Wednesday, July 24, 2013

I'm not hard to find, but Facebook questions whether I am even real

I am reviving this blog, after a long absence. You may find the reason as peculiar as I do. It's because my existence is suddenly in doubt. For several months, I have been using my Facebook page to blog, posting snippets from the best anti-liberal publications on the internet. Townhall was my most popular resource. I was, and remain, a fierce critic of the Obama administration, which seems determined to snuff out the grand scheme of America's founders and replace it with a very different scheme that would allow Obama and his henchmen to regulate every facet of American life. The Obamacare disaster is an example. "Medicine," observed Vladimir Lenin, "is the keystone of the socialist arch." Lenin went on to inspire the creation of the Soviet Union, which seems to be an exemplar of what Obama has in mind for America. While blogging at Facebook, I became more and more impressed by the many online publications that are practicing journalism impressively. I had more than enough material to reprint dozens of snippets daily. My goal was to alert readers to what I considered the best material each day. Every entry included a link to the original story. To my astonishment, my blog vanished from Facebook a couple of weeks ago. When I asked why, a Facebook spokesman said, "We're not sure you're real." My family history is online. Some of my writings from a 36-year career in journalism are online. I was a student at St. Olaf College, and graduated from the University of Minnesota and Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, which could easily be checked. They weren't checked. Instead, Facebook told me that I would receive a text message on my telephone, and that my reply would determine whether or not I am real. But my telephone, so far as I know, is not equipped to receive text messages. In any case, no text message arrived. So, I quietly accepted my lack of reality and said goodby to Facebook. The irony is that, despite Facebook's obvious love of Obama, it's admiration doesn't seem to be doing him much good. Obama's approval rating has dropped to 41 percent, making it more and more likely that Obamacare will be repealed and the rest of Obama's government takeover of American life blocked. When that happens, Facebook may have to look for a different beacon to follow.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Hack a ballot for $26

Campaigning for the 2012 presidential race has already begun, but what the candidates don't know is that come election day, hackers could be the ones whose votes have the biggest impact.

Researchers from the Argonne National Laboratory in Illinois have developed a hack that, for about $26 and an 8th-grade science education, can remotely manipulate the electronic voting machines used by millions of voters all across the U.S.

The researchers, Salon reported, performed their proof-of-concept hack on a Diebold Accuvote TS electronic voting machine, a type of touchscreen Direct Recording Electronic (DRE) voting system that is widely used for government elections.

(Diebold's voting-machine business is now owned by the Denver-based Dominion Voting Systems, whose e-voting machines are used in about 22 states.)

In a video, Roger Johnston and Jon Warner from Argonne National Laboratory's Vulnerability Assessment Team demonstrate three different ways an attacker could tamper with, and remotely take full control, of the e-voting machine simply by attaching what they call a piece of "alien electronics" into the machine's circuit board.

The electronic hacking tool consists of a $1.29 microprocessor and a circuit board that costs about $8. Together with the $15 remote control, which enabled the researchers to modify votes from up to a half-mile away, the whole hack runs about $26.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

NAACP spares members from a statue of George Washington

Ordinarily, George Washington's statue stands unadorned in Columbia, SC. In recent days, however, the NAACP has been rallying for Martin Luther King, so the organization took steps to spare participants from having to look at him.


Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Growing government in pursuit of "absurdity"

'EPA has said new greenhouse gas regulations, as proposed, may be 'absurd' in application and 'impossible to administer' by its self-imposed 2016 deadline. But the agency is still asking for taxpayers to shoulder the burden of up to 230,000 new bureaucrats — at a cost of $21 billion — to attempt to implement the rules'

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Government rigs the car and truck markets, accelerating its purchases of hybrid vehicles to justify its green policies

President Barack Obama’s administration has bought almost a fourth of the Ford Motor Co and General Motors Co. hybrid vehicles sold since he took office, accelerating federal purchases as consumer demand wanes.

The U.S. General Services Administration, which runs the government fleet, bought at least 14,584 hybrid vehicles in the past two fiscal years, or about 10 percent of 145,473 vehicles the agency purchased in that period, according to sales data obtained by Bloomberg under a Freedom of Information Act request. In fiscal 2008, hybrids accounted for less than 1 percent of government purchases, the data showed.

The government is boosting investment in a technology that has failed to win broad acceptance after more than a decade in the marketplace. Consumer sales of hybrids are headed for their third consecutive yearly decline. Government agencies and businesses have said they also will purchase all-electric models being introduced by automakers including GM.

The good news? Incompetent leaders don't stop pioneers

...chances of the Dow industrials' leading in the next market cycle could be as slim as ever, and investors who ignore the dynamos leading the other indexes do so at their own peril.

Current conditions are not unlike those in the late 1970s — the last time America was saddled with an incompetent administration facing serious challenges both foreign and domestic. But as bad as things got, they weren't about to deter the entrepreneurs coming up with new products and services that would redefine their industries, revitalize the economy and create thousands of new jobs.

The chart above shows how the Dow rolled over and moved mostly lower in the Carter years, ending about where it began when Carter was elected. But the Nasdaq just kept going, more than doubling in the same four-year stretch. And that was before Reagan.

Entrepreneurs in those days were as unimpressed with talk of "malaise" as they are today with talk about how America is in decline, owes an apology to the rest of the world and offers no opportunity to the less fortunate.

In truth, America is the only place that makes freedom work for people willing to do what it takes to turn their dreams into reality and raise the standard of living of others in the process.

Is Palin the only conservative who'll take on Washington's elite?

“...there is only one reason I can ask Sarah Palin to brave the sewers of a presidential run. The reason is that we need her.

“The brutal reality of America is that an aristocracy has developed in Washington against the wishes of the founders of this country. The Republican Party ‘insiders’ are just as deep in the corruption and aristocratic thinking as the liberal elites. If anyone ever needed convincing of the deep disregard in which the aristocracy holds the serfs, the ‘insiders’ reaction to the Tea Party movement answered that question. In such an atmosphere of aristocratic minds, who else would be able to cut them down to size and remind them that they work for the people of America? Would Romney, with his own aristocratic flair and his own version of Obamacare, be willing to curtail the reach of the aristocrats into our lives? Would politician-turned-talk show host Huckabee be willing to rein in the very people who supported him in his political life? Sarah Palin is one of few politicians who have fearlessly taken on the establishment, both Democrat and Republican, with a consistent message about the enforcement of the constitution and the returning of government to the people.”

How an intelligent computer worm struck Iran's super-weapon

In the 20th century, this would have been a job for James Bond.

The mission: Infiltrate the highly advanced, securely guarded enemy headquarters where scientists in the clutches of an evil master are secretly building a weapon that can destroy the world. Then render that weapon harmless and escape undetected.

But in the 21st century, Bond doesn't get the call. Instead, the job is handled by a suave and very sophisticated secret computer worm, a jumble of code called Stuxnet, which in the last year has not only crippled Iran's nuclear program but has caused a major rethinking of computer security around the globe.

Intelligence agencies, computer security companies and the nuclear industry have been trying to analyze the worm since it was discovered in June by a Belarus-based company that was doing business in Iran. And what they've all found, says Sean McGurk, the Homeland Security Department's acting director of national cyber security and communications integration, is a “game changer.”

The construction of the worm was so advanced, it was “like the arrival of an F-35 into a World War I battlefield,” says Ralph Langner, the computer expert who was the first to sound the alarm about Stuxnet. Others have called it the first “weaponized” computer virus.

Simply put, Stuxnet is an incredibly advanced, undetectable computer worm that took years to construct and was designed to jump from computer to computer until it found the specific, protected control system that it aimed to destroy: Iran’s nuclear enrichment program.

The target was seemingly impenetrable; for security reasons, it lay several stories underground and was not connected to the World Wide Web. And that meant Stuxnet had to act as sort of a computer cruise missile: As it made its passage through a set of unconnected computers, it had to grow and adapt to security measures and other changes until it reached one that could bring it into the nuclear facility.

When it ultimately found its target, it would have to secretly manipulate it until it was so compromised it ceased normal functions.

And finally, after the job was done, the worm would have to destroy itself without leaving a trace.

That is what we are learning happened at Iran's nuclear facilities -- both at Natanz, which houses the centrifuge arrays used for processing uranium into nuclear fuel, and, to a lesser extent, at Bushehr, Iran's nuclear power plant.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Europe in a funk

Afghans abroad drive cabs, fight as jihadists 3 months a year

British-based men of Afghan origin are spending months at a time in Afghanistan fighting Nato forces before returning to the UK, the Guardian has learned. They also send money to the Taliban.

A Taliban fighter in Dhani-Ghorri in northern Afghanistan last month told the Guardian he lived most of the time in east London, but came to Afghanistan for three months of the year for combat.

"I work as a minicab driver," said the man, who has the rank of a mid-level Taliban commander. "I make good money there [in the UK], you know. But these people are my friends and my family and it's my duty to come to fight the jihad with them."

"There are many people like me in London," he added. "We collect money for the jihad all year and come and fight if we can."

His older brother, a senior cleric or mawlawi who also fought in Dhani-Ghorri, lives in London as well.

Intelligence officials have long suspected that British Muslims travel to Afghanistan and Pakistan each year to train with extremist groups.

