TAXES FOR TERRORISTS
Haven't you always wanted to send your money directly to imprisoned terrorists? Well now you can thanks to cooperation between the Obama Administration and the Palestinian Authority which will now be paying salaries to imprisoned terrorists. The PA doesn't have much of a tax base, except the Americans, Israelis and Europeans who serve as their tax base.
A law published in the official Palestinian Authority Registry last month grants all Palestinians and Israeli Arabs imprisoned in Israel for terror crimes a monthly salary from the PA.
The latest US contribution to the PA budget\Adopt a Terrorist is a quarter of a billion.
Is all that money worth it? Well let's do the math. Obama is trying to win over the Muslim world. His approval rating is down across the Muslim world. But in the Palestinian Authority, he's actually up by 3 points. What's some 250 million to pay the salaries of terrorists in order to get a three point approval hike from... terrorists.
Obama shouldn't pop the Halal champagne just yet. Al Qaeda is still 10 points ahead of him. But with enough money, he could get to within 5 points of Osama bin Laden.
In other good news,
How about 1 out of 2.
Obama hit up the Latinos and then will head off to hit up the Jews at AIPAC. But Latinos weren't too thrilled despite Obama's endorsement of the DREAM Act. They read it for what it is, a politically motivated campaign stop.
And the Israel section of the speech was just an elaboration of the musical version of it recorded a while back
His Arab Spring section was equally hollow. A collection of platitudes aspiring to historicity. Swollen with the cliches of the Arab Spring. The Israel section has gotten the most attention, which is not what Obama and his speechwriters intended. This was supposed to boost his foreign policy credentials and reach out to Muslims. Again.
But the speech was more revealing in what it didn't say.
The United States supports a set of universal rights. And these rights include free speech, the freedom of peaceful assembly, the freedom of religion, equality for men and women under the rule of law, and the right to choose your own leaders -– whether you live in Baghdad or Damascus, Sanaa or Tehran.
That last bit endorsed democracy in Syria, Yemen and Iran. But avoided mentioning Bahrain, where a Sunni minority allied to Saudi Arabia rules. Instead Obama called for the Bahraini government to work together with the opposition and stop arresting and suppressing protests. It's a basic difference that shows a double standard.
His new justification for continuing the Libyan war, without congressional authorization, was even more hollow
Had we not acted along with our NATO allies and regional coalition partners, thousands would have been killed. The message would have been clear: Keep power by killing as many people as it takes
Thousands? Seriously. Hypothetical thousands. That would have been a slow day in the park for Saddam. And yet Obama opposed a war to remove Saddam from power.
Obama did give a shout out to the Copts
Such tolerance is particularly important when it comes to religion. In Tahrir Square, we heard Egyptians from all walks of life chant, “Muslims, Christians, we are one.” America will work to see that this spirit prevails -– that all faiths are respected, and that bridges are built among them. In a region that was the birthplace of three world religions, intolerance can lead only to suffering and stagnation. And for this season of change to succeed, Coptic Christians must have the right to worship freely in Cairo, just as Shia must never have their mosques destroyed in Bahrain.
But clearly he doesn't understand what the word Must means. Not when he's giving Egypt a blank check on aid and backing up his call for Coptic freedom with nothing except some hollow chatter about bridge building.
Taken together the speech reminds me of a New York Times article on the region. Full of glowing sentiment, humanitarian impulses and nothing on tap but talk of pumping money into a dry well.
The signals on Israel were more mixed and often subtle. Obama defined Israel as a core interest and then went on to say that America had to move beyond core interests and commitments to friends and partners, and engage the broader aspirations of Muslims.
He once again blamed the conflict for larger problems in the Middle East, though he did it in more understated terms, but the same slander that the last year's turmoil has disproved was still there.
The phrasing also dispensed blame in a particular pattern. "Israeli settlement activity continues. Palestinians have walked away from talks." The implication being that the former caused the latter. There is no mention of continuing terrorism.
