Category ►►► Democratic Culture of Corruption
April 30, 2013
The "Gender" Agender
If this here bill in the California state Assembly actually passes, California may swing sharply to the right -- and might even come into play again for presidential elections.
Well I can dream. But it's undeniable that the bill percolating through the Assembly is virtually an Onion-like parody of Progressivist gender madness... one that will strike deep and horribly into every family in California that has school-aged children.
AB 1266 would allow all students in elementary and secondary school to decide for themselves what "gender" they are today or tomorrow, and use whichever bathroom, locker room, or shower facility they think fits best. That is, a fourteen year old boy in middle school, even one never known for gay or transgendered tendencies, can simply walk into the girl's shower room, strip naked, and join them... and by state law, he cannot be stopped or disciplined for doing so, as long as he claims that today he feels more like a girl than a boy.
How many offensive ways of wrongness does this absurdist law embody?
- The bill utterly demolishes any idea of privacy; schoolchildren at all levels have the right to expect, as part of respecting their personhood, that they will not suddenly find themselves forced to go to the bathroom and take showers with members of the opposite sex. Many kids, boys and girls, are already embarassed enough showering with members of the same sex; but forced nudity in mixed-company clearly pushes far beyond that boundary of privacy.
- Anyone who thinks that teenaged boys will not take advantage of the new law, will not stroll into the girls' shower to just sexually intimidate the girls and arouse themselves -- and perhaps even sexually assault them, believing that's what the girls really want -- is naive to the point of retardation. Of course they will; teenaged boys are the epitome of irresponsible sexual acting out. (And the recent fad of "sexting" indicates that teenaged girls are not too far behind in the irresponsibility Olympics.) When "It seemed like a good idea at the time" morphs into "I felt like a girl at the time," school administrators will be helpless to do anything about it. Hey, they're just expressing their gender indecision!
While we're at it, let's admit that the bill will also completely obliterate girls' sports in school, since it also allows any male student to declare himself to be female (in his own mind, at least) and (again by law) play on the girls' team, instead of the boys'. Of course, since they're physically still boys, still bigger, stronger, faster, better at throwing baseballs or footballs, shooting basketballs, or kicking soccer balls, that means the girls will be more or less window dressing. And more or less targets for the meaner boys passing as girls.
Net effect: Girls will simply drop out of sports, because they can't win against boys twice their size and obviously prone to bullying. (Why would a boy want to play on a girls' team unless he wanted to bully?)
Back in the 1970s and early 80s, when the Equal Rights Amendment was wending its tortuous and ultimately unsuccessful path through ratification, the sexist line on it was that it would force boys and girls to use the same bathrooms and showers, and force women to be drafted into the Army. As I recollect, the feminists were furious at the spurious claim; but they were mostly "equity feminists" back then, not "gender feminists," to use Christina Hoff Sommers' terminology. "That's utterly ridiculous!" they (rightly) argued; "nobody's trying to erase the line between boys and girls!"
But today, the gay Left openly tries to erase that line -- and the leftover gender feminists cheer and applaud.
Of course: Since we all know that boys and girls are exactly the same, why shouldn't they shower together, go the the bathroom together, and play on any sports team, male or female, at their own will? Equality of rights begets equality of outcomes begets complete interchangeability between male and female... first in child rearing, then marriage, and now the ultimate leveling, bathroom buddies. The Progressivist Left is never satisfied; anything worth doing must surely be worth double-plus ultra overdoing!
I'm trying to imagine how even normal, moderate-liberal parents will react when their young daughters come home in tears because naked boys came into the girls' shower, leering, panting, displaying, and maybe even grabbing the girls -- and the school says, "hey, the law says we have to let them!" Or the sexual-assault lawsuits that surely would follow, filed not only against the school district but the parents of the assaulters (who thought the law would protect them from any consequences).
Or for that matter, how will all taxpayers feel about the enormous class-action lawsuits filed against the state and local school districts under Title 9 of the Civil Rights Act, for the de-facto destruction of girls' sports in school through state-sanctioned intimidation and violent assault, when the state allows boys join the opposing girls' team.
Simply put, if this bill passes without a massive political backlash, then America is doomed.
The Pacific Justice Institute, a conservative-leaning, pro-religion law firm, is all over this; they have up a web site on this bill and one other (designed to destroy the Boy Scouts and other private civic and fraternal organizations) at GenderInsanity.com.
And if you still think I'm overreacting, just flying off the handle, here is the text of AB 1266 itself; relevant portion (paragraph f) at the end in vivid and appropriate blue:
The people of the State of California do enact as follows:
Section 221.5 of the Education Code is amended to read:
(a) It is the policy of the state that elementary and secondary school classes and courses, including nonacademic and elective classes and courses, be conducted, without regard to the sex of the pupil enrolled in these classes and courses.
(b) A school district may not prohibit a pupil from enrolling in any class or course on the basis of the sex of the pupil, except a class subject to Chapter 5.6 (commencing with Section 51930) of Part 28 of Division 4 of Title 2.
(c) A school district may not require a pupil of one sex to enroll in a particular class or course, unless the same class or course is also required of a pupil of the opposite sex.
(d) A school counselor, teacher, instructor, administrator, or aide may not, on the basis of the sex of a pupil, offer vocational or school program guidance to a pupil of one sex that is different from that offered to a pupil of the opposite sex or, in counseling a pupil, differentiate career, vocational, or higher education opportunities on the basis of the sex of the pupil counseled. Any school personnel acting in a career counseling or course selection capacity to a pupil shall affirmatively explore with the pupil the possibility of careers, or courses leading to careers, that are nontraditional for that pupil’s sex. The parents or legal guardian of the pupil shall be notified in a general manner at least once in the manner prescribed by Section 48980, in advance of career counseling and course selection commencing with course selection for grade 7 so that they may participate in the counseling sessions and decisions.
(e) Participation in a particular physical education activity or sport, if required of pupils of one sex, shall be available to pupils of each sex.
(f) A pupil shall be permitted to participate in sex-segregated school programs, and activities,
and facilities, including athletic teams and competitions, and use facilities consistent with his or her gender identity, irrespective of the gender listed on the pupil’s records.
January 16, 2013
"Republocrats and Demicans?" Think Again...
Let's play Compare and Contrast.
Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick -- Democrat:
Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick on Monday laid tax and fee increases and new taxes on the table, including more than doubling the state's gas tax.
He's seeking more than $1 billion a year in new revenue to fund projects designed to fund public transit and highway operations, reduce MBTA debt and borrow money to double infrastructure spending. Beacon Hill leaders reportedly signaled agreement....
According to Boston.com, Patrick listed possible revenue sources including:
- Raising the gas tax from 21 cents to 51 cents per gallon
- Raising the sales tax from 6.25 percent to 7.75 percent
- Raising the state income tax to 5.66 percent from 5.25 percent
- Levying a vehicle miles-traveled tax at 2.4 cents per mile
- New, emissions-based vehicle title and registration fees could raise $175 million
- A payroll tax on workers in regions with transit service could raise $140 million to $207 million
Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman -- Republican:
Nebraska Governor on Tuesday became the second Republican governor in the last week to propose ending his state's income tax, saying he wants to make Nebraska more competitive with its neighbors by eliminating the tax on both individuals and corporations.
Heineman said that if a complete elimination of the two taxes could not be passed, he would push to lower rates on both individuals and corporations. He promised to make up the lost revenue by reducing business exemptions to the sales tax.
Last week, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal said he wanted to eliminate all personal and corporate income taxes in his state. Louisiana's personal income tax rate is 3.9 percent....
Other states in the country's midsection, including Oklahoma and Kansas, have also recently considered lowering taxes.
Np need to vote; the major parties are indistinguishable! No difference. May as well just sit out the next election, as so many did the last one.
To paraphrase M. Twain, there is something fascinating about reductionism and political levelism. One gets such wholesale returns of fatalism out of such a trifling investment of ignorance.
December 13, 2012
With "Ambassador" Susan Rice withdrawing her name from the sorting hat for the position of Secretary of State, the pundits, pontificators, and presstitutes universally predict that Sen. John F. Kerry (D-MA, 85%) will be nominated and easily confirmed; most predict by voice-vote alone, without even a roll call.
Does it bother you -- it outrages me -- that (leaving aside the extremely credible claims of the Swift Boat Vets) a man who admittedly lied and perjured himself to traduce his brothers in arms, accusing them jointly and severally of atrocities, war crimes, and crimes against humanity, should become the chief secretary of the presidential cabinet?
Or that our incoming Secretary of State could be an American traitor who flew to Paris to engage in secret talks with the North Vietnamese government, where he negotiated an American "surrender" -- with the very people who tortured Kerry's "fellow" senatorial colleague, John McCain?
I am infuriated that he is even in consideration. What next -- should Marc Rich become Attorney General? Should Hannibal Lector head up the National Institute of Mental Health?
If, as the political soothsayers say, the GOP acquiesces to JFK's appointment (presumably for no reason other than that he is a fellow member of the world's most exclusive conspiracy, the U.S. Senate)... then what standing have we to ever again call ourselves the party of national defense?
If we Republicans go along with this vile and grotesque farce, this sucker-punch to the men and women who guard the walls and secure our freedom, I fear we shall never recover from the self-inflicted immolation and degradation.
(Can't we have Jane Fonda instead? At least she partially apologized for posing on the North Vietnamese anti-aircraft gun. Kerry has shown no remorse nor expressed the slightest regret for calling his fellow servicemen baby killers and mass murderers.)
December 1, 2012
With their newly proclaimed "flexibility," lefties are feeling their beans. Here's an example:
A Democratic representative is calling for an amendment to the United States Constitution that would allow for some legislative restriction of freedom of speech.
"We need a constitutional amendment that would allow the legislature to control the so-called free speech rights of corporations," Rep. Hank Johnson (D-GA) was quoted as saying by CNS News.
Yep; with the limitless mandate the Democrats claim from their overwhelming, gargantuan, staggering victory in the 2012 elections, they now feel secure enough to do what they have always wanted: To throw the First Amendment out the airlock, and appoint themselves Guardians of Morality with full authority to censor or rewrite any human speech that is --
- Incorrect (a.k.a. "a lie!")
- Dissenting (a.k.a. "racist, sexist, homophobic, religious, and imperialist!")
- Upsetting to Progressivists (a.k.a. "unAmerican!")
- Inconvenient to Democrat schemes (a.k.a. "treason!")
Flexibility! That's the word.
August 9, 2012
The New True Levellers
The mid-seventeenth century True Levellers (or Diggers) were anti-private property anarchists who believed in strict, enforced, economic equality, where everybody is given equal access to land and "property" (none of which is privately owned in True Leveller theory), regardless of talent, effort, ingenuity, or even luck. But the New True Levellers -- my nickname for contemporary Progressivists and Occupiers -- are much worse: They believe in leveling everything to one uniform level.
The New True Levellers bring to mind Kurt Vonnegut's chilling story "Harrison Bergeron," which begins:
The year was 2081, and everybody was finally equal. They weren't only equal before God and the law. They were equal every which way. Nobody was smarter than anybody else. Nobody was better looking than anybody else. Nobody was stronger or quicker than anybody else. All this equality was due to the 211th, 212th, and 213th Amendments to the Constitution, and to the unceasing vigilance of agents of the United States Handicapper General.
(And which you can read in toto at the link -- and should. Instanter!) In that story, everybody who has any talent or ability beyond the average is given a cruel handicap, to drag him back to the level mean. Thus, the strong are constrained, the swift are hobbled -- and most horrific, the overly intelligent have a device installed in their heads that buzzes loudly at random intervals, completely disrupting the intelligent man's thoughts, dragging his effective IQ down to the norm.
It's a scalpel-precise filleting of the central premise of liberalism: Forced equality of outcomes. Vonnegut is saying, Here is the only way such a totalitarian goal can be achieved; does any sane human being truly want this?
Yet the New True Levellers would indeed enforce "equality" (of results) across an all-encompassing morass of human endeavor: equality of money (the "millionaires'" tax); equality of medical service (ObamaCare); equality of marital relationships (same-sex marriage, polygamy, plural marriage); and equality of private property (by abolishing it all, along with all individual buying and selling). That way, everybody will be exactly the same as everyone else... except that the favored few will be more equal than others.
And now, the New True Levellers even demand equality of voting rights... where all and every must have an equal vote, regardless of age, registration status, criminal record, incarceration, having already voted, or even citizenship. (Except the central-government elite will have a "more equal than others" vote.)
Yes, the anti-American Left now demands that non-citizens, or those who won't even say what nationality they are, have the same right to vote in U.S. elections as Americans:
Some voters were reportedly turned away from the polls on Michigan’s primary election day for refusing to fill out the new “citizenship” box on their ballot application.
Jocelyn Bensen, Director of the Michigan Center for Election Law, said they’ve been taking calls from confused voters across the state regarding this issue. She’s criticizing the Secretary of State’s office for failing to remind clerks that voters who decline to fill out the citizenship box must still be allowed to cast a ballot.
So it's not enough to forbid any requirement of official identification to vote, thus mandating that anyone can vote simply by claiming to be a citizen; the New True Levellers now insist that voters needn't even claim citizenship, nor even check a box saying that they are legal citizens of the United States. One's citizenship is literally irrelevant; vote early, vote often!
The next steps are clear: How can we infringe the voting rights of the dead? Or of animals, plants, computers, Magic 8-balls, or even animated characters? (Toons! How can we deny toon voting rights? If you cut them, do they not bleed -- ink?)
Why not ballots for a vague memory of a lost love? Or for colorless, green ideas that sleep furiously? Can a sigh vote? How about last Thursday; should last Thursday be given a ballot?
Why not just resurrect ACORN and instruct them to concoct a vote total for each district? It would be no less authentic (or more risible) than what Ms. Bensen seemingly demands.
And she appears to be litigation-bound on behalf of the "voter rights" of the class of folks unwilling to declare their citizenship:
Benson said they took calls from citizens in Wayne County, Oakland County and Macomb County as well as in Lansing and on the west side of the state – including some from people who weren’t allowed to vote....
Benson said it may be a constitutional as well as voter rights violation. She’s asking anyone who had problems at the polls to call the center at 1-800-R-VOTE [sic -- either Bensen or CBS doesn't appear to know how many digits are in a telephone number. -- DaH].
She does offer one actual argument, sort of, other than pure Levellerism:
"We know poll workers in the city of Detroit were trained to withhold ballots from people who didn’t complete the check box, and we know clerks in other parts of the state did not even have it on the application at all," said Benson. "So, there’s an absolute inconsistency to how this was approached and it’s something we are looking into for legal recourse."
But does anyone believe that if only the law was made universal across the state, so that every precinct had that same requirement to declare oneself to be an American citizen before voting in an American election, Ms. Bensen would be satisfied?
Anyone? Bueller? Bueller?
I drew attention above to "Harrison Bergeron." It's a brilliant story: Its author, Kurt Vonnegut (1922 to 2007), was a deeply committed man of the Left; but he was also a science-fiction and speculative-ficiton author, able to look beyond the cliched sloganeering of his fellow travelers of socialism and speculate about things that never were but might be in the future. For that reason, his books are rarities to be treasured. Well, most of them.
Others who fall into that same skimpy category include "George Orwell" (Eric Blair), Robert A. Heinlein, and the granddaddy of them all, H.G. (Herbert George) Wells; each of these three chose to couch many of his ideas in a speculative-fiction or fantasy mode, whether paeans to, or brickbats hurled at, the dreams from our socialist fathers.
Two eventually renounced socialism altogether: Heinlein during or shortly after World War II, and H.G. Wells in his last book, Mind at the End of Its Tether. (Contrary to some claims, Wells did not denounce his faith in science in that book, just his faith in socialism.) The other two, Vonnegut and Orwell, appear to have remained men of the Left lifelong -- but also frequent critics of that same Left.
Science fiction and speculative fiction (let's adopt a cowardly compromise by using the initials sf) demand clear thinking; if an sf author's thinking is muddled, quotidian, banal, and derivative (as with J.K. Rowling, author of the Harry Potter phenomena), most critical readers of sf would pronounce him (or her) a very bad sf writer; in other genres, especially "literary" fiction, authors can get away with uncreative murder. For a lark, compare Rowling's best with random passages from the great fantasists, such as J.R.R. Tolkien, Fritz Leiber, Harlan Ellison, Jack Vance, or Michael Moorcock. You can easily play "one of these books is not like the others."
You can especially compare Rowling unfavorably to Jane Yolen, who published Wizard's Hall in 1991 -- the book that Rowling swears, upon a stack of Daily Prophets and Quibblers, that she never, ever saw. Assuming she is truthful and accurate, as of course I must, it's a remarkable example of pandery recapitulating plagery.
Yet another leftist copycat, a man who appears never in his life to have questioned a single tenet of the First Church of Fudamentalist Progressivism, is Philip Pullman, author of the His Dark Materials trilogy (the Golden Compass, the Subtle Knife, and the Amber Spyglass) -- and the even darker (and insipider) material in the "Sally Lockhart" tetralogy of extreme feminism, Communism, and Flavor-Aid atheism, comprising the Ruby In the Smoke, the Shadow In the North, the Tiger In the Well, and the Tin Princess; it should have been titled the Tin Ear, for Pullman's preachy and excessive didacticism, paucity of imagination, and enough message-sending to qualify for a bulk discount from Western Union.
And no, I won't bother linking to any of these wretched rip-offs and bitter attacks on the writings of C.S. Lewis: In the trilogy, Pullman pompously attempts an all-atheist perversion of the Chronicles of Narnia that is about as persuasive as an all-stooges version of the Tempest. Pullman himself is about as believable as Richard Nixon with a watermelon-sized hangover. And this critique from me, a militant agnostic! ("I don't know whether there's a God, and neither do you, confound it!")
Contrary to the New True Levellers, when leftists are cursed with functioning brains and lashings of fairness and justice, you get... well, you get "Harrison Bergeron," among other examples. These socialists, Communists, and assorted reds are the anti-Progressivists -- Regressivists? -- and they carry a very precarious presence within their movements, being constantly in danger of denunciation, show trial, and exile to the Z-list party zone.
But for that very reason, such a free soul is the only kind of lefty worth cultivating.
July 13, 2012
He Stoops to Hunker
President Barack "Big Stick" Obama, America's Trillion-Dollar Taxman, is out of gas and running on vapors... in this case, the "vapors" induced in the press at the evidently terrifying thought that we might soon have a businessman lording over la Casa Blanca. Heaven forfend! All the president's men can do is hunker down and hope that something happens, or that something "sticks," to reverse the downward dynamic of the election.
In a desperate ave Diabolus, President B.O. attempts to turn Mitt Romney's most attractive qualification, his extraordinarily successful management of Bain Capital, into a disqualifation for public office. At the moment, the president's campaign labors to label the Republican candidate as -- wait for it -- a federal felon.
As Paul [Mirengoff] noted twice today, the Obama campaign has reached a new low by resuscitating its Bain-Capital-related smears of Mitt Romney. Picking up on a recycled story in the Boston Globe, the Obama campaign suggested in a call with reporters that Romney may be a felon; either that, or he is misleading the American people. [Emphasis added. -- DaH]
The Democrats’ smear is based largely on ignorance of securities law. In her phone call today, Obama staffer Stephanie Cutter cited SEC filings which listed Romney as a “controlling person” after 1999. If Romney was controlling Bain Capital, Cutter argued, then obviously he was responsible for Bain Capital’s investments after 1999 and has been lying about his relationship with the company. But being a “controlling person” doesn’t mean that you are running the company....
As the owner of Bain Capital from 1999 to 2002, Romney naturally was listed as a controlling person in Bain’s SEC filings. That has nothing to do with whether he played any operational role in the firm’s investments, which, by all accounts, he didn’t.
The "felony" part comes into play because Romney signed various Securities and Exchange Commission documents over the years between February, 1999, when he departed from Bain Capital in haste to rescue the Salt Lake City Olympics, to 2002, when the legal nonsense surrounding Romney's departure finally was resolved; since those statements are signed under oath, if Romney lied on them, that could be considered felonious behavior under some circumstances (and of course, it would be a federal rap, because the SEC is a federal agency).
But there isn't an echo of a ghost of a molecule of evidence that (a) Mitt Romney actually actively managed Bain or made investment decisions after he left in 1999, nor that (b) he lied about anything. In fact, it doesn't even make sense: Since Romney was a private person during those years, still intending to return to Bain (which he never did), he would have had no reason to lie anyway.
The One had no "Magic 8-Ball" to predict that a decade later, it would make a scintilla of difference whether he ceased managing his firm as soon as he headed out to the Great Salt Lake or a triplet of years later. What could he possibly gain in 1999, 2000, 2001, and 2002 from fibbing about this? He wasn't even elected governor of Massachusetts until November, 2002.
But there is a darker, more repugnant possibility here that appalls me, but which I am compelled to consider (which also appalls me). My inability to dismiss it from my musings sprouts from Obama's own pre-presidential electoral history; in particular, the fact that Obama won several contests by concocting ways to force his opponents off the ballot entirely.
And what better way, they may believe, to force Romney off the ballot, or at least cripple him so badly that Obama's reelection becomes a foregone conclusion, to persuade the American voters that they were on the verge of electing a "federal felon" to the presidency?
How far would the Obama campaign go in trying to emasculate the GOP nominee? Would they, for example, open a Justice-Department "investigation" of Romney's Bain-Capital statements? Repeatedly subpoena and interrogate Romney campaign officials -- "What did the governor know, and when did he know it, Mr. Rhoades?" -- to disrupt the campaign, douse it with the malodor of criminality, and incidentally wring details of every last campaign strategy out of them?
Would they dare go so far as to call a grand jury and indict the Republican nominee?
I think I would let out a whoop and do the Snoopy happy-dance if they did. Alas, while I think Obama and his campaign cronies are fools, I cannot bring myself to believe they're utter fools. And they would have to be, to think that arresting or indicting their opponent, like some African or South American banana republic, would have any effect other than to appall the electorate, enrage voters (even many Democrats), and finally cause them to rise up in a true popular front against the Big Stick.
Still, I find the possibility amusing; certainly no other president of my lifetime would have either the chutzpah or hubris to imagine he could get away with it... but I'm not 100% certain that the current occupier of 1600 Penn. Ave. doesn't: He has demonstrated an arrogance and narcissism never before seen at such exalted levels.
Call it the Case of the Injudicious Indictment, where Mitt Romney would play Perry Mason to Obama's bumbling Burger. It's not likely enough for me to call it a prediction, but it's worth keeping your eye to the ground for a heads up.
June 21, 2012
Our Pinocchio President
Yes, yes, Barack "Big Stick" Obama's latest futile attack ad, slamming Mitt Romney's tenure as Massachusetts governor and his time as CEO of Bain Capital, is nothing but a pack of lies, danged lies, and hysterics. But don't take my word for it: The fact-checker at the Washington Post gives it the coveted rating of "four Pinocchios." That's the worst level of "misleading, unfair and untrue" statements (WaPo's words) they give.
The Post defines the four possible ratings thus:
Some shading of the facts. Selective telling of the truth. Some omissions and exaggerations, but no outright falsehoods.
Significant omissions and/or exaggerations. Some factual error may be involved but not necessarily. A politician can create a false, misleading impression by playing with words and using legalistic language that means little to ordinary people.
Significant factual error and/or obvious contradictions.
All I'll say about this particular attack ad is -- does Big Stick want a 42 oz King sized Mello Yello with that?
If you want the details, go read the article; but there are bigger fish to drink here: This president is without any question the biggest big fat liar, traducer, and corrupter of our nation's youth ever to sit behind the desk in the Ovum Office. And that's up against some outstanding presidential competition, from "Vote Haggler" Quincy Adams, to "Teapot" Harding ("I know nussinkg, nussinkg!"), to "Deadvote" Johnson, to "All In the Family" Kennedy, to "Sinister" Nixon, to "Is-Is" Clinton.
But Barack Obama blows 'em all away with the sheer banality and senselessness of his crimes against honesty, and by the casual, offhand way he commits them. It's as if he truly never knows, from one falsity or villainy to the next, whether he is lying, embellishing, compositing, extorting, bribing, kow-towing, cowering, hallucinating, gibbering, sleeptalking, or -- on occasion as rare as a hygienic Occupier -- accidentally blurting out the truth, but at the worst possible moment.
He is a veritable treasure-trove of treachery, the pontiff of perfidy and prevarication. A man who, I suspect, believes that reality is literally created and recreated with every new claim. To ask Big Stick whether he told the real truth is like asking a dreamer whether he dreamt a real dream. Truth is, by Obamunist definition, whatever Obama most recently said.
It's a sobering thought, that the President of the United States perceives the world through the brain of a solipsist, or even, gold help us, a schizophrenic: Reality is infinitely malleable; as Robert Anton Wilson put it, "reality is what you can get away with."
...Which increasingly, for Barack H. Obama, is less and less that it used to be.
Or to quote that wonderful gospel song, God's Gonna Cut You Down:
Go and tell that midnight rider
Tell the rambler, the gambler, the back biter
Tell 'em that God's gonna cut 'em down
Tell 'em that God's gonna cut 'em down
June 11, 2012
How's the Economy? Minder Your Own Business!
Anybody remember the "minders" in Saddam Hussein's Iraq? They were government officials always standing just out of camera range during press interviews with ordinary Iraqis, observing hawklike everything was said shown. Any anti-Hussein or pro-democracy sentiment that popped up, the minders would immediately stop the interview and order the news team not to broadcast, write about, or otherwise relay that information (and generally "disappear" the interviewee); if the journalists refused to comply -- or if they pretended to comply and later broadcast it anyway -- that news agency was banned from reporting within Iraq.
But the most shameful aspect of the Iraqi minders was... news agencies agreed to those conditions and didn't even alert viewers or readers; the producers and talking heads were so greedy for access, they passively accepted Iraqi government censorship -- turning ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, the New York Times, the Washington Post, AP, Reuters, AFP, and hundreds of other broadcasters and newspapers into de facto mouthpieces for the Butcher of Baghdad, for the privilege of visiting Iraq to prance and preen and strut their celebrity before the world.
(The fledgling Fox News, to its astonishing credit -- and one maor reason its credibility and viewership grew exponentially during the late 1990s -- refused to cooperate with this fraud; it smuggled raw footage out of Iraq that the minders had banned and even managed to conduct interviews without any minders at all. For their courage, they were the first American news agency banned from Iraq. Eventually, nearly all of them were, but not until all the rest had convicted themselves of poltroonery, ignominy, and infamy.)
Well... it appears that Marx was slightly wrong when he opined that history repeats itself twice, first as tragedy, then as farce. In this case, the Obama administration skipped the tragedy stop entirely and went directly to the end-of-the-line farce:
The Labor Department has backed off a plan to force news agencies to use government-issued computers and other equipment to report on jobless reports and other key economic data, following a GOP-led House hearing this week, according to several published reports. [Actually, they just moved the start date back; so far as I can see, they still plan to do it. -- DaH]
Agency officials have said they want reporters who analyze, then write about economic reports inside their so-called “lock up” room to use U.S. computers, software and Internet lines so the government can further protect against such potential security breaches as hacking.
But the plan also resulted in cries about potential free-speech violations and the government now having computer access to news agencies.
I think I understand: The administration simply wants to "mind" what every economic reporter at the Labor Department writes -- just to make sure no secret data is leaked, of course; and also to ensure that these reporters don't "hack"... what, the Bureau of Labor Statistics databases?
Heavens, what's all the fuss? All that Barack "Big Stick" Obama and ultraliberal, unionista Labor Secretary Hilda Solis want is the ability to review reporters' stories before they're transmitted to the news agencies and make tiny changes... just to correct the record, of course. And to prevent sabotage, false reporting, and defamation of the government at such a crucial moment in the fierce urgency of now.
What could possibly go wrong?
"This proposal threatens the First Amendment," Bloomberg News Executive Editor Dan Moss said during a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing. "The government would literally open the reporters’ notebooks."
First Amendment, shmerst amendment; we all need to speak with one voice to avoid destructive partisanship. And destructive debate, contrarian contamination, and free-market folderol. If these reporters were patriotic Americans, why should they mind being restricted to using federal-government computers to write their stories? Why all the conspiracy mongering?
Sidebar: My wife Sachi works for the federal government. Her work computer is directly connected to the Department of Defense server.
So long as Sachi's computer is physically connected to the base intranet, the IT department -- or anyone up the chain working through the IT department -- can turn her computer on or off, read any or all of the files, modify any or all files, create and delete files, install or uninstall any programs, and in fact, can simply take control of the computer and do anything IT wants. "Sachi's" computer is actually the federal government's computer, and it can monitor, alter, or take control whenever it chooses, without even telling her. (Many times she has come back from a business trip and found files, folders, and even entire applications removed or replaced -- and all her passwords deactivated, until she laboriously resets them. That's life in Big Government.)
I am quite certain that the computers in the Labor Department's "lock up" room -- the computers that Obama and Solis would require reporters to use to write and transmit their stories -- are connected to the DoL server in exactly the same way that Sachi's computer is connected to the DoD server.
What could possibly go wrong?
I suggest that Big Stick Obama had better tread softly while trampling out freedom of the press (but he won't): He has already lost much of Big Labor (the Keystone pipeline, throwing Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett under the Wisconsin bus); the enviro-mental cases (treating Rio-2012 like it was just a street party, failing to implement carbon-trading or ban fracking, talking up nuclear power); the Center-Left (national-security leaking, destruction of our energy resources, foolhardy foreign policy); the anti-American, pro-radical-Islamist Left (failing to close Guantanamo Bay, continuing to fight the Iraq and Afghanistan wars -- however fecklessly -- and not giving Khalid Sheikh Mohammed a civilian trial); and independents (ultra-partisanship, race war, telling fairy tales about the American economy while flushing trillions of dollars down the sewer).
If the president loses what used to be called the mainstream media, who will be left to claim that Obama can cool the Earth, heal the sick, and order the tides in and out?
February 14, 2012
Which Is What We Always Suspected Anyway II
In our previous post on this topic, we noted the liberal contempt for decisions made by ordinary voters at the ballot box:
Democratic leaders say they will not allow a vote, arguing that a majority of the people should not be entrusted with deciding whether to protect a minority.
No, of course not; we should trust only Progressivist elitists to tell the rest of us how to vote.
Today we look at an even darker side of liberalism, the condescending rejection of decisions made by ordinary peasants in their private lives... including how they choose to raise their own children:
A preschooler at West Hoke Elementary School [in or near Raeford, North Carolina] ate three chicken nuggets for lunch Jan. 30 because a state employee told her the lunch her mother packed was not nutritious.
The girl’s turkey and cheese sandwich, banana, potato chips, and apple juice did not meet U.S. Department of Agriculture guidelines, according to the interpretation of the agent who was inspecting all lunch boxes in her More at Four classroom that day.
Perhaps the real problem was the "NO-BAMA" lunchbox itself... [Just a joke; for all I know, the toddler packed a brown bag that read "Don't blame me, I voted for Newt!"]
This incident goes far to answer, in the affirmative, two questions I have been asking for years:
To liberals -- Do you honestly believe not that "it takes a village" to raise a child, but that it actually takes a village government? That is, do you, Mr. and Ms. Progressivist, believe that if the State and the parent conflict about child rearing, the State should take precedence?
Even for your own kids? If not, then what is the principled reason why for others -- but not for you and your'n?
To conservatives who are strict constructionists on the Constitution -- Would you actually argue that state, county, and local governments can enact literally any law they choose, so long as it does not conflict with the state or federal Constitution? For example, can a state government adopt mandatory nutritional requirements for adults as well as children?
Or to be perfectly blunt about it, can a state require all residents to become vegetarians? Can it ban the sale, possession, and consumption of all animal products? If not, then what is the principled reason why it can't?
Because I must admit both suggestions stink of tyranny verging on totalitarianism; both, from Left and Right, seem to me (and all right-thinking people) to violate our most fundamental liberty and -- yes, I'll say the P-word -- privacy, where privacy is understood to mean "freedom from governmental intruding into our most intimate moments and that which makes us who we are."
Leftists always seem very comfortable with the idea that only experts can properly raise children. Parents are simply the vessels through which national mandates are executed; public officials stand permanently in loco parentis (in place of the parent), even when the parent wills otherwise, and even when the parent is physically present and taking care of the kid him- or herself.
(Not the liberal's own children, you understand; for their own kids, liberals prefer they be raised by an authority figure considerably closer to home than the government: The nanny!)
The syllogism is simple: On any important issue, goverment professionals, experts, and learned scholars know so much better than the mass of people making their own decisions based upon their own enlightened self-interest. No wonder the Left finds liberty and especially the free market incomprehensible: Capitalism is out of control! (Well, out of their control, at least.)
But I have also heard quite a few strict constructionists argue that the only rights the federal government must respect are those explicitly enumerated in the Constitution... and that even most of those are always in season to be picked off at close range by state, county, and local governments. Strict constructionists, for example, typically hotly deny that there is any such thing as an inviolate zone of privacy surrounding individuals and families, inside of which government must not intrude. There's no slightest aspect of daily life that cannot be held, controlled, prescribed, proscribed, or abolished, so long as the local politicos jump through the proper hoops, cross all the eyes and dot all the tees. That there's that "due process" that makes everything hunky and/or dory.
Conservatives agree that governments cannot manufacture a state religion, nor can they proscribe (or prescribe!) books, speeches, or letters. But many draw the line at actual speech -- the strictly construed word used in the amendment -- and deny that non-verbal forms of communication are protected.
Ergo, they proudly believe that governments, from the lowliest ward to the upper echelons of the United States Congress, can ban certain forms of music, or all music altogether; they can prohibit "barbaric" dances, such as the Lambada, Freak Dancing, or the Bunny Hop. The Secretary of Aesthetics can restrict all artworks to those made in accordance with the diktats of the Proletarian Cultural and Enlightenment Council of Progressivist Realism, ordering the entire content of the Smithsonian American Art Museum thrown onto the bonfire (shades of Don Quixote). With just compensation, of course, to the artists; mustn't run afoul of the Fifth!
Recipes are unprotected, of course; and so would be sartorial communication, unless the t-shirt sports actual words; all citizens could be restricted to bow ties, pantaloons, and Mao jackets, for all the judicial conservatives care.
On a more likely scenario -- that is, it actually happened -- they howl with outrage at, e.g., Lawrence v. Texas, a Supreme Court case that struck down all anti-sodomy laws (however defined) across the land; judicial conservatives recoil from any putative "privacy right" that Court invoked; the Right calls any form of privacy beyond what was written down 200 years ago a "made-up right" that had never existed until 1965 (Griswold v. Connecticut).
But think what we're talking about, what the strict constructionists would trample underfoot, if they only could: Those laws prescribed exactly what sexual acts consenting adults could legally engage in behind closed doors; and they gave the police authority to investigate such possible crimes by peeking through windows and interviewing residents as to the sexual practices of their friends.
And lest you think anti-sodomy laws were all right because "homosexuality is an abomination," understand this: Those same "anti-sodomy laws" that banned gay sex also typically banned husband and wife from engaging in oral sex, or anything other than the strict missionary position. And the original Court decision that first enunciated a "right to privacy," Griswold, made illegal the purchase or use of contraceptives even by a husband and wife.
Those state and local sex police weren't just going after "weirdos;" they aimed to stop everything that ran afoul of the parochial tastes of a few relatively small sects of the hyper-religious.
Is oral sex or mutual masturbation also an abomination? How about sex with a condom -- straight to Hell? Perhaps someone could cite me the biblical chapter and verse; I don't recall seeing it. Good Lord, is there no zone of protection around even the most intimate acts of individuals and families? Do judicial conservatives truly believe that the police may pry everywhere and into everything, so long as the legislature properly passed a law?
[No, the saga of Onan the Barbarian had nothing to do with masturbation, mutual or otherwise; a law passed according to Genesis chapter 38 would have to make coitus interruptus illegal. Anybody eager to push for that?]
I argue rather that government itself has only limited powers, not because of what the Constitutional Convention of 1787 wrote, but because our right to liberty, freedom, and yes, privacy is fundamental, granted by God or by the innate sovereignty of Man, choose your poison. Any government that violates that right is illegitimate, ripe for us, in Jefferson's words, "to alter or to abolish it." Even if such a terrible, tyrannical law was passed using the proper forms and after a vote of 50% + 1.
All right, back to the lesser but more inexplicable point. What on earth is wrong with a turkwich, fruit, chips, and juice? And where did this school lunch inspector earn his MD?
