Sunday, September 30, 2012
Saturday, September 29, 2012
Friday, September 28, 2012
One thing is clear: the U.S. military, according to my sources, currently has no interest in a preventive strike. "The idea that we'll attack with Israel is remote, so you can take that off your list of options," former Centcom commander Joe Hoar told me. Nor will the United States join an Israeli attack once it starts, the senior U.S. planner said. "We know there are senior Iranians egging for a fight with us, particularly in their Navy," a retired Centcom officer added. "And we'll give them one if they want one, but we're not going to go piling in simply because the Israelis want us to."
While Israel has 125 sophisticated F15I and F16I fighter-bombers, only the roughly 25 F15Is are capable of carrying the bunker-busting GBU-28 guided missile, which has the best chance of destroying Iran's heavily fortified nuclear installations. And even then, each F15I can only carry a single munition.
This force, while lethal, is also modest. The Israeli Air Force would likely have to carefully pick and choose its targets, settling most probably on four: the heavy-water production plant at Arak, the uranium-enrichment centers at Fordow and Natanz, and the uranium-conversion facility at Isfahan, while leaving out the military site at Parchin and the nuclear reactor at Bushehr, which houses Russian technical experts.
The Israeli attack would also likely include the F16Is to knock down Iran's air defense network, or perhaps drop other, less effective, bunker-busting munitions to reinforce the F15I sortie. Some of these F16Is, but not all of them, would be able to refuel from Israel's seven to ten KC-707 tankers.
Even with that, and even with the best of luck (good weather, accurate targeting, sophisticated refueling, near total surprise, precise air-to-air interdiction, a minimum of accidents, and the successful destruction of Iran's anti-aircraft capabilities), senior U.S. military officers say that Israel would only set back Iran's nuclear capability by one to two years at best -- not end it.
Which could be why Netanyahu is so anxious for the Obama administration to say when or if it would join an attack. As Hoar, the former Centcom commander, bluntly put it: "Compared to the United States, Israel doesn't have a military."
Israel's likely inability to destroy Iran's nuclear capacity in a single stroke, even in a best-case scenario, has led U.S. war planners to speculate about a second, out-of-the-box, and extremely dangerous military option: what they're calling an "Iranian Entebbe."
In this scenario, the Israelis would forego a massed air attack and instead mount a high-risk but high-payoff commando raid that would land an elite Sayeret Matkal (special forces) unit outside of Iran's enrichment facility at Fordow, near Qom. The unit -- or other elite units like it -- consisting of perhaps as many as 400 soldiers, would seize Iran's enriched uranium for transport to Israel.
The operation's success would depend on speed, secrecy, simplicity, and the credibility of Israeli intelligence. According to the Pentagon war planner, Israel's access to intelligence on Iranian military and policy planning is unprecedented, as is their willingness to share it with U.S. intelligence officials.
The Israeli unit would be transported on as few as three and perhaps as many as six C-130 aircraft (which can carry a maximum of 70 troops) that would be protected by a "swarm" of well-armed F16Is, according to the scenario being considered by U.S. military officers. The C-130s would land in the desert near Fordow. The Israeli commandos would then defeat the heavily armed security personnel at the complex, penetrate its barriers and interdict any enemy units nearby, and seize the complex's uranium for transport back to Israel. Prior to its departure, the commando unit would destroy the complex, obviating the need for any high-level bombing attack. (Senior U.S. military officers say that there are reports that some of the uranium at Fordow is stored as uranium hexafluoride gas, a chemical form used during the enrichment process. In that case, the material may be left in place when the commandos destroy the complex.)
"It's doable, and they have to be thinking along these lines," the highly placed U.S. military officer said. "The IDF's special forces are the best asset Israel has." That said, "In some scenarios," the U.S. military planner who told me of the potential operation said, "there would be very high Israeli casualties because of nearby Republican Guard divisions. This operation could be quite bloody."
Bloody or not, the Israeli leadership may not be quick to dismiss such an operation, given Israel's history of using such units. Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak are former Sayeret Matkal officers, and recently Israeli Defense Forces head Benny Gantz (himself a Sayeret Matkal veteran) said the IDF had formed an elite special operations "Deep Corps" to strike far inside hostile territory. And, of course, it bears remembering that Netanyahu's brother Yonatan was the sole casualty in Israel's Entebbe operation.
A third operation is less exotic, but perhaps most dangerous of all: regime decapitation. "The Israelis could just take out the Iranian leadership," the senior Pentagon war planner said. "But they would only do that as a part of an air strike or a commando raid." The downside of a decapitation strike is that it would not end Iran's nuclear program; the upside is that it would almost certainly trigger an Iranian response targeting U.S. military assets in the region, as it would leave the Iranian Revolutionary Guard forces in charge of the country. It would be the one sure way, U.S. officers with whom I spoke believe, for Israel to get the United States involved in its anti-Iran offensive, with the U.S. mounting operations in a conflict it didn't start.
Still, according to a respected retired military officer who consults with the Pentagon -- and who speaks regularly with senior Israeli military officers -- Israel's political elite is likely to be surprised by Obama and the U.S. military's response should Israel launch a preventive attack on Iranian nuclear sites. "If Israel starts a war," this retired officer said, "America's first option will be to stop it. To call for a ceasefire. And, by the way, that's also our second and third option. We'll do everything we can to keep the war from escalating. We'll have 72 hours to do that. After that, all bets are off."
God forbid he gets a second term.
