Saturday, April 30, 2011
Pro-Life Movement Emerging in Force on College Campuses
by Kristan Hawkins
Posted 04/30/2011 ET
As Washington and Americans turn their attention to the coming fiscal crisis, the pro-life movement, still energized by its recent fight to federally de-fund Planned Parenthood, is in full force, engaging the abortion industry on multiple fronts that span from the Beltway to your local hospital.
One major front that is often overlooked in the abortion debate is on college campuses. According to the Guttmacher Institute, Planned Parenthood’s research organization, 52% of all abortions are performed on women ages 25 and younger.
And it’s everywhere on campus—from the abortion industry’s ads in the newspaper to the university health centers' referrals to the freshman orientation, when the administration promotes Planned Parenthood as a trusted health organization.
Abortion is seen by many as an easy "fix” for a young woman or couple facing an unplanned pregnancy, “helping” her to complete her education and not to disappoint her parents. But while some women actively choose it, others report that they felt they never had another choice.
An active pro-life presence is desperately needed on these campuses. In 2006, Students for Life of America (SFLA), led by current and former student pro-life leaders, stepped up to the plate with the goal of expanding both the number of student pro-life groups on campuses as well as the number of trained youth pro-life leaders.
The pro-life groups we mentor and start up help give a voice to this rising pro-life generation, educate peers about the reality of abortion, and provide real hope and support to women facing unplanned pregnancies.
Often these students face opposition from pro-choice groups such as Vox, Planned Parenthood’s college chapters, and the Feminist Majority, but most of the time the opposition comes from student government associations or the university’s own administration. This spring, Students for Life of America has helped pro-life students who have faced suppression of free speech from their school’s written and unwritten policies, 10-month-long waits for club approval, and rejection to be an official club because the pro-life issue isn’t “unique enough” or “new.”
While pro-life students can be treated as second-class citizens on campus, the good news is that there are more of them than their opposition or administrations want to believe. Polls are showing that this millennial generation is the most pro-life generation yet. In 2010, a Gallup Poll revealed that 47% of America’s youth identify themselves as pro-life. This is a huge shift from just 10 years ago, and as SFLA continues to expand our student outreach, these numbers will only continue to rise.
What really sets these young people apart from pro-lifers on campus before them is two things: technology and experience.
Today’s technology is incredible. We now have the ability to view the preborn child as never before through highly advanced video cameras and 3-D and 4-D ultrasounds. These videos and pictures make their way onto the Internet and social media by proud parents posting the videos of their preborn children on Facebook and YouTube or companies advertising their products. These mainstream images give this millennial generation the images to back up their scientific truth on campus. Because they are mainstream, their opposition can’t deny their validity as they often try to do with images of aborted children. Instead, these images force opposing students and professors to debate the real issue: the personhood of the preborn.
Because this generation has never known an America without legalized abortion on-demand, they have experienced the real effects of abortion. They know women and men who have been directly affected by abortion in their families, circle of friends, and dorms. They are the survivors of abortion and have been forced to live their lives with the question of “What if?” “What if my Mom had decided to abort me?” “What if I’m missing a sibling or a best friend?” Because this generation has seen the devastating effects abortion has had on their friends and members of their own family, they know the truth and are not about to sit back as their peers are targeted and used by the abortion industry.
Using the benefits from technology and experience, students across America are standing for life on their campuses every day by doing simple activities that raise awareness on campus and spread the pro-life message to their peers. By setting up image displays on campus, hosting events and speakers, and volunteering at or promoting their local Pregnancy Help Centers, students are able to stop abortions where they start and recruit new members to the cause.
Many of the displays that students put up begin discussions and controversy on campuses. One display that has caused trouble on almost every campus is the Cemetery of the Innocents. It uses crosses, flags, or roses to represent the number of preborn children that are killed each day because of abortion. SFLA has been called by pro-life campus leaders with stories of vandalism and destruction of these displays by pro-abortion students and professors. Just last week, a Cemetery of the Innocents display was vandalized at Clarion University in Pennsylvania, when crosses where turned upside down and the pro-life sign covered in fake blood. This follows other known vandalism cases at the University of Wisconsin-LaCrosse, Missouri State University, Louisiana State University, and Northern Kentucky University.
Students also bring pro-life speakers and debates to campus to talk on different aspects of the abortion issue, including Dr. Alveda King to speak on black genocide, Rebecca Kiessling, who was conceived in rape, Ryan Bomberger and Amanda Lord to speak about adoption, members of Silent No More and Operation Outcry to speak about their abortion experiences, and the list goes on. Just two weeks ago, the College of William & Mary in Virginia hosted a debate between Scott Klusendorf, a pro-life apologist, and Nadine Strossen, former President of the ACLU and law professor at New York Law School. This debate was jam-packed with pro-life and pro-choice students who came to hear both sides of the discussion. It is events like these that reach out and break through the prevailing apathy about “the abortion issue” on campus.
College and university campuses are the heart of the abortion battle. It is during these years that students are often faced with this critical life-and-death decision, and forced to form their adult opinions on a number of issues. It is precisely because of this that SFLA is dedicated to working with pro-life students across the country, whether by providing them with the training and resources they need, giving them new ideas for how to break through the debate, or helping them deal with campus opposition.
The millennial generation that SFLA works with on a daily basis provides important leaders of the pro-life movement, and because of their hard work and leadership, we will abolish abortion in our lifetime.
the personhood of the preborn
That's the single most disgusting thing the pro-"choice" crowd does.
Knowing that preborn children are human beings they shift the debate (like they try to do with everything else) and claim that humanity doesn't count for anything; only "personhood."
What a cynical, disgusting point of view.
First, one group of human beings giving itself the right to bestow "personhood" on another means, by definition, that "personhood" can also be taken away.
"Non-personhood" From Wikipedia:
people are stripped of their "person status" ... thus indirectly rationalizing any excess or abuse committed against them.
Non-person status is a tool used by tyrannies (especially Left-wing) to make us not feel bad about what we do to our fellow human beings. The Left is doing its part to dehumanize us.
Lastly, why do you think they are called "HUMAN" rights, not "person's rights?" How about "humane?" Or "humanitarian?"
There is NO biological difference between human beings and "persons." There is NO moment when a human being becomes a "person."
The Leftist crowd that likes to bray about its love of science, always ignores it for the sake of politics when convenient.
Posted by Brett at 3:39 PM
'Undercover Boss' Prayer on CBS Sparks Faith Firestormby Jason Mattera Posted 04/12/2011 ET
Updated 04/12/2011 ET
Christian conservatives often decry the silencing of faith by major network television.
But Sunday night on CBS’ hit reality TV series “Undercover Boss,” people of faith had their breath taken away by what they witnessed, sparking a Facebook and Twitter avalanche of support and praise.
On Facebook, Kini Se remarked, “Loved the episode of 'Undercover Boss' last night. It is the BEST one yet. It is great to see you praising the Lord on National television. The entire time, I had tears running down my face. It was real, it was true and inspirational. God bless you and your family.”
Chris Connor on Twitter wrote, “Loving that #undercoverboss has a positive Christian perspective features tonight—about time we have a good depiction in the media.”
The show featured Baja Fresh CEO David Kim, a Korean immigrant who has gained a reputation as an “empire builder” within the food and restaurant franchise world, praying with his children, praying alone in a church, even praying with one of his employees—a scene surely to cause ire among anti-faith in the workplace progressives. But the serial entrepreneur, who is also the CEO of La Salsa and Sweet Factory, is not bashful about his faith or passion for America.
“America is about freedom!” Kim told HUMAN EVENTS. “As Christians, we shouldn’t be afraid to share the hope within us. It’s what our country’s Founding Fathers believed in. So why hide the love inside our hearts?”
Why hide it indeed. Except that by the American Left, such outward devotion to God is treated with scorn and derision. The PC police eavesdrop on the American conversation to ensure that any references to Christianity are purged from the public vernacular.
But Kim wasn’t picking a fight or making a cultural statement. He was just being, well, he was just being himself.
“Why can’t we just pray? Why is this even a big deal? It was spontaneous. It was nothing.”
Here’s how it went down.
While incognito at the Cypress, Calif., branch of Baja Fresh, Kim got choked up when talking to a 20-year-old employee, Anthony, who emigrated from the Philippines to the United States and who, at his very young age, must financially support his five siblings and his mother, having been abandoned by the father.
Upon learning that Anthony was a Christian, Kim asked whether they could “pray for each other.” The prayer took place, and more importantly, remained unscathed on the editing chopping block.
The “Dear Heavenly Father Lord” aired for millions and millions to see.
Go ahead, pinch yourself. We’re talking about CBS here.
“I have watched several of the 'Undercover Boss' episodes and had to send you a message, which I hope you see,” said Sandra Camacho on Kim’s Facebook page. “My comment, as well as the other comments I see, [is that I was] touched by watching you. The fact is that my husband and I were in tears giving praise to God for your humility, humbleness, and especially your boldness to pray on National TV and give the one who deserves all the glory the honor and praise to.”
