Tuesday, August 31, 2010
Obama's Appalling Mistreatment of Israel
As Israeli and Palestinian peace talks are scheduled to resume in Washington in a few days, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reiterated that Palestinian recognition of Israel as the Jewish homeland is an essential condition for peace. Completely reasonable, yet don't keep your fingers crossed, especially with the Obama administration's attitude toward Israel.
In my new book, "Crimes Against Liberty" (I know, another shameless plug, but you'd do the same in my position), I dedicate an entire chapter to detailing the Obama administration's horrendous and unprecedented mistreatment of Israel. Can you believe we're even having a discussion about Israel's right to the land six-plus decades and numerous wars after the modern Israeli state was restored to the Jews?
It's bad enough when misfit countries oppose Israel's right to existence and always demonize Israel while downplaying the Palestinians' misdeeds, but it's shocking and disturbing when the president of the United States abuses our greatest ally in the Mideast.
It's mystifying to me that so many Jewish people in America have been so tolerant of Obama's behavior toward Israel, almost as if in denial, but what more evidence do we need?
During the campaign, it was widely suspected that Obama had strong ties with pro-Palestinian groups, not to mention his membership in the Rev. Jeremiah Wright's church -- one that is known for its sympathy for the causes of certain terrorist organizations and the Palestinian position.
The Los Angeles Times reportedly possessed and protected a damning video of Obama toasting Rashid Khalidi, a former PLO operative and an outspoken Israel critic who, after the 9/11 attacks, referred to the media's "hysteria about suicide bombers."
Obama's official campaign website, Organizing for America, permitted the posting of a blog entry titled "How the Jewish Lobby Works." Though the post was eventually removed, it's suspicious that someone with posting privileges had these virulently anti-Semitic views. The post said: "No lobby is feared more or catered to by politicians than the Jewish Lobby. If a politician does not play ball with the Jewish Lobby, he will not get elected, or re-elected, and he will either be smeared or ignored by the Jewish-owned major media." NewsBusters cited numerous other links to similar anti-Jewish posts on the website, showing this was not an isolated event. How does one explain away that kind of climate in the bowels of the administration?
Once elected, Obama appointed James Jones as his national security adviser, a man The Lid said is "not known as a friend of the Jewish State." Jones assembled a team that reportedly intended to be tougher and "impose a solution on" Israel. Early in his term, Obama pledged more than $900 million to rebuild Gaza and to shore up the Palestinian Authority. The rationale was to strengthen Palestinian moderates, but many experts warned that much of this money could get into the hands of Hamas and other terrorist organizations.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton gratuitously denounced Israel's treatment of Palestinians in Gaza while ignoring the many Palestinian sins against Israel. The administration also demanded that Israel negotiate with Syria -- a primary sponsor of Hezbollah -- just two days after Syrian foreign minister Walid Mueller praised a speech by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad calling Israel "the most cruel and repressive racist regime."
The administration has also applied fierce pressure on Israel to acquiesce on the matter of the creation of a Palestinian state, even to the point of conditioning our efforts to thwart Iran's nuclear ambitions on that Israeli concession. Obama directed our return to the U.N. Human Rights Council, which the Bush administration had left nine months before because the council had incessantly condemned Israel while ignoring the abuses of Mideast dictatorships. Obama snubbed Netanyahu and announced he would discontinue the established practice of hosting Israeli prime ministers when they are in Washington.
Obama's Mideast envoy, George Mitchell, adopted the controversial 2002 Arab Peace Initiative, which called for Israel to withdraw from east Jerusalem, the entire West Bank and Golan Heights and also for Israel to accept the influx of millions of foreign Arabs as Israeli citizens as part of the "right of return." Mideast expert Caroline Glick says this would mean "Israel would effectively cease to be a Jewish state."
Vice President Biden engaged in a public temper tantrum and harshly "condemned" Israel for not bowing to the administration's demands that it discontinue its settlements in east Jerusalem. Rarely does the United States publicly condemn an ally, especially in such harsh terms.
We're just scratching the surface, but surely you get the picture. There is, however, one gratifying development in this ongoing saga. Finally, some Jewish Americans have had enough and are speaking up. As I chronicle in the book, former New York Mayor Ed Koch wrote two scathing editorials against Obama's appalling policies and called out his fellow Jews to speak up against them. Amazingly, Obama's stalwart supporter Sen. Chuck Schumer finally joined Koch in pushing back. Others, not just American Jews, need to wake up.
David Limbaugh, brother of radio talk-show host Rush Limbaugh, is an expert in law and politics and author of Bankrupt: The Intellectual and Moral Bankruptcy of Today's Democratic Party.
To read another article by Caroline Glick about Israel, click here.
To read another article by David Limbaugh, click here.
Posted by Brett at 4:24 PM
Time to START Standing Up for America
Among the dangers lurking in Congress's fall session and lame duck session will be Obama's demand that the Senate rush to ratify the treaty called New START, which he signed with the Russians in Prague last April. This treaty is not only a bad idea, it's downright dangerous to U.S. national security.
For the first time in the long record of U.S.-Russian treaties, New START links offensive and defensive weapons. Obama's advocates of ratification say that doesn't matter because the link is only in the preamble and that doesn't bind us.
But this interpretation hasn't been cleared with the Russians, who assert that the preamble puts a binding limit on the U.S. missile defense program. The Russian government issued a statement that the New START treaty "can operate and be viable only if the United States refrains from developing its missile defense capabilities quantitatively or qualitatively."
The Russians are salivating at the thought that the New START proclaims their victory in their long-running battle to kill U.S. missile defenses. For decades, Russia's primary goal was to stop the United States from building any anti-missile capability.
Ronald Reagan's adamant refusal to give up his Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) was the principal reason he won the Cold War (without firing a shot, as Margaret Thatcher said). But now Barack Obama is casually willing to abandon our right to build defensive weapons.
Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., accurately warns that New START revives the Cold War policy known as MAD, a label that famously served as a double entendre. The acronym stands for Mutual Assured Destruction, the policy that was supposed to deter nuclear attack because of the threat that the United States was committed to retaliate and dump massive destruction on the Soviet Union.
In the years of the Cold War, we assumed we were dealing with a rational enemy who, even though dedicated to world conquest, dared not risk such devastating retaliation. That may not be true of today's potential adversaries, who have trained their younger generation to believe that suicide is noble and their key to Heaven.
New START doesn't make nukes obsolete, it just tries to ensure that the U.S. and Russia have an equal capacity to destroy each other. Most important, New START does nothing whatever to protect us from a nuclear Iran or North Korea or Syria or even China.
The U.S. Constitution gives the Senate "advice and consent" power over treaties. But the Obama administration refuses to let senators review the treaty's negotiating documents.
Whatever happened to transparency? Secretary of State Hillary Clinton asserts that it's not customary to allow senators to see the records, but DeMint cited the precedent of two previous U.S.-U.S.S.R. treaties that disprove her claim -- the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty and the 1972 ABM Treaty.
New START bars the U.S. and Russia from deploying more than 1,550 strategic warheads and 700 launchers. To achieve that goal, we will have to destroy some of our missiles and not modernize the ones we keep because the treaty locks us into a permanent comprehensive nuclear test ban.
The State Department admits that Russia has consistently cheated on all its arms-control treaties, including the 1991 START I treaty right up until it expired last December. Russia admits that it cheated on the famous 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty, from which President George W. Bush finally (and thankfully) withdrew the United States.
U.S. intelligence analysts have raised questions about whether Russian cheating can even be detected. But a State Department report to Congress claims that potential Russian cheating on the New START nuclear-arms treaty would not be significant because the benefits of cheating would be "questionable."
Senator John McCain, R-Ariz., said we're all wasting a lot of time if the State Department admits that Russia has consistently cheated on all arms-control treaties as a matter of course and that cheating doesn't matter anyway. McCain believes that cheating does matter.
Another provision where the New START treaty favors Russia is that it fails to limit Russia's massive tactical nuclear weapons for use on the battlefield. They outnumber U.S. tactical nukes by a ratio of 10 to one and can be launched from rockets, submarines and bomber planes.
The New START treaty is based on Obama's foolish notion that the United States can create "a world without nuclear weapons." We have power only to create a world without American nuclear weapons, a condition that would make us a sitting duck for countries that have evil nuclear objectives.
The New START treaty is a big victory for Russia and defeat for the United States. The Senate should reject it.
Phyllis Schlafly is a national leader of the pro-family movement, a nationally syndicated columnist and author of Feminist Fantasies.
To read another article by Phyllis Schlafly, click here.
