Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Kagan reveres judge who says he's "subject to no authority" and hopes to give statutes "new meaning that suits social needs"

Barack Obama revealed his goal for the Supreme Court when he complained on Chicago radio station WBEZ-FM in 2001 that the Earl Warren Court wasn't "radical" enough because "it didn't break free from the essential constraints placed by the Founding Fathers in the Constitution" in order to allow "redistribution of wealth."

Now that Obama is president, he has the power to nominate Supreme Court justices who will "break free" from the Constitution and join him in "fundamentally transforming" America. That's the essence of his choice of Elena Kagan as his second Supreme Court nominee. She never was a judge, and her paper trail is short. But it's long enough to prove that she is a clear and present danger to the Constitution.

When Kagan was dean of Harvard Law School, she presented a guest speaker who is known as the most activist judge in the world: Judge Aharon Barak, formerly president of the Israeli Supreme Court.

The polar opposite of the U.S. Constitution, which states that "all legislative powers" are vested in the elected legislative body, Barak has written that a judge should "make" and "create" law, assume "a role in the legislative process" and give statutes "new meaning that suits new social needs."

Barak wrote that a judge "is subject to no authority" except himself, and he "must sometimes depart the confines of his legal system and channel into it fundamental values not yet found in it." Channel? Does he mean he channels in a trance, as Hillary Clinton supposedly channeled discourse with the long-deceased Eleanor Roosevelt?

Despite Barak's weirdo writings, or maybe because of them, Kagan called him her "judicial hero." Judge Robert Bork, a man careful with his words, says Kagan's praise of Barak is "disqualifying in and of itself." Bork said that Barak "establishes a world record for judicial hubris." He wrote that Barak embraces a judicial philosophy that "there is no area of Israeli life that the court may not govern."

Former Justice lawyer says voter intimidation case against New Black Panther Party was ordered dropped for racial reasons

A former Justice Department attorney who quit his job to protest the Obama administration's handling of the New Black Panther Party voter intimidation case is accusing Attorney General Eric Holder of dropping the charges for racially motivated reasons.

J. Christian Adams, now an attorney in Virginia and a conservative blogger, says he and the other Justice Department lawyers working on the case were ordered to dismiss it.

"I mean we were told, 'Drop the charges against the New Black Panther Party,'" Adams told Fox News, adding that political appointees Loretta King, acting head of the civil rights division, and Steve Rosenbaum, an attorney with the division since 2003, ordered the dismissal.

Asked about the Justice Department's claim that they are career attorneys, not political appointees, Adams said "obviously, that's false."

"Under the vacancy reform act, they were serving in a political capacity," he said. "This is one of the examples of Congress not being told the truth, the American people not being told the truth about this case. It's one of the other examples in this case where the truth simply is becoming another victim of the process."

Adams claimed an unnamed political appointee said if somebody wants to bring these kinds of cases, "that' not going to de done out of the civil rights division."

Adams also accused Deputy Attorney General Thomas Perez of lying under oath to Congress about the circumstances surrounding the decision to drop the probe.

The Justice Department has defended its move to drop the case, saying it obtained an injunction against one member to keep him away from polling stations while dismissing charges against the others "based on a careful assessment of the facts and the law."

But Adams told Fox News that politics and race was at play in the dismissal.

"There is a pervasive hostility within the civil rights division at the Justice Department toward these sorts of cases," Adams told Fox News' Megyn Kelly.

Adams says the dismissal is a symptom of the Obama administration's reverse racism and that the Justice Department will not pursue voting rights cases against white victims.

Easy money and incompetent government, not a shortage of rules and regulations, produced the U.S. financial collapse

The most sensible legislative response to the financial collapse of September 2008 would have been to do nothing until the causes of the collapse were fully understood.

There is no urgency about legislating financial regulatory reform. The existing regulatory agencies have virtually total authority over the financial industry. And because they were asleep at the switch when disaster struck, they are now hyper- alert to prevent a repetition of it. Indeed, bank examiners have become so fearful of condoning risky practices that they are making it difficult for banks to lend to small businesses and consumers and thus are retarding the economic recovery.

The principal factors in the recent economic collapse were:

No. 1. Incompetent monetary policy, which under former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan and his successor Ben Bernanke produced the housing bubble that burst, bringing down the financial industry, which was heavily invested in the mortgage market.

No. 2. The inattention of the Fed and the Securities and Exchange Commission, which didn’t understand the changing nature of the banking industry, particularly the rise of so-called nonbank banks dependent on short-term, noninsured capital.

No. 3. The over-indebtedness of the American people and government, which has hampered the restoration of credit.

No. 4. The failure of the Treasury Department under former Secretary Henry Paulson and the Fed under Bernanke to rescue Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. They didn’t realize that Lehman’s bankruptcy would trigger a run on the banking industry, causing a global credit freeze.

Barack Obama’s main economic officials -- Bernanke, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, and National Economic Council Chairman Lawrence Summers -- were implicated in the regulatory oversights that precipitated the crisis, as were key legislative officials, such as Senator Christopher Dodd and Congressman Barney Frank. None of them wants to shoulder blame for the crisis. Instead, they blame the banking industry.

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Sotomayor lied about the right to bear arms; what's Kagan going to lie about as she bobs and weaves in the kabuki theater

The most important question members of the Senate Judiciary Committee should ask Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan is, "Who do you think you are kidding?"

The hearings process for high court nominees has become ritualized to the point that it is almost useless. Nominees are extensively coached to avoid voicing a real opinion. There is no intellectual give and take. Spontaneity is largely absent. Anyone who can reasonably keep his cool and regurgitate platitudes for a few hours can enjoy a lifetime appointment to the most important judicial body in the land.

Ms. Kagan is playing her expected role in the predictable manner. We saw the same kabuki dance during the hearings for Justice Sonia Sotomayor less than a year ago. When asked by the sympathetic Sen. Patrick J. Leahy, Vermont Democrat, if she agreed that "the Supreme Court decided in Heller that the personal right to bear arms is guaranteed by the Second Amendment of the Constitution against federal law restrictions," Ms. Sotomayor answered: "It is." Yet her answer to this obviously staged question was untruthful. On Monday, Justice Sotomayor joined the Supreme Court minority in saying that there is "nothing in the Second Amendment's text, history or underlying rationale that could warrant characterizing it as 'fundamental,' insofar as it seeks to protect the keeping and bearing of arms for private self-defense purposes." In other words, when she said the right to bear arms was guaranteed, she lied.

For her part, Ms. Kagan is equally dishonest when she says that she would approach her duty impartially. We know the intellectual milieu from which she has emerged. We know that her heart and mind are devoted to leftist causes and that she can be counted on to find rationales to further those aims in whatever cases come before the court.

Obama administration shoveled out cash and got no result while Reagan cut taxes and slowed spending, stimulating recovery

The administration's stimulus program has failed. Growth is slow and unemployment remains high. The president, his friends and advisers talk endlessly about the circumstances they inherited as a way of avoiding responsibility for the 18 months for which they are responsible.

But they want new stimulus measures—which is convincing evidence that they too recognize that the earlier measures failed. And so the U.S. was odd-man out at the G-20 meeting over the weekend, continuing to call for more government spending in the face of European resistance.

The contrast with President Reagan's antirecession and pro-growth measures in 1981 is striking. Reagan reduced marginal and corporate tax rates and slowed the growth of nondefense spending. Recovery began about a year later. After 18 months, the economy grew more than 9% and it continued to expand above trend rates.

Two overarching reasons explain the failure of Obamanomics. First, administration economists and their outside supporters neglected the longer-term costs and consequences of their actions. Second, the administration and Congress have through their deeds and words heightened uncertainty about the economic future. High uncertainty is the enemy of investment and growth.

This explains why so many Americans despise their government

Did McChrystal choose an inelegant escape from his own trap?

One big question that hangs over the quick end of General Stanley McChrystal's mission in Afghanistan: Why would a West Point and Kennedy School of Government graduate who runs eight miles a day, sleeps four hours and is smart as a whip ever do something so dumb as to talk to a Rolling Stone reporter?

Well, maybe he wasn't so dumb after all. Reading the accounts of McChrystal's last months on the job, I think it is clear the general had become so conflicted about the rules of engagement he was imposing on his troops that he finally said "The hell with it. Let Rolling Stone run with this story and see what happens."

The clues are all in the Rolling Stone article (which the magazine -- sickeningly -- is billing on its website as "the article that changed history"). The key section deals with the new rules of engagement (ROE) that McChrystal had begun to impose on his troops. The average infantryman was reacting with a mounting sense of betrayal and anger. Some described the new regimen as "being handcuffed." Rolling Stone reporter Richard Hastings reports one GI writing McChrystal to ask, "Why are we not allowed to defend ourselves?"

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Can government tell us what to eat? Kagan struggles with reply

After 70 days of failure, White House accepts help with oil spill

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The United States is accepting help from 12 countries and international organizations in dealing with the massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

The State Department said in a statement Tuesday that the U.S. is working out the particulars of the help that's been accepted.

