Monday, May 31, 2010

Ground Zero is "a site of mourning turned into a symbol of defiance turned into a metaphor of American incompetence"

More than eight years after a gang of Arabs murdered 3,000 Americans, no one argues that the U.S. government has managed to avenge our fellow citizens, much less ensure our peace, safety, and "Enduring Freedom." Nearly a decade after September 11, lower Manhattan's Ground Zero remains a hole—in Bret Stephens's words, "a site of mourning turned into a symbol of defiance turned into a metaphor of American incompetence." Only a third of Americans now tell pollsters that we are winning against the terrorists. Two-thirds of respondents are angry with their government; about half of these are "very angry," having lost faith in its capacity to perform even basic functions. Rasmussen reports that although a third of those polled think the country's best days are ahead, a majority believes that America's future will be worse than its past.

For decades, under Democrats and Republicans, liberal internationalists, neoconservatives, and realists, the U.S. government let the terrorist wave build. Then after 9/11 it spent over 5,000 American lives in Afghanistan and Iraq without achieving anything that it had promised, while conducting a self-discrediting diplomacy toward Iran, Russia, North Korea, and China. At home, the Homeland Security department diminished our liberty without increasing our security. In this respect, the differences among Presidents Barack Obama, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George H.W. Bush, Jimmy Carter, and Richard Nixon, and among Secretaries of State Hillary Clinton, Condoleezza Rice, Madeleine Albright, Warren Christopher, George Shultz, and Henry Kissinger, are less important than their similarities: the "small war" of terrorist acts that has beset us since the 1960s—infinitesimal as wars go—was enough to expose our bipartisan ruling class's incomprehension and incompetence. America's problem is that this class has set the country on a downward slope in foreign as well as domestic matters, and that it is increasingly difficult to imagine America on any other trajectory with it at the helm.

What would happen if a hurricane hit an oil slick in the Gulf?

What will the hurricane do to the oil slick in the Gulf?

• The high winds and seas will mix and “weather” the oil which can help accelerate the biodegradation process.

• The high winds may distribute oil over a wider area, but it is difficult to model exactly where the oil may be transported.

• Movement of oil would depend greatly on the track of the hurricane.

• Storms’ surges may carry oil into the coastline and inland as far as the surge reaches. Debris resulting from the hurricane may be contaminated by oil from the Deepwater Horizon incident, but also from other oil releases that may occur during the storm.

• A hurricane’s winds rotate counter-clockwise.


■A hurricane passing to the west of the oil slick could drive oil to the coast.

■A hurricane passing to the east of the slick could drive the oil away from the coast.

■However, the details of the evolution of the storm, the track, the wind speed, the size, the forward motion and the intensity are all unknowns at this point and may alter this general statement.

MMS director Liz Birnbaum had focused on an Atlantic wind project, but takes the fall for the Gulf oil spill mess

Minerals Management Service Director Liz Birnbaum might have kept her job a little longer if she'd stayed in her office and kept her phone on the hook yesterday.

Instead, she was forced to resign in a move that highlights the Obama administration's struggle to stay ahead of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill crisis. The ongoing spill is flinging loose years of dirty laundry from the agency Birnbaum ran for less than a year.

The now-ex MMS director was in her office early yesterday, preparing to testify before an congressional panel about the agency's role in handling BP's massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, as she had several times in recent weeks.


"She's being made a scapegoat," said one acquaintance.

Her focus on the Cape Wind project is supported by the fact that it was the first thing Salazar mentioned about Birnbaum as he praised her service to the committee.

"She helped us on issues of offshore wind in the Atlantic," Salazar said. "All I can really tell the committee is she is a good public servant."

In dark days before Obama the unschooled spoke of navel gazing

What exactly is the job of the president of the United States? Let's ask the man who currently holds that position, Barack Obama:

My job right now is just to make sure that everybody in the Gulf understands this is what I wake up to in the morning and this is what I go to bed at night thinking about: the spill.

Obama's job description is fascinating. He has been depicted as a proponent of "activist government," but this may be a bum rap. Now he tells us he thinks that if he somehow gets people to think about him and how much he's thinking about what he thinks they think he should be thinking about, his job is done.

Which raises only two questions: First, if the requirements of his job are so modest, why is he still having trouble meeting them? Second, couldn't all this cogitation be done at a cost of less than $3.5 trillion a year?

Why would Sestak abandon Senate pursuit for "a trifle?"

Is there a political errand that requires skirting the law and resorting to lawyerly evasion should it come to light? William Jefferson Clinton, reporting for duty, sir!
With the addition of Bill Clinton to a mix that included a Friday news dump and an exquisitely crafted exculpatory document from the White House counsel's office, the Joe Sestak job-offer scandal acquired a retro feel. Who knew "hope and change" would feel so 1998?

The Sestak affair boiled over during the last week. The Democratic congressman said months ago that the White House had attempted to keep him out of the Senate primary in Pennsylvania against party-switcher Arlen Specter by dangling a job offer. No one paid much attention until Sestak won, and when pressed on the Sunday shows, refused to say anything more about the matter in a Tony-worthy impression of "A Man with Something to Hide."

The White House kept insisting "trust us, nothing untoward happened," until even Democrats began to say they should be more forthcoming. That produced Friday's revelation of Clinton's involvement as an emissary to Sestak, and a 11/4-page long White House counsel "report" that sought to put the matter to rest in a matter of a mere seven paragraphs.

The document suggests that, at the behest of the White House, Clinton offered Sestak an unpaid position on a presidential advisory board to get him to stand down.

He might have had better luck if he'd offered him a choice Capitol Hill parking space. For a sitting congressman and former three-star admiral like Sestak, a spot on an advisory commission would be a nuisance to be avoided rather than a plum to be coveted, let alone at the price of his senatorial ambitions.

It's almost inconceivable that practiced political hands like Clinton and Rahm Emanuel, the White House chief of staff behind the gambit, would have considered such a trifle sufficient enticement to sway Sestak. Besides, the advisory role doesn't jibe with Sestak's words or body language over the last three months, all of which suggested he'd been offered a real, honest-to-goodness job - you know, one with a salary and maybe even health benefits and an office.

Judicial Watch: Either Sestak lied or official committed a felony

Rep. Sestak’s allegations are extremely serious and yet we’ve heard nothing from the Obama White House so far but vague denials of wrongdoing and outright stonewalling.

It’s time for everyone involved in this scandal to come clean. There is simply no wiggle room. Either Sestak lied about the federal job offer or someone at the White House likely committed a felony. It’s that simple.

Attorney General Eric Holder’s refusal to appoint a special counsel in the matter is a disgrace and will not stand.

This latest bribery allegation reflects a disturbing pattern by the Obama White House. We still don’t have all the details about involvement of Obama administration officials in the sale of Obama’s former Illinois U.S. Senate seat by Rod Blagojevich. And we still don’t have answers about the charge that Obama Deputy Chief of Staff Jim Messina offered a federal job to Colorado Democratic Senate candidate Andrew Romanoff to keep him out of the Senate race. There is also the report that President Obama tried to push disgruntled White House Counsel Greg Craig out of the White House by offering a federal judgeship on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. And now we have Joe Sestak.

The Chicago Machine has truly come to Washington.

Nick Gillespie takes on a faded relic oozing faded leftist rhetoric

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Things to look forward to: hearings on confirmation, or rejection, of Dr. Death as director of Medicare-Medicaid

During the debate over ObamaCare, the bill's opponents were excoriated for talk of rationing and "death panels." And in fairness, with a few minor exceptions governing Medicare reimbursements, the law does not directly ration care or allow the government to dictate how doctors practice medicine.

But if President Obama wanted to keep a lid on that particular controversy, he just selected about the worst possible nominee for director of the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the office that oversees government health care programs. Obama's pick, Dr. Donald Berwick, is an outspoken admirer of the British National Health Service and its rationing arm, the National Institute for Clinical Effectiveness (NICE).

"I am romantic about the National Health Service. I love it," Berwick said during a 2008 speech to British physicians, going on to call it "generous, hopeful, confident, joyous, and just." He compared the wonders of British health care to a U.S. system that he described as trapped in "the darkness of private enterprise."

As it becomes apparent that that ObamaCare is unsustainable, the calls for controlling its costs through rationing will grow louder.

Berwick was referring to a British health care system where 750,000 patients are awaiting admission to NHS hospitals. The government's official target for diagnostic testing was a wait of no more than 18 weeks by 2008. The reality doesn't come close. The latest estimates suggest that for most specialties, only 30 to 50 percent of patients are treated within 18 weeks. For trauma and orthopedics patients, the figure is only 20 percent.

