Monday, November 30, 2009

Harmless handshake?

Michael Isikoff at Newsweek breaks the story of Cathy Hargraves, who resigned from the White House social office after being told her primary function of coordinating the guest list for state dinners was no longer needed.  From Isikoff's post:
The White House staff member whose job was to supervise the guest list for state dinners and clear invitees into the events says she was stripped of most of her responsibilities earlier this year, prompting her to resign last June.

The account of Cathy Hargraves, who formerly served as White House "assistant for arrangements," raises new questions about whether changes that she says were made by President Obama's social secretary, Desiree Rogers, may have contributed to the security lapses that permitted Virginia socialites Michaele and Tareq Salahi to crash the state dinner for India's prime minister last week and get themselves photographed with the president.

Hargraves tells Declassified in an exclusive interview that although she had originally been hired as a White House political appointee in 2001, she landed a new position on the White House residence staff in 2006 and was specifically detailed to the social office to work on state dinners.

Her job duties included overseeing the invitations for guests at state dinners and keeping track of RSVPs, she says. On the evening of state dinners, she says, she physically stood at the East Gate portico entrance and greeted each of the guests as they arrived, checking their names off a computerized printout of those who had been invited.

But when she met with Rogers last February and went over her job responsibilities, she says, the new social secretary told her, "We don't feel we have a need for that anymore." Rogers's explanation, according to Hargraves: "In these economic times, I don't think we're going to have very many lavish expensive dinners. It wouldn't look very good."
At the White House press briefing today, April Ryan of American Urban Radio hammered Robert Gibbs about Isikoff's revelation.  Here is the relevant video from today's presser.  Ms. Ryan's effective inquisition begins around 1:53, but the knock out punch comes at the 5:00 mark:

To paraphrase Ms. Ryan, what would have happened if these people were trying to harm the president?  In his trademark inartful dodger mode, Gibbs replied, "I appreciate the opportunity to indulge in a grand hypothetical."

I am reminded of the season finale of the second season of 24 when President Palmer was felled (for a torturous three year hiatus) by a toxic handshake from the beautiful, but evil, Mandy.  Perhaps Gibbs gave Ms. Ryan's question the brushoff because it wasn't serious.  After all 24 is just a television show, and lethal handshakes are only plot devices of adventure fiction, like James Bond's nearly lethal lemon-twist martini in Casino Royale.

But not so fast.  Let's think back to some real life history.  Prior to the Orange Revolution and his eventual election to the Ukrainian presidency, Victor Yushchenko was poisoned with dioxin during a visit to Kiev.  It was later determined that Yushchenko's serum dioxin level was 50,000 times normal, and that the source poison was so pure, that it was definitely made in a laboratory.  Miraculously, President Yushchenko survived this attempt on his life, and serves as the Ukraine head of state today.

The delivery mechanism of that toxin has never been discovered, or if it has, it has never been revealed to the public.  It could have been his food, or drink, or a careful handshake.  But one thing is certain.  Someone in close proximity to Yushchenko wanted him dead.  That's no grand hypothetical.

Hooray for Honduras!

On Sunday, the small impoverished country of Honduras showed Hugo Chavez, his socialist lackeys, and the world how a true democratic constitutional republic responds to an attack on its constitution.  The Wall Street Journal reports:
Unless something monumental happens in the Western Hemisphere in the next 31 days, the big regional story for 2009 will be how tiny Honduras managed to beat back the colonial aspirations of its most powerful neighbors and preserve its constitution.

Yesterday's elections for president and Congress, held as scheduled and without incident, were the crowning achievement of that struggle.

National Party candidate Porfirio Lobo was the favorite to win in pre-election polls. Yet the name of the victor is almost beside the point. The completion of these elections is a national triumph in itself and a win for all people who yearn for liberty.

The fact that the U.S. has said it will recognize their legitimacy shows that this reality eventually made its way to the White House. If not Hugo Chávez's Waterloo, Honduras's stand at least marks a major setback for the Venezuelan strongman's expansionist agenda.

The losers in this drama also include Brazil, Argentina, Chile and Spain, which all did their level best to block the election. Egged on by their zeal, militants inside Honduras took to exploding small bombs around the country in the weeks leading to the vote. They hoped that terror might damp turnout and delegitimize the process. They failed. Yesterday's civic participation appeared to be at least as good as it was in the last presidential election. Some polling stations reportedly even ran short, for a time, of the indelible ink used to mark voter pinkies.
Embarassingly, it took the Obama administration five months to get on the right side of this story.  Rick Richman at Commentary Magazine explains:
Throughout the Honduran “crisis” — the removal of the Honduran president by order of a unanimous Honduran Supreme Court, supported by the virtually unanimous approval of the Honduran Congress — many noted there was an easy remedy for the alleged “coup”: hold the already scheduled election between the already selected candidates and install an undeniably democratic government.

Instead, President Obama labeled what had happened a “military coup,” cut off aid to one of the poorest states in the hemisphere, revoked the visas of the entire Honduran Supreme Court, and resisted for months the obvious solution to the “crisis.”

On Friday, the State Department finally endorsed the election, describing it in terms that would have made Simon Bolivar blush:

The electoral process — launched well before June 28 and involving legitimate candidates representing parties with longstanding democratic traditions from a broad ideological spectrum — is conducted under the stewardship of the multi-party and autonomous Supreme Electoral Tribunal, which was also selected before the coup. The electoral renewal of presidential, congressional and mayoral mandates, enshrined in the Honduran constitution, is an inalienable expression of the sovereign will of the citizens of Honduras.
The "coup d'etat", as the U.S. State Department describes it, was the result of a unanimous decision by the Honduran Supreme Court, and supported by the virually unanimous approval of the Honduran Congress. Despite the reference to the Honduran "military coup", that is ubiquitous in the media, the Honduran military never took over the government.

The removal of Zelaya is a stark reminder of the foresight of our founding fathers, as they placed careful checks and balances in our constitution to ensure that one branch of government would not become too powerful over the others.  It is regrettable that our constitutional law scholar President did not see it that way.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Another blow to private property rights

Last week during the news lull of the Thanksgiving holiday, New York's highest court ruled that it is lawful for the state to seize private land for use by private developers.  From the Wall Street Journal:
New York judges served up what basketball fans call a facial on Tuesday, when an appellate court ruled that the state may seize homes and small businesses in Brooklyn for the benefit of a private developer and the New Jersey Nets. The decision represents a backward step for the effort to protect property rights at the state level since the Supreme Court's 2005 decision in Kelo v. New London.

The case, Goldstein v. New York State Urban Development Corporation, dealt with plans by developer Forest City Ratner to build a new arena for the Nets as well as snazzy apartments and offices on land currently occupied by homes and businesses. To make way for the sports complex, the state declared the property "blighted" and used its power of eminent domain to hand it to the developer.

Such unabashed takings have an unfortunate history in New York state, where the political class has a habit of using its powers on behalf of well-connected private interests. Caught under the wheels are average citizens whose only recourse is to try to defend their property rights in court.
The New York Times has this:
The project’s opponents had argued that eminent domain on behalf of the private developer, Bruce C. Ratner, was improper and unconstitutional. They vowed to continue their battle, but there was no question that a cloud of uncertainty that has hung over Atlantic Yards for more than a year had lifted.

Mr. Ratner called the court’s ruling a “light-switch” kind of decision for the long-stalled project. “I look at this as the last major hurdle; now we can proceed as we’ve wanted to for the last three years,” he said on Tuesday. “The courts have made it clear that this project represents a significant public benefit for the people of Brooklyn and the entire city.”

