The Rise and Fall of Hope and Change

The Rise and Fall of Hope and Change

Alexis de Toqueville

The American Republic will endure until the day Congress discovers that it can bribe the public with the public's money.
Alexis de Tocqueville

The United States Capitol Building

The United States Capitol Building

The Constitutional Convention

The Constitutional Convention

The Continental Congress

The Continental Congress

George Washington at Valley Forge

George Washington at Valley Forge

Monday, May 31, 2010

The Smallest President

From The American Thinker:

June 01, 2010


The Smallest President

By Geoffrey P. Hunt

Would someone remind us again why the nation elected this man to be president? A man with no resume, a man with no experience in running anything other than a political campaign, a man who is ignorant of history, economics, and technology? A man who is shallow and lazy? A man who shares neither character nor temperament with the American people in this vast republic? How did this happen?





Voters were smitten by the ideological handmaidens of identity politics and the promise of big government. The identity politics substituted a cosmetic profile for character and experience. The promise was that big government has the benevolent power and enlightened expertise to remake America from the top down into a more capable, more caring, kinder, gentler, and more respected place.





What we've received instead was on display at the president's long-awaited press conference in the last week of May. Only a partisan or a fool could deny the irredeemable failure of these ideological handmaidens, the genius of Obama's shrinking presidency. No amount of posturing, buffing up, or Q&A briefing book drills could hide the reality that this man is on a raft at sea accompanied by an equally bewildered boatload of companions who have no idea how they arrived in such deep water, hundreds of miles from land, and with no clue that they are in trouble, let alone what to do about it.





What we've received instead from the ideology of identity politics and big government has been the spread of competency and accountability so thin that the federal government is utterly incapable of defending our shores and borders from invasion -- one by sea in the form of a massive crude oil slick, the other by land in the waves of illegal immigrants flooding Texas, Arizona, New Mexico, and California. In utter exasperation, the citizens of Arizona finally took matters into their own hands, only to be vilified by Obama and his cohorts, who have neither the will nor the capacity to do anything about it.





Identity politics is where grievance-mongering and class resentment intersect with entitlement agitation and representational profiling. Those who use the currency of identity politics appeal to the ideals of justice and fair distribution of resources and outcomes. But in reality they prey on those who are underprivileged and dependent, making claims of dispossession against those who have enjoyed success and independence derived from their own sweat, equity, and competence.





Leaders who devote all of their energy and emotional capital to identity politics instead of creating a competent, skills-based organization soon discover that when critical decisions need to be made and highly skilled resources need to be mobilized, nobody is around who knows how to do it. Such leaders, eventually tuned out and abandoned by even their former acolytes, become irrelevant, easily overwhelmed by events and rivals, taking their organizations -- even a nation -- down with them.





ObamaCare was the progeny of a shrinking president preoccupied with identity politics accompanied by big government ideology and not much else, floated on the emotional chaise of justice and fair distribution. Yet its proponents thoroughly disregarded the vast, complex, and highly skilled bureaucracy needed to attain those ideals in a brand new, centralized, top-down social engineering monstrosity. It will require a bureaucracy ten times the size of the Pentagon.





And now we are watching in slow-motion agony the failure of identity politics and big government unwilling and unable to cope with the BP Gulf of Mexico oil spill disaster, gradually revealed like a developing image from a Polaroid instant print. Identity politics assured that no one with any skills or experience would occupy the top jobs in Obama's administration needed to navigate a crisis of this magnitude.





And where oh where is the president, anyhow? Playing another round of golf and hosting the Duke University women's basketball team.





Obama's presidency is finished because identity trumped competency. And without competency, his big government is dysfunctional and destructive.





So what's the alternative? Simple. The ideology of limited government. Why? Because limited government is the antithesis of identity politics. The ideology of limited government wouldn't need to rely on overextended organization competencies to manage vast and complex bureaucracies because those bureaucracies would be unnecessary and wouldn't exist. Without identity politics, people who actually know what they're doing could occupy key jobs.





Limited government has to assemble and target just those competencies needed to carry out the limited duties envisioned in the U.S. Constitution, such as providing for the common defense, facilitating interstate commerce and a monetary system, and defending the rights reserved to the people. Everything else can be better-managed by private enterprise, where distributed self interest can gather competencies in units small enough to accomplish something useful.





Identity politics combined with incompetence have exposed the absurdity in the ambitions of big government and made Obama the weakest, most anemic and flaccid president in the modern era. The Latinate word would be diminutive. In simple Saxon tongue, the word is small. This is Obama's presidency.

The Agitator-In-Chief

From The American Thinker:

June 01, 2010


The Agitator-in-Chief

By Chad Stafko

After nearly eighteen months in office, the president of the United States has finally encountered his first unforeseen crisis. A gushing oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico combined with seething anger from residents, business owners, and politicians along the coastline has produced a toxic mix of political corrosion that is eroding the president's political capital. The response to the disaster that we have seen from President Barack Obama should have been expected, as it is simply a byproduct of his experience, or lack thereof.





On Friday, May 28, the president finally managed to make his second trip to the oil-plagued area nearly forty days after the disaster occurred. The president spent only about three hours on site. Three hours! Where were the meetings with the families of those who were killed when the oil rig exploded? Could not a precious hour or two have been spent with those grieving and those who were angry over the explosion?



Why did the president not take a few hours and meet with Governor Jindal, Kevin Costner, and others who are attempting to limit the damage the existing oil may cause to the coastline through innovative means but whose efforts have been limited by the need for government approval? While Jindal has received recent approval for the makeshift sandbars that could help alleviate some damage, the president could be the ultimate red tape eliminator.





But President Obama passed on the opportunity.





Apparently, he was too busy, as he needed to make the trip back to his hometown of Chicago for the Memorial Day weekend. The president's lack of interest and lack of concern, as evidenced by his lack of actions, is irritating even his fellow Democrats and, in some cases, some of his most ardent supporters. Louisiana Democratic Senator Mary Landrieu said of the president's lack of visibility on the oil disaster, "He's going to pay a political price for it."





Add to the fray Louisiana resident and longtime Democratic strategist and talking head James Carville, who said earlier in the week of Obama, "This President needs to tell BP: 'I'm your Daddy, I'm in charge' ... We need some action here, and we need to get this thing moving quickly."





If President Obama's perceived and actual lack of action weren't enough to stoke the anger of coastline residents among other Americans, Obama's actions on the evening of Tuesday, May 25, at the height of the crisis, fanned the flame. The president of the United States could be found that evening in California at a fundraising dinner and reception for embattled Senator Barbara Boxer. The amount of time President Obama spent in California raising money for a career politician was nearly identical to the amount of time he spent on the frontlines of the worst oil disaster and possibly the worst ecological disaster this country has ever known.





Should we expect more out of our president? Yes. Should we expect more out of this president? No. This is exactly what we should expect from him based on his past behavior.





As you may recall, before ascending to the presidency, Barack Obama was a community organizer. He was not the president of a non-profit group, the leader of a civic organization, or head of a sanitation district, nor did he have any other leadership experience prior to his brief tenure as a senator from Illinois. He had never led an organization through the ups and downs of its existence or had any experience in crisis management. Instead, his experience -- most of it in fact -- was to gather a group of individuals together and get them irritated toward their city councils, regulatory board, or some other target. Now, he's on the other side. He and his administration have agitated the people, and they are not happy.





What has been the president's reaction to the outrage of the people? At times he has stated that the government is responsible and will fix the mess, while at the same time those within the government who are on the frontlines of the oil spill have acknowledged that the government does not have the skill, equipment, or expertise to clean up the spill or cap the leak.





Other times, President Obama simply says that those who are critical of the administration's response are ignorant of the situation. That's the mantra for a community organizer -- talk first, think later.





This disaster indicates to us as to what we have: a community organizer with little leadership experience or skill as President of the United States.