Overall, more than half of British patients wait more than 18 weeks for care. Every year, 50,000 surgeries are canceled because patients become too sick on the waiting list to proceed.

The one thing the NHS is good at is saving money. After all, it is far cheaper to let the sick die than to provide care.

At the forefront of this cost-based rationing is NICE. It acts as a comparative-effectiveness tool for NHS, comparing various treatments and determining whether the benefits the patient receives, such as prolonged life, are cost-efficient for the government.

LA Times: Census should stop counting illegal immigrants as citizens because it adds power to states that shield illegals

Official political innumeracy, enshrined in the census, steals our democracy. We count illegal immigrants the same as citizens and assign states congressional seats accordingly. This awards some states more representatives than they deserve. The census should, instead, count citizens separately, and Congress should reapportion representatives only on the basis of citizen populations. That would ensure that the votes of citizens in all parts of the country are as nearly equal as possible.

Although this largely unrecognized problem doesn't garner headlines, the failure to fix the census may have greater consequences as our political realities change. The unpleasantness in Arizona since it passed a tough immigration law is a likely prelude to infinitely more divisive conflicts.

The Constitution contains a mandate for a census. One of its stated objectives is to enable the proper apportionment of representation, state by state, in the House of Representatives. From the start, however, apportionment has been a mangled affair, a stain on our claim to be a true and fair representative democracy.

The deal worked out in Philadelphia in 1787 counted slaves as three-fifths of a person, even though they could not vote. The third U.S. Congress, meeting from 1793 to 1795, relied on the census of 1790 to apportion its 106 House members. Southern slave states were overrepresented by 10 seats as a result, after applying the three-fifths rule. No one even pretended that the slaves who accounted for those extra seats had any representation at all. The long-term consequences of such unfairness proved catastrophic.

U.S invasion of Iraq was poorly planned and undermanned

LONDON (Reuters) – Planning for the 2003 invasion of Iraq was inadequate and not enough troops were sent to ensure post-conflict security, the former U.S. diplomat who led the civilian occupation authority after the war has told a British inquiry.

Paul Bremer, who governed Iraq’s Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) for 13 months after President Saddam Hussein was toppled, said there had been a serious miscalculation by those responsible for planning the invasion.

“It is impossible to exaggerate the difficulties created by the chronic under-resourcing of the CPA’s efforts,” Bremer said in a statement, made public Friday, to an inquiry examining Britain’s role in the war.

“This problem, and the fact that the coalition was unable to provide adequate security for Iraqi citizens, pervaded virtually everything we did, or tried to do, throughout the 14 months of the CPA’s existence.”

Arizona's immigration law prompting immigrants to leave

Reports are surfacing around the Valley that illegal-immigrant families with school-age children are fleeing Arizona because of a new immigration law.

Some school officials say enough parents and students have told them they plan to leave the state this summer to indicate Hispanic enrollment could drop at some schools. But there’s no way to know exactly how many illegal immigrants will depart because schools do not inquire about a student’s or a family’s legal status.

Many Latino-heavy school districts say the recession already has pushed many of their families out of state to look for work. The passage of Senate Bill 1070, which widens enforcement of immigration law, has tipped the balance for some parents who tried to stick it out.

For schools, the impact could be loss of students and, as a result, loss of state funding and parent support. The state could see savings.

Despite signs of an exodus, the picture remains murky.

Teachers and principals at Alhambra elementary schools in west Phoenix, for example, are saying goodbye to core volunteer parents, who tell them that the new migration law threatens their family stability and that they must leave. The district expects the new law to drive out an extra 200 to 300 students over the summer.

Daily Caller finds Obama even-handed on Gulf and golf

Critics have called the Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion “Obama’s Katrina,” and argued that the disaster could signal the decline of Obama’s presidency. Their evidence? The president is visiting the affected areas for just a second time*— 38 days after the Deepwater burst into flames. Below you’ll find a parallel of timeline juxtaposing the tragedy in the gulf and the president’s golf games.

April 22: The Deepwater Horizon drilling platform, which had been burning for two days, sinks into the gulf. President Obama, after speaking in New York about the significance of financial regulatory legislation, hosts an Earth Day celebration in the Rose Garden.

April 23: The U.S. Coastguard pronounces 11 Deepwater workers dead after traveling almost 2,000 miles throughout the gulf in search of their bodies. The president and First Lady Michelle Obama travel to North Carolina for a brief vacation, where they enjoy BBQ.

April 24: Coast Guard Rear Admiral Mary Landry announces that the Deepwater wellhead is spewing crude oil into the Gulf of Mexico. The president and first lady continue to enjoy their vacation in North Carolina.

April 26: A remote sub fails to stop the leak. Just four days after the explosion, the spill covers an area the size of Rhode Island. After hosting a ceremony for the New York Yankees, Obama travels to Andrews Air Force Base for a game of golf.

Islamic populations not impressed by Obama's reset efforts

Taking back some of the gains U.S. leadership enjoyed in 2009, four out of six Arab League countries Gallup has surveyed each year since 2008 are now less approving of U.S. leadership than they were in fall 2009. Egyptians’ approval ratings have declined the most since last fall (18 percentage points), followed by Algerians’ (13 points). Approval did not decline significantly in Iraq or the Palestinian Territories as the changes are within the margin of error.

The dips in U.S. leadership approval were recorded in Gallup surveys conducted in February and April 2010, ahead of the one-year anniversary of President Barack Obama’s June 4, 2009, Cairo address, which aimed to restart U.S. relations with Muslim societies. [...]

The country where Obama delivered his high-profile speech to the Muslim world is also the one where the swings in approval have been the largest. The precipitous decline in 2010 may reflect a perceived lack of progress on the issues many Egyptians said in May 2008 were most significant to improving their opinion of the United States: pulling out of Iraq, removing military bases from Saudi Arabia, supporting the rights of Muslims to elect their own governments, promoting greater economic development, closing Guantanamo Bay prison, and greater technology transfer and exchange of business expertise.

Islamic triumphalism captures a share of Ground Zero

Will government growth bring more drug abuse and porn?

One of the most popular features on my radio program is entitled "Had Enough Government Yet?"

Driven by daily media stories of nanny state, busy-body politics at the local, state, and federal level, the feature invites listeners to contribute their own stories and contemplate how far we've come in this country from the Jeffersonian ideal of "He, who governs least, governs best".

For example, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg wants to regulate the amount of salt that chefs can put into restaurant food. Congress prepares legislation that would have the federal government define what "food" is, license it, and regulate and inspect every "food" source, including your back yard garden and the local farmers' market.

Another example: An agency of the federal government, mirrored in many state governments, decries childhood obesity (using standards that make Arnold Schwarzenegger in his "Terminator" days overweight) and proposes to regulate the fat content of all "food." At the same time, another set of federal and state agencies cuts physical education classes in high school and feeds junk food to the students at our expense. And then are surprised by an "epidemic" of fat kids.

The BP Deepwater Horizon, the most federally regulated offshore oil drilling rig ever, blows out one mile below the surface of the Gulf of Mexico in the worst oil spill disaster ever. In the spirit of using every crisis to advance the liberal agenda, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar proposes to abolish the single agency in charge of regulating and inspecting offshore rigs, and replacing it with three new federal agencies.

In fairness, Salazar had to do something drastic when it was discovered that the agency whose oversight failed to prevent the blowout was peppered with employees who spent their time doing drugs, taking bribes from the oil industry, and surfing the web for porn. The agency was known as the Minerals Management Service. Now comes the latest on the MMS, or as I call it, the Meth and Mammaries Service.

Why are we drilling for oil 5,000 feet deep?

Many reasons, but this one goes unmentioned: Environmental chic has driven us out there. As production from the shallower Gulf of Mexico wells declines, we go deep (1,000 feet and more) and ultra deep (5,000 feet and more), in part because environmentalists have succeeded in rendering the Pacific and nearly all the Atlantic coast off-limits to oil production (see map above, source).

And of course, in the safest of all places, on land, we've had a 30-year ban on drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. So we go deep, ultradeep — to such a technological frontier that no precedent exists for the April 20 blowout in the Gulf of Mexico."

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Steve Wynn thinks Washington is "unpredictable" and "frightening;" he's putting more of his chips on Macau

Steve Wynn says Americans are afraid. He’s just angry.

“Washington is unpredictable these days,” declares the CEO of Wynn Resorts. “No one has any idea what’s next…the uncertainty of the business climate in America is frightening, frightening to everybody, and it’s delaying the recovery.” (Catch more Steve Wynn's views in the videos below and on CNBC throughout the day).

Wynn spoke to CNBC in Las Vegas from the new Encore Beach Club opening for the Memorial Day weekend. He created the $69 million pool club and bar area after tearing down a brand new $13 million entrance to the Encore which looked out on Las Vegas Boulevard.


