Thursday, August 12, 2010

Breaking News: Will Israel Really Attack Iran Within a Year?

By Natasha Mozgovaya; 10.08.10 - Haaretz
After interviewing dozens of Israeli, American and Arab officials, Atlantic Magazine correspondent concludes Israel may not even ask for American 'green light' to attack Iran nuclear sites.
Israel might attack Iranian nuclear sites within a year, if Iran stays the current course and the U.S. administration doesn't succeed in persuading Israel's leadership that U.S. President Barack Obama is ready to stop Iran by force if necessary, so argues Jeffrey Goldberg in Atlantic magazine's September cover story, obtained by Haaretz ahead of publication.

Based on dozens of interviews the Atlantic correspondent conducted in recent months with Israeli, American and Arab officials, Goldberg came to the conclusion that the likelihood of an Israeli strike has crossed the 50 percent mark. And Israel might not even ask for the famous "green light" from the U.S. - or even give a couple of false pre-attack alerts, so that Washington won't try to stop the unilateral operation.
"…one day next spring, the Israeli national-security adviser, Uzi Arad, and the Israeli defense minister, Ehud Barak, will simultaneously telephone their counterparts at the White House and the Pentagon, to inform them that their prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, has just ordered roughly one hundred F-15Es, F-16Is, F-16Cs, and other aircraft of the Israeli air force to fly east toward Iran - possibly by crossing Saudi Arabia, possibly by threading the border between Syria and Turkey, and possibly by traveling directly through Iraq's airspace, though it is crowded with American aircraft…," Goldberg paints a possible scenario.

The repercussions of such a strike, which could include the bombing of the Iranian facilities in Natanz, Qom, Esfahan, and maybe even the Russian-built reactor in Bushehr, are less than clear, despite the endless discussions and several simulations. American experts speculate that attacking Iran's nuclear facilities will only slightly delay the nuclear program, whereas some Israelis, according to Goldberg, are a bit more optimistic, in light of the successful Israeli operations against Iraqi and Syrian reactors in the past.

The results might be dire: It's likely that the Israeli air force won't have much time to waste in Iran, as Hezbollah will probably retaliate against Israel in the North and the fighter jets will be needed there. The unilateral operation might throw relations between Jerusalem and Washington into an unprecedented crisis, and might even unleash full-scale regional war with possible economic repercussions for the whole world, not to mention the cost of human lives.

The timetable in this issue is an evasive one - the red lines were pushed back again and again, and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told New York Times reporters this week: "Based on my conversations with allies, it's not so much the timing of when or how the Iranians might pursue the nuclear weapons, it's whether they do so. And so whether it would take six months, a year, or five years, it's that deep concern about Iran acquiring nuclear weapons that is the preoccupation of our friends and partners. And we would be pursuing the path we're pursuing regardless of any issue of timing because we think it's got the best potential for changing Iranian behavior."

According to Goldberg, for Israel the red lines are clear. The end of December is Netanyahu's deadline to estimate the success of "non-military methods to stop Iran."

And while Rahm Emanuel, the White House chief of staff, reminded Goldberg that "the expression 'All options are on the table' means that all options are on the table," - the Israeli interviewees repeatedly questioned Obama's resolve to actually do it. Some even asked Goldberg if he thought the American president was actually an anti-Semite, forcing the reporter to explain that Obama is probably "the first Jewish President" – but not necessarily Likud's idea of a Jew.

But the reply he got from one official was: "This is the problem. If he is a J Street Jew, we are in trouble."
Ben Rhodes, a deputy national security adviser, stressed that "This president has shown again and again that when he believes it is necessary to use force to protect American national security interests, he has done so" - but the Israeli government might need stronger assurances.

Israel is trying to convey the message not only through the official channels - Israeli military intelligence chief Major General Amos Yadlin visited Chicago recently to meet with the billionaire Lester Crown, one of Obama’s supporters, and asked to him to convey Israel's concerns to the American President, Goldberg reports.

"If the choice is between allowing Iran to go nuclear, or trying for ourselves what Obama won't try, then we probably have to try,” one senior Israeli official told Goldberg. Basically, the Israeli military officials agreed that it would be tough for Israel to do it alone – but on the other hand, the conclusion is Netanyahu might well risk this operation and alienation of his closest ally if he becomes convinced Iran's nuclear bomb "represents a threat like a Shoah."

