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Heavy-Handed Politics

"€œGod willing, with the force of God behind it, we shall soon experience a world
without the United States and Zionism."€ -- Iran President Ahmadi-Nejad

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Why Ayers Matters

Michael Reagan :
To listen to the Obama spin-masters you’d think that the McCain campaign’s questioning of their candidate’s association with unrepentant terrorist bomber Bill Ayers is a smear tactic falsely elevating a casual relationship between the two men into one where they worked together in promoting Ayers’ far-left goals.

Their reaction to the continuing revelations that disprove that claim is one of sheer panic -- and they have a good reason to be scared witless that any in-depth probe of......

Obama's "Radicalism" a Growing Chasm on Road to Victory

Diana West :
I realized something after Tuesday night's debate: If (big if) Barack Obama is not elected president next month, it will not be John McCain who defeats him.

McCain may be Obama's official opponent, but he isn't making the core case against him: namely, the case against Obama's deep roots in radicalism, which the Democratic nominee has never pulled up and grown away from. This is why if Obama loses on Election Day, it won't be McCain who defeats him. Like a flashy third-party candidate who ends up drawing just enough support from one candidate to put the other over the top, it is Obama's connections to anti-American extremism -- his incubation in a radical comfort zone home to ex-Weather Underground leader William Ayers, ex-PLO mouthpiece Rashid Khalidi, anti-white-and-anti-"middleclassness" minister Jeremiah Wright and others -- that will doom his presidential ambitions.
[Read more]

Oil prices skid to 2008 low on falling demand
Oil prices closed down Wednesday after touching their lowest level this year, pressured by a huge jump in U.S. crude inventories and more signs of dwindling demand.

Light, sweet crude for November delivery fell $1.11 to settle at $88.95 on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Oil at one point fell to $86.05 _ the lowest price since Dec. 6, 2007.

In London, November Brent crude sank to a one-year.......

Wall Street 101

Victor Davis Hanson :
Until the past few weeks, the financial panic was still mostly far away on Wall Street. But not now.

Car loans, mortgages and college financing are suddenly harder to come by. Millions are stuck in houses not worth what is owed on them. Cash-strapped consumers are cutting back. The economy is slowing. Jobs are disappearing. Who wants to open quarterly 401(k) statements only to learn that everything they put away in retirement accounts the past two or three years is gone?

There is plenty of blame to go around. Greedy Wall Street speculators took mega-bonuses even when they knew their leveraged companies were tottering -- and someone else would pick up the tab. Crooked or stupid politicians allowed Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to squander billions, as they raked in campaign donations and crowed about their politically correct support for millions of shaky -- and now mostly defaulting -- buyers.

The new national gospel became charge now/pay later and speculate, rather than put something away in case of a downturn. To provide more goodies that we hadn't earned, politicians ignored soaring annual budget deficits and staggering national debt and kept spending. [Read more]

The Obama-Ayers Connection

Dick Morris and Eileen McGann :
In the best tradition of Bill Clinton’s famous declaration that the answer to the question of whether or not he was having an affair with Monica depended on “what the definition of ‘is’ is,” Barack Obama was clearly splitting hairs and concealing the truth when he said that William Ayers was “just a guy who lives in my neighborhood.”

The records of the administration of the Chicago Annenberg Challenge (CAC), released last week by the University of Illinois, show that the Ayers-Obama connection was, in fact, an intimate collaboration and that it led to the only executive or administrative experience in Obama’s life.

After Walter Annenberg’s foundation offered several....... [more]

In Defense of "The Rich"

Larry Elder :
So, what do "the rich" pay in federal income taxes? Nothing, right? That, at least, is what most people think. And Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama wants to raise the top marginal rate for "the rich" -- known in some quarters as "job creators."

A recent poll commissioned by Investor's Business Daily asked, in effect, "What share do you think the rich pay?" Their findings? Most people are completely clueless about the amount the rich actually do pay.[Read more]

The Real Obama: Part III

Thomas Sowell :
What about those "real issues" that Barack Obama's supporters in the media say we should get back to, whenever some new unsavory fact about his past comes out?

Surely education is a real issue, with American school children consistently scoring below those in other countries, and children in minority communities faring worst of all.

What about Senator Obama's position on this real issue? As with other issues, he has talked one way and acted the opposite way.

The education situation in Obama's home base of Chicago is one of the worst in the nation for the children-- and one of the best for the unionized teachers.

Fewer than one-third of Chicago's high-school juniors meet the statewide standards on tests. Only 6 percent of...... [more]

No, Barack, Medical Care is Not a 'Right'

By Dr. Lee Hieb

At last night’s presidential debate, Barack Obama led the charge for government run health care by declaring in no uncertain terms that health care is a “right”. I suppose he thinks Tom and the boys accidentally left that one out of the Constitution. Or maybe it is an extension (in his mind) of the right to life.