Last year it was reported that RAF spy planes operating in Helmand in southern Afghanistan had detected strong Yorkshire and Birmingham accents on fighters using radios and telephones. They apparently spoke the main Afghan languages of Dari and Pashtu, but lapsed into English when they were lost for the right words. The threat was deemed sufficiently serious that spy planes have patrolled British skies in the hope of picking up the same voice signatures of the fighters after their return to the UK.

The dead body of an insurgent who had an Aston Villa tattoo has also been discovered in southern Afghanistan.

Pat Buchanan asks the question: Why will Americans be among the first to die when Koreans again go to war with each other?

This writer was 11 years old when the shocking news came on June 25, 1950, that North Korean armies had crossed the DMZ.

Within days, Seoul had fallen. Routed U.S. and Republic of Korea troops were retreating toward an enclave in the southeast corner of the peninsula that came to be known as the Pusan perimeter.

In September came Gen. MacArthur's masterstroke: the Marine landing at Inchon behind enemy lines, the cut-off and collapse of the North Korean Army, recapture of Seoul and the march to the Yalu.

"Home by Christmas!" we were all saying.

Then came the mass intervention of a million "volunteers" of the People's Liberation Army that had, in October 1949, won the civil war against our Nationalist Chinese allies. Suddenly, the U.S. Army and Marines were in headlong retreat south. Seoul fell a second time.

There followed a war of attrition, the firing of MacArthur, the repudiation of Harry Truman and his "no-win war," the election of Ike and, in June 1953, an armistice along the DMZ where the war began.

Fifty-seven years after that armistice, a U.S. carrier task force is steaming toward the Yellow Sea in a show of force after the North fired 80 shells into a South Korean village.

We will stand by our Korean allies, says President Obama. And with our security treaty and 28,000 U.S. troops in South Korea, many on the DMZ, we can do no other. But why, 60 years after the first Korean War, should Americans be the first to die in a second Korean War?

Rep. Ron Paul vs. the Federal Reserve: a historic duel?

Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) has called the Federal Reserve an “atrocious organization” and written a best-selling book that argues it should be abolished.

Now, thanks to the GOP’s commanding victory in the midterm elections, Paul may finally have the chance to take on the central bank from the dais of a congressional hearing room.

Paul is poised to take over the Financial Services subcommittee that oversees the Federal Reserve in the next Congress. With the power of that pulpit, Paul said he hopes to shine a light on the Fed’s policies, which he has long criticized as opaque and secretive, and make the case that the bank’s monetary policies harm the U.S. economy.

Speculation has swirled that Paul would immediately use his subpoena powers as chairman of the subcommittee to compel testimony from Federal Reserve officials, but in an interview with The Hill, the Texas lawmaker said he has other plans.

“I’ve thought about it, [but] I don’t think I would start with [subpoenas],” Paul said.

“They’re likely not to yield … so that has to be held in reserve,” he said. “I just don’t think I should start off with that.”

Instead, Paul said he wants to foster a debate about the Fed’s role in the American economy and begin the push for greater congressional oversight. He said he wants to use the subcommittee to “discuss the relationship of monetary policy to the business cycle and particularly how they create the booms and the busts” in the economy.

But that doesn’t mean Paul plans to ignore the subpoena card in his hand.

“The idea that the Fed can create trillions of dollars and not have to respond to Congress is pretty amazing,” he said.

How the academy's capitalism deniers elbowed Adam Smith aside in favor of the the junk economics of Barbara Ehrenreich

...most recent college graduates learned everything they know about capitalism from Barbara Ehrenreich. Ehrenreich’s 2001 book Nickel and Dimed was compulsory summer reading for entering freshmen throughout most of the past decade at countless campuses across the country, including Smith, Rutgers, the State University of New York-Brockport, Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania, the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, Appalachian State University, Illinois Wesleyan, Northern Arizona University, and California State University-Northridge. At none of those campuses were students at any level, from freshmen to graduating seniors, required to read a single word written by Adam Smith, whose Wealth of Nations (1776) is considered the seminal philosophical justification for a Western economic system that relies on private property and private investment and allows the market, not governments, to set wages and prices, in the process generating prosperity from the pursuit of self-interest. Nor were those students—and the same can be said for their successors enrolled in college today​—required to read any of the seminal philosophical critics of capitalism, such as Karl Marx or Ferdinand T√∂nnies, who famously worried that social systems based on Gemeinschaft (traditional bonds of family and neighborhood) were being replaced by those based on Gesellschaft (impersonal monetary and contractual relations).

Instead of works by leading 18th- and 19th-century thinkers, college students got the adventures of Ehrenreich, a self-proclaimed socialist, dabbling in minimum-wage blue-collar employment such as waitressing, cleaning houses, and clerking for Walmart. Her modus operandi was to put in a few weeks on the job, quit in a huff over such indignities as having to scrub toilets or be nice to customers, and then complain about employee drug-testing at Walmart and the impossibility of surviving on $7 an hour (impossible for Ehrenreich, that is, since she lived by herself in relatively costly motel rooms instead of with family like most of the real-life working poor). Instead of wondering whether some people stay poor and live in poverty because they make lousy lifestyle choices such as dropping out of high school and bearing children out of wedlock, Ehrenreich made the zero-sum argument that people are poor because the rich systematically steal from them, for example by buying up all convenient residential land for “condos, McMansions, golf courses, or whatever they like,” thereby forcing those at the bottom of the ladder into shabby trailer parks from which they commute to their “junk” jobs.

Nickel and Dimed has pretty much run its course as required freshman reading, having been supplanted by Eric Schlosser’s war against junk food and Elizabeth Kolbert’s campaign to have the federal government force people to clamp down on carbon emissions. The point is that, for nearly a decade, professors and administrators at institutions of higher learning across America who do not consider Adam Smith to be essential reading for their students made Barbara Ehrenreich mandatory. This is not just an indictment of the anti-intellectualism of an academic system that would rather expose its students to a piece of flippant and ephemeral journalism than to one of the classics of the West. It is also a revelation of the pervasive ideological imbalance on campuses.

The Onion questions Obama's pardon of Thanksgiving turkey


Obama Outlines Moral, Philosophical Justifications For Turkey Pardon

Tea Party targets rent-seeking corporations that seek bigger profits by lobbying for more government, like GE and J&J

“If you look at President Obama’s healthcare legislation and cap and trade, there’s only one reason those things got as far as they did – they had big business support,” said Tom Borelli, Director of the National Center for Public Policy Research’s Free Enterprise Project. Borelli is teaming up with Freedomworks President Matt Kibbe to promote responsible, sound business practices, and beginning next year, the two will begin encouraging supporters to boycott big business that lobbies for a “progressive” agenda.

According to Kibbe and Borelli, companies that get involved in lobbying for legislation that hurts consumers should feel the consequences in their balance sheet. Now, they are doing everything they can to make sure that happens.

Their primary focus will be on companies that lobbied for legislation like cap and trade and healthcare reform – two cornerstones of the Obama agenda.

“Big business has had huge impact on public policy,” Borelli told the Daily Caller. “It’s time to make business pay the price for lobbying for big -business politics,” he added before singling out The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) and the member companies of the U.S. Climate Action Partnership (USCAP) as potential targets.

“PhRMA was a huge backer of Obamacare,” said Borelli. “Members of Congress gave [USCAP] credit for cap and trade passing the House. These policies are very unpopular with conservatives and Tea Party activists. It’s reasonable to hold them accountable just like we hold politicians accountable.”

The timing of Kibbe and Borelli’s project is no coincidence. The two groups just released a poll Tuesday that showed when consumers are told about a company’s lobbying for progressive legislation, their opinion of the company drops dramatically.

General Electric, for example, started out with a 51 percent favorable image among self-identified conservatives. However, when participants were told about GE’s support of liberal policies like cap and trade, as well as CEO Jeffrey Immelt’s coziness with the Obama administration, that rating fell to 20 percent.

The poll also questioned consumers about Johnson & Johnson – an American manufacturer that lobbied heavily for health reform and cap and trade through USCAP. The polls found that the company’s favorable rating fell from 69 percent to 16 percent once participants were told about its lobbying practices.

“If [these companies] had lobbied for real reform, we might have actually gotten significant reform,” said Borelli. “But instead, these CEOs jumped on the Obama bandwagon to cut a deal for themselves.”

“Our whole idea is to focus on a few companies until they say ‘uncle’,” he added.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Obama barely edges Tea Party on who should govern America

WASHINGTON — Just about as many Americans want Tea Party-backed members of Congress to take the lead in setting policy during the next year as choose President Obama, a USA TODAY/Gallup Poll finds.

In a survey taken Friday through Sunday, 28% say Obama should have the most influence on government policy next year while 27% say the Tea Party standard-bearers should. GOP congressional leaders are chosen by 23%, Democratic congressional leaders by 16%.

The results reflect the strength of the Tea Party movement as the GOP prepares to take control of the House of Representatives in January.

The survey also underscores Obama's weakened standing. His overall job approval rating, at 42%, is 1 percentage point higher than his historic low in midsummer. His 35% approval rating on the economy is the lowest of his presidency.

