Saturday, July 31, 2010

It's a hotly contested race for Michigan governor; let the lies fly

Here, in the land of the Tea Party, the fake Tea Party, the imprisoned former mayor of Detroit, the convicted congressman's wife, the other oil spill, and the Detroit Lions, life was good until the telephone rang.

It was an anonymous political call and the gist of it was this: Rick Snyder is a dirty low-down liar who claims to have succeeded billiantly as the leader of Gateway Computers while in fact he ran the company into the ground and cost stockholders a fortune.

For those so unfortunate that they don't live in Michigan, Snyder is a candidate for the Republican nomination for governor. A venture capitalist, he served as president and chief operating officer of Gateway from January 1996 to August 1997, a brief period when Gateway's trajectory was pretty well set. A short time later, Snyder returned to Ann Arbor to found Avalon Investments Inc., a venture-capital company with a $100 million fund, along with the co-founder of Gateway, Ted Waitt.

Now, Snyder apparently is leading a three-candidate race for the GOP gubernatorial nomination, which will be decided in a primary on Tuesday. An Associated Press poll shows Snyder with 26 percent, while Attorney General Mike Cox has 24 percent and Rep. Pete Hoekstra has 23 percent. Oakland County Sheriff Mike Bouchard was backed by 10 percent, while state Sen. Tom George had  1 percent and 14 percent were undecided.

Close enough, in other words, to invite a strongly delivered lie that, notwithstanding his business success, Snyder was a bad manager who destroyed the once-high-flying Gateway.

I don't have a dog in this race. I'm just happy that, so far is is known, there aren't any felons running for governor.

GOP donors accused of reaping $550 million through fraud

Two Texas businessmen, Charles Wyly Jr. and Samuel Wyly, are being accused of massive fraud by the Securities and Exchange commission. You can read the SEC complaint here, but the short version is the brothers are accused of funneling some $750 million worth of stock in four companies the two owned through a byzantine series of companies and accounts in the Cayman Islands and Isle of Man. They are also charged with an insider trading violation that is said to earned them $32 million. In total, they are alleged to have reaped $550 million in profits.

As it happens, the Wylys are some of the top Republican donors in the country, according to the Center for Responsive Politics:

Together with their wives, the Wyly brothers have donated nearly $2.5 million to Republican candidates and committees during the past 20 years, a Center for Responsive Politics analysis reveals.

During the past 20 years, Charles and Dee Wyly have donated $855,150 to the Republican National Committee, while Samuel and Cheryl Wyly donated $483,900 to the RNC, the Center’s research indicates.

Both brothers have also contributed more than $100,000 each to the National Republican Senatorial Committee. The National Republican Congressional Committee, meanwhile has received $106,000 and $54,500 from Samuel Wyly and Charles Wyly respectively.

As recently as June 10, Charles Wyly made a $10,000 contribution to the Republican Congressional Campaign Committee.

Jay Cost on campaigning while pretending to be governing

This President, who was recently ranked as the eighth most intelligent President of all time (just behind of John Adams, co-author of the Declaration of Independence, and four spots ahead of George Washington, who successfully repelled an invasion by the greatest military power the world had ever seen to that point), seems unaware of the concept of irony. There is no other way to explain why he would say this after having become the first President to engage in a permanent electoral campaign:

We shouldn't be campaigning all the time. There is a time to campaign and there is a time to govern. What we've tried to do over the last 20 months is to govern. On health care or financial reform, right now we have a big debate about how to get small businesses more credit because they generate the jobs. When you feel as if every single initiative that we're doing is subject to Washington politics instead of is this good for the country, that can be frustrating.

The fact that he uttered these words on The View, a show politicians only frequent when they are desperately trolling for votes, makes it all the more remarkable.

President Obama's vanity is fast becoming a problem for the Democratic Party.

Time was when even small companies paid for their marketing

WHO: U.S. Department of Agriculture

WHAT: USDA funded several Nebraska companies that produce value-added agricultural products. For example, Aspire Vineyards received $22,256 to make and market wine, and Garcia Farms Inc. received $21,300 to package and market naturally fed poultry.

WHY IT'S AN OUTRAGE: Since when is it the federal government's job to assist in marketing a product?

WHERE TO VENT: USDA at 202-720-2791.

Yes, the Volt is green, but it costs $41,000, requires premium gasoline and "looks suspiciously similar to a Toyota Prius"

GENERAL MOTORS introduced America to the Chevrolet Volt at the 2007 Detroit Auto Show as a low-slung concept car that would someday be the future of motorized transportation. It would go 40 miles on battery power alone, promised G.M., after which it would create its own electricity with a gas engine. Three and a half years — and one government-assisted bankruptcy later — G.M. is bringing a Volt to market that makes good on those two promises. The problem is, well, everything else.

For starters, G.M.’s vision turned into a car that costs $41,000 before relevant tax breaks ... but after billions of dollars of government loans and grants for the Volt’s development and production. And instead of the sleek coupe of 2007, it looks suspiciously similar to a Toyota Prius. It also requires premium gasoline, seats only four people (the battery runs down the center of the car, preventing a rear bench) and has less head and leg room than the $17,000 Chevrolet Cruze, which is more or less the non-electric version of the Volt.

In short, the Volt appears to be exactly the kind of green-at-all-costs car that some opponents of the bailout feared the government might order G.M. to build. Unfortunately for this theory, G.M. was already committed to the Volt when it entered bankruptcy. And though President Obama’s task force reported in 2009 that the Volt “will likely be too expensive to be commercially successful in the short term,” it didn’t cancel the project.

Nor did the government or G.M. decide to sell the Volt at a loss, which, paradoxically, might have been the best hope for making it profitable.

Michigan's failed Gov. Granholm blames markets for Michigan's 800,000 lost jobs, looks for salvation in the unaffordable Volt

Michigan has been the star witness to the global shift in manufacturing jobs. Early in my first term, Electrolux told us there was nothing we could do to prevent them from moving their Greenville, Michigan, appliance business to Mexico. Since 1892, tiny Greenville had been the refrigerator capital, serving as home to Gibson, White, Frigidaire and Electrolux. Electrolux was the last to close, in 2004, and with it some 2,700 jobs were lost. The reason why? The wages in Ciudad Juarez were just $1.57 per hour, far outweighing our offers of enormous tax abatements, supplier haircuts and skinnied union contracts. Electrolux was the tip of the iceberg. Michigan alone has lost more than 800,000 jobs since the beginning of this century.

Fortunately, sometime along the way, people began waking up.

There was rumbling in some boardrooms that things needed to be done differently. Worker representatives took crash courses in reviewing P&Ls, SEC filings and org charts. And American voters decided they needed a president and federal government that would jettison the old theories of laissez faire, supply-side and hands off -- and weigh in on the side of American workers and the U.S. economy.

While we won't be able to keep all labor-intensive manufacturing jobs in America, here's what we're finding out: We can keep skill-intensive, advanced manufacturing jobs here. We're now seeing the first real evidence that we're "cracking the code" of what it takes for advanced manufacturing to stay and grow in America. Today, as President Barack Obama visits two major auto assembly plants in the heart of the Motor City, he'll hear the heartbeat of the American economy starting to pound. The patient is alive!

At General Motors' Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly Plant, Chevrolet is building its hottest -- no, coolest -- vehicle in its lifetime, the new plug-in electric Chevrolet Volt that'll hit dealerships this fall. A few miles away, Chrysler is cranking out its new Jeep Grand Cherokee. That new Jeep, which its CEO tells me is "flawless," is not your father's Jeep -- it's designed and powered for fuel efficiency and economy.

Public workers growing prosperous while private sector shrivels

America’s recession is exposing societal fault lines, as various groups fight over increasingly smaller pieces of the pie. Tensions are particularly flaring between government workers and employees of private businesses.

David Walker, the U.S. comptroller appointed by President Bill Clinton who continued in the role under George Bush, on Friday gave a bracing indictment of the pension and salary benefits being rewarded to government workers at the federal, state and local level. Walker said that public sector workers are growing prosperous on the back of private sector workers.

“There is a huge gap. State and local plans on average … are much more lucrative than typical plans for employees. State and local government employees, on average, have greater job security than people in the private sector. And state and local government employees, in the middle of government, in many cases make more money than their private sector counterparts,” Walker said during a speech at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. According to Pew numbers provided by the Chamber, the budget gap to cover state employees’ benefits totals $1 trillion.

“Therefore, if governments expect taxpayers to pay more taxes to fund lucrative benefit programs that are much better than the average employee gets, in jobs that more job security and in some cases make more money than their private sector counterparts, that ain’t gonna happen,” he said. “But the only way it’s not going to happen is if there’s transparency and if the cover is blown, so that pressure is brought to bear to make changes.”

Rangel, Waters could face ethics trials at optimum time for GOP

WASHINGTON — A second House Democrat, Rep. Maxine Waters of California, could face an ethics trial this fall, further complicating the election outlook for the party as it battles to retain its majority.

People familiar with the investigation, who were not authorized to be quoted about charges before they are made public, say the allegations could be announced next week. The House ethics committee declined Friday to make any public statement on the matter.

Waters, 71, has been under investigation for a possible conflict of interest involving a bank that was seeking federal aid. Her husband owned stock in the bank and had served on its board.

New York Democrat Rep. Charles Rangel also faces an ethics trial this fall on charges that include failure to disclose assets and income, nonpayment of taxes and doing legislative favors for donors to a college center named after him.

