Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Saudi prince snubbed by Rudy Giuliani has stake in GZ mosque

The Saudi prince whose post-9/11 relief check was rejected by former New York Mayor Rudy Guiliani has found a more willing recipient in the city for his millions: the head of the Ground Zero mosque project.

The same Saudi potentate, Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, owns the biggest chunk of the parent company of the Fox News Channel outside of the Murdoch family.

Former Bush advisers have similar ties to the prince and the proposed mega-mosque in Manhattan, which may explain why they've asked Republicans to soften their opposition to it.

WND has learned that one of the original board members of the nonprofit group promoting the 13-story mosque and "cultural center" took the job as a favor to James A. Baker III, the former President George H.W. Bush official and lawyer who defended Saudi government officials against a lawsuit filed by families of 9/11 victims. Baker has counted bin Talal as a client.

Bin Talal has pumped more than $300,000 into the project headed by New York imam Feisal Abdul Rauf as part of the prince's campaign to "improve the image of Islam in the American public." The prince's charitable foundation in 2008 gave $125,000 to Rauf, which came on the heels of an earlier $180,000 gift, according to the Arab press.

The foundation is run by Muna AbuSulayman, a Saudi woman who appears on Rauf's website as one of its "Muslim Leaders of Tomorrow."

Additionally, the prince funded "through a generous grant" the reprinting of Rauf's 2004 book, originally titled "A Call to Prayer from the World Trade Center Rubble: Islamic Dawa in the Heart of America Post-9/11."

The amount of the grant is undisclosed. Attempts to reach bin Talal's Saudi-based foundation were unsuccessful.

Guiliani refused to accept bin Talal's $10 million donation after bin Talal blamed U.S. policy in the Middle East for the 9/11 attacks and suggested the U.S. take a position more favorable to the "Palestinian cause."

Critics called his offer "blood money" and praised Guiliani for rebuffing it.

After Giuliani's snub, bin Talal took a more indirect strategy to influence American policy.

Bureaucrats not only make twice as much as normal people; the more fuss and bother they make for us, the more they're paid

By now, most Americans are familiar with the newly revealed statistics concerning federal pay. As we slept, as it were, our federal minders awarded themselves impressive pay/benefits increases that average out to $123,000 per year, compared with $61,000 in the private sector.

This is remarkable on its face considering that those of us in the private sector produce goods and services to earn our wages, while a federal government that lacks resources must expropriate our wealth in order to fund its own activities. To put it simply, federal employees have enjoyed larger average pay and benefits increases for nine straight years, and their benefactor has been us.

To say things are presently upside down is to describe the present situation very mildly. Most of us in the private sector have naively believed for a long time that in return for job security and the ability to work free of the profit-and-loss worries, that government workers have accepted reduced compensation. It's apparent now that all the benefits of "public service" apply, plus the pay trumps by far what one could hope to command in the private economy, recession or no recession.

Sadly, however, that's not even the bad news.

Indeed, as the defenders of federal pay would no doubt tell us, the comparison between federal and private workers isn't an apples to apples comparison. To hear them say it, federal workers have on average higher skill sets and are often advanced when it comes to education.

This should in no way appease us. If it's true that government workers are more educated and in possession of greater skills, then it's also true that a still-difficult economic situation has been made more difficult by virtue of some of our best and brightest offering their skills to the inefficient government sector over the private economy. Their gain is the recessed economy's loss.

I was under erroneous impression then that only public, health and education sectors showed growth. Rahm, David, we need to correct that! -- Growing public sector is central to our succes

It should also be remembered the perverse incentives that exist among federal workers. Not able to advance based on profits, and doing more with less, workers in the government succeed the more the bureaucracy they work for grows, the more lawsuits they win against private actors, the more regulations they impose, and the more fines/fees they lift from the increasingly empty hands of the average American taxpayer.

Not only are we fleeced to cover the rising pay and gold-plated benefits of federal workers, we're essentially paying them to make our lives more difficult. The more they're able to do so, the more they advance.

Appalled by the regulatory state and yearning for a growing economy, Wall Street's big players are turning on Obama

Daniel S. Loeb, the hedge fund manager, was one of Barack Obama’s biggest backers in the 2008 presidential campaign.

A registered Democrat, Mr. Loeb has given and raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for Democrats. Less than a year ago, he was considered to be among the Wall Street elite still close enough to the White House to be invited to a speech in Lower Manhattan, where President Obama outlined the need for a financial regulatory overhaul.

So it came as quite a surprise on Friday, when Mr. Loeb sent a letter to his investors that sounded as if he were preparing to join Glenn Beck in Washington over the weekend.

“As every student of American history knows, this country’s core founding principles included nonpunitive taxation, constitutionally guaranteed protections against persecution of the minority and an inexorable right of self-determination,” he wrote. “Washington has taken actions over the past months, like the Goldman suit that seem designed to fracture the populace by pulling capital and power from the hands of some and putting it in the hands of others.”

Over the weekend, the letter, with quotations from Thomas Jefferson, Ronald Reagan and President Obama, was forwarded around the circles of the moneyed elite, from the Hamptons to Silicon Valley. Mr. Loeb’s jeremiad illustrates how some of the president’s former friends on Wall Street and in business now feel about Washington.

Mr. Loeb isn’t the first Wall Streeter to turn on the president. Steven A. Cohen, founder of the hedge fund SAC Capital Advisors and a supporter of the Obama campaign, recently held a meeting with Republican candidates in his home in Greenwich, Conn., to strategize about the midterm elections, according to Absolute Return magazine.

Other onetime supporters, like Jamie Dimon, chief executive of JPMorgan Chase, also feel burned by the Obama administration, people close to him say.

That the honeymoon between Washington and Wall Street has turned to bitter recriminations is not news, given that the administration had long pledged to revamp Wall Street regulation in the wake of a crisis that rattled the global financial system.

Less than two years ago, Democrats received 70 percent of the donations from Wall Street; since June, when the financial regulation bill was nearing passage, Republicans were receiving 68 percent of the donations, according to an analysis by the Center for Responsive Politics, a nonpartisan research group.

But what is surprising is that some of the president’s biggest supporters have so publicly derided his policies, even at the risk of hurting their ability to influence the party in the future. Issues like the carry-interest tax on private equity or the Volcker Rule have become personal.

Why so personal? The prevailing view is that bankers, hedge fund mangers and traders supported the Obama candidacy because he appealed to their egos.

Mr. Obama was viewed as a member of the elite, an Ivy League graduate (Columbia, class of ’83, the same as Mr. Loeb), president of The Harvard Law Review — he was supposed to be just like them. President Obama was the “intelligent” choice, the same way they felt about themselves. They say that they knew he would seek higher taxes and tighter regulation; that was O.K. What they say they did not realize was that they were going to be painted as villains.

That Wall Street view of itself as a victim has prompted much of the private murmurings and the unfortunate — or worse — outburst from Stephen A. Schwarzman, who likened the administration’s plan for taxes on private equity to “when Hitler invaded Poland in 1939.” Mr. Schwarzman later apologized for the “inappropriate analogy.”

Now Mr. Loeb, who manages about $3.4 billion at his firm, Third Point Partners, has articulated in a more thoughtful way what a lot of others in finance and business are saying.

“We have given a great deal of thought about the impact that public policy has on individual companies, industries and the economy generally,” he said. Third Point has sold its investments in big banks as a result of “regulatory headwinds”; got rid of its stake in Wellpoint, which Mr. Loeb described as “a statistically cheap stock owned by several hedge funds, but which we saw as being overly exposed to unpredictable government regulation”; and taken a short position against for-profit education companies as a result of “the government’s increased willingness to use its regulatory muscle.”

Americans hoarding cash and payng down debt: Since 2007, savings rate has ballooned from 2 percent to 6 percent

The logic of the economic recovery isn't working -- or, at any rate, not well. By that logic, over-borrowed Americans would repay loans and replenish depleted savings, creating a temporary drop in consumer spending and economic activity. But once savings increased and debt declined, consumer buying would strengthen. It would replace the Obama stimulus program. Hiring would improve; the recovery would become self-sustaining.

We're still waiting. Just last week, economic growth for the second quarter was revised down to a meager 1.6 percent annual rate.

Why is the recovery faltering? There are many explanations: a depressed housing market; weaker-than-expected exports; cautious corporations. But consumers, representing 70 percent of the economy's $14.5 trillion of spending, are the crux of the matter.

It isn't that Americans aren't behaving as anticipated. They may actually be outperforming. "Consumers are deleveraging (reducing debt) . . . and rebuilding saving faster than expected," writes economist Richard Berner of Morgan Stanley. In 2007, the personal savings rate (the share of after-tax income devoted to saving) was 2 percent. Now it's about 6 percent. Temporarily, this hurts buying. Declines in consumer spending in 2008 and 2009 were the first back-to-back annual drops since the 1930s. Since World War II, annual consumption spending had fallen only twice (1974 and 1980).

Sowell: Ground Zero mosque would be "a 15-story middle finger"

The proposed mosque near where the World Trade Center was attacked and destroyed, along with thousands of American lives, would be a 15-story middle finger to America.

It takes a high IQ to evade the obvious, so it is not surprising that the intelligentsia are out in force, decrying those who criticize this calculated insult.

What may surprise some people is that the American taxpayer is currently financing a trip to the Middle East by the imam who is pushing this project, so that he can raise the money to build it.

The State Department is subsidizing his travel.

The big talking point is that this is an issue about "religious freedom" and that Muslims have a "right" to build a mosque where they choose. But those who oppose this project are not claiming that there is no legal right to build a mosque near the site of the World Trade Center.

If anybody did, it would be a matter for the courts to decide -- and they would undoubtedly say that it is not illegal to build a mosque near the site of the World Trade Center attack.

