Sunday, May 30, 2010

Obama backs U.N. resolution against Israel

While you were preparing for the Memorial Day weekend with your family and friends, the United States government under the leadership of Barack Obama, was stabbing Israel in the back at the United Nations.  From Breitbart:
Washington's unprecedented backing for a UN resolution for a nuclear-free Middle East that singles out Israel has both angered and deeply worried the Jewish state although officials are cagey about openly criticising their biggest ally.

The resolution adopted by the United Nations on Friday calls on Israel to join the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and urges it to open its facilities to inspection.

It also calls for a regional conference in 2012 to advance the goal of a nuclear-free Middle East.

Israel is widely believed to be the only nuclear power in the Middle East, with around 200 warheads, but has maintained a policy of deliberate ambiguity about its capabilities since the mid-1960s.

The document, which singles out Israel but makes no mention of Iran's controversial nuclear programme, drew a furious reaction from the Jewish state who decried it as "deeply flawed and hypocritical."

But it was US backing for the resolution which has caused the most consternation among Israeli officials and commentators, who interpreted the move as "a resounding slap around the face" which has dealt a very public blow to Israel's long-accepted policy of nuclear ambiguity.

Publicly, the Israel government has not criticised the US position but privately, officials expressed deep disappointment over the resolution, which Washington backed despite intensive Israeli efforts to block it.

According to the top-selling Yediot Aharonot daily, the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was "furious with the Obama administration for having failed to prevent the resolution from passing... and for choosing to support it."

"The American support for the resolution, after decades in which it supported Israel on this issue, came as a complete surprise," the paper said.

"In the secret talks that Netanyahu held with Obama's men... Israel was promised that the resolution would not focus on Israel and that if it did, the Americans would vote against."

The left-leaning Haaretz daily said Israel had been "sacrificed by the US on the altar of a successful conference" in what constituted "a diplomatic victory for Egypt" which has campaigned against Israel's nuclear arsenal.

Five years ago, the paper recalled, Obama's predecessor George W. Bush, refused to accept parts of a draft document calling on Israel to join the NPT and dismissed the idea of holding talks to create a nuclear-free Middle East -- even at the cost of the conference's failure.
The Washington Post reports that even the Iranians were surprised that the U.S. voted for the resolution:
Not that the conference lacked for drama. Many diplomats expected the U.S. delegation would kill the final document because of the mention of Israel.

When the United States accepted it, the Iranian delegation was so surprised that it asked for a four-hour postponement of the final session so that members could call their government, diplomats said.

The Iranians finally agreed to the text, recommitting themselves -- at least verbally -- to the treaty's rules.
Anyone who doubts the existential threats to Israel is ignorant of history, deaf to the overt threats of neighboring leaders or completely delusional.  This is a sad day in American history.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Bachmann blasts Democrats for voting themselves a pay raise

In case you missed it, Republican Minority Whip Eric Cantor (VA-7) has launched the website "You Cut" where Americans can vote on wasteful federal government spending they want to cut from the budget.  In its second week, the winner was non-military federal employee pay raises.  Not surprisingly, it failed on a 227-183 vote.  Michele Bachmann who made the motion to cut these pay raises blasted the Democrats on the vote:

The Democrats cannot ignore the will of the American people forever.  Cast your vote for federal spending cuts here and spread the link to your family and friends.

Barack the verbose

It's Steyn Saturday.  After my last post, I found Mark Steyn's column, "Barack the Verbose" at NRO Weekend, another brilliant must-read for this Memorial Day weekend.  Here's an excerpt:
One of the chief characteristics of Barack Obama’s speechifying is its contempt for words as anything other than props of self-puffery. Consider, for example, his recent remarks to the graduating class of the United States Military Academy:

“America has not succeeded by stepping out of the currents of cooperation — we have succeeded by steering those currents in the direction of liberty and justice.”

“Steering those currents”? How could even a member of the president’s insulated, self-regarding speechwriting team be so tin-eared as to write that line? How could the president be so tone-deaf as to deliver it in May of 2010? Hey, genius, if you’re so damn good at “steering currents,” why not try doing it in the Gulf of Mexico?
And my favorite:
In the age of kings, we were taught that kings were human, with human failings. Now, in the age of citizen-presidents, we are taught that government has unlimited powers over “heaven, earth, and sea.” Unlike Canute and Alfred, the vanity of Big Government knows no bounds. Tim Flannery, the Aussie global warm-monger who chaired the Copenhagen climate circus a few months back, announces with a straight face that “we’re trying to act as a species to regulate the atmosphere.” Never mind anything so footling as the incoming tides, but the very atmosphere! How do you do that? Well, first, take one extremely large check. Next, add several extra zeroes to it. Then, toss it out the window. “He whom heaven, earth, and sea obey by eternal laws”? Hah! That’s chickenfeed compared to the way things are gonna be once heaven, earth, and sea are forced to submit to a transnational micro-regulatory regime.
It's worth the time to read the whole thing

We're too broke to be this stupid

Mark Steyn sees signs that beleaguered taxpayers may finally put the brakes on wasteful government spending.  From the conclusion his of  Macleans piece "We’re too broke to be this stupid:"
The green jobs, the gay parades, the jihadist welfare queens, the Greek public sector unions, all have to be paid for by a shrinking base of contributing workers whose children and grandchildren will lead poorer and meaner lives because of the fecklessness of government. The social compact of the postwar era cannot hold. Across the developed world, a beleaguered middle class is beginning to understand that it’s no longer that rich. At some point, it will look at the sheer waste of government spending, the other shoe will drop, and it will decide that it no longer wishes to be that stupid.
John Hinderaker at Powerline believes this may be Steyn's greatest column ever.  That's quite and endorsement and makes it a must read. 

Friday, May 28, 2010

Steve Wynn takes on Washington

Wynn Resorts CEO Steve Wynn has been a frequent and vocal critic of the Obama administration, and last month created a stir when he told CNBC that he was considering relocating his corporate headquarters from Las Vegas to Macau. Today he addressed that issue and a lot more in another CNBC interview occasioned by today's grand opening of Wynn's Encore Beach Club in Las Vegas.  It's must-see TV.


Wynn provides a sad and revealing distillation of the current business environment in the United States.  Two quotes are particularly unsettling:

1.  "The opportunities I see are far superior abroad than in America." (emphasis added)

2.  "Macau has been steady.  The shocking, unexpected government is the one in Washington.  That's where we get surpsrises every day.  That's where tactics are changed every 5 minutes.  That's where you don't know what to expect tomorrow."

The world's capital markets are built and devastated on expectations.  Steve Wynn makes it clear that running a business in America today is like shooting craps.

White House whopper: Bill Clinton dispatched to offer Sestak an unpaid position

The Washington Post is reporting that the White House dispatched former President Bill Clinton to talk to Joe Sestak:
Senior White House advisers asked former President Bill Clinton to talk to Joe Sestak about whether he was serious about running for Senate, and to feel out whether he'd be open to other alternatives, according to sources familiar with the situation.

But the White House maintains that the Clinton-Sestak discussions were informal, according to the sources. The White House, under pressure to divulge the specifics of its interactions with Sestak, will release a formal statement later today outlining their version of events, including Clinton's involvement.

According to the sources, White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel asked Clinton and his longtime adviser, lawyer Doug Band, to talk to Sestak about the race. It's unclear right now whether the White House will say that Clinton was asked to suggest specific administration positions for Sestak, whether Clinton floated positions on his own, whether Clinton discussed other options not related to the adminstration, or whether employment even came up at all in the talks.

