Monday, September 30, 2013

Like the Yankees sputtering through the last few games of a season filled with injuries and frustration, ObamaCare is limping its way toward its official launch next Tuesday, dragging with it an ever larger trail of disappointments.

Supporters of the health-care overhaul can still celebrate the opening of 50 state exchanges next week, where individuals unable to otherwise find “affordable” insurance can shop for federally subsidized plans.

Oops, not 50 exchanges: Vermonters will be able to look at plans on their exchange in October, but they won’t actually be able to buy them until November. Exchanges in Minnesota, Oregon and Utah also won’t be fully functional either, and several other states are rushing to fix last-minute “glitches.”

So let’s just say that next Tuesday, lots of states (including Connecticut, New York and New Jersey) will open their exchanges for business. But those exchanges may have some problems, too.

For example, the software that determines how much people actually have to pay for insurance can’t actually calculate the price. Nor can the system verify your income or whether your employer offered you “affordable” coverage, so they’ll have to just take your word about whether you’re eligible for subsidies.

Plus, the security systems for the program’s new data hub haven’t actually been tested, so your personal data could be at risk. Hey, nothing’s perfect.

Still, part of the law will almost start on time. Then again, a lot of its other provisions have had to be dropped or postponed.

Like the CLASS Act. This was the long-term-care insurance program included in ObamaCare as a special tribute to the late Sen. Edward Kennedy. Alas, as far back as 2011, the administration indefinitely delayed its implementation, and Congress repealed it in a bipartisan vote last year.

The Obama team itself postponed the Small Business Health Option Program until at least 2015. That program was designed to help small employers provide their workers with a choice of health plans.

But in April the administration had to admit it couldn’t provide those options.

Most significantly, of course, the administration has postponed until 2015 the law’s employer mandate, the requirement that businesses with 50 or more employees provide their workers with health insurance or pay a fine.

But the law’s individual mandate remains in effect, meaning workers may now face a situation where they’ll be legally required to buy their own insurance or pay a penalty because their employers take advantage of the delay and don’t provide coverage.

Even before the employer-mandate delay, the Congressional Budget Office estimated that as many as 11 million workers could be dumped by employers who choose to pay the penalty rather than the cost of insurance. Other estimates suggested it could be as high as 35 million. And with no employer penalty at all, expect even more employers to decide it makes sense to drop coverage.

Well, that’s what those exchanges are there for, right?

Now, about the promise that if you like your current insurance plan, you can keep it: Sorry.

Just last month, more than 106,000 New Jerseyans now insured under what are known as “basic and essential” health plans learned that they’ll likely lose their coverage, because these cheaper plans don’t meet ObamaCare’s mandates. Those Garden Staters will have to buy much more expensive insurance.

Well, at least they will be able to buy those expensive policies on an exchange.

Most other ObamaCare promises are also dead letters. We were once told it would provide universal coverage, ensuring every American has access to affordable health insurance. Nope: The Congressional Budget Office says more than 33 million Americans will still be uninsured by 2023.

(And every time CBO revisits this issue, it raises its estimate.)

Also, premiums won’t really go down by $2,500 as the president once promised. While premiums will vary greatly from state to state, and subsidies will shift some costs from individuals to taxpayers, most Americans will likely pay more in premiums for ObamaCare plans than they do for their employee plans today.

Then there were all those times when the president assured us that ObamaCare was good for business and would create more jobs and economic growth. Uh-uh: Instead, we’ve seen employers shift workers from full-time to part-time jobs in order to avoid ObamaCare’s new costs.

Last month, NBC News reported that “employers around the country, from fast-food franchises to colleges, have told [the network] that they will be cutting workers’ hours below 30 a week because they can’t afford to offer the health insurance mandated by the Affordable Care Act, also known as ObamaCare.”

Joseph Hansen, president of the 1.2-million-member United Food and Commercial Workers, warns that ObamaCare will “destroy the foundation of the 40-hour work week that is the backbone of the middle class.”

All in all, as ObamaCare gets ready to start its rookie season, it’s not looking ready for the big leagues.

This article appeared in the New York Post

We’re all paying more at the pump. It’s hurting consumers and dangerous for the fragile economy. And, it’s because of a Washington handout to corn farmers and big Wall Street banks – all disguised as a measure to promote renewable energy and clean-burning fuels.

The Renewable Fuel Standards (RFS) mandates an ever-increasing floor of ethanol be mixed with gasoline. The bill, which was expanded under President Obama, ensures a baseline level of demand for ethanol, distorting the market and sending the price of corn substantially higher. That’s because gasoline refiners have to purchase ethanol, regardless of the price.

So, corn prices tripled, which has factored its way into the prices of other agriculture products. In fact, the Congressional Budget Office estimates that the impact of the RFS is so broad that ethanol subsidies account for 10-15 percent of the rise in overall food prices. In terms of the overall economy, the RFS is expected to cause a decline of $770 billion in GDP in 2015 alone. That’s real economic activity, which translates to real jobs and incomes for Americans throughout the country.

And, hardly anyone in Congress or the Obama administration thinks the current law is working.

TheEnvironmental Protection Agency, which is run by leftist environmentalists, said that it does not “foresee a scenario in which the market could consume enough ethanol […] and/or produce sufficient volumes of non-ethanol biofuels to meet the volumes of total renewable fuel and advanced biofuel as required by statute for 2014.” So, in other words – Washington has once again imposed unachievable burdens on the private sector.

But what may be worse than this indirect subsidy to corn farmers is the way that big Wall Street banks are exploiting it at the expense of consumers. That’s because if a gasoline refiner cannot meet the demands of the RFS, it can purchase credits, called renewable identification numbers (RINs), in a “marketplace.” But unlike transparent marketplaces like Amazon, the market for RINs is opaque and dominated by speculators with no interest except driving the price higher.

The New York Times recently reported that, “the price of the ethanol credits skyrocketed 20-fold in just six months.” A credit that went for 7 cents at the start of the year traded for $1.43 in July, according to Bloomberg. And that price is simply passed along to consumers at the pump – a large factor keeping gas prices above $3 per gallon nationwide for 1,000 consecutive days.

But Congress has approached the RFS from a weak position, intimidated by powerful lobby groups who like these handouts. Though the Chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, Fred Upton (MI), has assigned four members to find a solution, just one – Rep. Steve Scalise (LA) – has called for full repeal. The others – Reps. John Shimkus (IL), Lee Terry (NE) and Cory Gardner (CO) – are calling for “reform.” Such reform could even get attached to the must-pass bill that will raise the debt ceiling. According to recent reports, that could even include a one-year delay to the RFS mandates.

