I post articles because I think they are of interest. Doing so doesn’t mean that I necessarily agree with every—or any—opinion in the posted article. Nor that I disagree with them, of course.
Sorry for the lack of posts. We were on a short vacation, and time was limited. This should be long as I have a LOT of incoming e-mail! It may be more bad news than you can take in a day, so save and scroll through if you get to feeling cheerful.
Democrats engage in 'circular firing squad'
Excerpt: In a week when Congress finally passed financial regulatory reform and the oil finally stopped gushing in the gulf, Democrats spent much of their time on an enterprise they can ill afford: arguing among themselves. The Democrats' political mission is clear. They want to prevent Republicans from taking control of the House. But for five days they engaged in what one administration official called "a circular firing squad" over an accurate -- if incomplete -- assessment of the political climate voiced by White House press secretary Robert Gibbs. At a time when their goal is to persuade voters to see the fall elections as a choice, rather than a referendum on President Obama's leadership, this was an opportunity lost. "We're certainly not driving a contrast in this election when we're fighting among ourselves," a senior administration official lamented at the end of the week.
House Democrats hit boiling point over perceived lack of White House support
Excerpt: House Democrats are lashing out at the White House, venting long-suppressed anger over what they see as President Obama's lukewarm efforts to help them win reelection -- and accusing administration officials of undermining the party's chances of retaining the majority in November's midterm elections. In recent weeks, a widespread belief has taken hold among Democratic House members that they have dutifully gone along with the White House on politically risky issues -- including the stimulus plan, the health-care overhaul and climate change -- without seeing much, if anything, in return. Many of them are angry that Obama has actively campaigned for Democratic Senate candidates but has done fewer events for House members. The boiling point came Tuesday night during a closed-door meeting of House Democrats in the Capitol. Speaker Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) excoriated White House press secretary Robert Gibbs's public comments over the weekend that the House majority was in doubt and that it would take "strong campaigns by Democrats" to avert dramatic losses.
Republicans divided on the importance of an agenda for midterm elections
Excerpt: Sometime after Labor Day, House Minority Leader John A. Boehner plans to unveil a blueprint of what Republicans will do if they take back control of the chamber. He promises it will be a full plate of policy proposals that will give voters a clear sense of how they would govern. But will Republicans actually want to run on those ideas -- or any ideas? Behind the scenes, many are being urged to ignore the leaders and do just the opposite: avoid issues at all costs. Some of the party's most influential political consultants are quietly counseling their clients to stay on the offensive for the November midterm elections and steer clear of taking stands on substance that might give Democratic opponents material for a counterattack.
Harry Reid takes the lead over Sharron Angle in Nevada
By giving him he candidate he wanted, has the Tea Party movement re-elected Harry Reid? There motto is, better let liberals run the country than vote for anyone labeled a RINO by anyone. Excerpt: A new independent poll shows Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (Nev.) opening up a seven-point edge over former state Assemblywoman Sharron Angle -- by far the most encouraging survey of this election cycle for the top ranking Senate Democrat. Reid takes 44 percent to Angle's 37 percent in the poll, which was conducted for the Las Vegas Review-Journal by Mason Dixon Polling & Research. Since Angle emerged as the surprise winner of the Silver State's June 8 primary, Reid has engaged in a steady -- and clearly effective -- television campaign to define the former state legislator as outside of the Nevada political mainstream. He has run ads hitting Angle for past comments about abolishing Social Security and for her alleged opposition to saving a major construction project in downtown Vegas. Reid's onslaught has worked. In the Review Journal poll, Angle's unfavorable rating went from 25 percent in June to 43 percent now. Her favorable score fell from 38 percent to 33 percent. While the poll affirms what Republicans have been saying privately -- that Angle has not done well for herself since the primary -- there remain a few bright spots for the GOP.
Small Businesses Pay 33% of Rising Tort Costs Out-of-Pocket
Excerpt: A new study from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce shows that small businesses shoulder a sizable burden of the nation's tort liability costs, having paid $105.4 billion in 2008— a third of it out of their own pockets. According to the report, small businesses bore 81 percent of business tort liability costs but took in only 22 percent of revenue. The study, Tort Liability Costs for Small Businesses, also found that small businesses ($10 million or less in annual revenue) paid, collectively, $35.6 billion of these costs out-of-pocket rather than through insurance.
Can Joseph Cao win?
Excerpt: The day after Rep. Anh "Joseph" Cao's (R) December 2008 win in Louisiana's second district, House Minority Leader John Boehner sent a memo to House Republicans declaring: "The future is Cao." A year and a half later, Cao is widely viewed as one of the most vulnerable incumbents in Congress. His district -- the most Democratic seat represented by a Republican incumbent -- gave President Barack Obama 75 percent of the vote in 2008 and is almost 60 percent black, according to the 2001 Census. Before Cao, the district had not elected a Republican since 1888(!). Despite a deck stacked WAY against him, the freshman representative and first Vietnamese-American member of Congress -- who is running unopposed in the Republican primary -- says he's "very optimistic" about his chances this fall. Voters are looking for "strong, responsible leadership," Cao said in an interview with the Fix, adding that when it comes time to vote "people will see the hard work that we've put into the district in the past 18 months." Perhaps. But rhetoric is just, well, rhetoric. So, how could Cao possibly win in a seat this tilted against him? Here's the case he and his campaign make:
Obama's nominee to head Government Printing Office reimburses $3,100
Ho hum, another one. Excerpt: William J. Boarman, President Obama's nominee to lead the Government Printing Office, received and cashed about $3,100 in improper payments from the GPO in the past six years and repaid the funds Tuesday, according to government records. Boarman has been on leave without pay from the GPO since he took the first in a series of union positions in 1977. He currently serves as a senior vice president with the Communication Workers of America, the world's largest telecommunications union. The agency notified Boarman by letter on July 8 that it had improperly paid him because of administrative errors.
Obama's erosion among white voters continues
Excerpt: The latest Washington Post/ABC News poll shows President Obama's standing among white voters continuing to slip, a potentially ominous sign for his party with the midterm elections fast approaching. Just 40 percent of whites in the Post/ABC survey approve of the job Obama is doing, his lowest rating among this key demographic since the start of his presidency and well below the 50 percent approval number that he carries nationwide. Forty-three percent of white voters strongly disapprove of the job Obama is doing, while just 19 percent strongly approve. Among the other lowlights with whites in this poll for Obama: 54 percent of college-educated whites now disapprove of the job he is doing, and, among white college-educated women, Obama's approval numbers has dipped below 50 percent for the first time in his presidency in Post/ABC polling. Much of Obama's struggles with white voters seems directly attributable to the public's deep pessimism about the economy. (Ninety-four percent of whites polled rated the economy either not so good or poor.) Just over one in three whites (37 percent) approve of Obama's handling of the economy -- his worst rating among that demographic group ever. Forty-eight percent of white voters strongly disapprove of Obama's stewardship of the economy, while 13 percent strongly approve. It's interesting that Obama's flagging numbers on the economy have been driven not by white Republicans or white Independents but rather by white Democrats.
GOP senators float amendment to stop Arizona lawsuit
Excerpt: Two Republican senators announced Wednesday they will attempt to amend legislation to prevent the Obama administration from suing Arizona over its controversial immigration law. Sens. Jim DeMint (S.C.) and David Vitter (La.) said they would try to attach the language to small-business legislation set to be debated on the Senate floor next week.
Free the Children
Excerpt: Like most economists, I suffer occasional fits of exasperation when I read editorials by otherwise intelligent people who completely misunderstand even the most basic principles of economics. You would think a publication as erudite as The New York Times would insist that its op-ed writers actually know something about a subject if they are going to write about it. Alas, apparently that’s asking too much. The piece that offends at the moment was written by a woman who fondly recalls her own teenage babysitting experience in an unregulated market before arguing that no modern teen should be allowed to repeat it. Today’s teens, she says, should be barred from the market unless they have a minimum wage, maximum working hours, payroll taxes and even mandatory health insurance! My own view is diametrically opposite: What we need is a completely laissez-faire labor market — no taxes, no regulations, no nanny state bureaucrats to harass the nannies — for anyone under 21 years of age, provided the child’s parents give their permission.
