Sunday, May 31, 2009

What Cuba needs

What Cuba needs
Paul Jacob
Sunday, May 31, 2009

A week or so ago, the Obama administration sent up a smoke signal. The administration appears willing to re-establish closer communications with the Cuban government. Across the hemisphere, there is increasing talk about letting Cuba into the Organization of American States.

Good? Bad? Indifferent? No matter. Whatever Barack or Raoul say has already been trumped by a joker in front of a camera, making faces.

A viral video is making the rounds in Latin America. You can find it on YouTube. It’s an interview with a man on the street, and another Cuban man walks up and steals the show. He points to his open mouth. In island slang he says he’s hungry, and that “what Cuba needs is food.”

Too many people blame America for Cubans’ hunger. In Latin America, the video is popular for that very reason. Further, the video is timely, since our government is now considering removing its embargo against Cuba, in place since 1962.

Feeling sorry for the Cubans is easy, of course. Even the man, hamming it up in the video, inspires sympathy. He is almost certainly right. Cuba needs food.

But we should all ask ourselves why Cuba needs food.

Would removing the embargo help?

Maybe.

But dropping the embargo should be done — or not — for reasons that have nothing to do with the “Cuba needs food” meme.

Think about it. Cuba can trade with the rest of the world. On a cash basis, Cuba can even trade with the United States. The U.S. has managed to become one of Cuba’s major trading partners, despite the embargo (or, at least because of its “loopholes”).

Cuba has plenty of opportunities to produce and purchase food. The trouble is: Cubans don’t.

The distinction is important. The main problem, as in most cases of major malfunctions on this planet, is with government.

Consider: The resorts in Cuba are well stocked with food. Canadians and Europeans and Arabs and others visiting the island don’t complain about a lack of food.

But the common folk do.

Why?

Well, Cubans suffer from a kind of apartheid. Everyday citizens get ration cards, and yet their food shelves are bare. Until fairly recently, most were not allowed to visit tourist beaches, shop at tourist supermarkets, or eat at tourist restaurants. They had to make do with the meager provisions they’ve been rationed by the benevolent hand of their much-lauded leaders. Meanwhile, the waiters, hotel maids, and musicians earned 30 times or more in the resorts than they would had they “worked” for the government. Like most Cubans.

So much for the abolition of the class system by Castro!

In a sense, the resorts are free trade zones, the kind of things we used to talk about in America 20 years ago. But Cuba is stuck on socialism, and any time you set up a free trade zone, it doesn’t take long to see the utility of spreading the zone out, to cover the whole country.

To feed Cubans, just one thing is needed: Freedom. That is, an end to socialistic apartheid. Allow trade in anything peaceful, starting with ration cards and tourist goods. Let markets spring up wherever people have goods to offer. The tourist apartheid just shows the superiority of trade to socialism. The socialist country needs trade — and dollars, which were legalized with the tourist industry — because socialism just doesn’t do what it’s supposed to. Can’t. It’s time to ’fess up to socialism’s failure, and allow markets to do what they do best: Feed the people, build civilization.

What Cuba needs is a new revolution. It’s the government that must change. This has little to do with the United States, and everything to do with the ruling family, the Castros. They should allow freedom. Or they should be gotten rid of.

There’s no reason to wait for the U.S. to come flying in, like some cargo cult concierge-in-chief.

It may be that were the U.S. to let free trade flower between the two nations, the growth of market activity would spur the population to oust the men who, now, make their lives such misery. There are good reasons why former Secretary of State George P. Shultz called the modern era’s longest running embargo “insane.” The embargo sure seems to have had the opposite effect to what was intended. Could it be keeping Cuba polarized against the U.S., and in that way helping Cuba’s tyrants maintain power?

Whatever we North Americanos can do or attempt to do, what Cuba needs remains obvious: An end to all vestiges of Communism, of the Castros, and of anything else — beginning with “c” or not — that prevents a return of private property and the rule of law.

It’s a pity that a video that could be used to such good effect against the Castro regime is being used (by some) against the United States. Not because we can’t take it, but because there is just no reason to let Cuba’s so-called leaders off the hook.

Copyright © 2009 Salem Web Network. All Rights Reserved.

If Obama Cares about the Poor, He Should Endorse English

If Obama Cares about the Poor, He Should Endorse English
Bruce Bialosky
Sunday, May 31, 2009

One of the baffling issues to me has been the argument by Democrats against making English the official language of the United States. President Obama displayed his commitment to Hispanic Americans by appointing Justice Sotomayor to the Supreme Court. If he really cares about immigrants and the poor, he would make English our official language and assure that all people learn to speak it in the United States.

I have had the good fortune of travelling to a vast part of the world. The people we encounter almost everywhere we have traveled speak English. I’m not referring only to hotel and restaurant personnel. When you stop people on the street, they also have a working knowledge of English. With the exception of two locations, we have had little or no difficulty speaking English only.

The first place was Japan, which was actually surprising. All Japanese are required to learn English in school. It was quite surprising to experience so little ability from the populace to speak even a modicum of English.

The other place is France. The French are still under the delusion that France is a significant country in the world, thus making their language important. Other than in France, the only other people speaking French are some in Belgium, some in Quebec and some in certain parts of Africa. English transitioned to the world’s official language with the Treaty of Versailles at the end of World War I. While the treaty was issued in both English and French, it was nevertheless the end of the French era on the world stage.

Since the Elizabethan era and the defeat of the Spanish Armada, English has spread throughout the world. The English created their empire; including winning control of what would become the United States. Up until World War I, the “empire that never sleeps” spread the English language to all corners of the globe. After World War I, the United States was on the ascension. The climb was completed with the Second World War, and the United States has remained the dominant country in the world.

It is worth noting that in addition to the English language dominating since that time, so too has our culture. American movies and television are shown in all parts of the world. Most countries broadcast these shows just like we see them here in the United States – in English. Except of course in France, where you will see Jack McCoy speaking French. Most of the world can sit in their living rooms around the globe and learn to communicate in English.

We were recently in Copenhagen at The Jazzhouse. The artists came on stage and spoke Danish to the crowd. We figured that it was jazz and that is a universal language so we would not miss a beat -- so to speak. Yet, this was a vocal group and they started to sing in English. Not just classic songs, but their own compositions. At the end of the set we chatted with the people next to us, in English, and asked why all the songs were sung in English. They told us all the groups sing in English because they find it a more expressive language. Also, they probably find it to be more commercially viable. To our joy the next group came on and sang all their songs in English also.

Yet here in the United States, we have had a discussion about whether we should force our immigrants to learn English. In California, as in some other states, we have created English as a Second Language (ESL) which did nothing but cripple the chances for students to learn effective English. Radical groups fought for the right against forcing people to learn English for the purpose of maintaining “their culture.”

I have never understood this. As someone who is linguistically challenged, I am thankful daily for the fact that I was born in a country that speaks the dominant language of the world. If French or German or Russian were the dominant language, I would be at a great disadvantage in both my travels and my business. Fortunately for me, the language into which I was born is the one shared by the rest of the world.

The question then becomes: Why would anyone who cares about people coming to the United States fight against those immigrants learning English in the fastest and best way possible? If you want those people to succeed, why would you stop them from improving their communications skills? Whatever the arguments are pale in comparison to the clear benefits to anyone anywhere who learns English, especially those coming to America. Does anyone believe that Justice Sotomayor would be where she is today if she would have grown up in this era where Hispanics are coddled regarding their adapting to the language of America and the world? Her success has been based on her mastering the English language at an early age and moving on to a successful collegiate career.

If Obama really cares about the little guy, and if he really wants empathy from the government, then he should put this issue to rest. This is not cultural chauvinism, but rather the reality in the world. You cannot be either an airplane pilot or an international businessperson without English. Presidents have always made their mark going against the grain of elements of their party. If President Obama wants a real victory, he should have the United States recognize what the rest of the world already knows -- English is the language of commerce and the world.

Copyright © 2009 Salem Web Network. All Rights Reserved.

WWJT: Who Would Jesus Torture?

WWJT: Who Would Jesus Torture?
Doug Giles
Saturday, May 30, 2009

A Christian radio show host asked me the other day how I could, as a believer, be cool with waterboarding terrorists for intel crucial to our national security—or, as I like to call it, the implementation of the Irrigation for Information Act. Irrigation sounds so much more pleasant than torture, oui? Oui.

I told my inquiring host that as a patriotic white male Christian redneck, as far as I can deduce from the holy text, Jesus and the balance of Scripture seem to be okay with dunking Achmed if said butt munch has the 411 regarding the 10/20 of the next mass slaughter of innocent Americans. Call me crazy. I’m well aware, however, that I could be committing an exegetical error given the fact that I’m white and male and all. This is my cross.

Please note: If Christ wasn’t cool with irrigating irate Islamicists for facts, I must admit, I would still have to green light our boys getting data from enemy combatants 007 style. Stick a fire hose up their tailpipe and turn it on full blast. I don’t care. I’m not as holy as most of you super saints or as evolved as some of you progressive atheists purport to be. Security beats spirituality in this scenario, as far as I’m concerned.

