Alinsky’s Avenging Angels: Tea Party Saboteurs

Lead Story

Alinsky’s Avenging Angels: Tea Party Saboteurs

By Michelle Malkin  •  April 14, 2010 09:41 AM

My syndicated column takes off on the post I did earlier this week about the Tea Party crashers. More are coming out of their moonbat caves. JWF flags a corporate hospitality executive announcing his plans to “crash the Boston Tea Party of retards.” And in New Hampshire, the state Democrats are enlisting liberal activists to sabotage Tea Party Tax Day events:

Former Democratic State Party Chairman Kathy Sullivan is heading up the search, the source said. Sullivan has been calling and e-mailing liberal activists trying to get them to attend tea parties in different parts of the state and hold signs denying the authenticity of President Barack Obama’s birth certificate and make racially disparaging comments to reporters. “This is Kathy’s [Sullivan] project,” the source told NowHampshire.com. “She is absolutely obsessed with painting the tea party people as racists.” Similar “crash the tea party” efforts are taking place throughout the country on Tax Day.

It’s the Alinsky way.

***

Alinsky’s Avenging Angels: Tea Party Saboteurs
by Michelle Malkin
Creators Syndicate
Copyright 2010

One of the popular signs spotted at Tea Party protests across the country over the past year goes like this: “It doesn’t matter what this sign says. You’ll call it racism, anyway!” It’s a pithy, perfect rejoinder to the fusillade of attacks that limited-government activists have weathered from their Democratic detractors and a hostile national media. Committed Alinsky-ites never let reality get in the way of a good Tea Party-bashing narrative.

The radical acolytes of Chicago’s late left-wing organizer Saul Alinsky also understand the importance of manufacturing demons. “Before men can act,” Alinsky preached, “an issue must be polarized. Men will act when they are convinced their cause is 100 percent on the side of the angels, and that the opposition are 100 percent on the side of the devil.” This explains the left’s relentless campaign to sabotage the anti-tax, anti-bailout movement from Day One.

President Obama’s community organizing allies whispered “racist,” “fascist” and “fringe” in the earliest days of the stimulus demonstrations in January and February 2009, when hundreds of first-time protesters turned out on the streets in Washington State, Colorado, Arizona and Kansas. The whispers turned to hysterical screams as hundreds became thousands and thousands became millions of peaceful marchers who gathered for the first nationwide Tax Day Tea Party. Some fringe, huh?

The latest effort to smear Tea Partiers involves self-appointed agents provocateurs who are organizing a “Crash the Tea Party” campaign to discredit the April 15 Tax Day Tea Party by making up bogus racist signs and providing false portrayals of grassroots activists to the press. An online punk, Jason Levin, is spearheading the infiltration effort to “act on behalf of the Tea Party in ways which exaggerate their least appealing qualities” and “damage the public’s opinion of them.” Never mind that public opinion polls now show that the majority of Americans stand with the core principles of fiscal responsibility espoused by Tea Party activists.

Levin may be a lone wolf operator, but he has many fellow travelers in the Democratic establishment and left-wing fever swamps. And their efforts wouldn’t be possible without friendlies in the press who have openly insulted Tea Party activists with endless vulgar sexual taunts and Taliban comparisons.

A few months ago, Craig Varoga — a Washington-based Democratic political operative and overseer of a convoluted, money-shuffling web of political action committees — launched “TheTeaPartyisOver.org” to target Republicans who supported the Tea Party movement. The site declared that it would prevent the “radical” and “dangerous” fiscal accountability agenda from “gaining legislative traction.” Varoga’s money funneling is designed to obscure the Big Labor/progressive funding of his enterprises under the umbrella of his “American Public Policy Center (APPC).”

After conservative blogs and Fox News exposed his deceptive web of grassroots groups, Varoga password-protected his website so that the Democratic plotting against Tea Party activists could be conducted out of view.

I speak from direct experience about the underhandedness of Tea Party smear merchants. On Feb. 17, 2009, at one of the country’s first tax revolt rallies in Denver, a man approached me amid a throng of bona fide anti-stimulus protesters and thrust a camera in my face. I obliged cheerfully, as I usually do after such speaking events. I later learned from the character assassins at Progress Now, a left-wing outfit that just happened to be there and just happened to snap a close-up photo of the interaction, that the man pulled out a sign at the last minute (which I didn’t see until later) sporting Obama’s name with a swastika on it. He held the sign away from me, but in direct view of the Progress Now cameraperson.

