Archive for March 23rd, 2009

Hardline Saudi Clerics Urge TV Ban on Women, Music

Monday, March 23rd, 2009

More violations of Female human rights in Saudi Arabia, where woman, according to the Koran, are no more than property, to be used for the pleasure of their husband/masters.

A group of Saudi clerics urged the kingdom’s new information minister on Sunday to ban women from appearing on TV or in newspapers and magazines, making clear that the country’s hardline religious establishment is skeptical of a new push toward moderation.

In a statement, the 35 hardline clergymen also called on Abdel Aziz Khoja, who was appointed by King Abdullah on Feb. 14, to prohibit the playing of music and music shows on television.

“We have great hope that this media reform will be accomplished by you,” said the statement. “We have noticed how well-rooted perversity is in the Ministry of Information and Culture, in television, radio, press, culture clubs and the book fair.”

Although it raises the pressure on the new minister, the recommendation is likely to have little effect. Khoja’s appointment was part of a government shake-up by Abdullah that removed a number of hardline figures and is believed to be part of an effort to weaken the influence of conservatives in this devout desert kingdom.

“No Saudi women should appear on TV, no matter what the reason,” the statement said. “No images of women should appear in Saudi newspapers and magazines.”

Saudi Arabia was founded on an alliance with the conservative Wahhabi strain of Islam that sees the mixing of sexes as anathema and believes the playing of music violates religious values.

The former information minister, Iyad Madani, earned the ire of hardliners several years ago by allowing music in government-run TV and female journalists to interview men, despite the country’s strict gender-segregation rules.

Women also appear on Saudi television with their faces showing, though most in public totally cover themselves.

Newspapers publish pictures of Saudi women, but almost always with their heads covered, while pictures of Western entertainers are shown but bare arms and cleavage are painted over.

The clerics include several professors from the ultra-conservative Imam University, Islamic research scholars, a judge in a court in the resort of Taif and some government employees.

French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner, in town for meetings with Saudi officials, told a news conference that during lunch he sat between a female Saudi surgeon and a female journalist. He said while one woman is allowed to perform surgery and another is allowed to teach, neither is permitted to drive.

“I find that bizarre,” he said.

Original Link.

Prominent Rabbi Ascends Temple Mount, Opposes Ban on Visits to Area

Monday, March 23rd, 2009

JERUSALEM – A prominent U.S. rabbi recently ascended the Temple Mount – Judaism’s most revered site – stirring a quiet debate among some within the Jewish religious community about whether Jews should be permitted to enter the mount.

Some rabbis forbid Jewish entry, while others permit it. Those who oppose ascending the mount may indirectly contribute to the current Islamic consolidation of the site, argued Rabbi Moshe Dovid Tendler, a Jewish law and ethics professor and top rabbinic scholar.

“The reality is that slowly the area has become without Jews,” Tendler told WND. “The claim of the Arabs that it belongs to them is being affirmed by our (Jewish) absence.”

The video sparked controversy within the ultra-Orthodox Jewish community, where some rabbis forbid Jews to go up to the mount until the Third Temple is built, even though there are records of Jews, including some of the most prominent Jewish law scholars, visiting the Temple ruins from the Byzentine period until recently.

On Vosizneias, a popular ultra-Orthodox blog, user opinions regarding Tendler’s visit ran the gamut from praise for the rabbi to calling for him to be excommunicated.

“Way to go Rabbi Tendler,” wrote one reader. “Continue to show the world that you are not religious.”

Another commented, “(More power to you). About time someone has the guts to stand up for the real (Jewish law).”

Many contemporary rabbinic authorities permit entry to the outer areas of the Mount, which can be measured by a change in the kind of foundation stone. According to Jewish law, the sanctity of the Temple Mount is structured in concentric circles. In the innermost circles, where the Holy of Holies was said to be located, the restrictions of access are the greatest.

During Temple times, only the Kohen Hagadol, or High Priest, could enter the most restricted area, and this only once a year, on the fast day of Yom Kippur. The outer circles are less restricted.

Tendler, who is a professor and rabbi at Yeshiva University
in New York, told WND the exact locations of the restricted areas are well-known. He asserted establishing proper Orthodox Jewish tours of the Temple Mount would help those who currently ascend the Mount from violating Jewish law.

“The rabbinic ban has not been working. We know how to visit the (mount) properly. As of now, secular tour guides take people where they should not to go; they have become a negative force. We need to correct this.”

Most rabbis who ban Jewish visits justify their decrees by claiming Jewish ascent may violate the sanctity of the mount.

Tendler countered: “[Holiness] is not emphasized by not going into a place of [holiness], but by going into a place of [holiness] properly prepared.

“The idea of forbidding this area because it’s an area of [holiness] is counter to what we know about man’s relationship with [holiness]. … Holiness comes from man’s behavior. The holiness of [the Temple Mount] comes from all the [holiness] of the [Jewish nation].” Tendler added, “If we come and pray here, we make the place holy.”

