Friday, September 30, 2011
Bombshell: DOJ Considering Elimination of ATF
By Katie Pavlich
Multiple sources, including sources from ATF, DOJ and Congressional offices have said there is a white paper circulating within the Department of Justice, outlining the essential elimination of ATF. According to sources, the paper outlines the firing of at least 450 ATF agents in an effort to conduct damage control as Operation Fast and Furious gets uglier and as election day 2012 gets closer. ATF agents wouldn’t be reassigned to other positions, just simply let go. Current duties of ATF, including the enforcement of explosives and gun laws, would be transferred to other agencies, possibly the FBI and the DEA. According to a congressional source, there have been rumblings about the elimination of ATF for quite sometime, but the move would require major political capital to actually happen.
“It’s a serious white paper being circulated, how far they’d get with it I don’t know,” a confidential source said.
After a town hall meeting about Operation Fast and Furious in Tucson, Ariz. on Monday, ATF Whistleblower Vince Cefalu, who has been key in exposing details about Operation Fast and Furious, confirmed the elimination of ATF has been circulating as a serious idea for sometime now and that a white paper outlining the plan does exist.
Sounds great right? Eliminating ATF? But there is more to this story. Remember, low level ATF field agents, like ATF whistleblower John Dodson, were uncomfortable conducting Operation Fast and Furious from the beginning, but were told by high level officials within ATF that if they had a problem with the operation, they could find a job elsewhere.
“Allowing loads of weapons that we knew to be destined for criminals, this was the plan. It was so mandated,” ATF Whistleblower John Dodson said in testimony on Capitol Hill on June 15, 2011.
In fact, not only were the ATF agents forced to carry out the operation, they were told to go against what they had been taught in training.
“This operation, which in my opinion endangered the American public, was orchestrated in conjunction with Assistant U.S. Attorney Emory Hurley. [Emory Hurley is the same Assistant U.S. Attorney who previously prevented agents from using some of the common and accepted law enforcement techniques that are employed elsewhere in the United States to investigate and prosecute gun crimes.] I have read documents that indicate that his boss, U.S. Attorney Dennis Burke, also agreed with the direction of the case,” Special Agent Peter Forcelli said in testimony on Capitol hill on June 15, 2011.
“I recall my first days at the ATF academy, where it was drilled into us as new agents that under no circumstances would any firearms, in any investigation, leave the control of ATF. Instructors stressed that even if a weapon was lost “by accident,” the agent was still subject to termination,” former ATF Attaché to Mexico Darren D. Gil said in testimony on June 15, 2011.
ATF field agents weren’t the problem with Operation Fast and Furious, high ranking officials within ATF and the Department of Justice were and still are. DOJ would eliminate ATF only to take the heat off of the Obama Administration. By eliminating the bureau, it makes it seem like DOJ is taking Operation Fast and Furious so seriously, they decided to “clear out the corruption, clean house,” however, it would only be a distraction away from the people at the top of the investigation. In fact, evidence shows the DOJ has been stonewalling the Oversight Committee investigation into the operation to protect Obama political appointees.
“It was very frustrating to all of us, and it appears thoroughly to us that the Department is really trying to figure out a way to push the information away from their political appointees at the Department,” former ATF Acting Director Kenneth Melson, who has since been moved to a position within DOJ, said of his frustration with the Justice Department’s response to the investigation in transcribed closed door testimony with the Oversight Committee in July 2011.
When I called the Department of Justice last week (five times) to request the white paper and receive a comment surrounding the idea of eliminating ATF, I received the following response: “Everyone is away from their desk right now.”
Up to this point, the Department of Justice has denied all allegations or involvement in Operation Fast and Furious, yet journalists and the House Oversight Committee have proved allegation after allegation to be true. For example, during a Congressional hearing in July, former ATF Special Agent in Charge William Newell, who has since been promoted to a position within the Justice Department, denied that his agency was trafficking guns to Mexico, despite overwhelming evidence and testimony from other ATF agents proving otherwise.
“At no time in our strategy was it to allow guns to be taken to Mexico,” Newell said on July 26, 2011, adding that at no time did his agency allow guns to walk.
We’ve heard this was a low level, “rogue” operation, turns out high level officials in the Justice Department, DEA, FBI, DHS, and even members of the White House national security team knew about Operation Fast and Furious.
Last week, ATF offered 400 agents buy outs to avoid budget cuts and is expecting 250-275 agents to take the offer through Voluntary Early Retirement. These buyouts come at a convenient time for the Justice Department, which can eliminate ATF, then say it’s because of budget cuts, when really, it’s to cover their tracks.
To read more about Operation Fast and Furious, click here.
Posted by Brett at 2:50 PM
May 2012 Be a Referendum on Obama's Perverse Vision for America
By David Limbaugh
Barack Obama's 2008 presidential campaign was grounded in meaningless platitudes, such as "hope and change." His 2012 re-election effort is grounded in meaningful platitudes centered in the destructive politics of class warfare.
Despite his best efforts to paint his abominable economic record in a favorable light, Obama simply cannot run on it, unless he succeeds in completely changing the traditional yardsticks by which we have always measured economic success: growth, unemployment, inflation and general prosperity.
No, I'm not referring to the ludicrous yardstick of "saved or created" jobs, which Obama has pushed way beyond its sell-by date. There's a limit even to the liberal media's ability to convince credulous Obama supporters that down is up and depression is prosperity.
He could conceivably boast that he has indeed created jobs, as long as we understand that he's talking about public-sector jobs, many of which have been formed at the expense of those in the private sector. But he won't dare bank on the American people's sympathy for that argument.
Instead, he'll continue to milk his militant class-warfare theme, hoping to shift our focus from the unemployment, economic stagnation and thunderous debt he's orchestrated to our baser instincts of jealousy, greed and envy.
For those stubbornly slow on the uptake, I ask you: Could it be any clearer now what Obama meant when he promised that he was going to fundamentally change America? Those moralizing idealists might have had a plausible excuse for their obtuseness before, but they can no longer be blind to Obama's grandiose scheme to restructure America.
To be sure, Obama has paid lip service to America as a land of opportunity, just as he assured us he was a fierce advocate of the free market. But he has labored to convert America from a land of equal opportunity to one where the government equalizes economic outcomes. He has set out to achieve his goal not through a process of gentle persuasion, but by polarization and intense demonization of those who have enjoyed economic success.
If you listen to him or any number of his advisers and associates, you can't help but notice a marked contempt for big corporations, bankers, the "wealthy" and every other symbol of business and capitalism that he can incite the "proletariat" against.
Obama knows he's stoking the flames of class warfare almost every time he opens his mouth today. He knows that the lion's share of his economic policies are not even geared toward promoting economic growth and prosperity. They are designed to grow government and increase its control over our lives and to "spread the wealth around." That's his vision for America, which explains why in his view, under his perverse yardsticks, he is not failing, though America, by any conventional measure, manifestly is.
Obama's senior adviser and alter ego, Valerie Jarrett, recently declared that government's role is to create jobs -- not in the sense of getting out of the way, but with artificially manufactured make-work jobs that central planners deem desirable. She believes that it's government's role to equalize results rather than to remove barriers against equal opportunity.
Jarrett said: We need to be "creating a country that's a country for everybody, not just for the very, very wealthy. ... (Obama is) not willing to balance our budget on the backs of the least of these." He's not willing to hurt Medicare or Social Security "while the very wealthy and the corporations that are the most profitable are not paying their fair share." Democratic senatorial candidate Elizabeth Warren similarly informed us, "There is nobody in this country who got rich on his own."
Liberals such as Obama would have us believe that they enthusiastically embrace the American ideal and that they just want to expand the safety net a little bit to help the poor. They are the champions of the middle class.
Sorry, with their decades-long track record of failure, they no longer get a pass for their allegedly good intentions. Obama is a human wrecking ball single-handedly destroying our economy and bankrupting the nation. Hardest hit: the middle class. For him to masquerade as the grand protector of the middle class is like Winston Churchill passing himself off as a pacifist.
Obama's rhetoric might be appropriate in pre-revolutionary France, where the nobles were exempt from the taille, France's chief tax, and an overwhelmingly disproportionate burden was falling on the peasants, artisans and ordinary merchants. But we're in America, and last time I checked, the bottom 47 percent of income earners aren't even paying income tax.
In 2012, American voters are going to have a clear choice of whether America will restore itself as a glorious land of individual liberty and equal opportunity or continue down Obama's suicidal path of poverty and tyranny.
To read another article by David Limbaugh, click here.
Posted by Brett at 12:42 PM
'Centrists' Are Abandoning Ship
By Jonah Goldberg
President Obama's failure to fully achieve the liberal agenda and remain popular in the process is fueling dangerous radicalization in the oddest of places: the media establishment, which considers itself the guardian of the political center.