Thursday, September 27, 2012
Bibi Netyanyahu May Have Just Blinked in the Face of US Opposition, Almost Guaranteeing an Iranian Bomb
Unfortunately, the real red line for Israel is the point at which it can no longer delay or destroy Iran's nuclear program, which is probably far sooner than next spring given its military capabilities. Every day that Iran's program is unmolested is another day you give the Iranians time to both reinforce the nuclear facilities already in place as well as build new ones. As Bibi mentioned himself, Iran is the size of half of Europe and so it's hard to find these facilities and intelligence services missed one operating nuclear facility for a full two years. Why give them a chance to put even more redudancies into the system?
Another issue, and this could be pretty major, is that his spring of 2013 timeline may be way too optimistic for the data of an Iranian nuclear breakout. As you can see from the chart below (taken from this great report from AEI), several estimates point to Iran crossing the red line between September 24th (which is already in the past if you look at the calendar) and early February 2013 at the very very latest:
And here is some detail from AEI on its own estimates which is based on what we currently know about Iranian centrifuge capacity, assuming no hidden plants somewhere:
As you can see, the most likely point at which Iran has a breakout is actually months before Bibi's red line. And given the fact there is a lot more cloud cover in the middle east in the winter, if Israel doesn't attack in October, they might never have a chance to actually stop Iran's nuclear program. Bibi's announcement of a spring redline was essentially his public acquiescence to Obama's wishes of no attack before the election.
Even if you assume that Bibi's redline is correct and Iran is still about 6 months away from their nuclear breakout, there is no reason to believe the United States will do anything to stop Iran next year. Let's just look at the history of the US with regards to nuclear proliferation. The US was concerned about the Iraqi Osirak nuclear facility in the early 1980's but did nothing about them and even condemned Israel when they did something (though Dick Cheney did thank the Israeli's for doing so 10 years later during the first Gulf War). Then what about the Syrian nuclear facility? After a lot of back and forth being Israel and the George W. Bush administration, Israel bombed it as they couldn't wait any longer for the Bush administration to get on board. In North Korea, there are reports that Clinton was ready to go to war to destroy their nuclear facilities but then agreed to a deal at the last moment. A deal that North Korea clearly broke as they now have nuclear weapons. The US also did nothing to prevent Pakistan or India from crossing the nuclear threshold. Time after time, the US has done nothing to prevent nuclear proliferation when push came to shove. If President's like Reagan, George W. Bush and Clinton were unwilling to act why would you think Obama will (given that he won't have another election) or Romney will? Romney might have a higher chance of cooperating next year than Obama but he will probably want to focus on fixing our economy and our budget and won't want a war on his hands so soon after his election.
The best hope for destroying or severely delaying the Iranian nuclear program is by attacking now, when Israel is still capable of doing meaningful damage and when the United States will be forced to back them up (as any failure to do so will cost Obama the election).
Of course, I know that Bibi is a smart man and he may have purposely made it seem that he wasn't in a rush to attack in order for Iran to put its guard down (it seems stupid to attack when you keep telling your enemy you are about to attack) but I'm not so sure. He just may have been bluffing this whole time, hurting Israeli prestige and the future of the nation itself in the process.
- Mitt Romney converted millions of Jewish holocaust victims to Mormonism posthumously
- Barack Obama only went to Reverend Wright's church 25 years ago
- Reverend Wright was not anti-American
- Obama loves Israel
- Obama never went to a Muslim School in Indonesia nor even ever lived in Indonesia at all
- Jews provide an insignificant percentage of the funding for the Democratic Party, therefore Obama will act no differently after the election than he did before it
Wednesday, September 26, 2012
Tuesday, September 25, 2012
Al-Hayat received a copy of an internal memorandum that the Brotherhood distributed to its managerial staff in the provinces. This memorandum seeks to mobilize opposition demonstrations at the beginning of next month, asserting that the number of participants will exceed 50,000.
The four page memorandum includes a call to the Brotherhood managerial staff to meet on a daily basis to "make sure that the plan aiming at successfully mobilizing the protests — which are scheduled for Oct. 10 — is implemented."
The memorandum stated: "Each member is asked to have a road map for mobilizing masses within the remaining time. All members, including those who are sick even and will be transported by vehicles, are expected to participate."
It continued: "Every member of the Brotherhood must be dedicated to communicate with his relatives, close friends, acquaintances, fellow employees and various Islamic groups and patriots who are eager to preserve the nation."
The memorandum also called for the formation of hotbeds to communicate with civil society activists and leaders and focus on the participation of groups affiliated with universities, schools and women's organizations.
The note includes a call addressed to the Brotherhood managerial staff and supporters to step out of their vehicles on the demonstration day, protest in the streets and not to return to their houses if security forces prevent them from reaching the central demonstration points, which will be located in the center of Amman.
The new guidelines — the first major overhaul of school meals in 15 years — also require cafeterias to serve less fat and sodium and more fruits, vegetables and whole grains.
Linda O’Connor, an English teacher at Wallace County High School, penned the “We Are Hungry” parody after a colleague, Brenda Kirkham, posted a photo of her school lunch on Facebook and sparked dozens of outraged comments.
The lunch included one cheese-stuffed bread stick, a small dollop of marinara sauce, three apple slices and some raw spinach. Kirkham supplemented the lunch with items from a salad bar, including cubes of ham, bacon bits and dressing, which were available only to teachers.
“I asked why the sauce had no meat and I was informed that due to the breadsticks containing cheese, the meat would put us over the guidelines for protein,” Kirkham wrote.
“Now think of a high school boy who works out at least three hours a day, not including farm work. … I’m furious. The ‘cheese’ inside the breadstick is approximately three bites. This is ridiculous.”