Higher Taxes Lead To Slower Growth
Excerpt: Many people are worried about the United States' federal budget deficit and accumulating debt burden. In 2009 the federal budget deficit reached a record $1.4 trillion, and public debt (U.S. Treasury securities held by institutions and individuals outside the federal government) is currently more than $8 trillion and growing. The result of continued deficits is that the federal debt continues to grow, says William B. Conerly, a senior fellow with the National Center for Policy Analysis. Carmen Reinhart of the University of Maryland and Kenneth Rogoff of Harvard University have studied financial crises around the world, and find that when the debt to gross domestic product (GDP) ratio reaches 90 percent, "median growth rates fall 1 percent, and average growth falls considerably more." With the United States' debt to GDP ratio closing in on 90 percent, America may well anticipate slower growth. Congress and the White House may decide to trim some spending to help lower the debt to GDP ratio, but most expenditures are for entitlements. Here's a rough sketch of the 2015 planned expenditures: Interest will total approximately $571 billion. Other costs not part of entitlement programs or interest will be about $1.8 trillion. Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid will total about $2 trillion. Total outlays in 2015 will be approximately $4.4 trillion. Entitlement services make up nearly half of Congress' planned spending. Cutting costs in this area would lower the debt to GDP ratio considerably, but Congress is not likely "take away" entitlement services from people who are used to receiving them. Therefore, taxes must rise in order to avoid a debt crisis, explains Conerly. The bottom line is that we should expect weaker economic growth in the coming decade or two. The United States will look more like Europe, where higher marginal tax rates encourage people to work fewer hours and take longer vacations. We just will not be able to afford luxurious vacations. We will also spend more effort gaming the tax code, looking for tax shelters and dreaming up creative ways to avoid taxes, says Conerly.
Arizona's admirable immigration law: The statute mimics federal law and should be a national model. Pat McDonough, Baltimore Sun.com
Excerpt: The myths, misinformation and misleading rhetoric directed at Arizona's new immigration law are overwhelming. The Arizona law is nothing more than a duplication of portions of the existing federal Immigration Act, which has been in power for many years. However, that power has not been executed by numerous presidents, both Democrat and Republican. As a result, the states have had to enact their own legislation in order to protect citizens from the burdens created by illegal aliens. The federal Immigration Act has been challenged numerous times and found to be constitutionally sound. The constitutional scholar residing in the White House should know that if the federal version has passed muster, then certainly its replica in Arizona will receive the same judicial response. Clearly, the Obama administration's frivolous lawsuit is a political witch hunt. U.S. Attorney General Eric H. Holder, who promptly demonized the Arizona law before he even read it, does not include a complaint regarding the racial profiling allegations. Mr. Holder knows the Arizona law contains firm language protecting human rights, which even surpasses its federal counterpart's clause. (The application of the Immigration Act has produced a minuscule number of complaints by alleged victims of racial profiling.) The centerpiece of the government's lawsuit is the contention that Arizona has violated the "preemption and supremacy sections of the Constitution." However, in ruling after ruling, federal courts have asserted that as long as state laws do not conflict with or undermine federal laws, the "supremacy and preemption" sections are not a consideration. More than 400 laws and resolutions have been passed at the state level related to illegal immigration issues. These state policies have withstood a multitude of court challenges by the ACLU and other illegal-alien advocates. Most importantly, five previous anti-illegal-alien laws in Arizona have been challenged unsuccessfully. President Barack Obama is standing on quicksand as a legal foundation in his taxpayer-funded litigation adventure. It is ironic and indeed hypocritical that a state like Maryland, which brazenly violates the Federal Immigration Act by aiding and abetting illegals, is not challenged by President Obama. As one of America's leading "sanctuary states," Maryland has provided taxpayers' money to fund day labor centers, drivers' licenses services, education money, health care and the establishment of a multicultural mansion for CASA de Maryland.
Polls show that liberals love America less
Excerpt: A new survey shows that Americans, on average, are growing more patriotic. Among some predominantly liberal groups, however, patriotism is on the decline, and the gap between the left and the American public is widening. The two sides of the chasm reflect two distinct views of the United States. The USA Today/Gallup poll conducted in mid-June shows that 32 percent of Americans describe themselves as "extremely patriotic," the highest number in the reported data, up from 19 percent in 1999. The 2010 total represents an 8 point increase since the January 2002 survey, which was the first after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. The most patriotic groups of Americans are Republicans at 52 percent, conservatives at 48 percent and those over age 65 at 40 percent. The least patriotic are Democrats (20 percent), liberals (19 percent) and those aged 18 to 29 (22 percent). The most patriotic groups have seen double-digit increases in "extremely" patriotic sentiment since 2005, while the least patriotic groups have flat-lined or declined. When it comes to those with less patriotic fervor, among Democrats the percentages in the "somewhat" or "not especially" patriotic categories rose from 33 percent in 2005 to 37 percent, while among Republicans the number declined from 15 percent to 9 percent, with the "not especially" group being less than 0.5 percent. The study notes that it is "particularly intriguing" that 42 percent of Democrats are satisfied with the direction the country is heading while a mere 7 percent of the more patriotic Republicans agree. This 34 percent difference mirrors the 32 point patriotism gap between the two major parties. But feelings of patriotism should not be confused with a sense of complacency. Patriotism scores declined in the early 1990s after the end of the Cold War when the country seemed more secure and the future was less in doubt. The recent resurgence of patriotic sentiment is better viewed as a measure of concern over the direction the country is taking. As with the Minutemen in 1775, today's patriots are responding to a call to action. Among some quarters on the left, the expression "patriot" is synonymous with the Tea Party movement, which they consider reactionary and racist. This may explain in part why liberals are less willing to describe themselves as patriotic. The patriotism issue broadly parallels the battle lines of the culture war. Those brought up in an educational system. (Of course, there will be plenty of people who will say this poll is crap, because they don't like what it found. But USA Today and Gallup are not known to be heavily biased towards the Far Right, and Gallup sure knows how to run a poll properly. The data are not really terribly surprising, even though they certainly aren't encouraging. Naturally it must be kept in mind that statistics are about groups overall, so there certainly are liberals who are quite patriotic, and some conservatives who are not quite so patriotic. We can only take individuals as they are, not instantly judge them by whatever group to which we think they belong. –Del)
Excerpt: It's surreal to see President Obama play the class-warfare card against the Republicans while on his way to vacation on the tony Maine coast, and even more interesting to note that now gone are the days when the media used to caricature Bush I ("Poppy") for boating in the summer off the preppie-sounding Kennebunkport. The truth is that the real big money and the lifestyles that go with it are now firmly liberal Democratic. One can use an entire array of evidence — the preponderance of Wall Street money that went to Obama over McCain in 2008, the liberal voting patterns of the high-income blue-state congressional districts, the anecdotal evidence of a Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, or George Soros, or the ease by which an eco-populist like Al Gore buys estates and creates corporations, or the rarified tastes of men of the people like John Edwards of two-nations fame, or John Kerry of multiple estate residences. Bill Clinton was perhaps the first liberal president to embarrass progressive populists, who by rote caricatured those who played golf or amassed millions in post-presidential huckstering. The point is that Barack Obama's "them" rhetoric against those who supposedly make tons of money and won't pay enough in taxes to fund the Obama technocratic class's redistribution schemes seems almost fossilized. The more the polo-shirted Obama seems obsessed with golf, and the more he seems to prefer the landscape of the elite (who navigate the Ivy League, Silicon Valley, Hollywood, Upper East Side, Cambridge, etc.), the more we wonder whom exactly he's railing about. Is it the less-cultured wannabe wealthy who don't make enough not to be hurt by high taxes, who send their kids to Penn State or Purdue rather than Yale, who run hardware stores or paving companies instead of inheriting estates or being CEOs for green companies, and who vacation at the lake with their powerboats and jet skis rather than bike through Tuscany? In short, Obama had better get the populist photo-ops down a lot better, since his calls to soak the rich from the 18th hole or the coastal vacation home look increasingly ridiculous.
A Ten-Step Reset Regimen for the President
Excellent column, right on target. Excerpt: I offer a ten-step healing program for our president in the spirit of our therapeutic age. I am trying to be disinterested here, with no particular interest in what follows of either seeing his recovery in the polls, or even watching them sink further. My aim is only to point out how and why he is turning off thousands by the day. 1) Impose a moratorium on all the racial talk. After the beer summit, the “stupidly,” the “stereotyping,” the “cowards,” the Van Jones rants, the “wise Latina,” the suing Arizona, the exempting the Black Panthers, the al-Qaeda-as-racists (e.g., nine years after 9/11 we at last have a reason to really hate these terrorists), etc., we get the message that race permeates the presidential worldview — and that all issues, from those of terrorism to policing to immigration to the environment, are seen largely through racial us/them lenses. This obsession has turned off an increasing multi-racial nation, and is reaching the point of caricature. Take a deep breath, Mr. President, and promise to go through one day without self-referencing yourself as black, without speaking to an identity-politics group, and without reviewing the American past in terms of race. Just one day … 2) I’d quit the golf for a while — and for two reason
Obama imperils Americans allegedly to protect endangered species
No sweat. If the Pronghorns go extinct, they can always blame Bush. Or Global Warming. Excerpt: The battle to stem the flow of humanity across our southern border is hung up by concern for an endangered species. When the dust settles, curbing illegal immigration would be best for the two- and four-legged residents of America's Southwest. The Sonoran Pronghorn, which resembles an antelope, roams the desert regions of Arizona and Mexico, clinging to a precarious existence. Only about 100 of the creatures separate the species from extinction, and most inhabit a range within the Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge. The 1,000-square-mile refuge contains seven rugged mountain ranges and shares a 56-mile border with Mexico. Its desolation makes it a favorite gateway into U.S. territory for drug smugglers and illegal aliens, causing murder and mayhem in border communities. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) sought to install seven communications towers to spot intruders in the refuge as part of its virtual fence. According to a Fox News report Thursday, objections from environmentalists have resulted in a veto of the original tower proposal by the Obama administration's U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Now CBP wants to build just one tower, but even that is too much for Wilderness Watch, an environmentalist group. Its director, George Nickas, says the installation would invite human activity that could damage the animals' habitat.