Chad Stafko is a writer and political consultant living in the Midwest. He can be reached at stafko@msn.com

Obama Presidency On Life Support

From Fire Andrea Mitchell:

Obama Presidency on Lifesupport








For the first time since Obama’s emergence in 2004 at the Democratic Convention in Boston, the national news media, long in the tank for Obama. This NewsMax article seems to think that the media has begun to run him through the ringer all other presidents have experienced. I don’t know if I agree with this, as they are still protecting his backside, just like when media hack Jake Tapper banned the term “ObamaCARE” from his blog. NewsMax how does rightly not that the bumbling, stumbling, aimless, naive, reverse-course Obama presidency has hit the skids and even the media can no longer hide.



Here are some examples:



* Obama went crazy over a very popular Arizona immigration law and then tried to get ahead of this explosive immigration issue by symbolically dispatching 1,200 National Guardsmen down to the Arizona border.

* After being viewed as passive about the BP leak, he suddenly announced he was going down to the Gulf on Friday.

* After offending the Israeli prime minister a few months ago, and thus straining relations with Israel, the White House has now reversed course and invited Benjamin Netanyahu back to D.C. for another round of talks. Undoubtedly Obama’s plummeting status with a base Democratic Party constituency — American Jews — has come back to haunt him.



* Obama went crazy over a very popular Arizona immigration law and then tried to get ahead of this explosive immigration issue by symbolically dispatching 1,200 National Guardsmen down to the Arizona border.

* After being viewed as passive about the BP leak, he suddenly announced he was going down to the Gulf on Friday.

* After offending the Israeli prime minister a few months ago, and thus straining relations with Israel, the White House has now reversed course and invited Benjamin Netanyahu back to D.C. for another round of talks. Undoubtedly Obama’s plummeting status with a base Democratic Party constituency — American Jews — has come back to haunt him

The Reconquista #1

From World Net daily and The Patriot Update:

INVASION USA




Border-law opponents want international fix in Arizona

'We reiterate our total rejection of criminalization of immigration'



--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Posted: May 29, 2010

10:25 pm Eastern





By Bob Unruh

© 2010 WorldNetDaily







Organization of the American States

Lawmakers from Arizona who oppose their state's crackdown on illegal aliens are joining up with lawmakers from the Mexican state of Sonora to call on the Organization of the American States for a fix.



The Arizona statute, which essentially duplicates federal law to allow law enforcement officers to check the legal status of those they have reasonable suspicion may be in the United States illegally, has been targeted by Mexican authorities.



WND reported when the Mexican government said it respected the Obama administration's decision to send 1,200 National Guard troops to the U.S. southern border to counter cross-border drug and weapons trafficking as long as the troops don't enforce U.S. immigration laws.



Is it really an invasion? Read "Conquest of Aztlan: Will Mexicans retake American Southwest?"



The Embassy of Mexico in Washington, D.C., said, "Regarding the administration's decision to send 1,200 National Guard servicemen to the U.S. Southern border, the government of Mexico trusts that this decision will help to channel additional U.S. resources to enhance efforts to prevent the illegal flows of weapons and bulk cash into Mexico, which provide organized crime with its firepower and its ability to corrupt."



(Story continues below)









It continued, "Additionally, the government of Mexico expects that National Guard personnel will strengthen U.S. operations in the fight against transnational organized crime that operates on both sides of our common border and that it will not, in accordance to its legal obligations, conduct activities directly linked to the enforcement of immigration laws [emphasis added]."



While the Arizona law bans racial profiling, the state has been accused of establishing the law to target suspects based on race. Federal immigration authorities even have suggested they may not cooperate with the state in enforcing the nation's immigration laws.



Now, on a blog for Democrats in the Arizona Legislature, Sen. Amanda Aguirre has written about a meeting with lawmakers from Sonora where she and other critics of Arizona's law agreed to appeal to the OAS.



The Arizona law critics and Mexican leaders at that meeting drafted and signed a resolution that "will be sent to the United Nations and the Organization of American States – Inter-American Commission on Human Rights."



Aguirre wrote that the resolution states, "The participants of the Bi-National Conference of Legislators reiterate the ties of friendship that unite our two countries, particularly the states of Sonora and Arizona, and emphasize the importance of establishing and emphasizing bridges to promote dialogue between our countries. Faced with the promulgation of the law, we reiterate our total rejection of the criminalization of immigration and the application of the law based on racial profiling as indicated by law SB 1070."



Aguirre wrote on the blog that the meeting was set with Sen. Emma Larios Gaxiola from Sonora and the "Bi-National Conference" in Nogales focused on the Arizona controversy.



Aguirre reported others from Arizona included Sens. Manny Alvarez, Linda Lopez and Jorge Luis Garcia. Mayors and elected representatives from Santa Cruz County and the cities of Douglas, San Luis, Nogales and Somerton also participated.



"The ramifications of this destructive legislation are already being felt in our economy and our relationship of cooperation with Mexico has been threatened. We held this meeting to continue the dialogue between the two countries and sister states, Arizona and Sonora, which has recently deteriorated due to the signing of SB 1070," said Aguirre.



The discussion included commercial and economic impacts, civil rights and civil liberty impacts, and lawsuits filed, she said.



"As a senator from a border county, the simple fact is that this legislation does nothing to address border violence, and it lessens long-standing cooperation between communities and law enforcement. It also opens the door to abuses of civil liberties and racial profiling of U.S. citizens," said Aguirre on the blog.



The plea is assured of getting a warm welcome in, at least, the OAS, which just last year opened its doors to full participation by Cuba. That organization's Inter-American Commission for Human Rights earlier issued a resolution expressing "deep concern" over the law.



The commission said it was concerned over "the high risk of racial discrimination in the implementation of the law."



It also worried about the "criminalization of the presence of undocumented persons."



"In this regard, the IACHR wishes to recall that international norms establish that detention should be applied only under exceptional circumstances and only after it has been determined, in each individual case, to be necessary and proportional."



It warned the U.S. about the state law.



"International law recognizes that countries may establish mechanisms to control the entry and departure of foreigners to their territory. Likewise, international law establishes that a state's actions in this context must be applied with strict regard for the rights of the people affected and with observation of fundamental principles such as non-discrimination and the rights to liberty and personal integrity, which cannot be subordinated to the implementation of public policy objectives," the statement said.



Aguirre told WND she went to the meeting because she wanted to continue a dialogue between Mexican leaders and U.S. communities who depend on the spending of Mexican citizens for their tax base.



She said she is concerned that the state law "criminalizes" being in the U.S. illegally, instead of leaving it a civil matter.



She said the request to the OAS is to determine whether the state law "infringes on the human rights" of people.



Several other Arizona lawmakers who attended the meeting did not respond to WND requests for comment.



Jose Miguel Insulza, the secretary general for the OAS, told the Buenos Aires Herald he hopes the law "is never applied against Latin American residents and immigrants."



He said those who enter the U.S. illegally "have social responsibilities and provide economic benefits for that country."





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Liberals Offended By The Words Of Justice Earl Warren

From World Net Daily and The Patriot Update:

FAITH UNDER FIRE




Libs offended by words ... from Justice Earl Warren

Prayer penned by late judge used at Texas textbook meeting



--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Posted: May 29, 2010

10:20 pm Eastern





By Bob Unruh

© 2010 WorldNetDaily









Critics of a recent successful move to restore some of America's traditional historical references to textbooks in Texas launched a long list of criticisms against a conservative education board member who dared to mention Jesus and the Christian faith in a meeting invocation.



Then the critics discovered the words were penned by the late Supreme Court Justice Earl Warren, whose tenure on the court was marked by the removal of prayer from public schools and other similar moves.



Read the real wording of the Declaration of Independence and the story behind America's founding document in Rod Gragg's "The Declaration of Independence."



"Those who wish to revise American history are often ignorant of history," said Mathew Staver, founder of Liberty Counsel. "Some secularists wish to revise history in order to bury America's rich religious heritage.



"It was the Great Awakening that preceded the American Revolution. Without a religious revival, there would have been no lasting civil liberty, and without the American Revolution, there would be no America," he said.



"Those who wish to exclude God from our history either suffer from dementia or are dishonest," said Staver.



