The Constitutional Convention of 1787 was held in strict secrecy. Consequently, anxious citizens gathered outside Independence Hall when the proceedings ended in order to learn what had been produced behind closed doors. The answer was provided immediately. A Mrs. Powel of Philadelphia asked Benjamin Franklin, "Well, Doctor, what have we got, a republic or a monarchy?" With no hesitation whatsoever, Franklin responded, "A republic, if you can keep it." ~ BENJAMIN FRANKLIN 1787
Ok all you fighters for immigrants rights. Here is one of the reasons we as the ones that have to pay for welfare of these immigrants, depriving the natural citizens, have a problem with it. One of the several reasons the U.S.A. is falling apart too. "Get it Done Arizona " !
Enough said. Boy-oh-Boy, this needs to travel around the U.S.A. Don't let it die folks.
REMEMBER THE ARIZONA ...
The USS Arizona is the final resting place for many of the ship's 1,177 crewmen who lost their lives on December 7, 1941. The 184-foot-long Memorial structure spanning the mid-portion of the sunken battleship consists of three main sections: the entry and assembly rooms; a central area designed for ceremonies and general observation; and the shrine room, where the names of those killed on the Arizona are engraved on the marble wall.
Once upon a time the government had a vast scrap yard in the middle of a desert. Congress said, "Someone may steal from it at night."
So they created a night watchman position and hired a person for the job.
Then Congress said, "How does the watchman do his job without instruction?" So they created a planning department and hired two people, one person to write the instructions, and one person to do time studies.
Then Congress said, "How will we know the night watchman is doing the tasks correctly?" So they created a Quality Control department and hired two people. One to do the studies and one to write the reports.
Then Congress said, "How are these people going to get paid?" So They created the following positions, a time keeper, and a payroll officer, then hired two people.
Then Congress said, "Who will be accountable
for all of these people?" So they created an
administrative section and hired three people, an Administrative Officer, Assistant Administrative Officer, and a Legal Secretary.
Then Congress said, "We have had this command in operation for one Year and we are $18,000 over budget, we must cutback overall cost." So they laid off the night watchman.
NOW slowly, let it sink in.
Quietly, we go like sheep to slaughter.
Does anybody remember the reason given for the establishment of the DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY..... during the Carter Administration?
Didn't think so!
Bottom line. We've spent several hundred billion dollars in support of an agency...the reason for which not one person who reads this can remember!
It was very simple...and at the time, everybody thought it very appropriate.
The Department of Energy was instituted on 8-04-1977, TO LESSEN OUR DEPENDENCE ON FOREIGN OIL.
Hey, pretty efficient, huh???
AND NOW IT'S 2010 -- 33 YEARS LATER -- AND THE BUDGET FOR THIS "NECESSARY" DEPARTMENT IS AT $24.2 BILLION A YEAR. THEY HAVE 16,000 FEDERAL EMPLOYEES AND APPROXIMATELY 100,000 CONTRACT EMPLOYEES; AND LOOK AT THE JOB THEY HAVE DONE! THIS IS WHERE YOU SLAP YOUR FOREHEAD AND SAY, "WHAT WAS I THINKING?"
33 years ago 30% of our oil consumption was foreign imports. Today 70% of our oil consumption is foreign imports.
Ah, yes -- good ole bureaucracy.
AND, NOW, WE ARE TURNING THE BANKING SYSTEM, HEALTH CARE, AND THE AUTO INDUSTRY OVER TO THE SAME GOVERNMENT?
Since the Robert Bork hearings punished him for his candor, the point is not to give the most honest answer, but the answer that makes it the most difficult for senators to vote against you. So the candidates have learned to talk in circles, never giving a clear insight into the candidates thinking or reasoning. Theater - this is all Theatre!
