Monday, January 31, 2011

Obamacare Declared Unconstitutional In Its Entirety

Heh. (H/T Nice Deb)

The much anticipated decision in State of Florida (plus 25 other states' attorneys general) versus U.S. Dept. of Health & Human Services, challenging the constitutionality of Obamacare, has been released. Legal Insurrection has posted the entire 78 page decision.

In an Opinion lauded by law Prof. Ilya Solmin as "thorough and impressive" and by the WSJ as "by far the best legal vindication to date of Constitutional principles that form the outer boundaries of federal power," Judge Roger Vinson held that Obamacare's requirement that all Americans purchase health insurance (the "individual mandate") is unconstitutional and, therefore, that the entire 2,000+ page Obamacare bill is unconstitutional. Thus, as it stands today, the government cannot enforce any provisions of the act. It's a very good day for America.

Most of the decision was spent discussing the outer limits of Congress's power under the Commerce Clause:

Congress shall have Power . . . To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes

(Const. Art. I Sec. 8)

The Judge reasoned that, if the government were to have the power to regulate inactivity - i.e., the decision not to purchase health insurance - then its power under the Commerce Clause, already massively expanded by a series of decisions beginning in the New Deal era, would be limitless. In deciding that this was beyond any possible interpretation of what our Founder's intended, the Judge opined with the most insightful statement I have heard on the issue to date:

It is difficult to imagine a nation that began, at least in part, as the result of opposition to a British mandate giving the East India Company a monopoly and imposing a nominal tax on all tea sold in America would have set out to create a government with the power to force people to buy tea in the first place.

I will bet a dollar to a dime that the above quote ends up in Scalia's soon to be written (hopefully concurring) opinion on this case. Ultimately, the Court held:

To now hold that Congress may regulate the so-called "economic decision" to not purchase a product or service in anticipation of future consumption is a "bridge too far." It is without logical limitation and far exceeds the existing legal boundaries established by Supreme Court precedent.

The Court incorporated its previous decision dispensing with the HHS's argument that Obamacare's individual mandate could be justified on the grounds that it was actually a tax. You will recall that Obama repeatedly maintained that the individual mandate was not a tax prior to the vote on the bill. The HHS has now tried to raise the "it's really a tax" argument in four seperate cases. Judge Vinson's refusal to credit this argument marked the fourth case in which it has been denied.

Judge Vinson then went on to dispense with the defendant's other argument, that somehow the Necessary & Proper clause provided a Constitutional basis for upholding Obamacare's individual mandate. The Necessary & Proper clause provides:

Congress shall have Power . . . To make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers, and all other Powers vested by this Constitution in the Government of the United States, or in any Department or Officer thereof.

(Const. Art. I Sec. 8)

As the Court pointed out, the Necessary & Proper Clause merely authorizes Congress to pass laws in furtherance of its enumerated powers. It was never intended to act independently to give Congress additional powers beyond those enumerated in the Constitution.

Having determined the individual mandate unconstitutional, the judge then turned to the issue of whether the rest of the 2000+ Obamacare bill must also be deemed unconstitutional. This turned on the legal doctrine of "severability." It is customary to include a "severability" clause in bills and contracts. Such a clause provides that, should any individual clause in the bill or contract be deemed void, unenforcable or unconstitutional, all of the remaining clauses shall still be deemed enforcable.

In the case before the Court, the defendants made a significant tactical error in stipulating that the individual mandate was of such importance that it could not be severed from the 2,000+ page Obamacare bill without the entire construct failing. And lest there be any doubt on that issue, the Court pointed out that Congress saw fit to remove a severability clause from the bill before passing it. After going the additional step of independently assessing that, yes, in fact, without the individual mandate, the rest of the bill would fail, the Court declared the entire Obamacare bill unconstitutional.

(Update: Apparently, Congress's failure to include a severability provision in the Obamacare bill was merely an "oversight." Heh.)

This was by far the most well reasoned decision of the four decisions decided on this issue to date. There are still two to three cases pending at the district court level on the constitutionality of Obamacare. Expect this case and its sister cases to be heard at the Appellate Court level in the next year, then on to the Supreme Court, where the decision will likely turn on which side of the bed Justice Kennedy happens to wake up. In any event, this is a very important decision, both for its reasoning and the breadth of the Court's decision.

Update: Let the wailing and gnashing of leftist teeth commence. By far the most ridiculous of the left wing lamentations thus far comes from Brian Buetler at TPM, who charges that the Court has engaged in "extreme [judicial] activism."

There is a yawning chasm that sets apart "judicial activism" from the proper role of a court - to determine original intent and, in light of that and precedent, give an intellectually honest appraisal of the law. When you hear a leftie embrace the "living constitution" theory, what they are championing is real "judicial activism," not originalism and adherence to precedent. So when the left starts hurling around charges of "judicial activism," you can rest absolutely assured that they are engaging in a bit of Orwellian "tendentious redefinition." And lo and behold, that is precisely what Buetler does in this case.

Buetler claims the courts decision here is "judicial activism" because . . . ipse dixit, it is because he says it is. Buetler doesn't explain how the judge strayed from the original intent of the drafters (which he didn't), nor where the judge's decision violated precedent (it didn't). Instead, Buetler is upset that the judge concurred with both Congress and the HHS that the individual mandate is not severable. To quote fron another individual with at least the same degree of legal scholarship as Mr. Buetler, though far more intellectual honesty, "what a maroon."

Others blogging this issue:

WSJ - The Constitutional Moment: Judge Vinson Introduces Obamacare To Madison & Marshall
Jennifer Rubin/WaPo - Left Unprepared For Obamacare Ruling
The Volokh Conspiracy - Today’s Florida District Court Ruling Striking Down the Obamacare Individual Mandate
Maggies Farm - 26 States Belly Up To The Bar: ObamaCare Unconstitutional
Doug Ross - Federal Judge To Nancy Pelosi, "Yeah Lady, We're Quite Serious"
Legal Insurrection - Florida Judge Rules Against Obamacare, Injunction Denied As Unnecessary Since Entire Law Unconstitutional
Cato - Florida Ruling Requires Government to Stop Implementing Obamacare
Powerline - Florida Judge Rules Obamacare Unconstitutional
Neo-Neocon - (with a Pelosi cameo) Obamacare ruled unconstitutional–for now
Pirate's Cove - Snap! Being Forced To Purchase Health Insurance Like Buying A TV
Right Pundits - Obamacare Unconstitutional; Individual Mandate Nullifies Entire Bill
Bookworm Room - A Blow To Obamacare
No Sheeples Here - Obamacare Dead In Its Tracks
The BlogProf - Victory
Nice Deb - Just A Reminder


Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood Calling For War With Israel?

The cable news division of Fox News reported on air yesterday that a senior member of the Egyptian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood, during an interview today with Iranian News, stated that Egypt needs to turn off gas supplies to Israel and to prepare for war against Israel.

More from the Jerusalem Post today:

A leading member of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt told the Arabic-language Iranian news network Al-Alam on Monday that he would like to see the Egyptian people prepare for war against Israel, according to the Hebrew-language business newspaper Calcalist.

Muhammad Ghannem reportedly told Al- Alam that the Suez Canal should be closed immediately, and that the flow of gas from Egypt to Israel should cease “in order to bring about the downfall of the Mubarak regime.” He added that “the people should be prepared for war against Israel,” saying the world should understand that “the Egyptian people are prepared for anything to get rid of this regime.”

Ghannem praised Egyptian soldiers deployed by President Hosni Mubarak to Egyptian cities, saying they “would not kill their brothers.” He added that Washington was forced to abandon plans to help Mubarak stay in power after “seeing millions head for the streets.”

Yet here is what being fed to America by our MSM and El Baradei:

Sounds like a myth, doesn't it.


They're (not) Melting!!!! They're (not) Melting!!!!