Kim, who played the role of a clerk named Ken, told HUMAN EVENTS that he’s unapologetic about his Christian walk and that he will never let his voice be silenced. “A minority of individuals suppress the voices of the majority of Americans. That’s not right.”
Sources close to AOL News disclosed that their report on Sunday’s show has received “unprecedented” traffic and that they’ve “never seen anything like it before.”
The Baja Fresh CEO is also the author of The 12 Values that Fuel Billionaire Success and has a truly rags-to-riches story.
His family came to the United States from South Korea penniless, and in order to make ends meet, his parents were relegated to selling whatever they could find to people passing by.
“I couldn’t erase those memories,” Kim told HUMAN EVENTS, and it inspired him to become an entrepreneur. Today, as the “Undercover Boss” profile piece noted, Kim’s Baja Fresh branches stretch a solid 400 strong across 29 states and the franchise is worth more than $300 million.
Thank you, capitalism. Actually, he does thank it, having given speeches titled “Capitalism Fuels Freedom” to student activists with Young America’s Foundation.
Kim hits the speaking circuit because he believes that natural-born Americans take the cornerstones of freedom, property rights, and individual liberty for granted.
“When you’re caught with a Bible in North Korea, they kill you.”
“Americans who haven’t seen other systems, don’t understand. Other countries are not the same. They’re just not,” he added emphatically.
And the social media universe took notice, as thousands of Facebook and Twitter messages poured in.
Nan Kc J on Facebook had this to say: “You, David Kim, are a true immigrant success story, and I hope everyone saw it last night: Family man [and] faith within yourself was a gift to watch. Thank you so much!”
Posted by Brett at 3:32 PM
Carbon and Carbon Dioxide: Clearing Up the Confusion
By Paul Driessen
We are constantly bombarded with information – much of it inaccurate, misleading, even deliberately so.
We are frequently told we must reduce carbon emissions, support “carbon disclosure” and invest in “carbon trusts” – to prevent catastrophic global warming, global climate change or global climate “disruption.” News stories, advocacy and lobbying activities, and corporate “ethics” promotions frequently use “carbon” and “carbon dioxide” almost interchangeably; some occasionally talk about “dangerous carbon monoxide emissions.”
Torn by misplaced hydrocarbon guilt, wanting to do right ecologically, and often scientifically challenged, people are naturally confused. Because so much is at stake – for our energy supplies and prices, jobs, economies, living standards, budget deficits and environment – clearing up that confusion is a high priority.
“Carbon” (chemical symbol C) is what we burn to get energy to power modern society. Carbon is the molecular building block for wood, charcoal and coal, and hydrocarbons (HC) like oil and natural gas. Cars and power plants do not emit carbon, except in the form of soot. Thus, talk of “carbon disclosure” or “reducing our carbon emissions” is misleading, unless one is confessing how much charcoal was used at a picnic, or apologizing for not having pollution controls on a wood-burning stove.
“Carbon monoxide” (CO) is an odorless, deadly gas. A natural product of combustion, it increases when ventilation is poor, oxygen levels are low and burning is inefficient. It’s why we shouldn’t use charcoal grills indoors or operate cars in garages, unless we’re suicidal.
“Carbon dioxide” (CO2) is another natural byproduct of combustion, from power plants, factories, vehicles, homes, hospitals and other users of wood, coal, petroleum and biofuels. This is what many environmental activists, politicians and scientists blame for recent and future climate change.
(The other major byproduct is water vapor or steam – plus pollutants that reflect impurities in the fuel and are removed via scrubbers and other technologies, or reduced by controlling the temperature, airflow and efficiency of combustion processes: sulfur and nitrogen oxides, particulates, mercury and so on.)
Literally thousands of scientists vigorously disagree with the hypothesis that CO2 is responsible for (dangerous) climate change. It plays only a minor role, they argue, in a complex, chaotic climate system that is driven by numerous natural forces, cycles, and positive and negative feedback loops. They also note that CO2 increases have followed, not preceded, temperature rises, throughout Earth’s history.
CO2 constitutes a mere 0.0380% of our atmosphere. That’s 380 parts per million (380 ppm), which sounds much more threatening, especially when used in juxtaposition with the pre-Industrial Revolution figure of 280 ppm. But even that 100 ppm increase represents only 0.0100% of Earth’s atmosphere – equivalent to one penny out of $100.
380 is far below historical CO2 levels. During the Jurassic and Early Carboniferous periods, geologists calculate, our atmosphere contained 1,500-2,500 ppm carbon dioxide. However, even at today’s comparatively CO2-impoverished levels, this trace gas is vital to the health of our planet.
As every grade schooler learns, CO2 enables photosynthesis and plant growth: carbon dioxide in, oxygen out, through complex chemical reactions. Without CO2, there would be no plants and no oxygen; life as we know it would cease. Carbon dioxide is truly the “gas of life” – and no attempt by Al Gore, James Hansen or EPA to brand it as a dangerous pollutant can change that.
The 100 ppm rise in CO2 levels came courtesy of two things. As oceans warmed after the Little Ice Age ended 160 years ago, they released some of their carbon dioxide storehouses. (As with beer and soda water, seawater is able to retain less CO2 as it warms.) The rest came from hydrocarbon fuels burned during the Industrial Revolution and modern era, and from billions more impoverished people still burning wood and animal dung in open fires.
Though vilified by radical greens and climate alarmists, hydrocarbon energy and the Industrial Revolution have hugely benefitted mankind. They doubled average life expectances in industrialized nations and increased prosperity, overall health and living standards, in proportion to the ability of poor communities to acquire electricity and modern technologies. Thus, telling poor countries to limit hydrocarbon use, and focus instead on wind and solar power, sharply limits their ability to modernize, create jobs, and improve health, living conditions and life spans.
And all that extra CO2 from electrical generation and other economic activities? As Drs. Craig and Sherwood Idso explain on their CO2science.org website and in their fascinating book, The Many Benefits of Atmospheric CO2 Enrichment, the extra carbon dioxide has blessed people and planet in at least 55 ways.
For example, increased atmospheric carbon dioxide increases the photosynthesis rates for plants. It enables plants to extract more moisture from the air and soil, thereby expanding root systems that stabilize soil, reduce erosion and help plants survive better during droughts.
Higher CO2 levels also reduce the need for plants to keep their stomata (pores in leaves) open to absorb carbon dioxide – and in the process release moisture from the plant – further increasing drought resistance. Because stomata don’t need to be open as much, plants also reduce their absorption of harmful pollutants that can damage their tissue. As with the air in greenhouses, rising atmospheric CO2 concentrations improves nitrogen fixation by soil bacteria, increasing the availability of this important chemical.
CO2-enriched air also increases plants’ ability to manufacture Vitamin C, antioxidants, and health-promoting substances in medicinal plants – while likewise improving plants’ immune systems and ability to withstand a wide variety of common plant diseases.
Many climatologists and astrophysicists believe recent sun spot, Pacific Ocean and global temperature trends suggest that our planet may have entered a cool phase that could last for 25 years. If that is the case, the additional carbon dioxide being emitted by China, India and other developing countries could bring a major additional benefit: helping to protect wildlife habitats, enhance oceanic biota and preserve crop yields under sub-optimal climatic conditions. Attempts to coerce expanded wind and solar installations will require that we devote still more land, raw materials and taxpayer subsidies to these expensive, unreliable energy supplies. And trying to capture and store carbon dioxide from power plants and factories will require trillions of dollars and vast supplies of energy, to take this plant-fertilizing gas out of the atmosphere and inject it under high pressure deep into the earth – and keep it from escaping, to kill animals and people.
To get 1000 megawatts of net electricity from a power plant designed for CO2-capture-and-storage would require building (at minimum) a 1300-MW plant, burning at least one-third more fuel than a conventional plant does, using over one-third of the 1300 MW to power the CCS equipment – and paying much higher electricity prices. The impact on factories, shops, jobs, household budgets and fuel supplies would be significant.
Legislators and regulators need to focus on controlling unhealthy amounts of real pollutants (based on valid medical and environmental science) – and keep their pesky hands off our CO2!
Nuclear Fears and Facts
By Paul Driessen
The ground hadn’t stopped shaking. Tsunami waters had not receded. And yet coverage of this awful natural disaster – a scene of almost unfathomable devastation and death – was already giving way to single-minded focus on radiation exposure and meltdowns.
Addressing justifiable concerns is essential, to allay fears and refocus attention on finding the missing, burying the dead, helping 450,000 displaced people, and rebuilding ravaged communities.
Like a third of nuclear plants in American service today, providing 20% of all US electricity, the 40-year-old Fukushima Daiichi plant is a “boiling water reactor.” Uranium in fuel rods generates heat to turn water into steam that drives turbines, which power generators.
Though not designed or built according to current standards, the Japanese plant had many upgrades and enhancements over the years. For the most part, they worked.
Originally designed to withstand a Richter scale magnitude 8 quake, Fukushima was struck by a magnitude 9 earthquake. The tremor carried ten times the power and released 32 times more energy than an 8, and rattled the plant with more “peak ground acceleration” than it was designed for.
