Saturday, May 29, 2010

Pelosi Singles Out Bush (Again)

The blame Bush modus operandi is still going strong with the cognoscenti of the left. The latest salvo comes from none other than Nancy Pelosi. From the Washington Examiner:
“Many of the people appointed in the Bush administration are still burrowed in the agencies that are supposed to oversee the [oil] industry,” Pelosi said when asked if Democrats could have prevented or mitigated the crisis by keeping a closer watch on the industry.

Added the Speaker, “the cozy relationships between the Bush administration’s agency leadership and the industry is clear…I’ve heard no complaints from my members about the way the president has handled it,” Pelosi stated.

Bush must be laughing at all of this. Note to Pelosi: It's no longer 2007. Seriously, there has to be some kind of catalogued, diagnosable complex that explains the democrats' unyielding obsession with Bush.

Spill Seepage

From the Telegraph:
George W Bush's unpopularity and perceived incompetence was encapsulated by the way he dealt with the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Candidate Obama branded it "unconscionable incompetence".

Central to Obama's appeal was his promise to be truly different. His failure to achieve that is now at the core of the deep disappointment Americans feel about him. At the press conference - the first full-scale affair he had deigned to give for 309 days - he appeared uncomfortable and petulant.

His approach to the issue was that of the law student suddenly fascinated by a science project. He displayed none of the visceral indignation Americans feel about pretty much everything these days - two-thirds now say they are "angry" about the way things are going - resorting instead to Spock-like technocratic language and legalese. "I'm not contradicting my prior point," he stated at one juncture. During those 63 minutes of soporific verbosity, about 800 barrels of oil poured into the Gulf.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Liberalism and Spills

Some conservatives are rightly cautioning the right about placing too much blame on the president for the BP spill. After all, accidents do happen, whether on a republican's watch or a democrat's. That said, I think the reason most people on the right are annoyed is that we remember all too clearly how eager, bordering on the obsessive, the left (and Obama) was to link the Katrina aftermath to President Bush. Some even went so far as to suggest that latent racism on the part of Bush was the real explanation for the administration's supposedly lackadaisical response to the hurricane. Anyway, Peggy Noonan makes a good point here. The analogy she offers between the images of the gushing oil from underwater and the out of control spending flowing out of Washington under Obama is particularly salient.
I wonder if the president knows what a disaster this is not only for him but for his political assumptions. His philosophy is that it is appropriate for the federal government to occupy a more burly, significant and powerful place in America—confronting its problems of need, injustice, inequality. But in a way, and inevitably, this is always boiled down to a promise: "Trust us here in Washington, we will prove worthy of your trust." Then the oil spill came and government could not do the job, could not meet need, in fact seemed faraway and incapable: "We pay so much for the government and it can't cap an undersea oil well!"

Places to Drill

Charles Krauthammer asks some reasonable questions about drilling in his piece that appears on National Review Online:
Here’s my question: Why are we drilling in 5,000 feet of water in the first place?

Many reasons, but this one goes unmentioned: Environmental chic has driven us out there. As production from the shallower Gulf of Mexico wells declines, we go deep (1,000 feet and more) and ultra deep (5,000 feet and more), in part because environmentalists have succeeded in rendering the Pacific and nearly all the Atlantic coast off-limits to oil production. (President Obama’s tentative, selective opening of some Atlantic and offshore Alaska sites is now dead.) And of course, in the safest of all places, on land, we’ve had a 30-year ban on drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge...

There will always be catastrophic oil spills. You make them as rare as humanly possible, but where would you rather have one: in the Gulf of Mexico, upon which thousands depend for their livelihood, or in the Arctic, where there are practically no people? All spills seriously damage wildlife. That’s a given. But why have we pushed the drilling from barren areas to populated ones, from the remote wilderness to a center of fishing, shipping, tourism, and recreation?

Thursday, May 27, 2010

White House Quid Pro Quo

From ABCNews:
In a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder today, all seven Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee "urge the appointment of a special prosecutor to investigate Congressman Joe Sestak's claim that a White House official offered him a job to induce him to exit the Pennsylvania Senate primary race against Senator Arlen Specter."