The identities of all 12 countries and international organizations were not immediately announced. One country was cited in the State Department statement -- Japan, which is providing two high-speed skimmers and fire containment boom.

More than 30 countries and international organizations have offered to help with the spill. The State Department hasn't indicated why some offers have been accepted and others have not. charges BP oil spill was deliberately staged

Minnesotans for Global Warming finds the field of true believers shrinking fast, even though Al Gore still seems to feel the heat

There used to be 2,500 scientists who said they believed in man-made global warming. Now, in a new study done by the The National Academy of Sciences, that number is down to only 1,372. And of that number 3% now don't believe in man-made Global Warming anymore.

Of course this number pails in comparison to the 31,000 scientist who have signed a petition saying they don't believe in man-made global warming.

Let's see 97% of 1,372 is 1,330 who still believe in the myth, compared to 31,487 who don't. So only 1 out 24 scientists still believes in man-made global warming.

Opposed to new fees, Sen. Scott Brown blocks financial reform

Senate and House conferees on Wall Street reform are reconvening Tuesday because of Republican objections to $19 billion in fees that would be placed on big financial firms.

The meeting follows Sen. Scott Brown's (R-Mass.) letter to the chairmen of the conference committee on Tuesday, in which he said he would oppose the Wall Street overhaul bill as it stands.

In a letter to Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) and Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.), Brown expressed "strong opposition" to the fees that were added in the conference process between House and Senate lawmakers last week.

"If the final version of the bill contains these higher taxes, I will not support it," he said.

Maine Republican Sens. Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe, who like Brown had voted for the Senate version of Wall Street reform, which didn't include the fees, have voiced similar concerns.

The objections have left Senate Democrats scrambling for a way to pass the bill.

Under the title "Dumb and dumber," a prof schools Hillary

Hillary Clinton, in a recent address at the Brookings Institution: "The rich are not paying their fair share in any nation that is facing the kind of employment issues [the U.S. is] -- whether it's individual, corporate or whatever the taxation forms are...Brazil has the highest tax-to-GDP rate in the Western Hemisphere, and guess what --- they're growing like crazy. And the rich are getting richer, but they're pulling people out of poverty."

Economics Prof. Ralph R. Reiland, in a piece titled Dumb and Dumber, responded in the American Spectator:

"In fact, Brazil doesn't have the highest tax-to-GDP rate in the Western Hemisphere. Cuba wins that race to fully bloated statism and excessive confiscation of income and wealth. And guess what --- they're not growing like crazy and there's still a shortage of fish even though the country is surrounded by water.

Fishing isn't easy, explains Nick Miroff, a correspondent who covers Cuba for, when "Cuba's communist government is so paranoid about illegal departures to the United States that it strictly controls who can own or use boats."

Imagine a nice day on the water. You're nothing, a peon, and the government is everything. You're on a dinky raft held together by some inner tube strips from a '59 Chevy, trying to hook a fish for dinner when some gun-toting government enforcers pull up in a speed boat. "Hey, nutso," they holler (that's "estar mal de la azotea" in Spanish, i.e., "to be off one's nut"), "you a mental case, crazy enough to try to escape to the U.S. hell from the workers' paradise?"

Then the water cops confiscate your fishing rod and you feel lucky that you weren't dropped in a dungeon for 10 years for excessive individualism and trying to steal a sea trout from the people.

Hillary also got it wrong about Brazil growing fast by way of excessively squeezing the rich and by having the highest tax-to-GDP rate. The top marginal tax rate on income in Brazil is 27.5 percent, a substantially lower rate than the 35 percent (and soon to be 39.6 percent) top rate in the United States.

Similarly, the top corporate tax rate in Brazil is 34 percent, lower than the combined federal and state corporate tax of 39.1 percent in the United States, the second-highest rate in the industrialized world (only Japan's 39.5 percent combined rate is higher than the U.S. rate, but 24 states in the U.S. have a combined corporate tax rate higher than top-ranked Japan). 

In other words, if Hillary Clinton is saying that the U.S. should copy Brazil's tax structure in order to get the economy moving and stimulate job creation, that would mean a cut in the U.S. corporate tax rate and a one-third cut in the top U.S. income tax rate, the opposite of her call for higher taxes on the rich.

More broadly, Mrs. Clinton is ignoring the volumes of evidence that show a negative correlation between tax hikes and economic growth.

Kerry described as "obsessed" with climate bill that is likely to have a favorable impact on his own energy investments

Last year, in his ongoing struggle to remain relevant, Senator John Kerry (D-Mass) took the legislative reins on the contentious issue of climate change. Now Kerry, against the backdrop of an oil-soaked Gulf, is hoping to ride the current crisis to push his American Power Act to the top of the Democrats' legislative agenda and propel himself back into the national spotlight.

Tuesday's White House meeting with key administration officials and senators presents Kerry with his best chance to convince the Democratic leadership that his APA will end U.S. dependence on foreign oil while simultaneously encouraging economic growth and job creation.

Kerry has campaigned unusually hard for the bill, berating Senate colleagues on both sides of the aisle, often cornering and lecturing them on the imminent perils of climate change and the necessity of his bill. "He's so obsessed," one beleaguered Democratic senator told Politico. "Clearly it's all climate, all the time with him." A former Senate Democratic aide was asked if he knew the source of Kerry's persistence. "He's not the centrist who normally does the kinds of deals like this," the aide responded. "It's unclear why he's emerged as a central player on climate other than his interest in the subject."


According to Senator Kerry's statements for the last fiscal year, as of December 31, 2009, he and his wife owned large stakes in numerous prominent energy companies, many of which are currently lobbying Congress for legislation aimed at energy reform and stand the most to gain from passage of the APA. Yeatman and Lott singled out GE, BP, ConocoPhillips, Dupont, and Exelon as among the big winners in the APA scheme. GE in particular has been a staunch advocate of the APA. Surprisingly, or not, Kerry holds about $20 million worth of investments in all of these companies, among a slew of other energy sector giants.

For example, Senator Kerry reported owning up to $750,000 in GE; BP shares valued between $350,000 and $750,000; upwards of $350,000 in Petrobras (the state-owned Brazilian oil powerhouse); $100,000 in Suncor Energy; $500,000 in Rio Tinto; $650,000 in ConocoPhillips; $750,000 in Total (an offshore oil, natural gas, and alternative energy company); $500,000 each in Dresser-Rand Group and Consol Energy; and as much as $1,000,000 each in Ultra Petroleum Corp, Chicago Bridge and Iron, Newfield Exploration Inc., Noble Energy Inc., Roper Industries, Smith International Inc., Thermo Fisher Scientific, Ansys Inc., and Praxair Inc.

From these investments Kerry accrued anywhere from $753,000 to roughly $5 million in unearned income from dividends and capital gains in the last year alone. In one instance, Senator Kerry sold his stake in Apache Corp. for a nifty dividend of up to $1 million. Kerry was not available for comment on this story.

Such investments among lawmakers are all too common. The Washington Post recently reported that almost across the board, congressmen hold a disproportionately high amount of assets in those industries they directly regulate or craft legislation for. For example, those on the House Agriculture Committee held larger than average holdings in agriculture. Key members of the Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee, the House Homeland Security Committee, and the House Energy and Commerce Committee held above average holdings in the industries under their jurisdiction.

Democrat congressman says oil spill response is "incompetent"

GULFPORT -- As oil spread as close as 1½ miles from Jackson County's coast Saturday, U.S. Rep. Gene Taylor called the response to the Deepwater Horizon oil disaster "incompetent."

"I'm having a Katrina flashback," said the Bay St. Louis Democrat after an aerial survey of the Mississippi Sound and barrier islands Saturday morning. "I haven't seen this much incompetence since Michael Brown was running FEMA."

Brown was the FEMA director who was fired for a faulty response to Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

Taylor flew with U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Tupelo, as far east as Ship Island and west to Cat Island from the Gulfport airport on a National Guard Black Hawk helicopter.

Taylor said U.S. Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen, who heads the spill response, should fix problems that include a lack of direction and equipment.

"Vessels of Opportunity do not identify themselves," said Taylor. "There is no way to communicate with them.

All those boats are running around like headless chickens. None of them are skimming for oil. It is criminal. Between the amount of money, the amount of wasted effort, there shouldn't be a drop of oil in the Mississippi Sound, but because of this incompetence, it is there."

Your tax dollars at work

( - The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), a component of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), has so far awarded $1.44 million in federal funds to a project that, among other things, is estimating the size of the population and examining the “social milieu” of male prostitutes in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.

“In Study 1, formative ethnography will be used to describe the settings, venues, and overall social milieu in which male sex work is being situated,” says the NIH abstract for the grant. “In Study 2, we will conduct a Capture-Recapture Survey to estimate the size of the male sex worker population in each city.”

The grant project began in July 2008 and is scheduled to run through March 2012. In fiscal year 2008, the NIH awarded the project $534,201 in federal funds. In fiscal year 2009, the NIH awarded the project $465,974; and in fiscal year 2010, the NIH awarded the project $442,340. So far, a total of $1,442,515 in federal funds have been awarded to the project.

