Wednesday, February 29, 2012

WTC Bombing Mastermind To Be Freed In Exchange For Americans Jailed In Egypt?

That's what Robert Spencer over at Jihadwatch is saying after reading a report in al-Arabiya.

The Egyptian government has started real action to respond to a U.S. offer offering to release 50 Egyptians in American prisons, including Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman, in return for the release of 19 Americans accused of foreign funding of nongovernmental organizations, as confirmed by Major General Mohamed Hani Zaher, an expert on military research and the fight against international terrorism.

Zaher told the newspaper that the Egyptians need to exploit the weak U.S. position, especially after the conviction of their nationals on charges affecting Egypt's sovereignty over its territory, and not to allow this deal to take place without the agreement of the U.S. administration to release more than 500 Egyptian prisoners in U.S. custody; the Egyptian Foreign Ministry does not know anything about them.

He added that the Egyptian Foreign Ministry asked the Egyptian Embassy in Washington for a list of Egyptian prisoners in the United States of America, and the Egyptian consulate there had already started procedures to account for the number of Egyptian prisoners and detainees in custody on a number of charges in the United States, he said, adding that among the prisoners in the Consulate files was Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman, the Mufti of Al-Gama'a al-Islamiyya (the Islamic Group) and currently imprisoned in America....

Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman, AKA The Blind Sheik was one of the planners behind the first World Trade Center bombing in 1993 and is serving a life sentence. He was also the man American traitor Lynne Stewart aided and abetted by carrying messages to his followers in the Middle East and giving confidential intel info to our enemies she obtained in discovery while acting as his lawyer.Evidence turned over to Rahman's attorneys by the government ended up being found in documents seized at an al-Qaeda headquarters in the Sudan.

She ended up getting a mere 28 months instead of being hung, as she deserved.

Another Egyptian said to be on the Egyptian's list is El Sayid Nosair, one of Rahman's followers. He was the man who murdered Rabbi Meir Kahane, and was later acquitted on a technicality (he admitted to the murder after his acquittal). Nosair was also convicted on charges related to the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.

I won't be at all surprised if this deal goes through.President Obama's Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood's son is one of the American hostages, and aside from that leverage, President Obama and the other geniuses in his administration are absolutely in sick, gooey, physical love at the idea of the fascist Muslim Brotherhood taking over Egypt, so the president would certainly not balk at returning one of Egypt's favorite clerics to them, along with a raft of other assorted terrorist murderers.

The Obama Administration made a few noises about this affecting the 1.2 billion in aid we give Egypt,but the Egyptians knew we were bluffing and of course the president and his minions backed down quickly.

Robert Spencer says that this swap would be 'the apotheosis of Obama's policy of appeasement toward the Islamic world.'

I disagree with him there. This president still has 10 months in office, assuming he's not re-elected. I guarantee you he'll top this.

Inside Vladimir Putin

Russian leader and presidential candidate Vladimir Putin has an interesting op-ed in RIA Novosti ( hat tip,long time Joshua's Army member Louie Louie) that illuminates a great deal of his thinking about foreign affairs and reveals a lot about how Russia sees America and the West. Entitled 'Russia and the Changing World', it's well worth looking at in some detail. I've emphasized some areas:

Russia is part of the greater world whether we are talking about the economy, the spread of information or the development of culture. We do not wish to and cannot isolate ourselves. We hope that our openness will lead to economic and cultural development in Russia while increasing levels of mutual trust, a resource that is in increasingly short supply today.

However, we intend to be consistent in proceeding from our own interests and goals rather than decisions dictated by someone else. Russia is only respected and has its interests considered when the country is strong and stands firmly on its own feet. Russia has generally enjoyed the privilege of conducting an independent foreign policy and this is what it will continue to do. In addition, I am convinced that global security can only be achieved through cooperation with Russia rather than by attempts to push it into the background, weaken its geopolitical position or compromise its defenses.

A constant theme in Russian history is the fear of isolation and encirclement by its enemies. This has been true since the time of the Mongol invasion of the 13th century, a catastrophic event that saw the early state of Rus lose most of its territory to the Mongols and to the Polish/Lithuanian kingdom. Subsequently, what was left of Russia had to pay tribute in slaves and treasure to the Tatars, the Muslim successors to the Mongols and fight off attempted invasions by the Swedes and the Teutonic Knights. The Russians were unable to evict the Mongols from their territory until the 15th century, and Russia's historic payment of tribute and later conflict with Muslim states is something that should be kept in mind.

Russia's northern latitude and climate has also been a source of isolation, withmany of Russia's early ports freezing over for part of the year.

As before, I believe that the major principles necessary for any feasible civilization include inalienable right to security for all states, the inadmissability of the excessive use of force, and the unconditional observance of the basic principles of international law. To neglect any of these principles can only lead to the destabilization of international relations.

It is through this prism that we perceive some aspects of U.S. and NATO conduct that contradict the logic of modern development, relying instead on the stereotypes of a bloc-based mentality. Everyone understands what I am referring to - an expansion of NATO that includes the deployment of new military infrastructure with U.S.-drafted plans to establish a missile defense system in Europe. I would not touch on this issue if these plans were not conducted in close proximity to Russian borders, if they did not undermine our security and global stability in general.

Our arguments are well known, and I will not spell them out again. Regrettably, our Western partners are unresponsive and have simply brushed our concerns aside.

We are worried that although the outline of our "new" relations with NATO are not yet final, the alliance is already providing us with "facts on the ground" that are counterproductive to building mutual trust. At the same time, this approach will backfire with respect to global objectives, making it more difficult to cooperate on a positive agenda and will impede any constructive realignment in international relations.

The recent series of armed conflicts started under the pretext of humanitarian aims is undermining the time-honored principle of state sovereignty, creating a moral and legal void in the practice of international relations.

It is often said that human rights override state sovereignty. This is undoubtedly true - crimes against humanity must be punished by the International Court. However, when state sovereignty is too easily violated in the name of this provision, when human rights are protected from abroad and on a selective basis, and when the same rights of a population are trampled underfoot in the process of such "protection," including the most basic and sacred right - the right to one's life - these actions cannot be considered a noble mission but rather outright demagogy.

It is important for the United Nations and its Security Council to effectively counter the dictates of some countries and their arbitrary actions in the world arena. Nobody has the right to usurp the prerogatives and powers of the UN, particularly the use of force with regard to sovereign nations. This concerns NATO, an organization that has been assuming an attitude that is inconsistent with a "defensive alliance." These points are very serious. We recall how states that have fallen victim to "humanitarian" operations and the export of "missile-and-bomb democracy" appealed for respect for legal standards and common human decency. But their cries were in vain - their appeals went unheard.

It seems that NATO members, especially the United States, have developed a peculiar interpretation of security that is different from ours. The Americans have become obsessed with the idea of becoming absolutely invulnerable. This utopian concept is unfeasible both technologically and geopolitically, but it is the root of the problem.

By definition, absolute invulnerability for one country would in theory require absolute vulnerability for all others. This is something that cannot be accepted. Many countries prefer not to be straight about this for various reasons, but that's another matter. Russia will always call things as it sees them and do so openly. I'd like to emphasize again that violating the principle of unity and the inalienable right to security - despite numerous declarations committing to it - poses a serious threat. Eventually these threats become reality for those states that initiate such violations, for many reasons.