The seven – Sens. Jeff Sessions of Alabama, Orrin Hatch of Utah, Chuck Grassley of Iowa, Jon Kyl or Arizona, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, John Cornyn of Texas and Tom Coburn of Oklahoma – allege that the offer would appear to violate federal criminal laws, including 18 U.S.C. 600, which prohibits promising a government position “as consideration, favor, or reward for any political activity” or “in connection with any primary election or political convention or caucus held to select candidates for any political office.”

Rep. Sestak, D-Penn., who defeated Specter in the primary last week, told Comcast’s Larry Kane in February that the White House had offered him a position in exchange for not challenging Specter.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010


From Politico:
President Barack Obama is on the defensive over his presidential multitasking, for refusing to scrub his schedule of events that seem peripheral — even trivial — compared with the unfolding catastrophe in the Gulf of Mexico.

As oozing oil fouls Louisiana’s marshes, Obama has committed to maintaining the semblance of a regular schedule, adhering to his walk-and-chew-gum style of crisis management even as criticism of his administration mounts.

That includes a sit-down to talk hoops with Marv Albert, events touting the stimulus and Duke’s basketball team, a Memorial Day appearance in Illinois and a pair of fundraisers in California that roughly overlapped with a memorial service for 11 workers killed in the April 20 explosion on the Deepwater Horizon platform...

“There are times and places where his cool, technocratic mastery is a great blessing. ... But, ideology aside, what do you think [President Ronald] Reagan would have done in this situation? He’d be down there. Look at [Louisiana Gov. Bobby] Jindal. ... It is puzzling, the detachment,” said one veteran Democratic strategist, a frequent defender of Obama.

“I just cringe at the specter of the president doing a political fundraiser in San Francisco during the memorial service instead of going to the memorial service,” the person added. “He was sure there for the coal miners in West Virginia; he spoke at their funerals. That juxtaposition can’t be good.”

Some disappointed followers are slowly perceiving that their hallowed image of "the one" does not, in reality, square up to the man himself. Just as with his candidacy, Obama's entire presidency is nothing but an interminable exhibition of elaborate, glossy packaging gimmicks set in motion years ago in order to avoid being exposed as the radical he truly is.

Death of a (Bad) Dream

From Victor Davis Hanson, writing for National Review Online:
The new world order as envisioned by Obama in January 2009 was, I think, supposed to look something like the following: A social-democratic America would come to emulate the successful welfare states in the European Union. These twin Western communitarian powers would together usher in a new world order in which no one nation was to be seen as preeminent. All the old nasty ideas of the 20th century — military alliances, sovereign borders, independent international finance, nuclear arms, religious and cultural chauvinism — would fall by the wayside, as the West was reinvented as part of the solution rather the problem it had been in its days of colonialism, imperialism, and exploitation. A new green transnationalism would assume the place of that bad old order, a transnationalism run by elite, highly educated, and socially conscious technocrats — albeit themselves Western — supported by a progressive press more interested in effecting social change than in merely reporting the tawdry news.

Obama can still push that story, but more and more Americans disagree with his 21st-century vision. Stuck in the past, they instead believe that capitalism, not socialism, brings prosperity; that to reach a green future we need to survive for now in a carbon and nuclear present; that all, not some, laws must be enforced; that our country is different from others and needs to maintain the integrity of its borders; and that there are always going to be a few bad actors abroad who must be deterred rather than appeased.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Westpoint Blues

Thoughts from Arthur Herman on President Obama's bland address to graduates at Westpoint, who were notably tepid in their reception of the man.
On Saturday, Pres. Barack Obama gave a commencement speech at the United States Military Academy at West Point, which in effect told the thousand or so soon-to-be second lieutenants that, if he has his way, they’ll soon be out of a job.

Obama outlined for the cadets his vision of a new international order organized around bodies such as the United Nations. In Obama’s future, American military force will give way to American diplomacy joined together with new multilateral partnerships, while “stronger international standards and institutions” will replace unilateral assertion of national interests — including our own. Obama told West Point’s Class of 2010 that he sees them not battling our enemies but “combating a changing climate and sustaining global growth, [and] helping countries feed themselves” even as their citizens achieve their “universal rights.”