The Division of Child Development and Early Education at the Department of Health and Human Services requires all lunches served in pre-kindergarten programs -- including in-home day care centers -- to meet USDA guidelines. That means lunches must consist of one serving of meat, one serving of milk, one serving of grain, and two servings of fruit or vegetables, even if the lunches are brought from home.
So this all comes from the feds! The Orwellian named Division of Child Development and Early Education at HHS -- Kathleen Sibelius again, she who promulgated the order requiring all employers, regardless of religious belief, to offer free contraception, sterilization, and abortifacients to all employees -- has determined that, since all kids are identical -- cogs in a machine -- they all have identical nutritional needs. And los federales will jolly well ensure that children eat what Sibelius and Co-President Michelle "Evita" Obama tell them to eat, and without insolent suggestions from mere, untrained, inexpert parents.
But what if the child is like me, with a hyperefficient digestive system? Demanding she eat a full "serving," whatever that is, could be far too much food for her, leading to obesity. (If one branch of government ordered the kid to eat more than she needs, then surely the next branch of government would try to prosecute the parents for overfeeding their kids!)
Or what if she happened to be allergic to something served at the school cafeteria. Did the lunchbox inspector have the girl's medical records in hand when he issued his decree that she throw away her mother's carefully selected lunch and instead cast her prandial fate to the mighty wind of the school lunch "More at Four" program, under orders by the Department of Health and Human Services, by direction of the Marquis de Sibelius?
No, of course not. But why should he? He is an "expert," by virtue of being employed by the government (and paid by unwilling subjects).
For some unknown reason, every liberal is an expert; each seems to believe that he is the smartest guy in every room. I don't know how they stand each other.
(Do they have call and response sessions? Progressivist catechism class? Do they have regular head-cutting contests over who is the most divorced from reality? I can picture the ritual -- arrogant declamations at ten paces!)
...Which is what we always suspected anyway, right?
Just remember, as Brad Linaweaver, friend and worthy co-conspirator in Big Lizards, is wont to say, "It takes a village idiot." Alas, "village idiot" appears to be a popular stepping stone on the career path to true political power.
February 13, 2012
Which Is What We Always Suspected Anyway
Ahem. The New Jersey Senate just voted to approve same-sex marriage. If the General Assembly concurs, as expected, the bill will be sent to Republican Gov. Chris Christie, who will promptly veto it. (More than likely, the veto will be upheld; see below.)
But here's the fascinating -- and very revealing -- part of this Kabuki dance: Christie won't sign the bill because he believes that's a momentous enough change that the citizens of New Jersey themselves should be the ones to decide, not a partisan, Progressivist, Democrat-dominated legislature:
Christie last month said he'd veto the legislation if it passed. Christie said that such a fundamental change should be up to a vote of the people, and he has called for a referendum on the issue.
And the money quote:
Democratic leaders say they will not allow a vote, arguing that a majority of the people should not be entrusted with deciding whether to protect a minority.
Well heck, if the Garden
Variety State government disapproves of the people, why doesn't it just dissolve them and elect a new people?
The New Jersey Senate currently comprises 24 Democrats and 16 Republicans; a two-thirds vote is required to override the veto, which means they need 27 votes. The vote for same-sex marriage was 24 to 16, but two of those 16 nay votes were Democrats; thus, if the two strays are bullied into changing to yea, the anti-traditional-marriage mob would have 26 votes -- still one shy of the two-thirds requirement.
In the General Assembly, there are 47 Democrats and 31 Republicans, with two vacancies that will be filled either by special election or by the leaders of the party that controlled the seat before it became vacant. Thus, the magic number to override Christie's expected veto (assuming the assembly passes the bill) is 54. The assembly needs at least five Republicans to override the veto, assuming every Democrat votes yea and that the two vacancies are also filled by Democrats. (If the veto override occurs before the vacancies are filled, override would require 52 votes; so either way, the haters of traditional marriage need at least five Republicans.)
I don't believe it will happen this session, which ends in January 2014; the hard Left is short in both houses. Ergo, the veto override will fail, and the state and nation will have a reprieve -- followed by a new election in 2013 that might shake up the party division, one way or the other.
But what I most wanted to highlight was the cavalier, dismissive, even aggressively contemptuous rejection by the Democrats of any role whatsoever for the peons of New Jersey to decide the state's marriage laws for themselves. One could hardly ask for a more brazen assertion that the divine (or infernal) right of government of the leftist elite, by the leftist elite, and for the leftist elite, shall not perish from Jersey.
December 5, 2011
Tax Takes a Holiday - Chicago Style
President Barack H. Obama believes that continuing the payroll tax cut is vital for the American economy:
"My message to the Congress is this: keep your word to the American people and don’t raise taxes on them right now," Obama said. "Now is not the time to step on the brakes. Now is the time to step on the gas. Now is the time to keep growing the economy, to keep creating jobs, to keep giving working Americans the boost that they need...."
Obama said that renewing the payroll tax cut is “important for the economy as a whole” because it will spur spending and hiring and help families pay their bills. But he noted that virtually every Senate Republican voted against his proposal to expand the payroll tax cuts, which he said would have given a typical working family a cut of about $1,500 next year.
...But only if it's "paid for" by enacting a gargantuan tax increase to punish successful people:
"Americans overwhelmingly support our proposal to ask millionaires and billionaires to pay their fair share to help this country thrive," said Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.), announcing that the new measure would be introduced by its sponsor, Sen. Robert P. Casey Jr. (D-Pa.). "Republicans in Congress dismiss it at their peril."
Got it: Now is not the time to raise taxes on Americans; now is the time to raise taxes on millionaires, who either aren't "American" -- or aren't "people." (We also learn that in Obamunism, "fair share" means paying exactly the same as what other people are paying, except a whole lot more.)
Just a thought, but if the payroll tax holiday is truly that urgent, has anybody considered paying for it by, you know, cutting spending? Oops, never mind; I'm embarassed I even asked. Forget I said anything.
Back to the Folies Obamère:
"Now, I know many Republicans have sworn an oath never to raise taxes as long as they live," he said. "How can it be the only time there’s a catch is when it comes to raising taxes on middle-class families? How can you fight tooth and nail to protect high-end tax breaks for the wealthiest Americans and yet barely lift a finger to prevent taxes going up for 160 million Americans who really need the help? It doesn’t make sense."
But the inclusion of the tax on millionaires probably kills any chance for the new bill’s passage and is instead a sign that both parties are still working to score political points on the issue....
Still, Senate Democrats believe they have significant leverage on the issue.
They think the tax cut for workers is widely popular, as is their idea to pay for it with a surtax on millionaires. Already, one Republican, Maine Sen. Susan Collins, voted with 50 Democrats last week to extend the tax cut. Democrats think more might come along rather than risk repeatedly voting against a tax cut.
Gangster government at its most ruthless; it's "the Chicago Way." Or as Chicago's Gale Cincotta -- founder of National People's Action and chief radical architect of Jimmy Carter's Community Reinvestment Act of 1977 -- put it, prefiguring and perfectly encapsulating the essence of Obamunism: "We want it. They've got it. Let's go get it!"
November 8, 2011
Mr. Slick Goes to Washington - Again?
Bill Clinton believes that "a former two-term president should be able to run again after having taken some time off" -- but he promises he's not talking about himself. In fact, he will happily raise his hand and swear under oath that he did not have that two-term president, Bill Clinton, in mind:
"I've always thought that should be the rule," he told MSNBC's Joe Scarborough. "I think as a practical matter, you couldn't apply it to anyone who has already served, but going forward, I personally believe that should be the rule."
"People are living longer, people are developing greater capacities, so I've always thought that should be the rule, not to affect me or anyone that's served, but going forward," he added.
Obscure, Mr. C.
Does anybody really believe he's saying this entirely altruistically, with not an inkling of self indulgence in mind? Nevertheless, I find it hard to imagine that such a constitutional amendment (which is what it would take) would allow for two-termers to serve a third time (after "some time off") -- but would explicitly exclude anyone whose two terms were already in the bag: "-- but not these guys!"
Which brings to mind this Calliopean calamity, which sprang effortlessly to my fingers, like Obama bursting from the brow of Seuss:
Bored in retirement,
Starting to squirm;
Finds his salvation as
Thinks it hilarious:
"I shall re-term!"
July 31, 2011
How I Accidentally Joined the "Far-Right Wing" of the Republican Party...
...and found inner-ear[mark] balance
This story is simply, as Spencer Tracy might say, "cherce." We have a new definition of the phrase "far-right wing" of which I was previously unaware:
Even by House standards, the debate was rowdy and sharp-edged, as lawmakers in both parties hooted and shouted down their colleagues across the aisle. Republicans booed Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), who accused Boehner of going “to the dark side” when he rewrote his debt-limit bill to add required passage of a balanced budget amendment -- a change designed to appeal to his far-right wing.
Pelosi turned toward her GOP colleagues and said it again with emphasis. “Let me repeat,” she said, “he chose to go to the dark side.”
My! I had no idea that I was a far-right winger; but I must confess to the infamous crime of believing the government should be forced to live within its means, by a balanced-budget constitutional amendment, if that's what it takes. I'm shocked, shocked to discover into what a disreputable bucket that seemingly obvious opinion plops me.
Still, I must be the very first anarcho-libertarian in history to simultaneously be a far-right conservative; so that's something, anyways. Kudos to the WaPo for promptly reporting this update in my political status; should I expect a new membership card?
July 19, 2011
In response to the No Child Left Behind policy of George W. Bush, in which schools, administrators, and even teachers can be held accountable for incompetent "teaching" that in fact does leave children behind, hundreds, perhaps thousands of teachers and other school functionaries have decided to raise standardized test grades the old-fashioned way: by cheating:
Those sneaky students in the back of the classroom aren’t the only cheaters.
Teachers and school leaders are getting in on the scams by boosting test scores not through better instruction, but by erasing wrong answers, replacing them with the right ones and hoodwinking parents in the process.
Funnily enough, the cities where cheating runs utterly rampant are by and large Democrat occupied territory: Atlanta, Baltimore, Philadelphia, and Washington D.C. Except for Houston, which is a "divided city," they have all long been run by Democrats; and even Houston has a Democratic mayor -- and the last Republican mayor of that city left office nearly thirty years ago.
Democrats are likewise enormously over-represtented among teachers and "educators," as well. Given the Democratic culture of corruption and lawlessness, I find myself unsurprised that teachers, faced with evidence of their own failure to educate, respond not by improving their teaching skills but by honing their talents for trickery, dishonesty, fraud, and criminality; seducing their students to do the same; and then reaching out to powerful Democrats to deep six such few standards as still exist in this age of Obama.
Evidently, some see not the cheater but "the system," standardized testing itself, as the culprit:
Under No Child Left Behind guidelines, schools can be labeled “failing” if student test scores don’t meet state benchmarks. [Quelle surprise! -- DaH] Poor results are embarrassing for teachers and often cost principals, superintendents and school board members their jobs. By contrast, high scores on reading and math tests equal praise for those in charge.
In the face of such pressure, teachers and administrators sometimes go with their “natural reaction,” said Robert Schaeffer, public education director of the National Center for Fair and Open Testing.
“The teachers and principals who changed test scores did something unethical and probably illegal, [but they were] caught between a rock and a hard place,” he said. “We’ve created a climate that corrupted the educational process. The sole goal of education … became boosting scores by any means necessary.”
Yes, I'm sure we've all noticed in our own lives an utterly resistable compulsion to resort to dishonesty and criminality whenever we're not doing well at a task. Irresistable!
What's galling is that cheating teachers and administrators, and their Democratic political enablers, have redefined the whole point of standardized testing as some terrible, unanticipated flaw in standardized testing: If "student test scores don't meet state benchmarks," isn't that the very definition of a failing school? Students in "failing" schools clearly aren't learning; because if they were, they would do reasonably well on the standardized tests.
Wait, perhaps standardization is itself stultifying; why not simply allow teachers, who are closest to the students, to evaluate their performance via grading and just work with that?
But there is a flaw in the logic here: The whole original point of standardized testing was to correct for the previous form of teacher and administrator cheating: the routine promotion of students, regardless of their performance, and the hallucinatory grade inflation that invariably accompanied guaranteed promotion. In an effort to make themselves and their schools look good, and to get more of their kids into upper-tier universities, teachers gave much higher grades than the students had earned. Although on paper they were well prepared for college, in reality, they were utterly at sea from Day 1 and frequently dropped or failed out of university.
When I was a teaching assistant (TA) at U.C. Santa Cruz, in the math department, I was utterly appalled by the huge number of students who hadn't the faintest idea what a mathematical proof was, how to construct one, or even what one looked like -- and I'm talking about a calculus class for math or science majors, not "Math for Poets"! I had to spend the first few weeks just teaching these incoming freshmen the most basic elements of a mathematical proof, which they were supposed to have mastered before even being admitted to a math or hard-science major at any campus of the University of California.
In theory, they all had that skill; in their own minds, they were all learned in mathematical proofs; but in practice, perhaps a third of them were reasonably competent. The other two thirds had been shanked by their "compassionate" teachers.
To combat this kind of scholastic cheating -- teachers and principals cheating their students out of the education they thought they were getting -- state boards of education set up standardized testing and implemented the "No Child Left Behind" policy; which was flawed, to be sure, but was at least a step forward, not backward. If schools that are not actually teaching get labeled as "failed" schools, that is a feature, the main feature of the program -- not a bug!
Does anybody really believe that a teacher willing to erase wrong answers and write in the correct ones (assuming he or she knows them) would scruple merely to inflate a few grades for the same motivation? Wouldn't the same cheating teachers of today cheat just as much if working under a hypothetical, grade-only standard?
I wonder how many of the apologists for incompetent teaching were themselves taught by incompetent teachers, and perhaps became incompetent teachers in turn. How much opposition to standardized testing is nothing more than self interest and self defense?
I have argued for many years that the chief educational reform we need, the one that would do the most good, is not reducing classroom size; or implementing this or that theoretical, egghead pedagogy; or funneling ever more money into the insatiable maw of government schools; or Lord help us, handing yet more power to the teachers unions. None of the above. The most important reform is to root out the lousy, incompetent teachers from the classrooms, even if you have to use gunpowder, treason, and plot.
My gut feeling is that nationwide, at least twenty percent of K-12 teachers are so incompetent they should be fired immediately and perhaps sent to remedial education camps in a perhaps futile attempt to fill their own educational lacunae. But in some school districts, like the Los Angeles Unified, the incompetency rate is probably closer to 60% (based on personal experience as a child).
It's hardly a wonder that teachers unions and Democratic machine politics so often work foot in glove; it's a match made... well, not in heaven, perhaps, but a mating nonetheless.
July 4, 2011
News of Obama's Death Is Greatly Exaggerated...
...News of the depths to which leftist hacks will sink to defame their ideological opponents is greatly underestimated
Today, a mob of left-leaning computer hackers hacked into the Twitter account of Fox News to issue false proclamations that President Barack H. Obama had been assassinated in Iowa.
(The New York Times headline actually says the Twitter account was "apparently hacked," implying there's some doubt. Say, maybe Fox News really did think Obama was dead. Yeah, yeah, that's the ticket! Why didn't I think of that earlier?)
The group that apparently claimed credit, and which apparently appears to have actually apparently committed the apparent crime, apparently calls itself Script Kiddies; here is their explanation of why they did it:
The Script Kiddies, Mr. Peck said, had posted to its own Twitter account that it had hacked Fox News’ political Twitter account and wanted to speak to The Huffington Post, supplying an address at the instant-messaging service AIM. Mr. Peck, 23, said he figured he would try the address as well....
According to the instant-message record, which Mr. Peck provided to the New York Times, the person with whom he communicated at Script Kiddies said that Fox News “was selected because we figured their security would be just as much of a joke as their reporting.”
In the meanwhile, despite the fact that it was Twitter.com, not FoxNews.com, that was hacked, we learn that:
The false Twitter posts about Mr. Obama seemed even more provocative because Fox News is widely perceived to be a voice of opposition to the Obama administration. On Monday, thousands of people on Twitter poked fun at the incident and at Fox News by pretending to guess Fox’s Twitter passwords.
The implication by those "thousands of people" being that Fox News is so stupid, that their Twitter password must be something like "rightwing" or "paulrevere," or even "password." Smug, condescending superiority so becomes the Left that we didn't even need the Times' recounting to know how that side of the dial would react.
Considering how poor Twitter's security appears to be, however, I suspect the breach lies with those twits, not the newsroom.
So once again, the angry, populist, anti-globalist, "information wants to be free" mob resorts to criminal behavior to libel Fox News; and the New York Times dutifully slurps it up spits it at the world. Almost as if it were -- choreographed. (Apparently!)
America's newspaper of record -- "All the news we see fit to print!" -- doesn't bother mentioning the obvious political affiliation of the Fox News hating, HuffPo loving hackers until page 2 of the story. Coincidence! And for weeks now, we'll be hearing stories about how "Faux News" was so stupid and vicious that they thought/hoped that the president had been killed... as though Fox News itself had actually tweeted those twitty tweets.
After a while, that spurious and absurd defamation will enter the universal Democratic Zeitgeist. You know the one I mean, where Sarah Palan twanged that she could "see Russia from her house;" and where the Bush administration response to Hurricane Katrina was "the worst in American history;" and Dan Quayle thought people spoke "Latin" in Latin America and that there were "people" on Mars; and Reagan was an illiterate "puppet;" and "racist Republicans" implemented the Jim Crow laws; and FDR "saved us" from the Great Depression -- which was caused by the "unbridled Capitalism" of Herbert Hoover.
To quote Mythbusters' Adam Savage in a completely different context, one great motto of the Left is, "I reject your reality and substitute my own!" But the contemporary liberal has yet another to which he unfailingly holds: "If the electorate is against you, pound on the courts; if the courts are against you, pound on the electorate; if both are against you -- pound on Fox News!"
And all of the time lately, it seems they're pounding on Fox News. Draw your own conclusion.
June 30, 2011
Daughters of the UnAmerican Revolution
Here's a nugget to gnaw on. Buried at the end of Attorney General Eric Holder's press statement on the long-running investigations of the "enhanced interrogation" of sundry terrorists held in Guantanamo Bay and other facilities, "rendited" to other countries for more enhanced interrogation, or otherwise pushed, filed, stamped, indexed, briefed, debriefed, or numbered, is this casual, jaw-dropping announcement:
"[DoJ Prosecutor John] Durham and his team reviewed a tremendous volume of information pertaining to the detainees. That review included both information and matters that had never previously been examined by the department. Mr. Durham has advised me of the results of his investigation, and I have accepted his recommendation to conduct a full criminal investigation regarding the death in custody of two individuals. Those investigations are ongoing," Holder said. "The Department has determined that an expanded criminal investigation of the remaining matters is not warranted."
The two cases remaining are presumed to be the deaths of Gul Rahman and Manadel al-Jamadi; they're only two homicide investigations studied by Durham, which does tend to narrow the field of possibilities:
Holder did not identify the two death cases. But former and current U.S. officials who requested anonymity to discuss an ongoing investigation said Durham was looking at the deaths of Gul Rahman and Manadel al-Jamadi.
Rahman died in the early hours of Nov. 20, 2002 after being shackled to a cold cement wall in a secret CIA prison in northern Kabul, Afghanistan, known as the Salt Pit. He was suspected of links to the terrorist group al-Qaida.
Al-Jamadi died in 2003 at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. The death has been known to the public for years and a military autopsy declared al-Jamadi's death a homicide.
Since neither of these two remaining cases involves a detainee subjected to waterboarding, nor rendited to a foreign country for interrogation, nor interrogated after 2003, nor interrogated in the Guantanamo Bay Detention Facility and subjected to stress positions, the belly slap, caterpillaring, or the attention grab -- then clearly the Justice Department under Holder and his boss, President Barack H. Obama, has come to the conclusion that none of these horrific and unfathomable methods of enhanced interrogation constituted "torture," "war crimes," or "crimes agianst the human race," as scores of elected Democrats and hysterical liberals have bellowed for the last decade.
Mighty nice of you to tell us, guys.
So what about the two deaths? Aren't they proof positive of the previous administration's complicity in ghastly and gruesome depredations, denial of basic human rights, and of course murder under color of authority? Surely that counts as a war crime!
Nope; not even close. First of all, the George W. Bush administration defended neither of the two deaths; in fact, both were investigated as possible homicides by the Bush administration. The Army classified one as a homicide in 2004, while the CIA was unable to determine in the other case whether the detainee death was due to criminal neglect or the stupidity of an inexperienced agent.
Second, the plain facts of each of the two deaths make plain that they did not result from either Bush-administration policy or turning a blind eye to rogue agents:
Gul Rahman, alias Abdul Manan, was a known jihadi and bodyguard to the notorious Afghan warlord Gulbuddin Hekmatyar. Rahman was violent and uncooperative after being captured in Pakistan. When he was transferred to the Salt Pit prison in Kabul (a former factory made of brick), he became even more violent and uncooperative. Following a fruitless interrogation, he was left shackled in a cell overnight; the temperature dropped to 36°, and he was found dead the next morning. An autopsy revealed he died of hypothermia.
The CIA launched numerous investigations, finally concluding that they could not determine whether the death was due to intentional abuse or plain inexperience on the part of the CIA interrogator in charge; the agent interrogator and the station chief in charge of the Salt Pit requested guidance during the interrogation, but Langley never responded. Everybody agrees -- and has agreed since 2002 -- that Rahman died because of his treatment in the Afghan prison; what they can't determine is whether that treatment rises to the point of criminality (presumably what Durham will now attempt to decide).
But certainly there was never any attempt by the Bush administration, the CIA, or the military to order, cover up, conceal, or defend what happened in the Salt Pit. In fact, the death led to a wholesale revamping of the CIA's interrogation procedures and techniques, under Bush's first Director of Central Intelligence, George Tenet, to prevent future such deaths. (My source for this summary of the fate of Gul Rahman is that right-wing propaganda mill, the Hufflepuffington Post.)
Manadel al-Jamadi was beaten to death, his injuries sustained either during interrogation by a CIA agent and a contractor or else by the U.S. Navy Seals who captured him. He died in Abu Ghraib during its period of lawlessness under Army Brigadier Gen. Janis Karpinski, who was subsequently removed from command and demoted to colonel. The Army prosecuted numerous military and civilian personnel for the abuses at Abu Ghraib, and they classified the al-Jamadi death as a homicide in 2004.
In the absence of any shred of evidence that the previous administration orchestrated, defended, or condoned the deaths, or through inaction allowed them to continue, there simply is no way to hold the president responsible for criminal or negligent actions committed by field agents against policy, particularly since both incidents resulted in extensive changes to policy to prevent it happening again (successfully prevented, I should add).
So it appears that in addition to finally admitting that the "enhanced interrogation techniques" authorized by the Bush administration were neither torture nor war crimes nor crimes against nature and nature's god, Holder and Obama must now be prepared to admit that not even the two deaths themselves constituted any of the above, committed by any of the following:
- President George W. Bush
- Vice President Dick Cheney
- Director of Central Intelligence George Tenet
- Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld
- National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice
- Attorney General John Ashcroft
- Assistant Attorney General in charge of the Office of Legal Counsel Jay Bybee
- Member of the Office of Legal Counsel John Yoo (who, one presumes, need no longer fear being extradited by President B.O. to Spain to be tried as a torturer, for the high crime of having clarified current U.S. law);
- Or even the notorious reputed Republican Karl Rove (who, one presumes, need no longer fear being frog-marched anywhere, for the high crime of being Karl Rove).
Rather, it appears that some bad actors took advantage of the frog of war to commit heinous crimes, and/or inexperienced incompetents made stupid mistakes. A revelation!
Thus it seems that after nearly ten years of increasingly bizarre and wild-eyed accusations of heresy, perfidy, villainy, and mopery with intent to gawk emanating from the penumbra of the Democratic Party, the Emily Litellas of the Left now clarify their position to... "Never mind!"
But at least the Left had a solid decade in which to savagely assail the United States of America as the worst terrorist state on the globe, to destroy our standing among our allies, and give aid and comfort to the enemy; so it wasn't a total loss!
June 7, 2011
Green Tea for the Gelded State
The California Republican Party totally collapsed some time ago -- possibly when "Republican" Matt Fong ran for the U.S. Senate in 1998 against incumbent Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Lackwit, 95%). Fong was dogged throughout the campaign by repeated accusations that the only reason he won his primary (by a whisker) against Darryl Issa -- indeed, the only reason he was even considered a viable candidate -- was that voters held fond memories of his mother, March Fong Eu, who served as California Secretary of State for twenty years... as a Democrat.
He finally deigned to respond to the charge via a campaign ad -- in which his mother appeared and told voters that her son was a good boy! (That's a paraphrase; I don't have the text of the advert.) He lost to Boxer by a 10-point landslide; surprise, surprise on the Jungle Riverboat Cruise tonight.
Since then, the aptly named CRP has been a state and national humiliation that in the Tokugawa Shogunate would have forced numerous officials to cut their stomachs. When I telephoned CRP in 2008 to ask which Republican was running against my Democratic U.S. Representative -- since I hadn't seen any sign of a campaign -- the headquarters of the California Republican Party had no idea; indeed, they didn't even know who the incumbent was in that district.
It's gone downhill since then. It's hardly a shocker that California was perhaps the only state in 2010 to take a hard turn to the left; every statewide office, from top to bottom, is now held by a Democrat; and Democrats control the Assembly and state Senate by margins of 52-28 and 25-15 -- in both cases just two seats short of a 2/3rds majority, which would allow Democrats to pass a budget and spending bills without any Republican votes whatsoever.
As you might expect, I'm pretty desperate for a voter turnaround here in the formerly Golden State. Since turning to CRP is about as useful as a vasectomy for Barney Frank, I'm thinking more like California tea parties targeting a bunch of seats and getting their own kind nominated. (If they do, I'm sure that CRP will immediately begin campaigning for the Democrats; fortunately, that could only help the tea parties.)
But we need an issue. I doubt the economic crisis will work any better in 2012 than it did last year; if looming fiscal obliteration (especially in this state!) of magnitude 10 wasn't enough to persuade voters to turn to the GOP, would jacking it up to 11 make the slightest difference?
But last week, the state legislature gave us a golden gift for the Ungoldly State:
The California state Senate voted 28-8 Wednesday to exempt itself from the pointless gun-control laws that apply to the rest of the populace. Legislators apparently think they alone are worthy to pack heat on the streets for personal protection, and the masses ought to wait until the police arrive.
This is just one of many bills Golden State politicians used this legislative session to set themselves apart from the little people, the ones who pay their inflated salaries. Annual compensation for legislators averages about $140,000, not counting luxurious perks such as taxpayer-funded cars and free gasoline. By comparison, the average Californian earns $50,000 a year, and the unemployment rate is 11.9 percent - far above the national average. Exact salaries for state assemblymen and senators are obscured by the use of a “per diem” payment scheme that shelters a significant chunk of income from taxation.
Well! That certain puts us in our place, doesn't it? (Ironically, Matt Fong died that very same day of skin cancer.)
There you go: If fiscal responsibility won't yank voters' cranks, how about the politics of legis envy? If the California tea parties will just focus like a Marine-Corps sniper on the toxic ooze that infests the Democratic legislature, then run tea-party candidates on the platform of "no more corrupt than a typical used-car salesman," the contrast of slight shadiness vs. utter moral decay and hubristic arrogance will be so patent, we might pick up eight to ten seats in the Assembly and at least four or five in the state Senate.
Desperate times call for desperate measures; and the times they are a-desperate:
Left coast politicians lack all shame regarding their self-enrichment at public expense. Even though their outrageous conduct has sunk a once-prosperous state $10 billion in debt, the public seems not to care. In November, voters recycled Jerry Brown as governor even though Gov. Moonbeam’s disastrous tenure during the 1970s enabled the compensation packages for a unionized public sector that are busting the budget today. When California finally goes bankrupt, voters need only look in the mirror when wondering who deserves the blame.
Not just voters, but the limp-wristed, apathetic tea partiers who didn't run robust campaigns. I think when you spread the guilt around, it's good for everybody in the electorate.
Note that the vote to exempt state legislators from all gun restrictions was 28-8; that means that a minimum of seven GOP members (47%) at least abstained from the vote; and at least three actually voted aye. But this is no barrier to the tea-party drive anti-corruption campaign, as step number one is to defeat corrupt RINO incumbents in the primary. So we acknowledge that many incumbent Republicans are corrupt -- but demonstrate that the Democrats are worse by twelve parsecs.
All right, California tea partiers; let's throw it out on the stoop and see if anyone salutes. At least, for God's sake, it gives us something to campaign on.
March 31, 2011
History Repeatedly Repeats Itself...
...The second and subsequent times as increasingly unfunny farce:
Justice Department attorneys did not commit professional misconduct or exercise poor judgment in their handling of a voter-intimidation case against the New Black Panther Party by dismissing three defendants in the case, says the department’s Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR).
In a letter this week, the OPR said its seven-month inquiry “found no evidence” that the decision to dismiss the case against the New Black Panther Party and two of its members was “predicated on political considerations.”
So the utterly untarnished and consistently credible Justice Department, after dismissing a civil-rights complaint against the Black Panthers that the former had already won in court, thoroughly investigates itself -- and lo!, discovers itself to be clean as a baby's behind. Who could possibly argue with that?
Yet this spotless self-report gives me the repeated opportunity to quote the late, great Robert Anton Wilson (channeling Lemuel Gulliver), here for the eleventy-second time:
(From "The Persecution and Assassination of the Parapsychologists as Performed by the Inmates of the American Association for the Advancement of Science under the Direction of the Amazing Randi;" p. 85, Right Where You Are Sitting Now, ©1982, And/Or Press, Inc. -- first printing.)
It's a thing of wonder to have an administration so devoid of corruption, as innocent as Caesar's newborn wife, that every department, agency, and committee can investigate itself with complete credibility. Bully for Obamunism!
February 19, 2011
Buried in the midst of the wave of cutting and defunding finally coming from House Republicans was a squib you might not have seen:
Republicans successfully added an amendment to the continuing resolution that would leave President Barack Obama’s senior advisers on policy issues including health care, energy and others out of a job.
Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.) offered the amendment that blocks funding for various policy advisers to combat what he called “a very disturbing proliferation of czars” under Obama.
“These unappointed, unaccountable people who are literally running a shadow government, heading up these little fiefdoms that nobody can really seem to identify where they are or what they’re doing,” Scalise said Thursday. “But we do know that they’re wielding vast amounts of power.”
In particular, nine named positions are defunded in Scalise's successful scrubbing of the Continuing Resolution to fund the federal government for the rest of fiscal year 2011:
- Auto industry manufacturing policy czar
- Climate-change special-envoy czar
- Energy and climate czar
- FCC diversity czar
- Green jobs czar
- Guantanamo Bay Detention Facility closure czar
- Health-care czar
- TARP executive-compensation oversight czar
- Urban affairs czar
But Scalise promises more cuts to come:
“This is the first round,” said Scalise, who knows his amendment faces a tough battle in the Democratic-controlled Senate. “I think we sent a strong message last night. The fact that it was such an overwhelming, bipartisan vote tells not only the president, but the Senate, that we’re serious about this.
I have been as disturbed by the rash of czars, czarinas, and czardines appointed by President Barack H. Obama for the sole and radical purpose of bypassing congressional oversight as I have of the madcap spending and attempts to regulate all aspects of human life in America.
In fact, these very czars have been the vanguard of the "transformative" revolution of Obamunism:
- Outgoing Energy and Climate Czarina Carol Browner attempted to implement "cap and tax" by stealth regulation after Congress -- the massively Democratic Congress of last year -- refused to pass it.
- Former energy czar Van Jones praised Communism, supported convicted cop-killer Mumia Abu-Jamal, and may (or may not) have signed a petition suggesting that the Bush administration was behind the 9/11 attacks (Jones denies it).
- According to the Newsmax piece, Mark Lloyd, the FCC diversity czar, "cites author and radical organizer Saul Alinsky as a source of inspiration, and has praised Venezuela President Hugo Chavez for his 'incredible' attainment of a 'democratic revolution.' He favors re-implementation of the Fairness Doctrine through what is known as local-content restrictions, and has called Thomas Jefferson’s maxim 'That government is best which governs least' an 'outdated canard.'"
I think you get the picture. The policy of appointing "czars," answerable only to Obama himself, to circumvent the United States Constitution is literally unAmerican; it is an affront to the liberty protected by what is supposed to be a limited government of checks and balances (another "outdated canard," I suppose). I say good riddence to bad rubbish.
January 9, 2011
And the Home of the Depraved
I apologize that I have nothing really original to say about the shooting yesterday, nor about the (more significant and illuminating) breath-dropping rush by Democrats not to let a random act of mass murder go to waste. But I feel an inner need to say something, for heaven's sake.
The following is adapted from an e-mail I just sent a friend. It perfectly sums up my reaction...
Do you find it queer that less than twenty-four hours after a certified nutjob, with no coherent political philosophy -- though if anything, a while back, when he was less insane, people who knew Jared Loughner said he was a leftist -- shot and killed a conservative federal judge (who Obama will doubtless replace with an ultra-liberal), a nine year old girl, and four other people, and shot and wounded a Blue Dog Democrat member of the House... that the American Left has united to name the real culprit -- Sarah Palin?
Along with Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh, of course.
And is it bizarre that the same finger-pointers have unwisely admitted in an interview that they plan, as a political tactic to revitalize their flagging ideology (rather, to drag the ideology of Americanism down to their level), to blame the Tea Parties, the same way Bill Clinton successfully blamed conservatives like Limbaugh and Newt Gingrich for the Oklahoma City bombing?
One veteran Democratic operative, who blames overheated rhetoric for the shooting, said President Barack Obama should carefully but forcefully do what his predecessor did.
“They need to deftly pin this on the tea partiers,” said the Democrat. “Just like the Clinton White House deftly pinned the Oklahoma City bombing on the militia and anti-government people.”
Another Democratic strategist said the similarity is that Tucson and Oklahoma City both “take place in a climate of bitter and virulent rhetoric against the government and Democrats.”
At least they didn't say "tea baggers."
But actually no; upon further reflection, I don't find it queer at all. I find it sadly, disgustingly, vilely typical. "Overheated rhetoric?" Oh yes, but not emanating from the right, which has been remarkably restrained in recent years; the only over-the-top, violent, pornographic political rhetoric I've see recently has come from the left, from ultraliberals and revolutionary progressives.
But for such a despicable charge to be launched by the party that eagerly embraced and applauded a movie that lovingly fantasized about the assassination of George W. Bush, that regularly sends SEIU thugs into TP rallies to beat the living hell out of any black conservatives they find there, that regularly hurls the N-word and the F-word (the three-letter one) at any blacks or gays who don't toe the Democratic Party line, and that regularly allies itself with (and excuses, even at the highest levels of the Democratic government) the Weather Underground, the New Black Panther Party, Fidel Castro, Hugo Chavez, Hu Jintao, Kim Jong-Il, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, convicted cop-killer Mumia Abdul Jamal, Ft. Hood mass murderer Nidal Malik Hassan, and radical Islamist terrorist groups around the world -- I just find that galling.
Any Democrat or liberal with any sense of humanity at all (and a conscience) should be asking himself whether he really wants to remain associated with political jackals who repeatedly demonstrate a depraved indifference to human life.
This stomach-turning exercise in Grand-Guignol political theater should drive any remaining moderates or Independents out of the Democratic caucus. But will it?
November 6, 2010
Sound and Fury, Signifying... Something
Since I'm speaking about national issues, as opposed to Californian, I'm going to be the glass-half-full guy today.
I'm somewhat optimistic (just a bit) that maybe Barack H. Obama will be able to change course, at least a little, so that we don't have complete civil war for the next two years -- which might well turn off the electorate that just elected the GOP.
In the wake of the midterm elections, the president -- after hilariously proclaiming that the Democrats only lost because the TOTUS* didn't do a good enough job explaining to voters how Obama plans to radicalize America -- has actually offered two very substantial concessions to traditional American values:
Mr. Obama this week already has moved, at least slightly, on two major issues.
He said he no longer believes he can pass a broad energy bill that would impose limits on greenhouse gas emissions, and instead called for all sides to work on renewable and clean energy sources, such as nuclear power.
The White House also signaled movement on tax cuts -- the issue that deeply divided Congress just before it left town in September, and that will await lawmakers when they return this month.
Mr. Obama earlier said the Bush tax cuts that went to wealthier Americans must be allowed to lapse. But asked about a temporary extension, Mr. Gibbs said Thursday that Mr. Obama would "be open to having that discussion and open to listening to what the debate is on both sides of that."