The intelligentsia and others who are wrapping themselves in the Constitution are fighting a phony war against a straw man. Why create a false issue, except to evade the real issue?

Our betters are telling us that we need to be more "tolerant" and more "sensitive" to the feelings of Muslims. But if we are supposed to be sensitive to Muslims, why are Muslims not supposed to be sensitive to the feelings of millions of Americans, for whom 9/11 was the biggest national trauma since Pearl Harbor?

It would not be illegal for Japanese Americans to build a massive shinto shrine next to Pearl Harbor. But, in all these years, they have never sought to do it.

When Catholic authorities in Poland were planning to build an institution for nuns, years ago, and someone pointed out that it would be near the site of a concentration camp that carried out genocide, the Pope intervened to stop it.

He didn't say that the Catholic Church had a legal right to build there, as it undoubtedly did. Instead, he respected the painful feelings of other people. And he certainly did not denounce those who called attention to the concentration camp.

There is no question that Muslims have a right to build a mosque where they chose to. The real question is why they chose that particular location, in a country that covers more than 3 million square miles.

If we all did everything that we have a legal right to do, we could not even survive as individuals, much less as a society. So the question is whether those who are planning a Ground Zero mosque want to be part of American society or just to see how much they can get away with in American society?

Can anyone in his right mind believe that this was intended to show solidarity with Americans, rather than solidarity with those who attacked America? Does anyone imagine that the Middle East nations, including Iran, from whom financial contributions will be solicited, want to promote reconciliation between Americans and Muslims?

That the President of the United States has joined the chorus of those calling the Ground Zero mosque a religious freedom issue tells us a lot about the moral dry rot that is undermining this country from within.

In this, as in other things, Barack Obama is not so much the cause of our decline but the culmination of it. He had many predecessors and many contemporaries who represent the same mindset and the same malaise.

There are people for whom moral preening has become a way of life. They are out in force denouncing critics of the Ground Zero mosque.

There are others for whom a citizen of the world affectation puts them one-up on those of us who are grateful to be Americans, and to enjoy a freedom that is all too rare in other countries around the world, even at this late date in human history. They think the United States is somehow on trial, and needs to prove itself to others by bending over backwards. But bending over backwards does not win friends. It loses respect, including self-respect.

Ground Zero mosque developer has record of assaults and lies

NEW YORK (CBS 2) — As the Ground Zero mosque controversy continues to simmer, questions continue about the background of the man who wants to build the $100 million Islamic cultural and religious center.

Mosque developer Sharif El-Gamal has often been reluctant to answer questions.

After he won the right to tear down the 152-year-old building blocks from the site of the 9/11 attacks, El-Gamal got defensive when asked about the mosque by CBS 2′s Marcia Kramer.

“It’s a community center, if you call it a community center, we would talk,” El-Gamal said.

Kramer reports the developer’s reluctance to talk may have been related to his prior run-ins with the law.

His most recent arrest was in 2005 for assault on a man he met while working as a waiter at Serafina Restaurant, who sublet an apartment from his brother. He reportedly punched the man, breaking his nose and cheekbone and spit on him.

El-Gamal first said he didn’t hit the man, but arrest documents obtained by CBS 2 showed he later conceded “his face could have run into my hand.”

Records showed El-Gamal also had trouble coming up with the $15,000 settlement reached in 2008, and had to pay interest . El-Gamal also has a number of other arrests on his record:

-In 1990, he was arrested in Nassau County and pled guilty to disorderly conduct.

-In 1992, he pled guilty in Nassau to DWI and paid a $350 fine.

-In 1993, he pled guilty in Nassau to attempted petit larceny and paid a $100 fine.

-In 1994, arrested for disorderly conduct in Manhattan.

-In 1998, there was another Manhattan disorderly conduct arrest.

-In 1999, yet another Manhattan disorderly conduct arrest.

A potential problem for the mosque developer is a deposition he gave in the assault case in October 2007. When asked if he was ever convicted or pled guilty to a crime, El-Gamal replied “no.”

Lately, he has been trying to resurrect his image, sitting down for a lengthy 60 Minutes interview with Scott Pelley.

When Pelley asked if it occurred to him that putting a project so close to Ground Zero would heighten tensions, El-Gamal replied “not at all.”

“I did not hold myself or my faith accountable for the tragedy,” El-Gamal said.

El-Gamal also owes over $227,000 in unpaid real estate taxes and a spokesman for the Department of Finance said interest will be added for each and every day its unpaid.

Another question surrounding the debate is whether the Muslim cleric of the mosque — Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf — knew about El-Gamal’s criminal background and unpaid taxes before partnering with him.

El-Gamal refused repeated requests from CBS 2 Monday to comment on the story

Monday, August 30, 2010

GOP will pick up 51 seats in House, veteran forecaster predicts

A University at Buffalo political scientist with a sterling record of prognosticating presidential elections is predicting that Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi will turn over her gavel to the GOP come January.

The presiding Democrats stand to lose about 51 seats in November, says James E. Campbell, professor of political science at UB. His prediction stems from a crystal ball filled with scientific equations based on polling and current events, all pointing to a stunning reversal of fortune for Democrats, who took over the House in 2006.

“After two election setbacks, they are poised for a comeback,” Campbell says of Republicans. “Partisanship, ideology, the midterm decline from the prior presidential surge, the partisanship of districts being defended, and even President Obama’s approval ratings have set the stage for significant seat gains by Republicans in the House.”

In a paper he will deliver this week to the American Political Science Association meeting in Washington, Campbell analyzes a variety of political elements that he plugs into his final equation. They include:

• Polls pointing to a more conservative mood throughout the country.

• The suggestion that Democrats are “overexposed” and hold more seats than usual, thus leaving more seats in trouble.

• Cooperation with the Cook Political Report compiled by veteran Washington analyst Charlie Cook, which handicaps congressional elections across the country. Campbell calls Cook’s past analyses “impressive.”

• Presidential approval and its influence in previous midterm elections.

Campbell has used much of the same methodology to predict presidential elections with significant success. Now he uses variables specific to the House to bolster his contention that voters will pull more Republican levers.

Dallas congresswoman gave up to $20,000 in scholarships to two grandsons, two great-nephews and top aide's children

WASHINGTON – Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson awarded eight scholarships last year to her grandsons and a top aide’s children -- bringing to 23 the number of scholarships she handed out since 2005 in violation of Congressional Black Caucus Foundation eligibility rules.
A previously undisclosed list, provided Monday afternoon by the foundation, shows that Johnson’s grandsons Kirk and David Johnson, along with the children of her district director in Dallas, Rod Givens, each received two scholarships last year, under two competitions run by the foundation.

Together, the Johnsons and Givenses accounted for half the 16 scholarships the longtime Dallas Democratic lawmaker handed out in 2009 with foundation funds.

None of the other eight recipients got more than one scholarship.

The Dallas Morning News reported Sunday that over the last five years, Johnson has awarded up to $20,000 in scholarships to two grandsons, two great-nephews, and Givens' children between 2005 and 2008.

The students should have been ineligible under anti-nepotism rules in the scholarship program, foundation officials said. They also would not have qualified because recipients are supposed to live or study in congressional districts represented by members of the Congressional Black Caucus.

The disclosure of the 2009 awards is sure to intensify the focus on Johnson's handling of the scholarship funds. Already, her election opponent is accusing her of "corruption" over the issues.

"Eighteen years in office breeds corruption," Stephen Broden, a Republican pastor who is challenging the nine-term Dallas Democrat, said Monday on WBAP's Mark Davis Show. "We need to really have a change that emphasizes the needs of the district over self-interest and self-aggrandizement."

Johnson has acknowledged violating the scholarship rules but said she did so unknowingly. And the congresswoman plans to repay the funds “by the end of this week,” Johnson spokeswoman Dena Craig said Monday night.

IPCC, run by an ex-railroad engineer, lifted its global warming thesis from a magazine and has a "deeply dented" reputation

A high-level inquiry into the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change found there was “little evidence” for its claims about global warming.
It also said the panel had emphasised the negative impacts of climate change and made “substantive findings” based on little proof.

The review by the InterAcademy Council (IAC) was launched after the IPCC’s hugely embarrassing 2007 benchmark climate change report, which contained exaggerated and false claims that Himalayan glaciers could melt by 2035.

The panel was forced to admit its key claim in support of global warming was lifted from a 1999 magazine article. The report was based on an interview with a little-known Indian scientist who has since said his views were “speculation” and not backed by research.

Independent climate scientist Peter Taylor said last night: “The IPCC’s credibility has been deeply dented and something has to be done. It can’t just be a matter of adjusting the practices. They have got to look at what are the consequences of having got it wrong in terms of what the public think is going on. Admitting that it needs to reform means something has gone wrong and they really do need to look at the science.”

Climate change sceptic David Holland, who challenged leading climate change scientists at the University of East Anglia to disclose their research, said: “The panel is definitely not fit for purpose. What the IAC has said is substantial changes need to be made.”

The IAC, which comprises the world’s top science academies including the UK’s Royal Society, made recommendations to the IPCC to “enhance its credibility and independence” after the Himalayan glaciers report, which severely damaged the reputation of climate science.

It condemned the panel – set up by the UN to ensure world leaders had the best scientific advice on climate change – for its “slow and inadequate response” after the damaging errors emerged.

Among the blunders in the 2007 report were claims that 55 per cent of the Netherlands was below sea level when the figure is 26 per cent.

It also claimed that water supplies for between 75 million and 250 million people in Africa will be at risk by 2020 due to climate change, but the real range is between 90 and 220 million.

The claim that glaciers would melt by 2035 was also rejected.

