A blog post by Daniel Halper, the Weekly Standard magazine’s online editor, Nov. 1:

This election might determine whether the “climate crisis” is solved, former Vice President Al Gore claims. The former politician makes the statement in a fundraising email from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

“Here’s what I believe,” writes Gore.

“There is nothing more pressing in our time than confronting and solving the climate crisis.

“We have no time to spare. We must act now. Luckily, we have all the tools we need to solve this challenge. All we need is political will—but political will is a renewable resource!

“That’s why the election on November 4th is so monumentally important. President Obama is now leading on this issue—but we need to elect more Democrats dedicated to putting the future of our planet before the interests of Big Oil and Coal and other large carbon polluters who demand the right to use our atmosphere as an open sewer without any accountability.”

Gore then goes in for the ask:

“And right now, that means we need to support Democratic candidates facing Koch-funded attacks. There are only a few days left to make a difference in this election. Can you chip in whatever you can today?

Will you step up?”

Convert to Islam Tests Boundaries of Germany’s Terror Laws By Anton Troianovski

Standoff between Islamist preacher Sven Lau and German security agents shows the difficulty of drawing a clear line between opinion and sedition.

WUPPERTAL, Germany—Fundamentalist Islamic preacher Sven Lau claims he has a simple test to separate undercover officers from passersby. He gives them the finger. If they don’t respond, he said, “they’re intelligence agents.”

German authorities have spent at least eight years monitoring Mr. Lau, a 34-year-old ex-firefighter from a Catholic family who now practices a strict form of Islam known as Salafism.

Officials say Mr. Lau is one of the most prominent Islamic preachers in Germany, with a charismatic message that lures young Germans into radical Muslim circles. The head of Germany’s domestic intelligence agency called Mr. Lau one of the country’s “best-known propagandists.” Authorities allege Mr. Lau inspired some of his followers to join Islamic militants in Syria and Iraq, and fear they will eventually spawn terror attacks in Germany and the West.

Mr. Lau, who has delivered sermons to hundreds of listeners at town squares across Germany, denies the allegation. Despite wiretaps and searches of his home and computers by authorities, he remains free. He denied any ties to terrorism or the extremist group Islamic State—“I’m not pro-IS,” he said—and described his past trips to Syria as humanitarian work.

The standoff between Mr. Lau and German security agents illustrates the difficulty of drawing a clear line between opinion and sedition at a time when European authorities face growing numbers of disaffected Muslims, some of them taking on radical views. Security officials say they monitor a wide range of Islamist proselytizing but only a small minority pass the threshold for prosecution on charges of supporting terrorism.

German authorities, who say they still watch Mr. Lau, acknowledge he seems to have found a safety zone.

“He continues to radicalize young people and creates fertile soil for future violence,” said Burkhard Freier, the domestic intelligence chief in Mr. Lau’s home state of North-Rhine Westphalia. “To prove this under the rule of law with means that will stand up in court is, well, difficult.”

NUTS IN THE NUTMEG STATE:Bloomberg Cash Fuels ‘Ground Zero’ Election for Gun Rights In Connecticut!!!

The strict state gun-control law enacted in the wake of the Sandy Hook shooting is at the center of Connecticut’s hotly contested governor’s race, raising the election to a national profile as outside groups inject large infusions of cash.

Incumbent Democratic Gov. Dan Malloy signed the law in April 2013 requiring background checks and banning many models of assault-style weapons and large ammunition magazines.

Second Amendment defenders say if Malloy wins another term, he will support even more “draconian” measures, including a registration requirements that could enable systematic confiscation of weapons.

His opponent, Republican Thomas Foley, a former ambassador to Ireland and private equity investor, has vowed to sign a repeal of the bill if elected. Foley contends the response to the 2012 Newtown shooting that killed 20 first-graders and six staff members should focus on access to mental health treatment.

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Malloy has received $1.7 million from former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg while Foley has received millions from the Republican Governors Association, chaired by New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.

Strict gun-control laws also were passed in Maryland, New York and Colorado in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook shooting, drawing the protests of sheriffs, including a majority in New York and Colorado.

Michelle Obama campaigned in the state for Malloy this week, and President Obama is scheduled to arrive Sunday as gun-control advocates campaign around the clock, targeting female voters, particularly mothers.

The gubernatorial matchup is a repeat of 2010, when Malloy defeated Foley by just 6,400 votes. Malloy was expected to improve his margin of victory this time, but the gun-control issue has given life to Foley, putting him in the lead in many polls over the course of the campaign.

