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Thursday, April 30, 2009

If bankruptcy is a success, what does failure look like?

Barack Obama hailed the bankruptcy of Chrysler today as a success story for his administration. Having declared that the auto maker’s plans were too little, too late, the government ushered Chrysler into bankruptcy in order usher in a new era of clean, green cars that Chrysler would produce – in association with Fiat thanks to another eight billion dollars in taxpayer funds.

Bondholders who did not agree with Team Obama to essentially turn the company over to the auto union – soon to be a 55% owner of the company – were vilified in an eerie echo of the kulaks in 1920 Russia.

Limbaugh labeled the announcement as “Peronism” with some justification. The fact is that this country has not developed any defenses against the takeover of industry by a government caudillo. This only happens in banana republics and most of the people in the country are in denial. We are like passengers on a jetliner that has been taken over by highjackers and we think we’re waiting to hear the highjackers’ demands until the moment we make contact with the World Trade Center.

We have become so accustomed to the orderly resolution of commercial disputes in court that we have little defense except to sputter about fairness when political leaders simply ignore contracts and impose their own solutions. It is said that the court follows the election results and who is willing to go to court to thwart a popular politician who claims the requirements of necessity to seize major corporations and hand them over to his allies?

In other words, who’s to stop him?

Andrew Jackson famously said of a decision of the Supreme Court “John Marshall has made his decision, now let him enforce it!"

How would the courts react if Obama made the same statement? It would be interesting to find out.

Miss California Addresses Press Club Over Marriage

The "Enchanted" NY Times Reporter

And here's the question...and the answer.

President "It Wasn't Me"

It’s become a bleat: “it wasn’t me.” Try a Google search of “Obama denies” and you get over 10 million hits. No matter what the problem is, it’s never his fault. Responding to the accusation from Daniel Ortega that everything that’s wrong in Latin America is the fault of the United States, Obama makes a lame but revealing jab at humor. Mitt Romney’s statement sums up my feelings:

At last week’s Summit of the Americas, President Obama acquiesced to a 50-minute attack on America as terroristic, expansionist, and interventionist from Nicaraguan president Daniel Ortega. His response to Ortega’s denunciation of our effort to free Cuba from Castro’s dictatorship was that he shouldn’t be blamed “for things that happened when I was three months old.” Blamed? Hundreds of men, including Americans, bravely fought and died for Cuba’s freedom, heeding the call from newly elected president John F. Kennedy.

Mark Steyn gets to the essence…

re President Obama's response at the Summit of the Americas: “I’m grateful that President Ortega did not blame me for things that happened when I was three months old.”
What struck me (aside from its unfortunate echoes of his self-absolvement with regard to what William Ayers did when young Barack was eight years old) was the reductive narcissism of the answer. Barack Obama is not a banana-republic coup-leader resetting the calendar to Year Zero. When he travels abroad, he represents two-and-a-third centuries of constitutional continuity. The impression he gives that that's all just some dreary backstory of no real relevance to the Barack Obama biopic he's starring in 24/7 is very unusual in the chief of state of one of the oldest democratic polities on the planet. And not entirely reassuring.

It is said that you have to be an egomaniac to want to be President. I don’t believe that. But I do believe that we have one now; someone for whom reality does not exist outside of himself.

"I never listed to his sermons, he was just a guy in my neighborhood, I was only three months old, I was only eight years old, the deficits were not my fault, the future deficits are not my fault, rising energy prices will not be my fault, Air Force One buzzing Manhattan is not my fault, rising unemployment is not my fault, people losing their homes they could not afford after I pushed lenders to give them loans is not my fault, lousy public schools in Chicago are not my fault even though I spend $100 million on them. They...them, ... those ... Bush ... Bush .... Bush is at fault for everything."

Obama is a newborn messiah who has sprung fully formed from the head of Zeus setting aright the shambles created by its previous 43 presidents of this fatally flawed country we call America.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Little girl on a plane (Things my brother sent me)

A stranger was seated next to a little girl on an airplane. When the
plane took off and settled into its climb, the stranger turned to the
little girl and said:: "I've always found that flights go quicker if
you strike up a conversation with your fellow passenger."

The little girl, who had just opened her book, closed it slowly and
said to the stranger, "OK. What would you like to talk about?" "Oh, I don't
know," said the stranger. "How about nuclear power?"

"Yes," she said. "That could be an interesting topic. But let me ask
you a question first. A horse, a cow and a deer all eat grass -- the same
stuff. Yet a deer excretes little pellets, while a cow turns out a flat
patty and a horse produces clumps of dried grass. Why do you suppose
that is?" The stranger thought for a few moments,, then said: "You
know, I've never thought about that. I have no idea."

The little girl began to open her book again, saying: "Do you really
feel qualified to discuss nuclear power when you don't know shit?

So who wanted the pictures of Air Force One?

We know who has taken the fall, Louis Caldera, the Director of the White House Military Office. But lots of questions remain. And in today’s political climate, “taking the fall” means being the one who says he’s sorry. The days of falling on one’s sword, even metaphorically, are long gone for Democrats.

Who wanted new pictures of Air Force One against the New York skyline? Why was there a demand for secrecy? And, of course, the big question: who thought that low flying jumbo jets over Manhattan would pass un-noticed by the people who watched their friends die just eight years ago?

The first question: who wanted the pictures is likely someone in the Obama political image camp. Caldera is political appointee (who is not particularly popular even with Obama supporters) in a post that is traditionally held by a military officer. We either have to believe that he woke up one morning and decided that the pictures of Air Force One in the archives were out of date, or … more likely … someone in charge of the Obama image machine decided that images of Air Force one next to the Statue of Liberty would be useful in the future and tasked Caldera to do it.

The second question – the demand for secrecy – is a puzzle. You can’t run a 747 up and down the Hudson River without anyone noticing. Only months ago someone landed a commercial airliner in the river. It’s one of the most densely populated parts of the world. Were they afraid that if they told New Yorkers that they would be able to see Air Forced One fly by someone would take a shot at it?

I think that I have the answer to question number 3, why the people who ordered this had no idea of the reaction. The people who populate the Obama administration really don’t believe in 9/11. They may have read about it, They may know intellectually that it happened. But they view it the same way we may view a lightning strike that hits an isolated golfer: a billion-in-one shot that “just happened.” That’s why the Obama team is renaming the attacks of 9/11 as “man-caused disasters” putting it on the same moral plane as an auto wreck. That’s why the Obama team is not really concerned about revealing what we do to interrogate prisoners with vital information. They don’t believe we haven anything to worry about. Unlike the people who evacuated their buildings during the fly-bys and who ran for their lives, believing that they were under another attack. For Team Obama, it’s always 9/10.
UPDATE: A few other thoughts:

Who was doing the photography? In the pictures I saw the Air force jet trailing Air Force One was not in a position to take good pictures. Was there a photo plane? If so, where was it? Would it have not been much cheaper to photo-shop an image of Air Force One next to the Statue of Liberty and get the same effect? Were there any passengers on Air Force One during this flight? Was this a joy ride that bombed?

Welcome Instapundit readers.

UPDATE 2: Via The Corner at National Review - a few photshop pictures that were a lot less expensive to make than the $328,835 it cost the taxpayers.

UPDATE: OK this could not have been a "photo op." Here's the picture the White House released of the flight.

There is no way the Air Force would have taken a picture this lousy for a photo shoot. This was an amateur shot from a fighter plane that was not equipped to take pictures. Team Obama must have turned over heaven and earth to get this snapshot and pass if off to the Lewinski wanna bees in the press corps as a photo shoot. People who believe this are too stupid to be allowed to wander away alone.

These are real Air Force publicity pictures..



Anyone still want to claim that the presidential jet buzzing Manhattan was a photo shoot?

What did Nancy Pelosi know and when did she know it?