In the 1970’s, Israel’s Chief Rabbinate ruled it was forbidden to enter any part of the mount. Followers of Rabbi Avraham Yitzhak Kook, one of the leaders of the religious Zionist movement, opposed the ban. The past few years, more and more rabbis have ruled visits to the mount are permitted.

Some have argued the rabbis who forbid Jewish entry to the Temple Mount may indirectly contribute to the current Islamic consolidation of the site. The lack of a large number of Jewish visitors is likely a major factor in Israeli government’s restriction of Jewish ascent to the Mount.

Temple Mount: No pray zone

Israel recaptured the Temple Mount during the 1967 Six Day War. Currently under Israeli control, Jews and Christians are barred from praying on the Mount.

The Temple Mount was opened to the general public until September 2000, when the Palestinians started their intifada by throwing stones at Jewish worshippers after then-candidate for prime minister Ariel Sharon visited the area.

Following the onset of violence, the new Sharon government closed the Mount to non-Muslims, using checkpoints to control all pedestrian traffic for fear of further clashes with the Palestinians.

The Temple Mount was reopened to non-Muslims in August 2003. It remains open, but only Sundays through Thursdays, 7:30 a.m. to 10 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m., and not on any Christian, Jewish or Muslim holidays or other days considered “sensitive” by the Waqf.

During “open” days, Jews and Christian are allowed to ascend the Mount, usually through organized tours and only if they conform first to a strict set of guidelines, which includes demands that they not pray or bring any “holy objects” to the site. Visitors are banned from entering any of the mosques without direct Waqf permission. Rules are enforced by Waqf agents, who watch tours closely and alert nearby Israeli police to any breaking of their guidelines.

During Tendler’s visit to the mount, he can be heard in the video complaining about the Israeli rules.

“I’m little bit annoyed at the instructions that we get,” he quipped, “as if we were aliens and have to be told how to behave on [the Temple Mount].”

Muslim holy site?

King Solomon built the First Temple in the tenth century B.C. The Babylonians destroyed it in 586 B.C. The Jews built the Second Temple in 515 B.C. after Jerusalem was freed from Babylonian captivity. The Romans destroyed the Second Temple in A.D. 70.

The First Temple stood for about 400 years, the second for almost 600. Both Temples served as the center of religious worship for the whole Jewish nation. All Jewish holidays centered on worship at the Temple – the central location for the offering of sacrifices and the main gathering place for the Jewish people.

According to the Talmud, God created the world from the foundation stone of the Temple Mount.

The site is believed to be the biblical Mount Moriah, where Abraham fulfilled God’s test of faith by demonstrating his willingness to sacrifice his son Isaac.

Jewish tradition also holds that Mashiach – literally “the anointed one,” the Jewish Messiah – will come and rebuild the third and final temple on the Mount in Jerusalem and bring redemption to the entire world.

The Western Wall, called the Kotel in Hebrew, is the one part of the Temple Mount that survived the Roman destruction of the Second Temple and stands to this day in Jerusalem.

The Temple Mount has remained a focal point for Jewish services for thousands of years. Prayers for a return to Jerusalem and the rebuilding of the Jewish Temple have been uttered three times daily by religious Jews since the destruction of the Second Temple. Throughout all the centuries of Jewish exile from their land, thorough documentation shows the Jews never gave up their hope of returning to Jerusalem and reestablishing their Temple. To this day Jews worldwide pray facing the Western Wall, while Muslims turn their backs away from the Temple Mount and pray toward Mecca.

Muslims constructed the al‐Aqsa Mosque around A.D. 709 to serve as a place of worship near a famous shrine, the gleaming Dome of the Rock, built by an Islamic caliph, or supreme ruler.

About 100 years ago, Muslims began to associate al‐Aqsa in Jerusalem with the place Muhammad ascended to heaven. Islamic tradition states Muhammad took a journey in a single night from “a sacred mosque” – believed to be in Mecca in southern Saudi Arabia – to “the farthest mosque,” and from a rock there ascended to heaven to receive revelations from Allah that became part of the Koran.

While Palestinians and many Muslim countries claim exclusivity over the Mount, and while their leaders strenuously deny the Jewish historic connection to the site, things weren’t always this way. In fact, historically, Muslims never claimed the al‐Aqsa Mosque as their “third holiest site” and always recognized the existence of the Jewish Temples.

According to an Israeli attorney, Dr. Shmuel Berkovits, Islamic tradition mostly disregarded Jerusalem. He points out in his book “How Dreadful is this Place!” that Muhammad was said to loathe Jerusalem and what it stood for to the other monotheistic faiths.

Muhammad also made a point of eliminating pagan sites of worship and sanctifying only one place – the Kaaba in Mecca – to signify the unity of Allah. As late as the fourteenth century, Islamic scholar Taqi al‐Din Ibn Taymiyya, whose writings later influenced the ultraconservative Wahhabi movement in Arabia, ruled that sacred Islamic sites exist only on the Arabian Peninsula, and that “in Jerusalem, there is not a place one calls sacred, and the same holds true for the tombs of Hebron.”