The NIH abstract for the grant says the study of HIV infections in Vietnam has only recently begun to pay attention to “men who have sex with men.”

“This study seeks to address an important public health question: what is the impact of male sex work on the growing HIV epidemics in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam?” says the NIH abstract. “HIV rates in Vietnam are rapidly increasing, and yet there are limited data on the role that different populations play in this increase. Existing data are based on the assumption that HIV is found primarily in injection drug users and female sex workers, with only recent attention being paid to men who have sex with men.”

U.S. government is way too big for private sector to thrive

Expose the authorship of "the narrative," win $100,000

Monday, June 28, 2010

Supremes rule against Kagan, whose score is 3 wins, 2 losses

Elena Kagan’s Supreme Court confirmation hearings haven’t even begun, and the score is already 1-0 against her.

The Supreme Court on Monday morning ruled against Ms. Kagan in a case she had argued as solicitor general when it decided that a quasi government agency that audits public companies is unconstitutional. The board’s members are appointed and removed by the Securities and Exchange Commission, and not the president – a violation of Article II of the Constitution, which vests executive power in the president, the court ruled.

The board, called the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board, was created under the 2002 law known as Sarbanes-Oxley. Ms. Kagan, arguing on behalf of the Obama administration, had made the case that the president appoints and can remove S.E.C. commissioners, and thus, by extension, has control over the accounting board.

The White House notes that Ms. Kagan’s overall Supreme Court record is 3-2. That is, three wins and two losses in the five cases she has argued. (The other loss was in the Citizens United case, in which the court lifted limits on corporate spending to influence elections.)

Monday’s ruling is a narrow one, however, and experts anticipate Congress will simply amend the Sarbanes-Oxley Act to allow the accounting board to remain in existence.

As the oil spill spreads, college kids using daddy's boat search for oil, the Coast Guard counts life preservers, and others "do squat"

So far, the effort to contain the spill has been pathetic. Oil washes up, and after a while a truck arrives with a cleaning crew hired from distant states, who mop-up or shovel it into plastic bags that may or may not get picked up later. They then return to sit under a tent until the next call comes or, as has happened in a few cases, a sheriff arrives to arrest them on outstanding warrants. Meantime, fleets of college kids using daddy’s fishing boat are being paid up to $2,000 a day to tool around looking for oil.

Each morning seems to bring a new fool’s errand. On June 18, for example, the U.S. Coast Guard apprehended a dozen oil-skimming barges in the midst of performing their duty, and shut down their operations for the rest of the day in order to determine if they were carrying the proper number of life preservers and fire extinguishers. If the Coast Guard was so worried about safety, why not simply take a big pile of life preservers and fire extinguishers out to these craft and hand them around, so that the skimmers could keep at their essential job?

But that is not the way government operates. At least not this government, which has created a perfect storm of bureaucratic and regulatory gridlock around the Deep-water Horizon disaster. Whatever is done to prevent the oil from coming ashore must be approved by the EPA, OSHA, the Army Corps of Engineers, the Coast Guard, and a host of lesser bureaucracies.

The world has watched the excruciating process unfold and learned strange new expressions such as “Top Hat,” “Junk Shot,” and “Top Kill.” Nothing worked until finally some sort of contraption was lowered over the leaking well, which now captures much of the oil. But why did this all drag out so long, with weeks passing in between BP’s various attempts to stem the flow? Apparently BP would wait until one effort failed before starting another, instead of having everything in place for a new attempt as soon as they gave up on the last. What were our leaders thinking?

All the while, a gargantuan mass of oil has been accumulating in the Gulf of Mexico—not as a monolithic slick, but in many forms. It comes sometimes as thousands, or even hundreds of thousands, of foamy fingers of “orange mousse” or as a sheen or as tarballs or in thick brown globs or pods of oily slab hundreds of acres (or even miles) wide. Day and night it drifts out there, twisting and turning amorphously with the wind, tides, and currents, and washing ashore from Louisiana to Florida—soiling, stinking, killing. And what were the responsible parties doing all this time—those institutions that are supposed to be protecting citizens from this kind of nightmare? From all appearances, they were doing squat!

Justice Department practices race-conscious civil rights law

...the Obama administration doesn’t believe some civil rights laws protect every American. The Bush Civil Rights Division was willing to protect all Americans from racial discrimination; during the Obama years, the Holder years, only some Americans will be protected. Americans have a right to know and judge the racial policies of the administration they elected in 2008.

The dismissal of the voter intimidation lawsuit against armed New Black Panthers in Philadelphia is the most prominent example of this hostility toward race-neutral enforcement of civil rights laws. But that dismissal is far from the only manifestation of the beliefs infesting the Department. Many other cases and decisions — some of which I will detail below — are in question and deserve scrutiny.

On Election Day 2008, armed men wearing the uniforms and jackboots of the New Black Panther Party were posted in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, at the entrance to a polling site. They brandished a weapon and intimidated voters. After the election, the Civil Rights Division at the U.S. Department of Justice brought a voter intimidation case against the New Black Panther Party and these armed thugs. I, and other Justice lawyers, obtained an entry of default after the defendants ignored the case against them.

Before a final judgment could be entered, however, our superiors ordered dismissal of the claims.

Congress has sought answers from the Department about why the Black Panther case was dismissed. The Department has repeatedly claimed the “facts and law” did not support the case — which of course is false. Others have speculated about a White House involvement. But I believe the best explanation for the corrupt dismissal of the case is the profound hostility by the Obama Civil Rights Division in the Justice Department towards a race-neutral enforcement of civil rights laws.

This hostility was — and is — on open display within the Department of Justice.

Pioneering 350-foot Taiwanese oil skimmer sails for Gulf spill

With no assurances it will be allowed to join the Gulf of Mexico oil spill cleanup, a Taiwanese-owned ship billed as the world’s largest skimming vessel was preparing to sail Friday evening to the scene of the Deepwater Horizon disaster.

The ship—the length of 3 1/2 football fields and 10 stories high—is designed to collect up to 500,000 barrels of oily water a day through 12 vents on either side of its bow. It docked in Norfolk en route to the Gulf from Portugal, where it was retrofitted to skim the seas. The ship and its crew of 32 were to leave Virginia waters Friday evening.

The owners of the “A Whale” said the ship features a new skimming approach that has never been attempted on such a large scale. They are anxious to put it to its first test in the Gulf.

“We really have to start showing people what we can do,“ said Bob Grantham, project coordinator for TMT Group, a Taiwan-based shipping company.

The company is still negotiating with the Coast Guard to join the cleanup and does not have a contract with BP to perform cleanup work. The company also needs environmental approval and waiver of a nearly century-old law aimed at protecting U.S. shipping interests.

Environmental Protection Agency approval is required because some of the seawater returned to the Gulf would have traces of oil.

The Coast Guard, which has received more than 2,000 cleanup proposals, said the supertanker skimmer had survived a preliminary review and was being studied further.

Capt. Ron LaBrec said that initial review involves a number of government agencies, including the EPA.

One question, he said, is: “Will a large vessel like this be able to operate this in this kind of area?“

If the ship passes the additional review, its owners could then negotiate terms with BP. He could not provide an estimated timetable for the review would be completed.

The company said it also needs a waiver of the 1920 Jones Act, which limits the activities of foreign-flagged ships in coastal U.S. waters. The A Whale is Liberian-flagged vessel.

Grantham said TMT was hopeful it could secure the necessary approvals during the ship’s three-day passage to the Gulf.

The converted oil tanker has the capacity of holding 2 million barrels, but would limit its holding tanks to 1 million barrels for environmental reasons. Oil skimmed up by the tanker would be separated from seawater, then transferred to another vessel.

Its owners claim the ship could gulp oily water at a daily rate that nearly matches the skimming total to date in the Gulf.

Nobu Su, CEO and founder of TMT group, compared the massive ship to a whale scooping up small fish. He said cappuccino-colored oily water would be processed through several tanks to extract oil the color of espresso.

He said the ship was engineered to skim oil shortly after its construction in South Korea this year after he recognized the “catastrophic” oil spill would require extraordinary measures.

“I believe this spill is unprecedented and you need an unprecedented solution,“ said T.K. Ong, senior vice president for TMT.

The effort received the endorsement of at least one Louisiana resident.

Edward Overton, a professor emeritus from Louisiana State University, was among the visitors at the port where the A Whale was berthed. He called the current cleanup inadequate.

U.S. rejected Dutch technology that might have avoided much of the damage from the Gulf oil spill; it wasn't pure enough

Some are attuned to the possibility of looming catastrophe and know how to head it off. Others are unprepared for risk and even unable to get their priorities straight when risk turns to reality.

The Dutch fall into the first group. Three days after the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico began on April 20, the Netherlands offered the U.S. government ships equipped to handle a major spill, one much larger than the BP spill that then appeared to be underway. "Our system can handle 400 cubic metres per hour," Weird Koops, the chairman of Spill Response Group Holland, told Radio Netherlands Worldwide, giving each Dutch ship more cleanup capacity than all the ships that the U.S. was then employing in the Gulf to combat the spill.

