Your Daley Gator Anti-War-In-Syria Op-Ed Roundup

Unserious About Syria – Thomas Sowell

Why are we even talking about taking military action in Syria? What is that military action supposed to accomplish? And what is the probability that it will in fact accomplish whatever that unknown goal might be?

What is painfully clear from President Obama’s actions, inactions, and delays is that he is more or less playing by ear what specifically he is going to do, and when. He is telling us more about what he is not going to do – that he will not put “boots on the ground,” for example – than about what he will do.

All this is happening a year after issuing an ultimatum to the Bashar Assad regime in Syria against the use of chemical or biological weapons. When the president of the United States issues an ultimatum to another sovereign nation, he should know in advance what he is going to do if that ultimatum is rejected.

But that is not the way Barack Obama operates. Like so many people who are masters of lofty words, he does not pay nearly as much attention to mundane realities. Campaigning is his strong suit. Governing is not.

With the mainstream media ready to ooh and aah over his rhetoric, and pass over in silence his policy disasters as president, Obama is home free as far as domestic politics is concerned. But, on the world stage, neither America’s enemies nor her allies are hypnotized by his words or his image.

Nations that have to decide whether to ally themselves with us or with our enemies understand that they are making life-and-death decisions. It is not about rhetoric, image, or symbolism. It is about whether nations can count on the realism, wisdom, and dependability of the American government.

Make no mistake about it, Barack Obama is a very clever man. But cleverness is not wisdom, or even common sense.

When he was in the Senate, Obama – along with Senators Joe Biden, Chuck Hagel, and Hillary Clinton – was critical of the Bush administration for not being favorable to the Assad regime.

Hillary Clinton said that she and other lawmakers who visited Assad considered him a “reformer.” Back in 2007, when Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice appeared before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, both Senator Biden and Senator Hagel chided her for not being more ready to negotiate with Assad.

Senator John Kerry in 2009 said, “Syria is an essential player in bringing peace and stability to the region.”

Some people said that having Joe Biden as vice president meant that President Obama had someone with many years of foreign-policy experience. What they ignored was that Biden had decades of experience being wrong on foreign-policy issues time and time again.

Biden opposed President Ronald Reagan’s military buildup that countered the Soviet Union’s buildup and helped bring about both the end of the Cold War and the end of the Soviet Union. General David Petraeus’s “surge” strategy that greatly reduced the terrorist attacks in Iraq was opposed in 2007 by Senator Biden, who said, “We need to stop the surge and start to get our troops out.”

Senator Hillary Clinton not only opposed the surge from the outset, she was among those who refused to believe that it had succeeded, even after all the hard evidence had convinced most other people.

The grim reality is that the people in key positions to shape our foreign policy during the Obama administration – the president, the vice president, two secretaries of state, and the current secretary of defense – all have a track record of grossly misconceiving the issues, our enemies, and our national interest.

This is the administration that is now asking for a blank check from Congress to take unspecified military action to achieve unspecified goals. “Military action” is a polite phrase for killing people. It would be nice to believe that this has some purpose other than saving Barack Obama from political embarrassment after he issued an ultimatum without having thought through what he would do if that ultimatum was ignored.

He has the authority to take military action if he wants to. The question is whether he can sucker the Republicans into giving him political cover by pre-approving his unknown actions and unknown goals.

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Clear-Cut Stupidity On Syria – Jonah Goldberg

‘The genius of you Americans,” the Arab-nationalist and one-time president of Egypt, Gamal Abdel Nasser, once explained, “is that you never make clear-cut stupid moves, only complicated stupid moves which make us wonder at the possibility that there may be something to them which we are missing.”

I’ve long taken patriotic pride in such statements of befuddlement from foreigners. America is a gloriously complicated thing. We often confuse our national creeds for universal principles. We are a Jacksonian people (that’s Andrew Jackson, in case you were wondering) in love with Jeffersonian ideals and legalistically committed to Madisonian mechanisms. Like a guard dog that would rather not leave the porch, we are quick to anger but not necessarily quick to fight, and we are just as eager to forgive.

So from the vantage point of foreign brutes, bullies, and buffoons, it’s understandable that America’s methods could be confused for stupidity. This is why I love the old expression, “America can choke on a gnat, but swallow a tiger whole.”

So I am trying very hard to hold onto this perspective as I watch the president of the United States behave in a way you don’t have to be a pan-Arab autocrat to think is incredibly stupid.

Where to begin? Perhaps with Obama’s initial refusal to support the moderate rebels seeking to overthrow Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad, a puppet of Iran and bagman for Hezbollah. Or we might start with Obama’s refusal to support the Green Movement in Iran, which sought to overthrow the Iranian regime, which would have been a triumph for both our principles and our national interests.

These were odd choices, particularly given his decision to help depose Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi, an indisputably evil man, but also a dictator who posed no threat, who abided by our demands to relinquish WMDs, and whose domestic death toll was a tiny fraction of Assad’s.

“We cannot stand idly by when a tyrant tells his people there will be no mercy… where innocent men and women face brutality and death at the hands of their own government” was Obama’s justification for an attack on Libya – without congressional approval. But when Assad killed tenfold as many men, women, and children, Obama refused to act for nearly two years. And when he finally decided it was imperative to attack Assad – after the dictator crossed a chemical-weapons “red line” drawn by Obama himself – he suddenly discovered the need for congressional authorization.

Sort of.

Obama doesn’t believe he needs authorization from Congress to strike Syria, he just wants it. He’s like a kid desperate for a prom date, but too vain to admit it. In Libya, Obama had the U.N. and NATO on each arm, so he didn’t bother with asking the dog on Capitol Hill for a date. But now, faced with the prospect of going it alone, he’s in effect telling Congress, “Hey, it’s not like I need your company, but you’d be crazy not to go to war with me.”

Whoops. As even Nancy Pelosi’s own grandkid now knows, we mustn’t call it a war. “The president is not asking you to go to war,” Secretary of State John Kerry told Congress. He’s merely asking them to authorize a sustained cruise-missile attack on military installations to “degrade” the regime’s “capabilities.”

But, according to Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman General Martin Dempsey, no one has asked the military to do anything that might change the “momentum” of the Syrian civil war. This is like saying you’re going to attack a runaway car barreling toward a crowd of kids, but do nothing to actually, you know, slow it down. What good does it do to trash the radio and rip out the cup holders on an out-of-control car?

Meanwhile, according to numerous accounts, Assad is moving military assets into civilian areas and civilians into military areas, even as the Obama administration insists it makes no difference militarily to wait for Congress to debate. That’s not just stupid; it’s an outright lie that will be fact-checked with blood.

I understand the attraction the buddy system has for a man who, as a state legislator, perfected the art of voting “present” on hard questions. But it’s hard to see this as anything other than rank political cowardice.

The buck stopped with Truman. For Obama, the buck is kryptonite.

In Stockholm on Wednesday, the president said that the credibility of the world, America, Congress, and the international community is on the line. Everybody is on the hook for his red line, except for the one person who actually drew it.

I’d love to see the genius in that argument, but it looks like clear-cut stupidity to me.

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Community Organizer Goes To War – Ann Coulter

Oh, how I long for the days when liberals wailed that “the rest of the world” hated America, rather than now, when the rest of the world laughs at us.

With the vast majority of Americans opposing a strike against Syria, President Obama has requested that Congress vote on his powers as commander in chief under the Constitution. The president doesn’t need congressional approval to shoot a few missiles into Syria, nor – amazingly – has he said he’ll abide by such a vote, anyway.

Why is Congress even having a vote? This is nothing but a fig leaf to cover Obama’s own idiotic “red line” ultimatum to President Bashar al-Assad of Syria on chemical weapons. The Nobel Peace Prize winner needs to get Congress on the record so that whatever happens, the media can blame Republicans.

No Republican who thinks seriously about America’s national security interests – by which I mean to exclude John McCain and Lindsey Graham – can support Obama’s “plan” to shoot blindly into this hornet’s nest.

It would be completely different if we knew with absolute certainty that Assad was responsible for chemical attacks on his own people. (I’m still waiting to see if it was a Syrian upset about a YouTube video.)

It would be different if instead of killing a few hundred civilians, Assad had killed 5,000 civilians with poison gas in a single day, as well as tens of thousands more with chemical weapons in the past few decades.

It would be different if Assad were known to torture his own people, administer summary executions, rapes, burnings and electric shocks, often in front of the victim’s wife or children.

It would be different if Assad had acted aggressively toward the United States itself, perhaps attempting to assassinate a former U.S. president or giving shelter to terrorists who had struck within the U.S. – someone like Maj. Nidal Hasan, the Fort Hood terrorist.

It would be different if Assad were stirring up trouble in the entire Middle East by, for example, paying bounties to the families of suicide bombers in other countries.

It would also be different if we could be sure that intervention in Syria would not lead to a multi-nation conflagration.

It would be different if we knew that any action against Syria would not put al-Qaida or the Muslim Brotherhood in power, but rather would result in a functioning, peaceful democracy.

And it would be different if an attack on Syria would so terrify other dictators in the region that they would instantly give up their WMDs – say, Iran abandoning its nuclear program.

If all of that were true, this would be a military intervention worth supporting!

All of that was true about Iraq, but the Democrats hysterically opposed that war. They opposed it even after all this was known to be true – indeed, especially after it was known to be true! The loudest opponent was Barack Obama.

President Saddam Hussein of Iraq had attempted to assassinate former president George H.W. Bush. He gave shelter to Abdul Rahman Yasin, a conspirator in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. He paid bounties to the families of suicide bombers in Israel.

Soon after Bush invaded Iraq in 2003, Libya’s Moammar Gadhafi was so terrified of an attack on his own country, he voluntarily relinquished his WMDs – which turned out to be far more extensive than previously imagined.

Al-Qaida not only did not take over Iraq, but got its butt handed to it in Iraq, where the U.S. and its allies killed thousands of al-Qaida fighters, including the leader of al-Qaida in Iraq, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. Iraq became the first genuine Arab democracy, holding several elections and presiding over a trial of Saddam Hussein.

Does anyone imagine that any of this would result from an Obama-led operation in Syria? How did his interventions work out in Egypt and Libya?

As for chemical weapons – the casus belli for the current drums of war – in a matter of hours on March 16, 1988, Saddam Hussein slaughtered roughly 5,000 Kurdish civilians in Halabja with mustard, sarin and VX gas. The victims blistered, vomited or laughed hysterically before dropping dead. Thousands more would die later from the after-effects of these poisons.

Saddam launched nearly two dozen more chemical attacks on the Kurds, resulting in at least 50,000 deaths, perhaps three times that many. That’s to say nothing of the tens of thousands of Iranians Saddam killed with poison gas. Indeed, in making the case against Assad recently, Secretary of State John Kerry said his use of chemical weapons put him in the same league as “Adolf Hitler and Saddam Hussein.”

Not even close – but may we ask why Kerry sneered at the war that removed such a monster as Hussein?

There were endless United Nations reports and resolutions both establishing that Saddam had used chemical weapons and calling on him to give them up. (For the eighth billionth time, we did find chemical weapons in Iraq, just no “stockpiles.” Those had been moved before the war, according to Saddam’s own general, Georges Sada – to Syria.)

On far less evidence, our current president accuses Assad of using chemical weapons against a fraction of the civilians provably murdered with poison gas by Saddam Hussein. So why did Obama angrily denounce the military operation that removed Hussein? Why did he call that a “war of choice”?

Obama says Assad – unlike that great statesman Saddam Hussein – has posed “a challenge to the world.” But the world disagrees. Even our usual ally, Britain, disagrees. So Obama demands the United States act alone to stop a dictator, who – compared to Saddam – is a piker.

At this point, Assad is at least 49,000 dead bodies short of the good cause the Iraq War was, even if chemical weapons had been the only reason to take out Saddam Hussein.

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Say No On Syria – Dick Morris

Congress should reject President Obama’s appeal for authorization to attack Syria in retaliation for its alleged use of chemical weapons.

Just as state Sen. Barack Obama opposed the use of force resolution against Saddam Hussein in 2002, Congress should turn aside the president’s appeal to attack now that his particular “red line” has been crossed in Syria. If he was against drawing the line against Hussein, what is the need to draw the line with Bashar Assad?

In “The Great Deformation,” former Budget Director David Stockman writes eloquently about the costs of a “welfare” and a “warfare” state, noting that they both drain our national economy – the warfare state particularly. With our economy trembling on the brink of a major crash, in the opinion of many economists, this is no time for another expensive military operation.

Above all, it is wrong to commit our nation’s military to a confused and contradictory conflict. How can we fight when The Wall Street Journal attributes to a Pentagon official the fear that “the wrong groups in the opposition would be able to take advantage of [an American bombing campaign]?” He said that the administration did not want to topple Assad from power – just to punish him for using gas.

This kind of half-in, half-out mission is exactly the kind of intervention we must avoid. It creates its own momentum and leads to ever greater involvement, regardless of the initial intent.

Former Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) has said that we would become “al Qaeda’s airforce” should we attack Assad. The evidence is overwhelming that al Qaeda is the alternative to Assad in Syria. The illusion of a liberal, democratic alternative is as ephemeral in Syria as it has proven to be in Egypt. In bombing Assad, we would inevitably become involved on the wrong side of a civil war. Not that Assad is the right side; there is no right side, and we should stay out.

Why is the president asking for congressional approval of his intervention? Is it a sudden concern for the limitations of executive power? Or is it a desire to use the gas episode to get a Gulf of Tonkin-style open-ended OK for intervention in this civil war? Could it be related to his desire to appease the Saudi monarchy by backing the rebels that Riyadh desperately wants to win?

We must all step back, at this juncture, and question what five decades of war have accomplished. Vietnam was, unquestionably, a total waste of men, money and political credibility. We lost, and we would have accomplished nothing had we won. The fall of the Soviet Empire would not have been hastened one day by defeat or advanced one day by victory. The war between China and Vietnam within years of the end of U.S. involvement showed how flawed the domino theory really was.

The first Gulf War, obviously, achieved nothing. It left Hussein in power and we had to go in again. The second Gulf War is increasingly appearing to be destructive in its impact. We seem to have succeeded only in giving Iran a staunch ally in the Middle East. The recent killing of 52 Iranian dissidents in Camp Ashraf – the sanctuary we established for opponents of the Ayatollah – reportedly by Iraqi forces, shows how flawed our involvement was.

The Afghan War has degraded al Qaeda’s ability to fight, but the broader effort at nation-building has only really propped up a regime that non-governmental organization Transparency International rates as the second most corrupt on Earth.

Libya? The jury is still out, but the activity of al Qaeda there, as evidenced by the Benghazi raid, indicates it may have a similarly disappointing outcome.

It is plainly time to say no. It is time to heed the warning of President Eisenhower against limited wars, unbalanced budgets and the military industrial complex.

Syria is, indeed, the time to draw a red line. But the line should be against military adventures.