Obama goes on to push for more progress, despite events in the region. Plays the "Tough Love" card by saying, "But precisely because of our friendship, it’s important that we tell the truth: The status quo is unsustainable, and Israel too must act boldly to advance a lasting peace."
The 'too' is a farcical touch, as it implies that he has laid out something bold that the other side must do. When all he's done is mention that they should stop the violence and recognize Israel. Existing obligations that they never met.
Of course the status quo is unsustainable. But the status quo is the peace process and the splinter terrorist state stabbed into Israel's heart. And all Obama is doing is calling for a perpetuation of it.
The next section ramped up the hostility
The international community is tired of an endless process that never produces an outcome. The dream of a Jewish and democratic state cannot be fulfilled with permanent occupation.
The 'international community', the royal diplomatic we, is tired. And it's Israel fault. Of course. The dream has actually been fulfilled already. But not according to Obama, which tells us more about his view of Israel, than he meant us to know.
Now, ultimately, it is up to the Israelis and Palestinians to take action. No peace can be imposed upon them -- not by the United States; not by anybody else...
The United States believes that negotiations should result in two states, with permanent Palestinian borders with Israel, Jordan, and Egypt, and permanent Israeli borders with Palestine. We believe the borders of Israel and Palestine should be based on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps, so that secure and recognized borders are established for both states. The Palestinian people must have the right to govern themselves, and reach their full potential, in a sovereign and contiguous state.
The contradiction isn't too hard to spot. We won't impose it, but we believe this is what has to be done.
Of course it's not possible for both Israel and Terroristine to be contiguous states at the same time.
Now, let me say this: Recognizing that negotiations need to begin with the issues of territory and security does not mean that it will be easy to come back to the table. In particular, the recent announcement of an agreement between Fatah and Hamas raises profound and legitimate questions for Israel: How can one negotiate with a party that has shown itself unwilling to recognize your right to exist? And in the weeks and months to come, Palestinian leaders will have to provide a credible answer to that question.
Ah a question. There's no statement that the Palestinian Authority cannot maintain such an agreement with Hamas, rather their representatives need to have a credible answer for why they should be able to maintain such an agreement.
This is the closest to a pointed demand that gets made of Terroristine. Most of the responsibility gets placed on Israel. Again.
The speech could have been worse, but it's generally on par with what Obama has been saying all along. Which is, "We're ignoring the Bush era oral agreement. We demand that Israel solve the situation with more concessions. Israel is to blame for 70 percent of the problem, but maybe the other side gets 30 percent of the blame."
The only saving grace is that O didn't explicitly call for dividing Jerusalem, and that was only because it's an election season. But since his policies compel it anyway, it's less of a saving grace and more of a calculated dishonesty.
Caroline Glick gets to the heart of the matter
Quite simply, Obama's speech represents the effective renunciation of the US's right to have and to pursue national interests. Consequently, his speech imperils the real interests that the US has in the region - first and foremost, the US's interest in securing its national security.
Obama pays lip service to US interests, but then quickly dismisses them by saying that winning over Muslims has to be the larger goal.
So US short term interests, like for instance preventing terrorist attacks against itself or its interests, will have to be sacrificed for the greater good of bringing the Muslim Brotherhood to power in democratic elections.
By equating US long term interests, with Muslim short term interests, our interests are now those of Islam.
From Mark Steyn
If you have the Western faculty lounge attitude, which is the sewer that Obama has been marinated in, in his entire adult life, then 1967 matters far more than 1973 or 1948, or 1922, because 1967 is, as the faculty lounge left see it, the moment when the Israeli occupation began. Why, by the way, did it begin? It began because Israel’s neighbors launched another disastrous war on them. The enemy, Israel’s enemies are incompetent at fighting conventional war. And they discovered that actually instead of sending your troops into battle and keep losing their wars, why not instead play Western public opinion like a fiddle,
They're incompetent at fighting us too, but they freed more terrorists using the ACLU and Hollywood, than they did with bombs.