Both Waters and Rangel are prominent members of the Congressional Black Caucus and the trials would be an embarrassment for the group. Dual ethics trials would also be a major political liability for Democrats, forcing them to defend their party’s ethical conduct while trying to hold on to their House majority.

While Rangel is a former chairman of the tax-writing House Ways and Means Committee, Waters is a prominent member of the House Financial Services Committee

Waters came under scrutiny after former Treasury Department officials said she helped arrange a meeting between regulators and executives at Boston-based OneUnited Bank without mentioning her husband’s financial ties to the institution.

Let's pretend journalists applaud Sherrod threat to sue Breitbart

Shirley Sherrod says she plans to sue conservative blogger Andrew Breitbart, the Associated Press reports from San Diego: “Speaking Thursday at the National Association of Black Journalists convention, Sherrod said she would definitely sue over the video that took her remarks out of context”:

Sherrod said she had not received an apology from Breitbart and no longer wanted one. “He had to know that he was targeting me,” she said.

Does she have a winning case? Probably not.

For one thing, the alleged defamation (or, to be precise, the defamation that she would allege if she filed suit) took place while she was a public official and involved claims about the performance of her public duties. Thus she would have to meet the rigorous standard, set forth by the Supreme Court in New York Times v. Sullivan (1964), of proving not only that Breitbart published a damaging falsehood about her but that he did so “with ‘actual malice’–that is, with knowledge that it was false or with reckless disregard of whether it was false or not.” Even if she proves that Breitbart published false and defamatory statements about her, he wins the case if he did so only negligently.

To put it in layman’s terms, she would have to demonstrate that the falsehood Breitbart published about her–the claim that the video showed “her federal duties are managed through the prism of race and class distinctions”–was a lie, not just an error. But Breitbart issued a timely correction of this statement, creating a strong presumption against such an allegation. (As to video itself, Breitbart could almost certainly defend it as truthful.)

Blogger William Jacobson notes some other pitfalls for Sherrod of suing Breitbart–the most notable is that if the case went ahead, he would be able to use the discovery process to uncover new information about her and about his other adversaries whose conduct is relevant to the case, namely the NAACP and the Obama administration.

Of course, she hasn’t actually filed a lawsuit, and our guess is that a smart lawyer will advise her against it–and that if she does sue, she will end up settling in exchange for an apology or a more emphatic correction. Her threat to sue, in short, is largely an empty one, even if one can empathize with her feeling of having been wronged by Breitbart.

But one aspect of this story strikes us as passing strange: The venue in which she issued this threat was a convention of journalists. What’s more, someone who was there tells us that when she said she planned to sue, the audience applauded. Our source was careful to note that there were nonjournalists in the audience too (PR men and corporate sponsors). Still, we have to ask: What kind of journalist would applaud the threat of a defamation lawsuit?

Friday, July 30, 2010

"There's no end to the harm an out-of-control president can do;" the question is, can Obama be stopped, or is it already too late?

The Internet is a large-scale version of the "Committees of Correspondence" that led to the first American Revolution — and with Washington's failings now so obvious and awful, it may lead to another.

People are asking, "Is the government doing us more harm than good? Should we change what it does and the way it does it?"

Pruning the power of government begins with the imperial presidency.

Too many overreaching laws give the president too much discretion to make too many open-ended rules controlling too many aspects of our lives. There's no end to the harm an out-of-control president can do.

Bill Clinton lowered the culture, moral tone and strength of the nation — and left America vulnerable to attack. When it came, George W. Bush stood up for America, albeit sometimes clumsily.

Barack Obama, however, has pulled off the ultimate switcheroo: He's diminishing America from within — so far, successfully.

He may soon bankrupt us and replace our big merit-based capitalist economy with a small government-directed one of his own design.

He is undermining our constitutional traditions: The rule of law and our Anglo-Saxon concepts of private property hang in the balance. Obama may be the most "consequential" president ever.

The Wall Street Journal's steadfast Dorothy Rabinowitz wrote that Barack Obama is "an alien in the White House."

His bullying and offenses against the economy and job creation are so outrageous that CEOs in the Business Roundtable finally mustered the courage to call him "anti-business." Veteran Democrat Sen. Max Baucus blurted out that Obama is engineering the biggest government-forced "redistribution of income" in history.

Fear and uncertainty stalk the land. Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke says America's financial future is "unusually uncertain."

A Wall Street "fear gauge" based on predicted market volatility is flashing long-term panic. New data on the federal budget confirm that record-setting deficits in the $1.4 trillion range are now endemic.

Obama is building an imperium of public debt and crushing taxes, contrary to George Washington's wise farewell admonition: "cherish public credit ... use it as sparingly as possible ... avoiding likewise the accumulation of debt ... bear in mind, that towards the payment of debts there must be Revenue, that to have Revenue there must be taxes; that no taxes can be devised, which are not ... inconvenient and unpleasant ... ."

Opinion polls suggest that in the November mid-term elections, voters will replace the present Democratic majority in Congress with opposition Republicans — but that will not necessarily stop Obama

A President Obama intent on achieving his transformative goals despite the disagreement of the American people has powerful weapons within reach. In one hand, he will have a veto pen to stop a new Republican Congress from repealing ObamaCare and the Dodd-Frank takeover of banks.

In the other, he will have a fistful of executive orders, regulations and Obama-made fiats that have the force of law.

Under ObamaCare, he can issue new rules and regulations so insidiously powerful in their effect that higher-priced, lower-quality and rationed health care will quickly become ingrained, leaving a permanent stain.

Under Dodd-Frank, he and his agents will control all credit and financial transactions, rewarding friends and punishing opponents, discriminating on the basis of race, gender and political affiliation. Credit and liquidity may be choked by bureaucracy and politics — and the economy will suffer.

He and the EPA may try to impose by "regulatory" fiats many parts of the cap-and-trade and other climate legislation that failed in the Congress.

And by executive orders and the in terrorem effect of an industrywide "boot on the neck" policy, he can continue to diminish energy production in the United States.

By the trick of letting current-law tax rates "expire," he can impose a $3.5 trillion 10-year tax increase that damages job-creating capital investment in an economy struggling to recover. And by failing to enforce the law and leaving America's borders open, he can continue to repopulate America with unfortunate illegals whose skill and education levels are low and whose political attitudes are often not congenial to American-style democracy.

A wounded rampaging president can do much damage — and, like Caesar, the evil he does will live long after he leaves office, whenever that may be.

The overgrown, un-pruned power of the presidency to reward, punish and intimidate may now be so overwhelming that his re-election in 2012 is already assured — Chicago-style.

• Christian, an attorney, was a deputy assistant secretary of the Treasury in the Ford administration.

• Robbins, an economist, served at the Treasury Department in the Reagan administration.

Poverty is plentiful in Bell CA, but a retiring city official will get $1 million a year, another $411,000, and a third $250,000

After the Los Angeles Times reported that the blue-collar suburb of Bell, Calif., was paying its city manager Robert Rizzo $787,637 a year -- with 12 percent annual pay increases -- a crowd of indignant Bell residents waited almost eight hours outside the city council meeting last Thursday. At midnight it was announced that Rizzo, along with Police Chief Randy Adams and Assistant City Manager Angela Spaccia, were resigning without severance.

The combined annual salary of these three highest-paid Bell employees was $1,620,925 in a city where one in six lives in poverty, property taxes are higher than Beverly Hills, and debt held by the city quadrupled between 2004 and 2009. To say the citizens of Bell weren't getting the management they were paying for would be a gross understatement.

Despite two corruption investigations of the city, taxpayers are still on the hook for Bell's obscenely overpaid officials. The likely reason why Rizzo, Adams and Spaccia resigned so readily is that they are eligible for public pensions. Under current formulations, Adams will make $411,000 annually in retirement, and Spaccia could make as much as $250,000 when she's eligible for retirement in four years at age 55.

Rizzo, who was arrested in March for driving over his neighbor's mailbox with a blood alcohol level nearly four times the legal limit, is set to become the highest paid public official in California's retiree system. He will collect more than $650,000 annually. Six years from now, when Rizzo turns 62 and starts collecting Social Security, his annual benefit rises to $976,771. When he turns 64, it tops $1 million, and if he lives to 83, he'll be pulling in $1.48 million a year -- and again, all of this largesse is courtesy of state taxpayers.

California is but one of many states on the brink of fiscal ruin largely due to outrageous public employee benefits. Some 9,111 Californians have six-figure public pensions, as do thousands more public employees in other states.

Democrats have charted a long-shot strategy to keep the House

Democratic strategists see a path to retaining their House majority.

To do so, they are aiming to pick off four seats held by Republicans, two open and two held by incumbents; then hold onto at least eight of their most endangered 16 open seats; and keep their incumbent losses down to less than 35 -- two-thirds of the Democratic incumbents in competitive districts, or just over 40 percent of the number if you include those who are potentially endangered.

In a normal election year, these would be very modest ambitions; today, it's a tall order. But it is plausible.

According to "Vital Statistics on Congress," in the last half century, a party has lost 35 or more incumbents only four times.

The first occurred in 1964, when 39 Republican incumbents were swept out in President Lyndon Johnson's landslide victory over Sen. Barry Goldwater, R-Ariz. In the very next election, Democrats lost 38 seats in a "six-year itch" -- a second-term, midterm election. Republicans lost 36 in 1974, another second-term, midterm election, just three months after President Gerald Ford's watch started in the wake of Richard Nixon's resignation.

