Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Thomas Sowell On Govt. Regulation

Thomas Sowell weighs in on Barney Frank, our government's role in causing this economic mess, and the stimulus. Prof. Sowell is always worth a listen.


Gates & The Politics of Race

The Gates/Obama incident has been played and replayed many times over the past few days. A woman sees two men - one possibly Hispanic, the other of unknown ethnicity - trying to force in the back door of a residence that had been burglarized a week earlier. Police respond to a call of possible burglary in progress. By all accounts it is standard procedure when responding to such calls to ask any person who answers the door to step outside. If there is an invader in the home, this allows the police to secure the individual who answered the door, to remove them from any coercive threat, and insure they are not in harms way while the matter is resolved. Prof. Gates, a Professor of African American Studies at Harvard, immediately turned the incident into one of race. He was beligerent with the police from the outset, he refused their lawful order to step outside, and he told the police that they would not "do this to a white person." He was arrested for disorderly conduct.

Not a single individual of any ethnicity in the police dept. invovled has spoken out against the arresting officer or in support of Prof. Gates. To the contrary, they have been uniform in their support of the arresting officer's actions. But then there was President Obama who, at a press conference, pronounced the arrest of Prof. Gates "stupid," giving the implication that this was a racist act by the arresting officer. The result was a furor that had Obama back peddaling within days.

This is not a big incident. But I find it fascinating for what it tells us about the nation. I think it says several things:

- Our nation has progressed far towards the colorblind ideal since the dark days of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Bull Conor.

- There was a time when playing the race card would be mean automatic free pass for the player of the card. White liberal guilt and intense pressure from the left combined to make playing the race card a sure winner. The Gates incident tells us that is no longer automatically true.

- The last step on the road to a truly post-racial America will be a dismanteling of affirmative action in all its aspects, creating a truly level playing field with actual acts of racism and reverse racism punished under the law. The highly publicized Ricci case focused attention on this in a way that had not occurred previously. If the polls in the wake of Ricci are any indication, that is the goal of most Americans.

- People expected Obama to be true to his word of promising to build a post racial America. Indeed, the symbolism of his Presidency, that it marks the triumph in America of equality over racism, will be the defining and most precious legacy of Obama's election. That is no doubt the reason why, when Obama took take sides in a "racial incident," it shocked much of the electorate who had taken him at his word.

Given the above, while the Gates incident itself is not of great significance, it foreshadows what may be one of the great ironies of the Obama presidency. His election, which marks the high water mark of identity politics, may also sound its death knell. Whether Obama actually meant to heal the "racial divide," his election may takes us the last few "longest yards" in spite of the substance of Obama and his Presidency. If America can collectively vote a black man as President, then objectively there is no longer a gaping racial divide. And with that, collective white guilt may well no longer be the prime driver in the politics of race. When that happens, perhaps the ideal of Martin Luther King Jr. will finally come to fruition. The writing is on the wall, it is only a matter of time.


Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Intel & Politics In The Dem's Congress

Nancy Pelosi may be clinically insane - an opinion I have had for a long time - but she knows how to choose people that are loyal. Congressman Sylvester Reyes is a case in point. Pelosi elevated this man to the post of Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee. It was certainly not because he was the sharpest knife in the box - to the contrary, at the time of his appointment, he did not know whether al Qaeda was a Sunni or Shia organization. One might consider that show of confusion on the most basic of points a disqualifier for an aspiring Intel chief during time of war. But what Reyes lacks in even the most basic of understanding of intelligence, he more than makes up for in loyalty to his mentor, Pelosi. And he is now leading the charge to discredit the CIA and to insure that the truth never comes out about Pelosi's claim that she was not briefed on waterboarding.

Democrats are claiming it a scandal that our CIA might have floated a program to conduct targeted assassinations of al Qaeda operatives without briefing Congress. They further claim that the decision not to brief Congress was made by the font of all evil in the world, Dick Cheney, Their goal is to hold this situation up as proof that the CIA regularly misleads Congress, and that, as such, no further proof on the Pelosi matter is warranted. As to the program itself, one has to wonder why such a plan was not operational on 9-12. Beyond that, there is this from Congressman Pete Hoekstra writing in the NY Post:

CIA Director Panetta refused to back the allegation that Cheney gave such an order. Former CIA Director Michael Hayden flatly denied that he'd ever been instructed not to brief Congress. Now Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair has also distanced himself from these over-the-top allegations by House Democrats.

There's also been a flurry of bizarre letters from House Intelligence Committee members about this matter suggesting that Democrats are no longer interested in bipartisan oversight of intelligence. One was slipped under a Republican staff member's door after business hours. I first learned about it from the news media.

Another letter signed by seven Democratic House intelligence-committee members did not use House Intelligence committee stationery, apparently to ensure that Republicans didn't get a copy. Two Democratic House Intelligence Committee members refused to sign this letter because they thought it was too political.

These new allegations, letters and calls for investigations are part of a strategy by Democrats to attack intelligence personnel and agencies. Why? To protect House Speaker Nancy Pelosi -- who is in hot water over her May 14 comments that the CIA "lies all the time" and misled her about enhanced interrogation of terrorist suspects.

