State of the Union

Tea Party Tory

Before the Tea Party philosophy is ever even tested in America, it will have succeeded, or it will have failed, in Great Britain.

For in David Cameron the Brits have a prime minister who can fairly be described as a Tea Party Tory. Casting aside the guidance of Lord Keynes — government-induced deficits are the right remedy for recessions — Cameron has bet his own and his party’s future on the new austerity. He is making Maggie Thatcher look like Tip O’Neill.

Two headlines Thursday testify that the Tories have seized the Tea Party banner. First was the headline in The Washington Times, “Tea Party Urges Drastic Cutting,” that carried a caveat subhead, “Economists Question If Move Is Wise at This Time.”

Second was the Financial Times banner, “UK Unveils Dramatic Austerity Cutbacks.” The FT story begins, “The U.K.’s conservative-led coalition has announced the most drastic budget cuts in living memory. …

“The sweeping cuts in entitlements and spending far exceed anything contemplated in the U.S., where Barack Obama … has proposed only a three-year freeze on discretionary spending and Congress is still debating whether to extend tax cuts for the wealthy.”

The Tory budget cuts defense 8 percent and military personnel by 7,000. Translated here, that would mean a cut of $60 billion and about 100,000 soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines.

By 2015, some 490,000 public-sector employees, 8 percent of the total, will lose their jobs. The rest will have their wages frozen for two years and face a 3-percent-of-salary hike in compulsory contributions to their pension program. The retirement age will rise from 65 to 66. Read More…

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With Allies Like These

This isn’t representative of course, but I wonder how marginal it is. It’s a sentiment you would have never heard voiced by the more  secular Zionists of two generations ago.  Now it’s at least part of the Israeli governing consensus.

Israeli Sephardic leader Rabbi Ovadia Yosef in his weekly Saturday night sermon said that non-Jews exist to serve Jews.

“Goyim were born only to serve us. Without that, they have no place in the world; only to serve the People of Israel,” he said during a public discussion of what kind of work non-Jews are allowed to perform on Shabbat.

“Why are gentiles needed? They will work, they will plow, they will reap. We will sit like an effendi and eat,” he said to some laughter.

Yosef, the spiritual leader of the Shas Party and the former chief Sephardi rabbi of Israel, also said that the lives of non-Jews are protected in order to prevent financial loss to Jews.

“With gentiles, it will be like any person: They need to die, but God will give them longevity. Why? Imagine that one’s donkey would die, they’d lose their money. This is his servant. That’s why he gets a long life, to work well for this Jew,” said the rabbi, who recently turned 90.

An audio recording of some of the rabbi’s remarks was broadcast on Israel’s Channel 10.

The American Jewish Committee condemned the rabbi’s remarks in a statement issued Monday.

“Rabbi Yosef’s remarks — suggesting outrageously that Jewish scripture asserts non-Jews exist to serve Jews — are abhorrent and an offense to human dignity and human equality,” said AJC Executive Director David Harris. “Judaism first taught the world that all individuals are created in the divine image, which helped form the basis of our moral code. A rabbi should be the first, not the last, to reflect that bedrock teaching of our tradition.”

http://jta.org/news/article/2010/10/18/2741341/rabbi-yosef-non-jews-exist-to-serve-jews

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The End of Multiculturalism

Is Europe’s adventure in international living about to end?

At Potsdam, Germany, this weekend, Chancellor Angela Merkel told the young conservatives of her Christian Democratic Union that Germany’s attempt to create a multicultural society where people “live side by side and enjoy each other” has “failed, utterly failed.”

Backing up her rueful admission are surveys showing 30 percent of Germans believe the country is overrun by foreigners. An equal number believe the foreigners come to feed off German welfare.

Merkel had in mind the Turks who came as gastarbeiters, guest workers, in the 1960s. Some 2.5 million now live in Germany.

Arabs and East Europeans have come more recently. One survey puts the Muslim population at 5 million.

