Yet again, President Obama has snubbed Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
According to the Jerusalem Post, “The White House has rejected a request by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to meet US President Barack Obama in the United States this month…” with the White House apparently saying that the meeting just won’t fit into Obama’s schedule.
This is about far more than protocol or wounded feelings.
The Middle East is (or at least seems to be) perilously close to violent chaos, with our enemies emboldened by Obama’s obvious dislike for Israel, sympathy for Palestinians and other Islamists, and general weakness.
His refusal to meet with Netanyahu speaks both to his disdain for Israel generally and Netanyahu specifically, but also to this president’s perverse priorities, which lead him to miss a majority of his national security briefings despite the world being an increasingly dangerous place.
Israel is not a ward of the US state, but they are our long-time very close ally and we have a real strategic interest in their survival and prosperity. Barack Obama either doesn’t understand or doesn’t care about any of that. And by his words and (in)actions, he raises the chances of death and destruction across the region.
It’s not just Jews who need to abandon Barack Obama en masse. It is any person who wants to avoid bloody, perhaps nuclear, war in the Middle East.
The morning of Tuesday, September 11, 2001 started off like any other work day for me…and more importantly for my New York-based business partners and employees. My office was in downtown Chicago, but our NYC office was at the northwest corner of Rector Street and Trinity Place, just across Trinity from the old Trinity Church cemetery.
As usual, I was watching CNBC, shortly after the market open, as I was a partner in an options market-making firm and in charge of our Chicago operations.
CNBC cut to news of an airplane crashing into one of the Twin Towers. I immediately picked up the phone and called my business partner, Steve, whose office windows faced in the direction of the World Trade Center.
Not surprisingly, Steve had no real information; nobody did. We didn’t know whether it was an accident or an attack, and it was still well before either tower collapsed.
But while I was on the phone with Steve, trying to keep him updated on anything I could gather from the news as he dealt with the increasing local chaos, he saw the second plane fly by and heard it crash into the South Tower.
Although it took nearly an hour for the South Tower to collapse (it fell before the North Tower), that time – which must have seemed like an eternity on that day – seems to me now like the blink of an eye, and I reall remember nothing of it except that Steve said some of our employees were walking over to the towers to see what was going on. I remember hearing later that some of my employees witnessed the gruesomeness of people throwing themselves out of high windows to get away from the flames.
I hung up with Steve for a while, but called back shortly before the tower collapsed and (at least, this is how I remember it) was on the phone with him as he started describing to me how his building was shaking and a few windows were cracking. I heard Steve yell out into the office to tell all the employees to take cover as Steve himself got under a desk. Fortunately, the building’s structural integrity held as one tower, then the other, collapsed a short distance away.
As for this part, I don’t remember whether I was on the phone with Steve (which I doubt) or whether he told me afterwards – after all, phone service was soon lost and cell phone service was overwhelmed.
Power was lost and people who were managing the building told Steve that the NY Fire Department had told them to keep everybody in the building.
Thus, Steve and a couple dozen of our employees (we had more, but most of them were out of the building already) were stuck in the building for some hours. Eventually, FDNY personnel came to get them and led them out. They walked through dust and debris that came up to nearly knee-high, and Steve remains convinced to this day that he saw body parts.
The usual routes home were mostly unavailable. Steve and others got to the Staten Island Ferry, which was still running, and got off Manhattan. After many hours, Steve was eventually able to get home. He was understandably in shock the next time we spoke. I can’t imagine – and don’t want to imagine – going through what he went through. The area of our office was uninhabitable for weeks, but the stock market closed for just the rest of the week, opening on Monday. So our New York personnel moved to Philadelphia for a while, and the Philadelphia Stock Exchange created a place for American Stock Exchange traders to work. I managed the traders from Chicago in one of the most difficult work experiences of my life, but something that was a tiny inconvenience and effort compared to what our NY traders and employees were going through.
Time seems to have mostly healed the wounds of those terrible hours and days for my friends and former colleagues. But even for me – and I wasn’t even there – an indelible mark remains with the images of falling bodies, debris-filled streets, and people diving under desks as building windows cracked around them.
We were incredibly fortunate that none of our employees suffered serious injury or death that day, but no doubt a different sort of scar remains for many of them.
My thoughts are with everybody who lost a loved one on that terrible day, and with the heroic first responders who risked life and limb to do what could be done.
Barack Obama’s muddled thinking, so typical of a radical environmentalist’s hatred for oil and other things that improve human life, leaves him with an energy policy that only a Democrat (but not one from an energy-producing state) could find satisfactory.