I would say the history of modern Western, liberal Jews is that they vote against their own, not only Israel’s best interests, but their own best interests. So you see that with the increasing number of self-loathing Jews in Britain, for example, who write to the Guardian on Israel’s birthday every year saying how they now regard the foundation of the state of Israel as a grotesque error.
This however is where a common mistake gets made. They are not voting against their interests, no more than any other group of liberals are. Their identity is liberal, not Jewish. They loathe Israel as good progressives are supposed to do. With an extra dose of loathing because they happened to be born into a culture and DNA set despised by good progressives. Which means they have to work harder to prove their bona fides to the Party.
Andrew Bostom cites Alan West and further analysis from Tevi Troy at National Review Online
Second is that Obama did not demand an end to Palestinian misbehavior so much as predict, in a removed way, that such behavior will not serve them well:
Obama is big on the passive voice.
From Jennifer Rubin at the Washington Post
No mention made of the liberation of 40 million Iraqis or that the Freedom Agenda began under his predecessor. As always, the world begins anew with Obama, and specifically with his Cairo speech.
As for the Arab Spring, Obama’sspinners engaged in some false advertising. In a conference call yesterday, they suggested aid would be linked to reform and pro-Western behavior... But the cash will flow immediately:
Reforms... we don't need no stinking reforms.
Obama stated it was U.S. policy that the final agreement would be 1967 borders with land swaps. In the past the parties were already negotiating and Israel had offered this. Now it is a precondition to further talks.
This is a key point. Obama sets preconditions on Israel which force a new set of concessions beyond those preconditions. By recognizing the 67 borders, Obama again violates the Bush era oral agreement and makes any Israel presence beyond 67 contingent on yet more concessions and Terroristine agreement.
The president rewards bad behavior by serving up a border plan just after the Hamas-Fatah unity government and in the same week that Mahmoud Abbas essentially declared perpetual war against Israel. On the positive side he did talk about a demilitarized Palestinian state.
Of course we've been talking about that forever. And the state has only gotten more militarized. US governments provide weapons and training to over a 100,000 terrorists and then talk about demilitarization.
Obama issued a fine rebuke to unilateral recognition of a Palestinian state. Absent, however, was what he is going to do about it.
Same thing he's going to do if Copts are persecuted. Send the Muslims more money.
Finally Pamela Geller cuts to the chase
Obama called for the tiny Jewish state to cut itself up into tiny pieces and retreat to indefensible 1967 borders. Since the re-establishment of the state of Israel, she has fought off Muslim invasions and war. Never at any time did the Muslim world of over 56 countries recognize Israel's right to exist.
Obama called for "contiguous" borders between Gaza, the West Bank and the Golan Heights -- cutting Israel in half again to give the Jew-hating Muslims one large and connected chunk of Israel ...
What other nation has ever had to give land away? What other nation has had its "legitimacy" questioned by the world? What other nation has done more with less? What other nation has to justify its existence? Basta!
The '67 borders are indefensible.
These days even the post Camp David borders don't look all that defensible. Not without a preemptive strike.
There's a more extensive roundup of articles at Ruthfully Yours
But good news. Obama is sending Penny Pritzker, that nice lady whose hotel hosted Ahmadinejad, to talk to Jews. Talk about not getting it. Maybe he should send her to raise money from Ahmadinejad. Since his advisers may be wizards, maybe they can magic up some gold for him.
Good news. Remember that thing Republican grass roots protesters were so angry about. Well the leading Republican presidential candidates support it. Romney, Gingrich, now Mitch Daniels. It's Mandate Party Time.
Of course they don't support a bad one like ObamaCare. No theirs is a nice and fluffy mandate. A gentle loving mandate that everyone can get behind. Daniels and Gingrich disavow any current support for a mandate. Romney is hardly even bothering to do that.