During the 15th, 16th and 17th centuries, Russia's biggest rivals were various combinations of three powers - Lithuania, Poland, and the Ukraine. Part of the animus was religious, since all three countries were strongly Catholic while Russia was Eastern Orthodox, a result of Russia's early exposure to Byzantine culture. In 1610, the Poles actually entered Moscow and sacked it, and it was three years before the Russians were able to expel them.

Ever since,Russia has regarded countries like Poland, the Baltic States, Romania and the Ukraine the way China sees its own 'near abroad' of Southeast Asia, Mongolia and areas it needed to keep under control to prevent being invaded by its enemies. Russia has been invaded twice in relatively modern times - in 1812 by Napoleon and in 1941 by Hitler - with devastating results. They've always sought to have direct or at least a degree of political control over these countries, something the break up of the Soviet Union deprived them of.

A degree of paranoia has always been part of the Russian psyche, and seeing Poland, all three Baltic States, Bulgaria and Romania all as NATO members, not to mention Muslim Turkey whom they've fought wars with in the past feeds it, as well as NATO feelers towards the Ukraine and Georgia. Rightly or wrongly, they see this as encirclement.

Two other recent events Putin almost certainly has in mind involve the bombing of Russia's traditional ally Serbia and the UN's unilateral declaration of Kossovo as a state in defiance of all previous international law precedents, and the UN involvement in Libya.

This feeling on Russia's part explains a great deal about why they seem to be 'stirring the pot' with Muslim nations like Iran on their borders who likewise feel enmity to the U.S. - that and Russia's demographics, where the Russian birthrate is decreasing except among Russia's Muslims. Putin continues in this vein:

A year ago the world witnessed a new phenomenon - nearly simultaneous demonstrations against authoritarian regimes in many Arab countries. The Arab Spring was initially received with hope for positive change. People in Russia sympathized with those who were seeking democratic reform. However, it soon became clear that events in many countries were not following a civilized scenario. Instead of asserting democracy and protecting the rights of the minority, attempts were being made to depose an enemy and to stage a coup, which only resulted in the replacement of one dominant force with another even more aggressive dominant force.

Foreign interference in support of one side of a domestic conflict and the use of power in this interference gave developments a negative aura. A number of countries did away with the Libyan regime by using air power in the name of humanitarian support. The revolting slaughter of Muammar Gaddafi - not just medieval but primeval - was the manifestation of these actions.

No one should be allowed to employ the Libyan scenario in Syria. The international community must work to achieve an internal Syrian reconciliation. It is important to achieve an early end to the violence no matter what the source, and to initiate a national dialogue - without preconditions or foreign interference and with due respect for the country's sovereignty. This would create the conditions necessary to introduce the measures for democratization announced by the Syrian leadership. The key objective is to prevent an all-out civil war. Russian diplomacy has worked and will continue to work toward this end.

Putin is being fairly disingenuous in the last paragraph.Russia's interest coincides with Iran's to preserve the status quo. But he correctly points out the hypocrisy of the UN's 'responsibility to protect' doctrine being used to protect European oil interests under the guise of 'human rights'.

In this context and considering the extremely negative, almost hysterical reaction to the Russian-Chinese veto, I would like to warn our Western colleagues against the temptation to resort to this simple, previously used tactic: if the UN Security Council approves of a given action, fine; if not, we will establish a coalition of the states concerned and strike anyway.

The logic of such conduct is counterproductive and very dangerous. No good can come of it. In any case, it will not help reach a settlement in a country that is going through a domestic conflict. Even worse, it further undermines the entire system of international security as well as the authority and key role of the UN. Let me recall that the right to veto is not some whim but an inalienable part of the world's agreement that is registered in the UN Charter - incidentally, on U.S. insistence. The implication of this right is that decisions that raise the objection of even one permanent member of the UN Security Council cannot be well-grounded or effective. {...}

And one more point. It appears that with the Arab Spring countries, as with Iraq, Russian companies are losing their decades-long positions in local commercial markets and are being deprived of large commercial contracts. The niches thus vacated are being filled by the economic operatives of the states that had a hand in the change of the ruling regime.

One could reasonably conclude that tragic events have been encouraged to a certain extent by someone's interest in a re-division of the commercial market rather than a concern for human rights. Be that as it may, we cannot sit back watch all this with Olympian serenity. We intend to work with the new governments of the Arab countries in order to promptly restore our economic positions.

Putin is honest enough to state the obvious, that the Libyan intervention occurred because European countries abrogated their oil contracts with Khaddaffi and signed new ones with the rebels when they thought the rebels were winning, and then had to intervene militarily to save the new deals once Khaddaffi recovered and drove the rebels back to Benghazi.

He also is honest enough to bring up the fact that Russia's interest in the region is commercial, and that he has no intention of allowing those interests to be sidelined.He insists on Russia having a slice of the pie.

Russia has always had good relations with the moderate representatives of Islam, whose world outlook was close to the traditions of Muslims in Russia. We are ready to develop these contacts further under the current conditions. We are interested in stepping up our political, trade and economic ties with all Arab countries, including those that, let me repeat, have gone through domestic upheaval. Moreover, I see real possibilities that will enable Russia to fully preserve its leading position in the Middle East, where we have always had many friends.

As for the Arab-Israeli conflict, to this day, the "magic recipe" that will produce a final settlement has not been invented. It would be unacceptable to give up on this issue. Considering our close ties with the Israeli and Palestinian leaders, Russian diplomacy will continue to work for the resumption of the peace process both on a bilateral basis and within the format of the Quartet on the Middle East, while coordinating its steps with the Arab League.

I think the Chechens would disagree with the part about good relations, but there's no doubt that Russia sees itself as outside looking in when it comes to the Sunni autocracies. In view of the current fecklessness of the current American administration, this is his way of serving notice that he and Russia are more than prepared and willing to take over America's role in the region.

The notion of "soft power" is being used increasingly often. This implies a matrix of tools and methods to reach foreign policy goals without the use of arms but by exerting information and other levers of influence. Regrettably, these methods are being used all too frequently to develop and provoke extremist, separatist and nationalistic attitudes, to manipulate the public and to conduct direct interference in the domestic policy of sovereign countries.

There must be a clear division between freedom of speech and normal political activity, on the one hand, and illegal instruments of "soft power," on the other. The civilized work of non-governmental humanitarian and charity organizations deserves every support. This also applies to those who actively criticize the current authorities. However, the activities of "pseudo-NGOs" and other agencies that try to destabilize other countries with outside support are unacceptable.

I'm referring to those cases where the activities of NGOs are not based on the interests (and resources) of local social groups but are funded and supported by outside forces. There are many agents of influence from big countries, international blocks or corporations. When they act in the open - this is simply a form of civilized lobbyism. Russia also uses such institutions - the Federal Agency for CIS Affairs, Compatriots Living Abroad, International Humanitarian Cooperation, the Russkiy Mir Foundation and our leading universities who recruit talented students from abroad.