That cameraperson just happened to be a former CNN producer, whose blog post on the photo just happened to be immediately disseminated by the local press and to the hit men at the radical-left Media Matters website. The narrative was set: A conservative supporter of the nascent Tea Party movement posed for a photo with a man holding up a swastika at a protest against out-of-control spending! Ergo, the anti-stimulus protesters and the entire Tea Party membership are all racist, fascist menaces to society!

Fast-forward to April 2010. Alinsky’s avenging angels have declared open warfare on April 15. Will they be enabled again by “mainstream journalists” who have turned their Tea Party reporting assignments into search-and-destroy missions? The signs point to yes.

DOCTOR’S ORDERS

‘Obamacare’ cops: $1 billion to force new tax compliance

16,000 new IRS agents to be required under health-care reform


Posted: March 28, 2010
7:24 pm Eastern

By Jerome R. Corsi
© 2010 WorldNetDaily

 

Collecting taxes under the Democrats’ newly passed health-care plan will cost the federal government more than $1 billion a year in salaries alone, Republicans in Congress estimate.

The legislation will require the IRS to hire as many as 16,500 additional auditors, agents and other employees to investigate and collect billions in new taxes imposed on Americans, according to a House Committee on Ways and Means Committee Republican report prepared March 18 for ranking members Reps. Dave Camp, R-Mich., and Charles Boustany, R-La.

In March 2009, the federal government’s average annual salary was $42,035 for tax examiners, $91,507 for internal revenue agents and $63,547 for tax specialists, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics “Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2010-11 Edition.”

Averaging the three pay grade averages yields an estimated $65,696 per IRS worker hired, assuming an equal number of tax examiners, internal revenue agents and tax specialists.

Together, the 16,500 new IRS personnel needed to collect taxes under the new legislation will cost the federal government somewhere in the realm of $1.1 billion

The IRS media office objected that the Joint Committee on Taxation publication JCX-18-10 issued March 21, “Technical Explanation of the Revenue Provisions of the Reconciliation Act,” does not specify any number of IRS personnel that must be hired to implement the tax provisions of the bill.

Rep. Kevin Brady, R-Texas, disagrees.

“The Internal Revenue Service will see its largest expansion since withholding taxes were enacted during World War II to enforce the glut of new tax mandates and penalties included in the Democrats’ latest health care plan,” reads a statement on Brady’s congressional website.

Brady is the ranking Republican on the Joint Economic Committee.

“We need thousands of new doctors and nurses in America, not thousands more IRS agents,” Brady insists. “In addition to more complicated tax returns, families and small businesses will be forced to reveal further tax information to the IRS, provide proof of ‘government approved’ health care and submit detailed sales information to comply with new excise taxes.”

By 2016, the IRS will be required under the “Obamacare” legislation to monitor the health insurance status of individuals and businesses to determine if the insurance purchased as reported on tax returns meets the level of coverage required by the law. In cases of noncompliance fees and penalties are to be assessed.

The IRS could not give WND any indication how the Democrats’ new legislation would implement the “bounty hunter” program President Obama suggested would track down abusers and collect evaded taxes on all government health programs, including Medicare and Medicaid.

The IRS further did not respond by publication deadline to WND’s request for information regarding the likely number of additional personnel the IRS would have to hire to implement Obamacare, the immediate tax consequences the IRS would have to monitor and audit, and the likely cost to the IRS of implementing the new health legislation.

Obamacare prescription: ‘Emergency health army’

Force subject to ‘involuntary calls to active duty’ during ‘public crises’


Posted: March 25, 2010
11:40 pm Eastern

By Chelsea Schilling
© 2010 WorldNetDaily

President Obama’s recently passed health-care reform legislation includes a surprise for many Americans – a beefing up of a U.S. Public Health Service reserve force and expectations that it respond on short notice to “routine public health and emergency response missions,” even involuntarily.

According to Section 5210 of HR 3590, titled “Establishing a Ready Reserve Corps,” the force must be ready for “involuntary calls to active duty during national emergencies and public health crises.”