Mr. Ratner plans to begin selling tax-free bonds next month to finance the development’s cornerstone project: an 18,000-seat basketball arena for the New Jersey Nets at Flatbush and Atlantic Avenues near downtown.
Yes, you read that right.  Ratner will be partially financing the private venture on government-seized land with a tax-exempt bond issue, placing the basketball arena on equal cost of capital footing with public road projects, school construction, public utility projects and ...well you get the picture.

The 60-page decision, which can be read here, hinged on the determination that the Atlanta Yards real estate in question was blighted.  The Atlantic Yards Report blog uses a quote by libertarian law professor Ilya Somin to expose the shaky foundation of this decision:
To get around this problem, the Court held that “blight” alleviation is not limited to “‘slums’ as that term was formerly applied, and that, among other things, economic underdevelopment and stagnation are also threats to the public sufficient to make their removal cognizable as a public purpose” (pp. 15–16, quoting a 1975 decision).

Obviously, virtually any area occasionally suffers from “economic underdevelopment” or “stagnation” and therefore could potentially be condemned under this rationale. Moreover, even under this expansive definition of blight, the decision states that courts can only strike down a condemnation if “there is no room for reasonable difference of opinion as to whether an area is blighted.” With respect to any neighborhood, there is nearly always “room for reasonable difference of opinion” as to whether the area is “underdeveloped” relative to some possible alternative uses of the land in question. Defining blight this broadly and then deferring to the government’s determination of whether such “blight” actually exists effectively reads the public use restriction out of the state constitution. (emphasis mine)
The public use restriction of the New York eminent domain statute is easily circumvented by the determination that the real estate in question is "blighted" and therefore presents a hazard or nuisance to the public.

If this flimsy justification for government seizure of private property becomes the uncontested law of the land, we can certainly expect exponential increases in such seizures during times of economic recession, high residential and commercial foreclosure rates, and high unemployment.  Like we have now.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Memo to Harry Reid: As you celebrate Thanksgiving with your family, 65% of mortgage holders in your state are underwater.

America's most powerful senator hails from Nevada where today, according to the Wall Street Journal, 65% of mortgage holders are underwater. In other words, 65% owe more on their homes than the fair market value of those homes. To see the percentage of underwater borrowers in your state, click here.

Senator Reid, why don't you stop trying to cram government controlled health care down our throats, and do something to foster the creation of jobs by the private sector for the good people who elected you!

My heart truly goes out to the people of the great state of Nevada. The Republican senator, John Ensign, has been exposed as a philandering phony. And the senior senator, who holds the highest position in our "esteemed" upper house of Congress, has completely abandoned the people of Nevada in his quest for the holy grails of nationalized health care (careful, this link is 2074 pages), and suicidal climate change legislation.

If ever there was a case in U.S. history to send an elected representative packing, Harry Reid is it.

On this Thanksgiving day, I pray for Americans hit hardest by this recession. And I pray for the people of Nevada.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Rep. Alan Mollahan, subject of Justice investigation controls Justice Department budget. What could go wrong?

If you thought Michelle Malkin's bestseller, Culture of Corruption had faded from the spotlight, you should read this post from our friend, Paul Mirengoff, at Power Line.

A few years ago, we wrote a series of pieces about Rep. Alan Mollohan (D-WVa) who in 2006 became the target of ethics inquiries. The inquiries stemmed from the fact that between 2000 and 2004, Mollohan's net assets increased from $562,000 to at least $6.3 million. During that same time, he steered $250 million in earmarks to nonprofit groups, some of whose leaders had business relationships with him. In some cases, the earmarks involved not just worthless projects, but projects that actually harmed his district.

Despite pending corruption inquiries by the Justice Department into Mollohan's dealings, Speaker Pelosi permitted him to ascend to Chairman of the appropriations subcommittee that controls the Justice Department's $65 billion budget when the Democrats assumed control of the House in 2007. Thus, Mollohan came to hold the purse strings for the agency charged with investigating whether he committed crimes. This created an obvious conflict of interest. As one congressional watchdog group explained: "There are a hundred ways [Mollohan] can influence what happens with the department's funding without one vote; everything goes through his committee."

The story died down in 2008 when the Justice Department, after a flurry of subpoenas, seemed to go quiet. Recently, however, it became clear that Justice is still investigating Mollohan. The Washington Post obtained a document showing that the Department has asked the House ethics committee not to move forward with its investigation into Mollohan. This is standard procedure when federal prosecutors are actively investigating a member of Congress. In this case, however, the request may not have been necessary; the ethics committee had done nothing to investigate Mollohan for three years.

In any event, we now know that Mollohan is still the subject of an active Justice Department criminal investigation. Yet the Democrats remain content to have him control Justice's budget.

It's difficult to imagine the Democrats losing control of the House in the 2010 elections, given the size of their current majority. But their high comfort level with the "culture of corruption," voter repulsion to which was instrumental in giving the Dems their massive margin, provides some reason to hope that if the economy is still in trouble in the second half of next year, the electorate will clean house.
The rabid fox is guarding the hen house, and no one outside the blogosphere cares.

Final nail in the coffin of "anthropogenic global warming"

Some of the very best commentary about the recent damning document leak from the University of East Anglia’s Climate Research Unit comes (rightly so) from James Delingpole, hailing from our ally and the homeland of our forefathers and ancestors, the United Kingdom:
Climategate: the final nail in the coffin of 'Anthropogenic Global Warming'?

If you own any shares in alternative energy companies I should start dumping them NOW. The conspiracy behind the Anthropogenic Global Warming myth (aka AGW; aka ManBearPig) has been suddenly, brutally and quite deliciously exposed after a hacker broke into the computers at the University of East Anglia’s Climate Research Unit (aka CRU) and released 61 megabytes of confidential files onto the internet. (Hat tip: Watts Up With That)

When you read some of those files – including 1079 emails and 72 documents – you realise just why the boffins at CRU might have preferred to keep them confidential. As Andrew Bolt puts it, this scandal could well be “the greatest in modern science”. These alleged emails – supposedly exchanged by some of the most prominent scientists pushing AGW theory – suggest:

Conspiracy, collusion in exaggerating warming data, possibly illegal destruction of embarrassing information, organised resistance to disclosure, manipulation of data, private admissions of flaws in their public claims and much more.
In case you aren't fluent in the British vernacular, the term boffin is not, actually, an insult.  It refers to a scientific expert.  So the author gives them the benefit of the doubt right up until the moment that he skewers them on a spit for their overt skulduggery (another quite English word which I love!).

If your mind is open to facts and reality, read the whole thing.

If not, go ahead and put your signature on the scientifically baseless suicide pact of anthropogenic global warming.

Senator James Inhofe  (R-Oklahoma), in remarks to Barbara Boxer last week,  said it best:

Put a fork in it.  God willing, it's done.  Get a life.

Happy Thanksgiving

I will be spending the next few days with family for the Thanksgiving holidays, so my posting will be light.

Have a great Thanksgiving!

A picture can be worth 2000 pages

Michael Barone directs us to a picture worth 2000 pages.  From the Washington Examiner:

Jeffrey Anderson of the Pacific Research Institute, who has been writing scintillating criticisms of the Democrats’ proposed health care bills, has prepared a chart showing the true 10-year cost of the bill currently before the Senate. As the chart makes clear, the costs of this legislation do not kick in in any significant way until 2014, and so the real 10-year cost—as opposed to the 10-year cost that the Congressional Budget Office, pursuant to its legislative charter, estimated—is $1.8 trillion for the 10-year period for 2014 to 2023. Let me spell that out: $1,800,000,000,000.
Take a look at the chart here.