Minority Leader John Boehner is asking the Obama administration to release the CIA’s notes briefing Nancy Pelosi. Whether the Obama team does so or not seems irrelevant. It is enough for the public now to know that Pelosi and others were briefed and that no meaningful objections and steps to halt the CIA (e.g. cutting off funding) were ever raised. The GOP, with moves like this and in interviews such as the one Sen. Kit Bond gave today, is trying to make Pelosi the story now. To the extent that “Pelosi Plays Defense on Torture” is the top story on Politico (for a good part of the day) they are succeeding. And what does that do?

Well, it might slow the witch hunt down a bit. But more importantly it reminds the voters that until it became politically expedient there was bipartisan consensus for enhanced interrogation techniques. The existence of those briefings (and the notes which will document them) suggest that everyone — the lawyers, Congress, and the CIA — were operating in good faith, as best they could, to prevent the unimaginable, namely another attack on America. That, it seems, goes to the heart of the “defense” of Bush officials who may be dragooned before a Truth Commission.

Panic on Wall Street

Air Force One flies low over Manhattan for "photo op."

Busting Bank of America

The cavalier use of brute government force has become routine, but the emerging story of how Hank Paulson and Ben Bernanke forced CEO Ken Lewis to blow up Bank of America is still shocking. It's a case study in the ways that panicky regulators have so often botched the bailout and made the financial crisis worse.

And it's getting worse.

Fox sticking with schedule instead of Obama

The network is turning down the president's request to show his prime-time news conference on Wednesday. The news conference marks Obama's 100th day in office. Instead of the president, Fox viewers will see an episode of the Tim Roth drama "Lie to Me."
The other networks are showing an episode of Obama lying to you.

Evening Newscasts Have Covered Obama More Than Bush & Clinton Combined

That impartial press...afflicting the comfortable and comforting the afflicted.

The nonpartisan research group Center for Media and Public Affairs along with California's Chapman University released a study that found the nightly newscasts devoted 27 hours, 44 minutes to Pres. Obama's presidency in his first 50 days. That compares to 7 hours, 42 minutes for Pres. George W. Bush and 15 hours, 2 minutes for Pres. Bill Clinton during the first 50 days of their first terms.

Not only has Obama gotten more coverage, but that coverage has been more positive than his predecessors.

On the ABC, CBS, and NBC evening newscasts, 58% of all evaluations of the president and his policies have been favorable, while 42% were unfavorable. That compares with 33% positive in the comparable period of Bush's tenure and 44% positive for Pres. Clinton.

US newspaper circulation sees biggest decline yet

More good news about the Obamamedia.

The Audit Bureau of Circulations said Monday that average sales of newspapers declined 7.1 percent in the October-March period from the same six-month span in 2007-2008. The comparison is drawn from 395 daily U.S. newspapers that reported in both periods.

But the bigger online audience isn't generating enough ad sales to overcome the huge losses in print advertising. Several major publishers reported their print ad sales plunged by 25 percent to 35 percent during the first quarter. To make matters worse, online ad revenue also fell at major newspaper publishers such as Gannett Co., The New York Times Co. and McClatchy Co.

Galaxy on the Edge

Sunday, April 26, 2009

The Department of Homeland Security is Right

First it was the turn for the Right to be outraged by a DHS report warning that – among others - veterans, the unemployed, people unable to obtain credit, opponents of illegal immigration, racists, anti-Semites, gun owners, civil libertarians, people who oppose abortion, people who oppose homosexual marriage, paranoids, people who buy guns and ammunition, Christians, and anti-Communists were ripe for being recruited into ‘right wing extremist” groups.

Today we are treated to the revelation that the Virginia Fusion Center (which is funded by the DHS) has spotted other links to terrorist groups. While the Virginian Pilot was apparently unaware of the DHS report on right wing terrorism, they take this report very seriously indeed. That’s because it identified groups that (unlike right wing extremist) they think are just great. This time several local “historically black” colleges are singled out as breeding grounds for terror cells. The report also mentions Pat Robertson’s Regent University, a local anti-abortion group and the military. The entire report is here.

Broadsides from the press, the university community and the ACLU notwithstanding, I have to agree with the DHS. The groups singled out in the reports are a threat to the established order.

From the Left, anger will be directed at elements of the old regime and those parts of conservative society who publicly oppose the new direction the Left are taking the country. The left has always been the natural home of the Jihadists of Islam, communists and anarchists. We did not need a report to know that.

On the part of the Right, we may see a birth of activism that has previously been the province of the Left. The “Tea Parties” were just that, genteel and very refined as street theater. Who can last remember an anti-government demonstration that included men in suits and women in skirts? It is possible that demonstrations by the Right, fueled by attacks from the Left, may become as raucous as those on the Left.

And as the power of the government grows, the treats referenced in these reports will become an even bigger threat to order, and that means a threat to government. The rise of this threat to order is the government itself: an administration that has chosen an economic “black swan” event to deliberately move the country violently to the Left. The administration's fanning the flame of partisan warfare is adding fuel to this fire.

So I believe that the DHS may have warned about the future very well. If you read the reports you will understand the government’s view of the people it governs.

How do you like it?

Saturday, April 25, 2009

It is a war crime to take a soldier and put him through the civilian court system if he is captured while levying war against the USA.

Is Obama comitting a war crime?

Is the CIA getting what it deserves?

The Obama administration is branding the CIA as a bunch of rogue torturers and worse. That is an interesting development for the CIA. From my perspective, they appear to have failed in their primary function prior to 9/11, and become part of the organized anti-Bush political scene after, helping to so demonize Bush that it helped Obama get elected. You would think that Obama would be grateful, but he appears to be throwing the CIA under the bus as part of this anti-Bush-all-the-time strategy.

Lest I be accused of painting with too broad a brush, I will admit that it appears that elements of the CIA did get enough intelligence to stop a second 9/11 attack. We will not be sure until all the evidence is presented, but former Vice President Dick Cheney has seen the evidence and apparently believes this to be the case. Of course, the evidence of this is assumed to be in the form of reports by the CIA itself, and there is a question of whether the organization can be trusted to justify its own actions.

While conservatives are often reflexively ready to spring to the defense of the military or groups like the CIA, at this point some of us remember the past and ask the question, whose side are they on? Should we defend them or hang them out to dry? Is the agency similar to the Abwehr in WW2, headed by Admiral Canaris?

Glenn Reynolds:

I’D FEEL SORRIER FOR THE C.I.A. FOLKS, if they hadn’t run a multiyear leak-war against the Bush Administration. Did they really think electing Obama would improve their situation? Once again, they don’t seem to have gamed things out to the end.

In response Charlie Foxtrot says: The CIA is not Monolithic

That sentiment would make sense if the CIA was a monolithic organization and voting bloc. However we are really talking about two different worlds within one agency.

The folks that Glenn would, and should, feel sorry for at this moment are the dispirited members of the Agency's Directorate of Operations. These are the 'brawny' operatives work in the shadows and handle unpleasant business. Many of them come to the agency from the world of military Special Forces. As such, they probably didn't vote overwhelmingly for President Obama, or wage any war against President Bush

But you can't separate the two. And it appears that the few good apples are spoiled by the larger barrel.

Commentary is on the CIA's side:

If CIA operatives were not already dispirited (and they are, according to a former CIA official) by the events of this week and the threat of ongoing litigation, then the upcoming release of some 44 photos of detainees in Iraq and Afghanistan will do the trick.

However, the commenters from the Left are preening their fine feathers to best show off their unblemished morals. A bizarre turn about from the defenders of perjury and semen stained dresses by those who facilitated by their fecklessness the events of 9/11.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Government income is tanking

Thanks to Glenn Reynolds, I have found a hook to write an essay that I have been meaning to write for a few months.

JOHN GALT WRITES HOME: Federal Receipts Tank: March Tax Take Down 27.9%.

Here is the headline from the Chicago Daily Observer: Federal Receipts Tank: March Tax Take Down 27.9%

Through March, federal receipts were running 14% behind the previous year. Each month during the fiscal year has trailed the previous year, and degree of the difference has steadily increased.

There are several assumption built into the government’s projections of the deficits that are coming. Here’s a little secret that only you and I share: the deficits will be much, much bigger than current projections.

The numbers are off not because projected spending is going to be bigger than advertised, in fact it may not be possible for the feds to spend money as fast as they would like.