One possibility I've seen floated would be to extend the Bush tax cuts until -- drum roll -- early 2013. The point is clear: If Obama loses reelection in 2012, then the next Republican president can try to make the tax-cuts permanent, if he can overcome the Democrats in the Senate.
But if B.O. is reelected, he will have a substantial argument that the American people don't want them to become permanent, else they would have elected the Republican -- who will, naturally, run on a platform that includes permanizing the tax cuts.
And of course Republicans on Capitol Hill would be overjoyed to work with the president and many Democrats in expanding our nuclear reactor force to take the place of as many coal- and oil-powered electricity plants as possible.
All it really would take would be to dramatically streamline the approval process and grant partial legal immunity to nuclear projects, to protect them from baseless lawsuits by environmentalists, which could stymie construction forever. As it happens, a number of environmentalists have already rationally concluded that nuclear power is less damaging to the environment than burning oil and coal; so the opposition is already divided.
I see these as much more significant than does the Washington Times' Stephen Dinan. By throwing both Cap and Tax and the Hands-Free Tax Increase under the bus, I think the Obamacle augurs that the era of big transformation has ended -- for a time, at least. It's hard to imagine him permanently giving up his ultimate goal of remaking America as a Eurosocialist welfare state; but Obama is obviously gobsmacked at the moment, unable to conjure a scheme to pull it off.
I still don't see him as a Clintonian triangulator; but perhaps he is so unused to defeat that, for a while at least, he will be too stunned to resist the pressure to make concessions. Another way of looking at it: Maybe for a few months -- before he shakes himself, like a cartoon victim of an explosion, and returns to his natural self -- the One will find himself bowing at the waist and kow-towing to his personal, American "enemies," the way he's already used to doing to America's foreign enemies.
Quick, let's take advantage while it lasts! When Obama comes back to his old, arrogant, messianic self, then Republicans can return to fighting him, hammer and tooth. But perhaps by then we'll have some substantive and substantial accomplishes under our belts... all the better to head into the 2012 showdown.
* TOTUS: Teleprompter of the United States
Cross-posted on Hot Air's rogues' gallery...
September 6, 2010
Democrat Campaign Grand Strategy: Money Will Save Our Seats!
Desperate Democrats held a war council and finally concocted a grand "triage" strategy for the 2010 elections; the new plan is simply to abandon their colleagues who aren't gaining any traction against their Republican opponents, thus focusing all their attention -- that is, all the campaign cash -- on a few "fire wall" races that will (they believe) allow them to hang onto the House, by a sliver.
What appalls me is the underlying, corrupt assumption at the core of this strategy; Democrats evidently believe that heaving enough money at a race guarantees victory:
To hold the line against Republicans, the House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, issued an urgent plea for members in safe districts to help their endangered colleagues by contributing money. She called out to Democrats who were delinquent on paying their party dues and instructed members with no re-election worries to tap into a combined $218 million from their campaign accounts to help save their majority.
"We need to know your commitment," Pelosi wrote to lawmakers last week in a private letter, demanding that they call her within 72 hours to explain how they plan to help.
She added, "The day after the election, we do not want to have any regrets." [No funds unspent, no poll watcher unbribed. --DaH]
A national campaign trumpeting Democratic accomplishments on health care, education and Wall Street regulation has given way to a race-by-race defensive strategy. Democratic incumbents are moving to aggressively define their Republican opponents and individualize races in an effort to inoculate themselves from the national mood.
"Inoculate themselves from the national mood."
Clearly they have no intention of changing their policies to bring them in line with what their own constituents want; Pelosi knows best. They won't moderate any of their radical schemes; they certainly won't cooperate with the Republicans in a bipartisan effort to solve the country's terrible economic and national-security problems.
They approach the election from the opposite side: Focus their entire campaign war-chest on a couple of dozen House races -- and use that wad of moolah on adverts to "inoculate" them from voters.
Well at least we can't say they didn't warn us!
Here's a sample of the electoral vaccine Democrats seek:
In Missouri, Rep. Ike Skelton has rarely run hard-hitting advertisements during 34 years in office, but he sternly accuses his opponent in one of not supporting the troops. In Texas, Rep. Chet Edwards, using the word "lie" three times, accuses his rival in an advertisement of claiming that he voted in a recent election when polling records said he did not. In New Jersey, Rep. John Adler accused his challenger, also in an advertisement, of buying a donkey so he could call his house a farm and get a tax break on it.
What a set of priorities! Squeaker of the House Nancy Pelosi's (D-Haight-Ashbury, 100%) grand strategy is to sling meaningless canards at Republicans on utterly irrelevant issues, while ignoring the looming catastrophes that actually confront this nation on multiple fronts:
- No practical plans to stimulate business and commerce, especially small business, the backbone of America. Nothing to promote private-sector jobs (not government handouts) or greater entrepeneurism.
- Not a word about repealing ObamaCare, giving Americans more control over their own medical decisions, expanding Medical Savings Accounts, shoring up Social Security by partial (or full!) privatization, or finding a way to fully fund the hysterical promises federal and state governments have made to seniors and retirees... without massive tax increases.
- Not a hint about reducing taxes, government intrusion into the workplace, and the almost unfathomable spending spree of the past 20 months (actually four years and 20 months, counting the huge increases that started after the Democratic majority was seated in January, 2007) -- the very match that lit the fuse of the popular front for Capitalism and against socialism.
- Dead silence about securing America's borders, fighting the radical Islamists who seek to destroy our way of life, improving intelligence gathering, or diplomatically supporting our allies, not our enemies.
- And not even a pledge to protect and promote American exceptionalism, restore our honor and trustworthiness, stop trying to radically change American culture and human nature, stop politicizing health care, science, and space exploration -- and worst of all, no pledge to begin listening to the voters for a change, instead of telling us what we must think.
To translate the Pelosi Plan into simple English, Democrats believe voters are pliant sheep, easily driven hither and yon; it takes but a strong whip-hand -- a few fearmongering commercials calling Republicans despoilers, exploiters, racists, homophobes, and "fascists," accusing us of acts of villainy that sound vague but are in fact meaningless: My opponent on the right is well known to be a raging heterosexual; his wife was an admitted thespian in high school; and he himself has frequently been caught masticating in public! Just empty enough loot into a race, and the Democrat will surely win; for liberals believe to their very bones that money trumps voters every time.
And if that doesn't do the trick, there's always the illegal alien vote, the prison vote, the fabricated person vote, and the graveyard vote. That ought to hold the House! (At least until after the election. As for the deluge that must come later, Pelosi, like Scarlett, will think about that tomorrow.)
August 31, 2010
Were-Liberals of Alaska
I've had a hypothesis for many years. Most libertarians are actually were-liberals: Every two years come November, they lurch to the left in the voting booth.
2010 is clearly no exception... for the Libertarian nominee in the Alaska U.S. Senate race, David Haase, has offered to "step down" and allow Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK, 68%) to take his place on the ballot as the "Libertarian" candidate -- if she will verbally embrace his plan to abolish the income tax and a couple of other things, which Haase dubs, with no hint that he understands the irony, the "People's Bailout":
Although Libertarian Party officials were dismissing the idea, Senate nominee David Haase said Monday that he would give Mrs. Murkowski his line on the ballot if the Republican senator would hoist his banner on behalf of nationalizing the Federal Reserve System, paying off the entire national debt with non-interest-bearing notes and abolishing the individual income tax.
"Would I step down for her? The right question is, first, will she take up my 'People's Bailout'?" Mr. Haase said, referring to a policy paper he has been circulating on how "to return to the banking system our Founders gave us."
"If she came out for my 'Peoples Bailout' plan, it would influence me a lot because the mission is more important than becoming a U.S. senator," he added.
I'm sure it is; but his comments beg the question, what exactly is the mission?
- First, there is virtually no possibility that Murkowski could possibly be elected running as a Libertarian in a race with both a Democrat and a Republican; she would come in a distant and humiliating third.
- Second, Haase must know that even if Murkowski mouthed the words, and even were she elected, she would never seriously push such a plan; she is not now and never has been a radical anti-income-taxer.
- Too, even if she did, there is no possibility it would pass either House or Senate.
- Fourth, even if it did pass by some deus ex machina, we would end up with a grotesque value-added tax (VAT) and a national sales tax... yet we would still have the Sixteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution: You just can't get two-thirds of each chamber of Congress plus thirty-eight states to ratify a repeal of the amendment that allows an income tax. All of which means that in a couple of years time, we would have a VAT, a national sales tax, plus a brand new income tax as well!
Since I doubt that David "Schleppenwolf" Haase is an utter fool, he knows that getting Lisa Murkowski to "come out" for his "People's Bailout" would do nothing at all to implement it. Ergo, he has an ulterior motive, which I believe is threefold; in order of urgency:
- Gaining notoriety for himself;
- Positioning the Libertarian Party to receive a big batch of fundraising;
- Splitting the Republican vote between Murkowski and "Average" Joe Miller, thus ensuring that Democratic nominee Scott McAdams wins the election.
When it comes down to it, most libertarians (and probably nearly all capital-L Libertarians) only pay lip service to free markets; in reality, they tend to be moochers who never grow up, live with their parents until they become fifty year old "orphans," and never really get past the "oral stage" of psychological development; they smoke too much tea and eat themselves into planetoid obesity.
They are really not libertarians at all; they are libertines. Their signature issue is far more likely to be legalizing marijuana than allowing us to succeed or fail by our own efforts (i.e., liberty). In fact, when the parental units finally kick the b., many self-described libertarians find a way to live on welfare! They substitute the Invisible Teat of Big Government for the nipple they never really let out of their mouths while Mommy still lived.
In the last election, vast numbers of these "libertinarians" voted for Barack H. Obama -- then concocted some Rube-Goldbergian verbal machination to explain why Obama was the most "free market" candidate running.
There are of course mature, adult libertarians worthy of the name -- think William F. Buckley, jr. or Milton and Rose Friedman -- who make their own way, support themselves and their families, interact in a mature way with real markets, and are less interested in oral fixations like dope smoking than they are in actual liberty issues. However, adult libertarians tend to vote Republican these days.
But back to the Final Frontier, the pending election of a Tea Partier as United States senator from Alaska.
Mind, this is the same election to which the National Republican Senatorial Committee sent its chief counsel, Sean Cairncross, to counsel Lisa Murkowski how to discover or manufacture sufficient votes in the absentee ballots to reverse her primary loss -- presumably by challenging as many Miller votes as possible, especially those from members of the military. Now the putative "Libertarian" candidate schemes to nullify the Republican vote by cleaving it in twain, hoping to install the minority Democrat in that seat. Democrats and establishment Republicans have merged, and their joint rebel yell is, "Anybody but 'Average' Joe Miller!"
- Miller will win the Republican nomination.
- Murkowski will not run as the Libertarian, nor the Independent (à la Charlie Crist in Florida), nor the write-in joke candidate.
- Scott McAdams will remain the Democratic nominee.
- Joe Miller will win the general election by at least ten points.
Remember Hugh Hewitt's aphorism: "If it's not close, they can't cheat." The Miller-Murkowski battle is close, but not close enough. And the subsequent general election won't even be close enough to tempt.
Cross-posted on Hot Air's rogues' gallery...
July 15, 2010
Why Did Obama's DOJ Botch Roman Polanski's Extradition?
When the Swiss denied the extradition request for child-rapist Roman Polanski, they explicitly gave as their primary reason the refusal of the Department of Justice to release a transcript of several days of "secret testimony" by one of the prosecutors, Roger Gunson:
The Justice Department said the transcripts couldn't be provided, according to a letter from Swiss officials to the U.S. Embassy in Bern, Switzerland. The letter was dated Monday and obtained by The Associated Press on Wednesday night.
The Swiss officials said that the denial of access to the information was the key factor in the refusal to extradite Polanski.
The testimony was taken, it appears (though the reporting is quite vague), during a Los Angeles Superior Court hearing this last January, held to determine whether Polanski could be sentenced "in absentia;" eventually, Superior Court Judge Peter Espinoza ruled that he could not be, that he had to be physically present for the hearing to occur.
The request was particularly risible and frivolous in this case -- given that Polanski already fled from a previous sentence, which he seems to have believed was only an additional 48 days of "diagnostic study." What are the odds that, were he sentenced in absentia today for a more reasonable term in jail, he would actually show up to serve it? Obviously, the only purpose of such a hearing would be for Polanski's lawyers to refight the original charge -- then only allow him to return if he was victorious and "vindicated."
Retired Prosecutor Gunson's testimony during that hearing remains sealed, per the DoJ; however, it's easy to guess what Gunson said: I presume he repeated the claim he made in a statement in June, 2008 -- and earlier that year in a pro-Polanski documentary -- that the original judge, Laurence J. Rittenband, had been "coached" during the original trial in 1977 by another prosecutor, Los Angeles Deputy District Attorney David Wells. I'm not quite sure what "coached" means in this case, probably the allegation that the prosecutor and judge colluded against Polanski.
Gunson also claimed in documentary and statement that in 1997, twenty years after, he and Polanski's attorney Douglas Dalton met in chambers with Judge Larry Paul Fidler. Fidler, they say, agreed that Polanski could return to the United States and be sentenced only to probation with no prison or jail time.
But President Barack H. Obama's Justice Department denied the Swiss request for that testimony. They must have known that withholding it guaranteed that Swiss authorities would reject extradition: Swiss law allows extradition only in cases where the defendant would be sentenced to at least six months in jail; yet the Gunson testimony went to the question of whether Polanski faced any jail time at all. Obviously, without being allowed to read that testimony for themselves and weigh it against other, more pertinent evidence, the Swiss were bound to err on the side of Polanski, who owns property in Gstadt, rather than the distant United States.
I see only two plausibilities, neither of which redounds to the credit of Attorney General Eric Holder or President Obama:
- The Justice Department reflexively withheld the testimony because top personnel were afraid the Swiss would seize upon it as proof that Polanski didn't qualify to be extradited under Swiss law. This is "teen logic," like a high-schooler having a fender bender, then parking the car on the street so Dad would think it was a hit-and-run in the middle of the night.
- Justice deliberately withheld the testimony to ensure that Polanski would not be extradited, would not stand trial again for the brutal rape and for fleeing prosecution, and would not be punished. It is at the very least curious that Polanski hired a new attorney, Reid Weingarten, four days after his arrest in Zurich... an attorney who is a "close friend of Attorney General Eric Holder."
The Weingarten angle is tantalizing; did Holder's pal broker a Washington deal to keep Polanski free? Did Holder agree -- he does have a history of killing prosecutions, doesn't he? -- in order to keep faith with Obama's supporters and donors among the Hollywood Left?
Polanski, 76, was arrested last weekend at Zurich’s airport on a 31-year-old fugitive warrant issued after he skipped sentencing for having sex with a 13-year-old girl. The addition of Weingarten, who has known Holder since the two worked together in the department’s Public Integrity Section in the 1970s, means Polanski now has a powerful advocate in Washington.
The New York Times reports:
The recruiting of Mr. Weingarten was a strong signal that Mr. Polanski’s legal team intends to push hard on the Washington end of the case. Mr. Polanski was arrested on his way to the Zurich Film Festival after Swiss authorities received a letter from the Department of Justice requesting that he be held for possible extradition to the United States.
The question now is, from how high up the chain at Justice came the decision to refuse the Swiss request for the Gunson testimony?
Under the first hypothesis, it was just a boneheaded mistake by either Eric Holder himself or one of his top deputies. There is ample evidence that Polanski actually faced far more than six months, possibly as much as twenty years. As Patterico pointed out in early May, both Polanski's plea transcript from 1978 and a Christmas Eve Day decision in 2009 by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals rebut the urban legend that Roman Polanski had a sentencing "deal" with Judge Rittenband to "serve" only 42 days of a diagnostic study as his sole "punishment." In fact, Patterico notes, such studies are not punitive at all and cannot constitute a "sentence;" they're meant to help determine what sentence the convict should receive.)
Nobody, not even Polanski's attorneys, claims that the defendant was legally authorized to flee the country to avoid further court proceedings; so at the very least, he should be subject to prosecution for unlawful flight, which would likely net him at least six months on that charge alone. Too, serving some sort of sentence following the full 90 days of evaluation -- even if only probation -- was surely part of any plea agreement; since he failed to fulfill his side of the agreement, the plea bargain is off -- and Polanski is now subject to the full set of charges, including oral, vaginal, and anal rape of a minor by drugs and force. If convicted, and I suspect he would be, I'm sure he would be eligible for life in prison (de facto if not de jure, as he turns 77 years old next month).
Instead of refusing to hand over the ramblings of an obviously biased witness, Roger Gunson, Obama's Department of Justice should have released it and simply made the argument that Gunson's testimony is not dispositive anent the punishment that awaits Mr. Polanski upon his return. It's possible the Swiss law-enforcement officials would have found some other excuse not to extradite; but it's also possible they would decide, if the petition was strong and all documents included, that they couldn't brush it aside so easily.
And of course, the other hypothesis -- that Holder once again quashed prosecution of a politically favored defendant in a sensational case -- is even more reprehensible. It forms a pattern of biased conduct verging on political bribery at the DoJ that would further erode any confidence among the American people that Barack H. Obama is fit to serve as President of the United States... or at the very least, that Eric Holder is fit to serve as Attorney General. (But who appointed Eric Holder?)
The botching of the Polanski extradition case -- or its corrupt quashing -- opens yet another vista of the Democratic culture of corruption, an inexhaustible oil spill of moral rot and political turpitude seeping throughout all three branches of the federal government.
Drip, drip, drip.
Cross-posted on Hot Air's rogues' gallery...
July 11, 2010
How to Deter the "Lame Donkey" Congress of 2010?
In yesterday's post (from here in "sunny" San Diego, on holiday), we warned once more -- this time echoed by John Fund of the Wall Street Journal -- that the critical time for a massive last-gasp of liberal-fascist legislation from the Long Congress will be after the November 2nd congressional elections, but before the new 112th Congress is sworn in on January 3rd; that is, when many Democrats will have already lost, and therefore have nothing left to lose (and a seething, bitter anger at the electorate which dumped them). The question before us is, what to do, what to do?
Our counterstrategy must be threefold:
- Consolidate our own members.
- Recruit Democratic representatives and senators who still plan to run for reelection in 2012.
- And most important, get the American people up to speed... and explain to them exactly why we mustn't take up substantive, controversial bills during that period.
First above all, make the case to the voters
Let's take the last first, as it is the rhetorical infrastructure that underlies everything else we can do. The important point to make with the voters, again and again, is this: "The people have spoken: America has already elected a new Congress. So major policy changes must wait until the people's new choices are sworn in."
That is a very winnable position; but we cannot wait until after the election to begin arguing it; by then it will be too late to affect polling, and it's the polls that can scare delicate Dems (and recalcitrant RINOs) away from taking advantage of a self-styled "crisis."
The GOP needs to start making its case against a Lame-Donkey onslaught of Obamunism right now, today, long before the election, in order to have a hope of recruiting Democrats against a Long Congress.
Maintain party discipline
This is a no-brainer. We have virtually no chance of stopping any of the Lame-Donkey outrages in the House: If even a slim majority of Democrats holds together, then no matter how many others break ranks, the Left can ram through anything Squeaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Haight-Ashbury, 100%) wants.
Our only hope is in the Senate, where the minority has much greater power to stop legislation -- or slow it, which is just as good in this case.
The first necessity is to hold all Republicans to party discispline... or at least all that we can. Our most powerful weapon is the filibuster; but the Democrats' most devastating response would be the putative "nuclear option," also called the Byrd option.
In the Byrd option (here is a primer at Wikipedia), the Parliamentarian of the United States Senate (currently Alan Frumin), rules a filibuster "out of order;" then the Democrat majority votes to affirm this ruling. This essentially allows a filibuster to be broken by a simple majority, not the 60 votes usually needed... assuming the majority is willing to overturn all previous traditions, precedents, and understandings of the Senate and among senators.
First, let's assume they don't use the nuclear option. In that case, it's just a numbers game: Can we lasso at least as many Democrats as we lose Republicans, thus preventing cloture? It's dicey, but I think even the perennial "stick-pokers" would hestitate to enrage voters so blatantly... particularly those GOP senators themselves up for reelection in 2012.
Some of our senators may need more herding that others, including Lindsey Graham (SC, 88%), Charles Grassley (IA, 96%), Scott Brown (MA, not yet rated), and the Maine twins, Susan Collins (48%) and Olympia Snowe (48%). We need solid polling that shows voters will be enraged not only at outgoing Democrats who try to thwart the will of the people, but also against their Republican "enablers" who remain in Congress after January.
And we need the credible threat that any GOP senator who aids and abets Democrats trying to ram Obamunism through during the Lame-Donkey period will be completely cut off from any party funding and NRSC- or RNC-controlled volunteer organization in 2012.
Since Scott Brown's victory in Massachusetts, the GOP controls 41 Senate seats; if they stand firm, that is all it takes to filibuster legislation, if Democrats reject the Byrd option. If they go for it, everything gets much messier -- see below.
Hook a few Democrats
Joe Lieberman (ID-CT, 95% Democratic) is up for reelection in 2012 (class I); other class-I Democratic senators who are somewhat more moderate include Ben Nelson (NE, 70%) and perhaps whoever replaces Robert Byrd in the West Virginia U.S. Senate seat. These three Democrats are potential votes against cloture, if we can get them worrying about how such a usurpation will affect their own reelections in two years. We might be able to use these Democrats to replace one or (maybe) two GOP turncoats.
But the real danger comes if the Democrats decide to go for the Byrd option anyway, and damn the consequences. Remember, if they succeed in killing the filibuster, they will have free rein to enact anything they want; they can rampage like a bull in a candy store.
But it's not so easy as snapping their fingers; it requires the corrupt connivance of the Senate Parliamentarian, Alan Frumin. He must start the procedure by ruling a filibuster of a bill out of order.
There are two firewalls against the Byrd option: First, Frumin is widely considered to be fair and honest, and he likely would balk at such a ruling; but he could be removed by the majority Democrats and replaced with someone who is more pliant. But the second firewall is entirely within the hands of the GOP. Here, in a nuthouse, is what happened the last time the Byrd option was discussed back in 2005 (from the Wikipedia entry linked above):
The maneuver was brought to prominence in 2005 when then-Majority Leader Bill Frist (Republican of Tennessee) threatened its use to end Democratic-led filibusters of judicial nominees submitted by President George W. Bush. In response to this threat, Democrats threatened to shut down the Senate and prevent consideration of all routine and legislative Senate business.
This is the real answer to the conundrum of the Lame-Donkey Congress: Republicans filibuster; and if the Democrats threaten with the Byrd option to short-circuit the filibuster, the Republicans must shut the United States Senate down hard until the new Congress is seated on January 3rd.
It can be done. Senate rules are so Byzantine, so empowering to individual senators, that virtually nothing can be done without "unanimous consent" for this or that procedural shortcut. Withhold that consent, and the ponderous machinery grinds to a halt.
That is the secret to stop a runaway Senate; that is what makes the upper body the "saucer" to the House's "coffee cup": As John Adams explained to Thomas Jefferson, the overheated passions of the cup are poured into the saucer precisely in order to cool them.
Ruthlessness in defense of liberty is no vice
I believe that if we succeed in step 1 above, explaining to the American people how anti-democratic such a Long Congress is, then voters will back us no matter how far the Democrats force us to go to stop the imposition of Obamunism. Americans simply do not like radicalism, and particularly radical curtailment of their own liberties.
If the Democrats persist, I believe the damage to their brand will be deep, irreparable, and possibly politically fatal. When the 2012 elections roll around, not only will President Barack H. Obama be denied a second term, but the "Republican realignment" will be completed by the routing of Senate and House Democrats for a second election in a row, the mirror image of 2006 and 2008.
Realizing that, I suspect the Democrats would not even be able to get the 51 votes needed to override the GOP objection to the ruling from the Senate Parliamentarian terminating the filibuster -- assuming they can even get the Parliamentarian to so rule, for such an obviously political purpose, so diametrically opposed to "the consent of the governed."
If we stand firm, we can prevent the Lame-Donkey disaster from even occurring, or else shatter it if the Democrats actually try it. But considering that we're relying upon the Senate Republicans, that is still a mighty big "if" indeed.
July 9, 2010
John Finally Finds His Fundament
We'd like to congratulate Wall Street Journal columnist John Fund for bringing to our attention the distinct possibility that, during the "lame duck" session of the 111th Congress -- when many, many Democrats will have already been defeated at the polls (thus have nothing to lose anymore) -- the Democrats will muscle through all those wish-list pieces of legislation that they would never dare to vote for before the election.
It's a brilliant insight... but I have the strangest feeling of déjà vu, almost as if I've seen something like that on the Web before. Wait, I think I have it; could it be -- this?
I would guess that the window will firmly shut in late May or early June; after that -- with one dangerous exception -- ObamaCare cannot be enacted, for reasons of politics.
The one dangerous exception is the putative "lame-duck" period of the second session of the 111th Congress... the short interval after the elections but before the 112th Congress is seated on January 3rd (per the Twentieth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution).
During those two months, every representative in the House already knows whether he has been reelected, and the Senate bill is still in effect.
A defeated Democrat has nothing to lose by voting for ObamaCare. If enough of those currently leaning towards Nay are defeated, they may, in a fit of vindictive revenge against the constituents who fired them, vote in as perverse a manner as possible. (Though of course, it's unlikely the reconciliation side of the package could also be enacted during that period.)
This is the most likely time for ObamaCare to be enacted, since it would then have virtually no consequences on its supporters: Many of the Democrats voting for it will have already been defeated; and for those from moderate districts who were nevertheless reelected, a December vote gives them the maximal "memory-lapse" time before facing voters again in 2012.
I'm quite concerned about that interval; has the GOP given it much thought?
I can't remember what idiot wrote it, but it was posted on Hot Air's rogues' gallery approximately three months, 26 days, nine hours, 39 minutes, and 46 seconds ago. It's another WSJ scoop!
...But I'll bet a whole lot more people will read it in Fund's column than in that anonymous blogger's post; and perhaps such exposure will finally awaken Republicans from their electative torpor; perhaps they will suddenly realize that the "loyal" opposition considers politics to be an extension of war by other means, regardless of how docile and genteel the GOP behaves towards them.
Time to begin sounding the klaxton about what the Democrats intend to do after the election but before the 112th Congress is sworn in: Our side needs to be ready to mobilize every GOP senator and even some more moderate Democratic ones to deny cloture. We need to credibly threaten that any such shenanigans will force Republicans to resort to various "nuclear options" during the next congressional term, bringing Congress (and Obama's last two years) to an utter standstill. Oh, and don't expect a Republican House to fund any of these insane policies.
Perhaps that fear will deter enough Democrats to prevent such wholesale disenfranchisement of the American voter... at least for any Democrat who understands the term "pyrrhic victory."
June 22, 2010
So Comfortable in Corruption, They Needn't Even Dissemble
The brazenness of Democrats is sometimes breathtaking:
Defense contractors who openly discussed a suspected pay-to-play scheme in e-mails released by congressional ethics investigators had ties to a powerful lobbying firm and won millions of dollars in federal earmarks after contributing to the campaign of an Indiana congressman.
Democratic Rep. Peter J. Visclosky requested a $2.5 million federal earmark for Nevada-based defense contractor Sierra Nevada Corp. (SNC) five days after a March 2007 fundraiser for which the company's owners and its political action committee contributed $18,800 to the congressman's campaign.
Similarly, Mr. Visclosky requested $2.5 million for defense firm 21st Century Systems -- five days after its employees ponied up $17,050 for the same fundraiser. The firm's chief executive was awarded an "honorary seat" next to Mr. Visclosky at that fundraiser.
In both cases, company executives wrote e-mails linking campaign donations to earmarks Mr. Visclosky secured or special access to the congressman, a congressional ethics board concluded.
Sometimes you look at them in wonder; sometimes you just... look.
The players in the two vignettes above were all clients of Washington lobbying firm PMA Group; and Rep. Visclosky (D-IN, 90%) sits on the House Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, along with Rep. James P. Moran (D-VA, 85%) and formerly with Rep. John Murtha (D-Pushing up daisies) -- both of whom also evidently played for pay with PMA:
All three members of the powerful subcommittee that doles out millions of dollars annually in Pentagon appropriations received hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations from PMA employees and the firm's clients who wanted earmarks -- often within mere days of each other.
PMA, which earned more than $16.4 million in 2007 specializing in defense earmarks for clients, was one of the 10 top-grossing lobbying firms in Washington before it imploded. Federal agents raided it and owner Paul Magliocchetti's home in November 2008.
This squalid tale of quasi-legal bribery would be uninteresting except for one aspect: The sad fact that the participants on both sides the transaction felt so secure from investigation, castigation, or even prosecution that they made no slightest attempt to hide their crimes. Everything was seemingly done right out in the open:
- The corporate bribers wrote e-mails carefully enumerating how much they were paying Visclosky, et al, and what earmarks they expected in return.
- They even put the details into an official corporate document -- again without the slightest fear of trouble or sense of the enormity of their actions.
- And Visclosky, one of the alleged bribees, didn't even try to conceal the link between money received and ears requested: In numerous instances, he put in the earmark request to the subcommittee less than a week after the fundraiser! He barely waited long enough to count the campaign cash and get it into the bank.
The Office of Congressional Ethics was created by Squeaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Haight-Ashbury, 100%) in 2008 as a board of non-congressmen citizens who investigate ethics charges; if it finds substantiation, it's empowered to refer the matter to the House Ethics Committee, the only congressional body that has actual jurisdiction over congressmen under House rules. So what happened in 2009, when the OCE did exactly that?
I bet you'll never be able to guess:
The eight-member OCE Board of Directors referred the findings on Mr. Visclosky to the House ethics committee, saying they found "probable cause" to believe he solicited or received contributions in exchange for earmarks.
The OCE, which does not have jurisdiction over events prior to March 2008, included in its report the SNC e-mails from 2007 as "evidence that PMA clients seeking earmarks from Representative Visclosky linked contributions to his campaign to specific legislative acts."
But in February, the ethics committee cleared Mr. Visclosky, Mr. Murtha, Mr. Moran and four other members of the House Appropriations defense subcommittee, saying it "found no evidence" they or their staffs were "directly or indirectly engaged in seeking contributions in return for earmarks."
The only reason the investigation continues is that the OCE, piqued at being made laughingstocks by the "the most honest, most open and most ethical Congress in history," unanimously referred the entire mess to the FBI, which has continued the investigation... at least until Attorney General Eric Holder realizes the danger and pulls a "Black Panther" on them.
For some reason, these top Democrats all casually assumed that they would be immune to ethical rules and even federal criminal prosecution for bribery and corruption; for some reason, they believed that when push-me came to pull-you, Squeaker Pelosi would not allow her top lieutenants on Appropriations to be held accountable for their follies and foibles.
For some completely unfathomable reason, this belief in ethical invulnerability turned out to be correct, at least so far. It's a mystery!
The leftstream media is clearly uninterested in telling the story that the Democrats, far from being the paladins of virtue they consistently pretend, are far more corrupt than the Republicans they replaced... if for no other reason than the very normality of corruption in the party on the left.
To paraphrase Churchill, the Left swims in seas of corruption so dense, it crushes their very souls. Bribery and extortion is the rule, not the exception; and nobody fears consequences, worries about exposure, or so much as considers morality, no more than does a "soldier" in a Mafia family: They have mastered Chicago rules.
Even voters seem to accept Democratic corruption as so humdrum, it only becomes an issue when Republicans stand accused as well.
But this year above all others may be the one in which the American voter rediscovers not only fiscal frugality but ethical commandments. The Great Earmark Revolt, which we have chronicled in a series of posts from 2006 to this year, is one example; here are most of those posts, I believe:
- The Missing Earpiece
- Has Nancy Pelosi Changed Her Mind About Ears?
- The Democrats Are All Ears
- Earmarks? No No... Phonemarks!
- They're All Ears... Again
- The Power of the Big Idea: O'Billery Reduced to "Me Too!"
- Traders to the Cause - Republicans Are All Ears
America has been blessed by -- and sometimes suffered under -- moral crusades many times in the past, from the founding of the nation, through the anti-slavery movement, the temperence movement, the legal prudery movement, the civil-rights movement, and of course more religious revivalist movements than you can shake a crucifix at. Perhaps our "popular front" against overspending can find space for a moral crusade for clean government, as well.
This is the year; today is the day; now is the time to actually create -- for real, this time -- that "most honest, most open and most ethical Congress in history." So far, alas, it remains yet another broken promise, like global warming and a sequel to the Incredibles.
Cross-posted on Hot Air's rogues' gallery...
May 26, 2010
Inglorious Results of an Overspent Youth
Michael Barone just published a fascinating column; he argues that something is happening that has never happened before in Western civ. For the very first time, a populist, small-c conservative uprising is focused not on taxes (that's fairly common), but rather on the deeper and more profound cause of socialist woe, government spending itself:
In the past rebellions against fiscal policy have concentrated on taxes rather than spending. In the 1970s, when inflation was pushing voters into higher tax brackets, tax revolts broke out in California and spread east. Ronald Reagan's tax cuts were popular, but spending cuts did not follow. Bill Clinton's tax increases led to the Republican takeover and to tax cuts at both the federal and state levels but spending boomed under George W. Bush.
The rebellion against the fiscal policies of the Obama Democrats, in contrast, is concentrated on spending. The Tea Party movement began with Rick Santelli's rant in February 2009, long before the scheduled expiration of the Bush tax cuts in January 2011.
A garden-variety tax revolt is more immediately gratifying to the people, forthey pay less tax immediately; and sometimes it can function as a proxy for reducing government spending, but only when accompanied by a ban or limitation on deficit spending, as with a state. Even then, however,
lawbreakers lawmakers can shield the true culprit by simply ignoring the law; this is what is happening in California, which mandates a balanced budget -- but is currently about $20 billion in the red for this year alone, with no prospect of things looking up in the near future.
But in the country as a whole, Barone sees a growing mass movement -- which I dubbed a "popular front" in a previous post, What Makes Lefty Run? For the first time, we see in the Tea Parties (and associates, hangers-on, groupies, and fellow travelers) a genuine popular front against bread and circuses:
What we are seeing is a spontaneous rush of previously inactive citizens into political activity, a movement symbolized but not limited to the Tea Party movement, in response to the vast increases in federal spending that began with the Troubled Asset Relief Program legislation in fall 2008 and accelerated with the Obama Democrats' stimulus package, budget and health care bills.
The Tea Party folk are focusing on something real. Federal spending is rising from about 21 percent to about 25 percent of gross domestic product -- a huge increase in historic terms -- and the national debt is on a trajectory to double as a percentage of GDP within a decade. That is a bigger increase than anything since World War II.
Now the political scientists' maxim seems out of date. The Democrat who won the Pennsylvania 12th Congressional District special election opposed the Democrats' health care law and cap-and-trade bills. The Tea Party-loving Republican who won the Senate nomination in Kentucky jumped out to a big lead. The defeat of the three appropriators, who among them have served 76 years in Congress (and whose fathers served another 42), is the canary that stopped singing in the coal mine.
Barone goes on to question whether the Republican Party will be bold enough to seize upon this popular front, but that's a side issue. The front itself represents the maturation of the American (perhaps world) polity itself away from the nanny-state and towards greater reliance upon state, local, family, and oneself. More and more, people see the government not as a comforting, protective mother but as a smothering, clutching, giant kraken, entwining its squirming, grasping, sucker-clutching tentacles into everybody's back pocket.
Our greatest fiscal problem has always been overspending, not whether that spending is "paid for" by taxation or run up on the national credit card. The most extreme examples of socialism do not limit themselves to high taxes; they invariably supplant private spending with public spending and diminish private wages to greatly expand the public payroll, with the concomitent increase in government control. The intent is to destroy or hobble all personal and local institutions of society, forcing citizens to rely more heavily upon the national State -- or even transnational bodies, from the Communist Party to the European Union.
(President Barack H. Obama is currently pushing both of these policies as well, demonstrating that he does indeed have the socialist, specifically "liberal fascist," impulse himself -- joining Carter, Nixon, Johnson, F. Roosevelt, Wilson, and T. Roosevelt in the ranks of liberal-fascist presidents of the United States.)
The farther removed the institution is from the individual, the weaker the individual becomes; when all necessities can only be obtained from the national or international government, that constitutes pure socialism, which invariably metastasizes into totalitarianism, whose motto is "because we can!"
But perhaps counterintuitively, the lever that moves the meter from liberty to tyranny is always spending, not taxes. Whether the overspending State taxes or borrows, the result is the same: Power to the State, powerlessness to the people.