Monday, November 23, 2009

How the NBC mighty have fallen

When Sarah Palin arrived in Michigan on the first stop of her book tour, she was greeted by thousands of admirers and one not-so-happy Andrea Mitchell from NBC news.  If I didn't know who Andrea Mitchell was, I would have assumed that she was a disgruntled washed up wannabe journalist from a grocery store tabloid (not meant to disparage the National Enquirer that was completely responsible for exposing the fraud of John Edwards).

Pictures from Weasel Zippers can be viewed here.

Allahpundit at Hotair has the video courtesy of Jim Treacher:
You loved the photos, now see the movie! The fun begins at around 1:40. In Mitchell’s defense, it never quite reaches the point where security has to tackle her.

Thanks for the clip to Jim Treacher, who continues to keep things in perspective.

It's sad.  You almost have to turn your gaze.  Almost.

Harry Reid slams David Broder on Senate floor

This weekend I wrote about David Broder's attack on the Senate health care bill in the Washington Post.  Broder's column is here.  My blog about it is here.  Since then, I have learned that the article also caught Harry Reid's attention after Mitch McConnell hit him over the head with it on the floor of the Senate Saturday.  Noel Sheppard at Newsbusters has the best recap:
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) on Saturday said the Senate shouldn't "focus on a man who has been retired for many years and writes a column once in a while."

This comment was directed at Washington Post columnist David Broder whose article to be published Sunday and already available online was harshly criticial of the healthcare bills in both chambers of Congress.

Given Broder's well-known stance as a left-leaning writer, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) referred to the piece in his opening remarks to Saturday's healthcare legislation debate noting that the Post's "distinguished senior columnist, certainly not a political conservative, expresses his reservation as a citizen about the steps that we could be about to take."

This led Reid to make his disparaging remark moments later (video embedded below the fold, relevant sections at 1:00 and 8:45):
I have posted the video here.

Sheppard finds that Reid didn't have this sketchy opinion of Broder just a year ago:
What a difference a year makes, for according to The Hill, "In 2004, Reid praised Broder as 'a long-time syndicated columnist who is nonpartisan and fair' and last year, he called him a 'moderate columnist.'"
Senator Reid's Health Care bill cuts Medicare payments by $500 million.  The White House used the advanced age of Gerald Walpin to justify his firing.  It should come as no surprise that the Senate majority leader would dismiss one of Washington's most respected liberal journalists as an old retired geezer.

The left will do whatever it takes to pass this monstrosity.  We must do whatever it takes to stop them.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Golden Corral: Honoring our heroes for 9 years

Last week on Monday, November 16th, I received a text message around 7:00 pm eastern time that went something like this,

"Hey this is Gerri, RJ's mom.  Golden Corral free to Vets tonight....We are on our way to the one in norman.  Ya'll goin?"

I knew I did not know RJ's mom, so I texted back:

"Thank you for your service!  I don't think I know you.  My name is Tracy."

The response:

"Oops i am sorry, meant to dial area code 405"

Me:  "No problem.  Have a great evening!"

She:  "U too"

Area code 405 is in Oklahoma City, but the Golden Corral story has been a fitting tribute to our military across the country for nine years.  From the GC website:
Golden Corral's 9th annual Military Appreciation Monday dinner will be held on Monday, November 16, 2009, from 5 to 9 pm in all Golden Corral restaurants nationwide.

The free dinner meal is a special "thank you tribute" to any person who has ever served in the United States Military. If you are a veteran, retired, currently serving, in the National Guard or Reserves, you are invited to join us for Golden Corral's Military Appreciation Monday dinner.

To date, Golden Corral restaurants have provided over 2.2 million free meals and contributed over $3.3 million to the Disabled American Veterans organization.

To locate a Golden Corral near you, visit
Gary Sinise made this great PSA for Golden Corral to announce the event.

In these tough economic times when restaurants are struggling, it would be understandable if Golden Corral could not continue this honorable tradition.  To their eternal credit, they did.

If there's a Golden Corral in your area, show your support and have lunch or dinner there with your family soon and often.

Andrew Breitbart takes Columbia Journalism Review to school

In Breitbart throws down the gauntlet to Holder I showed you Andrew Breitbart's remarkable shout out to Attorney General Eric Holder regarding ACORN.  The left-leaning "friend of the press in all its forms, from newspapers to magazines to radio, television, and the Web", the Columbia Journalism Review, took issue with his appearance here.  Read it and see what passes for journalism in the elite netherworld of the old guard media.

The esteemed Andrew Breitbart strikes back and takes the Columbia Journalism Review to task and journalism school at Big Government:
In response to the Columbia Journalism Review’s accusing me of “blackmailing” the Attorney General of the United States, I must take notice that the mainstream media as a journalistic establishment IS paying attention to the ongoing ACORN scandal. Good. I thought so.

What the Columbia Journalism Review is doing is very similar to what Media Matters is doing: protecting the Democrat-Media Complex, the natural alliance of the Democratic Party and the mainstream media. This ACORN investigation has been going on for two months and Hannah, James, and I have proven to be truth-tellers every step of the way, while the Association of Community Organizers for Reform Now has been proven time and again to be liars.

Yet instead of engaging the real, newsworthy issues of ACORN’s possible corruption, malfeasance and illegal behavior, the CJR, like its more overtly political online counterpart Media Matters, and indeed every other MSM outlet, has been sitting it out on the sidelines, waiting – rooting – for Hannah Giles, James O’Keefe and me to make a mistake. In fact, my appearance Thursday night is the only time in which the media has introduced itself into this ongoing narrative: proof that it’s paying attention and taking sides
He concludes by giving a them an embarassing vocabulary lesson that would insult a sixth grader, and then reissuing his challenge to AG Holder:
And now to address the fever-swamp’s notion that what I said on “Hannity” last night was “blackmail.” Blackmail occurs when one party threatens to reveal an unsavory piece of information about another party, and demands money in exchange for silence. For obvious reasons, it is most often conducted in private. I, on the other hand, went on national television with a challenge to the Attorney General to do his job; unlike this administration and its justice department, what I did was fully open and transparent.

There will be consequences if there isn’t an investigation into ACORN. The videos will be shown and at a particular moment. There is nothing illegal about my proposed response to the continued inaction from this justice department, and there’s nothing I’d like more than to have my day in court and let a jury hear why I have gone to such extraordinary measures to tell a major story that the dying, partisan, leftist media has worked so hard to suppress.

The days of the Democrat-Media Complex controlling the narrative are in their end times. And if the AG wants to turn his focus on me instead of ACORN, then that day will be closer than many of them think.
I hope and pray the Republicans in Congress will take note of what a fearless, principled leader looks like.  Godspeed, Andrew!

Reid's Louisiana Purchase

In 1803 the United States purchased the Louisiana Territory (828,000 square miles, thereby doubling the size of the country) for $15 million from Napoleon.  On Saturday, Harry Reid spent 20 times that amount purchasing Louisiana Senator Mary Landrieu's aye vote on cloture, through a $300 million Medicaid earmark for her state.  Oblivious to the clear appearance of impropriety, she defiantly corrected earlier reports, that the goodies were worth $100 million.  In her own words:

"I will correct something. It's not $100 million, it's $300 million, and I'm proud of it and will keep fighting for it," she told reporters.

