Friday, August 17, 2012

Mordechai Kedar: King Mursi the First


by Mordechai Kedar

Read the article in the original עברית
Read the article in Italiano (translated by Yehudit Weisz, edited by Angelo Pezzana)

Nine months ago, in November of 2011, the Muslim Brotherhood won almost half of the seats of the Egyptian "Peoples' Council", thus translating the long-standing support of the population into a political asset of undeniable strength. This success encouraged them to contend for the presidency as well, and in June their representative - Mohammad Mursi - won this exalted office. The Supreme Military Council, the military body that had been managing affairs in Egypt since Mubarak was sent packing in February 2011, ground its teeth with rage, and the head of the Council - Field Marshall Hussein Tantawi - who was suspected of intending to remain in control until the end of his days, announced again and again that he does not intend to turn into Mubarak number 2. Despite this, there was an open rivalry between the military and the Brotherhood: on one side is an unelected body, which is powerful, violent, hated, secular, self-interested, armed, hierarchical, obedient and disciplined; and on the other hand there was an elected body, supported by the public, not violent, religious, ideological, connected to the population and perceived as the embodiment of the dream of many years.


During the past months, especially since Mursi was elected in June, Egypt seemed like a rickety cart, pulled by two horses, but each in its own direction. Each horse tries to step on the other's hoofs, trying to negate the strength of the other, despite the fact that both of them know that they are destined to pull the cart together. The Supreme Constitutional Court dispersed the parliament, thus pulling an important rug out from under the feet of the Brotherhood. The Supreme Military Council issued an order to freeze the powers of the president, but then Mursi cut off the head of the military snake, Tantawi, Commander in chief Anan, Head of General Intelligence Muaffi, and a long line of officers, "tails" of the old regime, who had been appointed by Mubarak, with one decision that appeared as if it was exploiting the attack on the Kerem Shalom Crossing two weeks ago.

As of the writing of these lines, not a word of public outcry has been heard by all of the symbols of Mubarak's regime that Mursi sent packing, and the impression that is created is that they have accepted the decision and quietly left their offices . It could be that they indeed have accepted this "boot upwards": Some of them have joined the "presidential team" as very close advisers to Mursi so that he would be able to keep an eye on their doings, and some accepted high positions in public service.

But behind the scenes a difficult struggle was being played out: In the middle of last week, President Mursi held a discussion of the Council of National Defense in his office, which dealt with the implications of the terror attack at the Kerem Shalom Crossing and with the security situation in Sinai. Mursi, Tantawi, Anan and other senior officers were all participants in this discussion, during which,Tantawi claimed that Egyptian intelligence had information on the involvement of Palestinian elements in the attack, and that Israel had paid them. Therefore - in his view - Egypt must hermetically close the Rafah Crossing, because of the threat to Egyptian national security that it poses. Mursi became enraged and said: I do not believe that a Palestinian would do this, and if you had prior information about it why did you not act appropriately? I will not permit the closing of the crossing because I don't suspect that Hamas took part in the action." Tantawi rejected the words of the president and emphasized that the Supreme Military Council had decided to close the Rafah Passage completely, and perhaps it would be opened in the distant future. "We, the military people, are in charge of that." With these words, Mursi answered sharply: "I am the high commander of the Egyptian military." The meeting dispersed after deciding to deal with the centers of terrorism in Sinai with full determination and without any sensitivity, without the "Supreme Court" or the prying eyes of human rights organizations, as is commonly done in the Arab world. Last Saturday, the president met with Tantawi and Anan, and did not reveal to them that he was about to fire them within a few hours.

The military did not come to the defense of Tantawi and Anan, and General Intelligence did not express a public objection on the dismissal of Muaffi. This begs the question: how did the powerful heads of all of these bodies submit and unquestioningly accept upon themselves the supreme authority of Mursi? Have they all become faithful followers of the Muslim Brotherhood? Not quite. One possible explanation is that those who were dismissed are quite advanced in years (Tantawi is 76 years old) and they have no desire to continue in difficult and demanding military roles for many more years. Another explanation, and in my opinion much more likely, is that those who were dismissed, especially Tantawi, told Mursi, either explicitly or implicitly, "Take the country and let's see you manage it with your Brothers". Because in the background is the precarious economic situation of Egypt: no tourism, no foreign investment, dwindling foreign reserves, all within the context of a deep global crisis, with European states collapsing, and there is no redeemer on the horizon except - perhaps - the United States, which, up until now has not understood how to relate to the Muslim Brotherhood: as a legitimate regime or a group of radical Islamists. In this situation, a person would need great faith in the One Who dwells on High to believe that Egypt can be rescued, so those who were dismissed apparently are not enthusiastic believers after all.

However, it may be that in the near future, the military will indeed come into conflict with the president, when the latter tries to get his hands on the assets of the military. In Egypt the military is an economic empire, which is called "the National Service Project Organization", and was founded in the beginning of the eighties in order to provide work for the many people of the military who were dismissed as a result of the peace agreement with Israel. There are estimates that between 25 and 40 percent of the Gross National Product of Egypt is connected with the companies, banks and corporations that belong to the military. The situation has become so severe that in recent months the military has been loaning money to the state. This may sound illogical, but this is the situation in Egypt: the military has more wealth than the state, and its economic power - most of which is hidden from the public eye - is not subject to the authority of the state. The companies that belong to the military are active in all areas of the economy: management of real estate, domestic services, restaurants, petrol stations, food industries, as well as chemical, petrochemical and plastics industries. The Egyptian weapons industry is entirely - and openly - under the auspices of the "minister of defense and military industries". This activity is conducted openly because of the connections that this industrial complex has with companies abroad, especially with the United States, and the global prohibition of clandestine action in the business of weapons and ammunition.

One of the important reasons for the wealth of the labyrinth of companies that have connections with the military is the fact that their earnings are tax-free and there is no need to report them to the tax authority. These companies have supported each other because they don't need to bid for contracts. The economic conduct of the military has created in Egypt two main economic classes: those who enjoy the benefits of the military industries and those who are far from the plate. This causes a wide economic gap resulting in corruption, discrimination, cronyism and public rage.

Mursi certainly knows the economic empire of the military well , and sooner or later he will try to get the state's hands on it. What will the military do then? Will it submit or will it fight?

It seems that the military would prefer to come to an agreement with the president and to avoid having a head-on collision with him, because since the revolution and the deep economic crisis, millions of Egyptian families have been brought to indigence, and this has resulted in public sensitivity toward the wealth of the military.

On the Way to a Religious Dictatorship?

The heads of the security system were dismissed because of the public rage that arose as a result of the murder of the Egyptian soldiers, and the sense of the public that the military did not act appropriately to safeguard the lives of the soldiers. Mursi exploited this mood to the fullest and enhanced his status as president by dismissing the almost omnipotent military chiefs. It is important to note that this public rage was also exploited by the media, because in dealing with the most recent attack, they are at Mursi's service in all matters. He is presented as the ideal man, with clean hands and a pure heart, the redeemer of Egypt, the right man in the right place, the man that Egypt has awaited for so many years. On the other hand, journalists and broadcasters who have dared to criticize him were silenced and arrested, and charges were brought against them for spreading lies. It seems that the Egyptian media, which, during the last year, enjoyed great freedom after sixty years of military rule, were again impressed into serving the regime, but this time for the benefit of civil rule . Anyone who listens today to Egyptian broadcast stations gets the impression that a heavy hand is controlling them and that they broadcast only whatever President Mursi expects them to broadcast.