The health-care legislation adds millions of dollars for recruitment and amends Section 203 of the Public Health Service Act (42 U.S.C. 204), passed July 1, 1944, during Franklin D. Roosevelt’s presidency. The U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps is one of the seven uniformed services in the U.S. However, Obama’s changes more than double the wording of the Section 203 and dub individuals who are currently classified as officers in the Reserve Corps commissioned officers of the Regular Corps.

‘You’ve been served!” Send the Constitution to Obama, Pelosi, Reid and put them on notice. What better way to tell them why they’re losing their jobs?

The following is the previous wording of the act as of 2004, before Democrats passed the health-care legislation:


Wording of Section 203 of Public Health Service Act before Obamacare amendment

 

The U.S. Public Health Service website describes its commissioned corps as “an elite team of more than 6,000 full-time, well-trained, highly qualified public health professionals dedicated to delivering the nation’s public health promotion and disease prevention programs and advancing public health science.”

According to its mission page, officers of the commissioned corps may:

  • Provide essential public health and health care services to underserved and disadvantaged populations
  • Prevent and control injury and the spread of disease
  • Ensure that the nation’s food supply, drinking water, drugs, medical devices and environment are safe
  • Conduct and support cutting-edge research for the prevention, treatment and elimination of disease, health disparities and injury
  • Work with other nations and international agencies to address global health challenges
  • Provide urgently needed public health and clinical expertise in response to large-scale local, regional and national public health emergencies and disasters

Members are trained to respond to public health situations and national emergency events, such as natural disasters, disease outbreaks and terrorist attacks.

As stated in the health-care legislation, “The purpose of the Ready Reserve Corps is to fulfill the need to have additional Commissioned Corps personnel available on short notice (similar to the uniformed service’s reserve program) to assist regular Commissioned Corps personnel to meet both routine public health and emergency response missions.”

   

 

The Democrats’ legislation recently added the following text to Section 203 of the Public Health Service Act:

‘(b) Assimilating Reserve Corp Officers Into the Regular Corps- Effective on the date of enactment of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, all individuals classified as officers in the Reserve Corps under this section (as such section existed on the day before the date of enactment of such Act) and serving on active duty shall be deemed to be commissioned officers of the Regular Corps.'(c) Purpose and Use of Ready Research-

‘(2) USES- The Ready Reserve Corps shall–

‘(A) participate in routine training to meet the general and specific needs of the Commissioned Corps;'(B) be available and ready for involuntary calls to active duty during national emergencies and public health crises, similar to the uniformed service reserve personnel;

‘(C) be available for backfilling critical positions left vacant during deployment of active duty Commissioned Corps members, as well as for deployment to respond to public health emergencies, both foreign and domestic; and

‘(D) be available for service assignment in isolated, hardship, and medically underserved communities (as defined in section 799B) to improve access to health services.

‘(d) Funding- For the purpose of carrying out the duties and responsibilities of the Commissioned Corps under this section, there are authorized to be appropriated $5,000,000 for each of fiscal years 2010 through 2014 for recruitment and training and $12,500,000 for each of fiscal years 2010 through 2014 for the Ready Reserve Corps.’

Commissioned officers of the ready reserve corps are appointed by the president, and commissioned officers of the regular corps are appointed by the president with the advice and consent of the Senate.

Robert Book, a senior research fellow in health economics at the Heritage Foundation, said the service has been around some time but is not well known.

In the past, its responsibilities have included work related to the National Institutes of Health, the Indian health service and providing physicians for Coast Guard operations, he said.

As first reported by WND during his campaign, Obama called for a “civilian national security force” July 2, 2008, in Colorado Springs, Colo.

“We cannot continue to rely on our military in order to achieve the national security objectives that we’ve set,” he said. “We’ve got to have a civilian national security force that’s just as powerful, just as strong, just as well-funded.”

WND also reported in January when a Rand Corporation report proposed the federal government create a rapid deployment “Stabilization Police Force” that would be tasked with “shaping an environment before a conflict” and restoring order in times of war, natural disaster or national emergency.

The blogosphere is buzzing with speculation about the amendment. Some comments include:

  • This cannot be publicized enough!
  • Remember before the election when Obama said we need to have a civil defense corps as well funded and as well armed as the armed services?
  • Is it Hitler and the Brown Shirts all over again? It is time for all who love our freedom to stand up and be counted.
  • Perhaps ACORN with a different name?
  • What about FEMA. Does this mean FEMA is to be disbanded?
  • Healthstapo!
  • I guess this is how they’ll keep all the doctors from quitting the profession and becoming window washers.
  • Amazing isn’t it, they can’t afford to secure our borders, but we can afford this nonsense – dangerous nonsense.
  • Let’s all sign up. It will be much easier to take the country back if we do it from within.