Fukushima withstood all that. But then a 45-foot tsunami roared over the plant’s 25-foot-high seawall, took out its backup diesel generators and knocked out electricity for miles. After backup batteries died, fuel rods and spent fuel began to overheat and cause explosions and radiation leaks that crews are still battling, mostly with increasing success.
While 28,000 people are dead or missing from the earthquake and tsunami, nuclear fuel damage appears to be short of a meltdown. Radiation levels are being addressed though distribution of potassium iodide tablets, evacuations for several miles around the plant, food supply testing, and other measures.
That is reassuring. But better reactor designs are clearly needed, and are under development. High temperature gas reactors employ helium, rather than water, as a coolant. One version, the pebble bed modular reactor, replaces fuel rods with 2-inch-diameter graphite balls containing uranium granules. The South African version has been designed, and sub-assemblies and fuel balls manufactured and tested successfully, but economics have put the project on hold. A Chinese pebble bed design is under construction.
Another reactor type could be powered by molten fluoride salt containing thorium. This fuel is more plentiful and more easily handled than uranium, and produces more energy per volume of fuel.
TerraPower’s “traveling wave” reactor uses waste uranium as a fuel; Bill Gates and other investors say commercial operations are 15 years away. A new nickel-hydrogen “cold fusion” reactor, developed by two Italian scientists, is also attracting attention.
Until these futuristic systems arrive on the scene, nuclear plants already in the concept, design or construction stage will be better and safer than those that already help power America. However, existing reactors and those under construction are safe.
Twenty US plants now undergoing licensing or site preparation are all Generation III. They feature more “inherently safe design” elements and more “passive” safety features (such as auto response and gravity cooling systems) that rely less on human interaction with complex control systems.
The 104 commercial reactors already operating in the United States are all Generation II, enhanced over the years in response to new safety concepts and equipment, newly identified threats (such as terrorism after 9/11), and problems like Three Mile Island.
Gen II power plants consist of boiling or pressure water reactors surrounded by a steel wall, steel-reinforced concrete casing, and steel-reinforced concrete building. Nuclear engineers say US-based plants are designed, engineered and built to handle expected worst-case disasters like earthquakes, tornadoes, hurricanes and floods – and analyzed for possible effects of terrorism – with multiple backup systems.
These efforts are supplemented during and after construction by exhaustive design reviews and modifications, and ongoing upgrades or replacement of equipment, instruments, controls and power lines. Further enhancements to equipment, training and procedures occur during the relicensing process and in response to natural disasters, operator errors, equipment failures, terrorist acts, and the discovery of design or manufacturing defects, in the US and around the world.
The system is designed to provide defense in depth, have appropriate equipment and procedures in place, and establish a “culture of safety.” Operators are trained continually to execute normal and emergency procedures, and emergency preparedness is drilled every two years with industry, state and local officials, under oversight by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and Federal Emergency Management Agency.
Fukushima apparently was insufficiently prepared for a disaster of the magnitude it experienced, in this major Pacific Ring of Fire earthquake and tsunami zone. The failure of diesel generators is already driving another look at passive safety systems; the hydrogen explosions a reassessment of ways to vent pressure buildups to special containment vessels; the overheating spent fuel rods new demands for reprocessing or safe offsite waste repositories, like Yucca Mountain.
The industry, NRC, FEMA, Congress, and state agencies are all reassessing and re-verifying the ability of nuclear plants, plans, equipment and personnel to handle events of Fukushima’s magnitude. Lessons from that near-disaster will be evaluated and employed worldwide.
Meanwhile, development of Generation III and IV nuclear reactors continues globally.
There can be no guarantees, no absolute fail-safe system. But those entrusted with nuclear power plant electricity generation and safety can and must come as close as possible.
Meanwhile, the rest of us must focus on helping northeastern Honshu recover – and offering thanks and prayers for the heroic workers who exposed themselves to dangerous radiation levels, to prevent a real disaster.
Posted by Brett at 2:52 PM
A Random Comment I Encountered...
We’ve seen plenty of discontent on the left over the President’s failure to deliver on the progressive promises of the ’08 campaign, I often hear this complaint and my reply is, just WTF are they unhappy with?
In 2 years Obama has given them
– nationalized health care
– nationalized student loans
– ban on oil drilling
– nationalized auto industry
– quasi nationalized banking system
– a ban of light bulbs that aren’t “green”
– $60B for trains
– untold hundreds of billions sent to unions in the form
of aid to states and green initiatives that just ended
up going straight to SEIU/NEA
– highest % of people on govt assistance EVER
I mean for crying out loud, liberals, if you’re not happy with this, you will never be happy with anyone. Libs are dating a Sports Illustrated model and complaining that she’s not as hot in 2011 as she was in 2008 because she’s put on 2 lbs. Give me a freaking break.
angryed on April 30, 2011 at 5:07 PM
Posted by Brett at 2:47 PM
Why Not Santorum?
By Lisa Fabrizio on 4.27.11 @ 6:07AM
I've always subscribed to the notion that, by and large, the leaders most admired by the American people are those who speak plainly; that is, they represent themselves as who they are and what they believe, and not as folks would like them to be. They come to the table and lay out the bill of fare they've prepared, then serve it up as advertised.
Love him or hate him, George W. Bush had a firm set of moral convictions that he employed when dealing with issues, particularly in the arena of foreign policy. To call out the "Axis of Evil" was the most natural thing in the world for him. There was no mistaking his aims, or from whence they derived. He saw evil in the world, and said so. Compare the attitudes of our enemies -- and our allies, sadly -- toward our nation now that the Oval Office is occupied by a man of confusing and even questionable beliefs.
After three years of the enigmatic Barack Obama, we desperately need someone who can and will be willing to cut through the lies and propaganda of the left and explain his views and values to the American people in a clear and cogent manner. As we peruse the so far thinnish field of GOP presidential candidates, it's worth noting that there may be just such a man in the running.
Rick Santorum, who has long been involved in a love-hate relationship with many on the right -- the hatred hinging on his support of Arlen Specter in 2004 -- looks like he will be tossing his hat into the ring. And like George W. Bush, whether you agree with him or not, you know where you stand with him, especially on certain topics. Chief among these is the right to life for children in the womb. Many politicians have paid lip service to this issue, but how many have the guts to confront the left on this, and to hoist them by their own petards?
A case in point was an interview Santorum gave to CNS News earlier this year where he questioned President Obama's inability to say whether a human life is protected by the Constitution, basically couching the debate in terms of civil rights; a concept that, in this context, was unfamiliar to those on the left. He said that if folks like Barack Obama decide that a child in the womb is not a person under our Constitution, that it would be "almost remarkable for a black man to say 'now we are going to decide who are people and who are not people.'"
What did he mean by this? Well, in a totally unbiased Politico piece titled, "Rick Santorum plays race card on President Obama," the senator further explained:
For decades certain human beings were wrongly treated as property and denied liberty in America because they were not considered persons under the constitution. Today other human beings, the unborn of all races, are also wrongly treated as property and denied the right to life for the same reason; because they are not considered persons under the constitution. I am disappointed that President Obama, who rightfully fights for civil rights, refuses to recognize the civil rights of the unborn in this country.
This burst of common sense was, of course met with the usual howls of indignation from leftists -- "ludicrous!" shouted one of them -- although it was a perfectly legitimate use of an analogy that, when employed by them to justify gay "marriage," becomes totally illegitimate. Unborn children, like blacks before them, are denied their rights by virtue of circumstances beyond their control, not by a choice of sexual preference. Maybe the plainspoken yet passionate Santorum can explain to the nation exactly to whom the phrase "ourselves and our posterity" actually applies.
But can Santorum get votes? Well, he served two Senate terms until he famously lost his last re-election bid in a landslide to a so-called pro-life Democrat in purple Pennsylvania, a state that went big time for Obama in '08. Some say this was because conservatives sat on their hands and stayed home, while others attribute it in part to accusations of residency violations that wouldn't have drawn a yawn in Obama's hometown of Chicago. In any case, it remains to be seen whether he can garner votes nationally, given the wild hatred of him by the media because of his views on homosexuality and Islamism.
There are still many conservatives who will not forgive Santorum for his support of the duplicitous Specter, though without it, we may have not gotten John Roberts or Samuel Alito confirmed to the U.S. Supreme Court. But in him, we have a man who has everything we need to defeat Barack Obama and his polyester policies; a man who is not only able to enunciate conservatism in clear, concise terms, but is totally unafraid to live it.
Rick Santorum? A Keystone State View
By Jeffrey Lord on 4.29.11 @ 2:52PM
My friend Quin Hillyer is asking about Rick Santorum, so as the resident Pennsylvanian here's what I see. Note: I need to try and allow for the old prophet-in-his-own-land syndrome.