In past weeks, students in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and St. Mark’s school near Colwich have organized brown-bag protests, packing their own lunches instead of buying school meals.
Huelskamp and Rep. Steve King, a Republican from Iowa, have introduced a bill that would repeal the calorie maximums imposed by the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, which won congressional approval in 2010.
Huelskamp said the new lunch guidelines are “a perfect example of what is wrong with government: misguided inputs, tremendous waste and unaccomplished goals.”
He also opposes rules that require students to take servings of a fruit or vegetable at lunch, regardless of whether they plan to eat it.
“If every member of Congress would actually go into a school cafeteria and take a look at the trash can, they’d see that what sounds good on paper doesn’t always work out like you think,” Huelskamp said.
Read more here: http://www.kansascity.com/2012/09/24/3831309/school-lunch-calorie-limits-leave.html#storylink=cpy
Tell me again why the federal government is messing with what local schools can serve for lunch? Shouldn't the parents and school board decide something like that?
Monday, September 24, 2012
From: Michael Hastings
Sent: Sunday, September 23, 2012 12:04 PM
To: Reines, Philippe I Cc: Nuland, Victoria J
Subject: Re: Request for comment
Thanks for getting back to me. No, you read my email correctly--I found your statement to CNN offensive.
From my perspective, the scandal here is that the State Department had such inadequate security procedures in place that four Americans were killed. And then the Ambassador's diary--and who knows what else--was left behind for anyone to pick up. Thankfully, it was CNN--and not Al Qaeda or some other militia--that found it and was able to return it to the family. That CNN used portions of the material in the diary they found at the scene--material that appears to contradict the official version of events that State/WH has been putting out--is completely in line with practices of good journalism.
I don't know how involved Arwa Damon has been in this. But for what it's worth, Arwa is one of the best war correspondents working today. She's consistently risked her life to get these stories, and to find out what actually happens in these conflict zones.I do agree that the media has lots of responsibilities, and CNN fulfilled its responsibility by returning the diary while still managing to inform the American public of newsworthy information. So it's unfortunate that you are trying to make a scapegoat out of CNN. That State was forced to flee Benghazi--again, because of such inadequate security, leaving behind all sorts of sensitive information--tells us more about DoS than CNN.
The misinformation here seems largely to be coming from State and the administration. The defense that the administration has offered that there was no intelligence warning of an attack is weak. If there was no intel, then clearly the CIA and other intel agents stationed in Benghazi weren't doing their jobs well. If there was intel, then we have some kind of cover-up--whether out of incompetence or ass covering before the election or just the trauma of losing four good men, it's hard for me to say at this point.
All the best,
On Sun, Sep 23, 2012 at 12:45 PM, Reines, Philippe I wrote:
Why do you bother to ask questions you've already decided you know the answers to?
From: Michael Hastings
Sent: Sunday, September 23, 2012 12:50 PM
To: Reines, Philippe I Cc: Nuland, Victoria J
Subject: Re: Request for comment
Why don't you give answers that aren't bullshit for a change?
On Sun, Sep 23, 2012 at 1:38 PM, Reines, Philippe I wrote:
I now understand why the official investigation by the Department of the Defense as reported by The Army Times The Washington Post concluded beyond a doubt that you're an unmitigated asshole.
How's that for a non-bullshit response?
Now that we've gotten that out of our systems, have a good day.
And by good day, I mean Fuck Off
From: Michael Hastings
Sent: Sunday, September 23, 2012 01:40 PM
To: Reines, Philippe I Cc: Nuland, Victoria J
Subject: Re: Request for comment
Hah--I now understand what women say about you, too! Any new complaints against you lately?
On Sun, Sep 23, 2012 at 1:48 PM, Reines, Philippe I wrote:
Talk about bullshit - answer me this: Do you only traffic in lies, or are you on the ground floor of creating them?
And since Fuck Off wasn't clear enough, I'm done with you. Inside of 5 minutes when I can log into my desktop, you'll be designated as Junk Mail.
Have a good life Michael.
From: Michael Hastings
Date: Sun, Sep 23, 2012 at 1:50 PM
Subject: Re: Request for comment
To: "Reines, Philippe I" Cc: "Nuland, Victoria J"
I'll take that as a non-denial denial.
All the best,
No wonder our small business job creation has collapsed under Obama. As if business owners didn't have enough to worry about with a struggling economy, now government regulation has started weighing heavily on them and increasing their perceived costs of any expansion. Regulations cost money and jobs, it's time we dial them back. And it's pretty clear that it is only going to get worse under Obama, Romney might be the only hope for small business owners. Based on this data, maybe Romney's ads should focus on the regulatory burden that business owners face.
Saturday, September 22, 2012
Friday, September 21, 2012
Regarding the PWC letter covering the Romneys' tax filings over 20 years, from 1990 – 2009:
- In each year during the entire 20-year period, the Romneys owed both state and federal income taxes.
- Over the entire 20-year period, the average annual effective federal tax rate was 20.20%.
- Over the entire 20-year period, the lowest annual effective federal personal tax rate was 13.66%.
- Over the entire 20-year period, the Romneys gave to charity an average of 13.45% of their adjusted gross income.
- Over the entire 20-year period, the total federal and state taxes owed plus the total charitable donations deducted represented 38.49% of total AGI.
"The Obama administration doesn't want anything on a macroeconomic scale that is going to rock the global economy before November 6," a senior EU official told Reuters, adding that previous troika reports had also slipped.
Several sources in Germany described those conversations with their U.S. counterparts and said the message had been that the Americans didn't want surprises before the election.
