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Heavy-Handed Politics

"€œGod willing, with the force of God behind it, we shall soon experience a world
without the United States and Zionism."€ -- Iran President Ahmadi-Nejad

Friday, March 20, 2009

Karl Rove: Obama Gives the GOP an Opening -
President Barack Obama and his West Wing lieutenants are playing on the world's largest stage, yet act as if no one is watching them when they contradict their campaign promises. That behavior is unwittingly giving the Republicans an opening.

For example, Team Obama thinks the president, having spent a good portion of the campaign decrying the $2.9 trillion in deficits during the Bush years, can now double the national debt held by the public in 10 years. Having condemned earmarks during the campaign, the Obama....

Environmental Activism's Blunt Legal Instrument
By Hugh Hewitt

Recently an environmental think tank in Colorado convened a meeting on the future of the Endangered Species Act vis-a-vis global warming, and environmental activists in attendance were candid about their agenda: They believe that last year's listing of the polar bear as a threatened species has not only opened the door to the regulation of all American businesses that emit carbon, but that such regulation is mandated. The Endangered Species Act is the most blunt of regulatory instruments, and now that activists can claim the right to use it to shut down oil and gas production in the lower 48 states--and many other carbon producing activities as well--they will certainly do so.

Only urgent legal action by the regulated industries will prevent the slow creep of backdoor and burdensome regulation on America's energy producers, regulation that means much higher energy costs and indeed shortages for American consumers not very long from now.

Look Beyond the Bogus Bonus Smokescreen
By Michelle Malkin

House Republicans pressed the Democrats on who knew what and when regarding the AIG bonus protections included in Connecticut Sen. Chris Dodd’s now infamous amendment to the stimulus bill. Rep. Barney Frank shrieked about the Bush administration’s culpability. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi smugly patted Democrats on the back for “protecting the national interest.” I ask you now to turn away from the bogus bonus smokescreen over $165 million in taxpayer-backed compensation packages for AIG employees. It is a pittance compared to the gargantuan spending spree happening right under our noses.

Dodd draws fire for tortured tale -
Manu Raju - POLITICO.com

Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) could have prevented a media firestorm by giving a simple explanation about why Congress couldn’t stop AIG executives from receiving lavish bonuses — and about his role in the ongoing brouhaha.

But the confusing way in which the Banking Committee chairman has handled an issue that has turned into political nitroglycerin has many people on Capitol Hill scratching their heads — and venting their anger at Dodd.

The questions center on a tortured chronology. Initially, Dodd deflected blame about changing legislative language that allowed the big bonuses to go forward — but later acknowledged that he did alter the provision. Also inexplicable: why Dodd would struggle to explain the issue by himself for nearly 24 hours before Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner admitted that he was the one who urged Dodd to make the changes


Washington Times - Aides attempt to cover for Obama
ST. CLOUD, Minn. | To hear his camp tell it Thursday, President Obama has been in the dark on his administration's controversial efforts to force veterans to use their private insurance for treatments and to clear the way for large bonuses to be paid to the executives of the failed insurance giant AIG.

Washington Times - Conyers suggests probe of ACORN
In an startling partisan shift, House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers Jr. on Thursday proposed holding hearings on claims the liberal activist group ACORN engaged in a pattern of crimes ranging from voter fraud to a mob-style “protection” racket.

Mr. Conyers, Michigan Democrat and fierce partisan, suggested a congressional probe after scathing testimony about the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) during a hearing on various voting issues related to the 2008 presidential election.

Mr. Conyers called the accusations “a pretty serious matter.”

CNSNews.com - Obama Envoy Holbrooke Served on AIG's Board
Washington (AP) - Obama administration special envoy Richard Holbooke was on the American International Group Inc. board of directors in early 2008 when the insurance company locked in the bonuses now stoking national outrage. Holbrooke, a veteran diplomat who is now the administration's point man on Pakistan and Afghanistan, served on the board between 2001 and mid-2008.