A major consequence of this Democratic effort to politicize intelligence is that the House Intelligence Committee has essentially stopped doing meaningful work. The 2010 intelligence-authorization bill was so poorly drafted (and loaded with language to protect Pelosi) that President Obama threatened a veto, forcing Democratic leaders to pull the bill from consideration this month.

. . . Disarray by House Democrats on intelligence oversight is seriously damaging the morale of US intelligence officers and their ability to do their jobs. How can Democrats claim they are serious about national security when they are exploiting intelligence and attacking intelligence professionals for political advantage?

I have emphasized that the intelligence community must be accountable when it does not tell Congress what it is doing. But when Congress is told and approves, Congress needs to be held accountable.

Pelosi's claim that the CIA lied to her about enhanced interrogations and recent Democratic claims that the CIA misled them about another program ignore the point that Democrats were repeatedly briefed on and approved the CIA's tough counterterrorism programs from the outset.

. . . The incredible amount of partisanship Democrats have introduced into intelligence matters is demoralizing the US intelligence community, causing sensitive information to be disclosed and encouraging our enemies. For the good of our nation, Democrats need to start acting like adults and begin conducting responsible and bipartisan intelligence oversight. These attacks on our intelligence community need to stop now.

Partisan political games have no place when it comes to national security.

That last sentence from Congressman Hoekstra is purely aspirational. Democrats have been politicizing intelligence since they decided that the Vietnam War that they led us into was unpopular. Democrats have been politicizing and hamstringing our intelligence capabilities in an unbroken line since the Church Commission at the conclusion of the Vietnam War. It has worked for them, so why stop now.


Evil Does Exist

Perhaps the most brilliant history prof whom I had the good fortune to have for several classes in undergrad, Prof. Jack Martin, made the observation that history had proven that the worst possible form of government was a theocracy. Such governments are draconian, brutal, and irrational according to the whim of the moment of the theocrat. It is a form of government were horrid acts are justified on a twisting of religious dogma. He made that statement in reflecting upon all of history's theocracies of whatever religion and before he had the benefit of seeing the rise of the Taliban and Khomeini's final assertion of control in Iran. As he noted, religion's that take power to build utopia on earth invariably become evil when given the opportunity to use police powers rather than moral suasion.

Our recent history is replete with examples that prove Prof. Martin's argument. The latest is from Iran where, among other obscenities, the government sets the age of consent at nine and condones the rape of women on religious grounds. This from the country with whom Obama so desperately wishes to hold talks.

Robert at Seraphic Secret quotes this passage from a Jerusalem Post article:

In a shocking and unprecedented interview, directly exposing the inhumanity of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei's religious regime in Iran, a serving member of the paramilitary Basiji militia has told this reporter of his role in suppressing opposition street protests in recent weeks.

He said he had been a highly regarded member of the force, and had so "impressed my superiors" that, at 18, "I was given the 'honor' to temporarily marry young girls before they were sentenced to death."

In the Islamic Republic it is illegal to execute a young woman, regardless of her crime, if she is a virgin, he explained. Therefore a "wedding" ceremony is conducted the night before the execution: The young girl is forced to have sexual intercourse with a prison guard—essentially raped by her "husband."

"I regret that, even though the marriages were legal," he said.
Why the regret, if the marriages were "legal?"

"Because," he went on, "I could tell that the girls were more afraid of their 'wedding' night than of the execution that awaited them in the morning. And they would always fight back, so we would have to put sleeping pills in their food. By morning the girls would have an empty expression; it seemed like they were ready or wanted to die.

"I remember hearing them cry and scream after [the rape] was over," he said. "I will never forget how this one girl clawed at her own face and neck with her finger nails afterwards. She had deep scratches all over her."

Read Richard's post, then see the Elder of Ziyon, who has much more to add to the mosaic of evil that is Iran's theocracy. As do Soccer Dad and Mere Rhetoric. Note also that the crimes for women in Iran are executed have nothing to do with crimes of violence. Prostitution and adultery lead the list.

Richard cites to a Jonathan Tobin opinion piece in the Jerusalem Post, asking how American Jews concered with support for Israel could have possibly seen their vote for Obama as meeting that concern. True, but given that Iran is equally as much a threat to the entire civilized world, how could anyone concerned our security have voted for Obama?


Sorry For The Absence

Have spent the better part of the last two weeks caring for a seriously injured family member. She is getting better.


Tuesday, July 14, 2009

She Speaks

Well, she writes, actually, in today's Washington Post, attacking the disaster that is Obama's cap and trade plan. It is vintage Palin, on point and with a bit of cynical humor.

. . . I am deeply concerned about President Obama's cap-and-trade energy plan, and I believe it is an enormous threat to our economy. It would undermine our recovery over the short term and would inflict permanent damage.

American prosperity has always been driven by the steady supply of abundant, affordable energy. Particularly in Alaska, we understand the inherent link between energy and prosperity, energy and opportunity, and energy and security. Consequently, many of us in this huge, energy-rich state recognize that the president's cap-and-trade energy tax would adversely affect every aspect of the U.S. economy.

