Publicado: 12-09-2011 12:26 PM
Africa reacts to Obama's pro-gay rights foreign policy with ire
By Mike Pflanz
Most of Africa's 54 nations ban homosexuality, so President Obama's promotion of gay rights as a human right draws quick ire from African governments
AIROBI— (TCSM) The enshrinement of equal rights for homosexuals into US foreign policy activities has drawn quick ire from African nations, with one senior figure saying the notion is "abhorrent" across the continent.
President Obama has instructed officials across government to "ensure that US diplomacy and foreign assistance promote and protect the human rights of lesbian, gay, and transgender persons" around the world.
Under the move, legal, moral, and financial support will be boosted for gay rights organizations, emergency assistance will be sent to groups or individuals facing threats, and asylum in the US will be offered to people forced to flee anti-gay persecution in their countries, Mr. Obama said.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton outlined the new focus in a speech marking international human rights day in Geneva Tuesday night.
Calling discrimination of homosexual and transgender people "one of the remaining human rights challenges of our time," Secretary Clinton said "gay rights are human rights, and human rights are gay rights."
"It is violation of human rights when people are beaten or killed because of their sexual orientation, or because they do not conform to cultural norms about how men and women should look or behave," she said. "It is a violation of human rights when governments declare it illegal to be gay, or allow those who harm gay people to go unpunished."
John Nagenda, a senior adviser to Uganda's president Yoweri Museveni, told The Christian Science Monitor that this view would be "anathema" to most African nations.
"I don't like her tone, at all," he said.
"I'm amazed she's not looking to her own country and lecturing them first, before she comes to say these things which she knows are very sensitive issues in so many parts of the world, not least Africa.
"Homosexuality here is taboo, it's something anathema to Africans, and I can say that this idea of Clinton's, of Obama's, is something that will be seen as abhorrent in every country on the continent that I can think of."
Almost all of Africa's 54 nations ban homosexuality. Uganda drew opprobrium from across the West last year when a bill was tabled in parliament that would have imposed the death penalty for what was termed "aggravated homosexuality." The bill has since been shelved, but being found to be gay still risks a maximum 14-year jail sentence and Amnesty International has reported arbitrary arrests and torture of suspected gay people in Uganda.
More recently, Nigeria's Senate last week agreed a proposed law banning same SX marriages, again imposing 14-year jail terms for people found guilty, and adding a 10-year sentence for anyone who helps homosexuals marry.
Writing in Nigeria's Tribune newspaper Thursday, columnist Leon Usigbe wrote that the new US gay rights policy would provoke a "significant diplomatic confrontation" between Washington and Africa's most populous country.
"Diplomatic sources hinted on Wednesday that the timing of the Obama presidential order was too closely tied to the recent passing of a bill by the Senate banning same SX marriage and relationships," Usigbe said.
State Department officials say the timing of the announcement, on Tuesday, was more to do with it being international human rights day than any sudden external impetus.
But in Kenya, influential church leaders immediately condemned the idea that lesbian, gay, and transgender people deserved extra support to achieve equal rights.
"We don't believe in advancing the rights of gays," said Oliver Kisaka, deputy general secretary of the National Council of Churches of Kenya.
"G0d did not make a mistake; [being gay] is that person's own perception. Those who live as gays need help to live right and we should not be supporting them to live in a wrong reality.
"Society should reach out to gays and transgender people to help them out of their situation. They have not ceased to be God's children and no one is a gone case."
Such strident views will draw widespread support in Kenya, and across Africa, but there is some indication that the situation is changing.
Last year, Rwanda's justice minister, Tharcisse Karugarama, confirmed that there were no plans to criminalize homosexuality there, after fears that a law similar to Uganda's was in the offing.
South Africa, where gay rights are entrenched in the post-apartheid Constitution, took the lead by introducing a resolution to the UN's Human Rights Council in June that recognized the need to protect the rights of LGBT people around the world. It was passed by 23 votes to 19, with most African and Arab nations opposing or dissenting.
In her speech, Secretary Clinton was not unaware of the debate her comments would provoke. But she referred to earlier campaigns on women's rights and the fight for racial and religious equality as battles already won from which gay people worldwide could draw strength.