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Why Many Republicans Won’t Support Obama On Syria Attack – Byron York

Early signs say it will be hard for President Obama to win congressional authorization for military action in Syria. That could change; lawmakers might re-write the president’s draft authorization into something they can live with, ultimately allowing Obama to go forward. But whatever happens, Republicans have a compelling case for rejecting the president’s request. Based on off-the-record conversations with some of them, this is it:

1) The chemical weapons evidence. The Obama administration appears to believe that conclusive proof that the Assad regime used chemical weapons against Syrian civilians creates an unassailable case for U.S. intervention. A few lawmakers will likely challenge whether the proof is really conclusive. But a far larger number will accept the evidence that Assad used chemical weapons – and still reject intervention.

Those lawmakers will argue that Obama did not intervene when Assad used conventional weapons to slaughter thousands of innocent people; the death toll in the two-and-and-half-year civil war is put at 100,000. What is different now? They will also point to the various atrocities and human rights violations around the world in which the United States has not intervened. American involvement, they will argue, should be contingent on a genuine U.S. national security interest, not the simple fact that an awful thing has been done.

2) The blank check problem. Lots of lawmakers, Republican and Democrat, believe Obama’s draft resolution gives the president too much power. The draft would grant Obama the authority to use armed force “as he determines to be necessary and appropriate” in connection with weapons of mass destruction in Syria, for the purpose of preventing the future use or spread of those weapons, or, more generally, protecting the U.S. and its allies.

For many lawmakers, that’s too broad a mandate. But a significant number of members might reject even a narrowed version of the resolution on the grounds that, once the use of force is authorized, Congress as a practical matter will have little control over how the president exercises it.

3) The nature of the Syrian opposition. Many Republicans will never be convinced the U.S. can come to the aid of good rebels in Syria without also helping bad rebels in Syria. It’s just too complicated, they believe, and there are simply too many bad guys. Why risk aiding al Qaeda or its affiliates? These Republicans remain unconvinced by arguments from fellow GOP lawmakers like John McCain, who point out that in the Libyan operation the U.S. essentially set up a safe area for good rebels in Benghazi. Given what happened later in that Libyan city, the skeptics will remain unconvinced.

4) The lack of confidence in Barack Obama. There’s no doubt the president has been extremely reluctant to take action in Syria. He also showed terrible judgment by painting himself into a corner with his 2012 “red line” comments on chemical weapons. For those reasons, and more, some Republicans will argue that they simply cannot entrust special warmaking powers to a president who they believe is not competent to use them.

5) The “first to die” dilemma. Some Republicans are so war-weary that they would be loathe to authorize any military action in the absence of an actual attack on the United States. When Sen. Rand Paul re-phrased John Kerry’s words from Vietnam – Kerry famously asked, “How do you ask a man to be the last to die for a mistake?” which Paul changed to “How do you ask a man to be the first to die for a mistake?” – the senator from Kentucky was signaling that there is virtually no way lawmakers like him will ever support a Syrian initiative.

How many Republicans hold some or all of these beliefs? Quite a few. Perhaps in anticipation of a close vote, a new argument is circulating among pro-interventionists which says that protecting the prerogatives of future presidents is so important that Republicans should support Obama’s Syrian action even if there is no good case for doing so.

Rejecting Obama could permanently weaken the presidency, argues political scientist James Ceaser in an article cited by influential conservative commentator William Kristol. Therefore, Republicans should vote to authorize force “even if they think that the president’s policy will prove ineffective, do no good, waste money, or entail unforeseen risks…even if they think he has gotten the nation into this situation by blunders, fecklessness, arrogance, or naiveté; and…even if, and especially, if they have no confidence in his judgment.”

That will be a very hard sell for Republicans. In the end, many will carefully consider all the evidence and then vote their instincts. And that will mean a vote against Barack Obama.

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Unless He’s Serious, Vote No – Charles Krauthammer

Sen. Bob Corker: “What is it you’re seeking?”

Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff: “I can’t answer that, what we’re seeking.”

- Senate hearing on the use of force in Syria, Sept. 3

We have a problem. The president proposes attacking Syria, and his top military officer cannot tell you the objective. Does the commander in chief know his own objective? Why, yes. “A shot across the bow,” explained Barack Obama.

Now, a shot across the bow is a warning. Its purpose is to say: Cease and desist, or the next shot will sink you. But Obama has already told the world – and Bashar al-Assad in particular – that there will be no next shot. He has insisted time and again that the operation will be finite and highly limited. Take the shot, kill some fish, go home.

What then is the purpose? Dempsey hasn’t a clue, but Secretary of State John Kerry says it will uphold and proclaim a norm and thus deter future use of chemical weapons. With a few Tomahawk missiles? Hitting sites that, thanks to the administration having leaked the target list, have already been scrubbed of important military assets?

This is risible. If anything, a pinprick from which Assad emerges unscathed would simply enhance his stature and vindicate his conduct.

Deterrence depends entirely on perception, and the perception in the Middle East is universal: Obama wants no part of Syria.

Assad has to go, says Obama, and then lifts not a finger for two years. Obama lays down a “red line,” and then ignores it. Shamed finally by a massive poison gas attack, he sends Kerry to make an impassioned case for righteous and urgent retaliation – and the very next day, Obama undermines everything by declaring an indefinite timeout to seek congressional approval.

This stunning zigzag, following months of hesitation, ambivalence, contradiction and studied delay, left our regional allies shocked and our enemies gleeful. I had strongly advocated going to Congress. But it was inconceivable that, instead of recalling Congress to emergency session, Obama would simply place everything in suspension while Congress finished its Labor Day barbecues and he flew off to Stockholm and St. Petersburg. So much for the fierce urgency of enforcing an international taboo and speaking for the dead children of Damascus.

Here’s how deterrence works in the Middle East. Syria, long committed to the destruction of Israel, has not engaged Israel militarily in 30 years. Why? Because it recognizes Israel as a serious adversary with serious policies.

This year alone, Israel has four times conducted airstrikes in Syria. No Syrian response. How did Israel get away with it? Israel had announced that it would not tolerate Assad acquiring or transferring to Hezbollah advanced weaponry. No grandiloquent speeches by the Israeli foreign minister. No leaked target lists. Indeed, the Israelis didn’t acknowledge the strikes even after they had carried them out. Unlike the American president, they have no interest in basking in perceived toughness. They care only about effect. They care about just one audience – the party to be deterred, namely Assad and his allies.

Assad knows who did it. He didn’t have to see the Israeli prime minister preening about it on world television.

And yet here is Obama, having yet done nothing but hesitate, threaten, retract and wander about the stage, claiming Wednesday in Sweden to be the conscience of the world, upholding not his own red line but the world’s. And, incidentally, Congress’s – a transparent attempt at offloading responsibility.

What should Congress do?

To his dovish base, Obama insists on how limited and militarily marginal the strike will be. To undecided hawks such as Sens. John McCain and Lindsey Graham, who are prepared to support a policy that would really alter the course of the civil war, he vaguely promises the opposite – to degrade Assad’s military while upgrading that of the resistance.

Problem is, Obama promised U.S. weaponry three months ago and not a rifle has arrived. This time around, what seems in the making is a mere pinprick, designed to be, one U.S. official told the Los Angeles Times, “just muscular enough not to get mocked.”

That’s why Dempsey is so glum. That’s why U.S. allies are so stunned. There’s no strategy, no purpose here other than helping Obama escape self-inflicted humiliation.

This is deeply unserious. Unless Obama can show the country that his don’t-mock-me airstrike is, in fact, part of a serious strategic plan, Congress should vote no.

John McCain changed the administration’s authorization resolution to include, mirabile dictu, a U.S. strategy in Syria: to alter the military equation (against Assad). Unfortunately, Obama is not known for being bound by what Congress passes (see, for example: health care, employer mandate).

When Obama tells the nation what he told McCain and Lindsey Graham in private – that he plans to degrade Assad’s forces, upgrade the resistance and alter the balance of forces – Congress might well consider authorizing the use of force. But until then, it’s no.

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An Accidental War – Mark Steyn

I see the Obama “reset” is going so swimmingly that the president is now threatening to go to war against a dictator who gassed his own people. Don’t worry, this isn’t anything like the dictator who gassed his own people that the discredited warmonger Bush spent 2002 and early 2003 staggering ever more punchily around the country inveighing against. The 2003 dictator who gassed his own people was the leader of the Baath Party of Iraq. The 2013 dictator who gassed his own people is the leader of the Baath Party of Syria. Whole other ball of wax. The administration’s ingenious plan is to lose this war in far less time than we usually take. In the unimprovable formulation of an unnamed official speaking to the Los Angeles Times, the White House is carefully calibrating a military action “just muscular enough not to get mocked.”

That would make a great caption for a Vanity Fair photo shoot of Obama gamboling in the surf at Martha’s Vineyard, but as a military strategy it’s not exactly Alexander the Great or the Duke of Wellington. And it’s trickier than it sounds: I’m sure Miley’s choreographer assured her she was “just muscular enough not to get mocked,” and one wouldn’t want to see the United States reduced to twerking arrhythmically to no avail in front of an unimpressed Bashar Assad’s Robin Thicke. Okay, okay, that metaphor’s as thinly stretched as Miley’s talent, so what does unmockable musculature boil down to? From the New York Times: “A wide range of officials characterize the action under consideration as ‘limited,’ perhaps lasting no more than a day or two.”

Yeah, I know, that’s what Edward III said about the Hundred Years’ War. But Obama seems to mean it:

An American official said that the initial target lists included fewer than 50 sites, including air bases where Syria’s Russian-made attack helicopters are. The list includes command and control centers as well as a variety of conventional military targets. Perhaps two to three missiles would be aimed at each site.

Got that? So, if you’re a Syrian air-base commander, you might want to think about moving those Russian helicopters, or at least yourself – perhaps to that black-eyed cutie’s apartment, above the restaurant where the kibbeh with the pomegranate sauce is to die for, just for the night, until the Great Satan has twerked his ordnance at you twice or thrice and gone away to threaten the Yemenis or Somalis or whoever’s next.

In the world’s most legalistic culture, it was perhaps inevitable that battle plans would eventually be treated under courtroom discovery rules and have to be disclosed to the other side in your pre-war statement. But in this case it doesn’t seem to be impressing anyone. Like his patrons in Tehran and Moscow, Assad’s reaction to American threats is to double up with laughter and say, “Bring it, twerkypants.” Headline from Friday’s Guardian in London: “Syria: ‘Napalm’ Bomb Dropped on School Playground, BBC Claims” – which, if true, suggests that even a blood-soaked mass murderer is not without a sense of humor. Napalm, eh? There’s a word I haven’t heard since, oh, 40 years ago or thereabouts, somewhere in the general vicinity of southeast Asia.

The BBC footage is grisly; the British media have been far more invested in the Syrian civil war than their U.S. colleagues. But what’s the net effect of all the harrowing human-interest stories? This week, David Cameron recalled Parliament from its summer recess to permit the people’s representatives to express their support for the impending attack. Instead, for the first time since the British defeat at Yorktown in 1782, the House of Commons voted to deny Her Majesty’s Government the use of force. Under the Obama “reset,” even the Coalition of the Willing is unwilling. “It’s clear to me that the British Parliament and the British people do not wish to see military action,” said the prime minister. So the Brits are out, and, if he goes at all, Obama will be waging war without even Austin Powers’s Union Jack fig leaf.

“This House will not fight for king and country”? Not exactly. What the British people are sick of, quite reasonably enough, is ineffectual warmongering, whether in the cause of Blairite liberal interventionism or of Bush’s big-power assertiveness. The problem with the American way of war is that, technologically, it can’t lose, but, in every other sense, it can’t win. No one in his right mind wants to get into a tank battle or a naval bombardment with the guys responsible for over 40 percent of the planet’s military expenditures. Which is why these days there aren’t a lot of tank battles. The consummate interventionist Robert Kagan wrote in his recent book that the American military “remains unmatched.” It’s unmatched in the sense that the only guy in town with a tennis racket isn’t going to be playing a lot of tennis matches. But the object of war, in Liddell Hart’s famous distillation, is not to destroy the enemy’s tanks (or Russian helicopters) but his will. And on that front America loses, always. The “unmatched” superpower cannot impose its will on Kabul kleptocrats, Pashtun goatherds, Egyptian generals, or Benghazi militia. There is no reason to believe Syria would be an exception to this rule. America’s inability to win ought to be a burning national question, but it’s not even being asked.

Let us stipulate that many of those war-weary masses are ignorant and myopic. But at a certain level they grasp something that their leaders don’t: For a quarter-century, from Kuwait to Kosovo to Kandahar, the civilized world has gone to war only in order to save or liberate Muslims. The Pentagon is little more than central dispatch for the U.S. military’s Muslim Fast Squad. And what do we have to show for it? Liberating Syria isn’t like liberating the Netherlands: In the Middle East, the enemy of our enemy is also our enemy. Yes, those BBC images of schoolchildren with burning flesh are heart-rending. So we’ll get rid of Assad and install the local branch of al-Qaeda or the Muslim Brotherhood or whatever plucky neophyte democrat makes it to the presidential palace first – and then, instead of napalmed schoolyards, there will be, as in Egypt, burning Christian churches and women raped for going uncovered.

So what do we want in Syria? Obama can’t say, other than for him to look muscular without being mocked, like a camp bodybuilder admiring himself in the gym mirror.

Oh, well. If the British won’t be along for the ride, the French are apparently still in. What was the old gag from a decade ago during those interminable U.N. resolutions with Chirac saying “Non!” every time? Ah, yes: “Going to war without the French is like going hunting without an accordion.” Oddly enough, the worst setback for the Islamic imperialists in recent years has been President Hollande’s intervention in Mali, where, unlike the money-no-object Pentagon, the French troops had such undernourished supply lines that they had to hitch a ride to the war on C-17 transports from the Royal Air Force and Royal Canadian Air Force. And yet they won – insofar as anyone ever really wins on that benighted sod.

Meanwhile, the hyperpower is going to war because Obama wandered off prompter and accidentally made a threat. So he has to make good on it, or America will lose its credibility. But he only wants to make good on it in a perfunctory and ineffectual way. So America will lose its credibility anyway.

Maybe it’s time to learn the accordion…

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5 Reasons Not To Bomb Syria – John Hawkins

Barack Obama knows that America’s military is a big stick, but unfortunately Roosevelt’s advice about speaking softly doesn’t seem to have stuck. Because Barack Obama recklessly shot off his mouth about a “red line” in Syria, he’s demanding that our nation insert itself into a civil war between terrorist groups, both of which have chemical weapons, to protect his ego. Happily, the American people recognize what a foolish move this would be. A Reuters/Ipsos poll shows that only 9% of Americans currently support bombing Syria. This is why Barack Obama has punted his Syrian War to Congress. He’s hoping that it’ll be foolish enough to vote in favor of war to give him the political cover he needs to bomb. Not only should Congress vote against the war in Syria, if Obama bombs that country anyway, Congress should immediately cut off funds for the war and move to impeach him. Why?