However, in the international media, which are not under the supervision of the Muslim Brotherhood, many Egyptians express their concern over Mursi's style of rule: did the Egyptian people overthrow a secular dictator, in order to have a religious one? This question is especially sharp in light of the fact that the revolution originally was not religious, but rather civil, because the youth of Tahrir Square who overthrew Mubarak in January-February 2011 were secular, liberal and freedom seekers, while the Muslim Brotherhood rode the wave of revolution in a later phase, taking advantage of it in order to take over the state. The youth of the revolution hear the Egyptian broadcast stations today and understand that their sacrifice - including fatalities, wounded and severe humiliation - was in vain, because religious rule was the last thing they would have wished for.

On the other hand, Mursi is also severely criticized by the Salafis, who have great strength among the population, having won a quarter of the parliamentary seats. They complain about Mursi, mainly in their sermons in the mosques, that he does not intend to implement Sharia law as the law of the land, and their fixed question is: "Why did you deserve to come into power?" The question hints at the possibility that the Brotherhood is nothing but bloodthirsty pursuers of power and authority, and that they really have no intention to impose Islamic law on the state. This accusation is very disturbing to Mursi and his associates, because it is intended to undermine the religious legitimacy of his regime.

Criticism from a third side comes from the direction of the Christian Copts, who compose about twenty percent of the citizens of Egypt. Since Mursi was elected as president they feel increasingly threatened by Muslims, and bloody confrontations occur more and more often between these two groups. As a result of this, many Copts seek desperately for a way to emigrate from Egypt, and this fact increases the Muslim rage against them, because although emigration will hopefully solve the problem of the Copts, the Muslims will remain to wallow in the mire of the chronic problems that Egypt suffers from.

The Peace Agreement With Israel

Many in Israel and in the world are very disturbed by the possibility that Mursi will sacrifice the peace agreement with Israel on the altar of building his own and his regime's legitimacy. Won't the person who succeeded in removing the head of the Supreme Military Council, also be able to remove the Israeli ambassador? This could happen if Israeli attacks Gaza or Sinai, but even then, Egypt will keep the proper level of diplomatic representation, by means of maintaining a consulate, an acting Israeli Embassy or by placing an Israeli representative within the framework of another embassy, for example Switzerland.

Cancelling the peace agreement could cause severe damage to the already shaky Egyptian economy, because the atmosphere of war would chase away the tourists and investors, and might increase the price of insurance for the ships that pass through the Suez Canal, thus increasing the motivation of the carriers to find ways around the Suez Canal. One possibility is to transfer oil by way of the Eilat-Ahskelon pipeline, which will bring additional income to Israel.

Israeli politicians, ministers (this week it was the secretary of state), members of Knesset and other officials, say publicly and without hesitation that the peace between Israel and Egypt is in the interest of Egypt, and that Egypt must put an end to the chaos in Sinai because it is a threat to Egypt, not only to Israel, and the attack two weeks ago proves this. I do not reject this Israeli evaluation, however the fact that many Israelis say this over and over again creates the impression that they are afraid and shaking with fear lest the peace agreement might be cancelled, and therefore they try to convince the Egyptians that this agreement is in Egypt's interest even more than it is in Israel's interest. But this kind of talk might cause the opposite result: a member of the Muslim Brotherhood might ask himself: if the Israelis are so fearful about the cancellation of the peace treaty then perhaps it's the right thing to do? Israelis do not understand that their obsessive preoccupation in the media with the question of the peace agreement with Egypt actually endangers the peace agreement. Irresponsible Israeli chatter on the subject exposes Israeli fear, and as a result of this, many Egyptians call on Mursi to open the agreements and to behave as the master and the sovereign over Sinai, to stop supplying gas to Israel without regard to the resulting loss of income, and to remove the Israeli flag from Cairo.

Many Israelis do not know the rules of the game of the Middle East: the more we show enthusiasm for something, the higher its price rises, and the opposite holds true as well: the less interest we express in something, the lower the demanded price will be. If we announce day and night that we want peace with our enemies or to obtain the release of a kidnapped soldier who is in their hands - the price for the peace or the soldier will be more than we can pay. But if we broadcast a message that we can do without peace, and will not pay an exorbitant price for a kidnapped soldier, then the price will decrease to a reasonable level, one which is worth paying.

We have had another example in recent weeks: in order to fight terror in Sinai, Egypt requested from Israel to agree to bring tanks and helicopters into Sinai, which is forbidden according to the military appendix to the peace agreement. It seems that the government of Israel agreed to this extremely quickly and the process of decision making was greatly expedited. On one hand this is a correct and appropriate decision, because it is important that we support Egypt to cope with the terror in Sinai. But on the other hand, the Israeli haste in taking the decision broadcasts the very harmful and dangerous message that Israel is willing to yield quickly a central component of its security - the demilitarization of the Sinai - in exchange for preventing terror activity on its borders. That is, Israel sees a terror group as a greater danger than the Egyptian army deployed on its borders. Have the eyes of those who make decisions about our security, who have served in the most elite units in the IDF, become so dim? Has anyone thought about the long-term implication of bringing in the Egyptian military to Sinai? Was the permission that was given to Egypt limited in time, or might everything that was brought in remain forever? What will Israel do with requests to bring in additional weapons to Sinai? And what will Israel do if the Egyptians begin to stream weapons into Sinai - "in order to fight terror" - without Israel's permission?

I still harbor the hope within myself that the day will come when our decision makers will understand better the mindset of the Middle East, and will take decisions in a way that will strengthen Israel and not weaken her. This is especially important since the Islamic King Mursi the First is increasing his strength in Egypt, and his personal and ideological view is that Israel can evaporate together with its peace agreement.

===============

Dr. Kedar is available for lectures in the U.S. and Canada

Dr. Mordechai Kedar (Mordechai.Kedar@biu.ac.il) is an Israeli scholar of Arabic and Islam, a lecturer at Bar-Ilan University and the director of the Center for the Study of the Middle East and Islam (under formation), Bar Ilan University, Israel. He specializes in Islamic ideology and movements, the political discourse of Arab countries, the Arabic mass media, and the Syrian domestic arena.

Translated from Hebrew by Sally Zahav.

Links to Dr. Kedar's recent articles on this blog:

Source: The article is published in the framework of the Center for the Study of the Middle East and Islam (under formation), Bar Ilan University, Israel. Also published in Makor Rishon, a Hebrew weekly newspaper.

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

Getting Priorities Wrong in Egypt and Syria: Three Media Case Studies


by Barry Rubin

As I lay here waiting for the gurney to take me into the operating room and read the hundreds of kind letters from so many of you I hope to fill in your time with one more article

Focus is everything, knowing what the central problem is and dealing with it. Here I want to discuss three articles that I basically agree with to point out how they miss the key issue and thus are somewhat misleading. I’m glad to see these three articles being published but it’s a case of, to quote Lenin, two steps forward, one step back.

First, the Washington Post published an editorial entitled, “The time for patience in Syria is over.” It criticizes “America’s long paralysis in responding to the conflict in Syria,” pointing out that the war and horrific bloodshed is escalating. And it concludes:

“President Obama called on [President Bashar al-] Assad to leave office, a proper reaction to the brutality. But Mr. Obama has not backed his words with actions that might help them come true.”

It isn’t every day that a mass media organ criticizes Obama. Yet there are two problems. One is that the measures the newspaper proposes are very much out of date:

“No one is arguing for a Libyan-style intervention into Syria at this point. But the United States and its NATO allies could begin contingency planning for a no-fly zone, now that Mr. Assad is deploying aircraft against the opposition. Instead of providing only non-lethal support, such as medical supplies and communications gear, America could help supply weapons to the outgunned opposition fighters. It could work with Turkey and other allies to set up havens for them.”

