OBAMA MAN: RAISE TAXES, START EUROPEAN-STYLE VAT

Volcker: Taxes likely to rise eventually to tame deficit

Tue, Apr 6 2010

NEW YORK (Reuters) – The United States should consider raising taxes to help bring deficits under control and may need to consider a European-style value-added tax, White House adviser Paul Volcker said on Tuesday.

Volcker, answering a question from the audience at a New York Historical Society event, said the value-added tax “was not as toxic an idea” as it has been in the past and also said a carbon or other energy-related tax may become necessary.

Though he acknowledged that both were still unpopular ideas, he said getting entitlement costs and the U.S. budget deficit under control may require such moves. “If at the end of the day we need to raise taxes, we should raise taxes,” he said.

(Reporting by Steven C. Johnson and Leah Schnurr; editing by Carol Bishopric)

White House hints Karzai visit could be in doubt

White House hints Karzai visit could be in doubt
Apr 6 02:03 PM US/Eastern
The United States on Tuesday delivered a veiled warning that Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s visit to the White House could be canceled, if he repeats his anti-foreigner outbursts.Karzai is scheduled to meet President Barack Obama on May 12, in a visit scheduled following the US leader’s surprise trip to Afghanistan last month.

White House spokesman Robert Gibbs has repeatedly said that the meeting is still on the schedule “as of now” but went further following Karzai’s latest controversial remarks reported in the United States on Monday.

“We certainly would evaluate whatever continued or further remarks President Karzai makes, as to whether it is constructive to have that meeting,” Gibbs said.

OBAMA ON A LEASH: Russia reserves opt-out of arms treaty with USA…

Russia reserves opt-out of arms treaty with US

By VLADIMIR ISACHENKOV, Associated Press Writer Vladimir Isachenkov, Associated Press Writer Tue Apr 6, 9:40 am ET

MOSCOW – The new U.S.-Russian arms control treaty is a much better deal for Russia than its predecessor, but Moscow reserves the right to withdraw from it if a planned U.S. missile defense system grows into a threat, Russia’s foreign minister said Tuesday.

Sergey Lavrov said Russia will issue a statement outlining the terms for such a withdrawal after President Barack Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev sign the treaty Thursday in Prague. The new accord replaces the 1991 Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, or START I, which expired in December.

Lavrov has said before that Russia could withdraw from the treaty. But his comments at a briefing Tuesday were his most specific yet on how and why a withdrawal could occur.

“Russia will have the right to opt out of the treaty if … the U.S. strategic missile defense begins to significantly affect the efficiency of Russian strategic nuclear forces,” he said.

Moscow welcomed Obama’s decision to scrap the previous administration’s plans for missile defense sites in Poland and the Czech Republic, but expressed concern about plans for a revamped shield, including a possible facility in Romania.

Lavrov said the site in Romania poses no immediate threat, but Russia could opt out of the new treaty if U.S. missile interceptors become capable of intercepting Russia’s strategic missiles.

“We have noted that the U.S. system won’t have a strategic capacity in its early stages,” he said. “We shall see what will happen next. When and if this system gets a strategic capacity, we shall see whether it creates risks for our strategic nuclear forces.”

The talks on a START successor had dragged on for nearly a year. They were stymied most recently by Russia’s demand for an explicit link between strategic arms cuts and development of the U.S. missile defense system. The U.S. Senate, however, has opposed any restrictions on the shield.

Moscow eventually agreed to have just a general statement noting a link between strategic offensive and defensive weapons. U.S. officials said the wording imposes no constraints on missile defense.

Lavrov said the new agreement will be the first arms-control treaty to make the parties fully equal. He said Russia shares Obama’s goal of a nuclear-free world, but said other nations must join the disarmament process, as well.

