Thursday, September 22, 2011

The Questions Never Asked About Palestine

British Mandate of Palestine, 1920s. Created b...Image via WikipediaThere has NEVER been a Palestine! The words "Palestine" and "Palestinian" derive from the word, and the people, "Philistines" co-opted by the conquering Romans to name the province after they destroyed the kingdom of Israel. The very concept of a Palestinian and a Palestine are simply tactics and strategy to exterminate all the Jews. Following is a great history lesson that proves this point...T

As the Palestinian-Arabs and their friends make their latest push for "Palestinian" statehood at the United Nations this week, once again the wrong questions are being asked, while the pertinent questions every reporter, activist, and foreign minister should be asking never arise.

Why do "Palestinians" need a state of their own? Who are these "stateless" people? What is their history? Where have they been for all of these years?

In the spirit of "you don't know what you don't know," here are some Hansel-and-Gretel-like bread crumbs to guide journalists and others to the questions they might ask:

Where does the name "Palestine" come from and who have been the people who've lived there? Of course, it was coined by the conquering Romans to add insult to injury to a Jewish nation they sought to obliterate. The Romans conquered the land, but there was always a remnant of Jewish people living there.

While throughout the ages the land was under control of various powers, none called themselves "Palestinian," and there was never a nation with that name. It was that Jewish remnant and those Jews who joined them over time who became the "Palestinians."

In modern times, the Ottoman Turks controlled this territory and, following World War I, the British (under the auspices of the League of Nations). In this period, there were many "Palestinian" institutions, though all of them were Jewish in character and membership. The most famous of these was, perhaps, the Palestine Post, which lives on today as the Jerusalem Post. There were Palestine orchestras and chess teams and the like. But the names of the players were Jewish, not Arab.

As Jewish nationalism in the region gained strength, the Arabs and Muslims committed massacre after massacre of Jews throughout Palestine.

Meanwhile, in 1922, the British took 78% of territory that was promised for a Jewish homeland by the World War I victors and the League of Nations and gave it to the Arabs. The outcome was the heretofore nonexistent Arab nation of Transjordan. Transjordan later became simply Jordan.

This should be the end of the story, as the land of Palestine was divided (though quite unfairly) and an Arab state was created out of the Jewish homeland. "Two states for two peoples."

Being handed 78% of a territory would satisfy most people -- if their true interest were a state of their own. Instead, over the past seven decades, what the world refuses to see is the desire by the Arabs to obliterate Jewish nationalism, and later the Jewish nation that was its culmination.

Violence and terrorism by the Arabs against Jews continued, and as the Arabs stepped up their pressure on the British and the League of Nations, in an attempt to appease the Arabs, the remaining 22% of the land left for the Jews was divided further. The Arabs again got the bigger portion. The Jews accepted the offer and, when the mandate expired, declared independence as the nation of Israel.

The Arabs declared war.

Though they were unable to defeat the Israelis, the Arabs did gain more territory. The Jordanians expanded into what they renamed "the West Bank" so as to erase the Jewish connection to Judea and Samaria (as those areas were called for millennia), while Egypt grabbed the Gaza Strip.

The Arabs who lived in those areas never cried out for independence or claimed to be oppressed, nor threatened to go to the United Nations. Why? Because they were part of, rather than distinct from, the Arab Nation.

Instead, there were incessant terror attacks. In 1964, the Arabs formed the "Palestine Liberation Organization" -- three years before Israel would gain control over the Gaza Strip and Judea and Samaria (aka "the West Bank"). So: what were the Arabs bent on liberating, and whom were they liberating it from? Did they demand a state from Egypt and Jordan? This is the same PLO that today controls the Palestinian Authority -- and has never renounced its appetite for all of what was once dubbed "Palestine."

It was only after Israel's miraculous victory in 1967 that "the West Bank" and "Gaza Strip" suddenly had relevance to their Arab inhabitants, and it was then that the Arab propaganda machine revved up. It eventually inverted much of the world's perception of the Middle East: transforming tiny Israel from its natural role of "David" against the massive Arab population and lands, to one of "Goliath" against the "stateless," "oppressed," and "occupied" "Palestinians." It made the notion of changing straw into gold seem like child's play. And it worked.

That the Palestinian-Arabs have spilled much innocent blood to get their "cause" out there -- murdered Olympics athletes, airline passengers, bus riders, diners -- seems to have faded from memory. But it was these headline-grabbing crimes that got them to the head of the line.

The lesson: crime pays. Terror works.