This is not some sort of theoretical debate with unknown policy impacts. It is not a fundamentally trivial make-believe issue such as the “war on women.”
Instead, there are few policy issues as critical as this to all Americans, especially to those of modest or fixed incomes: high oil prices function as a massive tax increase, and a tremendously regressive one at that.
Low-income Americans spend about 11 percent of their income on energy while the top 20 percent (by income) of households spend less than seven percent. Again, this is only direct energy spending. When you include the cost of other things people must buy, particularly food, whose costs rise with higher energy prices, the regressive nature of rising fuel prices becomes all the more dramatic.
Particularly in the northeast, oil prices directly correlate to the cost of heating one’s home in winter. (That part of the country tends to use more heating oil where other areas use more natural gas, propane, or electric heat.)
For 25 years now, analysts have noted the devastation that high energy prices cause to our nation’s least well-off residents: “On some days, many of America’s poorest households must choose whether to heat or to eat. This kind of choice is beyond the comprehension of most middle-class Americans.… But for the poor… it remains a daily part of their lives.”
Please read the rest of my article for the American Spectator here:
Barack Obama and his supporters at the Democratic National Convention will mostly avoid the topic of unemployment, as unfavorable a subject as that is for Democrats’ reelection chances. Still, we will inevitably hear a mantra like “the trend is in the right direction even if slower than we’d like” as an argument to give Barack Obama another four years so he can “finish what he started.”
Beside the illogic of suggesting we give a failure four more years to fail further, one approach to unemployment data offers a very different lesson from the positive spin Democrats will give it.
In particular, the Obama team wants you to look at this chart, showing his entire term thus far, hoping that you focus on the modestly declining unemployment rate over the past 20 months.
Please read the rest of my article for the American Spectator here:
Matt Taibbi’s recent anti-Romney screed published by Rolling Stone magazine entitled “Greed and Debt: The True Story of Mitt Romney and Bain Capital” has been the talk of the left-wing media, from the DailyKos and Huffington Post websites to MSNBC. It has also caught the attention of Business Insider, which says that the article “has tongues wagging. And for good reason.”
Taibbi paints a picture of Romney and Bain Capital as ruthless mobsters, or (though he doesn’t use this metaphor himself) as vampires who swoop in on unsuspecting companies, bribe the management to destroy the lives of their employees, saddle the company with debt, and then fly away with incisors dripping and bank accounts brimming as the company’s life-blood drains away. It is an image that is far more surreal than real, but with just enough of a microscopic grain of truth to convince those with little understanding of finance and investing – and helped along by a pre-existing bias against people involved in that field – that Romney’s world, and thus Romney himself, is to be feared.
For those of us who have even a modicum of experience in the world of private equity investing, Taibbi’s article is a caricature that would be laughable if it weren’t so angry, vicious, misleading – and, unfortunately, accepted as at least plausible by many Americans whose personal experience doesn’t allow them to recognize it for what it is: ignorant twaddle little different from the mindset of the Cuban murderer Che Guevara who wrote that “In capitalist society individuals are controlled by a pitiless law usually beyond their comprehension.”
Normally I would rather have a root canal than read Taibbi’s radical ramblings – after all, I can hear the same siren song of ignorance and class warfare by watching Obama campaign videos –but his tirade demands a response because, paraphrasing Ronald Reagan, it includes much that so many liberals know but which isn’t so.
Please read the entirety of my (rather long) article for the American Spectator here:
After months of allowing the Obama campaign and their useful idiots in the media to define Mitt Romney (and more generally all venture capitalists) as heartless predators, Romney is finally fighting back.
During the last evening of the Republican National Convention, the campaign released a slew of pro-Bain videos, some of which you can watch below and all of which are available on Romney’s YouTube channel.
I found them effective antidotes to the Democrats’ Big Lie that Romney and Bain’s modus operandi was to raid corporations, saddle them with debt, close them down, and cause cancer in the employees’ spouses.
Romney’s job-creating career is truly remarkable. And his impact on the 2002 Olympics, as told by grateful Olympians on Thursday night, is inspiring and suggests precisely the kind of leader this nation needs, now more than ever.
But perhaps most impressive – from my perspective as someone who has had very modest success in “private equity” investing – was the degree to which Romney learned not only the details of the businesses he invested in but also learned and cared about those companies’ employees. And not just the CEOs but employees right down the line. If there were ever a venture capitalist who was not a heartless predator, it is Mitt Romney.