The invocation delivered by Texas Board of Education Member Cynthia Dunbar, a professor at Liberty University School of Law, has been posted online:







The text read:





"I believe no one can read the history of our country without realizing that the Good Book and the spirit of the Savior have from the beginning been our guiding geniuses. Whether we look to the first Charter of Virginia or the Charter of New England or the Charter of Massachusetts Bay or the Fundamental Orders of Connecticut, the same objective is present – a Christian land governed by Christian principles. I believe the entire Bill of Rights came into being because of the knowledge our forefathers had of the Bible and their belief in it: freedom of belief, of expression, of assembly, of petition, the dignity of the individual, the sanctity of the home, equal justice under law, and the reservation of powers to the people…I like to believe we are living today in the spirit of the Christian religion. I like also to believe that as long as we do so, no great harm can come to our country."

The invocation came near the end of arguments over textbook standards that will be used in Texas for the next 10 years. Board members approved 9-5 a series of changes that emphasize the teaching of American history and rejected attempts by historical revisionists to change significant parts of the nation's story, officials said.





Justice Earl Warren



After Dunbar's invocation, the Texas Freedom Network, which promoted the progressive changes, wrote a scathing article.



"She offered the board's opening prayer this morning and removed any doubt about what she and other far-right board members want students to learn: America's laws and government should be based on the Christian Bible," said the criticism.



But Liberty Counsel pointed out the faux pas.



The words were Warren's, the liberal activist who served on the high court from 1953-1969, from a Time magazine article.



Staver told WND that many who offered criticism of Dunbar were quick to "scurry and run for cover" when they discovered the actual source of the words.



Condemnation posted on the Texas Freedom Network Insider included:





From Steven Schafersman: "Invocations like this at the beginning of state agency meetings by public officials are, in my opinion, terribly bigoted in addition to being nonsense. By her remarks, Dunbar disenfranchised all in the audience who follow different faiths or no faith."





From "fireweaver": "Will Ms Dunbar start calling for a Christian form of Shariah law? She sounds like someone who would find that appealing. She's whack."





From "Keanus": "Dunbar, and the entire Christian Right, believes teaching, indoctrination and preaching are synonyms. For that reason they are doomed to a life time of ignorance, and, worse, blithely ignorant of their ignorance."





From "Thomas": "Dunbar is a subversive, traitorous threat to the national security of the United States as are all Christian domestic terrorists of her ilk.





From "Siobhan": "This woman can go to hell – and take the rest of her religious wingnut friends with her. I've already lived with this enough. I've seen first hand what it's done to my relatives in Ireland."

One commenter was watching carefully and apparently knew history, writing:



"Cynthia Dunbar must have been chuckling to herself as she laid plans for offering this 'prayer.' Between the opening lines ('Heavenly Father … As we look to our past to guide us, let us reflect on the convictions of those who have gone before us.') and a particularly non-inclusive closing ('All this I pray in the name of MY lord and savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.'), she inserted an excerpt of a speech given by Chief Justice Earl Warren at the 1954 National Prayer Breakfast as quoted contemporaneously in Time magazine. Clever."



At the Texas Tribune, Brian Thevenot wrote that after the fact, Texas Freedom Network President Kathy Miller was unamused.



He quoted her: "Making a joke out of a prayer to score a political point? Now that cheapens faith for us all."



The textbook dispute caught the attention of columnist Phyllis Schlafly, who noted the Texas school board's nationwide influence on textbook publishers because of the size of the state's market.



She pointed out education "experts" in Texas had suggested eliminating from history references to Independence Day, Christopher Columbus, Thomas Edison, Daniel Boone and Neil Armstrong and replacing Christmas with Diwali.



"Liberals don't like the concept of American exceptionalism. The liberals want to teach what's wrong with America (masquerading under the code word 'social justice') instead of what's right and successful. The Texas Board voted to include describing how American exceptionalism is based on values that are unique and different from those of other nations," she said.



But she said the results were good.



"The deceptive claim that the United States was founded on a 'separation of church and state' gets the ax, and rightfully so. In fact, most of the original 13 colonies were founded as Christian communities with much overlap between church and state," she said. "History textbooks that deal with Joseph McCarthy will now be required to explain 'how the later release of the Venona papers confirmed suspicions of Communist infiltration in U.S. government.' The Venona papers are authentic transcripts of some 3,000 messages between the Soviet Union and its secret agents in the United States."



Likewise, WND columnist Chuck Norris commented.



"Liberals and progressives complain that conservatives are hijacking the curriculum process and modifying textbooks to fit their ideological whims. But the history of textbook alterations has clearly proven it is the former who have changed the course and content of curricula and textbook production. Conservatives have been largely the guardians or preservationists of tradition. Progressives have changed curricula content to pacify the politically correct and adopt what they value today and want others to value tomorrow," he said.





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On Patriotism

From Campaign for Liberty:

On Patriotism


By Ron Paul

View all 71 articles by Ron Paul

Published 05/31/10



Printer-friendly version









Before the U.S. House of Representatives, May 22, 2007











Madam Speaker, for some, patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel. For others, it means dissent against a government's abuse of the people's rights.



I have never met a politician in Washington or any American, for that matter, who chose to be called unpatriotic. Nor have I met anyone who did not believe he wholeheartedly supported our troops, wherever they may be.



What I have heard all too frequently from various individuals are sharp accusations that, because their political opponents disagree with them on the need for foreign military entanglements, they were unpatriotic, un-American evildoers deserving contempt.



The original American patriots were those individuals brave enough to resist with force the oppressive power of King George. I accept the definition of patriotism as that effort to resist oppressive state power.



The true patriot is motivated by a sense of responsibility and out of self-interest for himself, his family, and the future of his country to resist government abuse of power. He rejects the notion that patriotism means obedience to the state. Resistance need not be violent, but the civil disobedience that might be required involves confrontation with the state and invites possible imprisonment.



Peaceful, nonviolent revolutions against tyranny have been every bit as successful as those involving military confrontation. Mahatma Gandhi and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., achieved great political successes by practicing nonviolence, and yet they suffered physically at the hands of the state. But whether the resistance against government tyrants is nonviolent or physically violent, the effort to overthrow state oppression qualifies as true patriotism.



True patriotism today has gotten a bad name, at least from the government and the press. Those who now challenge the unconstitutional methods of imposing an income tax on us, or force us to use a monetary system designed to serve the rich at the expense of the poor are routinely condemned. These American patriots are sadly looked down upon by many. They are never praised as champions of liberty as Gandhi and Martin Luther King have been.



Liberals, who withhold their taxes as a protest against war, are vilified as well, especially by conservatives. Unquestioned loyalty to the state is especially demanded in times of war. Lack of support for a war policy is said to be unpatriotic. Arguments against a particular policy that endorses a war, once it is started, are always said to be endangering the troops in the field. This, they blatantly claim, is unpatriotic, and all dissent must stop. Yet, it is dissent from government policies that defines the true patriot and champion of liberty.



It is conveniently ignored that the only authentic way to best support the troops is to keep them out of dangerous undeclared no-win wars that are politically inspired. Sending troops off to war for reasons that are not truly related to national security and, for that matter, may even damage our security, is hardly a way to patriotically support the troops.



Who are the true patriots, those who conform or those who protest against wars without purpose? How can it be said that blind support for a war, no matter how misdirected the policy, is the duty of a patriot?



Randolph Bourne said that, "War is the health of the state.'' With war, he argued, the state thrives. Those who believe in the powerful state see war as an opportunity. Those who mistrust the people and the market for solving problems have no trouble promoting a "war psychology'' to justify the expansive role of the state. This includes the role the Federal Government plays in our lives, as well as in our economic transactions.



Certainly, the neoconservative belief that we have a moral obligation to spread American values worldwide through force justifies the conditions of war in order to rally support at home for the heavy hand of government. It is through this policy, it should surprise no one, that our liberties are undermined. The economy becomes overextended, and our involvement worldwide becomes prohibited. Out of fear of being labeled unpatriotic, most of the citizens become compliant and accept the argument that some loss of liberty is required to fight the war in order to remain safe.



This is a bad trade-off, in my estimation, especially when done in the name of patriotism. Loyalty to the state and to autocratic leaders is substituted for true patriotism; that is, a willingness to challenge the state and defend the country, the people and the culture. The more difficult the times, the stronger the admonition comes that the leaders be not criticized.



