Thursday, November 18, 2010
by Jonathan V. Last
November 13, 2010
Why has Barack Obama failed so spectacularly? Is he too dogmatically liberal or too pragmatic? Is he a socialist, or an anticolonialist, or a philosopher-president? Or is it possible that Obama’s failures stem from something simpler: vanity. Politicians as a class are particularly susceptible to mirror-gazing. But Obama’s vanity is overwhelming. It defines him, his politics, and his presidency.
It’s revealed in lots of little stories. There was the time he bragged about how one of his campaign volunteers, who had tragically died of breast cancer, “insisted she’s going to be buried in an Obama T-shirt.” There was the Nobel acceptance speech where he conceded, “I do not bring with me today a definitive solution to the problems of war” (the emphasis is mine).
There was the moment during the 2008 campaign when Obama appeared with a seal that was a mash-up of the Great Seal of the United States and his own campaign logo (with its motto Vero Possumus, “Yes we Can” in Latin). Just a few weeks ago, Obama was giving a speech when the actual presidential seal fell from the rostrum. “That’s all right,” he quipped. “All of you know who I am.” Oh yes, Mr. President, we certainly do.
My favorite is this line from page 160 of The Audacity of Hope:
I find comfort in the fact that the longer I’m in politics the less nourishing popularity becomes, that a striving for power and rank and fame seems to betray a poverty of ambition, and that I am answerable mainly to the steady gaze of my own conscience.
So popularity and fame once nourished him, but now his ambition is richer and he’s answerable not, like some presidents, to the Almighty, but to the gaze of his personal conscience. Which is steady. The fact that this sentence appears in the second memoir of a man not yet 50 years old—and who had been in national politics for all of two years—is merely icing.
People have been noticing Obama’s vanity for a long time. In 2008, one of his Harvard Law classmates, the entertainment lawyer Jackie Fuchs, explained what Obama was like during his school days: “One of our classmates once famously noted that you could judge just how pretentious someone’s remarks in class were by how high they ranked on the ‘Obamanometer,’ a term that lasted far longer than our time at law school. Obama didn’t just share in class—he pontificated. He knew better than everyone else in the room, including the teachers. ”
The story of Obama’s writing career is an object lesson in how our president’s view of himself shapes his interactions with the world around him. In 1990, Obama was wrapping up his second year at Harvard Law when the New York Times ran a profile of him on the occasion of his becoming the first black editor of the Harvard Law Review. A book agent in New York named Jane Dystel read the story and called up the young man, asking if he’d be interested in writing a book. Like any 29-year-old, he wasn’t about to turn down money. He promptly accepted a deal with Simon & Schuster’s Poseidon imprint—reportedly in the low six-figures—to write a book about race relations.
Obama missed his deadline. No matter. His agent quickly secured him another contract, this time with Times Books. And a $40,000 advance. Not bad for an unknown author who had already blown one deal, writing about a noncommercial subject.
By this point Obama had left law school, and academia was courting him. The University of Chicago Law School approached him; although they didn’t have any specific needs, they wanted to be in the Barack Obama business. As Douglas Baird, the head of Chicago’s appointments committee, would later explain,
“You look at his background—Harvard Law Review president, magna cum laude, and he’s African American. This is a no-brainer hiring decision at the entry level of any law school in the country.” Chicago invited Obama to come in and teach just about anything he wanted. But Obama wasn’t interested in a professor’s life. Instead, he told them that he was writing a book—about voting rights. The university made him a fellow, giving him an office and a paycheck to keep him going while he worked on this important project.
In case you’re keeping score at home, there was some confusion as to what book young Obama was writing. His publisher thought he was writing about race relations. His employer thought he was writing about voting rights law. But Obama seems to have never seriously considered either subject. Instead, he decided that his subject would be himself. The 32-year-old was writing a memoir.
Obama came clean to the university first. He waited until his fellowship was halfway over—perhaps he was concerned that his employers might not like the bait-and-switch. He needn’t have worried. Baird still hoped that Obama would eventually join the university’s faculty (he had already begun teaching a small classload as a “senior lecturer”). “It was a good deal for us,” Baird explained, “because he was a good teaching prospect and we wanted him around.”
And it all worked out in the end. The book Obama eventually finished was Dreams from My Father. It didn’t do well initially, but nine years later, after his speech at the 2004 Democratic convention made him a star, it sold like gangbusters. Obama got rich. And famous. The book became the springboard for his career in national politics.
Only it didn’t quite work out for everybody. Obama left the University of Chicago, never succumbing to their offers of a permanent position in their hallowed halls. Simon & Schuster, which had taken a chance on an unproven young writer, got burned for a few thousand bucks. And Jane Dystel, who’d plucked him out of the pages of the New York Times and got him the deal to write the book that sped his political rise? As soon as Obama was ready to negotiate the contract for his second book—the big-money payday—he dumped her and replaced her with super-agent Robert Barnett.
We risk reading too much into these vignettes—after all, our president is a mansion with many rooms and it would be foolish to reduce him to pure ego. Yet the vignettes are so numerous. For instance, a few years ago Obama’s high school basketball coach told ABC News how, as a teenager, Obama always badgered him for more playing time, even though he wasn’t the best player on the team—or even as good as he thought he was. Everyone who has ever played team sports has encountered the kid with an inflated sense of self.