There is no denying that as the world becomes more industrialized, we need to reform our energy policy and become less dependent on foreign energy sources. But the answer doesn't lie in making energy scarcer and more expensive! Those who understand the issue know we can meet our energy needs and environmental challenges without destroying America's economy.

Job losses are so certain under this new cap-and-tax plan that it includes a provision accommodating newly unemployed workers from the resulting dried-up energy sector, to the tune of $4.2 billion over eight years. So much for creating jobs.

In addition to immediately increasing unemployment in the energy sector, even more American jobs will be threatened by the rising cost of doing business under the cap-and-tax plan. For example, the cost of farming will certainly increase, driving down farm incomes while driving up grocery prices. The costs of manufacturing, warehousing and transportation will also increase.

The ironic beauty in this plan? Soon, even the most ardent liberal will understand supply-side economics. . . .

Do read the entire article. Palin has composed an excellent piece that hits all the salient points in the cap and tax fiasco.

As to the last part about understanding supply-side economics, after listening to Pelosi, Reid and virtually the entire Democratic Party last year attempt to disavow that supply is actually part of any economic equation, I have my doubts about them. As to the rest of rank and file America, I am sure that is a lesson everyone will learn quite quickly.


AP - Reporting the Record Deficit, Spinning For Obama

The AP reports that the budget deficit has now actually exceeded $1 trillion for the fiscal year, and forecast that it will likely exceed $2 trillion by the fall. That would raise our total national debt to 12.5 trillion. Then they shill for Obama and a second round of stimulus, giving a history lesson that reads like something out of the People's World Weekly.

With the government spending masses of money it does not have and burning out the printing presses (yes, apparently this stuff does grow on trees in Washington, at least when the left does the gardening), and the fiscal year's debt topping a $1 trillion already, the AP tells us that our creditors are getting a might worried:

"These are mind-boggling numbers," said Sung Won Sohn, an economist at the Smith School of Business at California State University. "Our foreign investors from China and elsewhere are starting to have concerns about not only the value of the dollar but how safe their investments will be in the long run."

To summarize the rest of the AP's logic:

1. Yes, we've spent a lot, but we found an economist to say that if we hadn't done all this borrowing and spending, we'd be worse off.

2. Trying to reign in spending now would be a bad idea. A second round of stimulus might well be need.

3. Republicans are complaining about the size of the defecit and the massive public spending. They don't know what they're talking about.

4. The Recession of 1937 occurred because FDR stopped massive government spending. To quote from AP:

History shows the dangers of assuming too soon that economic downturns have ended.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt made that mistake in 1936. Believing the Depression largely over, he sought to reduce public spending and to balance the federal budget, but that undermined a fragile recovery, pushing the economy back under water in 1937.

I'd love to know who does their historical research.

As a threshold matter, the Depression started in 1929. By 1936, most sectors of the economy were back at pre-depression levels, but for unemployment which was down from the peak but still in double digits.

How can one look at the graph above and think that the New Deal - or the second round of "stimulus" from FDR in 1937, healed our economy? The war economy started in 1939, and that is what pulled us out of the Depression. We had virtually full employment with people in America willingly sacrificing for the war effort by working overtime without pay as well as undergoing rationing and price controls.

As to the origins of the 1937 Recession, that occurred directly on the back of FDR's passage of laws empowering unions and his talk of a massive attack on big business. Do you think there might be a connection? This from Conservapedia:

[T]he New Deal had been very hostile to business expansion in 1935-37, had encouraged massive strikes which had a negative impact on major industries such as automobiles, and had threatened massive anti-trust legal attacks on big corporations. All those threats diminished sharply after 1938. For example, the antitrust efforts fizzled out without major cases. The CIO and AFL unions started battling each other more than corporations, and tax policy became more favorable to long-term growth.

Any of that sound similar to today, with Obama poised to war on businesses and expanding the power of unions?

Moreover, the AP completely mischaracterizes Republican opposition to the "stimulus." According to AP, the bases for Republican opposition are the massive borrowing and the failure of all this deficit spending to help the economy recover. They fail to note the biggest Republican complaint that ties all of this together - that the way the left is going about the "stimulus" is not to promote growth or jobs - it was a package of special interest spending that has been ineffective. Less than 1% - all of $6 billion of it - went to small business loans. The rest went to funding such much needed economic problems as saving endangered mice.

One wonders if, when things get predictibly worse, organizations such as the AP will feel any sort of responsibility for it all?


Saturday, July 11, 2009

No posts today

Reality intruding on blogging time today. Back to it tonight or tomorrow.


Friday, July 10, 2009

Clueless & On The Clock

From former CIA Officer Reuel Marc Gerecht, following his analysis of the import of the declaration of Qom's Association of Religious Scholars:

. . . In the West, what's particularly distressing is that the Obama White House still seems to have little idea of the magnitude and nature of what is transpiring inside Iran. Tied to a fruitless policy of engagement (there's nothing wrong with "engaging" Khamenei so long as you use force as a medium of dialogue, i.e., you do unto them as they have consistently done unto you), President Obama appears to be blind to the most amazing time in the Middle East since the Islamic revolution. The future of the region is in play. We do--even after apologizing for the 1953 coup--have a few equities involved and can helpfully "meddle."