During that period, AIG undertook the aggressive investment strategies that led to a near-collapse and forced a multibillion-dollar federal bailout.

CNSNews.com - Sen. Chris Dodd's Political Stock Tumbles in Connecticut
Washington (AP) - Democrats may want to start thinking about a bailout for Senate Banking Committee Chairman Christopher Dodd, whose political stock has slipped amid the financial meltdown.

Kerry, Boxer: U.S. ‘Needs’ Cap-and-Trade on Carbon Emissions Even if Energy Costs Rise
Washington (CNSNews.com)
– Democratic Sens. John Kerry and Barbara Boxer told CNSNews.com that the nation must adopt the Obama administration’s cap-and-trade proposal to reduce carbon emissions, even if it results in massive increases in gasoline and electricity prices.

Class Warfare: ‘Working Families’ Offer Field Trip to AIG Executives’ Mansions
- "We're all mad at AIG," says the pro-union Connecticut Working Families Party. Tapping into some of that rage, the liberal group is sponsoring a "field trip" on Saturday to show working people from Hartford and Bridgeport how and where the AIG executives live.

"A fondness for power is implanted, in most men, and it is natural to abuse it, when acquired."

--Alexander Hamilton

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Chief justice accepts 'eligibility' petition

Roberts agrees to read Obama docs, consider WND's 330,000 signers
A California attorney lobbying the U.S. Supreme Court for a review of Barack Obama's qualifications to be president confronted the chief justice yesterday with legal briefs and a WND petition bearing names of over 325,000 people asking the court to rule on whether or not the sitting president fulfills the Constitution's "natural-born citizen" clause.

Civilian security force on agenda again

But no answer provided by presidential spokesman
The issue of a "Civilian National Security Force" – already discussed by President Obama several times – has come up again, this time before the National Defense University. But there's no information from the White House on what was meant.

Veterans rip Obama plan to charge wounded heroes

'He says he is looking to generate $540 million by this method'
The president is being "unreasonable" in his expectations that wounded soldiers will have to have treatments for service-related injuries covered by their own private health insurance, according to leaders of the American Legion.

"It became apparent during our discussion today that the president intends to move forward with this unreasonable plan," said David K. Rehbein, Legion commander.

"He says he is looking to generate $540 million by this method, but refused to hear arguments about the moral and government-avowed obligations that would be compromised by it," he said.

Fed to pump another $1 trillion into U.S. economy
International Herald Tribune
WASHINGTON: Saying that the recession continues to deepen, the U.S. Federal Reserve announced Wednesday that it would pump an extra $1 trillion into the economy by buying mortgage-backed securities and long-term Treasury issues.

As expected, the Fed kept its benchmark interest rate virtually at zero. But in a surprise, it drastically increased the amount of money it will create out of thin air to thaw out the still-frozen credit markets that have cramped lending to consumers and businesses alike.

U.S. capital struggles to contain HIV epidemic
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - "Who's next for testing?" Nathalie Boittin asked on Tuesday in a crowded waiting room at the Whitman-Walker Clinic in northwest Washington.

A young black man rose and Boittin, a community health educator, led him to get tested for the AIDS virus.

Testing has spiked at this clinic and others in the U.S. capital since an official report this week showed that 3 percent of the city's residents are infected with HIV. Officials believe the true figure is even higher.

Some Dems want brake in Obama plans
Barack Obama’s Big Bang Theory of Governance is starting to face its first big test among the new president’s fellow Democrats.

At the White House Tuesday morning, Obama began the day with a sharp push-back against the idea that his uncommonly ambitious agenda on health care, energy and other initiatives is too much, too soon.

As Obama’s remarks echoed on Capitol Hill, it soon became clear that the skeptics are not just Republicans.

There is rising doubt among Democrats — particularly.....

Obama climate plan could cost $2 trillion - Washington Times
President Obama's climate plan could cost industry close to $2 trillion, nearly three times the White House's initial estimate of the so-called "cap-and-trade" legislation, according to Senate staffers who were briefed by the White House.