Since the opposition has been asking for a “no-fly zone” for about six months, arguing that the NATO allies “could begin contingency planning” for one isn’t exactly a bold measure. Moreover, while the United States is only directly “providing only non-lethal support,” it is facilitating the supply of lethal weapons by Saudi Arabia and Qatar. And third, there are already safe havens for the opposition fighters in Turkey.

So none of those three ideas are decisive or even highly relevant. The key point is mentioned in passing in another passage, calling on the United States, “…To get a better read on opposition forces and to encourage those less inclined toward sectarianism.”

Yet this is the central issue! There is no point in supporting an opposition that’s going to procue a government dominated by the Muslim Brotherhood and Salafists! That’s the issue: The United States should do everything possible to help moderates—both defected officers and liberal politicians–gain the upper hand. It should work closely with the Kurds and press hard to make sure that Christians are protected and that the opposition (or at least parts of the opposition responsible) will be punished if it commits massacres.

Is that so hard to see?

But guess what? Senator Mario Rubio also never mentions the Islamism issue in his article on how the United States should intervene in Syria. He better get an advisor who knows something about the Middle East fast or he may end up as another John McCain on the Middle East.

Second, Vali Nasr has some good points in a New York Times op-ed. But I perceive two very big flaws. One of them is a warning:

“If the Syrian conflict explodes outward, everyone will lose: it will spill into neighboring Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq and Turkey. Lebanon and Iraq in particular are vulnerable; they, too, have sectarian and communal rivalries tied to the Sunni-Alawite struggle for power next door.”

Really? The issue is not that the conflict is going to spill over but that it is part of a Sunni-Shia battle that will be a major feature of the region in the coming decades. Lebanon and Iraq are merely other fronts in this battle and whatever happens in Syria isn’t going to start some new problem in those countries.

The question is merely who wins in Syria. A Sunni victory in Syria would empower a moderate-led Sunni community in Lebanon against Hizballah. As for Iraq, another Sunni power will make that government unhappy but isn’t going to intensify already existing sectarian tensions there. And Kurdish autonomy in Syria isn’t going to set off a Kurdish-Turkish war in Turkey either.

But it is dangerous to pretend that a solution in Syria will make the Sunni-Shia battle go away. The most likely change is a post-Assad regime that would strengthen the Sunni side in the regional picture. That’s good if you feel Iran is the main threat but bad if you worry about growing Sunni Islamism.

The other point is even more serious. Nasr advocates bringing Russia and Iran into some kind of joint solution in Syria:

“But the single most important participant would be Iran. It alone has the influence on Mr. Assad and the trust of various parts of his government to get them to buy in to a transition.” This kind of talk makes for an op-ed likely to be published and appreciated in the United States, but such arguments have no connection to the reality on the ground.

The interests of the outside and inside parties are too much at odds. Anyone who imagines that the current regime and the opposition can form some kind of coalition arrangement under international pressure is imagining things. And when analysts promote fantasies they are not doing anyone a favor. Even if such a thing would be cobbled together it would collapse in weeks.

Let’s face reality. Either Assad will survive and unleash a bloodbath or he will be replaced by the opposition, which might unleash a bloodbath. Again, that’s why the main priority must be to support moderates, including Kurdish nationalists seeking autonomy, in the opposition. Moreover, why should the United States possibly want to please Tehran, whose regime is the world’s leading source of international terrorism, anti-Americanism, subversion in the Middle East, and antisemitism that is doing everything possible to obtain nuclear weapons and using them for aggressive purposes? Of course, at times one can overreach and compromise can be useful. Yet the dominant idea in the current era seems to be that helping your friends and weakening your enemies is some kind of bizarre belief. In Syria it makes no sense at all.

My third case study is a Los Angeles Times article about growing Islamism and radical Islamic intolerance in Egypt. It is welcome that the newspaper is actually covering this story. But there’s something very curious in the article. Every example of extremism is portrayed as being Salafists. The Muslim Brotherhood are the moderates:

“President Mohamed Morsi, a religious conservative, has called for tolerance, but many Islamic fundamentalists see a historic moment to impose sharia, or Islamic law, on a country left off balance by political unrest and economic turmoil.”

In other words, there are these bad extremists who want to impose Sharia but fortunately the Muslim Brotherhood and the president it elected are against it!

The article continues:

“The struggle between ultraconservative and moderate Islamists has reverberated through generations. It is as critical a balancing test for Morsi as his battle to pressure the Egyptian military to relinquish control over the nation. Morsi courted Salafis during his campaign and is now confronted with their agenda and insistence that he not appoint a woman or a Christian as a vice president.”

I don’t think the Brotherhood was eager to appoint a woman or a Christian as vice-president, since its position on the issue has been identical to that of the Salafists. To portray Morsi as a man who might want to restrain the Salafists somewhat makes sense but only in the context of having the same goals but more patient tactics. If the Muslim Brotherhood is now the protector of democracy, moderation, and tolerance in Egypt, those three virtues don’t have much of a future there.

The article is on somewhat better grounds by calling the al-Azhar university establishment as “moderate thinkers,” though they are also capable of very radical stances. Yet there’s another problem here: eventually the government will remove the al-Azhar leaders and replace them with reliable Brotherhood members.

And the article seems wrong when it says, “Moderates call for a document based on the “principles” of sharia, which would be less strict and offer broader civil liberties to women as well as Christians and other non-Muslims.” According to reports in the Egyptian media the Salafists have accepted the “principles” approach because of another provision that the meaning of that term will be determined by clerics and not judges. And, anyway, isn’t Morsi and a parliament dominated by Brotherhood and Salafist legislatures going to be choosing judges in future? And there are plenty of radical Islamists who can and will become court judges.

The article quotes Mahmoud Ashour, a former deputy al-Azhar official now at the Islamic Research Center as saying, “President Morsi cannot hide from these issues.” Hide from them? They are the center of his program!

This article was also published in PJ Media

Barry Rubin

Source: http://www.gloria-center.org/2012/08/getting-priorities-wrong-in-egypt-and-syria-three-media-case-studies/

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

Romney Gets Poll Bounce in Swing States


by Alana Goodman

Via the Purple Poll, Mitt Romney has seen gains in Ohio and Pennsylvania since choosing Paul Ryan as his running mate. While President Obama has made some inroads in Colorado and Florida, Romney still leads by a 1-point margin in the latter:

Romney has seen the largest gain in Ohio, a state we have seen bounce between the campaigns over the last few months. Today, the GOP ticket leads by 2 points (46% to 44%), compared to July when President Obama led the state 48% to 45%. Romney also gained ground in Virginia – today, he and Paul Ryan hold a 3-point advantage in the race (48% to 45%), while Romney trailed by 2 points in July.

However, President Obama has seen improvements in Colorado and Florida. In Colorado, the Obama-Biden ticket now leads 49% to 46%, an increase from a 1-point lead in July. In Florida, the Democratic ticket trails by just 1 point (48% to 47%), compared to a 3 point deficit in July.

The bounce can either be chalked up to Ryan (a sign that the choice is already paying dividends), or to momentum that was with Romney before the VP announcement (which would contradict speculation that Romney only chose Ryan out of desperation).

There are also some interesting numbers on Medicare inside the poll. In Florida, Romney-Ryan and Obama-Biden are in a virtual tie on the question of who will best protect Medicare. More Floridians also describe the Romney-Ryan budget plan as “reduc[ing] the deficit/help[ing] the economy and Medicare” as opposed to “tax breaks for the rich/end[ing] Medicare.”