Melting glaciers in the Himalayas could lead to water shortages for hundreds of millions of people,

BBC, Himalayan glaciers 'melting fast,' 14 March 2005

Glaciers high in the Himalayas are dwindling faster than anyone thought, putting nearly a billion people living in South Asia in peril of losing their water supply.

MSNBC, Himalaya glaciers melting much faster, 24 Nov. 2008

The UN's climate science body has admitted that a claim made in its 2007 report - that Himalayan glaciers could melt away by 2035 - was unfounded

The Guardian, IPCC officials admit mistake over melting Himalayan glaciers, 20 Jan. 2010

And now today, from the Telegraph:

Himalayan glaciers are actually advancing rather than retreating, claims the first major study since a controversial UN report said they would be melted within quarter of a century.

Researchers have discovered that contrary to popular belief half of the ice flows in the Karakoram range of the mountains are actually growing rather than shrinking. . . .

The new study by scientists at the Universities of California and Potsdam has found that half of the glaciers in the Karakoram range, in the northwestern Himlaya, are in fact advancing and that global warming is not the deciding factor in whether a glacier survives or melts. . . .

"Our study shows that there is no uniform response of Himalayan glaciers to climate change and highlights the importance of debris cover for understanding glacier retreat, an effect that has so far been neglected in predictions of future water availability or global sea level," the authors concluded.

Dr Bookhagen said their report had shown "there is no stereotypical Himalayan glacier" in contrast to the UN's climate change report which, he said, "lumps all Himalayan glaciers together." . . .

Piece by piece, the theory of man-made global warming and the claims of calamity and catastrophic effects as a result thereof are being proven an utter canard. Unfortunately, it will take far longer to stop the greens' destruction of our energy sector and, with it, their threat to our economy as they try to save us from global warming.


Sunday, January 30, 2011

Creationism, AGW & The Anti-Science Party

According to Steve Benen at Washington Monthly, the Republican Party is the "anti-science party." His damning evidence:

THE ANTI-SCIENCE PARTY.... This segment . . . helps reinforce much of what's wrong with the state of critical thinking in the Republican Party.

"Real Time" host Bill Maher asked Rep. Jack Kingston (R-Ga.) a fairly straightforward question: "Do you believe in evolution?" Kingston not only rejected the foundation of modern biology, he explained it this way: "I believe I came from God, not from a monkey." He added, "If it happened over millions and millions of years, there should be lots of fossil evidence."

Seriously, that's what he said. . . .

Let's pause to appreciate the fact that it's the 21st century -- and Jack Kingston is a 10-term congressman who helps oversee federal funding on the Food and Drug Administration. . . .

In the larger context, there's a renewed push underway for the United States to value and appreciate science in the 21st century -- our future depends on it. And while this push is underway, Republican leaders are more comfortable walking a bridge to the 18th century.

What an embarrassment.

As a threshold matter, the deeply disingenuous Benen extrapolates that since there is one Republican congressman who believes in creationism, then all Republicans are anti-science. Talk about your non-sequiturs. That would be like me extrapolating that since Benen is such an intellectually dishonest donkey's ass, that all on the far left are likewise intellectually dishonest donkeys' asses. While I happen to believe that they are, it does not follow from the single example of Benen.

And while I happen to disagree with creationism or reading the bible too literally, so what. Belief in creationism versus the big bang theory and/or evolution - the latter both embraced by Catholicism and many Christians - has no practical effect on 99.99% of modern science. Embracing either position does not establish whether a person - or an entire group of people - is "anti-science" except in the far left fantasy of Benen.

One clear litmus test to divide the science embracers from the "anti-science" folk is whether a person embraces the "scientific method." The lynchpin of the scientific method is that the scientist postulating results must "document, archive and share all data and methodology so they are available for careful scrutiny by other scientists, giving them the opportunity to verify results by attempting to reproduce them."

All of that said, one place where the science/anti-science divide is of absolutely critical importantance is in regards to the theory of anthropogenic global warming (AGW). The entire theory of anthropogenic global warming (AGW) is built on mountains of "results" that have never been verified because, in the AGW world, it is not the custom to share the information necessary to verify the results.

Left wing researchers and institutions have made an art form out of excusing their refusal to provide such information and their justifications for refusing to respond to FOIA requests (See here, here, here, here, here). They do not practice the scientific method. Instead of allowing for replicability, they demand that we accept "peer review" as the gold standard for the reliabiilty of their results. But peer review itself, which does not involve replication, is anything but a standard of reliability. That is doubly true in the AGW world, where the Climategate e-mails provided clear evidence of bias and deliberate tampering with the "peer review" process by a small clique at the top of the AGW pecking order In short, AGW proponents, including Obama's EPA, are demanding that we accept their unverified theory on faith. That is the very definition of "anti-science."

One of the most shining examples of this comes out of NASA and the GISS. James Hansen, who oversees our temperature records, has spent years making unexplained adjustments to our historical temperature records, yet he has never made public the raw numbers, nor his calculations or justifications for making changes. And there are significant issues with even the most basic question of how NASA is measuring our temperatures to begin with. Moreover, Hansen's changes have been anything but uniform, with older temperatures being adjusted downward and more recent temperatures upward. So when Hansen announces that 2010 is the hottest year on record, he is not just asking us to take his assertion on faith, he is making a joke.

Now, interestingly enough, Benen is himself a true believer in AGW, as evinced by this supremely snarky article of two years ago, wherein he takes Palin to task for daring to question AGW theory:

I can appreciate Palin being embarrassed about her beliefs now; she's obviously well outside the scientific mainstream. . . .

But Palin's record is Palin's record, and the fact remains that she's so far out there, she's rejected the connection between global warming and human activity. Indeed, she's done so more than once. This not only tells us something important about Palin's understanding of public policy, it also tells us a great deal about how she perceives and considers evidence that runs counter to her ideology

So, Mr. Benen, since you are asking us to take the theory of global warming on faith when all we ask for is honest, replicable science, tell me again, who is it here that is anti-science? "What an embarrassment" indeed.


Saturday, January 29, 2011

Violent Left Wing Fantasies and Francis Fox Piven

At the WSJ, James Taranto dissects the left's violent fantasies and their refusal to acknowledge or discuss actual left-wing violence or calls for violence.

America's liberal left is preoccupied with salacious fantasies of political violence. These take two forms: dreams of leftist insurrection, and nightmares of reactionary bloodshed. The "mainstream" media ignore or suppress the former type of fantasy and treat the latter as if it reflected reality. This produces a distorted narrative that further feeds the left's fantasies and disserves those who expect the media to provide truthful information.

What prompted Taranto to pen this insightful observation was the left's attacks on Glenn Beck for quoting, accurately, an old school marxist, Prof. Francis Fox Piven, who called for riots in America resembling those in Greece. Beck and others have pointed out that the riots in Greece were violent and involved the murder of several innocent people - as was well publicized prior to Piven penning her ode to Greek-style direct action. Yet now the left is pulling out the stops to present Piven as non-violent - while at the same time painting the right, and in particular the Tea Party, as the font of violence in America. The left wing media is using two means to promote its canard:

. . . The first is by seeking out the most extreme expressions by Tea Party activists and sympathetic politicians and portraying them as if they were typical. This is in sharp contrast to the way left-wing political rallies are covered. Extreme and violent rhetoric is at least as easy to find there if you look--Michael Bowers has put together a photo gallery of "Left-Wing Hatred"--but the mainstreamers seldom look. During the Bush years, "antiwar" rallies were routinely depicted as nothing more than forums for wholesome, patriotic dissent.

The second is by presenting innocuous rhetoric from the right as if it were something sinister or dangerous. The most famous example--cited by Hertzberg, naturally--is the SarahPAC map of targeted districts, including Giffords's, which many on the left hoped had incited the man who shot her. Palinoiacs denounced the map as "violent" when it first came out last March, notwithstanding that the visual metaphor of a target is about as common in political campaigns of both parties as cartoons on the pages of Hertzberg's magazine. . . .

