Thursday, March 31, 2011
President Obama Apologizes to President Bush
By Larry Elder
President Barack H. Obama
The White House
The Gulf oil spill opened my eyes.
As with Hurricane Katrina, it happened suddenly. I barked out orders. I pounded my desk. But the oil kept flowing. Worse, the nation watched it all on television and said: "Why doesn't the President do something? Doesn't he care?" From then on, I fully understood both the expectations and the limitations of this job.
I ran on "hope and change." I said I would bring the sides together. The American people, I told Republicans who opposed my stimulus plan, have spoken. And "I won."
So without any of the bipartisan support you received for your tax cuts, my stimulus passed, and I confidently predicted it would prevent unemployment from reaching 8 percent. It climbed to 10.2 percent.
Without a single Republican vote, we passed "ObamaCare." But half of the states' attorneys general filed suit to stop it. And a year after its passage, most Americans want it repealed.
My party lost its House majority and its Senate supermajority. Voters wanted smaller government. Turns out voters wanted to retain the "Bush tax rates" -- even for the rich -- which I campaigned against. Again, the American people had spoken.
The morning starts, as you know, with an intelligence briefing. My goodness, does America have enemies -- hateful, violent, vicious enemies all over the world who are determined to destroy this nation! Our job is to prevent them from succeeding -- all of them, all of the time.
I labeled you a cowboy, promised humility and offered enemy countries an "outstretched hand" for their "unclenched fist." But calling the Global War on Terror an "overseas contingency operation" not only failed to deter the Islamofascists from wanting to kill us, it suggested a weakness that only strengthened their resolve.
Al-Qaida, Hezbollah, Hamas and the mullahs who run Iran, I learned, couldn't care less that I'm a person of color, born to a Muslim father from Kenya, and who lived in Indonesia. They hate us still.
Guantanamo Bay exists for a reason. It imprisons the worst of the worst. No other country will take these terrorists, and many former detainees have returned to the fight.
Gitmo is among many of your "Bush era" terror-fighting policies that I not only retained but, in some cases, even expanded. What once seemed reckless and wrongheaded, I now see as prudent attempts to strike that difficult balance between safety and freedom.
I came into this job eight years after September 11, 2001. I cannot imagine 3,000 Americans killed on my watch. I cannot imagine polls showing that 90 percent of us anticipated another attack within 12 months of the first, perhaps with chemical or biological weapons. I can imagine how you must have blamed yourself during those long, dark days, and spent every waking hour asking, "What can I do so this never happens again?"
This brings me to the Iraq War, a mission I once called "dumb."
Seventy-six percent of Americans, at the time, supported your decision. You obtained approval from Congress. By contrast, 47 percent support my actions in Libya, less support than for any military action taken in the last 40 years. Unlike you, I did not seek approval from Congress even though I once said the Constitution requires it.
Thanks to the Iraq War, Libya's Moammar Gadhafi surrendered his WMD. He poses no direct threat to America and cannot use these terrible weapons on his own people. Saddam Hussein, on the other hand, invaded his neighbors, used chemical weapons on his own people and shot at our planes patrolling the no-fly zones. All 16 of our intelligence agencies thought he possessed stockpiles of WMD, a prospect that threatened to make the 9/11 carnage look small.
I even opposed the "surge" in Iraq and predicted its failure. I now see this unpopular decision for what it was -- one of the most courageous decisions ever made by any of the 43 Americans who have sat behind this desk.
I vividly recall shaking my head during the speech you made to make the case for the "dumb" war. A disapproving New York Times wrote: "President Bush sketched an expansive vision. ... Mr. Bush talked about establishing a 'free and peaceful Iraq' that would serve as a 'dramatic and inspiring example' to the entire Arab and Muslim world ..."
Now I understand why, in 2008, you signed National Security Presidential Directive-58, Advancing the Freedom Agenda: "To protect America, we must defeat the ideology of hatred by spreading the hope of freedom. Over the past seven years, this is exactly what the administration has done."
It began with newly liberated Afghans and Iraqis who risked their lives by leaving their homes to vote for the first time. Your Freedom Agenda ignited the promising, historic "hope and change" we are now witnessing all throughout the Arab and Muslim world.
You were right. I was wrong. The nation -- and the world -- owes you a huge debt of gratitude.
Let's do lunch and then sneak in a round of golf. The "near beer" is on me.
With respect and appreciation,
To read another article by Larry Elder, click here.
Posted by Brett at 4:12 PM
Guess the Largest Contributor to November Congressional Races
By Ross Mackenzie
Comments on issues currently in the news....
--At stake in November were 472 congressional seats (37 Senate seats and all 435 House seats). A record 42 doctors were candidates -- making doctors candidates in about one-twelfth of the 472 congressional races. This is the decisive datum: Of those 42 physician/candidates, 33 favored the repeal of ObamaCare.
--Maybe they understand, among other things -- as Congressional Budget Office director Douglas Elmendorf does -- that ObamaCare will cost the nation jobs. In February testimony before the House Budget Committee, Elmendorf put the number of jobs lost by 2021 as a consequence of ObamaCare at 800,000 -- or 50 percent more than the combined workforce of Chrysler, Ford, and General Motors.
--Hmmm. The largest outside contributor in those November congressional races was not the dread Chamber of Commerce (to hear President Obama tell it), but a union -- the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME). It gave $87.5 million to candidates -- followed in fourth place (after the Chamber and Karl Rove's American Crossroads) by the Service Employees International Union (SEIU, at $44 million) and in fifth place by the National Education Association (NEA, at $40 million).
--Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito had it right in his dissent in the court's recent 8-1 majority ruling that the First Amendment protects even hurtful speech -- specifically lunatic signs at a Marine funeral declaring, "Thank God for Dead Soldiers." Alito said the deceased Marine's father, Albert Snyder, "wanted what is surely the right of any parent who experiences such an incalculable loss: to bury his son in peace. But (protesters) deprived him of that elementary right." So now the court sanctions even the vilest versions of fever-swamp license as the free-speech right of all.
--Chevrolet has unveiled its new Volt -- a car from General (that is, Government) Motors (GM) ballyhooed early-on to be all-electric and to produce in city driving 230 miles per gallon (mpg). Turns out the Volt is not all-electric but a hybrid with a companion engine (requiring premium gasoline). Nor does the Volt produce in city driving 230 mpg but something closer, according to Popular Mechanics, to 38; commuting in an 80 mph traffic flow, Car and Driver found the Volt to produce 26 mpg. And this from a $41,000 car carrying a $7,500 federal (taxpayer-provided) subsidy to encourage prospective buyers to kick the tires.
--Britain has announced an 8 percent cut in its military budget -- the largest such reduction since the end of the Cold War. U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates is expected to recommend deep cuts in the U.S. military budget, as well. But there's a difference between the Cameron government in Britain and the Obama government here: Prime Minister David Cameron is proposing major spending cuts across the board to save the British economy, and Obama wants not less spending in non-defense "entitlement" areas -- but more. And more taxes.
--Some European governments (Britain, France, Spain, Greece) are trying austerity, even in the face of protest marches and riots. The Obama administration has committees supposedly searching but they can't seem to locate the word austerity in the dictionary.
--Remember the Bush II administration's failure to plan an "end-game" in Iraq -- i.e., what to do there when the war was won? Seems the Obamians have the same flaw. A former administration official has told The Wall Street Journal that Obama and what's left of his economic team "haven't calibrated what they're going to do (about the economy)." What's more, according to the Washington Post, the administration went into negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians "without a plan for dealing with the end of the (partial 10-month) moratorium" on new construction in the West Bank. No end-game on the economy. No end-game on the Middle East. As unconscionable as no end-game in Iraq.
--The federal Postal Regulatory Commission has rejected the U.S. Postal Service's request for a 2-cent increase in 44-cent first-class stamps. But the USPS, the loser of a paltry $7 billion in the last reporting period, is asking again for higher-priced first-class postage -- presumably so it can provide more second-class service.
--It's not enough for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to have Al Gore up there on a pedestal by himself -- as the self-proclaimed yet ersatz inventor of the Internet. It seems ersatz Reid has saved the world from economic collapse. "But for me," he said on MSNBC, "we'd be in a worldwide depression." One man -- this man -- did it, no baloney. 'S' funny: In Vegas alone, the principal city in the state where Reid won re-election, unemployment is 15 percent.