Professor Julian Dowdeswell of Cambridge University said: “The average glacier is 1,000 feet thick so to melt one at 15 feet a year would take 60 years. That is faster than anything we are seeing now so the idea of losing it all by 2035 is unrealistic.”

In yesterday’s report, the IAC said: “The IPCC needs to reform its management structure and strengthen its procedures to handle ever larger and increasingly complex climate assessments as well as the more intense public scrutiny coming from a world grappling with how to respond to climate change.”

The review also cast doubt on the future of IPCC chairman Dr Rajendra Pachauri.

Earlier this year, the Daily Express reported how he had no climate science qualifications but held a PhD in economics and was a former railway engineer.

Dr Pachauri has been accused of a conflict of interest, which he denies, after it emerged that he has business interests attracting millions of pounds in funding. One, the Energy Research Institute, is set to receive up to £10million in grants from taxpayers over the next five years.

Speaking after the review was released yesterday, Dr Pachauri said: “We have the highest confidence in the science behind our assessments.

“The scientific community agrees that climate change is real. Greenhouse gases have increased as a result of human activities and now far exceed pre-industrial values.”

Nonunion auto jobs in MS pay $15; union jobs in MI pay $14

New union jobs in Michigan auto plants pay $14 dollars an hour and are awful tough to find. It wasn't that long ago that GM eliminated 20,000 jobs as part of its bankruptcy.

New non-union auto jobs in Mississippi, which has right-to-work protections for employees, pay $15 an hour, and even in a tough economy, they are relatively easy to find. In fact, there's a new Toyota plant near Tupelo that's looking to hire about 2,000 workers.

Now, was someone saying something about right-to-work-for-less?

GOP leads by record 10 points on Gallup midterm generic ballot

PRINCETON, NJ -- Republicans lead by 51% to 41% among registered voters in Gallup weekly tracking of 2010 congressional voting preferences. The 10-percentage-point lead is the GOP's largest so far this year and is its largest in Gallup's history of tracking the midterm generic ballot for Congress.

These results are based on aggregated data from registered voters surveyed Aug. 23-29 as part of Gallup Daily tracking. This marks the fifth week in a row in which Republicans have held an advantage over Democrats -- one that has ranged between 3 and 10 points.

The Republican leads of 6, 7, and 10 points this month are all higher than any previous midterm Republican advantage in Gallup's history of tracking the generic ballot, which dates to 1942. Prior to this year, the highest such gap was five points, measured in June 2002 and July 1994. Elections in both of these years resulted in significant Republican gains in House seats.

Here's a superb rundown on political costs of the Iraq war

On Tuesday, President Barack Obama will make a speech about Iraq. With 50,000 troops still in the country "in an advisory capacity," he can't declare victory, so he will instead celebrate "the end of combat operations." If he follows others who have already marked this occasion, he will focus his comments on Iraq: the state of Iraqi democracy, the level of violence, the impact of seven years of war on Iraqi society.

All of which is fair enough. But I hope he spares a few extra minutes to assess the impact of seven years of war on American society—and American foreign policy. I supported the invasion of Iraq, I think the surge was a success, and I believe that an Iraqi democracy could be a revolutionary force for good in the Middle East. Yet even if violence abates, even if U.S. troops go home, we have still paid a very high price for our victory—much higher than we usually admit.

Aside from the very real blood and the very real money spent in Iraq, there were also other casualties, some of them hard to count and classify. Here are a few of them:

America's reputation for effectiveness. The victory was swift, but the occupation was chaotic. The insurgency appeared to take Washington by surprise, and no wonder: The Pentagon was squabbling with the State Department, the soldiers had no instructions and didn't speak the language. The overall impression, in Iraq and everywhere else, was of American incompetence—and, after Abu Ghraib, of stupidity and cruelty as well. Two years ago, a poll showed that vast numbers of our closest friends felt that the "mismanagement" of Iraq—not the "invasion" of Iraq—was the biggest stumbling block for allies of the United States.

No wonder, then, that America's ability to organize a coalition has also suffered. Participation in the Iraq war cost Tony Blair his reputation and the Spanish government an election. After an initial surge of support, the Iraqi occupation proved unpopular even in countries where America is popular, such as Italy and Poland. Almost no country that participated in the conflict derived any economic or diplomatic benefits from doing so. None received special U.S. favors—not even Georgia, which sent 2,000 soldiers and received precisely zero U.S. support during its military conflict with Russia.

It will be a lot harder to get any of the "coalition of the willing" to fight with us again. Indeed, "Iraq" is part of the reason why there is so little enthusiasm for Afghanistan and why it is so difficult to put organized pressure on Iran.

To some, it's Barack Obama, the antichrist, vs. Chris Christie

(Bloomberg) --With all the crazy talk of President Barack Obama being the antichrist, it’s sort of amusing that the anti-Obama is a guy named Christie.

To understand the political force sweeping our country, one need only search the words “Chris Christie” on YouTube. The New Jersey governor’s town hall appearances have received hundreds of thousands of hits and glowing comments because the man, like Ronald Reagan before him, has an uncanny ear for what troubles Americans.

The truth is, a mensch like Christie could never have emerged in American politics if super-slick Obama had not enraged so many Americans first. If Jimmy Carter created Ronald Reagan, Barack Obama created Chris Christie.

Americans put their faith in a cocky Obama who wowed “The View” crowd in a bathing suit. But he gave us a government that didn’t know its own boundaries, defied common sense and fueled anxieties in post-financial crash America. Now the people of New Jersey have put their faith in a man who looks like the rest of us in a bathing suit.

Democrats might like to believe that the backlash embodied in the Tea Party movement is nothing more than a carnival of fools, headed for nowhere. But Christie is in touch with the national sense of unease that animates the Tea Party movement, and at town hall-type gatherings he has shown a grittiness that as drama surpasses the best reality TV shows.

On June 15th, Christie appeared at a town hall meeting in Perth Amboy, New Jersey. The crowd assembled was hardly a stereotypical BMW-driving Republican audience, looking like a group that could represent any small town in America

One senses that these Americans rarely gather all in one place, and that when they do, the gravity of the moment is palpable to them. And then Christie says, “our way of life is being challenged by an economy where we have too much debt, too big a government, too much spending and taxes being too high. We all know it in our hearts…we all understand that the day of reckoning is here.” And while he speaks, the people gather -- even Wilda Diaz, the Democratic mayor, seem to nod in agreement.

As Christie concludes that the people in that room have a chance, that “we are going to be the people who fixed New Jersey’s problems,” the audience members have the same look on their faces that the troops have in the old war movies, just as Sarge tells them that they probably will not succeed, but they are going to charge up the hill and attack the machine gun nest anyway.

Are we sick and tired of leftist elitists? You betcha

The new tools of communication and the ease of movement have unleashed a tumultuous era of politics driven by the demand that elites not attempt to speak for, or condescend to, average citizens. They will not quietly or passively be lectured to, or insulted by, the president, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg or any anchor on any network, any columnist in any paper, or any blogger on any Web site.

The people on the Mall and the millions more who watched the gathering with satisfaction rather than fear are quite simply sick of the left, and of its vast sneer toward the traditions, values and, yes, faith of the American middle class.

The American Enterprise Institute's Arthur Brooks has quite accurately described America as a 70/30 nation, with the 70 percent presently massively underrepresented in the federal government, the Manhattan-Beltway media elite and academia.

The 70 percent is appalled by the placebo economics practiced by the president and the Congress over the past two years, shocked by its profligacy with the wealth of the republic, and sickened by the looting of the next generation's opportunities.

The 70 percent did not want Obamacare, but it has been thrust upon them.

The 70 percent did not want federal judges to declare "game over" in the complex discussion of what marriage is and means.

The 70 percent want a fence on the border that works, and do not want their concern over unregulated immigration dismissed as nativisim.

The 70 percent are not ashamed of their belief in God, deeply resent being labeled bigots because they view ground zero as land that ought not to be exploited for "messaging" of any sort by any group, and are enraged by the scorn which they encounter everywhere in media except Fox News and talk radio.

The 70 percent believe that the federal government is remote and clueless, and that the Constitution's principles of enumerated and limited powers and the sovereignty of the states are vibrant, important core values to the republic.

The 70 percent think Iran is in the grip of an evil, theocratic fascism, and that Israel is our true friend and ally deserving of our full-throated support.

We are in the middle of a perilous economic passage to a new competitiveness across the globe. We are watching other countries across the globe respond to the new demands of competitiveness by shrinking the public sector and encouraging private-sector growth. But American education is crippled by bureaucracy and burdened by the inability of a political class to demand reform of the practices and pensions of the public sector. Children have been hostages of this countrywide collapse of common sense for a generation, despite wave after wave of "reform".

Two years into what had been sold as a new politics and a new approach, the 70 percent are fully aware that they have been conned, suckered, and taken to the cleaners by a hyper-ideological amalgam of leftist public intellectuals, snarling bloggers, career politicians with limited abilities who are often corrupt, and a president wholly inexperienced in the management of complex problems who is in way over his head and prisoner to slogans and schemes that make for great campus debates -- but for disaster in the real world.

The people on the Mall were saying much more than "this far and no farther." They were saying "rewind and restart." They will hold that thought and that purpose as they peacefully, but with great passion and purpose, insist on real change come Nov. 2.

Despite the feeble economy, workers often come and go, and extending jobless benefits would discourage work-seeking

Congressman John Boehner recently suggested that President Obama replace his top economic advisers. I think he may have a point. The economic "recovery" has been disappointing, to put it mildly, and it has become increasingly clear that the blame lies with the policies of the Obama administration, not with those of its predecessor.