The most recent was 1994, a first-term, midterm election like this one, under President Bill Clinton, when 35 Democratic incumbents lost.

The Center for Immigration Studies tracks the destruction in AZ

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The recession was deeper than the government previously thought.

The Commerce Department, in revisions issued Friday, estimates the economy shrank 2.6 percent last year -- the steepest drop since 1946. That's worse than the 2.4 percent decline originally estimated.

The economy's plunge underscores why the unemployment rate surged to 10.1 percent in October, a 26-year high.

The revisions in gross domestic product, or GDP, now show zero growth in 2008. That compares with a 0.4 percent gain previously estimated.The economy also grew less in 2007 (1.9 percent) than earlier thought (2.1 percent).

For all three years, consumers spent less and home builders cut more deeply than had been thought. Those factors help explain the downward revisions on the economy.

The revisions also show that struggling state and local governments cut spending more last year than previously thought. And they spent less in 2007 and 2008.

The economy slid into its worst recession since the Great Depression in late 2007. Many economists think the recession ended last summer, although a panel of academics that dates the start and end of recessions hasn't declared when this one ended. The panel usually does so well after the fact.

From the start of the recession in December 2007 until the April-to-June quarter of 2009, the economy sank 4.1 percent. That was deeper than the 3.7 percent decline previously estimated for the recession.

Michigan fields two Tea Parties, one of them apparently a sleeper designed to protect endangered Democrat candidates

The mysterious Tea Party seeking a place on Michigan’s November general election ballot has submitted the names of 23 candidates for offices ranging from Secretary of State to Oakland County Commission.

According to a filing sent to the state Bureau of Elections late Monday, the group nominated the candidates at a convention held in Saginaw on Saturday. It was signed by Mark Steffek, a retired autoworker and UAW steward who is the not-very-public face of the Tea Party political party.

Steffek, who has made himself available to the media only briefly since the organizing effort got underway three months ago, could not be reached this morning. He has been accused by Michigan’s tea party activists of hijacking the movement’s name in an effort to siphon votes away from conservative Republicans.

It appears that none of the Tea Party candidates is well known. But some of the nominations are in districts, like the 1st and 7th congressional, where seats held by Democrats are imperiled by the tea party insurgency.

The party chose not to nominate candidates at the top of its ticket, for governor and lieutenant governor.

From Pew Research Center

Prison Planet: Google and CIA have jointly invested in a web monitoring project that monitors Twitter, blogs and web sites

Google’s cosy relationship with the U.S. spy network has once again been thrust into the spotlight as the company is reported to have jointly invested with the CIA in an Internet monitoring project that scours Twitter accounts, blogs and websites for all sorts of information, and can also “predict the future”.

Google Ventures, the investment arm of Google, has injected a sum of up to $10 million, as has In-Q-Tel – which handles investments for the CIA and the wider intelligence network – into a company called Recorded Future.

The company describes its analytics as “the ultimate tool for open-source intelligence”.

Wired’s defence analyst, Noah Schachtman, has a detailed report on the joint venture:

“…it scours tens of thousands of websites, blogs and Twitter accounts to find the relationships between people, organizations, actions and incidents — both present and still-to-come. In a white paper, the company says its temporal analytics engine “goes beyond search” by “looking at the ‘invisible links’ between documents that talk about the same, or related, entities and events.”

The idea is to figure out for each incident who was involved, where it happened and when it might go down. Recorded Future then plots that chatter, showing online “momentum” for any given event.”

Recorded Future “continually scans thousands of news publications, blogs, niche sources, trade publications, government web sites, financial databases and more,” according to it’s portfolio.

It sifts through millions of posts and conversations taking place on blogs, YouTube, Twitter and Amazon to “assemble actual real-time dossiers on people.”

It is also being integrated with Google Earth, which, as Schachtman points out in his piece, was seeded with In-Q-Tel/CIA investment. This integration will allow real time tracking of the locations of persons or groups as part of the overall intelligence dossier.

At Harvard, Elena Kagan introduced Sharia-compliant finance

Most major banks in the U.S. and Europe have established Shariah Compliant Funds, and they had almost $1 trillion under management by 2007 -- and likely more today.

At Harvard, Elena Kagan "proceeded to forge the law school's 'Islamic Finance Project."" It's purpose, according to McCarthy, was "to promote Shariah compliance in the U.S. financial sector."

Indeed, when Harvard President Larry Summers -- now in the Obama administration -- accepted a $20 million donation for the creation of a program of studies of Islam's history and Shariah Law, Kagan raised no objection. The donation came from Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, a billionaire investor whose contribution of $10 million to the Twin Towers fund was refused by New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani because bin Talal had blamed the 9-11 attack on American foreign policy. Harvard Law School now has three Saudi-funded institutions devoted to the study of Shariah.

Kagan, as a Supreme Court justice, will be required to rule frequently on possible applications of Shariah law in the United States. She has already noted that she welcomes "good ideas wherever they originate" and is open to applications of foreign law to the interpretation of U.S. statutes and common law. In fact, a lawsuit seeking to ban Shariah Compliance Funds in banks that accepted TARP money (as violating the First Amendment separation of church and state) is now making its way up to the Supreme Court. Kagan cannot be trusted to rule dispassionately on this case, nor can we rely on her to exclude Shariah law from American jurisprudence.

For this reason -- if for no other -- senators should vote no on her confirmation.

Bill Clinton looking for action after daughter Chelsea weds

Thursday, July 29, 2010

White House looking at de facto amnesty without new law

According to an internal U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services memo going the rounds of Capitol Hill and obtained by National Review, the agency is considering ways in which it could enact “meaningful immigration reform absent legislative action” — that is, without the consent of the American people through a vote in Congress.

“This memorandum offers administrative relief options to . . . reduce the threat of removal for certain individuals present in the United States without authorization,” it reads.

Also: “In the absence of Comprehensive Immigration Reform, USCIS can extend benefits and/or protections to many individuals and groups by issuing new guidance and regulations, exercising discretion with regard to parole-in-place, deferred action and the issuance of Notices to Appear (NTA), and adopting significant process improvements.”

In recent weeks, Sen. Chuck Grassley and others in Congress have been pressing the administration to disavow rumors that a de facto amnesty is in the works, including in a letter to Department of Homeland Security head Janet Napolitano. “Since the senators first wrote to the president more than a month ago, we have not been reassured that the plans are just rumors, and we have every reason to believe that the memo is legitimate,” a Grassley spokesman tells NR. (NR contacted DHS, but a spokesman did not have a comment on the record.)

"It's not complicated. It's keeping track of who you bury where."

Lame duck session still on for defiant losers to run wild

Washington, Jul 29 - Republican Study Committee Chairman Tom Price (R-GA) issued the following statement after offering a resolution on the floor of the House of Representatives calling on Congress not to hold a lame duck session after Election Day for the purpose of passing hugely unpopular legislation like a national energy tax, enormous deficit spending bills, and the kickback to Big Labor known as “Card Check.”

“Americans are sick and tired of their elected leaders making backroom deals to ram through unpopular, 2000-page bills that no one has read,” said Chairman Price. “They are sick of out-of-touch politicians, and they are tired of being ignored. A number of Democrats, including members of their leadership, have recently expressed a desire to ignore the public will and use a lame duck session to pass liberal legislation Americans do not want. Today I gave my Democrat colleagues an opportunity to show they are finally ready to listen to the American people.

“Our system of government rests upon the consent of the governed, but it is quite clear that Democrats no longer have Americans’ consent. The public’s trust in this Congress has been repeatedly broken. Voting for a national energy tax and other items on the liberal wish list in a lame duck session would shatter it beyond repair. Republicans are fully prepared to do what is necessary to restore Americans’ trust in their elected representatives. We know it will be a long road, but it is one well worth traveling.”

Note: Instead of taking a clear stand on this issue, House Democrats chose to delay a vote on the Price resolution.

The government that wants to run your life can't run a graveyard

WASHINGTON – A Senate Democrat says that as many as 6,600 graves at Arlington National Cemetery could be misidentified because managers there didn't do their job properly.

Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., spoke at a hearing Thursday, where the cemetery's former superintendent and deputy superintendent were scheduled to testify.

McCaskill says she believes that between 4,900 and 6,600 graves may be unmarked or mislabeled on cemetery maps.

The estimate far exceeds one given by Army investigators last month that some 211 remains could be affected by the graves scandal.

If you're gonna have a new (nonliberal) world order, you gotta have new words; that's why some of us (Palin) say "refudiate"

Just before noon on Sunday, July 18, 2010, Sarah Palin enriched the English language. Referring to the planned Islamic center near the 9/11 site in New York, she tweeted: “Ground Zero Mosque supporters: doesn’t it stab you in the heart, as it does ours throughout the heartland? Peaceful Muslims, pls refudiate.”

Presumably, Palin was wavering between “refute” and “repudiate,” and, in the heat of the tweeting moment, typed or BlackBerried or iPhoned or texted the new amalgam, “refudiate.” Pedants in the blogosphere got all huffy. Palin decided to double down. A few hours later, she follow-up tweeted: “English is a living language. Shakespeare liked to coin new words too. Got to celebrate it!”


So let us celebrate the new term “refudiate.”