We certainly haven't gone as far as totalitarianism, or even as far as the EU, which does appear to be the short-term goal of Obamunism. One reason is the provenance of America itself; born in bloody revolt against oppressive government tyranny, the citizens of the United States have stubbornly maintained their distrust in remote, all-powerful government rule. Today, that distrust is "expressing," like an activated liberty gene, as the Tea Party-driven popular front against overspending and red ink.
The most outrageous recent example of just what our popular front is fighting is a bill introduced yesterday by Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA, 90%). It calls for the federal government to bail out labor-union pension plans, which are grotesquely underfunded due to staggering mismanagement and criminal looting since long before the current financial upheaval. The Casey bill is a $165 billion early Christmas present to Democrats' most reliable backers, Big Labor.
But it's counterproductive to nitpick a few obvious insanities. The problem is much deeper: Too many people have formed the conclusion -- not unreasonable, assuming colossal ignorance -- that government has a bottomless pocket, boxcars of cash like Scrooge McDuck, enough to pay for everything that everybody wants, twice over! And if you object either to forking over most of your dough to the feds or to the recipients of all this largess, then you're a selfish son of a bachelor -- and of course a racist, sexist, homophobic carnivore.
Six weeks of vacation a year. Retirement at 60. Thousands of euros for having a baby. A good university education for less than the cost of a laptop.
The system known as the European welfare state was built after World War II as the keystone of a shared prosperity meant to prevent future conflict. Generous lifelong [!] benefits have since become a defining feature of modern Europe.
Wow, let's all move to Belgium. Who can resist Aladdin's cave, where diamonds, sapphires, rubies, and emeralds sprout from bushes that grow in gold-dust soil? Ah, but a specter is haunting paradise:
Now the welfare state - cherished by many Europeans as an alternative to what they see as dog-eat-dog American capitalism - is coming under its most serious threat in decades: Europe's sovereign debt crisis.
Deep budget cuts are under way across Europe. Although the first round is focused mostly on government payrolls - the least politically explosive target - welfare benefits are looking increasingly vulnerable.
"The current welfare state is unaffordable," said Uri Dadush, director of the Carnegie Endowment's International Economics Program. "The crisis has made the day of reckoning closer by several years in virtually all the industrial countries."
Europe is battered by many economic and sociopolitical monsoons:
- Wars erupting across the world (so what else is new?), into which European nations are dragged by alliances and by their own colonialist obligations.
- A stomach-clenching plummet in the fertility rate that has left some European countries reproducing at only half the rate needed to maintain their populations.
- Labor shortages (caused by the above) that require massive immigration from outside Europe, leading to a slow-motion Moslem invasion of the continent.
But even without these external body blows, the reality is simply that Europe cannot afford to spend like drunken Democrats. Neither can we; nobody can. But like scions of wealth and privilege, too many who grow up suckling at the government teat know only decadence and profligacy, and nothing of responsibility, duty, or sacrifice -- even sacrificing for one's own future, let alone the future of society. So when Europe's eternal adolescents are told that the well has run dry, the obvious response (as in Greece) is -- let's throw a riot!
Or let's storm the property of a Bank of America executive, and maybe they'll just write off those tens of billions of dollars we owe them. More bread! More circuses!
Here in America, we've had our own teen-logic flirtations with the "bottomless pocket" of government. One topical example was the enactment of the Community Reinvestment Act of 1977 that treated mortgages, for the first time, as a "right." Expanded drastically under President Bill Clinton and egregiously misused by organizations such as Rainbow Push and ACORN, the CRA was turned into a cattle prod driving lenders to offer mortgages to people who could never possibly repay them.
These toxic mortgages were then bundled into a vast river of unrecoverable debt, there concealed from the naked eye by "securitization" into mortgage-backed securities (MBSs) and the like. The quasi-federal agencies Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac then issued bogus guarantees of the now "toxic assets" (now there's an oxymoron!), reselling them back into the banking world.
Thus was "wealth" created ex-nihilio. Free money, as much as you want! More bread. More circuses.
There are many other examples of the Cult of the Bottomless Pocket, but this is the one that led directly to the spending crisis of 2010 -- thence ironically to the popular front that will, I predict, end up resolving not only the crisis of the moment but the very culture that creates such crises and catastrophes in the first place.
Historical detour: Alexander Fraser Tytler (1747–1813) has been forever tarred by the spurious claim that he wrote the following:
A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves largesse from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates promising the most benefits from the public treasury with the result that a democracy always collapses over loose fiscal policy, always followed by a dictatorship.
No matter who's opinion this actually represents, it sits upon a gaping fallacy of static analysis. In fact, as we're starting to see today, when enough politicians vote themselves, and their lucky constituents, "largess from the public treasury," the republic does not necessarily collapse; evidently, there is another possibilty: that the majority rises up and squelches the greedy-pig minority.
The impulse began with an increasingly virulent attack on earmarks, but voters quickly realized that ears are only the tail of the iceberg. The real danger is not secret theft of public funds for petty bribery, but brazen expenditures of vast amounts of tax money to purchase another lump of socialist coal for our Christmas socks. Now the demand is simply to stop overspending our money, period... a surging popular front now stands athwart the history of government expansion yelling Stop!
To answer the question asked at the end of our last post, perhaps this then is the synthesis created by debt-theft plus the spending crisis: Instead of the New Soviet Man that the Left has sought for nearly a century, we may be midwives at the birth of the New Sovereign Voter, who rises to seize control of the government and return it to what our Founders meant it to be: a useful ass, not the whip-wielding master.
March 24, 2010
We've Only Just Begun to Pay
I see that the U.S. Postal Disservice plans to eliminate Saturday delivery; it seems they're in the hole by $3.8 billion this year, headed for $7 billion next, and this is the only way to begin to close that gap:
The Postal Service took the first formal step Wednesday toward cutting mail delivery to five days a week.
The postal governing board agreed to ask the independent Postal Regulatory Commission for an opinion on dropping Saturday delivery. That request goes to the commission next week....
The Postal Service says the delivery change would save more than $3 billion annually. It is a major part of a decade-long plan to eliminate losses and restore the agency to stability in the face of shrinking business....
The post office lost $3.8 billion last year and is facing projected losses of as much as $7 billion this year. Other proposals for cutting losses include changes in the financing of retiree health care and closing some mail handling centers and post offices.
That is, the federal government claims to be so strapped that it can't come up with $7 billion more per year to ensure Saturday delivery; but it can scrounge two trillion over ten years to seize control of American medical care.
Here's another way of looking at this signal event: Barack H. Obama wants to end Satuday mail delivery in order to (partially) pay for ObamaCare -- including the Cornhusker Kickback, the Louisiana Purchase, the Gator Aid, and the Stupak Stipend.
Good to know our national priorities.
Cross-posted on Hot Air's rogues' gallery...
March 21, 2010
Stupak Caves, Euro-Style Government-Run Health Care Now a Done Deal - UPDATED
The post title says it all... but see previous post for how we may still have a good shot at reversing the vote.
UPDATE: After all the Sturm und Drang, Rep. Bart Stupak (D-MI, 90%) settled for an executive order (EO) from President Barack H. Obama saying that federal funds would not be used for abortion.
But this is what Mary Poppins calls a "pie-crust promise, easily made and easily broken." This EO will be signed in the spotlight, with a thousand media moguls covering the "breakthrough" with hundreds of thousands of feet of tape.
But the next EO will be signed in the proverbial dead of night, probably when Congress is in recess, buried amongs a flurry of innocuous EOs declaring September "Homer Simpson appreciation month" or "recognizing the tremendous influence of peppermint-flavored dental floss on American culture."
The next EO will "clarify" the first one... it will state that in certain "emergency circumstances," the feds can fund abortion; and then it will give so broad a definition of emergency circumstances that every abortion in America will be eligible.
How do I know this? Very simple: Barack Obama truly wants the federal government to pay for abortions; and since he has the authority to get what he wants, with only a promise to hold him back, why wouldn't he? What is Bart Stupak going to do about it?
The syllogism is quite simple:
- Obama ultimately wants a single-payer health-care system in the United States, à la Great Britain or Japan. Nobody denies this, not even the president.
- Obama believes that abortion should be safe and legal.
- If abortion is legal, it counts as health care, obviously.
- Therefore, in the world that the One wants us to have, the federal government -- the "single payer" -- will necessarily pay for all abortions in the U.S.
Whether the Obamacle can bring about the millennium he desires is another question; but it's a dead cert that his desire is for the feds to pay for abortions, among other procedures, using taxpayer dollars. In fact, he also wants partial-birth abortion to be legal; so by the same syllogism, he wants you and me to pay for it with our federal taxes.
Now I'm not completely anti-abortion; but I am utterly anti-federally funding for abortion. (And I'm also utterly against partial-birth abortion -- or to be more accurate, partial-birth infanticide -- federally funded or not.)
Therefore, Stupak traded away his putative principles for a pot of message. He is a traitor to a cause he claims to have supported from long before he has been in federal office, since 1993, going all the way back to when he consciously accepted Catholicism, presumably as a child.
I reckon the aphorism is true: Liberalism, like socialism, truly does corrupt all that it touches.
March 20, 2010
Does She Do or Does She Don't? A Reptile Says - She Don't
Bonus extra fold-out: How the Democrats hoisted themselves by their own petard
Let us once more check the Hill's newest whip count:
- 178 Republicans are firm Nays; even Rep. Joseph Cao (R-LA, not yet rated), personally (and heavily) lobbied by President Barack H. Obama himself, doesn't look to buck the unanimity.
- 37 Democrats are firm Nays, likely Nays, or leaning Nay.
- 199 Democrats are firm Yeas, likely Yeas, or leaning Yea.
- 17 Democrats are toss-ups.
A little back-of-the-thumbnail calculation gives us 215 firm, likely, or leaning Nay -- vs. 199 firm, likely, or leaning Yea; 216 is a majority in a House of Representatives that has but 431 members at the moment. Once again, the ObamaCarebears must run the table, picking up each and every undecided... while we need only a single one to break against the bill.
Of course, some in the Nay column could repent of their sinful ways and join the Democrat scamwagon; but so far, for every Nay lost to a Yea, an undecided has come out as a replacement Nay. The Nay side has stayed at 215 or 214 for several days now, despite all the queen's rubber hoses and all the queen's minions.
You gotta like our chances.
Other prognosticators agree; according to "Pessimism" Paul Mirengoff at Power Line, one of the Stupakians, Rep. Dan Lipinski (D-IL, 90%), says Pelosi is still about seven short. Paul continues, joined by "Jeremiah" John Hinderaker:
UPDATE: Jeffrey Anderson at NRO's Critical Condition blog says Pelosi is still short. He counts 208 leaning in favor, 214 leaning against, and nine undecided. At this point, though, "leaning against" may mean "waiting for an inducement" in some cases.
JOHN adds: This is consistent with what James Hohmann of Politico told us on our radio show this morning, i.e., that as of around 1:00 this afternoon, Pelosi had 206-208 "yes" votes.
So as I've said many times, in politics, the game ain't over till the last fat lady is hung. If Squeaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Haight-Ashbury, 100%) postpones tomorrow's vote, that means she knew she didn't have 216; if she holds the vote, that means she thinks she has 216 -- but could be mistaken.
Bonus fold-out! It occurred to me a week or so ago that the Democrats' own corrupt scheme actually makes it much more plausible that, even if ObamaCare passes tomorrow, we can still repeal and abolish it before it destroys American medical care.
The Democrats were so anxious not to reveal how horribly ObamaCare adds to the deficit that they pulled a fast one on the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), which tracks those sorts of issues: They crafted a bill that "backloads" all the core elements of ObamaCare -- all the liberty-liquidating, choice-curtailing, budget-busting, death-panel debuting provisions, including the mandate -- to 2013; but the bill enacts the tax increases immediately.
What does this mean? For one thing, the bill the CBO was given to score included only seven years of spending, but a full ten years of tax increases. That made it appear actually to decrease the budget deficit -- for the exact ten-year period from fiscal year (FY) 2011 through FY 2020; but if instead one looks at the ten-year period from FY 2014 through FY 2023, ObamaCare adds about two trillion dollars to the budget deficit!
So a profligate's dream of a bill that will bust the budget wide open was artificially made to look like a fiscally responsible bill that will (slightly) reduce the deficit.
But there was a price to pay: By backloading the guts of ObamaCare, Democrats themselves insured that nothing concrete would be done to implement its most horrible parts until after the 2012 presidential election. Thus, if we can take a long stride towards recapturing the House and Senate in this year's election, then complete the job in the 2012 election; and if we can bring a candidate who defeats Barack "Spending Spree" Obama; then Congress can just vote to repeal ObamaCare, and the new (Republican) president will sign it.
And of course, if the Democrats try to filibuster that bill in the Senate, the GOP can just reach into the Democrats' own bag 'o tricks, like Felix the Cat, and pull out any of a number of techniques, fair or foul, that they pioneered to quash filibusters. If worse comes to worst, Congress has simply to fail to enact the necessary appropriations bills and starve ObamaCare to death; while the administration need only fail to enforce the law mandating insurance to strangle ObamaCare while still in the womb.
It must be infinitely easier to kill a new entitlement program that hasn't even started yet than to kill one that has been up and running for two years. The bill (even if passed) is vulnerable entirely because Pelosi couldn't face a vote with the full extent of her perfidity in plain view. Wile E. Democrat, Supergenius, strikes out again.
So let's all keep a stiff upper spine, wait for tomorrow, and see what the old biddy has up her skirts.
January 18, 2010
Thinking About the Eminently Thinkable
Paul Mirengoff at Power Line has been posting a blogseries on the possibility that Scott Brown might beat Martha "Chokely" Coakley in the special election to fill the Senate seat abruptly vacated by Ted Kennedy; Paul's titles series "Thinking About the Unthinkable;" but to me, the possibility is very, very thinkable, hence my own variation. (Paul's most recent entry is here.)
The Democrats certainly find that result "thinkable;" they're thinking very hard about how to circumvent the expressed will of the voters. Brown is running on the firmly expressed intent to be "the 41st senator" to vote against cloture on the Senate version of ObamaCare; both sides agree that the race has turned into a referendum on that bill, so Brown's pledge will become a mandate if he wins: He will not easily be able to back away from it, even if he wanted. (And there's no evidence he wants to back away.)
So what (the Democrats wail) is to be done? From what I've read they're discussing four distinct responses, only one of which is even slightly viable. Remember, we assume for sake of argument that Scott Brown wins the election; if he doesn't, then everything returns to status quo ante.
- Get all the Democrats in both House and Senate -- and they would need nearly every soul who voted for ObamaCare in the former and every Democrat without exception in the latter -- to come to total agreement today or tomorrow and ram the votes through both chambers before the polls close on Tuesday. Considering how bitterly they have all been wrangling, this is unlikely at best.
Delay seating Brown until after the vote, however long that takes. There is, however, one slight flaw to this tactic: It won't work.
As several folks have pointed out, the Republicans don't need 41 votes to stop ObamaCare; the Democrats need 60 votes to move it.
It makes no difference how long "Massachusettes" takes to certify the election; that has no bearing on the vote. The only question is whether the current appointed occupant of that Senate seat, Paul Kirk, can continue to vote after the election... and the law seems fairly clear that he cannot, as Fred Barnes explains in the Weekly Standard.
Kirk's appointment lasts “until election and qualification of the person duly elected to fill the vacancy;” since both Martha Coakley and Scott Brown meet all the qualifications to be a United States Senator, Kirk's appointment would appear to lapse as soon as the election is over Tuesday night. Certification of the election results is not required; as of Tuesday night, when the polls close, the Democrats will have only 59 votes to move ObamaCare... and that's one short.
Forget ObamaCare and all the "negotiation" between liberal Democrats and liberal Democrats; rework the entire bill from the start, but this time involve the Republicans. Pass those elements that both sides more or less agree upon, and enact truly bipartisan health-insurance reform that the American people can support.
- Only one alternative remains, at least that I can see: Get the House Democrats to vote for the Senate bill -- Louisiana Purchase, Kornhusker Kickback, abortion, no public option, and last dirty jot and tittle of it. If the House votes through the Senate bill -- with every section, paragraph, word, and punctuation mark intact -- then it can go straight to Barack H. Obama for signature with no more votes in the Senate, and Scott Brown would be nullified... at least for this particular issue.
But why should the House Democrats enact the Senate bill? There are very substantive differences, as proven by the labyrinthian negotiations between Democrats in the two chambers.
Thought the threat of an ObamaCare failure might move some, quite a few liberals in the House -- along with pro-life Democrats -- might actually prefer no bill at all to the Senate version of ObamaCare. That way, House Democrats can run against the "obstructionist" GOP.
So what could Majority Leader Harry "Pinky" Reid (D-Caesar's Palace, 70%) offer to the liberals and the moderates in the House to induce them to hold their noses and vote for the thoroughly corrupt mulligatawny stew that came out of the Senate negotiations?
The Senate Democrats seem to be promising that if the House Dems go along with the Senate version, then after the bill passes, the Senate will enact whatever revisions the House Democrats demand. In other words, both sides will participate in enacting a fraud, knowing they plan to renegotiate everything (still only among the Democrats!) as soon as the smoke settles. If Reid can scare the House Democrats sufficiently -- half an oaf is better than nothing at all -- the House kvetchers might be willing to put off their feud until after some version of ObamaCare becomes law.
But if that is the path they take, Republicans have a ready-made counterinsurgency strategy: Senate Republicans should announce they will filibuster any "renegotiated" ObamaCare provision, no matter what it is... unless it includes repeal of the insurance mandate and several other poison-pill demands.
What's the point of that? Simply this: Let the House Democrats know that their Senate colleagues may promise corrective bills to ease the sting of passing the Senate version... but they will not be able to deliver. With Sen. Scott Brown denying Democrats the 60th vote for cloture, the Senate GOP can guarantee that the House Democrats won't get any relief from the Senate bill: If the House passes "PinkeyCare," that will be the regime they (and we) must live under.
("Reconciliation" is no option; it only applies to bills or provisions whose primary purpose is to reduce the budget deficit. It cannot be used, for example, to reinstate a public option or to pass the Stupak Amendment. In my opinion, the Senate Parliamentarian, Alan Frumin, would not enter into a conspiracy to subvert his office just to save Reid's hide.)
I believe the pre-emptive announcement of a filibuster would thoroughly undercut any promise that Pinky Reid might make. Therefore, the House Democrats will refuse to go along with him... and the entire ObamaCare edifice might fall to pieces, like the statue of Ozymandias, king of kings, in the Shelly poem of that name.
Stand firm, Republicans; we may yet pull off the rescue of the century!
(Of course, the century is young; maybe we'll stage an even greater rescue some years hence.)
Cross-posted on Hot Air's rogues' gallery...
January 15, 2010
Could this be the magic "exit strategy" for the Democrats to extract themselves from mounting voter opposition to ObamaCare from all sides? Here is my late-night, bleary-eyed scenario:
- The Democrats deliberately drag out discussions on the House-Senate compromise bill.
- They hope and pray that Republican Scott Brown beats Democrat Martha Coakley in the Massachusetts senatorial election. (Actually, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee can ensure Coakley's defeat by forcing her to campaign where voters can see her, rather than in smoke-filled rooms with lobbyists.)
- Assuming Brown wins, the DSCC could lean hard on Massachusetts election officials to certify the election ASAP; if necessary, a couple of SEIU mafiosi can sit on Coakley's head until certification, to prevent her from trying to sue her way into the U.S. Senate.
- After certification and Brown's official seating in the Senate, congressional Democrats quickly finish the bill and submit it to the full Senate.
- Scott Brown makes good his threat to vote against cloture, becoming the 41st and determinative vote.
- The bill dies, everybody's face is saved -- "We did everything we could! It's those darned Republicans!" -- and Democrats can spend 2010 bemoaning the "obstructionist" GOP, rather than having to defend a government-run health-care scheme that everybody hates, Left and Right alike.
It's a win-win scenario! I wonder if the majority is already considering it?
Puckishly cross-posted on Hot Air's rogues' gallery...
January 13, 2010
He Said, She Said
Submitted without (much) comment...
From the Washington Times:
"That is the stupidest thing I've been asked in a long time. That is insane, the suggestion could only come from a demented right wing source," erupted Representative Barney Frank (D - MA), when asked by The Washington Times about what he thought of assertions that Massachusetts Democrats would stall the certification process should Mr. Brown win. "There isn't the slightest possibility of it happening---a way of doing it. That is conspiracy theory at its most contemptible."
Massachusetts's top election official says it could take weeks to certify the results of the upcoming U.S. Senate special election. That delay could let President Barack Obama preserve a key 60th vote for his health care overhaul even if the Republican who has vowed to kill it wins Democrat Edward M. Kennedy's former seat.
Secretary of State William F. Galvin, citing state law, says city and town clerks must wait at least 10 days for absentee ballots to arrive before they certify the results of the Jan. 19 election. They then have five more days to file the returns with his office.
Galvin bypassed the provision in 2007 so his fellow Democrats could gain a House vote they needed to override a veto of then-Republican President George W. Bush, but the secretary says U.S. Senate rules would preclude a similar rush today.
So Democrat William Galvin, Massachusetts' secretary of state, is actually a "demented right wing source," according to Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA, 100%). Who'd'a thunk it?
To paraphrase Mayor Richard J. Daley of (where else?) Chicago, the Democrats are not here to create disenfranchisement... they're here to preserve disenfranchisement!
November 19, 2009
"Not Getting It" as the New Democratic Religion
Many, many years ago -- around the time of the battle of Gettysburg, I think -- I heard a radio commercial for some MBA school. For some unknown reason, it was seared, seared in my mind.
The advert has a number of employees gathered around the water cooler (I suppose; it's radio, not TV). They're all stunned by the recent promotion of Fred, and each gives increasingly bizarre and utterly irrelevant premises why he (one she) should have been promoted instead:
"I keep my desk cleaner than anyone else in the department!"
"I wear a two thousand dollar suit!"
"I offered to paint the boss' house!"
"I'm the tallest guy here!"
Then the last fellow, voice practically breaking in anguish:
Whenever I read stuff like this from the Democrats, that commercial always bubbles up in my memory...
Any tax imposed on financial transactions would have to take effect internationally to prevent Wall Street jobs and related business moving overseas, U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said on Thursday.
"It would have to be an international rule, not just a U.S. rule," Pelosi said at a news conference. "We couldn't do it alone, we'd have to do it as an international initiative."
The top Democrat's comments seemed to spell longer odds for the Wall Street tax, which some Democrats in the House of Representatives are proposing as a way to pay for job-creating legislation.
The "Wall Street tax?" Somehow I missed this one. By "financial transactions," they can only mean what the rest of us call Capitalism. I read further:
The tax, which could raise $150 billion per year, would tap into widespread public outrage at Wall Street in the wake of the financial crisis, but support is lackluster among key legislators.
First, if there is "widespread public outrage at Wall Street," it was surely whipped up by Democrats themselves, especially during the 2008 presidential and congressional elections. But second -- a hundred and fifty billion a year? Over ten years, that works out to -- ah -- let me get my calculator... to $1.5 trillion dollars over ten years! A trillion and a half sucked out of the economy into the maw of federal government... so what is it supposed to buy us? Oh, here it is:
Democrats in the House aim to pass legislation designed to create more jobs before the end of the year to ease double-digit unemployment levels that threaten an economic recovery. The Senate is expected to act early next year.
The bill could include increased road construction, money to help states avoid layoffs of police and other public employees, and a further extension of unemployment benefits, Pelosi said.
Other options include extending health-insurance subsidies for the jobless, a tax credit for businesses that create jobs, more funding for energy-efficiency programs, and low-interest loans for small businesses.
Well for Pete's sake -- Nancy Pelosi has sideburns!
We're currently experiencing the worst unemployment rates federally and statewide in decades; businesses, especially small businesses, have been crippled by excessive regulation, soaring energy costs, skyrocketing health-care costs, and of course by draconian taxation levied by all levels of government.
So what is the Democrats' solution? It's as rational as pi: Pass another massive tax on "financial transactions" (wouldn't that hit everybody, not just Wall Street?) -- in order to "create more jobs." "Oh, of course we all support that Capitalism stuff, something about buyers and sellers... but surely you understand that companies can't create jobs; that requires federal legislation!"
And it sure worked out well the last time, didn't it? I mean way, way back in February, when the Democrats enacted the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 -- the first "stimulus" bill, without which unemployment might have risen as high as 8.2%. It worked... it stimulated the economy so much that now they're talking about a massive new tax on Capitalism to pay for government-created jobs.
Squeaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Haight-Ashbury, 100%) enthuses about the scheme:
"This is just something that is on the table, it hasn't been developed to a high priority, but it has substantial currency in our caucus," Pelosi said.
I find it increasingly hard to believe that liberals and Democrats are merely stupid, too dense to understand the fundamental premise of the market: That the "invisible hand" of the market allows buyers and sellers to find each other... so long as the "invisible foot" of government doesn't trip them up.
More and more, I am driven to the conclusion that the liberals in Congress and the White House reject the doctrine of Capitalism as heresy against their religion of government-enforced altruism... much the way many Fundamentalist Christians and Jews reject evolution in the (mistaken, I argue) belief that evolutionary biology denies God. Liberals appear to believe that altruism, complete selflessness, is the only moral way to resolve "crises" like hunger, health care, poverty, and security. Worse, they believe that altruism is even more effective when embraced at gunpoint.
A true altruist will take food from his own starving child to give to the starving child of a stranger; he is harsher on his friends than his enemies, because he must deny all forms of self interest, including sentiment.
But liberalism demands not only forced personal altruism but forced national altruism as well; so they cripple their own country to empower the worst and strangest countries in the world, just to prove how selfless America is (when driven by Democrats). Thus they make us bow before kings and fawn over tyrants, then kick our democratic allies in the shins and betray them to their enemies.
This cannot be sheer idiocy; never attribute to stupidity what can adequately be explained by malice: Leaders of mass movements usually know exactly what they're doing. Alas, in this era, the strongest mass religion is the First Church of Enforced Altruism... and it may require a religious civil war to take back our country.
Cross-posted on Hot Air's rogues' gallery...
November 18, 2009
How to Win Fiends and Infuriate Voters
The Washington D.C. City Council is poised to slap same-sex marriage (SSM) on the table in our nation's capital, whether the citizens want it or not. And now, to add insult to penury, the District of Columbia Board of Elections and Ethics [sic] has made its own contribution to democracy... it has rejected a traditional-marriage initiative from the ballot:
The D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics on Tuesday denied a petition to put a ballot initiative before city voters that would define marriage as between a man and a woman.
The decision came the same day the D.C. Council scheduled a Dec. 1 initial vote on a bill to legalize same-sex marriage.
The two-member elections board said it could not accept the Marriage Initiative of 2009, filed by the Stand4MarriageDC coalition, because it "authorizes discrimination prohibited under the District of Columbia Human Rights Act." About 100 people testified during a hearing on the initiative last month.
"We have considered all of the testimony presented to the board and understand the desire to place this question on the ballot," board Chairman Errol R. Arthur said. "However, the laws of the District of Columbia preclude us from allowing this initiative to move forward."
Let's put this in context: The Board has ruled that it cannot allow the citizens of D.C. to decide whether to ban SSM, because if they vote to do so -- which they likely would -- that would "violate" the very law it just replaced!
Now in most jurisdictions, if citizens enact a new law that supercedes an old one, then the superceded law is no longer operative. It is defunct. It has ceased to exist. It is an ex-law. If it wasn't nailed to its perch, it would be pushing up daisies.
But evidently in D.C., laws passed by the Council abide forever and and a day; and they can never be overturned by the people, despite their supposed citizens' initiative. New York is shortly to have "show-trials," but Washington D.C. already has "show-votes."
But of course, when the party in power* is so consistently, relentlessly, belligerently opposed to its own constituents, it's no wonder they fear democracy almost as much as do the mullahs of Iran. As H.L. Mencken is reputed to have said -- or written -- or thought up -- or wished he had thought up -- "If the government can't trust the people, why don't they just dissolve them and elect a new people?"
I would not be shocked to discover the Board and the City Council right now poring over the lawbooks, trying to find some precedent to do exactly that.
* The thirteen-member Council of the District of Columbia comprises 11 Democrats -- and 2 "independents."
Cross-posted on Hot Air's rogues' gallery...
November 17, 2009
The Commissar Vanishes - Leaving Only His Smile
Strongman Attorney General Eric Holder has announced formation of a new "Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force;" the new task force was created via Executive Order by the stroke of Barack H. Obama's magic signing pen:
"Mortgages, securities and corporate fraud schemes have eroded the public's confidence in the nation's financial markets and have led to a growing sentiment that Wall Street does not play by the same rules as Main Street," Atty. Gen. Eric H. Holder Jr. said at a Washington news conference. "Unscrupulous executives, Ponzi scheme operators and common criminals alike have targeted the pocketbooks and the retirement accounts of middle-class Americans and, in many cases, devastated entire families' futures."
"We will not allow these actions to go unpunished," he continued. "By punishing criminals for their actions, we will send a strong message to anyone looking to profit from the misfortunes of others."
Its mandate -- and its targets -- are clear:
Holder and other officials said they have been vigorously pursuing financial fraud cases already and that the task force would build off those efforts. The SEC, which has been severely criticized for missing numerous warning signals about Bernard L. Madoff's Ponzi scheme, has reorganized and streamlined its enforcement efforts and is launching special units to focus on derivatives and securitized products, insider trading and market manipulation, and fraud by hedge funds and investment advisors, Khuzami said.
In a Bloomberg article, Holder gets even more specific:
The aim of the new task force is “to prevent another meltdown from happening,” Attorney General Eric Holder said. “We will be relentless in our investigation of corporate and financial wrongdoing.”
Does anybody notice what is missing from this list? How about the government officials whose corrupt regulation caused the housing collapse in the first place?
- The members of Congress who enacted the Community Reinvestment Act in 1977;
- The Jimmy Carter administration officials who flogged it through;
- The Bill Clinton administration officials who hijacked it, using it as a blunt instrument to force lenders to lend too much money to people too poor (and too irresponsible) to pay it back;
- The current members of Congress who blocked George W. Bush's attempts to repeal some of the regulatory mandate-madness, which he saw was leading to exactly the collapse that occurred;
- And of course, those members of Congress and officials of Fannie Mae and Freddy Mac who were neck-deep in the slime of the Countrywide Financial scandal, including Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad (D-ND, 95%) and Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee Chairman Christopher Dodd (D-CT, 100%) -- both still chairing the very committees responsible for "overseeing" the very institutions who were pushed by the very same CRA to lend to the very folks whose greed for more house than they could afford led to the very financial crisis swamping us today.
All of whom are today pushing for an even more robust Community Reinvestment Act -- and not a single one of whom will be targeted by Obama's spanking new Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force (which is totally different, of course, from the "Corporate Fraud Task Force," which President Bush established in 2002). And so, having wrought his havoc and accepted his bribes, the commissar vanishes yet again, leaving only his mysterious, enigmatic, Cheshire-Cat smile.
Thank goodness our Attorney General has his head screwed on straight.
Cross-posted on Hot Air's rogues' gallery...
November 6, 2009
Squirmer of the House Nancy Pelosi Doesn't Have the Votes... Yet
I picture Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Haight-Ashbury, 100%) writhing and twisting in frustration; with all those Democrats, surely she can scrape together 218 to vote for SqueakerCare!
Surely not, at least not yet:
House Democrats acknowledged they don't yet have the votes to pass a sweeping overhaul of the nation's health care system, and signaled they may push back the vote until Sunday or early next week.
Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., told reporters in a conference call Friday that the make-or-break vote on President Barack Obama's push to make health coverage part of the social safety net could face delay. Democrats were originally hoping to pass the bill on Saturday_and officially, that's still the plan....
Hoyer acknowledged that Democrats are still short of the 218 votes they need to pass the bill. "There are many people who are still trying to get a comfort level that this is the right thing to do," he said. "We're very close."
So what's the hold up? Yep, the same old overreaching -- our secret weapon against the Left! Evidently, Democrats still can't agree on coverage for abortions and of illegal immigrants:
But Democrats have yet to resolve a intraparty disputes over abortion funding and illegal immigrants' access to medical coverage. They cleared one hurdle Friday when liberals supporting a government-run Medicare-for-all system withdrew their demand for a floor vote.
Translation: some Democrats demand SqueakerCare pay for abortions -- and demand it cover illegal aliens. If there was no power faction insisting on such coverage, it would be easy to insert language banning it.
Here's a point that hasn't gotten enough coverage, I think: La Casa Blanca has endorsed the House version of the bill; which means that President Barack H. Obama has formally renounced his earlier pledge to keep the cost below $900 billion over ten years. Even by the Congressional Budget Office's reckoning, SqueakerCare would cost $1.2 trillion; and the CBO is obliged to accept all the economic premises of Congress, however ludicrous they may be... for example, that Congress will be able to loot half a trillion dollars from Medicare, that they'll be able to raise vast taxes in an election year, that those taxes won't cause a recession, and so forth.
Evidently, each and every solemn oath that eructates from the Obamacle's mouth is what Mary Poppins would call a "pie-crust promise: easily made and easily broken."
Anent the abortion and illegal immigrant controversies, Democrats have run straight into the fundamental buzzsaw of nationalizing health care: There are many things that a private company can do but the government cannot. So what happens under liberal fascism, where the federal government takes control of the private sector? Here is the dilemma in a nuthouse:
- A private insurance company in a Capitalist system can offer coverage for abortions if it chooses; a great many do so.
- A private company can choose not to demand proof of legal residency before insuring a subscriber; many insurance companies follow this route.
- But when the federal government operates its own insurance plan -- and especially when it rigs the game to force more and more people into that government plan -- then there are only two options for those particularly controversial issues:
- The government plan can cover them; in which case you have the federal government funding abortion and paying for coverage of illegal aliens;
- Or the government plan can refuse to cover them; in which case, hundreds of thousands of women forced into the government plan can no longer get their insurance to pay for their abortions; and millions of illegal aliens will lose the insurance they currently pay for and rely upon.
Thus in the House and Senate, either you have moderate Democrats up in arms about federally funded abortions and a free health-care ride for illegals -- in which case the bill goes up in smoke, because there are too many Blue Dogs to ignore; or else fewer women get abortions and fewer illegals get medical insurance -- and the ultra-liberal mainstream of the Democratic Party jumps ship, leaving the bill in even worse trouble.
The only solution would be to bribe three or four Blue Dogs to go ahead and vote for the bill, knowing they will likely lose their seats in 2010. For example, the One can offer lucrative positions in the administration to any Democrat who loses reelection next year; or the Democratic leadership can offer specific Blue Dogs powerful committee chairmanships if they betray their constituents -- plus a ton of campaign cash in 2010, in both the primary and the general elections.
I assume that's what is going on; and Squeaker Pelosi's insistance that she will have the votes represents her certainty that at least that many moderate Democrats are eager to be bribed.
But the fact that she does not yet have the votes indicates either that they're holding out for a super-duper bribe... or else that Pelosi's fundamental axiom -- that all Democrats are enthusiastic participants in the Democratic culture of corruption -- is a misapprehension based upon projecting her own ethos onto other people.
The next few days will tell us which. Since we're talking about Democrats, I suspect the Squeaker's scheme will ultimately bear fruit; she'll find three or four Blue Dogs corrupt enough to accept money and power in exchange for selling their constituents down the river. But I'm always open to persuasion by hard data.
Cross-posted on Hot Air's rogues' gallery...
October 15, 2009
Free the Gitmo 220!
Say -- let's bring Khalid Sheikh Mohammed to the United States to be tried in a civilian court! What could go wrong?
The House of Representatives voted on Thursday to allow foreign terrorism suspects from the Guantanamo Bay prison into the United States to face trial.
The 307 to 114 vote removes one of many roadblocks the Obama administration faces as it tries to empty the internationally condemned prison by January.
Hm, here's a plausible scenario:
- KSM (you may pick the vicious terrorist mass-murderer wannabe of your choice) is brought to the United States for a criminal trial in civilian court.
- Since he would then be granted all the rights normally allowed defendants accused of carjacking or check kiting, he gets the attorney of his choice and full access to discovery.
- CAIR and the Muslim American Society find him an attorney recently moved here from Pakistan, Abdul al-Yazid.
- Mr. al-Yazid immediately demands tens of thousands of highly classified documents related to the capture, detention, and interrogation of Mr. Mohammed, including all intelligence that led to his capture in the first place, sources and methods included.
- The Department of Defense and the White House balk, refusing to hand over such sensitive intelligence to an attorney who has disturbing ties to al-Qaeda and the Taliban.