Howard Jacobson:Russell Brand and Miriam Margolyes: Don’t Fall for the False Charms of Those Two Pantomime Preachers (see note please)

Howard Jacobson won the prestigious British Man Booker award for his novel ” The Finkler Question” a parody of Jews who form a group that scolds Israel under the pretense of sorrow and anger at Israel’s behavior….rsk
Little by little all argument evaporates, and soon what a fool thinks, we all think

When Russell Brand uses the word “hegemony” something dies in my soul. When Miriam Margolyes sees the word “Jew” something dies in hers. Such accomplished clowns, both of them, it’s a matter of regret to those of us who like to be amused that they don’t stick to clowning. It takes from their comedy to discover they are fools in earnest. But it’s also on behalf of seriousness that we ask them to stay with what they know. For neither has the first idea what serious thought is. And these are dangerous times, when what looks like an idea is more likely to be attended to than what actually is one.
One can’t put all the blame on Russell Brand for “hegemony”. The word has been the curse of the social sciences ever since that branch of knowledge thought of calling itself that. If the phrase “as Chomsky says” had one thinking of leaving any meeting addressed by a social scientist in the Sixties, Seventies and Eighties, it was “hegemony” that finally got one out of the door.
Brand is no more besotted with the word than the thousands of hegemenophobes who came before him; his sin is to think that being a comedian gives him a surprise advantage over them. In this he patronises himself: it’s not we who marvel that a funny man should know a word of more than three syllables. But he is astonished by his own gifts: must he not, with his looks and vocabulary, be equipped to save the world? Yes, says the perfidious voice of self-love; no, says everybody else save Owen Jones, late of this parish, who listens to similar voices.
(That Jones is the Orwell of our times you have only to glance at the cover of his latest book to learn. It’s Russell Brand who says so. What would I have given, reader, as I began my career, to have had Norman Wisdom compare my prose style to Proust’s! Jones, by way of returning the compliment, is now to be found playing Brand’s straight man in a comedy club nearest you. “Ladies and gentlemen, put your hands together for the Bootsie and Snudge of the Proletarian Revolution.”)

President Obama Should Try to Reset Relations with Benjamin Netanyahu (Washington Post Editorial)

THE LATEST furor in the toxic relationship between the Obama administration and Israel erupted over a barnyard epithet directed at Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu by a “senior administration official.” Ugly jibes between the two governments are not new: Secretary of State John F. Kerry has been on the receiving end of several from senior Israeli officials. But the crudeness of this one — Mr. Netanyahu was called “a chickens—” by someone speaking to the Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg, a frequent recipient of high-level White House communications — raised the question of why the Israeli leader provokes such passionate animus from an administration that coolly shrugs off insults from the likes of Vladi­mir Putin.

Part of the answer, no doubt, is legitimate and substantive frustration. Mr. Netanyahu recently announced expansions of Jewish settlements in the West Bank and East Jersualem, ignoring U.S. appeals for restraint. The prime minister argues that the construction is in areas that are certain to be annexed to Israel in any peace settlement. But Mr. Kerry and the White House see them as provocations that at a minimum will make it harder to blunt another Palestinian diplomatic campaign at the United Nations — and at the worst will ignite violence in an increasingly tense Jerusalem.

Some analysts conjecture that dissing Mr. Netanyahu may be part of the administration’s groundwork for the deal it hopes to strike with Iran on its nuclear program this month. The Israeli leader is almost certain to oppose any accord, just as he denounced the interim arrangement struck last year; he can be expected to lobby Israel’s allies in Congress to oppose any lifting of sanctions. The “chickens—” label applied to Mr. Netanyahu, who served as an elite paratrooper, was linked to an assessment that, out of caution, he missed Israel’s opportunity to carry out a military strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities. Presumably Mr. Obama welcomed that prudence. But the administration, said the speculators, wanted to signal to both Tehran and Jerusalem that it would not be hesitant to do battle with Mr. Netanyahu over an Iran deal.

Egypt’s War on Terrorism: World’s Double Standards by Khaled Abu Toameh

Egypt’s crackdown in Sinai once again exposes the double standards of the international community toward the war on terrorism. While it is fine for Egypt to demolish hundreds of houses and forcibly transfer thousands of people in the name of the war on terrorism, Israel is not allowed to fire back at those who launch rockets and missiles at its civilians.

The Egyptians have finally realized that the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip has become one of the region’s main exporters of terrorism.

What is perhaps more worrying is the fear that the security clampdown in Egypt will drive Hamas and other terror groups in the Gaza Strip to resume their attacks on Israel.

Needless to say, the international community will continue to ignore Egypt’s bulldozing hundreds of houses and the forcible eviction of hundreds of people in Sinai.

Three months after the military conformation between Hamas and Israel, the Egyptians are also waging their own war on terrorism in north Sinai.