The nation's mood "guarantees that there will be gridlock," says Larry Sabato, director of the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia. "The government follows public opinion and public opinion is all over the lot about who should now be running things."

Sabato predicts that "overlapping, contradictory mandates" will be claimed by Obama from his election in 2008 and House Republicans from this month's midterm congressional elections.

How starvation taught the pilgrims to honor property rights

Tea Party going after "rent seekers" - firms that cultivate government favor to enhance their profitability and prospects

Jesse Jackson isn't the only activist that can use corporate boycotts for political purposes. Starting next year, the huge Tea Party organizer FreedomWorks will urge supporters to punish huge corporations like General Electric and Johnson and Johnson for backing President Obama's progressive agenda.

In an exclusive review for Whispers of their plan, FreedomWorks president Matt Kibbe says: "Tea Party activists are willing to tackle progressive CEOs just as they tackled progressive politicians. Judging by the results of the midterm elections, progressive CEOs should buckle up, because Tea Party activists are going to give them a very bumpy ride."

His project partner, Tom Borelli, director of the National Center for Public Policy Research's Free Enterprise Project, added: "Big businesses are now on notice that there is a measurable business risk for actively supporting the Obama, Reid, and Pelosi progressive public policy agenda."

Their initial focus will be on consumer firms that lobbied for passage of Obama's agenda items that helped their firms. "We are going after the rent-seeking corporations feeding at the public trough," said FreedomWorks' spokesman Adam Brandon.

The groups released a new Wilson Research

Strategies poll to Whispers which shows how companies could suffer when conservatives are told of their support for Obama's agenda. The poll found that when customers are told of a consumer product firm's support for healthcare reform, bailouts, cap-and-trade energy policies or other issues pushed by the administration, their favorability among conservatives plummets.

A few examples:

-- General Electric. The firm has a 51 percent favorable image, but when poll takers were told of it's support for the Obama economic stimulus plan, only 20 percent had a favorably impression of the consumer giant.

-- Johnson and Johnson. Nearly 69 percent had a favorable impression of the health company before Johnson and Johnson's support for health reform legislation was detailed to survey-takers. Afterward, that favorability dropped to 16 percent.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Detroit congressman, missing wife, turns to Playboy for solace

While November’s election brought a tsunami of change to Michigan policies, some incumbents are untouchable. So untouchable, apparently, that they openly read girlie magazines on their trips to and from Washington, DC. Detroit Congressman John Conyers was caught on film in a late July flight this year perusing a Playboy magazine on a trip from Detroit to Washington.

The video and pictures – first posted by ex-Detroit News reporter and New York Times Pulitzer Prize winner Charlie LeDuff on his Facebook page – were taken by an anonymous passenger seated two seats from Conyers (see video here). Conyers – in his aisle seat – is shown flipping though pages showing two nude gal pals in the August issue of Playboy. And he also apparently reads Hefner’s product for the articles. The pages he lingers on appear to feature an article entitled “La Chatte” by Maureen Gibbon, on article exploring lesbian sex.

Of course, Mr. Conyers is the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, so it is entirely possible he is preparing for a committee hearing on the legal definition of pornography. Or perhaps he is studying new TSA pat-down procedures for female passengers.

Whatever the case, the congressman doesn’t seem bashful about sharing the magazine with nearby passengers and passing stewardesses. After all, Conyers is not a bashful man. He once used staff as baby sitters and chauffeurs for his children. And this children attended Cranbrook private school at a time when the congressman opposed giving his own constituents the choice of more charter schools.

Obviously, this is a politician who is not easily embarrassed.

(Editor's Note: This article is unfair in that it fails to mention a potential explanation for Rep. Conyers' behavior. His wife is unavailable. She is serving a prison term for accepting bribes while serving as a member of the Detroit City Council)

Monday, November 15, 2010

Junk food isn't all that bad, but the lectures will continue because hectoring people is the real American pastime

San Francisco's Board of Supervisors voted to fight childhood obesity by banning Happy Meal-style kids meals last week, the same week a nutrition professor announced that he had lost 27 pounds on a diet of Twinkies and other high-fat snack foods.

"This is a simple and modest policy that holds fast food accountable," said Supervisor Eric Mar, who proposed the ban. That's San Francisco for you. Never mind the parents or children; hold the food accountable.

If obesity were the fault of high-calorie, high-fat food, then Kansas State University Professor Mark Haub would have gained weight during his two-month junk food diet. Instead, he lost 27 pounds. He did it by consuming fewer calories. He went from around 2,600 calories a day to 1,800.

Haub proved what most people with common sense already know: it's not the food's fault if you get fat; it's yours. If you consume more calories than you burn, you'll gain weight. If you burn more than you consume, you'll lose weight.

Kids aren't getting fat because McDonald's offers Happy Meals. Kids are getting fat because their parents aren't controlling their food intake. Banning Happy Meals won't reverse that trend. It will only encourage parents to continue shifting the blame from their own behavior to the food.

Is The One's towering self-regard a sign of a broader ailment?

Inflated self-esteem can be decidedly counterproductive.

American students, for example, took first place in self-judged mathematical ability in a comparative study of eight countries, but last place in actual mathematical competency.

Korean students, in contrast, ranked themselves last in self-judged mathematical skills and took first place in actual mathematical performance.

The idea that self-esteem produces better performance, reversing the direction of better performance boosting self-esteem, is clearly a concept that's been oversold. But we feel good -- whether it's self-evaluations of leadership skills, looks, personality or math ability, it's not unusual for 25 percent of American students to self-judge themselves to be in the top 1 percent.

The downside can be a declining nation that's overstocked with egotistical and incompetent narcissists.

That might be the problem at the White House.

When past hubris meets stubborn reality and victory is no longer attainable, the language of choice is bafflegab

The Obama administration and its NATO allies will declare late this week that the war in Afghanistan has made sufficient progress to begin turning security control over to its government by spring, months before the administration's July deadline to start withdrawing U.S. troops, according to U.S. and European officials.

Even as it announces the "transition" process, which will not immediately include troop withdrawals, NATO will also state its intention to keep combat troops in Afghanistan until 2014, a date originally set by Afghan President Hamid Karzai.

The seemingly contradictory messages, in communiques and agreements to be released at NATO's upcoming summit in Lisbon, are intended to reassure U.S. and European audiences that the process of ending the war has begun.

At the same time, the coalition wants to signal to the Taliban - along with Afghans and regional partners who fear a coalition withdrawal, and Republicans in Congress who oppose it - that they are not leaving anytime soon.

"We have to assemble a coherent narrative . . . that everyone buys into," said a senior administration official, one of several who discussed ongoing alliance negotiations on the condition of anonymity.

An "enduring partnership" agreement being negotiated between NATO and Afghanistan will extend security support indefinitely. A bilateral U.S.-Afghanistan accord, similar to the "strategic framework" signed with Iraq when troop-withdrawal deadlines were set there in 2008, will promise long-term economic, diplomatic and security cooperation and is to be completed by January.

For the administration, the agreements are a way to draw domestic attention away from President Obama's controversial July withdrawal pledge and toward a more "strategic" plan, officials said.

But as they strive for a common strategy, each coalition member - including the United States - is conducting its own internal assessment of the Afghanistan mission amid high domestic disapproval of the war and pressure to justify its continuance. The administration is planning a December review of the increase in U.S. military and civilian forces that Obama announced last year.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

His presidency has turned to ashes but his vanity still soars

Why has Barack Obama failed so spectacularly? Is he too dogmatically liberal or too pragmatic? Is he a socialist, or an anticolonialist, or a philosopher-president? Or is it possible that Obama’s failures stem from something simpler: vanity. Politicians as a class are particularly susceptible to mirror-gazing. But Obama’s vanity is overwhelming. It defines him, his politics, and his presidency.

It’s revealed in lots of little stories. There was the time he bragged about how one of his campaign volunteers, who had tragically died of breast cancer, “insisted she’s going to be buried in an Obama T-shirt.” There was the Nobel acceptance speech where he conceded, “I do not bring with me today a definitive solution to the problems of war” (the emphasis is mine). There was the moment during the 2008 campaign when Obama appeared with a seal that was a mash-up of the Great Seal of the United States and his own campaign logo (with its motto Vero Possumus, “Yes we Can” in Latin). Just a few weeks ago, Obama was giving a speech when the actual presidential seal fell from the rostrum. “That’s all right,” he quipped. “All of you know who I am.” Oh yes, Mr. President, we certainly do.

My favorite is this line from page 160 of The Audacity of Hope:

I find comfort in the fact that the longer I’m in politics the less nourishing popularity becomes, that a striving for power and rank and fame seems to betray a poverty of ambition, and that I am answerable mainly to the steady gaze of my own conscience.

So popularity and fame once nourished him, but now his ambition is richer and he’s answerable not, like some presidents, to the Almighty, but to the gaze of his personal conscience. Which is steady. The fact that this sentence appears in the second memoir of a man not yet 50 years old—and who had been in national politics for all of two years—is merely icing.

Are crotch inspections the last grasp of invasive government?