It's a measure of how little influence the grass roots are having on the field so far.
IS OUR CHILDREN LEARNING
At Commentary, Jonathan Tobin notes conflicts over the Ramapo School Board elections. These types of conflicts are not racial, they're what happens when the majority is forced to subsidize a service that they don't want or need on behalf of a minority. Especially when it's a really expensive service like the public school system.
Liberal organizations like the ADL and the Forward have been chomping at the bit to get at East Ramapo because the majority that don't use the public school system want a say in reforming it and controlling its budgets. To liberals, exercising fiscal sanity over something as sacred as the public school system is tantamount to blasphemy and maypole dancing.
But there has been a prolonged conflict going on in the Five Towns as well, with obnoxious behavior by the LTA, the local teacher's union.
The rise of religious suburbs means that you will have local governments impatient with the already huge property taxes being used to subsidize unions and minority schools. This is a critical situation in New Jersey, where Christie's popularity was boosted mostly by his willingness to take on the out of control cost of minority schools as reflected in property taxes. But the minority schools are mostly an excuse for the school bureaucracy and the teacher's unions to keep robbing taxpayers.
Property taxes have made parts of New York State unlivable and they're a major issue in New Jersey, which has the highest property taxes in the country.
The New Yorkers who moved into the suburbs and across the river wanted to get away from high taxes and crime. But many of them have been coming back. Now sizable numbers of city residents under 30 are going even further away. The black population of the city has been falling too. The whole situation is clearly untenable.
What's interesting is that all the shouting over the reforms in East Ramapo and the Five Towns predated Christie and Walker. It was a local action by taxpayers who wanted to bring an out of control school system into line. They sold school buildings that weren't being used, cut useless programs and negotiated hard on new contracts. They were the leading edge of a counterrevolution. They happened to be Orthodox Jews. But mostly they happened to be taxpayers being forced to subsidize a horribly expensive and broken system that they didn't use themselves.
That has implications that go beyond these narrow cases and to the growing conflict in America over whether the majority should continue subsidizing a deadbeat minority in a variety of areas.
Donald Boudreaux, via Ace of Spades,
Suppose that groceries were supplied in the same way as K-12 education. Residents of each county would pay taxes on their properties. Nearly half of those tax revenues would then be spent by government officials to build and operate supermarkets. Each family would be assigned to a particular supermarket according to its home address. And each family would get its weekly allotment of groceries - "for free" - from its neighborhood public supermarket.
No family would be permitted to get groceries from a public supermarket outside of its district. ...
... quality of public supermarkets would play a major role in families' choices about where to live. Real-estate agents and chambers of commerce in prosperous neighborhoods would brag about the high quality of public supermarkets to which families in their cities and towns are assigned.
... thoughtful souls would call for "supermarket choice" fueled by vouchers or tax credits. Those calls would be vigorously opposed by public-supermarket administrators and workers.
As for the handful of radicals who call for total separation of supermarket and state --- well, they would be criticized by almost everyone as antisocial devils indifferent to the starvation that would haunt the land if the provision of groceries were governed exclusively by private market forces.
Reminds me a little of my Republic of Fruitania
The Ministry of Street Fairs realizes that people are shopping for their produce at supermarkets instead. It then demands that supermarkets be also classified as street fairs, and put under the jurisdiction and tax authority of the Ministry. A Bill is introduced, "The Supermarkets are now Street Fairs" bill, to put supermarkets under the Ministry's authority, and tax them at twice the rate of street fairs. Supporters of the bill denounce the evil "Supermarket Lobby" for profiteering at the expense of the poor street fair sellers, who wish the Ministry would just go away, and starving children who need fresh fruit. The bill passes. The Ministry is congratulated for its commitment to fighting for the right of everyone to buy fruit at vastly inflated prices.