But Egypt’s war, which began after Islamist terrorists butchered 33 Egyptian soldiers, does not seem to worry the international community and human rights organizations, at least not as much as Israel’s operation to stop rockets and missiles from being fired into it from the Gaza Strip.

The Egyptian army’s security crackdown includes the demolition of hundreds of houses along the border with the Gaza Strip and the transfer of thousands of people to new locations.

Can NATO Afford a War on Two Fronts? by Peter Martino

Recently, Russian fighter planes and even bombers were spotted over the Baltics, Norway, the Netherlands, the Turkish part of the Black Sea and as far as the Atlantic Ocean.

Russia more than doubled its defense expenditure between 2007 and 2013, and plans to increase it again by 44 per cent in the 2014-2016 period.

It is always unwise to fight a war on two fronts, especially after defense cuts have undermined one’s military. But that seems to be where the West is heading. The Western allies are fighting ISIS in Syria and Iraq, while at the same time tensions are rising between NATO and Russia. The question is whether NATO can afford both after the cuts in its defense budgets of the past two decades.

Strange things are happening on the international oil markets. In the past three months, the oil price dropped 25 per cent. The political situation in many oil-producing countries, such as Syria, Iraq, Libya and Nigeria, is deteriorating. In normal circumstances, this would lead to rising oil prices. Exactly the opposite is happening. Economic growth in Europe, Japan and China is stagnating, while the United States is becoming one of the major oil producers while its oil demand is in decline. These trends would normally be corrected by a reduction in oil production. That is not happening, either.

Last month, the Saudis were pumping up 9.5 million barrels a day — a break from their normal practice of reducing oil production by 1.5 per cent whenever the price drops by 10 per cent. The situation resembles what happened in 1985, when the Saudis raised oil production from 2 to 10 million barrels a day. As a result, oil prices dropped by two-thirds, forcing the Soviet Union out of the oil market. This change was one of the factors that lead to the collapse of the Soviet empire.

The Saudis’ ability to influence the price of oil makes them into one of America’s most valued strategic allies, despite their being untrustworthy and despising Western values of tolerance and freedom. U.S. Vice President Joe Biden recently apologized for saying that Saudi Arabia had funneled weapons and other aid to terrorist groups in Syria that the U.S. is fighting. Nevertheless, it appears that, despite his apologies, what Biden had said was the truth.

It is possible that the Saudis are driving down the price of oil at the request of the American government, which hopes that a shortage of oil revenue would bring Russia to the negotiating table to sort out a deal on Ukraine. Russia’s national budget is largely dependent on oil revenue. If the price falls below 85 dollars per barrel, Russia will feel the squeeze, especially as the price of Russia’s gas deliveries to Europe is linked to that of oil. As this author wrote here earlier, “Europe, having made itself almost totally dependent on Russian gas and oil during the past decade, now wants America to come and save it from self-inflicted disaster.”

The Case Against Liberal Compassion: William Voegeli

WILLIAM VOEGELI is a senior editor of the Claremont Review of Books and a visiting scholar at Claremont McKenna College’s Henry Salvatori Center. After receiving a Ph.D. in political science from Loyola University in Chicago, he served as a program officer for the John M. Olin Foundation. He has written for numerous publications, including the Christian Science Monitor, City Journal, Commentary, First Things, the Los Angeles Times, National Review, and the New Criterion. He is the author of two books, Never Enough: America’s Limitless Welfare State and The Pity Party: A Mean-Spirited Diatribe Against Liberal Compassion.

The following is adapted from a speech delivered at Hillsdale College on October 9, 2014, sponsored by the College’s Van Andel Graduate School of Statesmanship.

Four years ago I wrote a book about modern American liberalism: Never Enough: America’s Limitless Welfare State. It addressed the fact that America’s welfare state has been growing steadily for almost a century, and is now much bigger than it was at the start of the New Deal in 1932, or at the beginning of the Great Society in 1964. In 2013 the federal government spent $2.279 trillion—$7,200 per American, two-thirds of all federal outlays, and 14 percent of the Gross Domestic Product—on the five big program areas that make up our welfare state: 1. Social Security; 2. All other income support programs, such as disability insurance or unemployment compensation; 3. Medicare; 4. All other health programs, such as Medicaid; and 5. All programs for education, job training, and social services.

That amount has increased steadily, under Democrats and Republicans, during booms and recessions. Adjusted for inflation and population growth, federal welfare state spending was 58 percent larger in 1993 when Bill Clinton became president than it had been 16 years before when Jimmy Carter took the oath of office. By 2009, when Barack Obama was inaugurated, it was 59 percent larger than it had been in 1993. Overall, the outlays were more than two-and-a-half times as large in 2013 as they had been in 1977. The latest Census Bureau data, from 2011, regarding state and local programs for “social services and income maintenance,” show additional spending of $728 billion beyond the federal amount. Thus the total works out to some $3 trillion for all government welfare state expenditures in the U.S., or just under $10,000 per American. That figure does not include the cost, considerable but harder to reckon, of the policies meant to enhance welfare without the government first borrowing or taxing money and then spending it. I refer to laws and regulations that require some citizens to help others directly, such as minimum wages, maximum hours, and mandatory benefits for employees, or rent control for tenants.