"Step by step, barriers that once prevented people from enjoying the full measure of liberty, the full experience of dignity, and the full benefits of humanity have fallen away," she said.
It will take a long time for that view to percolate down to the majority of Africans, says John Nagenda, the Ugandan presidential adviser.
"A very, very slowly increasing number of Ugandans, and I am one of them, see homosexuals as full human beings who can do what they like in private, between consenting adults," he said.
"But people look at me like I am a very funny fish when I say these things, even in my own household, such is the way that these things are looked at on this continent."
Publicado: 12-10-2011 12:33 PM
Obama Gets Real (Peter Schiff on Obama's history stories)
afe Haven ^ | December 9, 2011 | Peter Schiff
For most of his time as a national political figure, Barack Obama has been careful to cloak his core socialist leanings behind a veil of pro-capitalist rhetoric. This makes strategic sense, as Americans still largely identify as pro-capitalist. However, based on his recent speech in Osawatomie, Kansas, the President appears to have reassessed the political landscape in advance of the 2012 elections. Based on the growth of the Occupy Wall Street movement, and the recent defeat of Republicans in special elections, he has perhaps sensed a surge of left-leaning sentiment; and, as a result, he finally dropped the pretense.
According to our President's new view of history, capitalism is a theory that has "never worked." He argues that its appeal can't be justified by results, but its popularity is based on Americans' preference for an economic ideology that "fits well on a bumper sticker." He feels that capitalism speaks to the flaws in the American DNA, those deeply rooted creation myths that elevate the achievements of individuals and cast unwarranted skepticism on the benefits of government. He argues that this pre-disposition has been exploited by the rich to popularize policies that benefit themselves at the expense of the poor and middle class.
But Obama's knowledge of history is limited to what is written on his teleprompter. And his selection of the same location that Teddy Roosevelt used to chart an abrupt departure into populist politics is deeply symbolic in the opposite way to that which he intended. It is not by some genetic fluke that Americans distrust government. It is an integral and essential part of our heritage.
The United States was founded by people who distrusted government intensely and was subsequently settled, over successive generations, by people fleeing the ravages of government oppression. These Americans relied on capitalism to quickly build the greatest economic power the world had ever seen - from nothing.
But according to Obama's revisionist version of American history, we tried capitalism only briefly during our history. First, during the Robber Barron period of the late 19th Century, the result of which was child labor and unprecedented lower-class poverty. These ravages were supposedly only corrected by the progressive policies of Teddy Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson. We tried capitalism again in the 1920s, according to Obama, and the result was the Great Depression. This time, it allegedly took FDR's New Deal to finally slay that capitalist monster.
Then, the account only gets more farcical. Apparently, we tried capitalism again under George W. Bush, and the result was the housing bubble, financial crisis, and ensuing Great Recession. Obama now argues that government is needed once again to save the day.
This view is complete fiction and proves that Obama is not qualified to teach elementary school civics, let alone serve as President of the United States. I wonder what other economic system he believes we followed prior to the 1890s and 1920s (and during the 1950s and 1960s) that that he now seeks to restore? Capitalism did not start with J.P. Morgan in 1890s or John D. Rockefeller in the 1920s as the President suggests. In fact, it was about that time that capitalism came under attack by the progressives. We were born and prospered under capitalism.
Publicado: 12-10-2011 12:34 PM
The Great Depression did not result from unbridled capitalism, but from the monetary policy of the newly created Federal Reserve and the interventionist economic policies of both Hoover and Roosevelt - policies that were decidedly un-capitalist.
The prosperity enjoyed during mid-20th century actually resulted from the incredible progress produced by years of capitalism. Contrary to Obama's belief, the New Deal and Great Society did not create the middle class; it was, in fact, a direct result of the capitalist industrial revolution. The socialist programs of which Obama is so fond are the reasons why the middle class has been shrinking. America's economic descent began in the 1960s, when we abandoned capitalism in favor of a mixed economy.
By mixing capitalism with socialism, we undermined economic growth, and reversed much of the progress years of laissez-faire had bestowed on average Americans. The back of the middle class is being broken by the weight of government and the enormous burden taxes and regulation place on the economy.
America's first experiment with socialism, the Plymouth Bay Colony, ended in failure, and our most successful colonies - New York, Virginia, Massachusetts - were begun primarily as commercial enterprises. When the founding fathers gathered to write the Constitution, they represented capitalist states and granted the federal government severely limited powers.
