Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Americans (Mostly CONSERVATIVE Americans) Are World-beaters When it Comes to Charity


First, John Stossel does a 20/20 piece on how Conservative areas are more charitable than more Liberal areas. In his report very Red Bismark, North Dakota proved to be far more charitable than extremely blue San Francisco, now Elizabeth Eaves of Forbes, looks over the global numbers coming out of the John Hopkins Center for Civil Society Studies and finds that the U.S. leads the world in charitable giving (1.85% of GDP) compared to 1.34% of GDP for second place Israel and 1.17% of GDP for third place Canada!

By comparison such big government havens as Sweden ranks 18th, France 21st and Germany 32nd! Leading Ms. Eaves to assess that “Among developed nations, those with higher taxes and bigger social safety nets, tend to have lower rates of giving.”

But that’s not really true.

Few places anywhere have more extensive welfare, unemployment and SSI (Supplemental Security Income for the disabled) than the U.S. does.

Moreover, Red Staters DO indeed tend to be more charitable and those low-income employed Americans tend to give the most, in terms of a percentage of their incomes (4.5%), but even among the relatively wealthy, Conservatives tend to give far more.

Ms. Eaves found out that the Cheney’s gave away a whopping 78% of their income last year, while the likes of so-called “do-gooders” like the Bidens’ and Obamas’ gave far less.

Go figure.

Lessons From the NY Jets’ Collapse...

Just prior to the coin flip for Sunday’s NY Jets/Miami Dolphins showdown, the Jets players got together in their pre-game, on-field hand clasp and QB Brett Favre said, “Let’s go out and play our game, whatever that game is, let’s go play it.”

“WHAT?!” Was my first thought, for the on-field leader of a professional football team to say that seemed a troubling omen to say the least.

And it was.

The NY Jets lost to the Miami Dolphins 24 – 17 and completed a miserable 1 win in their last 5 games, end of season swoon. That nose dive took them from 8 and 3, after beating undefeated Tennessee in week eleven, to an out-of-the-playoffs 9 – 7 final record.

Coach Eric Mangini went from the cusp of a lucrative contract extension in week eleven to being fired less than 24 hours after that final loss.

What does any of that prove?

That the NY Jets are snakebit?

Maybe, which is just one of the reasons I’m glad I’ve never been a big Jets fan, BUT what it really proves is that you can’t take ANYTHING for granted.

Right after week eleven, the Jets had just beaten the previously undefeated Tennessee Titans and the surging New England Patriots, appearing briefly as “one of the best teams in the AFC.”

A little over a month after seeming like “the team to beat in the AFC” the Jets have been reduced to playoff also-rans after one of the biggest season-ending collapses in history.

Just like the weather, things can turn on the dime and you can’t take anything for granted.

Rasmussen Finds U.S. Voters LOVE the Market-based Economy or “Free Market”

A recent Rasmussen Poll shows an overwhelming 70% of Americans believe “a free market economy is better than one managed by the government.”Just 15% believe a government-managed economy is best. Another 15% are either undecided, don’t know or have no opinion.

Moreover, just 26% of American adults were at least “somewhat confident” that U.S. policymakers knew what they were doing with regards to the economy.

A whopping 59% of Americans agree with Ronald Reagan’s 1981 quote that “government is not the solution to our problems; government is the problem.”

Not surprisingly, support for the market-based economy differs greatly with Party affiliation. Whereas 91% of Republicans favor a free market, along with 76% of Independents and unaffiliated voters, ONLY 49% of Democrats agree!

While 87% of Conservatives and 68% of Moderates believe a free market is better, among Liberals, the choice is far murkier. While 47% of Liberals prefer a free market, a disturbing 31% say that a government managed economy would be better.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Wrong Emphasis on the War on Terror...

The overriding problem with Islamic culture is its rigid cultural/religious intolerance, which is something more indicative of a cult than a religion.
That's one of the problems with the West's "War on Terror" - it vaguely defines the enemy as "radical Islam," with an emphasis on "radical," when it SHOULD be on "Islam."
Terrorism is a legitimate military tactic.

It is merely "unconventional warfare waged, primarily, against civilian targets." That is a natural and often necessary part of war.
America's Minutemen DID indeed wage a “terrorist (unconventional warfare) campaign” against the British in the Americas, as DID the Jews in the Palestine region (some of that now Israel) do that to the British in the 1940s Mideast.
"Terrorism" is NOT the issue, or the is merely a manifestation of a far greater, REAL problem. In the latter cases, the will of Mideast Jews and American Colonists for their own self determination and homelands, while on so-called "radical Islam's" part, it's more akin to the terror waged by other racist or racialist groups like the KKK or the Nation Of Islam (Black Muslims), or the Aryan Nation, or the Black Panthers.

There is absolutely NO/ZERO moral equivalence between terror waged by those fighting for their independence and self determination and that waged in support of racial or cultural hatred....and yet THAT is what the American far-Left has continually insisted on trying to do - make a moral equivalence where none exists.

THAT has been one of the greatest failures of the Bush administration – failing to adequately and accurately identify and define the enemy in this War on Terrorism.

If the current administration maintains that failed policy, it could wind up having some very dire consequences not too far down the road.

Deep Throat 95!

W. Mark Felt (a younger and older version posted above) was neither a true hero nor a real villain either.

The former FBI second-in-command who revealed himself as "Deep Throat" three decades after he tipped off reporters to the Watergate scandal that toppled a president, died late last week.

He was 95.

Felt died Thursday, 12-18-2008, in Santa Rosa after suffering from congestive heart failure for several months.

While some, including Nixon and many of his aides, speculated that Felt was the source who connected the White House to the June 1972 break-in at the headquarters of the Democratic National Committee, he steadfastly denied the accusations until finally coming forward in May 2005.

Ironically enough, Felt was NOT against unwarranted wiretaps and break-ins, having ordered such against numerous domestic terrorists while working in the FBI’s Domestic Spying Program for over a decade.

He felt strongly that the Nixon administration engaged in criminal misconduct and that the FBI’s initial probe was moving along too slowly.

Personally, I still believe the Watergate break-ins were much to do about nothing.