Joseph Cao (R-LA) was similarly (though much more cheaply) purchased on November 7th.  From Fox News:
The final pitch came Saturday around noon, when Obama called Cao and apparently offered assurances that he would help economic recovery in his district, which is mostly minority and poor. Obama got 75 percent of the votes in Cao's district in last November's presidential election.

"We were able to sit down to talk about recovery, to talk about the needs of the district," Cao told Fox News, though he said no "promises" were made. "The administration and I, we have a very great relationship."
No promises.  Yeah.  Right.  Cao was the only Republican to vote for the Pelosi health care bill.

Huey "Share the Wealth" Long would be proud.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Obama cabinet selections: crossing the aisle or shaping the vote?

Generally, I'm not big on conspiracy theories, but in the wake of the recent party line votes on really important things like health care and cap and trade, it strikes me that Obama has tried to shift those votes in his favor using the power and stature of his office.

Consider these facts:

Republican Senator Judd Gregg of New Hampshire was offered the cabinet post of Secretary of Commerce by the President.  New Hampshire has a Democrat governor, and had he accepted the job, his senate seat would now be almost certainly occupied by a Democrat.

Democrat Ken Salazar of Colorado was offered and accepted a post as Secretary of the Interior, and was replaced by Democrat Superintendant of Denver Public Schools, Michael Bennett.  Salazar is Catholic and in March of 2008 voted his approval of an abortion-funding ban at American Indian Clinics.  Bennett's view of federally funded abortion has been described by come Coloradans as "(at best) confusing rhetoric and (at worst) an intentional misrepresentation of the facts."  Hmmm.

Republican representative Ray Lahood (from Illinois) decided not to run for re-election in 2008, and was nominated for and accepted the cabinet post of Transportation Secretary.  Republican, 27 year-old Aaron Schock was elected to fill his seat.  Google Schock and you'll get hits about his sex appeal, his admiration for Michelle Obama's arms and his selection by Huffington Post readers as the "hottest freshman" in the House of Representatives.  This does not give me a good impression of his conservative credentials.  To the vocal dismay of many of his constituents, Schock voted against Pelosi's health care bill, but that doesn't mean he won't vote for the bill that emerges from the divine reconciliation in the future.

Not a slam-dunk case of congressional manipulation, and certainly not illegal.  But it does make me wonder.

Senator Lieberman may be our last, greatest hope to step up and serve as the firewall against this health care monstrosity.  I pray he keeps his resolve and stays safe.

Washington Post veteran calls Obamacare "budget buster"

I never thought I would be posting a favorable blog based on an article by David Broder in the Washington Post, but tonight I must.

In "Budget Buster in the Making", Broder shines a light on the public's true opinion of government sponsored health care reform.  It is a cogent article that you should read if you can find the time.  Here's a sneak peak:
It's simply not true that America is ambivalent about everything when it comes to the Obama health plan.

The day after the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) gave its qualified blessing to the version of health reform produced by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Quinnipiac University poll of a national cross section of voters reported its latest results.

This poll may not be as famous as some others, but I know the care and professionalism of the people who run it, and one question was particularly interesting to me.

It read: "President Obama has pledged that health insurance reform will not add to our federal budget deficit over the next decade. Do you think that President Obama will be able to keep his promise or do you think that any health care plan that Congress passes and President Obama signs will add to the federal budget deficit?"

The answer: Less than one-fifth of the voters -- 19 percent of the sample -- think he will keep his word. Nine of 10 Republicans and eight of 10 independents said that whatever passes will add to the torrent of red ink. By a margin of four to three, even Democrats agreed this is likely.

That fear contributed directly to the fact that, by a 16-point margin, the majority in this poll said they oppose the legislation moving through Congress.

I have been writing for months that the acid test for this effort lies less in the publicized fight over the public option or the issue of abortion coverage than in the plausibility of its claim to be fiscally responsible.

This is obviously turning out to be the case. While the CBO said that both the House-passed bill and the one Reid has drafted meet Obama's test by being budget-neutral, every expert I have talked to says that the public has it right. These bills, as they stand, are budget-busters.
Our country does not want and cannot afford this health care bill.  Notwithstanding recent forecasts that "The U.S. economy is coming out of recession thanks to massive government stimulus and will grow more than expected in 2010,", Americans are not buying it.

Bloomberg reports this week:
Confidence among U.S. consumers unexpectedly dropped in November as the loss of jobs threatened to undermine the biggest part of the economy.

The Reuters/University of Michigan preliminary sentiment index decreased to a three-month low of 66 from 70.6 in October. A report from the Commerce Department showed the trade deficit widened in September by the most in a decade as rising demand for imported oil and automobiles swamped a fifth consecutive gain in exports.

Rising joblessness puts the economy at risk of slipping into a vicious circle of firings and declines in consumer spending that will limit the emerging recovery.
Look at David Goldman's analysis of the monthly Labor Department survey released yesterday.  From his article "Unemployment rates rise in 29 states" at
A growing number of states reported rising jobless rates in October, and thirteen states reported unemployment rates above the national average of 10.2%, according to a government report released on Friday.
Oh, I forgot, it's a jobless recovery.

Tonight Harry Reid got the 60 votes needed to send his 2074 page health care bill to the Senate floor for debate after the Thanksgiving break.  I am sure he thinks that people are going to be too busy celebrating with family, eating turkey, putting up Christmas decorations and shopping next week, to even think about health care reform.  Maybe he's right.  But I would bet that Senate phones will start melting on the morning of November 30.

Harry Reid says his health care bill is "fully paid for"

To hear Harry Reid tell it, the 2074 page Senate health care reform bill approaching the debate phase, is already paid for:

Reid bases his ridiculous talking points on the Congressional Budget Office cost estimate which falls under the President's $900 billion threshold.  The Heritage Foundation disputes this number:
To put it charitably, the truth is more complicated. The bill depends on budget gimmicks and unrealistic assumptions and projected savings to reach this goal over the 10 year budget window.

And David M. Dixon at the Washington Times reminds us that the government almost always underestimates costs:
But cost projections are notoriously unreliable, and history is filled with examples of federal programs - especially in health care - that cost far more than originally predicted.
In 1965, the House Ways and Means Committee estimated that the hospital insurance program of Medicare - the federal health care program for the elderly and disabled - would cost $9 billion by 1990. The actual cost that year was $67 billion.
In 1967, the House Ways and Means Committee said the entire Medicare program would cost $12 billion in 1990. The actual cost in 1990 was $98 billion.

In 1987, Congress projected that Medicaid - the joint federal-state health care program for the poor - would make special relief payments to hospitals of less than $1 billion in 1992. Actual cost: $17 billion.

The list goes on. The 1993 cost of Medicare's home care benefit was projected in 1988 to be $4 billion, but ended up at $10 billion. The State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), which was created in 1997 and projected to cost $5 billion per year, has had to be supplemented with hundreds of millions of dollars annually by Congress.

Now consider our nation's financial footing on which this entire house of cards rests.

In 1969 federal revenue from social insurance taxes was 4.1% of the gross domestic product (GDP) and the corresponding outlays for Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid totaled 3.7% of GDP.  By 2008 federal revenue from social insurance taxes had climbed to 6.3% of GDP, but spending for Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid skyrocketed to a total of almost 9% of GDP. (From CBO).