Arizona and the Importance of Reading

The Poll's Toll

From Rasmussen:
Support for repeal of the new national health care plan has jumped to its highest level ever. A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 63% of U.S. voters now favor repeal of the plan passed by congressional Democrats and signed into law by President Obama in March.

Prior to today, weekly polling had shown support for repeal ranging from 54% to 58%.

Currently, just 32% oppose repeal.

Government Bubble

Newt Gingrich offers his take on the not-so-sunny economic outlook for the United States:
The economic collapse of Greece is a wake-up call. The unsustainable combination of a bloated public bureaucracy, high deficit spending and unfunded pension obligations busted Greece's government bubble. Now the birthplace of modern democracy is on the brink of becoming a failed state.

The Bank of England recently warned that the U.S. is on the road to the same fiscal failure as Greece, and the Obama administration's insistence on massive public spending and increasing deficits is the reason.

At this rate, the U.S. government will be the next economic bubble to burst. We've seen similar downturns: the information technology bubble in 2000, housing in 2007 and Wall Street in 2008. If unchecked, America's government bubble will depress our economy with higher interest rates and defaulting state and local governments.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Remembering Daniel Pearl

A brilliant piece by Mark Steyn:
Like a lot of guys who've been told they're brilliant one time too often, President Obama gets a little lazy, and doesn't always choose his words with care. And so it was that he came to say a few words about Daniel Pearl, upon signing the "Daniel Pearl Press Freedom Act." Pearl was decapitated on video by jihadist Muslims in Karachi on Feb. 1, 2002. That's how I'd put it. This is what the president of the United States said:

"Obviously, the loss of Daniel Pearl was one of those moments that captured the world's imagination because it reminded us of how valuable a free press is."

Now Obama's off the prompter, when his silver-tongued rhetoric invariably turns to sludge. But he's talking about a dead man here, a guy murdered in public for all the world to see. Furthermore, the deceased's family is standing all around him. And, even for a busy president, it's the work of moments to come up with a sentence that would be respectful, moving and true. Indeed, for Obama, it's the work of seconds, because he has a taxpayer-funded staff sitting around all day with nothing to do but provide him with that sentence.

Instead, he delivered the one above, which in its clumsiness and insipidness is most revealing. First of all, note the passivity: "The loss of Daniel Pearl." He wasn't "lost." He was kidnapped and beheaded. He was murdered on a snuff video. He was specifically targeted, seized as a trophy, a high-value scalp. And the circumstances of his "loss" merit some vigor in the prose. Yet Obama can muster none.

Running the Show

From Reuters:
Clinton avoids China disputes, hands out teddy bears

(Reuters) - Secretary of State Hillary Clinton passed out teddy bears to Chinese children as she toured the Shanghai World Expo on Saturday and carefully skirted the United States' many policy disputes with China.

At the start of a four-day visit whose centerpiece will be talks in Beijing about strategic and economic matters, Clinton spent a misty morning at the Expo, an emblem of China's rise on the world stage.

Dressed in a powder blue jacket to match the Expo's plump, cartoonish mascot, Clinton walked through the U.S. and Chinese national "pavilions" shaking hands, posing for pictures and talking up the importance of people-to-people ties.

She avoided any public discussion of the issues that will occupy her in Beijing, including North Korea's suspected sinking of a South Korean warship, Iran's nuclear program, and U.S. calls for China to allow its currency to appreciate.


Things to Come

From the Associated Press:
HONOLULU – A Honolulu city councilman has defeated two Democrats to give Republicans a midterm election victory in the U.S. congressional district where President Barack Obama grew up.

Charles Djou's win Saturday is the latest triumph for the GOP as it looks to take back control of Congress. And it came as a blow to Democrats who could not rally around a candidate and find away to win a congressional race that should have been a cakewalk. The seat had been held by a Democrat for nearly 20 years and is located where Obama was born and spent most of his childhood.

"This is a momentous day. We have sent a message to the United States Congress. We have sent a message to the national Democrats. We have sent a message to the machine," Djou said. "The congressional seat is not owned by one political party. This congressional seat is owned by the people."