Posted by Brett at 4:22 PM
Warlord for Congress
Ilario Pantano is a Warlord. That was the name of his U.S. Marines unit when he served during the Iraqi War. It was his second tour of duty after serving previously in the Gulf War. He had returned to civilian life during the 1990s and was working on Wall Street when the attacks of September 11th rocked his office in lower Manhattan. The first thing he did after the attacks was to go to his barber to get a military-style haircut. He knew right away that he was going back to war.
Some of you may remember Ilario Pantano from his appearance on The Daily Show with John Stewart. He was promoting his book Warlord: No Better Friend, No Worse Enemy. I will never forget the interview because I have never seen John Stewart behave in such a respectful and professional manner while interviewing someone so diametrically opposed to him politically.
And there was plenty of potential for fireworks in the interview. Pantano had been accused of murder after killing two insurgents during intense fighting near Bagdad. But Ilario Pantano was cleared of all charges in an Article 32 Hearing, which is the military equivalent of a preliminary hearing. No trial was ever convened.
Ilario Pantano also acquitted himself well in the court of public opinion. Even when dealing with tough adversaries like John Stewart he overwhelmed them with a sharp mind and an articulate tongue. When I saw his interview with Stewart I knew Ilario Pantano was congressional material.
And now the Warlord is running for Congress against Mike McIntyre – a Democrat who voted against the surge in Iraq.
It is fitting that Ilario Pantano gunned down two Iraqi insurgents on April 15th – the day we are all reminded by the IRS that our freedoms in America are in grave jeopardy. The Warlord favors either the Fair Tax or a flat tax over the present income tax system. He promises a very different kind of change than what we have seen under the current administration.
Maybe that is why just last week Democrat Mike McIntyre opened their debate with a lie about the intentions of candidate Ilario Pantano. The entrenched incumbent claimed that the Warlord intends to raise taxes by 23% - an allusion to his opponent’s openness to the Fair Tax bill.
Mike McIntyre knows the Fair Tax replaces the income tax rather than adding 23% to the existing income tax. He is not ignorant. He is being willfully dishonest. Apparently, there is greater honor among Marines than among career politicians.
But Mike McIntyre’s Fair Tax dishonesty pales in comparison with the dishonesty of our local New York Times affiliate, the Wilmington Star News. The paper previously won awards for its coverage of the Pantano Article 32 Hearing. That coverage was instrumental in conveying to the public that the principal accuser against Pantano was a disgruntled Sergeant whom Pantano had demoted. That Sergeant’s testimony was so riddled with inconsistency that he was yanked from the stand and read his Miranda warnings in the midst of the proceedings.
But, now, after one of its reporters has collected an award for his coverage of the Pantano hearing, the New York Times affiliate has turned on the war hero. He threatens to unseat their Democratic candidate. So the paper is now printing numerous Letters to the Editor, which accuse Pantano of a lack of judgment for shooting two “unarmed” men – who, incidentally, ignored his warnings in both English and Arabic.
The liberal writers of Letters to the Editor don’t have the kind of psychic powers required to discern whether a silent man is armed. But their pompous comments reveal that they are both intellectually and morally unarmed.
These letters do indeed show a dark and disturbing side of the liberal mindset. When a civilian is accused of murder he is innocent until proven guilty. When a Marine is accused of murder he remains guilty after proven innocent.
But war heroes like Ilario Pantano should not be discouraged. It isn’t anything personal. The people who read our local New York Times affiliate don’t hate Ilario Pantano. They just hate America.
In the end, this will all play out nicely for the decorated Warlord. People will only remember that he killed two Iraqi insurgents. Most people don’t think that disqualifies someone from serving in Congress. Most of us wish it were a requirement.
Author’s Note: Please take the time to log on to www.PantanoForCongress.com
Mike Adams is a criminology professor at the University of North Carolina Wilmington and author of Feminists Say the Darndest Things: A Politically Incorrect Professor Confronts "Womyn" On Campus.
To read another article by Mike Adams, click here.
Posted by Brett at 4:20 PM
Friend of the Brotherhood
A new Pew Center poll says nearly one-in-five Americans think Barack Obama is a Muslim. Perhaps that is because of reports like the one blared on the cover of the September 6 edition of the tabloid, The Globe, replete with photos of Mr. Obama in Muslim garb: It found "shocking proof" in a Nile TV interview given earlier this year by the Egyptian Foreign Affairs Minister, Ahmed Aboul Gheit, disclosing that "the American President told me in confidence that he is a Muslim."
A better explanation is that more Americans are taking note of the accumulating series of statements and actions by the President that display favoritism, or worse, towards Muslims. That would be troubling enough; after all, no chief executive is supposed to support one subset of us over others.
Growing numbers of our countrymen may be on to something else about the Obama presidency, however, that is even more alarming: In instance after instance, Mr. Obama has seemingly bent over backwards to accommodate not just Muslim-Americans, but a deeply problematic organization - the Muslim Brotherhood (or Ikhwan) - that purports to represent their interests here.
In fact, the Brotherhood seeks to do something most Muslims in this country - and needless to say, the rest of us - do not want: According to the organization's mission statement, it is waging "a kind of grand jihad eliminating and destroying the Western civilization from within and ‘sabotaging' its miserable house by their hands and the hands of the believers so that it is eliminated and God's religion is made victorious over all other religions."
One need not believe that the President of the United States has actually embraced this radical goal to be concerned. It is enough that he has repeatedly said and done things that conform to, or otherwise advance, the Ikhwan's agenda as articulated by the Brotherhood's myriad front organizations in the United States.
Consider the following, necessarily partial listing of actions - some symbolic, some substantive - that can legitimately be seen by the Muslim Brothers as evidence of our President's submission (the literally meaning of "Islam" and the goal of all those who, like the Ikhwan, seek to impose shariah worldwide):
* Mr. Obama declared in his inaugural address that, "The United States is a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus and non-believers." The ordering of "Muslims" before "Jews" was clearly deliberate, since the latter have been and are in the United States in far larger numbers than the former and have played a much more important role in the nation's history from its founding. Subsequently, he went even further, describing (inaccurately) America as "one of the largest Muslim countries in the world."
* In his much-ballyhooed address to "the Muslim world" delivered in Cairo in June 2009, Mr. Obama signaled his determination not only to "reach out" to followers of Islam. He also committed himself to an initiative - clearing the way for Muslims to "fulfill their zakat (tithing for charity) obligations" - that would have the practical effect of giving Brotherhood operatives (whose representatives he insisted be in the audience) more latitude to engage in material support for terrorism and, thereby, wage their "civilization jihad" in and from America.
* In September 2009, the Obama administration co-sponsored a United Nations Human Rights Council resolution eagerly sought by the Muslim Brotherhood and its friends. The resolution called on member nations to "prohibit and criminalize" speech that offends Islam and its followers. Such an accommodation would clearly violate the Constitution's First Amendment guarantees of freedom of expression.
* Speaking of the Constitution, the Obama administration is arguing in federal court that the U.S. government's ownership of AIG, which happens to be the largest purveyor of shariah-compliant insurance products in the world, does not violate the Establishment Clause's separation of church and state.
* We recently learned that, according to President Obama, the NASA Administrator's "foremost" priority is to make Muslims feel better about themselves and their history. Job 1 is not assuring U.S. supremacy in space, or even assured access to it; it's Muslim outreach and therapy.
* Then, last month, President Obama endorsed the megamosque near Ground Zero in a White House Iftar dinner attended by prominent Muslim Brotherhood operatives. Subsequent efforts to distance himself from that stance, in the face of intense criticism from the public and politicians of both parties, has only put into even sharper focus his pandering to this community.
* Now, my Center for Security Policy colleague Christine Brim has broken the story of a major new Obama initiative in that vein. In the words of the largest Muslim Brotherhood organization in the country, the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), "A phenomenal next step has been made where government Iftars become coupled with workshops to provide resources and benefit the Muslim community. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (DOA) and the [Muslim Brotherhood-associated] Coordinating Council of Muslim Organizations (CCMO) have paired the first of such events, scheduled for August 31, 2010."
The latest poll suggests that most Americans do not believe Barack Obama is a Muslim. And for the vast majority of us, it would not matter even if he were - provided he does not subscribe to the Brotherhood's creed: "God is our objective; the Koran is our law; the Prophet is our leader; jihad is our way; and death for the sake of Allah is the highest of our aspirations."
Still, the public is clearly increasingly, and rightly, concerned about Mr. Obama's policies of favoritism and submission towards the worst elements in Islam. Before tax-dollars are spent to that end, we need a national debate about such policies, and the grave dangers posed by their seeming principal beneficiary: the Muslim Brotherhood.
Frank Gaffney Jr. is the founder and president of the Center for Security Policy and author of War Footing: 10 Steps America Must Take to Prevail in the War for the Free World.
To read another article by Frank Gaffney Jr., click here.
Posted by Brett at 4:18 PM
Is America Only for White People?