For all his self-aggrandizing flaws, Felt was a stand-up guy. In 1976, W. Mark Felt publicly stated he’d ordered the break-ins and warrantless wiretaps of various domestic terrorist organizations, including members of the Weather Underground, and that individual agents were merely obeying orders and shouldn’t be punished for it.

Felt also stated that acting FBI Director L. Patrick Gray had also authorized the break-ins, but Gray denied this.
Felt said on the CBS television program Face the Nation that he would probably be a "scapegoat" for the Bureau's work. "I think this is justified and I'd do it again tomorrow", he said on the program. While admitting the break-ins were "extralegal", he justified it as protecting the "greater good."

At the time, Felt said, “To not take action against these people and know of a bombing in advance would simply be to stick your fingers in your ears and protect your eardrums when the explosion went off and then start the investigation.”

Felt was subsequently indicted on charges of authorizing FBI break-ins at homes associated with suspected bombers from the 1960s radical group the Weather Underground. President Ronald Reagan pardoned Felt in 1981 while the case was on appeal - a move applauded by then former President Nixon.

For his actions against domestic terrorists, INCLUDING his extra-legal actions (warrantless break-ins and wiretaps) he remains an American hero.

For his major part in highlighting a minor crime (Watergate) and divulging his identity in May of 2005, at age 92, and not taking that secret to his grave, he’s probably at least part villain.

Governor Patterson’s “Doomsday Budget” – Draconian for US, But for Government, NOT So Much!

Late last week (Wednesday, 12-17-08) New York’s Governor David Patterson socked New Yorkers with an astounding 137 new taxes and fees to shore up the State’s sagging economy!

Everything from beer to iTunes downloads were grist for the taxman.

It also called for cuts of $9.5 billion, including radical reductions to hospital and school subsidies and the elimination of more than $1 billion in aid to New York City.

Among the highlights of the plan are;

* A 4 percent tax on taxi, limo and bus rides iTunes audio and video downloads and the same 4% tax on movie, concert and sporting event tickets.

* Boosting the average vehicle registration fee for drivers by $11, from $44 to $55.

* Fees for new or renewed licenses also would increase 25 percent, or increase from $50 to about $62 to renew a license over eight years.

* In addition, all drivers would have to get new, "reflectorized" license plates at a fee of $25 each.
One of the weirder “sin taxes” is an 18 percent tax on non-diet soft drinks, which aims to “reduce child obesity.” Consumers in NY can expect a $1.50 can of Pepsi to cost at least 25 cents more with this tax.

There’s also the elimination of the law that caps the state sales tax on gasoline at 8 cents per gallon, an ominous sign that New York plans to join the Luddites in looking to make it more expensive for people to drive, for workers to get to work, kids to get to school and people to produce!

On the flip side, the government’s DOING FINE.

New York State’s planning to spend nearly $120 MILLION ($119.7) MORE (or an additional 1.1%) than last year! WhooooHooo!!! At least someone’s still spending like a drunken sailor.

Well, some things never change - like the political class always getting theirs off the top.

The UAW’s Bailout Deal – Sacrifice or Surrender?

Is it sacrifice or surrender?

And is it a sign of things to come, for other workers across the country?

The recent Auto bailout has come with some hard-to-swallow terms. According to reports,
“The $17.4 billion federal loan agreement does keep the domestic auto industry alive. But the terms of that loan also insist that the wages and benefits for union workers be lowered to "equal" the average of nonunion workers, specifically, those at the U.S. plants of Nissan, Toyota and Honda."

The fact is, that there are ONLY TWO possible solutions to America’s domestic auto crisis; (1) either the UAW shops have to be coerced into working for the same $50/hour wage, health and pension package as the non-Union Toyota, Nissan, and BMW shops, OR, (2) all those non-Union shops have to be either coerced OR tariffed/taxed into paying the same amount for THEIR labor. OTHERWISE the UAW shops will NEVER be able to compete.

The language of the current loan agreement is clear in that it sets a number of specific "restructuring targets" that General Motors and Chrysler must use their "best efforts" (whatever THAT means) to meet. Compensation must be made "equal" to the nonunion workers, and work rules must be "competitive" with those at nonunion plants. The companies also must reduce compensation to workers who have been laid off — the jobs bank and at least half of the company's payments into retiree health care must be made in stock, not cash.

Can this agreement be made to work?

We’ll see by March, when the “loans” come due and the Big Three will certainly come begging for more.

Municipal Pension Reform is Coming...

There seems there’s just no getting around it - pension reform is coming to the public sector. In the midst of the current economic crisis, that’s a virtual given.

In a recent Op-Ed New York City’s Mayor, Mike Bloomberg wrote, “...right now, New York City is spending so much money on pensions - $6.3 billion, a 10-fold increase from the $695 million we spent in 2000 - that we have far less to spend on core services, such as public safety, education, parks and senior centers. That defies common sense, and it's hurting our city.”

He notes that, “For instance, the city now has to spend more money on pensions and fringe benefits for firefighters than we pay in salaries for firefighters.”

Mayor Bloomberg is hawking NY Governor David Patterson’s current proposal, which the Bloomberg administration helped craft and now strongly supports, which Mayor Bloomberg claims would create immediate savings that would reach $540 million annually after 20 years. The Patterson proposal comes in two parts;

“The first part would eliminate for future employees two pension sweeteners that the state enacted during the boom years of the last decade. One sweetener allows employees to stop contributing to their pensions after 10 years of service; the other expands pension eligibility by reducing the required number of years of city service from 10 to five. Together, they have cost the city and state $1.8 billion since 2000.”

The second part of the governor's plan would modernize a pension system that hasn't been updated in 25 years and no longer makes sense, given longer life expectancies. Right now, uniformed city workers can retire after only 20 years of service. That means government is paying full pension benefits to many people whose retirements begin in their early 40s (although most continue working full-time in other jobs) and stretch for more than 40 years.

I believe that - again, only for future hires - we should raise the number of years required for a full pension for uniformed workers from 20 to 25, and provide retirement benefits to these future employees only after they reach 50.