To protect against the possibility that its equipment wouldn't capture all the oil gushing from the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico, the Dutch also offered to prepare for the U.S. a contingency plan to protect Louisiana's marshlands with sand barriers. One Dutch research institute specializing in deltas, coastal areas and rivers, in fact, developed a strategy to begin building 60-mile-long sand dikes within three weeks.

The Dutch know how to handle maritime emergencies. In the event of an oil spill, The Netherlands government, which owns its own ships and high-tech skimmers, gives an oil company 12 hours to demonstrate it has the spill in hand. If the company shows signs of unpreparedness, the government dispatches its own ships at the oil company's expense. "If there's a country that's experienced with building dikes and managing water, it's the Netherlands," says Geert Visser, the Dutch consul general in Houston.

In sharp contrast to Dutch preparedness before the fact and the Dutch instinct to dive into action once an emergency becomes apparent, witness the American reaction to the Dutch offer of help. The U.S. government responded with "Thanks but no thanks," remarked Visser, despite BP's desire to bring in the Dutch equipment and despite the no-lose nature of the Dutch offer --the Dutch government offered the use of its equipment at no charge. Even after the U.S. refused, the Dutch kept their vessels on standby, hoping the Americans would come round. By May 5, the U.S. had not come round. To the contrary, the U.S. had also turned down offers of help from 12 other governments, most of them with superior expertise and equipment --unlike the U.S., Europe has robust fleets of Oil Spill Response Vessels that sail circles around their make-shift U.S. counterparts.

Why does neither the U.S. government nor U.S. energy companies have on hand the cleanup technology available in Europe? Ironically, the superior European technology runs afoul of U.S. environmental rules. The voracious Dutch vessels, for example, continuously suck up vast quantities of oily water, extract most of the oil and then spit overboard vast quantities of nearly oil-free water. Nearly oil-free isn't good enough for the U.S. regulators, who have a standard of 15 parts per million -- if water isn't at least 99.9985% pure, it may not be returned to the Gulf of Mexico.

Nick Gillespie offers an unauthorized obituary for Robert Byrd's Byrd's status as the Babe Ruth of pork-barrel spending and taxpayer-funded narcissism that is his real legacy and the one we should never forget or forgive. Here lies a man who pushed his home state to build a statue of him in defiance of a rule that such honorees be dead for 50 years.

Back in 2006, Citizens Against Government Waste called Byrd the "Emperor Palpatine of Pork" and gave him their lifetime achievement award, writing

In his over forty-eight years (!) in the United States Senate, Senator Byrd has achieved a pork record that is second to none. From the Robert C. Byrd Expressway to the Robert C. Byrd Freeway; the Robert C. Byrd Institute to the Robert C. Byrd Federal Building (both of them), Senator Byrd has truly left his mark on West Virginia --- and the federal budget. (And let us not overlook the proposed Robert C. Byrd rooms in the U.S. Capitol.) It would be appropriate to erect some kind of monument to his century-spanning resume --- except that he already did so himself.

He was like Radar O'Reilly in the early episodes of the TV show M*A*S*H, slowly shipping home the entire federal government piece by piece to his Mountain Mama.

It always happens that press corps and political opponents go mushy at the moment of death - even the execrable Sen. Strom Thurmond received a ton of unearned praise as he was finally being lowered into the ground. But in weak-kneed moments, it's all the more important to remember negative legacies. Byrd was famous for carrying a Constitution with him at all times. In some cases, he even used it to argue against things like the Iraq War. But mostly it was cover for an expansionist vision of government and you wouldn't catch him invoking limitations to the commerce clause if he wanted the spending or power attached. Even his supposed dedication to limiting executive power seemed to be mostly an argument for increased Senatorial power.

Characters like Rep. Jack Murtha (D-Penn.), another recently deceased pork-barrel prodigy, and Byrd might have been larger than life but they worked to corrode any integrity voters and critics of government might find in legislators. We're grown-ups here in America and we're supposed to be able to take care of ourselves with a minimum of paternalistic help.

Supreme Court extends right to bear arms to localities and states, ruling for National Rifle Association against Chicago

A divided U.S. Supreme Court extended the reach of the constitutional right to bear arms by saying it binds state and local governments as well as federal officials.

The justices, voting 5-4 in a case involving Chicago’s handgun ban, said an individual right to bear arms was among the fundamental guarantees protected against state interference through a constitutional amendment after the Civil War.

“A provision in the Bill of Rights that protects a right that is fundamental from an American perspective applies equally to the federal government and the states,” Justice Samuel Alito wrote for the court.

The ruling broadens the sweep of the court’s 2008 ruling interpreting the Constitution’s Second Amendment as protecting the rights of individuals, rather than just those of state-run militias. It’s a victory for the National Rifle Association, which joined a group of Chicago residents in challenging the city’s laws.

It will open a new front in the fight over gun rights, setting the stage for courtroom battles over the constitutionality of weapons restrictions around the country.

The high court’s 2008 decision said the right to bear arms “is not unlimited.” The majority said the ruling didn’t cast doubt on laws barring handgun possession by convicted felons and the mentally ill or restrictions on bringing guns into schools or government buildings.

Gallup Poll

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Saying you're running against Barney Frank may be all you need

In Spain, fanatical social engineeering is merging with terrorism and U.S. subsidies and mandates are financing the enterprise

Spain’s Dr. Gabriel Calzada — the author of a damning study concluding that Spain’s “green jobs” energy program has been a catastrophic economic failure — was mailed a dismantled bomb on Tuesday by solar energy company Thermotechnic.

Says Calzada: Before opening it, I called [Thermotechnic] to know what was inside … they answered, it was their answer to my energy pieces.

Dr. Calzada contacted a terrorism expert to handle the package. The expert first performed a scan of the package, then opened it in front of a journalist, Dr. Calzada, and a private security expert.

The terrorism consultant said he had seen this before: This time you receive unconnected pieces. Next time it can explode in your hands.

Dr. Calzada added: [The terrorism expert] told me that this was a warning.

The bomb threat is just the latest intimidation Dr. Calzada has faced since releasing his report and following up with articles in Expansion (a Spanish paper similar to the Financial Times). A minister from Spain’s Socialist government called the rector of King Juan Carlos University — Dr. Calzada’s employer — seeking Calzada’s ouster. Calzada was not fired, but he was stripped of half of his classes at the university. The school then dropped its accreditation of a summer university program with which Calzada’s think tank — Instituto Juan de Mariana — was associated.

Additionally, the head of Spain’s renewable energy association and the head of its communist trade union wrote opinion pieces in top Spanish newspapers accusing Calzada of being “unpatriotic” — they did not charge him with being incorrect, but of undermining Spain by daring to write the report.

Their reasoning? If the skepticism that Calzada’s revelations prompted were to prevail in the U.S., Spanish industry would face collapse should U.S. subsidies and mandates dry up.

Democrats put Ken Salazar under informal witness protection

Word came down Thursday evening from the House Energy and Commerce Committee Democrats:

“The joint hearing of the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations and the Subcommittee on Energy and the Environment entitled 'The Role of the Interior Department in the Deepwater Horizon Disaster,' scheduled for Tuesday, June 29, 2010 has been postponed. A new date and time for the hearing is to be determined.”

The star witness of the scheduled hearing? Interior Secretary Ken Salazar.

Rep. Michael Burgess (R-Texas), top Republican on the subcommittee has repeatedly requested oversight testimony from the Obama administration on their actions in the wake of the Deepwater Horizon rig explosion.

The Majority has set up the greatest Witness Protection program this Congress has seen,” Burgess said. “Secretary Salazar had already agreed to be present for next Tuesday’s hearing, so it appears that the Democrats are delaying this hearing for purely political reasons.”

Big problems arose from Salazar’s appearance before a Senate interior appropriations subcommittee when he testified of his intent to reinstate the offshore drilling ban.

Lawyers for the plaintiffs in Hornbeck v. Salazar -- the case responsible for the injunction against the drilling ban -- notified the judge of Salazar’s intent to defy his preliminary injunction after the Salazar testimony.

Public schools: No bang for the big bucks

Saturday, June 26, 2010

If Obama legalizes illegals by order, would impeachment ensue?

Fox News' Bill O'Reilly is warning that if President Barack Obama ever bypasses Congress and uses his pardon power to make millions of illegal aliens citizens, he could face serious calls for his impeachment.

“If President Obama were to sign an executive order giving illegal aliens amnesty, his career would be over and an impeachment movement would explode,” O'Reilly said Friday night on his “Talking Points” segment during his top-rated Fox show.

At the same time, O'Reilly said he did not believe reports that the Obama administration would grant such a blanket amnesty.

Fox News, however, reported this week: “The Obama administration has been holding behind-the-scenes talks to determine whether the Department of Homeland Security can unilaterally grant legal status on a mass basis to illegal immigrants, a former Bush administration official who spoke with at least three people involved in those talks told”

The Department of Homeland Security estimates that at least 10.8 million illegal immigrants are living in the United States.

