Goldman releases internal paper trail

Goldman releases internal paper trail

By Henny Sender in New York

Published: April 25 2010 19:49 | Last updated: April 25 2010 19:49

Goldman Sachs released internal documents over the weekend that it said demonstrated that its subprime mortgage trading reflected prudent risk management rather than speculation.

Days before Lloyd Blankfein, chief executive, is due to appear before the Senate, the embattled bank said it did not “consistently or significantly short” the market for subprime mortgage securities, and any negative positions it had were intended to counterbalance long exposures.

The material, consisting largely of internal e-mail traffic, is meant to refute allegations by a Senate investigation committee, which claimed on Saturday that Goldman had made big profits betting against the mortgage market, which subsequently crashed.

The Securities and Exchange Commission has also alleged that Goldman fraudulently failed to disclose that a hedge fund influenced the composition of a subprime mortgage security underwritten by the bank. Mr Blankfein is expected to launch a strong defence of the bank on Tuesday, fighting to preserve the firm’s reputation in the eyes of both clients and the US public, many of whom were the victims of the housing crash.

Mr Blankfein will have to tread carefully if he suggests that Goldman is the object of a politically motivated campaign, without further infuriating regulators, according to people familiar with Goldman’s likely defence. “It is always an unequal battle with the government,” said one lawyer. “They have a bazooka and you have a water pistol.”

In a letter to shareholders on April 7, released over the weekend, Goldman said it did not generate enormous revenues or profits by betting against residential mortgage products, but its negative positions merely meant it lost less money than it otherwise would have.

The line between hedging exposures and using the firm’s balance sheet to take positions in the hope of making money is a fine one. At least some of the e-mails suggest that at the end of 2006 its defensive posture came at the possible expense of more bullish investors.

Daniel Sparks, who headed the firm’s mortgage operations – and who is also testifying to the Senate on Tuesday – sent an e-mail urging staff to “distribute as much as possible from new loan securitisations” in what appears to be an effort to reduce the firm’s own exposures.

One major source of losses for firms such as Merrill Lynch, which lost tens of billions of dollars on mortgages, and Citigroup was that they had huge holdings of subprime mortgage securities meant to be turned into complicated collateralised debt obligations they could not get rid of when investors finally turned sour on the market.

Among the materials Goldman released is an email from Fabrice Tourre, who is the only individual charged for his role in the “Abacus” transaction at the heart of the SEC charges and who will also appear at Tuesday’s hearing in Washington. Mr. Tourre describes the deal as “the type of thing you invent telling yourself well what if you created a thing that has no purpose.”

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PC Alert: Rev. Franklin Graham Banned by the Pentagon for Telling the Truth About Islam

PC Alert: Rev. Franklin Graham Banned by the Pentagon for Telling the Truth About Islam
Doug Giles
Saturday, April 24, 2010

Franklin Graham, distinguished Christian minister and son of an American evangelical treasure (i.e. Billy Graham) was banned from praying at the Pentagon for their upcoming May 6th National Day of Prayer event because he called Islam “evil.”

Apparently Franklin didn’t get the memo that we can’t say squat about Islam anymore. Oh, hell no. Muslims are groovy no matter what they do, and anyone who says otherwise … is … well … evil … in the eyes of the thought police who’re heading up the United States of Political Horse Smack.

Check it out: When Muslims kill 3,000 Americans, we can’t call them “wicked.” When they abuse women, cut off little girls’ clitorises, stone unruly wives, honor kill their teenage daughters for texting someone not named Achmed, and keep precious women in stone-age bondage worldwide, we can’t say that’s BS because that might offend them. And God forbid we should offend folks who’re six bubbles off level and don’t get basic women’s rights.

I’m scratching a bald spot on the back of my head on this one because we won’t put up with that bollocks with any other people or religion except with Islam; they get a free pass. Yes, we’re being whipped into believing that we’re misjudging them even though the preponderance of historical evidence indicates that those who believe they’re bogus are spot on.

I think it is legitimately safe to say—and extremely sad to say—that Political Correctness has officially seeped its fetid sewage into the brass inside the beltway.