That’s common. What’s rare is the kid who feels entitled enough to nag the coach about his minutes. Obama was that kid. His enthusiasm about his abilities and his playing time extended into his political life. In 2004, Obama explained to author David Mendell how he saw his future as a national political figure: “I’m LeBron, baby. I can play on this level. I got some game.” After just a couple of months in the Senate, Obama jumped the Democratic line and started asking voters to make him president.
Yet you don’t have to delve deep into armchair psychology to see how Obama’s vanity has shaped his presidency. In January 2009 he met with congressional leaders to discuss the stimulus package. The meeting was supposed to foster bipartisanship. Senator Jon Kyl questioned the plan’s mixture of spending and tax cuts. Obama’s response to him was, “I won.” A year later Obama held another meeting to foster bipartisanship for his health care reform plan. There was some technical back-and-forth about Republicans not having the chance to properly respond within the constraints of the format because President Obama had done some pontificating, as is his wont. Obama explained, “There was an imbalance on the opening statements because”—here he paused, self-satisfiedly—“I’m the president. And so I made, uh, I don’t count my time in terms of dividing it evenly.”
There are lots of times when you get the sense that Obama views the powers of the presidency as little more than a shadow of his own person. When he journeyed to Copenhagen in October 2009 to pitch Chicago’s bid for the Olympics, his speech to the IOC was about—you guessed it: “Nearly one year ago, on a clear November night,” he told the committee, “people from every corner of the world gathered in the city of Chicago or in front of their televisions to watch the results of . . . ” and away he went.
A short while later he was back in Copenhagen for the climate change summit. When things looked darkest, he personally commandeered the meeting to broker a “deal.” Which turned out to be worthless. In January 2010, Obama met with nervous Democratic congressmen to assure them that he wasn’t driving the party off a cliff. Confronted with worries that 2010 could be a worse off-year election than 1994, Obama explained to the professional politicians, “Well, the big difference here and in ’94 was you’ve got me.”
In the midst of the BP oil spill last summer, Obama explained, “My job right now is just to make sure that everybody in the Gulf understands this is what I wake up to in the morning and this is what I go to bed at night thinking about: the spill.” Read that again: The president thinks that the job of the president is to make certain the citizens correctly understand what’s on the president’s mind.
Obama’s vanity is even more jarring when paraded in the foreign arena. In April, Poland suffered a national tragedy when its president, first lady, and a good portion of the government were killed in a plane crash. Obama decided not to go to the funeral. He played golf instead. Though maybe it’s best that he didn’t make the trip. When he journeyed to Great Britain to meet with the queen he gave her an amazing gift: an iPod loaded with recordings of his speeches and pictures from his inauguration.
On November 9, 2009, Europe celebrated the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. It was kind of a big deal. They may not mention the Cold War in schools much these days, but it pitted the Western liberal order against a totalitarian ideology in a global struggle. In this the United States was the guarantor of liberty and peace for the West; had we faltered, no corner of the world would have been safe from Soviet domination.
President Obama has a somewhat different reading. He explains: “The Cold War reached a conclusion because of the actions of many nations over many years, and because the people of Russia and Eastern Europe stood up and decided that its end would be peaceful.” Pretty magnanimous of the Soviets to let the long twilight struggle end peacefully like that, especially after all we did to provoke them.
So Obama doesn’t know much about the Cold War. Which is probably why he didn’t think the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall was all that important. When the leaders of Europe got together to commemorate it, he decided not to go to that, either. But he did find time to record a video message, which he graciously allowed the Europeans to air during the ceremony.
In his video, Obama ruminated for a few minutes on the grand events of the 20th century, the Cold War itself, and the great lesson we all should take from this historic passing: “Few would have foreseen . . . that a united Germany would be led by a woman from Brandenburg or that their American ally would be led by a man of African descent. But human destiny is what human beings make of it.” The fall of the Berlin Wall, the end of the Cold War, and the freedom of all humanity—it’s great stuff. Right up there with the election of Barack Obama.
All presidents are hostage to self-confidence. But not since Babe Ruth grabbed a bat and wagged his fat finger at Wrigley’s center-field wall has an American politician called his shot like Barack Obama. He announced his candidacy in Springfield, Illinois, on the steps where Abraham Lincoln gave his “house divided” speech. He mentioned Lincoln continually during the 2008 campaign. After he vanquished John McCain he passed out copies of Team of Rivals, a book about Lincoln’s cabinet, to his senior staff. At his inauguration, he chose to be sworn into office using Lincoln’s Bible. At the inaugural luncheon following the ceremony, he requested that the food—each dish of which was selected as a “tribute” to Lincoln—be served on replicas of Lincoln’s china. At some point in January 2009 you wanted to grab Obama by the lapels and tell him—We get it! You’re the Rail Splitter! If we promise to play along, will you keep the log cabin out of the Rose Garden?
It’s troubling that a fellow whose electoral rationale was that he edited the Harvard Law Review and wrote a couple of memoirs was comparing himself to the man who saved the Union. But it tells you all you need to know about what Obama thinks of his political gifts and why he’s unperturbed about having led his party into political disaster in the midterms. He assumes that he’ll be able to reverse the political tide once he becomes the issue, in the presidential race in 2012. As he said to Harry Reid after the majority leader congratulated him on one particularly fine oration, “I have a gift, Harry.”