A top economic aide to Mr. Obama told a group of Senate staffers last month that.....

Obama May Use Legislative Ploy to Jam Through Health, Tax Bills - Bloomberg.com
By Brian Faler

(Bloomberg) -- President Barack Obama may try to push through Congress a health-care overhaul, energy proposals and tax increases by using a partisan tactic that would thwart Republican efforts to block the measures.

Filipino who accused Marine of rape changes story - Yahoo news
Three years after Lance Cpl. Daniel Smith was convicted of rape and sentenced to 40 years in jail, his accuser submitted a five-page affidavit to an appeals court Tuesday saying she now doubts her own version of events.

"My conscience continues to bother me realizing that I may have in fact been so friendly and intimate with Daniel Smith ... that he was led to believe that I was amenable to having sex or that we simply just got carried away," the woman said in the statement.

Democracy Moves Forward in Iraq
—Hugh Hewitt
ABC News has published the results of a large survey of Iraqis, and the headline "Dramatic Advances Sweep Iraq, Boosting Support for Democracy," tells us everything we need to know. The departed Bush Administration's surge strategy has worked, and decisively so. All across Iraq and spanning all ethnic groups, optimism about the future and faith in democracy is growing.

With this surge of hope comes the expectation of rising standards of living and, crucially, continued repair of the civil society shattered by the long, cruel reign of Saddam Hussein.

These results are particularly crucial now that bad news seems to arrive every day from Afghanistan. Here too new American war-fighting policy is transforming the coalition's efforts, and there can be a victory in that theater every bit as decisive as the one in Iraq--if the new Administration is as committed to victory as the old.



He may not be paying much attention to the stock market, where $11 trillion of pensions, investments and 401(k)s have been destroyed, but you can be sure that President Obama is paying attention to the polls showing diminishing support for his policies. Of course, in presidential polling, all numbers are not equally important. Obama got 52 percent of the national vote. So when his approval drops, as it has, from 65 percent on Inauguration Day to 56 percent now (according to Rasmussen), he is playing with house money. Most of those who are coming to negative conclusions about his administration didn't vote for him in the first place. But there are ominous signs in the data. So far, Obama's administration has been characterized by.....

Pants On Fire

Obama's big 5 percent lie.
By Dan Kennedy
Business & Media Institute

I remember when “60 Minutes” wasn’t so warm ‘n cuddly. Sunday night Ben Bernanke dodged a question by simply saying “It’s difficult to make predictions.” The interviewer let it go.

I might have responded to Bernanke by pointing out that the president seems to have no problem making predictions with great precision and in great quantity. So maybe Bernanke’s incompetent by comparison, or is the president a looney or liar? How would Bernanke respond to that?

After all, the president has, at different times, predicted crisis becoming..

Obama’s Media Strategy:

‘Pick the Target, Freeze It, Personalize It and Polarize It’

President Obama may only be 58 days into his term, but he already embraced a direct response approach to critics in the press – ginning up friendly media and net roots. READ MORE.

Will Obama Go AWOL on VA Health Benefits?

'If you were injured in Iraq or Afghanistan and you have not paid your co-pay, please press 1. If you were injured during military training and you have not yet reached your deductible, please press 2. If your family has reached its maximum insurance benefit, please call back after you have purchased additional coverage. Thank you for your service."

Before the leaders of other veteran's groups and I met with President Barack Obama at the White House on Monday, I believed a phone call like the one described above unimaginable. Now it seems all too possible.

The Real AIG Outrage

- Since September 16, AIG has sent $120 billion in cash, collateral and other payouts to banks, municipal governments and other derivative counterparties around the world. This includes at least $20 billion to European banks. The list also includes American charity cases like Goldman Sachs, which received at least $13 billion. This comes after months of claims by Goldman that all of its AIG bets were adequately hedged and that it needed no "bailout." Why take $13 billion then? This needless cover-up is one reason Americans are getting angrier as they wonder if Washington is lying to them about these bailouts.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Is Rand Relevant? - WSJ.com

Ayn Rand died more than a quarter of a century ago, yet her name appears regularly in discussions of our current economic turmoil. Pundits including Rush Limbaugh and Rick Santelli urge listeners to read her books, and her magnum opus, "Atlas Shrugged," is selling at a faster rate today than at any time during its 51-year history.