Matter of fact, I’m wearing black today because I’m in mourning. As far as I’m concerned, it’s calamitous when the U.S. Army bans a solid Christian minister and upstanding citizen (who has added much to America’s Christian heritage and the well-being of millions of suffering people worldwide) from praying for our troops just because he called Muslim crap crap. You can read the full horror story here.

Lastly, I’d like to thank Franklin for having the holy testosterone—amidst the many craven and neutered capitulating clerics, pundits and politicians across our land—to call Islam’s actions wicked because … duh … they are. Good job, old chap. It seems as if only South Park, Robert Spencer, David Horowitz, a smattering of other analysts (mostly women) and Graham will come out and verbally hammer these cats for their “faith”-inspired atrocities against non-Muslims and their own women.

Oh, by the way: If you’re not convinced Islam is evil, check out this video.

Sarah Palin: Institutionalizing Crony Capitalism

Sarah Palin: Institutionalizing Crony Capitalism

Institutionalizing Crony Capitalism
 Thu at 7:28pm
In the wake of the recent financial meltdown, Americans know that we need reform. Not only have many individuals learned lessons about personal responsibility through this, but we’ve been able to engage in a discussion about government’s appropriate role.

The current debate over financial reform demonstrates what happens when political leaders react to a crisis with a raft of new regulations. First off, the people involved in writing government regulations are often lobbyists from the very industry that the new laws are supposed to regulate, and that’s been the case here. It should surprise no one that financial lobbyists are flocking to DC this week. Of course, the big players who can afford lobbyists work the regulations in their favor, while their smaller competitors are left out in the cold. The result here are regulations that institutionalize the “too big to fail” mentality.

Moreover, the financial reform bill gives regulators the power to pick winners and losers, institutionalizing their ability to decide “which firms to rescue or close, and which creditors to reward and how.” Does anyone doubt that firms with the most lobbyists and the biggest campaign donations will be the ones who get seats in the lifeboat? The president is trying to convince us that he’s taking on the Wall Street “fat cats,” but firms like Goldman Sachs are happy with federal regulation because, as one of their lobbyists recently stated, “We partner with regulators.”

They seem to have a nice relationship with the White House too. Goldman showered nearly a million dollars in campaign contributions on candidate Obama. In fact, J.P. Freire notes that President Obama received about seven times more money from Goldman than President Bush received from Enron. Of course, it’s not just the donations; it’s the revolving door. You’ll find the name Goldman Sachs on many an Obama administration résumé, including Rahm Emanuel’s and Tim Geithner’s chiefs of staff.

We need to be on our guard against such crony capitalism. We fought against distortion of the market in Alaska when we confronted “Big Oil,” or more specifically some of the players in the industry and in political office, who were taking the 49th state for a ride. My administration challenged lax rules that seemed to allow corruption, and we even challenged the largest corporation in the world at the time for not abiding by provisions in contracts it held with the state. When it came time to craft a plan for a natural gas pipeline, we insisted on transparency and a level playing field to ensure fair competition. Our reforms helped reduce politicians’ ability to play favorites and helped clean up corruption. We set up stricter oversight offices and ushered through a bi-partisan ethics reform bill. Far from being against necessary reform, I embrace it.

Commonsense conservatives acknowledge the need for financial reform and believe that government can play an appropriate role in leveling the playing field and protecting “the dynamism of American capitalism without neglecting the government’s responsibility to protect the American public.” We’re listening closely to the reform discussion in Washington, and we know that government should not burden the market with unnecessary bureaucracy and distorted incentives, nor make a dangerous “too-big-to-fail” mentality the law of the land.

– Sarah Palin

Israel’s Right to Exist as a Jewish Homeland

Israel’s Right to Exist as a Jewish Homeland

By Salomon Benzimra

The U.S. regularly reiterates its support of Israel’s security, but it says nothing about Israel’s legal rights. These legal rights originated at the San Remo Conference, and the Resolution passed on April 25, 1920 is enshrined in international law. The commemoration of the ninetieth anniversary of this event will certainly open a new vista on the Middle East conflict.