Israeli Psychologist on Obama Dr. Sam Vaknin is an Israeli psychologist. Interesting view on our new president. Dr. Vaknin has written extensively about narcissism. Dr. Vaknin States "I must confess I was impressed by Obama from the first time I saw him. At first I was excited to see a black candidate. He looked youthful, spoke well, appeared to be confident -- a wholesome presidential package. I was put off soon, not just because of his shallowness but also because there was an air of haughtiness in his demeanor that was unsettling. His posture and his body language were louder than his empty words. Obama's speeches are unlike any political speech we have heard in American history. Never a politician in this land had such quasi "religious" impact on so many people.
The fact that Obama is a total incognito with Zero accomplishment, makes this inexplicable infatuation alarming. Obama is not an ordinary man. He is not a genius. In fact he is quite ignorant on most important subjects."
Dr. Sam Vaknin, the author of the Malignant Self Love believes "Barack Obama appears to be a narcissist." Vaknin is a world authority on narcissism. He understands narcissism and describes the inner mind of a narcissist like no other person. When he talks about narcissism everyone listens. Vaknin says that Obama's language, posture and demeanor, and the testimonies of his closest, dearest friends suggest that the man is either a narcissist or he may have narcissistic personality disorder (NPD).
Narcissists project a grandiose but false image of themselves. Jim Jones, the charismatic leader of People's Temple, the man who led over 900 of his followers to cheerfully commit mass suicide and even murder their own children was also a narcissist. David Koresh, Charles Manson, Joseph Koni, Shoko Asahara, Stalin, Saddam, Mao, Kim Jong Ill and Adolph Hitler are a few examples of narcissists of our time. All these men had a tremendous influence over their fanciers. They created a personality cult around themselves and with their blazing speeches elevated their admirers, filled their hearts with enthusiasm and instilled in their minds a new zest for life. They gave them hope! They promised them the moon, but alas, invariably they brought them to their doom.
When you are a victim of a cult of personality, you don't know it until it is too late. One determining factor in the development of NPD is childhood abuse. "Obama's early life was decidedly chaotic and replete with traumatic and mentally bruising dislocations,"says Vaknin. "Mixed-race marriages were even less common then. His parents went through a divorce when he was an infant two years old. Obama saw his father only once again, before he died in a car accident. Then his mother re-married and Obama had to relocate to Indonesia, a foreign land with a radically foreign culture, to be raised by a step-father. At the age of ten, he was whisked off to live with his maternal (white) grandparents. He saw his mother only intermittently in the following few years and then she vanished from his life in 1979. "She died of cancer in 1995."
One must never underestimate the manipulative genius of pathological narcissists. They project such an imposing personality that it overwhelms those around them. Charmed by the charisma of the narcissist, people become like clay in his hands. They cheerfully do his bidding and delight to be at his service. The narcissist shapes the world around himself and reduces others in his own inverted image. He creates a cult of personality. His admirers become his co-dependents. Narcissists have no interest in things that do not help them to reach their personal objective. They are focused on one thing alone and that is power. All other issues are meaningless to them and they do not want to waste their precious time on trivialities. Anything that does not help them is beneath them and does not deserve their attention.
If an issue raised in the Senate does not help Obama in one way or another, he has no interest in it. The "present" vote is a safe vote. No one can criticize him if things go wrong. Those issues are unworthy by their very nature because they are not about him.
Obama's election as the first black president of the Harvard Law Review led to a contract and advance to write a book about race relations. The University of Chicago Law School provided him a lot longer than expected and at the end it evolved into, guess what? His own autobiography! Instead of writing a scholarly paper focusing on race relations, for which he had been paid, Obama could not resist writing about his most sublime self. He entitled the book Dreams from My Father.
Not surprisingly, Adolph Hitler also wrote his own autobiography when he was still a nobody. So did Stalin. For a narcissist no subject is as important as his own self. Why would he waste his precious time and genius writing about insignificant things when he can write about such an august being as himself?
