Saturday, October 31, 2009

Scozzafava bows out of NY-23 race Update: Scozzafava throws support to Democrat Owens

From Politico:
Republican Dede Scozzafava announced Saturday that she is suspending her campaign in the Nov. 3 House special election in New York, a dramatic development that increases the GOP's chances of winning the contentious and closely-watched race.
"In recent days, polls have indicated that my chances of winning this election are not as strong as we would like them to be. The reality that I've come to accept is that in today's political arena, you must be able to back up your message with money—and as I've been outspent on both sides, I've been unable to effectively address many of the charges that have been made about my record,” she said in a statement.
“It is increasingly clear that pressure is mounting on many of my supporters to shift their support. Consequently, I hereby release those individuals who have endorsed and supported my campaign to transfer their support as they see fit to do so. I am and have always been a proud Republican.”
This comes after many prominent conservatives, including Sarah Palin, Tim Pawlenty, and Fred Thompson, endorsed Conservative candidate Hoffman. It is clearly a blow to Scozzafava supporters, including Newt Gingrich and the Republican National Committee (RNC).  To Michael Steele's credit, the RNC shifted its endorsement to Hoffman this morning.  This could be a big boost to Hoffman, but John Hinderaker at is not sure:
Recent polling has shown Scozzafava's support collapsing, while the race between Hoffman and Democrat Bill Owens is too close to call. It is not clear that that Scozzafava's withdrawal will help Hoffman, as by this point most of her support may well be coming from voters who are more closely aligned, ideologically, with Owens. Still, if Hoffman can win on Tuesday, it will be viewed as a watershed movement in the resurgence of conservatism.
A conservative congressional win in upstate New York would be a huge vote of no confidence for the President and the liberal controlled Congress.  Keep your fingers crossed.

Update:  Today Dede Scozzafava announced her support for Democrat candidate Bill Owens.  This seems to validate her critics' position that she was a Republican in name only.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Wake up, America!

Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi "unveiled" her long dreaded health care reform bill today.  Jonathan Allen at Politico describes it thus:
It runs more pages than War and Peace, has nearly five times as many words as the Torah, and its tables of contents alone run far longer than this story.

The House health care bill unveiled Thursday clocks in at 1,990 pages and about 400,000 words. With an estimated 10-year cost of $894 billion, that comes out to about $2.24 million per word. .

And for some members, that may not be enough.

A “robust” public option can’t be found in the bill. Neither can the word “doctor” – save for a few references to degrees. No “cost curve” is bent. No “blue pill” is dispensed.

“Death” and “taxes” are both in there, but “death panel” is not.

The text defines dozens of words and phrases, including “family” (“an individual and . . . the individual’s dependents”), “health insurance coverage,” “exchange-eligible individual” and “Indian.”

And for those who cry “read the bill,” beware. There are plenty of paragraphs like this one:

“(a) Outpatient Hospitals – (1) In General – Section 1833(t)(3)(C)(iv) of the Social Security Act (42 U.S.C. 1395(t)(3)(C)(iv)) is amended – (A) in the first sentence – (i) by inserting “(which is subject to the productivity adjustment described in subclause (II) of such section)” after “1886(b)(3)(B)(iii); and (ii) by inserting “(but not below 0)” after “reduced”; and (B) in the second sentence, by inserting “and which is subject, beginning with 2010 to the productivity adjustment described in section 1886(b)(3)(B)(iii)(II)”.

The section deals with “incorporating productivity improvements into market basket updates that do not already incorporate such improvements,” if that helps.
Got that?  Fox News also reports today that the bill has 3,425 occurrences of the word "shall."  In other words, it is replete with orders, dictates, mandates, decrees, commands, ordinances, directives, instructions, fiats, obligations......... you get the picture.  Isn't this what our founding fathers and colonial predecessors revolted against?

Wake up, America!  The health care debate heretofore has been about ideology.  These questions have been examined ad nauseum in (secret) detail.

What should the government do?
What services should the government provide?
To whom should the government guarantee health care?
What services should the government provide to those for whom it selects to provide government health care?
At what prices should the government reimburse health care providers for services to the government's covered insured?
How should the government penalize employers who do not provide government approved health insurance their employees?
How should the government penalize individuals who do not purchase government approved health insurance?
How should the government tax people who already have really good insurance?
How should the government price its health insurance premiums to insure that private health insurance providers are kept honest?

Okay, if that doesn't give you the creeps, and you believe that money flows from heaven, please consider what is missing from the debate.  Honestly, what evidence do we have that the federal government is even remotely capable of managing and delivering health care to 300 million people?  When the evil insurance companies fold and private physicians acquiesce, retire or leave the medical profession altogether, that is what the health care demand will look like.

To repeat a Dick Morris quote from my earlier post today:

If it can't run the epidemiological equivalent of a two-car funeral, how can Obama promise that the government will do an adequate job of managing the nation's health care system?

Best line of the day

The best line of the day comes from the inimitable Dick Morris and Eileen McGann at Jewish World Review, in evaluating the federal government's handling of the H1N1 vaccine:
If it can't run the epidemiological equivalent of a two-car funeral, how can Obama promise that the government will do an adequate job of managing the nation's health care system?
 Read the entire article here.

Anita Dunn's alibi debunked

From Mickey Kaus at Slate:

Anita Dunn's Alibi: The Case of the Confusing Chinese?

Obama Communications Director Anita Dunn says she was only cribbing from Lee Atwater when she approvingly quoted from Mao Tse-Tung in a graduation speech. ... Funny thing, though. I can't find a place where Atwater cited Mao. I can find lots of places where Atwater referenced Sun Tzu, whose Art of War he supposedly carried around in dog eared form. ... Hmmm .... [Thanks to alert reader D.] 5:52 P.M.
I'm glad somebody checked this out.  When I first heard about Anita Dunn's invocation of Atwater as an explanation of her "Mao favorite philosopher satire", it immediately rang hollow to me.
"My source for the Mao quote was actually the late Lee Atwater, either in an article or bio I read after the 1988 election. Now that I’ve revealed this I hope I don’t get Keith Olbermann angry with me," she wrote, noting that she had also quoted Mother Teresa.
The Lee Atwater that I remember, would have never said such a thing.  And how convenient and contemptible it was for her to affiliate herself with a deceased antithetical political rival.  The fact that she lied, speaks for itself.

Jimmy Carter National Park?

Cheryl Chumley sounds the pork alarm today in the Washington Examiner, with her op-ed piece about H.R.1471, which will expand the boundary of the Jimmy Carter National Historic Site in the State of Georgia, to redesignate it as a National Historical Park.  This bill was passed by a voice vote in the House and sent to the Senate yesterday.  The Senate has a similar bill, S742, introduced by Senator Johnny Isakson back in March.

Perhaps this expansion is needed to accommodate the throngs of people making the trek to Plains, Georgia each year to pay tribute to the worst president in American history.  That's not the case, as Chumley explains:
A National Historic Site is a National Park Service program that already receives federal dollars. But little justification outside of political favor exists for this upgrade to Historical Park, and expanded boundaries will bring the demand for larger appropriations.

