Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Today's Laugh Track: SCTV - Count Floyd's "Have Yourself a Scary Little Christmas"

Today's Tune: The Raveonettes - The Christmas Song

Do We Need Big Government?

Government has gotten so big that it sustains most of our activity.

By Michael Tanner
December 14, 2011

As Congress nears approval on a series of 2011 appropriations bills (only three months late, a near-record for recent history), Rep. Sander Levin (D., Mich.) told Fox News that he was encouraged by progress on the bills because “we’re dealing with the lives of people. Those appropriation bills relate to the daily lives of people in middle class of America, and that’s really what this is all about.”

Yet, if that is true, and so many Americans have become dependent on the decisions of federal appropriators in Washington, there seems to be something distinctly wrong.

During the 2011 debate over raising the debt ceiling, President Obama noted that the U.S. federal government sends out 70 million checks every month. Unfortunately, that is probably an underestimate. According to the Washington Post, the president’s estimate included Social Security, veterans’ benefits, and spending on non-defense contractors and vendors. But he did not include reimbursements to Medicare providers and vendors, or electronic transfers to the 21 million households receiving food stamps. (Nor did he include most spending by the Defense Department, which has a payroll of 6.4 million active and retired employees and pays nearly 1 million invoices and 660,000 travel-expense claims per month.) The actual number of monthly federal checks might be closer to 200 million.

Government payouts now account for more than a third of all wages and salaries in the United States. Worse, if one includes government employees’ salaries, more than half of Americans receive a substantial portion of their income from the government. The government provides welfare to the poor, of course — 126 separate anti-poverty programs. But it also provides corporate welfare to the rich. The Cato Institute estimates that the federal government provides at least $92 billion in direct grants and subsidies to businesses each year. It even provides regular welfare to the rich. According to a new report from Sen. Tom Coburn, 2,362 millionaires received unemployment benefits in 2009.

Our federal government taxes money from young people to provide for the retirement of old people. And then takes money from old people to provide for the education of young people. We pay subsidies to everyone from farmers to solar-panel manufacturers. People talk about America’s free-market health-care system, but government pays for more than half of all health-care spending in this country.

Federal-government spending now consumes roughly a quarter of all the goods and services produced in this country over the course of a year. Throw in state- and local-government spending, and it’s more than a third. And, according the Congressional Budget Office, unless there is a drastic change in our current policies, we are on course for government to consume nearly 60 percent of GDP by mid-century.

And President Obama believes that government is still too small?

Worse, all this is just on the spending side. It doesn’t even begin to look at how the federal government regulates our lives. Last year alone the federal government issued 3,573 new rules and regulations. The Federal Register now stands at an all time high of 81,405 pages. Nearly every product you buy and everything you do is regulated by the federal government in some way.

Increasingly, government is seen as the source of prosperity and the solution to all problems. Government creates jobs. Government provides medical care, food, shelter, even an income. Government regulates our morals and defines our virtues. Every good idea becomes a call for a new government program. Civil society, including business and private charity, is relegated to the sidelines, treated with suspicion at best, and often outright hostility.

But, at some point, one has to ask: Has our national character become so degraded that farmers cannot farm, businesses cannot innovate, doctors cannot treat you, and charities cannot care for those in need without some sort of government intervention? And at what point do we simply cease to be a society of free individuals and instead become little more than wards of the state?

Perhaps this is why, according to a Gallup poll taken earlier this month, 64 percent of Americans believe that big government is a bigger threat to the future of this country than big business (26 percent) or big labor (8 percent).

And it certainly is something that might be worth thinking about the next time a political candidate says that he or she has a great new idea for how the federal government can do something else for us.

— Michael Tanner is a senior fellow at the Cato Institute and author of Leviathan on the Right: How Big-Government Conservatism Brought Down the Republican Revolution

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The Volt Administration

Why are we spending millions on biofuels and ignoring America’s natural resources?

By Mona Charen
December 13, 2011

The headline reads like something from The Onion: “U.S. Navy Paying $15 a Gallon for Green Fuel.” But it’s real enough.

It seems that, fresh from its success with Solyndra, the Obama administration is slated to spend $12 million to buy a biofuel/gasoline blend that runs $15 a gallon to power a portion of the Navy’s fleet in a demonstration project.

“We are doing this for one simple reason,” explained Navy Secretary Ray Mabus, “It makes us better fighters. Our use of fossil fuels is a very real threat to our national security and to the U.S. Navy ability to protect America and project power overseas.”