Apparently, Obama thinks our founders' mistrust of government was delusional, and that we were fortunate that far wiser groups of leaders eventually corrected those mistakes. The danger, as Obama sees it, is that some Republicans actually want to reverse course and adopt the failed ideas espoused by great American fools like George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, and Benjamin Franklin.
The President unknowingly illustrated his own contradictory thinking with the importance he now places on extending the temporary payroll tax cuts. If all that stands between middle-class families and abject poverty is a small tax cut, imagine how much damage the far more massive existing tax burden already inflicts on those very households! If Obama really wants to relieve middle-class taxpayers of this burden, he needs to reduce the cost of government by cutting spending. After all, there is no way to pay for all the government programs Obama wants by simply by taxing the rich.
History has proven time-and-again that capitalism works and socialism does not.
Taking money from the rich and redistributing it to the poor does not grow the economy. On the contrary, it reduces the incentives of both parties. It lowers savings, destroys capital, limits economic growth, and lowers living standards. Maybe Obama should take his eyes off the teleprompter long enough to read some American history. In fact, he could start by reading the Constitution that he swore an oath to uphold.
12-12-2011 01:23 PM - editado 12-12-2011 01:44 PM
60 Minutes of one deluded president
President Obama’s appearance last night on “60 Minutes” confirms how severely out of touch he is with political reality. He has become entirely predictable, and his insincerity is unrestrained.
There is the phony familiarity, a strained attempt to bond with working-class voters he’s lost. We therefore have an epidemic of missing “g’s”: He tells Steve Kroft: “Look, the — everybody’s at — concerned about inequality. Those folks in there, who were listenin’ to the speech, those are teachers and small-business people, and probably some small-town bankers, who are in there thinking to themselves, ‘How is it that I, we’re workin’ so hard,’ and meanwhile, they know that corporate profits are at a record level, that a lot of folks are doin’ very well. What’s happened to the bargain? What’s happened to the American deal that says, you know, we are focused on building a strong middle class?” I am ready to bet the farm he didn’t talk that way at Harvard.
We passed self-aggrandizement a year or so ago and now have a fabulist in chief. “You know, we did all the right things to prevent a Great Depression and to get the economy growing again and to get job creation going again.” (Everything was right. No mistakes. No misspent money or missed opportunities.) Really, were we heading toward 25 percent unemployment when he arrived? Was it he or President George W. Bush (and the hated TARP) that stabilized the financial sector? Oh no, he’s the heroic figure in this tale, and he’s got his list to prove it:
Not only saving this country from a Great Depression. Not only saving the auto industry. But putting in place a system in which we’re gonna start lowering health care costs and you’re never gonna go bankrupt because you get sick or somebody in your family gets sick. Makin’ sure that we have reformed the financial system, so we never again have taxpayer-funded bailouts and the system is more stable and ssecure.
This is daft. Health-care costs are going up, and there is no sign Obamacare can or will bend the cost curve down. President Bush, for better or worse, undertook the auto bailout process. Dodd-Frank is going to make sure we never, ever have to rescue another company from failing? This is fiction, fantasy, actually.
More non-facts: “Steve, the math is the math. You can’t lower rates and raise revenue, unless you’re getting revenue from someplace else. Now, either it’s comin’ from middle class families or poor families or it’s comin’ from folks like you and me that can afford to pay a little more.” Sen. Pat Toomey’s plan did get more revenue by closing loopholes and limiting deductions, the revenue from which was greater than that lost by lowering rates. Is he confused? Misinformed? Or just makin’ stuff up?
The refusal to accept responsibility is quite startling:
Kroft: You’re being judged now on your performance.
Obama: No, no, no. I’m being judged against the ideal. And, you know, Joe Biden has a good expression. He says — “Don’t judge me against the Almighty, judge me against the alternative.”
I don’t recall a president who has ever been more desperate to shift blame and evade his own record.