While a one-year delay will certainly help the stagnant economy, it does little but push the can down the road. As long as the RFS exists, it will damage the economy. Congress is just debating the degree to which they will let that happen. Conservatives in Congress need to stop trying to save the RFS – and repeal it in its entirety. Doing that will relieve some of the pain at the pump, stop the increase in food prices and save Americans $770 million in economic activity in 2015.

U.S. gives Iranian president a 2,700-year-old artifact worth over $1 million

From Jihad Watch / Posted by Robert Spencer

Rouhani.jpgThe naivete of the kuffar is endlessly amusing

There is nothing wrong with the U.S. returning an item that had been looted in the first place. The problem is that the Infidels are the ones who are always making gestures of good will, granting concessions, etc. These gestures are never, ever reciprocated: Islamic supremacists expect the Infidels to pay tribute, but would never dream of doing it themselves.

"Rouhani home with US ‘gift’ of silver griffin: reports," from AFP, September 28 (thanks to Jerk Chicken):
Tehran (AFP) - Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Saturday brought home a 2,700-year-old Persian artifact the US administration gave him as “a special gift" to Iranians, media reports said. 
“The Americans contacted us on Thursday and said 'we have a gift for you',” Rouhani told reporters upon arrival at the airport in Tehran, the ILNA news agency reported.
“They gave it back as a special gift to the Iranian nation.”
Rouhani was speaking of a 7th century BC silver Persian drinking cup in the shape of a winged Griffin, a legendary creature with the head of an eagle and body of a lion.
It is reported to be worth more than a million dollars.
After being looted from a cave in Iran, the cup was seized by US custom officials in 2003 when an arts dealer attempted to smuggle it into the country, according to a State Department tweet.
Mohammad Ali Najafi, head of Iran's heritage organisation who accompanied Rouhani to New York, welcomed the news.
"We hope this will mark the beginning of the return of other artifacts," he was quoted as saying by the official IRNA news agency.
Rouhani made history on Friday by speaking on the phone to US President Barack Obama in the first contact between Iranian and American leaders since the 1979 Islamic revolution.

Teaching The Test: The Coming Common Core Disaster

by / Personal Liberty Digest

Teaching The Test: The Coming Common Core Disaster
The new national education standards adopted by 45 States and the District of Columbia and now slipping into America’s schools are a collectivist’s dream.

Called Common Core, it is an attempt to create a Federally controlled education system designed to turn children into mind-numbed drones devoid of imagination and inculcated with a progressive culture of redistributionist economics, social justice, the mainstreaming of perverted lifestyles, secular humanism and radical environmentalism. It is a one-size-fits-all scheme that will dumb down students to the lowest common denominator.

Proponents of the program — people like radical Education Secretary Arne Duncan (champion of ridiculous zero-tolerance policies that lead to expulsions over breakfast tarts bitten into and papers torn into the shape of guns) — claim the goal is to prepare all students for entrance into community college. Never mind the fallacious logic that all children need a college education or even that a college education has much value in today’s part-time Obamacare economy, the truth is Common Core’s curriculum will create a group of students ignorant but well-prepared and well-versed in taking tests, as teachers will be evaluated on their students test scores rather than whether the children are learning anything useful.

Cash-strapped States grasped onto Common Core as a lifeline. President Barack Obama offered them hundreds of millions of dollars in “stimulus” funds and relief from the insidious No Child Left Behind standards that were to hit in full force in 2014. They did so sight unseen, based on the recommendation of two progressive lobbying groups, the National Governor’s Association (NGA) and Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) — the groups that hold copyrights over the standards. The standards were written by the leftist ACHIEVE, Inc., without input from State legislators, school boards, teachers or parents.

In addition to Federal “stimulus” dollars, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has dumped nearly $200 million into Common Core through the NGA, CCSSO, ACHIEVE, teachers’ unions, nonprofits and State and local school boards that are pushing Common Core. For more on the crony capitalist nature of Common Core, go here and here.

So what has Gates to gain from doing such a thing? In order to comply, schools will be purchasing a computer for every student and the software needed to run the curriculum, education program and testing system. In fact, Gates as much as admitted this in 2009 at the National Conference of State Legislators:
Fortunately, the State-led Common Core State Standards Initiative is developing clear, rigorous common standards that match the best in the world. Last month, 46 Governors and chief State school officers made a public commitment to embrace these common standards.
This is encouraging, but identifying common standards is not enough. We’ll know we’ve succeeded when the curriculum and the tests are aligned to these standards.
Secretary Arne Duncan recently announced that $350 million of the stimulus package will be used to create just these kinds of tests: next-generation assessments aligned to the common core. When the tests are aligned to the common standards, the curriculum will line up as well. And that will unleash powerful market forces in the service of better teaching.
For the first time, there will be a large uniform base of customers eager to buy products that can help every child learn and every teacher get better.
In other words, Gates sees millions of new customers eager to buy products created by Microsoft that align with copyrighted standards established by a nonprofit he controls.
The Federal and grant money that has so far been poured into Common Core implementation will cover only about half the costs. The rest must be accumulated through local means. In addition to computers for every student, Common Core requires school systems to install a group of “master teachers” who will be charged with coaching, monitoring and assessing classroom teachers and ensuring their ability to teach the tests.
So what about the education students will be receiving from Common Core?

Cruz, Republicans Vow to Hold Firm on Obamacare Demands
Image: Cruz, Republicans Vow to Hold Firm on Obamacare Demands
A conservative challenge to the president's health care law has the federal government teetering on the brink of a partial shutdown.

The Senate has the next move on must-do legislation required to keep the government open past midnight on Monday, and the Democratic-led chamber is expected to reject the latest effort from House Republicans to use a normally routine measure to attack President Barack Obama's signature health care law.

Congress was closed for the day on Sunday after a post-midnight vote in the GOP-run House to delay by a year key parts of the new health care law and repeal a tax on medical devices as the price for avoiding a shutdown. The Senate is slated to convene Monday afternoon just 10 hours before the shutdown deadline, and Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., has already promised that majority Democrats will kill the House's latest volley.

A House GOP leader, Rep. Kevin McCarthy of California, said the House would again rebuff the Senate's efforts to advance the short-term funding bill as a simple, "clean" measure shorn of anti-heath care reform provisions.

Since the last government shutdown 17 years ago, temporary funding bills known as continuing resolutions have been noncontroversial, with neither party willing to chance a shutdown to achieve legislative goals it couldn't otherwise win. But with health insurance exchanges set to open Tuesday, tea party Republicans are willing to take the risk in their drive to kill the law, so-called "Obamacare."

"You're going to shut down the government if you can't prevent millions of Americans from getting affordable care," said Rep. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md.