As we spoke, scantily clad waitresses in barely-there orange bikinis prepared for one last practice run-through. “They’ll make north of a hundred grand apiece,” annually he says. The jobs pay well, and the tips are great. But wearing those bikinis isn’t easy. “If one of those girls gains two pounds, it goes from being really adorable to not so adorable.” (One other note: he lectures them about wearing hats and sunblock.)

Wynn is passionate about the prospects for the beach club.

He’s even more passionate about where this country is headed.

Wynn speaks of “wild, uncontrolled spending,” and “unbelievable, unsustainable debt”. As he plans to split his company headquarters between Las Vegas and Macau, with a bigger emphasis on Macau because of its tremendous profitability, he has no qualms about dealing with the Chinese government.

“Macau has been steady. The shocking, unexpected government is the one in Washington.”

The best testimonial ever: Dozens of Italian women who have slept with Catholic priests ask church to abandon celibacy rule

Dozens of Italian women who have had relationships with Roman Catholic priests or lay monks have endorsed an open letter to the pope that calls for the abolition of the celibacy rule. The letter, thought by one signatory to be unprecedented, argues that a priest "needs to live with his fellow human beings, experience feelings, love and be loved."

It also pleads for understanding of those who "live out in secrecy those few moments the priest manages to grant [us] and experience on a daily basis the doubts, fears and insecurities of our men".

The issue was put back on the Vatican's agenda in March when one of Pope Benedict's senior advisers, Cardinal Christoph Schönborn, the archbishop of Vienna, said the abolition of the celibacy rule might curb sex abuse by priests, a suggestion he hastily withdrew after Benedict spoke up for "the principle of holy celibacy".

The authors of the letter said they decided to come into the open after hearing his retort, which they said was an affirmation of "the holiness of something that is not holy" but a man-made rule. There are many instances of married priests in the early centuries of Christianity. Today, priests who follow the eastern Catholic rites can be married, as can those who married before converting to Roman Catholicism from Anglicanism.

One signatory, Stefania Salomone, 42, an office manager, said the message to the pope had been endorsed by nearly 40 women registered with an online forum linked to Il Dialogo website. But such was the sensitivity of the issue that only three had published their names.

The letter was posted on the internet on 28 March. But it was only reported on Wednesday by the online international news agency, globalPost.

Salomone said that because Catholics were taught to look up to priests, women dropped by their priest-lovers "often lose their faith in men altogether". Her own five-year relationship had been platonic, but Antonella Carisio, one of the other signatories, said she had an affair with a Brazilian priest who frequently slept at her house.

When their relationship was discovered by another priest, he was transferred to Rome. "When he left, he even gave me an engagement ring," she said.

But he subsequently returned to Brazil and this week told the globalPost news agency: "She was a friend and a confidante, but I was never in love with her."

Friday, May 28, 2010

This explains some things: 24% of Americans thinks government has "plenty of its own money without using taxpayer dollars" be “poor” in the 21st-century West is not to be hungry and emaciated but to be obese, with your kids suffering from childhood diabetes. When Michelle Obama turned up to serve food at a soup kitchen, its poverty-stricken clientele snapped pictures of her with their cellphones. In one-sixth of British households, not a single family member works. They are not so much without employment as without need of it. At a certain level, your hard-working bourgeois understands that the bulk of his contribution to the treasury is entirely wasted. It’s one of the basic rules of life: if you reward bad behaviour, you get more of it. But, in good and good-ish times, who cares?

By the way, where does the government get the money to fund all these immensely useful programs? According to a Fox News poll earlier this year, 65 per cent of Americans understand that the government gets its money from taxpayers, but 24 per cent think the government has “plenty of its own money without using taxpayer dollars.” You can hardly blame them for getting that impression in an age in which there is almost nothing the state won’t pay for. I confess I warmed to that much-mocked mayor in Doncaster, England, who announced a year or two back that he wanted to stop funding for the Gay Pride parade on the grounds that, if they’re so damn proud of it, why can’t they pay for it? He was actually making a rather profound point, but, as I recall, he was soon forced to back down. In Canada, almost every ethnocultural booster group is on the public teat. Outside Palestine House in Toronto the other week, the young Muslim men were caught on tape making explicitly eliminationist threats about Jews, but c’mon, everything else in Canada is taxpayer-funded, why not genocidal incitement? We’re rich enough that we can afford to be stupid.

We have a detached, out-of-touch president and an oil spill that reminds us of "the monster that lives deep beneath the sea"

The president, in my view, continues to govern in a way that suggests he is chronically detached from the central and immediate concerns of his countrymen. This is a terrible thing to see in a political figure, and a startling thing in one who won so handily and shrewdly in 2008. But he has not, almost from the day he was inaugurated, been in sync with the center. The heart of the country is thinking each day about A, B and C, and he is thinking about X, Y and Z. They're in one reality, he's in another.

President Obama promised on Thursday to hold BP accountable in the catastrophic Gulf of Mexico oil spill and said his administration would do everything necessary to protect and restore the coast.

.The American people have spent at least two years worrying that high government spending would, in the end, undo the republic. They saw the dollars gushing night and day, and worried that while everything looked the same on the surface, our position was eroding. They have worried about a border that is in some places functionally and of course illegally open, that it too is gushing night and day with problems that states, cities and towns there cannot solve.

And now we have a videotape metaphor for all the public's fears: that clip we see every day, on every news show, of the well gushing black oil into the Gulf of Mexico and toward our shore. You actually don't get deadlier as a metaphor for the moment than that, the monster that lives deep beneath the sea.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Government aid to college students translates into tuition increases, resulting in rapid inflation in college costs

Self-proclaimed deficit hawk seeks billions in earmarks

WASHINGTON - Despite attempts in the House and by the Obama administration to rein in earmarking, both Ohio senators say they are standing by their requests, which this year amount to nearly $2.3 billion combined.

Earmarks are targeted requests for local funding that lawmakers try each year to insert into the federal budget.

Earmarked spending makes up a small percentage of the overall federal budget, as most lawmakers who earmark tend to point out.

But it's drawn increased attention - and criticism - in the past few years. A growing number of lawmakers from both parties have been caught up in scandals related to trading earmarks for campaign contributions or other favors. For many, earmarks symbolize the out-of-control spending that has engulfed Washington.

Sen. George Voinovich, who refers to himself as the chamber's biggest "deficit hawk," asked for $470.3 million for 177 earmarks.

His spokeswoman, Jennifer Scoggins, said the Cleveland Republican supports "good, targeted and transparent earmarks." She said Voinovich also supports efforts to reduce federal spending in other areas that make up a larger part of the federal budget.

"As a member of the Senate Committee on Appropriations, the senator continues to seek funding for worthy projects to help get Ohio its fair share, stimulate the economy and cultivate jobs," she said.

But watchdog groups say lawmakers can't have it both ways.

"Taking a stand against deficit spending can have a lot more sway with the outside world if you take a stand against earmarks, as well," said Pete Sepp, spokesman for the nonpartisan Washington-based National Taxpayers Union.

Competetive Enterprise Institute sues NASA over warming docs

This morning in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, the Competitive Enterprise Institute is filing suit against NASA, calling the erstwhile space agency to account for its nearly three-year stonewall of access to internal documents exposing an abuse of taxpayer funds to advance the global warming agenda.

Along the way to this point, we have begun revealing how NASA is running a third-party advocacy website out of NASA facilities, at taxpayer expense, to assail "skeptics" and promote the highly suspect basis for a specific policy agenda. This campaign also helped to elevate the particular fiefdom in question (James Hansen's Goddard Institute for Space Studies, or GISS) in terms of budget and stature. It has also elevated the scientists involved, professionally, at the expense of the taxpayer they are working to stick with the biggest economic intervention in our history (one I detail in my new book "Power Grab").

In this process, if only thanks to pressure on NASA after a December 2009 news story about their games, we have already obtained important emails among 2,000 or so pages released. These include an admission to USA Today's weather editor that NASA GISS is just a modeling office, using the temperature record of ...CRU, the ClimateGate outfit. That means their "independent temperature record" is actually a recapitulation of one that ...doesn't exist, but was withdrawn as a result of ClimateGate when the custodians admitted they actually lost all original data.

So whether the CRU claims were actually made up, as seems entirely plausible reading that crowd's own nasty anti-scientific campaign in their own words, it is as good as made up, meaning non-existent, for any legal or scientific purpose. So we already know that two of the four supposed "independent temperature records" are down the drain. And they're the only two subjected to anything resembling scrutiny.