Friday, May 21, 2010

Fixing the Books

More from the goings on in Texas regarding the pending revision of school text books. From ABCNews:
The 15-member board dominated by conservative Republicans is expected to reject calls for a delay and move forward on establishing new standards for textbooks and teaching history, economics and other civics classes that will take effect in August, 2011.

The new standards call for a greater focus on the Biblical and Christian traditions of the founding fathers. It also calls for the teaching of free market principles, how government taxation and regulation can serve as restrictions to private enterprise [isn't that obvious?], and emphasizes the achievements of Republican leaders, including former President Ronald Reagan [the defeat of Communism was a fairly big deal, after all] and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich.

The new curriculum also states that the system of the U.S. government be called a "Constitutional Republic" rather than a "Democratic society." Additionally, it inserts a "Celebrate Freedom Week" during which Texas students will study the importance of the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution.

And this is controversial? Because liberals have succeeded so remarkably in their revisionist history crusade of the past forty years, any motion to undo the knot is lambasted as controversial.

Euro's End?

Jeff Randall, writing for The Telegraph offers an interesting look at the economic crisis facing the European Union.
The euro has many flaws, but its weakest link is Greece, whose fundamental problem is that for years it spent too much, earned too little and plugged the gap by borrowing in order to enjoy a rich man's lifestyle. It flouted EU rules on the limits to budget deficits; its national accounts were a moussaka of minced statistics, topped with a cheesy sauce of jiggery-pokery.

By any legitimate measure, Greece was unworthy of eurozone membership. That it achieved card-carrying status was down to the sleight-of-hand skills of its Brussels fixers and the acquiescence of central bank bean-counters. Now we know the truth, jet-hosing it with yet more debt makes no sense. Another dose of funny money will delay but not extinguish the need for austerity.

Iran Rises, Obama Falters

Charles Krauthammer, writing for National Review Online, discusses the consequences of Obama's impotent foreign policy in the context of the uranium deal struck between Iran, Brazil and Turkey:
...the deeper meaning of the uranium-export stunt is the brazenness with which Brazil and Turkey gave cover to the mullahs’ nuclear ambitions and deliberately undermined U.S. efforts to curb Iran’s program.

The real news is that already notorious photo: the president of Brazil, our largest ally in Latin America, and the prime minister of Turkey, for more than half a century the Muslim anchor of NATO, raising hands together with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the most virulently anti-American leader in the world.

That picture — a defiant, triumphant “take that” to Uncle Sam — is a crushing verdict on the Obama foreign policy. It demonstrates how rising powers, traditional American allies, having watched this administration in action, have decided that there’s no cost to lining up with America’s enemies and no profit in lining up with a U.S. president given to apologies and appeasement.

They’ve watched President Obama’s humiliating attempts to appease Iran, as every rejected overture is met with abjectly renewed U.S. negotiating offers. American acquiescence reached such a point that the president was late, hesitant, and flaccid in expressing even rhetorical support for democracy demonstrators who were being brutally suppressed and whose call for regime change offered the potential for the most significant U.S. strategic advance in the region in 30 years.


Thursday, May 20, 2010

Anyone else totally disgusted that the president of Mexico, while a guest in this nation, has been routinely lighting into Arizona? Worthy of singular contempt is the sanctimonious lecture that he gave congress today regarding the Arizona law (supported overwhelmingly by Arizonans), with Democrats all too eager to give him a hearty, fist-pumping ovation.

Question: What kind of people are running this country?

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Hitting the Books

AUSTIN, Texas - Is Texas on the verge of rewriting history, or just correcting it?

The answer depends on whom you listen to on the state’s Board of Education, which is poised to vote this week on new social-studies curriculum standards that could significantly shape what Texas children — and perhaps those outside the nation's second-largest state — are taught in the classroom.

Social conservatives on the 15-member Republican-dominated board are optimistic they will be able to push through curriculum changes that, according to board member and conservative Texas lawyer Cynthia Noland Dunbar, “promote patriotism.”