A leader of the tea party Republicans, Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, insisted the blame rests with Senate Democrats.

"The House has twice now voted to keep the government open. And if we have a shutdown, it will only be because when the Senate comes back, Harry Reid says, `I refuse even to talk,'" said Cruz, who led a 21-hour broadside against allowing the temporary funding bill to advance if stripped clean of a tea party-backed provision to derail Obamacare. The effort failed.

The battle started with a House vote to pass the short-term funding bill with a provision that would have eliminated the federal dollars needed to put Obama's health care overhaul into place. The Senate voted along party lines to strip that out and set the measure back to the House.

The latest House bill, passed early Sunday by a near party-line vote of 231-192, sent back to the Senate two major changes: a one-year delay of key provisions of the health insurance law and repeal of a new tax on medical devices that partially funds it. The steps still go too far for the White House and its Democratic allies.

Senate rules often make it difficult to move quickly, but the chamber can act on the House's latest proposals by simply calling them up and killing them.

Eyes were turning to the House for its next move. A senior leader vowed the House would not simply give in to Democrats' demands to pass the Senate's "clean" funding bill.

"The House will get back together in enough time, send another provision not to shut the government down, but to fund it, and it will have a few other options in there for the Senate to look at again," said McCarthy, the No. 3 House Republican leader.

He suggested that House Republicans would try blocking a mandate that individuals buy health insurance or face a tax penalty, saying there might be some Democratic support in the Senate for that.

On the other hand, Democrats said the GOP's bravado may fade as the deadline to avert a shutdown nears.

Asked whether he could vote for a "clean" temporary funding bill, Rep. Raul Labrador, R-Idaho, said he couldn't. But Labrador added, "I think there's enough people in the Republican Party who are willing to do that. And I think that's what you're going to see."

A leading Senate GOP moderate called on her fellow Republicans to back down.

"I disagree with the strategy of linking Obamacare with the continuing functioning of government - a strategy that cannot possibly work," said Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine.

McCarthy wouldn't say what changes Republicans might make. He appeared to suggest that a very short-term measure might pass at the last minute, but GOP aides said that was unlikely.

Republicans argued that Reid should have convened the Senate on Sunday.

Yet even some Republicans said privately they feared that Reid held the advantage in a fast-approaching end game.

Republicans argued that they had already made compromises; for instance, their latest measure would leave intact most parts of the health care law that have taken effect, including requiring insurance companies to cover people with pre-existing conditions and to let families' plans cover children up to age 26. They also would allow insurers to deny contraception coverage based on religious or moral objections.

Tea party lawmakers in the House - egged on by Cruz - forced GOP leaders to abandon an earlier plan to deliver a "clean" stopgap spending bill to the Senate and move the fight to another must-do measure looming in mid-October: a bill to increase the government's borrowing cap to avert a market-rattling, first-ever default on U.S. obligations.

In the event lawmakers blow the Monday deadline, about 800,000 workers would be forced off the job without pay. Some critical services such as patrolling the borders, inspecting meat and controlling air traffic would continue. Social Security benefits would be sent, and the Medicare and Medicaid health care programs for the elderly and poor would continue to pay doctors and hospitals.
Shut her down…and shut Obama and Reid up for added measure 
By: Diane Sori

Deadlocked…and yet the Senate was too preoccupied to come back on Sunday and do their job of working on behalf of the American people…a job they were elected to do.

Waiting until 2 pm this afternoon to return to session…a mere 10 hours before a possible government shutdown begins…Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid had the audacity to tell ‘We the People’ that the Democratic majority Senate will reject the new House compromise bill even BEFORE any Senators see or read it.

Talk about partisan rhetoric, liberal whining, and foot stomping when he does NOT get his way…now add in a dose of Nancy Pelosi’s ‘you have to pass it before you can read it’ rantings and Harry Reid’s true motives become obvious…the same anti-American motives as Barack HUSSEIN Obama has.

“The American people will not be extorted by Tea Party anarchists” whined Reid as the reason why the Senate will NOT approve the House bill…a bill that keeps the government up and running after the October 1st date when we 'supposedly' run out of money, while at the same time delaying the dreaded ObamaCare for one year.

'Extorted by Tea Party anarchists'...NO..I don't think so for the Tea Party is comprised of true American patriots…something Reid knows NOTHING about. And what Reid does NOT understand or simply refuses to understand is that the reason the House will NEVER approve any Senate bill as long as the monstrosity known as ObamaCare remains in its current form is that 57+% of the American people do NOT want it at all…meaning the House is voting according to the will of the people…something the Senate and Harry Reid refuse to do.

And so thankfully, the House Republicans did NOT back down and in a rare Saturday night session they stood strong and united against the Senate bill, voting 231-192 in favor of a one year delay of ObamaCare, and by a margin of 248-174 they voted to repeal the medical device tax, with 17 Democrats voting along with the Republicans on this section. And this was nice to see after 23 Republican Senators went RINO on us during the previous round of Senate voting.

And when the night was over ALL 229 Republicans…along with two Democrats (Rep.McIntyre-NC and Rep. Matheson-UT)...passed a second continuing resolution…a short-term stop-gap measure really…but one that would avoid an early Tuesday morning government shutdown.

But now showing what a narrow-minded uncompromising individual he really is…just like his buddy Obama…Harry Reid has rejected the new House bill outright BEFORE it even reaches the Senate floor…rejecting a bill that is a good meld and compromise between what the Republicans want and what the Democrats want as it funds the government through December 15th yet delays…NOT defunds…the implementation of ObamaCare for one year.

And delaying ObamaCare for one year is especially important in light of the fact that Obama himself delayed it for one year for BIG business (in fact Obama has signed seven bills to change provisions in the original ObamaCare)…so in all fairness it should be delayed one year across the board for the American people as well. But ‘Prince’ Harry obviously does NOT understand the rules of fair play nor is he even willing to address compromise.

“After weeks of futile political games from Republicans, we are still at square one,” Reid whined after the House vote was announced, but in reality ALL delays have come from the Democratic side. And to make this forthcoming NO vote in the Senate even more grievous is that in addition to the delaying of ObamaCare by one year, in a separate but attached bill the Republican proposal included wording to the affect that in the event of a government shutdown that our military must still get paid…and Harry Reid being the true liberal that he is says that will be rejected by the Senate also.

So while it’s nice to know that Reid knows the Senate vote even BEFORE they do, his total rejection of continuing paychecks for our military…agreed to in a unanimous House vote…shows his true character and dislike for those who defend our country…again just like Barack HUSSEIN Obama does

And we all know that these marching orders NOT to even consider let alone compromise on the new House bill come directly from Barack HUSSEIN Obama himself…from the very man who has NO trouble talking to and compromising with our enemies…but then again in his eyes ‘We the People’ are the enemies…the enemies of his socialist agenda and the enemy of his blood brethren.