Very few people shop for produce anymore because it has become far too expensive. Falling sales insure that merchants have to raise their prices even more to compensate for decreased sales volume. Many supermarkets and sellers go out of business, creating more unemployment and even fewer people who can afford fruit. Fruit growers and importers in turn go out of business or turn to other products. Fresh fruit becomes a luxury that only the very rich can afford.
The Ministry of Street Fairs responds by creating a "Fruit Dole" which entitles every child to one apple and pear a week. This dole comes once again at the expense of the fruit sellers, which raises the general price of fruit once again. Charismatic young politicians speak out demanding "Fruit for the People" and denouncing those who prevent the people from having access to fruit, which turns out to be the fruit sellers. A radical "Fruit People's Party" is created with a call to equal fruit for everyone.
THE NEW COLONIALISM
Gen.Chen Bingde, China’s top military officer, has some of his own ideas about fighting Somali pirates who are menacing shipping lanes off the Horn of Africa.
His suggestion: Go after their paymasters on land.
Asked about China’s antipiracy force in the Gulf of Aden, Gen. Chen said, “ I personally believe that we should not only fight with pirates on the sea, but also on the ground – because those operating pirates on the sea are simply low-ranking ones, and the true masterminds are on the ground.”
China already has virtual colonies in parts of Africa, that are beginning to look a lot like the European outposts of old. Combine that with Chinese occupation forces and you have all the ingredients of a new colonialism. Except this time without Europeans being involved.
Of course the three monkey left isn't capable of seeing colonialism when it's practiced by Arab states or any non-white country. It'll take a while until they actually notice it. And they'll have to accept it. After all who are we to criticize their culture.
Not that I object to the PRC doing the job that Americans just won't do. And doing it in a way that actually gets results, with heads placed on poles in every port. It's bound to happen sooner or later. Indeed if the demographic Jihad takes Europe and Russia, and America turns into Brazil, then it will come down to China and the Muslim world. China has no religious conflict with Islam, but it's determined to be a great power, and Muslims don't like infidels with ambition.
NOT LE RAPE RAPE
There is all the usual outrage from Anglo outlets about the laissez-faire attitude toward the charges against Dominique Strauss-Kahn. Some are attributing it to political or racial factors, but it's just the way things are and have been for a rather long time.
I'm reminded of the French commander during the Boxer Rebellion who answered objections to the rape spree of Chinese women by saying that he could not restrain the 'gallantry' of his men. His modern day counterparts think that you can't restrain the gallantry of IMF and Socialist politicians either.
The French aren't entirely wrong about a justice system in which famous people are dragged through the mud before the trial even begins. A process that heavily favors the prosecution. By now most people have already decided that Strauss-Kahn is guilty, based only on the photos of him being led disheveled and in handcuffs with the implication that he tried to flee the country.
Of course the French criminal justice system is worse in its own way. So is the Italian, as Amanda Knox could tell you. Most First World countries have their mutually infuriating aspects. And few people are going to cheer seeing one of their countrymen propelled through a process they find bizarre.
Beyond the procedural there is a clash of mores. Americans and French both hold stereotypes of the other. The French as permissive and wanton, the Americans as uptight puritans. These attitudes are less a matter of conduct and more a matter of perception, but the differences are there in practice too.
America and France may be allies, but there are also basic cultural differences. Despite their revolutions, the French have retained much more of the privileges of elitism. The idea that powerful men should enjoy a superior status is embedded in a way that it is not in the United States. The nature of the nobility has not changed, but not entirely gone away.
Sexual attitudes differ dramatically for cultural reasons. There are many Americans of French ancestry, but American culture was shaped by dissident Anglo religious movements. Those movements were often concerned with the simplicity of inward righteousness and the family. America is slower to reform, but its reforms are more than skin deep. Accordingly minorities had lower legal status in the United States for longer, but when their status improved, it more improved more broadly. Female equality in the United States hasn't led to as many female leaders as in Europe, but it has also extended to more women by changing attitudes, rather than just formalities.