--Oh, and in case you've been wondering how long is the reach of the gospel according to Ronald Reagan, it's all the way to Mongolia. Sandwiched between anti-democratic behemoths Russia and China, Mongolia (2.7 million people, and likely Asia's most open democratic state) has a president -- Tsakhia Elbegdorj -- who is an unabashed Reaganite. A Soviet Red Army draftee in the early 1980s when he heard Reagan's "evil empire" speech, Elbegdorj cites Reagan as his model for promoting liberty, democracy, and free markets.
"I got those kinds of big ideas from President Reagan," says the Mongolian president. "He actually impacted millions of people who lived behind the Iron Curtain."
To read another article by Ross Mackenzie, click here.
Posted by Brett at 3:57 PM
Obama Builds Pipeline to Nowhere
By John Ransom
After another of Obama’s ringing calls to inaction, confusion and delay, it should come as no surprise that people are even less sure now about the president’s energy policy than they were before he opened his mouth at Georgetown University on Wednesday and delivered another “landmark” speech.
We’ve come to expect that when B.O. talks about any policy, uncertainty follows.
Many of his allies even feel betrayed.
Welcome aboard, I say: He is who we said he was.
Today’s major energy speech by the president was long on backdrop and short on specifics, a hallmark we've come to expect in an Obama landmark speech.
All he needed were the Styrofoam Grecian pillars.
“If I am President,” Obama told us in 2008, “I will immediately direct the full resources of the federal government and the full energy of the private sector to a single, overarching goal — in ten years, we will eliminate the need for oil from the entire Middle East and Venezuela. “
This is a president who suffers from a kind of attention-deficit disorder, apparently. He hasn’t used the full resources of the federal government to do anything but print money.
He’s been president for two years, and when it has come to producing more domestic energy and importing less, Obama has been noticeably less than energetic himself. When he talks about using abundant American resources like natural gas, we realize, sadly, that the only gas that will likely fill a pipeline that he proposes is the hot air from his mouth.
In places like Alaska, they share the uncertainty that all of us feel.
And the frustration.
“The president didn't single out Alaska's proposed pipeline specifically when he spoke about developing the nation's domestic natural gas resources,” writes the Anchorage Daily News (ADN) about the speech, somewhat forlornly, “but [Sen. Mark Begich, D-Alaska] said he's been in ‘constant conversation’ with the White House about the project.”
The White House, Begich will find, is really good at that “constant conversation” part of the job.
But every once in a while the White House should probably be quiet and let the grown-ups finish talking.
Obama bragged when he was running for president that he’d put “one million 150 mile-per-gallon plug-in hybrids on our roads within six years.” So far, he hasn’t even put one on the road.
No one has. No such car exists. It's kind of a unicorn of the automotive world.
Because that's what we're stuck with as policy these days: wishful thinking. Maybe leprechauns will come solve our problems.
"Not being negative about Alaska is a positive," Begich reasoned in the ADN.
That’s not exactly a winning motto for any state, or for any energy policy. It might be the most ridiculous thing I have ever heard a sitting senator say, even one from Alaska.
Say what you will but “Drill, baby, drill,” sounds an awful lot better.
I don’t follow college basketball but I hear that the president’s NCAA brackets are doing really well- I’m not making this up.
I wish he was as resourceful in coming up with an energy policy. Then he, Charlie Sheen and LeBron could unveil it live at the Chicago Theatre.
They could have it televised by ESPN.
They could call it “Winning the Future with a Pipeline to Nowhere.”
That is, if the Miami Heat haven’t already trademarked the term.
Posted by Brett at 3:52 PM
Monopoly and WWII
Starting in 1941, an increasing number of British Airmen found themselves as the involuntary guests of the Third Reich, and the Crown was casting about for ways and means to facilitate their escape...
Now obviously, one of the most helpful aids to that end is a useful and accurate map, one showing not only where stuff was, but also showing the locations of 'safe houses' where a POW on-the-lam could go for food and shelter.
Paper maps had some real drawbacks -- they make a lot of noise when you open and fold them, they wear out rapidly, and if they get wet, they turn into mush. Someone in MI-5 (similar to America 's OSS ) got the idea of printing escape maps on silk It's durable, can be scrunched-up into tiny wads, and unfolded as many times as needed, and makes no noise whatsoever.
At that time, there was only one manufacturer in Great Britain that had perfected the technology of printing on silk, and that was John Waddington, Ltd. When approached by the government, the firm was only too happy to do its bit for the war effort.
By pure coincidence, Waddington was also the U.K. Licensee for the popular American board game, Monopoly. As it happened, 'games and pastimes' was a category of item qualified for insertion into 'CARE packages', dispatched by the International Red Cross to prisoners of war.
Under the strictest of secrecy, in a securely guarded and inaccessible old workshop on the grounds of Waddington's, a group of sworn-to-secrecy employees began mass-producing escape maps, keyed to each region of Germany or Italy where Allied POW camps were located). When processed, these maps could be folded into such tiny dots that they would actually fit inside a Monopoly playing piece.
As long as they were at it, the clever workmen at Waddington's also managed to add:
1. A playing token, containing a small magnetic compass
2. A two-part metal file that could easily be screwed together
3. Useful amounts of genuine high-denomination German, Italian, and French currency, hidden within the piles of Monopoly money!
British and American air crews were advised, before taking off on their first mission, how to identify a 'rigged' Monopoly set -- by means of a tiny red dot, one cleverly rigged to look like an ordinary printing glitch, located in the corner of the Free Parking square.
Of the estimated 35,000 Allied POWS who successfully escaped, an estimated one-third were aided in their flight by the rigged Monopoly sets. Everyone who did so was sworn to secrecy indefinitely, since the British Government might want to use this highly successful ruse in still another, future war.
The story wasn't declassified until 2007, when the surviving craftsmen from Waddington's, as well as the firm itself, were finally honored in a public ceremony.
It's always nice when you can play that 'Get Out of Jail Free'card!
I realize some of you are (probably) too young to have any personal connection to WWII (Dec. '41 to Aug. '45), but this is still interesting.
Story verification: http://www.snopes.com/military/monopoly.asp
Posted by Brett at 11:50 AM
To see a video about a story of how multiculturalism is going in France, click here.
Bill Whittle on Eating The Rich.
To see a video of one example of governmental fraud, click here.
The Green Regulation Machine - Diesel Trucks Kill Us? click here.
105 Billion funding included in Obamacare
New 9/11 Video - click here.
Song: When your holding a hammer - everything looks like a nail.
SOME OF YOU WILL APPRECIATE THIS AND SOME OF YOU WILL NOT.
I DO NOT APOLOGIZE FOR SENDING THIS BECAUSE ALL OF IT IS TRUE..
If any other of our presidents had doubled the national debt, which had taken more than two centuries to accumulate, in one year, would you have approved?
If any other of our presidents had then proposed to double the debt again within 10 years, would you have approved?
If any other of our presidents had criticized a state law that he admitted he never even read, would you think that he is just an ignorant hot head?
If any other of our presidents joined the country of Mexico and sued a state in the United States to force that state to continue to allow illegal immigration, would you question his patriotism and wonder who's side he was on?
If any other of our presidents had pronounced the Marine Corps like Marine Corpse, would you think him an idiot?
If any other of our presidents had put 87,000 workers out of work by arbitrarily placing a moratorium on offshore oil drilling on companies that have one of the best safety records of any industry because one foreign company had an accident, would you have agreed?
If any other of our presidents had used a forged document as the basis of the moratorium that would render 87,000 American workers unemployed would you support him?
If any other of our presidents had been the first President to need a teleprompter installed to be able to get through a press conference, would you have laughed and said this is more proof of how inept he is on his own and is really controlled by smarter men behind the scenes?
If any other of our presidents had spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to take his First Lady to a play in NYC, would you have approved?
If any other of our presidents had reduced your retirement plan holdings of GM stock by 90% and given the unions a majority stake in GM, would you have approved?
If any other of our presidents had made a joke at the expense of the Special Olympics, would you have approved?
If any other of our presidents had given Gordon Brown a set of inexpensive and incorrectly formatted DVDs, when Gordon Brown had given him a thoughtful and historically significant gift, would you have approved?
If any other of our presidents had given the Queen of England an iPod containing videos of his speeches, would you have thought it a proud moment for America?
If any other of our presidents had bowed to the King of Saudi Arabia, would you have approved?
If any other of our presidents had visited Austria and made reference to the nonexistent "Austrian language," would you have brushed it off as a minor slip?
If any other of our presidents had filled his cabinet and circle of advisers with people who cannot seem to keep current in their income taxes, would you have approved?
If any other of our presidents had stated that there were 57 states in the United States , wouldn't you have had second thoughts about his capabilities?