One wonders what U.S. gains by mainstreaming Islamic jihad

U.S. Labor Party using federal funds to repay unions for campaign contributions that put Democrats in power

Unions: Those who give to politicians expect a lot in return. That's clear from the budget-busting payoffs directed largely at organized labor by Democrats in Congress and the White House.

A bill making its way through the Senate would bail out union pension funds to the tune of $165 billion. The bill's author, Democratic Sen. Bob Casey of Pennsylvania, wants the public to pay for the gold-plated union retirement benefits that the funds have mismanaged into oblivion.

This has to be galling to average working saps who watch as their 401(k)s and IRAs plummet, only to be asked to pony up billions of dollars in subsidies for unionized workers — many of whom get to retire into the lap of unlabored luxury while still in their 50s.

Casey's bill isn't the only gift that the White House and Congress have for the unions. Last year, economist and columnist Ben Stein estimated that as much as half of the $862 billion stimulus would go to unions, directly or indirectly. Even that might underestimate organized labor's take.

And just last week, the White House proposed $23 billion in aid to states for education. For education? Well, in point of fact, increased federal involvement in education has had zero positive effect on test scores.

So this money has nothing to do with "the children" or schooling. It has everything to do with teacher unions, which will see billions in payouts from money ostensibly intended for school kids.

In short: bailouts for the unions; higher taxes and penury for you.

So beholden to the unions have the Democrats become, it's fair to say they are a de facto Organized Labor Party — a far more accurate name than "Democrats."

Don't agree? According to, 12 of the 20 biggest spenders on public elections since 1989 have been unions. In just the 2008 election alone, unions spent $400 million dollars. Virtually all of it went to Democrats.

Harvard prof who admires UK medical system to run medicare

Dr. Donald Berwick of the Harvard Medical School does not like free enterprise, but he does like rationing.

Two years ago, in England, he delivered a talk celebrating the 60th birthday of Great Britain’s National Health Service, the bureaucracy that runs that nation’s socialized medical system. He apparently entertained some fear that day that the Brits might turn back to free enterprise. So, in his address (as reprinted in the July 26, 2008, edition of the British Medical Journal), and as reported this week by Matt Cover of, he offered British socialists some words of advice.

“Please,” he told them, “don’t put your faith in market forces—it’s a popular idea: that Adam Smith’s invisible hand would do a better job of designing care than leaders with plans can. I find little evidence that market forces relying on consumers choosing among an array of products, with competitors fighting it out, leads to the health care system you want and need. In the U.S., competition is a major reason for our duplicative, supply driven, fragmented care system.”

To Berwick, America’s health care system is not the model for the world. Great Britain’s is. In his view, it is vital for the Brits to hold high the flame of socialized medicine so the world can follow its lead.

“I hope you will never, ever give up what you have begun,” said Berwick. “I hope you realize and affirm how badly you need—how badly the world needs—an example at scale of a health system that is universal, accessible, excellent and free at the point of care—a health system that, at its core is like the world we wish we had: generous, hopeful, confident, joyous and just.

“Happy birthday,” the ebullient doctor told the British health care socialists. If you have not noticed already, this man has a crush on collectivism. “Cynics beware,” he said. “I am romantic about the National Health Service; I love it.” This love extends to approbation for rationing health care and using the health care system to redistribute wealth.

In the guise of stimulating recovery, Obama is building "secular socialist machine" patterned after Roosevelt's New Deal

Students of history will recognize the method to President Obama's madness. The parallels in both policy and politics to the Roosevelt Administration are too striking not to be deliberate. President Obama is consciously modeling his Administration on the Roosevelt Administration. But just as the liberals of the 1930s graduated to the New Left of the 1960s, President Obama's policies and politics transcend the liberalism of the 1930s. He is building what Newt Gingrich rightly calls a secular socialist machine in his new book To Save America.

Roosevelt's Keynesian economics was left for dead in the 1980s with President Reagan's supply-side revolution miraculously ending the stagflation of the 1970s with a 25-year economic boom. But President Obama came into office talking as if that never happened, casting it down the memory hole. While Reagan's early 1981 budget cuts slashed the federal budget by about 5%, Obama rammed through an almost $1 trillion stimulus package of nearly all Keynesian economics from the 1930s, laughing at his astounded critics with the question, "What do you think a stimulus is?"

Economically, it didn't work, just as it didn't in the 1930s or the 1970s. Now 29 months after the recession officially started in December, 2007, unemployment is 10% and rising, and the stock market is again stumbling, with the Dow still 4000 points off its last highs. The recovery was overdue a year ago, and even now economic growth is not half what it should be.

But note how the stimulus spending was structured so that more is spent this year than last. Was the goal to reduce unemployment as quickly as possible, or to use the guise of Keynesian stimulus spending for a political slush fund to buy as many votes as possible in this political year? Note also that about half of the direct "stimulus" spending went to state and local governments to prop up the employment of public employees, the most reliable supporters of liberal Democrat candidates. The only thing President Obama's stimulus is stimulating is a left-wing Democrat political machine.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Obama hits lowest approval level in Rasmussen poll

The Rasmussen Reports daily Presidential Tracking Poll for Wednesday shows that 23% of the nation's voters Strongly Approve of the way that Barack Obama is performing his role as president. Forty-five percent (45%) Strongly Disapprove, giving Obama a Presidential Approval Index rating of -22. That’s the lowest Approval Index rating yet measured for this president (see trends).

Enthusiasm for the president among Democrats, which bounced following passage of the health care law, has faded again. Just 48% of those in the president’s party now Strongly Approve of Obama’s performance. That’s down from 65% earlier.

Among men, 20% Strongly Approve and 50% Strongly Disapprove. Among women, those numbers are 27% and 40% (see other recent demographic highlights).

At this rate the U.S. Census could lead the U.S. out of recession

You know the old saying: "Everyone loves a charade." Well, it seems that the Census Bureau may be playing games.

Last week, one of the millions of workers hired by Census 2010 to parade around the country counting Americans blew the whistle on some statistical tricks.

The worker, Naomi Cohn, told The Post that she was hired and fired a number of times by Census. Each time she was hired back, it seems, Census was able to report the creation of a new job to the Labor Department.

Below, I have a couple more readers who worked for Census 2010 and have tales to tell.

But first, this much we know.

Each month Census gives Labor a figure on the number of workers it has hired. That figure goes into the closely followed monthly employment report Labor provides. For the past two months the hiring by Census has made up a good portion of the new jobs.

Labor doesn't check the Census hiring figure or whether the jobs are actually new or recycled. It considers a new job to have been created if someone is hired to work at least one hour a month.

One hour! A month! So, if a worker is terminated after only one hour and another is hired in her place, then a second new job can apparently be reported to Labor . (I've been unable to get Census to explain this to me.)

Here's a note from a Census worker -- this one from Manhattan:

"John: I am on my fourth rehire with the 2010 Census.

"I have been hired, trained for a week, given a few hours of work, then laid off. So my unemployed self now counts for four new jobs.

"I have been paid more to train all four times than I have been paid to actually produce results. These are my tax dollars and your tax dollars at work.

"A few months ago I was trained for three days and offered five hours of work counting the homeless. Now, I am knocking (on) doors trying to find the people that have not returned their Census forms. I worked the 2000 Census. It was a far more organized venture.

"Have to run and meet my crew leader, even though with this rain I did not work today. So I can put in a pay sheet for the hour or hour and a half this meeting will take. Sincerely, C.M."

Search for better weaponry and first aid leads to breakthroughs

News reports often cover the sadness, brutality, and ugliness of war. It is right and desirable that this side of war be presented in an honest straightforward way. But there's more to the picture.

This post won't list all of the recent changes brought by military necessity and science, but it will list a few that may have escaped notice.

Without a doubt the greatest spin-off from the recent wars on Islamists terrorists in Southwest Asia, is the bandage approved by the FDA in 2002. Prior to the U.S. Army's search for a more effective way to stop hemorrhaging, it used the century old method, direct pressure and gauze. Since 2002, a bandage using shrimp shells and vinegar has been used to "clot a bullet wound in under a minute." Chitosan, a polysaccharide in shrimp shells, has anti-bacterial properties as well, making it ideal for its designed purpose. Obviously, lives are saved on the battlefield with this bandage, and equally obvious this bandage has applications beyond the battlefield.

In the more common area of concern for militaries, guns and ammo, the right bullet and rifle combination for snipers has continued to be an area of testing and fielding since the war in Afghanistan began. In an evolution bound to please many a virgin-seeking Talibani, the round of choice setting records is the .338 Lapua Magnum. How good is it? No round is better than the rifle and the rifleman shooting it. On May 2, the Times of London reported on what is now believed to be the longest kill-shots ever with a sniper rifle -- at a distance of 1.5 miles. The sniper used the .338 Lapua Magnum, and he duplicated the shot immediately after the first to kill a second Taliban machine gunner. Corporal Craig Harrison of the UK's Household Cavalry, using an Accuracy International L115A3, clearly is an exceptional shot. But equally clear is that the militaries defending the West are doing their best to research, test, and field the best equipment to enhance capabilities. The days of a hidebound military are long gone. The .338 Lapau Magnum is replacing the .308 Winchester (a.k.a. the 7.62mm) and the much larger .50 caliber bullet because of its practical advantages having more range than the .308 and being much lighter than the .50 caliber.