Stolen Valor Act unconstitutional, federal judge rules
How about if I claim I’m a lawyer or a judge? Is that free speech as well? Excerpt. A federal judge in Denver has ruled that the Stolen Valor Act is "facially unconstitutional because it violates free speech, and he dismissed the criminal case against Rick Strandlof, a man who lied about being an Iraq war veteran. U.S. District Judge Robert E. Blackburn issued his decision Friday and rejected the prosecution's argument that lying about having military medals dilutes their meaning and significance. "This wholly unsubstantiated assertion is, frankly, shocking and, indeed, unintentionally insulting to the profound sacrifices of military personnel the Stolen Valor Act purports to honor," Blackburn wrote. "To suggest that the battlefield heroism of our servicemen and women is motivated in any way, let alone in a compelling way, by considerations of whether a medal may be awarded simply defies my comprehension." The Stolen Valor Act prohibits people from falsely claiming they have been awarded military decorations and medals. The act, signed into law in 2006, carries a punishment ranging from fines to six months in prison. (Another example of a judge making law, not enforcing it. If Congress makes it a crime to tell a specific kind of public lie, on whatever remotely reasonable basis they specify, then it is a crime and no longer just falls under Free Speech. But the idea "defies... comprehension" in the judge's eyes. That's nice, but it's a personal opinion, not a legal judgment. Hopefully this will get reversed in an upper court, and soon. –Del)
Newt on the crisis
Gingrich has been making a series of speeches about where we are and where we need to go. This is one of them, it is clear, logical, factual, and worth the time to watch and consider. His message is that we all need to get deadly serious about getting this nation back on track, and I cannot disagree with that. –Del
Muslims rioting in France, burning cars over killing of Muslim casino robber who shot at cops
Excerpt: The guy robbed a casino, was fleeing from police, and fired upon his pursuers. He was killed. He was a Muslim. Now Muslims are rioting. A clearer indication of what they think of Western law enforcement and Western justice could not possibly be found
Christians flee violence by Islamic extremists in Faisalabad
Excerpt: A large number of Christians has fled Waris Pura, on the outskirts of Faisalabad, fearing violence, after Muslims launched a protest action that started at a local mosque after Friday prayers. The risk of attacks against Christians and their property is very high, a source in Faisalabad told AsiaNews, choosing anonymity for security reasons. Yesterday, hundreds of Islamic militants joined a protest march, calling for the death of two Christian brothers accused of blasphemy. During the procession, the mob stoned a Catholic church. An alleged booklet with offensive words about Prophet Muhammad is the reason for the rising tensions.
3 Hindu Girls raped and brutally tortured by Jihadis in West Bengal
Excerpt: The girls were molested, raped and brutally tortured in broad daylight. Nobody came in their rescue as the area is Muslim area.
Iran Pastor Facing Execution
Excerpt: A well-known Iranian pastor faces execution after two judges agreed to make him "liable to capital punishment," as part of a crackdown on the growing Protestant church movement in the Islamic nation, BosNewsLife learned Tuesday, July 13. Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani was detained in June along with wife Fatemeh Pasandideh in the city of Rasht in northwestern Iran because of their Christian activities, Iranian Christians said.
Weapons Inspectors Can’t Disarm Iran
Excerpt: Tehran’s belligerent rhetoric about its nuclear program ratchets up daily, while the international community continues to push for tougher sanctions. The hope is that economic pressure can force Iran to the bargaining table, where it will agree to abandon its weapons capabilities—and that such disarmament will be verified by inspections. As a former weapons inspector, I have very bad news: A weapons-inspection regime in Iran will not work. Inspection and verification are often viewed as ways to prevent a country from developing nuclear weapons. This is well beyond the capabilities of any conceivable inspection regime, especially given Iran’s status as an almost-nuclear-capable state. The fact that inspectors must let Tehran carry out its civilian-nuclear effort while policing the military program makes the task largely unachievable. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) would need access to all of the infrastructure that could possibly aid in fashioning a nuclear weapon and potential delivery systems. They also would need a full and complete declaration of all Tehran’s nuclear components, all of its uranium enrichment, all of its plutonium-related activities, and all missile testing, production and deployment sites.
Yes, A Period of Consequences
Excerpt: Last month, we published an editorial under the title “A Period of Consequences.” The phrase was taken from a speech in the House of Commons in late 1936 in which Winston Churchill warned: “The era of procrastination, of half-measures, of soothing and baffling expedients, of delays is coming to its close. In its place we are entering a period of consequences.” In the editorial, we lamented the procrastination, half-measures, soothing and baffling expedients, and delays that have characterized U.S. policy toward Iran’s nuclear program. We argued that U.S. military action to stop the program was preferable to a nuclear Iran, and urged the Obama administration to keep open (and plan for) the possibility of such action. Reuel Marc Gerecht makes the case in our pages this week that an Israeli strike would also be better than no strike at all. This is certainly the case. Still, American action is preferable, and desirable. But looking at the world in the summer of 2010, we’re struck that we have entered a period of consequences on many more fronts than just the Iranian nuclear program. Churchill’s words seem to capture all too many aspects of the present moment.
The Right To Nullify This Government
Excerpt: Every couple of years the same drearily predictable charade repeats itself. This time we’re really going to limit government! Or so they tell us. We on the Right then dutifully compose our letters to the editor, attend rallies, and vote for candidates without whom, we are breathlessly assured, we shall all revert instantly to barbarism. And no matter who wins, the federal government grows and grows. The Right gets a bunch of pretty speeches, and the Left gets the victories. The passive approach of crossing our fingers and hoping Washington will follow the Constitution has not worked. The only surprising thing about it is that anyone could have expected it to work in the first place. It is long past time for those of us who want to confine the federal government to its constitutional limits to try something different. The time has come to revisit nullification, the quintessentially American mode of resistance against federal lawlessness that Thomas Jefferson urged as an essential ingredient of our political system. In the Kentucky Resolutions of 1798, Jefferson insisted that the states needed a way to defend themselves against unconstitutional exercises of power by the federal government. Jefferson’s fear was that if the federal government had a monopoly on defining the scope of its own powers, it would be constantly discovering new ones. Likewise, James Madison urged in the Virginia Resolutions of 1798 that the states were “duty bound to resist” when the federal government violated the Constitution. (The reader will not be surprised to learn that Bill Clinton held no White House soiree in honor of the two hundredth anniversary of these documents in 1998.)
Fox and the Saudi bagman
Excerpt: It's official now – Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal has announced plans to launch a 24-hour Arabic-language TV news channel in partnership with Rupert Murdoch's Fox. This deepens the relationship between the Saudi prince and the Fox News Channel that so many Americans rely on as the "fair and balanced" alternative to ABC, CBS, NBC and CNN. He was already a major, one might even say pivotal, stockholder in Fox's parent company, News Corp. It is a relationship that compromises the integrity of Fox News now and into the future. Alwaleed is not just any Saudi prince. He's, frankly, a notorious one. He's the nephew of Saudi King Abdullah. You might remember Alwaleed for his moment of infamy in the landscape of American political culture: In October 2001, right after the World Trade Center destruction at the hands of primarily Saudi terrorists, New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani famously turned down his offer of a $10 million donation for disaster relief after Alwaleed suggested U.S. policies in the Middle East were actually to blame for the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. A few years ago, Alwaleed, who then owned 5.5 percent of the Fox News Channel's parent company, News Corp., boasted of his influence on the network's principal owner, Rupert Murdoch, and explained how he persuaded him to alter on-air content about "Muslim riots" in France to make them more palatable to adherents of Islam. More recently, Alwaleed and Murdoch greatly expanded their business partnerships to give Murdoch a significant stake in Middle East television programming and advertising. Now it's a partnership on a new Arab-language TV news channel.
Car bomb in Juárez mimics Middle East terrorist tactics
Excerpt: The car bombing in Juárez on Thursday in which three people were killed signifies an escalation of brutality and sophistication in the city's 2-year-old drug war, officials said.
Juárez officials on Friday confirmed a car bomb with C-4 plastic explosives was detonated from a remote location. Local experts said the Juárez and Sinaloa drug cartels apparently have adopted terrorists' tactics that use suicide bombers and car bombs to kill foes or to make a point.
"It certainly seems like they've taken a page out of the Middle East," said Richard Schwein, the former FBI special agent in charge of the El Paso office. "The cartels read the news and they hear about what is happening in the Middle East with the use of car bombs and suicide bombers. I don't think they will ever use suicide bombers here, but car bombs are easy to make and to use."