However, Russia does not use or fund national NGOs based in other countries or any foreign political organizations in the pursuit of its own interests. China, India and Brazil do not do this either. We believe that any influence on domestic policy and public attitude in other countries must be exerted in the open; in this way, those who wish to be of influence will do so responsibly.

This is Putin reaching out to Egypt and other countries who feel threatened by foreign funded NGOs they feel are fomenting dissension and political unrest. That list,by the way,includes Israel.It's also worth noticing whom he pairs Russia with in the top of that last paragraph.

Today, Iran is the focus of international attention. Needless to say, Russia is worried about the growing threat of a military strike against Iran. If this happens, the consequences will be disastrous. It is impossible to imagine the true scope of this turn of events.

I am convinced that this issue must be settled exclusively by peaceful means. We propose recognizing Iran's right to develop a civilian nuclear program, including the right to enrich uranium. But this must be done in exchange for putting all Iranian nuclear activity under reliable and comprehensive IAEA safeguards. If this is done, the sanctions against Iran, including the unilateral ones, must be rescinded. The West has shown too much willingness to "punish" certain countries. At any minor development it reaches for sanctions if not armed force. Let me remind you that we are not in the 19th century or even the 20th century now.

Developments around the Korean nuclear issue are no less serious. Violating the non-proliferation regime, Pyongyang openly claims the right to develop "the military atom" and has already conducted two nuclear tests. We cannot accept North Korea's nuclear status. We have consistently advocated the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula - exclusively through political and diplomatic means -- and the early resumption of Six-Party Talks.

However, it is evident that not all of our partners share this approach. I am convinced that today it is essential to be particularly careful. It would be inadvisable to try and test the strength of the new North Korean leader and provoke a rash countermeasure.

Allow me to recall that North Korea and Russia share a common border and we cannot choose our neighbors. We will continue conducting an active dialogue with the leaders of North Korea and developing good-neighborly relations with it, while at the same time trying to encourage Pyongyang to settle the nuclear issue. Obviously, it would be easier to do this if mutual trust is built up and the inter-Korean dialogue resumes on the peninsula.

All this fervor around the nuclear programs of Iran and North Korea makes one wonder how the risks of nuclear weapons proliferation emerge and who is aggravating them. It seems that the more frequent cases of crude and even armed outside interference in the domestic affairs of countries may prompt authoritarian (and other) regimes to possess nuclear weapons. If I have the A-bomb in my pocket, nobody will touch me because it's more trouble than it is worth. And those who don't have the bomb might have to sit and wait for "humanitarian intervention." {...}

The probable future of Afghanistan is alarming. We have supported the military operation on rendering international aid to that country. However, the NATO-led international military contingent has not met its objectives. The threats of terrorism and drug trafficking have not been reduced. Having announced its withdrawal from Afghanistan in 2014, the United States has been building, both there and in neighboring countries, military bases without a clear-cut mandate, objectives or duration of operation. Understandably, this does not suit us.

Russia has obvious interests in Afghanistan and these interests are understandable. Afghanistan is our close neighbor and we have a stake in its stable and peaceful development. Most important, we want it to stop being the main source of the drug threat. Illegal drug trafficking has become one of the most urgent threats. It undermines the genetic bank of entire nations, while creating fertile soil for corruption and crime and is leading to the destabilization of Afghanistan. Far from declining, the production of Afghan drugs increased by almost 40% last year. Russia is being subjected to vicious heroin-related aggression that is doing tremendous damage to the health of our people.

The dimensions of the Afghan drug threat make it clear that it can only be overcome by a global effort with reliance on the United Nations and regional organizations - the Collective Security Treaty Organization, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization and the CIS. We are willing to consider much greater participation in the relief operation for the Afghan people but only on the condition that the international contingent in Afghanistan acts with greater zeal and in our interests, that it will pursue the physical destruction of drug crops and underground laboratories.

Invigorated anti-drug measures inside Afghanistan must be accompanied by the reliable blocking of the routes of opiate transportation to external markets, financial flows and the supply of chemical substances used in heroin production. The goal is to build a comprehensive system of anti-drug security in the region. Russia will contribute to the effective cooperation of the international community for turning the tide in the war against the global drug threat.

It is hard to predict further developments in Afghanistan. Historical experience shows that foreign military presence has not brought it serenity. Only the Afghans can resolve their own problems. I see Russia's role as follows - to help the Afghan people, with the active involvement of other neighboring countries, to develop a sustainable economy and enhance the ability of the national armed forces to counter the threats of terrorism and drug-related crime. We do not object to the process of national reconciliation being joined by participants of the armed opposition, including the Taliban, on condition they renounce violence, recognize the country's Constitution and sever ties with al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups. In principle, I believe it is possible to build a peaceful, stable, independent and neutral Afghan state.

The instability that has persisted for years and decades is creating a breeding ground for international terrorism that is universally recognized as one of the most dangerous challenges to the world community. I'd like to note that the crises zones that engender a terrorist threat are located near the Russian borders and are much close to us than to our European or American partners. The United Nations has adopted the Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy but it seems that the struggle against this evil is conducted not under a common universal plan and not consistently but in a series of responses to the most urgent and barbarian manifestations of terror - when the public uproar over the impudent acts of terrorists grows out of proportion. The civilized world must not wait for tragedies like the terrorist attacks in New York in September 2001 or another Beslan disaster and only then act collectively and resolutely after the shock of such cases.

I'm far from denying the results achieved in the war on international terror. There has been progress. In the last few years security services and the law-enforcement agencies of many countries have markedly upgraded their cooperation. But there is still the obvious potential for further anti-terrorist cooperation. Thus, double standards still exist and terrorists are perceived differently in different countries - some are "bad guys" and others are "not so bad." Some forces are not averse to using the latter in political manipulation, for example, in shaking up objectionable ruling regimes.

All available public institutions - the media, religious associations, NGOs, the education system, science and business - must be used to prevent terrorism all over the world. We need a dialogue between religions and, on a broader plane, among civilizations. Russia has many religions, but we have never had religious wars. We could make a contribution to an international discussion on this issue.

Putin is exercising a little selective outrage here. Russia has certainly seen fit to punish certain countries on occasion, notably Western Europe and the Ukraine when it comes to using Russia's control of energy pipelines to blackmail them, among other things. And that's just the most recent history. Also, the IAEA is frankly not to be trusted when it comes to Iran's nukes - it ignored them for years back when El-Baradi was running it. Putin here is mainly concerned with preserving a good, paying customer. But Putin's totally correct about the intervention in Libya sending a message that illegal nuclear proliferation pays off if you're an authoritarian regime that wants to stay in power. The lesson of what happened to Khaddaffi was not lost on a number of the world's bad actors, including Iran.

In the next two sections, Putin talks about expanding its relationships with the BRIC bloc (Brazil, Russia, China and India) via the Shanghai Cooperative Organization (SCO), of which Iran is a observer member as is India. You may remember reading about this important but little known organization on these pages before.