Our calendars are strewn with special dates that link us to the past. In March we celebrated the two hundredth anniversary of Chopin’s birth. Every Fourth of July, we celebrate Independence Day. Remembrance days are important, whether they pay homage to greatness or they unite people in national pride.
But there have been momentous events in recent history that remain unnoticed, if not entirely forgotten. One such event redrew the map of one of the most politically contentious regions of the planet, it shook the preexisting world order, it proclaimed the rebirth of a nation, and it marked the end of the longest foreign occupation in history. Yet few people have ever heard of it.
That event took place ninety years ago in the wake of World War One at the Italian resort town of San Remo. On April 25, 1920, after two days of intense discussions, prime ministers and high ranking diplomats of the victorious Allied powers signed the San Remo Resolution and sealed the destiny of the former Turkish possessions in the Middle East.
The Middle East has been a locus of legal misrepresentations and a cauldron of violence ever since, in part because this landmark Resolution, which initiated further agreements enshrined in international law, has seldom been publicized. An uninformed public allowed often poorly informed politicians to concoct implausible — dare I say unlawful? — peace plans, the failure of which is too obvious to ignore.
So on April 25, 2010, we should commemorate the ninetieth anniversary of the San Remo Conference and make the public aware of the crucial decisions that were made then and the effect these decisions should now have on the lands and peoples concerned.
In San Remo — and for the first time in 1,800 years, since Roman times — the geographical region known as “Palestine” acquired a legal identity. Even though the boundaries of Palestine were not precisely defined in San Remo, the prevailing idea was to draw them as close as possible to the historical boundaries of the ancient Jewish kingdoms of Israel and Judah. In that regard, the expression “from Dan to Beersheba” was introduced by Lloyd George, the British Prime Minister at the time, and it often appeared in subsequent documents.
By referring specifically to the Balfour Declaration of November 1917 — which was essentially an expression of British foreign policy — and by reproducing its wording literally, the San Remo Resolution entrenched the provisions of the Balfour Declaration in international law. Thus, the reconstitution of the Jewish National Home in Palestine received international recognition.
The legal title to Palestine was officially transferred from the League of Nations — when Turkey was dispossessed of its rights to the region at the Paris Peace Conference a year earlier — to the Jewish people, who became the national beneficiary under a mandate awarded to Britain, thereby designated as the trustee.
The transfer of title and the sovereignty of the Jewish people in Palestine remain binding in international law to this day. Similarly, equivalent national rights were conferred to the Arabs in both Syria/Lebanon and present-day Iraq under two other transitional mandates awarded to France and Britain, respectively. It should therefore be apparent that the legitimacy of the present Arab states of Syria, Lebanon, and Iraq derives from the same international law which reconstituted the Jewish nation in Palestine.
Besides fulfilling the national aspirations of the Jewish people (Zionism), the San Remo Conference also marked the end of the longest colonization in history. Whereas European powers extended their colonization in Africa, Asia, and the Americas for a period not exceeding four hundred years, Palestine has been occupied and colonized by a succession of foreign powers for about 1,900 years (Romans, Byzantines, Sassanid Persians, Arabs, Crusaders, Mameluks, and Ottoman Turks). This early episode of liberation, which preceded the global decolonization process by more than thirty years, should be welcome by all progressive minds.
The commemoration of the San Remo Conference on its ninetieth anniversary is a different kind of remembrance in that it primarily serves an educational purpose. In fact, the European Coalition for Israel, a non-Jewish European organization based in Brussels, is planning to do exactly that in San Remo on April 24-25, in a two-day official gathering at the very place where the event took place in 1920.
By bringing the San Remo Conference to the fore, the public will be better-informed, opinions will be more solidly founded, and decision-makers might revisit their geopolitical plans.

Are Jewish Students Safe on California Campuses?

Are Jewish Students Safe on California Campuses?