"It's likely the troika report will be pushed back beyond the U.S. election date," said a Berlin official who spoke on condition of anonymity. Asked if that was a special request from Washington, he replied: "They don't want any surprises."
"As far as European leaders are concerned, they don't want Romney, so they're probably willing to do anything to help Obama's chances," said the source, an EU official involved in finding solutions to the debt crisis.
Thursday, September 20, 2012
Wednesday, September 19, 2012
So as startups either no longer start or just hire a minimal number of people now due to Obama's expensive and expansive regulations, we are seeing an unusually sluggish employment situation for an extended period of time. On a per capita basis, the startup job creation rate under Obama is far less than it was under the previous few Presidents (and no doubt under Reagan and Carter as well):
How can this be? Isn't Obama working to help the poor by getting the rich to pay more? Aren't they one of his key constituencies? Not really. If you look at his stimulus package, much of it went to save public sector employee jobs, they typically are not the poorest of society, they typically make enough to be in the 2nd or 3rd highest (aka the middle one) quintiles. What he does provide to the poor are just handouts that don't actually help them succeed or escape out of their income grouping. Food stamps and unemployment benefits for 99 weeks create a floor but they don't raise anybody above that floor. You could even argue that it reduces the incentive for people to hurry up and do something to better their predicament. This data indicates that he might in fact be a drug dealer of the welfare state.
Tuesday, September 18, 2012
Also, an increasing percentage of our federal budget is made up of transfer payments, essentially robbing Peter to pay Paul:
Ending welfare as we know it seemed to only make a temporary dent in the government redistribution juggernaut.
Monday, September 17, 2012
Conventional thinking is that lower interest rates will encourage households to save less (and consume more) and will encourage companies to invest more. In both cases, spending is brought forward from the future, because the discount rate has been reduced. Even abstracting from the influence of cumulative stock considerations (both real and financial) on spending this conventional thinking can be challenged in a number of ways.
A consideration that applies to both household and company spending is the message given by ultra easy monetary policy. To the extent that such measures are unprecedented, indeed smacking of desperation, they could actually depress confidence and the will to spend.
The distributional (income) implications of interest rate changes for aggregate household spending also receive too little attention. Very low rates imply less household disposable income for creditors and more disposable income for debtors. Should the marginal propensity to consume of creditors (say older, credit constrained people living off accumulated assets) exceed that of debtors, the net effect of redistribution could be to lower household spending rather than raise it.
Lower interest rates cannot generate "wealth", if an increase in wealth is appropriately defined as the capacity to have a higher future standard of living. From this perspective, higher equity prices constitute wealth only if based on higher expected productivity and higher future earnings. This could be a byproduct of lower interest rates stimulating spending, but this is simply to assume the hypothesis meant to be under test. As for higher house prices raising future living standards, the argument ignores the higher future cost of living in a house. Rather, what higher house prices do produce is more collateral against which loans can be taken out to sustain spending. In this case, however, the loan must be repaid at the cost of future consumption. No "wealth" has in fact been created. In any event, as noted above, house prices in many countries have continued to fall despite lower policy rates. This implies that the need for "payback" can no longer be avoided by still further borrowing.
Ramaswamy (2012) presents a chilling quantitative analysis of the effects of interest rate changes on public pension funds and defined benefit funds. The essence of the argument is that lower interest rates reduce the asset revenues of pension funds and raise the present value of future liabilities. Funding shortfalls eventually have to be made up by the sponsoring company, reducing profits and funds available for investment.
A recent report by the consulting firm Mercer indicates that the 1500 leading companies in the US had a pension deficit of $689 billion as of July 2012; i.e., they are only 70 percent funded. In the UK, the Pension Protection Fund recently estimated that almost 85 percent of defined benefit plans were underfunded, with a cumulative shortfall of over $400 billion. Moreover, proposed changes to pension rules, in countries using IFRS accounting standards, seem likely to make the impact of low rates on companies with such pension funds significantly worse.
To summarize, there are significant grounds for believing that the various channels through which monetary policy might normally operate are at least partially blocked. Moreover, there are also grounds for belief that neither household nor corporate spending would react as vigorously as in the past, even if the traditional transmission channels were functioning properly.
From the perspective of this hypothesis, monetary easing after the 1987 stock market crash contributed to the world wide property boom of the late 1980's. After it crashed in turn, the subsequent easing of policy in the AME's led to massive capital inflows into SEA contributing to the subsequent Asian crisis in 1997. This crisis was used as justification for a failure to raise policy rates, in the United States at least, which set the scene for the excessive leverage employed by LTCM and its subsequent demise in 1998. The lowering of policy rates in response, even though the unemployment rate in the AME's seemed unusually low, led to the stock market bubble that burst in 2000. Again, vigorous monetary easing resulted, as described above, which led to a worldwide housing boom. This boom peaked in 2007 in a number of AME's, seriously damaging their banking systems as well. However, in other AME's, the house price boom continues along with still rising and often record household debt ratios. This latter phenomena, as well as other signs of rising inflation and other credit driven imbalances in EME's, reflects the easy monetary policies followed worldwide in the aftermath of the crisis.
By mitigating the purging of malinvestments in successive cycles, monetary easing thus raised the likelihood of an eventual downturn that would be much more severe than a normal one.
Moreover, the bursting of each of these successive bubbles led to an ever more aggressive monetary policy response.
Update: According to Breitbart, it now looks like they may have been cheering at the end of this video because the Ambassador is alive. I guess Libya is not all lost.
Sunday, September 16, 2012
On June 6, an IED was thrown at the perimeter of the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi.