There's a reason. In "Atlas," Rand tells the story of the U.S. economy crumbling under the weight of crushing government interventions and regulations. Meanwhile, blaming greed and the free market, Washington responds with more controls that only deepen the crisis. Sound familiar?

The novel's eerily prophetic nature is no coincidence. "If you understand the dominant philosophy of a society," Rand wrote elsewhere in "Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal," "you can predict its course." Economic crises and runaway government power grabs don't just ........

"I apprehend no danger to our country from a foreign foe ... Our destruction, should it come at all, will be from another quarter. -- From the inattention of the people to the concerns of their government, from their carelessness and negligence, I must confess that I do apprehend some danger. I fear that they may place too implicit a confidence in their public servants, and fail properly to scrutinize their conduct; that in this way they may be made the dupes of designing men, and become the instruments of their own undoing. Make them intelligent, and they will be vigilant; give them the means of detecting the wrong, and they will apply the remedy."

--U.S. Senator Daniel Webster (1782-1852)



The furor over the huge federal spending under President Obama - a $1.75 trillion deficit, 13 percent - obscures an even more basic question: Does he know what he is doing?

That is, does he know how to do anything other than spend?

His stimulus package, of course, took no special ability: He left the details to Democrats in Congress. But his two other major initiatives - his banking - and mortgage-relief plans - are both flawed and unlikely to solve their respective problems.

Indeed, they're so wide of the mark as to prompt questions not of Obama's ideology but of his basic competence. Continue reading.

Government and Housing

"What is new is the current notion of indulging people who refused to save for a rainy day or to live within their means. In politics, it is called 'compassion' -- which comes in both the standard liberal version and 'compassionate conservatism.' The one person toward whom there is no compassion is the taxpayer. The current political stampede to stop mortgage foreclosures proceeds as if foreclosures are just something that strikes people like a bolt of lightning from the blue -- and as if the people facing foreclosures are the only people that matter. What if the foreclosures are not stopped? Will millions of homes just sit empty? Or will new people move into those homes, now selling for lower prices -- prices perhaps more within the means of the new occupants? The same politicians who have been talking about a need for 'affordable housing' for years are now suddenly alarmed that home prices are falling. How can housing become more affordable unless prices fall? The political meaning of 'affordable housing' is housing that is made more affordable by politicians intervening to create government subsidies, rent control or other gimmicks for which politicians can take credit. Affordable housing produced by market forces provides no benefit to politicians and has no attraction for them. Study after study, not only here but in other countries, show that the most affordable housing is where there has been the least government interference with the market -- contrary to rhetoric."

--Hoover Institution economist Thomas Sowell

Everyone Hates Ethanol - WSJ.com
These days, it's routine for businesses to fail, get rescued by the government, and then continue to fail. But ethanol, which survives only because of its iron lung of subsidies and mandates, is a special case. Naturally, the industry is demanding even more government life support.

Corn ethanol producers -- led by Wesley Clark, the retired general turned chairman of a new biofuels lobbying outfit called Growth Energy -- want the Obama Administration to make their guaranteed market even larger. Recall that the 2007 energy bill requires refiners to mix 36 billion gallons into the gasoline supply by 2022. The quotas, which ratchet up each year, are arbitrary, but evidently no one in Congress wondered what might happen if the economy didn't cooperate.

Now the recession is hammering demand for gas. The Energy Information Administration notes that U.S. consumption fell nearly 7% in 2008 and expects another 2.2% drop this year. That comes as great news for President Obama, who is achieving his carbon-reduction goals even without a new carbon tax, but the irony is that the ethanol industry is part of the wider collateral damage.  Read more.

