Caroline Glick: The reign of the fantasists
Defense Minister Ehud Barak has done it again. Speaking on Wednesday at the Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv, Barak warned that if Israel can't cut a deal with the Palestinians soon, it should consider surrendering Judea and Samaria in exchange for nothing.
Even the diehard leftists in the media had a hard time swallowing his words. After all, when Barak was premier, he oversaw Israel's unilateral surrender of south Lebanon in 2000. Barak promised that by giving Hezbollah south Lebanon, Israel would force the Iranian proxy army to disarm and behave like a Western political party.
Then of course, there is the Gaza precedent.
Ignoring the lesson of Lebanon, Barak's successor Ariel Sharon reenacted his unilateral surrender policy in Gaza in 2005. Like Barak, Sharon promised that once Gaza was cleared of all Jewish presence, it would magically transform itself into a Middle Eastern version of Singapore.
Both Barak and Sharon promised that their unilateral surrender policies would do more than merely transform Hezbollah and Hamas into liberal democrats. They said that by cutting and running, Israel would earn the love of the international community, and winning the love of the likes of Washington and Brussels, they said, was the most urgent item on Israel's agenda.
FP: I already commented on this Barak idiocy. If you were Iran, how would you be affected by former Israeli security and intelligence officials openly speaking against a military attack? And how would the Arabs be affected by an active defense minister openly declaring that if they continued to refuse to negotiate for land and promote terror, they should get it anyway? This after the same thing was already done more than once in the past, with dire consequences.
This is not a matter of ideology but basic common sense. How somebody who lacks it can become chief of staff, defense minister and Prime Minister escapes me, but it certainly explains why Israel keeps defeating itself.
Jonathan Tobin: Latest Leak: Obama the Computer Warrior
The covert action undertaken by the administration was appropriate and should be continued. But for all of the breathless patting themselves on the back that comes through in the Sanger piece, another familiar theme to observers of the Obama administration emerges: hostility to Israel. Sanger’s sources claim that Stuxnet’s failure was Israel’s fault.
An error in the code, they said, had led it to spread to an engineer’s computer when it was hooked up to the centrifuges. When the engineer left Natanz and connected the computer to the Internet, the American- and Israeli-made bug failed to recognize that its environment had changed. It began replicating itself all around the world. Suddenly, the code was exposed, though its intent would not be clear, at least to ordinary computer users.
“We think there was a modification done by the Israelis,” one of the briefers told the president, “and we don’t know if we were part of that activity.”
Mr. Obama, according to officials in the room, asked a series of questions, fearful that the code could do damage outside the plant. The answers came back in hedged terms. Mr. Biden fumed. “It’s got to be the Israelis,” he said. “They went too far.”
We don’t really know whether this true and neither does Sanger or Vice President Biden, but it is telling that in a piece dedicated to promoting the idea of President Obama as a ground-breaking cyber warrior, there would have to be a passage trashing the Israelis.
Leaks like these can only add to the level of distrust the Israelis feel for the administration’s intentions on Iran. The administration’s effort to enhance its image via these stories is a poor substitute for a genuine commitment to do whatever it takes to end the nuclear threat that can’t be stopped by viruses alone.
FP: I ask again: how do the Obama policies indicating hostility to Israel affect the enemies, particularly Iran and the Arabs? It’s this and the previous sort of thing that reflect poor judgment and the lack of strategic thinking.
Elliott Abrams asks: Who Will Investigate the Leaks?
If the effort is highly classified, and if parts of it continue to this day, revealing the information contained in the article is a criminal act. What was the justification for these revelations to a reporter? Self-aggrandizement? The political interests of the president? The story contains details about events at the White House that European and Israeli officials would not have had–nor would officials at middle levels at CIA. Such information came from high-ranking officials at the White House, leading again to the suspicion about political motives. Just days ago it was revealed that meetings on counter-terrorism policy, at which the next names for the drone kill list were selected, were attended by the president’s political adviser David Axelrod.
