and press critic for California Political Review.
White men shun Democrats
|By DAVID PAUL KUHN
First published: Saturday, March 27, 2010
|Millions of white men who voted for Barack Obama are walking away from the Democratic Party, and it appears increasingly likely that they’ll take the midterms elections in November with them. Their departure could well lead to a GOP landslide on a scale not seen since 1994.For more than three decades before the 2008 election, no Democratic president had won a majority of the electorate. In part, that was because of low support — never more than 38 percent — among white male voters. Things changed with Obama, who not only won a majority of all people voting, but also pulled in 41 percent of white male voters.
Polling suggests that the shift was not because of Obama but because of the financial meltdown that preceded the election. It was only after the economic collapse that Obama’s white male support climbed above the 38 percent ceiling. It was also at that point that Obama first sustained a clear majority among all registered voters, according to the Gallup tracking poll.
It looked for a moment as though Democrats had finally reached the men of Bruce Springsteen’s music, bringing them around to the progressive values Springsteen himself has long endorsed. But liberal analysts failed to understand that these new Democrats were still firmly rooted in American moderation.
Pollsters regularly ask voters whether they would rather see a Democrat or Republican win their district. By February, support for Democrats among white people (male and female) was three percentage points lower than in February 1994, the year of the last Republican landslide.
Today, among whites, only 35 percent of men and 43 percent of women say they will back Democrats in the fall election. Women’s preferences have remained steady since July 2009. But white men’s support for a Democratic Congress has fallen eight percentage points, according to Gallup.
White men have moved away from Obama as well. The same proportion of white women approve of him — 46 percent, according to Gallup — as voted for him in 2008. But only 38 percent of white men approve of the President, which means that millions of white men who voted for Obama have now lost faith in him.
The migration of white men from the Democratic Party was evident in the election of Republican Scott Brown in Massachusetts. His opponent, a white woman, won 52 percent of white women. But white men favored Brown by a 60 percent to 38 percent margin, according to Fabrizio, McLaughlin & Associates polling.
It’s no accident that the flight of white males from the Democratic Party has come as the government has assumed a bigger role, including in banking and health care. Among whites, 71 percent of men and 56 percent of women favor a smaller government with fewer services over a larger government with more services, according to ABC/Washington Post polling.
Obama’s brand of liberalism is exactly the sort likely to drive such voters away. More like LBJ’s than FDR’s, Obama-style liberalism favors benefits over relief, a safety net over direct job programs, health care and environmental reform over financial reform and a stimulus package that has focused more on social service jobs — health care work, teaching and the like — than on the areas where a majority of job losses occurred: construction, manufacturing and related sectors.
This recession remains disproportionately a “he-cession.” Men account for at least seven of 10 workers who lost jobs, according to the latest Bureau of Labor Statistics data. Nearly half of the casualties are white men, who held 46 percent of all jobs lost.
In 1994, liberals tried to explain their thinning ranks by casting aspersions on the white men who were fleeing, and the media took up the cry. The term “angry white male” or “angry white men” was mentioned 37 times in English-language news media contained in the Nexis database between 1980 and the 1994 election. In the following year, the phrases appear 2,306 times.
Tarnishing their opponents as merely “angry” was poor politics for the Democrats. Liberals know what it’s like to have their views — most recently on the war in Iraq or George W. Bush — caricatured as merely irrational anger. Most voters vote their interests. And many white men by the 1980s had decided the Democrats were no longer interested in them.
Think about the average working man. He has already seen financial bailouts for the rich folks above him. Now he sees a health care bailout for the poor folks below him. Big government represents lots of costs and little gain.
Meanwhile, like many women, these men are simply trying to push ahead without being pushed under. Some once believed in Obama. Now they feel forgotten.
Government can only do so much. But recall the Depression. FDR’s focus on the economy was single-minded and relentless. Hard times continued, but men never doubted that FDR was trying to do right by them. Democrats should think about why they aren’t given that same benefit of the doubt today.
David Paul Kuhn is chief political correspondent for RealClearPolitics and the author of “The Neglected Voter: White Men and the Democratic Dilemma.” He wrote this for the Los Angeles Times.
The reaction to Obama’s treatment of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin (“Bibi”) Netanyahu was as strong if not stronger than I have seen in the comments here and elsewhere in the blogosphere on any other issue.
Why this reaction? I bet a lot of the people having this reaction only had heard of Bibi Netanyahu in passing on the news.
Who would care if our President left a foreign leader to wait in the White House while the President supposedly went to have dinner with his family? Who would care if our President broke protocol by refusing to be photographed and hold a press conference with a foreign leader? Who would care if that foreign leader left tail tucked between his legs, humiliated at home at the treatment by the leader of the free world?