But the news that Clinton is at the center of this whole story is noteworthy on its own because of the former president's stature, and underscores how heavily invested the White House was in dissuading Sestak from running. The White House sent Clinton to talk to Sestak because Arlen Specter, constituting the 60th Dem vote in the Senate, was viewed as key to enacting Obama's agenda.
WaPo update at 11:35am:
I noted earlier that the White House asked Bill Clinton to meet with Joe Sestak to gauge whether he'd be open to alternatives other than running for Senate.

Now I've got some detail on precisely what alternatives were discussed.

According to a source familiar with the situation, the White House asked Clinton and his adviser, lawyer Doug Band, to suggest to Sestak an unpaid position on the President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board.

This is similar to what The New York Times's Peter Baker was told by sources, and Baker adds that the White House counsel looked at the the offer and concluded it wasn't illegal:

The office of Robert F. Bauer, the White House counsel, has concluded that Mr. Emanuel's proposal did not violate laws prohibiting government employees from promising employment as a reward for political activity because the position being offered was unpaid. The office also found other examples of presidents offering positions to political allies to achieve political aims.

That dovetails with what I'm hearing the White House has concluded.

The fact that this is an unpaid position could be key. I've checked in with a good government expert to gauge this latest, and will update you when I hear back.
The Washington Post story very likely accelerated the timeline for the White House response which was issued moments later (I'm sure the administration wanted to release it in the darkness of Memorial Day Friday evening when nobody was paying attention).

So, the White House offered Representative Sestak an unpaid position to get out of the senate race.  No wonder he rejected the offer!  This explanation doesn't even pass the laugh test.

Read it for yourself here.

Kudlow: Greek disease in the house

It appears the Democratic leadership in Congress has learned nothing from the financial catastrophe spreading like wildfire throughout Europe.  It proposes to pay for part of the extension of unemployment and other benefits by increasing capital gains taxes on investment partnerships.  Larry Kudlow rips the plan at NRO:
And in true class-warfare style, a small portion of the $200 billion is supposed to be offset by jacking up capital-gains taxes for investment partnerships. If passed, this would reduce investment, jobs, and economic growth, and enlarge the deficit. Higher spending and investment taxing is a true austerity trap.

This business of raising the tax rate on investment partnerships would be a particularly onerous burden on American entrepreneurs. And it would put this country at a decided disadvantage to our competitors in China and elsewhere in Asia (outside of Japan).

Increasing the tax rate on the investment portion of these partnerships (i.e., the capital gains) would boost the penalty rate from 15 percent to 38 percent — and that includes the Obamacare payroll tax on investment scheduled for 2013.

So, instead of keeping 85 cents on the extra dollar earned from high-risk investment, the House proposal would drop the return to only 62 cents — a whopping 27 percent incentive rollback. And by the same amount, it would raise the cost of new capital, draining investment liquidity from the private sector in order to finance government transfer payments.

Nothing could be worse. This is spread-the-wealth in its most crass form.
The provision is drawing fire from investment-management partnerships for what many call a punitive tax that singles out one particular industry.  From The Wall Street Journal:
Critics of the proposal say it singles out investment-management partnerships as the only businesses in the U.S. where the value of an enterprise would be taxed as ordinary income if the overall enterprise or part of it were sold. It effectively turns the proceeds from the sale of a business into ordinary income, just because it is an investment-management partnership.

At first, lobbyists advising private-equity firms and hedge funds figured the provision—a 29-page section of the bill filled with cross-references and defined terms—was a drafting error, say several people who have lobbied against the tax changes.

"It is widely understood that when you sell your business, you are taxed at a capital gains rate," said Ms. Olson. "Treating all of the investment manager's gain as ordinary income - without regard to whether it is related to carried interest income—is an extraordinary change in the rules."

To bolster its objection to the provision, a memo produced by Private Equity Council compares a clothing-store business with a real-estate investment partnership.

In a clothing-store business, the owners make money from selling inventory. Those proceeds are taxed at ordinary income rates. They grow the business by investing the company's profits and opening new stores. Over time, they build a workforce, a reputation, and loyal customers. When the owners decide to sell the business, the gains on that sale are generally taxed at capital gains rates. (Any inventory on hand is still taxed as ordinary income.)

In a real estate investment-management partnership, the owners invest in properties through funds with outside investors. They reinvest some of the profits in the business, grow their funds, and build up a reputation with investors. Under the proposed rules, when the owners decide to sell the business, the gains on that sale would be taxed at ordinary income rates instead of capital gains.

One potential buyer of investment-management firms said there could be unintended, negative ramifications of the proposed tax change.

"The consequences of these actions might boomerang," said Dean Barr, managing partner of Foundation Capital Partners, a firm set up to buy minority stakes in large alternative investment firms. "I don't think anybody would really like large private-equity firms and hedge funds to move to less-regulated domiciles."
A fancy way of stating the obvious:  you may tax them out of business or you may just tax them out of the country.

The good news if there is any, is that the Democrats are beginning to feel the pressure.  The bill has been reduced from its original $200 billion to $92.5 billion, and it isn't expected to pass the House until late today, pushing its consideration by the Senate until after the Memorial Day recess which ends June 7.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Obama shock: National Guard will not be used to stop illegal immigration

Shortly after meeting with Congressional Republicans yesterday, President Obama announced that he would be sending an additional 1200 National Guard troops to the border (without actually disclosing his plans to the GOP members he met with a few minutes earlier).  If you think these troops are being deployed to assist our states with immigration violations, you are sorely mistaken.  From Breitbart:

US National Guard troops being sent to the Mexican border will be used to stem the flow of guns and drugs across the frontier and not to enforce US immigration laws, the State Department said Wednesday.

The clarification came after the Mexican government urged Washington not to use the additional troops to go after illegal immigrants.

President Barack Obama on Tuesday authorized the deployment of up to 1,200 additional troops to border areas but State Department spokesman Philip Crowley told reporters, "It's not about immigration."

He said the move was "fully consistent with our efforts to do our part to stem, you know, violence, to interdict the flow of dangerous people and dangerous goods -- drugs, guns, people."

He said the extra troops would be used to free up civilians engaged in support functions so that law enforcement personnel can be increased along the 2,000-mile-long (3,200 kilometer) border.

Nearly 13 million Mexicans live in the United States, more than half of them illegally.

"We have explained the president's announcement to the government of Mexico, and they fully understand the rationale behind it," Crowley said.

Obama's announcement came less than a week after a state visit to Washington by Mexican President Felipe Calderon, who asked for greater US backing for a bloody three-year-old war on drug cartels.

Drug violence has claimed the lives of nearly 23,000 people over the past three years.
Stemming the flow of drugs and guns, not illegal immigrants.  That seems a distinction without a difference.

Dems plan to use war-funding bill for more pork

Just when you thought you had reached the physiological limits of outrage, The Washington Examiner reports:
As senators prepare to vote on a $58.8 billion supplemental war-spending bill, a fight is looming over whether to pay for it or simply add the cost to the nation's soaring deficit.

President Obama and Democratic leaders are hoping to use the war funding bill as a vehicle for passing billions of dollars in additional domestic spending, including $23 billion to avert teacher layoffs.

But that plan is running into problems in the Senate, where Republicans are pushing for ways to offset the cost, while some Democrats are reluctant to increase the price tag on the war funding bill.

Democrats plan to use a similar tactic to push through a repeal of the military's "don't ask don't tell" policy by attaching it to a bill authorizing next year's defense spending.
That's only the tip of the pork iceberg.  Henry Sokolski at the NRO Corner adds:
Let’s see. The United States is broke. Our government has no choice but to cover the costs of our troops fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq and to pay out disaster relief before Memorial Day recess. So what do the President and the speaker of the House focus on? Cutting a deal to ram through $18 billion in energy pork while nobody’s looking.