Because the crisis atmosphere of war supports the growth of the state, any problem invites an answer by declaring war, even on social and economic issues. This elicits patriotism in support of various government solutions, while enhancing the power of the state. Faith in government coercion and a lack of understanding of how free societies operate encourages big-government liberals and big-government conservatives to manufacture a war psychology to demand political loyalty for domestic policy just as is required in foreign affairs.



The long-term cost in dollars spent and liberties lost is neglected as immediate needs are emphasized. It is for this reason that we have multiple perpetual wars going on simultaneously. Thus, the war on drugs, the war against gun ownership, the war against poverty, the war against illiteracy, the war against terrorism, as well as our foreign military entanglements are endless.



All this effort promotes the growth of statism at the expense of liberty. A government designed for a free society should do the opposite, prevent the growth of statism and preserve liberty.



Once a war of any sort is declared, the message is sent out not to object or you will be declared unpatriotic. Yet, we must not forget that the true patriot is the one who protests in spite of the consequences. Condemnation or ostracism or even imprisonment may result.



Nonviolent protesters of the Tax Code are frequently imprisoned, whether they are protesting the code's unconstitutionality or the war that the tax revenues are funding. Resisters to the military draft or even to Selective Service registration are threatened and imprisoned for challenging this threat to liberty.



Statism depends on the idea that the government owns us and citizens must obey. Confiscating the fruits of our labor through the income tax is crucial to the health of the state. The draft, or even the mere existence of the Selective Service, emphasizes that we will march off to war at the state's pleasure.



A free society rejects all notions of involuntary servitude, whether by draft or the confiscation of the fruits of our labor through the personal income tax. A more sophisticated and less well-known technique for enhancing the state is the manipulation and transfer of wealth through the fiat monetary system operated by the secretive Federal Reserve.



Protesters against this unconstitutional system of paper money are considered unpatriotic criminals and at times are imprisoned for their beliefs. The fact that, according to the Constitution, only gold and silver are legal tender and paper money outlawed matters little. The principle of patriotism is turned on its head. Whether it's with regard to the defense of welfare spending at home, confiscatory income tax, or an immoral monetary system or support for a war fought under false pretense without a legal declaration, the defenders of liberty and the Constitution are portrayed as unpatriotic, while those who support these programs are seen as the patriots.



If there is a war going on, supporting the state's effort to win the war is expected at all costs, no dissent. The real problem is that those who love the state too often advocate policies that lead to military action. At home, they are quite willing to produce a crisis atmosphere and claim a war is needed to solve the problem. Under these conditions, the people are more willing to bear the burden of paying for the war and to carelessly sacrifice liberties, which they are told is necessary.



The last 6 years have been quite beneficial to the health of the state, which comes at the expense of personal liberty. Every enhanced unconstitutional power of the state can only be achieved at the expense of individual liberty. Even though in every war in which we have been engaged civil liberties have suffered, some have been restored after the war ended, but never completely. That has resulted in a steady erosion of our liberties over the past 200 years. Our government was originally designed to protect our liberties, but it has now, instead, become the usurper of those liberties.



We currently live in the most difficult of times for guarding against an expanding central government with a steady erosion of our freedoms. We are continually being reminded that 9/11 has changed everything.



Unfortunately, the policy that needed most to be changed, that is, our policy of foreign interventionism, has only been expanded. There is no pretense any longer that a policy of humility in foreign affairs, without being the world's policemen and engaging in nation building, is worthy of consideration.



We now live in a post-9/11 America where our government is going to make us safe no matter what it takes. We are expected to grin and bear it and adjust to every loss of our liberties in the name of patriotism and security.



Though the majority of Americans initially welcomed the declared effort to make us safe, and we are willing to sacrifice for the cause, more and more Americans are now becoming concerned about civil liberties being needlessly and dangerously sacrificed.



The problem is that the Iraq war continues to drag on, and a real danger of it spreading exists. There is no evidence that a truce will soon be signed in Iraq or in the war on terror or the war on drugs. Victory is not even definable. If Congress is incapable of declaring an official war, it is impossible to know when it will end. We have been fully forewarned that the world conflict in which we are now engaged will last a long, long time.



The war mentality and the pervasive fear of an unidentified enemy allows for a steady erosion of our liberties, and, with this, our respect for self-reliance and confidence is lost. Just think of the self-sacrifice and the humiliation we go through at the airport screening process on a routine basis. Though there is no scientific evidence of any likelihood of liquids and gels being mixed on an airplane to make a bomb, billions of dollars are wasted throwing away toothpaste and hair spray, and searching old women in wheelchairs.



Our enemies say boo, and we jump, we panic, and then we punish ourselves. We are worse than a child being afraid of the dark. But in a way, the fear of indefinable terrorism is based on our inability to admit the truth about why there is a desire by a small number of angry radical Islamists to kill Americans. It is certainly not because they are jealous of our wealth and freedoms.



We fail to realize that the extremists, willing to sacrifice their own lives to kill their enemies, do so out of a sense of weakness and desperation over real and perceived attacks on their way of life, their religion, their country, and their natural resources. Without the conventional diplomatic or military means to retaliate against these attacks, and an unwillingness of their own government to address the issue, they resort to the desperation tactic of suicide terrorism. Their anger toward their own governments, which they believe are coconspirators with the American Government, is equal to or greater than that directed toward us.



These errors in judgment in understanding the motive of the enemy and the constant fear that is generated have brought us to this crisis where our civil liberties and privacy are being steadily eroded in the name of preserving national security.



We may be the economic and the military giant of the world, but the effort to stop this war on our liberties here at home in the name of patriotism is being lost.



The erosion of our personal liberties started long before 9/11, but 9/11 accelerated the process. There are many things that motivate those who pursue this course, both well-intentioned and malevolent, but it would not happen if the people remained vigilant, understood the importance of individual rights, and were unpersuaded that a need for security justifies the sacrifice for liberty, even if it is just now and then.



The true patriot challenges the state when the state embarks on enhancing its power at the expense of the individual. Without a better understanding and a greater determination to rein in the state, the rights of Americans that resulted from the revolutionary break from the British and the writing of the Constitution will disappear.



The record since September 11th is dismal. Respect for liberty has rapidly deteriorated. Many of the new laws passed after 9/11 had, in fact, been proposed long before that attack. The political atmosphere after that attack simply made it more possible to pass such legislation. The fear generated by 9/11 became an opportunity for those seeking to promote the power of the state domestically, just as it served to falsely justify the long-planned invasion of Iraq.



The war mentality was generated by the Iraq war in combination with the constant drumbeat of fear at home. Al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden, who is now likely residing in Pakistan, our supposed ally, are ignored, as our troops fight and die in Iraq and are made easier targets for the terrorists in their backyard. While our leaders constantly use the mess we created to further justify the erosion of our constitutional rights here at home, we forget about our own borders and support the inexorable move toward global government, hardly a good plan for America.



The accelerated attacks on liberty started quickly after 9/11. Within weeks, the PATRIOT Act was overwhelmingly passed by Congress. Though the final version was unavailable up to a few hours before the vote, no Member had sufficient time to study it. Political fear of not doing something, even something harmful, drove the Members of Congress to not question the contents, and just voted for it. A little less freedom for a little more perceived safety was considered a fair trade-off, and the majority of Americans applauded.



The PATRIOT Act, though, severely eroded the system of checks and balances by giving the government the power to spy on law-abiding citizens without judicial supervision. The several provisions that undermine the liberties of all Americans include sneak-and-peek searches, a broadened and more vague definition of domestic terrorism, allowing the FBI access to library and bookstore records without search warrants or probable cause, easier FBI initiation of wiretaps and searches, as well as roving wiretaps, easier access to information on American citizens' use of the Internet, and easier access to e-mail and financial records of all American citizens.



The attack on privacy has not relented over the past 6 years. The Military Commissions Act is a particularly egregious piece of legislation and, if not repealed, will change America for the worse as the powers unconstitutionally granted to the executive branch are used and abused. This act grants excessive authority to use secretive military commissions outside of places where active hostilities are going on. The Military Commissions Act permits torture, arbitrary detention of American citizens as unlawful enemy combatants at the full discretion of the President and without the right of habeas corpus, and warrantless searches by the NSA. It also gives to the President the power to imprison individuals based on secret testimony.