The only thing the left hates more than the right is being called to account for their hypocritical actions.


Instapundit & Fred Thompson - Two Different Takes On Pelosi's Carbon Footprint

Responses to recent FOIA requests have shown that, in the period of January through October, 2010, former Speaker of the House, Crazy Nancy Pelosi, took 43 flights on military aircraft covering 90,155 miles.

Instapundit's response to this was righteous outrage:


Fred Thompson's take was a bit more reserved and philosophical:

(H/T Bluegrass Pundit)


Bolton On Egypt

(H/T Ex-Dissident)


Friday, January 28, 2011

Egypt's El Baradie Not An Option

With Egypt in flames and the rioters calling for the head of their dictator, Hosni Mubarak, the question becomes who will replace him should he fall. We all know that the Muslim Brotherhood would be a disaster for both Egypt, Israel and the West. But what about Mohammed El-Baradei, the former head of the IAEA who has entered Egyptian politics as an opponent of Mubarak. While El-Baradei seems to be on friendly terms with Obama, the truth is that he is an Islamist tied directly to the Brotherhood and Iran and, further, that he possesses a distinct animus towards Israel.

To understand El-Baradie's danger to a secular, democratic Egypt, a little background on Egyptian politics and the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood is necessary for context.

Egyptian Politics:

Egypt has been ruled by a series of dictators since gaining independence from Britain in 1956. The current dictator, Hosni Mubarak, took over following the assassination of Anwar Sadat by militant Islamists in 1981.

Egypt is ruled by a Constitution that technically allows opposition political parties. There are today, at least 18 political parties in Egypt. Most are of recent origin and with little popular following as opposition has been little tolerated during the decades of Mubarak's rule. The Constitution, as amended in 2007, strictly prohibits religiously based political parties - thus nominally putting a wall between mosque and state. That amendment was aimed directly at the ever more influential Muslim Brotherhood.

Egypt has been ruled under a decree of martial law since 1967 that suspends portions of the Constitution. Martial law gives military courts the power to try civilians and allows the government to detain for renewable 45-day periods and without court orders anyone deemed to be threatening state security. Public demonstrations are banned under the decree.

The Muslim Brotherhood

The largest opposition group in Egypt is the Muslim Brotherhood. Founded by Hassan al-Banna in Egypt in 1928, its motto is:

Allah is our objective.
The Prophet is our leader.
The Qur'an is our law.
Jihad is our way.
Dying in the way of Allah is our highest hope.

For a detailed discussion of the Muslim Brotherhood, see here. The Muslim Brotherhood is a radical organization that differs from al Qaeda - one of its offshoots - only in tactics. Its ideology is and has always been virulently anti-Western and, more particularly, anti-American. Virtually all Islamic terrorist organizations can trace their origins directly to - or within one or two degrees of separation to - the Brotherhood. The Brotherhood was itself a terrorist organization for much of its existence, but then opted to forgo violence as a tactic. Its goals, to achieve political dominance and create Islamic states ruled by Sharia law, have never changed.

To gain traction amongst the populace of Egypt, the Brotherhood has followed the tactics of Hamas, developing an extensive social services network at the local level. It has made the Brotherhood extremely popular.

This from Wiki showing the reach of the Egyptian Branch of the Muslim Brotherhood:

. . . The Brotherhood now dominates the professional and student associations of Egypt and is famous for its network of social services in neighborhoods and villages. In order to quell the Brotherhood's renewed influence, the government again resorted to repressive measures starting in 1992. . . .

In the 2005 parliamentary elections, the Brotherhood's candidates, who can only stand as independents, won 88 seats (20% of the total) to form the largest opposition bloc, despite many violations of the electoral process, including the arrest of hundreds of Brotherhood members. Meanwhile, the legally approved opposition parties won only 14 seats. . . .

A 2009 WSJ article here throws further light on what Egypt could expect were the Brotherhood to take control:

The Brotherhood has long insisted it holds no prejudice against Christians. Yet an Islamic state -- based on faith, not citizenship rights -- remains the group's core belief. . . .

Later in 2007, the Brotherhood attempted to clarify its vision by distributing a draft program for a political party it aims to establish. The document stated that a woman or a Christian cannot become Egypt's president, and called for the creation of a special council of Islamic clerics to vet legislation. . . .

The latest controversy surrounding the Brotherhood stemmed from its behavior during Israel's Gaza war, a campaign initially seen as a boon to the Islamist movement. Harnessing widespread popular feelings of sympathy with the Palestinian cause, the Brotherhood organized two massive street demonstrations in Alexandria and Cairo during the war, attacking President Mubarak's regime for failing to help Gaza's Hamas rulers.

But these protests soon fizzled. Calls by some Brotherhood leaders to send fighters to Gaza alienated many Egyptians who have no desire to see their own country, at peace with Israel since 1979, embroiled in war once again. . . .

So in short, should the Muslim Brotherhood attain power in Egypt, one could reasonably expect that they would try to create something akin to Iran's theocracy and that they would take an aggressive, military posture against Israel. It would be a disaster.

Mohammed El-Baradei

El-Baradei came to international prominence when he was elected head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in 1997. The mission of the IAEA is, in part, to "verify that safeguarded nuclear material and activities are not used for military purposes." Laughably, El-Baradei won a Nobel Peace Prize in 2005 for his efforts. But the reality of his tenure was insidious. He abused his position to provide cover for Iran while denouncing the logic of non-proliferation. This Feb. 2008 article in the WSJ provides a good summary:

On Friday, International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director General Mohamed ElBaradei submitted a report on Iran's nuclear program to the IAEA's Board of Governors. It concluded that, barring "one major remaining issue relevant to the nature of Iran's nuclear programme," . . . Iran's explanations of its suspicious nuclear activities "are consistent with [the IAEA's] findings [or at least] not inconsistent."

The report represents Mr. ElBaradei's best effort to whitewash Tehran's record. Earlier this month, on Iranian television, he made clear his purpose, announcing that he expected "the issue would be solved this year." And if doing so required that he do battle against the IAEA's technical experts, reverse previous conclusions about suspect programs, and allow designees of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad an unprecedented role in crafting a "work plan" that would allow the regime to receive a cleaner bill of health from the IAEA — so be it.

. . . [El Baradei] has used his Nobel Prize to cultivate an image of a technocratic lawyer interested in peace and justice and above politics. In reality, he is a deeply political figure, animated by antipathy for the West and for Israel on what has increasingly become a single-minded crusade to rescue favored regimes from charges of proliferation. . . .

The IAEA's mission is to verify that "States comply with their commitments, under the Non-Proliferation Treaty and other non-proliferation agreements, to use nuclear material and facilities only for peaceful purposes." Yet in 2004 Mr. ElBaradei wrote in the New York Times that, "We must abandon the unworkable notion that it is morally reprehensible for some countries to pursue weapons of mass destruction, yet morally acceptable for others to rely on them for security."

IAEA technical experts have complained anonymously to the press that the latest report on Iran was revamped to suit the director's political goals. In 2004, Mr. ElBaradei sought to purge mention of Iranian attempts to purchase beryllium metal, an important component in a nuclear charge, from IAEA documents. He also left unmentioned Tehran's refusal to grant IAEA inspectors access to the Parchin military complex, where satellite imagery showed a facility seemingly designed to test and produce nuclear weapons.

The IAEA's latest report leaves unmentioned allegations by an Iranian opposition group of North Korean work on nuclear warheads at Khojir, a military research site near Tehran. It also amends previous conclusions and closes the book on questions about Iran's work on polonium 210 — which nuclear experts suspect Iran experimented with for use as an initiator for nuclear weapons, but which the regime claims was research on radioisotope batteries. In 2004, the IAEA declared itself "somewhat uncertain regarding the plausibility of the stated purpose of the [polonium] experiments." Today it finds these explanations "consistent with the Agency's findings and with other information available."