- The liberal judge rules that without all this intelligence, Mr. Mohammed cannot receive a fair trial. Surely he must have access to all evidence that led to his capture, just as the man arrested for receiving stolen goods has the right to see the evidence that led to the search warrant that led to his arrest.
- The Executive is adamant: No vital intelligence will be given to the al-Qaeda lawyer.
- The Judge dismisses the case, releasing the innocent back to Pakistan, whence he had been captured in 2003. (Assuming Pakistan would even take him, which is doubtful; more likely, he would have to be released here in the United States, there being nowhere else that would accept him.)
- KSM rejoins al-Qaeda -- I've heard rumors there may be some terrorists in Pakistan -- as a top general; jubilation among jihadi around the world.
- The Pakistan government ends up giving the Taliban its own territory, to join with the Taliban tribal territory in Afghanistan that the Barack H. Obama administration reportedly is mulling.
- Khalid Sheikh Mohammed becomes the first Sultan of Talibanistan.
What could possibly go wrong?
There are approximately 220 likely terrorists currently held in the Guantanamo Bay Detention Facility. The One wants to close the facility. We can't possibly find "friendly" countries to take all those detainees, especially since most come from countries that even President B.O. would admit are not exactly cheerleaders for America.
Ergo, the only option eventually will be for the president to release some significant portion of those 220 right here in America... or else admit that he cannot do what he ordered done his second day in office -- even before being nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize!
Barack Obama must pick one of two choices:
- Put American security at catastrophic risk;
- Admit something personally embarassing that makes him look an utter fool.
What could go wrong?
October 7, 2009
Confusticated Conservatives in Congress
Why is it that Republicans and conservatives in Congress are so easy to bamboozle with Candyland promises of government largess? Honestly, it drives me nuts (which may not be that far of a trip).
Here, riddle me this: How many things are wrong in this picture?
The idea of a tax credit for companies that create new jobs, something the federal government has not tried since the 1970s, is gaining support among economists and Washington officials grappling with the highest unemployment in a generation.
The proposal has some bipartisan appeal among politicians eager both to help their unemployed constituents and to encourage small-business development. Legislators on Capitol Hill and President Obama’s economic team have been quietly researching the policy for several weeks.
“There is a lot of traction for this kind of idea,” said Representative Eric Cantor of Virginia, the Republican whip. “If the White House will take the lead on this, I’m fairly positive it would be welcomed in a bipartisan fashion.”
You see, this is why I'm loathe to support a congressman running for president: Even when he's (relatively) conservative, as is Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA, 92%), Washington D.C. exudes a magical corruption field that sucks him into the Big Government maw... and like the Borg, assimilates him. Resistance is futile.
Here's the syllogism in a nutbag:
- Jack up business taxes to be the highest in the civilized world. (Republicans will cheerfully help if you tell them it will "reduce the deficit!")
- Announce highly selective tax credits for businesses who toe the federal line.
- Bully putative "conservatives" into supporting these temporary selective tax credits -- hey, it's almost like a tax cut! -- by threatening to tell on them to their constituents. (Note: Some conservatives are already so corrupted or senile that they don't need any bullying; they bully themselves, like good "citizens of the world.")
- Use the credits (and the threat of cutting them off) to manipulate businesses, thwart the workings of the market, and cripple Capitalism.
- When the scheme explodes in America's face like a trick cigar, blame the Republicans in Congress who voted against it (they voted for high taxes!), the ones who voted for it (they offered amendments to the bill!), and the "previous administration." Laugh all the way to the polls.
How long do the tax credits last? Guess what: That's how long the jobs last, too. Since they're fake jobs -- by definition, a job created by a tax credit is a job that would be uneconomic without the credit -- as soon as the distorting factor (the credit) disappears, so too does the job.
You really want to create jobs, permanent jobs? Try this approach instead:
- Dramatically reduce business income tax.
- Repeal the capital-gains tax: We want to encourage investment, not discourage it by taxation.
- Repeal the estate tax -- at all levels. There is no moral reason why the government should get a cut when a parent leaves money or property to a child, or an uncle to a niece or nephew, or anybody to anbody else; that money has already been taxed.
- Meaningfully reform the tort system.
We already know that reforming the medical malpractice tort system would save the medical industry between $60 billion and $200 billion per year; taking the mean average, that's $1.3 trillion savings over ten years -- more than enough to subsidize medical insurance for the deserving poor. And that doesn't even count how much would be saved by the pharmaceutical and medical-device industries.
(Don't be misled; the big savings don't come from reducing medical malpractice judgments and settlements; that's only a small portion of the cost of "jackpot justice." The real savings come from eliminating ludicrously wasteful "defensive medicine" practices, whose only purpose is to cover the backsides of doctors in case they get sued by John Edwards.)
Now magnify that savings across the other 7/8ths of the American economy; let's say that non-medical businesses would only reap half the savings of doctors and hospitals. Even at that, a real and significant tort reform for all cases would likely save our private sector more than half a trillion dollars each and every year. That's over $5,000,000,000,000.00 in that same ten-year window. And it would still protect consumers and innocent (or not so innocent) victims.
Sorry for the digression; back to the plan.
- Reduce government business regulation; much of it (not all of it) is really designed to drive small competitors out of competition with big corporations -- since the latter have full-time legal-compliance staff.
- For banks and other financial corporations, get rid of mark-to-market accounting to increase reserves and free up credit; I think this may already be easing, but let's kill it off entirely.
- Strangle Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac like Hercules throttled the twin serpents in his cradle.
- Refrain from passing any health-care bill that includes mandates, government options, or any other intrusive government meddling.
- Refrain from passing a huge tax on energy.
- While you're at it, make the personal income tax completely flat -- and set it fairly low. This gives consumers more money to spend buying products. Which, you know, helps businesses that sell those products.
I guarantee this will improve the economy, get credit flowing to businesses again, ramp up consumer spending, and cause a much greater increase in hiring than would some targeted, temporary tax credits from the feds... especially since the latter will be accompanied by the hammer of massive tax increases on those same businesses.
Yeesh; why can't Eric Cantor suss this one out? This is Economics 101, for heaven's sake.
Post-Toasteed to Hot Air's rogues' gallery...
October 2, 2009
Join the Senate and Don't See the World
From the very day (June 28th, 2009) that José Manuel "Mel" Zelaya Rosales was impeached and removed from office by the Honduran supreme court and arrested by the military -- the organization tasked with removing presidents under the Honduran constitution -- the Barack H. Obama administration cast their lot with the so-called "Bolivarist." Zelaya was impeached, arrested for treason, and exiled to Costa Rica.
Like many who claim the appellation "Bolivarist," Zelaya is actually a Chavezista. Far from being a liberator from foreign domination, like Simón Bolívar, Zelaya is a pure fascist, just like his old pal (and Obama's), Oogo Chavez. (Chavez gave Obama a copy of his own book as a present; I wonder if the One is still poring over it, highlighting relevant passages and adding triple exclamation points?)
The Obamatons, aided and abetted by the congressional Democrats, insist that Zelaya was removed by a coup d'état, which is a military takeover of the civilian government; as such, they have cut off all sorts of financial aid and have leaned heavily on de-facto President Roberto Micheletti to resign and somehow reinstate the would-be dictator-for-life Zelaya. This would allow Z-Mel to continue his quest to become the Oogo of Honduras, regardless of any crybaby objections by the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of the Honduras government.
(Micheletti is a civilian and happens to be of the same political party of Zelaya himself. Some coup! Perhaps the Honduran "coup-mongers" need to reread Edward Luttwak's operations manual on the subject.)
But this is all prologue for a different point. Anybody who travels to Honduras and honestly investigates the current situation will see that there is no military dictatorship, hence no "coup d'état." Honduras has an elected civilian government, a functioning supreme court, and it's headed for presidential elections next month. One would think that before our own Congress acts to overturn this putative "coup," they would at least send a few people there to check things out.
One would be wrong. I don't know of any congressional delegation that has journeyed to that nation to check on the claims made by Obama or his Number Two, Hillary Clinton. But of course, if a senator is unwilling even to read a bill prior to voting for it, it's ridiculous to expect him actually to look at on-site evidence before making up his mind about events in a foreign country.
But in fact, a very good senator, Jim DeMint (R-SC, 100%), wants to do just that: fly down to Honduras with three Republican representatives -- Doug Lamborn (CO, 100%), Peter Roskam (IL, 96%), and Aaron Schock (IL, not yet rated) -- on a fact-finding tour.
DeMint is a member of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, which has oversight over President Obama's foreign policy... including, of course, the president's attempt to withhold funding to Honduras -- in the hope, one can only presume, that Honduras will use its military to overturn its entire civilian government. (Say, isn't that just what the One accused Honduras of doing in the first place?) Since the committee might be voting on the issue, it makes some prima facie sense for members of that committee to take a look-see for themselves.
But the chair of the Foreign Relations Committee is none other than our ancient enemy, Sen. JFK (D-MA, 95%); Kerry is angry at DeMint for holding up confirmation hearings on a couple of Obamic appointees; DeMint wants an impartial investigation of the Honduras brouhaha before he'll cooperate on confirmation hearings -- a time-honored position most recently employed by, let's see if I can recall, by the Democratic caucus in the U.S. Senate during the Bush administration. I seem to recall quite a lot of blocked appointments; evidently, it's not such an outre maneuver, as far as Democrats should be concerned.
But it seems to have infuriated Sen. Kerry, for he canceled all funding of DeMint's trip and even ordered our armed forces not to fly DeMint to Honduras:
A simmering feud over U.S. policy toward Latin America burst into the open Thursday when Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.) tried to prevent a fact-finding trip to Honduras by a Republican senator who is blocking two important diplomatic appointments....
As head of the Foreign Relations Committee, Kerry can withhold committee funds for travel and deny permission for the use of military aircraft. But he had never before used that power to block another senator's travel, his aides said.
Kerry makes no bones that he's abusing his authority in order to extort DeMint into lifting his hold:
"These bullying tactics by the Obama administration and Senator Kerry must stop, and we must be allowed to get to the truth in Honduras," DeMint said in a statement. His spokesman, Wesley Denton, called Kerry's action "unprecedented."
Kerry fired back in a news release: "Senator DeMint's statement wins an A for 'audacity.' Thanks to his intransigence, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee can't even hold hearings on our policy in Central and South America."
The statement, issued by Kerry's spokesman, Frederick Jones, added that when DeMint allows a vote on the appointment of the two diplomats, "the Committee will approve his travel to Honduras."
Kerry did not explain how blocking two executive appointments would prevent his committee from "hold[ing] hearings on our policy in Central and South America." It would seem the senior senator from Massachusetts could hold hearings anytime he chose.
Perhaps what JFK really means is that DeMint's refusal to rubber-stamp the Obamacle's oracular decree (that the legal impeachment of a president is the same thing as a coup d'état) threatens to force the committee actually to examine the issue, when all they really want to do is applaud the president and MoveOn.
This is turning into a huge and unexpectedly rancorous argument:
The administration, along with all other governments in the hemisphere, branded the action a "coup." It also cut off millions of dollars in aid and suspended the U.S. visas of Honduran officials....
DeMint and a handful of other conservative Republicans have said Zelaya's removal was legal because he had violated a constitutional ban by trying to extend his presidential term. They have protested that the Obama administration is supporting a politician with close ties to Venezuela's leftist president, Hugo Chavez.
By "a handful of other conservative Republicans," the Post means to include, without note, a certain fellow named Miguel Estrada. Estrada was nominated by President George W. Bush to the D.C. Circuit Court -- his appointment was blocked by Democrats, who didn't want a conservative Hispanic on that court, whence he might rise to become the first Hispanic on the Supreme Court; thus he never got an up-or-down vote -- say, there seems to be a lot of that going around!
Prior to his nomination, Miguel Estrada was an Assistant to the Solicitor General during the George H. W. Bush Administration. He is also a Honduran immigrant, born in the capital city of Tegucigalpa.
He published an excellent legal analysis of Zelaya's removal in the Los Angeles Times, of all places; we covered it, of course; see "The Curious Case of Tegucigalpa's Traveling Traitor," linked below. (The "traveling traitor" in question is Zelaya, not Estrada.) Estrada concluded:
As noted, Article 239 states clearly that one who behaves as Zelaya did in attempting to change presidential succession ceases immediately to be president. If there were any doubt on that score, the Congress removed it by convening immediately after Zelaya's arrest, condemning his illegal conduct and overwhelmingly voting (122 to 6) to remove him from office. The Congress is led by Zelaya's own Liberal Party (although it is true that Zelaya and his party have grown apart as he has moved left). Because Zelaya's vice president had earlier quit to run in the November elections, the next person in the line of succession was Micheletti, the Liberal leader of Congress. He was named to complete the remaining months of Zelaya's term.
It cannot be right to call this a "coup." Micheletti was lawfully made president by the country's elected Congress. The president is a civilian. The Honduran Congress and courts continue to function as before. The armed forces are under civilian control. The elections scheduled for November are still scheduled for November. Indeed, after reviewing the Constitution and consulting with the Supreme Court, the Congress and the electoral tribunal, respected Cardinal Oscar Andres Rodriguez Maradiaga recently stated that the only possible conclusion is that Zelaya had lawfully been ousted under Article 239 before he was arrested, and that democracy in Honduras continues fully to operate in accordance with law. All Honduran bishops joined Rodriguez in this pronouncement.
But Miguel Estrada is just part of that rag-tag gaggle of conservative carpers against hopey-changitude.
Finally, Jim DeMint appealed to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY, 80%); McConnell pulled some strings and got DeMint his Air Force plane. Thus was the Kerry gambit thwarted.
But this begs the question: What the heck is the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee doing, preventing a member from traveling to a political hot spot on a fact-finding mission, about an issue that is certain to come up before the committee, if it's not there already?
Remember this arrogant attempt by John Kerry well: When minority members of the United States Senate are prevented from traveling to see the world -- when seeing the world might turn them against the policy of the majority -- that's just part of the "hope and change" and the "new era" of "civility" and "post-partisanship" that President Obama has promised us.
Seeing as it's not unlikely that the Democrats will find themselves in the minority in either 2011 or 2013, it's good to bear in mind the new powers that the GOP may soon enjoy.
Here are the earlier chapters of this continuing soap opera:
- Old Shoes and Barackends
- Piddling Away Greatness
- The Curious Case of Tegucigalpa's Traveling Traitor
- Reuters Still Stuck on "Coup"-pid
- Coup on You!
- Did Zelaya Pull a Bank Heist Before Skedaddling?
- HeistWatch - Day 1
- Meanwhile, Back in the Murmuring Pines and the Hemlocks...
- Meet Manuel Zeloonie-Toons
Cross-posted on Hot Air's rogues' gallery...
September 29, 2009
The Key to the Mystery of Democratic Perversion
I quote now from an interview given by Roman Polanski to the novelist Martin Amis (son of Kingsley) in 1979, the year after Polanski fled the United States and went on the lam to avoid serving the additional 48 days in jail that the judge threatened (bringing his total up to 90 days) -- for orally, vaginally, and anally raping a thirteen year old girl (hat tip to Patterico).
You will note I have asterisked out a particular word; but it's obvious what is found in the original interview:
If I had killed somebody, it wouldn’t have had so much appeal to the press, you see? But… f***ing, you see, and the young girls. Judges want to f*** young girls. Juries want to f*** young girls. Everyone wants to f*** young girls!
For the record, when Polanski ejaculates "Everyone wants to f*** young girls!", what he means is, "Everyone wants to drug a thirteen year old girl and force her first to engage in fellatio, then intercourse, then anal intercourse, all against her will and out of sheer terror."
This illustrates one of the most important points to understand about liberals: They project their own evil and perversion on the rest of us, so that they will not feel uniquely vile and disgusting:
Liberals tend to be extraordinarily racist; they believe racial minorities are incapable of succeeding without special government help, and they insist that all racial minorities follow the rules set for their race by white liberals. They realize what they really feel about blacks, Hispanics, and other "funny colored people," but they don't want to think they're uniquely racist.
So they accused everyone else of being racist too.
They're just as sexist as they are racist; women are just PLTs who need help from Big Daddy government to achieve even a modest level of success. But they feel creepy harboring such thoughts -- and enabling such sexual predators as Teddy Kennedy, Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT, 100%), and their "waitress sandwich" sexual assaults -- and don't want to think they're uniquely misogynist.
So they accuse everyone else of being sexist too.
Liberals, who have a deep-rooted sense of entitlement and no compunction against enjoying the privileges of power, tend to engage in the most brazen and extraordinary acts of corruption; most recently, witness the Countrywide plc sweetheart mortgage scandal for "Friends of Angelo". But with all the vicious rhetoric they spew against unbridled greed and the moral immunity bought by power, they don't want to think that they themselves are the real exemplars of such corruption.
So they call everyone else corrupt as well.
This is the standard liberal pattern: They project their own sins on the rest of us to "spread the guilt around," to paraphrase the Guiltmonger in Chief. So when Polanski says "Everyone wants to f*** young girls," we should conclude that he understands, in some dark depth of his soul (such as it is), that his tastes are not merely perverted but horribly so. Yet because he doesn't want to believe that his amorality is uniquely eldritch, he accuses everyone else of likewise being a child rapist at heart -- "See? It's not just me!"
(One of the segments of the 1993 movie Shortcuts, directed by the depraved Robert Altman, has an eerily similar theme of expiation by super-projection.)
This is the liberal way. And now we have Barack H. Obama as president -- a man who swam in exactly such currents of hatred, false witness, slander, and anti-Americanism his entire adult life, in the bear pits of Chicago's progressive "salons" -- and its Trinity United Church of Christ. Who will Obama accuse of his own projected sins, just to assuage his own gnawing sense of secret guilt?
God help the United States of America.
Cross-posted to Hot Air's rogues' gallery...
September 25, 2009
Maloney Baloney II: Slice It Very, Very Thin
Just a snippet from the hearings called by Rep. Carolyn B. "Balarky" Maloney (D-NY, 95%) -- to which "just three of 20 House and Senate members showed up," including the Chairwoman. Here is an urgent plea from one "panelist", a sociology professor from Princeton. (Does panelist rather than "witness" mean he wasn't sworn at by the committee?)
What's more, Paul Starr of Princeton University said, newspapers differ from other corporate interests.
"The press has not been regarded, and should not be regarded, as just another industry. Government has sought to advance it because a democratic political system cannot function without a diverse, free and independent source of news," said Mr. Starr, a professor of sociology and public affairs.
I couldn't agree more; too bad we haven't had a "diverse, free and independent" news medium for decades. Do you think the homogenous, constrained, self-censoring, and blindly liberal nature of newspapers and television "news" shows may be one reason why they're hemorrhaging readers and viewers like the blood gushing from Monty Python's black knight, after King Arthur cut off his right arm and leg?
One more illuminating point, then we MoveOn to more compelling topics; Ms. Maloney excitedly proclaimed:
Unless something is done, and done fast, it's likely that many metropolitan areas may soon have no local daily newspapers, and that would damage our democracy.
The nearest local newspaper to the metropolitan area that includes Lizard Central is the Los Angeles Times. I can only register my heartfelt hope that Maloney is right, and that the Times will soon fold. I strongly suspect that it's the continued existence of such inaptly named "newspapers" that is truly damaging our democracy.
September 24, 2009
Congressional hearings begin today on "the impact of the newspaper industry's financial problems." We previously discussed these hearings, and the legislation they're intended to spawn, in Obama Looking Forward to Nationalizing Newspapers.
The hearings are chaired by Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY, 95%), Chair of the House Joint Economic Committee. Here is her statement on the purpose of the hearings:
"I am holding the Joint Economic Committee hearing to examine the importance of newspapers to our democracy throughout our nation's history and the treacherous economic landscape they face," Maloney wrote in a statement to E&P. "The witnesses will review alternative funding options for newspapers in our new and ever-changing electronic age. Since the ratification of the Bill of Rights, the federal government has acknowledged that the press is an institution which is afforded special protections by name. In this spirit, I think that the government can help foster solutions for this industry in ways which protect the independence of newspapers and enables their objective reporting to thrive in a new economic and media climate."
Yes, the Divine Ms. M. is correct; our Constitution gives "special protections" to the press... protections against government control and interference. Including, one would presume, government funding of newspapers -- but only those that print "the truth," of course. You certainly wouldn't want us to fund newspapers that printed lies about the president and Congress!
But Maloney's malarky is mindblowing... for in a single breath, she hints at government subsidies to support newspapers -- and declares this would protect their independence!
At least Sarah Palin had to be parodied by somebody else, an actual comedian, Tina Fey. These ultralefties are perfectly capable of parodying themselves.
(Cf. Schoolkids being led in a cultic chant proclaiming "Barack Hussein Obama" America's messiah. I recant my previous sentence; these people are beyond parody.)
September 12, 2009
Once Again, Lizards Proven Smarter Than Democrats!
Aeons and millennia ago -- almost a year ago, actually -- we published a piece purporting to explain just what had happened to bring the financial heads to their knees. We discussed sub-prime mortages, how they were repackaged into Mortgage Backed Securities (MBSs) and Collateralized Debt Obligations (CDOs) (turning mortgages into bond-like securities), toxic assets, and so forth. This post spawned numerous others, until we had published literally thousands of words on the original "stimulus package" put together by then-Secretary of the Treasury Henry Paulson and (still current) Chairman of the Federal Reserve Ben Bernanke (all right, technically, he's "Chairman of the Board of Governors of the United States Federal Reserve." Is it really that important?)
Why the financial collapse?
First, what was the original problem? Here is our first cut at describing it, from Democrats Try to Hijack the So-Called "Bailout":
So what started as mortgages -- ranging from very secure prime mortgages, which are doing fine, to lousy subprime mortgages for too much money to borrowers who really didn't have either the credit history or income to justify such loans, many of which are currently in default 60 days or more -- were, by the magic of "securitization," turned into bond-like securities; and in the process, many of the bad and even defaulted loans were transmaugrified into AAA-rated investments....
But defaults, of course, are where the whole pyramid scheme broke down. While housing prices continued to rise, everybody was happy and there were few defaults. But starting a couple of years ago, when the housing bubble burst and the mortgage default rate shot up, a bunch of banks found themselves holding very insecure securities, losing money hand over teakettle. The crash began among the lenders and spread to secondary markets (the MBSs and CDOs) and even tertiary markets (insurance underwriters like AIG). In short order, institutions all over the world found themselves holding pieces of paper whose value was impossible to determine -- which are referred to as toxic assets.
Toxic assets are illiquid, meaning they cannot be bought or sold because nobody knows how much to offer for them; they are frozen. If you hang onto them, they might regain some value later... or they could disappear completely. Worse, illiquid securities see their ratings drop; and current law forbids some types of funds from holding anything but AAAs... which means they may be forced by law to sell -- but unable to sell because of illiquidity!
Not only that, but current law also requires that such securities be "marked to market," meaning they must be valued at the last price offered by some institution that was desperate to sell -- because of the law in the previous paragraph. Thus, even institutions that didn't have to sell their toxic assets had to reprice them; this meant that a number of financial institutions suddenly did not have sufficient reserves for the amount of loans or leveraging they had out. That meant they needed to get hard cash and fast... which meant they would have to panic-sell a bunch of securities, precipitating a new round of re-rating and re-valuating.
Eventually, nobody had a clue what anything was worth anymore; and nearly every financial institution in the world, it seems, was involved up to the fourth cervical vertebra in this mess.
It was that uncertainty that caused the mortgage market to collapse.
We further refined the problem in a later post, Is It Adios to Capitalism - or Only Au Revoir?:
We've all been looking at this problem from the wrong perspective: We keep thinking of the rescue plan as injecting liquidity into the banking system and other credit markets; but the real need is to inject, not liquidity, but information; liquidity is just a seredipitous side effect.
The more I read about the current world fiscal crisis, the more I believe that it's not a market failure, not a credit failure, not a mortgage failure, and not a liquidity failure: Those are all symptoms of the real, underlying failure.
What has actually failed is the world information supply. Simply put, everything related to finance, to trade, to buying and selling -- in short, everything connected with any kind of a market -- depends upon access to timely, honest, accurate, and believable information (hereafter "THABI"). For an example I have used before, you cannot buy a car based solely on a grainy picture in a newspaper, because you cannot put a value on it; does it even have an engine?
You need THABI before you can make an offer. And the same is true for mortgages, mortgage-backed securities (MBS), credit default swaps (CDS), construction loans, business letters of credit (LOC), and so forth. Without sufficient THABI, no seller has any idea what price to ask the buyer, and no buyer has any idea what price to offer the seller. Buyers and sellers cannot come to a "meeting of minds," which means nobody can agree on any contract. And that means no market can exist.
That is exactly what has happened and is still happening today, all around the world: a global shortage of THABI, of timely, honest, accurate, and believable information.
So the problem was that nobody knew how to evaluate those Mortgage Backed Securities (MBSs), because we had a catastrophic and entirely artificial dearth of THABI -- "timely, honest, accurate, and believable information" -- about those MBSs and related securitized mortgages: They could not be valuated because we didn't have a clue what they were really worth.
Therefore, financial institutions didn't know what their own investments were worth, either. They had no idea how much reserves they had, so they had to panic-sell a bunch of their securities to remain within the law. And the feds' insistance on "mark to market" didn't help, since it forced institutions to immediately value their holdings on the basis of the lowest recent bid, even if that meant they valued them far below their actual worth.
Under such circumstances, a free market is impossible. It's as if there were no medium of exchange; how could you buy anything if there were no currency -- or at least, if nobody could agree on the value of a dollar?
That was the reason for the original "stimulus" package. It was originally intended to inject, not liquidity, but information into the market. From Democrats Try to Hijack:
So what is to be done? Obviously, since the problem is the inability to set a value for these instruments, which makes them impossible to buy or sell (illiquid), the solution is to find a way to value them. Enter the Paulson-Bernanke emergency rescue plan....
As I understand it, here is the basic plan. Note that I'm drawing this from many sources, it's not yet written in stone -- or even in ink -- and I can't give you sources. If you want more information, you're on your own! But here is what I've been able to glean:
- The Treasury is given authority to spend up to $700 billion (outstanding at any particular moment) to buy MBSs, CDOs, and related instruments that have become "illiquid." These "toxic assets" will be purchased from their current owners at a huge discount... meaning the banks and other investors who purchased these pigs in pokes will, in fact, take a significant financial hit... they're not being "bailed out."
So the Treasury can buy up these toxic assets; what do they do with them?
- I believe the plan (which has not yet been formalized in legislation) is to create a Treasury owned and managed resolution corporation that will take ownership of these toxic assets. Analysts will then pore through each MBS, determining the status of all the underlying mortgages and making a report publicly available. This will make the opaque assets completely transparent. All the financial fundamentals will be visible, so analysts at private companies can examine all of the securities and decide how much they would pay for each.
- The resolution corporation will then auction off each of the the now-transparent MBSs, selling it to the highest bidder; that very action allows the market to reset the value of the security.
That is why I characterize this rescue operation as "pressing the reset button."
HouseGOPs stick in their two cents worth (and that's overvaluing it!)
Then the House Republicans got into the act. They didn't like the idea of Treasury buying toxic assets, so they added one step in between: That the federal government would first try "insuring" the toxics, to see whether that would give them a sufficient base value that they could be valuated by the free market. From the Done Deal - at Least, Very Likely Done:
As we predicted, it is basically the original deal with some of the HRs' proposals rolled in... notably the insurance option, which would be one of the choices that Secretary Henry Paulson has at his disposal and is required to set up and at least attempt before buying the toxic assets on behalf of the government:
At the insistence of House Republicans, who threatened to sidetrack negotiations at midweek, the insurance provision was added as an alternative to having the government buy distressed securities. House Republicans say it will require less taxpayer spending for the bailout.
But the Treasury Department has said the insurance provision would not pump enough money into the financial sector to make credit sufficiently available. The department would decide how to structure the insurance provisions, said Sen. Kent Conrad, D-N.D., one of the negotiators.
The final cut: equity stakes in banks
However, the collapse accelerated much more rapidly than expected before the Paulson-Bernanke emergency rescue plan could be implemented, and they decided they needed to inject liquidity directly into the financial institutions. From Is It Adios:
As the market is unable to function without THABI, it cannot function to restore THABI. All that information must come from somewhere else; and the only "somewhere else" that can act quickly enough to stave off a global depression is the State. Because the State functions both within and without the market, it can force changes even when the market is stymied... just as it takes a State to enforce the decisions of a civil-court, because only the State can step outside the market to seize by force the bank accounts of those who flout the court's decision.
The direct injection of liquidity by Treasury buying equity is also outside the market, because that money is extracted from people by force, in the form of taxes. But at the core, even this direct investment is an attempt to buy time to complete the "transparentizing" (horrible neologism, I know) of the toxic assets -- the recreation of the information that was lost by multiple unregulated securitizations of massive collections of mortgages.
Once the THABI has been restored to the mortgage-backed securities and other instruments, the market can reboot itself:
- The assets can be valued;
- They will all have some nonzero value, because no mortgage is worth nothing (if nothing else, the land itself has value);
- All will be saleable, though often not at as high a price as the financial institution purchased them;
- Each institution will thus be able to figure out how big a write-down it must take... and whether it can even stay in business or needs to sell itself to another institution.
There... that's a market! With the restoration of the missing THABI information, the market can reboot, and the catastrophe will be averted. So long as partial-nationalization of the banking industry lasts only long enough to retransparentize the toxic assets, thus allowing the market to begin functioning again, it will be an acceptable, even necessary intervention.
Alas, I then made an implied prediction that did not come true:
Bush and Paulson have really worked hard to make it difficult for a future president to use this plan as the camel's nose poking its way under the big top; the plan is designed to sunset automatically, allowing the banks to buy back their equity in no longer than three years, but earlier if both they and the incoming administration agree.
Enter the Obamacle
And that is exactly where the entire scheme broke down, because incoming President Barack H. Obama actually had no intention of allowing this "crisis" to go to waste. From Democrats Channel Hugo Chavez in Rescue Demands:
When people read "fascism," they immediately tend to envision concentration camps, jackboots, and Nazis goosestepping at mass rallies; but the real danger of fascism, especially liberal fascism (fascism with a smiley face, as depicted -- against author Jonah Goldberg's wishes -- on the cover of his book Liberal Fascism), is government control of corporations. The more control is handed over to politicians and bureaucrats who have no hand in actually producing the product (loans and securities, in this case), the more critical decisions will be made on irrelevant political considerations, often leading to financial disaster... and another bailout, leading to even more government control. Eventually, the State completely hijacks the corporation for political purposes... and we're well on our way to Hugo Chavez-land.
Why am I recapping this stream of previous Lizardry? Well, take a look at Thursday's story from Cybercast News Service:
A report issued by the Congressional Oversight Panel (COP) tasked with overseeing the implementation of the 2008 Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) questions whether the Bush and Obama administrations had the legal authority to use TARP funds to bail out General Motors and Chrysler.
The report, issued Wednesday, confirmed what CNSNews.com had previously reported: that the law which created TARP -- the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act (EESA) -- did not grant the government specific authority to use taxpayers’ funds to rescue the auto industry.
In other words, we're blowing our own forked tongues here: The original stimulus plan, the original Paulson-Bernanke plan, would have restricted that $700 billion to buying toxic assets; the later House Republican version would have also allowed funds to be used to insure toxic assets. And the final Paulson-Bernanke plan would also include using the money to buy equity stakes in the financial institutions themselves, in order to inject liquidity directly.
But under Barack Obama, the government appears to have criminally abused the stimulus bill to buy General Motors and Chrysler stock -- which has absolutely nothing to do with injecting liquidity into the financial markets to stave off collapse... and everything to do with bailing out the auto manufacturers to benefit the United Auto Workers.
So once again, it turns out that Big Lizards was either smarter than the Democrats (in figuring out what we needed to so) -- or at the very least, more honest than the Democrats.
And that's a revelation that must have stunned all of our readers!
September 7, 2009
Lockerbie Bomber Release: What Did Obama Approve, and When Did He Approve It?
Blogger DRJ on powerhouse blogsite Patterico's Pontifications links to an important article; but I think she missed one of its major implications.
She linked to an article in the UK Daily Mail, "No.10 turns on Obama and Clinton for criticising decision to release Lockerbie bomber," focusing on the damage this contretemps is doing to our special relationship with the United Kingdom. But there is a deeper and much more disturbing conclusion to be drawn from that piece:
British officials claim Mr Obama and Mrs Clinton were kept informed at all stages of discussions concerning Megrahi’s return.
The officials say the Americans spoke out because they were taken aback by the row over [Lockerbie bomber Abdelbaset] Megrahi’s release, not because they did not know it was about to happen.
‘The US was kept fully in touch about everything that was going on with regard to Britain’s discussions with Libya in recent years and about Megrahi,’ said the Whitehall aide.
‘We would never do anything about Lockerbie without discussing it with the US. It is disingenuous of them to act as though Megrahi’s return was out of the blue.
But what is the real implication here? If these "British officials" are truthful and accurate, then President Barack H. Obama has known for months that they were negotiating the unconditional release of Megrahi to the Libyans, with predictable results (the "hero's welcome").
But had Obama put his foot down, perhaps even threatening to go public about the talks (thus scuttling them) -- had he even threatened to reveal the real reason for the amnesty, a massive oil deal for British Petroleum offered as a bribe by Libyan military dictator Col. Muammar Gaddafi -- Obama could almost certainly have stopped the release of Megrahi.
Given the reaction not only here but across the Atlantic, such a deal must be negotiated in the dead of night; a credible threat to bring it out into the open before the terms were agreed upon would have meant both Great Britain and Libya would have had to deny and denounce the deal, and it couldn't have happened... not for years, at least, while the furor died down.
And again, the Obamacon must have known this: first and foremost, because he is of course omniscient; just ask any supporter. But beyond that perhaps dubious claim, because Rahm Emanuel would have told him that he had the de facto power to stop the deal, as would neutered Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
Which leads me to only two possible conclusions:
- The British officials are either lying or jaw-droppingly misinformed about what Obama knew and when he knew it; or...
- Obama could have stopped the release but chose, for political reasons, not to do so. To put it another way, if the Brits are correct, then Obama tacitly approved, by deliberate inaction, the release of the Lockerbie bomber.
I lean towards the second conclusion, since it strains my credulity to the snapping point to believe that unnamed, but surely well known to the British press, "officials" would tell a complete cock-and-bull story that could easily be debunked, leading to their own disgrace and ruin within a day or two.
The administration might argue, as a last-ditch defense, that Obama didn't approve the deal; he just couldn't make up his mind whether to go whole hog to prevent it. But not making a decision is making a decision, the decision to do nothing. And when the non-decider has the power to force a moral conclusion but refuses to exercise it, that equates to approval of and support for rank evil: The sin of omission in such a case is functionally identical to the corresponding sin of commission.
These may be the most urgent questions to be asked of the president at this moment, more important than why he hired Van Jones or what his own health-care takeover plan may be:
- Mr. Obama, did you have advance knowledge about the release of Abdelbaset Megrahi to Libya after only a few years in prison in Scotland, despite his conviction in Scottish court of the murder of 270 people, including 180 Americans, four American intelligence officers, and children and families of many nationalities?
- Given the fact that you allowed the release without blowing its secrecy, at what point did you decide to tacitly acquiesce to that ghoulish decision, whose only justification was a multi hundred million pound bribe (an oil lease) paid by Gaddafi to BP?
- And how can you possibly justify your approval of Megrahi's release? To what principle can you appeal beyond pure political opportunism, coupled with depraved indifference to human life?
If Americans understood that, protestations notwithstanding, Barack Obama was in on the deal to release the Lockerbie bomber, I suspect that might be the last straw for a huge chunk of the still undecided voting population.
Obama has buttered his bread, and now he must sleep in it. We must hold his feet to the grindstone on this vile, cynical, and cowardly "non-decision" decision.
Cross-posted on Hot Air's rogues' gallery...
August 26, 2009
Ted Kennedy - Ripped 2.0
I'll say one other amusing thing I just heard on the radio; Politico and others have also reported on this (it's why Sen. Kennedy was trying so desperately to get a state law passed in his final week of life).
Back in 2004, JFK was running for the presidency against George W. Bush; Sen. John Forbes Kerry (D-MA, 95%) is of course from Massachusetts, the junior, now senior senator... but the governor in 2004 was Republican Mitt Romney.
The Democrats in MA were terrified that, should Kerry win the election and become president, he would be replaced in the Senate by the governor; they were convinced that Romney would appoint a fellow GOPper.