Narcissists are often callous and even ruthless. As the norm, they lack conscience. This is evident from Obama's lack of interest in his own brother who lives on only one dollar per month. A man who lives in luxury, who takes a private jet to vacation in Hawaii, and who raised nearly half a billion dollars for his campaign (something unprecedented in history) has no interest in the plight of his own brother. Why? Because, his brother cannot be used for his ascent to power. A narcissist cares for no one but himself.
This election was like no other in the history of America. The issues were insignificant compared to what is at stake. What can be more dangerous than having a man bereft of conscience, a serial liar, and one who cannot distinguish his fantasies from reality as the leader of the free world?
I hate to sound alarmist, but one is a fool if one is not alarmed. Many politicians are narcissists. They pose no threat to others. They are simply self serving and selfish. Obama evidences symptoms of pathological narcissism, which is different from the run-of-the-mill narcissism of a Richard Nixon or a Bill Clinton for example. To him reality and fantasy are intertwined.
This is a mental health issue, not just a character flaw. Pathological narcissists are dangerous because they look normal and even intelligent. It is this disguise that makes them treacherous. Today the Democrats have placed all their hopes in Obama. But this man could put an end to their party. The great majority of blacks voted for Obama. Only a fool does not know that their support for him is racially driven. This is racism, pure and simple.
The downside of this is that if Obama turns out to be the disaster I predict, he will cause widespread resentment among the whites. The blacks are unlikely to give up their support of their man. Cultic mentality is pernicious and unrelenting. They will dig their heads deeper in the sand and blame Obama's detractors of racism. This will cause a backlash among the whites. The white supremacists will take advantage of the discontent and they will receive widespread support. I predict that in less than four years, racial tensions will increase to levels never seen since the turbulent 1960's.
Obama will set the clock back decades. America is the bastion of freedom. The peace of the world depends on the strength of America, and its weakness translates into the triumph of terrorism and victory of rogue nations. It is no wonder that Ahmadinejad, Hugo Chavez, the Castrists, the Hezbollah, the Hamas, the lawyers of the Guantanamoterrorists and virtually all sworn enemies of America are so thrilled by the prospect of their man in the White House.
America is on the verge of destruction. There is no insanity greater than electing a pathological narcissist as president.
Make it official: Everything Barack Obama touches turns to mush. Not because he wants to screw up everything, but because he's simply in over his head as president of the United States.
He is the quintessential wrong guy at the wrong time, and the events of last week provided another exclamation point to that sentence.
Rolling Stone magazine published a story revealing the inner workings of Obama's hand-picked general in Afghanistan, Stanley McChrystal. And those inner workings were not pretty. McChrystal and his HQ advisers were disrespectful in the extreme to just about everyone -- our allies (expletive-gay French), Obama (disengaged), Vice President Joe Biden (you mean Bite Me?), Sen. John McCain (not helpful).
Team McChrystal as portrayed in the article also exhibited a brand of immaturity that even the staunchest of McChrystal supporters could defend only as "locker-room talk." That's putting it mildly. Most would call the Rolling Stone account of those in charge of our war in Afghanistan as borderline scary -- one-third frat house, one-third personality cult worship and one-third "Apocalypse Now."
When the piece hit the stands, the president summoned McChrystal to the White House. The general resigned and was replaced. The president was right to do so. But don't mistake that for leadership in what otherwise remains a debacle that exposes once again the failure of this president to perform the big tasks the American people need him to do -- in this case, the prosecution of the war on terror.
Let's hit a few of the other low points.
The economy. We're all painfully aware of the president's performance here. He's made the deficit spending of the last few George W. Bush years look downright amateurish. He's added $2 trillion to the national debt, presided over a period of dreadful unemployment and a housing crisis of epic proportions with no end in sight.
When the nation needed a leader in the wake of the Gulf oil spill, President Obama failed to rise to the occasion. He said he cared deeply when the cameras were rolling, but almost immediately after jetting away from the misery in the Gulf, our president could be seen golfing, vacationing and entertaining at the White House, sending a decidedly mixed signal.