But let’s think about this a minute. When our American form of government was created to form “a more perfect union” by insuring the “rights” of its citizens, it recognized only the “inalienable rights”. And to protect those rights, which I’m pretty sure only included life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, the government was empowered to use force if necessary.

We created armed forces (and finally an adequate border patrol) to protect our people’s life and liberty from foreign invasion, and then police to protect our pursuit of happiness in the form of private property. So how will we insure medical care? Continue reading.

The Anti-JFK

By Elisabeth Meinecke

Praise his charisma, his ability to relate, the supposedly debonair figure he cuts in a suit, but realize Obama emerged Tuesday as the anti-JFK with a refrain that should offend young Americans: ask what your government can do for you, not what you can do for your country.

I’m part of this young vote, an age bracket known for waging daily Wars of Independence. And this dearly-bought trait is exactly what Obama wants to rob me of.

Take his tax plan. As a young voter earning a typical starting salary, (which puts me in the 95 percent Obama has decreed “middle class”), I get a tax cut, but at the expense of 5 percent of my fellow workers, who will pick up the slack in the budget.

I know a lot of hard-working Americans -- such as my father -- who fall into that 5 percent. They’ve worked darn hard to get there, often at the expense of their health. They may live comfortably, but they’re not living like Brad Pitt, either. Yet Obama proposes I vote so that I get a tax break which my father will have to pay for. So much for being financially independent. So much for the dreams of my father.

Read on.

This is scary stuff folks. Orwellian.

Hands up! You're under arrest for saying 'Hussein Obama!'
"We have seen many changes in this great nation which have been brought about by left wing activists. As kids, we used to say the Pledge of Allegiance. Now, it's being attacked in the courts. We used to say a prayer in the morning before school or at football games. Socialists in America have deemed that "offensive" and the practice has all but disappeared. Christmas displays honoring the birth of Christ trigger convulsions by the Left, who say that we shouldn't make people feel "uncomfortable" with our manger scenes.

Now, we can't even say what we want to say in public because not only will the thought police be on patrol, but, using a recent event in Florida as an example, saying "Hussein Obama" in public might just get you a visit from the FBI. Just ask Florida's Lee County Sheriff Mike Scott who is under fire -- and investigation -- for referring to Obama at a campaign rally by his -- gasp -- full name. What is going on with America?

At a rally in Estero, Florida on Monday for Gov. Sarah Palin, one of the pre-rally speakers was Sheriff Scott. Now, anyone who has been to a political rally knows that the job of the warm-up speakers is to do exactly as the name implies: warm-up the audience. Whether the audience is cheering wildly or booing loudly, the pre-rally speakers are there to wake them up and get them going. So... according to ABC News, Sheriff Scott stepped to the podium and said, "On November 4, let's leave Barack Hussein Obama wondering what happened."

Oh, the shock of it all! Speaking someone's full legal name in public! When asked about the "incident," Sheriff Scott responded by saying:

“I absolutely, unequivocally don’t regret saying it,” Scott told the News-Press on Monday. “In order to be a speaker at this event, I had to give my full name — Michael Joseph Scott — to the Secret Service, even though I’m the sheriff of Lee County. So why would I apologize? Is there some kind of double standard here where I have to give my full name, but I can’t use his?”

“Unless he changed his name, my position hasn’t changed,” said Scott of Obama. “It seems very clear to me that people have one of three stances on this thing: There are those who dislike it, there are those who like it, and there are those who think it’s a whole big deal about nothing, which is where I stand.”

As noted in the Cape Coral Daily Breeze, the Palin campaign responded by issuing the following statement:

“We do not condone this inappropriate rhetoric which distracts from the real questions of judgment, character and experience that voters will base their decisions on this November.”

Fair enough. If Palin or anyone else wants to say the usage of Barack Hussein Obama is inappropriate, he or she has a right to do so. But Sheriff Scott also has a right to say what he wants to say without fear of reprisal by the government. However, according to a local Florida NBC affiliate, Sheriff Scott's remark has now earned him an investigation by the federal government.

The NBC station reports that officials with the U.S. Office of Special Counsel have started an investigation of the Sheriff under the question of "did he use his position as sheriff to influence an election? If so, he could be in violation of a federal election law called the Hatch Act." The basis the Feds are using is whether Scott was campaigning while on duty and in uniform.

Sheriff Scott responded to the NBC story with the following statement:

"I am on duty 24/7 and 365 whether in or out of uniform. Like every other elected official, I am aware of from President to Governor to State Representatives, etc. We engage in political activities whether for ourselves as candidates or for others. As of this writing, I am unaware of having done anything to generate all this attention other than using the senator's full name."