I should say "the so-called center," because one of those most tedious -- yet meticulously maintained -- fictions is the claim that the establishment is, in fact, "centrist."
If you've ever met these people and talked to them about how they see the world, heard them give a college commencement address, read their books or endeavored to find out the political views of their spouses, you'd have all the evidence you need to learn that the establishment's centrist facade is so much Potemkin poster board.
For example, remember the media obsession with the cockeyed fantasy that Obama was the next FDR? Go back and watch some of those late-2008 and early-2009 episodes of "Meet the Press." The guests were so giddy about the prospect they looked like 6-year-olds at a birthday party ordered to sit still while the clown got ready to make balloon animals.
But Obama is no FDR, nor a Lincoln, nor a liberal Reagan. At this point he's simply hoping to not be a Carter. And that's fomented establishment despair. Tina Brown editor of both the Daily Beast and Newsweek, recently let it slip on MSNBC (a trifecta of establishmentarian liberal media outlets!) that she thinks Obama "wasn't ready" for the job in 2008.
The establishment can't bring itself to blame liberalism (or themselves). So instead they blame the system. Obama's own re-election theme of running against "Washington" -- a town he had near total control over for two years and in which he is still the most powerful figure -- is a variant of the same argument. Obama can't blame the party he leads, so he blames the "system."
That idea -- that the system itself is to blame -- has now gone viral.
New York Times columnist Tom Friedman, who's been pushing and predicting a "geo-green third party" since 2006, is convinced there will be something like that in 2012. Why? Because his gut tells him so.
Friedman's gut is a terrifying thing. During the fight over "Obamacare," he didn't just think the political system "sucks" (to borrow Democratic wise man Tony Podesta's term), he found it demonstrably inferior to China's authoritarian regime.
Just last week, Bev Purdue, Democratic governor of North Carolina, declared, "I think we ought to suspend, perhaps, elections for Congress for two years and just tell them we won't hold it against them, whatever decisions they make." She now says she was joking, an interpretation hard to square with the audio recording.
Similarly, former Obama aide Peter Orszag (now of Citibank, of course) also pinpoints democracy as the real problem. In the latest New Republic, he proposes that we empower more "depoliticized commissions" to make the important decisions.
Friedman likes "depoliticized commissions" too, like the Chinese politburo. That's why he's written how he wishes we could be just like "China for a day," so we could simply impose all the policies he likes.
At least Matt Miller, an avowed radical centrist, doesn't want to scrap democracy. He just wants to scrap the two-party system. Now, this isn't undemocratic. It's not even necessarily a terrible idea (though I don't endorse it).
But what's interesting about Miller's argument is how un-centrist it is. Writing for the Washington Post, Miller explains how he wants a new third party that will reject "the Democrats' timid half-measures and the Republicans' mindless anti-government creed."
The new centrism: No more half-measures, just full-blown liberalism.
As you go through Miller's platform, you can tell he's serious. He wants to spend vastly more money over "a couple years" to "fix the economy." Ever more taxpayer dollars will be poured into infrastructure, make-work service jobs and education. Once unemployment is lower, he wants to tax "dirty energy" and impose trade tariffs.
That's pretty much Friedman's ideal agenda too.
Come to think of it, it's also Barack Obama's! Perhaps not in every particular, but as several left-wing bloggers have noted, Miller's third party sounds an awful lot like the Democratic Party with a new coat of paint.
6This is a fascinating departure from the usual pabulum from centrists who insist that they are neither right nor left. This is nothing less than a desperate abandonment of Obama and the Democratic Party in order to preserve the credibility of the ideas driving Obama and the Democratic Party.
There are few things more pathetic than rats deserting a sinking ship while claiming they're a superior breed of rat.
To read another article by Jonah Goldberg, click here.
Posted by Brett at 12:24 PM
Friends and Enemies
By Oliver North
WASHINGTON -- When the U.S. State Department announced this week that it finally is going to designate the Haqqani network as a foreign terrorist organization, it was a nonevent for most of our countrymen. That's because few Americans know how deadly the organization is. For that we can thank those at Foggy Bottom who are wedded to the naive hope of a near-term "diplomatic breakthrough" in Afghanistan. Couple that misguided belief with the Obama administration's self-deception that the radical Islamic jihad against the West ended with the demise of Osama bin Laden and it's understandable why the Haqqani network is virtually unknown. Here's the short form of why it's important.
When Jalaluddin Haqqani founded the criminal enterprise now known as the Haqqani network, Soviet troops were running amok in Afghanistan. Adopted by Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence agency as a reliable ally, Haqqani's fame as a Pashtun mujahed soon rivaled that of Tajik leader Ahmad Shah Massoud. Both the ISI and the CIA believed that Haqqani was "controllable." But he wasn't.
After the Soviets withdrew in 1989 and Afghanistan descended into civil war, Massoud opposed the Taliban takeover. Haqqani, encouraged by the ISI, sided with Mullah Mohammad Omar's Taliban and became a key player in Islamabad's window on what was happening in Kabul.
Though Massoud was murdered on the eve of the al-Qaida attack on 9/11, his Northern Alliance fighters were the backbone of the U.S.-led effort to unseat the Taliban. Haqqani, ever loyal to his handlers in the ISI's Department "S," soon became the most dangerous name in the Afghan insurgency and a "trusted brand" for Islamic mujahedeen from around the world, who want to kill Westerners. It's been that way for a decade. Apparently, our State Department just figured this out.
On Sept. 22, Adm. Mike Mullen, the retiring chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee. He described the Haqqani network -- now run by Jalaluddin Haqqani's son Siraj -- as "a veritable arm" of Pakistan's intelligence service. He also accused Haqqani "insurgents" of collaborating with the ISI in scores of high-profile attacks against U.S. and NATO personnel -- including the bloody June 28 attack on the InterContinental hotel in Kabul and the Sept. 13 assault on the U.S. Embassy there. Every official who could get to a microphone in Islamabad immediately denied the charge -- as did Pakistan's foreign minister, Hina Rabbani Khar, at the United Nations. None of this could have been a surprise to our State Department.
Since 2009, U.S. and NATO commanders in Afghanistan quietly have urged Pakistan's armed forces to move against the Haqqani headquarters, which is in a madrassa in mountainous Miran Shah. But for Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani -- Pakistan's military chief of staff -- such an operation in North Waziristan was a non-starter because it meant taking troops and equipment from the eastern frontier facing Pakistan's "real enemy" -- India. Nervous officials at our State Department voiced concerns that a Pakistani military move against the Haqqanis could precipitate a "destabilizing political upheaval in nuclear-armed Pakistan -- something none of us (wants)."
The Obama administration's uncertainty and ambivalence about what to do about the Haqqani threat means this "family-led enterprise devoted to waging war" in the name of jihad carries on with near impunity. Other than missile strikes from unmanned aerial vehicles -- which carefully leaked stories have described as effective -- little has been done to thwart the flow of new jihadi recruits from Haqqani-run madrassas or to cut the cash coming into the family coffers that finances the killing of American troops.
It's not just ISI financial support. Funding for Haqqani paramilitary operations and improvised explosive devices also comes from Saudi Arabia, interest on "family" bank accounts in the United Arab Emirates, extortion and ransom from kidnappings. A recent intelligence report describes how the Haqqanis "portray themselves as deeply religious while making a fortune from the sale and transportation of opium." The organization's success in "taxing" Afghan contractors paid with U.S. tax dollars is legendary. Another report identifies "legitimate businesses" being run overtly in Pakistan and Afghanistan by loyal clan members.
Will the State Department's belated decision to designate the Haqqani network as a foreign terrorist organization change any of this? It could, if it's done the right way.
It's not enough simply to freeze Haqqani assets in U.S. banks. It's unlikely after this week's announcement that the network has a savings account here anyway. A far better approach would be to bar any company or bank that does business with any Haqqani entity from doing any business in the U.S.
Identifying, disrupting and discrediting foreign donors and sources of funding is crucial to strangling the organization's finances. Combining this effort with a carefully orchestrated political action campaign exposing Haqqani criminal activity -- particularly the opium trade -- could discredit the network's self-proclaimed "moral authority" to attract new recruits to the jihad.
Can the O-Team pull this off? Let's hope so. It could make the difference in our keeping friends -- and doing in our enemies.
To read another article by Oliver North, click here.
To read another related article, click here.
Posted by Brett at 12:05 PM
Does Fast and Furious Put Impeachment on The Table?
By Ben Shapiro
"The story is one of not covert activity alone," intoned Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, "but of covert foreign policy .... It is a tale of working outside the system and of utilizing irregular channels and private parties accountable to no one, on matters of national security, while ignoring the Congress and even the traditional agencies of executive foreign policy making. The story is both sad and sordid."