 

Obamacare: It’s not over yet

March 25, 2010 | By Amanda J. Reinecker

Obamacare: It’s not over yet

On Tuesday, just 36 hours after the House of Representatives voted, President Obama signed into law the massive health care reform bill. Despite its tremendous policy flaws, its lack of bipartisan backing, its widespread public disapproval and its egregious constitutional inadequacies, Obamacare is now the law of the land.

» The Heritage Foundation is fighting to repeal Obamacare. Watch Ed Feulner’s video message.

But we haven’t even seen the worst of it. The new bill is about to undergo so-called “fixes” via a reconciliation bill. “You may have thought it was impossible to make the policy and process of Obamacare even worse,” writes Heritage’s Conn Carroll. “But that is exactly what this reconciliation bill does.”

According to a new analysis from Americans for Tax Reform, over the course of a decade, the reconciliation bill will add an estimated $52.3 billion in new taxes. These taxes will be levied against employers, the sick, low-income and moderate-income workers, and just about everyone else, regardless of income.


 

These so-called “fixes” are misnomers that actually fracture our economy further instead of repairing it. But even true fixes aren’t enough to correct Obamacare. As Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) pointed out: “This bill is unconstitutional and it cannot be fixed. It must be repealed.” The Heritage Foundation could not agree more.

On top of the harm to our economy and harm to our health care that Obamacare will inflict, this liberal success will only fuel the left’s agenda to push forward with cap-and-trade, amnesty for illegal immigrants, and other costly and harmful big-government proposals. These proposals would draw us further away from American principles like self-government and closer to a European welfare state.

“But don’t take our word for it,” writes Heritage’s Rory Cooper. “Here is audio of Congressman John Dingell (D-MI), a champion of [Obamacare] telling radio host Paul Smith on WJR in Detroit: ‘It takes a long time to do the necessary administrative steps that have to be taken to put the legislation together to control the people.'”

Our Founding Fathers established a limited government in order to protect our liberties—not to control the American people. When Patrick Henry famously exclaimed 235 years ago, “Give me liberty, or give me death,” he was making a statement that has come to define our national character.

Patrick Henry’s sentiments remain very much alive today among the American people. Though under assault from the left, “the American love for liberty [that] prevailed in our founding will prevail once again,” writes Heritage President Ed Feulner in his response to Sunday night’s vote.

It is true that the passage of Obamacare opens the doors for the left’s radically progressive agenda. But it can also serve to remind Americans of the courage of our Founders as they fought government tyranny. This is especially important, Heritage scholar Matthew Spalding writes, as we “strive to revive our commitment to liberty and self-government.”

It’s not over yet! And thanks to your support, Heritage is able to continue to fight against Obamacare.

> Other Heritage Work of Note

  • While on the road promoting his new book, “Courage and Consequence”, former White House deputy chief of staff Karl Rove took time to sit down with The Heritage Foundation’s Rob Bluey to talk about his work in the Bush administration, the current political climate, and the future of conservatism. In the interview, concluded last week before Obamacare passed, Rove shares his shock over the perversion of procedural tactics that Congress has used to push through the healthcare legislation.

    Rove went on discuss Bush’s Medicare drug benefit, the Tea Party movement, and Bush’s No Child Left Behind Act, about which he said, “It is conservative legislation. It says states are in charge. If you get federal money, a state has to have standards.” Rove also offered advice to conservatives about how we target our message: “We have to remember our target: It’s not our fellow conservatives. Our object here is to say things and make the case to people whose ears and eyes are open, but who don’t necessarily view themselves as conservatives.”