Islamic triumphalism triumphs again, this time at Ground Zero

Angry relatives of 9/11 victims last night clashed with supporters of a planned mosque near Ground Zero at a raucous community-board hearing in Manhattan.

After four hours of public debate, members of Community Board 1 finally voted 29-1 in support of the project. Nine members abstained, arguing that they wanted to table the issue and vote at a later date.

The board has no official say over whether the estimated $100 million mosque and community center gets built. But the panel's support, or lack of it, is considered important in influencing public opinion.

Holding up photos of loved ones killed in the Twin Towers and carrying signs such as, "Honor 3,000, 9/11 -- No mosque!" opponents of the proposed Cordoba House on Park Place called the plan an insult to the terror-attack victims.

"That is a burial ground," said retired FDNY Deputy Chief Al Santora, referring to the fact that victims' remains were scattered for blocks.

Santora's 23-year-old son, Christopher, was the youngest firefighter to die that day.

"I do have a problem with having a mosque on top of the site where [terrorists] can gloat about what they did," said Santora, with his wife, Maureen, by his side.

About 150 people attended the emotional Greenwich Street meeting, were some shouted down others as they took their turns.

Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, the head of the Cordoba Institute, which is in charge of the project, insisted that the site would help "bridge the great divide" between Muslims and the rest of America.

It's time for actuaries to calculate how much time U.S. has left

Liberalism: There ain't no such thing as good news

The percentage of blacks marrying whites has risen by 3 times since 1980. Asians are just as likely to marry whites as they were in 1980 (40%), even though there is a much larger Asian population to choose from, and Hispanics are significantly more likely to marry whites than in 1980 (38% compared to 30%), even though there is a much larger Hispanic population to choose from. The sheer number of interracial marriages has risen 20% since 2000.

This is good news, right? Not the way the Washington Post spins it, complete with a commentary by Cornell Prof. Daniel Lichter that is completely at odds with the data, but supports liberal shibboleths about 9/11 and the recent Arizona illegal immigrant law:

The number of interracial marriages in the U.S. has risen 20 percent since 2000 to about 4.5 million, according to the latest census figures. While still growing, that number is a marked drop-off from the 65 percent increase between 1990 and 2000.

About 8 percent of U.S. marriages are mixed-race, up from 7 percent in 2000.
The latest trend belies notions of the U.S. as a post-racial, assimilated society. Demographers cite a steady flow of recent immigration that has given Hispanics and Asians more ethnically similar partners to choose from while creating some social distance from whites due to cultural and language differences.

White wariness toward a rapidly growing U.S. minority population also may be contributing to racial divisions, experts said.

“Racial boundaries are not going to disappear anytime soon,” said Daniel Lichter, a professor of sociology and public policy at Cornell University. He noted the increase in anti-immigrant sentiment in the U.S. after the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks as well as current tensions in Arizona over its new immigration law.

“With a white backlash toward immigrant groups, some immigrants are more likely to turn inward to each other for support,” Lichter said.

In fairness to Prof. Lichter, reporters have been known to quote sources out of context, but there’s no excuse for how the Post reporter, Hope Yen, reported this story. It’s possible that there is actually some hidden bad news in the data, but if so, it’s not apparent from the story.

Smaller percentage of Democrats are at odds with their party, but they might do more damage than Republicans in election

There's an interesting dichotomy right now in how Democrats and Republicans feel about their own parties. Democrats are much more likely than Republicans to think their party is headed in the right direction. But at the same time unhappy Democrats are much more likely to abandon their party at the polls this year than unhappy Republicans. So even though there are a good deal fewer of them, angry Democrats are a much bigger threat to their party's prospects in 2010 than angry Republicans are to theirs.

On our most recent national poll just 54% of Republican voters said they were pleased with the direction of their party. The 46% who fall into the unhappy or not sure camps though still say they'll vote for the GOP by an 82-9 margin this fall.

By contrast 83% of Democrats are happy with their party's direction. But among those who aren't 48% are planning to vote for Republicans this fall to 36% who are planning to vote Democratic. So despite the fact that there are far more GOP voters mad at their party than Democrats, the number of angry Democrats planning to vote Republican is actually larger than the number of angry Republicans planning to vote Democratic. It's just one more thing the party is going to have to cope with for this fall.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Gun cam: New wireless video rifle sight - Smartsight - allows fighter to stay hidden while taking deadly aim

Today's featured Invention Award winner is SmartSight, a gun-cam system that lets soldiers see around corners and shoot targets without entering the line of fire.

The Rolling Green hills of Sonora, California, no longer lure prospectors with the promise of gold, but for Matthew Hagerty the draw is just as powerful: They’re a secluded hideaway ideal for perfecting his military invention, called SmartSight. Ten years in the making, SmartSight is a gun-cam system that allows a soldier to see around corners and shoot targets without putting himself in the line of fire.

It consists of a wireless video camera mounted to the rail of an M4 or .308 SOCOM carbine, a small computer worn on a military vest, and a thumbnail-size color head-up display affixed to a pair of protective glasses. In effect, SmartSight turns the muzzle of an assault rifle into a third eye—a soldier can crouch behind a blockade, stick his weapon over his head, and shoot his target with the same accuracy as if he were taking aim normally. “No other weapons sight can do that,” Hagerty says. “What you see is what you get.”

Monday, May 24, 2010

Are there no limits for this guy?

From Drudge: "Bill Clinton Rear Ended... "

Polar bear party

Photoshopped version of a Photoshopped image of a Photoshopped Polar bear

The price of gold is surging; why?

If you believe government reported data, gold should be dropping like a rock.
Let's examine Government reported data:

1) According to the consumer price index (CPI), inflation is under control at 2.3%. What's not disclosed in these data, are that the CPI no longer includes the price of food and energy which is better known as the ‘cost of living.’

2) Housing and real estate data are now showing a recovery. Realty Track just reported the first annual decrease in foreclosures in more than five years.

What's not reported by Realty Track is foreclosure filings are rising, but actual foreclosures are not. Today distressed homeowners have options and plenty of time. Some distressed homeowners stay in their home for up to 2 years without making a single mortgage payment. They can attempt to modify their loan and/or short sell their property, both options take months.

3) Decreased government spending. Treasury secretary Timothy Geithner recently reported promising news. Government bailouts for banks, automakers and other industries will cost tax payers $87 Billion Dollars, that's far less than expected.

What Tim Geithner forgot to state is the $87 Billion Dollars is only the direct and public injections of capital into those failing institutions. The real cost to the American tax payer is almost four times greater.

The fact is, the Federal Reserve is now issuing/creating Treasury Bonds (T-Bonds), out of the air at an alarming rate. They're in desperate need of capital to keep up with interest payments to our creditors, and for all the bailouts.

Whether by incompetence or design, the post-American president is enabling a post-American world

Iran is on the march, and we have Barack Obama to thank.

In Tehran, Iran, Brazil and Turkey signed a deal on Monday to swap nuclear fuel. Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki, Brazil’s President Luis Inacio Lula da Silva and Foreign Minister Celso Amorim, and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu raised their hands in triumph after signing the deal.

Ambassador John Bolton spells out the implications of the deal: “If this continues, it cuts the kneecaps off the administration’s sanctions effort. I think it’s a jujitsu move by the Iranians that undercuts the Obama policy.”

An unsigned editorial in the Wall Street Journal characterized the deal as “a political coup for Tehran and possibly delivers the coup de grace to the West’s half-hearted efforts to stop Iran from acquiring a nuclear bomb.” The editorial adds: “Full credit for this debacle goes to the Obama Administration and its hapless diplomatic strategy.”

And that’s not all. A new Israeli report shows that Iran has formed an alliance with China and North Korea, focusing on the development of missiles and nuclear capabilities.

Israel’s Foreign Minister, Avigdor Lieberman, said last week that North Korea is sending WMD’s to Iran’s reliable Middle Eastern client state, Syria. And few weeks ago it was revealed that Iran is sending paramilitary troops to Venezuela. What for?

A nuclear-ready Iran is preparing for world war. Here, there, everywhere. And we have … impotent Obama.