The government health care programs we have now are in the red.  So how are we paying for them?  We all know the answer:  DEBT.  In 1969 the U.S. national debt was around $353 billion.  By 2008, it had grown to $10 trillion, and last week, it exceeded our "debt ceiling" (whatever that means) of $12 trillion.  Our interest payments alone exceeded $1 billion per day in fiscal 2009.

What could possibly go wrong?

Friday, November 20, 2009

The lesson of our forefathers

Friends, readers, countrymen:

In 1765, the British parliament passed the Stamp Act, which placed a duty (tax) on any "skin or piece of vellum or parchment, or sheet or piece of paper, on which shall be ingrossed, written, or printed," almost anything.  The colonists were outraged and protested, not only because they couldn't afford the levies, but because those levies were assessed without any elected representation from the colonies.

"No taxation without representation."  You certainly remember this from history lessons in elementary school (God willing).  The Stamp Act coupled with excessive taxes on imports (such as tea), provided the impetus for the revolution that would take the lives of thousands and beget the birth of the United States of America.

These incendiary taxes were miniscule compared to the taxes we face today, but they were unjust.  Today our citizenry is on the precipice of a new federal stranglehold, which places Americans in the crosshairs of exorbitant, unfair government and levies:

40% tax on health insurance which they purchase;

Fines (taxes) or jail for insurance which they do not purchase;

A penalty tax on insurance of people that are married.

What do you think Thomas Paine would think?  How about Patrick Henry?  John Adams?  Thomas Jefferson?

They would all roll over in their graves to witness the current capitulation of the American people to big government.

Stand up, America.  It may be your last chance.

Issa/Grassley report: Walpin was likely fired to cover up Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson's financial and sexual misconduct

From Byron York at the Washington Examiner:

A congressional investigation of the volunteer organization AmeriCorps contains charges that D.C. schools chief Michelle Rhee handled "damage control" after allegations of sexual misconduct against her now fiance, Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson, a former NBA star and a prominent ally of President Obama, The Washington Examiner has learned.

The charges are contained in a report prepared by Sen. Charles Grassley, the ranking Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, and Rep. Darrell Issa, ranking Republican on the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.
The Issa/Grassley Report and York's analysis strongly suggest that Gerald Walpin was fired because he was on the trail of sexual misconduct (with St. Hope female volunteers) and the subsequent federally funded coverup, by rising Democratic star and former NBA basketball player, Sacramento Mayor, Kevin Johnson.  It's bad enough that Walpin was fired for doing his job.  The Obama administration assertions that he "was confused, disoriented, unable to answer questions and exhibited other behavior that led the Board to question his capacity to serve," are a clear and scandalous implication that he was mentally impaired by his age.

Where is the outrage from the ACLU and the AARP?

I blogged about this here.  You can read the Issa/Grassley Report here.

"Pay to play" alive and well in Washington

Harry Reid need every Democratic vote in the Senate to proceed to debate his health care reform bill this weekend.  ABC News Jonathan Karl exposes the lengths to which he has gone to get Senator Mary Landrieu' vote:
What does it take to get a wavering senator to vote for health care reform?

Here’s a case study.

On page 432 of the Reid bill, there is a section increasing federal Medicaid subsidies for “certain states recovering from a major disaster.”

The section spends two pages defining which “states” would qualify, saying, among other things, that it would be states that “during the preceding 7 fiscal years” have been declared a “major disaster area.”

I am told the section applies to exactly one state: Louisiana, the home of moderate Democrat Mary Landrieu, who has been playing hard to get on the health care bill.

In other words, the bill spends two pages describing would could be written with a single world: Louisiana. (This may also help explain why the bill is long.)

Senator Harry Reid, who drafted the bill, cannot pass it without the support of Louisiana’s Mary Landrieu.

How much does it cost? According to the Congressional Budget Office: $100 million.
Chattahbox tells us how he plans to get Senator Ben Nelson's vote:
For Nelson, Reid left out of the bill, a measure to end the anti-trust exemptions for the insurance industry, despite Reid’s strong support for doing away with the exemptions. Nelson came out publicly in opposition to ending the anti-trust exemptions awarded years ago to health insurance companies.
Talking Points Memo logically wonders, what's in it for Senator Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas?  Stay tuned.

Congress: Weekend warriors? NOT!

Karl Rove does a thorough job in his Wall Street Journal opinion column this week, "The Permanent Campaign Continues", of detailing the Obama White House trend of releasing damaging or controversial news on Fridays. (h/t Dinah Spell)
On Friday, Jan. 30, President Obama revoked the ban on giving taxpayer dollars to international groups that promote or perform abortions abroad. [snip]

On Friday, Feb. 27, Mr. Obama announced he would end U.S. combat activities in Iraq in 18 months. This was a much longer combat presence than his antiwar base wanted.

On Friday, April 17, Mr. Obama lifted some limits on the use of federal funds for the creation and subsequent destruction of human embryos for stem-cell research. [snip]

On Friday, May 15, Mr. Obama announced he would keep George W. Bush's military tribunals to try terrorist detainees, angering civil libertarians and antiwar activists in the Democratic Party's left wing who thought the administration would dismantle the entire Bush antiterror structure.

On Friday, Sept. 15, Mr. Obama admitted that it was unlikely he'd meet his own deadline of closing the Guantanamo detention facility in his first year in office, again angering left-wing supporters and demonstrating that exuberant promises made on the campaign trail and during his first days in office were ill-considered and naïve.

On Friday, Oct. 30, Mr. Obama delivered a double dose of late-breaking news. To respond to increasing criticism of the stimulus's failure to curb rising unemployment, the White House announced it had "created or saved" at least one million jobs since February. It hoped for one weekend in which the "million jobs created or saved" mantra had a relatively free and uncontested run before economists chewed the number up and spit it out. A week later, the unemployment rate hit 10.2%.

Then there was this past Friday, when the White House delivered a double news dose with a foreign twist. Attorney General Eric Holder announced that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and five other terrorists would be tried in a civilian court in New York City rather than before a military tribunal. Later that day, the administration announced that White House Counsel Greg Craig was leaving and would be replaced by Democratic National Committee lawyer Bob Bauer. Mr. Obama? He was safely in the air flying to Asia, having left the day before with most of his press corps in tow.
He also explains the underlying motivations:
Do Friday news dumps work? Yes, but marginally. The White House press corps is generally exhausted at the end of a long week. Congressional critics are either in route back home to their districts or already there. Friday night network television news and Saturday newspapers and cable coverage are traditionally less seen or read. By Sunday morning, a Friday announcement is often considered old news. Monday is the first opportunity White House correspondents get to ask the president's press secretary on camera about whatever was released Friday. By then there is almost always other news occupying the headlines.
The Congress has taken a cue from the President by ramming through watershed legislation on the weekend, first with the health care reform passed by the House at 11 PM on November 7th, and now with the planned Saturday (Sunday?) vote on debating Reid's 2,074 page version.

This scheduling is not driven by the leadership's burning passion to secure healthcare for the uninsured.  Rather, it is a recognition that every time elected officials go back to their home districts, they are barraged by a plurality of their constituents who are strongly opposed to any government takeover of healthcare.  They can't afford to let them go home!

Fox News poll released today surely gives Democrats facing 2010 elections pause:
More Americans continue to oppose the health care reform legislation than support it, according to a Fox News poll released Friday. In addition, half favor banning the use of federal funds for abortions.

By 51 percent to 35 percent, the public opposes the reform legislation being considered right now by Congress. Last month, a majority opposed the health care legislation by a similar 54-35 percent (October 13-14, 2009).