  • In spite of all of the evidence that the recently passed healthcare bill will decrease investment and eventually lead to rationing of care, the federal government seems to have overlooked a more imminent problem, says Heritage’s Jim Talent: we do not have the money to pay for this new entitlement program. Even if liberals were to re-institute the largest tax increase in U.S. history, which took place in 1993, “it would produce $71 billion annually in additional revenue — enough to fund the government’s current borrowing for just ten days.”
  • In a classic example of politicians determined not to learn from past mistakes, several members of Congress and President Obama have endorsed the creation of a federal infrastructure bank to invest in highways and transit. However, the title “bank” is a bit of a misnomer, says Heritage fellow Ronald Utt. The institution would simply provide grants and subsidies without generating any revenue through interest, very much like the failed financial institution Freddie Mac. Instead of creating a behemoth like this, Utt proposes, “Congress should instead develop legislation to create a real infrastructure bank whose assets match liabilities.”
  • Just when we thought President Obama couldn’t possibly make one more bad decision, he decided to finish the week off by nominating a radically liberal judge for the federal Ninth Circuit court, explains Heritage’s Deborah O’Malley. Goodwin Liu, a dean at Berkeley’s Boalt Hall Law School, is unabashedly outspoken about his opposition of the death penalty, his support for wealth distribution, and his view of the Constitution as largely irrelevant. But this might not be the last stop for Liu, says O’Malley. “Many pundits are speculating that the Ninth Circuit may be Liu’s stepping stone to the Supreme Court.”
  • Despite very real threats from Iran and other enemies, President Obama has refused to fully modernize our nuclear capabilities and build our defenses. Instead, the administration pursues an idealistic “road to zero” strategy, calling for nations, including our own, to surrender their nuclear ambitions and scrap missile defenses. But in a recent article for the Washington Examiner, Heritage national security expert James Carafano argues that “the continuing erosion of a credible deterrent force will only invite aggression.” We have both the capability to deter threats of attacks and the ability to stop an attack. Yet we’ve chosen neither option, and the consequences can prove fatal.

Max Baucus on Obamacare’s hidden agenda – redistribution of wealth

Thursday, March 25, 2010
Posted by: Hugh Hewitt at 5:08 PM

Max Baucus is the Chair of the Senate Finance Committee, and the Democrat most responsible fo Obamacare’s final shape other than Nancy Pelosi.

In an unusual speech on the Senate floor moments ago, Max Baucus declares that the “healthcare bill” to be  “an income shift, it is a shift, a leveling to help lower income middle income Americans.”  Baucus continued, “[t]oo often, much of late, the last couple three years the mal-distribution of income in America is gone up way too much, the wealthy are getting way, way too wealthy, and the middle income class is left behind.  Wages have not kept up with increased income of the highest income in America.  This legislation will have the effect of addressing that mal-distribution of income in America.”

Max Baucus on Obamacare’s hidden agenda – redistribution of wealth
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rY4Qbv7gPbo&feature=player_embedded

Baucus’ candor is appreciated, though the fact that he waited until the bill passed to announce the real agenda behind the massive tax hikes isn’t a profile in courage.  And the seniors on fixed income who are about to lose Medicare Advantage would laugh at Baucus’ pseudo-populism.

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Obamacare Isn’t Inevitable ‘Nil desperandum” — never despair. That is a sentiment that conservatives need to take to heart now that Congress has narrowly passed a bill that simultaneously undermines life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Obamacare Isn’t Inevitable

 ‘Nil desperandum” — never despair. That is a sentiment that conservatives need to take to heart now that Congress has narrowly passed a bill that simultaneously undermines life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

It takes some ingenuity to add to the costs, inefficiency, and dysfunctions that government has already bequeathed to our health-care system, but the Democrats have proven themselves up to the challenge. Almost nothing about this legislation is free of dispute, but we are convinced that it will increase taxes, increase premiums, and increase debt, while decreasing economic growth, job growth, and the quality of health care.

The Democrats had no mandate to take these steps. In 2008, the president campaigned both against forcing people to buy insurance and against taxing their benefits. The legislation runs counter to the campaign on both points. The president promised to change Washington. He has made its stench more noisome, winning this vote by using every kind of deceit and (legal) corruption, and over the objection of a bipartisan coalition representing most Americans.

We are now being told that the campaign to repeal this legislation is over before it has even begun, that Americans will come to appreciate the benefits that a bountiful government is giving them, and that the growth of the welfare state can never be reversed. We understand the odds against repeal. We understand, indeed, that complete repeal of every provision of the bill is impossible. The doughnut hole — a gap in Medicare’s prescription-drug coverage designed to encourage seniors to economize — has been filled, and it is not going to be re-opened.