Interestingly enough, Romney-Ryan are also viewed as the candidates most likely to bring “real change” to Washington. Apparently voters don’t hold out hope that a second Obama term will be much different from the first.

Alana Goodman

Source: http://www.commentarymagazine.com/2012/08/16/romney-poll-bounce-swing-states-medicare-florida/

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

Spot the Haters


by Thomas Lifson

The rhetoric of the left appears to have provoked a terror attack on a leading conservative organization yesterday. Floyd Corkins II, who shot a guard at the Family Research Council yesterday, appears to have been a gay activist who may have been inspired to violence by rhetoric claiming that opposition to redefining marriage amounts to hate. AP reports:

the shooter made a negative reference about the work of the Family Research Council before opening fire. The officials spoke anonymously because they were not authorized to discuss the ongoing investigation.

David Mariner is executive director of The DC Center for the LGBT Community. He says Corkins had been volunteering at the center for about the past 6 months. Mariner describes Corkins as "kind, gentle and unassuming."

William Jacobson of Legal Insurrection has been following the Southern Poverty Law Center, which raises millions and pays its leadership lavishly, falsely applying the hate label to those with whom it disagrees, including the FRC:

In seeking to justify its hefty salaries, budget and fundraising, SPLC made a very dangerous leap to treating political opponents as "hate groups" and speech it didn't like as "hate speech." (snip)

SPLC continued its agenda against the Tea Party and conservatives when it persisted in claiming that Jared Loughner was "right wing" long after it was clear that was not the case.

SPLC also moved on to the issue of marriage, and named several groups - including the Family Research Council and the National Organization for Marriage - as hate groups, SPLC Demonizes Supporters of Traditional Marriage:

Time and again SPLC, through its Hatewatch division, seeks to shut down debate by applying the "hate group" or similar epithets to political opponents, and those political opponents almost always are conservative.

Being labeled a "hate group" by SPLC can be devastating, because most of the country is unaware of how politicized SPLC has become....

SPLC is at it again, with a list of 18, "anti-gay"groups, 13 of whom also will make SPLC's upcoming "hate group" list....

Most of these groups are unknown to me, although a couple are well-known Christian groups, such as American Family Association and Family Research Council (both of these entities will be on SPLC's upcoming Hate Group list). I don't defend or not defend these groups because I don't know much about them, but based upon SPLC's past performance, the burden should be on SPLC to make the case for including a group on a hate list.

All these groups, with one exception below, were included for having a fundamentalist Christian view of homosexuality and gay marriage. Oddly, no Orthodox Jewish or Muslim groups were included, even though those religious affiliations have views not much different from fundamentalist Christians....

The inclusion of NOM on this list really is outrageous, and typical of how SPLC seeks to demonize a mainstream conservative (and in this case, constitutional) view. The explanation SPLC gives for including NOM is flimsy and filled with innuendo.

And so it came to pass, support for retaining the centuries old definition of marriage as one man, one woman, routinely now is labeled as "hate speech" on campuses and increasingly in the liberal-dominated media. Groups which support retaining the definition now are hate groups - with SPLC cited as the authority.

With the SPLC fanning the flames, the Chick fil-A company has been subjected to vandalism, protests, and charged with serving "hate" (This from famous Chicago chef Art Smith, reportedly a favorite of the Obamas when dining out) merely because its president does not favor redefining marriage.

One of the foremost tactics of the left, particularly the gay left, has been to label those with whom the disagree as "haters." This stops arguments over substance, and turns to emotional blackmail and victimology. But it also has consequences. Convince yourself that others hate you, and response "in kind" (hating them) is natural. Sadly, a portion of the public (of all political stripes).

The National Organization for Marriage is directly challenging the SPLC. Jordy Yager in The Hill:

The National Organization for Marriage (NOM), one of the nation's leading opponents of same-sex marriage, told The Hill the shooting was a direct result of the Southern Poverty Law Center's decision in 2010 to place the FRC on its list of hate groups for its rhetoric on gays.

Brian Brown, the president of NOM, pointed to a recent blog post by the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), one of the largest gay-rights groups in the country. The post, "Paul Ryan Speaking at Hate Group's Annual Conference," called attention to the vice presidential candidate's scheduled appearance at the FRC's national summit next month.

"Today's attack is the clearest sign we've seen that labeling pro-marriage groups as 'hateful' must end," Brown said in a statement issued following the shooting.

"For too long national gay rights groups have intentionally marginalized and ostracized pro-marriage groups and individuals by labeling them as 'hateful' and 'bigoted.'"

It is time for responsible supporters of gay marriage to admit that opposition to redefining marriage is not hateful, that it is legitimate position. Those who continue to hurl the "hate" label ar those who disagree, are themselves haters, and now they have blood on their hands.

John Hinderaker of Powerline has a characteristically intelligent summation of where we now stand:

Of course, denouncing proponents of traditional marriage as "haters" isn't the only instance of over-the-top liberal rhetoric; on the contrary, hysteria is their stock in trade. Thus, we see Barack Obama claiming that Mitt Romney causes cancer, and Joe Biden asserting bizarrely that Republicans want to put someone-African-Americans, I guess, by a process of elimination-"back in chains." Liberals should take a deep breath and re-think how they talk about public policy issues. If they are looking for haters, it would seem that the mirror is a good place to start.

Thomas Lifson

Source: http://www.americanthinker.com/blog/2012/08/spot_the_haters.html

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

Obama's Shared Prosperity: A Euphemism Wrapped in a Lie


by Daren Jonescu

(See also: "From the Giving Pledge to Totalitarianism")

Those who believed, in 2008, that Obama's off-the-cuff "spread the wealth around" line was indicative of his real, socialistic intentions, rather than simply a poor word choice, can now relax. The president has finally clarified things, this time with the benefit of a script, so at last we can understand his true plans.

As it turns out, his remark to Joe the Plumber was merely a gaffe after all. For we now know that when he said "spread the wealth," what he really meant was "share the prosperity." See the difference? No? Then allow me to unpack it for you.

"Spread the wealth around" sounded like the casual remark of a tone-deaf authoritarian, someone used to speaking to rooms full of like-minded leftists. The problem lay chiefly in the word "spread": so impersonal, it gives the impression that someone -- Obama obviously meant government -- should just forcibly disperse the successful citizen's property to others, willy-nilly.

Government will spread your wealth around. Aside from completely addle-minded, entitlement-besotted slugs, what American would approve of reconfiguring America in accordance with such a principle?

Four years on, Team Obama has refined the message considerably, or at least kept the spokesman on script. First of all, the impersonal external force implied by the word "spread" has been replaced with the modern moral euphemism "sharing." Obama puts it this way:

The question in this election is, "Which way do we go?" Do we go forward towards a new vision of an America in which prosperity is shared, or do we go backward to the same policies that got us into this mess in the first place? I believe we have to go forward.

So the stakes are clearly set out: Obama intends to complete his fundamental transformation -- here dubbed a "new vision" -- of America, turning a nation that, at least in theory, defends the right to private property, into one in which private property is phased out. But don't worry -- none of this will be done in a way that ought to offend anyone. For this isn't a matter of forcing you to give up your property. This is about "sharing." In other words, your sacrifice of natural rights is no longer represented as a compulsion from without. It is now a moral imperative: successful Americans ought to be willing to "share." That is to say, if you do not accept this "new vision," you are morally culpable.