So they changed Massachusetts law to take that power away from the governor; instead, the state must now hold a special election to replace a senator who dies or resigns; the election must be held between 145 and 160 days following the vacancy. (The Democratic supermajority in the Massachusetts legislature forced the law through over Romney's veto, I believe.)
Flash forward to 2009: Ted Kennedy dies, but today the governor of Massachusetts is a Democrat, Deval Patrick. By the very law that Democrats rammed through, Patrick cannot simply appoint a party-line Democrat to succeed Kennedy! Instead, the seat must remain open, and the Democratic majority in the Senate reduced by one, until the state holds that special election.
There is little chance that anyone but a hard-core liberal Democrat will win the seat... but that cannot happen for a minimum of 145 days. August 25th (the date the seat became vacant) plus 145 days means that at a minimum, the Democrats will have only 59 seats in the Senate until January 18th, 2010 -- the day after the earliest date for the election (since the winner would have to be declared and then sworn in the next day). And that's assuming no failed candidate brings a challenge to the electoral results -- quite possible, given a crowded field -- which could add days, weeks, even months to the process.
I don't know the mechanics of the election, but if no candidate receives 50% of the vote, I wonder if the law might require a runoff between the two top vote-getters? Unknown (to me) at this time.
But in any event, Democrats might not have a "filibuster-proof majority" for the rest of the year and halfway through January... the very time they hoped to do a jam-down of ObamaCare, tax increases, a bill to cripple energy production, and many other elements of Obamunism. (Depending on what the state legislature does -- see below.)
The invisible hand of Fate appears to have put its invisible thumb on the scales yesterday...
(Mind, the Massachusetts legislature returns to session after Laborious Day; it's possible they can rush a bill through undoing the previous bill they rushed through. But even that will take some time and will raise the partisan-hypocrisy quotient enough to make even Massachusetters -- Massachusettians -- Masschurians squirm.)
July 23, 2009
Oh Please Don't Throw Me into that Brady Patch, Ms. Pelosi!
I can understand corruption; simple venality is easily fathomed: A person with a broken moral compass (or none at all) sees ethical behavior as mere obstacle, so he finds a way to squirm around it to get what he wants anyway.
But what offends me most about nearly every act of political corruption is the sheer stupidity of it: Nine times out of ten, by acting unethically, the corrupt damage themselves far worse than if they'd simply done right. Call this "etholution in action," or perhaps the third law of ethical physics: For every unethical action, there is an opposite and equal (or greater) backlash.
Illustrative example forthcomes...
According to Roll Call (the magazine run by liberal Democrat Morton Kondracke, formerly of the Beltway Boys), Democrats are trying to suppress Republicans critical of ObamaCare by denying them franking privileges to communicate with their own constituents about the current ObamaCare legislation being written in Congress... unless they cease disagreeing about the plan's effect and adopt the Democrats' position instead:
House Republicans are crying foul and claiming that the Democrats are using their majority to prevent GOP Members from communicating with their constituents.
The dispute centers on a chart created by Rep. Kevin Brady (R-Texas) and Republican staff of the Joint Economic Committee to illustrate the organization of the Democratic health care plan.
At first glance, Brady’s chart resembles a board game: a colorful collection of shapes and images with a web of lines connecting them.
But a closer look at the image reveals a complicated menagerie of government offices and programs that Republicans say will be created if the leading Democratic health care plan becomes law.
In a memo sent Monday to Republicans on the House franking commission, Democrats argue that sending the chart to constituents as official mail would violate House rules because the information is misleading.
(My apologies for the "printer friendly" version; but rather unaccountably, it's the only version that doesn't require a subscription to Roll Call.)
For those unfamiliar with the term, "franking privileges" means free postage for congressmen to mail their constitutents, so long as the communications are not out and out campaign mailers ("Vote for me!").
Whenever your representative or senator sends you a newsletter or vote alert, he doesn't have to pay postage. The privilege is important, because otherwise some congressmen with smaller budgets -- usually minority members, since the budgets are controlled by the majority -- might be unable to communicate with the people they represent in their own districts.
As you probably guess, this is a fearsome weapon in corrupt hands: If the majority selectively denies franking privileges for the minority, it can control the debate by silencing opposition. And that appears to be exactly what is happening in this case: Democrats are trying to silence Republicans, while allowing their own side to send as much free mail supporting ObamaCare as it wants, so long as it's careful to phrase the support as mere "explanation" or "description" -- exactly what they want to stop the GOP from doing.
The hook that Democrats hang their decision on is that they say Rep. Brady's flowchart is "false and misleading." Now those terms have regular definitions, but each also has a tendentious redefinition supplied by the Left: According to the leftist lexicon, what advances leftism is "true," and what retards leftism is, by definition, "false." But of course, they must make some nod, a fig leaf, towards a party-neutral reason; that's the least they can do.
Never let it be said that the Democrats fail to do the least they can do! I haven't read the entire memo -- I can't find a copy -- but here are the only specific examples of the Brady chart being either false or misleading that Roll Call mentions:
- "The chart’s illustration of low-income subsidies is also 'misleading and false,' Democrats argue."
- "Democrats argue that the chart depicts a 'Health Insurance Exchange Trust Fund' that is 'simply a recipient of IRS funds, with no outflow. ... This is false.'"
The first accusation is nothing more than an assertion with no specifics. That particular box (red rectangle with sharp corners, west sou'west on the Brady flowchart) reads, "Low-Income Subsidy (families with 4x poverty level);" but the Democrats fail to tell us -- or Roll Call fails to quote them, which seems unlikely -- why this is "false" and what the actual elligibility test is.
Had Democrats given specifics, Republicans could respond by explaining why they believe the "four times" figure is more accurate than the Democrats' figure; since Democrats gave us nothing, we throw this one in the dustbin.
The second accusation at least has specificity... but it's arguably false, as a quick glance at the chart itself (linked above) demonstrates. The Health Insurance Exchange Trust Fund (HIETF) is a red rectangle with rounded corners in the northwest corner of the flowchart. You will notice that is has an input from the yellow IRS diamond (as Democrats note).
But there is also a thin, red line connecting the HIETF with the Treasury Department -- a white elipse just northeast of the HIETF box. Alas, that line has no arrowhead, so we do not know if it is a one-way connection, and if so, which way it points.
The Democrats assume that means it's one-way... pointing from Treasury to the HIETF. But it could just as easily be a passthrough from HIETF, through Treasury (which must cut checks), to the Public Health Investment Fund, which is another red, round-cornered rectangle about midway between east and west on the north side (we're still following the thin, red line).
There are two ways to interpret that thin, red line connecting HIETF and Treasury:
- The line means two-way monetary traffic: HIETF receives money from the Treasury Department, and it also sends money through Treasury to other targets via the Public Health Investment Fund... funding favored Democratic constituents -- institutional, corporate, and private.
- Or, Republican ninnies think the trust fund only collects money and never dispurses any; it just accumulates billions upon billions of dollars for no apparent reason.
The Democratic memo wants you to believe the latter; but this doesn't even make sense from a Republican perspective; it's a serious breech of ethics, if not the law, if HIETF will funnel money through the Public Health Investment Fund to left-leaning entities; but a bloated reserve of gigadollars in a big tank somewhere not only wouldn't benefit Democrats, it wouldn't even fit the Republican narrative of profligate Democratic spending!
So we have two possible interpretations of a statement (or flowchart, in this case): One is rational and fits the narrative of the folks making the statement; the other does not fit that narrative, and is totally doltish to boot. The simple logic of Occam's Razor compels us to adopt the former interpretation -- not the ludicrous latter one.
But let's get to the real point at last. What has been the effect of the Democrats' corrupt stifling of Republican opposition to ObamaCare? Let's see:
Republicans quickly embraced Brady’s chart, and over the past week about 50 Members have posted it on their Congressional Web sites or used it in a floor speech. It has also been posted on the home page of the Republican National Committee.
Odd... the flowchart appears to be getting out anyway, despite the best efforts at Democratic corruption. But wait, let's take a step backwards... because in addition to appearing on Republican websites, it has also now been discussed in Roll Call -- and the chart is on that website, too.
But as they say with the Ginzu knives, that's not all! Roll Call is a very distinguished magazine -- and it's run by a liberal! So unlike stories in, e.g., the Washington Times or Weekly Standard, the controversy over mailing the flowchart will very likely leak out from Roll Call and into other magazines, newspapers, and elite media sources. In fact, the longer the fight rages, the greater the chance that the flowchart will get on television, and the attempted suppression discussed on radio, and both story and chart printed in major newspapers across the nation.
By contrast, had the Democrats simply allowed the Republicans to mail their blasted mailer, (a) it would only have gone to people in districts that are already Republican; and (b) it would probably be thrown into the trash unopened by the great majority of its recipients... as they routinely do with all mailings from their representatives and senators. To put it bluntly but honestly, the Democrats' own corruption now guarantees a hugely wider distribution of Rep. Brady's flowchart: Far more people will see it and read it than ever would have opened the original mailer.
The Democratic culture of corruption that led them to try to suppress the speech of their GOP opponents has already produced, and will continue to produce, a virulent backlash against the Democrats themselves, generating dramatically increased exposure of the exact damaging flowchart they tried to suppress.
Somehow, someway, Brer Republican managed to trick Brer Democrat into flinging the Brady flowchart into the briar patch. Once again, the Left has overreached and outsmarted itself. But I reckon Democrats just can't help it; as Uncle Remus said -- or at least as he's quoted at Disneyland's Splash Mountain ride -- "You can't run away from yourself -- there ain't no place that far!"
Cross-posted at Hot Air's rogues' gallery...
July 14, 2009
Lies Wide Shut Too: Mystery Solved!
Four days ago, in the first installation of Lies Wide Shut (I didn't realize there would be a second), we discussed the mystery presented to us by the Democrats on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence:
On June 26th, the Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Rep. Silvestre Reyes (D-TX, 82%), sent a letter to ranking Republican member Rep. Peter Hoekstra (R-MI, 88%); Reyes claimed that two days earlier, in a classified briefing by CIA Director Leon Panetta (a hyper-partisan Democratic former House member), the director admitted the CIA routinely misled and even lied to Congress under George W. Bush....
(A CIA spokesman says Panetta denies saying any such thing in his briefing.)
Then yesterday, somebody on the committee or at CIA leaked a second letter (obtained by Politico), sent by seven other Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee, also to the director; in it, the seven echo Reyes's claim: That Panetta testified that "top CIA officials" concealed CIA operations from Congress and "misled them over the span of last eight years."
But of course, all eight accusers coyly refuse to say exactly what the CIA is supposed to have misled them about; they just allow the nation to draw the "obvious," but not necessarily accurate, conclusion.
Democrats are using this bit of fluff to prop up the wobbly Squeaker of the House, insinuating -- with no lawful way to debunk it -- that Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Haight-Ashbury, 100%) was truthful when she said the CIA "never told her" we had already waterboarded a terrorist detainee and planned to waterboard a couple more.
The mystery, of course, is exactly what CIA Director Leon Panetta "admitted" to the House Intelligence Committee. Did he actually say, quote, "The CIA routinely misled and even lied to Congress under George W. Bush?" Did he literally say, "Top CIA officials concealed CIA operations from Congress and misled them over the span of last eight years?" I think such a suggestion is not only fabricated, it's risible. Particularly since he stands by his previous publicly released statement that the CIA has never had a policy of misleading or lying to Congress: Say what you will about Panetta's politics, nobody has ever accused him of being a dope.
But the Democratic members of the House Intel Committee steadfastly refuse to tell us exactly what he confessed that so riled them... though they repeatedly imply (nudge nudge, wink wink) that it "vindicated" Pelosi's claim that the CIA lied to her about waterboarding.
But over the last couple, three days, enough information has crept out that I think we can finally make a very shrewd guess what Chairman Reyes, et al, really meant: Several newspapers have reported that Panetta testified that the CIA kicked around a plan to assassinate top al-Qaeda leaders using ground-ops teams... but despite eight years of blue-skying, they could never figure out how even to start.
And the "misleading Congress" part? Then-Vice President Dick Cheney evidently told the CIA not to brief Congress on the vague ideas and inchoate dreams -- not until an operational plan came to fruition. Why not? Because legally, they didn't have to; and strategically, it would have been catastrophic to do so:
CIA Director Leon Panetta told Congress on June 24 that he had canceled the effort to kill al-Qaida leaders with hit teams soon after learning about the operation. Panetta also told lawmakers that former Vice President Dick Cheney directed the CIA not to inform Congress of the specifics of the secret program.
Intelligence officials say the operation never progressed passed a planning stage and therefore didn't merit congressional notification.
The New York Times concurs:
Since 2001, the Central Intelligence Agency has developed plans to dispatch small teams overseas to kill senior Qaeda terrorists, according to current and former government officials.
The plans remained vague and were never carried out, the officials said, and Leon E. Panetta, the C.I.A. director, canceled the program last month....
Mr. Panetta scuttled the program, which would have relied on paramilitary teams, shortly after the C.I.A.’s counterterrorism center recently informed him of its existence. The next day, June 24, he told Congressional Intelligence Committees that the plan had been hidden from lawmakers, initially at the instruction of former Vice President Dick Cheney.
Evidently, Democrats on the House I-Com are absolutely beside themselves that they were not immediately and completely informed of every single thought, idea, suggestion, or pious hope of a plan the CIA might discuss during a meeting -- even those that are "never carried out." They appear to believe "oversight" means the same as "managed," and that congressmen should be privy to all internal CIA discussions -- so that they can "call the shots," right?
But as I indicated in the previous Big Lizards piece, informing Congress is equivalent to calling the TImes and the Washington Post, because that's exactly where the top-secret briefing will end up within a week. This raises an interesting question: Are these Intel members actually bothered because Cheney denied them yet another opportunity to accuse the CIA and Bush administration of war crimes, atrocities, and crimes against humanity? Sadly, Panetta had already canceled the program (that never got off the tarmac) before congressmen had a chance to out it!
But back to the real issue: the still unadmitted yet unrebutted charge that Squeaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Haight-Ashbury, 95%) lied in her teeth when she swore, over and over again (alas not under oath), that the CIA never told her we had waterboarded Khalid Sheikh Mohammed... and that we were going to do it again!
You'll recall that when we last left this tidbit hanging, the House I-Com Democrats suggested -- but never explicitly claimed -- that the Panetta revelations now made Pelosi's story more credible; it's now clear that the reason they were so coy is that they knew very well what Panetta had really said... and it had nothing to do with Pelosi's hysterical denials that she knew anything about waterboarding, and that by her silence in the face of that knowledge, she had tacitly assented to its use.
To this day, she still refuses to "put up or shut up" on that accusation:
It's been almost two months since Pelosi claimed the CIA lied to her about what interrogation methods they'd used on detainees. That accusation prompted Panetta's statement defending the agency.
Since then, the speaker has refused to take any more questions on the subject. While Pelosi took numerous questions today, she deflected most and left matters in the hands of the House Intelligence Committee....
[House Minority Leader John] Boehner [R-OH, 92%] renewed his call today for Pelosi to either "put up the facts or retract her statement and apologize" to the intelligence committee.
So we've learned something over the past halfweek; we've learned the exact syllogism by which Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee (including its chairman) vindicate Pelosi on the eve of the new Intel-bill debate in Congress:
- After the attacks on September 11th, 2001, George W. Bush issued an executive order that we could kill high-value targets (HVTs) in al-Qaeda;
- In order to minimize civilian casualties from missile strikes on HVTs (of the kind that now plague our efforts in Pakistan), the CIA tried to figure out how to take out al-Qaeda leaders via ground teams;
- Alas, they never could develop a workable plan, and they never carried through;
- Dick Cheney told the CIA to keep a lid on the floating ideas until they were actually ready for implementation (no sense spilling beans prematurely, endangering future operations);
- So he instructed the CIA not to report all the non-plans that they didn't carry out to Congress -- it not being a normal part of oversight duties for House members to demand an inventory of all random and unactualized thoughts, blue-sky hopes, and dreams of CIA agents;
- Years later, new CIA Director Leon Panetta canceled the non-project that was never operational anyway -- and told appropriate members of Congress that the CIA had failed to report that it never executed a plan that it didn't tell Congress about because it was never anything but a will'o'wisp;
- Therefore, the CIA must surely have lied to Squeaker Pelosi about waterboarding.
Hey, it only stands to reason!
It's nice to know that Ms. Pelosi presides over not just "the most honest, most open and most ethical Congress in history," but also the Congress with the most incisive grasp of formal logic. Gosh, I just can't wait for the full congressional probe!
July 9, 2009
Finally, the Ultimate Word on the A.D.D.D.D.A. - Lizards' Prediction Pans Out!
This is the last (I think) post on this bizarre and surreal chapter of the New York state senate. Our previous posts on this tintinnabulant topic are:
- New York Democracy + Chicago Rules... Hijinks Ensue
- More on the Anti-Democratic Democrats' Denial of Democracy in Albany
- Penultimate Word on on the Anti-Democratic Democrats' Denial of Democracy in Albany
- No Time for Sergeants - the First Post-Penultimate Word on the A.D.D.D.D.A.
Two A.D.D.D.D.A. posts ago, on June 16th, Big Lizards made the following prediction:
The majority leadership of Dean Skelos now hangs by a Gordian thread of Damocles: All the Democrats need do is offer both amnesty and a promotion to Espada (and possibly the squelching of the various ethics charges against him), and they can reel him back in. If Espada has a pact with Monserrate, the two can easily enforce the caucus's capitulation by threatening to re-bolt and start the nightmare all over again if the caucus doesn't deliver.
I suspect the Democratic caucus sees the "mene mene tekel upharsin" writ on the wall of the Senate's executive washroom, and they will do exactly this; Smith will be cast down, the terms agreed upon, and Espada will return to the fold, probably within a week from today.
We stand by our previous prediction:
- Once Smith is gone, the Democrats will bite the bullet and cut a deal -- legitimate or corrupt -- with Espada and Monserrate, and they will rejoin the fold. The insurrection will fizzle, and Democrats will again be in charge.
- And the New York State Senate will swiftly pass the same-sex marriage bill already approved by the State Assembly, becoming the fourth state (after Vermont, Maine, and New Hampshire) to enact SSM without being extorted by the judicial branch.
Surprise! Today the state Democrats and Sen. Pedro Espada Jr. made good on our predictions:
- Espada is returning to the the Democratic caucus.
- Espada gets his promotion; he will now be majority leader of the state senate.
- Sen. Malcolm Smith, erstwhile leader of the senate, is relegated to a largely ceremonial post during "a transition period of an undetermined length."
- The Democrats will regain control of the state senate with a bare 32-30 majority.
- The Republicans are betrayed by a Janus-faced Democratic ally. Again. ("I'll hold the football, Charlie Brown, and you come running and kick it.")
- And while they haven't yet passed a same-sex marriage (SSM) bill, it's clearly in the offing, along with other Democratic dream bills.
Anent that last point, it's so late in the day that we might get a brief reprieve, at least until next session:
Senate leaders, sounding by turns apologetic, fatigued and self-congratulatory, vowed to quickly take up the scores of bills they had neglected during the leadership struggle....
Senators were uncertain Thursday when or whether several high-profile issues stalled by the leadership battle, including same-sex marriage and changes in rent control laws, would be taken up. The regular legislative session ended on June 22.
All this came a little later than we expected: They fumfahed around longer than I thought any sane group of people could tolerate; but of course, they're not only Democrats, they're New Yorkers. In the end, it was fear of dispossession that finally awakened them:
But it appears that Mr. Espada may have been driven to make a deal to return as majority leader out of fear of being marginalized, because a separate Democratic faction was moving to establish a power-sharing deal with the Republicans.
Indeed, the Democrats have become increasingly polarized, often along racial lines. Mr. Espada and other Hispanic senators have pushed for more influence from Mr. Smith and Mr. Sampson, who are black.
Separately, the faction of seven white Democrats, led by Senator Jeffrey D. Klein of the Bronx, that had sought the power-sharing deal with the Republicans is especially uneasy with Mr. Espada, who faces investigations related to nonprofit health clinics he runs, his campaign finance practices and whether his primary residence is in the Bronx. Any arrangement they reached with Republicans would probably have pushed Mr. Espada aside.
For an amusing coda, the Republicans are gleefully licking their dentures in pre-prandial, salivary anticipation; they don't expect the reconciliation to last much longer than a Hollywood marriage:
Dean G. Skelos, the leader of the Senate Republicans, speculated that the Democratic caucus would break apart again.
“This is my prediction,” Mr. Skelos said at his own news conference, his caucus surrounding him. “Within a few months, maybe six months, there is going to be so much discord within that conference that we’re going to be running the Senate, all right?”
He added: “There are so many factions there that would like to, quite honestly, slit the other factions’ throat. I think it’s going to be very, very difficult to lead and govern.”
And day 's at the morn;
Morning 's at seven;
The hill-side 's dew-pearl'd;
The lark 's on the wing;
The snail 's on the thorn;
God 's in His heaven --
All 's right with the world!
In this case, Browning's got it a bit wrong: God's laughing in His heaven; and all's Left in the world again... especially its epicenter, the zero-point from which all other distances are measured: New York.
Case closed; a Mark VII production.
Lies Wide Shut
On June 26th, the Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Rep. Silvestre Reyes (D-TX, 82%), sent a letter to ranking Republican member Rep. Peter Hoekstra (R-MI, 88%); Reyes claimed that two days earlier, in a classified briefing by CIA Director Leon Panetta (a hyper-partisan Democratic former House member), the director admitted the CIA routinely misled and even lied to Congress under George W. Bush:
Exactly what actions Panetta disclosed to the House Intelligence Committee on June 24 is unclear, but committee chairman Silvestre Reyes said that the CIA outright lied in one case.
"These notifications have led me to conclude that this committee has been misled, has not been provided full and complete notifications, and (in at least one case) was affirmatively lied to," Reyes wrote in a letter Tuesday to Michigan Rep. Peter Hoekstra, the committee's senior Republican. A copy of the letter was obtained by The Associated Press.
Reyes said in the letter that he is considering opening a full investigation.
(A CIA spokesman says Panetta denies saying any such thing in his briefing; see below)
Then yesterday, somebody on the committee or at CIA leaked a second letter (obtained by Politico), sent by seven other Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee, also to the director; in it, the seven echo Reyes's claim: That Panetta testified that "top CIA officials" concealed CIA operations from Congress and "misled them over the span of last eight years." (For the full text of this second letter, see the slither on.)
But of course, all eight accusers coyly refuse to say exactly what the CIA is supposed to have misled them about; they just allow the nation to draw the "obvious," but not necessarily accurate, conclusion.
Democrats are using this bit of fluff to prop up the wobbly Squeaker of the House, insinuating -- with no lawful way to debunk it -- that Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Haight-Ashbury, 100%) was truthful when she said the CIA "never told her" we had already waterboarded a terrorist detainee and planned to waterboard a couple more:
In the letter [from the seven], Democrats demanded that Panetta correct a statement he issued on May 15 -- just after Pelosi accused the CIA of misleading her during the Bush years about the agency's use of waterboarding techniques -- stating that it is not the CIA's "policy or practice to mislead Congress...."
Democrats refused to say today what exactly Panetta told the members during the June meeting, citing the need to keep sensitive intelligence information classified. But committee members said they were appalled to learn from Panetta that the CIA had been misled them over the span of last eight years....
Asked if the letter should silence debate about whether she was fair in her characterization that the CIA had misled about its use of waterboarding, Pelosi shot back, "I didn't know there was any question about propriety." [sic -- "propriety?"]
And here is another one of those remarkably convenient coincidences that seem to crop up with great frequency in the Pelosi Congress:
[Rep. Rush Holt (D-NJ, 100%), one of the seven signers] said that the release of the letter [from the seven] was timed to coincide today with the start of debate on an intelligence reauthorization bill. Among those issues up for debate is whether the number of lawmakers briefed on the CIA’s actions should be expanded.
How amazing that the letter from the seven insinuators was sent nearly two weeks ago, but leaked only yesterday, just before the hearings... during which Republicans intend once again to demand that Speaker Pelosi either put up or shut up -- that she either show some evidence to back her accusation that the CIA lied to her, or else retract her bizarre claim and apologize:
Reyes and other committee Democrats sent Hoekstra a letter saying that CIA Director Leon Panetta had acknowledged that senior CIA officials have misled lawmakers repeatedly since 2001. But a GOP spokesman has suggested that the letter was timed to deflect a controversy involving House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's knowledge of CIA interrogation techniques.
Hoekstra told CBS' "The Early Show" on Thursday that it appears that Reyes is "working on the political equation."
Meanwhile, Pelosi herself is busy ducking questions and pretending she had no knowledge of the leaked letters and didn't orchestrate them to save her own shaky reputation and increasingly untenable tenure as Squeaker of the House:
It's been almost two months since Pelosi claimed the CIA lied to her about what interrogation methods they'd used on detainees. That accusation prompted Panetta's statement defending the agency.
Since then, the speaker has refused to take any more questions on the subject. While Pelosi took numerous questions today, she deflected most and left matters in the hands of the House Intelligence Committee....
[House Minority Leader John] Boehner [R-OH, 92%] renewed his call today for Pelosi to either "put up the facts or retract her statement and apologize" to the intelligence committee.
Nobody privy to the actual intelligence, not even Reyes and the seven dwarfs, has explicitly claimed that Panetta said the CIA lied about briefing Pelosi or anyone else on waterboarding; but neither can anyone explicitly dispute it without winding up in la calabooza. And for that matter, Panetta's spokesman denies that Panetta said any such thing in the first place; from the Politico piece:
CIA spokesman George Little told the Washington Independent late Wednesday that the claim that Panetta admitted his agency has misled Congress is "completely wrong." He added, "Director Panetta stands by his May 15 statement."
The charge -- that one of these supposed "misleadings" was whether Pelosi and other Democrats were briefed on waterboarding -- is inuendo, based upon unavailable evidence that cannot be checked or validated in any way. It just hovers overhead as an a priori accusation: unverifiable, unrebuttable, irrefutable. Well, who can argue with that!
The Democrats get to wallow in triumphalism: See? We Democrats had no inkling we were torturing detainees; we surely would have stopped it if we knew; so don't blame us, it's all George Bush's fault! And Republicans are stymied, since the only way to rebut the claim is to leak classified intelligence.
Meanwhile, the Democrats are using this alleged (and denied) "misleading" to demand that henceforth, the CIA must brief every member of both House and Senate Intelligence Committees on every CIA action; from the Washington Times piece:
House Republicans oppose at least one provision in the intelligence authorization bill, and they have an unusual ally: the White House.
Obama's aides have said they will recommend he veto the bill if it includes a Democratic-written provision requiring the president to notify the intelligence committees in their entirety about covert CIA activities.
Under current law, the president is only obligated to notify the top Democratic and Republican leaders of the House and Senate and the senior Democratic and Republican members on each chamber's intelligence committee.
Democrats want to open the briefings to all members of the House and Senate intelligence committees unless committee leaders agreed otherwise. That would be about 40 lawmakers, depending on shifting membership rosters, instead of the eight required by law.
They claim the Bush administration sought to undermine congressional oversight. However, the White House is concerned that briefing more lawmakers might compromise the most sensitive U.S. intelligence operations.
Gee, you think?
To demonstrate the insanity of this proposal -- pushed by congressional Democrats and opposed by Republicans and President Barack H. Obama -- all we need do is take a look at some of the Democrats on the two committees.
When Sen. John "Jay" Rockefeller (D-WV, 94%) was the chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (he is still a member but no longer chairman), he was one of the leaders in abusing his intelligence access to perpetuate the "Bush lied, people died" meme; he repeatedly stated that no prewar intelligence supported the idea that Saddam Hussein had ongoing chemical, biological, or nuclear weapons programs -- even though he himself had earlier stated the exact opposite, and despite a wealth of intelligence indicating exactly that, published in the committee's own report on pre-war intelligence during Rockefeller tenure.
Rockefeller also agreed with a CBS interviewer's question, on September 9th, 2006, that "the world would be better off today if the United States had never invaded Iraq -- even if it means Saddam Hussein would still be running Iraq."
Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA, 100%), Russell Feingold (D-WI, 100%), and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI, 90%), all current members of the Senate Intelligence Committee -- Feinstein is the chairman -- wrote a letter in July, 2007, demanding a "special prosecutor" be appointed to investigate then-Attorney General Alberto Gonzales for perjury... because of a trivial difference between Gonzales' testimony and that of then-FBI Director Robert Mueller over the exact subject of a hospital-room discussion between Gonzales and former Attorney General John Ashcroft three years earlier.
Mueller, who was not present during the conversation itself, gained the impression afterwards that the discussion had been about the Terrorist Surveillance Program (TSP); but Gonzales testified to Congress three years later that it was about a different but similar surveillance program. And for that, four Democratic senators wanted to send Gonzales to federal prison -- the three mentioned above, plus Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY, 100%).
To complete the humiliation, the very next day -- July 29th, 2007 -- the New York Times published a story revealing that the subject was not, in fact, the TSP... it was the "data mining" surveillance program. So Gonzales had been telling the truth all along, and it was Mueller who misunderstood which program was under discussion. None of the senators who had called for Gonzales to be jugged for perjury ever apologized, including the three who today sit on the Senate Intelligence Commmittee; they just quietly dropped their demand.
This bespeaks such unseriousness of purpose -- at a time when the Iraq war was flagging, Gen. David Petraeus' new counterinsurgency strategy was just starting, and more than ever we needed our government to show solidarity and steadfastness -- that I question whether any of these three should even be allowed to serve on such a delicate and supposedly bipartisan committee as the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.
Turning to the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, the current chairman, Rep. Silvestre Reyes (D-CA, 82%), flunked an intelligence quiz just a month before he was slated to assume that position; the quiz included such tricky, unfair questions as whether al Qaeda is Sunni or Shiite. (Reyes' answer: "They are probably both," followed by "Predominantly -- probably Shiite.")
Note: The CNN site is a shambles; when you first go to the link, you may see nothing but black where the text should be. But I discovered that if you click inside the text area, then Select All, you should be able to see a ghostly image of the selected text.
Thank goodness for the "multiple layers of editing" we find in the elite news media.
The next ranking Democrat on the committee is Rep. Alcee L. Hastings (FL, 100%)... a former federal judge who was impeached and removed from office for accepting a $150,000 bribe, then perjuring himself when caught.
Yep, there's a reliable, trustworthy, expert gaggle of folks that I'd love to see be constantly apprised of the most vital, ongoing, and heavily classified CIA operations. American's national security would be vitally compromised if congressmen like Sen. Jay Rockefeller and Rep. Alcee Hastings weren't allowed to fully exert their "oversight authority" over our primary intelligence-gathering agency.
Let the full committee in both houses see everything. Better yet, why not the entire Congress, all 435 of them? Why should we slight former vice chairman of the Senate intelligence committee, Sen. Patrick "Leaky" Leahy (D-VT, %) -- who leaked an intelligence report, unclassified but still strictly confidential, to a CBS reporter, so compromising himself that he resigned from the committee?
Heck, as the Electronic Frontier Foundation keeps telling us, "Information wants to be free."
Cross-posted in Hot Air's rogues' gallery...
Full text of the letter from the seven insinuators to the Director of the CIA, Leon Panetta
The Honorable Leon E. Panetta, Director
Central Intelligence Agency
Washington, D.C. 20505
Dear Director Panetta,
You recall, no doubt, that on May 15, 2009, you stated the following in a letter to CIA employees:
Recently you testified that you have determined that top CIA officials have concealed significant actions from all Members of Congress, and misled Members for a number of years from 2001 to this week. This is similar to other deceptions of which we are aware from other recent periods.
In light of your testimony, we ask that you publicly correct your statement of May 15, 2009.
Anna G. Eshoo
Rush D. Holt
Alcee L. Hastings
John F. Tierny
Janice D. Schakowsky
June 24, 2009
No Time for Sergeants - the First Post-Penultimate Word on the A.D.D.D.D.A.
I know I said the last post was the penultimate one on the subject of the Anti-Democratic Democrats' Denial of Democracy in Albany; but something so Kafkaesque has just happened in the New York State Senate that I cannot silently wait for the ultimate post... which will be the one where everybody's hash is finally settled. I am optimistic about much mirth and hijinks to ensue; I'm calling this the first post-penultimate word.
Our previous posts on this titillating topic are:
- New York Democracy + Chicago Rules... Hijinks Ensue
- More on the Anti-Democratic Democrats' Denial of Democracy in Albany
- Penultimate Word on on the Anti-Democratic Democrats' Denial of Democracy in Albany
The current hilarity writes itself:
In Albany, Separate Senate Sessions for Each Party
Republicans and Democrats attempted to hold separate Senate sessions at the same time on Tuesday, leaving the Capitol in confusion and bickering as members of both parties shouted over each other on the Senate floor, and each party claimed it was in control.
Though Democrats had entered the Senate chamber through a back hallway just before 12:30 p.m. and locked the doors -- much to the surprise of Republicans -- Republicans moved ahead with plans for their own session and began calling for votes on bills as Democrats sat silent in protest.
Exactly who was in control of the Senate -- or whether any of the procedural action the Republicans had taken was legally valid -- was unclear. Democrats were successful in blocking Republicans from taking control of the Senate gavel, which remained firmly in the hands of Senator Andrea Stewart-Cousins of Westchester County, who was guarded by sergeants-at-arms on both sides.
The first point of puzzlement is why the sergeants-at-arms have sided with the Democrats... aren't they supposed to be neutral? How do they know which party legally controls the body? Are they lawyers? Have they even consulted with lawyers -- upon whose authority?
UPDATE, une 24th, 2000: Heh... that was how the story read yesterday; but today, the Times pulled another fast one: They jacked up the URL and ran a whole new story under it -- headline, body, page count, pocket change, blood chemicals, and all. Gone are the paragraphs quoted above, to be replaced by this:
Come to Order! Not a Chance, if It’s Albany
New York did not have one State Senate on Tuesday. It had two.
Democrats sneaked into the Senate chamber shortly after noon, seizing control of the rostrum and locking Republicans out of the room. Republicans were finally allowed to enter about 2:30 p.m., but when they tried to station one of their own members on the dais they were blocked by the sergeants-at-arms.
So then something extraordinary -- and rather embarrassing -- happened.
The two sides, like feuding junior high schoolers refusing to acknowledge each other, began holding separate legislative sessions at the same time. Side by side, the parties, each asserting that it rightfully controls the Senate, talked and sometimes shouted over one another, gaveling through votes that are certain to be disputed. There were two Senate presidents, two gavels, two sets of bills being voted on.
What is the point of such stealth-rewrites? They didn't make it any better for Democrats or harsher on Republicans... they just didn't like the first version (which can still be seen here), so they substituted a different one, with the same URL. Yeesh.
To serious-up for a moment, what I consider the most significant bill caught up in the maelstrom of madness -- a bill to legalize same-sex marriage throughout New York, the third-largest state in the United States -- might be doomed for this term. From a subsequent article in the Times:
Senators defied Gov. David A. Paterson on Wednesday and refused to take up any of the 10 issues he put on the schedule for a legislative session, indefinitely postponing votes on same-sex marriage and other signature items of the governor’s agenda....
Though gay rights supporters were initially pleased that the governor had placed a bill to legalize same-sex marriage on the agenda, many gay rights advocates were saying on Wednesday morning that they did not believe a vote would accomplish anything. There are myriad legal questions clouding any piece of legislation that the Senate takes up, and supporters of same-sex marriage are wary of seeing their issue turned into a political football.
“Nobody wants it to pass under a cloud, so it will be immediately subject to legal challenge,” said Assemblyman Daniel J. O’Donnell, a Democrat from the Upper West Side who sponsored the same-sex marriage bill that passed the Assembly last month. Even if the Senate did pass the bill the governor put on his agenda for Wednesday, and the legal issues were not so complicated, Mr. O’Donnell said same-sex marriage would still not be legal because the governor’s bill would have to be passed again by the Assembly.
The normal session expired in the middle of this month; depending on the outcome of the stalemate (I'm tempted to call it "Fool's Mate" instead), there may be insufficient time to bring up the same-sex marriage (SSM) bill before the expiration of the current "extraordinary session," called by N.Y. Gov. David Paterson. If it expires, and if Paterson does not call another, then I think the Senate is in recess until January... at least so the New York State Senate's own website seems to say.
Will there still be such impetus next year for jamming through such a fundamental change to a foundational insitution as marriage -- without any referendum of New Yorkers? I don't know; but at this point, those of us averse to monkeying with one of the foundations of Western civilization should be grateful for any delay we can get. Perhaps legislators will have an opportunity to think a second time, as Dennis Prager likes to say.