Since 9/11, Presidential signing statements designating portions of legislation that the President does not intend to follow, though not legal under the Constitution, have enormously multiplied. Unconstitutional Executive Orders are numerous and mischievous and need to be curtailed.



Extraordinary rendition to secret prisons around the world have been widely engaged in, though obviously extralegal.



A growing concern in the post-9/11 environment is the Federal Government's list of potential terrorists based on secret evidence. Mistakes are made, and sometimes it is virtually impossible to get one's name removed even though the accused is totally innocent of any wrongdoing.



A national ID card is now in the process of being implemented. It is called the REAL ID card, and it is tied to our Social Security numbers and our State driver's license. If REAL ID is not stopped, it will become a national driver's license ID for all Americans. We will be required to carry our papers.



Some of the least-noticed and least-discussed changes in the law were the changes made to the Insurrection Act of 1807 and to posse comitatus by the Defense Authorization Act of 2007. These changes pose a threat to the survival of our Republic by giving the President the power to declare martial law for as little reason as to restore public order. The 1807 act severely restricted the President in his use of the military within the United States borders, and the Posse Comitatus Act of 1878 strengthened these restrictions with strict oversight by Congress. The new law allows the President to circumvent the restrictions of both laws. The Insurrection Act has now become the "Enforcement of the Laws to Restore Public Order Act.'' This is hardly a title that suggests that the authors cared about or understood the nature of a constitutional Republic.



Now, martial law can be declared not just for insurrection, but also for natural disasters, public health reasons, terrorist attacks or incidents, or for the vague reason called "other conditions.'' The President can call up the National Guard without congressional approval or the Governors' approval, and even send these State Guard troops into other States.



The American Republic is in remnant status. The stage is set for our country eventually devolving into a military dictatorship, and few seem to care. These precedent-setting changes in the law are extremely dangerous and will change American jurisprudence forever if not revised. The beneficial results of our revolt against the King's abuses are about to be eliminated, and few Members of Congress and few Americans are aware of the seriousness of the situation. Complacency and fear drive our legislation without any serious objection by our elected leaders. Sadly, though, those few who do object to this self-evident trend away from personal liberty and empire-building overseas are portrayed as unpatriotic and uncaring.



Though welfare and socialism always fails, opponents of them are said to lack compassion. Though opposition to totally unnecessary war should be the only moral position, the rhetoric is twisted to claim that patriots who oppose the war are not supporting the troops. The cliché "Support the Troops'' is incessantly used as a substitute for the unacceptable notion of supporting the policy, no matter how flawed it may be.



Unsound policy can never help the troops. Keeping the troops out of harm's way and out of wars unrelated to our national security is the only real way of protecting the troops. With this understanding, just who can claim the title of "patriot''?



Before the war in the Middle East spreads and becomes a world conflict for which we will be held responsible, or the liberties of all Americans become so suppressed we can no longer resist, much has to be done. Time is short, but our course of action should be clear. Resistance to illegal and unconstitutional usurpation of our rights is required. Each of us must choose which course of action we should take: education, conventional political action, or even peaceful civil disobedience to bring about necessary changes.



But let it not be said that we did nothing. Let not those who love the power of the welfare/warfare state label the dissenters of authoritarianism as unpatriotic or uncaring. Patriotism is more closely linked to dissent than it is to conformity and a blind desire for safety and security. Understanding the magnificent rewards of a free society makes us unbashful in its promotion, fully realizing that maximum wealth is created and the greatest chance for peace comes from a society respectful of individual liberty.

Memorial Day


I have ancestors who fought in The French and Indian War before there was a United States; I have ancestors and family who fought in the Revolutionary War, the Seminole Wars, the War of Northern Aggression/War Between the States (Mostly Confederate ancestors, but at least one Union ancestor), the Spanish-American War, World War I, World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the Cold War, and the First and Second Gulf Wars.  I am a Veteran of the First Gulf War and the Cold War.  Today I reflect upon the sacrifices that these and others have made for us.




















Sunday, May 30, 2010

The Obamanation's Flip-Flop Foreign Policy

From Campaign for Liberty:

Obama's Flip-Flop Foreign Policy


By Dilip Hiro

Published 05/29/10



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The American Century Is So Over

Obama's Rudderless Foreign Policy Underscores America's Waning Power

By Dilip Hiro



Irrespective of their politics, flawed leaders share a common trait. They generally remain remarkably oblivious to the harm they do to the nation they lead. George W. Bush is a salient recent example, as is former British Prime Minister Tony Blair. When it comes to foreign policy, we are now witnessing a similar phenomenon at the Obama White House.



Here is the Obama pattern: Choose a foreign leader to pressure. Threaten him with dire consequences if he does not bend to Washington's will. When he refuses to submit and instead responds vigorously, back off quickly and overcompensate for failure by switching into a placatory mode.



In his first year-plus in office, Barack Obama has provided us with enough examples to summarize his leadership style. The American president fails to objectively evaluate the strength of the cards that a targeted leader holds and his resolve to play them.



Obama's propensity to retreat at the first sign of resistance shows that he lacks both guts and the strong convictions that are essential elements distinguishing statesmen from politicians. By pursuing a rudderless course in his foreign policy, by flip-flopping in his approach to other leaders, he is also inadvertently furnishing hard evidence to those who argue that American power is on the decline -- and that the downward slide of the globe's former "sole superpower" is irreversible.



Those who have refused to buckle under Obama's initial threats and hardball tactics (and so the impact of American power) include not just the presidents of China, a first-tier mega-nation, and Brazil, a rising major power, but also the leaders of Israel, a regional power heavily dependent on Washington for its sustenance, and Afghanistan, a client state -- not to mention the military junta of Honduras, a minor entity, which stood up to the Obama administration as if it were the Politburo of former Soviet Union.



Flip-Flop on Honduras



By overthrowing the civilian government of President Manuel Zelaya in June 2009, the Honduran generals acquired the odious distinction of carrying out the first military coup in Central America in the post-Cold War era. What drove them to it? The precipitating factor was Zelaya's decision to have a non-binding survey on holding a referendum that November about convening a Constituent Assembly to redraft the constitution.



Denouncing the coup as a "terrible precedent" for the region and demanding its reversal, President Obama initially insisted: "We do not want to go back to a dark past. We always want to stand with democracy."



Those words should have been followed by deeds like recalling his ambassador in Tegucigalpa (just as Bolivia, Brazil, Cuba, Ecuador, Nicaragua, and Venezuela did) and an immediate suspension of the American aid on which the country depends. Instead, what followed was a statement by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton that the administration would not formally designate the ouster as a military coup "for now" -- even though the United Nations, the Organization of American States, and the European Union had already done so.



This backtracking encouraged the Honduran generals and their Republican supporters in Congress. They began to stonewall, while a top notch public relations firm in Washington, hired by the de facto government of the military's puppet president Roberto Micheletti, went to work.



These moves proved enough to weaken the "democratic" resolve of a president who makes lofty speeches, but lacks strong convictions when it comes to foreign policy. Secretary of State Clinton then began talking of reconciling the ousted president and the Micheletti government, treating the legitimate and illegitimate camps as equals.



Having realized that a hard line stance vis-à-vis Washington was paying dividends, the Honduran generals remained unbending. Only when Clinton insisted that the State Department would not recognize the November presidential election result because of doubts about it being free, fair, and transparent did they agree to a compromise a month before the poll. They would let Zelaya return to the presidential palace to finish his term in office.



That was when rightwing Republican Senator Jim DeMint, a fanatical supporter of the Honduran generals, swung into action. He would give Republican consent to White House nominees for important posts in Latin America only if Clinton agreed to recognize the election results, irrespective of what happened to Zelaya. Clinton buckled.



As a result, Obama became one of only two leaders -- the other being Panama's president -- in the 34-member Organization of American States to lend his support to the Honduran presidential poll. What probably appeared as a routine trade-off in domestic politics on Capitol Hill was seen by the international community as a humiliating retreat by Obama when challenged by a group of Honduran generals. Other leaders undoubtedly took note.