“Multikulti is dead,” says Horst Seehofer of Merkel’s sister party, the Christian Social Union of Bavaria. He wants no more immigration from “alien cultures.” Turks and other Muslims are not learning the language, he contends, not assimilating, not becoming Germans.

Awareness of deep differences with Turkish neighbors became acute for Germans when, grieving in solidarity with America after 9/11, they learned that Turkish sectors of Berlin were celebrating Islam’s victory with barrages of bottle rockets.

Like all of Europe, Germany grows nervous.

This summer, Thilo Sarrazin, who sat on the Bundesbank board, published “Germany Abolishes Itself,” which sold 300,000 copies in seven weeks. Sarrazin argued that Germany’s Muslim population is intellectually inferior and unable or unwilling to learn the language or culture, and mass immigration is destroying the nation.

No rightist, but a stalwart of the socialist party, Sarrazin was forced out at the Bundesbank. Half his socialist party stood by him.

Across Europe, there is a resurgence of ethnonationalism that is feeding the ranks of populist and anti-immigrant parties that are gaining respectability and reaching for power. Read More…

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Going After Iran (Again)

Today’s Washington Post featured an editorial page attack on Iran which deserves a rebuttal.  The editorial denounces the visit made last week by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to southern Lebanon.  In a speech he said that the “Zionists will disappear” and “occupied Palestine will be liberated from the filth of the occupation by the power of the resistance…”  The Post regards the timing and venue for the comments as “suggestive” as the Shiite Hezbollah militia has a supply of thousands of missiles aimed at Israel, so “Tehran can use its client to trigger a new war in the Middle East at any time.”  This would be “a lesser form of the intimidation that it hopes to exercise around the region with an arsenal of nuclear weapons.”  The editorial concludes that Iran is demonstrating its ability to “intervene” in Lebanon and to disrupt any peace settlement between Israel and Palestine or Syria while “not giving up its ambition to exercise hegemony over the Middle East.”

Quite a lot to digest.  One does not have to be an apologist for Iran to note that the editorial is a whole lot of innuendo wrapped in speculation.  In reality, Iran has not attacked any neighbor or triggered any war either directly or by proxy while it has been Israel that has been doing all the attacking.  If Hezbollah uses the missiles it undoubtedly has it would be because it is attacked by Israel.  Most people would consider that defensive.  Israel is indeed occupying most of Palestine illegally and invoking the power of the resistance to drive them out is hardly wildly extreme language.  Saying the Zionists will disappear is far from a call to war no matter how it is mistranslated while the alleged ambition of Iran including nuclear weapons and a desire for dominance of the whole Middle East is unsupported by anything that we know or that is actually taking place.  But the most humorous line in the editorial has to be the reference to disrupting a possible “peace settlement” between Israel and the Palestinians.  Can even the Washington Post really believe that fantasy?  The Potemkin village peace talks are designed more to help Obama on November 2nd than to reach any agreement while it is clear that Israel wants peace only after the last settlement takes up the last remaining bit of Palestinian land.

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Revolt of the Pampered

For the fourth day running, France has been crippled by strikes. Airlines are canceling flights. Travelers making their way to Paris from DeGaulle and Orly face long delays.

Tourists are stranded. The Eiffel Tower was closed. Rail and subway traffic into the city has been curtailed. By shutting down refineries, French oil workers may cause a shutdown of gas stations and force the government to raid the strategic petroleum reserve.

Millions have gone on strike. One in 10 high schools has been closed. Students at secondary schools and universities march beside workers and block entrances to paralyze the educational system.

And what is the cause of this national tantrum?

President Nicolas Sarkozy has moved through the National Assembly and is pushing through the Senate a measure raising the retirement age for state pensions from 60 to 62.

For if France does not raise that retirement age, its social security system will face a $58 billion deficit by 2018. Sarkozy’s reform follows his victory in repealing a decade-old Socialist law that mandated the 35-hour workweek in France.

What world, one wonders, are these French living in?

Around 2050, those high school and college students will be near or above today’s retirement age of 60. Who do they think is going to pony up for their pensions? Are they not aware of what is coming for France and Europe?

