Monday, September 30, 2013

Forum: Will There Be A Federal Government shut down,And Do You Approve Or Disapprove?

Every week on Monday morning , the Council and our invited guests weigh in at the Watcher's Forum, short takes on a major issue of the day. This week's question:Will There Be A Federal Government shut down,And Do You Approve Or Disapprove?

 The Razor:I used to get worked up about these things, but they’ve happened so many times and become such a Washington DC insider sport that I’ve lost interest. I neither know nor care whether the federal government will shut down. As far as I’m concerned the less it functions the better. I hate to sound cynical but seriously, how many times have we gone through this?

 The Independent Sentinel:I do believe there will be a shutdown and I also believe the media will successfully put the blame on Republicans. As much as I don't want a shutdown or see Republicans blamed, I believe it is the right thing to do. The Republicans are trying to do the right thing. They are doing what most of their constituents want, not just the Tea Party as the Democrats would have us believe.

The reason I feel the way I do is because I see Obamacare as irrevocably damaging this country. I listened to Bill O'Reilly the other day talk about how melodramatic people are about Obamacare. This isn't about melodrama, it's about our freedom. Our Founding Fathers didn't sacrifice all that they sacrificed to have us turn around and sell ourselves to the highest bidders in government.

Some of the things Obamacare does:

  • Obamacare gives the government the right to tax the people as much as they want on anything they want. This law should never have been declared constitutional.
  • The Affordable Care Act was supposed to give the people in this country access to affordable healthcare. The CBO says, however, that 30 million will be without healthcare under Obamacare.
  • The CBO also said it was unsustainable. Mr. Obama said that premiums would go down by as much as 3000% but they are skyrocketing in some cases.
  • Mr. Obama assures us there will be subsidies, but who pays these subsidies? Roughly, 41% of the country will pay for the other 59%. If that's his idea of justice, I want no part of it.
  • Worst of all, we are losing the 40-hour work week. My guess is that Obama will make some concessions to unions and this could be one of them, but then who pays for that? Someone has to pay for this free healthcare.
  • Many believe that healthcare should not be profit making. However, instead of the insurance companies profiting, the government will profit. We can't sue the government - there will be no judicial recourse. There is also the problem of doctors profiting. If they don't make a profit, we will see the end of private practice and we will only get our health services through clinics and hospitals. The service will be lacking and the lines will be long.
  • Obamacare will ruin our healthcare system.
  • Obamacare isn't ready for prime time and a lot of people will be hurt by it.
  • People who are opposed to paying for abortions will be forced to pay for them. That is unconscionable.
  • Kathleen Sebelius gets to decide who lives and who dies. What was that she said - some live, some die?
  • An IPAB comprised of non-medical, unelected bureaucrats will operate as a rogue government and decide the fate of the elderly and handicapped by limiting payments to doctors and hospitals. The IPAB operates independent of Congress and only the Executive controls it. IPAB can probably levy taxes. That is too much power in the hands of one branch of government.
  • Our healthcare records will not be secure and we could easily be subject to tyranny of government agencies and rogue employees.
  • The bill is almost 20,000 pages. That can't be good.
  • Obamacare is about the government taking over 18% of the economy.
Every doctor I know thinks this is an awful bill. It was written in secret by special interests. There is a lot of money and influence involved. We are giving our health over to a small number of elite.

We will eventually be stuck with a single payer system and most freedom-loving Americans don't see that as a good thing. The non-profit co-ops subsidized by the government and the many demands placed on insurance companies will force them out of business.

The White House is rewriting this bill, not Congress. They have amended it 19 times without going through Congress.

If this bill goes through as is, we won't be the country we were.

The Republicans finally look like the party of Lincoln. It wasn't easy for him and his party then and this won't be easy now.

GrEaT sAtAn"S gIrLfRiEnD: Shut it down. Keep the Gov out of our hair for a while. Besides, they can't harm us while they're out of biz.

 JoshuaPundit: I think the chances of a shutdown are 65-35 that it will happen. I see it, overall, as a positive thing.

For five years, we've been governed by a dysfunctional, arrogant  demagogue and his enablers engaged in  the looting of the treasury to reward their political cronies, Chicago-style. It's the height of irony to see a president and his allies who wasted a trillion taxpayer dollars on a bogus 'stimulus' that did nothing but enrich their political cronies, who have made an art out of 'digitizing' money that doesn't exist now raging about 'political terrorists' and fiscal responsibility merely because someone finally said no, we're not going to raise the amount of your credit line again unless we can negotiate over some things we want to happen.

This president has a long history of governing by diktat and executive order, including his de facto imposition of the Dream Act congress rejected three times and modifications to ObamaCare (the name 'Affordable Care Act' is an unintended joke on the country). Both of these acts are illegal under U.S. law along with other actions by this president.

I'd remind everyone exactly why ObamaCare is the train wreck it is - because this president, Majority Leader Harry Reid and Speaker Pelosi shoved it through with Republicans literally locked out of the room and without the normal negotiations and deliberations with the Senate. They did it  because Republican Scott Brown won a special election in Massachusetts and would have been a vote not to end debate, holding ObamaCare up indefinitely. So they pushed the bill through with even reading it Now they, or rather the American people are stuck with this mess.  President Obama and the Democrats own it.

So all in all, it's high time an attempt was made to have this president  do something he's consistently refused to do - negotiate with  Republicans. Whether the House Republican leadership will hold steady is, of course, another matter. If they don't, if they cave,  I doubt the GOP will survive as a party.
The Glittering Eye:Yes, the federal government will shut down. Default is also possible. No, I do not approve of it. I think it's an abrogation of responsibility on the part of our elected leaders and there's plenty of blame to spread around. Refusing to fund the PPACA was like waving a red flag in front of a bull. Whatever Congressional Republicans' views of the program, shutting down the federal government to poke a thumb in the eye of the Senate Democrats and the president is just irresponsible.

However, the Senate Democrats are irresponsible, too, in refusing to deal with the legislation passed by the House and the president has been decidedly unhelpful by refusing outright to negotiate with House Republicans. Sometimes I fear for the republic.

Bookworm Room: No, there won't be a government shutdown, because Republicans always blink. And without regard to the shutdown, I disapprove of Republican's blinking problem. As for the shutdown itself, I think it would be a useful exercise for all Americans to see what happens if the federal government is reduced to its essential services. It will shake people up, one way or another.

I was reminded of a mini-government shutdown just today when I found myself at San Francisco's beautiful Marina and Chrissy Fields. Looking out at the Bay and at Alcatraz, I was truly saddened when I thought that the sequester means that, for the first time in 25 or so years, there won't be a Fleet Week event in San Francisco. When the sequester hit, the Pentagon didn't trim waste (and there's lots of waste in our wonderful military). Instead, it immediately punished the American people. The Pentagon is, after all, first and foremost a bureaucracy. The loss isn't just emotional, it's financial. Fleet Week is a very profitable weekend for the towns that host it. In addition to sailors and Marines, Fleet Week brings in about 100,000 tourists and their money. Nevertheless, the important thing to remember is that, in the grand scheme of things, life goes on. A government service was cut and it's no biggie.

Well, there you have it.

Make sure to tune in every Monday for the Watcher’s Forum. And remember, every Wednesday, the Council has its weekly contest with the members nominating two posts each, one written by themselves and one written by someone from outside the group for consideration by the whole Council. The votes are cast by the Council, and the results are posted on Friday morning.