So, journalists, activists, and foreign ministers of the world: you still have time to ask yourselves and others these questions; still have time to prevent a great wrong from being done; still have time to save untold lives; still have time to avoid a terrible precedent; still have time to prevent the creation of another terrorist state. Will you?
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Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Authors of Social Security Believed It Was Unconstitutional

Associate Justice Owen J. Roberts. The balance...
Image via Wikipedia
It was, is, and always will be unconstitutional. As the old saying originated: "The switch in time that saved nine" that destroyed most of our constitution. That may all be about to change with this court. We can hope...T

Mitt Romney may believe Social Security is constitutional, but he would have a hard time convincing some of the people who pushed the Social Security Act into law.

As I wrote in my book, "Control Freaks," some of the main players involved in creating Social Security believed it was unconstitutional -- and for good reason.

Yet, for them, not unlike many in today's Washington, the ultimate questions were not: Is this good for the long-term future of the country, and does Congress have authority to do it? They were: Will this serve our immediate political interests, and can we get away with it?

At Monday's Republican presidential debate, Romney attacked Texas Gov. Rick Perry for, as Romney put it, holding the view that "Social Security is unconstitutional."

It is important to note that neither Perry nor any other contemporary Republican leader is calling for the abolition of a program that has been in place for more than seven decades.

But was it founded on a sound constitutional basis? Is there anything to be learned from how it was forced through?

Thomas H. Eliot, a future Harvard Law professor, served as counsel for the Committee on Economic Security, the body that President Franklin Roosevelt created to draft the Social Security Act.

In 1961, 26 years after the bill was enacted, Eliot gave a speech at the Social Security Administration in which he said he was relieved he had never been called to testify about the constitutionality of the "old-age insurance" provision in the bill.

"The opponents rallied as soon as the bill was introduced," said Eliot. "Those opponents were spearheaded by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Manufacturers. Counsel for the latter, John Gall, made effective and strong arguments against that phase of the bill (old-age insurance). He questioned the constitutionality of the bill.

"These arguments I found rather difficult to refute," said Eliot, "and I'm glad I wasn't really called upon to do so as a witness before the committees of Congress because I had very grave doubts at that time about the likelihood of the Court's upholding the old-age insurance section of the bill."

Edwin E. Witte was executive director of Roosevelt's Committee on Economic Security. In 1955, he gave a speech to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the Social Security. "And at all stages there hung over the Social Security bill uncertainty as to its constitutionality," Witte said. "These doubts were increased during the pendency of this bill in Congress by the decision of the Supreme Court holding the Railroad Retirement Act to be unconstitutional."

"A majority of the members of the Senate Committee on Finance believed old-age insurance to be unconstitutional," said Witte, "and it is my belief that several voted for it in the expectation that it would be invalidated by the Supreme Court."

Why did the Railroad Retirement Act decision make people believe the Supreme Court would toss Social Security? Because it was a small-scale version of Social Security. It ordered all railroad workers into a compulsory government pension program funded by a payroll tax apportioned between them and their employers.

The Roosevelt administration argued that the Commerce Clause -- which gives Congress the power to "regulate commerce ... among the several states" -- gave the federal government the power to force railroad companies and workers to fund and participate in a federal retirement program.

The court slapped this down 6-3. Justice Owen J. Roberts -- the Anthony Kennedy of that era -- wrote the opinion. He was joined by Chief Justice Charles Evans Hughes, the other swing vote of that time.

Roberts clearly envisioned how the Railroad Retirement Act could open the door to a massive federal welfare state.

"If that question be answered in the affirmative, obviously there is no limit to the field of so-called regulation," wrote Roberts. "The catalogue of means and actions which might be imposed upon an employer in any business, tending to the satisfaction and comfort of his employees, seems endless. Provision for free medical attendance and nursing, for clothing, for food, for housing, for the education of children, and a hundred other matters, might with equal propriety be proposed as tending to relieve the employee of mental strain and worry."

Two years later, in 1937, the Social Security Act came before the same court. The Democrats and FDR had just won a massive election victory in November 1936. In his 1961 speech at the Social Security Administration, Thomas Eliot was asked: "Just what do you think caused the Supreme Court to reverse itself in its decision to declare the Act constitutional?"

"What happened in 1937 was that in February the president came out with a scheme to 'pack' the Court," said Eliot. "No one knows, and there is some dispute about it, but I think that probably it's fair to say that the Court was not unmindful of this attack."

