Friday, April 30, 2010

While Arizona Americanizes its schools, Washington and California welcome Chinese communists to teach classes

A communist government notorious for human rights violations will implement curriculum in U.S. public schools despite concerns from educators who assure it will lead to the indoctrination of innocent children in the classroom.

Public school districts in Washington State and California have agreed to allow China’s communist regime to conduct “Confucius Classroom” programs supposedly aimed at promoting Chinese language and culture in this country. China provides the curriculum—including instructors and teaching materials—and administers it through a “nonprofit” (Hanban) that’s controlled by the country’s Ministry of Education.

It doesn’t cost U.S. taxpayers a cent, which certainly makes the deal quite appealing to cash-strapped public school districts nationwide. Southern California’s Hacienda La Puente Unified School District and Washington’s Seattle Public School District are among those that have accepted the Chinese government’s offer.

In Seattle education officials are thrilled about the concept of “opening up China” and one of the Confucius offices is housed at a local middle school. The California project has been met with more resistance from educators and parents who assert the curriculum is a means for the Chinese Communist Party to maneuver into free societies under the false pretext of promoting a benign philosophy.

They claim the real agenda is propaganda, such as fostering goodwill and acceptance of the communist regime despite its well-documented record of atrocious human rights abuses. In fact, the vice president of the Society of Confucian Studies of America (Jeanne Meng) said she would be “very worried” if her kids were in a Confucius Classroom because traditional teachings are being used to fulfill a communist political agenda.

Another veteran Society of Confucian Studies official (Victor Wang) says China’s overseas school programs are a common communist tactic that provides benefits that appear harmless to make friends and infiltrate the target group. In this case Western society, Wang points out.

Odd news from the world's worst man-made catastrophe, the United Nations

Because women always suffer the most in earthquakes, the United Nations has named the grrrl-powered Islamic Republic of Iran to its Commission on the Status of Women. The UN made the move after Iran withdrew its equally comic bid to join the UN Human Rights Council last week.

The UN made the move with little fanfare. Needless to say, liberal commenters in the west are too preoccupied with picking on the pope and making sure Comedy Central employees stay safe to take much interest. Thus it's left to the conservative media to spotlight Iran's record of government rape, stoning and whipping of wayward doxies. Here's Fox News:

The U.S. currently holds one of the 45 seats on the body, a position set to expire in 2012. The U.S. Mission to the U.N. did not return requests for comment on whether it actively opposed elevating Iran to the women's commission.

Iran's election comes just a week after one of its senior clerics declared that women who wear revealing clothing are to blame for earthquakes, a statement that created an international uproar — but little affected their bid to become an international arbiter of women's rights.

"Many women who do not dress modestly ... lead young men astray, corrupt their chastity and spread adultery in society, which (consequently) increases earthquakes," said the respected cleric, Hojatoleslam Kazem Sedighi.

National Review's Jay Nordlinger says by this point the joke has become pretty mainstream:

That is what the U.N. is for: the Kafkaesque.

Feds, embarrassed by Arizona, say, "We, too, can play this game"

ATLANTA (AP) - Federal agents say they have arrested 596 immigrants with criminal records during a three-day immigration enforcement sweep across the Southeast.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials said Friday that the operation, dubbed Operation Cross Check, was the largest ever conducted by the agency targeting foreign nationals convicted of crimes. They said the immigrants have already served their sentences and authorities will now seek to deport them.

Atlanta ICE Field Director Felicia Skinner says that "communities around the Southeast are safer than they were before" as a result. She said three of the people arrested this week had been convicted of murder and 144 were convicted on assault charges.

Dems face election routs in Illinois and Nevada

From Rasmussen:

Illinois Senate: Kirk (R) 46%, Giannoulias (D) 38%

Illinois Governor: Brady (R) 45%, Quinn (D) 38%

Nevada Senate: Harry Reid stuck at 40%, loses to all comers

Nevada Governor: Brian Sandoval (R) 53%, Rory Reid (D) 35%

On the heels of strong immigration controls, Arizona bans ethnic studies in schools

After making national headlines for a new law on illegal immigrants, the Arizona Legislature sent Gov. Jan Brewer a bill Thursday that would ban ethnic studies programs in the state that critics say currently advocate separatism and racial preferences.

The bill, which passed 32-26 in the state House, had been approved by the Senate a day earlier. It now goes to Gov. Jan Brewer for her signature.

The new bill would make it illegal for a school district to teach any courses that promote the overthrow of the U.S. government, promote resentment of a particular race or class of people, are designed primarily for students of a particular ethnic group or "advocate ethnic solidarity instead of the treatment of pupils as individuals."

The bill stipulates that courses can continue to be taught for Native American pupils in compliance with federal law and does not prohibit English as a second language classes. It also does not prohibit the teaching of the Holocaust or other cases of genocide.

Schools that fail to abide by the law would have state funds withheld.

State Superintendent for Public Instruction Tom Horne called passage in the state House a victory for the principle that education should unite, not divide students of differing backgrounds.

"Traditionally, the American public school system has brought together students from different backgrounds and taught them to be Americans and to treat each other as individuals, and not on the basis of their ethnic backgrounds," Horne said. "This is consistent with the fundamental American value that we are all individuals, not exemplars of whatever ethnic groups we were born into. Ethnic studies programs teach the opposite, and are designed to promote ethnic chauvinism."

Horne began fighting in 2007 against the Tucson Unified School District's program, which he said defied Martin Luther King's call to judge a person by the content of their character, not the color of their skin. Horne claimed the ethnic studies program encourages "ethnic chauvanism," promotes Latinos to rise up and create a new territory out of the southwestern region of the United States and tries to intimidate conservative teachers in the school system.

Electronic Frontier Foundation traces Facebook's evolution away from privacy

Since its incorporation just over five years ago, Facebook has undergone a remarkable transformation. When it started, it was a private space for communication with a group of your choice. Soon, it transformed into a platform where much of your information is public by default. Today, it has become a platform where you have no choice but to make certain information public, and this public information may be shared by Facebook with its partner websites and used to target ads.

To help illustrate Facebook's shift away from privacy, we have highlighted some excerpts from Facebook's privacy policies over the years. Watch closely as your privacy disappears, one small change at a time!

Facebook Privacy Policy circa 2005:

No personal information that you submit to Thefacebook will be available to any user of the Web Site who does not belong to at least one of the groups specified by you in your privacy settings.

Current Facebook Privacy Policy, as of April 2010:

When you connect with an application or website it will have access to General Information about you. The term General Information includes your and your friends’ names, profile pictures, gender, user IDs, connections, and any content shared using the Everyone privacy setting. ... The default privacy setting for certain types of information you post on Facebook is set to “everyone.” ... Because it takes two to connect, your privacy settings only control who can see the connection on your profile page. If you are uncomfortable with the connection being publicly available, you should consider removing (or not making) the connection.

Viewed together, the successive policies tell a clear story. Facebook originally earned its core base of users by offering them simple and powerful controls over their personal information. As Facebook grew larger and became more important, it could have chosen to maintain or improve those controls. Instead, it's slowly but surely helped itself — and its advertising and business partners — to more and more of its users' information, while limiting the users' options to control their own information.

California too broke to deal with imaginary threats dreamed up by social engineers

California is broke. Its nearly bankrupt status leaves residents with few financial resources to deal with imaginary threats to health and safety.

Yet in the face of an economic meltdown, the state still allows special interests to dictate high cost administrative procedures.

The reasons California is suffering severe economic woes is clear: It has the highest sales tax in the country and the 6th largest overall tax burden. As its voluminous environmental restrictions are based on political interests rather than sound science, they significantly hamper the ability of California’s entrepreneurs to conduct business profitably.

According to a recent California Legislative report, regulation costs Golden State businesses approximately $493B in lost output and 3.8M jobs – resulting in a tax revenue loss of $16M.

The annual regulatory burden per person is $13K.

Spectator blog rips RINO Charlie Crist for indie bid for Florida Senate seat

Florida's Republican in Name Only governor Charlie Crist made it official Thursday. He won't even be a Republican in name on the ballot in November. He will run for the U.S. Senate as an independent because conservative former Florida House Speaker Marco Rubio ran him out of the Republican primary.

Of course, Crist didn't frame his move this way yesterday. Rather he made yet another attempt to conflate his own self-interest with that of all Floridians. It's unlikely a large fraction of Florida voters will buy it. .

"My decision to run for the United States Senate as a candidate without party affiliation in many ways says more about our nation and our state than it does about me," Crist unctuously intoned to a small crowd in downtown St. Petersburg gathered to hear his announcement. "Our political system is broken," he added.

Nonsense on steroids. Crist's desperate decision to bolt the Republican Party came entirely because Republicans in Florida clearly prefer Rubio, who has run an effective retail campaign based on principles of limited government, free enterprise, a strong national defense, and opposition to the Obama agenda.