Deficit projections are low because tax revenues are going to plummet.

The feds collect taxes on income from various sources. The first, wages, are shrinking as people are joining the ranks of the unemployed, as companies are making across-the-board wage cuts, and as bonuses and salaries in formerly high wage areas like financial services are slashed (remember AIG?).

Second, dividend income is way, way down. GE, as an example, cut its dividend 68%. Banks – a former source of high dividend paying stocks – have all but eliminated dividends, and this is true across the board for companies who are hunkering down for a long period of austerity.

How about taxes on interest? GM is defaulting on its bonds, Citigroup is converting its preferred stock with a high coupon into common with no coupon. And that’s just the beginning. CD rates are in the very, very low single digits providing very, very skinny incomes that yield very skinny tax revenue. Interest on treasury bonds are so low some people are literally paying the government to hold their money.

And then there is the capital gains tax. I was very proactive last fall as losses mounted in advising my clients to sell and take their capital losses. That was the least I could do to turn lemons into lemonade. Now investors they have several ways of hiding their income from the tax man for years into the future. They can offset $3000 of ordinary income with accumulated capital losses. Second they can offset any capital gains for years into the future with losses they took last year, carrying their losses forward until they are exhausted. Anyone who ends up paying capital gains taxes this year or next is not well informed or advised.

The outflow side of the Federal deficit is out of control. What they Feds may not have counted on is that the income side is also out of control.

Obama: The Grand Strategy

Charles Krauthammer believes he knows the Unified Obama Theory.

Bottom line: Obama is determined to level America and the end game is requiring that old, sick Americans die.
The more acute thinkers on the left can see rationing coming, provoking Slate blogger Mickey Kaus to warn of the political danger. "Isn't it an epic mistake to try to sell Democratic health care reform on this basis? Possible sales pitch: 'Our plan will deny you unnecessary treatments!' ... Is that really why the middle class will sign on to a revolutionary multitrillion-dollar shift in spending -- so the government can decide their life or health 'is not worth the price'?"
We have seen this future before.

Ever wonder what what those strange people who attend Liberty University are like?

It seems that Kevin Roose did.

Roose had transferred to the Virginia campus from Brown University in Providence, a famously liberal member of the Ivy League. His Liberty classmates knew about the switch, but he kept something more important hidden: He planned to write a book about his experience at the school founded by fundamentalist preacher Jerry Falwell.

Each conversation about salvation or hand-wringing debate about premarital sex was unwitting fodder for Roose's recently published book: "The Unlikely Disciple: A Sinner's Semester at America's Holiest University."

Here is the surprising thing. Roose appears to have had his own "road to Damascus" experience. God works in myusterious ways.
Roose said his Liberty experience transformed him in surprising ways.

When he first returned to Brown, he'd be shocked by the sight of a gay couple holding hands — then be shocked at his own reaction. He remains stridently opposed to Falwell's worldview, but he also came to understand Falwell's appeal.

Once ambivalent about faith, Roose now prays to God regularly — for his own well-being and on behalf of others. He said he owns several translations of the Bible and has recently been rereading meditations from the letters of John on using love and compassion to solve cultural conflicts.

He's even considering joining a church.
Perhaps a Christian in its infancy?

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Did We Elect Borat President?

I’m like 95 percent certain about this; it just fits, the more I think about it. Don’t all the weird gaffes and the strange adoration of Obama make sense if it were all some Borat-type gag? A lot of the humor in Borat’s character is that Cohen presented him as a well-meaning foreigner who gets people to dismiss his eccentricities as cultural differences. He’d keep getting weirder and weirder to see how far he could go before people stopped being polite. He’s doing the same thing with his Bruno character for a movie coming out this summer. With Obama, though, he’s using a bit of a different approach. We had all these people (probably actors — at least in the beginning) loving him for no apparent reason and declaring to us what a smart person this new politician Obama was. Thus, everyone thought all his weirdness was just what a smart, new type of politician was like....

It’s coming. A movie will come out called Barack Obama: President of America for Make Benefit Change and Hope of World, and if there is no inkling we were in on the joke, we’re going to be the laughing stocks of the entire world. America will never be able to show its face again on the international stage.

That’s why both those defending Obama and those railing against his politics are wrongheaded. Because they’re both taking him seriously and are going to look like fools in the end. We have to put a stop to this and face the fact the Obama administration is just a big, mean (though quite clever) gag. At the next White House press conference, the press needs to stand up and say to the president, “We know it’s really you, Sacha Baron Cohen. Not cool!” Then they need to walk out. Otherwise, we’re all going to look stupid.

Jeff Immelt's Non Answer to a Legitimate Question.

It turn out that not everyone licks the feet of Obama like Jeff Immelt does.

GE's Immelt: Faith, morality and academic freedom are at oods.

Shilling for Obama now appears to be a full time career move for Jeff Immelt. He wrote a letter to the University of Notre Dame which has been embroiled in a controversy regarding its invitation to Obama as it's commencement speaker.

Faith traditions and the institution's moral compass can sometimes seem at odds with academic freedom

This from the man who managed the decline of GE from a $60 stock to a $6 stock in 9 years, cut the dividend 68% (a major income source for many GE retirees) and lost GE it's AAA credit rating. For this, he collected $14 million in pay just this last year, a reduction from his pay in prior years. As a shareholder said at the last annual meeting: "...we can buy your level of incompetence for a hell of a lot less"
So, he's shilling for Obama at Notre Dame ... and slamming faith and morality in an academic setting. Is Immelt right? Is there a conflict between faith, morality and academic freedom in the modern academy? That seems an appropriate topic of discussion.

NY Times getting closer, closer ....

Come on, drop dead already. You're standing in the way of progress.

As The New York Times Co. tries to bask in the glory of having bagged five Pulitzers, the company is facing a cash crunch that could put it on the path toward insolvency.

According to its first-quarter earnings report, the Times said it had cash and cash equivalents totaling $294 million.

However, $260 million of that is earmarked to pay off debt that matures in March 2010, effectively leaving the company with $34 million.

That's a particularly precarious position to be in, given the Gray Lady posted a wider-than-expected, first-quarter loss of $74.5 million amid worsening advertising declines, and is scrambling to raise cash as it labors under a $1.3 billion debt load.

GM Is Becoming a Royal Debacle

You break it, you own it.

Ann Coulter's Eulogy for her Mother

As I was reading this, I teared up. And a phrase came into my head: "a beautiful mind"

A lot of people claim to be my No. 1 fan -- God bless them -- but my true No. 1 fan left this world last week. My mother quietly stopped breathing last Tuesday, as she slept peacefully, holding my hand.
Read the whole thing. It's worth it.

Sharpless 308

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Gorby In, Garbage Out

Best of the web.

"...we can buy your level of incompetence for a hell of a lot less"

Shareholder addressing GE Chairman Immelt.

Richard Wills of York, Pennsylvania, criticized the level of pay for all of GE's top officials.
"This company has reached a point of peril," Wills said. "We cannot afford you folks anymore. And even if we could, we can buy your level of incompetence for a hell of a lot less."

GE shareholders have been left holding the proverbial bag since since Jeff Immelt replaced Jack Welch as chairman of GE. In 2000 GE stock was trading at $60 per share. Granted, it was overpriced at that level. But the share price recently hit about $5.87, a decline of over 90% since its high nine years ago. If the Dow Jones Industrial Average had done as badly as GE, it would be trading today at about 1100 instead of about 8000.

On top of that, GE lost its coveted AAA credit rating and cut its dividend about 68%. Despite that Immelt took home about $14 million in pay.

I have been a grudging defender of Immelt for many years, but his remarks at today's shareholders meeting turned me off completely.

Immelt is a great example, if one is needed, that the captains of industry love to cozy up to powerful politicians and together hatch plans to make each other rich.

The top executive of General Electric Co. said Wednesday he couldn't predict when the recession would end or how bad it will be, but said the global economic crisis has "fundamentally reset" the way companies do business and capitalism itself.