Legal equality in America is a moral value first and a legal value second. In France it's a Republican value first and a moral value second.
THE GINGRICH GAMES
It's possible to disagree with Gingrich, to even say that he was absolutely wrong to suggest that the Ryan Plan is right wing social engineering, without sinking to articles about his Tiffany bill or constant announcements that he's finished and done. Or attempts to cultivate a campaign of constant ridicule. Many of the same people tried to do the same thing to Christine O'Donnell. And how did that work out exactly for everyone?
Gingrich isn't done. Not over this anyway. To anyone who isn't passionately fired up over the Ryan Plan to Lose the 2012 Election, this is a tempest in a teapot. Whoever the Republican presidential nominee will be, the odds of them endorsing a plan to end Medicare during the actual campaign are low.
Was Gingrich irresponsible? He could have phrased it better. But Ryan and his supporters were much more irresponsible for bringing forward a controversial plan that plays very badly, particularly in blue states, before a national election. The worst thing that can come out of Gingrich's remark is a few election ads. The worst consequences of Ryan's plan could be a completely blown election. And what happens to entitlement reform then?
Winning means being in touch with reality. Repealing ObamaCare is popular. Removing Medicare, less so. Most people who aren't Reason readers are not going to be all that fired up about privatization. And the best time to make the case to them is not before a national election, but when you actually have the votes to pass your plan. Even Obama didn't come out for the mandate during the election. Are we going to be dumber than him?
And articles and posts denouncing seniors for stealing from the young are not helping things any. Who exactly are they supposed to convince, and of what? You don't get people on board with reform by scapegoating them. How well did that work out for Obama and Wall Street?
Let's look at how Cameron is handling it in the UK.
In a keynote speech, the Prime Minister will detail the “real problems” within the health system, citing cancer survival rates that lag behind the rest of Europe.
Striking a personal note, Mr Cameron says he loves the NHS and what it has done for his family, which was why it needs to be improved.
However, he will refer to a “vast mailbag” from patients calling for change which he has received throughout his time as an MP as well as prime minister.
In the speech at a hospital in London, Mr Cameron will say: “It is because I love the NHS so much that I want to change it, because the fact is the NHS needs to change…
“It needs to change to avoid a crisis tomorrow.”
Sometimes the simple things are best.
Huckabee is out. Trump is out (and yes he was serious about running this time). And the populist spot is in flux. Cain took it from Trump. But the odds look very good that Palin will take it from Cain.
Is that a good thing? I don't know. I like Palin's politics. I called for her to be the VP nominee before McCain picked her. But she needs to shake up her public persona if she's going to win over swing voters. And even many Republicans. Palin's image plays very well to a part of the party, but she has a major image problem nationwide and the polls reflect that.
Palin is a canny politician. Most don't give her credit for that. She built up a whole organization and a national presence in preparation for this. She has favors to cash in and this time she won't be isolated, the way she was during the 2008 election. She picked up a lot more national campaign experience in 2010. She's learned to use New Media to her advantage.
All that stuff is there and most people don't give her nearly enough credit for it. This woman is miles away from the stereotype the left has circulated of her. She's done more to prepare for this than anyone else running, including Romney. And she has a sense of mission. She believes that she's meant for this.
That's a lot of good stuff right there. But unless she can also shake up her image, it will probably be for nothing. She's sold a lot of the party on herself as a caring mother and a committed activist. But she hasn't sold portions of the party or the country on herself as a leader. And I think that's a basic mistake. Unless she can convincingly make the case, without the hockey mom stuff, that she has serious proposals and she knows what she's talking about-- then this has been a lot of work for nothing.
Sarah Palin is smart and she's good at what she does. Her career proves it. But most people believe what they see. It's not enough that Palin was a successful governor and that she's built a political empire and a substantial media presence in very little time. She needs to communicate her intelligence and skills through her personality. Palin's homey persona has served her well up till now, but if she's going to run for a national office, she needs to show she can transcend it.