As Iran's unfolding battle between the children of the revolution is likely to last awhile, President Obama will get a chance to change course. Administrations often endeavor for three years on failed foreign policies before they can admit, at least internally, that there is a severe disconnect between their objectives and reality. Ali Khamenei has demolished President Obama's Iran policy in only five months. As a "student of history," the president may yet grow to appreciate the favor.

I love the line about force. And indeed, the history of Iran's theocracy has been that they meaningfully modify their behavior only in response to force or the threat of force. I do not share Gerecht's belief that we can afford Neville Chamberlain Obama guiding the U.S. foreign policy with Iran for three years and still be in a position to right the ship. I believe our window will be far shorter than that due to the nuclear issue. Unfortunately, while Obama has shown a real willingness to adopt Bush policies that worked in the War on Terror, none of that has bled into his uniformly inept and ideologically driven foreign policy. At best, we will play no role during this critical window of opportunity for regime change in Iran. At worst, Obama may actually throw a life line to the floundering mad mullahs who run the regime. He is the wrong man in office at a critical moment in history - and time is not on our side.


The Mouse That Roared

There is perhaps no better symbol of all that is wrong with the Democratic grab bag that was passed under the rubric of "stimulus" than the salt marsh harvest mouse. In a $787 billion bill that was sold as a necessity to restart our economy and keep unemployment from ever going over 8%, precious little of it is actually going to fan the flames of small business and create permanent private sector jobs. Instead, we learn today that $16.1 million of the stimulus is being spent to protect the salt marsh harvest mouse, an endangered rodent that lives in marshes abutting San Francisco.

This from the Washington Times:

. . . The Obama administration quietly announced last week that as much as $16.1 million from the stimulus program is going to save the San Francisco Bay area habitat of, among other things, the endangered salt marsh harvest mouse.

That has revived Republican criticism that the pet project was an "invisible earmark" in the massive spending bill for Mrs. Pelosi, whose San Francisco district abuts the bay, and epitomizes the failure of stimulus spending to help an economy still shedding jobs.

"Lo and behold, the government has announced that the mouse is getting its money after all," House Minority Leader John A. Boehner said while standing beside a poster of the furry varmint. "Speaker Pelosi must be so proud."

The Ohio Republican continued, "So let's get this straight: The stimulus isn't creating jobs for American workers, but it is making sure American harvest mice have nice comfortable homes in the midst of the recession." Mrs. Pelosi's office was quick to dismiss the criticism.

Pelosi spokesman Drew Hammill called the attack on the mouse "a tired and tried tale of Republican desperation," noting that the mouse was never mentioned in the legislation and the project competed with other restoration jobs for funding. Mr. Hammill said the bay project benefited both the economy and the ecosystem.

"Wetlands restoration projects, such as this one, not only create jobs, but improve the environment," he said. "Wetlands filter contaminants from the waters of the bay, protect our shores against sea level rise, and provide habitat for a myriad of wildlife, including several endangered species. . . .

Right. Just how many permanent jobs can we see coming out of this project? What is the possible economic justification for funding this in part on borrowed money? This has nothing to do with the economy and everything to do with a favored project of the left getting funded in the obscene spending - and borrowing - spree that was "stimulus." The picture of this mouse should be made the permanent background for the graphs of unemployment and national debt in America under the Obama administration.



Drudge has this pic over the title "Second Stimulus Package." Lol.

I have to give Obama a pass on this one. He may be a radical leftie, but he's a man, and of that gender, the only one's of us who wouldn't have done the same thing are eunuchs or out campaigning for gay marriage.

Update: Apparently, the girl is sixteen years old and from Brazil.


Thursday, July 9, 2009

Did Obama Do A Quid Pro Quo With Iran?

Iran is still supporting, funding, training surrogates who operate inside of Iraq — flat out. They have not stopped. And I don’t think they will stop. I think they will continue to do that because they are also concerned, in my opinion, of where Iraq is headed. They want to try to gain influence here, and they will continue to do that. I think many of the attacks in Baghdad are from individuals that have been, in fact, funded or trained by the Iranians.

Gen. Raymond T. Odierno, Cdr, Multi-National Forces-Iraq, quoted in Americans Release Iranian Detainees to Iraq, NYT, 9 July 2009

The NYT reports that, today, the U.S. military in Iraq released five senior operatives of Iran's Qods Force / IRGC. The question is why?

Iran cannot coexist with a secular, Shia democracy on their border. It stands for everything that Iran's theocracy is not. Thus, the mad mullahs of the theocracy have shown every willingness to kill and cause mayhem inside Iraq in an effort to turn that country into another Lebanon, ruled by a Shia militia whose loyalty is to Iran's Supreme Guide. The U.S. has been capturing Qods Force / IRGC soldiers in Iraq since 2006. The IRGC members the U.S. captured in Iraq were the men on the ground leading and funding Iran's effort. Iran's theocracy has not, will not, and indeed, cannot stop its efforts in Iraq. So what could possibly justify the U.S. releasing five senior Qods Force/IRGC members to return to Iran. And today, such a policy is thrown into stark relief as the people of Iran are marching in the streets, braving brutal repression at the IRGC.