Never mind that the $18 billion is for unnecessary federal energy loan guarantees ($9 billion for nuclear power and $9 billion for renewables) or that the latest analysis suggests that more than a quarter of the applicants for these loans are likely to default on them. Nor does it seem to matter that just last month at House hearings, both the chairman and the ranking member voiced skepticism about making these loans until they had much more information.

Last week, Republican senator Thad Cochran urged Senators to resist amendments to the War Supplemental Bill that are unrelated to the military or disaster relief. After hearing about this and other deals, Republican senator Tom Coburn was blunter: “The emergency designation of this bill,” he argued, “is a farce designed to evade the budget rules that require Congress to pay for new spending.” You’d like to think that the House Appropriations Committee would block this one when it comes up for a vote later this week.

The nuclear industry, though, is eager for a bailout. Those keen for renewable energy subsidies are as well and succeeded in lobbying the White House and the House leadership to get them to cut a deal. And so a deal was cut.

One is tempted to say this is Washington business as usual except in this case, it’s more about subsidies for buddies than it is about making any money. Given how deep in debt our government is, it is hard to believe that this is what our troops in Afghanistan and Iraq are fighting for or what their commander in chief should be promoting in a bill for their relief. Tea-party activists, fiscal conservatives, voters, and just plain taxpayers, take note.
Obama pledged no more bailouts and pay as you go.  What a joke.  And attaching these special interest pork projects to a supplemental war-spending bill is beneath contempt.

I join Mr. Sokolski in his appeal:  taxpayers, VOTERS, take note.

Obama at the bat

It's not my practice to share YouTube videos that have gone viral, but this one is too good for you to miss:

Apologies to my dad and other fans of Ernest Thayer's "Casey at the Bat."

Private pay shrinks to lowest share of personal income in U.S. history

USA Today has published a sobering analysis of the crippling effects of out of control government spending on the private sector
Paychecks from private business shrank to their smallest share of personal income in U.S. history during the first quarter of this year, a USA TODAY analysis of government data finds.

At the same time, government-provided benefits — from Social Security, unemployment insurance, food stamps and other programs — rose to a record high during the first three months of 2010.

Those records reflect a long-term trend accelerated by the recession and the federal stimulus program to counteract the downturn. The result is a major shift in the source of personal income from private wages to government programs.

The trend is not sustainable, says University of Michigan economist Donald Grimes. Reason: The federal government depends on private wages to generate income taxes to pay for its ever-more-expensive programs. Government-generated income is taxed at lower rates or not at all, he says. "This is really important," Grimes says.
Read the whole thing and share it. Is is really important.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Tough questions for Sestak and Axelrod from CNN?

It would appear that the Joe Sestak White House job offer scandal is finally starting to heat up.  On Monday night, CNN's John King took the gloves off with the President's senior adviser, David Axelrod and Representative Sestak.

From Newsbusters:
On his CNN program on Monday, John King pressed both Obama senior advisor David Axelrod and Democratic Rep. Joe Sestak on the latter's allegation that he was offered a job by the White House in exchange for getting out of the Pennsylvania Senate primary against Arlen Specter. Even though King pushed for an answer, Axelrod denied any wrongdoing on the White House's part and Sestak refused to explain further [audio available here; video below the jump].

The CNN anchor raised the controversy with Sestak 16 minutes into the 7 pm Eastern hour. Though King was late in pressing Sestak on the issue, given the politician made the allegation against the Obama White House in February, he tried hard to get the Pennsylvania Democrat to divulge further information. The congressman went beyond filibustering, rephrasing his vague answer and even trying to change the subject:
Here are the relevant video clips:

Newsbusters has the transcript.

Frances Martel at Mediaite suspects that both Axelrod and Sestak were caught off guard by the tenor of King's questions:
The sum of the interviews was not exactly a Crossfire-style shout-fest, but on a program that can be a safe haven for middle-aged political married couples to sit around on couches, it was something of an anomaly, and one gets the sense from both Sestak and Axelrod that they were not expecting the type of journalistic bite they got out of King.
Although I must commend Mr. King on hard-hitting interviews here, CNN's website makes it clear where the network's sympaties lie (shock).  On CNN's video website, these two clips are labeled respectively, "Axelrod answers the Sestak question" and "Rep. Joe Sestak dodges WH job questions."  I wonder who is being set up to take the fall here.

But it will be interesting.  If the White House tries to impugn Admiral Sestak's truthfulness, it won't help the Democrats in what is shaping up to be a very tight race for the Pennsylvania senate seat being vacated by the defeated Arlen Specter.  If they push back hard enough, he is likely to sing like a canary.

Ed Morrissey shares his thoughts on the matter at HotAir.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Rasmussen: 63% of U.S. voters favor health care repeal

Today at Rasmussen Reports, you will discover that overall support for repeal of the recently passed health care reform law has reached new highs:
Support for repeal of the new national health care plan has jumped to its highest level ever. A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 63% of U.S. voters now favor repeal of the plan passed by congressional Democrats and signed into law by President Obama in March.

Prior to today, weekly polling had shown support for repeal ranging from 54% to 58%.

Currently, just 32% oppose repeal.

The new findings include 46% who Strongly Favor repeal of the health care bill and 25% who Strongly Oppose it.

While opposition to the bill has remained as consistent since its passage as it was beforehand, this marks the first time that support for repeal has climbed into the 60s. It will be interesting to see whether this marks a brief bounce or indicates a trend of growing opposition.

Thirty-three percent (33%) of voters now believe the health care plan will be good for the country, down six points from a week ago and the lowest level of confidence in the plan to date. Fifty-five percent (55%) say it will be bad for the nation. Only three percent (3%) think it will have no impact.
This is very bad news for the Democrats, but it will be little discussed by the mainstream media.  They are too busy covering the ineffective response of the Obama administration to the Gulf oil spill, and our failed foreign policy with China, Russia, Iran, North Korea and Israel.

Just kidding.

White House: We're on the case! Jindal: Help!

Today's press conference in Galiano, Louisiana with Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano, Governor Bobby Jindal and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar is a case study in contrasts.  Napolitano talked about the enormity of the federal government's response to what will likely become the worst oil spill in our nation's history.  Spin.  Salazar spoke glowingly of the President's response "from day one", gave shout outs to members of the Senate who had made the trip down from DC, and reiterated his "boot on the throat of BP" shtick.  More spin. Governor Jindal wasn't having any of it.  He decried the response of BP and the federal government as inadequate and expressed his frustration that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) had not responded to his emergency request to execute a $350 million sand dredging plan designed to create a barrier to protect Louisiana's coastal areas from the oil.

Jindal argued his position in earlier press conference on Sunday.  From Reuters:
"Silence on this plan is the equivalent of saying: 'we will just clean it (oil) out of the wetlands,'" he said, arguing that the dangers of inaction were far greater than possible risks of associated with construction.

"BP is responsible for paying for this but they should not have veto authority over the dredging plan or any of the other plans that are being proposed by the parish or by the state," he said.

State and local leaders want to dredge sand from the sea floor and erect up to 80 miles of levees, which reinforce, extend and in some cases join barrier islands to impede the progress of oil into the marshlands.

Experts on the coast including conservationists and academics have deep doubts about the plan, arguing it would take too long to implement and could alter the Mississippi River delta's balance between fresh and salt water (emphasis added).
Conservationists and academics (two of our President's core constituencies) certainly have a right to their opinions about Jindal's plan; but unlike the hardworking people of the Louisiana Gulf Coast, they are not deeply invested in its outcome because they don't actually produce anything.  And what possible difference will "the balance between fresh and salt water" have if all of it is so contaminated by oil that it will support neither fresh nor saltwater life forms for the forseeable future?