His bluntness is at once an asset and a liability. To use the old joke about Christ and his critics, were Rick to walk on water the headline would be "Santorum can't swim"....And he is constitutionally incapable of not being blunt, which in this media environment is a problem for anybody. People will be (will be?...they are surely already!) out to get him...make him look like a homophobic, hate-mongering posterior. Surely the charming quote from ex-Senator Bob Kerrey will surface..."Is Santorum Latin for a--h---?" The left's treatment of a nominee Santorum, not to mention a President Santorum, would make their treatment of Bush look like the coverage of Kate Middleton. You could look forward to a race that would be cast by the liberal media as the Saint versus the Bigoted Jerk and-oh-by-the-way doesn't he look like Hitler?
That's from the left.
From the right, the Specter situation is a problem -- although he can honestly say that without Arlen there may not have been Roberts and Alito. Also, conservatives here balked on his defense of earmarks...interpreted as a defense of the Establishment taste for pork, both a deadly problem with the right.
But integrity? Hard work? A serious vision on Islamic radicals and a willingness to confront that threat? Pro-life? Moral clarity in general? Right (correct) on economics, national security? Top notch. Which means a Santorum supporter will decidedly not be lukewarm. They will love him even more when the BS comes down, as it surely will. Not unlike the Palinistas, Santorumites are not lukewarm about their candidate.
One curious problem is Pennsylvania. As things go in our state, the real political power for either party comes when they hold the governorship. Governors here have real inside-the-party clout unless they seriously alienate. Senators -- with no patronage to speak of -- have never managed well here in this sense, no matter the party. A case in point was when the Reagan brain trust of 1976 tried to put Reagan over the top by naming then-Pennsylvania Senator Dick Schweiker as Reagan's before-the-balloting VP choice. The idea was to snatch the Pennsylvania delegation from Ford. There was no GOP governor at the time (Democrat Milton Shapp had the job). It didn't work. Why? Because even a sitting Senator didn't have the ability to control the party machinery. So -- the gambit lost.
The point? We have a brand new GOP governor, Tom Corbett. You can bet he will have considerable say in the leanings of the Pennsylvania GOP delegation. If he chooses not to back Santorum -- Santorum is essentially starting baseless. That would be a real problem. The only way around this are early primary wins -- NH, SC, etc. The Pennsylvania primary is later -- April 24th or some such.
Does that help? Rick Santorum is a deeply honorable public servant. A real fighter for, as Superman seems suddenly reluctant to say, "truth, justice and the American way." But every one of these prospectives has pluses and minuses and I think this is roughly fair about his.
Can he win? Personally, I think this year is going to be so open anybody can win under the right circumstances. He's not as well positioned as Romney or Huckabee...but is it possible? You remember President Hillary Clinton, don't you?
Posted by Brett at 2:04 PM
Top 10 Barack Obama Blunderings
by Human Events
Posted 04/30/2011 ET
Even beyond his disastrous policies, President Obama is turning out to be a terrible politician. The great orator and master campaigner of 2008 is stumbling through his presidency, piling up gaffes and making odd political moves. Here are the Top 10 Barack Obama Blunderings:
1. Tone-deaf priorities: When the American people were desperate for jobs, President Obama used all his political capital to jam health care reform down their throats. Then, when voters spoke loud and clear in the midterm elections that they wanted government to live within its means, Obama put out a budget with increased spending. Do we really need an expensive high-speed rail system when the deficit is spiraling out of control?
2. Doesn’t know when to shut up: Obama has fallen in love with his own words so much that he doesn’t realize that sometimes it is best just to say nothing. For example, when he disparaged the Cambridge, Mass., police officer in the Henry Louis Gates Jr. arrest. Or when he needlessly inserted himself into the Ground Zero mosque controversy. And did he have to go from country to country apologizing for America’s misdeeds?
3. Slow to react: It took Obama more than a month before addressing the American people on the BP oil spill and he diddled for weeks without a clear policy as the Middle East erupted. His moves on the Bush tax-cut extension and on deficit reduction were made only after republicans forced his hand and as a deadline neared.
4. Partisan rants: His speech in March ripping into Rep. Paul Ryan’s budget proposal is symptomatic of Obama taking highly partisan positions on critical issues. As someone who ran for President promising to transcend partisanship, Obama has done anything but, as he continues to demagogue rather than lead.
5. Leisure-time overkill: Every President needs some rest and relaxation to unwind, but Barack Obama takes downtime to a new level. With his frequent golf outings and pickup basketball games, his many vacations, and the numerous concerts and ball games, Obama sends a message that having fun takes priority.
6. Campaign missteps: As masterful as his presidential campaign was run, Obama’s campaigning for Democratic candidates in the 2010 midterm elections was a disaster. His attempt to link the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to foreign campaigns donors fell flat and he created a needless controversy when he urged Latinos to “punish” their enemies.
7. Can’t communicate: The great orator of 2008 was easily mocked when it became apparent how much he relied on a teleprompter, even setting up the machine in an elementary school classroom. But as his presidency progressed, even the teleprompter failed to help, as most of his speeches began falling flat.
8. Out of touch: At a time when Americans are suffering due to the poor economy, Obama seems to relish every glitzy trapping of the White House. From black-tie galas to Kennedy center concerts, from New York date nights to expensive vacations in Spain, Vail, and Martha’s Vineyard, President and First Lady Obama are living like royalty.
9. Protocol gaffes: Obama showed he knew little about diplomatic protocol when he gave the back of his hand to the “special relationship” between the U.S. and England, returning a bust of Winston Churchill to the British, and then giving gifts of an iPod to the Queen of England and a DVD of American movie classics to Prime Minister Gordon Brown. And Mr. President, bowing to Saudi kings sends a message of subservience to the world.
10. Insensitive to Middle America: How is it that the President can release special greetings in the last year to Muslims for their Ramadan, Eid ul-Fitr, Hajj, and Eid al-Adha holidays, yet fail to issue an Easter or a Good Friday message to the nation? Perhaps the answer is that he views many of his fellow countrymen as bitter people who cling to their guns and religion.
To read another article on this subject, click here.
Posted by Brett at 1:19 PM
Friday, April 29, 2011
Netanyahu’s Time to Choose
By Caroline Glick
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s response to the Fatah-led Palestinian Authority’s peace deal with Hamas would be funny if it weren’t tragic. Immediately after the news broke of the deal Netanyahu announced, “The PA must choose either peace with Israel or peace with Hamas. There is no possibility for peace with both.”
Netanyahu’s statement is funny because it is completely absurd. The PA has chosen.
The PA made the choice in 2000 when it rejected Israel’s offer of peace and Palestinian statehood and joined forces with Hamas to wage a terror war against Israel.
The PA made the choice in 2005 again when it responded to Israel’s unilateral withdrawal from Gaza with a tenfold increase in the number of rockets and missiles it fired on Israeli civilian targets in the Negev.
The Palestinians made the choice in 2006, when they elected Hamas to rule over them.
They made the choice in March 2007 when Fatah and Hamas signed their first unity deal.
The PA made the choice in 2008 when Abbas rejected then-prime minister Ehud Olmert’s offer of statehood and peace.
The PA made the choice in 2010 when it refused to reinstate peace negotiations with Netanyahu; began peace negotiations with Hamas; and escalated its plan to establish an independent state without peace with Israel.
Now the PA has again made the choice by signing the newest peace deal with Hamas.
In a real sense, Netanyahu’s call for the PA to choose is the political equivalent of a man telling his wife she must choose between him and her lover, after she has left home, shacked up and had five children with her new man.
It is a pathetic joke.
But worse than a pathetic joke, it is a national tragedy. It is a tragedy that after more than a decade of the PA choosing war with Israel and peace with Hamas, Israel’s leaders are still incapable of accepting reality and walking away. It is a tragedy that Israel’s leaders cannot find the courage to say the joke of the peace process is really a deadly serious war process whose end is Israel’s destruction, and that Israel is done with playing along.
There are many reasons that Netanyahu is incapable of stating the truth and ending the 18- year policy nightmare in which Israel is an active partner in its own demise. One of the main reasons is that like his predecessors, Netanyahu has come to believe the myth that Israel’s international standing is totally dependent on its being perceived as trying to make peace with the Palestinians.
According to this myth – which has been the central pillar of Israel’s foreign policy and domestic politics since Yitzhak Rabin first accepted the PLO as a legitimate actor in 1993 – it doesn’t matter how obvious it is that the Palestinians are uninterested in peaceful coexistence with Israel.
It doesn’t matter how openly they wage their war to destroy Israel. Irrespective of the nakedness of Palestinian bad faith, seven successive governments have adopted the view that the only thing that stands between Israel and international pariah status is its leaders’ ability to persuade the so-called international community that Israel is serious about appeasing the Palestinians.
For the past several months, this profoundly neurotic perception of Israel’s options has fed our leaders’ hysterical response to the Palestinians’ plan to unilaterally declare independence.
The Palestinian plan itself discredits the idea that they are interested in anything other than destroying Israel. The plan is to get the UN to recognize a Palestinian state in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and Gaza outside the framework of a peace treaty with Israel. The PA will first attempt to get the Security Council to endorse an independent “Palestine.” If the Obama administration vetoes the move, then the PA will ask the General Assembly to take action. Given the makeup of the General Assembly, it is all but certain that the Palestinians will get their resolution.