There is the assertion that his opponents act out of bad faith: “Steve, here’s the thing. As long as unemployment rate is too high and people are feeling under the gun, day in, day out, ’cause their bills are goin’ up, and their wages and incomes aren’t. Or they’re out of a job. They’re gonna feel unsatisfied. I mean, there’s no secret to this. If I can’t get Republicans to move, partly because they’ve made a political, strategic decision that says, ‘Anything Obama’s for, we’re against, ‘cause that’s our best chance of winning an election.’ But, keep in mind, I’m talking about Republican members of Congress. I’m not talking about Republicans around the country.”
But didn’t the GOP plead with him to work on tax and entitlement reform? Did he ever get behind his own bipartisan Simpson-Bowles debt commission? Did he lift a finger to lead the supercommittee? It’s 24/7 excuses and accusations now from him.
Apparent also is the nonstop deception (or self-deception) about well-known political facts. He claims “there’s not a general perception that the stimulus didn’t work.” Umm. Do they hide the polls and newspapers from him over there at the White House? ’Cause if he would be readin’ instead of makin’ excuses and tryin’ to snow us, he might be better off. Just sayin’.
His task, of course, is to convince Americans that he’s done so well on the economy that he deserves a second term. So he tells us, “ I didn’t overpromise. And I didn’t underestimate how tough this was gonna be. I always believed that this was a long-term project. That reversing a culture here in Washington, dominated by special interests, it was gonna take more than a year. It was gonna take more than two years. It was gonna take more than one term. Probably takes more than one president.” That might seem strange to those who remember him telling us unemployment wouldn’t get over 8 percent if the stimulus passed. It would be odd if you looked at his own fanciful figures on projected growth and all those “created and saved jobs.” It almost makes you forget the “recovery summer.”
Candidly, it’s a little freaky to have a president operating so far afield from reality. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie last week joked that, like the base runner tagging second, a pol only has to be “in the neighborhood” of truth. Obama isn’t even in sight of it.
Certainly a minimally skilled opponent, you are thinking, should be able to point this out to voters in the 2012 election. Well, it’s safe to say that only by picking an untrustworthy, extreme and/or inept nominee could the Republicans blow the 2012 election. And they just might do it.
Publicado: 12-13-2011 09:53 PM
By Jamie Glazov On December 13, 2011 In Daily Mailer,FrontPage
Frontpage Interview’s guest today is Leon Weinstein, the author of the new book, Capitalism 101.
FP: Leon Weinstein, welcome to FrontPage Interview.
Let’s begin with your background. Tell us about your life in Russia and how you ended up here in America. It was almost impossible to get out of the Soviet Union at the time you left (1974), how did you manage to get out?
Weinstein: In 1972-73 the Soviet Union experienced yet another shortage of food. “Deficits” of food and everything else is a typical thing for the socialist regimes on their advanced stages when all means of production are in the hands of the states. The Soviets came to the US and asked to loan them about one million tons of wheat. The US Congress approved the deal with a little provision that demanded from the Soviets to allow at least some limited emigration. About fifty thousand people got out of the “prison of nations”, as we called it. I was lucky to be among those first ones. You may consider me as one of the few who know their own price tag. If you would divide one million tons of wheat by fifty thousand emigrants, you will see that I was exchanged for twenty tons of wheat. Not a bad price! I doubt however that you can return me back. First of all, there is no Soviet Union any more, and second – I probably worth much less by now.
FP: How different was life in the USSR from the free world? Tell us about your observations and your intellectual journey.
Weinstein: We lived in a constant state of fear and apprehension. Be it at school, university or at work place, we had to be silent about our real views; we were unable to voice our opinions in public and even were not sure we can openly talk with our close friends in private. We knew that our mail could be opened or our phone conversations could be listened to. If you were suspected in a slightest dissent, you would not advance at work or you could be expelled from your place of study. And if you would become really vocal about your anti-government views, you could end up in jail or a labor camp, and your family, including distant relatives, would be thrown from their jobs. This is why we admired people whom you call “refusniks” – they were saying openly what we all were thinking but where afraid to say ourselves.
In the United States you have this unbelievable luxury of freedom that most of the world can only dream about. In a very short period of time the citizens of this great country built a world that allowed most of the population to live a decent life without being afraid of the rulers. I do not believe any such society existed anywhere in the world during the sixty five hundred years of the recorded history of civilization.
I think it is very important to all of us to understand why this happened, what made this country flourish beyond belief. We need to fully understand this, cherish it and teach our children to love and preserve the country they were lucky to be born in.