Crist tried to counter Rubio's solid record in the Florida House and Rubio's conservative campaign with a record as governor that's all over the ideological map:

Legal Insurrection: Dems "whipping up populist emotions in the runup to the 2010 elections..."

The Justice Department has commenced a criminal investigation of Goldman Sachs:

Federal prosecutors have opened an investigation into trading at Goldman Sachs, raising the possibility of criminal charges against the Wall Street giant, according to people familiar with the matter.

While the investigation is still in a preliminary stage, the move could escalate the legal troubles swirling around Goldman.

The Securities and Exchange Commission, which two weeks ago filed a civil fraud suit against Goldman, referred its investigation to prosecutors for the Southern District of New York, which has now opened its own inquiry.

I saw this coming. The SEC, having been called out by Goldman Sachs and others for the weakness of its legal theories and case, is bringing in the big hammer, the threat of criminal prosecution.

The government's push to bring Goldman Sachs to heel is no kabuki.

The Obama administration and Democrats in Congress want Goldman Sachs to capitulate and confess.

This is not about Goldman Sachs' conduct or the law. This is about whipping up populist emotions in the run-up to the 2010 elections and crushing one of the few private-sector entities still willing to defy the administration.

Nailing McCain on illegal immigration

The furore isn't about immigration; it's about the "systematic failure" of the feds

The Congress of the United States -- an institution that spent a chunk of the past year cajoling passage of the most contentious legislation devised in decades -- may not have the "appetite" to take on another "controversial issue," namely immigration reform, this year, according to President Barack Obama. Bummer.

Health care reform, cap and trade -- at the heart of these questions resides an irreconcilable conflict of philosophy, be it economic doctrine or the proper role of government, and as we learned, no amount of negotiation will bridge these ideological splits.

Very few Americans, on the other hand, are inherently opposed to immigration. For the most part, the controversy we face isn't about immigration at all. It's about the systematic failure of federal government to enforce the law or offer rational policy. There's a difference.

Why it's important that big government is derailed

Thursday, April 29, 2010

The Gulf oil spill

Just when we thought we were free, the Interagency Working Group has us surrounded with no way out

Al Gore has bought an $8.5 million ocean-front mansion in California in defiance of his own cataclysmic predictions of melting ice caps and boiling oceans, presumably to live closer to the Hollywood producers who have so admired, and rewarded, his fictional writing and film-making.

Many of his colleagues are in disgrace, having made up so much terrifying weather data that they had to use a hockey stick to chart it.

The carbon trading markets, where polluters were to buy the right to poison millions of breathers throughout the world, are all but dead.

Then, just when we thought the global warming alarmists were finally in retreat, we get this:

"There are potential impacts on cancer both directly from climate change and indirectly from climate change mitigation strategies. Climate change will result in higher ambient temperatures that may increase the transfer of volatile and semi-volatile compounds from water and wastewater into the atmosphere, and alter the distribution of contaminants to places more distant from the sources, changing subsequent human exposures. Climate change is also expected to increase heavy precipitation and flooding events, which may increase the chance of toxic contamination leaks from storage facilities or runoff into water from land containing toxic pollutants."


If we allow the climate to go on as it is, without interference, we will get cancer.

If we try to mitigate global warming and its effects, we will get cancer.

Just when we thought we were free at last, the alarmists have us surrounded again. This time, the're not giving us any way out.

"This is Science?" asks Climate Skeptic.

"This looks like something a bunch of grad students might have dreamed up in a 10-minute brainstorming session over a few beers. For those who have read Atlas Shrugged, this should look exactly like the State Science Institute’s report on Rearden Metal.

"From the real state science folks at the Interagency Working Group on Climate Change and Health."

It's a matter of time before the Party of Conspicuous Compassion blocks roads to keep illegals from leaving Arizona

PHOENIX (AP) - Many of the cars that once stopped in the Home Depot parking lot to pick up day laborers to hang drywall or do landscaping now just drive on by.

Arizona's sweeping immigration bill allows police to arrest illegal immigrant day laborers seeking work on the street or anyone trying to hire them. It won't take effect until summer but it is already having an effect on the state's underground economy.

"Nobody wants to pick us up," Julio Loyola Diaz says in Spanish as he and dozens of other men wait under the shade of palo verde trees and lean against a low brick wall outside the east Phoenix home improvement store.

Many day laborers like Diaz say they will leave Arizona because of the law, which also makes it a state crime to be in the U.S. illegally and directs police to question people about their immigration status if there is reason to suspect they are illegal immigrants.

Washington Examiner: federal pay "scandalously higher" than private sector pay

For decades, public sector unions have peddled the fantasy that government employees were paid less than their counterparts in the private sector. In fact, the pay disparity is the other way around. Government workers, especially at the federal level, make salaries that are scandalously higher than those paid to private sector workers. And let's not forget private sector workers not only have to be sufficiently productive to earn their paychecks, they also must pay the taxes that support the more generous jobs in the public sector.

Data compiled by the Commerce Department's Bureau of Economic Analysis reveals the extent of the pay gap between federal and private workers. As of 2008, the average federal salary was $119,982, compared with $59,909 for the average private sector employee. In other words, the average federal bureaucrat makes twice as much as the average working taxpayer. Add the value of benefits like health care and pensions, and the gap grows even bigger. The average federal employee's benefits add $40,785 to his annual total compensation, whereas the average working taxpayer's benefits increase his total compensation by only $9,881. In other words, federal workers are paid on average salaries that are twice as generous as those in the private sector, and they receive benefits that are four times greater.

The situation is the same when state and local government compensation data is compared with that of the private sector. As the Cato Institute's Chris Edwards notes in the current issue of the Cato Journal, "The public sector pay advantage is most pronounced in benefits. Bureau of Economic Analysis data show that average compensation in the private sector was $59,909 in 2008, including $50,028 in wages and $9,881 in benefits. Average compensation in the public sector was $67,812, including $52,051 in wages and $15,761 in benefits." Those figures likely underestimate the true gap on the benefits side because the typical government employee gets a guaranteed defined benefit pension under very generous terms, while the private sector norm is a 401(K) defined contribution plan that is subject to the ups and downs of the economy.

With the federal deficit and national debt heading into the stratosphere, taxpayers can no longer afford to support such lucrative government compensation. Public sector pay and benefits at all levels should be reduced to make it comparable to the wages and benefits earned by the average working taxpayer. The first politician to propose a five-year plan for this purpose is likely to be cheered mightily by taxpayers.

Jay Cost on Charlie Crist's indie candidacy: "It will end his political career for good."

This is insane. Two huge problems.

One, Independents don't win elections to the US Senate in three-way contests. Bernie Sanders and Joe Lieberman are in office because one party or the other implicitly backed them. By my count, the last candidate to win election to the Senate as an Independent (other than Sanders and Lieberman) was Harry Byrd of Virginia. He won in 1976 because the Republicans did not run a candidate. This is not coincidental; true third party candidacies almost never work:


Second, it would be hard to come up with a strategy that goes against the zeitgeist as much as Crist's plan to run as an Independent. Congressional job approval is getting so low that only members of Congress and their staff approve of the job the legislature is doing. And why? Ask people you know in life and they'll complain about politicians who are only out for themselves, who aren't looking out for the interests of the people. And now here comes good old Charlie Crist, who just a few weeks ago swore off an Independent run. This is a dishonest and nakedly self-interested move, and voters are fed up with this kind of behavior. The only compelling motivation that Charlie Crist has to run as an Independent is so that Charlie Crist can stay in elective office. That is not good enough in a year like 2010.


I know why Crist is doing this. He's not on the ballot for governor this year, and he doesn't want to lose his seat at the table. Yet this is not going to work. And it will end his political career for good.

As bond vigilantes press Greece, Spain, Portugal and UK, Roubini regrets they're letting U.S. off

April 29 (Bloomberg) -- Nouriel Roubini, the New York University professor who forecast the U.S. recession more than a year before it began, said sovereign debt from the U.S. to Japan and Greece will lead to higher inflation or government defaults.

Almost $1 trillion of worldwide equity value was erased April 27 on concern that debt will spur defaults, derailing the global economy, data compiled by Bloomberg show. German Chancellor Angela Merkel and the International Monetary Fund pledged to step up efforts to overcome the Greek fiscal crisis, after bonds and stocks fell across Europe in the past week.

“The bond vigilantes are walking out on Greece, Spain, Portugal, the U.K. and Iceland,” Roubini, 52, said yesterday during a panel discussion on financial markets at the Milken Institute Global Conference in Beverly Hills, California. “Unfortunately in the U.S., the bond-market vigilantes are not walking out.”

Credit-rating cuts on Greece, Portugal and Spain this week are spurring investors’ concern that the European deficit crisis is spreading and intensifying pressure on policy makers to widen a bailout package. Roubini’s remarks underscore statements by officials such as Dominique Strauss-Kahn, managing director of the IMF, that the global economy still faces risks.