Goldberg delves into Netanyahu’s relations with his father – the historical lessons he learned from Ben-Zion Netanyahu – and his eagerness not to disappoint him. He also offers a long list of Iran's verbal hostilities toward Israel to remind his readers that Israel is not personally obsessed with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

"I once asked Ali Asghar Soltanieh, a leading Iranian diplomat who is now Iran’s ambassador to the International Atomic Energy Agency, why the leadership of Iran persistently described Israel not as a mere regional malefactor but as a kind of infectious disease. 'Do you disagree?' he asked. 'Do you not see that this is true?'" Goldberg writes.
A recent poll conducted in six Arab countries showed a shift of opinion in favor of the Iranian nuclear weapon – views that the Arab leadership clearly doesn’t share with the street.
For Netanyahu, it's clear the bomb will not only strengthen Iran's proxies, but will undermine Israel’s status as a safe haven for Jews, embolden terrorists all over the word, and make the Arab countries more reluctant to make peace with Israel.

According to Goldberg, all the Arab officials he spoke to didn’t think that the U.S. administration truly understood Iran's ambitions. “The best way to avoid striking Iran is to make Iran think that the U.S. is about to strike Iran. We have to know the president’s intentions on this matter. We are his allies," one Arab minister told Goldberg.

Dennis Ross, special adviser to the U.S. president, told the Atlantic that imposing sanctions on Iran could work, despite Israeli doubts, because the Iranian government already faces public alienation. "They are looking at the costs of trying to maintain control over a disaffected public. They wanted to head off sanctions because they knew that sanctions would be a problem. There is real potential here to affect their calculus. We’re pursuing a path right now that has some potential."

Last week, Obama unexpectedly joined a White House briefing for a small group of senior reporters in Washington, raising questions whether he intended to convey some new message to Iran or hint at some new initiative. The accounts of the meetings were somewhat different, and the final impression was that there still is no answer for the question, what President Obama is ready to do if sanctions fail.

David Sanger, the New York Times reporter, heard from the White House sources that during his latest visit to Washington Netanyahu didn't list Iran as one of his top agenda items "whereas at the previous meetings when he has come here, [Iran] was the number one, two, and three issue," on the agenda, which might indicate that Netanyahu got some clear reassurances from the U.S. administration.

New Jobless Claims Highest Since February

From a shocked Associated Press:

New claims for unemployment aid reach 484K

August 12, 2010
WASHINGTON – New applications for unemployment insurance rose last week to their highest level in almost six months, a sign that employers are still cutting their staffs.
The Labor Department says first-time claims for jobless benefits edged up by 2,000 to a seasonally adjusted 484,000. Analysts had expected a drop.
Will we ever learn who these perpetually wrong analysts are? Are their names Christiana Romer and Jared Bernstein, by any chance?
That’s the highest total since the week of Feb. 20.
Initial claims have now risen in three of the last four weeks and are close to their high point for the year of 490,000, reached in late January.
The four-week average, which smooths [sic] volatility, soared by 14,250 to 473,500, also the highest since late February.
The total number of people receiving benefits dropped 118,000 to 4.45 million, the department said.
Needless to say, those economic mavens at Reuters were completely taken by surprise, as well:

Jobless claims unexpectedly rise in latest week

August 12, 2010
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The number of people filing new claims for unemployment insurance unexpectedly rose in the latest week to its highest level in close to six months, a fresh signal of a weak jobs market.
The number of new claims for jobless benefits rose 2,000 to 484,000 in the week ended August 7, the second straight increase, Labor Department data showed on Thursday.
The four-week moving average, which economists prefer because it smoothes out weekly fluctuations, rose 14,250 to 473,500, also the highest level since the week ended February 20.
Economists polled by Reuters had expected claims in the latest week to fall to 465,000 from the previously reported 479,000.
The number of people still collecting unemployment benefits after an initial week of aid in the week ended July 31 fell 118,000 to 4.45 million, the lowest level since late June. Economists had expected 4.53 million. The four-week moving average of continuing claims fell 64,500 to 4.52 million, the lowest level since December 2008.
Because of people falling off the jobless benefits rolls.

Sports: David Beckham ‘too old to play’ for England

International football star David Beckham,35, has been cast-off by Italian coach Fabio Capello as “too old to play” for the English squad.

Capello who said so to the international press seemed to have forgotten to let Beckham in on his plans.
“I’m sure someone will have phoned him now. We tried to speak to him but we couldn’t. I will speak to him soon.”
Capello said Beckham could play once more for England at Wembley so fans could pay tribute to the ex-skipper.