1) We don’t have a son-of-a-b*tch in Syria. During the Cold War, America used to semi-regularly ally itself with some rather unsavory leaders and groups. The oft repeated rationale for supporting a dictator in those days was, “He may be a son-of-a-b*tch, but he’s our son-of-a-bitch.” In other words, both sides are bad guys, but this bad guy would work with us instead of the Soviets. In this case, we don’t have a dog in the fight. It’s a civil war between two groups that both despise us and will continue to hate us. Why risk American blood and treasure for people who will hate our guts no matter what we do?

2) Why act as Al-Qaeda’s Air Force? Barack Obama is not the sharpest knife in the drawer, but even he should know that Al-Qaeda attacked America on 9/11. Well now, Bin Laden’s boys are teamed up with the rebels that are fighting Bashar al-Assad. We just spent a decade killing as many members of Al-Qaeda as humanly possible in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan; so how much sense does it make for Barack Obama to help Al-Qaeda take over Syria by bombing Bashar al-Assad? Bashar al-Assad may be our enemy, but we should be thrilled he’s killing Al-Qaeda and getting more of his terrorist pals in Hezbollah offed in the process.

3) What makes anyone think Obama can pull this off with no repercussions? What is there in Barack Obama’s tenure in the White House that makes anyone think he’s likely to handle this well? The fact that he didn’t kill a drone program George W. Bush set up? Because he was too distracted playing cards with Reggie Love to screw up killing Osama Bin Laden? Bush essentially won Iraq and Obama screwed up pulling out of that country and has put a hard-earned victory at risk. He’s also on track to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory in Afghanistan. His incompetence got Americans killed in Benghazi, Libya. In Egypt, Obama helped get rid of a relatively friendly dictator in favor of anti-American, pro-terrorist theocrats who lasted just over a year before they were thrown out of power by an Egyptian public that seems to hate Obama almost as much as the Muslim Brotherhood. Yet, we now think Obama is going to insert himself into a terrorist-heavy civil war in the Middle East without creating as many problems as he solves? That’s like emptying a box of live spiders in a teenage girl’s slumber party and not expecting any screaming.

4) It invites retaliation from Iran and Hezbollah. Many conservatives believe that if we have a choice between bombing Iran or letting it acquire nuclear weapons, we’d be better off to bomb Iran. However, that is supposed to be a last resort after every other measure has failed. Given that Iran and Hezbollah are actively supporting Bashar al-Assad, bombing him means actively opposing both of them in a war. Could they retaliate against us with terrorist attacks? That’s certainly possible. Will they go after Israel to get at us? That’s highly likely. Will Israel respond to those attacks? Yes, Israel will. Could this set off a larger regional war? Again, that’s certainly possible. While Iran and Hezbollah have much more to fear from us than we do from them, you don’t walk up and kick a bee hive just because President Prissy Pants has worked himself into a huff.

5) It’s not in our national interest to bomb Syria. Costly though it may have been, it was in our national interest to overthrow the Taliban in Afghanistan over 9/11 and to target an aggressive enemy of America like Saddam Hussein in Iraq. That being said, had we known in advance how long our troops would be stuck in Iraq, it’s highly doubtful that we would have ever invaded. On the other hand, what’s the rationale for bombing the side that’s fighting Al-Qaeda in Syria? Both sides hate America. Both sides cooperate with terrorists. If anything, since Al-Qaeda is determined to kill Americans and Assad is not, the current dictator in charge is probably the lesser of two evils. Moreover, encouraging other nations to join us in imposing harsh sanctions on Syria would be just as effective as bombing when it comes to discouraging the use of WMDs without being as provocative. So, what argument is left? Are we supposed to bomb Syria to avoid looking “weak?” Well, if people have that impression, they can ask Saddam Hussein, Osama Bin Laden, and Anwar al-Awlaki what they think about that if they’re willing to search through the bowels of hell long enough to find them.

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Who Castrated Ann Coulter?

Who Castrated Ann Coulter? – David Catron

There is no conservative writer that I admire more than Ann Coulter. She’s smart as hell and, more importantly, she is courageous. She has always been willing to write what other conservatives believe but don’t have the guts to say in print. She has never played it safe and has certainly never adjusted her opinions for the sake of conforming to the conventional wisdom of Old Guard Republicans. In 2008, for example, she declared that she would not merely vote for, but actively campaign for Hillary Clinton if the Republican Party were foolish enough to nominate John McCain for President: “If you are looking at substance rather than if there is an R or a D after his name, manifestly, if he’s our candidate, than Hillary is going to be our girl, because she’s more conservative than he is.”

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But something has happened to Coulter. I don’t have firsthand knowledge that she was kidnapped by RINO Team Six and taken to an offshore medical facility where she was forced to undergo a gruesome surgical procedure, but many of her recent columns suggest that something of the sort must have occurred. What else could explain her endorsement of Mitt Romney? Once immutable where her core convictions were concerned, she has executed a vertigo-inducing volte-face in order to promote a brazen opportunist whose positions on the big issues were the opposite of hers before he began running for President. She relentlessly trashes Republican “moderates” like McCain, yet now supports a candidate who makes the Arizona Senator look like Barry Goldwater by comparison.

It first became apparent that something awful had happened to Coulter last November, when she wrote a column asking “If Not Romney, Who? If Not Now, When?” In this surreal effusion, she claimed that the media were “pushing Newt Gingrich” and other alternatives to Romney “because they are terrified of running against him.” This, as many pointed out at the time, was preposterous. The only thing that terrifies the media about Romney is that he might not get the GOP nomination. This is the man they want to run against. Unlike Coulter, the media and the Obama reelection team know that Romney can be easily portrayed as a Wall Street parasite whose only memorable “accomplishment” as the Governor of Massachusetts was the enactment of a health “reform” law that renders him unable to credibly denounce ObamaCare.

Which brings us to the latest evidence that Coulter has been somehow altered. Her inexplicable support for Romney has led her beyond being merely wrong about his chances in the general election to writing things that are either deliberately disingenuous or genuinely ignorant. The latest example of this tragic development is a column titled, “Three Cheers for RomneyCare.” As its title suggests, this piece actually defends the Massachusetts “universal” health law. When I first read it, I could hardly believe such horse manure had emanated from Coulter’s keyboard. The column opens with this howler: “If only the Democrats had decided to socialize the food industry or housing, RomneyCare would probably still be viewed as a massive triumph for conservative free-market principles — as it was at the time.”

First, Coulter apparently didn’t notice, but the Democrats did socialize housing, and it triggered the most dangerous financial crisis since the Great Depression. More to the point, her suggestion that Romneycare was viewed by conservatives as a free-market triumph is revisionist nonsense. Coulter attempts to support this claim by naming a couple of conservatives who initially supported the law. Somehow, though, she neglects to mention the large number who opposed it. As Merrill Matthews pointed out in Forbes, when Newt Gingrich claimed in a debate that most conservatives once supported the mandate as a way of countering HillaryCare, “That’s wrong. There was, in fact, a heated battle among conservatives, with a handful pushing for the mandate and the large majority opposing it.”

Nor does Coulter mention that one of the two conservatives she cites as supporters of Romneycare and its mandate has long since recanted. Robert Moffitt of the Heritage Foundation, whom Coulter tells us was so excited about Romneycare that he “flew to Boston for the bill signing,” realized years ago that mandates were not an effective mechanism for eliminating the “free-rider” problem. Since 2008, he has vigorously advocated “far better alternatives to the individual mandate.” And Moffitt’s buyer’s remorse is by no means an isolated case. As Matthews puts it, “[V]irtually all conservatives… have come to realize that the mandate is the gateway drug to control the health care system.” Coulter, in a journalistic sin of omission worthy of the New York Times, fails to note any of this.

She instead claims that conservatives dislike Romneycare “because both ObamaCare and Romneycare concern the same general topic area — health care — and can be nicknamed (politician’s name plus “care”).” To this ridiculous charge she adds the irrelevant point that mandates are constitutional when enacted by states rather than by the federal government. This is true enough, but it misses what should be an obvious point. Health care consumers are less concerned with constitutional nuances relating to federal versus state powers than with the reality that they will be forced to buy insurance whether they wish to or not. That the mandate was passed by a state legislature rather than Congress will not render voters less inclined to resent such government interference in their private transactions.

Coulter then reminds us that Romney has pledged to repeal Obamacare, but that promise will ring hollow once Axelrod & Co. inform the voters that the law is virtually identical, in its effect on their individual lives, to a law her candidate signed in Massachusetts. The damage this will do to Romney’s credibility will be exacerbated when Obama’s many friends in the “news” media point out that his reversal of position on health reform is part of a larger pattern of opportunism. They will gleefully report, for example, that Romney is also guilty of shameless flip-flops on Second Amendment rights and abortion. On the latter issue he has reversed himself no fewer than three times. When the voters see MSM “reporters” relentlessly pound him for such “evolution,” they will realize that his campaign promises are meaningless.

Yet Coulter, once the scourge of such malleable “moderates,” has gone through some sort of transformation that has rendered her blind to Romney’s cheap opportunism. And if the primary voters are foolish enough to follow her advice, they will rue the day they listened to her and the establishment Republicans with whom she has now made common cause. As Coulter herself pointed out last year when she spoke at CPAC, Barack Obama will be reelected in 2012 if the Republican Party nominates Mitt Romney for President.

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Daily Benefactor Columnists – The Solyndra Stonewall (Stephen Hayes) – More Op-Eds

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The Solyndra Stonewall – Stephen Hayes

About 24 hours after he recited the oath of office, Barack Obama addressed senior executive branch officials and cabinet secretaries at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building. The new president promised that his administration would bring a new openness to Washington, with strict ethics requirements and a presumption in favor of public disclosure of, well, almost everything. “For a long time now, there’s been too much secrecy in this city,” he declared. “The old rules said that if there was a defensible argument for not disclosing something to the American people, then it should not be disclosed. That era is now over. Starting today, …this administration stands on the side not of those who seek to withhold information but those who seek to make it known.”

Think about that promise as you consider the Obama administration’s response to the congressional investigation of a $535 million loan guarantee to the bankrupt solar panel manufacturer Solyndra.

After the Department of Energy complied with an initial Solyndra document request from the House Energy and Commerce Committee in February 2011, the Obama administration became largely uncooperative. When there has been a defensible argument for not disclosing something, the administration has used it. Officials have withheld thousands of pages of documents. They have ignored requests for information as a matter of routine. In late June, the deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget did not show up at a congressional hearing for which he was the only witness. In late July, OMB failed to meet a deadline to provide documents that had been subpoenaed by the Energy and Commerce Committee. In October, after the head of the Department of Energy’s loan program resigned, the administration finally provided some of the requested documents—but did so late on a Friday of a three-day weekend and only after briefing select reporters in advance to spin the damaging materials.

These are the “old rules.” As questions surrounding the Solyndra loan grow more serious, the Obama administration is digging in. It’s not hard to see why.

Late last week, for instance, the administration muzzled a key figure in the developing controversy. The Department of Energy denied a request from the House Energy and Commerce Committee for a transcribed interview, under oath, with Susan Richardson, chief counsel to the Department of Energy program that granted the risky loan to Solyndra. Richardson is the author of two memos from earlier this year about the restructuring of that loan – changes which ensured that private investors, including several prominent Obama supporters, would be paid back before taxpayers in the event of a default.

The two memos are nearly identical except for their dates and, perhaps significantly, the addressees. The first, labeled “draft” and dated January 19, 2011, is a “Memorandum for the Secretary” – Energy Secretary Steven Chu – to be delivered “through Scott Blake Harris,” the department’s general counsel. A second version, dated February 15, 2011, is addressed directly to Harris, with no mention of Chu.

Why the difference? Perhaps Richardson, or someone in her employ, didn’t want to burden a busy Secretary Chu with more paperwork. Or maybe Richardson thought it was up to Harris to decide if the issue was important enough to be brought to Chu’s attention.

Those are the charitable explanations. Here’s another possibility: Richardson may have sought to protect Chu from the political fallout if an increasingly flimsy Solyndra collapsed. No one, after all, had been a bigger advocate for the Solyndra loan than Steven Chu. From the beginning, Chu sought to expedite the loan guarantee, even if that required changing the rules meant to protect taxpayers. In February 2009, for example, Chu complained to the Wall Street Journal that paperwork requirements were burdensome. “It might be too much,” he said.

A month later, Chu had apparently made some progress. The Solyndra loan application had been denied by the Bush administration in mid-January 2009. But the new rules yielded different results. “We’ve accelerated and streamlined the process and the loans are coming out,” he said. “We’re trying to streamline it so that the period of time will be reduced from a scale of four years to several months.”

Two years later, as Richardson was preparing her memo justifying the loan restructuring, the political implications of a Solyndra collapse were on the minds of top Obama administration figures. Officials at the Office of Management and Budget thought Solyndra so important, in fact, that they recommended having a top OMB representative raise the issue directly with Chu.

An email between OMB officials dated January 31, 2011, notes that an upcoming meeting about the loan program “might present an opportunity to flag to DOE [Department of Energy] at the highest level the stakes involved, for the Secretary to do as he sees fit (and be fully informed and accountable for the decision).”

The email further suggests that the OMB director “privately” point out the risks of restructuring and the potential political implications to Chu:

While the company may avoid default with a restructuring, there is also a good chance it will not. If Solyndra defaults down the road, the optics will arguably be worse than they would be today… [Q]uestions will be asked as to why the administration made a bad investment not just once (which could hopefully be explained as part of the challenge of supporting innovative technologies), but twice (which could easily be portrayed as bad judgment, or worse). In addition, the timing will likely coincide with the 2012 campaign season heating up, whereas a default today could be put in the context of (and perhaps even get some credit for) fiscal discipline/good government because the administration would be limiting further taxpayer exposure…).

Prescient words. The important question, however, is this: Did Richardson leave Chu off the February 15 memo to protect him? And if so, did someone tell her to do so?

We don’t know. Testifying under oath, however, would allow Richardson to answer those questions and others that might help shed light on the whole sorry mess. That the Obama administration is blocking her – and refusing to cooperate fully with congressional investigators – makes clear the president and his lieutenants are less interested in sharing the facts of the case than in hiding them. As President Obama put it in January 2009: “The way to make government responsible is to hold it accountable. And the way to make government accountable is make it transparent so that the American people can know exactly what decisions are being made, how they’re being made, and whether their interests are being well served.” He was right.

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Our Libyan Adventure – Andrew C. McCarthy

“Are you suggesting that we would be better off with the Qaddafi dictatorship still in effect?” asked Chris Wallace, browbeating presidential candidate Michele Bachmann.