Sen. Inouye was speaking not of the biggest scandal of the Obama administration, but of the biggest scandal of the Reagan administration -- the Iran-Contra scandal. In that scandal, the United States sold weapons to parties in Iran in an attempt to free Lebanese-held hostages, then funneled the weapons cash to the anti-communist Contras in Nicaragua. The outcome of that scandal: indictments against the secretary of defense, the national security advisor, the assistant secretary of state, the chief of covert ops at the CIA and several others.
That scandal pales by comparison to the so-called Fast and Furious scandal now bubbling in Washington, D.C. In fall 2009, Eric Holder and the Department of Justice decided on a strategy supposedly designed to combat gun trafficking on the Mexican border. They didn't want the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to seize illegal firearms anymore; instead, they wanted them to give firearms to members of the Mexican cartels.
According to the Congressional report, "ATFs Phoenix Field Division began allowing suspects to walk away with illegally purchased guns .... This shift in strategy was known and authorized at the highest levels of the Justice Department." One goal was to identify "straw purchasers" -- legal gun purchasers who hand off those guns to illegal owners. Instead of arresting the straw purchasers and their contacts, however, ATF was to allow the guns to continue to flow to the Mexican drug cartels. "ATF and DOJ leadership were interested in seeing where these guns would ultimately end up," the report states. "ATF would only see these guns again after they turned up at a crime scene."
That's exactly what happened. The entire operation ended with only 20 indictments of straw purchasers -- indictments that could have happened immediately upon transfer of the weapons, stopping the flow. In fact, the straw purchasers, at issue, were known to be straw purchasers from the get-go. The indictments only took place at all because U.S. Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry was murdered using the weapons authorized for free flow by ATF and DOJ. Terry wasn't the only person killed because of Fast and Furious -- the weapons OK'd by the DOJ and ATF were used in three murders, four kidnappings and an attempted murder in Mexico. They've been identified at 11 other crime scenes in the United States.
So what was the real goal of the DOJ and ATF? It certainly wasn't to shut down access to arms for the cartels -- the ATF was agreeing to such access. It wasn't to stop straw purchasers -- the ATF was signing off on the straw purchasers. It wasn't to track the movements of the cartel -- there was no way to do that. It was, very simply, to establish for political reasons that American guns were being used in crimes by foreign cartels.
This was the Reichstag fire of the Second Amendment. By authorizing the passage of weapons to America's enemies, President Obama and his administration clearly wanted to set up a narrative that America's lax gun laws were killing American troops and law enforcement officers. They wanted their misuse of law enforcement authority to create the impetus for a crackdown on gun sales in the United States.
How high does this go? Apparently, all the way to the top. The attorney general of the state of Arizona, a Democrat operative, has already resigned in an attempt to avoid the consequences of participating in this fiasco. Middle management at DOJ and ATF has already been thrown under the bus. The acting director of the ATF, Kenneth Melson, has already been defenestrated.
For his part, Obama has denied that Attorney General Eric Holder green-lit the operation, stating, "My attorney general has made clear he certainly would not have ordered gun running to be able to pass through into Mexico." This is less than credible -- how could the head of the DOJ not know about an operation of this magnitude handled by the DOJ? And how could President Obama not know? And why, if the DOJ is uninvolved, do they want a copy of Melson's confidential interview with Congressional staff?
If this scandal runs all the way up the chain of command -- and by all indicators, it could -- it is certainly an impeachable offense. This is a high crime, not a misdemeanor. Pushing an operation designed to undercut American freedoms that ends with the death of Americans is not only illegal, it is unconscionable. And unlike Iran-Contra, it wasn't done for the right reasons.
To read another article by Ben Shapiro, click here.
Posted by Brett at 11:45 AM
The Radio-Controlled Airplane Jihad
A foiled terrorist receives delicate media coverage.
by John Hayward
Did you know a homegrown radicalized Muslim was just arrested for plotting to fly remote-controlled airplanes full of high explosives into the Pentagon and the U.S. Capitol, as part of his long-term plan to help al-Qaeda wage “jihad” against the “enemies of Allah?”
You might have heard about the remote control planes and the explosives. Rezwan Ferdaus, a 26-year-old Northeastern University physics graduate who lived in Massachusetts, was busted by the FBI after he tried to purchase explosives from undercover agents. He was planning to turn some large model airplanes – the kind that barely fit into a car trunk once they’ve been assembled – into GPS-guided missiles.
You almost certainly have not heard Ferdaus described as a Muslim or jihadist in headlines. Instead, a number of rather clever descriptions have been deployed by the media. The best one comes from CBS News, which describes him as a “Mass. musician.” Ferdaus was the drummer for a band called “The Silk Road,” you see. He was a Mass. musician bent on mass murder.
Ferdaus is also widely described as a “Massachusetts man” or an “Ashland man.” At the time of his arrest, the U.S. District Attorney for Massachusetts, Carmen Ortiz, released an unusually pointed statement: “I want the public to understand that Mr. Ferdaus’ conduct, as alleged in the complaint, is not reflective of a particular culture, community, or religion.” With the possible exception of Massachusetts musicians, who can apparently be associated with brutal acts of terrorism without fear of lasting injury to their reputations.
“In addition to protecting our citizens from the threats and violence alleged today,” Ortiz continued, “we also have an obligation to protect members of every community, race, and religion against violence and other unlawful conduct.” Ah, yes. The real danger isn’t bomb-wielding terrorists, it’s the lingering threat of the fabled “anti-Muslim backlash” that never comes. Thank heavens Ferdaus was taken down before he could spark a backlash!
Say, isn’t the perpetual assumption that angry lynch mobs are on the verge of forming in flyover country “reflective of a particular culture, community, or religion?” I guess we’re all one Improvised Explosive Device away from becoming Massachusetts musicians.
Rezwan Ferdaus was one determined Ashland man. He’d been planning his big terror attack for two years, while living with his parents, as is now customary for 26-year-olds. He dabbled in the usual all-American high school hijinks with his friends, such as burning flags and sealing the high school doors with concrete. He had already performed careful surveillance of his targets in Washington, and selected launch sites for his drone bombs.
He was planning to do a lot more than fly some model airplanes on the Big Day. He gave undercover FBI agents posing as al-Qaeda recruiters cell phones he had modified to serve as triggers for improvised explosive devices, which he hoped they would deploy against American soldiers. He even produced a training video for making IEDs. When the undercover agents told him one of his cell-phone detonators had killed three U.S. troops, he said, “That was exactly what I wanted!”
At the time of his arrest, he took delivery on twenty-five pounds of C-4, plus three hand grenades and six fully automatic AK-47 assault rifles. How was he going to hang those assault rifles off model airplanes? Oh, those weren’t meant for the planes. He was planning to recruit more “Massachusetts musicians” to use the guns on survivors fleeing his bomb blasts.
Told that his big jihad plan would likely result in the death of women and children, Ferdaus allegedly replied, “I just can’t stop. There is no other choice for me.” Does anyone still think it’s a waste of time trying to discover how many other members of no particular culture, community, or religion might feel that way?
A man who has taken considerable grief for making that attempt, Rep. Peter King (R-NY), said after the remote-controlled airplane jihadist was arrested:
The fact that Ferdaus is a very well-educated physicist should serve as a reminder to us that the threat of Islamic terrorism transcends socioeconomics and does not only emanate from the poor and under-privileged.
Ferdaus' arrest also underscores the need to continue efforts to combat domestic radicalization and the evolving threat of 'lone wolf' extremists.
As long as those efforts don’t hurt anyone’s feelings, that is. According to a report in the U.K. Guardian, “some legal organizations and Muslim groups” are already quite upset about the FBI’s habit of nailing budding terrorists before they get to vaporize anyone:
However, some legal organisations and Muslim groups have questioned whether Ferdaus, whose activities were carried out with two undercover FBI agents posing as terrorists, would have been able to carry out such a sophisticated plot if left to his own devices. In numerous previous cases in the US, the FBI has been accused of over-zealousness in its investigations and of entrapping people into terror plots who might otherwise not have carried out an attack.
"It deeply concerns us. It is another in a pattern of high-profile cases. Would this person have conceived or executed this plot without the influence of the FBI?" said Heidi Boghosian, president of the National Lawyers Guild.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations also expressed its concern and wondered if more details would later emerge at trial that showed the full scale of the FBI involvement in setting up the sting. "There is a big, big difference between a plot initiated by the FBI and a plot initiated by a suspect, and it seems this might have been initiated by the FBI," said Ibrahim Hooper, CAIR's director of communications.
Here’s a little advice for CAIR: why don’t you circulate some pamphlets telling young people to say “no” when undercover FBI agents posing as al-Qaeda recruiters ask if they could make some cell-phone detonators to kill American soldiers, and in return offer to provide them with enough explosives to take out the Pentagon?
To read another article by John Hayward, click here.
To read another article on this subject, click here.
