The big ego at AIPAC
Striding to the podium inside the Washington Convention Centre, President Barack Obama did his very best to avoid any sense that he felt intimidated by entering what was, in political terms, the lion's den. There was tepid applause and a couple of isolated boos from the crowd of almost 10,000 members of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, better known as Aipac, the premier and most hardline mainstream group in the powerful pro-Israel lobby in the United States.
Rather than even acknowledge the artlessness of his 1967 comments, or the fact that he had not prepared the Israeli Government for what he was about to say, his tone was of the "I'm sorry you feel that way" variety of non-apology.
In the Oval Office on Friday, Mr Obama did little to disguise his irritation with Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli premier, for turning to him to deliver an impassioned tutorial on Israel's history in the full glare of the cameras.
"It's the ancient nation of Israel," the Likud leader told Mr Obama. "We've been around for almost 4,000 years. We have experienced struggle and suffering like no other people. We've gone through expulsions and pogroms and massacres and the murder of millions."
It was an unprecedented rebuke of an American president by an Israeli premier. Menachem Begin is said to have delivered similar monologues to President Jimmy Carter, but never in public.
Even 48 hours later, it was clear at the Aipac conference that Mr Obama, who is remarkably thin-skinned for a top-flight American politician and has never been lacking in self-regard, was still smarting. When loud applause greeted Mr Obama's mention of Mr Netanyahu's name, the president's eyes narrowed and he chewed his lip. He was distinctly unamused.
He did, however, spell out what he had failed to do in his Foggy Bottom speech. He said that a settlement would result in "a border that is different than the one that existed on June 4, 1967", the eve of the Six-Day War in which Israel pushed back the forces of Egypt, Syria and Jordan and occupied the West Bank and Gaza.
But it was notable that Mr Obama neglected to reject, just as he had at Foggy Bottom, the Palestinian demand for a "right of return".
In this environment, the prospect of serious peace negotiations is as dim as ever, but Mr Obama appeared to feel that his own personality, political skills and success against the al-Qaeda leader would be enough to resolve what President Harry Truman once described as "the 100-year headache".
Most Americans view Israel as an ally that should be backed to the hilt. If the perception sticks that Mr Obama is prepared to undermine Israeli security, it could be very damaging.
In 2008, 78 per cent of Jewish voters chose Mr Obama over Senator John McCain. That level of support could well ebb between now and 2012. More seriously, there are signs that donations from wealthy Jews, which played a key role in Mr Obama's stratospheric fundraising totals in 2008, will fall off.
Ed Koch, the former New York mayor and a prominent Democrat and Obama donor in 2008, condemned the President for having "sought to reduce Israel's negotiation power", echoing what many other prominent Jewish Democrats have said.
Spain's ruling Socialist party reeling from the outcome of local elections
The Socialists spent all the people's money on "renewable" energy and "Green jobs" -- with the inevitable economic calamity following. Spain was relatively well-managed under Aznar's conservatives
SPAIN'S ruling Socialists reeled from spectacular local election losses yesterday as protesters vented outrage over the highest jobless rate in the industrialised world.
Support for the government collapsed in the face of the beleaguered economy, soaring unemployment and massive street protests, a grim omen for 2012 general elections.
With 98.21 per cent of the municipal ballots counted, the Socialists had just 27.81 per cent of the total vote compared to 37.58 per cent for their conservative Popular Party opponents.
"The results of the vote show that the Socialist Party has clearly lost today's elections. We have suffered a broad setback compared to four years ago," Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero said.
Grinding in the humiliation, Socialists lost historic bastions Seville and Barcelona, a city they had run since the first municipal vote in 1979, four years after the death of General Francisco Franco.
About 65 per cent of the 34 million eligible voters cast a ballot to choose 8,116 mayors, 68,400 town councillors and 824 members of regional parliaments for 13 of the 17 semi-autonomous regions.