Americans more interested in energy than environment

Americans more interested in energy than environment

posted at 8:48 am on April 6, 2010 by Ed Morrissey
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Maybe it took an extended economic collapse for Americans to get practical about energy production.  It could also have some relation to the Climategate scandals and the collapse of credibility for anthropogenic global-warming advocates.  Either way, Gallup’s latest survey shows Americans prioritizing energy production over environmental concerns for the first time since Gallup began polling on the issue in 2001:

Americans are more likely to say the U.S. should prioritize development of energy supplies than to say it should prioritize protecting the environment, the first time more have favored energy production over environmental protection in this question’s 10-year history. …

The current data represent a continuing shift in opinion toward energy production. Since 2007, when Americans’ preferences for environmental protection were the greatest (58% to 34%), Americans’ opinions have shown significant movement each year in the direction of prioritizing energy production. This change has been evident among nearly every major demographic subgroup, although self-identified liberals have remained relatively steadfast in saying the environment should be a higher priority.

At the same time, Americans continue to advocate greater energy conservation by consumers (52%) over greater production of oil, gas, and coal supplies (36%) as a means of solving the nation’s energy problems. Americans have always come out in favor of greater consumer conservation, though this year marks the highest percentage favoring production (by a percentage point) in the last 10 years.

Interestingly, the change doesn’t come from crisis-mode thinking, at least not on energy supplies.  Two years ago, spiking gasoline prices inspired the “Drill Here, Drill Now” movement.  Today, though, only 34% of respondents think the energy-production situation in the US is “very serious,” a decline of eight points in a year.

Most likely, this comes from economic concerns.  The chart Gallup has on its site shows that support for prioritizing environmental restrictions over energy production peaked in 2007, just before the start of the recession.  Another poll earlier this month showed that respondents also prioritized economic expansion over environmental protection for the first time, and today’s chart shows that energy production has become more important as the economy worsened.  People understand that high energy prices retards growth, and that we need cheap energy to expand.

With this in mind, Barack Obama’s decision to drill in certain areas might be seen as a pre-emptive move to get ahead of this curve.  The poll also shows, though, that Republicans don’t need to support cap-and-trade in order to get better energy-production policies.  The public has grown up a bit in the last few years, something that adversity usually accomplishes.

Who Lost Iraq?

Who Lost Iraq?
Frank Gaffney
Monday, April 05, 2010

Back in February, Vice President Joseph Biden declared: “I am very optimistic about Iraq. I mean, this could be one of the great achievements of this administration.” Even for a politician much given to strategic ineptitude compounded by foot-in-mouth disease, that was a doozy.

As has been pointed out innumerable times since, if Iraq turns out to be a truly “great achievement” in any ordinary sense of the word, Mr. Biden and Barack Obama – two of the most insistent opponents of George W. Bush’s efforts to consolidate Iraq’s liberation – are among the last people in Washington who should take such credit.

Worse yet, unfortunately for the Iraqi people and others who love freedom, it looks increasingly as though the Obama administration will have the loss of Iraq as one of its most signal accomplishments.

Three murderous suicide bombings in Baghdad over the weekend are but the latest indication of the renewed reality there: Those determined to use violence to destabilize the country, foment sectarian strife and shape Iraq’s destiny can do so with impunity.

The fact that the Iranian embassy was one of the targets suggests Sunni extremist groups – perhaps including the once-defeated al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) – are responsible for this round of attacks. Elsewhere in the country though, Shiite death squads that may or may not have ties to the pro-Iranian factions currently running the country are ruthlessly liquidating prominent tribal leaders and others associated with the movement in Anbar Province known as The Awakening. The latter were instrumental to the success of the U.S. surge and to the opportunity thus created for an Iraqi future vastly superior to its despotic and chaotic past.

Among the objects of the growing violence are individuals who stood for office in the recent parliamentary elections. This amounts to post facto disenfranchisement of the Iraqi voters whose turnout of over 60 percent – in the face of threats by anti-democratic forces that voting would be deemed a capital offense – powerfully testified to their desire to exercise the right enjoyed by no others in the Mideast except Israelis: to have a real say in their government and future.

Sadly, all other things being equal, that popular ambition seems unlikely to be realized. There is an unmistakable vacuum of power being created by President Obama’s determination to withdraw U.S. “combat” forces no matter what, starting with the cities a few months ago and in short order from the rest of the country.

Increasingly, that vacuum is being filled by Iran and its proxies on the one hand and, on the other, insurgent Sunni forces, both those aligned with al Qaeda and those that have, at least until recently, been suppressing the AQI. On what might be called the third hand, Iraqi Kurds are experiencing their own internal problems as well as an increasingly ill-concealed inclination to assert their independence from the rest of the country.