Posted by Brett at 11:19 AM
Man, I Like That Guy: Chris Christie's Dude Factor
by Andrew Breitbart
The Tea Party, which created this unexpected boom time for the conservative cause, has yet to find its ideal principled, politically incorrect and assertive candidate for the Republican nomination. While the conservative movement searches for someone with the intestinal fortitude to stand up to the liberal bullies and their nauseating coalition of assorted unions, community organizers and cynically brainwashed “minority constituencies,” the expected front-runner, Rick Perry, is dropping in the polls as he apologizes for calling many GOP voters “heartless.”
In order to win the nomination in 2012, the Republican Party cannot afford to nominate someone like President George W. Bush, who turned the other cheek for half of his presidency, or Sen. John McCain, who wrongly calculated that his friends in the press were his political allies. This election cycle—and the prospective four to eight year cleanup job of the liberal “era of rage”—will not focus on stem cells, abortion, evolution or other business-as-usual election-year litmus tests. This election is about standing up to the bullies.
I’ve heard the arguments that New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is not conservative enough, but try telling that to the people in the room at the Reagan Library last Tuesday. At the podium that night was a man who in less than two short years has exhibited strength and leadership skills conspicuously absent in the wake of a generation of pervasive political correctness. Big Labor bosses Richard Trumka and Jimmy Hoffa Jr., who stand shoulder-to-shoulder with President Obama, are the bullies on this playground. More than anyone in the country, Gov. Christie has stood his ground in the face of their thuggery and refused to hand over his lunch money.
I didn’t get the sense that he was playing games when he said he was not intending to run for the presidency, and I take him at his word, but I’m glad that I got to see in person the temperament and resolve that the actual GOP nominee must have if President Obama is to be defeated. After the bullies have been restrained, there is still the matter of restoring order in the school yard. The rank-and-file union members, who have been used and abused by a corrupt leadership, must be brought back into the fold. Reagan’s big tent was defined largely by its appeal to union members, but today’s GOP has lost its nerve to reach out to this critical constituency.
Except for Chris Christie. He’s told union members that their brass has conned them, negotiating contracts that could never be fulfilled. He’s gone to union conferences, telling members to their faces that governors of the past—of both parties—have lied to them, promising to increase their publicly funded benefits knowing full-well that New Jersey was broke.
At the Reagan Library, Christie told a story that captured the fighting spirit and tough love Republicans must embody. Shortly after announcing his pension-reform proposal, Christie attended the annual firefighters convention. It was no warm welcome. He was booed by the audience prior to taking the stage and even more loudly when he finally got to the podium. Christie told the crowd that he understood their anxieties about the future, but asked them this question: “Why are you booing the first guy who came into the room and actually told you the truth?”
The next Republican presidential candidate must speak that bluntly and truthfully to this group of people, and call on them to denounce their self-serving, violent and un-American leaders, who have driven them to a point of near-economic ruin. In this regard, the Republican candidate must mimic Chris Christie’s bravery and straight-talk.
One woman in the audience spoke for many in the room, myself included, when she pleaded with the self-effacing governor to rethink his decision. We are a nation that desperately needs someone like Christie, someone ready, willing and able to roll up his sleeves, man up and go after the bullies on the playground.
Posted by Brett at 11:15 AM
By John Berlau on 9.30.11 @ 6:07AM
But also blame Dodd-Frank and pro-retailer Republicans for those new debit card fees -- and job losses.
Read the headlines -- and your bank statement -- and weep, but don't say TAS didn't warn you.
As I detailed here in February in "Dick Durbin Is Stealing Your Free Checking," thanks to price controls on debit card transactions from the Durbin Amendment of the 2010 Dodd-Frank "financial reform" law, free checking is going the way of the dodo bird. The Durbin price controls on interchange fees -- the so-called "swipe fees" that retailers pay to bank and credit unions that process debit card transactions, go into effect this Saturday, October 1, and are already showing more dire effects than originally predicted.
Not only is free checking disappearing at a rapid pace -- a new Bankrate.com survey detailed in USA Today found that only 45% of non-interest bank checking accounts are free, down from 65% in 2010 and 76% two years ago, and that the average monthly fee for non-interest checking accounts is $4.37, up 75 percent from last year -- but ordinary Americans will soon be hit by new monthly fees for using their debit cards. And new evidence shows that the price controls may be causing thousands of job losses as well.
On Thursday, Bank of America announced a new $5 monthly fee for debit card usage, citing the Dodd-Frank price caps that will force retailer interchange fees down from an average of 44 cents to 21 cents and cause banks to lose half their revenue from this service. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) blasted Bank of America and disclaimed any responsibility for his measure causing these new fees. "It's overt, unfair and I hope their customers have the final say," Durbin told the Hill.
But thanks to Durbin's rule, BofA's customer and other ordinary consumers may have nowhere to go. According to the Associated Press, regional banks are following suit: "SunTrust, a regional bank based in Atlanta, began charging a $5 debit card fee on its basic checking accounts this summer. Regions Financial, which is based in Birmingham, Ala., plans to start charging a $4 fee next month."
And the Texas community bank International Bancshares dealt with the revenue loss from the price controls in another way. Last week, the firm announced it was closing 55 branches in grocery stores and shedding 500 jobs. And speaking of jobs, the Durbin Amendment was cited as a factor in BofA layoff of 30,000 of its workers by a Wall Street Journal editorial.
THE IRONY OF THESE DEVELOPMENTS is that if the media and politicians wanted to blame a greedy big business for these new consumer costs, there is one industry that would accurately fit the bill. This would be the giant big-box retailers that lobbied for these price controls to fatten their bottom line.
Durbin even invoked lobbying from the nation's biggest pharmacy chain, Deerfield, Illinois-based Walgreens, when he introduced his amendment to Dodd-Frank in May 2010. Durbin said on the Senate floor that his measure came about after the company's CEO called him to complain that the transaction fees Walgreens pays to process debit and credit cards were "the fourth largest item of cost for their business."
Yet in this era of the "Buffett Rule" and bashing "millionaires and billionaires," Durbin and other liberal proponents of these price controls never quite explained why Congress should be concerned with the routine costs of doing business for a retail chain such as Walgreens that makes $2 billion in annual profits. Or for that matter, other retail behemoths such as Wal-Mart, Home Depot, or Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway, with retail units from Dairy Queen to Nebraska Furniture Mart, that will benefit from this regulation-driven corporate welfare.
In the Hill article, Durbin reiterated his strange belief that bank, but not retailer, profits were somehow illegitimate. "These hidden fees were designed to boost big-bank profits by charging small businesses and merchants every time a debit card was swiped," Durbin exclaimed. "And profit they did."
But what exactly is so wrong about making a profit by charging merchants for a service that improves their bottom lines. Under the current system, ending on Saturday, retailers pay a fee averaging 1.19 percent on each debit card purchase. In return they get more sales and the guaranteed payment for all purchases that was lacking in the "good old days" of bounced checks.
But Dodd-Frank does not even allow banks and credit unions to charge retailers a fee that covers their costs, let alone make a profit. The Durbin Amendment only allows interchange fees that are "reasonable and proportional to cost" and only "incremental costs" can be considered. Starting Saturday, the Federal Reserve's price caps under this rule will prevent banks from charging more than a range of 21 cents to 25 cents per transaction, whether that purchase is for $1 or $10,000.
So it was always inevitable that much of these costs of processing debit cards -- including the upkeep of sophisticated technology and combating fraud and identity theft -- would be transferred from retailers to consumers. In setting the price controls, the Fed almost invited banks and credit unions to engage in this cost shifting, "helpfully" pointing out that "the interchange fee standard would not limit the ability of an issuer to earn revenue from other sources, such as charging fees to cardholders."
But don't worry, the retailers and their lobbyists proclaimed in support of this rule, we'll pass on our billions in savings to our customers. But strangely, there are no "Durbin discounts" being advertised in sales brochures for this weekend. Politico reports that "the savings for consumers on the retail side continue to be mostly theoretical" and quoted the general counsel of the National Retail Federation as saying merely that "companies are exploring it."
Don't hold your breath waiting for retailers to pass on their windfall. A study by the U.S. Congress's Government Accountability Office found that after Australia enacted interchange price controls for credit cards, there was "no conclusive evidence" that any of the Aussie retailers' $1.1 billion in savings had been passed on to consumers
UNFORTUNATELY, THE RETAILERS' CLOUT on the Hill, as well as their legitimate beefs with overregulation, swayed some normally conservative Republicans into backing merchants' calls to put regulatory shackles on others. A bipartisan measure to delay the Durbin price controls in June would have gotten the 60 votes needed to clear the Senate -- and would have been the first rollback of a provision of Dodd-Frank -- were it not for 12 Republicans backing these price controls. There were some interesting patterns as Georgia GOP Sens. Saxby Chambliss and Johnny Isakson became sudden coverts to price controls after heavy lobbying from Atlanta-based Home Depot, a firm that American Banker described as "on the warpath" against interchange fees . (For the full list of the members of what I call the GOP's "Durbin Dozen" price control caucus who voted to keep the Durbin Amendment, click here.)