Another Tack: It’s only a paper moon
Excerpt: You just gotta feel for poor Barack Obama, so misunderstood, so misquoted, so taken out of context. And it so keeps on happening. Over and over. It almost smacks of a malicious design to misrepresent. Take the latest instance, for instance. There was Obama’s own hand-picked (first African- American) NASA administrator, Charles Bolden, telling Al Jazeera that Obama himself stressed to him that henceforth NASA’s principal goals are to encourage children to learn math and science, expand international relationships and “foremost, he wanted me to find a way to reach out to the Muslim world and engage much more with dominantly Muslim nations to help them feel good about their historic contribution to science... and math and engineering.” Here we ought to remind ourselves that NASA is the acronym for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, lumbered with such mundane uninspiring chores as space exploration, scientific discovery and aeronautics research. Obama is evidently out to alter emphases. But when Bolden spelled it out, White House and NASA spokespersons rushed to explain that nothing is exactly what it seems. Improving relations with Muslim countries, they averred, is NASA’s mission, though it needn’t be counted as its “foremost responsibility.” Appearances plainly supersede substance. No fault is found with the fact that “outreach to Muslims” at all features on NASA’s to-do list, as long as it’s not perceived as the top item on said list. Often, as in this case, Obama gets away with skewing the agenda of the world’s sole superpower. His fervent fans acclaim any oddball initiative as sophisticated pluralism and moral-relativist broad-mindedness. For regular folks, the preposterousness Obama promotes is so egregious they cannot imagine any of it is for real.
Obama’s Dog Gets Own Plane on Vacation Trip
Excerpt: The Morning Sentinel, a small paper from the state of Maine, has a travelogue story of the Obama's vacation in and about Maine today. It has a very interesting little tidbit in it that should enrage every American. It is something that really shows Barack Obama's arrogance and his obviously assumed air of noblesse oblige. Among the exciting details of the Obama's visit to Acadia National Park in Bar Harbor is this tidbit: Arriving in a small jet before the Obamas was the first dog, Bo, a Portuguese water dog given as a present by the late U.S. Sen Ted Kennedy, D-Mass.…
Canadian Mother Who Strangled Daughter Won't Be Jailed, Judge Rules
Excerpt: A judge's decision to free a Canadian mother convicted of strangling her 14-year-old daughter with a head scarf has prompted growing outrage from victims' advocates groups. A suspended sentence was given to Aset Magomadova, 40, by Court of Queen's Bench Justice Sal LoVecchio on Thursday, stunning a national victims' group based in Toronto, the Vancouver Sun reports. "I really strongly disagree," said Joe Wamback, founder and chairman of the Canadian Crime Victims Foundation. "It sends a message to the rest of the community and the world that her daughter's life was valueless."
The Russian Agents, Obama, and the Cover-Up
Excerpt: Our media do not seem to be interested in the curious matter of why the Russian agents accused of trying to acquire sensitive nuclear information from the U.S. Government were so quickly released. Why were they were sent back to Moscow less than two weeks after they were arrested? It is certainly the case that a continuing spy scandal threatened to undermine U.S.-Russia business “opportunities” and “cooperation.” It is also true that there is evidence that the Russian agents targeted the Obama Administration and former Clinton Administration officials.
Should Israel Bomb Iran?
Excerpt: There is only one thing that terrifies Washington’s foreign policy establishment more than the prospect of an American airstrike against Iran’s nuclear-weapons facilities: an Israeli airstrike. Left, right, and center, “sensible” people view the idea with alarm. Such an attack would, they say, do great damage to the United States in Iraq and Afghanistan, where Tehran would counterattack, punishing “the Great Satan” (America) for the sins of “the Little Satan” (Israel). An Israeli strike could lead to the closing of the world’s oil passageway, the Strait of Hormuz; prompt Muslims throughout the world to rise up in outrage; and spark a Middle Eastern war that might drag in the United States. Barack Obama’s “New Beginning” with Muslims, such as it is, would be over the moment Israeli bunker-busting bombs hit. An Israeli “preventive” attack, we are further told, couldn’t possibly stop the Islamic Republic from developing a nuke, and would actually make it more likely that the virulently anti-Zionist supreme leader, Ali Khamenei, would strike Israel with a nuclear weapon. It would also provoke Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps to deploy its terrorist assets against Israel and the United States. Hezbollah, the Islamic Revolution’s one true Arab child, would unleash all the missiles it has imported from Tehran and Damascus since 2006, the last time the Party of God and the Jewish state collided. (When you call this up, notice the posting date of 26 July 2010. I suspect the article got posted earlier than intended. This is an in-depth and comprehensive overview of the relationship between Israel, Jews, Islam, and Iran. It isn't pretty, but may well be valid. –Ron P.)
The Media are Not Exempt
Excerpt: The other major enabler of President Obama is the mainstream media. When will they collectively come to their senses and begin to realize that this new and transformed America as envisioned by this President and his radical cohorts will be one that they too will have to live in? That they and their progeny will not be exempt from confiscatory taxes, onerous regulations, stagnant job creation, and a dramatically eroded and rationed health care system. This march to the media's present role of being in league with the Obama administration is the culmination of the good versus evil bias of modern journalism. The contemporary process of determining who were the righteous and who the villains were began over 45 years ago. In the 1960's a social revolution took place against historical and societal norms. An era of peace and prosperity unprecedented in the history of mankind was underway in the United States, allowing a new generation, who had never experienced hardship on a massive scale, to focus on hedonistic pursuits, self-aggrandizement and a search for meaning in their lives. This movement was promptly seized by the true-believers of the Left as a recruiting tool; Leftists proclaimed to the gullible that the United States was an unjust, repressive tool of capitalism. The siren song of a classless society wherein all are treated fairly and there are no absolutes found eager ears. The protests against the Vietnam War and then the very necessary civil rights movement, which achieved so much, were hijacked by many of the post-depression generation into a call to overthrow all of society's foundational standards. The protests surrounding the Vietnam War and then Watergate, that most infamous of scandals, not only gave rise to the resignation of a President but accelerated the virulent polarization of politics and the beginning of the end of the impartial mainstream media. As a consequence of the media's perception of their role in ending the Vietnam War and Watergate, the press began to look upon themselves not as neutral reporters of the news but rather as a crusaders out to right the wrongs, as they perceived them, of the United States.... As further incentive, the journalists who successfully assumed the role of "societal avenger" were feted by their fellow scribes, became celebrities and coincidently achieved great wealth. This, in addition to any so-called noble calling to transform the United States, became a vital part of the metamorphoses of journalism from news gathering to news manipulation and the naïve promotion of a radical leftist ideology. Over the intervening years and into the present, the far-Left effectively promoted: 1) the false and unfounded libel of a desire by conservatives to turn the United States into a theocracy and, 2) guilt for the nation's past and one's success. These tactics became the basis for many of the gullible in the media to promote the policies of the Progressives without understanding what in fact the end game was. It became more important and fashionable for a majority in the media to protect their lifestyles against the "right-wing horde" descending upon them and to assuage their guilt rather than comprehend what was happening around them, or the controlling agenda they unwittingly supported. Thus the coverage of news stories concerning conservative issues or politicians became notable for vitriol and deliberate slanting or omission of facts. Polls, commissioned by the media and easily manipulated, were substituted for news and real reporting. Every personal failure of a Republican politician was amplified into a national outcry. All civility and traditional objectivity was rejected when discussing the (predeterminedly) evil conservatives.
American Jeopardy: What is Fascism?
Excerpt: Over the years, words lose meaning and often take on new forms that in no way represent their original usage. This can be observed in the now taboo word "fascism." Fascism is now most closely associated with the system of government that effected the slaughter of over 6 million Jews and other political prisoners. But at its core, fascism is really no more than a system where government, through agreements with the private sector, controls virtually all property and income indirectly. Prosperity and economic growth become the domain of government. The philosophical aim is to eliminate recessions by eliminating robust growth -- the underlying philosophy being that if there is no boom, there will be no bust. This system usually appeals to populations coming out of severe economic depressions and upheaval, as in pre-Nazi Germany during the period of the 1930s. The problem with the system is obvious: property-owning democracy must take a back seat to the interests of the state. And, by blurring the distinction between the private sector and the public sector, individual liberty can often be conditioned on complicity with state aims, as manifested in the private sector sphere.... Fascism is, however, correctly associated with tyranny since nations that employ the tenets of fascism almost always transition from a republican or parliamentary form of government to some sort of personality cult usually centered on an economic "savior." Fascism requires extensive state control, and if this control is not centralized in a singular personality, the results will be muddied and plagued with excessive overlap. Many envisioned President Obama in this way prior to the election, and President Obama certainly did not hesitate to utilize workers' paradise imagery during his campaign.
Is the Tea Party Racist?