In a story on a Wall Street Journal poll that showed Americans are less confident in the president's leadership than at any point in his presidency, reporters interviewed James Ciarmataro, a 23-year-old stay-at-home dad from Macomb, Mich.
Ciarmataro put it just right: He said it was difficult to relate to Obama, because the president is "eating steak dinners at the White House and playing golf" while the country is suffering.
In other words, leadership can't be faked for long.
If the Gulf doesn't prove it for you, then consider the president's first official act as president -- the signing of an executive order to close the prison facility at Guantanamo Bay.
With the stroke of a pen, he looked the part of a leader, fulfilling a campaign promise. But now, some 17 months later, Gitmo remains open. Why? Because leadership is more than looking the part. It's hard work. It's resolve. It's sacrifice. It is making things happen.
As we now find, looking the part on economic recovery, Gulf oil spill relief or even something as relatively simple as closing one detention facility doesn't actually fix the economy, plug the hole or solve the sticky problem of indefinite detention of enemy combatants in the war on terror.
President Obama is long on talking about these things but short on the skills to get them done.
Now, last week, we find these same flaws are in play with the lives of our soldiers in the war in Afghanistan. The general he chose to execute his strategy required removal not because the president was engaged enough to see it coming, but because of a Rolling Stone article.
It's one thing to take decisive action when publicly humiliated. But it's quite another to effectively prosecute a war.
That takes leadership, which sadly remains a quality we've not seen from this president yet.
Sherman Frederick (sfrederick@ reviewjournal.com) is publisher of the Las Vegas Review-Journal and president of Stephens Media.
About TheReligionofPeace.com The Religion of Peace.com is a non-partisan and pluralistic site concerned with Islam's true political and cultural teachings according to its own texts. We are not associated with nor funded by any organization. Here is why we exist: On 9/11, nineteen devout Muslims believed they had a religious mandate to fly planes into buildings and slaughter thousands of innocent people. The Muslim world erupted with outrage over this horrible act of mass murder. Massive demonstrations were held in nearly every Muslim country and Western city. At these demonstrations, Muslim leaders harshly denounced Islamic terror and shared the many hundreds of verses from the Qur'an that encourage universal brotherhood, peace and tolerance. Effigies of terrorists were burned and a slew of fatwas and clerical condemnations against terror soon followed. Tens of millions of ordinary Muslims also reacted by rallying against violence and demanding that their leaders root out and eliminate the Islamic terrorists and their supporters. These same Muslims and their clerics called for introspection and atonement, accepting the role that the radical elements of their religion played in the attacks, and committing themselves to combating and eradicating the misinterpretation of their religion - the Religion of Peace... Well, not quite. Obviously this didn't happen. If it had, then Islamic terror would have ended, 9/11 would have been a singular event, and this website would not exist. Unfortunately, the optimistic and fictitious picture that we just painted of Muslim reaction to terror and the predominance of peaceful Qur'anic verses could not be any further from the truth. In fact, some Muslims openlycelebrated the attacks. A member of the Islamist group, Hamas, actually described the carnage as "one of the miracles of the Qur'an." Australia's Grand Mufti said they were "God's work against oppressors." Even Islamic apologist pollsters, Esposito and Mogahed, were forced to admit that about 1 out of 3 Muslims worldwide view the terrorism of 9/11 as justified (which constitutes about 450 million believers). There were a few passionless, self-serving denunciations, to be sure, but Muslims save their real outrage for times when a Western leader makes a public statement against veils and headscarves, or someone draws a Muhammad cartoon. By and large, most could hardly care less about the thousands of people who lose their lives in the name of this religion each year. It was not for three years, in fact, that there was even a fatwa issued against these attacks. To this day, major Muslim-American groups are reluctant to denounce Osama Bin Laden by name and none will condemn the terror group Hamas, which has sent suicide bombers into discos, shopping malls, buses and restaurants. That's what makes it extremely odd that Islam should be called a Religion of Peace. Not only does it inspire an enormous amount of violence, but an astonishing level of indifference and self-centeredness as well. We watched in the months following 9/11, as Muslim-American groups began to act as hindrances in the war on terror and the efforts of Americans to defend themselves. We saw them ignore nearly every act of daily Islamic terror and instead publicize obscure issues and personal slights against Muslims and "insults to Islam" that are absolutely trivial by comparison. Far from accepting responsibility for Islamic terror, Muslims most often look for reasons to shirk it. Some even grasp onto wild conspiracy theories that blame