During his 2008 campaign, Obama promised pro-immigration and Hispanic groups that he would make an amnesty program a top priority. But such a plan has taken a back seat in favor of other Obama legislative initiatives, including healthcare and financial regulation reform.

With congressional elections fast approaching, both the legislative calendar and the climate for new immigration legislation appears to offer immigration legislation a slim chance of passing this year.

Republicans, led by Arizona Sen. John McCain, have been angered that Obama has done little to secure the U.S.-Mexico border, and have made that a prerequisite condition before any discussion of immigration reform can take place.

Reports that the Obama administration is weighing ways to circumvent Congress have Republicans worried. On Monday, eight Republican senators sent the president a letter saying they are concerned that he will grant unilateral amnesty to America's illegal immigrant population if his efforts to overhaul current U.S. policy fails in Congress.

Census job creation: 10,000 surveys redone because of fakery

Two Census Bureau managers from a Brooklyn field office were fired after their bosses found they faked household surveys to meet deadlines, the Daily News learned.

Instead of pounding the pavement and knocking on doors, the corner-cutting people-counters mined the phone book and Internet to make up answers to questionnaires, regional director Tony Farthing said.

The managers - turned in by whistleblower employees - were caught last week. Now, at least 10,000 surveys need to be done or redone, officials said.

Census officials in Washington only admitted to a string of incomplete forms and poor tracking in disclosing the firings Friday afternoon. But Farthing corroborated worker accounts to the Daily News that managers Alvin Aviles and Sonya Merritt began dummying up responses in the final crush to finish the surveys, which field workers are supposed to compile from in-person household visits.

"Basically, people were being asked to forge [questionnaires]," said one worker in the North East Brooklyn office, which covers 95,000 households.

"We went in and did a full investigation," Farthing said. "We found out two managers on the weekend of the 12th of June cheated by using phone books or Internet sources."

A worker told the Daily News that when field interviewers returned to the office with blank forms, Aviles also enlisted some of them in the scheme. "He had people fill them in," the worker said.

Aviles and Merritt could not immediately be reached for comment.

Farthing said he believes the branch's earlier work is kosher, but the pair decided to break the rules at crunch time when they were looking at a huge stack of unfinished surveys, and their bosses were pushing for results, even if it meant more night work.

"We were telling them to go back on all non-interviews and hit this stuff hard. None of this 9-to-5 stuff, go when they know someone will be home," Farthing said. It was then, Farthing said, that the managers "came up with the bright idea, or not-so-bright idea" - to save time.

The Census bureau was not able to estimate how much it will cost to redo all the work, but a spokesman said it was not an issue because the bureau was under budget on the massive project. Farthing said the honest workers left in the office are redoing 5,000 or so interviews that may be tainted.

The masseuse describes her session with Al Gore

Masseuse who wants $1 million for more on Gore is leaving way too much money on the table

The Portland masseuse who has accused Al Gore of groping her in 2006 is offering to tell more for $1 million. In my judgment, she's leaving too much money on the table.

The problem is that she apparently sees this as a two-party transaction. One party is Al Gore, who stands to endure more embarrassment than he already has. The other is the masseuse, who stands to pocket $1 million in exchange for her story.

In fact, however, there are other deep-pocketed parties that stand to lose, or gain, much more depending on whether this story has legs or soon recedes into the noisy background of American life.

There is General Electric, which has invested heavily in green technology and propaganda in the belief that the future would be green. That assumption already is in question, given the exposure of the fraudulent science that has powered global warming theory.

Now, Gore, perhaps the best-known public face of the global warming movement, appears to be on the cusp of prolonged embarrassment. At some point, even self-sacrificial Democrats will start jumping off this sinking ship.

General Electric and a lot of other rent-seeking coporate enlistees in the green movement have a lot to lose. They might be willing to make a bid to short-circuit the current embarrassing Gore story.

So, too, might Gore.

In these circumstances, soiled slacks that may contain Gore's DNA ought to be worth more than $1 million.

Page Six says masseuse will put Gore grope on Page One for $1m

Sources tell Page Six the so-far unidentified Oregon woman is ready to publicly reveal herself and heap more embarrassment on the former vice president in return for a seven-figure media deal. And she intends to use the pants she wore on the night of the alleged incident -- supposedly stained with Gore's DNA and stored in a bank safety-deposit box -- as evidence against Gore, who recently split with wife Tipper.

A source told us, "She's ready to come forward and sell the story with even more salacious details. But she wants $1 million. Her attorney is shopping for a deal, and while there are many media outlets interested, there are negotiations going on because the price tag is way too high."

The woman filed a police statement accusing Gore of sexual "abuse" after a massage at Portland's Hotel Lucia in October 2006. The statement described how during the session, he allegedly "began to demand that I go lower . . . It appeared that he was demanding sexual favors or sexual behaviors." She claimed he "angrily complained that I was not doing what he wanted."

She alleged, "He grabbed my right hand hard, shoved it down under the sheet to his pubic-hair area . . . and said to me, 'There!' in a very sharp, loud, angry-sounding tone."

She added, "He had a dramatic display of violent temper as well as an extremely dictatorial commanding attitude besides his Mr. Smiley Global Warming concern persona. I did not want to get hurt, and I did not want to get raped."

Portland police say the investigation was dropped because "there was insufficient evidence to support the allegations" and the woman declined to seek prosecution.

Gore spokeswoman Kalee Kreider, who declined to comment after The Enquirer broke the story earlier this week, did not get back to us last night.

Friday, June 25, 2010

62% think U.S. is on the wrong track; 48% disapprove of Obama

The two-month-old oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico is taking a major toll on President Obama’s presidency, according to a new poll released Wednesday evening.

The Wall Street Journal/NBC News survey of 1,000 adults also shows that Obama is suffering from a backlash against his policies, and that the nation remains generally conservative on issues of government spending and the size of government.

The number of Americans who think the country is on the wrong track is the highest of Obama’s presidency in this particular poll, at 62 percent. And disapproval of Obama’s job performance has also climbed to an all-time high in these polls, at 48 percent, while approval is at an all-time low, at 45 percent.

The number of people who are “not at all confident” that Obama has the right “goals and policies to be president of the United States” – 37 percent – has also spiked up significantly since January, when that number was 29 percent.

Attitudes about the future of the U.S. economy were also more pessimistic in the poll than of any during Obama’s time in office, with only 33 percent saying they think it will get better, down from 40 percent in May.

Americans’ faith in Obama’s ability to handle a crisis has slipped significantly since January. Specifically on the oil spill, 42 percent said they approved of Obama’s handling of the ongoing disaster, while 50 percent said they disapproved. However, more people blamed the Interior Department – headed by Secretary Ken Salazar – the Environmental Protection Agency, and oil giant BP for not doing enough about the problem than those who blamed Obama or Congress.

As for Congress, the survey showed Republicans with a major edge going into this fall’s midterm elections, but not without weak points of their own.

More are now in favor of a GOP-controlled Congress than those who favor Democratic control, by a 45 to 43 percent margin.

42% identify selves as conservative, a Gallup record if it holds

PRINCETON, NJ -- Conservatives have maintained their leading position among U.S. ideological groups in the first half of 2010. Gallup finds 42% of Americans describing themselves as either very conservative or conservative. This is up slightly from the 40% seen for all of 2009 and contrasts with the 20% calling themselves liberal or very liberal.

The 2010 results are based on eight Gallup and USA Today/Gallup surveys conducted from January through June, encompassing interviews with more than 8,000 U.S. adults. The 42% identifying as conservative represents a continuation of the slight but statistically significant edge conservatives achieved over moderates in 2009. Should that figure hold for all of 2010, it would represent the highest annual percentage identifying as conservative in Gallup's history of measuring ideology with this wording, dating to 1992.

Sweden is recovering from socialism while the U.S. sinks deeper

To the American mind there may be nothing more quintessentially Swedish than the leggy, blond supermodel.

But there’s another Swedish model that inspires almost as much admiration—the Swedish economic model. With a generous welfare state and high living standards, Sweden seems to prove that socialism works. Much of the hope that swept Barack Obama into the White House rests on the belief that America could reach new heights under a regime of enlightened progressivism, that we could be more like the Swedes.

Not so fast, warns Stockholm University sociologist Charlotta Stern: “If an American told me that the US should be more like Sweden I would say I don’t think it’s possible.” The United States can centralize its health care system and pass other laws that mimic Sweden’s welfare state polices, says Stern, but it’s impossible to replicate a culture that allows those policies to operate about as smoothly as possible. Swedish bureaucracies inspire trust, but their American counterparts (DMV, TSA, IRS) inspire punch lines, if not outrage.

But America could emulate some of the Swedish policies that don’t require extensive bureaucracies. Take school vouchers. Teachers unions in America regard the idea as free-market radicalism, but families in Sweden enjoy universal school choice. Sweden adopted its famously progressive policies during the 1970s, but after years of sluggish economic growth the land of ABBA altered its course in the 1990s, adopting a host of free-market reforms, from deregulation to tax cuts.

Although much of the disco-era welfare state remains, economist Andreas Bergh credits the free market reforms with reviving his nation’s economy. “Sweden is moving in the market economic direction,” says Bergh, “but that does not mean America should be moving in the socialist direction.”