Now, as you can imagine, the holier-than-I show host was a tad bit taken aback by my confidence and giddiness over teaching captured terrorists how to snorkel minus the snorkeling gear if it would keep our country safe. He saw that as somehow incongruent with the Clay Aikenization of the sassy Christ a stack of Americans now worship. He then asked me, in kind of a tsk-tsk tone, for a proof text or two from Jesus’ lips and la Biblia that would come even close to him wishing or implementing ill on those who would harm or kill the innocent. This was like taking candy from a baby for me.

How’s this for starters, Slappy? In John 2:12-17 Jesus whipped religious hacks who were turning God’s temple into a Costco for religious crap. According to San Juan’s account, it was the second thing Jesus did after John baptized him in the river Jordan. The first thing he did was turn water into wine. That’s two things lame evangelicals can’t imagine Jesus doing: making wine or using a whip, but I digress.

Yep, Jesus opened up a can of whup ass on charlatans in the temple. He didn’t pray for them or write them an angry email with the caps lock on or call them “man-made religious disasters” that we need to apologize to for forcing them to sell overpriced spiritual curios. Nope, he methodically sat down, got ticked, made a whip and cleared the punks.

Having that snapshot of Christ violently snapping on the 1st century televangelists in the temple, I’m a thinkin’ that if he got that riled up over overpriced Precious Moments figurines, personally whipped the culprits for it and then ransacked their product display tables, more than likely he would be cool with submerging a couple of murderous morons who have information regarding the pending liquidation of thousands of innocent civilians. (And by the way, I’ll take water in the face over a whip to the back any day of the week.)

If you still think he would have problems with waterboarding the wicked who have the poop on potential terror plots, then what do you do with the story of Noah’s Ark? Correct me if I’m wrong, but those chumps got waterboarded to the max, right? Aw, what’s the matter? Does that 411 not fit with the Jesus you made up? Shame.

Not only did Jesus flog greedy religious freaks, he, along with the Father and the Holy Spirit, created this little place called hell for the wicked—which makes Gitmo look like a Chuck E. Cheese. Although, come to think of it, Chuck E. Cheese is quite hellish. Bad analogy. You get my point.

In Matthew 18:6 Jesus said if you harmed a little kid it would be better for you to have a chunk of concrete tied around your neck and tossed into the drink off Miami Beach compared to what the Trinity has prepared for you in eternity (author’s paraphrase). Sounds bad, eh? Worse than waterboarding? I’m thinking . . . yeah.

And then we have the book of Revelation. Yikes. This book is one chapter after another of agony on steroids for those that war against that which is holy, just and good.

So, once again, I’m kinda thinkin’ Hey-Soos wouldn’t blink at how cautiously and methodically our intelligence gents have been in pouring some Zephyr Hills down Habeeb’s nostrils in the hope that such “torture” will make him spill the beans regarding his posse’s plans.

Y’know, maybe I would be more empathetic toward the terrorists who wish to kill us if I were a Hispanic woman from the Bronx, but alas, I ain’t. So, I say, in the name of Jesus, water baptize the bastards for an extra minute or two if that’ll persuade them to unveil their buddy’s macabre machinations.

Granted, it’s always great and right to err on the side of civility, except of course when saving many lives trumps the uncomfortable nature of sticking a garden hose in a terrorist’s snout.

WWJD indeed!

Copyright © 2009 Salem Web Network. All Rights Reserved.

This "American Freedom Thing" Makes People Uncomfortable


This "American Freedom Thing" Makes People Uncomfortable
Austin Hill
Sunday, May 31, 2009

American freedom is spiraling out of control, and it needs to be reigned-in.

Right?

I don’t know any American who would actually say such a thing - at least not in so many words. But far too many Americans have succumbed to a certain “sickness” these days. It’s the perverse notion that their lives will be improved, and that they will be made to “feel better,” when the freedom of other American individuals and groups is diminished.

This nonsense not only makes for some nasty politics, but is also shaping the ways in which many Americans view the world around them.

Ever since the release of my first book “White House Confidential - The Little Book Of Weird Presidential History,” I frequently get asked if our modern-day politics are the nastiest in American history. The answer is clearly “no.” In terms of nasty behavior among politicians and candidates, things have been far uglier in previous generations.

For example, most Americans would be shocked to learn that a former U.S. Vice President (Aaron Burr) once got in such a heated argument with the former U.S. Treasury Secretary (Alexander Hamilton), that the V.P. ended up shooting and murdering the Treasury Secretary. And it may be “news” to some that while campaigning for re-election in 1828, President John Quincy Adams was so ugly in his attacks on his opponent‘s wife, Rachel Jackson became emotionally debilitated during the campaign, and died from a heart attack days after Andrew Jackson won the election (she was, quite literally, buried in the dress that she intended to wear at her husband’s inauguration).

But those are examples of politicians and candidates beating-up on each other. Today, private American citizens want to do damage to other private American citizens, and politicians are all-too- happy to “play” us for all we’re worth.

Our current President ran an incredibly successful campaign, driven in no small part by his promises of punishing certain groups of Americans. “Rich people,” “overpaid corporate executives,” “the oil companies,” and “pharmaceutical manufacturers” were all targets of Barack Obama’s vicious attacks.

And his message to the rest of us about these select groups of Americans was clear: I’ll make your life better, by constraining their freedom - - making “rich people” less free to create and possess wealth, making companies less free to produce a profit, limiting how much an individual can earn at their job, and so forth. These ideas make for absurd economic policy, in that no President, not even dear leader Barack, can simply re-distribute the nation into prosperity - at some point, somebody has to actually “produce wealth.”

But as political rhetoric, it resonates, which means that at least some Americans really like the idea of taking away other people’s freedom.

In my current hometown of Phoenix, Arizona, there is further evidence of this sickness. After the irrational run-up in Phoenix area real estate prices earlier this decade, followed by the devastating foreclosure crash over the past 18 months, homes in Phoenix are finally starting to sell again. But one of the challenges facing realtors and buyers is what to do with the “damaged” foreclosures.

It’s a bit of an epidemic. Americans, living in Arizona, who, upon losing their otherwise nice, suburban house, on their way out the door go about breaking all the windows, stealing hardware and appliances, and in some instances - - just to “get even,” I suppose - - urinating and defecating on carpets, and burning walls and cabinetry with matches and lighters. Once again, evidence of “the sickness” presents itself - -“I’ll feel better by restricting somebody else’s freedom” - in this case, the next owner’s freedom to enjoy the house.

The sickness also impacts the ways in which some Americans view the world. While hosting talk radio at Phoenix, Arizona’s Newstalk 92-3 KTAR, I spoke last Friday about Recording Artist Tyrese Gibson’s absurd performance of “The Star Spangled Banner” at the Los Angeles Lakers’ NBA playoff game the night before. Where the lyric reads “the bombs bursting in air, gave proof through the night that our flag was still there..,” Gibson sang “..that our Lakers were still there..” It was disrespectful, it was nonsensical, and I said as much on the show.

But talk show caller Darren, an Army veteran, declared that he fought for “everything that flag represents” - and then explained that Gibson should be “imprisoned for six months” for his stupidity.

“When you were in the Army, were you protecting and upholding the U.S. Constitution?” I asked.

“Of course I was” Darren explained.

“Did that include the First Amendment, or did you leave that one out?” I asked. After a few more seconds of discussion, I thanked Darren for his service in the Army, and assured him that constraining somebody else’s First Amendment rights - - even if that person is “an idiot” - - does NOT make his life any better.

Americans need to become “okay” with freedom again - - not only their own freedom, but that of their fellow Americans.

Copyright © 2009 Salem Web Network. All Rights Reserved.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Checkmate!


Checkmate!
Ken Connor
Sunday, May 31, 2009

The California Supreme Court's decision to uphold Proposition 8 signifies a major victory, not only for the people of California and for proponents of traditional marriage, but for the democratic tradition as well. With Proposition 8—a constitutional amendment defining marriage as between a man and a woman—Californians demonstrated their refusal to be bullied by the bench; they harnessed the power of the ballot box to reverse a flagrant act of judicial activism.

It all began in 2000 when, to eliminate any legal ambiguity, California voters passed Proposition 22, which added a provision to the state civil code explicitly defining marriage as a civil institution between a man and a woman. Governor Schwarzenegger, himself a supporter of gay marriage rights, twice upheld the constitutional validity of Proposition 22 (and thus, the will of the electorate) by vetoing legislative attempts to legalize gay marriage. Sadly, San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom proved incapable of such restraint. In 2004, he decided that his personal feelings about gay marriage trumped the law and began illegally issuing marriage licenses to gay couples in the city.

Enter the California Supreme Court. It ordered Mayor Newsom to stop issuing marriage licenses to gay couples in violation of current law, but also suggested that supporters of gay marriage seek a remedy by challenging the constitutionality of Proposition 22 in court. Homosexual activists heeded that suggestion and a judicial challenge made its way back to California's highest court. On May 15th, 2008, in an act of blatant judicial activism, the justices declared Proposition 22 unconstitutional, based upon their own definition of marriage and a twisting of the provisions of the California Constitution. Their ruling opened the door for the "marriage" of tens of thousands of gay couples, notwithstanding the clear definition of marriage adopted by the majority of Californians.