Really? As long as a fuel makes the ships, planes, and submarines go, how does using pricey biofuel mixtures improve the war fighting capacity of the Navy? Does it make the officer corps feel better about themselves as good stewards of the earth’s resources, which in turn makes them shoot straighter?

The investment will certainly brighten the day of T. J. Glauthier, a “strategic advisor” to Solazyme, one of the companies selling the environmentally correct fuel to the U.S. government. Glauthier, reports blogger J. E. Dyer, just happens to have worked on President Obama’s transition team. If the administration pattern holds, Gauthier will be paid off before the taxpayers when Solazyme files for bankruptcy.

The administration didn’t bother to offer the one rationale for investing in alternatives to fossil fuels that might have made a bit of sense: to reduce our dependence on foreign sources of energy. It’s just as well they avoided that trap, because the mismanagement of America’s energy resources is among the greatest failures of imagination that the Obama administration has been guilty of.

The United States is an energy colossus. Just this week, the state of North Dakota announced that it had produced 488,068 barrels of oil per day in October, up 100,000 barrels from June of this year. State officials predict that by 2013/2014, North Dakota will be producing 900,000 barrels a day, putting it ahead of California and Alaska and behind only Texas (at 1.2 million barrels per day) in domestic oil production.

Though the Obama administration regards our energy wealth as a threat to the planet, the untapped resources could be a pillar of American economic resurgence. The Institute for Energy Research predicts that by tapping shale and other sources, the U.S. should be the world’s top oil and gas producer by 2020, outpacing Russia and Saudi Arabia. The development of domestic oil and gas would boost the economy, providing jobs that cannot be outsourced, as well as genuinely promoting our national security by ensuring a supply of energy that cannot be manipulated by hostile governments.

But the Obama administration, while promoting offshore drilling in Brazil (“We’ll be your best customers!”), placed a damaging moratorium on drilling in the Gulf of Mexico following the BP spill. Even after it was lifted, the administration delayed the issuance of permits, effectively prolonging the moratorium, while also placing new limits on drilling along the outer continental shelf and on land. The XL pipeline would have delivered an estimated 500,000 to 700,000 barrels of Canadian oil to the U.S. daily. But bowing to pressure from environmentalists, the president delayed the permit until at least 2013.

The administration has proposed $60 billion in tax increases on the energy sector, and knee-capped the nuclear industry by blocking uranium mining and pulling all funding for the Yucca Mountain waste disposal site. The Environmental Protection Agency has imposed regulations on coal plants that the agency acknowledges will raise electricity prices.

Perhaps the signature energy policy of the Obama administration was the Chevy Volt — the electric car that the Obama administration tried to bribe Americans (with their own tax money) to buy. These “green” cars, we were assured, were going to transform American industry and American energy use. Sucking huge subsidies from taxpayers, the Volts nevertheless sold (or rather, didn’t sell) for an eye-popping $41,000.

But in crash testing, it seems the Volts have a nasty habit of bursting into flames — taking all of those government subsidies, to say nothing of the passengers — down with them. The metaphor is irresistible.

— Mona Charen is a nationally syndicated columnist. © 2011 Creators Syndicate, Inc

Monday, December 12, 2011

Today's Tune: The Raveonettes - Christmas Ghosts

Newt Challenges the Myth of Palestinian Nationalism

By Bruce Thornton
December 12, 2011

Saeb Erekat, chief negotiator for the Palestinians

Newt Gingrich touched off a mini-firestorm when he told a Jewish television channel that the Palestinians are an “invented” people “who are in fact Arabs,” and “who were historically part of the Arab community.” This simple statement of historical fact was of course met with the usual bluster from the Palestinians, who called the statements “ignorant,” “despicable,” and of course “racist,” a meaningless charge. And what response from the Palestinians would be complete without the usual threat that the statement they don’t like will “increase the cycle of violence,” as Palestinian lead negotiator Saeb Erekat put it?

The truly “ignorant,” however, are those who have bought the “Palestinian homeland” propaganda. Where was all this talk about a homeland for the Palestinians in 1948, when the Arab armies invaded Israel? Their aim was not to create a Palestinian state, but rather to carve up the rest of British Mandatory Palestine, as the secretary-general of the Arab League, Abdel Rahman Azzam, confessed at the time: “Abdullah [ruler of Transjordan] was to swallow up the central hill regions of Palestine . . . The Egyptians would get the Negev. The Galilee would go to Syria, except that the coastal part as far as Acre would be added to the Lebanon.” Until 1967, the so-called “West Bank” was part of Jordan, but none of the Arab nations agitated for the creation of a Palestinian state. The “Palestinian homeland” became a tactical weapon after violence failed to achieve the real aim, the destruction of Israel.

