September 4th, 2011
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September 4th, 2011
The Washington Times / Dr. Milton Wolf
My father used to tell me that if I worked hard, it would pay off in the long run. How could he have been so blind? Laziness pays off now!
We all know that the power to tax is the power to destroy. So too is the power to regulate. Equally powerful is the reality that rewarded behavior is repeated. After applying these inescapable truths to the analysis of Obamanomics, a collection of policies designed to reward or deter (or even outright banish) certain behaviors - to ordain winners and losers - it's all clear to me now. The reason Obamanomics has been such a miserable failure is that I failed to follow its cues. I hope America will forgive me.
First, despite so many communities lacking a village organizer, I chose instead to serve mine. At the time, the practice of medicine seemed like a noble calling, but little did I realize what a threat physicians pose to communities. Surgeons, President Obama warned, will run around lopping off patients' feet or yanking out children's tonsils just to pocket a quick buck. I realize that many of you parents who have unsuccessfully pleaded to your child's pediatrician for a tonsillectomy will disagree, but who are you to judge? The president doesn't trust you or your doctor to decide such things. Why else would he appoint as the head of Medicare a man who declared that the doctor-patient relationship is "no longer tenable"?
What's worse - at least in Obamaworld - is that I, like most physicians, have two jobs: I'm also responsible for a business that creates jobs and employs some great Americans. This despite our government's burdensome taxes, regulations and licenses, which already have created formidable obstacles to entrepreneurial success. You don't believe me? Try launching a company or getting a new drug approved. Heck, try starting a lemonade stand. As if these barriers weren't enough already, Obamanomics increases taxes, regulatory burdens and uncertainties that weigh heavily on each new hire. And yet I stubbornly ignore the president's incentives by keeping many good people employed. In my defense, however, medical practices today have to hire their own in-house bureaucracies just to cope with the demands of Washington's bureaucracies. You might think it would be nice if health care money went to, you know, health care, but don't be naive - your government knows best.
Embarrassingly, I must confess that I balance my own budget, both personal and professional. I realize that's anathema to Obamanomics, but I just can't escape my vice of fiscal sanity. What's more, even though there's "shovel-ready" money to be had from "Obama's stash," I stubbornly insist on paying my own bills. This sometimes leads to difficult choices: I'm the only doctor in America, for example, who drives a car officially declared a "clunker" by his own cousin-in-chief, but I'm from the branch of the family that doesn't believe in spending money you don't have - plus, I love my SUV. Still, the undeniable reality is that according to the Obama way of thinking, I obviously sabotaged our economy when I undercut the stimulus and its related gimmicks like "Cash for Clunkers" by refusing to participate in the giveaways.
Worst of all, however, I have become the single greatest impediment to Americans' prosperity in Obamaworld: a high-wage earner. That I clawed my way toward the American dream with humbling jobs since the age of 12, volunteered for a grinding decade of medical training and lived more of my adult years deep in the bottom rungs of incomes than the top, I know now, is no excuse. Obamanomics is about spreading the wealth, not creating it. In my defense, wildly increased taxes, stifling malpractice insurance and even steep medical school loans have worked wonders to erase the gains. Still, Mr. Obama claims that families earning more than $250,000 a year are "millionaires and billionaires." Who knew? Those tax-free corporate jets can't be far behind.
Of course, I'm not alone. Tens of millions of Americans are frustrating the socialist aspirations of this president simply by getting up each morning and going to work. You know who you are. You're not just suckers, you're saboteurs. Barack Obama would prefer we all be wards of the state rather than active producers. How else can you explain the incentives he champions: endless jobless benefits, cradle-to-grave welfare handouts, "tax cuts" for non-taxpayers, and on and on. Thus proclaims the president who himself raked in a cool $7.2 million over the past two years, "I do think at a certain point you've made enough money." The key word there is "you."
Obamanomics hasn't failed America; we've failed it. We refused to become the wards of the state as it demands. I cling (though not bitterly) to my belief that America would be better served if Barack Obama concentrated more on spreading my work ethic than my wealth. I now realize that by serving my community rather than organizing it, by creating jobs and wealth and by holding dear the American dream, I have sabotaged Obamanomics. I hope America will forgive me.