When judges take it upon themselves to exceed the bounds of their office and usurp the role of the legislative body (and that of the people in guiding it), they are guilty of legislating from the bench. When they create new legislation by stripping the Constitution of its original intent and reinterpreting it to create new "fundamental rights," they are engaging in rank judicial activism. When they hold themselves up as barometers of political correctness and sociocultural "empathy," they eschew the integrity of the bench in favor of the romance of the activist. In doing so, they abandon their rightful role and undermine the respect with which our courts should be viewed.

Well everyone has their breaking point, and for the citizens of California that point had come. They were mad as hell and decided they weren't going to take it anymore. In dismissing Proposition 22 as unconstitutional, the California Supreme Court sent a message that their own views—the views of a small group of elite lawyers—trumped the will of the people. Thankfully, the citizens of California refused to tolerate this savaging of their constitutionally-protected rights. By majority vote, they amended the California Constitution, thereby overturning the court's wrongheaded decision. It was the equivalent of a constitutional checkmate. And this time the court, having been duly admonished, was all but forced to defer to the will of the people.

Supporters of same-sex marriage are, as expected, crying foul. Having cast same-sex marriage as the civil rights issue of the decade, they view the Court's decision to uphold Proposition 8 as a gross abridgment of civil rights. The chronology of bad jurisprudence that has led to the notion that there exists a fundamental "right to marry" is too convoluted to address here, but the larger point is that it is not the court's place to make law.

America's founders—knowing that concentrating too much power in any one branch of government would lead to despotism—took great care to separate the powers of government into three distinct, co-equal branches. These branches were intended to act as checks and balances on one another. This model was emulated by the states. Consequently, in America, voters elect legislators to make the laws. The executive branch is responsible for enforcing the laws; the court's role is merely to interpret them. Sadly, over the course of time, judges have usurped powers which do not rightly belong to them. Meanwhile, the legislative and executive branches have stood idly by, abdicating their responsibility to act as checks and balances. As a result, the judiciary has become "more equal" than the other branches.

But there is an important lesson to be learned from California's experience: The Democratic process still works—if the voters will use it. Proposition 8 worked! The people of California understood that political power is reposed in the people. They understood that if the other branches refuse to act to check errant judges, the people must.

Americans concerned about the abridgment of their rights at the hands of out-of-control judges should look to California's triumph as an example of what is possible when the people are willing to roll up their sleeves and do the hard work of defending democracy. Americans could do with a remedial civics lesson, so they can relearn that the purpose of the franchise is to serve as a check against the unbridled abuse of government power. Time and again, a majority of the American people have affirmed the importance of traditional marriage. It is not the court's role to question this affirmation, and it is not their place to create laws to advance their personal views about what social "justice" should look like.

The people of California have put their Supreme Court on notice that they will not tolerate activists on the bench. Hopefully, the rest of America will follow suit.


Copyright © 2009 Salem Web Network. All Rights Reserved.

Little Green Cars


Little Green Cars
Larry Kudlow
Friday, May 29, 2009

Get ready folks: America is about to own a car company. As of Monday, we the taxpayers will own more than 70 percent of GM. Whether the company will be formally renamed Government Motors remains to be seen. But that’s what it will be.

Instead of putting the failed car enterprise into bankruptcy six months ago -- where Carl Icahn or Wilbur Ross could have bought it -- the Bush administration chose Bailout Nation. Under Team Obama, that bailout has morphed into full-scale government ownership. Twenty-billion dollars of TARP money is already invested in GM, with another $50 billion on the way. And that number could easily double unless GM car sales miraculously climb back to 14 million this year. That’s highly unlikely, with car sales presently hovering around 9 million a year.

In other words, taxpayers are not going to get their money back. Yes, we the people will be left holding the bag for the mistakes of GM’s management and labor leaders over the last four decades.

And with CAFE mileage-standards ratcheting up -- all while GM is going down -- Team Obama’s green vision for the economy will soon be crystal clear. With President Obama in the driver’s seat, we’re going to get little green two-door cars that most folks won’t want to buy.

Even worse, UAW chief Ron Gettelfinger has made it plain that his powerful union won’t let these cars be manufactured in low-cost non-union plants overseas. The result? Obama’s little green cars are going to be unprofitable as well.

But it’s the bigger picture that has me most concerned. What does Government Motors say about the direction of the United States? Historically, we don’t own car companies --or banks or insurance firms. But we do now. Tick them off on your fingers: GM, Citi, AIG. Oh, and let’s not forget Fannie and Freddie, those, big quasi-government, taxpayer-owned housing agencies. California is broke and likely headed to bankruptcy. Will we the taxpayers own that, too?

Altogether, we’re talking about hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars that will never be repaid. This is the stuff the Italians used to do, and the Brits before Thatcher, and the Soviets a long time ago. But it’s something very new and very different for America.

Is this onslaught of government ownership an attack on free-market capitalism? Yes it is. Call it Bailout Nation or Ownership Nation, it’s an unprecedented degree of government command, control, and planning, all in the name of a tough economic downturn.

I don’t pretend to know all the answers to GM’s problems. Neither do I know all the miscues of the banks and insurance companies. But I do know this: The present level of government control over the economy does not bode well for this great country.

When I sat down with former Vice President Dick Cheney for a CNBC interview this week, I asked him about all this. He wasn’t happy. Of course, many of these policies began during the Bush-Cheney administration, and Cheney didn’t deny it. But when I asked if he anticipated the current degree of government control, he gave me another honest answer, as is his custom: No.

Regarding the banks, Cheney said the bailout work was done over at the Treasury (under Henry Paulson), and that no critical studies were performed by the White House. Cheney himself opposed the GM bailout, preferring Chapter 11 bankruptcy. He did sign on to the TARP bailout of banks as a stop-gap measure. But he didn’t anticipate its eventual size, scope, and sweep. Then, squarely acknowledging the mistake, he compared Bailout Nation to Nixon’s wage-and-price-control program, which touched every enterprise in America. He called it “a terrible mistake; a huge mistake.” By implication, Cheney suggested that the original Bush bailout program was itself a big mistake.

As for Nixon’s wage-and-price-control policy, the former veep reminded me that “we finally got out of it, but it took a long time to do it, and it [did] a lot of damage.”

Cheney was very critical of Obama’s big-government spending-and-borrowing policies, too, telling me that there are only two ways out: inflating the money supply or big tax increases. He doesn’t like either. Yes, Cheney believes Obama has taken Bailout Nation and government stimulus way beyond anything the Bushies ever contemplated. Nevertheless, the damage is done.

Cheney recalled Bush having said that “we have to suspend free-market capitalism in order to save free-market capitalism.” So the big question is this: How long before we resurrect free-market capitalism, and how much damage will current policies do in the meantime?

I won’t lose my faith in this country’s long-term future. But the issue of how much damage we sustain before returning to the policies of free-market economic growth is very much on my mind.


Copyright © 2009 Salem Web Network. All Rights Reserved.

Friday, May 29, 2009

A Little Straight Talk


A Little Straight Talk
Burt Prelutsky
Friday, May 29, 2009

Those on the Left who have trashed George W. Bush for this entire decade claim they weren’t being rude or unpatriotic, but were simply talking truth to power. That has a nice ring to it, so I think I’ll give it a shot.

Today, I’ll talk truth to Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, potential justice of the Supreme Court Sonia Sotomayor, Pope Benedict XVI and President Barack Obama. That’s a more powerful lineup than the 1927 New York Yankees, if I do say so myself.

I have almost begun to feel sorry for Nancy Pelosi. After all, when you get past the facelifts and the Botox injections, the designer suits and the large private jet, you have an aging grandmother who, in a perfect world, would be home playing with the grandkids and letting the wrinkles show. Instead, she’s constantly on TV, telling lies and looking like a small animal staring at oncoming headlights. I think that instead of babbling about what she didn’t know and when she didn’t know it, she should claim the Twinkie defense just like that other two-bit San Francisco politician, Dan White. In case you don’t recall, when he went on trial for killing Harvey Milk and Mayor George Moscone. White’s lawyers, in making their case for diminished capacity, claimed he had been suffering from depression, and that his depression had been made more severe by a junk food diet that included a lot of Twinkies. I can see Rep. Pelosi taking that defense out of moth balls, dusting it off and blaming all of her recent insanity on cheap confections. Heck, forget the pastries; she’d only need to mention having to sit through meetings with the likes of Harry Reid, Rahm Emanuel or Arlen Specter. Even I would lessen her sentence.

Secretary Gates insists that Guantanamo has to be shut down because its very name is a source of embarrassment for America throughout the world. Well, I happen to think the world is an embarrassment and is therefore in no position to judge us. But the solution in any case is not to shut down Gitmo, especially when it will cost $80 million to do so and when nobody has the slightest idea where to move the terrorists, but to simply change the name of the facility. We could call it any number of things, ranging from Paradise to Fantasy Island. Or we could take our lead from the pop singer, Prince, and simply change it to the Prison Formerly Known as Guantanamo.