On top of that, the National Park Service already reports a dwindling number of visitors to the Jimmy Carter National Historic Site, recording 87,413 who made the trip in fiscal 2006 compared with 84,355 in fiscal 2008. It's doubtful the addition of the nearby visitors center to the site, and a change of label from Historic Site to Historical Park, would dramatically improve the attendance levels.

NPS forecasts for traveler turnout to the site don't bode well, either. By 2010, site visits are only expected to rise by 1.4 percent from 2008 levels, according to the Public Use Statistics Office within the NPS.
Kurt Repanshek, at the National Parks Traveler, raised questions back in June:
Is this how low the bar has dropped for inclusion into the National Park System? Is it really so low that a gas station once owned by the beer-swilling brother of President Jimmy Carter should be managed as part of a national historical park by the National Park Service?

Sure, sure, sure, President Carter was the only Georgian to reach the White House as resident, and Billy Carter certainly attracted more than his share of notoriety -- Billy Beer, anyone? But why oh why would anyone want to include Billy's gas station at 216 West Church Street in the heart of downtown Plains, Georgia (Pop. 635) in a national historical park honoring President Carter?

Oh, that's right. While the NPS currently oversees the Jimmy Carter National Historic Site, pending legislation introduced by U.S. Rep. Sanford Bishop, D-Ga., and U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., would transform the "historic site" into a national "historical park." By comparison, Valley Forge is also a national historical park, one without an official gas station to the best of my recollection.
The interesting tidbit is this:
The welcome center is the least visited of all 11 state-run visitors sites in Georgia, only logging 65,000 visitors in the past year, according to media reports in February and March. So the state, facing a reported deficit of $2.6 billion, looked to cut $186,000 in funding to the center.
What a boondoggle!  The State of Georgia can no longer afford to maintain the place, so we EXPAND it and send the bill to the federal government.

The fact that this legislation is sponsored and co-sponsored by Republicans Johnny Isakson, Saxby Chambliss, Jack Kingston and Phil Gingrey is shameful.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Michelle Bachmann exposes ACORN refunding

Have you heard this? H/T Seton Motley at Newsbusters.

Silencing voices for school choice.

Sheryl Blunt writes today in the Weekly Standard:
President Obama isn't taking kindly to a television ad that criticizes his opposition to a popular scholarship program for poor children, and his administration wants the ad pulled.

Former D.C. Councilmember Kevin Chavous of D.C. Children First said October 16 that U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder had recently approached him and told him to kill the ad.

The 30-second ad, which has been airing on FOX News, CNN, MSNBC, and News Channel 8 to viewers in D.C., Maryland, and Virginia, urges the president to reauthorize the federally-funded D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program that provides vouchers of up to $7,500 for D.C. students to attend private schools.

The ad features Chavous and a young boy--one of 216 students whose scholarships were rescinded by the Department of Education earlier this year when the agency announced no new students would be allowed into the program. The ad also includes an excerpt taken from one of Obama's campaign statements.

"We're losing several generations of kids," Obama says, "and something has to be done."

"President Obama is ending a program that helps low-income kids go to better schools, refusing to let any new children in," Chavous says in the ad. "I'm a lifelong Democrat, and I support our president. But it's wrong that he won't support an education program that helps our kids learn."

The young 5th-grade student then pleads for the president's help."President Obama, I need a good education right now," he says. "You can help. Do it for me."

The nation's first black president has come under intense criticism for failing to support the program that is helping poor African-American students escape some of the nation's most dangerous and worst-performing public schools. After embracing the teachers unions' anti-voucher stance, the president now finds himself in the uncomfortable and awkward position of denying students access to a program that has strong bipartisan, local support, and that multiple studies say is helping poor African-American children succeed.

Little wonder then that the president and powerful allies like Holder--many of whom have benefited from school choice and are currently sending their children to expensive private schools--want the ad to go away.
The President's position is not about education and it is not about America's children.  It is about the teachers' unions:
The National Education Association (NEA), the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) and People for the American Way have been waging a massive campaign to try to kill the voucher program, which they say takes money and focus away from public schools and is discriminatory.

"Vouchers are not real education reform," wrote the NEA's Director of Government Relations Diane Shust in a June letter to U.S. Senators. "Pulling children out of the public school system doesn't solve problems--it ignores them."

But in a revealing 2006 comment to the Washington Post, Washington Teachers Union President George Parker (whose parent union is the AFT) explained what really worries the teachers unions, and why children must not be allowed to leave D.C.'s troubled public schools.

"The landscape has changed. Our parents are voting with their feet," Parker said. "As kids continue leaving the system, we will lose teachers. Our very survival depends on having kids in D.C. schools so we'll have teachers to represent." [...]
The price the teacher's unions and their members were willing to pay to ensure their presidential candidate's success was steep. In August of 2008 the NEA announced a $50 million election campaign plan to elect Obama by targeting swing states.

According to the Center for Responsive Politics, Obama received $22.9 million from individuals affiliated with the "Education Industry" during the 2008 election cycle alone. That's a whopping $21.1 million more than Sen. John McCain received from the same industry. These donations came predominately from individuals--many of whom are teachers' union members--employed by educational institutions, colleges and schools. Teacher's unions spent millions more dollars on independent expenditures on Obama's behalf that is not even included in these figures.
Senator Joe Lieberman has introduced a bill that would reauthorize the voucher plan, and it has wide support in the senate.  This should be interesting.

You can see the ad here. H/T

This is an important video on school choice from Voices of School Choice:
Let Me Rise– a 30-minute film produced by The Heritage Foundation about the school choice debate in our nation’s capital and around the country – offers a compelling look at the future of the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program as told through the voices of the children whose educational futures continue to hang in the balance.
  Watch it here.

FDA to ban sale of raw oysters from Gulf of Mexico

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has announced its plan to ban the sale of live oysters harvested from the Gulf of Mexico unless they are treated to destroy potentially deadly bacteria.  The Star (Florida) reports:
The oyster industry, fresh from a surprise announcement at the Interstate Shellfish Sanitation Conference in New Hampshire this week, is reiterating its stern opposition to a newly-announced federal ban on raw oysters during summer months, set to begin in 2011.

Oyster industry officials are saying a proposed U.S. Food and Drug Administration ban on raw oysters from May to October will put thousands of Gulf Coast men and women out of work and crush a clean, sustainable fishery.

On Saturday, the FDA told the ISSC that the agency plans to ban the sale of live, in-the-shell Gulf Coast oysters for as much as eight months every year. The proposed ban was developed without public input and FDA officials admit they have not analyzed the economic impact. Officials have also suggested that new restrictions may be in the works for West Coast and East Coast shellfish.
The oyster industry is predictably blasting the decision. Again quoting the Star:
“This would cost us thousands of jobs and tens of millions of dollars if we were unable to sell our oysters as we do today. The new FDA direction makes no sense – Louisiana is still struggling to recover from Hurricane Katrina,” said Al Sunseri of P & J Oyster Co. in New Orleans.