“The thing I worry about is the buildup of sovereign debt,” said Roubini, a former adviser to the U.S. Treasury and IMF consultant, who in August 2006 predicted a “painful” U.S. recession that came to fruition in December 2007. If the problem isn’t addressed, he said, nations will either fail to meet obligations or see faster inflation as officials “monetize” their debts, or print money to tackle the shortfalls.

Roubini, who teaches at NYU’s Stern School of Business, told attendees at the Beverly Hilton hotel that “Greece is just the tip of the iceberg, or the canary in the coal mine for a much broader range of fiscal problems.”

Quincy, IL, Tea Party gathering prompts Obama team to summon riot police

In demonizing opponents, is Obama "doing what you gotta do?"

Even by blogging standards, this New York Times blog post seems so Hoboken

...for all its diversity of land and people, Arizona is also a lunatic magnet. As I drove, I listened to the radio blather of a state in mob-rule frenzy of cranky old men. Once in Phoenix, I saw on television that sign in a car’s rear window, the new image of Arizona to the rest of the world: “I’m Mexican. Pull me over.”

Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer signed the state’s immigration law last Friday. This week, Jon Stewart called Arizona the “the meth lab of democracy.” A few days ago, the governor signed the instantly infamous “show me your papers” law, allowing authorities to stop and question anyone who looks Hispanic. Another new measure lets people carry concealed weapons without a permit, following on the heels of the new-found freedom to pack heat in bars and restaurants, something that was outlawed in much of the Old West. And the state house has just approved a bill that would require candidates for high office to show a birth certificate.

The birther bill is a sop to the flat-earthers who believe — without a shred of evidence, even after all the hard work of hard-right opposition-research — that our president was not born in the U.S.A.

“It suggests that Arizona is a place where any crackpot whim can be enshrined into law.” That was the verdict from the sensibly conservative Arizona Republic, the state’s leading newspaper, which had also urged the Republican governor, Jan Brewer, to veto the immigration bill that could foster a police state. She signed it, of course.

Stewart, the Mark Twain of our day with a New Jersey quirk or two, got it right with his meth lab jab. But Arizona is more than a laboratory for intemperate times: this place is a warning of what a state can look like when it’s run by talk-radio demagogues and their television cohorts.

The crackpot laws owe their genesis to the crackpots who dominate Republican politics, who in turn cannot get elected without the backing of crackpot media.

Having mistakenly revealed his real intentions, Obama turns to Clinton-speak in search of deft and opaque message

Former President Bill Clinton weighed in Wednesday on two hot button topics — the Goldman Sachs controversy and the Arizona immigration law — with some outside the box thinking and deft political messaging.

Goldman may not be guilty of wrongdoing, Clinton said. On immigration, he expressed his famous empathy for the plight of Americans in border states.

Hours after the former president spoke, President Obama said much the same thing as Clinton on both topics.

Obama, speaking to reporters on Air Force One coming back to Washington from Illinois, indicated that Goldman Sachs traders may not have broken the law in a trade that is at issue in a civil suit being brought by the federal government.

Asked about the Goldman case, Obama said he didn’t want to comment on an ongoing suit, but said “even if it’s legal,” much of the activity on Wall Street “doesn’t seem to serve much of an economic purpose.”

That sounded similar — if a bit more equivocating — than Clinton’s remarks earlier in the day in Washington.

“I’m not at all sure they violated the law,” Clinton said of Goldman at a fiscal summit in Washington hosted by the Peter G. Peterson Institute, later adding it was “not self-evident” that Goldman did anything wrong.

Clinton, however, also questioned the value of much derivatives trading, stating that “too much of this stuff has no economic purpose no matter who wins or loses.”

Andrew C. McCarthy: Obama's "geysers of legislation" designed to produce "tsunamis of regulation"

In an inevitable state of ignorance of some of its major provisions, Pres. Barack Obama recently signed a 2,700-page health-care bill. Since then, the president has championed a 1,400-page financial-reform proposal, insisting that it does not provide a blank check for future multibillion-dollar corporate bailouts — but the bill would, in fact, provide a blank check for future multibillion-dollar corporate bailouts.

The point of these geysers of legislation is to produce tsunamis of regulation. Tens of thousands of pages dense with code will shift control of previously private activity to swelling bureaucracies, unaccountable to any but the most wired insiders. In crony socialism as in crony capitalism, what matters is who you know. When it comes to the law, no one can really know what it is.

In his spare time, on April 8, President Obama signed an arms-reduction treaty with Russia. He urges swift ratification of the accord even though, as former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton observes, important provisions are still being negotiated. In the spirit of the times, though, the pact would become the law of the land before those details are finalized, while its authors either don’t know what it says or are lying about it. Administration officials told Arizona Republican senators Jon Kyl and John McCain — who will be central to the Senate’s ratification debate — that the treaty referred to missile defense only in the hortatory, non-binding preamble. Yet when the senators looked at the treaty’s binding terms, they found, right there in black and white, a provision (Art. V, para. 3) that would require the United States to refrain from placing “defense interceptors” in existing missile launchers — a severe compromise of American national security.

So when the president hastily pronounced Arizona’s new immigration bill “misguided” and “irresponsible,” Arizona residents — whom the federal government has abandoned to the siege of Mexican warlords, narco-peddlers, and squatters — may be forgiven for snickering. Come to think of it, snickering has become the default reaction to pronouncements on the law by our ex-law-prof-in-chief , particularly those prefaced by his most grating verbal tic, “Let me be clear . . . .”

Bachman: U.S. government owns more than 50% of U.S. economy

Click this headline to see a larger version of this chart

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Come November, Dems will need all the illegal voters they can get

(Reuters) - Hispanics and Democratic lawmakers furious over Arizona's harsh crackdown on illegal immigrants expect huge weekend rallies across the United States, piling pressure on President Barack Obama to overhaul immigration laws in this election year.

Alternative lede:

(TheRightFieldLine) - Egged on by a flailing U.S. president in search of a comeback, hispanics, illegal immigrants and Democrat leaders are planning a weekend of street theater, hoping to open the gates to millions of new voters who might rescue Barack Obama from the dreaded likelihood of a one-term presidency.

Fannie Mae, infamous for its subprime mortgage dealings, holds patent on carbon trading system

When he wasn't busy helping create a $127 billion mess for taxpayers to clean up, former Fannie Mae Chief Executive Officer Franklin Raines, two of his top underlings and select individuals in the "green" movement were inventing a patented system to trade residential carbon credits.

Patent No. 6904336 was approved by the U.S. Patent and Trade Office on Nov. 7, 2006 -- the day after Democrats took control of Congress. Former Sen. John Sununu, R-N.H., criticized the award at the time, pointing out that it had "nothing to do with Fannie Mae's charter, nothing to do with making mortgages more affordable."

It wasn't about mortgages. It was about greenbacks. The patent, which Fannie Mae confirmed it still owns with Cantor Fitzgerald subsidiary, gives the mortgage giant a lock on the fledgling carbon trading market, thus also giving it a major financial stake in the success of cap-and-trade legislation.

Besides Raines, the other "inventors" are:

* Former Fannie Vice President and Deputy General Counsel G. Scott Lesmes, who provided legal advice on Fannie Mae's debt and equity offerings;

* Former Fannie Vice President Robert Sahadi, who now runs GreenSpace Investment Financial Services out of his 5,002-square-foot Clarksburg home;

* 2008 Barack Obama fundraiser Kenneth Berlin, an environmental law partner at Skadden Arps;

* Michelle Desiderio, director of the National Green Building Certification program, which trains "green" monitors;

* Former Cantor Fitzgerald employee Elizabeth Arner Cavey, wife of Democratic donor Brian Cavey of the Stanton Park Group, which received $200,000 last year to lobby on climate change legislation; and

* Jane Bartels, widow of former CEO Carlton Bartels. Three weeks before Carlton Bartels was killed in the Sept. 11 attacks, he filed for another patent on the software used in 2003 to set up the Chicago Climate Exchange.

The patent, which covers both the "cap" and "trade" parts of Obama's top domestic energy initiation, gives Fannie Mae proprietary control over an automated trading system that pools and sells credits for hard-to-quantify residential carbon reduction efforts (such as solar panels and high-efficiency appliances) to companies and utilities that don't meet emission reduction targets. Depending on where the Environmental Protection Agency sets arbitrary CO2 standards, that could be every company in America.

The patent summary describes how carbon "and other pollutants yet to be determined" would be "combined into a single emissions pool" and traded -- just as Fannie's toxic portfolio of subprime mortgages were.

"Fannie Mae earns no money on this patent," communications director Amy Bonitatibus told the Washington Examiner. "We can't conjecture as to the cap-and-trade legislation."