Not that there’s anything wrong with “refute.” It means, according to Webster’s Third, “to overthrow by argument, evidence, or proof; prove to be false or erroneous.” Nor is there anything wrong with “repudiate,” meaning “to cast off ... to refuse to accept as having rightful authority ... to refuse approval or belief to.” And they’re distinct. To refute is primarily an intellectual act; a thinker refutes a claim or an argument. To repudiate is a practical or political act; a political party repudiates a sect that holds a discredited (and perhaps refuted) argument. A refutation that isn’t followed by a repudiation is just talk. A repudiation that doesn’t include a refutation is just arbitrary action.

The case for linguistic innovation is this: We need a word that captures and conjoins the meanings of refutation and repudiation. And we need it now. To save the country from the ravages of contemporary liberalism, we have to refute liberal arguments and see liberal politicians repudiated at the polls.

So the conservative agenda is, in a word, refudiation. Indeed, given the dramatic moment at which we have arrived, one might say that we now have the prospect of a grand refudiation of liberalism.

The meeting of intellectual refutation and political repudiation is, after all, the usual prerequisite for the establishment of a new political order.

Leftist social engineers are coming for the suburbs - again

Liberals love Ray LaHood because he is the type of Republican who wants government to control more of American life. When President Obama named him secretary of transportation, it was not so much an act of bipartisanship as an expression of ideological solidarity.

About a month into his tenure, LaHood told the Associated Press that the administration should consider taxing people for every mile they drive their car, a system that would require tracking people's movements.

"We should look at the vehicular miles program where people are actually clocked on the number of miles that they traveled," he said. "What I see this administration doing is this -- thinking outside the box on how we fund our infrastructure in America."

LaHood's Big Brother-like suggestion proved too much even for Obama, who had just pushed a $787 billion stimulus law through Congress and was preparing to start an ambitious campaign to enact a national health program. Within 24 hours, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs told reporters the president would not back the driver-tracking plan.

As we shall see, however, the president would back other ideas LaHood had for controlling how people move.

In LaHood's view, the transportation secretary's highest duty was not to build highways and facilitate freedom of movement, but to use government to change the way people live. Early on, he announced what he called a "livability initiative" and formed a partnership with the Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Environmental Protection Agency aimed at creating "sustainable communities."

As Ronald Utt of the Heritage Foundation observed, the partnership LaHood's department formed with HUD, together with a rhetorical attack unleashed by President Obama on suburban "sprawl," seemed to indicate the administration's "intent to re-energize and lead the Left's longstanding war against America's suburbs."

For some reason, IBD finds Obama is "an unserious president"

Leadership: As Americans suffer economically, President Obama golfs, vacations, campaigns, appears on a frivolous talk show — and vacations some more. Gee, don't we have a war and other problems to attend to?

Will history record that Barack Obama's only great achievement as president was getting his golf handicap down to the teens? The president played more than two dozen rounds of golf in his first year in office — as many as George W. Bush did over his entire eight years.

This week, he traveled to New York City to be swooned at on ABC's daytime gal fluff-fest "The View." It led Pennsylvania Democratic Gov. Ed Rendell to remark, "I think there should be a little bit of dignity to the presidency... I think the president of the United States has to go on serious shows."

The city's Transit Authority warned that between 2 p.m. and 10 p.m. at least 32 bus lines in Manhattan and the Bronx "could be either severely delayed or detoured" as a result of the president's trip.

And while tying up traffic in the Big Apple, the president also headlined fundraisers at the Four Seasons Hotel and at a big donor's home. This week has him on for two other moneymaking events for the Democratic National Committee too. He will soon travel to Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas and Austin for more.

With the unemployment rate near double digits, in spite of over $800 billion in a misguided Keynesian stimulus, and two-thirds of Americans believing the country is headed in the wrong direction — that direction being global decline — the man elected on a platform of "Change" with a capital C seems to think his job is to neglect his job and have a blast.

His vacation in Bar Harbor, Maine is followed by another vacation in that elitest of lefty locales, Martha's Vineyard, where he can tee off on Mink Meadows, a "classic 1936 Wayne Stiles design" that "is a challenge to both novices and low-handicappers."

Next month, the first lady and nine-year-old Sasha will meet the king and queen of Spain on yet another vacation.

At taxpayer expense, this president flies to Broadway to take the first lady on a date.

Among the stars he's summoned to the White House to play court jester are Paul McCartney, Stevie Wonder, Emmylou Harris, Herbie Hancock, Elvis Costello, Jerry Seinfeld, "three of country music's biggest acts" including Charley Pride, and earlier this month a Broadway cavalcade of stars that was "the sixth in a series of evenings celebrating the music that helped to shape America."

Why so much luxury as so many suffer and there are so many monumental problems to solve? Because, according to the president, "part of what gets us through tough times is music, the arts, the ability to capture that essential kernel of ourselves, that part of us that sings even when times are hard."

Millions of Americans have little to sing about as they seek to re-enter the work force and earn a few kernels.

Our present challenges demand more than a part-time president.

Zogby: Romney handily defeats Obama among independents

My take:

So, Mitt Romney is the front-runner, for the time being, among three unannounced but likely candidates for the Republican presidential nomination. He leads President Obama by 11 points among independents and trails Obama by only 2 points overall, according to a Zogby Poll released Thursday. Sarah Palin and Mike Huckabee trail Obama by much bigger margins.

This is an exceptionally strong showing by Romney, whose overhaul of the Massachusetts health care system, while governor, became an embarrassing model for Obamacare. He has weathered that embarrassment.

From here, Romney's upside is terrific. Obama's anti-American policy regime, designed to weaken, and perhaps bankrupt, the country, has driven up the national deficits and debt and raised doubts throughout the world about this country's viability.

For Romney, this may induce a sense of deja vu. He earned his wealth by picking through the boneyards of corporate America, salvaging things of value from the debris. Later, as the Salt Lake City Olympics were careening toward debt-ridden disaster, he was called in to turn things around, and did.

Now, history may be calling again, except this time it is the nation itself that has been placed at risk by a corrupt and reckless Democrat Congress and a White House that uses thuggish Chicago tactics to enact legislative memorials to long-dead leftist icons.

"Medicine is the keystone of the socialist arch," said Vladimir Lenin, chief architect of Russian communism.

Obama appeared to take those words as his command, leading an absurd, exaggerated attack against the world's finest health care system.

Romney, on the other hand, undertook the Romneycare project for a practical reason. At the time, Massachusetts was taxing businesses to compensate for shortfalls in the health care system. Some businesses were leaving the state. The point of Romneycare was to preserve the state's tax base, while also extending health care to underserved citizens.

In any case, that's an old story and any resentments against Romney already are reflected in the polls.

Those polls show that, among independents, Obama is weak while Romney is strong.

The well-tailored Romney seems tailor-made for the task at hand.

Zogby: Romney surpasses Palin and Huckabee in head-to-head test against Obama, leads by 11 points among independents

Former Bay State Gov. Mitt Romney is a “major player” nipping at the heels of President Obama and stands as the GOP’s best shot to reclaim the Oval Office in 2012, a new national poll shows.

“In many ways, he’s arguably the establishment front-runner,” pollster John Zogby said of a new poll showing Romney trailing President Obama by just 2 percentage points. “He’s got name recognition, he’s been through it before, and he did credibly in 2008. He’s a major player in the race.”

The Zogby poll of 8,487 likely voters showed Obama edging Romney out 45 to 43 percent.

Romney’s potential GOP opponents, Sarah Palin and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, both fared far worse against Obama. Palin trailed the president by 11 points while Huckabee was behind by 9 points, the poll found.

Romney has yet to say if he’s running again, but the wealthy venture capitalist has been traveling the country raising money for Republicans and handing out endorsements in state races.

“Gov. Romney’s focus is on helping Republicans win in 2010,” Romney spokesman Eric Fehrnstrom said. “We don’t want to get off track with speculation about future hypothetical races.”

The poll also found Romney leading the president among independents 47 to 36, which Zogby called “very significant.”

Romney was also stronger among GOP voters than Palin or Huckabee. Republicans favored Romney over Obama 81 percent to 6 percent while 73 percent favored Palin or Huckabee over the president.

“At least as of now, Romney does a better job bringing Republicans in and a significantly better job among independents,” Zogby said.

Sheriff Joe Arpaio threatens to jail pro-illegals protesters

Niall Ferguson: Is the sun setting on the American empire?

The Bourbon monarchy in France passed from triumph to terror with astonishing rapidity. The sun set on the British Empire almost as suddenly. The Suez crisis in 1956 proved that Britain could not act in defiance of the US in the Middle East, setting the seal on the end of empire.

What are the implications for the US today? The most obvious point is that imperial falls are associated with fiscal crises: sharp imbalances between revenues and expenditures, and the mounting cost of servicing a mountain of public debt.

Think of Spain in the 17th century: already by 1543 nearly two-thirds of ordinary revenue was going on interest on the juros, the loans by which the Habsburg monarchy financed itself.

Or think of France in the 18th century: between 1751 and 1788, the eve of Revolution, interest and amortisation payments rose from just over a quarter of tax revenue to 62 per cent.

Finally, consider Britain in the 20th century. Its real problems came after 1945, when a substantial proportion of its now immense debt burden was in foreign hands. Of the pound stg. 21 billion national debt at the end of the war, about pound stg. 3.4bn was owed to foreign creditors, equivalent to about a third of gross domestic product.