The NYT claims the release is "unexpected" and difficult to comprehend. The official line is that it was done per a request from the Maliki government, though "senior Iraqi officials seemed to know little about the release." So what gives? Michael Ledeen ties it to the release of Roxana Saberi, and it seems the only explanation that makes sense.

Several weeks ago, Roxana Saberi, a U.S. citizen of Iranian decent, moved to Iran as a reporter where she was eventually made a pawn of Iranian regime. Arrested for espionage, she was subject to a kangaroo trial and ordered jailed for eight years. Days after she was jailed, Ahmedinejad intervened and she was, as the WSJ noted at the time, "unexpectedly released". That was the "quid" - the unanwered question being what was the "pro quo." Today we may well have an answer with the first of what may be numerous releases of Iranian IRGC members in Iraq who orchestrated "deadly attacks" as part of the effort to Lebanize that country.

This from Michael Ledeen:

. . . [I]n an appalling act of appeasement, we released five Revolutionary Guards officers in Iraq, so that they could go to Tehran (and I doubt they will join the nocturnal chanters). . . .

The timing could hardly have been worse, and I’m sure the White House is roundly annoyed that this happened just on a day when the regime’s claws and fangs were so publicly exposed. The White House had set the release up for several days ago, but then the Almighty–in the form of intense sandstorms that made it impossible to fly in and out of Tehran–intervened.

If my information is correct – and I must say I have rarely had a story so vigorously denied by my own government – this is part of the deal for Roxana Saberi, who, you’ll remember, was miraculously released from an Iranian prison a couple of months ago. These IRGC commanders – with, I am told, hundreds of lower-level Iranian terror facilitators to come in the next days and weeks – were Iran’s price for freeing the American hostage.

I had inklings of this, and said so at the time. So I’ll take the opportunity to remind everyone who follows Iranian matters, that the mullahs’ hostages are never released for humanitarian motives. They are ransomed. The only question is the price.

When I asked some folks in the government, about a week ago, if we were preparing to release these people, they acted as if I’d asked if the Vice President were about to convert to Islam. But the releases have started. . . .

At the next briefing on Iraq from Gen. Odierno, he needs to be asked explicitly about this. I cannot see our militrary agreeing to repatriate these individuals who have been reponsible for the killing and maiming of hundreds of U.S. soldiers.

As to Ms. Saberi, her plight was sympathetic, but she had to know before she went there that the mad mullahs were always capable of acting like mad mullahs. Under no circumstances should we have agreed to release Qods Force members to secure her freedom. That said, it is an act I would not in the least put past the Obama administration.


Today In Tehran (Updated)

One 26 year old engineering student said: “tell the world what is happening here. This is our revolution. We will not give up.” Asked what he wanted he said “We want democracy.”

Report from Tehran, The NYT Lede, July 7, 2009

Today is the tenth anniversary of the student riots that took place after basij raided the dormitories of Tehran University. Mousavi had called for protests today, and they are happening - with chants of "Death to the Dictator" and "Death to Khameini's Son." The son of Iran mid-level cleric cum Supreme Guide, Ali Khamini, is now leading the Basij, Iran's brutal version of the Nazi Brownshirts. Meanwhile, our own feckless President and his party are turning their backs on Iran. NIAC is reporting that, "last night, the U.S. Congress shelved a controversial motion to restore $75 million in funding for regime change in Iran." Moreover, Obama, who had taken the wrong-headed stance against imposing any further international sanctions on the theocracy over their fradulent election and brutal repression of their citizens, succeeded - the G-8 went so far as to express their concern. Leadership, eh?

Meanwhile . . .

This from two messages sent to the NYT Lede by an individual who has provided reliable information in the past:

The phones are completely out. I’m hiding in an international hotel…. riot police wanted to break in but the managers convinced them. The crowd is running in the thousands, starting in Enqelab where riot police and basij started beating people. Saw one middle-age woman with blood stains. Then they pushed up kargar st to laleh park, squads of 25 police would run up the streets with batons beating people. I hid in a clock shop, like many other people who would hide in street shops and come out once these attack squads went up the streets.

Fires of trash are burning in main streets. Everyone honking, women and men of all ages out, even kids in cars (most families have driven their cars and blocked the streets). No phone so hoping there will be internet later. One 55-year-old housewife said to me proudly “This is Iran. We are all together,” in front of Fatemi street where the crowd stretches as far as the eye can see, but again crowd is moving because riot police is moving as well as the basij on motorcycles. Lots of people chanting “Down with Dictator!” and “Moussavi! Moussavi!” and “God is Almighty.”

. . . The crowds are too huge to contain. Riot police running up and down Fatemi Street beating people, barely got out of the way. The crowds just get out of their way and come back. Saw two undercover Basij, one was actually a late 40s businessman in a suit, whipped out a collapsible metal baton and started beating someone with a camera. He was beaten until the baton broke, another Basij came on motorcycle to help but crowds started surging and booed them away. Someone threw a water bottle but otherwise crowd is peaceful — keep chanting “Please Stop!” and chased the two Basij away.