But Obama’s faith in his abilities extends beyond mere vote-getting. Buried in a 2008 New Yorker piece by Ryan Lizza about the Obama campaign was this gob-smacking passage:
Obama said that he liked being surrounded by people who expressed strong opinions, but he also said, “I think that I’m a better speechwriter than my speechwriters. I know more about policies on any particular issue than my policy directors. And I’ll tell you right now that I’m gonna think I’m a better political director than my political director.” After Obama’s first debate with McCain, on September 26th, [campaign political director Patrick] Gaspard sent him an e-mail. “You are more clutch than Michael Jordan,” he wrote. Obama replied, “Just give me the ball.”
In fairness to Obama, maybe he is a better speechwriter than his speechwriters. After all, his speechwriter was a 27-year-old, and the most affecting part of Obama’s big 2008 stump speech was recycled from Massachusetts governor Deval Patrick, with whom he shared a campaign strategist. But it’s instructive that Obama thinks he knows “more about policies on any particular issue” than his policy directors. The rate of growth of the mohair subsidy? The replacement schedule for servers at the NORAD command center? The relationship between annual rainfall in northeast Nevada and water prices in Las Vegas?
What Scott Fitzgerald once said about Hollywood is true of the American government: It can be understood only dimly and in flashes; there are no more than a handful of men who have ever been able to keep the entire equation in their heads. Barack Obama had worked in the federal government for all of four years. He was not one of those men. More important, however, is that as president he shouldn’t be the chief wonk, speechwriter, and political director.
David Remnick delivers a number of insights about Obama in his book The Bridge. For instance, Valerie Jarrett—think of her as the president’s Karen Hughes—tells Remnick that Obama is often bored with the world around him. “I think that he has never really been challenged intellectually,” Jarrett says. “So what I sensed in him was not just a restless spirit but somebody with such extraordinary talents that they had to be really taxed in order for him to be happy.” Jarrett concludes, “He’s been bored to death his whole life.”
With one or two possible exceptions, that is. Remnick reports that “Jarrett was quite sure that one of the few things that truly engaged him fully before going to the White House was writing Dreams from My Father.” So the only job Barack Obama ever had that didn’t bore him was writing about Barack Obama. But wait, there’s more.
David Axelrod—he’s Obama’s Karl Rove—told Remnick that “Barack hated being a senator.” Remnick went on:
Washington was a grander stage than Springfield, but the frustrations of being a rookie in a minority party were familiar. Obama could barely conceal his frustration with the torpid pace of the Senate. His aides could sense his frustration and so could his colleagues. “He was so bored being a senator,” one Senate aide said.
Obama’s friend and law firm colleague Judd Miner agreed. “The reality,” Miner told Remnick, “was that during his first two years in the U.S. Senate, I think, he was struggling; it wasn’t nearly as stimulating as he expected.” But even during his long, desolate exile as a senator, Obama was able to find a task that satisfied him. Here’s Remnick again: “The one project that did engage Obama fully was work on The Audacity of Hope. He procrastinated for a long time and then, facing his deadline, wrote nearly a chapter a week.” Your tax dollars at work.
Looking at this American Narcissus, it’s easy to be hammered into a stupor by the accumulated acts of vanity. Oh look, we think to ourselves, there’s our new president accepting his Nobel Peace Prize. There’s the president likening his election to the West’s victory in the Cold War. There’s the commander in chief bragging about his March Madness picks.
Yet it’s important to remember that our presidents aren’t always this way. When he accepted command of the Revolutionary forces, George Washington said,
I feel great distress, from a consciousness that my abilities and military experience may not be equal to the extensive and important Trust. . . . I beg it may be remembered, by every Gentleman in the room, that I, this day, declare with the utmost sincerity, I do not think myself equal to the Command I am honored with.
Accepting the presidency, Washington was even more reticent. Being chosen to be president, he said, “could not but overwhelm with despondence one who, inheriting inferior endowments from nature and unpracticed in the duties of civil administration, ought to be peculiarly conscious of his own deficiencies.”
In his biography of John Quincy Adams, Robert Remini noted that Adams was not an especially popular fellow. Yet on one of the rare occasions when he was met with adoring fans, “he told crowds that gathered to see and hear him to go home and attend to their private duties.”
And Obama? In light of the present state of his presidency, let’s look back at his most famous oration:
The journey will be difficult. The road will be long. I face this challenge with profound humility, and knowledge of my own limitations. But I also face it with limitless faith in the capacity of the American people. Because if we are willing to work for it, and fight for it, and believe in it, then I am absolutely certain that generations from now, we will be able to look back and tell our children that this was the moment when we began to provide care for the sick and good jobs to the jobless; this was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal; this was the moment when we ended a war and secured our nation and restored our image as the last, best hope on earth. This was the moment—this was the time—when we came together to remake this great nation so that it may always reflect our very best selves and our highest ideals.
The speech was given on June 3, 2008, and the epoch-making historical event to which “this moment” refers throughout is Barack Obama’s victory over Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primaries.
A senior writer at The Weekly Standard, Jonathan V. Last covered the Obama campaign in 2008.