Putin actually alludes to its energy stranglehold over Europe as a means of encouraging more economic activity and trade with Russia, although of course he doesn't use those terms to describe it. The idea, of course, is to put together a bloc to oppose what Putin and many Russians see as American hegemony and encirclement. Let's jump to what he says about Russia and America's relationship:

In recent years a good deal has been done to develop Russian-American relations. Even so, we have not managed to fundamentally change the matrix of our relations, which continue to ebb and flow. The instability of the partnership with America is due in part to the tenacity of some well-known stereotypes and phobias, particularly the perception of Russia on Capitol Hill. But the main problem is that bilateral political dialogue and cooperation do not rest on a solid economic foundation. The current level of bilateral trade falls far short of the potential of our economies. The same is true of mutual investments. We have yet to create a safety net that would protect our relations against ups and downs. We should work on this.

Nor is mutual understanding strengthened by regular U.S. attempts to engage in "political engineering," including in regions that are traditionally important to us and during Russian elections.

As I've said before, U.S. plans to create a missile defense system in Europe give rise to legitimate fears in Russia. Why does that system worry us more than others? Because it affects the strategic nuclear deterrence forces that only Russia possesses in that theatre, and upsets the military-political balance established over decades.

The inseparable link between missile defense and strategic offensive weapons is reflected in the New START treaty signed in 2010. The treaty has come into effect and is working fairly well. It is a major foreign policy achievement. We are ready to consider various options for our joint agenda with the Americans in the field of arms control in the coming period. In this effort we must seek to balance our interests and renounce any attempts to gain one-sided advantages through negotiations.

In 2007, during a meeting with President Bush in Kennebunkport, I proposed a solution to the missile defense problem, which, if adopted, would have changed the customary character of Russian-American relations and opened up a positive path forward. Moreover, if we had managed to achieve a breakthrough on missile defense, this would have opened the floodgates for building a qualitatively new model of cooperation, similar to an alliance, in many other sensitive areas.

It was not to be. Perhaps it would be useful to look back at the transcripts of the talks in Kennebunkport. In recent years the Russian leadership has come forward with other proposals to resolve the dispute over missile defense. These proposals still stand.

I am loath to dismiss the possibility of reaching a compromise on missile defense. One would not like to see the deployment of the American system on a scale that would demand the implementation of our declared countermeasures.

You can see that Putin is fairly adamant about the idea of missile defense not being introduced into Europe by America. And with the implementation of that ridiculous START treaty President Obama is so proud of.

Most of the Russian nuclear arsenal is outmoded, and the START treaty involved the Russians trading the phasing out of those old, outmoded nukes from the Cold War era on a parity basis for America dismantling state-of-the-art nuclear weaponry and missile defense. I wrote at the time that President Obama gave up everything but the beer concession at Redskins games. As Russian Foreign Minister Serge Lavrov said, "This treaty takes our relations with the United States to a qualitatively new level of equality, parity and balance of interests."

Part of the entire deal was a 'reset' of US-Russia relations and a quid pro quo of help on Iran - which of course never happened. But Putin no doubt felt obligated to put the best spin on this....especially the part about commercial relations, which Russia desperately needs. Besides, if President Obama happens to get re-elected again, Putin presenting himself as willing to make more one sided deals 'for just a few more concessions' can hardly hurt.

This article will tell you a great deal about where Putin and the Russians stand and what motivates them. I urge you to read it for yourself.

How To Beat Price Hikes On Gasoline

Now that's an optimist!

From Ya'akov at Dry Bones of course.

Watcher's Council Nominations - Special Apology Edition

Welcome to the Watcher's Council, a blogging group consisting of some of the most incisive blogs in the 'sphere, and the longest running group of its kind in existence. Every week, the members nominate two posts each, one written by themselves and one written by someone from outside the group for consideration by the whole Council.Then we vote on the best two posts, with the results appearing on Friday.

Council News:

This week, Liberty's Spirit, The Grouch, Crazy Bald Guy, Right Truth, Ask Marion and Capitalist Preservation took advantage of my generous offer of link whorage and earned honorable mention status.

You can, too! Want to see your work appear on the Watcher’s Council homepage in our weekly contest listing? Didn’t get nominated by a Council member? No worries.

Simply head over to Joshuapundit and post the title a link to the piece you want considered along with an e-mail address ( which won't be published) in the comments section no later than Monday 6PM PST in order to be considered for our honorable mention category, and return the favor by creating a post on your site linking to the Watcher’s Council contest for the week.

It's a great way of exposing your best work to Watcher’s Council readers and Council members. while grabbing the increased traffic and notoriety. And how good is that, eh?

So, let's see what we have this week....

Council Submissions

Honorable Mentions

Non-Council Submissions

Enjoy! And don't forget to follow us on Facebook and Twitter..'cause we're cool like that!

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Michigan Primary: Santorum A Willing Tool For Daily Kos And Soros Media In RoboCalls

A few weeks ago, the far Left site Daily Kos suggested that 'progressives' vote en masse for Rick Santorum in the open Michigan GOP primary , someone they clearly see as the weaker and more easily beatable candidate. Talking Points Memo and the rest of the Soros media slaves soon picked up on the idea, and they found a willing tool in Santorum himself.

Santorum blanketed Michigan with robocalls criticizing Mitt Romney for opposing the GM and Chrysler bailouts:

“On Tuesday, join Democrats who are going to send a loud message to Massachusetts Mitt Romney.” says the Santorum robo call to Michigan Democrats.

“Romney supported the bailout for his billionaire buddies but opposed the auto bailout. That was a slap in the face to every Michigan worker,” the robo call adds. It ends with the line: “Paid for by Rick Santorum.”

Of course,the call doesn't mention that Rick Santorum also opposed the auto bailout.

It's interesting that just a few weeks ago in Minnesota, Rick Santorum was strongly against open primaries like Michigan's, saying: "We want the activists of the party, the people who make up the backbone of the Republican Party to have a say in who our nominee is as opposed to a bunch of people who don't even identify themselves as Republicans picking our nominee. I don't like that. I believe that states should only allow Republicans to vote in Republican primaries."

Ah well. Like Boss Tweed, he seen his opportunities and he took 'em.

The way things appear to be playing out now, Mitt Romney is projected to have achieved a narrow win in Michigan, 41.3% against 38.7% for Rick Santorum. Arizona is still voting, but expected to be a decisive win for Romney.

Michigan awards it delegates proportionally on a congressional district basis, while Arizona is winner take all. So all Rick Santorum appears to have done is shown that he's more than willing to embrace some fairly sleazy behavior while actually achieving very little. And of course, keeping this going for himself a bit longer.

For interested parties, Newt Gingrich ended up finishing dead last,with projected tally of about 6.5% of the vote while Ron Paul ended up with 11.2% as of this writing.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Obama Pushing To Cut Healthcare Benefits For Active And Retired Military

In spite of the cute toys marketed in conjunction with President Obama's boasting about 'getting bin-Laden', it's been obvious for some time that this president and many others around him neither understand nor appreciate our military, except when it's useful politically.

You might remember the use of dead military bodies being flown as a political photo-op in defiance of Department of Defense regulations,(not to mention common decency) Senior Obama adviser Valerie Jarrett famously ordering a decorated military officer to bring her a fresh drink at a White House soiree and the ongoing efforts by Attorney General Eric Holder and the Obama Department of Justice to deliberately disenfranchise military votes during the 2010 midterms in a clear violation of the MOVE Act passed by Congress....and there are many more examples I could site.