When it comes to protecting against terrorism, this is how things usually go: A danger presents itself; the federal government responds with new rules that erode privacy, treat innocent people as suspicious and blur the distinction between life in a free society and life in a correctional facility; and we all tamely accept the new intrusions, like sheep being shorn.

Maybe not this time.

The war on terrorism is going to get personal. Very personal. Americans have long resented the hassles that go with air travel ever since 9/11 — long security lines, limits on liquids, forced removal of footwear and so on. But if the Transportation Security Administration has its way, we will look back to 2009 as the good old days.

The agency is rolling out new full-body scanners, which eventually will replace metal detectors at all checkpoints. These machines replicate the experience of taking off your clothes, but without the fun. They enable agents to get a view of your body that leaves nothing to the imagination.

A lot of people, of course, couldn't care less if a stranger wants to gaze upon everything God gave them. But some retain a modesty that makes them reluctant to parade naked in front of people they don't know, even virtually. Henceforth, Jennifer Aniston is going to think twice before flying commercial.

Besides the indignity of having one's body exposed to an airport screener, there is a danger the images will find a wider audience. The U.S. Marshals Service recently admitted saving some 35,000 images from a machine at a federal courthouse in Florida. TSA says that will never happen. Human experience says, oh, yes, it will.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

History suggests Obama badly needs a political survival strategy

The defeat of Russ Feingold in the November 2 election has unexpectedly provided the most uncompromisingly left-wing Democrat in the U.S. Senate with a new job opportunity—that of candidate for the presidency of the United States. Feingold hinted in his concession speech on election night that he might challenge Barack Obama in the Democratic primaries. “It’s on to 2012,” Feingold said, “and it is on to our next adventure.”

The next day, a spokesman said that Feingold had “no interest” in running for the presidency, but such a denial is meaningless. The scale of the Democratic Party’s defeat and the parlous condition of the country’s finances inevitably raise the specter of a challenge to a first-term president from within his own party. Such challenges have been part of the political landscape for the past half-century. Eight presidents since 1960 have run for re-election. Four of them have had to fight off a significant primary opponent whose key message was that the president had betrayed his party’s core principles. In each case, the challenge preceded the president’s eventual ouster in the general election.

If ever there was a man for his time, it's Gov. Chris Christie

Minnesota: from 10,000 lakes to liberal vote fraud in 2 elections

Schoen and Caddell advise Obama to bow out of 2012 election

President Obama must decide now how he wants to govern in the two years leading up to the 2012 presidential election.

In recent days, he has offered differing visions of how he might approach the country's problems. At one point, he spoke of the need for "mid-course corrections." At another, he expressed a desire to take ideas from both sides of the aisle. And before this month's midterm elections, he said he believed that the next two years would involve "hand-to-hand combat" with Republicans, whom he also referred to as "enemies."

It is clear that the president is still trying to reach a resolution in his own mind as to what he should do and how he should do it.

This is a critical moment for the country. From the faltering economy to the burdensome deficit to our foreign policy struggles, America is suffering a widespread sense of crisis and anxiety about the future. Under these circumstances, Obama has the opportunity to seize the high ground and the imagination of the nation once again, and to galvanize the public for the hard decisions that must be made. The only way he can do so, though, is by putting national interests ahead of personal or political ones.

To that end, we believe Obama should announce immediately that he will not be a candidate for reelection in 2012.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Conservative heavy-hitters defend DeMint on election choices, pledge to challenge, defeat weak Republicans in primaries

Prominent conservative leaders are putting critics of Sen. Jim DeMint on notice: Stop blaming the South Carolina Republican for the GOP’s failure to take back the majority in the Senate -- or else.

Led by Richard Viguerie, who heads the Web site ConservativeHQ.com, a group of three dozen high-profile DeMint backers, say they will respond to the senator’s detractors “in word and deed.”

“Conservatives will not only challenge and beat more Republican senators in Republican primaries, but conservatives will stop funding and volunteering for the NRSC and the RNC,” Viguerie wrote in a letter addressed to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman John Cornyn and Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele. “Instead, conservatives will send their money to, and volunteer for, Senator DeMint’s Senate Conservative Fund and the candidates Senator DeMint supports.”

And Viguerie and his counterparts didn’t stop there:

“It would be our goal for the Senate Conservatives Fund to raise more money than the NRSC,” the letter continues. “Conservatives will also work to defeat in Republican primaries those Republicans who retain consultants who criticize or try to undermine Senator DeMint.”

DeMint has been taking heat from some members of the Republican Party for endorsing anti-establishment primary candidates like Delaware’s Christine O’Donnell and Colorado’s Ken Buck, who ended up losing their general election contests in places where Republicans thought they otherwise could have prevailed.

In the wake of last Tuesday’s election, which swept dozens of Tea Party candidates into Congress, conservative heavyweights have declared a war on moderates, especially those who have taken issue with DeMint’s independent-minded strategy.

Noonan: Incoming GOPers should should be wary of nut crackers, "Stand tall, speak clear, and don't frighten the horses"

The mainstream media this January will be looking for the nuts.

I saw this in 1994, when the new Republican Congress came in. The media had a storyline in their head then, too: These wild and crazy righties who just got elected are . . . wild and crazy. They focused their cameras on people who could be portrayed as nutty, and found them. The spirited Helen Chenoweth, freshman from Idaho, talked a little too much about “black helicopters.” She was portrayed as paranoid and eccentric. Bob Livingston, from New Orleans, went to his first meeting of the Appropriations Committee wielding a machete. The new speaker, Newt Gingrich, was full of pronouncements and provocations; he was a one-man drama machine.

It was a high spirited group, and one operating without a conservative media infrastructure to defend them. They and others were caught and tagged like big wild birds, then released into the air, damaged.

The point is when they want to paint you as nuts and yahoos, don’t help them paint you as nuts and yahoos. It’s good to keep in mind the advice of the 19th century actress Mrs. Patrick Campbell, who once said, speaking in a different context, that she didn’t really care what people did as long as they didn’t do it in the street and frighten the horses.

That would be the advice for incoming Republicans: Stand tall, speak clear, and don’t frighten the horses.

In Crook County IL, ballots have crazy legs and midnight moves

There's more than one way to skin a cat, and Cook County, IL Democrats are proving there's more than one way to steal an election.

Republican Joe Walsh appeared to defeat Democratic incumbent Melissa Bean in the race for congressman in IL-8 on election night by several hundred votes. That's when the entertainment portion of the program began.

Provenzano offers a description of an exceptionally odd ballot-counting process: "On Election Night, there were six precincts that were still not counted at 1 a.m. We discovered that they had problems in the polling place and were moved to nearby Elgin, Illinois to count the ballots. At some point in the middle of the night all six precincts - representing thousands of votes - had been moved to Cicero, Illinois for ‘safe keeping' . . .

We immediately dispatched legal counsel to ensure the chain of custody was not compromised and we have been chasing ballots ever since. On Friday evening, the Bean campaign approached the Cook County Clerk's Office, requested and received a list of all outstanding absentee ballots with name, address, and phone numbers. As alarming as that was, they also asked for and were provided an exact image of a blank absentee ballot."

"Identifying potential mischief, the Illinois GOP dispatched volunteers to track down these voters to ensure no foul play was occurring with these outstanding ballots," Provenzano continues. "What they found was alarming. They documented their findings on affidavits and they were submitted to law enforcement for review."

The affidavits describe one voter who had not lived at the listed address in the past 15 years; a voter who a caregiver said "could not respond to questions because of dementia," and a group of ballots sent to a Clearbrook home for the mentally disabled in Rolling Meadows, Illinois.

Note to non-Chicagoans: Taking ballots to Cicero for "safekeeping" is like giving your "good faith" money to the daughter of the tribal chief of the Mbulus in Nigeria in return for promised millions. Still a mobbed up town - true going back to the days when Al Capone lived there - the chances that everything is on the up and up with those ballots in Cicero are about as good as the Cubs winning a World Series title next year.

Yes, but don't talk to AG Holder about vote fraud in Illinois. Walsh is white.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Obama will veto any repeal of ObamaCare, setting the stage for a repeal of Obama's misbegotten presidency in the 2012 election

The last sentence in this excerpt, from Cato, states: "Repealing ObamaCare is just not going to happen while Obama is in office."

Yes, and that's a good thing, not a bad thing. What this means is that anti-Obama conservatives will make a strong attempt to repeal ObamaCare and Obama will veto the repeal, if it passes. This sets up a powerful argument that the only way to stop ObamaCare is to defeat Obama's reelection drive in 2012. To get rid of ObamaCare, we have to get rid of Obama.

From Cato:

"In the first hours after Republicans reclaimed the House, the presumptive new speaker, John Boehner (R-Ohio), made clear his plans for the health care bill passed last March: "We must do everything we can to try to repeal this bill and replace it with common sense reforms to bring down the cost of health care."

Voters made themselves abundantly clear on Tuesday — Democrats who supported the health care bill lost in droves. Eight Democrats in the House, including New York's Scott Murphy, switched from opposing the bill on early votes to supporting it for final passage. Six sought re-election; five, including Murphy, lost. Arizona and Oklahoma passed ballot measures opposing the law's individual mandate, and Colorado voters fell just short of doing likewise. Missouri voters had already done so earlier this year.