Joseph C. Phillips
Is America only for white people? The question stuck in my mind following yet another e-mail exchange with a friend of mine, regarding my conservatism. For this particular gentleman, being black in America is at odds with conservatism. As he put it:
“…Particularly as African-Americans, I feel we are in no real position to idealize the American experience and get too choked up about institutions and symbols that were not created with us in mind. Certainly, we cannot cast our lot with those who are actively seeking to destroy those gains we have made.”
I have a number of issues with the above statement, not the least of which is that the principles that inspired the American founding were always viewed as universal principles, which applied to all of mankind. Curiously, it wasn’t until the introduction of Historicist and Darwinian philosophy (which gave birth to Progressivism) that some Americans began to argue otherwise. And of course, I disagree that conservatives are actively seeking to destroy all of the gains black America has made.
It is important to note that the sentiments that my friend expresses are similar to the political attitudes which continue to permeate much of the black community. These same attitudes are also particularly present in the thinking of the black leftists, who have long held the conviction that the existence of slavery at our nation’s founding renders our Constitution a hollow document; the institutions and symbols that sprang from the founding were bereft of moral authority; the founders were hypocrites and liars, and the American dream is little more than a cruel myth.
From this conviction a kind of “cultural revolutionary defiance” has arisen, that is to say: black authenticity began to be increasingly measured by the degree to which black people defined themselves by way of their ethnicity, expressed anger at historical injuries, and were critical of, or rejected American symbols and institutions.
In this respect, my friend is a true new-revolutionary. But the issue he raises is not a new one, neither is it exclusive to American blacks.
In July of 1858, Abraham Lincoln addressed the question of how almost half of the citizens of this country could take pride and ownership in the accomplishments of the nation when they were not “historically related” to the founders, or those living on these shores at the time of the founding. Lincoln answered: “If they look back through this history to trace their connection with those days by blood, they find they have none, they cannot carry themselves back into that glorious epoch and make themselves feel that they are part of us, but when they look through that old Declaration of Independence they find that those old men say that ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal,’ and then they feel that that moral sentiment taught in that day evidences their relation to those men, that it is the father of all moral principle in them, and that they have a right to claim it as though they were blood of the blood, and flesh of the flesh of the men who wrote that Declaration, and so they are. That is the electric cord in that Declaration that links the hearts of patriotic and liberty-loving men together--that will link those patriotic hearts as long as the love of freedom exists in the minds of men throughout the world."
The essential element that my friend and the black leftists have missed is that what binds us together as Americans is not shared blood, race, ethnicity, or tribe; it is the unshakable belief in certain universal principles. The American experience is not attached to men who were flawed, but is instead fixed to ideas that remain flawless. The institutions and symbols of America are reflective of the revolutionary idea that all men are the property of God, created with an equal right to life, liberty, private property, and the free pursuit of bettering their station in life. Martin Luther King, Jr., put it more succinctly: “The American dream reminds us…that every man is an heir of the legacy of dignity and worth.”
All of us, whether our ancestors arrived through the gates of Ellis Island or survived travel through the Middle Passage are heirs to that grand idea. It is this idea that animates true conservatism and moreover, it is ONLY that idea—those principles—that made possible the huge gains that black Americans have made in this country and indeed in the world. It is, perhaps, also the reason that more Africans have freely chosen to come to America than were ever imported in slave ships.
In response to my friend, all Americans should ask: If not America, where? If not American symbols, which symbols? If not American institutions, which institutions will do? If not the principles of the American founding, upon which principles do the black left propose to build a new America—an America they can “idolize” and “get choked up about”?
Ask Van Jones.
These forward-thinking paragons, nursed on the mother’s-milk of Marx and Mao, would build their new America on the bedrock of economic redistribution and racial favoritism. I believe we tried that once in this country…
Joseph C. Phillips is the author of “He Talk Like A White Boy” available wherever books are sold.
To read another article by Joseph C. Phillips, click here.
Posted by Brett at 4:17 PM
More Government to Protect Us From Ourselves
Putting more and more wolves in charge of guarding the henhouse might characterize the big problems we’ve now created for ourselves.
Government is growing. The private economy is shrinking. Those wielding political power see fewer and fewer problems they believe private citizens can solve on our own. Soon, each one of us will have our own personal guardian bureaucrat.
The real difference between us and the hens is that the hens are not paying for the wolves’ salaries and benefits.
This past week new rules governing our credit cards kicked in, following passage of the Credit Card Accountability and Responsibility Act, signed into law last year.
The point of the CARD Act is to protect us consumers from the scheming bankers from whom we get our credit cards.
As result of these new protections, consumers can be grateful that credit card interest rates are the only interest rates that are not now dropping. According to the Wall Street Journal, the average card interest rate is now 1.6% higher than last year and the gap between credit card rates and the prime lending interest rate is the highest it’s been in 22 years.
More good news for consumers is that there is less credit available. The average credit limit on new cards being issued is down 11% from last year.
And, because the CARD Act implements new rules limiting the flexibility that banks have, for example, in changing rates on balances of overdue accounts or on exceeding credit limits, banks are simply finding new ways to raise revenue.
Over the last year median annual fees on cards increased 18% and median fees on cash advances increased 33%.
It’s hard for our politicians, who are busy spending our money and raising our taxes so we can pay them to protect us, to grasp that there is a private economy in our country with private businesses that earn their living serving consumers. And that when regulators start telling them what to do, businesses must find alternative ways to provide their services and earn a living or shut down.
Equally hard for politicians to grasp is that if our private economy is left free, it’s competitive. So if consumers are not getting a good deal, and there is a better deal to be had, a competitor will step in and offer it. Nor can power loving politicians fathom that, except in the case of our new health care law, in which government will force private citizens to buy government defined health insurance, citizen consumers are free to do and buy what they like.
There are no penalties or interest payments for credit card holders who pay their bills on time. So those allegedly getting protection by these new rules are those who choose not to. Those who do pay on time now will pay higher fees to finance these new protections. And, it will be harder to get cards, which will hurt low income families that liberals supposedly care so much about.
There’s even more good news in store for those who think freedom is the root cause of our financial problems.
Soon we will have the Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection in place, as result of the Dodd-Frank financial regulation bill just signed into law. The new bureau was set up in about 400 pages of the several thousand page bill, and, with a $500 million dollar budget and several thousand employees, will protect us in every other aspect of our financial lives.
It’s good that our politicians are getting our financial affairs in order for us.
Proof that we can rely on them is that our government debt is now almost 60% of our GDP and projected to reach 100% by 2020. Standard & Poor’s has just indicated that the AAA rating of US government bonds may have to be reduced, showing that the United States is now a credit risk.
Star Parker is the founder and president of CURE, the Coalition for Urban Renewal & Education, a 501c3 think tank which explores and promotes market based public policy to fight poverty, as well as author of White Ghetto: How Middle Class America Reflects Inner City Decay.
To read another article by Star Parker, click here.
Posted by Brett at 4:14 PM
Obama, Stem Cells, and the Rule of Law
During his inaugural address, President Obama pledged to "restore science to its rightful place." The comment was interpreted at the time as a not-so-subtle jab at his predecessor's policy approach to the issue of embryonic stem cell research (ESCR), and in March 2009 Mr. Obama confirmed this interpretation with an executive order overturning restrictions on federally-funded ESCR put in place by former-President Bush. But not everyone agrees with the President's vision of science's "rightful place," particularly when his pursuit of this vision involves undermining the rule of law and disregarding the sanctity of human life. Not surprisingly, therefore, the President's executive order was challenged in court, and this week, opponents of ESCR have a reason to celebrate. On August 23, 2010, federal Judge Royce Lamberth issued a temporary injunction against the President's order after concluding that it violates the plain language of the current federal law banning taxpayer funding of the destruction of human embryos for research purposes.
In predictable hyperbolic fashion, critics of judge Lamberth's decision enjoining President Obama's executive order on ESCR are declaring that "the sky is falling." According to Sean Tipton at the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, the injunction "blocks important research on how to unlock the enormous potential of human embryonic stem cells," and "will be incredibly disruptive and once again drive the best scientific minds into work less likely to yield treatments for conditions from diabetes to spinal cord injury."
Mr. Tipton ignores that fact that Mr. Obama's executive order flies in the face of a federal law known as the Dickey-Wicker Amendment, which has been in place since 1996 and which prohibits federal funding of research involving the creation or destruction of human embryos. This law went into effect because a majority of members of Congress rejected the "ends justifies the means" approach advocated by Mr. Tipton and others like him – people who are willing to throw off any ethical restraints in pursuit of so-called scientific endeavor. A proponent of the utilitarian "science without limits" approach to scientific investigation, the newly minted President tried to do an end run around the unambiguous law by redefining the word "research" to mean something other than its plain meaning and then authorizing this "research" by an executive order.