And why shouldn’t he? After all, the Fox News anchor had just gotten Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Sen. Lindsey Graham to perform the requisite “Arab Spring” cartwheels over the demise of Libyan strongman Moammar Qaddafi. Apparently, when leading from behind ends up leading to a vicious murder at the hands of a wild-eyed mob, even folks who once got the sniffles over fastidiously non-lethal waterboarding can feel good about pulling out their party hats.

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If I Were A Liberal… – Ann Coulter

If I were a liberal, I would have spent the last week in shock that a Democratic audience in Flint, Mich., cheered Vice President Joe Biden’s description of a policeman being killed. (And if I were a liberal desperately striving to keep my job on MSNBC, I’d say the Democrats looked “hot and horny” for dead cops – as Chris Matthews said of a Republican audience that cheered for the death penalty.)

Biden’s audience whooped and applauded last week in Flint when he said that without Obama’s jobs bill, police will be “outgunned and outmanned.” (Wild applause!)

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ObamaCare Declares War On Doctors – Dick Morris And Eileen McGann

The worst fears about Obamacare are now being realized in a decision on Monday by the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MPAC) established by the law to supervise $500 billion in Medicare cuts. MPAC, whose decisions have the force of law, has voted to impose drastic pay cuts on all doctors under Medicare and, by extension, under Medicaid (which tends to follow suit).

The cuts will effectively reduce the real pay for specialists by 50% over the next ten years – including a 25% reduction over the next three years – and cut general practitioners’ pay by one-third over ten years (and that assumes that inflation stays down at 3% a year).

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The Media And “Bullying” – Thomas Sowell

Back in the 1920s, the intelligentsia on both sides of the Atlantic were loudly protesting the execution of political radicals Sacco and Vanzetti, after what they claimed was an unfair trial. Supreme Court justice Oliver Wendell Holmes wrote to his young leftist friend Harold Laski, pointing out that there were “a thousand-fold worse cases” involving black defendants, “but the world does not worry over them.”

Holmes said: “I cannot but ask myself why this so much greater interest in red than black.”

To put it bluntly, it was a question of whose ox was gored. That is, what groups were in vogue at the moment among the intelligentsia. Blacks clearly were not.

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Joe Biden: Beltway Bubble Boy – Michelle Malkin

Last fall, before the midterm shellacking, Vice President Joe Biden admonished rank-and-file Democratic voters to “stop whining.” Uncle Tough Guy should practice what he screeches. The 2012 campaign has barely begun, but Biden’s thin skin makes a spring roll wrapper look impenetrable.

Biden’s office is now calling for an official investigation of a young editor who dared to question His Highness. Jason Mattera of the conservative-leaning Human Events magazine confronted the veep last week on his hysterical claims that rape and murder would increase if Congress didn’t ram through the half-trillion-dollar White House jobs bill.

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American Imperialism? Please – Jonah Goldberg

And so it ends. The United States is leaving Iraq.

I’m solidly in the camp that sees this as a strategic blunder. Iraqi democracy is fragile, and Iran’s desire to undermine it is strong. Also, announcing our withdrawal is a weird way to respond to a foiled Iranian plot to commit an act of war in the U.S. capital. Obviously, I hope I’m wrong and President Obama’s not frittering away our enormous sacrifices in Iraq out of domestic political concerns and diplomatic ineptitude.

Still, there’s an upside. Obama’s decision to leave Iraq should deal a staggering blow to America’s critics at home and abroad.

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Daily Benefactor Columnists – RomneyCare Is A Problem, Not Part Of The Solution (Mark Steyn) – More Op-Eds

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RomneyCare Is A Problem, Not Part Of The Solution – Mark Steyn

Unless things change, the man (or woman) elected in 2012 will be the last American president to preside over the world’s leading economy. If things get really bad, he will find himself presiding over the early stages of American collapse.

Not “decline” but “collapse.” “Decline” is what happens when you’re Britain in the 1940s and you cede global dominance to a major ally that shares your language, legal system, cultural inheritance and broad geopolitical objectives. That deal isn’t on offer this time round.

Nor was the United Kingdom circa 1948 in thrall to anything like the same levels of spendaholic insanity. The current debate on the “debt ceiling” testifies to how thoroughly public discourse has flown the coop of reality.

Sure, Congress can vote to raise the debt ceiling – just as you and your spouse can reach a bipartisan agreement on raising your own debt ceiling. Go on, try it: Hold a vote in your rec room, come up with a number and then let MasterCard know what you’ve decided on.

In the real world, debt ceilings are determined by the lenders, not the borrowers. In March, Pimco (which manages the world’s largest mutual fund) calculated that 70% of U.S. Treasury debt is being bought by the Federal Reserve.

So under the 2011 budget, every hour of every day, the United States government spends $188 million it doesn’t have, $130 million of which is “borrowed” from itself. There’s nobody else out there.

In other words, however Congress votes, we’re rubbing up against the real debt ceiling – the willingness of the world to continue bankrolling American debauchery.

Barack Obama is offering us a Latin-American future – that’s to say, a United States in which a corrupt governing class rules a dysfunctional morass. He’s confident that, when the moat with alligators is put in, he’ll be on the secure side. If you figure you’ll be, too, you can afford to vote for him.

The rest of us would like a credible alternative. The Republicans have a habit of nominating the guy whose turn it is – Bob Dole, John McCain. This time the guy whose turn it is is Mitt Romney. Unfortunately for him, his signature legislation in Massachusetts looks awfully like a pilot program for ObamaCare. So in recent days he’s been out yet again defending his record.

If I understand him correctly, his argument is that the salient point about RomneyCare and ObamaCare is not that they’re both disasters, but that one’s local and the other’s national, and that Obama has a one-disaster-fits-all approach to health care whereas Romney believes in letting a thousand disasters bloom. Celebrate diversity!

If Mitt can make this fly, he’s some kind of genius. The problems with RomneyCare are well known:

Mitt argued that Massachusetts needed to reform its health care system because the uninsured were placing huge strains on the state’s emergency rooms and the rest of the population had to pick up the tab for the free-riders, and that was driving up Massachusetts health costs. So, as a famous can-do technocrat, he looked at the problem and came up with a can-do technocratic solution.

Three years later, everyone was insured, but emergency room use was higher than ever, and 70% of those newly insured were all but entirely subsidized by the state, and Massachusetts residents were paying 30% more for their health care than the U.S. average, and Boston had the longest wait time in the nation to see a new doctor.


Last year, I gave a speech to the American Society for Cataract and Refractive Surgery at its annual conference in Boston, and got a cheap laugh by telling the assembled ophthalmologists that just by flying in to the convention center they’d dramatically improved the city’s doctor/patient ratio.

American conservatives’ problem with RomneyCare is the same as with ObamaCare – that, if the government (whether state or federal) can compel you to make arrangements for the care of your body parts that meet the approval of state commissars, then the constitution is dead.

And Americans might as well shred the thing and scatter it as confetti over Prince William and his lovely bride, along with an accompanying note saying, “Come back. It was all a ghastly mistake.” For if conceding jurisdiction over your lungs and kidneys and bladder does not make you a subject rather than a citizen, what does?

I doubt Romney thought about it in such terms. In 2006, he was not a philosophical conservative. Like Donald Trump today, he sold himself as a successful business guy, a problem solver who knew how to make things happen. So he made things happen. And, as a result, he made things worse. How does that happen?

Because, to make things happen in a diseased polity such as Massachusetts, you have to get it past the lifetime legislative class and the ever-more-swollen regulatory bureaucracy. And, whatever theoretical merits it might have had when the can-do technocrats cooked it up, by the time it’s been massaged through the legislature and pumped full of steroids by the backstage boys, it will just be the usual oozing pustuled behemoth of drearily foreseeable unforeseen consequences.

The inflationary factor in Massachusetts health care was not caused by deadbeats using emergency rooms as their family doctor but by the metastasizing cost distortions of government intervention in health care.

Mitt should have known that. As he should know that government intervention in college loans has absurdly inflated the cost of ludicrously overvalued credentials and, in a broader sense, helped debauch America’s human capital. As he should know that government intervention in the mortgage market is why every day more and more American homeowners are drowning in negative equity.

So RomneyCare is not just an argument about health care. It exemplifies what’s wrong with American political structures:

It suggests that our institutions are incapable of course correction. It reminds us that Republicans are either easily suckered or too eager to be bipartisan figleafs in embarrassing kindergarten kabuki. It confirms that “technocracy” in politics is a synonym for “more” – more government, more spending, more laws, more bureaucrats, more regulations, more paperwork, more of what’s killing this once great republic every hour of every day.

In defense of Romney, one might argue that politics is the art of the possible. But in Massachusetts what was possible made things worse. That’s the situation the nation is in – and the message that America’s lenders are beginning to get.

If you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem. RomneyCare is not part of the solution; it embodies the problem. If Mitt Romney cannot recognize that, it’s unlikely that he’s the guy to pull American politics back into a passing acquaintance with reality.

To put it in Obama terms, America is a moat, and it’s filled with government spendaholics. You could toss a poor alligator in there, but they’d pick him clean in seconds, and leave what was left for Nancy Pelosi’s shoes.

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Demagoguery 101 – Charles Krauthammer

I’m going to do my part to lead a constructive and civil debate on these issues.” – Barack Obama, speech on immigration, El Paso, May 10

Constructive and civil debate – like the one Obama initiated just four weeks ago on deficit reduction? The speech in which he accused the Republicans of abandoning families of autistic and Down syndrome kids? The debate in which Obama’s secretary of health and human services said that the Republican Medicare plan would make old folks “die sooner”?

In this same spirit of comity and mutual respect, Obama’s most recent invitation to civil discourse – on immigration – came just 11 minutes after he accused opponents of moving the goal posts on border enforcement. “Maybe they’ll need a moat,” he said sarcastically. “Maybe they want alligators in the moat.”

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What Happened On AA Flight 1561 – Michelle Malkin

If you listen to the passengers and crew who flew on American Airlines Flight 1561 last weekend, there’s no doubt about what happened on their harrowing trip: A Yemeni man shrieking “Allahu akbar!” at the top of his lungs more than 30 times rushed the cockpit door twice intending to take down the plane and kill everyone on board.

The clammy, sweaty lone male passenger exhibited classic symptoms of what Middle East scholar and author Daniel Pipes has dubbed “Sudden Jihad Syndrome” – a seemingly random outbreak of threatening behavior or violence by a hysterical Muslim adherent who had not previously exhibited signs of Islamic radicalization. It took at least four men to tackle and restrain Rageh Ahmed Mohammed al-Murisi. “There was no question in everybody’s mind that he was going to do something,” passenger Angelina Marty told the San Francisco Chronicle.

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More Gutsy Calls From Obama! – Ann Coulter

Obama has been making “gutsy calls” all over the place!

In full campaign mode, he’s been deploying his administrative agencies to do favors for his big contributors, to the detriment of ordinary Americans.

Last week, Obama made the gutsy call to threaten public schools that are asking students for proof of residency. The memorandum warned school districts that it’s illegal to ask students for proof of citizenship or legal residency status.

Obama’s wealthy donors need illegals so they can get cheap nannies, cooks and pool boys.

On the other hand, illegals being paid off the books are not helping Americans find jobs.

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An Ill Season – Andrew C. McCarthy

Screaming “With our blood and soul, we will defend you, Islam,” jihadists stormed the Virgin Mary Church in northwest Cairo last weekend. They torched the Coptic Christian house of worship, burned the nearby homes of two Copt families to the ground, attacked a residential complex, killed a dozen people, and wounded more than 200: just another day in this spontaneous democratic uprising by Muslim hearts yearning for freedom.

In the delusional vocabulary of the “Arab Spring,” this particular episode is known as a sectarian “clash.” That was the Washington Post’s take. Its headline reads “12 dead in Egypt as Christians and Muslims clash” – in the same way, one supposes, that a mugger’s fist can be said to “clash” with his victim’s face. The story goes on, in nauseating “cycle of violence” style, to describe “clashes between Muslims and Coptic Christians” that “left” 12 dead, dozens more wounded, “and a church charred” – as if it were not crystal clear who were the clashers and who were the clashees, as if the church were somehow combusted into a flaming heap without some readily identifiable actors having done the charring.

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Reasonable Suspicion – Stephen Hayes

In May 2010, in the aftermath of the attempted bombing of Times Square by a jihadist with ties to the Pakistani Taliban, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton gave an interview to 60 Minutes and made a startling claim about the government in Pakistan. “I’m not saying that they’re at the highest levels, but I believe that somewhere in this government are people who know where Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda is, where Mullah Omar and the leadership of the Afghan Taliban is, and we expect more cooperation to help us bring to justice, capture or kill, those who attacked us on 9/11.”

Why would Clinton say this? Did the U.S. government have intelligence – an inside source, communications intercepts – that Pakistani officials knew where bin Laden was hiding? Or was America’s top diplomat just engaging in idle speculation about a nation often described as a key ally in the war on terror?

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The World Turned Upside Down… Again – Victor Davis Hanson

Every once in a while, the world is turned upside down in just a few years, whether by ideological ferment or force of arms. We may be entering such a phase now – unsure whether the unrest in the Middle East, the rise of China, and the crisis in the EU will sputter and dissipate like the upheavals of 1848 or make the world unrecognizable in the way that Alexander the Great’s ten-year romp, the fall of Constantinople, World War I, World War II, and the collapse of Soviet Communism changed the very map of Europe and Asia.

The question is not whether Greece will default on its massive debt, but, rather, when it does, whether the inevitable default will spread to Spain, Portugal, or even Italy and unravel the European Union, or simply be confined to Greece, returning it to its genteel poverty of the 1970s. Either way, a much weakened Greece will watch an ascendant and Islamist Turkey exercise, in Ottoman fashion, its newfound influence in the Aegean, Cyprus, and the Eastern Mediterranean.

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Daily Benefactor Columnists – Next Time, Use FedEx (Ann Coulter) – More Op-Eds

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Next Time, Use FedEx – Ann Coulter

The CIA stepped up the search for Osama bin Laden last week after becoming as sick of royal wedding coverage as the rest of us.

American intelligence operations located Osama by following his trusted couriers, whose names were given up by al-Qaida members during harsh interrogations at CIA black sites under President Bush.

Yes, the same interrogations endlessly denounced by the entire Democratic Party (save Joe Lieberman), the mainstream media, and an especially indignant Jane Mayer in The New Yorker.

The most-wanted terrorist in the world was living in a moldy, million-dollar mansion in a gated community just outside of Islamabad. It took the CIA five years to figure out the four-digit code to get in.

One important missed clue was that Osama was living at 72 Virgins Way. He might still be alive today if only he hadn’t borrowed his neighbor’s shoulder-mounted rocket launcher and never returned it.

Our mighty Navy SEALs not only put a bullet through Osama’s head, but carried off his computers, disks and hard drives. So far, all they’ve revealed is that Osama had multiple Netflix rentals of “Rendition,” “In the Valley of Elah,” “Fahrenheit 9/11″ and “Love Actually.”