If any other of our presidents would have flown all the way to Denmark to make a five minute speech about how the Olympics would benefit him walking out his front door in his home town, would you not have thought he was a self important, conceited, egotistical jerk.
If any other of our presidents had been so Spanish illiterate as to refer to "Cinco de Cuatro" in front of the Mexican ambassador when it was the 5th of May (Cinco de Mayo), and continued to flub it when he tried again, wouldn't you have winced in embarrassment?
If any other of our presidents had burned 9,000 gallons of jet fuel to go plant a single tree on Earth Day, would you have concluded he's a hypocrite?
If any other of our presidents' administrations had okayed Air Force One flying low over millions of people followed by a jet fighter in downtown Manhattan causing widespread panic, would you have wondered whether they actually get what happened on 9-11?
If any other of our presidents had failed to send relief aid to flood victims throughout the Midwest with more people killed or made homeless than in New Orleans , would you want it made into a major ongoing political issue with claims of racism and incompetence?
If any other of our presidents had created the position of 32 Czars who report directly to him, bypassing the House and Senate on much of what is happening in America, would you have ever approved.
If any other of our presidents had ordered the firing of the CEO of a major corporation, even though he had no constitutional authority to do so, would you have approved?
So, tell me again, what is it about Obama that makes him so brilliant and impressive?
Can't think of anything? Don't worry. He's done all this in 21 months -- so you have that much time to come up with an answer.
Every statement and action in this email is factual and directly attributable to Barack Hussein Obama. Every bumble is a matter of record and completely verifiable.
I WONDER HOW MANY OF YOU WILL FORWARD THIS? "All it takes for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing."
I WONDER HOW MANY OF YOU WILL VOTE FOR HIM AGAIN!
Posted by Brett at 11:14 AM
Wednesday, March 30, 2011
Obama Cried, Kids Died
By Ann Coulter
"Humanitarian" seems to be the Democrats' new word for "absolutely no national interest."
The Democrats were not so interested in a "humanitarian" intervention against a much more brutal dictator in Iraq. But, of course, taking out Saddam Hussein, a state sponsor of terrorism who harbored one of the perpetrators of the 1993 attack on the World Trade Center, would make Americans safer.
Democrats are furious whenever American boys (girls and gays) are put in harm's way -- unless the troops are on a mission that has nothing whatsoever to do with defending the United States.
Obama ignored the murder, imprisonment and torture of peaceful Iranian protesters demonstrating against Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's theft of an election in 2009. But he was hopping mad about Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak getting rough with a mob in Tahrir Square with less distinct objectives.
We knew what the Iranian students wanted: a stolen election overturned.
What did the Egyptians want? At the time, liberals angrily cited the high unemployment rate in Egypt as proof that Mubarak was a beast who must step down.
Have they, by any chance, seen the recent employment numbers for the U.S.? The only employment sectors showing any growth are Hollywood sober-living coaches and medical marijuana dispensaries. Are we one jobs report away from liberals rioting in the streets?
As The New York Times recently reported, since Mubarak stepped down, the driving force in the new government is the Muslim Brotherhood. America is worse off because Mubarak stepped down, which was Obama's exact foreign policy objective.
On Monday night, Obama gave a speech intended to explain America's mission and purpose in our new Libyan adventure. He said: "Some nations may be able to turn a blind eye to atrocities in other countries. The United States of America is different."
He forgot to add: "However, the United States of America will be turning a blind eye to atrocities in Syria, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Jordan, the Ivory Coast and Bahrain."
One searches in vain for a description of some American interest in supporting the rebels in Libya.
True, Gadhafi was responsible for numerous terrorist acts against Americans in the 1980s, including blowing up Pan Am flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, in 1988, killing 270 people, including 189 Americans.
Soon after President Bush's 9/11 speech vowing to go to war not only with terrorists, but those who supported them, Gadhafi accepted responsibility for the Lockerbie bombing and paid the victims' families $8 million apiece.
After Bush invaded Iraq, Gadhafi suspended Libya's nuclear and chemical weapons program, inviting international inspectors to verify that the programs had been halted.
A few years after that, Gadhafi paid millions of dollars to the victims of other Libyan-sponsored terrorist attacks from the '80s. In return, President Bush granted Libya immunity from terror-related lawsuits.
Only Fox News' Bill O'Reilly thinks Obama is intervening in Libya to avenge the Lockerbie bombing.
However far off the mark Gadhafi is from being the Libyan George Washington, he poses no threat to the U.S. -- whereas the rebels we are supporting might.
But Democrats couldn't care less about the interests of their own country. Indeed, if there were the slightest possibility that our intervention in Libya would somehow benefit the United States, they would hysterically oppose it.
When it came to the Iraq War -- which actually served America's security interests -- Democrats demanded proof that Saddam Hussein was 10 minutes away from launching a first strike against the U.S. They denounced the Iraq War nonstop, wailing that Saddam hadn't hit us on 9/11 and that he posed no "imminent threat" to America.
What imminent threat does Libya pose to the U.S.? How will our interests be served by putting the rebels in charge?
Obama didn't even suggest the possibility that our Libyan intervention serves the nation's interest. Last weekend, his defense secretary, Robert Gates, said the uprising in Libya "was not a vital national interest to the United States, but it was an interest." So, not a vital interest, but an interest. Like scrapbooking, surfing or Justin Bieber.
When it came to Iraq, liberals proclaimed that invading a country "only" to produce a regime change was unjustifiable, contrary to international law, and a grievous affront to the peace-loving Europeans.
But they like regime change in Egypt, Libya -- and the Balkans. The last military incursion supported by liberals was Clinton's misadventure in the Balkans -- precisely because Slobodan Milosevic posed no conceivable threat to the United States.
Indeed, President Clinton bragged: "This is America at its best. We seek no territorial gain; we seek no political advantage." Democrats see our voluntary military supported by taxpayer dollars as their personal Salvation Army.
Self-interested behavior, such as deploying troops to serve the nation, is considered boorish in Manhattan salons.
The only just wars, liberals believe, are those in which the United States has no stake. Liberals warm to the idea of deploying expensive, taxpayer-funded military machinery and putting American troops in harm's way, but only for military incursions that serve absolutely no American interest.
To read another article by Ann Coulter, click here.
Posted by Brett at 3:59 PM
More Wisconsin Warning Bells
By Guy Benson
On Monday I warned about the distinct possibility that Wisconsin conservatives, still fighting a post-victory hangover, are being badly outmaneuvered by the Left. Now Michael Barone is worried about the same thing, asking "Is the Tea Party pooped?"
In the state that has made more headlines than any other this year, Wisconsin, Gov. Scott Walker is facing some headwinds. He did get the Republican legislature to pass limits on the bargaining powers of state employee unions. And union dues aren't going to be deducted from public employees' next paychecks.
But the Democratic state senators' tactic of leaving the state and the often violent protests at the state capitol have mobilized public employee unions and their supporters.
...The IWV poll says that voters would oppose recalling Democratic state senators by 60 to 38 percent but oppose recalling Republicans by only 52 to 43 percent.
There's an assumption by many Republicans, seemingly shared by Walker, that voters settled these issues definitively in the November elections. But the IWV poll suggests that voters are not necessarily well-informed and have been swayed by those who frame the issue as collective bargaining "rights."
Respondents become more favorable to Walker's position when informed that public employees are paid 45 percent more than private-sector union members and that union dues have been automatically deducted and go to support candidates workers may not favor.
...The press won't make that case. Republicans and Tea Partiers need to do it themselves.
Meanwhile, the Wisconsin Democratic Party has raised $1.4 million in the last seven weeks, about $250,000 more than they raised in all of 2010 -- an election year:
A report filed Monday says the DPW raised $1.4 million in contributions from February 1 to March 21. That’s about $250,000 more than it raised in 2010.
The Democrats have been fundraising aggressively to support efforts to recall eight Republican state senators who voted for GOP Gov. Scott Walker’s budget repair law, which takes away most collective bargaining rights for most public workers.
Between the well-funded recall efforts and the sleazy scorched earth campaign being waged against a conservative judge up for re-election next week, the Left is playing for keeps while many conservatives snooze. Republicans may not quite appreciate the scope of the machinations they're up against. This fight ain't over, and, as usual, the Left is playing for keeps.
Care to join them?
UPDATE (via Allahpundit): Mark Levin interviewed Judge Prosser on his radio program last night. To get an handle on the stakes in Wisconsin, give it a listen.
If you're moved to proffer financial assistance to Prosser's campaign, click through here.
UPDATE II: National Review editorializes in favor of Prosser's retention.