If Israel attacks Iran

A long but fascinating article by Jeffrey Goldberg at the Atlantic examines the prospect of an Israeli air strike against Iran, to forestall the acquisition by that country of nuclear weapons, threatening the very existence of Israel itself. Goldberg's sketching of the possibilities is not only fascinating, it is also extremely grim:
When the Israelis begin to bomb the uranium-enrichment facility at Natanz, the formerly secret enrichment site at Qom, the nuclear-research center at Esfahan, and possibly even the Bushehr reactor, along with the other main sites of the Iranian nuclear program, a short while after they depart en masse from their bases across Israel - regardless of whether they succeed in destroying Iran's centrifuges and warhead and missile plants, or whether they fail miserably to even make a dent in Iran's nuclear program - they stand a good chance of changing the Middle East forever; of sparking lethal reprisals, and even a full-blown regional war that could lead to the deaths of thousands of Israelis and Iranians, and possibly Arabs and Americans as well; of creating a crisis for Barack Obama that will dwarf Afghanistan in significance and complexity; of rupturing relations between Jerusalem and Washington, which is Israel's only meaningful ally; of inadvertently solidifying the somewhat tenuous rule of the mullahs in Tehran; of causing the price of oil to spike to cataclysmic highs, launching the world economy into a period of turbulence not experienced since the autumn of 2008, or possibly since the oil shock of 1973; of placing communities across the Jewish diaspora in mortal danger, by making them targets of Iranian-sponsored terror attacks, as they have been in the past, in a limited though already lethal way; and of accelerating Israel's conversion from a once-admired refuge for a persecuted people into a leper among nations.
One might think that the prospect of all this, in conjunction with the considerations that (a) an Iranian nuclear strike against Israel would almost certainly kill Palestinians as well as Jews in large numbers, and (b) could lead, by retaliation, to the virtual obliteration of Tehran and other major Iranian population centres, will restrain Israel from acting unilaterally and preemptively. However, Israel's political and military leaders may fear they cannot rely on Ahmadinejad and co's calculations being governed by purely rational strategic calculations of this sort given the theocratic, Holocaust-denying and eliminationist sentiments the man has already given out. 

I have no 'balancing' or encouraging thoughts - none at all - to offer in response to Goldberg's piece. It's, as I've already said, grim. One element in his forecast that I fear is likely to be spot on: an attack by Israel on Iran will increase the scope and vehemence of anti-Semitism everywhere. To that I would only add that the numbers of people finding it inconvenient to identify the anti-Semitism for what it is and condemn and fight against it as such, and the numbers willing to find it 'understandable' in the circumstances, these would also most likely increase.

Fresh Air News

The Summer of 2010 is almost over, but The Fresh Air Fund still needs loving host families. We are looking for families in the following areas to host THIS summer Red Hook, Columbia County, Saugerties, Delmar, Guilderland & Altamont, Latham and Rensselaer, NY.  If you or someone you know is able to host, please sign up now.

In 2009, The Fresh Air Fund's Volunteer Host Family program, called Friendly Town, gave close to 5,000 New York City boys and girls, ages six to 18, free summer experiences in the country and the suburbs. Volunteer host families shared their friendship and homes up to two weeks or more in 13 Northeastern states from Virginia to Maine and Canada.

The Fresh Air Fund relies on donations to provide memorable summers to NYC children.

The Fresh Air Fund still needs hosts for the summer of 2010.

Thanks to host families who open up their homes for a few weeks each summer, children growing up in New York City’s toughest neighborhoods have experienced the joys of Fresh Air experiences.

Fresh Air Fund Host Families

"It is rewarding to see the smile on our Fresh Air child's face as she enjoys the simple things we take for granted..." 

Friendly Town host families are volunteers who live in the suburbs or small town communities. Host families range in size, ethnicity and background, but share the desire to open their hearts and homes to give city children an experience they will never forget. Hosts say the Fresh Air experience is as enriching for their own families, as it is for the inner-city children. There are no financial requirements for hosting a child. Volunteers may request the age-group and gender of the Fresh Air youngster they would like to host. Stories about real Fresh Air host families and their New York City visitors are just a click away!

Click here to learn more about becoming a host or call (800) 367-0003!

Fresh Air Children

"We made s'mores and hot dogs over the fire. I've never cooked outside before!"

Fresh Air children are boys and girls, six to 18 years old, who live in New York City. Children on first-time visits are six to 12 years old and stay for either one or two weeks. Youngsters who are re-invited by the same family may continue with The Fund through age 18, and many enjoy longer summertime visits, year after year. A visit to the home of a warm and loving volunteer host family can make all the difference in the world to an inner-city child. All it takes to create lifelong memories is laughing in the sunshine and making new friends.