I don’t know Sonia Sotomayor personally and, so, I don’t dislike her any more than I do any of the other liberal judges that were on Barack Obama’s short list of Supreme Court nominees. The difference is that I saw a video of Judge Sotomayor addressing what I assume was a group of law students. After telling them that the courts are where policy is made, she gave a little laugh and acknowledged that she probably shouldn’t have said that when she knew she was being taped. But she did say it, and in doing so, she spoke for every left-wing judge in America. Here in California, judges have over-ruled the vote of the people on capital punishment, illegal immigrants and same-sex marriage. In Washington, the Supremes expanded eminent domain in a way that would have impressed even the likes of Stalin, Hitler and Castro, and decided that when the Founding Fathers included “the pursuit of Happiness” in the Declaration of Independence, what they had in mind were millions and millions of abortions.

The bone I have to pick with the Pope involves his cockeyed sense of priorities. Recently, I read a gruesome account of Catholic schools in Ireland. Even Charles Dickens could not have dreamed up such a nightmare. Apparently, for decades, the priests and nuns running these schools based their teaching philosophy on the precepts laid down by the Nazis who ran the concentration camps. With disgusting regularity, they beat and sexually molested the children, and suffered no consequences. At least not here on earth.

Now, I have nothing against the Catholic Church and, unlike some Jews, I don’t condemn it for ancient sins. However, a while back, when Pope John II was visiting America, he decided to use his influence to save the life of a person who had killed three people and was about to be executed in Missouri. Being the Pope, he got Governor Carnahan to commute Darrell Mease’s sentence to life without parole. At the time, I found myself thinking that if the Pope was going to go to bat for a cold-blooded killer, the taxpayers in Missouri shouldn’t be left holding the bag; instead, Pope John should have taken him back to the Vatican and let the Church put him up for the next 40 or 50 years.

Now we have Pope Benedict XVI traveling to the Middle East, spewing out his predictable platitudes, while managing to suggest a moral equivalency between Israel and those dedicated to Israel’s destruction. As usual, his words fell on deaf ears. But, then, why should Jews or Muslims really care what he has to say, especially when he refuses to speak out in the one area where his authority is unquestioned? After all, a couple of thousand years ago, Jesus said, “Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God.” Jesus used “suffer” in the sense of “permit” or “allow,” but in modern times, far too many priests have perverted it to mean actual suffering. It shouldn’t be asking too much of the Pope that he excoriate and ex-communicate those priests here in America and in Ireland who have brutalized countless Catholic children for their own base pleasure and amusement.

As for President Obama, I would like to see him quit chastising George Bush while at the same time carrying forth his policies. Understand, I approve of those policies, which have helped safeguard America for nearly eight years. But, saying one thing while doing another may fool some of the people some of the time, and fool Chris Matthews and Keith Olbermann all of the time, but it doesn’t make Obama look superior to the ex-president; it merely makes him look petty and deceitful.

Furthermore, I would suggest that Barack Obama quit telling us that everything he says and does garners us great respect in the world community. The majority of that community is made up of lunatics and gangsters, and most Americans don’t want to gain the love and admiration of North Korea, Russia, Cuba, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Venezuela, Syria, Iran, China, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Turkey, Yemen or Indonesia. It would be nice, though, if they were at least a little bit afraid of us.

If I had the president’s ear, I would beg him not to be a sucker, and not to think for a second that international villains will succumb to his much-publicized charm. They will applaud his speeches and return his smiles, and they’ll happily stab him in the back. I would try to make him realize that the world’s political leaders are just like Chicago’s, except that some of them have nuclear bombs at their disposal.

It’s easy, I would tell the president, to mouth all the usual cliches and be lauded by the various hand puppets and hand maidens at MSNBC and the New York Times, but being politically correct is, unfortunately, not the same thing as being correct politically.



Copyright © 2009 Salem Web Network. All Rights Reserved.

Three Stories and One Supreme Court Nominee


Three Stories and One Supreme Court Nominee
Sandy Rios
Friday, May 29, 2009

Justice Sonia Sotomayor’s commitment to her own personal interpretation of the Constitution could have devastating consequences on everyday Americans, and here’s why:

It was Good Friday when the knock came on the door at the home of Pastor David Jones and his wife, Mary. San Diego County officials were hot on the trail of reportedly suspicious activities taking place inside the couple’s home each and every week.

Mrs. Jones, the co-conspirator, was interrogated vigorously. “Do you sing? Do you say ‘Praise the Lord?’ Do you say ‘amen?’” San Diegans can be relieved their county officials are in hot pursuit of major trouble makers. Especially on Good Friday. How could authorities possibly sit by and allow homes to be the centers of meal sharing and Bible Study in the midst of unsuspecting, at-risk neighbors?

The Joneses were warned that if they did not pay for an expensive Major Use Permit, normally used for the city to conduct studies on environmental impact, traffic patterns, etc., their weekly gatherings of 15 would have to stop. And if they did not stop, there would be escalating fines and “then it will get ugly.” Seems like it already has.

Meanwhile, down in Louisiana, a man was reportedly stopped by police and held for questioning and a background check for displaying the notoriously offensive “Don’t Tread on Me” bumper sticker. Christopher Gadsen, a Revolutionary War era general designed “Don’t Tread on Me” for a flag representing the need to defend America’s rights from tyranny. Ben Franklin loved the symbolism Gadsen used of the rattlesnake and the rebellion. Good thing Franklin wasn’t traveling in Louisiana, bearing that flag on his carriage, when those police were out to catch “right wing extremists.” Imagine … Homeland Security urging the nation’s law enforcement to protect the homeland from those who want to protect the homeland. Is there a category for that?

Or for that matter, for this: Debbie McLucas is a hospital supervisor at Kindred Hospital in Mansfield, Texas. Her husband and sons have all served in the military. Her daughter is currently stationed in Iraq as a combat medic. In honor of Memorial Day, Debbie did the unthinkable: She hung a three-by-five foot American flag in an office she shares with three other supervisors. One was quite offended. So offended, she took down the flag all by herself. Take that, Debbie McLucas. The hospital refused to support the display, claiming other patients and visitors were also offended.

It would be hard to fault the offended supervisor. She has only been in the country for 14 years, during which time she has risen to a high level of achievement, made a good salary and, as with a number among the new wave of immigrants, never had or felt a need to show loyalty to the country for her great fortune. It isn’t her country … this USA … some nation in Africa is … and the honoring of the shedding of American blood abroad to protect it was apparently of little consequence to her.

These three stories currently in the news represent the types of issues that may very well end up in the United States Supreme Court.

Enter Judge Sonia Sotomayor and the living, breathing, constitution philosophy she and Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and President Barack Obama embrace. Under the original interpretation of our rights, pastor and Mrs. Jones would have had the right to hold a Bible Study in their home, but the newly-found interpretation of the “right to privacy” which more enlightened judicial minds most recently found to protect abortion and homosexual relations may in the future not protect Bible Study, which by the way, is the source of objection for both.

While the ever-evolving interpretation of the First Amendment right to free religious expression currently extends to Muslims with prayer rugs in public school and prisons, future justices with an agenda may no longer see it extending to Christians in their homes.

Homeland Security’s new concern over “right-wing extremists,” including those who are pro-life, those who believe in a strict interpretation of the Bible, others who oppose illegal immigration and, horror of horrors, embrace state control rather than federal, has given us yet another interpretation of the First Amendment. The right to free speech, primarily guaranteed for the purpose of political dissent may soon not include political dissenters who display politically incorrect concerns with unpopular slogans on bumper stickers.

The Constitution is said to protect the burning of the American flag, but its guarantees haven’t devolved yet so that the display of it is criminal. Don’t think that couldn’t change. Our current president thought it inappropriate to wear the flag on his lapel while campaigning. While other American leaders have proudly worn it in the past, he called it a “false patriotism.” And his friends on the left agree. Newfound rights not to be “offended” together with immigration laws that have made it too tempting for some immigrants to reap the benefits of this country while disdaining and undermining it have made the flag unacceptable in many quarters. While their rights to claim offense may be protected by the new understanding of the law, our right to display the flag could well be threatened.

What’s at stake with the nomination of a judge like Sonja Sottomayor are real-life consequences for ordinary American citizens. What we don’t need is a justice taking the bench with the notion that somehow the Constitution doesn’t mean what it has always meant, who proceeds to twist it to reflect his or her own viewpoint—a justice like Sonia Sotomayor, the older, wiser Latina female, who in her own words “would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male…” judge.

The dangers of her attitude are exactly why the Constitution isn’t “living.” Its principles were established to endure for generations so that such men and women, persuaded by their times, could not recklessly adjudicate while claiming “new wisdom.” Methods change, circumstances change, but principles and carefully-crafted law based on those principles stand like a rock for all time.

A wise Latina woman and a wise white man will more often than not reach the same conclusion: One reflective of enduring wisdom and not the folly of our times.