And so this afternoon when the Senate rejects the House short-term stop-gap bill, we know the in-the-pocket-for-Obama media will blame the Republicans for the sure to follow first government shutdown in nearly 20 years, even while the House immediately moves to construct and pass another bill that would challenge ObamaCare.
So let the shutdown begin…in fact it’s most welcomed for in reality it will take a government shutdown…NOT just the threat of a shutdown…to get Barack HUSSEIN Obama and Harry Reid down from their media appointed pedestals and force them to the negotiating table where they will have to take the Republicans seriously while the Republicans work to clean-up Obama and Reid’s economic mess.

And what’s truly sad is that in today’s America real policy discussion and negotiation can only happen when both sides are forced to the table because both sides have much to lose.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

State Department confirms that jihadists seized warehouse full of U.S. weapons intended for Syria "moderates"

From Jihad Watch / Posted by Robert Spencer

KavkazUSAid.jpgAl-Qaeda mujahedin getting USAID

The State Department official said that this “illustrates how vitally important it is that we continue to provide assistance to moderate opposition forces who share our deep concerns over the threat that extremists pose to the communities within Syria and to their country’s future.” Actually, it illustrates the spectacular failure of the Obama Administration to aid the "moderates" it claims are in control among the Syrian rebels.

"Officials: Al Qaeda Seized U.S. Supplies and Foreign Weapons Meant for Syria Opposition," by Sara Carter for The Blaze, September 27 (thanks to Jerk Chicken):
Terrorist fighters with an Al Qaeda-affiliated group in Syria seized weapons and other supplies meant for the secular Syrian Supreme Military Council, U.S. State Department and other western officials confirmed to TheBlaze. 
According to reports from Syria, small arms and ammunition stashed at a warehouse located along the border town of Azaz supplied by Saudi Arabia and Qatar were taken more than a week ago by the Al Qaeda affiliate.
A State Department official with knowledge of the incident confirmed to TheBlaze that U.S. ready-to-eat meals, known as MREs, and other non-lethal supplies were taken by fighters with the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, known as ISIS. The group is extremely dangerous and threatened this month to “cleanse” towns along the border of any secular Muslims and pro-western opposition groups, according to reports.
We can confirm that ISIS has seized control of a warehouse containing a small number of U.S. MREs intended for the Supreme Military Council,” a State Department official told TheBlaze.
The clashes between the Free Syrian Army and the Al Qaeda affiliate in the town of Azaz, where the supplies were stolen from, “illustrates how vitally important it is that we continue to provide assistance to moderate opposition forces who share our deep concerns over the threat that extremists pose to the communities within Syria and to their country’s future,” the official said.
In an interview with TheBlaze’s TV “For The Record,” Free Syrian Army ground commander Col. Riad El Asaad said his men would fight Al Qaeda factions that have penetrated Syria. El Asaad said he and many of his men are targets of the foreign Al Qaeda factions in his country.
The State Department official said that despite “extensive vetting to mitigate the risk,” non-lethal assistance can end up in the hands of unintended recipients, such as terrorist groups....
Earlier this week, TheBlaze reported on a photo of ISIS-linked Commander Muhajireen Kavkaz wa Sham, who along with other rebels, appeared to be donning battle gear and a rocket-propelled grenade inside a U.S. Agency for International Development tent.
“It looks like they got the tent from the raid on the depot,” said a U.S. official, who asked not to be named due to the nature of their work. “It’s not surprising – it happens in war zones – bad guys sometimes get their hands on weapons not intended for them.”
Government Shutdown is a Fantastic Idea; Here's Why  
Mike Shedlock / Townhall Columnist
Looking for a reason to support a government shutdown? If so, please consider Obama Stripped to Skeleton Staff in a Government Shutdown.
A U.S. government shutdown means President Barack Obama will have fewer people to cook meals, do the laundry, clean the floors or change the light bulbs, according to a White House contingency plan.

About three-fourths of president’s 1,701-person staff would be sent home. The national security team would be cut back, fewer economists would be tracking the economy and there wouldn’t be as many budget officials to track spending.

Of the total, 438 people work directly for the president. Under a shutdown, 129 could continue working, according to the contingency plan.

Biden, who has a staff of 24, would have had to make do with 12.

Obama’s national security staff of 66 would be cut to 42. Similar staff cuts would be imposed at the White House Office of Management and Budget, the Council on Environmental Quality, the Council of Economic Advisers and the Office of National Drug Control Policy, which are all part of the president’s executive office.
Fantastic Idea

If you think that a government shutdown is a fantastic idea (I sure do), then please contact your elected representatives and let them know.
IMF Proposes Eurozone Fiscal Union, Banking Union, Harmonized Employment, Common Unemployment Scheme, Firewall Tax
In the biggest nannycrat proposal ever, the IMF announced it's vision for the United States of Europe (without using that name to describe the proposal).

Via translation from El Pais, please consider IMF suggests common unemployment benefits for the eurozone.
The IMF proposes more discipline, more fiscal integration, and the creation of a common unemployment benefit and risk sharing scheme to help the club of countries that have experienced damage in this crisis currency.

Fund staff argues that ommon fiscal governance, along with the banking union, are necessary to offset the "weaknesses in the architecture" of the eurozone, reinforce the club of 17 to future crises. In addition, the study argues that the most urgent step to acquire banking union goes through a firewall overall tax.

The pillars of a fiscal union , according to IMF staff, go through a series of mechanisms to pool the risks and avoid further costly bailouts, always subject to greater fiscal discipline. The tighter control over public finances of each country, which occur revenues and expenditures, is the condition of these forward-looking statements, both from the point of view of the IMF and Brussels.

Obedience and monitoring standards would allow the creation of a liquidity fund for troubled countries including a common unemployment benefit or "rainy day fund".

This fund would be nurtured with an amount equivalent to between 1.5% and 2% of the GDP of member countries, which is in line for a fund with Germany for its most troubled regions.

Harmonisation of Employment

But there is much work ahead for something like a common shutdown could crystallize into a eurozone labor markets as diverse. "A common insurance scheme would require a minimum of harmonization in taxation of employment plus pension rights, which would be a positive step towards a single labor market," the report warns.

The fiscal integration also requires a kind of Eurobonds or form of joint financing, led by the center of power and backed by global revenue, which would be possible once common tax structure is already underway.

A single monitoring mechanism should complement a firm commitment to establish a strong firewall " to anchor confidence in the banking system. " And this will require common money too: "While some insurance against banking fiascos be funded by the industry itself, a common fund for recapitalization, liquidation and deposit guarantee would reduce the risk of infection."