Dr. Milton R. Wolf, a Washington Times columnist, is a cousin of President Obama's. He blogs at MiltonWolf.com.
September 4th, 2011
Christians United for Israel
Benjamin Netanyahu adamant that Israel’s actions during 2010 Gaza flotilla raid fall within its right to self-defense. Jerusalem regrets loss of life, he says; ‘I hope we can mend our relations with Turkey’
“Israel has the right to defend itself,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Sunday, in his first official reaction to Turkey’s decision to downgrade its diplomatic relations with Israel, following the release of the UN’s Palmer Report.
“We do not have to apologize for the fact that Naval Commandos defended themselves,” Netanyahu said during Sunday’s cabinet meeting.
The UN’s report, he said, proved what Israel already knew: “We have the full and basic right to defend ourselves from a violent IHH attack, and we don’t have to apologize for trying to prevent arms smuggling to Hamas terrorists and for defending our citizens and our children.
“Just as IDF soldiers and commandos defend us, we will defend them – in any international forum,” he added. “Israel regrets any loss of life and I hope we can find a way to mend our relations with Turkey,” Netanyahu said. “Israel never sought to see the situation deteriorate, nor do we wish it to remain like this.”
- Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu: Israel will not apologize to Turkey
- The Jewish Spring by Nir Boms
- Now is the Time for EU Leadership: Deflecting Palestinian Unilateralism at the UN by Jonathan Schanzer & Emanuele Ottolenghi
- Anti-Israel protest disrupts Philharmonic show in UK
- Germany pulls out of ‘anti-Israel’ Durban III conference
September 4th, 2011
ONE day during the 2008 campaign, as Barack Obama read the foreboding news of the mounting economic and military catastrophes that W. was bequeathing his successor, he dryly remarked to aides: “Maybe I should throw the game.”
On the razor’s edge of another recession; blocked at every turn by Republicans determined to slice him up at any cost; starting an unexpectedly daunting re-election bid; and puzzling over how to make a prime-time speech about infrastructure and payroll taxes soar, maybe President Obama is wishing that he had thrown the game.
The leader who was once a luminescent, inspirational force is now just a guy in a really bad spot.
His Republican rivals for 2012 have gone to town on the Labor Day weekend news of zero job growth, using the same line of attack Hillary used in 2008: Enough with the big speeches! What about some action?
Polls show that most Americans still like and trust the president; but they may no longer have faith that he’s a smarty-pants who can fix the economy.
Just as Obama miscalculated in 2009 when Democrats had total control of Congress, holding out hope that G.O.P. lawmakers would come around on health care after all but three senators had refused to vote for the stimulus bill; just as he misread John Boehner this summer, clinging like a scorned lover to a dream that the speaker would drop his demanding new inamorata, the Tea Party, to strike a “grand” budget bargain, so the president once more set a trap for himself and gave Boehner the opportunity to dis him on the timing of his jobs speech this week.
Obama’s re-election chances depend on painting the Republicans as disrespectful. So why would the White House act disrespectful by scheduling a speech to a joint session of Congress at the exact time when the Republicans already had a debate planned?
And why is the White House so cocky about Obama as a TV draw against quick-draw Rick Perry? As James Carville acerbically noted, given a choice between watching an Obama speech and a G.O.P. debate, “I’d watch the debate, and I’m not even a Republican.”
The White House caved, of course, and moved to Thursday, because there’s nothing the Republicans say that he won’t eagerly meet halfway.
No. 2 on David Letterman’s Top Ten List of the president’s plans for Labor Day: “Pretty much whatever the Republicans tell him he can do.”
On MSNBC, the anchors were wistfully listening to old F.D.R. speeches, wishing that this president had some of that fight. But Obama can’t turn into F.D.R. for the campaign because he aspires to the class that F.D.R. was a traitor to; and he can’t turn into Harry Truman because he lacks the common touch. He has an acquired elitism.