Then riot police came back up. More fires in the street as trash and various containers are burned. Tear gas everywhere, no gunshots yet I think but again undercover Basij everywhere. Again I stress crowds in thousands and this is just one street. One 27-year guy in black shirt said “We don’t want war. We just want freedoms. Here, [he signals getting shot] no matter. Down with the dictator,” and people joining in the chant. Also [chanting] “God is Great!”

The main theme is that people are surprisingly non-violent. They seem very hopeful and energetic. People from all levels of society are out. No one is throwing rocks but people have been setting fires in the street.

And this from Michael Ledeen, giving his final update of the day:

4:30 PM (last reliable information I’m going to have today, I think). Khamenei was told the following:

* massive demonstrations
* 3 killed
* 78 known as seriously wounded, many broken bones and ruptured internal organs, several may not make it; other wounded may have disappeared
* 600 arrests

SPECIAL MESSAGE FROM OPPOSITION: “please tell the world about these atrocities; people did nothing, silence, no provocations, no violence but fierce attacks by the government forces.”


The "Recovery" That Isin't

The latest Republican ad - not a bad effort

Meanwhile, USA Today is reporting that Obama continues a practice from ancient antiquity - that of tyrants distibuting the spoils to their favored subjects in order to cement their power. We saw Obama do it with the extra-constitutional favoring of unions over preferred debt holders with GM and Chrysler, and now we see it being played out in the stimulus. Specifically, when the USA today charts where the stimulus money has gone, they find that those locales that supported Obama are raking in $69 per person, those that supported McCain are getting less than half of that at $34 per person.

At least Obama is tanking in the polls. This from Rasmussen:

The Rasmussen Reports daily Presidential Tracking Poll for Thursday shows that 30% of the nation's voters now Strongly Approve of the way that Barack Obama is performing his role as President. Thirty-eight percent (38%) Strongly Disapprove giving Obama a Presidential Approval Index rating of –8. The President’s Approval Index rating has fallen six points since release of a disappointing jobs report last week (see trends).

Thirty-nine percent (39%) now give the President good or excellent marks for handling the economy while 43% say he is doing a poor job. Those are by far his lowest ratings yet on the economy . . .

Thirty-four percent (34%) of voters nationwide say the U.S. is heading in the right direction, the lowest level of optimism since mid-March. The Rasmussen Index shows consumer and investor confidence are down again today reaching the lowest level in three months. The Discover U.S. Spending Monitor fell for the first time in three months. A Rasmussen video report notes that 46% want the government to stay out of the housing market. . . .

As to the last mentioned by Rasmussen, while it was government involvment in the mortgage industry that gave us our current economic meltdown (see here and here) - specifically, social engineering of lending standards in order to achieve racial quotas - Obama has big plans for expanding that bit of social engineering.

(H/T Gateway, Gateway, Gateway)


Republicans Highlight The Fannie & Freddie Failures But Need More

The Republican members of the House Oversight Committee have issued a 29 page report dealing with the subprime meltdown. You can find it here. While it does tell the tale, it goes nowhere near far enough in many respects. It does not do enough to highlight the foreseeability of this mortgage meltdown, nor does it do enough to highlight the culpability of Democrats in the House and Senate, Barney Frank in particular. (For more on those topics, see my post, Hurricane Subprime) Most importantly, the House report does not put the mortgage meltdown in the larger context of economic meltdown we are facing today.

As the report sums up:

The housing bubble that burst in 2007 and led to a financial crisis can be traced back to federal government intervention in the U.S. housing market intended to help provide homeownership opportunities for more Americans. This intervention began with two government-backed corporations, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which privatized their profits but socialized their risks, creating powerful incentives for them to act recklessly and exposing taxpayers to tremendous losses. Government intervention also created “affordable” but dangerous lending policies which encouraged lower down payments, looser underwriting standards and higher leverage. Finally, government intervention created a nexus of vested interests – politicians, lenders and lobbyists – who profited from the “affordable” housing market and acted to kill reforms. In the short run, this government intervention was successful in its stated goal – raising the national homeownership rate. However, the ultimate effect was to create a mortgage tsunami that wrought devastation on the American people and economy. While government intervention was not the sole cause of the financial crisis, its role was significant and has received too little attention.

All of that is good for as far as it goes, but this report simply is far too narrow. Republicans still are not putting the "subprime meltdown" in the context of the larger economic meltdown that we are facing. They are still ceding to the Democrats by their silence the larger narrative of Democrats that our economic crisis is ultimately a failure of capitalist markets and caused by deregulation.

None of that is true. At the heart of the subprime meltdown was social engineering through government regulation. Without the subprime meltdown, we simply do not suffer our current economic crisis. That was the big domino that has knocked down all the other dominos. The failure of bond rating companies to accurately assess the risk of mortgage backed securities was a related major culprit. Mark to market accounting rules then made this whole matter exponentially worse, creating a market value of zero for a significant portion of mortgage backed securities. I could go on, but I am so tired of screaming about this while our Republicans in Congress - those who should be doing the screaming - sit on their thumbs.

Unfortunately, Obama is using the left's narrative for a massive expansion of government control of our economy. He is even pushing a vast expansion of the CRA and racially charged lending requirements. It is insanity. It is like prescribing a diet of butter and lard for a heart attack victim. But it will happen if this is the best the Republicans can do as a counternarrative. And if so, we are in deep trouble.