Some video of today's press conference.  Napolitano and Jindal in the first part.  Salazar and Senator Dick Durbin in part 2.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal won't wait for federal action

As President Obama's Interior chief lashes out at BP, yet another state has decided not to wait on the federal government to do its job.  Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal has decided to move ahead with plans to create sand barriers to protect his state's fragile coastline from the expansive oil slick that is breaching its borders:

With oil pushing at least 12 miles into Louisiana’s marshes and two major pelican rookeries now coated in crude, Gov. Bobby Jindal says the state is working on chain of sand berms that would skirt the state’s coastline.
Jindal visited one of the affected nesting grounds Sunday. Jindal and officials from several coastal parishes say the berms would close the door on the oil still pouring from a deepwater gusher about 50 miles off the Louisiana coast.

The berms would be made with sandbags. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers also is considering a broader plan that would use dredging to build sand berms across more of the barrier islands.
Plans to build coastal protective barriers from dredged sand are stalled, awaiting an environmental impact study and approval by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Representatives of that agency say it will take several more days to render its decision.  State and local leaders in the Gulf coastal states are not prepared to wait that long.  They know that the economic survival of these coastal communities has reached a tipping point.

Please pray for Governors Bobby Jindal, Haley Barbour, Bob Riley and Charlie Crist as they endeavor to protect their citizens and the natural resources of their beautiful states from this horrific disaster.

Wall Street Journal: Richard Blumenthal a liar and a bully

The Wall Street Journal delivered another substantive blow to embattled Connecticut Senate candidate and State Attorney General Richard Blumenthal on Saturday:
The attorney general has also used the power of the state to bully small businesses. In 2003, he sued Computers Plus Center for $1.75 million in damages for allegedly selling state government machines without specified parts. Mr. Blumenthal issued a press release accusing the business owner, Gina Malapanis, of fraud: "No supplier should be permitted to shortchange or overcharge the State without severe consequences," he said. "We will vigorously pursue this case to recover taxpayer money and send a strong message about zero tolerance for contractor misconduct." Ms. Malapanis was even arrested in her home on seven first-degree larceny charges.

In 2008 the charges against Ms. Malapanis were dismissed. As for the civil case, she refused to plead guilty and countersued the state for abusing its power and violating her constitutional rights. The jury, recoiling at the overly aggressive action that ruined her business, awarded her a whopping $18 million in January. In a handwritten note on court documents, the jury foreman said the state had engaged in a "pattern of conduct" that harmed Ms. Malapanis's reputation, and cited the state's press releases impugning her integrity, some of which came from Mr. Blumenthal. Mr. Blumenthal is appealing the decision.

An eminent domain case involving a working quarry taken in 2004 to expand a highway in the town of Brookfield ended up in court. The quarry owners, who were originally paid about $4 million for the property, felt cheated by the state. They sued, and Mr. Blumenthal defended the state's action, bringing in new appraisers who also low-balled the property's value. Judge Barbara Sheedy concluded the state had been "unprofessional" and "less than scrupulous" in its handling of the case, having hand-picked unqualified appraisers for the purpose of deliberately underestimating the quarry's value. The owners were awarded another $28 million, including interest payments.

This spring, the exasperated CFO of Hartford-based United Technologies Corp. blurted out that doing business "anyplace outside of Connecticut is low-cost." The company was frustrated in part by a union lawsuit—supported by Mr. Blumenthal—challenging the company's plan to close a local factory as part of the firm's response to the recession. UTC—with $53 billion in revenue last year and 26,000 employees in Connecticut—is the state's largest private employer. It's exactly the sort of company other states would love to host.

So it's no wonder Connecticut's business community quietly greeted Mr. Blumenthal's candidacy for federal office with relief: Anything to get him out of state.
It would appear that Blumenthal's false accounts of serving in Vietnam are just the tip of the rancid iceberg.

White House stays mum on Sestak (failed) job offer

Today on CBS's Face the Nation, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs continued to stonewall moderator Bob Schieffer on allegations that an administration official offered Democratic Rep. Joe Sestak a job if he didn't run against incumbent Pennsylvania Senator Arlen Specter, in possible violation of federal law.
BOB SCHIEFFER: One final question. Joe Sestak who beat Arlen Specter and the White
House, of course, was-- was backing Arlen Specter in the Pennsylvania primary up there. All these reports that the White House offered him some sort of job, some sort of post in the administration, if he wouldn’t run, would you tell us what-- what post he was offered?

ROBERT GIBBS: Well, Bob, I-- I’m not a lawyer. But lawyers in the White House and others have looked into conversations that were had with Congressman Sestak. And noting-- nothing inappropriate happened. I-- I think Republicans are continuing to dredge this up because if you look just a couple of days after this primary, the polling shows that Republicans are already behind in a very important Senate race.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Improper or not, did you offer him a job in the administration?

ROBERT GIBBS: I-- I-- I’m not going to get--

BOB SCHIEFFER (overlapping): Okay.

ROBERT GIBBS: --further into what the conversations were. People that have looked into them assure me that they weren’t inappropriate in any way.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Robert Gibbs, thank you very much for being with us.
All righty, then.  Fantastically, on the very same program, Representative Joe Sestak stuck by his story that he was, in fact, offered a job by an administration official in return for skipping the Pennsylvania Senate Race.
BOB SCHIEFFER: Back now with one of Tuesday’s big primary winners, Pennsylvania Congressman Joe Sestak, who took on the establishment, the Democratic establishment in Pennsylvania, and took on the White House and beat Arlen Specter, who had switched from the Republican Party

Let me just ask you first about what I was asking Robert Gibbs about this idea: did the White House offer you a position in the administration if you would not run

REPRESENTATIVE JOE SESTAK (D-Pennsylvania/PA Democratic Senate Candidate): Yeah.  I-- I was asked that question months after it happened. And I felt an obligation to answer it honestly. I said, yes. But, Bob--

BOB SCHIEFFER (overlapping): Can you tell us what job--

REPRESENTATIVE JOE SESTAK: No, no, Bob, I-- and I said at the time, anything beyond that just gets into politics. And actually, that’s what I think is failing Washington, DC. Principle doesn’t seem to triumph over politics. Well, people come here, and be willing to lose their job over doing what they said they would do. And so, I just stay focused on what I had issued out there, which was a plan for Pennsylvania working families from retirement security to educational opportunities for their children and small business opportunities. That’s what I just keep on talking about.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Well, let’s-- let’s talk about the race that you had with Arnold-- with Arlen Specter. The White House was for Specter, they obviously wanted you not in the race. But you took them on. Now will you ask for Barack Obama’s help?

REPRESENTATIVE JOE SESTAK: Well, I-- I have to tell you, President was the very first one who called me, and I welcome his support. And I have to also tell you Arlen Specter, when he called me set a standard for graciousness. Telling me, "Joe, congratulations, I’m going to support you."
The fact that Navy Vice Admiral Joseph A. Sestak, Jr., hasn't wavered from the story that he was offered a high-ranking job in the administration to abandon his run against Specter would be an amazing tribute to his integrity if he told the rest of the story.  The fact that he characterizes the whole episode as just politics, when it was likely a violation of federal law, and after the White House basically called him a liar, suggests that he is just another politician choosing his words carefully so as not to jeopardize his own political career.  Sounds identical to Arlen Specter, if you ask me.

To paraphrase my high school basketball coach when excoriating a player for a lack of effort, Face the Nation's Bob Schieffer was "just happy to be there!"

Representative-elect Charles Djou: Mahalo, Hawaii!