Better yet, notice how the new, improved version of the Obama manifesto has set its sights higher than his earlier, crassly expressed concern for mere "wealth." This time, they are coming for your "prosperity." (That the word "property" is neatly hidden within "prosperity" is just one of progressivism's cute little inside jokes -- like this year's emphasis on the word "forward," which the brains of this outfit know all too well has a long communist pedigree.)

Wealth is merely your goods, your stuff. That may have been enough to satisfy the gluttony of your garden-variety Democrat of yesteryear, but today's hardcore neo-Marxists need more. They are not primarily interested in buying votes by playing on people's stupid sentimentality. They want America's soul. Prosperity is akin to happiness, and it runs deeper than mere wealth. It encompasses your general well-being, your satisfaction with life, your feeling that your endeavors are, or have been, worthwhile and successful.

In short, to prosper may include the gaining of wealth, but it suggests a much broader form of success: an overcoming of the natural obstacles, trials, and hardships that life places before us all. Such an overcoming is necessarily always partial, just as it is sometimes, sadly, fleeting. As humans are mortal, flawed, and fragile beings, prosperity cannot be guaranteed, and it cannot be permanent.

Prosperity, to the extent that is within our control, is largely a matter of personal responsibility. If it comes, it comes primarily as the product of individual will and effort. In no meaningful sense can it be handed to us. It is pursued, as the American founders understood and emphasized. A rights-based society of free individuals is the most humane and dignified society, because it is the society that most respects the risks and difficulties inherent in the pursuit of prosperity, and seeks to protect all men against coercive violations of that pursuit -- i.e., to give every individual a fighting chance at the goal we all strive towards.

Obama's call for "shared prosperity" must be parsed in light of these considerations. And since he and his speechwriters have apparently decided that the 2012 election can be won by clarifying and reinforcing the very message that almost lost it for them four years ago -- which reveals to what extent the left is playing for all the marbles this time -- perhaps we should grant their strategic premise, and help them along, by fleshing out the meaning of their "new vision" even further.

"Sharing" your prosperity includes, of course, "sharing" your wealth. It also entails "sharing" all the years that you spent working towards whatever wealth you have achieved, so that others can work less. Furthermore, it means "sharing" all the stressful nights and nervous days you spent trying to learn the skills that helped you to prosper, so that others won't have to put themselves through the same rigors.

It means "sharing" the new home you worked to earn for your family, so that others can have a home without working so hard for it. It means "sharing" the nest egg you sacrificed to accumulate for your children, so that less responsible parents may continue to be irresponsible. It means "sharing" the retirement you were planning, so that those who choose not to do work they deem unworthy of their talents may have the benefit of a few more years of your income to support their sloth. It means "sharing" a portion of the wedding you were saving up to provide for your daughter, so that wayward young men may continue to impregnate random drug-addicted mothers without fear that their sundry offspring will ever require their support. It means "sharing" the home addition you wanted to build to accommodate your elderly parents, so that others may remain guiltlessly derelict in their duty to theirs.

To summarize, "sharing" your prosperity means "sharing" your life, your work, your mind, your goals, your aspirations, the pain you endured in overcoming your false steps and agonizing failures, and, of course, your practical success, with anyone and everyone the government deems worthy of a pound of your flesh.

You may have noticed by now that throughout this article I have always enclosed the word "share" and its derivatives within quotation marks. The reason, of course, is that in the phrase "shared prosperity," as Obama is using it, there is, in truth, no sharing involved.

Sharing is an action one undertakes intentionally. "I'll share my candy with you." "Let's share the driving." Forced "sharing" isn't sharing at all, because it lacks the moral element of choice. It also lacks the rational element of discretion, which is necessary in the case of genuine sharing in order to decide with whom one wishes to share, and why.

Forced "sharing" is coercion plain and simple. Government-enforced "sharing" is coercion at the point of a gun: "your prosperity or your life."

Go back over the list of implications of "shared prosperity" that I offered a few paragraphs back. This time, each time you see the word "sharing," try substituting "relinquishing at the point of a gun." Now you can see exactly what Obama's "new vision" for America really means. It means that you will no longer own yourself. You will no longer have first claim -- or any meaningful claim, for that matter -- on your goods, your time, the product of your sweat and thought, or the future you planned for yourself and your nearest and dearest.

And rather than thinking what an outrage this entails against you and your natural rights, turn the focus around for a moment. Could you demand that this be done to others, so that you could benefit from their coerced "sharing"? If not, then ask yourself why not. And then ask yourself what kind of people the left is hoping to appeal to, not only during this year's election in America, but always, everywhere.

This is the question any still-human supporter of a leftist party needs to have clarified for him. He must be compelled to see in a clear light just what he is supporting, and to ask himself whether, seen in this light, it is supportable. Leftism is not, and never has been, about "sharing," or "compassion," or any of the other moral euphemisms progressives use to hoodwink the intellectually and morally lazy. It is, and always has been, about that gun pointed at the prosperous -- and, ultimately, at everyone, since in the end, unfettered leftism eliminates prosperity pretty quickly, leaving only the extremely unprosperous to fend for themselves.

This is the great lie of "shared prosperity." While "share" means coercion, "prosperity" means misery. Prosperity, like its parent concept, happiness, must be pursued. To pursue something requires a sense of rational predictability, of control over the future, of ownership over the continuum of time and effort that is required to achieve anything.

But this is what government-enforced "sharing" -- the rejection of private property -- undercuts. Thus, it undercuts the prosperity it needs to support its own authority with the "entitled" beneficiaries. This is how leftist authoritarianism implodes. Let's hope the world is spared the terrifying prospect of watching the most prosperous nation on Earth learn this lesson the hard way.

That would be a very hard way, indeed, and digging civilization out of the rubble would take generations.

Daren Jonescu

Source: http://www.americanthinker.com/2012/08/obamas_shared_prosperity_a_euphemism_wrapped_in_a_lie.html

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

Obama 'Intellectually Exhausted, Out of Ideas, and Out of Energy'


by Geoffrey P. Hunt

Mitt Romney finally caught up with the rest of us via a fiery speech in Ohio on Tuesday where he proclaimed three simple truths that frame Barack Obama: "Intellectually exhausted, out of ideas, and out of energy."

Those lines are still too charitable; Obama has been intellectually barren from the beginning. Yet it is irrefutable -- to steal an apt word from Paul Ryan describing Obama's raiding Medicare to finance ObamaCare -- that Obama's idea inventory consists of the expired date-stamped perishables of the collectivist state -- tax, confiscate, redistribute, and impoverish.

"Out of energy" indeed will be our deficit of destiny if Obama's agenda persists to underwrite wind, solar, and ethanol while blocking coal, oil, and gas. Yet Obama has no shortage of personal energy to govern and campaign on a platform of "division ... diversion ... anger ... hate ... defaming ... and demagoguery."

The MSM liberal apologists were quick to label Romney's pick of Paul Ryan as VP an "act of desperation." Such an attributed motivation is an unintended moment of truth. Yes, we are desperate.

Desperate to rescue a nation quickly devolving into an ungovernable economic catastrophe. Desperate to repudiate a culture of institutionalized dependency, where class envy substitutes for sweat equity. Desperate to reclaim a society where individual achievement and initiative are admired, not punished. Desperate to restore common decency in political discourse, where ideas triumph over ad hominems. Desperate to avoid the "Road to Serfdom," a looming certainty if Obama's legacy prevails.

Finding one's voice can arrive in a variety of modes, sometimes unexpectedly. Mitt Romney found his voice in Paul Ryan. This is not to diminish Mitt Romney for discovering his timbre too late or "outsourcing courage," but rather to credit him with wisdom in aligning his own ambition with clarity on how to get there.