MSNBC’s Matt Miller offered “a public service” to journalists talking about Obama — a list of synonyms for cave: “Buckle, fold, concede, bend, defer, submit, give in, knuckle under, kowtow, surrender, yield, comply, capitulate.”
And it wasn’t exactly Morning in America when Obama sent out a mass e-mail to supporters Wednesday under the heading “Frustrated.”
It unfortunately echoed a November 2010 parody in The Onion with the headline, “Frustrated Obama Sends Nation Rambling 75,000-Word E-Mail.”
(Fred R. Conrad)The New York Times
“Throughout,” The Onion teased, “the president expressed his aggravation on subjects as disparate as the war in Afghanistan, the sluggish economic recovery, his live-in mother-in-law, China’s undervalued currency, Boston’s Logan Airport, and tort reform.”
You know you’re in trouble when Harry Reid says you should be more aggressive.
If the languid Obama had not done his usual irritating fourth-quarter play, if he had presented a jobs plan a year ago and fought for it, he wouldn’t have needed to elevate the setting. How will he up the ante next time? A speech from the space station?
Republicans who are worried about being political props have a point. The president is using the power of the incumbency and a sacred occasion for a political speech.
Obama is still suffering from the Speech Illusion, the idea that he can come down from the mountain, read from a Teleprompter, cast a magic spell with his words and climb back up the mountain, while we scurry around and do what he proclaimed.
The days of spinning illusions in a Greek temple in a football stadium are done. The One is dancing on the edge of one term.
The White House team is flailing — reacting, regrouping, retrenching. It’s repugnant.
After pushing and shoving and caving to get on TV, the president’s advisers immediately began warning that the long-yearned-for jobs speech wasn’t going to be that awe-inspiring.
“The issue isn’t the size or the newness of the ideas,” one said. “It’s less the substance than how he says it, whether he seizes the moment.”
The arc of justice is stuck at the top of a mountain. Maybe Obama was not even the person he was waiting for.
More From The NY TImes
The Texas Tribune
September 4th, 2011
STEVE PEOPLES and MIKE BLOOD
BERLIN, N.H. — Bulling its way into 2012, the tea party is shaping the race for the GOP presidential nomination as candidates parrot the movement's language and promote its agenda while jostling to win its favor.
That's much to the delight of Democrats who are working to paint the tea party and the eventual Republican nominee as extreme.
"The tea party isn't a diversion from mainstream Republican thought. It is within mainstream Republican thought," Mitt Romney told a New Hampshire newspaper recently, defending the activists he's done little to woo, until now.
The former Massachusetts governor is starting to court them more aggressively as polls suggest he's being hurt by weak support within the movement, whose members generally favor rivals such as Texas Gov. Rick Perry and Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann.
Romney's shift is the latest evidence of the big imprint the tea party is leaving on the race.
Such overtures come with risks, given that more Americans are cooling to the tea party's unyielding tactics and bare-bones vision of the federal government.
After Washington's debt showdown this summer, an Associated Press-GfK poll found that 46 percent of adults had an unfavorable view of the tea party, compared with 36 percent just after last November's election.
It could give President Barack Obama and his Democrats an opening should the Republican nominee be closely aligned with the tea party.
Yet even as the public begins to sour on the movement, candidates such as Romney are shrugging off past tea party disagreements to avoid upsetting activists.
That includes Perry, who faced a tea party challenger in his most recent election for governor and who has irked some tea partyers so much that they are openly trying to undercut his candidacy. Instead of fighting back, Perry often praises the tea party.
In his book "Fed Up," Perry wrote: "We are seeing an energetic and important push by the American people – led in part by the tea party movement – to give the boot to the old-guard Washington establishment who no longer represent us."
There's a reason for the coziness. Those voters who will choose the GOP nominee identify closely with the movement.
A recent AP-GfK survey showed that 56 percent of Republicans and GOP-leaning people identified themselves as tea party supporters. Also, Republicans who back the tea party place a higher priority than other Republicans on the budget deficit and taxes, issues at the center of the nomination contest.