But passage of the legislation would create an artificial, government-mandated, trillion-dollar carbon trading market that would drive up the price of energy, indirectly making housing more expensive.

If the proprietary emissions trading system functions like other exchanges such as the New York Stock Exchange, which makes most of its revenue on listing and trading fees, its owners could see extremely generous profits, especially with a patent that keeps out competition for two decades.

So Fannie Mae, a quasi-governmental entity whose congressionally mandated mission is to make housing more affordable, has been a behind-the-scenes participant in a carbon trading scheme that would do just the opposite.

In January, Europol announced that up to 90 percent of the volume in the European Union's own carbon-trading market was fraudulent, costing EU members $5 billion during the previous 18 months. That would be just the tip of the iceberg if the Congress were to make a similar mistake.

But if it does, thanks to Raines and his fellow "inventors," Fannie Mae will be laughing all the way to the (bailed-out) bank.

Barely one-third like McCain's performance, but he's headed for another win

Sen. John McCain got some good and bad news in a new Public Policy Polling survey of the Arizona Senate race (April 23-25, 813 RV, MoE +/- 3.4%). The longtime incumbent polls far better against a Democrat than does his GOP primary opponent, former Rep. J.D. Hayworth.

However, at 34% McCain's job approval rating is 11 points lower than Obama's. Less than 50% of Republicans approve of McCain's job performance, as do only 28% of independents.

With Tucson City Councilman Rodney Glassman (D) unknown to most of the state, McCain bests him in a hypothetical matchup by 16 points while Glassman holds a 3-point lead over Hayworth.

McCain 49 - Glassman 33 - Und 18

Hayworth 39 - Glassman 42 - Und 19

RCP currently classifies the race as Safe Republican.

Former risk manager for Detroit schools indicted

A federal grand jury has indicted the former chief of risk management at Detroit Public Schools, charging Stephen Hill with looting the financially ailing district of more than $3 million for himself, family members and friends, U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade just announced in a news release.

 Also charged in the indictment, unsealed today, are Hill’s onetime assistant, as well as prominent Detroit businesswoman Sherry Washington, 53, and her sister, Dr. Gwendolyn Washington, 66, of Southfield. The Washingtons are accused for their roles as partners in Associates for Learning, a vendor hired to administer a health awareness program for the school district, but which district officials contend performed little work while receiving more than $3 million.

George Will: Arizona sees illegals as lawbreakers; White House sees them as new Democrat voters

"Misguided and irresponsible" is how Arizona's new law pertaining to illegal immigration is characterized by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. She represents San Francisco, which calls itself a "sanctuary city," an exercise in exhibitionism that means it will be essentially uncooperative regarding enforcement of immigration laws. Yet as many states go to court to challenge the constitutionality of the federal mandate to buy health insurance, scandalized liberals invoke 19th-century specters of "nullification" and "interposition," anarchy and disunion. Strange.

It is passing strange for federal officials, including the president, to accuse Arizona of irresponsibility while the federal government is refusing to fulfill its responsibility to control the nation's borders. Such control is an essential attribute of national sovereignty. America is the only developed nation that has a 2,000-mile border with a developing nation, and the government's refusal to control that border is why there are an estimated 460,000 illegal immigrants in Arizona and why the nation, sensibly insisting on first things first, resists "comprehensive" immigration reform.

Arizona's law makes what is already a federal offense -- being in the country illegally -- a state offense. Some critics seem not to understand Arizona's right to assert concurrent jurisdiction. The Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund attacks Gov. Jan Brewer's character and motives, saying she "caved to the radical fringe." This poses a semantic puzzle: Can the large majority of Arizonans who support the law be a "fringe" of their state?

Think Afghanistan is confusing? It's even more baffling if seen in Powerpoint

Baffling: The PowerPoint slide shown to US commanders shows security, economic and political conditions in Afghanistan. The dark blue arrows represent Afghan National Security Forces with the enemy in red. Other arrows highlight corruption, tribal favouritism and drug trafficking

Its coloured charts, graphs and bullet-points are supposed to make the most incomprehensible data crystal clear.

But even the sharpest military minds in American were left baffled by this PowerPoint slide, a mind-boggling attempt to explain the situation in Afghanistan.

'When we understand that slide, we'll have won the war,' General Stanley McChrystal, the US and NATO force commander, remarked wryly when confronted by the sprawling spaghetti diagram in a briefing.

Inquiring minds know what White House says, but what does it mean?

It's time for the Obama administration to bite the bullet and hire a platoon of translators. While claiming to cut health care costs, it raises them. While paying lip service to traditional American values, it runs roughshod over them by thuggishly increasingly the intrusiveness and authority of Washington, with IRS agents assigned to new levels of snooping. When Arizona enacts a meaningful law to curtail illegal immigration, the White House blasts the action.

Now, we have Peter Orszag, President Obama's budget director, expressing concern about the fast-rising deficits with words that stand out only because of their impenetrability..

Out-of-control deficits could "require increased borrowing abroad which will mortgage our future income to foreign creditors," Orszag told the first meeting of the 18-member National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform. Reining in the deficit, which was $1.4 trillion in 2009, would "require significant changes in policy that build on what we have done," Orszag said.

Exactly how does a government change a policy and still "build on what we have done?"

What the Obama administration has done is grow government by seizing the health care industry, which, as part of the private sector, accounted for 13 percent of the national economy. How is building on that going to cut costs, given the obvious fact that government employees make more than comparable workers in the private sector?

Along the same line, how is the Obama administration's new love letter to Wall Street, in the form of a promise of future bailouts for troubled enterprises, going to cut costs? Isn't that love letter more likely to raise costs by encouraging recklessness now that a permanent safety net is being erected?

Public conficence in health care system falls after Obamacare enacted

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Americans are steadily losing confidence in their ability to get healthcare and pay for it, despite the passage of healthcare reform legislation, according to a survey published on Wednesday.

The Thomson Reuters Consumer Healthcare Sentiment Index found that confidence lost three percentage points from a baseline of 100 in December to 97 in March.

"Strikingly, Americans expect the situation to worsen significantly in the next three months," said Gary Pickens, chief research officer at Thomson Reuters.

"The thing I thought was interesting was ... the level of sentiment about future expectations worsened more. The future outlook seems to be causing the people we interviewed angst."

Thomson Reuters interviews more than 100,000 U.S. households annually via telephone surveys about healthcare behaviors, attitudes and utilization. This particular index is based in a subset of 3,000 people, representative of the nation as a whole, interviewed every month.

The survey, published at, finds a steady erosion in confidence.

"I think it may have something to do with the reform legislation," Pickens said in a telephone interview. "Getting legislation through hasn't reassured Americans," he added. "People are being unclear about what it means for them."

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Walking on the wild side - for science

NBC in Chicago finds political gold in redacted Blagoyevich trial documents

Update: Judge calls emergency meeting over redaction errors.

Former governor Rod Blagojevich's defense team asked Thursday to issue a trial subpoena to the President of the United States of America.

The motion, intended to be heavily redacted, was improperly edited -- the full document was easily viewable if the text is copied and pasted to another document (an error first revealed on Capitol Fax).

Below, the six revelations the redacted portions were meant to conceal.

1. Obama may have lied about conversations with convicted fraudster Tony Rezko

2. Obama may have overtly recommended Valerie Jarret for his Senate seat

3. A supporter of President Obama may have offered quid pro quo on a Jarrett senate appointment

4. Obama maintained a list of good Senate candidates

5. Rahm Emanuel allegedly floated Cheryl Jackson's name for the Senate seat

6. Obama had a secret phone call with Blagojevich

The "enthusiasm gap" favors GOP by 20 points

On the heels of yesterday's report showing nearly half of young voters aged 18-29 - a critical piece of Obama's 2008 coalition - are "not enthusiastic" about voting in this year's election, Gallup is out with another body blow for Democrats today with a survey showing that the GOP leads Democrats by 20 points among those voters most enthusiastic about the 2010 midterms.

Among all registered voters, the GOP leads in the generic congressional ballot in the current Gallup survey by just one point, 46 to 45. But among those who are "very enthusiastic" about voting in November, the GOP lead over Democrats balloons to a 57/37 gap:

An ode to Michael Mann, of climate-gate fame

Another reason to repeal Obamacare - unelected health care rationers

A damning health care report generated by actuaries at the Health and Human Services (HHS) Department was given to HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius more than a week before the health care vote. She hid the report from the public until a month after democrats rammed their nationalized health care bill through Congress.

The results from the report were troubling. The report released by Medicare and Medicaid actuaries shows that medical costs will skyrocket rising $389 billion 10 years. 14 million will lose their employer-based coverage. Millions of Americans will be left without insurance. And, millions more may be dumped into the already overwhelmed Medicaid system. 4 million American families will be hit with tax penalties under this new law.

Of course, these were ALL things that President Obama and Democratic leaders assured us would not happen.