Copyright © 2009 Salem Web Network. All Rights Reserved.

The Truth About ObamACORN

The Truth About ObamACORN
Michelle Malkin
Friday, May 29, 2009

Left-wing groups in Washington, D.C., are panicked. The New York Times and other Team Obama whitewashers are downplaying the connection between the Obama presidential campaign, the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) and Obama's old employer Project Vote (ACORN's nonprofit canvassing arm). Alas, the truth keeps seeping out.

At a closed-door powwow hosted Thursday at the left-leaning Center for American Progress, activists discussed how to combat a relentless stream of corruption charges from ACORN/Project Vote whistleblowers. But it's too late for a reputation bailout. Former Project Vote official and whistleblower Anita MonCrief has harnessed the Internet to crowd-source a massive cache of documents showing ties between Obama staff members and the supposedly "nonpartisan" ACORN operations.

Last fall, The New York Times abandoned an investigation into whether Obama had shared donor lists with Project Vote, a 501(c)(3) organization that is prohibited from engaging in political activity. Public editor Clark Hoyt earlier this month called it "the tip that didn't pan out." Critics suggested the donor lists could have been compiled through public records. But I have obtained the lists -- not only of Obama donors, but also lists of Democratic National Committee, Hillary Clinton and John Kerry contributors. The records include small donors to the Obama campaign, who are not disclosed in public campaign finance databases. It's information only a campaign could supply.

MonCrief testified under oath last fall that her then-boss, Karyn Gillette, gave her the Obama donor list and told her the campaign had furnished it. Moreover, e-mail messages between ACORN, Project Vote and other affiliates, including ACORN subsidiary Citizens Services, Inc. (CSI), make explicit references to working on "Obama campaign related projects." The "list of maxed out Obama donors" is specifically mentioned in staff e-mail. Another message from ACORN/Project Vote official Nathan Henderson-James warns ACORN and affiliated staff to prepare for "conservatives … gearing up a major oppo research project on Obama."

Henderson-James wrote, "Understand I'm not suggesting that we gear up to defend a candidate's campaign." But that, of course, is exactly what the ACORN enterprise did.

Why does this matter? Transparency, tax dollars and electoral integrity. ACORN's own lawyer Elizabeth Kingsley acknowledged last year that a vast web of tax-exempt ACORN affiliates were shuffling money around -- making it almost impossible to track whether campaign rules and tax regulations were being followed. ACORN receives 40 percent of its revenues from taxpayers. Americans deserve to know whether and how much commingling of public money with political projects has occurred over the last four decades -- and what role the Obama campaign played in this enterprise.

Remember: Last August, the Obama team admitted its failure to properly disclose $800,000 in payments to CSI -- which works hand in hand with Project Vote and the ACORN parent organization. Obama mysteriously reclassified the campaign advance work expenditures as "get-out-the-vote" activities. Nary a peep from electoral integrity watchdogs.

Despite heated denials from Team Obama, the links between ACORN, Project Vote and CSI are inextricable. As Obama himself reminded ACORN leaders after its political action committee endorsed his presidential candidacy in February 2008:

"I come out of a grassroots organizing background. That's what I did for three and half years before I went to law school. That's the reason I moved to Chicago was to organize. So this is something that I know personally, the work you do, the importance of it. I've been fighting alongside ACORN on issues you care about my entire career. Even before I was an elected official, when I ran Project Vote voter registration drive in Illinois, ACORN was smack dab in the middle of it, and we appreciate your work."

As I've reported before, the Obama campaign's "Vote for Change" registration drive, run simultaneously with ACORN/Project Vote, was an all-out scramble to scrape up every last unregistered voter sympathetic to Obama's big-government vision.

In an e-mail message to whistleblower MonCrief last summer, New York Times reporter Stephanie Strom told the truth: "The real story to all this is how these myriad entities allow them to shuffle money around so much that no one really knows what's getting spent on what." By Oct. 6, 2008, Strom had thrown in the towel in the wake of blistering phone conversations with the Obama campaign. She wrote:

"I'm calling a halt to my efforts. I just had two unpleasant calls with the Obama campaign, wherein the spokesman was screaming and yelling and cursing me, calling me a right-wing nut and a conspiracy theorist and everything else. … I'd still like to get that file from you when you have a chance to send it. One of these days, the truth is going to come out."

It's only just begun.



Copyright © 2009 Salem Web Network. All Rights Reserved.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Pelosi vs. CIA: Why It Matters


Pelosi vs. CIA: Why It Matters
Larry Elder
Thursday, May 28, 2009

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says the CIA "misled" her about waterboarding.

What difference does it make, in the grand scheme of things, whether Pelosi is telling the truth? Maybe the CIA did; maybe the CIA did not. So what? Well, it makes a great deal of difference -- and not only because if true, the CIA didn't just "mislead" Pelosi but also committed a crime.

People like Pelosi, who once supported waterboarding -- just like the folks who once supported the war -- now attempt to rewrite history.

The country turned against former President George W. Bush and Republicans because of the war in Iraq. Yes, many Americans reversed their previous support of the war because of its unexpectedly high human and monetary costs. Yes, many turned against the war because, in its early stages, Iraq seemed on the verge of civil war. To many, the toppling of dictator Saddam Hussein backfired -- and made America less, not more, safe.

But what turned growing unease over the war into outright disdain for Bush? As to the case for war -- the assumption that Saddam possessed weapons of mass destruction -- many Americans feel flat-out lied to.

This brings us to waterboarding.

Like Guantanamo Bay and Abu Ghraib, waterboarding serves as a metaphor for the former President's alleged deceitfulness and villainy. Pelosi denounces waterboarding as torture, yet another outrage by the lying, scheming, manipulative Bush administration.

Pelosi, at first, said she knew absolutely nothing about the administration's use of this "enhanced interrogation technique." The CIA disputes this. But by her own admission, the agency told her that it was considering using waterboarding. Wasn't that enough for the speaker to have thundered her disapproval? What about a letter of protest to the Bush White House? What about moving to cut off funds to prevent the agency from employing a technique that she purportedly finds so offensive?

The CIA pushed back. The agency said that it informed Pelosi, who received briefings, that it not only intended to use waterboarding but, in fact, had used waterboarding. Former CIA Director Porter Goss said that the CIA provided accurate information to Pelosi. Goss further said that the only objection during the briefing was the concern as to whether the CIA was going far enough.

Current CIA Director Leon Panetta agreed with Goss. In a memo to CIA employees, Panetta said, "CIA officers briefed truthfully on the interrogation of Abu Zubaydah, describing 'the enhanced techniques that had been employed.'" Panetta also wrote: "Our task is to tell it like it is -- even if that's not what people always want to hear. Keep it up. Our national security depends on it."

Now, the retreat.

Before declaring in a news conference that she no longer wants to stress the matter, Pelosi praised the CIA. Pelosi said, "My criticism of the manner in which the Bush Administration did not appropriately inform Congress is separate from my respect for those in the intelligence community who work to keep our country safe." Does her respect extend to former CIA head George Tenet? Tenet served under former Presidents Clinton and Bush. As for believing Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction, Tenet described the case as a "slam-dunk." Does she now "respect" that he made that assertion in good faith?

So, what does all of this tell us?

It tells us that in the immediate aftermath of 9/11, most Americans -- including the Democratic leadership in Congress -- wanted to prevent another attack. Despite their newfound "outrage" over torture, people like Speaker Nancy Pelosi understood, accepted and even encouraged harsh interrogation techniques to prevent another attack.

As to the case for war, all 16 intelligence agencies concluded -- at the highest level of probability -- that Saddam Hussein possessed those stockpiles. Yet people like Sen. Ted Kennedy said things like "week after week after week, we were told lie after lie after lie." And many Americans -- especially those predisposed to believe the worst of the Bush administration -- completely bought it. "Bush lied, people died" became a refrain uttered endlessly by Bush haters.

But Bush didn't lie -- and the Democrats know it. Indeed, to extricate herself from Torture-gate, Pelosi now compliments the CIA, the very agency Bush relied on in making the case for war.

But public opinion turned against the war. Then waterboarding became "torture." And Bush became not simply a commander in chief who, in good faith, relied on near unanimous but faulty intelligence. He became, as then-Minority Leader Harry Reid said, "a loser" and "a liar."

Disgusting.

Copyright © 2009 Salem Web Network. All Rights Reserved.

I guess I have to go back to an AP article from December 8, 2008 which was not really reported in the mainstream media (other than AP and conservative news sites) - the following is an excerpt...

How will history judge Bush? Many of us won't be alive when the first verdict is in. He has made his share of mistakes but one issue for which most of the public blames Bush derives from the belief that Iraq did not have weapons of mass destruction. Retired Army Major General Jerry R. Curry, in spite of his exceptional achievements, military and academic, in his retirement has become partisan and, hence, controversial in some circles. However, his credibility seems strong.