The latest attack on our military by President Obama is an attempt to slash their health benefits.

The president tried this once before, in a scheme that would have seen wounded combat veterans cut off from VA benefits and being forced to take out their own private insurance to get treatment, but the outcry from groups like the Veterans of Foreign Wars and the American Legion and polling data that showed that Americans overwhelmingly disapproved made him back off.

Now, he's brought it back again in his new defense budget, which calls for slashing benefits from VA. specifically from a program many vets depend on called TriCare.

This is part of the massive cuts in defense the Obama Administration is demanding . Under the Obama plan, the main targets would be under-65 and Medicare-eligible military retirees through a tiered increase in annual Tricare premiums that will be based on yearly retirement pay:

Significantly, the plan calls for increases between 30 percent to 78 percent in Tricare annual premiums for the first year. After that, the plan will impose five-year increases ranging from 94 percent to 345 percent—more than 3 times current levels.

According to congressional assessments, a retired Army colonel with a family currently paying $460 a year for health care will pay $2,048.

The new plan hits active duty personnel by increasing co-payments for pharmaceuticals and eliminating incentives for using generic drugs.

The changes are worrying some in the Pentagon who fear it will severely impact efforts to recruit and maintain a high-quality all-volunteer military force. Such benefits have been a key tool for recruiting qualified people and keeping them in uniform.

“Would you stay with a car insurance company that raised your premiums by 345 percent in five years? Probably not,” said the congressional aide. “Would anybody accept their taxes being raised 345 percent in five years? Probably not.”

A second congressional aide said the administration’s approach to the cuts shows a double standard that hurts the military.

“We all recognize that we are in a time of austerity,” this aide said. “But defense has made up to this point 50 percent of deficit reduction cuts that we agreed to, but is only 20 percent of the budget.”

The administration is asking troops to get by without the equipment and force levels needed for global missions. “And now they are going to them again and asking them to pay more for their health care when you’ve held the civilian workforce at DoD and across the federal government virtually harmless in all of these cuts. And it just doesn’t seem fair,” the second aide said.{...}

Additionally, the critics said leaving civilian workers’ benefits unchanged while hitting the military reflect the administration’s effort to court labor unions, as government unions are the only segment of organized labor that has increased in recent years.

As part of the increased healthcare costs, the Pentagon also will impose an annual fee for a program called Tricare for Life, a new program that all military retirees automatically must join at age 65. Currently, to enroll in Tricare for Life, retirees pay the equivalent of a monthly Medicare premium.

Under the proposed Pentagon plan, retirees will be hit with an additional annual enrollment fee on top of the monthly premium.

Union votes that vote Democrat as opposed to military who predominantly vote Republican? When it comes to this president deciding whose benefits to slash, it's no contest.

It will be interesting to see how Congress deals with this.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Just One More Question, Mr. President..

Cheerfully swiped from the one and only Hugh Hewitt.

And placed on a number of gas pumps in my little corner of the world...where prices are climbing towards $4.50 per gallon including Big Government's 17-22% profit for just being there (AKA Federal, State and local taxes).

L.A's Mayor, Police Chief and County Sherrif Want Driver's Licenses For Illegal Aliens

Los Angeles Mayor and ex-MeCha member Antonio Villaraigosa,Police Chief Charlie Beck and County Sheriff Lee Baca have all come out recently with strong statements endorsing California Driver's licenses for illegal aliens.The statements were designed to coincide with California Assemblyman Gil Cedillo's latest attempt to get a bill passed in the state legislature and signed by Governor Brown. He has a fair chance of succeeding, because the legislature is Democrat controlled and Governor Brown is a long time open borders advocate who has already instituted a state mandated Dream Act to provide in state tuition for illegal aliens.

The arguments in favor of driver's licenses for illegal aliens are transparently phony and designed to camouflage the real purposes behind this.

The biggest argument advanced by politicians in favor of this is public safety.Chief Beck said he expected the number of hit-and-run accidents would decrease if illegal immigrants were licensed, because they would not have to fear being caught without a license at accidents. Sheriff Baca agreed with him, and doubled down saying said he believes the larger issue is finding a way to regulate and legalize more immigrant labor.

Beck also made the point that denying illegal aliens driver's licenses hasn't stopped them from coming here, and that giving them driver's licenses will mean they'll be obligated to carry insurance and valid identification, and register their vehicles in the name of the actual owner.

As someone whose been driving in California for a number of years,including the period before 1993 when the state made issuing or renewing licenses to people without proper documentation illegal, I can tell you that this is absolute bolshoi.

The majority of illegal aliens in California aren't going to insure their cars whether they have licenses or not because they tend to buy cheaper used cars it doesn't pay for them to insure. Nor is their immigration status any incentive one way or the other for them to stick around or leave the scene of an accident because Los Angeles is a sanctuary city where the police are forbidden to ask about anyone's immigration status. Both Beck and Baca have been zealous enforcers of Special Order 40, the police directive that mandates this, so, not to put to fine a point on it, they're simply lying.

If there's an accident that incurs significant civil or even criminal penalties and an illegal alien is involved, many times they simply disappear, either back over our porous border or to another locality, frequently with a new matriculo consular card that enables them to get a brand new ID and start over. I speak from personal experience.

In fact, the entire public safety argument crashes and burns when you consider that this is a state giving early release to criminals to help cure its budget woes while putting a de facto ban on Concealed Carry (CCW) permits for ordinary citizens no matter how law abiding.

Another point that the Mayor, Chief Beck and Sheriff Baca raise is that with valid driver's licenses, now at least these illegal aliens will have a valid ID. They've even talked about imprinting it with an 'I' for immigrant, or making it a different color to clearly differentiate to police officers that this person's status is not that of a citizen or legal resident.

What they aren't discussing is what documentation so going to be used to establish that 'valid ID'. The State of California, along with banks, insurance companies and a number of other entities have already agreed to accept matriculo consular cards issued by the numerous Mexican consulates here as valid ID. Obtaining these cards is ridiculously easy, not to mention the fact that counterfeiting them is not at all difficult, and in fact there's a nice little industry in immigrant neighborhoods like MacArthur Park where $20 or less will get you one in any name you like.That's assuming you can't find a Mexican consular official who isn't willing to set you up with a perfectly legitimate one for a small, under the table gratuity.

As for imprinting the license or changing it in any way from the standard California issue, our public officials are again throwing that out just to massage the public. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger considered doing this in 2003 shortly after he took over and vetoed recalled Democrat Governor Gray Davis' bill to allow illegal aliens to get driver's licenses.

He refused to do so after the illegal alien lobby, including the aforementioned Assemblyman Cedillo absolutely refused to consider it, with some of them comparing it to the Nazis forcing Jews to wear yellow stars on their clothing.Rest assured they will insist on that again, this time with a Democrat Governor who sees things their way.

Beck's argument that California should stop denying illegal aliens driver's licenses because that hasn't stopped them from coming here is particularly interesting coming from a professional law enforcement officer.

Let's take Chief Beck's argument to its logical destination: why not decriminalize burglary? After all, criminalizing it hasn't stopped it from happening, has it? And isn't the ease in obtaining a new, valid ID under whatever name going to attract people to California who might be a lot more of a threat to public safety than the guy from Guadalajara working at the car wash?