A far more dramatic reversal awaited Obama when he locked horns with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.



Wily Netanyahu Trumps Naïve Obama



On taking office, the Obama White House announced with much fanfare that it would take on the intractable Israeli-Palestinian dispute right away. On examining the 2003 "road map" to peace backed by the United Nations, the United States, Russia, and the European Union, it discovered Israel's promise to cease all settlement-building activity.



In his first meeting with Netanyahu in mid-May 2009, Obama demanded a halt to the expansion of Jewish settlements in the West Bank and occupied East Jerusalem, already housing nearly 500,000 Jews. He argued that they were a major obstacle to the establishment of an independent Palestinian state. Netanyahu balked -- and changed tack by stressing the existential threat that Iran's nuclear program posed to Israel.



Obama slipped into the Israeli leader's trap. At their joint press conference, he linked the Israeli-Palestinian peace talks with the Iranian nuclear threat. Then, to Netanyahu's delight, he gave Tehran "until the end of the year" to respond to his diplomatic overtures. In this way, the wily prime minister got the American president to accept his linkage of two unrelated issues while offering nothing in return.



Later, Netanyahu would differentiate between the ongoing expansion of present Jewish settlements and the creation of new ones, with no compromise on the former. He would also draw a clear distinction between the West Bank and East Jerusalem which, he would insist, was an integral part of the "indivisible, eternal capital of Israel," and therefore exempt from any restrictions on Jewish settlements.



Reflecting the Obama administration's style, Clinton offered a strong verbal riposte: "No exceptions to Israeli settlement freeze". These would prove empty words that changed nothing on the ground.



When Netanyahu publicly rejected Obama's demand for a halt to settlement construction in the West Bank, Obama raised the stakes, suggesting that Israeli intransigence endangered American security.



On October 15th, after much back-channel communication between the two governments, Netanyahu announced that he had terminated the settlements talks with Washington. Having said this, he offered to curb some settlement construction during a later meeting with Clinton. This won him the secretary of state's effusive praise for an "unprecedented" gesture, and a call for the unconditional resumption of the Palestinian-Israeli peace talks.



The Palestinians were flabbergasted by this American volte-face. "I believe that the U.S. condones continued settlement expansion," said stunned Palestinian government spokesman Ghassan Khatib. "Negotiations are about ending the occupation and settlement expansion is about entrenching the occupation."



In December, Netanyahu agreed to a 10-month moratorium on settlement building, but only after his government had given permission for the construction of 3,000 new apartments in the occupied West Bank. Sticking to their original position, the Palestinians refused to revive peace talks until there was a total freeze on settlement activity.



On March 9, 2010, just as Vice-President Joe Biden arrived in Jerusalem as part of Washington's campaign to kick-start the peace process, the Israeli authorities announced the approval of yet more building -- 1,600 new homes in East Jerusalem. This audacious move, meant to underline Israel's defiance of Washington, left Biden -- as well as Obama -- fuming.



With the House of Representatives adopting his health reform bill on March 24th, Obama was on a domestic roll when he met Netanyahu in Washington the next day. He reportedly laid out three conditions for defusing the crisis: an extension of the freeze on Jewish settlement expansion beyond September 2010; an end to further Jewish settlement projects in East Jerusalem; and withdrawal of the Israeli forces to the positions held before the Second Intifada in September 2000. He then left Netanyahu at the White House to consult with his advisers and get back to him if "there is anything new." Again, however, as with the Honduran generals Obama's tough talk remained just that: talk.



The purpose of all this activity was to get the Palestinians to resume peace negotiations with Israel, which they had broken off when that country attacked the Gaza Strip in December 2008. Netanyahu was prepared to talk as long as no preconditions were set by the Palestinians.



In the end, he got what he wanted. He met neither Palestinian preconditions nor those of the Obama administration. Simply put, it was Obama who bent to Netanyahu's will. The tail wagged the dog.



The hapless officials of the Palestinian Authority read the writing on the wall. After some ritual huffing and puffing, they agreed to participate in "proximity talks" with the Netanyahu government in which Washington's Middle East envoy, George Mitchell, would shuttle back and forth between the two sides. These started on May 9th. Over the next four months, Mitchell's tough task will be to try to narrow the yawning differences on the terms of Palestinian statehood -- when both sides now know that Obama will shy away from pressuring Israel where it hurts.



Spat With China, Then a Sudden Thaw



Obama's problems with the People's Republic of China (PRC) began in November 2009 when, to his disappointment, the Chinese government failed to accord him the royal treatment he had expected on his first visit to the country.



Washington-Beijing relations cooled further when the Obama administration greenlighted the sale of $6.4 billion worth of advanced weaponry to Taiwan, including anti-missile missiles, and Obama met the Dalai Lama, Tibet's spiritual leader, at the White House. The PRC regards Taiwan as a breakaway province and Tibet as an integral part of the republic.



Senior U.S. officials described the moves as part of Obama's concerted drive to "push back" at China which, in his view, was punching above its weight. Along with these moves went unrelenting pressure on Beijing, in private and in public, to revalue its currency, the yuan. The administration repeatedly highlighted a legal provision requiring the Treasury Department to report twice a year on any country that has been manipulating the rate of exchange between its currency and the American dollar to gain unfair advantage in international trade. That the next due date for such a report -- a preamble to possible sanctions -- was April 15th was repeated by U.S. officials ad nauseam.



In mid-April, Obama was convening an international summit on nuclear security in Washington. He was eager to have as many heads of state as possible attend. At the very least, he wanted the leaders of the four nuclear powers with U.N. Security Council vetoes -- Britain, France, Russia, and China -- present.



That provided Chinese President Hu Jintao with a powerful card to play at a moment when a White House threat to name his country as a currency manipulator hung over his head. He refused to attend the Washington nuclear summit. Obama blinked. He postponed the Treasury Department's judgment day. In return, Hu came and met Obama at the White House.



That tensions existed between Beijing and Washington did not surprise China's leaders, a collective of hard-nosed realists. Their attitude was reflected in an editorial in the official newspaper, the China Daily, soon after Obama's inauguration. "U.S. leaders have never been shy about talking about their country's ambition," it said. "For them, it is divinely granted destiny no matter what other nations think." The editorial went on to predict that "Obama's defense of U.S. interests will inevitably clash with those of other nations." And so they have, repeatedly.



Such realism contrasted starkly with the mood prevalent at the White House where it was naively believed that a few well scripted speeches in foreign capitals by the eloquent new president would restore U.S. prestige left in tatters by George W. Bush's policies. What the president and his coterie seem not to have noticed, however, was an important Pew Research Center poll. It showed that, following Obama's public diplomacy campaign, while the image of the U.S. had indeed risen sharply in Europe, Mexico, and Brazil, any improvement was minor in India and China, marginal in the Arab Middle East, and nonexistent in Russia, Pakistan, and Turkey.



Stuck in its self-congratulatory mode, the Obama team paid scant attention to the full range of options that other powers had for retaliating to its pressure. For instance, it did not foresee Beijing threatening sanctions against major American companies supplying weapons to Taiwan, nor did it anticipate the stiff resistance the PRC would offer to revaluing the yuan.



Some attributed Beijing's behavior to a rising Chinese nationalism and the fears of its leaders that bending under pressure from "foreigners" would play poorly at home. But the real reasons for Chinese resistance had more to do with hard economics than popular sentiment. In the wake of the Great Recession of 2008-09, symbolized by the collapse of the gigantic Lehman Brothers investment bank, China's leaders noted tectonic changes occurring in the international economic balance of power -- at the expense of the hitherto "sole superpower."



While the U.S. and European economies contracted, Beijing quickly adopted policies aimed at boosting domestic demand and infrastructure investment. This resulted in impressive expansion: 9% growth in the gross domestic product in 2009 with a prediction of 12% in the current year. This led Goldman Sachs' analysts to advance their forecast of the year when China would become the globe's number one economy from 2050 to 2027.