These GOP Senators need to catch the courage of their freshman colleague John Boozman (R-Ark.), who voted against the price controls despite lobbying from his state's largest employer, Wal-Mart. They can also be inspired by freshman Rep. Francisco Canseco (R-Texas). At a recent conference on access to credit co-sponsored by the Competitive Enterprise Institute, Canseco related an incident in which he told a retailer lobbying him for interchange price controls that someone who charges $6 for a coffee drink that costs 99 cents has no business moaning about "illicit profits."
It's time to repeal the Durbin Amendment and many other onerous provisions of Dodd-Frank, including those that hurt retailers, such as the authority of the unaccountable Consumer Financial Protection Bureau over stores that extend credit and those that prevent retailers from creating affiliated banks called industrial lending companies (ILC)s. Lifting the ILC ban, as I have written, would allow the free market to bring down credit card processing costs without hurting consumers, and would add more banking system competition that would benefit everyone.
This Dodd-Frank repeal bill, similar to measures introduced by Rep. Michelle Bachmann (R-Minn.) and Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.), should be called the "Free Checking -- And Free Enterprise -- Restoration Act."
John Berlau is director of the Center for Investors and Entrepreneurs at the Competitive Enterprise Institute.
Posted by Brett at 10:56 AM
The Admiral Retires
By George H. Wittman on 9.30.11 @ 6:05AM
Admiral Mike Mullen's exit from the Joint Chiefs of Staff makes clear how clueless he was all along.
It is one thing to attack Pakistan's political will in battling the Taliban and jihadist-driven terrorism (not always the same thing), but quite another to rant specifically against Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI). Admiral Mike Mullen, the retiring Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, should have learned by now the difference between the arcane world of Pakistan's covert affairs and that of the politics of its government.
Mike Mullen chose to use one of his last public appearances as head of the JCS to lambast the ISI for "using the Haqqani network as its veritable arm." He then tied ISI's connections to the Haqqani as choosing "to use violent extremism as an instrument of policy." What's new about that, Admiral? Not only has U.S. and UK intelligence known for years about the in-depth relationship between the Haqqani clan operations against Kabul's government and its U.S./NATO benefactors, but this delicate and dangerous dance has been accepted by all sides as the modus operandi of covert warfare along the Afghan-Pakistan border.
The rules of covert cooperation and conflict are quite different from what occurs in the diplomatic and conventional military world. It appears to have shocked Adm. Mullen that ISI, a working ally of the U.S. and many other Western intelligence services, would support the activities -- or at least protect the activities -- of segments of the Haqqani network that recently planned and performed attacks on targets such as the American embassy in Kabul, as well as NATO and Afghan government facilities.
What about the history since the days of the British Raj in India did he not understand when it came to the clandestine world of South Asia? More specifically, how has he missed the manner in which duplicity has been the accepted mode of collaboration with "imperial powers" venturing into the region? And when pressed, wouldn't any Pakistani intelligence officer conveniently insist that its historic operational lessons were learned from the British?
American and British intelligence has known for years that ISI not only made payments (often with funds gained from the CIA) to the Haqqani, but also shared information with their contacts in the insurgent leadership. Any covert operator worth his salt would also accept the fact that ISI undercover officers accompanied Haqqani clan members on some of their raids. Of course the admiral didn't know that. Ranking staff officers are always protected from the more unseemly aspect of the intelligence operations from which they demand so much.
The reality is that the Haqqani network of related clans does not have to depend on their Pakistani brethren. Afghani fighters' lineage goes back long before the British set foot in their mountains in the 19th century. As the saying goes in the world of special operations, "They die well, when they have to!" The other thing appropriate not only to the Haqqani but to other clans on both sides of the Afghan-Pakistan border (wherever that's deemed to be today) is that they rarely, if ever, forget their mission. And that mission is now, as it always has been, to rid their region of all foreign influences and military presence -- and bring home as much treasure as possible.
The natural thing at this stage of a long-running and costly intervention is to ask why we are there. Without so stating it, that appears to be what Adm. Mullen was doing. During his entire tenure as chairman of the JCS, Mike Mullen has been the good military and political "soldier." He has protected the presidency from disagreements emanating from the military, and protected the military from presidential disagreements over combat and strategic policy. In any case, the chairman always justified why we continued to battle after so many years in the Afghan/Pakistan arena.
Having reached the end of his tenure and about to retire to civilian life, an exhausted and frustrated Mike Mullen had had about enough of the falseness and double-dealing that is the deadly game of military/political affairs in the Afghan/Pakistan theater. Perhaps not the most diplomatic of exits, but apparently personally satisfying. And anyhow who expects even a retiring JCS chairman to suggest it's time either to launch another major offensive or get the hell out of the country?
America’s top staff officer can afford the luxury of retirement while leaving the scene to the still battling covert operations wallahs. That's the way it always has been throughout South Asia. There are no crisp, clean uniforms and shining medals for these warriors. Have a pleasant retirement, Admiral; the war will go on, as always -- duplicitous and deadly. And others, the faceless ones, will fight it.
The Haqqani will be punished, and in a different way so will ISI. No one needed the Admiral to spur them on in that regard. He never learned that in South Asia the best weapon is a smile -- and a garote!
To read another article by George H. Wittman, click here.
To read a related article, click here.
Posted by Brett at 10:47 AM
Photo: Ali Akbar and Doug Hoffman
Tea Party Message to Morgan Freeman: 'My Name Is Ali Akbar'
By Robert Stacy McCain on 9.28.11 @ 11:59AM
Whenever I introduce Ali Akbar to friends, I usually feel compelled to add the explanation that he's a Southern Baptist from Texas, which leaves him to relate the backstory: His African-American mother was a college student in Texas when she met and married an Arab exchange student, who subsequently abandoned his wife and son to return to his native country. Given the events of recent years, it is perhaps somewhat ironic that Ali grew up to become a Republican campaign strategist.
Ali's specialty is New Media, which explains how I met him in October 2009 during Doug Hoffman's historic third-party congressional campaign in New York's 23rd District. It was my second trip to the district, and I arrived in the wee hours of Oct. 30 at a rental house in Lake Placid, N.Y., where I had been granted sofa-crashing privileges. The crew in the house were Eric Odom, Steve Foley and Ali -- who were working on the Tea Party news site 73Wire -- and Yates Walker, who had been brought in by Dan Tripp to run the Hoffman campaign's Plattsburgh office. There was pizza and beer and we talked until nearly dawn, then got up a few hours later for a trip to Plattsburgh, where Hoffman met at a diner with the mayor who endorsed him. As I said, it was "like reporting a hurricane from the eye of the storm." RINO Dede Scozzafava quit the race on Halloween morning, and the next day Ali rode with me for the high-speed 120-mile drive westward along Highway 3 to Watertown, N.Y. By the time we arrived, Dede had endorsed the Democrat, Bill Owens. On Election Day, Ali and I repeated our high-speed drive in the opposite direction to arrive at the Hotel Saranac for what we expected to be a victory celebration. It was a tearful moment when Hoffman conceded a narrow defeat, but as he said, it was "worth the fight."
NY-23 was, as several people said at the time, the "template" for a new kind of campaign operation that combines volunteer grassroots energy with New Media messaging and social networking. Through the subsequent careers of those who joined Hoffman's crusade (see "Battle Cry in the North Country"), you can trace a straight line from that against-the-odds Tea Party campaign to the Scott Brown victory in Massachusetts, Marco Rubio's defeat of Charlie Crist in Florida, the GOP mid-term victory in 2010, and on into this year's special-election victory in NY-9 and the 2012 Republican presidential campaign.
Over the course of the past two years, Ali and I have crossed paths in Boston, Alabama, Nevada, Georgia, Ohio and D.C., and shared a hotel suite during my recent visit to Tampa, Florida, for the Sept. 12 presidential debate. All of which is a preamble necessary to explain that when actor Morgan Freeman accused the Tea Party of racism, my friend Ali was hurt and offended and felt compelled to write an open letter:
Dear Mr. Freeman,
My name is Ali Akbar. I'm a 26 year-old African-American small business owner and a tea party activist. . . .
I idolized you as a boy. Growing up without a father, you were one of the strong black men in my life who gave me a model to follow. Each of the characters you played had dignity and confidence. I tried to emulate the strength you projected. . . .
I've attended dozens of tea party events. I've helped organize them, and I've even spoken at a few. The tea party is not what is often depicted in the news. It is people of all colors who are terribly concerned about the direction that America is heading. We don't trust big government to make decisions for us. And we fear that the present administration's spending is going to lead our country down a path to insolvency, much like what Greece is currently facing. . . .