Posted by Brett at 3:40 PM
Obama: Let's Focus on "Clean Energy"
By Katie Pavlich
President Barack Obama started off his speech on energy policy today by ironically taking a shot a political campaigning, saying slogans like "drill, baby, drill" are not substantial ways to move forward. Interesting coming from a President who recently told the country of Brazil to drill so the U.S. could become one of their best customers.
Obama expressed the pain around high gas prices as a temporary political talking point, that when prices are high there are complaints, when they are low, the push for renewed energy policy dies off.
“But it was also the height of political season , so you had a lot of slogans and gimmicks and outraged politicians waving three-point-plans for two-dollar gas - when none of it would really do anything to solve the problem.”
So what is President Obama’s energy plan moving forward?
The president mentioned opportunities for companies to explore and produce energy in areas offshore, if it is safe to do so. The big word here is “if.” If the Environmental Protection Agency approves that it is safe. If the Department of the Interior approves that it is safe. If the Energy Secretary approves it is safe. If the "green" lobbying groups approve it is safe. If President Obama approves it is safe.
Obama played the political card by mentioning the option of drilling for oil in the United States in order to look more moderate on energy policy, but the majority of his speech was focused on demonizing oil and auto companies that make SUVs. The President encouraged policy that moves the U.S. away from oil no matter what the cost. His goal: to cut oil imports by one-third by 2025.Obama’s speech also hinted at more government regulation of the auto industry by requiring higher fuel efficiency standards for things like tractors, dump trucks and other vehicles used for construction projects and farming.
A key point in Obama’s speech came when he told students that they had the power to control the types of vehicles on the road, that they need to purchase electric vehicles in order to make a difference, inadvertently making the case for a freer market in which consumers are able to make choices to better their lives. He didn't mention the stunning lack of market demand for electric vehicles.
Yet, the Obama Administration and the EPA are forcing companies to adhere to stricter emissions standards, giving companies no choice but to produce vehicles like the Chevy Volt, a product consumers don’t want to buy.
“So there's no reason we shouldn't be using these renewable fuels throughout America. That's why we're investing in things like fueling stations and research into the next generation of biofuels," the President said. "Over the next two years, we'll help entrepreneurs break ground on four next-generation biorefineries - each with a capacity of more than 20 million gallons per year. And going forward, we should look for ways to reform biofuels incentives to make sure they meet today's challenges and save taxpayers money.”
But will this really save taxpayers money? Obama admitted in his speech that “clean” energy is expensive, and that people will need government "help" in order to comply with energy standards, specifically in their homes.
“A lot of people may not have the money up front,” Obama said outside of prepared remarks. He also stressed that government funding would be critical to carry out his energy policy plan.
Silver lining: the President wasn’t willing to take nuclear energy off the table in light of the events in Japan.
“Now, in light of ongoing events in Japan, I want to say another word about nuclear power,” he said. “America gets one-fifth of our electricity from nuclear energy. It has important potential for increasing our electricity without adding carbon dioxide to the atmosphere. But I'm determined to ensure that it's safe.”
Posted by Brett at 12:56 PM
Students Who Get It!
By John Stossel
I went to Princeton in 1969, where they taught me that government could solve the world's problems. Put the smartest people in a room, give them enough taxpayer money, and they will fix most everything. During those years, I heard nothing about an alternative.
How things have changed!
I recently spent time with several hundred college-aged people at a Students for Liberty conference in Washington, D.C. Here were hundreds of students who actually understand that government creates many of the problems, and freedom -- personal and economic liberty -- makes things better.
I appeared at the conference along with David Boaz of the Cato Institute. Here are some highlights.
Karina Zannat, a student at American University in Washington, D.C., said, "A lot of my professors seem to think that even when politicians spend money in seemingly wasteful ways, we should be OK with it because every dollar spent is one dollar that goes toward income for an American citizen."
This is a common canard known as the "broken window" fallacy. The 19th-century French free-market writer Frederic Bastiat exposed it with the story of a boy who breaks a shop window, prompting some townspeople to look at the bright side: fixing the window will stimulate economic activity in the town. The fallacy, of course, is that had the window not been broken, the shopkeeper would have spent the money in more productive ways.
People often commit this fallacy -- have a look at what's being written in the wake of Japan's tsunami.
Meg Patrick of George Mason University asked about the Austrian business cycle theory. How delightful to meet a student interested in that! This is Ludwig von Mises and F.A. Hayek's argument that when government inflates the money supply and holds down interest rates to create an economic boom, a bust, or recession, must follow because the prosperity is built on an artificial foundation.
Meg wanted to know if "the injection of fiscal stimulus into the economy (after the bust) disrupts the signals necessary to fix the current problem."
To which I replied: Sure does. The market is signaling that certain changes are needed, but stimulus spending interferes with those signals. If businesses are not allowed to fail, we don't get the market feedback we need.
David Boaz added: "If you get drunk, you have a hangover. I'm sure some of you have tried the theory: just keep drinking. But you can't keep drinking forever."
Ian Downie from the University of Virginia had a good question about spending: "Our congressional representatives have huge incentives to steal the wealth from the vast majority of the country and funnel it down to their constituents. What kind of systematic changes can we make to stop this perverse incentive machine?"
"The special interests are always there," Boaz said. "The challenge is to get the public interest -- the taxpayers -- to stick around after the election, to keep putting pressure on. And that is very difficult."
He went on to say we need constitutional limits on what government can do. We tried that, of course, but too many insiders have an incentive to interpret the limits so broadly that they are hardly limits at all. So government grows.
Grant Babcock, from the University of Pittsburgh, raised a good point: "If government grows in response to crises, what do we do? It seems like there is always another crisis on the horizon. It used to be international communism. Nowadays ... it's the threat of Islamist fundamentalism. ... Are we trapped?"
The media do keep inventing new crises. The global-warming crisis, the swine flu crisis, the pesticide crisis.
"The running-out-of-oil crisis," Boaz added.
Crisis is a friend of the state.
As Boaz pointed out, however, "sometimes there are crises that cause countries to go ... toward less government. New Zealand hit a crisis like that, and they actually reformed their economy. So there's at least the hope that the next crisis in the United States or Europe will cause people to say: 'This hasn't been working. We have to cut back.'"
After spending time with those students, I feel better about the future of America.
To read aother article by John Stossel, click here.
Posted by Brett at 12:50 PM
Department of Injustice
By Walter E. Williams
One of the requirements to become a Dayton, Ohio police officer is to successfully pass the city's two-part written examination. Applicants must correctly answer 57 of 86 questions on the first part (66 percent) and 73 of 102 (72 percent) on the second part. Dayton's Civil Service Board reported that 490 candidates passed the November 2010 written test, 57 of whom were black. About 231 of the roughly 1,100 test takers were black.
The U.S. Department of Justice, led by Attorney General Eric Holder, rejected the results of Dayton's Civil Service examination because not enough blacks passed. The DOJ has ordered the city to lower the passing score. The lowered passing grade requires candidates to answer 50 of 86 (58 percent) questions correctly on the first part and 64 of 102 (63 percent) of questions on the second. The DOJ-approved scoring policy requires potential police officers to earn the equivalent of an "F" on the first part and a "D" on the second. Based on the DOJ-imposed passing scores, a total of 748 people, 258 more than before, were reported passing the exam. Unreported was just how many of the 258 are black.
Keith Lander, chairman of the Dayton chapter of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, and Dayton NAACP president Derrick Foward condemned the DOJ actions.
Mr. Lander said, "Lowering the test score is insulting to black people," adding, "The DOJ is creating the perception that black people are dumb by lowering the score. It's not accomplishing anything."
Mr. Foward agreed and said, "The NAACP does not support individuals failing a test and then having the opportunity to be gainfully employed," adding, "If you lower the score for any group of people, you're not getting the best qualified people for the job."
I am pleased by the positions taken by Messrs. Lander and Foward. It is truly insulting to suggest that black people cannot meet the same standards as white people and somehow justice requires lower standards. Black performance on Dayton's Civil Service exam is really a message about fraudulent high school diplomas that many black students receive.
The National Assessment of Educational Progress, sometimes called the Nation's Report Card, tests students at the fourth and eighth grades in math, reading, science and writing. The 2009 eighth-grade scores in Ohio were: In math, 54 percent of whites and 14 percent of blacks tested proficient; 54 percent of whites were proficient in reading while 13 percent of blacks were; in science, 43 percent of white and 6 percent of blacks tested proficient; and in writing, 38 percent of whites tested proficient compared with 13 percent for blacks. This black/white education gap remains through high school completion, as seen by huge score differences in college entrance exams taken during the senior year.