FDA officials suggested that consumers of live half-shell oysters will willingly switch to frozen or processed versions of the traditional Gulf Coast food, but that’s absurd, according to restaurant owner Chris Hastings.

“I’m not buying a frozen or pasteurized oyster,” says Hastings, owner of the Hot and Hot Fish Club in Birmingham, Alabama, a nationally recognized restaurant specializing in fresh, regional food. Hastings says FDA’s belief that consumers will simply switch to processed oysters is like claiming that people don’t appreciate the difference between fresh strawberries and frozen ones.
Clearly the chefs in New Orleans agree.

"We have one man who's 97 years old, and he comes in here every week and gets his oyster fix, no matter what month it is," said Mark DeFelice, head chef at Pascal's Manale Restaurant in New Orleans. "There comes a time when we need to be responsible. Government doesn't need to be involved in this."

The anti-bacterial process treats oysters with a method similar to pasteurization, using mild heat, freezing temperatures, high pressure and low-dose gamma radiation.

But doing so "kills the taste, the texture," DeFelice said. "For our local connoisseurs, people who've grown up eating oysters all their lives, there's no comparison" between salty raw oysters and the treated kind. [...]
Treated oysters are "not as bright, the texture seems different," said Donald Link, head chef and owner of the Herbsaint Bar and Restaurant in New Orleans.
Just what we need in this recession.  More nanny state regulation that will destroy more small businesses.  Raw oysters are a $500 million industry and the Gulf region supplies two thirds of U.S. oysters.  Remember, much of this area is still struggling to recover from hurricane Katrina, and the Obama administration has decided to deliver another devastating punch.

I wonder if it's a coincidence that all these coastal states (Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama) with the exception of Florida gave electoral votes to John McCain?   Oh, yeah, and about Florida, all the coastal counties in Florida except Hillsborough (Tampa), Monroe (Miami), and the tiny county of Jefferson in the panhandle were also carried by McCain.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Liberal K.O. for Keith Olbermann

Ask not for whom the bell tolls.  It tolls for Keith Olbermann.  Below, in red, is the entire article, "Air America Calls Out Olbermann for Sexist Attack on Michelle Malkin," from Noel Sheppard at Newsbusters:

Here's something you don't see every day: a far-left media outlet calling out one of the far-left's heroes to defend one of the far-left's most hated conservatives.
Yet that's what happened a few weeks ago when Air America's editor of news and politics took on MSNBC's Keith Olbermann for sexist and misogynistic comments he made about conservative author Michelle Malkin.
As NewsBusters' Brad Wilmouth reported on October 13, Olbermann on "Countdown" that evening called Malkin "a big mashed-up bag of meat with lipstick on it."
Air America's Megan Carpentier was quite displeased at this sexist display (h/t NB reader Joseph McMahon):
Olbermann starts with a recitation of Malkin's emails, belittling her voice and putting on a "Valley Girl" accent--i.e., an unintelligent female voice. But it's only after that unfortunate display of sexism that Olbermann hits it out of the misogynist park. [...]
For the record, on average, once every 24 minutes in this country, a woman does become a "mashed-up bag of meat with lipstick on it." Nearly 1.3 million American woman will be a victim of domestic violence this year, and one in four women will experience domestic violence in her lifetime.
A liberal, progressive critique of Malkin need not and should not resort to an attack on her looks or her gender or rely on silly stereotypes or imagery that brings to mind victims of domestic violence. By attacking MIchelle Malkin's politics with an assault on women of every political persuasion, and then indicating a desire to see her physically harmed, a person might understandably get the idea that Keith Olbermann only respects women if they agree with him. And if they don't? They're obviously just stupid Valley girls who deserve a good beating.
Wow. Amazingly, this was the second time in less than a week a far-left woman went after Olbermann, for as NewsBusters' P. J. Gladnick reported October 8, Randi Rhodes wrote quite a piece the previous day criticizing the MSNBC host for his one hour "Special Comment" about healthcare reform.
It's nice to see some people on the left becoming as sick of this man as virtually everyone on the right is.
In the interest of complete disclosure, I am a long time follower and fan of Michelle Malkin.  I consider her my inspiration and mentor, although we have never met.  She is a thoughtful, intelligent and true conservative, blogger, journalist, mother and patriot.  She has endured more left wing hatred and slander than any living member of the congress or the media. (She probably comes in a close third to Rush Limbaugh and Sarah Palin.)  She fearlessly keeps her focus on finding and exposing the truth. 

It sickens me that a mediocre washed up sports journalist can garner so much bandwidth with his ignorance and hatred.  It heartens me to see that his liberal audience and colleagues are beginning to see him for what he is.  Kudos and thanks to Megan Carpentier and Randi Rhodes for speaking up.

Joe Lieberman will join GOP fillibuster of Reid health care plan

This just in from Politico:

Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) said Tuesday that he’d back a GOP filibuster of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s health care reform bill.
Lieberman, who caucuses with Democrats and is positioning himself as a fiscal hawk on the issue, said he opposes any health care bill that includes a government-run insurance program — even if it includes a provision allowing states to opt out of the program, as Reid’s has said the Senate bill will.
"We're trying to do too much at once," Lieberman said. “To put this government-created insurance company on top of everything else is just asking for trouble for the taxpayers, for the premium payers and for the national debt. I don’t think we need it now."
The only Republican on the Senate Finance Committee to vote for the Baucus plan, Senator Olympia Snowe of Maine doesn't like it either.
But Snowe cautioned her vote in favor of Baucus's plans was just her vote for that day and not a guarantee of future support. Indeed, as Reid acknowledged Monday afternoon, Snowe "doesn't like a public option of any kind." But, he hasn't given up on her, "There will be a time, I hope, when she sees the wisdom of supporting a health-care bill" that includes a public option.
During questioning from reporters about the prospects for bipartisan support, Reid replied, "I'm always looking for Republicans. It's just hard to find them." He said he can count the moderate Republicans in the Senate on two fingers. When it comes to health care, finding even those votes may have just gotten a lot harder.
Ben Nelson, Blanche Lincoln and Mary Landrieu are also questionable.

One Democrat critical of the public option, Nebraska Senator Ben Nelson, has said he wouldn’t support legislation without Republican votes.
“I certainly am not excited about a public option where states would opt out,” Nelson said on CNN’S “State of the Union” program on Oct. 25. He said he prefers letting states decide to opt in. (snip)

Two other Democrats, Arkansas Senator Blanche Lincoln and Louisiana Senator Mary Landrieu, have criticized the public option. Landrieu said last week she’s hopeful for compromise. Lincoln says she might join with Republicans to block debate on legislation she didn’t support. 
The confident bravado of Senate majority leader, Harry Reid, seems to be wilting a bit with each passing day.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Special pay master cuts off nose to spite face?

The Obama administration's special pay master, Kenneth Feinberg, ordered pay cuts for the highest wage earners at seven companies that received government bailout funds.  On its face, this may seem like a good idea, since the money is, after all, our money, right?  But as some predicted, the really talented people are abandoning ship.  From the New York Times:
Maurice R. Greenberg, who built the American International Group into an insurance behemoth with an impenetrable maze of on- and offshore companies, is at it again.