The Obama administration, of course, wasted no time in announcing its plans to appeal the ruling.
President Obama and his supporters in the scientific community argue that any impediment to ESCR is necessarily an impediment to the fight against terrible diseases and medical conditions. The potential of ESCR, they insist, is limitless and unprecedented. Failure to pursue this technology vigorously, then, would be to condemn countless individuals to needless suffering and death. Dig a little deeper, however, and it becomes immediately apparent that this position is not one based upon any kind of scientific evidence, but rather upon an ideological conviction that views the pursuit of scientific knowledge as a sacrosanct endeavor that should not be made subject to pedestrian ethical or moral constraints of any kind, period.
Is this the philosophy of science that President Obama had in mind when he spoke of science's "proper place?" Is this why his executive order discontinued funding for alternatives to ESCR, alternatives that have proven more successful than the embryonic approach without any of the ethical controversy? Is this why he felt justified in manipulating the power of his office to override standing federal law? It's clear from the president's words and actions on this issue that the answer to all of the above is a resounding "yes."
Unfortunately for Mr. Obama and his boutique constituency of scientific "experts," the American people have very strong views when it comes to issues dealing with the sanctity of human life, be it ESCR or abortion or euthanasia. And, thankfully, there are still some members of the Judiciary who have very strong views when it comes to abuse of executive authority. These two factors, when combined, are likely to prove difficult to overcome, even for someone of Obama's notable political gifts. He just might have gotten away with it if it weren't for that pesky judge! Kudos to Judge Lamberth for exposing the President's executive order for what it really is: a thinly-veiled, ideologically motivated attempt at an end run around the Constitution.
Ken Connor is Chairman of the Center for a Just Society in Washington, DC.
To read another article by Ken Conner, click here.
Posted by Brett at 4:11 PM
Muslim By Default
Scott Wheeler 8-28-10
Editors' note: this piece is co-authored by Buckley Carlson
The so-called “mainstream media” has spent the past week trying to determine how anywhere from one fifth to one quarter of the American people could conclude that President Obama is a Muslim. The commentary has almost universally condemned Americans as “ignorant,” “ill-informed,” “racist,” or “bigoted," asserting disdainfully that it's "obvious" that Obama is a Christian.
"Obvious?" What IS obvious is what the media has overlooked: themselves, President Obama, and Muslims.
Author, and proud Muslim, Asma Gull Hasan wrote in February 2009 Forbes Magazine that “since Election Day, I have been part of more and more conversations with Muslims in which it was either offhandedly agreed that Obama is Muslim or enthusiastically blurted out. In commenting on our new president, ‘I have to support my fellow Muslim brother,’ would slip out of my mouth before I had a chance to think twice.”
But the mainstream media is now mocking the increasing number of Americans who believe Obama is a Muslim. Well now that we shown that those Americans are in agreement with these Muslims, does this make the Muslims bigoted or the media?
Had they done their job investigating Barack Obama during the last election, then Americans might have a better handle on even the basic dimensions of America's 44th president. But the media completely abdicated its responsibility, failing to provide any coverage skeptical of the Obama campaign's own tightly scripted narrative.
So invested were they in Obama's victory, the mainstream media ignored, or in some cases, actively jeered at any story lines that called into question Obama's fitness for office. This included his shocking lack of experience; his decades-long association with domestic terrorist Bill Ayers and Bernadine Dorn and his anti-American "minister," Jeremiah Wright; his relationship with now-convicted tax-evader and all around sleazy character Tony Rezko or his father's Muslim heritage.
Remember, this is the media that so thoroughly browbeat a third-tier surrogate of the McCain campaign for referring to "Barack Hussein Obama", that John McCain himself subsequently declared, publicly, that his opponent's middle name was henceforth off limits. [And speaking of names, you would have been fortunate, indeed, to discover the fact that Obama had for decades answered to the groovy, 70's moniker, "Barry" until it became politically advantageous for him to adopt "Barack" as his ethnic-novelty name.]
But nothing earned the media's contempt during the '08 election quite like the suggestion, however muted, that Obama might be a Muslim...or might harbor Socialist ideals. Any purveyor of such outlandish rumors was met with fierce derision. This, even after Obama was filmed declaring his intention to "spread the wealth around," and even after he was taped at a wine and cheese party in San Francisco, attacking Christians for "clinging to their guns and religion."
So miserably deficient was the campaign coverage - and so deficient has been the ongoing "investigative" coverage of the man in office -- that the American people have simply been left to fill the void on their own...often with Obama's distortions and fabrications about Islam's greatness.
Obama's actions have led many Americans to conclude that he must be Muslim. Who can blame them? Not only did he declare that America was no longer a Christian nation, but he also claimed that America is the world's largest Muslim nation. He supports the Ground Zero Mosque, and he is on record saying he "will stand with them" whenever they face attack. Significantly, he refuses to acknowledge that radical Islam has declared war against us.
It isn't just Obama's overt Islamic advocacy. It's also that so many Americans now recognize his inherent dishonesty. They no longer trust him because he smears his critics with outrageous falsehoods, with the hope that he'll polarize the majority of people in his direction. Fortunately, he underestimated Americans' distrust of his fawning allies in the mainstream media.
And Americans' distrust of the media is so deep that if the media insists that Obama is a Christian, then a sizeable segment will automatically embrace the exact opposite position. So when the Washington Post demanded recently that Obama is a Christian (obviously!), the majority of the relative few who read it must have immediately concluded there was a good reason to believe otherwise.
Despite all the noise, diversion, and debate, we remain steadfast in our opinion: Obama may not be a Muslim...but he sure as communion couldn't be a true Christian; otherwise, the mainstream media and other Democrats would despise him.
Scott Wheeler is executive director of the National Republican Trust PAC. Wheeler is a former television producer, international investigative journalist, and veteran of the U.S. Army infantry.
To read another article by Scott Wheeler, click here.
Posted by Brett at 4:09 PM
Obama Wins if GOP Flinches on Marriage
Ken Blackwell 8-28-10
Editors' note: This piece is co-authored by Ken Klukowski.
Same-sex marriage is back as a front-burner issue in American politics.
On August 4, a federal judge in San Francisco held that there is a constitutional right to same-sex marriage, striking down part of the California Constitution defining marriage as one man and one woman. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit has ordered an expedited schedule to consider this case, with arguments to be held in December.
Now former RNC chairman and 2004 Bush campaign manager Ken Mehlman came out this week, announcing he’s homosexual, and pushing the Republican Party to support the homosexual-rights agenda. Republicans leaders are beginning to weigh in on where they stand, including on the agenda’s centerpiece: Redefining marriage.
The Republican Party has an official position on same-sex marriage. It’s found in the 2008 GOP platform, which is the clear and uncontestable Republican position until the 2012 convention. When one of your authors (Blackwell) was serving as vice chairman of the GOP Platform Committee, there was a singular focus on producing a party platform that fully reflects the vast majority of Republican Party members.
The GOP platform could not be more explicit: Marriage is the union of one man and one woman. The fundamental institution of human civilization should be preserved as it has been known through the entirety of American history and Western civilization. Supporters of same-sex marriage had the full opportunity to make their case to the party. They made it, and they lost.
But whether same-sex marriage should be legal is a completely separate issue from whether there’s a right to same-sex marriage in the U.S. Constitution. A person can support same sex marriage, but admit that it’s a state issue to be decided locally, not a right that can be imposed on a state—or the nation—by federal judges.
That’s where supporters of same-sex marriage cannot have it both ways. Central to the Republican agenda is that the U.S. Constitution must be interpreted according to its original meaning. If the Constitution must be changed, then we do so democratically through the amendment process. Republicans demand that judges interpret the Constitution as written, not rewrite it from the bench.
The same judicial activism that Judge Walker in San Francisco displayed in declaring a constitutional right to same-sex marriage is the same activism that Republicans decry on every other front. It’s the same activism found in Roe v. Wade, declaring a right to abortion. It’s also the same activism that would uphold Obamacare as constitutional. It’s the same activism that declares foreign terrorists are protected by the Bill of Rights and habeas corpus.
You cannot have it both ways. Do you want to see Obamacare struck down as unconstitutional? Then you can’t have a constitutional right to same-sex marriage.
Republican leadership is working hard to prevent a party split. Millions of Tea Party people are justifiably fed up with the GOP, and threatening to abandon the GOP in favor of a third party if Republicans do not fully attack out-of-control federal spending and power with a commitment to constitutional government.
That danger cuts both ways.
Social conservatives cannot be played as fools by the Republican Party. They are not “useful idiots.” If Republican leaders abandon social conservatives and the party platform, then they will face the same disaster as if Tea Partiers abandon the GOP. Millions of social conservatives will either stay home, or will vote for a third-party candidate who takes up the mantle of marriage, life, faith and family.