Mayor Bloomberg brings up the specter of bankruptcy that plagued the City during the 1970s. “New York City can't continue to offer the next generation of workers gold-plated pension benefits that even the most successful companies can't afford today.

“The Big Three automakers offer some of the best pension plans in the private sector, yet even they cannot match the generosity of New York state government. And Detroit's expensive pension plans are part of the reason why the automakers are teetering on bankruptcy and pleading for a bailout in Washington.

“New York went down that road in the 1970s, and we can't afford to go back.

“Back then, thankfully, city and state leaders came together to deal with the structural causes of the fiscal crisis, adopting long-term measures to address them, including pension reforms.”

Is pension reform/modification coming to New York and other Municipalities across the country?

It certainly appears so.

One thing we can be sure of is that Municipal workers will be looking at whether or not the politicians (government workers) who enact these reforms, reform/scale-backs of their own pension programs, as well.

The Rick Warren Flap is a Lame Attempt to Re-Write Obama's Views on gay Marriage...

What’s the big deal?!

ALL religions rightly teach that the act of homosexuality is a “sin.” I’ve never heard ANY gays have a problem with that...In fact, I believe they actually like the taboo.

Not only THAT, but Barack Obama’s stated position on the issue – OPPOSING gay Marriage, while supporting civil unions is EXACTLY the same position that both Arnold Schwartzenegger and G W Bush have on the same issue!

Moreover, Reverend Rick Warren is one of the most influential religious leaders in the nation, and as such, he’s has championed issues such as a reduction of global poverty, human rights abuses and the AIDS epidemic. In fact, ironically enough, he’s done more to combat AIDS then most gay organizations have!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

What’s Behind the Falling Price of Oil?...Oh Yeah, Falling DEMAND, of Course!

This is for all those nitwits who cried that “George Bush and his oil buddies were behind the rising price of oil,” over the past few years!

Dopey people believe dopey things.

You only have to look to the “9-11 Truthers” for proof of that.

Oil spiked to a record high (close to $150/barrel) earlier this year on China’s stockpiling oil ahead of the Bejing Olympic Games. That DEMAND, along with that generated by the rapid industrialization of developing nations, most notably, India and China, had driven the global price of oil, which is ALWAYS predicated on SUPPLY and DEMAND, inexorably upwards over the past decade.

Yesterday, according to Bloomber News, “Crude oil fell in New York on speculation that declining fuel demand because of the global economic recession will outweigh cutbacks in output by OPEC.

“Crude pared yesterday’s 10 percent gain, which came after Saudi Arabian Oil Minister Ali Al-Naimi said the kingdom had delivered the reductions promised to the producer group. Initial jobless claims in the U.S., the world’s biggest energy consumer, surged more than forecast last week to a 26-year high.

“If you look at the overall big picture, the demand collapse is still the overriding issue,” said Tony Nunan, an assistant general manager for risk management at Mitsubishi Corp. in Tokyo. “What producers can do is break the momentum of the fall but getting this thing back up is going to be tough.”

In fact, global oil demand is expected to decline slightly in 2008 and 2009, for the first drop in a generation, as the most severe economic crisis since the late 1970s pinches consumption across the developed world.

According to a Reuters poll of 11 industry analysts, banks and industry groups, worldwide demand will decline by 20,000 barrels per day (bpd) in both 2008 and 2009 to 86.03 and 86.01 million bpd respectively.

Even that slight fall is a huge shift from an August Reuters poll of experts, which forecast that demand would increase by nearly 1 million bpd next year.

The global demand for crude oil has not declined since the early 1980s, following the 1979 oil crisis and a severe recession in the United States.

SUPPLY and DEMAND...that’s what increases the price of oil and it’s what decreases it as well.

Governments and politicians have virtually NO/ZERO impact on commodities prices. Sure, governmental policies (like the U.S. refusing to drill for much of its estimated 1.6 TRILLION barrels of domestic crude oil) can impact supply and demand, but outside of impacting supply and demand, there is no way for politicians or speculators to increase or decrease the price of ANY given commodity.
Falling oil prices have drastically reduced inflation, especially here in the U.S. and that's GOOD for Americans. Of course, not everyone's happy about that. The same Luddites who've fought against America drilling for more of its own HUGE domestic supply, are now appalled at falling oil and gas prices and are busy lobbying for higher gasoline taxes...deliberately to harm the same Americans they so often claim to care about.
Again, dopey people tend to believe in and support dopey things.

Islamic Justice CAN be Wise...

On November 26th of this year, a three-judge panel in Iran ruled unanimously that Majid (a man who’d stalked and been jilted by an Iranian woman, Ameneh Bahrami) should be blinded with acid himself, as well as being forced to pay compensation for the injuries to Bahrami's face, hands and body caused by the acid.
(Above is a picture of a woman disfigured by acid)
.The woman, Ameneh Bahrami, had refused to accept "blood money." Insisting instead that her attacker suffer a fate similar to her own "so people like him would realize they do not have the right to throw acid in girls' faces," she told the Tehran Provincial Court.

Her attacker, a 27-year-old man identified in court papers as Majid, admitted throwing acid in her face in November 2004, blinding and disfiguring her. He said he loved her and insisted she loved him as well.

I guess every culture has its strong points.

I’d earlier lauded Iran’s Islamic justice that had a pedophile scourged by the mother’s of his victims, before being hung with a slip know from a crane.

Violent crimes must be punished with similar violence. It is the ONLY way to balance the scales of true justice.

Saturday, December 13, 2008


Now that we have a more monolithically Liberal government than at any time since 1980, the Obama’s, Patterson’s, Patrick’s and others are finding that the money for their Keynesian programs has already been spent!

Moreover, the Keynesian overspending that’s gone on over the last six years, the last TWO in earnest, has already, quite literally “broken the bank” and fiscal discipline is now mandatory for our very survival!

This is almost certainly what the great Maggie Thatcher meant when she said, “Reality is Conservative.”

For indeed, the fiscal realities we all face, are indeed Conservative in that they require Conservative principles to navigate them.

In New York, Governor David Patterson, has come into office having to deal with a fiscal crisis that threatens to be bigger than that of the 1970s, that nearly bankrupted New York City.