Even as he has been lambasting the government for its handling of A.I.G. after its near collapse, Mr. Greenberg has been quietly building up a family of insurance companies that could compete with A.I.G. To fill the ranks of his venture, C.V. Starr & Company, he has been hiring some people he once employed.

Now, Mr. Greenberg may have received some unintended assistance from the United States Treasury. Just last week, the Treasury severely limited pay at A.I.G. and other companies that were bailed out by taxpayers. That may hasten the exodus of A.I.G.’s talent, sending more refugees into Mr. Greenberg’s arms, since C. V. Starr is free to pay whatever it wants.

“Basically, he’s just starting ‘A.I.G. Two’ and raiding people out of ‘A.I.G. One,’ ” said Douglas A. Love, an insurance executive who has also hired A.I.G. talent for his company, Investors Guaranty Fund of Pembroke, Bermuda.
This is not good news for the taxpayer.  Continuing from the NY Times:
While America generally loves stories of entrepreneurs making a comeback, Mr. Greenberg’s success may be at the expense of taxpayers. People who work in the industry say that if he is already luring A.I.G.’s people, he may soon be siphoning off its business and, therefore, its means to repay its debt to the government.

“To me, it’s just going to be a matter of time before the valuation of what he’s building is greater than the valuation of A.I.G.,” said Andrew J. Barile, an insurance consultant in Rancho Santa Fe, Calif.
Imagine that . .. . an octagenarian American business icon starting a business from scratch in this crippled economy?  Good for him.  God bless him.  As the President likes to say, it's just another "teachable moment" for the federal government.  The lesson?  Butt out!

Where do you suppose the best doctors will go after the public health care option becomes available?

Obama's War on Coal

During the presidential campaign, Senator Obama bragged to the San Francisco Chronicle that anyone planning to build a coal burning power plant in the United States during his administration would go bankrupt. But you wouldn't find that quote in the Chronicle.  Thankfully someone leaked the audio.  Remember this?

And what about the admission that electricity prices will necessarily skyrocket under his plan?

Well last month, true to his word, and without waiting for cap and trade legislation, the Obama EPA put the breaks on 79 applications for surface coal mining in four states.  Via AP:
President Barack Obama's administration put the brakes on 79 applications for surface coal mining permits in four states Wednesday, saying they would violate the Clean Water Act.
The action is the administration's latest attempt to curb environmental damage from a highly efficient but damaging mining practice known as mountaintop removal. Each permit likely would cause significant damage to water quality and the environment, the Environmental Protection Agency said in a statement.
And last week, the EPA went even further, announcing plans to revoke a permit for the Spruce No. 1 Mine in West Virginia - a move that has caused anxiety among coal-state Democrats about the future of the industry under the Obama administration.  The people of West Virginia probably saw this coming, because John McCain carried the state in the 2008 election, but the governor seemed quite surprised:
Although his favored cap-and-trade bill hasn't yet been passed, West Virginia's Democratic Gov. Joe Manchin III, who supported Mr. Obama's candidacy, called the EPA moves part of a stealth campaign to stifle the industry.

"Right now, my belief is that they're trying to kill off surface mining through regulation what they cannot get done through legislation," Mr. Manchin told MetroNews Talkline, a West Virginia call-in radio program, earlier this month. In West Virginia, 23 permits are being held up, with other affected states being Kentucky, Ohio and Tennessee.
Senator Rockefeller (D-WV) doesn't like it either:
But Sen. John D. Rockefeller IV, West Virginia Democrat, who also backed the Obama presidential bid, is outraged that the EPA is revoking a permit in his state. "I am angry with the EPA's announcement that they will use veto power to revoke the authorized Spruce Mine permit in Logan," he said. "It is wrong and unfair for the EPA to change the rules for a permit that is already active."
And this from the West Virginia Register-Herald:
Coal is under attack by the Obama administration. And now, even those who supported the Obama-Biden ticket in 2008 have come to that realization.
In this case, I guess Obama meant exactly what he said.  Unfortunately nobody was listening.

A uniquely American idea

Dr. Walter Williams takes up the abandonment of our constitution in his recent column for As I have argued herehere, and here, the U.S. Constitution, once the most revered government framework on earth, has become an afterthought in the democrat-controlled Congress (when it is thought about at all).

Most conservatives believe as I do, that America is an exceptional nation of exceptional people.  On occasion, one may even hear the comment that this trait or that trait is "in our DNA," as Americans.  Make no mistake.  That is not the case. Dr. Williams explains:
We Americans, as human beings, are no different from any other people, including Germans, Russians, Chinese, Africans and other people who have produced tyrannical regimes such as those of Hitler, Stalin, Mao and Idi Amin. As such we are just as capable of committing acts of gross evil that have been a part of mankind throughout his history. We’ve not been a perfect nation but we’ve never approached the level of hideousness seen in other nations. That’s despite the fact that our population consists of people who have for centuries been trying to slaughter one another in their home countries, whether it’s between the French and Germans, English and Irish, Japanese and Chinese, or Palestinians and Jews, Igbos and the Hausa of Nigeria. Thrown into the American mosaic are religions that have been in conflict for centuries such as Catholic and Protestant, and Christian and Muslim. The question is: Why is the United States an exception and will it remain so?
 He goes on:
At the heart of the American idea is the deep distrust and suspicion the founders of our nation had for government, distrust and suspicion not shared as much by today’s Americans. Some of the founders’ distrust is seen in our Constitution’s language such as Congress shall not: abridge, infringe, deny, disparage, violate and deny. If the founders did not believe Congress would abuse our God-given rights, they would not have provided those protections.
The emphasis on those words is mine.  They are certainly telling reminders of our forefathers intent. They harbored a basic distrust of government and intended to place enduring restraints on its power.

If you will allow me a metaphor, the U.S. Constitution is the very firewall that separates our great nation from dictatorship, slavery and economic ruin.  It's time to remind our representatives that they are not above it, but bound by oath to uphold it.  If they will not, it is our obligation to remove them in favor of others who will.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Obama's new world order

According to Christopher Monckton, a former major policy advisor to Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, our President is on the path to creating a new world government.  From Jeffrey Kuhner at the Washington Times:
Global-warming alarmists are using the myth of climate change to impose an embryonic socialist world government. Following the collapse of communism, the West's progressive elites desperately searched for a viable ideological alternative. They found it in environmentalism.

Although the Green movement wraps itself in the flag of empirical science, it represents the very opposite: a dogma that provides meaning and purpose to its rabid followers. The ideology justifies massive tax increases and government control of the economy; it seeks to cripple free enterprise and curtail market-driven growth. Many of today's Greens are yesterday's Reds.