It’s a weekly magazine of some of the best stuff written in the blogosphere, and you won’t want to miss it.

And don’t forget to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter..’cause we’re cool like that, y'know?

Friday, September 27, 2013

The Latest Leftist Idiocy - Allen West , 'Anti-Semite' !?!

When you write on a site like this, and you look at news coverage regularly and with even a pretense of objectivity, one thing becomes clear pretty quickly. Unless it' simply too outright in-your-face blatant to be ignored (and many times, even if it is), political or media figures on the Left can get caught mouthing outright stupidity, lying openly, stealing, committing fraud, serially abusing women, engaging in racism or numerous other types of disreputable behavior and get a pass provided they're down for the Leftist agenda. At worst, when it can't be ignored or spun, it gets buried pretty quickly.

On the other hand, when it comes to folks on the right of the spectrum, anyone the Left perceives as a political enemy, even the slightest hint of a misdeed makes headlines for weeks. And if there's isn't really anything there, the Left will cheerfully make it up and trumpet it anyway. That's especially true when the target is articulate and seems to be gaining some traction. The examples of this are too numerous even to mention.

I happened to run across this item from the Soros-funded galley slaves over at BuzzFeed..just look at this headline:

"Allen West Out At PJ Media! Sources say he had an anti-Semitic exchange with a staffer, calling her a “Jewish American princess.”

Gasp!!! Horrors!!

Ordinarily I would just laugh, shake my head and move on. The idea of Colonel West being a Jew hater is so hysterically funny that it could almost pass for an Onion headline.

But then, checking my spam file, I find a number of comments from Leftist trolls. like this one:

So it looks as though Allen West got caught calling a woman a 'Jewish American princess'. What a dilemma for Rob! Does his love for the moron West trump his pretend outrage over anti-Semitic slurs? I have my money on West - he himself would probably tell you that Jews have no principles... Ha!

Yes, believe it or not, we have an anonymous Jew haters accusing someone else of being a Jew hater! Talk about projection.I found about five of them in my spam pile, all as comments for different articles and all sounding suspiciously alike.

In the first place, knowing that in fact Colonel West is about as anti-semitic as I am, the idea that this is a 'dilemma' is pretty comical:

He was speaking an event commemorating the first full year of weekly rallies in support of Israel held at Broward Boulevard and Northeast Third Avenue in Fort Lauderdale, Florida...where Colonel West put his body on the line, actually confronting Hamas groupies personally for what he believes in - again.

BTW, the pro-Hamas rally he mentioned featured Arabs and Hamas groupies screaming 'Jews to the gas!' and made news all over the blogosphere.

This hero is who a bunch of Leftist trolls and media sycophants are calling 'anti-semite'.

So according to the Soros slaves at BuzzFeed, what actually went down? When you actually read the turgid nonsense beneath the lurid headlines, what's there's an internal memo BuzzFeed got hold off that states that he wasn't actually fired from PJ Media, but merely changed jobs to something less time consuming in order to focus on getting back into Congress. Which makes a lot of sense, when you consider it.

The stuff about West being 'fired' because of an altercation between West and a staff member whom he may or may not have called a “Jewish American princess” came from an anonymous sources or maybe from a particularly good marijuana spliff the writer was smoking. All the media savvy West said when BuzzFeed called him for a comment is that there was an altercation and that he was in the process of transferring jobs at PJ Media anyway to focus on politics.

I know Aubrey and Joyce Chernik slightly, who are involved in funding PJ Media (both wonderful people, proud Jews and committed pro-Israel Zionists), and I was thinking about e-mailing Joyce to see if there was anything at all to this. Lo and behold, before I got the chance there was an e-mail from Joyce in my inbox letting me know something I already was sure of, that this was absolute BS.

And what if there was an altercation? Things like that happen at companies all the time when people lock horns. So what? And the “Jewish American princess” nonsense? Again, if it even happened, so what? The species exists among Jews, I assure you, just as it does in most ethnic groups.

Al Sharpton can call Jews 'diamond merchants' , consort with known anti-semites and incite a pogrom where Jews are murdered, and no one in the media would refer to him as the anti-semite he is. Obama UN Ambassador Samantha Power could smirk when she called for a cutoff of all ties to Israel, and an invasion by U.S. forces to ethnically cleanse Jews from their homes in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria even though it would 'upset a politically influential domestic constituency.'
No one in the media referred to that as Jew hatred, even, amazingly, some Jews of the J-Street persuasion.

But I guarantee you that Col. Allen West will be slagged with the 'anti-semite' label whenever he runs for office in the future.

This is an excellent example of how the Left and their allies in the media use bogus narratives as propaganda.

As for Colonel West, he's faced far worse than anything these creeps can dish out and come up on top, smiling. It took blatant redistricting, $5 million of George Soros money and serial voter fraud to get him out of Congress last time, and even then he only lost by 1,904-vote, or 0.58 percent, just outside the 0.5 percent threshold to automatically trigger a recount of all votes.

But he learned something. And the next time, he'll be a lot more formidable.

The Council Has Spoken!! This Weeks' Watcher's Council Results


The Council has spoken, the votes have been cast, and we have the results for this week's Watcher's Council match up.

"You can't hit what you can't see" - Hall of Famer Walter Johnson

"Do not say the Dark Lord's name!" - Professor Snape, in 'Harry Potter and The Order of the Phoenix" by J.K. Rowling

This week's winner, The Right Planet's Defining the Enemy — Islamic Terror   is an excellent look at what happens when people, for whatever reason, are victims of what psychiatrists call 'category error', the inability to solve problems because of the difficulty in properly defining or naming them.  Here's a slice:

Fight them; Allah will torture them by your hands and will disgrace them and give you victory over them and satisfy the chests of a believing people. He will remove the rage from their hearts. Allah turns to anyone he wills. Allah is all-knowing, all-wise. (Qur’an 9:14).

You know, I’m getting sick and tired listening to leaders from both sides of the political spectrum try and blow sunshine up our collective posteriors when it comes to Islamic terrorism. Just as I have predicted all along, there’s not going to be any “moderate” Free Syrian Army. For all the radical leftists out there who have deluded their minds into believing Zuccotti-style democracy is going to take hold in places like Libya, Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen and Syria … well, they need to extricate themselves from the very murky, dark place in which they find themselves so firmly and perpetually ensconced.


Churchill’s words are about as politically incorrect as you could can get these days. That’s why the truth they contain hits hard. Islam is a theo-political movement of conquest, period. It always has been, and always will be, “until the faith of Islam ceases to be a great power among men.”

Churchill’s words are about as politically incorrect as you could can get these days. That’s why the truth they contain hits hard. Islam is a theo-political movement of conquest, period. It always has been, and always will be, “until the faith of Islam ceases to be a great power among men.”

And herein lies the problem, in my opinion: the whole notion of a “war on terror” misses the mark. What we are talking about is a “war on Islamic terrorism.” If one cannot define the enemy, then one does not know thine enemy. If one does not know thine enemy, then one cannot defeat the enemy.

I realize there are Muslims who could be described as “moderate” or “peaceful.” But, quite frankly, their silence is deafening regarding the astonishing brutality exhibited by terrorist organizations like al-Qaeda, al-Nusra, Boko Harem, al-Shabab, Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas, Hezbollah, Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS), Lions of Tahwid, and plethora of like-minded Islamic terrorist groups waging “jihad against the infidel” across the globe today.