I'm hoping that you'll come to a tea party in Tennessee - the place of your birth. Really anywhere in the country that works for you; I'll set it up with the one of the thousands of activists I know around our great country. I'd be delighted to introduce you to good people who will welcome you with open arms, disagree with you, and then feed you some of the best barbeque you've ever tasted. . . .
Read the whole thing. And if anyone has any doubts about Ali's Tea Party bona fides, tell them to get in touch with me -- or Doug Hoffman.
To read another article by Robert Stacy McCain, click here.
Posted by Brett at 10:24 AM
Obama Goes Soft
By Andrew Cline on 9.30.11 @ 6:09AM
With every day his fortunes become more shovel ready.
In an interview with WESH-TV in Orlando yesterday, President Obama described the nation he was elected to lead the way one might describe Boston Red Sox pitcher Josh Beckett.
"This is a great, great country that had gotten a little soft, and we didn't have that same competitive edge that we needed over the last couple of decades. We need to get back on track."
Last night, a lot of conservatives seemed to react angrily to that statement, as though calling America soft were to be considered automatically indefensible, no matter the context. My reaction was: "last couple of decades"?
We already know what this president thinks of this country: It's no more exceptional than any other country, but it might turn out to be exceptional someday if only we let him change it as he sees fit. So he also thinks it's flabby in the middle? No surprise.
What’s more troubling is that he apparently thinks the current economic mess was caused by Americans spending the "last couple of decades" eating Cheese Doodles and watching NASCAR. (If only the national economy were roaring like NASCAR.)
The bad economy used to be all Bush's fault. But the voters aren't buying that anymore, so the president's trying a new line: the whole country got a little lazy -- you know, like Americans do -- and now he's got to save it. That's why this recovery is so hard, you see. He doesn't have just four years of Bushonomics to undo, he's got several decades of couch-surfing by the entire American populace to undo.
But don't worry; the country is still awesome, he said.
"I would not trade our position with anybody on Earth. We still have the best universities, the best scientists, best workers in the world; the most dynamic economic system in the world."
Errr, but you just said we'd spent the last couple of decades going soft. If we're still the best economically, then why are things so bad?
"We just have to bring all those things together," he said.
To fix the softness America has accumulated over the last couple of decades, someone just has to bring together all the top-notch American professionals who are off somewhere engaging in self-indulgent solo projects. In short, America just has to get the band back together.
This isn't economics. It isn't even Obamanomics. It's just nonsense.
And it doesn't get any better when the president switches to Obamanomics. Here is what he told the Florida TV station when asked how his new jobs bill would create jobs in the Sunshine State:
"There are a lot of construction workers in Florida who have been laid off. Putting those construction workers back to work on construction projects in Florida would make a huge difference right now. There have been difficulties for state and local governments keeping their teachers in the classroom. So they would get a direct benefit."
The first is simply a blatant falsehood. The jobs bill would not create any construction jobs "right now." From a Tuesday Politico story headlined "'Shovel ready' jobs could take time":
“As a rule of thumb, you’re looking at three years for a project, really going from the time the federal government says we have the money and want to spend it," [Cal-Berkeley civil engineering professor William] Ibbs said. But that's for the easiest, simplest projects, such as building a road through an uninhabited piece of land. "The politicians really don]t understand how cumbersome the process is these days," Ibbs said. "Environmental permitting, especially on road projects can take years. You're hiring attorneys, not really shoveling a lot of dirt."
The reality is the quickest projects to jump-start are simply resurfacing existing roads with asphalt -- not the best way of reining in the national infrastructure crisis -- and the massive infrastructure improvements that promise generations of benefits can easily double and triple that time frame.
And teacher jobs? He's going to fix Florida's unemployment problem by subsidizing teaching and construction jobs?
That's not an economic plan, it's an economic surrender -- to left-wing special-interest politics.
America hasn't gone soft. The President has gone out to lunch.
Posted by Brett at 10:15 AM
Why Does Florida Hate America?
By Robert Stacy McCain on 9.30.11 @ 6:11AM
Sunshine State GOP threatens to wreck the 2012 schedule.
America is threatened by many crises, ranging from economic recession to international terrorism, but none of these threats are quite so immediate or so fundamentally hostile to our democratic form of government as the existential menace of Florida.
Perhaps this is a slight exaggeration, but not by too much, when you consider the multiple ramifications of Florida's announced plan to hold its 2012 presidential primary on Jan. 31. This would completely wreck the primary schedule as other states move up their dates, and would also result in the Republican National Committee stripping Florida of half its delegates to next year's convention, which will be held in Tampa. So Republicans in the host state of the GOP convention would be punished for a decision made by their own elected Republican leaders, who seem indifferent to the consequences.
"We know the risk we're taking, but we're talking about satisfying maybe 100 people versus 19 million people who could have a say in who the nominee is," Florida state Senate president Mike Haridopolos told the Wall Street Journal, as if a Florida primary in March -- where it should be, according to RNC rules -- would be utterly irrelevant to the nomination process. This kind of pretzel-logic is inexplicable to sane people, but we're talking about Florida Republicans, whose former state party chairman, Jim Greer, tried to rig the state's 2010 Senate primary with an early endorsement for former Gov. Charlie Crist. That classic example of Florida GOP shenanigans sparked a grassroots uprising that elected Marco Rubio to the Senate and drove Crist out of the party completely, while Greer is currently awaiting trial on felony corruption charges..
But while Florida GOP leaders evidently either don't know or don't care what's good for their own state party, the repercussions of their madness will be felt far beyond the Sunshine State. A Jan. 31 date for Florida's primary would result in four other events on the presidential campaign calendar -- the Iowa caucuses, the New Hampshire and South Carolina primaries, and the Nevada caucuses -- also leap-frogging to January dates. And while some may shrug at this truncation of the schedule, it undermines the entire rationale of the primary system.
There are logical reasons why the Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primaries, especially, have become sacrosanct as the first events of the quadrennial presidential campaign calendar. Both are states with small populations (Iowa about 3 million, New Hampshire about 1.3 million) where TV and radio advertising are relatively cheap. This permits little-known long-shots with small budgets to campaign on a fairly even playing field with better-known and better-funded candidates. Furthermore, Iowa and New Hampshire are states where retail politics -- the old-fashioned business of shaking hands and meeting voters one-on-one or in small meetings -- are a huge factor in the campaign. Barack Obama famously beat Hillary Clinton in Iowa four years ago because of Obama's greater strength in grassroots organizing, and Jimmy Carter won New Hampshire in 1976 by bringing scores of Georgians (the "Peanut Brigades") to go door-to-door for him in the Granite State. So unless we wish presidential campaigns to become all about money and what pollsters call "name ID," having Iowa and New Hampshire go first looks like a good idea.
Yet we ought not confine ourselves to merely logical reasons for keeping Iowa and New Hampshire first. Aren't Republicans conservatives, and don't conservatives believe in the value of tradition? There is something wonderfully traditional -- indeed, downright reactionary -- about having presidential candidates go through the quaint custom of waiting for returns from tiny precinct caucuses in Iowa and shaking hands with voters in the snowy streets of small-town New Hampshire in February. Nor are these traditions merely sentimental. The pragmatic and utilitarian value of tradition is evident in that voters of Iowa and New Hampshire, long accustomed to their role in vetting presidential candidates of both parties, have become quite shrewd judges in these matters. A joke told by Tim Albrecht, spokesman for Iowa Gov. Terry Brandstad, is quite relevant here: An Iowa Republican is asked whether he supports a certain presidential candidate and answers, "I don't know. I've only met him twice." Early-state voters are not over-awed by "rock star" candidates and media hype, because they've seen it all so many times before. Such is the real value of tradition.
Floridians might argue that there is no reason Iowa and New Hampshire can't still go first, just because the Sunshine State moves it's primary up to Jan. 31, True enough, but the likely impact of that move would be to trample on other events in our American tradition, including Christmas and football. Until 1984, before the recent craze for "front-loading" the primary calendar, the New Hampshire primary was held the first Tuesday in March. (Iowa's caucuses were more variable, with dates ranging from Jan. 19 in 1976 to Feb. 20 in 1984.) That schedule permitted at least a couple of weeks, and sometimes more than a month, for survivors of the Iowa ordeal to campaign in New Hampshire. For more than two decades, however, New Hampshire has been forced to fend off threats to its legislatively mandated first-in-the-nation primary by scheduling earlier and earlier, in turn forcing Iowa to do the same. Four years ago (largely because of Florida's insistence on an early date), Iowa held its caucuses on Thursday, Jan. 3, and New Hampshire's primary was Tuesday, Jan. 8.