In general, the current administration has been too focused on expanding government, redistributing more from rich to poor, and stimulating aggregate demand. I have previously criticized the stimulus package as cost-ineffective. In particular, whatever tax reductions were in the package did not involve the cuts in marginal income tax rates that encourage investment, work effort and productivity growth.

Now the administration wants to kill the 2003 income-tax cuts, at least the parts that reduced marginal income tax rates for high-income earners and for all recipients of dividend income. This proposal is particularly disturbing because the 2003 law was George W. Bush's main economic achievement; unlike most of Mr. Bush's policies, this one was well-conceived and effective.

I want to focus here on another dimension of the Obama administration's policies: the expansion of unemployment-insurance eligibility to as much as 99 weeks from the standard 26 weeks.

The unemployment-insurance program involves a balance between compassion—providing for persons temporarily without work—and efficiency. The loss in efficiency results partly because the program subsidizes unemployment, causing insufficient job-search, job-acceptance and levels of employment. A further inefficiency concerns the distortions from the increases in taxes required to pay for the program.

In a recession, it is more likely that individual unemployment reflects weak economic conditions, rather than individual decisions to choose leisure over work. Therefore, it is reasonable during a recession to adopt a more generous unemployment-insurance program. In the past, this change entailed extensions to perhaps 39 weeks of eligibility from 26 weeks, though sometimes a bit more and typically conditioned on the employment situation in a person's state of residence. However, we have never experienced anything close to the blanket extension of eligibility to nearly two years. We have shifted toward a welfare program that resembles those in many Western European countries.

The administration has argued that the more generous unemployment-insurance program could not have had much impact on the unemployment rate because the recession is so severe that jobs are unavailable for many people. This perspective is odd on its face because, even at the worst of the downturn, the U.S. labor market featured a tremendous amount of turnover in the form of large numbers of persons hired and separated every month.

For example, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that, near the worst of the recession in March 2009, 3.9 million people were hired and 4.7 million were separated from jobs. This net loss of 800,000 jobs in one month indicates a very weak economy—but nevertheless one in which 3.9 million people were hired. A program that reduced incentives for people to search for and accept jobs could surely matter a lot here.

Investigative report on the Muslim Brotherhood in the U.S.

New York Post: Ground Zero mosque developers are deadbeats

The mosque developers are tax deadbeats.

Sharif El-Gamal, the leading organizer behind the mosque and community center near Ground Zero, owes $224,270.77 in back property tax on the site, city records show.

El-Gamal's company, 45 Park Place Partners, failed to pay its half-yearly bills in January and July, according to the city Finance Department.

The delinquency is a possible violation of El-Gamal's lease with Con Edison, which owns half of the proposed building site on Park Place. El-Gamal owns the other half but must pay taxes on the entire parcel.

The lease agreement, obtained by The Post, specifies that El-Gamal's company pay taxes on the property and submit receipts to Con Ed.

The utility said it would have to review any possible lease violations.

The late taxes are the latest wrinkle in the controversial plan to put the 15-story mosque near the World Trade Center site.

Before any building can go forward, the developers also must get approval from the MTA because the 2 and 3 subway lines run under a portion of the Park Place property, The Post has learned.

El-Gamal's spokesperson insisted to The Post that the taxes had been paid and that the "subway lines do not pose a problem."

El-Gamal plans to tear down the two buildings on the Park Place site, which housed a Burlington Coat Factory store but have been empty since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, when one was damaged.

The Post revealed this month that El-Gamal owned only half the site. Gamal purchased the lease to the Con Ed property for $700,000 last year when he bought the other building on the site for $4.8 million.

He has told Con Ed he wants to buy the building at 49-51 Park Place, which Con Ed is appraising to determine fair market value.

El-Gamal insisted to The Post that the lease permitted him to demolish the property at any time.

But the lease agreement says El-Gamal must provide Con Ed with a copy of a financing commitment or other proof that money is available to "cover the estimated cost of demolition of the building and construction of the new building."

It's still a long wait before Obama says, "Bring it on..."

If President Barack Obama needed any more incentive to go all out for Democrats this fall, here it is: Republicans are planning a wave of committee investigations targeting the White House and Democratic allies if they win back the majority.

Everything from the microscopic — the New Black Panther party — to the massive –- think bailouts — is on the GOP to-do list, according to a half-dozen Republican aides interviewed by POLITICO.

Republican staffers say there won’t be any self-destructive witch hunts, but they clearly are relishing the prospect of extracting information from an administration that touts transparency.

And a handful of aggressive would-be committee chairmen — led by Reps. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) and Lamar Smith (R-Texas) — are quietly gearing up for a possible season of subpoenas not seen since the Clinton wars of the late 1990s.

Issa would like Obama’s cooperation, says Kurt Bardella, spokesman for the ranking Republican on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. But it’s not essential.

“How acrimonious things get really depend on how willing the administration is in accepting our findings [and] responding to our questions,” adds Bardella, who refers to his boss as “questioner-in-chief.’

That’s feeding anxieties within the West Wing — even if administration officials won’t admit it publicly.

“I actually think it will be even worse than what happened to Bill Clinton because of the animosity they already feel for President Obama,” says Lanny Davis, a deputy White House counsel who lived through Clinton’s trials.

Alaska Libertarians say no to Republican loser Murkowski

Since her election night loss to conservative Joe Miller, Sen. (Lisa) Murkowski and her political allies have floated the idea of her switching to the Libertarian Party to continue her run for reelection. Apparently, Sen. Murkowski is fairly flexible in her political loyalties and inclinations. (Her past support for libertarian policies has certainly escaped us.)

Yesterday, the 5-member Executive Committee of the Board of the Libertarian State Party meet in an emergency session to consider Sen. Murkowski’s bid for the party’s nod. After a contentious three-hour meeting, the Board voted unanimously to deny Sen. Murkowski the party’s nomination.

Sen. Jim Web, D-VA, on Iraq: "dumbest thing we've ever done"

KHAN BANI SAAD, Iraq – A $40 million prison sits in the desert north of Baghdad, empty. A $165 million children's hospital goes unused in the south. A $100 million waste water treatment system in Fallujah has cost three times more than projected, yet sewage still runs through the streets

As the U.S. draws down in Iraq, it is leaving behind hundreds of abandoned or incomplete projects. More than $5 billion in American taxpayer funds has been wasted — more than 10 percent of the some $50 billion the U.S. has spent on reconstruction in Iraq, according to audits from a U.S. watchdog agency.

That amount is likely an underestimate, based on an analysis of more than 300 reports by auditors with the special inspector general for Iraq reconstruction. And it does not take into account security costs, which have run almost 17 percent for some projects.

There are success stories. Hundreds of police stations, border forts and government buildings have been built, Iraqi security forces have improved after years of training, and a deep water port at the southern oil hub of Umm Qasr has been restored.

Even completed projects for the most part fell far short of original goals, according to an Associated Press review of hundreds of audits and investigations and visits to several sites. And the verdict is still out on whether the program reached its goal of generating Iraqi good will toward the United States instead of the insurgents.

Col. Jon Christensen, who took over as commander of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Gulf Region District this summer, said the federal agency has completed more than 4,800 projects and is rushing to finish 233 more. Some 595 projects have been terminated, mostly for security reasons.

Christensen acknowledged that mistakes have been made. But he said steps have been taken to fix them, and the success of the program will depend ultimately on the Iraqis รข€” who have complained that they were not consulted on projects to start with.

"There's only so much we could do," Christensen said. "A lot of it comes down to them taking ownership of it."

The reconstruction program in Iraq has been troubled since its birth shortly after the U.S.-led invasion in 2003. The U.S. was forced to scale back many projects even as they spiked in cost, sometimes to more than double or triple initial projections.

As part of the so-called surge strategy, the military in 2007 shifted its focus to protecting Iraqis and winning their trust. American soldiers found themselves hiring contractors to paint schools, refurbish pools and oversee neighborhood water distribution centers. The $3.6 billion Commander's Emergency Response Program provided military units with ready cash for projects, and paid for Sunni fighters who agreed to turn against al-Qaida in Iraq for a monthly salary.

But sometimes civilian and military reconstruction efforts were poorly coordinated and overlapped.

Iraqis can see one of the most egregious examples of waste as they drive north from Baghdad to Khan Bani Saad. A prison rises from the desert, complete with more than two dozen guard towers and surrounded by high concrete walls. But the only signs of life during a recent visit were a guard shack on the entry road and two farmers tending a nearby field.

In March 2004, the Corps of Engineers awarded a $40 million contract to global construction and engineering firm Parsons Corp. to design and build a prison for 3,600 inmates, along with educational and vocational facilities. Work was set to finish in November 2005.

But violence was escalating in the area, home to a volatile mix of Sunni and Shiite extremists. The project started six months late and continued to fall behind schedule, according to a report by the inspector general.

The U.S. government pulled the plug on Parsons in June 2006, citing "continued schedule slips and ... massive cost overruns," but later awarded three more contracts to other companies. Pasadena, Calif.-based Parsons said it did its best under difficult and violent circumstances.

Lobby that got $14.6 million from MI taxpayers stages Sandbox Party convention to lobby for more government spending

(Genuine) Tea Party supporters are already fuming about the dirty trick of a (fake) "The Tea Party" political party created with the assistance of Democratic Party operatives; another abuse of democracy this week may add to their ire: A government entity that received $14.6 million of taxpayer money in the current state budget organized a publicity stunt to lobby for more government spending, called the "First Ever Sandbox Party Convention" in East Lansing.

The culprit is the "Early Child Investment Corporation" (ECIC), a government entity created in 2005 explicitly to expand the size, scope, reach, budgets and spending of government welfare, preschool, social work and related programs. This was accomplished through the device of an "interlocal agreement" between the Department of Human Services (the state welfare department) and Intermediate School Districts, which are among the recipients of any additional taxpayer loot the entity extracts. ECIC is essentially an adjunct of the DHS and appears on its organization chart.