Not until the late nineteenth century – when Jews started immigrating to Palestine – did Muslim scholars claim that Muhammad tied his horse to the Western Wall and associate Muhammad’s purported night journey with the Temple Mount.

Original Link.

Obama Budget Dooms Next Generation

Monday, March 23rd, 2009

That’s what we’ve been saying here for quite some time now. It’s just plain selfish and self-centered for parents to do this to your children. Why are you not protesting this?? The outcry should be overwhelming.

Barack Obama says his $3.6 trillion budget will “lay a foundation for lasting growth and prosperity” by investing in healthcare, education, and green energy. His former campaign manager, David Plouffe, is urging millions of Obama supporters to join a neighborhood canvass promoting the budget.

Senator Grassley (R-Iowa), the ranking Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, says it is the responsibility of free-market conservatives to “wake Americans up to the devastation” the budget will bring to the next generation.

The senator contends that people need to be disabused of the notion that raising taxes increases revenue to the federal government, and that lowering taxes decreases money coming into the federal Treasury.

Original Link.

‘Global Warming’ Simply No Longer Happening

Monday, March 23rd, 2009

Don’t expect this information to hit the mainstream media.

WASHINGTON – This may come as bad news for Al Gore.

The modest global warming trend has stopped – maybe even reversed itself.

And it’s not just the record low temperatures experienced in much of the world this winter.

For at least the last five years, global temperatures have been falling, according to tracking performed by Roy Spencer, the climatologist formerly of NASA.

“Global warming” was going to bring more and more horrific hurricanes, climate change scientists and the politicians who subscribed to their theories said. But since 2005, only one major hurricane has struck North America.

A new study by Florida State University researcher Ryan Maue shows worldwide cyclone activity – typhoons, as well as hurricanes – has reached at least a 30-year low.

Two more studies – one by the Leibniz Institute of Marine Science and the Max Planck Institute of Meteorology in Germany and another by the University of Wisconsin – predict a slowing, or even a reversal of warming, for at least the next 10 to 20 years.

The Arctic sea ice has grown more on a percentage basis this winter than it has since 1979.

The number of polar bears has risen 25 percent in the past decade. There are 15,000 of them in the Arctic now, where 10 years ago there were 12,000.

“The most recent global warming that began in 1977 is over, and the Earth has entered a new phase of global cooling,” says Don Easterbrook, professor of geology at Western Washington University in Bellingham, confidently. He maintains a switch in Pacific Ocean currents “assures about three decades of global cooling. New solar data showing unusual absence of sun spots and changes in the sun’s magnetic field suggest … the present episode of global cooling may be more severe than the cooling of 1945 to 1977.”

Climatologist Joe D’Aleo of the International Climate and Environmental Change Assessment Project, says new data “show that in five of the last seven decades since World War II, including this one, global temperatures have cooled while carbon dioxide has continued to rise.”

“The data suggest cooling not warming in Earth’s future,” he says.

Original Link.

Special Bonus Tax Bill Labeled ‘Unconstitutional’

Monday, March 23rd, 2009

Even though I hate the fact that inept corporate executives got bonuses from bailout money given to AIG, I have to agree that levying special taxes against them is unconstitutional. It would have been better to prevent the bonuses before passing the legislation (talking to you, Senator Dodd).

Last week the House voted to slap a 90 percent tax on executive bonuses at bailed out financial firms like AIG. The tax would apply to employees whose total annual pay exceeded $250,000 at firms which received more than $5 billion in government bailout funds.

John Berlau is director of the Center for Investors and Entrepreneurs at the Competitive Enterprise Institute. He says the bonus tax is unconstitutional.

“The Constitution clearly prohibits what are called ‘bills of attainder’ — bills that seek to punish certain individuals and not others for crimes and misdeeds,” he explains. “The Constitution clearly reserves that for the courts.”

Read the rest of the article here.

“America The Godless” by Michael G. Mickey

Monday, March 23rd, 2009

Godless. Of all the descriptors I would’ve envisioned in my youth to be symbolic of the United States of America in my future life, that’s one I never would’ve given a thought to. America turning its back on the Lord? Unthinkable and yet here we are.

The Guardian’s Michelle Goldberg wrote the following recently, in part:

In recent years, non-religious Americans have won a modicum of public acknowledgment. Not long ago, politicians insulted them with impunity or at best simply overlooked them. But the heightened public religious fervour of the Bush years led the country’s infidels to organise as never before, turning atheist authors like Sam Harris into celebrities and opening lobbying offices in Washington, DC, just like religious interest groups do.