For years Conservatives, BOTH Republican and Democrat have been calling for massive budget cuts on all levels of government. What we got was ever more government spending to go with the ever increasing revenues generated by the housing boom, the Wall Street boom and the massive revenue increases from the Bush tax cuts.

On the federal level, Barack Obama and company face pretty much the same dismal fiscal realities.

For the first time in my life (and I’ve been around over half a century now) I’m hearing Democrats calling for huge budget cuts, layoffs of Municipal workers and both healthcare and pension fund relief!

After six years of Bush’s Keynesian policies, that were initially masked by increasing tax revenues from his only Supply Side policies (the across the board income tax rate cuts AND the Capital gains rate reduction), and only imploded over the last two years when Bush was able to cooperate with a more Keynesian Pelosi-Reid Congress, we are facing a 1970s redux! G W Bush, like his father, are devout Keynesians, who see government as a tool with which to do the public good. Bush Sr., railed against Ronald Reagan's Conservatism and called Supply Side policies "Voodoo Economics," before returning to those failed Keynesian policies (via the Kennedy-Bush Sr tax hikes) and presiding over four straight years of double digit Misery Indexes himself.

The irony is that NOW, at the hour of their biggest victory, America’s Liberal elite is faced with bare cupboards and the necessity for austerity.

There’s nothing I can think of that is more ironic than that.

Wall Street’s BIGGEST Con Unravels!...

According to the Times Online, “Some of America’s wealthiest socialites were facing ruin last night after the arrest of a Wall Street big hitter accused of the largest investor swindle perpetrated by one man.

“Shock and panic spread through the country clubs of Palm Beach and Long Island after Bernard Madoff, a trading powerbroker for more than four decades, allegedly confessed to a fraud that will cost his wealthy investors at least $50 billion – perhaps the largest swindle in Wall Street history.

“Mr. Madoff, 70, a former Nasdaq stock chairman, was apparently turned in by his two sons and arrested on Thursday morning at his Manhattan apartment by the FBI. Andrew Calamari, a senior enforcement official at the US Securities and Exchange Commission, described the scheme as “a stunning fraud that appears to be of epic proportions”.

“The FBI’s criminal complaint states that when two federal agents arrived at Mr Madoff’s apartment, he told them: “There is no innocent explanation.” The agents say that he told them “he paid investors with money that wasn’t there”, that he was “broke” and that he expected to go to jail.”

Captain Capitalism put it well;

Wall Street = Morons

I've said it before, and I'll say it again, I don't care if they went to Harvard or Yale or the Ivy League.I don't care if they work at Goldman Sachs.In the end, these people are not "intelligent" or "smarter" or "better."They're absolutely inferior people compared to the rest of the US and only got by on connections.And the Wisconsin hick fly over kid selling lemonade at his stand making a profit is a better businessMAN than any one of these schmucks will ever be.

Yet ANOTHER way to see that development is as a form of natural selection.

Ever wonder how the spoiled wealthy scions of families who hadn’t really “earned” in generations kept accruing wealth despite having little involvement and even less knowledge about finance or even their own family finances?

People like Bernie Madoff are part of the reason.

Wealth is never erased, it is merely transferred and that’s what we are witnessing now, a major transfer of wealth from one segment of society to another.

Olde Wall Street never recovered from the bloodletting of 1929 and beyond. Old monied families were supplanted by the likes of the Sach’s and the Kennedy’s and J P Morgan and other old line robber barons got on board with the likes of Bernard Baruch in engineering a “new economy” and a “new social order.”

Now a new investor class is supplanting what has become the old one.

I’d like to say that the new one could hardly be any worse than the old one, but only time will tell.

Right now, a lot of families that made their fortunes in the early parts of the 20th Century are in for a dramatic fall and a new breed of smart young investors are supplanting them.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Blagojevich Case Brings to Light Widespread Culture of GOVERNMENT Corruption...

In defending (sort of) Chicago’s spate of political corruptions, culminating in the recent arrest and indictment of Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich for attempting to sell Obama’s vacant Senate seat, USA Today tried valiantly to come to the rescue (?) with a story about how Illinois isn’t even the most corrupt state in the Union!

(NOTE to the folks at USA Today: “I’m sure you mean well, but you’re NOT really helping!”)

According to the USA Today piece, the top corruption honors apparently go to North Dakota, of all places.

And here, I’d have thought it was New Jersey, or Louisiana, or perhaps even New York – all finely tuned in the art of political corruption and cronyism. The USA Today article goes on to recount a littany of recent past governmental abuses across America's fruited plains.

The USA Today article highlights one undeniable truth – political corruption is almost universal and is deeply imbedded in the democratic process, which is precisely why America’s Founders worked so hard to shackle and limit government, fully aware of its penchant for abuse.

Further, it amplifies and echoes Ronald Reagan’s central theme, “Government is not the solution, government IS the problem.”

There’s really no way to rationally deny that basic truth, when you look at the systemic political corruption endemic in America today.

Here’s an idea, let’s engage in some REAL “reform” and clean up and re-LIMIT government, like this nation’s Founders intended!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

In Defense of Plaxico...

In the wake of Plaxico Burress’ latest weapons malfunction, it seems that just about everyone has jumped on the anti-Plaxico bandwagon.

Even New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg has gotten in on the act to promote his idiotic gun-ban plan.

Mayor Mike’s far more a “menace to society” than Plaxico Burress ever will be.

Yeah, it was a dumb move for Plaxico Burress to put a hand-cannon into his waistband with the safety off...get a holster Plax!

And yeah, he probably shouldn’t have been frequenting a nightclub where he felt the need to pack heat while in the midst of rehabbing a sore hamstring.

But excoriating the guy because he had the good sense to carry a concealed weapon on the streets of new York?!

Get real folks!

New York, like most big cities is a pretty dangerous place. And it’s even more dangerous for young, well-paid professional athletes, like Burress.

A few weeks earlier, a teammate of Burress’, Steve Smith was recently robbed, at gunpoint, on his way home...BY HIS DRIVER! Last year, Redskins Safety Sean Taylor was shot and killed in his own home by intruders. Miami Defensive End Joey Porter was shot back in 2003 outside a Denver bar.