Republican Charles Djou won the special election to fill the seat of retired Democrat Neil Abercrombie in Hawaii's First Congressional District.  Abercrombie stepped down to run for governor.  Due to Hawaii's rules for special elections and an intraparty squabble, Djou won a three-way contest in which Democratic votes were split between two candidates.  In November, the rules will be different and Djou knows it.  From The Christian Science Monitor:

But the Republicans will likely be careful not to tout the victory too loudly. Mr. Djou won with less than 40 percent of the vote, with two Democratic challengers taking 58 percent.

The rules change for the November election, and only one Democrat will be able to challenge Djou for the seat. Without two Democrats to split the vote between them, Djou knows that the math is against him.

"The voters gave us a short-term lease with an option to buy in November," Djou said, according to the Honolulu Advertiser.
Djou will be the first Republican elected to Congress in Hawaii in twenty years, and only the third since Hawaii become a state in 1959.  In case you linguists out there are wondering about his French sounding name, here's the explanation from his website:
People often ask from where Charles' last name, Djou, comes. Charles' father was born in Shanghai, China, and raised in Hong Kong. His mother was raised in Bangkok, Thailand. Charles was raised here in Hawaii. Yet, he has this odd, French-sounding, last name.

It started in the 1920's. Charles' grandfather worked for a French engineering firm in Shanghai. His grandfather's French boss, who spoke only French and Chinese, gave him the French name "Dijou" which roughly sounds like Charles' family's Chinese name, "Zhou." In 1948, during the communist revolution in China, Charles' grandfather fled to Hong Kong, which was then a British colony. Upon his arrival, the British asked Charles' grandfather to fill out immigration papers. Rather than write down his Chinese character, Charles' grandfather wrote down "Djou" - not knowing that this was actually French or that it was misspelled. Charles' father took this name to the United States, Charles was born with it and now you have a local Chinese guy with a French sounding last name.
Representative-elect Djou will have his work cut out for him between now and November.  Here's hoping he's up to the challenge.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Flashback: AZ Gov. Janet Napolitano scolds Bush administration on border security

Greta Van Susteren exposed some interesting correspondence of former Arizona governor, now Director of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano, on her Fox News On the Record  blog Friday:
Here is an excerpt from a 2008 letter then Gov of Arizona Janet Napolitano (now Secretary of Homeland Security) to then Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff:

Date: March 11, 2008

"[r]eal solutions to fix our broken borders cannot wait that long. Human and drug smuggling rings continue to thrive in Arizona, crossing our border and using our cities as major hubs to transport crosser throughout the country. While we wait for real progress on the "virtual fence," border communities in Arizona will continue to be strained by the millions of dollars in costs they must absorb due to the state of border security."

Yours very truly,
Janet Napolitano

In reading the above letter, would you not think DHS Napolitano would be Arizona's biggest champion in Washington? Would you not think she, of all people, would understand the frustration in Arizona? Don't you think she would be pushing her boss, President Obama, to help Arizona? and get President Obama to push Congress to help this state? Instead DHS Napolitano had to recently embarrassingly admit that she did not read the Arizona illegal immigration law.

And before you get all whooped up about whether the Arizona statute is constitutional or not, that is not the issue. The statute is a cry for help and the current fight over it a distraction. The issue is the FAILURE of the federal government to help the STATE of ARIZONA. The statue, while probably unconstitutional for trying to set immigration policy in contravention of our Constitution, is a cry for help -- one that has been utterly ignore.
So a short two years before she was criticizing current Arizona Governor Jan Brewer for whining about the illegal immigration problem, as Arizona Governor, she was complaining about it herself. 

Stealth IRS changes mean millions of new tax forms

The health care reform law that just keeps giving.  CNN Money freelance reporter, Neil deMause has called attention to a little known provision of the new health care law which vastly expands IRS reporting requirements for businesses large and small:
The 1099 changes attached to the health care reform bill are another kettle of fish. These massively expand the requirements for filing the "1099-Misc" form, which companies use for recording payments to freelance workers and other individual service providers. Until now, payments to corporations have been exempt from 1099 rules, as have payments for the purchase of goods.

Starting in 2012, that changes. All business payments or purchases that exceed $600 in a calendar year will need to be accompanied by a 1099 filing. That means obtaining the taxpayer ID number of the individual or corporation you're making the payment to -- even if it's a giant retailer like Staples or Best Buy -- at the time of the transaction, or else facing IRS penalties.

In essence, the 1099-Misc is having its role changed from a form for tracking off-payroll employment to one that must accompany virtually any sizeable business transaction.

"Just with business travel it would include hotels, rental cars," Henschke says. "Phone service: 1099. Computer service: 1099. Whoever does your postage meter: 1099. You do a little advertising, Yellow Pages: 1099. Your landlord: 1099. You might as well just keep them in your pocket and hand them out as you go around every day."
Thomson Reuters has already scheduled seminars to help information reporting professionals deal with the changes which begin in 2012:
Now that health care reform has been signed into law and corporate exceptions have ended, Form 1099-MISC reporting will become even more of a burden to businesses. “With these changes, it’s more critical than ever that information reporting professionals are well versed in the multiple facets of Form 1099-MISC to reduce risk of audits and penalties,” said Jon Buschman, vice president of ONESOURCE 1099 at Thomson Reuters. “To help information reporting professionals understand and prepare for these changes, we’re excited to offer a timely and informative seminar, Changes and Expansion of Form 1099-MISC Reporting.”
Just what small businesses need in the worst economic environment since the depression.  A requirement that they track and issue millions of new 1099-MISC forms.  Another unfunded mandate for main street.

In case you're wondering why this isn't being widely reported (aside from the usual "cover for Obama at all costs" mission of the MSM), here's the reason.  It's almost impossible to find.  Just as you won't find the words "Fannie Mae" or "Freddie Mac" in the newly passsed Senate financial reform bill, neither will you find the term "1099" in the health care bill.  But I did find the relevant passage on page 1,961 of the Senate bill in Section 9006:
9 PROCEEDS.—Subsection (a) of section 6041 of the Internal

10 Revenue Code of 1986 is amended—

11 (1) by inserting ‘‘amounts in consideration for

12 property,’’ after ‘‘wages,’’,

13 (2) by inserting ‘‘gross proceeds,’’ after ‘‘emolu-

14 ments, or other’’, and

15 (3) by inserting ‘‘gross proceeds,’’ after ‘‘setting

16 forth the amount of such’’.

17 (c) EFFECTIVE DATE.—The amendments made by this

18 section shall apply to payments made after December 31,

19 2011.
Got that?

The ostensible goal of these new, sweeping reporting mandates is to catch income that is going unreported to the IRS.  In reality it gives the government an even bigger spyglass to snoop into the detailed workings of private business. The government will be able to track virtually everything a business purchases, how much and from whom (General Motors comes to mind).

What could possibly go wrong?

NJ governor vetoes millionaire's tax

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie apparently learned the lessons of history and didn't waste any time vetoing the millionaire's tax that had just cleared the State Senate.  From The Star-Ledger:
It took about two minutes from the time Senate President Steve Sweeney certified the passage of the millionaires tax package for Gov. Chris Christie to veto the bills at his desk.

"While I have little doubt that the sponsors and supporters of this bill sincerely believe that the state can tax its way out of this financial crisis, I believe that this bill does nothing more than repeat the failed, irresponsible and unsustainable fiscal policies of the past," wrote Christie in his veto statement. "Now is not the time for more of the same. Ultimately, another tax increase will punish the state’s struggling small businesses and set our economy further back from recovery

After the state Senate passed the bill, which had already passed the Assembly, Sweeney walked the bills down the hallways of the Statehouse, from the state Senate chambers to the governor's office. Once inside, he handed the bills to Christie, who was waiting.

"What took you so long ?" asked Christie spokesman Michael Drewniak.