Among the recommendations facing a final vote: adding language saying the country's Founding Fathers were guided by Christian principles and including positive references to the Moral Majority, the National Rifle Associationand the GOP’s Contract with America.

Other amendments to the state's curriculum standards for kindergarten through 12th grade would minimize Thomas Jefferson's role in world and U.S. history because he advocated the separation of church and state; require that students learn about "the unintended consequences" of affirmative action; assert that "the right to keep and bear arms" is an important element of a democratic society; and rename the slave trade to the "Atlantic triangular trade.”

Well, Jefferson didn't "advocate the separation of church and state" in the manner that is commonly (mis)understood today, so I'm not sure that it's wise to pluck him from the important events of the day. Why not just teach the truth about what the founders thought regarding the role of religion in the public realm? Jefferson himself made Washington's Farewell Address, which singles out religion and morality as indispensable pillars in society, required reading at the University of Virginia.

Toxic Influence

Arlen Specter: he tried and failed.

From the Associated Press:
WASHINGTON – Voters rejected one of President Barack Obama's hand-picked candidates and forced another into a runoff, the latest sign that his political capital is slipping beneath a wave of anti-establishment anger.

Sen. Arlen Specter became the fourth Democrat in seven months to lose a high-profile race despite the president's active involvement, raising doubts about Obama's ability to help fellow Democrats in this November's elections.

The first three candidates fell to Republicans. But Specter's loss Tuesday to Rep. Joe Sestak in Pennsylvania's Democratic senatorial primary cast doubts on Obama's influence and popularity even within his own party — and in a battleground state, no less.

Specter's exit is cause for universal jubilation. Probably the most unprincipled and shamelessly Machiavellian of all senators (and, considering the competition, that's saying something), his departure is long overdue. Conservatives, celebrate this evening with a round of drinks.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Greek and EU Ways

George Will, writing for The Washington Post:
The 1648 Peace of Westphalia, which ended the Thirty Years' War, ratified Europe's emerging system of nation-states. Since the end of the Thirty-One Years' War (1914-1945), European elites have worked at neutering Europe's nationalities. Greece's debt crisis reveals this project's intractable contradictions, and the fragility of Western Europe's postwar social model -- omniprovident welfare states lacking limiting principles.

Greece represents a perverse aspiration -- a society with (in the words of Wisconsin Republican Rep. Paul Ryan) "more takers than makers," more people taking benefits from government than there are people making goods and services that produce the social surplus that funds government. By socializing the consequences of Greece's misgovernment, Europe has become the world's leading producer of a toxic product -- moral hazard. The dishonesty and indiscipline of a nation with 2.6 percent of the eurozone's economic product have moved nations with the other 97.4 percent -- and the United States and the International Monetary Fund -- to say, essentially: The consequences of such vices cannot be quarantined, so we are all hostages to one another and hence no nation will be allowed to sink beneath the weight of its recklessness.

Recklessness will proliferate.

"The coining of money," said William Blackstone more than two centuries ago, "is in all states the act of the sovereign power."...

If money represents, as Emerson said, the prose of life, the euro reflects a determination to make European life prosaic. It is an attempt to erase nationalities and subsume politics in economics in order to escape from European history. The euro pleases dispirited people for whom European history is not Chartres and Shakespeare but the Holocaust and the Somme. The euro expresses cultural despair.

Letting Go of Holder

An excellent piece from Investor's Business Daily that explains why the feckless and endlessly embarrassing Attorney General Eric Holder (the same man who claimed that America is a "nation of cowards" when it comes to discussing race) should be given the boot:
Competence: Stumbling from one gaffe to another and showing little appreciation for our Constitution, Attorney General Eric Holder has become a major embarrassment. Time to admit he's in over his head and let him go.

We were never big fans of the AG, but like many others, we had hoped our misgivings were wrong and that he'd be successful as the nation's top law enforcement officer. Sorry to say, he hasn't been.

Events in recent days and weeks show that Holder has little if any understanding of our nation's most precious asset, the Constitution, and seems oblivious to the actual requirements of his job.