General Curry has said on that matter history will judge differently because US operatives found a large stockpile of concentrated natural uranium (550 tons) in the heart of Bagdad. This is known as "yellowcake" and is evidence that Saddam Hussein had a nuclear program designed to make weapons of mass destruction. US operatives had to sit on the information lest terrorists found out about it and tried to acquire the uranium. Ambassador Joseph Wilson denied Bush's claim that Hussein wanted to buy "yellowcake" from Niger. Wilson had been told otherwise by a former Prime Minister of Niger, Assane Mayaki. Wilson did not give the report any credibility and insisted that there was no evidence that Iraq wanted to purchase yellowcake. British intelligence insisted Iraq did not seek yellowcake from Niger.

Bush chose to ignore Wilson and cited British intelligence on the issue, and Wilson and his CIA wife, Valerie Plame, who sent him to Niger, were outraged. The media picked up on this story and Bush has paid dearly ever since. Bush could have had the last laugh with his critics when the yellowcake was discovered. Instead he has not said a word while the yellowcake was extracted from Iraq and passed through two continents before it safely reached Canada.


So lets just lay it on the line - Democrats are treasonous and the mainstream media is at least complicit. The fact that they are in power now shows how far this country has fallen and how stupid most of its people are.

Sotomayor: "Empathy" in Action


Sotomayor: "Empathy" in Action
Thomas Sowell
Wednesday, May 27, 2009

It is one of the signs of our times that so many in the media are focusing on the life story of Judge Sonia Sotomayor, President Obama's nominee for the Supreme Court of the United States.

You might think that this was some kind of popularity contest, instead of a weighty decision about someone whose impact on the fundamental law of the nation will extend for decades after Barack Obama has come and gone.

Much is being made of the fact that Sonia Sotomayor had to struggle to rise in the world. But stop and think.

If you were going to have open heart surgery, would you want to be operated on by a surgeon who was chosen because he had to struggle to get where he is or by the best surgeon you could find-- even if he was born with a silver spoon in his mouth and had every advantage that money and social position could offer?

If it were you who was going to be lying on that operating table with his heart cut open, you wouldn't give a tinker's damn about somebody's struggle or somebody else's privileges.

The Supreme Court of the United States is in effect operating on the heart of our nation-- the Constitution and the statutes and government policies that all of us must live under.

Barack Obama's repeated claim that a Supreme Court justice should have "empathy" with various groups has raised red flags that we ignore at our peril-- and at the peril of our children and grandchildren.

"Empathy" for particular groups can be reconciled with "equal justice under law"-- the motto over the entrance to the Supreme Court-- only with smooth words. But not in reality. President Obama used those smooth words in introducing Judge Sotomayor but words do not change realities.

Nothing demonstrates the fatal dangers from judicial "empathy" more than Judge Sotomayor's decision in a 2008 case involving firemen who took an exam for promotion. After the racial mix of those who passed that test turned out to be predominantly white, with only a few blacks and Hispanics, the results were thrown out.

When this action by the local civil service authorities was taken to court and eventually reached the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals, Judge Sotomayor did not give the case even the courtesy of a spelling out of the issues. She backed those who threw out the test results. Apparently she didn't have "empathy" with those predominantly white males who had been cheated out of promotions they had earned.

Fellow 2nd Circuit Court judge Jose Cabranes commented on the short shrift given to the serious issues in this case. It so happens that he too is Hispanic, but apparently he does not decide legal issues on the basis of "empathy" or lack thereof.

This was not an isolated matter for Judge Sotomayor. Speaking at the University of California at Berkeley in 2001, she said that the ethnicity and sex of a judge "may and will make a difference in our judging."

Moreover, this was not something she lamented. On the contrary, she added, "I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn't lived that life."

No doubt the political spinmasters will try to spin this to mean something innocent. But the cold fact is that this is a poisonous doctrine for any judge, much less a justice of the Supreme Court.

That kind of empathy would for all practical purposes repeal the 14th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, which guarantees "equal protection of the laws" to all Americans.

What would the political spinmasters say if some white man said that a white male would more often reach a better conclusion than a Hispanic female?

For those who believe in the rule of law, Barack Obama used the words "rule of law" in introducing his nominee. For those who take his words as gospel, even when his own actions are directly the opposite of his words, that may be enough to let him put this dangerous woman on the Supreme Court.

Even if her confirmation cannot be stopped, it is important for Senators to warn of the dangers, which will only get worse if such nominations sail through the Senate smoothly.

Copyright © 2009 Salem Web Network. All Rights Reserved.

I Feel Your Pain. Not Theirs. Yours.


I Feel Your Pain. Not Theirs. Yours.
Ann Coulter
Wednesday, May 27, 2009

God save us from liberal "empathy." After President Barack Obama announced his empathetic Supreme Court nominee this week, Judge Sonia Sotomayor, we found out that some people are more deserving of empathy than others.

For example, Judge Sotomayor apparently "empathized" more with New Haven, Conn., government officials than with white and Hispanic firefighters who were denied promotions by the city on the basis of their race.

Let's hope she's as empathetic to New Haven residents who die in fires fought by inferior firefighters as a result of her decision.

In the now-famous firefighters' case, Ricci v. DeStefano, the New Haven Fire Department administered a civil service exam to choose a new batch of lieutenants and captains. The city went so far as to hire an outside consultant to design the test in order to ensure that it was job-related and not racially biased. (You know, just like all written tests were pre-screened for racial bias back when we were in school.)

But when the results came in, only whites and Hispanics scored high enough to earn promotions.

Such results never entice Democrats to reconsider their undying devotion to the teachers' unions that routinely produce students who can't read, write or do basic math. Obviously, disadvantaged children from single-parent homes suffer the most from inadequate public schools -- and their tragic outcome bedevils the entire society for the rest of the students' lives.

Instead, Democrats hide the failure of government schools by punishing the high-scoring whites, Asians and Hispanics, who presumably learned everything they know at home. (If only successfully applying a condom were relevant to firefighting, public school graduates raised in single-parent homes would crush the home-learners!)

So naturally, New Haven city officials decided to scrap the exam results and promote no one.

Seventeen of the high-scoring whites and one high-scoring Hispanic sued the mayor, John DeStefano, and other city officials for denying them promotions solely because of their race.

The district court ruled that there was no race discrimination because the low-scoring blacks were not given promotions either -- citing the landmark case, One Bad Apple v. The Rest of the Barrel. (That's the sort of sophistry we're taught in law school.)

Concerned that Sotomayor's famed "empathy" might not shine through in cases such as Ricci v. DeStefano, the Democrats are claiming -- as Obama spokesman Robert Gibbs said on MSNBC -- that she was merely applying "precedent" to decide the case. You know, just like conservatives say judges should.

This was an interesting claim, in the sense that it was the exact polar opposite of the truth.

To be sure, there is "precedent" for racial discrimination by the government, but Plessy v. Ferguson was overturned in 1954 by Brown v. Board of Education. If Sotomayor had another case in mind, she wasn't telling: The lower court's dismissal of the firefighters' case was upheld by Sotomayor and two other judges in an unsigned, unpublished opinion, titled, "Talk to the Hand."

Not only that, but Sotomayor's fellow Clinton appointee, Jose Cabranes (who sounds like an "empathetic" fellow), issued a blistering dissent from the appellate court's denial of a rehearing specifically on the grounds that the case "raises important questions of first impression in our Circuit -- and indeed, in the nation."

A "case of first impression" means there's no precedent. If there were a precedent, it would be a case of, at least, "second impression."

If it were merely "empathy" that explained liberal judges' lawless opinions, one might expect some liberal judges to have empathy for the white and Hispanic firefighters being discriminated against today, and others to have empathy for the hypothetical black firefighters discriminated against in times past.

But all liberals only have empathy for the exact same victims -- always the ones that are represented by powerful liberal interest groups. As Joe Sobran says, it takes a lot of clout to be a victim.

Thus, the media and Democrats seem to find successful Hispanic attorney Sotomayor much more "empathetic" than successful Hispanic attorney Miguel Estrada.

After aggressively blocking Estrada's nomination to a federal appeals court during Bush's first term solely on the grounds that he is Hispanic and was likely headed for the Supreme Court -- according to Senate Democrat staff memos -- now Democrats have the audacity to rave that Sotomayor will be the first Hispanic Supreme Court justice!

If Sotomayor is not more empathetic than Estrada, liberals at least consider her more Hispanic -- an interesting conclusion inasmuch as Sotomayor was born in New York and Estrada was born in Honduras.

Forty-four of 48 Senate Democrats voted to filibuster Estrada's nomination to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, with congressman and professional Hispanic Raul Grijalva assuring them that just because "he happens to be named 'Estrada' does not give him a free ride."

The truth is liberals couldn't care less about Sotomayor being Hispanic. Indeed, liberals often have trouble telling Hispanic people apart, as James Carville illustrated on "Good Morning America" Wednesday morning when he kept confusing Miguel Estrada with Alberto Gonzales.

"Empathy," in Liberalspeak, is nothing but raw political power.


Copyright © 2009 Salem Web Network. All Rights Reserved.