The big winner of the night was the opposition leader Mariano Rajoy's Popular Party, widely forecast to sweep into government next year for the first time in eight years. Crowds of cheering supporters waving blue Popular Party flags rallied outside the party headquarters in central Madrid to celebrate the victory, built on widespread anger over the economy.
Even as the economy grew gingerly this year, the unemployment rate shot to 21.19 percent in the first quarter, the highest in the industrialised world. For under-25s, the rate in February was 44.6 percent.
Despite Mr Zapatero's promise not to stand in the next general elections due next year, partial ballot counts suggested other big losses. In regional elections, the Popular Party was poised to snatch the central region of Castilla-La Mancha, another Socialist stronghold.
Mob of Black Thieves "Swarms" Las Vegas Convenience Store
High speed attacks by black gangs also occur amid crowds in Britain -- where it is referred to as "steaming"
Caught on camera, a mob of young people bombarded the City Stop convenience store on Sunset Road and Pecos Road and stole $600 in merchandise.
"It became a feeding frenzy," said City Stop owner Jon Athey. "They were in the store for three minutes and 30 seconds. It's a pretty scary thing."
Athey says the crowd darted in and snatched numerous items from the store. "Beer to jerky to candy bars to soda, whatever hit their fancy. potato chips," he said. Athey says this tactic is known as a "swarm". After 42 years in the convenience store business, Athey says this crime stands out. "This is the biggest one I've ever seen," he said.
If you walk into a convenience store, you expect every move to be recorded on camera. Surveillance cameras in every direction, however, didn't stop this crew.
"Now, you're seeing droves swarming in the front doors - right here - as fast as they can come in," Athey said as he watched the surveillance video. "You can see them milling around by the beer doors. Now, you're going to see them start selecting products they're putting in their coat pockets. They're putting it down their pants."
The crowd started walking out without paying, only to return. "Here it is, two minutes into the deal. They're all coming back for seconds," Athey said.
Seconds later, they grabbed more beer and the clerk's cell phone. They then rushed back out the door.
"We were blessed nobody was hurt," Athey said. Athey says the clerk followed his training. He hopes this crowd doesn't try to swarm another store. "You can't allow this to happen, because it's going to break out into violence. Some cashier is going to decide that he's got to defend the property, and he'll get hurt," he said.
Metro says this crime is being investigated as a burglary and grand larceny. Investigators are taking a close look at the surveillance video. Some customers may have also recorded the thieves' license plate numbers.
SOURCE. (Video at link)
Gingrich and 'the party of food stamps'
by Jeff Jacoby
RACIAL MCCARTHYISM is alive and well in Barack Obama's America, where reckless liberals hurl baseless charges of racism at critics of the nation's first black president. Remember ex-president Jimmy Carter attributing "an overwhelming portion" of the fervent opposition to Obama's health-care bill to "the fact that he is a black man"? Or actress/activist
Janeane Garofalo smearing the Tea Party phenomenon as being "about hating a black man in the White House . . . racism straight up"? Or for that matter Obama himself, predicting that Republicans would demonize him because "he doesn't look like all those other presidents on the dollar bills"?
Last week it was David Gregory's turn to play the race card. The host of NBC's "Meet the Press" accused Newt Gingrich of having used "coded, racially-tinged language" when he described Obama as a "food-stamp president" a few days earlier.
Actually Gingrich hadn't made anything like a racially-tinged remark, coded or otherwise. He had simply given his stump speech to a Republican audience in Georgia, during which he criticized Obama's limp economic record in these words:
"Do you want to be a country that creates food stamps -- in which case, frankly, Obama is an enormous success, the most successful food stamp president in American history? Or do you want to be a country that creates paychecks?"
Gregory played a video clip of that passage from Gingrich's speech, then demanded that the former speaker explain its supposed racial subtext. Gingrich couldn't believe Gregory was serious -- "Oh, come on, David! That's bizarre, this kind of automatic reference to racism." He pointed out that what he had said "is factually true: 47 million Americans are on food stamps. One out of every six Americans is on food stamps. And to hide behind the charge of racism!?"