Can you imagine what’s on Osama’s hard drives? I mean besides the goat pornography. Pants are wetting throughout Pakistan’s military establishment.

The New York Times reports that the raid that killed Osama is being bitterly denounced on Pakistani TV as a breach of that country’s sovereignty. Osama, our dear allies say, was not a terrorist, nor has al-Qaida ever been unfriendly to Pakistan – unlike the United States, which they call “an enemy of Pakistan and Muslims.”

(Also, bin Laden’s entire video crew is in line at the Islamabad unemployment office today. Thanks, Barack.)

The one Islamic country that openly cheered our taking out bin Laden is Iraq. According to reports from inside the country, TV stations are treating the raid as a great victory for Iraq – the final battle in a war that was mostly fought by Iraqis on Iraqi soil. They view bin Laden’s killing as their own personal triumph in the war against Islamic terrorism.

Similarly, when there was an explosion of violence throughout the Muslim world in response to some Danish cartoons in 2006, guess which Islamic nation was nothing but placid contentment? Again: our plucky Iraq. (Having U.S. Marines in your midst apparently has some sort of calming influence.)

It’s great that we got bin Laden, but if the last Democratic administration had been doing its job, there would have been no Osama bin Laden and no 9/11 attack to begin with.

Democratic presidents are always too busy feverishly redistributing wealth at home to devote serious attention to our national interests abroad.

Obama gets to reap the rewards of Bush-era terrorism policies – policies that he, his fellow Democrats and Jane Mayer hysterically denounced at the time – while Reagan and Bush had to deal with the consequences of Carter’s Iranian policy and Clinton’s bin Laden policy.

According to Michael Scheuer, who ran the bin Laden unit at the CIA for many years, President Clinton was given eight to 10 chances to kill or capture bin Laden but refused to act, despite bin Laden’s having publicly declared war on the United States and launched various terrorist attacks against us, murdering hundreds of Americans.

(If only one of those opportunities had presented itself on the day of Clinton’s scheduled impeachment, instead of Clinton’s bombing Iraq, he might have postponed his problems at home by finally taking out bin Laden.)

Clinton’s CIA director, James Woolsey, never once met with Clinton in a one-on-one meeting. This is in contrast to Monica Lewinsky, who got about a dozen face-to-face – or face-to-something – meetings with the president.

That’s why Sandy Berger, Clinton’s national security adviser, was caught stealing documents from the National Archives during the 9/11 commission hearings. That’s also why Clinton blew a gasket and forced ABC to cancel the DVD release of the docudrama “The Path to 9/11″ – based on the commission’s report.

Bush had to deal with the ticking time bomb of Osama bin Laden left by Bill Clinton.

All presidents have had to deal with the ticking time bomb set by Carter’s passive acceptance of the Iranian revolution in 1979, giving Islamic lunacy its first nation-sponsor.

What ticking time bombs are being set around the globe by our current Democratic president?

Following the Democratic playbook, Obama’s overall approach to national security is to pointlessly fling our influence and military around the globe – in Libya, Egypt and Afghanistan – with no evident national security purpose.

Thanks to our feckless president, most of the Middle East is rapidly degenerating into a terrorist fever-swamp.

The Muslim Brotherhood is emerging as a power broker in Egypt, Tunisia, Yemen and Libya. Meanwhile, the “democracy” movement in Syria seems likely to end with President Bashar al-Assad gaining a tighter grip on power, after he’s killed enough of his own people to remind them why he’s their president.

All of these countries are becoming worse than they were before. (On the plus side, Obama is set to announce the SEALs have just found Joe Biden.)

But George Bush’s legacy – Iraq – will be standing there, all on its own, the one point of light in a sea of Islamic darkness. And the media will coo about how reassuring it is that we now have a “thoughtful” president in the White House, instead of a cowboy.

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The First-Person Presidency – Victor Davis Hanson

Here are a few excerpts from President Obama’s speech on Sunday night about the killing of Osama bin Laden.

“Tonight, I can report… And so shortly after taking office, I directed Leon Panetta… I was briefed on a possible lead to bin Laden… I met repeatedly with my national security team… I determined that we had enough intelligence to take action… Today, at my direction… I’ve made clear… Over the years, I’ve repeatedly made clear… Tonight, I called President Zardari… and my team has also spoken… These efforts weigh on me every time I, as Commander-in-Chief… Finally, let me say to the families… I know that it has, at times, frayed….”

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Fed Up WEith The Fed? – Thomas Sowell

When people in Washington start creating fancy new phrases instead of using plain English, you know they are doing something they don’t want us to understand.

It was an act of war when we started bombing Libya. But the administration chose to call it “kinetic military action.” When the Federal Reserve System started creating hundreds of billions of dollars out of thin air, they called it “quantitative easing” of the money supply.

When that didn’t work, they created more money and called it “quantitative easing 2″ or “QE2,” instead of saying: “We are going to print more dollars – and hope it works this time.”

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Holder Vs. Holder – Andrew C. McCarthy

Why does the Obama Justice Department seem to have trouble mounting a full-throated, compelling legal defense of Osama bin Laden’s killing? The problem for Eric Holder the attorney general could be Eric Holder the private attorney.

In 2004, Mr. Holder chose to file an amicus brief on behalf of Jose Padilla, the al-Qaeda terrorist sent to our country by bin Laden and Khalid Sheikh Mohammed to carry out a post-9/11 second wave of attacks. In the brief, Holder argued that a commander-in-chief lacks the constitutional authority to do what his boss, the current commander-in-chief, has just done: determine the parameters of the battlefield.

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The Fog Of Fog – Michelle Malkin

The official White House account of Osama bin Laden’s demise has seen more slapdash cosmetic surgery over the past week than your average “Real Housewives” reality-show star. President Obama’s allies attribute the bungled “narrative” (their word, not mine) to the “Fog of War.” But each passing day – and each new set of hapless revisions – shows that what really ails the administration is the Fog of Fog.

Errors happen. Miscommunications happen. Confusing the name of which of bin Laden’s myriad sons died (Hamza, not Khalid), for example, is no biggie.

But the hourly revamping of key details of Sunday’s raid suggests something far beyond the usual realm of situational uncertainty that accompanies any military operation.

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Why Pakistan Knew It Could Hide Osama – Mark Steyn

As my old friends at The Spectator in London pointed out Monday morning, I scooped the entire planet in breaking the news of Osama bin Laden’s death: “Osama bin Laden is dead, says Mark Steyn.” This was in The Spectator’s edition of June 29, 2002, which turned out to be a wee bit premature. I jumped the gun, much like Osama’s missus in Abbottabad, but by nine years.

Nor, to be honest, was a teensy-weensy near-decade discrepancy in the date the only problem with my scoop. Much of that Spectator piece was preoccupied with the usual assumptions about Public Enemy Number One – caves, dialysis, remote wild Pakistani tribal lands where Western intelligence hasn’t a hope of penetrating unless you turn a cousin of the village headman, etc.

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Gasoline And Onions – John Stossel

The speculators are ripping us off!

“The skyrocketing price of gas and oil has nothing to do with the fundamentals of supply and demand, and has everything to do with Wall Street firms that are artificially jacking up the price of oil in the energy futures markets… (T)he same Wall Street speculators that caused the worst financial crisis since the 1930s through their greed, recklessness and illegal behavior are ripping off the American people again by gambling that the price of oil and gas will continue to go up.”

Here we go again. That quote was Sen. Bernie Sanders doing what some always do when the price of oil spikes: complain about speculators.

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Daily Benefactor Columnists – Road To Ruin Getting Shorter (Mark Steyn) – More Op-Eds

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Road To Ruin Getting Shorter – Mark Steyn

Congressman Paul Ryan, one of the least insane men in Washington, has a 10-year plan.

President Barack Obama, one of the most insane spenders in Washington, has a 12-year plan.

After hearing the president’s plan, Standard & Poor’s downgraded the U.S. Sovereign debt outlook to “negative.” Ah, the fine art of understatement. In 1940, after the fall of France and the evacuation from Dunkirk, presumably they downgraded Britain’s outlook to “spot of bother.”

At the world’s first “Presidential Facebook town hall meeting” on Wednesday, even Obama had a hard time taking his “plan” seriously. Sometimes he referred to it as a 12-year plan, sometimes 10 years, sometimes saving four trillion, sometimes saving two trillion. So will the Obama plan save four trillion over 12 years or two trillion over 10?

For the answer let’s go to next week’s first Presidential Twitter town hall meeting:

OMG!!! LOL!!!!!!! ROFLMAO!!!!!!!!!

Overly Massive Government!!! Legislating Official Largesse!!!!!!! Requiring Offering Foreign Lenders More American Ownership!!!!!!!!!

The president’s plan is to balance the budget by climbing into his Little Orphan Obammie costume and singing: “The sun’ll come out tomorrow/Bet your bottom dollar that tomorrow there’ll be sun.” We’ve already bet our bottom dollar and it’s looking like total eclipse. But Obammie figures if we can only bet Daddy Warbucks’ bottom dollar the sun will shine. The “rich” don’t have enough money to plug the gap: As a general principle, whatever the tax rates, the Treasury can never take in more than about 19 percent of GDP. Since Obama took office, the government’s spent on average 24.4 percent of GDP.

That five-point gap cannot be closed, and it’s the difference between the possibility of a future and the certainty of utter ruin. Hence, outlook “negative.”

By the way, if you were borrowing (as the United States government does) $188 million every hour, would your bank be reassured by a 12-year plan?

That’s 2023. Go back 12 years. That’s 1999. Which, if any, politicians correctly identified the prevailing conditions in the America of 2011? Most of our problems arise from the blithe assumptions of the political class about the future. European welfare systems assumed a mid-20th century fertility rate to sustain them. They failed to foresee that welfare would become a substitute for family and that Continentals would simply cease breeding. Bismarckian-Rooseveltian pension plans assumed you’d be living off them for the last couple of years of your life. Instead, citizens of developed nations expect to spend the final third of their adult lives enjoying a prolonged taxpayer-funded holiday weekend.

What plans have you made for 2023? The average individual attempts to insure against future uncertainty in a relatively small number of ways: You buy a house because that’s the surest way to preserve and increase wealth. “Safe as houses,” right? But Fannie/Freddie subprime mumbo-jumbo and other government interventions clobbered the housing market. You get an education because that way you’ll always have “something to fall back on.” But massive government-encouraged expansion of “college” led Americans to run up a trillion dollars’ worth of student debt to acquire ever more devalued ersatz sheepskin in worthless pseudo-disciplines. We’re not talking about the wilder shores of the stock market – Internet start-ups, South Sea bubbles and tulip mania – but two of the safest, dullest investments a modestly prudent person might make to protect himself against the vicissitudes of an unknown future. And we profoundly damaged both of them in pursuit of fictions.

I don’t claim absolute certainty about what the world will be like in 2023, but I know what our governing class is telling us. At Tufts University, Nancy Pelosi urged her “Republican friends” to “take back your party, so that it doesn’t matter so much who wins the election – because we have shared values about the education of our children, the growth of our economy, how we defend our country, our security and civil liberties, how we respect our seniors. Elections shouldn’t matter as much as they do.”

The last line attracted a bit of attention, but the “shared values” – i.e., the fetid bromides of conventional wisdom – are worth decoding, too: “Education of our children” means more spending on an abusive and wasteful unionized educrat monopoly; “growth of our economy” means more spending on stimulus funding for community-organizer grant applications; “how we defend our country” means more spending on defense welfare for wealthy allies; “our security and civil liberties” means more spending on legions of crack TSA crotch fondlers; “how we respect our seniors” means more spending on entitlements for an ever more dependent citizenry whose sense of entitlement endures long after the entitlement has ceased to make any sense.

Nancy Pelosi fleshed out the Obama plan: More spending. More more. Now and forever. That’s what S&P understands. The road to hell is paved with stimulus funding.

The world has started to listen to what Obama is telling us. In that respect, let me make a single prediction for 2023 – that by then the dollar will no longer be the global reserve currency. Forty years ago, Treasury Secretary John Connally told Europe that the dollar is “our currency but your problem.” The rest of the world is now inverting the proposition: The dollar is our problem but, in the end, it’s your currency, not ours. In Beijing, in Delhi, in Riyadh, in Rio, the rest of the planet is moving relentlessly toward a post-dollar regime.

What will America look like without the dollar as global currency? My old boss Conrad Black recently characterized what’s happened over the past half-century as a synchronized group devaluation by Western currencies. That’s a useful way of looking at it. What obscured it was the dollar’s global role. When the dollar’s role is ended, the reality of a comatose “superpower” living off a fifth of a billion in borrowed dollars every single hour of the day is harder to obscure.

In the absence of responsible American leadership, the most important decisions about your future will be made by foreigners for whom fatuous jingles about “shared values” have less resonance. If you don’t want the certainty of a poorer, more decrepit, more diseased, more violent America, you need to demand your politicians act now – or there won’t be a 2023.

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Uncharitable – Andrew C. McCarthy

“In the United States, rules on charitable giving have made it harder for Muslims to fulfill their religious obligation,” President Obama claimed during his 2009 Cairo speech. “That is why I am committed to working with American Muslims to ensure that they can fulfill zakat.”

This statement contained two falsehoods. One, as I’ve previously detailed, was obvious: There are, in fact, no American laws or rules that make it harder for Muslims to give to charity. What we have are laws against material support of terrorism – against using devices like charitable fronts to channel money to jihadists.

Those laws are not directed at Muslims. They apply to everyone but are applied most often to Muslims, because Muslims carry out most anti-American terrorism.

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Academic Rot – Walter Williams

The average American, as parent, student and taxpayer, has little idea of the academic rot at so many of our colleges. Save for a tiny handful of the nation’s colleges, what distinguishes one college from another is the magnitude of that rot.

One of the best sources of information about our colleges is the New York City-based Manhattan Institute’s quarterly Web magazine, Minding the Campus, edited by John Leo, former columnist for U.S. News & World Report.

The magazine’s Winter 2010 edition contains an article by Dr. Candace de Russy, former member of the board of trustees of the State University of New York (SUNY), titled “Hate-America Sociology.”

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Reagan Democrats: ‘Tea Baggers’ Or MSNBC Viewers? – Ann Coulter

Among the most preposterous claims being made on MSNBC about the fight over public sector unions in Wisconsin is that Gov. Scott Walker and the Republicans are losing “Reagan Democrats” by taking on government employees.

The theory seems to have been concocted by Howard Fineman, editor at The Huffington Post, who said, back in February on Lawrence O’Donnell’s “The Last Word,” that the “whole idea of a Reagan Democrat” was that union families were voting for Reagan. But today, according to Fineman, they are shifting against Republicans because of Walker’s tough line on government unions. “That’s got to scare Republican strategists nationally,” he said.

Private sector unions are as similar to public sector unions as they are to gay civil unions.

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The Unhappy President – Jonah Goldberg

he president has always had a gift for self-pity.