The True Vision - A United State of Europe

That is the most comprehensive vision for the United States of Europe we have seen yet. And I propose an immediate up-or-down vote, right now, in all of the 17 member countries.

I am quite sure the unemployed in Greece, Spain, Portugal, and Italy will be 100% in favor of a common unemployment scheme, especially if Germany would foot the bill. And France would always vote for more taxes as a matter of course, the bigger the tax hikes the better.

Common work rules would have to be along the lines of the French work rules of course. And who could possibly be against common pension schemes at the expense of Germany and the Northern European countries?

The more I think about this the more perfect the proposal is. It is complete with every nuance the nannycrats want. So let's not delay. We need an up-or-down vote right now, not by the governments of each country, but rather by the citizens of each county who can decide if they like all of the proposed benefits and taxes necessary to make the United States of Europe work.

While the media has been fixated on Republican infighting over how to deal with Obamacare, it has completely ignored the panic-induced irrational rhetoric coming from Democrats on the same subject.

No, they aren’t openly forming circular firing squads like Republicans do – progressives put their agenda above ego and public disagreement. But they are worried because, while Obamacare was built to fail, it wasn’t expected to fail so early. That failure puts at risk the progressive dream of single-payer health care in the United States.

We are moving past the “cost estimate” stage of Obamacare into reality of what Obamacare will mean to Americans’ pockets. As the state exchanges get ready to go live on Tuesday, the Department of Health and Human Services released the cost of insurance premiums for individuals in some states, and the numbers aren’t good.

Sure, progressive “journalists,” such as New York Magazine’s Jonathan Chait, took a thesaurus to White House press releases and published rewritten end zone dances, featuring lines like, “I grant that glitches and setbacks have occurred, mostly but not entirely because of fanatical Republican sabotage effort.”

While Chait was claiming premium “savings” and declaring, “I have yet to see a single conservative grapple with the positive developments,” serious analysts such as the Manhattan Institute’s Avik Roy brought some honesty to the table. He writes, “HHS compared what the Congressional Budget Office projected rates might look like—in 2016—to its own findings. Neither of those numbers tells you the stat that really matters: how much rates will go up next year, under Obamacare, relative to this year, prior to the law taking effect.”

In fact, Roy found that comparing apples to apples and not apples to Subarus, “Obamacare will increase underlying insurance rates for younger men by an average of 97 to 99 percent, and for younger women by an average of 55 to 62 percent.”

When the comparison is an honest one it is not much of a “positive development.”

This fact has progressives worried. Obamacare was designed to fail, but it was designed to fail eventually, not quickly. Progressives, with the help of the media, would blame a failure a few years from now on the “free market.” But failure from the start will force the blame fall where is squarely belongs – on government control.

How, you may ask, could an exchange set up, governed and subsidized by a government bureaucracy be called a “free market”? It’s already happened.

When Walgreens announced it planned to drop the insurance it has been providing employees because of Obamacare, none other than the Washington Post hailed it as a great development for them. Those 160,000 employees would not be able to keep the plan they had if they liked it, as the president repeatedly promised. Instead, they would be “joining a growing list of large employers seeking to control costs by having employees shop for coverage in a private marketplace.” (emphasis added)

Of course, there’s nothing “private” about it. But that lie is out there, with the credibility of none other than the Washington Post behind it. Which was the point. People who don’t pay attention will now be exposed to it, and it will spread.

Developments of this sort are now commonplace. The list of companies dropping coverage or cutting hours to avoid Obamacare’s costs now number more than 300 and is growing every day.

With this growing pressure and increasing public realization of the failures of Obamacare, its proponents are getting desperate. The plan is in motion. The law is in place. No matter how much spin they put on it, this lemon seems ready to collapse at the starting line. This is leading to some unhinged behavior.

This week Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., called opponents of Obamacare “anarchists” for working within the normal functions of government to defund it. The president’s senior advisor, Dan Pfeiffer, said the White House is “not for negotiating with people with a bomb strapped to their chest.” Ironically, he said this Thursday, the day before the president announced he’d spoken to the president of Iran, and while he is in the midst of negotiating with Syria over chemical weapons. No to talking with Republicans, yes to Iran and Syria.

Were the President a beer spokesman he might say, 'I don’t always associate with terrorists, but when I do, I prefer they be real terrorists and have been responsible for murdering Americans.' It’s appropriate, I suppose, because he is the “worst president in the world.”

The president himself is engaging in an ever-growing rhetorical meltdown. In his continued effort to sell Obamacare to the public, he’s been giving speeches about its virtues. Part of his rhetorical repertoire is the claim that “there's no serious evidence that the law … is holding back economic growth." The absurdity of this lie can be explained only by desperation or, as he has claimed in the cases of Fast & Furious and the IRS targeting of his political opponents, the president simply hasn’t read or seen any media stories about all the layoffs and cuts in hours.

As more of the train derails the rhetoric will become more desperate.

That’s why a one-year delay, the strategy being discussed now by Republicans, shouldn’t be pursued.

A delay gives Obamacare time, and time is life. That’s why the president has delayed as many of the most egregious parts of the law. The further away from launch it collapses the more likely their plan to blame the private market is to work. Republicans should be doing what they can to speed up the inevitable collapse and suing to force the administration to have Obamacare implemented as it is written, as they wrote and passed it. After all, as they’ve been constantly reminding everyone, “It’s the law,” not “mostly the law.”

What Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, did this week was invaluable in that it forced the problems the government created to the top of the consciousness of the American public (though the media is trying to undo that damage). But the collective attention span of the American people is short. In a year or two it will be forgotten. The best chance to destroy Obamacare is to get out of its way and let nature take its course.
Both Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio are eligible to be President or Vice-President
By: Diane Sori

Last Tuesday, Texas Senator Ted Cruz showed what an elected official should be...a champion of 'We the People.'  In a 21-hour 'non-filibuster' filibuster, Cruz let it be known about the danger facing us all...the danger that is ObamaCare. By standing strong, Ted Cruz got thrust into the limelight as the frontrunner for the Republican Presidential or Vice-Presidential nomination in 2016...and rightly so.

One of those standing united with Ted Cruz, and speaking when he needed a break, was Florida Senator Marco Rubio, who in 2012 was on Mitt Romney's Vice-Presidential 'short list' and whose name is also be spoken of for the Presidential or Vice-Presidential nomination in 2016. 

However, with both Cruz and Rubio's names comes the issue raised by some that neither meets the requirement of being a ‘natural born citizen.’  But what most do NOT realize is that in the case of both men this concern can be resolved by just reading the words...or lack of the Constitution itself...just reading the words as written...NOT trying to change or reinterpret words that our Founders made clear and simple in their meaning.