The “war on guns” is nothing short of a “war on self-defense” and SELF-DEFENSE is an innate, natural or “God-given right that cannot be rightfully, or lawfully abridged by ANY government.

I agree with Buress’ friend and former teammate Joey Porter, "Everybody has their mistakes, but that's exactly what they are ... Until you've been in that situation, when you've been robbed at gunpoint or you've had a gun waved in your face or had your house broken into before or been carjacked, you really don't know what it's like."

FREE Plaxico!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

What’ll They Do For an Encore?...

Now that it looks increasingly like Al Franken ISN’T going to be the next Senator from Minnesota, what will the Franken-followers, who’d earlier on vandalized Norm Coleman’s home with black paint, do for an encore? Back in October, one of the Stewart Smalley supporting vandals scrawled out "U R A CRIMINAL RESIGN OR ELSE!"

Well, what can you expect from a Franken supporter but a grunt?
But what next, once Franken is officially defeated?

Dumb American Leftists

America’s Left has had a sordid history of pseudo-intellectualism, gross incompetence and stultifying naivete. While many Americans are probably familiar with 30’s NY Times’ reporter, Walter Duranty, who called Stalin’s USSR “A worker’s paradise,” at the very same time Stalin was murdering over 30 million Russians, he’s only one among many legendarily dumb American Leftists.

Incredibly enough, Duranty actually won a Pulitzer Prize for his works of fictional news. Surely that proves that both Duranty and the NY Times weredumb, but perhaps the single most moronic statement ever by an American journalist may have been made by Lincoln Steffens’, in his time a famous American radical.

In 1919 Steffens was sent to the fledgling USSR to see how Russia was doing under the Communists, Steffens breathlessly reported back, "I have been over into the future, and it works."

Liberal Political Corruption Strikes Again...

...One day before his 52nd birthday, Democratic Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich was arrested by the FBI for allegedly embarking upon a "corruption crime spree" and attempting to benefit from his ability to appoint President-elect Barack Obama's replacement in the U.S. Senate.

At a news conference in Chicago on Tuesday, U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald called it a sad day for the citizens of Illinois and alleged that the governor tried to "auction off" the Senate seat "to the highest bidder."

A 76-page FBI affidavit said the 51-year-old Democrat was intercepted on court-authorized wiretaps over the last month conspiring to sell or trade the vacant Senate seat for personal benefits for himself and his wife, Patti.

Mr. Fitzgerald said federal investigators had bugged Blagojevich's campaign offices and tapped his home phone.

The affidavit contends Blagojevich discussed getting a substantial salary for himself at a non-profit foundation or an organization affiliated with labor unions. It also says Blagojevich talked about getting his wife placed on corporate boards where she might get $150,000 a year in director's fees.

The affidavit also quotes Blagojevich as saying in one conversation that "I want to make money."

Blagojevich and John Harris, the governor's chief of staff, were each charged with conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud and solicitation of bribery.

The FBI’s affidavit also charges that Blagojevich sought promises of campaign cash, as well as a cabinet post or ambassadorship in exchange for his Senate choice.

Blagojevich is accused of saying on Nov. 3 that if he was not going to get anything of value for the open seat, then he would appoint himself to the post.

According to the transcripts Blagojevich is reported to have said, "I'm going to keep this Senate option for me a real possibility, you know, and therefore I can drive a hard bargain."

On Nov. 5, Blagojevich allegedly told an adviser, "I've got this thing and it's [expletive] golden, and, uh, uh, I'm just not giving it up for [expletive] nothing. I'm not gonna do it."

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Defending Our Proactive Response to State Sponsored International Terrorism...

On November 20th, 2008, U.S. Attorney General, Michael Mukasey addressed the Federalist Society.

Toward the end of those remarks, he collapsed on stage. That made the news the following morning.

What SHOULD HAVE made the news were those remarks.

A clearer, more cogent defense of the policy of proactively interdicting terrorism BEFORE it occurs, has yet to be offered.

Here are Michael Mukasey’s remarks (emphasis in all cases, mine) of November 20, 2008;

Keynote Address by U.S. Attorney General Michael B. Mukasey - Prepared Remarks

November 20, 2008
Michael Mukasey

Thank you for that introduction and for the opportunity to address this group. I have long had a deep respect for the Federalist Society and for its principles, and so I feel privileged to be here tonight.

For over 25 years, the members of this Society have committed themselves to vigorous and open debate about the pressing legal issues of our day and how they are to be resolved under the constant and durable provisions of our Constitution. The Federalist Society is committed to taking the Constitution seriously and understanding it to be a legal document, rather than an empty vessel to be filled by the policy preferences of those who happen to be wielding the pen at any given moment. On this evening, which I was told might be somber or sober, but which apparently turns out to be neither, I want to applaud your contributions to the Nation’s legal culture, and your efforts, particularly over the past eight years, to elevate the discourse surrounding the most important legal and policy issues facing our Nation.

It is my privilege to be here tonight with such distinguished guests, including members of the Supreme Court and the judiciary. There are also dozens of lawyers here who have served their country during this Administration, some of whom have now returned to the private sector and some of whom I have had the pleasure of working with during my tenure. There are likely others in attendance who will have the opportunity to serve in the new administration. All of which is a testament to those who founded this society and who have a great deal to be proud of. The principles of the Society you founded have inspired a generation of lawyers, and, as evidenced by tonight's attendance, are now inspiring the next generation.

As we near the end of this Administration, and we approach the first transition that our government has seen since the attacks of September 11th 2001, I would like to focus on the successes of this Administration that relate to matters that concern this Society, the legacy that will remain when this Administration leaves office, and on a matter relating to our national security that I think should continue to receive the attention of this Society.

Perhaps of most obvious interest to the members of the Federalist Society are the judges and justices whom the President has appointed to the federal bench. As the President recently explained to the Cincinnati chapter of this Society, he has sought out, as he put it, “judges who would faithfully interpret the Constitution – and not use the courts to invent laws or dictate social policy.” With the help of many in this room, the President has succeeded in this effort and appointed many well-qualified and accomplished judges who understand their role in interpreting—not writing—the laws.