IBD: White House let 4.3 million acre Arizona antelope preserve become haven for illegals and drug runners

Arizona moves to protect its citizens from a raging border war, and the administration and its activist supporters cry racism. Why is antelope protection more important than protecting American lives?

"We in Arizona have been more than patient waiting for Washington to act," Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer said Friday after signing a tough new immigration law giving police more power in dealing with illegal immigration. "But decades of inaction and misguided policy have created a dangerous and unacceptable situation."

Arizona's new law is a reminder that the states formed the federal government and not the other way around. One of the federal government's functions was to provide for the security of the new country against foreign enemies and intruders. At this, and particularly under this administration, it has failed miserably.

There are 460,000 illegal aliens in Arizona, a number that increases daily, placing an undue burden on the state's schools, hospitals and law enforcement. Arizona has a window seat to an illegal invasion and on the escalating and violent drug war in Mexico that has put American lives and society at risk.

On March 27, the consequences of a porous and unprotected border claimed the life of Arizona rancher Robert Krentz after he radioed his brother that he was checking out someone he believed to be an illegal immigrant.

Incredibly, his murderer escaped to a pronghorn antelope area that the Interior Department of Secretary Ken Salazar had placed off-limits to U.S. Border Patrol agents.

So unserious is the administration about protecting the border that it has allowed a bureaucratic turf battle between Interior and Homeland Security to let 4.3 million acres of wilderness area become a haven and highway for illegal aliens, drug smugglers, human traffickers and potential terrorists.

What if a foreign bloc decides debt-ridden United States is ready for Soviet-style dissolution?

Early in his presidency, Ronald Reagan and his confidantes assessed the Soviet Union, and came to a bold conclusion: their nemesis was ripe for the taking.

So the Reagan administration began a long and costly upgrade of America's weaponry. The Soviets, predictably, followed suit. The White House could afford the outlays. The Kremlin could not. By the time Reagan left office, early in 1989, the Soviet Union was teetering. Within the next few years, the empire collapsed, leaving Russia isolated and largely reliant on its own resources.

Now, history may be repeating itself. But it is the United States that may become a target for destruction. In his determined effort to destroy markets and aggregate power in Washington, President Obama and the Democrat-controlled Congress have run up levels of debt that would be dangerous even in a peaceful world, where natural disasters, disease and unpredictable events could overmatch the nation's ability to remain solvent.

Because of Social Security obligations and Medicare, a further runup in U.S. indebtedness already is inevitable.

The question is: Is there a hostile leader, or bloc, elsewhere in the world who will try to capitalize on America's financial weakness by forcing us to make huge new outlays that could jeopardize our future? China has no obligation to buy our bonds. It will continue to buy bonds only as long as that is beneficial to the Chinese economy.

If the Chinese stop buying U.S. bonds, who will step into the breach to finance America's transition from a market-based system designed to empower individuals and families to a statist system that arrogates power to a corrupt, self-serving liberal establishment rooted in Washington, the colleges and universities and foundations?

Some Americans already are taking drastic action out of frustration with difficulties in the homeland. The New York Timess reported Monday that growing numbers of overseas Americans are taking the weighty step of renouncing their citizenship.

“'What we have seen is a substantial change in mentality among the overseas community in the past two years,' said Jackie Bugnion, director of American Citizens Abroad, an advocacy group based in Geneva. 'Before, no one would dare mention to other Americans that they were even thinking of renouncing their U.S. nationality. Now, it is an openly discussed issue.'

The Federal Register, the government publication that records such decisions, shows that 502 expatriates gave up their U.S. citizenship or permanent residency status in the last quarter of 2009. That is a tiny portion of the 5.2 million Americans estimated by the State Department to be living abroad.

Still, 502 was the largest quarterly figure in years, more than twice the total for all of 2008, and it looms larger, given how agonizing the decision can be. There were 235 renunciations in 2008 and 743 last year. Waiting periods to meet with consular officers to formalize renunciations have grown."

How to bury a lede and screw up a good story

Sen. Chuck Schumer invited Harry Reid to spend Monday morning with him in Brooklyn, where some of Schumer’s well-heeled friends opened their checkbooks to help the Senate majority leader’s struggling reelection bid.

Democratic Whip Dick Durbin has invited Reid to join him next week in Chicago, where he’ll connect the Nevada Democrat with Windy City business leaders who’ll pour even more money into Reid’s campaign.

For Schumer and Durbin, it’s all part of a delicate dance. While Capitol Hill insiders say the two men appear to be jockeying to show their fellow Democrats that they’d be the logical successors to Reid, they’re also showing Reid unyielding loyalty where it counts: campaign cash.

So, there Schumer was Monday morning, introducing Reid to the big-money developers of the New Jersey Nets’ new $4.9 billion facility in Brooklyn. Schumer told the developers that he and Reid had been “through war together,” and he called the Nevadan his “foxhole buddy,” according to someone who was there.

“He is beloved by our caucus, from the most conservative to the most liberal,” Schumer told the fundraisers on Monday, the source said. “He does a great job of bringing together 59 Democrats of such broad philosophical and geographic diversity. And the egos are not small. What Harry does is amazing.”

Monday’s fundraiser was headlined by Bruce Ratner, the real estate mogul who owns the Nets — and who has donated more than $127,000 to Democrats in recent years.

While Schumer’s office won’t say how much money the event raised for Reid, cash poured in from a number of developers and real estate types. The event came just hours before a procedural vote on a plan to rewrite the rules for Wall Street, but Reid’s office stressed that the donors who turned out Monday weren’t bankers or Wall Street officials — and that, in fact, many work for Ratner’s company as well as for electrical and construction companies.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Obama will now feign concern about a debt crisis his policies have greatly worsened

Bill Gross is used to buying bonds in multibillion-dollar batches. But when it comes to U.S. Treasury bills, he's getting nervous. Gross, a founder of the investment giant Pimco, is so concerned about America's national debt that he has started unloading some of his holdings of U.S. government bonds in favor of bonds from such countries as Germany, Canada and France.

Gross is a bottom-line kind of guy; he doesn't seem to care if the debt is the fault of Republicans or Democrats, the Bush tax cuts or the Obama stimulus. He's simply worried that Washington's habit of spending today the money it hopes to collect tomorrow is getting worse and worse. It even has elements of a Ponzi scheme, Gross told me.

"In order to pay the interest and the bill when it comes due, we'll simply have to issue more IOUs. That, to me, is Ponzi-like," Gross said. "It's a game that can never be finished."

The national debt -- which totaled $8,370,635,856,604.98 as of a few days ago, not even counting the trillions owed by the government to Social Security and other pilfered trust funds -- is rapidly becoming a dominant political issue in Washington and across the country, and not just among the "tea party" crowd. President Obama is feeling the pressure, and on Tuesday he will open the first session of a high-level bipartisan commission that will look for ways to reduce deficits and put the country on a sustainable fiscal path.

It's a tough task. The short term looks awful, and the long term looks hideous. Under any likely scenario, the federal debt will continue to balloon in the years to come. The Congressional Budget Office expects it to reach $20 trillion over the next decade -- and that assumes no new recessions, no new wars and no new financial crises. In the doomsday scenario, foreign investors get spooked and demand higher interest rates to continue bankrolling American profligacy. As rates shoot up, the United States has to borrow more and more simply to pay the interest on its debt, and soon the economy is in a downward spiral.

Of course, at least in theory, this problem can be fixed. Unlike a real Ponzi scheme, which collapses when no new suckers offer money that can be used to pay off earlier investors, the government can restore fiscal sanity whenever our leaders decide to do so.

But that premise is what has people like Gross worried. In addition to running a budget deficit, Washington for years has had a massive deficit of political will.

The multilayered thin blue line

Washington Examiner: White House in "full-fledged credibility crisis" over Blago, GM, Obamacare

Hard on the heels of that shocking Pew Research Center survey finding that four out of five Americans don't trust government comes a blitz of new revelations about the Obama administration that amount to a full-fledged credibility crisis. The latest disclosures are especially damaging because they concern President Obama's possible misrepresentation of his relationships with former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich and convicted felon Tony Rezko, his administration's misleading statements about Obamacare costs, and questions about improper manipulation of government-owned General Motors and the Securities and Exchange Commission.

The Blagojevich revelations were no less serious for being accidental. Blagojevich's defense attorneys filed a federal court motion to subpoena Obama concerning charges that the former governor tried to sell the U.S. Senate seat formerly occupied by the chief executive. Improper formatting of the heavily redacted public version of the motion contained evidence that Obama spoke to Blagojevich about the Senate appointment a week before telling White House reporters that he had not done so. The document also revealed that federal prosecutors are withholding from Blagojevich's attorneys documents describing what Obama told investigators about conversations with Rezko on the appointment or his financial ties to the Chicago developer who was one of his key fundraisers.

