“Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.” The White Queen was responding to Alice’s disbelief as to her alleged age. In today’s world, with its unfunded (or poorly funded) pensions, we are asked by corporate CEOs, union leaders, politicians and pension fund trustees to believe another impossible thing – that everything is hunky-dory in the world of pension and health obligations to retirees. Additionally, they seem blasé about the achievability of 8% per annum growth, when calculating expected returns.

Nevertheless, it is possible that a crack has appeared in that veneer. Congress may be concerned. Buried in the spending bill just passed by Congress and signed by the President was a provision that would permit benefit cuts for retirees in multi-employer pension plans. It is true that multi-employer pension plans represent only a small percentage of plans covered by the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp. (PBGC), but the news is welcome for anyone concerned with fiscal responsibility. There are an estimated 1,400 multi-employer plans in the U.S., covering about 10 million people. Such plans, which can be carried from one employer to another, are common in industries such as construction, trucking and mining, where employees are typically members of a local union that, in turn, is part of a national one. The plans are jointly managed by unions and employers. The plans are guaranteed by the PBGC, and therein lies the rub. The PBGC, in its annual report, noted that its projected long-term deficit for multi-employer plans had widened to $42 billion from $36 billion a year earlier, despite hefty returns to stock and bond markets.

While the provision will certainly be challenged by affected pensioners, it is also possible that this may be a prelude to addressing all pension obligations, and acknowledging that more realistic return assumptions must be used. Take, for example, Social Security. It is common knowledge that, in its current form, it is not sustainable. Thirty-one years ago, President Reagan and House Speaker Tip O’Neill, in order to avert its insolvency, collaborated in getting the retirement age raised gradually from 65 to 67. Today, if the President and Congress were able to introduce means testing, change the calculation for CPI and raise the retirement age from 67 to 70, the program would remain viable. If they do not, it will not.


The European Union has taken another step, in what it apparently hopes will facilitate the Islamist dream to annihilate the Jewish State of Israel. This step was taken by The General Court of the European Union in Luxembourg, on Wednesday, by removing the Muslim Brotherhood’s Gaza branch, Hamas, from its terrorist designated organization, thus legitimizing a barbaric terrorist group that when allowed, acts like ISIS.

The Court, in a press release on December 17, 2014, announced it accepted Hamas contention that the decision to designate it as a terrorist group in 2001, was “based not on acts examined and confirmed in decisions of competent authorities but on factual imputations derived from the press and the Internet.”

The court includes a stay on this ruling for a period of three months, in order to allow the European Commission or any of the 28 EU members to file an appeal against the ruling. If no one objects, Hamas can be openly funded and armed to resume its attacks against Israel.

The court’s decision came just days after Hamas celebrated its 27th year, with thousands of armed terrorist marching in Gaza, reaffirming their Charter, “‘The Day of Judgment will not come about until Moslems fight Jews and kill them. Then, the Jews will hide behind rocks and trees, and the rocks and trees will cry out: ‘O Moslem, there is a Jew hiding behind me, come and kill him.’ (Article 7).”

Eager to appease Islamists, the EU court overlooked the fact that Hamas will not be satisfied by only killing the Jews and destroying Israel. But that Hamas’s agenda is to force Islam as the only way of life and the Koran as the constitution,” until Islam is the way of life everywhere in the globe.” This, if the European haven’t noticed, includes Europe.

If one considers the growing influence of the Muslim Brotherhood, Iran and Qatar on European governments and treasuries, increased radicalization of millions of Muslims in the Continent, submission to sharia, and promise for more Arab funding and Iranian business to struggling European economies, and centuries old anti-Semitism, this decision should not be surprising.

From Autonomy to Sovereignty: The Oslo Agreements and Palestinian Statehood by Moshe Dann….see note please

The origin of the concept of “autonomy” is actually the text of the Camp David accords, when Menachem Begin acceded to the barking demands of Anwar Sadat and promised “autonomy” to the Arab residents of Judea and Samaria….rsk
Although Abbas’s demand for statehood is an abrogation of the Oslo Agreements, thus releasing Israel from its contractual obligations, the government of Israel seems unwilling.
As more EU countries recognize a “State of Palestine” and PA President Mahmoud Abbas appeals for UN recognition, and the government of Israel is under pressure to acquiesce, attention has turned to prime minister Yitzhak Rabin’s speech (October 5, 1995) when, seeking Knesset approval for the Interim Agreement (known as Oslo II), he said that he envisioned an independent, autonomous “Palestinian entity, not a state.”