Excerpt: The charge that the Tea Party is racist is a perfect object lesson in liberal misinterpretation of conservatives. It is, of all the charges leveled against the Tea Party movement, the most inflammatory and the most politically damaging. Yet the accusation says more about the accusers than the accused. Critics of the Tea Party point to a smattering of racist signs at rallies around the country, to the low percentage of minorities involved in the movement, and to a study that purports to show high levels of "racial resentment" among tea party supporters. These arguments are, however, mere justifications for a position already taken. Liberals were inclined to believe Tea Partiers racist even before such "evidence" was available. That is, the belief that Tea Partiers are racist is not an evidence-based belief. It is a belief in search of evidence. What I propose, then, is the Theory of the Missing Motive. Since the education establishment has failed to convey a thorough and unprejudiced perspective on differing political points of view, even highly educated liberals possess a cartoonish, easily-dismissed image of American conservative thought. Liberals cannot believe that Tea Partiers are actually motivated by the passions and the reasons that Tea Partiers claim motivate them, because liberals in general are alienated from those passions and insufficiently educated in those reasons. (This is quite a 5-page essay. It digs deeply into why the accusation is made in the first place and comes up with some interesting possible answers. Well worth reading. Ron P.)
Great video editorial by Richmond Times-Dispatch
Recommended. Who’s a racist?
The Psychology of Recession
Excerpt: I asked a businessman two weeks ago why he said that he was neither hiring nor buying new equipment. He started in on “rising taxes.” “But wait,” I interrupted. I pointed out that income-tax hikes haven’t taken effect. The old FICA income caps are also still applicable. Health-care surcharges haven’t hit us yet. He countered with “regulations” and “bailouts.” I said, “Come on, get specific.” He offered up “cap and trade” and “the Chrysler creditors.” I parried with more demands that he tell me exactly how the federal government has suddenly curbed his profit margins, or how his electric bill had gone up since January 2009, or whether he had lost money on any investment because the government had violated a contract. Exasperated, he talked now instead of more cosmic issues — the astronomical borrowing, the staggering national debt, and the new protectionism. I pressed again, “But aren’t interest rates historically low? Inflation is almost non-existent, isn’t it? New products are still comparatively cheap? Rents and new business property are at bargain-basement prices?” This give-and-take went on for ten minutes; but you get the picture. Private enterprise is wary, hesitant, even frightened, but nevertheless hard pressed to demonstrate in concrete fashion how Obama has quite ruined them in just 18 months. So why are a lot of cash-solvent financial firms, banks, and manufacturing companies not hiring, not expanding, and not buying new operating equipment as they did in past bottoming-out recessions. In a word, fear. Remember that capitalism is in large part psychologically driven. Confidence, optimism, and a sense of calm about the future foster risk and investment, while worry, pessimism, and a sense of foreboding ensure timidity and stasis.
BARACKRACY, PART 2
Excerpt: “The people of the U.S. owe their Independence & their liberty, to the wisdom of descrying in the minute tax of 3 pence on tea, the magnitude of the evil comprised in the precedent. Let them exert the same wisdom, in watching against every evil lurking under plausible disguises, and growing up from small beginnings.” --James Madison In Part 1 of this essay, “Breaking the Back of Free Enterprise,” I noted, “Barack Hussein Obama’s macro agenda to accomplish the ‘fundamental transformation of America’ is to break the back of capitalism and, in the ensuing crisis, use government intervention to replace it with a more refined socialist economic framework than the one currently in place.” I then posited the question, “Is there still time to restore the primacy of free enterprise over Socialism and turn back Obama and his Leftist ilk?” The short answer is yes. I believe there is still time to implement political solutions to reverse course and restore Essential Liberty, constitutional Rule of Law and its economic expression, free enterprise. But that window is closing.
Obama's next act
Excerpt: In the political marketplace, there's now a run on Obama shares. The left is disappointed with the president. Independents are abandoning him in droves. And the right is already dancing on his political grave, salivating about November when, his own press secretary admitted Sunday, Democrats might lose the House. I have a warning for Republicans: Don't underestimate Barack Obama. Consider what he has already achieved. Obamacare alone makes his presidency historic. It has irrevocably changed one-sixth of the economy, put the country inexorably on the road to national health care and, as acknowledged by Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus but few others, begun one of the most massive wealth redistributions in U.S. history. Second, there is major financial reform, which passed Congress on Thursday. Economists argue whether it will prevent meltdowns and bailouts as promised. But there is no argument that it will give the government unprecedented power in the financial marketplace. Its 2,300 pages will create at least 243 new regulations that will affect not only, as many assume, the big banks but just about everyone, including, as noted in one summary (the Wall Street Journal), "storefront check cashiers, city governments, small manufacturers, home buyers and credit bureaus."
84 companies added to ‘leaving California’ list
Excerpt: A list of companies moving out of or expanding outside California has grown by 84 since the start of the year, says Joe Vranich, Irvine consultant who specializes in relocating companies.
Washington Post Plans to Out Companies and Individuals Doing Intelligence Work
Excerpt: This morning I received this memo from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. In it, the ODNI advises its “industry partners,” that is those corporations and individuals who do work to assist the security of the country, that the Washington Post is planning on outing them. Early next week, the Washington Post is expected to publish articles and an interactive website that will likely contain a compendium of government agencies and contractors allegedly conducting Top Secret work. The website is expected to enable users to see the relationships between the federal government and its contractors, describe the type of work the contractors perform, and may identify many government and contractor facility locations. Um . . . what? The memo says the Post will begin running the stories on July 19, 2010, which must be the start of ratings week or something. I’m also told that the Obama Administration, outside of the intelligence corridor, is “basically cool with it.” Cool with this? Seriously? There’s this paragraph: Foreign intelligence services, terrorist organizations, and criminal elements will have potential interest in this kind of information. It is important that companies review their overall counterintelligence posture to ensure that it is appropriate. Specifically, we recommend that companies affected by this publication and website assess and take steps to mitigate risk to their workforce, facility and mission, to the extent consistent with your contractual relationship with ODNI. These steps should include re-enforcement of security and counterintelligence protections and steps to enhance workforce awareness. CI and security events related to the publication of these articles and website should be reported through normal company channels to the MSC/Security office. For the time being, thresholds should be lowered to aggressively report anomalous behavior. Remember the left cheering when the New York Times did this stuff to the Bush Administration? Somehow I suspect they’ll still actually cheer for this, which won’t exactly do anything to reassure the American people that those in charge are good on national security issues.
Breaking Ranks When The Heat Is On: What Happens When Amateurs Go To War (With Each Other)
Excerpt: I have long maintained that while this administration is great at running campaigns, it is a miserable failure at actually running an administration. It has become rudderless with too many people competing to steer the ship. One minute Rahm Emanuel calls the shots. The next it is Valerie Jarrett or David Axelrod or Robert Gibbs. Then back to Rahm and over to Patrick Gaspard, etc. Save for Emanuel, we see a group of amateurs sailing the ship of state and fighting on the battlefield of policy and politics. And we are beginning to see what happens when the heat is on, the metaphorical bullets are flying, and the amateurs are in charge. They break ranks, cut, and run. And along the way, they are throwing the President of the United States under the bus.
Excerpt: Climategate is media shorthand for the debate over the content of thousands of emails and documents that were released without authorization from the University of East Anglia's Climatic Research Unit. At its core, the scandal was as much about the integrity of the scientific process as it was about the quality of the science. Leading climate scientists were caught advising each other to delete potentially compromising emails, stonewall freedom of information requests and game the peer review process to exclude contributions from skeptical colleagues. The Climategate emails also revealed a habit among climate scientists of trimming their scientific sails to the political winds, sometimes by emphasizing temperature and environmental trends at the alarmist end of the spectrum. "I tried hard to balance the needs of the science with the IPCC, which were not always the same," wrote East Anglia climatologist Keith Briffa to Penn State's Michael Mann in April 2007. The IPCC, or Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, is the U.N. body whose lengthy reports are supposed to be the gold standard for what the world knows about climate change. For anyone who believes that science benefits from transparency, Climategate was a very good thing. The scandal prompted reporters, bloggers, independent scientists and parliamentary committees to take a closer look at the "settled science." A widely cited claim by the IPCC that Himalayan glaciers would all but vanish by 2035 was debunked. Another stunner about a potential 40% decline in the Amazonian rainforest "appears to have absolutely no scientific basis at all," according to Roger Pielke, Jr., an environmental studies professor at the University of Colorado. Other attention-getting IPCC assertions turn out to have been based on the work of environmental pressure groups and popular magazines. At a minimum, then, Climategate ought to have prompted some soul-searching among climate scientists about the need for greater openness, less politics and a more balanced treatment of the data. Which makes it all the more unfortunate that last week's "Independent Climate Change Email Review," commissioned and funded by the University of East Anglia and chaired by Muir Russell, the former Vice Chancellor of the University of Glasgow, amounts to a 160-page evasion of the real issues.
Democrats have paid for unemployment benefits before, why won’t they do it again?