Most notably, the President has appointed two members of the Supreme Court, Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito. These men are no strangers to the people in this room—indeed, they both spoke to this Society last year. Both of these remarkably accomplished justices will continue to serve the Nation for many years to come, and we are grateful not only for their service, but also for their approach to the difficult questions of constitutional law and statutory interpretation that the Court faces each term. The President is rightfully proud of his selection of both of these men, and the Federalist Society should be proud of the role it played in supporting their nominations.

The President also has nominated – and the Senate has confirmed – many other well-qualified judges throughout the Federal courts. Unfortunately, still other good and well-qualified people were denied the same opportunity. We have seen the nominations of skilled, experienced, and well-respected candidates delayed or frustrated through procedural tactics. Quite frequently, it has been hard for these nominees to receive a vote in the Senate or even a hearing before the Judiciary Committee. For those who never received a vote, or even a hearing, I offer my profound regret—you deserved better.

Tonight, however, we should take note of our successes. Indeed, this Administration’s judicial legacy includes 61 judges appointed to the courts of appeals and 261 judges appointed to the district courts. The President and the members of his Administration will leave office in January, but these good judges will remain in place, many for decades to come.

The Federalist Society should be proud of the role it played in supporting these judges, but it also should be proud of the basis on which it did so. As the members of this Society recognize, the core meaning of judicial independence is independence from the political pressures and fashions of the moment. Otherwise, judges become simply politicians who are independent only in the sense that they have life tenure and so are not subject to the discipline of the political process—namely, elections. Although judges are appointed through a political process, once they take the oath, they are confined to exercising a power that is, under Article III, judicial only. Which is to say, one that should involve a faithful, not a fanciful, reading of the laws and the Constitution.

I want to turn to another subject, which I have taken from Day One to be my most solemn responsibility as Attorney General. That is ensuring that we put into place the institutions we need to keep our country safe from the continuing threat posed by Al Qaeda and other international terrorists.

On September 11th, 2001, nineteen terrorists inflicted the most catastrophic attack on our homeland since Pearl Harbor. What made that attack so devastating was not simply the toll inflicted upon our country, but the idea that nineteen lightly armed terrorists could murder nearly 3,000 Americans. The reality of such asymmetric warfare required us to dramatically reconsider how we should confront the threat of international terrorism.

When the terrorists attacked the World Trade Center in 1993, when Al Qaeda attacked the U.S.S. Cole in Yemen and our embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, the United States deployed the FBI to the scene to collect evidence, pursue leads and; ultimately, indict and prosecute at least some of those responsible.

Following the September 11th attacks, however, it no longer seemed prudent to treat international terrorism solely as a criminal matter where suspects are pursued and prosecuted only after they have perpetrated a crime. Indeed, at the time of the September 11th attacks, Osama bin Laden was already under criminal indictment for his role in the embassy bombings. Instead, the United States recognized the attack of September 11th to be what it was: an act of war -- a war that had been declared years earlier by enemies of the United States, and indeed of civilized people everywhere. In response, this Nation, under our President, committed to a comprehensive offensive strategy against the terrorists abroad using every resource at our disposal—military, intelligence, financial and law enforcement.

The U.S. military deployed to Afghanistan where Al Qaeda had found a safe haven within the confines of the brutal and inhumane regime of the Taliban. When our forces, or those of allies, captured members of the enemy, we detained them so that they could not simply return to the battlefield and, where we thought it appropriate, transferred them for detention to the U.S. naval station at Guantanamo Bay.

At home, the Administration sought to reorganize and modernize our government to reflect the new priorities of the War on Terror. We brought domestic security agencies, which historically had been scattered throughout the Executive Branch, under the umbrella of a Department of Homeland Security, and we established a Director of National Intelligence to ensure that our intelligence agencies would work together in tracking terrorist threats and preventing new attacks.

Within the Department of Justice, the FBI made preventing terrorism its top priority and restructured its resources accordingly. Since September 11th, the FBI has transformed itself into a world-class intelligence agency, designed to detect and prevent attacks before they occur, rather than simply investigating them afterwards. The FBI has doubled the number of intelligence analysts and translators in its ranks, and opened 16 new offices overseas, including in Kabul and Baghdad. We created the FBI’s new National Security Branch to bring together divisions responsible for counterterrorism and intelligence and counterespionage, and we made similar institutional reforms in establishing the National Security Division at the Department of Justice.

The Administration worked with Congress in reorganizing our government and with passing new laws to promote the collection and dissemination of critically important intelligence. Shortly after September 11th, Congress passed the Patriot Act to ensure that analysts and investigators could access the information they needed to protect our Nation, work together to “connect the dots,” and pursue a strategy of prevention. And this year, Congress did the same for our intelligence professionals, passing bi-partisan legislation that modernizes the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act to allow the intelligence community to quickly and effectively monitor terrorists’ communications while ensuring respect for our civil liberties.

Taken together, the Administration’s policies in the War on Terror represent nothing less than a fundamental reorganization of our government and will ensure that the next President has the tools he needs to continue to defend the country.

The Administration’s strategy in defending the Nation from terrorist threats has not only been comprehensive, but has also been successful based on what matters the most: Since September 11th, Al Qaeda has not managed to launch a single act of terrorism in the United States. This is a remarkable achievement that no one could have predicted in the days following the September 11th attacks. The credit for that goes to many people, including many brave men and women in our armed forces, and many brave men and women in law enforcement and intelligence services, who put their lives at risk routinely in parts of the world most Americans, to their great comfort, will never encounter. Much of that credit also goes to the President; in this area, as in many others, leadership and resolve matter.

As the end of this Administration draws near, you would expect to hear broad praise for this success at keeping our Nation safe. Instead, I am afraid what we hear is a chorus with a rather more dissonant refrain. Instead of appreciation, or even a fair appraisal, of the Administration’s accomplishments, we have heard relentless criticism of the very policies that have helped keep us safe. We have seen this in the media, we have seen this in the Congress, and we have heard it from the legal academy as well.