The IAEA director seems intent on undercutting Security Council diplomacy. Just weeks after President George Bush toured the Middle East to build Arab support for pressure on Tehran, Mr. ElBaradei appeared on Egyptian television on Feb. 5 to urge Arabs in the opposite direction, insisting Iran was cooperating and should not be pressured. And as he grows more and more isolated from Western powers intent on disarming Iran, Mr. ElBaradei has found champions in the developing and Arab world. They cheer his self-imposed mission — to hamstring U.S. efforts to constrain Iran's program, whether or not the regime is violating its non-proliferation obligations or pursuing nuclear weapons. . . .

El-Baradei's deep favoritism shown to Iran has paid off for him - literally. After he left the IAEA to enter politics, MEMRI reports that Iran funnelled $7 million to him in order to bankroll his political opposition to Mubarak. Evidently the ties between El-Baradei and Iran run deep.

But it is not just Iran with whom El-Baradei has very troubling ties. He is also in partnership with the Muslim Brotherhood. On Feb. 26, 2010, after a meeting with the Muslim Brotherhood among others, El-Baradei announced the formation of a new political movement, the National Association for Change. Chief among its stated concerns was repeal of the law preventing the Muslim Brotherhood from nominating religiously based candidates for office. El-Baradei repeated that call in a Der Spiegel interview days ago, while wholly sidestepping the question of what a Muslim Brotherhood rise to power in Egypt would mean for Israel:

SPIEGEL: Israel fears a revolution in Egypt. Many people in Jerusalem believe that the Muslim Brotherhood would then come to power and declare war on the Jewish state.

ElBaradei: We should stop demonizing the Muslim Brotherhood. It is incorrect that our only choice is between oppression under Mubarak and the chaos of religious extremists. I have many differences with the Muslim Brotherhood. But they have not committed any acts of violence in five decades. They too want change. If we want democracy and freedom, we have to include them instead of marginalizing them.

El-Baradei, in 2009, stated that he viewed "Israel as the greatest threat to the Middle East." Caroline Glick, for her part, views the above and sees in El-Baradei an Islamist in sheep's clothing and a clear threat to Israel. That too is my conclusion. If as seems possible, Obama should soon have a decision to make regarding whether to support El-Baradei for a position in a post-Mubarak government, he should know that doing so would run completely counter to our nation's interests.


Egypt Update I

This is an update to my post on Egypt and Obama's response to the nascent revolution occurring there, A 3 A.M. Phone Call From Egypt.

Egypt's dictator Honsi Mubarak appeared on Egyptian television a few moments ago, declaring that he was replacing his cabinet, promising to improve the economy, and that he would restore security. Walid Phares commented afterwards on Fox that he doubted it would be enough to quell the uprising. I concur. Listening to the list of particulars being expressed by the rioters, their passion and numbers, and noting the utter economic basket case that is Egypt, it is safe to forecast that this will have no impact on the rioting.

Moreover, the seminal issue in any modern grass-roots revolution is what will the security forces and the military do. There is a report coming out of Egypt of at least some police changing sides, but it does not yet appear widespread.

According to the Telegraph:

The American Embassy in Cairo helped a young dissident attend a US-sponsored summit for activists in New York, while working to keep his identity secret from Egyptian state police.

On his return to Cairo in December 2008, the activist told US diplomats that an alliance of opposition groups had drawn up a plan to overthrow President Hosni Mubarak and install a democratic government in 2011. . . .

Fair enough, but "secret" promotion of democracy is not enough. As I pointed out below, Obama backed off promoting democracy throughout the Middle East when he took over the presidency. It was a mistake then, and Obama's silent impotence is a mistake now. He needs to get in front of the unrest in Egypt - and more particularly the Muslim Brotherhood - and act with more boldness if he is to have any impact on the situation. Instead, the only thing of note to come from the administration is an announcement that it would review the U.S. aid package for Egypt. Talk about fiddling while Rome burns. The President is supposed to issue a statement shortly. We will see if he is going to be impotent or important to the resolution of this Egyptian uprising.

And here is Obama now. First concern is loss of life - don't use force against the protesters. Mubarak must reopen means of communication and internet. Protesters have a right to assemble but need to be peaceful. Now Obama is claiming that he has always been strongly for Democratic reforms in Egypt. I guess that is why he dismantled Bush's programs for promoting democracy there. Obama is now offering to "work with" the government and the protesters over the next several days. The sum of his statement is that Obama is staying the course with Mubarak. This is a mistake, and it means that Obama is impotent.


Krauthammer On Obama's 2011 SOTU Speech

"From the moon landing to solar shingles. Is there a better example of American decline?"

Dr. Krauthammer dissects Obama's SOTU speech, observing that it shows a President who refuses to modify his profligate spending or statist policies, the election of November 2010 be damned.


A 3 A.M. Phone Call From Egypt

The Middle East is on fire. The Tunisian dictatorship fell to revolution days ago, and that has rippled throughout the Middle East, with the most immediate concern being the ripples in Egypt. There, Honsi Mubarak's regime is facing riots of sufficient seriousness that his family has fled the nation.

Egypt has been ruled as a dictatorship by Mubarak since the Muslim Brotherhood assassinated Anwar al-Sadat in 1981. And like all nations ruled by a dictatorship, Egypt has suffered. According to the CIA World Factbook, per capita GDP is just over $6,000, 20% of the nation lives below the poverty line, inflation is in double digits, and corruption pervades the nation. This from the Washington Post:

[F]or many [of the people rioting], it came down to this: a pervasive sense that the world has passed Egypt by, that money and power have become hopelessly entrenched in the hands of the few and that if the country is ever going to change, it has to do it now.

"There's a suffocating atmosphere in Egypt, and I'm tired of it," said Dandarwi, a lawyer dressed impeccably in a dark blue pinstriped suit, who quietly sipped coffee Thursday afternoon as he waited for the next protest to begin. "The elections are fraudulent. The people in power monopolize all the resources. There are no jobs. There's no health care. And I can't afford good schools for my children."

Like in Tunisia, the riots in Egypt are a grass roots phenomena and are motivated by bread and butter issues - jobs, inflation, corruption, and democracy. - not religion. The rioters are leaderless, though the April 6 Youth Movement, a facebook organization, appears to have been an important element in initiating the riots, as may have been coverage of the Tunisian riots by Al Jazeera.

The Bush Administration pushed for democratic reforms in Egypt, with the most famous call being made by Sec. of State Rice in her 2005 speech in Cairo. Bush significantly expanded programs to promote democracy in Egypt. But Obama, in his 2009 Cairo speech, completely backed off the effort to promote democracy in the Middle East, stating that he "would not presume to know what is best" for each nation. Further, while Obama continued financial support for the Mubarak regime, he "dramatically cut funds to promote democracy in Egypt."

Between the dictatorial bent of Mubarak and Obama's determination not to promote democratic reforms, the Muslim Brotherhood has emerged as the most organized and largest opposition group in Egypt. The Brotherhood is the progenitor of virtually all radical Islamic terrorist groups, including al Qaeda. And the Brotherhood now sees a golden opportunity to co-op these riots and attempt to ride them to power. They will officially join the riots tomorrow, according to the NYT. If the Brotherhood succeeds, it will create a second Iran, Egyptians would have traded a dictatorship for an even more repressive theocracy, and the Western world will have to face a second enemy dedicated to its overthrow.

This nascent revolution in Egypt has caught Obama completely flat-footed. On Tuesday, with the riots on-going, Sec. of State Clinton stated that "Egypt's government is stable." By Thursday, it was clear that Clinton was clueless and that has left Obama struggling to find a policy:

Obama and his aides are performing a delicate balancing act as political upheaval rocks the Middle East, from Egypt to Tunisia to Lebanon to Yemen, catching his administration off-guard and showing the limits of U.S. influence.