In fact, the Palestinians themselves have admitted that the “Palestinian homeland” is a tactical weapon for the destruction of Israel. Listen to Zahir Muhsein, a member of the Palestinian Liberation Organization executive committee, from an interview with a Dutch newspaper given in 1977: “The Palestinian people does not exist. The creation of a Palestinian state is only a means for continuing our struggle against the state of Israel for our Arab unity. In reality today there is no difference between Jordanians, Palestinians, Syrians and Lebanese. Only for political and tactical reasons do we speak today about the existence of a Palestinian people, since Arab national interests demand that we posit the existence of a distinct ‘Palestinian people’ to oppose Zionism. For tactical reasons, Jordan, which is a sovereign state with defined borders, cannot raise claims to Haifa and Jaffa, while as a Palestinian, I can undoubtedly demand Haifa, Jaffa, Beer-Sheva and Jerusalem. However, the moment we reclaim our right to all of Palestine, we will not wait even a minute to unite Palestine and Jordan.”

Muhsein’s statement is consistent with the stated aims of the Palestinian leadership for the last half century: to destroy Israel in “stages.” In 1993, on the same day that the Oslo Accords handed over the West Bank to the PLO, Yasser Arafat told Jordanian television, “Since we cannot defeat Israel in war, we do it in stages. We take any and every territory that we can of Palestine, and establish a sovereignty [sic] there, and we use it as a springboard to take more. When the time comes, we can get the Arab nations to join us for the final blow against Israel.” Indeed, before 1967, Palestinians did speak of a homeland, but it was not to exist in the West Bank, but in Israel. The 1964 PLO Charter Article 24 explicitly said, “This Organization does not exercise any territorial sovereignty over the West Bank in the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, on the Gaza Strip or in the Himmah Area.” After 1967, this article was removed for strategic purposes. Thus any content to the notion of a “Palestinian homeland” is inextricably predicated on the destruction of Israel, as Article 2 of the 1968 Charter makes clear: “Palestine, with the boundaries it had during the British Mandate, is an indivisible territorial unit.” Consistent with this principle, Arafat said in 1970, “We shall never stop until we can go back home and Israel is destroyed, peace for us means Israel’s destruction and nothing else.” In other words, the “two-state solution” that Westerners continue to chant like a mantra will not resolve the conflict between Israel and the Arabs.

Our failures in dealing with a dysfunctional Middle East in part result from a failure of imagination, our unwillingness to think beyond our own ideals and see beyond the duplicitous pretexts of our adversaries. The tactic of a “Palestinian homeland,” for example, exploits the Western ideal of the nation-state as forming the fundamental structure of a people and their collective identity. But nationalism is not an organic part of Islam, which recognizes no separation of church and state. A people are created by their adherence to Islam, by being members of the global umma or Muslim community. The PLO Charter makes this clear in Article 15: “The liberation of Palestine, from an Arab viewpoint, is a national (qawmi) duty and it attempts to repel the Zionist and imperialist aggression against the Arab homeland, and aims at the elimination of Zionism in Palestine. Absolute responsibility for this falls upon the Arab nation––peoples and governments––with the Arab people of Palestine in the vanguard.” Palestinian nationalism is an expression of Arab nationalism, in a way unimaginable for any Western country, for the simple reason that Arab nationalism is in fact another expression of universal Muslim identity.

In fact, every Middle Eastern Muslim country that has shaken off its kleptocratic dictators writes its government charters to reflect the religious foundations of Muslim nationalism. Iraq’s constitution––purchased with American blood and treasure––reads at the start, “Islam is the official religion of the state and is a basic source of legislation,” and asserts, “No law can be passed that contradicts the undisputed rules of Islam.” The second article proclaims, “This constitution guarantees the Islamic identity of the majority of the Iraqi people.” In Afghanistan’s Constitution, Article 2 says, “The religion of the state of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan is the sacred religion of Islam.” Article 3 adds, “In Afghanistan, no law can be contrary to the beliefs and provisions of the sacred religion of Islam.” And these are the two states where the United States has provided billions of dollars, security, and a custodial presence all meant to create “freedom and democracy” in an Islamic state. We can imagine what will arise in Libya and Egypt, where Islamist parties dedicated to founding a state on shari’a law are driving events. Influential Egyptian cleric Safwat Higazi––who appeared on stage with Muslim Brother “Spiritual Guide” Yusuf al-Qaradawi when the latter returned in triumph to Cairo after Mubarak’s fall––has given us a clear indication of what to expect: “I am convinced that Islam is imminent, the caliphate is imminent. One of these days, the United States of Islam will be established. Allah willing, it will be soon. Egypt will be one state in this [United States of Islam.] Morocco and Saudi Arabia will be states as well.”