Excerpt: Here’s the narrative being peddled by Republicans as they weather an assault by Senate and House Democrats over their refusal to sign on to an unfunded extension of unemployment benefits: For Democrats to offset unemployment benefits with stimulus dollars would undermine their claim that the stimulus will continue to create and save jobs. It’s to Democrats’ advantage, then, for the party that controls both houses of Congress to let 2.1 million people go without their unemployment benefits in order to cast Republicans as heartless monsters. But is it true? According to a Politifact analysis from July 1, Senate Republicans indeed agreed to pass emergency unemployment benefits. Minority Leader Mitch McConnell proposed “adjusting Medicaid payments, trimming stimulus-funded food stamps in 2014, cutting $600 million in stimulus-supported programs to expand broadband Internet access and eliminating a provision letting qualified residents receive their earned-income tax credit throughout the year instead at the end of the tax filing season. Democrats have had four chances to extend benefits, which they’ve rejected,” a senior GOP Senate aide told The Daily Caller. “We’ve offered to extend the benefits, offset by stimulus money. Their argument was, ‘You can’t use stimulus money as an offset because we don’t think stimulus money should be used as an offset.’”
Blago trial produces no bombshells but casts doubt on Obama’s truthfulness
Excerpt: The Blago trial went to intermission this week after government prosecutors rested their case a month ahead of schedule. The case holds national interest primarily because of former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s connections to President Obama, and because of the potential that information damaging to the White House might emerge during testimony. Here’s the good news and the bad news so far for Obama. Good news: there has been no evidence that Obama or anyone in his circle ever came close to discussing or offering a quid pro quo to former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich in exchange for an appointment of Valerie Jarrett to replace Obama in the Senate seat he was vacating.... Bad news: Obama has clearly not told the whole truth in the past about his involvement in trying to get Jarrett to replace him, and the degree to which he pushed her.
'Climategate' debate: less meltdown, more well-mannered argument
Excerpt: Something remarkable happened last night in the polarised world of "warmists" versus "sceptics": a candid but not rancorous public debate. I'm sure you'll correct me if I'm wrong but, to my knowledge, never before have all sides of this frequently poisonous debate shared a stage. The outcome was illuminating. With no little effort, I had persuaded a star panel to convene to discuss the fall out from the "Climategate" affair which followed the exposure of 1,000 private emails between climate scientists at the University of East Anglia's Climatic Research Unit and their international colleagues. Three inquiries had emphasised that the science of global warming remained clear and that the scientists had not fiddled their data but also that there had been serious shortcomings in the transparency with which they worked and in how they dealt with freedom of information requests. So almost 300 people squeezed into Riba in London last night, ready to witness a fight. Instead, they were treated to a heated argument, in the best sense of that word, with my colleague George Monbiot, who chaired magnificently, only having to threaten one heckler with ejection (yes, Piers Corbyn, it was you). There's a news story here, but here's my take on the panellists and the debate: (What I'm finding in the blogosphere is that the debate was spirited but courteous, and most view it as a draw--which is a huge improvement for the sceptical side, as it means they are now being taken seriously. Last week, we posted about how readers at Climate Audit blog had contributed money to send Steve McIntyre of Canada to London for this event when The Guardian clouldn't/wouldn't pay for his trip. This post is from Damian Carrington, a journalist member of the audience. Within the posted story is a link to The Guardian's news coverage (recommended reading), and for those with the time to spend, there is also a link to an audio recording (98+ minutes) of the whole thing. To quote Joe Biden, "This is a BFD." Ron P.)
Is a Big Tax Break for Plaintiffs’ Lawyers on the Way?
Excerpt: Will a recent Ninth Circuit ruling mean that plaintiffs’ attorneys get a huge tax break?
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Legal Newsline reported on Wednesday that the U.S. Department of Treasury may be about to grant plaintiffs’ attorneys long-sought tax write-offs for the costs associated with fronting contingency-fee lawsuits. Legal Newsline cited a speech at the American Association for Justice, the trade association for the trial bar, in Vancouver where one of the group’s leaders told members he’s expecting a Treasury ruling on the write-offs soon. So are the rumors true? For now, Treasury isn’t commenting. Apparently at the heart of the matter is an April letter Sens. Max Baucus (D., Mont.) and Richard Durbin (D., Ill.) sent to Michael Mundaca, assistant secretary for tax policy seeking clarity on the 9th Circuit ruling in the 1995 case of Boccardo v. Commissioner. In the Boccardo case, the IRS asserted that out-of-pocket expenses incurred by attorneys on behalf of clients while prosecuting contingency cases are not deductible because the law firm expects reimbursement upon getting a settlement or judgment. The Tax Court agreed. The 9th Circuit took up the matter. The letter sums up the ruling like this: The court “held that attorneys who represent clients in contingency fee cases may treat litigation costs that are paid by the attorneys, such as filing fees and witness expenses as deductible ordinary and necessary business expenses . . . when the attorney and client agree to a specific fee arrangement known as a gross fee contract.”
Attacks on Freedom
Excerpt: Something's happened to America, and it isn't good. It's become easier to get into trouble. We've become a nation of a million rules. Not the kind of bottom-up rules that people generate through voluntary associations. Those are fine. I mean imposed, top-down rules formed in the brains of meddling bureaucrats who think they know better than we how to manage our lives. Cross them, and we are in trouble. The National Marine Fishery Service (NMFS) received an anonymous fax that a seafood shipment to Alabama from David McNab contained "undersized lobster tails" and was improperly packed in clear plastic bags, rather than the cardboard boxes allegedly required under Honduran law. When the $4 million shipment arrived, NMFS agents seized it. McNab served eight years in prison, even though the Honduran government informed the court that the regulation requiring cardboard boxes had been repealed.
Obama Family Cook Named Policy Adviser
I’m hoping this is a joke. Excerpt: In a comical move even for a czar-happy president who has rewarded dozens of cronies with distinguished titles, the White House has named the Obama’s personal Chicago cook as “Senior Policy Adviser for Healthy Food Initiatives.” It’s no joke, even though is sounds like a bad one. The Chicago chef’s rapid ascension, reported this week by a conservative Washington D.C. newspaper, has been kept under the radar for the last month. Sam Kass went from being a 20-something, Windy City gourmet cook—privately paid by the Obama’s to feed them—to big-time White House adviser in a matter of months. In between, Michelle Obama made Kass a “Food Initiative Coordinator” for her new healthy nutrition program which is supposed to eliminate childhood obesity within a generation, especially in the nation’s inner cities. The First Lady claims that childhood obesity is a threat to national security and a crisis equivalent to AIDS and youth violence. Because it’s such a dire situation, she has convinced her husband’s administration to spend $400 million a year to bring “healthy foods” to low-income neighborhoods and $10 billion to revise a decades-old federal measure that already feeds tens of millions of poor children at school for free. This culinary revolution no doubt requires a trusted senior policy adviser—like Kass—who is an expert in healthy cuisine. The First Lady refers to her cook as a “partner in crime” and says it’s “just pretty powerful” to see what started out as talk in her South Side Chicago kitchen turn into a major initiative that “hopefully will change the way we think as a country.” Makes you wonder what Kass, who also doubles as a White House chef, has been putting in the Obama’s food all these years. Incidentally, the “most transparent administration” in history doesn’t want Americans to know how much the famous family cook earns. Although he’s an important administration wonk, Kass’s salary is excluded in the Annual Report to Congress on White House Staff because he’s considered “residence staff” and those salaries don’t need to be disclosed.
A Phone Call from the Associated Press
Excerpt: Yesterday, late afternoon, my telephone rang and the caller ID revealed it was the Associated Press. Since I am a petroleum engineer I rather suspected it would be another call related to the BP situation in the Gulf of Mexico. To my surprise, the AP reporter who rang me was inquiring about the Keystone Pipeline. She wanted to know if allowing the pipeline to operate up to 80% rather than 72% would be dangerous. I explained that pipelines are designed with safety factors (materials are selected with large safety factors), and that as long as the operating pressure didn't exceed burst pressure everything would be fine. She seemed dissatisfied with my answer...
The Parade of Bleeding Stumps
Excerpt: As public spending becomes an increasingly important issue for the November elections, be prepared to see the left engaging in hysterical scare-mongering about the potential effect of spending cuts. This has been seen recently in Britain, where such scare-mongering already has its own label -- "The Parade of the Bleeding Stumps." This unsavory phrase originates in British government bureaucracy and darkly refers to the Civil Service's clever response to the threat of spending cuts. The idea is that whenever cuts in a department are demanded by elected ministers, civil service bureaucrats respond by ignoring the many cases of waste, inefficiency, or general uselessness in the department, and instead tell the minister that the only way to cut spending is to axe necessary or politically important services and initiatives. So for example, when a government minister demands cuts to a hospital, the bureaucrats hide the two hundred administrators in a back room and haul out the battered and bruised hospital patients (aka the "bleeding stumps") to show the minister "who will be hurt most by spending cuts." The hope is that the minister will then back down, realizing that cutting funding would be politically unfeasible.... It is this debate that is being shaped for the November elections in America. The Republicans want to cut spending, while Obama and Co. will argue for more tax hikes. Yet Obama and his cronies are not stupid; they know that the debate as currently framed is one they will lose. An election fought on "small state, low tax vs. big state, high tax" will result in Republican landslides. Therefore, the Democrats will imitate the British left and organize a parade of bleeding stumps -- a parade that conservatives should be prepared for. They will seek to frame the fight not on ideological grounds, but on soft emotional terms. So expect to see reasoned debate about debt levels and a stagnant economy drowned out by the Dems' flood of "impassioned pleas" (or hysterical scare-mongering) to voters -- not to vote for spending cuts that will "hurt the most vulnerable in our society," but instead to vote for "a compassionate society that will make sure no American is overlooked, and that the weakest are provided for."
