Tuesday, October 30, 2012

What the Election Won't Settle 

By: John Andrews  / Townhall Columnist

What the Election Won't Settle
I'm reminding all my friends here in Denver not to believe their vote is worthless. Our swing state’s nine electoral votes could hand the presidency to Romney or Obama -- and the Colorado outcome in 2012 could turn on a few hundred ballots, much like the Florida outcome in 2000.
 
Historians point out that within months of achieving statehood in 1876, Colorado with its measly three electoral tipped the presidential election for Rutherford B. Hayes. Yet the dominant issue of that era, equal rights for former black slaves, wasn’t settled by the election. It troubled the American conscience for almost another century.
 
So in battling over the high stakes to be decided between the candidates next week, we need to recognize how much this election will NOT settle. It’s folly to assume that the Nov. 6 verdict ties a ribbon around everything. “Keeping the republic,” our task as free citizens in Benjamin Franklin’s words, is a marathon not a sprint.
 
Whether your ticket wins or loses, we’ll all wake up in the same America as before. It’s an America where neither Republicans nor Democrats have yet shown the backbone to keep our deficits and debt from worsening to the level of Greece -- with broke California, no longer the Golden State, leading the way. Think that will suddenly change in 2013?
 
An AP profile on Xi Jingping, soon to be president of China, says he will assume power confident in “Beijing’s belief that its chief rival Washington is in decline.” Osama bin Laden’s taunt that America is a “weak horse” echoes from beyond the grave, emboldening al Qaeda in Libya, the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, the mullahs in Tehran.
 
Much as I favor the GOP, one party’s victory won’t instantly dispel those doubts. For they arise from what a smart investor or a winning coach calls the fundamentals. Those who are short-selling the USA take note of the actuarial tables for the rise and fall of great nations – which predict a lifespan of about 250 years – and the indicators of slackness in our national character.
 
They look at what has been called the Tytler cycle, whereby a people climbs up from bondage through faith and courage to liberty and abundance, but then slides down through complacency and apathy into dependency and finally into bondage again. Detractors see America in the late afternoon of our greatness, with darkness coming on. Can we prove them wrong? Absolutely, but it will take more than campaign slogans.
 
The worst deficit our country faces, looking beyond election 2012, isn’t in jobs, budgets, pensions, or infrastructure. It’s not in energy, health, education, or national security. It is the deficit of personal responsibility. In our enjoyment of liberty and abundance, we’re in danger of forgetting that the price of both is responsibility and self-discipline. Our experiment in freedom on the cheap is running out of time.
 
 A president who constantly ducks responsibility and blames others is but a symptom of this. We elected him with our eyes wide open. Voters took a chance – in hindsight, an irresponsible gamble – on the hip young community organizer over the crusty old war hero. The Obama phenomenon merely shows how far the celebrity culture has gone in swamping principled self-government.

Media elites didn’t care when Obama flew to Vegas for a fundraiser the day Ambassador Stevens was assassinated in an act of war. They shrugged when the former drug dealer Jay-Z threw a party for him. But few noticed either when Kid Rock, whose songs were too dirty for radio, opened for Romney in Denver the other day. Chill out, man.
 
I hope Mitt wins. He’ll do our country proud. But the rebirth of responsibility that America needs, if we’re to survive, isn’t up to him or any politician. It’s up to the person in the mirror: you and me.

Romney, Not Obama, Shows Concern For Nation's Poor 

By: Byron York  / Townhall Columnist


He's done it for a long time. Go back to Romney's March 30 speech in Appleton, Wis., in which he introduced the charge that President Obama is creating a "government-centered society." "Over 46 million Americans are now living in poverty, more than ever before in our nation's history," Romney said. "In households with single moms, over 39 percent are living in poverty."

In speech after speech since then, Romney has included the nation's poverty rate in his case against Obama.

"Today, more Americans wake up in poverty than ever before," he said in his address to the Republican convention in Tampa, Fla., on Aug. 30. "Look around you. These are not strangers. These are our brothers and sisters, our fellow Americans." Romney also brought up poverty at both presidential debates that covered domestic policy.

In contrast, President Obama rarely utters the word, and usually not in a campaign context. For example, he mentioned poverty at the dedication of the Cesar Chavez National Monument in Keene, Calif., on Oct. 8, but mostly to discuss the conditions Chavez addressed in the 1960s and '70s. Obama spoke the word again in his Sept. 25 address to the United Nations -- also not a campaign speech -- but only in the context of discussing religious tolerance around the world.

In his speech to the Democratic convention in Charlotte, N.C., Obama said "poverty" twice, once when discussing a hypothetical "little girl who's offered an escape from poverty by a great teacher or a grant for college," and later when declaring, "We know that churches and charities can often make more of a difference than a poverty program alone." Neither reference suggested there is a particularly acute poverty problem right now.