Part of it certainly is that the foreign leader in question was the leader of Israel, which is tremendously popular with Americans. In Israel the clear majority of Americans see a democratic nation surrounded by implacable enemies who also are our enemies, doing what it takes to survive and thrive. In so many historical, religious and political ways Israel is our kindred spirit, more than just one among many nations.
But that cannot explain the intensity of the reaction. Obama has shown disrespect for our British friends, with whom we share an even more intense historical relationship. There are very, very few countries in the world whose soldiers would die for us, and Britain is one of those countries. Yet the reaction to Obama’s treatment of Britain has been muted.
I think the reaction to Obama’s treatment of Bibi Netanyahu hits home because it was so personal in nature, and because it epitomized how the American people have been treated by Obama and the Democrats, with arrogance and disdain.
We have seen this attitude since the Inauguration, when Obama and the crowd treated George W. Bush with disrespect, in the smears by Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid and other leading Democrats against health care protesters, in the daily attacks by the left-wing blogs and mainstream media against the Tea Party members, in the treatment of Sarah Palin and Trig Palin, in the bribes and budgetary chicanery used to pass a health care bill opposed by a significant majority of the population, and in the disgusting use of the race card to stifle legitimate political dissent.
In Bibi Netanyahu we see something we have lost in our leader, an unflinching sense of national destiny, an unapologetic pride in who we are and why we are, and a willingness to stand up to tyrants and neighborhood bullies regardless of the price.
To see a leader like Bibi Netanyahu treated so shabbily by someone who treats us the same way was too much to bear.
The story of how Obama treated Bibi Netanyahu at the White House was a familiar story, which is why it has caused such a strong reaction.
Cross-Posted with updates at Legal Insurrection Blog
Meghan McCain: Laura Ingraham ‘can continue to kiss my ass!’
Posted By intern1 On Friday, March 26th, 2010 @ 12:21 PM In DC Exclusives, Middle Column, Sub4:Politics | 111 Comments
Meghan McCain spoke to students at the George Washington University on Thursday as Young America’s Foundation  protesters criticized her stance on gay marriage and counter-protesters showed their support for the daughter of Arizona Senator and former presidential candidate John McCain.
Meghan McCain, who calls herself a “progressive Republican,” implored Republicans to “stop being so stubborn and closed-minded.”
Throughout the night, McCain was critical of right-wing pundits, telling the audience, “I’m not Ann Coulter, I’m not Glenn Beck … I’m not trying to get my own show on Fox … I’m adamantly against hate-mongering.”
There is “no place for the nasty Laura Ingrahams and Ann Coulters,” McCain said, briefly touching on a spat she had with Ingraham last year.
In a March 2009 Daily Beast column , McCain said of Coulter: “I straight up don’t understand this woman or her popularity. I find her offensive, radical, insulting, and confusing all at the same time.” Ingraham responded , calling McCain “just another Valley Girl gone awry” and “plus-sized.” Co-hosting ABC’s The View a few days later, McCain told Laura Ingraham, “Kiss my fat ass!” 
Has the situation between the two been resolved? Not exactly. “By the way, she can continue to kiss my ass!” McCain said. “I was too fat to be a Republican … yeah that makes me feel good. Too fat to be an elephant!”
Though unhappy with pundits, McCain expressed mixed feelings about town hall protesters.
Tea Partiers at town hall meetings during the last year are “filled with vitriolic feelings that walk a fine line with the spewing of hate,” McCain said, and the “voices [at these town hall meetings] have become saturated with anger.”
“I don’t think the Founding Fathers expected [the town halls] to turn into World Wrestling Federation arenas,” she joked.
She did give some credit to town hall protesters: “Many of those people asking heated questions did so because the media isn’t doing its job.”
In her speech, titled “Redefining Republican,” the 25-year old addressed critics who say that she isn’t really a Republican. “I am not saying, ‘Let’s abandon the core ideals that the Republican Party was built on,’” she said, “I love the Republican Party, I really do.” But, she asked, “Why am I not allowed to question [the GOP]?”
“Not everyone has to fit the profile or a stereotype,” she said, warning against the party using a litmus test to determine who is a real Republican and who is not.
McCain stressed her beliefs in a strong national defense, a limited government that leaves people alone and said, “the health-care bill has scared the shit out of me this week.” Spending, she said, was the common thread among Republicans of all stripes, and that’s what keeps her a proud member of the Republican Party.
“Start talking about Afghanistan and I’ll show you just how Republican I am.”
She did stress her staunch support of gay marriage, a position that has gotten her into trouble with more conservative members of the party.
“You hear that, GW Young Republicans ?” she said after espousing her beliefs on gay marriage, referring to the initial drama several months ago over sponsorship of her visit.