Posted by Lady Patriot at 7:34 AM
Sunday, November 14, 2010
November 14, 2010
Every single great idea that has marked the 21st century, the 20th century, and the 19th century has required government vision and government incentive.
--Joe Biden, Oct. 26 WASHINGTON General Motors, an appendage of the government, which owns 61 percent of it, is spending some of your money, dear reader, on full-page newspaper ads praising a government brainstorm -- the Volt, Chevrolet's highly anticipated and prematurely celebrated (sort of) electric car. Although the situation is murky -- GM and its government masters probably prefer it that way -- it is unclear in what sense GM has any money that is truly its own. And the Volt is not quite an electric car, or not the sort GM deliberately misled Americans into expecting.
It is another hybrid. GM said the Volt would be an "all electrically driven vehicle" whose gas engine would be a mere range-extender, powering the Volt's generator, not its wheels: The engine just would maintain the charge as the battery ran down. Now GM says that at some point when the battery's charge declines, or when the car is moving near 70 mph, the gas engine will power the wheels.
The newspaper ads proclaim, "Chevrolet Runs Deep." Whatever that means, if anything, it does not mean the Volt runs deep into a commute or the countryside just on electricity. At the bottom of the ads, there is this, in microscopic print: "Volt available in CA, TX, MI, NY, NJ, CT and Washington, DC, at the end of 2010. Quantities limited." Well.
Quantities of everything -- except perhaps God's mercy, which is said to be infinite -- are limited. But quantities of the Volt are going to be so limited that 44 states can only pine for Volts from afar. Good, because the federal government, which evidently is feeling flush, will give tax credits of up to $7,500 to every Volt purchaser. The Volt was conceived to appease the automotive engineers in Congress, which knows that people will have to be bribed, with other people's money, to buy this $41,000 car that seats only four people (the 435-pound battery eats up space).
Mark Reuss, president of GM North America, said in a letter to The Wall Street Journal: "The early enthusiastic consumer response -- more than 120,000 potential Volt customers have already signaled interest in the car, and orders have flowed since the summer -- give us confidence that the Volt will succeed on its merits." Disregard the slipperiness ("signaled interest" how?) and telltale reticence (how many orders have "flowed"?). But "on its merits"? Why, then, the tax credits and other subsidies?
The Automotive-Engineer-in-Chief -- our polymathic president -- says there will be a million plug-in cars in America by 2015. This will require much higher gasoline prices (perhaps $9 a gallon) and much bigger bribes: GM, which originally was expected to produce as many as 60,000 next year, now says 10,000 for all of North America.
GM says that, battery powered, the Volt has a 40-mile range. Popular Mechanics says 33. Thomas R. Kuhn, president of the Edison Electric Institute, the trade association of the electric utility industry, is, understandably, a Volt enthusiast: This supposedly "green" vehicle will store electric energy -- 10 to 12 hours of charging on household current -- produced by coal and gas-fired power plants.
The federal government, although waist-deep in red ink, offers another bribe: Any purchaser can get a tax credit of up to 50 percent of the cost (up to $2,000) of an extra-powerful (240 volt) charger. California, although so strapped it recently issued IOUs to vendors, offers a $5,000 cash rebate for which Volt buyers are not eligible but purchasers of Nissan's electric Leaf are. Go figure.
In April, in a television commercial and a Wall Street Journal column headlined "The GM Bailout: Paid Back in Full," GM's then-CEO Ed Whitacre said, "we have repaid our government loan, in full, with interest, five years ahead of the original schedule." Rubbish.
GM, which has received almost $50 billion in government subventions, repaid a $6.7 billion loan using other federal funds, a TARP-funded escrow account. Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, called this a "TARP money shuffle." A commentator compared it to "paying off your Visa credit card with your MasterCard."
Meretricious accounting and deceptive marketing are inevitable when government and its misnamed "private sector" accomplices foist state capitalism on an appalled country. But those who thought the ethanol debacle defined outer limits of government foolishness pertaining to automobiles were, alas, mistaken.
Contact George Will at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Posted by Lady Patriot at 7:32 AM
Tuesday, November 09, 2010
De Facto Shariah Law in America
Click Here for Article
By Janet Levy
November 9, 2010
Is the United States today a de facto shariah state? A close look at recent events points to some alarming conclusions about the tenets of shariah law taking hold in our once-proud constitutional republic and the unwitting, unequal application of existing U.S. laws. The result is that when it comes to religious expression, Muslims now enjoy more freedom of religion and speech under our Bill of Rights than non-Muslims. Equal protection under the laws of our country holds for Muslims far better than for non-Muslims. Several recent examples illustrate this point.
In October, students at a Chattanooga, Tennessee high school were told that their longtime tradition of praying at practice and before games would no longer be allowed. The school superintendent had called an end to prayer at all school functions following a complaint from the Freedom From Religion Foundation.
In July, students visiting the Supreme Court from an Arizona Christian school were stopped by police as they bowed their heads and quietly prayed for the justices. The students were standing outside the court building to the side at the bottom of the building steps. They weren't blocking traffic, but an officer abruptly approached them and ordered them to stop praying immediately.
Four Christians were arrested in June for disorderly conduct at the Dearborn Arab International Festival after handing out copies of the Gospel of John. The four had stationed themselves five blocks from the festival and did not actively approach anyone, but instead waited for others to approach them. Still, police officers confiscated their video cameras and led the four Christians away in handcuffs to shouts of "Allah hu Akbar" from Muslim bystanders.