Paul Ryan represents everything that Obama and the Democrats will never be: intellectually fertile, economically and historically literate, unimpeachably rigorous and honest. And these are only Paul Ryan's character virtues. His ideas and convictions are even better. And he's the most likeable politician in town.

Clarity is a rarely used tonic. The word itself has yet to be overexposed and deliberately obfuscated, unlike the word transparent. Of course, the phrase "let me be perfectly clear" is usually a prelude to anything but -- it was first attributed to Richard Nixon, then expropriated by Bill Clinton, and now it is a common preamble to Barack Obama's frequent deceptions. Yet clarity is a refreshingly bracing noun in an age where deliberate distortions, bald-faced lies, shameless plagiarism, and muddled thinking have become the new normal.

Mitt Romney's clarity, revealing his identity as a leader, was the act of choosing Paul Ryan. The Paul Ryan choice was liberating. This is uncharted territory for Romney, whose reputation as a cautious, circumspect, and conventional politician should have foreclosed such a move.

The stakes are arguably just as vital, though very different on an immediate human scale, as when General Eisenhower launched D-Day on June 5, 1944. Ike had two dominant traits: a knack for choosing very capable lieutenants and another for undertaking only those battles small enough to win but big enough to matter.

Until D-Day, when opportunity and necessity appeared in a fleetingly narrow window, Ike took them both to destiny with three simple words: "OK, let's go!" Did Romney need Ike's meteorologist to tell him when the weather would be ripe to launch his own reckoning with history, and when such a moment would pass?

No, a weather report would be superfluous. Just stick your head out the door and smell the ozone. Twenty-three million unemployed (and counting), trillions in deficits, economic stagnation, regulatory calcification, despair and defeat in the air, daily doses of bitter plumes from a president who disparages America's greatness and sees its culture only through a filter of race and class resentment.

Meanwhile, every day presents another Obama profile in economic illiteracy. His latest absurdity is advocating higher supports for falling cattle and pork prices as animals are being slaughtered early to avoid paying for corn-based feedstock, the price of which has skyrocketed due to the drought -- a catastrophe exacerbated by 40% of the corn crop being diverted to ethanol for fuel. Romney's moment for clarity couldn't arrive soon enough.

Romney's version of "OK, let's go!" with Paul Ryan has unveiled a newfound clarity, giving voters their own renewed voice of optimism, opportunity, and uplift. Liberated from identity politics and collectivist propaganda, voters can now boldly reject re-electing an imposter who is "Intellectually Bereft, Idea-Bound by Collectivist Deprivation, and Whose Energy is Devoted to Dividing, Diminishing, and Disparaging."

Geoffrey P. Hunt

Source: http://www.americanthinker.com/2012/08/obama_intellectually_exhausted_out_of_ideas_and_out_of_energy.html

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

Will the West Bank Become the Next Islamic Emirate?


by Khaled Abu Toameh

Hamas continues to operate in the West Bank under the cover of hundreds of Islamic charities and organizations. An Israeli pullout from any part of the West Bank, under the current circumstances, will undermine the Palestinian Authority and most likely lead to its collapse, paving the way for radicals to seize control.

Those who think that Hamas and other Islamic groups do not have a strong presence in the West Bank are completely detached from reality.

True, these groups are lacking in arms and ammunition in the West Bank, but they still enjoy broad public support among Palestinians.

For now, security coordination between Israel and the Palestinian Authority is all that is preventing Muslim fundamentalists from taking over the West Bank.

The Jordanians also have an interest in cooperating with Israel to stop the fundamentalists from rising to power in the West Bank. Over the past decade, Israel and Jordan have been working closely to block the Islamic tornado from sweeping the West Bank.

These efforts have thus far been successful in thwarting attempts by radical groups to set up terror cells in the West Bank.

Wary of the growing threat, the Palestinian Authority has been waging a fierce battle against supporters of Hamas and other radical groups there.

Thousands of suspected fundamentalists have been rounded up separately by Palestinian Authority security forces and the Israel Defense Forces.

Thanks to intelligence provided by the Palestinian Authority government, many Hamas supporters are now being held under administrative detention in Israel. The detainees are being held without trial to avoid embarrassment of the Palestinian Authority.

But the tough security clampdown has not been able to stop Hamas and its allies from increasing their political power in the West Bank.

Hamas continues to operate in the West Bank under the cover of hundreds of Islamic charities and organizations: the movement also has a strong presence on most of the Palestinian universities and colleges in the West Bank, where its supporters operate under different labels such as the Islamic Bloc and Islamic Union.

Hamas, moreover, still has direct and indirect control over many mosques in the West Bank despite efforts by the Palestinian Authority to "liberate" the holy sites.

Yet Hamas is not the only Islamic group that is very active in the West Bank.

In recent years, Hamas has been challenged by Hizb-ut-Tahrir [Party of Liberation], an international pan-Islamic organization seeking to unify all Muslims under an Islamic state, or caliphate, ruled by Islamic law.

In the past few months, in Ramallah and Hebron, Hizb-ut-Tahrir held two major rallies calling for and Islamic caliphate; they attracted tens of thousands of supporters. Neither Israel nor the Palestinian Authority was able to stop the organization from holding them.

Hamas, Hizb-ut-Tahrir and their political and ideological allies in the West Bank have been emboldened by the "Arab Spring," which has seen the rise of Muslim Brotherhood to power in a number of Arab countries, including Tunisia and the largest Arab country, Egypt.

These organizations have further been encouraged by the apparent emergence of an Islamic emirate in Sinai, next to the one that already exists in the neighboring Gaza Strip.

The only way to keep Hamas and other radicals groups from taking over the West Bank is by enhancing security coordination between Israel on the one end, and the Palestinian Authority and Jordan on the other.

An Israeli pullout from any part of the West Bank, under the current circumstances, will undermine the Palestinian Authority and most likely lead to its collapse, paving the way for the radicals to seize control.

A strong Israeli presence along the border with Jordan is also needed to prevent the smuggling of weapons and Muslim fundamentalists into the West Bank. The Jordanians also need Israel on their border to keep Hamas and the radicals from infiltrating the kingdom.

Without all these measures, the West Bank will quickly turn into an Islamic emirate.

Khaled Abu Toameh

Source: http://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/3281/west-bank-islamic-emirate

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

Writing on the Wall for Egyptian/Israeli Peace


by Daniel Mandel

Last week, a group of terrorists in Sinai killed 16 Egyptian soldiers before launching a failed attack into Israel. And a few days later, the new Egyptian president, Mohammed Morsi, removed the chief of the armed forces and defense minister, Mohammed Tantawi, along with the army, navy and air force service heads. On the same day, he also cancelled the constitutional addendum restricting presidential powers that Tantawi and the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces had imposed last June. These events tell us much about what lies ahead.

Morsi, the Muslim Brotherhood candidate who won presidential elections, has full executive and legislative authority. He can convene a new constituent assembly to draft a new constitution, without the oversight of the military establishment that has ruled Egypt for six decades.

This means an Islamist constitution. The Brotherhood, the “the mother of all Islamist movements” as Shadi Hamid, a Middle East expert at the Brookings Institution’s Doha Center, puts it, an Islamist organization dating back to 1928, whose leading ideologues, notably Sayyid Qutb, were the precursor of al-Qaeda, will create an Islamist order in Egypt.

The Brotherhood is vehemently anti-American, so expect a slow demise in the alliance into which America poured $60 billion over three decades. Its leader, Muhammad Badi’ said in October 2010 that, “The U.S. is now experiencing the beginning of its end, and is heading towards its demise.”