While a majority of Democrats favor the reforms (65 percent), some 17 percent are opposed and another 18 percent are unsure. Most Republicans (82 percent) and a majority of independents (61 percent) oppose the legislation.

Seniors aged 65 and over oppose to the legislation by 56-30 percent, while voters under age 30 are slightly more likely to be in favor of it (45-41 percent). (emphasis mine)
Read the whole thingClick here to see the poll.

Breitbart throws down the gauntlet to Holder

Andrew Breitbart reveals the final chapter of the ACORN L.A. saga on Hannity last night, but the most interesting part is when Breitbart sends a message to Attorney General Eric Holder. Transcript below starts at 3:50 on the video (via Big Government)

Breitbart: There’s a lot of hypocrisy and the dust has settled for ACORN and at the end of the day they’ve recognized that Eric Holder, the Attorney General, has not initiated an investigation into ACORN after we now have seven tapes. There were five initially that came out, ACORN was defunded by the Senate, was defunded by the House, lost it’s link to the Census; while all that damage occurred, Congress didn’t come in to investigate them, obviously not the Attorney General’s office, and they’ve now realized let’s get back into business because they realized that the dust settled and they were not being investigated, it was Hannah, James, and me who were being investigated, that’s why we’ve been forced to offer this latest tape.
Hannity: Are you saying, Andrew, that there are more tapes?

Breitbart: Oh my goodness there are! Not only are there more tapes, it’s not just ACORN. And this message is to Attorney General Holder: I want you to know that we have more tapes, it’s not just ACORN, and we’re going to hold out until the next election cycle, or else if you want to do a clean investigation, we will give you the rest of what we have, we will comply with you, we will give you the documentation we have from countless ACORN whistleblowers who want to come forward but are fearful of this organization and the retribution that they fear that this is a dangerous organization. So if you get into an investigation, we will give you the tapes; if you don’t give us the tapes, we will revisit these tapes come election time. (emphasis mine)

Hannity: This is a blockbuster, what you’re saying here. You guys have more tapes, you’ll release them before the election, that could have a big impact on the election, obviously…
Oh, my goodness, Andrew, you make us proud!

The federal funding of ACORN is set to resume December 18th, when the continuing resolution which provides funds to run government while the final budget is completed and contains the funding ban, expires.  Let your representatives know that using taxpayer money to fund ACORN is unacceptable.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Canadian U.N. observer evicted for Pro-Israel comments. Update: video added.

In U.N. Human Wrongs Council, I wrote about the U.N. hit job, the Goldstone Report, condemning Israel.  The Wall Street Journal reports that Anne Bayefsky, an accredited United Nations observer, was stripped of her credentials and evicted after delivering a two-minute talk critical of the report.  I don't usually reproduce an entire article, but I have in this case.  It's important.
As part of our public-service reports on the workings of your favorite world body, allow us to introduce you to Anne Bayefsky. The Toronto native is an expert on human-rights law and an accredited United Nations observer. She is also a friend of Israel, which makes her persona non grata as far as the folks at Turtle Bay are concerned.
Ms. Bayefsky's sin was a two-minute talk she delivered at the U.N. earlier this month after the General Assembly had issued a resolution endorsing the Goldstone Report, which levels war crimes charges at Israel for defending itself in the face of Hamas's rockets. "The resolution doesn't mention the word Hamas," she said. "This is a resolution that purports to be even-handed; it is anything but."
Ms. Bayefsky's comments were the only note of criticism on a day otherwise marked by much U.N. jubilation. Whereupon she was summarily stripped of her U.N. badge and evicted from the premises. "The Palestinian ambassador is very upset by your statement," Ms. Bayefsky says the U.N. security chief told her. Journalist Matthew Russell Lee tells us that he heard the ambassador asking whether U.N. security had "captured" Ms. Bayefsky.
For the record, the U.N. claims that Ms. Bayefsky violated procedures by bringing a colleague who lacked a proper badge, and that she was not entitled to speak where she did, though representatives of nongovernment organizations have used it in the past. And when we called the Palestinian Mission to get their side of the story, they told us the fracas was the last of their worries. Maybe so.
Yet the U.N. continues to bar Ms. Bayefsky from the premises, despite calls on her behalf by the U.S. mission and Nobel Laureate Elie Wiesel. Best-case scenario, one U.N. insider tells us, is that "they'll put her on probation." We hear the U.N.'s NGO accreditation committee, chaired by Sudan, will likely make the final decision.

Meanwhile, a committee of the General Assembly recently passed a resolution on the so-called defamation of religion. "Everyone has the right to hold opinions without interference, and has the right to freedom of expression, the exercise of which carries with it special duties and responsibilities and may therefore be subject to limitations," it says.

"Without interference" yet "subject to limitations." Orwell should be living now.
 This, like most news originating from the United Nations is an outrage.  We should send them all packing now.

Update:  Here is Ms. Bayefsky's speech that upset the Palestinian ambassador.

Matthew Whalen's expungement appeal denied by school board

From the Troy Record,

The Lansingburgh Central School District’s Board of Education decided not to expunge 17-year-old Matthew Whalen’s school suspension earlier this year from his record and his parents plan to appeal the decision with the state.

“This could take up to one year, so it may be a moot point by time a decision is made by the state,” said Bryan Whalen, Matthew’s father, about the appeal process with the state’s Board of Education.
I blogged about this case back in October, after Whalen was suspended from school for 20 days for having a pocketknife locked in the trunk of his car at school.  I really did not expect a different decision about the expungement of his record, but if the people of the Lansingburgh Central School District saw this suspension as an overreaching act devoid of common sense, maybe they will voice their disapproval in the next school board election.

This blogger hopes Matthew will still be able to realize his dream of going to Westpoint.  Stay tuned.

John Murtha: Poster Geezer for Term Limits

Glenn Beck showed this segment on his show today. It exposes John Murtha for the corruptocrat that he is.  He goes all the way back to the Abscam scandal of  the 1970's, and shows us the state of the art John Murtha Airport, the slick website for which boasts its "Three flights daily to Washington-Dulles International Airport on weekdays, with weekend travel available as well." It has cost the American taxpayers $200 million.


Hasan's Supervisor Warned Army In 2007

NPR's Daniel Zwerdling discloses the existence and content of a memo sent to the Walter Reed credentials committee two years ago warning of Nidal Hasan's incompetence and reckless behavior.
On May 17, 2007, Hasan's supervisor at Walter Reed sent the memo to the Walter Reed credentials committee. It reads, "Memorandum for: Credentials Committee. Subject: CPT Nidal Hasan." More than a page long, the document warns that: "The Faculty has serious concerns about CPT Hasan's professionalism and work ethic. ... He demonstrates a pattern of poor judgment and a lack of professionalism." It is signed by the chief of psychiatric residents at Walter Reed, Maj. Scott Moran. [snip]
According to the memo, Hasan hardly did any work: He saw only 30 patients in 38 weeks. Sources at Walter Reed say most psychiatrists see at least 10 times that many patients. When Hasan was supposed to be on call for emergencies, he didn't even answer the phone.
The article concludes with this:
Moran and Pentagon spokesmen declined NPR's requests for interviews for this story. Officials at Fort Hood would not comment, either.

But sources say that when the Army sent Hasan to Fort Hood earlier this year, Walter Reed sent the damning evaluation there, too. So commanders at Fort Hood would know exactly what they were getting.
NPR has posted a transcript of the memo here.