The majority of Fresh Air children are from low-income communities. These are often families without the resources to send their children on summer vacations. Most inner-city youngsters grow up in towering apartment buildings without large, open, outdoor play spaces. Concrete playgrounds cannot replace the freedom of running barefoot through the grass or riding bikes down country lanes.

Fresh Air children are registered by more than 90 participating social service and community organizations located in disadvantaged neighborhoods in the five boroughs of New York City. These community-based agencies are in close contact with children in need of summer experiences in rural and suburban areas. Each agency is responsible for registering children for the program.

What do Fresh Air children enjoy?

  • Playing in the backyard
  • Laughing in the sunshine
  • Catching fireflies
  • Riding bicycles
  • Learning to swim
  • Running barefoot through the grass
  • Gazing at the stars on moonlit nights
  • Building sandcastles
  • Making new friends
  • Simple pleasures of life away from the inner-city

You can give a child the experience of a
lifetime with your gift to The Fresh Air Fund!

Every year, The Fresh Air Fund gives thousands of inner-city children the priceless gift of fun – and opens the door to a lifetime of opportunities.

Whether it's a two-week trip to visit a volunteer host family, or a fun-filled and educational stay at one of our camps, our programs make for unforgettable memories – and open a world of new friendships and fresh possibilities.

We are a not-for-profit agency and depend on tax-deductible donations from people like you to keep our vital programs flourishing.

Donate online now.

LeBron Gets Heckled…At An Amusement Park

In this era of sport where athletes’ images are managed and manicured like the lawn of that old guy that use to live across the street from me, LeBron James stands out. The 25-year-old ruffled some feathers in his departure from northeast Ohio, and those feathers let him know it when Bron-Bron made a recent trip to nearby amusement park Cedar Point.
hear a woman yelling “I bet you miss” and a guy chiming in “‘Bron shoot left-handed, your elbow hurts” and “Just like Game 5.” I think the warm reception at his bike-a-thon over the weekend gave LeBron the idea things were back to normal for him in Ohio. Just like the decision to do “The Decision,” he was wrong.” –You Been Blinded, via Waiting For Next Year.
Wow. Nice work, Cleveland. You showed him. But is James really that big of a dick for finding a situation where he doesn’t have to work as hard to win a championship? TBL says that the act (the “decision,” if you will) of migrating to Miami is enough to win James anti-hero status. But then Shoals takes umbrage with that in the way that only Shoals can, by announcing his disagreement with the sentiment in an argument with no supporting points. But he did write something about Charles Bronson, which is great for all of his Polish readers, I suppose.
Your video is after the jump.

76ers hire Rod Thorn as team president By DAN GELSTON

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — The Philadelphia 76ers have hired Rod Thorn as team president.
The Sixers also said Thursday that Ed Stefanski will stay as general manager. Stefanski had held both roles since replacing Billy King in December 2007. King succeeded Thorn as New Jersey’s GM last month.
Thorn was president and general manager of the Nets for 10 years before leaving in early July. Thorn and Stefanski worked together in New Jersey and helped lead the franchise to consecutive trips to the NBA finals. The Nets lost both times.

“There’s been a lot of speculation that I was retired,” Thorn said. “I was never retired. I retired from the Nets.”

Sixers chairman Ed Snider says the organization was excited to add one of the NBA’s “top executives.” The Sixers went 27-55 last year and missed the playoffs for the first time in three seasons.

Thorn was contacted by Snider only a week after he left the Nets.
Thorn had called the shots for the Nets since 2000 and hired Avery Johnson as coach before resigning. Thorn helped turn the Nets into a contender in 2001 when he engineered a trade to bring Jason Kidd to New Jersey.

Before joining the Nets, Thorn was the NBA’s executive vice president of basketball operations from 1986-2000.

This is the latest big move this summer for the Sixers after they missed the playoffs last year. They fired coach Eddie Jordan after one season and replaced him with Doug Collins. Then they traded disgruntled center Sam Dalembert and drafted Ohio State guard Evan Turner with the No. 2 overall pick.

“We could always use some more, but I like some of the pieces that we have,” Thorn said.
Stefanski said after the season the Sixers took an “unacceptable” step backward in finishing 27-55 and missing the playoffs for the first time in three seasons.

“We don’t want to take any more steps backward,” Thorn said. “We want to take steps forward.