Politicians have responded. In his inaugural address, Barack Obama – doubtlessly realising that secularists constitute a big part of his base – described America as a “nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus … and non-believers.” Even Mitt Romney came to express second thoughts about leaving atheists and agnostics out of his high-profile campaign speech on faith. The United States is not Europe – it will likely be a long time before we have a publicly agnostic president – but it is becoming more tolerant of the godless.

It has to be: no religious group in the United States is growing as fast as those who profess no religion at all. The latest American Religious Identification Survey, which Trinity College published last week, shows that the number of non-religious Americans has nearly doubled since 1990, while the number of people who specifically self-identity as atheists or agnostics has more than tripled.
[More… ]

Christians, wrap your minds around this sentence from the above for a few minutes if you wonder why our economy is in the tank, our morality is in the gutter and we think electing an ultraliberal like Barack Obama is the answer to our nation’s woes: No religious group in the United States is growing as fast as those who profess no religion at all.

The pundits in Washington are cooking up stimulus packages right and left to try and turn things around for us when the true stimulus that’s needed here in the U.S.A. is the kind of spirit that existed here not so long ago – one that had, at its core, a biblical worldview.

Through the years I’ve harped on the fact that Satan is polluting our national morality through the use of several weapons of his design that are effectively bringing this about. They are: political correctness, moral relativism, tolerance and, for the purpose of this commentary alone, the forced teaching of evolution to our children. (I say “for this commentary alone” because I typically only rail on the first three, throwing in the occasional reference to liberalism.)

What we’re seeing occur here is what happens when a generation rises up that has been fed that they’re nothing but animals/evolved cellular goo!

This is what happens when every word one speaks has to be measured carefully to ensure no one – and I mean no one – is offended, unless you’re the president of the United States sitting in Burbank with Jay Leno taking a swipe at children with special needs who participate in the Special Olympics but I digress.

This is what happens to a nation when men say of conduct conflictive of the Word of God, “Well, I wouldn’t do that, but it works for them.” What we should have been saying long ago which may have prevented the moral decay running rampant in this nation is what men didn’t hesitate to say in the days of my youth, at least where I was raised: “Do you know that God is going to hold you accountable for that someday? Let me show you what it says here in the Bible.” I know! I know! Say something like that in a public setting these days and you’ll be unemployed, in a fist fight, cursed at, etc., but we still need to resist this to whatever extent we can, even if we have to pick our battles and battlefield locations more cautiously than ever before.

This is what happens when we buy into that notion that we should tolerate everything that’s shoved in front of us as though it’s perfectly acceptable, to the point we pretend to think it’s just divine! There are plenty of things we 100% should not tolerate that are gaining more and more acceptance in our society. Looking the other way has brought us to this dark place, but we can still have a voice for the Lord – and we need to. We absolutely must to the extent we can this side of the Rapture of the Church!

Bottom line? All the stimulus packages in the world aren’t going to save the United States of America if it continues down the path it’s presently on.

Ronald Reagan once said, “If we ever forget we’re one nation under God, then we will be a nation gone under.”

Psalm 9:17: The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God.

All means ALL, America the Godless included.

Original Link.

“Calls For A Global Currency” by Todd Strandberg

Monday, March 23rd, 2009

A few months ago, I stated that “economic hardship is the mother’s milk of prophetic progression.” This phase is not something I coined for this current global economic crisis. I made that observation during the boom years of the last decade. I noticed that prophecy always evolves faster during times of economic trouble. I thought if a financial downturn would come our way, the wheels of progress would start spinning faster.

For the past several months, we have been blessed with record levels of economic hardship and the wheels of prophetic progression have been spinning like crazy. This past week, there has been a chorus of calls for the creation of a new global currency.

Russia started the ball rolling by proposing the possibility of creating a new world reserve currency be initiated at the April 2 G20 summit in London. The Russian proposal reads, “We believe it is necessary to consider the IMF’s role in this process and also define the possibility and the need to adopt measures allowing for Special Drawing Rights (SDRs) to become an internationally recognized super-reserve currency.”

Two days later, Reuters news service reported, “A U.N. panel will recommend that the world ditch the dollar as its reserve currency in favor of a shared basket of currencies.” One of the key reasons cited by the panel for making the change is the general unhappiness with the downward decline in the dollar.

The Chinese government has been very vocal in expressing its desire to move away from the dollar as a reserve currency. It holds roughly $1 trillion of U.S. Treasury and other government-backed bonds.

The world has good reason to question the long-term value of the dollar. The American government is running up huge deficits in its effort to stabilize the economy. In just the past six months, Washington has pledged $10 trillion, and in the next decade, we could see shortfalls of another $10 trillion.

The US Federal Reserve raised its eyebrows when it said it would buy almost $1.2 trillion worth of debt to help boost lending and promote economic recovery. The Fed will start buying long-term government debt and expand purchases of mortgage-related debt. The Federal Reserve is not Uncle Sam’s rich brother. Since the two are one and the same, this step seems like a rather shady deal.