For the first time since World War II, it was not the United States that pulled the rest of the world out of negative growth, but China. The U.S. has emerged from the financial carnage as the most heavily indebted nation on Earth, and China as its leading creditor with an unprecedented $2.4 trillion in foreign reserves.



Its cash-rich corporations are now buying companies and future natural resources from Australia to Peru, Canada to Afghanistan where, last year, the Congjiang Copper Group, a Chinese corporation, offered $3.4 billion -- $1 billion more than the highest bid by a Western metallurgy company -- to secure the right to mine copper from one of the richest deposits on the planet.



Karzai the Menace Becomes Karzai the Indispensable



On assuming the presidency, Obama made no secret of his dislike for his Afghan counterpart, Hamid Karzai. To circumvent his central government's pervasive corruption, senior American officials came up with the idea of dealing directly with Afghan provincial and district governors. In the presidential election of August 2009, their preference for Abdullah Abdullah, a serious rival to Karzai, was widely known.



When Karzai resorted to massive vote rigging to ensure his reelection and turned a deaf ear to Washington's exhortations to clean up his administration, Obama decided to use a stick to bring Washington's latest client regime in line. In a dramatic gesture, he undertook an air journey of 26 hours -- from Washington to Kabul -- over the last weekend in March to deliver a 26-minute lecture to Karzai on the corruption and administrative ineptitude of his government. The Afghan leader had few options but to listen in stony silence.



When, however, Karzai read a news story in which an unnamed senior American military official suggested that his younger half-brother, Ahmed Wali, the power broker in the southern province of Kandahar, deserved to be put on the Pentagon's current list of drug barons to be killed or captured, his patience snapped.



An incensed Afghan president responded by claiming that the U.S. was deliberately intensifying and widening the war in Afghanistan in order to stay in the region and dominate it. He added that, if Washington's pressure continued, he might join the Taliban. (He had, in fact, been a significant fundraiser for the Taliban after they captured Kabul in September 1996.)



Obama reacted as he had done in the past. When facing a serious challenge, he retreated. From being a stick wielder he morphed into a carrier of carrots during a Karzai visit to Washington early this month (that, in March, administration officials were threatening to postpone indefinitely).



The high point of the wooing of Karzai -- worthy of being included in a modern version of Alice in Wonderland -- was a dinner Vice-President Joe Biden gave for the Afghan dignitary at his residence. At the very least Karzai must have been bemused. In February, Biden had staged a dramatic walk-out halfway through a dinner at the Afghan president's palace after Karzai denied that his government was corrupt or that, if it was, he was at fault.



Despite the Obama administration's "red carpet treatment" and "charm offensive," Karzai was boldly honest at a joint press conference with Obama when he described Iran as "our bother country, our friend."



The same sentiments would soon be expressed by another leader -- in Brazil.



President da Silva Thumbs His Nose at Obama



Ever since assuming the presidency of Brazil in 2003, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva has, when necessary, not hesitated to challenge U.S. policy moves. He has clashed with Washington on world trade (the Doha round), global warming, and continuing U.S. sanctions against Cuba.



In December 2008, he chaired a meeting of 31 Latin American and Caribbean countries, which excluded the United States, at the Brazilian tourist resort of Sauipe. The next month, instead of going to the World Economic Forum at Davos, Switzerland, da Silva attended the Eighth World Social Forum at Belem at the mouth of the Amazon River.



He was critical of the way Obama compromised democracy in Honduras, and, despite the Obama administration's dismay and opposition, he invited Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to Brasilia in November 2009 for talks on the Iranian nuclear program, his first attempt at high-profile international diplomacy. (A week earlier he had warmly received Israeli president Shimon Peres in the Brazilian capital.) Six months later, he paid a return visit to Tehran -- and made history, much to the chagrin of Washington.



Acting in tandem with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, da Silva revived a putative October 2009 nuclear agreement and brokered an unexpected deal with Ahmadinejad. Iran agreed to ship 1,200 kilograms of its low-enriched uranium to Turkey; in return, Russia and France would provide 120 kilograms of 20% enriched uranium for a medical research reactor in Tehran.



Taken by surprise and rattled by the success of Brazil and Turkey in the face of American disapproval, the Obama administration reverted to the stance of the Bush White House and demanded that Iran suspend its program to enrich nuclear fuel. It then moved to push an agreement on further U.N. sanctions against Iran, as if the Brazilians and Turks had accomplished nothing.



This refusal to register reality was myopic at best. The blinkered view of the present White House ignores salient global facts. The influence of mid-level powers on the world stage is on the rise. Their leaders feel -- rightly -- that they can ignore or bypass the Obama administration's demands. And, on the positive side, they can come together on certain international issues and take diplomatic initiatives of their own with a fair chance of success.



By now, from Afghanistan to Honduras, Brazil to China, global leaders large and small increasingly sense that the Obama administration's bark is worse than its bite, and though the U.S. remains a major power, it is no longer the determinative one. The waning of the truncated American Century is by now irreversible.









Copyright © 2010 Dilip Hiro. Reprinted with permission from TomDispatch.com

Saturday, May 29, 2010

The Other Scandal: The Americorps IG Walpin Firing (Update)

From Fire Andrea Mitchell:

Another looming Obama scandal – Court accused of covering for Obama in ‘Walpingate’


I’ll say one thing about Obama and Chicago style politics. When things turn corrupt, they REALLY turn corrupt. This isn’t Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky, this (added to the illegal election influences) is a big f*cking deal to quote the eloquent Joe Biden. MAOist’s hubby Bob Bauer really has a full plate. According to WND, former Inspector General Gerald Walpin, whose dismissal by Obama last year has been challenged by congressmen as potentially illegal political retaliation, is now stepping up the battle to get his job back, accusing the judicial system of stalling his case and, thus, doing the White House a convenient favor. Court documents filed last week accuse U.S. District Court Judge Richard Roberts of failing to act within federally mandated time requirements and “doing nothing at all” to move the case forward.





Similarly, a joint congressional report by Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, and Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., which found the administration had failed to comply with requirements of the law and “orchestrated an after-the-fact smear campaign to justify the president’s action,” has been allowed to languish.



Meanwhile, “Walpingate” fades from the public memory, and the White House has moved on to appoint Walpin’s replacement, as though the scandal were resolved.



The advantage the White House gains by delays in the case hasn’t been lost on a recent Washington Times editorial, which calls for a halt to nomination of Jonathan Hatfield to Walpin’s old position:



“[Judge Roberts] has played into the hands of the Obama administration, which has used every possible stalling tactic to keep the case buried and its merits unexamined,” the editorial contends. “The goal, which is highly improper, seems to be to render Mr. Walpin’s case moot by putting Mr. Hatfield in his place.”



The editorial insists the integrity of the offices of inspector general is even more important for “an administration increasingly known for outlandish stonewalling of Congress and the press and for its Justice Department’s refusal to investigate any purported administration wrongdoing.”

Constituting America

From Charging Elephant:

Constituting America a path to helps us take our country Back


May 29, 2010 · Leave a Comment



Alright my friends this is the idea I’ve been alluding to in our comment section. This project has been put in motions so that a more educated electorate may be developed. It’s one thing to blame the schools for a revisionist history, yet another when a group of patriots have put all the information you will ever need to educate yourselves, kid and family members in one spot.



As you read the concept they have developed, please check the site. If you feel so compelled, please donate to the cause, they sent my a very nice gift, which I am forbidden to divulge. I’m still waiting for and autographed picture from Janine that is inscribed, Jim, you are a Rock Star, LOL. Hey I can dream can’t I? As soon as I get the final o.k. from them this will go up as a read for he examiner. A big P.S. please don’t miss the video of Janine’s daughter, their youth director, she is absolutely adorable. Rational thoughts on how to get out of the the national charade, I’m J.C.



Last December, actress Janine Turner and her business partner Cathy Gillespie came on-line with a web-based educational product to teach children at all levels about the history of our country that has been missing from their school curriculum. Many months went into to the design of their repository of knowledge.



They knew that to win America back we must start with our children, their teachers and start from very beginning. Their site at Constituting America provides a user-friendly location with all the needed tools to study the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, the Bill of Rights and the Federalist papers.