Christie sat at a wooden desk emblazoned with the seal of the state of New Jersey and swiftly signed vetoes.

"We'll be back, governor," said Sweeney.

"Alright, we'll see," said Christie.

Democrats would need two-thirds majority in both houses of the Legislature to override the veto.

"This is something we're not going away on," said Sweeney. "This isn't theater, this isn't a gimmick."
Mr. Sweeney, that's exactly what it isThe Wall Street Journal gets to the crux of the matter:

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie may have set a record for the speediest veto in American history on Thursday when he rejected an income tax surcharge passed by the Democratic legislature two minutes after it arrived on his desk.

That bill would have resurrected former Governor Jon Corzine's "temporary" income tax surcharge on millionaires that expired at the start of this year. Democrats want to reinstate a top tax rate of 10.75%, up from an already high 8.98%. Mr. Christie stated what is obvious to every taxpayer in the Garden State not on the public payroll: "New Jersey does not have a tax problem; New Jersey has a spending and size of government problem."

Trenton gained virtually no additional revenue by raising the income tax rate in 2007. Imposing the third highest income tax in the U.S. (after Hawaii and Oregon) didn't prevent a $11 billion budget deficit.

Democrats nonetheless played the class warfare card, tying the increase to a reduction in drug co-payments by seniors. They argue that Mr. Christie is merely protecting a privileged few—16,000 New Jersey millionaires—from paying $637 million more in taxes to "share the pain" of balancing the state budget.

Share the pain? New Jersey is already dependent on a handful of rich tax filers to pay the state's bills. The richest 1% of filers in New Jersey pay a little under half, or 46%, of all state income taxes. Inviting those with the highest tax payments to pack up and leave for states that are less hostile to business and wealth will only send the state into a deeper fiscal ditch.

The real privileged few in New Jersey are government unions that have soaked taxpayers to finance their oversized pensions, health-care benefits and salaries. Democrats hope that by raising taxes on the rich they can inoculate their union allies from Mr. Christie's effort to reduce the advantages that government workers have over private workers. As one example, Mr. Christie notes that many state employees "pay nothing for their health benefits that cost, for family coverage, between $18,000 and $25,000 a year. No one in the private sector has that kind of deal."
Grover Norquist, President of Americans for Tax Reform praised Christie's veto:
“It was refreshing to see Gov. Christie veto this measure as swiftly and reflexively as Democrats look to higher taxes to solve all their problems,” said Grover Norquist, President of Americans for Tax Reform, “The governor understands the need for New Jersey to shed its image of fiscal incompetence and embrace pro-growth economic policies.”

In 2004, New Jersey increased in the top income tax rate, which applied to those earning over $500,000 per year. Between 2004 and 2008, the state saw a net decline in household wealth of $70 billion. Further raising taxes on high earners – and small businesses – would do little to reverse the outward migration New Jersey has seen over the past ten years.

“Between 1999 and 2008, New Jersey lost nearly 419,000 residents to other states,”added Norquist. “In a state hemorrhaging population to low-tax, pro-job jurisdictions, the legislature’s decision to further raise taxes is ludicrous. I commend Gov. Christie for promptly vetoing this job-killing tax increase and remaining committed to real, sustainable reforms in the Garden State.”

Dale Peterson for Alabama Agriculture Commissioner

This has to be my favorite campaign ad of the election season thus far (via Lucianne):

Could it be that Ronald Reagan conservatism is making a comeback?

Friday, May 21, 2010

SEIU crossed the line with a police escort

When the Montgomery County (MD) Police responded to 911 calls to the home of Bank of America exec Gary Baer Sunday, they discovered that D.C. Metropolitan Police officers were already there.  What?  From Big Journalism:
The family of Greg Baer, Bank of America executive, is located in a jurisdiction protected by the Montgomery County Police Department (MCPD), which responded promptly to a disturbance call from his neighborhood last weekend.

According to Corporal Dan Friz, an MCPD spokesperson in Rockville, Maryland, the department received a disturbance call from one of Baer’s neighbors at 4:10 pm last Sunday. Four MCPD units arrived at Baer’s Greenville Rd. address at 4:15 pm. At least two Metropolitan Police Department units from the nearby District of Columbia were already at the scene when they arrived.

Why? Because police cars attached to the Washington MPD’s Civil Disturbance Unit had escorted the SEIU protesters’ buses to Baer’s home. Such cross-jurisdictional escort activity is not uncommon for both departments according to Friz and Metro Police Department spokesperson Officer Eric Frost. Still, the District police did not inform their colleagues of what was about to happen in one of their Maryland neighborhoods.
Like birds of a feather, I guess D.C. unions stick together.

John Fund has an interesting comparison of media scrutiny of the Tea Parties and Unions at The Wall Street Journal.

Obama: Missile defense for Iran, but not for our allies

In a desperate attempt to get something approved by the U.N. Security Council on Iranian nuclear proliferation, the Obama administration has agreed to a loophole that former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton says is "big enough to drive a truck through:"
The Obama administration on Friday lifted sanctions against four Russian entities involved in illicit weapons trade with Iran and Syria since 1999, and acknowledged exempting a Russian-Iranian missile deal from a U.N. draft resolution banning most missile sales to Iran.

The move comes just three days after the U.S., Russia and other key powers reached agreement on a draft resolution sanctioning Iran for violating U.N. demands to halt its uranium enrichment program. The draft includes a loophole that would exempt a 2005 Russian deal, valued at hundreds of millions of dollars, to sell Tehran five S-300 surface-to-air missile systems.

The removal of the four entities, which was recorded in Friday's Federal Register, suggested that the United States engaged in some last-minute bargaining to ensure Moscow's support for sanctions. The companies include Russia's state arms exporter, Rosoboronexport, which was sanctioned for its dealing with Iran in 2006 and 2008, and Moscow Aviation Institute, one of three entities sanctioned in 1999 for aiding Iran's development of ballistic missiles and nuclear weapons.
It's official.  The Russians say "jump" and the Obama administration asks, "how high?"  Quite a reset, I'd say.

Gone are the days when President Ronald Reagan stood at the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin and implored Mr. Gorbachev to "Tear down this wall!"  Now we find ourselves in an era in which the President of the United States reneges on our government's commitment to provide missile defense to our allies in Eastern Europe (Poland and the Czech Republic) at the behest of the Russians.  Then, less than a year later, we agree to a U.N. resolution which expressly permits the Russians to deliver surface-air-missile systems to Iran.  You know, the S-300's that will be positioned to neutralize any Israeli or U.S. (just kidding) attack on Iran's nuclear facilities.

It's understandable that the "U.S official" who issued this statement today in defense of the U.N. agreement prefers to remain anomymous:
"It's worth mentioning that Russia has not transferred the S-300s," the official said. "That's not to say they couldn't do it tomorrow. But they haven't done it."

Obama's ICU: Immigration and Customs Unenforcement

Unbelievable.  From Fox News:
A top Department of Homeland Security official reportedly said his agency will not necessarily process illegal immigrants referred to them by Arizona authorities.

John Morton, assistant secretary of homeland security for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, made the comment during a meeting on Wednesday with the editorial board of the Chicago Tribune, the newspaper reports.

"I don't think the Arizona law, or laws like it, are the solution," Morton told the newspaper.

The best way to reduce illegal immigration is through a comprehensive federal approach, he said, and not a patchwork of state laws.

The law, which criminalizes being in the state illegally and requires authorities to check suspects for immigration status, is not "good government," Morton said.

In response to Morton's comments, DHS officials said President Obama has ordered the Department of Justice to examine the civil rights and other implications of the law.

"That review will inform the government's actions going forward," DHS spokesman Matt Chandler told Fox News on Friday.