It’s not that terrorist groups like al-Qaeda et al. have hijacked the religion of Islam–quite the opposite. Islamic terrorists see themselves as true fundamentalists who are faithfully carrying out the commands Allah and his prophet–specifically, to wage war against the unbelievers–the infidels. There is no greater accomplishment, according to the Koran, than to die the death of a martyr in jihad against the infidel. When Osama Bin Laden said that Americans love life while Muslims love death, it is in reference to the Koran’s promise of paradise for the martyr.

More at the link.

In our non-Council category, the winner was Victor Davis Hanson with  Our Truest Lies  submitted by Joshuapundit. It's a trenchant examination of what can best be called 'progressive legends and myths'. Do read it.

OK, here are this week’s full results. Both The Mellow Jihadi and Rhymes With Right were unable to vote this week, but neither was subject to the usual 2/3 vote penalty:

Council Winners

Non-Council Winners

See you next week! Don't forget to tune in on Monday AM for this week's Watcher's Forum, as the Council and their invited special guests take apart one of the provocative issues of the day with short takes and weigh in...don't you dare miss it. And don't forget to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.....'cause we're cool like that!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

The Latest From The Religion Of Peace In Nigeria: 161 Christians Dead

The latest atrocity from the Islamist Nigerian group Boko Haram was an attack on Benisheik, a predominantly Christian town in Borno State yesterday.

The jihadis attacked the Maiduguri-Damaturu road leading into the town,dragging people out of their vehicles and killing them, and the bodies are still being found:

Environmental officers yesterday recovered 87 more corpses of travelers killed by suspected Boko Haram gunmen during an attack on Maiduguri-Damaturu road near Benisheik town in Borno State on Tuesday.

This was in addition to 55 bodies earlier picked up on Wednesday, officials of the Borno State Environmental Protection Agency (BOSEPA) told journalists during a visit by Governor Kashim Shettima to the scene of the violence.

Heavily armed insurgents laid siege on Benisheik, Kaga Local Government Area on Tuesday evening, killing people and setting buildings ablaze.

They also blocked the Maiduguri-Damaturu highway, three kilometers away from the town, sorting out and slaughtering dozens of travelers.

Apart from the 142 travelers, also killed in the attack were 2 soldiers, 3 policemen and 14 villagers,bringing the total death toll to 161.

The siege and the assaults on the main road are simple ethnic cleansing in action. Boko Haram wants to create an Islamist state in mostly Muslim North Nigeria, and allowing Christians to live in the area they want for their mini-caliphate doesn't fit the agenda. The jihadis reportedly quizzed their victims before killing them, letting Muslims go and killing only the kuffars, non-believers.

There were Nigerian soldiers who attempted to protect the town from the jihadis, but they were outgunned and soon ran out of ammo:

A soldier who spoke to correspondents in confidence said the insurgents had superior power.

"The terrorists were using anti-aircraft guns while we were using AK47 rifles and some RPGs. They came in droves, driving about 20 pick-up trucks accompanied with two light-armored tankers, all wearing military colors. We had to retreat to our base to reinforce after running out of ammunition," he said.

"However, they followed us down and surrounded our base and began to shell our building. We couldn't stand the heat of their superior fire power. We had to retreat into the village after they killed two of our soldiers and three policemen."

The soldier said after the siege, the insurgents took away an armoured tank and four pick-up vehicles painted in military colours from the base.

Sounds like Boko Haram mayhave gotten their hands on some Libyan arms from Khaddaffi's arsenals, courtesy of President Obama.

With the soldiers in retreat, the townspeople were left to the jihadis and the town was sacked.

State Governor Kashim Shettima, apparently a Muslim urged the residents to stay in Benisheik and not flee the town.

"What happened is barbaric and un-Islamic," he said. He's also promised emergency food supplies and announced the release of N50 million for the rebuilding of over 100 houses and shops burnt in the town.

That isn't convincing the remaining residents, many of whom are evacuating. Apparently they don't agree with Governor Shettima that this is 'un-Islamic'. They expect more of the same.

John Kerry To Sign UN Gun Confiscation Treaty

On the sidelines of today's General Assembly, Secretary of State John Kerry is going to sign a UN 'gun control' treaty which essentially abrogates our Second Amendment and gives the UN sovereignty over what firearms, if any, American may own.

This is being sold as an anti-terrorism and anti-crime measure, just like all such measures are. But it's real purpose is simply to disarm law abiding citizens, since criminals and terrorists will always be able to obtain arms when they need them, either from the black market or from state sponsors of terrorism like Iran.

Senator Jim Inhofe, R-Okla. is one of the most vocal opponents of the treaty. He sent a letter to Kerry declaring it "dead in the water," since the senate already rejected it once and a majority of senators has gone on record against the treaty.

Since it's a virtual certainty that President Obama is unable to get a two-thirds majority in the senate to ratify it (even Democrats in gun friendly states like Vermont, North Dakota, Alaska, Montana, Pennsylvania and West Virginia wouldn't vote for it), why is President Obama having Secretary Kerry sign it?

Simple indeed. First, 2014 is coming up in little over a year, and President Obama wants a signed treaty in case a lot more anti Second Amendment senators get elected. And second, and more likely, this most autocratic and lawless of presidents plans on instituting as many of the provisions of the treaty by executive order as possible, citing the UN and the 'international community as his authority.

That, I'm pretty certain is the ultimate agenda.

UPDATE: It appears that  Tennessee Republican Senator  Bob Corker is on top of something for once. He sees this exactly as I do, and sent the president a letter  warning him about trying to implement this garbage via executive order.

City Government Detroit Style - Force More Businesses To Close Down!

You would think that in a bankrupt city where the population is fleeing and the tax base is imploding, the city government would be doing its best to encourage small businesses and economic activity.

Not in Detroit!

Instead, the city government is doing its very best to harass and shake down small businesses that have managed to survive the deluge, while making it as arcane and difficult for new businesses to open their doors as possible.

I've said this before, but it bears repeating. Detroit wasn't killed by the decline of industry, or an economic downturn. The decline began in the 1970's after five term mayor Coleman Young, a former member of the Communist Party and the National Negro Labor Council, a communist front group Young started with Soviet agent Paul Robeson was elected. Once the self designated 'chief mutha f***er in charge' and a compliant, mostly black and entirely Democrat city council took over, they proceeded to milk the city dry with a combination racial politics, corruption and and unfettered rule by Democrats and the public employee unions. 

Young essentially presiding over the city's decline. By the end of his fifth term, the population of Detroit had shrunk by more than half as middle class taxpayers and businesses fled, the school system became dysfunctional, and taxes skyrocketed along with the crime rate.

When Mayor Young's close friend and political adviser William L. Hart was convicted for stealing $2.6 million from city funds and when other Young cronies in the police department, school boards, sanitation, and other departments took the fall in what the FBI called 'a large circle of corruption surrounding the mayor', a substantial amount of the evidence they used was from wiretaps on Mayor Young's own home telephone.

The only reason he stayed out of jail is because the Carter Justice Department didn't want to indict a popular black Democrat mayor and risk antagonizing a reliable voting bloc.

Young's successors like Kwame Kilpatrick, now a guest of the State of Michigan continued this legacy on steroids, if not the same ability to get away with it.

Here's the politically incorrect truth. You could flood Detroit with public bail out money and pay off all the city's creditors, but in a few years Detroit would be in exactly the same predicament and be howling for more. To 'fix ' Detroit (if it's even possible) you'd have to get rid of the city's dysfunctional governing class and the mindset they bring with them - and probably a lot of the sort of people that have continued to vote for them while the city they live in fell apart around them.