The "interlocal agreement" gimmick may sound familiar to those who have followed the Mackinac Center's home child care worker "stealth unionization" lawsuit, which was perpetrated by another such contract between DHS and Mott Community College.

Here's how the press release prepared by a Lansing PR firm hired by ECIC described this week's event:

Thirty-five hundred people from across Michigan — parents, grandparents, children, policy makers, elected officials and others — hooted, hollered and made their voices heard at … the first-ever Sandbox Party Convention today.

The candidates for Michigan governor — Republican Rick Snyder and Democrat Virg Bernero — each got a rousing reception from the crowd, which included scores of families, some from as far away as Delta County in the Upper Peninsula. Four busloads of kids and families came from Lenawee County."

It's likely that taxpayers picked up the tab for those buses as well.

The event was promoted solely for political action — ECIC officials even boasted about timing it during the week before the two major state political party conventions.

Walberg v. Schauer in MI7 - a microcosm of the 2010 election

“A tragedy of history,” to use the phrase of Whittaker Chambers, aptly describes freshman Whittaker Chambers aptly describes Republican Rep. Tim Walberg’s defeat two years ago.

In ’06, Walberg caught national attention when he forged a coalition of economic and cultural conservatives to win the Republican nomination for Congress in Michigan’s 7th District (Jackson-Battle Creek) over moderate incumbent Joe Schwarz (lifetime American Conservative Union rating: 59%).

During his brief stint in Congress, Walberg (lifetime ACU rating: 100%) established himself as a leader on energy issues. The Michiganian was a key player in crafting and securing signatures for the “No More Excuses” legislation, which provided a plethora of fresh energy proposals ranging from drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) to greater use of nuclear power.

And then ’08 came along. As Walberg recalled, “the financial bailout deal passed by Congress September 25 changed everything. John McCain went along with it and our base was exhaling.”

Then supporters of Walberg’s opponent, state Senate Minority Leader Mark Schauer, poured it on. The embattled Republican estimated that $6 million from well-heeled left-wing sources (“George Soros, Michael Moore, the Service Employees International Union—the usual suspects”) was deployed against him. Walberg’s old GOP nemesis Joe Schwarz made headlines by crossing party lines to endorse Schauer, who won a close race.

Now it is 2010 and “Walberg-Schauer, II.” Tim Walberg is back, nominated over three primary opponents with a resounding 59% of the vote. And this time Mark Schauer has a record (lifetime ACU rating: 8%).

“Where do we start?” says Walberg. “He was for the stimulus package, which is in no way reviving the economy. He favors cap and trade, which will devastate manufacturing jobs in Michigan and he backed Obama and Pelosi on healthcare. And he was a co-sponsor of the card-check bill, which would have devastated the secret ballot in union elections, and he has a record of backing taxpayer-funded abortions. Do I have to say anymore?”

No, he doesn’t. Walberg’s record speaks for itself—from his across-the-board opposition to abortion to his vow to replace the present healthcare legislation with one that includes medical malpractice coverage and greater use of Health Savings Accounts.

Clearly, the political landscape and mood nationwide has changed from ’08. But it is undeniable that the left will still pump out big dollars to try to stop a comeback by Tim Walberg. That’s why conservatives need to rally behind the man from Michigan—once more, with feeling

Obama is a thug who protects his pals

Imam promoter of Ground Zero mosque is publicly subsidized landlord with a record of rats, leaks, no heat and bedbugs

The Muslim cleric at the center of the proposed mosque and community center near Ground Zero is also a New Jersey landlord who got more than $2 million in public financing to renovate low-income apartments and has been beset for years by tenant complaints and financial problems.

Imam Feisal A. Rauf won support for his Hudson County projects from powerful politicians, among them Robert C. Janiszewski, the disgraced former county executive. He also was awarded grants from Union City when U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez was mayor.

The proposed $100 million development two blocks north of Ground Zero has sparked a firestorm of emotions. Menendez recently added his name to the list of prominent supporters, which includes New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

Rauf forged ties with Fred Daibes, the prominent waterfront developer and bank chairman. Additionally, Rauf is a onetime business ally of a Daibes associate who sued the imam for alleged mortgage fraud. The 2008 suit was quietly settled in June.

The revelations about Rauf, who lives in North Bergen, add another dimension to the public profile of a man both lauded as a builder of bridges between diverse religions and cultures and vilified as being insensitive to the survivors of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attack by proposing a mosque near the World Trade Center site.

Best known as the religious face of the controversial proposal, called Park51, Rauf, the revelations show, has had some success navigating the realm of secular power — in this case the rough-and-tumble world of Hudson County government.

In conjunction with others, Rauf is now taking on the largest project of his life with a track record showing that, despite government subsidies, he has had trouble maintaining small apartment buildings in North Bergen, Palisades Park and Union City.

Page after page of municipal health records examined by The Record show repeated complaints ranging from failure to pick up garbage, to rat and bedbug infestations and no heat and hot water.

Cynthia Balko, 48, of Union City — a longtime tenant of Rauf’s — said she’s had to live with rats, leaks and no heat: “I don’t have anything nice to say about the man.”

She finds it hard to believe Rauf’s going to build a world-class Islamic community center, with fitness facilities, auditorium, restaurant, library, culinary school and art studios, as well as a Sept. 11 memorial and space for Muslim prayer services.

“He can’t even repair the bells in the hallway. He doesn’t take care of his properties. But he’s going to take care of a mosque?”

Rauf is traveling in the Middle East on a tour funded by the State Department and could not be reached for comment; he was in Bahrain last week.

Where the money goes can determine a nation's destiny

"In the past several decades, the country paid for increases in Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid spending through cuts in defense spending relative to the size of the economy. That approach is not feasible in the future." CBO, March 8, 2010.

"If you really want to see when an empire is getting vulnerable, the big giveaway is when the costs of serving the debt exceed the cost of the defense budget." Niall Ferguson.

How to skewer the NYT and the ruling class in one short piece

Sex. Drugs. Violence...and $44 sea bass. It's a fight for the ages, brought to you by the New York Times as it struggles to keep the nation safe for the ruling class. Call it Sarah Palin, The Sequel. Except we're talking about the Republican senatorial candidate in Connecticut, Linda McMahon.

You can say the same thing about McMahon that Charles Hurt of the New York Post said about Palin, "that one of the most appealing things about [her] is the people who hate her." From the moment McMahon announced her run for the United States Senate, the New York Times has led the Northeast political and media elites in an effort to stop the self-made millionaire and former World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) CEO from winning the Republican primary and then, now that she has won, stop her from succeeding in her quest to replace retiring Democratic Senator Chris Dodd in Connecticut.

The media and political elites, led by the New York Times, hate her -- this...this...this "Yankee Doodle Daffy," this "truly humiliating" excuse for a political wannabe who dares to challenge the Times and its Connecticut cohorts with ideas originating from a lifetime spent successfully building a company and creating jobs. She created and built WWE into a $1.1-billion cable entertainment powerhouse. As she tells American Thinker, "I know what it's like to earn a living, to create jobs, to run a company. More and more people are realizing that we need real people who have worked in real businesses in Washington."

But not at the influential New York Times. Times columnist Gail Collins explains the view from media and insider central: McMahon's entrepreneurial savvy is good only for its "entertainment value," as business experience means nothing when it comes to public service. What's the big deal about a billion dollars, Times writers ask? After all, Times publisher and chairman Arthur "Pinch" Sulzberger moved that and billions more in shareholder value, too, although in the other direction. Sure, she "made a mint," but off...wrestling?! "Seedy and small-town," Collins declares.

Besides, McMahon is running against a New York Times darling: Richard Blumenthal, an ultra-liberal Democrat whom the Wall Street Journal labeled an "aggressively anti-business" state attorney general, a graduate of both Harvard and Yale who prides himself on being a "big, from-Washington-to-Hartford, I-know-them-all insider," and an activist who has used the courts to push a global warming agenda. Just what Connecticut needs in the U.S. Senate, Times writers enthuse: an insider with transformative ideas who has spent his life in government.

"I believe in people keeping their own money," McMahon tells American Thinker from her campaign headquarters outside -- and not inside -- the state capitol. "I believe that, if left alone, people will build businesses, create jobs, and provide employment. We need to keep government off their backs -- it's their money, their lives."


But "other people's money" is what it's all about for the Times. That's why Collins, when McMahon asked to meet with her and "just let her know more about me," insisted that McMahon drive down from Connecticut and meet her at a restaurant just on the other side Central Park from her home.

As Bart Simpson says, "Woo Hoo!" Sistina, where each week they "fly in most of our ingredients directly from Italy and the Mediterranean, where the wine cellars feature "the most prestigious labels in the world." Home of the $44 sea bass, the $27 meatball (singular) appetizer, and $100 wine. Times shareholders fed Collins...well, very well. That's what they do at the Times. Expense accounts, you know, other people's money -- it's a ruling class thing.

And they say wrestling is sleazy.

The welfare state - the only state that thrives on liberalism

WASHINGTON — Government anti-poverty programs that have grown to meet the needs of recession victims now serve a record one in six Americans and are continuing to expand.

More than 50 million Americans are on Medicaid, the federal-state program aimed principally at the poor, a survey of state data by USA TODAY shows. That's up at least 17% since the recession began in December 2007.

"Virtually every Medicaid director in the country would say that their current enrollment is the highest on record," says Vernon Smith of Health Management Associates, which surveys states for Kaiser Family Foundation.

The program has grown even before the new health care law adds about 16 million people, beginning in 2014. That has strained doctors. "Private physicians are already indicating that they're at their limit," says Dan Hawkins of the National Association of Community Health Centers.