All of this would have been viewed as a scandal had it occurred in the Bush Administration. Ask yourself what the New York Times would have said about Karl Rove attending any such meetings–which by the way he never did. You need not ask yourself what the Times and other liberal outlets would have said about leaks, for they mounted a gigantic campaign against one minor leak–that of the name of Valerie Plame, a CIA official. Where are the calls for a special prosecutor to investigate the leak after leak coming from this White House on the most sensitive intelligence operations, leaks whose only thread is that they make the president look tough? Until a serious investigation is launched, these leaks will continue and the damage they do to American intelligence operations will continue to mount.
But Charles Krauthammer correctly points out in Barack Obama: Drone Warrior:
This was no leak. This was a White House press release.
Why? To portray Obama as tough guy. And why now? Because in crisis after recent crisis, Obama has looked particularly weak: standing helplessly by as thousands are massacred in Syria; being played by Iran in nuclear negotiations, now reeling with the collapse of the latest round in Baghdad; being treated with contempt by Vladimir Putin, who blocks any action on Syria or Iran and adds personal insult by standing up Obama at the latter’s G-8 and NATO summits.
That ad also highlighted the many self-references Obama made in announcing the bin Laden raid: “I can report . . . I directed . . . I met repeatedly . . . I determined . . . at my direction . . . I, as commander in chief,” etc. ad nauseam. (Eisenhower’s announcement of the D-Day invasion made not a single mention of his role, whereas the alternate statement he’d prepared had the landing been repulsed was entirely about it being his failure.)
Obama only compounded the self-aggrandizement problem when he spoke a week later about the military “fighting on my behalf.”
A rather strange ethics. You go around the world preening about how America has turned a new moral page by electing a president profoundly offended by George W. Bush’s belligerence and prisoner maltreatment, and now you’re ostentatiously telling the world that you personally play judge, jury and executioner to unseen combatants of your choosing and whatever innocents happen to be in their company.
The American intelligence operations mean nothing to Obama if he cannot take credit for them and is reelected. And the press not only lets him get away with it, it cooperates.
Head of Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood Badie reminds followers of movement’s “sacrifices” in efforts to destroy the Jewish state.
The head of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood has called on Arab forces to confront Israel and for the international community to pressure the “Zionist government to withdraw from the land of Palestine.”
The comments by Brotherhood General Guide Mohammed Badie came in a written statement issued May 17 to commemorate Nakba Day, when Palestinians and other Arabs mourn Israel’s creation in 1948.
Dan Schueftan, director of the National Security Studies Center at the University of Haifa, said the question of Palestine has always been at the forefront of Brotherhood doctrine.
“This rhetoric has little to do with the Palestinians, and a lot to do with the fact that all this land is Muslim, and Israel is therefore inherently illegitimate,” he said. “Egypt is moving from a bad situation to a much worse one. Naturally, Israel will suffer: when Egypt can’t deal with its own problems, it will deflect them at us.”
FP: Isn’t that what I keep saying? And it does look like the MB is “moderate” enough for the West, to not be bothered by its stance on Israel.
Elder of Ziyon: Documentary exposing the impotence of the UN coming tomorrow
From an interview with the filmmaker, Ami Horowitz:
Many conservatives in the United States are critical of the U.N. because they believe it threatens U.S. national sovereignty. Many progressives would be livid at some of the corruption you expose in your film. Which of these two broad groups (and I realize we’re dealing with generalizations and labels here) would you say U.N. Me has resonated with the most? Do you think this could be an issue where concerned inAmericans can unite across the partisan divide in support of substantive solutions?
Horowitz: I knew that conservatives were going to be attracted to this movie. That was the basis of our entire model. It was the liberals that were going to be the wild card. At first, the working assumption was that they would reject the movie as conservative claptrap. But once we began screenings, the opposite was true. Liberals began to change their entire viewpoint on the United Nations after seeing the movie. The only distinction between conservatives and liberals, was that liberals were so outraged by what they saw on screen, the humor got in their way. Conservatives, on the other hand, were aware of many of the issues that we discussed, so they were able to enjoy the humor far more.
Has any general ideological group, or specific individual or organization been especially hostile to the message in your film?