Global warming is the greatest fraud of our time. The overwhelming scientific evidence shows that, rather than getting hotter, the Earth's temperatures are cooling. Increasing numbers of leading scientists are challenging the flawed computer models used by eco-alarmists.
The climate treaty still has to be negotiated, and many countries, such as India, China and Canada are clearly not on board (see my previous post, Copenhagen climate consortium collapse).  More from Mr. Kuhner:
Yet the draft version is clear about the treaty's essential elements.

It calls for a massive transfer of wealth from the developed world to the developing world. The United States would be forced to spend billions of dollars a year in foreign aid to pay for a so-called "climate debt" - a provision to punish wealthy countries for having historically emitted large amounts of CO2, while compensating poor ones for not contributing to greenhouse gases.
This massive redistribution of national wealth is not the worst of it.  Continuing from the article,
Moreover, Mr. Monckton points out that, in paragraph 38, Annex 1, the Copenhagen draft calls for a U.N.-created "government" responsible for taxation, enforcement and redistribution. In other words, the draft treaty explicitly demands that the world body erect an international mechanism with the power to impose emission-reduction targets for each country, determine acceptable levels of CO2 and levy global taxes.

The United States would lose control over its environmental policy. Also, it would sign its death warrant as a functioning democracy, enabling the United Nations to administer a fledgling world government possessing the authority to regulate and tax the American economy. The treaty is a sword aimed at the heart of our national sovereignty.

If Mr. Obama signs the Copenhagen treaty, he "will sign your freedom, your democracy, and your prosperity away forever," Mr. Monckton recently told an audience in Minnesota. "I read that treaty and what it says is this: that a world government is going to be created."
Read the entire article.

Our constitution requires approval by 67 votes in the Senate, but Lord Monckton fears that Obama will try to circumvent this.  Given the recent push for health insurance mandates, the takeover of major segments of the automobile and banking industries, and the dissolution of secured bondholders' rights,  I'm not sure his fears are without merit.

You can see Lord Monckton's speech to the Minnesota Free Market Intitute below:

More from Michelle Malkin here.

Read the transcript and hear the audio of Glenn Beck's recent interview with Lord Monckton here.

If my memory serves, I believe Monckton will be on the Glenn Beck show on Fox News Channel Monday (10/26) at 5PM.  Don't miss it.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Are health care insurance mandates constitutional?

Absent from the debate about health care reform has been serious consideration of the questionable constitutional authority of the Congess to require American citizens to purchase health care insurance. In August, David Rivkin and Lee Casey, made a strong case in the Washington Post, that these mandates are, in fact, illegal.  First, framing the question,
President Obama has called for a serious and reasoned debate about his plans to overhaul the health-care system. Any such debate must include the question of whether it is constitutional for the federal government to adopt and implement the president's proposals. Consider one element known as the "individual mandate," which would require every American to have health insurance, if not through an employer then by individual purchase. This requirement would particularly affect young adults, who often choose to save the expense and go without coverage. Without the young to subsidize the old, a comprehensive national health system will not work. But can Congress require every American to buy health insurance?
Then the bottom line answer:
In short, no. The Constitution assigns only limited, enumerated powers to Congress and none, including the power to regulate interstate commerce or to impose taxes, would support a federal mandate requiring anyone who is otherwise without health insurance to buy it.
For their complete legal arguments, read the rest of the article.

Last week Ken Klukowski, a fellow and senior legal analyst with the American Civil Rights Union, agreed.  From Politico:
But, as other lawyers have correctly noted, there is no constitutional basis for the individual mandate. People who decline coverage are not receiving federal money, so that mandate can’t fall under the spending part of the Tax and Spending Clause.

It also cannot be a tax. The federal government can levy only certain kinds of taxes. Article I of the Constitution authorizes excise and capitation taxes, and the 16th Amendment created the income tax.

It can’t be an excise tax because that’s a surcharge on a purchase, and here people are not buying anything. It can’t be a capitation (or “direct”) tax because that is a tax on every person in a state and must be equal for every person in the state; this would be a levy that some people would pay and others would not. And it can’t be an income tax because that must be based on personal income, not purchase decisions.

All that’s left is the Commerce Clause. And the people who declined to purchase government-mandated insurance would not be engaging in commercial activity, so there’s no interstate commerce. That, in fact, is the government’s problem with them: Those people refuse to take the money or play the game.
Despite this scholarly and credible legal opposition, Nancy Pelosi and Chris Dodd recently dismissed questions about constitutional authority as not serious.  From Dodd (via CNS news) "Where, in your opinion, does the Constitution give specific authority for Congress to give an individual mandate for health insurance?"
Sen. Leahy: "We have plenty of authority. Are you saying there is no authority?" "I’m asking--"

Sen. Leahy: "Why would you say there is no authority? I mean, there’s no question there’s authority. Nobody questions that."
And Speaker Pelosi, also from  CNS News, via HotAir: “Madam Speaker, where specifically does the Constitution grant Congress the authority to enact an individual health insurance mandate?”

Pelosi: “Are you serious? Are you serious?” “Yes, yes I am.”
Madame speaker, Senator Dodd, in the history of our republic, this is as serious as it gets.

What's in a name?

The flood of sweeping legislation making tortuous headway through the houses of Congress is enough to make a citizen legislator's head spin.  But what about his or her constituents?  It would be very difficult to oppose any recent Democrat proposals if we just looked at the names given them.

For example, how about "America's Affordable Health Care Choices Act?"  Doesn't that sound wonderful?  Nevermind that it will cost in excess of $2 trillion that we don't have.

You undoubtedly heard about Cap and Trade.  Well its formal name is the "American Clean Energy and Security Act."  Who doesn't like clean and secure?  Forget the economic ruin that it will inflict on American business.  As Stephen Moore of the Wall Street Journal has said, the bill should be called the “full employment act for India and China.”

Card check is the cryptic name given to the "Employee Free Choice Act," which would eliminate a worker's right to vote on unionization with a secret ballot.  That doesn't really sound like free choice to me.

The Obama/Pelosi/Reid economic stimulus bill ($787 billion, remember?) is affectionately known as the "American Recovery and Reinvestment Act."  Since its passage in February, unemployment has risen to 10% and higher in some states, and homes are foreclosing at a rate of one million per quarter.

My favorite is an old throwback from the Reagan years, the "Fairness Doctine," which Reagan dissolved in the 1980's.  This FCC regulation keeps raising its head, and I'm sure it will again if Pelosi has anything to say about it.  Its purpose is to kill conservative talk radio.  We members of the vast right wing conspiracy call it "Hush Rush."

And finally, this week the FCC decided it's time for government to regulate the internet to preserve "Net Neutrality."  This means that the government will set prices that content sites pay to internet service providers.  What's so neutral about that?

Perhaps Lewis Carroll's  Mad Hatter said it best:
If I had a world of my own, everything would be nonsense. Nothing would be what it is, because everything would be what it isn't. And contrary wise, what is, it wouldn't be. And what it wouldn't be, it would. You see?