Watcher's Council Nominations - Mr. Cruz Goes To Washington Edition

Welcome to the Watcher's Council, a blogging group consisting of some of the most incisive blogs in the 'sphere, and the longest running group of its kind in existence. Every week, the members nominate two posts each, one written by themselves and one written by someone from outside the group for consideration by the whole Council.Then we vote on the best two posts, with the results appearing on Friday. This week's contest is dedicated to Senator Ted Cruz...for sheer, magnificent courage under fire.

Council News:

This week, Ask Marion, Daphne Anson, The Pirate's Cove and Right Truth took advantage of my generous offer of link whorage and earned honorable mention status with some great articles.

You can, too! Want to see your work appear on the Watcher’s Council homepage in our weekly contest listing? Didn’t get nominated by a Council member? No worries.

Simply head over to Joshuapundit and post the title a link to the piece you want considered along with an e-mail address ( which won't be published) in the comments section no later than Monday 6PM PST in order to be considered for our honorable mention category. Then return the favor  by creating a post on your site linking to the Watcher’s Council contest for the week when it comes out Wednesday morning.

Simple, no?

It's a great way of exposing your best work to Watcher’s Council readers and Council members. while grabbing the increased traffic and notoriety. And how good is that, eh?

So, let's see what we have this week....

Council Submissions

Honorable Mentions

Non-Council Submissions

Enjoy! And don't forget to like us on Facebook and follow us Twitter..'cause we're cool like that!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Israel And The Palestinians: How To Send A Message


Amid all the other news, it's been a bit undereported that Israel was faced with two terrorist attacks at the hands of the Arabs who identify themselves as Palestinians. And they cost the lives of two IDF soldiers.

One of them was 20-year-ol Tomer Hazan,(HY"D) an Air force sergeant and a Bat Yam native, who was murdered by an Arab named Nidal Amar, who lived in the Arab village of Beit Amin, just south of Qalqilya. Amar worked illegally at an Israeli restaurant where Hazan also worked part-time and the two apparently had struck up something of a friendship.Somehow, Amar talked Hazan into getting into a car with him, murdered him and threw his body down a well. Amar later told the Shin Bet after his arrest that he planned to swap Hazan's body for the freedom of his brother, a Tanzim (Fatah) terrorist incarcerated in Israel for murder. The Shin Bet is still investigating, and there are good indications Amar wasn't alone in putting this together.

A number of Israelis protested furiously outside the restaurant, angered that they would hire a  shabahim (illegal Palestinian worker).

The other soldier was Sergeant Gabriel Gal Kobi,(HY"D) a 20-year-old from the Givati Brigade who was murdered by a Palestinian sniper in Hebron while guarding a religious site, the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron Sunday evening.


Fatah’s Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade claimed responsibility for the attack.

The Cave of the Patriarchs, the Me-Harat ha-Machpela, is one of Judaism's most sacred sites, originally purchased by Abraham and the resting place of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Sarah, Rebecca, and Leah, the Jewish patriarchs and matriarchs.

Hebron itself is one of Judaism's four Holy cities, and was largely populated by Jews until 1929, when the Arabs launched a horrific pogrom on Hebron's Jews, butchering women and children while the British authorities essentially stood by and watched.

The Me-Harat ha-Machpela is also the site of a small mosque put up by the Arabs during Saladin's brief sojourn in Palestine, and the Israeli authorities have attempted to share the facilities since 1967, but with poor results, since Islam doesn't share well with others.

Sukkot is a popular time for Jewish pilgrimages to the site. Sergeant Gabriel Gal Kobi's job was to provide security to make sure his fellow Jews could worship in peace. It cost him his life.

Since this took place in the midst of the so-called peace talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, the Israelis were expecting at least a pro forma condemnation of the killings by the PA's unelected dictator Mahmoud Abbas, and were surprised when it wasn't forthcoming.

What happened next is illustrative of a number of things.

Israeli Pm Netanyahu decided to send the PA a message and okayed something that had been on hold for years. He allowed the legal Jewish owners of a large house overlooking the Cave of the Patriarchs to occupy the property:

Hebron Jews can move into a building next to the spot where a Palestinian sniper killed an Israeli soldier on Sunday evening, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said just hours after the attack in a statement that spoke of the need to fight terror and support West Bank settlements.

His decision expands the Jewish areas of the West Bank city, and allows an Israeli civilian presence in a Palestinian neighborhood next to the Cave of the Patriarchs.

Just past midnight, Netanyahu said, “Those who attempt to uproot us from the city of our forefathers will achieve the opposite effect. We will continue on one hand to fight terror and to harm terrorists and on the other hand to strengthen settlements.”

This, of course was supposed to send a bold message to Abbas and the PA that terrorism against Israelis would not be tolerated. Did it? That's worth taking a closer look at.

Abbas and the other Arabs who describe themselves as Palestinians regard the conflict with the Jews as a tribal one, and the goal has never been peaceful coexistence, but total victory and a Jew-free 'Palestine' from the Jordan to the Mediterranean. Abbas and Arafat have both said this numerous times, as have most of the other members of the Palestinian cabal. It's a zero sum game.

In this kind of war, anything goes - kidnapping, ethnic cleansing, rape,brutally murdering civilians, inciting racial hatred, disinformation, torture, blatant deception on agreements, even murdering some of your own civilians and blaming it on your enemy for the benefit of the media narrative. Just look at how the Arabs wage war between themselves, let alone against Jews or other infidels.   As  Arafat once famously said, "I've killed for my cause. Don't you think I would lie for it?"

With that in mind, let's re-examine what's happened, from a Palestinian point of view.

To Abbas and company, the two young Israeli servicemen who were murdered in terrorist attacks are just two less Jews they have to deal with, certainly no cause for distress. While a 'condemnation' might be forthcoming (in English, of course,not Arabic), it's certainly not a given, but a concession to be paid for. No Palestinian has ever been arrested, let alone jailed by the  Palestinians for murdering a Jew. Before Abbas, would say anything of the kind, he'd be looking at the Israelis, or more likely U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry asking, 'What's in this for me? What's my payback?'

Netanyahu's response to the killings is also interesting.He finally allowed Jews to move into property they owned anyway, something they purchased and had a legal right to live in, in the midst of a city filled with stolen Jewish homes illegally occupied by Arabs. That's a good thing as far as it goes, but  even  just doing that much took years and a couple of terrorist attacks to accomplish.

While Abbas and Palestine groupies in places like Washington DC and London will condemn what Netanyahu did as 'provocation' and 'unhelpful to the Peace Process', the Arabs will actually understand this, in a bemused sort of fashion. After all, if they had the power, they'd occupy every Jewish home in Israel after ethnically cleansing the inhabitants.The fact that the Jews finally are moving into a property they bought years ago is useful propaganda to them, but it doesn't send a message that killing Jews won't be tolerated. In fact, it merely starts the wheels turning on plans for another 'operation' against the new inhabitants.

When you perform actions meant to send a message, it's of the greatest importance that your message be clearly understood.

So, now that we understand that, what would a clearly understood message look like? While neither of these is likely since Netanyahu is obviously constrained by the need to appear to placate the anti-Israel Obama Administration, there are two ways I can think of  to send a clear message to Abbas and the Palestinians that killing Jews is a really bad idea from the cost versus benefit standpoint.