What Rabin had in mind, however, is not clear and explicit in the documents he signed. Ambiguity about what was meant and how it was to work has created much confusion and misunderstanding.

Understandably, both sides feel betrayed; assumptions and expectations remain unfulfilled. The Oslo Agreements were the beginning of a slippery slide into ever-increasing, perhaps inevitable frustration.

According to an authoritative source, Rabin did not speak about or support a Palestinian state; neither he, nor Shimon Peres, both of whom were intimately involved in writing the Oslo Agreements, intended them to be the foundation for a sovereign Palestinian state.

That idea was first presented in the road map (2003) to which prime minister Ariel Sharon agreed: “Israeli leadership issues unequivocal statement affirming its commitment to the two-state vision of an independent, viable, sovereign Palestinian state.”

The subtle but all-important insertion of a single word changed the course of the Oslo Agreement and the “peace process.”


They really, really hate us. George Orwell wrote a morning “Two Minutes Hate” session into the daily life of his dystopia in 1984. One blogger notes that 2,000 of Rachel Maddow’s facebook fans wished that Ted Cruz would fall into an open elevator shaft. What would he have made of the hyperventilating hatred that liberals display against conservatives? Over at National Review, Katherine Timpf reports on a hate manifesto published by the chair of University of Michigan’s Department of Communications. Republicans “crafted a political identity that rests on a complete repudiation of the idea that the opposing party and its followers have any legitimacy at all.” wrote Prof. Susan Douglas. “So now we hate them back,” she explains. “And with good reason.”

In fact, they have their reasons to hate us. They are being silly. We know they are being silly, and they know we know, and they can’t stand it. It isn’t quite how we repudiate the idea that the opposing party has any legitimacy at all. But we can’t stop giggling.

“Reductio ad absurdum” does not begin to characterize the utter silliness of liberals, whose governing dogma holds that everyone has a right to invent their own identity. God is dead and everything is permitted, Zarathustra warned; he should have added that everything is silly. When we abhor tradition, we become ridiculous, because we lack the qualifications to replace what generation upon generation of our ancestors built on a belief in revelation and centuries of trial and error. Conservatives know better. G.K. Chesterton said it well: “Tradition means giving votes to the most obscure of all classes, our ancestors. It is the democracy of the dead. Tradition refuses to submit to the small and arrogant oligarchy of those who merely happen to be walking about.”

The antics of the “small and arrogant oligarchy” that controls the temples of liberal orthodoxy have turned into comic material that Monty Python couldn’t have dreamed up a generation ago. There are now dozens of prospective genders, at least according to the gender studies departments at elite universities. What do the feminists of Wellesley College do, for example, when its women become men? The problem is that no-one quite knows what they have become, as a recent New York Times Magazine feature complained:

Nigeria Teeters on the Brink: 8 Terrifying Trends By Patrick Poole

For much of its five-year long insurgency in Nigeria costing thousands of lives, Boko Haram enjoyed no sanction by the U.S. government. That changed just over a year ago when they were finally designated a terrorist organization [1] by the State Department.

That notwithstanding, Boko Haram continues to expand its terror campaign across the north of the country, now controlling an area the size of Maryland.

On the other side of the conflict is the hapless administration of President Goodluck Jonathan, which so far has been unable to mount any substantive opposition to Boko Haram’s advance. With presidential elections looming in February [2] and with Jonathan most likely running for reelection, there appears to be no effective political counterweight that can put Nigeria on a course to mount a counter-offensive against Boko Haram.

The strategic stakes involved for the U.S. are extraordinary, but you would never be able to gauge that from the absence of any alarm from the Obama administration or from either side of the aisle in Congress. Not only does Nigeria have the continent’s largest population at 173 million and the largest economy in Africa [3], it also is the 10th largest oil producer [4] in the world.

With a failed Libyan state (thanks in no small part to the Obama administration), Egypt — the world’s largest Arab country — fighting its own counterinsurgency in the Sinai, and Islamist insurgencies inflamed from Nigeria to Kenya, the loss of Nigeria to jihadists could be the tipping point to lose the whole of Africa.