So....if this isn't about public safety or valid ID's, what's it about and why are Southern California's top law enforcement officials pushing it?

It's actually pretty simple. Chief Beck serves at the pleasure of the Mayor and the Democrat dominated Los Angeles City Council, and Sheriff Baca is up for election in 2013.

And one thing Baca, Beck, Mayor Villaraigosa and the other Democrats supporting this move know is that thanks to President Clinton's 1993 Motor Voter law, anyone getting a driver's license or registering a vehicle automatically receives paperwork and assistance in registering to vote.

Now here's a nifty idea! California has no requirement to show a picture ID to vote, so you can vote these folks once here and then truck large numbers of them elsewhere to vote again...say, someplace like Wisconsin or Minnesota, where they have same day registration.And of course, with a valid ID that has to accepted in all the 50 states because of reciprocation laws.

What will likely happen here is the same thing that happened with California's same sex marriage initiative, proposition 8. The legislature will pass this and the governor will sign it into law. Thousands of illegal aliens will swamp California's DMV offices to get their new ID's and register to vote. The people of California will gather enough signatures to put an initiative on the ballot to rescind the law, it will pass and MALDEF,MeCHa and other groups will challenge it in court, where the State of California will once again abrogate its constitutional duty by not defending the new law in court. A Leftist judge will rule it unconstitutional, and it will end up going to the 9th circuit, and eventually to the Supreme Court.

Germany Sunsets Solar Power - After Losing Over $130 billion

Germany, being the staunch advocate of climate change and global warming it is like much of the EU prided itself on being the "world champion” of solar power. They doled out billions of marks on subsidies for consumers and businesses to go solar to reduce Germany's carbon footprint in response to the 'settled science' propaganda pushed by the global warming cult.

Germans used that money to install a solar capacity of 7.5 gigawatts last year. And warum nicht, if Big Government was paying for it and Al Gore and the UN said it was just what they should be doing?

Actually, Big Government wasn't paying for all of it, as it turns out. Solar power users were allowed to receive a guaranteed above-market price for the electricity they sold back to energy grid which was financed by - surprise!- a tax on every household's electricity bill. That alone amounted last year to a subsidy of some €6 billion ($7.9 billion), which is estimated to add at least an average of $260 to German consumer's annual energy costs.

The German government, after going over the figures, has decided to pull the plug on solar subsidies. They will cut them at least 30% this year and phase them out entirely within five years. Given how much it has cost the German government, I wouldn't be surprised to see them gone entirely before the end of 2013, and that's only because of the unemployment entailed as German companies who went into solar technology to take advantage of the government-funded 'sunshine rush' lay off workers or go bust.

This particular green energy scam hit Germans in the pocketbook in various ways.

One of the chief problems with solar for a high wage country like Germany is the cost of manufacturing solar panels and installing them. This was something Big Government was subsidizing in the name of green jobs. Unfortunately, the solar panels can be manufactured far cheaper in China, so every one of those 'green jobs' ended up costing German taxpayers an average of $175,000. And as we've seen elsewhere, China is not exactly overly concerned about things like pollution, 'carbon footprints' or 'global warming'. Think of it as another huge Solyndra.

Germany's climate, like most of Northern Europe's is not exactly the sunniest in the world. That's particularly true in the winter, when energy use peaks because of heating costs. When the winter days are short and the weather is overcast, Germany's solar power investment generates hardly anything - which means the Germans have to import traditional energy from power plants, some of them coal powered, in places like France, Poland and the Czech Republic. Not only that, but because the EU instituted the cap n' trade nonsense President Obama tried to have his EPA impose here, what the whole program has amounted to is a transfer of wealth to poorer EU countries:

Indeed, despite the massive investment, solar power accounts for only about 0.3 percent of Germany’s total energy. This is one of the key reasons why Germans now pay the second-highest price for electricity in the developed world (exceeded only by Denmark, which aims to be the “world wind-energy champion”). Germans pay three times more than their American counterparts.

Moreover, this sizeable investment does remarkably little to counter global warming. Even with unrealistically generous assumptions, the unimpressive net effect is that solar power reduces Germany’s CO2 emissions by roughly 8 million metric tons—or about 1 percent – for the next 20 years. To put it another way: By the end of the century, Germany’s $130 billion solar panel subsidies will have postponed temperature increases by 23 hours.

Using solar, Germany is paying about $1,000 per ton of CO2 reduced. The current CO2 price in Europe is $8. Germany could have cut 131 times as much CO2 for the same price. Instead, the Germans are wasting more than 99 cents of every euro that they plow into solar panels.

It gets worse: Because Germany is part of the European Union Emissions Trading System, the actual effect of extra solar panels in Germany leads to no CO2 reductions, because total emissions are already capped. Instead, the Germans simply allow other parts of the EU to emit more CO2. Germany’s solar panels have only made it cheaper for Portugal or Greece to use coal.

Solar energy can be a good idea in places that it was better designed to work, especially with active systems that capture the excess energy for use when the sun doesn't shine. Israel in particular has made massive strides in both the technology used to capture the energy and in manufacturing the panels more efficiently. There are even solar generators that can be used as an emergency backup in case of power failures. But having government subsidize it in the name of Holy Gaia and climate change has turned out to be a spectacularly bad idea in Germany and everywhere else it's been tried.

Remember this cautionary tale when you hear President Obama mouthing off about energy in his quest for re-election. There's no doubt if he gets back in, we'll seen even more of our wealth squandered on green energy scams like Solyndra run by his donors and cronies.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Obama's Energy Speech - Lie After Lie After Lie

Someone obviously whispered in our Dear Leader's ear that gas prices have skyrocketed, and it wasn't polling well. So he decided to address the peons in front of a friendly crowd at th eUniversity of Miami, Florida, telling them in effect 'hey, it's not my fault, it's the greedy oil companies so stop whining and go buy a Volt or something.'

The speech was so ruthlessly cynical and lacking in truth that it would take more space than it's worth to fully debunk it, but there are several points worth underlining:

Now, some politicians they see this as a political opportunity. I know you’re shocked by that. (Laughter.) Last week, the lead story in one newspaper said, “Gasoline prices are on the rise and Republicans are licking their chops.” That’s a quote. That was the lead. "Licking their chops." Only in politics do people root for bad news, do they greet bad news so enthusiastically. You pay more; they’re licking their chops. You can bet that since it’s an election year, they’re already dusting off their 3-point plan for $2 gas. And I’ll save you the suspense. Step one is to drill and step two is to drill. And then step three is to keep drilling.

You know there are no quick fixes to this problem. You know we can’t just drill our way to lower gas prices.

That seems to be a key phrase for this president 'we can't drill our way to lower gas prices.'

An honest response would be, 'how the hell would you know, sir'?

One of the first things President Obama did when he became president was to cancel leases for oil and gas drilling in Utah, and he followed up with cancellation in in Virginia, in the Gulf and suspended them in Colorado and Montana. In 2010, he doubled down with new, stringent regulations to make future leasing on federal land for energy exploration and drilling far more difficult.