As we discuss in the introduction of our book, The Blueprint, this is exactly what President Obama wants to see. If a majority of Americans reject the agenda of President Obama and his Democratic Party—as they do today—the only way that Obama and the Dems can hold on to power is to split the opposition vote. If the GOP splits either over economic issues or over social issues, then President Obama could be reelected with as little as 40% of the vote. It’s happened before in American politics, with 1912 as a perfect example. The year 2012 will be the 100-year anniversary of when a Republican split gave America a Democratic president.
If Republicans flinch on marriage, America could have eight years of President Obama.
Ken Klukowski is a fellow and senior legal analyst with the American Civil Rights Union.
Ken Blackwell, a contributing editor at Townhall.com, is a senior fellow at the Family Research Council and the American Civil Rights Union. He is the co-author of the new bestseller The Blueprint: Obama’s Plan to Subvert the Constitution and Build an Imperial Presidency, on sale in bookstores everywhere..
To read another article by Ken Blackwell, click here.
Posted by Brett at 4:06 PM
Friday, August 27, 2010
TUCSON, Ariz. -- "We're under siege," said rancher Ed Ashurst as he pointed to where he had tracked the killer of his friend and neighbor to the U.S.-Mexico border. "Five years ago, we didn't even bother to lock our doors. Now my wife and I carry firearms everywhere we go."
John Ladd is a fifth-generation cattle rancher in southern Cochise County, Ariz. The southern boundary of his family property is a 10-mile stretch of steel fence erected by the U.S. government. On the other side of the fence: Mexico. He told us, "Mexican drug cartels are running this part of America."
The poet Robert Frost posited that "good fences make good neighbors." From what our Fox News' "War Stories" team documented this week, that's not the case here in southern Arizona, where "the fence" on the U.S.-Mexico border remains unfinished. According to many levelheaded, beleaguered Americans here, the fence is little more than a "speed bump" for drug couriers, killers, human smugglers and lesser criminals flooding into our country.
Wednesday night, just hours after Barack and Michelle Obama and their doting supporters dined on Martha's Vineyard, our team, accompanied by members of the Cochise County sheriff's Border Interdiction Unit, walked up a quiet hilltop a few hundred yards north of the "fence." There we watched through night-vision devices as a group of individuals approached the Mexican side of the steel barrier, timing their movement with the passing of U.S. Border Patrol vehicles.
By the time we departed for another location two hours after dawn, the "jumpers" -- all wearing backpacks -- had yet to make it into the U.S. Heartened by what we had seen, I said to one of the deputies, "It looks as if the fence worked."
"Yeah," said one of our guides and well-armed protectors, "but they have spotters who saw us leave. They will try again. Maybe we'll get 'em, maybe not. But there are a lot more of them than there are of us. And they are better-armed than we are because the cartels have bigger budgets."
The numbers verify the claim. Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman -- a multibillionaire who heads the Sinaloa cartel just across Arizona's border -- commands an army of more than 11,000 "shooters" equipped with heavy machine guns, other automatic weapons, rocket-propelled grenades and armored vehicles. That's more than twice as many "troops" available to the U.S. Border Patrol, Arizona Department of Public Safety, Indian Affairs police and county sheriffs on Arizona's border.
Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu -- more than 90 miles north of the border -- explained the consequences: "Our deputies are outnumbered and outgunned. We're up against drug runners carrying AK-47s," the Soviet-era weapon used by al-Qaida terrorists and Taliban insurgents fighting U.S. troops in Afghanistan.
After one of his deputies was wounded by an AK-47-toting border crosser, Babeu requested funding to purchase AR-15 rifles for his department. The county turned him down for lack of funds. He told us, "My deputies shouldn't have to buy their own weapons to protect themselves and the public." A group of concerned citizens is soliciting donations to buy the rifles for them.
Larry Dever is the sheriff of Cochise County. At 6,000 square miles, it is larger than Connecticut. His jurisdiction is home to Tombstone, scene of the legendary 1881 shootout at the OK Corral. It also shares an 82-mile border with Mexico. Last year, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection, more than 550,000 people were arrested trying to enter the U.S. illegally. Nearly half of them crossed the border in the "Tucson sector," which includes Cochise County. Yet Dever has fewer than 90 sworn deputies.
After Cochise County rancher Bob Krantz was murdered by an illegal border jumper March 27, the Obama administration promised to deploy 1,200 National Guard troops to "assist the U.S Border Patrol on the Mexican border." Arizona will get fewer than 550 of them -- when they finally arrive. Not one cent of the $600 million appropriated by Congress this month for "border security" will go to any of the border states or sheriffs. The money all goes to federal agencies.
Instead of new weapons, reinforcements and help protecting our southern border, Arizona's sheriffs and Gov. Jan Brewer received something entirely different from the Obama administration: a federal lawsuit. Last month, a federal judge in Phoenix decided Arizona could not enforce certain provisions of a state law -- SB 1070 -- which allowed Arizona law enforcement officers to ascertain the citizenship of individuals stopped for legal infractions. Arizona filed its appeal in the case this week, while we were on the border.
That's not all that happened this week in what one of our hosts called "the northern edge of the new war zone." A mass grave containing the remains of more than 70 murdered men, women and children from Central America and South America was found in northeastern Mexico, less than 90 miles from the U.S. border. That brings the civilian murder toll in Mexico to more than 28,000 since 2006 -- higher than Afghanistan. And last night, two were killed and three were wounded in a drug-related gunfight here in Tucson.
Meanwhile the president -- who insinuated himself in a local police matter in Cambridge, Mass., and a zoning matter for a mosque in Manhattan -- has been too busy to send condolences to Sue Krantz, the widow of an American murdered by a foreign criminal on U.S. soil.
To read another article by Oliver North, click here.
Posted by Brett at 11:15 AM
See How Low We Must Go
The pop-music world is turning into a caricature of shamelessness, childish and even spoiled-brattiness. To get attention quickly, some pop stars will try absolutely anything. The soul singer Cee-Lo Green has a new album coming out. How's this for art: His first desperate single is titled "F--- You."
The shock value is already working. A video was posted Aug. 19, and within four days, it had grabbed 1.4 million views on YouTube -- another sign that YouTube is not a safe website for children. On Aug. 23, YouTube began requiring visitors to sign in to view the video, saying it "may contain content that is inappropriate for some users." That's quite an understatement. But it's also meaningless and, besides, it's unrestricted on Cee-Lo's personal website: Clicking on his MySpace page brings the song up automatically.
The entire song is obscene. It's stuffed with 16 uses of the F-bomb in under four minutes, erupting on average once every 14 seconds. It also has 10 uses of the S-word, and even two uses of "nigga." (Don't tell Dr. Laura Schlessinger.)
Green's producer, Bruno Mars, told MTV the whole production was "a dream session come true ... Everyone was just putting their minds together and (we came) up with one of our favorite tracks we've ever done. Cee-Lo came in and we started singing it for him. And he's just, 'I love that, man. That's beautiful.'"
This scenario of allegedly unfolding genius dodges the little reality that the supposed high concept is just a musical middle finger. The singer is cursing out his ex-girlfriend, who apparently left him for a richer man. The fact that the song is catchy and bright only heightens the offense. It's a Motown melody inserted into a manure pile. But, as usual, the Wanna Be Hip critics love it, even with that manure attached. The Wall Street Journal cooed it "may be the best rock and pop single of the year."
Just a few years ago, we could be certain that a song this stuffed with profanity would never be aired on the radio. In fact, it never would be produced. But the federal judiciary has now made it acceptable to air the worst obscenities at all hours of the day, claiming any attempt to restrict obscene content is a violation of "free speech." The ban on seven dirty words was shredded and the libertines get where they wanted. What new low will an "artist" stoop to for commercial gain when the ground has suddenly opened, presenting an endless chasm below?
Team Cee-Lo claims they're going to prepare a radio edit called "Forget You" to avoid alienating too many station managers. How thoughtful. But that only raises the obvious question: Why not call it "Forget You" from the very beginning? The answer is the calculation that millions of teenagers will buy the original dirty version as the official version and put it on their iPods. Any radio edit is just a lame Band-Aid for a pus-filled boil.
The pressure will only build for more and dirtier musical obscenity, just as almost every aspiring stand-up comedian finds it necessary to pepper his and her act with lots of curse words. Comedians can't just be funny, as singers can't just sing.
This is not the first time pop stars have played games with the F-bomb. A few years ago, Britney Spears offered a single very thinly disguised as "If U Seek Amy." Spears boasted, "All of the boys and all of the girls are begging to if you seek Amy," which only made sense if it was obscene.