But the larger thesis seems as superficially plausible, and as ultimately convincing, as were earlier predictions that state socialism or secularization were our inevitable future. It is quite possible that the majority of America that rejects this legislation will get its way in the next few years — if it is given the right leadership. And it is worth the effort to try.

It is possible, for example, that the results of the legislation will turn out to be unpleasant more quickly than most observers realize. The bill requires insurers to charge people with pre-existing conditions the same as everyone else, and the only reason for people not to game the system — dropping their insurance until they get sick and the insurer has to take them — is because the law requires them to buy insurance or pay a fine. For many people, the fine will be a cheap price to avoid paying high premiums. The effect of the legislation could be to cause the number of healthy people with insurance to fall dramatically — and for premiums to rise, which would cause more people to drop their insurance. If this happens, we can expect liberals to agitate for a single-payer system; but we can also expect the public to blame the Democrats whose health-care system it will now be. A less lopsidedly Democratic Congress is not going to respond to this chaos by enacting single payer or strengthening the fines.

For that matter, the lengthy legislation could turn out to have little time bombs, the nature of which cannot currently be guessed. Nothing about the process that produced the legislation, after all, suggests that it was put together with careful consideration. Conservatives will be able to capitalize on the discrediting of Obamacare, however it takes place, only if they campaign this fall on a pledge to replace this government-heavy system with true reform. Republicans running against Democrats who voted for this legislation will have the easiest task. But even Republicans running against Democrats who voted against it can advance the cause by challenging those Democrats either to advocate repeal and replacement themselves or to expose themselves as false opponents of Obamacare.

Nor have pro-lifers lost the war. Pro-lifers should campaign this fall on a pledge to make the Hyde amendment — the partial ban on government funding of abortion, which now applies to portions of federal spending and has to be renewed each year — a permanent feature of law that applies to all federal spending. The Obama administration and most of liberaldom have pretended over the last year to favor both the principle in general and the Hyde amendment in particular. And the principle is popular. Their posturing, disingenuous though it was, has handed pro-lifers a winning issue.

The Democrats have abused the system, ignoring both the Founders’ design and public opinion. The first step toward undoing that abuse is to make them pay a political price for it.

Beloved Leader Obama to Address School Kids on September 8 —- Keep the kids home on Sept. 8th

Beloved Leader Obama to Address School Kids on September 8 —- Keep the kids home on Sept. 8th

quotes from the sodahead blog and Drudge report

Pass this on to everyone

Beloved Leader Obama to Address School Kids on September 8

Keep the kids home on Sept. 8th
  
Go to this site and download the prep work for teachers you will be apalled

Source: http://www.ed.gov/admins/lead/academic/bts.html

Apparently, Our Beloved Leader, Barack Hussein Obama, the most merciful, Lion of the Masses, Protector of the Common Man and Omnipotent Parental Figure, will give an address on September 8 to America’s school children. The audience will be all children, K-12.

The U.S. Department of Education, apparently with the expanded role of overtly propagandizing America’s youngsters, has thoughtfully prepared “learning materials” for teachers to use in preparation for this historic and truly unprecedented event. They have been very thorough, preparing “Classroom Materials” in two separate packages, one directed at children “preK-6, the other of students in grades 7-12. Note: “preK-6″ implies that the Dear Beloved Leader anticipates his message being broadcast to pre-kindergarten children.

This is nothing short of a fascist attempt to begin the process of propagandizing the country’s kids. Obama and his crew are dangerous. They are bringing this country to a very dangerous intersection

Turkey’s Dangerous Shift

Turkey’s Dangerous Shift

By Ariel Cohen
Washington Times | 4/10/2009

After attending three summits – of the Group of 20 richest countries, NATO and the European Union – President Obama ended his European trip in Turkey. His messages there highlight the importance Washington attaches to this regional player bridging Europe and Asia, a veteran NATO ally, and an influential Muslim country.

In his speeches, Mr. Obama emphasized that Turkey is a Muslim nation that respects democracy, the rule of law and is founded on a set of modern principles. In view of the Islamist Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) stranglehold on power, this may be an overstretch.

Mr. Obama also voiced support for Turkey’s membership in the EU. This did not endear him to many Europeans, especially French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who rebuked the idea. Absent from these speeches was any mention of recent trends that have raised legitimate questions over Turkish leadership’s commitment to secular democracy, as well as its trajectory toward the West in general and NATO in particular.