Rick Moran at American Thinker is convinced the implications of this memo are clear:
I think the case is irrefutable for the Army bending over backward not to dismiss an incompetent due to his religious beliefs and ethnic background. There's no other logical explanation - unless you want to posit the idea that the brass at Fort Hood - indeed, everywhere - need courses in remedial reading.
This looks like bad news for the brass at Fort Hood, and will only deepen the pain and suffering for the families of Hasan's victims.

With Hurricanes At Thirty Year Low, Gore Turns To Photoshop

Rush Limbaugh is having fun today at Al Gore's expense.  Apparently Gore's new book cover showing what is ostensibly a satellite image of our imminently threatened planet is phony.  Paul Joseph Watson at Prison Planet writes:
With the increasingly discredited notion of man-made global warming crashing and burning on a daily basis, climate alarmists are being forced to accelerate their fearmongering to unprecedented levels. With the evidence failing to match up to the doomsday proclamations, Al Gore has turned to photoshop in order to make a CO2-choked earth look scary enough to sell his cap and trade scam.

The latest example of climate cult fakery comes in the form of the front cover of Al Gore’s new book, Our Choice; A Plan To Solve The Climate Crisis.

Shortly after the devastation of Katrina, Al Gore was busy making a correlation between hurricanes and global warming in an effort to drive home his claim that higher global CO2 emissions cause an increase in extreme weather events. The cover art for Gore’s movie, An Inconvenient Truth, features an image of a hurricane rising out of a smoke stack.

Seemingly underwhelmed that there have been no major hurricanes since Katrina, along with the fact that global hurricane activity is now at a thirty year low, Gore came up with an ingenious method of solving the problem of the lack of scary depictions of frightening hurricanes to display on his book – simply airbrush them in!

Ryan Maue, hurricane expert from the University of Florida writes:

The cover opens and closes half and half — so you only see one hurricane…as in the press release photo or the one on Amazon.

But this is the real picture sequence from the book which I looked at Borders today and took cell-phone pictures, original (before the retouching by some “artist”) Note all of the Arctic ice and the size of the Florida Peninsula…

And the final product:

A midget Southern Hemisphere cyclone is off the coast of Florida, another hurricane is sitting on the equator off the coast of Peru — and the Arctic Ice is gone (perhaps it is summer) and the Florida Peninsula is half gone

There are other differences I am sure you can find — but the hurricanes are just nonsense…
Commenter James at remarks:
So not only is half of Florida gone, but Cuba is completely gone. Guess the future don’t look too bright for Fidel Castro.

Click on the article to see the picture. Implicit in Maue's comments, is that fact that he didn't want to buy the book in order to make his points, so he just used his cell phone in Borders!

Graham accuses Holder of "making bad history"

I have often been critical of Lindsey Graham through the years, but he hit it out of the park yesterday in his questioning of Attorney General Eric Holder during the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing. If you did not see it, watch part of it here.

Andy McCarthy continues his devastating analysis of Holder's testimony at the Corner today and asks "How Hard Can AG Holder Have Studied The KSM Question?" 
...The lawyer's stock in trade is precedent. Whether you're a prosecutor or any other lawyer faced with a policy question, the first thing you want to know is what the law says on the subject: Has this come up before? Are there prior cases on point? What have the courts had to say? Those are the first-order questions — always.

Here's the relevant transcript:

SEN. GRAHAM: Yeah, nor do I. But here's my concern. Can you give me a case in United States history where a enemy combatant caught on a battlefield was tried in civilian court?

ATTY GEN. HOLDER: [ACM: LONG PAUSE] I don't know. I'd have to look at that. I think that, you know, the determination I've made —

SEN. GRAHAM: We're making history here, Mr. Attorney General. I'll answer it for you. The answer is no.

ATTY GEN. HOLDER: Well, I think —

SEN. GRAHAM: ... The Ghailani case — he was indicted for the Cole bombing before 9/11. And I didn't object to it going into federal court. But I'm telling you right now. We're making history and we're making bad history.

How could Holder possibly not know the answer to this fundamental question — how could he, in fact, be stumped by it. If he studied and agonized over this decision as he says he did, this would have been the first issue he'd have considered: the fact that there was no legal precedent for what he wanted to do. [snip]

Of course, if, as I've suggested, this is a political decision rather than a legal one, it would make perfect sense that the Attorney General wasn't up to speed on legal precedent. The law isn't what's driving this train.
Read the whole thing.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

SEIU threatens legal action over Eagle Scout project in PA

A prospective Eagle Scout in Allentown, Pennsylvania has run afoul of the local Service Employees International Union (SEIU).

In pursuit of an Eagle Scout badge, Kevin Anderson, 17, has toiled for more than 200 hours hours over several weeks to clear a walking path in an east Allentown park.

Little did the do-gooder know that his altruistic act would put him in the cross hairs of the city's largest municipal union.

Nick Balzano, president of the local Service Employees International Union, told Allentown City Council Tuesday that the union is considering filing a grievance against the city for allowing Anderson to clear a 1,000-foot walking and biking path at Kimmets Lock Park.

"We'll be looking into the Cub Scout or Boy Scout who did the trails," Balzano told the council.

Balzano said Saturday he isn't targeting Boy Scouts. But given the city's decision in July to lay off 39 SEIU members, Balzano said "there's to be no volunteers." No one except union members may pick up a hoe or shovel, plant a flower or clear a walking path.

"We would hope that the well-intentioned efforts of an Eagle Scout candidate would not be challenged by the union," said Mayor Ed Pawlowski in an e-mail Friday. "This young man is performing a great service to the community. His efforts should be recognized as such."

Balzano said Saturday the union is still looking into the matter and might cut the city a break.

"We are probably going to let this one go," Balzano said .
Quite charitable of you Mr. Balzano.  What happened to the President' call to service?  And this from candidate Obama?
Just as we teach math and writing, arts and athletics, we need to teach young Americans to take citizenship seriously. Study after study shows that students who serve do better in school, are more likely to go to college, and more likely to maintain that service as adults. So when I'm President, I will set a goal for all American middle and high school students to perform 50 hours of service a year, and for all college students to perform 100 hours of service a year. This means that by the time you graduate college, you'll have done 17 weeks of service.
We'll reach this goal in several ways. At the middle and high school level, we'll make federal assistance conditional on school districts developing service programs, and give schools resources to offer new service opportunities. At the community level, we'll develop public-private partnerships so students can serve more outside the classroom.
I guess $27 million in campaign contributions trumps the selfless contributions of this young American Eagle Scout.

Attorney General Eric Holder's whoppers

Andy McCarthy at the Corner, takes apart "whoppers" from Attorney General Holder's morning testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee.  Read it here.  The last whopper, from this post (I'm sure McCarthy will have more after lunch!):
8. For eight years justice has been delayed — no longer, "It is past time to finally act." Holder, of course, does not mention the role of his firm and others in delaying and derailing the military commissions during their representation of America's enemies. Senator Kyl just confronted him with my contentions on that score (from this column). The attorney-general responded that I am a polemecist who says inflammatory things for talk shows, whereas he is concerned with facts. (I guess he means pertinent facts, like how he is not "scared of KSM.") I'm delighted to let people judge that one for themselves.
What audacious arrogance.  Blogger Abu Wabu isn't surprised:
Of course, Holder dismisses McCarthy as a "polemicist", which is apparently what leftists call prosecutors who, having experienced and dealt with the dangerous effects of prosecuting a terrorist in the civilian justice system, expose the left's disastrous idiocy.
You can check out McCarthy's "polemic" credentials here, here and here.