White House deal makers go to Caribou Coffee to make deals

WASHINGTON — There are no Secret Service agents posted next to the barista and no presidential seal on the ceiling, but the Caribou Coffee across the street from the White House has become a favorite meeting spot to conduct Obama administration business.

Here at the Caribou on Pennsylvania Avenue, and a few other nearby coffee shops, White House officials have met hundreds of times over the last 18 months with prominent K Street lobbyists — members of the same industry that President Obama has derided for what he calls its “outsized influence” in the capital.

On the agenda over espressos and lattes, according to more than a dozen lobbyists and political operatives who have taken part in the sessions, have been front-burner issues like Wall Street regulation, health care rules, federal stimulus money, energy policy and climate control — and their impact on the lobbyists’ corporate clients.

But because the discussions are not taking place at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, they are not subject to disclosure on the visitors’ log that the White House releases as part of its pledge to be the “most transparent presidential administration in history.”

The off-site meetings, lobbyists say, reveal a disconnect between the Obama administration’s public rhetoric — with Mr. Obama himself frequently thrashing big industries’ “battalions” of lobbyists as enemies of reform — and the administration’s continuing, private dealings with them.

Gore's heat wave in 2006 triggers reappraisal of global warming

Climate scientists began a worldwide review of global warming theory on Thursday after reading reports about a 2006 encounter between Al Gore and a masseuse in Oregon.

The woman claimed in a statement to police that Gore had fondled and groped her during a massage. She described the former vice president as a giggling "crazed sex poodle" who gave her a "come hither" look before pouncing on her in a Portland hotel suite.

The alleged victim was a 54-year-old massage therapist at the luxury Hotel Lucia where Gore was staying on his trip to campaign for Oregon Gov. Ted Kulongoski. Gore -- who registered at the hotel under the name “Mr. Stone” -- ordered the $540 in-room massage for 11 p.m. through the hotel’s front desk.

Human Events _ and this is, indeed, a very human event _summarizes what is known about the 2006 heat wave as follows:

"When the experienced, licensed massage therapist arrived at Gore’s hotel room door, he embraced her.

“The hug went on a bit too long and I was a bit taken aback by it,” she told the police. “If it weren't Al Gore I would have seriously questioned the situation right there because a hug from an unknown male client before a session is a bit odd and unprofessional by typical LMT [Licensed Massage Therapist] business standards.”

The woman said Gore requested she massage his abdomen, and while she did, “he became somewhat vocal with muffled moans etc. he began demanding I go lower and massaging on the abdominal area.” She became “so freaked” that she “decided to clarify things by asking him as he angrily complained that I was not doing what he wanted, for him to show me exactly what he wanted me to do, such as where to massage.”

Then the former Vice President allegedly grabbed her hand and “shoved it down under the sheet to his pubic hair area… and said ‘There!’ in a very sharp, loud, angry-sounding tone.” She refused to perform a sexual act on him and pulled back her hand.

While she was packing up her massage table, Gore pursued trying to have sex with her. The woman says Gore physically attacked her by caressing her “buttocks and breasts” and “forced an open-mouth kiss” and “pressing his body” against her while wearing only a bathrobe.

She told the police that Gore insisted she sit on the bed and listen to the Pink song “Dear Mr. President.” Ironically, the alleged victim voted for Gore for President in 2000.

As she sat on the edge of the hotel bed, she said Gore “flipped me flat on my back and threw his whole body face down over atop me, pinning me down and outweighing me by quite a bit.” She had to “physically struggle and wrench around” to get out from under him” and refused Gore’s repeated attempts to have sex with her.

Finally, as she was at the hotel door, she told the police that “He pleaded, grabbed me, engulfed me in embrace, tongue kissed me, massaged me, groped my breasts and painfully squeezed my nipples through my clothing, pressed his pelvis against mine, rubbed my buttocks with his hands and fingers and rubbed himself against my crotch, saying, You know you want to do it.”

When she got home, the massage therapist noticed stains on the front of her black slacks which she thought could be “bodily fluids from Gore pushing up against me repeatedly” because “he had nothing on but his hotel issued terry robe with a belt to hold it closed.”

As news of the four-year-old heat wave spread through the tight-knit world community of climate scientists, there was general agreement that a reappraisal of global warming is in order.

"We really thought that greenhouse gases had formed a canopy over the world, trapping heat and resulting in a gradual rise in temperatures," said one scientist, who asked that he not be identified.

"Now, we realize that all of the increase in heat could have come from Al Gore. This puts an entirely new slant on the science."

Maywood CA: A city that died of an overdose of radical policies

Boasting a population that is 97% Hispanic, more than half foreign born, and 40% illegal, the Los Angeles County, Calif., incorporated city of Maywood has achieved the Reconquista goal. It is now as lawless and chaotic as any place in Mexico. Maywood is a warning to every city and town in America.

The Maywood City Council announced this week that after years of radical policies, corruption and scandal, the city was broke and all city employees would be laid off and essential city services contracted out to neighboring cities or to L.A. County government.

How did this happen? Until recently, Maywood was the model for "brown power" politics.

Maywood was the first California city with an elected Hispanic City Council, one of the first "sanctuary" cities for illegal aliens, the first city to pass a resolution calling for a boycott of Arizona after that state passed a law to enforce federal immigration laws, the first California city to order its police department not to enforce state laws requiring drivers to have licenses to drive, the first American city to call on Congress to grant amnesty to all illegals.

Council meetings were conducted in Spanish. Maywood was the leader in the peaceful, democratic achievement of the La Raza goal to take power in the U.S.


Today, Maywood is broke. Its police department dismantled along with all other city departments and personnel. Only the city council remains and a city manager to manage the contracts with other agencies for city services in Maywood.

Maywood is the warning of what happens when illegal immigrants, resisting assimilation as Americans, bring with their growing numbers the corruption and the radical politics of their home countries. Add the radical home-grown anti-Americanism of Hispanic "leaders" and groups like La Raza and you get schools where learning is replaced with indoctrination, business and jobs replaced by welfare and gangs, and a poisonous stew of entitlement politics.

In too many American communities, this sad tale is all too familiar.

White House economic charts plagued by erectile dysfunction

From American Thinker:

"Today, President Obama, with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, announced funding for innovative measures to help families in the states that have been hit the hardest by the aftermath of the housing bubble... Home prices across the country are beginning to stabilize since the Administration's economic policies began to take effect in mid-2009." White House press release, February 19, 2010.

"May new home sales plunge 33%, surprising everyone." The Washington Post, June 23, 2010.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Sure, GM and Chrysler are under the thumb of the sorriest White House, but don't underestimate the power of bacon

ANN ARBOR, MICH. -- Keith and Angie Ewing left their home in Friendswood, Tex., at 6 a.m. Thursday. They skirted Shreveport, La., passed through Little Rock and Indianapolis. Twenty-one hours and 1,320 miles later, they arrived here, exhausted.

On Saturday morning, though, they knew the trip had been worth it. The sun shone brightly as the couple sat down to breakfast under a big white tent. Their plates were piled high: with hickory-smoked bacon from Edwards of Surry, Va.; long pepper bacon from Arkansas' Ham I Am; and applewood-smoked bacon from Nueske's in Wisconsin; plus bacon scones and a slice of bacon-apple coffee cake for good measure.

The Ewings' journey is proof -- as if that were necessary -- that where bacon is celebrated, people will come. But this event promised to be more than a destination for porky excess. Camp Bacon was to be a one-day Davos of cured and/or smoked pork. Many luminaries of the bacon world, plus new, rising stars, would be here: Allan Benton, the humble Tennessean whose pork bellies have made chefs swoon from New York to Napa; Herb Eckhouse, whose La Quercia pancetta and prosciutto from Iowa stand up to the best from Italy; and Nick Spencer, a Brit based in Chicago who began making back bacon this spring. Bacon poetry readings and a performance by 73-year-old R&B artist Andre Williams, who wrote a song called "Bacon Fat" in 1956, would help define the meat's cultural impact.

"It's a thinking person's bacon camp," said Ari Weinzweig, co-founder of Ann Arbor's gourmet mecca Zingerman's, which hosted the event. "I want to get people off the 'I love bacon' thing: 'Give me any and give me more.' I want them to know the differences between them and how to use them."

The American food renaissance has inspired many to more carefully consider what they eat. But although the finer points of wine, cheese, chocolate and coffee have been embraced with gusto, lots of food lovers have a blind spot for bacon. More, it seems, is always better. The obsession over smoked and cured pork belly has led less often to smart discussions of technique and history and more to bacon eat-athons, bacon memoirs, bacon air fresheners and bacon salt (motto: "Everything should taste like bacon") that contains no bacon at all.

Repeal of California's global warming law will be on 2010 ballot

From the Chico Enterprise Record:

SACRAMENTO — Assemblyman Dan Logue, R-Linda, was elated this week to learn his initiative to suspend the state’s anti-global warming law made the November ballot.
In a phone interview, Logue said he found out Tuesday the initiative had enough valid signatures.