By Leila Beckwith and Tammi Rossman-Benjamin

On Feb. 13th, Al-Awda (The Palestine Right to Return Coalition) held its Fifth Al-Awda West Coast Regional Conference in the La Mesa Community Center in San Diego. Undercover investigative journalist Lee Kaplan attended the meeting and wrote an article that raises several issues that should be very troubling for anyone concerned about the safety of Jewish students on California campuses.
Al-Awda is an organization that, according to the Anti-Defamation League, opposes Israel’s right to exist; supports groups on the U.S. State Department’s list of foreign terrorist organizations, including Hamas and Hezb’allah; organizes numerous rallies, demonstrations, and events to demonize Israel and her supporters; and actively encourages boycott, divestment, and sanctions in order to isolate and economically strangle the Jewish state. (Two of Al-Awda’s three co-founders are leaders of major anti-Israel boycott campaigns: Mazin Qumsiyeh co-founded the Boycott Israeli Goods campaign, and Jess Ghannam co-founded the U.S. Campaign for the Academic & Cultural Boycott of Israel). Al-Awda’s annual international conventions and regional conferences feature virulently anti-Zionist and anti-Semitic speakers and films, as well as workshops which teach how to mount successful boycott and divestment campaigns against Israel. 
Unfortunately, Al-Awda has also made significant inroads on college and university campuses in North America by partnering with dozens of Muslim and pro-Palestinian/anti-Israel student groups. The first four of Al-Awda’s seven annual international conventions were held on university campuses (University of Toronto, Hunter College, University of California Los Angeles, and San Francisco State University), and all of its conventions and regional conferences have been sponsored by numerous student groups, particularly Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) and the Muslim Student Association (MSA). In California, SJP and MSA groups from more than ten California public colleges and universities — including UC Los Angeles, UC San Diego, UC Irvine, UC Riverside, San Francisco State University, San Diego State University, CSU Fullerton, and CSU San Bernadino — have collaborated with Al Awda in hosting events.
The Al-Awda regional conference in February is a case in point of how much influence Al-Awda wields over California university campuses. A major emphasis of the conference was the promotion at California universities and colleges of a campaign to divest university holdings from Israel. The featured speakers came from diverse University of California and California State University campuses, and included Dr. Jess Ghannam, Clinical Professor of Psychiatry and Global Health Sciences at UC San Francisco and Adjunct Professor of Ethnic Studies at SFSU; students from SDSU and Cal State Northridge; and Dr. Jamal Nassar, Dean of the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences at Cal State San Bernadino.
The first to speak, Dr. Ghannam gloried in the success of efforts to delegitimize Israel. He singled out for praise the members of the UC Irvine MSU for their “heroic efforts” disrupting an invited lecture at UCI by Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren, and he added: “Now, every single Israeli military official and politician will be afraid to speak publicly. It’s huge!” At a special workshop promoting divestment on California public university campuses, one SJP student from SDSU explained how the UC Divestment program has developed a campus-wide network in California, tailored to each campus community. She also reported on an SJP campaign to take control of the student government at SDSU by filling ten senate seats and the senate body presidency with SJP members, who would then be able to promote their divestment campaign. The meeting concluded with Dr. Jamal Nassar, Dean of the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences at Cal State San Bernadino, who promised that Al-Awda could host a conference at Cal State San Bernadino anytime, because Arabs have special connections within his campus administration.
Al-Awda is not the only off-campus organization dedicated to the elimination of the Jewish state that has insinuated itself into our universities and colleges. The influence of Al-Awda is compounded by the presence of the Muslim Students Association (MSA), or Muslim Student Union (MSU), with chapters at nearly six hundred colleges and universities in the U.S. and Canada, including on nine of the ten UC campuses and on most Cal State campuses. According to a 2008 report on the Muslim Student Association prepared by the Investigative Project on Terrorism, the MSA was founded by the Muslim Brotherhood, an Egyptian-based organization dedicated to instituting Sharia law and a Muslim empire throughout the world, in part by means of violent jihad (holy war). The tenets of the Muslim Brotherhood are the ideological source for all Sunni-based Islamic terrorist groups.