Michelle Malkin has more about Holder's former law firm and its representation of America's enemies.  Read it here.

Senator Kyl: ''How could he be more likely to get a conviction than that?''

Attorney General Eric Holder is testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committe today to defend his decision to try Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four of his 9/11 co-conspirators in federal court in New York.  From his opening remarks:
The 9/11 attacks were both an act of war and a violation of our federal criminal law, and they could have been prosecuted in either federal courts or military commissions. Courts and commissions are both essential tools in our fight against terrorism. Therefore, at the outset of my review of these cases, I had no preconceived views as to the merits of either venue, and in fact on the same day that I sent these five defendants to federal court, I referred five others to be tried in military commissions. I am a prosecutor, and as a prosecutor my top priority was simply to select the venue where the government will have the greatest opportunity to present the strongest case in the best forum.

I studied this issue extensively. I consulted the Secretary of Defense. I heard from prosecutors from my Department and from the Defense Department’s Office of Military Commissions. I spoke to victims on both sides of the question. I asked a lot of questions and weighed every alternative. And at the end of the day, it was clear to me that the venue in which we are most likely to obtain justice for the American people is in federal court. [snip]
We will also use every instrument of our national power to bring to justice those responsible for terrorist attacks against our people. For eight years, justice has been delayed for the victims of the 9/11 attacks. It has been delayed even further for the victims of the attack on the USS Cole. No longer. No more delays. It is time, it is past time, to act. By bringing prosecutions in both our courts and military commissions, by seeking the death penalty, by holding these terrorists responsible for their actions, we are finally taking ultimate steps toward justice. That is why I made this decision. (emphasis mine)
I listened to his statement in complete disbelief.  Senator Jon Kyl (R-AZ) put my question to AG Holder quite succinctly.  The New York Times reports
Tempers flared when Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., challenged Holder to say how a civilian trial could be better, since Mohammed has sought to plead guilty to a military commission.

''How could he be more likely to get a conviction than that?'' pressed Kyl, to applause from some in the hearing room.
So let's get this straight.  The AG wants "no more delays", but he is going to initiate what will certainly be one of the longest, most costly trials in U.S. history.  Holder has determined that the Southern District Court of New York is the best venue to obtain a strong and just outcome for the American people. So the Obama administration suspended an ongoing legal military commission, originating during the Bush administration, which would have likely concluded in December of this year with a guilty plea by Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.

Every word explaining this indefensible decision strikes me as completely disingenuous.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

More Gore gobbledygook

National Review's John Derbyshire at the Corner exposes the vacuous Al Gore as the fraud that he is.  To preserve its priceless punch, I'm including the whole thing.  (h/t Powerline
Al Gore on Conan O'Brien's show the other day:

Conan: Now, what about … you talk in the book about geothermal energy …

Al: Yeah, yeah.

Conan: and that is, as I understand it, using the heat that's generated from the core of the earth …

Al: Yeah.

Conan: … to create energy, and it sounds to me like an evil plan by Lex Luthor to defeat Superman. Can you, can you tell me, is this a viable solution, geothermal energy?

Al: It definitely is, and it's a relatively new one. People think about geothermal energy — when they think about it at all — in terms of the hot water bubbling up in some places, but two kilometers or so down in most places there are these incredibly hot rocks, 'cause the interior of the earth is extremely hot, several million degrees, and the crust of the earth is hot …

[Me] The geothermal gradient is usually quoted as 25–50 degrees Celsius per mile of depth in normal terrain (not, e.g., in the crater of Kilauea). Two kilometers down, therefore, (that's a mile and a quarter if you're not as science-y as Al) you'll have an average gain of 30–60 degrees — exploitable for things like home heating, though not hot enough to make a nice pot of tea. The temperature at the earth's core, 4,000 miles down, is usually quoted as 5,000 degrees Celsius, though these guys claim it's much less, while some contrarian geophysicists have posted claims up to 9,000 degrees. The temperature at the surface of the Sun is around 6,000 degrees Celsius, while at the center, where nuclear fusion is going on bigtime, things get up over 10 million degrees.

If the temperature anywhere inside the earth was "several million degrees," we'd be a star.
The video of the interchange is here.

Update:  Ed Morrissey blogs on this story in "The Goracle on geothermal temperatures."

More censorship thuggery at the EPA

Fox News reports more censorship from the Environmental Protection Agency.
Laurie Williams and husband Alan Zabel worked for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for more than 20 years, and they know more about climate change than most politicians. But when the couple released a video on the Internet expressing their concerns over the Obama administration’s plans to use cap-and-trade legislation to fight climate change, they were told to keep it to themselves.

Williams and Zabel oppose cap and trade -- a controversial government allowance program in which companies are issued emissions limits, or caps, which they can then trade -- as a means to fight climate change.

On their own time, Williams and Zabel made a video expressing these opinions. [snip]

"Cap-and-trade with offsets provides a false sense of progress and puts money in the pockets of investors," Zabel said in the video. "We think that these restrictions might not be constitutional," he said.

Their bosses in San Francisco approved the effort by Williams and Zabel to release the tape, but after an editorial they wrote appeared in the Washington Post, EPA Director Lisa Jackson ordered the pair to remove the video or face disciplinary action.
Public Employees for Environmental Responsibity (PEER) takes exception to the treatment of the two long-term federal employees.  You can read their news release here.  It says in part:
“EPA is abusing ethics rules to gag two conscientious employees who have every right to speak out as citizens,” stated PEER Executive Director Jeff Ruch, who has re-posted the original video and its script. “EPA reversed itself because someone in headquarters had a tantrum about their Washington Post essay.”

Williams and Zabel, who are married to each other, go to great lengths in the video and other writings to provide disclaimers affirming that their views are personal and do not represent the agency. However, EPA now objects to them even referring to their on-the-job experience as the basis for their views.

“How is government supposed to be transparent when public servants are forbidden from discussing the nature of their work?” asked Ruch. “EPA and every other federal agency should have simple, clear guidelines so that government workers can express themselves freely without political prior restraints.”
The video has been reposted on YouTube by many others since Williams and Zabel removed it.  You can watch it here.

Remember Alan Carlin?  He is a senior analyst in the EPA's National Center for Environmental Economics and a 37-year veteran of the agency.  He received the message that dissent was not welcome at EPA earlier this year.
In March, the Obama EPA prepared to engage the global-warming debate in an astounding new way, by issuing an "endangerment" finding on carbon. It establishes that carbon is a pollutant, and thereby gives the EPA the authority to regulate it -- even if Congress doesn't act.

Around this time, Mr. Carlin and a colleague presented a 98-page analysis arguing the agency should take another look, as the science behind man-made global warming is inconclusive at best. The analysis noted that global temperatures were on a downward trend. It pointed out problems with climate models. It highlighted new research that contradicts apocalyptic scenarios. "We believe our concerns and reservations are sufficiently important to warrant a serious review of the science by EPA," the report read.

The response to Mr. Carlin was an email from his boss, Al McGartland, forbidding him from "any direct communication" with anyone outside of his office with regard to his analysis. When Mr. Carlin tried again to disseminate his analysis, Mr. McGartland decreed: "The administrator and the administration have decided to move forward on endangerment, and your comments do not help the legal or policy case for this decision. . . . I can only see one impact of your comments given where we are in the process, and that would be a very negative impact on our office."
He was subsequently ordered to spend no more EPA time on climate change.

More from the Wall Street Journal here.