On June 11, the British ambassador's motorcade came under attack by a rocket-propelled grenade, or RPG. Two security personnel were injured.
On June 18, armed gunmen attacked the Tunisian consulate and burned its flag.
On Aug. 5, five weeks before the assault on the U.S. Consulate, the International Committee of the Red Cross building in Benghazi was also struck by RPGs.
Saturday, September 15, 2012
FBI agents have arrested a man they say planned to set off a car bomb outside a bar in downtown Chicago.
Federal prosecutors say 18-year-old Adel Daoud was arrested Friday night in an undercover operation in which agents pretending to be extremists provided him with a phony car bomb.
Federal prosecutors say the FBI began monitoring him after he posted material online about violent jihad and the killing of Americans.
Friday, September 14, 2012
Also, it doesn't seem to be the case that real estate is drastically undervalued either, in fact, adjusted for inflation it still seems to be at slightly elevated levels. The only reason to think real estate is undervalued is because it was much higher several years ago, but as we know, that value was not real:
So if real estate mortgage rates are at all time lows and real estate prices are still a little on the high side historically, what could Bernanke be doing? It seems pretty obvious that he is trying to blow another real estate bubble. He probably thinks that if he can blow another bubble, we can get construction spending as a % of GDP up, thus helping get our economy back on its feet and also help create jobs (though those jobs are relatively unskilled and don't exactly seem to represent what I would think would be the future of the economy). But as we've seen, there is no such thing as a free lunch, nor is there such a thing as free money. At some point the Federal Reserve will have to reverse course and then there will be hell to pay. Just remember what happened in the aftermath of the Fed blown stock market bubble and the Fed blown real estate bubble. Nothing but carnage.
Also, it's very unclear if there will actually be beneficial effects to the real economy by any of this. Former Fed Governor Kevin Warsh thinks that the launch of the IPhone 5 will have more of an impact than QE3 will. Check out his interview at CNBC, which is one of the best I've seen in a while (if I were President, I might think of naming Kevin Warsh to be Fed Chair):
Marc Faber also makes some good point in the interview below. He points out that money printing tends to help the rich, who own assets but hurt the poor, who don't (and who face higher food and energy prices). He also points out that this will only end in disaster, or as he puts it "The Fed Will Destroy the World". Given the impact of QE on food prices globally and the fact that many people around the world spend a good percentage of their income on food, you can kind of see the point. Many already believe that QE2 caused the riots that led to the revolutions across the Middle East as people were extremely unhappy with food price inflation:
Q: Is Israel incapable of having a substantive impact on the Iranian program if nothing is done within the next six months, or year? Or three months?
A: All I can say is that our window is small, and it's growing much smaller....
Q: Do you share President Peres's public faith that the American administration will stop Iran from attaining nuclear weapons?
A: The issue is not whether we trust the United States, or don't trust the United States. They are a great ally. The issue is our responsibility as a sovereign state, as a sovereign Jewish state. Previous Israeli governments, in 1967, 1956, 1948, have faced very similar situations, where they were asked to wait for longer periods of diplomacy. And diplomacy wasn't succeeding. The leaders of the (Israeli) governments during those years perceived an existential threat to the country. And you know the Americans didn't agree to everything we did in 1948, 1956 and 1967, but we acted to defend ourselves, and to assure our continued existence as a sovereign Jewish state.
David, it's the reason why we came home, after 2,000 years — to assume that responsibility.
Q: I understand. And that makes it sound as though, holding to that determined, independent assertion of sovereignty, Israel could not allow its window of opportunity to close. That's the conclusion one might draw from this history.
A: One should never forget at the same time that no country in the world has a greater stake in resolving the Iranian nuclear threat peacefully than the state of Israel. We have the most at stake. My kids babysat for your kids, David. We have those kids to think about… We seek to exhaust all diplomatic options.
We've been preternaturally patient over the last 20 years that we've been warning about this program. It took the world 10 years to take us seriously, till (the uranium enrichment facility at) Natanz was revealed in 2002.
We waited for all these years. We've supported the sanctions. The sanctions have unfortunately not set back the Iranian nuclear program. According to the IAEA report of August, the program is speeding ahead. The 20% enrichment has tripled. The amount of centrifuges in the fortified underground facility in Qom has doubled. They are also building a plutonium reactor at Arak. All of this they're doing in the face of sanctions. And all of this they're doing in the face of diplomacy… There's been nothing whatsoever from the Iranians. Not a millimeter of concessions.
The question then is how long you wait? And those are profoundly weighty questions for the decision-makers of Israel.
Q: How do you defend this Israeli government's fairly empathetic policy on settlements to Americans — Jews, politicians — who think it is destructive for the prospect of resumed negotiations and progress?
History comes in handy. In 2000 and 2008 we made serious offers for the creation of a Palestinian state, and the Palestinians turned that down — not because of the settlements. You could say that Israel tried to create a Palestinian state in 1967, or an autonomous entity, right after the Six-Day War. There were no settlements. But the Palestinians turned that down too. They turned down the Partition Resolution of 1947 and 1937 (a reference to the Peel Commission). The settlements are not the issue.
On a personal level, I participated as a reserve officer in the disengagement from Gaza in 2005. And it was one of the most traumatic experiences not just of my military career, but of my life. And we did that to advance peace, and we didn't get peace. We uprooted 21 settlements and we didn't get peace. We got rockets.
It's not about settlements. We understand that settlements is an issue that will be determined within negotiations with the Palestinians. Prime Minister Netanyahu got up in front of both houses of the Congress and said that he understood that in the event of peace with the Palestinians there would be settlements that would lie beyond Israel's borders.