Last year, the tea party injected the GOP with a huge dose of enthusiasm, helping it reclaim the House and end one-party rule in Washington. These days, they are firing up the campaign trail in early voting Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina.
It's little wonder, then, why many of the White House aspirants are popping up at rallies by the Tea Party Express, a Sacramento, Calif.-based political committee that's in the midst of a 30-city bus tour. That tour ends Sept. 12 in Tampa, Fla., where the group will team with CNN to sponsor a nationally televised GOP debate. Every Republican candidate faring strongly in the polls is set to participate.
Some grass-roots activists will cringe. They consider the Tea Party Express uncomfortably close to the GOP establishment. Nonetheless, "it's a moment of political arrival" for the tea party, says Bruce Cain, a University of California, Berkeley political scientist.
Five months before the first voting in the nomination fight, a Gallup survey of Republicans and GOP-leaning independents last week found Perry pulling strong support from voters who identify themselves as tea party supporters, with 35 percent, followed by Romney and Bachmann at 14 percent.
That may help explain why Romney decided to speak Sunday at a Tea Party Express rally in New Hampshire and, a day later, appear at a forum in South Carolina hosted by GOP Sen. Jim DeMint, who oversees a political committee that has supported tea party candidates.
DeMint said the tea party is "one of the best things that's happened to our country and to politics, because there's a broad cross-section of Americans involved in citizen activism today. And some are called Tea Party; some are not."
Rather than anointing any candidate, DeMint said Sunday on ABC's "This Week" that he's looking to see which one "really catches the attention and inspires the average American, who has gotten involved with politics and the political process."
Perry, Bachmann and others in the 2012 planned to appear at DeMint's event.
Tea party groups have indicated they'll protest Romney's appearances. They are irked that as governor, he signed a bill that enacted a health program mandating insurance coverage. It served as a precursor to Obama's federal measure that the tea party despises.
So Romney has stepped up his courtship in recent weeks. At a veterans' hall in Berlin, N.H., a voter asked how Romney would handle the "right-wing fringe" that, the questioner said, had taken over the GOP.
Romney's answer: "I'll take a bit of exception with that. ... You're not going to see me distance myself from those who believe in small government, because I believe in it too." He made similar comments to the Foster's Daily Democrat.
Other candidates are rushing to the tea party's defense, too.
Rick Santorum, a former Pennsylvania senator, recently ridiculed a Democratic congresswoman who said the tea party should "go straight to hell." Americans on the political left "absolutely despise the founding principles of this country," he said.
When Democrats accused the tea party of holding the GOP hostage during the debt debate, Bachmann sent out a fundraising letter that said, "Only in the bizarro world of Washington is fiscal responsibility sometimes defined as terrorism."
The tea party is felt in other ways.
At an Iowa debate in August, every candidate on stage signaled opposition to a debt-reduction deal if it included as much as $1 in tax increases for every $10 in spending cuts, which the tea party advocated.
The early exit of former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty from the race can be attributed in part to his failure to earn credibility with the tea party movement. Bachmann's entire candidacy could, perhaps, be attributed to encouragement she received from tea party backers; she's courted them since the party's founding.
Each time a candidate is linked to the movement, the Democratic National Committee gleefully works to brand the candidate, and the Republican Party in general, as outside the mainstream.
Tea party activists are emboldened after helping get 30 like-minded House members elected last fall. Their victories changed the direction of Congress so much that demands from tea party-aligned lawmakers nearly halted government during this summer's debt debate.
Aside from the presidential race, tea party leaders have no less than 100 congressional primaries in their sights as they look to expand their influence on Capitol Hill.
The Houston-based Alliance for Self-Governance, a new group that wants to oust long-serving Washington incumbents, is working to train grass-roots organizers to identify potential supporters and get them to the polls. An offshoot, the Campaign for Primary Accountability, an outside group that can raise unlimited amounts of money, hopes to influence House campaigns.
"We are not looking to change the party balance. We want to change the people who will have the power in Congress," said Leo E. Linbeck III, the alliance's co-chairman.
Whatever happens, the party is leaving a stamp on the presidential race, and Democrats hope it will last.
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