"There were nine justices on the Supreme Court; one or two of them had to change their positions pretty fundamentally to thwart the threat of that number of nine being added to by six new justices appointed by the president," said Eliot. "The old saying about that particular change of front is that, 'A switch in time saved nine.'"

And significantly expanded the control the federal government has over the lives of individual Americans.
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Monday, September 12, 2011

Obama's Pathetic, Pedestrian Speech

President Barack Obama announces the Economic ...Image via WikipediaBarone is seldom partisan, and seldom wrong. He is neither here..T

What is there to say about Barack Obama's speech to Congress Thursday night and the so-called American Jobs Act he said Congress must pass? Several thoughts occur, all starting with P.

Projection. That's psychologist-speak term for projecting your own faults on others. "This isn't political grandstanding," Obama told members of Congress, as Republicans snickered (but thankfully resisted the temptation to shout, "You lie!"). "This isn't class warfare."

These sentences came four paragraphs after Obama insisted that "the most affluent citizens and corporations" should pay more taxes (which spurs job creation how?) and not long before he promised to "take that message to every corner of the country."

Lest there be an doubt about Obama's real intentions, consider that his speech was obviously modeled on Harry Truman's call for a special session of the Republican Congress in the summer of 1948 so he could campaign against it. And consider that Obama pointedly refused to rebuke Jim Hoffa's "let's take these sons of bitches out" -- meaning Republicans -- when he introduced him last Monday in Detroit.

Pragmatism. Perceptive writers like David Brooks of The New York Times told us in 2008 that Obama was basically a pragmatist, a slave to no ideology but simply a student of what works. Brooks was apparently impressed by Obama's mention of Edmund Burke and the sharp crease in his pants.

But a pragmatist would probably not choose to call for more of the policies that plainly haven't worked. Infrastructure spending (shovel ready, anyone?), subsidies of teachers' salaries, fixing roofs and windows on schools -- these were all in the 2009 stimulus package, which has led to the stagnant economy we have today.

A pragmatist doesn't keep pressing the same garage door button when the garage door doesn't open. He gets out of the car and tries to identify what's wrong.

Paid for. "Everything in this bill," Obama said in his eighth paragraph, "will be paid for. Everything."

By whom? Well, in the 24th paragraph he tells us that he is asking the 12-member super-committee Congress set up under the debt ceiling bill to add another $450,000,000,000 or so to the $1,500,000,000,000 in savings it is charged to come up with. The roving camera showed the ordinarily hardy super-committee member Sen. Jon Kyl looking queasy.

Obama is like the guy in the bar who says, "I'll stand drinks for everyone in the house," and then adds, "Those guys over there are going to pay for them."

What's fascinating here is that once again the supposedly pragmatic and sometimes professorial president is not making use of the first class professionals in the Office of Management and Budget to come up with specifics, but is leaving that to members of Congress, maybe in a midnight marathon session with deadlines pending. Same as on the stimulus package and Obamacare.

Pathetic promises. Perhaps he hoped people wouldn't notice, but Obama did put in two words -- "faster trains" -- as a plug for his pet project of high-speed rail. Liberal blogger Kevin Drum calls California's HSR project, the largest in the nation, "a fantastic boondoggle," likely to cost three or four times estimates and with ridership estimates that are "fantasies." "We have way better uses for this dough," Drum concludes.

Political payoffs. Nearly one-quarter of this latest stimulus package -- sorry, American Jobs Act -- is aid to state and local government, to keep teachers and other public employee union members on the job and paying dues to the unions. Altogether unions gave Democrats some $400 million in the 2008 election cycle. Pretty good return on their "investment," eh?

Pettifoggery. Obama impressed many conservative writers in 2008 with his ability to state their positions in fair terms -- which led some to think that surely he must agree with them. But he seems to have lost this knack.

Conservatives, according to this speech, want to "wipe out the basic protections that Americans have counted on for decades" and "simply cut most government spending and eliminate most government regulations."

"Most" means more than 50 percent. Does the White House have documentation for the claim that Republicans want to cut government spending by more than 50 percent? And what "basic protections" do they want to "wipe out"?