The first effective message that could be sent is simple annexation. Hebron right now is divided into two sections, H1, which is under Israeli control and H2, which is under Palestinian control.  Israel annexing the entire city, removing the current Palestinian population to PA territory and opening all of Hebron to Jewish settlement, (something that should have been done after 1967 anyway) would send an unmistakeable signal to Abbas and the Palestinians that murdering Jews has a stiff price.

Much less dramatic but just as effective would be a message involving the convicted murderers Israel has incarcerated for terrorist activities.

Israel has no capital punishment, so again this is unlikely without special legislation, but if the Israelis could change their laws to allow it in special circumstances, they could  simply hang ten convicted Palestinian killers for each of the two murdered Israelis and throw their bodies in the sea.

Can you imagine what a clear and understandable message that would send to Abbas and the Palestinians? Especially since Abbas has called these killers 'holy martyrs' and made them a cause célèbre to his people?

I assure you, sending these kind of messages would do more to ensure peace and save lives  then all of  the decades of negotiations since the farce of Oslo.

Communication is the key. And even a puppy can learn to understand pretty quickly that bad choices entail consequences.

Mr. Cruz Goes To Washington

Americans who despair of the future of our country will receive a welcome shot of hope today, as a brave man stands up for freedom no matter the cost.

Texas Senator Ted Cruz is speaking on the Senate floor, vowing to talk against ObamaCare 'until I can stand no more.'

He began at 2:41, and can talk up until noon tomorrow, when under the Senate rules he has to stop, and the Senate would proceed to vote on ending debate and bringing the spending bill to the floor.

This isn't a filibuster, unfortunately. Harry Reid saw to that by quickly locking in the floor schedule early Monday, and that forces the chamber to vote by Wednesday afternoon.

“I want to disabuse everyone. There will be no filibuster today,” Mr. Reid said as he opened the Senate floor action for the day.

I want to reiterate the political games going on here. Cruz supports the House bill defunding ObamaCare, but if Democrat majority leader Harry Reid can get 60 votes for cloture in order to end debate, Reid can pass a new budget that funds ObamaCare by a simple majority and send it back to the House. If Reid can't get cloture, the budget bill stays in the Senate and forces Reid and the Democrats to publicly own both ObamaCare and the onus for shutting the government down.

The RINOs in the Senate are going to try to fool you by voting for cloture to shaft Cruz and the conservatives, and then cast a symbolic, futile vote for the doomed bill, so they can go home in 2014 and lie to you about how they 'voted against ObamaCare'.

Don't let them do it.

Call, e-mail and tweet your senators and let them them know you understand this scam, and that a vote for cloture on their part is a vote for ObamaCare.

You can watch (or at least listen to) Senator Cruz live here.

The link may take a while to load.That alone should tell you America is tuning in.

Vatican Court: No Communion For Nancy Pelosi


The Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura in Rome, the highest court at the Vatican has ruled that House minority leader Rep.Nancy Pelosi should not receive communion as a Catholic until she changes her advocacy of abortion on demand.

Cardinal Raymond Leo Burke, the prefect of the Supreme Tribunal said that Pelosi should be denied communion because she is not in a state of grace.

The Cardinal cites Canon law 915 which states that Catholics who are continue to openly continue “in manifest grave sin are not to be admitted to Holy Communion.”

Cardinal Burke said Mrs. Pelosi fits the definition.

“Certainly this is a case when Canon 915 must be applied,” he said, the Western Center for Journalism reported. “This is a person who obstinately, after repeated admonitions, persists in a grave sin — cooperating with the crime of procured abortion — and still professes to be a devout Catholic.”

“This is a prime example of what Blessed John Paul II referred to as the situation of Catholics who have divorced their faith from their public life and therefore are not serving their brothers and sisters in the way that they must — in safeguarding and promoting the life of the innocent and defenseless unborn, in safeguarding and promoting the integrity of marriage and the family,” he said.

In other words, Cardinal Burke is calling Rep. Nancy Pelosi a class A hypocrite.

I am not a Catholic, but I can't help but reflect on the justice of this. Not only is Nancy Pelosi an outspoken advocate of abortion on demand, but she also is a strong proponent of taking away the religious freedom of Catholics and Catholic institutions who do follow Church law in this matter by forcing them to subsidize abortions and abortificants under the diktats of ObamaCare. So not only is she involved in what the Catholic Church considers sin itself, but in attempting to force others into sin.

I'm not sure Rep. Pelosi even goes to confession and receives communion, but she has repeatedly referred to herself as a 'devout Catholic'. She's gotten away with that lie for years, unchallenged. This should destroy that, and I would hope that if it continues to persist,the Church would proceed to excommunication.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Fear And Loathing - The RINOs Versus The Lions*368/mccain-vs-cruz.jpg

Strange days indeed, when Republicans eat their own over something that seems to be a no brainer - defunding the deeply unpopular ObamaCare and avoiding a national trainwreck.

The GOP establishment, which seems to have difficulty finding its behind with both hands is facing mounting discontent over President Obama's signature achievement. In fact, it's this president's legacy, if you don't count unprecedented debt, Benghazi, Syria, Fast and Furious, lavish vacations, IRS-gate and a slightly improved golf score.

But for most Americans, who now have taken ex-Speaker Nancy Pelosi's advice and are finding out what's actually in ObamaCare now that the bill's passed and the legislation is taking effect, it's a nightmare. The most conservative estimates are that ObamaCare will increase healthcare costs for an average family of four by $7,450 between 2014 and 2022..if you can manage to see a doctor in anything like a timely manner.

And those figures do not account for the additional costs incurred if the president gets his way and legalizes 11 million plus illegal migrants, virtually all of whom will qualify for the taxpayer funded subsidies.

Even President Obama's allies the unions are jumping ship on ObamaCare at this point.

When conservative Republicans in the House and in the Senate actually took a look at the poll numbers and spoke to their constituents, it seemed like a no brainer that with President Obama pushing for yet another expansion on his credit card to raise the debt ceiling, this would be an incredible time to own this issue and connect with the American public by funding the government but defunding ObamaCare.

When the GOP establishment proved reluctant, the conservatives in the House and Senators like Utah's Mike Lee and Texan Ted Cruz led the charge to mobilize conservatives. They got well over a million signatures on an online petition and defied expectations by succeeding in getting a budget through that defunds ObamaCare.

And that when the RINO crap hit the fan.

The bill has to go to the Senate, where the Democrats will need to get 60 votes for cloture in order to end debate so Democrat majority leader Harry Reid can pass a new budget that funds ObamaCare by a simple majority and send it back to the House. If Reid
can't get cloture, the budget bill stays in the Senate and forces Reid and the Democrats to publicly own both ObamaCare and the onus for shutting the government down. Senator Cruz explains this admirably to FOX News commentator Chris Wallace here:

Guess who Reid's allies are in getting cloture?

None other than Arizona RINO John McCain, his sidekick Lindsay Graham and the rest of the RINOs on the so-called Gang of Eight. And they're not limiting themselves to merely disagreeing with Cruz and conservatives. They're trying to destroy them politically.

As Chris Wallace revealed, the RINOs actually sent him opposition research on Cruz prior to his interview with Cruz on his Sunday show, which Wallace, being an actual journalist refused to use or reveal where it came from. And as Tammy Bruce correctly surmises, if they're sending it to Chris Wallace, they're sending it to everyone.:

“This has been one of the strangest weeks I’ve ever had in Washington. As soon as we listed Ted Cruz as our guest this week, I got unsolicited research and questions, not from Democrats, but from top Republicans to hammer Cruz. Why are Republicans so angry at Ted Cruz?”