The coordinated violence against American installations in the Middle East on the eleventh anniversary of 9/11 was caused by one thing: Islamic supremacism. Contrary to the knowing lies government officials and opinion elites have been feeding the American people for 20 years, Islamic supremacism is not the fringe ideology of the terrorists; it is the predominant Islam of the Middle East. By margins of upwards of 2 to 1, the United States and the West are despised in countries like Egypt and Libya. As I point out in my just-released book, Spring Fever: The Illusion of Islamic Democracy, when given the chance, Egyptians elected Islamic supremacists by a 4-to-1 margin. The only surprise in the voting was not the weakness of secular democrats — that they are a non-factor, even though American politicians continue to depict them as emblematic of the Muslim Middle East, was a given. The surprise was that the Muslim Brotherhood, which has reaffirmed its goal of a global caliphate ruled by sharia, is not quite devout enough for about a quarter of Egyptians, who voted for the even more extreme "Salafist" parties.
Under sharia, as construed by Islamic supremacists (i.e., at least two-thirds of Middle East Muslims), any negative criticism of Islam or its prophet, no matter how trifling, is deemed to be blasphemy and warrants violent reprisals — including death. These Muslims — hundreds of millions of them — consider this to be a divine ordinance and thus to be imposed on Muslims and non-Muslims alike.
Understand that Islam, particularly as Islamic supremacists interpret it, is not merely a religion; it is a totalitarian ideology that has some spiritual principles, which make up a small subset of the belief system. Blasphemy is not applied only to the spiritual principles — say, to the oneness of Allah, and the like. The speech prohibition applies across the board to all Islamic doctrine. You've got a problem with a woman's court testimony being worth only half of a man's? Blasphemy! You've got a problem with needing four male witnesses to prove rape? Blasphemy! You've got a problem with the death penalty for homosexuals? With stoning for adulterers? With scourging for the consumption of alcohol? Blasphemy, blasphemy, blasphemy!That's what causes the rioting and murder. The "blasphemers" are only a pretext. What causes this is the indoctrination of Muslim populations in an evil ideology that justifies savagery over nonsense.
Does anyone really want another 4 years of this?
Thursday, September 13, 2012
According to senior diplomatic sources, the US State Department had credible information 48 hours before mobs charged the consulate in Benghazi, and the embassy in Cairo, that American missions may be targeted, but no warnings were given for diplomats to go on high alert and "lockdown", under which movement is severely restricted.
The whole fiasco is such a major embarrassment for the entire country and our international prestige is plummeting. Instead of helping our standing, Obama has reversed all the progress we have made since the Carter administration. Once again we look weak, impotent and incompetent.
It's just amazing how incompetent the people in charge are.
Update: Here are some charts backing up the thesis that all QE2 did was increase food and energy prices and actually had a detrimental impact on real GDP. Note that there are lags to monetary policy so inflation doesn't pick up immediately nor does it end as soon as the spigot is closed. Anyway, let's start with food:
As you can see, at the beginning of QE2 in November of 2010, food inflation was running at around 1.5%. By the time the effects of QE2 had run their course, food inflation tripled to almost 5%! Now let's look at energy:
As you can see, energy inflation was running at around 5% at the start of QE2 and then quadrupled to 20% at the end of QE2! What about the impact on GDP? Did it at least increase GDP like it was supposed to? Nope, in fact real GDP went down as there was more net inflation than actual growth coming from the program:
In response to the attack in Cairo, diplomats there condemned not the attackers but those who "hurt the religious feelings of Muslims." The president appeared in the Rose Garden less than 24 hours later to condemn the Libya assault and failed even to mention the attack in Egypt. The message sent to radicals throughout the region: If you assault an American embassy but don't kill anyone, the U.S. president won't complain.
Though the administration's performance in the crisis was appalling, it wasn't surprising—it is the logical outcome of three-and-a-half years of Obama foreign policy.
In March 2009, at an Americas summit meeting in Mexico City, President Obama listened as Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega delivered a venomous diatribe against America. Mr. Obama stood to speak and accepted Mr. Ortega's version of history. "I'm very grateful," Mr. Obama said, "that President Ortega didn't blame me for things that happened when I was three months old."...
The president wrapped up his 2009 world tour with a speech at the United Nations, where he explained: "No world order that elevates one nation or group of people over another will succeed." He has worked hard these past three years to ensure that the U.S. is not "elevated" above others, and he has succeeded.
In too many parts of the world, America is no longer viewed as a reliable ally or an enemy to be feared. Don't take my word for it. Ask Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Even as his country faces an existential threat from Iran, he can't get a meeting with President Obama. Ask the Poles and Czechs, two allies we abandoned when we canceled missile-defense systems that the president feared would offend the Russians. Ask the Iranian people who took to the streets to fight for their freedom, only to find Mr. Obama standing silently with the mullahs....
The president says he "ended the war in Iraq" and is "ending the war in Afghanistan." If only wishing made it so. A better description of what Mr. Obama is doing in Iraq and Afghanistan is rushing for the exits. On his watch, we walked away from years of battle and sacrifice in Iraq, leaving no stay-behind force and an Iraq mired in violence under the heavy influence of Iran. In Afghanistan, the president gave hope to our enemies by announcing a date certain for withdrawal. He has ignored many of the most important recommendations of his commanders on the ground. He is so busy retreating that we are likely to leave in a our wake a failed state where the Taliban and terrorist organizations like al Qaeda can once again operate.
Apologizing for America, appeasing our enemies, abandoning our allies and slashing our military are the hallmarks of Mr. Obama's foreign policy.