Americans for 9/11 - just as the millions of Jihad victims over the centuries are in some way also held responsible for their own slaughter. And finally, we came to realize that this extraordinary arrogance and self-absorption on the part of the Muslim community, along with an inability to empathize with people who are not like them or engage in the sort of self-critique that leads to moral progress, is in no way incidental to the religion. There is something deeply, deeply wrong with Islam. Originally, we started this website in the naive hope that perhaps Muslims just didn't realize the extent of the violence that is committed in the name of their religion. We thought that if perhaps they understood, then they might be motivated to turn the critical eye inward and resolve those far more important issues that leave so many lives in agony and force the consumption of so many billions of dollars in security resources. But despite hearing from plenty of Muslims in our first several years of posting attacks we never once heard from one who wrote primarily to condemn the violence and resolve themselves to combating it. Neither did we see any change on the part of Muslim-American groups or other Islamic organizations across the globe, even as the body count mounted to levels that far exceed the damage done on 9/11. And so, our mission evolved from simply memorializing the victims of Islamic terror to trying to educate the open-minded on how Islam is so tragically different from other religion, including its incompatibility with secularism and Western liberal values. For those who swallow the falsehood that Islam is a Religion of Peace, we hope they will find enough reason to at least challenge their preconceptions. The information on this site concerning Islamic teachings comes straight from the most sacred texts of Islam: the Qur'an, Hadith and Sira. At the same time, we have no patience for name-calling, lies, or acts of violence. No Muslim should be harassed or harmed anywhere in the world because of his or her religion. Islam is a broad faith and every Muslim should be treated as an individual and judged only by his or her own words and deeds. In fact, there are exceptional Muslims whose faith gives them character, as evidenced by their sincere denunciation of terror and tangible resolve to ending it. They stand in sharp contrast to groups like the American CAIR and MPAC Islamic supremacist organizations, which use their influence to complain of petty grievances and inflame hatred against a country that tries hard to accommodate their faith in spite of the violence and whining. But, as the evidence from this site proves, Islam is clearly not a religion of peace. The ridiculous level of violence committed explicitly in the interest of furthering this religion is staggering, despite the enormous resources that are devoted each year to containing it. Islam also openly restricts other religion from fairly competing and even threatens its own members with death should they want to leave. Additionally, Islam is a clear and present danger to homosexuals, atheists and women who desire equality and freedom. In fact, Islam's enemy is human freedom. As the Ayatollah Khomeini once put it, "People cannot be made obedient except with the sword." Islam's overriding goal is to impose itself, thus preventing the individual from discovering a different meaning for their own lives. Muslim apologists are constantly telling Westerners that the solution to the violence is greater understanding and tolerance for Islam. But isn't it the killers and their supporters who need lessons in tolerance and understanding... not their victims? Some Muslims may say that Muhammad preached love for people of other religions, but there is not a single verse in the Qur'an that commands this. Yet there are 493 verses that either tell Muslims to kill unbelievers or that remind the faithful of Allah's hatred for those outside the faith and their awaiting torture in Hell. Non-Muslims are referred to as the "vilest of animals" in Islam's holiest book. If peace is defined as being free to live one's life as one pleases and allowing others to do the same, then Islam is as far from peaceful as it can possibly be. Where it dominates, there is systematic discrimination and oppression of those of other faiths. Where Muslims are in minority, there is rebellion, terror, petulance and disloyalty - a never-ending jihad to bring about the rule of Islam, as Muhammad commanded. Obviously, not all Muslims follow the true teachings of Islam. Those who do not, however, are in no position to accuse those who do of "hijacking" the faith. Islam will be a peaceful religion when all Muslims stop preaching hate, stop killing in the name of Allah, and stop remaining indifferent to the violence. Until this happens, we will faithfully document each of the reasons why this is anything but a "Religion of Peace." See also: FAQ - Frequently Asked Questions How We Feel about Muslims Our Case Against Race What to Do about the Islamic Threat Go back to the List of Islamic Terrorist Attacks
By David Cho, Jia Lynn Yang and Brady Dennis
Washington Post Staff Writers
Saturday, June 26, 2010; A01
Nearly two years after tremors on Wall Street set off a historic economic downturn, congressional leaders greenlighted a bill early Friday that would leave the financial industry largely intact but facing a more powerful network of regulators who could impose limits on risky activities.