On Obamacare, the president and his appointees said repeatedly over the last year that it would reduce government health care spending. Yet now comes Kathleen Sebelius, Obama's Department of Health and Human Services secretary, confessing that "We don't know how much it's going to cost." Why is Sebelius only now saying this when her own department just made public a report obviously months in preparation that projected government health care costs overall will go up, not down? That same HHS report also said Obamacare's Medicare cuts could put 15 percent of all hospitals out of business, making treatment harder to get and more expensive, especially for seniors.

Finally, General Motors claimed in national advertisements this week that it repaid its Troubled Asset Relief Program loans, plus interest, five years early. But the TARP inspector general said GM used other TARP funds to repay its original TARP loans, so the ads were fundamentally dishonest. Recall here that White House adviser Carol Browner told GM and other automakers to "write nothing down" about their dealings last year with administration officials on fuel economy standards. So it seems entirely appropriate to ask if GM's repayment claims were "suggested" by somebody in the Obama White House. That would be the same White House that is also now suspected of improperly influencing the SEC to file fraud charges against Goldman Sachs just as Congress debates Obama's financial reform proposal. As the Obama administration will learn, plummeting public trust eats away at the fundamental credibility of government and undermines its ability to carry out even its most basic duties.

Black Republican rebukes chairman Michael Steele

RNC Chairman Michael Steele said that the GOP has not given blacks a reason to vote Republican. As a black conservative Republican, I ask, what is the GOP suppose to do -- serve soul food at Republican events?

In other words, I reject the concept of dividing Americans into victimized groups and pandering to them. Besides, the Democrats are masters of insulting the intelligence of Americans by playing the old and tattered victim, race, and class envy cards. The GOP does not need to go down the same shameful, disgusting road.

Brother Steele, how about the GOP showing a little respect for the American people by standing up for conservative values and principles? If you do this, they will come. Right-minded Americans of all stripes will join our cause.

So how do you, Chairman Steele, think the GOP should attract more blacks? Do we adopt "liberal lite" policies? Do Republicans prove that they are "down with the brothers" by embracing a lighter version of the lie promoted by the race-exploiting Democrats, by saying that racism is still somewhat of a problem for blacks in America today?

Chairman Steele, you said, "The Republican Party had a hand in forming the NAACP, and yet we have mistreated that relationship." What the heck are you talking about? When President Obama addressed the NAACP and said that racism is still a problem for blacks in America, the audience cheered as if at a baseball game where someone on their team hit a home run. They loved the affirmation of their victim status.

The once-great NAACP has deteriorated into a negative for black America. The organization sold its soul for a seat of power at the liberal Democratic Party table, betraying blacks by keeping them thinking like victims so they will continue voting monolithically Democrat. Why on earth should the Republicans pander to this organization of disgusting race-exploiters?

I am so done with "identity politics." We are all Americans.

Upturn coming; let the bogus back-patting begin

NEW YORK ( -- The recovery is picking up steam as employers boost payrolls, but economists think the government's stimulus package and jobs bill had little to do with the rebound, according to a survey released Monday.

In latest quarterly survey by the National Association for Business Economics, the index that measures employment showed job growth for the first time in two years -- but a majority of respondents felt the fiscal stimulus had no impact.

NABE conducted the study by polling 68 of its members who work in economic roles at private-sector firms. About 73% of those surveyed said employment at their company is neither higher nor lower as a result of the $787 billion Recovery Act, which the White House's Council of Economic Advisers says is on track to create or save 3.5 million jobs by the end of the year.

That sentiment is shared for the recently passed $17.7 billion jobs bill that calls for tax breaks for businesses that hire and additional infrastructure spending. More than two-thirds of those polled believe the measure won't affect payrolls, while 30% expect it to boost hiring "moderately."

But the economists see conditions improving. More than half of respondents -- 57% -- say industrial demand is rising, while just 6% see it declining. A growing number also said their firms are increasing spending and profit margins are widening.

Nearly a quarter of those surveyed forecast that gross domestic product, the broadest measure of economic activity, will grow more than 3% in 2010, and 70% of NABE's respondents expect it to grow more than 2%.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

P.J. O'rourke: Obama is proof of the old insight that A students should never run anything

Barack Obama is more irritating than the other nuisances on the left. Nancy Pelosi needs a session on the ducking stool, of course. But everyone with an ugly divorce has had a Nancy. She’s vexatious and expensive to get rid of, but it’s not like we give a damn about her. Harry Reid is going house-to-house selling nothing anybody wants. Slam the door on him and the neighbor’s Rottweiler will do the rest. And Barney Frank is self-punishing. Imagine being trapped inside Barney Frank.

The secret to the Obama annoyance is snotty lecturing. His tone of voice sends us back to the worst place in college. We sit once more packed into the vast, dreary confines of a freshman survey course—“Rocks for Jocks,” “Nuts and Sluts,” “Darkness at Noon.” At the lectern is a twerp of a grad student—the prototypical A student—insecure, overbearing, full of himself and contempt for his students. All we want is an easy three credits to fulfill a curriculum requirement in science, social science, or fine arts. We’ve got a mimeographed copy of last year’s final with multiple choice answers already written on our wrists. The grad student could skip his classes, the way we intend to, but there the s.o.b. is, taking attendance. (How else to explain this year’s census?)

America has made the mistake of letting the A student run things. It was A students who briefly took over the business world during the period of derivatives, credit swaps, and collateralized debt obligations. We’re still reeling from the effects. This is why good businessmen have always adhered to the maxim: “A students work for B students.” Or, as a businessman friend of mine put it, “B students work for C students—A students teach.”

It was a bunch of A students at the Defense Department who planned the syllabus for the Iraq war, and to hell with what happened to the Iraqi Class of ’03 after they’d graduated from Shock and Awe.

The U.S. tax code was written by A students. Every April 15 we have to pay somebody who got an A in accounting to keep ourselves from being sent to jail.

Now there’s health care reform—just the kind of thing that would earn an A on a term paper from that twerp of a grad student who teaches Econ 101.

Biggest beneficiaries of Goldman Sachs cash

Top 10 Politicians Receiving Donations from Goldman Sachs
by Human Events

(Based on Federal Election Commission filings during the 2008 election cycle)

1. Sen. Barack Obama (presidential candidate) $996,595

2. Sen. Hillary Clinton (presidential candidate) $411,150

3. Mitt Romney (presidential candidate) $234,275

4. Sen. John McCain (presidential candidate) $230,095

5. Rep. Jim Himes (D.-Conn.) $155,098

6. Sen. Chris Dodd (D.-Conn.) $112,500

7. Rudy Giuliani (presidential candidate) $111,750

8. John Edwards (presidential candidate) $66,450

* 9. Sen. Arlen Specter (R.-Pa.) $47,600

10. Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D.-Ill.) $37,750

*Specter became a Democrat in 2009

Dems usually win money chase on Wall Street

Back in 2006, Democrats began a hard sell on Wall Street led by New York senator Chuck Schumer and then-representative Rahm Emanuel, now White House chief of staff. The basic pitch was that Democrats were taking Congress, and the financial world should get on board - surely delivered with all the bare-knuckled subtlety for which those two are justly renowned.

Democrats beat Republicans in the Wall Street money chase in 2006, and kept on going. In the 2008 election cycle, Democrats garnered 73 percent of the political donations of Goldman Sachs, as well as the majority of donations from other financial giants such as UBS and Citigroup. They soaked up most of the hedge-fund money, and won the battle for donations from industries as varied as health care, defense, and law.

After Voltaire attended his first orgy and was invited back again, he declined on grounds that once was an experiment, but twice would be perverse. Its experiment has gone horribly wrong, yet Wall Street has persisted in its perversity.

At the end of last year, the Center for Responsive Politics wrote of hedge funds and private equity firms, "This election cycle is proving to be the most left-leaning for the industry." And it wasn't just finance. "Democrats have an enormous lead in almost every business sector they denounce," NR's Kevin D. Williamson noted in January.

Be afraid; Dems trying to require same-day voting, a tried-and-true formula for fraud, in every state

...Wisconsin Sen. Russ Feingold, a Democrat, has introduced federal legislation to mandate same-day registration in every state, claiming the system has worked well in his state. Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York is readying a bill to override the election laws of all 50 states and require universal voter registration—which would automatically register anyone on key government lists. This is a move guaranteed to create duplicate registrations, register some illegal aliens, and sow confusion.

We are in danger of forgetting the lessons of the 2000 recount debacle in Florida. Election laws should be clear, simple, applied equally, and balance ease of voting with the need for ballot integrity. A unanimous Supreme Court warned about the danger of loose election laws when it vacated a Ninth Circuit opinion, which had enjoined the use of Arizona's new voter ID law on the grounds it would disenfranchise voters.