The Bank for International Settlements is an international organization of central banks. It issued a report last year that stated, “Foreign investors in U.S. dollar assets have seen big losses measured in dollars, and still bigger ones measured in their own currency. While unlikely, a sudden rush for the exits cannot be ruled out completely.”

There may not be a stampede right now, but there is a steady migration away from the dollar. Just this past week, the greenback suffered its worse decline in 24 years. “What it introduces is the problem of the currency to the extent that the Fed is buying what isn’t desired by foreign holders,” said Bill Gross of Pacific Investment Management Co.

I don’t think all these central banks that hold U.S. debt have much of an option. If they all decide to move their holdings at the same time, the dollar will collapse and their reserve assets will be wiped out.

Unless the U.S. economy turns around very quickly, I find it hard not to see a dollar collapse. With the nation’s debt at historic levels, the Federal Reserve and Treasury are out of bullets, and their next option is to start printing money to cover the nation’s obligations.

I don’t expect any major developments out of next week’s G20 meeting. I think the stage has already been set for the introduction of the global financial system that will lead to the mark of the beast.

Like all major changes, the final push will likely be triggered by a new economic crisis. In my view, the fallout from the rapture is a prime candidate. When Jesus removes the Church from this world, America will instantly implode, leaving the rest of the globe in a severely shaken state.

The Bible does not directly say the Antichrist will be a financial savior, but since the Bible predicts he will largely use peaceful means to become a world dictator, money is the most logical vehicle for consolidating power. The guy who comes along with the most helpful financial ideas might be the one to watch.

“Through cunning he shall cause deceit to prosper under his rule; and he shall exalt himself in his heart, and by peace he shall destroy many. He shall even rise against the Prince of Princes; but he shall be broken without human means” (Daniel 8:23-25).

“And he causes all, the small and the great, and the rich and the poor, and the free men and slaves, to be given a mark on their right hand or on their forehead, and he provides that no one can buy or to sell, except the one who has the mark, either the name of the beast or the number of his name” (Revelation 13:16-17).

— Todd

Original Link.

“Entitlement” by Beth at Waiting For The Shout

Monday, March 23rd, 2009

I wanted to share something that I have been thinking alot about lately: Entitlement.

Why entitlement? Well, in the past couple of weeks, I have heard more than a couple of people say that they “deserve” this or “deserve” that. I actually heard one friend say, “I deserve to be happy”. Well, the truth is that we all deserve one thing : hell. None of us deserves to be happy. We don’t deserve ANYTHING, but God chooses to bless us with things like happiness, children, homes, etc. We have done NOTHING to deserve any of our blessings, yet if we are honest with ourselves, we all have a sense of entitlement when it comes to the things this world has to offer.

Truth be known, many people feel they deserve to go to heaven. Deserve to go to heaven? The Bible tells us that “it is by Grace we are saved, not by works lest any man should boast”….and we are great at boasting, aren’t we? Our society has made us into a bunch of ingrates. Think about it…..when someone doesn’t want to work, they are entitled to welfare. When a business is poorly managed and corrupt, our government races in to bail it out (regardless of the fact that CEO’s are making millions and millions of dollars). How about our kids? Most kids today are being raised to believe that everyone owes them something, that they are entitled to have whatever they want and that they deserve all the “stuff” that they get. Gratefulness is a foreign concept to most children nowadays…..and sadly, most adults.

Our society is so focused on what they think they “deserve” that there is no room for God in the picture. When everyone feels they are entitled to every little thing their heart desires, the Cross is minimized and Grace is pushed to the side. We are rarely thankful for the things we feel entitled to, which may be the reason even Christians take for granted what Jesus did on the Cross.

So many people (Christians included) spend their time asking “Why me?”, when the question is really “Why NOT me?”. There are people in other countries (some even in this one) that have so little they are thankful for any little thing they are given. Go on a mission trip to another country and thousands of people will accept the gift of salvation, but knock on a few American doors and you will find people so arrogant and self-sufficient that they don’t see a need for God (and they definitely don’t think they need the church).

I am as guilty as the next person when it comes to feeling that I deserve the blessings God has given me, but my prayer is that I will get out of the mindset of entitlement and become more thankful ….in every area of my life and for everything God has blessed me with.

Amen, Beth!!

Original Link.

“Look Beyond the Bogus Bonus Smokescreen” by Michelle Malkin

Monday, March 23rd, 2009

“We will hunt you down!” thundered Colorado Democratic Rep. Jared Polis during the AIG bonus demagogue-a-thon on the House floor Thursday. “If they’re not going to give [the bonuses] back, we’re going to take them back,” growled Alabama Democratic Rep. Artur Davis, who vowed to recover the taxpayers’ “ill-gotten gains” from rogue corporate executives. House Republicans pressed the Democrats on who knew what and when regarding the AIG bonus protections included in Connecticut Sen. Chris Dodd’s now infamous amendment to the stimulus bill. Rep. Barney Frank shrieked about the Bush administration’s culpability. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi smugly patted Democrats on the back for “protecting the national interest.”