National identity, then, means something very different to most Muslims from what it means to us. For most Muslims in the Middle East, being Muslim takes precedence over being an Egyptian, a Libyan, or a Palestinian. And being Muslim means endorsing shari’a law, which is incompatible with Western notions of universal human rights and tolerance. The obsession with Palestinian “national identity” or “national aspirations” blinds us to the religious foundations of Arab hatred of Israel and Jews evident throughout the Middle East and driving policy toward Israel.

The algorithm of malice

By Melanie Phillips
9 December 2011

Absortion transit camp Haifa ( ma'abarot) 1950 - Robert Capa, Jews of Yemen

Israel’s deputy foreign minister, Danny Ayalon, has just released the third of his little information videos setting out certain essential facts about Israel and the Arabs to counter the lies of the delegitimisation campaign. You can watch it here.Those who dismiss this as just more Israeli propaganda should think again. For it states truths which are absolutely fundamental to the conflict between the Arabs and the Jews, but which have been turned on their heads and replaced by equally fundamental lies.

There are two big and connected points made by this little video. The first is that the widely-held belief that the Arabs were the only refugees from the Arab war against the newly reconstituted country of Israel (a war which started in 1948 and continues to this day) -- is totally untrue. There were many more Jewish refugees from Arab countries. As a result of the 1948 war, some 500,000 Arabs left Palestine – most of them as a result of having been told to do so by Arab regimes certain of destroying the new Jewish state. But some 850,000 Jews were then attacked, stripped of their citizenship and ethnically cleansed from their homes in Arab states -- causing the destruction of ancient Jewish communities in those countries which had well predated the arrival of Islam in the Middle East. And what happened to those refugees? They were absorbed without fuss into Israel (picture above, 1950), where they form around half of the population, and into other countries.

The second point which is crucial to an understanding of this conflict is that the Palestinian refugee issue is entirely artificial and bogus. Not only were the Arabs from Palestine deliberately refused access to other Arab countries in order to turn them – as a UN refugee official admitted – into an open sore as a weapon to be used against Israel. Even more astonishingly, the UN itself was a party to this malevolent strategy.

For it chose to treat the Palestinian Arabs differently from any other refugee group. All other refugees are dealt with by the UN Refugee Agency, whose goal is to re-settle them. But for the Palestinian Arabs, the UN set up the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) – whose goal was to maintain the Palestinian Arabs as permanent refugees.

To that end, while in every other conflict refugees are defined merely as people who flee their homes, the UN decided that amongst the Palestinian Arabs refugee status would be transmitted from generation to generation. As a result, the number of Palestinian Arab ‘refugees’ has not diminished but risen over the years from 550,000 to 4.7 million. These are the people who are now said to deserve the ‘right of return’ to Israel.

Of course, the idea that 4.2 million of these people are actually refugees is totally absurd. If that standard was applied generally, the entire Jewish diaspora -- not to mention untold millions around the world who have been settled for generations - could suddenly claim refugee status. The UN bestowed this unique status upon the Palestinian Arabs for one reason only – to create an algorithm of malice that could be used as a weapon against the Jews.

Now at long last Israel has begun to realise that yes, incredible as it seems, sentient people do actually believe such lies -- – and that if the free world is to be restored to the axis of reason, they must be countered head-on by the true facts of history.

A Shameful State Department Initiative

By Pamela Geller
December 12, 2011

Today the Islamized State Department will be meeting with the Islamic supremacist Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) to discuss strategies and develop action plans in which to impose the restriction of free speech (or blasphemy, as truthful speech about Islam is considered in Islamic law) under the Sharia here in America.

Photos accompanying news reports about the upcoming meeting shows Secretary of State Hillary Clinton with OIC Secretary General Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu at a meeting last summer in Istanbul. Such prominence is given to this totalitarian organization. That photo reminds me of Neville and Adolf.

The respect and deference that the United States is paying to the OIC amounts to surrender in installments. The very idea that the U.S. Secretary of State is meeting with the OIC to discuss "religious tolerance" is like having Himmler meeting with Jews to condemn Jew-hatred. Under Islam. there is a complete and utter absence of "religious tolerance" of non-Muslims living in Muslim countries under the Sharia.

The call for "respect and empathy and tolerance," coming from the most brutal and oppressive ideology on the face of the earth, reminds me of the "peace and equality" that was promised in Hitler's campaign posters for the Nationalist Socialist Workers (Nazi) party.