While making a point of describing Mubarak as "very helpful on a range of tough issues," Obama sent him a blunt message to heed the demands of anti-government protesters for broader democratic rights after decades of authoritarian rule. . . .

The State Department expressed concern over reports that access to Internet and social networking websites was being blocked in Egypt.

"We are concerned that communication services, including the Internet, social media and even this #tweet, are being blocked in #Egypt," State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley tweeted late on Thursday.

Facebook and Twitter have been key means of communication for protesters in Egypt. Twitter said on Wednesday the government had been blocking its service for the second consecutive day and had "greatly diminished traffic."

Obama urged the government and protesters to show restraint, saying violence was not the answer. "It is very important that people have mechanisms in order to express legitimate grievances," he said, citing freedom of expression and access to social networking websites.

. . . the Obama administration is now pursuing a "dual-track" approach, with U.S. diplomats reaching out to government officials and democracy activists to encourage peaceful dialogue for reform, a senior U.S. official said. . . .

Most U.S.-based analysts believe Mubarak is likely to weather the storm, if for no other reason than his government and military seem prepared to use whatever force is needed.

But if Mubarak does lose his 30-year grip on power, the greatest U.S. fear would be the rise of a government with strong Islamist ties and the risk of Egypt aligning itself with Iran, a bitter foe of the United States and its ally Israel.

This is widely seen as something the powerful Egyptian military would never permit. Washington has poured billions of dollars of military and other aid into Egypt since it became the first of only two Arab states to make peace with Israel.

Unfortunately for Obama, the protesters are in no mood for half measures. They want real change, not hope and change. This from Reuters today:

Web activists called for mass protests across Egypt on Friday to end President Hosni Mubarak's three-decade rule after protesters clashed with security forces late into the night in the eastern city of Suez. . . .

All that it will take to turn the riots into a revolution is for some in the military to decide to switch sides as a critical moment. But as a leaderless revolution, it would create a vacuum that the Brotherhood would be quick to exploit unless something is done to head off such an outcome.

Unfortunately, Obama seems confused and out of his depth. His message of support for Mubarak and a message to the rioters that "violence isn't the answer" must seem craven and unrealistic advice indeed to people who have suffered under an iron-fisted dictatorship for decades. If the riots fail displace Mubarak, it won't be because of Obama's intercession on behalf of non-violence.

This is a critical challenge for the Obama administration. The moral highground here is clearly with the rioters. If Obama continues to side with Mubarak while mouthing meaningless suggestions that Mubarak institute democratic changes, whatever good will we have in Egypt may be squandered. That said, if he outright abandons Mubarak, he would be repeating the fatal mistakes of Jimmy Carter vis-a-vis Iran. Carter refused to back the Shah at a critical point in the 1979 revolution, thus opening up the country for takeover by Ayatollah Khomeini and the imposition of his repressive theocracy. Obama must also consider that Mubarak, given his age, ill health and tenuous hold on power, will not long retain power in Egypt in any event.

What Obama could do is act decisively. Obama should very publicly demand that Mubarak take specific steps to institute real democracy - freedom of speech, fair elections, a war on corruption - over a specific time frame or that he step down and turn over the government to a caretaker who will see to the reforms. At the same time, Obama should be using our contacts with Egypt's military to assist them in stepping in to take control of the country and institute a caretaker government should it become necessary. At all costs, Obama should be focused on buying the time and space to allow a secular opposition movement to coalesce in Egypt that can act as a counter-weight to the Brotherhood.

So now its 3:01 A.M. What will Obama do?

- Egypt's El Baradei Not An Option

- Egypt Update I


Thursday, January 27, 2011

Obama's 2011 SOTU Theme - WTF

Heh. The theme of Obama's State of the Union speech, repeated at several points, was "Winning The Future." But, as American Glob points out, team Obama probably didn't thoroughly consider the optics of this theme.

And as Instapundit wryly adds, there were several WTF moments during Obama's speech.


State Of The Union 2011


James Madison On Originalism & Judicial Activism

Doug Ross has a very good post today highlighting the differences between originalism - the proper role of judges - and those who embrace the "living constitution" theory. I've also posted on this topic in The Supreme Court: Originalism, Activism & America's Future:

There are two broad schools of Constitutional interpretation today – originalism and the "living constitution" theory. The latter is pure judicial activism dressed in a bare patina of Constitutional justification. . . .

Originalists attempt to interpret the Constitution by determining what the people who drafted it and voted for it understood it to mean at the time. An intellectually honest originalist does not announce new policy, he or she interprets history and precedent. That is a bit oversimplified - originalism is certainly not always that clean and can become muddled as precedent builds (and see the discussion here). But because there is always a strong bias to stay limited to what the Constitution says and what the drafters meant, it provides a carefully circumscribed role for unelected judges, thus paying the maximum deference to democracy.

When a Court stops interpreting the meaning of the Constitution and starts to impose its own policy views under the color of a "living constitution," it transforms into a Politburo legislating by fiat. Judicial activists and the left who champions them are the people who see an activist Court as a way around democracy and an irreplaceable tool to remake society. . . .

Doug makes many good points in his post, and I urge you to read it. Most notable in his post was this warning from one of our founding fathers, James Madison:

Do not separate text from historical background. If you do, you will have perverted and subverted the Constitution, which can only end in a distorted, bastardized form of illegitimate government.

Truer words were never spoken.

The Constitution contains not one, but two methods by which we, the people, can amend the Constitution. Neither of those methods involve unelected judges deciding to amend our founding document per their whim. Left to their own devices, the Supreme Court has made radical changes to the very fabric of our nation over the past half century. The Supreme Court, unencumbered with any requirement to adhere to the intent of our founder, has been and remains the single greatest threat to the viability of our nation. The solution to this problem is simple, a law - or a Constitutional Amendment - limiting the discretion of judges deciding Constitutional questions to the original intent of the drafters and those who voted to approve our Constitution. That this was not included in Article III of the Constitution was a rare lack of foresight by the drafters of our Constitution.


Wednesday, January 26, 2011

GoProud, SoCons, The CPAC Boycott, & Homosexuality In Context

What is and should be the relationship between the conservative movement and conservative homosexuals? What should be the relationship between the conservative movement and homosexuality more generally? Those questions are implicated in the decision to invite GoProud to attend the CPAC conference and the decision by World Net Daily and the Family Research Council to boycot the event. It is also the subject of a post by Daniel Blatt of Gay Patriot. As he sees it:

While the fact that some groups are boycotting does show that that not all conservatives are willing to include their gay and lesbian confreres, overwhelmingly, conservative organizations don’t have a problem working together with gays in common purpose. And that purpose is reducing the size and scope of the federal government while standing up for basic American values, including the freedom to live our lives as we choose.

We may not agree with some of these organizations on all issues (nor they with us), but at least they welcome us into the conservative fold. And that really should be the takeaway from this kerfuffle, that the conservative movement is increasingly opening its doors to openly gay men and lesbians.

Well said and, I believe, very true.

One of the comments to Daniel's post caught my eye. It was from an Orthodox Rabbi who expounded on how he, as a social conservative, views homosexuality:

People of faith insist that homosexuality is the most serious of sins because the Bible calls it an abomination.

But the word appears approximately 122 times in the Bible. Eating nonkosher food is an abomination (Deuteronomy 14:3). A woman returning to her first husband after being married in the interim is an abomination (Deut. 24:4). And bringing a blemished sacrifice on God’s altar is an abomination (Deut. 17:1.). Proverbs goes so far as to label envy, lying and gossip as that which “the Lord hates and are an abomination to Him” (3:32, 16:22).

As an Orthodox rabbi who reveres the Bible, I do not deny the biblical prohibition on male same-sex relationships. Rather, I simply place it in context.