The question is this... If Sheriff Scott had not said "Barack Hussein Obama," do you really think he would now be under investigation? If you answered "no," then that should send a shiver down your spine, because it means that the government is imposing pressure and creating a public example of Scott for simply saying someone's name.

Whether the investigation leads to charges or legal action is not the point. The point is that government intimidation is being brought to bear for someone exercising his first amendment right to free speech. This is wrong, regardless of whether you think his usage of Barack Hussein Obama was appropriate or not. This is still America, isn't it?"
By Bobby Eberle
The Loft

Taking it in the arrears

The Bailaholics

Tombstone, Ariz., has nothing on Washington, D.C. Friday's financial OK Corral took place when federal politicians had a standoff over the mother of all bailout bills. Bullets called ballots were fired from both congressional houses and the White House. And when the smoke cleared, the bad guys appeared: Bush, Paulson, Barney Frank, Pelosi, Dodd and most of the other members of the House and the Senate, including Obama and even McCain.

The truth is most members of Congress voted to pass the bill but don't have a clue what is in this 500-plus-page legislation, which was birthed in the White House just two weeks ago as an infant of only three pages. Then it was voted down at the Capitol a week later in its adolescent-sized 100 pages. And of course, in good bureaucratic fashion, it met the criteria to be mature when it was more than five times that size and packed with governmental goodies. And the president signed it just an hour after receiving it from Capitol Hill Friday. I guess that speed-reading course paid off.

In the fine print, inserted between the lines of that 500-plus-page bill, are loads of fiscal additives and more financial toxic relief. H.R. 1424 -- the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008, which now has been signed into law -- officially includes more than $112 billion in political hors d'oeuvres and pork-barrel teasers and sweeteners that have absolutely no direct relation to the Wall Street bailout but were included to bribe congressional naysayers and others to get on the greed train:

[Continue reading]

Pull The Hair Plug On This Guy

If Sarah Palin had made just one of the wildly inaccurate statements smugly uttered by Sen. Joe Biden in last week's vice presidential debate, there would have been 3-inch headlines in newspapers across America. (I can almost hear Katie Couric asking me, "Which newspapers?")

These weren't insignificant errors, such as when Biden said, "Look, all you have to do is go down Union Street with me in Wilmington or go to Katie's restaurant or walk into Home Depot with me where I spend a lot of time, and you ask anybody in there whether or not the economic and foreign policy of this administration has made them better off in the last eight years."

It turns out that Katie's restaurant, where Biden gets his feel for the average American, closed 20 years ago. The only evidence that he spends any time in Home Depot is that it appears that a pipe wrench fell on his head one too many times.

[Continue reading]

"We established however some, although not all its [self-government] important principles . The constitutions of most of our States assert, that all power is inherent in the people; that they may exercise it by themselves, in all cases to which they think themselves competent, (as in electing their functionaries executive and legislative, and deciding by a jury of themselves, in all judiciary cases in which any fact is involved,) or they may act by representatives, freely and equally chosen; that it is their right and duty to be at all times armed."

-- Thomas Jefferson --

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

What the HELL ?????

Al Qaeda Could Exploit U.S. Visa Program, Feinstein Says

U.S. Homeland Security officials should adopt a more restrictive approach to the visa waiver program rather than expand it at a time when terrorists are probing for immigration loopholes, said Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) during a recent hearing on Capitol Hill. The visa waiver program allows citizens in participating countries to enter the United States without obtaining a visa or being interviewed or screened in U.S. embassies and consulates. Bush administration officials are “moving aggressively” to expand the program to include 13 new countries before the end of the year ......

NBC’s Brokaw Asks No Questions on Iraq, Immigration, Abortion or Same-Sex Marriage

NBC’s Brokaw Asks No Questions on Iraq, Immigration, Abortion or Same-Sex Marriage

Neither Tom Brokaw of NBC News, who moderated Tuesday night’s presidential debate, nor any of the “townhall” audience members Brokaw pre-selected to ask questions of the two presidential candidates asked a single question about immigration, abortion, same-sex marriage or the war in Iraq. All questions were screened and chosen by NBC’s Brokaw, who kept the focus almost exclusively on the economy and foreign policy. [Continue reading]


Don't Be Fooled By Word Games: Taxes Are Headed Up Regardless
Federal income taxes are about to go up sharply, but you wouldn't know it listening to the majority in Congress.

With the coming expiration of the Bush tax cuts, tax rates on income will rise. And with the alternative minimum tax poised to hit tens of millions of Americans with the expiration of the latest "patch," the Treasury will collect even more tax revenue.

All of this will happen automatically, without action by Congress or the president.

Tax increases on automatic pilot spawn political word games that mislead and numb the electorate. Under conventional "current law" accounting, for example, when a tax cut expires and marginal tax rates are forced higher, budget officials do not see this as a tax increase at all. But tell that to the couple who see their federal tax liability jump for no apparent reason.