The Brotherhood is also virulently opposed to Israel’s existence and calls for the rescission of the Egyptian/Israeli peace treaty. Its deputy leader, Rashad al-Bayoumi has described Israel as “enemy entity” and asserted that the existing peace treaty “isn’t binding at all.” Expect Israeli/Egyptian relations – frosty at the best of times – to petrify.

Morsi no longer speaks for the Brotherhood – he resigned on becoming president – but he needn’t: it speaks for itself. And its reaction to the recent terrorist attack, which the Israelis narrowly averted, was to blame it on the Israeli intelligence service “Mossad, which has been seeking to abort the Egyptian revolution.” Hamas, the Palestinian off-shoot of the Brotherhood which controls Gaza and calls in its Charter for the worldwide murder of Jews, took the same line. Its prime minister, Ismail Haniyeh, stated, “The crime itself and what preceded it confirms Israel’s involvement in one way or another.”

And yet some have speculated that the Egyptian and Israelis – joint victims of the terrorists, but uncomfortable neighbors – might be drawn back into creative alliance. The New York Times referred hopefully to “early signs of cooperation and coordination.”

And, indeed, some will point to the fact that the latest terrorist incident is an embarrassment and setback for both the Brotherhood and Hamas, which had been busy cementing ties. They will note that Egypt has now closed its Gaza crossing and insisted Hamas shut down its tunnels into Sinai. And they will derive comfort form the fact that Morsi has vowed to “impose full control” over Sinai.

Don’t believe it.

Al-Qaeda and its affiliates, who carried out the latest attack, account for merely a part of the terrorist activities in Sinai or Gaza. The real traffic in men and arms is run by Hamas, which is turning Gaza in Sinai into a launching pad for war with Israel – with Morsi’s help. Last week’s slaughter of Egyptian soldiers did not provide Morsi with the incentive to constrain Hamas, but with the opportunity to purge the senior military leadership that acted as his bridle.

Last year, Israel acceded to Egyptian requests to amend the military annex to the treaty to allow Egypt to station another 2,500 troops in the demilitarized Sinai. Egpyt never filled the quota and nothing changed, except for the worse. Numerous attacks on the oil pipeline to Israel have occurred. A cross-border terror attack last August left left eight Israeli dead and another in June saw a further Israeli killed.

Now, in the wake of the latest outrage, Egyptian figures are calling for a further revision to permit still more troops. But as the failure to seal the Gaza/Egypt border is one of will, not numbers, Israel would be wise to refuse such requests. To do otherwise would be legitimize a remilitarized Sinai without any corresponding security dividend.

Egyptian forces will be brutal with those who attack them, not Israel. That’s why the Obama Administration’s offer to help Egypt reassert control over Sinai will have no practical impact on the general problem.

Instead, the Arab conflict with Israel is developing a new front in Sinai. Consequent border incidents between Israel and Egypt will heighten tensions and perhaps even one day ignite a war. At that point, no one will ask if the peace treaty remains binding. It is already a husk – and has been for some time.

Daniel Mandel

Source: http://frontpagemag.com/2012/daniel-mandel/writing-on-the-wall-for-egyptianisraeli-peace/

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

Obama’s One-Man Empire


by Daniel Greenfield




If you ever played computer solitaire at work, failed to put up a wheelchair accessible ramp or snipped the tag off a mattress, then you may already be on the wrong side of the law. There are thousands of Federal criminal statutes and hundreds of thousands of regulations that carry criminal penalties; so many that most people violate one or more of them every year without even knowing it. Under Obama, the number of violations has increased dramatically with omnibus 2,000- and 3,000-page bills, whose full contents no one knows, rushed into law, making every American into a potential criminal.

In just the first two years, the Obama Administration imposed 40 billion dollars worth of new regulations. Obama added over 100,000 federal employees, an increase of 6 percent, to pad out the byzantine bureaucracy of his regulatory empire. Under his 2012 budget the size of government will have doubled from when he took office to 2021. In 2001, federal outlays were below 2 trillion. In 2006, when the Democrats took Congress, they hit 2.66 trillion, and last year they approached 4 trillion dollars.

All that money and power is going into an empire of czars and commissars. While cabinet members have to be approved by the Senate, czars do not. Obama has 38 czars, compared to 8 for Bill Clinton, that cover everything from Asian carp (yes there’s an Asian carp czar) to the automobile industry to online security to ethics. Bypassing the cabinet also allows Obama to bypass the traditional limitations on executive power.

From massive bills to unregulated czars, the dominant theme of this administration is paranoid secrecy. The expansion of government that we know about is a fraction of the true expansion occurring below the radar, packed away in a subparagraph on the 1209th page of a 3000-page bill and in the functions of the bureaucracies that they create and the czars who oversee their empires.

As part of the 2011 budget deal a number of the more egregious czars were supposed to be eliminated, but Obama broke the budget deal and inserted a signing statement that claimed the deal violated the separation of powers between the branches of government. The appeal to the separation of powers was stunningly hypocritical as the entire purpose of his empire of czars was bypassing Senate confirmation.

Obama’s separation from the separation of powers only increased this month as he signed into law the “Presidential Appointment Efficiency and Streamlining Act of 2011” which widens the scope of the imperial presidency. Rosa Gumataotao Rios, Obama’s nominee for Treasurer of the United States, had to be confirmed by the United States Senate. Rosa however will be the last Treasurer to require Senate confirmation now that the Act has become law.

Among the other key positions that can now be filled without Senate approval is that of Chief Scientist of NOAA, a hub of Global Warming activism. The Obama Administration had been unable to get its pick for Chief Scientist through the Senate legally. That will no longer be an obstacle. Also exempted from Senate confirmation are the directors of the Office for Domestic Preparedness, the United States Mint, the Bureau of Justice Statistics and the National Institute of Justice. The Council of Economic Advisers will also no longer require Senate confirmation.

Most cabinet positions will still require confirmation, but many assistant secretary positions will not, which will make it possible for Obama to move more radical appointees into higher positions within the Department of Defense, the Department of Agriculture, the Treasury Department and the Justice Department. Additionally the leadership of the Commodity Credit Corporation, which has a great deal of influence on the life of the American farmer, will no longer require Senate confirmation.

But Obama has become expert at making unilateral appointments even without the benefit of the “Presidential Appointment Efficiency and Streamlining Act of 2011.” When Obama couldn’t get the appointments he wanted, he bypassed the Senate by making recess appointments even when the Senate was not in recess. And the purpose of all those appointments and czars was to build an infrastructure that would allow him to maintain complete control of the United States of America without the need for legislative action and even in defiance of legislative and judicial action.

Obama has used the National Labor Relations Board, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Justice Department to implement legislation that Congress refused to pass, by bureaucratic decree or by a refusal to enforce existing laws. From the DREAM Act to gay marriage to ending welfare reform, this is an administration that governs unilaterally without any regard for the law.

Faced with a Republican Congress, Obama turned his czars and directors into his own private legislature while defying the courts to do anything about it. And for the most part the courts, from the Supreme Court on down, have deferred to his will. With the proliferation of Federal agencies stocked with radical appointees, the legislative and judicial branches have been amputated.

When Obama wants something done, his appointees do it for him. Congress has become two houses sitting in protest of this misrule, whose input is no longer wanted or desired in the age of the imperial presidency.

Sitting down for an interview with a Colorado television station, Obama said, “Where Congress is not willing to act, we’re going to go ahead and do it ourselves.” Then he added arrogantly, “But it would be nice if we could get a little bit of help from Capitol Hill.”