Well, for one thing, it's not all Republicans, but the RINO faction led by John McCain. They loathe Cruz, Rand Paul, Mike Lee, Ron Johnson and others from the Tea Party class of 2010 because they're conservatives first rather than Republicans, and came to Washington to govern and try to take back the country rather than going along with the Old Boy network and business as usual. Like the members of the House, they haven't been in Washington long enough to become insulated within the DC bubble from the people that sent them there, and they still retain the principles they ran on.

Worst of all, they refuse to show deference to their 'betters', carpet chewers and sell outs like McCain.

ObamaCare is a particular sore spot with the RINOs because the waiver Obama gave Congress applies to the RINOs and their staffs, and they damn well don't want to lose it because of what McCain famously called 'wacko birds'. So they're willing to break Ronald Reagan's 11th commandment in spades and provide oppo research to damage fellow Republicans.

Sarah Palin, as usual has the right of it. She demands that Wallace reveal which Republicans sent him the material intended to damage Senator Ted Cruz (h/t The Noisy Room):

As I mentioned previously, defunding both the mandatory and discretionary funding for ObamaCare is definitely possible. Congress does exactly that with the Hyde Amendment, which prevents funds going to MedicAid from paying for abortions with exceptions for incest and rape. It's done via a rider that is attached to the annual appropriations bill for the Department of Health and Human Services and has passed every year since 1976.

The RINOs, short sighted as usual, would rather not make waves.Losing elections has taught the Stupid Party nothing, although Cruz and his fellow lions appear to have learned something.

At the very least, this would put President Obama and Harry Reid in the uncomfortable position of having to whip their fellow Democrats into line to support shutting down the government to save a piece of legislation the vast majority of American hate...with the 2014 midterms coming on. The results of this might end up being surprising.

On the other hand, we have, apparently, a contingent within the GOP who have no allegiance to small r republican principles, or really, any principles whatsoever aside from getting re-elected again. Something is going to have to give, and it may just be the Republican Party.

That sharp, cracking sound you hear is the political borders re-aligning, and it may just be the start of the GOP establishment going the way of the Whigs.

Egypt Outlaws The Muslim Brotherhood

An Egyptian court has issued orders banning the Muslim Brotherhood as well as "any institution branching out of it or ... receiving financial support from it" and ordered the confiscation of all of its "assets, funds and buildings".

This is a huge blow to Egypt's Islamist fascists, because The Brotherhood depends on social welfare organizations that it funds to build up grassroots political support. Even during the time the Brotherhood was officially banned, the Mubarak regime allowed a number of these organizations to continue operating. My guess is that the interim government plans to get rid of the Brotherhood once and for all, to the extent that's possible.

Oddly enough, the verdict not as a diktat from the al-Sissi interim government but from a lawsuit raised by lawyers from the leftist party Tagammu party, accusing the Brotherhood of being a "terrorist" and "exploiting religion in political slogans."

Still to come is the trial of Morsi, al-Badie and other Brotherhood figures. One fact that has emerged recently is that among other things, deposed Brotherhood President Morsi is supposed to have put out a contract on General Al-Sissi prior to Morsi's ouster and arrest.

Nairobi Update

Here's the latest on the Nairobi jihad attack.

There was a loud explosion this morning that sent thick clouds of smoke billowing from the Westgate shopping mall, where the remaining jihadis are holed up with an undetermined number of hostages.

A security officer was quoted by SKY News as saying that it was the rescuers that caused the blast, because they are trying to get through via the roof.

The rest of the mall has gradually been cleared and a number of trapped civilians and hostages rescued, but apparently there is still a hard core force of 10 to 15 jihadis barricaded in a supermarket, together with hostages they're using as human shields. There are said to be at least 5 Somalis with American citizenship among the jihadis, and at at least one female.There's a report out that the woman is Samantha Lewthwaite, a white British Muslim convert and the widow of London 7/7 Tube bomber Jermaine Lindsay who blew himself up in the attacks that murdered 26 people back in 2005.She's known to be in the area and has been involved in other attacks.

 Samantha Lewthwaite

The American jihadis have been identified from one source as:
Ahmed Mohamed Isse, 22 , St. Paul, Minnesota
Abdifatah Osman Keenadiid 24, Minneapolis, Minnesota
Gen Mustafe Noorudiin. 27, Kansas City. MO
Abdelkarem Ali Mohamed, 21, from Illinois (probably Chicago)
Abdishakur Sheikh Hassan 22 from Maine
Shafie Die 25, Tucson Arizona

Other jihadis reportedly identified are

Abdirizak Mouled, 24 Ontario, Canada
Ahmed Nasir Shirdoon, 24, London GB
Sayid Nuh, 25, Kismayu, Somalia
Sa’d Daud 23, Damascus Syria
Mohammed Bader 25, Aleppo, Syria
Ismael Guled, 23, Helsinki Finland
Zaki Jama Caraale, 20, Hargeisa, Somalia
Qasim Said Mussa, 22, Garissa, Kenya
Eliko Mamedoff, 27, Dagestan, Russia
Moulid Ahmed 24, Gävleborgs Län, Sweden

This is what comes of giving people wholesale asylum in the West from locations like Somalia. Also note the jihadis from Syria. These are exactly the kind of people President Obama wanted to ally the US with and supply with arms.

Some of the jihadis reportedly blew themselves up with suicide bomb vests when attacked by security forces, while others were shot down in the mall itself.

Al Shabaab spokesman Ali Mohamud Rage warned via Twitter the hostages would "bear the brunt of any force directed against the mujahedeen". In response, Kenyan military spokesman Colonel Cyrus Oguna told Sky News: "We do not negotiate with terrorists and that position has not changed. Everyone who has been rescued is being checked to make sure none of the terrorists escaped during the dragnet."

This is approaching endgame. Expect the death toll to go higher.

Detroit Is Going To The Dogs - Literally

As Detroit continues to circle the drain, there's yet another hazard to contend with - an estimated 50,000 stray dogs roaming the streets and vacant homes menacing residents and city workers.

To make it even more interesting, pit bulls dominate the dog packs, due to the popularity of the breed in the largely black city as watchdogs and for dog fighting.

Many of the dogs have simply been abandoned and left to fend for themselves as the owners move on, something uniquely cruel when it comes the Man's Best Friend.The dogs often roam in packs and shelter in Detroit's abandoned homes, where rats can also be hunted as a food source.

And the bankrupt city, as things stand right now, can't really do much about it.

“With these large open expanses with vacant homes, it’s as if you designed a situation that causes dog problems,” said Harry Ward, head of animal control.

Ward has four officers to cover the 139-square-mile (360-square-kilometer) city seven days a week, 11 fewer than when he first took over animal control in 2008. He has one dog-bite investigator, down from three.

Back in July, the City shelters actually had to stop picking up stray animals for a month because the city hadn’t paid a service that hauls away euthanized animals for cremation at a cost of about $20,000 a year. The freezers were packed with carcasses, and pens were full of live animals until that bill was paid.

In some particularly bad areas, the U.S. Postal Service has had to temporarily halt mail delivery in some neighborhoods because of attacks by aggressive dogs, said Ed Moore, a Detroit-area spokesman. He said there were 25 reports of mail carriers bitten by dogs in Detroit from October through July.