Election night exit polls showed that at least half of voters wanted to repeal the bill. While that is an almost unprecedented level of opposition for a major entitlement expansion, it may actually understate the anti-ObamaCare sentiment because exit polls tend to tilt Democratic. A better measure might be an election night Rasmussen telephone poll that found 59% of voters in favor of repeal. Another post-election survey found that 45% saw their vote as a specific message of opposition to the health care bill.

Repealing ObamaCare is just not going to happen while Obama is in office.

So as Republicans celebrate and Democrats pick through the electoral rubble, what can we expect to happen next with health care?

The new Republican House majority will undoubtedly schedule a quick vote on repealing the health care law, perhaps as early as January. It will pass the House quite easily; not only will every Republican vote for repeal, but there are still a dozen Democrats in the House who voted no last March.

But that is as far as repeal is likely to go. The Democrats remain in control of the Senate, and Harry Reid, returning in triumph, is unlikely to even schedule a vote.

Repealing ObamaCare is just not going to happen while Obama is in office."

Bush team's forgetfulness is damaging his record on Iraq war

George W. Bush is telling the world says he was “sickened . . . when we didn’t find weapons of mass destruction” in Iraq.

How, I would like to know, did he feel when 550 metric tons of yellowcake were finally, secretly and successfully extracted from Iraq in the summer or 2008?

From the AP, July 5, 2008:

The last major remnant of Saddam Hussein’s nuclear program — a huge stockpile of concentrated natural uranium — reached a Canadian port Saturday to complete a secret U.S. operation that included a two-week airlift from Baghdad and a ship voyage crossing two oceans.

The removal of 550 metric tons of “yellowcake” — the seed material for higher-grade nuclear enrichment — was a significant step toward closing the books on Saddam’s nuclear legacy. It also brought relief to U.S. and Iraqi authorities who had worried the cache would reach insurgents or smugglers crossing to Iran to aid its nuclear ambitions.

Closing the books on Saddam’s nuclear legacy — since when were they opened?

As noted in April of this year, Karl Rove made the startling admission in his memoir that he was responsible for the Bush administration’s failure to flog the evidence that WMD had been removed from Iraq in the lengthy run-up to the US invasion and after. Essentially, he writes oh-so-sincerely, he was just preoccupied with other things and, shoot, didn’t notice all the damage the daily, monthly, yearly hammering (Bush-lied-People-died) was doing.

As for this one secret three-month operation in 2008 to remove yellowcake from the 23,000 acre Tuwaitha nuclear complex 12 miles south of Baghdad — following the military’s extraction “four devices for controlled radiation exposure from the former nuclear complex” that “contain elements of high radioactivity that could potentially be used in a weapon”? Frankly, we’re just lucky to have this anomolous AP story in the first place (print it out while it’s available.)

I guess somebody somewhere came to a decision-point not to acknowledge any of it for any reason ever. We just don’t know why.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Newsmax poll: Even though he built Microsoft, Bill Gates would defeat Obama by 10 points in a mockup presidential election

Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates and billionaire investor Warren Buffett have no political experience or aspirations, but both would defeat President Barack Obama in a head-to-head race for the presidency, according to a new Newsmax/SurveyUSA poll.

The poll also found that such well-known business figures as Donald Trump, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Ford Motor Co. CEO Alan Mulally are within striking distance of defeating Obama.

Newsmax conducted the survey to find out how several well-known political and "dark-horse" celebrity figures, ranging from Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin to Bill O’Reilly and Glenn Beck, would fare if they ran against Obama for the White House.

The survey of 1,000 registered voters was conducted Nov. 3-4, after Republicans won the House and gained six seats in the Senate in the midterm elections — results widely interpreted as a rejection of Obama and raising questions about his chances for re-election in 2012.

In the Newsmax poll, respondents were asked: “If there were an election for president of the United States today, and the only two names on the ballot were Bill Gates and Barack Obama, whom would you vote for?” They also were asked that question with other leading business figures in place of Gates.

Overall, Gates received 55 percent of the votes to Obama’s 45 percent, and Buffett outpolled Obama 52-48 percent.

The results suggest that Americans lack confidence in Obama’s ability to deal with economic issues, and that he could be vulnerable to a figure from outside the political world in 2012.

The Newsmax poll also found that Obama would be in a tough battle if matched against several other prominent businessmen.

Bush campaign to pretty up his record hits a pothole

Former President George W. Bush is no “class act,” a Republican lawmaker insisted Wednesday. Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.) said Bush had “destroyed” the GOP during his eight years in office in a blunt shot at the former Republican president, who on Tuesday released his book, “Decision Points.”

Rohrabacher tweeted Wednesday:

@MarkRMatthews Bush not class act, destroyed GOP, jailed Ramos & Compean, left us bailouts, gave more power to fed gov & China.

As danger of flying grows, airport scanners pick up more perks

For Barry Obama, it's time for vengeance and he thinks he has us "firmly and, in his mind, deservingly, under his thumb"

Now at the helm, Obama is avenging the Sins of the Fathers, even though the fathers are long since dead and buried. Consequently, the Department of Justice drops all charges against the new generation of domestic terrorists, the New Black Panthers, who verbalize their desire to kill "cracker babies."

The DOJ turns a blind eye toward egregious acts of injustice towards whites. The Feds will even go so far as suing Arizona and threatening other states should they not toe the party line of importing as many people of color as possible.

When Obama tells black voters that he's freeing them from slavery, this is not hyperbole; he means it. But he's not referring to liberal politics that has only decimated the black culture.

Obama means this: he will put the final nail in the coffin of American exceptionalism. He will end the Civil War. And he will do it his way: by trying to break the backs and the spirits of the white oppressors.

It matters not that the Civil War ended over a century ago, nor that 3% of the population perished in the struggle to free the slaves. For people like Obama and the Revs. Wright and Cone, the war still rages.

Obama thinks we're on his Slave Ship, and he's taking us along for a ride. He wants us to experience the same terror, helplessness, and despair as that New York audience held captive in the theater long ago.

He wants us to suffer. That's why there's an impish gleam in his eye when he consigns Republicans to the back of the bus.

For Obama, the change has come. But it's not prosperity. It's not uniting us as one people, Americans, under God.

It's the chickens coming home to roost. It's this: we're finally firmly and, in his mind, deservingly, under his thumb.

Fat-cat fed bureaucrats double their ranks under Obama

The number of federal workers earning $150,000 or more a year has soared tenfold in the past five years and doubled since President Obama took office, a USA TODAY analysis finds.

The fast-growing pay of federal employees has captured the attention of fiscally conservative Republicans who won control of the U.S. House of Representatives in last week's elections. Already, some lawmakers are planning to use the lame-duck session that starts Monday to challenge the president's plan to give a 1.4% across-the-board pay raise to 2.1 million federal workers.

Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, who will head the panel overseeing federal pay, says he wants a pay freeze and prefers a 10% pay cut. "It's stunning when you see what's happened to federal compensation," he says. "Every metric shows we're heading in the wrong direction."

National Treasury Employees Union President Colleen Kelley counters that the proposed raise "is a modest amount and should be implemented" to help make salaries more comparable with those in the private sector.

Federal salaries have grown robustly in recent years, according to a USA TODAY analysis of Office of Personnel Management data. Key findings:

•Government-wide raises. Top-paid staff have increased in every department and agency. The Defense Department had nine civilians earning $170,000 or more in 2005, 214 when Obama took office and 994 in June.

•Long-time workers thrive. The biggest pay hikes have gone to employees who have been with the government for 15 to 24 years. Since 2005, average salaries for this group climbed 25% compared with a 9% inflation rate.

•Physicians rewarded. Medical doctors at veterans hospitals, prisons and elsewhere earn an average of $179,500, up from $111,000 in 2005.

Federal workers earning $150,000 or more make up 3.9% of the workforce, up from 0.4% in 2005.

Since 2000, federal pay and benefits have increased 3% annually above inflation compared with 0.8% for private workers, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis. Members of Congress earn $174,000, up from $141,300 in 2000, an increase below the rate of inflation.

An intellectual discovers another Bush blemish - he's too aloof

George W. Bush -- plush with family money and a taxpayer-funded retirement package that few will ever enjoy -- may be at peace with his decision not to "sully the presidency" with trivial matters like, you know, defending conservatism, but as one who will be forced to help fund his retirement, I am not.

And it's not the money part that bugs me. It's the "at peace" thing that does. In fact, I'll go counter to conventional wisdom and submit that it is a quiet self-centeredness at the root of this strategy.

Consider that Bush is "at peace" with his decisions to take the fall for issues that were not his personal issues to take the fall for. What the 43rd president still apparently does not get is that his presidency did not and does not belong to him and him alone.

As he said yesterday on the Rush Limbaugh Show -- under some pretty stiff and repeated questions on the topic by Rush --

I've discussed this with other people in my administration, when they call me a liar should I have called them names, and my attitude was no then, obviously, and I still feel very strongly that's the way a president ought to conduct himself.


That sounds very high-minded. Perhaps it is. Or perhaps it's the feelings of a man who has forgotten just who owns the presidency. And it doesn't change the fact that when Bush was called a liar, we were called liars by extension. His presidency belonged -- and still belongs -- to all of us as well. And by "us," I mean those who supported and defended him along with sharing his values (or what we thought were his values).