Wednesday, July 8, 2009

EPA admits Cap & Trade Will Not Effect Climate

If the U.S. unilaterally enacts Waxman Markey cap and trade without equally significant action from China, India, and the rest of the developing world - which are not going to happen - the end result by 2035 will be:

Tax Revenues Transferred To Government: $5.7 trillion from 2012-2035 (Heritage est.)

Climate Impact: 0

Doesn't that sound like a deal. This from the Heritage Foundation:

. . . It should be a red flag when the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) admits cap and trade won’t work. At yesterday’s hearing before the Senate Environment Public Works Committee,

EPA Administrator Jackson confirmed an EPA analysis showing that unilateral U.S. action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions would have no effect on climate. Moreover, when presented with an EPA chart depicting that outcome, Energy Secretary Steven Chu said he disagreed with EPA’s analysis.

“I believe the central parts of the [EPA] chart are that U.S. action alone will not impact world CO2 levels,” Administrator Jackson said.

Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) presented the chart to both Jackson and Secretary Chu, which shows that meaningful emissions reductions cannot occur without aggressive action by China, India, and other developing countries. “I am encouraged that Administrator Jackson agrees that unilateral action by the U.S. will be all cost for no climate gain,” Sen. Inhofe said. “With China and India recently issuing statements of defiant opposition to mandatory emissions controls, acting alone through the job-killing Waxman-Markey bill would impose severe economic burdens on American consumers, businesses, and families, all without any impact on climate.” . . .

This is huge news. It made it to Fox News, but it does not even appear in the NYT or the Washington Post. Amazing.


Left Still Trying To Keep Facts Of Pelosi CIA Briefing From The Public

To their credit, Rep. Pete Hoeksta and Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee are still pushing to resolve Pelosi's claim that the CIA lied to her about enhanced interrogation techniques used on certain high level al Qaeda terrorists. But Committee Chairman Sylvester Reyes led Democrats to defeat a Hoeksta amendment to the 2010 Intelligence bill that would have "requir[ed] the CIA to make public an unclassified version of its records on Congressional briefings. It also would have required the CIA to disclose the information gleaned from those interrogations." Reyes defended his actions, stating:

"Our national security is about the most serious thing we deal with here on Capitol Hill. And it shouldn't be politicized."

What Reyes says is true, but it turns reality on its head. Pelosi, not the Republicans, politicized this issue when she claimed that the CIA lied to her. Yes, the Republicans are clearly going after Pelosi to score political points, but that's only the half of it. The end result will be an important vindication of the CIA - something which would reinforce the seriousness of our national security.


Just What Is In Their Job Description?

When we vote for someone to go to the U.S. Congress, we expect them to read bills before they vote on them. But the Democrats have apparently redlined that from the job description of our Representatives.

CNS is reporting that they asked the No. 2 Democrat in the House, Steny Hoyer, "whether he supported a pledge that asks members of the Congress to read the entire [health care] bill before voting on it and also make the full text of the bill available to the public for 72 hours before a vote." Apparently, he found that humorous:

"House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said Tuesday that the health-care reform bill now pending in Congress would garner very few votes if lawmakers actually had to read the entire bill before voting on it.

“If every member pledged to not vote for it if they hadn’t read it in its entirety, I think we would have very few votes,” Hoyer told at his regular weekly news conference.

. . . In fact, Hoyer found the idea of the pledge humorous, laughing as he responded to the question. “I’m laughing because a) I don’t know how long this bill is going to be, but it’s going to be a very long bill,” he said

Hoyer went on to state that staff's review bills, but the truth with this administration, as we've seen with cap and trade and the stimulus, is that bills are being pushed through with major midnight changes and not a single Congressman aware of what was in the entire bills prior to the vote. Reid and Pelosi rushing votes is a deliberate tactic designed to limit debate and prevent opposition from coalescing. It is a complete end around principles of democracy. I wish we had this one on YouTube.


Watcher's Council Nominations

Each week, the members of the Watcher's Council nominate one of their own posts and a second from outside the Council for consideration by other council members in a contest for best post. The Watcher publishes the results each Friday morning.

There is an opening at the Council if you would like to nominate your blog for the Council. If you go to the Watcher's site, you will find instructions on how to apply on the right-hand sidebar.

Terry Trippany plays the role of Watcher of Weasels. Do visit the Watcher's Site for his theme of the week. This week, Joshua Pundit is guest hosting, and has posted on Sarah Palin.

This week's nominations are:


The Provocateur - How Bonds Work (and How Current Policy Will Wreck Them and the Economy With It)

Right Truth - Pride Or Lack Thereof

Rhymes With Right - In Re: Palin

The Glittering Eye - Haeckel and the Development of Nations

Mere Rhetoric - Prominent Jewish Democrats Double Down On Obama.Unpersuasively.

Wolf Howling - The Pot Simmers

Soccer Dad - Extra! Extra! get Your Paper

Bookworm Room - The Declaration of Independence . . . and chickens?