The signal of American abandonment was made the more palpable by Team Obama’s decision to dispatch Christopher Hill as its ambassador to Iraq. Hill is the diplomat best known for his determination during the Bush 43 years to appease, rather than thwart, the despot most closely enabling the realization of Iran’s nuclear ambitions: North Korea’s Kim Jong Il. The unreliability of the United States as an ally – a hallmark of the Obama presidency more generally – is reinforcing the sense that it is every man for himself in Iraq.

The prospects of any “great achievement” in Iraq are being further diminished by the direction to the Pentagon to shift personnel and equipment from Iraq to Afghanistan. The President himself reinforced that commitment during his speech to U.S. troops at Bagram Air Base last week. The detailed planning and ponderous logistics associated with such a transfer increasingly foreclose options to change course. Our commanders will soon be hard pressed to preserve today’s deployments of American forces in Iraq, let alone to have them take up once again the sorts of positions in the urban areas that they held to such therapeutic effect during the surge.

The inadvisability of relocating U.S. forces from the strategically vital Iraqi theater to the marginal Afghan one is made all the greater by another grim prospect: The mounting evidence that our troops will be put in harm’s way in Afghanistan simply to preside over the surrender of that country to one strain of Shariah-adherent Taliban or another. There, too, President Obama has publicly promised to begin reversing his mini-surge by next summer, again irrespective of conditions on the ground. And his insistence on “engaging” at least some of those who allowed the country to be used as a launching pad for al Qaeda’s 9/11 attacks augurs ill for the Afghan people (especially the female ones) – and for us.

It may be that Team Obama is calculating that the American people are so sick of these conflicts and the associated costs in blood and treasure that they will consider cutting our losses to be a “great achievement” – irrespective of the consequences. After all, a generation ago their ideological forefathers led the United States in abandoning the South Vietnamese, without obvious political fall-out here at home. To the extent the Republicans are increasingly signaling a determination to run next Fall on a platform silent on national security matters, they may be right, at least in the short run.

There should be no doubt, however: The repercussions of the Obama administration losing Iraq will cost us dearly in the future as adherents to Shariah around the world are reinforced in their conviction of that our defeat and submission is preordained. Even if, at the moment, we cannot fully comprehend the implications of such a perception, we will know from here on out whose “great achievement” precipitated the resulting horror for America and the rest of what was once the Free World.

Obama: Nuclear Iran Inevitable

Obama: Nuclear Iran Inevitable

April 6th, 2010 Posted By Pat Dollard.

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One man seals the fate of Israel on his Leftist whim?

Jerusalem Post:

It is inevitable that Iran will produce nuclear weapons, as things stand, US President Barack Obama said on Monday, in an interview with The New York Times. Seeming to indicate his administration was now resigned to a future including a nuclear-armed Iran.

President Obama stated he was now convinced that “the current course they’re on would provide them with nuclear weapons capabilities,” though he gave no timeline.

He dodged when asked whether he shared Israel’s view that a “nuclear capable” Iran was as dangerous as one that actually possessed weapons.. But he cited the example of North Korea, whose nuclear capabilities were unclear until it conducted a test in 2006, which it followed with a second shortly after Mr. Obama took office.

“I’m not going to parse that right now,” he said

President Obama was speaking about revamping American nuclear strategy to substantially narrow the conditions under which the United States would use nuclear weapons, with exceptions directed at “outliers like Iran and North Korea” that have violated or renounced the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

On March 28th former US ambassador to the UN John Bolton warned of the White House moving towards acceptance of a nuclearly capable Iran. “I very much worry the Obama administration is willing to accept a nuclear Iran, that’s why there’s this extraordinary pressure on Israel not to attack in Iran,” Bolton told Army Radio.

On Saturday night a Israel urged international action on Iran. In response to an announcement by Iran’s nuclear chief of plans to build new atomic facilities in the country, and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s newest warning regarding Israel’s demise, a senior government official called for “determined and effective international action.”