An appearance before the House Judiciary Committee last week illustrates the problem. Holder told the panel that Justice Department decisions "are done in a political way." Thanks for the honesty, but that's not what the job requires.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

N. Korea

John Bolton offers his characteristically prescient take on the happenings in North Korea. From the New York Daily News:
North Korean dictator Kim Jong Il has now left Beijing and returned home after a typically secretive visit, his first trip abroad in four years. Kim's last trip was also to China, the North's dominant benefactor; his core mission was undoubtedly to ensure continued Chinese support for his ironfisted rule.

Also undoubtedly central was North Korea's nuclear weapons program. President Obama has been silent for many long months on Pyongyang's continuing nuclear threat, but silence does not equal good news. Although "all quiet" on the North Korean nuclear front might seem to indicate that the menace is receding, precisely the opposite is true.

November Begins Now

From National Review Online:
On Tuesday, West Virginia Democratic primary voters ousted an incumbent who has been in the House since 1983 — partly because of his vote for Obamacare. That legislation is also at issue in a special election this month for a Pennsylvania House seat the Democrats have held since 1974. In that race, both candidates say they opposed the passage of Obamacare, but the Republican is running to the Democrat’s right by saying that he will vote to repeal it.

The message from these campaigns: Opposition to Obamacare is a winning cause. But House Republicans are not yet doing enough to capitalize on the discontent in order to elect Republicans to office and, more important, raise the likelihood of an eventual repeal. The House Republican leadership ought to get behind a simple, one-sentence bill to repeal Obamacare — now.

The Governor

Gov. Jan Brewer is quickly becoming my favorite governor in the United States. Few leaders would have the temerity to sign a bill into law banning courses in "ethnic studies," which is nothing more than cloaked language for anti-American, anti-Western indoctrination in our schools. Watch the left go into conniptions over this one. From CNN:
(CNN) -- Fresh on the heels of a new immigration law that has led to calls to boycott her state, Arizona's governor has signed a bill banning ethnic studies classes that "promote resentment" of other racial groups.

Gov. Jan Brewer approved the measure without public statement Tuesday, according to state legislative records. The new law forbids elementary or secondary schools to teach classes that are "designed primarily for pupils of a particular ethnic group" and advocate "the overthrow of the United States government" or "resentment toward a race or class of people."

The bill was pushed by state school Superintendent Tom Horne, who has spent two years trying to get Tucson schools to drop a Mexican-American studies program he said teaches Latino students they are an oppressed minority. There was no immediate response from the Tucson Unified School District, the law's main target.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Spasms of a "Catholic" University

From the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Online:
Milwaukee Archbishop Jerome Listecki and the judicial vicar for the Archdiocese of Milwaukee separately raised red flags over Marquette's hiring of a Seattle University professor as Arts and Sciences dean.

Listecki called Marquette President Father Robert A. Wild about the university's offer to Jodi O'Brien after receiving calls from clergy and lay leaders, the archbishop's spokeswoman said.

Also expressing concerns about O'Brien's appointment was Father Paul Hartmann, the archdiocese's judicial vicar. Hartmann sent a March 3 letter to the chair of the search committee that said the gender studies professor "pursues subject matter that seems destined to actually create dichotomies and cause tensions (if not contradictions) with Marquette's Catholic mission and identity."...

Marquette said last week that it rescinded its offer to O'Brien, a lesbian who has written extensively on issues of gender and sexual orientation, saying she was not a good fit with the university's Catholic mission and identity.

Let there be no doubt that, had there not been an eruption of outrage over this scandal, Marquette, as always far more concerned with money and prestige than with preserving any shred of Catholic identity, would have gone along with the hiring of O'Brien.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Kagan Follow-up

Kagan: a mirror image of Obama

Republicans should do whatever they can (however ineffectual that may be in the end, given their numbers and RINOs like Collins and Snowe) to derail the Kagan nomination. Maggie Gallagher offers some potent reasons for this.
A vote for Elena Kagan is a vote for “marriage equality,” which features in two key cases that will shortly be before the Supreme Court: Perry v. Schwarzenegger, which arises out of California’s Prop 8 but will apply to all 50 states, since it seeks to establish a federal constitutional right to gay marriage; and Gill et al. v. Office of Personnel Management, which seeks “only” to overturn the federal laws defining marriage as one man and one woman.