In proposing a mosque for Ground Zero, muslims demonstrate the "supremacist and triumphalist character" of militant Islam

Now that it has been revealed that not one, but two mosques are planned for the area around Ground Zero, the supremacist and triumphalist character of this effort is clearer than ever. Is the Muslim population of lower Manhattan so huge that one projected mosque—even one so large as to be housed within a 15 story Islamic Center—would immediately be bursting at the seams, and thus yet another is required even before the first is built?

Of course not. Muslims are already praying at the projected site of the massive Islamic Center, an old Burlington Coat Factory outlet that was damaged by a piece of one of the hijacked airplanes fell through the roof on 9/11. (A Muslim real estate company paid $4.85 million in cash for the building. Where that cash came from has not been explained).

That building doesn’t appear to be overflowing, although Muslims are reportedly holding prayers on the sidewalk outside another lower Manhattan mosque, apparently in order to give the impression that they’re in dire need of more space. This is, however, more for show than for necessity.

The placement of mosques throughout Islamic history has been an expression of conquest and superiority over non-Muslims. Muslims built the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock on the site of the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem in order to proclaim Islam’s superiority to Judaism. The Umayyad Mosque in Damascus was built over the Church of St. John the Baptist, and the Hagia Sophia Cathedral in Constantinople was converted into a mosque, to express the superiority of Islam over Christianity. Historian Sita Ram Goel has estimated that over 2,000 mosques in India were built on the sites of Hindu temples for the same reason.

Why retirement ages will have to be raised

Rasmussen: 63% favor repeal of Obamacare

The Rasmussen Reports daily Presidential Tracking Poll for Monday shows that 25% of the nation's voters Strongly Approve of the way that Barack Obama is performing his role as president. Forty-three percent (43%) Strongly Disapprove, giving Obama a Presidential Approval Index rating of -18 (see trends).
Following passage of health care, enthusiasm for the president among Democrats soared. Today, however, just 49% of Democrats Strongly Approve of Obama’s performance. That’s down from a high of 65%. It remains to be seen whether this is a temporary aberration or the beginning of a lasting change.

Sixty-three percent (63%) of voters nationwide favor repeal of the health care law. That’s the highest level of support for repeal yet measured.

The Presidential Approval Index is calculated by subtracting the number who Strongly Disapprove from the number who Strongly Approve. It is updated daily at 9:30 a.m. Eastern (sign up for free daily e-mail update). Updates are also available on Twitter and Facebook.

Overall, 44% of voters say they at least somewhat approve of the president's performance. Fifty-four percent (55%) disapprove. The Rasmussen Reports Media Meter shows that media coverage of the President has been 51% positive over the past week.

Just 27% are even somewhat confident that Congress knows what it’s doing when addressing that nation’s economic challenges. That figure includes only 6% who are Very Confident that Congress knows what it’s doing.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Heckuva job, Barry

President Obama is the backward man. Teddy Roosevelt's advice to "speak softly and carry a big stick" was meant as a guide to successful foreign relations.

Obama has completely muddled the message. He speaks softly to foreign adversaries and uses the big stick on American dissenters.

Iran and Syria are wooed endlessly with carrots, apologies and promises of grand bargains. They respond with taunts and threats and pay no penalty.

North Korea sinks a South Korean ship, and our secretary of state says it means no more business as usual. That's an admission it has been business as usual even after the loony kingdom tested nukes.

The Mexican president comes to Washington and berates American citizens for expressing their views through the democratic process, and Obama shamefully nods in agreement. A State Department aide apologizes to China -- to China! -- about our treatment of illegal immigrants.

Meanwhile, American "fat-cat bankers" and "greedy" doctors and sundry opponents are demonized as enemies of the state. They respond by sullenly surrendering the health-care and financial industries to Big Government.

Welcome to a double disaster. America now has a foreign policy that is a dangerous flop and a homeland as bitterly divided as ever.

And don't forget 10 percent unemployment and skyrocketing deficits and debt.

Heckuva job, Mr. President.

The candidates "that nobody sent" won last Tuesday

The biggest loser in this week's tumultuous primary elections wasn't Arlen Specter or President Obama or even Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell. It was the clubhouse.

In each of the marquee Senate races, the party establishment took it on the chin. Specter, the Republican-turned-Democratic senator from Pennsylvania, had support from every star in the Democratic firmament but was eclipsed by two-term Rep. Joe Sestak. In Kentucky, Rand Paul, a tea party-caffeinated novice with impassioned and occasionally eccentric views, obliterated Trey Grayson, the choice of McConnell and the state GOP leadership. In Arkansas, Democratic Sen. Blanche Lincoln was forced into a precarious runoff by Lt. Gov. Bill Halter despite backing from both Obama and former President Clinton.

The ethos of the clubhouse era was captured in the story of Illinois Democrat Abner Mikva, who -- decades before becoming a House member and then a federal judge -- walked into his Chicago Democratic ward office in 1948 as an earnest law student hoping to volunteer. As Mikva later recounted, a glaring ward committee member brusquely asked him, " 'Who sent you?' I said, 'Nobody sent me.' He put [his] cigar back in his mouth and he said, 'We don't want nobody that nobody sent.' "

This week's elections were the triumph of the candidates that nobody sent.

Why is deportation not one of the answers?

World's worst man-made catastrophe to issue new orders: forget climate change; save lakes, streams, the soil, clean air and water

The economic case for global action to stop the destruction of the natural world is even more powerful than the argument for tackling climate change, a major report for the United Nations will declare this summer.

The Stern report on climate change, which was prepared for the UK Treasury and published in 2007, famously claimed that the cost of limiting climate change would be around 1%-2% of annual global wealth, but the longer-term economic benefits would be 5-20 times that figure.

The UN's biodiversity report – dubbed the Stern for Nature – is expected to say that the value of saving "natural goods and services", such as pollination, medicines, fertile soils, clean air and water, will be even higher – between 10 and 100 times the cost of saving the habitats and species which provide them.

To mark the UN's International Day for Biological Diversity tomorrow, hundreds of British companies, charities and other organisations have backed an open letter from the Natural History Museum's director Michael Dixon warning that "the diversity of life, so crucial to our security, health, wealth and wellbeing is being eroded".

The UN report's authors go further with their warning on biodiversity, by saying if the goods and services provided by the natural world are not valued and factored into the global economic system, the environment will become more fragile and less resilient to shocks, risking human lives, livelihoods and the global economy.

"We need a sea-change in human thinking and attitudes towards nature: not as something to be vanquished, conquered, but rather something to be cherished and lived within," said the report's author, the economist Pavan Sukhdev.

The changes will involve a wholesale revolution in the way humans do business, consume, and think about their lives, Sukhdev, told The Guardian. He referred to the damage currently being inflicted on the natural world as "a landscape of market failures".

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Even when the situation demands vigor, Obama offers passivity

Barack Obama's remarkable powers of oratory are well known: In support of Chicago's Olympic bid, he flew into Copenhagen to give a heartwarming speech about himself, and the games were given to Rio. He flew into Boston to support Martha Coakley's bid for the U.S. Senate, and Massachusetts voters gave Ted Kennedy's seat to a Republican. In the first year of his presidency, he gave a gazillion speeches on health care "reform" and drove support for his proposals to basement level, leaving Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid to ram it down the throats of the American people through sheer parliamentary muscle.

Like a lot of guys who've been told they're brilliant one time too often, President Obama gets a little lazy and doesn't always choose his words with care. And so it was that he came to say a few words about Daniel Pearl upon signing the Daniel Pearl Press Freedom Act. Pearl was decapitated on video by jihadist Muslims in Karachi on Feb. 1, 2002. That's how I'd put it. This is what the president of the United States said:

"Obviously, the loss of Daniel Pearl was one of those moments that captured the world's imagination because it reminded us of how valuable a free press is."

Now Mr. Obama's off the prompter, when his silver-tongued rhetoric invariably turns to sludge. But he's talking about a dead man here, a guy murdered in public for all the world to see. Furthermore, the deceased's family is standing all around him. Even for a busy president, it's the work of moments to come up with a sentence that would be respectful, moving and true. Indeed, for Mr. Obama, it's the work of seconds because he has a taxpayer-funded staff sitting around all day with nothing to do but provide him with that sentence.

Instead, he delivered the one above, which, in its clumsiness and insipidness, is most revealing. First of all, note the passivity: "The loss of Daniel Pearl." He wasn't "lost." He was kidnapped and beheaded. He was murdered on a snuff video. He was specifically targeted, seized as a trophy, a high-value scalp. And the circumstances of his "loss" merit some vigor in the prose. Yet Mr. Obama could muster none.

Even if Americans don't get the message, the rest of the world does. This week's pictures of the leaders of Brazil and Turkey clasping hands with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad are also monuments to American passivity.