The Romney campaign has also launched – and I hope you’ll share the link widely – a new web page laying out Romney’s “Sterling Business Career” on which they discuss companies that Bain Capital helped begin, fixed, or rescued – one of which was Romney’s former employer, the consulting firm Bain & Co.
The tag line for the web page, which is also reachable at business.mittromney.com is “Governor Romney’s work at Bain Capital was about fixing companies that were broken and giving new companies a shot at success.“
As Congressman Paul Ryan (R-WI) closed out the second night of the 2012 Republican Convention in the biggest speech of his life, he at first seemed slightly (and understandably) nervous. That lasted about sixty seconds, as the vice-president-in-waiting delivered remarks that became steadily more forceful and confident and left my wife, a relatively new citizen of the United States, saying “this guy should be running for president.”
Ryan’s 35-minute remarks, which ended with Republicans rowdily cheering the party’s leading “rock star” (in a party demonstrably brimming with young talent), spoke of optimism for the future (calling on the memory of happy warrior Jack Kemp), of the damage to the economy and the fundamental nature of our republic caused by Barack Obama, of entitlement reform, of his family and upbringing, and (briefly) of faith and religion, all while conveying a combination of youth and earnestness that the Obama/Biden team cannot hope to match.
Please read the rest of my article for the American Spectator here:
When I learned that Joe Biden would be crashing the Republicans’ party at the now weather-shortened GOP convention in Tampa this week, my first reaction was “How typical for such a classless, in-the-gutter, desperate campaign." The fact that nature has thwarted the Democrats’ politically vulgar behavior, with Biden announcing on Sunday that he has canceled his trip into “the belly of the beast,” does not lessen their puerile intent.
The behavior of Obama’s henchmen, and even more so his henchwomen, is to politics what the nouveau riche are to high society: they have come into power without having any understanding of how to behave once they have it.
To be sure, politics ain’t beanbag. The Marquess of Queensberry never prescribed rules for campaigning. But even if he had, it’s unlikely that the Obama administration and Democrat leaders in Congress would heed them given their disdain for our prescribed rules for governing, also known as the Constitution.
Please read the rest of my article for the American Spectator at:
In a 2-1 ruling, a panel of the Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia has struck down the EPA’s “Transport Rule,” also known as the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule, based on the EPA’s exceeding the authority permitted it by statute. The two judges in the majority were appointed by George W. Bush; the dissenter by Bill Clinton.
For those interested in the specifics of the two areas in which the court found the EPA to have done so, here is the relevant text from the opinion:
Here, EPA’s Transport Rule exceeds the agency’s statutory authority in two independent respects. First, the statutory text grants EPA authority to require upwind States to reduce only their own significant contributions to a downwind State’s nonattainment. But under the Transport Rule, upwind States may be required to reduce emissions by more than their own significant contributions to a downwind State’s nonattainment. EPA has used the good neighbor provision to impose massive emissions reduction requirements on upwind States without regard to the limits imposed by the statutory text. Whatever its merits as a policy matter, EPA’s Transport Rule violates the statute. Second, the Clean Air Act affords States the initial opportunity to implement reductions required by EPA under the good neighbor provision. But here, when EPA quantified States’ good neighbor obligations, it did not allow the States the initial opportunity to implement the required reductions with respect to sources within their borders. Instead, EPA quantified States’ good neighbor obligations and simultaneously set forth EPA-designed Federal Implementation Plans, or FIPs, to implement those obligations at the State level. By doing so, EPA departed from its consistent prior approach to implementing the good neighbor provision and violated the Act.
The opinion went on the emphasize that the court is offering no opinion on the wisdom of any particular environmental policy, and – almost seeming to apologize for this ruling – named four cases in which “this Court has affirmed numerous EPA clean air decisions in recent years…”
The Transport Rule was a dagger aimed at the heart of the coal-powered electricity industry, the first step in President Obama’s stated goal of causing electricity prices to “necessarily skyrocket.”
Today’s ruling should scare the EPA and other radical environmentalists deeply, particularly as it offers precedent to every court in the nation other than the Supreme Court to consider whether federal regulations violate the authority delegated to the particular bureaucracy by Congress.
It may even, and I realize that this may strike some as little different from believing in unicorns, cause regulators to rethink the aggressiveness of proposed regulations. (OK, you can stop laughing now.)