Obama’s Race War
Excerpt: Fast forward 132 years. Racial violence is becoming a norm around the nation. The city of Oakland, for reasons both racial and economic, has announced that it will stop using police to investigate grand theft, burglary, car wrecks, identity theft and vandalism. The Justice Department is suing the state of Arizona for cracking down on illegal immigration—a blatant attempt by the Obama administration to woo Hispanic voters by making it more difficult for Arizona law enforcement to crack down on Hispanic illegal offenders. The Obama Justice Department has also dropped an investigation into the New Black Panther Party for voter intimidation, despite the fact that videotape shows members of the New Black Panther Party wielding clubs outside a voting place. Attorney General Eric Holder has announced that the Justice Department will investigate the shooting of a black career criminal in Oakland, after the white police officer who committed the shooting was convicted of involuntary manslaughter. But Holder has said nothing about the massive looting, largely by minorities, that followed the verdict. Meanwhile, the Obama administration continues to ramp up the anti-white rhetoric. This is nothing new. Holder famously called us a “nation of cowards” on racial matters last year; Obama himself called his white grandmother a “typical white person” and blasted the Cambridge Police Department for racial profiling; Michelle Obama wrote her Princeton thesis on how white folks were racists; Michelle and Barack went to Rev. Wright’s racist church for 20 years.
A Failed Obama Hero
Excerpt: Let’s think about President Obama’s failed economic stimulus program. Before getting to the nitty-gritty of why stimulus packages fail, let’s look at the failed stimulus program of Obama’s hero, Franklin Delano Roosevelt. FDR’s Treasury Secretary, Henry Morgenthau, wrote in his diary: “We have tried spending money. We are spending more than we have ever spent before and it does not work. ... We have never made good on our promises. ... I say after eight years of this Administration we have just as much unemployment as when we started ... and an enormous debt to boot!” Morgenthau was being a bit gracious. The unemployment figures for FDR’s first eight years were: 18 percent in 1935; 14 percent in 1936; by 1938, unemployment was back to 20 percent. The stock market fell nearly 50 percent between August 1937 and March 1938. Columnist Walter Lippmann wrote, “With almost no important exception every measure he (Roosevelt) has been interested in for the past five months has been to reduce or discourage the production of wealth.” The last year of the Herbert Hoover administration, the top marginal income tax rate was raised from 24 to 63 percent. During the Roosevelt administration, the top rate was raised at first to 79 percent and then later to 90 percent. Hillsdale College economic historian Professor Burton Folsom notes that in 1941, Roosevelt even proposed a whopping 99.5 percent marginal rate on all incomes over $100,000.
BBC Newsnight On The Russell Inquiry: A Welcome Sea Change?
Excerpt: An edition of BBC’s Newsnight programme was aired late on Wednesday 7th July, the same day that we heard the conclusions of the Muir Russell inquiry into the UEA’s “Climategate” affair. Although the programme itself did not offer dramatic new evidence or revelations, it is very interesting for several reasons. Firstly, it was accepted by those taking part, including BBC Newsnight’s Science Editor Susan Watts, and former IPCC head Bob Watson, that despite an insistence that the science itself has not changed, the rules under which climate science is conducted will have to undergo radical change, with a new emphasis on openness and accountability. Secondly, BBC viewers were treated to the unfamiliar experience of seeing two of the most prominent, senior proponents of Anthropogenic Global Warming in the political arena - Yvo de Boer and Bob Watson - sitting with an equally prominent and senior sceptic - Nigel Lawson - in a debate where Lord Lawson’s views were given equal credence and weight to those of his opponents. We also had the positive experience of a BBC reporter asking reasonably searching questions on the subject of policy, and a general sense that the debate over “what to do” about climate change, far from being over at last, has simply entered a new and unpredictable stage. Here is a transcript of last week’s programme.
Brief for 9 states backs Arizona immigration law
Excerpt: States have the authority to enforce immigration laws and protect their borders, Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox said Wednesday in a legal brief on behalf of nine states supporting Arizona’s immigration law. Cox, one of five Republicans running for Michigan governor, said Michigan is the lead state backing Arizona in federal court and is joined by Alabama, Florida, Nebraska, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas and Virginia, as well as the Northern Mariana Islands.
Justice: Sanctuary cities safe from law
Excerpt: Elvira Arellano, left, an illegal immigrant from Mexico who has taken refuge in a Chicago church to avoid deportation for the last year, stands with others involved in the sanctuary movement as she answers questions at Nuestra Senora de Los Angeles church in Los Angeles Saturday, Aug. 18, 2007. (AP Photo/Reed Saxon) A week after suing Arizona and arguing that the state's immigration law creates a patchwork of rules, the Obama administration said it will not go after so-called sanctuary cities that refuse to cooperate with the federal government on immigration enforcement, on the grounds that they are not as bad as a state that "actively interferes." "There is a big difference between a state or locality saying they are not going to use their resources to enforce a federal law, as so-called sanctuary cities have done, and a state passing its own immigration policy that actively interferes with federal law," Tracy Schmaler, a spokeswoman for Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr., told The Washington Times. "That's what Arizona did in this case." But the author of the 1996 federal law that requires states and localities to cooperate with federal authorities on immigration laws thinks the administration is misreading the statute and that sanctuary cities are in violation of federal law. Drawing a distinction between those localities and Arizona, he said, is "flimsy justification" for suing the state.
Why Do Ethics Cost More in the Obama White House?
Excerpt: But the question is one of many that spring to mind after reviewing the most recent list of White House salaries. On his first day in office, Obama announced that he would freeze salaries of White House employees making $100,000 or more, and the mainstream media trumpeted the announcement as a supposed example of their hero's fiscal responsibility. The Washington Post even calculated the amount that the "freeze" would save taxpayers: over $443,000 dollars a year. The Post, and the rest of the Obamaton media, portrayed the announcement -- described as Obama's first act in office -- as a symbolic tightening of the belt. But when Obama got around to actually reporting White House salaries, as required by law, the numbers told a far different story. Instead of tightening his belt, Obama was buying a bigger, fatter, and far more expensive one. All that media trumpeting about fiscal responsibility amounted to no more than so many noisy, and empty, vuvuzelas.
Donald Berwick’s Motto? Rationing for Thee, but not for Me
Excerpt: If you’re like most Americans, you had probably never heard of Donald Berwick before July 7, when President Obama installed him as Administrator of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). And, unless you’re a health policy wonk, the news that Obama circumvented the normal Senate confirmation process with a recess appointment probably elicited no response beyond a briefly raised eyebrow and a stifled yawn. But this CMS decision deserves another look. Dr. Berwick has been granted the power to reach out and touch you in ways undreamed of by higher profile appointees like Elena Kagan. Whether you’re paying attention or not, he will have a profound impact on the quality of your life. CMS isn’t some Beltway backwater with a few clerks processing Medicare and Medicaid claims. It’s a gigantic bureaucracy with thousands of employees, a budget larger than the Pentagon’s, and the authority to dictate treatment standards for the nation’s hospitals, nursing homes, and clinical laboratories. It also administers policies that directly affect how many physicians are available to provide medical treatment for you and your family. Moreover, Berwick isn’t just another political hack or Ivy League gasbag. He’s an experienced, sophisticated administrator who knows how to get what he wants. And what he wants for Medicare, Medicaid, and eventually the entire U.S. health care system is rationing. Unlike his boss in the White House, Dr. Berwick has made no secret of his views on this issue, and has never avoided the “R” word. In a 2009 interview for Biotechnology Healthcare, for example, Berwick praised the heavy-handed rationing methods of Britain’s National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) and said, “The decision is not whether or not we will ration care; the decision is whether we will ration with our eyes open.” Unfortunately, the interviewer failed to ask the obvious follow-up question: “Who’s we?” It turns out that what the good doctor really means when he says “we” is “you.” For himself and his wife, he has arranged to opt out of the health care system he plans to impose on the hoi polloi. But before we get to that, it’s important to flesh out what Berwick has in mind when he talks about rationing. His praise of NICE is significant. The apparatchiks of that soulless health care bureaucracy have, quite literally, calculated how much money a single year of the average Brit’s life is worth (about $45,000). And if a patient needs treatment or drugs that exceed that amount, he’s out of luck. Consequently, the British news media are full of stories like those of Jack Rosser and Albert Baxter, both of whom were denied cancer drugs. The former is only alive today because an American benefactor came to his rescue. The latter killed himself when informed that he would not receive treatment.
Woman gunned down by son over ‘honour’
Didn’t get the memo. Excerpt: A man shot his mother dead allegedly over honour at their house in Shershah police precincts on Tuesday. According to SHO Fida Hussain, Haleema Basheer, 40, lived in a house in lane No 13 on Muhammadi Road, and was killed by her son Muneer.