There are a number of explanations for poor academic performance among black students, and they include students and parents who are indifferent, alien and hostile to the education process. There's often a poor education environment where thugs are permitted to make education all but impossible. There are often poorly performing teachers and administrators. These problems are masked by fraudulent grades followed by fraudulent diplomas. Grades are meant to convey information to students, parents and the outside world about academic performance. If a student is given A's and B's, when academic performance is really at the D and F levels, the student, his parents and employers are misled. Because black graduates see their grades and diplomas equal to that of white graduates, they and others will understandably see differences in treatment by employers or colleges as racial discrimination.
The most tragic consequence of the DOJ actions is that it brings into question legitimate black achievement and possibly sours race relations. Some Dayton white police officers might see their fellow black police officers as affirmative action hires and have less respect and possibly bear a grudge for assumed differences in treatment.
To read another article by Walter Williams, click here.
Posted by Brett at 12:46 PM
By Thomas Sowell
You don't just walk up to the local bully and slap him across the face. If you are determined to confront him, then you try to knock the living daylights out of him. Otherwise, you are better off to leave him alone.
Anyone who grew up in my old neighborhood in Harlem could have told you that. But Barack Obama didn't grow up in my old neighborhood. He had a much more genteel upbringing, including a fancy private school, in Hawaii.
Maybe that is why he thinks he can launch military operations against Moammar Qaddafi, while promising not to kill him and promising that no American ground troops will be used.
It is the old liberal illusion that you can measure out force with a teaspoon, not only in military operations micro-managed by civilians in Washington, like the Vietnam war, but also in domestic confrontations when the police are trying to control a rioting mob, and are being restrained by politicians, while the mob is restrained by nobody.
We went that route in the 1960s, and the results were not inspiring, either domestically or internationally.
The old saying, "When you strike at a king, you must kill him," is especially apt when it comes to attacking a widely recognized sponsor of international terrorism like Colonel Qaddafi. To attack him without destroying his regime is just asking for increased terrorism against Americans and America's allies. So is replacing him with insurgents who include other sponsors of terrorism.
President Obama's Monday night speech was long on rhetoric and short on logic. He said: "I believe that this movement of change cannot be turned back, and that we must stand alongside those who believe in the same core principles that have guided us."
Just what would lead him to conclude that this includes the largely unknown forces who are trying to seize power in Libya?
Too often in the past, going all the way back to the days of Woodrow Wilson, we have operated on the assumption that a bad government becomes better after the magic of "change." President Wilson said that we were fighting the First World War to make the way "safe for democracy." But what actually followed was the replacement of autocratic monarchies by totalitarian dictatorships that made previous despots pale by comparison.
The most charitable explanation for President Obama's incoherent policy in Libya-- if incoherence can be called a policy -- is that he suffers from the long-standing blind spot of the left when it comes to the use of force.
A less charitable and more likely explanation is that Obama is treating the war in Libya as he treats all sorts of other things, as actions designed above all to serve his own political interests and ideological visions. Whether it does even that depends on what the situation is like in Libya when the 2012 elections roll around.
As for the national interests of the United States of America, Barack Obama has never shown any great concern about that.
President Obama started alienating our staunchest allies, Britain and Israel, from his earliest days in office, while cozying up to our adversaries such as Russia and China, not to mention the Palestinians, who cheered when they saw on television the collapse of the World Trade Center on 9/11.
Many people in various parts of the political spectrum are expressing a sense of disappointment with Obama. But I have not felt the least bit disappointed.
Once in office, President Obama has done exactly what his whole history would lead you to expect him to do-- such as cutting the military budget and vastly expanding the welfare state.
He has by-passed the Constitution by appointing power-wielding "czars" who don't have to be confirmed by the Senate like Cabinet members, and now he has by-passed Congress by taking military actions based on authorization by the United Nations and the Arab League.
Those who expected his election to mark a new "post-racial" era may be the most disappointed. He has appointed people with a track record of race resentment promotion and bias, like Attorney General Eric Holder and Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor.
Disappointing? No. Disgusting? Yes. The only disappointment is with voters who voted their hopes and ignored his realities.
To read another article by Thomas Sowell, click here.
Posted by Brett at 12:43 PM
House to Vote on DC School Vouchers Program Today
By Guy Benson
The House of Representatives is preparing to vote on a bill that would reinstate funding for the DC Opportunity Scholarship Program, which helps poor, inner-city students escape the District's failing public schools. Speaker John Boehner has taken the unusual step of sponsoring this legislation himself.
Before it was unceremoniously kneecapped by the White House and Congressional Democrats in 2009, the program had established a track record of improving reading scores, dramatically lifting graduation rates, and winning strong parental satisfaction.
Oh, and it achieved all of this success at roughly one-fourth the cost of per-pupil public school spending. Let me repeat that: The DCOSP nearly doubled the high school graduation rate of its students (compared to their public school peers -- 91 percent vs. 55 percent) at a fraction of the cost.
Today, Republicans and some Democrats are hoping that today marks the beginning of a process to restoring the rescinded funds. The Obama Administration, of course, opposes the legislation:
While the Administration appreciates that H.R. 471 would provide Federal support for improving public schools in the District of Columbia (D.C.), including expanding and improving high-quality D.C. public charter schools, the Administration opposes the creation or expansion of private school voucher programs that are authorized by this bill. The Federal Government should focus its attention and available resources on improving the quality of public schools for all students. Private school vouchers are not an effective way to improve student achievement. The Administration strongly opposes expanding the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program and opening it to new students.
Indeed! Discounting better classroom results, higher graduation rates, sky-high parental satisfaction, and glittering cost-effectiveness, "private school vouchers are not an effective way to improve student achievement." Tell that to Virginia Walden Ford.
Boehner's bill would provide a mere $20 million in funding to restore this successful vouchers program -- the beneficiaries of which are almost exclusively indigent black families from inner-city DC. And yet, the Obama Administration has suddenly found a form of federal spending it can oppose. What a joke.
UPDATE: The Heritage Foundation fact checks some mindless demagoguery on this issue emanating from -- who else? -- Nancy Pelosi.
Posted by Brett at 12:34 PM
A Culture War Beneath the Radar
By Robert Knight
Underneath headlines about Libya, the Japanese disaster and the Republicans’ dainty attempts to nip around the edges of our massive federal debt, the culture war is raging.
The Left is lobbing nukes into the institution of marriage and the military. Obamacare is going forward, complete with funding for abortion and massive increases in the size of the already enormous Department of Health and Human Services. Defunding this increasingly unpopular power grab should be in every single budget bill – but it’s not.
Using a combination of judicial activism, executive malfeasance and legislative cunning, and counting on an anemic “defense” from the leaders of the “party of family values,” the Left is advancing its cultural agenda with remarkable ease.
Despite no promised certification that lifting the military’s ban on homosexuality won’t harm readiness, recruiting or retention, Obama’s Pentagon has already produced materials hatched in a theater of the absurd. As Washington Times correspondent Rowan Scarborough reports, Marine commanders will have to ponder, for example, what to do if two male marines are seen kissing in a shopping mall.
Now there’s a scenario for building respect for the military among the nation’s youngsters.
Boy: “Look, mom, those men in uniforms are, uh, making out right there in the food court! I’m not sure I want to be a soldier after all.”
Liberal mom: “Well, that’s a relief. I didn’t want you to be in the military anyway. All those guns give me the creeps. But why do you find this odd? Are you some kind of religious bigot? Honestly, we’re going to have to call your school and ask them to step up the tolerance training. You won’t even wear that nice polka dot dress and pumps I bought you.”
On the plus side, the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Personnel, chaired by Joe (“You lie”) Wilson (R-SC) will conduct a hearing on Friday, April 1, with Dr. Clifford Stanley, Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel & Readiness, and Vice Admiral William Gortney, Director of the Joint Staff, answering questions about how gutting the law will affect the troops. They will be expected to insist that it will have little impact, but they will be on the hot seat if House members pose some of the 25 pages of tough questions compiled by the Center for Military Readiness.
Meanwhile, the Obama Administration has announced its refusal to defend in court the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which a liberal Massachusetts judge found unconstitutional. House Speaker John Boehner has questioned the “timing” of this dereliction of duty, and has said the House itself will move to defend the law. Fine, but is there ever a good time to trash marriage and the law?
The national assault on Judeo-Christian morality mirrors what is going on in communities all over the country.
For example, the usual suspects – the ACLU – are intent on tearing down a banner in a Rhode Island high school that encourages good behavior.