Non-Council Submissions

Submitted By: Right Truth – Star Parker - When Color Trumps Christianity

Submitted By: The Provocateur – Ralph Peters - The Moscow Giveaway

Submitted By: Rhymes With Right – Reclusive Leftist - Feminists and the mystery of Sarah Palin

Submitted By: Joshuapundit – Diana West - Allies Don’t Declare Victory Over Each Other”

Submitted By: The Glittering Eye – Michael Totten - The Real Quagmire in the Middle East

Submitted By: Mere Rhetoric – Rick Richman / Commentary - The Coming U.S. Peace Plan

Submitted By: Wolf Howling – Seraphic Secrets - The Great Obama Moscow Give-away

Submitted By: Soccer Dad – Rubin Reports - The Middle East is a place where wishfulthinking gets people killed but makes careers for politicians, diplomats,academics, and journalists

Submitted By: Bookworm Room – Investor’s Business Daily - Canada’s Single-Prayer Health Care


Watcher's Council Results

Each week, the Watcher's Council holds a contest for best post. The Council members submit a post they have written and one post by someone outside the Council for consideration. The Watcher tallies the votes and announces the winners each Friday.

There is an opening on the Council. If you would care to submit your blog for consideration, please visit the Watcher's site. You will find instructions on the right side bar for applying to join the Council.

You can find the results of the weeks voting and the Watcher's cogent commentary on the submissions here. This week's winners were:

Coming in first place this week was The Razor's post, Settlement, a philosophical musing on the setteling of his mother in law's estate. Coming in tied for second place were Right Truth, with her post, LIFE, and The Glittering Eye's post, Affording Everything.

In the Non-Council Category, first place went to First place with 2 1/3 points! – Fausta’s Blog for her post, Responses to “Coup in Honduras – Correction: This is NOT a coup”. Coming in second was Christina Hoff Sommers exceptional essay, Persistent Myths in Feminist Scholarship. My submission from EU Referendum, Rigging The Debate, tied for third place.


The Pope Goes Marxist - Let's Hope He Is Not Speaking Ex-Cathedra

It turns out Pope Benedict XVI has a bit of Karl Marx in him. The Pope has issued a 144 page encyclical letter (not ex cathedra), Caritas In Veritate (Charity in Truth), arguing for what amounts to a new socialist world order with business centrally controlled and run for the social good rather than profit.

It is more than a bit ironic, since the father of socialism, Karl Marx, provided the historical framework for the war on Christianity that the left is carrying on so successfully today. But in a way, it is not surprising that both should advocate socialism, as socialism is ultimately a Utopian ideal, As Churchill sagely noted some years ago, there are only two places where socialism would work - "in heaven, where it is not needed, and in hell, where it is already in practice."

"Ex Cathedra," by the way, refers to the relatively recent doctrine of papal infallibility. The doctrine holds that the Pope speaks with divine inspiration - and thus his pronouncements are infallible - when he speaks on moral issues and invokes the doctrine of infallibility by explicitly stating that his teaching is a core belief to be adopted by the entire Church.

This from the Washington Post on the Pope's encyclical letter:

Pope Benedict XVI criticized the international economic system yesterday and called for a new global structure based on social responsibility, concern for the dignity of the worker and a respect for ethics.

"Today's international economic scene, marked by grave deviations and failures, requires a profoundly new way of understanding human enterprise," Benedict wrote in his latest encyclical, which is the most authoritative document a pope can issue. "Without doubt, one of the greatest risks for business is that they are almost exclusively answerable to their investors, thereby limited in their social value."

In the sweeping 144-page document, Benedict sketches a radically different world economy, in which access to food and water is a universal right, wealthy nations share with poorer ones and profit is not the ultimate goal of commerce. He advocates the creation of a "world political authority" to manage the economy.

He blames "badly managed and largely speculative financial dealing" for causing the economic meltdown. The primary capital to be safeguarded is people, he says, adding that economic systems need to be guided by charity and truth. . . .

Unfortunately, the Pope has things backwards. He apparently skipped Econ 101 to concentrate on religious training. Capitalism has been the greatest engine of human advancement and the war on poverty that the world has ever known. The breakdown in the markets that we are experiencing can be traced in a direct line to government intervention for the purpose of social engineering - precisely what the Pope is advocating. If the Pope wants to ensure social progress, he is going about it in completely the wrong way. As Anatole Kaletsky wrote in the Times in 2003:

Even if there were room for argument about the benefits of free trade and free markets to workers in advanced industrial countries — and there really cannot be, if we compare what has happened to ordinary people’s lives in Western and Eastern Europe, not to mention in North and South Korea, during the 50 years since the Second World War — the principle that global capitalism is the most benign and successful of all human creations would be firmly established by the social progress in China since its integration into the global economy.

A few days ago, Charles Krauthammer noted that when our President finds himself on the side of Castro and Chavez, its time for him to reevaluate his position. A similar thing can be said of our Pope. When he finds himself advocating the policies of Marx and Lenin, that ought to be a clue that it is time to reevaluate his position. Business are and always will be soulless institutions. It is the individuals who profit from and are employed by the business - those with souls - upon whom the Pope should be concentrating. And history tells us that, as a general rule, their condition will be better and their charitable giving will grow the more the business profits.