Pentagon developing 'emergency plan' in absence of war funds
Excerpt: The Pentagon is “seriously planning” for the possibility that Congress will not pass emergency war funding before lawmakers head to the August recess, said Pentagon Press Secretary Geoff Morrell. The Pentagon is developing an “emergency plan” to deal with the lack of supplemental funds for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, Morrell said at a press briefing Wednesday. Morrell did not disclose any details of the plan, because Defense Secretary Robert Gates has yet to consider the options under that plan. “Needless to say, all of this is extraordinarily disruptive to the department," Morrell said. “But we've had some practice at this over the last few years. We're sadly getting used to this fire drill.” The fate of the war supplemental is in the hands of the Senate, which has yet to decide on a strategy to pass the bill. The House earlier this month made changes to a supplemental bill already approved by the Senate in May. Additions the House made to the war-spending bill are now complicating its passage in the Senate.
The Inhuman Government
Excerpt: One of the great errors of big government liberalism is its belief that inhuman systems are superior to human beings. This form of mechanical thinking is a commonplace error in a scientific age in which we have become used to using mechanical systems to solve problems. But people are not machines, and trying to turn people into gears in the great machine of government leads to tragic results. The embrace of big government in the United States was driven by the belief in scientific government as a perfectible system. This creepy worship of elitist technocracy lingers around the more idealistic liberal administrations, from FDR to JFK to Obama. Always followed by a list of PhD's and degree holders in the cabinet revealing a failure to understand that higher education does not make one immune from human flaws. The idea of a perfected government is at odds with democracy, which treats political chaos and voter misjudgments as valid tradeoffs for a leash on government. It worships the idea of government, rather than the reality of government. An egotistical exercise for policy wonks certain that the right people can set everything to right, regardless of what the people as a whole might think about it. ObamaCare showed us the ugly spectacle of elitist government and its supporters, dismissing and ignoring the democratic objections of the public as the clamor of an ignorant and dangerous rabble. That is how tyrants throughout history have viewed public protest. It is not however the response of a democratic government to the will of the majority. It is how those who view their policy endgame as a superior ideal to the will of the people, think and act. And that is shorthand for tyranny. To argue that government gets its authority not from representative democracy, but from the purity of their policymaking is to create an ideological tyranny. It is the deathblow of democracy. And yet that is exactly what the raison d'etre of the Obama Administration has been.
The Limits To Political Activity In Vietnam
Excerpt: Fulbright scholar and celebrity lawyer Le Cong Dinh is to remain in prison in Vietnam. Recently, the Appeals Court in Ho Chi Minh City upheld his five-year sentence for 'trying to overthrow the state' and returned Dinh and his two co-accused to their cells. The fate of this man--who famously defended his country's catfish farmers against U.S. trade restrictions; was deputy head of the Ho Chi Minh City Bar Association; briefed international legal delegations; and married a former Miss Vietnam--has now clearly defined the limits of political activity the ruling Communist Party (CPV) will tolerate. The Party was prepared to ignore Dinh so long as he remained an outspoken voice calling for legal reform. What put him beyond the pale was his work with anti-communist groups based in the United States and his membership of an organized opposition party. No matter that Dinh's demands had not changed from the days when he was a loyal critic--the usual menu of democracy advocates: free speech and political pluralism--his collaboration with those whom Hanoi still labels 'hostile forces' sealed his fate.
Climategate and the Big Green Lie
Excerpt: By way of preamble, let me remind you where I stand on climate change. I think climate science points to a risk that the world needs to take seriously. I think energy policy should be intelligently directed towards mitigating this risk. I am for a carbon tax. I also believe that the Climategate emails revealed, to an extent that surprised even me (and I am difficult to surprise), an ethos of suffocating groupthink and intellectual corruption. The scandal attracted enormous attention in the US, and support for a new energy policy has fallen. In sum, the scientists concerned brought their own discipline into disrepute, and set back the prospects for a better energy policy. I had hoped, not very confidently, that the various Climategate inquiries would be severe. This would have been a first step towards restoring confidence in the scientific consensus. But no, the reports make things worse. At best they are mealy-mouthed apologies; at worst they are patently incompetent and even wilfully wrong. The climate-science establishment, of which these inquiries have chosen to make themselves a part, seems entirely incapable of understanding, let alone repairing, the harm it has done to its own cause. The Penn State inquiry exonerating Michael Mann -- the paleoclimatologist who came up with "the hockey stick" -- would be difficult to parody. Three of four allegations are dismissed out of hand at the outset: the inquiry announces that, for "lack of credible evidence", it will not even investigate them. (At this, MIT's Richard Lindzen tells the committee, "It's thoroughly amazing. I mean these issues are explicitly stated in the emails. I'm wondering what's going on?" (....) Greens who feared and climate skeptics who hoped that the rash of investigations following Climategate and Glaciergate and all the other problems would reveal some gaping obvious flaws in the science of climate change were watching the wrong thing. The Big Green Lie (or Delusion, to be charitable) isn't so much that climate change is happening and that it is very likely caused or at least exacerbated by human activity. The Big Lie is that the green movement is a source of coherent or responsible counsel about what to do. (I don't think anyone has ever accused The Atlantic of being a right-wing or Republican-leaning outlet. The author has both left and right media in his background, so the implication is that this should be as balanced a coverage as anyone could hope for. I think it lives up to that by focusing on the real scientific issues of Climategate that were NEVER addressed by any of the so-called inquiries. Ron P.)
Heed the Call
Excerpt: People are frightened about economic news they can't even understand (Oh, no! Credit Default Swaps for Greek Sovereign Debt are on the rise!); -- Afghanistan is seen as a necessary, but never-ending, war; -- and on and on. The danger to the nation is not whether Republicans or Democrats control the House or Senate (or both); nor is it whether Obama wins a second term. The danger to the Republic is we have lost confidence in our political institutions to solve anything.
Saudi Arabia's House Of Cards
Excerpt: How stable is Saudi Arabia? Not very, according to at least one member of the Kingdom's ruling class. Last month Prince Turki bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud, a prominent dissident now in exile in Cairo, issued an open letter to his fellow royals, urging them to abandon their desert fiefdom for greener pastures. According to the prince, the current social compact between the House of Saud and its subjects had become untenable, with the government no longer able to "impose" its writ on the people and growing grassroots discontent at the royals "interfering in people's private life and restricting their liberties." His advice? That King Abdullah and his coterie off our heads in streets."
The Left's Psychological Assault on Independence
Excerpt: The United States faces overwhelming fiscal problems. Our current level of government spending and future entitlement obligations are simply unsustainable. However, as concerning as these fiscal matters are, the biggest problem America faces has nothing to do with economics, but rather psychology. The strength of a nation reflects the character of its citizens. While America was once considered a nation of individuals fiercely independent and self-reliant, her citizens are moving closer to a state of dependence, characterized by irresponsibility and ambivalence. This change has been instigated by the politics of collectivism and the growth of the social welfare state. F.A. Hayek, the famous Austrian-born economist and political philosopher, warned of the dangers of excessive government: "The most important change which extensive government control produces is a psychological change, an alteration in the character of the people."
Our Year 2 A.B.
Excerpt: For any of those who went into a coma around January of last year and just woke up, let me explain this new era after Bush (A.B.), variously known as “this is our moment,” “we are the ones we’ve been waiting for,” and the era when the “planet healed” and the seas “receded.” In sum, in the year 2 AB, your fossilized world thankfully no longer quite exists. Global warming is “climate change” and its data is “interpreted” rather than blindly “followed.” Natural calamities like the old Katrina hurricane were really man-caused disasters; and man-caused disasters like the new BP spill and the federal reaction to it were really unpreventable natural disasters. Bill Clinton, John Edwards, and Al Gore are men-of-the-people feminists who need comfort, not tawdry womanizing mansion-aficionados. Iraq is no longer “lost,” but the greatest achievement of the Obama administration. Somehow its messy politics are proof of real democracy. Indeed, at last our influential intellectuals can talk of real “politics” going on in Baghdad. Surging is now good. So is the architect of that policy, Gen. Petraeus. If any Republicans were now to suggest in a confirmation hearing that the Afghan ground commander “punted” on the truth, or that his testimony “required a suspension of disbelief,” or that Afghanistan should be trisected, well, he would be rightly castigated as a subversive, rather than praised as “patriotic.” Partisanship now stops at the shoreline. The IED is on page 18 where it belongs; the discounted General Betray Us ads at the New York Times are filed away.
Being black and against illegal immigration
Excerpt: "They won't tell you of how skilled black workers in Los Angeles can no longer ply their trade," Anderson testified before Congress about America's open borders bunch. "Body and fenders, roofers, framers, drywallers, gardeners and now even truck drivers. They don't dare tell you about all of the race riots in our schools where the blacks are told to take their black a****s back to Africa. Even the news media [have] refused to tell of this while we know they are aware of it. ... The illegals won't hire us and won't buy from us. And still our black elected officials won't help us."