We suggest that a better way of measuring federal taxes......

Econ 101: The Financial Crisis and Danger of Government Intervention

By Gary Wolfram
Business & Media Institute

Ludwig von Mises in a classic 1927 book, Liberalism, wrote that government intervention in markets would lead inevitably to unintended consequences that resulted in further government intervention.

The current financial difficulties are the result of a series of government actions that has culminated in vastly expanded government intervention in the credit markets, which may provide short-term relief but is dangerous in the long run.

It is difficult to correct a problem when the cause of the problem is misunderstood. The presidential and vice-presidential candidates have all said that “Wall Street greed” has led to the financial mess we are in. On the very face of it, this does not seem likely. Even if greed leads to problems, is it possible that greed has suddenly become much greater than before?

One beauty of the market system is that individual self-interest.....


Amanda Carpenter:
McGovern Criticizes Dems on Big Labor
Former Democratic presidential candidate George McGovern is taking a prominent role a $30 million campaign to oppose Democratic-backed “card check” legislation that would eliminate the secret ballot process required to unionize workplaces.

The Employee Freedom Action Committee, will premiere its first major ad during the second presidential debate Tuesday evening to criticize the Democratic Party for......

Team Obama Spin Lies About Ayers

Amanda Carpenter

Since Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin has specifically targeted Barack Obama on the campaign trail for "palling around" with domestic terrorist William Ayers, Obama?s chief advisors seem to be at loss for words. [CONTINUE.....]


Roger Schlesinger:

As the stock market flutters and moves lower and while the rest of the world is starting to shake we are led to believe that approximately 6 million Americans, who have or are going to have a foreclosed property are the cause of the entire mess. [CONTINUE READING]

Obama's Truth Deficit

By Maggie Gallagher
When John Murtagh was 9 years old, Bill Ayers' friends tried to kill him.

"I remember my mother's pulling me from the tangle of sheets and running to the kitchen where my father stood. Through the large windows overlooking the yard, all we could see was the bright glow of flames below. We didn't leave our burning house for fear of who might be waiting outside," wrote Murtagh in the April 2008 issue of the City Journal.

To the best of John's recollection, Bernardine Dohrn, who is now Bill Ayers' wife, first claimed credit for bombing John's home -- along with other targets -- in November of 1970.

Barack Obama was only 8 years old when Murtagh's house was bombed. Obama has nothing to do with the terror and the trauma John Murtagh and his family went through.

"It's a sensitive issue for us. My mom is still alive -- she's 83. She literally had to snatch her children out of the house in the middle of the night because her house was on fire," John told me.

But Barack Obama was not a child -- he was a grown man -- when he decided his personal path to power and influence lay through Bill Ayers' connections.

How does Barack Obama come to continue to associate with a man who cannot bring himself to say to John Murtagh or to John's mother or any other kin of the attacked: "I'm sorry. I was wrong. It was a terrible thing to do."

Obama's campaign is busy fudging. That's a polite word for "lying." Barack Obama's top political adviser is claiming Obama simply didn't know Ayers' history when they first met. Bomber? What bomber? READ MORE.

Terence Jeffrey:
The Obama Debate Every American Should See
The most telling debate Barack Obama ever had was not with John McCain but Patrick O'Malley, who served with Obama in the Illinois Senate and engaged Obama in a colloquy every American should read.

The Obama-O'Malley debate was a defining moment for Obama because it dealt with such a fundamental issue: The state's duty to protect the civil rights of the young and disabled.

Some background: Eight years ago....

Brent Bozell III:
Saving Liberal Fannies
They're out there finding fault only with the evil private sector. The mushrooming federal government and the stewards of its never-ending expansion cannot be questioned.[READ MORE]

Lessons From the Bailout

By Walter E. Williams

In my more cynical moments, I think that we Americans deserve what we get from our politicians, many of whom can be generally described as nothing less than loathsome. [READ MORE]

Try Free Enterprise

By John Stossel:

When so many politicians speak with one voice in support of the biggest act of government intervention in the economy in generations, I cringe. [READ MORE]

The Real Obama Part II

Thomas Sowell
A recent Republican campaign ad sarcastically described as Barack Obama's "one accomplishment" his supporting a bill to promote sex education in kindergarten.

During an interview of a Republican spokesman, Tom Brokaw of NBC News replayed that ad and asked if that was something serious to be discussed in a presidential election campaign.

It was a variation on an old theme about getting back to "the real issues," just as Brokaw's question was a variation on an increasingly widespread tendency among journalists to become a squad of Obama avengers, instead of reporters.

Does it matter if Barack Obama is for sex education in kindergarten? It matters more than most things that are called "the real issues."