Speaking at GE's annual shareholder meeting in Orlando, Fla., following what has been a punishing year for the conglomerate, CEO Jeff Immelt said the downturn was the worst since the Great Depression, and that it would ultimately lead to changes such as greater government involvement in business and a restructuring of the financial services sector that was a root of the crisis.

These are the words of a man who is comfortable with a big business/big government partnership. These are the words of a man who can fix a deal with the President to build windmills and get his hands on a large share of the

products that could capture some of what GE estimates is $2 trillion worth of government stimulus spending worldwide

The concept that big business and government are enemies is false, and nowhere is that more true than in the words and acts of Jeff Immelt, Chairman of the country's biggest conglomerate.

One of Obama's "Industrialists"
UPDATE: He's also shilling for Obama at Notre Dame ... and slamming faith and morality in an academic setting:
Faith traditions and the institution's moral compass can sometimes seem at odds with academic freedom

So according to Immelt, there is a conflict between faith, morality and academic freedom. That seems an appropriate topic of discussion.

Air Force One on Earth Day

Can someone please tell us how U. S. Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano got her job?

One answer ... she was not chosen based on providing sexual favors ... to Barack. As evidence...

The article in Canada's The National Post was not complimentary to Ms Napolitiano: The border for dummies

Can someone please tell us how U. S. Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano got her job? She appears to be about as knowledgeable about border issues as a late-night radio call-in yahoo.

Janet was, until recently, the Governor of Arizona. My guess is that nobody cares what the governor of Arizona thinks. But when she reaches the national stage it appears she has reached the level of incompetence that even the people who would like to side with her notice.

One of her initiatives was (no kidding - its cited approvingly in her profile) to

...limit construction-related pollution on state land and bar the use on state property of leaf blowers and gas-powered mowers.

Is the supply of illegal Mexican labor so high, and are the wages so low, that the state of Arizona can hire them to cut the grass with clippers?

I will not mention that Ms. Napolitano, 52, has never been married and loves movies, ... especially July Garland movies (I made the last part up). I will not stoop to that kind of scurrilous innuendo. I leave that to the Left.

Having blundered into the thicket of insulting our neighbor, largest trading partner and guardian of our Northern border, Janet "clarified" her remarks:

The U.S. Homeland Security chief has clarified earlier remarks that suggested the 9-11 terrorists entered the U.S. through Canada.

I'm not sure how you can unsay what you have said and exposed yourself as an ignorant asshole, but she's doing her best ... to recover from calling the returning military veterans a threat to national security.

The country's in the very best of hands.

Beauty, Brains and Ethics

Fred Thompson wants members of Congress to testify under oath on what they approved

What did members of Congress know and when did they know it?

Should Congress be tried for approving torture?

Step One: Das Kapital. Step Three: Heaven On Earth. Step Two: ?

From Dr. Sanity via Ed Driscoll:

Robert Gibbs, Obama’s Press Secretary, Contradicts Obama’s Campaign Statement.

During his run for the presidency, Barack Obama frequently referred to himself as "a constitutional law professor." To cite one particularly obnoxious example, which turned out to be indicative of the president's lack of class, Obama stated at a March 30, 2007 fundraiser that "I was a constitutional law professor, which means unlike the current president I actually respect the Constitution."

But now, Obama's spokesman is denying that Obama was a constitutional law professor. Here is an exchange from a press conference last week:

Helen Thomas: Why is the president blocking habeas corpus from prisoners at Bagram? I thought he taught constitutional law. And these prisoners have been there . . .

Robert Gibbs: You're incorrect that he taught on constitutional law.

During the campaign, some, including the Hillary Clinton campaign, took issue with Obama's claim that he was "a professor of constitutional law" on the fairly silly grounds (in my view) that he was merely a lecturer, not a real professor. But I don't believe that even Obama's adversaries questioned that he taught constitutional law.

Now his spokesperson is doing just that.

Are you wondering why the press isn't ridiculing Obama and Gibbs for this?

Nah. Me neither.

But let's just check on the fact checkers.

Here's defending Obama's claim:
His formal title was "senior lecturer," but the University of Chicago Law School says he "served as a professor" and was "regarded as" a professor.
Click on the link for the entire defense. So who's right, Gibbs or FactCheck?

Slate refers to this the argument as to whether he was a lecturer or a full professor as a "tempest in a teapot" and defends Obama
When Obama was in the classroom, he was a law professor

The New York Times is above the fray and simply discusses the wonderfulness of Professor Obama.
When Jaime Escuder, a University of Chicago law student, was searching for a professor to supervise an independent project on prisoners’ rights, he turned to Barack Obama, but not for his politics. As a student in Obama’s constitutional law class in 2001, Escuder was impressed by his teacher’s ability to see both sides of an argument.

The Chicago Sun Times headline reads: Professor Obama was a listener, students say

and begins the article with
It was only three words in his 20-minute speech announcing his candidacy -- "taught constitutional law." But his students and colleagues at the University of Chicago say those words would make Barack Obama a different kind of president.
"It certainly is an advantage that he really knows the Constitution of the United States," said Professor Cass Sunstein. "I don't know if we have had a president that knows as much about the founding document as he does."

I'm wondering if - in view of the fact that press spokesman Robert Gibbs denies that Obama taught constitutional law - whether there is a memory hole big enough for all of the facts about Obama that it will need to hold?

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

America as a Banana Republic

It is a characteristic of unstable and failed states that the current rulers jail or kill the old rulers. It's the rule in Africa and parts of South and Central America. Now it's coming to the Unites States.

John Hinderaker at Powerline:
Many liberals don't just want to defeat conservatives at the polls, they want to send them to jail. Toward that end, they have sometimes tried to criminalize what are essentially policy differences. President Obama hinted at another step in that direction when he said today that he is open to the idea of bringing criminal charges against the Justice Department lawyers who wrote opinions to the effect that waterboarding and other harsh interrogation methods could legally be used on al Qaeda detainees. Obama said the question was a complicated one, and the decision will ultimately be made by Attorney General Eric Holder.

The idea of prosecuting a lawyer because a wrote a legal analysis with which the current Attorney General disagrees is so outrageous that I can't believe it would be seriously considered. Still, President Obama and his party may achieve another objective by publicly making this kind of threat: deterring Republicans from serving in public life. For many Republicans considering whether to accept an appointment to government office, the prospect that they may be subjected to criminal prosecution if the next administration is Democratic could well tip the balance in favor of remaining in private life.

I.F. Stone, Soviet Agent—Case Closed

Good article from Commentary. Bottom line:
To put it plainly, from 1936 to 1939 I.F. Stone was a Soviet spy.

Liberal Fascism... [Mark Steyn]

Has arrived in England...

A 14-year-old schoolgirl, Codie Stott, asked a teacher if she could sit with another group to do a science project as all the girls with her spoke only Urdu. The teacher's first response, according to Stott, was to scream at her: "It's racist, you're going to get done by the police!" Upset and terrified, the schoolgirl went outside to calm down. The teacher called the police and a few days later, presumably after officialdom had thought the matter over, she was arrested and taken to a police station, where she was fingerprinted and photographed. According to her mother, she was placed in a bare cell for 3 1/2 hours. She was questioned on suspicion of committing a racial public order offence and then released without charge. The school was said to be investigating what further action to take, not against the teacher, but against Stott. Headmaster Anthony Edkins reportedly said: "An allegation of a serious nature was made concerning a racially motivated remark. We aim to ensure a caring and tolerant attitude towards pupils of all ethnic backgrounds and will not stand for racism in any form..."

Read the rest.

The Coming of the Fourth American Republic

I see the Democrat Party as consisting of a collection of parasites on the productive economy that has lost any capacity to understand that they all depend on a healthy host. The groups regard the economy as a commons, and each is determined to loot as much as possible for as long as possible, regardless of the long term. Democrats make corresponding claims about the Republicans, of course.