In June of 2006, an instrumental rendition of "Ave Maria" was banned at the Henry Jackson High School graduation in Everett, Washington. Despite Justice Samuel Alito's protests, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to consider whether the case was an example of censorship of student speech.
In direct contrast to the above incidents, which limit Christian prayer and expression, numerous examples exist of special accommodations for Muslim activities and religious practices. These indicate an adherence to a separate and distinct policy for Muslims that mirrors the supremacist requirements of shariah law.
In the State of California, 7th-grade students at Excelsior Middle School in Discovery Bay, California adopted Muslim names, prayed on prayer rugs, and celebrated Ramadan under a state-mandated curriculum that requires instruction about various religions. In 2006, the U.S. Supreme Court again declined to hear legal challenges by concerned Excelsior parents, who complained that the instruction was actually religious indoctrination and that Christianity and Judaism were not given equal time and exposure. The curriculum has been upheld as appropriate multicultural material.
After Carver Elementary School in San Diego absorbed Muslim students from a defunct charter school in September 2006, a special recess was provided for the students to pray, classes were segregated by gender, and pork was removed from the school menu. A teacher's aide at the school led children in prayer and was provided with a lesson plan allotting an hour of class time for Islamic prayer. In essence, Muslim students alone were privileged with public school time to practice their religion at an additional cost of $450,000 in public funds and a loss of instruction time. (Note: Looked this up also and revised it a bit as well.)
In May, students at a Wellesley, Massachusetts middle school visited a local radical mosque and participated in a prayer session. Parents, who gave signed permission for students to visit the mosque, were not informed in advance that students would also be bowing to Allah and listening to lectures on Islam. Surprisingly, teachers did nothing to intervene as students participated and a mosque spokesperson denigrated Western civilization while glorifying and misrepresenting Islam, even falsely referring to the greater rights of women under Islam. Astonishingly, this occurred in a state that has prohibited the sale of Christmas items, including red and green tissue paper, at a school store and forced firefighters to remove a "Merry Christmas" sign from their station.
Over the last few years, the University of Michigan, a taxpayer-funded school, has provided separate prayer rooms and ritual foot baths, requiring bathroom modifications costing over $100,000, for Muslim observances.
At Minneapolis Community and Technical College, where religious displays, including those for Christmas, have been strictly prohibited, foot-washing facilities are being installed using taxpayer dollars after one student slipped and injured herself washing her feet in a sink. Director of Legal Affairs and President Phil Davis justified the disparate treatment of Muslims, explaining, "The foot-washing facilities are not about religion; they are about public safety."
Muslims periodically block the streets of New York City, prostrating themselves in the middle of roadways and sidewalks undisturbed by police and other authorities. The resulting traffic jams are ignored, the double- and illegally parked vehicles are free of citations, and law enforcement officers are nowhere to be seen. Surely, practitioners of other religions or groups planning similar gatherings would be required to obtain permits for such an activity. Reportedly, the police have been ordered not to interfere with the Muslim prayer spectacle.
These special accommodations for Muslims effectively elevate the Islamic faith above that of Christians and Jews, reinforcing the message of the Koran -- "Allah proclaims Islam over all other religions" (48:28), "Islam will dominate other religions" (9:33), and "Islam does not coexist with other faiths" (5:51). Muslims are required by the teachings of their faith to conquer and subjugate non-Muslims and Ensure worldwide submission to Islam -- "The believers must make war on infidels around them and let the infidels find firmness in them" (9:123).
Under Islamic shariah law, Christians may not even speak to Muslims about Christianity nor provide them with any literature about Christianity. With the recent arrests of Christians in Dearborn juxtaposed with prostrate Muslim worshipers in Manhattan (where a mosque is planned at Ground Zero at the same location where a church will not be rebuilt), it appears that the principles of Islamic supremacy and prohibitions against Christian proselytizing have begun to gain traction in America.
Meanwhile, Christianity in America is withering as Bible study is eradicated in public schools, crosses are removed from the public square, and "winter holidays" replace Christmas celebrations. Remarkably, as Christianity is being dethroned and denied public expression, Islam is being unabashedly and openly promoted in what has been a Christian country for over two hundred years. It is truly remarkable that as American students chant prayers in Arabic in California's classrooms, Christmas music and graphics that refer to both Christmas and Chanukah are prohibited in New Jersey.
Censure of Non-Muslims
Further, the First Amendment, free-speech rights of non-Muslims are being curtailed amidst the demands of Muslims who operate under few constraints. While non-Muslims are self-censoring out of fear and being shut down by authorities, Muslims enjoy almost unfettered rights to speak out.
For example, leading up to the 9th anniversary of the Muslim attack on 9/11, Pastor Terry Jones of Florida announced that he would burn the Koran in protest of the proposed Ground Zero mosque. Not only was Jones's life threatened by Muslims, but an Obama administration official asked him to cancel his plans. New York Governor David A. Paterson commented in response to Jones' threat: "More and more, particularly this year, I feel that the memory of those who were lost is being disrespected." However, Paterson did not criticize the Muslim threat on Jones' life, nor the plan itself to build a mosque over the remains of the victims of Islamic terrorism killed on 9/11.