The question is, does this matter? Everyone from Defense Minister Ehud Barak to hard-left, post-Zionist retreads like Shulamit Aloni and Avrum Burg says it does. They tell us that if this passes, Israel will face international opprobrium if its citizens or military personnel so much as breathe in Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem without Palestinian permission.
These prophets of doom warn that Israel has but one hope for saving itself from diplomatic death: Netanyahu must stand before the world and pledge to give Israel’s heartland and capital to the Palestinians.
And according to helpful Obama administration officials, everything revolves around Netanyahu’s ability to convince the EU-3 – British Prime Minister David Cameron, French President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel – that he is serious about appeasing the Palestinians. If he doesn’t offer up Israel’s crown jewels in his speech before the US Congress next month, administration officials warn that the EU powers will go with the Palestinians.
And if they go with the Palestinians, well, things could get ugly for Israel.
Happily, these warnings are completely ridiculous. UN General Assembly resolutions have no legal weight. Even if every General Assembly member except Israel votes in favor of a resolution recognizing “Palestine,” all the Palestinians will have achieved is another non-binding resolution, with no force of law, asserting the same thing that thousands of UN resolutions already assert. Namely, it will claim falsely that Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and Gaza are Palestinian territory to which Israel has no right. Israel will be free to ignore this resolution, just as it has been free to ignore its predecessors.
The threat of international isolation is also wildly exaggerated. Today, Israel is more diplomatically isolated than it has been at any time in its 63-year history. With the Obama administration treating the construction of homes for Jews in Jerusalem as a greater affront to the cause of world peace than the wholesale massacre of hundreds of Iranian and Syrian protesters by regime goons, Israel has never faced a more hostile international climate. And yet, despite its frosty reception from the White House to Whitehall, life in Israel has never been better.
According to the latest data released by the Central Bureau of Statistics, Israel’s economy grew 7.8 percent in the last quarter of 2010.
International trade is rising steeply. In the first quarter of 2011, exports rose 27.3%. They grew 19.9% in the final quarter of last year. Imports rose 34.7% between January and March, and 38.9% in the last quarter of 2010.
The Israel-bashing EU remains Israel’s largest trading partner. And even as Turkey embraced Hamas and Iran as allies, its trade with Israel reached an all time high last year.
These trade data expose a truth that the doom and gloomers are unwilling to notice: For the vast majority of Israelis the threat of international isolation is empty.
The same people telling us to commit suicide now lest we face the firing squad in September would also have us believe that the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement is the single greatest threat to the economy. But that lie was put paid this month with the demise of the Australian town of Marrickville’s BDS-inspired boycott.
Last December, the anti-Israel coalition running the town council voted to institute a trade, sports and academic boycott against Israel. Two weeks ago the council was forced to cancel its decision after it learned that it would cost $3.4 million to institute it. Cheaper Israeli products and services would have to be replaced with more expensive non-Israeli ones.
Both Israel’s booming foreign trade and the swift demise of the Marrickville boycott movement demonstrate that the specter of international isolation in the event that Israel extricates itself from the Palestinian peace process charade is nothing more than a bluff. The notion that Israel will be worse off it Netanyahu admits that Abbas has again chosen war against the Jews over peace with us has no credibility.
So what is preventing Netanyahu and his colleagues in the government from acknowledging this happy truth? Two factors are at play here. The first is our inability to understand power politics. Our leaders believe that the likes of Sarkozy, Cameron and Merkel are serious when they tell us that Israel needs to prove it is serious about peace in order to enable them to vote against a Palestinian statehood resolution at the UN. But they are not serious. Nothing that Israel does will have any impact on their votes.
When the Europeans forge their policies towards Israel they are moved by one thing only: the US.
Since 1967, the Europeans have consistently been more pro-Palestinian than the US. Now, with the Obama administration demonstrating unprecedented hostility towards Israel, there is no way that the Europeans will suddenly shift to Israel’s side. So when European leaders tell Israelis that we need to convince them we are serious about peace, they aren’t being serious. They are looking for an excuse to be even more hostile. If Israel offers the store to Abbas, then the likes of Cameron, Merkel and Sarkozy will not only recognize “Palestine” at the UN, (because after all, they cannot be expected to be more pro-Israel than the Israeli government that just surrendered), they will recognize Hamas. Because that’s the next step.
It would seem that Israel’s leaders should have gotten wise to this game years ago. And the fact that they haven’t can be blamed on the second factor keeping their sanity in check: the Israeli Left. The only group of Israelis directly impacted by the BDS movement is the Israeli Left. Its members – from university lecturers to anti-Zionist has-been politicians, artists, actors and hack writers – are the only members of Israeli society who have a personal stake in a decision by their leftist counterparts in the US or Europe or Australia or any other pretty vacation/sabbatical spots to boycott Israelis.
And because the movement threatens them, they have taken it upon themselves to scare the rest of us into taking this ridiculous charade seriously. So it was that last week a group of washed-up radicals gathered in Tel Aviv outside the hall where David Ben-Gurion proclaimed Israeli independence, and declared the independence of “Palestine.” They knew their followers in the media would make a big deal of their agitprop and use it as another means of demoralizing the public into believing we can do nothing but embrace our enemies’ cause against our country.
The time has come for the vast majority of Israelis who aren’t interested in the Nobel Prize for Literature or a sabbatical at Berkeley or the University of Trondheim to call a spade a spade. The BDS haters have no leverage. A degree from Bar-Ilan is more valuable than a degree from Oxford. And no matter how much these people hate Israel, they will continue to buy our technologies and contract our researchers, because Cambridge is no longer capable of producing the same quality of scholarship as the Technion.
And it is well past time for our leaders to stop playing this fool’s game. We don’t need anyone’s favors. Abbas has made his choice.
Now it is time for Netanyahu to choose.
To read another article by Caroline Glick, click here.
Posted by Brett at 6:49 PM
The Troubling Past and Frightening Future of Jihad, Part 2
By Michael Youssef
Over the years, I've returned many times to Egypt, the land of my birth. That land has changed dramatically since my boyhood. In recent years, this formerly secular and religiously tolerant nation has become a hotbed of Islamic extremism. Though there has been political repression in Egypt throughout my lifetime, the one benefit of that repression is that Muslims, Jews, and Coptic Christians lived together in relative peace and security.
Today, however, the peace and security of Egypt have been shaken. Radical, fundamentalist Islam is grabbing for power in Egypt. The radicalization of Egypt was vividly illustrated for me during my most recent visit to the Mediterranean resort city of Alexandria. There, men and women still go to the beach as they did when I was a boy—but now they do so in full Islamic garb.
For decades, anti-Western, anti-Israel, anti-Christian militancy has been on the rise across the Muslim world. Radical Islam is being inculcated in young Arab minds through Wahhabi madrasas. We are seeing the fruit of radical Islamic education in Egypt in the growing persecution of religious minorities. The Wall Street Journal (May 18, 2010) reported on "waves of mob assaults" by Muslims against Coptic Christians in Egypt. In Marsa Matrouh, an estimated 3,000 Muslims rampaged against Christians, destroying Christian homes and shops. Some 400 Christians took refuge behind barricades in their church. The Christians called for police protection, but the police did not arrive until after the violence ended—and they refused to prosecute the Muslims.
The fall of the Mubarak government in February 2011 has given radical Islamists an opening to seize power and transform Egypt into an Iran-style theocratic state. In March 2011, Egypt held an historic referendum on constitutional amendments designed to move the nation from military rule to a permanent government. The amendments were designed to give political power to well-organized political movements—and the amendments were strongly supported by the Muslim Brotherhood. Opposition to the amendments came from the Christian Coptic community, secular political leaders, and the student organizers who had sparked the original uprising in Egypt.
The Muslim Brotherhood won by a huge margin—77 percent!
Just a few weeks earlier, President Obama had said, "I think that the Muslim Brotherhood is one faction in Egypt. They don't have majority support." The president seems unaware that the Brotherhood is a vast global network with 600,000 members in Egypt alone. This Brotherhood victory in the Egyptian referendum shows that the revolution in Egypt has already been co-opted by radicals and hard-liners. I predict that those in the West who celebrated the Egyptian revolution, thinking it would lead to freedom and democracy, will be bitterly disappointed by future events.
Is the Obama administration worried that the Egyptian revolution might be hijacked by the Muslim Brotherhood? Not at all! White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said flatly that Egypt's new government should include "a whole host of important non-secular actors," a reference to the Muslim Brotherhood.
And in February, President Obama's director of national intelligence, James Clapper, testified before a congressional committee that the Muslim Brotherhood is "a very heterogeneous group, largely secular, which has eschewed violence. . . . They have pursued social ends, a betterment of the political order in Egypt, et cetera. . . . There is no overarching agenda, particularly in pursuit of violence, at least internationally."
"Largely secular"? "No overarching agenda"? It boggles my mind to think that our nation's intelligence director could be so far out of touch with reality! After all, the organization is called the Muslim Brotherhood—not the Secular Brotherhood. The "overarching agenda" is right there in the name!