But back to whipping the cat in Albany! Let's run with both versions of the Times story; maybe by tomorrow, yesterday will have never happened at all.
We still have the same problem with the sergeants-at-arms siding with the Democrats -- the default-to-the-liberals favoritism found in Democratic states like New York. First the guards defended the "Democrats' gavel" against the rampaging Republicans, notwithstanding a 32 to 30 vote to oust former Majority Leader Malcolm Smith (D). The same majority then elected Sen. Dean Skelos (R) majority leader and Sen. Pedro Espada (D) as president of the Senate; how can the sergeants unilaterally decide to abrogate that vote, "blocking Republicans from taking control of the Senate gavel?"
But then they did something even worse, discussed in detail in the first version of the story but only sketched in the second: When Majority Leader Skelos called Sen. George H. Winner, jr. to the podium... oh, but let the Times tell it in its original words, before editors decided to merely hint around the bush:
Shortly after Republicans walked onto the Senate floor on Tuesday afternoon, their leader, Dean G. Skelos, called the chamber to order and asked one of the Senate Republicans’ deputy leaders, George H. Winner Jr., to “take the podium.” Mr. Winner, who was standing at the front of the chamber, attempted to climb the stairs that lead to the podium where the presiding officer stands but was stopped by a Senate guard.
“Senator Skelos,” Mr. Winner responded, “I have been instructed by the sergeant-at-arms not to take the podium.” Mr. Winner then walked to a desk in front of the podium, called the Senate to order from there and began calling votes on a list of bills. Since Democrats sat silent and did not voice any objections, Mr. Winner claimed that each bill passed by a vote of 62 to 0.
So in addition to defending the Democrats' presumably inherent right to hold the gavel at all times, regardless of any organizing votes to the contrary, the sergeants also forcibly prevented a Republican senator from even approaching the podium -- because the Democrats didn't want him to be allowed to speak.
One final example deserves note of the sergeants abandoning their traditional role as neutral defenders of the peace -- in order to concentrate on their other traditional role as New York civil servants, that of being liberal Democratic partisans. In the original version:
Republicans seemed just as caught off guard as the rest of the Capitol when the Democrats came in at 12:30 p.m. As news of the Democrats’ move spread, some Republican staff members rushed to the Senate chamber and peered in through the windows to watch the Democrats congregating inside.
Senator Winner, a Republican from central New York, described the Democrats’ move as unnecessary and possibly against the law.
“It seems to me somewhat petulant and or illegal to lock the doors,” Mr. Winner said.
The outer doors to the chamber were kept locked by the sergeant-at-arms of the Senate, but some reporters were able to gain access through a back door.
The new version of the story makes clear that the Democrats snuck in alone -- and locked the doors against the Republicans. Thus, the sergeants-at-arms must have been holding the door against duly elected Republican state senators entering the state Senate chambers:
Democrats sneaked into the Senate chamber shortly after noon, seizing control of the rostrum and locking Republicans out of the room....
Early Tuesday, Republicans seemed as surprised as the rest of the Capitol when Democrats took over the chamber. Some Republican staff members rushed to the chamber to peek through small windows to watch the Democrats congregating. Some reporters were able to gain access to the locked chamber through the office of Mr. Espada, hurrying through a side room where Mr. Espada’s grandson was parked in front of a television, watching the Cartoon Network.
Note the curious omission of the fact that it was the sergeants who prevented Republican senators from entering the chamber (replaced by the reference to the Cartoon Network -- product placement, or do the Times editors simply have a "thing" for cartoons?) This fits in with the new version omitting the tidbit about sergeants jealously guarding the "Democrats'" gavel and brushing past the same sergeants preventing Sen. Winner from speaking from the podium. Could that be the reason for the rewrite -- to whitewash the complicity of the supposedly neutral guardians of the Senate in a partisan dispute against the GOP?
If so, what a sad and petty reason to engage in such an Orwellian rewrite of history. Times publisher "Pinch" Sulzberger should busy himself reading his Shelly; it may tell him some inconvenient truths about his own future and that of his family's media legacy:
Who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert…. Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed:
And on the pedestal these words appear:
'My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!'
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.
June 23, 2009
Obama Confuses Corruption with Competition. So What Else Is New?
Another question that answers itself:
President Barack Obama on Tuesday squared off with the insurance lobby over industry charges that a government health plan he backs would dismantle the employer coverage Americans have relied on for a half-century and overtake the system....
"If private insurers say that the marketplace provides the best quality health care ... then why is it that the government, which they say can't run anything, suddenly is going to drive them out of business?" Obama said in response to a question at a White House news conference.
"That's not logical," he scoffed, responding to an industry warning that government competition would destabilize the employer system that now covers more than 160 million people.
Wow, that's a toughie: If the free market provides the best quality health care -- then how can feckless, inefficient, corrupt federal government drive them out of business? Here are a few possible answers:
- By jacking up taxes, administrative fees, and punishing profit on private insurance -- but not government-run health care.
- By running the government health care at a loss, forcing taxpayers to pick up the difference.
- By regulating private insurers out of the market.
- By adding so much red tape to private insurance plans that medical-care approval takes too long.
- By extorting employers to dump their private plans in favor of the government plan, upon threat of fines, audits, and denial of necessary licenses.
- By forcing doctors to charge private insurance a premium, under threat of the feds cutting off or reducing Medicare payments if they don't.
- By seizing control of companies (surely the federal government would never do that!), dumping the private plan, and signing aboard the government plan.
- By enacting legislation giving unions veto power to block any private health-care plan.
- By removing a corporate CEO and installing an Obama crony in his place.
Whew! That exercise took all of two and a half minutes.
June 18, 2009
How to Succeed in Politics Without Really Trying
As the Tribune Company reports (in nearly identical articles by the same reporters in the Chicago Tribune and the Los Angeles Times), and as noted by my old blogboss Ed Morrissey at Hot Air, President Barack H. Obama's firing of Gerald Walpin, Inspector General of AmeriCorps -- without the required notification of Congress 30 days prior and without giving any specific reason -- was not an aberration:
- Obama's Treasury Secretary, Timothy Geithner, has just effectively neutered the department's Special Inspector General, Neil Barofsky -- the "watchdog" of Treasury's Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP), a $700 billon program -- by denying him access to documents critical to an investigation he is conducting.
- The International Trade Commission, an independent federal agency -- four of the six commissioners are career Washington bureaucrats or Senate staffers -- has refused to renew the contract of its inspector general, Judith Gwynne; earlier, according to the Tribune articles, the Commission allowed one of their staffers to forcibly interfere with Gwynne's duties.
Both these other incidents allow some "plausible deniability" for the Obama administration: The ITC is an independent commission, and the White House now claims that Barofsky answers only to Treasury and disclaims any responsibility for his being handcuffed. But it's a bit thick to assume that the President of the United States has nothing to do with two incidents strikingly similar not only to his actions anent Walpin, but also Barack Obama's own electoral history prior to his presidential run.
(Amusingly, the law that Obama appears to have violated by abruptly firing Walpin, after giving him one hour to decide whether to do the decent thing and resign, was sponsored in the Senate by, among others, the junior senator from Illinois -- Barack H. Obama.)
ABC News has more details about how Secretary Geithner tightened the leash around the neck of Neil Barofsky, the once independent, now dependent Inspector General:
As part of his duties performing audits and keeping tracking TARP dollars, Barofsky asked the Treasury Department for some documents about a financial institution receiving tens of billions in taxpayer bailout dollars. The Treasury Department refused to hand them over, “on a specious claim of attorney-client privilege,” Grassley wrote. “It is my further understanding that this disagreement then escalated into broader questions about whether SIGTARP is subject to your direct supervision and direction, which may have been referred outside Treasury for an independent legal opinion.”
“The ability of Inspectors General to secure agency records subject to audit or investigation is essential to ensure the integrity and reliability of their work on behalf of Congress and the American People,” Grassley wrote. “The Inspectors General were created by Congress as a means to combat waste, fraud, and abuse and to be independent watchdogs ensuring that federal agencies are held accountable for their actions.”
Having been thwarted by the Treasury Secretary in trying to obtain the information necessary to investigate a particular financial institution -- on the risible grounds that allowing the Treasury Department's Inspector General to look at documents controlled by the Treasury Department somehow violates somebody's attorney-client privilege (the financial institution's privilege? the Department's privilege?) -- Barofsky complained to Secretary Geithner:
In a memo dated April 7, Barofsky -- referring to his office under the name SIGTARP, Special Inspector General for TARP -- clearly felt compelled to defend the independence of his office.
“SIGTARP believes that the Emergency Economic Stability Act of 2008…provides that SIGTARP is an independent entity within Treasury, that SIGTARP is not subject to the Secretary’s supervision, and that attorney-client privilege is not a bar to SIGTARP’s access to Treasury’s records or information,” Barofsky wrote to Geithner at the time.
But Treasury does not appear to be backing down: For the sin of investigating an unnamed "financial agency" that received "tens of billions in taxpayer bailout dollars," Barofsky's penance is to be told in no uncertain terms that he has no independent authority, and is simply to do what he is told... and to refrain from insubordinate and ill-mannered investigations of certain (unnamed) TARP recipients, whenever such probes make it hot for the political appointees. (Treasury jealously protects the anonymity of the institution; mayhap disclosure might make the real reason for short-circuiting the SIG too obvious.)
The precipitating incident involving Ms. Gwynne at the ITC is even more bizarre:
Separately, this week, the International Trade Commission told its acting inspector general that her contract would not be renewed. The trade agency is not subject to White House authority.
Grassley had become concerned about Judith Gwynn's independence because of a report this year that an agency employee had forcibly taken documents away from her as she tried to conduct an audit.
"It is difficult to understand why the ITC would not have taken action to ensure that the ITC inspector general had the information necessary to do the job," Grassley wrote on Tuesday.
Less than three hours after Grassley's letter was e-mailed to the agency, Gwynn was told that her contract would not be renewed. The contract is due to expire next month.
Presumably the next appointees to the job of Inspector General at both TARP and the ITC will be a bit more cooperative, or pliant, as it were, towards the very people he or she is expected to oversee. One of the Big Lizards axioms of life is that it's easy to win a political debate when you get to script both sides. The obvious corollary is that it's likewise easy to ensure you will never be embarassed by an investigation if you appoint one of your own to run it.
This is hardly unique to the Obamacle; but in the last century, the tactic does seem to be quite specific to liberals:
- Democrat Woodrow Wilson, thought by many to be the founder of modern liberalism, kicked off the tactic with a bang. In the midst of his second term, with the U.S. embroiled in World War I -- by the way, Wilson's 1916 campaign slogan was "He kept us out of the war!" -- he pushed Congress to enact the Secition Act of 1918... which made it a federal crime for foreign nationals or even American citizens to engage in "disloyal, profane, scurrilous, or abusive language" directed against the United States, the American flag, American troops -- or any branch of the United States government, including against President Wilson himself. Under Wilson's Sedition Act, people actually went to prison merely for dissenting against the war (including labor leader Eugene Debs). [That prohibition of "profane" language might well have tripped up the current president's former pastor...]
- Liberal Democrat and demagogue Franklin Roosevelt made an infamous attempt to pack the Supreme Court with enough new justices to allow him to beat every constitutional challenge to his New Deal socialist programs. He failed; but hey, at least he gave it the old Harvard try!
- And liberal Republican Richard Nixon just as memorably ordered Attorney General Elliott Richardson to fire Archibald Cox, the special prosecutor who had just demanded the White House hand over its secret tapes. After Richardson refused and resigned in protest, Nixon ordered Deputy Attorney General William Ruckelshaus to do the dirt; when Ruckelshaus also refused and resigned, Nixon ordered Soliciter General Robert Bork to axe Cox; Bork complied. (For those who believe Nixon cannot have been a liberal because he was anti-Communist, please see the political careers of, e.g., Vice President Hubert Humphrey, President Harry Truman, and Sen. Estes Kefauver; for those who believe Nixon cannot have been a liberal because he was a Republican, please see the political career of Lincoln Chafee.)
The lesson was well learnt by the Obamacle. In his earlier elections, B.O. did a magnificent job of forcing off of the ballot every other candidate, leaving himself the only viable candidate:
- In his 1996 run for the Illinois State Senate, Obama sent supporter Ron Davis to disqualify signatures on the nominating petitions of the other three candidates in the race, including incumbent Democratic state Sen. Alice Palmer. Obama ran unopposed; surprisingly, he won the nomination, and subsequently the general election (the seat was safely Democratic).
In 2004, he decided he needed a promotion, so he ran for the United States Senate. His opponent was Jack Ryan, a retired Goldman Sachs multi hundred-millionaire and Chicago parochial school teacher. Ryan had been married to Jeri Ryan ("Seven of Nine" in Star Trek: Voyager), and they had divorced five years earlier. After a subterranean e-mail campaign by Obama supporters to the elite Chicago and national media, the Chicago Tribune and WLS-TV (ABC) sued to get their hands not only on the divorce file but the custody file as well, hoping to find some dirt on Ryan. Either Ryan. Or maybe on the kid.
A referee appointed by the court decided to release specific allegations Jeri Ryan had made during the custody hearing that her husband twice took her to a sex club where he wanted them (she said) to have sex in a room with other couples. Both Jack and Jeri Ryan had urged that the custody files not be released; but the Obamadroids and their media allies urged they be made public, presumably on the legal grounds that hurting the chances of Republican candidates is a constitutional imperative in Illinois.
In the wake of the "scandal" -- imagine, a politician who might be an exhibitionist! -- Ryan was forced by the party to resign and was replaced by joke candidate Alan Keyes. Obama went on to win in a 43-point landslide.
- And of course, even Obama's primary campaign in 2008 was tainted by the contretemps involving the Florida and Michigan delegations; and he only beat Hillary Clinton because the early states were mosly winner-take-all, while the delegates of the later states (when Hillary was ascendent) were proportially allocated.
Thus when the One We Have Been Writhing Under fires inspectors general -- or they are fired by his cronies, or even by independent commissioners who share the same quasi-religious belief in their own anointment by the gods to do whatever they see fit and proper -- he operates under a long, though not very honorable tradition of thinking himself above the law... even above a law that He, Himself, sponsored when he was a lowly junior senator from Illinois.
It's a liberal thing; you wouldn't understand.
May 4, 2009
Silvestre the Prat
Chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, Rep. Silvestre Reyes (D-TX, 82%), has now sent a letter to the CIA apologizing for Congress' role anent the controversy over waterboarding and other "enhanced" interrogation techniques.
No, really; in his letter, he laments that the Intel Committee didn't run all interrogations more directly, instead leaving such vital functions to professionals who actually knew what they were doing:
"One important lesson to me from the CIA's interrogation operations involves congressional oversight," wrote Mr. Reyes, Texas Democrat. "I'm going to examine closely ways in which we can change the law to make our own oversight of CIA more meaningful; I want to move from mere notification to real discussion. Good oversight can lead to a partnership, and that's what I am looking to bring about."
The letter both seeks to excuse Democrats who were briefed after Sept. 11, 2001, about interrogation techniques such as waterboarding and at the same time suggests that members of Congress cleared to receive highly classified material have a responsibility in the future to let their criticisms be known.
I read this as saying, in effect, "Yes, I admit that we were partly to blame" -- wipes tear from eye -- "we should never have allowed the CIA to make intelligence decisions that we could easily have made in their place." One presumes that little bit of awkward permissiveness will be corrected henceforth, and Congress will assume much more aggressive and direct control of intelligence operations. "No more license for you, young man!" From now on, CIA Director Leon Panetta will sit quietly and wait for instructions from Congress before interrogating any captured man-caused disaster-causing men.
On the other hand, given Panetta's odd set of credentials for his job in the first place -- he was never in the CIA (or any other intelligence-related organization); and in his sixteen years in the House of Representatives, he never served on the Intelligence Committee -- perhaps it's just as well that Congress takes the lead role in this one instance.
(I am being a bit unfair to Director Panetta. It's true he had no formal participation in intelligence gathering or analysis whatsoever, unlike his predecessor, Michael Hayden -- who had a long and distinguished intelligence career before heading up the CIA, including stints running the Air Force's Air Intelligence Agency and working as an intelligence officer in Guam, being Principal Deputy Director of National Intelligence, and running the National Security Agency. But on the third hand, Leon Panetta "has long been an advocate for the health of the world's oceans"... surely a distinction that Hayden cannot claim!)
On the fourth hand, House Intelligence Chair Reyes doesn't exactly come to the table with cleanly scrubbed paws; there is that slight, ah, faux pas he made when his pal, Squeaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA, 100%), assigned him that committee chairmanship over longtime ranking member and co-statist Jane Harman (D-CA, 100%): Asked by reporter Jeff Stein of the Congressional Quarterly whether al-Qaeda was primarily a Sunni or Shiite organization, Reyes -- who had sat on the House Intelligence Committee and Armed Services Committee for eight years or so -- answered thus:
"Al Qaeda, they have both,” he answered, adding: “Predominantly probably Shi’ite.”
In fact, Al Qaeda was founded by Usama bin Laden as a Sunni organisation and views Shia Muslims as heretics. The centuries-old now fuels the militias and death squads in Iraq.
Jeff Stein, a reporter for Congressional Quarterly, then put a similar question about Hezbollah, the Lebanese Shia group. “Hezbollah. Uh, Hezbollah . . .” replied Mr Reyes. “Why do you ask me these questions at five o’clock? Can I answer in Spanish? Do you speak Spanish?” Go ahead, said Stein. “Well, I, uh . . .” said the congressman.
On the fifth hand, another former Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV, 94%), had his own small brush with destiny: When he was the ranking minority member (which the committee somewhat pompously calls the "committee vice chairman"), he appears to have been a target of a probe by the Justice Department about whether he and former fellow committee member then-Sen. Dick Durbin may have leaked classified information about a new spy-satellite program (including some of the satellite's weaknesses).
Though it's not certain who the probe targetted (we have not yet seen any results yet), the leak immediately followed and buttressed criticism by Rockefeller and Durbin on the floor of the Senate, and Durbin at least subsequently opined that the leak "points to a weakness of the whole process...[that] it takes a leak to understand that billions of taxpayers' dollars are being wasted that could be spent to make America safer."
And a few months earlier (hand number six), a mystery memo drifted out of Rockefeller's "vice chairman's" office in early November, 2003; it was a Democratic game-plan for politicizing an investigation on pre-Iraq war intelligence gathering, using the joint report -- and a planned exclusive minority report -- to campaign against President George W. Bush in 2004. The Wall Steet Journal editorialized on the case a couple of days later (link may require either a subscription or registration; I'm not sure):
Mr. Rockefeller refuses to denounce the memo, which he says was unauthorized and written by staffers. If that's the case, at the very least some heads ought to roll. A good place to start would be minority staff director Christopher Mellon, who served as deputy assistant secretary of defense for intelligence in the Clinton Administration.
But we'd say Republicans ought to go further and make this a matter of political consequence. After months of Democratic charges about the "politicization of intelligence" based on little or no evidence, this memo is smoking gun proof of precisely that. A referral to the Senate Ethics Committee seems in order, and we'd even suggest that the entire committee be shut down, cleaned out and reconstituted later, preferably after the next election.
This may seem like political shenanigans, but we've been here before as a nation. With the Church Committee purges of the 1970s, U.S. intelligence gathering was crippled for a generation, arguably right up through 9/11. Given the crucial importance of intelligence to the war on terror, the country can't afford a repeat Congressional performance.
Sen. Rockefeller still sits on the Senate Intelligence Committee, evidently unscathed and unabashed by his earlier exploits. This history of congressional involvement in the collection, analysis, and management (including keeping secrets!) of vital classified intelligence should at least give the reader a moment's pause about whether expanding congressional control would actually improve matters.
The award for Howler of the Day (last Friday, May Day 2009) goes to the following exchange, from the Washington Times story about House Intelligence Chairman Reyes' letter:
Mike Delaney, staff director for the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, said Mr. Reyes had not received complaints from the CIA about President Obama's decision last month to release Justice Department memos authorizing so-called enhanced interrogation and describing methods that Mr. Obama has banned.
"No, we've not received complaints from CIA work force," Mr. Delaney said. "CIA employees, in the chairman's experience, typically don't complain."
No, they make their displeasures known in more gracious, subtle ways: they leak classified information to blow the cover of operations they dislike, thus destroying their effectiveness.
It's tempting to simply say "a plague on both their houses" and be done with them. Alas, they're responsible for being the nation's eyes and ears. But has anyone looked into the possibility outsourcing the job to Israel's Mossad? They, at least, are run by professionals.
April 25, 2009
Albert & Me
Monckton challenges; Gore clucks
According to what appears to be a blog (it's hard to tell these days), Lord Christopher Monckton, former advisor to the Iron Lady of Britain, was invited by Republicans to give skeptical testimony at a globaloney hearing, to respond to the "celebrity witness" brought by the Democrats: None other than Rantin' Al himself:
"Shut up," he explained
But a funny thing happened on the way to the Rotunda... Lord Monckton suddenly found himself un-invited by the majority Democrats:
UK's Lord Christopher Monckton, a former science advisor to Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, claimed House Democrats have refused to allow him to appear alongside former Vice President Al Gore at a high profile global warming hearing on Friday April 24, 2009 at 10am in Washington. Monckton told Climate Depot that the Democrats rescinded his scheduled joint appearance at the House Energy and Commerce hearing on Friday. Monckton said he was informed that he would not be allowed to testify alongside Gore when his plane landed from England Thursday afternoon.
“The House Democrats don't want Gore humiliated, so they slammed the door of the Capitol in my face,” Monckton told Climate Depot in an exclusive interview. “They are cowards.”
Monckton evidently chased Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA, 95%) around the Capitol -- rather like Michael Moore in Roger & Me chasing Roger Smith, CEO of GM; Monckton was trying to get himself reinvited to the hearing, but no dice. In the end, the Democrats reluctantly allowed the GOP to bring a different witness... the well-known climatologist Newt Gingrich.
Evidently, they find it less nerve wracking for Algore to debate another dilettante politician than one who, despite not being a scientist, has nevertheless devoted a very substantial portion of his life for many years to a skeptical inquiry into the pseudoscience of Anthropogenic Global Climate Change (AGCC).
For example, Monckton raised the funding necessary to successfully prosecute a case in the High Court of Justice, in October 2007, preventing Algore's mission-to-Kyoto agitprop cult film "An Inconvenient Truth" from being played in British schools as part of the science curriculum. Monckton has published many articles heaping derision upon the crackpot theory... and he is likely to be far more up on contemporary research casting doubt on the AGCC than is the intellectually profligate Gingrich:
“The Democrats have a lot to learn about the right of free speech under the US Constitution. Congress Henry Waxman's (D-CA) refusal to expose Al Gore's sci-fi comedy-horror testimony to proper, independent scrutiny by the House minority reeks of naked fear,” Monckton said from the airport Thursday evening.
“Waxman knows there has been no 'global warming' for at least a decade. Waxman knows there has been seven and a half years' global cooling. Waxman knows that, in the words of the UK High Court judge who condemned Gore's mawkish movie as materially, seriously, serially inaccurate, 'the Armageddon scenario that he depicts is not based on any scientific view,'” Monckton explained. Monckton has previously testified before the House Committee in March.
Not having the expertise of Algore -- who, after all, won the Nobel Piece Prize for a piece of liberal lunacy -- Monckton was mailed back to England postage due. How fortunate -- how (dare I say it?) convenient -- that Algore will not have to respond to Monckton after all. Isn't it nice to have such useful friends in high places?
April 22, 2009
On the Other Hand...
Over at my favorite blog, John Hinderaker wrote a post about the absurdist betrayal by Democrats who want to hold hearings trashing intelligence agents -- and bully the Obama administration into prosecuting them -- for the crime of doing what everyone, including the congressional Democrats themselves, urged them to do... namely, keep America safe from al-Qaeda, Iran, and other violent, murderous terrorists.
Paul Mirengoff adds a coda to the piece. In it, he writes:
Moreover hearings would enable these officials to have their say; right now the left-wing MSM largely controls what the public learns about these issues.
Obama understands this. That is why he -- and even more tellingly, his smartest political operative Rahm Emanuel -- initially seemed to be against the idea of prosecutions and showed little enthusiasm for congressional hearings.
Why has Obama shifted his position? Probably because he is weak, indecisive, and "not always up to standard on decision-making."
Paul's suggested motivation is possible, of course; but there is another possibility he evidently has not considered. Perhaps Obama changed his mind because his former colleages in the Senate and House have assured him that the subjects of the congressional witch hunts will not be allowed "to have their say"... that just like much of the legislation that passes through Congress these days, the hearings will only be open to witnesses with the correct political position.
Don't imagine they have any moral scruples that would argue against it!
April 2, 2009
The Great Dictator, part (C)
If you want a picture of the future, imagine an iron fist clutching a smiley face -- forever.
The first two posts of this miniseries were:
We ended the last segment with a tease:
The final step of a liberal fascist takeover of the industry would be to control the wages of all employees, to be able to set them however they want.
But now, in a little-noticed move, the House Financial Services Committee, led by chairman Barney Frank, has approved a measure that would, in some key ways, go beyond the most draconian features of the original AIG bill. The new legislation, the "Pay for Performance Act of 2009," would impose government controls on the pay of all employees -- not just top executives -- of companies that have received a capital investment from the U.S. government. It would, like the tax measure, be retroactive, changing the terms of compensation agreements already in place. And it would give Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner extraordinary power to determine the pay of thousands of employees of American companies.
The author of the article, Byron York, is the former White House correspondent for the National Review; he now writes for the Washington D.C. Examiner. York describes the legislation that Chairman Barney Frank (D-MA, 100%) has approved:
The measure is not limited just to those firms that received the largest sums of money, or just to the top 25 or 50 executives of those companies. It applies to all employees of all companies involved, for as long as the government is invested. And it would not only apply going forward, but also retroactively to existing contracts and pay arrangements of institutions that have already received funds.
In addition, the bill gives Geithner the authority to decide what pay is "unreasonable" or "excessive." And it directs the Treasury Department to come up with a method to evaluate "the performance of the individual executive or employee to whom the payment relates."
There really is no other way to describe this than a fascistic economic policy, where by "fascistic" I mean corporate socialism, similar to that developed most extensively by Italian dictator Benito Mussolini. (Adolf Hitler did not invent it; he admired the economics of "Il Duce" so much, he copied them in his "Third Reich".)
Before moving further, it's important to note that fascism, while it has the stench of racism, antisemitism, and warmongering for conquest, is not strictly defined that way. An administration can be fascistic even if it has not the slightest whiff of any of those qualities. That said, however, the current administration is an open and unapologetic fan of race-based preferences; is packed to the gills with ardent foes of Israel who too often slop over into naked Jew hatred (using the code phrase "the Israel lobby"); and fecklessly threatened to invade Pakistan even before Barack H. Obama was elected; it can hardly be said to be anti-racist, philosemitic, or pacific.
The bill was actually authored by freshman Rep. Alan Grayson (D-FL, not yet rated), most famous until now for filing lawsuits against Halliburton; the fair-minded and non-prejudicial Grayson offered this unique reason for House members to vote for the bill:
"This bill will show which Republicans are so much on the take from the financial services industry that they're willing to actually bless compensation that has no bearing on performance and is excessive and unreasonable," Grayson said. "We'll find out who are the people who understand that the public's money needs to be protected, and who are the people who simply want to suck up to their patrons on Wall Street."
These are not the words of a man who has any love of the free market, individualism, limited government, or Capitalism whatsoever. I venture to say that Mr. Grayson veers perilously close to totalitarianism... and he might not even mind the label.
Too often a false contrast is made between the impersonal marketplace and the compassionate policies of various government programs. But both systems face the same scarcity of resources and both systems make choices within the constraints of that scarcity. The difference is that one system involves each individual making choices for himself or herself, while the other system involves a smaller number of people making choices for others.
It may be fashionable for journalists to refer to “the whim of the marketplace,” as if that were something different from the desires of people, just as it was once fashionable to refer to “production for use, rather than for profit” -- as if profits could be made by producing things that people cannot use or do not want to use. The real contrast is between choices made by individuals for themselves and choices made for them by others who presume to define what these individuals “really” need.
We must contrast the clarity, logical development, and true love of freedom found in Sowell's argument with the crabbed, self-serving, power-mad, authoritarian, arrogant, condescending, ill-informed, adolescent wish-fulfillment of Barack Obama, Timothy Geithner, Barney Frank, Alan Grayson, Squeaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Haight-Ashbury, 100%), Majority Leader Harry "Pinky" Reid (D-Caesar's Palace, 70%), and every other member of the liberal cabal that wants to hijack our country and turn it into Sweden. Or into fascist Italy of the 1920s, 30s, and early 40s.
Thomas Sowell is above all an American man who loves the American experiment... while the Obamunists are from Venus, I think. Barack Obama despises everything that the United States is right now; he will only love his country when it's no longer our country, but just an extension of the EU and the UN.
But always with a smiley face. Never forget the smiley face... that's the distinction that makes one a compassionate liberal fascist, which makes all the difference.
March 27, 2009
How Could "Wall Street" Rahm Be Such a Liberal Fascist? (Actually, How Could He Not?)
Beldar has a thought-provoking post up about Rahm Emanuel's "lost years," the two and a half or three years he worked as an "investment banker" on Wall Street, amassing from a low of $16 million to a high of "nearly twenty million dollars," despite having no relevant experience and no applicable degree. That's translates to a range of from $5.3 million per year up to a possible $8 million per year... not bad, for a guy who is less qualified to be an investment banker than my wife -- who at least worked in a bank once.
Here is the thought Beldar's t-p'ing post provoked in me: It's generally acknowledged in free-market circles that the bigger a business, the more government-like it becomes... and the less it supports actual market economics.
Megacorporations much prefer the stability and predictability of government contracting (domestic or foreign) to getting down in the trenches and selling to the peons; that's why Benito Mussolini got so much cooperation from the Italian corporations for his fascist economics (i.e., corporate socialism); the corporations were guaranteed monopolies and massive profits, and all they had to do was obey any orders from the government -- non c'è problema! Il Duce never told them to do anything against their natures.
(Think of the opening salvo against Capitalism in Rand's novel Atlas Shrugged... the "Anti Dog Eat Dog" rule -- which is enunciated not by the government but by the supposedly private railroads themselves: They connive to divide up the country so that no railroad ever has to compete with any other railroad. Rand may have been a mathematical and logical dummy, but she did know her recent history.)
Thus, for all their protestations today, I doubt that most of the American corporations large enough to be receiving government rescue/bailout packages are very frightened of the plan recently announced by Secretary of the Treasury and tax evader Timothy Geithner, which would essentially put all companies that are publicly traded or have any other nexus to the feds under the more or less direct control of the federal government... a stage of what I think Jonah Goldberg would call "liberal fascism."
Rahm Emanuel was clearly a tool of Big Banking during those three lost years... so it's not much of a shock that he rattles on against Capitalism today. He still serves the same masters.
And so does President Barack H. Obama.
March 25, 2009
More Obamunism: Who Controls the Newspapers Controls the Present
Sen. Benjamin Cardin (D-MD, 100%) has ridden in on his white horse with a wonderful suggestion for newspapers that are in financial trouble (which is pretty much all of them): Reincorporate as 501 (c) (3) not-for-profit educational institutions, which would exempt them from most income tax (except for "unrelated business income").
Of course, the move would also absolutely prohibit political advocacy, lobbying, or electioneering... which as I read it would even preclude publishing editorials critical of, e.g., the administration of Barack H. Obama. Or of individual Democratic senators, such as Benjamin Cardin. But that ought to be a good thing, no? Surely we all want newspapers to be politically neutral gatherers of fact and disseminators of the truth!
With many U.S. newspapers struggling to survive, a Democratic senator on Tuesday introduced a bill to help them by allowing newspaper companies to restructure as nonprofits with a variety of tax breaks.
"This may not be the optimal choice for some major newspapers or corporate media chains but it should be an option for many newspapers that are struggling to stay afloat," said Senator Benjamin Cardin....
Cardin's Newspaper Revitalization Act would allow newspapers to operate as nonprofits for educational purposes under the U.S. tax code, giving them a similar status to public broadcasting companies.
Under this arrangement, newspapers would still be free to report on all issues, including political campaigns. But they would be prohibited from making political endorsements.
The comparison to PBS is apt; as we have all seen, PBS is forbidden from any political editorializing, politicking, electioneering, or advocacy. But of course, if they're merely reporting on issues -- straight "reporting," such as:
- That the Iraq war was a disastrous defeat for America;
- That rampant, unregulated, laissez-faire Capitalism is what got us into the financial crisis;
- That the only thing that will save us now is complete nationalization of the economy;
- That Israel is the cause of all problems in the Middle East;
- That without government-run health care, we'll all die of cancer by age 60;
- That anthropogenic global climate change is universally accepted by "science;" thus the time for denial by denying deniers (i.e., "high crimes against humanity and nature" or "intergenerational crime in the face of all the knowledge and science from over 20 years") has ended once and for all;
...That sort of straight, unbiased, apolitical news reporting will naturally still be allowed. You can't prohibit educational institutions such as the New York Times and the Washington Post from educating, can you?
But biased, divisive, obstructionist, obsolete, disloyal, and partisan politicking will no longer be legally allowed in newspapers. After all, they have a duty (as tax-exempt organizations) to educate, which means to tell the truth... "the truth" to be determined by the unbiased, professional, expert auditors at the Bureau of Internal Revenue. Who else?
Ergo, newspapers would have to cease publishing any future columns or opinion pieces by such talking-point, robot-army soldiers as Douglas Feith, David Freddoso, Rush Limbaugh, Mark Steyn, or John Hinderaker. But the papers wouldn't suffer from a lack of content, as they would be perfectly free to publish nonpartisan disseminators of pure truthful information, free from slant and politics, including Molly Ivins, Markos Moulitsas, Keith Olbermann, Jim Lehrer, and Bill Moyers.
What I cannot fathom, however, is why a Democrat, a member of the ADA's "100%-er" club, would push for the elite newspaper medium to switch from publishing such ardently tilted and mendacious flummery (such as opinion pieces by atmospheric physicists or meteorologists disputing Algore's 95 theses on globaloney) to the calm, measured, unemotional, multilateral, fact-based pronouncements of Nobel Prize winners such as, well, such as Algore. And Paul Krugman.
All this time, I've wrongly accused Democrats like Cardin of being mindless, vermin-infested, screeching blue monkeys, swooping overhead and hurling their feces down on the rest of us, then hauling us off to the Wicked Rodham of the West. And the little dog we rode in on, too.
I'm stunned that such a senator would abandon faction and ideology for the cold, unadorned, reality-based solution of turning profitless newspapers into non-profit ones, in effect, nationalizing the entire news-gathering industry. (To promote greater freedom of speech, of course.)
March 19, 2009
Obama's State-Ownership Society
Back in the precambrian era -- in fall of 2008, I of course mean -- we warned in several posts that when the federal government takes an "equity interest" (ownership in whole or in significant part) in private companies, it creates a grave threat to the capitalist system:
- Democrats Channel Hugo Chavez in Rescue Demands
- While Washington Wilts, Soros Schemes
- Is It Adios to Capitalism - or Only Au Revoir?
When government buys a significant stake in private companies, it creates a terrible conflict of interest; decisions that should be made entirely on economic grounds -- attempting to maximize the long-term profit for the owners of the company, whether stockholders or private consortia -- are made instead by politicians pushing a particular political ideology, or else trying to benefit big campaign donors.
Corporate management is ultimately accountable to the owners (though owners can be derelict in their fiduciary duties), while politicians are accountable only to voters and donors, neither of which may have any particular concern about the financial viability of particular private companies in the government's stock portfolio.
This is how we explained it in the first post linked above:
The latter especially is a key element of Woodrow Wilson, Benito Mussolini style fascism; it invariably leads to the State, as the $700 billion gorilla on the board of directors, exerting overwhelming control over corporate decisions... which it will exercise on the basis of politics, not profits.
When people read "fascism," they immediately tend to envision concentration camps, jackboots, and Nazis goosestepping at mass rallies; but the real danger of fascism, especially liberal fascism (fascism with a smiley face, as depicted -- against author Jonah Goldberg's wishes -- on the cover of his book Liberal Fascism), is government control of corporations. The more control is handed over to politicians and bureaucrats who have no hand in actually producing the product (loans and securities, in this case), the more critical decisions will be made on irrelevant political considerations, often leading to financial disaster... and another bailout, leading to even more government control. Eventually, the State completely hijacks the corporation for political purposes... and we're well on our way to Hugo Chavez-land.