With such a speeded-up schedule, not only are candidates effectively forced to choose between the two first states in making their final campaign thrusts -- a candidate who emphasizes Iowa can scarcely avoid the appearance of snubbing New Hampshire, and vice-versa -- but the business of campaigning intrudes on the Christmas holidays. And now that college football has instituted the Bowl Championship Series, the national champ isn't crowned on New Year's Day but rather (this year) in New Orleans on Jan. 9. Do Floridians really want to force people to choose politics over football and Christmas? Before the talk of a Jan. 31 Florida primary, Iowa had scheduled its caucuses for the reasonable date of Feb. 6 (the Monday after the Super Bowl) so that Americans could get a late-December holiday break from politics, and no football fan could complain.
Many people have tried to talk sense to Haridopolos and the other Florida Republicans who seem determined to inflict January insanity on the nation. Paul Senft, the state's Republican National Committeeman, warned that moving up the primary "will alienate the remainder of the country." RNC Chairman Reince Priebus is said to be attempting to negotiate some way to avert this disaster, and yet the Floridians seem to think themselves entitled to dictate terms to the rest of the GOP. In an interview with the Hill, Florida Republican strategist Justin Sayfie said that if Priebus stripped the state party of half its delegates to the Tampa convention as punishment for breaking the rules, it would be a "slap in the face to the Republican leadership in the state of Florida."
No "leadership" would ever have deserved a slap in the face more than if the madmen leading the Florida GOP wreck the 2012 schedule -- and as collateral damage, ruin Christmas -- for the rest of America.
To read another article by Robert Stacy McCain, click here.
Posted by Brett at 9:57 AM
Californian To Texan Translations
CALIFORNIA: Arsenal of Weapons
TEXAS: Gun Collection
CALIFORNIA: Delicate Wetlands
CALIFORNIA: Undocumented Worker
TEXAS: Illegal Alien
CALIFORNIA: Cruelty-Free Materials
TEXAS: Synthetic Fiber
CALIFORNIA: Assault and Battery
TEXAS: Attitude Adjustment
CALIFORNIA: Heavily Armed
CALIFORNIA: Taxes or Your Fair Share
TEXAS: Coerced Theft
CALIFORNIA: Commonsense Gun Control
TEXAS: Gun Confiscation Plot
CALIFORNIA: Illegal Hazardous Explosives
TEXAS: Fireworks for Stump Removal
CALIFORNIA: Nonviable Tissue Mass
TEXAS: Unborn Baby
CALIFORNIA: Equal Access to Opportunity
CALIFORNIA: Multicultural Community
TEXAS: High Crime Area
CALIFORNIA: Fairness or Social Progress
CALIFORNIA: Upper Class or "The Rich"
CALIFORNIA: Progressive, Change
TEXAS: Big Government Scheme
CALIFORNIA: Homeless or Disadvantaged
TEXAS: Bums or Welfare Leeches
CALIFORNIA: Sniper Rifle
TEXAS: Scoped Deer Rifle
CALIFORNIA: Investment For the Future
TEXAS: Higher Taxes
CALIFORNIA: Healthcare Reform
TEXAS: Socialized Medicine
CALIFORNIA: Extremist, Judgmental, or Hater
TEXAS: home schoolers
CALIFORNIA: Victim or Oppressed
TEXAS: Criminal or Lazy Good-For-Nothing
CALIFORNIA: High Capacity Magazine
TEXAS: Standard Capacity Magazine
CALIFORNIA: Religious Zealot
CALIFORNIA: Reintroduced Wolves
TEXAS: Sheep and Elk Killers
CALIFORNIA: Fair Trade Coffee
TEXAS: Overpriced Yuppie Coffee
CALIFORNIA: Exploiters or "The Rich"
TEXAS: Employer or Land Owner
CALIFORNIA: The Gun Lobby
TEXAS: NRA Members
CALIFORNIA: Assault Weapon
TEXAS: Semi-Auto (Grandpa's M1 Carbine)
CALIFORNIA: Fiscal Stimulus
TEXAS: New Taxes and Higher Taxes
CALIFORNIA: Same Sex Marriage
TEXAS: Legalized Perversion
CALIFORNIA: Mandated Eco-Friendly Lighting
TEXAS: Chinese Mercury-Laden Light Bulbs
Posted by Brett at 9:44 AM
Allah Be Appraised
by Burt Prelutsky
Thursday, September 29, 2011
First watch this video interview about the Mid-East with Rep. Allen West (R-Fla.), just click here.
Although I have never claimed to be as politically correct as, say, the N.Y. Times, I like to think of myself as a reasonably open-minded fellow where people who are different from me are concerned. And, inasmuch as most people are very different from me--and glad of it--I get a lot of practice. Furthermore, I have always contended that bigots are just plain lazy, and that if you just take the trouble to know people as individuals, almost invariably you will discover better reasons to despise them other than their race, religion or bizarre sexual proclivities.
So, please believe me when I swear I'm only moderately skeptical when American Muslims claim to be loyal to this country and totally opposed to bringing sharia law to our shores. What I refuse to accept for a single second is their contention that Osama bin Laden was an aberration, an unholy defiler of the tenets of their peace-loving religion. As people used to say, tell it to the Marines.
No, I have not read the Qur'an. And while I have heard highly inflammatory excerpts from those who have read the holy book, I'm aware that Satan can quote or even misquote scripture to his own purpose. Another ancient adage, however, states that the proof is in the pudding. In the case of Islam, I would suggest that the pudding is to be found in every nation where Muslims hold the reins. Or, perhaps, one should say, the whip.
Can it be mere coincidence that, although liberty has flourished in nations that are predominantly Protestant, Catholic, Hindu, Jewish, Shinto, Buddhist, Lutheran and Anglican, it’s never taken root where Muhammad's word is law? Can it be mere happenstance that wherever you look in the Muslim world, from Sudan to Syria, from Iran to Yemen, from Lebanon to Saudi Arabia, wherever Islam holds sway, you will find one totalitarian state after another? Only time will tell if Iraq or Libya will be the exception, but, frankly, I’m not betting on it.
True, you will find a variety of national leaders, including oil-rich sheiks, fanatical ayatollahs and run-of-the-mill tyrants, but one and all could dine comfortably with a Russian czar or a Chicago gangster.
For an allegedly peaceful religion, isn't it remarkable that wherever Islam gains a stranglehold, you will find the nightmare of slavery, genocide, honor killings and female stoning and mutilation, the norm?
I have heard folks say that the historical reason for all this is that, of all the founders of the major religions, only Muhammad was a warrior. Although a merchant by trade, he led his followers in the bloody conquest of Mecca. So perhaps the die was cast thirteen centuries ago. Hell, for all I know, maybe it goes back to climate. I know I'm a perfect grouch when the temperature goes through the roof and the air conditioning conks out.
Maybe it has something to do with too much sand in one's diet. Or perhaps living in close proximity to camels, a notoriously nasty beast, is the reason behind the cult of death that celebrates suicide bombings throughout the Middle East?
To tell you the truth, when I first heard tell of the awards that allegedly awaited Islamic martyrs, even I began to see the attraction. I mean, on the face of it, moving from Jenin or Tehran, say, to Paradise sounds like an awfully good deal. Toss in six dozen beautiful virgins, and what healthy, red-blooded nincompoop wouldn't gladly blow himself to Kingdom Come?
The problem, of course, is that, like most youngsters, they never bother thinking things through. For instance, in the natural course of events, what the impetuous young idiot will inevitably have on his hands are six dozen ex-virgins.
And if he thinks he has it bad now, just wait until he winds up spending eternity with 72 women who while away each and every day complaining that he's always leaving his burnoose on the floor, doesn't help out with the kids, and never takes them dancing.
To read another article by Burt Prelutsky, click here.
Posted by Brett at 12:05 AM
Thursday, September 29, 2011
By Cal Thomas
You know President Obama thinks he is in trouble with his liberal base when he lapses into what used to be called "jive talk" before an audience of Congressional Black Caucus members. Dropping his "g's", the president admonished the group to "stop complainin'."
"Who's he talking about?" Rep. Maxine Waters, California Democrat, asked puzzled, keeping the "g."
Some African-Americans have reason to complain. For decades they have given Democrats their votes, while receiving little in return, except government checks and a welfare system that has become as addictive as cocaine. In fact, the programs themselves are a kind of drug, which has doomed generations of poor blacks to a shoddy education, single motherhood, absent fathers, crime and incarceration.
This summer, the unemployment rate among blacks increased to 16.7 percent, the highest level in 27 years, almost twice the national rate. In 1984, black leaders blamed joblessness on Ronald Reagan. They are reluctant to blame America's first black president (if you don't count Bill Clinton), and instead have launched a jobs tour to focus on the problem.
Obama's approval rating among blacks has declined 25 percent in the last five months, from 83 percent to 58 percent, according to a Washington Post-ABC News Poll.
This isn't the first time Obama has lectured his base. Exactly one year ago, the president said, "Buck up. Stop whining. And get to work." He didn't tell them where or how to find work if they were unemployed.