Today, 23 percent of French men and women are 60 or older. That will rise to 33 percent by 2050, when there will be one French worker for each French retiree, if 60 is retained as the age of retirement.

Today, 5.5 percent of French men and women are 80 or older. By 2050, that doubles to 11 percent.

Who do the French strikers think is going to pay the taxes for the medical expenses of this infirm and aged ninth of a nation? Read More…

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Joseph Sobran, Antiwar Prophet, RIP

As America faces unending wars and bankrupting budgets as far as the eye can see, we are saddened by the death of one of our great patriots, Joseph Sobran. He tried to save America way back in 1990, when a newly triumphant Washington establishment, with communism in ruins, started the first of its now unending Middle East wars. Today few doubt that America has passed its apogee. The test of all great nations is when their empires start costing more than they benefit; few would doubt that America has now passed that turning point.

Sobran’s falling out with Buckley was not just because of Israel, as is often argued. Rather, it was Buckley’s joining (after communism’s collapse) with the Heritage Foundation and the Wall Street Journal‘s op-ed page in urging American imperialism (“spreading democracy,” as we call it nowadays). Bill then went on to give his magazine to the neoconservatives. Yet all our billions for bombs and bribes have had little success, in large part because America has lost the moral high ground we used to have. The collapse of communism actually weakened America, because now we are judged for our own actions, instead of as the bulwark of those fearing the anti-civilization of communism. Foreign nations’ middle classes no longer see America as their prime protector against being liquidated by Marxists. Hence they now no longer will accept our leadership, particularly in starting wars.

I first worked with Joe when we, together with Phil Nicolaides, founded in 1990 the Committee to Avert a Mideast Holocaust against Father Bush’s war on Iraq. Joe and Phil (former deputy director of the Voice of America and campaign manager for Jim Buckley’s and Phil Gramm’s senate campaigns) held a press conference in the National Press Club announcing the committee’s formation. I was abroad at a meeting of the Mt. Pelerin Society. Our little committee raised a real splash, and if we had had the Internet in those days might really have thwarted conservative support for the war. Pat Buchanan became our greatest spokesman. Other stellar giants of the Right included Henry Regnery, Ron Paul, Murray Rothbard, Lew Rockwell, John Chamberlain, Cato’s Bill Niskanen, Paul Gottfried, Sheldon Richman (editor of The Freeman), Justin Raimondo at Antiwar.com, and Burt Blumert. Our financial support was minuscule as we fought the mighty War Party. Our largest contributor was Henry Regnery. The dynamic Fran Griffin, our committee director, did yeoman’s work and also contributed her time and office for almost nothing. Fran later became Sobran’s publisher when she helped start his very respected newsletter, Sobran’s.

Joe was always fun, and his jokes made our meetings fun and added to our prestige. Ann Coulter wrote a very nice obituary quoting many of Joe’s aphorisms. One she did not mention was when Joe commented on Netanyahu’s address to a joint session of Congress. Joe compared it to Stalin’s old speeches to the Comintern, which were always followed by endless applause because no one dared to be seen as the first to stop clapping. Read More…

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Christie a bust on popular NJ medical marijuana program

Republicans, particularly Tea Partiers, have been going Cookoo for Christie. And why not — Gov. Chris Christie came into office this year and immediately began to deliver on his campaign pledge to tackle New Jersey’s $30 billion deficit. He froze spending with a state of emergency and then cut $10 billion from the state budget. A Republican player and fundraiser from way back, he has been aces in terms of campaigning for fellow Tea Party-endorsed candidates, and most recently on Saturday, won a 2012 presidential straw poll at the Virginia Tea Party Patriots Convention (one point more than Sarah Palin).

But constitution-minded Tea Partiers who have spent the last year railing against government overreach and state encroachment on civil liberties, should ask why a medical marijuana law that was enacted by a majority of New Jersey’s democratically elected legislature and supported overwhelmingly by its citizens, is being rewritten by Christie’s administration with what seems like a clear aim of smothering it in the crib. While liberty-loving voters inside and outside New Jersey are no doubt bedazzled by his willingness to cut taxes and hack away at public education funding, just as important is this recent impulse to wield state power like a sword, imposing his own framework fostered as a Bush-appointed U.S Attorney, on the will of the people.