The court made the obvious point that "disenfranchisement" is a two-way street. Fraud, it noted in Gonzales v. Arizona (2006), "drives honest citizens out of the democratic process. . . . [V]oters who fear their legitimate votes will be outweighed by fraudulent ones will feel disenfranchised."

What almost happened in Wisconsin this month—and could happen in Washington later this year—would increase chances of future Florida-style meltdowns and further undermine confidence in our election system.

Cartoonists, like comics, defy Islamic bullies

After Comedy Central cut a portion of a South Park episode following a death threat from a radical Muslim group, Seattle cartoonist Molly Norris wanted to counter the fear. She has declared May 20th "Everybody Draw Mohammed Day."

Norris told KIRO Radio's Dave Ross that cartoonists are meant to challenge the lines of political correctness. "That's a cartoonist's job, to be non-PC."

Producers of South Park said Thursday that Comedy Central removed a speech about intimidation and fear from their show after a radical Muslim group warned that they could be killed for insulting the Prophet Muhammad.

The group said it wasn't threatening South Park producers Trey Parker and Matt Stone, but it included a gruesome picture of Theo Van Gogh, a Dutch filmmaker killed by a Muslim extremist in 2004, and said the producers could meet the same fate. The website posted the addresses of Comedy Central's New York office and the California production studio where South Park is made.

Sun claims win after powerhouse cap-trade coalition - Kerry, Graham, Lieberman - melts

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Monday's unveiling of a compromise Senate climate bill was postponed on Saturday, Democratic Senator John Kerry said, after a dispute arose over unrelated immigration reform legislation.

Republican Senator Lindsey Graham said earlier on Saturday he would have to pull out of the bipartisan climate change effort because of concerns Democrats would push forward with a debate on immigration reform, rather than the climate change bill, in the Senate.

Kerry said he hoped to keep working for passage of a climate bill.

He said that after more than six months of detailed meetings with Graham and independent Senator Joseph Lieberman, "we believe that we had reached" an agreement on the details of a bill to reduce smokestack emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases associated with global warming.

They were planning to outline those details at a news conference on Monday that would have been attended by some environmental and industry representatives.

"But regrettably, external issues have arisen that force us to postpone only temporarily" the Senate's work on the climate bill that also would have expanded U.S. nuclear power generation and offshore oil drilling.

Arizona - ground zero in new immigration brawl

Saturday, April 24, 2010

How the gecko lost his voice temporarily

The Tea Party community and its ethos of decentralized leadership and individual freedom is under an orchestrated attack from left-wing apparatchiks, elected Democrats, and their cheerleaders in the liberal media. Having suffered through bomb scares, hostile abuse, death threats, and racial slurs, we are now called every epithet in Webster’s, from “phony,” to “astroturf,” “redneck,” “racist,” “domestic terrorist,” “mentally retarded,” “seditionist,” and “potential killer.”All this because we choose to petition our government in peaceful protest for a redress of policy grievances? For practicing our First Amendment rights, they smear our moral character. It’s as if they are afraid to debate their big government ideas on the merits.

Its time to draw a line in the sand. Its time to call out the bad actors, the crashers, and the haters. We judge people as fellow individuals, based on the content of their character, and based on their individual actions. We will self-police our community and let openness, sunlight, and transparency shine the spotlight on individuals behaving badly.

So when we received the hostile message left on a FreedomWorks’ staffer’s phone by D.C. Douglas (a.k.a., Lance Baxter), with return phone number, we checked him out. He is the voice actor who does the Geico ads. (Not the gecko, thank goodness). We posted his message calling us and all tea partiers “mentally retarded” on We asked tea partiers to call him and Geico customer service and let them know that they were not, in fact, mentally retarded killers.

Geico cut D.C. Douglas loose.

Now the perpetrator claims to be the victim. Me, I’m a “douche bag.”

There is power in accountability. You have it, that power to speak up, to act in non-violent civil disobedience. As the Reverend C.L Bryant asked the crowd of 40,000 peaceful protestors gathered on the Washington Mall at last Thursday’s Tax Day Tea Party: “Is there any one out there that will stand up for American principle?”

How did Wall Street get flawed mortgage securities past raters? Reverse engineering

One of the mysteries of the financial crisis is how mortgage investments that turned out to be so bad earned credit ratings that made them look so good.

One answer is that Wall Street was given access to the formulas behind those magic ratings — and hired away some of the very people who had devised them.

In essence, banks started with the answers and worked backward, reverse-engineering top-flight ratings for investments that were, in some cases, riskier than ratings suggested, according to former agency employees.

The major credit rating agencies, Moody’s, Standard & Poor’s and Fitch, drew renewed criticism on Friday on Capitol Hill for failing to warn of the dangers posed by complex investments like the one that has drawn Goldman Sachs into a legal whirlwind.

But while the agencies have come under fire before, the extent to which they collaborated with Wall Street banks has drawn less notice.

The rating agencies made public computer models that were used to devise ratings to make the process less secretive. That way, banks and others issuing bonds — companies and states, for instance — wouldn’t be surprised by a weak rating that could make it harder to sell the bonds or that would require them to offer a higher interest rate.

But by routinely sharing their models, the agencies in effect gave bankers the tools to tinker with their complicated mortgage deals until the models produced the desired ratings.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Another marvel from Hubble

NASA is releasing today a brand new Hubble photo of a small portion of one of the largest seen star-birth regions in the galaxy, the Carina Nebula. Towers of cool hydrogen laced with dust rise from the wall of the nebula. The scene is reminiscent of Hubble's classic "Pillars of Creation" photo from 1995, but is even more striking in appearance. The image captures the top of a three-light-year-tall pillar of gas and dust that is being eaten away by the brilliant light from nearby bright stars. The pillar is also being pushed apart from within, as infant stars buried inside it fire off jets of gas that can be seen streaming from towering peaks like arrows sailing through the air.

The leftist poseur in the White House lets it be known he is on guard for Arizona's illegal aliens

The entry level requirement for leftist intellectual poseurs is a willingness to speak nonsense while pretending to reveal undeniable truth.

On Friday, President-for-the-time-being Barack Obama easily met the challenge.

Speaking at a Rose Garden ceremony to naturalize 24 U.S. military personnel, Obama aid he had instructed his staff to "closely monitor the situation" to make sure that Arizona's new immigration law doesn’t violate people's civil liberties.

By the way, what are the odds that the Rose Garden ceremony just happened to take place as the Arizona law was taking effect. More likely, it was another snotty, defiant act by the poseur who regularly disgraces the White House with adolescent antics.

The only mystery here is which people's civil liberties Obama has in mind. Under the Arizona law, illegal immigrants have fewer liberties, or rights, than American citizens. In recent years, however, the intellectual class has ignored the claims of American citizens while wailing about illegal immigrants who don't even have health insurance and have to lower themselves to using hospital emergency rooms.

It's safe to assume that Obama was talking about the "liberties" of the illegal aliens who may be inconvenienced by the new law.

The question is, why don't Obama and his fellow poseurs even consider the rights of American citizens, who see their wages frozen or lowered by the competition of foreign workers, and in some cases can no longer get even a low-paying job because illegals will take what they can get.

Precisely how, in the minds of the intellectual poseurs, did American citizens lose their rights to illegal aliens who, in some regions, come and go as they please? And why is Obama now poised to spring to the defense of illegals while remaining silent, or even oblivious, to the deprivations that befall American citizens because of governmental inaction on illegal immigration?

Who does this White House represent?

Please answer that question before election day.

Gallup: GOP beating Dems at attracting indies

PRINCETON, NJ -- The advantage in public support the Democratic Party built up during the latter part of the Bush administration and the early part of the Obama administration has all but disappeared. During the first quarter of 2010, 46% of Americans identified as Democrats or leaned Democratic, while 45% identified as or leaned Republican.

The latest results, based on aggregated data from Gallup polls conducted from January to March of this year, show the closest party division since the first quarter of 2005, when the parties were tied at 46%. Democrats enjoyed double-digit advantages in party support in 11 of 12 quarters from the second quarter of 2006 to the first quarter of 2009.

By the end of last year, the Democratic advantage had shrunk to five points (47% to 42%), and it narrowed further in the most recent quarter.

The six-point rise in Republican support since the first quarter of 2009 is due entirely to a growing proportion of independents who lean to the Republican Party, rather than an increase in the percentage of Americans who identify as Republicans outright. (Gallup measures party identification by first asking Americans whether they identify as Republicans, Democrats, or independents. Those who are independent or express no party preference are then asked whether they lean more toward the Democratic or the Republican Party.)

Henry Louis Gates Jr. on a remarkable, but often ignored, aspect of the African slave trade

Thanks to an unlikely confluence of history and genetics — the fact that he is African-American and president — Barack Obama has a unique opportunity to reshape the debate over one of the most contentious issues of America’s racial legacy: reparations, the idea that the descendants of American slaves should receive compensation for their ancestors’ unpaid labor and bondage.