Here’s the text of the banner, which has hung in Cranston High School West’s auditorium since 1963:
Our Heavenly Father,
Grant us each day the desire to do our best,
To grow mentally and morally as well as physically,
To be kind and helpful to our classmates and teachers,
To be honest with ourselves as well as with others,
Help us to be good sports and smile when we lose as well as when we win,
Teach us the value of true friendship,
Help us always to conduct ourselves so as to bring credit to Cranston High School West.
The ACLU and a single complainant are frothing at the mouth because of the references to “Our Heavenly Father” and “Amen.”
Those words make Rhode Island’s ACLU lawyers shudder like hobbits exposed to the black language of Mordor.
Fortunately, school officials have told the ACLU to take a hike. The usual threat of ruinously expensive lawsuits appears to have failed – for now.
From the halls of Congress to high schools in Rhode Island, the culture war has not slowed a bit despite lack of coverage in major news media.
At bottom, the culture war is really about whether America will remain a God-fearing nation—and a nation with respect for the rule of law. Despite promises by the Left that we can have respect for the law without respect for God, history is replete with contrary evidence.
Let’s hope and pray that the courage and clarity exhibited by school officials in Cranston, Rhode Island, filters up to the national level.
Posted by Brett at 12:31 PM
America is Burning
By Ben Shapiro
Two weeks ago, I visited New York City with my wife, who was interviewing at a local medical school located in the Bronx. I dropped her at the school. Since I was lacking a car, I hopped on a public bus, intending to take it to the local subway station.
I have never been so frightened for my country in my life.
The bus itself was fine; all the people on it had places to be. It was the subway station that was truly scary. The station itself looked like a bomb had hit it. Debris covered the shattered tile floor. The stench of vomit and urine permeated the place. Rust layered the tracks; wooden boards between the tracks moldered into dust. The station had clearly been beautiful at one point, but now it looked like a leftover set from "The Omega Man."
Elderly people sat holding their cheap knockoff bags, quietly avoiding eye contact with the younger crowd. Young people gathered in small groups, speaking in broken English into their expensive cell phones. I saw a couple of young men pass small plastic bags to one another.
Then I got on the train. As the Bronx rushed past, shattered images stuck to the smeared windows like flies to a windshield: buildings with graffiti on every air conditioner, on every window, on every door; empty lots covered in garbage; apartments with hundreds of broken windows; the Bronx River, pieces of wreckage sticking at obtuse angles from the muddy water. The landscape of hopelessness.
This isn't how the Bronx used to be. Two generations ago, the Bronx was a diverse and thriving lower- to middle-class enclave, full of upwardly mobile people. The area was largely immigrant and hummed with the excitement of a population looking to take advantage of the American dream. Myriads of intellectuals grew up in the Bronx, ranging from Don DeLillo to E.L. Doctorow to Harold Bloom to David Halberstam to Chaim Potok to William Safire, entertainers like Woody Allen, Paddy Chayefsky and Stanley Kubrick, and entrepreneurs ranging from Ralph Lauren to Eli Broad to Calvin Klein.
Then the government got involved.
Over the course of the 1960s and 1970s, in an attempt to fight poverty, the New York City government instituted higher property taxes and rent control. The idea behind the property taxes was simple redistributionism -- tenants should be given more money from the pockets of landlords. The same held true for rent control -- the unspoken idea was that landlords had been gypping their tenants.
The unintended consequences were disastrous. Poorer and poorer populations began moving to the Bronx, driving out the aspiring lower middle class. Landlords who had already been operating at profit minimums began losing money. It became simpler for them to burn down their buildings than to fix them up. Similarly, tenants began torching buildings in the hope that the government would build new public housing at the sites. The result became a national catch phrase when Howard Cosell, during the 1977 World Series, commented on an aerial shot of the city: "There it is, ladies and gentlemen: the Bronx is burning."
Today, the Bronx is barren. All the talk of urban renewal is papier-mache pomposity. Even as the elite crowd celebrates the "diversity" and "artistic regrowth" of the Bronx, the Bronx remains a crime and poverty center. In the South Bronx, nearly 50 percent of residents live below the poverty line. Rap and art nouveau will not heal an area destroyed by government interventionism and the substitution of top-down economics for bottom-up entrepreneurialism. The culture of dependency has poisoned the groundwater. The Bronx River is infected with it.
Today, when Americans look at places like Detroit and South Central Los Angeles and the Bronx, they see outliers, locations thrown by fortune or luck to the bottom of the heap. They do not see the policies that led to these areas' fall from grace. And so we continue to elect the same politicians who made the Bronx of literature and jazz into the Bronx of graffiti and hip-hop and prostitution and drugs. Politics and culture had consequences for the Bronx, and they have consequences for America more broadly.
To read another article by Ben Shapiro, click here.
Posted by Brett at 12:26 PM
Project Gunrunner: Obama's Stimulus-Funded Border Nightmare
By Michelle Malkin
Buried in Barack Obama's failed trillion-dollar stimulus program was a $10 million bloody border racket that has now cost American lives. This goes far beyond the usual waste, fraud and abuse underwritten by progressive profligacy. It's bloodstained government malfeasance overseen by anti-gun ideologues -- and now anti-gun ideologue Attorney General Eric Holder will "investigate."
Welcome to Project Gunrunner. Prepare for another Justice Department whitewash.
First, some background. Like so many border programs run amok, Project Gunrunner was the spawn of Beltway bipartisanship. It was established in 2005 as a pilot project under the Bush administration and run by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. The intended goal of the program's sting operations: stop illicit firearms trafficking along the Southwest border through close surveillance of undercover gun purchases and coordinated intervention with Mexico. The deadly result: federally sanctioned gunwalking of high-powered weapons from U.S. officials right into the hands of drug cartel killers.
By 2008, Project Gunrunner's bureaucratic fiefdom had expanded rapidly along the U.S.-Mexico border and into the nine U.S. consulates in Mexico. The office raked in $2 million more through the little-scrutinized Merida Initiative, which Hispanic vote-pandering Republicans rammed through in a war supplemental bill. Despite warnings from the DOJ inspector general that tracking and assessment measures needed improvement, the payroll exploded from a few dozen to more than 200 by 2009. Under the Obama administration, ATF reaped another $21.9 million to expand Project Gunrunner (nearly half from the stimulus boondoggle), and the White House has requested almost $12 million more in fiscal year 2011 appropriations for the program.
Project Gunrunner's reach and authority continues to grow despite dire, prolonged warnings from insiders and whistleblowers that countless monitored guns have been passed on to violent criminals without being intercepted as planned. Following up on leads first published at www.cleanupatf.org and the blogs of gun rights advocates David Codrea and Mike Vanderboegh, CBS News reported last month that Project Gunrunner "allegedly facilitated the delivery of thousands of guns into criminal hands."
One of those guns was used by Mexican gang thugs who murdered U.S. Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry last December. At least six veteran ATF agents and executives stepped forward to expose how ATF presided over the purchase of hundreds of high-powered rifles and pistols -- over the objection of the very private gun shops that the Obama administration's anti-gun zealots have vilified.
One whistleblower familiar with Project Gunrunner's Phoenix offshoot, dubbed "Operation Fast and Furious," told CBS News: "The numbers are over 2,500 on that case by the way. That's how many guns were sold -- including some 50-calibers they let walk." The weapon used in the Mexico slaying of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Special Agent Jaime Zapata has also been linked to Project Gunrunner surveillance operation subjects.
As investigative watchdog Republicans Sen. Charles Grassley and Rep. Darrell Issa step up pressure on the administration to come clean this week about who knew what and when, Obama denied any knowledge of Project Gunrunner on Spanish-language Univision TV. He blithely allowed that "there may be a situation here in which a serious mistake was made. If that's the case, then we'll find out and we'll hold someone accountable."
Coming from a man who appointed crime-coddling, accountability-evading, open-borders corruptocrat Eric Holder to uphold the law, that is a bloody, cruel joke.
To read another article by Michelle Malkin, click here.
Posted by Brett at 12:23 PM
Planned Parenthood Exposed in Mammogram Fraud
By Elisabeth Meinecke
More brilliant work by Live Action: Planned Parenthood's president went on TV and declared Rep. Mike Pence's amendment to defund Planned Parenthood would cost women basic health access -- she specifically mentioned "mammograms."
So Live Action called different Planned Parenthood clinics across the country asking for mammograms. Twenty-seven clinics later, not one was able to provide a mammogram and had to direct the caller somewhere else.
Our favorite part: one employee in Memphis suggested (not sarcastically) she could try Christ Community Service. This is what those in favor of defunding Planned Parenthood have pointed out all along -- there are several places available where women can get access to health care without going to an organization that takes taxpayer money and funds abortion with it.