K-Rod Assaults Father-in-Law at Ball Park

That's my no good son in law T...what an a-hole..
New York Mets pitcher Francisco Rodriguez is in custody after what police called a "physical assault" with his father-in-law after the Mets' 6-2 loss to the Colorado Rockies at Citi Field Wednesday.."There was an incident at the ballpark between Francisco Rodriguez and his family. He was questioned by police and all other questions pertaining to this matter can be addressed to police," Mets spokesman Jay Horwitz said...The 28-year-old pitcher signed a three-year, $37 million contract with the Mets after posting a record 62 saves with the Angels in 2008. He is 4-2 with 25 saves and a 2.24 ERA this season..In his short stint with the Mets, he's had previous confrontations with a team official, a coach and an opponent in his 1½ seasons with the Mets, though none of them reached this level...His father-in-law went to a hospital with a scrape on his face and a bump on his head...Can't wait to see them at their next holiday dinner..sounds pretty uncomfortable..-TO

Breaking News: Jury in Blago Case Says it’s Hung

Ex-Gov. Blago while in office/official photo
Ex-Gov. Blago while in office/official photo
By Allan Lengel
The federal jury in the public corruption case of Ex-Ill. Gov. Rod Blagojevich has told the judge its is deadlocked on all counts, according to the Chicago News Cooperative.

The Associated Press reported that they appeared to be hung on just some counts.

The jurors sent a note to the judge asking for guidance. The judge said he needed more clarification, the news cooperative reported. The judge summarized the content of the note in open court around 4:15, Chicago time.
“In a situation where jurors can’t agree on given counts, what should the next logical step be?” the jurors asked, according to the Chicago Sun-Times. “We’ve gone beyond reasonable attempts without rancor.”

The jury has been deliberating for 11 days. Blagojevich was indicted on 24 counts including allegations that he tried to sell the Senate seat vacated by President Obama.

Justice Dept: One of the International Kings of Credit Card Theft Data Captured in France

credit_cardsBy Allan Lengel
For AOL News
WASHINGTON – A resident of Moscow, “BadB” lived the glamorous life, hopping jets to Europe, freely spending money — even as U.S. authorities marked him as one of the world’s “most prolific sellers” of stolen credit card data.

French authorities arrested Vladislav Anatolievich Horohorin, 27, at the airport in Nice this weekend. Federal law enforcement authorities said he had apparently been living it up on the French Riviera. At the time of the arrest, they said, he was carrying some casino-issued cards that give high rollers additional privileges.
The arrest was trumpeted today as a big catch for authorities working to crack down on the ever-growing and menacing problem of credit-card data and identity theft, though officials provided no financial estimates on the losses involved.

To read more click here.

Marshals Say Az Esacapee and Accomplice May Have Changed Look

John McCluskey/marshal photo
John McCluskey/marshal photo
How McCluskey might look
How McCluskey might look
By Allan Lengel

Arizona prison escapee John Charles McCluskey and his companion Casslyn Welch have changed their appearance, the U.S. Marshals Service said Wednesday.

The Marshals Service issued a statement Wednesday saying that  McCluskey now has black hair and a beard and Welch has dyed her hair blonde.

The Marshals Service said investigators have been focusing their hunt in Western Montana and Southwest Canada.

McCluskey, 45, Tracy Province,42, and Daniel Renwick, 35, escaped from the Arizona State Prison in Kingman on July 30. Authorities believe Casslyn Welch, 43, assisted them in the escape.  U.S. Marshals had received tips that McCluskey and Welch were sighted east of Glacier National Park near the Canadian border.

On Aug. 1, Renwick was arrested in Rifle, Colo. after a brief car chase and firing a gun at police. Tracy Province was captured Monday in Wyoming after a woman in a church recognized him from television news broadcasts.

Authorities suspect  the escapees may have been responsible for the murders of an elderly couple at a campground in Santa Rosa, Calif.

FBI Nabs “Grandad Bandit” in Louisiana; Time to Retire

Grandad Bandit/fbi photo

Grandad Bandit/fbi photo

By Allan Lengel

Looks like the prolific “Grandad Bandit”, suspected of at least 25 bank robberies in 13 states in less than two years, is retiring involuntarily – and not to Florida to enjoy the early bird specials.

The FBI said agents arrested the bandit, aka Michael Francis Mara, 52, of Baton Rouge, La., in Baton Rouge on Wednesday following a stand off for hours.

Maria Glod of the Washington Post reported that agents and local police had surrounded a home in Baton Rouge Wednesday morning, and that Mara had a weapon and threatened to harm himself. But he peacefully surrendered by around 4:30 p.m.

“A tip to the FBI made today’s arrest possible,” said U.S. Attorney Neil H. MacBride of Alexandria.