The British chanteuse Lily Allen offered her own "F--- You" song last year, but it wasn't a big hit here, with its 25 gratuitous F-bombs. It was only a gold record in France, Australia and Belgium. Right there on YouTube, you can see a video of Allen singing her brightly toned song with its ugly, profane chorus -- "F--- you, f--- you very, very much" -- live on French television. The audience claps and claps. Once again, the future beams out at us.
Posted by Brett at 11:02 AM
From the e-mails.
Heidi is the proprietor of a bar in Detroit. She realizes that virtually all of her customers are unemployed alcoholics and, as such, can no longer afford to patronize her bar. To solve this problem, she comes up with a new marketing plan that allows her customers to drink now, but pay later.
Heidi keeps track of the drinks consumed on a ledger (thereby granting the customers' loans). Word gets around about Heidi's "drink now, pay later" marketing strategy and, as a result, increasing numbers of customers flood into Heidi's bar. Soon she has the largest sales volume for any bar in Detroit.
By providing her customers freedom from immediate payment demands, Heidi gets no resistance when, at regular intervals, she substantially increases her prices for wine and beer, the most consumed beverages. Consequently, Heidi's gross sales volume increases massively.
A young and dynamic vice-president at the local bank recognizes that these customer debts constitute valuable future assets and increases Heidi's borrowing limit.
He sees no reason for any undue concern, since he has the debts of the unemployed alcoholics as collateral.
At the bank's corporate headquarters, expert traders figure a way to make huge commissions, and transform these customer loans into DRINKBONDS. These securities then are bundled and traded on international securities markets.
Naive investors don't really understand that the securities being sold to them as AAA secured bonds really are debts of unemployed alcoholics. Nevertheless, the bond prices continuously climb, and the securities soon become the hottest-selling items for some of the nation's leading brokerage houses.
One day, even though the bond prices still are climbing, a risk manager at the original local bank decides that the time has come to demand payment on the debts incurred by the drinkers at Heidi's bar. He so informs Heidi.
Heidi then demands payment from her alcoholic patrons, but being unemployed alcoholics they cannot pay back their drinking debts. Since Heidi cannot fulfill her loan obligations she is forced into bankruptcy. The bar closes and Heidi's 11 employees lose their jobs.
Overnight, DRINKBOND prices drop by 90%. The collapsed bond asset value destroys the bank's liquidity and prevents it from issuing new loans, thus freezing credit and economic activity in the community.The suppliers of Heidi's bar had granted her generous payment extensions and had invested their firms' pension funds in the BOND securities. They find they are now faced with having to write off her bad debt and with losing over 90% of the presumed value of the bonds.
Her wine supplier also claims bankruptcy, closing the doors on a family business that had endured for three generations, her beer supplier is taken over by a competitor, who immediately closes the local plant and lays off 150 workers.
Fortunately though, the bank, the brokerage houses and their respective executives are saved and bailed out by a multibillion dollar no-strings attached cash infusion from their cronies in government.
The funds required for this bailout are obtained by new taxes levied on employed, middle-class, non-drinkers who have never been in Heidi's bar.
Now do you understand?
Posted by Brett at 10:41 AM
Debbie From the Democrats
By Ben Stein on 8.27.10 @ 6:10AM
Wow, am I tired. I just got back from my very busy working trip and here I am back in L.A. heading over to CNN to be on Larry King Live. The show is about the primaries. The other guests are Ari Fleischer, former press secretary for GWB, Alicia Menendez, a very pretty young woman in D.C. from some leftist think tank, and my old pal Debbie Wasserman Schultz, a Congresswoman from the Democrats, a tough, aggressive fellow Semite from Florida. She is really, really tough. Really. No, not really at all. I like her a lot.
I wish I had her balls.
Anyway, we talked about the elections and it was all fine until Ms. Wasserman made an amazingly dishonest comment about how every GOP Member of the House wanted to privatize Social Security. "Wait a minute," I said, "you just made that up. It's not true at all."
"No," she insisted, "it's true," and she named one or two Congressmen who supposedly believed that.
"No," I said, "you just made it up. You have no sources at all. Tell me your source."
(I am paraphrasing here.)
She was angry at me but I was not scared. I had a Jewish mother one billion times more scary than Debbie and I went on to a good life.
So, I gave her my e-mail and she didn't send me the source so, of course, she just made it up. How typical of Nancy Pelosi's Democrats. Just make up a lie, a BIG LIE, and see if the masses question you.
At the end of the show, I said that, alas, no one had a darned clue about how to get us out of the recession. We don't know if more deficit spending will do it. We don't know how to create much more monetary ease than we have already done. The GOP has no convincing ideas about what to do, and the Democrats don't either. The monetarists are stumped because how do you get a recovery if the banks have lots of cash but won't lend to consumers? The Keynesians are baffled because we already have major Keynesian stimulus and it's not doing much, as far as we can tell.
The budget deficit is getting to staggering levels and yet we have low inflation. Mortgages are at very low interest rates although the rates are totally nominal because the banks won't lend so housing is staggered.
When Mr. Paulson let Lehman fail, when Prof. Laffer made the GOP the party of fiscal irresponsibility, we really got into a deep hole. How we get out NO ONE KNOWS. This is terrifying.
But, here is an interesting note: there are high levels of unemployment but the employers I talk to say there are severe labor shortages of skilled labor at every level from carpenters and plumbers to CEO's of biotech companies. And, as noted before, in my small circle of friends, anyone who has good work skills and a decent personality can get a job. I am not talking about the national scene. Just my little world. The chronic complainers and the malcontents and the unrealistic are the ones who cannot find work they want. The people who really want to work can get work. It might not be great work, but it's work.
Happy Birthday to my pal Phil De Muth. He is 60 and my wife and I took him, his beautiful wife, Julia, and their adorable 10-year-old daughter, Olivia, to Mister Chow for dinner. The food was great and Phil was in a daze. By an astounding coincidence, today, on Phil's birthday, Phil's lovely daughter, Rani, had a baby girl, making Phil a grandfather for the first time. I don't blame him. I would be terrified to be a grand dad.
Phil is a super guy and will be a super grand dad. I wish he had been my grand dad. But both of mine died before I could get to know them.
On the way home, I stopped to get gasoline. The Hispanic attendant, whom I have known for many years, wanted to talk to me about the mosque in New York.
"We have to wake up," he said. "Those people want to hurt us. Then they want to build a mosque. Why? To hurt us more? And how come Obama always takes the side of the people who hate us? Isn't this his country, too? What's wrong with him? Doesn't he know he's an American? Or what is he? This country has to wake up and get rid of Obama."
I nodded. "I agree," I said.
The man shook his head. "This country has to wake up," he said again. "We elected Obama. We made a big mistake. Now we have to fix it. Stop him, then get someone else in there. Someone who is an American. Someone who works for us, not our enemies. "
He shook his head and walked away and I drove home to write about him.
Ben Stein is a writer, actor, economist, and lawyer living in Beverly Hills and Malibu. He writes "Ben Stein's Diary" for every issue of The American Spectator.
Posted by Brett at 10:35 AM
Thursday, August 26, 2010
Obama's Manichean World
President Obama has a weakness for thinking in categories. For someone who provokes swoons among liberals for his great intellect, he has repeatedly evidenced an unsophisticated, one might even say simple-minded, view of the world: Workers good; bosses exploitative. Borrowers good; lenders bad. Patients good; insurance companies bad. Again and again, the president and his spokesmen have justified their expansions of government power as efforts to help those who "through no fault of their own" find themselves in difficulties.
Many politicians traffic in this kind rhetoric during campaigns, but Obama has institutionalized it in policy.
One of those reifications -- the Home Affordable Modification Program -- now stands revealed as a failure.
Recall that in February 2009, President Obama proposed to solve a "crisis unlike we've ever known." It wasn't, the president insisted, that anyone had made poor decisions. "It begins with a young family ... They save up ... They choose a home that feels like the perfect place to start a life. They secure a fixed-rate mortgage at a reasonable rate, and they make a down payment, and they make their mortgage payments each month. They are as responsible as anyone could ask them to be." But then someone loses a job, a spouse has his or her hours cut, or a child becomes sick.
The president's $75 billion program guaranteed that homeowners with Fannie or Freddie mortgages would be eligible for refinancing to lower rates if their mortgages were between 80 and 105 percent of the home's worth. Other borrowers facing foreclosure would be able to refinance their mortgages down to 31 percent of their monthly income.
Didn't this mean that taxpayers who didn't buy too much house or who paid their mortgage bills on time would be subsidizing those who did not? No, the president insisted. "I want to be very clear about what this plan will not do: It will not rescue the unscrupulous or irresponsible by throwing good taxpayer money after bad loans. It will not help speculators ... It will not help dishonest lenders who acted irresponsibly, distorting the facts and dismissing the fine print at the expense of buyers who didn't know better. And it will not reward folks who bought homes they knew from the beginning they would never be able to afford."