While Pastor Jones was punished by the loss of his mortgage and insurance and was presented with a bill for $180,000 for security by the City of Gainesville, Muslims avoided any public opprobrium even though twenty innocent people around the world died during Muslim protests against Jones. Like the response to the Danish Mohammed cartoons years earlier, the Koran-burning activity was suppressed and censured as disrespectful to Muslims. It was even compared to the burning of churches and synagogues. Yet Muslims who threatened violent reprisals against Jones were not warned that attempts to curtail First Amendment rights and even mayhem, assaults, or murder would not be tolerated and would be punished to the full extent of the law.
In another instance of free speech rights violations, when New Jersey Transit Authority (NJTA) worker Derek Fenton burned a Koran near Ground Zero on 9-11, he was promptly removed by authorities as much for the perceived insult to Islam as for his own safety. The very next day, he was fired from his job of eleven years.
In October, NPR reporter,Juan Williams was fired for expressing on Fox News a fear shared by the majority of Americans in a post-9/11 world -- his discomfort about being on a plane with people who dress as conservative Muslims. Thanks to pressure from CAIR, a Hamas-supporting, extremist-linked organization, Williams was punished for this thoughtcrime and, without first talking to Williams, an NPR spokesperson broke the news on Twitter. Ironically, CAIR spokespersons are regular guests on NPR programs.
Cartoonist Molly Norris was forced to disappear after declaring April 20 "Everybody Draw Mohammed Day." Norris ignited a religious firestorm with radical Islamic cleric Imam Anwar al-Awlaki publicly ordering her execution. Under FBI recommendations and at her own expense, Norris went underground, changing her name and identity. She is no longer publishing cartoons at the publication where she has been a regular contributor.
Freedom of Speech for Muslims
Whereas Norris was forced to enter a witness-protection program in response to a fatwa against her, Islamic leaders enjoy unlimited freedom to spread their messages of hate within the United States. Some even receive protection at taxpayer expense, as did Feisal Abdul Rauf, an Egyptian-American Sufi imam who plans to build a mosque at Ground Zero. Rauf is closely associated with the Muslim Brotherhood and Muslim Brotherhood organizations, endeavors to supplant U.S. law with shariah, and refuses to condemn jihadist groups and terrorism. In addition, he refused to sign a pledge revoking the mandatory death sentence for Muslim apostasy, has encouraged U.S. government officials to negotiate with the terrorist group Hamas, and blames the United States for 9/11. Imam Rauf, who created the Shariah Index Project, which rates countries around the world on shariah compliance, has said that he believes in shariah supremacy.
Tariq Ramadan, a highly controversial leader in the fundamentalist Muslim world and the grandson of the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood, Hassan Al-Banna, visited the United States in April. As a keynote speaker at the Hamas-supporting Council on American Islam Relations and as a speaker before another Muslim Brotherhood organization, the Muslim American Society, Ramadan refused to condemn the shariah law provision that calls for stoning women for alleged improprieties or to denounce suicide bombing. Ramadan is suspected by U.S. intelligence of having ties to al-Qaeda. He espouses amicable messages of peace and respect when speaking with Western audiences, while endorsing Wahhabism and spreading hatred of the West to Arabic-speaking audiences.
Even Muslims targeted by our own government for their crimes receive protection. Anwar al-Awlaki, dubbed the "bin Laden of the internet" and suspected of having prior knowledge of 9/11 by having met privately with two of the 9/11 hijackers, has been defended by the American Civil Liberties Union. After President Obama approved placing Awlaki on a government assassination list, the ACLU initiated a lawsuit against the U.S. government challenging the order to kill him. This despite Awlaki being on the FBI's Most Wanted List and his having met and corresponded with Major Nidal Hasan, the Fort Hood assassin. He trained the Christmas underwear bomber, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, and was the inspiration for Faisal Shahzad, the attempted Times Square car bomber. In a recent video delivered to CNN, Awlaki stated that Muslims are obligated to wage jihad against the United States.
Nine years after 9/11, in contrast to protections enjoyed by Muslims, individuals perceived by Muslims to have damaged Islam in some way have been threatened, fired, and publicly censured. This development indicates how far we have come down the road to dhimmitude, a subservient status in relation to Muslims. Clearly, if Norris had organized a Draw Jesus or Draw Moses Day, her life would be very much intact. If Juan Williams had talked about his fear of fundamentalist Christians, he would still be an NPR host in good standing. Had Jones burned the Old Testament, twenty people murdered by Muslims jihadists would still be alive, his reputation would be untarnished, and his financial situation would be undamaged. Had Derek Fenton burned a copy of the Old or New Testament, it is unlikely that the NJTA would have taken any action against him.
Islamization of America
We are witnessing a transformation of American society in which Islam enjoys a privileged place among the country's religions. The sensitivities of the country's 3 to 5 million Muslims are considered above those of non-Muslims. Non-Muslims even assist sensitive Muslims in the weeding out of potentially offensive statements or actions that could be remotely critical of Islam or Muslims. Since 9/11, Americans have been well-trained not to talk about Islam and terrorism or to use the word "jihad." Publicly criticizing, voicing concern about, or even expressing fear about Muslim behavior or activities is forbidden. While other religions may be freely criticized, lampooned in cartoons, and denigrated by artwork, Islam is sacred, supreme, and beyond reproach.