FP: You are a theater director and playwright. Tell us what led you into this field. And what made you decide to write political articles?
Weinstein: I started writing stories when I was twelve. During high school years I was already writing dramas and attempting to stage them with my fellow students. In my college years I produced and directed plays, filmed short films and began to publish short stories. I graduated with a Master Degree in Performing Arts from the University of Culture of St. Petersburg. When I immigrated to Israel, I have organized an Educational Theater for Youth in Tel Aviv, wrote and directed plays for children, and continued with writings funny stories. In Israel I was twice nominated for “the best show of the year” award. After an article about my method of staging children’s shows appeared in the Los Angeles Times, I was invited to stage two of my own plays in the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts in New York and another one in the Los Angeles Theater Center (LATC) in Los Angeles. I loved it here, and when I received an offer to work in California for a TV/Radio production company I didn’t hesitate and accepted it.
My political writing started in 2008 when I saw a sudden shift in the mood of the country. The words that liberal wing of the Democratic Party began to throw into masses worried me. They talked about “equality of distribution,” about “fair share” and “rights of the working people”, and that resembled rhetoric used by socialists/communists elsewhere.
But socialism failed in any and every place it was ever attempted. Usually it failed with tragic results. Why would Americans want to repeat such a bloodthirsty experiment? I was always asking myself this question. And then it donned at me – many citizens of this country have no idea what it really means. And as a person who had the firsthand experiences in a different social system, I felt I had an obligation to share those experiences with them.
I started writing articles, open letters to politicians, and eventually wrote two books: one is an action-adventure in an Orwellian sstyle called “Looking for Hugh” and another is my recent non-fiction called “Capitalism 101.”
FP: So now you have published “Capitalism 101.” Tell us what it’s about. Is it a kind of college course in economics or sort of like a monograph on capitalism?
Weinstein: None of the above. It is the simplest and, I hope, most entertaining explanation of capitalism that you would ever read. The book is full of stories, anecdotes and personal experiences, and it gives the readers a very fundamental understanding of why one system called capitalism works and brings great results, and all others including socialism never worked and never will.
There is one unintended consequence of the book that I was told by its readers countless times. I wrote it in order to share with my fellow Americans my firsthand experiences in different political systems, but quite unexpectedly it came out as a book that shifts paradigms and changes the reader’s mind and attitude and allows him (her) to become a successful entrepreneur.
Hundreds of thousands of people read manuals and instructions on how to become rich, but they almost never apply what they learn. They get energized for a day, but don’t know what to do when a first roadblock appears. Then they read another book, go to some seminars or watch motivational videos – the same results. They get frustrated because nothing is working. They envy those who seem to turn everything they touch into gold. Is there an unfair advantage that achievers have? Yes, people who achieve their goals do it naturally. When a problem arises, they don’t have to consult with books.
The problem solving is within them. So, it looks like I wrote a book that challenges readers to obtain this ‘unfair’ advantage and become one of them.
FP: What do you love about America?
Weinstein: I love that the individual here is more important than a collective. This is unheard of in the Old World. I love opportunities. I love that anyone who works hard and has the right values can achieve success. I love that the middle class here lives like only royalty live in many countries. And I love people. They are good people. They will always give you a hand. This country has taught us emigrants to live and let live. The country taught us, emigrants, that if one wins, it’s not necessary for someone else to lose.
During my life in the USSR and then through all my travels around the world I’ve never seen what I often observe in this country: every time a group of emigrants celebrate something, one of the toasts they drink for is “For this blessed country, for our America!”
FP: What don’t you like about contemporary America?
Weinstein: I don’t like borders that are open to illegal immigrants, smugglers and terrorists. I don’t like educational institutions that have no competition and can’t fire or stimulate teachers, and stagnating because of that. I don’t like tenure in Universities. I don’t like Unions that force jobs out of the country. I don’t like minimum wages. I don’t like that Congress can take away any share of the money we, productive citizens earn, and imprison us if we don’t pay. I don’t like growing debt and inability of our government to slow this process down. I don’t like the fact that those who receive entitlements can vote and eventually will vote us into a socialist country. I don’t like politicians that want to fundamentally change this best country in the world …. I just started. Do you want me to continue? Or may be let’s talk about a bit less of an emotional issue?