Thus, when he failed to defend himself, he failed to defend us -- which is precisely why we elected him. Day after day Bush was trashed unfairly, illogically, and inaccurately -- along with all of his supporters -- yet his White House never uttered a peep of resistance. What? Did they think they were in this by themselves?

And if it were simply a matter of a distant bitter memory, it would be bad enough.

But it is not distant and not really a memory. Public opinion polls indicate that just about as many Americans still blame Bush (and thereby us, his supporters) for the bad economy as blame Obama. One can certainly chalk a lot of this up to ignorance on the part of many Americans. But it is not mere ignorance alone.

It is ignorance driven and multiplied by the fact that while Democrats who actually helped "drive the car into the ditch" were out in public slamming Bush and capitalism and conservatism in general for a souring economy in 2007 and 2008...the mild-mannered man from Texas was luxuriating in his self-righteous "new tone" strategy of not sullying the presidency.

Well that's just great. We all get sullied instead.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

George Bush: "I'd have endorsed Obama if they'd asked me"

George W. Bush’s bombastic return to the world stage has reminded me of my favourite Bush anecdote, which for various reasons we couldn’t publish at the time. Some of the witnesses still dine out on it.

The venue was the Oval Office. A group of British dignitaries, including Gordon Brown, were paying a visit. It was at the height of the 2008 presidential election campaign, not long after Bush publicly endorsed John McCain as his successor.

Naturally the election came up in conversation. Trying to be even-handed and polite, the Brits said something diplomatic about McCain’s campaign, expecting Bush to express some warm words of support for the Republican candidate.

Not a chance. “I probably won’t even vote for the guy,” Bush told the group, according to two people present.“I had to endorse him. But I’d have endorsed Obama if they’d asked me.”

Endorse Obama? Cue dumbfounded look from British officials, followed by some awkward remarks about the Washington weather. Even Gordon Brown’s poker face gave way to a flash of astonishment.

To be fair, this wasn’t completely unexpected. The degree of enmity between Bush and McCain — particularly following their legendarily dirty fight in the 2000 South Carolina primary — is hard to exaggerate.

Indeed Bush is far from kind to McCain in the parts of his new book that relate his “complex relationship” with the Arizona senator. I’ve yet to see a copy, so I don’t know whether he mentions how he voted. But it might be worth asking. He was certainly wavering.

Wall between mosque and state crumbles in Oklahoma

As any liberal could tell you, the separation of church and state was written into the Constitution in 1773. Rest assured, it’s in there… no need to go looking for it. It is a wall made of massive granite blocks and topped by electrified razor wire, towering over a moat filled with ACLU lawyers. The barrier between mosque and state, however, is paper-thin, at least in Oklahoma.

Oklahoma recently passed a law barring courts from considering sharia, the Muslim religious code. A representative of CAIR, the Council on American Islamic Relations, just won a suit to block the law, which enjoyed 70% support from voters. You might think such a popular and provocative bill would have drawn the full attention of the court system, but you would be wrong. State Senator Anthony Sykes, who co-authored the law, says State Attorney General Drew Edmonson did not respond to the suit, and has thus far refused to comment to the media.

It may be unfair to judge Edmonson harshly, since attorneys are very busy people who practice a complex discipline. That’s why we have government-controlled health insurance, but not government-controlled legal insurance. Edmonson is being replaced as Attorney General, and is doubtless too busy with the transition to respond to the highest-profile lawsuit in recent history. Also, highly-anticipated videogame Call of Duty: Black Ops will be released tomorrow, so he might already be in line at the local GameStop to get his copy.

The supporters of the Oklahoma law cited the rise of official sharia courts in Britain as the reason for their defensive legislation. There are sharia courts in several major cities, including London, and the government has quietly given them authority as “arbitration tribunals.” Back in 2008, the Times of London reported the lord chief justice endorsed sharia courts for settling “marital and financial disputes.”

Islam is an aggressive religion that has made remarkable progress against lazy Western governments, and a culturally exhausted ruling class. For example, the religious injunction against depicting the Prophet Mohammed is strictly obeyed by the same elite which throws screaming fits over nativity scenes, unless one of the donkeys is the one from Shrek. There is good reason to insist on the supremacy of American law, and doing so is not a random insult to Muslims. It’s not an issue Oklahomans conjured from thin air.

Monday, November 8, 2010

A trick football play for the ages

Barone: GOP will have its biggest ever role in redistricting

Nationally, Republicans narrowly missed winning Senate seats in heavily Democratic Washington and in Nevada and California, where less problematic nominees might have won. As in all wave years, they missed winning half a dozen House seats by a whisker (or a suddenly discovered bunch of ballots).

But they made really sweeping gains in state legislatures, where candidate quality makes less difference. According to the National Conference on State Legislatures, Republicans gained about 125 seats in state senates and 550 seats in state houses -- 675 seats in total. That gives them more seats than they've won in any year since 1928.

Republicans snatched control of about 20 legislative houses from Democrats -- and by margins that hardly any political insiders expected. Republicans needed five seats for a majority in the Pennsylvania House and won 15; they needed four seats in the Ohio House and got 13; they needed 13 in the Michigan House and got 20; they needed two in the Wisconsin Senate and four in the Wisconsin House, and gained four and 14; they needed five in the North Carolina Senate and nine in the North Carolina House and gained 11 and 15.

All those gains are hugely significant in redistricting. When the 2010 Census results are announced next month, the 435 House seats will be reapportioned to the states, and state officials will draw new district lines in each state. Nonpartisan commissions authorized by voters this year will do the job in (Democratic) California and (Republican) Florida, but in most states it's up to legislators and governors (although North Carolina's governor cannot veto redistricting bills).

Republicans look to have a bigger advantage in this redistricting cycle than they've ever had before.

Something else we can blame on Obama - faulty memories

CNN has published its exit polling data from last Tuesday’s House elections. The results paint a portrait of a disgruntled electorate that disapproves of everything, and probably lies to exit pollsters out of spite.

For example, the same percentage of respondents claims to have voted for Barack Obama and John McCain. Since Obama won the actual election by seven points, and the 45% support expressed for each candidate is close to the 46% McCain actually pulled, one suspects a great deal of Obama-Biden 2008 bumper stickers are getting steamed off the rear windows of the nation’s automobiles. Four percent of the exit poll respondents said they did not vote in 2008, with 60% of these non-voters identifying as Republican, providing evidence that one of McCain’s biggest problems was his failure to energize his base. Interestingly, 5% of Republican voters indicated strong approval of President Obama’s performance, which suggests the pollsters spent a lot of time hanging around outside Lindsay Graham’s house.

If you really want scary temperatures, you can get them

More and more details are emerging on the greatest fraud in the history of science, the manufacturing of pseudo-scientific theories and data intended to panic the world into carbon control, empowering the leviathan of government to regulate all human activity. Doug Ross presents 12 photos taken and annotated by David Evans of official temperature monitoring stations obviously sited in order to show higher temperatures than in surrounding areas, near air conditioner exhausts, on concrete or asphalt surfaces that absorb and radiate heat, and near car or airplane exhaust flows.

My favorites are Urbana, Ohio:




(snip)

These errors hardly seem accidental. This is criminal fraud on a trillions of dollars scale.

More shady money shows up in Rep. Maxine Waters' account

A lobbyist known as one of California's most successful power brokers while serving as a legislative leader in that state paid Rep. Maxine Waters' husband $15,000 in consulting fees at a time she was co-sponsoring legislation that would help save the real-estate finance business of one of the lobbyist's best-paying clients, records show.

Ms. Waters' husband, Sidney Williams, a former pro football player and ambassador to the Bahamas, was a paid consultant on a Los Angeles lobbying project for Mike Roos, who served with Ms. Waters in the California State Assembly. During Mr. Roos' 14-year tenure, he held the posts of majority floor leader and speaker pro tempore.

In 2007, Mr. Roos expanded his successful California lobbying business to Washington, D.C., after Democrats took control of the House and Ms. Waters became chairman of the House Financial Services housing and community opportunity subcommittee, where she played a key role in housing legislation.

Mr. Roos sought her assistance for a California client that specialized in homeownership and asset development.

According to federal lobbying records, Mr. Roos was paid $430,000 by the Nehemiah Corp. of America, a Sacramento, Calif.-based nonprofit that acted as a middleman to help sellers finance down payments for homebuyers to qualify for mortgages insured by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA). He lobbied members of Congress and federal agencies on behalf of the firm.

One of those lobbied was Ms. Waters, a California Democrat and key Nehemiah ally, who held a hearing on down-payment assistance in June 2007 and persuaded federal housing officials to delay for 30 days efforts to impose a ban on the program. She also co-sponsored legislation in 2008 and 2009 that would have kept Nehemiah's assistance program viable.

Nehemiah was the largest middleman on such deals nationwide, with more than a third of the business, passing on $1.5 billion from sellers to more than 320,000 homebuyers in a decade.