Horowitz: I find that Europeans generally are particularly hostile to the movie. They find the idea of a moral high ground to be an obnoxious thought. They also find that preaching against a particular ideology, for instance radical Islam, is dubious, possibly even racist. Their moral compass has been broken for years. They find that my focus on corruption and wastefulness borders on greediness.
FP: The European hostility to the film should hardly surprise: They like the bureaucracy, corruption, waste, unaccountability and incompetence of the UN so much that they replicated them in the EU. Their colonialist guilt and self-dhmmification induced by Islamization helps.
Bill Katz: IS THIS AMERICA?
Leon Panetta is one of the few grown-ups in the Obama administration, so I'm assuming this policy statement was directed by his boss, by way of the faculty lounge. From Fox:
While Syria is blaming rebel fighters for a weekend massacre in Houla, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta says he doesn't see the U.S. taking military action without the backing of the U.N. Security Council.
Panetta says his greatest responsibility is to make sure that if U.S. troops are deployed in any military role, that America has the support it needs from the international community.
"But, ultimately, you know, the international community and the president of the United States are going to have to decide what steps to take," Panetta told reporters traveling with him to the Shangri-La Dialogue, a prominent defense conference in Singapore.
Weren't we once the United States of America, a sovereign nation? I think so. I recall it. But now we have our own secretary of defense telling us that, if thousands are being massacred, we cannot take action without the approval of the UN Security Council, where Vladimir Putin and the dictators of China have veto power. And we have to depend on them?
It's pretty shameful. But our nation is now run by a president who really believes all that college stuff about the "international community." There is no international community. There are individual nations with their own interests.
Are we just suckers? Or is it worse? Our foreign policy should never be held hostage to an egomaniac in Moscow. This is a low moment, one of many we've had in the last three years.
FP: The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are examples of American behavior that Katz and others are nostalgic for, and they did not end beneficially for the US. Ditto for practically every American intervention since WW2. America does not have the foreign knowledge, cunning or, if necessary, the stomach to do whatever it takes to come out of interventions, particularly in the ME, with its power status enhanced. And now, due to destructive domestic policies, it lacks the resources too.
The notion that competitors and enemies don’t sense that and, therefore, and illusion. Attempts to to operate on the illusion of power is very dangerous and must be resisted.
Also from Katz: OUR WAYWARD EDUCATORS
The question must be asked: Is education too important to be left to the educators? When we look around us, the answers becomes increasingly obvious.
Reader Joseph J. Gallick refers us to an excellent piece on the scandalous business of grade inflation. It's by University of Michigan economist Mark Perry, and gives us an idea of why so many people are asking so many tough questions about our schools, at every level:
In 1960, the average undergraduate grade awarded in the College of Liberal Arts at the University of Minnesota was 2.27 on a four-point scale. In other words, the average letter grade at the University of Minnesota in the early 1960s was about a C+, and that was consistent with average grades at other colleges and universities in that era. In fact, that average grade of C+ (2.30-2.35 on a 4-point scale) had been pretty stable at America’s colleges going all the back to the 1920s (see chart above from GradeInflation.com, a website maintained by Stuart Rojstaczer, a retired Duke University professor who has tirelessly crusaded for several decades against “grade inflation” at U.S. universities).
By 2006, the average GPA at public universities in the U.S. had risen to 3.01 and at private universities to 3.30. That means that the average GPA at public universities in 2006 was equivalent to a letter grade of B, and at private universities a B+, and it’s likely that grades and GPAs have continued to inflate over the last six years.
Grade inflation is back in the news today, with a Minneapolis Star Tribune article today “At U, concern grows that ‘A’ stands for average":
“A University of Minnesota chemistry professor has thrust the U into a national debate about grade inflation and the rigor of college, pushing his colleagues to stop pretending that average students are excellent and start making clear to employers which students are earning their A’s."
The connections among “grade inflation, “tuition inflation,” “college textbook inflation,” and exponentially rising student loan debt are important. Perhaps students find it easier to accept rising tuition, higher textbook prices (many selling for $200-300 now), and $25,000 in average student loan debt if they at least graduate with mostly As and a GPA above 3.0? Even if they can’t find a job, they can take pride in having “earned” an inflated GPA.