Friday, October 23, 2009

Portrait of an American Hero

Today via
SAN ANTONIO -- Retired Army Sgt. Richard Yarosh has gotten used to the stares. His face is blanketed in knotty scar tissue. His nose tip is missing. His ears are gone, as is part of his right leg. His fingers are permanently bent and rigid.
 All is the result of an explosion in Iraq that doused him in fuel and fire three years ago.
"I know people are curious," he said. "They'll stop in their tracks and look. I guess I can understand. I probably would have stared, too."

Soon, a lot more people will be staring at Yarosh's face but in a very different way: A life-sized oil painting of him will go on display at the National Portrait Gallery at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington later this month. The portrait, by Matthew Mitchell, is a finalist in the Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition, which recognizes modern portraiture at the gallery known for its collection of notable Americans.
 Another excerpt:
The day was Sept. 1, 2006, and Yarosh was manning the turret of a Bradley assault vehicle, patrolling a road that he'd been on "a million times." Only this time, the vehicle hit an explosive device. The fuel tank blew, and Yarosh was instantly covered in flames.
He took a blind jump from the top of the vehicle, breaking his leg and severing an artery that would eventually force an amputation. He rolled around in the dirt, but with so much fuel, he couldn't get the fire out. He lay there, next to the burning vehicle, and gave up.
"I wasn't in pain. I could accept the fact that I was going to go. This was how the Lord would take me," he said.
But for reasons he still can't explain, Yarosh rolled to his right one more time and suddenly fell into a canal, where the flames were extinguished. Fellow soldiers pulled him from the water even as his body armor disintegrated into ash, and he survived. One of the other soldiers in the vehicle did not; Sgt. Luis Montes died about a week after the blast.
Read the whole article here.  If you are in Washington, pay a visit to the National Portrait Gallery at the Smithsonian to see this exhibit.  It will be on display from October 23 until August.  You can learn more about portrait artist Matthew Mitchell here.

Government takeover of the Internet: Step 1 Regulate

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted unanimously yesterday to move toward government regulation of the internet.  On the implausible pretext of keeping the internet open for everyone, the FCC would substitute its bureaucratic political judgment for market-and reality-driven business decisions. Via the Washington Times
The Federal Communications Commission voted unanimously Thursday to move toward new rules to prevent corporate Internet providers from charging online powers such as Google Inc. and Inc. extra for the large amount of infrastructure and bandwidth they use in delivering their services.
If this sounds familiar, it should.  The Obama administration wants to control the price of labor, executive compensation, mortgages, gasoline, and housing.  Why should internet service providers (ISP's) be spared?

The commissioners claim to be worried about alleged incidents of throttling, slowing or blocking access to certain internet sites.  From the Washington Times:

FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski, appointed by President Obama, said he was concerned about reports of some Internet providers slowing or blocking access to certain online companies.

"The heart of the problem is that, taken together, we face the dangerous combination of an uncertain legal framework with ongoing as well as emerging challenges to a free and open Internet," Mr. Genachowski said.

He added that failing to consider new regulations "would be gambling with the most important technological innovation of our time."
Is it unreasonable to expect that internet communications companies will actively manage network traffic to maximize customer satisfaction and market share?  Do the commissioners think that bandwidth is unlimited and free?  Do they even know what bandwidth is?  I'll wager that most of them wouldn't know how to reset a modem.

In a legislative attempt to put the brakes on yet another government takeover, Senator John McCain introduced the Internet Freedom Act of 2009 yesterday.  According to the text of the McCain bill, the FCC "shall not propose, promulgate, or issue any regulations regarding the Internet or IP-enabled services."

I actually like the sound of that.

Exile for Non-Believers

You may have heard that the federal government is designating more than 200,000 square miles of Alaska and off its coast as a "critical habitat" for polar bears.  This action was taken in partial settlement of a polar bear protection lawsuit brought against the U.S. government by three conservation groups after the designation of the polar bear as threatened.

Government officials said the move would have no significant effect on oil and gas exploration.  The New York Times reports:
Mr. Strickland and other officials said that the bears’ habitat was not being set aside as a refuge and that oil and gas exploration and other activities could continue under the terms of the species act and other laws. He noted that the Shell Oil Company had been given permission this week to drill in the proposed protected area.

“This will not be a significant additional burden on the industry,” Mr. Strickland said.

The new designation requires a government agency or commercial interest to show that any proposed activity, including oil drilling or shipping, would not destroy or adversely affect the bears’ habitat or accelerate the extinction of the species.
No burden there.  Did he actually say that with a straight face?  Perhaps the key phrase is "additional burden." Clearly the State of Alaska doesn't believe it.  Yesterday it filed a supplement to its earlier lawsuit trying to overturn the listing of polar bears as threatened under the Endangered Species Act.

Canada's preeminent polar bear biologist, Dr. Mitchell Taylor, was interviewed by Frontier Centre for Public Policy in January of 2009.  In the interview, Dr. Taylor stated in part,
Polar bears, as a species, do not appear to be threatened or in decline based on the data that I’ve seen at the present time, although some populations do seem to be experiencing deleterious effects from climate change.
When asked if the sea ice decline was a result of human-caused global warming, his response was shocking:
From what I have read, the arctic sea ice declines have been mainly due to natural causes although some authors have ascribed some fraction of it to CO2 without being specific about the mechanism. The arctic warming mechanism identified in the IPCC suite of climate models is atmospheric warming due to increased CO2 levels, not an unusual influx of warm Pacific surface water and unusually strong offshore winds in the eastern Siberia and Alaskan area which is what actually caused what is being called the “Arctic Warming Period”.
The man actually disputed anthropogenic global warming. You can probably imagine what ensued.  An all out assault on his credibility and integrity by environmentalists and the radical left. In "Exile for Non-Believers," Joanne Nova documents in shameful detail, the conspiracy to silence Dr. Taylor.  Here's the introduction:
The price for speaking out against global warming is exile from your peers, even if you are at the top of your field.

What follows is an example of a scientific group that not only stopped a leading researcher from attending a meeting, but then—without discussing the evidence—applauds the IPCC and recommends urgent policies to reduce greenhouse gases. What has science been reduced to if bear biologists feel they can effectively issue ad hoc recommendations on worldwide energy use? How low have standards sunk if informed opinion is censored, while uninformed opinion is elevated to official policy? If a leading researcher can’t speak his mind without punishment by exile, what chance would any up-and-coming researcher have? As Mitchell Taylor points out “It’s a good way to maintain consensus”.

And so it is. But it’s not science.
You can find it in pdf format here.  It's likely the most important thing you will read today.

Copenhagen Climate Consortium Collapse

When President Obama was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, it was seen by many as a prepayment for his upcoming magnanimous performance at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen in December.  Unfortunately for the President, this event seems to be unravelling with each passing day.

On the domestic front, a new Pew Research poll reveals that the American people are becoming skeptical of global warming propaganda:
There has been a sharp decline over the past year in the percentage of Americans who say there is solid evidence that global temperatures are rising. And fewer also see global warming as a very serious problem – 35% say that today, down from 44% in April 2008.