There are 613 commandments in the Torah. One is to refrain from gay sex. Another is for men and women to marry and have children. So when Jewish gay couples come to me for counselling and tell me they have never been attracted to the opposite sex in their entire lives and are desperately alone, I tell them, “You have 611 commandments left. That should keep you busy. Now, go create a kosher home with a mezuza on the door. Turn off the TV on the Sabbath and share your festive meal with many guests. Put on tefillin and pray to God three times a day, for you are His beloved children. He desires you and seeks you out.”

Once, I said to my friend Pat Robertson, whom I have always found engaging and open in our conversations, “Why can’t you simply announce to all gay men and women, ‘Come to church. Whatever relationship you’re in, God wants you to pray. He wants you to give charity. He wants you to lead a godly life.”

He answered to the effect that homosexuality is too important to overlook, seeing as it poses the most grave risk to the institution of marriage. Other Evangelical leaders have told me the same. Homosexuality is the single greatest threat to the family.

BUT WITH one of two heterosexual marriages failing, with 70 percent of the Internet dedicated to the degradation of women through pornography and with a culture that is materially insatiable even as it remains all-too spiritually content, can we straight people say with a straight face that gays are ruining our families? We’ve done a mighty fine job of it ourselves.

The extreme homophobia that is unfortunately to be found among many of my religious brothers and sisters – in many Arab countries being gay is basically a death sentence – stems from an even more fundamental misunderstanding of the nature of sin. The Ten Commandments were given on two tablets to connote two different kinds of transgression, religious and moral. The first tablet discusses religious transgressions between God and man, such as the prohibitions of idolatry, blasphemy and desecrating the Sabbath. The second tablets contains the moral sins between man and his fellow man, like adultery, theft, and murder.

The mistake of so many well-meaning people of faith is to believe that homosexuality is a moral rather than a religious sin. A moral sin involves injury to an innocent party. But who is being harmed when two, unattached, consenting adults are in a relationship? Rather, homosexuality is akin to the prohibition of lighting fire on the Sabbath or eating bread during Passover. There is nothing immoral about it, but it violates the divine will.

For the record, I am in favor of gay civil unions rather than marriage because I am against redefining marriage.

But I hardly believe that gay marriage is the end of Western civilization.

For me the real killer is the tsunami of divorce and the untold disruption to children as they become yo-yos going from house to house on weekends.

The American religious and electoral obsession with all-gay-marriage-all- the-time has led to a values-vacuum where it is near impossible to discuss real solutions to the erosion of family life. For instance, making marital counselling tax deductible would do infinitely more to bolster the crumbling institution of marriage than any opposition to gay relationships.

Likewise, promoting a code of gentlemanly conduct for men on American college campuses and negating the prevailing hook-up culture where sex even precedes dating could spark a return to romantic and long-term commitments.

Finally, getting more families to sign up for our international “Turn Friday Night into Family Night” would give children in general, and girls in particular, greater self-esteem as they are focused on by their parents for at least two hours each week without any electronic interference. And children with self-confidence later create stronger adult relationships.

I have numerous gay friends whose greatest fear, like so many straight people, is to end up alone. Should we merely throw the book at these people? Does not the same book, the Bible, also say, “It is not good for man to be alone?” And all I’m asking from my religious brethren is this: Even as you oppose gay relationships because of your beliefs, please be tortured by your opposition. Understand that when our most deeply held beliefs conflict with our basic humanity, we should feel the tragedy of the conflict, rather than simply find convenient scapegoats upon whom to blame all of America’s ills.

The writer is the author of Renewal: A Guide to the Values-Filled Life and is founder of This World: The Values Network, a national organization that promotes universal Jewish values to heal America. Follow him on Twitter@Rabbishmuley and at Subscribe to our Newsletter to receive news updates directly to your email

I think the Rabbi has it right - and his views closely track my own. And no reader of this blog could possible characterize me as anything other than a conservative whether fiscally, socially or in matters related to defense.

That said, someone's homosexuality is not my business nor the business of the state. Homosexuality defines one's sexual preferences, not their character nor the goodness of their soul, and it is only the latter two that add up an individual's benefit to society. I welcome anyone, regardless of sexual preference, into the conservative tent if they share conservative's concern with issues of freedom, democracy, fiscal sanity and defense.

I do have some significant reservations concerning the push for "gay rights." One, as a religious person, I disagree with sanctioning gay marriage, though I support the concept of gay unions. Two, as a former infantry officer and company commander, I disagree with lifting DADT on pragmatic grounds. Three, I get absolutely livid over attempts by the radical left to normalize homosexuality in grade school. And four, I get equally livid over using the police power of the state to suppress speech critical of homosexuality. Indeed, that last is particularly outrageous, as are all "hate speech" laws and policies.

Beyond those areas of disagreement that I might have with many homosexuals, including some conservtive homosexuals on points one and two I suspect, there are thousands of other points on which we may well agree. To your average left-wing single-issue homosexual, I would no doubt be described as a raging homophobe. To a conservative homosexual, I would no doubt be described as that short, intellectualy challenged guy that likes to talk politics with them over an ice cold beer or glass of home-made mead.

In any event, I am glad GoProud has been invited to CPAC. I am disgusted with social conservatives who are boycotting CPAC on those grounds, not because of their stance against homosexuality, but because of their cowardice. If there is a debate to be had on social issues, let it be in full sunlight under the conservative tent. Taking one's chips and going home is hiding from the debate, and that is something I only expect from the left.


On The Road To Economic Armageddon - New Record Deficit Spending

According to new CBO estimates, Obama has us on a path, in 2011, to spend $1.5 trillion of borrowed money. This from the Washinton Post:

This year's deficit would be the highest on record and would equal about 9.8 percent of the economy, the CBO said, slightly smaller than the 2009 budget gap, which at $1.4 trillion amounted to nearly 10 percent of the gross domestic product. However, at a time when policymakers had hoped to begin closing the gap between spending and revenue, the CBO forecast that it is widening again and is on track to remain well above $1 trillion in 2012, the fourth year in a row.

Obama will destroy us if he and his far left cohorts are not voted out in 2012.


SOTU 2011 Post-Game Analysis - Spend Spend Spend

To summarize Obama's SOTU, stay the course on spending and don't change the substance of the agenda. As Rand Paul noted, Obama still sees government as the solution to all of our problems (both real and imagined, I would add). If anyone heard in Obama's SOTU speech a move to the center, they were listening to the mellifluous tone of Obama's voice and not paying any attention to the lyrics of his siren song.

Obama stepped up to the teleprompter at a time when our economy is in deep trouble. Growth is tepid and far below where it should be coming out of a recession. A record forty one million people in the U.S. are on food stamps. Housing prices have sunk faster and lower than Katy Couric's Nielsen ratings. The cost of basic commodities - oil, gas and food - are going through the roof. Real unemployment, UH-6, is at 16.7% - and that is actually up from a year ago. So how does Obama address these problems in the opening of his SOTU speech? He puts a happy face on it:

“Two years after the worst recession most of us have ever known, the stock market has come roaring back. Corporate profits are up. The economy is growing again.”

It was a disingenuous start to a disingenuous speech.

Two days ago, I forecast what Obama would say in his State of the Union speech with fair accuracy. The majority of Obama's speech was given over to justifying more spending for his radical green agenda, to hire more teachers, and to pay for another stimulus under the guise of infrastructure spending. And when it came to deficit reduction, Obama tried to portray Obamacare as the heart of deficit reduction. To my surprise, he mentioned entitlements, but he did so only in passing. Obama also offered a freeze of entitlement spending in an act of symbolism over substance. Lastly, when it came to “reforming government,” Obama hyped reducing the regulatory burden, yet said nothing about the tsunami of regulations waiting in the wings.