Until the AKP rose to power in 2002, a secular Turkey founded by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk from the ashes of the Ottoman Empire after World War I was considered a reliable U.S. partner that aspired for EU membership. Today, however, the AKP appears to be moving Turkey away from its pro-Western and pro-American orientation to a more Middle Eastern and Islamist one.

Turkish secular elites are worried about their country’s direction. They argue that the AKP promotes a creeping Islamic agenda – one close to Muslim Brotherhood’s fundamentalism.

While the AKP has enjoyed popular support since it came to power, for the first time since 2002 it lost support in the local elections. The global economic crisis is in part responsible, but voters are disappointed that AKP has strayed from its promises of a more liberal Turkey in the EU. Prominent supporters of democracy are concerned that the right of dissent, tolerance and government accountability are being eroded.

In foreign policy, there are important signs that Turkey is drifting away from the West. In 2006, Turkey became the first NATO member to host the leader of Hamas, Khaled Mashaal. Turkey also enthusiastically hosted Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, whose government has been accused of genocide. Turkey’s geography justifies its relations with Iran, but not with Hamas or Sudan; only Islamist solidarity and anti-Western sentiment can explain these ties.

Although Turkey has been trying to facilitate an Arab-Israeli rapprochement by sponsoring Syrian-Israeli proximity talks and several other initiatives, it is losing its impartiality and, therefore, credibility.

This was evident when Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan spoke about Israel’s operation in Gaza and attacked the dovish Israeli President Shimon Peres before he stormed out of a panel at the recent Davos World Economic Forum – only to get a hero’s welcome back home. AKP and other Islamists also sponsored a flood of anti-Israel demonstrations, billboards and anti-Semitic rhetoric.

Turkey could potentially play a role in U.S.-Iranian negotiations. However, Mr. Erdogan’s judgment has been called into question after he said last year that “those who ask Iran not to produce nuclear weapons should themselves give up their nuclear weapons first.”

Developments in Turkey’s Black Sea and Caucasus policies have also been worrisome. During the August 2008 Russia-Georgia war, Turkey proposed the “Caucasus Stability and Cooperation Platform,” a condominium of Russia and Turkey, together with the three South Caucasus countries, but initially omitted the United States and EU as well as Iran.

Turkey also temporarily blocked the transit of U.S. warships delivering humanitarian aid to Georgia. And it prioritized rapprochement with Russian ally Armenia over the ties with the secular, pro-Western Azerbaijan. These developments underscore Turkey’s cozying up to Russia, as Moscow provides nearly two-thirds of its gas supplies.

Turkey is critical to Europe’s efforts to reduce its dependence on Russian energy, including the proposed Nabucco gas pipeline that would bring Caspian Basin gas to Europe, bypassing Russia. However, Turkey is currently stalling a critical intergovernmental agreement on the Nabucco pipeline. Thus, Turkey is throwing away a decade of progress on the East-West energy corridor.

According to Mr. Erdogan, Turkey is open to providing assistance for the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq through Turkey. This statement was borderline offensive in view of Turkey’s refusal to allow U.S. troops to cross its territory into Iraq in 2003. Yet the planned withdrawal of troops from Iraq raises the importance of the Incirlik U.S. Air Force Base through which 70 percent of supplies to Iraq move. Beyond this, Turkey has long-standing ties to Afghanistan and Pakistan and continues to play a positive role in both countries.

Mr. Obama attended a meeting between Turkish and Armenian foreign ministers, signaling U.S. support to the rapprochement between the two old foes. Mr. Obama avoided alienating a key ally by not by using the “G” word (genocide) when talking about Turkish-Armenian relations. He may face a domestic political blowback for this. Yet a strong U.S. endorsement for the enhanced Turkish-Azerbaijani cooperation is also necessary, and hopefully forthcoming.

Despite Turkey’s movement away from the West, the country continues to play a key role in NATO and the region. Washington should devote more attention to U.S.-Turkish relations. Strong bilateral security relations are particularly important for cooperation on the Iraq withdrawal, Afghanistan, dealing with Iran, and addressing a resurgent Russia. The administration should stress that it is in Turkey’s long-term interests to remain politically oriented toward the West.