...In the United States, legitimacy is conferred by elections, but it is not total. Through the ages, the basic question mark about democracy as a form of government has been that 51 percent of the electorate can band together to oppress the minority—“the tyranny of the majority” is a valid concern. To address it, the United States has a formal written Constitution to guarantee basic rights, but it also has an unwritten constitution that sets limits on how far the winners can push their victories. Exceed the amorphous bounds, and not only does the minority no longer accept the legitimacy of the government, many members of the majority coalition will have a guilty conscience as well, knowing that their acquiescence to the demands of one of their allies was a bad deed. As Thomas Jefferson said, “Great innovations should not be forced on slender majorities.”

Over the past few years, political winners have become increasingly aggressive, culminating in President Obama’s recent “We won” as an assertion of an unlimited mandate. Losers have become increasingly restive, ready to attack the legitimacy of the winners’ victory. Bush, in particular, was the target of an amazing and consistent campaign of de-legitimizing, and the opposition to Obama is on a hair trigger.

The merits of the case in each instance is a topic for another day, but the problem is a fact, and an important one. In particular, if each party is regarded by the other as a principle-free alliance of special interests, eager to claim the government so as to loot the other side, then a large chunk of legitimacy is lost. All that remains of that concept depends on the government’s ability to deliver overall economic prosperity and national defense, and if the rulers falter in either of these realms, they will receive no slack. Nor should they.

The frog in the pot of water will stay there if the heat is raised slowly enough. Turn up the heat suddenly and he will jump. The Tea parities are an indication that the frog is feeling the heat.

Read the whole thing.

The Truth About My Arrest at USC

For those who have not seen the video, it's really rather shocking...

I have had a rather bizarre career in media, but what happened last week on the campus of USC here in Los Angeles may end up marking one of the strangest and most disturbing episodes yet. I went to USC intending to simply let as many people as possible know that the award for “journalism excellence” they were giving Katie Couric for her Sarah Palin interview was a complete farce. To prove my point, I wanted to give away copies of my film “Media Malpractice,” which has my own Sarah Palin interview as a special feature. Instead, I ended up getting handcuffed, “arrested,” roughed up, detained, threatened, and forced off the premises.

One of Carville's 72-Year-Olds


Thomas Sowell asks: Are You An Extremist? and connects a few dots to the Obama Youth Corps our President promised to create during the election.

Reportedly, the FBI and the Defense Department are cooperating with the Department of Homeland Security in investigations of returning veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan. That people who have put their lives on the line for this country are made the target of what is called the Vigilant Eagle program suggests that this administration might be more of a threat than the people they are investigating.

All this activity takes on a more sinister aspect against the background of one of the statements of Barack Obama during last year's election campaign that got remarkably little attention in the media. He suggested the creation of a federal police force, comparable in size to the military.

Why such an organization? For what purpose?

Since there are state and local police forces all across the country, an FBI to investigate federal crimes and a Department of Justice to prosecute those who commit them, as well as a Defense Department with military forces, just what role would a federal police force play?

Maybe it was just one of those bright ideas that gets floated during an election campaign. Yet there was no grassroots demand for any such federal police nor any media clamor for it, so there was not even any political reason to suggest such a thing.

What would be different about a new federal police force, as compared to existing law enforcement and military forces? It would be a creation of the Obama administration, run by people appointed from top to bottom by that administration -- and without the conflicting loyalties of those steeped in existing military traditions and law enforcement traditions.

In short, a federal police force could become President Obama's personal domestic political army, his own storm troopers.

Perhaps there will never be such a federal police force. But the targeting of individuals and groups who believe in some of the fundamental values on which this country was founded, and people who have demonstrated their patriotism by volunteering for military service, suggests that this potential for political abuse is worth watching, as Obama tries to remake America to fit his vision.

Hmmmm! Here's the exact promise (via Joseph Farah):

"We cannot continue to rely on our military in order to achieve the national security objectives we've set. We've got to have a civilian national security force that's just as powerful, just as strong, just as well-funded."

Is there any other interpretation than that Obama wants an internal army that's as strong and as deadly as the military? In effect, a counterweight to the military? For what purpose? Did the Obama of 2008 not trust the military to remain under his control? Was this a foretaste of the accusation that returning veterans are radicals that will turn to terrorism?

In a multi-trillion dollar budget that no one reads, is there the beginning of a new national police force? Is there a connection to the heightened media coverage of Mexican gangs? Just asking.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Corruption in public pensions

Public pension funds differ from private pension funds because their shortfall can be covered by taxing the public. That’s also the reason why they often turn into political piggy banks.

Take the NY State’s public pension funds which enriched money managers and “fixers” millions of dollars.

The fact is that pension fund managers are paid millions of dollars in fees and these managers are often chosen not for their expertise but for who they pay off.

Performance of pension managers is often worse than your typical retail mutual fund.

In The Public Pension Shakedown the "play for pay" scandal is exposed for all to see. And the one who gets stuck with the bill is the long-suffering taxpayer who has to make up the losses created by the crooks who run this money.

Obama's latest budget-tightening effort hardly makes a dime's worth of difference

Via Yahoo
Cut a latte or two out of your annual budget and you've just done as much belt-tightening as President Barack Obama asked of his Cabinet on Monday.

The thrifty measures Obama ordered for federal agencies are the equivalent of asking a family that spends $60,000 in a year to save $6.

Obama made his push for frugality the subject of his first Cabinet meeting, ensuring it would command the capital's attention. It also set off outbursts of mental math and scribbled calculations as political friend and foe tried to figure out its impact.

The bottom line: Not much.

The president gave his Cabinet 90 days to find $100 million in savings to achieve over time.

For all the trumpeting, the effort raised questions about why Obama set the bar so low, considering that $100 million amounts to:

--Less than one-quarter of the budget increase that Congress awarded to itself.

--4 percent of the military aid the United States sends to Israel.

--Less than half the cost of one F-22 fighter plane.

--7 percent of the federal subsidy for the money-losing Amtrak passenger rail system.

--1/10,000th of the government's operating budgets for Cabinet agencies, excluding the Iraq and Afghan wars and the stimulus bill.

Obama only asked his Cabinet secretaries to identify waste in their annual operating budgets, which total a little over $1 trillion. He's leaving out war costs, the economic stimulus measure, the Wall Street bailout and benefit programs like Social Security and Medicare.

Cheney Calls For More CIA Reports To Be Declassified

Via Drudge:

In a two part interview airing tonight and tomorrow night on FOX News Channel’s Hannity (9-10PM ET), former Vice President Dick Cheney shared his thoughts on the CIA memos that were recently declassified and also revealed his request to the CIA to declassify additional memos that confirm the success of the Bush administration’s interrogation tactics:


“One of the things that I find a little bit disturbing about this recent disclosure is they put out the legal memos, the memos that the CIA got from the Office of Legal Counsel, but they didn't put out the memos that showed the success of the effort. And there are reports that show specifically what we gained as a result of this activity. They have not been declassified.”

“I formally asked that they be declassified now. I haven't announced this up until now, I haven't talked about it, but I know specifically of reports that I read, that I saw that lay out what we learned through the interrogation process and what the consequences were for the country.”

“And I've now formally asked the CIA to take steps to declassify those memos so we can lay them out there and the American people have a chance to see what we obtained and what we learned and how good the intelligence was, as well as to see this debate over the legal opinions.”


UPDATE: the video

You know you’re in a bureaucratic maze when your organizations’ name does not fit on your card.

One of the things that struck me about the Obama administration report on Right Wing Extremism was the name of the organization that published the report

It was the Extremism and Radicalization Branch of the Homeland Environment Threat Division of the Office of Intelligence and Analysis of the Department of Homeland Security.

Can this bunch of paper pushers get any more bureaucratic? This is not your typical SEALS team.

Jonah Goldberg has a good article on it. (Right) Winging It at the DHS
The Extremism and Radicalization Branch of the Homeland Environment Threat Analysis Division of the Department of Homeland Security issued a report last week. It’s called “Rightwing Extremism: Current Economic and Political Climate Fueling Resurgence in Radicalization and Recruitment.”

I had no idea there even was an ERBHETAD of the DHS working on the RECEPCFRRR.

Who among us doesn’t feel safer already?