Liberal Washington Post columnist Courtland Milloy, an African-American, wrote, "It's hard to see how the plight of black people could get any worse, even under a President (Herman) Cain." The tone of Milloy's column suggests Obama only pays attention to black people when he wants their votes.
Before the Congressional Black Caucus, President Obama said, "I expect all of you to march with me and press on. Take off your bedroom slippers. Put on your marching shoes."
Instead of blindly marching to the polls to again vote for Obama and other Democrats, African-Americans should march out of the schools that are failing their children. They should demand from politicians who can afford to send their children to expensive private schools -- like the Obamas -- the same choice those "evil" rich people enjoy.
A bright future begins with a good education. Too many African-Americans are being deprived of an education by their Democratic bosses who doom them to a future of welfare dependency and despair because they will not let them flee failing schools.
I would be willing to wager several mortgage payments on an experiment. Take one dozen poor minority children and allow them to attend private schools where they are loved, encouraged and motivated to do well. Take another dozen and let them remain in failing schools where drugs and guns proliferate and they live in despair without being able to spell the word.
Oh wait. That is already being done in an increasing number of charter schools around the country and through groups like the Children's Scholarship Fund in New York City, which underwrites the cost of a low-income child's private, often parochial, education. The academic and social results in these schools are astounding.
If children learn to value themselves, they are more likely to be motivated to do well in school and as adults and less likely to have babies while still in their own childhood.
The keys to a successful life are known: stay in school and receive a good education; get married before you have children and then stay married; develop character qualities such as virtue and honesty; have a purpose for living beyond yourself; refrain from taking drugs; avoid the company of criminals and other bad influences.
Disillusionment with this president has set in with many of the young people who viewed him as a messianic figure four years ago. According to an AP-GfK poll, 27 percent of young Democrats under age 45 say the president is not a strong leader.
They are already marching, but it's away from the president.
To read another article by Cal Thomas, click here.
Posted by Brett at 7:07 PM
Obama Enlists IRS for New Union Shakedown of US Business
By John Ransom
The National Legal and Policy Center (NLPC) has submitted Freedom of Information requests to the Department of Labor and the Internal Revenue Service following an announcement that the administration is investigating homebuilders in an attempt to bolster union membership at the expense of housing sector jobs.
“In a letter [from the Labor Department] cited by The [Wall Street] Journal,” wrote Crain’s Detroit earlier this month “homebuilders were asked to immediately turn over the names, addresses, Social Security numbers, pay rates and hours worked for all employees over the past two years. The letter from the Labor Department asked for the names of all contractors hired in the past year. The letter didn't allege any specific violations of law.”
No. It’s just the usual harassment that the Obama administration gives industry when they have a disagreement with a key Obama constituency such as unions that are all mobbed up. Re-write the rules, send investigators in, bury them in document discovery and government lawyers until they cave.
In the meantime, since January 2008 new housing starts have remained at their lowest sustained level from any similar time period since 1959, the last year records are available.
“Construction of homes and apartments last month decreased 5.0% from a month earlier to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 571,000, the Commerce Department said Tuesday,” reports the Wall Street Journal. “The month's results were pulled down by a nearly 30% drop in the Northeastern states.”
The construction industry has shed 2.3 million jobs since its peak in 2006 and added only 46,000 jobs since then according to the Tacoma News Tribune.
This is what a trillion dollars of shovel-ready stimulus has bought the American people. By the mob, for the mob, of the mob.
And they wonder where the jobs have gone?
“The pay rates for construction workers and the subcontractors used by general contractors hired by PulteGroup,” says Crains “is part of a long-term conflict between the homebuilder and unions, in particular the Laborers International Union of North America.”
Oh, so now I get it:
The White House, with the cooperation of several state governments and the Department of Labor, will attempt to get the Internal Revenue Service to go after homebuilders. The IRS will use supposed violations of independent contractor rules that allow homebuilders to hire independent contractors at a straight hourly wage, without subjecting them to payroll taxes and union membership.
If this works out this will be bleepin’ golden scam for unions, as they say in Chicago.
That’s because the IRS rules governing independent contractors are unclear. Some would say that they are purposefully unclear. The IRS is pretty adept at making life difficult for companies targeted under the independent contractor rule. Let’s just say that they pull the rule out when they want to put pressure on someone.
“The Center wishes to review documents showing the role played by the federal government, some states and possibly other outside entities,” wrote NLPC in their Freedom of Information request to the Department of Labor, “to impose additional administrative costs on an industry in which few publicly traded companies are profitable, most have seen major cutbacks in work and many have had major layoffs.”
The outside entities referred to by the NLPC would be the Laborers International Union of North America (LIUNA). LIUNA locals still act as fronts for mob activity. In March, the New York Daily News reported that the Brooklyn District Attorney was “plotting strategies to break the Gambino crime family's 50-year stranglehold on the Pavers and Road Builders District Council,” a LIUNA affiliate.
The Obama administration knows a lot about Chicago “pavers,” too.
Last week we wrote about Ray LaHood, the Republican secretary of transportation under Obama. You know the guy responsible for doling out much of the $787 billion stimulus package? LaHood’s patron is William Cellini, the former executive director of the Illinois Asphalt Pavement Association. Cellini is under indictment in Chicago for trying to extort $1.4 million from a Hollywood-type who wanted to manage teachers’ pension business in Illinois.
What does the Pavement Association have to do with teachers’ pensions? The same thing the IRS has to do with a dispute between unions and homebuilders. Let’s just call them “interested” parties or “known associates.”
So now we have the Obama administration hooking up the Department of Labor with the IRS to join together union muscle to shakedown homebuilders, mafia style.
Oh, you thought Obama meant job program?
No, no, no: That’s mob program.
To read another article by John Ransom, click here.
Posted by Brett at 6:57 PM
Conservatives Arrive At A Critical Fork In The Road
By Douglas MacKinnon
Leaving aside the televised, overly scripted, predictable and marginally useful "debates" now taking place between the Republican candidates for president, there are much more important discussions going on between conservatives and independents who are unified in their belief that for the good of the nation, Barack Obama must be defeated.
Those discussions — taking place across kitchen tables, in lunchrooms, or in neighborhood bars after a week of hard work — are trying to determine which path to follow in the approaching political fork in the road.
One of those paths will most likely lead to the defeat of Mr. Obama. The other could very well ensure his re-election.
It is critical for Republicans, conservatives, and independents to remember that from the 2008 GOP field, John McCain had the stamp of approval from the mainstream media.
In fact, the liberal media worked overtime to resurrect his then all but comatose campaign. Why?
That same liberal media told us that independents and a good number of Democrats just loved McCain.
Maybe some did, but exponentially more conservatives and Americans who cherish our vanishing traditional values could not stand him. So much so, they simply declined to vote.
That fact is one of the most purposefully underreported or flat-out ignored reasons why Mr. Obama won the White House in 2008.
Well over 2 million fewer people voted for the GOP ticket in 2008 compared to 2004. Did some of those votes go to Mr. Obama? For sure. Did many just stay home? Absolutely.
Again, a critically important fact when you stop to realize that Mr. Obama won North Carolina by only 14,000 votes. That he won Indiana by only 28,000 votes. Or that he won Florida by only 236,000 out of well over 8 million cast.
In creating the myth of the "Obama miracle" of 2008, the mainstream media went out of their way not to mention that hundreds of thousands of conservative and Republican voters were plain disgusted with McCain because he was anything but a conservative and could not bring themselves to vote for him.
To be sure, thanks in large part to the unprofessional and unethical cheerleading by most in the media, Mr. Obama did grow the Democrat vote total substantially from 2004.
But how many principled conservatives stayed home and why? That has to be part of an honest analysis of the Obama victory.
Flashback to 2011 and Republicans are being asked to choose between the liberal-media- approved Mitt Romney — who they insist will appeal to those independent and moderate Democrats in November of 2012 — or the more conservative, less-polished Rick Perry of Texas.
Anyone who has met Mitt Romney knows he is an incredibly decent person who loves his country.
That has never been in question. What is in question — is Romney the McCain of 2012? Shouldn't Republican primary voters really drill down deeper to understand why so many in the liberal media believe Mr. Romney — as they said about McCain in 2008 — will appeal to independents and Democrats?
While Governor Perry may not quite be ready for prime time — lack of real debate time and over-cramming surely contributing — there is no doubt that he is the more conservative between himself and Mr. Romney.
In the future, he might do well to ignore hypothetical questions, ignore Mr. Romney, and simply speak to his vision for the nation.
No matter. For the moment, as the front-runners, Perry and Romney do represent that political fork in the road for GOP primary voters.
As such, if come election day, principled conservatives don't believe the GOP nominee speaks to their hopes and fears, there is no doubt a percentage will choose not to vote.
As we witnessed in 2008, nominees, numbers, and results matter.
To read another article by Douglas MacKinnon, click here.
Posted by Brett at 6:48 PM