There has been an effort to obfuscate Kagan’s position on gay marriage using statements she made when nominated to be solicitor general, but these efforts are all either sad or laughable. Take, for instance, this Cornell law professor: He pretends to believe that, when Kagan stated that she has never taken a public position on whether the Constitution ought to be read as protecting gay marriage, she somehow meant that she believes the question should be left up to the political process. This is shameful to the author; he must know better.

Earlier today, I scanned a few mainstream media stories on Kagan's background and most, predictably, focused on her knack for "bringing people together". Have any conservative nominees ever been described in this manner?

In any event, one silver lining for the right is that the late-summer hearings are sure to galvanize the conservative movement in the run-up to the November midterms.

Not Again

Few things are more off-putting than watching this cocksure president fill vacancies to the Supreme Court for lifetime positions, especially when his party holds 59 seats in the Senate. A bitter pill indeed.

November '10 can't arrive fast enough.

Saturday, May 08, 2010

The PC War on America

S.E. Cupp looks at the perils of caving to the demands of political correctness when dealing with Islamic extremism and also the double standard employed when Christians are involved. From CNN:
The reluctance by the media and the government to acknowledge Islamic extremism -- is responsible for the deaths at Fort Hood, and the nearly successful attempts by Abdul Mutallab and Shahzad.

Even after we knew Shahzad was an Islamic terrorist, MSNBC host Contessa Brewer expressed her disappointment, suggesting some of us actually wanted him to be Muslim so we could revel in our bigotry: "There are a lot of people who want to use terrorist intent to justify writing off people who believe in a certain way or come from certain countries or whose skin color is a certain way."

Bending over backward to redefine Islamic terrorism, and equate violence with Christian conservatism, has become a favorite pastime of some in the press. Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson was one of many to forego the kind of kid-glove caution used to handle Hasan and Shahzad in favor of sweeping mischaracterizations about the Hutaree, arguing that "there has been explosive growth among far-right, militia-type groups that identify themselves as white supremacists, 'constitutionalists,' tax protesters and religious soldiers determined to kill people to uphold 'Christian' values."

He also incorrectly claims that "for the most part, far-left violence in this country has gone the way of the leisure suit and the AMC Gremlin."

Wishful thinking. There was the vandalism against Mormon temples after gay marriage was rejected in California, an episode that got almost no media coverage. And reports of death threats to Maine pro-family leader Mike Heath after a gay marriage vote in Maine. And legislator Jim Bunning reported getting death threats for his conservative position. Environmentalists and animal rights groups have taken to arson over the past decade to promote their left-wing agendas.

Our safety and security are being jeopardized every day because of cowardly political correctness, anti-Christian messages in the media, distracting semantic arguments over definitions and titles, the Obama administration's naïve, Montessori-school foreign policy, and a national security policy that hamstrings the American intelligence community from effectively pursuing threats. It's a double standard that is costing us lives.

Friday, May 07, 2010

The Four Ways

Writing for Reuters, James Pethokoukis presents a concise look at the root causes of the financial crisis.
1) Credit Ratings Agencies. While the crisis does not have a single cause, the behavior of the credit rating agencies is a defining characteristic. It is impossible to imagine the current crisis without the activities of the NRSROs. And, it is difficult to imagine the behavior of the NRSROs without the regulations that permitted, protected, and encouraged their activities. … Rather the evidence is most consistent with the view that regulatory policies and Congressional laws protected and encouraged the behavior of NRSROs.

2) Credit Default Swaps. I am suggesting that the evolution of the CDS market, the fragility of the banks, and the Fed’s capital rules illustrate a key feature of the financial crisis that is frequently ignored. The problems with CDSs and bank capital were not a surprise in 2008; there was ample warning that things were going awry. Senior government policymakers created policies that encouraged excessive risk taking by bankers and adhered to those policies over many years even as they learned about the ramifications of their policies.