The president never explained how the Treasury Department would differentiate "responsible" borrowers from "speculators" because in fact, it could not. Tea party protesters were not fooled. They carried placards saying "Honk if I'm paying your mortgage."
In March of this year, the Obama administration, tacitly acknowledging HAMP's failure, proposed new rules that would give jobless homeowners a three-month break on mortgage payments and offer more incentives to lenders to modify mortgages.
While the administration had boldly predicted in 2009 that HAMP would save 3 to 4 million homeowners, only 434,716 had seen their monthly payments permanently lowered as of July. A much larger number, 616,839 were booted from the program during the same period, usually for failing to make payments on time. As the Los Angeles Times noted in March, "The modifications, while delaying the foreclosure process, did not appear to be a long-term solution. About 52 percent of those with modified loans defaulted again after nine months."
Neil Barofsky, the special inspector general for the Troubled Assets Relief Program (SIGTARP for those who speak Washingtonese) blasted the program in a July report:
"Treasury's refusal to provide meaningful goals for this important program is a fundamental failure of transparency and accountability that makes it far more difficult for the American people and their representatives in Congress to assess whether the program's benefits are worth its very substantial cost.
"The American people are essentially being asked to shoulder an additional $50 billion of national debt without being told, more than 16 months after the program's announcement, how many people Treasury hopes to actually help stay in their homes as a result of these expenditures, how many people are intended to be helped through other subprograms, and how the program is performing against those expectations and goals. Without such clearly defined standards, positive comments regarding the progress or success of HAMP are simply not credible, and the growing public suspicion that the program is an outright failure will continue to spread.
In contrast to the Obama morality play, the foreclosure crisis was not a conspiracy of the rich and powerful against dutiful homeowners reliably making their monthly payments. It was the result of multiple follies by government, bankers, and individuals. Obama's instinct to insulate people from the consequences of their bad decisions (and yes, sometimes bad luck) amounts to subsidizing failure. The results are coming in daily -- persistent high unemployment, an anemic recovery, and billions upon billions of wasted taxpayer's money.
Posted by Brett at 11:15 PM
Hurricane Katrina and the Race Card: Five Years Later
This weekend, on the 5th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, civil rights activists and hip-hop stars will hold what they call a "healing ceremony" to commemorate the disaster. President Obama will speak at a separate event in New Orleans on Sunday. But don't expect any of these reconciliation-seeking leaders to confront the indelible stain of racial demagoguery left by the left in Katrina's aftermath. Hating George W. Bush means never having to say you're sorry.
The Olympic gold medal for racial grievance-mongering went to rapper Kanye West, who railed during a supposedly nonpolitical nationwide telethon that the government was shooting "us," that "those are my people down there," and that "George Bush doesn't care about black people!" West's vulgar exploitation of a charity drive -- which was meant to unite America -- left most viewers with the same aghast, frozen expression as the one on comedian Mike Myers' face as he tried to rescue their fundraising segment from the sewage.
Not to be outdone, the Congressional Black Caucus convened a press conference to blast news reporters for describing Katrina victims as "refugees." Yes, really. The Rev. Jesse Jackson echoed their complaint: "It is racist to call American citizens refugees." Refugees are, by dictionary definition, "exiles who flee for safety." How this could be construed as bigoted remains as much a mystery as the source of unhinged Huffington Post blogger and self-proclaimed "social justice advocate" Randall Robinson's bogus claim "that black hurricane victims in New Orleans have begun eating corpses to survive."
Robinson retracted the report, but did not apologize for spreading the black cannibalism tale around the world and using Katrina to vent his own anti-American venom about his country being a "monstrous fraud." Nation of Islam race hustler-in-chief Louis Farrakhan trafficked in his own baseless conspiracy-mongering about "a 25-foot-deep crater under the levee breach" indicating that the levee "may have been blown up to destroy the black part of town and keep the white part dry." Director Spike Lee stoked the levee truthers further, declaring, "If they can rig an election, they can do anything!"
New Black Panther Party head Malik Zulu Shabazz chimed in, calling the Katrina rescue and recovery operation a "racist occupation of subjugation rather than a relief effort," and saying it was designed "to keep non-white people in a state of subjugation on all levels, and they are viewed as expendable in order to protect the interest of the system." Donning her own tinfoil hat, Democratic Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee suggested that Republican suppression of the black vote in 2000 and 2004 was to blame for the government's botched Katrina response.
Democratic Rep. Charles Rangel drove the racial wedge in deeper by comparing President Bush to brutal Alabama segregationist Bull Connor. "If there's one thing that George Bush has done that we should never forget," Rangel spewed, "it's that for us and for our children, he has shattered the myth of white supremacy once and for all." At a House hearing, a Katrina witness testified unchallenged that black New Orleans residents were victims of "genocide and ethnic cleansing."
The execrable Jimmy Carter waited a few months to unleash his own Bush-bashing bile -- at the funeral of Coretta Scott King, no less -- in February 2006. "We only have to recall the color of the faces of those in Louisiana, Alabama and Mississippi, those who were most devastated by Katrina, to know that there are not yet equal opportunities for all Americans."
Carter's speech not only lacked basic decency. It lacked any grounding in reality. According to vital statistics released just months after the storm by the primary morgue that processed the bodies of the deceased, 48 percent of those who died in the natural disaster were black, 41 percent were white, with another 8 percent unknown and 2 percent Hispanic. Little-noted follow-up analysis confirmed those preliminary results and also debunked the myth that the poor were disproportionately affected by the storm.
Five years later, the same color-coded paranoia and political opportunism that poisoned the Hurricane Katrina recovery permeates every current conflict in the public square: Ground Zero Mosque opponents are all suspiciously funded bigots, according to Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. The Tea Party movement is the new Bull Connor, according to every liberal New York Times columnist. President Obama's critics hate black people, according to every major black Hollywood director and hip-hop mogul. As for the soul-fixing, Nobel Peace Prize-winning commander-in-chief whose election was supposed to heal the divide, I will guarantee you he won't ever lift a finger to repudiate the cynical smear tactics against his unjustly accused predecessor.
Post-racial America, we never knew you.
To read another article by Michelle Malkin, click here.
Posted by Brett at 11:10 PM
"Moral Hazard" in Politics
One of the things that makes it tough to figure out how much has to be charged for insurance is that people behave differently when they are insured from the way they behave when they are not insured.
In other words, if one person out of 10,000 has his car set on fire, and it costs an average of $10,000 to restore the car to its previous condition, then it might seem as if charging one dollar to all 10,000 people would be enough to cover the cost of paying $10,000 to the one person whose car that will need to be repaired. But the joker in this deal is that people whose cars are insured may not be as cautious as other people are about what kinds of neighborhoods they park their car in.
The same principle applies to government policies. When taxpayer-subsidized government insurance policies protect people against flood damage, more people are willing to live in places where there are greater dangers of flooding. Often these are luxury beach front homes with great views of the ocean. So what if they suffer flood damage once every decade or so, if Uncle Sam is picking up the tab for restoring everything?
Television reporter John Stossel has told how he got government insurance "dirt cheap" to insure a home only a hundred feet from the ocean. Eventually, the ocean moved in and did a lot of damage, but the taxpayer-subsidized insurance covered the costs of fixing it. Four years later, the ocean came in again, and this time it took out the whole house. But the taxpayer-subsidized government insurance paid to replace the whole house.
This was not a unique experience. More than 25,000 properties have received government flood insurance payments more than four times. Over a period of 28 years, more than 4,000 properties received government insurance payments exceeding the total value of the property. If you are located in a dangerous place, repeated damage can easily add up to more than the property is worth, especially if the property is damaged and then later wiped out completely, as John Stossel's ocean-front home was.
Although "moral hazard" is an insurance term, it applies to other government policies besides insurance. International studies show that people in countries with more generous and long-lasting unemployment compensation spend less time looking for jobs. In the United States, where unemployment compensation is less generous than in Western Europe, unemployed Americans spend more hours looking for work than do unemployed Europeans in countries with more generous unemployment compensation.
People change their behavior in other ways when the government pays with the taxpayers' money. After welfare became more readily available in the 1960s, unwed motherhood skyrocketed. The country is still paying the price for that-- of which the money is the least of it. Children raised by single mothers on welfare have far higher rates of crime, welfare and other social pathology.
San Francisco has been one of the most generous cities in the country when it comes to subsidizing the homeless. Should we be surprised that homelessness is a big problem in San Francisco?
Most people are not born homeless. They usually become homeless because of their own behavior, and the friends and family they alienate to the point that those who know them will not help them. People with mental problems may not be able to help their behavior, but the rest of them can.