Obama and his empire of czars, experts, expert consultants, secretaries, directors and assistant secretaries of directors have been doing it themselves. While Obama warns that under Romney the United States will go back in time to the 1950s, under him we have already gone back to the 1750s. In an event completely without precedent in American history all forms of authority now derive from one man and answer to him without any restriction or limitation on his absolute power.

What began as Federalization is devolving into totalitarianism. And the devolution will pick up speed if Obama wins another term. As a lame-duck leader with a hostile legislature, he will no longer have any incentive to even pretend to pay attention to any branch of government that does not directly answer to him.

“The way to have good and safe government is not to trust it all to one, but to divide it among the many,” Thomas Jefferson wrote. We have departed from that “good and safe government” returning to the dark days of one-man rule.

In 2008, Americans exchanged a free nation for a monarchy of hope and change. This year, Americans will have a choice between setting themselves free or submitting to four more years of one-man rule.

Daniel Greenfield

Source: http://frontpagemag.com/2012/daniel-greenfield/obama%E2%80%99s-one-man-empire/

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

The EU’s Bigotry Against Israel


by Joseph Puder

The European Union announced last week its decision to classify the Israeli city of Modi’in (Pop. 80,000) as a “settlement” and thus deprive it of tax benefits. The Israeli daily Ha’aretz reported on August 14, 2012 that “[Israeli] Foreign Ministry officials claim that the surprise move came after the EU unilaterally pulled out of negotiations that have been conducted on the matter.” Israeli officials fear that the move will encourage a European ban on products made in Modi’in.

In 2005, Israel and the EU agreed to create a free trade zone between Israel and the EU. The agreement stipulated that products originating from within the Green Line would receive tax import exemptions while those products from outside the Green line would be subjected to a tax. Modi’in is, by all accounts, considered part of Israel, and the EU’s politicization of the nature of Modi’in is merely a result of political pressure coming from some EU member states, who under the guise of tighter supervision of products that should be taxed, are carrying out a pro-Arab-Palestinian agenda, which also satisfies their domestic Arab-Muslim constituents.

When it comes to the attitude of the European Union towards the Arab (Palestinian)-Israeli conflict one can discern a number of clear trends. Appeasement of Arab-Palestinian-Islamist terror and hate groups like Hezbollah, Hamas, and Fatah, and their unwillingness to consider Islamic intolerance domestically within Europe and in the Islamic Middle East, especially among the Palestinians as a major factor in the absence of peace, is clearly one example. Latent anti-Semitism also plays a role in formulating European attitudes. A strong anti-Israel bias in the European media and academia already has penetrated many European Union institutions whose policies reflect a similar bias, albeit, some EU officials with strong democratic values, many representing right-of-center parties, are still sympathetic to Israel as a fellow democracy.

The EU, meanwhile, has refused Israel’s request to blacklist Hezbollah as a terrorist group in the aftermath of last month’s terror attack against Israeli civilians in Bulgaria that killed six Israeli tourists. The EU claimed it lacked tangible evidence that Hezbollah was involved in this horrific act of terrorism. Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel knows “with absolute certainty, without a shred of doubt, that this was a Hezbollah operation,” citing it had “rock solid evidence” the terror group was responsible.

The British Mail-Online reported on August 7, 2011 that the Palestinian Authority is receiving the equivalent of $135 million of British taxpayer aid per year and, further reporting that the PA has authorized the payment of £5 million to families of “martyrs,“ while another £3 million has been given to 5500 Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails. These payments to terrorists and their families, made using European Union and British taxpayers cash, was described by a British Tory MP as “ludicrous.” According to Hamas militants, the families of the so-called ‘martyrs’ are given millions by the Palestinian Authority (PA), and the PA has in fact introduced a new law that pays the families of suicide bombers out of its civil service budget, which is funded by the EU.

According to Gatestone Institute (March 12, 2012), “The EU does not seem to mind that the PA is rife with corruption. In 2005, the EU anti-fraud office (OLAF) investigated allegations of abuse of funding by the PA to support terrorist activities. OLAF found no conclusive evidence of the abuse.”

Catherine Ashton, European Union Foreign Affairs Chief, when speaking about Palestinian Arab young adults at a forum organized by UNRWA in cooperation with the EU and the Government of Belgium in Brussels on March 19, 2012, said: “Young people have been in the front line of change, they’ve been courageous in having their voices heard and they continue to speak out. As the young people who have joined us today, they want freedom, they want opportunities, they want jobs, they want education, they want a future, and they want a country. They want a place where they can live in peace and security, where they can grow and develop, and have their own families, a future and a place that belongs to them. I will argue that the young people sitting here are the true members of this conference. We are privileged to be in their presence and have their inspiration. Over the coming two days we will listen to the voices of the future leaders of their communities and the future leaders of a Palestinian state.”

What the biased Ashton failed to ask of these young people of Gaza and the West Bank is, “What kind of society consciously sacrifices its own youth for political gain and tactical advantage?” In today’s “Palestine” the majority of young Palestinian Arabs are infected by blind hatred of Israel, Jews, Christians, and Americans. UNWRA operated schools, funded in large measure by the EU, are places where they are taught to hate and encouraged to act on that hatred. The youth of “Palestine” so cherished by Ashton, are raised in a cultural milieu of vengeance, violence, and death – one in which children are prepared to be sacrificed in a cult of death. And, these efforts are supported by parents who are proud to dress up their toddlers with suicide belts and celebrate their children’s death as suicide bombers with dancing, singing and the distribution of sweets. While the young people of “Palestine” aspire for a better future, their definition of a better future is one in which they have achieved the destruction of Israel and the Jewish people.

Historian Bat Ye’or, in her book Eurabia, has argued that the Euro-Islamic Alliance is much older than the EU. Bat Ye’or pointed out that during a meeting of the British Cabinet’s Palestine Committee on April 20, 1939, Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain told his cabinet that it was of immense importance “to have the Muslim world with us,” and he added, “If we must offend one side, let us offend the Jews rather than the Arabs.” The British did in fact institute, that same year, the infamous White Paper policy which barred Jews seeking to escape the Nazi Holocaust from entering Palestine, in order to appease the Arabs. Well, the Arab Muslims sided with the Nazis against the British during the war, but Europe learned nothing as the appeasement of the Arabs-Palestinians-Muslims continues. This time, the Europeans aim to appease the Arab-Palestinian-Muslim terrorists in the hope that they (Arab-Palestinians) won’t target them, and to insure the flow of Arab oil into the EU. European Union elites are willing to trade millions of Arab-Muslim immigrants, who seek to impose their religion and culture on Europe for expensive Arab oil, which is depleting their treasuries, subverting their way of life and the future of the continent.

Bloomberg reported on September 27, 2011 that the “European Parliament voted to grant direct duty-free and quota-free access to the EU market for farm and fisheries goods from the West Bank and Gaza Strip without having to transit through Israel.” Palestinian products have been under the direct control of Israel’s customs authorities, according to the 27-nation EU assembly.

While the EU takes actions that will delegitimize and penalize Israel’s legal control in Area C of the West Bank – where all the Israeli communities are located – the EU has no compunction about providing quota-free access to the EU market, to the Islamist Hamas terrorists controlling Gaza. This move represents more than just a slight bias against the Jewish communities of Judea and Samaria – it smacks of old European anti-Semitism directed at the collective Jew – the Jewish State of Israel.

Joseph Puder

Source: http://frontpagemag.com/2012/joseph-puder/the-eus-bigotry-against-israel/

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