He issued not one but two executive orders halting drilling in the Gulf of Mexico, one of which defied a court order. And his administration has been refusing to issue any new permits ever since. The Department of Energy's own figures says that Gulf oil output will be down 17% by the end of 2013, compared with the start of 2011.

This president is also blocking access to an estimated 19 billion barrels of oil on the Pacific and Atlantic coasts and the eastern Gulf of Mexico, another 10 billion barrels estimated in the Chukchi Sea off the Alaskan coast, and another 10 billion barrels of oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Reserve. This is th esame president who later on inhis speech said 'we're focused on production'!

The amount of oil that we drill at home doesn’t set the price of gas by itself. The oil market is global; oil is bought and sold in a world market. And just like last year, the single biggest thing that’s causing the price of oil to spike right now is instability in the Middle East -– this time around Iran. When uncertainty increases, speculative trading on Wall Street increases, and that drives prices up even more.

If we’re going to take control of our energy future and can start avoiding these annual gas price spikes that happen every year — when the economy starts getting better, world demand starts increasing, turmoil in the Middle East or some other parts of the world — if we’re going to avoid being at the mercy of these world events, we’ve got to have a sustained, all-of-the-above strategy that develops every available source of American energy.

The president blamed high prices several times on turmoil in the Middle East rather than his own mismanagement and incompetence. And mentioned global demand as a factor,particularly in China.

Just a little while ago, there was a bill in Congress to approve the Keystone Pipeline, a project that would have not only provided thousands of badly needed construction jobs but lowered the cost of transporting oil to American refineries - and not from some hot spot in the Middle East, but from Canada. That project was killed by the president with the assistance of his fellow Democrats in the Senate....and the fed up Canadians are routing that oil to Vancouver via an already existing Canadian pipeline and have sold those oil contracts to China.

President Obama blamed this fiasco on - wait for it - Republicans, simply because they wanted to end the dithering and give the Canadians some indication we were serious about buying their oil. hey, not only did President Obama see to it that we lost out on 900,000 barrels a day of badly needed oil to China, he insulted one of our closest allies in the bargain at the same time. Focused on production!

Another interesting factoid - remember the President gifting over a billion of your tax dollars to Brazil to finance their oil exploration because, as he told them 'we want to be your best customers' ? Instead oil financing oil exploration here?

The United States consumes more than a fifth of the world’s oil. But we only have 2% of the world’s oil reserves. That means we can’t just rely on fossil fuels from the last century. We can’t just allow ourselves to be held hostage by the ups and downs of the world oil market. We have to keep developing new sources of energy. We have to keep developing new technology that helps us use less energy. We have to keep relying on the American know-how and ingenuity that comes from places like the University of Miami. That’s our future. And that’s exactly the path we’ve been taking these last three years.

That 2% figure is demonstrably false on the face of it, since believe it or not, America is one of top five oil exporters. But even without going there, this president,who claims we're running out of oil and that he's focused on an all-of-the above strategy curiously leaves out two major oil sources here at home.

The first is shale oil, which the administration has fought tooth and nail but is providing quite a few jobs in the Dakotas and other Rocky Mountain states. The process of fracking, which the president has also tried to restrict as much as possible on faux environmental grounds is making headlines in a great many places, but getting hardly any support...certainly nothing like the bogus 'green energy' companies like Solyndra run by well-connected insiders and Obama campaign donors that have sucked up billions of taxpayer dollars and been an abysmal failure.

Another energy resource that has been totally ignored because of the Obama Administration's focus on cap n' tax, subsidizing the UAW friendly bailout of GM and similar pursuits is the gasification of coal, which I've mentioned a few times of these pages.

Gasification is a proven, clean technology that takes coal and reprocesses it into refinable oil and petroleum products. It's how Hitler kept the Panzers running after the British fleet cut off much of Germany's access to Middle East and Asian oil.

The United States is justifiably called the Saudi Arabia of goal, and we have ample supplies of it. Back in the 1970's, when our Arab friends put an embargo on oil shipments to America and oil was flirting with $100 per barrel, President Carter performed one of the few intelligent acts of his administration and authorized the development of American synthetic fuel made by this process, which could be done then for about half of what the Arabs were asking for their crude.

The project worked quite well for a few tears, but was scrapped when crude prices from the Middle East crashed in response and made it less economical.

Gasification is still a cheap source of oil, the technology has improved considerably since the 1970's, we have massive coal deposits and it could still produce oil for about half what Brent crude is going for on the spot markets. So why isn't Mr. 'all-of-the above strategy' jumping on this?

Here's why. First of all, President Obama, quite frankly, knows very little about energy but he does know that a lot of his base hates the coal and oil industry, because that's what Democrats have told them for years without letting them in on how ample energy affects things like food prices, the cost of goods and services and yes,what they pay at the pump. They've even got these well-trained lemmings buying electric and hybrid cars because they're not thinking about what the electric power plants run on that generate that 'non-fossil fuels' energy for that spiffy new Prius or not so spiffy GM Volt.

The oil companies make a convenient target, as the president demonstrates here:

Right now, four billion of your tax dollars subsidize the oil industry every year. Four billion dollars. These are the same oil companies that have been making record profits off the money you spend at the pump. And now they deserve another four billion dollars from us?

It’s outrageous. It’s inexcusable. And every politician who’s been fighting to keep these subsidies in place should explain to the American people why the oil industry needs more of their money. Especially at a time like this.

What the president is talking about is what the oil companies write off as R&D for exploration and for depreciation and depleting of existing equipment and resources, just like every other corporation. Make special rules that apply just to those 'greedy oil companies' and watch how research and development and the exploration for new resources dries up.

Which, by the way, is exactly what the president and other Big Government apparatchniks want.

They absolutely loves the high taxes generated by super-sized prices at the pump, which gives them huge sums to spend on pet projects and rewarding loyal constituencies. Those greedy, profiteering oil companies make, on average, about a 9% profit on a gallon of gas in exchange for finding, pumping, shipping, refining and retailing it. In California, the government's cut on a gallon of gasoline at today's prices simply for being there ranges from a 17% 'profit' per gallon in outlying areas to 22% in cities like Los Angeles and San Francisco, depending on sales taxes and the actual retail price involved.

President Obama is hoping that retailing the Big Lie on energy is going to spin the issue to make high gas prices the fault of the Republicans in Congress, who won't OK fresh giveaways of taxpayer dollars to his green energy cronies.

It shows exactly how much this president really cares about the 'little people', doesn't it?

The Council Has Spoken!! This Week's Watcher's Council Results

The Council has spoken, the votes have been cast, and the results are in for the this week's Watcher's Council match up, entered into the cosmic archives.

BUT...before we get to that, we have some important business to take care of.

Deep in the heart of Texas ( well, North Texas anyway) lives a live wire conservative blogger and a molder of young minds, together with his Darling Democrat and his Apolitical Pooch...yes, it's Greg at Rhymes With Right's Birthday! So I figured we'd put on some 'cue.

Actually, the big day occurs on Saturday, but since I'll be offline, I thought it would be appropriate to celebrate on the Wow page today.

What's it been now pardner..five,six years of us getting in each other's faces and throwing ideas at each other? I wouldn't have missed one bit of it.