Another thing that struck me is the fact that this kind of report either would not have been written by a Conservative administration. Conservatives are hyper sensitive to charges of racism, sexism, and all the other isms that populated the politically correct agenda. The Left would have howled in outrage and the press would have amplified that rage because it would have fit the MSM template of the Right as proto-Fascists who are constantly looking for ways to crack down on dissent.

The Left is remarkably tone-deaf to these issues simply because they know that they are in the right and there is simply no media outrage over the suppression of dissent when it comes to the Left. The media template just does not exist for a Leftist program to silence dissent. Witness the virtual black-out of news about Conservatives being shouted down and physically threatened on college campuses. The only way we find out about this is via the Internet and op-eds in the Wall Street Journal.

Thank the Army of Davids for making an issue of it.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Getting Beyond Race Will Take Another Administration

Victor Davis Hason
The Washington Post informs us of the presidential visit to Latin American with a headline “Race a Dominant Theme at Summit.” It then goes on to describe how Obama resonates with those leaders of “indigenous” heritage in Latin America.

Something here is not quite right. Our president ran on a platform of racial transcendence, but he now heads south to talk race ("The president put it [race] on the table very explicitly" at the opening ceremony, said a senior Obama administration official who participates in closed-door meetings with the president.”) with some leaders who have explicitly employed racially charged stereotypes, such as Chavez’s use of “Go to Hell, Gringos,” or Brazil’s president Lula's reference to “white blue-eyed” bankers who caused the financial meltdown.
A common denominator with Obama's easy emphasis on racial divides—when juxtaposed to past evocation abroad of his Muslim sensitivities and middle name, serial apologies about American sins and pathologies, and constant denunciation of his predecessor—is a sense that the past tradition of America is culpable and therefore not his own—made explicit in his response to Daniel Ortega's diatribe that he was just three months old during the Bay of Pigs troubles, and by extension not responsible for American transgressions. Again, separately all these new approaches are in themselves understandable, but in the aggregate they form a disturbing pattern seen earlier with the off-handed remarks about "typical white person," the stereotyping of rural Pennsylvanians along lines of class and race, and the 20-year long patronage of a clearly racist preacher.

At some point, Obama needs to take a hiatus from this racialist identification, and, like a Sec. Condoleezza Rice, transcend race, let achievements and policies speak for themselves, and thus rise or fall on the content of his own character.

Well I suppose that a public figure like Hanson must pretend that Obama is not deliberately stoking racial divisions lest he be pilloried as a racist. But as a lowly blogger I can say about the Liberal pieties which we all know to be lies: "I have not flattered its rank breath, nor bowed to its idolatries a patient knee."

So what shall we call it?

My local paper, the Virginian Pilot is in high dudgeon about the labels being thrown around regarding Barack Obama. They begin with a red herring: the fact that George Bush was called a fascist during his time in office. But that's a little disingenuous, as Jonah Goldberg explains, it doesn't take Guantanamo or a new entitlement to get you labelled a Fascist:

I suspect - but can't prove - that the Pilot's editors are a little upset over the success of the "Tea Parties" and are ready to explain to the people who participated:


For a fuller explanation of their argument check out the video
Shut Up, They Explained: Andrew Klavan on the Left's Favorite Argument

So let's take a look at the Pilot's reasoning:

It's not fascism, folks. It wasn't fascism when George W. Bush opened a prison for suspected terrorists at Guantanomo [sic] Bay. It wasn't fascism when Barack Obama forced out the head of General Motors Corp.

For some reason I can't remember the Pilot's editorial staff getting exercised about Bush being called a fascist for opening and operating Guantanamo. And what does fascism have to do with that facility anyhow? The characteristics of fascism are the subordination of the individual to the group, economic and social regimentation, the whole thing headed by a supreme leader. Does that describe the Bush administration? Not in my view. But when the country's leader can force out the chairman of General Motors and its entire board of directors, threatens the leaders of the country's major banks with physical harm and tell them what their wages are, and pledges to take over the country's health care and school system, that begins to look less and less like a free market economy and more and more like a fascist state.

The Pilot invokes Godwin's Law only in times when its pet politicians are on the receiving end:

One of the many wonderful things about Internet life is the attention it brings to the forms our debates take. Eighteen years ago, a lawyer named Mike Godwin came up with a law that now bears his name: "As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or [Adolf] Hitler approaches one."

It's a law equally and sadly useful for modern political conversations, which seem to inevitably devolve into charges that one party or the other is just like the Nazis, or the Soviets, or like George Orwell's imaginings. The problem is that such charges are made with little care for accuracy or historical precedent.

This may be true but is also irrelevant. People invoke Godwin's Law to tell others to "shut up."

The idea that any country, even the US, is immune from degenerating into a collectivist, socialist, fascist or even communist society is not only nonsense, but nonsense on stilts. History is filled with the rise and fall of countries and empires. For some reason, certain people - especially those on the Left - feel that they can fiddle with the social contract endlessly without eventually destroying the basic essence of what makes America unique. In a country where nearly half the people pay no income tax, the fear that the un-taxed can vote themselves the earnings of the taxpayers is real, especially when some members of this government see a 90% tax rate as their goal.

It is worthwhile to point out that Herr Hitler became Germany's leader legally. That he was a charismatic leader. That he was a skilled speaker able to arouse the emotions of the crowds he addressed. That he had a compliant press. That he came into office at a time of severe economic problems for the German people.

That does not make Obama another Hitler. But what it does make clear is that during times of stress, many people are willing to turn their freedom over to a charismatic leader who promises to protect and aid them if they will only give him the power to fix things.

As I said in a previous post, the Pilot editorial is designed to leap to the defense of Obama, who has taken control of General Motors, demanded the sale of Chrysler to the French and is temporarily stymied by Ford in his clean sweep of the US auto industry. The nation’s banks are already subservient to Team Obama. Part of the Obama plan is to nationalize health care (in the guise of providing medical insurance to everybody), to control energy production (via drilling bans, cap-and-trade, and CO2 regulation) and to take over the nation’s schools, perhaps using his associate in Chicago school reform, Bill Ayers, as the model for America's schools in the future.

To the casual observer it would seem that well over half of the nation’s economy would be run out of Washington, never mind whose name is found on the door of the doctors’ office, the school, the utility company or the auto manufacturer.

So what would be the name of this type of command and control economy where the government calls the tune?

The Pilot’s editors don’t say, they just don’t want it labeled with terms they don’t like, like Fascism, Socialism or Communism. To them these terms mean millions of dead bodies under Hitler and Stalin. That is what Liberals think of when they call their opponents fascists.

For the historically impaired, that may very well be what comes to mind. But for people whose minds were not molded by schools that no longer teach history, these terms can and do apply.

The reality is that Fascism was not a German phenomenon, but Italian. Jonah Goldberg wrote an excellent book about it called Liberal Fascism which pointed out that during the 1930s the “progressives” in the US were perfectly fine with the Fascist programs in Europe. In fact, they wished to emulate the command and control aspects of state control of vital industries, believing that they could do a better job than the private sector.

If the Virginian Pilot wishes to shy away from terms that have become tainted by being associated with the Holocaust, the Gulag and World War 2 I can appreciate their squeamishness. But then I would suggest they try to create a new term for a country in which the central government makes the vital decision about our medical care, our cars, our fuel, our electricity, our schools, and the ever increasing amount of our work year we are working not for ourselves but for the government. The last number is about 103 days a year for the average citizen. For the statistically impaired, that’s about one-third of our lives that are not our own. And if you don’t think that number is about to grow, you may also believe in the tooth fairy, be an editorial writer for the Virginian Pilot, be and advocate of a 90% tax rate, or all three..

A growing number of people have a vision of the state where individuals and institutions alike must march in step and take orders from the government. There is nothing like a war or a financial crisis for people who believe in group solidarity to support a government takeover of national functions that in a free system would be left to individuals.

So in a genuine attempt to help the editors of the Virginian Pilot, I'll make a suggestion for a term that can be applied to the American economy as it is evolving: Obamaism.

UPDATE: The Volokh Conspiracy relives the glory days. The days when Bush was Hitler, or was it Cheney? Funny, I distinctly remember that the Virginian Pilot did not write one editorial saying that their side of the aisle had abandoned reason.