With those factors in mind, here are eight disturbing trends that warrant immediate attention for Nigeria’s fight against Boko Haram.

What Part of Keeping Cuba Isolated Has Not ‘Worked’? By Andrew C. McCarthy

The Obama talking point being repeated by the administration’s note-takers in the media is that it makes sense for the president to try a different approach on Cuba because the policy of isolating the dictatorship has not “worked.” Naturally, what is meant by “worked” is not stated.

I’m trying to figure out what exactly the supposed flaw has been in the policy of isolating a brutal regime diplomatically and imposing a trade embargo on it – one that is a lot more like a screen than a wall – in order to pressure it to reform.

American presidents have vast foreign policy powers and plenary control over which regimes the United States recognizes and conducts diplomatic relations with. The Cuban embargo, by contrast, was established by statute and can only be repealed by Congress. Thus, it has many times been repeated over the last 24 hours that, in reestablishing diplomatic relations, President Obama has gone as far as he can on his own – the rest being up to lawmakers.


Several laws control the embargo. Among the most recent is the 1992 Cuban Democracy Act (codified in Chapter 69 of Title 22, U.S. Code). Section 6005 of the law outlines sanctions imposed against Cuba – the qualified blockade, prohibition on some financial transactions, and limitation on remittances.

But then there is Section 6007, the waiver provision. This tells us that, while it is true that it would require an act of Congress to repeal the restrictions on Cuba, no legislation is necessary to ignore the restrictions. The act empowers the president to do that on his own. All he needs to do is represent to Congress that the Cuban government


Martha E. McSally is a retired United States Air Force colonel. She was the first American woman to fly in combat since the 1991 lifting of the prohibition of women in combat, flying the A-10 over Iraq. She was defeated in her first run for Congress in 2012 by Democrat Ron Barber.

These were the main issues that drove her campaign:

I wore the uniform to serve and make a difference and I am running for Congress to continue that service in DC. This election is going to be about the economy, government overreach, national security, and leadership.

Enacting Patient-Centered Health Care Reform

Our health care system has been broken for a long time, but the president’s health care law is not the solution to fix it. In some cases, it is making matters worse. Because of Obamacare, families I’ve talked with are paying higher premiums, facing reduced choices, and losing insurance they liked and the doctors they’ve known and trusted for years. Small business owners are being buried under piles of new paperwork and letting workers go, while many hourly workers are seeing their hours cut. Doctors are spending more time doing paperwork and compliance than treating patients, and students are no longer incentivized to become doctors, exacerbating the current shortage for the future. This law isn’t working for Southern Arizonans, and we should replace it with a bipartisan solution that puts families first and tackles the greatest flaws in our health care system.

Economy: Families in our community are barely getting by, small businesses are struggling to survive, and Davis-Monthan is at risk of closing. My opponent was asleep at the wheel on the risk to DM until I alerted him in an August 27th, 2013 op-ed. Supporting small businesses and growing good paying jobs is critical to our area and is a top priority of mine. We need a representative in Congress who is going to champion solutions and policies that bring economic growth to Southern Arizona.

Government Overreach: So many people in Southern Arizona have been hurt by Obamacare, Ron Barber supports it. We need common sense solutions to bring down the cost of healthcare so it is more affordable and available, not social engineering founded on mandates, taxes, and penalties. Every dollar that is taken from a small business is a dollar that doesn’t go to new equipment, more employees or raises. Every regulation requires more and more paperwork and it is drowning our job creators. I am running to roll back these and other stifling government intrusions.

National Security: America is facing an increasing array of threats to our security and way of life and we must ensure we have a military that is trained and equipped to protect us. This district contains two critical military bases, a large stretch of the border that is not secure, and 85,000 veterans, as well as citizens who care deeply about the lack of leadership in DC on national security, defense, and support to veterans. I served 26 years in the military, retiring as a full Colonel, and I have the experience and proven leadership to provide oversight to the Administration to defend America.

Leadership: Washington is broken. People are rightfully fed up with politicians and incumbents. We need servant leadership more than ever, focused on what is best for the country and community, instead of worrying about their next election. I am ready to bring to Congress the core values I learned in the Air Force; service, excellence, and integrity. It’s time for a fresh face with a proven record of leadership to solve the challenges we face and put Southern Arizona First.