Alarm bells should therefore be ringing very loudly indeed in Washington, as the US contemplates a deficit for 2010 of more than $US1.47 trillion ($1.64 trillion), about 10 per cent of GDP, for the second year running. Since 2001, in the space of just 10 years, the federal debt in public hands has doubled as a share of GDP from 32 per cent to a projected 66 per cent next year. According to the Congressional Budget Office's latest projections, the debt could rise above 90 per cent of GDP by 2020 and reach 146 per cent by 2030 and 344 per cent by 2050.

These sums may sound fantastic. But what is even more terrifying is to consider what ongoing deficit finance could mean for the burden of interest payments as a share of federal revenues.

The CBO projects net interest payments rising from 9 per cent of revenue to 20 per cent in 2020, 36 per cent in 2030, 58 per cent in 2040 and 85 per cent in 2050. As Larry Kotlikoff recently pointed out in the Financial Times, by any meaningful measure, the fiscal position of the US is at present worse than that of Greece.

For now, the world still expects the US to muddle through, eventually confronting its problems when, as Churchill famously said, all the alternatives have been exhausted. With the sovereign debt crisis in Europe combining with growing fears of a deflationary double-dip recession, bond yields are at historic lows.

There is a zero-sum game at the heart of the budgetary process: even if rates stay low, recurrent deficits and debt accumulation mean that interest payments consume a rising proportion of tax revenue. And military expenditure is the item most likely to be squeezed to compensate because, unlike mandatory entitlements (social security, Medicaid and Medicare), defence spending is discretionary.

It is, in other words, a pre-programmed reality of US fiscal policy today that the resources available to the Department of Defense will be reduced in the years to come. Indeed, by my reckoning, it is quite likely that the US could be spending more on interest payments than on defence within the next decade.

And remember: half the federal debt in public hands is in the hands of foreign creditors. Of that, a fifth (22 per cent) is held by the monetary authorities of the People's Republic of China, down from 27 per cent in July last year. It may not have escaped your notice that China now has the second-largest economy in the world and is almost certain to be the US's principal strategic rival in the 21st century, particularly in the Asia-Pacific. Quietly, discreetly, the Chinese are reducing their exposure to US Treasuries. Perhaps they have noticed what the rest of the world's investors pretend not to see: that the US is on a completely unsustainable fiscal course, with no apparent political means of self-correcting. That has profound implications not only for the US but also for all countries that have come to rely on it, directly or indirectly, for their security.


A favourite phrase of this great country (Australia) is "No dramas". But dramas lie ahead as the nasty fiscal arithmetic of imperial decline drives yet another great power over the edge of chaos.

Andy McCarthy: judicial decision on Arizona law is "specious"

On a quick read, the federal court's issuance of a temporary injunction against enforcement of the major provisions of the Arizona immigration law appears specious.

In essence, Judge Susan Bolton bought the Justice Department's preemption argument — i.e., the claim that the federal government has broad and exclusive authority to regulate immigration, and therefore that any state measure that is inconsistent with federal law is invalid. The Arizona law is completely consistent with federal law. The judge, however, twisted to concept of federal law into federal enforcement practices (or, as it happens, lack thereof). In effect, the court is saying that if the feds refuse to enforce the law the states can't do it either because doing so would transgress the federal policy of non-enforcement ... which is nuts.

The judge also employs a cute bit of sleight-of-hand. She repeatedly invokes a 1941 case, Hines v. Davidowitz, in which the Supreme Court struck down a state alien-registration statute. In Hines, the high court reasoned that the federal government had traditionally followed a policy of not treating aliens as "a thing apart," and that Congress had therefore "manifested a purpose ... to protect the liberties of law-abiding aliens through one uniform national system" that would not unduly subject them to "inquisitorial practices and police surveillance." But the Arizona law is not directed at law-abiding aliens in order to identify them as foreigners and subject them, on that basis, to police attention. It is directed at arrested aliens who are in custody because they have violated the law. And it is not requiring them to register with the state; it is requiring proof that they have properly registered with the federal government — something a sensible federal government would want to encourage.

Judge Bolton proceeds from this misapplication of Hines to the absurd conclusion that Arizona can't ask the federal government for verification of the immigration status of arrestees — even though federal law prohibits the said arrestees from being in the country unless they have legal status — because that would tremendously burden the feds, which in turn would make the arrestees wait while their status is being checked, which would result in the alien arrestees being treated like "a thing apart."

Barone: This could be the GOP's best House election in 64 years

...the Republicans' current lead in the generic ballot question suggests they may be on the brink of doing better than in any election since 1946, when they won a 245-188 margin in the House -- larger than any they've held ever since.

Another metric is daunting for Democrats. Polls in House races almost always show incumbents ahead of challengers, because incumbent members of Congress are usually much better known than their opponents. An incumbent running below 50 percent is considered potentially in trouble; an incumbent running behind a challenger is considered in deep doo-doo.

In 1994, I wrote an article in U.S. News & World Report arguing that there was a serious chance that Republicans could capture the 40 seats that they needed then, as now, for a majority in the House. It was the first mainstream media piece suggesting that, and it appeared on the newsstands on July 11.

I cited as evidence five polls showing incumbent Democratic congressmen trailing Republican challengers. None of those Democrats had scandal problems; all five lost in November.

Today, a lot more Democratic incumbents seem to be trailing Republican challengers in polls. Jim Geraghty of National Review Online has compiled a list of 13 Democratic incumbents trailing in polls released over the last seven weeks.

They're from all over the country: one each from Arizona, Arkansas, Illinois, Mississippi, New Mexico, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota; two from Virginia; three from Pennsylvania. Most if not all of these incumbents are personally attractive, hardworking and ethically unsullied.

Some of these poll numbers are mind-boggling. Tom Perriello, a 727-vote winner in Virginia 5 in 2008, has been running two weeks of humorous ads showing what a hard worker he is. A poll shows him trailing Republican state Sen. Robert Hurt 58 percent to 35 percent.

In industrial Ohio 13, which Barack Obama carried 57 to 42, a poll shows incumbent Betty Sutton trailing free-spending Republican Tom Ganley 44 percent to 31 percent.

Bolton decision leaves significant parts of Arizona law in effect

Federal Judge Susan Bolton ordered an injunction today of Arizona’s immigration enforcement law, formerly known as SB1070, just hours before it’s scheduled to take effect. Supporters of immigration enforcement are angry and frustrated over the ruling, but there is hope in the halls of Congress – of all places. If Congress passed the SAVE Act and CLEAR Act, these two bills together would secure the border, mandate E-Verify nationwide, and provide local law enforcement officials with the tools to help federal officials enforce immigration laws obviating the need for SB1070.

Let’s take a look at exactly what today’s ruling by Judge Bolton actually represents. It’s an injunction – or a temporary suspension – of several provisions within Arizona’s immigration enforcement law. It’s not the final decision. After hearing both sides of the case in a lengthy civil trial, Judge Bolton could decide that the federal government did not do a satisfactory job of proving their case, thereby causing her to lift her injunction. While that’s highly unlikely, it is possible.

Judge Bolton’s decision did strike down SB1070’s most famous clause that requires local police officers to check an individual’s immigration status if they have ‘reasonable suspicion’ that the individual is in the country illegally.

The decision did not suspend provisions that prohibit sanctuary cities, require state and local cooperation with federal officials, allow its residents to sue local leaders for refusing to cooperate with federal officials, prohibit the transport of illegal aliens, and restrict solicitation of illegal alien day laborers.

Arizona’s mandatory E-Verify law that was passed several years ago is still intact, including its sanctions for businesses that knowingly hire illegal aliens. Plus, any communities that participate in the federal government’s 287(g) and Secure Communities programs can still do so, and SB1070 prevents local municipalities from outright refusing to cooperate with federal enforcement officials.

In other words, despite Judge Bolton’s ruling today, SB1070 is still a step in the right direction for Arizona.

By degrading the entire U.S., Obama has stabilized Michigan

United Van Lines has released mid-year data on where it takes its clients to and from in the 48 contiguous states. Once again, Michigan finds itself in the number one position. That is, 61.6 percent of all Michigan-specific UVL traffic is outbound. Fortunately, this is down from 70 percent during the same the same time frame last year. Unfortunately, that drop may be a function of having nowhere to go.

Justice seems more helpful to felon voters than military voters

The politically charged gang led by Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. is more interested in helping felons vote than in helping the military to vote. Sen. John Cornyn, Texas Republican, has put a legislative hold on the already troubled nomination of James M. Cole to be deputy attorney general until the attorney general ensures full protection for voting rights of our military (and associated civilian personnel) stationed abroad. The senator is right to raise a ruckus.

Mr. Cornyn co-authored a 2009 law mandating that states mail absentee ballots to military voters at least 45 days before the election. Yet, as former Justice Department lawyer Eric Eversole first reported in The Washington Times last week, the department seems to be encouraging states to apply for waivers so they won't have to follow that law. More than 17,000 Americans serving overseas were denied the vote in 2008 - but, presumably because military personnel are thought to lean conservative, the liberal Obama administration is in no hurry to correct the situation.