The hard left decided long ago that George W. Bush is Hitler. In maddened corners of the Internet and at swastika-choked antiwar marches, Bush is shown with a Nazi uniform or a Hitler mustache. But does everyone on the far left believe this? Not at all. Some think that Dick Cheney is the real Hitler (he commands America’s “storm-trooper legions,” said former right-wing crackpot and current left-wing crackpot Lyndon LaRouche). Others think Don Rumsfeld is Hitler (both men favored mountain­top retreats, the Action Coalition of Taos points out). These comparisons are still being argued. Air Force veteran Douglas Herman, writing an op-ed piece in Florida, says Rumsfeld is more like Goering, since both men were fighter pilots, while LaRouche decided that Cheney isn’t just Hitler — he’s Lady Macbeth as well.

Many on the left believe that either Ari Fleischer or Karl Rove is Nazi propagandist Joseph Goebbels. Or maybe Richard Perle is related to Goebbels. The September issue of Vanity Fair suggested that Perle could be Goebbels’s twin (side by side photos, headlined “Separated at birth?”).

Another vexing question about Rove: Is he Goebbels or Josef Mengele? Goebbels is the top choice among antiwar commentators, but a writer to the MetaFilter site said: “Karl Rove made up stories about John McCain, just as Josef Mengele conducted medical experiments on children in Auschwitz.”

And was it the wildwest Internet making these accusations? Why no. It was luminaries like
James Abourezk

Tom Ammiano, SF Board of Supervisors

Edward Asner

William Ayers, professor and author

Russell Banks, writer

Ed Begley, Jr.

Harry Belafonte

Dave Berenson, US Green Party, Cleveland

William Blum

Gabriel Byrne

Campus Anti-War Network (CAN)

Tim Carpenter, dir., Progressive Democrats of America

Chicago ADAPT


Margaret Cho

Ward Churchill

David Cobb, 2004 Green Party Presidential Candidate

US Rep John Conyers Jr.,

Barry Crimmins, writer/correspondent, Air America Radio

Code Pink: Women for Peace

Culture Clash

DC Anti-War Network

Carl Dix, Revolutionary Communist Party

Tom Duane, NY State Senator

Michael Eric Dyson, author, Is Bill Cosby Right?

Steve Earle

Edwin Ellis, president, Veterans for Peace, LA*

Daniel Ellsberg, author of The Pentagon Papers

Christian Ettinger, exec. producer, The Weather Underground

Jodie Evans, Code Pink

Jane Fonda

Global Justice & Peace Ministries, Riverside Church, NYC

Senator Mike Gravel

Andy Griggs, Exec. Board, United Teachers of LA*

Paul Haggis, film director/producer, Crash

Impeach Bush Coalition

Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA Relief USA)

Islamic Association of America

Abdeen Jabara, past pres., American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee*

Rev. Jesse L. Jackson

Bianca Jagger, actress & activist

Mumia Abu-Jamal, political prisoner, journalist

Rickie Lee Jones, musician

Casey Kasem

Robin D.G. Kelley, Columbia University

M. Ali Khan, American Muslim Council

Margot Kidder

C. Clark Kissinger

Ron Kovic, author, Vietnam Veteran

Jonathan Kozol

Ray Laforest, organizer, DC 1707, AFSCME; member Pacifica National Board

Rabbi Michael Lerner, editor, Tikkun magazine

Bruce Lincoln, prof., History of Religions, Univ. of Chicago

Gregory Maguire, author, Wicked

Lucinda Marshall, founder, Feminist Peace Network*

Bill Martin, philosopher

US Rep. Cynthia McKinney

Bill Mitchell, co-founder, Gold Star Families for Peace*

Viggo Mortensen

National Lawyers Guild

Armando Navarro, chair, Ethnic Studies, UC Riverside

Northwestern College Feminists

Not in Our Name

Bertell Ollman, prof., Dept. of Politics, NYU

R. Tomás Olmos, Pres., Mexican-Amer. Bar Found., LA County

Jose Padilla, exec. dir., CA Rural Legal Assistance*

Grace Paley, writer

Patrick Henry Democratic Club

Sean Penn

Rosalind Petchesky, prof., Hunter College & Grad Center, CUNY

Jeremy Pikser, screenwriter, Bulworth

Harold Pinter, playwright, 2005 Nobel Prize winner

Frances Fox Piven

Progressive Democrats of America

Michael Ratner, Center for Constitutional Rights*

Scott Ritter, former UN weapons inspector

US Rep. Bobby Rush

San Francisco Bayview Newspaper

Susan Sarandon

John Sayles, filmmaker

Richard Serra

Cindy Sheehan

Martin Sheen

Gloria Steinem

Lynne Stewart, lawyer

Studs Terkel

Gore Vidal

Kurt Vonnegut

Alice Walker

US Rep. Maxine Waters

Wavy Gravy

Leonard Weinglass, lawyer

Cornel West, Princeton University

Standish E. Willis, Nat. Conference of Black Lawyers

Ann Wright, former US diplomat, resigned in protest of Iraq war

Peter Yarrow

Leland Y. Yee, Speaker pro Tem, CA State Assembly

Juanita Young, leader, October 22nd Coalition*

David Zeiger, filmmaker, Sir, No Sir!

Howard Zinn, historian, A Peoples' History of the United States

The Virginian Pilot Discovers Civility

The editors of the Virginian Pilot are leaping to the defense of the government … now that it’s in the hands of their party.

Unfortunately for reasoned discourse, their editors went to Journalism School, probably because they failed to pass a history course.

They leap to the defense of George Bush, denying he established a Fascist dictatorship when he put terrorists in Guantanamo, tried to stabilize the banks, and signed a new prescription drug benefit bill.

But that’s a throw away. Bush is back in Texas and in no position to threaten anyone or anything.

The whole exercise is designed to leap to the defense of Obama, who has taken control of General Motors, demanded the sale of Chrysler to the French and is temporarily stymied by Ford in his clean sweep of the US auto industry. The nation’s banks are already subservient to Team Obama. Part of the Obama plan is to nationalize health care, to control energy production and development and to take over the nation’s schools, perhaps using his associate in Chicago school reform, Bill Ayers, as the model for America's schools in the future.

To the casual observer it would seem that well over half of the nation’s economy would be run out of Washington, never mind whose name is found on the door of the doctors’ office, the school, the utility company or the auto manufacturer.

So what would be the name of this type of command and control economy where the government calls the tune?

The Pilot’s editors don’t say, they just don’t want it labeled with terms they don’t like, like Fascism, Socialism or Communism. To them these terms mean millions of dead bodies under Hitler and Stalin.

For the historically impaired, that may very well be what comes to mind. But for people whose minds were not molded by schools that no longer teach history, these terms can and do apply.

One term that comes close is Fascism, which was not a German phenomenon, but Italian. Jonah Goldberg wrote an excellent book about it called Liberal Fascism which pointed out that during the 1930s the “progressives” in the US were perfectly fine with the Fascist programs in Europe. In fact, they wished to emulate the command and control aspects of state control of vital industries, believing that they could do a better job than the private sector.

If the Virginian Pilot wishes to shy away from terms that have become tainted by being associated with the Holocaust, the Gulag and World War 2 I can appreciate their squeamishness. But then I would suggest they try to create a new term for a country in which the central government makes the vital decision about our medical care, our cars, our fuel, our electricity, our schools, and the ever increasing amount of our work year we are working not for ourselves but for the government. The last number is about 103 days a year for the average citizen. For the statistically impaired, that’s about one-third of our lives that are no our own. And if you don’t think that number is about to grow, you may also believe in the tooth fairy … or be an editorial writer for the Virginian Pilot.

A growing number of people have a vision of the state where individuals and institutions alike must march in step and take orders from the government. There is nothing like a war or a financial crisis for people who believe in group solidarity to support a government takeover of national functions that in a free system would be left to individuals.