College Republicans at the university originally agreed to co-sponsor McCain’s speech with Allied in Pride , an organization for LGBTQ students. But when College Republicans learned that the speech was intended as the keynote event for Marriage Equality Week , they pulled sponsorship. The event eventually had to be re-scheduled due to snow storms in Washington, D.C., and Thursday’s event was no longer a part of Marriage Equality Week, but the College Republicans had already pulled their funding and were replaced by the Log Cabin Republicans .
McCain also shared thoughts on a slew of politicians and media personalities:
On South Carolina representative Joe Wilson’s “You lie!” outburst  during President Obama’s address to Congress: “I have been to many heated rallies, but still I was taken aback … the president didn’t deserve that.”
On Joy Behar : “I actually love Joy Behar even though she’s a huge Democrat.”
On John Kerry : “I voted for John Kerry in the 2004 election cycle. Yes, I was on the wrong boat.”
And on Sarah Palin , her father’s 2008 running mate: “I don’t dislike her in the way people assume. I respect any woman who can go out and kick ass in politics.” Asked by a student whether McCain and her father ever talk about the former Alaska governor: “Never.”
The single component of “health” “care” “reform” neatly encompasses all the broader trends about where we’re headed.
In 2003, Washington blessed a grateful citizenry with the Medicare prescription-drug benefit, it being generally agreed by all the experts that it was unfair to force seniors to choose between their monthly trip to Rite-Aid and Tony Danza in dinner theater. However, in order to discourage American businesses from immediately dumping all their drug plans for retirees, Congress gave them a modest tax break equivalent to 28 percent of the cost of the plan.
Ask yourself this: If you impose a sudden 35 percent tax on something, are you likely to get as much of it? Go on, take a wild guess. On the day President Obama signed Obamacare into law, Verizon sent an e-mail to all its employees warning that the company’s costs “will increase in the short term.” And in the medium term? Well, U.S. corporations that are able to do so will get out of their prescription-drug plans and toss their retirees onto the Medicare pile. So far just three companies — Deere, Caterpillar, and Valero Energy — have calculated that the loss of the deduction will add a combined $265 million to their costs. There are an additional 3,500 businesses presently claiming the break. The cost to taxpayers of that 28 percent benefit is about $665 per person. The cost to taxpayers of equivalent Medicare coverage is about $1,200 per person. So we’re roughly doubling the cost of covering an estimated 5 million retirees.
Now admittedly the above scenario has not been, as they say, officially “scored” by the Congressional Budget Office, by comparison with whom Little Orphan Annie singing “The Sun’ll Come Out Tomorrow” sounds like Morrissey covering “Gloomy Sunday.” Incidentally, has the CBO ever run the numbers for projected savings if the entire CBO were laid off and replaced by a children’s magician with an assistant in spangled tights from whose cleavage he plucked entirely random numbers? Just a thought.
If existing tax structures can’t cover the costs, what can we do? Start a new tax! The VATman cometh. VAT is Euro-speak for “value-added tax.” Americans often carelessly assume it’s merely a sales tax, but in fact it’s far more cumbersome than that, being levied at each stage “value” is added to a product or service. The consumer can’t claim back the VAT, but intermediate businesses in the production chain can. So self-employed individuals with relatively modest incomes wind up both charging VAT to their clients (25 percent in Scandinavia) and then claiming back the VAT they spent on the stamp and stationary they used to mail out the invoice. This is yet another imposition on businesses, taking time away from wealth creation and reallocating it to government paperwork. If the Democrats hold Congress this fall, I would figure on VAT sooner rather than later.
All of the above is pretty much a safe bet. What about the imponderables? Even Obama hasn’t yet asked the CBO to cost out, say, what happens to the price of oil when the Straits of Hormuz are under a de facto Iranian nuclear umbrella — as they will be soon, because the former global hyperpower, which now gets mad over a few hundred housing units in Jerusalem, is blasé and insouciant about the wilder shores of the mullahs’ dreams. Or suppose, as seems to be happening, the Sino-Iranian alliance were to result in a reorientation of global oil relationships, or the Russo-Iranian friendship bloomed to such a degree that, between Moscow’s control of Europe’s gas supply and Teheran’s new role as Middle Eastern superpower, the economy of the entire developed world becomes dependent on an alliance profoundly hostile to it.
Which is to say that right now the future lies somewhere between the certainty of decline and the probability of catastrophe. What can stop it? Not a lot. But now that your “pro-life” Democratic congressman has sold out, you might want to quit calling Washington and try your state capital. If the Commerce Clause can legitimize the “individual mandate,” then there is no republic, not in any meaningful sense. If you don’t like the sound of that, maybe it’s time for a constitutional convention.