More than 40 million people get food stamps, an increase of nearly 50% during the economic downturn, according to government data through May. The program has grown steadily for three years.

Caseloads have risen as more people become eligible. The economic stimulus law signed by President Obama last year also boosted benefits.

"This program has proven to be incredibly responsive and effective," says Ellin Vollinger of the Food Research and Action Center.

Close to 10 million receive unemployment insurance, nearly four times the number from 2007. Benefits have been extended by Congress eight times beyond the basic 26-week program, enabling the long-term unemployed to get up to 99 weeks of benefits. Caseloads peaked at nearly 12 million in January — "the highest numbers on record," says Christine Riordan of the National Employment Law Project, which advocates for low-wage workers.

More than 4.4 million people are on welfare, an 18% increase during the recession. The program has grown slower than others, causing Brookings Institution expert Ron Haskins to question its effectiveness in the recession.

As caseloads for all the programs have soared, so have costs. The federal price tag for Medicaid has jumped 36% in two years, to $273 billion. Jobless benefits have soared from $43 billion to $160 billion. The food stamps program has risen 80%, to $70 billion. Welfare is up 24%, to $22 billion. Taken together, they cost more than Medicare.

The steady climb in safety-net program caseloads and costs has come as a result of two factors: The recession has boosted the number who qualify under existing rules. And the White House, Congress and states have expanded eligibility and benefits.

As conservatism rises at home, liberals posture abroad

PHOENIX – Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer demanded Friday that a reference to the state's controversial immigration law be removed from a State Department report to the United Nations' human rights commissioner.

The U.S. included its legal challenge to the law on a list of ways the federal government is protecting human rights.

In a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Brewer says it is "downright offensive" that a state law would be included in the report, which was drafted as part of a UN review of human rights in all member nations every four years.

"The idea of our own American government submitting the duly enacted laws of a state of the United States to 'review' by the United Nations is internationalism run amok and unconstitutional," Brewer wrote.

Arizona's law generally requires police officer enforcing other laws to investigate the immigration status of people they suspect are illegal immigrants.

Critics say it would lead officers to target Hispanics. Supporters, including Brewer, say the law prohibits racial profiling and other human rights abuses.

The U.S. Justice Department sued to block the measure, arguing federal law trumps the state's authority to enforce immigration laws.

A federal judge in July sided with the Justice Department and blocked enforcement of the law's most controversial provisions a day before it was scheduled to take effect.

In its report, the State Department does not specifically allege that Arizona's law would lead to racial profiling.

"A recent Arizona law, S.B. 1070, has generated significant attention and debate at home and around the world," the report says. "The issue is being addressed in a court action that argues that the federal government has the authority to set and enforce immigration law. That action is ongoing; parts of the law are currently enjoined."

A State Department spokesman had no immediate comment on Brewer's letter.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Weekly Standard's report supports TheRightFieldLine's argument that Americans are on strike against the Obama crew

The economy, it turns out, grew at an annual rate of only 1.6 percent in the second quarter, rather than 2.4 percent as originally estimated. That means that the growth rate in the most recent three quarters has dropped steadily, from 5.0 percent at the end of 2009 to 3.7 percent and 1.6 percent in the first two quarters of this year.

Both consumers and businessmen are sitting on the sidelines. The July drop in sales of new (-32 percent year-on-year) and existing homes (-26 percent) to record-low levels exceeded even the gloomiest expectations, and can no longer be blamed on the expiration of the Homebuyer Tax Credit. Low mortgage rates seem to be offset by tighter credit standards, job insecurity is being fuelled by rising initial claims for unemployment insurance, and buyers feel it pays to wait because prices will be lower tomorrow.

Potential homebuyers are not the only squeamish economic actors. Capital goods orders, excluding defense spending and the 76 percent increase in the volatile aircraft segment, fell 8 percent, the biggest drop since January 2009. This “highlight[s] the risk of a significant slowdown of investment spending,” concludes Bernd Weidensteiner of Commerzbank. American corporations seem to be using some of their $2 trillion in idle cash to return to the acquisitions market, bad news for job seekers since successful acquisitions usually mean lay-offs in the acquired companies -- “efficiencies” and “cost savings” are the preferred description.

Add to this bad news an even more powerful drag on the economy: uncertainty. Bernanke says the Fed is loading its monetary policy gun by keeping its balance sheet from shrinking, but no one knows whether or when he will pull the trigger. Besides, even if he does, recent history suggests that the Fed can’t lure enough money from the wallets of debt-burdened consumers or from corporate treasuries to put the economy on a solid growth path. Mike Dude, CEO of vaunted retailer Wal-Mart, says, “The slow economic recovery will continue to affect our customers, and we expect they will remain cautious about spending.” Students are being made to do with their old PCs, and affluent fashionistas are eyeing lower-priced editions of their favorite designers’ lines.

My take: This supports my blog post of Aug. 23, under the headline: "Why the economy refuses to recover: Americans are on strike against Obama's anti-American, big-government policies," in which I wrote this:

Hoist by his own petard.

That's President Barack Obama.

Having assumed office with an illusory mandate to "transform America," he tossed aside public opinion, ignored voters' traditional preference for moderate, not radical, change, and set out to impose his vision of dominant government and a citizenry willing to say, okay, when a designated bureaucrat tells them their time has come to die. In doing so, Obama's minions bribed lawmakers to vote for measures opposed by a majority of voters and made a mockery of the legislative process.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi will be an unduring symbol with her call for Congress to pass a bill cobbled by insiders so that rank and file members could find out what's in it.

As the nation's debt grew by trillions of dollars, voters recoiled in horror while Obama remained unfazed, and perhaps unwitting. There is, after all, little evidence that Obama has any understanding of economics aside from the obvious fact that many of America's corporate elite will throw money at radical politicians so long as those politicians protect and nurture their corporate interests.

As a leftist nurtured in marxist truisms, he is, of course, dedicated to Keynesian economics, a dressed up ideology that encourages politicians to pay off voting blocs and interest groups that share their aspirations in the guise of "stimulus."

Now, 19 months into his presidency, Obama expresses puzzlement at the stubborn refusal of the American economy to recover despite more than a trillion dollars in "stimulus" spending. Speculation is rife that the economy will turn down again, producing a dreaded double-dip recession.

What's going on?

Sane America has gone on strike against the Obama administration's obsessive effort to impose rule by a leftist elite, including "czars," that has seized control of government and uses it to impose policies that most Americans oppose.

To counter this bizarre assault on American values, individuals, families, small businesses and large corporations are reasserting their individuality and desire for freedom by hoarding cash, withholding spending to thwart a government that some regard as wayward, and many view as their enemy.

Sign of the times: Nation's only new bank operates out of a second-hand double-wide trailer on a church parking lot

LAKE CHARLES, La. — The only new start-up bank to open in the United States this year operates out of a secondhand double-wide trailer, on a bare lot in front of the cavernous Trinity Baptist Church. A blue awning covers the makeshift drive-through window.

Called Lakeside Bank, it is run by a burly and balding former tackle for Louisiana State’s football team named Hartie Spence, who doles out countrified humor along with deposit slips and the occasional loan.

“This is the one place where the cause of death is mildew,” he quipped, standing outside the trailer in withering heat.

Asked how his bank in this steaming town of oil refineries and oversize casinos managed to win over federal regulators, Mr. Spence, 70, said, “I’m still thinking it’s my looks that did it.”

The dearth of new banks follows a particularly wrenching period for the industry. As the financial crisis deepened, hundreds of banks and thrifts closed and thousands more were saddled with bad loans and credit card defaults, costing the industry billions of dollars.

As a result, the number of investor groups applying to start a new bank from scratch has dropped precipitously. And for the intrepid few who have tried, regulators — sharply criticized for lax oversight in recent years — are being particularly stingy in granting approval.

So far this year, Mr. Spence holds the privilege of opening the only truly new federally insured bank. (In seven other instances, investors received regulatory approval to buy an existing bank, usually one that had failed, and reopen it).

Of course, many of the nation’s biggest banks were bailed out by the government, and have since rebounded. But since January 2008, more than 280 smaller banks and thrifts have been closed, and many community banks are struggling to recover from the real estate collapse.

Those bank failures have cost the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation’s fund roughly $70 billion, and not surprisingly, the agency’s regulators are now giving greater scrutiny to new bank applications, according to bankers and industry officials.

Technically, banks obtain charters from their primary regulatory agency, either state banking regulators or, for national banks, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency. But the charters are contingent on the applicants’ obtaining deposit insurance from the F.D.I.C.

The F.D.I.C. said the reduction in charters simply reflects the effects of the recession on new businesses. “There was considerable interest in forming banks before the economy deteriorated,” said an agency spokesman, David Barr. “In today’s climate we are seeing very little interest.”

Book: "Control Freaks: 7 Ways Liberals Plan to Ruin Your Life"

Terence P. Jeffrey is the author of Control Freaks: 7 Ways Liberals Plan to Ruin Your Life. The former campaign manager for Pat Buchanan’s 1996 presidential campaign now writes a column for Creators Syndicate and serves as editor-in-chief of CNSNews.com and editor at large of Human Events.

Jeffrey recently agreed to answer 10 questions about his new book and other topics of interest for The Daily Caller:

1.) Why did you decide to write this book?

I believe the liberal worldview and policies examined in “Control Freaks” threaten not only our prosperity but our freedom. Americans of my generation have a duty to give the Americans of my children’s generation a country both prosperous and free and we are at risk of failing in that mission.