Let me explain...let's start with the critical issue that is at the crux of the issues raised...what exactly is a 'natural born citizen'?  Simply, the Constitution does NOT define those words, but the Framers’ understanding...combined with statutes enacted by the First Congress...indicate that the phrase meant both birth abroad to American parents (in a manner regulated by federal law...more on that later), and birth within the nation’s territory regardless of parental citizenship.

In fact, the Supreme Court has upheld that meaning many times in various contexts even with being a 'natural-born citizen' a requirement to be President or Vice-President of this country.  But again, NOWHERE in the Constitution does it define ‘natural born citizen ' while 'native born' citizen is clearly defined.

And while Article 2 of the Constitution does state, “no person except a natural born citizen … shall be eligible to the Office of President,” the actual term ‘natural born citizen’ was ambiguous at best. Some contend that anyone born inside the U.S. should be considered a natural born citizen, and the Congressional Research Service (CRS)* seems to back that view. 

They have stated that, "The weight of scholarly legal and historical opinion indicates that the term means one who is entitled under the Constitution or laws of the United States to U.S. citizenship "at birth" or "by birth," including any child born "in" the United States, even to alien parents (other than to foreign diplomats serving their country), the children of United States citizens born abroad, and those born abroad of one citizen parent who has met U.S. residency requirements.”

And herein lies the key, and read these words very carefully, “one who is entitled under the Constitution or laws of the United States to U.S. citizenship "at birth" or "by birth," including any child born "in" the United States, even to alien parents...” Even to “alien parents,” as long as the child is born “in” the United States...that is the key phrase in Marco Rubio’s particular case.

In the case of Canadian born Ted Cruz the words "at birth" are key as Cruz's mother, a U.S. born American citizen, conferred citizenship to Ted under 'The Nationality Act of 1940' which states which children become “nationals and citizens of the United States at birth." Stating those born in the United States or born outside the United States to at least one parent who was a citizen at the time of the child's birth allows citizenship to go to that child if that citizen parent spent a certain number of years in the U.S.

And this is where Ted Cruz's American citizenship is garnered from as Cruz being born to a born in America citizen mother, was able to assume her citizenship 'at birth' because under the law in effect between 1952 and 1986...Cruz was born in 1970...someone must have a citizen parent who resided in the United States for at least 10 years, including five years after the age of 14, in order to have citizenship conferred to them. 

The indisputable fact is that Ted Cruz's mother, Eleanor Darragh, was born and raised in the Delaware...did NOT go to Canada until her mid-to late 20s. and did NOT have Ted until into her 30's...way beyond the mandatory 5-year-post-age-14 residency requirement. 

And herein lies Barack HUSSEIN Obama's problems for whether he was born in Kenya as some claim or whether he was born in Hawaii as others claim...his American citizen mother did NOT reside in the U.S. for 5 years after age 14 as she was 18 years of age when Obama was born...only 4 years after reaching the mandatory 14 years of age...and Obama was born in 1961 so he comes under the same rules of law as Ted Cruz does.

This simple fact makes Barack HUSSEIN Obama ineligible to be President NO matter which side of the  'birther' vs 'non-birther' battle one is on.

As for Rubio, while we all know his parents were NOT citizens at the time of his birth there is NO doubt whatsoever that Marco Rubio was indeed born “in” the United States, in Miami in fact, as he has an indisputable birth certificate that proves just that.  His parents received their final naturalization papers in 1975, four years after Marco’ birth but there is NO denying that his “alien parents” were here LEGALLY, they came here through the LEGAL process, they lived here LEGALLY, and they became citizens LEGALLY as per the requirements of that day.  So, yes they were “alien parents” at the time of Marco’s birth but the Congressional Research Service clearly states that ‘under the Constitution’ as long as the person in question was born here, having “alien parents” means nothing.

There is even more credence in both Cruz and Rubio's eligibility to become either President or Vice-President.  Article Two: Section One, Clause 5 of the Constitution states the eligibility requirements for serving as either President or Vice President of the United States:

“No person except a natural born Citizen, or a Citizen of the United States, at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the Office of President; neither shall any Person be eligible to that Office who shall not have attained to the Age of thirty-five Years, and been fourteen Years a Resident within the United States.”

Now reread these words very carefully again, “No person except a natural born Citizen, or a Citizen of the United States, at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution...”  “At the time of the Adoption of this Constitution...” This again is a key phrase that allows both Cruz and Rubio to be the Republican nominee for either position.

Let me again explain...the requirement to be ‘natural born’ was an attempt to alleviate the fears that foreign aristocrats might immigrate to the new nation...the United States of America...and use their wealth and influence, and power to impose a monarchy upon the people, a monarchy, the very rule of government that the Founders were opposed to.

So to make sure this did not happen, as they were laying the foundations of the laws of our land that would became our Constitution, the Founders made it clear that at the time of the “Adoption of this Constitution” that no one NOT born on United States soil would be eligible to become President, because they feared that England might still try to destroy the emerging nation from within by ‘planting’ a person of their choosing within the emerging ranks of leaders.  

Breaking it down even further, this phrase uses the term ‘natural born’ in context only to the time in which the Constitution was being adopted and makes NO reference to ‘natural born’ in context to later years.

Now also take into account the words, “...have attained to the Age of thirty-five Years, and been fourteen Years a Resident within the United States.”  (Marco Rubio was born here, has lived here his entire life, and is over 35 years of age...Ted Cruz, while born in Canada, had citizenship conferred to him "at birth" through his mother, has lived here most of his life, and is over 35 years of age)  “...and been fourteen Years a Resident within the United States.”  “been fourteen Years a resident...” the word ‘resident’ contradicts the CRS’s interpretive ruling of having to “be born in” or did they take into account in their ruling that the Founders, at the time of the adoption of the Constitution, realized that since the nation was new that maybe some who aspired to the presidency might have been born in England or elsewhere but came here as a child...hmmm, we will never know for sure. 

But critical in today's questioning is the memorandum to Congress dated April 3, 2009, written by the Congressional Research Service (CRS), stating:

“Considering the history of the constitutional qualifications provision, the common use and meaning of the phrase "natural-born subject" in England and in the Colonies in the 1700s, the clause's apparent intent, the subsequent action of the first Congress in enacting the Naturalization Act of 1790 (expressly defining the term "natural born citizen" to include a person born abroad to parents who are United States citizens), as well as subsequent Supreme Court dicta, it appears that the most logical inferences would indicate that the phrase "natural born citizen" would mean a person who is entitled to U.S. citizenship "at birth" or "by birth."