Michael Morehart, special agent in charge of the Richmond office, said in a statement : “This arrest would not have been possible without the assistance of civic-minded citizens and the publicity provided by radio stations and print media and the coordination of digital billboards by the Outdoor Advertising Association of America.”

Authorities said Mara “would enter a bank without a disguise, patiently wait in line, and then present a demand note to a bank teller. Once the demands were met, Mara allegedly would retrieve the demand note and exit the bank quietly.”

Babies of Illegal Aliens make up 8 percent of US Births

This probably represents some real costs imposed on state government in education and other costs.

One in twelve babies born in the U.S. in 2008 were the offspring of illegal immigrants, according to a new study, a statistic that could inflame the debate over birthright citizenship.

Undocumented immigrants make up slightly more than 4% of the U.S. adult population. However, their babies represented twice that share, or 8%, of all births on U.S. soil in 2008, according to the nonpartisan Pew Research Center’s report.

“Unauthorized immigrants are younger than the rest of the population, are more likely to be married and have higher fertility rates than the rest of the population,” said Jeffrey Passel, a senior demographer at Pew in Washington, D.C. . . .

See also this article.
posted by John Lott

Violence Ensues as Dependents Line Up for Housing Assistance

By Lonely Conservative

If the Democrats have their way, we’ll be seeing scenes like this one all across the republic.
AJC: A crowd of people hoping to get federal housing assistance became unruly Wednesday morning with reports of fights breaking out in the crowd.

Thousands of people were lined up at the Tri-Cities Plaza shopping center, hoping to apply for a voucher from the East Point Housing Authority that will give them a discount on their rent.

People began lining up at the shopping center two days ago, and by Wednesday morning the crowd had grown to over several thousand people. East Point police, some wearing riot helmets, were patrolling the area. Firefighters and EMTs were attending to people who were overheating in the sun. Police from College Park, Hapeville, Fulton County and MARTA assisted in crowd control.

Felecia McGhee told the AJC she arrived around 6:30 a.m. Wednesday. She said the major problem began when people started breaking into the line and officials started moving the areas where they were handing out applications. She said she saw at least two small children trampled when the crowd rushed the building where the applications were to be handed out.
“It’s a real mess out here,” she said.
This is the legacy of the progressives and their “war on poverty” – more poverty, more violence, more dependency. But at least the teachers unions are happy.

Robert Gibbs Was Right

Watching Robert Gibbs go after the Professional Left, and the Professional Left firing back, certainly has been amusing.

But I'll have to stand up for Gibbs, at least in his first heart-felt salvo.

Gibbs made two related points. First, that the Professional Left is "crazy" to attack Obama, and second, that the Professional Left is unrealistic as to what could be accomplished presently.

Was he wrong? I don't think so. Obama has accomplished as much as he could given that the country leans heavily conservative.

Does anyone doubt that if Obama could have passed a public option as part of Obamacare that he would have done so? In fact, does anyone doubt that if Obama could wave a magic wand and institute a single-payer system overnight, that Obama would do so?

There is a reality in this country to which the Professional Left, cloistered in its epistemically closed universe, is oblivious: Most people do not agree with the Professional Left.

The 2008 election was many things, but it was not an endorsement of a progressive agenda. What didn't you understand about New Jersey, Virginia, Massachusetts and Missouri?

Obama has accomplished as much as he could for you. He has put in place laws which will enable him to accomplish through regulation that which he could not accomplish through legislation. Obama is playing the long game, and you are short-sighted.

Even what the Professional Left considers too little, too late, has provoked a strong backlash which threatens Democratic Party control and the completion of Obama's agenda.

Obama is doing the best he can to advance the Professional Left's agenda against the will of the American people. Give the guy a break.

harlie Rangel’s Birthday Fundraiser Sounds Like It Was A Blast

Just two days after his jaw-dropping 30-minute speech on the House floor regarding his pending ethics trial, Rep. Charlie Rangel was back in New York to celebrate his 80th birthday with a politically star-studded fundraiser.

Despite the fact that his birthday was in June (and, you know, those ethics charges) everyone seemed to be celebrating in good spirits – including Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Rev. Al Sharpton and Rangel himself.

Bloomberg joked: “I know a few people couldn’t be here tonight, because as they tell it, either they had to get a haircut unexpectedly, or they were sure they’d have a headache. But Charlie, as you know, they were with you as long as they could be.”

Sharpton turned his attention to the media in attendance. “You have started and executed a political execution, but stay tuned for the political resurrection,” he said, to cheers from the crowd.