2.) Your book is subtitled ‘7 Ways Liberals Plan to Ruin Your Life.’ Give me the topic heads of the 7 ways and do you think that liberals are intentionally seeking to ruin people’s lives or doing so out of misguided ideology –and does the distinction even matter?

Liberals, I argue in the book, are seeking to increase the power of government over individuals to control 1) our movement, 2) our retirement income, 3) our health care, 4) our private property, 5) our speech, 6) whether we live or die, and 7) our consciences.

If there’s a distinction, it makes no difference to the victim. The city planners of New London may have thought they were constructing a better city by seizing and bull-dozing the homes of the Fort Trumbull neighborhood, but they were nonetheless willfully ruining at least a part of the lives of the families whose homes they targeted. I have no doubt the government-protected abortionist knows he is ruining the life of the little girl he kills — even if he is the true-believing disciple of a political creed that holds that the world would be better if we killed more babies.

Obamacare: Looking for job growth in all the wrong places

Come September, National Journal will host a policy summit titled “Prescription For Growth,” funded by Eli Lilly, that will probe “the potential impact of recently passed health care reform as an economic engine” and ask whether “health care reform [will] serve as a jobs creator and accelerate growth in health-related industries?”
Oy, where to begin?

I suppose I could start with how a news organization that bills itself as “the leading source of nonpartisan reporting” could lend ObamaCare a positive gloss by calling it “reform” — a term that even NPR declines to ascribe to actual legislation (for that reason).

Next, there’s this inane question of whether ObamaCare will spur job growth in the health care sector. With two new health care entitlements and maybe a trillion dollars of new health spending…gosh, d’ya think?

But then there’s the presumption that creating new health care jobs is a good thing. You’d think it would be. After all, unemployment is near 10 percent. But one of our biggest health care problems is that there are too many health care jobs. The Dartmouth Institute’s Elliot Fisher has quipped, “In theory, we could send a third of the U.S. health care workforce to Africa and improve the health of both continents.” ObamaCare will just make this country’s health care sector even more bloated and inefficient.

Wrap your head around all that this summit aims to accomplish. It could give a boost to an unpopular and low approval rating on the economy — never mind that ObamaCare is stifling the right kind of job creation.

Of course, I may have this summit all wrong. It may give all these issues a fair hearing.

Did I mention the summit’s sponsor is one of the biggest special-interest beneficiaries of ObamaCare? (Tim Carney, call your office.)

Saturday, August 28, 2010

When liberals lose an argument, they call adversaries names

If you think it's offensive for a Muslim group to exploit the 9/11 atrocity, you're an anti-Muslim bigot and un-American to boot. It is a claim so bizarre, so twisted, so utterly at odds with common sense that it's hard to believe anyone would assert it except as some sort of dark joke. Yet for the past few weeks, it has been put forward, apparently in all seriousness, by those who fancy themselves America's best and brightest, from the mayor of New York all the way down to Peter Beinart.

What accounts for this madness? Charles Krauthammer notes a pattern:

Promiscuous charges of bigotry are precisely how our current rulers and their vast media auxiliary react to an obstreperous citizenry that insists on incorrect thinking.

-- Resistance to the vast expansion of government power, intrusiveness and debt, as represented by the Tea Party movement? Why, racist resentment toward a black president.

-- Disgust and alarm with the federal government's unwillingness to curb illegal immigration, as crystallized in the Arizona law? Nativism.

-- Opposition to the most radical redefinition of marriage in human history, as expressed in Proposition 8 in California? Homophobia.

-- Opposition to a 15-story Islamic center and mosque near Ground Zero? Islamophobia.

Now we know why the country has become "ungovernable," last year's excuse for the Democrats' failure of governance: Who can possibly govern a nation of racist, nativist, homophobic Islamophobes?

Krauthammer portrays this as a cynical game: "Note what connects these issues. In every one, liberals have lost the argument in the court of public opinion. . . .

New York test makers glorify Islam, portray Christians as louts

State testmakers played favorites when quizzing high-schoolers on world religions -- giving Islam and Buddhism the kid-gloves treatment while socking it to Christianity, critics say.

Teachers complain that the reading selections from the Regents exam in global history and geography given last week featured glowing passages pertaining to Muslim society but much more critical essay excerpts on the subject of Christianity.

"There should have been a little balance in there," said one Brooklyn teacher who administered the exam but did not want to be identified.

"To me, this was offensive because it's just so inappropriate and the timing of it was piss-poor," he added, referring to the debate over the plan to build a mosque near Ground Zero.

The most troubling passage came from Daniel Roselle's "A World History: A Cultural Approach," observers said.

The passage reads: "Wherever they went, the Moslems [sic] brought with them their love of art, beauty and learning. From about the eighth to the eleventh century, their culture was superior in many ways to that of western Christendom."

Meanwhile, an excerpt listing the common procedures used by Christian friars to introduce the religion in Latin America stated that "idols, temples and other material evidences of paganism [were] destroyed," and "Christian buildings [were] often constructed on sites of destroyed native temples" -- and built with free Indian labor, to boot.

"I can see why some people might see these questions as skewed," said Mark MacWilliams, a religious-studies professor at St. Lawrence University in upstate Canton. "Why does the exam seem to have only documents that portray Islam as a religion of peace, civilization and refinement, while it includes documents about Christianity that show it was anything but peaceful in the Spanish conquest of the Americas?"

At the same time, MacWilliams criticized the presentation of Hernando Cortes' conquest of Mexico -- which he said portrayed him as a "choirboy" rather than a "conquistador."

"It's quite a whitewash," he said.

Pocketbook issues will be decisive; other issues not so much

Watching the news, Americans could be forgiven if they thought the November elections were a referendum on the New York mosque controversy.

Before the mosque took center stage, the elections were centered on Charlie Rangel's scandal, gay marriage, the immigration debate, the BP oil spill. Next week it will be something else.

So many headlines, so little real impact. Actually, there's nothing special about the way 2010 is leaning. It is a classic, pocketbook-hurting, message-sending midterm election.

How could it be otherwise? With millions unemployed, millions more under-employed, a vicious recession in the recent past and a possible double-dip underway, people are focused on the bread and butter of their lives.

Even if Democrats are blameless for these affairs, they are the party in power. Voting against them is a logical, time-honored response from weary, unhappy citizens who have run out of patience. Whatever you think of the stimulus bill, health care reform, and cap-and-trade, the main cause of Democratic distress isn't promoting liberal legislation but simply being in charge when bad things are happening to the nation's economy.

Goodness knows, the election won't signal that voters have fallen in love with the Republicans. Every poll shows that Americans don't like or trust either party right now.

People don't want to reward the Democrats for what they see as underperformance after overpromising on the economy. At the same time, most Americans have no desire to put the Tea Party-influenced Republicans in charge. So people will let the parties fight it out in D.C. by giving each side some turf.

Americans know what they're getting with split-party control. Since Dwight Eisenhower took the White House in 1952, one party has been fully in charge of the executive and legislative branches for just 20 of the 58 years. Obama was lucky enough to have swollen Democratic majorities for his first two years as President, and he has legislative accomplishments to show for it. It's a good thing for him, too, because even if he serves two terms, the President will almost certainly never have the party margins to do much again.

Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels on Obamacare

If you're outspokenly critical of America, the White House may send you as an ambassador on a tour of the Middle East

Among the prime planners of a $100 million Islamic center and mosque near Ground Zero, it's not just Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf who is visiting the Middle East this summer at U.S. taxpayer expense. The State Department is also about to send Rauf's wife and Cordoba Initiative fellow director, Daisy Khan, on her own taxpayer-funded "public diplomacy" trip to the United Arab Emirates. Khan is scheduled to visit the UAE from Aug. 29 to Sept. 2, overlapping there with Rauf, for whom it will be the final leg of a three-country trip including Bahrain and Qatar.

The U.S. Embassy in the UAE capital of Abu Dhabi has posted on its website an announcement of the impending visit by this husband-wife team. Rauf and Khan will be there, the announcement says, "to engage foreign audiences and build people-to-people ties" and to "discuss their experiences as Muslims living and working in the United States."

What might their discussions entail? Rauf, since his Cordoba Initiative's Ground Zero mosque project triggered a national uproar, has spent the summer as an enigma. Before embarking on his State-sponsored tour, he walled himself off for weeks in Malaysia, where he has longstanding ties and keeps an office. His Cordoba website now features a note that Rauf could not be available (apparently not even by phone) to explain himself to the people of New York because "he travels the world in his life-long endeavor to bring the message of moderation, peace and understanding to both Western and Islamic countries."

In Rauf's absence, Daisy Khan has been speaking prolifically from New York about the Cordoba House mega-mosque project (which the developer recently re-dubbed Park 51, and the Cordoba House is now describing as a "community center"). Her message, like the name of the project, has been morphing at speed. When Rauf and Khan won approval for their 15-story mosque-topped Cordoba House from a Manhattan community board this spring, they advertised their project as all about doing their part for harmony and healing near the site of the Sept. 11 attacks.

When it turned out that a majority of New Yorkers, and Americans generally, think this project is more like rubbing salt in a wound, Khan shifted focus. She's now talking about the Cordoba project as a test of American religious tolerance. If a majority of Americans--cognizant that the Sept. 11 attacks were carried out by Muslims, in the name of Islam--think it's inappropriate to stage that test near the edge of Ground Zero, Khan's retort is that they must be bigots. In an interview last week with the Washington Post's Sally Quinn, she lamented: "When will Muslims be accepted as plain old Americans?"

On Sunday, interviewed on ABC TV's This Week by Christiane Amanpour, Khan ratcheted up her complaints. Amanpour asked, "Is America Islamophobic?"

Khan replied, "It's not even Islamophobia, it's beyond Islamophobia. It's hate of Muslims."