I ask you now to turn away from the bogus bonus smokescreen over $165 million in taxpayer-backed compensation packages for AIG employees. It is a pittance compared to the gargantuan spending spree happening right under our noses. The AIG bonus price tag amounts to one tenth of 1 percent of the total AIG giveaway ($85 billion in September, $37.8 billion in October; $40 billion in November; $30 billion in early March), which took place with the assent of a Republican administration, a Democratic administration and the congressional leadership of both parties.

Taxpayers might be less skeptical of the born-again guardians of fiscal responsibility if these evangelists were actually practicing what they preached. While the Obama administration now issues impassioned calls to stop rewarding failure, they moved Thursday to dump another $5 billion into the failing auto industry. That’s on top of Thursday’s announcement by the Federal Reserve to print $1 trillion to buy Treasury bonds and mortgage securities sold by the government — which no one else wants to buy.

Financial blogger Barry Ritholtz tallied up $8.5 trillion in bailout costs by December 2008 between Federal Reserve, FDIC, Treasury and Federal Housing Administration rescues (not including the $5.2 trillion in Fannie and Freddie portfolios that the U.S. taxpayer is now explicitly responsible for). Then there’s the (at least) $50 billion proposed by Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner in February to bail out home owners and lenders who made bad home loan decisions, which would be just a small sliver of the $2.5 trillion he wants to spend on the next big banking bailout, which would draw on the second $350 billion of the TARP package over which an increasing number of Chicken Little lawmakers are having buyer’s remorse.

Phew. We’re not done yet: As AIG-bashing lawmakers inveighed against wasted taxpayer funds and lamented the lack of accountability and rush to judgment that led to passage of the porkulus bill that mysteriously protected the bonuses, the Senate quietly passed a $10 billion lands bill stuffed with earmarks and immunized from amendments. GOP Sen. Tom Coburn, fiscal conservative loner, pointed out that none of the provisions for special-interest pork projects — including $3.5 million in spending for a birthday bash celebrating the city of St. Augustine, Fla. — was subject to public hearings. That’s on top of the pork-stuffed $410 billion spending bill passed two weeks ago.

Oh, and did I mention that the House passed a $6 billion volunteerism bill (the “GIVE Act”) on Wednesday to provide yet another pipeline to left-wing advocacy groups under the guise of encouraging national service?

Also coming down the pike: the Obama administration’s “cap-and-trade” global warming plan, which Hill staffers learned this week could cost close to $2 trillion (nearly three times the White House’s initial estimate) and the administration’s universal health care scheme, which health policy experts reported this week could cost about $1.5 trillion over the next decade.

It is no wonder that when earlier this week Vice President Joe Biden told local officials in Washington that he was “serious, absolutely serious” about policing wasteful spending in Washington, he was met with the only rational response his audience could muster: laughter.

Original Link.

How Hamas Became ‘Kosher’

Monday, March 23rd, 2009

Today Hamas stands on the cusp of international acceptance. It may take a week or a month or a year, but today Hamas stands where Fatah and the PLO stood in the late 1980s. The genocidal jihadist terror group is but a step away from an invitation to the Oval Office. Two events in the past week show this to be the case.

First, last Saturday, the Boston Globe reported that Paul Volker, who serves as US President Barack Obama’s economic recovery advisor and several former senior US officials have written a letter to Obama calling for the US to recognize Hamas. As one of the signatories, Brent Scowcroft, former national security advisor under president George H.W. Bush explained, “I see no reason not to talk to Hamas.”

Scowcroft further argued, “The main gist is that you need to push hard on the Palestinian peace process. Don’t move it to end of your agenda and say you have too much to do. And the US needs to have a position, not just hold their coats while they sit down.”

Congressional sources claim that Obama has selected Scowcroft to replace Chas Freeman as Chairman of the National Intelligence Council.

The second reason that it is becoming apparent that the Obama administration is poised to recognize Hamas is because on Thursday Egyptian intelligence chief Omar Suleiman held talks at the State Department with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton enjoining the administration to support the reestablishment of a Hamas-Fatah unity government to control and reunify the Palestinian Authority in Gaza and Judea and Samaria.

This is significant because it is becoming apparent that top administration officials only meet with people who tell them what they want to hear. Case in point is IDF Chief of General Staff Lt. Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi’s trip this week to Washington. Ashkenazi went to the US to brief top administration officials on Iran’s progress towards a nuclear bomb. Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Ashkenazi’s counterpart Admiral Michael Mullen both managed to be out of town. Defense Ministry sources say that Ashkenazi only met with National Security Advisor James Jones, who reportedly wished to speak exclusively about the Palestinians, and with Clinton’s Iran advisor Dennis Ross, whose role in shaping US policy towards Iran remains unclear.