The Justice Department is so unenthusiastic about military voting that its website still lists the old requirement for a shorter 30-day military voting window, rather than the current law mandating 45 days. On the other hand, the Justice Department has no legislative mandate whatsoever to involve itself with helping felons to vote, but its website devotes a large section - 2,314 words - to advising felons how to regain voting privileges.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

At Justice, they lose sleep as the debt soars - because of a Mardi Gras party, a film festival, a carnival, dancing, a fashion show...

A new oversight report released yesterday by Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) exposes millions of dollars in Department of Justice (DOJ) funds are being spent on parties.

The review of recent activities sponsored by DOJ grantees identified luaus, a Mardi Gras party, block parties, a film festival, a carnival, skateboarding, dancing, fashion shows, and even a doughnut eating contest among the recreational activities made possible with federal crime prevention funding.

“With our nation facing the heightened threats of domestic terrorism and unprecedented debt and financial challenges, taxpayers should be shocked to learn DOJ crime prevention grant programs are paying for parties and rollercoaster rides for children rather than focusing on investigating crimes, locating and prosecuting terrorists, and administering justice,” Coburn said.

Coburn's scathing, 42-page report entitled “Party at the DOJ” comes amid new Government Accountability Office (GAO) findings that DOJ does not track amounts spent on recreational activities nor does it assess impact outcomes of these expenditures.

“With America facing the threat of domestic terrorism and a $13 trillion debt, the Department of Justice parties on the taxpayers’ dime,” the new oversight report states.

From the Executive Summary:

Americans woke up to news of a car bomb in New York‘s Times Square and a national debt surpassing $13 trillion in May.

At the same time, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) was preparing for a “Fun Day” celebration in Texas, a luau in Tennessee, and other parties and fun activities across the country.

Sander Levin refuses to hold hearing on health care rationing

House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Sander Levin (D-Mich.) is refusing to hold public hearings to examine administration plans to implement a new health care rationing system at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS).

The president’s new Medicare Rationing Czar, Sir Donald Berwick, is a big fan of British health care rationing.

“The decision is not whether or not we will ration care -- the decision is whether we will ration with our eyes open,” Berwick said in an interview prior to his recess appointment to head CMS.

Will government death panel bureaucrats bar age-related pacemaker surgery for grandma and prescribe a pain pill instead -- as President Obama recommends?

"The Year America Dissolved" - a not so fantastic fantasy

When hubris sent America in pursuit of overseas empire, the venture coincided with the offshoring of American manufacturing, industrial, and professional service jobs and the corresponding erosion of the government’s tax base, with the advent of massive budget and trade deficits, with the erosion of the fiat paper currency’s value, and with America’s dependence on foreign creditors and puppet rulers.

The Roman Empire lasted for centuries. The American one collapsed overnight.

Rome’s corruption became the strength of her enemies, and the Western Empire was overrun.

America’s collapse occurred when government ceased to represent the people and became the instrument of a private oligarchy. Decisions were made in behalf of short-term profits for the few at the expense of unmanageable liabilities for the many.

Overwhelmed by liabilities, the government collapsed.

Globalism had run its course. Life reformed on a local basis.

Obama's new financial regulations shield SEC from scrutiny; if there's another Bernie Madoff, we may not know until too late

So much for transparency.

Under a little-noticed provision of the recently passed financial-reform legislation, the Securities and Exchange Commission no longer has to comply with virtually all requests for information releases from the public, including those filed under the Freedom of Information Act.

The law, signed last week by President Obama, exempts the SEC from disclosing records or information derived from "surveillance, risk assessments, or other regulatory and oversight activities." Given that the SEC is a regulatory body, the provision covers almost every action by the agency, lawyers say. Congress and federal agencies can request information, but the public cannot.

That argument comes despite the President saying that one of the cornerstones of the sweeping new legislation was more transparent financial markets. Indeed, in touting the new law, Obama specifically said it would “increase transparency in financial dealings."

The SEC cited the new law Tuesday in a FOIA action brought by FOX Business Network. Steven Mintz, founding partner of law firm Mintz & Gold LLC in New York, lamented what he described as “the backroom deal that was cut between Congress and the SEC to keep the SEC’s failures secret. The only losers here are the American public.”

If the SEC’s interpretation stands, Mintz, who represents FOX Business Network, predicted “the next time there is a Bernie Madoff failure the American public will not be able to obtain the SEC documents that describe the failure,” referring to the shamed broker whose Ponzi scheme cost investors billions.

Tennessee congressional candidate tries to block Obamacare

A Tennessee constitutional lawyer running for Congress is flying to Washington D.C. today to make an attempt at personally serving top Democrats with a class action lawsuit against President Obama’s health care bill.

Van Irion says he’s planning on doing everything he can to personally serve a complaint and motion for a preliminary injunction on President Obama, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Attorney General Eric Holder. The preliminary injunction is the first motion of its type to be filed and seeks to immediately bar the government from enforcing any aspect of the health care reform bill passed last March.

Irion is the lead attorney in the lawsuit against the recently passed Patient Protection And Affordable Care Act. It’s likely viewed as a campaign gimmick, considering the lead plaintiff in the suit is Anthony Shreeve, who is running Irion’s congressional campaign. But Irion says over 25,000 Americans have signed up as co-plaintiffs on the lawsuit.

Congress racing blindfolded, heaving huge fraudulent bills

A Gallup poll reveals that only 11 percent of Americans have a great deal of confidence in Congress, and though it's the lowest ranking ever, one wonders what malady afflicts the yea-sayers. Might a review of reality correct their misperceptions?

To do the task justice would require at least as many pages as some of the bills Congress passes, but that itself is a place to start -- mention of a debt-stimulating stimulus bill over 1,000 pages long, of a topsy-turvy health-care remake over 2,000 pages long and of a recent financial-regulation mishmash also over 2,000 pages long.

Members of Congress maybe have some study-guide notion of what's in these bills, but no grasp of all the possible catastrophes hidden in multiple unread clauses. Passing them is therefore akin to the blindfolded racing of a bus down a busy highway. The public -- the passengers -- knows even less, of course, and has to guess at what might happen to it.

At least some of the devilish details do emerge in time, and so you learn that even if an $862 billion stimulus was defensible in theory, the political handouts got out of hand, virtually ensuring any assault on the recession would be feathery at best.

The health bill, it turns out after inspection by various nonpartisan groups since its enactment, was pretty much a fraud from beginning to end. It's going to control health costs? Just the opposite, and here is more bad news -- this fiercely expensive entitlement comes on top of old entitlements -- Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid -- that already threaten to help create fiscal chaos and uncontrollable debt in not so many more years.

Our economy is hugely at risk, and Congress did this to us.

IBD: Post-election lame ducks could pass more bills most hate

Immigration: Even with time running out, Democrats haven't dropped the idea of ramming through illegal-immigrant amnesty to create more Democratic voters. Their new push shows an array of underhanded tactics to sneak that in.

After passing major programs that most Americans don't want — from a wasteful stimulus to a health care nightmare — Democrats know it's time to pay the piper with voters.

But another touchy issue — immigration — looms large on their to-do list. And because 70% of Latinos backed Democrats in 2008, a lot of mischief could be in the works — including an amnesty for illegals that would serve both as political payback and a way to create a new voting bloc.

The outlines of a plan can be seen in several ways, the first of which is Congress' mixed messages on the question of action during the lame-duck session.

Rep. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., told the Hill Tuesday that House Democrats don't plan to use that pocket of time after elections in November and the seating of a new Congress in January to pass any major new legislation.

But House Speaker Nancy Pelosi isn't so sure, saying Tuesday she was "hopeful" Democrats would wrap up their work before that so a lame-duck session wouldn't be necessary.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid was even more straightforward. "We're going to have a lame-duck session, so we're not giving up," he told the leftist group Net-roots Nation over the weekend.

All of this suggests the lame-duck period could be prime time for unpopular measures such as amnesty. Democrats could reward their immigration lobby supporters but evade fallout from angry voters after the elections.

Obamacare labyrinth; if you get lost, call your congressperson

Incomplete chart of Obamacare structure, courtesy of minority on Joint Economic Committee

Prof. Frances Berry: "Having one's opponent rebut charges of racism is far better than discussing joblessness..."

"Tainting the tea party with the charge of racism is proving to be an effective tactic for Democrats," Mary Frances Berry, a former chairman of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, told the Webzine Politico Tuesday.

"There is no evidence tea party adherents are any more racist than other Republicans, and indeed many other Americans," said Ms. Berry, who is now a professor at the University of Pennsylvania. "But getting them to spend their time purging their ranks and having candidates distance themselves should help Democrats win in November. Having one's opponent rebut charges of racism is far better than discussing joblessness."

In 2008, a group of liberal journalists discussed how to handle news coverage of Barack Obama's long association with his hate-spewing pastor, Jeremiah Wright.

"If the right forces us all to either defend Wright or tear him down, no matter what we choose, we lose," Spencer Ackerman, now of Wired magazine, said in an e-mail to colleagues on Journolist. "Instead, take one of them -- [Weekly Standard editor] Fred Barnes, [former Bush aide] Karl Rove, who cares -- and call them racists."

Journolist was a list-serve created by The Washington Post's Ezra Klein. He shut it down after conservative commentators Tucker Carlson and Andrew Breitbart obtained e-mails members had sent to each other.

But when the race card is played clumsily, it can backfire, as the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and the Obama administration learned last week.