Racial Re-Segregation Means the End of Democratic Politics


Racial Re-Segregation Means the End of Democratic Politics
Ben Shapiro
Wednesday, May 27, 2009

On Tuesday, President Barack Obama nominated Second U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Sonia Sotomayor, 54, a graduate of Yale Law School and a liberal rewriter of the Constitution, to replace Justice David Souter on the U.S. Supreme Court. The pick is a bad one primarily because Sotomayor is the living embodiment of legal realist theory: She makes decisions based on her own political and social experiences.

As Sotomayor puts it, judges should consider their "experiences as women and people of color” while hearing cases, and those experiences should "affect our decisions.” And Latinas are especially qualified to sit on the Supreme Court, according to Sotomayor: "I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experience would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn't lived that life.”

In short, Sotomayor believes that law, like beauty, is entirely in the eye of the beholder. It is therefore of vital importance which beholders are sitting on the Supreme Court. Judicial philosophy is irrelevant, in this view; the only true judicial philosophy is personal philosophy.

So Sotomayor is a rotten pick, if not an unexpected one, by President Obama.

But there is something slightly more disturbing going on. Sotomayor wasn't chosen solely for her liberal judicial philosophy, although that was a prerequisite. She was chosen for her status as a Latina woman. As Stuart Taylor of National Journal writes, "If Republicans attack Judge Sotomayor's more controversial actions, they risk provoking a backlash among Hispanic voters, who have already been moving into the Democratic column in droves.” Following on the heels of President Obama's election, which was largely about his status as a black man, we have entered a period in which politics is becoming more, not less, racial in nature.

With the election of Obama, many Americans believed that racial polarization in the country was over. White Americans in particular assumed that Obama's election would be a transformative moment, effectively capping America's centuries-long odyssey toward racial equality.

Unfortunately, this has not been the case. Over the past decade, racial groups have become more polarized, not less. A simple example will suffice. A personal friend, a white man who teaches at an inner-city school in Los Angeles County with an almost entirely Hispanic population, polled his students shortly before the 2008 election regarding their parents' presidential preferences. Every hand in the classroom went up for Obama. After class, my friend approached one of the students. "Why are your parents voting for Obama?” he asked a 10-year-old Hispanic girl. She answered him in four words: "Because he's not white.”

"Because he's not white” has become the rallying cry for racial minorities all across the country. There are 24 members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus. Twenty-three are Democrats, and one is an independent. Leaving aside U.S. Sen. Ken Salazar, D-Colo., and two members of Congress who represent no district, the Hispanic population in the districts they represent averages 59.23 percent. That means that concentrated pockets of Hispanics elect Hispanics.

The same is true for the Congressional Black Caucus. There are currently 44 members of the Congressional Black Caucus; all are Democrats. Leaving aside Senator Roland Burris, D-Ill., and two nonvoting, at-large members of Congress, the black population in the districts they represent averages 48.47 percent. That means concentrated pockets of blacks elect blacks.

The same is largely true of whites, of course. The difference is that whites elect members of both parties -- racial identity is not bound up in political identity. For the Hispanic and black communities, however, racial and socioeconomic identity increasingly mean allegiance to one party: the Democratic Party. Thus, when Miguel Estrada is grilled by Democrats, no one worries about the electoral ramifications for the Democrats among Hispanics, yet when Sotomayor is nominated, critics worry that Republican criticism will drive away Hispanics. The same holds true for the black community: When Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas is raked over the coals by Democrats, no one worries that blacks will run from the Democratic Party; when Barack Obama is criticized by Republicans, however, the press declares that Republicans will lose the black vote forever.

The implications of the racial separation of our republic are supremely dangerous. It seems that racial groups more and more often vote along tribal lines; multiethnic democracy now means racial re-segregation, at least in terms of electoral politics. Small-R republicanism relies on the willingness of individuals to discern and vote for the politicians with whom they agree, not the politicians with whom they share a skin color, racial heritage, and economic background.

Barack Obama's candidacy was supposed to usher us into a post-racial America. It seems that his election, and his continuing exploitation of racial differences through nominations like Sotomayor's, has only deepened the racial divides.

Copyright © 2009 Salem Web Network. All Rights Reserved.

It Takes a Village of Idiots


It Takes a Village of Idiots
Burt Prelutsky
Monday, May 25, 2009

I have always found it odd that whenever the producers of TV, movies and records, are accused of setting a bad example for the kids, they always insist that their product is simply entertainment and that entertainment in no way influences youthful behavior. If they really believed it, they’d have to be even stupider than they are.

It’s not just that they’re every bit as aware as the rest of us that advertisers spend billions of dollars a year advertising their merchandise in the media, but additional fortunes are spent on product placement in motion pictures targeted to young people. They also know that advertisers get into bidding wars for the services of a LeBron James.

But the real proof that these people are lying through their teeth when they tell you that the tube lacks the power to influence kids is to be found on their shelves and their walls. All you have to do is check out the various plaques and scrolls with which they adorn their offices. Let a TV show’s young star be seen buckling up when he gets in his car, and the producer is sure to be honored for promoting safe driving. When years ago, the Fonz was shown to have a library card, librarians all over the country saw the number of young readers spike overnight. The producers received a ton of commendations for promoting literacy.

On the reverse side, when such terrible role models as Lindsay Lohan, Paris Hilton and Britney Spears misbehave, the ripples are felt all across teenage America.

Some years ago, Charles Barkley, then a star in the NBA, said he didn’t sign on to serve as anybody’s good example. Instead, he announced that kids should use their parents as role models. If only it were that simple. Unfortunately, a large number of children don’t have fathers in their lives. But the sad truth is that even when there is a father in the house, kids rarely hold their hard-working dads in the same high regard they do basketball players and rock stars.

All in all, I’m glad I’m not young anymore. I’m even grateful I’m not raising a youngster. That’s because liberals are doing their best to destroy childhood.

I’m not saying it’s their intention, but it’s certainly how things are working out. It’s as if they can’t wait to hurry the sprouts through what should be their innocent years. Trying to turn something as joyful as Christmas into something as barren as the winter solstice is only one sad part of the campaign.

First, we can’t wait to get the tots out of the home and into pre-school. Then we get them into grammar school and pile on homework, lest they get the idea that childhood is supposed to be fun. Judging by the test scores, the homework is nothing but punishment for the sin of being young. It obviously isn’t for the purpose of education or so many teenagers wouldn’t be graduating from high school without math or language skills.

The one area in which young people are well ahead of their ancestors is in sexual matters. At a tender age or at least what should be a tender age, the girls are learning to put prophylactics on bananas and the boys are learning to swagger like pint-sized pimps.

I would like to lay most of the blame on Bill Clinton, who had parents all over the country being asked by their youngsters to define a blow job. But those perverted beauty pageants for five-year-olds such as JonBenet Ramsey had tainted the American landscape even before Clinton got around to tainting the Oval Office.

When I first began to realize how little concern we have for our children, aside from providing them with expensive sneakers and pricey electronic toys, was when I saw the light sentences doled out to pedophiles. Whenever one of these creatures abducts a youngster, it gets its share of media attention, but not nearly as much as when some college party girl goes missing in Mexico or Bermuda. Furthermore, nobody has yet explained why a pedophile, once caught and convicted, is ever released from prison or an asylum. But, then, liberal compassion tends to go to the victimizer and not the victim simply because, being such an abnormality, it allows them to feel extra special about themselves.

What really irks liberals, though, is smoking. That’s why Camels recently got into legal trouble in Pennsylvania for using a cartoon character in its cigarette advertising. The company had already suffered dire consequences because of their earlier use of Joe Camel. Frankly, I never understood why kids would rush out and begin smoking because of an ugly, hump-nosed, cartoon, especially when they already get to see all the cool liberal actors and rock stars smoking in real life.

However, be that as it may, the real war on kids is taking place in the classroom and the movie theater. That’s where the real terror is lurking these days, just waiting to ruin the dreams of children. It takes the form of nonstop propaganda about global warming.

When I was a child, the bogyman was an imaginary creature hiding under my bed. Now, thanks to Al Gore and his ilk, bogymen are lurching across the countryside like the zombies in horror movies, terrifying the kids. That’s all the kids, including the little sons and daughters of liberals. According to recent studies, a huge percentage of 10-year-olds believe the earth will be entirely under water before they’re grown-up. I call it child abuse, and if those parents weren’t a bunch of politically correct, brain-dead, pantywaists, they’d put a stop to it. Instead, they take their kids to see left-wing pap like “Earth,” and they cheer on people like Gore and Pelosi, who are making millions upon millions of dollars off their investments in this massive hoax. These self-righteous cretins love green, okay; greenbacks, that is.

Unlike Chicken Little, who insisted the sky was falling, and scared all the critters in the barnyard, these greedy little creeps are screaming that the ice is melting, and scaring all the kids in the schoolyard.

Copyright © 2009 Salem Web Network. All Rights Reserved.

United in Hate

United in Hate
Ashley Herzog
Monday, May 25, 2009

If you’ve ever wondered why radical leftists—who supposedly care about women’s rights—feel compelled to justify Islam’s violent oppression of women, you should read United in Hate by Jamie Glazov.