The Oval Office, I always thought I was going to have really cool phones and stuff… I’m like, “C’mon guys, I’m the president of the United States. Where’s the fancy buttons and stuff and the big screen comes up?” It doesn’t happen. – Pres. Barack H. Obama

The list of people I feel sorry for is long. It includes not just all of the people I know personally who are suffering from one misfortune or another, but the billions around the world who’re having a rougher time than they ought: Japanese earthquake victims, targets of ethnic cleansing, etc. Then there’s the supplemental list, which includes everyone from fans of Lost who were ripped off by the series finale to the guy in the middle seat on a long flight.

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Donald Trump’s Eminent-Domain Empire – Michelle Malkin

Don’t be fooled by The Donald. Take it from one who knows: I’m a South Jersey gal who was raised on the outskirts of Atlantic City in the looming shadow of Trump’s towers. All through my childhood, casino developers and government bureaucrats joined hands, raised taxes and made dazzling promises of urban renewal. Then we wised up to the eminent-domain thievery championed by our hometown faux free-marketeers.

America, it’s time you wised up to Donald Trump’s property redistribution racket, too.

Trump has been wooing conservative activists for months and flirting with a GOP presidential run – first at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington and most recently at a tea party event in South Florida.

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Bull About Bullying – Thomas Sowell

There is a lot of talk from many people about bullying in school. The problem is that it is all talk. There is no sign that anybody is going to do anything that is likely to reduce bullying.

When politicians want to do nothing and yet look like they are doing something, they appoint a blue-ribbon committee or go to the U.N. or assign some cabinet member to look into the problem and report back to the president – hoping that the issue will be forgotten by the time he reports back.

When educators are going to do nothing, they express great concern and make pious public pronouncements. They may even hold conferences, write op-ed pieces, or declare a “no tolerance” policy. But they are still not going to do anything that is likely to stop bullying.

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Daily Benefactor Columnists – Cometh The Hour, Punteth The Man (Mark Steyn) – More Op-Eds

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Cometh The Hour, Punteth The Man – Mark Steyn

There’s something sad about a man so carelessly revealing himself as entirely inadequate to the moment. Government spending is an existential threat to the United States. Whether or not anyone at the White House knows this, the viziers decided to shove the sultan out on stage with a pitifully unserious speech retreating to all his lamest tropes – the usual whiny, petty, and unpresidential partisan snippiness, and the ponderous demolition of straw men even he barely bothered to pretend he believed in:

Politicians are often eager to feed the impression that solving the problem is just a matter of eliminating waste and abuse – that tackling the deficit issue won’t require tough choices.

Yeah, right. Why don’t we start by eliminating whatever dope got paid to write that sentence?

This speech failed Rich’s “What’s yours?” test. In fact, it more or less declared to the world that this administration has no plan, and has no plan to plan on getting a plan anytime soon. But America is not Greece. There is no Germany to bail us out. Only we can do it. And the president just signaled to the world that that’s not going to happen. Here’s one example of his and his speechwriters’ hideous laziness:

If there are bright young Americans who have the drive and the will but not the money to go to college, we can’t afford to send them… South Korean children are outpacing our kids in math and science.

That last bit is true – but it’s nothing to do with money. According to the most recent OECD figures (2007), the Koreans spent $5,437 per primary-school pupil; we spent $10,229. For education as a whole, the Koreans spent $7,325 per pupil; we spent $14,269. They not only “outpace our kids in math and science”; they do it by only spending half as much.

That’s the problem, and whichever hack speechwriter put those ridiculous words in the president’s mouth surely knew it. As did the president. We spend more than anyone but the Swiss on education, and by any rational measure at least half of it is entirely wasted: That model is why this country is dying, and the president just went on TV and bragged to the world he has no plans to change it.

The whole speech was like that, a litany of brain-dead slapdash rhetorical questions that for sentient beings are no longer rhetorical: My fellow Americans, do we want an America where our most lethargic and mediocre youth are denied a leisurely half-decade acquiring a fraudulent six-figure credential in some worthless pseudo-discipline simply because we can’t afford it?

Well, it’d be a start.

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On This Aborted Fetus, Democrats Plant Their Flag – Ann Coulter

Back in February, Obama’s director of the Office of Management and Budget, Jacob Lew, promoted the White House’s allegedly draconian budget cuts in The New York Times.

Saying Obama was going to cut the 2012 budget to the bone, Lew droned on about the “difficult” cuts to “important” programs and the “many tough choices and deep cuts” in the proposed budget.

All told, the White House’s brutal, Depression-era austerity plan would have snipped a couple of billion from our multi-trillion dollar federal budget.

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Welcome Budget-Cut Talk – John Stossel

Finally. A serious budget plan. House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan’s proposal has the head-in-the-sand crowd horrified. A Washington Post columnist called it “radical… irresponsible… extreme.”

Ryan’s plan offers some great things: less spending than President Obama wants; a path to a balanced budget; repeal of Obamacare; an end to corporate welfare. And it would make the social safety net sustainable rather than open-ended and going broke.

It even inspired President Obama to say he’d come out with his own deficit plan, although he reportedly “will not offer details,” just “goals.”

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The Razor’s Edge – Victor Davis Hanson

We calibrate California’s decline by its myriad of paradoxes. The nation’s highest bundle of gas, sales, and income taxes cannot close the nation’s largest annual deficit at $25 billion. Test scores are at the country’s near bottom; teachers’ salaries at the very top. Scores of the affluent are leaving each week; scores of the indigent are arriving.

The nation’s most richly endowed state is also the most regulated; the most liberal of our residents are also the most ready to practice apartheid in their Bel Air or Palo Alto enclaves.

We now see highway patrolmen and city police, in the manner of South American law enforcement, out in force.

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Eat The Rich – Walter Williams

I’ve often said that I wish there were some humane way to get rid of the rich. If you asked why, I’d answer that getting rid of the rich would save us from distraction by leftist hustlers promoting the politics of envy. Not having the rich to fret over might enable us to better focus our energies on what’s in the best interest of the 99.99 percent of the rest of us.

Let’s look at some facts about the rich laid out by Bill Whittle citing statistics on his RealClearPolitics video “Eat the Rich.”

This year, Congress will spend $3.7 trillion dollars. That turns out to be about $10 billion per day. Can we prey upon the rich to cough up the money?

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Make 70 The New 65 – Michelle Malkin

It’s time for a 21st-century retirement age. If 40 is the new 20 and 50 is the new 30, why shouldn’t 70 be the new 65?

The last time Washington politicians tinkered ever so gingerly with the government-sanctioned retirement age, Ronald Reagan was in office and Generation X-ers were all in diapers. Since then, American life expectancy has increased by half a decade and continues to rise – while the “traditional” retirement age (established eight decades ago) has only recently begun phasing up to 67 and the official “early” retirement age (established four decades ago) remains stuck at 62.

There is simply no good reason 21st-century workers should operate under obsolete 1930s-era expectations and 1970s rules.

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Taxes And Politics – Thomas Sowell

Someone once said that taxes are the price we pay for civilization. That may have been true when he said it, but today taxes are mostly the price we pay so that politicians can play Santa Claus and get reelected.

That’s not the worst of it. We may think of taxes as just a source of government revenue. But tax rates are a big political statement on the left, whether they bring in any revenue or not.

For more than 80 years, the political Left has opposed what it calls “tax cuts for the rich.” But big cuts in very high tax rates ended up bringing in more revenue to the government in the Coolidge, Kennedy, Reagan, and Bush 43 administrations.

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Daily Benefactor Columnists – Hope, Change, And ‘Invest’ (Ann Coulter) – More Op-Eds

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Hope, Change, And ‘Invest’ – Ann Coulter

I missed the middle section of Obama’s State of the Union address when I took a break to read “War and Peace,” but I gather he never got around to what I was hoping he’d say, which is: “What was I thinking?”

The national debt is $14 trillion, the Democrats won’t stop spending, and President Nero gave us a long gaseous speech about his Stradivarius.

I feel so Southern whenever I watch a Democrat give a State of the Union address – and not just because it makes me want to secede. Consternating the rest of the family, my Kentucky mother always talked back to the TV. I do it only when a Democrat is giving a speech.

And if liberals didn’t like Samuel Alito mouthing the words “not true,” they should be really happy I wasn’t in the House chamber Tuesday night.

All I kept hearing was, “Ann pays more.” That’s all I ever I hear when Democrats start in with all that “investing.”

Apparently the government will be “investing” in education, “investing” in technology, “investing” in roads and “investing” in lots and lots of government workers. Ann pays more, Ann pays more, Ann pays more.

Obama compared “investing” in education to our sending a man to the moon after the Russians launched Sputnik. Say, who was the president who recently gutted spending on NASA? Oh yes, that was Obama.

So he reminded us of the glory days of the space program, but now he’s taking that money and funneling it to public school teachers. As the Democrats say: “If we can put a man on the moon, why can’t we hire another 10,000 public school teachers?”

Also, solar panels. Obama said the government was already “investing” in solar panels! That’s a total relief. This must be how the president who brought us “Recovery Summer” is going to dig us out of the second Great Depression.

But I do wonder why no private lender considered solar panels a wise investment, forcing solar panel manufacturers to turn to the government for loans, followed by endless tax credits just to break even.

I guess people who work for the government are just smarter. We’re so lucky to have them “investing” our money for us! Boy, egg must be on Warren Buffett’s face!

Remember how massive government “investments” gave rise to the telephone, the light bulb, the automobile, the airplane, the personal computer… OK, none of those.

But massive government expenditures did give us Amtrak and the TSA!

The only thing Obama vowed to cut were “earmarks.” Yippee! The guy with the ears is against earmarks. Yes, the same president who quadrupled our deficit by giving money away to his UAW pals, Wall Street cronies and government workers is now lecturing us about earmarks. This is a bit like being scolded by Charlie Sheen for ordering a second wine cooler.

You knew it was bad when John McCain leapt up and enthusiastically applauded. The last time I saw McCain applaud Obama like that was when he debated him.

Obama said, “We are the nation that put cars in driveways and computers in offices; the nation of Edison and the Wright brothers; of Google and Facebook.”

And then the government outlawed Edison’s great invention, made the Wright brothers’ air travel insufferable, filed anti-trust charges against Microsoft and made cars too expensive to drive by prohibiting oil exploration, and right now – at this very minute – is desperately trying to regulate the Internet.

On the bright side, President Al Gore would have actually outlawed the cars in those driveways.

I especially enjoyed his pitch for high-speed trains where you “don’t have to receive pat-downs.” At least until one of those Muslims who is “part of our American family” blows one up – at which point they’ll be staffed with armies of genital-fondling, unionized TSA agents on the public dime.

Still, I can’t wait for Obama’s America. An America where I can use lightning-fast, high-speed Internet to file electronically for my unemployment benefits. Or better yet, I can ditch my old “oil-powered” car and take a “sunlight and water”-powered high-speed train to the unemployment office for a change.

And I hear CalTech is working on biofuels to power “Recovery Summer 2011.”

The big laugh line was when Nero said mockingly, “I heard rumors that a few of you still have concerns about the health care law.” That’s called “60 percent of the American public.” It’s not a joke, and it’s not funny.

Here’s one: Hey, Obama! Guy walks into a bar in the Gaza Strip. The bartender says, “What’ll you have?” But the guy is killed instantly when an Iranian-made CT-28 missile strikes the bar, also killing a woman and small child next door. Get it, Obama? HA HA!

Synthesizing Karl Marx and Ronald Reagan, Obama said the government will soon be taking over every aspect of our lives, and Republicans can’t stop him – but gosh, isn’t America a great country! Teachers are great, we need to innovate, children are our future, we need paved roads, kids should do their homework, Labrador puppies are cute, I like apple pie, I (heart) Justin Bieber, and how about them Yankees! Now, here’s your 2011 tax bill – how would you like to pay for that?

Actually, I was glad to hear him say that “there isn’t a person here” – which presumably included Democrats – who would live anyplace else.

Then why are they always trying to turn us into Western Europe?

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Oh No, Not Another Unbiased BBC Documentary About ‘Climate Change’… – James Delingpole

The new president of the Royal Society, Sir Paul Nurse has been crowing to the Guardian’s environment pages about how he bested me in a documentary for the BBC on Climate Change. This isn’t how I remember it.

Nurse came to interview me at my home last summer, ostensibly – so his producer assured me – as a disinterested seeker-after-truth on a mission to discover why the public is losing its faith in scientists. “Not scientists,” I replied. “Just ‘climate scientists.'” But as is clear from the Horizon documentary Nurse had already made up his mind.

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My State Of The Union Address – John Stossel

President Obama fulfilled his constitutional duty and gave his report on the state of the union last night. Here’s mine: We’re in deep trouble. You know why. Our debt has passed $14 trillion, and yet our current spending plans will make that worse. The U.S. debt will reach Greek levels in just 10 years.

But do not despair. If we make reasonable cuts to what government spends, our economy can grow us out of our debt. Cutting doesn’t just make economic sense, it is also the moral thing to do.

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The ‘HealthStat’ Seduction – Jonah Goldberg

If professional writing were the guild it often appears to be, Atul Gawande would be a scab. A surgeon and professor, Gawande also writes beautifully for The New Yorker about health care. His latest article, “The Hot Spotters,” focuses on what Gawande claims is a revolutionary approach to health care.

In Camden, N.J. – hardly a garden spot in the Garden State – just 1 percent of the people who used the city’s medical facilities accounted for 30 percent of the costs. One patient had 324 hospital admissions in five years. Another single-handedly cost insurers $3.5 million.

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Can Our Nation Be Saved? – Walter Williams

National debt is over $14 trillion, the federal budget deficit is $1.4 trillion and, depending on whose estimates are used, the unfunded liability or indebtedness of the federal government (mostly in the form of obligations for Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and prescription drugs) is estimated to be between $60 and $100 trillion.

Those entitlements along with others account for nearly 60 percent of federal spending. They are what Congress calls mandatory or non-discretionary spending. Then there’s discretionary spending, half of which is for national defense.

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Cash For Education Clunkers – Michelle Malkin

“We’re going to have to out-educate other countries,” President Obama urged this week. How? By out-spending them, of course! It’s the same old quack cure for America’s fat and failing government-run schools monopoly. The one-trick ponies at the White House call their academic improvement agenda “targeted investing” for “winning the future.”

Truth in advertising: Get ready to fork over more Cash for Education Clunkers. Our government already spends more per capita on education than any other of the 34 wealthiest countries in the world except for Switzerland, according to recent analysis of data from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

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New Heroes Vs. Old – Thomas Sowell

When I mention that my family used kerosene lamps when I was a small child in the South during the 1930s, that is usually taken as a sign of our poverty, though I never thought of us as poor at the time.

What is ironic is that kerosene lamps were a luxury of the rich in the 19th century, before John D. Rockefeller came along. With the high price of kerosene at that time, an ordinary working man could not afford to stay up at night, burning this expensive fuel for hours at a time.