Meanwhile, DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano said ICE is not obligated to process illegal immigrants referred to them by Arizona authorities.

"ICE has the legal discretion to accept or not to accept persons delivered to it by non-federal personnel," Napolitano said. "It also has the discretion to deport or not to deport persons delivered to it by any government agents, even its own."
Janet Napolitano, Morton's boss, made it clear that she's not interested in enforcing our immigration laws when she investigated her own ICE inspectors who in 2009 had the audacity to raid a small engine plant in Bellingham, Washington, and arrest 28 illegal immigrants working there.  (She also freed 27 of the illegals and promptly gave them employment authorization documents) for their trouble.  Now John Morton, the Director of ICE threatens not to process illegal immigrants referred by the state of Arizona?

This is clearly a case of capricious government by fiat.  Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions thinks the Obama administration is "nullifying existing law:"
Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-AL, said it appeared the Obama administration is "nullifying existing law" and suggested Morton may not be the right person for his post if he fails to enforce federal immigration law.

"If he feels he cannot enforce the law, he shouldn't have the job," Sessions told Fox News. "That makes him, in my view, not fulfilling the responsibilities of his office."

Sessions said the U.S. government has "systematically failed" to enforce federal immigration law and claimed Morton's statement is an indication that federal officials do not plan on working with Arizona authorities regarding its controversial law.

"They're telegraphing to every ICE agency in America that they really don't intend on cooperating with Arizona," Sessions said. "The federal government should step up and do it. It's their responsibility."
It's no coincidence that John Morton first cut his immigation law teeth as Counsel to Clinton's Deputy Attorney General Eric Holder, another Obama appointee who won't do his job.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

AR-3: A safe Republican seat is a terrible thing to waste on a RINO!

One of my all-time favorite bloggers, Paul Mirengoff at Powerline has used his considerable cyber-heft to endorse Cecile Bledsoe in the runoff for the GOP Congressional nomination in Arkansas' third district:
Flying way under the Arkansas radar screen last night was the Republican primary in the Third Congressional District. That's the seat held by John Boozman, who is now the Republican nominee for the Senate.

The Third District covers Northwest Arkansas. Repubilcans have held it since January 1967. Even Bill Clinton couldn't win the seat when he sought it in 1974, a great year for Democrats.

Yesterday, John Womack got the most votes in the Republican primary, about 31 percent. However, I'm supporting his opponent in the run-off, Cecile Bledsoe, who captured about 13 percent. And I'll be contributing money to her campaign, which can be accomplished at her campaign website.

There are several problems with Womack, most of which are related to the fact that he is something of a RINO. First, he supported Democrat Mike Beebe for governor in 2006. Second, he refused to sign the ATR No Tax Pledge until Dick Morris publicly shamed him at a Tax Day Tea Party rally. According to accounts, Womack then rushed to sign by the evening news and insisted that he had planned to sign all along.

Third, Womack has some goofy ideas. For example, he proposes to use federal money to build gyms for senior citizens all across the country (as a senior citizen myself, I say thanks but no thanks). It appears that Womack is also open to Medicare tax increases, opposes NAFTA, and has been squishy on repeal of ObamaCare.

Cecile Bledsoe is everything Womack is not. As a state legislator, her steadfast opposition to tax increases caused then-governor Mike Huckabee to call her, among others, a "Shiite." That's probably as good of an endorsement as there is. However, she has also been endorsed by Asa Hutchinson, the conservative who represented the Third District for a while, and by the Susan B. Anthony List (that's the group to which Sarah Palin delivered her "mama grizzlies" speech last week).

Bledsoe is also strongly pro-Israel. She has expressed her across-the-board support in an emphatic position paper called "Eternal Allies: The United States and Israel."

The big question is, can Bledsoe win the primary (if so, there's no real doubt that she will be elected to Congress). After all, Womack outpolled her by more than 2-1 yesterday.

I believe that Womack may well be vulnerable, however. His margin last night probably was based mainly on the name recognition acquired by having served as a mayor in the district for 12 years. Despite his advantages, he wasn't able to garner even a third of the vote.

Bledsoe spent very little on her campaign. Her goal was to make it to the run-off and then raise the money necessary to saturate the district with mail, and do some television. Her campaign thinks it can accomplish this with about $100,000.

Womack will be the favorite, I assume, even if Bledsoe raises this amount of money, but at least she will then have a decent shot. It's worthwhile, I think, to try to keep such a safe Republican seat out of the hands of a RINO.
Disclosure:   Ms. Bledsoe is the sister-in-law of my long-time friend and former engineering instructor at Mississippi State University. She has been a lifelong advocate for conservative values in Arkansas as a community activist and a state legislator. Her endorsement by Mr. Mirengoff is a fitting tribute to her service.

You can learn more about  Ms. Bledsoe's campaign and make a contribution here.

SEIU thugs storm private residence of Bank of America exec

Last Sunday the Service Employees International Union doubled down on its largely ignored thuggery when it dispatched fourteen buses of protesters to the private home of a Bank of America executive in Washington D.C.  Fox News Contributor and Washington Bureau Chief for Fortune Magazine, Nina Easton, witnessed the whole spectacle from her home across the street:
Every journalist loves a peaceful protest-whether it makes news, shakes up a political season, or holds out the possibility of altering history. Then there are the ones that show up on your curb--literally.

Last Sunday, on a peaceful, sun-crisp afternoon, our toddler finally napping upstairs, my front yard exploded with 500 screaming, placard-waving strangers on a mission to intimidate my neighbor, Greg Baer. Baer is deputy general counsel for corporate law at Bank of America (BAC, Fortune 500), a senior executive based in Washington, D.C. And that -- in the minds of the organizers at the politically influential Service Employees International Union and a Chicago outfit called National Political Action -- makes his family fair game.

Waving signs denouncing bank "greed," hordes of invaders poured out of 14 school buses, up Baer's steps, and onto his front porch. As bullhorns rattled with stories of debtor calls and foreclosed homes, Baer's teenage son Jack -- alone in the house -- locked himself in the bathroom. "When are they going to leave?" Jack pleaded when I called to check on him.
The police were called, but refused to arrest anyone for fear of further inciting the mob. Terrific.

Read the whole thing.

Liberty Chick provides entertaining coverage of SEIU's indignant and sophomoric response to Ms. Easton's reporting at Big Government.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Obama joins Mexican President Calderon in condemning Arizona immigration law

I am still seething from the news that our Assistant Secretary of State apologized to the murderous, repressive, sexist, Communist Chinese government for Arizona's new immigration law.  Now this:
Mexican President Felipe Caldern [sic]on Wednesday criticized Arizona's tough new immigration law as "discriminatory," a rebuke of a domestic policy rare for a foreign leader to deliver on U.S. soil.

Calderón's criticism was echoed by President Obama during a joint Rose Garden news conference held hours before Calderón was honored at a state dinner.

Arizona's law "has the potential of being applied in a discriminatory fashion," Obama said. "The judgments that are going to be made in applying this law are troublesome."

The law requires police to question people about immigration status if there is a "reasonable suspicion" they are in the country illegally. Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer, a Republican, said the law was needed because the federal government has failed to address the "crisis caused by illegal immigration."

The law has sparked protests in Mexico and the U.S., and both presidents previously have expressed concern about it. But University of Minnesota political scientist Lawrence Jacobs called it "almost unheard of" for a foreign leader to criticize a state law while visiting the U.S. "The common practice and courtesy is not to interfere in another country's internal affairs," he said.

Obama didn't seem put off. He hailed Calderón as a "true partner" on issues from the war against drugs to creating jobs on both sides of the U.S.-Mexican border.