FP: Your thoughts on Putin and the recent “elections” in Russia?
Weinstein: I met Putin in 1989 in St Petersburg, Russia. He was at that time an assistant to the Mayor of the city Anatoly Sobchak. I was visiting Russia and began to negotiate with Sobchak signing of the sister-city charter with Los Angeles. Putin was quiet, didn’t look into people’s eyes and spoke in an almost whisper. He was an embodiment of a KGB operative, and I remembered those folks quite well from my pre-emigration experiences. After our conversation I called my wife and said that if people like him will be coming back to power, I don’t want to deal with Russia anymore. Russia had her chance and was for a short period of time a free country. It is not free anymore. I think Putin likes the Chinese model of one party/one rule, at the same time allowing people to conduct private businesses but be silent politically.
FP: Do you miss living in Russia?
Weinstein: No. Absolutely no!
FP: Can you expand on the reasons why you do not miss living in Russia? Leaving one’s homeland comes with its painful price. There is so much beauty and warmness in Russia and in so many of its people, the relations between people, the literature, poetry, the richness in the Russian soul.
It is very painful to have suffered a disconnection from our roots, no? Even the tenderness of the Russian language reminds us of something to be cherished about Russia. Being displaced comes with its disorientation and hurtfulness.
What are your thoughts when I say refer to these realities? Or you are removed from these things and do not share the same feelings?
Weinstein: I left the USSR when I was twenty four years old. I just got an MA in Performing Arts and worked as an assistant director at a major film studio. As an independent filmmaker, I wrote, directed and produced several short films, staged a number of theatrical shows, participated as a co-director in an award winning theater production and (the riot!) two major theaters took my plays for their upcoming seasons.
I was the most accomplished 24-year-old young man I knew about. All my dreams were coming true. At this moment the US made the wheat-for-people deal with the Soviets that I mentioned earlier. There was a possibility to apply for an exit from the “socialist paradise” risking everything in your life – you would be fired from your job, passport revoked and you would be blacklisted for life. My mother was a teacher at school, my dad a scientist with an administrative pposition in his research center and my younger brother was just graduating from school and was risking to be drafted into the army immediately and as retaliation for our attempt to leave would spend three years at the Arctic Circle.
There were however no slightest doubt in our minds what we wanted to do. We risked everything and applied. We were lucky. We received our permit and left. Many of our friends didn’t.
That was then, you might say, and this is now. Nostalgia, culture, circle of friends…of course when you think about your earlier years you feel nostalgic. But it is a feeling for the time when you were young, first kiss, first love… first book, first success and failure. Those are powerful memories. But in my mind it has nothing to do with the Soviet Union or even Russian Federation if one were to call this country by its current name.
When I came back almost twenty years after my emigration I suddenly understood why God didn’t allow Jews who were born slaves to enter the promised land. The tribes were circling deserts for forty years and only after the last slave died did their journey came to an end. The people of Russia even today are slaves. They are slaves in their spirit and slaves in their relations to one another. They either treat others as servants or they behave like servants with those who in their opinion are richer or bigger or more powerful than they. I can’t stand it. I can’t stand it to the extent that I feel disgust when I am visiting Russia. Do not misunderstand me – there are plenty wonderful people who live there, but the general atmosphere, the accepted set of relations, makes me want to vomit.
FP: What are your thoughts on the Western Left in general?
Weinstein: When I lived in the USSR and we heard about the Western Left we thought that since everyone understood that socialism is terrible, and those people are not brain dead, then they are paid agents of communism. Right now I do not think anyone pays the Hollywood Elite to promote anti-capitalism and wealth re-distribution. Right now I think we were wrong in our assumption and they are truly stu..pid. Let me explain myself. They are not stu.pid from the point of view of two plus two is four. They know that. Most of them (I hope) are clever enough to understand that if you hit your finger with a hummer, you will feel pain. But they lack wisdom. They are not capable of looking a bit ahead and foresee consequences of the actions they advocate. In Russian we used to say “All their steam went into whistle.”
FP: Leon Weinstein, thank you for joining FrontPage Interview.
Any resemblance to the Cuban tragedy is not a mere coincidence.
"Those who ignore history are bound (or doomed) to repeat it" Jorge Santayana