The OIC is comprised of 56 governments along with the Palestinian Authority. It also asserts authority over the Muslims living in non-Muslim lands, claiming that "Muslim immigrant communities in Europe are part of the Islamic nation." It also recommends, according to the renowned historian Bat Ye'or, "a series of steps to prevent the integration and assimilation of Muslims into European culture."

The OIC's foremost target is truthful dialogue about Islam, which it calls "Islamophobia" and claims hysterically is a "a crime against humanity" that must be criminalized. In line with that initiative, back in July, Obama's State Department reached a Sharia blasphemy agreement with OIC in Turkey. Hillary Clinton actually said this to the OIC:
We each have to work to do more to promote respect for religious differences in our own countries. In the United States, I will admit, there are people who still feel vulnerable or marginalized as a result of their religious beliefs. And we have seen how the incendiary actions of just a very few people, a handful in a country of nearly 300 million, can create wide ripples of intolerance.
She wasn't referring to Islamic jihadists. Clinton meant that the "ripples of intolerance" were those fighting against those jihadists.
Clinton went on to say:
We also understand that, for 235 years, freedom of expression has been a universal right at the core of our democracy. So we are focused on promotinginterfaith education and collaboration, enforcing antidiscrimination laws, protecting the rights of all people to worship as they choose, and to use some old-fashioned techniques of peer pressure and shaming, so that people don't feel that they have the support to do what we abhor.
"Peer pressure and shaming." That is exactly what these useful idiots try to do with anyone and everyone who tells the truth about Islam and jihad: me, Robert Spencer, Wafa Sultan, Nonie Darwish, and more.

Andrea Lafferty of the Traditional Values Coalition and James Lafferty, a Board member of my organization Stop Islamization Of America (SIOA), have been covering the preparations for Monday's meeting closely:
"During a closed door meeting next week the U.S. State Department," they reported[T2] , "taking instruction from the United Nations, will host leaders from around the world in an effort to shame and pressure religious liberty and free speech organizations from engaging Islam."
Said Andrea Lafferty:
What we are seeing here is a direct assault with the United Nations, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, and our own U.S. State Department in an effort to chill and curb religious liberties and free speech in America.
Significantly, according to the Laffertys,
...the topics and the agenda -- and those meeting in Washington -- have not been released to the public. Several attempts to obtain this list by Traditional Values Coalition (TVC) have been refused or deferred. Additionally, two formal written requests to observe the proceedings as well as participation on an NGO conference call were dismissed.

It is hypocritical for the State Department to insist that a meeting designed discussed best practices on protecting free speech is predicated on a closed-door meeting with foreign nationals[.] ... Americans are tired of being told that we are our own worst enemy. Terrorists attacked the United States, in the name of Islam, because they hate the freedoms that make us strong. What will history say if we allowed the diplomats and bureaucrats of the United Nations and State Department to accomplish what terrorists and planes could not?
History will say we were the biggest fools the world ever knew, allowing our freedoms to be seized from under our noses by deceitful Islamic supremacists. This must not stand.

Pamela Geller is the publisher of and the author of the WND Books title Stop the Islamization of America: A Practical Guide to the Resistance.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Proposed S. Korean Towers Resemble Exploding World Trade Center

Not coincidental.

December 9, 2011

The unveiling of pictures of planned luxury residential towers scheduled to be built in Seoul, South Korea, has sparked instant controversy. The reason is obvious. The towers, which include a so-called “cloud” feature connecting them around the 27th floors, clearly resemble the World Trade Towers in the process of collapsing following the 9/11 attacks.

The designers of the towers, Dutch architectural firm MVRDV, have responded to the controversy by quickly publishing an apology in English. “It was not our intention to create an image resembling the attacks,” the designers insist, “nor did we see the resemblance during the design process.”
They did not see the resemblance during the design process? The problem with this assertion – apart from its inherent implausibility – is that they have admitted the contrary in Dutch. Thus Jan Knikker of MVRDV told the Dutch newspaper Algemeen Dagblad, “I have to admit that we also thought of the 9/11 attacks.”
Moreover, given the context, the MVRDV architects could hardly have not thought of the 9/11 attacks. The residential towers, after all, are supposed to be built at the entrance to the so-called Yongsan Dream Hub: a complex of business towers that has been designed by none other than Daniel Libeskind, the designer of the original “master plan” for the reconstruction of Ground Zero. Indeed, as the below image from Studio Daniel Libeskind makes clear, Libeskind’s Yongsan Dreamhub “master plan” closely resembles his original “master plan” for lower Manhattan.

John Rosenthal writes on European politics and transatlantic security issues. You can follow his work at or on Facebook.