The final bill took shape after a 20-hour marathon negotiation between House and Senate leaders seeking to reconcile their separate versions. The legislation puts a lot of faith in the watchful eye of regulators to prevent another financial crisis. New agencies would police consumer lending, the invention of financial products and the trading of exotic securities known as derivatives. Bank supervisors would have the power to seize large, troubled financial firms whose collapse could threaten the entire system. The bill calls for banks to hold more money in reserve to weather economic storms but leaves the details to regulators.
But with a few exceptions, the measure avoids dictating to Wall Street what it can and cannot do.The bill does not break up big banks or ban the trading of derivatives. Nor does it significantly streamline the confusing array of financial regulators in Washington."
Pat Condell on Ground Zero mosque: "Is it possible to be astonished, but not surprised?"
Pat Condell ably articulates everything that's wrong about the mosque at Ground Zero.
Posted by Marisol on June 4, 2010 8:23 AM | 169 Comments
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Bosch Fawstin | June 4, 2010 8:36 AM | Reply
Here's my visual response to the Ground Zero mosques....for starters
Bosch Fawstin | June 4, 2010 8:54 AM | Reply
And bravo to Condell for saying it better than anyone has.
boneshack replied to comment from Bosch Fawstin | June 4, 2010 9:02 AM | Reply
Absolutely brilliant! This should be used in a poster campaign all across NYC and the whole country.
Hugh | June 4, 2010 9:03 AM | Reply
A master of no-nonsense directness, Pat Condell here has outdone himself. I hope this will be sent to everyone you know; if the email function at JW does not work properly to enable you to do so, find it at Youtube, then email the link. Everywhere.
Obama claims to be a Christian. Would a true Christian say what Obama said about God's Word? Could you imagine if Obama made these comments about any other religion? Watch for yourself...
No Christian would say these things. Obama is a closet Muslim, an atheist, or perhaps he's just using religion as a vehicle in his quest for power. Either way, he is going to bring the judgment of God down on this nation for his mockery.
Barack Obama's childhood hero, Nation of Islam spokesman Malcolm X said after President Kennedy's assassination that, "chickens are coming home to roost."
Barack Obama's spiritual mentor, Jeremiah Wright said after 9/11 that, "America's chickens are coming home to roost."
Jeremiah Wright traveled to Libya with (to meet Muammar Qaddafi) and gave a Lifetime Achievement Award to Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan.
Barack Obama's cousin in Kenya is Raila Odinga, who among other things advocates Sharia (Islamic) Law. After he lost Kenya's presidential election in 2007, his supporters went on a violent rampage killing hundreds of people across Kenya, some of whom were Christians taking refuge inside a church. Odinga's supporters surrounded the church and burned it to the ground, burning the people alive who were inside. Obama campaigned for Odinga when he visited Kenya in 2006.