No doubt some in Congress will use this ruling to argue for increasing that authority. They are unlikely to succeed even in a Democrat-controlled Senate because coal-state and rust-belt Democrats will not support rules designed to directly or indirectly bankrupt some of their largest voting blocs.
In a somewhat frightening dissent, Circuit Court Judge Judith Rogers leads off her disagreement with the panel’s majority opinion by giving multiple reasons that the court should not even have heard the case. I understand that the issue of standing is a serious one, but when a judge in the second-highest court in the nation must begin a dissent with that issue rather than the constitutional issues at hand, it becomes that much clearer how “progressivism” is a cancer that infects every branch of government, in particular by destroying whatever part of a person’s brain which holds any respect for principle. The majority responds to the dissent’s issues in detail, but I will leave that for interested readers to peruse for themselves.
Today was a victory in a small battle in our enormous war to curb our leviathan regulatory state. The dissenting opinion is just the latest reminder of the importance of the 2012 election for things outside of Congress, Welfare, and the P90X workout system.
Last week, Democratic Vice President Joe Biden uttered an idiotic, offensive, race-baiting statement, telling a mostly black audience that Mitt Romney wants to “put y’all back in chains.”
This week, Republican Congressman and candidate for US Senate Todd Akin uttered an idiotic, offensive, rape-baiting statement, making the insane suggestion that a woman’s body can naturally prevent pregnancy following a “legitimate rape.”
For your perusal, an example of the different reactions from members of each offender’s political party:
Democrats in respose to Biden:
- From Obama Deputy Campaign Manager Stephaine “Never Heard of Joe Soptic” Cutter, “The bottom line is that we have no problem with those comments.”
- From rap music mogul Russell Simmons: “Joe Biden’s truthful comment that Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan would put “y’all back in chains” sat fine with me.”
- From Al Sharpton: Republicans “don’t have the moral standing” to criticize Biden because they call Barack Obama “the food stamp president.”
- Georgetown University Professor Michael Eric Dyson, on the Ed Schultz radio show: Biden’s statements can’t be criticized by the GOP because we have “a Republican Party that has played dog whistle politics and whose expertise is in racial codes calling President Obama a monkey, an ape, an un-American, a Kenyon, somebody who was not born in America, a communist, and on and on and on.”
- And from President Obama himself: “His phrasing is a distraction from what is at stake….We don’t spend a lot of time worrying about the chatter and the noise and this and that… It doesn’t mean anything, just fills up a lot of airtime.”
Republicans in response to Akin:
- From presidential candidate Mitt Romney: “Congressman’s Akin comments on rape are insulting, inexcusable, and, frankly, wrong…What he said is entirely without merit and he should correct it.”
- From Senator John Cornyn (R-TX), head of the Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee, “Congressman Akin’s statements were wrong, offensive and indefensible. I recognize that this is a difficult time for him, but over the next twenty-four hours, Congressman Akin should carefully consider what is best for him, his family, the Republican Party…” (In other words, Cornyn is calling on Akin to drop out of the race.)
- From American Spectator columnist Quin Hillyer, “Todd Akin’s statement on rape, etcetera, are wrong on at least three fronts at once – and so wrong as to be politically disqualifying…Akin should step aside and let the Missouri Republican Party replace him on the ballot.”
- From the editors of National Review: “Step Aside, Todd Akin.” They note that Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill, perhaps the most vulnerable Democrat incumbent in the 2012 Senate elections, spent her own campaign funds to try to help Akin win the GOP primary because “she knew that she is the weakest Senate incumbent on the ballot this year…”
- Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) along with at least two other Republican senators, Ron Johnson (WI) and Scott Brown (MA), and Republican candidate for senate, Heather Wilson (NM), have called for Akin to get out of the race (though McConnell’s suggestion was slightly more gentle than the others.)
The difference between Democrats and Republicans in these two back-to-back examples of foot-in-mouth disease simply serves to highlight what readers of these pages already know: While Republicans sometimes deviate from their stated principles, at least they have some principles; and when they do deviate, they tend to be punished by their own as much as by the media, who offer no such scolding to Democrats in similar situations.
I am skeptical that Akin is smart or humble enough to drop out of the race, particularly in the next 24 hours which is what would be necessary (specifically by 5 PM Tuesday, local time) for the Missouri GOP to replace him on the ballot. As Quin Hillyer has suggested, I hope that every Republican “big gun” calls Rick Akin personally and urges him to drop out, including telling him that he will receive no support from the party, even if that means McCaskill getting re-elected. (Can you imagine any such pressure by Democrats on a Democrat?)