It's a testament to Live Action that they can always manage to remain one step ahead of Planned Parenthood and can reinvent their investigations to keep the organization on its heels. Planned Parenthood, after having been exposed countless times through Live Action videos, finally alerted the authorities during the last sting. But Live Action refuses to be intimidated.
Listen to the exchange below -- it's worth your 2 minutes. You can also learn more about Planned Parenthood's ties to the eugenics movement and its use of taxpayer funds in this in-depth Townhall Magazine piece.
Posted by Brett at 12:16 PM
A Big Question for 2012
By Peter Ferrara on 3.30.11 @ 6:08AM
If you listen to President Obama and his Democrat and liberal/left cronies carefully, a clear, consistent message comes through on what they think promotes economic growth and jobs. They believe that the way to promote economic growth and prosperity is through increased federal spending, deficits, and debt.
That is not a caricature of their position. This is precisely what they are saying. And they are true to their words.
Still Another Failure of Keynesian Economics
The policy, in fact, began within 30 days of President Obama taking office, with his so-called stimulus bill that increased federal spending by nearly a trillion dollars, which was supposed to create millions of jobs and promote economic recovery. It was followed by further spending increases that altogether have increased federal spending so far by nearly 30% since 2008, to an all time record.
President Obama's own 2012 budget projects a federal deficit for this year of $1.645 trillion, the highest anywhere in world history by several times over. The President's own budget documents project as well that by next year more debt will be run up in one term under President Obama than under all other Presidents in history -- from George Washington to George Bush -- combined. On March 18, the Congressional Budget Office issued a report concluding that federal deficits over the next 10 years under President Obama's budget would soar by nearly a third more than he estimated, totaling nearly $10 trillion over those 10 years, which would double the national debt again to $21 trillion by 2021.
The national debt is already the highest in history as a percent of GDP except for World War II, and on its current course will soar well past that record (109% of GDP). Indeed, our national debt as a percent of GDP is slated to soar past the level that triggered bankruptcy for Greece (115% of GDP), when the financial markets refused to lend the government enough money to cover its enormous annual deficit.
Yet, Paul Krugman has argued in his New York Times column that all of President Obama's increased spending, deficits and debt were not going to be nearly enough to bring back real economic recovery, and that they all should be increased much more. If the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result, then Krugman's columns literally exhibit raving insanity.
In his State of the Union Address earlier this year, President Obama followed Krugman in arguing for still more federal spending as the key to economic growth, jobs, and prosperity. That includes increased spending for high speed trains, high cost bureaucratic education, and higher and longer unemployment benefits, which former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi tells us produce the most bang for the buck in jobs and economic growth. It includes increased spending for a new energy industry based on corporate welfare and bailouts for economic survival, producing high cost energy that will prevent the rest of the economy from surviving, while he shuts off proven reliable energy sources.
Now when Tea Party Republicans move to cut federal spending, deficits and debt, Democrats and their liberal left fellow travelers cry that will wreck the economy and jobs. With the federal deficit this year at $1,645 billion, and federal spending at $3,819 billion, the Senate's second ranking Democrat, Dick Durbin from Illinois, proclaimed on Fox News Sunday recently that $10 billion in cuts for 2011 was the absolute limit. If those wild-eyed Republicans were allowed to cut any more, Durbin claimed, the fragile economic recovery would be stalled, and America would lose the critical federal spending President Obama and the Democrats believe is essential to maintaining America's competitiveness with China.
Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), ranking Democrat on the House Budget Committee, predicted on CBS's Face the Nation on February 20 that implementing the GOP's full $100 billion spending cut for fiscal year 2011 would cause a loss of 800,000 jobs. Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) claimed the GOP spending cuts would risk a double dip recession.
And regularly on The Larry Kudlow Show on CNBC Robert Reich pops up to argue the same, saying that cutting federal spending, deficits, and debt now would impair the recovery. Recently, Ezra Klein of the Washington Post appeared on the show taking the generational baton to argue as well, so confident of establishment authority, that all the federal spending, deficits and debt were essential to propping the economy up right now.
This is not new Democrat propaganda spin. In fact, it reflects precisely the oldest, establishment, hoary, outdated in fact, Keynesian thinking dredged up from the 1970s and even the 1930s.
When Will They Ever Learn?
Keynesian doctrine holds that economic growth is stimulated by increased government spending, deficits, and debt. That is supposed to increase demand, which is supposed to lead to increased production to satisfy that demand, restoring economic growth. It never worked in the 1930s, as the recession of 1929 extended into the decade long Great Depression.
It was a proven failure by the 1970s, for anyone who was paying attention, as ever worsening cycles of inflation and recession culminated in double-digit inflation, double-digit unemployment, and double-digit interest rates. Under Keynesian economics, recession is caused by too little aggregate demand, and inflation is caused by excessive aggregate demand. Since it is impossible to have both too much and too little demand at the same time, recession and inflation together are not supposed to be possible under Keynesian doctrine, and so the 1970s could not have actually happened. The "Progressive" Left has consequently decreed the 1970s to be cast down the memory hole, and rewritten as a classic time of great prosperity, with anyone who refuses to play along shouted down.
By 1981, President Reagan explicitly scrapped Keynesian economics for the more modern supply-side economics, which holds that economic growth results from incentives for increased production. The result was a 25 year economic boom with no significant inflation, the greatest period of wealth creation in the history of the planet, with more wealth created from 1982 to 2007 than in all prior American history combined.
But President Obama and his Rip Van Winkle Democrats have cast all that down the memory hole as well, and taken American economic policy right back to the 1970s as if nothing has happened since then. The result of this irresponsible, heedless, public policy malpractice has been disastrous for America's working people, African Americans, Hispanics, and youth.
Previously, since World War II, recessions have lasted an average of 10 months, with the longest at 16 months. But by December, three years after the last recession started, the latest unemployment report showed the unemployment rate increasing again, to 9.8%, capping 16 straight months of unemployment at 9.5% or above, the longest such period since the Great Depression.
Unemployment among African-Americans had persisted during that period at 15% or above. Among Hispanics it persisted well into double digits as well. Among teenagers it was stuck at 25%, 45% for black teenagers. These groups were truly suffering a depression.
The total army of the unemployed and underemployed stood at over 26 million Americans. The BLS reported the U6 unemployment rate, which includes the unemployed, those marginally attached to the labor force (discouraged), and those working part time for economic reasons, at 17%.
Historically, the deeper the recession the stronger the recovery. But President Obama's recovery has moped along at less than half the rate of prior recoveries from similarly deep recessions. By December, the economy should have been in its second year of a raging recovery with booming economic growth. Instead, a record 44 million were struggling in poverty, one in seven Americans, the highest for the 51 years that the Census Bureau has been tracking poverty, up 4 million over the prior year. The number of Americans receiving food stamps also soared to an all time record 40 million. CBO projects that Obamacare will ultimately put nearly 100 million Americans on Medicaid, the health care program for the poor.
As economist John Lott summarized at FoxNews.com, "For the last couple of years, President Obama keeps claiming that the recession was the worst economy since the Great Depression. But this is not correct. This is the worst 'recovery' since the Great Depression."
President Obama, rebuked by the November political shellacking, finally relented in December and agreed to extend the Bush tax rate cuts for two years, for everyone. And that has allowed the breathing room for the long overdue recovery to now begin to sprout, with unemployment declining to 8.9% in the latest report.
The Voters Have a Hammer
But the economy still has a long way to go before traditional, booming, American economic growth is restored. The labor force participation rate remains stuck at its lowest level in 25 years. With the same labor force participation as before the recession, the unemployment rate would be 11.5% today. Those who have given up and dropped out of the labor force are still not working.
Even worse, the economy has just received a reprieve rather than a permanent stay of execution. President Obama is still pledging to raise the top tax rates of virtually every major federal tax in 2013 for singles earning over $200,000 per year and couples earning over $250,000, the bulk of the nation's employers and investors. The Obamacare tax increases go into effect that year as well. The hammer will come down hardest as a result on working people, African Americans, Hispanics, and the young who have suffered the most under Obamanomics, as they continue to struggle with unemployment, declining incomes, rising poverty, and now rising inflation, just like in the 1970s.
But the voters have a hammer as well. Rest assured that the very question -- do federal spending, deficits, and debt promote economic growth and prosperity? -- will be taken to the voters in the 2012 election. And then we will see if the voters agree with President Obama, Nancy Pelosi, Dick Durbin, Paul Krugman, Robert Reich and Ezra Klein, or whether they agree with the Tea Party that federal spending, deficits, and debt are already so out of control that they threaten the very bankruptcy of America.