According to the IPT report, the MSA sees itself as part of the global Islamic movement and promotes the Islamist ideology derived from the Muslim Brotherhood, including support for jihad. IPT’s 2008 report states that up until 2007, the MSA-National website hosted a list of Islamic organizations, some of which have been identified by the U.S. State Department as supporting and funding terrorism. Additionally, their list of speakers on college campuses has included those who justify suicide bombers and jihad and/or have acted in support of Hamas. Furthermore, former leaders of the MSA formed the Islamic Society of North America, which was an unindicted co-conspirator of the Holy Land Foundation convicted in federal court of supporting terrorism through the funding of Hamas. Hatem Bazian, a senior lecturer at UC Berkeley who is considered a role model to students of the Berkeley MSA chapter and serves as faculty at COMPASS (MSA-National’s management training program), was a representative of KindHearts, an organization whose primary purpose was to provide financial support for Hamas and whose assets were frozen by the federal government after a two-year Senate investigation. In addition, at a 2004 antiwar rally in San Francisco, Bazian called for an “intifada” in America.
Both the MSA and the SJP have repeatedly promoted anti-Israel events that at times become openly anti-Semitic, voice support for suicide bombers, transgress their universities’ policies, and even violate California and U.S. law. At UC Irvine, for example, the MSA has been involved in acts of physical aggression, harassment, and intimidation of Jewish students; has produced posters equating the Star of David with the swastika; and hosts speakers who compare Jews to Nazis and praise terrorism. Two such speakers are Imam Mohammad al Asi and Amir Abdel Malik Ali. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, their speeches at UCI have espoused anti-Semitic conspiracy theories about 9/11, repeatedly crossed the line from criticism of Israeli policy to voicing “loathing for all Jews as a people,” and glorified violence against civilians, as in Malik Ali’s statement that “victory or martyrdom are the only two viable options acceptable in the battle against the ‘Zionist apartheid state.'” The UCI administration has asked the FBI to investigate the MSU for breaking U.S. law by deliberately fundraising for a terrorist organization, Hamas, and lying about it to the UCI administration.
Members of the UC Berkeley SJP have also harassed and committed acts of physical aggression against Jewish students and disrupted Jewish student events. SJP advocates economic sanctions against Israel, and its chapters were responsible for divestment motions at Hampshire College and the University of Rochester, as well as the most recent, widely publicized attempt at UC Berkeley.
It is indisputable that the MSA and SJP have strong ties to organizations that call for the elimination of the Jewish state and promote the murder of Jews, and that many of the activities of these groups specifically harass and intimidate Jewish students. It is not inconceivable that these groups’ anti-Semitic discourse and hostility could escalate into incidents of physical violence. Nevertheless, California administrators have been unwilling to respond to, or even acknowledge, the threats that Jewish students face on their campuses.
At the University of California, for example, all ten UC Chancellors recently signed a statement condemning “all acts of racism, intolerance and incivility,” and affirming that “[r]egardless of what free speech rights they purport to express … we have a responsibility to speak out against activities that promote intolerance or undermine civil dialogue.” Nevertheless, not one UC Chancellor has condemned the MSA/MSU or SJP groups on his or her campus for the hateful, anti-Semitic programs they mount, or the hostile and intimidating environment they create for Jewish students.
Moreover, last month at a special three-hour UC Regents meeting devoted to addressing recent acts of intolerance and bigotry on UC campuses — including a noose found at UCSD, swastikas at UC Davis, and the disruption of Ambassador’s Oren’s talk at UCI — the Regents’ discussion focused almost entirely on African-American students and other under-represented minorities. Whereas the Regents expressed intense sympathy for the emotional distress that nooses might cause African-American students, no comparable solicitude was shown for the sense of well-being of Jewish students. Indeed, Jewish students and their concerns were virtually ignored at the meeting, and the longstanding and intolerable harassment and intimidation of Jewish students by members of the Muslim and pro-Palestinian/anti-Israel student groups were not mentioned even once.
The federal government, too, has chosen to turn its back on Jewish students. The Office of Civil Rights (OCR) of the U.S. Department of Education has refused to afford Jewish students the same protections against harassment and intimidation as it grants to every African-American, Latino, and Arab student. According to Kenneth Marcus, former director of the OCR: “Assistant Secretary of Education for Civil Rights Russlynn Ali indicated that the Obama administration would not pursue cases of harassment against Jewish students.”
What California university administrators, governing boards, and the federal government are unwilling to acknowledge is this: The MSA/MSU and SJP chapters on many California campuses are unlike other official student groups. Their affiliations with organizations that support terror and seek to wage Islamic jihad make them a threat to every member of the campus community, but especially to Jewish students. The refusal of university and government officials to afford protections to Jewish students on California campuses is absolutely unconscionable and should be protested loudly and clearly by parents, donors, and taxpayers across the state and across the nation.
Leila Beckwith is Professor Emeritus at the University of California at Los Angeles; Tammi Rossman Benjamin is a Lecturer at the University of California Santa Cruz.