The Muslim Brotherhood is the largest, oldest, and most influential Islamic political group in the world. Its motto: "Allah is our objective, the Prophet is our leader, the Quran is our law, Jihad is our way, and dying in the way of Allah is our highest hope." The terror organization Hamas is an offshoot of the Brotherhood, created specifically with the goal of destroying Israel. The Brotherhood is dedicated to the establishment of a global caliphate, the imposition of Islamic law worldwide. The Brotherhood's supreme guide, Mohammed Badie, has openly stated his goal of raising up "a jihadi generation that pursues death, just as the enemies pursue life."
One of the leaders of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood in the 1950s and '60s was Sayyid Qutb. Through his writings, he exerted a profound influence on such key al-Qaeda leaders as Ayman Zawahiri, the U.S.-born cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, and Osama bin Laden. So the Muslim Brotherhood of half a century ago has helped engender the radical jihadist movement of today.
Most Americans would be shocked to learn the extent of the Muslim Brotherhood's activities in Europe and the United States. A large number of Islamic organizations in America—including the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the Islamic Society of North America, and the North American Islamic Trust—are known offshoots or front groups of the Brotherhood. Fundraising for the "Ground Zero Mosque" in lower Manhattan has been facilitated in part by Saudi prince Alwaleed bin Talal, described by Investor's Business Daily (August 26, 2010) as "a major financier of Muslim Brotherhood fronts in the U.S."
When we connect the dots, we find that the same organization that is quietly seizing control of the revolution in Egypt is also advancing its stealth agenda in America and across Europe. That organization is the father of Hamas and al-Qaida, and the fountainhead of jihadist ideology around the world—the Muslim Brotherhood.
The Christian West is under attack. Invasion and conquest are well underway. From the "Ground Zero Mosque" to the uprisings in the Arab world, the Islamic Jihad movement has announced its intention to eradicate the Jews and the Christian faith, to destroy our culture and our freedom, and to impose Islamic law on the entire world.
Tragically, Western civilization not only seems unaware of the threat, but actually welcomes and celebrates the coming of its own destruction.
To read Part 1, click here.
To read more about the Muslim Brotherhood history, click here.
Posted by Brett at 12:43 PM
Stagflaton: It's Back
By Larry Kudlow
Stagflation officially returned today with a nasty GDP report that showed only 1.8 percent real growth, but 3.8 percent for the consumer spending deflator. It’s a mini version of the 1970s: low growth, higher inflation.
Looked at another way, rising inflation is coexisting with high, near-9 percent unemployment. Keynesians argue this can’t happen. They believe strong growth and too many people working leads to high inflation. But they were blown out of the water way back in the ’70s. And their view is hitting another pothole right now.
Supply-siders know that inflation is a monetary problem. Growth is caused by low tax-rate incentives. And the combination of flat tax rates and sound money could produce strong growth with no inflation. Think 1980s and 1990s.
But that’s not what we have now.
The dollar is falling relentlessly and gold is soaring. These market indicators are correctly predicting higher inflation as the Fed creates more excess money than anybody knows what to do with.
Fed head Ben Bernanke yesterday told us that low Q1 growth and high inflation will be “transitory.” How does he know this? Gold has gone up $40 since he started talking at his Wednesday press conference. It’s now at $1,536 an ounce. And the greenback keeps falling. Transitory? Actually, it looks like the whole QE2 pump-priming hasn’t stimulated economic growth, but has stimulated inflation.
And while the Bush tax cuts were extended last December, the sharp dollar decline and the resulting inflation have neutralized the positive effects of continued lower tax rates.
Once again I note the supply-side model is low tax rates and a stable dollar (backed by gold). But low tax rates and collapsing dollar is no good. Neither is overspending and over-borrowing. Nor is the new round of Obama-based tax-hike threats.
And the Treasury Department hasn’t lifted a finger to support the dollar. So the Bernanke Buck keeps tumbling. The White House won’t come to the table for a budget deal. And the economy is showing signs of stagflation.
Thank heavens for profits. Business productivity and profits in the private sector are the saving grace of this whole story. And let me dream that government will just leave businesses alone, and let them continue to support the economy and the stock market.
Because if stagflation is not transitory, businesses may have to tighten their belts once again.
Posted by Brett at 12:37 PM
End of America?
By John Ransom
Liberals wants you to know that America's best days are almost behind her.
They even pegged a date. And included pictures.
The date is 2016, says the mainstream media.
That's the date when they say that the IMF warns China's economy will surpass America's in real terms.
The IMF disputes the claim.
Let's just say that I'm suspicious.
There are a number of problems with this projection as the "End of America."
Firstly, in actual dollars the U.S. will still have a substantial advantage in GDP in 2016 according to the IMF.
"An analyst at the IMF said in a statement," reports CNN, that "much hinges on whether economic size is measured by purchasing power parity -- what your money can actually buy on the ground in any given economy, the basis of the famous 'Big Mac' index -- or GDP at market rates -- which is measured by converting the national currency into a common currency (normally the U.S. dollar) and measuring how much is flowing through the economy."
But you can't compare economies by using purchasing power parity. Instead, the correct figure to use is the dollar-to-GDP figure, according to the IMF.
“The IMF considers that GDP in purchase-power-parity (PPP) terms is not the most appropriate measure for comparing the relative size of countries to the global economy, because PPP price levels are influenced by nontraded services, which are more relevant domestically than globally,” said an IMF spokesperson according to the Financial Times.
For example, you can't count rents as equal in China and the U.S., which PPP would most certianly do. You get a lot more with rent here than you do in China in the most simplistic example.
Also, projections about economic growth are notably tricky. A lot of assumptions go into coming up with a PPP or a GDP dollar number that likely won't pan out.
But most importantly people seem to be mesmerized by the sheer size of China, but discount the difficulties in controlling a command economy enjoying as much growth as China has sustained.
As we have written about on this site in the past, there is a tremendous amount of malinvestment in China. Whole cities have been built that stand empty. That kind of investment can't go on forever.
In the general upward slurge of growth a country can paper over a lot of problems. They just can't do it forever.
In fact authorities in China may have started the biggest crackdown on dissent in over ten years.
“Shenzhen officials seeking social stability before they host the Summer Universiade, an international sporting event for university students,” reports the China Reform Monitor “have arrested or evicted more than 80,000 people deemed a threat to security.”
Corruption, lack of freedoms, central planners, human rights problems and- oh by the way- being Communists- all present problems to China in becoming the biggest economy in the history of the world, ever!
Reformers, led by Premier Wen Jiabao are in the minority in China; a big minority.
"It is obvious [Wen] is the symbol and the voice of the reforming forces ... The fact that he appears helpless is a very good reflection of China's political reality," said Professor Joseph Cheng Yu-shek. "You have people in the party who might be interested in reforms but they are certainly in the minority and can't do much."
Sure, China's a Kenseyian Disneyland, right now.
But eventually that park closes down.
And America's freedom to innovate then takes over.
Certainly long-term, China has the potential to be the biggest player, but it will be some time before that happens, if it happens at all.
In the meantime, I suggest that we take seriously a rapprochement with Russia, while imposing stiffer restrictions on trade with China, pending serious reforms in her government and economy.
Oh...and get rid of that guy Obama.
To read another article by John Ransom, click here.
Posted by Brett at 12:27 PM
By Oliver North
PITTSBURGH -- According to the experts, this ought to be "Obama Country." In the 2008 presidential election, the Obama "Hope and Change" machine scored big in western Pennsylvania, carrying the region with nearly 58 percent of the vote. But this week, there's little evidence of that support here in the Steel City, where more than 70,000 freedom-loving Americans have gathered for the National Rifle Association's 140th annual meeting.
On Wednesday, while NRA officials were making final preparations for the "Three Rivers Celebration of American Values," President Barack Obama made an unanticipated visit to the White House pressroom for a "special announcement." Several police officers -- veterans of the campaigns in Iraq, Afghanistan or both -- were in the security operations center here when a duty officer announced that the television networks were interrupting regular programming for live coverage of urgent presidential remarks.
Because this was transpiring on the 206th anniversary of the first U.S. Marine expedition -- to "the shores of Tripoli" -- it occurred to some that the commander in chief might be going to deliver an important message about the current chaos in Libya, the Middle East or Afghanistan. But no, POTUS had something of far greater consequence on his mind -- more crucial than American troops fighting a two-front war, the NATO-generated stalemate in North Africa or a bloodbath in Syria. He wanted to talk about his birth certificate.
Obama's blessedly brief comments, delivered without the aid of a teleprompter, stunned everyone in the room. "You've got to be kidding me!" and "They broke in for that?" were the least onerous expletive-deleted comments from the "audience" in the security center.
Their critique had nothing to do with where Obama was born. Little was said about why he had waited -- "for 2 1/2 years," by his own admission -- to resolve what he described as "this kind of silliness." Instead, the overwhelming sentiment was colossal disappointment that the leader of the Free World had stooped to whine about being "distracted by sideshows and carnival barkers" while our nation confronts monumental problems.