Hamas for its part prefers the unconditional recognition recommended by Scowcroft and Volker and their colleagues (who include unofficial Obama advisors Zbigniew Brzezinski and Lee Hamilton), over the option of forming a government with Fatah. After all, why should Hamas agree to share power with Fatah to gain international acceptance if Washington power brokers close to the administration endorse unconditional recognition of the terror group?

Scowcroft’s statement that recognition of Hamas is necessary because “you need to push hard on the Palestinian peace process,” is indicative of how Obama’s milieu views the peace process. For them, pushing hard on the peace process is more important than ensuring or even caring if the Palestinians involved in the said process are genocidal terror groups or not, or ensuring or even caring whether the said peace process has any chance whatsoever of leading to peace.

And the Obama view is not particularly new. After Hamas won the 2006 Palestinian elections, in the interest of the peace process, the US and the EU placed certain conditions on Hamas which they claimed it would have to meet before the West would recognize it.

The US and Europe said they would recognize Hamas if it announced that it foreswore terror, accepted Israel’s right to exist, and committed itself to carrying out previous agreements signed between the PLO and Israel. The Americans and the Europeans undoubtedly viewed these conditions as a low bar to cross. After all, the PLO crossed it.

The West’s conditions were given with a wink and a nod. Everyone understood that the only thing it wanted was for Hamas to say the magic words. They didn’t have to be true. If Khaled Mashaal and Ismail Haniyeh would just tell the US and Europe what they wanted to hear, all would be forgiven. Hamas — like the PLO before it — would be removed from the US and European terror lists. Billions would pour into the bank accounts of Hamas leaders in Gaza and Damascus. The CIA might even agree to train its terror forces.

It is obvious that all that the West wanted was for Hamas to lie to it, because that is all it ever required from the PLO. After Arafat said the magic words, the Americans and the Europeans were only too happy to ignore the fact that he was lying.

When immediately after signing the initial peace accord with Israel on the White House lawn on Sept. 13, 1993 Arafat flew to South Africa and gave a speech calling for jihad against Israel, no one cared.

When Arafat destroyed the free press in Judea, Samaria and Gaza and transformed the Palestinian media into propaganda organs calling for the eradication of Israel and the Jewish people, the world yawned.

When he launched his terror war against Israel and his US-trained forces began plotting and carrying out bombings of Israeli civilians, the US announced its chief goal in the Middle East was to establish a Palestinian state.

And when Arafat’s successor Mahmoud Abbas announced that Fatah didn’t accept Israel’s right to exist and considered terrorism against Israel legitimate, he was declared the indispensable and sole legitimate Palestinian leader. Indeed, when his US-trained forces surrendered to Hamas in Gaza without a fight, the US showered an additional $80 million on Fatah forces.

Read the rest of the article here.

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Christian Gifts from Israel – The Jerusalem Gift Shop

Obama’s DVD Movie Gift to British PM – The Gift that Keeps Giving, Or Not Giving as the Case May Be

Monday, March 23rd, 2009

For those of you who might not have caught this, when Emperor Obama meet British Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, for the first time, earlier this month, they exchanged gifts.
The Prime Minister gave Obama a very classy gift; a pen holder fashioned from timber from the HMS Gannet, sister ship of the HMS Resolute, which supplied the wood for the presidential desk back in 1880.
Obama, on the other hand, thought the definition of a classy gift was a set of DVD’s. So we can write this off as the tacky gift it was and move on, right?
Wrong.
Not only did Obama give the Prime Minister a tacky gift, he (and his staff) apparently are clueless about “DVD region codes“.
Region codes are DVD publisher’s attempt to combat video piracy, by making DVD’s that will only play in certain places in the world. In other words, DVD’s manufactured to play in the United States, won’t typically play in DVD players in Europe. Are you getting a ideal of where I’m headed with this?
In case you haven’t guessed it by now, yes, Obama gave Mr. Brown a set of DVD’s that he can’t play.
Way to go, Oboe.

Alas, when the PM settled down to begin watching them the other night, he found there was a problem.

The films only worked in DVD players made in North America and the words “wrong region” came up on his screen. Although he mournfully had to put the popcorn away, he is unlikely to jeopardise the special relationship – or “special partnership”, as we are now supposed to call it – by registering a complaint.

A Downing Street spokesman said he was “confident” that any gift Obama gave Brown would have been “well thought through,” but referred me to the White House for assistance on the “technical aspects”.

A White House spokesman sniggered when I put the story to him and he was still looking into the matter when my deadline came last night.

By the way, when Obama’s unlikely gift was disclosed, a reader emailed me to ask if Clueless was among the films. Funnily enough, it was not.

Brown, on the other hand, presented a rather more thoughtful gift to the American President in the form of a penholder carved from the timbers of an anti-slavery ship. The sister ship, in fact, of the one that was broken up and turned into the desk in the Oval Office.

Original Link.

“Obama’s Doo-Doo Economics” By Rick Saunders

Monday, March 23rd, 2009

The time has come to tell it like it is.