Barack Obama seemed like an unhappy warrior Thursday night, still unreconciled to the results of the 2010 elections, "seeming desperate and condescending at the same time," in the words of maverick liberal blogger Mickey Kaus. That darn garage door just won't open!
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Saturday, September 10, 2011

The unhappy warrior- Obama's Campaign 2012

President Barack Obama and Warren Buffett in t...Image via WikipediaThe radical progressive socialist is, as we now see, also a cynic of the highest order...T

Barack Obama looked and sounded angry in his speech to the joint session of Congress. He bitterly assailed one straw man after another and made reference to a grab bag of proposals which would cost something on the order of $450 billion—assuring us on the one hand that they all had been supported by Republicans as well as Democrats in the past and suggesting that somehow they are going to turn the economy around. He called for further cuts in the payroll tax (which if continued indefinitely would undermine the case of Social Security as something people have earned rather than a form of welfare) and for a further extension of unemployment insurance (perhaps justifiable on humanitarian grounds, but sure to at least marginally raise the unemployment rate over what it would otherwise be). He called for a tax credit for hiring the long-term unemployed (unfortunately, these things can be gamed). He gave a veiled plug for his pet project of high-speed rail (a real dud) and for infrastructure spending generally (but didn’t he learn that there aren’t really any shovel-ready projects?). He called for a school modernization program (will it result in more jobs than the Seattle weatherization program that cost $22 million and produced 14 jobs?) and for funding more teacher jobs (a political payoff to the teacher unions which together with other unions gave Democrats $400 million in the 2008 campaign cycle). “We’ll set up an independent fund to attract private dollars and issue loans based on two criteria: how badly a construction project is needed and how much good it would do for the country.” Yeah, sure. Like the screening process that produced that $535,000,000 loan guarantee to now-bankrupt Solyndra. And Congress should pass the free trade agreements with Panama, Colombia and South Korea. Except that Congress can’t, because Obama hasn’t sent them up there yet in his 961 days as president.

Obama assured us that this would all be paid for. But as far as I could gather, he punted that part of it to the supercommittee of 12 members set up under the debt ceiling bill. He now blithely charges it with coming up with more than its current goal of $1.5 trillion in savings by Christmas. Oh, and he’s going to announce “a more ambitious deficit plan” that will “stabilize our debt in the long run”--11 days from now.

In the meantime, he called for higher taxes on “a few of the most affluent citizens”—as if this could pay for all the spending he’s been backing. What’s interesting here is that he seems to have left the way open for a 1986-style tax reform, cutting tax rates and eliminating tax preferences, or at least that’s how I read these words: “While most people in this country struggle to make ends meet, a few of the most affluent citizens and corporations enjoy tax breaks and loopholes that nobody else gets [did he look up at his guest Jeff Immelt, CEO of GE, which paid no corporate tax on $14 billion in profits last year?]. Right now, Warren Buffett pays a lower tax rate than his secretary—an outrage he has asked us to fix [actually, Buffett could volunteer to pay more if he wants to]. We need a tax code where everyone gets a fair shake, and everybody pays their fair share. And I believe the vast majority of wealthy Americans and CEOs are willing to do just that, if it helps the economy grow and gets our fiscal house in order.” As I read it, he’s not insisting on higher tax rates, though he apparently is not ready to agree to a tax reform that is scored as revenue-neutral, as the 1986 act was. Also, if Obama wanted a 1986-type reform, he could have used the Bowles-Simpson fiscal commission’s recommendations last December as a springboard; instead, he brushed them aside without a murmur. So on balance I don’t think he’s serious on this, but there is a glimmer of a possibility that he is.

Straw men took a terrible beating from the president. He assailed “tax loopholes” for oil companies, the chief one of which is that they are treated like other companies classified as manufacturers. The administration proposal is that the five largest oil companies shouldn’t be, because—well, because we want to get our hands on more of their money. Today’s Republicans, he gave us to understand, want to “eliminate most government regulations” and “wipe out the basic protections that Americans have counted on for decades.” And, he suggested, they would never have created public health schools or the G.I. Bill or research universities.

When Barack Obama says, “This isn’t political grandstanding,” you have a pretty good clue that that is exactly what it is. Lest anyone doubt that, consider this from the third-to-last paragraph. “You should pass it. And I intend to take that message to every corner of the country.”

In other words, this was a campaign speech. It might result in passage of some of Obama’s proposals, and some of them might even do some good. But of course we didn’t see the kind of change of direction on policy that Bill Clinton made in 1995 and 1996, which enabled him to rise above his party’s 45% level of support in the 1994 elections (that’s the Democratic percentage of the House popular vote) and with 49% of the vote win reelection in 1996. (Ross Perot won 6% that year; polls suggest two points of it would have gone to Clinton had Perot not run.) I don’t think these proposals have the potential to turn around the careening economy, I don’t think many of them will become law and I don’t think this campaign initiative is likely to prove successful. From the demeanor and affect of the unhappy warrior at the podium last night, I suspect he may feel the same way.