"I'm ashamed to say, I voted for him," one of the policemen said to me as we walked out of the command post. He continued: "My National Guard unit was called up for duty in Iraq while Bush was president. After Obama was elected, I volunteered to go to Afghanistan with a police (mobile training team). Though I didn't agree with George Bush about Iraq, I never doubted he really meant it when he said he cared about all of us over there and prayed for us every day. But all Obama thinks about is himself."
That's a striking, provocative observation about Barack Obama from a self-professed former supporter. Whether the president's sudden appearance in the White House pressroom was really "impromptu," "unplanned" and "spontaneous," as administration officials claim, or part of a strategic public relations plan gone awry is irrelevant. Either way, Wednesday's surreal birth certificate announcement is evidence of extraordinary self-infatuation.
In his remarks, Obama asserted: "I've got better stuff to do. We've got big problems to solve." Yet there is little indication that this president is deeply preoccupied with issues that ought to warrant his full attention.
Less than 12 hours before he "popped in" to remind the press corps about his birthplace, nine Americans were killed in Afghanistan. Scores of rebels and refugees were butchered in Misrata, Libya, by forces loyal to Moammar Gadhafi. In Syria, Bashar Assad's army unleashed a series of vicious assaults on unarmed protesters, making a mockery of Obama's "responsibility to protect civilians" foreign policy. In that same time frame, devastating tornadoes touched down in major American cities -- destroying homes, office buildings and schools while killing hundreds of our countrymen -- and gasoline prices hit a new high. Yet none of this warranted even a brief utterance from the president.
Supporters cite Obama's "dispassionate detachment" and his "coolness in crisis" as attributes to explain his apparent indifference to unforeseen, unexpected and unpleasant events. In 2010, when he all but ignored the Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, his inaction was depicted as "taking time to consider all possible options." As events spiraled out of control in Tunisia, Egypt, Syria, Bahrain, Yemen and then Libya, it was suggested that he was "working behind the scenes to build consensus." His failure to speak out promptly about the catastrophic earthquake/tsunami that devastated Japan was explained as "stoic compassion."
Perhaps. But Wednesday's very strange birth certificate appearance suggests a far less charitable explanation for what's been happening in the Obama White House: a lengthy, ongoing session of self-absorbed navel gazing. If that's the case, America's adversaries in Tripoli, Tehran, Damascus, Beijing, Pyongyang and Caracas must have chortled when the president of the United States took time to explain to the world where and when he was born. Meanwhile, here in Pittsburgh, several hundred thousand Americans are convinced POTUS has his priorities all wrong.
To read another article by Oliver North, click here.
Posted by Brett at 12:21 PM
Sanity Continues Losing Ground In School Culture Wars, Part I
By Kyle Olson
Public schools continue to be a battleground in the culture war, as the education establishment – composed primarily of leftists bent on political correctness – gains more ground.
This strain treats Christianity and its holidays as a pariah, while embracing Muslim holidays.
The Hillsboro, Oregon school board just held a vote on what to call the time off school around Christmas and New Years. It had traditionally been called “Christmas Break.” But new calendars, produced by school staff, changed it to “Winter Break.” The school board voted 4-3 to call it “Christmas Break.” From OregonLive.com:
“[School board member] Janeen Sollman said winter break ‘respects everyone in the community. This isn't about religion, it boils down to respect.'
“Later, Hillsboro Education Association president Kathy Newman sided with Sollman and reminded the school board that equity is among its goals and ‘the district calendar should reflect that.’”
Further up the Pacific coast, a high school sophomore explained to a local radio station that the term “Easter eggs” could no longer be used because the administration preferred “spring spheres.”
Is this a joke? Is America being Punk’d?
No, the trend caught on elsewhere in Seattle. The parks department had several listings for “Spring Egg Hunts” all over the city. The word “Easter” has been wiped off the site.
But never fear: one religion, Islam, is being protected – and in fact gaining ground – in American public schools. The Boston Globe reports:
“But beginning next year, Cambridge public schools will attempt to make it easier for Muslim students to honor their highest holy days.
“In a move that school officials believe is the first of its kind in the state, Cambridge will close schools for one Muslim holiday each year beginning in the 2011-2012 school year.
“The school will either close for Eid al-Fitr or Eid al-Adha, also known as the Festival of Sacrifice, depending on which holiday falls within the school year. If both fall within the school calendar, the district will close for only one of the days.
And if you’re wondering, the calendar does denote the existence of a “Winter Break.” This is little more than political correctness run wild.
Dearborn, Michigan has the largest population of Muslims outside of the Middle East but this writer could not find anything on the school district’s website indicating it celebrated Muslim holidays. School officials did not return calls seeking a definitive answer.
This isn’t just about holidays. The political correctness that has taken root in public schools has also provided a platform for radical ideology, namely Marxism. I’ll deal with that topic very soon.
To read another article by Kyle Olsen, click here.
Posted by Brett at 12:09 PM
Is the Party Over?
By Ken Connor
Let's not kid ourselves: The policy train in American government has largely been driven by powerful special interests. These enterprises invest enormous amounts of time and money in political campaigns in order to ensure that their agenda is advanced on Capitol Hill. Over the years, particular interests have become allied with particular parties, becoming entrenched in the American political zeitgeist. Big Business, Big Pharma, Big Oil – these are associated inextricably with the GOP. On the other side of the aisle reside the patrons of the Democratic party: Big Labor, Planned Parenthood, the Green lobby, and the NEA.
For decades, these political powerhouses have been the sacred cows of American politics. Elected officials cross them at their peril. Fail to placate your party's special interests and your political career won't last long.
Therefore, things have to get pretty bad before the politicians begin to say no to their benefactors. But, that's exactly what's beginning to happen, thanks to America's worsening debt crisis.
This week, the Washington Post reported that Detroit's Democratic Mayor David Bing "wants city employees to pay significantly more for health care and pensions. What the unions do not give, he warned, the government will take by using a new state law allowing a state-appointed fiscal manager to void their collective bargaining agreements."
What's truly interesting about this development is what it indicates about the severity of the economic crisis facing our nation. Even Democrats are beginning to realize that it is no longer fiscally viable to insulate labor unions from economic reality. More from the article:
Decades ago, when Detroit earned the proud moniker Motor City, it was home to a thriving?and decidedly blue-collar middle class built largely by the clout of organized labor. Detroit is now renowned as a national symbol of urban dysfunction, and as Bing tries desperately to change that reputation, he often finds himself at odds with the city's labor unions. . . . Even as the city is shrinking, Bing calls the current state of city services unacceptable. And he says they are not going to improve unless he can reduce the city's personnel costs, which are overwhelming the budget. This year, the city paid $200 million in pension benefits, which Bing said was $25 million more than the city paid for fire department and ambulance services last year.
"The old days, when getting a good city job meant that you put in your 20 years with the expectation that city government could take care of you for the next 40, is no longer a realistic or viable option," Bing said.
The power of special interests in American politics – at every level – cannot be underestimated, yet we are quickly getting to the point where politicians can literally no longer afford to pay tribute to their patron constituencies. This is yet another signal that America's economic troubles are no joke. They are serious, and they are not going away unless the entire nation, from Congress to Wall Street to Main Street, is willing to make some major changes.
If our elected officials lacked the gumption before now to make the tough decisions, perhaps it is a good thing that we have gotten to the point where economic reality is compelling them to act. In this challenge, they will need the public's support and encouragement. We must send the message, and send it loudly, that we are ready for a change, that we expect a change, and that we will settle for nothing less than representatives who are ready and willing to do the work that needs to be done to bring America back from the brink of disaster.
The days of pandering pols dismissing concerned citizens as Chicken Littles are over. The crisis is real, the crisis is here, and it demands decisive action from both sides of the aisle.
To read another article by Ken Conner, click here.
Posted by Brett at 12:04 PM
The Wisconsin Witch Hunt Goes National
By Michelle Malkin
On May 1, left-wing vigilantes will target companies across the country that have committed a mortal sin: sending donations to GOP Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin. Rest assured, such intolerable acts of political free speech will not go unpunished by tolerant Big Labor activists. They're calling for both a national boycott of Walker's corporate donors and a coordinated sticker vandalism campaign on GOP-tainted products.
The Wisconsin Grocers Association is bracing for the anti-Walker witch hunt. Anonymous operatives have circulated sabotage stickers on the Internet and around Wisconsin that single out Angel Soft tissue paper ("Wiping your (expletive) on Wisconsin workers"), Johnsonville Sausage ("These Brats Bust Unions") and Coors ("Labor Rights Flow Away Like A Mountain Stream"). Earlier this week, a "Stick It To Walker" website boasted photos of vandalized Angel Soft tissue packages at a Super Foodtown grocery store in Brooklyn, N.Y.
This destruction of private property is illegal. Not that it matters to anti-Walker protest mobsters, who trampled Wisconsin's Capitol at an estimated $5 million in security, repair and cleaning costs to taxpayers. According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "The identity of the backers of the sticker effort is unknown, although many assume it is being orchestrated by public employee unions. This latest effort follows boycotts organized by members of the Wisconsin State Employees Union AFSCME 24."