Seemingly unrelated things can give important insights into .... [READ ON]

The ACORN/Obama Voter Registration "Thug Thizzle"

Michelle Malkin
Systemic corruption of our election process continues. Barack Obama and his old friends at ACORN and Project Vote are leading the way. This radical revolution is taking place in your backyard.

On Monday, the two liberal groups announced the wrap-up of a 21-state voter registration drive targeting low-income people and minorities in battleground states including Ohio, Pennsylvania, Colorado, Florida, New Mexico and Wisconsin.

What's wrong with that? For starters, these two groups are militant partisan outfits purporting to engage in nonpartisan civic activity. And their campaign comes amid an avalanche of fresh voter-fraud allegations involving ACORN in many of those same key states.

On Tuesday, Nevada state officials raided ACORN's Las Vegas office after election authorities accused the group of submitting multiple voter registrations with fake and duplicate names.

ACORN, which receives 40 percent of its revenues from American taxpayers to pursue an aggressive welfare-state agenda, has already helped register over 1.27 million people nationwide. The rest of their funding comes from left-wing heavyweights like billionaire George Soros and the Democracy Alliance.


Tuesday, October 07, 2008

The Real Obama

By Thomas Sowell
Critics of Senator Barack Obama make a strategic mistake when they talk about his "past associations." That just gives his many defenders in the media an opportunity to counter-attack against "guilt by association."

We all have associations, whether at the office, in our neighborhood or in various recreational activities. Most of us neither know nor care what our associates believe or say about politics.

Associations are very different from alliances. Allies are.......

"Tis folly in one Nation to look for disinterested favors from another; that it must pay with a portion of its Independence for whatever it may accept under that character; that by such acceptance, it may place itself in the condition of having given equivalents for nominal favours and yet of being reproached with ingratitude for not giving more. There can be no greater error than to expect, or calculate upon real favours from Nation to Nation. 'Tis an illusion which experience must cure, which a just pride ought to discard."

-- George Washington --

Barack Obama's Friends

By Hugh Hewitt

Barack Obama has been friends with the radical and unrepentant terrorists Bill Ayers and Bernadine Dohrn since the 1990s. Ayers has served on boards alongside Obama and--with Dohrn--has hosted one of Obama's earliest political events when the Democratic nominee first sought to enter the Illinois State Senate.

Obama downplays his friendship with Ayers, even as he has tried to distance himself from convicted felon Tony Rezko--the man who helped purchase Obama?s Chicago home. But even with a sympathetic media covering for him, Obama cannot escape the worrisome questions about his judgment.

If Barack Obama lacked the good sense to stay far away from an America-hater who as recently as November of last year was denouncing the country, how can we trust him to staff 3,000 jobs in an administration, including the most sensitive jobs at the Pentagon, Justice and State Departments?

N. Koreans said working at secret site near Teheran on nuke warheads

Globalization, here we come!

U.S. kills Al Qaida operative behind recent Iraq suicide attacks

Syria rejects request by IAEA nuclear inspectors to visit military sites


Political Assaults Help Uncover Pols' Flaws For The Voters

If there is one Darwinian adaptation that the American people have made to modern times, it is the ability to sift through a wide variety of claims and to determine for themselves which are specious and which are accurate. We realize that the days during which we could trust any one media outlet or candidate to give us the full story are long over -- if they ever existed in the first place. We realize that truth is a synthesis of the various claims made by the left and the right, the Democrats and Republicans, and the incumbents and the challengers.

Voters see negative advertising as another form of information. They so distrust politicians that they want to see their ......


By George Friedman
Geopolitical Weekly

German Chancellor Angela Merkel went to St. Petersburg last week for meetings with Russian President Dmitri Medvedev. The central question on the table was Germany’s position on NATO expansion, particularly with regard to Ukraine and Georgia. Merkel made it clear at a joint press conference that Germany would oppose NATO membership for both of these countries, and that it would even oppose placing the countries on the path to membership. Since NATO operates on the basis of consensus, any member nation can effectively block any candidate from NATO membership.

The fact that Merkel and Germany have chosen this path is of great significance. Merkel acted in full knowledge of the U.S. view on the matter and is prepared to resist any American pressure that might follow. It should be remembered that Merkel might be the most pro-American politician in Germany, and perhaps its most pro-American chancellor in years. Moreover, as an East German, she has a deep unease about the Russians. Reality, however, overrode her personal inclinations. More than other countries, Germany does not want to alienate the United States. But it is in a position to face American pressure should any come.

Energy Dependence and Defense Spending

In one sense, Merkel’s reasons for her stance are simple. Germany is heavily dependent on Russian natural gas. If the supply were cut off, Germany’s situation would be desperate — or at least close enough that the distinction would be academic. Russia might decide it could not afford to cut off natural gas exports, but Merkel is dealing with a fundamental German interest, and risking that for Ukrainian or Georgian membership in NATO is not something she is prepared to do.