On the Asian front, China and India signed an accord in New Delhi yesterday, creating an alternative framework to the growth-extinguishing U.N. plans.  William Hawkins at the American Thinker elaborates:
On October 22, an accord was signed by Xie Zhenhua, China's vice minister at the National Development and Reform Commission, and Jairam Ramesh, India's environment minister, in New Delhi. The memorandum provides an alternative framework to counter pressure from America and Europe to adopt mandatory limits on greenhouse gas emissions in a new UN treaty. The two Asian powers will collaborate on the development of renewable power projects and improved energy efficiency programs, while rejecting any outside mandates that would slow economic growth.
Rejecting outside mandates that would slow economic growth.  What a concept.  How ironic that the Communists are standing up to this U.N. global war on free enterprise.  The Canadians aren't really happy about it either.  In today's Globe and Mail, this headline appears: "Ottawa dashes hope for climate treaty in Copenhagen."  Its author, Shawn McCarthy, puts the best possible face on it, but the headline says it all:
Hope is vanishing that a historic deal to address climate change can be concluded in Copenhagen, and Environment Minister Jim Prentice says the best chance is for a political agreement that would pave the way for a treaty to be signed later.

But Canada will continue to insist that it should have a less aggressive target for emission reductions than Europe or Japan because of its faster-growing population and energy-intensive industrial structure, Mr. Prentice said in an interview Thursday.

Canadians must also recognize that any national emissions cap has to reflect differing conditions across the country so as not to punish high-growth provinces, he added. The minister has been consulting with provinces on a plan that would impose a cap on industrial emissions, but allow Alberta's energy-intensive, emissions-heavy oil sands to continue expanding.
Oh, Canada!  Protecting the emissions-heavy Canadian oil sands industry.  How positively capitalistic.

But don't think for one minute that Barbara Boxer and John Kerry have given up this holy grail.  From Hawkins:
The work of the UNIPCC is cited in the "cap and trade" American Clean Energy and Security Act (H.R. 2454) passed by a narrow vote in the House last June. On September 30, Senators John Kerry (D-MA) and Barbara Boxer (D-CA) introduced the Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act (S. 1733) which will be the vehicle for climate legislation in the Senate. The bill states, "the United States should lead the global community in combating the threat of global climate change and reaching a robust international agreement to address global warming under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change."

The Kerry-Boxer draft aims to reduce CO2 emissions 20 percent below 2005 levels by 2020 compared to the 17 percent cut set in the House bill. As Bradford Plumer noted in a blog at The New Republic Sept. 30, "thanks to the recession, we'll be 8.5 percent below 2005 levels by the end of this year, which is why Boxer stumped for a steeper reduction." In other words, economic ruin is an integral part of the Green agenda. (emphasis mine)


Thursday, October 22, 2009

White House Press Corps stands up to Obama

The White House finally overplayed its hand today in its choreographed assault on the Fox News Channel.  In a move that shocked even seasoned main stream journalists, the White House invited all members of the press pool except Fox News, to conduct individual 5 minute interviews with the pay czar, Kenneth Feinberg.

In an astonishing and (dare I say it) courageous display of collective and individual integrity, the other members of the press corps declined to participate under those terms. Erin Haust at the Minneapolis Conservative Examiner has the best description of the day's drama:
Officials invited the White House press pool to 5 minute interviews with Pay Czar Kenneth Feinberg to discuss Feinberg's announcement to cut executive pay at at least 7 companies.

The press pool is made up of the 5 major news organizations including CNN, ABC, NBC, CBS, and FOX. FOX has been a member of the White House press pool since 1997.

Officials invited the entire press corps to the round robin interview process with the express exception of FOX News. The Washington Bureau Chiefs of all of the 5 major networks consulted. The group agreed that if FOX were not allowed to participate, that they would boycott the interview with Feinberg in protest.

The White House eventually relented and granted 2 minute interviews for each network including FOX.

This comes on the heels of several Obama administration officials making the rounds on the weekend talk shows on the other 4 major networks and claiming that FOX News is more like "talk radio" and "not really a news organization" like ABC or CNN.

Bret Bair of Fox News reports the president has granted the following number of interviews by news organization since taking office last January.

NBC: 12 Interviews

CBS: 11 Interviews

ABC: 9 Interviews

CNN: 7 Interviews

FoxNews: 2 Interviews

Obama's predecessor granted 6 total interviews in the same time period.
Allahpundit at Hotair: comments on the week's media supression spectacle:
Decide for yourself what the most disgraceful aspect of this is. Was it the fact that Gibbs told Jake Tapper explicitly on Monday that the White House wouldn’t try to dictate to the press pool who should and shouldn’t be included — before doing precisely that? Was it Anita Dunn going out of her way to say she respects Major Garrett as a fair reporter — before the administration decided he didn’t deserve a crack here at Feinberg? Or was it the repeated insistence by Dunn and Axelrod that of course the administration will make its officials available to Fox — before pulling the plug today?

The other networks deserve the praise they’re getting for standing up to the Baby-in-Chief, but if they had acquiesced in this freezeout, a precedent would have been set that would have been eagerly used by future Republican presidents to close them off too. And don’t think they weren’t all keenly aware of it.
Here's a video of Fox News coverage this afternoon:

If you admire Hugo Chavez, Fidel Castro, Joseph Stalin, or Adolph Hitler, this egregious attempt at censorship of a respected American media organization might not seem a big deal.  But if you believe in our founding principle of a free press, you should acknowledge this for what is it.  Chilling.

Sarah Palin derangement syndrome for profit

In case you haven't heard, the Sarah Palin-obsessed lowlife editors of The Nation are rushing the publication of a copycat book to capitalize on Palin's popularity.  Don't be fooled!  The book cover is very similar to the real book, and conservatives who see it at Borders or Barnes and Noble, might just grab it believing it is.  From Gateway Pundit:
A new low for the rabid left…

They just can’t hate this Christian conservative woman enough.

A far left startup publisher is going to release “Going Rouge,” a collection of Palin hit-pieces, on November 17th, the same day as Sarah Palin’s best seller “Going Rogue” hits the book stores.

Shelf Life reported, via Free Republic:

We know that former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin can hunt, and even field-dress a moose, but how will she take to poachers on her book sales? Start-up publisher OR Books has announced plans to publish Going Rouge: Sarah Palin An American Nightmare, a collection of essays about the maverick Republican with a title — and cover design — remarkably similar to Palin’s upcoming memoir. What’s more, OR’s paperback tome will be released on Nov. 17, the same day that Palin’s own Going Rogue: An American Life hits shelves — and one day after Palin’s just-announced, first-ever appearance on Oprah Winfrey’s show. (A shout-out to Ron Hogan at GalleyCat for the tip.)
Allahpundit and Ed Morissey have more at here and here.  The REAL book is doing very well in advance of its November 17 release date, as Amazon confirms on its website:

Going Rogue: An American Life (Hardcover) Sales Rank: #2 in Books (See Bestsellers in Books)
Popular in these categories: (What's this?)
#1 in Books > History > Americas
#1 in Books > Nonfiction > Government > Federal Government
#1 in Books > History > United States > State & Local > Alaska
 If you want to buy, Sarah's book you can get it here.  If you want to buy the other book, find it for yourself.