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Daily Benefactor Columnists – The Arizona Shootings Were Like Kwanzaa Come Early For America’s Liberal Fascists (James Delingpole) – More Op-Eds

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The Arizona Shootings Were Like Kwanzaa Come Early For America’s Liberal Fascists – James Delingpole

How sick do you have to be to start making political capital out of the killing of six people including a nine-year old girl, long before anyone has the remotest clue what the murderer’s motives were, or his political affiliations, or his state of mind?

Not sick at all, to judge by the response of so many US Tweeters in the immediate aftermath of the Arizona shootings. When you’re a liberal, it seems, cloying sanctimoniousness, grotesque moral posturing, double standards, hypocrisy and cynical, malevolent smearing all come as naturally and healthily as breathing.

As Toby Harnden reports, barely were the bodies cold when the liberal fascists started pointing the finger of blame: it was Sarah Palin’s fault, of course; Sarah Palin’s and Glenn Beck’s and, of course, the Tea Party’s. Definitely not a crazed killing spree by a deeply confused young man, no, sirree. After all, as Rahm Emmanuel would say, you must “never let a crisis go to waste.”

So let us compare and contrast the liberal blogosphere and media’s response to the Arizona shootings (ie it was all the Right’s fault) and its response to, say, the Fort Hood killings or the 2002 Beltway sniper murders. In the latter two cases, liberals walked on eggshells to avoid admitting these had anything whatsoever to do with the Religion of Peace (TM). And we’re not talking about just the first few hours afterwards when a certain amount of circumspection might have been excusable. As I mention in 365 Ways To Drive A Liberal Crazy, once the liberal MSM discovered that the Beltway assassinations were not after all the crime of an “angry white man” but of an embittered, black Muslim convert calling himself John Muhammad, it went into instant denial mode. In news reports he was referred to by his pre-conversion name, John Williams, just in case anyone got any politically incorrect ideas.

It was the same with the Fort Hood killings. As I noted at the time, the liberal blogosphere and MSM simply couldn’t bring itself to admit that Major Malik Nadal Hasan’s killing spree had anything whatsoever to do with the famously peace-loving religion of Islam. Even after it emerged that he’d been in contact with the notorious Islamist terror guru Anwar al-Awlaki, still liberals sought desperately to make out that Major Hasan was just an ordinary chap who’d been crazified by exposure to one of Amerika’s evil, unjust wars.

One of the Tweets I got from one of my nicer, better-meaning liberal friends last night was:

interesting to note the parallel between the dangers to politicians from extremists in Pakistan and United States

But actually, this says more about the dubious moral relativism of the liberal mindset than it does about empirical truth. There is simply no reasonable and fair comparison to be made between the assassination of poor brave Salmaan Taseer, Governor of Punjab province, and the attempted murder of Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords. And if you want to know why, compare and contrast the local reactions to these respective tragedies.

In Pakistan, Salmaan Taseer’s killer was showered with flower petals by his many sympathisers. In the USA, Jared Loughner’s actions have attracted universal condemnation from both left and right.

And if anyone is gloating about the suffering and death inflicted on Congresswoman Giffords and her entourage, it most certainly isn’t her opponents in the Tea Party. It’s all those unprincipled grievance mongers on the liberal-left.

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The Constitution Fetish – Andrew C. McCarthy

Is there anything richer than a gaggle of smarmy progressives snickering at the conservative “Constitution fetish”? “Fetish” is the fashionable Left’s latest suggestive imagery turned talking point, a dig at the new Republican majority in the House, which began its session this week by reading the Constitution aloud. It’s as if Dracula were complaining about a crucifix fetish.

“Fetish,” like “tea-bagger,” slides easily off the tongues of the Big Thinkers who get their dithering law from Dalia Lithwick and their sophomoric style from Bill Maher. If there is no Obama to send a thrill up their legs, it takes an organic Constitution throbbing with active liberty to ring their chimes.

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True Or False – Walter Williams

So many statements we accept as true, plausible or beyond question; but are they? Let’s look at a couple of important ones: global warming and U.S. manufacturing decline.

In 2000, Dr. David Viner of University of East Anglia’s disgraced Climatic Research Unit advised, “Within a few years winter snowfall will become a very rare and exciting event.” “Children just aren’t going to know what snow is.” Britain’s Meteorological Office said this December was “almost certain” to become the coldest since records began in 1910. Paul Michaelwaite, forecaster for NetWeather.tv, said, “It is looking like this winter could be in the top 20 cold winters in the last 100 years.”

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Surge Or Retreat? – William Kristol

In the past four years, administrations of both parties have had to surge ground troops to war theaters in order to make success possible in missions central to the national security of the United States. Just last week, the Obama administration announced an additional 1,400 Marines would be deployed to southern Afghanistan to help secure the progress the surge has achieved there.

But now President Obama, to save $6 billion a year – one half of one percent of the federal budget deficit – has announced a cut of some 47,000 troops from the end strength of the Army and Marine Corps. We paid a big price for Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld’s obdurate refusal to increase the size of the armed forces after 9/11.

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The Other New Chicago Crony Chief Of Staff – Michelle Malkin

Fun fact: Bill Daley isn’t the only new chief of staff in the White House with longtime ties to the Chicago Way. Yep, it’s No Windy City Corporate Lawyer Left Behind Week in the nation’s capital.

On the other side of the White House, deep-pocketed campaign finance mega-bundler Tina Tchen was named first lady Michelle Obama’s new right-hand woman. Or rather, left-hand woman. The self-described “progressive” attorney from Chicago is taking over as chief of staff in the East Wing following the expected departure of Susan Sher. Tchen personally raised more than $200,000 for the Obama presidential campaign while a lawyer at white-shoe Skadden Arps.

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Who Are The Real Hijackers Of Islam? – Jonah Goldberg

For years, we’ve heard how the peaceful religion of Islam has been hijacked by extremists. What if it’s the other way around? Worse, what if the peaceful hijackers are losing their bid to take over the religion? That certainly seems to be the case in Pakistan. Salman Taseer, a popular Pakistani governor, was assassinated this week because he was critical of Pakistan’s blasphemy law.

Specifically, Taseer was supportive of a Christian woman, Asia Bibi, who has been sentenced to death for “insulting Muhammad.” Bibi had offered some fellow farm laborers some water. They refused to drink it because Christian hands purportedly make water unclean. An argument followed.

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Investigate This! – Ann Coulter

The Republicans are back in charge in the House of Representatives this week, and not a moment too soon! Forget “stimulus” bills and “shovel-ready” bailouts (for public school teachers, who need shovels for what they’re teaching), the current financial crisis, which is the second Great Depression, was created slowly and methodically by Democrat hacks running Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac over the past 18 years.

As even Obama’s treasury secretary admitted in congressional hearings, “Fannie and Freddie were a core part of what went wrong in our system.” And if it’s something Tim Geithner noticed, it’s probably something that’s fairly obvious.

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Daily Benefactor Columnists – Napolitano: The Ball’s In My Court Now (Ann Coulter) – More Op-Eds


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Napolitano: The Ball’s In My Court Now – Ann Coulter

After the 9/11 attacks, when 19 Muslim terrorists – 15 from Saudi Arabia, two from the United Arab Emirates and one each from Egypt and Lebanon, 14 with “al” in their names – took over commercial aircraft with box-cutters, the government banned sharp objects from planes.

Airport security began confiscating little old ladies’ knitting needles and breaking the mouse-sized nail files off of passengers’ nail clippers. Surprisingly, no decrease in the number of hijacking attempts by little old ladies and manicurists was noted.

After another Muslim terrorist, Richard Reid, AKA Tariq Raja, AKA Abdel Rahim, AKA Abdul Raheem, AKA Abu Ibrahim, AKA Sammy Cohen (which was only his eHarmony alias), tried to blow up a commercial aircraft with explosive-laden sneakers, the government prohibited more than 3 ounces of liquid from being carried on airplanes.

All passengers were required to take off their shoes for special security screening, which did not thwart a single terrorist attack, but made airport security checkpoints a lot smellier.

After Muslim terrorist Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab of Nigeria tried to detonate explosive material in his underwear over Detroit last Christmas, the government began requiring nude body scans at airports.

The machines, which cannot detect chemicals or plastic, would not have caught the diaper bomber. So, again, no hijackers were stopped, but being able to see passengers in the nude boosted the morale of airport security personnel by 22 percent.

After explosives were inserted in two ink cartridges and placed on a plane headed to the United States from the Muslim nation of Yemen, the government banned printer cartridges from all domestic flights, resulting in no improvement in airport security, while requiring ink cartridges who traveled to take Amtrak.

So when the next Muslim terrorist, probably named Abdul Ahmed al Shehri, places explosives in his anal cavity, what is the government going to require then? (If you’re looking for a good investment opportunity, might I suggest rubber gloves?)

Last year, a Muslim attempting to murder Prince Mohammed bin Nayef of Saudi Arabia blew himself up with a bomb stuck up his anus. Fortunately, this didn’t happen near an airport, or Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano would now be requiring full body cavity searches to fly.

You can’t stop a terrorist attack by searching for the explosives any more than you can stop crime by taking away everyone’s guns.

In the 1970s, liberal ideas on crime swept the country. Gun owners were treated like criminals while actual criminals were coddled and released. If only we treated criminals with dignity and respect and showed them the system was fair, liberals told us, criminals would reward us with good behavior.

As is now well known, crime exploded in the ’70s. It took decades of conservative law-and-order policies to get crime back to near-1950s levels.

It’s similarly pointless to treat all Americans as if they’re potential terrorists while trying to find and confiscate anything that could be used as a weapon. We can’t search all passengers for explosives because Muslims stick explosives up their anuses. (Talk about jobs Americans just won’t do.)

You have to search for the terrorists.

Fortunately, that’s the one advantage we have in this war. In a lucky stroke, all the terrorists are swarthy, foreign-born, Muslim males. (Think: “Guys Madonna would date.”)

This would give us a major leg up – if only the country weren’t insane.

Is there any question that we’d be looking for Swedes if the 9/11 terrorists, the shoe bomber, the diaper bomber and the printer cartridge bomber had all been Swedish? If the Irish Republican Army were bombing our planes, wouldn’t we be looking for people with Irish surnames and an Irish appearance?

Only because the terrorists are Muslims do we pretend not to notice who keeps trying to blow up our planes.

It would be harder to find Swedes or Irish boarding commercial airliners in the U.S. than Muslims. Swarthy foreigners stand out like a sore thumb in an airport. The American domestic flying population is remarkably homogenous. An airport is not a Sears department store.

Only about a third of all Americans flew even once in the last year, and only 7 percent took more than four round trips. The majority of airline passengers are middle-aged, middle-class, white businessmen with about a million frequent flier miles. I’d wager that more than 90 percent of domestic air travelers were born in the U.S.

If the government did nothing more than have a five-minute conversation with the one passenger per flight born outside the U.S., you’d need 90 percent fewer Transportation Security Administration agents and airlines would be far safer than they are now.

Instead, Napolitano just keeps ordering more invasive searches of all passengers, without exception – except members of Congress and government officials, who get VIP treatment, so they never know what she’s doing to the rest of us.

Two weeks ago, Napolitano ordered TSA agents to start groping women’s breasts and all passengers’ genitalia – children, nuns and rape victims, everyone except government officials and members of Congress. (Which is weird because Dennis Kucinich would like it.)

“Please have your genitalia out and ready to be fondled when you approach the security checkpoint.”

This is the punishment for refusing the nude body scan for passengers who don’t want to appear nude on live video or are worried about the skin cancer risk of the machines – risks acknowledged by the very Johns Hopkins study touted by the government.

It is becoming increasingly obvious that we need to keep the government as far away from airport security as possible, and not only because Janet Napolitano did her graduate work in North Korea.

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Obama Caves On Civilian Trial For KSM – Andrew C. McCarthy

Let’s review the state of play, shall we? Throughout the 2008 presidential campaign, candidate Barack Obama blasted the Bush administration’s decision to treat al-Qaeda terrorists as enemy combatants and detain them without trial at Guantanamo Bay.

Now, two years into his presidency, Obama has decided to treat al-Qaeda terrorists as enemy combatants and detain them without trial at Guantanamo Bay. The media is reporting that the administration will hold Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and the other 9/11 plotter indefinitely, granting them neither a civilian nor a military trial.

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How To Control Congress – Walter Williams

Let’s assume that each of our 535 congressmen cares about the destructive impact of deficits and debt on the future of our country. Regardless of party, congressmen face enormous lobbying pressures and awards to spend more and little or no pressure and awards to spend less.

The nation’s founders would be horrified by today’s congressional spending that consumes 25 percent of our GDP. Contrast that to the years 1787 to the 1920s when federal government spending never exceeded 4 percent of our GDP except in wartime. Today, federal, state and local government consumes 43 percent of what Americans produce each year.

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Natural Is Not Always Better – John Stossel

It’s not what we don’t know that causes us trouble. It’s what we know that isn’t so. Whichever famous writer said that (it’s been attributed to many), what he said carries truth. What are some of the things we know that aren’t so? Here’s one: Grass-fed “free-range” beef cattle are better for the environment – and for you – than factory-farmed corn-fed cattle.

It does seem to make sense that the steer raised in the more “natural” environment would be better for the world. Michael Pollan, the prolific food author and activist, wrote in The New York Times that “what was once a solar-powered ruminant (grass-fed steer) (has been turned) into the very last thing we need: another fossil-fuel machine.” How so?

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End Deficit Reduction Commissions – Thomas Sowell

Another deficit-reduction commission has now made its recommendations. My own recommendation for dealing with deficits would include stopping the appointment of deficit-reduction commissions. It is not the amount of money that these commissions cost that is the issue. It is the escape hatch that they provide for big-spending politicians.

Do you go ahead and spend the rent money and the food money – and then ask somebody else to tell you how to escape the consequences? If President Obama or the Congress were serious about keeping the deficit down, they could have had this commission’s recommendations before they spent hundreds of billions of dollars, handing out goodies hither and yon to their pet constituencies.

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Where’s My ObamaCare Waiver? – Michelle Malkin

More than one million Americans have escaped the clutches of the Democrats’ destructive federal health care law. Lucky them. Their employers and labor representatives wisely applied for Obamacare waivers earlier this fall and got out while the getting was good.

Now, it’s time for Congress to create a permanent escape hatch for the rest of us. Repeal is the ultimate waiver. As you’ll recall, President Obama promised repeatedly that if Americans liked their health insurance plan, they could keep it. “Nobody is talking about taking that away from you,” the cajoler-in-chief assured.

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Dead Souls – Victor Davis Hanson

Millions of us shuffle around, sighing that most of what we hear pounded into our brains is either banal or as untrue as it is dangerous to identify it as such. So we ignore it, we the dead souls who live in the world of unmentionable thoughts.