So in a genuine attempt to help the editors of the Virginian Pilot, I'll make a suggestion for a term that can be applied to the American economy as it is evolving: Obamaism.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Night of the Living Government

Klavan on the culture.
What's the difference between government and zombies? Less than you may think.

Susan Boyle - Singer - Britains Got Talent 2009

Click on the link

Bush Deficit vs. Obama Deficit

My sister has been having an interesting e-mail exchange by a man who claims to be a Republican but blames the current deficit on Bush, claiming
First, we all know that the budget deficit was started during the Bush administration.
I wrote her back with some talking points. But for those who try to suggest that the Bush deficits are in any way comparable to the spending spree that Obama has embarked on, check this out:

While the link is to the Heritage Foundation, the graphic is from the Washington Post.

President Barack Obama has repeatedly claimed that his budget would cut the deficit by half by the end of his term. But as Heritage analyst Brian Riedl has pointed out, given that Obama has already helped quadruple the deficit with his stimulus package, pledging to halve it by 2013 is hardly ambitious. The Washington Post has a great graphic which helps put President Obama’s budget deficits in context of President Bush’s.

Best Buds

An interesting connection. It seems that Obama associate, Bill Ayers, gave a speech before Hugo Chavez and other assembled "comrades" in 2006:
President Hugo Chavez, … invited guests, comrades. I’m honored and humbled to be here with you this morning. I bring greetings and support from your brothers and sisters throughout Northamerica [sic]! Welcome to the World Education Forum. Amamos la revolucion Bolivariana! ...

[M]y comrade and friend Luis Bonilla, a brilliant educator and inspiring fighter for justice … has taught me a great deal about the Bolivarian Revolution [i.e., Chavez's movement] and about the profound educational reforms underway here in Venezuela under the leadership of President Chavez. We share the belief that education is the motor-force of revolution, and I’ve come to appreciate Luis as a major asset in both the Venezuelan and the international struggle—I look forward to seeing how he and all of you continue to overcome the failings of capitalist education as you seek to create something truly new and deeply humane…. [For more information on the Venezuelan socialist Luis Bonilla-Montoya, see here.]

I began teaching when I was 20 yeas old in a small freedom school affiliated with the Civil Rights Movement in the United States. The year was 1965, and I’d been arrested in a demonstration. Jailed for ten days, I met several activists who were finding ways to link teaching and education with deep and fundamental social change. They were following Dewey and DuBois, King and Helen Keller who wrote: “We can’t have education without revolution. We have tried peace education for 1,900 years and it has failed. Let us try revolution and see what it will do now.”

I walked out of jail and into my first teaching position—and from that day until this I’ve thought of myself as a teacher, but I’ve also understood teaching as a project intimately connected with social justice. After all, the fundamental message of the teacher is this: you can change your life—whoever you are, wherever you’ve been, whatever you’ve done, another world is possible. As students and teachers begin to see themselves as linked to one another, as tied to history and capable of collective action, the fundamental message of teaching shifts slightly, and becomes broader, more generous: we must change ourselves as we come together to change the world. Teaching invites transformations, it urges revolutions small and large. La educacion es revolucion!

… [I’ve] learned that education is never neutral. It always has a value, a position, a politics. Education either reinforces or challenges the existing social order, and school is always a contested space—what should be taught? In what way? Toward what end? By and for whom? At bottom, it involves a struggle over the essential questions: what does it mean to be a human being living in a human society?

Totalitarianism demands obedience and conformity, hierarchy, command and control. Royalty requires allegiance. Capitalism promotes racism and materialism—turning people into consumers, not citizens. Participatory democracy, by contrast, requires free people coming together, voluntarily as equals who are capable of both self-realization and, at the same time, full participation in a shared political and economic life.

… Venezuelans have shown the world that with full participation, full inclusion, and popular empowerment, the failing of capitalist schooling can be resisted and overcome. Venezuela is a beacon to the world in its accomplishment of eliminating illiteracy in record time, and engaging virtually the entire population in the ongoing project of education.

… [W]e, too, must build a project of radical imagination and fundamental change. Venezuela is poised to offer the world a new model of education—a humanizing and revolutionary model whose twin missions are enlightenment and liberation.

Viva Mission Sucre!

Viva Presidente Chavez!

Viva La Revolucion Bolivariana!

Hasta La Victroria Siempre!

Obama and Cavez share a friend and soulmate.

Conservative speakers now have bodyguards when they visit universities.

David Horowitz:

I arrived in Austin, Texas, one evening recently to give a speech about academic freedom at the university there. Entering the hall where I was to give my speech, I was greeted -- if that's the word -- by a raucous protest organized by a professor and self-styled Bolshevik, Dana Cloud. Forty protesters hoisted placards high in the air and robotically chanted "Down With Horowitz," "Racist Go Home," and "No More Witch-hunts."


At the end of the evening, Prof. Cloud stepped up to the microphone to ask a question, which was actually a little speech. Even though the protocol for such occasions restricts audience participants from making their own speeches, I did her the courtesy she tried to deny me by letting her talk.

She presented herself as a devoted teacher and mother who was obviously harmless. Then she accused me of being a McCarthyite menace. Disregarding the facts I had laid out in my talk -- that I have publicly defended the right of University of Colorado's radical professor Ward Churchill to hold reprehensible views and not be fired for them, and that I supported the leftist dean of the law school at UC Irvine when his appointment was withdrawn for political reasons -- she accused me of whipping up a "witch-hunting hysteria" that made her and her faculty comrades feel threatened.

When Ms. Cloud finished, I pointed out that organizing mobs to scream epithets at invited speakers fit the category of "McCarthyite" a lot more snugly than my support for a pluralism of views in university classrooms. I gestured toward the armed officers in the room -- the university had assigned six or seven to keep the peace -- and introduced my own bodyguard, who regularly accompanies other conservative speakers when they visit universities. In the past, I felt uncomfortable about taking protection to a college campus until a series of physical attacks at universities persuaded me that such precautions were necessary. (When I spoke at the University of Texas two years ago, Ms. Cloud and her disciples had to be removed by the police in order for the talk to proceed.)

I don't know of a single leftist speaker among the thousands who visit campuses every term who has been obstructed or attacked by conservative students, who are too decent and too tolerant to do that. The entire evening in Texas reminded me of the late Orianna Fallaci's observation that what we are facing in the post-9/11 world is not a "clash of civilizations," but a clash of civilization versus barbarism.
Are we becoming Weimar USA?

An obscene insult

The star hosts of CNN and MSNBC news shows have notoriously derided the tea party demonstrations around the country with reference to the homosexual practice of teabagging (which I had never heard of before they brought it up). As John noted, both networks' "journalists" used the rallies as an occasion for childish sexual innuendoes -- in the case of MSNBC, the same obscene teabag "joke" was repeated 51 times in a 13-minute segment. ...

There is something funny going on here, if not exactly where Cooper, Maddow and Sullivan find it. Cooper is widely reputed to be homosexual. Maddow and Sullivan are of course public homosexuals. It is funny in an ironic sort of way that these folks choose to disparage the tea party protestors from somewhere deep inside the homosexual subculture. Why not just call the protestors girly boys and let everyone in on the joke? Or would that spoil the fun?

There is not only something funny going on here, there is a story here. These supposed journalists and their networks (or publisher, in Sullivan's case) have rather seriously insulted the citizens who colorfully took to the streets to air respectable views in a most civil fashion. If they had any decency, Cooper et al. would apologize for their vile reference to homosexual practices in the context of ordinary citizens exercising their First Amendment rights.

NGC 1333 Stardust

Friday, April 17, 2009

"DHS Is Coming To Town"

Too good not to repeat. (Sung to the tune of "Santa Claus is coming to town")
Oh, you better shut up
You better not post
Napolitano's checking
Your internet host
DHS is coming to town!

She's making a list
Of terrorist types
Abusing her power and
Invading our lives
DHS is coming to town!

She sees what you've been typing
She knows that you're extreme
She knows you love America
So you're ripe to take the blame!

So, you better shut up
You better not post
Napolitano's checking
Your internet host
DHS is coming to town!
From LearsFool at FreeRepublic.