The threat posed by the government taking an equity interest in private companies can be minimized by making it a matter of law that the holdings are fully divested as soon as buyers can be found at market prices -- either the company buying back its own stock or private third parties taking it off government's hands; in the third Big Lizards post linked up top, "Is It Adios to Capitalism - or Only Au Revoir?", we discussed this possibility:
With the long-expected decision today by President George W. Bush, Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, and Fed Chief Ben Bernanke that Treasury will spend $250 billion of the $700 billion buying equity stakes in nine top banks, thus injecting "liquidity" directly into the industry, we stand at a crossroads. The question is whether this is "goodbye" to Capitalism or just "see you soon"... whether this is a permanent break from free markets or just a necessary but temporary bank holiday....
The direct injection of liquidity by Treasury buying equity is also outside the market, because that money is extracted from people by force, in the form of taxes. But at the core, even this direct investment is an attempt to buy time to complete the "transparentizing" (horrible neologism, I know) of the toxic assets -- the recreation of the information that was lost by multiple unregulated securitizations of massive collections of mortgages.
Once the [timely, honest, accurate, and believable information] has been restored to the mortgage-backed securities and other instruments, the market can reboot itself...
With the restoration of the missing THABI information, the market can reboot, and the catastrophe will be averted. So long as partial-nationalization of the banking industry lasts only long enough to retransparentize the toxic assets, thus allowing the market to begin functioning again, it will be an acceptable, even necessary intervention.
Alas, there is nothing in the Obama administration's bailout that implies they will, in fact, consider this a temporary expedient; from everything I've read, they see it as a permanent "reform."
There are two classic anti-capitalist examples of divesting funds for political reasons; together, they point out the very real danger when government becomes a part owner of the private sector through enforced or distressed nationalization (we have seen both in the present crisis):
- When universities, big corporations, and of course government programs in the 1970s dumped all their investments in companies based in South Africa or doing business in South Africa, even if they were based elsewhere, to protest Apartheid; this was in response to purely political pressure from black activist groups here in the United States.
- And when the usual suspects more recently dumped all investment in Israel, Israeli companies, or companies that did not ritually denounce Israel, in response to purely political pressure from antisemitic, anti-Israel, and generally pro-Palestinian and Islamist activist groups.
Both are examples of government trying to use equity ownership to bully the private sector into purely political actions that have nothing whatsoever to do with the companies in question.
When the government is a significant investor in a company, it cannot help running those companies; government funds never come "string free." Worse, the State runs those companies not to make profits, but to score political points.
In fact, that is exactly what is happening in the case of American International Group (AIG): We have such a huge investment in that company now, $80 billion, that how much they pay employees in retention "bonuses" (inducements to continue working for AIG, rather than jumping ship to some less shaky company) has become a political football.
In fact, the U.S. House of Representatives has just voted overwhelmingly, 328 to 93, to enact a confiscatory tax on AIG employees -- almost by name! -- if AIG fulfills its contractual obligations by paying the employees who stayed on for the work they did (reducing AIG's liability from $2.7 trillion to $1.6 trillion):
Spurred on by a tidal wave of public anger over bonuses paid to executives of the foundering American International Group, the House voted 328 to 93 on Thursday to get back most of the money by levying a 90 percent tax on it....
But there was no doubt after the House vote that the lawmakers were keenly aware of their constituents’ anger, which was focused on A.I.G., although the House measure would apply to executives of any company getting more than $5 billion in federal bailout money.
Hours after the vote, the office of Andrew M. Cuomo, the New York attorney general, said A.I.G. had turned over the names of employees who received bonuses, in response to a subpoena.
Before releasing the list, the attorney general’s office plans to review it and assess whether individuals on it might have reason to fear for their safety.
“We are aware of the security concerns of A.I.G. employees, and we will be sensitive to those issues by doing a risk assessment before releasing any individual’s name,” Mr. Cuomo’s office said in a statement.
Well that's mighty decent of them.
So the bill was openly and unabashedly driven by constituent anger -- anger that cannot possibly be based upon a sober and detailed consideration of whether those particular employees deserved those particular bonuses; in fact, the most likely culprit in ginning up such rage and fury is Congress itself, along with the president, who have been demonizing AIG and its employees for months now. It happened again in the debate on this very bill:
“The people have said ‘no,’ ” Representative Earl Pomeroy, Democrat of North Dakota, shouted on the House floor. “In fact, they said ‘hell no, and give us our money back.’ ”
“Have the recipients of these checks no shame at all?” Mr. Pomeroy continued. Summing up his personal view of the so-far anonymous A.I.G. executives, he said: “You are disgraced professional losers. And by the way, give us our money back.”
Great leaping horny toads. I had to wipe spittle-spray off my face after just reading it! "Disgraced professional losers?" Is Earl "Elmer Gantry" Pomeroy (D-ND, 85%) under the impression that these bonuses are going to the actual folks in the credit default swap area, who are the ones who brought AIG down? Or is Pomeroy just blindly striking out against anyone who makes more money than he?
And while we're on the subject, I think there is not a single Democrat in Congress to whom I could not say, “You are disgraced professional losers; and by the way, give us our money back.” And with a damn sight more justification, Earl.
Contrariwise, John Hinderaker -- my favorite blogger on my favorite blogsite, Power Line -- makes a compelling case that the bonuses were in fact perfectly proper:
- They were retention bonuses, not performance bonuses.
- They were paid, not to the employees responsible for the collapse, but to other employees who have worked hard for months after the collapse to rescue AIG... rather than jumping ship with their expert knowledge of AIG's exact portfolio problems, taking jobs with other companies that had better futures.
- As John writes, "[the employees] satisfied the terms of the bonus by wrapping up a portfolio for which they were responsible and/or staying on the job until now. As a result of the efforts of this group, AIG's financial products exposure is down from $2.7 trillion to $1.6 trillion.
- They stayed at AIG precisely because of those bonuses; but now the government, having eaten the fruit of that labor as an equity holder, wants those bonuses to go, not to the people who earned it, but to the government itself!
But note how carefully the Times dances around the question of who exactly is getting the bonuses, and what those people's roles were in the collapse:
The $165 million in bonuses has spawned rage in part because it was paid to executives in the very unit of A.I.G. that arguably turned a stable, prosperous insurance company into a dice-rolling financial firm in search of quick profits.
But there must have been hundreds of employees working in the financial products division! Does the Times think that every employee, from vice president down to secretary, was personally responsible for the foolish decisions that nearly killed AIG? Do liberals fantasize even that every executive in that division was responsible?
If new (post-collapse) AIG CEO Edward Liddy is telling the truth, and so far no current or former employee has come forth to contradict him, then the bonuses are going to people who were not responsible for the collapse, but are responsible for helping AIG deal with the collapse after the fact.
These are the people that Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA, 100%) calls corrupt:
Representative Barney Frank, the Massachusetts Democrat who heads the House Financial Services Committee and has been among A.I.G.’s fiercest critics, spoke contemptuously of the bonus recipients as people “who had to be bribed not to abandon the company” they had nearly ruined.
Wouldn't that same language, "bribed not to abandon the company," apply to every employee who ever demanded a raise?
It's another example of liberals' inability to deal with complexity; for all their protestations of having more subtle minds, they are really quite simplistic: The poor (and the rich who "represent" them) are always good; the productive core are always bad; and every moral question is the same shade of neutral gray.
John makes the same point as we anent this ridiculous 90% "tax," which is actually a deliberate attempt at confiscation, as the president made clear yesterday in Orange County. John writes:
The legislation introduced by the Democrats today to tax these bonuses (and possibly a few others, although it isn't clear that any others have been or will be paid that are covered by the statute) at a 90 percent rate is an outrage. It is, in my legal opinion, obviously unconstitutional. It is evidently intended to calm the current political firestorm and not to achieve any real objective.
John refers to the legislation as "introduced by the Democrats;" while that's technically true, it's only a half-truth: Democrats may have proposed it, but the House GOP split almost 50-50 on what Hinderaker (a lawyer) and I (a "sea-lawyer") see as an obvious bill of attainder.
In fact, the AP version of the Times article demonstrates Republican cowardice in the House: 87 Republicans voted against the "tax"; but 85 Republicans voted with the Democrats, blaming those retained employees for all of our woes... most switching at the last minute:
Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, said the bill was "a political circus" diverting attention from why the administration hadn't done more to block the bonuses before they were paid.
However, although a number of Republicans cast "no" votes against the measure at first, there was a heavy GOP migration to the "yes" side in the closing moments.
This is out and out pandering by the GOP... and it's vile. If we cannot even count on the House Republicans to stand up to liberal demagoguery, to stand up for Capitalism, then what is the point?
It's time for Minority Leader Boehner (R-OH, 100%) to fish or get off the pot: Does he lead a party that is distinct from the liberal Democratic majority, that is center-right, and that still believes in Capitalism, the rule of law, and conservative principles of governance? Has he learned the lessons of 2006 and 2008? Or does Boehner believe that the GOP's best shot at returning to power is to morph into a quieter, gentler version of the Democratic Party, pushing a slightly more restrained version of Obamunism?
I'd really like to know the answer to that conundrum before the next election.
March 18, 2009
From Little ACORNs, a Mighty Hoax Will Grow
A few days ago, I posted what I thought was a parody post of future headline stories in the four years to come of the administration of Barack H. Obama.
As Bullwinkle T. Moose might say, "Ooh! Don't know mah own strength!"
In that post, I wrote:
The Department of Elections "Project for Democracy and People," formerly the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN), has released final rules for the 2012 congressional and presidential elections, to be held from July 1st through December 31st next year. "The Universal Assisted Voting Act will be fully enforced," said Elections Secretary Maude Hurd, reached at her departmental headquarters in Davos, Switzerland....
But today, I found this curious story on Fox News:
The Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now signed on as a national partner with the U.S. Census Bureau in February 2009 to assist with the recruitment of the 1.4 million temporary workers needed to go door-to-door to count every person in the United States -- currently believed to be more than 306 million people.
A U.S. Census "sell sheet," an advertisement used to recruit national partners, says partnerships with groups like ACORN "play an important role in making the 2010 Census successful," including by "help[ing] recruit census workers."
The bureau is currently employing help from more than 250 national partners, including TARGET and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), to assist in the hiring effort.
But ACORN's partnership with the 2010 Census is worrisome to lawmakers who say past allegations of fraud should raise concerns about the organization.
You just can't make this stuff up. Or actually, you can; but as my sad experience illustrates, fantasy becomes nightmarish reality before the ink even dries on the monitor screen.
Close observation informs us that Fox News, in a burst of excess conservatism, uses the phrase "allegations of fraud;" this opens the door for ACORN simply to repeat their unofficial motto as a defense against all criticism: "ACORN -- Not Formally Charged (as an organization) Yet!"
ACORN spokesman Scott Levenson told FOXNews.com that "ACORN as an organization has not been charged with any crime." He added that fears that the organization will unfairly influence the census are unfounded.
Well, that's reassuring. Of course, plenty of members of ACORN have been formally charged and even convicted of voter fraud; and the organization itself has had its offices raided by police, its records seized, and its voter registrations and absentee ballots rejected by the thousands:
ACORN, which claims to be a non-partisan grassroots community organization of low- and moderate-income people, came under fire in 2007 when Washington State filed felony charges against several paid ACORN employees and supervisors for more than 1,700 fraudulent voter registrations. In March 2008, an ACORN worker in Pennsylvania was sentenced for making 29 phony voter registration forms. The group's activities were frequently questioned in the 2008 presidential election.
Members of a new task force designed to prevent voter fraud raided the Las Vegas office of an organization that works with low-income people on everything from voting to neighborhood improvements.
State investigators, armed with a search warrant, sought evidence of voter fraud at the office of the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, known as ACORN, a Nevada Secretary of State's office spokesman said today....
There are allegations that some registration applications were completed with false information, while other applications attempted to register the same person multiple times, Miller said.
"We've been told that some of the allegedly erroneous applications even included the names of players from the Dallas Cowboys football team," Miller said.
ACORN frequently employs former felons -- some convicted of identity theft! -- on its payroll to register voters and "assist" them with absentee ballots; but they also sometimes employ convicted felons who are currently incarcerated:
In a 19-page affidavit by criminal investigator Colin Hayes of the Secretary of State's office, Hayes said 59 inmates worked for ACORN between March 5 and July 31.
One ex-employee of ACORN, Jason Anderson, rose to the rank of a supervisor in the voter registration program although he was a convicted felon and an inmate at Casa Grande at the time, the affidavit said.
Powerhouse blogs like Power Line, Michelle Malkin, Hot Air, and many other sites have documented numerous examples of ACORN's mendacity in voter registrations and absentee-ballot handling, from allegations to indictments to convictions of ACORN employees. In light of this cascade of evidence, from sources ranging from the elite media to local media to law-enforcement investigations to courtroom testimony, the "defense" offered by ACORN officials -- that the organization as a whole has not yet been formally charged, à la the prosecution against the Holy Land Foundation -- looks more and more pathetic.
As we argued here, the decennial census is vital to determining congressional districts, state legislative districts, and disbursing funding from legislation; yet the Democratic Party in general, and ACORN in criminal particulars, have terrible and unenviable records of enabling and promoting voter fraud, registration fraud, political-contribution fraud, and election fraud (see Al Franken's attempt -- which still might succeed -- to steal the U.S. Senate seat in Minnesota). Since the Clinton era, the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now has been the "muscle" of choice in the Democratic culture of elections corruption, the "Luca Brasi" of voter fraud.
The president himself is hardly a disinterested party here; the Boston Globe reports that during the 1990s, Obama served as one of three lawyers on a team formed by his law firm, Miner, Barnhill & Galland, to represent ACORN in a lawsuit against the state of Illinois; thirteen years later, the Obama presidential campaign paid $800,000 to ACORN for "get out the vote" (GOTV) operations in four states during the primary campaign.
An official with the Census Bureau inadvertently revealed the danger of teaming up with ACORN on the census; from the Fox News article linked above:
[Census Bureau spokesman Stephen Buckner] stressed the need for organizations like ACORN to assist in the effort, saying that "any group that has a grassroots organization that can help get the word out that we have jobs" is helpful.
I'm sure ACORN will be assiduous in getting that word out; but getting it out to whom? If past performance indicates future actions, it will be getting the word out to a boatload of felons, inmates, and identity-theft specialists, who will staff the effort to determine how many Americans there are in the 435 congressional districts and hundreds of state legislative districts across the United States -- thus putting themselves in position to gerrymander the entire country at one fell blow.
Buckner adds that we're not to worry, because "we have a lot of quality controls in place to keep any kind of systemic error or fraudulent behavior to affect [sic] the counts." Color me skeptical. And a bit queasy.
March 12, 2009
Roiling Waters - Another Eruption of the Democratic Culture of Corruption
There are two huge shockers in this New York Times article on Democratic political corruption at the highest levels of the House of Representatives; it's titled, "Congresswoman, Tied to Bank, Helped Seek Funds":
- That the Times ran the article at all, considering that it's critical of (a) a Democratic representative, (b) a female Democratic representative, and (c) a black female Democratic representative;
- That they mentioned the party affilliation of Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA, 100%) prominently in the second paragraph.
Perhaps the elite media is finally starting to feel the ethical (and now monetary) pinch from being perceived as being nothing but the media arm of the Democratic National Committee. (Though I do enjoy the mental image of Maxine Waters being tied to a bank.)
First the facts:
Top banking regulators were taken aback late last year when a California congresswoman helped set up a meeting in which the chief executive of a bank with financial ties to her family asked them for up to $50 million in special bailout funds, Treasury officials said.
Representative Maxine Waters, Democrat of California, requested the September meeting on behalf of executives at OneUnited, one of the nation’s largest black-owned banks. Ms. Water’s husband, Sidney Williams, had served on the bank’s board of directors until early last year and has owned at least $250,000 in stock in the institution [and possibly as much as $500,000, as the Times notes later]. Treasury officials said the session with nearly a dozen senior banking regulators had been intended to allow minority-owned banks and their trade association to discuss the losses they had incurred from the federal takeover of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. But Kevin Cohee, OneUnited’s chief executive, instead seized the opportunity to plead for special assistance for his bank, federal officials said.
Waters did not bother disclosing to Treasury officials her personal family connection to the OneUnited bank -- that she stood personally to gain if the bank's stock rose (remember that California, where she resides, is a community-property state; her husband's gain is her gain as well). But it's worse than simple corruption; as with everything that Maxine Waters says or does, from corruptly trying to extort money from the federal government to egging on the looters and shooters during the Los Angeles riots of 1992, she hides like a minotaur in a labyrinth of the "absolute moral authority" conferred by race and its implied victimhood status.
Waters conceals her corruption behind race-baiting language that equates any dissent with anti-black prejudice. Every issue becomes a race issue; every argument is an argument between the Congressional Black Caucus and hood-wearing racists; every setback occurs because she's black in an oppressive, white culture; and her attempt to elevate one race above all others is a moral crusade, for which the entire country should be grateful:
[Waters' and Cohee's] interests first intersected in 2002, when Mr. Cohee was involved in a bidding war for Family Savings, a small, black-owned bank in Ms. Waters’ South Los Angeles District.
As a white-owned Illinois bank initially emerged as the winner, Ms. Waters made clear through the local news media that she opposed any deal in which Family would fall out of African-American hands. She was credited when the bank abruptly changed course and gave Mr. Cohee another chance to submit a winning bid.
It was irrelevant to Maxine Waters whether OneUnited was actually the most economically appropriate bank to take over Family Savings, whether investments in her own district would be safe, or even whether Cohee was essentially looting his bank through his grotesque compensation package. Only one thing mattered... that Family Savings stay in "African-American hands."
Evidently, it was unacceptable that Family Savings be bought by someone who wasn't black -- even if the buyer was himself a minority (Hispanic or Korean, say), even if the buyer was a lifelong resident of Waters' own district. (The purchaser Waters supported, OneUnited, is actually based in Boston.)
Like radical Moslems, who believe that any patch of land that was ever Moslem must always remain Moslem -- once in the ummah, forever in the ummah -- Waters and her ilk believe that any seat once occupied by an "African American" must forever be occupied by an African American, whether it's a seat on a board of directors, in the House or Senate, or on the bench; it becomes a "black seat," as in the black Supreme Court seat (Thurgood Marshall had to be succeeded by another black justice), the black Senate seat (Barack H. Obama had to be succeeded by another black senator). Goodness only knows what racial demands Maxine and the CBC will make on future occupants of the White House, now that we have a black president.
So in addition to looting the Treasury, the corruption of Maxine Waters concomitantly poisons the American discourse, segregates us by race, and turns Americans against each other with the potential to ignite a civil war -- as it surely did in Los Angeles in 1992. This isn't simply theft, it's Apartheid.
Waters' "ilk" includes Reps. Diane Watson, D-CA, 100%; Charles Rangel, D-NY, 100%; John Conyers, D-MI, 100%; Barbara Lee, D-CA, 100%; Sheila Jackson Lee, D-TX, 100%; Bobby Rush, D-IL, 33% -- Rush was a charter member of the Illinois chapter of the Black Panthers -- Keith Ellison, D-MN, 100% -- Hamas' man in Washington -- and the other 35 members of the Congressional Black Caucus, every single member of which is both black and also a Democrat. Regarding the former qualification, if it seems self evident that only blacks should be admitted into the Congressional Black Caucus, is it also self-evident that only Jews should be allowed to join the United Jewish Appeal, only American citizens can join the American Conservative Union, or that only people of Russian descent can join the Russian Orthodox Church?
But when ultra-liberal white Democrats, even those who represent majority-minority districts, tried to join the CBC, they were summarily rejected -- in language that would be jaw-dropping if said about whiteness rather than blackness. Rep. Stephen Cohen (D-TN, 100%), who is white but whose constituency is 60% black, tried to join the CBC in 2007; he was privately informed by members that he was not welcome. In particular, Rep. William Lacy Clay, jr., son of one of the founders of the caucus, had this to say:
"Mr. Cohen asked for admission, and he got his answer. ... It's time to move on," the younger Clay said. "It's an unwritten rule. It's understood. It's clear."
An unwritten rule; where have we heard that circumlocution before? Perhaps something related to country clubs and business associations?
Les Kinsolving, writing for a website that some call "World Nut Daily," fills in the elipsis in that quotation; he claims that the complete quotation is, "Mr. Cohen asked for admission, and he got his answer. He's white and the Caucus is black. It's time to move on. We have racial policies to pursue and we are pursuing them, as Mr. Cohen has learned. It's an unwritten rule. It's understood." Make of that what you will.
Kinsolving also quotes what he says is an "official statement" from Clay's office:
Quite simply, Rep. Cohen will have to accept what the rest of the country will have to accept – there has been an unofficial Congressional White Caucus for over 200 years, and now it's our turn to say who can join the 'the club.' He does not, and cannot, meet the membership criteria, unless he can change his skin color. Primarily, we are concerned with the needs and concerns of the black population, and we will not allow white America to infringe on those objectives.
I have hunted all over the web, but I cannot find a better source than wnd.com; make of it what you will, but I'm not prepared to endorse these quotations as accurate and honest until and unless I find a better source. But even the action of restricting the CBC to blacks only makes clear that to those of the Maxine Waters mindset, only blacks can "represent" blacks. (I wonder if they would agree that only whites can represent whites? I certainly would not accept that suggestion for a minute.)
In any event, this longish diversion is simply to note that Maxine Waters, a decades-long member and former chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus, is a racial discriminator for whom it's always "Afroamerikaner über alles." Like Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton, Waters and all of her friends, clients, toadies, and assorted cohorts and co-conspirators use the accusation of racism to shield themselves from scrutiny or condemnation for their corrupt looting of taxpayer money.
Neither Waters' unsuccessful attempt to inveigle $50 million out of the Treasury Department in late 2008 to benefit her own, personal economy -- nor her successful effort a month later to squeeze a paltry $12 million for OneUnited in TARP money -- has anything whatsoever to do with race; both are corrupt, but they are the same sorts of things white crooks attempt as well. But when questions arose, OneUnited CEO Kevin Cohee had this to say in the Times article:
Mr. Cohee and Treasury officials said the TARP money had nothing to do with the intervention by Ms. Waters. Mr. Cohee also suggested that criticism of his operations by federal banking regulators was racially motivated.
“This is where the race issue comes in,” he said.
Evidently, we are to believe that had the owners of OneUnited (and Maxine Waters) been white, nobody would have minded that a member of Congress was using his elective office to enrich himself. I'm sure convicted felon, former senator, and continuing Causasian Ted Stevens would agree.
Note that the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) listed Waters as one of the thirteen most corrupt members of Congress in 2005 and one of the 20 most corrupt in 2006. Perhaps that's due to race as well, despite the fact that the majority of rogues on each list is white.
How many more such "anomalous" acts of corruption by Democrats must there be before the Republicans will finally go after them hammer and tooth... perhaps even floating the phrase, the Democratic culture of corruption? Or are we still quagmired in the genteel phase of our philosophical war with the Left?
Until the GOP can muster the huevos to counter the charge of "it's because I'm black, isn't it?", they will never be able to stand up to the Maxine Waters and William Jeffersons of the DNC... and for the duration, we'll have to labor under the handicap that what is corruption in a Republican is simply "community advocacy" in a Democrat.
February 19, 2009
When the Levee Barack
The economic stimulus signed by President Barack Obama will spread billions of dollars across the country to spruce up aging roads and bridges. But there's not a dime specifically dedicated to fixing leftover damage from Hurricane Katrina.
And there's no outrage about it.
Democrats who routinely criticized President George W. Bush for not sending more money to the Gulf Coast appear to be giving Obama the benefit of the doubt in his first major spending initiative. Even the Gulf's fiercest advocates say they're happy with the stimulus package, and their states have enough money for now to address their needs.
If anybody is larding out "benefit of doubt," it's the Associated Press accepting at face value the claims by various "silent Dems" that they're no longer shrieking about Hurricane Katrina because they're simply "granting Obama leniency due to the magnitude of the country's current economic challenges."
I suspect the reason is at once more corrupt and more prosaic; two important circumstances have changed since the shameful scandalmongering of Katrina past:
- The President of the United States is now a Democrat, Barack H. Obama;
- The Governor of Louisiana is now a Republican, Bobby Jindal.
Between them, this change gives us hope that we won't have to listen to future whining about $175 billion for rebuilding -- mostly earmarked for New Orleans -- being just not enough.
Even panhandler-in-chief Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA, 80%) didn't bother asking for more money:
"I'm not saying there won't be a need in the future, but right now the focus is not on more money, it's on using what we have," said Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., who has criticized Democrats and Republicans alike over Katrina funding.
Evidently, federal money for rebuilding New Orleans has suddenly become less important to her than full funding of ACORN's voter-fraud programs.
What amuses me, besides the childish faith Democrats in Congress have in the One, is the contempt with which they hold the rest of us; they really do think we're extraordinarily stupid:
"Any new president is going to have a little honeymoon," said [former Republican Rep. Jim McCrery of Louisiana], who is now a lobbyist [thus snuggling up to the Obama administration and congressional Democrats]. "I'd like to think that the tone would have been the same with any new president...."!
"Hopefully they've gotten some promises behind the scenes about longer-term commitments," [Thomas] Langston said [Langston is a political scientist, whatever that means, at Tulane University in New Orleans]...
"I think people looked at how generous Congress has been in the past," said Rep. Bennie Thompson, a Mississippi Democrat who chairs the House Homeland Security Committee. "(The states) have to demonstrate that they can be good custodians of the money."
Did any Democrat ever fret whether former Louisiana Democratic Gov. Kathleen Babineaux Blanco was a "good custodian of the money" she demanded and by and large received? I may be confabulating, but I'm certain I recall Democrats excoriating President George W. Bush and the congressional Republicans for even questioning the smallest jot and tittle of Katrina money for Louisiana... and even accusing the GOP of "racism," because (as we all know) New Orleans is a "chocolate city." Even when the Katrina funding was shoehorned into an urgently needed emergency defense appropriations bill for funding troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, Democrats insisted every nickle was sacrosanct:
Just last summer, Democrats accused Bush of putting Iraq before New Orleans when he sought to block Gulf Coast reconstruction money from a $162 billion war spending bill. Bush was pilloried for not mentioning the disaster in back-to-back State of the Union addresses.
Clearly Bush opposed Katrina terabucks in a vital war-funding bill because he just doesn't like black people and wants to see them suffer and die. I can't think of any other possible explanation... can you?
AP repeats, without question or comment, the self-serving justifications by Democrats for their silence today, with a new president and governor... after wailing like banshees with snow up their kilts during the old regimes; but at least AP reports the incongruity at all -- a vast improvement over their risible performance during the campaign, when it really mattered.
Perhaps after a few more years of waste, fraud, abuse, neglect, incompetence, ideological fanaticism, and vague doubletalk, the elite media will finally get round to showing a bit of skepticism about the One They Had Been Waiting For.
Oh, wait; we'll be smack in the middle of another presidential election then.
February 12, 2009
Censusation: a Democratic Sampler
We have delved the eldrich horror of the Democratic culture of corruption and discovered the deep and dark secret behind the attempted emasculation of Sen. Judd Gregg (RINO-NH, 72%), once incoming, now outgoing Secretary-designate of Commerce. Sen. Gregg has finally seen the light, realized what's coming down the tunnel, and has withdrawn his nomination; read on to find out why!
The most startling element of this ill-fated nomination happened just a few days ago. After naming Gregg as his pick for Commerce, President Barack H. Obama almost immediately capitulated to the infantile yowlings of the Congressional Black Caucus and the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEAO); he announced that he was removing from the Commerce Department one of their major responsibilities: conducting the decennial census.
Was this mere cravenness? No, it was worse, much worse. Gregg was to have been stripped of his responsibility for the census because of what liberals considered high crimes and misdemeanors against the Vision. To understand what's really going on sub-rosa, we must take a quick trip in Mr. Peabody's Wayback machine.
Back in 1998, President Clinton tried again and again to force the census takers to "correct" their population count by using polling or "sampling" to estimate the number of (primarily black, Hispanic, immigrant, and homeless) people who had been missed in the count (that is, a bunch of Democrats). The Clinton administration and congressional Dems argued that this would make the count "more accurate" by including historically undercounted groups.
The reality, of course, is that an actual count is always more accurate than a poll-driven estimate; you judge the validity of the poll by comparing it to the count, not the other way 'round. But it's far easier to manipulate a poll, as we see every even-numbered year, than to manipulate a nosecount. The census is used to determine the number of representatives each state gets, to draw congressional districts, and to allocate appropriations; so the temptation for corrupt-by-nature Democrats to abuse such "sampling" to rig the census in their favor is almost irresistable.
In 1999, the Supreme Court ruled (Department of Commerce v. U.S. House of Representatives, 525 U.S. 316, 1999) that sampling could not be used to reapportion the total number of representatives for each state, but the justices left the door open for its use in other functions of the census. Thus Democrats might be allowed to use sampling (polling) to fabricate population for use in gerrymandering congressional districts, thus corruptly locking themselves in power for a generation or more, and for determining how to allocate funds from congressional appropriations.
Responding to this threat to honest democracy, Rep. Harold Rogers (R-KY, 92% in 1998), the Republican chairman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, State, and the Judiciary -- which funds the census -- attached a proviso that none of the money could be used to fund poll-sampling techniques.
He also added an extra $27 million over and above the department's request; liberals loved that part, but they hated the restriction against using sampling. In particular, the Congressional Black Caucus and several Hispanic pressure groups went postal; they demanded that the Senate strip this proviso out of the final bill (but keep the extra funding)... and the first person in their crosshairs was then-chairman of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies, Sen. Judd Gregg.
Gregg disappointed them, and they have never forgiven him. What was Gregg's great crime, for which the CBC and NALEAO continue the hatefest even today? It wasn't that he joined his more conservative counterpart across the rotunda, for he did not. Gregg's crime was that he refused to kill the House proviso; he simply ignored the issue entirely, focusing on budget-control instead. From the piece by CivilRights.org, which of course strongly supports sampling:
The Senate appropriations subcommittee, chaired by Senator Judd Gregg (R-NH), allocated $354.8 million, the precise amount requested by the Bureau. The Senate subcommittee included no funding restrictions comparable to those of the House bill choosing instead to include a prohibition against making "irreversible" plans for sampling.
Gregg made it plain that he would not go to the mat to fight against the Rogers provision; but he did signal he would fight vigorously against the extra money that Rogers added.
What do liberals say today about why they so despise Gregg? Let's -- may I use the word? -- sample a few opinions. From the Los Angeles Times piece charmingly subtltled "Latinos versus Republicans":
For the last few cycles, Latinos, blacks and other minorities have protested that language barriers and fear of government officials have resulted in an under-counting of their numbers. Since Latino voters voted overwhelmingly for Barack Obama in November, Latino groups expressed delight when President Obama selected New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, a Hispanic American, as secretary of the Commerce Department, which handles the Census.
Not so fast.
After Richardson withdrew his name over a pay-for-play scandal investigation, Obama selected New Hampshire Republican Judd Gregg, a fiscal conservative, to lead the department. Latino groups protested, noting Gregg battled efforts to increase the Census budget the last time a Democrat lived in the White House.
California Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Oakland), who chairs the Congressional Black Caucus, said Gregg's record of voting to abolish the Commerce Department and to block President Clinton's campaign for Census funding in 2000 "raise troubling concerns regarding his commitment to the department’s core missions."
Notice the word that was not used: Sampling. In fact, the word does not appear anywhere in the piece; the closest they come is "politicize" and "manipulate" -- both directly quoting Republicans. Instead, Barbara Lee talks only about funding.
From the Associated Press:
The Congressional Black Caucus and a group representing Latino elected officials have raised questions about Gregg, noting that as chairman of the Senate panel overseeing the Census Bureau budget he frequently sought to cut funding that they believe led to an undercount of minorities.
To allay concerns over Gregg, the White House initially indicated that it might take greater control over the Census Bureau. But amid GOP criticism it has since clarified that the White House will "work closely with the census director," and that the Census Bureau would not be removed from the Commerce Department....
"Achieving a census that counts all Americans will not be possible without the necessary funding, the right personnel and a secretary of commerce who shares that vision," [NALEAO] said.
In this case, "that vision" almost certainly includes sampling; but once again, the word itself never sullies the page. It's all about the funding, you see.
But funding for what? Had Gregg assumed the position of Commerce Secretary, I doubt he would have submitted a zeroed-out budget to try to eliminate his own job. Nor would he be likely to lowball the census; and even if he did, the same Congress that is set to enact a trillion-dollar deficit (or perhaps more) wouldn't balk at adding some money over and above Gregg's request.
The only explanation that makes sense to me is that these liberal Democrats are speaking in code... and "necessary funding" is actually a nod-and-wink cipher for "funding sampling techniques to jimmy the 2010 census in our favor." Per the Supreme Court, they can't add seats to blue states; but they can push red states purple and purple states blue by clever gerrymandering.
I believe it inevitable that the Democrats will revive the sampling controversy in order to "correct" (dramatically increase) the count of blacks, Hispanics, resident aliens, and homeless guys across the nation for determining congressional and legislative districts and siphoning more money into Democrat areas than GOP areas. John Fund agrees:
Mr. Chapman worries about a revival of the effort led by minority groups after the 2000 Census to adjust the totals for states and cities using statistical sampling and computer models. In 1999, the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 in Department of Commerce v. U.S. House that sampling could not be used to reapportion congressional seats. But it left open the possibility that sampling could be used to redraw political boundaries within the states.
Such a move would prove controversial. "Sampling potentially has the kind of margin of error an opinion poll has and the same subjectivity a voter-intent standard in a recount has," says Mr. Chapman. [Bruce Chapman, census director in the 1980s]
Judd Gregg was useful to Obama's pretense that he was the first "post-partisan" president; but he was a threat to the Democrats' plan to slip sampling into the census. Therefore, Obama announced that he was stripping the census from Commerce.
That provoked such a firestorm that Obama lurched backwards, claiming he never said any such thing. But now Gregg is departing; I wonder whether the administration told him he would have to play ball with hyperpartisan Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel anyway, even if they left the census where it was? I suspect the next nominee for the post will be a reliable, partisan, Democratic yes-man or yes-woman who won't cavil over any order Chief Emanuel gives him anent the census and sampling.
Brace yourselves; sampling manipulation is coming soon to a census near you.
January 26, 2009
Do You Want Yer Old Lobby Washed Down?
President Barack H. Obama has decreed that there will be no earmarks in the bulging Democratic "stimulus" package (which contains virtually nothing that might actually stimulate the economy); and indeed, he will probably be true to his word... the pork will not be doled out in relatively transparent earmarks, but by the utterly opaque decisions of local Democratic elected officials behind closed doors in formerly smoke-filled rooms:
President Barack Obama's ban on earmarks in the $825 billion economic stimulus bill doesn't mean interest groups, lobbyists and lawmakers won't be able to funnel money to pet projects.
They're just working around it -- and perhaps inadvertently making the process more secretive.
The projects run the gamut: a Metrolink station that needs building in Placentia, Calif.; a stretch of beach in Sandy Hook, N.J., that could really use some more sand; a water park in Miami.
There are thousands of projects like those that once would have been gotten money upfront but now are left to scramble for dollars at the back end of the process as "ready to go" jobs eligible for the stimulus plan.
The result, as The Associated Press learned in interviews with more than a dozen lawmakers, lobbyists and state and local officials, is a shadowy lobbying effort that may make it difficult to discern how hundreds of billions in federal money will be parceled out.
Change we can believe in!
It's a sad turn when we find ourselves pining for the good old days of earmarks, which at least were spelled out somewhere (even if inserted during the joint reconciliation conference between the Senate and House versions of a bill and never specifically voted on by the general membership of Congress). But even that is preferable to the nightmare that Obama's facile and naive prohibition of "earmarks" has wrought: Now, the anticipated $800 billion of new spending will simply be listed as a series of block grants to states or even individual cities, to be spent as the locals see fit... which means the same lobbyists that once courted Congress are now busily buddying up to local elected officials instead.
The latter will spend their share of the giveaway without any public accounting of where it went; and the only "oversight" will be by Democrat-dominated committees in Congress and la Casablanca. But I'm sure they'll apply just as strict a scrutiny to money spent by the Democratic governor of New York (David Paterson) or the Democratic mayor of San Francisco (Gavin Newsom) as they will to the Republican governor of Mississippi (Haley Barbour) or the Republican mayor of Oklahoma City (Mick Cornett)... don'tcha think?
Note the new category tag for this post; I expect to be using it incessantly for the next four years...
© 2005-2009 by Dafydd ab Hugh - All Rights Reserved