She can’t bank on Russian caution in a matter such as this, particularly when the Russians seem to be in an incautious mood. Germany is, of course, looking to alternative sources of energy for the future, and in five years its dependence on Russia might not be nearly as significant. But five years is a long time to hold your breath, and Germany can’t do it.

The German move is not just about natural gas, however. Germany views the U.S. obsession with NATO expansion as simply not in Germany’s interests.

First, expanding NATO guarantees to Ukraine and Georgia is meaningless. NATO and the United States don’t have the military means to protect Ukraine or Georgia, and incorporating them into the alliance would not increase European security. From a military standpoint, NATO membership for the two former Soviet republics is an empty gesture, while from a political standpoint, Berlin sees it as designed to irritate the Russians for no clear purpose.

Next, were NATO prepared to protect Ukraine and Georgia, all NATO countries including Germany would be forced to increase defense expenditures substantially. This is not something that Germany and the rest of NATO want to do.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, Germany spent 1945-1992 being the potential prime battleground of the Cold War. It spent 1992-2008 not being the potential prime battleground. Germany prefers the latter, and it does not intend to be drawn into a new Cold War under any circumstances. This has profound implications for the future of both NATO and U.S.-German relations.

Germany is thus in the midst of a strategic crisis in which it must make some fundamental decisions. To understand the decisions Germany has to make, we need to understand the country’s geopolitical problem and the decisions it has made in the past.

The German Geopolitical Problem

Until 1871, Germany was fragmented into dozens of small states — kingdoms, duchies, principalities, etc. — comprising the remnants of the Holy Roman Empire. The German-speaking world was torn apart by internal tensions and the constant manipulation of foreign powers.

The southeastern part of the German-speaking world, Austria, was the center of the multinational Hapsburg Empire. It was Roman Catholic and was continually intruding into the predominantly Catholic regions of the rest of Germany, particularly Bavaria. The French were constantly poaching in the Rhineland and manipulating the balance of power among the German states. Russia was always looming to the east, where it bordered the major Protestant German power, Prussia. (Poland at the time was divided among Prussia, Russia and Austria-Hungary.) Germany was perpetually the victim of great powers, a condition which Prussia spent the roughly half-century between Waterloo and German unification trying to correct.

To unify Germany, Prussia had to do more than dominate the Germans. It had to fight two wars. The first was in 1866 with the Hapsburg Empire, which Prussia defeated in seven weeks, ending Hapsburg influence in Germany and ultimately reducing Austria-Hungary to Germany’s junior partner. The second war was in 1870-1871, when Prussia led a German coalition that defeated France. That defeat ended French influence in the Rhineland and gave Prussia the space in which to create a modern, unified Germany. Russia, which was pleased to see both Austria-Hungary and France defeated and viewed a united Germany as a buffer against another French invasion, did not try to block unification.

German unification changed the dynamic of Europe. First, it created a large nation in the heart of Europe between France and Russia. United, Germany was economically dynamic, and its growth outstripped that of France and the United Kingdom. Moreover, it became a naval power, developing a substantial force that at some point could challenge British naval hegemony. It became a major exporting power, taking markets from Britain and France. And in looking around for room to maneuver, Germany began looking east toward Russia. In short, Germany was more than a nation — it was a geopolitical problem.

Germany’s strategic problem was that if the French and Russians attacked Germany simultaneously, with Britain blockading its ports, Germany would lose and revert to its pre-1871 chaos. Given French, Russian and British interest in shattering Germany, Germany had to assume that such an attack would come. Therefore, since the Germans could not fight on two fronts simultaneously, they needed to fight a war pre-emptively, attacking France or Russia first, defeating it and then turning their full strength on the other — all before Britain’s naval blockade could begin to hurt. Germany’s only defense was a two-stage offense that was as complex as a ballet, and would be catastrophic if it failed.

In World War I, executing the Schlieffen Plan, the Germans attacked France first while trying to simply block the Russians. The plan was to first occupy the channel coast and Paris before the United Kingdom could get into the game and before Russia could fully mobilize, and then to knock out Russia. The plan failed in 1914 at the First Battle of the Marnes, and rather than lightning victory, Germany got bogged down in a multifront war costing millions of lives and lasting years. Even so, Germany almost won the war of attrition, causing the United States to intervene and deprive Berlin of victory.

In World War II, the Germans had learned their lesson, so instead of trying to pin down Russia, they entered into a treaty with the Soviets. This secured Germany’s rear by dividing Poland with the Soviet Union. The Soviets agreed to the treaty, expecting Adolf Hitler’s forces to attack France and bog down as Germany had in World War I. The Soviets would then roll West after the bloodletting had drained the rest of Europe. The Germans stunned the Russians by defeating France in six weeks and then turning on the Russians. The Russian front turned into an endless bloodletting, and once again the Americans helped deliver the final blow.