Rest assured that the voters will be asked in 2012 to decide as well whether President Obama's scheduled 2013 tax increase tsunami should join his regulatory tsunami, or whether they think that will swamp the American economy.
Posted by Brett at 12:13 PM
The American Association for Retiree Plunder
By David Catron on 3.30.11 @ 6:09AM
For those of us who toil in the vineyards of health care finance it has long been obvious that the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) is, for all intents and purposes, an insurance company disguised as an advocacy group. Thus, it was something of surprise when AARP announced its support for ObamaCare in the fall of 2009. Why would a financial conglomerate so dependent on insurance-related revenue endorse a bill that promised to wreck the health insurance industry? Then, the penny dropped. One of the ways the Democrats proposed to "pay" for their health care law was by cutting the Medicare Advantage (MA) program by $200 billion. This would inevitably drive many carriers out of the MA market and herd millions of seniors back to the more expensive coverage of traditional Medicare.
How would that benefit AARP? Traditional Medicare imposes much higher deductibles and co-pays on its beneficiaries than does MA, and the vast majority of AARP's revenue derives from sales of "Medigap" policies that purport to cover those out-of-pocket expenses. In other words, the AARP endorsed a law that does real financial harm to seniors in order to reap a crop of new customers when ObamaCare guts Medicare Advantage. And it gets worse: Most of the victims of this cynical strategy will be low-income and minority seniors. According to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), nearly 60% of MA beneficiaries have annual incomes of $10,000 to $30,000. Moreover, nearly 30% of Medicare Advantage enrollees are minorities, compared to about 20% for traditional Medicare.
The unholy alliance between AARP and the Democrats on ObamaCare has not been lost on the new Republican majority in the House. Two members of the Ways and Means Committee, Rep. Wally Herger (R-CA) and Rep. Charles Boustany (R-LA) have announced a hearing to be held this Friday: "AARP is known for being the largest and most well known seniors' organization in the country. But what Americans don't know is… that the AARP brand dominates the private Medicare insurance market." As Rep. Boustany phrased it, "In light of AARP's dependence on its income from insurance products, there is good reason to question whether AARP is primarily looking out for seniors or just its own bottom line."
Indeed there is. Only about 20% of its $1.3 billion in annual revenue comes from membership dues. In other words, AARP earns nearly $1 billion per year by endorsing various products and services sold to its members. More than 65% of that tsunami of cash arrives in the coffers of this "seniors' lobby" in the form of royalty payments "for lending its name to policies sold to its members by private insurers." Thus, it seems reasonable for the members of the Ways and Means Committee to ascertain how AARP's financial interests affect its ostensible mission of "enhancing seniors' quality of life." Curiously, when Charlie Rangel (D-NY) was the Chairman of the committee, neither he nor his fellow Democrats showed any interest in such apparent conflicts of interest.
In fact, when they held the majority in the House, the Democrats were so sanguine about AARP's motives that they awarded the organization a huge grant in their infamous "porkulus" legislation. AARP received "an $18 million grant in the economic stimulus package for a job training program that has not created any jobs." More to the point, the Democrats granted AARP a long list of special dispensations from the most onerous features of ObamaCare. As Chris Jacobs of the Republican Policy Committee has noted, AARP received exemptions from the prohibition on pre-existing condition exclusions and the $500,000 cap on executive compensation for insurance industry executives.
Jacobs also points out that the Democrats exempted AARP from the tax they imposed on insurance companies in general, "even though according to its own financial statements AARP generated more money from insurance industry 'royalty fees' than it received from membership dues, grant revenues, and private contributions combined." And, although ObamaCare requires MA plans to spend 85 percent of premium revenue on medical claims, the Democrats lowered the bar for AARP's Medigap policies to a mere 65 percent. This is perhaps what the "advocacy group" was getting at when, in response to the announcement of the upcoming hearing, it posted the following statement on its website: "AARP has a long-standing and good working relationship with Congress."
AARP has also enjoyed a "good working relationship" with the "news" media. Stories about the organization almost invariably refer to AARP as "the nation's leading seniors' lobby," with no mention of its billion dollar endorsement racket. And, predictably, MSM coverage of the upcoming Ways and Means hearing portrays it as a partisan attack on a GOP enemy. The New Republic, for example, covers the story in an article subtly titled "Republicans to AARP: Payback Time." Its author implausibly claims to be unable to see "that the Affordable Care Act means better sales of AARP plans," then devotes the rest of his column to red herrings involving the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and President Bush's Medicare drug law.
But the usual progressive weapons of mass distraction won't be sufficient to obscure AARP's brazen conflicts of interest. The organization's press release says it is "committed to transparency," but it has historically resisted congressional attempts to acquire details about its multifarious insurance deals. And little wonder. If America's seniors ever figure out that AARP's endorsement of ObamaCare was a cynical strategy to bilk the elderly, the seniors' group will begin hemorrhaging members as quickly as its fellow Quisling, the AMA, has lost physicians. So, Friday's hearing should be an interesting study in evasion.
Posted by Brett at 12:05 PM
The Bully's Pulpit
By Jay D. Homnick on 3.30.11 @ 6:08AM
Every so often someone asks me my greatest strength as a columnist. But no one needs to ask me my greatest flaw; I wear it on my sleeve. It is that there is one person in government whom I despise so utterly that mere mention of his name makes me spew all over the page. My poor reasonable readers all scurry for cover in fear of getting acid burns from my invective.
By the same token, he is the reason I felt compelled to enter this field. By a weird quirk of fate, I was present as a sixteen-year-old boy at a local meeting of well-meaning Jews who were gulled into making him State Senator for the neighborhood where I grew up, in Brooklyn, New York. The same boobs later bought his malarkey and promoted him to the United State Congress. I saw the sleaziness, the deception, the insincerity, the manipulation -- and to cap it off, the absolute disdain for the people whose vote he sought.
Now he is ensconced in the United States Senate, beyond the reach of the naïve Orthodox Jews of Brooklyn and Queens to call back the monster they created. He learned early that these people who strive for morality and integrity in their lives are gullible about things taking place in faraway Washington, D.C. So he learned to attend every synagogue dinner and every major bar-mitzvah and wedding. He had a driver zipping him back and forth on Saturday nights from event to event, shaking hands and mouthing a few words in Yiddish or Hebrew. Burning the midnight snake oil: all style, no substance.
Then he took their votes, the votes of people being faithful to their families, people who spend their heart-blood on religious education, on protecting their children from base influences, often living without televisions in their homes, imagining themselves to be conducting lives of holiness -- and he spent their votes on advocacy for every immoral practice imaginable. If you want to promote some corruption, some indecency, some nastiness, you could always count on the vote of good old Charles Schumer.
After all, he was in the safest seat of all, bestowed upon him by all those sweet ingenuous rabbis. Even when he left, he handed it off to his protégé, Anthony Weiner, who does the identical dog-and-pony show at all the synagogues and then hands his vote to Satan as a tribute.
As you may have guessed from my tirade, Schumer is back in form. He was recorded by reporters instructing a quartet of Democrat Senators how to game the budget debate. For once his finagling is exposed: even a snake cannot wriggle away when it is stuck on the tape. He tells his henchmen to hammer away about the "extreme" cuts by the radical Tea Party Republicans. Tell everyone that Democrats want to negotiate but the Republicans are refusing to be reasonable.
I don't suppose this is too much creepier than other political machinations, but I can't help seeing red and black and blue. This man does for Judaism what Harry Reid does for Mormonism: portray it as the province of selfish, grasping, conniving leeches who are willing to bulldoze the moral edifice the Founders built. They do it to advance the cause of a pseudo-progressive remaking of society into a state of moral anarchy.
Please accept my apology. I know I cannot be coherent about this very sore subject. To me he is the Bernie Madoff of moral capital. He got all the Orthodox Jews to invest their moral capital with him and he cleaned them out. My only consolation is that they were sold out but they did not sell out; they got nothing in return. (In fairness, staffers at his neighborhood offices -- including my cousin's cousin -- were always solicitous of the needs of constituents and helped wherever possible.)
Until he leaves public office, I will never be fully able to accept the model of government as a force for good. My dream of seeing Jews in Congress associated with probity and integrity, wisdom and prudence, is all focused on one man right now: Eric Cantor. Somehow I believe against all odds that in the long run the Cantor will lead the congregation in a noble direction. Hey, Schumer, is that extreme enough for ya?
To read another article on the subject, click here.
Posted by Brett at 11:58 AM