He said the initiative needed 440,000 signatures and it got 800,000. The names were collected by volunteers and paid “signature gatherers,” he said.

AB32 became law in 2006. It provides that between 2012 and 2020, greenhouse gas emissions will be reduced to the levels they were in 1990.
Logue’s initiative would postpone the implementation of AB32 until the state’s unemployment rate stands at 5.5 percent for a year. Now the jobless rate is around 12 percent.

Suspending AB32 only makes sense, Logue said. “We can’t afford it. We’ll lose another million jobs. It will drive business out of the state.”

Aide: Obama knew of Rod Blagojevich's scheme to win cabinet post in exchange for appointing Valerie Jarrett to Senate

A top aide to former Gov. Rod Blagojevich said he believed Barack Obama knew of Blagojevich's plot to win himself a presidential Cabinet post in exchange for appointing Valerie Jarrett to the U.S. Senate.

John Harris, Blagojevich's former chief of staff, testified Wednesday in the former governor's corruption trial that three days after the Nov. 4, 2008, presidential election, the ex-governor told Harris he felt confident Obama knew he wanted to swap perks.

"The president understands that the governor would be willing to make the appointment of Valerie Jarrett as long as he gets what he's asked for. . . . The governor gets the Cabinet appointment he's asked for," Harris said, explaining a recorded call.

Harris said Blagojevich came away believing Obama knew what he wanted after having a conversation with a local union representative, who in turn spoke with labor leader Tom Balanoff, with whom Blagojevich met to discuss a Jarrett appointment. Jarrett, now a White House adviser, was seeking the appointment

Examiner editorial: The will of the people? It's only an obstacle to Obama, for whom the progressive agenda trumps everything

There is a disturbing passage in federal Judge Martin Feldman's Tuesday decision overturning President Obama's six-month moratorium on oil and natural gas drilling in all waters more than 500 feet deep. "The [Interior] Secretary's determination that a six-month moratorium on issuance of new permits and on drilling by the 33 rigs is necessary does not seem to be fact-specific and refuses to take into measure the safety records of those others in the Gulf. There is no evidence presented indicating that the Secretary balanced the concern for environmental safety with the policy of making leases available for development. There is no suggestion that the Secretary considered any alternatives. ..." Feldman wrote.

Even more disturbing is Obama's response to Feldman, which was to promise both an appeal in court and issuance of a new drilling moratorium from Interior. In other words, Obama is forging ahead with the very policy the judge just ruled unconstitutional. And the chief executive is challenging the thousands of Gulf Coast oil industry employees to try and stop him in the appeals court. This response is the latest evidence of a disconcerting pattern with this president and his cronies in the executive branch and Congress: Their "progressive" ideological agenda comes first; everything else, including the will of the people and the letter of the law, is at most an obstacle on the road to "change we can believe in."

Think about it: Large and growing majorities opposed Obamacare in public opinion survey after survey, yet Obama and his congressional allies wrote the bill behind closed doors, made multiple corrupt bargains to gain votes, and passed it anyway. When General Motors bondholders opposed Obama's takeover, he flouted age-old bankruptcy law while effectively nationalizing the automaker and handing it over to the United Auto Workers union. When auto executives expressed concern about Obama's costly increase in fuel economy standards, his chief environmental adviser warned them not to "write anything down" about their discussion.

The list goes on: When public worries about excessive federal spending began being heard on Capitol Hill, Obama appointed a rubber-stamping fiscal commission and nodded approval as congressional Democrats set aside the law that since 1974 has required Congress to approve an annual budget. When the Senate refused to vote on Obama's cap-and-trade energy bill, his Environmental Protection Agency administrator issued a threat: Either pass the bill or the agency will unilaterally impose draconian carbon emission limits on America.

Years ago, Alexander Hamilton told the New York convention considering adoption of the Constitution that "here, sir, the people govern." We wonder what he would say today after witnessing Obama in action.

Whereever we look - the Gulf, the economy, Afghanistan - Big Government arrogance and incompetence are on display

It's not just millions of gallons of black gold spilling into the Gulf of Mexico that are being lost. Also disappearing into watery despair are the last shreds of credibility for progressive Big Government.

It's Day 65 of the Deepwater Horizon spill and the only hope of stopping the flow of thick, gooey crude remains the relief well being drilled by the private sector.

None of the ass-kicking political speeches by President Obama, bureaucratic edicts by Interior Secretary Ken Salazar or EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson, or hypocritical posturing for the cameras in Congress has plugged the hole to stop the flow of suffocating oil headed to the beaches.

We see this week a remarkable confluence of events signaling the eventual end of Big Government: The bureaucrats and politicians can spend trillions but they can't plug the Gulf oil spill, agree on a budget in Congress or end the Great Recession's foreclosures and unemployment.

We've been here before. In the 1950s and '60s, Detroit's Big Three automakers utterly dominated the market. Americans bought only Chevys, Fords and Plymouths because our cars and trucks were "the standard of the world."

Detroit auto execs just laughed when Volkswagen Beetles trickled over here from Germany. Then, as Toyota and Honda began attracting serious attention from early adopting consumers, the Big Three confidently vowed to push the new invaders back to Japan.

It didn't happen. Instead, Detroit steadily lost the ability to produce quality products. By the 1970s, late-night comedians joked that every new Chrysler came with its very own union worker to reattach the chrome pieces as they fell off.

Imports couldn't be rolled back because General Motors, Ford and Chrysler were hamstrung by executive hubris and the endless demands of the United Auto Workers union for higher pay, more generous benefits and permanent job security. Give us the welfare state in microcosm or we will shut down the assembly lines, the union bosses shouted.

The execs caved, so American cars cost on average $2,000 more to build than those from Japan, and the union refused to give up the insanely complicated work rules that robbed management of needed flexibility to respond to a changing marketplace.

Predictably, when consumers compared Detroit's costlier offerings with cheaper, better-made Japanese products, they logically chose the latter. GM went from 60 percent market share to less than half that in the 1980s. Ford barely evaded bankruptcy and Chrysler survived only because Washington bailed it out.

Now it's Big Government that needs a bailout because its progressive politicians and bureaucrats can't stop doing what they've always done -- spending more, taxing more, regulating more, grabbing more power for themselves and their special interest buddies.

Just as most Americans stopped trusting Detroit to build the world's best cars, we no longer believe the grand promises that more massive, wasteful government will bring prosperity and good health for our families, security in our old age and a better life for our kids. We see the Gulf.

Islam conquers Dearborn, MI

ANN ARBOR, MI – In what some have described as police enforcement of Sharia law at the annual Dearborn Arab International Festival, last Friday night Dearborn Police Officers arrested four Christian missionaries and illegally confiscated their video cameras which were recording the events surrounding their arrests. The Thomas More Law Center, a public interest law firm based in Ann Arbor, Michigan, today announced it is representing all of the Christian missionaries.

Arrested on charges of Breach of the Peace are: Negeen Mayel, Dr. Nabeel Qureshi, Paul Rezkalla, and David Wood. Mayel, an eighteen year old female, whose parents emigrated from Afghanistan and a recent convert from Islam to Christianity, was also charged with failure to obey a police officer’s orders. She was approximately 100 feet away and videotaping a discussion with some Muslims when her camera was seized.

Richard Thompson, President and Chief Counsel of the Thomas More Law Center, commented, “These Christian missionaries were exercising their Constitutional rights to free speech and the free exercise of religion, but apparently the Constitution carries little weight in Dearborn, where the Muslim population seems to dominate the political apparatus. It’s apparent that these arrests were a retaliatory action over the embarrassing video of the strong arm tactics used last year by Festival Security Guards. This time, the first thing police officers did before making the arrests was to confiscate the video cameras in order to prevent a recording of what was actually happening.”

Thompson continued, “Contrary to the comments made by Police Chief Ron Haddad, our Constitution does not allow police to ban the right of free speech just because there are some hecklers. Not all police officers approve of the way their department treated these Christians.”
Robert Muise, Senior Trial Counsel with the Law Center in charge of the case, yesterday faxed a letter to Chief Haddad demanding that the three video cameras and tapes illegally seized from the missionaries be immediately returned.

The Law Center is also representing Pastor George Saeig who was prohibited by the Festival and Police authorities from distributing religious material at last year’s festival. That case is ongoing.

Military is telling truth about Obama's "dysfunctional" team?

The military is finally telling the unvarnished truth about President Obama's dysfunctional national security team.

Oddly, Gen. Stanley McChrystal and his inner circle chose to dish dirt to a reporter for Rolling Stone, a decidedly left-wing publication that portrays the U.S. military negatively and knows as much about counter-insurgency as a 4th grader. The article that brought down the career special-operations soldier throws in the "F-word" several times, not as a quote, but to describe the author's own views.

Not included in the story is an ongoing dispute between the White House and its generals that shows why McChrystal, the top commander in Afghanistan, had grown so frustrated.