One parting thought..just think, if you'd have been born four days later in a leap year, you'd have 25% less birthdays and be 25% younger!

Have an absolutely wonderful birthday,and many more to come.

Ah yes, this week's results..

What does it mean when a great university makes a mockery of itself and its own purported raison d'ĂȘtre? . How does it look when a place once noted for outspoken anti-Semitism in the past experiences a back to the future moment? As this week's winner, Joshuapundit's Harvard Endorses Israel's Destruction reveals, it looks like this:

On March 3-4, Harvard University is hosting a conference sponsored by its Kennedy School of Government entitled “One State Conference: Israel/Palestine and the One State Solution.” Its explicit goal is to discuss methods of achieving the the destruction of Israel.

According to the “Vision and Goals” of the conference, as outlined by its website:

“To date, the only Israel/Palestine solution that has received a fair rehearsal in mainstream forums has been the two-state solution. Our conference will help to expand the range of academic debate on this issue. Thus, our main goal is to educate ourselves and others about the possible contours of a one-state solution and the challenges that stand in the way of its realization.”

When you who's speaking and who's not,what the conference is about becomes painfully obvious.

The Harvard student groups involved include student groups including, Students for Justice in Palestine, the Palestine Caucus, the Arab Caucus, the Progressive Caucus, the Association for Justice in the Middle East, and members of the radical Jewish Voice for Peace. Speakers will include Ali Abunimah, the Executive Director of the Electronic Intifada; Dalit Baum, of the BDS organization Coalition of Women for Peace; Ilan Pappe, a radical left Israeli academic who makes a nice living lecturing in Europe about how evil the country he was born in is and whose main claims to fame were fabricating the story of a 'massacre' at a place called Tantura that was proven in court never to have occurred and popularizing a phony quotation to make it seem like Israel leader David Ben -Gurion endorsed the expulsion of Israel's Arabs ; Marc Ellis, Director of the Center for Jewish Studies at Baylor University, who makes a fetish out of equating Zionism with old fashioned colonialism and Israel’s treatment of the 'Palestinians' to the Nazi treatment of Jews and is now desperately trying to avoid being fired; and Hamas apologist Diana Buttu.

And of course,as a main attraction, there's the Kennedy School's own Stephen Walt, co-author of the factually challenged anti-semitic trophe The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy. When he's not busily engaged in poisoning the minds of America's future foreign policy establishment, Professor Walt writes putrid little pieces for Foreign Policy shilling for Mein Kampf, which echoes his own book in repeating the dark fairy tales of a Jewish Fifth Column and fantasizing about a second Holocaust. He'll go over huge, I'm sure.

All of these individuals and groups have something in common. They all see Israel as an “apartheid state,” guilty of the “ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian population.” And they all want a final solution in which Israel disappears by any means necessary as quickly as possible. And yes, the last sentence is exactly what I meant, because to these people a 'one state solution' means the murder and ethnic cleansing of Israel's Jews, nothing less.

Nor is this going to be just a bunch of speakers. This is being billed as an 'activist' conference, as opposed to one with an academic or research framework. It's rife with a number of how-to workshops on deligitimizing Israel. And needless to say, not a single pro-Israel voice is going to be heard.

And make no mistake..Harvard is totally behind this. The Kennedy School's logo appears on the conference website, Harvard is providing the premises and the university is admitting that this hatefest is being at least partially underwritten by “modest” funds set aside for student activities. Yet, when he was pressed, Kennedy School Dean David T. Ellwood actually had the temerity to release this statement, saying:

I want to emphasize once again that Harvard University and the Harvard Kennedy School in no way endorses or supports the apparent position of these student organizers or any participants they include. We hope that the final shape of the conference will be significantly more balanced.

No, they're not endorsing it or supporting it - all they're doing is allowing it to use university property, letting the organizers use the Kennedy School logo and helping fund it!

In our non-Council category, the winner was the one and only Mark Steyn for Contraception Misdirection submitted by Joshuapundit, a masterful look at a few issues involved in the contraception controversy that seems to have escaped a lot of people. Do read it.

Here are this week’s full results. New Zeal was unable to vote this week, but was not affected by the 2/3 vote penalty:

Council Winners

Non-Council Winners

See you next week! And don't forget to follow us on Facebook and Twitter..'cause we're cool like that!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

GOP Agonistes - Last Night's Debate

As always, I watch these things so you don't have to. But truthfully, there's more meat in what didn't happen and what shouldn't have happened than what actually did.

What shouldn't have happened is 20 odd GOP debates, especially with people like John King and George Stephanopoulos as 'moderators'. Half as many would have served equally well, and with a far different group of people running them.

The only people who benefited from this nonsense were the Obama campaign and its assorted media lackeys with a vested interest in seeing our Dear Leader re-elected. And the overkill has arguably turned a GOP base that was engaged and ready to get behind a standard bearer to take on probably the most dismally failed presidency in U.S. history into a jaded group that will now have to be re-energized by whomever is the nominee.

I still remain amazed that the Republican candidates agreed to perform in this circus. You would think they'd know better. The doubling down by the candidates last night on the Obama campaign's birth control setup when they should have been talking about taxes, jobs and gas prices was beyond embarrassing, and there were oly two bright spots. First, Mitt Romney's slapdown of John King's attempt to interrupt him in mid answer and drive the agenda.

Second Newt Gingrich's reminding the world that President Obama is a rabid fan of infanticide with a position more extreme than NARAL's, and that the media never questioned it and did their best to cover it up during the 2008 campaign. Unfortunately, he didn't go into more detail on what a hideous revelation this actually is and what is says about the current occupant of the White House. In more enlightened times, Barack Obama would have been driven out of decent society by that alone.

Last night's debate was Rick Santorum's chance to prove that he was ready for prime time, could trade punches with the big boys and is capable of taking President Obama on. He isn't, he can't and he's not.

It doesn't matter that some of the attack lines were unfair or unreasonable. It was Senator Santorum's task to hit them back over the net at his opponents, and he didn't, not in any convincing way. This leads me to believe that as likeable as he is, he has problems performing under pressure, something I've noticed more than once. And petulantly claiming after the fact that the fix was in and people are ganging up on him is not something that inspires confidence.

Another point worth mentioning was Senator Santorum's demeanor. Mitt Romney, Ron Paul and Newt Gingrich appeared relaxed and confident. Santorum appeared anxious and ill at ease, like a man with a jock strap one size too small.

If he's behaving like this now, one can only imagine what he'll be like he's debating President Obama i a debate 'moderated' by PBS when the fix will really be in and anything he's said in the past that's remotely questionable will be warped, taken out of context and looped endlessly by Soros' media galley slaves.

Republicans as well as the American people seem to be taking a more critical look at Rick Santorum as well. From having a solid lead in Michigan, he's now pretty much dead even with Romney, who is also up in favorability ratings against Obama according to Gallup.

Mitt Romney actually had a fairly decent night of it, and his tying of Santorum's endorsement of RINO Arlen Spector to the passing of ObamaCare ( Spector was one of the deciding votes) was a blow that caught Santorum flat footed and really hurt him.

The voting in Arizona and Michigan cometh, and it remains to be seen whether Rick Santorum's performance last night hurt him. I think it did, and badly.