"What will constrain science? The president says it will be up to the National Institutes of Health to come up with 'guidelines' for the use of embryonic stem cells. He specifically came out against creating embryos for the purpose of human cloning. But the question is this, if there are to be no moral, ethical, or religious restraints on the initial experiments, why should anyone expect them to be invoked later? One can only be a virgin once. After a moral or ethical line has been erased, it is nearly impossible to re-draw it."

--columnist Cal Thomas

Labor's European Model - WSJ.com
First came the huge stimulus, then the huger budget, then the Obama universal health-care plan. But Big Labor, cheering each, was really waiting for this: The "card check" bill introduced last week and considered the missing link in the revival of unions in America.

The so-called Employee Free Choice Act would let unions organize a worksite once 50% of employees sign a card saying they support a union. No secret-ballot election would be needed. Supporters claim this is necessary because workers are intimidated by companies to cast a vote against the union in secret, but are only too happy to express their true feelings to a union steward. Right.

Read on.

Why the GOP Can't Win With Minorities - WSJ.com

Today conservatism is stigmatized in our culture as an antiminority political philosophy. In certain quarters, conservatism is simply racism by another name. And minorities who openly identify themselves as conservatives are still novelties, fish out of water.

Yet there is now the feeling that without an appeal to minorities, conservatism is at risk of marginalization. The recent election revealed a Republican Party -- largely white, male and Southern -- seemingly on its way to becoming a "regional" party. Still, an appeal targeted just at minorities -- reeking as it surely would of identity politics -- is anathema to most conservatives. Can't it be assumed, they would argue, that support of classic principles -- individual freedom and equality under the law -- constitutes support of minorities? And, given the fact that blacks and Hispanics often poll more conservatively than whites on most social issues, shouldn't there be an easy simpatico between these minorities and political conservatism?  Read more.

The Greens Hate Energy, America, and You
By Alan Caruba

I doubt that most Americans have a clue what the leading Green organizations like Friends of the Earth and the Sierra Club have as their agenda for 2009. They have already made it known their members, so I will share it with you. Along with other environmental organizations, both groups use the bogey man of “global warming” to demand huge reductions in “emissions.”

Taxpayer Retention Bonus
By Rich Galen

AIG - American International Group, Inc. -- is the single most toxic asset in America. Over the past few months you and I have paid $173 billion of our tax dollars to bail these bozos out of the financial sewer they themselves designed, dug, filled, and jumped into. The big news over the weekend was that AIG has paid out bonuses of over $280 million to its excellent staff. Here's a good idea: Instead of continuing to pick the pockets of American taxpayers, how about extending the tax cuts which are due to expire next year? Call it a Taxpayer Retention Bonus.

Dems’ Anti-Limbaugh Contest is ‘Smart Street Theater,’ Top PR Execs Say
– The Democratic Party is engaged in “street theater” in its campaign against conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh, top advertising and public relations executives told CNSNews.com. What Democrats are really trying to do, one media adviser said, is to prepare now for the 2010 mid-term congressional elections.

Congress Should Not Rule Out U.S. Military on Mexico Border, Lawmakers Say
- Violence by drug cartels along the U.S.-Mexico border may not be as serious a national security concern as the war in Afghanistan, but it is a threat that calls for adequate resources, personnel, and perhaps military force, U.S. lawmakers said last week. Mexico has not asked the U.S. military for assistance.

Federal, Local Law Enforcement Program Nets 79,000 Illegal Aliens Since 2006
– A Department of Homeland Security fact sheet reveals that 67 state and local law enforcement agencies in 23 states have signed an agreement with DHS to enforce federal immigration laws. The program allows local law enforcement, with federal training and authorization, to arrest and imprison illegal aliens. Critics say the program leads to racial profiling.

Support for Democracy Climbs in A Safer, More Optimistic Iraq
– Iraqis are significantly more optimistic about the future, less concerned about security and increasingly supportive of democracy, according to a new poll gauging Iraqis’ attitudes six years after the U.S.-led invasion.Support for Democracy Climbs in A Safer, More Optimistic Iraq.