That which the Axis Powers in World War II, the Soviet Union in the Cold War, Islamist jihadists since the 1983 bombing of the Marine barracks in Beirut and al-Qaeda terrorists since September 11, 2001 have been so far unable to accomplish–the destruction of the United States of America–is now well under way in the fewer than 100 days that have passed since January 20, 2009.

On that day, with the inauguration of President Barack Obama to the highest office in the land, 69,456,897 Americans who voted to install this specimen became accessories to the triggering of events that have now led to the real potential for the outright bankruptcy and failure of the nation as we have known it, ushering in a country which will be unrecognizable as the United States of America. In its place, the Balkanized Tribes of Obamaland will emerge under a regime with characteristics that would do Mao Zedong and Joseph Stalin proud.

Harsh words? Read on.

Make no mistake — the economic policies and radical, collectivist agendas being rammed down America’s throat by Obama and his cadre of apparatchiks–all dedicated to the destruction of capitalism here as well as where it still survives worldwide–are taking a horrific toll upon all within the expanding fireball. Even others are beginning to take note.

Forget, for the moment, the stunning incompetence of his appointees, his embarrassing personal gaffes and serial social faux pas tendencies, his narcissistic/messianic complex and the hilarious fact that “TOTUS,” his beloved teleprompter, doesn’t get better billing and credit despite upstaging him. Focus instead on what the Congressional Budget Office–the agency charged with providing to Congress objective, nonpartisan, and timely analysis to aid in economic and budgetary decisions on the wide array of programs covered by the federal budget–now predicts will happen if his budget proposals are adopted.

Under President Obama’s recipe for disaster (concocted presumably with the assistance of Secretary of the Treasury Timothy “Turbo Tax” Geithner), deficits will rise over the next ten years to a truly cosmic 9.3 trillion dollars. That’s $9,300,000,000,000.00, or approximately $4.9 trillion more than the projected deficits if there were no changes in current laws and policies, that which the CBO refers to as its “baseline assumption.” That’s a “missed it by that much” of over 50 percent. And all of this doesn’t even touch on that other bogeyman no one yet dares to discuss — inflation, which is the deficit’s kissing cousin living just down the road.

Obama’s budget director, Peter Orszag, conceded in a news briefing last Friday that annual deficits of 4 to 5 percent of gross domestic product (GDP), as estimated in the CBO report, are “ultimately not sustainable.” The phrase “ultimately not sustainable,” apart from being woefully understated, is administration Orwellian doublespeak for “we will all be in deep doo-doo if we adopt this approach.” But adopt it they seem intent upon doing.

George H.W. Bush derided Ronald Reagan’s budgetary policies as “voodoo economics,” yet the country prospered. On the other hand, Obama’s Doo-Doo Economics will ensure that the country will not only fail to prosper, it will eventually morph into a Western Hemisphere Zimbabwe where, last month, you could pick up a pair of men’s slacks for a mere 2,765,000,000.00 Zim dollars . . . and the price is higher today. Now THAT, Virginia, is inflation.

Under the Obama/Geithner cyanide capsule, were it to be enacted into law, the CBO report estimates that the annual deficit for 2009 would run at 13 percent of GDP; for 2010 it would drop to “only” 10 percent of GDP; and for 2011 through 2019–assuming that nothing more “bad” happens to us and that all the capitalists and their capital stay put (wink, wink) in the worker’s paradise germinating on Obama’s drawing board–the annual deficits would level off at between four and six percent of GDP.

Between four and six percent of GDP . . . eventually leveling off? That’s the very same percentage billed as “not sustainable” by Messiah Central’s budget emissary, St. Peter of Orszag. Look for an administration Orwellian Memory Hole intervention in the near future. Like Jim Cramer, Orszag apparently did not get The Memo.

Typifying the feckless responses of the Obama administration to virtually every other problem that has cropped up since January 20, Orszag sought to find a pony in the pile, claiming that administration officials “remain confident” in what he called “the four key principles” of The Chosen One’s budget outline: health care reform, improvements in education, energy efficiency, and reducing the annual deficit in half by the end of the president’s first term. Right. In the middle of the worst recession the country has seen since 1929, let’s make matters exponentially worse by trying to borrow our way out of debt and by printing of a bunch of new Federal Reserve notes.

Long story short — no matter how you look at it or try to put a favorable spin on it, the CBO report confirms that the Obama/Geithner kamikaze mission will ultimately not only destroy the nation’s economy–as has Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe succeeded in doing to the former Rhodesia–but it will do so without the promise of 72 virgins at the end of the attack.

So why, pray tell, are we continuing to listen to this gang of pied pipers and economic ingénues? If the Supreme Court won’t intervene here, then the only remaining check on this “exercise” of power–other, more earthy and graphic terms also come to mind–is a Congress that needs to open its collective eyes, on both sides of the aisle, and acknowledge that the time has indeed arrived to come to the aid of the country. Today, more than ever, we need far more statesmen, and far fewer politicians. And time is running out.

Original Link.