From Charles Davis at Change.org:

On October 6th, Department of Health Commissioner Poonam Alaigh, a Christie-appointee, unveiled the state’s plan for implementing the medical marijuana program — and it has activists and the law’s authors outraged. While the law itself calls for six “alternative treatment centers” to be placed throughout the state, New Jersey’s draft regulations would allow just two of the centers to actually grow marijuana; just four would be allowed to distribute it. That means just one federal raid could potentially shut down the state’s entire medical marijuana distribution system, leaving patients who would be completely dependent on that system without access to their doctor-prescribed medication.

And that just might be the governor’s intent.

“The entire set of regulations seems to be a political move based on how restrictive you can make a medical marijuana program, rather than a reasonable set of regulations that follows the intent of the law,” activist Chris Goldstein of the Coalition for Medical Marijuana–New Jersey (CMMNJ) says in an interview with Change.org.

Beyond just limiting distribution, the Christie administration is subverting the law in several ways that have nothing to do with science but everything to do with discouraging participation in the program.

The law as enacted — and signed by former Gov. Jon Corzine in January — is already the toughest among the medical marijuana laws passed by 13 other states in recent years. Christie’s  heavy-handed modifications are most definitely a reflection of his aversion to it from the start. He already sought to delay the program’s implementation for a year. This might sound like minutes to Washington bureaucrats, but for a patient wasting away from AIDS or suffering from chemo-inducing nausea, it could very well be a lifetime.

Credit: NORML

Especially when you see the hoops he wants to put up just for a patient to get registered — it’s like a punishment in itself. The feds should be proud at how many disincentives he’s creating for the sick people who want an alternative to powerful prescription painkillers like Oxycotin and Percocet (New Jersey, by the way, is a leading manufacturer of both).

Whoever is involved in this new treatment process — the doctor writing the prescriptions, the caregivers assisting, dispensaries/growers and the patients themselves — had better expect all of the indignities of a bureaucracy designed to make every step more miserable and feel more like a trap. This is how it feels when the state is forced to deliver on a privilege it really doesn’t think you deserve.

Read More…

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Janet the Deporter

Is “Big Sis” one of us?

Janet Napolitano, secretary of homeland security — Big Sis to regular readers of the Drudge Report — held a press conference last week that might cause critics to reconsider their views.

Napolitano claims that in fiscal year 2010, ending Sept. 30, the Obama administration set a record for deportations of illegal aliens, 393,000, breaking the old record of 389,000 in 2009.

The 2010 deportations represent an increase of 81,000 over the number in George W. Bush’s final full year in office.

More important, half of the deportees, 195,772, had criminal arrests. Of these, one-third had committed serious felonies such as murder, rape and major drug offenses. If these figures are precise, Napolitano’s Department of Homeland Security ran the equivalent of five army divisions of criminal aliens out of the United States.

In making deportation decisions, said Napolitano, we focus on “removing those who pose public safety threats to our communities.”

Not only is this a fine record compared with the Bush administration, Napolitano’s priorities, criminals out first, are what immigration reformers have demanded for decades.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement audited 2,200 businesses to check for illegal immigrants. Criminal charges were brought against 180 employers.

Yet the report on Napolitano’s press conference was buried in The New York Times, which raises a question. Why has the White House not itself been boasting about this record? For this crackdown, of which Hispanic communities are surely aware, seems not to have dented Barack Obama’s popularity in the barrio. Read More…

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The Return of Sandy Berger

Normally the White House’s replacement of the National Security Advisor relates more to tone than substance, but the leadership shift from Marine General James Jones to Tom Donilon could have serious consequences.  The National Security Advisor’s first task is to moderate conflicting interests within the intelligence and security community to establish consensus responses to external threats. When genuine policy options emerge from that process he essentially becomes a gatekeeper who limits the choices for the president by weeding out approaches that will not work and prioritizing possible policies that should be considered.  That means that he or she pretty much sets the national security agenda since the president will normally choose from the selections made by the National Security Council, which the National Security Advisor heads.