Another problem is that many of the residents of Detroit who still remain and own dogs aren't bothering to get them neutered, are not getting them their rabies or distemper shots and are simply letting them wander. There simply isn't any budget to enforce these measures any more.

Yes, there are a number of jokes I could make here, but to tell you the truth, I feel sorry for the dogs. They at least did nothing to create this and deserve better.

The Religion Of Peace Strikes Again - 80 Killed As Church In Pakistan Is Bombed

All Saints Church in the old quarter of Pehawar, Pakistan was hit by two suicide bombers Sunday morning. The historic church was ripped apart by two bombers carrying 6 kilos of explosives each.

The Jandullah group, a faction of the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan, claimed responsibility for the attack

Around 600 people had attended services and were leaving to receive free food being distributed on the lawn outside the building when two explosions ripped through the crowd. 80 were killed including 34 women and 7 children, and scores of people were injured.The explosions were set off by two homicide bombers carrying 6 kilos of explosives each, packed with ball bearings as shrapnel.

The dead were placed in coffins and moved to nearby St. John’s Church, the oldest church in the city. Dozens of grieving relatives gathered, ironically, in the church playground to mourn their dead.

Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif condemned the attack on the church, saying "terrorists have no religion and targeting innocent people is against the teachings of Islam".

Sharif said such cruel acts of terrorism "reflect the brutality and inhumane mindset of the terrorists".

Unfortunately, the Taliban disagrees with Sharif. They're Muslims, and this was done in the name of Islam as far as their concerned, just like every other attack on Christians. Or Hindus, for that matter. Just ask the people of Mumbai, who were hit by 'authorized' terrorists from Lashkar e Taiba armed and trained by Pakistan's ISI intelligence service.

The odd thing is that the current Pakistani government has been pretty outspoken about wanting peace with the Taliban,  and those offers have remained on the table in spite of repeated attacks on Pakistan's Christians.

It makes you wonder how sincere those condemnations are.

Forum:What's the most memorable place you've ever been?

Every week on Monday morning , the Council and our invited guests weigh in at the Watcher's Forum, short takes on a major issue or simply an interesting topic of the day. This week's question: What's the most memorable place you've ever been?

The Colossus of Rhodey: For me it was the American World War 2 cemetery in Luxembourg. In 1982 at age 17 I was fortunate to had been selected to play in what was called the American Youth Jazz Band. Musicians were selected from various mid-Atlantic states (I played saxophone), and after four months of practice here in the States we would journey to Europe for a three-week tour of various countries. This was all financed by an elderly philanthropist who had inherited a substantial amount of money back in the day (may she R.I.P.).

On the leg of our last stop, Luxembourg, we stopped by the above mentioned cemetery. On our tour bus up until this point, the mood was, as it had been every day, quite festive. We were notified, of course, upon exiting the bus, to maintain a dignified posture while walking through the cemetery. Unbeknownst to me, this is the cemetery where General George Patton is laid to rest. What is striking about his grave (cross) is that it is no different from that of any other soldier's in the park except that it sits just a bit apart from the main body of crosses and Stars of David, and it marked with a sign (for lack of a better term).

The first feeling you experience is that of being overwhelmed. You simply cannot believe just how many graves there are in this place. It's seemingly endless. Then, you notice the ages noted on the crosses/Stars of David: Virtually all between 18 and 24. These men all died so that we could live as freely -- and comfortably -- as we do now. Within a few minutes I simply could not contain my emotions any longer. I began crying. I really lost it when I found the first cross of a soldier who was from Delaware (my home state).

When we all got back on the bus, there were no words spoken by anyone. There also weren't any dry eyes. Many years later when I saw Saving Private Ryan in the theatre, I broke down crying during one of the very first scenes -- when the [now-older] Ryan visits the cemetery where those who saved him are buried. It took me back instantly to that day in 1982.

That visit in Luxembourg helped to solidify my young view of just how unique -- and great -- the United States is as a nation. Though my parents are moderately liberal, my maternal grandfather was a Naval aviator (late 1940s-early 1950s) who unfortunately was killed way too soon. But my grandmother -- his wife -- never let me forget how important men like my grandfather are ... how important it is to grasp how so many -- so many young men -- sacrificed themselves in WW II for us. For the world.

There simply are no words.

 The Razor: The Mahale Mountains rise above Lake Tanganyika in western Tanzania and are a protected national park. The Wife and I lived in this isolated place in the mid 1990’s for a year while she studied wild chimpanzees. It’s only accessible by bush plane or speed boat. The main peaks of the massif are covered with grass and a stubble of trees that brush against a sky. On a windy day when I saw the mountains from their foothills I felt myself suspended above a moving sea of endless shades of green, soaking in the play of light and shadow on forested slopes and exposed crags, the way the peaks often bore streaming banners of clouds, the shining places where water tumbled down sheer rock faces before passing into unseen valleys. From our research camp Nkungwe rose to the north, the tallest peak of the short chain, its bald crown peppered with large boulders like so many grains of sand. Pasagula was just visible behind it, like a younger brother peering over the shoulder of the elder. Unlike Nkungwe all of Pasagula is thickly forested except for a broad brown treeless swath which cut slightly below the peak. To the south the slopes of Nkungwe descend steeply into the narrow valley cut by the Kasiha river. The chain continues southeast, intersected by ridges and seasonal streams, to the broad floodplain of the Lubulungu River. Beyond that, rising through the haze on the far horizon, were the rugged looking mountains of Nganja, an area of thick and still unexplored bush which we thought might shelter buffalo, elephant, antelope and lion. And covering it all from the mountains to the narrow ribbon of beach and the blue waters of the lake was the nearly unbroken sweep of the forest where countless species of birds, monkeys, leopards, ungulates, and chimpanzees called home. It was truly the most beautiful place I have ever lived, let alone visited. There isn’t a day that passes without me thinking about that place.

Then there’s Japan. We lived in Kyoto Japan for 4 years in the 1990’s. There isn’t a day when I don’t think about that place either, but for opposite reasons.

Liberty's Spirit:There are many places that have special meaning to me. The first place I ever loved to go visit is Colonial Williamsburg. Being propelled back into the era that fostered our founding fathers and mothers brought the period of the American Revolution to life. Secondly is the Freedom Tail in Boston, which brings to life the fight for liberty during the colonial era. There is so much to learn and to try to understand about that time in our American history that I could never have enough time to enjoy the experience. And I went to school in Boston so I had plenty of time to explore.

The next places are all in Washington DC. We lived in DC for years and I remember when we first moved to town, being so overwhelmed everyday when went to work driving past The White House, and the Capital at the end of Pennsylvania Avenue. Seeing these buildings was the real life vision of the democracy I love and honor. Meanwhile, I always adored going to the National Archives where people can view the Declaration of Independence and the US Constitution. Also during a tour of the Capital I was able to stand on the exact spot where Abraham Lincoln’s congressional desk stood. Without a doubt the Lincoln memorial is quite overwhelming. Seeing the life-size Lincoln reminds everyone what he stood for and how he led our nation during such a crucial period as the Civil War. But the most devastating moment I experienced in Washington DC, was at The Vietnam War Memorial. It was seeing the names of those men and women who died in that War, which brings to the forefront the true sacrifice that so many make on behalf of our liberties. (I have actually never been to Arlington Cemetery, but I can imagine that that experience is so very more humbling.)

Some of my most memorable places are the full "circle of freedom" for me: Williamsburg, Boston to DC.