By Michael Mackenzie in New York and David Oakley in London
Published: March 26 2010 19:18 | Last updated: March 26 2010 19:18
The bond vigilantes are finally flexing their muscles. A long period of stability for the US government bond market showed signs of cracking this week as a lack of investor appetite for new debt sent the benchmark 10-year yield to its highest level since last June.
For more than a year, analysts have been warning that record sized debt sales by the US Treasury were at odds with a 10-year yield sitting comfortably below 4 per cent. This week, the yield on 10-year notes jumped from 3.65 per cent to a peak of 3.92 per cent on Thursday. On Friday it was 3.87 per cent.
Falling inflation, rising unemployment, the housing market slump, the Federal Reserve’s policies of a near zero overnight borrowing rate and its purchase of up to $1,700bn in bonds have all helped keep Treasury yields near historic lows.
But this week the mood shifted as yields for $118bn of new US debt were much higher than forecast, sparking overall selling of Treasuries. Sentiment also deteriorated in the UK bond market after the government’s budget ahead of a general election expected in May failed to resolve doubts over future spending and debt reduction.
The term “bond vigilantes” was coined in the 1980s when bond investors pushed up long-term yields to force central banks into taking action to curb inflation. This time, bond investors are less worried about inflation: they are fretting about huge fiscal deficits and the looming bond supply needed to finance them.
“Everyone thought we would see rising rates due to higher inflation, but it appears the bond vigilantes are demanding a higher real rate due to concerns about Treasury issuance,” says George Goncalves, head of fixed income strategy at Nomura Securities.
Worries about the debt loads of developed economies have come into focus this year amid the crisis threatening Greece and other members of the eurozone periphery.
The fact that German Bunds have outperformed both Treasuries and gilts in recent months highlights this increasing worry over public debt. Germany’s budget deficit is much lower than the US and UK and inflation there is also expected to remain low.
“The spotlight on Greece only helped to reveal that the US’s kitchen – with Federal and state budget balances – was itself full of cockroaches,” says William O’Donnell, strategist at RBS Securities.
It hasn’t helped that the US announced a big overhaul of its healthcare system this month, adding to worries about the scale of US spending.
Moreover, the Fed completes its bond buying programme next week, leaving the market to absorb the supply of new debt on its own. Next week’s March employment report, which economists say could see 150,000 jobs created, also looms as a test for bond market sentiment.
“The environment for debt auctions has turned negative,” says Rick Klingman, managing director at BNP Paribas. “Long-term rates are rising and it is no coincidence that this has occurred after the passage of healthcare reform and the end of Fed buy-backs.”
Also rattling US investors this week was a report by the Congressional Budget Office that falling payroll taxes due to high unemployment, means that the social security programme will pay out more in benefits than it receives for this fiscal year. “A sustained rise in yields is upon us and bond funds will start to incur losses,” says Jim Caron, global head of interest rate strategy at Morgan Stanley. He expects 10-year yields to reach 4.50 per cent in the second quarter, as investors pull their money from bond funds. March looms as the first month for negative returns for investors in Treasuries this year.
For now, other key markets such as equities and the dollar have not been affected by the rise in yields, but that may change if the 10-year rises decisively above 4 per cent and big auctions next month are also poorly received. “This appears as a credit shot across the Treasury market bow and concerns over the US fiscal spending could well move to the dollar and equities,” says Mr Goncalves.
A sign of the strains across US fixed income markets was this week’s historic rupture between the 10-year Treasury yield and its close derivative, the interest rate swap.
For the first time since swaps emerged in the mid-1980s, the 10-year swap rate traded below that of the “risk free” 10-year Treasury yield. Analysts say this reflects how government debt issuance has altered the dynamics between “risk-free” yields and swaps, which reflect borrowing costs for non-sovereign borrowers.
In the UK, swap rates have been below those of 10-year gilt yields since January. The yield on 10-year gilts was at 4.03 per cent on Friday, up from a low of 3.91 per cent earlier this week. The peak yield so far this year was 4.27 per cent in February. In Europe, however, swap rates are 20 basis points higher than 10-year yields.
“If we get clarity on what the UK will do on deficit reduction once the election is behind us, then the market and gilt yields could stabilise,” says Mike Amey, UK portfolio manager for Pimco.
Since the UK budget on Wednesday, the negative spread, or inversion, has widened with swap rates trading nearly 20 basis points below gilts for 10-year maturities compared with a negative spread of 10bps just before the government statement on public finances.
In other words, huge issuance is already creating unexpected distortions and stresses in the market. It is far from clear that we have seen the last of them, given the amounts that still need to be raised.