The consequence of the war was the division of Germany into three parts — an independent Austria, a Western-occupied West Germany and a Soviet-occupied East Germany. West Germany again faced the Russian problem. Its eastern part was occupied, and West Germany could not possibly defend itself on its own. It found itself integrated into an American-dominated alliance system, NATO, which was designed to block the Soviets. West and East Germany would serve as the primary battleground of any Soviet attack, with Soviet armor facing U.S. armor, airpower and tactical nuclear weapons. For the Germans, the Cold War was probably more dangerous than either of the previous wars. Whatever the war’s outcome, Germany stood a pretty good chance of being annihilated if it took place.

On the upside, the Cold War did settle Franco-German tensions, which were half of Germany’s strategic problem. Indeed, one of the by-products of the Cold War was the emergence of the European Community, which ultimately became the European Union. This saw German economic union and integration with France, which along with NATO’s military integration guaranteed economic growth and the end of any military threat to Germany from the west. For the first time in centuries, the Rhine was not at risk. Germany’s south was secure, and once the Soviet Union collapsed, there was no threat from the east, either.

United and Secure at Last?

For the first time in centuries, Germany was both united and militarily secure. But underneath it all, the Germans retained their primordial fear of being caught between France and Russia. Berlin understood that this was far from a mature reality; it was no more than a theoretical problem at the moment. But the Germans also understand how quickly things can change. On one level, the problem was nothing more than the economic emphasis of the European Union compared to the geopolitical focus of Russia. But on a deeper level, Germany was, as always, caught between the potentially competing demands of Russia and the West. Even if the problem were small now, there were no guarantees that it wouldn’t grow.

This was the context in which Germany viewed the Russo-Georgian war in August. Berlin saw not only the United States moving toward a hostile relationship with Russia, but also the United Kingdom and France going down the same path.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who happened to hold the rotating EU presidency at the time, went to Moscow to negotiate a cease-fire on behalf of the European Union. When the Russians seemed unwilling to comply with the terms negotiated, France became highly critical of Russia and inclined to back some sort of sanctions at the EU summit on Georgia. With the United Kingdom being even more adamant, Germany saw a worst-case scenario looming on the distant horizon: It understood that the pleasant security of the post-Cold War world was at an end, and that it had to craft a new national strategy.

From Germany’s point of view, the re-emergence of Russian influence in the former Soviet Union might be something that could have been blocked in the 1990s, but by 2008, it had become inevitable. The Germans saw that economic relations in the former Soviet Union — and not only energy issues — created a complementary relationship between Russia and its former empire. Between natural affinities and Russian power, a Russian sphere of influence, if not a formal structure, was inevitable. It was an emerging reality that could not be reversed.

France has Poland and Germany between itself and Russia. Britain has that plus the English Channel, and the United States has all that plus the Atlantic Ocean. The farther away from Russia one is, the more comfortable one can be challenging Moscow. But Germany has only Poland as a buffer. For any nation serious about resisting Russian power, the first question is how to assure the security of the Baltic countries, a long-vulnerable salient running north from Poland. The answer would be to station NATO forces in the Baltics and in Poland, and Berlin understood that Germany would be both the logistical base for these forces as well as the likely source of troops. But Germany’s appetite for sending troops to Poland and the Baltics has been satiated. This was not a course Germany wanted to take.

Pondering German History

We suspect that Merkel knew something else; namely, that all the comfortable assumptions about what was possible and impossible — that the Russians wouldn’t dare attack the Baltics — are dubious in the extreme. Nothing in German history would convince any reasonable German that military action to achieve national ends is unthinkable. Nor are the Germans prepared to dismiss the re-emergence of Russian military power. The Germans had been economically and militarily shattered in 1932. By 1938, they were the major power in Europe. As long as their officer corps and technological knowledge base were intact, regeneration could move swiftly.

The Soviet Union collapsed in 1991 and its military power crumbled. But as was the case in Weimar Germany, the Russian officer corps remained relatively intact and the KGB, the heart of the Soviet state, remained intact if renamed. So did the technological base that made the Soviets a global power. As with Germany after both world wars, Russia was in chaos, but its fragments remained, awaiting reconstruction. The Germans were not about to dismiss Russia’s ability to regenerate — they know their own history too well to do that.

If Germany were to join those who call for NATO expansion, the first step toward a confrontation with Russia would have been taken. The second step would be guaranteeing the security of the Baltics and Poland. America would make the speeches, and Germans would man the line. After spending most of the last century fighting or preparing to fight the Russians, the Germans looked around at the condition of their allies and opted out.

The Germans see their economic commitment as being to the European Union. That binds them to the French, and this is not a bond they can or want to break. But the European Union carries no political or military force in relation to the Russians. Beyond economics, it is a debating society. NATO, as an institution built to resist the Russians, is in an advanced state of decay. To resurrect it, the Germans would have to pay a steep economic price. And if they paid that price, they would be carrying much of the strategic risk.