Truman Was Right; Netanyahu Would Be Right===Barack Obama is the most anti-Israel president in U.S. history

Truman Was Right; Netanyahu Would Be Right

By Ken Blackwell

President Obama’s new Nuclear Posture Review has succeeded mightily in muddying the clear waters. He says that we will not use nuclear weapons against a non-nuclear power. Except Iran. Except North Korea. If we are attacked with biological or chemical weapons, we will not retaliate with nuclear weapons. Is this a green light for another attack on the homeland? And what are the former captive nations of Europe supposed to think? Does any NATO member — like Poland, like Estonia — sleep more soundly with this ringing declaration of confusion, this uncertain trumpet?

When he was in Japan last fall, Mr. Obama pointedly avoided saying that the U.S. use of nuclear weapons to end the carnage of World War II was justified. The American left — Barack Obama’s base — has been indicting Harry Truman for decades for dropping atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945.
Truman faced the horrible prospect of losing 600,000 American lives in an invasion of the Japanese home islands. He also had to consider the real danger of millions Japanese civilian deaths in the combat and from mass suicides. The leftist Truman-haters also never consider the 10,000 allied POWs dying weekly in Japanese captivity.
When Mr. Obama bowed low before Emperor Akihito, it was a tacit apology for all of that. Japan in 1945 was a non-nuclear power. The new Nuclear Posture Review is Obama’s elliptical way of saying that Harry Truman was wrong.
Now we come to the mortal peril of Israel. Barack Obama is the most anti-Israel president in U.S. history. He has been willing to excoriate Benjamin Netanyahu’s shaky coalition government over Jews building apartments in East Jerusalem while cooing to despots in Riyadh and Cairo. Nobel Peace Prize Winner Elie Wiesel, a liberal supporter of Barack Obama, is in anguish. “Jerusalem is Jewish history,” he said in a full-page ad, an open letter to the president. “Jerusalem,” this Holocaust survivor said, “is the heart of our heart.”
Martin Peretz of the New Republic, another liberal Obama-backer, noted that Obama’s stiff-arming of Israel has served only to stiffen Palestinian intransigence. The PLO “quickly surmised that Obama was in their corner and would not push them much. Their surmise turned out to be correct.” Former New York Mayor Ed Koch is distraught. He endorsed Barack Obama for president, but now cries: “I weep as I witness outrageous verbal attacks on Israel … that are being orchestrated by President Obama.”
Add to this dangerous mix Mr. Obama’s cool and detached analysis of sanctions against an Iranian regime hell-bent on acquiring nuclear weapons. “Sometimes they work, sometimes they don’t.” Actually, most of the time, they don’t work. And they are especially doomed to fail when those who are supposed to be “crippled” and “bitten” by the “tough and smart” sanctions know that there is no muscle behind the bluster. Even the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff — Mr. Obama’s top military man — knows that his administration has no clue what to do about Iran.
Mahmoud Admadinejad, the mouthpiece for the Iranian mullahs, repeatedly says he envisions a world without Israel, a world without the U.S. And he responds to Obama’s neutering Nuclear Policy Review with withering scorn. He celebrates Iran’s unimpeded advance toward nuclear weaponry with open taunting of the toothless U.S. policy.
I believe Truman was justified in that hardest of all presidential decisions. Tens of millions of Americans and Japanese are alive today because Truman had the determination and grit to make that awful decision.
As justified as we were then, Israel would be even more justified in using tactical nuclear weapons now to eliminate the Iranian nuclear threat to the world. Japan in 1945 presented no existential threat to the U.S. Iran is just such a threat — to Israel, to NATO, and to us.
When the Israelis struck Saddam Hussein’s nuclear Osirak plant in 1981, the world howled. Even our U.S. State Department — under Alexander Haig — condemned the raid. The anti-Israel majority at the U.N. threatened sanctions against the Jewish state. President Reagan effectively sidetracked sanctions then.
But if Israel had not acted swiftly and effectively against Saddam Hussein then, the United States would not have been able to eject him from Kuwait a decade later with so little loss of American life. Saddam would have become the dominant power in the Mideast. That he did not rain nuclear missiles on Israel in 1991 is wholly attributable to the Israelis’ brave and skillful raid of 1981.
Mr. Obama’s feckless policies are giving the Israelis no choice. He wasted fifteen months in fruitless overtures to the Iranian terror leaders. He advanced toward them with an open hand; they spit in his open hand. Bullying democratic Israel and coddling terror states is no policy.
April is the month when millions of Jews and their righteous Gentile friends around the world reflect on what it means to be a stateless, powerless, hunted people. Jews remember the Holocaust and say “Never Again.” Whether the United States under Barack Obama is with them or not, Israel has a right to act to make sure: Never Again.