When Rangel got to the microphone, he noted “this damn sure ain’t no funeral!”
Here are more details from Politico:
Rangel’s campaign said it had sold out the event’s roughly 800 tickets (though slightly fewer than that attended). Guests munched on buffet-style meals of beef, seasoned vegetables and risotto (there was also a Kosher table). Rangel blew out candles on a massive birthday cake.
The event had been plagued by bad news and expectations of weakened attendance in the leadup to it. Even the headliner, Aretha Franklin, had to cancel thanks to an injury. Dionne Warwick filled in and sang a few songs, including “That’s What Friends Are For.”
That what friends are for, indeed.
Joe Scarborough, discussing the party: “I’ve always liked Charlie, he’s an American hero, his story in the Korean War. He’s guilty as hell, but it was very moving.”
Happy birthday Charlie! What’d you wish for? Here’s Morning Joe’s segment on it this morning.

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

by Steve Krakauer

Perseid meteor shower peaks tonight Posted by Phillip Torrone

 Pubd 2001 03 15 0001166699 Perseid3 Sk Big
Perseid meteor shower peaks tonight Jillian @ Boston Herald writes -
Instead of staring at the TV late Thursday night, how about staring at the sky? Stargazing is on the agenda for many people this week with the annual Perseid meteor shower reaching its peak late Thursday and into early Friday.

While some local events will provide access to telescopes, they’re unnecessary during the shower -- anyone can catch the show, said David McDonald, director of education at the McAuliffe-Shepard Discovery Center in Concord, N.H..

"You never know where they’re going to appear," McDonald said. "When they do appear, they’re moving pretty quickly. Telescope views would be just happenstance, and very lucky."
The meteors are best viewed with the naked eye and from the ground. "Go outside, lie down," McDonald said. "Do not stand and cock your neck back."

Iran-Israel-US: Goldberg Journalism “If You Build This War, It Will Come”

I have read the “analysis” that may well dominate US-based chatter today: Jeffrey Goldberg’s lengthy projection of high-level Israeli opinion on a aerial attack on Iran. Here’s Goldberg’s hook-line:
What is [most] likely…is that one day next spring, the Israeli national-security adviser, Uzi Arad, and the Israeli defense minister, Ehud Barak, will simultaneously telephone their counterparts at the White House and the Pentagon, to inform them that their prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, has just ordered roughly one hundred F-15Es, F-16Is, F-16Cs, and other aircraft of the Israeli air force to fly east toward Iran — possibly by crossing Saudi Arabia, possibly by threading the border between Syria and Turkey, and possibly by traveling directly through Iraq’s airspace, though it is crowded with American aircraft.
Let’s call this for what it is. Jeffrey Goldberg is not functioning as an analyst here. He is not even carrying out the fundamental task of a reporter. He is serving as a spokesman for the Israeli Government in its attempt to put psychological pressure on Iran, to block any resumption of talks on uranium enrichment, and possibly to push Washington into acceptance of, if not support for, Israel’s military action.

Goldberg’s piece has no substance as a critique of the political, diplomatic, and military situation, for it is void of any information of — as opposed to rhetoric about — the state of Iran’s nuclear programme and its international strategy. It is void of any information about Washington’s perspective and approach, including the option — very much “on the table”, to use the cliche invoked for military action — of discussions with Tehran.

“The Arabs” do appear for a couple of sentences, but only to have their perspectives simplified and twisted into support of an Israeli attack.

Goldberg’s sole attention is to pass on and elevate the rhetoric of the Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, and his advisors. (The author claims authority from 40+ interviews with Israelis inside and outside the government, but they are merely murmurs amidst the loud declarations of Netanyahu and equally loud projection by Goldberg.)
It may well be that Israel has decided on military action by next spring, but we don’t know that and neither does Goldberg. All we really know — and I hope, for the sake of some integrity, so does he — is that the Israeli leadership want him to think that.

And they want him to write that — in an “intellectual” US periodical, where the New York-Washington political corridor will pick this us as received wisdom, rather than a slick propaganda operation.
I don’t write this note as a rejection of the military option. However, if a writer is going to advocate that option, it should be done so openly and honestly, not disguised as “reportage”. It should be done so on the basis of information from a range of sources, locations, and perspectives, not as a conduit for the manoeuvres of one actor in the political drama.

If Goldberg’s piece receives undeserved attention as a considered definition of the state of the Iran-Israel-US relationship, then I will post a detailed dissection of its artifices and distortions.
But not now. Because for me, if one is concerned with news and, indeed, issues of justice and humanity, there are matters far more important — yes, more important than boys-and-toys posturing on aerial warfare — to attend to today, tomorrow, and the day after that.