Since I commented on Michele Bachmann’s makeup after the Republican presidential debate last night, let me make a comment on male neckware today. What is it with pastel ties? Barack Obama, Joe Biden and John Boehner were all wearing them tonight, and so was Fox News’s Ed Henry, reporting from the White House.
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Monday, September 05, 2011

Obama Speech Fiasco Shows "Audacity of Weakness"

Blustering, opportunistic, craven and hopelessly ineffective all at once...T

I can't remember a more stunning rebuke of a president by a congressional leader than House Speaker John Boehner's refusal to agree to President Barack Obama's demand -- er, request -- that he summon a joint session of Congress to hear the president's latest speech on the economy at 8 p.m. EDT on Wednesday, Sept. 7.

Obama's request was regarded as a clever move by some wiseguys in the left blogosphere because that was the exact time of a long-scheduled Republican presidential candidate debate at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library. Take that, you guys!

But Boehner smoothly responded that with Congress reconvening late that afternoon, the security sweep necessary for a presidential visit would be impossible and invited the president to speak Thursday. White House officials quickly agreed, scheduling the speech at 7 p.m. EDT to avoid overlap with the first game of the National Football League season.

Not such a big deal, some people are saying. I disagree. I think it illustrates several of the weaknesses of this presidency.

One is a lack of regard for the Constitution. Congress is a separate branch of government, set up by Article 1 of the Constitution, which is not about the executive branch as Joe Biden said in the 2008 vice presidential debate. (Media outfits that dispatched dozens of investigative reporters to Alaska were apparently incapable of discovering this obvious error.)

Before last week, presidents and congressional leaders always agreed privately on scheduling presidential addresses to joint sessions before any public announcement was made. But it appears that no such agreement was made here, just a brusque announcement that had to be retracted.

Another weakness on display was contempt for public opinion. White House press secretary Jay Carney said it was just "coincidental" that the president wanted to speak at the same time as the debate. It was just "one debate of many that's on one channel of many."

But those with memories that go back beyond last week may recall that in May 2009, Obama scrambled to find a venue for a speech at exactly the same time as former Vice President Dick Cheney was scheduled to speak at the American Enterprise Institute on detainee questioning issues. Cheney coolly watched Obama on television and then delivered his own speech.

Ham-handedly trying to bigfoot the opposition is a habit with this president, not a coincidence.

A third Obama weakness is his propensity to charge his political opponents with playing politics when he is doing exactly that himself. In previewing this latest jobs-and-the-economy speech, Carney said that Obama will make the case "that politics is broken and that politics is getting in the way of the very necessary things we need to do."

This from the president who has brushed aside one bipartisan initiative after another, from the health care initiative of Sens. Ron Wyden and Bob Bennett to the recommendations of his own deficit commission, headed by Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson.

Instead, he has taken a purely partisan course on one issue after another -- and heaped blame on Republicans. He invited House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan to his speech at George Washington University and then lambasted him harshly.

Obama has been so consistently blaming Republicans in recent months for not approving the free trade agreements with South Korea, Colombia and Panama that it came as an utter surprise to his deputy press secretary, Josh Earnest, that he hasn't sent them to Congress yet.

The fourth weakness is failure to come up with policies that address situations appropriately. Press briefings suggest that Obama next week will call for an extension of the payroll tax holiday and of unemployment benefits. A case can be made for both, but neither has invigorated the economy yet.

We also hear that he may call for more infrastructure spending. But as the president himself told us, laughing, there aren't actually any shovel-ready projects.

The New York Times reports he may call for "school repairs and retrofitting buildings for energy efficiency." This sounds suspiciously like the weatherization program under which Seattle got $20 million and produced just 14 jobs.

Democrats have criticized Obama on the speech-scheduling flap. James Carville said he was "out of bounds."'s Cenk Uygur sensed "the audacity of weakness." It reminds me of a phrase describing a character in the 1980s TV series "Dallas" -- "blustering, opportunistic, craven and hopelessly ineffective all at once."
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Friday, September 02, 2011

Rush Limbaugh: Obama Has “Shot His Wad” And Should Resign

I wholeheartedly agree. Comrade Osama, sir, resign, and take your entire Politburo with you, sir! Begone, and may there be and end to the fallacy or "progressivism", which is now shown to be liberal fascism...T

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