In some measure, those criticisms rest on a very dangerous form of amnesia that views the success of our counterterrorism efforts as something that undermines the justification for continuing them. In an odd way, we have become victims of our own success. In the eyes of these critics, if Al Qaeda has not struck our homeland for seven years, then perhaps it never posed much of a threat after all and we didn’t need these counterterrorism policies.

Other critics question the premise — almost universally accepted following the September 11th attacks —that the United States is engaged in a war against Al Qaeda and other groups. Even more common is the casual assumption among many in media, political, and legal circles that the Administration’s counterterrorism policies have come at the expense of the rule of law. I am quite familiar with these criticisms, having heard them myself during my tenure as Attorney General.

Now it is hardly surprising that the questions of how we confront the terrorism threat should generate vigorous debate. These questions are among the most complex and consequential that a democratic government can face. There is, understandably, passionate debate about where the legal lines are drawn in this new and very difficult conflict and, as a matter of policy, how close to those legal lines we should go.

As the members of this Society know, however, answering legal questions often involves a close reading and a critical analysis of a text—the Constitution, statutes, judicial decisions, and the like. Regrettably, this point is much too often lost in the public discourse on the subject. Newspapers, commentators, and even prominent lawyers often discuss critical questions about national security policies with barely any acknowledgement that the answers may depend on the language of, say, the Constitution or a statute. And critics of this Administration’s policies rarely draw distinctions between whether a course of action is permitted as a matter of law, and whether that course of action is prudent as a matter of policy.

For example, earlier this year, the head of a legal organization that prides itself on what it calls its “nonpartisan approach to the law” gave a speech condemning what he called “the oppressive, relentless, and lawless attack by our own government on the rule of law and our liberty.” According to this person, we live now in a - “time of repression” where the “word ‘Patriot’ names a statute that stifles liberty,” and where we face “assaults by our government on constitutional rights, the Separation of Powers, and the Geneva Conventions.” You can practically hear the rumble of tanks in the background.

It is interesting — and telling — that even in the published, written version of these remarks by a lawyer, the references and footnotes are not to statutory texts, the Constitution, treaties, or laws. Instead, the author relied on such authorities as the New York Times, the Washington Post, and the New York Review of Books. This style of criticism can be called many things—provocative perhaps, or evidence that the author could be regarded by some as well-read — but what it cannot be called is a reasoned legal critique.

Also completely absent from these remarks, and from many remarks like it, is any fair appraisal of the legal issues actually involved or an acknowledgement of the difficulty or novelty of the legal questions confronted by the Administration lawyers who made these decisions. Nor was there any discussion of the atmosphere in which these decisions were made. I was in New York City when the two planes hit the Twin Towers, and I know what it was like to be in the city at that time. But I cannot speak from any experience of my own to what it was like to be a lawyer in the Justice Department at that time. There must have been almost unimaginable pressure, without the academic luxury of endless time for debate. The lawyers called on to make critical legal judgments at that time – and in real time – certainly had no time to consult the New York Review of Books when looking for answers to these difficult and pressing questions.

If you listen only to the critics, you might assume, for example, that this Administration, by asserting that habeas corpus did not apply to alien enemy combatants, had tried to deprive the judiciary of a time-honored role in second-guessing our military commanders’ decisions concerning whom to detain on foreign battlefields. Of course, before this armed conflict, federal judges have never asserted the authority to afford habeas corpus to alien enemy combatants captured and detained abroad.

As even the majority in Boumediene acknowledged, the Supreme Court had “never held that noncitizens detained by our Government” outside the United States had “any rights under our Constitution.” Indeed, following World War II, the Court had specifically rejected that habeas corpus would apply in that context. The Administration’s position in Boumediene thus was at least arguably justified by text, history, and precedent. A majority of the Supreme Court may have disagreed, but the Administration’s position hardly constitutes the attack on habeas corpus asserted, but not explained, by its critics like the author I quoted.

And when people denounce a purported assault on the “Geneva Conventions,” you might expect some level of specificity in the charges. One cannot “assault” a treaty as an abstract concept; one can only violate the treaty by acting contrary to its words. The Geneva Conventions contain 319 articles, of which 315 are plainly addressed to armed conflicts among the nations that signed the Conventions. It is hardly surprising that the United States concluded that those provisions would not apply to the armed conflict against Al Qaeda, an international terrorist group and not, the last time I checked, a signatory to the Conventions.

One common article appearing in each of the four conventions, Article 3, provides rules that govern “conflicts not of an international character,” such as civil wars. The President concluded early on that the global war against Al Qaeda had a decidedly “international character.” In Hamdan v. Rumsfeld, a majority of the Supreme Court disagreed. This narrow legal dispute—again turning on an Administration interpretation that was both reasonable and, indeed consistent with text, history and precedent—hardly warrants the sweeping, dismissive, and entirely conclusory criticisms so frequently heard.

I focus on these types of criticisms not because they are so extraordinary, but because they are unfortunately so typical of people who substitute their policy views for any serious legal analysis and who would turn a good-faith legal disagreement into a battle over the purported existence or non-existence of the rule of law. The irony, of course, is that the law requires a serious analysis of text, precedent, and history, and it does not serve the rule of law to substitute a smug sense of outrage for that kind of analysis.

In fact, this Administration has displayed a strong commitment to the rule of law, with all that entails and I suspect, and I admit it is a suspicion tinged with hope, that the next Administration will maintain far more of this Administration’s legal architecture than the intemperate rhetoric in some quarters would seem to suggest. I remain concerned, however, when relentless criticism of this Administration’s policies moves beyond simply disagreement into a realm where critics, and even public officials, seek to invoke the criminal justice system to vindicate their policy views. For instance, in June of this year, 56 Members of Congress sent me a letter requesting that I appoint a special counsel to conduct a criminal investigation of the actions of the President, members of his cabinet, and other national security lawyers and intelligence professionals into the CIA’s interrogation of captured members of Al Qaeda.