From what I've seen, many of our "colleges" are glorified high schools, although there certainly are some elite, rigorous institutions. But even in some of the elite places, grade inflation is the order. And too often education has been replaced by indoctrination in political and social beliefs. Show that you've learned well the party line, and you will be rewarded with a delightful grade.
FP: The collapse of Western education and its substitution with left/multi-culti indoctrination and vocational training has been a constant issue of this blog. It does have a personal significance for me, because that was one of the several reasons for my desillusion with academia and my decision not to pursue an intended career in it. And grade inflation was of the first things that bothered me.
When I arrived at a US Ivy League university for graduate studies and I served as a teaching assistant, I was naive enough to assume that the students should be graded in accordance to how much of the course material they showed knowledge and comprehension with via class participation, papers, quizzes, exams and so on: if they demonstrated half of that, they would get a 50, all would get 100 and so on. To my surprise I was told to grade “on the curve”: the best student in the class should get 100, the worst should fail and the others should be normally distributed in between, regardless of what their level of competence in the subject was.
Later on I taught a technical course at a local university and one of the students was dissatisfied with his low grade and complained that I was the only teacher who gave him a low grade, as all the others were “giving him A’s for just breathing”.
Katz’s post describes the logical conclusion of grade inflation and justifies my decision to leave academia.
Howie Carr: Flipping Liz Warren’s credibility flops
Granny wrote in 2000 that foreclosure sales “are notorious for fetching low prices.” And boy, would she know.
Here’s a foreclosed property she picked up in Oklahoma City at 2123 NW 14th St. for $4,000 in 1993. She transferred it to her brother and his wife in March 2004 and they sold it for $30,000 in February 2006.
The prior owners of the $4,000 house were Richard and Shelley Walter, who had a son who served as a Marine in Iraq. I wonder if they’ve read Granny’s impassioned attacks on foreclosures: “Foreclosure rates are skyrocketing. Is it a civil right to lose that home in a sheriff’s auction?”
It is if Granny Warren’s picking up some good stuff cheap, a la Bain Capital. Let’s move on to another foreclosure, this one on 500 NW 18th St. in her hometown. She’s listed as the mortgagee on a $55,000 mortgage taken out by her brother John in 1992.
In 1998, John Herring sold the foreclosed house for $140,000.
Lieawatha bragged last fall that she provided the “intellectual foundations” of the national crime wave known as Occupy Wall Street. Everyone assumed she was talking about her turgid prose, not her own wheeling and dealing in the misery of the middle class.
Late last night the campaign issued this statement: “Elizabeth and her husband have worked hard and are fortunate to be in a position where they could help their family members.”
In her book “All Your Worth,” the 32/32nds white woman says it is a myth that “you can make big money buying houses and flipping them quickly.” Really?
The lesson here is, not everything you read is true. For instance, your mother probably told you, “Cheaters never prosper.” Your mother never knew Granny Warren.
FP: The other day I came across a video floating in the Internet showing Massachussetts governor Deval Patrick trying to shut up a journalist who was asking Elisabeth Warren about her Cherokee claims with “We don’t care about that”. I suspect that this new facts about Warren will prompt a much stronger attempt from Patrick to shut up up questions about it because, to put it simply, it reaches too close to home.
If you want to know who (or what) Deval is, read the book I recommended a while ago: The Monster How a Gang of Predatory Lenders and Wall Street Bankers Fleeced America. Michael Hudson writes that when several state Attorneys General were looking into the massively fraudulent behavior of lenders, one of the worst law violators, Ameriquest, tried to “soften” them up with a luxurious dinner, at which they paraded Deval to every one of them and he tried to convince them that everything was OK and and that the “mistakes” were corrected and there was no need to do anything about it.
Warren and Deval are hardly the only fake liberals who exploit the gullibility of the American public by blaming the Republicans/conservatives for the dire circumstances in which America finds itself. The reality is that the problems are systemic, not partisan or ideological. This is what the senility and decline of capitalist democracy looks like.
Steven Hayward: The True Verdict on Edwards
William Jacobson: Obama spikes the Stuxnet