No money for children's tuition no problem for some bureaucrats, who pay with their governent credit cards

An investigation that found thousands of dollars in unauthorized purchases of clothing, gold coins, flat-screen televisions, gym memberships and college tuition payments by employees of the Federal Protective Services using government purchase cards has resulted in no disciplinary action.

Twenty-one FPS employees took advantage of an 18-month transition period during which the security agency was moved from the General Services Administration to the Department of Homeland Security "to loot GSA resources by purchasing unauthorized goods," according to the GSA's office of inspector general.

Investigative documents obtained by The Washington Times through a Freedom of Information Act request said the California-based FPS employees used the government cards to buy, among other things, $17,000 in suits at Macy's and the Men's Wearhouse, $15,000 in gold and silver coins, $60,000 in tuition payments and professional memberships, and $8,000 in gym memberships in 2003 and 2004.

The FPS employees, who are responsible for securing federal buildings, also used expense vouchers to get reimbursements for more than $9,000 in clothing, including an $800 tuxedo.

Investigators said employees with the security force bought the questionable items but concealed them by not entering them into the government computer system known as "Pegasys," which processes and reconciles financial transactions.

The purchases were the subject of an investigation by the inspector general's office that spanned five years. In September, investigators closed the case and noted that of the 21 employees involved in making the inappropriate purchases, three resigned and four retired. Five employees faced a possible reprimand and no action had been taken against nine others.

From Big Journalism

Must-Read Paragraph Of the Day

The euro has many flaws, but its weakest link is Greece, whose fundamental problem is that for years it spent too much, earned too little and plugged the gap by borrowing in order to enjoy a rich man’s lifestyle. It flouted EU rules on the limits to budget deficits; its national accounts were a moussaka of minced statistics, topped with a cheesy sauce of jiggery-pokery.

Krauthammer: Obama administration arrogant and lawless

Obfuscation in the name of clarification

House Ways and Means Committee Republicans have released this nifty new flowchart to help small businesses and their employees calculate whether or not they qualify for Obamacare’s tax credit passed earlier this year.

Employers face a dizzying array of questions and formulas before determining if they are eligible for some, all or none of this credit. In addition, the credit is limited to federal income tax liability, meaning that if a small business is losing money due to the economy, it might not be able to use the credit even if it successfully navigates the rules.

“The health care law is going to drive up premiums even further and, as this chart shows, it forces small business to work through an exceedingly complex set of calculations just to find out they may not be eligible to receive any help at all,” said Rep. Dave Camp (R-Mich.), top Republican on the House Ways and Means Committee. “No wonder the nation’s leading small business organization is suing to overturn the law. We need to repeal this law and replace it with health care reforms that lower costs for small businesses, families and taxpayers.”

The National Federation of Business has joined in the state lawsuit to block the implementation of Obamacare, saying the “outpouring of opposition to this new law was overwhelming and our members urged us to do everything in our power to stop this unconstitutional law.”

Looking at this chart you can see why.

Highest-paid politicians on Goldman Sachs payroll

(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

Campaign material for use against anti-American Democrats

Horror: Suburb of D.C. has Arizona-like immigration law

PRINCE WILLIAM COUNTY, VA (KOLD) - For the last three years, a county in Virginia has remained under the radar in the immigration debate even though it has a law almost identical to Arizona's immigration law.

The ordinance in Prince William County was passed in 2007. It initially required police to check the status of detainees they suspected of being undocumented immigrants but one year later it was revised.

Officers now question all criminal suspects about their immigration status once an arrest is made.

In 2008, the University of Virginia conducted a survey to see what effects, if any, the Prince William County law had. It concluded initial fears about racial profiling did not happen.

It also show that schools saw a drop in English as a second language enrollment. There was also a drop in uninsured mothers giving birth and individuals turned over to immigration and customs enforcement.

Memo to Washington press corps: here is the home page of ICE, along with names and pics of top officials. Director John Morton says ICE may not process detainees referred to it by the rambunctious state of Arizona. Prince William County, in Virginia, has a three-year-old immigration law similar to Arizona's.

Your task, if you choose to accept it, is to find out whether Morton, or other top ICE officials, live in Prince William County.

If you find any that do, run with it.

The U.S. Constitution is hot, which Obama is not

Demand for copies of the U.S. Constitution is skyrocketing.

The increased interest comes amid the rise of the Tea Party movement and as both parties cite the Constitution to advance their agendas.

The pocket edition of the Constitution and Declaration of Independence ranked 10th on the Government Printing Office’s (GPO) best-seller list in March.

Since September 2009, the GPO has sold more than 8,700 copies of the pocket Constitution to the public, according to GPO spokesman Gary Somerset. That is a higher sell rate than in recent years.

Those sales are in addition to the thousands of copies given to members of Congress each year. Congress authorized a resolution in 2009 to print 441,000 copies for the use of the House (1,000 for each member) and 100,000 copies for the Senate (1,000 for each senator).

The Heritage Foundation and the Cato Institute, which keep statistics on the Constitution, also say that requests for the historical document are on the rise.

GPO sells copies for $2.75, but constituents can request a free one from their lawmaker.

Congressional offices are burning through theirs stacks of pocket Constitutions.

Spanish model for Obama's green transformation of America's economy turns out to be a disastrous failure

As predicted was inevitable, today the Spanish newspaper La Gaceta runs with a full-page article fessing up to the truth about Spain’s “green jobs” boondoggle, which happens to be the one naively cited by President Obama no less than eight times as his model for the United States. It is now out there as a bust, a costly disaster that has come undone in Spain to the point that even the Socialists admit it, with the media now in full pursuit.

Breaking the Spanish government’s admission here at Pajamas Media probably didn’t hurt their interest in finally reporting on the leaked admission. Obama’s obvious hope of rushing into place his “fundamental transformation” of America into something more like Europe’s social democracies — where even the most basic freedoms have been moved from individuals and families to the state — before the house of cards collapsed has suffered what we can only hope proves to be its fatal blow. At least on this front.

La Gaceta boldly exposes the failure of the Spanish renewable policy and how Obama has been following it. The headline screams: “Spain admits that the green economy as sold to Obama is a disaster.”

Spirited Arizona governor spurts to big lead in primary election

Arizona Governor Jan Brewer, following her signing and passionate defense of the state’s new immigration law, now claims 45% of the vote in the state’s Republican Primary field. That’s a 19-point gain from a month ago and puts her well ahead of all her challengers.

A new Rasmussen Reports telephone survey of likely GOP Primary Voters in Arizona shows State Treasurer Dean Martin and businessman Buz Mills each attracting 18% support. Former state Republican Party Chairman John Munger trails with three percent (3%). Three percent (3%) prefer some other candidate, and 13% are undecided.

Just last month, Brewer held a modest lead with 26% of the primary vote, followed by Mills at 18%, Munger at 14% and Martin with 12%. Twenty-four percent (24%) were undecided.

In March, Brewer, Martin and Mills were in a three-way tie, each attracting about 20% of GOP voters.

Arizona Republicans will pick their gubernatorial nominee in an August 24 primary.

In California, an awakening seems to have taken place in 2007

Hoven's Index for May 22, 2010

California statistics:

Top marginal personal income tax rate: 10.55%

Top marginal corporate income tax rate: 8.84%

State minimum wage: $8.00

ALEC-Laffer Competitiveness Index ranking: 46

Texas statistics:

Top marginal personal income tax rate: 0.00%

Top marginal corporate income tax rate: 5.56%

State minimum wage: $7.25

ALEC-Laffer Competitiveness Index ranking: 19

Source: ALEC-Laffer State Economic Competitiveness Index, 2010.

Most Mexicans want to go to the U.S.; most would do so illegally

Facing a variety of national problems – crime, drugs, corruption, a troubled economy – Mexicans overwhelmingly are dissatisfied with the direction of their country. With drug-related violence affecting much of Mexico, large majorities describe crime (81%) and illegal drugs (73%) as very big problems, and Mexicans overwhelmingly endorse President Felipe Calderón’s tough stance against drug traffickers.

Most believe life is better in the United States. Close to six-in-ten (57%) say that people who move from Mexico enjoy a better life in the U.S., up from 51% in 2007. And the vast majority of those who are in regular contact with friends and relatives living in the U.S. say those friends and relatives have largely achieved their goals.

A substantial minority of Mexicans say that if they had the means and opportunity to go live in the U.S. they would do so, and more than half of those who would migrate if they had the chance say they would do so without authorization.

Nonetheless, immigration data show a drop-off in recent years in the annual flow of Mexican immigrants to the U.S. 1 This decline may be tied in part to the economic downturn in the U.S., which has resulted in fewer jobs for immigrants. Four-in-ten Mexicans say they know someone who left for the U.S. but returned because they could not find a job, although even more (47%) report knowing someone who returned because they were turned back by the border patrol.