In short, even though the fight against poverty has long been associated with Democrats, and even though he is in a tight re-election race, and even though poverty is a particularly compelling problem at the moment, Barack Obama ignores the issue when it comes time to campaign. A sky-high poverty rate doesn't fit his theme that things are getting better. So he doesn't talk about it.

But the problem is still there. According to the Census Bureau, the poverty rate has gone from 12.5 percent in 2007 to 13.2 percent in 2008 to 14.3 percent in 2009 to 15.1 percent in 2010 to 15.0 percent in 2011. The last time it was higher than 15.1 percent was in 1965, when the nation's anti-poverty programs were just taking effect.

According to aides, Romney has thought about, and been concerned about, poverty his entire life. They point to a biographical video the Romney campaign produced for the Republican convention and now plays before campaign events around the country. The video features old film of George Romney, Mitt's father, saying, "I've been poor. I've worked from the time I was 12. I know what poverty is, I've been up through it."

Indeed, on the stump, Mitt Romney often talks about his father's modest beginnings. "There were times in my dad's life when he lived in poverty," Romney said in a speech to a Hispanic group in June. "My dad didn't finish college ... He held odd jobs -- lath and plaster and selling paint. He was lucky enough to live in America, where hard work can turn aspirations into realities." The elder Romney went on to become CEO of American Motors and, later, governor of Michigan.

Of course, Mitt Romney never lived in poverty and is today fabulously wealthy. But he heard his father every day growing up, and it's probably fair to say that he hears him still today. And so Romney thinks about poverty and what to do about it. He believes his proposals to spur economic growth will lift large numbers of Americans out of poverty. And he's willing to talk about it.

The irony is that, after the leak of the "47 percent" video on Sept. 17, Romney has fought the charge that he doesn't care about the poor. But the fact is, if you listen to both Romney and Obama on the stump, you will hear concern about the nation's poor from one candidate and virtually nothing from the other.

NYU terrorism class asks students to plot terrorist attack

From Jihad Watch / Posted by Robert Spencer


Given the fact that American college campuses are generally places where counter-jihadists cannot venture without bodyguards, and where they are routinely libeled with no opportunity given for rebuttal, and where they are shouted down and physically threatened when they do speak, this is no surprise: jihad terror is chic these days. It's multicultural. It's Leftist. It's cool. Marie-Helen Maras is meanwhile probably deeply concerned about "Islamophobia."

"NYU terrorism class asks students to plot terrorist attack," by Doug Auer and Kevin Sheehan for the New York Post, October 29:
It’s Terrorism 101. 
A New York University class on transnational terrorism is requiring students to “hypothetically plan a terrorist attack” — and shocked cops say the outrageous lesson plan is an insult to the officers killed on Sept. 11.
The controversial course, taught by former Navy criminal investigator Marie-Helen Maras, asks the pupils to “step into [a terrorist’s] shoes” and write a 10- to 15-page paper on their battle plan.
“Some of the most notorious terrorists, including Anwar al-Awlaki, got their start on American campuses. It looks like after the CIA killed al-Awlaki, NYU is helping to produce successors,” said an outraged law-enforcement expert on terrorism....
For the assignment, Maras — who has a Ph.D. from Oxford and is also an associate professor at SUNY Farmingdale — instructs her pupils to consider all aspects of the attack.
“In your paper, you must describe your hypothetical attack and what will happen in the aftermath of the attack,” Maras wrote in the syllabus obtained by The Post.
They must factor in the methods of execution, sources of funding, number of operatives needed and the target government’s reaction, according to the paper’s outline.
At the same time, students must realistically stay within their chosen terror group’s “goals, capabilities, tactical profile, targeting pattern and operational area,” the syllabus states.
Given the detail required — and possibly concerned that the how-to terror manuals could land in the wrong hands — Maras warns that each page of a student’s paper must bear the disclaimer: “This is a hypothetical scenario for a university course on transnational terrorism.”
When told of the term paper, one ranking police officer who lost coworkers on 9/11 called it “the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard.”...
“I’m disgusted,” said the source. “What is this, we have our students do the work for the terrorists?”
Another source worried that the assignment could become a primer in plotting attacks rather than counter-terrorism.
“This flies in the face of the 11 years of hard work the NYPD has done in tracking down terrorists to the far reaches of the globe to make sure they never strike again,” said the source.
Other terrorists who studied in the US include 9/11 architect Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, Times Square bomber Faisal Shahzad and most recently Quazi Ahsan Nafis, the Bangladeshi student accused of plotting to bomb the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
The professor defended the course assignment.
“The exercise is meant to prepare students for the field, to prepare them for careers in intelligence, policing, counterterrorism. This is a grad-level assignment for a grad-level course,” Maras told The Post.
“Why didn’t the police call me if they have concerns? I have NYPD officers in my class,” she said.
The students are also supposed to imagine the counter-terrorism measures implemented in the attack’s aftermath, she added....