Every effort is made in the United States to accommodate Muslims and engage them in interfaith dialogue and community affairs. Muslims may pray openly in public -- on city streets and in airport terminals. Many U.S. government departments hold Iftar dinners to celebrate the end of Ramadan. The Ground Zero mosque will be built over the ashes of 9/11 victims, but the St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church that was destroyed by Muslims will not. Non-Muslims enjoy no such privileges or special treatment in Muslim countries. They may not visit Mecca nor build churches or synagogues. U.S. forces stationed in Saudi Arabia are prohibited from wearing visible religious symbols.
The foregoing examples, not exhaustive by any means, point to the fact that we are living under a de facto shariah law system in the United States today that has compromised the freedoms we have enjoyed under our Constitution -- freedom of religion, freedom of speech, and freedom of the press. Now, we no longer enjoy equal protection under the law. Our uniquely American virtues of tolerance and freedom have worked against us to produce intolerance and oppression. This has led to the stealthy introduction of shariah law and a climate in which criticisms of Mohammed and Islam are no longer possible without serious repercussions.
Instead, claims of Islamophobia and anti-Muslim bias are rampant. Yet consider the following: the Muslim atrocity of 9/11, the attempt by the Nigerian Muslim Abdulmutallab to detonate plastic explosive in his underwear on a Northwest Airlines flight in 2009, the massacre of thirteen soldiers at Fort Hood by jihadist psychiatrist Nidal Hassan in 2009, the failed bombing of Times Square by Faisal Shahzad last May, the violent jihad plot in North Carolina planned by Daniel Patrick Boyd, the recent storming of a Baghdad church and murder of 58 Christians, the UPS plot to bomb synagogues in the Chicago area uncovered this past weekend, and countless other incidents over the past several years.
It is not irrational and biased to fear practitioners of a religion who are trying to kill non-Muslims based on teachings from their religion's doctrine. Apologists for Islam whitewash these events, but Islamic teachings (Reliance of the Traveller, o4.9, p. 590) specifically state that a Muslim's life is worth three times that of a Christian or Jew and fifteen times more than that of a Zoroastrian. (The Consulate General of India, Jeddah lists indemnities for Hindus and Buddhists at 1/15 that of Muslims). When non-Muslims so much as express any discomfort with Muslims and Islamic ideology, they risk public censure, financial ruin, loss of livelihood, and even death. he United States is truly under shariah law when it is forbidden and a punishable offense to call out Islamic doctrine for what it is.
Posted by Lady Patriot at 1:15 PM
Monty Pelerin blogs at http://www.economicnoise/
November 09, 2010
The day after the election, the Federal Reserve launched QE2, the second round of Quantitative Easing. This public relations euphemism attempts to hide the fact that the Fed is "printing money" (the Fed actually does it electronically these days). "Cheating, debasing and inflating," as in stealing from the public, is a more accurate description.
Bernanke indicated from 600 to 850 billion additional dollars would be created. To put this in perspective, the Tarp package was in this range. The total Federal Reserve balance sheet was $829 billion at the end of 2004 and only $869 billion in August 2007. At the end of 2009 it had ballooned to over $2,200 billion. This announcement means it is headed to $3,000 billion (3 trillion).
Ben Bernanke weakly defended his action with the following justifications:
•... further support to the economy is needed
•Easier financial conditions will promote economic growth.
•higher stock prices will boost consumer wealth and help increase confidence, which can also spur spending.
The first two statements are true as stated, but unlikely to be affected by additional QE. The third is partially true, although it is unclear that his action will raise stock prices. Furthermore, empirical data is not supportive of the alleged relationship between stock prices and spending (see the Kass reference below).
Many economists and analysts believe that the Fed actions will not help. Several believe they will actually make conditions worse (two examples are Doug Kass and Pimco's El Erian).
The Real Reason for QE2
Mr. Bernanke's justification for committing nearly another trillion dollars does not meet the "smell" test. In prior life, Professor Bernanke would flunk an Econ 101 student for such weak justification (of course we know no one really gets an F at Princeton, no matter how deserved).
Mr. Bernanke's performance was a charade meant to hide the fact that the government is now illiquid! Mr. Bernanke instituted QE2 because the Federal Government has reached the point where it cannot pay its bills.
If the Fed does not buy government bonds (print money), checks will stop for programs like Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements, military pay, etc.
The Madoff Model of government just ended. There are no longer enough bond buyers or taxpayers to pay for the profligate spending of the US government.
For more than a decade, responsible economists and analysts warned how this situation had to end. That point has apparently just been reached as a result of some of these reasons:
•We are increasingly viewed overseas as a profligate, fiscally irresponsible country with no willingness to change.
•Our debt levels have become dangerously high, raising the probability of sovereign default.
•Our annual deficit is 3 to 4 times larger than ever before and looks like there is no political will to address it. Interest rates are too low to compensate for the perceived risk.
•Foreign countries that supported us are now either unwilling or unable to purchase our debt.
The root cause of the liquidity problem is insolvency. Insolvency is a condition where eventually obligations cannot be met. Illiquidity then results. QE2 provides liquidity, but does nothing to solve the insolvency issue.