Calderón thanked Obama for his hospitality and conveyed the "respectful and affectionate greeting" of his people to the United States.
The president of Mexico has no standing to criticize the United States on its treatment of immigrants in Arizona or anywhere else.  Some tidbits from the State Department website on Mexico specific travel (all emphasis mine):
Tourist Travel: U.S. citizens do not require a visa or a tourist card for tourist stays of 72 hours or less within "the border zone," defined as an area between 20 to 30 kilometers of the border with the U.S., depending on the location. U.S. citizens traveling as tourists beyond the border zone or entering Mexico by air must pay a fee to obtain a tourist card, also known as an FM-T, available from Mexican consulates, Mexican border crossing points, Mexican tourism offices, airports within the border zone and most airlines serving Mexico. The fee for the tourist card is generally included in the price of a plane ticket for travelers arriving by air. Please note that travelers not in possession of their FM-T card at the point of exit from Mexico may face a fine from Mexican Immigration (INM).

Business Travel: Upon arrival in Mexico, business travelers must complete and submit a form (Form FM-N) authorizing the conduct of business, but not employment, for a 30-day period. Travelers entering Mexico for purposes other than tourism or business or for stays of longer than 180 days require a visa and must carry a valid U.S. passport. U.S. citizens planning to work or live in Mexico should apply for the appropriate Mexican visa at the Mexican Embassy in Washington, DC, or at the nearest Mexican consulate in the United States.

Vehicle Permits: Tourists wishing to travel beyond the border zone with their vehicle must obtain a temporary import permit or risk having their vehicle confiscated by Mexican customs officials. At present the only exceptions to the requirement are for travel in the Baja Peninsula and in the state of Sonora, and only for vehicles entering through the Nogales port of entry. To acquire a permit, one must submit evidence of citizenship, title for the vehicle, a vehicle registration certificate, a driver's license, and a processing fee to either a Banjercito (Mexican Army Bank) branch located at a Mexican Customs (Aduanas) office at the port of entry, or at one of the Mexican consulates located in the U.S. Mexican law also requires the posting of a bond at a Banjercito office to guarantee the export of the car from Mexico within a time period determined at the time of the application. For this purpose, American Express, Visa or MasterCard credit card holders will be asked to provide credit card information; others will need to make a cash deposit of between $200 and $400, depending on the make/model/year of the vehicle. In order to recover this bond or avoid credit card charges, travelers must go to any Mexican Customs office immediately prior to departing Mexico. Regardless of any official or unofficial advice to the contrary, vehicle permits cannot be obtained at checkpoints in the interior of Mexico.
Travelers should avoid individuals who wait outside vehicle permit offices and offer to obtain the permits without waiting in line, even if they appear to be government officials. There have been reports of fraudulent or counterfeit permits being issued adjacent to the vehicle import permit office in Nuevo Laredo and other border areas. If the proper permit is not obtained before entering Mexico and cannot be obtained at the Banjercito branch at the port of entry, do not proceed to the interior. Travelers without the proper permit may be incarcerated, fined and/or have their vehicle seized at immigration/customs checkpoints.
Harassment/Extortion: In some instances, Americans have become victims of harassment, mistreatment and extortion by Mexican law enforcement and other officials. Mexican authorities have cooperated in investigating such cases, but one must have the officer's name, badge number, and patrol car number to pursue a complaint effectively. Please note this information if you ever have a problem with police or other officials.
Mexico actually enforces its borders.  How outrageous!

The Obama administration continues to abase our country in his quest for social justice and world order.  I guess he'll be calling Fidel Castro, Hugo Chavez, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Kim Jong-il next week to make amends for the wayward Grand Canyon State.

VFW to Blumenthal: You diminish the service of all who served and sacrificed

Yesterday, Connecticut Attorney General, Richard Blumenthal held a shameful press conference at a VFW post in West Hartford to defend himself against The New York Times claim that he lied about serving in Vietnam.  The Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States are not impressed:
VFW’s Response to Blumenthal’s Press Conference

KANSAS CITY, Mo., May 18, 2010 - Mr. Blumenthal is not a member of the VFW and VFW National By-Laws do not allow any level of the organization to endorse political candidates.

VFW national did not sanction and was not, in fact, aware that the press conference was going to be held at a VFW Post. This decision was made at the Post level and the VFW Department of Connecticut issued the following:

The following statement is by Richard DiFederico, Department Commander Connecticut VFW:

“Those who served in Vietnam or offshore or in neighboring countries rightfully earned all the belated thanks and appreciation our nation can muster. Those who served in uniform during the Vietnam era also deserve our gratitude, which makes Mr. Blumenthal's claim to be something he is not so outrageous. It diminishes the service of all who served and sacrificed, most especially those whose names are inscribed on the Vietnam Wall. Mr. Blumenthal was considered one of the best friends a veteran could have in Connecticut. It is a true shame that he let a false claim of Vietnam service change that.”

VFW National Commander Thomas J. Tradewell Sr., endorses this statement. In sum, the fact that this event was held at a VFW location cannot, in any manner, be construed as a formal endorsement of the candidate.
Howie Carr at The Boston Herald has penned a must read opinion piece on the subject:
This Dick Blumenthal even looks a little like Eliot Spitzer.

And now it turns out, as somebody said yesterday, even Jane Fonda spent more time in Vietnam than he did.

Another congenital liar out of Harvard. Whatever happened to “Veritas?”

We’re talking about Connecticut Atty. Gen. Dick Blumenthal - you can call him “General.” Yeah, it was tough in ‘Nam, as a matter of fact I’ll bet Vietnam is “seared” in his memory, to coin a phrase from the 2004 presidential campaign.

Gen. Blumenthal didn’t just go to Harvard, he went to Yale Law School, alma mater of Hillary “Blood and Guts” Clinton, who herself was once pinned down on the tarmac by sniper fire in Tuzla, Bosnia. Or so she said. [snip]

God bless the New York Times [NYT] for knee-capping this fool. It’s quite surprising that they’d take down one of their own, but now that we know that the story was dumped in their lap by Mrs. Vince McMahon, a GOP Senate candidate, it makes more sense.

“I served during the Vietnam war,” he claimed. “I remember the taunts, the insults, sometimes even physical abuse.”

You sure that didn’t happen at the 29-29 Harvard game in ’68? Yesterday, by the way, it wasn’t the “Vietnam war,” it was the “Vietnam era.”

Remember how John Kerry talked about tracking a “24-point buck” on Cape Cod, and running in the Boston Marathon, but not being able to remember the year? Now it turns out Blumenthal was the captain of the swim team at Harvard, except he wasn’t. Oh what a tangled web we weave....

But Gen. Blumenthal will survive. Within weeks, he’ll be claiming he was “swift-boated.” To paraphrase another Yalie, being a Democrat means never having to say you’re sorry.
Gregory D. Lee at The North Star National pokes another big hole in Blumenthal's story:
In the 1960s and 1970s, draft boards heard every conceivable excuse to not be inducted. Most were legitimate but some were fantasies. Mr. Blumenthal said at his news conference he didn’t know when he received his deferments, implying it didn’t matter to him. I’m here to tell you that those who chose the deferment route, e.g. John Kerry, Bill Clinton, et al, knew exactly what their deferment status was so they could immediately file another one when the first one expired. Knowing your status was more important than your grades, girlfriends, car you drove or anything else in the life of a young man facing certain combat duty in Vietnam.
Yesterday I heard a political consultant on Fox News (sorry I can't remember who it was) handicap Blumenthal's election chances in the aftermath of the Times story.  To paraphrase his remarks:  Five years ago, he would be toast.  But today, I have seen so many politicians survive so many scandals, that I'm never surprised by anything.

I fear he is correct.