On June 23, 2010, Obama fired General McChrystal for critical comments McChrystal's staff made about the Obama administration's handling of the war in Afganistan. The hypocrisy is too much...
Gen. Stanley McChrystal’s trashing of his civilian colleagues was unprofessional and may cost him his job. If so, it will be a sad end to a fine career. But no general is indispensable. What is indispensable is that when taking America surging deeper into war in Afghanistan, President Obama has to be able to answer the most simple questions at a gut level: Do our interests merit such an escalation and do I have the allies to achieve victory? President Obama never had good answers for these questions, but he went ahead anyway. The ugly truth is that no one in the Obama White House wanted this Afghan surge. The only reason they proceeded was because no one knew how to get out of it — or had the courage to pull the plug. That is not a sufficient reason to take the country deeper into war in the most inhospitable terrain in the world. You know you’re in trouble when you’re in a war in which the only party whose objectives are clear, whose rhetoric is consistent and whose will to fight never seems to diminish is your enemy: the Taliban.
Thomas L. Friedman
President Obama is not an Afghan expert. Few people are. But that could have been his strength. The three questions he needed to ask about Afghanistan were almost childlike in their simplicity. Yet Obama either failed to ask them or went ahead, nevertheless, because he was afraid he would have been called a wimp by Republicans if he hadn’t.
The first question was hiding in plain sight: Why do we have to recruit and train our allies, the Afghan Army, to fight? That is like someone coming to you with a plan to recruit and train Brazilian boys to play soccer.
If there is one thing Afghan males should not need to be trained to do, it’s to engage in warfare. That may be the only thing they all know how to do after 30 years of civil war and centuries of resisting foreign powers. After all, who is training the Taliban? They’ve been fighting the U.S. Army to a draw — and many of their commanders can’t even read.
It is not about the way. It is about the will. I have said this before, and I will say it again: The Middle East only puts a smile on your face when it starts with them. The Camp David peace treaty started with Israelis and Egyptians meeting in secret — without us. The Oslo peace process started with Israelis and Palestinians meeting in secret — without us. The Sunni tribal awakening in Iraq against pro-Al Qaeda forces started with them — without us. When it starts with them, when they assume ownership, our military and diplomatic support can be a huge multiplier, as we’ve seen in Iraq and at Camp David.
Ownership is everything in business, war and diplomacy. People will fight with sticks and stones and no training at all for a government they feel ownership of. When they — Israelis, Palestinians, Afghans, Iraqis — assume ownership over a policy choice, everything is possible, particularly the most important thing of all: that what gets built becomes self-sustaining without us. But when we want it more than they do, nothing is self-sustaining, and they milk us for all we’re worth. I simply don’t see an Afghan “awakening” in areas under Taliban control. And without that, at scale, nothing we build will be self-sustaining.
That leads to the second question: If our strategy is to use U.S. forces to clear the Taliban and help the Afghans put in place a decent government so they can hold what is cleared, how can that be done when President Hamid Karzai, our principal ally, openly stole the election and we looked the other way? Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and others in the administration told us not to worry: Karzai would have won anyway; he’s the best we’ve got; she knew how to deal with him and he would come around. Well, I hope that happens. But my gut tells me that when you don’t call things by their real name, you get in trouble. Karzai stole the election, and we said: No problem, we’re going to build good governance on the back of the Kabul mafia.
Which brings up the third simple question, the one that made me most opposed to this surge: What do we win if we win? At least in Iraq, if we eventually produce a decent democratizing government, we will, at enormous cost, have changed the politics in a great Arab capital in the heart of the Arab Muslim world. That can have wide resonance. Change Afghanistan at enormous cost and you’ve changed Afghanistan — period. Afghanistan does not resonate.