Ms. Waters denied any connection between Mr. Roos' payment to her husband and her help with Mr. Roos' client, Nehemiah.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Bloomberg on Obama: "I never met in my life such an arrogant man"

You may recall that during President Obama’s vacation at Martha’s Vineyard, on August 27 he took in a round of golf at the Vineyard Golf Club in Edgartown, playing golf with New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg; Democratic lawyer, business man and √©minence grise Vernon Jordan; and White House trip director (and former golf pro) Marvin Nicholson.

The pool report at the time said that "We are told Bloomberg and Obama talked in the clubhouse for about 15 mins about the economy. They then went to the driving range.”

Apparently – at least from a second-hand report – the Obama-Bloomberg convo could have gone better.

In an interview with The Australian Financial Review, conservative media magnate Rupert Murdoch says ''Bloomberg said it was a pleasant day. In conversation he put a few ideas … He said it was like verbal ping pong.”

Bloomberg, according to Murdoch, “came back and said 'I never met in my life such an arrogant man.'"

Glimpses of GOP virtue on earmarks may have been exaggerated

It didn’t take long for many in Congress to ignore the will of the American people on earmarking special projects for states and districts. The Tea Party movement has a long way to convince members of both parties that the corrupting and wasteful practice of earmarking has to end. Later this month, Senators Jim DeMint (R-SC), John McCain (R-AZ) and Tom Coburn (R-OK) are expected to have to fight against an Omnibus Appropriations bill on the Senate floor in the Lame Duck session that is expected to be loaded up with earmarks.

According to National Journal (subscription required), some Senate Democrats and Republicans are teaming up with House Democrats to earmark.

Senate Democrats and Republicans don’t agree on much, but they appear to have found common ground in favor of the practice of congressionally directed spending, also known as earmarking.

The Senate will come back into session the week of November 15th and Congress is expected to complete the appropriations work for Fiscal Year 2011. Rumors have been swirling on Capitol Hill that some Senate Republicans have been teaming up with House Democrats to craft an Omnibus Appropriations bill, one that would fund all discretionary agencies for the year. That Omnibus spending bill may be loaded with earmarks.

Bogus income tax filings, uncaught by IRS and SSA bureaucrats, threw U.S. statistical tables out of whack by $32.2 billion

In a perfect example of the need to keep government in check, a $32.3 billion mistake that severely distorted the nation’s 2009 wage statistics was only discovered because the media questioned a federal agency’s suspect data.

The massive blunder slipped by two key government agencies—Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and Social Security Administration (SSA)—and neither will comment on who is at fault, though SSA has asked its inspector general to investigate the embarrassing matter.

Here is what happened, according to the news agency that broke the story and got the government to correct the huge problem: Two people filed multiple income tax forms (known as W-2) that made them multibillionaires and the reports, now believed to be bogus, threw the entire country’s statistical wage tables out of whack.

In government figures released last month, pay for the top U.S. earners quintupled in 2009 to an average of $519 million when in fact they had fallen 7.7% from the previous year to an average of $84 million. The mistake affected the entire nation’s wage statistics, which fell an average of $598 but instead were listed as dropping only $384.

While officials at SSA and the IRS found nothing strange in the unrealistic leap in high-earners’ incomes, thankfully the media did. The feds initially confirmed to a skeptical reporter that the data was correct, but they decided to review W-2s by hand after a story was published citing the improbable stats of record-high wages.

This week SSA officials announced that they found “invalid” wages from two of the 74 top earners listed in its original data. The information originally came from the IRS, which not surprisingly, refuses to comment on the multi billion-dollar debacle.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Mid-term losers have an unnerving pattern of winning reelection

Mr. McConnell took some time this week to talk me through the GOP game plan. Let's just say he isn't apologizing for recently suggesting that his priority is to deny President Obama a second term. This week's message was that the American people want a repeal of health-care reform and an end to overspending and job-killing initiatives. If Republicans intend to make good on these public demands, says Mr. McConnell, the end goal has to be putting someone in the White House who won't veto that progress.

History doesn't inspire optimism. Over the past 100 years, every time a president two years into his first term lost Congress, he went on to re-election: Truman in '48, Eisenhower in '56, Clinton in '96. Newt Gingrich even wrote a book, "Lessons Learned the Hard Way," about the GOP mistakes in the wake of 1994. It boiled down to Republicans over-promising and under-delivering—becoming the foil off of which President Clinton was able to skillfully pivot away from his own liabilities.

Mr. McConnell says he too has been through the history books. "I've spent a lot time studying the two years after the opposition took over—or in the case of this week, had a really good day—asking myself and my staff to analyze why the next election turned out the way it did." This time, the GOP has got "to work smarter, and to leave behind for our nominee a playing field that is competitive."

EPA's most outspoken advocate of carbon controls resigns

One of the Obama administration’s most aggressive officials on global warming regulations is stepping down from her post at the Environmental Protection Agency.

Lisa Heinzerling, the head of EPA’s policy office, will return to her position as a Georgetown University law professor at the end of the year, said EPA spokesman Brendan Gilfillan.

Within EPA, Heinzerling is one of the more dogmatic proponents of regulating greenhouse gases to the maximum extent possible under the Clean Air Act.

There are two camps within the agency on climate, said an environmental advocate who spoke on background. The Heinzerling camp, with the mind-set that, “we have the law on our side; let’s go get them.” In the other camp are Administrator Lisa Jackson and EPA air chief Gina McCarthy, who are trying to maintain the support of the White House and Congress.

Heinzerling gained fame in the environmental community for her role in helping to win a landmark 2007 U.S. Supreme Court case that gave EPA the authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions under the Clean Air Act. At EPA, she’s played a leading role in crafting the agency’s controversial climate policies as Jackson’s senior climate policy attorney and then as the associate administrator of EPA’s Office of Policy.

“I think she’s probably the farthest left and most committed of anyone on the team, with the exception of Carol Browner,” on climate change, said an industry attorney familiar with the agency, referring to the former agency administrator and President Barack Obama’s energy and climate adviser.

Noonan's take: "Vote conservative, limit the reach of the thieves"

'The people have spoken, the bastards." That would be how Democrats in the White House and on Capitol Hill are feeling. The last two years of their leadership have been rebuffed. The question for the Democratic Party: Was it worth it? Was it worth following the president and the speaker in their mad pursuit of liberal legislation the country would not, could not, like? And what will you do now? Which path will you take?

The Republicans saw their own establishment firmly, sharply put down. The question for them: What will you do to show yourselves worthy of the bounty?

The Republicans won big, but both parties return to Washington chastened. Good.

Two small points on the election's atmospherics that carry implications for the future. The first is that negative ads became boring, unpersuasive. Forty years ago they were new, exciting in a sort of prurient way. Now voters take for granted that politicians are no good, and such ads are just more polluted water going over the waterfall. The biggest long-term loser: liberalism. If all pols are sleazoid crooks, then why would people want to give them more governmental power to order our lives? The implicit message of two generations of negative ads: Vote conservative, limit the reach of the thieves.

Obama trails Romney and Huckabee in 20-12 poll matchup

WASHINGTON -- Two days after his self-described "shellacking" in the election, President Obama has another reason to feel bad: He's trailing two Republicans in the first post-election poll of the 2012 presidential race.

Obama is lagging behind both Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee, according to the CNN/Opinion Research Corp. poll.

Huckabee, the former Arkansas governor, leads Obama 52 to 44 percent in a hypothetical matchup, while Romney, the former Massachusetts governor, tops Obama 50 to 45 percent.

Sarah Palin, who has been coy about her plans, trails the president 52 to 44, while Obama barely edges out former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, 49 to 47.

Huckabee led the GOP field with 21 percent support in the poll, compared with 20 percent for Romney, 14 for Palin and 12 for Gingrich.

Scoring in the single digits were Texas Rep. Ron Paul, Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, Rep. Mike Pence of Indiana and former Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania.

A poll by Rasmussen Reports had Romney leading the GOP field with 20 percent, followed by Huckabee and Palin, each with 19.

The U.S. House of Representatives after Tuesday


(Blue = Democrat. Red = Republican. Striped = new gain.)

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Historian Paul Johnson skewers Barack Obama ever so gently

Happily Blair has not made the mistake of making himself ineligible for a return to active politics by going into the impotence of the House of Lords or the Brussels bureaucracy. He can respond to a summons or an opportunity. Britain seems to be entering an era of coalitions, turning its back on the strict dualism of monolithic parties, and pushing men of all parties toward the center. This is a good climate to give birth to a Second Spring for Blair.

Both Labour and the Liberals will probably split in the near future. Blair is well placed to take over the leadership of a merger of the responsible rumps of both. And this could be the prelude to his assuming the leadership of a much wider merger with the Tories. His temperament, his views, his commitments (including the lack of them), and his enviable capacity to get himself liked all point in this direction. So does his book, if you read between the lines. A Blair revival, it is true, does not fit in with a continued Obama presence in the White House. But nor does any other good news for the West.

This would seem to qualify Obama as a bona fide fanatic

Bad handwriting, misspelled names, Mickey Mouse will soon be in headlines as Alaska counts write-in ballots for Senate

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) - A fierce ballot-by-ballot fight loomed Wednesday in the Alaska Senate race as lawyers and election monitors prepared to descend on the state capital and haggle over how many voters validly penned in the name of Sen. Lisa Murkowski in her historic write-in bid.