I have parallel religious places that I find important as well. They are in Israel. The Kotel Ha’Maariv, The Western Wall of the Temple, is a very emotional experience. I could never understand why with all the generations I was permitted to return to Jerusalem. There is something amazing about being able to walk in the footsteps of your biblical ancestors and touch parts of the world in which they lived. To see the miracle of a nation reborn is awe-inspiring. This is history being lived every day. Every prayer and hope of the Jewish people over thousands of years have been answered. It is amazing to know that in more than one way I am truly a free and very blessed person.

Bookworm Room: The most memorable place I've been to? I've had the good fortune to go to more memorable places than I can count. The reason, of course, is that there are so many metrics by which one can describe something as being memorable.

For example, I've been to many of the the greatest museums the world has to offer. My favorite museum, though, because I found it the most meaningful, continues to be the Tenement Museum in New York City. Yad Vashem, although the most devastating place I've ever been, is also the most important museum, and therefore memorable in a way simultaneously terrible and important. Mauthausen, the only concentration camp I've visited, meets that metric too.

Places? Well, it depends if you're talking natural or man-made beauty, and even then I can't quite nail it down. I do think, though, that my favorite National Park is Yellowstone. It is the most amazing place I've ever been because the earth's crust there is so thin. Everything is gorgeous, everything is a riot of color, and everything is so dynamic. It is truly one of the wonders of the world.

As for human places, the older I get, the more vacant I like them. Once upon a time, I might have said that my favorite city is "Vienna," which is, somehow, an amazingly feminine city architecturally. (Unlike London, which is an aggressively masculine city when it comes to architecture.) Or perhaps I might have said Tel Aviv, which is beyond ugly, but so vibrant that aesthetics seem irrelevant. As time goes by, though, I find myself drawn more to places where humans touch only lightly on the land. That's why, on my last vacation, my favorite places were Skjolden, in Norway, which is a tiny village at the end of a long, long fjorde, and the Shetland Islands, which occupy the northern-most region of great Britain. Humankind doesn't dominate the landscape in these places, it blends in with it.

Schools? The most memorable are Texas and Leeds, although most people would say that both of those places lack charm. Charm-shmarm -- they are in the memorable category because I was so happy there. Decades on, I doubt that I would enjoy either place now but in those days, they were definitely the right places at the right time, and will live enshrined in my memory. High school was also a memorable place, not because I particularly enjoyed it, but because those three years shaped me in such profound ways. I've spent the 30 plus years since I left trying to shake off many of the memorable scars it left on my psyche.

I've traveled extensively for the last thirty years, mostly to Europe, but with enough forays in North America, Latin America, the Middle East, and Japan to have something of a sense of all those places. Each offers amazing natural beauty and impressive cultural institutions. But the place I always carry with me in my heart -- my most memorable place -- is my home and my country.

The Independent Sentinel: Mt. Rushmore surprised me. I went there as an afterthought because I was nearby. Having traveled widely, I didn't think it would impress me much. All I could say was, 'Wow!' People around me kept saying the same thing, 'Wow.'

The Civil War battlefields made a difference in my life. I didn't realize what that war might have been like until I walked the grounds they walked, envisioned the tens of thousands who died in the orchards in Gettysburg, visited Fords Theater...

The most memorable was probably Ellis Island because of my husband's grandmother who came through as a 12-year old by herself. We even found a photo of the ship she traveled on from Austria.

The Glittering Eye:  Over the years I've been to all sorts of memorable places. The Grand Canyon. Mesa Verde. The British Museum. The Louvre. The Black Canyon of the Gunnison in Colorado as a thunderstorm rolled into the canyon. Hiking to the top of Mt. San Jacinto in Southern California with my then-girlfriend, now wife.

However, I tend not to think in terms of memorable places so much as place made memorable by the experiences I've had there. Of those I'll name just two.

The first was Club 33 in Disneyland. Unknown to most people it's a private club hidden one flight up in the heart of New Orleans Square at 33 Royal Street. My wife and I dined at the excellent restaurant at the club, the only place in Disneyland where you can get a cocktail, beer, or wine as guests of her uncle who was then a club member. A truly unique perspective on the happiest place on earth and a truly memorable experience.

The other was Fort William. Nestled at the foot of Ben Nevis, the highest mountain in the Scottish Highlands, it's located on the shore of Loch Linnhe. There the land rises from the wild, rough loch sharply to the heights of the mountain. When my wife and I arrived there, in the 1000 m. walk between the train station and our B&B we experienced sunshine, rain, sleet, and snow and arrived wet and bedraggled. Our wonderfully hospitable host and hostess welcomed us with warm towels, hot tea, and freshly-baked shortbread. A delightfully memorable experience and place.

In the final analysis I don't think that places alone are memorable but they become memorable by the experiences you have there and the people you love with whom you share them.

 Well, there you have it.

Make sure to tune in every Monday for the Watcher’s Forum. And remember, every Wednesday, the Council has its weekly contest with the members nominating two posts each, one written by themselves and one written by someone from outside the group for consideration by the whole Council. The votes are cast by the Council, and the results are posted on Friday morning.

It’s a weekly magazine of some of the best stuff written in the blogosphere, and you won’t want to miss it.

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Sunday, September 22, 2013

Germany's Merkel Coasts To Re-Election With Huge Majority

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has won an historic third term as her Christian Democratic party (CDU) is on track to win 301 seats in the 598-seat Bundestag, enough to form a government without needing a coalition partner to govern.

The Social democrats (SDU) are behind by over 17 points, 25.45% of the vote to the CDU's 42.50%, although this could change slightly. Merkel's current center Right coalition partners, the Free Democrats (FDP), are likely headed for a major loss with just 4.7 per cent of yesterday’s vote, according to the exit poll. If their numbers stay there, they won't even cross the threshold to enter the Bundestag.

A lot of the FDP's votes went to the anti-EU Alternative für Deutschland (AfD, a brand new party that might get into the Bundestag on its first try, with 4.9% and rising. They'd only need 5% to hit the threshold.

The far Left Greens, who caused Merkel all kinds of trouble in her last coalition look to end up with about 8.40%, a loss of over 2% from the last election. They'll be in the Bundestag, but Merkel might not need them to govern in a coalition and if she does, like the SDU their influence would be curtailed after these election results. If the CDU does bring them into government (and it's certainly possible if the SDU declines to enter a coalition with Merkel) there might have to be changes after leading Green Party member Jürgen Trittin was implicated in the Greens' ongoing pedophilia scandal during the campaign that has its roots in the Greens' support for sex with minors that dates back to its early days in the 1980s. The Greens simply aren't very popular right now.

That said, the most likely coalition would be a center Left Right Coalition between the CDU and the Social Democratic Party, who will likely swallow their pride in order to be in government - especially if they got some decent ministries out of it.

Why did Angela Merkel win so big? Two words, competence and trust. Germany is an Island of prosperity in a Europe of financial instability, and Merkel - known as Mutti, 'Mom' to many Germans - gets the credit for steering th3e country through rocky waters in difficult circumstances. Germany's unemployment rate is only 6.8 percent compared with an average of 12.1 percent in the 17-nation euro zone.Over 70% of Germans approve of the job she's doing, and the pastor's Daughter from East Germany is a trusted leader they feel they can rely on.

She's noted for projecting calm and for her ability to seek consensus even with widely divergent groups, something that resonates deeply with Germans. They feel the country's in good hands with her.

This election was simply a huge vote of confidence for Merkel.It's that simple.