China says drill, baby, drill

Dow Jones Newswire reported last week that the state-owned China National Offshore Oil Corp (CNOOC) is negotiating with Norway's StatoilHydro ASA for oil leases in U.S. waters in the Gulf of Mexico.  You may recall back in 2005 CNOOC tried to acquire Unocal Corp., but was thwarted by the Congress based on national security grounds.

David Pierson makes the case today in the L.A. Times, that, if true, this deal puts the U.S. in an awkward spot:
Whether CNOOC's second attempt to lock up U.S. petroleum assets will trigger a similar political backlash remains to be seen. The sour U.S. economy and the need for Washington and Beijing to cooperate on potentially larger issues could mute any outcry.

The U.S. could also find it difficult to rebuff China when it has long welcomed other foreign investment in the gulf. In addition to StatoilHydro, foreign oil companies with stakes in deep-water projects there include Spain's Repsol, France's Total, Brazil's Petrobras, British oil giant BP and the Dutch-British multinational Shell.

The U.S. risks undercutting its foreign policy goals as well. Concern is growing over China's aggressive investment in oil-rich nations with anti-U.S. regimes, including Iran and Sudan. Denying China a shot at drilling in U.S. waters would only encourage Beijing to make deals in volatile regions given that new oil reserves in stable, democratic nations are getting harder to find.
One of the "potentially larger issues" that Pierson doesn't directly address is America's growing dependence on China for cash.  In 2005, China was the second largest (to Japan) foreign holder of U.S. Treasury securities, with $310 billion.  By 2008, China had eclipsed Japan to become our largest foreign lender, and amassed a U.S. debt portfolio exceeding $727 billion.  At the end of August of this year, those holdings had increased to almost $800 billion.

If the President is able to get his way on costly initiatives such as health care reform and/or cap and trade, there is little doubt that our borrowing from the Chinese will accelerate.  This fact alone suggests to me that Congress and the Obama administration will not put up much of a fuss about this deal.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Dick Cheney sets Rahm Emanuel straight

In an interview with the Center for Security Policy, Dick Cheney today contradicted a claim by White House chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel that the Obama administration had to start from scratch in developing a strategy for Afghanistan because the Bush Administration had left the war adrift without direction and without asking meaningful questions. On "State of the Union" on CNN Sunday, Emanuel told chief national correspondent (impressive title), John King the following:
"The president is asking the questions that have never been asked on the civilian side, the political side, the military side and the strategic side," White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel told CNN's "State of the Union."
And then this:
"It's clear that basically we had a war for eight years that was going on, that's adrift, that we're beginning at scratch, just at the starting point ... and that there's not a security force, an army, and the types of services that are important for the Afghans to become a true partner," Emanuel said.
Boo hoo.  War is hell, Rahm, or didn't you know? Dick Cheney, in his trademark deliberate and measured form smacked him down.  From Fox News:
Former Vice President Dick Cheney said Wednesday that the Bush administration had developed a new strategy on the war in Afghanistan before leaving office -- a strategy that he said "bears a striking resemblance" to the one announced by President Obama in March.

In a speech to the Center for Security Policy, Cheney said the Bush administration handed Obama's transition team a policy review of the Afghan war conducted last fall to meet the new challenges posed by the Taliban.

"They asked us not to announce our findings publicly, and we agreed, giving them the benefit of our work and the benefit of the doubt," Cheney said in prepared remarks.

Cheney's comments contradicted a claim by White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel that the Obama administration had to form an Afghan war strategy from scratch because the Bush administration hadn't asked any key questions about the war and left it "adrift."
What on God's earth does Rahm Emanuel know about foreign policy and our military engagement in Afghanistan?  He's a former ballet dancer (I submit, a more honorable profession) and investment banker with Wasserstein Perella where in 2 1/2 years he made $16.2 milllion.  Don't misunderstand me.  I love for people to get rich by the sweat, toil and tears of their own efforts. But what did he actually do for that money?  Oh, yeah, and he also sent a dead stinky fish to a Chicago pollster who he believed cost his client an election (better than a horse head, I suppose).   But I repeat myself....what does Emanuel know about Afghanistan?  And what possible intelligence value could he offer to General Stanley McChrystal?

If I had to make a choice to risk my life, my fortune and my sacred honor on the word of Dick Cheney or Rahm Emanuel, I'd choose Vice President Cheney, without hesitation.  He's the real deal.  I hope and pray my children will live to see his like again.

Card Check equals a blank check for unions

As mentioned in a previous post, last night I had the privilege of attending a panel discussion and dinner hosted by the Atlanta Committee for Heritage and sponsored by the Heritage Foundation.  The featured speaker was Stephen Moore, Senior Economics Writer for the editorial page of the Wall Street Journal and a member of the Journal's editorial board.

Dinner was preceded by a panel discussion, Rescuing Enterprise and Free Markets in America, featuring Heritage fellows, James Gattuso and James Sherk, and Heritage Center for Data Analysis Director, Bill Beach.  I will post a video link of the event as soon as I find it.

Each speaker was informative and entertaining, but I was particularly struck by James Sherk's discussion of labor unions and the Employee Free Choice Act.  Let me take the liberty of condensing and paraphrasing his message:

Labor unions are cartels.  Just like OPEC, they endeavor to control prices (wages) by restricting the supply of their product (union labor).  Every job reserved for an inflated-wage-earning union member removes more than one non-union job from the marketplace.

Unions are experiencing a long term decline in membership.  Fifty years ago one in three Americans working in the private sector was a labor union member.  Today union membership among non-government workers is about 8%. According to the Cato Institute:
Labor leaders blame the decline on union-busting corporations, years of hostile Republican rule in Washington, and a flood of imports from low-wage countries such as China, but the main reason behind the decline of private sector labor unions in recent decades is the anti-competitive nature of unions themselves. Like a virus, labor unions have been slowly sapping the lifeblood of the very industries and companies that employ their members.
Sherk estimates that unions spent $1 billion dollars to elect liberal Democrats in the last election cycle.  A BILLION DOLLARS.  That money comes from member dues...members who often have no choice about paying the dues, and little say about how the money is spent.  This obscene total will only increase if the Employee Free Choice Act (Card Check) is passed, because it abolishes the secret ballot, making it easier for Unions to intimidate workers into joining, whether they want to or not.

If Card Check becomes law, Unions will be able to effectively "buy" elections into the forseeable future, presenting a potentially insurmountable obstacle to conservative candidates.

A visual perspective on government spending.

Last night, I attended a panel discussion and dinner hosted by the Atlanta Committee for Heritage.  One of the presenters was Bill Beach, director of the Center of Data Analysis at the Heritage Foundation.  In discussing the runaway spending of Congress, Beach compared, in stark graphical form, the spending on the stimulus, TARP and AIG with the unfunded obligations of Social Security and Medicare. (Click on the graphic for a better view).

Breathtaking.  Can anyone really look at this and think that a government health care "option" is a good idea, or that any health care reform bill will be deficit neutral?