Unless the insolvency problem is solved, illiquidity will continue. From a mathematical standpoint, it is possible to solve the insolvency problem. From a practical or political standpoint, it is likely impossible.
Our funded Federal Debt is almost 100% of GDP. Our unfunded social obligations are about another $100 trillion. The total net worth of the country is about $55 trillion. Government has promised benefits that are twice what everything in the country is worth. To understand the math, see Spiraling to Bankruptcy.
Laurence Kotlikoff referred to a recent International Monetary Fund assessment of the US financial condition:
... the IMF has effectively pronounced the U.S. bankrupt. Section 6 of the July 2010 Selected Issues Paper says: "The U.S. fiscal gap associated with today's federal fiscal policy is huge for plausible discount rates." It adds that "closing the fiscal gap requires a permanent annual fiscal adjustment equal to about 14 percent of U.S. GDP."
The government would have to double every tax it collects (including payroll taxes) to run 5% surpluses for decades in order to bring government obligations into manageable range. Such tax increases would plunge the US and probably the world into an economic Dark Ages.
Alternatively, current government spending could be cut by about 50%. Managing spending forward so that a 5% surplus was maintained would also work.
Bernanke's Morton's Fork
Mr. Bernanke was faced with two choices, neither of which were good. He could have refused to initiate another round of QE, which would have forced the government to make tough decisions. Such action might have put the economy into another Great Depression. He likely would have lost his job and been blamed for any economic difficulties that followed.
He chose the other option -- provide the needed funds. As such, he chose to be the Enabler-in-Chief, reinforcing the out-of-control government fiscal policies. This choice likely enabled him to keep his job (for the time being) and made him appear to be the White Knight responsive to economic needs.
Unfortunately for the country, his choice makes matters worse, much worse.
The Road Ahead
With QE2, the government will be able to pay its bills. If the shortfall were temporary, Bernanke's actions might be considered prudent. Of course if the shortfall were temporary, the government would be able to borrow in the marketplace.
Without a solution to spending excesses and social commitments that cannot be met, there is no end to our shortfalls. Welcome to QE2, soon to be followed by QE3, QE4 ... and hyperinflation.
QE2 is just another step toward "banana republic" status. We are on the same road travelled by Argentina, Brazil, Zimbabwe, Weimar Germany and many others who destroyed their currencies.
These countries did not intend that result. Each step was justified based on the expediency of keeping the government going. As Hayek pointed out:
I do not think it is an exaggeration to say history is largely a history of inflation, usually inflations engineered by governments for the gain of governments.
In every case, including our own, the government had already failed. Its attempt to survive made matters much worse for its citizens.
QE2 may only represent the first step, but its effects alone are apt to be profound. Pimco's Bill Gross anticipates it will produce a 20% decline in the value of the dollar. If you were China or Japan, would you want to buy Treasury Bonds? Would you continue to hold dollar-denominated assets? These types of considerations trigger currency runs.
Mr. Bernanke has deferred the day of reckoning. His action will not prevent government collapse, it will ensure it, along with collapses in the currency, economy and likely society itself. This little man, unelected and accountable to no one, has just sentenced the country to an Economic Apocalypse.
Milton Friedman's concern seems especially appropriate:
The power to determine the quantity of money... is too important, too pervasive, to be exercised by a few people, however public-spirited, if there is any feasible alternative. There is no need for such arbitrary power... Any system which gives so much power and so much discretion to a few men, [so] that mistakes - excusable or not - can have such far reaching effects, is a bad system. It is a bad system to believers in freedom just because it gives a few men such power without any effective check by the body politic - this is the key political argument against an independent central bank.
How Will This End?
There is no pleasant ending. Political activity over the past fifty years guaranteed that. As Ludwig von Mises observed:
Credit expansion can bring about a temporary boom. But such a fictitious prosperity must end in a general depression of trade, a slump.
The best solution is for Mr. Bernanke to cease and desist from his QE policy. That would require the political class to face up to its problems. It would require a massive roll-back of the welfare state and government. It would require resizing government to a level that productive citizens would support. Transitional hardships would occur, including civil unrest and possibly a Depression.
The worst solution is the one that Mr. Bernanke has selected. If he stays on this course, fiat money will become worthless. So will Social Security checks, because they will have no purchasing power. All fixed income and savings will be wiped out. The middle class will be financially destroyed.
Markets will cease to function except on a barter system. Food and other necessities will be in short supply, possibly to the extent of health risks developing. Unimaginable civil unrest is likely.
A Greater Depression is assured. Unlike the first Great Depression, citizens would be without any financial wherewithal. Their savings and fixed income will have been stolen from them via hyperinflation. In short, it would be the worst Economic Hell imaginable.
Mr. Bernanke was unwilling to tell you what is happening. His action has moved us into the eye of a massive storm. Do not be lulled into complacency for as von Mises stated:
A fiat-money inflation can be carried on only as long as the masses do not become aware of the fact that the government is committed to such a policy.
Now you know and others will pick up on this quickly. Make like the political elite and protect yourselves from the Level Six economic hurricane that Mr. Bernanke is stoking.
The history of government management of money has, except for a few short happy periods, been one of incessant fraud and deception.
Posted by Lady Patriot at 12:54 PM