The debate centers on when exactly troops will begin leaving Afghanistan. Every time a Pentagon figure, such as Gen. David Petraeus, the overall region commander, testified that Obama's July 2011 withdrawal date does not mean the U.S. is abandoning Afghanistan, there was a White House official saying nearly the opposite.

The result is a badly mangled message to Afghan troops and villagers who think America is going to leave them to the mercies of the Taliban, which shows no mercy. Thus, McChrystal's counter-insurgency strategy of winning over the population cannot possibly succeed as long as the White House undercuts it. This is an administration that eschews using the words war or victory or winning.

Contempt for Obama reflected in Rolling Stone echos that heaped on Harry Truman for firing Gen. Douglas MacArthur

...the Rolling Stone article shows in vivid detail that the sentiments that first surfaced in the MacArthur firing are still alive, well and exceptionally powerful today in America's fight against Islamic fascism. The banning of the latter phrase by an Obama administration that deems it politically incorrect is in itself a symbol of the politics launched by the MacArthur firing. Doubtless that kind of political correctness is one source of the derision that was carelessly expressed by McChrystal's aides to Rolling Stone.

General Stanley McChrystal was wrong to be giving time to discuss his views with Rolling Stone, his aides unimaginably stupid to be so free with a reporter for a magazine with a considerable anti-war reputation. Ironically, the politics of Rolling Stone itself -- indeed the magazine's very existence -- are a legacy of the anti-war sentiments that were first bubbling with progressives during the time of MacArthur's firing.

Without doubt, the essence of what McChrystal so obviously believes -- that the answer to al Qaeda is victory, not appeasement or negotiation -- is what was once believed by those millions who thronged the streets of San Francisco and New York to cheer Douglas MacArthur. This is the political view that propelled the electoral careers of presidents who sided with MacArthur's views in one form or another throughout the Cold War, from Eisenhower to George H.W. Bush. It has elected literally hundreds of senators and congressman.

From 1952 on through to the last Cold War election in 1988, the victorious candidate for the presidency was always the one perceived as the more MacArthur-like, which is to say an unrelenting foe of the Soviet Union and its various Communist allies. At a minimum the candidate had to be at least as tough as the other guy. Anything less and the candidate was simply un-electable. Even Jimmy Carter passed that test in 1976, campaigning as a tough ex-Navy officer with scorn for Gerald Ford's supposed soft views on the Communist domination of Eastern Europe. When events proved otherwise after his election, Carter was out in an Eisenhower-esque landslide for Ronald Reagan. In addition to Carter's failure in 1980 the MacArthur test was failed successively by Democrats Stevenson (twice), Humphrey, McGovern, Mondale and Dukakis.

Make no mistake.

The firing of General McChrystal -- all constitutionally correct -- will be hailed in some quarters for that reason.

But what is being missed is the real political message that came through loud and clear in the Rolling Stone McCrystal article.

The message?

That the American military thinks the Obama team is not up to the job of defeating Al Qaeda and winning a war which it is even terrified of calling by name. That those on the front line in a life-and-death struggle with a serious enemy think the President a wimp, the Vice President a blowhard, the national security adviser a "clown," Ambassador Richard Holbrooke a man consumed by the need for relevance, and that the French act like…well…the French.

The spirit of Douglas MacArthur and his fury at what he perceived as a weakness in fighting Communism resonates through every last word of McChrystal and his impolitic aides. In fact, McCrystal himself, if you read the actual article, is extraordinarily reticent. But combined with the blunt, caustic sentiments of his aides, there is no doubt of what the troops think of the commander-in-chief and his team

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Confidence in Obama hits new low as 62% say U.S. off track

Americans are more pessimistic about the state of the country and less confident in President Barack Obama's leadership than at any point since Mr. Obama entered the White House, according to a new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll.

The survey also shows grave and growing concerns about the Gulf oil spill, with overwhelming majorities of adults favoring stronger regulation of the oil industry and believing that the spill will affect the nation's economy and environment.

Sixty-two percent of adults in the survey feel the country is on the wrong track, the highest level since before the 2008 election. Just one-third think the economy will get better over the next year, a 7-point drop from a month ago and the low point of Mr. Obama's tenure.

Amid anxiety over the nation's course, support for Mr. Obama and other incumbents is eroding. For the first time, more people disapprove of Mr. Obama's job performance than approve. And 57% of voters would prefer to elect a new person to Congress than re-elect their local representatives, the highest share in 18 years.

The results show "a really ugly mood and an unhappy electorate," said Democratic pollster Peter Hart, who conducts the Journal/NBC poll with GOP pollster Bill McInturff. "The voters, I think, are just looking for change, and that means bad news for incumbents and in particular for the Democrats."

Mr. McInturff said voters' feelings, typically set by June in any election year, are being hardened by frustration over the economy and the oil spill. "It would take an enormous and seismic event to change the drift of these powerful forces before November," he said.

Washington Examiner: McChrystal out, Petraeus replaces him

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama ousted Gen. Stanley McChrystal as the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan on Wednesday, choosing the embattled general's direct boss — Gen. David Petraeus — to take over the troubled 9-year-old war, a source told The Associated Press.

McChrystal was summoned to Washington from Kabul to explain scathing, mocking remarks about administration officials, including Obama and Vice President Joe Biden, by him and his team in a magazine article. But the morning showdown with Obama in the Oval Office was not enough to save his job.

McChrystal offered his resignation and Obama accepted it, said the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the president's decision was not yet made public.

Obama planned to speak at 1:30 p.m. EDT from the Rose Garden, accompanied by Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, about the controversy.

Petraeus, who attended a formal Afghanistan war meeting at the White House Wednesday, now oversees the wars in both Afghanistan and Iraq as head of U.S. Central Command.

By pairing the decision on McChrystal's departure with the name of his replacement, Obama is seeking to move on as quickly as possible from the firestorm surrounding the Rolling Stone magazine story and the renewed debate over his Afghanistan policy that it provoked.

With Washington abuzz about this controversy, there was an almost complete lockdown on information about the morning's developments. It was not even known where McChrystal went after his half-hour meeting with Obama at the White House, which came not long after his early morning arrival from Afghanistan.

Petraeus is the nation's best-known military man, having risen to prominence as the commander who turned around the Iraq war in 2007. The Afghanistan job is actually a step down from his current post.

Petraeus has a reputation for rigorous discipline and careful attention to his image. He keeps a punishing pace — spending more than 300 days on the road last year.

Between the rock concert and golf, where was the leadership?

Thanks to a slew of gaffes, blunders, miscalculations and alarming personality revelations, Obama has become a surprising liability where our reputation abroad is concerned - surprising not only because he was elected, in part, to restore our supposedly damaged image overseas, but also because he was touted as a smooth and charming diplomat.

But whatever generosities we afforded the inexperienced junior senator from Illinois, smooth and charming he is not, it turns out. And these rookie mistakes are getting downright embarrassing.

The latest came last week, when the President sent the G-20 a pointed but pleading letter imploring Europe to quit it already with all the sensible spending cuts. He apparently believes that if we are going to spend our way into oblivion, then Europe should have the good manners to join us. Misery loves company, after all, and so does bankruptcy.

It's unlikely Europe was moved. In fact, Germany and Britain, which just announced major spending cuts, are probably laughing at us, with a sharp view of Greece in their rearview mirror. Obama's letter wasn't only myopic but terribly arrogant - the kind of thing that would have earned his predecessor another colorful "cowboy" descriptor from the oft-offended liberal press.

The oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico hasn't put the White House in a good light, either. For an administration that famously refuses to let a good crisis go to waste, its total failure to capitalize on an opportunity to show real leadership is perplexing, to say the least. Promising to kick someone's ass in between a rock concert and a round of golf is not, it turns out, a very impressive show of political agility.

In Britain, where our once-special relationship is growing increasingly ordinary, Tory Lord Tebbit called Obama's ineffective response to the BP oil spill "a crude, bigoted, xenophobic display of partisan political presidential petulance." The staggering alliteration aside, those are some harsh words. And Maureen Dowd, The New York Times' usually fawning Obamafan, called him "bloodless" and "self-destructive." Yikes.

But these are just the latest in a string of global embarrassments, the kinds that were supposed to be a relic of the previous administration. Our self-righteous reaction to Israel's flotilla incident earned us some much-deserved scorn from Israel, which apparently cannot defend herself (or even build condos in East Jerusalem) without Obama's express permission.

The President's tepid response to Iran's and North Korea's nuclear promises undoubtedly has the leaders of both nations in stitches as they try not to lose sleep over the threat of . . . drumroll . . . more sanctions. We hardly need to impress Kim Jong Il or Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, but it would be nice if they were just a little afraid of us.

Also embarrassing is Obama's audacity in Afghanistan, where he's haughtily asking for more international support while simultaneously chirping on about our looming withdrawal date. It appears that Gen. Stanley McChrystal, who delivered shockingly candid (and highly inappropriate) remarks to Rolling Stone about the President, isn't particularly pleased with Obama, either.

I thought Obama was finally going to make us look good. Starting when? For his sake, let's hope it's in time for his reelection bid in 2012, when his critics are likely to point out that our enemies are still our enemies, and so, too, are some of our former friends.