“Ahmadinejad’s continuous outbursts of extremist rhetoric only prove to the entire international community the seriousness of the threat posed by the Iranian regime’s pursuit of nuclear weapons, and heightens the need for determined and effective international action,” the official said.

Ahmadinejad, referring on Saturday to escalating tensions in the Gaza Strip, said IDF action would “cost” Israel “too much.”

“I say to the Zionists and their supporters that they have already committed enough crimes,” he told an Iranian crowd. “A new adventure in Gaza will not save you, but hasten your demise.”

Faced with the prospect of new sanctions because
of Iran’s nuclear defiance, Ahmadinejad said that such penalties would only strengthen his country’s technological advancement and help it to become more self-sufficient.

“Don’t imagine that you can stop Iran’s progress,” Ahmadinejad said in remarks broadcast live on state television. “The more you reveal your animosity, the more it will increase our people’s motivation to double efforts for construction and progress of Iran.”

The Iranian president claimed US pressure on Iran had backfired and made Washington more isolated in the eyes of the world.

China, which has veto power in the UN Security Council and whose support would be key, has not confirmed US reports that it has dropped its opposition to new sanctions. Iran’s top nuclear negotiator, Saeed Jalili, is in China in the hopes of winning assurances from Beijing that it will oppose such measures.

Iran’s economy has suffered over the past year, and parliament approved a cut in subsidies that keep fuel prices low, a further blow to Iranians already experiencing high unemployment and inflation.

The UN Security Council could consider new punishments on Iran, including increasing financial squeezes on the extensive holdings of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard. The US has also said it could seek to penalize companies that sell fuel to the oil-rich Islamic Republic, which imports about 40 percent of the fuel it needs because its refineries cannot keep pace.

Ahmadinejad added that the US has failed to isolate Iran. He said the fact that Obama’s recent visit to Afghanistan was not announced beforehand for security reasons was evidence of America’s own isolation.

“First, let’s see who is isolated. We think those who can’t show up publicly among the people and directly address them are isolated – those who fear nations. Gentlemen go to a country where they have 60,000 troops without any prior announcement. Who is isolated?” Ahmadinejad said.

The Iranian president noted that his own recent trip to Afghanistan was announced in advance and said he was warmly received.

“You are isolated yourself, but you are a hotheaded and don’t understand it,” he said.

Lead Story

McLame: All for his own maaaaaaverick-iness before he was against it

By Michelle Malkin  •  April 5, 2010 10:50 PM

John McCain, proud liberal media-anointed maaaaaaaverick Republican, October 14, 2008:

MCCAIN: It’s well-known that I have not been elected Miss Congeniality in the United States Senate nor with the administration. I have opposed the president on spending, on climate change, on torture of prisoner, on – on Guantanamo Bay. On a — on the way that the Iraq War was conducted. I have a long record and the American people know me very well and that is independent and a maverick of the Senate and I’m happy to say that I’ve got a partner that’s a good maverick along with me now.

John McCain, endangered established Republican incumbent, attempting desperately to shed the moniker he (and running mate Sarah “Send the maaaverick back to the United States Senate” Palin) embraced over and over and over again, Newsweek, April 3, 2010:

“Maverick” is a mantle McCain no longer claims; in fact, he now denies he ever was one. “I never considered myself a maverick,” he told me. “I consider myself a person who serves the people of Arizona to the best of his abilities.”

Can we get a little Joe “You lie!” Wilson up in here?

:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ylJkmMR8Fek&feature=player_embedded

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KmxtjD2LlPI&feature=player_embedded

I repeat

Obama Removes Jesus from Easter Message?

President Obama literally edited Christ out of his “holiday greeting” today when he excerpted a sermon given by a military chaplain on Iwo Jima on Easter Sunday 1945.

Below is the relevant paragraph from Obama’s holiday greeting today:

The rites of Passover, and the traditions of Easter, have been marked by people in every corner of the planet for thousands of years. They have been marked in times of peace, in times of upheaval, in times of war.