You have to be tuned to a remarkably subtle frequency to detect any hint of racial animus in Gingrich's comment -- the same frequency, perhaps, at which adjectives like "skinny," "arrogant," and "articulate" turn into racist epithets. To be sure, Gingrich himself has sometimes played fast and loose with racial pejoratives; when Sonia Sotomayor was nominated to the Supreme Court, for example, he took to Twitter to tag her a racist. But he's innocent this time.
The more-food-stamps-vs.-more-paychecks theme is one that Gingrich has been pushing for nearly a year. In memos last summer and fall, he urged Republican congressional candidates to point out that the use of food stamps -- "a key metric in gauging the health of the American economy" -- was going through the roof. When Congress was controlled by Republicans in the 1990s, he wrote, unemployment and food stamp usage plummeted. By contrast, "the Pelosi-Reid Democratic Congress" had led to rising joblessness and food-stamp rolls. The statistics he laid out had nothing to do with the president's color -- he hardly mentioned Obama -- and everything to do with drawing a contrast between "the Democratic Party of food stamps" and "the Republican Party of paychecks."
Now Gingrich is running for president, so he has adapted his food-stamp argument accordingly. His target is the Democrat in White House, not Nancy Pelosi's House Democrats. But the underlying message is no more racial today than it was last August. It's the Democratic and Republican attitudes toward welfare vs. work that Gingrich is spotlighting. Not Obama's race.
There is no getting around the fact that food-stamp use is at an all-time high. In February, the most recent month for which federal data is available, 44.2 million people -- one American in seven -- were on food stamps. (Gingrich slightly misstated the numbers on "Meet the Press.") On Obama's watch, the number of recipients has soared by more than 12 million, setting a new high every month.
But they soared on George W. Bush's watch as well. The number of food-stamp users went up in seven of the eight Bush years, climbing from 17.3 million in 2001 to 28.2 million in 2008 -- a 63 percent leap. Indeed, the Bush administration led a campaign to dramatically expand and destigmatize the use of food stamps, a campaign that began before the recession did. If Obama has been "the most successful food stamp president in American history," it is only by continuing what his predecessor began.
The Bush record, in other words, dramatically contradicts Gingrich's message about Democrats being the party of food stamps. "Meet the Press" would have been a great venue to ask about that contradiction. Why did David Gregory opt instead to pursue a bogus racial "gotcha?"
Stimulus wiped out a million private sector jobs: "The economy may be slowly recovering, but that's in spite of - not because of - the recent orgy of federal spending. Two economics professors, Tim Conley and Bill Dupor, concluded this month that the $800 billion stimulus package wiped out a million private-sector jobs, destroying a net 550,000 jobs"
The dangers and opportunities of social proof: "The mechanics of social proof, while somewhat complex, are pretty easy to understand. Simplistically, we humans have a strong tendency to glance over at other members of the herd in an attempt to gauge the correct action or reaction to take in any given circumstance. While this tendency can be useful in identifying the right bread plate to use at a fancy dinner party, it can also have devastating consequences."
Actually, we're not all in this together: "Having attended UC-Berkeley in the sixties, I have a certain nostalgia for the wacko hippie leftist crowd. I agreed with them on the Vietnam War back then, and not much else. So I'm always curious as to what today's equivalent, MoveOn.org, is up to. A recent fundraising letter they sent to their members (trust me, I'm not one) included this statement: 'As progressives, we share a core belief that we're all in this together.' It is a small victory, I suppose, that leftists feel compelled to refer to themselves as progressives these days. But MoveOn is certainly correct that the collectivist notion of 'all in this together' is central to the leftist worldview."
There is a new lot of postings by Chris Brand just up -- on his usual vastly "incorrect" themes of race, genes, IQ etc.
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The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialist) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party" (In German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)