So while Germany remains committed to its economic relationship with the West, it does not intend to enter into a military commitment against the Russians at this time. If the Americans want to send troops to protect the Baltics and Poland, they are welcome to do so. Germany has no objection — nor do they object to a French or British presence there. Indeed, once such forces were committed, Germany might reconsider its position. But since military deployments in significant numbers are unlikely anytime soon, the Germans view grand U.S. statements about expanded NATO membership as mere bravado by a Washington that is prepared to risk little.

NATO After the German Shift

Therefore, Merkel went to St. Petersburg and told the Russians that Germany does not favor NATO expansion. More than that, the Germans at least implicitly told the Russians that they have a free hand in the former Soviet Union as far as Germany is concerned — an assertion that cost Berlin nothing, since the Russians do enjoy a free hand there. But even more critically, Merkel signaled to the Russians and the West that Germany does not intend to be trapped between Western ambitions and Russian power this time. It does not want to recreate the situation of the two world wars or the Cold War, so Berlin will stay close to France economically and also will accommodate the Russians.

The Germans will thus block NATO’s ambitions, something that represents a dramatic shift in the Western alliance. This shift in fact has been unfolding for quite a while, but it took the Russo-Georgian war to reveal the change.

NATO has no real military power to project to the east, and none can be created without a major German effort, which is not forthcoming. The German shift leaves the Baltic countries exposed and extremely worried, as they should be. It also leaves the Poles in their traditional position of counting on countries far away to guarantee their national security. In 1939, Warsaw counted on the British and French; today, Warsaw depends on the United States. As in 1939, these guarantees are tenuous, but they are all the Poles have.

The United States has the option of placing a nuclear umbrella over the Baltics and Eastern Europe, which would guarantee a nuclear strike on Russia in the event of an attack in either place. While this was the guarantee made to Western Europe in the Cold War, it is unlikely that the United States is prepared for global thermonuclear war over Estonia’s fate. Such a U.S. guarantee to the Baltics and Eastern Europe simply would not represent a credible threat.

The other U.S. option is a major insertion of American forces either by sea through Danish waters or via French and German ports and railways, assuming France or Germany would permit their facilities to be used for such a deployment. But this option is academic at the moment. The United States could not deploy more than symbolic forces even if it wanted to. For the moment, NATO is therefore an entity that issues proclamations, not a functioning military alliance, in spite of (or perhaps because of) deployments in Afghanistan.

Everything in German history has led to this moment. The country is united and wants to be secure. It will not play the role it was forced into during the Cold War, nor will it play geopolitical poker as it did in the first and second world wars. And that means NATO is permanently and profoundly broken. The German question now turns into the Russian question: If Germany is out of the game, what is to be done about Russia?

Monday, October 06, 2008

Do You Know the Real Barack Obama?

By Carol Platt Liebau
As the 2008 presidential campaign hurtles into its final days, John McCain confronts a choice: He can either start telling the public about the real Barack Obama, or he can lose.

For much of his career, McCain has been a media darling. He could count on the press to carry his water as ........

An excuse to expand government and welfare

Welfare state failures are at bottom of the crisis

By Star Parker
As our financial markets totter, as homes go into foreclosure, as Wall Street executives lose millions, as Americans have more and more difficulty getting loans, can anyone be happy?

Certainly. Those on the left who now, with unbounded glee, pen obituaries for the free market.

One can sense their joy as they have, they think, the last laugh.

Bernie Sanders, the far left senator from Vermont, was almost giddy on Larry Kudlow's TV show recently to hear free-marketer Kudlow endorse the bailout and tell Kudlow that he is glad to see he has become a socialist.
Continue reading.

Welcome home, David Mamet.

David Mamet Leaves the Brain Dead Left

By Dinesh D'Souza
The presidential contest is not simply an election about who rules America; it is also an election about which set of principles defines American politics. For the past two and a half decades, conservatism has set the agenda. Is the left making a comeback?

I don't think so. Notice that Democrats avoid terms like......

The "Dear Leader" Obama

By David Aikman

The adulation of Barack Obama by the national media is a marvel to behold. Now we learn that the moderator for last Thursday's vice-presidential debate between Joe Biden and Sarah Palin is an NPR correspondent who has written a book praising Obama, scheduled for release on inauguration day. Clearly, she hopes Obama is the man taking the oath of office. And she was the moderator?

Then there is the video of adorable children singing a song literally in praise of Obama as the man who is going to change the world. Change the world? I thought the current election was only for president of the United States.

Obama has shown no sign of disavowing this cult of personality, which reminds us all of North Korea. Should we start calling Obama "the dear leader"?