Here is a daily inanity: “The great majority of Muslims are moderates,” and its ancillary “Only a tiny percentage of Muslims are terrorists.” Both are true, but they have value as admonishments only if there were a widespread Western effort to demonize Islam and persecute Muslims, or we knew that mass destruction required millions of conventional troops. But neither is true.

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Daily Benefactor Columnists – The ‘Gridlock’ Bogeyman (Thomas Sowell) – More Op-Eds


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The ‘Gridlock’ Bogeyman – Thomas Sowell

Whenever the party that controls the White House does not also control Capitol Hill, political pundits worry that there will be “gridlock” in Washington, so that the government cannot solve the nation’s problems.

Almost never is that fear based on what actually happens when there is divided government, compared to what happens when one party has a monopoly of both legislative and executive branches.

The last time the federal government had a budget surplus, instead of its usual deficits, there was divided government. That was when the Republicans controlled the House of Representatives, where all spending bills originate, and Bill Clinton was in the White House. The media called it “the Clinton surplus.”

By the same token, some of the worst laws ever passed were passed when one party had overwhelming majorities in both houses of Congress, as well as being led by their own president of the United States. Obamacare is a product of the kind of arrogance that so much power breeds.

It was the same story back in the famous “first hundred days” of the New Deal in 1933. The National Industrial Recovery Act of 1933 clamped down on the American economy the kind of pervasive government control seldom seen outside totalitarian countries.

It was the Obamacare of its time, but covering industries right down to local dry cleaners. One man was sent to jail for charging less than the government-specified price for pressing a suit of clothes. This typified the mindset of the New Deal.

Fortunately, the Supreme Court eventually declared the National Industrial Recovery Act unconstitutional. But, before that happened, the N.I.R.A. probably did more to prevent the economy from recovering from the Great Depression than any other law or policy. Even liberal icon John Maynard Keynes said at the time that the N.I.R.A. “probably impedes recovery.”

You cannot tell what effect a law or policy will have by what politicians call it, whether they label it a “recovery” program or a “stimulus” program.

Those who fear gridlock in Washington today implicitly assume that government actions are needed to “solve” the economy’s “problems.” That assumption has been so pervasive over the past 80 years that many people fail to realize that the republic existed for nearly twice that long before the federal government intervened to get the economy out of a recession or depression.

During all that time, no depression ever lasted even half as long as the Great Depression of the 1930s, when first President Herbert Hoover and then President Franklin Roosevelt intervened.

For most of the history of this country, there was no Federal Reserve System, which was established in 1914 to prevent bank failures and the bad effects of large expansions or contractions of the supply of money and credit. But bank failures in the 1930s exceeded anything ever seen before the Fed was established. So did the contraction of money and credit during the Great Depression.

The seductive notion that some Big Daddy in Washington can solve our problems for us – whether healing the sick, preventing poverty, or “growing the economy” – is encouraged by politicians for obvious reasons, and the media echoes the idea.

Both in Washington and in the media, there is virtually zero interest in comparing what actually happens when the federal government intervenes in the economy and when it does not.

More than a century and a half of ignoring downturns in the economy never produced a depression as deep or as long as the 1930s depression, with its many federal interventions, first under Hoover and then under Roosevelt.

The unemployment rate was 6.3 percent when the first big intervention took place, during the Hoover administration. It later peaked at 25 percent, but its fluctuations were always in double digits throughout the 1930s, as FDR tried one thing after another. As late as the spring of 1939, nearly a decade after the stock market crash of 1929, unemployment hit 20 percent again.

It is not a matter of faith that a market economy can recover on its own. It is a matter of faith that politicians speed recovery. But there is no way that Barack Obama is going to stop intervening in the economy unless he gets stopped. Only gridlock can do that.

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Remembrance – Mark Steyn

On CNN the other day, Larry King asked Tony Blair what it was he had in his buttonhole. It was a poppy – not a real poppy, but a stylized, mass-produced thing of red paper and green plastic that, as the Prime Minister explained, is worn in Britain and other Commonwealth countries in the days before November 11th.

They’re sold in the street by aged members of the Royal British Legion to commemorate that moment 83 years ago today, when on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month the guns fell silent on the battlefields of Europe.

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Repeal The 26th Amendment! – Ann Coulter

Jimmy Carter was such an abominable president we got Ronald Reagan, tax cuts, a booming economy and the destruction of the Soviet Union. Two years of Bill Clinton and a Democratic Congress got us the first Republican Congress in half a century, followed by tax cuts, welfare reform and a booming economy – all of which Clinton now claims credit for.

Obama’s disastrous presidency has already produced Republican senators from Massachusetts, Wisconsin and Illinois; New Jersey’s wonder-governor Chris Christie; and the largest House majority for Republicans since 1946. We deserve more.

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I’m Politically Incorrect – John Stossel

This week, I held a bake sale – a racist bake sale. I stood in midtown Manhattan shouting, “Cupcakes for sale.” My price list read: Asians – $1.50. Whites – $1.00. Blacks/Latinos – 50 cents. People stared. One yelled, “What is funny to you about people who are less privileged?”

A black woman said, angrily, “It’s very offensive, very demeaning!” One black man accused me of poisoning the cupcakes. I understand why people got angry. What I did was hurtful to some. My bake sale mimicked what some conservative college students did at Bucknell University.

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The Obama Fabulists – Victor Davis Hanson

During the 2008 campaign, Barack Obama was billed as a cool rationalist – a sober and judicious intellectual so unlike the inattentive and twangy “smoke ‘em out” George W. Bush, so rational in contrast to the herky-jerky and frenetic John McCain. Like Senator Kerry, our professor president now laments Americans’ descent into emotion.

“Facts and science and argument does [sic] not,” our president moans, “seem to be winning the day.” The largely academic intellectuals whom Obama brought into his administration promised to bring their erudition and logic both to reading public opinion and to providing commensurate winning solutions.

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Throw Carol Browner Under The Bus – Michelle Malkin

Energy czar Carol Browner needs to go the way of disgraced green jobs czar Van Jones: under the bus and stripped of her unbridled power to destroy jobs and lives in the name of saving the planet. ASAP.

One of the Beltway’s most influential, entrenched and unaccountable left-wing radicals, Browner has now been called out twice by President Obama’s own federal BP oil spill commission and Interior Department inspector general. How many strikes should a woman who circumvented the Senate confirmation process and boasts a sordid history of abusing public office get?

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Earmarks Aren’t Even The Beginning – Andrew C. McCarthy

In offering himself as the next speaker of the House after last Tuesday’s sea-change election, Rep. John Boehner of Ohio penned a Wall Street Journal op-ed of about 800 words. The word “debt” is not one of them, nor does the concept appear. That’s a bit odd, no?

The debt is what the election was about: the growth-killing tab that runs up another $4 billion every day – even days when President Obama is not touring the Far East with 3,000 courtiers in his retinue. The debt, driven by unconstitutional and unsustainable federal intrusions into everything from how much carbon dioxide we emit to which light bulbs we use, is what in turn drives unemployment.

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Daily Benefactor Columnists – Who Says Islam Is Totalitarian? – More Op-Eds


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Who Says Islam Is Totalitarian? – Andrew C. McCarthy

Who says Islam is a totalitarian doctrine? Well, Geert Wilders does, of course. As the editors point out in Monday’s superb National Review Online editorial, the Dutch parliamentarian has even had the temerity to compare Islam with Nazism. Strong stuff indeed, and for speaking it, Wilders has earned the disdain not just of the usual Muslim Brotherhood satellite organizations but even of many on the political right.

Though they support free-speech rights, and thus grudgingly concede that Wilders should be permitted to say such things, they want you to understand they find his sentiments deplorable. Taking the politically correct view, they assure you that Islam is not a problem at all – it’s just those bad extremists and Islamists who have, as the Bush-era refrain went, “hijacked one of the world’s great religions.”

Emblematic is the estimable Charles Krauthammer, who has described Wilders’s views as “extreme, radical, and wrong.” Dr. K.’s complaint, expressed on Fox News back in March (and published on the Corner), was that Wilders conflates “Islam and Islamism.” The latter, Krauthammer insists, is “an ideology of a small minority which holds that the essence of Islam is jihad, conquest, forcing people into accepting a certain very narrow interpretation [of Islam].”

As I take a backseat to no one in my admiration of Dr. K., I wonder what he’d make of Bernard Lewis’s take on this subject. Professor Lewis is the distinguished scholar widely and aptly admired, including by Wilders’s detractors, as the West’s preeminent authority on Islam. At Pajamas Media, Andrew Bostom has unearthed a 1954 International Affairs essay in which Professor Lewis quite matter-of-factly compared Islam with Communism. The essay, in fact, was called, “Communism and Islam.”

In it, Lewis considered “the very nature of Islamic society, tradition, and thought,” and concluded that its principal defining characteristic is the “authoritarianism, perhaps we may even say the totalitarianism, of the Islamic political tradition.” Expanding on this, he wrote:

There are no parliaments or representative assemblies of any kind, no councils or communes, no chambers of nobility or estates, no municipalities in the history of Islam; nothing but the sovereign power, to which the subject owed complete and unwavering obedience as a religious duty imposed by the Holy Law… For the last thousand years, the political thinking of Islam has been dominated by such maxims as “tyranny is better than anarchy,” and “whose power is established, obedience to him is incumbent.”

But what about the conceit that undergirds current American foreign policy, the notion that Islam and Western democracy are perfectly compatible? Lewis dismissed the idea as so much elite wishful thinking:

Many attempts have been made to show that Islam and democracy are identical – attempts usually based on a misunderstanding of Islam or democracy or both. This sort of argument expresses a need of the uprooted Muslim intellectual who is no longer satisfied with or capable of understanding traditional Islamic values, and who tries to justify, or rather, restate, his inherited faith in terms of the fashionable ideology of the day. It is an example of the romantic and apologetic presentation of Islam that is a recognized phase in the reaction of Muslim thought to the impact of the West.

Clearly, the ensuing half-century has found Western intellectuals – regardless of political bent – joining romantic forces with their uprooted Muslim counterparts. Thus the accusation by Dr. Krauthammer, to take a prominent but by no means singular example, that Wilders fails to perceive the distinction – I’d call it a hoped-for distinction – between Islam and Islamism. Yet this accusation itself conflates Islam with Muslims, as well as Islamists with violent jihadists. This confusion leads Krauthammer to surmise both (a) that only a small minority of Muslims believe jihad is “the essence of Islam,” and (b) that because most Muslims in the West are not terrorists, it should be “obvious” that they are not Islamists.

This is wrong on several levels. First, as Robert Spencer explains, “Jihad… is a key element of the Islamic faith according to every single Islamic authority on the planet.” To deny that it is the “essence of Islam” – which is how the prophet Mohammed regarded it – is to deny a basic fact. And though, as Spencer acknowledges, jihad is subject to varying interpretations, Lewis is clear on the preponderant construction. As he has recounted several times, most recently in The Middle East: A Brief History of the Last 2,000 Years, “The overwhelming majority of early authorities… citing relevant passages in the Qur’an and in the tradition, discuss jihad in military terms.” This jibes, to quote Ibn Warraq, with “the celebrated Dictionary of Islam,” which describes jihad as an “incumbent religious duty,” and defines it as “a religious war with those who are unbelievers in the mission of Muhammad.”

Spencer echoes Lewis when he elaborates that “all the mainstream sects and schools of Islamic jurisprudence teach as a matter of faith that Islam is intrinsically political and that Muslims must wage war against unbelievers and subjugate them under the rule of Islamic law.” The fact that most Muslims do not engage in violent jihad, whether out of practicality, indifference, or what have you, does not change what Islamic doctrine says. Nor does it mean these Muslims are “rejecting” that mandate. They are ignoring it.

Moreover, as I’ve noted on several occasions, the point of jihad is to spread sharia, the Islamic legal system whose installation is the necessary precondition to creating an Islamic society. That need not be done by violent means. In fact, the Muslim Brotherhood, the world’s most influential Islamist organization, maintains that America and Europe will be “conquered” not by violence but by dawa – the proselytism of Islam by non-violent (or, more accurate, pre-violent) means, such as infiltration of our institutions. Spencer calls this phenomenon “stealth jihad.”

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Leftists, Progressives And Socialists – Walter Williams

One of the greatest sources of confusion and deception is the difference between leftists, progressives, socialists, communists and fascists. I thought about this as I caught a glimpse of the Oct. 2 “One Nation” march on Washington.

The participants proudly marched with banners, signs and placards reading “Socialists,” “Ohio U Democratic Socialists,” “International Socialists Organization,” “Socialist Party USA,” “Build A Socialist Alternative” and other signs expressing support for socialism and communism.

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Chris Coons Lied, Granny Died – Ann Coulter

In all of life’s tribulations, there is nothing so aggravating as being condescended to by an idiot. In last week’s CNN debate in the Delaware Senate race between the astonishingly well-spoken Christine O’Donnell and the unfortunate-looking Chris Coons, O’Donnell had to put up with it from Coons for 90 minutes.

O’Donnell wiped the floor with Coons, moderators Wolf Blitzer and Nancy Karibjanian, and the idiotic University of Delaware students asking questions – all of whom were against her.

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Public Sector Unions Choke Taxpayers – John Stossel

“I thought unions were great – until at Chrysler, the union steward started screaming at me. Working at an unhurried pace, I’d exceeded ‘production’ for that job.”

That comment, left on my blog by a viewer who watched my Fox Business Network show about unions, matches my experience. No one ordered me to slow down, but union rules and union culture at ABC and CBS slowed the work. Sometimes a camera crew took five minutes just to get out of the car.

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Change, Don’t ‘Celebrate.’ Cultures – Thomas Sowell

There was a reason that employers in the middle of the 19th century had signs that said, No Irish need apply – and why employers in the middle of the 20th century no longer had such signs. It was not that employers had changed. The Irish had changed.

The Catholic Church for years worked to bring about such changes among the Irish immigrants and their offspring, just as various religious and secular organizations among the Jews, among blacks, and among other groups worked to bring about changes within their respective groups.

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Extreme Girls: All The President’s Radical Women – Michelle Malkin

We are in the era of Democratic Extreme Girls – Big Nanny handmaidens who demand control of your children, your health care, your energy use, your pocketbook and your news. And that’s just for starters. If you think President Obama will move to the center after the midterms, think again.

Liberal bloggers are buzzing about the possibility that environmental czar Carol Browner could be appointed White House chief of staff next year.

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If Dems Lose, Obama Will Blame Everyone But Himself – Byron York

Assume the polls are correct and Republicans win control of the House, and perhaps even the Senate, in next month’s elections. What lessons will the White House learn? Will Barack Obama interpret the vote as a repudiation of much of his agenda, or will he conclude that he made a few tactical errors but was still right on the big issues?

Bet on the latter. All indications coming out of the White House suggest that if Democrats suffer major losses, the president and his top aides will resolutely refuse to reconsider the policies – national health care, stimulus, runaway spending – that led to their defeat.

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