The Members who signed this letter offered no evidence that these government officials acted based on any motive other than a good-faith desire to protect the citizens of our Nation from a future terrorist attack. Nor did they provide any evidence or indication that these government officials sought to authorize any policy that violated our laws. Quite the contrary: as has become well-known, before conducting interrogations, the CIA officials sought the advice of the Department of Justice, and I am aware of no evidence that these DOJ attorneys provided anything other than their best judgment of what the law required.

Casual requests for criminal investigations, as well as the even more prolific conflation of legal disagreements with policy disagreements, reflect a broader trend whose institutional effects may outlast the current Administration and could well endanger our future national security.

I have spoken in more detail about these concerns in several recent speeches, in which I drew substantially on former Assistant Attorney General Jack Goldsmith’s book, The Terror Presidency.

Let’s all remember what Professor Goldsmith has said about what he saw during his time in the Administration. Although he may have disagreed with some of the legal reasoning employed in making those decisions, he made it perfectly clear that despite his disagreement he saw no evidence that those who provided that advice did so in bad faith, for any reason other than to protect the country during a time of war, or with the belief that what they were doing was in any way contrary to the law. It is important for those who are so quick to condemn the attorneys who were working nearly around the clock, for months on end, in the wake of September 11th, to keep that in mind.

In his book, Professor Goldsmith describes what he calls “cycles of timidity and aggression” among political leaders and commentators in their attitudes towards the intelligence community. These cycles have played out before – from the 1960’s through the 1990’s, but those past cycles are now mainly of historic interest. The most recent cycle is of much more than historic interest. As Professor Goldsmith explains, following the September 11th attacks, “The consistent refrain from the [9/11] Commission, Congress, and pundits of all stripes was that the government must be more forward-leaning against the terrorist threat: more imaginative, more aggressive, less risk-averse.”

After going seven years without another terrorist attack, our intelligence professionals and national security lawyers now hear quite a different message. When 56 Members of Congress request a criminal investigation of the professionals and lawyers, they should have no doubt that those lawyers, and certainly their successors, will get the message: if they support an aggressive counterterrorism policy based on their good faith belief that such a policy is lawful, they may one day be prosecuted for it.

The competing imperatives to protect the nation and to safeguard our civil liberties are worthy of public debate and discussion, and congressional oversight and review of our intelligence activities is vitally important. But it is equally important that such scrutiny be conducted responsibly, with appreciation of its institutional implications. We want lawyers to give their best advice to those who must act, and we want those who must act to know that they can rely on that advice.

As this Society knows, the rule of law is not undermined by stating with clarity and precision exactly what the law requires. To the contrary, both our law, and our democracy, gain strength when we separate legal disputes from policy disputes, and when we permit our policy disputes to be aired in good faith.

In a democracy, of course, the appropriate way to resolve policy disputes is through the ballot box. We have just had an election, and a new Administration will soon take the reins in Washington. What I have done as Attorney General has been to try, along with others in our government, to make sure that our counterterrorism efforts stand on sound institutional and legal footing so that the next Attorney General and the new Administration have what they need to assure the safety of the Nation.

The next Administration will have the opportunity to review the institutions and the legal structures that this Administration has relied upon in keeping the nation safe over the past seven years. I am neither so proud as to think that the next Administration will be unable to make improvements, nor so naïve as to think that the policy choices, or even the legal judgments, that they make will be identical to ours.

What I do hope, however, is that the next Administration understands the threat that we continue to face and that it shares the priority we have placed on remaining on the offense to prevent future terrorist attacks. Remaining on the offense includes not simply relying on the tools that we have established, but also encouraging a climate in which both legal and policy issues are debated responsibly, in a way that does not chill the intelligence community and deter national security lawyers from making the decisions necessary to protect us.

And I am hopeful that some time from now, after the next Administration has had the chance to review the decisions made and the legal advice provided, it will acknowledge that despite any policy differences, the national security lawyers in this Administration acted professionally and in good faith and that the country was safer as a result.

The loyal opposition, of course, remains as important a part of democracy as the majority in power. In that regard, I take comfort in the fact that whether in office or not, many members of this Society will remain a part of the public debate and will help ensure that the next Administration acts responsibly and effectively to protect our country and to protect the ideals on which it is based. For that, and for your support based on the principles that support this Society, I am grateful, and I can say with certainty that the Nation is grateful.

Thank you.

Monday, December 1, 2008

What a Week We’re Having!

Already, more than six weeks BEFORE the Obama administration takes rein, many far-Left liberals and their like-minded friends in the mainstream media, who’ve believed that Obama's election would soften our enemy’s view of us, have been proven wrong. In fact, any perception of weakness on America's part, going forward would seem to only embolden terrorists to ramp up their attacks.
And that is just ONE of the lessons from the attacks on Mumbai.

The fact that the Mumbai radical Islamists targeted Americans and British citizens highlights why this can't be portrayed as an internal matter specific to India.

Moreover, Mumbai proves that “al Qaeda is NOT America’s sole, or even primary enemy in the War on Terror (WoT),” as much as it proves that the WoT isn’t going away.

America and the West’s enemy in the WoT is radical Islamists, NOT merely al Qaeda.
As for those far-Left liberals (the MoveOn and Daily-Kossocks), who believed that a President Obama would carry out their anti-WoT agenda are the big losers here, with further disillusionment almost certain to follow.

Sure, Chris Mathews has gone on record claiming that he believes that Obama has picked a largely “Right-wing cabinet,” precisely in order to move Left.

Well that may be what Chris Mathews thinks (hopes), but it doesn’t gibe with the reality of the Obama team’s recent delaying, if not halting, the end of the Bush tax cuts, a very market-oriented economic team, no more talk about an early Iraq pullout and the maintaining of Robert Gates and the naming of Janet Napolitano (a strict border enforcer and WoT supporter) as Homeland Security. None of those developments bode well for any lurch to the Left by team Obama.

But the bottom-line will be results and we’ll all see what happens. Wilting from the WoT and Left-wing, hair-brained economic policies would almost certainly both result in disasters.

Disasters that the Obama team almost certainly wants to avoid at all costs.

We’ll see soon enough whether Centrist Americans or the hard-Left will be the most disappointed in the coming administration.

My money’s on the latter.
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