As Obamanomics flounders, market-friendly Hayek is reborn

Peter J. Boettke, shuffling around in a maroon velour track suit or faux-leather rubber shoes he calls "dress Crocs," hardly seems like the type to lead a revolution.

But the 50-year-old professor of economics at George Mason University in Virginia is emerging as the intellectual standard-bearer for the Austrian school of economics that opposes government intervention in markets and decries federal spending to prop up demand during times of crisis. Mr. Boettke, whose latest research explores people's ability to self-regulate, also is minting a new generation of disciples who are spreading the Austrian approach throughout academia, where it had long been left for dead.

To these free-market economists, government intrusion ultimately sows the seeds of the next crisis. It hampers what one famous Austrian, Joseph Schumpeter, called the process of "creative destruction."

Governments that spend money they don't have to cushion downturns, they say, lead nations down the path of large debts and runaway inflation.

Eight decades ago, in the midst of the Great Depression, the Austrian school and its leading scholar, Friedrich A. von Hayek, fell out of favor relative to the more activist theories of John Maynard Keynes. The British economist's ideas, which called for aggressive government spending during recessions, triumphed then and in the decades since, reflected most recently in measures like the $814 billion stimulus package. Austrian adherents were marginalized, losing influence in prominent journals and among policy makers.

But as the economy flounders, debt mounts and growth—revised downward Friday—flags, Mr. Hayek and his Austrian-school adherents like Mr. Boettke are resurgent as their views resonate with more people.

"What I'm really worried about is an endless cycle of deficits, debt, and debasement of currency," Mr. Boettke says. "What we've done is engage in a set of policies that's turned a market correction into an economy-wide crisis."

Mr. Boettke got hooked on economics as a student at Grove City College. His commitment to economics is "always on," says his wife.

Others seem to agree. Mr. Hayek's 1944 classic, "The Road to Serfdom," became the top-selling book in June on Amazon.com. The Austrian think tank Foundation for Economic Education had to turn students away this summer from its overflowing seminars.

Unsurprisingly, 88% of tv media money goes to Democrats

Senior executives, on-air personalities, producers, reporters, editors, writers and other self-identifying employees of ABC, CBS and NBC contributed more than $1 million to Democratic candidates and campaign committees in 2008, according to an analysis by The Examiner of data compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics.

The Democratic total of $1,020,816 was given by 1,160 employees of the three major broadcast television networks, with an average contribution of $880.

By contrast, only 193 of the employees contributed to Republican candidates and campaign committees, for a total of $142,863. The average Republican contribution was $744.

Disclosure of the heavily Democratic contributions by influential employees of the three major broadcast networks follows on the heels of controversy last week when it was learned that media baron Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. contributed $1 million to the Republican Governors Association.

The News Corp. donation prompted Nathan Daschle, executive director of the Democratic Governors Association and son of former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, to demand in a letter to Fox News chairman Roger Ailes that the cable news outlet include a disclaimer in its coverage of gubernatorial campaigns. Fox News is owned by News Corp., which also owns The Wall Street Journal.

Friday, August 27, 2010

ACORN-like outfit submits thousands of phony voter registrations; by coincidence, warehouse full of evidence burns

A few days ago we blogged how the Houston voter registrar had a press conference announcing widespread voter fraud and thousands of illegal and phony voter registrations submitted by an ACORN-like organization called "Houston Votes." Those stories are here and here.

Harris County Tax Assessor Collector [and voter registrar] Leo Vasquez accused the group of submitting thousands of bogus voter registration applications in recent months in what he said appears to be a campaign to taint the voter rolls.

Well this morning Mr. Vasquez's warehouse containing all of the voting machines, supplies and equipment burned to the ground. A note of caution: obviously law enforcement officials in Harris County will get to the bottom of this. We are posting this because, for now, Harris County is going to have a mess of an election in November because all of their equipment and supplies have been destroyed.

UPDATE: Every voting machine for Houston is destroyed.

Earlier story:

Today, the King Street Patriots, a group of citizen-volunteers in Harris County, Texas, announced their discovery of thousands, possibly tens of thousands, of incomplete, inaccurate or false voter registrations. The group, represented by Liberty Institute, uncovered hundreds of properties, including vacant lots and nonexistent addresses, where six or more people claim to live.

"It's apparent that King Street Patriots discovered voter fraud in Harris County, though we don't know just how extensive it is," said Kelly Shackelford, president/CEO for Liberty Institute and a constitutional scholar. "King Street Patriots is double-checking all registrations leading up to the election, and will be releasing information each week on what they've uncovered. There are those who are trying to intimidate King Street Patriots by attempting to vandalize their office and vehicles and monitoring the location of their offices and work. It is unfortunate that our clients are now the focus of intimidation tactics. No one should be intimidated or punished for being a good citizen."

King Street Patriots released statements today following Harris County's news conference announcing their discovery of what they called "voted fraud." The group, which works to ensure fair and free elections, found evidence suggesting that deputy voter registrars completed registration forms incorrectly, even registering some people without their permission who have not signed up to vote in the past ten years.

"If our elections are not fair, we are not truly free," said Catherine Engelbrecht, president of King Street Patriots. "Our True the Vote volunteers are working night and day to ensure that elections in Harris County are accurate and that no one's vote is stolen."

Can an obsequious U.S. military win in Afghanistan?

My take: Here's a superb look at the absurd, obsequious posture of the U.S. military in Afghanistan by Diana West. Pay attention to the comments, some written by veterans who are appalled by the scene.

Winning hearts and minds means losing your own. It involves teaching defenders of the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights to “respect” an Islamic tribal culture (as advocated by Admiral Mullen — below — and other leaders) that subjugates women, girls, boys and non-Muslims (assuming there are any of the last left in the country), while increasingly assuming its customs – from troops adopting native dress to a US admiral involving himself in the ritual slaughter of sheep, to redefining our very perceptions of reality.

Now, it’s part of basic training.

From the Des Moines Register staff blogs (thanks to a vigilant Marine mom):

Camp Shelby, Miss. – Sgt. Eric Campbell did almost everything right in his first try at greeting an Afghan community leader, but he forgot about the gloves.

The Iowa National Guard cavalry sergeant walked confidently into a mock-up of an Afghan police office, where he warmly greeted a commander in a blue uniform shirt and red head scarf. He asked permission to take off his body armor and helmet, and he politely set down his rifle. Then he sat cross-legged on the carpet with his counterpart and an interpreter.

May I be permitted to take off my body armor and helmet?

During a 15-minute conversation, he maintained proper eye contact with the commander, and he used an interpreter to ask appropriate questions about the man’s family and his police force’s needs.

Needs. The continuing theme. Strike that — the eternal theme — of the Great Society in A-Stan.

“We need a lot of training for these people,” the commander replied in Dari, one of Afghanistan’s main languages. “We want lots of soldiers, too.” The previous American unit in town sent over a junior officer who never could deliver on his promises, the commander complained.

At what point — who knows? — does the role-playing commander start to believe this?

Campbell listened patiently and promised to do all he could to help the local police. Then he added, “God willing.”

That would be, “Inshallah.” Allah willing. Redolent of Islamic concepts of pre-destination and all that. Why is an American non-Muslim being steeped in Islamic conventions even as he’s giving away the US store?

In the end, the commander seemed satisfied. “You need to come here often, often,” he said.

“And bring more stuff,” he should have added.

Campbell, 29, of Sioux City, had never done this sort of thing before. He was going through his first exercise in “key leader engagement” during a training session at Camp Shelby.

Engagement? The term implies a measure of equality that is absent in this demeaning training exercise.

Think of it: The young guardsman is trained to enter the Afghan police station, beg permission to doff his armor, ask all the right (read: obsequious) questions of the Afghan police officer, allow the Afghan police officer to run down the guardsman’s American predecessor as a liar, and then offer unconditional aide — that is, utterly fail to extract concessions of any kind, or make aid contingent on anything whatsoever. Who’s the supplicant here — the American benefactor and protector, or the Afghan drag and recipient?

And the critique is (below) that the American didn’t show more ritualistic deference.

One of his soldiers, Spec. Broderick Miller of Sioux City, took notes. Seven other squad members watched, then critiqued the session.

One of the soldiers pointed out that Campbell forgot to take off his gloves before shaking the Afghan commander’s hand, which could be seen as disrespectful. Campbell made a little grimace as he recalled the incident.

A camp instructor, Sgt. 1st Class Gregory Payne, agreed Campbell should have taken his gloves off. But he said overall, the session went well.

“It may not always be that easy,” he warned. “There may be some tension. Sometimes, there may be a lot of tension.” It could take months to build rapport with a community leader, he said. Sometimes, it could prove impossible….


Some comments by commenters:


Winning hearts and minds does not win wars. It did not work in Vietnam, Iraq, or any other war known to Mankind. Clauswitz had it right, you fight till your enemy has neither the means or the will to fight on. That means killing the enemy, destroy the warmaking capacity, and letting the enemy know that you are the victor. Our soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan are being used as community organizers and allowing another Shiara Muslim country to recover and continue the fight against the west. Instead of the above scenario, the Officer should have been trained to go into the Afghani Police office as a soldier to make sure the police officer is doing his job or suffer the consequence.

Wow thats a lot different then I remember. We were trained to try and not offend them deliberately but if they made a threatening move to drop them where they stand.

Guess there was early evidence of this nonsense. The Marine sniper that was disciplined for shooting the koran. The Army Officer kissing a copy of it in apology. No wonder they think we are bullsht now, look at how we submit to them at every turn.

Here's an off topic question, where the hell are these northern warlords we had take out the Taliban in the beginning of the war? Why aren't they protecting their border from them anymore?


Somewhere, General Patton weeps.

The country is doomed if this kind of garbage continues.