Ken Blackwell is a senior fellow at the Family Research Council. He serves on the board of directors of the Club for Growth, National Taxpayers Union, and National Rifle Association.

Republicans Threatening Congressional Seats Long Held by Democrats

Republicans Threatening Congressional Seats Long Held by Democrats

Winds of change seen not only in places where posts often change hands.

By JEFF ZELENY & ADAM NAGOURNEY
THE NEW YORK TIMES

Published: Saturday, April 24, 2010 at 5:06 p.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, April 24, 2010 at 5:06 p.m.

( page of 3 )

ASHLAND, Wis. | Rep. David Obey has won 21 straight races, easily prevailing through wars and economic crises that have spanned presidencies from Nixon to Obama. Yet the discontent with Washington surging through politics is now threatening not only his seat but Democratic control of Congress.

 

Obey is one of nearly a dozen well-established House Democrats who are bracing for something they rarely face: serious competition. Their predicament is the latest sign of distress for their party and underlines why Republicans are confident of big gains in November, and perhaps even winning back the House.

The fight for the midterm elections is not confined to traditional battlegrounds, where Republicans and Democrats often swap seats every few cycles. In the Senate, Democrats are struggling to hold on to, among others, seats once held by President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden. Democrats are preparing to lose as many as 30 House seats – including a wave of first-term members – and Republicans have expanded their sights to places where political challenges seldom develop.

“It’s not a lifetime appointment,” said Sean Duffy, a Republican district attorney here in the north woods of Wisconsin, where he has established himself as one of the most aggressive challengers to Obey since the Democrat went to Washington in 1969. “There are changes in this country going on and people aren’t happy.”

Obey, who leads the powerful Appropriations Committee, is one of three House Democratic chairmen who have drawn serious opposition. Reps. John Spratt of South Carolina, who oversees the Budget Committee, and Ike Skelton of Missouri, who runs the Armed Services Committee, have been warned by party leaders to step up the intensity of their campaigns to help preserve the Democratic majority.

These established House Democrats find themselves in the same endangered straits as some of their newer colleagues, particularly those who were swept into office in 2008 by Obama as he scored victories in traditionally Republican states like Indiana and Virginia.

Rep. Pete Sessions of Texas, chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee, said he would consider anything short of taking back the House a failure. Republicans say they have not recruited strong candidates in all districts, but both parties agree that Republicans are within reach of capturing the 40 additional seats needed to win control. Republicans also are likely to eat into the Democratic majority in the Senate, though their prospects of taking control remain slim.

Democratic congressional officials – well aware that a president’s party typically loses seats in midterm elections – have long been preparing for a tough year. But that Obey here in Wisconsin, and other veteran lawmakers like Rep. Earl Pomeroy of North Dakota, suddenly find themselves in a fight reflects an increasingly sour mood toward the Democratic Party and incumbents.

“He’s supporting the party line of the Democrats, which is not consistent with North Dakota,” said Rick Berg, a Republican state representative from North Dakota who is challenging Pomeroy. “In the past, we’ve been more conservative at home than the people we send to Washington.” Asked if this was a good time to be a Republican candidate, Berg laughed and said: “I sure think so.”

Pomeroy, who has served for 18 years as the state’s only congressman, won two years ago with 62 percent of the vote. Now, he is among the top targets of House Republicans, and is fighting without the help of one of the state’s incumbent Democratic senators on the ballot, since Byron Dorgan chose to retire.

“Some cycles are more challenging as a candidate than others,” Pomeroy said. “This should be in the range of challenging cycles.”

Democrats worry that some lawmakers who have avoided tough races in the past could be at added risk of defeat because they are out of practice, slow on their feet and often reluctant to acknowledge the threat they are facing. The chairman of the House re-election effort, Rep. Chris Van Hollen of Maryland, has called mandatory face-to-face meetings with vulnerable members to monitor their campaigns.

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