Just hours after Mr. Breitbart posted Monday a two-and-a-half-minute excerpt of a 43-minute speech Shirley Sherrod made to an NAACP audience in March, one of her superiors was on the telephone demanding she resign as director of rural development in Georgia for the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The White House wanted her gone, Ms. Sherrod said she was told by Deputy Undersecretary Cheryl Cook.

The White House denies involvement. But Politico reported that at a staff meeting Tuesday morning, Deputy Chief of Staff Jim Messina praised aides for moving quickly.

"We took decisive action, and it's a good example of how to respond in this atmosphere," Politico's source quoted Mr. Messina as saying.

Breaking news: Congress, White House outdumb Goldman Sachs, which easily side-steps new restrictions on trading

Goldman Sachs  has figured out a novel approach to getting around the Volcker Rule’s restrictions on trading: it’s remaking its risk-taking traders into asset managers, and the rest of Wall Street may soon follow, FOX Business Network has learned.

The big Wall Street firm has moved about half of its “proprietary” stock-trading operations — which had made market bets using the firm’s own capital — into its asset management division, where these traders can talk to Goldman clients and then place their market bets.

The move is designed to exploit a loophole in the Volker Rule, part of the recently signed financial-reform legislation named after presidential economic adviser and former Federal Reserve chief Paul Volcker. The Volcker Rule is supposed to scale back on Wall Street risk taking by ending what’s known as proprietary trading, where firms use their own ideas and capital to make market bets.

But by having the traders work in asset management, where they will take market positions while dealing with clients, Goldman believes it can meet the rule’s mandates, avoid large-scale layoffs and preserve some of the same risk taking that has earned it enormous profits, people close to the firm say.

Clinton and Carter pollsters accuse Obama of cynical and racially divisive policies designed to pay off in 2012 election

Rather than being a unifier, Mr. Obama has divided America on the basis of race, class and partisanship. Moreover, his cynical approach to governance has encouraged his allies to pursue a similar strategy of racially divisive politics on his behalf.

We have seen the divisive approach under Republican presidents as well—particularly the administrations of Richard Nixon and George W. Bush. It was wrong then, and it is wrong now. By dividing America, Mr. Obama has brought our government to the brink of a crisis of legitimacy, compromising our ability to address our most important policy issues.

We say this with a heavy heart. Both of us share the president's stated vision of what America can and should be. The struggle for equal rights has animated both of our lives. Both of us were forged politically during the crucible of the civil rights movement. Having worked in the South during the civil rights movement, and on behalf of the ground-breaking elections of African-American mayors such as David Dinkins, Harold Washington and Emanuel Cleaver, we were deeply moved by Mr. Obama's election.

The first hint that as president Mr. Obama would be willing to interject race into the political dialogue came last July, when he jumped to conclusions about the confrontation between Harvard Prof. Henry Louis "Skip" Gates and the Cambridge police.

During a press conference, the president said that the "Cambridge police acted stupidly," and he went on to link the arrest with the "long history in this country of African-Americans and Latinos being stopped by law enforcement disproportionately."

In truth, the Gates incident appears to have had nothing to do with race—a Cambridge review committee that investigated the incident ruled on June 30 that there was fault on both sides.

Sen. Jon Kyl (R., Ariz.) has said the president told him in a closed-door meeting that he would not move to secure the border with Mexico unless and until Congress reached a breakthrough on comprehensive immigration reform. That's another indication Mr. Obama is willing to continue to play politics with hot-button issues.

Add in the lawsuit against the Arizona immigration law and it's clear the Obama administration is willing to run the risk of dividing the American people along racial and ethnic lines to mobilize its supporters—particularly Hispanic voters, whose backing it needs in the fall midterm elections and beyond.

As the Washington Post reported last week, two top White House strategists, speaking on condition of anonymity, have indicated that "the White House plans to use the immigration debate to punish the GOP and aggressively seek the Latino vote in 2012."

A "mama grizzly," Mary Fallin, wins nomination for OK governor

OKLAHOMA CITY -- Rep. Mary Fallin (R) defeated three challengers Tuesday to win her party's nomination in the Oklahoma governor's race.

In November, Fallin will face either state Attorney General Drew Edmondson or Lt. Gov. Jari Askins, who were squaring off in the Democratic primary. With 95 percent of precincts reporting, Askins held a slim lead.

Fallin received more than 56 percent of the GOP vote, easily outpacing state Sen. Randy Brogdon of Owasso and Oklahoma City area businessmen Robert Hubbard and Roger Jackson.

A 20-year veteran of Oklahoma politics, Fallin raised more than $2.4 million for the race, more than eight times as much as Brogdon, and national Republicans hailed her victory. She was the first woman and first Republican elected lieutenant governor in Oklahoma, a post she held for 12 years before running in 2006 for Oklahoma's 5th Congressional District seat.

AZ sheriff sets up foundation to buy assault rifles, body armor

In Minnesota, stimulus is stimulating golf courses, swim pools

Vice President Joe Biden met with state and local government officials from across the country last year to provide guidance on spending federal stimulus funds. Biden implored local leaders to focus on only essential infrastructure needs that will put people back to work and to avoid frivolous projects: “No swimming pools! No tennis courts! No golf courses! No Frisbee parks!”

Since then, dozens of Minnesota cities and counties have taken advantage of a little known stimulus bond program, borrowing $684 million for projects that include municipal swimming pools, a multi-million dollar golf course renovation and a new mega-community center, a Freedom Foundation of Minnesota analysis shows.

The Build America Bonds program offers a substantial subsidy by the federal government to help cover interest payments and entice local governments to borrow money, making it the fastest growing portion of the municipal bond market.

While most of the 65 bonding projects across Minnesota appear to be public improvement projects for roads and basic infrastructure, concerns have been expressed that Build America Bonds could encourage borrowing for unessential government projects, as well.

The City of Plainview approved borrowing $1.5 million through Build America Bonds for renovations to its municipal swimming pool. The City of Coon Rapids leveraged Build America Bonds for a $4.23 million facelift to the city-owned Bunker Hills golf course. Despite a budget crunch, St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman pitched using Build America Bonds to help fund $24 million in projects. The construction work includes installing a new $7.2 million swimming pool with a “lazy river”at Como Park, renovations to the Highland Park swimming pool, and building a 36,000 square foot community center.

Obama: "Out of touch?" Or, "extraordinarily out of touch?"

Returning English journalist finds a "feeling on so many fronts that Obama and his team simply don't understand governance"

The shock about coming to America after an absence of four months is how, in that time, respect for and confidence in President Obama has slumped. It wasn't good in March; now the effect of what one blogger has called his apparent "impotence" has taken hold. It is not clear what Mr Obama actually does. He isn't engaged with the economy; he certainly isn't engaged with foreign policy; he has abandoned hope of a climate change bill this year (and probably for ever); he has seen his health care bill into law, but America awaits news of how it will be implemented; he is under attack for a casual approach to illegal immigration, notably from the Mexican narco-state. He has only just girded himself to go campaigning for his party in the mid-term elections. Last Sunday was the 100-days-to-go mark, and the talk in politics here is of little else. Joe Biden, the vice-president, has been nominated as "campaigner in chief". Why? What is the President doing?

He appears to be reading the newspapers and the blogs and watching television. Last week, a twisted opponent put out a selectively edited video of a black Department of Agriculture official, Shirley Sherrod, apparently admitting discriminating against a white farmer. Mrs Sherrod had done nothing of the sort – either the discrimination or, therefore, the admission of it – but was immediately sacked, for fear that Fox News was about to broadcast the video. This outrageous act was followed by an even more outrageous apology by the president the next day – outrageous in that Mrs Sherrod was not immediately given back her job. In the White House there were, we are told, great mutual congratulations (to start with) that swift action had stopped this becoming "a story". Well, it's a story now, not least because it exemplifies the incompetence and disconnection of the administration. Mrs Sherrod's husband was a leading civil rights activist and her father was murdered by white racists in 1965, so there is a resonance to this story that is causing discomfort.

The immediate proof of mismanagement adds to the cumulative feeling on so many other fronts that Mr Obama and his team simply don't understand governance. Last month Ben Bernanke, the chairman of the Fed, warned America that without more care being taken it could have a Greece-style debt problem. The president seemed to regard this warning as so self-evidently absurd that he quickly asked Congress for another $50 billion for various social projects. Last week, benefits for the long-term unemployed were extended for another six months at a cost of $34 billion. The health care programme is forecast to cost at least $863 billion. The total deficit this year is to be $1.47 trillion. America's debt is likely to be $18.5 trillion by 2020, though it will be so low as that only if growth is maintained at 4 per cent: it is currently 3 per cent, and rocky.

"Obama quacks like a muslim, waddles like a muslim..."

My mother believed in “common sense” testing. She said if it looks like a duck, quacks like a duck, waddles like a duck and acts like a duck; it’s a duck. She believed that actions speak louder than words and that only a liar said one thing and then did the opposite.

Would President Obama pass my mother’s “is he a Muslim” test? Let’s see. President Obama says there is nothing more beautiful than the Muslim call to prayer in the evening. He says that the United States was not founded as a Christian nation.

Obama’s father and step-father were Muslims and he spent his childhood living in a Muslim country where his school enrollment records say his religion is Islam. As President of the United States he genuflects to the Muslim King of Saudi Arabia but not the Christian Queen of England. He thumbs his nose at America’s friends and bows to its enemies. In short, Obama quacks like a Muslim, waddles like a Muslim and acts like a Muslim, so is he a Muslim? My mother would say, “Yes! He’s a Muslim through and through.”