AFSCME 24 is the same union affiliate that recently disseminated intimidation letters throughout southeast Wisconsin, demanding that local businesses support unions by putting up signs in their windows. The letter threatened not just Walker supporters, but any and all businesses that have chosen to sit on the sidelines and stay out of politics altogether: "Failure to do so will leave us no choice but (to) do a public boycott of your business. And sorry, neutral means 'no' to those who work for the largest employer in the area and are union members." Others on Big Labor's hit list: Kwik Trip, Sargento Foods Inc. and M&I Bank.
Walker, of course, has been at the forefront of government pension and budget reforms. Similar measures are being advanced by Democratic governors and Democrat-run legislatures from Massachusetts to New York to California. But union bosses have yet to sic their goons on individual and corporate donors to Democratic politicians imposing long-overdue benefit and collective bargaining limits for public employee unions.
How convenient, yes? Just as they secured a big fat waiver from the federal health care mandate and tax scheme they lobbied to impose on the rest of America, Big Labor is giving Democratic legislative water-carriers who have been forced to adopt cuts and cost controls a big fat waiver from their organized wrath and vandalism.
Now, a few hundred or thousand ruined grocery store items may not seem to matter much to the average reader, but this little property destruction campaign spotlights a nasty tactic increasingly employed by the left: campaign finance disclosure as a speech-squelching weapon.
We saw it last fall when Democratic operatives targeted the U.S. Chamber of Commerce for donating to Obamacare opposition ads.
We saw it in 2008 when a top MoveOn.org alumnus launched attacks on Republican donors with the express purpose of "hoping to create a chilling effect that will dry up contributions."
We saw it when Obama campaign committee lawyers lobbied the Justice Department to investigate and prosecute a GOP donor for funding campaign ads exposing Obama's ties to Weather Underground terrorist Bill Ayers.
We saw it during the Proposition 8 traditional marriage battle in California, where gay rights avengers compiled black lists, harassment lists and Google target maps of citizens who contributed to the ballot measure.
We saw it when "progressive" zealots smeared Target Corporation and Chick-fil-A for daring to associate with social conservatives.
And we're seeing it again this month as the Obama White House readies an executive order that would force federal contractors to disclose all political donations to candidates and independent groups in excess of $5,000 made not just by a corporate entity, but by all of its individual executives, directors and officers.
Former Federal Election Commission official Hans von Spakovsky obtained the sweeping draft executive order, which -- surprise, surprise -- exempts unions and predominantly left-wing federal grant recipients from the mandate. On Wednesday, GOP senators spelled out the bullying agenda in an open letter objecting to the Obama order: "Political activity would obviously be chilled if prospective contractors have to fear that their livelihood could be threatened if the causes they support are disfavored by the administration." Join the club.
When disclosure's a bludgeon, all but Obama's cronies are nails.
To read another article by Michelle Malkin, click here.
Posted by Brett at 11:58 AM
Petraeus and Panetta: Foiled at the Start
By Jed Babbin on 4.29.11 @ 6:09AM
President Obama may think he played it smart by choosing CIA Director Leon Panetta to replace Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Afghanistan commander Gen. David Petraeus to take Panetta's job at CIA. Both men have superb reputations and each is a shoo-in for confirmation.
What comes after won't be so easy. Both Panetta and Petraeus are being air-dropped into unfamiliar roles at a time when the agencies they're taking over are under enormous stress both politically and substantively.
Gen. Petraeus has, for the past decade, been one of our nation's principal intelligence consumers. He has had to make decisions in Iraq and Afghanistan on the basis of a dearth of actionable intelligence. By now he knows in detail the major weaknesses of our intelligence community, and especially the CIA, in penetrating adversary nations and non-state actors such as al Qaeda and Hezbollah.
Now he's going to have to look through the other end of the telescope, and what he'll see isn't pretty.
As Petraeus will discover quickly, the CIA has more fractious tribes than Iraq, each with its own political agenda and media/congressional constituency. It is encumbered with a supervisory bureaucracy that adds no value (the Director of National Intelligence) and has suffered so many attacks from congressional Democrats that Petraeus' predecessor, Panetta, was forced to spend so much of his time defending the agency that the mission of the CIA -- to gather intelligence -- was further eroded.
Because it was unable to gather essential intelligence, under Panetta the CIA turned to its "lethal authorities," the employment of paramilitary operatives and its own fleet of Predator (and other) unmanned aircraft. These assets have been engaged in a global game of "whack-a-mole." Though they have managed to kill a great many terrorists and some minor terrorist leaders, they have not succeeded in crippling -- for example -- the three major terror networks in Afghanistan, al Qaeda, the Taliban, and the Haqqani network in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Before he can get to those issues, Petraeus will face the first challenge encountered by every retiring military officer (or senior industry executive) taking a high-ranking civilian position in government. When a general or a CEO gives an order, his subordinates -- if they don't want to get fired -- move out smartly to accomplish it. In the civilian side of government, when the boss issues an order, it's the start of a debate, not the end of one.
(I e-mailed a friend of mine who works for General Petraeus asking if he'd be coming to Langley with the boss. His answer was, "DC is too much of a war zone for me. MUCH safer here in Afghanistan.")
When the general enters his new office, he will discover proofs of what he suspects. We are unable to obtain reliable current information about the sources of the greatest threats our nation faces. Iran is a "denied area" in which we have almost no ability to gather intelligence. China is embarked on the most penetrating espionage effort against us since the Soviet era and terrorists are still able to hide, obtain financing and weapons, and mount attacks against the U.S. and its troops abroad with too great a frequency. The attempts by the Christmas Day airline bomber and the Times Square car bomber failed only because of their ineptness, not our measures to interdict them.
Petraeus undoubtedly has a lot of ideas on how to improve the CIA's gathering and analysis of intelligence. And he will try to implement them, only to have the CIA's tribal culture and its congressional/media supporters thwart him. He won't get the active presidential support necessary to reform the intelligence community because Obama has himself been at war with the CIA, alleging in his 2008 campaign that it tortured terrorist detainees. Obama backed Eric Holder's 2009 appointment of a special prosecutor to investigate torture allegations. That special prosecutor's work continues to this day, a doomsday cloud still hanging over the agency.
Whether Obama is re-elected or not Petraeus will, like James Woolsey before him, probably leave in frustration after a short term at CIA.
Petraeus will be frustrated at CIA. But what is politically worse for Obama, Panetta's term as defense secretary will be disputatious and rocky from the start.
Panetta -- former House Budget Committee chairman, White House Budget Director and Clinton Chief of Staff before coming to CIA -- has been picked because his political credentials seem to make him a good candidate to wield Obama's machete in slashing the defense budget. But during his term at CIA, his relationship with many senior House Democrats was poisoned by their unremitting attacks on the CIA over the issue of terrorist interrogations.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's war on our spies never ended. As ranking Dem on the House Intelligence Committee, Pelosi was briefed on September 4, 2002 on the fact that al Qaeda detainee Abu Zubayda had been waterboarded, but denied it repeatedly. When the Director of National Intelligence released an unclassified summary of the briefings (a story I broke on May 7, 2009), Pelosi accused the CIA of lying.
Panetta, to his credit, stuck up for the agency he headed, releasing a statement on May 15, 2009 that the CIA's policy was to not mislead Congress. Eleven days later, Pelosi and six other House Dems sent him a letter demanding that he recant that statement.
Relations between Panetta and congressional Dems sank to such a bad level that, in an unprecedented August 2, 2009 op-ed in the Washington Post, Panetta wrote, "It is worth remembering that the CIA implements presidential decisions; we do not make them. Yet my agency continues to pay a price for enduring disputes over policies that no longer exist. Those conflicts fuel a climate of suspicion and partisanship on Capitol Hill that our intelligence officers -- and our country -- would be better off without. My goal as director is to do everything I can to build the kind of dialogue and trust with Congress that is essential to our intelligence mission."
Whatever ill will still exists between Panetta and congressional Democrats, Republicans won't march to his support when he tries to sell $800 billion in cuts to the defense budget over the next decade, as Obama wants. House Armed Services Committee Chairman Howard "Buck" McKeon is very dubious about the cuts made by Obama and Robert Gates, and isn't going to go along with the additional cuts Panetta will try to sell.
Panetta will also have to confront the soured relationship between our professional military and the White House. Not only is there a problem with distrust of the president over Libya, the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" and a host of other issues, National Security Adviser Tom Donilon is distrusted by many of our military leaders. When Donilon was being considered for the post, according to a Bob Woodward book, then-National Security Adviser Gen. Jim Jones said that Donilon had no credibility with the military.
It's understandable why Obama would pick Petraeus and Panetta for their new roles. But the dangers our nation faces will not -- cannot -- be solved by these men. The problems they face aren't made insoluble by the terrorist groups and nations that mean us harm. The obstacle to solving them is the president they serve.
Posted by Brett at 11:51 AM