To give the devil his due, Obama did make some very good proposals in his speech:

: Reforming the corporate tax – As a general principal, this is a positive step. Obama said he wants Congress to reduce our corporate tax from the current rate of 35%, the highest in the developed world. He did not propose a new rate, but said that any such reform should be “revenue neutral." That is bad news, as it means it will not promote growth. That said, if it means getting rid of ALL the subsidies that special interests have worked into our tax code, then great. But Obama made crystal clear that he wants to heavily subsidize his favored industries, particularly the green ones. So it would seem that Obama's call for tax reform may in reality be a backdoor way to soak businesses in America to fund Obama's version of crony capitalism. We have to see the details on this one.

: Medical Malpractice reform – this is incredibly important if we are ever to bend down the cost curve of medical expenses. I am glad that he mentioned it, but it is likely a red herring. The left, owned in part by the trial lawyers lobby, would sooner chew off their right arm than pass national med mal reform. To date, neither Obama nor Congressional Dems have shown the slightest interest in anything beyond lip service to med mal reform.

: Race to the Top – this relatively inexpensive program program, $4 billion, is in fact a good program aimed at encouraging reform in state educational systems. It deserves full support from both sides of the aisle.

: Earmarks – Obama announced that he won't sign any bills with earmarks in them – weeks after the House promised not to send him any bills with earmarks. This was like watching the movie Dragonslayer, where at the end of the flick, the King walks up to the recently slain dragon, puts his sword through it, and has himself proclaimed "King Casiodorus, Dragonslayer." What a tool.

: A Reorganization and streamlining of our regulatory agencies – On the surface, this sounds like a very good idea. But I suspect there will be an infinite number of devils in the details.

Okay, now on to the ridiculous assertions and other low points of the speech:

I. Innovation -

Obama called for “innovation,” using the symbolism of a “Sputnik moment,” the point when America turned its attention to manned space flight and a lunar landing. He then stated that government spending was a necessity for innovation and made clear that his main concern was funding his radical green agenda:

"This is our generation's Sputnik moment."

The irony here is amazing. Our efforts at manned space flight did pay a lot of dividends for America – velcro, teflon, robotics, scanning technology, and scratch resistant lenses to name just a few. Yet Obama, who now calls for a “Sputnik moment,” is the man who killed off our manned space program so that he could spend more money on Obamacare – no doubt to increase innovations in socialism.

Our free enterprise system is what drives innovation. But because it's not always profitable for companies to invest in basic research, throughout history our government has provided cutting-edge scientists and inventors with the support that they need . . .

Apparently our corporations are incapable of conducting research and coming up with ideas without government intervention and massive infusions of our tax dollars. One, Obama wants to pick winners and losers in our economy – he fully embraces crony capitalism. Two, the proposition that our scientists and businesses cannot innovate without government subsidies and direction is simply too ludicrous to seriously entertain. Perhaps Obama should do some research on the issue over his I-pad, or make a call to the patent office on his cell phone.

In a few weeks, I will be sending a budget to Congress that helps us meet that goal. We'll invest in biomedical research, information technology, and especially clean energy technology . . .

Already, we are seeing the promise of renewable energy. Robert and Gary Allen are brothers who run a small Michigan roofing company. After September 11th, they volunteered their best roofers to help repair the Pentagon. But half of their factory went unused, and the recession hit them hard.

Today, with the help of a government loan, that empty space is being used to manufacture solar shingles that are being sold all across the country. In Robert's words, "We reinvented ourselves."

The left destroyed our housing industry – and with it, many of the businesses involved in that industry. Yet Obama has the audacity to hold out two failed roofing manufacturers as shining icons of our new economy. These would be green entrepeneurs had the sense to take some of the massive government subsidies Obama is passing out like candy to open up a solar panel manufacturing plant. Solar power, which provides less than 1% of our energy needs and is not price competitive, is a massive boondoggle. Heavily subsidized solar power has nearly bankrupted Spain and is having negative impacts throughout every other economy in Europe. And the day the subsidies for solar power end in the U.S. is the day Robert and Gary Allen declare bankruptcy and close up shop.

With more research and incentives, we can break our dependence on oil with biofuels, and become the first country to have 1 million electric vehicles on the road by 2015.

One, electric cars are not going to lessen our dependence on fossil fuels. The electricity to run them has to be generated by . . . hint, its not unicorn excreta. Two, a major concern with electric cars is the destabilizing impact large numbers of these vehicles would have on our energy grid.

Biofuels are another major boondoggle (well, but see here). None have proven cost-effective at scale and, in the case of ethanol, Obama has us pitting fuel against food. Over a fourth of are farmland is now given over to producing fuel that is inefficient, expensive, ecologically worse for the environment than fossil fuels, and driving food prices to world records. It is insanity. And that is what Obama wants more of?

[J]oin me in setting a new goal: by 2035, 80% of America's electricity will come from clean energy sources. Some folks want wind and solar. Others want nuclear, clean coal, and natural gas. . . .

Is this guy nuts? We should be embracing nuclear power for the future of our electrical needs, but we haven't broken ground on a new nuclear plant in decades – and Obama insured that we wouldn't be doing it at any point in the future when he closed off our only nuclear waste repository. Clean coal is both untested and looks to be far too expensive. Wind and solar are absolute pipe dreams. The bottom line is that, if we are getting 80% of our electricity from “clean energy sources” by 2035, our nation will be broke and half of our nation will be blacked out.

And as predicted, Obama is continuing his brutal war on our domestic oil production:

We need to get behind this innovation. And to help pay for it, I'm asking Congress to eliminate the billions in taxpayer dollars we currently give to oil companies. I don't know if you've noticed, but they're doing just fine on their own. So instead of subsidizing yesterday's energy, let's invest in tomorrow's.

Regardless of Obama's radical green dreams, we aren't getting off oil at any point in the near future. Obama's policies will only make oil and gas prohibitively expensive in America and make us ever more dependent on foreign oil. In the not too distant future, that will prove catastrophic for our economy.

II. Education:

I said Obama would make a pitch for sending even more money into the black hole of public education, and lo and behold . . .

over the next ten years . . . we want to prepare 100,000 new teachers in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and math.

We desperately need better teachers in each of these areas. But the answer is not to hire more teachers – as I pointed our here, we know empirically that neither more teachers nor more per pupil spending have improved the quality of our science and math education. We need people competent in their fields and who perform well as teachers. To get there, we need to end the stranglehold of teachers unions on our public school system. Obama studiously ignored that point.

Obama's call for more teachers is nothing more than a push to further strengthen teachers unions and, thus, the Democratic Party. Expect this issue to be demagogued to the fullest over the coming months.

III. Illegal Aliens – Obama made a one paragraph pitch for amnesty. It was a shout out to the Hispanic Caucus.

IV. Infrastructure:

Over the last two years, we have begun rebuilding for the 21st century, a project that has meant thousands of good jobs for the hard-hit construction industry. Tonight, I'm proposing that we redouble these efforts.

Yeah, let's do that again since it worked so well in 2009 to help our economy. This is just Obama wanting to do more Keynesian spending without mentioning the word "stimulus."

V. Deficit Reduction:

Obama is a magician at deficit reduction - all misdirection and illusion. His points and proposals were one joke after another. Obama did as predicted, pointing to his regulatory review and Obamacare's fairy tale CBO numbers as "proof" that he is focused on deficit reduction.

Beyond that, Obama added a promise to freeze current discretionary spending – 7% of our spending – at current levels for five years in order to save $400 billion. Given that he increased discretionary spending by an incredible 20% over the past two years, that is like an alcoholic saying he won't pay for another drink after he just stocked a 5 year supply of rum.

Our deficit is over $14 trillion and is on a trajectory to hit a crisis number of $20 trillion in less than a decade. What we need is deficit reduction. What Obama offers instead is a slightly slower march to Armageddon. Not exactly a profile in leadership.

Obama did manage to work in a criticism of the right's proposal to save $2.5 trillion by actually reducing discretionary spending:

“let's make sure that we're not doing it on the backs of our most vulnerable citizens.”