No, I've never been in this store before; even so, I'm suing you

"Shakedown" lawsuits against businesses have a new champion: Florida Democratic Rep Alan Grayson.

The lawmaker from Orlando wants to import to the District of Columbia a scheme that allowed lawyers in California to run a litigation protection-racket against mom-and-pop businesses.

In a case now before D.C.'s local Court of Appeals, Grayson is asking to have the District's consumer protection ordinance interpreted—or, rather, misinterpreted—to permit lawsuits against businesses even if the plaintiff didn't suffer any injury.

In other words, this self-described "progressive Democrat" is trying to subvert a key safeguard against frivolous lawsuits: The requirement that the plaintiff show tangible "standing," including harm caused by the defendant's conduct.

California's disastrous experiment with gutting the rules of standing should flash warning signals to the judges who are considering Grayson's case—and to the D.C. business owners and residents who would be the ultimate losers if he wins.

California's Unfair Competition Law was a classic example of a consumer protection law that didn't help consumers nearly so much as it enriched ethically challenged attorneys. Lawyers could sign up basically anyone as a plaintiff, whether or not the person had ever patronized the business being sued, much less been harmed by it. Thousands of other uninjured individuals would then be added to the suit, in a class action-style scheme.

The main goal? To force the business to settle.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The Post-American Presidency and its all-star blurbers

“This book is a chilling analysis of how the policy of President Barack Obama is chipping away at the very foundation of America's leading role in the world. It exposes his philosophy of near universal ‘moral equivalency’: a philosophy that is a dead ringer for the cultural relativism that has been poisoning Europe for the past decades. America is the last man standing and it is vital that the people of Europe adopt the attitude of proud American citizens and learn that it is not shameful to be proud of one’s heritage. This book is incredibly fascinating and at the same time holds a deeply disturbing message we should all take to heart.”

--Geert Wilders, Dutch MP

“Barack Obama is the most radical individual ever to occupy the White House. This excellent book by Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer explains exactly what that means and why its implications are fraught with such dangers for this great Republic.”

--David Horowitz, author of Radical Son

“Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer are two of the most incisive analysts of events at home and abroad, and you could not ask for better guides to where ‘hope,’ ‘change’ and czars are taking us – and what Americans can do about it.”

--Mark Steyn, New York Times bestselling author of America Alone

“In The Post-American Presidency, Pamela Geller shines her laser on President Barack Obama – his life, his values, his friends and his perceptions of the country he leads. What she reports will disturb not only every American who believes in that America is the Shining City on the Hill and that the American people are what Abraham Lincoln referred to as ‘the almost chosen people.’ It should also disturb people around the world who recognize that the international system stops working when the American Atlas shirks the burden of its uniqueness.”

--Caroline Glick, author of The Shackled Warrior

“With their characteristic attention to detail, clarity and fearlessness, Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer assay the wreckage. The Post-American Presidency is must reading for every concerned American who needs to know why we’re in this perilous moment, and where we’re headed if we don’t take our exceptional country back.”

--Andrew C. McCarthy, National Review legal affairs editor, author of Willful Blindness

Product Description

Popular conservative blogger Pamela Geller and New York Times bestselling author Robert Spencer sound a wake-up call for Americans to stop the Obama administration from limiting our hard-won freedoms, silencing our democratic voices, and irreparably harming America for generations to come.

America is being tested in a way that she has never been tested before. Since taking the oath of office in January 2009, President Barack Obama has cheered our enemies and demoralized our allies. He is hard at work "remaking" America by destroying the free-market system and nationalizing major segments of our economy, demonizing dissent and restricting freedom of speech, turning against our longtime friends, and above all, subjecting us to the determinations of foreign authorities.

In this timely and urgent battle cry, Pamela Geller, founder of the widely popular website, and New York Times bestselling author Robert Spencer team up to expose the Obama administration’s destructive agenda—largely ignored by the mainstream media—and rally Americans to protect the sovereignty of a country that is under siege by the highest levels of its own government. As Americans see their paychecks shrinking every day, Obama ignores our forefathers’ founding principle: individual rights. Instead, he seeks to level the playing field—to transform both the global and national landscape in favor of our enemies—even if it means cutting America off at the knees. He envisions himself as more than just a president of the United States, but as a shaper of the new world order, an internationalist energetically laying the groundwork for global government: the president of the world.

A vital guide to helping conservatives prepare for the tough battles ahead, The Post-American Presidency critically examines the Obama administration’s ominous and revealing moves against our basic freedoms, particularly as he seizes control of the three engines of the American economy: health care, energy, and education. The Shining City on a Hill has gone dark. But America is not dead. The time is NOW to stand up and fight.

Reagan cut taxes and spending, ending a 17-month recession; Obama, on the other hand, has sharply raised spending

It’s easy to understand why President Barack Obama’s friends don’t want to acknowledge that July represents 17 months since Congress passed the $787 billion economic stimulus bill — the president’s signature measure to jump-start the economy and fight unemployment.

Obama says the economy is headed in the right direction; jobs are being created, not lost, and he is doing everything possible to revive the “worst economy since the Great Depression.” Most of the national press has been remarkably accepting of this narrative — even if the president has been vague, at best, about when we might finally see an uptick in economic growth and job creation.

But in another economic time, President Ronald Reagan’s economic recovery program took 17 months to take hold. It took from the time Congress passed his tax cuts, in August 1981, until the recession he inherited finally ended in January 1983.

Unemployment hit a high of 10.8 percent in December 1982. But then economic growth spiked, and the unemployment rate began a long, steady decline throughout the 1980s. It was obvious the program was working when people stopped calling it “Reaganomics.”

Tax cuts were a part of Reagan’s effort to cut the size and scope of government to fight economic stagnation. “Government is not the solution,” Reagan said in his remarkably clear inaugural address. “It is the problem.”

In addition to tax cuts, Reagan reduced domestic discretionary spending and streamlined regulations to make them less of a burden on businesses seeking to create jobs. He believed that government should give individuals and businesses the proper incentives to grow and expand and not inhibit the private sector with high taxes and cumbersome regulations.

Sowell slyly tries to educate Obama on the virtues of markets

The people who ran central planning agencies usually had more advanced education than the population at large, and probably higher IQs as well.

The central planners also had far more statistics and other facts at their disposal than the average person had. Moreover, there were usually specialized experts such as economists and statisticians on the staffs of the central planners, and outside consultants were available when needed. Finally, the central planners had the power of government behind them, to enforce the plans they created.

It is hardly surprising that conservatives, such as Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in Britain and President Ronald Reagan in the United States, opposed this approach. What is remarkable is that, after a few decades of experience with central planning in some countries, or a few generations in others, even communists and socialists began to repudiate this approach.

As they replaced central planning with more reliance on markets, their countries' economic growth rate almost invariably increased, often dramatically. In the largest and most recent examples-- China and India-- people by the millions have risen above these countries' official poverty rates, after they freed their economies from many of their suffocating government controls.

China, where famines have repeatedly ravaged the country, now has a problem of obesity-- not a good thing in itself, but a big improvement over famines.

This has implications far beyond economics. Think about it: How was it even possible that transferring decisions from elites with more education, intellect, data and power to ordinary people could lead consistently to demonstrably better results?

One implication is that no one is smart enough to carry out social engineering, whether in the economy or in other areas where the results may not always be so easily quantifiable. We learn, not from our initial brilliance, but from trial and error adjustments to events as they unfold.

Ralph Peters: We're going to keep giving aid and benefits to Pakistanis who have helped the taliban kill U.S. soldiers?

The treasure trove of 91,000 classified AfPak documents posted by WikiLeaks suggests that our government's been deceiving us about Pakistan's murderous behavior.

But the situation's even worse than that: Our government's been lying to itself.

The documents in question aren't superclassified. They're largely low-level field reports at the "confidential" level, bottom-rung stuff, with some secret documents mixed in. Their value lies in their unfiltered quality. This is what the guys on the ground with the guns have been seeing, hearing and sensing.

It ain't good. Reports covering the five years from 2004 to 2009 cite routine Pakistani support for the Afghan Taliban -- as the terrorists kill our troops. Pakistan's infamous Inter Services Intelligence, or ISI, also has been working with al Qaeda, according to the reports.

That's no surprise to Post readers, but our government is "shocked, shocked!" by the revelations. And the excuses for Pakistan's lethal misconduct have already started flowing.

We're told that these reports are unverified, that some can be traced back to anti-Pakistani Afghan intelligence operatives, and that American eyewitness accounts are one-offs.

Folks, I've done plenty of intelligence analysis, and here's how it works: A single report of a supposed ally's wrongdoing gets your attention, but it's regarded as an outlier until another source confirms it. After that, you actively search for further corroboration -- before you get blindsided big time.

One report might be hearsay. But hundreds of reports of Pakistani collaboration with our Taliban and al Qaeda enemies amount to a pattern. And intelligence is about patterns.

Our government's response to Pakistani complicity in the death of hundreds of our troops and the wounding of thousands? Send additional aid -- on top of the $6 billion recently committed -- and bills in Congress to grant special trade privileges to Pakistanis in Taliban-infested territories.

It's like dating someone who's wildly, flagrantly promiscuous and hoping that patience will lead to his or her sudden reform. But tolerance only encourages more bad behavior.