Ariel Cohen, Ph.D., is Senior Research Fellow in Russian and Eurasian Studies and International Energy Security at the Sarah and Douglas Allison Center of the Davis Institute for International Studies at the Heritage Foundation

Vatican official on Saturday attacked US President Barack Obama for “arrogance”

A senior Vatican official on Saturday attacked US President Barack Obama for “arrogance” for overturning a ban on state funding for family-planning groups that carry out or facilitate abortions overseas.It is “the arrogance of someone who believes they are right, in signing a decree which will open the door to abortion and thus to the destruction of human life,” Archbishop Rino Fisichella was quoted as saying by the Corriere della Sera daily.

Fisichella is president of the Pontifical Academy for Life, one of a number of so-called pontifical academies which are formed by or under the direction of the Holy See.

“What is important is to know how to listen… without locking oneself into ideological visions with the arrogance of a person who, having the power, thinks they can decide on life and death,” he added.

Obama signed the executive order cancelling the eight-year-old restrictions on Friday, the third full day of his presidency.

The so-called “global gag rule” cut off US funding to overseas family planning clinics which provide any abortion services whatsoever, from the operation itself to counselling, referrals or post-abortion services.

“If this is one of the first acts of President Obama, with all due respect, it seems to me that the path towards disappointment will have been very short,” Fisichella said.

“I do not believe that those who voted for him took into consideration ethical themes, which were astutely left aside during the election debate. The majority of the American population does not take the same position as the president and his team,” he added.

The order won Obama praise from Democratic lawmakers, family planning and women’s rights groups but drew angry condemnation from pro-life organisations and Republicans.

More than 250 health and human rights organisations from around the world sent Obama a letter, thanking him for ending a policy “which has contributed to the deaths and injuries of countless women and girls.”

Election ’08 Backgrounder

  

Financial Crisis | Iraq | Defense | Background & Character | Judges & Courts | Energy

 

FINANCIAL CRISIS

Quick Facts:

  • Democrats created the mortgage crisis by forcing banks to give loans to people who couldn’t afford them.
  • In 2006, McCain sponsored a bill to fix the problems with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.  Barney Frank and other Democrats successfully opposed it.
  • Obama was one of the highest recipients of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac donations in Congress.

Related Editorials

 

IRAQ


Quick Facts:

  • When the U.S. was on the verge of losing in Iraq, McCain chose to stand and fight.  Obama chose retreat.
  • Even after the surge succeeded, Obama told ABC’s Terry Moran he would still oppose it if he had the chance to do it all over again.

Related Editorials

 

DEFENSE

Quick Facts:

  • Obama has promised to significantly cut defense spending, including saying “I will slow our development of future combat systems.”
  • John McCain has vowed: “We must continue to deploy a safe and reliable nuclear deterrent, robust missile defenses and superior conventional forces that are capable of defending the United States and our allies.”

Related Editorials

Obama Video: Watch Now

 

 

BACKGROUND & CHARACTER

Quick Facts:

  • Obama voted “present” 135 times as a state senator, and according to David Ignatius of the Washington Post, “gained a reputation for skipping tough votes.”
  • McCain has taken stances unpopular with his own party and/or the public on controversial issues, including immigration, campaign finance reform, judicial nominations, the Iraq War and more.

Related Editorials

 

 

JUDGES & COURTS


Quick Facts:

  • In a 2001 interview, Obama said he regretted that the Supreme Court “didn’t break free from the essential constraints that were placed by the Founding Fathers in the Constitution.”
  • In the same interview, Obama criticized the Supreme Court because it “never ventured into the issues of redistribution of wealth and sort of more basic issues of political and economic justice in this society.”
  • Obama has focused on empathy, rather than legal reasoning and restraint, as his basis for appointing judges, saying, “We need somebody who’s got the heart, the empathy…to understand what it’s like to be poor, or African-American, or gay, or disabled, or old.”
  • McCain opposes judicial activism, saying, “my nominees will understand that there are clear limits to the scope of judicial power.”

Related Editorials

Obama 2001 Interview: Listen Now

 

ENERGY


Quick Facts:

  • McCain has proposed building 45 new nuclear plants by 2030 and is in favor of drilling in sectors of the Outer Continental Shelf.
  • Obama has refused to take a stand, saying only “we should explore nuclear power as part of the energy mix” and he will “look at” drilling offshore.

Related Editorials

»
McCain: The Energy Candidate

» McCain On Nukes: Yes We Can
» Breaking The Back Of High Oil

 

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