3) The SEC and Investment Banks. Consider three interrelated SEC decisions regarding the regulation of investment banks. First, the SEC in 2004 exempted the five largest investment banks from the net capital rule, which was a 1975 rule for computing minimum capital standards at broker- dealers. Second, in a related, coordinated 2004 policy change, the SEC enacted a rule that induced the five investment banks to become “consolidated supervised entities” (CSEs): The SEC would oversee the entire financial firm. Specifically, the SEC now had responsibility for supervising the holding company, broker-dealer affiliates, and all other affiliates on a consolidated basis. Third, the SEC neutered its ability to conduct consolidated supervision of major investment banks. … The combination of these three policies contributed to the onset, magnitude, and breadth of the financial crisis. The SEC’s decisions created enormous latitude and incentives for investment banks to increase risk, and they did.

4) Fannie and Freddie. Deterioration in the financial condition of the GSEs was not a surprise. … But, Congress did not respond and allowed increasingly fragile GSEs to endanger the entire financial system. It is difficult to discern why. Some did not want to jeopardize the increased provision of affordable housing. Many received generous financial support from the GSEs in return for their protection. For the purposes of this paper, the critical issue is that policymakers did not respond as the GSEs became systemically fragile. Again, I am not arguing that the timing, extent, and full nature of the housing bubble were perfectly known. I am arguing that policymakers created incentives for massive risk-taking by the GSEs and then did not respond to information that this risk-taking threatened the financial system.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Catholic but...

I just came across a news story showing off this catchy title: "Many Catholics Loyal to Church, Not the Vatican". At the moment, time is rather sparse to comment on this nonsense at any length, but it demonstrates the popular move by so many out there to drive a permanent wedge between the Catholic faith and the pope. Predictable fare coming from those who don't want to be reminded that they're supposed to live a certain way.

It reminds me of a humorous line Christopher Buckley once made. I'm going from of memory here but it went something like this:

"I love these Catholics who say, 'I'm Catholic, but I don't need the pope to tell me what to do, I don't need the bishops, and I don't need the priests, and so on', and by the time they're finished, you want to hand them an entry card to the Unitarian church."

Eyes on Pakistan

From Sadanand Dhume, writing for The Wall Street Journal:
Monday night's arrest of Faisal Shahzad, a 30-year-old Pakistani-American accused of planting a car bomb in Times Square on Saturday, will undoubtedly stoke the usual debate about how best to keep America safe in the age of Islamic terrorism. But this should not deflect us from another, equally pressing, question. Why do Pakistan and the Pakistani diaspora churn out such a high proportion of the world's terrorists?

Indonesia has more Muslims than Pakistan. Turkey is geographically closer to the troubles of the Middle East. The governments of Iran and Syria are immeasurably more hostile to America and the West. Yet it is Pakistan, or its diaspora, that produced the CIA shooter Mir Aimal Kasi; the 1993 World Trade Center bomber Ramzi Yousef (born in Kuwait to Pakistani parents); 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed; Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl's kidnapper, Omar Saeed Sheikh; and three of the four men behind the July 2005 train and bus bombings in London...

Pakistan was carved out of the Muslim-majority areas of British India in 1947, the world's first modern nation based solely on Islam. The country's name means "Land of the Pure." The capital city is Islamabad. The national flag carries the Islamic crescent and star. The cricket team wears green.

From the start, the new country was touched by the messianic zeal of pan-Islamism. The Quranic scholar Muhammad Asad—an Austrian Jew born Leopold Weiss—became an early Pakistani ambassador to the United Nations. The Egyptian Said Ramadan, son-in-law of Muslim Brotherhood founder Hassan al-Banna, made Pakistan a second home of sorts and collaborated with Pakistan's leading Islamist ideologue, the Jamaat-e-Islami's Abul Ala Maududi. In 1949, Pakistan established the world's first transnational Islamic organization, the World Muslim Congress. Mohammad Amin al-Husayni, the virulently anti-Semitic grand mufti of Jerusalem, was appointed president.

Through alternating periods of civilian and military rule, one thing about Pakistan has remained constant—the central place of Islam in national life. In the 1960s, Pakistan launched a war against India in an attempt to seize control of Kashmir, the country's only Muslim-majority province, one that most Pakistanis believe ought to be theirs by right.