One such war-time service was held on the black sands of Iwo Jima more than sixty years ago. There, in the wake of some of the fiercest fighting of World War II, a chaplain rose to deliver an Easter sermon, consecrating the memory, he said “of American dead – Catholic, Protestant, Jew. Together,” he said, “they huddled in foxholes or crouched in the bloody sands…Together they practiced virtue, patriotism, love of country, love of you and of me.” The chaplain continued, “The heritage they have left us, the vision of a new world, [was] made possible by the common bond that united them…their only hope that this unity will endure.”

Their only hope that this unity will endure.

Now read below the same paragraph again, but this time note the additional bolded language that comes from the original audio of the 1945 sermon and its context, but which President Obama decided not to include:

There, in the wake of some of the fiercest fighting of World War II, a chaplain rose to deliver an Easter sermon, consecrating the memory, he said:

He has risen. With all due reverence, we apply these words to our beloved dead. 

There are too many air call wings encrusted with the stain of their owners’ life blood, too many marine trousers upon the graves, too many symbols of American dead – Catholic, Protestant, Jew. Together,” he said, “they huddled in foxholes or crouched in the bloody sands under the fury of enemy guns here on Iwo Jima. Together they practiced virtue, patriotism, love of country, love of you and of me. Together they stand before the greatest soldier of them all – Jesus Christ, to receive the token of our triumph.  For Christ has said: “Greater love than this no man hath then that he lay down his life for his friends.”

And so our beloved dead have gone from the world of hate to the world of eternal love. 

The chaplain continued, “The heritage they have left us, the vision of a new world, [was] made possible by the common bond that united them in the drudgery of recruit training or here in the chaos of bursting shouts.  Their only hope: that this unity will endure.”

And so our dead have risen to glory.

The American President is president of all the people, believers and non-believers alike.  So when presidential messages are delivered to mark the special observances of major religious groups, it is understandable that a president will strive to provide some measure of explanation of how a particular religious observance honors values that all Americans can share.

But there are limits. A president cannot possibly hope to be a grand synthesizer of all religious traditions in the United States. Despite his skills, it is above President Obama’s pay grade to construct some kind of civic religion that stands above traditional religions and which should guide Americans going forward.

Instead of providing separate messages to Jews and Christians on the observance of Passover and Easter, President Obama said in this holiday greeting that “while we worship in different ways, we also remember the shared spirit of humanity that inhabits us all – Jews and Christians, Muslims and Hindus, believers and nonbelievers alike.”

Obama then went on to say that “on this Easter weekend, let us hold fast to those aspirations we hold in common as brothers and sisters, as members of the same family – the family of man.”

The problem is that when you start to water down what people actually believe in an attempt to construct a religion of the “family of man”, you start to misrepresent fundamentally the nature of the hope that is at the center of lives of believers.

In the case of Christians, Christ is our hope.  Our hope is in the risen Christ, which we celebrate on Easter Sunday.

But if a president wants to water down religious beliefs in an attempt to find a synthesized religion of the ‘family of man’, you end up removing Christ from Easter, which is, strangely, exactly what President Obama did today in his Easter message. 

Is this the first American president to dechristianize Easter?

Vince Haley is vice president for policy at American Solutions. The observations made herein are personal

Obama’s Mr. Cool Act Wins Few Foreign Friends

Obama’s Mr. Cool Act Wins Few Foreign Friends

April 6th, 2010

Business Week

 Obama is too cool for school and for friends and allies

After 14 months in office, President Barack Obama is looking at a cold and friendless world.

That doesn’t seem to bother him one bit, because he’s the one who’s acting chilly.

His relations with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Afghan President Hamid Karzai are almost sub-zero. Obama didn’t mind hurting Spanish feelings when he canceled a summit in Madrid.

Even French President Nicolas Sarkozy — dubbed “l’Americain” by his compatriots — was put on hold for a home-cooked dinner until a week ago. Other Europeans can’t decide whether he’s dissing them.

It’s gotten to the point where there is a debate in the U.K. Parliament on whether to call off the so-called special relationship. The British took offense at Obama’s decision to move Winston Churchill’s bust out of the Oval Office. The more dramatic slight was his pitiful gift of a boxed set of 25 old American movies to Prime Minister Gordon Brown, who can’t even view them on a U.K. DVD player.

Read More:

Painting the Protesters (the Cartoon)

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