And the words, "natural born citizen" would mean a person who is entitled to U.S. citizenship "at birth" or "by birth" are the most important of all.

So with all the information I have presented, it should be clear to all that both Texas Senator Ted Cruz and Florida Senator Marco Rubio are indeed eligible to be either President or Vice-President of these United States.

And by the way....Cruz/Rubio 2016 or Rubio/Cruz 2016...either way works for me.
 *The Congressional Research Service (CRS) works exclusively for the United States Congress, providing policy and legal analysis to committees and Members of both the House and Senate, regardless of party affiliation.  As a legislative branch agency within the Library of Congress, the CRS has been a valued and respected resource on Capitol Hill for nearly a century.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

So wrong on so many levels...

Obama Administration Commits $320 Million for Bankrupt Detroit

With $320 million of federal, state and private aid in hand, top White House officials came to Detroit and vowed to help the bankrupt city fight crime, improve mass transport and eradicate blight.

The money is mostly grants from federal or state programs for which the city is qualified, or for which it needed red tape cut to speed access. Some is expected from private businesses and philanthropy groups. President Barack Obama also has appointed Don Graves deputy assistant secretary of the U.S. Treasury Department, to oversee Detroit’s recovery, said Gene Sperling, director of the National Economic Council.

“We only have one goal, and that is to have all of Detroit working together for one Detroit, with the Obama administration as a key partner,” Sperling said today.

The city, once an auto-manufacturing powerhouse, declared the largest U.S. municipal bankruptcy in history on July 18 after years of decline in which its population fell by more than half, to 700,000 from 1.8 million. The city has more than $18 billion in long-term obligations and is plagued by unreliable buses, broken street lights and long waits for police and ambulances.

Sperling led a delegation that included Attorney General Eric Holder, Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan and Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. They met for more than two hours privately with about 70 city and state officials, as well as community leaders who included Mayor Dave Bing, a Democrat; emergency manager Kevyn Orr and Republican Governor Rick Snyder, who appointed Orr in March.

Civic Singularity

Asked at a press conference why it took so long for the federal government to intervene in a city that has declined for decades, Sperling replied, “With bankruptcy, this is an exceptional thing that requires exceptional effort.”

The actions underscore the fine line the administration and state officials must walk, tapping existing programs and unused or underutilized funds, while not asking Congress for federal dollars. Top lawmakers and administration officials have said there is no pathway for a federal bailout of the city.

Donovan said it doesn’t matter whether the aid to Detroit is considered new or redirected money.

“A family living next to a blighted house, they don’t care whether it’s new money or old money they never would have seen,” Donovan said. “It’s money that will make a difference in their view.”

Heavy Lift

Sperling said another meeting is planned this year to discuss education and job training.

“We don’t expect this to be easy, but we expect this to be successful,” he said

Bing said Detroiters will see positive change in two or three years.

Some city debt rallied today. General-obligation bonds maturing in April 2028 traded at about 94 cents on the dollar, the highest since July 18, when the city filed for bankruptcy. The yield on the securities, backed by Assured Guaranty Corp., is 2.23 percentage points more than top-rated bonds, the smallest gap since July 15.

The White House will commit $150 million for demolition of blighted properties and neighborhood redevelopment, in federal and other funds.

Empty City

Grants of $65 million and $25.4 million from public and private sources will be used to tear down and refurbish buildings. Detroit has almost 70,000 empty and abandoned homes and 80,000 empty lots, amounting to 20 square miles of vacant land, about the size of Manhattan, according to a Detroit Future City report.

The demolition money is welcome, though with a typical cost of $10,000 to tear down each forsaken structure, much more is needed, said John George, founder of Motor City Blight Busters Inc. His group is working to secure and remove empty structures primarily on the northwest side.

“We’ll take what we can get,” George said in an interview. “Blight is like a cancer: If you don’t nip it in the bud, it spreads and kills everything. You’ve got to start chemotherapy, if you will, especially in the neighborhoods.”

The Obama administration also announced $3 million from the Justice Department for additional police officers, establishing a bike patrol and supporting youth anti-violence programs. The Federal Emergency Management Agency will expedite access to $25 million to hire 150 firefighters and to buy equipment.

First Step

Police take an average of 58 minutes to respond to priority calls, compared with a national average of 11 minutes, Orr said in a June report. The department’s roster has shrunk by 40 percent since 2003, he said.

“The only way to rebuild the city is to provide a safe environment for residents and businesses,” said Mark Diaz, president of the Detroit Police Officers Association. “We need a lot of work. It’s going to take more than one gesture, but we’re excited about the recognition by the White House.”

The Obama administration will deploy almost $140 million in transit funding, by ensuring access to more than $100 million in Transportation Department grants, including $24 million for bus repairs and security cameras, according to the announcement. Another $25 million in grants will be made available to help a streetcar project.

“These are funds that are greatly appreciated,” said Megan Owens, executive director of Transit Riders United, a Detroit-based nonprofit organization. Typically, one of every six buses is off the road for repairs, Owens said.

“It results in extremely overcrowded buses, people left at bus stops,” she said. “In recent months it feels like it’s getting worse.”

Night Watch

India-Jammu and Kashmir State: Twelve persons, including a Lieutenant Colonel, died in two militant attacks on police and Army formations in two southern districts of Jammu and Kashmir on Thursday.

Deputy Inspector General of Police, Jammu-Kathua range, Shakeel Beg told the press that four men of the J&K police, three Army personnel, including the second-in-command of 16 Cavalry Regiment, and two civilians were killed. Security forces killed the three militants in gunfights. Four helicopters and some tanks were for the first time used in the manhunt.

Indian press reported that the three unidentified militants in combat military uniforms are believed to have infiltrated from Pakistan across through the international border into the Hiranagar area on Tuesday north of Jammu city. The two gunfights happened close to the international border between India and Pakistan.

Comment: One news service reported that only two suicide attacks have occurred in the Jammu area in the past ten years. One in 2008 killed four people. The second in 2002 killed 32 people and is considered one of the most serious attacks on record in the state.

Indian analysts judge that the two attacks were aimed at disrupting the peace process between India and Pakistan. What is distinctive about the attacks is that the attackers infiltrated across the international border, far south of the normal operating areas along the Line of Control to take advantage of the laxer security conditions.

The attackers also managed to get through the extensive and in-depth fences that India has built along the border. They had to have had assistance on both sides of the international border to infiltrate undetected This attack will reinforce hardline Indian nationalists in their conviction that the Pakistanis cannot be trusted to control their side of the border.

Kenya: Update. Al-Shabaab gunmen attacked a Kenyan police compound near the Somali border and a market in the southern Kenyan town of Wajir, leaving 3 dead and 7 wounded.