There are many thorny issues to resolve before we can arrive at a judicious (if symbolic) gesture to match such a sustained, heinous crime. Perhaps the most vexing is how to parcel out blame to those directly involved in the capture and sale of human beings for immense economic gain.

While we are all familiar with the role played by the United States and the European colonial powers like Britain, France, Holland, Portugal and Spain, there is very little discussion of the role Africans themselves played. And that role, it turns out, was a considerable one, especially for the slave-trading kingdoms of western and central Africa. These included the Akan of the kingdom of Asante in what is now Ghana, the Fon of Dahomey (now Benin), the Mbundu of Ndongo in modern Angola and the Kongo of today’s Congo, among several others.

For centuries, Europeans in Africa kept close to their military and trading posts on the coast. Exploration of the interior, home to the bulk of Africans sold into bondage at the height of the slave trade, came only during the colonial conquests, which is why Henry Morton Stanley’s pursuit of Dr. David Livingstone in 1871 made for such compelling press: he was going where no (white) man had gone before.

How did slaves make it to these coastal forts? The historians John Thornton and Linda Heywood of Boston University estimate that 90 percent of those shipped to the New World were enslaved by Africans and then sold to European traders. The sad truth is that without complex business partnerships between African elites and European traders and commercial agents, the slave trade to the New World would have been impossible, at least on the scale it occurred.

In Florida the Tea Party gets the arrows, but it's a reform agenda that drives Rubio's success

Marco Rubio appeared on a Sunday talk show this month to say something remarkable. The Republican running for Florida's Senate seat suggested we reform Social Security by raising the retirement age for younger workers. Florida is home to 2.4 million senior citizens who like to vote. The blogs declared Mr. Rubio politically suicidal.

The response from Mr. Rubio's primary competitor, Gov. Charlie Crist, was not remarkable. His campaign slammed Mr. Rubio's idea as "cruel, unusual and unfair to seniors living on a fixed income." Mr. Crist's plan for $17.5 trillion in unfunded Social Security liabilities? Easy! He'll root out "fraud" and "waste."

Let's talk Republican "civil war." Not the one the media is hawking, that pits supposed tea party fanatics like Mr. Rubio against supposed "moderates" like Mr. Crist. The Republican Party is split. But the real divide is between reformers like Mr. Rubio and Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan, who are running on principles and tough issues, and a GOP old guard that still finds it politically expedient to duck or demagogue issues. As Republicans look for a way out of the wilderness, this is the rift that matters.

And it's the divide playing out in Florida, even if that's not the press's preferred narrative. In conventional-wisdom world, Mr. Rubio is the darling of an angry grass roots, surging at the expense of the postpartisan Mr. Crist.

Gov. Chris Christie takes on New Jersey's teachers and bloated school bureaucracy, and still lives

You haven’t made it in New Jersey until organized labor wants you dead. By that measure, Chris Christie is already one of the most influential governors in the Garden State’s — shall we say, colorful history. Just a few months into his term, Christie has taken the fight to the blood-engorged leech of a public sector so quickly and so hard that one teacher-union apparatchik sent an e-mail to thousands praying for his untimely demise.

But Chris Christie lives. And nearly two-thirds of the state’s bloated school budgets are not so lucky, having perished at the polls — the local tax levy proposed by each school district in New Jersey is subject to voter approval — in greater proportion than in any year since 1976. This is undoubtedly a win for New Jersey taxpayers, who recognize the necessity, if not the palatability, of Christie’s strong fiscal medicine in a state that teeters on the brink of bankruptcy even as it pays the highest tax burden in the nation.

Faced with an $11 billion hole in a $30 billion budget, Christie used his broad constitutional discretion (New Jersey’s is arguably the most powerful governorship in the Union) to wield not a scalpel or an axe, but a scalpel the size of an axe against a Trenton machine rivaled only by Chicago and Albany in sheer size and scope.

As part of his efforts, he cut state aid to school districts by about 5 percent of their total budgets. Predictably, as school boards across the state pondered cutting programs like music and athletics to make up for the shortfall, the powerful New Jersey Education Association and its affiliates raged at the prospect of layoffs, even though new teacher hires in the state have grown far faster than enrollment, and have continued to grow even as the rest of the economy shed jobs.

“Think of the children!” the unions cried. But Christie called the bluff, promising to restore aid for districts whose staffs agreed to one-year pay freezes (not even cuts mind you, much less permanent ones) and to pay 1.5 percent of their salary into their exorbitant benefits packages (the vast majority currently pay 0 percent). Of the state’s 591 active school districts, fewer than two dozen have so far agreed to the concessions.

Research debunks theory and law that teacher development improves student performance

Another study was released this month showing that teacher professional development programs are no guarantor of higher student achievement. The research compared middle school math teachers who were enrolled in an intensive professional development program with teachers who were not and found that students of teachers receiving the extra training failed to perform any better than students of teachers in the control group. This same method was employed by a study a few years ago that found professional development to be just as inept at raising student reading scores.

This research calls into question a Michigan law requiring all teachers to receive a minimum of five days of professional development annually. Many of the activities that qualify as professional development have little to do with improving student performance anyway and are less intensive than the ones used in the aforementioned studies. Additionally, state law allows school districts to count up to 51 hours of teacher professional development as part of 1,098 required hours of pupil instruction, meaning these days often come at the expense of school's limited instructional time.

These studies support the evidence showing that the best predictor of a teacher's ability to raise student achievement is the teachers' own academic ability in the subjects they teach, not how many degrees they've earned or time they logged in professional development training. Unfortunately, this factor contributes very little to determining who becomes a state-certified teacher and which of these are subsequently hired.

Andy Stern leaves SEIU in same shape as Obama's America - broke, deeply in debt and angry

Purple may be the official color of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), but Andy Stern is leaving the union deep in the red. Last week, he surprised the labor community by announcing his resignation as president of SEIU. Mr. Stern has claimed victories in helping pass health care legislation and getting President Obama elected, but his impact within his own organization shows gaping budget deficits and massive underfunding of pensions.

SEIU has seen its liabilities skyrocket during the past decade. The union's liabilities totaled $7,625,832 in 2000. By 2009, they had increased almost by a factor of 16, to $120,893,259. Meanwhile, SEIU's assets barely tripled, growing from $66,632,631 in 2000 to $187,664,763 in 2009. A significant portion of SEIU's current assets are from IOUs from hard-up locals.

SEIU is $85 million in debt, down from its 2008 high of $102 million, and has been forced to lay off employees. Mr. Stern has led protests against Bank of America, calling for the firing of Chief Executive Ken Lewis. Yet the union owes $80 million to Bank of America and $5 million to Amalgamated Bank, which is owned by the rival union Unite-Here.

SEIU's pensions are in even worse shape. Both of SEIU's two national pension plans, the SEIU National Industry Pension Fund and the Pension Plan for Employees of the SEIU, issued critical-status letters last year. The Pension Protection Act requires any pension fund that is funded below 65 percent of what it needs to pay its obligations to inform its beneficiaries of the deficit.

Many SEIU local pension plans are in as bad a shape as the national plans - if not worse. In 2007, well before the financial meltdown, the SEIU Local 32BJ Building Maintenance Contractors Association Pension Plan was funded at an anemic 41 percent, the SEIU 1199 Greater New York Pension Fund at 58 percent, the 32BJ District Building Operators Pension Trust Fund at 56 percent, and the Service Employees 32BJ North Pension Fund at 68 percent.

Unionists demand tax increases

GM repaid bailout money with other bailout money

A top Senate Republican on Thursday accused the Obama administration of misleading taxpayers about General Motors' loan repayment, saying the struggling auto giant was only able to repay its bailout money by dipping into a separate pot of bailout money.

Sen. Chuck Grassley's charge was backed up by the inspector general for the bailout -- also known as the Trouble Asset Relief Program, or TARP. Watchdog Neil Barofsky told Fox News, as well as the Senate Finance Committee, that General Motors used bailout money to pay back the federal government.

"It appears to be nothing more than an elaborate TARP money shuffle," Grassley, the ranking Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, said in a letter Thursday to Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner.

GM announced Wednesday that it had paid back the $8.1 billion in loans it received from the U.S. and Canadian governments. Of that, $6.7 billion went to the U.S. treasury.

But Grassley said in his letter that a Securities and Exchange Commission form filed by GM showed that $6.7 billion of the tens of billions the company received was sitting in an escrow account and available to be used for repayment. He called on Geithner to provide more information about why the company was allowed to use bailout money to repay bailout money, and how much of the remaining escrow money GM would be allowed to keep.

"The bottom line seems to be that the TARP loans were 'repaid' with other TARP funds in a Treasury escrow account. The TARP loans were not repaid from money GM is earning selling cars, as GM and the administration have claimed in their speeches, press releases and television commercials," he wrote.

Unionists laying claim to your pocketbook