PHOENIX (AP) — Republicans will have their largest U.S. House majority in 83 years when the new Congress convenes next month after a recount in Arizona gave the final unresolved midterm race to a Republican challenger.

Retired Air Force Col. Martha McSally won a House seat over Democratic incumbent Ron Barber by 167 votes out of nearly 220,000 cast, according to results released Wednesday.

Barber was district director for Rep. Gabrielle Giffords when he and the congresswoman were wounded in a mass shooting at apolitical event in Tucson in January 2011. Barber then won a special election to fill out the remainder of Giffords’ term after she stepped down in early 2012. He went on to defeat McSally in that year’s general election to win a full term in Congress, in a race separated by fewer than 2,500 votes.

Barber said he wouldn’t contest the results and that he called McSally to congratulate her. “I want her to be successful because the people of southern Arizona deserve that,” he said.

McSally said it was time to unite after a long campaign battle and that she plans to focus on economic development and border security. “These things are not politically charged, and really it’s where the majority of people that I talk to, where they want my focus to be,” she said. “So my intent is to represent them on the things that unite us and not the things that divide us.”

Cyberwarfare – the Economy and Our right to Free Expression By Rachel Ehrenfeld

Vulnerable cyber communications are fast becoming the preferred Weapon of Mass Effect (WME), the safest venue to attack the U.S. economy, national security, and even the right to free expression.

Sony’s recent hacking and publication of its files, allegedly by North Korean hackers, has meant heavy short- and long-term damage to the company. Moreover, it has intimidated Sony’s executives into first, toning down “The Interview,” a film describing the fictional assassination of Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un, and today, to canceling the release of the film on Christmas day.

The latest threat of physical damage like the 9/11 attacks by the unidentified hackers, have intimidated Sony’s management enough to to announce “We are deeply saddened at this brazen effort to suppress the distribution of a movie, and in the process do damage to our company, our employees, and the American public.” And while declaring: “We stand by our filmmakers and their right to free expression,” they attempt to distance themselves from their submission to the hackers demand to stop the screening, saying, “we are extremely disappointed by this outcome.”

This hacking, as JP Morgan Chase, the Las Vegas Sands, and other major business, government, and infrastructure cyber attacks could have been prevented, or mitigated, by implementing superior cybersecurity systems. Indeed, the escalation in cyberattacks highlights the sorry state of cybersecurity of American based companies.

We have been are under attack by hackers — state sponsored terrorists, organized criminal groups and individuals for years. Yet the government and the private sector alike have failed to secure our communications, exposing our personal and national secrets, costing untold economic damage to individuals, companies and to our national security,

Lawless Judge, Lawless President He Rules Against Obama, but he too is Flouting the Constitution. By Andrew C. McCarthy

Americans alarmed by Obama-administration lawlessness were further demoralized by last week’s “cromnibus” debacle. First, the Republican-controlled House voted to fund the government for the next year, surrendering its power of the purse as a check on the president’s excesses. Then, in what appears to have been part sympathy for Obama’s non-enforcement of the immigration laws and part fit of pique at having to work over the weekend, an astounding 20 Republican senators joined all the Democrats in rejecting a challenge to the president’s blatantly lawless decree of effective amnesty for millions of illegal aliens — a constitutional challenge spearheaded by Senators Ted Cruz (R., Tex.) and Mike Lee (R., Utah) that, shamefully, drew only 22 Republican supporters.

Conservatives are feeling angry and betrayed after working hard to give Republicans a runaway victory in last month’s midterm elections. It is only natural, then, that we were heartened by Tuesday’s news: A federal court in Pittsburgh ruled that Obama’s amnesty decree is unconstitutional.

We should disenthrall ourselves. This ruling, rendered in a 38-page opinion by district judge Arthur J. Schwab, is as rogue an exercise as the executive usurpation that prompted it.

At bottom, the case before the court, United States v. Elionardo Juarez-Escobar, has nothing to do with President Obama’s amnesty decree. It is a criminal case involving an illegal alien who pled guilty to reentering our country sometime after being deported in late 2005. (Reentry after deportation is a felony.) The only issue before Judge Schwab at this point is the determination of a sentence of incarceration. The case does not involve deportation, which is a civil proceeding. It is to deportation that Obama’s amnesty decree pertains — specifically, to categories of illegal aliens for whom deportation is to be deferred.