One thread runs through all the tribal and ideological jungle of contemporary Mideast politics that few of us care to study much less follow.

But will it “deliberate”?

Americans like to believe as a culture they excel at detail. It’s not true. The Japanese, the Germans, and sometimes the French, may well do so. But the American forte is to reduce the complexity of big ideas – whether in politics or industry – and broaden their appeal or their functionality. The Brits invented TV, radar, discovered antibiotics – but Americans made them marketable and a commonplace.

Indeed, so-called popular culture, now a worldwide phenomenon, is a product of the American lifestyle which strives for universality. The ability to achieve a common denominator, sometimes at the risk of higher quality but wider acceptance, has characterized U.S. decision-making through its history and been the genius of the society.

Therefore, the devil remains in the details. And when they are lost sight of, among other things, there is the avalanche of continuing disasters which have befallen the Obama Administration. True, it is inspired by a 19th century ideology of progressivism that reduces all standards to relativism. But it also borrows heavily – what a comment on the history of ideas! – from the failed Communist and socialist theory that fell in on itself in 1990 with the sudden crash of one of the greatest and most cruel pipedreams in the history of governance.

But the self-evident nature of the Fast and Furious guns smuggling scandal, the Benghazi fiasco and martyrdoms, the IRS persecutions and their discrediting of government institutions, the NSA’s perceived overreach and threat of Big Brother, Eric Holder’s star-chamber pursuit of newsmen, the Secret Service’s corruption and mishaps, the Ebola muckup and threat of epidemic – all are in large part the failure to tend to detail.

One of the more inane criticisms, by Republicans as well as their opponents, is that the GOP did not offer large package proposals to solve all problems in the current midterm election campaign. In the first place there are no such remedies. Nothing has so led the Obama Administration into disasters as its so-called comprehensive solutions, whether Obamacare or its Mideast strategy. Their corollary of comprehensive solutions, that compromise is always best, is also belied by history – whether Dred Scott or the 1935 Neutrality Act.


Are Britons ready to be “disrupted”? Prepared to submit to Theresa May’s totalitarian impulse? The Home Secretary has proposed even more stringent controls on the freedom of speech.

We’ve all seen in the newspapers and on blog sites those cardboard signs carried by maddened, sweaty, screaming Muslims in London and elsewhere on which are scrawled, Freedom of Speech Go to Hell. But now that same sign is being brandished by a political milquetoast, Theresa May, Britain’s Home Secretary. John Bingham’s report in The Telegraph of October 31st, “Sharia law or gay marriage critics would be branded ‘extremists’ under Tory plans, atheists and Christians warn,” is disturbing, to say the least.

Anyone who criticizes Sharia law or gay marriage could be branded an “extremist” under sweeping new powers planned by the Conservatives to combat terrorism, an alliance of leading atheists and Christians fear. Theresa May, the Home Secretary, unveiled plans last month for so-called Extremism Disruption Orders, which would allow judges to ban people deemed extremists from broadcasting, protesting in certain places or even posting messages on Facebook or Twitter without permission…..

But George Osborne, the Chancellor, has made clear in a letter to constituents that the aim of the orders would be to “eliminate extremism in all its forms” and that they would be used to curtail the activities of those who “spread hate but do not break laws”. He explained that that the new orders, which will be in the Conservative election manifesto, would extend to any activities that “justify hatred” against people on the grounds of religion, sexual orientation, gender or disability.

This particular milquetoast – let us dub her Mother Theresa – is proposing out-and-out, blanket censorship which she would enforce with the heavy hand of the police, the courts, and the slimy accusations of informants and those whose “feelings” have been hurt. “I want” figures prominently in her speech. She delivered her speech, in contrast to the chanting and ranting of Muslims who also inform us that Sharia will dominate Britain (and the West), at a Conservative/Tory Party conference in typical wallflower style, from a printed text at the podium (well, at least she didn’t use a teleprompter), with less charisma than Barbara “Let’s go walkies!” Woodhouse giving advice on how to train one’s dogs. Here she condemned “extremists” of all breeds as possibly infected with rabies and she let it be known that they should all “sit” and “heel” and “stay” in their own speech lest they be served with the blackjack of an “Extremism Disruption Order” (EDO) and isolated in a kennel.