General Jones was initially taken on by the Obama Administration because of his reputation as an independent thinker who would provide the best advice based on actual national security priorities.  He has done that and, together with Admiral Mike Mullen on the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has advised caution regarding possible conflict with Iran, placing him at odds with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.  Jones’ chemistry with Obama was also reported to be less than good.  Jones has been on everyone’s “next-to-go” list but he finally walked the plank when President Obama decided he needed someone who would be more sensitive to the political dimension of the job, meaning more willing to bend judgments on security to conform to political considerations.  This is characteristic of Democratic administrations, which frequently enter office labeled as “soft” on defense issues and then try to make up for it by appointing a leading general or someone from the national security apparatus to a key position.  They then become uncomfortable with that person and replace him with someone else who has no relevant experience but who understands the politics better.  Sandy Berger under Bill Clinton comes immediately to mind together with memories of bombs away over Serbia and barrages of cruise missiles blowing up Sudanese pharmaceutical factories and Afghan huts.  

Donilon, who has no actual experience in national security or foreign policy formulation apart from working on several staffs, is a lawyer by training and a Washington lobbyist.  His previous stint in government, before joining the Obama transition team, was at Fannie Mae. His brother and wife work respectively for Vice President Joe Biden and Biden’s wife.   When the change at NSC was announced, ABC News reported that during his stint as executive vice president at Fannie Mae “Donilon’s tactics reportedly included attacks on the agency responsible for policing Fannie Mae’s operations, the Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight, and an attempt to launch a separate investigation into OFHEO itself, according to a 2006 government report about Fannie Mae. Those efforts were ultimately unsuccessful, and regulators eventually discovered top Fannie Mae executives had been manipulating the company’s financial reporting to maximize their bonuses.”

Be that as it may, one might well question how a lawyer and lobbyist who worked at a government mortgage agency suddenly became qualified to be the United States government’s point man on national security.  It is somewhat reminiscent of the rapid ascent “by a set of curious chances” of the Lord High Executioner in “The Mikado.”  Donilon’s defenders note that he was one of the members of the National Security Council who resisted the increase in troops for Afghanistan, which is true.  But that is only half the story.  His resistance was due to concerns that there might be a political price to pay if the “surge” were to be unsuccessful.  Such parsing of security strategy based on political consequences could mean that starting wars will henceforth be part of the management of the US election cycle rather than as responses to genuine security threats.  Donilon will likely be willing to ratchet up the “Iranian threat” whenever it appears that the Obama administration needs to shore up its “strong on defense” credentials. It will be especially important to find a new enemy to blame for the upcoming decline and fall in Afghanistan, with Tehran filling the bill perfectly.

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Conservatives and Same-Sex Marriage: Columbia Will Explain

So why have social conservatives opposed same-sex marriage?  As usual, Columbia University Press is where to find clarity.  Here’s the summary of its new book, Ludger H. Viefhues-Bailey’s Between a Man and a Woman?: Why Conservatives Oppose Same-Sex Marriage.

“Focusing primarily on texts produced by Focus on the Family, a leading media and ministry organization informing conservative Christian culture, Viefhues-Bailey identifies two distinct ideas of male homosexuality: gender-disturbed and passive; and oversexed, strongly masculine, and aggressive. These homosexualities enable a complex ideal of Christian masculinity in which men are encouraged to be assertive toward the world while also being submissive toward God and family. This web of sexual contradiction influences the flow of power between the sexes and within the state. It joins notions of sexual equality to claims of ‘natural’ difference, establishing a fraught basis for respectable romantic marriage. Heterosexual union is then treated as emblematic of, if not essential to, the success of American political life—yet far from creating gender stability, these tensions produce an endless striving for balance. Viefhues-Bailey’s final, brilliant move is to connect the desire for stability to the conservative Christian movement’s strategies of political power.”

Thank goodness we don’t have to be confused about this anymore.

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