The overseer of Alaska's elections told The Associated Press that the counting of write-in ballots will begin Nov. 10, and a decision could come a few days later.

As of Wednesday, write-in votes had 41 percent; GOP nominee Miller had 34 percent; and Democrat Scott McAdams had 24 percent. The margin between write-ins and Miller was about 13,500 votes. At question now is how many of the voters who cast ballots for a write-in candidate did so for Murkowski, and just as important, penned in her name in a legally valid way.

The eventual outcome will be significant not only for Murkowski and Miller but also for former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, who emerged in the waning days of the campaign to rally support for Miller. A loss by Miller in Palin's home state could be seen as evidence of her having marginal impact on voters here amid the spotty record of the dozens of candidates she backed nationwide on Election Day.

As for the tally next week, ballot counters will use discretion in determining voter intent but all counters must agree on whether a ballot counts, said Lt. Gov. Craig Campbell, who oversees Alaska elections. If a disagreement emerges, a state attorney will be asked for an opinion.

Ballots will be separated into piles: those completed precisely, those counted based on workers' determination of voter intent, and those not counted based on unclear voter intent.

The last word may not come until well into December, since Dec. 4 is the deadline to request a recount; Dec. 9 is the deadline for an election contest to be filed in state court.

Miller's campaign manager, Robert Campbell, said Tuesday night that he expected "several teams," with lawyers, in Alaska soon to monitor the ballot count.

Though thrashed at the polls, Obama still loves what voters hate

Before President Obama started talking yesterday, the question was this: Will we now see an ideologue or a pragmatist?

An hour later, the answer was clear: Yes.

He will be a pragmatist only to the extent it helps him push his ideology. If he gets a free hand again, it's off to the radical races.

Any hope he is a chastened president, ready to work for the majority of Americans instead of against them, is another illusion.

He told us so himself. Asked if he still thinks the health-care takeover was the right policy, he said the process was an "ugly mess," but insisted firmly, "The outcome was a good one."

There you have it. The signature policy he produced is "good," despite being unpopular, despite driving up costs and taxes, despite hindering job growth, and despite forcing companies to drop coverage or seek exemptions. Any more "good" like that and the USA will be down for the count.

Ah, quibble, quibble. Facts be damned, the guy believes what he believes.

He's a smart man and skillful politician who can certainly read election results. So, in theory at least, he knows exactly how the nation feels.

He gets it -- he just rejects it.

That explains his down-in-the-dumps demeanor. It wasn't contrition or remorse. That was self-pity.

Hayek vs. Keynes: a rap-off in tune with the times

Iowa voters oust chief justice and three other supreme court judges who voted to overturn ban on same-sex marriage

The people of Iowa scored a major victory on Tuesday and have sent a clear and powerful message across America. The April 2009 Iowa Supreme Court decision to declare the state’s law banning same sex marriage unconstitutional was a controversial win for far-left judicial activism at the expense of the people. Three members of the court learned on election day that judicial activism has consequences.

The DesMoines Register reports that Chief Justice Marsha Ternus along with Justices David Baker and Michael Streit were handed their pink slips by the voters after Tuesday’s mid-term election. Since Iowa adopted the merit selection and retention system in 1962 no state Supreme Court justice had failed to earn the simple majority required for retention.

The campaign to remove the judges was spearheaded by Sioux City businessman Bob Vander Plaats and supported by U.S. Congressman Steve King who crisscrossed the state to rally the electorate. A jubilant Vander Plaas told supporters “The people of Iowa stood up in record numbers and sent a message…that it is ‘We the people,’ not ‘We the courts.’”

Exit polls confirmed that the unpopular gay marriage decision was the overwhelming issue regarding the retention vote.

Soros not capturing enough secretary of state posts to turn leftist electoral defeats into thuggish MN-style victories

While Democrats went out of their way to portray the Koch brothers as evil billionaires puppeteering this election, I’d venture they feel pretty good about the outcome. However, after last night I’d venture that that George Soros is one unhappy Hungarian.

Where the Kochs stood accused of funding some well-known grassroots political groups, Soros has been heavily invested in some pretty shady attempts at electioneering for Democrats. And fortunately, these efforts aren’t going very well.

The first notable thing is Soros’ funding of the Secretary of State Project — which is basically an attempt to elect Secretaries of State around the country willing to impose Democratic-friendly election laws in an attempt to tilt the playing field in their favor on election day.

Well, yesterday Republicans won 17 of 26 races for Secretary of State taking six of those offices (Arkansas, Ohio, New Mexico, Colorado, Iowa and Kansas) from Democrats. Republicans now control 25 offices to Democrats 22.

Rep. Barney Frank celebrates the rubble he has produced

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

After the election debacle, Obama still has one stimulus option left - retirement - that would actually perk up the economy

His brand has been trashed and the future of his presidency erased. Now that Barack Obama no longer has any overriding reason to squander still more borrowed money on his principal benefactors, trade unions, in the far-fetched hope that this would stimulate the economy, he is in unique position to try a stimulus option that would almost certainly work.

He should announce forthwith that he will not stand for reelection in 2012.

In one fell swoop, Obama would remove the single biggest drag on the U.S. economy - the widespread expectation that he would remain in the White House for six more years, pursuing an anti-American agenda that pleases radical academics, social engineers, the perennially aggrieved, rent seekers and unionists, but angers and frightens almost everyone else.

For those new to the phrase, rent seeking has its roots in Adam Smith's attribution of incomes to profit, wages and rent. In current usage, rent-seeking is attributed to public officials who take bribes, lobbyists who attempt to sway legislation in their employer's favor and General Electric's support for cap-and-trade, which would reward its investments in green energy.

Rent-seeking also is a significant factor in campaign contributions, as witnessed recently by huge contributions to Democrat politicians by Wall Street firms after Democrats had repeatedly denounced Wall Street while writing legislation laughably described as reform. The rent seekers, in this example, were the politicians who threatened Wall Street with damaging restrictions, persuading Wall Street to fatten the politicians' campaign chests to avoid the calamity.

Rent seeking is now so prevalent in commerce and government that it could be said that the purpose of industry is no longer to build a better mousetrap, but rather to persuade government to require the mouse trap that the rent seeker already builds.

Because of uncertainty induced by the Obama administration, industry, businesses and investors have been sitting on big pools of investable cash. The Obama agenda not only makes a healthy return on capital unlikely, but jeopardizes the economic and societal system assembled so ingeniously by the founders in the late 18th Century. Investors, so to speak, are on strike. If the ominous portent of Obama's statist agenda and czars is removed, the strike is likely to end.

One of the central elements of the constitutional scheme, whose drafters were keenly aware of  Smith's seminal work, The Wealth of Nations, was the role of markets. Through political markets, called elections, citizens were to choose their governors. Through commercial markets, they would decide what gets produced, and in what quantities.

This system has served America well for more than 200 years, accomodating large changes in human tastes and preferences that damaged or destroyed businesses while allowing the overall economy to keep growing and nurturing new businesses. But Obama would have none of it. His stimulus plans threw money at high-speed rail, any mention of which gives liberals hot flashes, and green energy, which pleases social engineers and rent seekers, such as General Electric, which have bet the farm on government-mandated electrical generation by sunlight and wind.

The result: an uncoordinated but across-the-board refusal by customers, owners and investors to make big commitments of the kind that produce new jobs and a rising economy.

As in the 1930s, America's free enterprise system is so resilient that only stumbling, bumbling government can stop it. As it did in the 1930s, the federal government has done precisely that, creating a housing bubble by decreeing that mortgages are for everyone, and then treating the resulting collapse with potions that never work.

It isn't yet time for Obama to go, but he could partially atone for his blundering regime by promising to go in two years.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Unable to compete with the national strangeness, The National Enquirer falls on hard times and doesn't want to get up

What AP reported:

"After years of dishing tales of celebrity folly and misfortune, The National Enquirer's publisher has fallen on hard times of its own.

American Media Inc. plans to seek federal bankruptcy protection in the next two weeks or so. The privately held company, based in Boca Raton, Fla., announced its intention Monday without sharing any details about its finances. "

What AP should have reported:

Finding its tales of celebrity folly and misfortune completely outclassed by more bizarre oddities such as the first anti-American president of the United States, the National Enquirer announced Monday that it will file for bankruptcy.

"How can we compete with the Obama administration?" a spokesman asked rhetorically. "Even Hollywood wouldn't have thought to stage an American president deliberately wrecking the national economy and then making sure it wouldn't recover - all in the interest of landing a job as an international potentate under the auspices of the UN. It's too bizarre to contemplate, and we have nothing that can compete with it.

"And then we have Obama and Harry Reid giving American voters the finger. What are the odds?

"I thought it was bad when Bill Clinton had to ask for help on the meaning of the word 'is,' a story that sent our sales into a tailspin. With the Obama administration, the daily news is so bizarre that, pretty soon, we'd have to start paying customers to buy our publications."

The Chicago Way finds its way to Minnesota 3

The Chicago Way finds its way to Minnesota 2

The Chicago Way finds its way to Minnesota 1

Here is a graphic illustration of the solution

Here is a graphic illustration of the problem