Friday, May 21, 2010

All three defeated congress members were appropriators

All three defeated members of Congress were members of Appropriations Committees -- Republican Senator Bob Bennett of Utah, Republican-turned-Democratic Senator Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania and Democratic Congressman Alan Mollohan of West Virginia. All based much of their political appeal on their ability to get money for their states or districts, and for national causes as well.

But spending is out of fashion this year. The spontaneous outpouring of opposition to the expansion of government symbolized by but not limited to the tea party movement has been based on opposition to spending, not opposition to taxes. Suddenly pork is not kosher. Additional evidence: the decision of House Appropriations Chairman David Obey to retire after 41 years in Congress.

Rep. Steve King: U.S. immigration laws not broken, just unenforced

Congressional Democrats applaud Mexican President Felipe Calderon after he endorses practices that damage the U.S.

If you are winning, go with the status quo.

That's what Mexican president Felip Calderon did this week. The question is, why did congressional Democrats give Calderon a standing ovation? Was that because the U.S. is losing, and further decline will hasten the day when free enterprise and free markets, institutions that many of the Democrats deplore, are finally tossed aside in favor of government by the biggest donors to their campaigns?

The most important relationship between Mexico and the United States is economic.

Mexico exports poverty and low skills to the United States.

The United States, in turn, supplies education and welfare benefits to imported Mexicans who, in turn, export billions of dollars to Mexico. In 2007, those remittances totaled $23.98 billion. In 2008, the total rose to $25.145 billion.

While the figure for 2009 is not yet in, it is expected to fall to about $21 billion. Hard times are at hand in Mexico.

If Arizona's new immigration law deters illegal border crossings into Arizona, the number of illegal aliens sending remittances to Mexico might fall off on a lasting basis. Emulation of the Arizona law by other border states could put a real crimp in Mexico's profit from illegal border crossings.

That's why Calderon spoke with such urgency about the awfulness of the Arizona law. President Obama appeared to agree with him, which was not surprising for a chief executive who has little good to say, but much to rebuke, about the land he has chosen to misgovern while awaiting his chance to govern the world.

As Congress mulls new financial firm regulations, Wall Street bails out a green Chicago bank with ties to Obama; why?

The Central Illinois 9/12 Project became one of the first to expose — beginning this past March on – Shorebank’s extensive green and microfinancing agendas, in anticipation of that bank’s impending bailout. Shorebank, a Chicago-based, community-based investment bank, is focused on domestic and foreign microfinancing, is heavily engaged in the financing of “green” projects and “green” jobs, and has a host of ties to the Obama and Clinton administrations. Most recently, we wrote in April about Shorebank seeking a “bailout” from larger financial firms that have previously received bailout money from the federal government. Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky had previously proposed that the bank receive funds from the State of Illinois to help cover its loss of capital since the beginning of the nation’s economic downturn in 2008.

As we previously wrote, Shorebank would potentially be eligible for TARP funds if it were to be recognized as a “Community Development Financial Institution.” In order to to receive needed federal TARP money and prevent seizure by the FDIC, Shorebank needed to receive appropriate matching funds from private sources. News stories have been released over the past several days indicating that Shorebank has potentially received such funding.

Shorebank has reportedly received $20 million from General Electric, $20 million from Goldman Sachs, and $20 million from Citigroup – with additional large funds being promised by J.P.Morgan Chase, Bank of America, and Morgan Stanley. Shorebank also has received funds from the Northern Trust Corporation, State Farm, and Harris N.A. It has been reported that the bank could also receive funds from Wells-Fargo and PNC Financial Services. Assistance from these financial institutions puts Shorebank’s raised capital from private sources within the range needed to make it eligible for TARP funds.

As we reported previously, Citigroup, Bank of America, and Chase all received tens of billions of dollars in taxpayer money from TARP. Does this then mean that Shorebank is being bailed out by bailout money?

41% say random selection would produce a better Congress

The latest national telephone survey of Likely Voters finds that 41% say a group of people selected at random from the phone book would do a better job addressing the nation’s problems than the current Congress. Almost as many (38%) disagree, however, and another 20% are undecided.

These findings show little change from early January and early September 2009. However, the number of voters who feel a random selection could do better is up eight points from early October 2008, just before the presidential election.

Yet while 57% of Mainstream voters think a random selection from the phone book would do a better job than the current Congress, 90% of the Political Class disagree.

Only 32% of all voters are at least somewhat confident that their representatives in Congress have the voters' best interests in mind. Sixty-six percent (66%) don't share the confidence, down 10 points from October 2008.

Again, while 79% of the Political Class are confident that their members of Congress do have their best interests at heart, 84% of Mainstream voters don't see it that way.

Rasmussen traces an "unequivocal public repudiation of the agenda" of Obama and "a seismic shift" in thought about change

It began last November in statewide races in Virginia and New Jersey. Then it swept through Massachusetts in a stunning U.S. Senate special election this January. Most recently, it has spilled over into primary battles in Utah, Kentucky and Pennsylvania – growing more potent as the calendar year advances toward a climactic November 2010 showdown.

“It” is the ongoing, unequivocal public repudiation of the agenda of President Barack Obama – a seismic shift in the thinking of the American electorate regarding the sort of “change” they want for their country. In several races “it” is also a direct rejection of Obama himself – as evidenced by the deaf ear voters turned to his personal appeals on behalf of Massachusetts’ Attorney General Martha Coakley and party-switching Pennsylvania Sen. Arlen Specter.

Both Coakley and Specter enjoyed commanding leads over their opponents prior to Obama’s active engagement in their races, with Specter enjoying a 21-point cushion over Democratic Rep. Joe Sestak as recently as last month (Sestak ended up defeating Specter by a 54-46 percent margin). Similarly, Sen. Scott Brown trailed Coakley by 17 points just two weeks before pulling off his improbable five-point upset victory.

In both races, Obama appeared in radio and television ads on behalf of the losing candidates – and in the Massachusetts race he paid a last-minute visit to the Bay State in an unsuccessful effort to rally Coakley’s faltering campaign (similar to his failed last-ditch effort to revive the flagging candidacy of New Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine).

There was no eleventh hour visit for Specter – but only because Obama’s political advisors read the handwriting on the wall and were desperate to avoid yet another embarrassing image of their boss with his arms draped around another losing candidate. Accordingly, after pledging to give Specter his “full support,” when Election Day rolled around Obama was nowhere to be found – and wasn’t even following the race “all that closely,” according to his spokesman.

How’s that for loyalty?

Also worth noting was the tremendous shot in the arm that Sestak’s campaign received when he revealed that the Obama administration (in typical “Chicagoland” fashion) offered him a high-paying federal job in exchange for dropping his primary challenge against Specter – a charge which has yet to be properly investigated, but which served as a turning point in the race.

Meanwhile, halfway across the country in Kentucky another repudiation of Obama was taking place – albeit one that rattled the cages of a completely different set of Washington insiders. There, Kentucky ophthalmologist Rand Paul – son of Texas Congressman Ron Paul – trounced establishment Republican Trey Grayson in a race that demonstrated the growing political clout of the Tea Party movement.

Paul defeated the GOP’s hand-picked candidate by a 24 percent margin – even after Grayson received endorsements from Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani and former Vice-President Dick Cheney. Similar to Obama’s last-minute shunning of Specter, McConnell also fled the scene of his anointed candidate’s downfall – ostensibly to attend to “Washington business.”

Paul’s win was the second demonstration of Tea Party power in as many weeks, coming on the heels of Utah Republicans’ refusal to re-nominate incumbent U.S. Senator Bob Bennett. Additionally, ten other U.S. Senators and twenty U.S. Representatives are retiring from politics in advance of the 2010 elections.

What’s fueling this “wave?”

Despite the kerfuffle, Rand Paul still leads Conway by 25 points

A lot of the handwringing over Rand Paul's electability in November is overdone. A Rasmussen poll was released today that showed Paul leading Democratic nominee Jack Conway by 25 points, 59 percent to 34 percent. Kentucky Democrats nominated the more liberal candidate who supports Obamacare and will not be able to exploit Paul's "heterodox" social views -- which are also overblown -- in the general election.

That said, Paul's comments about the Civil Rights Act of 1964 were an example of what not to do. Throughout the primary campaign, Trey Grayson tried to bait Paul into theoretical discussions of libertarianism and controversial theories with which many libertarians agree. Ron Paul relishes such discussions and sees his professorial role as an important part of why he is in politics. The younger Paul is trying to bring serious constitutionalism back into the mainstream and has wisely avoided etting the focus drift into things that are not live issues -- until now.