Glazov does an excellent job of examining the love affair between leftists in the West and radical Muslims who treat women as “less worthy than cows and sheep,” as Palestinian writer Souad says in the book. While some liberals in the U.S. and Europe have no problem telling the truth about Islamic gender apartheid, others fanatically defend it.

Consider the issue of rape. Rape is common in Muslim countries, and often results in a death sentence—for the victim.

“In 2004, a sixteen-year old girl, Atefeh Rajabi, was hanged in a public square in Iran,” feminist writer Phyllis Chesler wrote in her book The Death of Feminism. “Her crime? Rajabi was charged with adultery—which probably means she was raped. Her rapist was not executed.” Rape victims are frequently stoned to death with the approval of Muslim courts, and it is estimated that 75 percent of female prisoners in Pakistan are behind bars because they were raped.

Therefore, it’s not surprising when Muslim immigrants import their rape-supportive cultures to the West: in 2001, Norwegian newspapers reported that two-thirds of rape suspects were Muslim men.

How did the Western apologists respond? Unni Wikan, a professor of social anthropology at the University of Oslo, said the victims had it coming for not veiling themselves from head to toe, as women in countries like Saudi Arabia are forced to do.

“Norwegian women must take their share of responsibility for these rapes,” Wikan said. “Women must realize that we live in a multicultural society and adapt themselves to it.” (Wikan echoed Danish Muslim leader Shahid Mehdi, who said women who don’t veil themselves are “asking for rape.”)

The radical left also lies about the nature of female genital mutilation (FGM), a savage practice in which a little girl has her labia and clitoris cut out without anesthetics in order to keep her from enjoying sex. In 2007, when David Horowitz attempted to raise the issue of FGM during a speech at Emory University, angry protestors chanted “that’s not Islam!”

Really? Maybe they should explain why Sheikh Muhammed Sayyid Tantawi, “the highest spiritual authority for nearly a billion Sunni Muslims,” according to the BBC, defends FGM, calling it “a laudable practice.”

Women who have been subjected to FGM also confirm its religious roots. Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a Somali ex-Muslim and women’s rights activist, said the practice is “justified in the name of Islam.” In 2000, a brave Somali girl named Kadra secretly taped Norwegian Muslim imams encouraging their followers to practice FGM. For this, she was brutally attacked by a group of Muslim men, who broke several of her ribs.

The radical left’s response to FGM is to lecture us on “cultural sensitivity.” In a finger-wagging article in the Northwestern University Journal of International Human Rights, Rachelle Cassman said efforts to stop FGM must not include “the imposition of Western beliefs on African cultures.” She reminded readers that “all cultures are equally valid.”

Then there’s the fact that many Muslims approve of wife-beating. As Phyllis Chesler notes, “The Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences has determined that over ninety percent of Pakistani wives have been struck, beaten, or abused sexually — for offenses on the order of cooking an unsatisfactory meal or failing to give birth to a male child.” (Domestic violence has the approval of Muslim leaders, such as Spanish Muslim cleric Mohamed Kamal Mustafa, whose book Women in Islam gave men specific instructions for hitting their wives.)

A 2002 poll taken by the Palestinian Center for Public Opinion found that most Palestinians support wife-beating, and 57 percent agreed that “a man has the right to beat up his wife if she underestimates his manhood.” Souad recalls of her childhood in Palestine, “It was the law of men. The girls and women were certainly beaten every day in the other houses, too. You could hear the crying.”

Given this uncomfortable truth, the apologists have invented an interesting excuse: It’s the Jews’ fault. “Leftist feminists admit that Palestinian men are abusive, but argue they are so only because of the humiliation they feel under Israeli ‘occupation,’” Glazov writes. “As feminist author Jan Goodwin argues…if only American and Israeli oppression stopped, Palestinian men would no longer feel a need to beat their wives.”

No matter what the evidence, people who tell the truth about radical Muslims’ abuse of women are accused of “racism,” “Islamophobia,” and my personal favorite, “cultural imperialism.” (I know—how dare I think that American culture is superior to cultures that hang rape victims?)

Why? As the title of Glazov’s book suggests, the radical left is united in hate—which includes a hatred of their own culture, and a fanatical need to excuse the horrific practices of others.

For anyone who wants to learn more about this subject, I suggest reading United in Hate and visiting http://www.TerrorismAwareness.org, which has resources on Islam’s violent oppression of women.

Copyright © 2009 Salem Web Network. All Rights Reserved.

A Closer Look at Climate Change

A Closer Look at Climate Change
Mark W. Hendrickson
Monday, May 25, 2009

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is widely regarded in the media as the ultimate authority on climate change. Created by two divisions of the United Nations, and recipient of the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize, its pronouncements are received as if they come down from Mount Olympus or Mount Sinai. The common presumption is that the IPCC has assembled the best scientific knowledge. Let’s take a closer look at this organization to see whether it merits such uncritical deference.

The IPCC’s Feb. 2007 report stated: It is “very likely” that human activity is causing global warming. Why then, just two months later, did the Vice Chair of the IPCC, Yuri Izrael, write, “the panic over global warming is totally unjustified;” “there is no serious threat to the climate;” and humanity is “hypothetically … more threatened by cold than by global warming?”

IPCC press releases have warned about increased concentrations of greenhouse gases in Earth’s atmosphere, yet Dr. Vincent Gray, a member of the IPCC’s expert reviewers’ panel asserts, “There is no relationship between warming and [the] level of gases in the atmosphere.”

A 2001 IPCC report presented 245 potential scenarios. The media publicity that followed focused on the most extreme scenario, prompting the report’s lead author, atmospheric scientist Dr. John Christy, to rebuke media sensationalism and affirm, “The world is in much better shape than this doomsday scenario paints … the worst-case scenario [is] not going to happen.”

Clearly, the IPCC does not speak as one voice when leading scientists on its panel contradict its official position. The solution to this apparent riddle lies in the structure of the IPCC itself. What the media report are the policymakers’ summaries, not the far lengthier reports prepared by scientists. The policymakers’ summaries are produced by a committee of 51 government appointees, many of whom are not scientists.

The policymakers’ summaries are presented as the “consensus” of 2,500 scientists who have contributed input to the IPCC’s scientific reports. “Consensus” does NOT mean that all of the scientists endorse the policymakers’ summaries. In fact, some of the 2,500 scientists have resigned in protest against those summaries. Other contributing scientists, such as the individuals quoted above, publicly contradict the assertions of the policymakers’ summaries.

To better understand the “consensus” presented in the policymakers’ summaries, it is helpful to be aware of the structure of the IPCC. Those who compose the summaries are given considerable latitude to modify the scientific reports. Page four of Appendix A to the Principles Governing IPCC Work states: “Changes (other than grammatical or minor editorial changes) made after acceptance by the Working Group of the Panel shall be those necessary to ensure consistency with the Summary for Policymakers or the Overview Chapter.” In other words, when there is a discrepancy between what the scientists say and what the authors of the policymakers’ summaries want to say, the latter prevails.

Here is a specific example: One policymakers’ summary omitted several important unequivocal conclusions contained in the scientists’ report, including, “No study to date has positively attributed all or part [of observed climate change] to anthropogenic [i.e., man-made] causes,” and “None of the studies cited above has shown clear evidence that we can attribute the observed changes to the specific cause of increases in greenhouse gases.” These significant revisions were made, according to IPCC officials quoted in Nature magazine, “to ensure that it [the report] conformed to a policymakers’ summary.”

Elsewhere, Rule 3 of IPCC procedures states: “Documents should involve both peer review by experts and review by governments.” In practice, IPCC sometimes bypasses scientific peer review, and the policymakers’ summaries reflect only governmental (political) review. This shouldn’t be surprising. After all, the IPCC is a political, not a scientific, entity. It is the “Inter-GOVERNMENTAL Panel on Climate Change,” not a “global SCIENTISTS’ panel.”

Also, “consensus” is a political phenomenon, a compromise, whereas scientific truth is not subject to obtaining a political majority. (Actually, 31,000 scientists have signed a petition protesting the “consensus” that human activity is dangerously altering the Earth’s climate. Consider that against the 2,500 scientists cited by IPCC—many of whom publicly refute IPCC’s press releases.)

To its credit, the IPCC debunks many of the alarmist exaggerations of radical greens. However, its scientific authority remains irreparably compromised by political tampering. When a U.S. State Department official writes to the co-chair of the IPCC that “it is essential that … chapter authors be prevailed upon to modify their text in an appropriate manner,” the political character of IPCC is plain.

The sponsors of the IPCC, the United Nations, and liberal American politicians all share the goal of reducing Americans’ wealth by capping our consumption of energy with a binding international climate change treaty. They are willing to resort to scientific fraud to further their goal. In the words of Al Gore’s ally, former Under-Secretary of State Tim Wirth, “Even if the theory of global warming is wrong, we will be doing the right thing” by reducing Americans’ consumption of fossil fuels. Keep that in mind whenever the IPCC is cited in support of a climate treaty.

Copyright © 2009 Salem Web Network. All Rights Reserved.