We hear a lot of talk about "safety nets" from big-government liberals, who act as if there is a certain pre-destined amount of harm that people will suffer, so that it is just a question of the government helping those who are harmed. But we hear very little about "moral hazard" from big-government liberals. We all need safety nets. That is why we "save for a rainy day," instead of living it up to the limit of our income and beyond.
We also hear a lot of talk about "the uninsured," for whose benefit we are to drastically change the whole medical-care system. But income data show that many of those uninsured people have incomes from which they could easily afford insurance. But they can live it up instead, because the government has mandated that hospital emergency rooms treat everyone.
All of this is a large hazard to taxpayers. And it is not very moral.
To read another article by Thomas Sowell, click here.
Posted by Brett at 11:09 PM
Mike Gerson Gets the Tea Party Wrong
Editors' note: this piece is co-authored by Robert Morrison
Michael Gerson is a former speechwriter for President George W. Bush. He’s now a columnist for the Washington Post. He’s taken on the TEA Party movement in several recent columns.
Mike Gerson was entirely right to commend the TEA Party for giving a quick axe to a local activist who wrote a parody of slaves asking “ Massa ” Lincoln not to issue the Emancipation Proclamation. It was a wholly offensive and witless piece that only fueled the left’s false claims that the TEA Party is racist. If only the left would give such a quick heave-ho to such thoroughly offensive characters as Bill (Mocker) Maher.
But Mike Gerson stumbled badly when he writes that black Americans have good reason to fear the TEA Party’s jubilant populism because, after all, “the Constitutional Convention was a conspiracy against their rights.”
What histories, what biographies, what commentaries on the Great Convention at Philadelphia must Mike Gerson be reading? To make such a statement is to concede the major, flawed premise of the left. If you think the Founders were so fundamentally wrong about a great moral question, you are unlikely to have much respect for the great charter of liberty they gave us.
If you think the Founders were engaged in a conspiracy against anyone’s rights, you are much more likely to view the Constitution as a document—like Justice Scalia’s famous magic slate—that you can write all over, then pull up your plastic page and start writing again. In short, if you think the Constitution the Founders wrote was morally flawed, you will be forced to accede to Justice Breyer’s notion of a “living constitution,” one that evolves with time so you can find in it new “rights”—like abortion, like counterfeit marriage, like nationalized health care.
No less a commanding figure of nineteenth century political theory than Frederick Douglass disagreed with Mike Gerson’s negative assessment of the Founders’ handiwork.
…the Constitution of the United States not only contained no guarantees in favor of slavery, but, on the contrary, was in its letter and spirit and anti-slavery instrument…
Douglass candidly admitted he did not always think this way. Originally, he agreed with the white abolitionists, as Gerson apparently does today, that the Founders’ Constitution was a pro-slavery document.
But Douglass carefully studied the Founders’ work.
By such a course of thought and reading, I was conducted to the conclusion that the Constitution of the United States—inaugurated ‘to form a more perfect union, establish justice, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty’—could not have been designed at the same time to maintain and perpetuate a system of rapine and murder like slavery, especially as not one word ban be found in the Constitution to authorize such a belief. Then again, if the declared purposes of an instrument are to govern the meaning of all its parts and details, as they clearly should, the Constitution of our country is a warrant for the abolition of slavery in every State of the Union.
Douglass took a more advanced view of the Constitution even than President Abraham Lincoln. But Lincoln agreed with Douglass that the Constitution should be interpreted in light of its principles, not in terms of the limited but necessary compromises the Founders were forced to make with the “peculiar institution” of slavery as it existed among them.
Even the Three-Fifths Compromise has been notoriously misconstrued in our own time. Al Gore has wildly claimed that the Founders thought black people “three-fifths of a person.” No such thing. It was a straight-out compromise between slaveholders and the anti-slavery majority of the delegates.
The Three-Fifths Compromise meant that whenever a state abolished slavery on its own—as seven of the original thirteen were hastening to do when the Constitution was drafted and ratified—it would get a “bonus” in the House of Representatives and the Electoral College. Upon emancipation, it would be allowed to count fully all its citizens for purposes of representation.
Abraham Lincoln said it best. The Founders never mentioned the words slave or Negro, or even identified the horrible Slave Trade as coming from Africa because they wanted to “hide it away, as an afflicted man hides away a wen or a tumor.” Lincoln ’s careful study of the Founders’ work convinced him that they were ashamed of the institution and longed for its “eventual extinction.” They didn’t just long for its end, they took positive steps to arrest its spread.
The Constitutional Convention was no conspiracy against any Americans’ rights. It was truly a Miracle at Philadelphia . And the TEA Party movement, by bringing us back to our constitutional roots, is doing a great and good service to all Americans.
Ken Blackwell and Bob Morrison are Senior Fellows at Family Research Council in Washington, D.C. They have advocated replacing the statue of Roger B. Taney in front of the Maryland State House with one of Frederick Douglass.
To read another article by Ken Blackwell, click here.
Posted by Brett at 10:59 PM
So Is He a Christian?
My new book, "Crimes Against Liberty," has just been released, and in many of my radio interviews, hosts have been asking me whether I believe Barack Obama is a Christian or a Muslim. Though I don't address that subject in my book, I'll take a stab at it here.
First, let me confess that we can't possibly know for sure whether someone is a Christian, in the sense that we can't read another person's soul. We can sometimes get a pretty good idea based on someone's statements, professions and actions, but ultimately, Christianity is about an individual's beliefs and his faith and personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
With that disclaimer and the further admission that I'm no expert on Islam, let me share with you some factors that I believe merit our consideration on the question of whether he is Muslim, Christian or neither.
In some ways, Obama exhibits a worldview that more closely resembles a secularist than it does either a Muslim or a Christian, especially in his views on social issues. Also, he seems to place a great deal of confidence in himself and in government to bring about transformational change. How many God-fearing people have you known who would say "we (meaning I) are the ones we've been waiting for" or "generations from now, we will be able to look back and tell our children that this was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal"? The staggering conceit of these statements cannot be overstated.
Those who mocked George W. Bush for openly declaring his faith in God and sharing that he prays to God for strength squawked about the horrors in Bush's allowing his beliefs to influence his governance. Apart from the mockers' misunderstanding of the proper intersection of faith and governance, let me pose another question. Are you more comfortable with a chief executive who, along with the overwhelming majority of Americans, humbly admits to reliance on God or one who projects the impression that he himself is messianic? Which has a firmer grip on reality or comes closer to your own worldview?
Though the mockers would have us believe the former is abnormal, this can only be true if enormous numbers of Americans are lying to pollsters about their Christian faith. It's time we quit acting as if belief in God and Christianity were some kind of oddity or government officials should or even could fence off their beliefs from their governance. Secularists certainly don't.
Some counter with the oft-reported tidbit that Obama heavily relies on his spiritual advisers and receives a daily devotional on his BlackBerry. But can they explain away his messianic complex or satisfactorily square his apparent personal idolatry with his profession of Christian faith?
I have neither heard a believing Christian openly mock Scripture as Obama did during the campaign nor heard one mock those who cling to their guns and Bibles.
Though Obama would have us believe that he sat through 20 years of the Rev. Jeremiah Wright's sermons without hearing a word, it's hard for us to overlook the fact that Wright took the Lord's name in vain in his church and that the church subscribes to black liberation theology, which seems more race-centered than Christ-centered. We also shake our heads in discovering that this church, through its publications, has championed the causes of certain terrorist organizations.
In office, Obama has rarely attended church and has routinely snubbed Christianity and Christian symbols while consistently espousing values inconsistent with the biblical ethic. On the other hand, he has gone out of his way to glorify Islam. He told us in one of his books that the Muslim call to prayer was the sweetest sound he'd ever heard.
More significantly, he said in his Cairo speech to the Muslim world that Islam is a revealed religion. I'm amazed this didn't get more attention because it is extremely anomalous for a believing Christian to refer to Islam as a revealed religion. The word "revealed" had to have been carefully chosen and was absolutely unnecessary to convey his overtures to the Muslim world. One needn't affirm another person's religion to extend him a hand of friendship and peace.
Words have meaning, and if Obama believes Islam was revealed, then he most certainly believes it was revealed by God. If it was revealed by God more than 600 years after Christ was on earth and contains beliefs wholly inconsistent with doctrinal Christianity -- such as that Christ was not God, but a mere prophet -- then, in that essential particular, it cannot possibly be reconciled with Christianity. If Obama truly believes Islam was revealed by God, I can't fathom how he could be a believing Christian. I don't know that Obama is not a Christian, but I am dubious.
To read another article by David Limbaugh, click here.
Posted by Brett at 10:44 PM