Let there be no doubt of the new Democratic meme – any and all cuts proposed by the right will hurt the poor and/or the children.

That is just so insane. What poor people need are decent jobs, low fuel prices, low food prices and reasonable housing costs. EVERYTHING this administration is doing is falling heaviest on the poor. We are hemorrhaging good jobs, fuel and food are going through the roof, and housing is a mess. Obama and the left are the enemies of the poor. They give a little with the left hand and take away twice as much with the right.

VI. Entitlements:

Medicare, Medicaid and Obamacare

In the only prediction I got wrong, Obama did mention entitlement spending and the need to reform entitlements. He mentioned the need to make savings in Medicare and Medicaid, then segued into a claim that Obamacare would reduce the deficit. What he didn't say was that every bit of savings he just made in Medicare and Medicaid is being pumped into Obamacare. It was a shell game, just like the Obamacare CBO numbers.

Entitlements: Social Security

We should also find a bipartisan solution to strengthen Social Security for future generations. And we must do it without putting at risk current retirees, the most vulnerable, or people with disabilities; without slashing benefits for future generations; and without subjecting Americans' guaranteed retirement income to the whims of the stock market.

Someone explain to me how, under those conditions, any reform to Social Security is possible.

Charles Krauthammer, in his post-speech analysis, noted that Obama paid only lip service to entitlement reform, thus indicating that Obama would not initiate any effort at entitlement reform over the next two years and that any attempt by the right to do so would be demagogued. Bottom line, Obama has no intention of doing anything to reduce our deficit and is daring the right to even make an attempt.

VII: Foreign Policy:

Obama's comments on foreign policy seemed like they were appendix to his speech. We face real foreign policy challenges, but you wouldn't get any of that from the SOTU speech. Are we in the Afghan war to win it? Obama gave no answer. He did not address the problem of nuclear proliferation. The Middle East is on fire. Lebanon just became a satellite state of Iran. Iraq may yet become a satellite state of Iran. China is arming at an alarming rate to challenge us militarily. And what about Wikileaks and the greatest assault on our state secrets in the history of our nation? If you expected Obama to substantively address any of that, you were sorely mistaken. Obama considers foreign policy a mere annoyance. He sees himself as Clement Attlee, not Winston Churchill.

Conclusion: Two years ago, the general consensus was that Obama, if elected, would serve out Jimmy Carter's second term. That was overly optimistic. Obama makes the disastrous Carter seem a paragon of Presidential prudence and competence in comparison. 2012 can't get here fast enough.

Update: Patterico makes a great point:

Obama said . . . in the speech . . .:

The bipartisan Fiscal Commission I created last year made this crystal clear. I don’t agree with all their proposals, but they made important progress. And their conclusion is that the only way to tackle our deficit is to cut excessive spending wherever we find it – in domestic spending, defense spending, health care spending, and spending through tax breaks and loopholes.

(emphasis added).

You got that? When you are allowed to keep your money, that is considered “spending” by the Federal Government. Because in reality all of the fruits of your labor belong to us, the government.

Is it wrong to say it almost the attitude of a master toward his slaves? . . .

Also see the AP, that surprisingly has a passable fact check of SOTU: "The ledger did not appear to be adding up Tuesday night when President Barack Obama urged more spending on one hand and a spending freeze on the other."


Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Nonverbal Responses To Recently Voiced Democratic Concerns

One does not need an extensive vocabulary to respond appropriately to concerns recently voiced by Democrats. For example:

Having been swamped in the 2010 elections, particularly in state legislatures where Congressional redistricting will soon take place, it would seem that several Democrats now want to make redistricting "fairer" via federal control over state redistricting plans. The only approriate response:

And over in the House Oversight Committee, Dem. Rep. Elijah Cummings is demanding veto power over the Chairman Issa's use of subpoenas to investigate the Obama Administration. That one deserves an equal response:

Then in Virginia, where the Attorney General is investigating fraud by climate science charlatan Michael Mann, the Democrats are seeking to take away his subpoena power and scuttle the investigation. Let's call George Bush out of retirement for that response, since he resisted all attempts to regulate CO2 during his administration:

Indeed, responding appropriately requires few words indeed.


From The Religion Of Peace, A Call For Divine Genocide

Allah is the greatest.
He who thanks Allah will be rewarded.
Oh Allah, loosen your power and strength on the Jews.
Please Allah, kill them all…
And don’t leave any of them alive.
Oh Allah, with your great power. Allah!
We are asking you with your infinite power, dear Allah. Allah!
Please dear Allah, take revenge for our martyrs’ blood. Allah!
Please Allah, get rid of the Jews. . . .

Well, its obviously not the Lord's Prayer.

This prayer for divine genocide comes to us compliments of Hamas. It is in a film clip that is itself part of a much longer piece of Nazi-esque propaganda currently making its way around our college campuses.

As Robert at Seraphic Secret observes:

Here in America , fanned by media hysteria, we have been caught up in a faux argument about a faux issue about a faux climate of hate. In truth, it's the left trying to stifle free speech from their political opponents.

Genuine hate speech and incitement to murder Jews is what you see and hear in the Arab Muslim world every day and every hour of the week.

Well, they do vary the message a little in the Middle East. Sometimes they are just talking about mudering or jailing those who leave Islam.


Heh: Liberals, Free Speech & Journalism

I don't know who is making these videos, but they have a talent for observation and a wicked sense of humor. Enjoy.

(H/T Legal Insurrection)


New Ground Zero Mosque Imam A Paragon Of Enlightenment

From Seraphic Secret: For those who don't know, the majority position among Sunni Muslim clerics is that anyone who gives up the Islamic faith to join another should be put to death. Not so fast, says new Ground Zero Mosque Imam, Abdallah Adhami. They should not be beheaded, merely jailed - I assume until they repent, though this enlightened Imam did not specify. Tell me again, why are we treating purveyors of this Wahhabist screed as equal members of civilization? Actually, in Britain, they are treating the radicals as suprerior to their native population. Do see the horror story below, about multiculturalism gone mad.


The Madness Of The Brits

This from across the pond in the always interesting blog, Counting Cats in Zanzibar:

Eighty year old Muriel Clark of Hildenborough has caused quite a stir writing for her local church magazine, Hildenborough Keys. Here is what she wrote:


by Mrs. Muriel Clark

In view of the worldwide media interest in the fate of Mrs. Ashtiani in Iran, I am concerned about the ever increasing Islamisation of our own country, and think we should take a stand against:

a) uncontrolled immigration of Muslims whose birth rate exceeds that of other groups.

b) allowing Turkey to enter the EU with the inevitable consequence of the increase in our Muslim population.

c) establishment of non-integrated Islamic communities, including no-go areas to so-called infidels in our cities.

d) imposition of sharia laws, taking precedence over our legal and banking systems.

e) halal meat and dairy products stealthily introduced into our prisons, schools and shops.

f) the sometimes intense, and often subtle promotion of Islam in many primary schools in order to influence impressionable young minds.

If we are honest, we know about the oppression of Islamic regimes in Muslim lands, where infidels are not tolerated. Is that what we in Britain really want?

Despite the seeming lack of faith in our Christian heritage, even in sections of the Church nowadays, I am convinced that by far the majority do not welcome these undoubted pressures to bring our country into submission to Islam.

All fair comment. This lady has voiced what many people are thinking and was supported by the magazine’s editor, Nick Hawkins and the Reverend John Chandler. She is right to voice her concerns, after all we live in a country that values free speech.

Not so fast. It seems Ms. Clark has violated the "hate speech" codes of today's Britain, for which she now well may be facing official sanction at the request of the local politicians, including a local Tory (conservative party) functionary. It is disgusting, but all too emblamatic of the stranglehold the left has on Britain. For a long discussion of Britain's "hate speech" codes and Muslim problem, see here. This will not end well.