Comment: Kenya analysts report that cross border attacks are common. This received attention mainly because it occurred so soon after the mall attack in Nairobi. Both shooting incidents were drive by primitive attacks.

Sudan: At least 29 people have been killed in three days of rioting in Khartoum, Omdurman and other towns. Sudan's access to the internet was almost completely cut off. Cars, shops, gas stations and banks were burned. The government called out army units to restore order on Thursday.

The rioting began on Sunday when the government began to implement its decision to end fuel subsidies as part of its austerity program. A near immediate doubling of fuel prices has led to higher prices of flour, cooking oil and food.

The riots quickly turned political, resulting in calls for the ouster of President Omar al-Bashir.

Comment: The progression from rioting over economic grievances to political challenges follows the pattern of all the states that experienced the so-called Arab spring. Riots almost always follow the lifting of subsidies. Governments that pursue austerity measures without careful planning tend to bring themselves down.

Bashir is not vulnerable to overthrow at this point. The main reasons are that the security forces remain responsive and the rioters only challenge civil order, not political authority. But that can change under severe economic stress.

Libya: Libya's south-western region, called Fezzan, has declared itself an autonomous federal province.

Nouri Mohammad al-Qouizi was named as the president of the province, according to Libyan media reports. Local tribal leaders said a military chief would later be appointed to protect the region's borders and its natural resources.

The tribal leaders said they took the decision because of the "weak performance of the General National Congress and the lack of response to the demands of the Libyan people in Fezzan."

Comment: This is the second region of Libya to declare itself an autonomous federal province. Cyrenaica, whose capital is Benghazi, did it last month. The declarations make the northwest region, known as Tripolitania, de facto an autonomous province.

Libya has fragmented, similar to but not quite as finally as Somalia. Fragmentation increases the risk that lslamic militants will be able to establish bases because large regions will be ungoverned.

End of NightWatch ###

US President Barack Obama's rapidly changing positions on Syria have produced many odd spectacles.

One of odder ones was the sight of hundreds of lobbyists from the American Israel Public Affairs Committee fanning out on Capitol Hill to lobby members of the House and Senate to support Obama's plan to launch what Secretary of State John Kerry called "unbelievably small" air strikes against empty regime controlled buildings in Syria.

AIPAC officials claimed they were doing this because the air strikes would help Israel.

But this claim was easily undone. Obama and Kerry insisted nothing the US would do would have any impact on the outcome of the Syrian civil war. This was supposed to be the strikes' selling point.

But by launching worthless strikes, Obama was poised to wreck America's deterrent posture, transforming the world's superpower into an international joke.

In harming America's deterrent capabilities by speaking loudly and carrying an "unbelievably small" stick, Kerry and Obama also harmed Israel's deterrent posture.

Israel's deterrence relies in no small measure on its strategic alliance with the US.

Once the US is no longer feared, a key part of Israeli deterrence is removed.

Obama did not announce his intention to bomb empty buildings in Syria in order to impact the deterrent posture of either the US or Israel. He probably gave them little thought. The only one who stood to gain from those strikes - aside from Syrian President Bashar Assad who would earn bragging rights for standing down the US military - was Obama himself.

Obama wanted to launch the unbelievably small strikes to prove that he wasn't lying when he said that Syria would cross a red line if it used chemical weapons.

So if the strikes were going to harm the US and Israel, why did AIPAC dispatch its lobbyists to Capitol Hill to lobby in favor of them?

Because Obama made them.

Obama ordered AIPAC to go to Capitol Hill to lobby for the Syria strikes. He did so knowing that its involvement would weaken public support for AIPAC and Israel. Both would be widely perceived as pushing the US to send military forces into harm's way to defend Israel.

Then, with hundreds of AIPAC lobbyist racing from one Congressional office to the next, Obama left them in a lurch. He announced he was cutting a deal with Russia and had decided not to attack Syria after all.

What did AIPAC get for its self-defeating efforts on Obama's behalf?

Obama is now courting Iranian President Hassan Rouhani in the hopes of making a deal that Iran will use as cover for completing its nuclear weapons program. Such a deal may well involve ending sanctions on Iran's oil exports and its central bank - sanctions that AIPAC expended years of effort getting Congress to pass.

And that's not all. Monday, as Obama meets with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu at the UN General Assembly in New York, Vice President Joe Biden will become the highest ranking administration official to date to address the J Street conference.

J Street was formed in order to weaken AIPAC, and force it to the left. Sending Biden to headline at the J Street conference is an act of aggression against AIPAC. It also signals that Obama remains committed to strengthening the anti-Israel voices at the margins of the American Jewish community at the expense of the pro- Israel majority.

The question is why is AIPAC cooperating with Obama as he abuses it? Why didn't they just say no?

Because they couldn't.

AIPAC is not strong enough to stand up to the president of the United States, particularly one as hostile as Obama.

Not only would it have suffered direct retaliation for its refusal, Obama would have also punished Israel for its friend's recalcitrance.

In a recent interview with The Times of Israel, Eitan Haber, late prime minister Yitzhak Rabin's closest aide, made the case that Israel is powerless in the face of White House pressure. Haber claimed that only when a person becomes prime minister does he understand "to what extent the State of Israel is dependent on America. For absolutely everything... we are dependent on America."

Haber noted that the US can collapse every aspect of Israel. From this he concluded that no Israeli leader can stand up to Washington.

Haber recalled a menacing conversation Rabin had with then-US secretary of state James Baker during which Baker became angry at Rabin.

"America is right even when it is wrong," Baker admonished the Israeli leader.

Haber warned that Israel cannot stand up to the US even when the US is behaving in a manner that endangers Israel. "It's possible that they don't understand the region and that they are naïve and stupid," he said, "But they are America."

Haber was right that that the White House can destroy Israel's economy, defenses and diplomatic position any time it wishes. In the past administration threats of economic sanctions or delays in sending spare parts for weapons platforms have been sufficient to make Israeli leaders fall into line.

For the past five and a half years Obama has dangled US diplomatic support at the UN Security Council over Israel's head like the Sword of Damocles.

Obama forced Netanyahu to make concession after concession to secure his veto of the PLO's request that the UN Security Council accept "Palestine" as a member state two years ago. Netanyahu's sudden support for Palestinian statehood and his 10- month long freeze on Jewish property rights in Judea and Samaria were the most public concessions he was forced to cough up.

The timing of the EU announcement that it was barring EU entities from forging ties with Israelis that operate beyond the 1949 armistice lines was revealing in this context. The EU announced its economic sanctions the day Kerry announced the start of negotiations between Israel and the PLO.

The message to Israel was absolutely clear: Do what we order you to or you will face economic sanctions far more damaging.