Posted by Scott Lucas

Video: Person of Interest Arrested in Serial Stabbings

A man trying to board a flight to Israel was taken into custody Wednesday night in Atlanta in connection with the stabbings of 20 people in three states, police said.

Joe Siano Libertarian For Congress: On Same Sex Marriage

The recent court ruling on Proposition 8 has put same sex marriage back on the national front burner.

Is it any wonder that marriage has become politicized? Everything that government touches becomes a political battleground including education, charity, tax codes, medical and scientific research and on and on.

In education the politicians battle over how schools get funded, what money goes to which schools, who gets paid what and what gets taught and not taught. Government undermined private charity with welfare and created an entitlement culture. Recipients are no longer grateful for relief; they are resentful that they don’t get more. The tax code is no longer just a device to fund government services; it is a carrot to reward friends and a stick to punish enemies. The field of publicly funded research is a sausage mill turning tax dollars into pork.

Pat Benatar sang that Love is a Battlefield but I don’t think she had the current controversy in mind. Let’s compare the libertarian perspective on marriage to that of other political orientations. As we do so, let’s keep in mind the question of just what is government’s role in marriage anyway?

Social conservatives see stable and loving families as they the bedrock institution of society. It is though stable and loving families that society is renewed and that children are properly nurtured, socialized and educated. This should be obvious to anyone. These social conservatives see same sex marriage as a corrosive force that will further undermine the fabric of American life. They will use government’s authority to prevent same sex marriage from becoming the law of the land. They appeal to the “will of the people” through polls and elections.

Left liberals want to use the same governmental force to put same sex marriage on an equal footing with traditional marriage. Through the courts, they appeal to the Constitution’s “equal protection” clause claiming that marriage is a fundamental right. In doing so, liberals coyly redefine the age old definition of marriage from a union of a man and woman to a union of any two consenting adults. One also suspects that this is a position of convenience for liberals and not a matter of firm principle as President Obama himself sticks with the traditional man-woman formula.

Finally, in some authoritarian nations, government plays a very heavy handed role in marriage by dictating who may marry whom and how many children they can have. We saw this in Nazi Germany, the Islamic World and the People’s Republic of China

So what do libertarians think? Let’s step back to consider just what marriage is and how that relates to government.

From an anthropological perspective, marriage is a social institution that predates any nation, government or religion. This institution laid the foundation of society and culture by making men responsible for the care, protection and feeding of their vulnerable mates and offspring. Although homosexuality undoubtedly also existed since time immemorial, no parallel institution emerged. Perhaps this is because the need to protect mothers and offspring did not exist in homosexual unions.

Various religions have differing perspectives on marriage. Perhaps it would be fair enough to generalize the religious outlook as a sworn commitment before the Creator. Government has no role in this, nor can it force any sect or denomination to alter its dogma. Churches are free to bless or condemn any unions that they please.

Finally, marriage is a social contract between people that carries with it an array of obligations that each party owes to the other. Libertarians believe that government has a compelling and legitimate interest in enforcing contracts as they are the basis of civil society. Without faith in contracts, our entire social and economic structure falls to pieces. Like most Americans, libertarians believe that any two adults of sound mind are free to enter into any contract that they choose. Once they do so, the terms of said contract are enforceable by the courts should one party on another try to welsh on the deal.

Thus, although we tend to refer to homosexual partnerships as civil unions, it is in fact true that each and every marriage is a civil union and open to any adult. The name “marriage” is a sacred obligation that is conferred by a church or may simply be a term of convenience used conversationally by any two committed partners.

Libertarians believe that each and every individual has the right to commit him or herself to a lifetime contract with another and that the state has the obligation to uphold that agreement.

Siano for Congress
c/o The Sawtooth Group
100 Woodbridge Center Drive -
Suite 102
Woodbridge, NJ 07095

The Hidden Tragedy of the CIA's Experiments on Children

Mary is only five years old. She sits on a small, straight-backed chair, moving her legs back and forth, humming the same four notes over and over and over. Her head, framed in a tangled mass of golden curls, moves up and down with each note. For the first three years of her life, Mary was thought to be a mostly normal child. Then, after she began behaving oddly, she had been handed off to a foster family. Her father and mother didn't want her any longer. She had become too strange for her father, whose alcoholism clouded any awareness of his young daughter. Mary's mother had never wanted her anyway and was happy to have her placed in another home. When the LSD Mary has been given begins to have its effects, she stops moving her head and legs and sits staring at the wall. She doesn't move at all. After about ten minutes, she looks at the nearby physician observing her, and says, "God isn't coming back today. He's too busy. He won't be back here for weeks".'