Beautifully conceived they have developed lesson plans that may be downloaded by teachers at any level. Participants are encouraged to write essays on their reading and understanding and are posted on their web page at Constituting America.



The entire project and website is designed so that any user with few computer skills can easily navigate and find source information, study materials and a special section on links, that provide access to virtually everything known about the topics at hand.



Juliette Turner, Janine’s daughter is the National youth director. In her capacity she runs the program for younger school children, those in middle school and high school. Contests involve submitting art work and drawings for the younger children, middle school children can write poems make up songs, while high school participants enter into essay contests and can make videos. There are neat prizes for each category.



Using a quote from Thomas Jefferson,

“If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be.”

They formed their mission statement.









Thus, the mission of Constituting America is based upon this principle: America will not and cannot survive unless her citizens, her children, and her students, are educated about the validity, necessity and Providential Divinity of the Constitution.



The Constitution should not be dismissed or relegated to obsolescence, for as surely as this is done, democracy will meet its demise. Knowledge of the contents of the Constitution and the values of our founding fathers is pivotal to enduring these challenging times.



A renewed, rekindled enthusiasm and a patriot’s desire for the understanding of our Constitution begins with its accessibility. Challenging the mindset of those who consider our Constitution to be antiquated is our mission. An enlightened America regarding her roots, her basis, and her thesis is the key to America’s pertinent survival. Americans have rights. Americans must have knowledge to understand them.



Constituting America’s mission is to reach, educate and inform the youth and all citizens through modern technology and modern means, because we must not let those who devalue freedom dominate the debate.

~ Janine Turner



Students, educators, and interested members of the community are encouraged to begin reading the Federalist Papers, just one a day. In doing so they begin to understand the huge concerns of our Founding Fathers as they developed the Declaration of Independence, The Bill of Rights and our Constitution.



A heads up to all moms and dads can you think of a better way to spend an evening with your children?

The Obamanation Holds Press Conference Without American Flag



from Fire Andrea Mitchell:


Barack Hussein Obama becomes the first U.S. President to hold press conference without any American Flags present


Here is yet another first for the “historic President.” One thing that few people noticed while Obama gave his press conference at the White House last week was missing. The American Flag! Progressive liberal’s can’t use the excuse of “lack of time in planning” because this press conference was known about nearly a week before it occured. Look at this picture





Picture from AIPNEWS



Behind him was just yellow curtains, and a couple of gold columns with chandeliers, but no American flag! A poster at Free Republic researched and looked at all photos of many press conferences (not press briefings) of past presidents. What the poster found was Obama is the only President to not have an American Flag or flags standing proudly behind or off to the side.





So, maybe there was another motive for the flags absence. We know Obama (or his handlers) carefully choreograph his image, his appearances… It’s why he’s so teleprompter-dependent. Surely he and his advisers know that flag issues have been a lightning rod — even before he was elected. I think this was deliberate. Could it be that Obama really is ashamed of America? Could it be that he thinks he is the citizen of the world which has no flag? Ladies and gentlemen this is very disturbing coming from the office of the Presidency. This is not normal to not have the symbol of the United States and its government in the east room of the White House and it is not very Presidential either. Many patriotic brave men and women have died under the stars and stripes called old glory. This fiasco coupled with the President skipping the laying of the Wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington Cemetary this Memorial Day speaks volumes of the man (or Usurper) that sits in the Oval Office. What say you?

The Other Scandal: The Americorps IG Walpin Firing

from Fire Andrea Mitchell:

The AmeriCorps/Walpin IG scandal that just wouldn’t go away (despite Obama’s wishing it would)


“We’re not there yet,” one Democratic source on Capitol Hill said last week, when asked about the prospect for hearings on the Obama administration’s firing of AmeriCorps inspector general Gerald Walpin. According to the American Spectator and The Other McCain:



Congressional investigators are still conducting interviews in the case, so the question of whether to “pull the trigger” on a full-blown inquiry — with subpoenas for witnesses to testify under oath at committee hearings — has yet to be decided.



The fact that both Democrats and Republicans are involved in investigating the Walpin dismissal is, however, highly significant. With Democrats controlling both houses of Congress, bipartisanship is absolutely necessary to getting the truth about the AmeriCorps case, as with the other cases in the smoldering “IG Gate” scandal.



Sensitive political considerations are involved, given the potential fallout from investigations into whether the Obama administration — which promised to be the most “transparent” in history — is trying to muzzle the independent watchdogs tasked with preventing waste, fraud and abuse in federal agencies.



In the span of barely a week, beginning with the White House’s quit-or-be-fired ultimatum to Walpin on June 10, two other inspectors general left their posts in what appears to be a pattern of administration pressure against IGs:



• International Trade Commission IG Judith Gwynne was told June 17 that her contract would not be renewed, shortly after Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) sent a letter to ITC asking about a March incident in which “certain procurement files were removed forcibly from the possession of the Inspector General by a Commission employee.” Grassley had also asked questions about the unusual arrangement in which Gwynne was employed by the ITC on a series of six-month temporary contracts, a situation scarcely conducive to the IG’s independence of agency authority.

The Euro: This Marriage Can't Be Saved

From The American Thinker:

May 29, 2010


The Euro: This Marriage Can't Be Saved

By Howard Richman, Raymond Richman, and Jesse Richman

At the time of the euro's launch in January 1999, Milton Friedman declared that the euro would not survive the first major European economic recession. He believed that the member nations would pursue their own fiscal policies, which would be inconsistent with a common monetary standard. The debt crisis in Greece shows just how right he was.





If the Southern European governments comply with "Le Tarpe's" requirement that they move their bloated government budgets toward balance in order to get loans, then their fall in government spending and increased taxes will move their economies into recession. If they don't comply with those conditions, then the effect will be even more pronounced. They will immediately have to balance their budgets, because few lenders will lend money to a government that is about to default.





Beyond causing a deep recession that will push down wages, Le Tarpe does little to address the underlying sources of Southern European debt -- the low savings rates and large trade deficits of these countries. As the following table shows, Greece, Portugal, and Spain displayed large trade deficits in 2008 and 2009, while Germany had trade surpluses. To pay for their imports, Spain, Greece, and Portugal borrowed. Now that the bill is coming due, Greece has no way to pay except through further borrowing.





Exports and Imports, selected countries



(Billions of U.S. Dollars)





Country

Year

Exports

Imports

Balance





Greece

2008

29.1

93.9

-64.8



2009

21.4

64.3

-42.9





Portugal

2008

56.4

87.8

-31.4



2009

41.4

58.8

-17.4





Spain

2008

285.9

415.5

-129.6



2009

215.7

293.2

-77.5





Germany

2008

1498

1232

266



2009

1121

931

190





Source: CIA, World Fact Book





If they don't want to go through a long recession, the Southern European countries could seek a divorce. They could default on their debts and pull out of the euro zone. Once out, they could let their currencies fall relative to the "mark"! With weaker currencies, they would become inexpensive tourist destinations with cheap labor that would also invite new factories, VWs, Mercedes, et al. They could let exchange rates and government printing presses adjust for their profligacy instead of forcing their workers to adjust directly through deep unemployment and wage concessions.





How the Greek Crisis Hurts the U.S.





Because uncertainty is keeping the euro weak, German goods have become less expensive and American goods more expensive in world markets. Not only will this reduce American exports to Europe, but it will also make German goods more competitive with American goods all over the world. To the extent that China and other mercantilist Asian countries are willing to allow imports at all, those imports will increasingly be European.





Like Greece, the U.S. has a chronic habit of insufficient saving and excessive spending. The euro crisis will exacerbate that problem. Foreign purchases of American goods will probably stagnate, while American purchases of foreign goods will probably increase. The result will be increased layoffs in the United States manufacturing sector and a further decline in investment in American manufacturing production.





The stock markets moved downward over the last month for a good reason. The weak euro threatens U.S. prosperity, especially given the unwillingness of the Obama administration to do anything meaningful to balance trade with China.





The authors maintain a blog at http://www.idealtaxes.com and co-authored the 2008 book, Trading Away Our Future: How to Fix Our Government-Driven Trade Deficits and Faulty Tax System Before it's Too Late, published by Ideal Taxes Association.