Moreover, Al Qaeda is in Pakistan today — or, worse, in the soul of thousands of Muslim youth from Bridgeport, Conn., to London, connected by “The Virtual Afghanistan”: the Internet. If Al Qaeda cells returned to Afghanistan, they could be dealt with by drones, or special forces aligned with local tribes. It would not be perfect, but perfect is not on the menu in Afghanistan.
My bottom line: The president can bring Ulysses S. Grant back from the dead to run the Afghan war. But when you can’t answer the simplest questions, it is a sign that you’re somewhere you don’t want to be and your only real choices are lose early, lose late, lose big or lose small.
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Unions stage protests against plans for retirement age hike
By News Wires the 26/05/2010 - 22:55
Tens of thousands of marchers gathered Thursday in several French cities after labour unions called for a day of strikes and protests against a government plan to raise the legal retirement age to help curb the country's mounting public deficit.
AFP - French labour unions staged a day of strikes and street rallies on Thursday to protest against President Nicolas Sarkozy's plan to raise the retirement age beyond 60 years.
Opinion polls show most voters oppose the reform and by midday tens of thousands of marchers had gathered in several cities, but there were mixed reports about participation in strike action.
Teaching unions announced that 40 percent of primary and secondary school teachers had gone on strike, whereas the education ministry put the figure at just over 12 percent.
Public transport was only mildly disrupted nationwide, with three quarters of regional trains and all high-speed TGV services running as normal and only very minor delays for some Paris commuters.
Nevertheless, a strike by air traffic controllers in support of the protest saw 30 percent of flights from Paris Orly airport cancelled and 10 percent from Charles de Gaulle, the environment ministry said.
"What happens today will be fairly decisive for how things develop," said Bernard Thibault, leader of the CGT, the largest of the broad coalition of trade unions organising the national protest.
"I'd like to see us exceed the mobilisation we achieved on March 23," he told Europe 1 radio, referring to France's last large-scale labour protest, when unions estimated turnout at 800,000 and the police at 350,000.
If the unions fail to mobilise a similar number this week, it will be seen as a victory for the government, but labour and opposition leaders said they were confident of a big turnout.
The postal service said that 12.58 percent of staff were on strike, slightly more than the 11.45 percent who walked out on March 23.
Polls published Thursday in two newspapers, Le Parisien and L'Humanite, found that around two thirds of French voters were prepared to join one of the dozens of rallies being organised around the country.
This appears to reflect growing opposition to Sarkozy's plan, which the government only confirmed this week.
A previous poll conducted this month by CSA/CECOP showed a narrow majority accept the change is inevitable, whereas a later survey found a similarly narrow majority think it unnecessary.
In common with much of Europe, France is grappling with a huge public deficit, and the government argues that reforming pension rules and delaying the minimum retirement age will help control mounting debt.
Many of France's neighbours have announced harsh spending cuts but Sarkozy, who is suffering record unpopularity and faces a re-election fight in two years, has been cautious, refusing to speak of an austerity programme.
Nevertheless, this week ministers confirmed what had long been suspected: that he plans to abolish retirement at 60, a cherished symbol for the French left of its victories under late president Francois Mitterrand.
French retirees receive 85 percent of their pension payments from state schemes, compared to an average of 61 percent among member states of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).
Although 60 is the theoretical minimum age for retirement on a full state pension, various special schemes exist in the public sector for those with jobs perceived as tough or those who started in work in their teens.
On average French men retire at 58.7 years and women at 59.5, compared to an OECD average of 63.5 and 62.3, according to the body.
"It's a demographic problem. France is behind Malta as the country where we work the least," Budget Minister Francois Baroin told i-Tele.
Pensions account for the bulk of the social security budget, which can no longer in itself cover payments, with the excess being covered by state borrowing, forcing up France's public deficit.
According to the French government's panel studying pension finance, the shortfall between pension contributions and spending was 10.9 billion euros in 2008 and will rise to between 71.6 billion and 114.4 billion by 2050.