I can't wait until we have a real President.
Wednesday, September 12, 2012
On June 4 the White House confirmed that the US had killed Abu Yahya Al-Libi - OBL's Libyan lietenant who had moved into Al Qaeda's #2 spot after Ayman Zahawiri after the Navy SEALs whacked OBL.On Tuesday 9/11, a tape was released of Zawahiri announcing that Libi had been killed earlier this year by a US drone attack. The Zawahiri tape was made during Ramadan which ended in the middle of last month. Zawahiri called for his terrorist underlings to avenge Libi's death and especially exhorted Libyans to take revenge....Then there is the attack in Cairo. They were led by Mohammad Zawahiri - Ayman Zawahiri's brother. According the Thomas Josclyn in the Weekly Standard, the US media has been idiotically presenting him as some sort of moderate despite the fact that in an interview with Al Jazeerah he said said, "We in al Qaeda..."Egypt's US supported Muslim Brotherhood President Mohamed Morsi recently released Zawahiri from Egyptian prison. The same Barack Obama who has no time in his schedule to meet with Prime Minister Netanyahu next week in New York, is scheduled to meet Morsi.The Egyptian government has not condemned the attack on the US Embassy in Cairo. But Morsi is demanding that the US government prosecute the film's creator.
With these facts in hand, it is clear that the attempts to present these acts of war against the US as the consequence of some stupid nothing movie are obscene attempts to deflect the blame for these unwarranted attacks onto their victims and away from their perpetrators.
You have to wonder how much the Egyptian government itself was involved with all this.
Notice there is zero mention of any attempt to bring the perpetrators to justice. Sure there is talk of increasing our security at our diplomatic posts across the globe (why this wasn't done before 9/11 I don't know) but what about an actual forceful response to this act of war on the United States? He makes America look so impotent it's sickening and by doing so he is encouraging more attacks.
I strongly condemn the outrageous attack on our diplomatic facility in Benghazi, which took the lives of four Americans, including Ambassador Chris Stevens. Right now, the American people have the families of those we lost in our thoughts and prayers. They exemplified America's commitment to freedom, justice, and partnership with nations and people around the globe, and stand in stark contrast to those who callously took their lives.
I have directed my Administration to provide all necessary resources to support the security of our personnel in Libya, and to increase security at our diplomatic posts around the globe. While the United States rejects efforts to denigrate the religious beliefs of others, we must all unequivocally oppose the kind of senseless violence that took the lives of these public servants.
On a personal note, Chris was a courageous and exemplary representative of the United States. Throughout the Libyan revolution, he selflessly served our country and the Libyan people at our mission in Benghazi. As Ambassador in Tripoli, he has supported Libya's transition to democracy. His legacy will endure wherever human beings reach for liberty and justice. I am profoundly grateful for his service to my Administration, and deeply saddened by this loss.
The brave Americans we lost represent the extraordinary service and sacrifices that our civilians make every day around the globe. As we stand united with their families, let us now redouble our own efforts to carry their work forward.
QUESTION: This issue has prompted another criticism or more remarks from the Israeli Prime Minister today, and he's specifically asking you and others in the international community: What should we be waiting for? You want us to hold off on doing anything, and we need to know what we should be – how long we should wait?
How do you alleviate those Israeli concerns without some sort of markers in the sand that you won't allow Iran to cross?
MS. NULAND: Well, first, I'm not going to comment today on Prime Minister Netanyahu's statements. But as we said yesterday, we are in continuous consultation with the Government of Israel, with our allies there, on what we are seeing in Iran, on the path forward, and we will continue to do so. But we don't think it's particularly useful to have those conversations in public. It doesn't help the process and it doesn't help the integrity of the diplomacy.
QUESTION: Why is this issue something that needs to be handled privately? With other issues, I mean U.S.-Israeli issues such as settlements you'll make a comment from the podium that's sometimes critical of the Israeli Government's behavior. Why with this one must it be handled privately and not subject to public discussion?
MS. NULAND: Again, to be standing here at the podium parsing the details of the Iranian nuclear program is not helpful to getting where we want to go. But as we have said, we have had incredibly intense, high-level consultations with the Israelis all through this. Certainly, the diplomacy that you saw over the summer with Secretary Clinton there, with Secretary Panetta there, with National Security Advisor Donilon there, speaks to our commitment to this alliance, our commitment to Israel's security, our commitment to working together to ensure, as the President has said, that Iran does not obtain a nuclear weapon. And that commitment remains absolutely firm.
QUESTION: Could you just clarify why you think – I mean, you mentioned yesterday that it's not necessarily helpful. Why are redlines problematic? What's the problem with issuing them?
MS. NULAND: I think I'm going to hold it today, Brad, at saying that it is not useful to do our diplomacy with Israel or with anybody else in public.
QUESTION: Hold on. More broadly, in that statement that you made just after I walked in here, and said it's not – you don't think it's helpful to do diplomacy with Israel or anyone else in public. What are you doing up here every day, then?
MS. NULAND: I'm explaining our national –
QUESTION: Does that mean that you –
MS. NULAND: I'm not doing diplomacy with you, Matt.
QUESTION: That's not –
MS. NULAND: I'm explaining our diplomacy.
QUESTION: Well, that's doing diplomacy.
MS. NULAND: Is it? Okay.
QUESTION: Yeah, it is.
MS. NULAND: So are you a diplomat now, Matt?
QUESTION: The idea of – no, God no. (Laughter). I'm incapable of –
MS. NULAND: I think there was contempt dripping from his voice there.
QUESTION: -- of being that duplicitous.
MS. NULAND: Wow. Wow. Wow.
Psycho: The name's Francis Soyer, but everybody calls me Psycho. Any of you guys call me Francis, and I'll kill you.
Psycho: You just made the list, buddy. And I don't like nobody touching my stuff. So just keep your meat-hooks off. If I catch any of you guys in my stuff, I'll kill you. Also, I don't like nobody touching me. Now, any of you homos touch me, and I'll kill you.
Sergeant Hulka: Lighten up, Francis.
Basically the Muslims are saying. "If I catch any of your guys making cartoons or any sort of drawing of Mohamed, I'll kill you. Also, I don't like nobody making films of Mohamed, either. Now, any of you heretics make a movie, and I'll kill you."
As a civilization our response should be simple. Lighten up Francis!
Libyan officials quoted by Reuters and AP said the ambassador was heading for a safer venue with three other officials after the attack on the consulate, when gunmen fired rockets on their car.
The four were reportedly fleeing after another American was killed by the militants. A witness said attackers fired automatic weapons and rocket-propelled grenades at the consulate as they clashed with Libyans hired to guard the facility.
Where were the Marines who are supposed to be guarding our embassies as if they are US territory? Where were they in Egypt, where our embassy was stormed and our flag replaced with the flag of Al-Qaeda? Did Obama tell them to stand down so as not to create an "international incident"? They should have been there, weapons drawn ready for combat.
And I already know how Obama will handle this, he will denounce the movie producers first and then denounce the violence (assuming he stops campaigning long enough to comment at all). You can already tell that will happen by how Hillary Clinton reacted:
"The United States deplores any intentional effort to denigrate the religious beliefs of others. Our commitment to religious tolerance goes back to the very beginning of our nation. But let me be clear: There is never any justification for violent acts of this kind."And of course there is the infamous reaction of the US Embassy in Cairo to being stormed:
The Embassy of the United States in Cairo condemns the continuing efforts by misguided individuals to hurt the religious feelings of Muslims – as we condemn efforts to offend believers of all religions. Today, the 11th anniversary of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States, Americans are honoring our patriots and those who serve our nation as the fitting response to the enemies of democracy. Respect for religious beliefs is a cornerstone of American democracy. We firmly reject the actions by those who abuse the universal right of free speech to hurt the religious beliefs of others.What about our commitment to Freedom of Speech? Did she forget that one? Should we be apologizing for some third rate YouTube trailer because murderous savages get offended? No. We need to stop giving up our freedom so easily, we should be fighting for our freedom.
Tuesday, September 11, 2012
US Embassy in Cairo Stormed by Protesters Upset by a Movie, Embassy then Denounced the Movie Producers and Not the Violent Mob
The Embassy of the United States in Cairo condemns the continuing efforts by misguided individuals to hurt the religious feelings of Muslims – as we condemn efforts to offend believers of all religions. Today, the 11th anniversary of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States, Americans are honoring our patriots and those who serve our nation as the fitting response to the enemies of democracy. Respect for religious beliefs is a cornerstone of American democracy. We firmly reject the actions by those who abuse the universal right of free speech to hurt the religious beliefs of others.
Apparently the movie in question is being produced by US based Egyptian Coptic Christians and is a Dutch production. I haven't found many details of the movie but apparently it shows Muhammad in a bad light. Yup, the guy who had sex with a 9 year old and murdered thousands is somehow put in a bad light, shocking I know.
In other scary Egypt news, Morsi is a 9/11 truther and will likely use funds freed by a US bailout to purchase attack submarines to challenge the Israelis. I miss Mubarak.
The White House declined Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's request on Tuesday to meet U.S. President Barack Obama during a UN conference in New York at the end of the month.
An official in Jerusalem said that the prime minister's office sent the White House a message stating that although Netanyahu will spend only two and a half days on U.S. soil, he is interested in meeting Obama and is willing to travel to the U.S. capital specifically for that purpose. The official added that the White House rejected the request and said that at this time Obama's schedule does not allow for a meeting.
The White House's response marks a new low in relations between Netanyahu and Obama, underscored by the fact that this is the first time Netanyahu will visit the U.S. as prime minister without meeting the president.
This comes right after Clinton denied Israel's request for "red lines" around the Iranian nuclear program, that if crossed, would trigger US action:
"We're not setting deadlines... we're convinced that we have more time to focus on these sanctions, to do everything we can to bring Iran to a good-faith negotiation."
Luckily for Israel, they have a leader that will not back down, that will refuse to be the victim of appeasement like Czechoslovakia was in 1938. Here are some great comments he made in Bulgaria:
"The world tells Israel to wait because there is still time. And I ask: Wait for what? Until when? Those in the international community who refuse to put red lines before Iran don't have a moral right to place a red light before Israel. If Iran knows that there is no red line or deadline, what will it do? Exactly what it is doing today, i.e., continuing to work unhindered toward achieving a nuclear weapon."
"As of now, we can clearly say that diplomacy and sanctions have not worked. They have hit the Iranian economy but they haven't stopped the Iranian nuclear project. This is a fact. Another fact is that every day Iran gets closer to a nuclear bomb."
Earlier on Tuesday, Deputy Knesset Speaker and Likud MK Danny Danon openly attacked Clinton for her refusal to set a deadline for military action to thwart Iran. Her statement "is a slap in the face [for Israel], the United States' closest ally in the Middle East," he said. "Instead of [the US] standing steadfastly at our side, the secretary's comments only serve to embolden the Iranians and likely hasten their weapons program. We expect more from our American friends, who have pledged close cooperation in combating this radical threat to the free world."